§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY Or TRANSPORT (LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE)
My Lords, may I, at the outset, apologise on behalf of my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House (Lord Parmoor) for his inability to be present this afternoon. He has had a very sharp attack of influenza, but hopes to return to his duties shortly. My noble friend Lord Passfield, although unable to be present for a few moments, will be in attendance at the debate at a later time of the day. This measure comes before your Lordships' House after having been subjected to a very drastic examination, to criticism, and to amendment in the House of Commons. Nevertheless the two underlying principles on which the Rill is founded remain intact, and His Majesty's Government attach a sufficient importance to those principles to desire that this Bill shall be put on the Statute Book at an early date.
I do not want to weary your Lordships with any historical survey of the various stages from the time, in 1833, when the State first undertook to support the education of the poorer classes in this country; but remarkable changes have taken place in the interval, and we find to-day a system, supported by the State, of compulsory education. The school boards were established in 1870, and they, in their turn, gave way to the local authorities, to whom the respon- 1050 sibility was transferred in 1902. To illustrate the growth which was the result of these changes I would give your Lordships some figures. When the school boards were created there were 9,000 schools provided by the religious denominations, accommodating 2,000,000 children. There are now over 20,000 elementary schools, 11,000 of them voluntary school, and 9,500 council schools, accommodating between them over 5,500,000. The school-leaving age, originally twelve, was advanced to thirteen and raised by the Act of 1918 to fourteen. A new stage came with the publication of the Hadow Report in 1926, and this remarkable Report has revolutionised the former rather set and conventional ideas with regard to elementary education. Those who were responsible for drawing up the Report found that the elementary schools were for children of all ages for a school life which ended normally at fourteen. The Hadow Report proposed a complete educational break for all children at about eleven years of age. This is now the recognised physiological and psychological barrier between one stage of development and another.
It recommended that the older children from eleven upwards should be transferred, whatever their abilities, to separate schools specially equipped and staffed to meet the needs of older children. To make this organisation effective, the Committee regarded it as essential that an additional year should be added to school life by raising the age of compulsory attendance to fifteen. These new post-primary schools, as they are described, were to be able to provide at least a four-years' course of progressive education for all children over eleven years of age. A great discussion followed on the publication of the Report, but there was a unanimity of opinion in educational circles amongst all those interested in this problem, that these views expressed a desirable change and reorganisation. It was felt that if the full value was to be got for these older children in the new course, it was necessary that the school age should be raised. There are, I think, five education authorities who have raised the school age to fifteen, but, owing to the number of exceptions which have been introduced into the schemes that have 1051 been adopted, it has been found that really it means very little more than children being kept at school until they can find a job.
In bringing forward this measure, His Majesty's Government were prompted to adopt this reform on educational, economic and social grounds. From the point of view of education, justification can be found for it in the Hadow Report. To those who may be inclined to say there is sufficient opportunity for the academically brighter children in the extension which has been made in the secondary school system which has been growing up throughout the country, the reply is that we are concerned also with the average child. The academically brilliant child can generally be expected to look after itself. We are concerned with the average child, and I think in all our educational systems the needs of the average child and the below-the-average child are often apt to be neglected. There are some who develop slowly, there are some whose development does not reach its full scope until a very much later age. It is unfair that these children should be handicapped by having their education terminated. There are those who perhaps are never going to develop from the academic point of view into scholars, but who are nevertheless in need of a thoroughly well organised grounding in education.
From the economic point of view, I would just quote to your Lordships a passage in the Hadow Report. They say:—There is the proved social and intellectual deterioration resulting from the premature entry of many thousands of young persons into wage-earning employment, the grave waste of part of the effort and money applied to the early stages of child life, which is inevitable when education ceases abruptly at fourteen, the tragic paradox of a situation in which from year to year some 450,000 young lives are poured into industry at a time when industry cannot find employment for its adult workers.That, my Lords, strikes us as being a very well-expressed description of the case, and it had been our intention originally to make this Bill effective at the earliest possible moment, so that the economic distress under which we find ourselves at the present time might be to some extent relieved. Although the 1052 postponement of the date on which this Bill would come into operation will not make this particular point effective in the next year or two, this is not a matter which is only true to-day: it is true at all times, and it is one which we regard as of tile utmost importance. Lastly, the social aspect of the case is one that appeals to members of the Party to which I have the honour to belong, as we desire as time goes on that there shall be equal opportunity for all classes in this country to climb up the educational ladder from elementary school to University, unhampered and free, and we regard any step in that direction as one that is for the social welfare of the country.
Bound up with this principle of the extension of age for compulsory school attendance is the question of the maintenance allowance. Maintenance allowances are accepted in certain cases now, but we desire to extend this so as to meet the case of all children between the ages fourteen and fifteen. We must take into account the fresh burden that will be placed upon the poorer families. In a society that is based on the money standard, it is not this expedient of maintenance allowances that is objectionable, but it is the system which makes it necessary. If you have money, you can have what education you choose. If you have not money, you must have what education you are given. If you have money, you can continue your education as long as you like. If you have not money, you must leave off your education when you are told. If parents have money, there is no appreciable loss to them in their children being prevented from joining professions. If parents have not money, a very appreciable loss and burden is placed on them if their children cannot get employment at the earliest possible age. Therefore we regard this granting of maintenance allowances as a necessity—not allowances on the basis of scholarships, but on the basis of need—in respect of children attending school for this additional year.
An allowance at a fixed rate of 5s. a week is to be granted if four conditions are satisfied. These are:—(1). The child must be attending a school from the age of fourteen to fifteen; (2), the school attended must be recognised by the Board for the purposes of the grant; 1053 (3), the parent or other person maintaining the child must possess the qualifications as regards income limit; and (4), he must make application for an allowance in the form set out in Part II of the Second Schedule. The allowance will be granted for one year from the fourteenth birthday of the child or, if that birthday falls within a school term, from the end of that term. The allowance will be paid in respect of every week, so that it will not be suspended during the holidays. It will be payable to the father or mother or person maintaining the child. In the Second Schedule there is a requirement that the income of the claimant shall be within the limits prescribed in regulations to be made by the Board of Education, based on the number of dependent children. The regulations are to be approved by the House of Commons, and may prescribe special income limits for any area which makes representations as regards economic conditions; but the President has made it clear that this power will not enable the Board to vary the weekly rate of 5s. The form in which application is to be made for maintenance allowances is set out in one of the Schedules.
I should like now to deal with some of the objections that have been brought forward in opposition to this Bill. It has been argued that there is not sufficient accommodation for these children. There are 317 local education authorities, and of these all except twenty-four have now sent in programmes, and even those who have not sent in programmes are busy examining the possible schemes that they can put forward. The capital expenditure on this development and reorganisation has been going on for several years past. In the year ended September 30, 1929, it amounted to £4,600,000 and that was, up to then, the largest building year on record. During the following year, ended September 30, 1930, the capital expenditure approved by the Board rose to £7,555,000. During the last three months of 1930 the amount approved was £2,192,000.
I would remind your Lordships at this point of the Circular that, was sent out by the President of the Board of Education under the last Government in order to show that this reorganisation which has been going on with a view to setting up these post-primary schools, has been 1054 very wisely adjusted in such a way as to allow for accommodation should the age be raised to fifteen. In the ninth section of the Circular issued by the Board of Education on May 18, 1928, the concluding words are:—… tire Board believe that schools with accommodation on the lines indicated in paragraphs 66–70 of the pamphlet will be found to provide suitable accommodation for a four-year course.In that Circular such a step was foreshadowed when it was said that there might be a change, gradual or sudden—a sudden change meaning a change by legislation, such as is proposed in this Bill. Very wisely, therefore, the Board under Lord Eustace Percy prepared for this, and accordingly the passage of this Bill into law will not to any appreciable extent add to the expense that is necessary for setting up this reorganisation and seeing to the extra accommodation. Here and there an extra school may have to be built, but the bulk of the reorganisation—this is the point that I want to emphasise—as it has been undertaken up to now, foreshadows the possibility of the raising of the age, makes provision for sufficient accommodation for the older children and therefore limits the extra expense that will perhaps be necessary to a very small degree should the actual legal sanction for the raising of the school age take place. There are, in fact, as the President of the Board has ascertained through his inspectorial staff, no serious difficulties felt in any part of England with regard to providing sufficient accommodation for the extra children.
Another point raised was that possibly there would not be a sufficient supply of teachers. I will give your Lordships one or two figures on this point. During the three years from 1928 to 1930, the number of certificated or fully-qualified specialist teachers employed increased by about 5,000, an increase of some 1,700 a year, owing to the number of such teachers leaving the profession being less than the number entering. The estimate for the three years from 1931 to 1933 indicates a similar increase of 5,000 teachers for this purpose, and there is no reason to suppose that this increase cannot be met by the normal output of the training colleges. In addition to these 5,000 normal expan- 1055 sion teachers it is estimated that by the summer of 1933, 8,000 further teachers will be required for the raising of the school-leaving age, making 13,000 in all. This can be made up by the normal expansion of 5,000, an additional output from the training colleges, 1931 to 1934, of 4,000, married women who would have retired at that time 4,000, and men and women who might be retained after pensionable age 1,000, teachers unemployed after first leaving college 500, and specialists 500. This would provide a margin of some 2,000 teachers over the requirements. It is to be noted that except in one or two of the most rural counties, where the teachers are paid on the lowest of the Burnham scales, there has been practically no expression of anxiety on the part of any local education authority as to the possibility of a shortage of teachers.
Let me turn to another criticism, with regard to vocational training, which was very keenly debated in another place, more especially with regard to rural areas. It was said that children ought to be employed in the fields, and that part-time instruction would be sufficient for them. There seemed to be a disposition on the part of the critics to assume that a country child really did not need anything like the education of a town child. I for my part entirely dispute that. Agriculture is now an extremely scientific pursuit. The children require to have all their wits about them in order to get on in the agricultural industry, and far more acumen and intelligence is required for a child in that sort of pursuit than is very often required for the poor child who has to take its place in the factory, for some drudgery in mechanical work which hardly varies from year to year. We must admit also that there is a disposition in certain quarters to see whether cheap labour cannot be obtained in agriculture by getting children out into the fields. We think that that is very undesirable.
When this reorganisation is fully developed, when the system is really working well, as it will be in a few years time, vocational training, specialised training, practical work, will be open to these older children. I quite admit that in the country you will very often find highly skilled men who have had little or no education in the sense as 1056 we know it in schools. I know myself an instance of a very accomplished thatcher who is practically illiterate, and it is sometimes argued from that that these agriculturists do not require schooling, that it does not help them to the high state of efficiency that they can show in their pursuits. I really think that that is a false argument. I do not think the thatcher I have mentioned would have been any the worse thatcher had he had longer schooling, and after all if you push that argument to its logical conclusion it comes to this, that it would be better to shut up the schools and allow these children to devote themselves to agricultural pursuits. At any rate the part-time system that has been advocated would really not meet the case and would break up the system which it is desired to reorganise.
It is also argued that in the country schools there is at present not adequate teaching for the children—that in these schools where the children have been from an early age up to the age of fourteen, if you extend the age to fifteen the older children would really be wasting their time attending classes hitherto given to younger children. In a sense that is true. In the transitional stage there must be a moment before you get classes for older children. It is the same everywhere. I am not sure that in any part of our educational system we know what to teach or how to teach, but that is not an argument against endeavouring to the best of our ability to give every chance to a child of getting what we consider to be the best teaching. These schools in agricultural areas will undoubtedly be reorganised on a scale so as to make these post-primary schools centres of activity for the older children, which will greatly assist them in after life.
Now I come to a part of the subject with which I desire to deal with the greatest possible caution. I do not want to say a single word which would add to the difficulties of the President of the Board of Education, who is straining every nerve to get a settlement with those who are responsible for the voluntary schools of this country, but a subsection has been introduced into this Bill which reads:—This Act shall not come into operation until an Act has been passed authorising expenditure out of public funds, upon such 1057 conditions as are necessary to meet the cost to be incurred by the managers of non-provided schools in meeting the requirements of the provisions of this Act.It is, therefore, necessary for me to say a word about it. Last summer the President of the Board of Education made an attempt to insert a clause which he hoped might be acceptable to all sections of religious communities, but unfortunately he failed, despite what he has described as "a surprising and encouraging amount of agreement," to get the complete assent of the Catholics. In reintroducing the Bill before Christmas he renewed the attempt to arrive at an agreement in a conference with the various denominations. Again he nearly succeeded, but this time a section of the Nonconformists were unable to give full assent, and prevented a settlement being announced. The majority of opinion in the House of Commons, therefore, considered the insertion of this particular subsection necessary.
None of us wishes to say a single word which would fan up the religious differences and conflicts which have disturbed the atmosphere of educational reform in the past. And, indeed, there is no need. The spirit of accommodation, the helpful disposition on the part of all those concerned is a sign that we do not believe that by outward conflict anything can be gained. The Church of England throughout has shown a disposition not only to be conciliatory, not only to be accommodating, but to be extremely helpful; and, if I single out the Church of England, it is not because I want to contrast it with the other denominations concerned, because both the Roman Catholics and the Nonconformists are straining, in season and out of season, to reach some possible form of settlement. And they are all of them inspired by a desire, from the educational point of view, to see this Bill put on the Statute Book. The conferences are still continuing. I am authorised by my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education to say that there has been a desire for further conferences, for the Nonconformists to meet the other bodies concerned in full conference, in order to see whether a concordat cannot be reached. May I say—and I say this with great emphasis—that the passage of this Bill into law is the lever which is likely to bring about a settlement? The rejection 1058 of this Bill will mean that a settlement is put out of court, that the differences will harden, and that you will crystallise the conflicts, which will be embittered and will last perhaps for many years to come. Therefore I would ask your Lordships to take that point into consideration in regard to this Bill.
This Bill was introduced in the House of Commons by an old Harrovian. It is being introduced into your Lordships' House by an old Etonian. We both of us are very grateful to have been allowed the opportunity to extend, in however small degree, to our fellow-countrymen, to the children of the poorer classes, some degree of the facilities and advantages which, for no other reason whatever than that our parents had the means, we were able to enjoy ourselves. We admit that it is a small step forward, one rung of the educational ladder, an attempt to break down the barrier which, for so many generations, has been purposely preserved in order to keep the workers, through ignorance, in subjection.
SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh ! Withdraw !
§ Loan PONSONBY of SHULBREDE
That is my opinion. I hold it, and I hold it very strongly. Since the Second Reading of this Bill was put down on the Order Paper a Motion for its rejection has appeared on behalf of the official Opposition in the name of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham—another Etonian, but one whose outstanding and exceptionally brilliant career perhaps does not give him the same sympathy for the average and under-average—
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
There is no harm in that—for the average and under-average child, for whom I am particularly well qualified to speak. I have been trying since that Motion appeared on the Paper to ascertain what is the underlying motive for that peremptory rejection of this Bill on Second Reading. I do not think it can be the insertion in the Bill of what I may call the Scurr Amendment. I do not think it can be that, because if Mr. Scurr had not moved the Amendment it was down in the name of Lord Eustace Percy, who was representing the official Opposition in the, House of Commons; and that Amend- 1059 ment was passed by the votes of the Opposition in the House of Commons. So its presence in the Bill, I think, can hardly be objected to by the official Opposition in your Lordships' House. Moreover, as I said just now, and I repeat, the passage of this Bill will help the composing of the differences between the representatives of the voluntary schools, and therefore this subsection, if we got that accommodation, would really be only a mere form of procedure.
Can it be that there is objection on the ground of expense? Let me quote the Hadow Report. They say:—It may be urged that it is unreasonable to incur the burden of prolonging education at a period of great economic depression. It may be equally urged that it is unreasonable to attempt to harvest crops in spring, or to divert into supplying the economic necessities of the immediate present the still undeveloped capacities of those on whose intelligence and character the very life of the nation must depend in the future. There is no capital more productive than the energies of human beings. There is no investment inure remunerative than expenditure devoted to developing them.The expenditure involved in this Bill does not reach a very high figure in comparison with what this country is spending on armaments. Yet education seems to me to be a far better form of national defence. But when your Lordships come clown to the actual figures you will see that there is no very large sum of money required. In the Budget of 1932–33 about £500,000 will be required, and it is estimated that in the first full year, 1933–34, about £5,500,000 will be required. I do not think that in those figures, which are prospective, there is a sufficient ground for rejecting this Bill on Second Reading.
I do not think I need dwell on the question of maintenance—maintenance for the children between fourteen and fifteen years of age, which is an indispensable adjunct of the raising of the school age; because, if objection is felt to this provision, to the principle or to the method which is adopted in the Bill, or to the amount or to the exceptions, those are points which your Lordships could deal with quite well in Committee. So I am forced to conclude that, whatever reasons may be brought forward, in the forefront, the underlying motive behind this move on the part of the official Opposition in this House, is opposition to the principle of 1060 raising the school age. I am reluctant to believe it; but one does hear from time to time opposition to principles of this sort. "Education" I hear it said, "More education? We have too much already." One hears that frequently. Education has had astonishing effects. The extension of education has produced the Labour Party. Perhaps that is making your Lordships hesitate to extend it any further. I can hardly believe, considering the proved advantages of education, the enormous improvement in the social life of the country consequent on education, the pride we have in the enlightenment and sense of justice of the British people, that in this second quarter of the twentieth century there should be people who would object to this very necessary and natural reform.
If the Bill is rejected it dislocates the schemes of reorganisation considerably, it defeats the objects which the Hadow Report had in view, it prevents the post-primary schools having the full value which these great educationists intended, and it will interrupt the natural evolution of our educational reforms. It would be, indeed, a reactionary and obstructive attitude for your Lordships to take up, and you would invite public opinion once more to regard this House as the enemy of progress. May I, therefore, very respectively urge that wiser counsels should prevail, and express the hope that, while free criticism of the principles and full consideration of the details are open to your Lordships if this measure goes to its further stages, the peremptory rejection of this Bill, to which His Majesty's Government attach great importance, will not be pressed to a Division. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.)
VISCOUNT HAILSHAM had given Notice that on the Motion for the Second Reading he would move, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months. The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, less than a week ago there was a speech delivered in another place by no less a person than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I desire, if I may, to refer your Lordships in my opening remarks to a few of the statements made in that speech:—
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer—
if I may put it so bluntly as this, that an increase of taxation in present conditions which fell on industry would be the last straw. Schemes involving heavy expenditure, however desirable they may be, will have to wait until prosperity returns. This is necessary … to uphold the present standard of living, and no class will ultimately benefit more by present economy than the wage earners.… If I ask for some temporary suspension, some temporary sacrifice"—
continued the Chancellor of the Ex-chequer—
it is because I believe that that is necessary in order to make future progress possible.
§ The first question which I desire to ask your Lordships to answer is whether or not those statements are true. If not, then we can consider other objections to this Bill, and I think I shall have no difficulty in indicating some of them. But if that statement is true then, in my submission to this House, it is right that your Lordships should be careful, in the Chancellor's words, to uphold the present standard of living, to protect the wage earners by present economy and, by some temporary sacrifice and temporary suspension, to make future progress possible. What are the facts on which that statement may fairly be said to have been based? We are to-day the most heavily taxed of any people in the world. We bear a burden of, I think it is, £15 13s. 10d. per head. We pay half as much again as France, double what Germany pays, two and a half times what the United States pays, nearly three times what Belgium pays, and more than three times what Italy pays. In the present year, in the last Budget there was an increase in that burden of taxation of no less than £46,000,000 a year. Yet, before it was introduced, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the wonder was not that industry was in difficulties, but that with the then existing burden to carry we were able to carry on at all. In spite of that increased taxation we read on all hands that there is to be a heavy deficit on this year's Budget, that the estimates so constantly put forward last April are to be falsified, and something like £50,000,000 perhaps will Be the deficit which we have to face.
§ We have read within the last few days in the most weighty evidence which was given before the Royal Commission on 1062 Unemployment insurance, a statement made with the authority of the Treasury by Sir Richard Hopkins on its behalf, that in 1931 revenue must be expected to fall, the expenditure and the fall cannot yet be estimated, and the fall requires to be balanced, if equilibrium is to be preserved, by reduced expenditure. We see our figures of unemployment something like one quarter of the insured population. We find that in the great textile industry nearly half the work people are out of work. We see that in the great steel industry, for the first time in history, we have ceased on balance to be an exporter of steel. The imports of steel actually exceed the exports for the first time in our history. We see that not only actually but relatively we are falling back. We have long since been outstripped by the United States. Last year we were overtaken and passed by Germany.
§ We see that in the last year the volume of our manufactured exports had fallen, as compared with 1929—itself not a good year—by no less than 18 per cent., and that the import of foreign manufactures had actually increased in volume, and had reached the highest level in all our history. Any industrialist or economist will tell you that that indicates not only that we are being driven out of the competitive markets abroad, but that increasingly our home products are being displaced in our home markets. I am not seeking to lay the blame for this state of affairs. It is not relevant to my present argument. I am seeking to call your Lordships' attention to the facts. In the same Memorandum to which I have referred, it is pointed out that we are borrowing to-day at a rate and on a scale which, in substance, obliterates the effect of the Sinking Fund. These vast Treasury loans, says Sir Richard, are coming to represent in fact State borrowing to relieve current State obligations at the expense of the future, and this is the ordinary and well recognised sign of an unbalanced Budget. Continuance, he warns us, will quickly call in question the stability of the British financial system. That is the crisis with which we are faced.
I have received—I suppose your Lordships have received—within the last two or three days a pamphlet from a very representative body, the National Con-
federation of Employers' Organisations. That body, after calling attention to the fact that the expenditure in this country on social services, including education, is more than double the expenditure in any country in the world, goes on to say this:—
We are convinced that this collossal expenditure on social services is far greater than this country can afford; that the financial burdens it imposes on industry are, in no small measure, accountable for our industrial depression, and that this country, in concentrating on insuring its people against all the risks of life, has in large measure deprived them of employment which is the greatest security of all.
§ If those statements are true—and I do not think anybody can contradict them —is there not in those facts an indisputable argument against the passage of this Bill?
§ The noble Lord opposite said that he was anxious to understand what is the underlying motive. So far as I am concerned, the underlying motive of the proposal which I submit to your Lordships' attention is that I am satisfied the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking the truth when he said that however desirable—or undesirable—any reform or increased expenditure might be, we could not afford it, and that in the interests of the wage-earners themselves and in the interests of any possibility of progress hereafter, it was essential that we should call a halt and postpone these schemes until prosperity returns. The noble Lord said: "Well, it does not cost very much; it will only cost £500,000 next year and £5,500,000 the year after." Your Lordships no doubt have made yourselves acquainted with the Financial Memorandum with which this Bill was accompanied in another place. I have studied it, and I find that the Government themselves admit that it is quite impossible to define with any precision how much this Bill is going to cost, but their estimate is that it will reach, as far as I can make out, somewhere in the neighbourhood of £9,000,000 a year—not a capital expenditure of that amount, but £9,000,000 a year.
§ The noble Lord has reminded your Lordships that the Bill does two separate things. First of all, it raises the school age from fourteen to fifteen; secondly, it provides maintenance allowances for the 1064 parents of the children during that extra year. I hope your Lordships will forgive me if for one moment I digress from my argument to make a correction in a leading article in The Times newspaper, which some at least of your Lordships must have read this morning. I should not waste time on every newspaper, but when one finds so reliable a journal as The Times writing a leading article discussing what your Lordships ought to do, then it is at least important that they should get their facts right. The Times leading article, after explaining that the Bill in its original form ought to have met with summary rejection, and after saying that very likely that might still be true, yet went on to enter a plea for further consideration because of the drastic changes which had taken place in Committee. And the drastic changes were first, that the date had been postponed from April of this year till September of next year; and, secondly, that whereas originally the maintenance allowances "would in effect have been a bribe to urge citizens to obey the law," they had now been entirely altered, and under the Bill as it stands "the payment ceases to be a statutory right, the grant and its amount, up to a legal maximum, being left to the discretion of the local authorities." "That," says the article, "is a considerable improvement and is in accordance with the principles of the Balfour Act."
§ I agree that would have been a very considerable improvement, but, unfortunately, it is not the fact. The noble Lord opposite will not contradict me, I know, when I say that the amount of the allowance is not left to the discretion of the local authorities; it is 5s. a week in every case which satisfies the conditions, neither more nor less; and he will agree also that the grant of that allowance is not left to the discretion of the local authorities: it is a statutory right given to everybody whose means satisfy the conditions laid down in the Board of Education regulations. So far from its being a matter of discretion, there was an Amendment introduced in Committee which actually provided that, if a local authority does not give the maintenance allowance to persons who are qualified under these regulations, it can be recovered summarily in the Courts as a 1065 civil debt. I cannot help wondering whether the educational expert of The Times in writing this article had been in receipt of information from the Junior Member for Treorchy.
§ According to the Government's official estimate, the amount which this Bill was ultimately to cost was £5,500,000 for the maintenance allowance and £2,500,000 for the cost of the schooling, for the cost of raising the school age. I only comment in passing by saying that it is odd in an educational measure that more than two-thirds of the expenditure should have nothing to do with education. In fact, I think that there is very little doubt that this is a very grave underestimate. The extra £1,000,000—the difference between 29,000,000 and 28,000,000—is due to the fact that Scotland, although not affected by the Bill, still, under the statutory bargain between the two countries, is entitled to eleven-eightieths of the increased Exchequer grant. The maintenance allowance is based, the Government say, on the assumption that one-fourth of the parents will never draw it. When I remind your Lordships that the prescribed regulations are that anybody who has an income of not more than £3 a week and who has not more than two dependents—and then there is a sliding scale up to five guineas a week where a man has (I think) six dependents—that anybody under those limits of £3 and five guineas a week is entitled as of right to get this allowance, I think your Lordships will agree that to say that one-fourth of our people under existing conditions are above that standard is at any rate a very sanguine view. Your Lordships will remember that every I per cent. of error in the percentage of people who will draw the allowance makes a difference of 280,000 a year. Therefore a very small error in the Estimates will make a big increase in the A5,500,000.
§ When you come to the £2,500,000 for schooling it seems to me that the estimate is even more remarkable and more easily shown to be wrong. The maximum number of children between fourteen and fifteen years of age who will be in school is 627,000. It drops later on to about 500,000, and I suppose that since sonic of them are already at school and since there is never an attendance of 100 per cent., but not more than 89 or 90 per 1066 cent., it may fairly be taken that you are providing for somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 children. £2,500,000 will give you a cost of between £5 and £6 per head per annum. The actual cost per child to-day in our schools is £13 a head, and although one is quite ready to admit that, some of the overhead charges being spread over, every extra child will not make a difference of £13, still it is obvious that these older children who will want more travelling because of centralisation, who will want more advanced instruction, more equipment and the like, obviously will cost a great deal more than £5 or 26 a year, when the cost of all the children—going down to infants—is no less than £13 per head at this moment.
§ When one comes to the items into which the cost of schooling is split up, teaching and the rest, the discrepancy is equally obvious. There is an allowance made for 7,500 teachers. The average number of scholars in a class is to be 40. That will provide for 300,000 children. There are actually 600,000. No doubt some of them will go into classes which are already not quite full. On the other hand, some will just make a class exceed the maximum, and provide a fresh class with less than 40. Therefore, 40 being the average, it is not unreasonable to say that if you find how many children there will be and divide them by 40, you will find the number of teachers very different from 7,500. More than that, the noble Lord said they anticipated no difficulty in getting teachers. But they are only going to do it, by bringing in pensioned teachers, and bringing back teachers who have dropped out of employment. They are only going to do it by bringing in less qualified teachers. Then for the rest £625,000 is allowed—about 25s. or 30s. a head—and the average already, even including the youngest children who want the least, is not 25s. or 30s. but £4 8s. 4d. a head.
§ I do not think it is wonderful that independent experts have suggested that £15,000,000 is a much nearer figure than £9,000,000. We have known by experience that educational estimates of cost are very apt to be exceeded, and we have known, also by experience, that this Government's estimates of cost are very unreliable. We remember how, only just over a year ago, when they were asking 1067 for transitional benefit, they told the House of Commons that the cost would be between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000, and at the end of the twelve months it turned out to be double that figure. We cannot afford either the £9,000,000 a year or the £15,000,000 a year and on that account, and that account alone, I should submit to your Lordships that this Bill ought not to receive a Second Reading.
§ But, my Lords, I am unwilling to have it thought that I shrink from criticising the Bill or that I regard its provisions as in themselves inherently desirable. First of all, not only is the Bill expensive but it is extraordinarily wasteful. Those of your Lordships who have studied this problem closely will know what I mean when I refer to what is sometimes called the "bulge." Those of your Lordships who have not followed the matter closely will forgive me if I just explain what it means. Immediately after the War, the birth-rate in this country increased very considerably. There are, therefore, now passing through the schools a very much larger number of children than the average number will be in the future. The difference is as great as this—I am taking figures given two months ago by the President of the Board of Education. On March 31, 1931, the President estimates, there will be 5,342,000 children in school. In each of the next three years he estimates that the number will be—I am giving round figures—5,770,000. Then the figure drops rapidly until on March 31, 1937, the figure will be 5,335,000, and in 1939 it will be 5,170,000. Your Lordships will see what that means. It means that during the three years ending March, 1932, 1933 and 1934, there will be between 400,000 and 500,000 more children in the schools than there will be in six years' time.
§ Of two things one. Either the local education authorities will be required to make adequate provision for this extra 400,000 children or they will not. If they are so required, then you are providing for 400,000 children whose places will be vacant within six years, and you are wasting the whole of the extra accommodation, buildings, classes, teachers and everything that you provide for those 400,000 children who will no longer be there in six years' time. The other alternative is that you make no provision. 1068 That means that you will have herded into the schools, where children are at present learning and, I hope, receiving true education, some 400,000 children to overcrowd the classrooms, distract the teachers and hamper and hinder the education of those children who ought legitimately to be learning under the existing conditions. I do not mind which way the Government do it, but either way, in my submission to your Lordships, there is grave waste in passing this Bill at this time, wholly regardless of the fact that this enormous change is taking place in the number of children who will have to be dealt with in the next five or six years.
§ I pass from that point and turn to the educational aspect. I do not in the least accept the view that this Bill is educationally right. The noble Lord saw fit in his speech to make what I thought was a somewhat unworthy aspersion upon your Lordships' House. The noble Lord said that your Lordships' attitude was to attempt to keep a balance, so as to keep the workmen in subjection. In other words, he was saying that the only motive that underlay any refusal of this Bill was a desire to prevent children of the working classes from getting the best education possible. I indignantly repudiate that suggestion.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I am sure the noble and learned Viscount does not want to misquote me. I very particularly said that that had been the policy for generations past.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
Then so long as the noble Lord does not suggest that it is the policy of to-day I do not see its relevance to the present discussion. But the noble Lord was not satisfied in discussing the past. He was good enough to refer to me. I should not otherwise have thought it right to do so in this Assembly. The noble Lord told your Lordships that I had no sympathy for the average or under-average child by reason of the fact, as he was good enough to suggest, that I had had a successful public school career. I hope your Lordships will forgive me when I say that I have had at least as close an association with secondary education as any man in this House. Whatever honour I may ever achieve, there is nothing of which I am so proud as the fact that I am the son of my father, who founded technical educa- 1069 tion in London, to whom the Polytechnic, which is the biggest technical institute in England, is the brightest monument, and whose footsteps I have at least tried to follow ever since his death.
It is not because I have not sympathy with the average or under-average child that I oppose this Bill. I do not believe that this Bill sets about the education of the average or under-average child in the right way. Let me remind your Lordships what the position is. At present every child has to stay at school to the age of fourteen years, or "14 plus," as it is called. There is a provision by which scholarships are offered to children who show the ability to take advantage of them to pursue their studies, with maintenance allowances, in the secondary schools. A scholarship does not mean in this connection what it would mean to somebody who was educated at Eton or Harrow. There is not a small minority of people who get these scholarships and who require to be exceptionally brilliant. Today actually more than two-fifths of the total scholars in secondary schools are public elementary school children. There is an enormous number of these scholarships, which are given, in effect, to anyone who really shows average ability and a desire to pursue his studies. I am glad to think that, of the 3,300 children who every year pass from the secondary schools to the Universities, two-thirds are actually public elementary school children.
That being so, I would welcome, if the times were propitious, any reasonable extension of that method. There are, it seems to me, two ways in which you might rightly improve the educational facilities for older children. It is not true to say that every child of fourteen is of the same, or even approximately the same aptitude, capacity or development. There are some for whom intellectual progress is the right avenue. There are others who may be very dull intellectually, but who may show great aptitude in physical or manual skill. Not to attempt to differentiate between the two, to keep everybody in school until the age of fifteen, whether they are learning anything or not, or capable of learning or not, is a mistaken view of education. You do not improve the education of the whole, but you hinder the education of those who can take advantage of it.
1070 There are, in my opinion, two alternative ways in which the problem could be solved. The first, which I should prefer, is the method which says that any child of reasonable ability who shows that an extra year in school would be useful should have the opportunity, by means of a scholarship, of enjoying that extra year's education. The other possible alternative, which is even now a legal alternative, is that which says that there shall be a by-law or regulation that every child shall stay in school till he or she reaches the age of fifteen, with a provision that, if in any given case the local authority is satisfied that it is undesirable for a child to stay beyond fourteen, that authority may grant an exemption. In that way you ensure that all those to whom an extra year is of benefit shall enjoy it. As the noble Lord 'told us, there are at present five education authorities in the country who have adopted the latter method.
It is legal, as your Lordships know, under the existing law, for any local education authority, by by-law, to raise the school age to fifteen. Since out of 317 local authorities only five have done it, I begin by saying that it does not look as if this raising of the school age to fifteen is a very popular thing in the country, or as if most of the local education authorities think it very desirable. Your Lordships will remember that the school which does this has the right to grant a maintenance allowance throughout that time. Only five have in fact exercised that power. In the case of one of them, Bath, it has been done during the last twelve months, and no figures are available; but in the other fourCarnarvonshire, East Suffolk, Plymouth and Cornwall—they acted upon this right, and it is a remark able fact that in those four areas no fever than three-quarters of the children have left school, by virtue of exemptions, before they reached fifteen, and one-third have actually left school, with exemption, by the time they reached fourteen-and-a-quarter.
Now, you will appreciate that they cannot get exemption en bloc. There has to be an individual application made by the parents, and one knows how suspicious the parents of these children are of filling up forms and approaching the authorities. There has to be individual consideration of each case, and then exemption is granted or refused; and yet 1071 we find that the figures show that no fewer than three-quarters of them leave school before reaching the fifteen years age limit. In Cornwall, which is the largest in number, one finds that out of 3,284 children only 380 stayed until they were fifteen years of age. What does that indicate? In my view I venture to think it shows that a rigid rule, which says that every child has got to stay until it is fifteen years of age, and that no one in the world can ever let him or her out, however convenient from the point of view of bureaucracy, will be very inconvenient from the point of view of sound education; and that if you want to raise the school age you ought to have the power of exemption—a troublesome power, no doubt, because it involves considerable examination of the facts, and diligence and industry on the part of the local educational authority, but still a power which is invaluable in the interests of the child, because it ensures that only those shall stay for whom the extra year at school will be of more benefit than going home or into some form of industry.
On these grounds I think I am right in saying, first, that this Bill is an extravagant Bill; secondly, that it is a wasteful Bill; thirdly, that it is educationally unsound; and fourthly, that even if it be desirable it comes directly within the principle laid down less than a week ago, for our guidance, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and is a Bill which we cannot afford to pass.
I want to pass to one other topic, and that is the topic of the voluntary schools. Your Lordships will remember that in another place an Amendment was introduced against the Government, whereby it was provided that the Bill shall not take effect until some legislation has been passed which will deal with the costs of raising the age imposed upon the non-provided schools. The position, as your Lordships know, is that in this country more than half the schools are non-provided schools; that is to say, schools that have been provided by the generosity, self-sacrifice and religious fervour of members of religious denominations in this country. In these non-provided schools more than one-third of the total school population is being educated, to-day, and, as the noble Lord has told the House, the cost of reorganisation involved by the 1072 Hadow Report, which has gone on for three or four years and will go on for the five or six years to come, involves these schools in a crushing burden of expense. I understand that the cost to the Catholic schools will be £1,000,000, and the cost to the Church Schools must be many times that figure. The non-provided schools have said that it is not possible for them to provide this money, and that it is not right or just that the Government, which thinks it advisable in the public interest to reorganise the educational system in such a way as to involve this immense expenditure, should not give them assistance in finding the money required.
Let nobody say that I am inconsistent when I say that I am heartily in favour of that plea. It is not inconsistent with what I have said about the need for economy, for this reason. Under the existing law those children have to be educated. Somebody has to find for them these schools. It is impossible, it is unthinkable, that one-third of the children, because they are in non-provided schools, shall not be given the same education as is given to the other two-thirds who happen to be in provided schools. Therefore the cost of this reorganisation has somehow to be provided. If the denominational schools are unable to find the money themselves, then either the Government must come to their assistance or else the Government would have to take over these schools or replace them with provided schools, and either of those alternatives is far more expensive, and will cost far more to the public purse, than giving adequate financial assistance to the denominational schools of the country.
Therefore it is without hesitation that I say—and I speak not merely for myself but for all those who are of the same political persuasion—that we are convinced that the Government should assist the non-provided schools with regard to these costs of reorganisation. But those costs are incurred whether or not the school age is raised, and it is one thing to say, as has been said in another place, that if the school age is raised it shall not operate until the cost of raising it in the case of the non-provided schools is provided, and it is quite another thing to say that, although you do not think the school age ought to be raised, yet you 1073 are to agree to a Bill which raises it because it may in some way put pressure upon the Government to find the costs of reorganisation. The noble Lord said that it would make it infinitely more difficult to reach an agreement with regard to these costs if this subsection did not reach the Statute Book. It is a remarkable statement to make, because it is directly in the teeth of what his colleagues said in another place.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I do not think the interruption of the noble Lord alters my point. The Bill provides for raising the school age, and nobody can argue that that is going to make it easier to reach agreement. All that can be said is that if you have got in your Statute a provision that this Bill shall not operate until the costs are provided for, then you have got a kind of lever on the Government which compels them to reach reasonable legislation with regard to those costs. The President of the Board of Education said just the opposite. He said:—'If the school age were not raised at all the question would be nearly as important and nearly as acute. That is to say the question is not really part of this Bill … the next consideration is this … would this Amendment be the best way to advance a solution? On the contrary I am absolutely convinced that it would be fatal to the hopes of any sort of agreement.Yet the noble Lord comes down here and says it is only by reason of this clause and this Bill being on the Statute Book that agreement can be reached. The Prime Minister himself said:—We believed, and we still believe, that it would have been better if the Government had been left a free hand to negotiate. The Government will continue its negotiations, and we will do our best to overcome the difficulty that has been put in our way by the Amendment which has been carried.I suggest therefore that the Government should have the difficulty removed. If there is no Bill to raise the school age, and therefore necessarily no provision that it shall not operate until agreement is reached, they will be able to pursue their negotiations without being hampered by this difficulty, and they will be able, I hope and trust, to reach an equitable solution which will satisfy the various interests concerned. 1074 We are assured by the noble Lord that all parties have entered into consultation with a real desire to find a solution. I believe that, given good will, a solution can be found, and I, for my part, am quite prepared to give the Government an assurance that, if and when a solution is found, they will not find any difficulty thrown in the way of passing into law the legislation which is necessary to give it effect. But I do suggest to your Lordships that it would be a profound mistake, if you agree with me in thinking that this Bill is a bad Bill, is a Bill which ought not to be passed, is a Bill which imposes expenditure which we cannot afford—I do suggest to your Lordships that it would be a very wrong thing, and a very unwise thing, to pass that Bill into law, merely because it contains a provision that it shall not operate until an arrangement has been made as to the cost of carrying it into effect, and therefore because, forsooth, it will put some sort of pressure on the Government to reach that agreement, which they assure us that they earnestly desire to attain.
I venture to think that the case against the Bill is an unanswerable case, that the Bill itself is a bad Bill, and that, therefore, the Bill is one that ought not to be passed. The noble Lord indicated that this House would be taking on itself a very grave responsibility if it opposed what he suggested was the will of the people. In certain circumstances that is a very powerful argument. I think that this House ought to hesitate a very long time before it throws out a Bill which declares the expressed will of the people of this country. But I cannot forget that at the present moment we are living under a system whereby the one reason why the Government remain in power and in office is that it and its allies, the so-called Liberal Opposition, are so afraid of getting the voice of the country that they dare not face a General Election. And it is ridiculous for a Government, held in office by those means, only protected by votes gained from Liberals who enter into that sort of deal, to come and say that the Peers are putting themselves against the will of the people. It is not the Peers against the people; it is the Peers and the people against the Government; and I for one am not afraid of taking up that challenge.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, when I saw the Notice of the Amendment which has just been moved by the noble and learned Viscount, I most deeply regretted the course which he had seen fit to take. And though I have listened with very close attention and with very deep admiration to the speech which he has just delivered, my regret remains entirely undiminished. He took his text appropriately from that "rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories" who at present occupies the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is quite true that he cordially associated himself with the declarations made by the Chancellor. But it surely cannot be the fact that we are to consider such a conviction as binding us in advance with reference even to such courses of expenditure as may, not only in the long run, but even in the short run, very rapidly repay as much as is paid out. And that will be part of the case which I am about to submit to your Lordships.
But I wish especially to draw attention to the fact that the principle of this Bill is to be found in six lines of the text only. The principle of the Bill is the raising of the school age from fourteen to fifteen. Everything else is consequential and subsidiary. Therefore, if it is decided to reject the Bill upon Second Reading, the necessary inference is that this House is at this time not willing that the school age should be raised. Now, as I am going to venture to put before your Lordships a quite definite course of action, I will ask leave to turn first to the main subsidiary points. For I am by no means a wholehearted defender of this Bill as it stands. I agree with a great deal, though not with all, that was said by the noble and learned Viscount. I think that the clause dealing with maintenance grants is as it stands inadmissible, and I am inclined to think that the date fixed in the Bill is, from an educational point of view, too early.
How should we deal with the maintenance grants? Your Lordships will forgive me for saying a word or two upon this point, because I think it is just possible that it might affect the judgment of what we should do with re 1076 ference to the main principle of the Bill. What I should prefer would be to delete from this Bill all reference to maintenance grants whatsoever. Under the present law the local education authorities have power to give such maintenance grants at their complete discretion, without any limitation at all. I should leave them to act upon those powers. I cordially agree with the noble Lord who introduced the Bill that there will be very many cases in which maintenance grants are a, vital necessity. But the best judges of that are the local authorities, and they are also the best judges of the amount of maintenance that is required in any given case. The giving of flat rate maintenance, as the Bill proposes, seems to me radically wrong. Moreover, it seems to me educationally disastrous, because it will cut right across the provision now being made by most, possibly even by all, for aught I know, of the local authorities with reference to their secondary schools; and it will tend to draw away from secondary schools into the new central schools, of which the educational course will close at fifteen, a good many children who receive a secondary education. Therefore, it seems to me that that clause in its present shape is unfortunate and should be modified. I should prefer, indeed, that it were left out.
Section 24 of the principal Act, the Act of 1921, reads as follows—
The powers of a local education authority for elementary education shall include a power to aid by scholarships (which term includes allowances for maintenance) or bursaries the instruction in public elementary schools of scholars from the age of twleve up to the limit of age fixed by this Act for the provision of instruction in a public elementary school.
§ The provision for maintenance, I submit, is there already, and we can quite well leave it there. But if that were felt to be unsatisfactory, it would be possible to adopt the recommendations made by the Committee appointed by the Government themselves for dealing with this matter. If such a course were taken a considerable part, probably the greater part, of the expense of the Bill would be thereby removed, as the whole of it would be removed from the national Exchequer. Then again, by postponement to the date which, on the whole, the local education 1077 authorities prefer, we should deal with the greater part of the problem of that "bulge," as it is technically called, to which the noble and learned Viscount alluded. I should be willing, if necessary, even to agree to a later date, because I believe that we should do well in this country to form a habit of legislating in these matters very well in advance of the time when our legislation is to take effect. We very commonly put enactments upon the Statute Book with a date for their coming into operation which makes it impossible to provide for their efficient operation when the time comes.
§ Suppose those two things were done, I should have one other suggestion to make to this House concerning a subject to which I must return later—namely, that the House should insert in the text of the Bill, as would be possible for it I am well advised, the terms of the concordat, whatever that might be, in the completest agreement that could be reached with reference to the grants that would be made to non-provided schools to meet the cost both of reorganisation and the raising of the age. I have heard it suggested that if that concordat were already in the Bill in place of a mere declaration that some concordat shall be reached and enacted before the Bill comes into operation, some of your Lordships who now feel hostile to the Bill would find your judgment very greatly affected. I suggest that we should, in fact, put it into the Bill ourselves.
§ Envisaging such a possible course of action on the Committee stage, I turn to the principle of the Bill itself. I cannot suppose that any member of your Lordships' House seriously doubts the desirability of retaining children of 14 and up to 15 and even longer under educational influence. The noble and learned Viscount said, very truly, that children differ very much in capacity, and that it was a positive benefit to the slower-witted children to call upon them to enter at once upon some other sort of occupation than that which could be provided in school. I have been a headmaster, and I was never thanked by any parent whose son I superannuated. It never occurred to me that I was conferring a benefit upon that youth by insisting that he should cease from intellectual pursuits. Indeed, I did not 1078 superannuate him with the object of conferring any benefit. As far as I knew, I was inflicting an injury upon him lest he should retard the progress of others. It was never for his sake that I turned out of the school any single boy.
§ If we will keep in our minds the children of whom we are thinking, it is hardly conceivable that we should doubt that it is at least in general desirable, if it shall prove practicable, to keep them under educational influence. Mr. Fisher, when President of the Board of Education, in introducing his great Act of 1918, laid down the maxim that every citizen until the age of 18 should be regarded as primarily the subject of education rather than primarily a factor in industry. I welcomed his announcement of that quite admirable phrase because I had given it to him myself a few days before in his room at the Board of Education. Can we seriously doubt, as we think about the schools to which we ourselves owe so much, that it is desirable, if it shall be practicable, that everyone shall be under some kind of educational influence not only until 15 but, if it may be so, at least until 18, right through the period of adolescence? That education must be gradually varied. It will become necessary for us to develop a greater multiplicity of types in the higher standards of these schools. More has been done already in this respect than is very commonly appreciated, but it would be necessary to press this forward to a far greater extent than it has yet gone. I should like to see the adoption of some scheme by which the local education authorities and the representative of certain great industries would lay plans together by which something resembling an apprenticeship might be undertaken within the industries but under the supervision of the local education authorities. That is not an idle dream, for it is already being done in certain great cities.
§ There are great varieties of possibilities regarding the kind of education which may be given to these older children when the age limit is raised. But it is vain to call upon the local authorities, who are over-pressed, as a rule, with the business they have to discharge, to devise schemes in the air to meet the needs of children who may or may not come under 1079 their supervision. We shall get this kind of development when we have raised the age limit and keep the children in the schools. We shall not get it before. To say, therefore, that it will be mere waste to keep children at school doing what they are doing now is an argument entirely beside the point.
§ With regard to the main principle, if we consider the matter with any wide interpretation of the term economy, the age of fourteen is the most uneconomic possible unless, perhaps, thirteen would be worse. We are not getting the return on the expenditure which is made upon children up to the age of fourteen. That return begins to come in the year following fourteen, broadly speaking, and the year from fourteen to fifteen would show an immense return in the development of capacity for the expenditure not only upon that year but upon all the years preceding, of the benefit of which the country is at present deprived. By the age of fourteen we have taught people to read. We have not begun to cultivate taste; it cannot be done. Whether it is a public service to teach people to read without any cultivation of taste I leave those to determine who are most acquainted with the cheaper sections of the Press. If it is true, as many think, that the greatest of our social and political perils at present consist in the cheap newspaper, the root of that peril is the limited education of the population. If they had had none they could not have read those papers; if they had more they would not read them. As it is, we have condemned them to be the victims of that kind of influence.
§ Moreover, as the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading pointed out, this increase of the school age to fifteen is an integral part of the Hadow scheme which is already being put in practice. It is possible, no doubt, to do something with a school in which the pupils remain for three years only; but that is not long enough for the establishment of any real corporate life. A fourth year will make an immense difference in that respect and it was for the sake of the corporate life of the school quite as much as for any purely intellectual advantage, that the Hadow Report advocated the break at the age of eleven. It is not possible to combine in one effective society children below and much above that age. Neither 1080 is it possible to make an effective society out of a school whose members have only three years in which to make one another's acquaintance. It would not be possible, therefore, to lower the age from eleven to ten in order to get your four years, and if the age remains at eleven you need the extra year in order to make the scheme effective in the aim which it has before it.
§ No one in your Lordships' House will doubt that the most precious capital a nation has consists in the brains and the character of its people. To me it seems astonishingly rash and even reckless to take a measure designed to further the development of that capital as the first step in a campaign for economy. Behind all this there is something to which I must recur before I conclude—that hope of all social reformers, whatever their political Party, that we may go steadily forward in reducing the breaches in our society, the further cementing of its true fellowship throughout all the occupations in which men are engaged. But in fact, of course, there is no breach of human fellowship so great as that between the educated and the uneducated, and therefore, upon this hope of fuller education for the great masses of the people, have been centred the aspirations of all those who have cared most for social progress, and that not only in one Party but in all. So, then, it is not regarding this Bill as in principle unsound but as offering an opportunity for something that lies outside its scope, that I am urging that your Lordships may still be willing to give it a Second Reading, however drastically you treat it in Committee.
§ Of course, the incidental interests of the matter weigh with me very greatly. The noble and learned Viscount spoke with great sympathy of the problem of the non-provided schools, and it has been the tradition of this House to extend that sympathy to all reasonable and just claims of the non-provided schools; but, if I may retort upon him some words once used in this House by the late Lord Salisbury to my father, I would say that the noble and learned Viscount may very kindly say what he likes but it is what he does that matters to me. He suggests that this concordat may still be carried into effect even if the Bill is lost, and that because two members of the Government have publicly 1081 recognised the fact that the main occasion for aiming at a concordat is to be found in the reorganisation under the Hadow Report rather than in the raising of the school age. But if he supposes that the Government are going to press forward a measure for which there is reasonable ground, even though it is one in which their own Party takes comparatively little interest, he is, much to my surprise, attributing to them a political morality far above the average of Parties. The Government will no doubt appreciate the compliment.
§ We notice the fact that the Scare Amendment, so-called, was carried largely by the votes of the present Opposition. Those of us who care for the non-provided schools are grateful to them for their support of that Amendment. We know perfectly well that the bulk of the Parties which support the present Government are willing for grants to be made, under conditions, to non-provided schools as part of the price for securing the raising of the school age, but they are quite indifferent to the question otherwise, and I cannot conceive that there is the smallest hope of our obtaining that great benefit if this Bill is entirely rejected.
§ I wonder if your Lordships realise quite how close to agreement we had really come. The Parties to this concordat who have partly reached agreement, are the Board of Education, the local education authorities, the representatives of the teachers, the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans. The Free Churchmen have not reached complete agreement, but they have, in two documents which are in my hand, explained their attitude, and if any of your Lordships will examine the terms on which they have expressed their readiness to acquiesce—it would be no more than that—in the making of grants to non-provided schools, you would see that far the greater part of their conditions are those which are already in the concordat. I am perfectly convinced that they could not, on the small outstanding points, raise in the country any effective opposition when we have come so near agreement, even though it is not quite reached. I am confident that the Free Churches would, in much of their membership, be unwilling to attempt—and in any attempt they would certainly 1082 fail—to raise strong opposition among the citizens of the country generally.
§ We have here a chance both for justice, as we believe, and for a move forward towards genuine agreement and settlement of that age-long hindrance to educational advance which has been given by the religious controversy in the past. For myself I have no doubt at all that the provisions of this agreement would go very far, if they were once enacted, to heal this long-standing feud. I do not know, for example, whether your Lordships fully grasped the significance of the provision in that agreement that in all single-school areas, whether they are otherwise affected by the schemes or not, there shall be religious teaching provided according to an agreed syllabus such as is in use in the council schools of the area. There are many of us who have for a long time past urged that upon the managers of Church schools at any rate as an act of justice to Free Churchmen within those areas, but I wonder if your Lordships realise the amount of concession that is embodied in putting that provision into an actual Statute. I certainly think—and the noble and learned Viscount very fully recognised on his part—that the Anglican representatives have gone very far in their effort to make a settlement of this matter. But my point is that we have come so near success that I do not believe the failure, such as still remains, could be any hindrance to carrying this agreement into law if only the main measure with which this hope is bound up is also passed.
§ On the other hand, what happens if that settlement is lost? First, there is no doubt a great injury done to the non-provided schools. They were built according to the requirements made by the State at the date of their building. They have been in the past often modified to meet new requirements of the State, and yet now they will be found wanting because the whole scheme of education is being modified, and those who have made great sacrifices to provide what the State demanded, according to its requirements at the time, will find those sacrifices almost thrown away, because they are not in these hard times able to meet entirely new demands which the State now puts upon them. That is a great unfairness to them. They will 1083 not surrender easily. They will make a prolonged effort to come just up to the mark, and, while they are making that effort, they will hold back the process of reorganisation inevitably; and, partly through their holding back the process, and partly through the fact that all they can do is to come just up to the mark, the children are going to suffer. And in the end they will mainly fail—and that end is not so very far off—and then the country will be faced with the very heavy additional expenditure to which the noble and learned Viscount has already alluded in the replacing of the present non-provided schools. Now, when you take the possibility of that cost into account, and realise that it may be entirely avoided if this Bill is carried, then I say that this Bill, with that provision in it, in the long run and even in the fairly short run, becomes something much more like economy than an extra piece of expenditure, because it is the saving of so great an expenditure which would otherwise be quite inevitable.
§ I have only one other point that I wish to submit to this House. The principle of the Bill, I have submitted, on which the Second Reading decision would naturally turn, is that of raising the age only. This raising of the school age has been the goal of that section in the Labour movement which is most influenced by idealism, and has most respect for constitutional procedure. I cannot help thinking that it would be disastrous if this House—itself the natural guardian of certain of our greatest national interests—should by its vote on this Bill set itself in antagonism to that section of the whole Labour movement, a movement not to be found in one Party but expressing itself often through all the Parties in the State. I would beg, therefore, that the House will at least carefully consider the method of dealing with the matter which I have ventured to lay before your Lordships and not, in the interests of an economy which is certainly not great and may in the end turn out to be non-existent, throw away those high hopes which find partly their expression and partly their occasion in this Bill.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, with a great deal that has been said by the most rev. Prelate I agree, but I have come 1084 to the conclusion that the concordat to which he has referred is more likely to take place without this Bill than under the provisions of this Bill. Twenty years ago, when I was appointed President of the Board of Education, religious controversy was very rife. Mr. McKenna, Mr. Birrell and Mr. Runciman had each of them introduced a Bill to try to deal with this religious controversy, and I came to the conclusion when I entered office that it would be far better to give a close time to religious controversy and to try to get on with education. It seems to me very unfortunate that, owing to the way in which this Bill has been introduced, there is a possibility of that religious controversy being again raised, to the prejudice of education. This Education Bill when it was introduced was not introduced merely as an attempt to raise the school age by one year. Sir Charles Trevelyan, in introducing it in another place, introduced it as an effective contribution to unemployment, and he said that he confidently offered "this great change as an effective contribution" to that great problem, and he referred to unemployment as a "supremely important reason for adopting the proposed date." The date subsequently was postponed, and we have the unique position of there being now no date whatsoever in the Bill. It is dependent upon a date hereafter to be fixed on the passage of some Bill about which we have no knowledge of what its provisions may contain.
Local education authorities have never been put in such an impossible position in regard to their schemes and their expenditure as this Bill would place them in, in the event of its being passed into law. I would ask your Lordships whether the proposals contained in this Bill are really going to meet the educational needs of the country. Those with whom I have been associated have never objected to the extension of the school age when there was any demand for it, and I myself am glad to do anything I can to press forward longer attendance at the elementary schools of this country or under the group system recommended by the Hadow Committee. But the Bill as it reaches us contains what seems to me nothing less than a maintenance bribe—a mere gesture on the part of a Party to try to overcome the repugnance of the great majority of parents to being 1085 compelled to keep their children at elementary schools after they reach the age of fourteen.
With the proposal that there should be facilities for extending the school age, I am in full sympathy, but I am entirely opposed to the proposal that there should be compulsion without exemption. We have a good deal of experience already as to the extent to which there is a demand for this extension. Only five authorities, the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said, agreed to try to secure an extension. The result of that extension has been that in Cornwall and Carnarvon there has been a certain number of children who attend these schools after the age of fourteen. In Cornwall there are 384 out of 3,353. That does not look very much as if Cornish people wanted their children to remain at school after the age of fourteen. In Carnarvon, where there was a maintenance grant given to the parents in connection with attendance at school, only 531 out of 919 remained after the age of fourteen. The Act of 1918 was an optional measure, and, in the event of a Second Reading being given to this Bill, I shall endeavour to secure much greater liberty to local education authorities to exempt children, and to parents to take Children away from school, after the age of fourteen, when circumstances justify such an exemption.
What is the experience of other countries? The experience of other countries is entirely against the views that were expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. In Canada, there is a general extension of the school age beyond fourteen, but in three Provinces exemptions begin at the age of twelve. In Ontario they have a general attendance up to fourteen and then they have to attend 400 hours daring the course of the year. In South Africa, all Provinces allow exemption on reaching certain educational standards. In the United States of America, out of 49 States, 31 fix the educational age at sixteen but in every case there are exemptions after the age of fourteen. There is a great. variety in the States of America, but in every State exemptions are permitted. Though the United States as a whole keep their children longer at school, one-third of the children are exempted after reaching 1086 the age of fourteen. In Europe, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark are the only three countries where children are required to attend school after the age of fourteen.
The experience of all those countries, without any exception, is diametrically opposed to the compulsion which Lord Ponsonby suggested should be imposed upon the children in this country. He alluded to the fact that he and his Party did not want to see children employed in the fields of this country between the ages of fourteen and fifteen. The experience of all other countries is that exemption at certain times of the year is really beneficial to the health of the children, that they obtain instruction and education of a practical nature, and that they return to their schools after these exempted periods with increased zeal. We should be opposing the universal experience of all these countries as well as our own if we were to deny the children and their parents some exemption from the compulsion which is suggested in the provisions of this Bill.
I come to another point. Those of us who occasionally read the Scottish railway time-tables have realised that some of the less slow trains sometimes pass stations, and any individual who wants to get on or off such trains has to give what is called in the time-table, "timeous notice." No such thing as "timeous notice" is given to the local authorities under the present Bill. They are going to be compelled to make provision for their pupils without adequate time, even if September, 1932, is the date on which the Bill will come into effect. Manchester, the West Riding of Yorkshire and Derbyshire are typical education authorities, in advance of a great number of other local education authorities. The West Riding and Manchester admit that they cannot possibly meet the requirements of this Bill under six years. In regard to Derbyshire, I read a letter to The Times from Mr. FitzHerbert Wright in which he said that it would mean that 8,500 additional pupils would be compelled to attend over the age of fourteen, and this would require the building of fifty-eight new schools, quite apart from the number of additional classrooms it would require, and would cost the county £85,0,000. He said that he regarded the proposals as an ill-considered paper re- 1087 form. To enable such a change to be made effectively, the alteration of classrooms is necessary as well as additional buildings. We have also to consider seating accommodation and the adaptation of the curriculum to meet the varying capacities and aptitudes of the children.
One or two words have been said to-night by previous speakers about mentally deficient children. Is there not a big field for education in connection with the mentally deficient? The noble Lord, in introducing this Bill, has said that all children over fourteen are to be compelled to attend. That includes 105,000 mentally deficient children who are compelled to attend elementary schools at the present time. Over 16,000 of them are in special schools, but 89,000 go to the ordinary schools and are merely a drag upon the education of their fellows in the classes which they attend. In addition to that, there are from 300,000 to 500,000, according to Sir George Newman, who are dull and backward. Is it necessary that all these children should be compelled to attend after fourteen? Are they going to get the advantages which the Hadow Committee expect in the grouping of classes between eleven and fifteen? Surely some other system of education is better fitted for many of these children, if we are going to get full value for our money.
The Bill fails, in my opinion, because it ignores the directions in which money can be best spent. I would venture to point out the directions in which our attempts at progress ought to be directed, rather than by these particular proposals. We want more separate classes, in order that the children may be better educated, and more classes adapted to meet the needs of quick, slow and defective children. We want fewer children attending the classes. When I was at the Board of Education I was so dissatisfied with one local education authority in having such enormous classes under one teacher that I fined them to the extent of £10,000, brought them very quickly to heel and produced a great improvement in the reduction of the size of the classes which the teachers had to instruct. But there are still an enormous number of large classes of over fifty children, and it is quite impossible for a teacher to do justice to his class if he has fifty or sixty pupils under him. A great 1088 is needed in the way of increasing the number of classes and the number of teachers, in order that we may get full value for our money.
Then we have to consider the quality of the teaching. We have 32,000 uncertificated teachers teaching in our elementary schools at present, and we have 7,700 supplementary teachers, all women, who are uncertificated, and many of whom are not really very competent to teach in our schools. That is a direction in which local authorities are at work in trying to improve the position. If their attention is going to be diverted by the provisions of this Bill, these matters must unfortunately go to the wall. Then there is the question of training colleges. There are not nearly enough of these, and many local education authorities have none at all. Even to-day the output of properly certificated teachers is not anything like the number required. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, alluded to this point in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. He pointed out that it was quite impossible to expect adequate results from the teachers coming into the schools if they were not properly trained and educated. Lord Ponsonby said that we should get 1,000 former women teachers who had been pensioned off. What is the use of women who have left teaching for years coming back into the schools to teach children between fourteen and fifteen? They have no experience whatever of this work, and there is really not much use in bringing teachers of that kind back, just because you have not properly qualified and certificated teachers. There is a lot to be done in the way of providing properly certificated teachers in the schools.
A greal deal more could be done, also, by spending money, if it has to be spent, in securing better health for the younger children. If you can only do that which the Hadow Report recommends in connection with the younger children, it means that in after years they will have much better opportunities in life than are now provided for them. I should like to read one paragraph from the Report. It says that the primary object of the classification of children from four to elevenmust be to aid children, while they are children, to be healthy, and, so far as is possible, to be happy children, vigorous 1089 in body and lively in mind, in order that later, as with widening experience they grow towards maturity, the knowledge which life demands may more easily be mastered and the necessary accomplishments more readily acquired.They make recommendations not only as to the curriculum but as to an entirely different attitude toward securing the health of the children, so that we may get better benefit, and when. I was on the Board I took a great deal of trouble to try to get the mothers to understand the proper care of the health of their children. I had with me at that time the present Permanent Secretary of the Board of Health, and we did everything we could to see that money was not wasted in the schools owing to the health of the children being such as not to allow them to understand what they were taught. The local education authorities are very busy in this direction, and if their efforts are to be diverted to children over fourteen I am afraid that attention which ought to be paid to the younger children will go to the wall.
Then I would like to say something on the maintenance grant. I do not know whether your Lordships will remember that the trade union leaders a short time ago drafted, I understand, a policy which was really opposed to these cash payments for maintenance. A report, at any rate, was presented to the Trade Union Congress, in which these words occur:—Such funds as are available would achieve far mole valuable results in the form of improved health, education and other conditions of well-being for the children if expended in developing the social services than in cash payments.If this sort of payment was regarded as excessive, and not in the best interests of the working classes which they represent, it does not seem to me that there is any justification for these grants being imposed which are imposed under the provisions of this Bill.
I had wished to say one word with regard to the expenditure which this Bill involves, but Lord Hailsham has dealt so fully and ably with that matter that all I need say in summing up my views is that the Government, as they have presented this Bill to the House, have not realised even the value of their own figures as indicated in the Parliamentary White Paper. That Paper shows that the maintenance grant would be 1090 £5,500,000, that Scotland's share is £1,350,000; that the increased cost of schooling would gradually rise to £2,500,000, although, of course, the children are in greater number in 1935 than in 1938; that the Scottish estimate is £150,000 short of what it will be in Scotland, and that £9,500,000 is the total according to Government figures; but when I look at the additional teachers required, and I find that 180 local educational authorities estimate that 8,504 more teachers would be required, a proportion sum, seeing that there are 31s local education authorities and that only 180 have sent in returns, would seem to show that about 15,000 more teachers are required if we are going to meet the necessities under the provisions of this Bill. That would mean an increased expenditure of £1,375,000. When you add the maintenance grant of;£6,000,000, the schooling grant, which Lord Hails-ham proved was quite inadequate at £2,500,000 and must be £6,000,000, and you allow for the consequential increase in training colleges required, reorganisation, the normal increase which always goes on in educational expenditure, and the fact that the older children will require more expensive education than the younger ones, and add another,£1,500,000 for that, it brings you up to a figure of £15,000,000.
Is this the time for spending more money? We have got £90,000,000 more to find in respect of the insolvent condition of the Unemployed Insurance Fund we have £385,000,000 to find in connection with War Debts; we have £395,000,000 to provide for social services; our National Budget is now £850,000,000. Surely this is not the time to waste money to the extent of £15,000,000 a year for an educational system which is purely speculative, when there are many better ways in which we can advance education. The expenditure of local education authorities has gone up enormously. When I left the Board of Education before the War their expenditure was £30,000,000 a year. The estimate for the current year is £82,000,000, without the £15,000,000 added, and although I am quite prepared to give to the President of the Board of Trade every credit for good intentions in trying to advance the age of school children, yet it seems to me that his proposals are not only extrava- 1091 gant but they are not justified, and we should be wrong in passing this Bill in its present form.
If the Bill receives a Second Reading I shall be glad to move Amendments in certain directions to improve it, but the Bill in my judgment diverts work which is being undertaken by the local education authorities. It withdraws the support which hitherto has been given fur local authorities to deal with education in their own districts as they wish to deal with it and are capable of dealing with it. It reopens once again religious controversy, and it has not even the merit of really helping the poor forward in their education. It is extravagant and it is wasteful, and, anxious as I am to forward education in every way, in the present condition of the Bill I cannot see my way to support it.
§ LORD NOEL-BUXTON
My Lords, the most rev. Prelate said that those who believed in raising the school age will not vote for the rejection of the Bill on the ground of detail. The principle of the Bill is supported in all quarters of this House, by no means in quarters limited to one Party, and let me suggest that those who vote for the rejection of the Bill will in fact be voting against views which they commonly hold and express when they are not talking of the education question as a political one. Let me illustrate from some familiar examples. Take the industrial question as involved in the Bill. Whatever we think about education we all agree as to the imperative need for industrial success, but we forget again and again the economic loss which arises from defects in our national education. I will take an example from an industry which most of us in this House are deeply interested in—agriculture. Agriculture suffers from many handicaps, but one of its most serious troubles is our backwardness in this country in the use of machinery, and a very distinct chance of improvement in agricultural profits is affected by our defects. The English farmers, often as they may rail against education at large, commonly complain, at least in arable districts, that they cannot use economic improvements in machinery because they cannot get men to work machines; for instance, tractors.
Now, why is it that they cannot get men? Tractors have not come into use 1092 in this country as they have on the Continent and in the Dominions. To put it in another form, why are the young fellows in the country not trained to the use of machines? I listened to a very interesting discussion at one of the county rural community councils on the reasons why young men are leaving the villages. The best boys leave, and yet the farmers want trained boys of intelligence who can work machines. The reason the experts gave at this conference was, indeed, obvious. The best boys leave because there are not training classes to which they can resort in the country, and the reason for that is that the boys leave school too early to be fitted for attending training classes. Classes, therefore, are not formed, and the supply of mechanics goes to the town instead of to the country. And there is 'no solution of that anomaly except in better and longer education.
Then, take the trouble of the competition of foreign agricultural products. Every day the disadvantage of this country in its lack of standardisation and marketing is dwelt upon. In bacon, in eggs, in flowers, in a dozen trades we suffer from the better organisation of the foreign producers, and I have been to parts of the Continent where organisation is high, in order to see what lessons we could learn for introduction into our own agriculture and higher standardisation. I have been among the arable farmers near Cologne and among the wine growers higher up the Rhine and seen how they carry out their high organisation. I expected to find that our defect was in lack of the co-operative spirit, but a- far greater difference exists between them and us in the fact of their much higher education. And whatever cooperative spirit existed among, let us say, our small farmers, it would be useless without a very much higher education corresponding to the amazing level of education in those parts where organisation is high on the Continent, leading to improvements and methods which would be impossible here solely for lack of the educational standard.
Take also the competition of foreign manufacturers. We commonly put it down to the high wages of this country, constituting a handicap which makes possible the admission of foreign goods at a lower figure. But what about American competition? There von have a conspicuous 1093 case of enormously high wages, and at the same time in many American States a very high educational age, in some eases up to sixteen years and more. The secret of rationalisation and cheaper production is mainly accounted for in the case of America by higher education. When the Hadow Committee was enquiring evidence was given by the representatives of many trades that they were suffering in a direct way from the inadequate schooling that was accessible to boys; and in the case, for instance, of the chemical trades, the boot and shoe trades, and others, they definitely advocated longer school years. If these facts are true, and they surely are admitted, the argument from the cost of the Bill is irrelevant. In the light of them, education is not a luxury, but an investment. If it is a luxurious expense, the noble and learned Viscount who proposes the rejection might advocate very rationally a reduction of the age and a reduction of the outlay that we spend already on education. But we all know that if we reduce the education that we pay for now, we should lose more than we should save.
Expense is attacked very often in common parlance on the ground that our education is extravagant, but when we consider that it does not amount to an average of more than £12 a head, it surely must suggest to many noble Lords that it would make our mouths water to think of such a cost when we reflect on the expense that we lavish on the education of our own sons. Nobody can say that the level of educational expense amounts to an extravagance considering what we get from it. Undoubtedly, the sixty years of general education that we have enjoyed up to now are a main cause why we have been enabled to do the great export trade that we have done. We should have been poorer without it. Economy would have been penny wise and pound foolish.
But take, again, some familiar and general views, not on the industrial but on the strictly educational side—on the social gain to personality, the human gain of education—a factor of greater importance than bread and butter. I submit that the view of us all leads to support of better education than we are providing now. Which of us would dream of withdrawing a boy of our own at fourteen, or even at fifteen, from edu- 1094 cation if we could help it? Well, but (the opponents argue) that boy is designed for a different kind of work from the boy in the elementary school. But, if we reflect, it is not on the ground of designing a boy for different work that we hold the view that he should stay longer at school; it is because we know perfectly well that his interests and powers have not yet developed. We constantly see what an extraordinarily interesting thing it is, the sudden development that takes place in a boy's mind. At fourteen sometimes, but very often later, at fifteen or even sixteen, he develops energy and interest and originality, and if we thwarted that development we should obviously be losing what is the greatest thing in the world, a high level of personality.
Many of your Lordships are familiar with the habit of certain trees and shrubs of standing still in their early days, and suddenly making a rapid growth when we have begun to despair of their being a success; and it seems to me that boys are constantly like a yew or a holly or an ilex, which very often will stand still for several years together, and if you rooted it up in disappointment, you would be throwing away all your previous expense and work which are just about, in reality, to bear fruit. If you stop education in the same way, you have wasted the cost of the education you have given to a boy hitherto. To take the working boy, if the argument from our own practice is not convincing, are we not constantly criticising the workers, especially the young ones, for the non-success of the education we have given them and their inability sometimes in country life to read or write at the age of possibly eighteen or nineteen? Consequently, we hear the reflection that education is no good and that money has been wasted on those boys. But in many cases, perhaps in 90 per cent. of them, it is really the fact that a boy has been taken from school at an age when he has not yet developed any interest in reading, and that has inevitably led to his forgetting all that he learned during the previous years. In fact, you have in that case wasted the eight years of labour and expense that you have devoted to the boy for the sake of one year more at the end of the period.
1095 You hear, again, how improvident and irresponsible the workers are in many cases with all the education we give them. Your Lordships must be familiar with the kind of boy who applies for a job in the garden, who has given up some steady post for a temporary chance of earning higher wages and then, having been thrown out of that job, is on his beam ends and has made a mess of his career. Very frequently a village boy has taken some precarious town job for the sake of the higher wage. What are we to put this down to? It is, surely, the non-development of the faculty of foresight which has been the ruin of that boy's career. But would we expect any boys of our own acquaintance even to have judgment enough to know what caution to exercise in securing the future against the immediate gain of the present? The boy's life then becomes irregular and life is reduced to a gamble. If you ask those who are members of voluntary committees in connection with juvenile labour exchanges, you will hear that in a vast number of cases most pathetic histories are revealed of boys who, simply from their early age coupled with their eagerness to seize upon employment, have made shipwrecks of their lives in two or three years. This point was very well expressed in a recent number of the School Guardian:—Education, if it means anything, means the habit of self-direction. Should unemployment follow, the habit of self-direction becomes difficult. Given an extra year and the crisis of puberty past, the probability of a stable personality is greatly increased.Such a question is not merely an economic one but a moral one in a high degree, and the development of character needs a life of order. Character disintegrates through irregular life, notably through such a thing as unemployment. Before adolescence, you cannot expect a boy to be qualified to employ himself in the crisis that unemployment means. So you have in thousands of cases personalities shipwrecked that might have been fine; and what greater disaster can there be than that? On the top of this, the crisis of sex-development intervenes about the same time, and if you have not put the coping stone on the edifice of the boy's education, you lose all that has been gained. If noble Lords agree that such dangers inevitably result from driving 1096 a boy from school at fourteen, they are in line with the conclusions of the Hadow Committee. The Hadow Committee did not represent a Party view. It is not surprising, indeed, that the manifesto of the Conservative Party, on the eve of the last Election, practically committed that Party to the raising of the school age to fifteen. If I am right that views of the kind I have described are held by us all, it would only he consistent if those who agree with the conclusions of the Hadow Report were logically to support the Bill.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I think it would clear the air if we swept aside all Committee points. I am enormously in agreement with my noble and learned friend opposite, and with nothing in the world do I agree more than with what he said about the state of the finances of the country. If this Bill was given a Second Reading it would be easy enough for your Lordships to amend it, if you thought it right, so as to postpone the appointed day until a certain year and to deal with the money point in that way. With regard to maintenance I believe that the most rev. Prelate is right, and I am not prepared to assent to a flat rate of 5s. at all. It is perfectly clear that the local authorities already have power to deal with the matter in a great many cases, and if the noble and learned Viscount opposite chooses to put down an Amendment to that effect I think he will find some support from the Episcopal Benches. As to the idea that it will be a waste of time to keep a boy at school until he is fifteen or, as Punch put it, that a boy should say "I am not going to have another helping of that dope," the whole thing depends on the understanding that this new education is to be of a totally different character. I must say that I could not agree with the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of the Bill when he talked of bringing old teachers in to help. It is young, new, educated people that we want or it will be no good having this extension at all. It is no good bringing in old pensioned-off teachers to fill up the gaps. As for the other points, they are all points which can be dealt with in Committee.
I have such a respect for my noble and learned friend that I always feel myself trembling, so to speak, when I oppose 1097 him. But there was one thing which fell limn him which went to the root of the whole matter. He said that America and Germany are going ahead of us. Exactly. Why? I was a year and a half in Germany, and two or three years ago I addressed twenty-two Universities in America. There is not the slightest doubt that both of those nations are better educated than our nation. When my noble and learned friend mentioned his splendid father, I wondered whether he would agree that it would have been a grand thing for him and the Polytechnic now if we had a hundred Polytechnics instead of one, with a proportionate increase in the material help that used to be afforded to his father in his splendid efforts for education. I can only say, after living at Bethnal Green for nine dears before I became a Bishop, I could see what could be done by educating these boys. When we took them up, after they were sent out of school, they did well. I remember in particular six special cases, called "the noble six." As the noble Lord behind me said, they came from the schools at the age of fourteen, and we gradually woke them up. They learnt music, Shakespeare, the Bible, the violin—there was nothing they could not do when a chance was given to them to develop themselves.
Therefore, in regard in the first point, would implore noble Lords opposite not to defeat the Second Reading of this Bill. Without it the Church cannot make up what would be required. The Church has been the advocate of education for hundreds of years. If you go back into the history of the matter you will find that there has always been a Church Council in Europe which has said: "Let have paid no less than £10,000 a week for schools be established here, let schools be established there." In England we 130 years for the education of the poor. Therefore I maintain that the record of our Church in the matter of education is a great one. The Church has educated the people of this country for years. The Church was the pioneer of education for centuries.
Coming to my second point—that is the position of the voluntary schools—I am going to say something that I have been burning to say for years, and that is that all Parties combined have been most illogical in dealing with the whole 1098 question of the voluntary schools. My own belief is that the State has no right to say anything except: "Here is this citizen, properly educate him, whether he be Roman Catholic, Church of England or Wesleyan." This doling out here and doling out there is against every liberal principle. Why should I, for instance, have to raise this last year, with forty-five churches to build as well, £14,000 for one school and £10,000 for another, when it is for the good of the State and for the good of the country? Even now I consider we are treated with great injustice when it comes to asking us—and I am bound to say it was not the Government, but the minority of forty religious people who forced them to it—to bear all this expense in order to make these schools fit for the education that will have to be given. I say it is a monstrous proposal. Therefore, on the ground of justice to voluntary schools, I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
The Conservatives may say: "Wait till we come in; we will see that put all right." Are we quite certain about that? Are we quite certain that they will bring in a new Education Bill? I have been a member of this House for thirty years, and I have walked so often in and out of the Lobbies of this House that I must have covered a space equal to that of a moderate-sized golf course. I am tired of it. If the Conservatives came in with perhaps a small majority over the two Parties, are they going to take up this burden again? I doubt it. When the Liberals were in power Mr. Fisher was splendid, but he could not carry all he wanted. A bird in hand is worth anything in the bush. In this Bill we have at any rate the rudiments of justice towards us. Something is given to us which we do not want to lose. If this Bill is rejected on Second Reading we do not know whether anything at all will be given to us.
I have two other reasons to urge. The first was mentioned by the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York, who spoke of the good spirit which was being fostered among all the Churches. I deeply regret the absence, for a cause with which all your Lordships are familiar, of the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury from this debate. It is largely as a result of his efforts and those of the Archbishop of 1099 York that this growing feeling of friend-liness among the Churches has been fostered. It has come about just at the critical moment. What I believe—and many others agree with me—is that if we lose this opportunity it may never come again. It is not true that this Bill is going to make it easier for us. It is going to make it harder. If we do not seize this opportunity, this really beautiful feeling which there is at the moment between all the religious bodies may go and may never come back again.
Education is a joy. I was one of a family of ten, and my dear father almost ruined himself in giving us all a good education. H said with a smile: "Boys, you are ruining me." There were six of us at public schools or University at the same time. I am thankful for the education that was given. What a delight it is to be able to spend a quiet evening reading Trevelyan on Queen Anne and revelling in it. What I have received I want to pass on to all the poor boys and the poor girls of this country, the joy of being educated people, quite apart from whether it is going to pay, of being able to enjoy literature, and to read poetry with pleasure. It is for that reason, and that reason perhaps most of all, that I implore your Lordships on the opposite Benches to give this Bill a Second Reading and then amend it in any way that you can.
§ Loan CLWYD
My Lords, at this late hour I will not detain you more than a very few minutes, but as the views which I hold are held only by very few in this House—I speak as a Free Churchman—I am sure the House will listen to me for a few minutes while I explain my position in regard to this Bill. I think all will agree that the views of the Free Churchmen of this country are sincerely held. It will also be agreed that the views which they have on the education question have played a considerable part in the development of our educational system. We are on common ground upon one or two things in reference to this Bill. We are all interested in the promotion of education. We all recognise the value of the Hadow Report, and of the importance of raising the school age. The trouble which has arisen in connection with this Bill has been, as I look upon it, the failure of the Government 1100 to estimate rightly the very serious difficulties that were bound to arise in connection with the passing of the Bill in relation to the raising of the age and the issue of religious instruction in the school, which, unhappily, has done so much to hinder united action in the past and has kept elementary education in a large measure in the dust and din of Party politics.
I feel that the Government did not sufficiently estimate the forces that were bound to be raised in opposition to this Bill. The House is well aware of what has happened. I wish to express my appreciation, if I may, of the high educational ideals of the President of the Board of Education, and of the sincerity with which he has endeavoured by conference and otherwise to find a solution of the difficulty. He has, on behalf of the Government, put forward a scheme of agreement with which he thinks that he has considerable concurrence. As the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York has already informed the House, that proposed agreement has not the support of the representatives of the Free Churches. A few days ago, as the House may remember, the executive of the National Council of Free Churches, a fully representative body of Free Church opinion, issued in the Press a statement of the reasons why they did not completely concur with the terms of the agreement. There the matter stands.
I feel also that I may make one allusion to the country which I know best—Wales—in reference to this Bill. I should like to make it clear that the opposition of those with whom I am associated in Wales in education to this Bill in its present form is not due to any failure to realise the importance of education. There is no time to-night, but if there were I think I could in a few sentences show you a record of educational development in Wales during the last fifty years probably unparalleled, or at any rate hardly paralleled in history. The only point I desire to emphasise is that the most remarkable advance in Wales in education during the last fifty years has been made in the spheres of secondary and University education—just those spheres where happily education is a completely national issue and not a denominational issue.
1101 I do not think I need detain your Lordships longer. I only wish to make it clear that the views which the Free Churchmen of Wales and England hold in regard to this Bill in its present shape are not due to any failure on their part to realise the importance of educational efficiency and advance. I have one other remark which I should like to make in reference to the Parliamentary situation created by the present position of this Bill. I have been for some time in Parliamentary life, but I do not think that in the whole course of my experience I ever knew of a first-class measure of this kind having a provision inserted in it providing that it is not to come into operation until another Act of Parliament is passed carrying out some arrangement which is to be made by public bodies and individuals in the country. It seems to me that, in effect, that really is the transfer of the legislative functions of Parliament to groups of individuals and public bodies outside. It seems to me at all events to be a somewhat strange and serious innovation in our Parliamentary practice. I do not intend to take up further time in this debate this 1102 evening, but I am glad to have had this opportunity of stating the reasons which make it impossible fur me to support the Bill.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD PASSFIELD)
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
On that Motion, I would like to ask the noble Lord whether I am correctly informed that it is proposed that the House should meet at three o'clock to-morrow afternoon to enable the considerable number of speakers who sill have something to say to your Lordships to have an opportunity of expressing their views before the Division is taken at a reasonable hour.
§ LORD PASSFIELD
I ask pard3n for omitting to say that. I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until three o'clock to-morrow afternoon.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past seven o'clock.