§ Mr. Speaker
May I announce to the House that I have not selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) and the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hurst), and the Amendment in the names of the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) and other hon. Members. I imagine that the point made in those Amendments will emerge during the debate, if hon. Members catch the eye of Mr. Speaker.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I beg to move,That this House regrets that the education service should have been subjected to cuts which are educationally damaging, based on a wrong choice of priorities, and disproportionate in relation to the economy measures as a whole.I am sure that the whole House will have taken note, if I may respectfully say so with agreement, that the points which would have been in order and relevant on the Amendment in the names of the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) and other hon. Members can arise on our Motion. lf, Mr. Speaker, you had chosen to call that Amendment I should have been very glad to have accepted it as an addendum to our Motion.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the Opposition did not include it in their Motion?
§ Sir E. Boyle
Because the issue of decisions taken at the Labour Party conference seemed to me to be more the concern of the Labour Party.
On one point there should be little disagreement in the House, namely, that Tuesday, 16th January, was a sad day for the education service. I have been, by chance, associated with the service for about 11 years. Whatever criticisms may be made in the country of the period during which my party was in power, not many people will doubt that the 10 years 1355 from 1955 to 1965 constituted one of the most exciting periods of educational expansion in the history of our nation. The proportion of the national income devoted to education rose steadily from 3.4 per cent. in 1955 to 5.4 per cent. 10 years later, and during those years education was taking a steadily rising share of a gross national product which itself grew by 34 per cent.
It was a period of massive expansion in teacher training, higher education and further education. Young people were responding in ever larger numbers to the increased opportunities offered. For example, the numbers of those with the minimum qualifications for university entry rose from, I think, 24,000 in 1955 to 70,000 10 years later. It was a period of major policy decisions, including the decision that the Department of Education should have a major role to play as a central source of ideas. I believe that the new concept of the Department, which we all accept today, owes more to Sir David Eccles, as he then was, than to any other single person.
Above all, the decade from 1955 to 1965 was associated with a far greater degree of public concern with education than ever before. There were two reasons. The first was the realisation of the significance of educational advance to an industrial nation like our own. "At a time of rapid technological change, the highest priority of all in the field of investment is the investment in Britain's children." Those were not my words, but the words of the present Prime Minister in May, 1963. I wonder how he thought that he was fulfilling them in his statement of 16th January.
There was also a growing concern to extend opportunity more widely. The nation's conscience was stirred by the Newsom Report and, more recently, by the Plowden Report, and there was a greater realisation that the pool of potential ability in this country was much deeper than we had previously thought it to be.
Having said that the period between 1955 and 1965 was an exciting decade of educational expansion, I do not mean to imply that all was well. It was not. First, there was a relative neglect of primary education, and that was why I appointed 1356 the Plowden Council in 1963 and why at the end of 1963 I announced, as Minister, that some millions of pounds in each major school building programme should be set aside for primary improvement. That was a promise which I kept, as did my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) so long as we were in power.
Second, there was during this period anxiety, by no means confined to committed Right-wing political supporters, that we were risking a widening of opportunity at the expense of quality in education.
Third, I certainly agree that the rate of educational advance in the 1960s, at 6 per cent. a year in real terms—much faster than the rate of our economic growth—helped to put a short-term strain on the balance of payments. But it is worth remembering that at present, while we in Britain are planning a setback in education—because that is what the Government's measures amount to—the United States Government, who are also concerned with their balance of payments, are planning a considerably increased educational budget.
This leads me to the effect of the Government's recent measures on the education service. I take as my starting point an article by Sir William Alexander, the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees, which appeared in the weekly journal, Education, for 19th January. Anyone who regularly reads the educational Press will know that Sir William is impartial in his criticism of political figures. He said three things. First:Education appears to have been singled out by the Government to suffer more severely than other services from the axe.Second:The direct cuts on education are only part of the danger.And third:The education service has suffered a very severe setback, and it will take a good many years before it recovers.I believe that these charges are justified, and they explain why we have put down the Motion.
I do not intend this afternoon to focus exclusively on the Government's decision to postpone raising the school-leaving age. None the less, I shall start with 1357 that decision, which has attracted by far the most attention. I believe that it was a wrong decision, and I want also to show that the Prime Minister's case that the postponement was an alternative to other cuts and dislocation in the school building programme is completely bogus.
May I, first, briefly remind the House of the history of the matter. We took the legal powers to raise the school-leaving age to 16 in 1944. The Crowther Committee, in its Report, "Fifteen to Eighteen ", which appeared in 1959, put a very strong case for the view that this reform was urgent and important both in the national interests and in the interests of young people. I venture to say to the Liberal hon. Members who put down an Amendment that the Crowther Committee put an overwhelming case for the view that the raising of the school-leaving age should come before compulsory part-time education up to the age of 18.
In 1960, following the Crowther Report, Sir David Eccles announced in the House that he thought that the Government should be able to reach a decision on the timing by the end of that Parliament. In 1963, the Newsom Committee again reaffirmed the importance of the reform. The Leader of the House will remember, for he took part in the debate, that I announced on 27th January, 1964, a date two years later than Newsom had recommended, 27 years after the passage of the 1944 Act. I may have done some rash and foolish Things in my time, but I have never looked on that as one of my more irresponsible actions.
I still feel that, for three reasons, this is a highly important reform. First, as I said four years ago, it is a test of our commitment to the ideal of secondary education for all—secondary education as compared with senior elementary education. As the Schools Council has said, the opportunities of a five year Course are totally different from those of a four-year course. If we believe in secondary education for all, as I do, it is wrong to break off secondary education in the middle of adolescence.
Second, from the national point of view, we need a more adaptable labour force. The days have gone by when it made sense for a man to be trained so 1358 that he became capable of doing just one particular job throughout his working life. We know today that a growing proportion of our labour force will have to be capable of adapting to change. I believe that a longer period of full time education, not necessarily a longer period in the same school, is an essential precondition of securing the more adaptable labour force that we so urgently require.
One important effect of a later leaving age—and I emphasise this to the House, because it is sometimes forgotten—will certainly be an increase in voluntary staying on in full-time education to 17 or 18. I do not believe that our chief industrial competitors, such as America and Japan, would have put off this reform if they were in our position.
Third, the reform is essential if we are to make a reality of regional policy. We all know that there are different proportions and quite different traditions of voluntary staying on in the North and South in Britain.
Those are the three reasons why I believe that the reform is essential and should not have been put off.
I know that there are those who think that we should not in any case have been ready for this reform in 1971. Well, London, which, I believe, in numbers is the largest of all the local authorities, would have been ready. The average size of school classes would temporarily have had to go up by the equivalent of half a pupil. There has also been a great deal of progress in London and other authorities over curriculum development. We saw this in the Newsom Report. Paragraph 119 of the Report was already able to quote a five year curriculum for the really less able. Since then, there has been the Philippa Fawcett humanities project and much more besides.
I went recently to a large London school, not in a wealthy area, where 75 per cent. of the pupils stay on voluntarily. The headmaster told me that 95 per cent. of the parents at a meeting would have preferred an increase in the charge for school meals and even voluntary contributions towards the cost of school books to the postponement of this reform.
I do not believe that we shall ever be completely ready for it until everyone knows willy-nilly that it is coming. One of the great harms of the Government's 1359 decision has been that it has interrupted the momentum towards this reform. The right hon. Gentleman bears a considerable share of moral responsibility. When he became Secretary of State, he said at his first Press conference—it was on the record and attributable; there was no Chalfont nonsense about it—I am committed to raising the school age.It is not surprising, in view of what has happened, that there is now a lack of confidence even about 1973, so perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will make it plainer today than he did last Thursday that both sides of the House are pledged to the introduction of the higher school leaving age at the new date.
I have two specific questions to put to him about the postponement, and if he is unable at once to answer them perhaps the right hon. Lady will be able to do so later. The first is rather technical, but I have a particular reason for putting it. When calculating in the White Paper that the postponement would save £33 million in 1968–69, what, so to speak, mix of major and minor capital works projects did the Department assume in relation to the £36 million of school leaving age building starts which are now cancelled?
In deciding that the net saving would be £33 million, what mix of major and minor projects was assumed? The arithmetic of paragraph 32 of the White Paper only makes sense on the assumption that virtually all the cancelled projects will be minor, and I find that incredible. I believe that the figure of £33 million is probably over-estimated by £5 million to £10 million. One of the reasons I raise this is that there was an atmosphere of amateurism and improvisation in Curzon Street on the night of 15th-16th January which caused the educational Press considerable annoyance. That is why these figures should be clarified.
Secondly, has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the suggestion for having a single school leaving date? I have never believed this to be a substitute for raising the leaving age. As I recall it, Lord Eccles very nearly brought in this reform, but failed to do so largely because of doubts on both sides of industry. It is worth considering, however. What are the right hon. Gentleman's conclusions?
1360 If the direct saving brought about by postponement has been exaggerated, as I believe it has, the dislocation caused to local authorities will be very great indeed. This leads me to something about school building and the right hon. Gentleman's Circular 6/68. In our debate on the Government's cuts, the Prime Minister said:…still more important…is the maintenance of the fabric of the education programme, including the school building and other priority programmes."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th January, 1968; Vol. 756, c. 1978]In that context, the word "fabric" was one of the sickest jokes to come out of Downing Street for some time.
The best comment on the Prime Minister's speech was made by a very able former education correspondent of The Guardian, Mr. Tyrrell Burgess, on 2nd February, when he wrote.…it is now clear that the postponement, so far from being an alternative to cuts and dislocation, is actually causing them. As education officers and chairmen of committees are discovering as they read Circular 6/68, the whole basis of their previous planning has been undermined, and teachers and parents will find that promised new schools or replacements are postponed, perhaps for many years.This is a very serious matter. What the circular says is that all the outstanding school building projects or earlier projects, totalling about £70 million, which will not have started on the ground by April next must be resubmitted to the Department and must compete with projects already approved for the 1968–69 programme for a place within the new programme limit of £89 million.
I make this initial remark on that point. If we really want to induce in the country as a whole a dangerous hatred and contempt of Whitehall and the Government machine, this is the way to go about it. If we want nationalist parties not only in Wales and Scotland, but in every region of England, this is the way to do it. Let us consider what this means to parents and school governors.
The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor said in the debate on the Plowden Report that it was the improvement element in the school building programme which was the measure of the Government's priorities. Anyone who has been a Minister responsible for 1361 education knows that the deferring of school improvements or replacements is always one of the most unpleasant decisions one has to take. Any Minister finds that the claims of overcrowding or of moving populations reduce the improvement programme to well below what he would like.
But at least up to now, when an improvement project has found a place in tie programme, it has stayed there. If it could not start in the year for which it had been approved, it has started in the following year. The circular, by insisting that the whole of the backlog must be resubmitted, cancels all this and must lead to indefinite postponement of large numbers of urgently needed school building projects which local authorities thought, with every justification, had been allocated to them. Of course, paragraph 8(a) of the circular makes it unpleasantly clear that it is improvement projects which are to suffer.among the projects to be reviewed are a considerable number designed to replace or improve existing schools. The educational merit of such projects is considerable but authorities will need to consider whether they have the same degree of urgency as other, basic need, projects which have been programmed.Those are ominous words.
Of course, we realise that, in the present circumstances the amount of new improvement projects which can be scheduled must be limited. That is not in dispute. But Circular 6/68 says, in effect, that projects which local authorities and school governors thought were "in the bag ", had been firmly allocated, are now cut of the bag, and must be played for all over again in future programmes. This is a disturbing situation.
The right hon. Gentleman said on 5th January that he would be extremely disappointed if the money set aside for improving primary schools were affected by the forthcoming cuts. I wonder what he meant. And what about local education authorities like London, which have virtually no backlog? Are their programmes to be chopped by other people's backlogs? If so, that would be a poor reward for being a progressive authority. Is a big city with appalling slum problems but virtually no backlog to be denied a single primary replacement because another authority has put up such a bad comprehensive scheme that the Department 1362 has felt bound to hold up its building programme? That is not an academic point and it is the sort of problem that the right hon. Gentleman will have to tackle in the coming months.
The Department and local education authorities have about two months to sort out the whole of next year's programme, otherwise there is real risk of insufficient places and of children being kept out of school in the early 1970s. This situation in which the right hon. Gentleman has got himself and the local authorities may be his and even the Prime Minister's idea of efficient planning, but I am sure that it is not ours on this side of the House.
The combination of the postponement of the school leaving age and Circular 6/68 must entail some postponement and some slowing down of secondary school reorganisation. After all, many reorganisation schemes were deliberately geared to the money for the raising of the school leaving age. I can give a couple of examples. Bedfordshire, which I visited recently, intended to spend all its money for the raising of the school-leaving age on middle schools and, reasonably enough, was going for a middle school system. Southampton—and I should be a little nervous at mentioning this in Mr. Speaker's presence—was going for a scheme of secondary schools and secondary colleges, with all the extra money going for the improvement of infants schools—a very good scheme, but again a scheme which will now have to be postponed.
Furthermore, there is a real risk that a number of authorities will now take the line, "Let us go for a scheme which will not be disastrous even if the age is not raised in 1973 ". In consequence, they may go for a botched-up scheme of all-through comprehensives. We say firmly that what matters is not the speed of comprehensive reorganisation so much as that any scheme must be educationally sound, and if there is not the money to carry out a sound scheme here and now, reorganisation in an area should be postponed.
I want now to come to something which is as important, to paragraph 51 of the statement which dealt with the current expenditure of local authorities. Paragraph 51 says that the rate support grant 1363 paid to local authorities by the Government is to be frozen for 1968–69 and that the Government will expect local authorities to absorb any increases in cost which they cannot avoid by making savings elsewhere, and that the increase for 1969–70 is to be limited to only 3 per cent.
This is the most serious threat to the fabric of the education service in the whole package. Let me make it quite clear that what is at stake is not expansion, not the list of new things which some people would like to do in education; it is the maintenance of existing policies. Long before 16th January education committee chairmen were finding that they had a tremendous financial struggle to stay in the same place, and paragraph 51 is totally inconsistent with the stated educational objectives on which we have all been agreed during the past decade. The proportion of the fixed commitments in the educational budget is extremely high, as one realises from the fact that 60 per cent. goes on teachers' salaries for a start.
There is one question to which I hope we shall have an answer. What about the immediate implications for local authorities of the recent Burnham technical and farm institute awards? Authorities have had no assurance that these awards, even in the current financial year, will not fall on the ratepayer. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give a satisfactory answer, how can he say, as he did only six days ago, that there will be no redistribution as between the Exchequer and the rates? Furthermore, the whole of the cost of the prospective increase in student grants, to which I shall refer shortly, will have to be borne by local education authorities.
Bearing in mind the rising school population and what we all hope will be the increase in voluntary staying on, I do not believe that the objectives of paragraph 51 can be carried out without both placing an extra and intolerable strain on the ratepayer and doing serious damage to the essential fabric of the education service. After talking to a number of large authorities, I can tell the House exactly what I fear is likely to happen. There will be a restriction of the development of further education 1364 just when everyone is agreed that as a nation we need to devote more resources to professional training. I do not mean to make a cheap point, but if the right hon. Gentleman will consult some of the Government's own specialist advisers whom they brought in, he will learn, certainly from all those to whom I have spoken, of the importance which they attach to professional training for those of good second grade ability. A cutback in the development of further education at this moment simply cannot make sense.
There will be a real cut-back in equipment, apparatus, and, more serious, books, at a time of rising prices. There may well be a cutback in the upkeep of buildings—the Government must be hoping for a series of mild winters—and there is a real risk, if the growth rate of local authority spending on education is reduced from 6 per cent. to 3 per cent., that some authorities in some areas 'will save on the recruitment of teachers. Already, during the coming year, a number of authorities will not be employing all the on-quota teachers they are allowed, and if even a small number of teachers were to find it less easy to get posts that would have an immediate effect on recruitment to the colleges.
Is this really what the right hon. Gentleman wants? Is this what he came back into the Government to achieve? He just cannot keep out of this. There is strong feeling about the Government talking generally about cutting the growth rate of education without giving local authorities any indication about the cuts to be made. The growth rate, which has been running at about 9 or 10 per cent. a year for at least 10 years, comes largely from population increases, staying on, replacing old schools, salary increases and loan charges, and all of those are inescapable expenditure. Surely it is the right hon. Gentleman's duty to give local authorities some indication of how the Government expect them to meet their difficulties? After all, Section I of the Education Act, 1944 lays on the Secretary of State the duty to secure "the effective execution by local authorities under his control and direction of the national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area."
1365 I have a great deal of sympathy with ole leading education committee chairman, Alderman Mrs. Fitzpatrick, of the West Riding, who said recently:It passes my imagination how local authorities are to respond to (the Prime Minister's) extraordinary admonition—that they should absorb all the consequences of devaluation, maintain the quality of the service undiminished and yet contain their expenditure within a figure determined before all these dramatic developments occurred.That puts it extremely well.
In the debate on the cuts the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary said:One could have looked all round the educational sphere and said, Scrape a bit off here, and a bit off there …'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1968; Vol. 756, c. 1905.]Did it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman to warn his colleagues just what these decisions meant for education? Did he fully understand them, for this is exactly what will in fact happen? It will be a case of scraping a bit off here aid a bit off there.
The right hon. Gentleman sometimes takes refuge in saying that the rate support grant is very complicated. I suppose that it is a bit complicated, but its working is as vital to the education service as is the building programme. I do not want to speak at length on this subject, but we should remember also the likely effect of the policy on the Youth Service voluntary organisations—how extremely hard it will be for voluntary bodies to get the scale of even modest assistance which, I know, many people would like them to have.
I want now to refer to the cuts in capitation grants to direct grant schools. As is well known, on this side of the House we support the direct grant system. I should like to see the direct grant list reopened. I have always believed that it is right and proper that a number of schools should stand between the completely independent schools and the completely maintained schools, bat we are not debating the general merits of the direct grant system today. What I want to emphasise is that these schools make an essential contribution to public education in many parts of the country, especially in some northern areas with large Catholic populations. There simply would not be enough places it. maintained schools for all the pupils for whom provision would have to be 1366 made, and the cut in capitation grants simply means an extra burden on the local authorities of about £1.2 million.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
How can the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, who are constantly calling for a selective approach to aid from the taxpayer to individuals, possibly justify this flat-rate benefit which goes almost exclusively to better-off families?
§ Sir E. Boyle
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the income scale on which parents pay for places in direct grant schools is selective. The hon. Gentleman has not really got the principal point with which I was concerned, which is the burden on local authorities. The hon. Gentleman seems to fall into the error, about which I think the Secretary-General of the N.U.T. had something to say the other day, of supposing that this is primarily an anti-middle class move by the Government. It is, in fact, primarily a move which will put an extra burden on local education authorities.
I will not say much about the capital programme of the universities. I recognise that they come off rather lightly. But they had a severe cut in 1965, and I am quite clear that there is building up in the universities a severe problem of obsolescence, particularly in the older civic universities. On students grants, I would like to say a word about the decision to limit the increase in September, 1968, to half the sum required fully to reflect the increase in the cost of living since 1965. So far, the leaders of students have shown a responsible attitude to this matter, and the House should acknowledge this. We need to remember that books are going up in price, and so are charges in halls of residence. In London, the charges are likely to go up by £40.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman-man w ill be able to confirm that he will abide by the findings of Professor A. J. Brown's committee as the basis for the 50 per cent. cut and that he will not become committed to the Treasury for any particular figure before these findings are announced. I must say that I am not happy about this arbitrary and unselective cut, if only for this reason, that whether one wants a more rapid or relatively less rapid rate of university expansion, higher education ought to be 1367 available to every really able student in the country, irrespective of means.
I have set out what seems to me to be an unanswerable case for the view that the Government cuts are educationally damaging and disproportionate in relation to the economy measures as a whole. What is more, as the Motion also says, the priorities here are quite wrong. I said recently in the North of England:What we need at the present time is a radical reappraisal of all existing policies, and ruthless selectivity in the national interest, about what should expand and what should contract. The Government should aim to protect those forms of investment and expenditure which encourage growth and efficiency, while cutting down on those which absorb scarce resources to no good purpose, and on indiscriminate subsidies to consumption.I believe that public opinion would have accepted a further charge in school meals for those who could afford it—it could have been introduced by stages. On the subject of university staffing, I believe that the staff-student ratio has not only changed in recent years, but it has, if anything, become slightly more favourable. At a time of very rapid expansion it is natural that the world of higher education, especially universities, should consume a very considerable proportion of its own product. Yet I believe a change in the staff-student ratio, from its present figure of 1:7 to a figure of 1:8 would not he unreasonable. If it were carried out that over a period it would involve an annual saving of £10 million a year. And it would surely be much better to cut down, as we said in a recent debate, the swollen bureaucracy of this country than risk local authorities going slow on the employment of teachers.
Lastly, I hope, as I think many do, that during the coming months the Minister will show a rather more positive enthusiasm for something. I would make certain suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman. No one expects him to accept all the costly recommendations in the Plowden Report, but let him display real enthusiasm to co-operate in full with those in the universities who want to carry out pilot projects in the educational priority areas. Let him also devote increased attention—and I believe that he will get co-operation from authorities—to in-service training. I press this because when I speak to bodies like members of 1368 the Joint Four, I find that there are more questions about in-service training —more desire to know about the best existing practice—than on anything else. A communication from the right hon. Gentleman to authorities, drawing on the best existing experience from counties like Kent, would be a good deal more popular than more documents on the lines of Circular 6/68.
There is also the question of how to get more productivity out of our existing plant. These things are more worthwhile than for the right hon. Gentleman to tell chief education officers, as he did the other night:There will be some pluses and minuses in the local arithmetic.I really feel that that conclusion was hardly worthy of the occasion.
No one would pretend that the Minister has an easy job. I have been Minister and I know of the difficulties, I hope, of the right hon. Gentleman's position. But however much one speaks of Cabinet decisions, the right hon. Gentleman is the responsible Minister. He is the leader of what I believe to be one of the finest public services in the world.
Those who serve in education do not expect their Minister always to win, but surely they are entitled to expect two things: that he fights, and ensures that if education cannot always come off best, at least it never comes off worst. It is by reference to this test that we on this side believe that both the right hon. Gentleman and the Government deserve the censure of this House.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker)
I should like to ask the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) one question on a point about which I was not clear in his speech. I was not sure whether he was proposing that we should cut the universities' quinquennial grant, which has just been announced. I though that this was what he was proposing. We decided very deliberately not to do this, and we have just announced it. It would be a very severe cut indeed on the universities if he proposed to do that, and I hope that he will make it clear so that everyone will know where the two parties stand on this.
1369 It is inevitable and natural, with our Parliamentary procedure, that we should discuss separately and in isolation from one another, the economies announced by the Government in a number of areas. Today in this way we are discussing the measures in regard to education. This makes it all the more important, as a background to the debate, to keep these particular separate measures in perspective. We must consider them as part and parcel of the package as a whole. This the right hon. Gentleman signally failed to do. He was talking as if one could make this amount of economy, that amount of economy, cut this away and not that.
What he ignored, and what we cannot ignore, if we are to approach this problem responsibly, is that the purpose of the whole package, of which education is a part, is to help make devaluation work. It is not, taken as a whole, too large for this purpose. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made it clear that he will have to take further measures in his Budget. The package, including the education savings, helps to make devaluation work in two broad ways. First it helps to release resources for export, import savings and investment. Secondly, it helps to reduce the burden on the Budget.
It we did not succeed in making devaluation work—and this was a point which the right hon. Gentleman did not put to himself or the House—we would as a nation be facing a very bleak future, and we would be missing what may be our last chance of achieving steady and balanced growth, and a further expansion of our social services, including education, which both he and I want. These things would be in risk and jeopardy.
Of course, I would have liked it if education could have been spared, but it was impossible for education, which is a very costly and rapidly expanding service, to escape a contribution to the savings that we had to make. Since the total of these savings cannot be reduced, any responsible person who criticises any of them has an obligation to propose saving, of a corresponding size elsewhere. The Opposition have a particular responsibility to do so because—what was not mentioned today—they have rejected all the defence savings.
1370 They really have to make massive proposals for alternative savings and this they have singularly and irresponsibly so far failed to do. The only alternative proposals of any importance made by the Opposition is that the cost of school meals should have been further increased. They are much too optimistic about the yield from this. Even assuming, which I gravely doubt, that it would have been a wise economic move, the arithmetic is complicated and there is room for argument about the assumptions on which it rests.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. fain Macleod) was wildly out in the figures he gave in a T.V. discussion which we recently had together. He implied that an increase to 2s. from the 1s. 6d. charge which is to come into force next summer term would yield £25 million. He overlooked two factors. The first is that, if we increase the charge from 1s. 6d. to 2s., we cause a bigger fall in demand for the meal than if we increase the charge from 1s. to 1s. 6d. As a result, one loses more income from dinner charges, and so one's net saving from the second 6d. is less than from the first one. Secondly, if there is a fall in demand, one's overheads do not immediately fall in step it takes time to adjust to the new situation.
Our sums, which balance all these factors together, were carefully worked out from the best knowledge accumulated over many years. We estimate that an increase in the charge for meals by a further 6d.—from 1s. 6d. to 2s.—would yield £13 million in 1968–69 and £14 million in 1969–70 in England and Wales. Even making no allowance for a further falloff in demand, an increase from 1s. 6d. to 2s. would result in a saving of much less than the right hon. Member's wild shot of £25 million.
The Opposition Motion alleges that the savings in education are disproportionate to the economy measures as a whole. This point was not elaborated by the right hon. Gentleman.
I do not think any fair-minded person, who is not straining for party advantage, could claim this. Let us now look at the facts. The education economies amount to 2 per cent. in 1968–69 and 2½ per cent. in 1969–70 of the totals previously planned. The corresponding figures for 1371 roads are 8½ per cent. and 10 per cent. and for housing 2½ per cent. and 5 per cent. In making their charge about disproportionate burdens falling on education, the Opposition overlook two things. First, expenditure on social security could only have been reduced by actually cutting the present rates of benefit. Secondly they wholly ignore the fact that the defence cuts do not occur on any great scale until 1970–71 and after. When these are brought into account, the education savings form a considerably smaller proportion of the total savings.
The Opposition Motion also claims that the cuts are educationally damaging. The right hon. Gentleman did develop this part of the argument. This is a false formulation. It overlooks the need, and the right hon. Gentleman had to overlook this to argue radically, to have a package of a certain size. The right approach to ask is whether the necessary savings are as little damaging as possible. This we have tried to secure. As far as possible, given the size of the necessary savings, we have avoided cutting into the structure of education. As far as possible, we have restrained the growth of expenditure in ways that will enable us as quickly as possible to resume our advance.
Let me now look at the more important economies in detail, and I will come to many points raised by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Did the hon. Gentleman say the figure of 2 per cent.? If so, I am puzzled as to how he got that. The total educational reduction over the two years for 1968–69 and 1969–70 made in the White Paper was £97 million out of a total of £716 million. I was not clear about the basis of the calculations.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I have not got all the figures with me and I cannot work out percentages in my head. I cannot do experimental arithmetic in my head, assuming the right hon. Gentleman's sums are right. It is nothing like 13 per cent. I am sure my sums are right, just as I was sure I was right when I had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West with his arithmetic. I will ask my right hon. Friend to deal with this later.
1372 I promised the other day at Question Time to give the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Handsworth, the cost that would fall on local authorities and he has now worked it out and got it right. About 60,000—that is, 60 per cent.—of the pupils in these 179 schools are paid for by the authorities, so that an increase of fees by about £20 a pupil involves an additional cost on authorities of about £1.2 million in a full year. Authorities will be paying about £140 a year on average for each pupil. This can be compared with the charges paid by a local education authority for a place in a school maintained by another authority. For the current year the figures, which have only recently been agreed, are £164 for each pupil under 16 and £289 for each pupil over 16, compared with the £140 a year they pay on average for a pupil at a direct grant school.
Parents with lower incomes have the whole of their fees remitted, so they are shielded from the increase in fees. To take an example, the full increase in fees will fall on a parent with one child whose gross income exceeds £2,000 a year. It is not unreasonable in times like this, when many school fees are going up, to require parents with this kind of income to pay an increase in fees of £20 a year. They will still be getting a subsidy for each child at a direct grant school of £58 a year. This cannot be described as mean or unfair. There are plenty of parents who would be very glad to have a subsidy of £58 a year for their children at independent schools.
§ Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)
When considering the additional burden on parents and on the local education authority to make up the fees, is that not going to take into account the increase of about £20 a year which has to be made from next September because of the unrecouped costs arising in the last period since the Burnham scales? The right hon. Gentleman has left that out of account.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
That is true and many independent schools have to meet this problem and put up fees, and parents who are fortunate enough to be able to send their children to these schools cannot be shielded altogether. The increase 1373 is not at all disproportionate, and after both these operations there is still a subsidy of £58 per pupil for parents with one child with an income of £2,000 a year. This is not improper, and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen are making a great deal too much fuss about this. This is perfectly fair today when many people in the country have to make some contribution towards making devaluation work.
I turn next to the reduction in the increase in student grants in September of this year. There will be an increase ii grant, but it will be limited to 50 per cent. of the calculations of the Brown Committee of the effect of the cost of living on student grants. We do not know what the figures will be, though we can make our own guess. We expect to receive the Committee's report in a week or so.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that students are taking a very responsible attitude about this. I think the majority of them recognise that they cannot wholly escape the effect of economies that are filling on so many people. Our system of student support is the most generous in the world. No other country that I know of, pays an automatic grant, to every student admitted by a university, in nearly half the cases covering fees and maintenance. The present cost of student support as a whole is over £130 million in a year.
Recently, I met representatives of the National Union of Students. I told them that I was very willing to consider any proposals which they had for adjustments in the maintenance grant structure, provided they did not increase the total cost of student support. We had a very useful discussion, and they put forward a number of interesting suggestions which my Department will be exploring further with t them. One of the suggestions was for an adjustment of the income scale on which the parents' contribution is determined so as to help students from poorer families —to prevent the effect of this reduction in the recommended grant increase from falling too heavily on certain classes of students.
I come now to the two major factors in our economies on which the right hon. Gentleman rightly concentrated the greater part of his remarks—and they 1374 are inter-related: postponement by two years of raising the school leaving age, and local authority expenditure.
Some people—for example, the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) in his Amendment to the Motion—have said that postponing the raising of the school leaving age has some desirable features. It is also said in some quarters that we will be better prepared two years from now to embark on this operation. But this whole line of argument I completely reject. I think that the case for raising the school leaving age—on grounds which the right hon. Gentleman gave, and on other educational, social and demographic grounds—is very strong indeed. I deeply regret the postponement of this reform. I regard it as a setback, a temporary setback, but it is also a present necessity.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend can give an assurance that, despite the postponement of the school leaving age, no child voluntarily wishing to continue beyond the age of 15 will be denied the opportunity to do so?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I will come to that point, but I can, of course, give my hon. Friend that assurance.
Since education has to make a contribution of a certain size, any other measure would have done much more harm than this one. Even if we had raised the price of school meals by a further 6d., we would have needed further savings in England and Wales of about £15 million in 1968–69 and rather more in 1969–70. This could have been achieved only by severe cuts in universities or further education, teacher supply, or the basic school building programmes. These are the only things on which we could have achieved savings of that order. The Opposition Motion amounts to a demand for cuts of this kind.
We were determined to avoid such disastrous cuts in the structure of education. Faced by the alternatives before us, the Government concluded that a two-year postponement of raising the school leaving age was the least damaging—I do not say "not damaging "—major reduction in expenditure. It has enabled us to maintain intact the output of teachers and the basic building programme.
1375 I very much hope, as everyone else does, that the rate of voluntary staying on will continue to rise. I estimate that the rate will rise from 48 per cent. this year to between 50 and 55 per cent. by the end of 1969–70. It will be uneven as between different parts of the country.
In some areas, this may create accommodation problems which are more than marginal—in many areas, the effect will be marginal—and I have told authorities which were planning new secondary buildings in the expectation of the raising of the school-leaving age and the establishment of the full five-year course that they need not now revise their plans so long as they are sure that there will be a use for the accommodation up to 1973.
Much concern has been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman and others about the impact of postponing the raising of the school-leaving age upon plans for comprehensive reorganisation. As the right hon. Gentleman said, a number of local education authorities were, quite properly, planning to use their raising of the school leaving age allocation in order to help carry out their reorganisation plans. It is for this reason—and it was not mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman—that we are adding £7 million of new starts in England and Wales and £1 million in Scotland in each of the next two years. This money will be used mainly to help maintain the progress of comprehensive reorganisation. I hope also to put some of this extra money into educational priority areas, but I do not know what the proportion will be until I hear from local education authorities about their claims for help. I expect to have these answers in the very near future. I will do my utmost to mitigate any adverse effect that there will be on comprehensive reorganisation.
The authorities which will have first claim on the sum of £8 million for new starts will be those which are committed to the introduction of a comprehensive pattern in the whole or part of their area in 1968 or 1969. I will give particular attention to authorities with a stable or falling population and which therefore have little or no claim on the major building programmes. A number 1376 of outer London boroughs are in this position, and there are authorities in other parts of the country which will be similarly placed.
Local authorities are affected in two main ways by the measures we have announced—first, by the reorganisation of the building programme. Some people, including the right hon. Gentleman, claim that the cut is much bigger than we say because we are not allowing the so-called "backlog to be brought forward into the current year's building programme. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding about this in The Guardian as well as in other newspapers —and I am not surprised because the terms we use are extremely confusing. I may say that we are now engaged in revising both our methods of terminology.
The backlog is no new thing. People have started talking about it, but we have been living with it for a long time. It has the advantage that it provides a substantial number of projects ready to start right at the beginning of a building year. Normally there is a backlog of some £70 million at the beginning of a year and a backlog of the same value at the end of a year. The same thing will occur again this year and next. But the backlog causes great inconvenience when, as now, a steadily increasing amount of investment has to be levelled off.
If we had not brought under control the start of projects from earlier years' programmes, the savings from postponing raising the school-leaving age might have been wiped out. But if we look at the value of work to be started on the ground next year—and, after all, this is what really matters—there will be no greater reduction than is involved in the decision to postpone raising the school-leaving age—indeed, less because of the £7 million of extra starts.
When we take everything into account —major and minor works, and so on—the building programme for 1968–69 will be practically the same as for this year— £129 million compared with £134 million, the latter sum includes an extra £3 million of minor works which I authorised only a few weeks ago to help development areas and areas of high unemployment.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves Circular 6/68, would he say a word about the position of those large authorities which have virtually no backlog?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
We are asking all authorities, with or without a backlog, to give us priorities for this year's building. These will be the only things we look at. There have always been authorities with and without backlogs. This is not something new. That was so in the right hon. Gentleman's term of office. He did not distinguish between those with and those without backlogs. He is making a false point.
The second factor affecting local authorities is the restraint in the growth of Rate Support Grant in the next two years. This was absolutely essential. Local authority expenditure on all services has been increasing by 6 to 7 per cent. a year. It will now be reduced to an increase of something like 4 or 5 per cent. in real terms in 1968–69 and of a further 3 per cent. in 1969–70.
This is certainly going to mean a difficult time for the authorities. The right hon. Gentleman asked me about this matter. I have told the associations that they will have to absorb the increased salaries for further education. But we must keep things in proportion. The Government expect local authorities next year to absorb any increases in cost which they cannot avoid by making savings elsewhere. The total savings required may be of the order of £60–70 million. This is less than 3 per cent. of total local authority expenditure of £2,800 million accepted for Exchequer grant in 1968–69. I am giving guidance to local education authorities, but they are independent bodies which have to make up their own minds. They control their own expenditure. Education forms a very large proportion of this expenditure—
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
About half, though it is more in some, and less in others. It cannot expect to escape altogether. I have told local authorities that I want them to preserve the training and recruitment of teachers, at the expense, if necessary, of other parts of the service.
The Opposition Motion would only make sense if it is assumed that local 1378 authority judgment on priorities and on the importance of education will be badly at fault. The Opposition can imply that if they wish, and the right hon. Gentleman came very near to it, but I have more confidence in the wisdom, foresight and sense of responsibility of the authorities.
I think that one reason why the Opposition have jumped in with this Motion is that they hope that it will lead people to forget their own sorry record over education. The right hon. Gentleman praised the Conservative's own record over a decade. However, I will take the last year of it, which is a period in which he said that great things were done.
In 1963–64, the last full year of the Conservative Government, public expenditure on education in Great Britain was £1,354 million. In 1968–69, even after the cuts it will be about £2,000 million, an increase of almost £650 million or nearly 50 per cent. in five years. Within the total, spending on universities and on teacher training will almost double. In 1963–64, the last full year of the Conservative Government, 21,200 students entered colleges of education. In 1967–68, the number was 36,600, an increase of 70 per cent. In 1963–64, 39,500 undergraduates entered the universities, including the colleges of advanced technology. In 1967–68, the number was about 57,000, an increase of nearly 45 per cent.
Quite rightly, the right hon. Gentleman always makes a lot of the need to give increased priority to primary schools, and I agree. Here our record compared with theirs is outstanding. In 1964, 116,000 new places were provided in primary schools. In 1967, the figure was 216,000, an increase of 100,000. The size of junior classes has fallen very significantly. With a record like theirs against a record like ours, the Opposition have a cool cheek in putting down this Motion.
Finally let me cast a glance to the future. Education will continue to expand. Expenditure is planned to rise by 3½ per cent. in real terms in each of the next two years and, in 1969–70, will reach the sum of £2,080 million. This will constitute 14.1 per cent. of total public expenditure. At the moment, education ranks third in public expenditure after social security and defence. In two years' time, it will rank second-ahead of defence. Even during this period of 1379 economy, we shall press ahead with comprehensive reorganisation, and we will spend more than £16 million on educational priority areas. We shall also enlarge the opportunities for higher education beyond anything contemplated in the Robbins Report.
In 1970–71, we shall start on the programme to raise the school leaving age by 1973, and, of course, I give the right hon. Gentleman the pledge for which he asked. It is relevant to point out that 1970–71, the year when we shall start up again, will coincide with the fuller effects of the defence cuts which will release resources and save another burden on the budget.
One earnest of our purpose is that we are maintaining unabated the increasing supply of teachers. This year, there will be a record number of 316,000 qualified teachers in our schools. If we did not intend to raise the school leaving age, the continuing flow of teachers at this rate would be a most extravagant operation.
I am looking urgently at the possibility of a single leaving date. But, as the House will recognise, there are a number of aspects of this problem that have to be taken into account and there are various different Departments involved. One cannot reach a very quick decision. As a result, I cannot yet make a statement, but I hope to be able to before long.
It is true that, in the next two years, we shall not make all the progress that we hoped, though, as I have shown, we shall by no means be standing still, as the right hon. Gentleman implied. We shall advance. The savings in education will help us to right our balance of payments and, once that is achieved, we shall give education its full share of the extra resources.
Anyone with the true interest of education at heart must be sad at the restraints in growth that we have had to impose. But, taking everything into account, including the Conservatives' own shabby record when in office, I confidently invite the House to reject this hypocritical Motion.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
I hope that we shall be realistic in this debate.
1380 As far as I am concerned, it is a debate on cuts in education and the consequences of them. We are not debating the merits or demerits of the Government's economic policy. I hope that we are debating education. Certainly I shall try to do that. Nor are we debating the blameworthiness of their side, and I deplore the parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which were purely party political.
§ Mr. Jennings
I expected something greater from the right hon. Gentleman today. I shall have more to say about my right hon. Friend's speech in a moment.
In the light of present conditions, we have to be realistic. It is no good moaning about the past. We have to look at the present and the future. In view of the cuts which have now been established by the statements of the Government, the question is how we can do the least harm to the educational service in the framework of those inevitable cuts. The basis of the whole problem is one of priorities. Having accepted the cuts, we must look at the consequences of them and consider what plans we have to deal with the service in the framework of them.
At the outset, I want to refer to the Motion which is before us. I agree with a large part of it. Certainly I agree with the first reason given, which refers to the cuts as being "educationally damaging". I agree, too, with the last reason, which describes them as beingdisproportionate in relation to the economy measures as a whole.It is the middle portion of the Motion —
§ Mr. Jennings
The meat in the sandwich. It is the middle portion of the Motion that rather puzzles —… based on a wrong choice of priorities … ".Priorities of what and for what? Does the word "priorities" mean priorities in the whole economic cut cake, if I may use that phrase, or does it mean priorities in the cuts in the education service? Does 1381 it mean one or the other or a combination of both?
My mind is clear about the meaning of the Motion, particularly the part to which I have referred. I have almost parsed and analysed the Motion. It regrets thatthe education service should have been subjected to cuts … based on a wrong choice of priorities …".In other words, the cuts in education are based on a wrong system of priorities.
This brings me to my first theme, namely, the question of priorities. In an intervention during the debate on the cuts about a fortnight ago, I declared quite unashamedly that I believed that if these cuts had to be made—it is obvious they have to be made in the light of economic circumstances—the Government were absolutely right in the choice of their first priority: the deferment of the school leaving age. Nothing that has happened since or been said to me by many people has caused me to change my mind.
I also said in the debate—it is a theme that I have pursued over many years in the House on many occasions—that the first priority in the education service is to put our primary schools right. Raising the school leaving age is well down the list of priorities until the base of the pyramid has been put right.
Some people say that a lot has been done for primary education, as in other sectors of education. I agree that tremendous improvements have been made. However, there are serious differentials which need to be put right. Can any hon. Member on either side of the House give me any sound educational reason why there should be a differential in the maximum size of classes: 40 for primary schools and 30 for secondary schools? Is there any sound educational reason why the younger the child the less facility it shall have concerning teacher ratio compared with the secondary school child? I cannot see it. I have taught children of all ages. It is as difficult to teach a small child as it is a boy or girl of 16, 17 and 18 years of age. The skills in many cases need to be greater in the first instance than in the second, particularly in infant schools. In using the word "primary" I am including infant schools. Until this is put right I would not agree to an early raising of the school leaving age.
1382 Another differential concerns capitation grants. As a headmaster of an all-in school and then a primary school, I know about the difference in the capitation grants which I received compared with a neighbouring secondary school. They were amazing. The child in the primary school was a Cinderella.
Now buildings and equipment. There were new buildings galore in the secondaries and very little for us in the primaries. I used to look with envy at the equipment that the secondary schools were getting. We were going down on our bended knees for projectors and things like that. I know that things have improved, but we want equality of treatment for primary schools. One has only to go round the country to see the poor state of buildings in primary schools. More has to be done by way of improving poor buildings in primary schools than in any other sector of education.
What was all the fuss about a few months ago concerning salaries? Why did we have strikes—I call them strikes —up and down the country on school meals? It was not a question of school meals; it was a question of salaries. The whole basis of the question was the differential in salaries between primary and secondary school teachers and the lack of opportunities for graded posts and that sort of thing.
There has definitely been secondary development at the expense of the primary sector of education. This leads me to say that in present circumstances this relative situation must now cease. The deferment of the school leaving age is essential. I commend this move, because it fulfils the one criterion that we have to examine. By doing this, in the face of the damaging cuts which have been announced, least harm will be done.
Another differential is teacher supply. If we had raised the school leaving age by 1970, despite what both Front Bench speakers have said, we should have been in great difficulties. I remember very vividly the immediate post-war period when the 1944 Act was brought in and we changed senior schools to secondary moderns without changing the staff or the buildings and without adding one iota of equipment or anything like that. They were suddenly transformed from senior schools to secondary modern schools with increased status. The next few years 1383 were absolute murder in many of them in connection with teaching conditions. We have to be prepared for the raising of the school leaving age with a far more adequate extra supply of teachers than we can envisage in 1970.
I turn to new buildings. It is all very well talking about comprehensive schemes and putting that building with this one and that one, thousands of yards apart, and calling them one unit. If we are supporting a full comprehensive system we need purpose-built comprehensive schools. If this is geared to the raising of the school leaving age we shall need many more new buildings than is envisaged in present programmes. Comprehensive schemes have been geared to the raising of the school-leaving age in many parts of the country, but it would be advisable for them to be deferred in the light of the circumstances to which I have referred. I hope that the Minister will not be so rigid in his approach to the question of comprehensive schemes in view of his own voluntary deferment of the raising of the school leaving age.
I come now to another important aspect. A man, famous in this House and throughout the world, once said, "Give us the tools and we will finish the job." What are the tools of teaching; what are the tools of education? Books. No matter what modern method we have in schools, we cannot do without books. Many of the modern methods are old methods in disguise under new names, whether they are called group teaching or ability grouping and so on. Many of these methods have been practised. I see hon. Members opposite who have had experience of teaching in schools agree with me. They have come out under new names. Whatever the new methods and techniques are, we cannot do without books.
What will the cuts mean with respect to books? First, they will lead to a reduction in the supply of books for both classrooms and school libraries. I accept that over the last 15 years there has been a steady improvement in the supply of school books. This has Keen due to a large extent to the setting up in 1954 of a Joint Working Party of the National Book League and the Association of Education Committees to consider the question of school book allowance, and 1384 to set out, as far as it could, appropriate standards for capitation grant for children of various ages. Many local authorities have taken advantage of the advice which has been given to them, with the result that there has been considerable improvement in the supply of books. But in the last report, that in March, 1965, the working party made certain further recommendations, and it estimated that between March, 1965 and the end of this year, through natural causes, and the unnatural cause of devaluation, the price of books will have risen by 25 per cent.
Let us consider that figure in the light of the cuts which have been made. The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, say that he is not responsible for the allocation of money for various priorities within a local authority area, that this is the job of the local education authority. What I am asking him to do is to ensure, by using his influence, by giving advice, and by the pressure that he can exert—and he has exerted pressure in other directions—that this matter is kept in perspective. If the present estimates for book allowances do not include an increase of 25 per cent., there will be a falling-off in the purchase of books by schools. Even with such an increase it will mean merely that the present position is being held. If ever something deserved priority, this is it, because books are the tools of education, and any cuts in the book allowance will add to the possibilities of disaster occurring.
It is against that background, first of the economic situation, secondly of the essential needs of primary education, and thirdly against the problem of book allowances, that we have to consider the priority of raising the school-leaving age. There is only one conclusion to which I can come. The Minister is right in not making it his No. 1 priority.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) knows that I despair of converting him, and my right hon. Friend knows equally well that I regard the postponement of the school-leaving age as both unfortunate and unacceptable.
It seems to me that this criticism is not mitigated, but rather accentuated, by 1385 the considerable progress which the Government have made in education. The fact that in spite of the cuts public expenditure on education will top the £2,000 million mark this year, and that it will increase by £83 million in 1969–70, highlights the massive resources which we are devoting to education, and pinpoints the folly of this economy and the effect that it will have on education.
As I have said before, I could have understood this postponement if the Government had had any doubts about achieving their target, but it is very much to their credit that this is not so. We have reached half-way—indeed, we are past the point of no return—and only a few months ago my right hon. Friend assured the House that he was satisfied that preparations were going ahead very well.
The school building programme is well within our capacity, but the programme which escaped unscathed from the July, 1965, measures is now to be badly disrupted.
We were also reassured about teachers. We were told that there were 95,000 students in the colleges of education, and this, again, is something of which we are entitled to be proud. We were told that we had increased the number of students by 30,000 in the last three years, and we were assured that in 1971–72 we would both raise the school-leaving age, and go some way towards dealing with the problem of the chronic shortage of teachers.
I know that some educationists have doubts about the curriculum, but we were reassured, and we received a satisfactory progress report from the Government. Indeed—and let us take credit for this—I doubt very much whether any major educational reform has been so well-planned. I doubt, too, whether there was any occasion when there was less excuse for hesitancy. Think of the last occasion.
The school-leaving age was last raised in 1947. The Labour Government did it against great odds. They had the courage and resolution to carry through their plans, and I very much regret that they have not been equally resolute on this occasion. Today very educationist recognises that the Government were right to raise the school-leaving age when 1386 they did, and I am convinced that in future most educationists will recognise that the present action is short-sighted, and a wanton economy.
The timing of this postponement could not be more disruptive. After all, the children who should have reaped the benefit of raising the school-leaving age have entered the secondary schools. The teachers are already taking their courses in preparation for it at the colleges of education. The three-year school building programme for 1967–70 is in operation and is gathering steam. This programme was manageable, and now, in spite of what my right hon. Friend said, it will suffer unduly harshly.
I shall not go into the argument about the backlog, but I emphasise that what really matters is completions. In the past I have told Lord Eccles, and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle), and now I tell my right hon. Friend, that what matters is not approvals, but completions. Anyone can give approval. What really matters is completions—new schools with children being taught in them—and since 1964 the number of schools completed has steadily declined.
It is always difficult to know which figures to select, but I have selected the figures for all projects. In 1964, the value of projects completed was £131 million. In 1965 it was £123 million, and in 1966 it was £121 million. Although the figures are not yet complete, we know that there was a further decline last year.
If we look at the corresponding figures for new places, and if we look, as we ought to in this context, at secondary schools, and if, in fairness, we consider all the projects providing new places—and this includes hutted accommodation —we see that in 1964 we provided 162,000 places; in 1965 we provided 132,000 places, that is 30,000 fewer; in 1966 we provided 106,000 places, that is about 60,000 fewer; and the figure for 1967 will show a further decline. At the same time, we should remember that the average for 1956–60 was not 106,000, but 157,000. We all know the reason for this. It was due largely to the fact that the Department recognised the increase in the birthrate so late in the day. The schools were already engulfed by the bulge, and the only thing that we could 1387 try to do was to cope with secondary education.
These figures are crucial, because they demonstrate two priorities. In the present situation, the first is that we should not concentrate on approvals. Our first concern should not be economy. What we should be determined to do is speed completions to ensure that we make the most efficient and economical use of the resources devoted to school building. Second, the figures which I gave about secondary schools clearly show that, having invested so much and devoted such sustained energy to the provision of secondary accommodation and brought the goal so close within our grasp, the top educational priority is to finish the job and raise the school leaving age.
This includes the provision of comprehensive secondary education. I recognise what my right hon. Friend has done in the provision of £7 million by way of offset, but the first casualty of all this is undoubtedly comprehensive secondary education.
I have been looking at figures for the school building programme in the North-East, which is now being revised. Every secondary school save one is designated a comprehensive one and that programme cannot be cut—as it is being cut—without prejudicing comprehensive secondary education. Our attention has already been drawn to this. I agree with Sir William Alexander that this means generally, that improvements go and we are back where we were, with the old "roofs over heads" policy.
Quite apart from this, to try to introduce a major reappraisal for the midterm of a three-year programme, not surprisingly, has brought a great deal of confusion and chaos, which is not only infuriating and exasperating: in the longer term, it is outrageously expensive. No economy is more wasteful than the disruption of well-devised, long-term programmes already well under way. From every point of view, this is a regrettable decision.
No case for an educational reform has ever been more effectively argued than that presented by the Crowther Report. As the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth said, this was given first priority by the Newsom Report, but I 1388 would remind the House that, when the previous Government undertook to raise the school leaving age, they did so after having given general acceptance to the Robbins Report. But the Robbins Report, particularly the famous Appendix One, is a conclusive reaffirmation of Crowther. As I then said, if we accept Robbins, we must inevitably accept Crowther. If we accept Robbins, we cannot tolerate for one avoidable moment the deep ditch which runs across education at the age of 15.
Once again, the Government have an impressive record in implementing the Robbins Report, but we cannot greatly increase expenditure on university education without stopping the waste of talent among working-class children. This applies not only to higher education. We talk about the shortage of scientists and technologists, but there is an even greater shortage of technicians. The real source of technicians lies in decent and adequate secondary education.
Contrary to what my right hon. Friend said, this decision of the Government will do wilful economic damage. It is nonsense to talk about restructuring the economy, if we do not put all our energies into providing the necessary level of secondary education. We have only to look at Continental experience to be convinced of that. On the last occasion, I mentioned the unfairness and inequity, educationally, between the development areas and other parts of the country. Since then, the Minister of State has given me the figures. The percentage of children staying on after school leaving age is 36 per cent. in the Northern region, much less in parts of the region, and 57 per cent. in the South-East, and much more in parts of the South-East.
If we want to help the development areas, one of the most effective ways would be by removing this disparity by raising the school leaving age. On the other hand, in the South-East, with about 60 per cent. of the children already staying on at school, it is a waste of resources not to raise the school leaving age. We must remember, as Crowther said, that it is the very children who should be in school who leave—
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
What is the source of the figures of 36 per cent. and 57 per cent. which the right hon. Gentleman quoted?
§ Mr. Willey
They were given last week; the hon. Gentleman will see them in HANSARD.
I regard this as a thoroughly bad decision. I do not argue that there should be no cuts in educational expenditure. In a way, this is an easy option. There will be no consumer lobby pressuring the Minister, and I am sure that a few fainthearted, sorely-tried people in the Department threw their hats in the air when they heard the decision. But cuts in public expenditure must be planned and they need as much sophistication and refinement as any other planning. What seems to me the trouble with the Government is that they too frequently plan with a chopper or a bargepole.
If we are worried about our economic difficulties, this decision, basically, can only aggravate them. It is an awful pity that there should be this blot on the record of a massive Government achievement in education. It is true that it is only a postponement, but the Crowther Report exposed the stupidity of this particular postponement. It is true that this is only a deferment for two years, but this weakens the Government's case. This is an avoidable economy and one which, I am sure, the Government themselves, only too soon, will regret.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
I am particularly glad to follow the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) because one of his points was the disparity of standards between the North-East, for which he speaks, and the South-East, part of which I represent. This is a very real point, perhaps the most important in the arguments about the raising of the school leaving age. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) said, if we are to try to make sense of regional policies and to make some of the more depressed areas more attractive to industry and more productive of skilled work and skilled workers, this is a very real component of the deal which we want for those areas.
I found three points in the Secretary of State's speech extremely hard to swallow. He said that the purpose of all these economic measures was to make devaluation work. Of course, it is the point of these measures, affecting education or anything else, but what we have 1390 before us in education policy is singularly ill-designed to do so either in the short or in the long term. Second, he said that, if we were to discard the educational cut-backs we might well have to turn to other sectors of welfare, and that, if we did, we would be forced to cuts in benefits rather than what he called a slower rate of expansion in education. I disagree with that argument because the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister have put before the country measures which will add up to cuts in educational benefits. I will come to that later.
Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to give higher priority in his speech to secondary re-organisation than to the educational priority areas. His remarks on this score were somewhat vague, and I hope that I am not misrepresenting him. At the top of the list of priorities in education should come the primary schools in the educational priority areas, but I did not get the impression from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that that is his view.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth gave a broad picture of the education scene as we consider it to be affected by recent Government decisions. I wish to look more closely at the effects these decisions will have on local education authorities, which must adjust to them, and, in doing so, I will illustrate my argument with some figures which I have obtained from my authority in the County of Kent.
Kent will have to make certain savings as a result of the Government's decisions. The postponement of the decision to increase the school leaving age will save the county about £105,000 and the school milk decision will save it about £74,000, £179,000 in all. Against that, one must place the increased National Insurance contributions, and that reduces the overall figure of savings by about £27,000. Against it one must also place the increased cost of direct grant school places, representing another £6,600. Against the total figure must also be placed the increase that will occur in the cost of the school meals service—arising out of devaluation and increased prices—and this is estimated to cost no less than £255,000 a year.
Thus, even looking at this immediate balance sheet, we cannot achieve what, on 1391 the face of it, appeared to be a saving of £179,000. Instead, we have an immediate increase in costs for this local authority of about £110,000. I have not yet added the salary award to which local authorities are committed in the further education sphere—£145,000—and presumably some amounts later in the year for student awards. Local authorities must take these additional expenses into account, meaning that their expenditure is not being curtailed but must inevitably rise.
The Government say that local authority expenditure must not rise by more than 3 per cent, above 1968–69 levels in real terms and that the proposition for rate support will be on that basis. This must inevitably mean a reduction in benefits and standards to local education authorities—that is, unless one of two alternatives, which I shall describe, is followed. Kent is no exception in this matter. On average, it seems that, to maintain the standard of the existing services without any increases—no change in the size of classes and nothing else being added to the bill—will require an increase in expenditure of about 6 per cent, a year, although the Government are proposing an increase of only 3 per cent.
If the Government accept this argument, they are then in duty bound to make this known and not try to shuffle this responsibility on to the shoulders of local education authorities which, at the end of the day, will be blamed for this policy. As I explained, the situation in Kent is that, allowing for no changes whatever in standards and taking no increases into account—we cannot estimate the increase in the school meals service more than about one year ahead—and allowing for only the growth in the school population, the picture for this one authority, which is not untypical, is as I have described.
Local authorities face this position for reasons which are well known; salary increments, which are based on an agreed scale—and 1 have not heard hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that teachers are overpaid—and the fact that teachers and equipment must be provided for the growing school population—and I have not heard hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that classes are too small. Precisely the reverse is the truth. Consider- 1392 able loan charges for buildings already under construction to cater for the increased school population have made the picture even worse.
For these reasons, the Minister must accept that the Government's latest policy decisions must mean a decline in educational standards or, alternatively, a substantial increase in rates, or a mixture of both. Do the Government foresee such a state of affairs? The position should be made clear on all these matters so that the country in general, and local education authorities in particular, may know where they stand.
Where do the Government stand on these priorities? There are only two ways of looking at it—both are important—the priorities within the education service, and the priorities between one Department and another. From the education service point of view, I cannot see why there should not have been a larger nibble at the school meals budget. Nor do I see why the University of the Air could not be prised away from the bosom of the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, the right hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Jennie Lee).
I would prefer to have seen a cutback in personal expenditure through indirect taxation and a saving on some of the entirely unnecessary costs involved in the Transport Bill which is before the House. That would have been preferable to these cuts in education. We are told that the purpose of these measures is to set Britain on its feet and make devaluation work. I cannot see how these measures will help us to do that. They will merely add up to a worsening of standards in education generally, when it is on those standards that we look for our professional skills and the supply of trained workers. They will also increase the strains on further education, and with the industrial training legislation coming into force, more of the resources of the nation will be needed there and extra costs and pressure will be placed on local authority budgets. They are likely to discourage the recruitment of part-time teachers, who have begun to play a real part. The teachers' salary budget will not escape the stresses and strains being placed on local authorities, adding up, as it does, to more than 60 per cent. of the total.
1393 Unless the Government let the recruitment of teachers go forward, they are likely to enlarge, not reduce, the size of classes and waste work on many aspects of secondary reorganisation—a sad epitaph on what they have said in the past. If salaries are exempt, it will mean a particularly heavy burden on the one-third of the educational budget outside the salary bracket.
We used to hear a great many Galbraithian phrases about private affluence and public squalor, and the need to look after the public sector. The fact is that we now have what is, perhaps, the most important part of the public sector being hit very hard, and hit in a way that is likely to damage the personal future of the children and the productive capacity of the nation, which is what all these measures are about.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Newens (Epping)
The case advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) was impressive in many respects. I have a high regard for the right hon. Gentleman's sincerity, and I share many of his sentiments. I am very deeply disappointed and utterly dismayed by many of the cuts being made, and I speak as a teacher, a member of the National Union of Teachers, and a speaker over a quite considerable period at meetings organised by what is now the Council for Educational Advance and various associations for the advancement of State education.
Their back bench speakers have made it clear that the Opposition are not against all cuts in education but argue that the cuts have shown a wrong choice of priorities. The Opposition have been continually calling for cuts in Government expenditure, but they have made it perfectly clear that they do not support the Government's cuts—inadequate as I think they are—in the defence programme. They must be honest and frank, and recognise that if their policies were carried out over the whole arena they would inevitably mean cuts in education, and probably very much heavier cuts than those to which the Government have had recourse.
What would the Opposition cut? The right hon. Gentleman quoted a parent who said that he would rather have faced up to charges for books and a higher price for school meals. Conservatives in the 1394 country have spoken about cutting out school milk altogether. A number of people have in the past flown a kite about introducing a system of loans for students, instead of grants. We also heard about money that ought to be allocated to comprehensive reorganisation. The Opposition must clearly state whether they would permit rate expenditure to rise. or whether they support the Government's decision to freeze the general grant for 1968–69 and restrict its increase to 3 per cent. during the following year. The Opposition must also make clear their attitude to teachers' salaries. Their record here before 1964 was not a shining one in the eyes of many teachers. I was then personally at the receiving end.
I consider that the Opposition case is based on opportunism. They are taking advantage of a particular situation, and I can only say that their Motion represents a Parliamentary sally in the gentle art of hypocrisy—
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
To underline my hon. Friend's point about the Opposition's hypocrisy, may I ask him whether he knows—this is a United Kingdom debate—that when the party opposite was in Government we had teachers on strike in Scotland?
§ Mr. Newens
I am aware of the attitude of Conservative Governments to teachers in Scotland, as elsewhere.
The hon. Members for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) and Burton (Mr. Jennings) have clearly shown that the Opposition are completely split on the school leaving age. As I listened to the hon. Member for Burton, I wondered whether there would ever be a time that he would consider right for raising the school-leaving age, and whether the terms he would lay down would ever be obtained—
§ Mr. Jennings
I thought that I had made perfectly clear to any discerning mind the conditions on which I would favour the raising of the school-leaving age. It was quite simple and straightforward. I said that when the primary school system was put right on the lines I suggested I would be fully in favour of raising the age. I take no ideological exception at all to raising the school leaving age, except on that condition.
§ Mr. Newens
I suspect that the conditions would never be right for that 1395 advance in the way the hon. Gentleman would wish.
I want to speak as one of the signatories of the Amendment that has not been called, and to reject with complete contempt Opposition endeavours to adopt a stance of rejecting cuts in education when they are not really opposed to all cuts. During the debate on the economic cuts on 17th January I made it clear that I refused to accept the Government's case for social cuts, and that applies particularly to the cut that is being made in investment by deferring the raising of the school leaving age. That decision has been roundly condemned, not only by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), and others of my hon. Friends, but by a tremendously widely-based range of people outside. It seems quite clear that if we are to have the essential basis for improving the productivity and skills of the British working population, we cannot achieve it fully until we have raised the school leaving age to 16.
That applies particularly to the development areas. Those of us who are opposed to inequality cannot suffer to continue and be perpetuated a situation in which the people in the development areas do not have the same rights and opportunities as those living in the more prosperous parts. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science made that clear, and I want to quote back to him the words he used when he became Minister. He said:It cannot be right that children's chances should turn on which part of the country they live in and on the strength of their parents' convictions about the value of a fifth year in secondary school.He was absolutely right, but for two further years as a result of the deferment, children who will not be returning to school will be denied this for all time. This is something which cannot be put right. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will introduce one school leaving date to prevent the spoiling of the fourth year at secondary schools, but that is not enough.
The deferment will mean cuts in the school building programme. I understood that there were to be cuts of £36 million in 1968–69 and in 1969–70, representing the sum which was to be ear- 1396 marked for buildings necessary for raising the school leaving age. I am confused about the cuts, particularly after the interchange between the right hon. Member for Handsworth and my right hon. Friend on the 2 per cent. and 2½ per cent. cut on today's figures. I hope that my right hon. Friend will make it clear now or arrange for his hon. Friend to clarify tonight what those cuts actually mean.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
As I said, I could not work out the mental arithmetic on my feet, but I have done it now. I was absolutely right; it is 2 per cent. and 2. per cent. of the planned increase in each of the next two years.
§ Mr. Newens
I thank my right hon. Friend but it is quite clear that the renewal of secondary schools and primary schools will be held up. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend has not decided to cut teacher supply, but we shall have teachers coming out of the colleges without jobs being available for them in certain areas, although it was intended and anticipated that those jobs would be there when the leaving age was raised. It has been said in this debate that in some areas teachers find it difficult to get employment. This situation may spread in future. Once a teacher finds he is unable to obtain employment in teaching he is likely to be lost to the profession and there will be great wastage in that respect.
I am concerned about cuts in other sectors as well as the deferment of raising the school leaving age. I am concerned about the reduction in the university capital programme and reductions in further education, the youth service and public library service. All these cuts will have a very adverse effect on the developments which should be taking place today. I am concerned about the ending of secondary school milk provision. The argument against this is the same as that which I advance against the raising of the price of school meals. At a time when perhaps half a million children are in families which do not receive an income equivalent to Ministry of Social Security standards it is absolutely wrong to raise the price of school meals or abolish school milk. Selectivity will inevitably mean that many children who are in need will not have the benefit of school milk and school meals which could help them to 1397 have a better constitution to face educational and, later, employment responsibilities.
§ Mr. Hornby
It has been said again and again that hardship cases are to be looked after and provision made for them. He should take that into account.
§ Mr. Newens
This argument is absolute nonsense. I have been a practical teacher. Many children do not like to tell their teachers that they want to have school meals. Many parents are too proud to apply, and as a result the children suffer. I am against the wholesale tendency to laud the effects of selectivity. Even if we accepted the argument, there would still be those outside the limits who need help.
I am concerned about the limitation on student grants to half the sum required to reflect the increase in cost of living since 1965. Today more students marry when they are young and there are more mature students. As an opponent of the Government's prices and incomes policy, I have argued all the time that it is totally wrong to freeze incomes while prices are bound to rise. This applies very much to student grants. I am opposed to this decision. It will cause considerable hardship to married students who are completely dependent on grants to pursue their education.
I am also deeply opposed to the freezing of the General Grant for the year 1968/69 and limiting it to 3 per cent, in the ensuing year. As the right hon. Member for Handsworth pointed out, this must have a very adverse effect on education. There are many fixed payments such as teachers' salaries and capital repayments, and in order to keep the total rate expenditure down cuts will inevitably have to be made elsewhere. There will inevitably be inroads made into unprotected sectors such as new equipment, the language laboratories and the new methods which we should be encouraging and introducing on an increasing scale into the educational system.
There is a good example of this in Harlow New Town in my area. For some years in Harlow, music classes have been held in various schools for children to attend out of school hours. In the forthcoming year the grant made 1398 for this purpose by Essex County Council is to be cut from £7,500 to £5,000. The effect will be to exclude children under 10 except those of outstanding musical ability. I declare a personal interest because my daughter is attending such a class at present. It is totally wrong that a cut such as this should be made. It will ruin the possibility of capturing the interest of young children in music at a receptive stage in their development and it may be impossible to achieve this later in life.
This cut will add nothing whatever to the export drive. Music teachers no longer employed in their spare time and therefore not paid will not rush off to do a little work on exports. I hope the Secretary of State will recognise that many of these educational services of which this is an example will be cut back as a result of Government policy. It is not merely a question of holding things at a certain level and advancing later; there will be important cuts. The effect of the savings will certainly not help the balance of payments problem as has been argued.
I do not think that there is any justification for reducing expenditure, unless it can be clearly shown that equivalent savings could not be made elsewhere in the defence field, for example, or that these savings will undoubtedly assist the export drive or reduce imports. The educational cuts will represent a serious handicap to future improvements in our efficiency. I therefore much regret the fact that they have been made. I think that the cuts are unnecessary. I think that they represent a severe blow to the educational service and they also, as we say in our Amendment which has not been called, depart from the Labour Party's pledges and election promises.
I deplore the Opposition's attempt to derive political advantage from this situation without making it quite clear that they themselves equally would demand cuts which would hit people throughout the country. I personally an unable to support these cuts, but I would equally strongly oppose cuts which were made on a different basis of priority. For this reason, I hope that all hon. Members on this side of the House, and some hon. Members opposite below the Gangway, will reject the Motion as humbug, because that is what it is. Tory-controlled 1399 local authorities have the opportunity to show their aversion to the cuts and unfortunately, there are too many such authorities at present.
I would not have voted—I would have abstained—if the Opposition had tabled a Motion deploring the decision to defer the raising of the leaving age. They have not done that. We know very well why they have not done so. Therefore, I shall vote against the Tory Motion, because I consider that in any case the record of the Labour Government's expenditure practice compares very favourably with that of the Tories over the years with which we have been dealing.
However, let there be no illusion among my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench about my attitude and that of many of my hon. Friends. We utterly deplore the cuts. They represent a terrible blemish on Labour's record. They ought never to have been made. The sooner the Government recognise that they cannot go on cutting back on these social services and on those sectors of the economy like education, which we as a party fought for years to advance, the better it will be for the country and for the Labour movement.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
I do not suppose that I am the only one who found it extremely difficult to follow the reasoning of the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens). He is massively criticial of his Front Bench. He has used phrases which are politically damaging and offensive to those in front of him, yet he is not prepared to do anything about it in the Lobby when the time comes. Having been sharply critical, he will still go sheep-like through the Lobby. If he costs the programme of alternative economies put forward at the right time, which was in the debate on the economy measures generally, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod), he will find that it matches —indeed, some would say exceeds—the economies suggested by the Government.
§ Mr. Newens
Is the hon. Member aware that not every hon. Member on this side would agree that it is my custom to go sheep-like through the Lobby? When the cuts as a whole were put before the House, I refused to go sheep- 1400 like, ox-like, or in any other fashion, through the Lobby, and I would certainly adopt the same attitude again if we were voting on the positive issue and not merely on the type of hypocrisy which has been advanced by the Opposition.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
On the contrary, the hon. Gentleman's conduct reveals that a month's discipline is very salutary indeed. The Government Chief Whip must be rubbing his hands with delight at the speech that the hon. Gentleman made.
It is very pleasant to welcome the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) to our education debates once again. All those of us who were in the Parliament of 1959–64—and I, for reasons which he will appreciate, rather especially—remember his contributions to the debates we then had. The right hon. Gentleman made a thoughtful, though highly critical, speech. He always gives the impression of caring deeply about the service and about the children who are the most important part of it. It is because the Secretary of State, in Cabinet discussions, has not really fought the battle of his service against his colleagues with the heart and vigour one would have expected of a Secretary of State for Education that he is under critical attack today. This is why we hear so many criticisms of him from his own back benches. Indeed, it will be highly refreshing to hear a speech from the Labour benches which is complimentary to the Secretary of State.
I suppose that it is inevitable that the major criticism should centre upon the issue which has attracted the greatest public interest, although I do not think that it is by any means necessarily the most important single issue of itself. The right hon. Member for Sunderland, North quite properly said that the postponement of the raising of the leaving age accentuates yet further the difference between broadly, the North and the South of the country, though, as my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells) interjected, it is by no means only a North-South problem. I do not want for a moment to detract from the problems of the type of area that the right hon. Gentleman had in mind, but I believe that it is by no means only the "bad" areas which are having difficulty 1401 because of the Secretary of State's decision. Very real problems are raised by his decision for the so-called "good" areas, also.
I, who am fortunate enough to represent precisely such an area, want to draw briefly to the attention of the House the sort of problem that this brings. I cite, for example, a secondary modern school in my constituency which, like that mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle), although going so far only for a comparatively short time, has achieved a 70 per cent. voluntary stay-on rate. This is not because of the politicians. It is primarily because of the enthusiasm of the teachers.
That raises very real problems. It has been prepared for. The whole school has been geared to the raising of the leaving age on the agreed date. As the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North so wisely said, teacheds have gone enthusiastically on courses. There have been parent-teacher meetings. The whole momentum has been got going for the agreed date.
This has been done against a background of constant sniping criticism of secondary modern schools by hon. Members opposite, who seem to regard the secondary modern as the wastepaper basket of the education system. Some of the most remarkable advances in teaching have been done in that type of school. At such a school in my constituency—Embrook School—the problem of the postponement is, first, psychological, and, second, strictly physical. A few schools have been experimenting with fifth form centres, and I also happen to have one of the experimental schools in my constituency. The increased number of children expected at the school depends on the provision of a fifth form centre.
Because the right hon. Gentleman has postponed raising the school-leaving age, the fifth form centre has gone, at least out of money previously believed to be allocated. I am happy to be able to tell the right hon. Gentleman that in this case his bacon has been saved by the local education authority out of minor works—I beg the pardon of the right hon. Lady the Minister of State. That was not meant as a pun. A school of that kind gets perilously close to having to 1402 turn away children who want to stay on after the legal age for leaving.
I do not accept that the school-leaving date has merely been postponed. I believe that a Treasury decision has been taken that it shall be cancelled. There are all the symptoms of such a decision. If one is to make a difficult decision of that nature, one does not announce it as a total cancellation; one does it by degrees, particularly so that with any luck one will not have to announce the total cancellation before the likely date of a General Election.
I remain unshaken in that view and the more protestations I hear, from the Prime Minister at least, the more certain I am that the Treasury has made the decision. All the signs are that the Secretary of State is the Treasury's total prisoner in the matter, and I do not believe that he realises the seriousness of what he has done.
But at least the cancellation by the party opposite, although they do not appreciate it, gives chances for second thoughts. It will rest with us on this side of the House to take those chances, and I hope that we shall use the unwelcome respite to think again about the detailed use of the fifth year. Perhaps we might explore more fully than has been done before alternative forms of full-time education for the kind of child who does not find it easy to enter into more intellectual pursuits, and who might, therefore, positively benefit from a full-time education at a place other than a school. This might go quite a long way to meeting the objections of a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who are bothered about the compulsory nature of the fifth year.
But—and I am sorry to have to say this in the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), for whose views I have the greatest respect—I do not believe that we shall make sense of a viable secondary course until it includes a completed fifth year. It does not make sense at a time of economic difficulty to make this the priority cut, when almost every other likely competitor would be increasing investment in a service which would give productive possibilities in future years, let alone make a much wider life possible for a very large number of young people.
1403 The Minister referred to the problem of a single school-leaving date, and I was glad that he responded in part to my right hon. Friend's request to give this very serious consideration. The postponement of the raising of the school-leaving age makes a complete fourth year all the more important, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not waste any time. He could get legislation through the House this Session, and it could be operative in the academic year starting September, 1969. He could thereby make a coherent whole for all the children involved in the final fourth year.
Like my right hon. Friend, I am always sorry that we on this side of the House failed to grasp this nettle when, by legislation, we reduced the number of school-leaving dates from three to two. It is well known that the reason at that time was concerted advice from both sides of industry. The T.U.C. was as strongly opposed to a single leaving date as anybody. I well understand the anxiety of those concerned with finding jobs for school leavers over having to do the task once in a year only. But when the dates were reduced to two I made careful inquiries in my constituency, and possibly other hon. Members did so in theirs. I found that those responsible for placing school leavers in jobs did not share the anxieties which seemed to be felt at the centre. Furthermore, I found that many employers instinctively recognised the superior quality of a completed fourth year, and were perfectly prepared to put up with the inconveniences and difficulties associated with one school leaving date. This was most important.
I hope that in her reply the right hon. Lady will at the very least acknowledge that this is a legislatively simple step. I trust that she would not question that it is educationally valuable. It represents a very small investment—and that in part answers the case of the hon. Member for Epping.
I shall be brief, because other hon. Members wish to speak. Like the hon. Member for Epping, I wish to refer to student grants. I am very pleased that my right hon. Friend spoke of the very restrained and responsible way in which the leaders of the students' unions throughout the United Kingdom have 1404 responded to the problems now facing them. At a time when it is fashionable simply to shout "London School of Economics ", "Take a pill in Edinburgh ", or one of those catch phrases, about every student, it might be appropriate if the House simply said that it recognised—I hope on both sides—that the vast number of students at all levels of higher education are hard-working and serious men and women, seeking to equip themselves for a useful part in life.
I also regarded it in the post-war years as one of Britain's greatest achievements that she broadened so enormously, out of all recognition, the social base from which such students are drawn, and I am certain that one of the constituent factors in the broadening of that social base has been our system of grants. While I shall not go into detail, I would be prepared to defend many if not all of the aspects of that system, and I remind the House that, on the Secretary of State's own figures, 30 per cent. of the students are on maximum grant, which must, therefore, show that a substantial number of students will be considerably affected by the cut announced in the increase due to the cost of living.
In his statement, the Prime Minister said that the cut would be made for "the time being ". It would be helpful if the right hon. Lady would forecast what she understands by "the time being ". Are we talking about one academic year or does she forecast that it is likely to go on for two? We should also like to clarify other aspects of this matter. It must be said plainly and from these benches that no responsible person today, in the present economic circumstances, could possibly support an increase in real terms in student grants and I hope that the right hon. Lady knows, as I am sure she does, that the students unions are not making any such request.
But the aspect of the negotiations which the right hon. Gentleman is having which is causing anxiety is whether or not—and I think that he in part answered this today—he has already made up his mind on the figure he will allocate for this, or whether he really will follow closely the advice given to him by his Advisory Panel on Grants. As I understood him, the right hon. Gentleman was saying clearly—and I hope that the right hon. Lady will confirm this—that he will 1405 accept what I might loosely call the "Brown figures ". But it would be helpful if the right hon. Lady would be emphatic and clear upon this matter.
We should also be grateful to know when the right hon. Lady expects the report of the Advisory Panel to be made public. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman must see it first in private, and I think that he told the House that he expected to do so within the next week or so. But perhaps the right hon. Lady will tell us when we shall be able to judge the figures ourselves.
I want to be clear that what we are talking about is an increase, found by independent machinery set up by the Secretary of State himself, due to a rise in the cost of living since 1965, and it is that increase which the Government, totally arbitrarily, are proposing to reduce by 50 per cent. It had better be clearly understood that this represents hardship. If it is that the grant figure will go up by about £25 a year, a young man or woman therefore faces not only increases right across the board in common with all but, as my right hon. Friend said, such increases as the £40 rise in hall-of-residence charges in London.
Unless the younger generation in our colleges and other places of higher education are not to become cynical at the way Government in the abstract treats them, they must feel that at least we have an understanding of their problems and have been prepared to discuss and go into the alternative suggestions they have put in a very responsible way.
I suppose that everyone in this Chamber is interested in one aspect or another of education. We should not otherwise be here. But I feel deeply resentful of the economic pass to which we have been brought which makes this debate possible or necessary. I am not questioning the bona fides of hon. Members opposite. I understand the difficulties of a man like the hon. Member for Epping, who has set his hand, perfectly honourably, to promises in his election address and now finds himself having publicly to eat his words in almost every degree. But I deeply resent, on behalf of the service, that the whole economic climate should have been brought to this pass and that it should be necessary for us to discuss these swingeing cuts.
1406 It will take a considerable time to get the momentum going again economically, and there had better be no misunderstanding about that, certainly when we come to the General Election. But I hope and believe that, at least with this party in office, we will be able once again to restore to its rightful leading place as a major candidate for care, thought and expenditure the great education service upon which so much of the future of the nation depends.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Buchanan (Glasgow, Springburn)
The cuts that are being called cuts amount, in many ways, to not spending as much as we were spending on education and do not amount to cuts in any great degree at all. The big decision is the postponement of the higher school leaving age. I have spoken to hundreds of teachers, not only since the postponement was announced but beforehand when the danger of postponement was evident. The higher school-leaving age has been postponed for economic reasons, but I think it would inevitably have had to be postponed in any case.
I have spoken to many headmasters, and can say that my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) is the only teacher I have heard who is not heaving a profound sigh of relief at the postponement. We are told of growing cynicism about politics and politicians. There is no part of the community with more justifiable grounds for harbouring such a notion than the teaching profession. When I have read blue books and have heard Ministerial promises of an adequate number of teachers for the increasing number of children in our schools by 1970, I have been apt to remember a whole series of rosy promises which became, in the event, a dingy grey.
Hundreds of White Papers and Blue Books have been published about the education crisis, but that crisis has been with us for 25 years. To the educationists —not the educators—it has been a fountain of honour from which there has been a rich cascade of O.B.E.s and C.B.E.s in abundance. But, for all their endeavours, we are still left with an education crisis. But it is not a different type of crisis. It is not a subtly transmuted crisis. It is the same brutal 1407 straightforward crisis that has been with us for 25 years. That crisis has been and is the teacher shortage. I have never heard it said, until my hon. Friend the Member for Epping said it, that there is a surplus of teachers in certain areas.
Teaching is a unique profession in that decisions of the utmost importance to its well-being and future are made by individuals who do not practise the craft. It would be considered extraordinary by doctors, dentists and lawyers if their professional lives were ruled by a group of people who did not currently practise medicine, dentistry or law.
Reading the reports issued from the Ministry I am struck by a curious circumstance. It is the Olympian detachment with which educationists view the teacher in the classroom. It hardly surprises me that this is so, because the committees which produce the reports by and large are made up of the scarlet majors of education, the educationists. The only barrier to entry to their club, and it is an insuperable barrier, is that they do not teach flesh and blood children in a three-dimensional classroom. The teacher shortage is the serpent in the educationist's Eden, but he is not daunted by obstacles such as a teacher shortage. He notes it and regrets it and passes on to construct yet another ramshackle theory further to confound the confusion in the classrooms, classrooms which he is reluctant to enter.
The director of education in any large authority is probably the only educationist for whom a large measure of sympathy is due. Daily his task becomes more and more formidable, using desperate expedients, using his excellent administrative know-how to preserve, outwardly at least, a semblance of educational order and bringing succour to hard-pressed headmasters, sometimes robbing St. Peters to pay St. Pauls. But directors are far too close to the real problems of teaching to be indifferent to the sad deficiencies of some of his uncertificated colleagues.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and my hon. Friend the Member for Epping, said that there would be adequate teachers for the raising of the school-leaving age, one saying almost that there would be too many. They entirely forget the num- 1408 ber of unqualified and uncertificated dilutee teachers. The employment of such people is sweeping a little more educational dirt underneath the carpet. The widespread use of non-qualified persons, the uncertificated teacher or the dilutee, is simply a further blow to the status of the profession whose image has been sadly tarnished during the last 25 years.
Teaching is a profession which attaches to it no mystique, unlike the law. The ordinary man or woman may never have to consult a lawyer in a lifetime and if he does he is confronted with a lot of legal jargon and skill which overawes him. The doctor is the man who eases pain and who may superintend one's deathbed—some doctors may even contrive it. But everybody has been taught and everybody has been to school for at least 10 years. Everyone has watched a teacher sauntering about the classroom, diversifying his professional day with bouts at the blackboard, or sitting somnolent at the desk while the pupils do all the work. That is looking at the man through the wrong end of the telescope.
§ Mr. Arnold Shaw (Ilford, South)
Has my hon. Friend ever been in a classroom, or actually had the benefit of a teacher?
§ Mr. Buchanan
My hon. Friend has misunderstood me. I am being sarcastic. I am stating the view of the educationist, the view which forgets the hundreds and thousands of education miracles which occur in our schools every year. Unfortunately, far too many of our education administrators—and I was the chairman of an education committee for three years—remember their childhood and try to judge teachers by what they then saw, and they still indulge in the childish concept that teaching is easy.
Their crisis policies are based on the assumption that anybody can teach. The employment of uncertificated teachers, well intentioned though it may be, has a lasting effect on children, and our education system has been bolstered by having so many hundreds of these unqualified people. Too many people take from this the comforting assurance that, no matter how harmful it may be and not matter how hopelessly amateurish the teaching may be and no matter if it is non-existent, they will not be held responsible for the consequences because those 1409 consequences inevitably must be far into the future.
The more that education appears to survive by the use of these ramshackle expendients, he more the public image of the teacher is tarnished by a policy which seems deliberately to underline the worthlessness of his training. The more the intellectual quality of the profession chops, the less will able sixth formers and university students look to it as a possible career.
I humbly submit to my right hon. Friend that if a further inquiry into matters educational is to take place, it should be into the qualifications of many of these educationists, the natural enemy of the educator, who have been so prolific in Government inquiries during the past 20 years. These professional educationists have created a climate of opinion for permissive education which is reflected increasingly in the ever increasing evidence of school-boy insolence, insubordination, violence and sometimes downright thuggery.
This leads me to the second crisis which hinges on the shortage of teachers and the employment of unqualified people. The problem of discipline does not arise in a grammar school, or in a fee-paying school, or in the colleges, as it does in a State secondary school, for the sanction of the "sack" is paramount if a boy does not behave. The threat of dismissal is always over his head. But that does not happen in the State schools and even the rejects from the grammar schools and from the fee-paying schools are sent to the State schools.
The new nostrums and specifics of education have left Eton, Harrow, Winchester, the "prep" schools and the grammar schools of Britain completely untouched. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North used the word "exciting ", the new jargon word of the educationists to whom to innovate is the supreme virtue—novelty is all. Meanwhile, those ancient institutions of which I have spoken proceed unruffled in their troglodyte way, insisting on the old-fashioned skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and even more old-fashioned virtues like accuracy and intellectual stamina.
The gap which was closing between the education of the rich and the poor 1410 is widening and it is widening through the malign activities of educationist cranks and misguided egalitarians who see in the State education system an unlimited field for exploiting yet another education gimmick. The Government could save a great deal of money by eliminating a great many gimmicks. If we are honest, we shall stop playing with this serious matter. There is nothing politically spectacular about steady educational advance.
It does not catch the headlines, but it is vital to our survival as a nation that we proceed on the right lines. On the subject of discipline, one can peruse the White Papers and read the Blue Books very closely, but find little evidence that the "neds" and the louts exist in State schools. Exist they do, in every big urban comprehensive or multilateral school, and they are sufficiently important in the educational scheme of things to be a source of suffering to many teachers and pupils alike and a cause of the flight from teaching and productive of many internal staffing difficulties. What are we to do about this?
One of the causes of discontent has been the absolute failure to import into a State system of education a just and corrective form of discipline, preferably non-corporal. No teacher likes to wallop a youngster, but a form of discipline must come into State schools where the situation, in the secondary schools, is becoming very serious. The grave growth of insubordination is one of the most powerful factors in deterring potential teachers and bringing about resignations. A refusal to examine this point makes absolute nonsense of all one's educational blueprints. To ignore it is not only to leave out the Prince, but the King and Ophelia.
The purpose of discipline is simple. It is to ensure conditions in the classroom which will enable the teacher to impart instruction. Many teachers are unable to do this because of what the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) said, about the classes being too big. Every class has probably two boys who simply will not be disciplined. Although many parents would have no objection, and would like to send their children to a State comprehensive school, even knowing that the comprehensive school is probably better in attainment than the grammar school, 1411 they will still wish to send the child to the grammar school, because that is inevitably based on good discipline, for the reasons that I have stated. If they send their child to the comprehensive school that child will become the butt of the "ned" and the lout.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
Would my hon. Friend not agree, talking about secondary moderns in England and junior secondaries in Scotland, that there are also "neds" and louts in senior secondary and grammar schools?
§ Mr. Buchanan
I am talking about comprehensives and grammar schools. My hon. Friend could not have been listening. In the grammar schools, if the "ned" persists in his behaviour he speedily gets the sack. Where does he go? Into the State school, there is no other place. The "ned's" way of life is violence. In the State secondary schools the teacher is denied by law any effective method of ridding the classroom of these squalid nuisances.
If we do not make use of the time given us by this postponement, but introduce legislation to increase the school leaving age without adequate, well-qualified teachers, the "neds' charter" will indeed be complete. When the proposal is implemented, it is essential that qualified, certified teachers are there, and not promised in rosy educational plans for the future. We have many hundreds of thousands of excellent, well-qualified teachers in our State schools. But educational policies over many years have led to the appointment of many who are refugees from other callings, just as educationists are often refugees from the classroom.
The career teacher is vital to the future of our society. Thousands more must be recruited. In addition to doing something about the three matters to which I have referred, may I suggest that such an old-fashioned remedy for helping recruitment as higher salaries is well worth trying. In educational matters, for leadership in policy formation, for expertise in instruction, we should depend more and more upon those who are trained for educational service, committed to it and experienced in its details.
More than any other group of people, we are dependent upon the calibre of 1412 these professional teachers who man our classrooms, both for the approach to excellence in education and the better use of education to attain our national means. This is the one aspect on which I agree that our priorities have gone wrong. Our priorities should be to see that the classrooms are manned with excellent well-qualified people. We should introduce some form of discipline to see that the boy or girl who has no intention of becoming educated, but is simply concerned to disturb the class is eliminated. I urge my right hon. Friend to take note of what I have said, on salaries in particular.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Esmond Wright (Glasgow, Pollok)
May I begin by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan). I share his concern, as anyone representing a Glasgow constituency must, both over the problems to which he has alluded and the grave shortage of teachers. He has, however, neglected one fundamental aspect of the cuts. May I remind the House, not merely of the consequences of these cuts themselves, but all that they provided for. For three years now we have had the "going-back" on the promise of six new universities, a promise held out up to and during the October, 1964, election campaign. The whole atmosphere of encouragement and hope in higher education summed up in the Robbins Report and its appendices has been halted. The Labour Government have delayed and cut the university building programme. In 1965–66 it was £541 million, in 1966–67, £33 million and in 1967–68 £25 million.
I wonder whether the Secretary of State is fully aware of the mood of despair now prevailing in university education. For these totals to which I have referred apply not merely to the existing old-style universities, the 24 to which we used to make reference. They are meant for 44 institutions, for the C.A.T.s and the new foundations which are fiendishly expensive in buildings, equipment, books and staffing.
As Lord James of Rusholme has said, and he is one who can speak with authority:If this represents a great step forward, what would a step back look like?We should remember that the Government have gone back on one fundamental in the Robbins Report and that was that 1413 there was to be a great spectrum of education in which each of the institutions would find its natural place. But now we have the Woolwich doctrine of 1965—the doctrine that there are universities, the so-called autonomous institutions—and there are all the rest in the public sector.
It is imperative that we should notice the decline also in the status of colleges of education. Where are they going in the future? All they have been offered are B.Eds. for a handful of students. I gather that it is the fashion to make reference to one's professional association; I am a member of trade union, as it were, the Association of University Teachers. In Glasgow, I think I am right in saying, we are this year getting perhaps only 65 B.Eds. from what is effectively, in Jordan Hill College of Education, the third university of Glasgow.
It seems to me we have to pay attention to this note of despair, this note of desperation, which is creeping into some university statements. May I refer the House to the last statement of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow who has just retired from chairing the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and who is therefore one of the senior academic statesmen in these islands.
Speaking of the link between universities and the educational system, he says:But even where the link does obtain, it has not led the Secretary of State for Education and Science to seek university opinion in any regular way on major educational policies. On the relations of the universities to the other institutions of higher education, for example, where official policy aims at a sharp division between the autonomous universities and the public sector' colleges, the so-called binary system ', the Minister formed and stated his policy first and only consulted the universities later when the policy ran into trouble. The same thing happened with fees for overseas students. As for the major policy on schools, the policy of comprehensive education, the universities have never been consulted in any way whatsoever ".May I recall the attention of the House to other similar remarks. Here is the Provost of a university college a good deal nearer to this House, Lord Annan, Provost of University College, London, talking about the role of the U.G.C. Writing in the Political Quarterly, he said:But the U.G.C. will be more an instrument of governmental policy than it has been. Perhaps some form of regional or, more 1414 profitably, complementary grouping will emerge, in which consortia of universities arrange pacts of mutual assistance. Just as the autonomy of the department within the university is now being re-examined and called into question, so that autonomy of universities will be modified by a number of factors: the need to phase building operations, to zone subjects of study, to centre post-graduate study in a particular field in one place rather than in a dozen. All this the U.G.C. is going to have to arrange and direct, and its bureaucratic powers will grow.I would remind the House that these are the sort of statements coming from universities and which preceded the cuts announced the other week.
I do not entirely join with the hon. Member for Springburn in his views on the postponement of the raising of the school-leaving age. I believe, as almost every speaker in the House has said, that this delay is serious and unfortunate and, I agree with the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that it is "a regrettable decision ". This is not after all a party political point. I thought, as an ex-university teacher, that this country was agreed on the fundamentals for higher education and for university education when it agreed to implement and carry through the 1944 Act. These pledges were repeated in the Crowther report in 1959 and the Newsom Report in 1963.
A point that has not been made thus for is that 1971 was the best year for the raising of the age because in that year the number of 15-year olds, about 650,000, was at the lowest point for a decade. By 1973 it will be 54,000 more than that and if there is this progressive delay and perhaps the total abdication of the policy to which my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) referred, the difficulties will be still greater. What surprises me is the apparent incapacity of this House to realise that this is a great educational divide, that there are a host of unfilled scientific and technical places in the universities and new institutions which were the colleges of applied technology.
Those places are unfilled because the people are not being trained at the age of 14, 15 and 16 in the schools. So I endorse what the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North said that this is wilful economic damage. It is treachery to education, not merely in this country but in Europe. Think of the appeals being made 1415 to British universities to form consortia with European universities in various enterprises and watch the parallel development out pacing us immensely in Germany, Japan and of course, in the United States.
I would call the attention of the House, if that is necessary, to the fact that the present Leader of the House, who graced us with his presence for a short time at the beginning of the debate, moved a Motion of censure on the 27th January, 1964 because this party, then the Government, had not introduced the raising of the school-leaving age a good deal earlier. But, as we know, in politics consistency is no longer a virtue.
I will not dwell on the regional variations except to say—and I am sure that the hon. Member for Springburn will say—that what is true of the North of England and the disparity between the South and the North is despairingly truer of Scotland.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that statistics in Scotland show that there are fewer children who stay on at school and that there are fewer people going to universities and colleges of further education than in the North of England? If I could catch Mr. Speaker's eye tonight I could prove the opposite.
§ Mr. Wright
It would not be for me to anticipate what the hon. Member would say. The character of higher education in the fifth year—as it is called in Scotland—is so different that parallels are difficult to make.
All I am trying to suggest is that there is a regional economic imbalance. I believe that in the long run these cuts will hurt Scotland, as they are hurting the North of England, far more than the South.
The second point that has not been made yet is the effect of the cut in capitation grant to direct grant schools, though I gather that the hon. Member for Springburn was making indirect reference to this. There are, I think, 179 grammar schools under direct support in England and about 20 others, largely nursery schools; and there are in Scotland 29 direct grant schools. In the earlier part of the debate we were work 1416 ing on this assumption that in England the cut in capitation to the direct-grant schools would be in large part shifted to the local authority. About 60 per cent. of the places in English direct grant schools are paid for by the local education authorities so the net saving is not nearly £2 million, as was said in the middle of January, but is only about £600,000.
The cut in the direct grants to the schools in the North of England and Scotland will hurt Roman Catholic schools appreciably. It will certainly hurt Scottish schools, because the Scottish tradition does not normally link the direct grant schools to the local authority. And where Scotland is concerned, there are not merely the cuts in the capitation grant. I was told in reply to a Question of mine a few days ago that the system is to be changed attaching to the close estimates sent from direct grant schools to the Scottish education department. These are not usually regarded as finally binding but open to later review.
And the assumption in the past has always been that these close estimates do not include the amounts that follow from any increase in teachers' salaries. This has now been cancelled and the close estimate submitted for the 29 direct grant schools in Scotland will have to meet the expected increase in teachers' salaries from April this year. There is thus the embarrassing and certainly totally unique situation in Scotland of having to consider approaching parents to ask for increased fees for the current year as well as the years ahead.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
The Motion measures the wrong choice of priorities. Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that the Scottish direct grant schools, for which 90 per cent. of parents are already able to afford very substantial fees and who can afford this sort of cut, should not be one of the first categories of people to make a contribution to the present situation?
§ Mr. Wright
I query two things. First, I query the procedure of saying, "In this current year you must find the money ". This comes out also in the attitude to student grants—the fact that this was a decision announced in anticipation of a report which has not yet been produced.
1417 Let me cite one direct-grant school of which I am a governor. The average fee paid by parents and one has to give an average figure because the amount varies a good deal between fees for 5.year-old children and fees for 15-yearold children—is £90 a year. The direct grant from the Scottish Education Department is roughly £40 a year. Therefore, the cost of the child's education in a direct grant school is about £130.
The cost of educating a child in the city schools in Glasgow is £129 a year. The parent is making a contribution of two-thirds of the cost of the education of his child which would otherwise have to be carried by State and United Kingdom money. We are penalising parents who are ready to spend £80, £90, or more of their earnings on the education of their children. I regard both the method and the end of doing this as unfortunate and deplorable.
I come to the third serious aspect of these cuts, and that is the effect on universities. I emphasise not merely the note of depression which obtains in universities, but the fact that the new universities in general for the last three or four years have been gaining appreciably and the older universities have not been gaining pro rata. The universities of Scotland, especially the non-residential universities like Glasgow and Aberdeen, are suffering particularly in what one might call the student pecking order compared with Norwich, Sussex and other bedlams by the sea. The view seems to be that every cathedral town must have a university.
Money is going to the new universities at the expense of the old. Scottish universities are being asked to work on the cheap. I would refer the House to the Estimates Committee Report of July, 1965, to the evidence of the poorer staff-student ratio in Scottish universities to the fact that costs are in general terms appreciably lower, and to the fact that staffing and amenities are that much more difficult to improve. If this series of measures continues very long, there will be a still further drift from the older Scottish universities, which still teach a great number of Scottish students in poor, dilapidated buildings, to the new luxurious institutions to some of which the hon. Member for Springburn referred.
1418 I should like to consider what might be done to deal with this deplorable situation. Can we save anything for the country's sake'? I believe that there are three or four steps which could and should be considered. I should like to ask whichever party forms the Government to ask itself whether British students should not pay more in fees to universities. This would give universities a little more financial autonomy and independence, and that is confirmed by the Robbins Report and the various reports of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors. The cost would be shifted, by and large, to the local authority, but there would be some measure of freedom of manoeuvre in universities which would be of benefit.
I ask the hon. Lady the Minister of State to seek to persuade the Treasury and I realise that its influence over higher education is now indirect rather than direct—to consider a series of tax concessions for donations and endowments to universities on a scale parallel to that in the United States. If one looks through the budgets of any of the big universities in this country, one notices a striking distinction. I think I am right in saying that Glasgow University depends for 72 per cent. of its resources on the State, whereas the University of Virginia, of which I am a graduate, a middle-ranking State university, gets under 40 per cent. from State grants. Here we have something to learn from the United States. Tax concessions to the potential Carnegies, Nuffields, Wolfsons and all the smaller fry—there are a great many alumni in Scottish universities who would welcome this opportunity—would be a constructive step.
Again we cannot for much longer direct universities–44 of them—through the present institutions such as the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and the U.G.C. The time has come to set up local consortia of universities. I should like to see what is still called in Scotland the "Four Courts Committee "—which existed when there were only four universities and members of the Four Courts Committee met every six months. I should like to see such meetings legalised and given regional financial authority. I should like to see infinitely more attention paid to the problem of wastage, especially during the first and second years, in 1419 universities. This could be done without too much expenditure of money.
Something can still be rescued from the chaos which will obtain for the next few years in higher education. I welcome some of the developments of recent years, not least the Schools Council. There is a danger of the Schools Council beginning to produce text books instead of advice to teachers, but it is a healthy development and its work should be strengthened. But there should be many more residential centres at which teachers can continue their in-service training.
I conclude by quoting the words of Professor Macioti, Scientific Secretary of the Delegation of the Commission of European Communities:This country has the best professors, the best equipment and the best climate for studies in Europe ".I believe that that is still true. We will have to survive, if we can survive, in educational terms through the grim years ahead. These cuts are a serious threat to what Professor Macioti referred to, but if a constructive effort is made we can perhaps find some solutions which will help us educationally to survive in the grim years ahead.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollock (Mr. Wright) will forgive me if I do not delve too far into Scottish affairs. I wish to concentrate my attention on a region very near to his own country, about which I would claim to have some specialised knowledge.
I am very concerned about the waste of potential talent of far too many of our brightest young people, for all sorts of reasons, especially those from working-class families. The Robbins Report, in Appendix 1, Section 2, shows very clearly the social bias in access to higher education in the United Kingdom for children of measured intelligence. The Robbins Committee took the very bright children with I.Qs of 130-plus and found on the basis of the father's occupational social class that 37 per cent.—even that is too small—of the middle-class children went on to a full-time degree course, but only 18 per cent.—about half that figure—of the working-class children of the same high intelligence did so.
1420 This under-attainment of working-class children shows itself in children of somewhat lower intelligence. For example, 6 per cent. of the middle-class children with I.Q.s of 100 to 114 made a degree course, but only 2 per cent. of working-class children in the same intelligence category did so.
It is on this basis that I want to refer to the Northern Region, which has a very high proportion of what might be called working-class families. From figures which I shall quote, I hope to show that the Northern Region is unique and distinct from every other area, including the development areas of the South-West, Wales and Scotland. I assert with regret that there is abundant evidence in those figures, which is not sufficiently realised, even within the Department of Education and Science, that we have in our most educationally backward region a type of intellectual desert in which the academic potential of thousands of relatively bright young people never comes to fruition.
One yardstick is that of university education. In a very helpful letter to me dated 29th December, my right hon. Friend said that, according to Table 23 of the Statistics of Education, Part III, the proportion of school leavers in the Northern Region who proceed to universities is lower than in all the other regions in England and Wales, and he might have included Scotland, although the correspondence does not refer to that country. My right hon. Friend is quite right. If one takes the U.C.C.A. Statistical Supplement and correlates it with figures taken from the Statistics of Education, 1966, Part I, one finds that, although the Northern and Yorkshire Regions combined had 20 per cent. of the school pupils of the whole of the United Kingdom, excluding Scotland, they succeeded in obtaining only 14 per cent. of the university places. Incidentally, within that grouping, the Northern part of it fared rather worse than Yorkshire in this respect.
Plus or minus 1 or 2 per cent., all other regions of the United Kingdom obtained approximately the same ratio of university places to the numbers of pupils in their areas. That is true of the South-West of England, of Wales and, I understand, of Scotland. The only other region which compares at all with the Northern 1421 Region is the North-Western Region, which also has an under-attainment of university places in relation to the number of children in its schools.
Unless we assume that there are special reasons why the North of England, and the North-West, often in the mining areas of Lancashire, do not produce so many bright children, one must then analyse the basic social causes. However, before doing that, one might be led to suppose that, if relatively bright young people are missing the university train, it may be that they are catching the college of further education bus. However, that is not true!
The Statistics of Education, 1965, Part II, Table 17 shows that, of the 18 to 20-year age group in the North, only 18.13 per cent. were in some form of course in a further education college, and that was the lowest percentage of any region in the United Kingdom. If one takes the figure for girls alone, it was catastrophically below that of other regions, with only 10.44 per cent. of girls aged between 18 and 20 in a course at a further education college. From the letter which I received from my right hon. Friend, I understand that the latest figures, which are available to him but not to me, reveal a slight improvement in terms of those at courses at further education colleges. We are, I believe not quite at the bottom of the league table, but we are only one step above it.
All kinds of explanations might be produced by educational theorists and sociologists about these very low northern academic aspirations and achievements. What is fascinating to me is that the areas nearest to the North in terms of the social composition of the population—Wales and Scotland, which are both major development areas—do remarkably better than the North on the kinds of yardstick that I have used. For some historical reason, there has been a far stronger educational tradition in the working-class communities of Scotland and Wales than there has been in the North of England. Educationally speaking, the deficiencies of our class structure in the North have had a more disastrous effect on educational achievement than similar deficiencies in areas such as Wales and Scotland.
According to the tables which I have quoted, taking the number of children 1422 remaining at school in the North beyond the age of 15, the most recent figure supplied to me by the Library was 31.5 per cent. That was the lowest figure in the United Kingdom, and, according to the latest figures available to the Department, it is still the lowest. That compares badly with the 53.2 per cent. in the South-East, the 47.8 per cent. in the South-West, and the 42.4 per cent. in Wales. It makes very sad reading.
Coupled with it, I throw in a further statistic which is very interesting. The percentage of all school leavers from Northern schools with one or two A-level G.C.E. passes is the lowest in the country. Equally, the number of children leaving with five or more O-level passes shows once again that the North has the worst level in the country.
§ Mr. John Wells
Assuming that I have the same table from the Library, which is somewhat out of date, I think that the hon. Gentleman's figure is wrong. According to the table which I think he is quoting, Bedfordshire shows up as by far the worst county. Following Bedfordshire, Dudley shows up as the worst urban area. Although I go along with the general drift of what he is saying, he must not say that the North is the worst area.
§ Mr. Rhodes
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. I am quoting regional figures. I am not dealing with particular districts within regions. I have checked and rechecked my figures with the help of the Librarian, and I stand by them. Taken as a region, the North is the worst in the country for early school leaving. I do not know which are the worst districts, but, within the North there are far worse areas in terms of early school leaving than in others. For example, in my constituency there is ward where only 9 per cent. of children went to a grammar school or to some other selective form of education until recently.
A flat rate of 30–35 per cent. for the region shows how bad certain mining communities in the North are in terms of early school leaving. In addition, we have the highest pupil-teacher ratio in the country, and the largest number of overcrowded classrooms.
One would immediately concede that the North is a traditional, nineteenth century industrial area. I am glad to say 1423 that new industries are coming in. A high proportion of the population is working class, with long traditions of early school leaving. Because it is different in its response to its industrial environment, in the educational sense, from Scotland and Wales, which are the nearest development areas like it, it presents a unique and distinct region.
In passing, I will mention a very interesting fact. I believe that one of the most effective ways of getting a child into university is to get him into an independent school. I will not go into that argument this evening. There is considerable significance in the fact that of the 309,000 children in England and Wales in independent schools recognised as efficient, no less than 163,000—well above half—are in the South-East Region compared with only 26,000 in the Northern and Yorkshire Regions combined, which is an enormous population area. This may be one reason why there is a relative under-attainment in obtaining university places.
The question I pose is: what should our reaction be if we discover, on the basis of analysis, that one region in the country is the most backward region educationally? I suggest that it requires urgent priority treatment. My complaint—I do not raise it against this Government; I raise it against all Governments over the last 50 years—is that the region never has had priority and it is not getting it now.
On university development, I agree with the comments of the hon. Member for Pollok. There has been a concentration of capital for development within the university sector on new universities, presumably to raise them to economic units of operation with a student population which makes them viable. In practice, this means that, the Northern Region not having a new university and with the proposals for the Teesside University being shelved perhaps for the next 10 years, the capital development programme for the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the next five years' period has come to a virtual standstill.
Therefore, the Northern Region, which has all the deficiencies I have mentioned, is lacking capital for university development. I regard this as wrong and as an urgent priority for someone some- 1424 where to recast the university capital development programme to make sure that we get the capital development on the Newcastle site moving more quickly and to change the decision to shelve the foundation of the University of Teesside.
I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray), who strongly advocated this, is now on the Front Bench. I know that he cannot now speak, as a Minister, but I am sure he sympathises with what I am saying. The whole region needs this development. One might say, in passing, that if any region suffers more than any other from the decision to postpone the school-leaving age, it must be the very region where there is the maximum early leaving of young people at the present time. This is why I suggest—this may sound a revolutionary suggestion, but I gather there is one precedent in the history of education in this country—that L.E.A.s, on a voluntary basis, should raise the school-leaving age in advance of the postponed date in this one region as part of a crash programme and that the financial wherewithal should be made available to enable them to do it. I have received a considerable number of letters, since making this suggestion, from leading educationists running L.E.A.s in that region and they would be happy to take the initiative.
Concerning student support, the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), in Vienna two or three months ago, said that one of the principal reasons why so many working-class youngsters entered universities in this country was because we have the most generous system of student support of practically any of the Western capitalist countries. That is true. But it follows equally from that, that if we hold back increased student grant support to meet the rising cost of living, the people who will be most deterred from entering universities because of the costs of university education will be the working-class communities, and the regions which will suffer most will be those which have the lowest educational attainment at the present time.
I do not make this contribution by way of attack upon my own Government. I do not believe that any Governments in 1425 recent years have been sufficiently conscious of how different the North was from any other region in the country. Nobody has been prepared to argue that the North was different from any other development area. Industrially, the North is not peculiarly different from Scotland and Wales and it should and does have tae same kind of industrial priorities. Many Government Departments are giving priority to the North, but I doubt whether educationally we are giving the degree of priority to the North that will deal with the problem I have mentioned. We have a unique situation and a special problem there. I would like to see more education Ministers devoting more of their tine to visiting these Northern districts. I know that my right hon. Friend has been there recently.
§ Mr. Rhodes
I am talking now about the Northern Region, not the Yorkshire Region.
In the Northern Region we have a unique 'problem and it is high time that some urgent priority was given to it. I know that this is special pleading, but I suggest I have backed my special pleading with a mass of statistical evidence that shows there is nowhere in the country, including Wales and Scotland, which has quite got our problem. For this reason, those of us who represent northern constituencies, especially those within the North who have a special interest in education, regard some of the cuts which hive had to be made in the advancement of spending as particularly unfortunate for us.
Therefore, we shall go on pressing for the kind of priority that we need to break out of the education situation in which we have lived in the North for the last few generations.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)
I start by calling the attention of the House to the effect of the cuts on the primary sector of education, because there is no doubt that that sector will be affected.
Before we had the cuts there had already been inadequate action on Plowden. If, for instance, we look at the recom- 1426 mendations regarding the additional incentives to teachers in priority areas, we see that the proposals and the money allocated, even before these cuts, were inadequate.
I am not prepared to compromise on primary education. We cannot sidestep the making of priorities in education. The education service has swallowed vast quantities of this country's increased wealth over the last decade, or more. We cannot go on advancing over a broad front all the time.
My first priority is primary education. The money which was originally allocated to raising the school leaving age should have gone to primary education. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) is not here, because he admitted in the course of his speech that there had been neglect of primary education during the years in which the Conservative Party was responsible. By admitting that, he is saying that there was neglect in the primary sector of education at the time he announced the date for raising the school leaving age. I believe he was wrong to make that announcement. I accept that I have changed my mind on this. It is a great pity that more hon. Members in the House have not changed their minds, too. The primary sector of education is where class barriers are formed, and where attitudes to knowledge and learning and the full life are shaped, and as long as primary children are in classes of more than 30 I shall not view the raising of the school leaving age with any enthusiasm whatever.
What about the school leaving age? I have persistently warned that this postponement would take place. I do not believe it has taken place because of the cuts. It has taken place because it was impossible for this Government to raise it because of lack of preparation. The blame, too, has to be shared by the previous Government, because the programme of research of the Schools Council was not put into operation early enough to change the curriculum. We did not have the teachers; nor do I believe that the buildings would have been there. I have held, and still hold, that the raising of the school leaving age could only have been done if we had diverted resources from other sectors of 1427 education. There are no other sectors of education from which I wish to divert resources for that purpose.
The right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that this was a temporary measure. My purpose is to question the new date. £70 million have been removed from the school building programme between 1968 and 1970 as a result of the postponement of the school-leaving age. This figure would have permitted the construction of buildings to accommodate an extra 350,000 pupils. Do the Government intend to replace this sum of money in 1971–73? If they do, I must tell them that it will be totally inadequate. There will be 56,000 more pupils in 1973 than in 1971. The ordinary school building programme will also have to be increased to cope with the high birthrate after 1955. Even if the school leaving-age is raised, there will be 264,000 more pupils in secondary schools in 1974 than in 1972. Building costs will rise substantially, and in any case the previously allocated amount of £70 million was inadequate.
The total sum of money necessary for additional buildings in order to raise the school-leaving age by 1973 will be £200 million. Unless the Government put back some of the £70 million in 196970, they will have to spend £100 million extra in each of the two years for this purpose. I do not believe that the economy will stand that, and I do not believe that the building industry will stand it, either.
I turn, now, to local education authority expenditure. These authorities will have to increase their current expenditure to cope with this. I estimate that by 1973 the extra cost to them will be about £100 million per annum. How will it be found? It cannot come out of the rates. I believe that the Government must give an answer this evening to this problem. They must assure us that they have adequate plans for financing the school building programme, and also for reorganising the whole structure of local authority financing of education and the contribution local authorities make to it. The Government should immediately call a conference of local education authorities to discuss the implications of 1973.
1428 I have said several times, in the House and elsewhere, that a much better alternative to raising the school-leaving age is compulsory part-time education to the age of 18. I do not advocate this merely as a matter of saving money. I believe that it is educationally and socially better. The overwhelming view among those who leave school at 15 is that they are adults, and that school is for kids. In part-time further education of the kind that I am suggesting they could be treated as adults, and not as kids.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth referred to the Motion in my name and that of some of my hon. Friends. He said that the Crowther Report has gone into the comparative advantages of part-time education and raising the school-leaving age, but I remind him that a great deal of water has passed under the bridge since that Report. We have had the Newsom Report, which said that our school curriculum was totally wrong for these children. I believe that there is now a significant shift of opinion among many educational experts in this country towards the view that part-time education is a better alternative to raising the school-leaving age.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
For some time I have been trying to understand the Liberal Party's policy on this. Does the hon. Gentleman regard part-time education between whatever the school leaving age is and 18—say 15 to 18—as an alternative to industrial training? If not, how does he see it fitting in with the Industrial Training Act, which is going forward very quickly?
§ Mr. Pardoe
It would make it easier to bring in compulsory part-time education on a day-release basis up to the age of 18, because many industries are moving in this direction now. This is why I say that it would not be expensive. The Government should now plan for the contingency that they will fail to raise the school-leaving age by 1973, and they should take account of the implications of that failure should it come about.
The Government should encourage parents to keep their children at school on a voluntary basis. One way of doing this is to provide a financial incentive. I do not say that the financial barrier is the only one. but let us at least provide 1429 an answer for that. The Government should follow the suggestion of amalgamating tax allowances and family allowances to give poor parents the encouragement and the wherewithal for their children to stay on at school. They should pay these parents £3 a week within the social security system for every child staying on in full-time education after the present school-leaving age. It is impossible to divorce educational policy from social security policy, or taxation policy.
I propose, now, to say a few words about school meals and milk. The right hon. Gentleman put forward the idea that the only alternative to this policy was to raise the cost of school meals by 6d.
§ Mr. Pardoe
That is not the only alternative to that proposed by the Government. I am astonished that the Government think the only alternative to free milk is no milk at all. Why not charge a price for milk? Why not amalgamate the price of school meals and milk, and charge it to the parents on their Income Tax return forms? The right hon. Gentleman will find on his flies a detailed letter telling him how he can do this. It will not cost a great deal of money. In fact, it will save him a fortune. This 6d. on the price of milk is not the only alternative. What I have suggested would be simpler administratively, and we would derive far more money from it than by raising the charge for school meals in the way suggested by the Conservative Party.
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has handled the question of student grants with great tact, understanding, or even sympathy. The reason for this is that students are not a particularly popular section of the community. I think that they have made reasonable requests, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will state very soon when he intends to implement the recommendations of the advisory committee on student grants, and when he will accept the suggestion of the N.U.S. to restrain prices which directly affect students. This is manifestly important for them. Perhaps he will also concern himself with the suggestion that there should be a separate grant for lodgings, because these 1430 vary substantially and cause great difficulty for many students.
Last night at Cambridge I met a student in his third year. He told me that his college bill was precisely the same as it was when he went there two and a half years ago. At that time, every day of the week he had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now he misses breakfast and lunch, and has only four dinners a week. This gives some indication of the rise in the cost of living for students.
I think that there should be an inquiry into the cost effectiveness of teacher training. The cost of training teachers in 1965–66 was £64 million, and I suggest that we are not getting value for money. In 1965 there were 73,000 teachers under training, but there was a net gain of only just under 4,000 to the service. This is a little unfair, because some of this wastage is a result of retirement, but it works out that it is costing £16,000 to add one teacher to the service. This seems an expensive way of recruiting teachers.
We know that a large part of the wastage is accounted for by women who leave the service to get married. This is an inevitable fact of life, but 12 per cent. of the men entering training colleges fail to enter the profession. Nearly a third of the men who join the colleges are lost to the profession after seven years' service. Detailed work has been done by Professor Kelsall on the attitude of women to teaching, and the time has now come for a similar study on the attitude and wastage of men. What causes 12 per cent. of them to drop out before joining the profession and 4 per cent. each year thereafter? Are we getting the wrong people, and could our selection procedures be improved? What part do financial incentives play in this wastage? We should find the answers to these questions, because we are spending too much money with too little return from our teacher training.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth has undoubtedly had some problems with his own party in framing this Motion. I understand that one of them is a pamphlet published this week. I am sorry that I speak before the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) in this connection. His pamphlet, "Education—Equality and Inequality ", states what has been called 1431 a classic Conservative doctrine of education. In the pamphlet, he said that the Tories must be against selection—
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
What the pamphlet said, quite clearly, is that Conservatives must stick by the principle of selection at all costs.
§ Mr. Pardoe
What the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon says is true, and I apologise for my slip of the tongue. The pamphlet said:Conservatives ought to stand quite firmly for the principle of selection, however it is done and at whatever age.I do not hold with that. I believe that it is unfortunate that such a statement should come from the Conservative Party in the very same week that the publication "Where?" has come out against streaming in secondary schools. There is now considerable feeling among educational experts against streaming in both primary and secondary schools.
I hold no brief for the "élitist" concept of education. Indeed, we are against an élite or a meritocracy. A liberal society needs its high fliers, but the quality of life will depend far more on the quality of average men and their development. An American university professor produced some interesting research recently which showed that, the higher the intelligence, the greater the tendency to liberalism—
§ Mr. Pardoe
I again reiterate that we are against selection because we believe that it creates and preserves an elite, whether it is selection for a school or selection within a school. We shall, somewhat reluctantly, vote for this Motion, because we are, as I said, clearly opposed to the cuts which have been announced. I do not accept the priorities stated by the right hon. Member for Handsworth, but, nevertheless, we are opposed to the general policy of cutting investment in people.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has pin- 1432 pointed the difficulties of the party opposite in framing this Motion, because any one party which contains both the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) can have no coherent educational policy. Conservatives have shown us recently that they do not.
The right hon. Member for Hands-worth began with a survey of the years 1955–65, and I thought it refreshing that he admitted that he had neglected primary education. That sort of honesty from the Opposition Front Bench is very nice. But the real charge against the party opposite during those years was that, although they produced a certain amount of money for secondary education, because they had no policy and gave no direction about where or how the money was to be spent, it was spent in a large number of small, separate, unviable secondary schools which almost everyone would now agree would have been built in a way which makes it very difficult not only to go comprehensive but even to provide what the secondary school in the 1970s and 1980s should be and what education it should provide. It stems from exactly the same reason as this extraordinary Motion—that, fundamentally, the Conservatives never have had and never will have any agreed policy about education and any policy with which to direct the country.
Circular 6/68, on building programmes, was a sensible piece of realism injected into local authority programmes for the first time. I remember, as deputy chairman of an education committee, having the builders rush about on 31st March cutting out squares of turf on building sites just to prove that we had started building a school in one financial year instead of the next. However, it is occasionally necessary to "cut the cackle" about the enormous backlog of local authority building programmes which has built up, have a little realism and start from scratch. Then, one knows where one is. This is what is being done now: it would have had to be done some time. I agree with my right hon. Friend that, in terms of the actual numbers of buildings built, it will make little difference, but it will mean that programmes, when announced locally, have a little more realism.
1433 Second, I turn to the cut in the amount of the rate support grant which local authorities will be able to spend on the schools. What worries me—I would like some reassurance on this—is that the local education authorities will not cut back on their programmes in the proportions which the Government have advised. This, of course, all stems from the absurdly wrong and stupid action of the Conservative Government in 1958 in getting rid of percentage grants for education. When we had these grants, it was possible to safeguard both the capital and current expenditure of the education programme properly—
§ Mr. Price
It was a promise and it is one of which I shall keep reminding my party. It was a perfectly coherent decision. We have set up a Royal Commission on Local Government and it would be nonsensical, before it reports—which it should, very shortly—to make a fundamental decision like this. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows what my party has always said about fundamental decisions of this kind about local government. The party opposite spent 13 years letting local government go to pieces, doing nothing about its problems. My party has always said that, when the Royal Commission has reported, we can then consider doing something about this sort of problem: that will be the time to do it.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
My hon. Friend referred to 1958. The House will remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that time resigned because of the policy being followed by the then Government. A few weeks ago, in a statement in another place, he left us in no doubt that the policies being pursued at that time were the start of the economic situation in which we now find ourselves and for which we must make these cuts.
§ Mr. Price
I hardly need remind hon. Gentlemen opposite of the highly embarrassing speech which Lord Thorney- 1434 croft made in another place the other day. It had its own effect.
The Government have made certain recommendations about cuts in education and in the urban road programme. I ask my right hon. Friend to keep a close watch over the activities of local education authorities to ensure that the power of city and county treasurers does not result in cuts which should be made in the road programme impinging upon education.
Although it is some time since we lost the percentage grant for education, I accept that to reintroduce such policies takes a considerable time to work out. However, I suggest that the current expenditure of local authorities needs more supervision from Curzon Street than has been the case in the pas t, particularly at times when such supervision occurred through the percentage grant system. That is why I hope that, at the earliest opportunity following the report of the Royal Commission, the Government will introduce measures to bring in some form of percentage grant for education.
A cut which I heartily applaud—indeed, I wish that it had gone further —is that in the capitation grant for direct grant schools. I suggest that its time that we completely abolished this anachronistic, antedeluvian, out-dated system of private grant aided schools. It is silly in some respects to talk about lirect grant schools, because they are so different in character.
Some of them, notably the Catholic ones, are not like direct grant schools in that most of them take almost 100 per cent. free places. The Catholics are in the position of having grammar schools which are direct grant schools and secondary modern schools which are voluntary aided. Many of them are in the process of going comprehensive with this split system. They would probably welcome some help from the Government to enable them to readjust, so that all of their schools could come under the same system. There is no significant difference between these schools. since the grammar schools take virtually 100 per cent. free places and are subsidised out of the national Exchequer instead of out of the rates. This problem could be dealt with relatively easily.
1435 The other direct grant schools, however —and I regret that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) is not in his place, because this particularly applies in Scotland—are completely illogical. In Scotland, most of the direct grants schools—certainly the majority of those in Glasgow and Edinburgh—have no free places whatever. In other words, every pupil comes from the Edinburgh and Glasgow upper professional classes. They are subsidised quite heavily out of my constituents' taxes and those of everybody else. There is no justification in the present economic situation for this sort of thing to go on.
The other difference in Scotland is that not only do they have direct grant secondary schools, but direct grant primary schools as well; and from the age of five in Scotland there is a completely segregated system, the subsidised upper classes paying fees, to which are added a heavy subsidy from the taxpayer. Meanwhile, we have a very depressed State system which desperately needs more of the taxpayer's money injected in to it. The more money we inject into private education, the less money is available for the State system. This is Galbraithian in that the greater the private affluence the worse the public squalor. That is why I hope that my right hon. Friend will soon be in a position to announce the end of the direct grant system so that the taxpayer's money is injected only into the State system.
It will be up to the direct grant schools to decide whether or not to come into the State system. Many of them will do so and some have already indicated their willingness to join. In any case, they must decide on which side of the fence they wish to be, and if they wish to stay on the private side, they must charge fees which represent the true cost of educating their pupils.
§ Mr. Price
That is an interesting gloss on the phrase I used. I mean by the State system those schools which are financed in terms of their current expenditure wholly by local authorities, 1436 and that includes a large number of Roman Catholic schools.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that the direct grant schools make great play of being members of the Headmasters' Conference, which is the representative body only of the independent sector, and that many of them regard themselves as being completely outside the State system. In many respects they do not show a sense of responsibility to the cities in which they stand and which often played an important part in founding them, their original charters showing them to be schools for the poor boys of the parish. Instead, many of them now simply serve the rich boys of the area.
§ Mr. Price
I, too, have read the interesting summer school chat of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude), which has been glossed up by the Conservative Central Office—with a long and rather tedious Press release—into a pamphlet representing Conservative thinking in education. If that represents Conservative thinking on this subject, the party opposite had better give the matter some real thought.
It was wrong to delay the proposal to increase t he school leaving age. That decision cannot be lightly forgiven. We are really talking about a sum of £70 million, which would have been spent on allegedly raising the school-leaving age but which will not now be spent. It should be remembered that that money was not to be spent exclusively on secondary education. Some of it was to be spent on sixth form colleges, primary schools and infant schools. One cannot, in framing priorities for education, spend money on primal y education and not on secondary education. The two are inextricably linked to city and county school systems to such an extent that it is impossible to decide to boost primary instead of secondary education, or vice versa.
For example, the great moves towards secondary education of the late ’fifties and early ’sixties did more for primary education than the right hon. Member for Handsworth perhaps realises. Every time a new secondary school was built, the old school—probably a depressing building in appearance—was usually 1437 gutted and given a completely new interior. Often the result was a far better and more cost-effective primary school than we could possibly have got had we started from scratch. One can do other things for primary schools apart from providing new buildings but, in terms of buildings, one cannot separate education in this way.
I also completely disagree with what the hon. Member for Cornwall, North said about preparation for raising the leaving age. No educational reform has had as much preparation as this. I admit that certain teachers, certain teacher organisations, and hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), who is not present, mounted a campaign against this reform, but the argument was not that 1971 was not the right time to raise it but that it should not be raised at all. Many of their arguments could equally well have been used for lowering the school-leaving age to 11 or 10 years of age.
I agree with many of the arguments advanced against postponement, but what strikes me even more than the disparity between the North of England and the South of England is the very great disparity in Britain—and it is far more pronounced in the United States—between the inner ring of our big cities and the lush suburbs beyond.
I was brutally reminded of this recently when I went to Detroit and to Newark, New Jersey. The scarred ruins, the looted shops and the boarded-up premises reminded me very poignantly of the sort of situation that could be reached here in 10 or 15 years' time if something is not done about this terrible gap between the inner rings of our cities and the suburbs outside them. Local government reorganisation will do a great deal, but this gap, in terms of raising the school-leaving age, is far more marked than any difference between North and South.
In Sheffield, where for some time I had some responsibility for education, we had some areas in which not more than 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. of the children ever went to grammar school, and not more than 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. of the residue ever stayed on beyond the compulsory age. In other areas of the city, virtually 80 per cent. or 85 per cent. of all children stayed on beyond the age. If 1438 we allow these two situations to exist, not so much, say, as between Maidstone and Newcastle, but within a mile or two of each other in one community—and we are still some way from it—the ultimate and inevitable effect will be utter social disruption.
In a city like Birmingham, this problem is aggravated by the immigrant situation, where the immigrants are just a facet of the social position. If a school is not only socially deprived but almost 100 per cent. coloured into the bargain my mind boggles at what we shall be storing up for ourselves in the next two generations by just ignoring the position—and total postponement of the raising of the school-leaving age is ignoring it.
I am glad that the postponement is only for two years. I was very pleased when my right hon. Friend said, as I think he did last week—Education got it all wrong —that the pledge to raise the age in 1973 is absolute. I am pleased that we have had that pledge, but in case there are second thoughts I would remind my right hon. Friend that we will remind him of it over the next few years.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
the whole House will greatly have enjoyed the plea of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price) for consistency in political party policies on education. Since he presumably intends to vote for a major decision which is described as unforgiveable, and which 41 Members of his party have stigmatised on the Order Paper as a betrayal of Labour election pledges, since he is clearly violently at odds with his own party about the percentage grant for education, and since he has delivered a violent ideological attack on the direct grant schools which almost every member of his party who opens his mouth about independent schools has decided are the right model for those schools, the hon. Gentleman can hardly be taken as a model of consistency.
Nevertheless, there is, perhaps, a greater measure of consistency in Labour Party education policy than he has been prepared to admit. It has generally been the same: to offer the earth in opposition, to promise a crash programme of rapid improvement during election campaigns, 1439 and then to cut the rate of growth when they get into office.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State is now leaving us, but despite that I propose to say a word or two about the deplorable and shabby speech he has made this afternoon. How the right hon. Gentleman can have the cool nerve to come here, after the performance he has put up since taking the office, and the performance he has put up today—a defeated man without even the strength of mind left to fight for what he believes in or to resign if he loses—and talk about the shabby record in education of the Conservative Government, passes my comprehension.
It is manifestly available to anyone who studies the statistics that there has been complete consistency in Labour Government policy since 1964. They have cut the rate of educational expansion and building, and have done so from the moment they came into office. In real terms, the rate of completions in school building fell in the first and second years of Labour Government compared with the last year of the Conservative Government. The rate of expansion in education has slowed down since a Labour Government came into office. Moreover, they have picked out the meanest little cuts they could find. That, perhaps, is the most deplorable thing about the Secretary of State's performance —and, indeed, about that of the Prime Minister and the Government as a whole.
This series of cuts has been carefully designed for two purposes. The first is to disguise the cut in education, where possible, and then to shift the political brain. Secondly, it could hardly have been better designed to fall most hardly on those who will feel it worst. After all, freezing the rate support grant—who will it hurt most—the poor backward local authorities, or the rich ones with high rateable value? The decision not to let student grant keep up with the increased cost of living—who will this hurt worst; the well-off students with wealthy parents or the children of poor parents who are living exclusively on grants? How the Secretary of State can talk to us about the shabby record of the Conservative Government, under which there was a rate of expansion and improvement in educational provision 1440 unequalled in any comparable period in our history, passes my comprehension.
Speaking of the direct-grant schools, the right hon. Gentleman said, with a Uriah Heap expression on his face, that it was perfectly all right for those who were lucky enough to be able to pay for their children's education to have the subsidy cut. Who is really lucky in this instance? The lucky ones are, of course, the 25 per cent., or 50 per cent., of direct-grant school children who are getting their education provided free by the local authority with the aid of the direct grant.
It is the Secretary of State who is lucky to have parents who are prepared to pay fees so as to subsidise children who otherwise would be flooding out the secondary schools in the maintained sector. It is time that the Secretary of State realised who are the benefactors of education in this country. He will go down in history as the man with the shabbiest record of any Minister or Secretary of State for Education in my lifetime.
It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman cannot be a little more honest about future prospects, too. There was never a word about what are to be the effects of the decision to freeze the increase in education expenditure to a level of 3 per cent. or 3½ per cent. after 1968–69. Anyone can calculate that, with even a minimum improvement factor, the number of children who have to be accommodated and the number of students who have to be accommodated in further and higher education, that the increase in the cost of education will run at about 6 per cent. per annum. The Secretary of State, on the orders of the Prime Minister, proposes to freeze the increase in provision at 3 or 3½ per cent. per annum.
What will be the result? Did the Secretary of State tell us honestly that it will mean provision spread more thinly over a wider field, or else that we are to have at last to decide an order of priorities and cut something savagely? No, not a word of it. He was too busy talking about the shabby record of Tory Governments, but this is what is to happen without the slightest doubt. If that decision is adhered to, we shall have a steadily depreciating maintained system of education and probably of the system of higher and further education as well.
1441 If the right hon. Gentleman spreads these resources thinner over wider needs the result will inevitably be what I have suggested, This will fall on the poorer authorities, on the poorer students, on the poorer universities. These are the ones which will suffer most. I cannot help wondering whether the Secretary of State would have been quite so keen to accept the particularly shabby solution which the Government have found if nearly all the local education authorities in the country did not happen to be Conservative-controlled. We know perfectly well what is to happen. As a result of the freezing of the rate support grant, and as a result incidentally of the cut in the capitation fee to direct-grant schools, local education authorities will either cut their provision and the number of places in direct-grant schools, or have to raise the rates.
When the complaints begin to go up from the people who are affected, what will the Secretary of State say? He will either say nothing at all, or he will say, "You should refer yourself to your local education authority, which, of course, is Conservative-controlled." I advise every local education authority in the country to start its campaign now to pin the responsibility for this shabby series of cuts where it belongs, on the Secretary of State for Education, on the Prime Minister and on members of the party which, despite their belief that this is a betrayal of all the election promises of their party, are prepared to vote for this series of cuts in the Division.
They cannot shuffle off the responsibility for this betrayal and try to pretend that it is the responsibility of another party or another set of people. It is not. The Secretary of State for Education cannot even honour the undertakings of his predecessor—
§ Mr. Maude
—who undertook, for example, that he would keep the capitation grant for direct grant schools steady until the Newsom Committee had reported. He refuses to raise them because they must be left unchanged until the Newsom Committee has reported. It is a strange kind of leaving unchanged which enables the Secretary of State to announce that the grant will be cut within a few weeks of the original decision.
1442 I do not think that during all the years I have been interested in education and taken part in education debates in this House I have ever heard a Minister make a worse case with a more hang-dog air and make a more miserable job of trying to justify it.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)
Until four months ago I was not a member of this House, but head teacher of a secondary modern school in the City of Manchester. I had devoted most of my teaching career to the less able and socially deprived children and most of the remainder to the boys who had stayed on for a fifth year even though they had failed to pass the 11-plus examination and not gone on to grammar school. I had been appointed as a head teacher shortly after the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) announced the decision to raise the school-leaving age in 1971.
I realised that there was need for thought and work and experiment to make that a success, but there was no reason why it should not have been a success from the teachers' point of view. We had seven years' notice, and teachers who say that we would not have been ready were not trying to get ready. I initiated a number of teaching schemes. The staff of my school responded with great enthusiasm. So did the local education authority which was then Labour-controlled. It allocated grants, not only to my school but to a number of schools in the city, to enable them to carry out experimental work. This was extended, with the assistance of the university in Manchester and the local authorities in the area, until the North-West Curricula Development Group was set up.
I believe that we in the North-West, at any rate, would have ben ready both with the buildings and the curriculum by 1970. Five months ago I told the parents of my first-year pupils that their sons would be staying at school until they were 16. That was a very proud moment for me because I had worked for this not only in schools but in speaking to teachers' organisations and in other ways. I admit that some of my words fell on stony ground but I felt that this was a necessary action, that it was socially and educationally desirable and would benefit 1443 the young people and the country as a whole.
It was therefore with a very heavy heart that on 18th January I went into the Division Lobby in support of a Government who were postponing the raising of the school leaving age and against an Opposition who said they would not have postponed it. Some told me that 1 should have abstained, but I could not do that. I had just fought an election campaign in which I had urged Labour supporters not to abstain because of disagreement with this or that aspect of Government policy but to consider the Government's achievements, to consider their difficulties and also to look at the alternative. Considering the alternative helped me to go through that Lobby on 18th January. Although hon. Members of the Opposition say that they would not postpone raising the school leaving age in those circumstances, I did not believe them. I have great respect for the right hon. Member for Hands-worth. I have heard him in the House and in many other places. However, he does not have a united party behind him on education. He does not have a united party here. Even less does he have a united party in the country for the ideas which he advances.
The failure of the Opposition's Amendment to the package deal on 17th January to mention education was significant, because then the other part of the Opposition was in the Chamber throughout the day. The calls then were, not for education and social service, but for guns before schools. Although right hon. Members here tonight may mean what they say, I take leave not to believe that a Conservative Government would not have made these, and even more severe, cuts in education in these financial circumstances.
The same applies to the precision of the Motion today. There is no mention of the raising of the leaving age or of any other matter, because the support of the Conservative Party cannot be assured for those points. The Conservative Government's whole record and their decisions at times of crisis is against it. The only previous election I fought before the one which brought me here was in 1955. My opponent then was a lady called Florence Horsbrugh. Right hon. 1444 Members opposite do well to look pale. I notice that according to the opening speech today Conservative educational history began in 1955.
I do not want to look back altogether to those days. There were some achievements and there was some growth under the Conservative Government. The last meeting I attended as a head teacher was called in the City of Manchester by the Chief Education Officer in September to consider the problems caused by the City Council's decision to cut education spending in the last five months of the financial year. This was before devaluation, before the package deal and before the postponement of the raising of the leaving age was announced. Some of the things which were cut were the cleaning of schools and the heating of schools. Manchester schools, which are heated by coke boilers, are very cold on Monday mornings. I was interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman express the hope that there would be a mild winter.
Teachers' courses have been cut. Even if the raising of the leaving age is considered as a curriculum problem, it is not so much a problem of training new teachers as of training experienced teachers to think in new ways and to act in new ways. These are the types of courses which were cut in Manchester before the announcement of the postponement. The grants which had been made available for experiment—they were called Newsom projects—were completely washed out. These were forming the basis of our experimental work towards the raising of the leaving age.
I do not want to labour this, because I realise how hard pressed chairmen of some education committees—I include Manchester in this—are, in that they have Conservative-controlled—councils. I realise the difficult position in which the right hon. Member for Handsworth is placed by the fact that he is not fully supported by his colleagues in the House. I believe that the leaders of both major parties and all hon. Members should urge their local councillors to exercise restraint in their enthusiasm for cutting.
The main theme of my speech is that we must ensure that the two-year delay is used to the best advantage. We have heard this evening that the cuts were dictated by the Treasury and that it would 1445 have been impossible for the leaving age to have been raised at the stated date even if there had not been an economic crisis. I do not believe this. I accept my right hon. Friend's word that the leaving age will be raised in 1973.
During that period we have certain jobs to do. One is the training of teachers. In-service courses are necessary for the numbers of teachers who will be coming out of the colleges. Because the school leaving age is not being raised until 1973, they will he available to release teachers for further study. We must extend the links between universities, colleges of education and schools. They still have some fear of each other.
We must extend and develop the experimental work which has been going on. This is a job for the Government and for local education authorities. The raising of the leaving age should be taken in two steps. I have always believed that the way in which it was proposed to be done was wrong and that in the fifth year boys and girls would have been leaving at Easter. That would not have been a solution to many of the problems which exist. I believe that the establishment first, in 1969 or 1970, of a single leaving date will be a valuable contribution. Immediately after the announcement of the package deal I tabled a Motion to this effect, which so far has gained 60 supporters. I was glad to learn today that hon. Members opposite are also viewing this idea with favour, and I hope that they will support it. Indeed, one might have hoped that they would have supported it before. Perhaps the afternoon editions of the papers has helped them along.
The full fourth year will not be expensive. Both sides of the House should view this with favour. Teachers to whom I have spoken support the idea, although I must admit that many teachers to whom I have spoken are quite happy about the postponement of the leaving age.
If my proposal were adopted, school organisation and careers guidance work would be easier. There is a feeling now that youth employment officers will be running round in small circles in June trying to find jobs for all the leavers. Nowadays the work of youth employment and careers guidance officers is more than this. It is work spread over 1446 a period in the schools which do it well on a careers programme basis. The better employers would approve of the full four-year course. I know that some would like to get young employees earlier, but most would welcome the single-year entry to fit in with their apprenticeship schemes, and the transition to industrial training and full time courses in technical colleges and further education would be much more convenient. I hope that my right hon. Friend will let us know what progress there is on the question of the school-leaving age and the single school leaving date.
Our education system is closely tied to our social system, and our education opportunities are tied closely to the social and economic background of the children's parents. It is unlikely that the child of a Member of Parliament, a teacher, a businessman or a member of one of the professions will leave school at 15 as a result of this Government decision. Those of us who realise the value of additional education, whether our children are 11-plus successes or not, keep them on at school until they are 16 and even later. Therefore, we have a particular responsibility to the other children. To many children, staying on at school is an economic problem for their parents, and I hope that the Government will extend maintenance grants and issue the same kind of information about them as they have for school meals. This would be of benefit.
There is also what I might call a productivity factor—school attendance. Not enough attention is paid to the fact that many children do not attend school regularly, and do not have a 10-year course but sometimes have a seven year course. No national statistics are collected on the question of attendance. I believe that much delinquency and many of our education problems result from failure to check on absence from school early enough, and from the insufficiency of welfare officers and other people to examine the causes of absence.
In an experiment in Manchester last year, a welfare officer was put full-time with a secondary school which had a poor attendance record. As a result, over a four-month period the attendance at that school jumped by 13 per cent. which is as good as raising the school-leaving age for a number of children, and 1447 delinquency dropped from 15 in the comparable period to nil.
I hope that in her reply to the debate my right hon. Friend will give notice to the local education authorities of the need for courses, will express her views on the single school leaving date, will consider circulating information to parents on maintenance and clothing grants, and will consider the importance of school attendance.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
Throughout the debates on devaluation the Government insisted that it had been meticulously planned, that the whole operation and its consequences were being carried through according to a blueprint of advanced thinking. Against that background, it was reassuring in those debates to hear repeated assurances that the school building programme would be safeguarded.
The Prime Minister told us:… the school building programme, … will continue to expand …" — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1967; Vol. 754, c. 1341.]On television, he told the nation:… school building will be safeguarded …Those declarations hardly suggested that cuts in the programme were being planned, and that the raising of the school-leaving age was about to be postponed. I suppose that we must accept this as another example of the frank speaking which has puzzled the nation so often.
I want to deal with three points: first, the proposed cut in the student grant; second, the cut in the quinquennial review for the Scottish universities; and, third, the postponement of the raising of the school-leaving age. Many hon. Members would agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), who called attention to the responsible way in which the student unions have handled the grant problem. They are not asking that they should be singled out for exclusion from all effects of the economic squeeze, but they fail, as I do, to understand by what process of logic the Secretary of State can declare now that half the increase to be recommended by the Advisory Panel will be denied to students.
1448 That statement was made in the House before the evidence to the panel was known and before the recommendations were announced. Whatever the evidence and whatever the recommendations, only half the increase will be allowed to the students. Further, there is no evidence of any selectivity in the way in which this half increase will be provided.
I am sure that the right hon. Lady will agree that there are pressing cases of need among students—those from poorer homes and those in particular categories who have extraordinary expenses, such as senior medical students and students of subjects like architecture, fine arts and geography, whose costs for equipment and books far exceed the standard £35 allowance.
I do not think that the House yet realises the shock which the University Grants Committee's review has provided for nearly all the Scottish universities, old and new alike. If the review is implemented as set out by the Committee, the effect on many of the universities will be to reduce the teaching staff and cut down the number of students which they can take. The impact is particularly severe on the newer technological universities of Strathclyde and Herriot-Watt, where the cuts may be quite substantial.
In the case of Herriot-Watt, for example, I understand that the Committee based its review on 1,200 students, whereas the present number of students at the university is 1,500 and the university is ready to go up to 2,000, with all the places being filled. The impact of the review, therefore, would be to cut back universities at the heart of the technological advance in education which the Prime Minister used to speak about with such enthusiasm.
I hope that the Government will look at the way in which the finances of the universities are administered and will consider whether the University Grants Committee is still the proper structure for the Scottish universities—whether, in its present form, it is the best means of establishing the needs of the universities and meeting them.
The postponement of the higher school-leaving age springs directly from the Government's mismanagement of the economy but in Scotland there is another factor. There we have suffered from 1449 mismanagement of education itself, a lack of planning and preparation which had already, before devaluation, put the raising of the school-leaving age in jeopardy. The Secretary of State for Scotland must have welcomed the decision forced on the Government by their economic bungling, since, for the present, that decision has got him off the hook.
Despite the rapid approach of 1970, the Government's preparations to meet the education challenge and the opportunities of 1971 were totally inadequate. Their school building record in Scotland was shameful. We have catalogued their failures in other debates but I will indicate their extent by pointing out that, in 1966, the number of new school places approved in Scotland was the lowest for 15 years.
Last year, the Government took belated action and allocations for the following three years were substantially increased. We were told, in an education debate in the Scottish Grand Committee last July, by the Under-Secretary of State:The local education authorities have now been given substantial allocations, and there is no disposition on our part to hold them up with the implementation of plans for meeting the raising of the school leaving age. In fact, our task, as my right hon. Friend has said, is to encourage them to get on with the job as quickly as they possibly can."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 4th July, 1967; c. 152.]Six months later, after half a year of purposive planning, local authorities were sent the notorious Circular 6/67, requiring them to reduce their school-building programmes by £6 million over two years in what was euphemistically described as "rephasing ".
This, of course, was flying in the face of all the assurances given to the House and the Scottish Grand Committee time and again a few months ago. So the Secretary of State for Scotland marched his troops to the top of the hill in July and marched them down again in January. Yet he chooses to remain in office imposing cuts on the local authorities which he has confused and disenchanted in this shameful way.
Even more serious than the school building failure is the shortage of teachers. By 1971, we would have had a shortage of 6,500 had the school-leaving age gone up that year, and more than 9,000 if the classes were to be reduced 1450 to a tolerable size. Yet the Government took totally inadequate action to try and ease the shortage.
The months passed; the Government tinkered, presumably hoping that something would turn up. Something did turn up—the Government's decision to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age. But that decision will not remove the shortage confronting Scotland, which will still be about 2,000 teachers short in 1971. By 1973, with the increase in the school population, the shortage will be even more desperate unless urgent action is taken.
What will the Government's action be? Their decision to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age has had the effect in Scotland of buying the Secretary of State two years' extra time in which to prepare for this great challenge. How will this time be used? What new action is proposed to bridge the gap between the need for and the supply of teachers? If there is no new action and there are no new initiatives, the educational system will not be ready to meet the challenge even in 1973. If the shortage of teachers is not overcome or eased, the purpose of this great educational opportunity will fail and if it fails the children will suffer and respect for education itself will be eroded.
I hesitate to ask for an assurance, because an assurance from the present Government about a course of action is a near guarantee that the reverse course will be taken in the end. However, will the Secretary of State at least accept that nothing damages education more than indecision and violent fluctuations in policy? Will he also convey to the Secretary of State for Scotland the need for a clear and early statement of the steps which are now to be taken to meet the challenge of 1973?
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Test)
It was inevitable that the Opposition should use this debate to launch a full-scale attack on the Government's education policy. I am very glad that they have done so. If they had had the courage of their convictions and had moved a Motion condemning the Government for delaying the raising of the school-leaving age, I would have found myself in some difficulty this evening, but, 1451 as it is, I shall have no difficulty going into the Lobby against the Motion, because, however much I may disagree with some of the things which the Government have done, the Labour Government's record in every aspect of education is infinitely better than that of their predecessor, whether it is teacher supply, or the school building programme, or any other aspect.
One of the accusations levelled against us has been that we have neglected primary school building. That was the main criticism of the whole period of Conservative rule when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were far more concerned with the universities and with higher education than with the primary schools. Over that period it was also the line taken by the Liberal Party, in spite of what the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) said tonight.
How many hon. Members can remember the names of the succession of Conservative Ministers of Education since 1951? Some of them were not even in the Cabinet. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite thought so much of the importance of education that they did not put their Ministers of Education in the Cabinet. I can remember one bright moment as a teacher when, in the middle 1950s, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was made Minister of Education and for a few weeks or months we in the schools were genuinely impressed. We thought that we had a Minister who would do a good job for education.
However, after about nine months the powers that be suddenly decided that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be far more use as Chairman of the Conservative Party. Presumably they thought that the education of the Conservative Party was more important than educating children. At the last Conservative Party conference democracy went mad and there was a vote, the first time in history that there has been a vote at the Conservative Party conference. Since then, something interesting has happened in the House.
The hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has suddenly appeared on the Conservative Front Bench as an education 1452 spokesman. I think that he would accept that he is not reckoned to be the most progressive member of that party.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Since the hon. Member has made rather a point about the number of Conservative Education Ministers, would he care to reflect that tinder the present Administration we have had three in three years, which, I think, gives an average of one a year?
§ Mr. Mitchell
I take the point, but it does not destroy the argument. When the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) took charge it was at that stage that the party opposite really began to take an interest in education.
I very much regret the decision to postpone school-leaving age. May I ask the Government to put back into the 1970–71 programme the major part of the R.S.L.A. allocations? It is very important that the education profession should be absolutely certain that this will not be postponed again. This atmosphere must be created now. Secondly, I would like to see a more definite policy emerge about educational priority areas.
We are still rather doubtful about how the £16 million will be spent. I very much hope that at least a start will be made on the nursery provisions recommended by Plowden, even if it means in the first instance an element of fee-paying. I would rather have that than nothing at all.
Thirdly, there is the question of student grants. I do not mind the decision to reduce by 50 per cent. the increase in these grants. It is fair that, in the economic difficulties, students should make their sacrifices just as other workers have. However, I hope that we do not penalise anyone and put them to considerable hardship as a result of this step. I would not mind if there is no increase at all for some people provided that those in real need receive something I would hope that special attention will be paid to mature students with a family These are the people who suffer most.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington) rose—
§ Mr. Mitchell
I am sorry, but I have promised to finish my speech at ten minutes to nine to allow someone else the opportunity to speak. 1453 I am a little worried about what will happen in some local authorities. Some are looking upon the Government circular, asking for restrictions in spending, with a great deal of glee. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to make all sorts of cuts and keep down the rates. Incidentally, many of these are Conservative-controlled authorities. I hope that the Secretary of State will look very carefully at this, and do his best to ensure that education authorities do not make bigger cuts than is absolutely necessary.
I regret very much the decision to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age. The Motion is a general condemnation of this Government's educational policy, but I am proud of the educational policy of this Government in comparison with previous Conservative Governments, although I may disagree with certain things which have been done recently.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)
Last Friday evening in Cambridge the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs said that devaluation would be a stick of dynamite which had blown open the prison gates in which the British economy had been incarcerated in recent years. Here we have another addition to the vocabulary of illusion. Devaluation indeed is going to prove dynamite for educationists, and dynamite at the end of a delayed-action fuse, because the full consequences are only now becoming clear for local authorities and others.
May I ask for reassurance on two points stressed by some earlier speakers about secondary reorganisation. I am not very hopeful of getting them, but I ask the right hon. Lady to do what she can. I am not one of those against comprehensive schools on principle. Comprehensives have a very important place—indeed, a growing place—in our future educational system, but let them take it through evolution and not through compulsion. Given the immense care which local education authorities have been taking in the last two years or so to work out viable schemes, and given the obvious effect of these cuts, I hope the Secretary of State is not going to be tempted to step up his pressure for faster secondary reorganisation, but rather to relax it. In my view, compre- 1454 hensives should be still lower in the order of priorities in the education field than they have been hitherto. Here the Government have a real opportunity to show educational statesmanship over the next few years.
On direct grant schools I hope the right hon. Lady will confirm that there is no intention of treating the direct grant schools with deliberate harshness, as might appear to be the case from the disproportionately large cuts they have to suffer in the grant. We are all aware of the problem of associating the public schools more closely with the mainstream of education—that is, the State system—and many of us feel that the direct grant principle is an important key to solving this problem; so it would be doubly unfortunate, when the Newsom Commission is approaching the end of its work, if the direct grant schools were singled out for unfair treatment.
May I stress two areas where I hope we can continue to make progress even in the climate of general financial stringency. The first is the school's curriculum. The deferment of the raising of the school leaving age gives us more time to make sure that the extra year, when it comes, will be worth while. The Dainton Committee is about to report. I would like to plead the needs of industry and the importance of developing more links between industry and the schools, particularly with teachers. We know that a lot of work has been done already, and I hope that it may be extended.
The second area where I believe we can make progress without enormous expense is in the priority areas. I have in mind especially the education of immigrant children. This is no problem in Cambridge so far, but I am familiar with parts of London where it is a problem. I wish some of my hon. and right hon. Friends would put less emphasis on curtailing immigration and more emphasis on tackling the problems which arise from the immigrants who are already here. These problems are interconnected, and obviously it may be necessary to restrict immigration further; but, even though we stop immigration completely tomorrow, we shall have to face the job of integrating in the education system the children of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are already here. I pay 1455 tribute to the patience and understanding with which so many administrators and teachers are trying to tackle this problem.
Finally, I should like to say a few words about the universities. This is the latest of a succession of disappointments resulting from financial restraints. The universities' prospects for the next few years were already extremely tight before these cuts. Now they have to cope with the effects of devaluation, not only on the building programme, from which some universities, although not all, will suffer, but in facing the further increases in costs such as on equipment and on books bought from abroad. Obviously there is a very difficult period of adjustment ahead for the universities.
I endorse strongly two comments made in the 1966–67 Report of the University Grants Committee. The first is that more emphasis should be placed on undergraduate work rather than post-graduate work. As the Report puts it,There is uneasiness that the rise in the proportion of graduates who stay in the universities for post-graduate studies, rather than moving into teaching or the outside world, is greater than the country can afford at present.The second comment, which I applaud is for greater collaboration with industry. The Report says:There is no doubt that it would be valuable if the universities collectively made a further deliberate and determined effort to gear a larger part of their ' output' to the economic and industrial needs of the nation, for few things could be more vital to the national economy at the present time than the proper deployment of highly qualified scientific manpower and the application of research to the solution of current technological and economic problems.This is one of several sad occasions in the House since the devaluation decision soon after I became a Member of it. If I may recall a metaphor used at devaluation time by the Prime Minister, he said that he hoped that the country would have the chance of breaking out of a straitjacket. What has happened is that the Government have imposed an even tighter straitjacket on the education service. This is a serious setback to the whole momentum of educational advance, and I do not think that anyone, on either side of the House, will be satisfied until a higher rate of progress can be resumed.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
The melancholy fact is that, as a result 1456 of a large number of hours' debate, the Secretary of State has no friends at all in the House. Not one speaker has come to his aid, except one one point. One member of the Conservative Party agreed with him about the school-leaving age. One member of the Liberal Party agreed with him about the school-leaving age. As I understood the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan), although I found it difficult to follow his speech, one member of the Labour Party agreed with him about the school-leaving age. Apart from that, no speech has been in favour of the Secretary of State. This is a matter of fact.
Two hon. Members who condemned him much more roundly than I propose to do—the hon. Members for Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) and Epping (Mr. Newens), who has on the Order Paper a far more savage denunciation of the Government's cuts than we have—have sought to comfort themselves with the argument that this is a debate about the Government's general policy on education.
However, it is nothing of the kind. They sought to comfort themselves with the reflection that, if it were a debate condemning the postponement of the raising of the age for full-time compulsory education, they would either have abstained and thus been disciplined, or perhaps even voted in our Lobby; but that, as it was a general condemnation of Labour Party policy on education, they could not. However, that is not what the Motion says, and it is right to recall it to the memory of the House.
It says:That this House regrets that the education service should have been subjected to cuts ….It has been subjected to cuts, and the whole of the Motion relates to the cuts to which it has been subjected.
It says that it… regrets that the education service should have been subjected to cuts which are educationally damaging ….We have not heard a single speech which has not regretted that the cuts are educationally damaging, and that regret was shared by the right hon. Gentleman.
It regrets that the cuts should have been based on a false sense of priority. With three exceptions, one from the Conservative benches, one from the 1457 Liberal benches, and one from the back benches opposite, we have not heard a single speaker, except the right hon. Gentleman, who has not condemned them for springing from wrong priorities.
The third ground of criticism is that they are disproportionate to the cuts as a whole. Again, with the solitary exception of the right hon. Gentleman, who tried to "fudge" the argument by a reference to percentages which I shall explore presently, not a single speaker pretended that the educational cuts have borne a due proportion to the whole of the cuts to which public spending has been subjected.
The only excuse, tentatively and rather shamefacedly put forward by the hon. Members for Epping and Southampton, Test, has been that they regard the Motion as a general attack on Labour Party educational policy, which is a view which bears no relation to the terms of the Motion.
As it is St. Valentine's Day, I pause in the explosion of raspberries which I propose to blow across the Floor of the House to say how pleasant it is to be sitting once more opposite the right hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon). She and I have a tolerable working relationship in home affairs. It is a pleasant surprise to find that we are now moving ahead to the next logical phase, which is to discuss the education of children.
How I wish that I could think of something nice to say about the Secretary of State. I came into the House with the best of intentions and with a genuine sense of sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman. I knew that he had been through a great deal in past weeks, as he had in past years. I thought that I really must take hold of myself and think of something nice to say about him. It is not an easy task to be at the head of his Department. One is at the head of a body of enthusiasts to whom one has to preach the unwelcome gospel that, as important as education is, there are other factors in public policy as well. And they do not like to hear it.
They are highly articulate and very well organised into bodies of teachers and of local education authorities, with a very well publicised Press and a very powerful lobby, and the task of a Secretary of 1458 State is not an easy one, even when there is no financial crisis abroad.
We all know that, when there is a financial crisis abroad, each colleague around the Cabinet table is asked to make his contribution. There is a hideous conflict between loyalty to the Department and loyalty to the other members of the Cabinet, and they are perfectly genuine, real loyalties which have to be reconciled.
I came into the House with sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman, even though I had won my battles and he has lost his. But I am bound to say that my sympathy evaporated with the last words of his speech when he began to attack my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for hypocrisy in prosposing this Motion. He said that it was a hypocritical Motion. It is our Motion and I am with him in it, but my right hon. Friend drafted it. After 30 years' experience in Parliament, I must say that there is no hon, or right hon. Member in the House whose knowledge of education is deeper than that of my right hon. Friend, whose reputation in the world of education stands higher than that of my right hon. Friend, and whose every word reflects his sincerity more patently than that of my right hon. Friend.
Yet the right hon. Gentleman comes to this House with this shoddy attack upon him.
§ Mr. Hogg
The right hon. Gentleman, the most calamitous Secretary of State this century, whose first act is described by the courts as utterly unreasonable and is trounced in another place by the Chairman of the British Museum Trustees, in each case for a basic want of integrity on his part, now, limping from a resounding defeat at the hands of his colleagues, from which education will suffer for another 15 years to come, comes here and accuses us of hypocrisy. The right hon. Gentleman excelled himself in the figures which he brought to the House, because any lingering sentiment of respect, let alone sympathy, that I might have had for him, totally disappeared when I heard that extraordinary perversion of the truth.
The only thing I will say to the right hon. Gentleman about his use of those figures is that he was repeating his 1459 master's voice, because they were, in a slightly different form, an elaboration of the absurd boast made by the Prime Minister in paragraph 31 of the statement which has now become a White Paper:Total expenditure is estimated this year at £1,989 million, an increase … of 42 per cent. since 1963–64.By way of elaborating this extraordinary piece of self-deception the right hon. Gentleman quoted, subject by subject—and he read them as he might well read figures, the use of which he must be ashamed, too quickly for me to get them down in detail—comparisons between 1963–64 and the current year.
The right hon. Gentleman even went so far as to claim to the credit of the Labour Government the new entry into primary schools. If he had even studied the facts of life—which apparently have escaped him—he would have known that the parents had a modest but indispensable part to play in the number of school entrants at 5, and that whichever Government had been in power, unless, like King Herod the Great, they had been guilty of the massacre of the innocents, they would have had precisely the same number of entrants into the primary schools this year. Incidentally, they were all conceived under a Conservative Administration.
There is a more serious side to the right hon. Gentleman's use of this figure, and the use which his right hon. Friend made of it, because in any honest use of a comparison of this kind one must take account of the fact that the figures in any respect, for any policy in any one year, must bear a relationship to the projection of policies and plans from the previous year. One would think that the right hon. Gentleman, even if he started by knowing nothing about education, which he did, would at least have known that some account must be taken of the figure of school attendances, of the school population.
The fact is—and the right hon. Gentleman knew it as he uttered these words to the House—that every part of that increase, and more—because they have gone back and not forward—was due to the projection of Conservative policies, and he knows that the school population in the years 1960 to 1965 increased by 1460 about 100,000, and from 1965 to 1970 will increase by about 800,000.
The truth is that we know that the only rule to adopt when handling a statement by the Prime Minister is not to accept a word of what he says unless he is corroborated by at least one independent witness. When the right hon. Gentleman uses figures in that sense from the Dispatch Box, I tell him that he defiles himself by deliberately misleading the House.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The right hon. and learned Gentleman's abuse does not worry me. To what figure is he referring? He has not mentioned one figure, though he is attacking the figures which I gave
§ Mr. Hogg
I thought I made it plain. I mentioned a series of figures which the right hon. Gentleman produced. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I shall withdraw nothing. I shall repeat it if necessary. I am drawing attention to the use which the right hon. Gentleman made of the figures showing what he called the sorry record of the Conservative Party for the year 1963–64, and compared it with this year.
Now I proceed to the points in the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman must not be childish. The first point in the Motion which the right hon. Lady will have to answer is that these cuts are disproportionate to the whole of the cuts to which we have been subjected on the domestic front. That appears from the appendix to the Prime Minister's statement. if one takes, for instance, the year 1968–69, apart from the figure of £80 million investment grant, which has been stigmatised as bogus by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), for reasons which he gave in another debate, the largest figure is the educational cut of just short of £40 million—£39 million—out of £325 million.
These are the stark arithmetical facts, and the right hon. Gentleman tried to fudge it with percentages. If one looks at the figures for next year, 1969–70, and ignores the figures for roads, again one sees that education takes second place, at £58 million on £441 million. These. again, are the stark arithmetical facts declared by the Prime Minister's owl statement. As we have heard, again and 1461 again, in this painful discussion, of course this is not all, because, hidden beneath the Prime Minister's statement, is the additional cut on the local authority grant, confining it to 3 per cent. Whether that means £25 million, as Sir William Alexander seems to have said, or £8 million, as I seemed to hear the Secretary of State say, is something which we can leave to subsequent research.
However, as speaker after speaker has pointed out, as my hon. Friends the Members for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) and Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) pointed out, the local authorities, faced with these cuts on top of the other, will do one of two things—Either they will reduce the existing service or they will put up the rates. That brings me to inquire what good it does, for the purpose of making devaluation work, which is the supposed purpose of this horrible exercise, to put money from taxation on to the rates. The election pledge was to put the money for teachers' salaries from rates to taxation. But, by now, the breach of pledge has become an exercise in self-indulgence.
What about the objectives? How will it make devaluation work to cut back building programmes? And they are not the building programmes solely of the secondary schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) talked about the primary schools, but, as the article in the Economist pointed out, the effect of the cuts of the building programme of the primary schools is inevitably that one concentrates what little money there is left on precisely those growing suburban areas which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price) indicted, and there will be little enough left for the slum schools in the centre of cities or the areas where primary schools, according to Plowden, need improvement. That is what we mean when we say that there has been a total disregard of priorities—
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that his party's only contribution to these slum schools was to collate a report which it dared not publish?
§ Mr. Hogg
We allocated millions of pounds to improvements—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] As hon. Members know, 1462 and let me repeat to the House, since the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) chooses to sneer—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is the right hon. Gentleman who is sneering."] I have not been sneering: I have been insulting, I hope.
I repeat, when we were responsible we managed to expand on educational advance from about 3 per cent. of the lower national income which we inherited to over 5 per cent. of the higher national income which we handed over. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, did not make a particularly good intervention.
What about the second objective of devaluation? Presumably the right hon. Gentleman, by his cuts, wants to impress somebody—to impress our creditors abroad and improve the standing of the £. How does he think that it will improve the standing of the £ to hold back primary school building or postpone the age at which pupils leave school—from an age which is lower than that commonly compulsory in Europe to an age which would bring it up to their level? How will that impress anybody? How does the right hon. Gentleman think that it will impress anybody to cut the rise in student grants by one-half?
The world is looking to see not these mean and miserable cuts on the young and on education. The world knows that a modern State requires an expanding educational system. The world is waiting to see us organising our affairs in a more efficient and rational way. The sort of cuts which the world wants to see are on the railway deficits and indiscriminate subsidies. Instead, only the children are sacrificed by the present Government. But, then, children have no votes—not yet.
We explore further the question of priorities. The right hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends—because he did have two rather half-hearted hon. Friends here earlier—supported the view that it was better to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age to the raising of the price of school meals. I fought for the school meals subsidy in my time and, by and large, I won. The last time that the price of school meals was raised before the present was in 1957.
One cannot have a fully employed society, with the average wage rising by over 3½per cent. a year, and yet justify, 1463 at the end of 10 years, the maintenance of the same subsidised price for school meals as a preferable alternative to postponing a prized and almost universally desired educational improvement. That is an absured priority to choose. To pretend, as the hon. Member for Epping did, that children are ashamed to get their school meals free, and to use that against the priority, shows an ignorance of the state of affairs which, in a school teacher, I find surprising. I say that because they get them free now and all that is suggested is not to alter the system, but to raise the price.
I will not enter into an elaborate disquisition on the question of arithmetic, but I tell the right hon. Gentleman that he need not suppose, as he tried to lead the House to suppose, that, had the price been raised, the diminution in uptake would have been lasting. Our experience is—and there is now experience of several rises in price since the war—that although following a rise in price there is a diminution in uptake, which no one could regret more than I do, it is of very short duration indeed.
Then, of course, we were told at the time of the Prime Minister's promise that there would be no sacred cow, or no kine that were sacred—[HON. MEMBERS: "What? "] Kine—the plural of cow. Let us, therefore, look at one old "Buttercup" in the meadow. We were told that the basic school building programme would be increased by extra sums of £8 million for 1968–69 "to ensure that the comprehensive reorganisation was not held up ".
We know that comprehensive re-organisation is a "Buttercup ", a sacred cow, and here she is making enough noise for a whole field full of bulling heifers—[Interruption.] I was not referring to the hon. Gentleman by name, although I must say that he makes enough noise for old "Buttercup ". But even this is a fraud because, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, the fact of the matter is that the re-organisation programme is bound to be affected, too.
No one denies that these cuts have been educationally most damaging. And let not the right hon. Gentleman doubt for a moment that education is and remains high in our scale of values and of social priorities. It is the right of the child.
1464 It is the need of the modern industrial society. Above all, a democracy fails to educate the next generation properly at its own peril. Speaking for myself, I shall not be satisfied until we have an educational structure with not merely a primary system that bears comparison with the world, or a secondary system with a school-leaving age equal to that in Europe, but with a system in which every child has some further education, and at least 25 per cent.—and, I hope, more —of each generation have higher education.
The fact is that when we are face to face with these social services cuts we are face to face with the fact that, even by their own standards, the Government have failed. Many of the other cuts were welcomed by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway—devaluation, they cheered; defence cuts, they cheered; other things, they thought were good—but when we come to the social security cuts even they can hardly fail to notice the ultimate truth that if we get our economic policy wrong we cannot achieve any sort of social progress.
That is why the only abiding educational advances in this country in this century—the Acts of 1902, 1918 and 1944, and the Acts of the last Conservative Government—were all sponsored by Conservative Ministers. By any criterion one chooses to mention, the years of Conservative Government were years of the most rapid advance internally in the history of the country, and the years of the exploded myths of the party opposite have been years of unremitting failure until the Government are compelled to confess that, even by their own standards, they have broken their promises and that their prophecies remain unfulfilled.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Alice Bacon)
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) began by giving me greetings on St. Valentine's Day and saying how much he had enjoyed speaking in the same debates as I when I was at the Home Office. When he speaks in his capacity of shadow Home Secretary I very often enjoy his speeches as much as he enjoys them himself. I am afraid that I cannot say that of his speech on education 1465 tonight. If I may give him a little advice, it would be to confine his speeches to Home Office affairs rather than to education.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman went out of his way to defend the educational views of his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle). I grant him that the right hon. Member for Handsworth knows more about education than most hon. Members opposite, but I have not always noticed enthusiastic support by hon. Members opposite for the policies put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went out of his way to be grossly insulting to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I think I can pass over those remarks, and deal with a point to which I shall come back later, in order to answer some of the points he made about the educational progress of the last few years.
I want to put the right hon. and learned Gentleman right about the figure which my right hon. Friend used and which he challenged. So far as I can make out, the only figure which has been challenged by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was that which was quoted by my right hon. Friend when he said that the education economies amount to 2 per cent. in 1968–69 and 2½ per cent. in 1969–70 of the totals previously planned. He went on to say that the corresponding figures for roads were 8½ per cent. and 10 per cent. There was some extraordinary arithmetic which I simply do not understand. I think I am even a little better at arithmetic than my right hon. Friend because I managed to do this sum in my head.
If hon. Members look at the table at the back of the White Paper on Public Expenditure, they will see that expenditure on education for 1967–68 was £1,989 million. The reductions in 1968–69 are to be £39 million. If it will make it easier for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to call the £1,989 million, £2,000 million and the £39 million, £40 million, that is one-fiftieth. My arithmetic makes one-fiftieth 2 per cent.
§ Miss Bacon
The right hon. and learned Gentleman should look at these figures again. Before the speech to which we have just listened, we had a great many thoughtful speeches from both sides of the House. It would be very discourteous of me if, instead of trying to answer some of the points which have been made, I dealt with all the arguments which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just deployed.
I agreed with some of the speech of the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), who has been a teacher and who knows what he is talking about. However, I did not agree with the hon. Gentleman when he said that he thought that the leaving age should never be raised until all the primary schools were perfect. If we waited for that, we should wait a very long time indeed. I well understand how he feels about the primary schools and I agreed with much of what he said.
§ Mr. Jennings
The right hon. Lady is purporting to quote me. I have never used the word "perfect ". I said "until the primary schools are put right ".
Miss Bacon: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not say "perfect ". But "until the primary schools are put right ". I took careful note of what the hon. Gentleman said about books in schools. If we have influence with local authorities in this matter, I will see that this matter is brought to their attention.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne East (Mr. Rhodes) raised points about the Northern Region. I assure them that I understand the conditions in their area. I live very close to it and I visit it regularly. We know that there is this difference between the North and the South with regard to early leaving. It is not only a simple difference between the north and the south of the country. In Leeds, part of which city I have the honour to represent, there is a difference between the north of the city and the south of the city. There can be 1467 these differences within cities. There are many reasons for early leaving, and from the evidence which my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend presented and from other evidence which I have seen it is clear that social background is a factor. It is also true that children stay on longer in comprehensive schools.
I listened very carefully to the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, but 1 do not think that he would expect me to say that the Government could embark upon a policy of raising the leaving age in one area and not in the rest of the country. We have taken note, too, of what my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend said about university provision in the North.
Several hon. Members raised the question of expenditure by local authorities. I repeat what my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have said, that the Government felt that it was only right that some savings should be made by local authorities as well as by the Government, but the growth over the next year or so will be restricted to 3 per cent. We cannot direct local authorities about their spending, but we shall try to ensure that vital education services remain intact to as great a degree as possible in local authorities. I think that the last thing that local authorities should do is in any way to reduce the employment of teachers.
I am sorry that I missed the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks), but I understand that he made some excellent points. I assure him that in-service training will continue and will be expanded.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) raised the question of education priority areas. The bids by local education authorities for a share of the £16 million have now been examined in the Department. Decisions on the allocations will be made shortly and authorities can expect to hear the results early in March.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price) also raised the question of expenditure by local authorities. I assure him that the Government certainly will keep a careful watch to ensure that local 1468 authority education services do not bear a disproportionate burden beyond the intended cutback. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has already issued a circular to local authorities making it clear that there must be real savings in their road programmes. We do not expect education to suffer to save the road programme.
I was very interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) and particularly in his views about the teaching of immigrants.
I must deal with some of the points rather quickly because so many were raised. Several hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) and the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) raised the question of students' grants. As my right hon. Friend explained, he is having talks with the students to see whether some of the hardships can be mitigated for the poorer students. I hope that something can be done as a result of the talks, and I would again emphasise that the students have behaved very responsibly.
I want to spend a little time on the school building programme and the effect on re-organisation. Not only in the House today but in various organs of both the national and educational Press some concern and confusion has been expressed about the school building programme. I am not surprised, because it is a difficult and confusing problem, as the right hon. Member for Handsworth realises.
Every year the local authorities submit bids for the following year's allocations, and they put them in order of priority. But the Department must weigh the priorities of one authority's area against those of others. For years, the top priority has had to be given to areas where there is a shortage of school places. In addition, there is a minor works allocation, a block annual allocation from which local authorities can spend as they wish on projects up to £20,000. But it is very rare that local authorities start all the projects allocated to them in that year. Usually, some remain not only from the previous year but perhaps from two or three years back. This is the backlog, which at present amounts to £70 million. There has been some misunderstanding about 1469 that backlog and the circular which my right hon. Friend has sent out.
In addition to the basic allocations there have been recent additions of £3½ million for minor works in development areas and £8 million in each of two years for the educational priority areas. There was also allocated £36 million for each of the three years 1968–71 for the raising of the school-leaving age, a total of £108 million for the three years. What has happened—and I want to stress this because there has been a great deal of misunderstanding—is that the postponement of the raising of the school leaving age has meant withdrawal of the first two years of the allocation for the raising of the school-leaving age, meaning a saving of capital expenditure of about £70 million in two years only. We are proceeding on the assumption that there will be a third year's allocation for this purpose.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me to answer a very detailed and rather technical question. I think that what he was asking was whether all the £36 million for the first year of the raising of the school-leaving age would have been spent in that year and, if not, whether we would be saving the whole of that amount. As he knows, it is impossible to answer this precisely, because allocations for the raising of the school-leaving age have not been completely separate from other building. But, if all that money had not been spent in the first year it would have been carried forward and spent in the second year, so that looked at over the two years there is this saving.
We have asked local authorities to review their programmes for 1968–69. We have done this for three reasons. First, it is difficult to separate the raising of the school-leaving age projects from others. Secondly, local authorities themselves might have different priorities in the changed circumstances. Thirdly, and very important, local authorities have been geared over the last year or so to build for the raising of the school-leaving age, and they could easily have decided to begin so much of the backlog in this coming year that there would have been no capital savings. But the total amount by which the school building programme will be reduced will be £7 million less than the amount earmarked 1470 for the raising of the school-leaving age in these two years.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth asked me whether the backlog has not been wiped out. No approvals have been withdrawn. The only problem is, in each area, "Will the project start?" For that reason, the local authorities have been asked to review their priorities. But the right hon. Gentleman thought that the backlog has been completely wiped out. That is not so.
§ E. Boyle
I did not say that. I said that the whole of the backlog for the first time has to be resubmitted and that this must lead to indefinite postponement of a number of projects, particularly improvement projects which local authorities said they had. They no longer have an absolutely assured place in this coming year's programme.
§ Miss Bacon
The last part of the right hon. Gentleman's intervention is true, but not the first part. In his speech, he asked me whether or not a place like London would suffer because it had no backlog. We realise that some local authorities have been depending on the raising of the school-leaving age, allocation for re-organisation on comprehensive lines. That is why we have allocated £7 million in each of two years for England and Wales and £1 million for Scotland in order to help those local authorities which might have particular difficulties with regard to secondary re-organisation.
Now I come to the question of direct grant schools. Altogether, 179 grammar schools receive a grant direct from the Department. Up to now, this grant has been £52 a year for children aged between 11 and 19, with an additional grant of £84 for each sixth-form pupil. In addition, the Government make up the fees on an incomes scale for day pupils whose parents cannot afford the fees. The total amount spent in the current year is £7.8 million on about 100.000 pupils—the equivalent of a grant of about £78 per pupil. The Government cuts will reduce this to £58 per pupil.
Several hon. Members have said that the local authorities will bear the main burden. The local authorities take up 60 per cent. of the places in the direct grant schools, but I do not think that we can say that they are going to bear 1471 a very great burden in this because, if they continue to take up all the places they take up now, they will be paying £140 per year per child.
But when a local authority takes up a place in another local authority school, it costs £164 for each child up to the age of 16 and £289 a year for those over the age of 16, so that those local authorities which take places in direct grant schools are still getting a bargain compared with what they would have to pay if they were providing the places themselves, I think that it is only right that, if we are to have cuts in education, parents who can afford to pay should bear some of the curs.
I join with those hon. Members who have said that they regret the postponement of the higher school leaving age. We all regret it. I have been a teacher and I have seen many children leave school at 14, with all that that means in wasted talent. Apart from the waste of talent, I regretted the fact that children were projected into industry at too early an age.
But the debate about the postponement for two years has led in some quarters to a discussion of the whole principle of the raising of the school-leaving age. I want to make it clear that the Government regard it as a postponement for two years and do not agree with the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst), who would like the raising of the school-leaving age to be abandoned altogether.
My right hon. Friend has said that he is considering the single leaving date. I make no secret of the fact that I am very keen on this, because I know that having different leaving dates in a year, quite apart from the effect on those who leave in the middle of the year, disrupts the whole of the year for those who stay until the summer.
What is the Motion about? The hon. Member for Burton said that he had read it carefully and did not know whether it was talking about the cuts in education in relation to the other cuts, or about the priorities within the education service. If the Opposition are saying that education is bearing a disproportionate share, they are saying that less money should have been saved on education. They accept 1472 that Government expenditure should be reduced and they have been saying so for months past.
Of course, a good case can be made for having no reduction in education expenditure. A good case can be made for having no cuts in the Health Service, or in house building. Some of my hon. Friends feel that all the cuts should have come from the defence budget, but that is not the view of the Opposition who, in their Amendment of 27th January, deplored the cuts in defence. If they deplore the cuts in defence, obviously more cuts have to be made on the home front. Where would they be made? In hospital building? By having fewer houses? In social security benefits? They have been very coy about this.
However, if the Motion means that we have the wrong priorities within the education service, where would they have cut within the education service? The education priority areas? The basic school building programmes? The training of teachers? Universities? The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone says that the cuts would be made in school meals, the only suggestion which we have heard from the Opposition in the whole debate. I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman knew that school meals were to go up from Is. to ls. 6d. in April. The Opposition would like another 6d. increase so that the cost would be 2s. Apart from the fact that their arithmetic is wrong, school meals are not a matter for arithmetical calculation. A principle is involved. If we were to put up the price school meals to 2s. we would price them out of the range of many parents whose children do not qualify for free school meals, and this is a course which the Government reject.
Nowadays, children travel greater distances to school. With the disappearance of the small village school and with bigger comprehensive schools, children are travelling further to school and cannot get home for a meal. It is not a choice between a school meal and a nourishing meal at home. If we price children completely out of school meals, the choice will be between no dinner and sandwiches.
The Opposition are not in a very good position in moving this Motion. Their record in education is not particularly 1473 good. From 1951 to 1964 the town halls and county halls were littered with Circulars containing cuts and economies in education. If I had time I could quote just a few from 1951 to 1961.
§ Mr. Hoggrose—
§ Miss Bacon
The right hon. Member for Handsworth talking about the raising of the school-leaving age said that this was envisaged and legislated for in 1964. He went on to say that in 1964 he announced that the school-leaving age would be raised. He missed out one important date, and that was 1947, when the school-leaving age was raised to 15 by a Labour Government shortly after the war.
It is easy to announce a date in the last days of a dying Parliament, but it has been left to this Government to provide the resources. Let me give a few figures. The number of teachers in training in 1963–64 was 21,200. In 1967–68 it was 36,400.
§ Sir E. Boylerose—
§ Miss Bacon
The number of university students in 1963–64 was 104,000, the number in 1967–68 was 167,000. New entrants to the universities were 29,000 in 1963–64 and 47,000 in 1967–68. The
§ starts in the school-building programme for 1963–64 was £87 million. In 1967–68 they were £127 million. The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude), whose speech I missed, made certain remarks. I want to tell him that his figures are wrong. In 1963–64 public expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross national product was 5.1 per cent. and had risen to 5.8 per cent. in 1966–67. In the three years 1961 to 1964 school-building starts were to the value of £253 million. In the three years 1965 to 1968 they were £331 million.
§ We all regret the need to save money on education. But we shall still be spending more. The total sum spent by the Tories in 1963–64 was £1,354 million, and in spite of the cuts this year's expenditure will be £2,000 million. If I thought that the savings on education had permanently damaged the structure of the education service I would not be standing at this Box tonight. This Motion has been moved, not out of deep concern for our children, but for party political ends.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 244, Noes 323.1475
|Division No. 52.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Carlisle, Mark||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Astor, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Channon, H. P. G.||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Awdry, Daniel||Chichester-Clark, R.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Clark, Henry||Goodhart, Philip|
|Balniel, Lord||Clegg, Walter||Goodhew, Victor|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Cooke, Robert||Gower, Raymond|
|Batsford, Brian||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Grant, Anthony|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Corfield, F. V.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Bell, Ronald||Costain, A. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grieve, Percy|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Grouch, David||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Crowder, F. P.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Bessell, Peter||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Gurden, Harold|
|Biffen, John||Currie, G. B. H.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Dance, James||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Blaker, Peter||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Boardman, Tom||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Body, Richard||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hastings, Stephen|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hawkins, Paul|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Doughty, Charles||Hay, John|
|Braine, Bernard||Drayson, C. B.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Brewis, John||du Cann, Rt. Hon. Edward||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Eden, Sir John||Heseltine, Michael|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bryan, Paul||Farr, John||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)||Fisher, Nigel||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Holland, Philip|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fortescue, Tim||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Burden, F. A.||Foster, Sir John||Hordern, Peter|
|Campbell, Gordon||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Hornby, Richard|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Miscampbell, Norman||Scott, Nicholas|
|Hunt, John||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Monro, Hector||Sharples, Richard|
|Iremonger, T, L.||Montgomery, Fergus||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||More, Jasper||Silvester, Frederick|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Smith, John|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stainton, Keith|
|Jopling, Michael||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Murton, Oscar||Stodart, Anthony|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Neave, Airey||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kimball, Marcus||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Nott, John||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Teeling, Sir William|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Temple, John M.|
|Lane, David||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Langford-Holt, sir John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pardoe, John||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Peel, John||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Percival, Ian||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peyton. John||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Loveys, W. H.||Pink, R. Bonner||Wall, Patrick|
|Lubbock, Eric||Pounder, Rafton||Walters, Dennis|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Ward, Dame Irene|
|MacArthur, Ian||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)||Prior, J. M. L.||Webster, David|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Pym, Francis||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|McMaster, Stanley||Ramsden. Rt. Hn. James||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maddan, Martin||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Maginnis, John E.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Ridsdale, Julian||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Marten, Neil||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maude, Angus||Robson Brown, Sir William||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Wright, Esmond|
|Mawby, Ray||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Royle, Anthony||Younger, Hn. George|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||St. John-Stevas, Norman||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Mr. C. W. Elliott and|
|Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Abse, Leo||Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Dell, Edmund|
|Albu, Austen||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Dempsey, James|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Buchan, Norman||Dewar, Donald|
|Alldritt, Walter||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John|
|Archer, Peter||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dickens, James|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Dobson, Ray|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Doig, Peter|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Cant, R. B.||Dunn, James A.|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Carmichael, Neil||Dunnett, Jack|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Barnes, Michael||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Dun woody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Barnett, Joel||Chapman, Donald||Eadie, Alex|
|Baxter, William||Coe, Denis||Edelman, Maurice|
|Beaney, Alan||Coleman, Donald||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphllly)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Concannmon, J. D.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Bence, Cyril||Conlan, Bernard||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Ellis, John|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||English, Michael|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Crawshaw, Richard||Ennals, David|
|Binns, John||Cronin, John||Ensor, David|
|Bishop, E. S.||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Faulds, Andrew|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Dalyell, Tam||Fernyhough, E.|
|Booth, Albert||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Boston, Terence||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Boyden, James||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Foley, Maurice|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Bradley, Tom||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Ford, Ben|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Forrester, John|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Fowler, Gerry|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Delargy, Hugh||Freeson, Reginald|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Randall, Harry|
|Gardner, Tony||McBride, Neil||Rankin, John|
|Garrett, W. E.||McCann, John||Rees, Merlyn|
|Ginsburg, David||MacColl, James||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||MacDermot, Niall||Rhodes. Geoffrey|
|Gourlay, Harry||Macdonald, A. H.||Richard, Ivor|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||McGuire, Michael||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Mackie, John||Robinson, Rt.Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mackintosh, John P.||Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanslly)||Maclennan, Robert||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Rose, Paul|
|Hamling, William||MacPherson, Malcolm||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hannan, William||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Ryan, John|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Manuel, Archie||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mapp, Charles||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Hazell, Bert||Marks, Kenneth||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Marquand, David||Short, Rt.Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Henig, Stanley||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mayhew, Christopher||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Hilton, W. S.||Melfish, Robert||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Hooley, Frank||Mikardo, Ian||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Horner, John||Millan, Bruce||Slater, Joseph|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Small, William|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Snow, Julian|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Molloy, William||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Howie, W.||Moonman, Eric||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hoy, James||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Stonehouse, John|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Swain, Thomas|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moyle, Roland||Taverne, Dick|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hunter, Adam||Murray, Albert||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur||Neal, Harold||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Newens, Stan||Tinn, James|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Norwood, Christopher||Urwin, T. W.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oakes, Gordon||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Ogden, Eric||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||O'Malley, Brian||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Oram, Albert E.||Wallace, George|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orbach, Maurice||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Orme, Stanley||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oswald, Thomas||Weitzman, David|
|Jones, Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(w.Ham,S.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Padley, Walter||Whitaker, Ben|
|Judd, Frank||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Kelley, Richard||Paget, R. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Palmer, Arthur||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Kerr, Russell (Feitham)||Park, Trevor||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lawson, George||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Ledger, Ron||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Pavitt, Laurence||Williams, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Pentland, Norman||Winnick, David|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Woof, Robert|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Prentice, Rt, Hn. R. E.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Lipton, Marcus||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Yates, Victor|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Price, William (Rugby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Luard, Evan||Probert, Arthur||Mr. Eric G. Varley and|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Mr. Joseph Harper.|