§ 11.6 a.m.
§ Sir Charles Taylor (Eastbourne)
I beg to move,That this House is of the opinion that the costs of educational services should be more widely spread so that an unfair burden shall not fall upon ratepayers in areas where there are few industries or industrial premises and an undue proportion of retired people; that cadet corps should be encouraged in public, grammar and secondary modern schools; and that a modern approach is needed to various other aspects of education.My Motion today is rather like Gaul, in that it is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the cost of education and who should pay; the second with the provision of cadet corps; and the third widens the scope of the Motion so that we may all refer to other matters connected with education.
Before the new rating assessments were announced in my constituency last year, I think that nobody had realised how sharply the assessments would rise and, in consequence, how sharply the rate would rise. In some cases the amounts paid because of the increased assessments and increased rates were something like three times as much as before. In addition, a further increase in rates was found to be necessary by the local authority this year.
My constituency and others on the South and South-East Coast cater for holiday makers. Because of the need to preserve the local amenities, the beaches, the downs and the lovely country round about—all the lovely things which are provided for us when we are in search of rest and recreation—there are very few factory chimneys or other industrial buildings spoiling the countryside.
In addition to catering for holiday makers, the constituency contains many who have served the community as sailors, soldiers or airmen, both at home and abroad, civil servants and business men 778 who have retired to live in the south of England. In the main, these people have paid for the education of their children and have contributed their part to the educational services of the country. They have done their bit, and they rightly resent the additional expense put on them in the days of their retirement.
We all know that the greatest part of the burden on the ratepayers is due to the cost of the educational service. In such places as Eastbourne an unfair proportion falls upon the ratepayer in this respect. The Rating (Interim Relief) Act, for which we were grateful, was designed only as a measure to relieve some of the worst casts, but it only scratches the surface of the problem.
During the summer I believe that the Government are to receive a report about the whole rating system. Therefore, I welcome the opportunity of today's debate, because I want to have the opportunity of making clear what I and other Members of Parliament believe should be done, particularly in constituencies of a rather exceptional nature, such as those we represent.
First, I believe that the burden of the rates should be spread far more widely. The burden of the cost of education should be spread more widely. For example, why should a 25-year-old living at home, perhaps earning over £20 a week, as many of them do nowadays, be relieved of part of the cost of the education service, when he could well afford to pay it, much more so than the retired person living on a fixed income, particularly when there have been substantial rises in the cost of living over the years?
Secondly, many of us believe that a greater proportion of the cost of education should be borne by the taxpayer, rather than by the ratepayer, although, personally, I do not believe that the Government should abrogate to themselves the running of local education services. Local people know what local requirements are and are in a better position to run local services than the Ministry in Whitehall.
That does not mean that the whole cost of the education services should be borne by local householders. I very much hope that the Government will give an assurance today that this matter will receive their urgent attention and that 779 an early announcement will be made about the plans to spread the cost of the education service. I hope that the announcement will be made some time in the summer, as soon as the Report is received.
In 1936, there was a Motion in the House rather similar to the Motion today. The mover of the Motion said this:I believe we have to establish in our secondary schools the principle of cadet corps. It may be said by the cynics that I am advocating German or Italian Fascist ideas.…or Russian.… I believe that a taste of military discipline is good for young persons. Large sums of money, we hope, are to be spent upon the defences of this country. What, I ask, is the use of spending large sums of money on the defences of this country if the personnel is not available? The Services are crying out for recruits. They are almost begging for recruits and there are no recruits available, no young men who have been trained to fill positions in the Navy, Army or Air Force.The Daily Herald came out, as a result of that debate, with the enormous headlines:Plan to train children as soldiers. Labour exposes Tory M.P.s ideas.The Daily Herald started its report of the debate with these words:Among a section of young Tories in the House of Commons there is a desire that we are committed with Germany, Italy and other countries to making military training a feature of school life. So far it is only a desire; the Government has not accepted that view yet…Looking back on those days, three years before the outbreak of the war, it would have been a good thing if the Government and the Opposition had taken more note of what I said at that time, for in 1936 I had the honour to introduce this Motion to the House. We were then short of recruits for the Regular and Territorial Armies. We are short of recruits today. The physical fitness of our nation was not then at a very high standard. I do not think that it is of a very high standard today. Too many people were watching football and being mere spectators at other sports. The same applies today.
Once more, I repeat the question that I then asked the House:What…is the use of spending large sums of money on the defence of this country if the personnel is not available?"—[OFFICIAL 780 REPORT, 19th February, 1936; Vol. 308, c. 1812.]If all this had happened in 1936, how much we should have benefited from the initial training in 1939. In pre-war days there were cadet corps in many schools, but it was Lord Morrison of Lambeth—Mr. Herbert Morrison, as he then was—then Chairman of the L.C.C.—who rather damned the whole idea of cadet corps in schools.
In pre-war days the initial training given to schoolboys in O.T.C.s and cadet corps was dull and tedious. The boy was taught how to march in step, how to slope arms, and perhaps the parts of a rifle. It was rather boring after a time. Today, it is much more exciting. A young boy can go on a parachute course and on air training courses. If he is a member of a cadet corps at school, he can do these things. It is an exciting life. Jumping with a parachute in mid-air is just as exciting as going 100 miles an hour on a ton-up motor bicycle. It is nothing like so dangerous to the community. It is much more useful in after life in the form of character training.
We all hope that we shall not have any emergency or any more war. We have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on providing the country with deterrent weapons. With both the Regular Army and the Territorial Army short of recruits, would it not be wise to try to show teenagers still at school what an exciting an absorbing life service with the Regular Army and with the Territorials can be?
Apart from this, I am firmly of the belief that the "bored ones and the wild ones "would become better members of the community if they were given an honourable outlet for their energies and were subjected to an early discipline, which for one reason or another they may not get at home. Even the oafs who went to Clacton might have been turned into more reasonable citizens if my ideas were put into practice.
In many schools today discipline is not taught as firmly and as authoritatively as it was when you, Mr. Speaker, and I were at school. The headmaster of a school has only to employ the minimum amount of corporal punishment to be sued in the courts for assault 781 by irate mothers and fathers who are appalled at the sight of a small blue bruise on the backside of little Benjamin. We must protect the good, the honest and the decent schoolteachers from this sort of aggression by parents. Parents should be informed that, if their children break the rules of the school, they will be subjected to the form of punishment provided, whatever it may be and they should agree not to interfere in the reasonable administration of those rules.
I believe that the education of 90 per cent. of the boys and girls attending universities today is paid for, in one form or another, by the taxpayer. Therefore, it astonishes me that undergraduates at some universities are allowed to form themselves into a sort of union to oppose any interference in their private lives when at university. Here again, I am firmly of the opinion that, if boys and girls are privileged to go to a university, mainly at other people's expense, they should agree to accept the rules of the university and, if they do anything contrary to them, they must take the consequences and accept the punishment provided.
There has been a lot in the Press recently about vandalism; the destruction of property for no apparent reason, the slashing of railway carriage seats, the breaking of windows, and so on. Home Office statistics relating to juvenile delinquency show that half the indictable offences are committed by young persons under 21 and that one-third of those offences are committed by persons under 17.
These are terrifying figures and we should be bitterly ashamed of them. However, in view of the burden of both local and national taxation which we place on the public generally to provide for our education system, it seems that we are failing to do the job properly. If all this vandalism is done by people mainly under 21, it seems that we have failed in our task of educating them to be decent citizens. More discipline rather than less is required and the teaching of the principles of service to the community should be more in the forefront of education than it appears to be.
The only other remarks I intend to make today concern examinations, for I believe that far too much store is placed 782 upon success in them, particularly from school to university. Not enough attention is given to the reports of headmasters about the character of the boy or girl and his or her ability to lead a full life, which the university provides. A boy may have great academic success but that may be largely due to cramming. In other branches of education—physical, moral and religious—he may be sadly lacking, probably because he has been hot-housed through his examinations, and despite the education which has been crammed into him he may really be fitted only for the lowest grade of industry or Civil Service. Who knows, he may even end up in a "looney-bin"—a lunatic asylum.
There was a time when too much emphasis may have been put on athletic prowess and personality to the exclusion of solid hard work. Today, we seem to have gone to the other extreme and are forgetting about personality and athletic ability and are concentrating solely on academic success in examinations.
If we are to have a five-day week all round, the individual will want to know more and more about how to use his leisure time. The teaching of how to spend leisure hours should be one of the main concerns of the education system, for one's ability to occupy one's leisure time can help one to overcome the turmoil and strife of work and life, particularly in the great industrial cities. This is why I cannot agree with those who wish to concentrate on increasing technical education to the exclusion of general education.
General education teaches us how to absorb knowledge and occupy our leisure hours whereas technical education helps us to earn a living; to feed and clothe ourselves and to be decent citizens. In our modern system of education both these aspects are equally important.
§ 11.25 a.m.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
The hon. Member far Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) is to be congratulated on bringing this Motion before the House. I wish to be brief in my remarks and merely to comment on some of the things that he said.
I have no doubt that, like myself, other hon. Members have received bitter complaints from ratepayers in the last few years about increasing local rates. 783 We are glad to know that the Government have an inquiry afoot and it is to be hoped that something will emerge from that, because the rate increases not only place an increasing burden on the ratepayers but cause frustration to councillors and others who must administer local government and who, at present, feel that while they are trying to make economies in every direction the portion of the rate occupied for education, over which they have no control, prevents them from achieving real success in their economies.
Teachers' salaries form one example of how local councillors are unable to achieve economies. They have no control over these salaries, but must continue to collect increasing amounts for services like education. No one begrudges the money spent on education, although I agree with the hon. Member for Eastbourne that the burden should be spread more widely. I do not know whether he has realised the implications of some of his suggestions about spreading the burden, because the question of spreading revenue more widely over the taxpayer rather than the ratepayer is an extremely big subject. Nevertheless, he was right to say that the burden should be spread more widely. It has long been recognised that the education rate is a supreme example of why a major rating reform is long overdue. The most obvious solution would be to take the burden off the local rates and place it on the national Exchequer which, after all, makes the decisions.
I take issue with the hon. Member—although I do not want to start a row among the various organisations—on his suggestion about the establishment of cadet corps which, he considers, are necessary in schools to inculcate military discipline and so give youngsters new outlets for their energies. I suggest that there are other organisations capable of doing that, particularly the Boy Scouts, which would be my first choice. The scouts not only have the advantages of a cadet corps, but also give experience in leadership, discipline and the useful occupation of leisure time. The scouts do those things in a way which commends itself perhaps more readily than the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
784 I hope, therefore, that in advocating extra curricula activities of this kind the hon. Member will direct his attention to organisations more like the Boy Scouts, which do the job he wants done at least as well as cadet corps.
I also suggest that the problem of the burden of rates is not confined to the sort of constituency the hon. Member represents. I have every sympathy with retired people living in holiday resorts who find that on a limited income they are being faced with increasing rates, mainly for education, but I would remind the hon. Member that many retired people also live in the industrial districts.
This would not be the first time that I have mentioned the difficulties of railway superannuitants, who have had little attention paid to their pensions, certainly nothing like the attention that Parliament has given to the pensions of civil servants, teachers and others who have been able at least partly to catch up with the increasing cost of living. It must not be assumed that because there are industrial premises in certain districts the residents are not faced with the increasing rate burden for education. I represent an industrial constituency and I can assure the hon. Member that the problem is just as acute there as it is in the holiday resorts.
I do not feel qualified to suggest in which ways we should approach education in this modern age. I am sure that some of my hon. Friends who are more directly connected with education have some suggestions to make on the modern approach to education. Something is fundamentally wrong with our education system, that is obvious, and this has been brought home to me. I have noticed at school prize givings and similar functions that whereas the education is of a very high standard, and while some of the boys and girls seem able to do things which could not be done by children of a similar age when I was at school, something seems to be lacking.
I wonder whether other hon. Members have found that when seeking secretarial assistance, for example, something seems to be wrong with the teaching the boys and girls have received, for they appear to be weak in their knowledge of basic grammar, punctuation and spelling. It is obvious that the system needs overhauling 785 and I hope that other hon. Members more closely connected with education will have some suggestions to make.
§ 11.32 a.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor), who represents a neighbouring constituency to mine, has given us an opportunity today of discussing education. We do not have very many debates about it, and here is an opportunity for a wide-ranging debate, which I warmly welcome.
I should like, first, to draw attention to the progress made in education since 1945, and to make some comparison between the achievements of the party opposite and ourselves. I want to say something about problems which especially affect East Sussex, in which my hon. Friend and I both represent constituencies.
I want to draw attention to the very heavy burden education places on the taxpayers and the ratepayers, to the way in which this burden is bound to increase, and to examine, in general terms, which party may be best fitted to carry on the good work, and, especially, how this is likely to be paid for.
I want also to ask whether the growing burden that the ratepayers and taxpayers have to carry is fairly shared, or whether, as suggested in the Motion, there should be a shift of emphasis.
The education bill this year has reached the all-time high figure of £1,300 million in round figures. This is the second highest charge on the taxpayers' pocket after defence. In 1946–47, the bill was only £217 million. These figures are for England and Wales and Scotland and they include school meals and milk. It was £400 million in 1951–52, almost double, when the party opposite was in power, and it will rise by 1967–68, I understand, to about £1,600 million, a truly colossal figure.
The last year that the party opposite was in power education took 3.1 per cent. of the gross national product. This year it has taken about 5 per cent. The amount of the gross national product spent on education is, I think, the fairest yardstick that we can find. To put it in another way, this year education is taking three times as much in gross money terms as it did during the last 786 year the Socialists were in power, and twice as much in real terms. This is a fairly startling fact to which attention should be drawn.
We are often told on this side of the House that we have stood still in the last few years, but a great deal of progress has been made. In fact, the largest increase has taken place since the last General Election, the proportion of the gross national product in respect of education having gone up from 4 per cent. to 5 per cent., a 25 per cent. increase. The gross national product, incidentally, I think I am right in saying, has roughly doubled since 1951. That puts these figures into perspective. The recent White Paper commits us to spending 5.7 per cent. of the gross national product.
In a few years' time, with the gross national product rising, we hope, by 4 per cent. annually, this means in real terms an increase of 6 per cent. per year in what is actually spent over the next few years up to 1970. I think that these figures are correct. This proportion of the gross national product that we are spending on education compares very favourably with any other country in Europe and with the United States of America. 'This is a fact to which I also draw attention.
I am sure that the party opposite will not mind—I cannot help it if they do—if I draw Attention to some highlights of the last 12 years. We have heard so much about the "12 wasted years" propaganda that it is about time we blew our own trumpet a little more often; and I propose to blow it quite loudly. If I am wrong in anything I say, no doubt hon. Members opposite will tell me where.
During the 12 years that we have been in power, 6,000 new schools have been completed in England and Wales and Scotland. That is at the rate of about 10 a week. When the party opposite was in power they completed two schools a week. A rise of 1½ million in the school population has been taken in our stride. When we came into power, there were well over 5,000, I think, nearly 6,000, all-age schools. There are now only just over 500 of them left and very soon they will all be gone. We, that is to say both parties, have provided 3½ million new school places since 1945. 787 That is miles ahead of the estimate made in 1949 by the party opposite that 2¼ million school places were needed by the end of 1961. I make no particular point out of this because it is very easy to under-estimate, and the estimates often have to be revised.
The £400 million school building programme is well up to schedule and almost half the children in England and Wales are in schools built since the war. That is another remarkable fact. Between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. of those schools were built during the terms of Tory administration. It is true nonetheless that many old schools are badly in need of repair and that minor works are often put off to provide extra places to catch up with the rising school population.
This is a problem in my own county, East Sussex, to which I particularly want to draw attention, because it is causing a great deal of concern. Not only has there been record progress with school building, but there has been greater value for money. By intelligent planning ahead, by the decentralisation of effort, and also by increased building efficiency, it has been possible to keep down capital costs of new school building to below 1949 levels, in spite of a rise of almost two-thirds in building costs. This, also, is a remarkable and praiseworthy achievement. After allowance is made for the rise in building costs, new school places today cost barely more than half what they did in 1949.
I turn from buildings to people. Here, I think that the figures are equally impressive. The number of students in full-time higher education has doubled during the last 12 years, from 100,000 to 235,000. The Leader of the Opposition spoke recently of the Socialist aim of providing higher education for one-tenth of our young people. I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman got his figures wrong. We achieved that, in 1962. Our target is one-sixth, and we intend to achieve it.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Will the hon. Gentleman explain his definition? Those figures can mean different things.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I will explain those figures shortly.
It is very important to understand what one means by this phraseology. The 788 figures today are 13 per cent. boys and 6 per cent. girls being provided with higher education, and we are aiming at the Robbins target of 22 per cent. boys and 12 per cent. girls. In numbers, this means aiming at 328,000 in 1967–68, and 390,000 by 1973 The cost will, of course, be colossal during that time. It will be £3,500 million.
Dealing, next, with university education—and here I make myself clear—the cost to public funds was £36 million in 1951. Last year, it was £150 million. The university population in 1951 was 83,000—I am including colleges of advanced technology—while today, at about 130,000, it is up by about 50 per cent. on that figure. The aim is 197,000 by 1967–68, and 218,000 by 1973–74.
§ Mrs. White
I think that the hon. Gentleman ought to get these figures right. There were no colleges of advanced technology in 1951. The hon. Gentleman is moving into another category and is not really comparing like with like.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Education and Science (Mr. Christopher Chataway)
Surely my hon. Friend would agree that the hon. Lady's intervention implies that colleges of advanced technology are not to be considered as comparable with universities, as the Robbins Committee said they should be?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We have found from experience that interventions on interventions are disastrous.
§ Sir T. Beamish
The last thing that I want to do is to use figures which can be misleading. One can either add colleges of advanced technology, or leave them out. If, by leaving them out, the figures look different—and I have not got those figures at my fingertips—that is the object of debates, and no doubt the figures will be brought out clearly.
The progress made in technical education has been equally spectacular. I have taken the figures for 1954–55. This is not a comparison between the achievements of the two parties. In 1954–55, 55,000 students were enjoying full-time education. Last year the figure was 157,000, nearly three times as many. A £160 million eight-year expansion programme is well in hand, and every week 789 either one or two new colleges or major new extensions are being opened.
Grants to universities and colleges of advanced technology were up £34 million this year compared with last year, which disproves the charge that we have been standing still. The annual output of young scientists and engineers is now nearly 20,000 a year, two and a half times the 1950 figure. That, again, is a remarkable fact to which I have every right to draw attention.
Perhaps I might reduce those facts and figures to rather simpler terms. I want to make a few brief comparisons between last year, and the best Socialist year. Last year, five children were voluntarily staying on at school after the minimum age of 15, compared with two in the best Socialist year. During the last seven years the figure doubled from 250,000 to more than 500,000. Last year 250 children passed the G.C.E. at A and O levels, for every 100 who passed in 1951. I know that a large part of this increase was due to the increased size of the age groups, and that one must be fair in assessing the significance of those figures, but I want to draw attention to the progress that has been made.
The fact is that the number of children getting two or more passes at A level has doubled over the last 10 years. This is a significant and important figure.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I accept that, and I said that part of the increase was accounted for by the fact that there were more children at school. None the less, the standards have steadily been going up, and the facts and figures prove that. In 1951, only 3 per cent. of all G.C.E. candidates came from secondary modern schools. The figure is now four to five times higher, and that, too, is very pleasing.
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), for whose views on this subject I have the greatest respect, and in many other ways, paid generous tribunte to this aspect of the question. He said:thanks to the marvellous progress we are making on every front in education, more boys and girls each year are coming in to the range 790 when they can qualify for university, getting two, and most of them three, Advanced levels."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1961, Vol. 649. cc. 77–8.]
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman at least realise that when children pass examinations it is due to their own hard work and to the skill of the teachers, and not to the performance of any political party? The tribute which I paid was a tribute to the educational system for which everybody in the country, including the hon. and gallant Gentleman and this House, but above all the teaching profession and the children themselves, are entitled to credit.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I do not dissent from that. I put these facts and figures on record, in the same way as the hon. Gentleman did, to show the remarkable progress which has been made in education. If one likes to say that the Government should not be praised for these results, all right, but they must receive a certain amount of the credit. The teaching profession must take a large part of the credit, but one should not constantly denigrate the progress that has been made.
For every two children taking further education at technical and art colleges in 1951, six are taking those courses now. For every two children in full-time higher education at universities, colleges of advanced technology, and teacher training colleges in 1951, more than four are taking those courses now. One can praise the teachers for this, but the buildings have to be provided, and money has to be made available. The economy of the country has to be sound, because if it is not these things cannot be afforded.
In a recent speech my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Education and Science drew attention to the importance of teacher training. He said that the training, supply and distribution of teachersis the most critical of all our problems in education fields.That is the case. On the whole, we have made satisfactory progress, but it is clear that this is still the most serious bottleneck of all, and the biggest problem which will face any administration during the next few years.
791 There are 90,000 more teachers today than there were in 1951. This is a substantial increase and there are twice as many in training as there were in 1959. We have set ourselves high targets, accepting the Robbins targets which some people genuinely feel are not high enough, and I am one of those. But it is not always a case of what we would like to do, but what we can afford to do, and it may be that accepting these targets is as far as we can possibly go at present in view of the great cost involved.
We must remember, however, that, with the inevitable increase in school population, in 1967 and 1968 alone the number of school children will be greater by over 300,000 and there is also to be the raising of the school-leaving age in 1970–71. The party opposite has said that it should be raised earlier, but whether that is part of party policy I do not know. These two factors and other factors as well mean that by 1970–71 about 1 million more children will be in school and we shall be still short of teachers in spite of the high target accepted. This is a problem which must be clearly and squarely faced by all of us.
I assert without fear of contradiction that there has never been a decade in which more progress has been made in education than the last decade. The facts speak for themselves. I make no apology for reciting them. I have put them in a partisan spirit, because I have risen to the fly cast so often about "the 12 wasted years "and I believe that it is not a bad thing that this charge should be faced and challenged in the House. Both parties aim to improve the whole education system, but there are several basic differences in outlook between us, particularly where speed of movement towards the establishment of comprehensive schools is concerned. It has been clearly laid down by the party opposite that they will reorganise all State secondary schools on comprehensive lines to embrace grammar, technical and secondary schools all in one. We are told in the double-talk that is indulged in that the grammar schools must survive, but they cannot possibly survive on their present lines if the party opposite has its way.
792 I should like to hear from the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East what will happen to denominational schools and the direct grant grammar schools if great progress is made with the comprehensive schools. We have never been told. The Church and grammar schools, particularly, want to know what will be their future if we are to move towards an all-comprehensive basis. [An HON. MEMBER: "Eton."] I am not talking about Eton. [An HON. MEMBER: "Comprehensive."] I am pleased to say that it is so comprehensive that for the first time a boy with a black skin is going there.
Since I am challenged, what about the public schools? There is something very confusing here in the policy of the party opposite, but, fortunately, the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East is here and may provide the answer. We were told by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) on 5th January, 1962 thatThe Labour Party is now firmly committed to nationalising the public schools…The hon. Member went on to say that there were contradictory reasons for this being in Labour Party policy. He explained those reasons very clearly, but it was only five weeks later that the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East said:We do not want to abolish or destroy the public schools, for it is foolish to destroy something if it has virtue.Is it surprising that none of us on this side of the House has the faintest idea of the attitude of the party opposite towards the public schools?
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what book he is quoting from?
§ Sir T. Beamish
I will give the hon. Member a copy of it. It is a very good little book. I recommend it to the party opposite. It is called, "What they have said".
§ Sir T. Beamish
After all, the Guardian is a newspaper on which we all rely on many occasions. The hon. Member for Coventry, East was reported in the Guardian on 5th January, 1962, as saying that. I do not think that it has been denied. If it has, I immediately apologise.
793 The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East will remember that she was speaking in Harrogate on 11th November, 1962. These are completely contradictory views. If the hon. Lady can tell us what is the Labour Party's policy on direct grant and Church schools, it will help us all. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will agree because he is so closely concerned with this problem.
As for the question of which party is best equipped to pay for the colossal expansion that must take place, our long-term plans are realistic and within our means. The plans of the party opposite are, if anything, more ambitious and right hon. and hon. Members opposite feel that too little progress is likely to be made if we remain in power. If the worst came to the worst, and the party opposite won the General Election, where would the extra money come from? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]. It is all very well to say "Oh".
§ Sir T. Beamish
We shall have to borrow somewhere.
How is the new wealth to be created? New wealth is not created by nationalising anything. Certainly, no money will be raised if the Beeching modernisation plans for the railways are stopped, or, as we understand will be the case, if there is retiral on half-pay. Nobody knows where the money is to come from for that and other Labour plans, and it means that there will be less in the "kitty" for education. Will the wealth tax provide the extra money, or increased Income Tax or Purchase Tax, or Profits Tax? We simply do not know.
This leads me to a point which is remarkable and rather frightening. The party opposite is the only Socialist Party in the free world that still believes in nationalisation.
§ Sir T. Beamish
That is not true. We have seen these parties in Norway and Sweden and they would be both out on their necks if they had Clause Four.
§ Mr. Speaker
On Fridays, it is often possible to be generous. I observe the words "various other aspects of education" in the Motion, which are somewhat lacking in precise definition, but even with chose words I find it difficult to see how these comments can be in order.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. Naturally, I accept your Ruling. This would be an interesting subject to pursue on some other occasion.
To round off the point, may I say that I do not know of any Social Democratic Party in the free world which believes in the nationalisation of production distribution and exchange. In this country, where we have not a social democratic party, but a Social Democratic Party and a Marxist Party all in one——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman courteously received my Ruling, but I am not sure that he is being very successful in following it.
§ Sir T. Beamish
In that case, Mr. Speaker, I apologise again most sincerely, and I now leave the subject absolutely.
There is common ground between both sides of the House on the need for fresh thought on the tax and rating balance. We are all giving a great deal of thought to this matter. I have already drawn attention to the great cost of education. If one puts it on a per capita basis it makes more, sense to some people rather than talking about the gross national product. In 1951, State education cost £8 a head, in 1963, £24, and it will surely be £30 within another decade. That makes one realise how vast the bill will be.
I should like to say a word about some of the problems in East Sussex. I shall be brief, but we have some particular problems with which my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne and 795 I have been closely concerned over the years. The East Sussex Education Committee is faced with a major problem of a shortage of capital allocations which the Ministry allows it to spend, and public opinion has been greatly concerned during the last five years about the deficiencies in old school buildings, with particular reference to sanitation.
The problem is aggravated in a county because of the larger number of small schools. In major building programmes in East Sussex—that is, jobs costing more than £20,000—the authority, over the last five years, has had allocations substantially under half the amount for which it has asked. This has been a great disappointment. It means that the improvement of unsatisfactory buildings has had to be put off year after year and sometimes for as long as five years in succession.
I know of several instances where that is so. One of the worst examples is Rye County Secondary School, which is not in my constituency. At that school there is a very serious problem, which first arose in 1962–63, concerning the lack of a gymnasium, a small hall and library. The school will be lucky if those provisions are made by 1967 or 1968.
In some ways an even bigger difficulty arises in connection with the minor works programme—that is, for works costing up to £20,000. In the last two years the allocation by the Ministry was only 21 per cent. of what the authority requested, and the requests, I am positive, were very genuine and were not in any way inflated. This has meant that a considerable number of schools have not been able to get on with their minor works programmes, because to keep pace with the rising school population it is necessary to spend £20,000 here and £20,000 there for new classrooms in existing schools.
There are some very bad examples in my constituency. There is the Lewes Malling Primary School, which is housed in two buildings half a mile apart, and connected by a very dangerous road; the Burgess Hill Junction Road School, with 627 pupils on the roll, with no school hall or place for daily acts of worship or any activities involving the school as a whole; and 796 the Peacehaven Infants School, where the infants still dine in the classrooms, and the school is in six separate classrooms which are widely scattered. These are examples of where more money is needed for minor works. It is not a large item that is involved, but it means that year after year with this concentration on secondary modern and technical education, to some extent primary education and minor works have been neglected.
May I now say something about the question of trying to strike a fair balance between taxpayers and ratepayers. Perhaps some figures will make it easier to explain. Sixty-two per cent. of all local authority expenditure on education comes from the Exchequer funds. Therefore, 38 per cent. of the cost of education is borne on the rates. As I am sure my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will agree, if one takes into account University Grants Committee grants and other direct grants, the taxpayer's share is nearer 70 per cent. than 60 per cent. of the total cost of education.
This fact is sometimes forgotten. Over half the total spending of local authorities is on education. Three-fifths of this goes on teachers' salaries, which means that about 30 per cent. of all current spending by local authorities is on teachers' salaries. I draw attention to this because of the suggestion that has been made that a part of the burden of teachers' salaries might be shifted from the ratepayers to the taxpayers.
I think that the rating system, which was first introduced in 1601 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is antiquated and must be reconsidered very carefully. It was in 1836, when the Melbourne Government were in power, that the system was first devised on its present basis. It has not been changed substantially since then, and in 1957 when there was a departmental inquiry it was stated that no important changes were necessary.
From the national point of view, there is a strong prima facie case for the transfer of part of the burden, and this view is shared by the East Sussex County Council, the assumption being that if part of the cost of education were transferred from the ratepayers to the taxpayers it would not necessarily detract from the powers, prestige, efficiency and responsibility of the education authorities. We 797 must remember, in this context, that there are four taxpayers to every three ratepayers and that shifting the burden will spread the burden more widely.
It must be remembered that there are many who do not pay rates and who, therefore, enjoy benefits resulting from ratepayers' contributions. Not only would the burden be spread more widely if it were shifted somewhat, but those who pay the lowest taxes would gain most from this shift of emphasis. The burden has certainly borne very heavily indeed on ratepayers living on fixed incomes, such as retired people, no matter in what part of the country they live.
The Government have set up the Allen Committee to investigate the question of hardship. I understand that that Committee completed its field work in January and that the results are being put through a computer. They have not yet come out, and I hope that they soon will, but what I should like to know is: when will the Committee report? This is very important. People are anxiously waiting for the report. I hope my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be able to say when that will be.
The burden on retired people in my constituency has been very heavy indeed, and I should like to give an example or two. In Peacehaven, the average increase in net rates as a result of revaluation and the increase in the county rate is very nearly 50 per cent. This is a really heavy blow which causes hardship to a considerable number of people.
In Burgess Hill, some increases resulting from revaluation and the rise in the county rate have been as high as 66 per cent. on average. Some people are even being asked to pay double the rate that they were paying two years ago. This can be a very real hardship indeed for retired people, particularly because retired people have benefited least from the great rise in the standard of living of the past 10 or 12 years.
We all realise that someone has to pay. Not long ago, in a Question in the House, I asked how much it would cost the taxpayer if the whole burden of education were transferred from the ratepayer to the taxpayer—this is not my suggestion—and the answer was 1s. on Income Tax. Somebody would have 798 to pay, but the burden could be spread more widely.
Undoubtedly, the worst hardship suffered as a result of revaluation occurs in areas where there is little or no industry, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne said, and where there is a large proportion of retired people. Moreover, this hardship is genuine and serious and cannot be ignored.
I apologise for making an unduly long speech, which is not my normal habit, and I sum up in this way. The last 12 years of Tory Government have been remarkable in terms of the progress which has been made throughout all branches of education. Comparisons with any foreign country one cares to choose make this absolutely clear. I have many foreign friends who are extremely envious of our progress. Constructive criticism of what has been done is fine. Criticism of the order of priorities we have chosen is fine. Saying that the balance is wrong is fine. Such criticism can be constructive. But to pour cold water on the whole of our achievement—the "12 wasted years" propaganda—is quite ridiculous and unfair. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have very little right to criticise, because their own record was not a particularly good one.
I have drawn attention to the well-known fact that the cost of education is bound to rise steadily if we are to remain competitive in the world, as we must. Both parties have exciting and exhilarating plans for the expansion of education. I take the view, possibly a partisan view—I do not know—that our plans are realistic, comprehensive and practical, not affected by emotion or prejudice. I have every reason to suppose that, if we have the opportunity, the country's economy, based on competitive private enterprise, will enable us to afford what we say we plan to do.
The Socialists' plans, on the other hand, are over-ambitious, especially bearing in mind the very high cost of some of the electioneering promises which they have made such as abolishing the earnings rule and health charges and that sort of thing. They would have the utmost difficulty in financing what they say they would like to do.
I have pointed out that the burden as between taxpayer and ratepayer is 799 not fairly distributed at present. In my opinion more of the cost of education might be borne by the Exchequer. There is a prima facie case for saying that the whole rating system is out of date and often unfair in its impact. I am very glad that a wide-ranging, root-and-branch departmental inquiry is now going on. Lastly, I pointed out that the present balance of the burdens borne by ratepayers and taxpayers is not fair, bearing particularly hard on the retired people who have gained least from the rise in the standard of living in recent years.
§ 12.14 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
I wonder why the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) assumed that we did not understand his speech and that it was necessary to summarise it at the end. He said one thing with which the House will be in complete agreement, though for different reasons, when he said that the last 12 years of Tory government has been remarkable. We shall soon be proving that to the electors. They already seem to have some inkling of the fact that they have been a very remarkable 12 years.
I do not propose to deal with the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech in detail. Most of it was singularly complacent, far more complacent than the speech of any Conservative Minister of Education during the last 12 years. The hon. and gallant Gentleman attributed everything to his party, including the ability of our children to pass examinations—everything but the rise in the birth rate and the fact that we have neary 2 million more children in our schools.
I hesitate to remind the House of this for fear that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will interrupt and say that the Conservative Party was responsible for the rise in the birth rate, too. His remarks were characteristic of an election speech, using selected quotations from the Tory handbook for immature candidates. This sort of think does not usually occur in the the House of Commons, although it may be good for Lewes Town Hall.
I was interested to note that after the blowing of the trumpet came the 800 moment of truth. Out came the begging bowl, and we heard at the end of the speech the hon. and gallant Gentleman talking about his constituency and showing to the House that the state of education in East Sussex was still inadequate. This, of course, destroyed the effect of most of the trumpeting which marked most of his speech.
Lest the House has forgotten, I wish to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor), who moved the Motion. I congratulate him most sincerely on having used his success in the Ballot to choose such an important subject as education. We have advanced a long way since, in 1930, the Tory Party prevented us from raising the school-leaving age to 15 when the then Labour Government proposed to do so. As the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes was speaking of the substantial benefits already achieved by secondary education for all, I felt how sad it was that at least three generations of English children were deprived of that because of the action of the Conservative Party in the years between the wars.
I am one who believes that the parties draw closer together on education each year, even if the penalty for my being fair is to figure in the Conservative Party handbook of selected quotations. But there are still fundamental differences between us, and I am quite certain that some of them will appear in this debate. I shall not dwell on the burden of rates. I agree with the speech of the hon. Member for Eastbourne and would go much further. The burden is not merely on seaside towns and towns without industry.
I refrain, however, from discussing the matter further because, on 20th March, I moved at great length a Motion, which the House unanimously adopted, condemning the rating system as unjust and urging that one of two reforms, or both, were necessary, either greater State subvention of local government expenditure, especially on education, or a new system for raising local government taxation.
I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman's proposal to meet the, so to speak, moral and disciplinary problems of our time by the cadet corps is big enough and bold enough to cope with the problem. I believe in discipline. Indicidentally, I like school uniforms. I am certain 801 that youngsters gain much from the corporate life of a cadet corps, but all that a cadet corps offers can equally be provided by the Boy Scout movement. It can be provided by the Boys' Brigade. It can be provided by Church movements and non-Church youth clubs if they are well run. Moreover, all the social benefits of the cadet corps can, I believe, be offered by these other bodies without the, so to speak, contamination of militarism.
I would rather that the hon. Gentleman had asked for more State encouragement of all out-of-school activities, of camping and all the various societies connected with schools, of the great youth club movement which is still lagging behind what it should be because of lack of adequate Government financial support. All these bodies have something to offer which one does not find in the classroom, the knowledge that we are members one of another and the growth of a corporate sense. I am thinking of the discovery that every schoolmaster or schoolmistress makes on the playing field or in any society outside the classroom, the discovery of abilities in children not revealed within the classroom.
The form which corporate activities should take, however, must be a matter for the teachers concerned. I would be opposed to any State's imposing of a cadet corps or a boy scout corps or any other kind of social activity upon our teachers. These things must arise naturally from the differing interests of different members of the profession.
But I want to speak rather more about the hon. Member's request for a reconsideration of what he calls the modern approach to some other aspects of education. Monday's debate showed a tendency to suggest that juvenile delinquency was at least partly due to the failure of the teaching profession to cope with the moral and spiritual problems of the youngsters of our time. In the first two speeches in this debate I found the same charge made against the teaching profession. I repudiate this as being untrue and unfair.
I ask any hon. Member to visit any school—primary or secondary—in his constituency and to see for himself the revolutionary changes that have taken place since the war. He will find new approaches to the teaching of basic sub- 802 jects. He will find new subjects. He will find that a school has become a window looking out on to the world. He will find children in their last school year going out into society and making contact with industry, commerce, local government and even Parliament. He will find them making visits to other towns and other countries. He will find the teaching profession everywhere showing a willingness to experiment and to accept new ideas.
He will find experiments in the use of television—my county has the first closed television circuit being used in any school. He will find radio in constant use, as it has been for the past 20 years. Here I pay very warm tribute to the B.B.C. education service for the work that it has done not merely at the sixth form end of the scale but for the programmes produced for infants' schools. The programme "Music and Movement" has been a great boon to millions of infants' teachers during the long years that it has been running.
At present experiments are going on—and I thought that the hon. Member for Eastbourne would have spoken of this—in the teaching of language by means of language laboratories. I must enter a caveat here. The success of the language teaching laboratory depends upon the teacher. A bad teacher in charge of a language teaching laboratory can do far more harm to a school than can be done by any teacher in a school without a teaching laboratory. If we are to use these modern devices we must remember—and we know this from experience—that success depends on the professional skill of the teacher at the top.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
The hon. Member has given a long list of the excellent things which schools do. I agree with him in what he says. But does not he agree that all these wonderful new devices, together with the excellence of our teachers, are no good unless the teachers have the co-operation of parents?
§ Dr. King
I am sorry that the hon. Member should want to make my speech for me. I shall refer to that point in due course.
Above all, any hon. Member visiting schools now will not only find these 803 things, as the expression of modern aspects of British education; he will find in our schools just the qualities that everybody who believes in worth-while living is anxious about today I often think of my own experience when I first went to America, 10 years ago, and saw the contrast between the brash-American society, with all its cheap commercialism—a society that one would have imagined would be reflected in the schools—and the schools themselves, which I found to be splendid examples of modern social behaviour, in spite of all the sensationalism in the American Press outside.
Every school here opens with an act of worship—unless the school is starved of an adequate assembly hall. That lack of a school hall is true of some schools in East Sussex, as of schools of many other local authority areas. Round this assembly is built the corporate life of the school. The act of worship is nonsectarian. We have a conscience clause, under which parents need not let their children partake in any religious part of a school's activity, but very few children opt out of morning assembly In the classroom, on the playing fields, and in school societies, the real values of life are being steadily fostered. Character is being shaped and brought out. That is why I earnestly desire to see the raising of the school-leaving age to 16, so that the formative forces—moral, as well as intellectual—taking place in our schools may be directed not to merely 25 per cent., but to 100 per cent. of our children, in the very important year between 15 and 16.
If something is going wrong—and everybody is aware that all is not well at present—the answer is to be found not in the schools, but somewhere outside. As the hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Glyn), who anticipated me, pointed out, schools cannot make up for a bad home. Education is a threefold partnership, consisting of the child, the teacher and the parents, and the indifferent parent can almost destroy all that a school is trying to achieve on the ethical front. Why should a boy care about what his teacher says is wrong if his father does not care, or holds exactly the opposite view?
Extending the length of school education makes not fewer, but more demands on parents. Education is an exercise 804 in co-operation, and school education is merely a complement to home education. Indeed, education is threefold from another point of view. School is part of it; home is part of it, and adult society, outside, is the third part.
A special word of honour is due to those teachers who are teaching in the toughest areas in our big cities—toughest almost entirely because the homes which the children come from are homes where the parents do not care what happens to their children. If there is anybody who should have extra acknowledgment—even financial acknowledgment—it is the teacher who teaches in the most difficult schools in the poorest parts of our big cities.
But the problem goes much deeper than that. This debate is linked with Monday's debate on juvenile delinquency, with Wednesday's debate on Ferranti's, and with yesterday's debate on dangerous drugs. Once a child leaves school at four o'clock each day—I am not referring to the time when he leaves school at the end of his school career—he is thrust into a society which is far more morally and spiritually dangerous than that into which we were plunged when we left school each day. It is a materialist society. This is the society in which, as Lord Kilmuir boasts in his recently published and interesting memoirs, an election was won on the selfish slogan, "You never had it so good," which my hon. Friends and I paraphrase as, "I'm all right, Jack—pull up the ladder."
This is a society with plenty of goods and plenty of money, in which even the school child is subject to a whole battery of advertising which teaches him that the best life is the one in which he acquires goods, uses them up, and acquires more, and not even in which he acquires goods because they are good. It teaches him that he must conform to the social pattern which can be expressed in the phrase, "All the best people have them." Even The Times, advertising today, falls into line and says that 66 per cent. of "the top people" read The Times. The end product of this society, if the advertisers had their way, will be a conditioned generation which will take sleeping pills to go to sleep at night and pep pills to wake up in the morning—a society in which everybody is "with it" and everybody keeps up with the Joneses.
805 The real culprits are not the youngsters indulging in the consumption of "purple hearts", but the pedlars who sell them. The Medical Officer of Health for Southampton, Dr. Maurice Williams, speaking at the Royal Society of Health Congress, in Torquay, said:There never was an age in which sexual and erotic instincts were so cynically and shamelessly exploited for gain.… A society with its property racketeers, its business tycoons on extravagant business accounts, a society with its illegal and irresponsible strikes and go-slow tactics…this is the kind of society which is being set as an example to our youth.My local newspaper—a very good and serious newspaper—the Southern Evening Echo, comments on this and says:During a week which has seen the release of a film the ingredients of which include masturbation, lesbianism, and fornication, who can honestly say that Dr. Williams is not justified in his demand for a clean-up of the cinema, T.V. screen and bookstalls? Pornography, especially when it is defended as high art, is extremely profitable.I must confess that I am less troubled about the serious Swedish film than I am about the mass of rubbish which cannot even defend itself as high art.
We have got rid of the horror comic, which was hurting the minds of our young children, by Act of Parliament. There is still plenty of rotten material about, which is easily available to our youngsters. The corruption of our school children is still good, profitable business. At the same time, we have a wing of the Tory Party which tells us that to maximise one's profits is the sacred law of demand and that enlightened selfishness, or, indeed, selfishness without enlightenment, will produce a good society.
Our children can read. They can copy what adults do. They can copy what the News of the World, with the largest circulation of any newspaper in the country, gives every Sunday as its weekly picture of what Britain is: a parody of the real Britain, a selection of all that is bad and all that is sensational in Britain, held up to our youngsters for the week.
In the war years, there was a cynical French play, which hon. Members may remember, called "Topaze", in which a schoolmaster who taught honesty and virtue for years suddenly decided to abandon it because he was treated so badly. He went out into the corrupt 806 world and made a fortune, and then went back into the schools to deride and mock at the virtues which he had taught for 25 years as an honest schoolmaster. This is a grave danger that we face.
To me, the fine thing about Britain is not that some youngsters fall by the wayside in an age that is so dangerous, but that the great mass of them get by and make good. This is the real boast, which unites the House, of the last 17 years of educational progress since the war. The surprising thing is not that a few scientists go for big money in America, but that the bulk of our scientists are loyal to the Britain which gave them their education and stay here serving the country despite the fact that they could make more money elsewhere.
What we have to do is not so much to modernise our schools, certainly not if modernisation means the naive suggestion of the hon. Member for Eastbourne that all we need to do in our schools is to introduce a little more of the old-fashioned flogging and a little more of the wooden, unintelligent old discipline. We have a changed society outside and this is what Viscount Eccles meant, I hope, when, speaking in another place two days ago, he said roughly that it is our business as politicians to try to improve society. He said it much better, but I would not be in order if I quoted him.
In the meantime, however, we can urge the Press and television to help. When some youngsters did wrong at Clacton, they were featured on television; they were glamorised for imitation. An intelligent society would have put on television that night not the children who had gone wrong at Clacton, but some of the fine English children who had not gone wrong and shown some of those youngsters doing fine things.
Cartoonists joke this week about the failure of a police chief who called together the youngsters in his town because the attempt was a failure. It would help if the Press—and in this I agree with the hon. Member for Eastbourne—and society would range itself on the side of the schoolmaster and of the school when there is a conflict between the school and someone who seeks to break discipline. When anything goes right in the school, it is not news. When anything goes wrong, not only 807 is the wrong featured in the Press, but there is an undertone at least in the popular Press, ranging itself on the side of the wrongdoer as though reporters or their Press owners had a sort of secret psychological complex against their old schoolmasters, ranging themselves against the school.
I know a fine large school of over 1,000 children in Hampshire which has produced university and training college boys and girls and boys and girls for all the professions—a fine bunch of citizens—over the last 20 years. It once got into the national Press, and that was when a boy was found drunk on the playing field.
I believe that the schools, like all other community organisations, such as the Churches and youth groups, are fighting a battle for honesty, for self-respect, for unselfishness, for service to the community and for independence of thought and judgment. They are fighting it in a society where the prevailing tone is that virtue is "cissy" and that people must go with the crowd. In the classroom, our children are being taught to appreciate delicacy, humour, tragedy, pathos and irony and to think for themselves and to look after others, whilst in the world of commercial culture outside love has become sex plus violence. A witty man once said that pornography is not what it used to be.
Music is commercialised noise. Youngsters are urged to conform. The financial system of the society into which they go to earn a living is built upon gambling and speculation. It offers its greatest rewards not to the scientist, the statesman, the artist, the engineer, the citizen or the skilled craftsman, but to the spiv or the winner of the pool or the jackpot. My charge against the Government is that they have encouraged at least some of the worst features of the present set-up.
I emphasise one detail, that in this fight for the decent values in our schools, the State schools are quite as active as the Church schools. I do not have time to deal with the problem of the denominational schools. I pay tribute to the Church schools for their keen interest in the moral and ethical side of education. I assure those who are keen on the Catholic and Church of England schools 808 that the same keenness is shown inside the State schools. It is a mistake to think that Christian values are taught only in sectarian Christian schools.
In moving the Motion, the hon. Member for Eastbourne wanted us to look at some of the modern problems of education. Perhaps the least modern and the most archaic aspect of present-day education is that which divides our children at birth and even before birth into those who will receive their education in State schools and those whose parents will pay or partly pay—because much of private education is indirectly subsidised—for education in smaller classes with better-qualified teachers.
We are steadily narrowing the gap between public and private education. So much is common between both sides of the House. We cannot, however, claim to be really modern until we have achieved what the United States achieved a long time ago, what the Soviet Union has achieved but seems to be drifting a little away from, and what practically every other country in Western Europe has long achieved; that is, the knitting together of our children into a community and the provision of different kinds of education by one criterion only, that of the capacity of children to profit by the differences.
Gradually, the Conservatives are coming to that view, at least in primary education. In The Middle Way before the war, the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), had already got there. Viscount Eccles arrived at this point about three years ago and a lord bishop in the House of Lords, in this week's debate, has come to the same conclusion, that at least there is a case for bringing all English children together in the primary school.
Here, however, the party cleavage is fundamental. The Conservative believes that it is right that money can buy anything, including an unfair privilege for the child of a rich person, a privilege which not only gets him favourable educational circumstances when he is a child, but also puts him higher up on the ladder of opportunity than comparable children of any other social class.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)
But will not the hon. Gentleman agree that many of these people 809 are far from rich and make great sacrifices indeed for the privilege of giving their children some extra education?
§ Dr. King
I have paid tribute in the House before to the sacrifices which many middle-class people make to give their children the benefit of this extra privilege, and I have gone on to say that many, many a poor parent would willingly have made the sacrifices had he had the money which the middle-class people had to make the sacrifices. I am one of those who believe that a snob system of education is an anachronism in the technological age.
The last thing I would say is that I am glad that the Plowden Committee has been set up to consider the primary schools. I regard as the most reactionary proposal of our time the suggestion that we should postpone the entry of children into school to the age of 6. I am sorry to find that my friend, Sir William Alexander, is for once not on the side of the angels, but on the side of their dark opposites. Let us be frank. If we raise the school entry age to 6, this will penalise only those parents who cannot buy some kind of private education for their children between 5 and 6. I believe that children should be at school in the term in which they reach the age of 5. One or two authorities admit earlier than that, whereas many authorities are behind that; we have not achieved that nationally yet.
I am quite frank—I would be willing to lead a march of the mothers of England against any Minister of Education who raised the school entry age to the age of 6, and knowing many people up and down the country I am quite certain that there would be an enormous march if such a reactionary proposal ever came before this House.
The most important crisis this year is in our primary schools. There is a shortage of teachers which ought to have been foreseen, and which we warned the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewes and his fellow hon. Members about a long time before it happened. That ought to have been foreseen and prepared for.
I believe that the foundations of what we believe to be the good life are laid in the infants and the junior schools. It is there that the twig is bent, there the bough is shaped. I would hope that 810 the Plowden Committee will examine fundamentally the nature and the purpose of primary education. The divisions of 5 to 7 in the primary school, from 7 to 11 in the junior, and from 11 to 15 or to 16 in the secondary, are by no means sacrosanct. The segregation of children at 11-plus is by no means sacrosanct, and it has been breaking down all over the country. I believe that if that Committee does its work in the same way in which Crowther and Newsom did theirs, this Committee, too, will reveal, as both Crowther and Newsom did, that the basic problem is not to modernise education, but to transform society.
The desperate hope which we have is that education itself, that the work which is going on in our schools, will triumph over the forces which exist in contemporary society, which may destroy it. That is why I would implore any Government to build up the status of the teaching profession, because so much of the future of Britain depends not merely on economics, on the technological, technical and scientific work which we do for the brilliant one-fifth of our children, but upon the quality, the character and the shaping of the average child in school.
That is why I welcome this opportunity of taking part in the debate which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eastbourne has initiated.
§ 12.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) is not at his best when he allows himself to indulge in a party political speech, especially on a subject of this sort. I am not at my best in that either. I do not intend to follow him on the political content of his speech, except perhaps to say that the Labour Party is not the sole repository of public morals and private virtues. On the other hand, when the hon. Gentleman approaches teaching and analyses teaching and its place in the social service and the social conscience, then he is an expert. I am no expert, and I do not intend to follow him along those lines, either, if he will permit me.
I want to follow him in a previous speech he made on the question of the burden of rates and to come to that phrase in the Motion before usthat the costs of educational services should be more widely spread".811 Let me first congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) on giving us this opportunity by moving this Motion to discuss this important subject, and to say, first, that as has been shown by previous speeches, the Government's achievement in education over the past dozen years has been no small achievement, judged by expenditure or judged by the standards of education.
Judging by expenditure, the expenditure on education has trebled per head of the population. I think I am right in my figures. We are now spending, instead of £8 per head, as we were 12 years ago, about £24 per head of the population, and the money has been well spent in the provision of school places, necessary, of course, because of the rising school population; but, in proportion, the number of school places has risen far greater than has the school population. Judging by the standards of education, too, I think that the Government have had considerable success. It cannot be denied that the standards of education at present are far better than they were ten or a dozen years ago, and the standard is continually increasing.
The present cost of all this falls partly on the national Exchequer and partly on the local revenues produced by the ratepayer. The present cost of education to the ratepayer is a proportion of the whole expenditure on education by the local authorities, and the whole expenditure on education by local authorities in England and Wales is approximately £900 million a year, and taking in Scotland, approximately £1,000 million a year. Of that cost 62 per cent. comes from the taxpayer and 38 per cent. from the ratepayer, and that 62 per cent. from the taxpayer is about 80 per cent. of the general grant from the Exchequer to the local authorities.
Looking at the future programme of the Government, which is one of very considerable expansion, there is no doubt that the cost of education is bound to continue to rise. Take only one example. If the school-leaving age is to rise, then, of course, the cost of education is to rise very substantially. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal said recently that we planned to increase by 6 per cent. Per 812 annum in real terms the expenditure on education. I assume that by means of the general grant the proportion as between the taxpayer and the ratepayer will remain the same or approximately the same, but even if that is so it will mean a considerable increase in the burden on one section of the public, the ratepayer.
When we talk about the ratepayer, who does find this money? Who does, as an individual, find the 40 per cent. or 38 per cent. borne by the local authorities of the education costs? We talk rather glibly about the taxpayer on the one hand and the ratepayer on the other, but who are they as actual individuals?
Of course, the ratepayer is also the taxpayer, so it means that we are talking about his taking money from different pockets. But let us be clear about the fact that rates are a tax on the individual—a tax on his fictitious income—and not a tax because he chooses to smoke, drink, bet or drive a car. It is a tax because he happens to be the beneficial occupier of a house or office or factory or any other pile of bricks and mortar.
His beneficial occupation is assessed as if he were receiving an income of that amount and he is taxed accordingly. I think I am right in saying that rates are, therefore, a tax upon an individual's fictitious income from the property he is occupying. He is paying an income tax when he is paying rates. I want to stress that because, in a moment, I shall urge that the whole cost of education be removed from the rates and placed on taxes.
This would not be such a tremendous change in principle, because already 40 per cent. of the cost is being borne by an unfair form of income tax—unfair because the man who pays rates is not given any of the allowances granted to him in the system of national Income Tax. He is not given his earned income allowances or marriage allowances or children's allowances or varied rates of tax when he pays his rates. Yet half the amount he pays in this local income tax—unsealed to his income or family responsibilities—goes to pay for a national service, education.
Education is a national service. When one talks of it as being a local service one is "kidding" oneself. My right hon. 813 Friend the Minister of State said recently that he wants education to be a local service. But does anyone locally decide the scale of teachers' salaries? Does any local authority decide what a teacher can be paid? Can anyone locally decide whether there shall be a new school here or there or even that a new classroom shall be added to a school? Can anyone locally decide even what the syllabus or curriculum of a school shall be? The schools are tied to national examinations which decide the curricula accordingly. There is not much discretion left to local education authorities.
I do not believe that there is any real local direction of policy in education if one means by "education" anything more than putting in new desks or new wash basins or something of that sort. I believe that we should get a better local service by organising education into regional boards and area committees much on the same lines, although I do not take this in detail, as the hospital service.
Local people would be appointed to administer an education service of that sort. There is a great advantage in dealing with a particular service in this way. Many people would give voluntary service to a particular social service who would not stand as local councillors and face local elections. They may not be able to spare the time or have the inclination to deal with the many other local government matters which are the concern of councillors. I believe that, with a new structure, we could draw into the direction of the education service local people of great value to it. They could thereby specialise in the social service of their choice.
§ Mr. Page
I would have them appointed, in much the same way as members of hospital management committees and regional boards are appointed. I do not think that those people have any less local patriotism than an elected person. But I do not consider election or appointment to be at the root of what I am saying. I think that we need a new structure, a specialised and concentrated structure for education, and that we should not merely leave it as a department of the local authority. I believe that we would get 814 valuable people to serve in such a structure.
These people I am sure would not be any less responsible because their funds came from the taxpayer rather than the ratepayer. If it is suggested that local administrators would be contaminated by the fact that 80 per cent. or even 100 per cent. of their funds were to come from the taxpayer, I would ask why they are not contaminated, undermined and demoralised by the fact that they already receive 60 per cent. of the funds from that source.
If a local service in these days is to be defined by the fact that it is financed by the ratepayer, then the logical development of that argument is that we should change the present division of 60–40 round to 40–60, and that we should reduce Income Tax by 6d. in the £, throwing an extra £200 million from the taxpayer on to the ratepayer. That is the logical argument of saying that one cannot have a local service unless one provides from local revenue the finances of the service it is administering.
That argument is ridiculous but it is not ridiculous to move the other way, to take£200 million from the ratepayer—from the selected and unsealed local income tax payer, as I call him—and put it on the taxpayer by increasing Income Tax by 6d. or 9d. in the £. The transfer of 6d. in the £ from an unfair local income tax to a fair national Income Tax in order to contribute to what is truly a national service does not seem to me to be an unpalatable wrench in our principles of taxation.
It may be frightening to talk of an increase of 6d. or even 1s. 6d. in the £ in Income Tax if one is transferring the whole of £400 million from the ratepayer to the taxpayer. But if it is frightening, then, of course, it is a measure of the burden on the rates at the present time. It is a measure of the unfairness of the burden on one section of the public. Let us move gradually in this but quite definitely.
We should transfer the cost of education progressively from the ratepayer to the taxpayer over a period of, say, five years until 100 per cent. is borne by national taxation, and at the same time produce an administrative structure in place of the departments of the local authorities—a new structure capable of 815 meeting the challenge which we face in providing for our future education needs and which, by specialisation and concentration, will attract the highest quality of voluntary service.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
Very few hon. Members on this side of the House would dissent from contention of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) that far more money from central funds should be provided for education. If we departed from him it would be in relation to his picture of a regional system, similar to the hospital system, for education. We believe firmly in local democracy and would like to see it strengthened in the local authorities.
In the second and third parts of his Motion, the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) says that a cadet corps should be encouraged and that a modern approach is needed to various other aspects of education. He leaves out of account half of the school population, namely, the girls. It is one of the crying scandals of the administration of the Tory Government over the last 12 years that they have so neglected the general education of girls. One of the worst features of this is revealed by the lack of teachers of mathematics and science in the girls' schools.
Most of our teachers are women. They are the base of our education system. Yet there has been a remorseless decline in the standard of teaching in mathematics and science provided for girls in secondary schools of all sorts. That is one of the reasons why we are facing a real crisis in relation to scientific education in the future. Indeed, is it quite conceivable that the whole of our higher education structure and of our industry is threatened by a shortage of good teachers of mathematics and science and one of the basic faults is the lack of such education for girls.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne is taking a narrow view of the educational system when he concentrates on cadet corps as one way in which to solve our educational problems. Underlying his fear is the manifestation of disorder and delinquency among some of the younger generation. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that military discipline with its 816 superficial attraction, does not provide an answer to the problem. I would much sooner look at what is said about the general educational system in the Crowther Report which is clean contrary to the rather outdated and narrow way of dealing with the matter by discipline.
On page 394, in a little discussed part of its Report, referring to the various aptitudes and interests of children and the different way in which they learn, and after a most interesting comment on the way in which this needs to be fostered, the Crowther Committee states:…we feel confident that the 'yield' of the whole educational system could be much increased if there were available a wider variety of forms of education and a wider choice of sequence in learning, so that every young person could find one"—that is, one way—designed to develop his potentialities in the most suitable way.The hon. Member is narrowing the field. Hon. Members on this side of the House wish to widen it. As he rightly said, the trouble at Clacton was due very much to boredom; the fact that many of these young people had not had a sufficiently wide educational background or education, to teach them to want to do something more constructive than that which they did.
§ Sir C. Taylor
I do not disagree with the hon. Member about that. I tried to make clear that it is not only examination successes which count. Education does not consist only of examination successes. When a boy or girl goes to a university for an interview very often they are asked just one question, "How many A levels have you?" If they have fewer than two or three they are turned down, simply because of a lack of academic prowess. Questions are not asked about character.
§ Mr. Boyden
I think that we both may take encouragement for the future from the fact that most of the reports published recently—including the Robbins Report, and particularly the Crowther Report—emphasise that one of the features of our educational system which is re Miss is that we put far too much emphasis on the flier and neglect the majority of school children, which is, of course, the hon. Member's proposition, and I agree with him.
817 I disagree that military discipline which is superficially attractive provides a way to deal with this serious problem—I would not say of delinquency, it is much wider—posed by the activities of young people who feel rootless and who have no contribution to make, largely because they have been frustrated at school. There are many other problems, but I wish to refer specifically to that aspect.
As hon. Members may know, I have had a good deal of experience of adult education and in dealing with a very different type of person, the type who has not derived from his schooling all that he should have done, but who later blossoms out as a result of adult education. I do not want to develop that theme now. I had my tussle with the Under-Secretary a few days ago and I do not wish to return to it today. In a way, it is the other side of this problem raised by the whole question of schooling.
What I think absolutely vital is the need to look at those parts of the system where a backward child, a child of less than average ability, becomes frustrated. I will go so far as to say that the implementation of the recommendations in the Robbins Report, which, I welcome—many of us have spent a lot of time trying to get these ideas across—is imperative, because the ordinary mother and father of the ordinary boy and girl may feel that far too much money will be spent on educating the flier It is as much in the interests of the flier that there should be a broad-based good educational system as that money should be specifically devoted to higher education.
After 12 years of Tory administration the situation is not all that encouraging. In 1963, there were 1,644 fewer women teachers in the primary schools, and also in these schools were three-quarters of the temporary teachers and 80 per cent. of the occasional teachers. The number of temporary unqualified teachers increased by 20 per cent. between 1962 and 1964. Most of them are in the primary schools. Despite the fact that efforts have been made—I do not deny that efforts have been made—in view of the increase in the number of children in the primary schools the situation is worse than it was some years ago.
When we are dealing with the problems to which reference has been made, 818 such as the Clacton problem, an important aspect is the way in which, in the schools, the Ministry supports developments for the education of backward children. The Minister has announced a good building programme for the building of special schools, but there have been no moves at all to solve the more important problem of providing properly trained teachers for backward children.
This is more fundamental than the rather narrow point about numbers. It means that in the past the problem of backward children in schools has been neglected. It is my guess that the majority of the juvenile delinquents, the bored young people, were backward at school and, in many cases, educationally subnormal. There are other problems, but this is something about which we need to see a marked improvement if we are to cope with the problems of delinquency.
On 2nd March, in answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell) the Minister of Education gave the total number of teachers who have attended special courses for the teaching of handicapped children as 1,454. When that figure is analysed one finds that the majority of them are not now in L.E.A. special schools, but in administrative posts and elsewhere. Only a very small number of these trained teachers are teaching handicapped children, with the result that there has been a lack of that professional expertise and attention which is absolutely necessary. The present waiting list is a comment on this. In January, 1963, there were 13,000 children, most of them educationally subnormal, waiting for places in special schools.
What I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to say is that not only is the substantial building programme going forward but that we have already started with a much more realistic attempt to train teachers of backward children. Otherwise, we shall have a situation in which new schools are provided, but there is nothing like the quality of teachers needed for those schools. In almost all ordinary schools there are a number of children who are backward. Very rarely are there any teachers specially trained to deal with this problem.
819 I commend to the Under-Secretary the suggestion that there should be a central special teacher training college for dealing with teachers of educationally subnormal and backward children. There should be a far greater element of special courses in training colleges for this work and there should be a great deal more research and interest taken in it than there has been over the past, partly medically and partly educationally. There should be a much greater drive to have remedial and adjustment classes in the normal schools. This is an excellent field for recruitment of married women who want to do part-time work. Very often they are particularly suitable for this work. They are sympathetic and there is a great advantage in having a part-time teacher from outside the ordinary school life to handle this problem.
The second problem is that of continuing the interest of young people when they are about to leave school and go into industrial and adult life. The Industrial Training Act is nothing like enough to cope with the general educational needs of young people. One of the great things about the Newsom Report is that it highlights the need for a careful transition from the last year of secondary modern school into adult life. Its basic contention, which is thoroughly sound, is that in the last years of school there should be a more adult attitude in language and in subjects which should be related to adult life.
I found it disheartening that the Committee had to say that children leaving school should be given a pamphlet about further educational facilities. It is disheartening to find that the school employment bureaux have not enough staff to give care to children when they leave school. They cannot undertake enough interviews and follow up cases of boys and girls after school.
The same applies to technical colleges. There are not enough field workers from the colleges to get among parents, children and industrialists and to co-ordinate the schemes of work which are so necessary. I ask the Under-Secretary whether, in implementing the White Paper, he expects a great increase of quasi-administrative staff to 820 do this work in technical colleges. I think that we all agree that the essential element in fostering these activities where there is no compulsion is for people to work in the field and make the necessary links. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to say something about that.
One of the keys to this situation of talking adult language in schools and interesting the older but not brilliant boys and girls, is a much greater recruitment of mature students to the training colleges and much greater recruitment of the already quite experienced and highly-qualified people back to the teaching profession. Time and again I have criticised in this House the inadequate recruiting campaign and inadequate grants for mature students. Throughout the educational world more and more prominent people are saying that this is the central key to getting more teachers. I hope that we shall have something more than comforting figures from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary about recruiting.
Hon. Members opposite quote figures, but the contribution in this field over the last 10 years has been really pitiful. There must be thousands of mature people who would make excellent teachers in county colleges, technical colleges and top forms of secondary modern schools who would come back to teaching if they felt that the grants they could get in training were more substantial and that they would get much more credit than they have in a financial way when they come into the classroom.
Not only would that help in dealing with the shortage of teachers, but it would also help with the bored children who are too eager to leave school.
§ 1.16 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
The whole House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor). I am particularly indebted to him for the last words of his Motion:various other aspects of education".This allows us to go slightly wide of the Motion, which I think is of great value as we are able to discuss the whole of education. The process of education cannot be defined only by age. It is a continuous process from the cradle to the grave. We all learn 821 something throughout our lives. As to when education should start and should finish, it is difficult to decide.
On 20th March we had a debate on a very similar subject, about the burden of the cost of education. I shall leave out from what I intended to say much of what was said on that occasion. When my lion. Friend opened this debate he paid particular tribute to cadet forces. With the greatest respect to him, I think that perhaps he placed over-emphasis on that facet of the subject and not enough on what I should call the general extramural studies, which are so important in our educational system.
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) mentioned the Boy Scouts and various other activities which in the schools tend to broaden a child's education. They make him look beyond the compass of books and academic studies within the confines of the school. This is one of the important aspects of education to which in our modern approach to the subject we should give great attention. The Duke of Edinburgh Award made to children of both sexes in schools is one of the spurs to gaining a fuller educational life. I have had the privilege of awarding one of these prizes. By this means, children begin to realise that their education is not entirely confined to the classroom.
In our modern approach some of us seem to forget that in any form of education some discipline is necessary. I do net say that we must go back to the old methods. But a child has to be taught, either at home or at school, to obey the rules and to grow up in an atmosphere of thinking about other people. We must have discipline in that sort of atmosphere. I am afraid that today in this affluent society many parents tend to back their children against the teacher. I was grateful to the hon. Member for Itchen, who was so courteous in giving way, for dealing with this point. I know that I have his sympathy in it. Too many children are backed by their parents, and in many cases they get unwarranted medical certificates. As a governor and manager of schools, I have discussed this problem frequently with headmasters and headmistresses. The essential trust which must exist between a parent and a teacher is completely broken down, 822 solely because they do not stand together. In this respect we should remind ourselves of an extremely important organisation which is developing, the parent-teacher organisation, which brings the parent into the atmosphere of the school.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
But too often the parent-teacher organisation serves as an excuse for not getting down to the real relationship between the individual parent and the individual teacher. Too often it is a social occasion on which it is difficult to do business.
§ Dr. Glyn
I entirely agree with the hon. Member, and I am grateful for his interruption, because this was a point which I was about to develop. If the parent-teacher organisations are to succeed they must recognise their primary object. The dance and the social function, to which the hon. Member rightly referred, are in my view a means of getting parents and teachers together, but what is far more important is that they should lead to the individual parent getting together with the individual teacher—the teacher who may find little Willy somewhat difficult and whose task would be made much easier, especially in a large class, if the teacher and the parent could get together. If we can all foster such an atmosphere we shall do much to help the parent-teacher relationship—and I am not referring only to the social functions.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I am not sneering at the social function but merely saying that it is not the whole job.
§ Dr. Glyn
I hope that I did not misrepresent the hon. Gentleman. I suggested that social functions were a means of initially bringing together two bodies of people whose interests must be the same—the benefit of the child. Once they have been brought together, the primary function should be developed. I entirely agree with the hon. Member.
During the debate, much has been said about examinations. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne referred, in particular, to the child who is not up to the academic standards. One of the difficulties about examinations is that we must have some test on the basis of which the teacher cart say to the parent, "Your child is not up to scratch". If that is done also by a report by the 823 teacher, the parent may well retort, "The child did not pass the examination because you gave him a bad report". I merely mention this to the House because teachers feel that it throws a great responsibility on them. We must bear this point in mind. There is great merit in managing without examinations, but we must realise the difficulties which it would impose on teachers vis-à-vis parents.
The hon. Member for Itchen spoke about many of the methods used in schools, including television and linguaphone, and the mechanical devices which are used. One of the most important things which we must do is to teach children to read and write the English language. In this world, in which the standard of education, happily, is rising, it is vital that children should not only be able to understand the various subjects but should be able to express them in proper English. This is something to which we should give great attention.
Of course there has been progress. I am one of those who always endeavour on a Friday to make non-political speeches because I believe that the House is at its best when it discusses these great subjects in a manner in which to some extent we divorce ourselves from a political atmosphere. We are discussing this subject to the benefit of those receiving education, the children.
We have made great progress since 1945 but we have a long way to go. One of the important problems in the provision of teachers is to obtain those in special scientific subjects. Here I wish to make a point which may or may not be well received by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I am sorry that I did not have the good manners to inform him of it previously, but I did not know, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether I should have the opportunity of catching your eye.
We have great difficulty in finding teachers. The competition from industry is so great and the rewards in industry so high that industry tends to draw off many people who in my view might have joined the teaching profession 10 or 15 years ago. In addition, when teachers entered the profession 15 years ago they entered a profession which was blessed with an extremely good superannuation 824 and pension scheme which did not exist to the same extent in industry. Today in industry we have schemes which are as good as or better than the teachers' scheme for pensions at the end of service. The competition from industry is therefore greater.
Is there any way in which we can, in the universities, technical colleges and sixth forms, obtain people from industry to act as spare-time teachers? There are many in industry who have been to university and, although they may not have a teaching degree, they would be of great value in a part-time capacity in educational institutions. Surely in this century, where the academic and technical departments are coming so close together, we can have a better liaison between the two which might be of great benefit to schools and universities. This proposal has complications, as I accept, because many firms are extremely unwilling to co-operate—except the larger firms. But I put the suggestion to my hon. Friend not as a supplementary method to the present method but as leading to a better interchange between the practical side of industry and teaching in schools and universities.
Mention has been made of school uniforms. I am one of those old-fashioned people who feel that parents are probably unduly pushed on this aspect when they feel strongly about it. Cases have been referred to me recently in which parents have felt very strongly about it, just as they might feel strongly against any other aspect of education. I am afraid that in some cases this is taken out of the child. Whatever may be the merits of school uniform, I feel that in no circumstances should the child be penalised because its parents do not approve of providing school uniform. This is completely nonpolitical. Parents must decide for themselves. Unless children go to a school where the parents must sign an agreement, as is the case with some grammar schools, that their children will wear the school uniform, parents should be free not to dress their children in the school uniform.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Itchen mentioned assembly. I believe that we should start our education with a religious service and continue it in that way, not only through the school 825 day but after school in extra-mural activities. That is what we want to achieve in our education system.
I do not want to be controversial. As a governor of a grammar school—Henry Thornton—and a manager of a denominational school—Macaulay Church of England—I want to say that this country has some excellent and well-established grammar schools. I believe that the education we give to the boys of the grammar school of which I am a governor is fine. I hope that, whatever Administration comes, such schools will be allowed to continue in the way in which they operate at the moment. The same applies to denominational schools. I am a manager of a Church of England school. I assure hon. Members that we should lose a great deal if we did not continue to back these schools. I should be the first to admit that many of their premises are very poor, but the extraordinary thing is that they attract the children, because the parents realise that the schools have something slightly different to offer. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary has been most generous in his approach to the school of which I am manager, and I am grateful to him.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I did not even suggest that there was such a proposal. I said that I hope, whatever Administration should come, that such schools will be fostered.
I want to say something about universities and technical colleges. I think that a lesson can be learned from the College of Building at Brixton. This is a school of high education which has never divorced itself from the practical tasks before it. Some of our approaches in the technical colleges may be a little too academic. I am one of those who believe that the education of someone in the building trade, for example, should include not only technical subjects but also some practical understanding of the rudiments of how the building trade operates and works.
Comparisons have been made with other countries. I personally am concerned only with education in this 826 country, and I shall confine myself to that subject. We must decide our priorities. No school can be judged only on its building. A school is correctly judged by its atmosphere and, to a much greater extent, by the education value the children obtain there. Much more important is the teacher side. Some schools are housed in the worst possible premises but have excellent teachers who achieve wonderful results. I know that we have built an enormous number of schools in the last 12 years, in fact since 1945. What we must watch all the time is the quality of teachers. I must confess that, faced with a choice between the quality of the teachers and the buildings, I would choose the quality of the teachers every time.
The size of classes has been mentioned. Of course we all want to reduce the size of classes. There is always a cry about primary schools having classes which are too large. The point is always made whether there should be fewer in the primary school or in the secondary school. This is a much more difficult problem than hon. Members realise. The age at which children develop varies. There are the early starters who would benefit from small classes in a primary school. There are the late starters who would benefit from small classes in the secondary schools. We must decide that we cannot give priority to either primary or secondary schools. We should make a general attempt to decrease the size of all classes.
I was one of those fortunate people who studied in my earlier years in a class of 12 or 15. I can well appreciate the difficulties of teachers with very large classes; their tendency to some extent must be to help the more forward children and to neglect the backward ones who are more difficult to teach or who cannot keep up with the general level. However much the teachers want to bring forward the backwards ones, the difficulty is one of practice, because unless they can keep up with the general standard they must lag behind. Few teachers can give their spare time to help the more backward children.
I want to pay a tribute to the governors and managers of schools, who have not been mentioned so far. They fit in to the whole pattern of education. They 827 fit in to the system of co-operation between parent and teacher, because governors and managers must co-operate and try to bring together the two interests in the general desire to increase the standard of education.
Another problem which entirely transcends political interests is whether the entry age should be raised. This is tied up with my earlier point that some children develop early and some develop late. I am of the opinion that an extra year at the end of the school curriculum is probably in the majority of cases more valuable than a year at the beginning. Hon. Members on both sides may have different views on this point.
The first step in persuading children to stay on at school voluntarily must be taken in the home. We are once again brought back to the home and to the necessity for parents to appreciate the value which would attach to their children staying on longer.
When children leave school and go into industry, one of the problems is that we must somehow bring together all forms of higher education so that children get the type of education which they require when they leave school. There are particular difficulties about things like day release courses, for which I have the greatest possible admiration. They are more difficult to operate in smaller firms than in larger firms, as the larger firms have a bigger float of employees and find it easier to release people.
One hon. Member discussed the question of the public schools. Any parent has a right, if he desires, to choose between putting his child into a fee-paying or a non-fee-paying school. Further, he has a right, if he desires, to surrender part of his income, if his child goes to a non-fee-paying school, to pay somebody to help his child in private tuition. It is the right of every parent to surrender a luxury if he wishes his own child to have a better education, or if his child is backward.
In the last decade we have made tremendous strides forward, and one hopes that in this very competitive world we will not neglect the important asset we have in this country; practical know-how. If we for a moment neglect our education we will, within 10 years, have 828 no place in the world. We must keep ahead of other countries and to do that we must maintain our lead in education. Perhaps one day our defence programme will not be as expensive and we may be able to divert more money into our education system, for I am sure that hon. Members of all parties would like to see that happen.
Who pays is another matter. Whether we pay for the education we provide by way of direct taxation or otherwise is not our first concern today, although I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will give an estimate of the national cost if the whole education system were paid for out of Exchequer funds. It has been suggested that it would mean an additional 1s. to 2s. on Income Tax. Everyone is always willing to put the burden on to some one else. Hon. Members appreciate—and I am not putting a view either way, although I agree that the rates are bearing too high a proportion of the costs of education—that education must be paid for somehow. We should know what it would cost if it were paid for by the central authority out of Exchequer funds, and if we were given the figure we could judge whether or not the burden should be shifted from the local to the central authority.
If we are to survive as a first-rate Power we must remember that education has many aspects. We must believe that the child must go from the classroom to some form of further education, whether in university, technical college or day release institution. Each facet of education must have its place and we should, at the same time, move the barriers which exist between academic and practical studies. Those two aspects should be brought closer together because the barriers are rapidly breaking away, anyway.
Apart from these considerations I do not believe that, whatever system of education we adopt—however fine our schools and universities—we will survive as a nation unless we preserve the background of family life. There must be co-operation between parents and children. Parents must make their children aware of the benefits that accrue from the education they receive. Children must be made aware of the importance of staying at school longer. Only by 829 the complete co-operation of all concerned can our education system be a real success.
§ 1.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)
I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) for raising this subject today. Education is one of the most political issues in the best sense of the term and I in no way object to electioneering taking place with the subject of education in the forefront. There is no better subject on which people should hold strong opinions, and while I accept the remark of the hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) that we can usually have good discussions on Fridays because they are generally non-political, it was a shame that he did not impress that upon his hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Bearish) because if that hon. Member was being non-political today, when he gets in the church halls at election time he must be a real ball of fire.
The Motion we are discussing is drawn in terms to allow a wide discussion. However, I wish to begin by saying something about the narrower point mentioned in the first part of the Motion, where it states:That this House is of the opinion that the cost, of educational services should be more widely spread so that an unfair burden shall not fall upon ratepayers in areas where there are few industries…and an undue proportion of retired people…I sympathise with any hon. Member who represents an area which has a great number of retired people, although I must reiterate the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) that there are similar problems for hon. Members who represent areas in which retired people live, whether or not there are large numbers of these people. If in the short run the Government intend to try to help retired people—as I admit they have been trying to do recently—they must not administer that help in such a way that it is of use to only the seaside areas. Old people have real problems wherever they live.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne was correct to say that education should cease to be a cost on the rates, although he ignored the fact that the changes in the grant system—the introduction of 830 the block in 1959; and I appreciate that there may have been arguments both for and against it—have distorted the financial relationship between the central and local authority in such a way as to have brought about some of the problems he is seeking to remedy.
As someone who for sonic years worked in schools, I agree that the cost of education should be a national charge. I also agree that the rates are a regressive tax, a bad tax. However, I must be fair because with two young children at primary schools and another who will soon be attending school I must admit that I get very good value as a parent. I am pleased not to have to pay fees for my children's education because those fees would be incomparably higher than the rates I pay—and I admit that I am prepared to share in the long run.
None the less, we are reaching the time when education is becoming such a cost on the nation that to have it borne entirely by the rates, this regressive local tax, is a bad thing. The costs of education are bound to increase. There is no way to prevent that from happening and it is worth recalling the warning given in the book Control of Education, by John Vaizey, in which the author stated that if 100,000 teachers suddenly arrived from Mars, already trained, and if 1,000 readily inflatable schools suddenly appeared on the scene, already built, the immediate extra cost to administer the new teachers and buildings would be £300 million. This shows that it is not just a question of capital cost. The normal running cost of our education system is bound to be an ever-growing bill and burden on the backs of the taxpayer—ratepayer or taxpayer; the nation must pay—and we must be ready to pay it and not just pay lip-service to what we need and the expenditure involved.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne talked of cadet corps and asked that the establishment of them in schools generally should be encouraged. I want there to be no misunderstanding about this. I taught in a grammar school for a good many years in which there was no cadet corps. There was an air training corps there, I believe during the war. At university I was a member of the university's air squadron before I joined 831 the Service, where I served for about five years. I say this to show that there is no question of my being anti-military.
Having made that clear, I must also point out that I feel strongly about adopting the system suggested by the hon. Member for Eastbourne in schools. If the aim of the sort of cadet corps he has in mind is narrowly education, then there are better ways of achieving his aim before children reach the age of 16. I am not enamoured at the idea of dressing little boys up, let alone little girls, in uniform on one day of the week. After the age of 16 they are more mature and it is a different matter. This is not a question of my being anti-military but of finding the best way of achieving what the hon. Member has in mind; and his cadet corps idea is not the best one.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne talked about the days of 1914 and 1939 and of having people trained so that they could eventually join the Armed Services and fight for their country. We are not concerned with that sort of problem today or even those sort of Services. We are today speaking in terms of having an all-professional Service. We no longer need conscripted Armed Forces of the 1914–18 and 1939–45 type.
Wherever there are cadet corps they must be voluntary. We must not have schools which revolve around the cadet units. I strongly object to schools and organisations where unless one belongs to the corps one is an outsider. I fear that certain State schools have gone in for the cadet corps idea in an effort to be like public schools. Where there are cadet corps I hope that they will be voluntary and in competition with other forms of institutions, such as the scouts.
I must comment on the remarks of the hon. Member for Eastbourne about corporal punishment in schools. During my years as a teacher there were many times when I would dearly have liked to have given some one a good clip round the ear. Naturally this urge occurred only rarely and momentarily; and I will not say that it never happened. Nevertheless, it is a bad thing. It is something that is generally done in the heat of the moment because someone has crossed you. Whatever happens the teacher must remember that he or she is deal- 832 ing with a human being. I am glad that in most schools there is no corporal punishment. This does not mean that I am against something of the kind for one's own children. There is not a close correlation between a school which has good discipline and a school which has corporal punishment. Research into this matter has recently been done in the West Riding and has borne this out. It has proved that things other than corporal punishment can result in good discipline.
Another remark of the hon. Member for Eastbourne which rather mystified me was that about university unions. He spoke as though the students were a sort of negotiating body with the vice-chancellor, against the rules. A long time ago I had the privilege of being the president of a university union. I can assure the hon. Member that our job was certainly not to put the students against the university authorities in the sense that we disagreed with the rules and regulations. That does not mean that we did not sometimes disagree with the authorities. I think that he was completely wrong in his evaluation of union societies. I may be doing the hon. Member an injustice, but that is the way I took it at the time.
He also drew a distinction between people of academic prowess and those who can run fast. He seemed to think that if one was not good at running, one was not very bright, but I am sure that the Under-Secretary will agree that this is not always the case. In my experience, it is not the case that someone who can run or play games is necessarily a little dim compared with someone who is very good in his academic work. Indeed, the correlation is often very close. There may, of course, be exceptions, but that is my general experience.
I should like to deal with the last part of the Motion—the modern approach to various other aspects of education. I want to refer first to management education. Hon. Members may feel that that is the wrong heading to give it, but it is the best that I can think of. There has been a great deal of development in the last 10 years in the technical colleges, the colleges of advanced technology, and at the universities, in management education. It seems that we may soon have 833 a Harvard type of education in this country.
If this is good enough for industry, why do not we have a similar institution for the educational world? Why should not future headmasters and headmistresses have the chance to attend a staff college on the lines of the ones for the Army, the R.A.F., the Navy and the Administrative Staff College? One of the great merits of this would be to mix people up from different types of schools.
There is a terrible chasm between people teaching in grammar schools and those teaching in primary schools. I had a case brought to my notice the other day where a young married woman, perfectly properly trained, was offered a part-time teaching job in an infants school, and she took it. All her neighbours said, "That is very nice for a beginning, but when you have been doing it for a while I expect that you will teach the more grown-up"—as if there was something inferior about teaching in a primary school.
Sometimes there is this attitude in the educational system as well, that if one teaches the sixth form one is very superior compared with someone teaching lower down. It would be a good thing if, at a staff college, there could be a mixing of these people.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that very often it is harder to teach in a primary school than it is to teach a sixth form which has a much higher standard of intelligence?
§ Mr. Rees
I wholeheartedly agree. There are certain attributes of head-mastering which one cannot learn. There are also certain attributes of administration which could be greatly improved if discussed and talked about, and new ideas considered. In any event, I believe that what is good enough for the Armed Services is good enough for education.
On the question of administration, there are two matters to which I should like to refer. Why is it that so many colleges of different kinds, when they know that they are to come out of the control of the L.E.A., whether by becoming independent in some way or by coming directly under the Ministry, heave a sigh of relief? They may not do so in public, but in private they say, 834 "Thank heavens, we are not going to remain under the L.E.A." This is again the kind of snobbery that we have in education—that if one is away from the L.E.A., one is better.
There is another reason, however, which has been put to me very strongly, that the speed of administration on small matters, not major matters, is greatly slowed down under the procedure of the L.E.A., by minutes going before this or that sub-committee and then eventually the full council on matters which are not important. I am wondering what has happened, arising out of this, to what was known as the Hertfordshire experiment of some years ago. I would generalise on this point rather than refer in particular to Hertfordshire, but I have no reason to think that there is no similarity between the two points.
In most schools, electricity bills have to be paid for which are not within the ambit of the headmaster. Someone comes from the L.E.A., reads the meter, and the electricity is paid for in a block account. When it comes to school books they have to be applied for in quadruplicate, and although I have managed to find out where three of the forms went, I never found out where the fourth went. The same applies to the ordering of games equipment, and so on. As I understand it, Hertfordshire tried the experiment of saying to the headmaster, "Here is a block grant of £3,000. This was approximately the amount of money that you spent last year on all these things. Spend it in any way you like." The great merit of this is that one does not have the silly system, as now, that if one has not spent all the book allowance, one quickly spends it before the end of the year because one cannot carry it over to the following year.
Think of what happens in the case of electricity. Lights are burning in a school, and as one goes out one may forget to switch them off. If one could save £50 on the electricity account in that school in a year and, as a result, one could get more equipment, one would soon remember to turn the lights out. We should then be putting the control of minute expenditure where it ought to be, in the control of the school itself. I a in asking for a liberation of schools of all sorts, away from some of the pettifogging administration 835 arrangements that we have at the moment. There would not be a great saving in the general sense of the term, but it would be the sort of saving which would give individuality to a school, so that schools which wanted to develop in one way or another could do so. I have heard it argued that there might be headmasters who would skimp on electricity and that this would mean that children would develop bad eyesight. But arguments of that kind are not valid.
I believe that there should be more administration in the school itself, and one way out is to have a bursar in most schools above a certain size. The administration would be done in the school, and not at the education office.
That brings me to a point raised by the hon. Member for Clapham, the question of governing bodies. Sections 19 and 20 of the Education Act, 1944, lay down that there shall be a governing body for every county secondary school. Section 20 says that if need be there can be a grouping of schools. I am pleading for every school to have its own individual governing body, which fits in with what I have said about allowing schools to have a certain amount of freedom in what they do.
A long time ago I taught in a school where there was one governing body for 18 schools. I did not know who was on that body. When those people came to the school to receive the report of H.M.I., somebody had to guide them to the library. They did not know the staff of the school. If there is any merit in the Sections that I have mentioned, it must be that there should be an individual governing body for every school, the members of which should be selected not only from the local council but from nearby technical colleges and universities.
Let us give individuality to the State schools. If it is good enough for the independent schools to be run in the way that I have suggested, even allowing for the different nature of the administration involved between the two, I consider that State schools should be given individuality.
These matters of governing bodies and administration lower down in the educational hierarchy bring me to the point 836 raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), the status of teachers in general. It is no longer the case, as it was before the war, that school teaching is an avenue of escape for a working-class lad of parts. Teaching used to be a cheap way of getting advanced education when it was difficult to get to universities. This is no longer the case.
When I was in the sixth form, there were six pupils. Later, when I taught the same sixth form, there were 120 students. A high proportion of them were going into the new professions which have developed during the middle years of the 20th century. These were competing for the minds of people who formerly would have turned to teaching.
I link that to the fact that the status of the teacher is low. If a young man is asked, "Are you going to become a teacher?" the answer is invariably, "No". We can say what we like about teaching being an honourable profession, and that it is something on which the community depends, but a lower proportion of the young men of today are going into it. One reason for that is financial. Young people today believe that they will be paid enormous sums of money in the industrial world. This is not always so, but, underlying everything, is the fact that the status of a teacher is not very high.
I believe that some of the things that I have suggested, particularly with regard to administration, are the background to far more important issues in this respect. However, the more we can make people feel that they are individuals, the more it will have at least a marginal effect on raising the status of teachers.
One of the most difficult professions to leave, even if one wants to go back at some time, is the teaching profession because of the financial arrangements which exist in it, particularly in regard to pension rights, and so on. They are about the worst in the semi-professional world. It is a good thing for teachers to get out of the profession from time to time. If they could go into industry for a year or so, and then go back to teaching, it would benefit both them and their pupils. It is not a question of failure. Sometimes when one is in what might be regarded as a small community, it is a good thing to get out 837 into the world outside for a year or two and then return to it. I have found that those who were teachers before the war and returned to their profession after spending a few years in the Forces brought a breath of different air into the schools.
I hope that this question of the status of teachers will be considered. When I talk to teachers whom I do not know personally, they are almost ashamed to admit that they are full-time teachers. They almost always add that they do a little of something else. They say they are in charge of the book store, or that they run the library, and that they are given certain free periods to do these other jobs, rather than admit that they teach full time. It is almost as if they thought that the further one gets away from actual classroom teaching, the more superior one is in the teaching world. All this is not capable of translation by the Government in a narrow Act of Parliament, but some of the things that I have mentioned about individualism would help us to deal with this problem.
Since 11 o'clock this morning I have, in general, enjoyed the debate and learned a lot from it, but I was sorry to hear some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Lewes. One question about which I feel extremely strongly is comprehensive education. The hon. Gentleman came out with the stuff that one hears at political meetings about destroying the grammar schools. Any education that I received after the age of 11 was due to my passing the 11-plus and going to a grammar school. I taught in a grammar school, and the last thing that I would do is to destroy that system.
It ill becomes people who do not use the grammar school system, and who were educated at public schools, to criticise it. Being an examiner, I know that public schools are comprehensive. They are not the same tightly knit group that one gets in grammar schools, they are comprehensive. The situation varies from public school to public school, but the range of ability that one gets is different.
To put it in the narrow sense of the term, the parent who normally sends his child to a public school would not send him to a secondary modern school, but 838 to another type of public school where the ability range may be wider. The narrow point is that I am very taken, except in one respect, with the developments which have taken place in Leicestershire, with the split at 10 and again at 14. No scheme is perfect, but this is comprehensive education.
I feel strongly about the comprehensive principle, and I hope that in the General Election we shall not have it thrown on to the political platform that the party to which I am proud to belong is in favour of only one form of comprehensive school. The develop in Leicestershire is one way of dealing with the problem and in Leeds, part of which city I represent, there are a number of 11–18 comprehensive schools, as well as the old type of grammar school. With the good will of both sides of the council chamber, they are searching for a scheme which will be a sort of West Riding scheme. I put it no more strongly than that.
A Bill is coming from another place which will allow this change to take place at 10. That is what I mean by comprehensive education, and that is what my party means by it. It is a great pity if on the narrow political issues outside the House pit should be pushed around that my party wants to lower standards and wants to impose only one form of comprehensive education.
It ill becomes people who themselves are not going to use this system—and I put no blame on them for that in this context—to slow up progress, because that is what it would mean. I assure hon. Members that there is nothing that concentrates the mind more on this than to have a lad of 9 or 10 years. All one's theories fly out of the window if one has somebody in the family who in a month or two will take some sort of examination and will be selected in some way.
I ask that, however we develop education, we take the best out of the grammar schools and spread it in such a way that we cater not just for "O" level and "A" level education, the narrow academic education which was mentioned, and that consequently we have in the grammar schools children of a wider age range.
Just before and immediately after the war narrow pedagogues said that there were three types of children. They were 839 referring to a report published in 1938 where that was said. There are not.
I should like hon. Members to consider the secondary modern schools, of which there are some in my constituency, where there are large numbers of children doing "O" level in six or seven subjects. If the 11-plus is as accurate as all that, why do we have to have secondary modern schools which are comprehensive in the academic sense of the term? The hon. Member who spoke in that vein did a great disservice to education. I am prepared to let him have a knockabout turn in terms of figures and statistics and of what happened in the past, but education and the swapping at the age of 11 is far to important an issue, certainly for me, to have it bandied about in that sort of way.
I am glad to hear that 90 out of 140 local education authorities are experimenting in new approaches to secondary education which will allow for children who develop at different times. We are concerned with the individual child and not some amorphous mass. If there is one contribution which we can make to education in general it is by showing concern for the individual not only generally but also in the schools.
Everybody turns back to the 1944 Education Act. It is important to look through it, as I have done this morning, and realise that parents matter in this equally as much as administrators. What the parents say matters. If a parent has sufficient money to buy education the parent's view plays a part. If not, the future of one's child is determined by a bit of paper which comes through the post some time in May to say that the child has not been selected for grammar school education. It is worded much more generally, but to make out that there has been a very accurate assessment.
The parent matters as well. If it is the case that with greater affluence parents are more interested in education, this point will be much more important in the future. My own future at the age of 11 was determined by the State. I am not going to hand over to anybody else, administrator or whoever it may be, the say as to what is to happen to my child. The parent has a right to play a part in all this.
840 The second point is the supply of teachers. In the debate at the end of January the then Minister of Education gave figures which showed that by 1969–70 we would be short of 35,000 teachers and that as a result of the raising of the school leaving age there would be a shortage of 55,000. In other words, as a community we are legislating for a shortage of teachers. Whatever else we do, whatever grandiose plans we have in the educational world of programmed learning and bigger schools and bigger windows, the lot, if we are legislating for a shortage of teachers we are asking for trouble.
I very much agree with the hon. Member for Clapham that what matters far more than anything else is the quality of teachers and the number of teachers. It was said in a debate in another place that one-fifth of the children in primary schools are still being taught in classes of more than 40. Unless we correct this, both sides of the House will have failed in the educational scene. The supply of teachers must have the priority which we all gave in 1940 to the supply of aircraft. If all of us in the community applied our minds as singly to this as we did on that occasion to material things, we would solve the problem not in the next four or five years but certainly in the next decade. I hope that, whatever Government are in power, and of course I have my priorities here, greater attention will be given to this.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)
All of us have listened with great interest to the extremely reasonable and reasoned speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees). One point with which I very much agreed was his suggestion that the school themselves should be given a block grant. This does not only apply to schools. I know of hospitals where money saved on one thing cannot be spent on another. This is false economy. I entirely agree with the hon. Member.
I am the proud representative of Bromsgrove which is a renowned centre of education. Apart from the normal types of education provided in most towns, we have also a public school, a college of further education, and a teachers' training college, which has just been opened. The provision of teachers' 841 training colleges is one of the ways in which the shortage of teachers can best be tackled. I hope that many more of these colleges will be built.
Education is a very complex matter. There are many facets to it—primary, secondary and further education. I would like to devote a short space of time to talking about further education. I am not belittling the other side, far from it, but people with far greater expert knowledge than I possess have already referred to it. I believe that further education is vitally important not only for the imparting of knowledge but for developing the characters of individuals at a very important stage of their lives.
When one goes into the question of further education one thinks first of the universities. They are vitally important and I am glad to see that many more university places are to be provided, but it is not every boy and girl who is qualified to go to university. We have agricultural colleges, colleges of further education, art schools, drama schools and technical colleges, all of which play an important part in adolescent life.
I would recommend another idea which I think would be useful. The more interchange of children of that age there is between one country and another the better. If children are able to spend a few months in France, Belgium, Holland and other countries, this broadens their minds, gives them wider ideas of life and, incidentally, teaches them a language. In between the time that my own son left school and went into the Army, he went out to Tours University for about eight months.
The first important result of that visit was that it made him a man. He went off on his own, and that was a good thing. Secondly, he learned that there were other countries in the world besides England, with their own problems, and so on. Also, he learned French, though I must admit that when he came back my wife said that he was speaking English with a very strong Swedish accent. Apparently while he was out there, there were some very charming Swedish girls there at the same time. The important point is that his visit did him a power of good.
Yesterday, we had a very interesting and important debate on dangerous 842 drugs, with particular reference to pep pills of the "purple heart" variety. The argument which is often put forward, with which I do not disagree, is that the reason our teen-agers resort to these pep pills is boredom. It is ghastly to feel that young people should be bored. I believe that they want something exciting to do, but surely with the modern changes that are happening so rapidly, such as the development of new types of aircraft, this should not be a time of boredom.
I commend such schemes as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and the Outward Bound Scheme. They are adventurous. I also commend the youth clubs. The youth club organisers are first-class men. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State has helped recently in getting the existing youth club in my constituency rehoused, and the people concerned are extremely grateful. These youth clubs are very important because the members have an opportunity to continue to learn.
I should like my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to consider the building of social centres in new housing estates. These are vital, for they enable the residents in these estates to continue their education. They can learn needlework and take part in dramatics and singing. This is all part of our social structure, and is very important.
I now come to a point on which I disagree with hon. Members opposite. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) raised the question of the cadet corps. I wholeheartedly support him. I believe there was possibly some misunderstanding on the benches opposite when some hon. Members said that my hon. Friend was being narrow in his approach to this subject. In fact, he did not say that everybody should become a cadet. He merely said that the opportunity to join the cadet corps should be available. I was a member of my O.T.C., though it was not compulsory to join. I am certain that that is what my hon. Friend meant, that people should be able to join such corps.
A cadet corps can do a tremendous amount of good. It teaches boys character, it teaches them to serve and gives then an interest. But—and this is a big "but"—I believe that the cadet 843 corps are badly neglected. Some time ago I was fortunate enough to go to Canada with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Sir W. Taylor), who was then Under-Secretary of State for Air, to look at the Air Cadet Corps there. What a difference there was. It was flourishing, great interest was taken in it by industrialists and other wealthy people, and the subscriptions came pouring in. The boys were taught exciting things and were allowed to use exciting weapons. They were able to fly, even to Germany, where they watched some N.A.T.O. exercises and saw modern weapons in use.
A year ago, in the debate on the Army Estimates, I said:The Army cadet is a very valuable young chap.… He enters the Cadet Force with a certain enthusiasm and is a potential Regular. He does not join the Regular Army, however, simply because nothing imaginative is done to help him while he is a cadet. He may be able to fire a .303 rifle with a tube down its barrel so that it fires .22 ammunition, but I know of many examples where even firing exercises on the ranges have had to be cancelled because of lack of transport."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1963; Vol. 673, c. 1620.]Two years ago, in Worcestershire—in Redditch, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove—two 15 cwt. vehicles were available to take boys on training. This is not enough. If these boys were allowed to fly aircraft and, possibly, to make parachute jumps, to join in the exercises and to see the exciting modern weapons which we now have, a great deal of good would be done.
I am not suggesting that we must all be warlike—far from it—but I do believe wholeheartedly in the value of a cadet force. I also believe that to get the best value from it we must show the boys something realistic rather than merely allowing them to meet on a Saturday morning and fire half a dozen rounds of .22 ammunition.
On Sunday, I am going on parade in Hyde Park, to the Cavalry memorial service. This is always a wonderful experience. Thousands, some old, some young and some serving soldiers, attend. We have a short service, and the pleasure of meeting each other is immense. An hon. Member opposite said earlier in the debate that people do not like to go back to their old schools because they have a bitter feeling about it. I can assure the hon. Member that there is no 844 bitter feeling among the people who will parade in Hyde Park on Sunday, because they were trained in camaraderie and they were trained to serve.
Much of that spirit is lacking in the country today. When I come off the parade and go to the other end of the park, where I see some of the scallywags marching in under the guise of Communism, I say to myself, "How I would like some of the good chaps who have just been dismissed from the parade to have some of these fellows on parade and teach them a bit of discipline." I am not advocating an attitude of Nazism, or anything like that, but I certainly believe that discipline is a good thing.
In many ways, although it was a most inefficient form of service, I regret that conscription was abolished, because it did a tremendous amount of good in instilling discipline. Vitally important though primary and secondary education are, further education plays a very great part particularly in the training of character and behaviour among the present generation.
§ 2.29 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
As is well known, on a Private Members' day it is customary to have not a winding-up speech from the Dispatch Box but an intervention. We do not wish to wind up because there are still, I am happy to say, other hon. Members who will be making valuable contributions. If only out of courtesy to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor), who was fortunate enough to win a place in the Ballot, I think there should be some comment on his Motion from the Dispatch Box on this side of the House.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his choice of subject. We do not always have the benefit of his opinions in education debates, and it is, therefore, all the more gratifying that he should have decided to use his good luck in the Ballot in this way. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that, because his Motion was drawn in rather wide terms, we have had a rather wide-ranging debate. This has had some advantages, enabling hon. Members with knowledge in different spheres to draw upon their experience, but in some ways, perhaps, the debate has been a little diffuse. It would be impossible to follow all the subjects raised, which have ranged from infant 845 education to further education, teacher supply, boards of governors and almost every conceivable aspect of education. I am sure, therefore, that the House will understand if I do not try to deal with all the points which have been made. I wish to confine myself almost entirely to the terms of the Motion itself.
Before turning to the Motion, however, I cannot fail to comment on what I thought was the rather unfortunate speech of the hon. Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish). As his hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) very properly said, usually in our Friday debates we are earnest seekers after truth rather than propagandists. I was sorry that the hon. Gentleman felt impelled to use what I could only imagine was a brief supplied by the Conservative Central Office. It smelt more of that than of his own midnight oil.
§ Mrs. White
Not a word of it? If I am doing the hon. Gentleman an injustice, I withdraw. All I can say is that he must have done a very great deal of homework to dig out all those figures unaided. It was a pity that the hon. Gentleman felt that he had to put a very strong political slant on a good deal of his speech.
I shall not deal with all the detail which the hon. Gentleman deployed. I merely remind the House of two matters. If one is to make comparisons between the present Administration and that of the Labour Government between 1946 and 1951, in regard to education more particularly, there are two factors to be taken into account in every statistic. On the physical side, one has to bring into the balance the war damage which had to be dealt with, all the repairs which had to be done not only to schools but to houses, factories, docks, railways and every sort of physical installation. On the other side, it must not be forgotten that, if one has 1½ million more children in the schools, and if one has compulsory education, one has to provide for those children, and, obviously, the rate of expenditure must go up unless one changes the law of the land to a quite considerable extent.
It was interesting to note that, when the hon. Gentleman came to his own 846 constituency problems, we had the other side of the medal. Then, it was not all the glowing record which one can display when confining oneself to generalities. The moment the hon. Gentleman reached the particular, we heard that his own education authority had had less than half what it had asked for, that this had continued for five years running, that for its minor works programme it had had only 21 per cent. of its requests, that there was a school with six different sets of premises for the one establishment, and so on. In fact, we had from the hon. Gentleman, in minature, the whole case which we make from this side of the House.
Of course, we do not claim that nothing has happened in the last 12 years. A very great deal has been done, and I should be the first to pay tribute to the advances which have been made in education, in both quality and quantity, over the last decade or so. Nevertheless, against that record of progress, which we all recognise and of which we can all properly be proud, there is the undoubted fact that on three occasions where schools were concerned the Minister not only did not permit local education authorities to enter upon programmes for which they had asked but, in 1952, 1957 and 1961, to give three dates, programmes already approved were cut hack. I am not now even going into the question of what happened to the university grants only about three, years ago. Now, of course, everyone is pro-Robbins, but this was not true a little while back.
To give just one example, the sort of problems facing us in education are exemplified by the remark made about ten days ago by Mr. Percy Lord, the Director of Education for Lancashire, one of our largest authorities, who pointed out that in his own area alone there were 1,200 primary schools with between 40 and 50 children per class. As he said, conditions of that kind in such areas as Lancashire make a mockery of much of the progressive talk one hears in education circles.
We face a challenge in our education service, and it is far better that we should not squabble too much about what one side or the other did, but, rather, we should be determined together to improve 847 conditions which, we all agree, are not anything like as satisfactory as they ought to be and are not yet giving all children and young people the opportunities which they ought to have.
The Motion raises three separate issues. The first is an important one dealing with the financing of the education programme. If I do not deal with that at such length as I should otherwise have wished, this is partly because the House, as recently as 20th March last, had the benefit of a full debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) on this very important subject of local government finance and the relationship between local and national government expenditure. It would be a little wearisome if one tried to go through all the arguments again. The documents are available to any hon. Member in the Vote Office.
We on this side of the House are concerned about the feeling in the country that the balance between local and national expenditure is, perhaps, not what it should be. We are perfectly well aware that the proportion of local government expenditure devoted to education is very large and that this rather sharpens the anxieties of those who are concerned about rates. We should, I think, be fully justified in pointing out that the inquiry now taking place into the whole question of the relationship between local and national expenditure was asked for as long ago as November, 1960, from this Dispatch Box, and, had it been undertaken at that time, we should not now have so many ratepayers in difficulties. At least, we should have been within sight of solving some of the problems. I need hardly say that their problems are, of course, made all the more acute by other policies of the Conservative Government. If I mention interest rates and land prices and leave it at that, the House will understand what I mean.
I have here a letter, which, I presume, all hon. Members have received this week, from a body known as the United Ratepayers' and Residents' Campaign, which includes among its constituent members the National Federation of Owner-Occupiers and the National Union of Ratepayers' Associations. This body, by a resolution passed at a rally held at Caxton Hall 10 days ago, demands the 848 transfer of all education costs to the national Exchequer and asks that we ensure that this becomes effective with the passing of the 1964 Finance Bill.
We have given a great deal of thought to this problem in the Labour Party. We consider that the problem of the relationship between local and national finance is a much larger one than merely the problem of financing education—the cost of the very large proportion of local government expenditure which goes to education and, within that, the large proportion of education expenditure which goes upon the salaries of teachers. As an interim measure, possibly before we have worked out the full implications of the possible change in the relationship between local and national finance—and we have said this in the document Signposts for the Sixties, which I am sure the hon. Member for Lewes carries with him as well as his other documents—we believe that not necessarily 100 per cent. but a large proportion of the cost of teachers' salaries in particular should be transferred to the national Exchequer.
We believe that this would be a logical step in the light of recent developments and that, as an interim measure, prior to the general reorganisation of the relationship between national and local government from the financial point of view, this would provide a substantial alleviation of the rate burden, which would be rational from the national point of view. We think that this is desirable.
I was much interested in the points put forward by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) but I do not think that my hon. Friend and I would accept his definition of democratic local government—the idea that education should be run by nominated specialists and not by local authorities. That is not our view of things. There are other countries—France is an example—where education is run under a highly centralised, highly specialised and highly bureaucratic system. All I say is that I do not think this is within the British genius. I do not think it is our way of doing things. Although I welcome the greater initiative from the centre which, to be fair, in the last year or two has been manifest at the Ministry, in the setting up of the Schools Council and so on, in general terms I believe that 849 we should evolve our educational administration on our own historic lines.
Under the present system it is possible for specialists to be co-opted on to education authorities. They do not necessarily have to be politically active in other spheres of local government if they do not wish to be. Within our present arrangements there is room for exactly the sort of person described by the hon. Member for Crosby. Thinking in terms of the regional reorganisation of government, there may be a case for larger areas of educational administration than are provided by the existing local authorities. There may be developments on those lines. In Wales we have our Welsh Joint Education Committee, on which are represented all our Welsh education authorities. For certain purposes they act together. It may be that, following our example. England will wish to experiment in similar directions. If so, good luck to her.
§ Mr. Graham Page
In the light of what the hon. Lady has said, I ought to make it clear that I was not advocating greater bureaucratic control from the centre. I am with her in relation to the experiments to which she has referred. But there may be a half-way house between the present structure and a more bureaucratic structure.
§ Mrs. White
It depends how one defines the word "bureaucracy". I am inclined to regard nominated people as being nearer bureaucrats than democrats. There is much to be discussed in this field, and I should like to see a whole day's debate devoted to the subject of the finance and administration of our education system.
The second part of the Motion, which has been referred to by many hon. Members, suggests that cadet corps should be encouraged in public, grammar and secondary modern schools. It has already been pointed out that this, presumably, is to deal with boys only.
§ Sir C. Taylor
Not necessarily; there was the W.A.A.F. There are other similar girls' organisations—or there should be.
§ Mrs. White
Not much has been said about that side of it. The hon. Member himself did not discuss it. Having been only to a girls' school, I have no direct 850 experience of the cadet corps. Because of that I decided that I had better do a little more homework on it. I was much interested in some recent references to this very subject. Not long ago an article in the Observer said that "the cadet corps is no longer its old self". It pointed out that it used to be the heart of the old régime, but that this was no longer true at Marlborough, Winchester and similar schools.
On the other hand, the organisation in Cambridge—the Advisory Centre for Education—which publishes an extremely interesting magazine called Where?, recently carried out a survey of public schools and direct grant and other schools, and it went into this question in some detail. It carried out a representative inquiry into public schools and direct grant schools, and a rather narrower survey of grammar schools and maintained schools. According to its calculations, no less than 93 per cent. of public schools ran cadet corps, and at no less than 67 per cent. of those schools membership was compulsory.
It said that theoretically one in three—the remaining third of public schools—give the boys an option of not joining, but that many headmasters who said that it was not compulsory were candid enough to add, "But all boys join". Cadet corps were to be found in 84 per cent. of the direct grant schools, and in 29 per cent. of these membership was compulsory. As one would suppose, in the maintained schools 32 per cent. of those which replied to the questionnaire said that they ran cadet corps and at only 6 per cent. was membership compulsory.
I have nothing against cadet corps for those who want them, and especially—as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) said, in his most interesting and stimulating speech—for the older pupils aged 16 and upwards who have some opportunity of making up their own minds. But I would never send any child for whom I was responsible to a school where it was compulsory. I am completely against compulsory cadet corps for anyone. Although the hon. Member for Eastbourne did not suggest that they should be compulsory, he implied that this form of youthful activity was to be encouraged and, by implication, that it was more important than a number of other possible activities.
851 I agree with those hon. Members who have pointed out that there are many other ways in which young people can learn self-discipline, which is the discipline that really matters. They can learn to be active and constructive in a number of activities without necessarily having to join an organisation of this sort. To strengthen my belief in this I looked up some of the details concerning schools that appear in the Public Schools Year Book—so that it would not appear that I was in any way prejudiced—and I took one at random which did not appear to have a cadet corps.
The school has a wide range of activities which are open to any young person who wants to do things outside his ordinary schoolwork. Apart from academic societies it ran a dramatic society, a music society, a photographic society, a film-making club, a chess club, a field club, a young farmers' club and clubs for sailing, fencing, golf, badminton, boxing, judo and climbing. Anybody who wants variety in the summer holidays does not necessarily have to go to camp, because last year organised visits were arranged to Israel, Russia, Italy, Yugoslavia and the Arctic Circle. In addition, there is a voluntary service unit, which I found particularly interesting and which is becoming the practice more and more at schools of all kinds where the boys are responsible for helping old people, the blind and other handicapped persons.
One should, therefore, put all this into perspective. I agree with the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) that if there is a cadet corps, it should be properly run and financed and given proper facilities, but it should be only one of a large number of possible choices, there should be no element of compulsion about it and the youngsters should have the widest possible range of activity open to them.
I want this opportunity to be available for all children and not simply for those at schools listed in the Public Schools Year Book. One of the most gratifying things in recent years has been the extension of activities in our maintained schools. I have mentioned the places to which the boys from one public school went during the last academic year. The other day, I was at a bilateral technical modern school in Middlesex 852 and was delighted to find that one party had just come back from Italy and another from France. Another had been camping in Devon and a trip to Russia was being organised for this summer. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is an expert on the school ship courses and has had a great deal to do in organising them. There are many encouraging signs that at a large number of schools at least, this side of the development of young people is becoming more and more appreciated and that we are trying to get better facilities.
Let us not be too optimistic, however. Half of our primary schools are still without proper playgrounds and half are without proper indoor halls where activities can be carried out. I do not say that we do not have many fine new schools—we have—but we still do not have anything like enough. There are still a large number of children who do not have the chance adequately to learn the personal skills which make it possible for the adult to have a well-balanced, interesting and enjoyable life.
It must surely be one of the great aims of our education to ensure that no child is deprived of the possibility of learning some kind of skill, physical, aesthetic or whatever it might be, which appeals to him, which will stand him in good stead throughout his life and which he will be able to carry on from school. I hope very much that as we are to have the pleasure of an intervention from the Joint Under-Secretary of State, he will be able to tell us a little bit of what the Government are doing about sport. We could have no better representative than the hon. Gentleman. His right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, we have been assured by the Prime Minister, has an athletic mind. We may have to take that on trust, but, at least, we know from the Under-Secretary of State's record that he has an athletic body.
We should very much like to know what the Secretary of State is doing, because to the best of my belief he is still Minister for Sport, although we do not hear a great deal about his activities in that direction. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made a speech when he was still in another place almost a year ago in which he spoke of the Committee which had been set up under the 853 chairmanship of Sir Patrick Renison. He said that the Committee was looking into matters but that the Government had turned down the recommendation by the Wolfenden Committee for a sports development council, an idea which, the right hon. and learned Gentleman admitted, had considerable attraction to him. All that we have heard since then is that a modest grant is to be given to help our representatives at the Olympic Games. Not much else has been told us. We had the rather scathing comment concerning the Olympic Games that nowadays, if anybody wants to go in for international sport, which, I admit, is specialised, he has to go the rounds of the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and I do not know where else before he can be cleared. This might be an opportunity to hear something about what is being done by the Government.
I should like to repeat a question which I put to the Joint Under-Secretary at Question time not long ago, when I asked how far the architect's department in the Ministry, which was responsible for advising the local authorities, had directed its attention to the possible dual use of facilities in school buildings. School buildings are used normally until 4 o'clock for school purposes and often until, say, 6 p.m. for the children's own out-of-school activities. If one wants then to use them for other activities for older people or to use them during school holidays, the buildings are often so designed that for quite understandable reasons, the head master, very often advised by the school caretaker, feels that he is unable to allow use of the buildings out of school hours because of the difficulties of supervision.
One of the things that we should seriously consider is that school buildings should be so designed that they not only serve their purpose as schools during the daytime and for the school's own out-of-school hours activities, but that they should be arranged in such a way, for example, that one wing can be used for purposes outside school hours or during holiday times without necessarily opening up the whole school and having people going round the buildings without proper supervision when the staff are not present.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
The hon. Lady is, I am sure, aware that a large number of London schools are used for further education. In many of them, one of the great difficulties is that the headmaster feels that he is ruled out from using the school during the evening because of the other activities. There has to be a delicate balance between the two.
§ Mrs. White
I am, of course, aware that there are schools which are fully used in that way, but I think also, for example, of primary schools, village schools, and so on, which are not fully used in that way and are not designed for it. One understands that those responsible for the safety of the buildings feel that they cannot allow them to be fully used. I am also aware that there is a limit to the amount of extra use to which grass-surface playing fields can be put. Nevertheless, I am not satisfied that the problem has been adequately dealt with in official circles and I should be interested to know what attention is now being given to it.
To come to the last wide point in the Motion—the modern approach to various other aspects of education—I expected to hear more, possibly, from the hon. Member for Eastbourne, who moved the Motion, or from some of his hon. Friends about what this part of their modernisation programme meant. Again, I ask the Joint Under-Secretary to say a little more about how far the Government propose to go in certain directions where experiments are being carried out or should be carried out.
I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian, if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, may wish to say something about programmed learning. That is, of course, a special field. To the uninitiated who may not know what programmed learning is I would just say that it means the use of various teaching machines, mechanical aids and so on. All of us who have studied the progress which has been made in this and other countries would be glad to know just how far the Government feel that things are going satisfactorily, because what one hears about this is that whereas there is a multiplicity of mechanical devices being pushed by their manufacturers on to the market, the programmes which go into those machines are very largely lacking.
855 The experience which one has is that one can buy a vast range of various sorts of mechanical aids but that there is far too little attention, so far at any rate, given to the programmes which go in them. We had only on 17th April last an extremely interesting section of The Times Educational Supplement called "Education Mechanised". I do commend it to those Members of the House who are interested in this subject, because it gives a very useful summary of the present position.
I think we must be quite clear throughout, however, that these aids are adjuncts to the good teacher: they are not substitutes. I think it is quite true to say that for older students, older pupils, to some extent they can be substitutes, but I think that for younger children they can never be more than adjuncts to the good teacher; but they can enrich the work of the teacher, and with the shortage which we have of teachers, and which we shall have for the foreseeable future, no matter how vigorous we are in recruiting, we must look at every possible means of substitution where they may be appropriate, and of supplementation at all levels
This again brings me back to the question of design of school buildings. In the advice which is given by the Minister is full account being taken of this possible development in teaching methods? There has been a lot of experience in the United States, for instance—the French also are experimenting; the Japanese are experimenting to a quite remarkable degree—in the use of television in teaching. One can see that if we are going to have this sort of method we are going to need a quite different pattern of school building, a much more flexible pattern. The idea of holding classes of 30 children, the idea of "boxes" to hold 30 children, is just not going to be on in the future. If we are going to build schools in that way we shall be completely out of date in the next decade. The whole pattern of teaching must be more flexible. We need experiments such as the Octagon building in Miami.
We should like to know how we in this country are doing at present, on the question of supplies of television sets in schools. I think I am right in saying— 856 the Joint Under-Secretary of State will correct me if I am wrong—that we have television sets in fewer than 8,000 schools, and I should like to see whether we are faring better than we did a while ago. I am giving the benefit of a little doubt on this. However, in Japan they have television sets in 50,000 schools, and, in many of them, in more than one classroom, and they are going in for this is a very big way indeed. While I do not suggest that we should necessarily do it on that scale I think that we should be aware that these things are going on in other parts of the world. We do not want to be left behind. On the contrary, we have a very good record in this country in the use of radio, and we ought to carry it on in television. I hope very much that every encouragement will be given to the B.B.C. in its television programme, and to the I.T.A. as well, but we should also take the fullest possible advantage of sound broadcasting, more particularly for adults. As we know, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition last September made quite specific proposals about what we call the university of the air, and we wish this to be linked up with tutors, correspondence courses, residential or weekend courses, and day courses. We believe there is a tremendous possibility here, but the Government have not allowed the B.B.C. to go ahead with local sound broadcasting for educational purposes. This could be done on an experimental basis in at least half a dozen major centres now, without technical change.
In the United States every university and large technical college has its own local broadcasting system, but that would need certain technical arrangements. However, we believe that something on these lines should be done here. It is monstrous that we should have these ships, the "Caroline" and the "Atlanta", outside territorial waters possibly taking up wavelengths which could and should be used for furthering education. I hope very much that, in commenting on this interesting Motion, which has allowed us to have a wide ranging debate, the Joint Under-Secretary of State will give us some information on the subject.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
Before the hon. Lady sits down, perhaps I may say that 857 I go along with a great deal of what she has said. But I am a little disappointed that she has made no direct reference to the public schools. Will she comment on the suggestion being made that, by means of integration, the Labour Party if it came to power would abolish public schools?
§ Mrs. White
The hon. Member for Lewes was kind enough to quote from one of my speeches of a year or two ago, when I pointed out that we have no intention of abolishing the public schools. After all, if we did, all we would have would be a lot of empty buildings. We have said clearly in Signposts for the Sixties—I have not time now to spell it out in detail—that we would set up an education trust and consult the schools themselves as to ways in which they think and we think they could best be integrated into the country's education system.
We suggest various methods by which their resources in buildings, laboratories—with which many of them are very well equipped through the industrial fund—and teaching staff could be used to the advantage of all children who need that kind of education and not only for those whose parents can afford it.
I have also been asked about denominational schools. We have never at any time made any suggestion about abolishing them. They are, indeed, accommodated in the maintained schools system by the aid and control methods. Obviously, where an independent school which was also denominational was involved, one would negotiate a basis of agreement which would maintain its denominational standing if it so wished.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Christopher Chataway)
I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) on the very good use to which he put his good fortune in the Ballot. The financing of a rapidly expanding service like education is likely to be of great concern to the House and it will be clear to him that a large number of hon. Members have been glad to take advantage of the opportunity he has afforded by initiating this valuable debate.
We have covered a very wide range indeed, and I will do my best to com- 858 ment on as many of the points raised as possible, but, first, perhaps I should speak about the cadet organisations. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) shared the belief that they were not given the backing that he thought they should have. This, however, is a matter primarily for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. It is his Department which holds responsibility for cadet organisations, although the Education Department maintains a close interest in their development and our advice is sought from time to time.
Much fresh thinking has been going on about the Army Cadet Force and the Combined Cadet Force during the last two years and, as my hon. Friend said, the reorganisation has not been carried through without some anxiety and heart searching. In June last year the Defence Secretary announced that the charter of the C.C.F. had been revised and that a number of other changes had been made. Among those changes was one that I think the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) welcomed, in that the minimum age of volunteers for the C.C.F. was to be 14 and that the normal period of training was to be three years.
This meant smaller contingents, but it did mean that the resources available could be concentrated on making those contingents more effective. I understand that negotiations about these new arrangements have been going on smoothly with individual schools and that they are nearly completed. There is a possibility of a difference of attitude in a situation like this because headmasters are primarily interested in the educational value of the C.C.F. and in the training it offers to the boy, whereas the Defence Department must consider the sort of "defence yield" it is getting from the expenditure involved.
The money spent by the Ministry of Defence on the cadet organisations is not insignificant. Apart from about £1½ million to the Army Cadet force, the C.C.F. costs a further £1½ million a year and clearly, the Defence Department has a right to be heard about how its money, if it is accepted, should be spent.
§ Sir C. Taylor
Can the new arrangement lead to the closing down of cadet 859 forces? Only recently the cadet force at Eastbourne Grammar School has been disbanded, much to the grief of many of the parents and boys.
§ Mr. Chataway
I understand that that is not the case generally. There are about 300 C.C.F.s in schools and I understand that that number has remained more or less steady over the last two or three years. The actual numbers in the forces have been reduced from 75,000 to about 55,000, simply because the training has been concentrated on a shorter age range.
In the main, the reorganisation has proceeded smoothly. The concept of the rôle of the cadet organisations is changing. No longer are they looked on to the same extent as a means of recruiting. Their activities are widening a great deal and in a number of schools courses which are not primarily military training are being carried out. I agree with my hon. Friend that the cadet organisations can provide opportunities for adventure, and schemes are run providing for service to the community. I agree with those hon. Members who have said that membership of the C.C.F., or other cadet organisations, should be voluntary. I remember that at the school I attended it took a great deal of courage to prove that membership of the C.C.F. was voluntary.
I have no doubt that a number of young people benefit from the cadet organisations. During the last four years, since the Albemarle Report, we have had a great drive to re-equip and strengthen the youth services, but it continues the central part of our policy to encourage diversity of provisions for these young people of 14 to 20 years. Not all wish to join this or any uniformed organisation. The job of reaching out to these young people, who were referred to by my hon. Friend as the bored ones and the wild ones, and of providing for the more aimless kind of young person, does not fall to the uniformed organisations. It is a job which has to be done by others in the youth service field primarily.
It is not that these young people do not need as much as others to have a training, and a challenge put before them. The fact is that most of them will be unlikely to be attracted in the first 860 place into uniformed organisations. It is variety that we want and I welcome the contribution made by the cadet organisations to youth service provisions.
The debate has widened out from the cadet organisations to a consideration of Clacton and juvenile delinquency, and has included some criticism of the performance of the schools in this respect. The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) and one or two other hon. Members suggested that standards of literacy had gone down. That is a criticism which one hears from time to time, but I do not think one can say too often that it is not just open to question or a matter of argument. These allegations are slightly wrong. As the Minister of State, in a striking speech in another place, said this week:It is just not true, though it is sometimes suggested, that illiteracy is on the increase and that there has been no progress in standards of reading, spelling and composition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 29th April, 1964; Vol. 257, c. 1033.]My noble Friend referred to inquiries undertaken in 1948, 1956 and 1961 into reading standards. The latest of these surveys, made in 1961 for the Newsom Committee, shows that the reading standards of pupils aged 14 in secondary modern schools had advanced between 1956 and 1961 by the equivalent of 17 months and between 1948 and 1961 by the equivalent of about 23 months. Those figures are, I think, a remarkable tribute, particularly to those who work in secondary modern schools. They should be a complete rebuttal of the charges which are sometimes made on that account.
§ Mr. Boyden
Without in any way detracting from the excellent progress made in this form of literacy, will the Under-Secretary give the other side of the Newsom Committee's Report, which refers to the fact that we are getting still more backward?
§ Mr. Chataway
I accept what the hon. Member says and it is in no spirit of complacency that I offer that observation. It is not my purpose to suggest that the schools can opt out of the general concern about the more backward and about juvenile delinquency. These are allied subjects. All I say is that the evidence is there to refute any suggestion of a general decline in academic standards.
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) spoke about juvenile delinquency and the pressures there are upon the child from modern society. I thought that he took perhaps too jaundiced a view of modern society. Certainly, he was on less sure ground when he was trying to attribute the increase of juvenile delinquency in this country to the sort of free enterprise society we have. When he was on the acquisitive society theme I thought him less compelling. It has to be remembered—this was a point made frequently in the debate on juvenile delinquency and hooliganism, last Monday—that the increase in juvenile delinquency is world wide. Whether it be in Socialist or free enterprise countries, the problem is there.
The education department must be closely involved in considering any problems which are raised. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said last Monday, when he was talking of the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Delinquency which he has set up:It also has the virtue that it brings together all the Government Departments concerned and I can focus through it, I hope, the resources of all those Government Departments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1964; Vol. 694, c. 95.]I can tell the House that the Education Department is closely involved in the working of that Committee and I am sure that among other effects it will have the effect of bringing Government Departments together.
Among a range of topics which was raised, a number of hon. Members concentrated upon the problems of teacher supply. I hope that there will be another opportunity before long of discussing teacher supply in more detail, because it is some time since we had that opportunity in the House. Hon. Members know what are the major problems which we face. We have seen a great extension of teacher training colleges; in 1958, there were 28,000 students in the colleges and today there are 55,000. We are on our way to 80,000 by 1970. The Robbins Committee did not argue that any higher figure would be possible.
862 If we were simply concerned to provide the teachers for the increasing number of children to meet the deficiencies to the service caused by retirement, all our teacher supply problems would have disappeared by now. But, as hon. Members know, that is not the position. The problem with which we are faced results from a remarkable social trend towards earlier marriage. During the 1960s we shall see 200,000 trained women teachers entering the profession, but our best estimate is that during the same decade 190,000 will leave, so that the immediate return for this enormous expansion of the teacher training colleges will be very modest in respect of women teachers.
It is clear to the House that no conceivable expansion of the teacher training colleges will solve our problems. When the hon. Member for lichen, in a very fair reference to the problem, said that the Government had been warned two or three years ago of the possibilities of further staffing difficulties in the primary schools, he was not right to imply that those difficulties could have been met by a further expansion of the teacher training colleges. There is a great deal which we can do and are doing.
Among the most important of the Government's activities is the continuing drive to get married women teachers back into the schools. My right hon. Friend has launched a further campaign to that end this month. We have also to consider carefully the balance between men and women in the teaching profession. Already, the proportion of the teaching profession which is male is rising fast. It cannot be expected that we shall see in the next few years many men teaching in the infants' schools. There will continue to be a need for a large number of women teachers in girls' schools and mixed schools, where men are not a substitute.
But these are problems which are being considered very carefully. My noble Friend the Minister of State announced this week that we have decided to make some increase in the proportion of men entering teacher training colleges. At present, they represent a little less than 30 per cent. of each year's entry. We propose to increase the proportion to about 36 per cent. over the next two years. That is 863 a step which we were reluctant to take in past years when the opportunities for higher education for girls were fewer. But, with the widening of other opportunities for higher education for girls, I think that this will be accepted as a reasonable step and will help to meet the teacher supply problem.
Also of importance are the developments in which the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) expressed interest—teaching machines, programmed learning——
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
Before leaving the very important point about the proportions of men to women teachers, may I ask the Under-Secretary whether he agrees with the changes which are taking place, whereby schools might cater for the age range 9–13 or 10–14, for example, which will provide more job opportunities or men lower down the age range? Would he agree that this might play a part in attracting more men into teaching?
§ Mr. Chataway
I have heard rather the opposite argument employed. I would not want to give the impression that my right hon. Friend has made up his mind on this issue, but I have heard it suggested that the 5–9 age range which is thereby introduced would mean an increased demand for women teachers. Although one can hope that the proportion of men teaching in the junior departments of primary schools will continue to rise very fast, will an age range of 5–9 attract men teachers?
I must not detain the House for too long by this intervention, but may I briefly refer to the other topics raised by the hon. Lady? It is of importance evidently, in the context of teacher supply, to encourage by every means that we may the development of team teaching, television, and programmed learning. These developments naturally do not offer the possibility of replacing teachers. I do not think that any of us, except perhaps a few very optimistic manufacturers, have a vision of fully automated schools being attended by one or two mechanics in the distant future. We certainly hope that from many of these developments there will come a greater possibility for using the scarce skills of a teacher more economically.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The Joint Under-Secretary used the words "optimistic manufacturers". Can he name one in this context who takes such a view?
§ Mr. Chataway
I shall not name anybody, and I am not getting at any particular firm. I have a great respect indeed for firms which are being adventurous in this sphere. The hon. Gentleman and I visited one such firm the other day where there is some excellent work in progress.
The hon. Member for Leeds, South, in a notable contribution, spoke about the governing bodies of schools, as did one or two other hon. Members. I agree as to the importance of recruiting able people to the governing bodies, and I have sometimes wished that one could see managers and governors recruited in some instances from a wider sphere of society. The hon. Gentleman was extremely interesting on the subject of the status of teachers. We shall know more about the views that some young people at least hold of teachers when the results of a survey being carried out into the attitude of university students to teaching is known.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman, too, that the status of the teaching profession cannot be but enhanced if more nonprofessional help is given to them. I share with him a desire to see more help given to teachers to relieve them of duties which do not require their professional skill and expertise.
However, the hon. Gentleman struck me as a trifle pompous when he started to lay about my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish). The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East also seemed less than generous to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend.
When considering a subject like this it is worth remembering just how much expenditure on education has risen and to realise what sort of dividend we have got from it. The hon. Member for Leeds, South cannot pretend that his party's attitude on this subject is so crystal clear as to make it unnecessary for questions to be asked. I do not wish to spend much time on these topics and I hope that I will be forgiven if I have not had time to answer a number of the questions posed. I want to turn to the main subject of the debate; the burden which the rates impose on some people.
§ Mrs. White
I appreciate that the Minister is trying to say a great deal in a short time. He has not replied to the point about the B.B.C. Can he say whether his right hon. Friend is taking any steps to try to fight this education battle with the Postmaster-General?
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. Lady has had a number of replies from both my right hon. Friend and the Postmaster-General on that subject, and I regret that I am not in a position to make a further announcement today.
I accept a great deal of what has been said about the burden imposed on some individuals by the rapid rate at which educational expenditure has been increasing. However convinced one may be of the necessity for high educational standards, one cannot ignore the fact that some people have seen a substantial increase in their rates and that there is very real concern. The House will be aware that because of the anxiety felt about this the Government did not only enact the Rating (Interim Relief) Act this Session, but also set in train two inquiries, the Allen Committee, which is examining the impact on rates of households in different income groups and in different parts of the country, and an internal review of the balance between central and local government expenditure.
I will refer to both of those inquiries shortly but I would, first, like to consider one or two of the proposals that have been made for shifting the burden from the ratepayer to the taxpayer. If I focus on some of the difficulties and say that one or two of the solutions which have been suggested are not solutions at all, I would not wish it to be thought that I am arguing that the proportions as between taxes and rates are immutable. That is not the Government's view and I accept at the outset that there are matters of real concern to be considered.
If the objective of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne—of reducing the burden to the ratepayers in areas like his own—is to be achieved, that can only be done in one of two ways: either by increasing the total Exchequer aid or by redistributing the burden so that ratepayers in other types of area pay more. The proportion of Eastbourne's expenditure met from the Exchequer is much lower than most local education authorities.
866 One accepts that, without admitting that it necessarily follows that, say, Eastbourne should get more by way of general grant and other authorities should get less. The amounts which authorities receive depend on a somewhat complicated set of formulae and weighting which allow for an authority's needs. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept, therefore, that it is reasonable that there should be a wide range between one authority and another in the proportion of its expenditure that is met from Exchequer sources.
Nobody will claim that the formulae are perfect. They are already subject to a two-stage review. During the course of the negotiations which local authority associations have for the distribution formula for the next grant period we will be considering whether the weightings of the existing factors are right—whether, For example, the supplementary grant for school children is too high, as Eastbourne Town Council suggested in its evidence to the Working Party on Grants, which is made up of departmental and local authority representatives—and, if it is thought proper, a limited correction of the distribution could be made within the existing statutory framework for the next grant period. The second stage that is going on at the same time is the review of the statutory framework itself. The preliminary work on that is being done by the same working party and the issues are being taken up as part of the general review.
The other alternative—and it was to this that the majority of hon. Members have pointed today—is to increase the total of Exchequer aid. At present, the proportion met by the Exchequer of the cost of that part of the education service which is in local authority hands is about 60 per cent. but when, as my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has said, one takes into account universities, direct grant schools and all those expenses which fall directly upon the Exchequer, it is found that the division of the whole expenditure on education is about 70 per cent. to the Exchequer and 30 per cent. to local rates.
There are three points which I would wish to make in answer to the proposals that have been advanced today for shifting the balance from rates to taxes. First, there is no particular magic about 867 singling out one item of local authority expenditure for transfer to the Exchequer. If it were decided that the proportion of Exchequer aid should be increased, we should have to weigh carefully the relative merits of taking over particular blocks of expenditure as against, for example, increasing the general grant.
At first blush, one does not see any particular advantage in choosing the first course: the proportion of total local authority expenditure covered by the general grant can be varied without any great technical difficulty. There is no special advantage that I can see in fixing upon one item for 100 per cent., or a much higher, rate of grant. Certainly, there is no logic whatever in the argument that one must go back to percentage grants in order to alter the taxpayer—ratepayer ratio. I do not think that there is anything in the point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South that the block grant was in some way responsible. The general grant system does not. I believe, present any problems here.
My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne referred to the young earner living at home. He said that he escaped meeting his share of the cost of education. He does not, of course, escape, because we must never overlook the fact that rates are only part, and much the smaller part, of the total complex of taxation. One item of that complex in particular, Income Tax, bears relatively heavier on the unmarried earner, and substantially the larger part of the cost of education falls on central taxation. One can make too much of the argument that, because there is this balance between local and central taxation, a large number of people are not paying their fair share.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
Will my hon. Friend give the House the figure for the rise in the standard rate of Income Tax if the whole of the cost of education were borne by the Exchequer?
§ Mr. Chataway
I am coming to that. The item that is most often chosen for transfer—and it was chosen by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby, and has been chosen by the Opposition—is teachers' salaries. I do not at first sight see the logic that lies behind this 868 decision. I do not know what the reaction of the majority of teachers would be to a proposal that they should be the employees of the Central Government instead of local authorities.
I thought that the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East was more moderate than occasionally some of her hon. Friends are, because she was talking in the main about some shift in the proportion of teachers' salaries that was met from central and local funds. But in another place the spokesman for the Labour Party went further and suggested that the whole cost of teachers' salaries should be transferred to the centre. If the whole cost of teachers' salaries were met from the centre, a possible consequence is that teachers would be the employees of the central Government rather than of local government.
That brings me to the second point. Control generally follows closely the responsibility for financing. My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby recognised this, and I think addressed himself squarely to the difficulties in a way that critics for the present system do not always do. If we were to have a 100 per cent. nationally financed system of education, the odds are that before long it would be a 100 per cent. nationally controlled system, too.
Some people perhaps would not object to the removal of local authorities from the education scene, but I do not share that view. I am sure that we would have to weigh very carefully indeed the safeguards for freedom and the opportunity for experiment that are provided by our present division of power over the education service.
I am not arguing that the balance of power will be fatally upset by any and every change in the balance for financing. Far from it, but before it is argued that all, or nearly all, education should be paid for centrally, one should consider the importance of the local education authorities in our national education system.
The hon. Member for Accrington and my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby suggested that local education authorities have little room for manoeuvre today. I think that one has only to study the relative records of local education authorities, and to travel the 869 country a good deal, to recognise the great differences that there are in performance between one local education authority and another, and how much difference to the service a local education authority can make.
The third general point is that in considering this whole matter it is important to recognise that there is no entirely painless means whereby the sort of educational improvements which have been made in this past decade, and on which we are still embarked, can be paid for. These improvements cannot be had without some sacrifice. If all expenditure were borne centrally, the increased cost to the Exchequer might involve increased revenue equivalent to the product of perhaps another 1s. on the standard rate of Income Tax.
§ Mr. Chataway
Educational expenditure. If the cost of teachers' salaries alone was borne entirely by the Exchequer, the comparable figure might be another 6d. in the £ on Income Tax.
We on this side of the House take a great deal of pride in the way in which expenditure on education has been increased over these years. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes pointed out, the proportion of the gross national product taken by education has risen during the last 13 years from 3.1 per cent. to 5 per cent. We believe that that has been money well spent, and we are committed by the White Paper to a further 25 per cent. increase in real terms in expenditure on education. I am sure that my hon. Friends will agree with me that we should always make it clear that this sort of advance cannot be made without some sacrifice and without giving to education some measure of priority.
I have dealt with some of the considerations involved in the proposals for a change in the financing of education. I return to the question of hardship which has been the theme of a number of speeches. I have no doubt that the Allen Committee will take note of the views which have been expressed in the debate. The Committee will be reporting in the summer. The Report may seem a long time coming but the Committee was faced, as we are, with 870 a complete lack of balanced information about such things as the relationship between rates and income for householders in different parts of the country.
In addition to the ordinary work of committees of this kind in taking evidence and assessing it, the Allen Committee had as its first task the making good of the lack of factual information by devising the best sort of sample survey, putting it into the field and arranging for an anlysis of the results in different ways. This is something which has never been done before—a piece of original research. Although the Committee is using computers, it has found it impossible to produce its report sooner. It is not the time taken by the computers, but the writing of the programmes for them and the collection and processing of the raw material which creates delay.
In the past we have been too ready to express views about the impact of rates based on the partial, in both senses of the word, information that has come our way. Soon we shall have some objective and factual information on which to work. I am sure that in considering the circumstances which are likely to give rise to hardship the Committee is looking particularly at the problem of elderly ratepayers. The House will not expect me today to be able to anticipate the results of either of these inquiries, but I would draw the attention of hon. Members to a statement made recently in a public speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
My right hon. Friend, referring to the increased burden on local rates, said:We recognise this and we are proceeding towards a solution in two ways; by collecting all this information on hardship from the Committee under Professor Allen and simultaneously in reviewing within the Government machine the relative balance between local and national taxation with expenditure on education particularly in mind. It is clear that some alterations are going to be needed—though on what scale and by what method we cannot judge until we have had the result of the Allen Committee and the Government review.I cannot go further than that today, but I hope that it will be clear from the attitude which I have expressed that within the content of the general review the Government are not opposed to the Motion.
I could take issue with part of the wording of my hon. Friend's Motion. I 871 do not know why, for example, he would confine the cadet organisations to these three particular forms of secondary school. It may be that there is a future for them in comprehensive schools, in bilaterals and in many others. Equally, the wording of the Motion in other respects is not perhaps exactly that which I would have chosen, but with the reservations which I have entered, and in so far as the general purpose of the Motion is concerned, I can certainly give it Government support.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
May I refer to the exchange earlier in the morning between my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) and the hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn)? The subject of the exchange concerned the place of the parent in education and I repeat that in no way do I wish to sneer, nor do any of my hon. Friends, at parent-teacher organisations. But it is no use deluding ourselves that the parent-teacher organisation per se can overcome the real problems that exist in the relationship between the individual teacher and the individual parent.
I should like to make a concrete suggestion, that perhaps as a quid pro quo for substantially raising teachers' salaries, there could be instituted a system of either monthly or fortnightly "clinics", like the politicians' "surgeries", whereby the teacher could be available in the evening once a month or once a fortnight. The fact that the evenings are stressed is crucial to the whole argument, because if we are talking about parent-teacher relationships the central proposition is the fact that many pupils do not want to see their own parents in the school when they themselves are present. This is a basic psychological fact that one cannot get over. Also there is the point that many parents find it impossible to attend during the day time.
There is an objection to the sort of argument that I am putting forward, and it is that if the individual teacher is available to parents, this in a sense by-passes the headmaster, that it can go behind his back, that the headmaster might not be quite clear what exactly is going on. I would be the first to admit 872 that the young teacher in his relationship with parents could on occasions be rather gauche and naïve. He might well make mistakes. But, at the same time, if we are talking about teachers' status, let us recognise that unless we give responsibility to a young teacher in relation to parents when he first comes into the profession, he might find it much more difficult to develop his responsibility later on.
If we are to talk about young teachers being gauche, we have to admit, at the same time, that many of those who become headmasters in their late 40s or early 50s and have to face parents for the first time are equally gauche. It is on these grounds that I would advocate a system of well-paid teachers' clinics once a fortnight or once a month.
With reference to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) on the question of cost, I would be in favour of a system whereby both capital and running costs of each secondary school were posted up on notice boards so that pupils could understand the costs of the institutions in which they were being taught. In some sense such a constant posting of notices would make pupils cost-conscious.
The purpose of my contribution to this debate is to look at the relationship between the world of education and the world of business, in a situation where business feels that it has some novel project to offer education. In condensed form, my argument is this: there are projects of major expense involving sometimes a huge capital outlay which in principle are extremely desirable for education. The Ministry may or may not agree that they are desirable. Often the Scottish Education Department has extended a welcome in general to such projects.
Then the businessman approaches the Ministry and says, "Can you help us with forward thinking? Should we spend large resources on preparing such a project?" At this point the Ministry says, "Oh, no. You must go to the local authorities. We can do nothing." So there is a time lag and there is confusion, waiting for this or that subcommittee of this or that local authority to make up its mind. The result is that the businessmen who have been putting 873 forward the project are probably kicking their proverbial heels and losing thousands of pounds. I ask that, in situations like this, the Ministry shall be, perhaps, less of a Levite and rather more of a Good Samaritan.
For two minutes, may I be autobiographical? In 1961–62, I was involved with the British India school ship project. I shall not now discuss the merits or demerits of the "Dunera" and "Devonia". I say merely that this was a project which was welcomed in principle by the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Department of Education, but, because British India had to go round to each individual local authority, taking a long time in doing so and putting forward complicated arguments, in the initial stages, the first 18 months or two years, it lost a huge sum of money. I am referring here not to just a few hundreds but to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
As I say, I am not now arguing the merits of school ships. But, if the Ministry thinks that this is a sound idea in the first place, is it not only fair to the businessmen who are risking their money—perhaps this argument comes more easily from this side of the House than that—that they should, at least, be told where they stand?
A similar situation is emerging in relation to teaching machines. The Under-Secretary knows that I am referring to the manufacture of Grundy tutors. In doing so, I wish to make clear that I have no financial relationship, no political connection, and no regional connection with Grundy tutors. My connection with them is simply that the Under-Secretary and I went down to see the Grundy tutor manufacturing shop and saw the machines. As a professional, I am convinced that there is here represented a major breakthrough in education.
The Under-Secretary spoke of optimistic manufacturers, and I took the implication of that to be that he may be thinking that manufacturers feel that teaching machines would take the place of the teacher. I have had many contacts in recent months with different manufacturers of teaching machines, and on no occasion was I given the impression that they want to do away with the classroom teacher. I suspect that 874 the hon. Gentleman's remark betrays, in a sense, a rather jejune attitude on the part of the Ministry towards the manufacturers. Here are people who have put in £160,000 of their own money, for which they have yet had no return. They are not asking for a Government grant. They are merely asking what the future holds for them.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Could the hon. Gentleman tell us what was the attitude of the teaching profession to the machine made by the Grundy company?
§ Mr. Dalyell
The problem here is to get the coordinated finance to take up the project on a large scale. What is essential to the whole argument is that one cannot have a series of unco-ordinated experiments such as are outlined in the pamphlet signed by Mr. Embling, of the Ministry of Education, sent to me very courteously by the Minister. One cannot expect one man, for example, in Cornwall to conduct a meaningful experiment. He must do it in co-operation with others over a period of time, with proper financial support.
Briefly, what I am asking is that there should be set up in the Ministry, both for the sort of situation which arose regarding school ships and the sort of situation which is now arising regarding teaching machines, a unit to deal with industry, to help industry in its educational investment and with forward planning. The argument——
§ Question. That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly and agreed to.
That this House is of the opinion that the costs of educational services should be more widely spread so that an unfair burden shall not fall upon ratepayers in areas where there are few industries or industrial premises and an undue proportion of retired people; that cadet corps should be encouraged in public, grammar and secondary modern schools; and that a modern approach is needed to various other aspects of education.