HL Deb 11 July 1934 vol 93 cc469-502

LORD SANDERSON rose to ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking with regard to the raising of the school-leaving age in the near future; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is over three years since your Lordships saw fit to reject the Education Bill brought in by the Labour Party of that day, and the subject of the raising of the school age, as far as I remember, has not been discussed in your Lordships' House since that time apart from the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his important speech on the Unemployment Bill about a month ago. The rejection of the Labour Party's Bill has, of course, meant delay in the reorganisation and development of our educational system, and it has also, I think, had unfortunate results for the children of this country. What has it meant? It has meant that for three years something like 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 children have been sent away from school at the age of fourteen and have either plunged into industry or been left to find what jobs they could. Large numbers of them have failed to find any work at all, and have suffered all the demoralisation and deterioration that come from idleness and uncertainty as to the future. Many children suffered in that way, children who would have been far better at school.

Then again the reorganisation of our educational system has been delayed and held up. That has been unfortunate. In 1924 the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education was invited by the Board to draw up a scheme with regard to education up to the age of fifteen. There was an inquiry which lasted nearly two years, and the result was a Report, known as the Hadow Report, which recommended a new scheme which came to be known as post-primary education, and which advocated that children should be treated differently after the age of eleven or eleven plus; that all children should go on for a form of secondary education from the age of eleven to the age of fifteen. This Consultative Committee was not a body of educational cranks. They were serious people, experts on educational matters, and they did not draw up this Report of their own accord. It was deliberately asked for by the Board of Education. For some years a beginning was made with this new plan of giving post-primary education to children from the age of eleven to the age of fourteen, although the Hadow Committee distinctly laid it down that an essential feature of the plan was the raising of the school age to fifteen, as it had to be a four-year course, and they laid it down that a three-year course was unsuitable because the education required could not be obtained in that time.

The education thus given was largely wasted. A beginning was made. A good deal of reorganisation took place with regard to this post-primary work although it could be carried on only to the age of fourteen. Then the Labour Party brought in their Bill of 1930 which proposed to raise the school age to fifteen, and if that had passed, of course, this scheme could have been carried out completely instead of only partially. Your Lordships rejected the Bill, and then came the so-called economy campaign, and the thing since then has really been held up. No advance has been possible owing to what I cannot help calling false economy. I never did believe that the ground of economy was an adequate ground for throwing out that Bill. I do not believe it now, and I think I shall be able to show later on in my speech that the raising of the school age cannot be refused at this time of day on the ground of economy. The educational grounds for the raising of the school age are stronger to-day than ever, and I do not think I need to argue them over again at any length. There is no doubt that the years from fourteen to sixteen are very important years in the lives of boys and girls. That is admitted by all the psychologists and the medical profession and by almost all educationists who have really done any teaching at all or know anything about the ways of boys and girls.

I have spent a good deal of my life in teaching, and perhaps I may be allowed to mention my own experience very shortly. I taught young men and women most of whom had left school at fourteen, but there were a few who had left at fifteen and a very few who had been able to stay at school until they were sixteen, and the difference between the two sets was most marked. It was, indeed, most extraordinary. The children who had had most schooling had not necessarily better brains than the others, but they had learned to understand the work that they had done before, and they could acquire knowledge more quickly and could make use of books better, and understood better how to study, than those who had left at an earlier age. There is not the slightest doubt that children after the age of fourteen begin to become much more mentally alert than they are before that age, and are much keener on learning. It is recognised by the parents of the classes other than the working classes that the age of fourteen is important. That is just the time when the children of the classes other than the working classes are sent to public schools or elsewhere to obtain a more advanced form of education.

I never can see why the advantages of education up to eighteen or later, which are obtained by people who can afford it, should be denied to these poorer classes merely because their parents cannot afford it. It used to be said: "Oh, the children of the working people are needed in industry; they must go to work." But that can hardly be argued at the present time. Looking back we know that it was found possible to carry an industry without the aid of little children of five and six in the factories and little children of seven or eight in the mines. It has even been found possible since 1918 to carry on industry without children under fourteen, and when we are now constantly told that we are suffering from over-production, and when we have over 2,000,000 adults unemployed to say nothing of 100,000 or more juveniles, it can hardly be argued that industry will suffer if children of fourteen are taken away from industry. Again, when it was suggested that the school age should be raised, it sometimes used to be said: "Oh, the children don't need it; the working class children go into industry, and do not need more education." Or it used to be said that they are not capable of benefiting by education. I do not think any of your Lordships really hold that old-fashioned, obsolete, and unreasonable view to-day. I might point out that that was never an argument used with regard to the children of other classes than the working class.

The educational argument for raising the school age is, I think, unanswerable, but, quite apart from the educational argument, owing to the condition of the country to-day there are economic arguments which make it still more necessary that the school age should be raised. I refer to juvenile unemployment. Speaking for myself, and, I think, for my noble friends behind me, supposing all the boys and girls in the schools of the age of fourteen could obtain immediately permanent work with good wages, I would still say keep them at school. I believe the Hadow Report was perfectly right when it laid down that the school and not the factory is the proper place for children of fourteen. I need not spend a great deal of time on the question of juvenile unemployment and the figures connected with it because the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his speech on the Unemployment Bill, dealt very thoroughly and very ably, if I may say so, with that subject. But, as your Lordships know, there has been for a long time a great deal of juvenile unemployment amongst boys and girls of from fourteen to eighteen years of age. That unemployment has greatly increased in recent years, and it is almost certain to increase very much more in the years to come. At the end of 1933 there were about 100,000 juveniles between fourteen and eighteen who had failed to get work, and if you take the unregistered juveniles I believe there are a good many more, something like 130,000.

According to the Ministry of Labour figures, that number will greatly increase because of the high birth rate in the years immediately after the War. There will be more children coming out of the schools at the age of fourteen and onwards, and it is said, I believe correctly, that by 1940 there will be 167,000 more juveniles seeking employment than there were in 1933, and that in the year 1937, which, it is estimated, will be the peak year, there will be no less than 143,000 more children seeking employment than there were in 1933. It is impossible to imagine that all those children can be absorbed in industry. Even the most sanguine optimist would not maintain that industry is likely to expand to such an extent as to absorb that number and, therefore, there will be a great deal more juvenile unemployment. I do not say that none of these children will be employed, because some of them no doubt will find work, especially if industry does expand. I believe rather more have found work this year than was the case in 1933, but there is not the slightest doubt that there will be an enormous number of children seeking employment between this year and 1940—a much greater number than hitherto.

I personally think that all children should be kept at school till they are fifteen or sixteen, and even after that age in the case of children who are able to benefit by education. Children who are likely to benefit from it should be able to carry on their education even to the University. Some of your Lordships will probably not agree with me in that, but I think most of your Lordships will agree that juvenile unemployment is a very serious matter and that if we can get rid of it we ought to do so. Most of it can be got rid of if you raise the school age. If you keep children even one more year at school most of the children now unemployed, I will not say all of them, could be absorbed into industry. Each year you would have this age group of fourteen to fifteen kept out of the labour market which must ease employment conditions for other juveniles. It is pretty certain that most of your juveniles could be absorbed into industry if you raised the school age one year.

It may be said that the Unemployment Act has made provision for juvenile unemployed between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. That, question was also dealt with by the Archbishop of Canterbury but, if I may, I will just summarise the position. An arrangement has been made between the Ministry of Labour and the local authorities by which power is given to local authorities to set up juvenile instruction centres for unemployed children between the ages of fourteen and eighteen and power is given with regard to compulsory attendance. I think there is no doubt that that is quite impracticable mainly for the reason of the impossibility of devising satisfactory courses of study for constantly changing groups of children. No continuity of study would be possible. Then there is the difficulty of finding teachers, and there are other difficulties as well. I have never heard any one greet the proposal with enthusiasm and I cannot think that it appeals very strongly to the noble Viscount, the President of the Board of Education. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked certain questions about the scheme and they were answered by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, so I do not think I need argue it any further, but I will say that whether the scheme in the Unemployment Act be good or bad it cannot be in any sense whatever a satisfactory substitute for raising the school age.

Now as to the demand for the change. There is not the slightest doubt that there is a great demand for this change. Six local authorities have made the change themselves by by-laws, but exemptions are allowed and it is not altogether satisfactory. In the last few months resolutions have been passed all over the country by hundreds of local authorities and by the Association of Education Committees, which I believe represents all local authorities in the country, demanding this change. Resolutions have been passed by large conferences in Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, there is a demand for it from the London County Council and from a large conference of Greater London authorities. There is no doubt that there is a great demand all over the country for this change. I do not think there will be any opposition on the part of the parents of children, especially if adequate maintenance allowances are granted, because of the difficulty they have in finding work for their children. Moreover, I think people are more and more realising the importance of education for their children.

Then I come to the question of how it can be done. There are two ways in which the school age can be raised. It can be done through the local authori- ties by by-laws—that is to say, it can be done piecemeal. But the difficulty about that is that there are progressive local authorities and there are backward local authorities; there are rich local authorities, or comparatively rich local authorities, and there are poor local authorities. Even if they obtain the necessary grants from the Board I do not think the5r would all undertake the change for a long time to come. It would be very difficult for many of them to do so. Think of the difficulty of the local authorities in the depressed areas raising the school age of their own accord! And it is in the distressed areas, of course, that the change is most needed. Maintenance grants would be essential and the local authorities would not be able to provide them. I doubt if the change could be made satisfactorily in that way.

Even if it could be done there is the further difficulty that you would have border lines between various districts. You would have one local authority raising the school age to fifteen and a neighbouring local authority not raising the school age. Children in one town would go to school until they were fifteen and children in another town a short way off would leave school at fourteen. One set of children would have educational advantages over the other set of children, while the children in the town where the age was not raised would have advantages with regard to employment over the children who were kept longer at school. That would not be very fair. To some extent that difficulty might be avoided by getting local authorities to raise the age over large areas, but you would still have the trouble of border lines. If the London County Council raised the school age children living just outside London would be at an educational disadvantage and at an advantage with regard to obtaining employment, which would be very unsatisfactory. If you have to do it over large areas by getting groups of local authorities to raise the school age by means of by-laws, why not do it nationally? It would be much better to go straight at it and treat the problem nationally. That is the second way of making the change, by Act of Parliament.

I come now to the question of cost. I said earlier that you could not refuse to raise the school age on the ground of economy at the present time, and I think that is the case. I do not know what the actual gross cost would be, and I am not sure whether anybody knows. I have not heard of any data. Very possibly the noble Viscount when he replies will tell your Lordships what the cost would be. But I think I can say that the net cost will not be a very heavy burden on the country, because there will be several offsets which can be put against the gross cost. For instance, if you keep children longer at school you will have to spend less on evening schools. You will save the expenditure on the juvenile instruction centres which are to be set up under the Unemployment Act. It is estimated that that will cost something like £1,100,000 for 100,000 children. That amount of £1,100,000 will be saved if the school-leaving age is raised because it will not be necessary to carry out the scheme provided for by Sections 13 to 15 of the Unemployment Act. That, of course, will be a saving to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and not directly to the Exchequer, but none the less it will be a national saving. Then again there will be a saving of unemployment benefit if fewer children fail to find employment; and I am sure that many fewer will fail to find employment. There will be considerable savings which can be set off against the gross cost, and I do not think that the alteration in the age will involve a very heavy burden on the taxpayer.

As to the question of teachers and accommodation, it is quite certain that the difficulty of providing teachers and accommodation would not be anything like so great as it would have been even three years ago. There are at the present time a considerable number of teachers unemployed. I have heard it stated that 16 per cent, of the teachers trained in the training colleges during 1933 had not found employment by February, 1934. There should be no difficulty in finding teachers. Again, with regard to accommodation, in spite of the economy campaign a certain amount of building has been carried out—not as much as is required, but there are extra buildings now. But more important than that, there will be fewer children in the schools in the years to come. While the ages from fourteen to eighteen years will be inflated during the next few years, the ages from fourteen years downwards will be deflated. There will be fewer younger children coming into the schools. In fact it is said, and I believe correctly, that in 1937, the peak year, even if you raise the school-leaving age to fifteen years there will still be only 60,000 more children in the schools than there were in 1933, so that there should be no great difficulty about accommodation. Of course more and better accommodation is badly needed all the time, and more teachers are needed because classes ought to be much smaller than they are. I do not say that we have got enough teachers or satisfactory accommodation, but I do say that with the accommodation which we have there is no justification for delaying the raising of the school-leaving age on the ground of inadequacy of teachers or of building accommodation.

I think I have put most of the points with regard to the necessity of raising the age. I have tried to show that the educational arguments for the change are overwhelming and that there are additional economic arguments which make it still more desirable that the age should be raised. I have shown that the scheme under the Unemployment Act is quite inadequate and I have shown that the accommodation and the teachers can be found for the new system. I also have tried to show that the cost would not involve a really heavy burden, but only a very slight burden, on the country. After all, we are constantly told that owing to the marvellous work of the National Government trade is improving, wealth is increasing, and apparently the country is becoming more prosperous every day. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that the children of the working men and women, without whom that increased wealth could not have been produced at all, should be given a share of the increased prosperity. I therefore hope that the noble Viscount will be able to tell your Lordships that His Majesty's Government have decided to raise the school-leaving age to fifteen, with adequate maintenance allowances. I hope he will also hold out a promise that in the course of two or three years the age will be raised to sixteen years. I think I am asking for a very modest reform, but I do believe that that change would bring incalculable benefits, not only to the children, but to the future well-being of the nation. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Lord who has just spoken has brought this matter before the House, for this is a question of quite vital importance to the future of the nation, and the noble Lord through his educational experience speaks on this matter with special knowledge and authority. I rise to support the plea which he has addressed to the President of the Board of Education. This is not a Party question, and I hope it never will be a Party question. Educationists belonging to very different Parties are almost unanimous in their desire to see the age of compulsory education extended. They may differ, and they do differ, as to the particular form which education should take in the additional year or years, but I think there is practical unanimity amongst educationists in the desire to see the time of compulsory education extended. Certainly on this matter I am not speaking from these Benches for myself alone. I know that the great majority of the Bishops would support this demand that the age of education should be extended.

I do so mainly on educational grounds. I believe it is quite impossible for anyone to receive education if he has to leave school at the age of fourteen. There is no member of this House who would be content with his son receiving education which ended at fourteen, and I think, if most of us were frank, that by now we should have forgotten almost everything we learnt at school if we had had to leave at fourteen. The reorganisation of education in this country has been largely based upon the assumption that the age of education would be extended. When, some seven years ago, the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education recommended that the compulsory age should be extended to fifteen, it was thinking not only of an additional twelve months, bat rather it was thinking of children, from the age of eleven, receiving practically four years of secondary education, and educationists are agreed that it is very often the last year of education which sees the fruit of much of the teaching that has gone before. A child at the age of twelve or thirteen is often in a state of considerable mental flux and uncertainty, but at the age of fifteen he is able to grasp much more clearly what before he had only apprehended very slightly.

I would like to give the House one quotation from the Report of the Hadow Committee: In education, as in industry, there is a law of increasing, as well as of diminishing, returns. Too often it is the sad experience of the teacher to lose his pupils at the very moment when his earlier efforts are about to bear fruit, and when powers which have seemed for long to lie dormant are on the even of bursting into life. The addition of even a few months to the present school life may not seldom enable him to kindle into flame the spark which, but for them, would have been extinguished. I believe that in the next few years there will be in this country very great social and economic changes. There is nothing more dangerous for a civilisation than an uneducated or imperfectly educated democracy. Democracy has power through the franchise, which is almost universal, which it has not yet learnt to use if democracy is uneducated. Through education you have the most effective safeguard against the despotism or autocracy of a dictatorship, whether from the Right or from the Left. It is only the educated democracy which can decide for itself questions put to it, and criticise the rhetorical utterances of would-be dictators, or the propaganda which often falls from the Press. We shall never get the educated democracy that we desire while the greater part of our children leave school at the age of fourteen.

It is not only on educational grounds that I support the plea which has been addressed to the President of the Board of Education. I also support it on the ground of relieving the pressure of juvenile unemployment. I do not want to repeat figures which have already been given by the noble Lord, but there is one so significant that I must repeat it. In May of this year there were 94,000 boys and girls registered as out of work, a smaller number than last year, but we shall see almost immediately the effect of the so-called bulge, which will flood the labour markets with boys and girls over the age of fourteen. It is estimated, and these figures have received a certain amount of authority from the Minister of Labour, that in 1935 the number of boys and girls available for employment will exceed the number for 1933 by 115,000, and in 1937 by 443,000. What will happen to all those boys who are poured on to the labour market? It is true that with improving trade a certain number of them will be absorbed in industry, as a certain number have been absorbed already, but in what kind of industry will they be absorbed? A large number of these boys are engaged in work which leads nowhere, in work which is temporary and commonly described as "blind alley" employment, sometimes working exceptionally long hours, longer hours than their older brothers or parents are allowed to work, and almost inevitably at the age of sixteen these boys will be thrown on the labour market without having had any kind of adequate training for their future work. There is also the danger to-day that with improving conditions in industry the army of the unemployed juveniles may be reduced at the cost of the army of unemployed adults. The boys will be undertaking work which some time ago was only undertaken by men.

When these boys have been absorbed in industry, when a certain amount of work has been found for them in different ways, there will still remain a large number of boys with no work whatever. Any one who has had anything to do with boys knows that the worst thing for their characters is a long period of unemployment. I have seen myself the characters of boys deteriorating through long spells of unemployment. They lose hope and vitality, and they deteriorate in physique as well as in mentality. Many of them drift from the ranks of the unemployed into the ranks of the unemployable. Some of them drift into a life of crime. The statistics of crime already show that juvenile crime is on the increase, and it is from these juveniles who have never had any permanent employment that there will be drawn those who will take part in riots when there come days of dangerous unrest and unsettlement. I cannot say how strongly I feel the wastage that goes on in human life through these juveniles who have left school having to spend months and sometimes years without gaining any kind of permanent work.

I know it will be said, undoubtedly, that a great deal can be done by juvenile unemployed centres. I have the greatest admiration for the work which has been done and is being done by these centres. I have visited some of these centres, and I know some who have worked in connection with them. The work done has been quite adequate, but it suffers from two defects. One is that the teaching has to be discontinuous, and the other is that the school itself is fluctuating. How can you expect boys to learn very much when they are wondering whether they will be in work next week, when all their thoughts are turning round whether they will get work or not? How can you expect the keenest and most capable of teachers to give really satisfactory teaching when he knows that next week he will find that his class has very largely changed in personnel? I hope;, of course, that the Government will do everything they can to support the juvenile unemployed centres, but they are not really a solution of the whole problem, and I believe the only solution of the problem is KO raise the age of education.

Only by doing this, will you give these boys the education which they require, and only in this way will you reduce appreciably the army of the juvenile unemployed. We are sacrificing human character and human intelligence when we take from the security of the schools these tens of thousands of boys and girls and plunge them to struggle in the river of unemployment. I hope that the Government will be able to give a satisfactory and favourable answer to the question which has been addressed to them. I believe that if the age of education is extended you will give a better chance to a very large number of these juveniles, and you will enable them in later life to fulfil more worthily their responsibilities as citizens of one of the few nations of the world which still retain order and liberty of thought.


My Lords, in rising to give general support to the raising of the school age to fifteen, I should like to draw the attention of the House to one particular aspect of the question, and that is one which offers considerable scope for economies in expenditure, both to the Exchequer and to the local authorities, I refer to the question of day continuation schools. I know that that will not entirely cover the whole problem. The last figures I have been able to get relate to some years ago. At that time there were seventy-five schools dealing with 25,000 children, and in my opinion that figure is capable of a great deal of expansion. It seems to me that the real justification for raising the school age is that fourteen is too young an age at which to leave a child without any guidance in education, and if fourteen is too young it seems to me that fifteen is also too young, because from such inquiries as I have been able to make it seems that it is when children reach the age of sixteen that they really get the greatest benefit from the education received at school.

If, educationally speaking, the crux of the matter is guidance in education, then surely it would be better from every point of view to seek the solution of the problem in some such system as the extension of the day continuation schools. When a child goes out to work, and has a certain amount of discipline in works or factory, it realises more clearly what the lessons are that it is learning at school. I think the two react in a way very beneficial to the child—the education going on simultaneously with the job which it is trying to do in the factory. On this question of day continuation schools I have had some fourteen years experience, and I know that when the particular school that I have in mind was started there was the keenest suspicion, first on the part of trade unionists about the curriculum. After they had inspected the curriculum carefully those suspicions were removed. There was also a great deal of scepticism on the part of the management. With regard to that, I can only say that a few years later, when trade slumped badly and the most drastic economies had to be made, there was never any suggestion that this school should be curtailed in any way. I think that shows that the management really favoured the work done in that school. We know from very many letters received from parents that they are wholeheartedly in favour of some such system.

There is one great advantage to my mind in a school system carried on at works, and that is that it allows the closest co-operation between the doctor, the person responsible for engaging young people and the school teacher. A great deal can be done to improve the health of the young people if they are under the constant supervision of an efficient medical man. It may be said that small firms cannot carry out any such programme as that, but, as I understand it, the local authorities, at any rate in our city—and I should like to pay a high tribute to the great assistance we have received from our local education authority—would be only too willing, if several small firms joined together, to give facilities to work some form of day continuation school. In my view it is not enough to adopt the attitude adopted by some of the largest and most efficient firms, in this country, and used to be adopted by a great many firms on the other side of the Atlantic, which was to pay in some cases tremendously high wages and then think that their responsibility to their work people was finished. My own experience has been that, once reasonable wages are paid, it is the spirit of labour and the spirit in the factory which make more difference to the workers than the enormously high wages; and in getting a good spirit in the factory the school can be a vital factor.

One of the big problems, and I suppose probably the cause of the greatest waste in England to-day, is the problem of sick absenteeism. I am told by medical people that that is very largely a psychological matter. In some firms a man can go away with a broken arm and be back in three or four weeks. A similar accident in another firm or in another part of the country might take a couple of months. It is all a question of the mental outlook of the man to his accident or sickness. In the aggregate the amount of time lost through absence from work runs to an enormous number of hours, and involves industry in tremendous waste. If anything can be done to obtain a satisfactory school spirit—because that is what it comes to, it is the same for factories as it is for a school—that figure falls in a very remarkable way. My own opinion is that the very low figures we have been able to get through that particular form of waste are very largely attributable to the work done in the school. The school to which I refer has not been able to put in a full number of hours as laid down in what is commonly known as the Fisher Act. The children attend for half a day a week, and that means that one-tenth of the children are constantly at school, which does help this question of unemployment mentioned by the noble Lord who raised the question this afternoon. Firms supply the buildings, the work is done during hours without any reduction of pay, and the local education authorities supply the teachers.

Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to read a letter from the headmaster of this school: It is continuity of education up to years of stability that matters, and the break that usually occurs results in collapse … If it became a choice between raising the age to fifteen or instituting continuation schools I believe the latter would be far more effective, especially as the most optimistic reformers do not believe that raising the age to sixteen is practical politics… The local authorities must tackle the problem by co-ordination between the juvenile employment bureaux, the school clinics, and the day continuation school. Figures have been given in the newspapers referring to the cost of this grant for maintenance. I do not know whether they are correct, but it seems to me that if some scheme is adopted whereby most of the expenditure for the buildings is undertaken by the firms and the boys and girls are in employment the necessity for a maintenance grant would be very largely done away with. I humbly suggest to the noble Viscount who will reply for the Government that he might consider this problem of juvenile unemployment from the angle of the day continuation school.


My Lords, this being the first occasion on which I have had the opportunity of addressing the House, I crave the indulgence of your Lordships. The various aspects under which this question can be looked at have been very fully dealt with in many ways, both in speeches and writings—the economic aspects, the educational aspects, and the social aspects. These I propose to leave entirely aside. I have yet to hear any sound refutation of the arguments based on those grounds in favour of raising the school-leaving age. All I wish to do this afternoon is to refer to this matter briefly from the administrative side and from the point of view that what is really necessary at this moment to those local authorities who are engaged in administering the education of this country is an early decision of this question. I think the decision of His Majesty's Government should be in favour of the raising of the school age. It is clearly a matter which cannot be left over for local option, as has been so clearly expressed by the noble Lord who raised the subject this afternoon.

There are three main reasons, I think, why an early decision is important. One is that the local authorities are entrusted with the duty of providing these junior instructional centres. The cost of this task has been estimated. I think the difficulty of spending that money effectively has often been under-estimated. These centres will require an entirely new technique and an entirely new kind of staff. It will take years to find out how to run these centres and to train the staffs that will be necessary. The local education authorities are facing their task bravely, but perhaps not in all cases as hopefully as one could wish. If these local authorities bad the certainty that within a given period a whole age group was going to be taken away from the employment market, I submit that that knowledge would reduce one of their most troublesome uncertainties at the present time. Moreover, it would avoid what is very likely to happen—namely, over-provision in the matter of junior instructional centres in the first few years of their existence.

Secondly, as we all know, the school population of this country is falling. I think that provides an unanswerable administrative argument for the raising of the school age in the near future. Unfortunately, there are a number of districts in this country where large movements of population have taken place, chiefly in the form of expansion from big towns into suburbs. These movements have the same effect administratively and economically as increases of population, because they necessitate entirely new provision for the children moving into new districts. Even in these cases die task of local authorities would be greatly simplified, and they would be able to administer more effectively, if they knew one way or the other whether the school age was going to be raised or not within measurable time. They are, rightly or wrongly, anticipating that at some future date they will have to deal with an entirely new age group, but they do not know when. Lastly, I would like to urge, the fact that the reorganisation of our elementary education on the lines of the Hadow Report has not yet been completed, and is still in a state of being deferred almost indefinitely.

I believe, taking the country as a whole, it is little more than half completed. Neverthelsss, where it has been completed and where the authority has succeeded in carrying out in full the spirit of the Hadow Report, I think everyone will agree it has been a tremendous success and justifies completely the wish, of the Committee that it should cover the full four years. Local authorities have gained the experience necessary in the last few years, and I believe they are ready to complete the scheme. The present position is an impossible one. The scheme is half completed. The raising of the school ago would bring the completion of the reorganisation of elementary education in its train. Both together could be carried out as one scheme. They are naturally one, because for both some new accommodation is necessary. Where it is necessary to provide for reorganisation you can provide at the same time for the increased age group.

The country is committed to reorganisation. It is inevitable that sooner or later the school age must be raised together with the planning and the organisation. To do that separately would be unwise and unbusinesslike. I suggest that this is a time when it is necessary to avoid all possible waste of money. There is only one way to do that and that is by really careful planning ahead. No form of wastefulness is more certain to occur and none is less easy to detect, less easy to analyse and avoid in advance, than that which is caused by bad planning due to uncertainty, or by continual revision of plans which must by their very nature be long-range plans and made to cover many years ahead. Whether they are justified in their feeling of uncertainty or not I do not say, but I submit that local authorities at present are living in a state of very serious uncertainty on this question and that thereby alone great wastage is occurring. I submit that the removal of that uncertainty is a matter of urgency for His Majesty's Government.


My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester spoke, I thought, very truly when he said that there was no one better qualified to introduce this subject to your Lordships' House than the noble Lord in whose name the Motion stands; and I am quite sure that the whole House will Join with me in a feeling of gratification that one result of the noble Lord's Motion should have been to induce the noble Lord who spoke last to make his first speech in your Lordships' House and to leave with all your Lordships who heard it a feeling of hope that he may find many other occasions on which he will be prepared to place at the service of your Lordships an informed judgment and great administrative experience.

I would be naturally the first to recognise the importance of the subject with which this debate deals. It is quite true, as the noble Lord who moved the Motion said, that it is a subject that is exciting at the present time no small measure of public interest. I have myself received an important deputation on the matter from Lancashire. The subject, as your Lordships are well aware, is one that has been considerably agitated in London, in the West Riding of Yorkshire and elsewhere, although I think that the noble Lord who moved the Motion fell into some exaggeration when he said, if I heard him correctly, that some hundreds of local authorities had passed resolutions in the sense of his Notice. But that is not a material point. I do not wish, indeed I conceive it is hardly my function this afternoon, to discuss the abstract merits of whether education should cease in our schools at fourteen, or fifteen, or sixteen. I go the whole way with the right reverend Prelate when he draws your Lordships' attention to the importance in these days, and in this country, of an educated democracy. I imagine that there would be no one of your Lordships who would differ from the broad proposition that the more complete your democracy the more educated ought that democracy to be, and I should be prepared entirely to associate myself, as I imagine would all your Lordships, with that judgment. But I conceive my duty this afternoon to be rather, if I may, to discuss for, I am afraid, a slightly longer time than it is usually my habit to occupy your Lordships' attention, what are the practical considerations that necessarily assert themselves in the consideration of the reform to which this Motion invites us.

I take note with much interest of what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Trent, and I need not assure him that everything that he said will be very present to my mind when these matters are under consideration. I think, however, that he would not disagree with me when I say that the particular aspect of the problem to which he directed our attention, however important it may perhaps become, is at present limited in scope, and that I could best serve the convenience of the discussion of this matter by addressing myself to the general arguments that have been used in connection with the Motion, many of which, indeed, are common from whatever aspect of the problem we may choose to approach it. The right reverend Prelate said that this was in no sense a Party question. That, I think, is also a great truth, and in no sense as a Party question should I wish to treat it. The matter is too important, and I think that the facts on which judgment must be based are not facts into which it is profitable to import Party prejudice or any deflection of sound judgment that that Party prejudice might create.

The first fact that I want to emphasis is that it is sometimes assumed that it is possible to raise the school age almost by a stroke of the pen. That, of course, is not so. I need not remind your Lordships that if and when this reform were undertaken it would involve the preparation and the passage of legislation that I am afraid past experience suggests would almost inevitably arouse some controversy of difficulty, and would necessarily engage some measure of Parliamentary time. Your Lordships are well aware that Parliamentary time is heavily mortgaged for some period ahead. It would also involve a considerable interval for the preparation first of all of buildings. Reference has been made by several of those who have taken part in the discussion this afternoon to the fact that with a fall in population the problem of buildings would be very much less difficult. That no doubt to some extent is true, but it always has to be remembered that the fall of population is not uniform, as I shall have occasion to show in a moment, owing to the change of distribution of the population in new housing estates, and the like, which very closely affects the problem, and I am advised, and on such information as I have I believe it to be true, that there is no area in the country to-day where the raising of the school age and the inclusion of additional numbers would not in fact create a considerable difficulty in relation to buildings.

Delay would also be imposed by the fact, as I imagine the majority of your Lordships will agree, that there is really very little profit to be extracted from keeping children at school up to the age of fifteen until your reorganisation has progressed so far that you can be reasonably sure that the education to be given to the children is for their advantage. It is quite true at the present moment, as the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne said, that re-organisation has proceeded about half way. It has been held up, as we all know, during the last two or three years, by reason of finance and by reason of other considerations, to which I will make reference in a moment, which are independent of finance. Therefore, the conclusion of any impartial investigator, however enthusiastic as an educationist he may be to see the school age raised, will be, I think, that it is impossible to put the raising of the school age into operation under a period of, say, three or four years—that is to say, supposing you decided on it to-morrow, somewhere about 1938.

I stress that point for this reason. The right reverend Prelate laid great stress upon that which 13 indeed I imagine uppermost in most of your minds, the concern that we feel in regard to juvenile unemployment consequent upon what is called the bulge in the older ranks of the school population at the present time. It is thought that by keeping the four-teen-to-fifteen-year-olds in school you will make a substantial contribution to the reduction of unemployment and that the fall of the bulge will make it easy and cheap. The bulge, I think, has encouraged a great deal of arithmetical calculation of not always equal value. I therefore will attempt to give the broad facts to your Lordships with what accuracy I may. I am not sure that I followed completely all the figures given either by the noble Lord who introduced this matter, or by the right reverend Prelate, but I have no doubt they drew them from authentic sources. I merely give the broad picture as I believe it to exist.

There is no dispute that the number of fourteen-to-fifteen-year-old children leaving school recently was very low. It was lowest in the year 1933. There was then a large and sudden increase in 1934 and there will be a further increase in 1935, after which there will be a steady decline. Your Lordships will observe that the effect of that is two-fold. First of all the effect is to cause a large increase in the fourteen-to-fifteen group during this year and next year, and the second effect is to cause a cumulative increase in the whole fourteen to-eighteen-years group up to 1937. From 1938 the increase in the fourteen-to-eighteen-years group is overtaken by the decrease in the fourteen-to-fifteen-years group which has been operating from 1936, and after 1938 the fourteen-to-eighteen-years group itself begins to decline. I trouble your Lordships with that argument to make this broad conclusion, that the result of that argument is that the fourteen-to-fifteen-years group is only a fraction of the whole problem of the fourteen-to-eighteen-years group and that after 1935 it is a diminishing fraction. Therefore I think it is important that that should be stated in order that we may get the fourteen-to-fifteen-years group problem into something like its right perspective in relation to the whole thing.

I confess I was very much astonished, if I heard aright the noble Lord who introduced this subject, when ho said that most of juvenile unemployment could be got rid of by raising the school age to fifteen. With all respect to him and his ordinary lucidity of thought and expression in this House, I am bound to say that I think on the information open to me that in making that statement he fell into grave error. There is this further consequence. If my particular argument is right, as I am convinced it is right on educational grounds, that the introduction of this reform would take three or four years, that in no circumstances could practical effect be given to the raising of the school age before 1938—that is, before the members in the fourteen-to-fifteen years age group will already for two years have been declining—I think that it is evident that the value of it as a contribution to juvenile unemployment can very easily be, and very often is, over-estimated. I felt it necessary to say so much to correct what is in many quarters a great misapprehension of the true relation borne to the whole juvenile unemployment problem by the problem of this fourteen-to-fifteen years age group.

I need hardly assure your Lordships that for years past, when they saw this bulge appearing and looming large and close, the Government gave most careful consideration to the effect on juvenile unemployment during the next three years of these increased numbers to which the right reverend Prelate referred. I agree with him. I do not think it is easy to be definite about the precise effects. It is not easy to forecast the effect and the range of improvement in trade. He quoted the figures for May. I have had supplied to me the figures for June, a month later. At the present moment the number of boys and girls of from fourteen to eighteen years of age registered for employment is 77,000 against 87,000 in June, 1933. That is not quite so good, I agree, as the May figures on paper but I am advised that in fact they may turn out on investigation to be rather better owing to the large number of children who have been absorbed.

He will be aware that the problem, though it is in the truest sense, as he said, a great national problem, does exhibit most startling and extreme local variations. There is, I believe, no juvenile unemployment in London and in certain areas of the Midlands. There is bad juvenile unemployment in areas on the North-East coast, as one would expect, in certain parts of Lancashire and in South Wales, and I have no doubt it is true that to withdraw the age group fourteen to fifteen from employment, if it could be done at this moment, would avoid any unemployment of that group in areas where they might otherwise be unemployed; but it would also, I am advised, cause considerable embarrassment in other areas where there is a positive shortage of juvenile labour to-day or where there is much adult labour dependent upon juvenile labour. We have, of course, need to remember that juvenile labour is not nearly as mobile as adult labour, for reasons which are very obvious to us all. Therefore it is not because I under-estimate in any sense the gravity of the problem that I feel bound to take exception to some of the observations which have been made in regard to the alternative method of dealing with it which His Majesty's Government have up to the present time adopted.

There are, I think, only two methods of dealing with the whole of this juvenile unemployment problem. There is first of all the method of the noble Lord who introduced the Motion, of raising the school-leaving age to fifteen; there is secondly the plan proposed under the recent Unemployment Act: the establishment of junior instruction centres. I hope I have said enough to show that the plan of the noble Lord, Lord Sanderson, touches only a fraction of the problem. It does not, of course, profess to deal with the three age groups of fifteen to eighteen, and whatever its other merits may be it does give very little help, as I have endeavoured to show, for a situation of which time is of the essence, because it does not begin to operate for a substantial period of time. On the other hand under the second method the junior instruction centres do grapple with the whole problem, from fourteen to eighteen, and they get going, as we hope, at once, before the next winter.

That brings me to what must naturally be in the minds of all your Lordships, who I can well imagine would say that that argument may be legitimate if the junior instruction centres are in fact any good. I am well aware that they have been subjected to plenty of criticism, not always very well-informed criticism; but I am satisfied that the event, in this as in some other matters, will prove the critics wrong. The right reverend Prelate spoke in most moving terms of the experience which he had had of watching the characters of boys deteriorate through periods of unemployment and of general relaxation of the anchors of life. I have no doubt that every word that he said in that respect is true, but was he not speaking of a state of affairs which had fallen within his experience before the junior instruction centres had been placed on anything like the permanent basis upon which they will be placed under the new Act? I am for my own part satisfied by the investigations which I have made that those schools can and will do most useful work in protecting boys and girls from the very evils which the right reverend Prelate deplored, by providing them with practical training and by developing their general employability.

The one criticism to which those junior instruction centres stand exposed, which at first sight I agree might seem to have considerable force, is one which I think fell from both the noble Lord who moved this Motion and the right reverend Prelate—namely, that attendance would be less regular than whole-time and continuous attendance, in school. I am bound to differ, however, from the noble Lord who moved the Motion when he says that on that account these centres will be quite impracticable. I would ask him to examine the position a little further. Is it not the case that that criticism loses a good deal of its weight if it is remembered that whore periods of unemployment are short and where therefore the risks of deterioration are the most limited, it will be there, if anywhere, that in-and-out attendance will be the greatest? On the other hand where unemployment is worst—take as an instance the North-East coast, where unemployment is what all of us unhappily know it to be—and where therefore the evils of deterioration will be the greatest, those will be the exact places where, owing to lack of employment, the in-and-out-attendance objection will operate over the smallest field.

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, I think also spoke as though he were much impressed with the administrative difficulties of getting those junior instruction centres going. He speaks with greater administrative experience from the local point of view than I can claim, but I was greatly impressed the other day by the considered observations of the Director of Education for Durham County, a man who after all is entitled to speak from practical knowledge of the blackest and worst of the problem. Your Lordships may have observed that at a meeting of education committees he felt called upon to rebut with some warmth the suggestion that these junior instruction centres had not been, and would not be, of great value. I have had the opportunity of seeing the scheme which he—and I take him as typical—has worked out, showing in great detail how he would propose to tackle the problem arising in that stricken area practically and very comprehensively.

I have ventured, my Lords, to make rather long observations upon the unemployment side because that is a side which has excited considerable interest throughout the country when this problem has been before it, but your Lordships will, I think, expect me and I hope will permit me to say something also, as I feel bound to do, upon the educational side, to which the noble Lord who moved this Motion made considerable reference. He will not misunderstand me if I say that advocates of the raising of the school-leaving age not infrequently ignore the practical questions which are involved, and assume it to be a very simple matter. I do not discuss what may be held to be the wishes of the majority of parents. That after all must be a matter of individual judgment. The noble Lord opposite did refer to it. A great many reformers never refer to it at all, and indeed speak as if they thought that parents were the last people of any who need be consulted on a matter of this kind. I must at once plead guilty to being sufficiently old-fashioned as to think that in this matter the parent has really a great right of audience. From the representations reaching me from, parents whom I do not know in various parts of the country since this discussion was set afoot in the newspapers, I rather doubt whether parents are as anxious as they are sometimes represented to be, until we have so reorganised our educational system as to be able to give good value; in the extra year, to see their children retained at school.

Then there is the problem, on which I must say a word or two in a moment, of the voluntary schools, and there are all the questions arising from what I may call the social and educational arguments for raising the age, which I think quite clearly depend upon there being no exemptions. I do not profess to speak positively as to whether the country as a whole is ready for raising the school age, with no exemptions in prosperous and non-prosperous districts, and in all forms of unemployment, and if there are no exemptions what is to be the policy pursued about maintenance allowances. The noble Lord who introduced the Motion did speak about maintenance allowances, but he suggested that the cost of the reform, including maintenance allowances, was not likely to be a heavy one, because it would be offset by so many related savings. Now I do not deal at greater length with the questions to which I have referred because I must show now, in as short an argument as I can make, that the over-ruling considera- tion in this matter, in spite of what the noble Lord has said, is finance.

I have had an estimate supplied to me, that if maintenance allowances are given the cost of doing what the noble Lord suggests will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £8,000,000 a year. Some, I am well aware, say that that estimate is too high.


Is that with the offsets?


I will come to that in a moment. Others say that that estimate is too low, but I was interested to observe that the local education authorities expect a greater part of it to be borne by the Exchequer. I can quote some words from the retiring President of the Association of Education Committees. Speaking on behalf of the Executive he is reported as saying: Parliament must not deny the consequential allowance of maintenance grants where necessity demands it. The allowances must be made by the State and not become an added burden to the already overloaded ratepayer. That may be right or wrong, but it is only one of the very many competing claims on educational funds at the present time. In fairness to my own position, and to the position of the Government, may I remind your Lordships what some of those claims are?

I have to find every year, at the present time, an increasing charge for the pensions of teachers. This year that sum is £6,750,000, £1,000,000 higher than three years ago, and under Statute that charge continues to grow for some time at the rate of £250,000 a year. I also receive constantly, and I hope I try to deal with them sympathetically, many claims arising out of our present system and commitments. All the noble Lords have referred to the completion of reorganisation, a completion which many education authorities would think ought to proceed further before you make the reform for which the noble Lord asks. There is the plea for the reduction in the numbers of large classes, and I have referred myself to the demands made upon the Exchequer by new housing estates, consequent upon the transfer of population and the clearance of slums. I have figures showing that in Essex, in Barking and Ilford, the numbers of children in elementary schools have increased from 85,000 to nearly 140,000, and in Middlesex from 40,000 to nearly 60,000. Those increases, where they are going on, impose large charges upon public funds, and the end of that process, I am glad to think, is not yet in sight. Then there is the whole, field of secondary and technical education, to the further provision of which many people again, no doubt rightly, attach the greatest importance from the point of view of industry.

Lastly, I am free to confess to my mind the most important of all, there are the claims that may fall under the heading of health services. Your Lordships are aware of the projects for the extension of the provision of milk, admirable as I believe them to be. You will also have present to your minds all the possibilities of remedial or better preventive action to check much deplorable waste of human material which is now going on by reason of the failure to tackle defect and disability among children in the earliest years of life. I do not hesitate to say, without in any way trenching upon what is the proper responsibility of parents, that there is a great field for development here. Very great work has been done, but there is very great work still there to do, and I believe there is not one of your Lordships who will disagree with me when I say that one of the hardest consequences of poverty, as opposed to wealth or affluence, is the case where poverty denies to people the opportunity in time of getting remedial, preventive treatment for the ailments of their children.

It is those kinds of consideration which I am bound to balance in my mind against other reforms for which the noble Lord may plead. I could go on indefinitely. There are the claims of orthopædic schools. Many members of another place are constantly pressing me to introduce nursery schools where housing and social conditions are bad, and I mention these things in order to remind your Lordships that they all involve many millions of pounds. I frankly say that I should be very tempted, if I were a dictator, to give priority of claim to some of these health services and objects to which I have alluded, rather than that for which Lord Sanderson has pleaded. It is, however, impossible to view the educational expenditure of the country except in relation to the general financial position of the country. It is quite true that that position is much better than it was three years ago. That is much to the credit, I think, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I was very glad to hear Lord Sanderson say, if I understood him correctly, that the financial improvements of the country reflected credit, although I was not quite certain upon whom.


I only said I was told it had improved.


The noble Lord may take it from me that it has improved. I am sure he will be very glad to think that his rumour is confirmed, and that it has also formed the subject of much envy among foreign nations, that the National Government has succeeded in improving our financial position to such a degree. It of course is still only convalescing, and perhaps this is the ground of the noble Lord's hesitation. We must not assume that the financial invalid is completely cured. Quite apart from any other necessities for which provision may have to be made, £50,000,000 are required to carry out the expressed intentions of the last Budget. Therefore I should not, I think, be frank with the House or with the country if I did not make it quite plain that these financial facts—the large cost of raising the school age, the competing claims, many of them just as strong, of other educational services and development, and lastly the general financial obligations to which we are already by general consent committed—prevent His Majesty's Government at the present time from considering the raising of the school age as practical politics.

And that general conclusion, I am afraid, is not affected by the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Sanderson, that there are savings to be made so important that they can be set off against this increased expenditure, and make the burden, in his words, "not a very heavy one." I think he mentioned the saving through the reduction in juvenile unemployment, firstly in the fourteen-to-fifteen-years group, and, secondly, indirectly in the older age groups which might step in, I suppose, to the places that the fourteen-to fifteen-years group might otherwise have occupied. The amount of saving on that head, as he will recognise, would necessarily be highly speculative, and, as I think he recognises, the main part of the saving would accrue, not to the Exchequer but to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. He then spoke about substantial savings to be effected on the juvenile instruction centres. There again the amount is quite uncertain, but it may safely be hazarded that it would not be very large, because he seemed to forget that, however much you withdraw the fourteen-to-fifteen group, you are still left with the necessity for juvenile, instruction centres for the fifteen-to-eighteen groups, and half the cost to central funds involved by those centres is being met out of the Insurance Fund, to which, of course, in consequence, half the savings again would necessarily accrue.

Lastly, there was the saving that might be anticipated from the fall in the numbers of children. Well, there again I have no precise estimate to give to the noble Lord, but I can assure him—what indeed his own experience will readily suggest—that at the best the savings to be expected on t/hat head would be nothing like proportional to the fall in the numbers of the children. Your overhead expenses of many kinds would still, of course, continue. The noble Lord referred to the possibility of local authorities raising the school age by by-law. I am well aware, of course, of all the objections that he stated to exist to that way of advance, and indeed for those reasons I should not anticipate that many authorities would wish so to proceed. If they do, their proposals will be considered on merits, and on merits of the relevant factors: that there is adequate and suitable educational provision, that the employment conditions justify it, and that the financial aspects can be adjusted and are not prohibitive.

Although, for the reasons that I have felt it my duty to give, the problem is to-day, in the view of His Majesty's Government, not one of immediate practical politics, I think it necessary shortly to revert to the problem of the voluntary schools, because it is a very fundamental one, and one that is constantly ignored or pushed aside by the supporters of the raising of the school age. I do not think that the noble Lord opposite made any reference to it in the course of his observations. I would recall in a sentence or two what happened when the Bill of the then Labour Government was before another place. An Amendment was carried on the Report stage by a member of the Labour Party against the Government inserting a provision that the Bill should not come into operation until an Act has been passed authorising expenditure out of public funds upon such 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. That, as we all know very well, was no sudden or catch decision. Indeed, on the contrary, I believe that the fundamental importance of the question of the effect on voluntary schools had become abundantly plain as soon as Sir Charles Trevelyan had introduced his first Bill twelve months earlier, and during the whole of the intervening twelve months he had been engaged in quite continuous, but also unsuccessful, efforts to secure an agreed settlement of the voluntary school question which the problem raised.

And it is quite certain, especially, I think, in the light of reorganisation, that if at any time a fresh attempt were made to raise the school age without at the same time dealing with the voluntary school problem, the attempt would suffer exactly the same fate. This is not surprising when it is remembered how large a part the voluntary schools still play in the elementary school system of the country. Roughly, one-third of all the children in elementary schools are in voluntary schools, and the proportion, high as it is, is in some areas higher still. Thus, taking together the forty-five authorities in the geographical area of Lancashire, the proportion is not less than fifty per cent., and in Manchester and Liverpool together there are not fewer than 110,000 children in voluntary schools, representing nearly half the school population. I have said so much and I mention those figures because I think that side of the problem, like finance, is constantly overlooked, and in my judgment it is very important that all who wish to see an advance of the kind for which the noble Lord has pleaded—an advance which, assuming that finance was no obstacle and that educational provision for the varying needs of children were satisfactory, many of your Lordships with myself would, I doubt not, regard as a natural development of our educational system— should, in preparation for that, examine these correlated problems and make an attempt to find a solution of them.

I apologise for keeping your Lordships so long, but for the present, and as immediate means of dealing with the urgent question of juvenile unemployment, the new Government Act must hold the field. It has been deliberately drafted not to embarrass future legislation in the sense desired by the noble Lord, Lord Sanderson, and it in no way bars that road when it may be found possible to take it. On the contrary, I think that junior instruction centres, now to be set upon a permanent basis, may and will be found to afford a most valuable guide to the types of instruction that can best be given to the juveniles of older ages. I for my part am confident that the machinery there created is one of real power and real potential value, and that local authorities will, without exception, use their best endeavours to take full advantage of it. It is not necessary for me to say that they can count upon the ready help and co-operation in whatever way we can most usefully give it, of both my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour and myself, and I have no doubt that if we can all work together at this problem with determination and with good will we can achieve results of which in years to come we shall have no cause to be ashamed, and which will be the means of bringing real benefit to those future citizens of this country whom today, I fancy, most of us have had in mind. With regard to the noble Lord's demand for Papers, I am afraid I have no other Papers to lay than those which have already been made public.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount very much for his reply and also for the very kind reference which he made—misled, I suppose, by the kind reference made by the right reverend Prelate—to my competence to raise this question. I am sorry to say I am not so competent as he and the right reverend Prelate imagined, as I have completely failed to persuade the noble Viscount to do what I asked him to do. I must not at this time begin arguing again with the noble Viscount, but I should like to do so very much on many of the points he has raised. With regard to the two corrections he made to my statement, it was perhaps an exaggeration to say hundreds of local authorities, but I was rather thinking of the numbers represented in large conferences and especially in the Association of Education Committees; I suppose there would be almost hundreds represented there. Then again, with regard to the figures he gave as to future juvenile unemployment, I have not had time to consider them carefully yet, but I shall do so. I said most of the juvenile unemployment could be removed if the children were kept another year at school. That may have been a slight exaggeration, but I still think that if you keep a whole age group a year longer at school, if you keep something like 300,000 children another year at school, you must relieve very greatly the amount of juvenile unemployment in the country. Each year it must be considerably less, and I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that the raising of the school age would effect a considerable reduction in juvenile unemployment.

With regard to the provision made for juvenile instruction classes under the Unemployment Act, I am afraid the noble Viscount has not at all convinced me. They may not be quite so bad as I thought, but they are still pretty bad, and they are no substitute for the raising of the school age. I am sorry to say the noble Viscount's speech is a very great disappointment to me, and I know it will be a very great disappointment to numbers of people all over the country. However, we shall try again. I have been advocating the raising of the school age for the last twenty years, and I have not done yet. In conclusion, I should again like very much to thank the noble Vis- count and ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.