HL Deb 15 July 1942 vol 123 cc831-95

VISCOUNT SAMUEL rose to call attention to the need for the expansion after the war of the national system of education; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I am well aware that, when a discussion is opened on some question of post-war development, there is in some quarters of this House, and doubtless outside, a certain feeling of impatience that the attention of the House should be diverted from the urgent questions of the war. There are many who think that, living as we do now in times of great difficulty and danger, with great battles raging at this moment in the East and in Russia, it is out of place in some degree to divert public effort from the immediate problems of the war. It is always necessary, therefore, to insist that that narrow and shortsighted view is profoundly mistaken. We are bound now, even in existing circumstances, to exercise foresight and to take the measures that will be necessary to i deal with the situation which is certain to arise as soon as the war ends.

If after demobilization, and with the closing of munition factories, the Government of that day are not ready with large I measures of physical planning for town and country, and with measures for social development, there will be a feeling of resentment and of anger among the returning soldiers and the dismissed workers, and among the population in general. If the Government of that day are able to meet the representations that are made and to answer the the questions addressed to them in both Houses only by saying that they are giving all these questions active consideration, that they are exploring every avenue and turning every stone and straining every nerve, but as a matter of fact doing nothing in particular, there will be in this country a social and political crisis that will be very dangerous. And it is not enough that we should in these days express general aspirations: we must prepare now specific measures. That is why some of us in this House and others in another place and many throughout the country have been urging insistently month after month that preparations should be made now for the establishment of a Ministry of Planning, which has been done, and for the introduction of necessary empowering legislation, which is now being prepared; and also that we should deal with such urgent questions as family allowances, prepare for the creation of a coherent system of social assistance, and be prepared on all these matters with plans well in advance so as to meet a situation which it is easy to foresee.

Your Lordships will have observed with, I think, some satisfaction that there has been of late a greater appreciation of the debates in your Lordships' House than has frequently been the case in earlier times, and that is I think precisely because there is a feeling that here, with proper foresight, consideration is being given to these post-war problems now. The House of Lords, which was regarded as mainly engaged in fighting rearguard actions in defence of privilege, is now seen to be a forward-looking assembly, and not only holding important debates on questions of war strategy and of international policy, but also helping to mould and guide the public opinion of the country for a planned advance after the war. That is why I make no apology for moving this Motion to-day.

I would beg your Lordships also not to yield too readily to the argument that after the war the country will be so impoverished and the national Exchequer so bare that it is futile to expect that any measures involving expenditure, such as the development of the national system of education, can be considered seriously. I do not advance the argument that since we are now spending £12,000,000 a day or more on the war therefore it should be easy after the war to find £100,000,000 a year for family allowances, or for education, or for whatever it may be. That is a very specious argument, and the deduction to be drawn from the fact that we are now engaged in this colossal expenditure is rather the opposite: that since so many thousands of millions are being spent year by year it is more probable that, with the necessary reduction of taxation, money may be somewhat lacking for social purposes.

The point I would dwell upon in answer to that contention is this. It is the same that I advanced a month ago when we were debating family allowances. I will not repeat the argument now, but would merely mention the conclusion, which was that the national income has grown to a most extraordinary degree during the present century. While at the beginning of the century the best fiscal authorities estimated it as in the neighbourhood of £1,600,000,000 a year, a White Paper which was presented by the Treasury now states it at £6,000,000,000 a year, or rather over £6,000,000,000—£6,300,000,000. That is to say, the national income in sterling has grown four-fold within the present century, an astounding and of course quite unprecedented increase. And although it is true that what is meant by pounds is not the same now as it was then, the fall in the value of the pound is only a fraction of this immense increase from £1,600,000,000 to £6,300,000,000 per annum, and the question before the nation is how this immense growth in wealth should be distributed—whether it should go in private luxury or in comforts, or whether it should be devoted to a greater and greater extent in a social effort to use the national revenue for raising the whole level of civilization of the nation. In that effort education is, of course, predominant.

Your Lordships had a debate occupying two days in February on the subject of education that was mainly directed, in accordance with the terms of the Motion on which it was based, moved by the most reverend Primate, Archbishop Lord Lang of Lambeth, to the question of religious education, which is of course of fundamental importance in the national system. To that I will briefly refer, but in the main I would invite your Lordships to view the system of education as a whole. I have put down a Motion emphasizing the need for the expansion of the national system, and by the word "expansion" I mean its extension in all three directions—length, breadth and depth. And by length "I mean the period over which education should be continued; by "breadth" the area in which it should be extended over the nation; and by "depth" the content of the education that is given and the subjects that are dealt with.

With regard to the period of education—the dimension of length—I can deal with that briefly, for there is a very general agreement. There is widespread insistence among educationists on the need for nursery schools and that education should take account far more fully than hitherto of infants under five. Secondly, it is generally agreed that the ordinary elementary school-leaving age should be raised as soon as possible to fifteen. Parliament has indeed legislated in that sense. An Act was passed with that intention in 1936, and although it has been necessarily suspended during the war, everyone concurs that as soon as opportunity offers that Act should be brought into force, with, I trust, many fewer exemptions than were allowed under the original Statute. The President of the Board of Education, in a most able and comprehensive speech which he made in another place a month ago, himself said that he thought that should be done as soon as opportunity offers, and Archbishop Lord Lang regarded that reform as imperative.

Complaints are often heard of the comparative illiteracy of a considerable part of the population, even after three-quarters of a century of compulsory education. It is asked, what kind of a system of education have we when so many, even young men and women, have apparently only the smatterings of knowledge and when—this is a rather sad example of our present civilization—after so many years of education the ancient impudent nonsense of astrology is again rearing its head and, with the assistance of the popular Press, is commanding the attention and apparently the approval of many millions of our population? It is to be hoped that this is only a transitory phase. Nevertheless, it is a reflection on the educational system of the country that such a thing should even be conceivable. Education is so often imperfect largely because of the early age at which children leave school, but many educationists hold that it is even more because of the very large classes which are customary in our elementary schools. Some experts would say that the most immediate necessity is an improvement in school buildings, some would say an extension of the school age, but many would urge that undoubtedly smaller classes are an even greater necessity than either of those two. Before the war, apart altogether from the present difficult conditions, one-third of all the classes in the elementary schools consisted of over forty pupils, and 100,000 children received their education in classes of over fifty. Effective teaching is not possible in such conditions. Mass-production methods may be excellent when you are making motor cars, tanks, or airplanes, but they are not likely to be successful when you are trying to produce educated men and women.

Seventy per cent. of all the children in the country leave school at fourteen and from then, during the impressionable formative years to eighteen, only a small fraction receive any form of instruction at all. Even if the age were raised to fifteen or (as it may be hoped after a time) to sixteen, there would still be need of further education until adult life is reached. There is again a general measure of agreement that after the war the Fisher Act of 1918, providing for part-time continuation education, ought to be brought into effect. That Act would have required 320 hours a year of part-time education up to the age of sixteen and, seven years after it came into force, up to the age of eighteen. A measure of that sort is indeed most desirable.

Furthermore, during those years the influence of the Youth Movement should be extended. After all the efforts that have been made in recent times, and the devoted work of hundreds or thousands of voluntary organizations all over the country, the Youth Movement after the school-leaving age only touches one in three of the children and two-thirds are wholly unaffected by it. Its success depends on the number of qualified leaders available. We should recognize that in relation to young people there will be in future two professions—not only the profession of school teacher, but also the profession of youth leader. Both of them will need organization and encouragement by the State itself. The President of the Board of Education in his statement a month ago announced that he had appointed a new Youth Advisory Council to go into these matters and frame the necessary measures. Physical training is of course another branch of education the importance of which is now widely recognized, and the medical services in the schools, the distribution of milk, and the provision of meals have done very much to improve the health of the child population and, therefore, the future health of the nation as a whole. These will need further encouragement and development.

One point in connexion with this question of the period of education—the dimension of length—to which I would draw very special attention is one on which far too little hitherto has been heard, and that is the importance of adult education. The President of the Board of Education in the statement to which I have referred did not mention it at all. A most interesting book, which I would recommend to your Lordships' attention, has been written recently by Sir Richard Livingstone, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, with the title The Future in Education, devoted to this theme. He makes out a very powerful case for greater opportunities for adult education. This matter is becoming more important in our own days because of the shortening of the hours of labour and the greater leisure which is available to the population at large. It must be confessed that in Germany closer attention has been paid to this aspect than has been paid here, and that is true of other countries as well. The Danish People's High Schools are an admirable example. They give residential courses, though only for a few months, at university standards to a very large part of the whole population. Here the Workers Educational Association, with very limited resources, is catering for about 60,000 adults; but what is 60,000 among all the millions concerned? The co-operative societies and the University Extension movement, now seventy years old, are also active in this sphere. There is unquestionably a demand for it by the population of to-day.

There has been an enormous expansion of serious reading. Reprints of the best literature and of excellent text-books in the Home University Library, the English Classics series, the Wayfarers' Library, and many more, including the sixpenny editions, have sold literally in tens of millions. That shows that the nation at large is not solely concerned with the reading of detective stories and other kinds of fiction. The public libraries also testify that during the war there has been an unprecedented demand for books and a strong trend towards non-fictional reading amongst the population. That adult education might be of very great value is emphasized by Sir Richard Livingstone, who points out that almost any subject is studied with more interest and intelligence by those who have had some experience of life and who know something of the subject matter. I remember reading that Anatole France is recorded to have said in conversation once: "It was only after I had finished my studies that I began to learn." An expansion of the whole system of adult education in every form after the war is one of the principal things in which the national system as a whole could usefully be extended.

With regard to the breadth of education, the area over the nation to which it should be extended, we have emerged from an age in which wealth had almost a monopoly of the best education, but there is much still to be done in securing equality of access. Half the students in our universities now, including Oxford and Cambridge, are drawn from secondary schools which are part of the State system. But while we wish to extend facilities for the people as a whole in the upper ranges of education, we ought to beware of imposing any system of uniformity. Variety is of the greatest value. There was a French Minister of Education in the last century who boasted that when he looked at the clock in his office he could say what every child in France was learning at that hour in every school. Well that in itself would be a grave condemnation of any educational system.

Similarly with regard to the private schools. For the younger ages up to fourteen and beyond, many of those schools are undoubtedly bad educationally. The majority do not accept inspection, which is still voluntary, by the local education authority or by the Board of Education. A Committee which sat ten years ago reported that there were 10,000 of those schools and that less than a quarter of them were inspected. While many are excellent (probably the majority) a certain proportion are educationally bad. Undoubtedly the system of inspection should be made compulsory over the whole of that school grade. But there are some now—I read in the Press and I hear voices raised—who would suppress the private school altogether in the interest of a democratic nation, which would have all attend only the common schools. That savours rather too much of the Nazi principle of Gleichschaltung, complete uniformity. In the interest of the child you may forbid the parents from giving a worse education than the national system provides, but have you the right to forbid the parents to give the child a better education, if it is available, than is provided by the national system?

When education became a matter of State action there were many who foretold that it would be very dangerous, that a democratic State would be liable to cast the whole educational system in a single mould, and that instead of raising all to the level of the best they might be tempted to reduce the upper ranges to the average. There was a very profound observation made by Matthew Arnold which I would commend to the attention of everyone. He said this: Many are to be made partakers in well-being; true; but the ideal of well-being is not to be on that account lowered and coarsened. That is a very good maxim to be impressed on the democracy that would rightly extend the area of well-being to the whole nation. You ought not for that reason' to lower or to coarsen the ideal that is pursued. As to the position of the great public schools, I think there again there is a general agreement, or almost general agreement, that a larger number of the pupils should be admitted from the less wealthy sections of the population; but I do not wish to dwell upon that matter for here again the President of the Board has appointed an expert Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Fleming to examine the whole of that situation.

I would turn then, lastly, to the third dimension, to the depth of the education to be provided. In a somewhat materialistic and utilitarian age like this there is a strong tendency towards vocational training, and the average of people in the nation are inclined to think that children go to school in order to be trained to earn their living, and to get on in the world, and for very little more. As Emerson said: Things are in the saddle And ride mankind. There is a danger that by emphasizing too much the technological side we may be producing a somewhat sordid civilization in which people merely spend their lives in earning the means of living, and when they grow old find they have not lived at all. There is, however, a reaction from this. And strangely enough in Russia, which is the home of Marxian materialism and which preaches the doctrine that mankind is governed by economic factors, it is there that the State spends much effort and energy in promoting pure science, literature, drama and all the arts, an interesting repudiation of the fundamentals of Marxism. They realize that in fact the man is more than the work, and although everyone would agree that technical education is necessary and that people must be helped to earn their livelihood in handicrafts or agriculture or whatever it may be, there is surely a need for being cautious lest that side of education is over-emphasized and the whole system made unduly utilitarian.

Here one comes to the question of moral education which was regarded in earlier days as the field of a great contest between the various Churches. I well remember the Balfour Education Bill if 1902, for I made my maiden speech in another place on the Third Reading of that Bill, when the controversy was raging over the whole nation between the Church of England and the Catholic Church on the one hand and the Free Churches on the other. Now, forty years after, what a change there has been! That controversy, which blocked the constructive measures of education for a whole generation, has now almost disappeared. Two months ago there appeared in the Press a letter under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the leaders of the Free Churches, announcing the formation of a Joint Committee of the Churches for international friendship and social responsibility. I regard that as one of the most significant and hopeful signs of these times. The Churches now, in the presence of the open challenge of paganism in Germany and elsewhere, and of schools of philosophy which reject the religious ethic altogether, with the terrible results we see in the world, are coming together and subordinating the differences that divide them, in pursuance of the greater aims on which they are all agreed.

When we look at Germany there is another thing that may be observed. There are many in this country who say that the old people have mismanaged the world and that it is for youth to redeem it. But what kind of youth? Let us remember that Fascism and Nazism are also to a great extent youth movements. Education therefore, and moral education, is fundamentally necessary and it should include a proper training in citizenship. I have noticed an omission there from the speech of the Minister of Education. It is necessary that our young people should be taught to understand the complicated organization of the society in which we live and also its relation to other societies in the world. It is therefore essential that we should have a clear idea of the purpose of education. We should not allow it to be monopolized or dominated by the technical side, and we should at least open the doors to a knowledge of history, literature, the arts and the science of living together in societies, and do this not only for some but for all the population. It is said that a little learning is a dangerous thing, and that may be true, but none at all is fatal. If we inculcate into our youth a thirst for knowledge, a zeal in the search for right ideas, and if that is carried forward into adult life and we give full facilities and active encouragement, in that way, and only in that way, we shall be able to lead our people to the heights of a true national greatness I beg to move.


My Lords, you will, I am sure, be grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for giving us an opportunity of considering again, after no long interval, this important subject of education. For my part I hold that this is the most important subject in the whole field of post-war reconstruction. I do not, of course, underrate the importance of the plans that we may prepare in the economic or the international sphere, but after all they must be framed on assumptions which time may prove to be invalid, and they are dependent on future conditions which we cannot calculate or predict with any certainty. But if the citizens of to-morrow whom we train by our system of education are to be competent and efficient, we do not need to fear in the future that, however complex and unexpected may be the problems which the coming years set before the nation, we shall be unable to meet them. Education is the nation's best investment and its most effective preparation for whatever lies ahead in the secret of the days to come.

There is no one in your Lordships' House who will not have studied with the keenest interest the important statement made by the President of the Board of Education recently in another place of the Government plans and intentions regarding our educational system in peace-time. I am glad to note how much there is in those plans which is likely to command general agreement and support, but I do not for my part propose this afternoon to engage in any critical examination of the details of the plans which have been outlined. I merely pause to place on record on behalf of the Labour Party that we reserve our position in regard to those plans so far as certain principles are concerned to which we attach major importance. In particular, we wish to see the unification of our educational system, and I would say to my noble friend Viscount Samuel that unification is not necessarily a synonym for uniformity. We wish to see a unification of our educational system, but at the same time we recognize that there should be, and there must be, in a highly developed educational system, a rich variety of schools adapted to the varying capacities and the varying vocational aptitudes of the nation's youth. And we hold that entry to that rich variety of schools which we regard as essential should be equally possible for all. We do not regard innate capacity as a prerogative of any class. We believe that if we are to make the fullest use of the living wealth of the nation we must give to all its children the very best educational advantages by which they are capable of profiting.

Having said so much I do not propose to pursue that topic or to examine in any detail the plans which have been outlined for the peace-time work of our educational system. I venture to invite the attention of your Lordships to the very urgent problem—disregarded, I think, at least in part by my noble friend—which will confront the country as soon as hostilities cease, and during the difficult and possibly chaotic period that will then supervene between the "Cease fire" on the battlefield and the resumption of settled peace-time conditions. Whatever future educational system we envisage then this post-armistice problem is one which we cannot escape. When it comes it may come upon us swiftly and it will present difficulties of unprecedented complexity. If we plan for nothing else in regard to education, we must plan for this. It may well prove a protracted period. In all probability the war will end in piecemeal fashion, first in one theatre, then in another, and it is likely to be followed by an extensive period of international unsettlement. We shall have to maintain armies of occupation abroad and considerable reserve forces at home. On the civilian front there will be the task of winding-up war industries and returning the workers in them to their peace-time tasks, half forgotten perhaps or even not yet learnt. Socially the nation will be in a ferment of confused motion. Families will be reassembling, children will be coming back from overseas or from countryside homes to which they have been evacuated. In the urban areas to which they will try to return numbers of schools will have been destroyed by enemy action while other schools will have been diverted to war-like purposes and be unavailable without clearance, re-equipment and reconditioning. In addition post-war industrial plans may bring about a permanent shifting of population to other areas than those in which people lived and worked before the war.

This immediate and inescapable post-armistice problem will include the reinstatement of educational arrangements for the children and juveniles in elementary, post-elementary and secondary schools in the areas to which they will return from the country or the areas to which they will be transferred. It will include the completion of the education of those young people whose studies have been cut short or interrupted by the war. It will involve the educational re-equipment of those who had perhaps completed some course of study, but have been diverted by the war to quite different tasks, whether in the Services or in war industry, and must receive fresh training to recover their lost competence. It will involve the technical training of those young people whom the war has switched into temporary jobs in which there is no future during peace-time. And, in a sense most urgent of all, it will involve the provision of teachers and instructors for the universities, schools and training centres which will be required to cope with this vast demand for national education, juvenile and adult, scholastic and technical.

The problem of renewing the education of children of school age during the post-armistice period is perhaps the most straightforward part of this programme, though I do not underrate its difficulties. One of those difficulties will be the purely physical work of providing adequate school premises and equipment at the right places in competition with the other claims of extreme urgency upon our building force. I would most earnestly support the plea made by the noble Viscount that the school age should be raised to fifteen and, as soon as possible afterwards, to sixteen. From the purely educational standpoint that is a reform which is overdue; it is, in any case, desirable on its merits. In the post-armistice period it will have additional value. Economically it will be advantageous to bring in this measure as soon as fighting ceases, so that the pressure upon the absorptive capacity of industry, in the difficult period of readjustment to peace conditions, may not be strained at the critical moment by room having to be found for large numbers of juveniles just when demobilized Service men are pouring back on the look-out for jobs. Raising the school age will be beneficial educationally and industrially, and the same result will flow from a well-devised and comprehensive system of compulsory day continuation classes, to which my noble friend has referred. That, in our view, must be an integral part of the post-war educational lay-out.

But it is when we come to consider the young adults who are at present serving with the Forces, or have been drawn into temporary war industries, that we reach the most difficult part of the post-armistice problem—the problem of educational rehabilitation. Many of these youngsters have lost the higher education for which they were destined, or the technical training and apprenticeship to industry which they would normally have obtained. Yet on their competence and their efficiency must depend in the future our national supply both of personnel and of leadership to fill the professions, the public services, the commercial, administrative, industrial and operative activities of the country in the years ahead. Let me take first those of university level. Those are young people who had already begun courses at universities, or other higher training centres, for a professional or administrative career, and those, younger still, who would, but for the interruption of the war, have gone on from school to some such institutions, or might, with advantage to themselves and to the nation, have been sent there. Most of them to-day are in the Services and will be there when the "Cease Fire" sounds. It is my submission that it is of vital importance that the nation shall enable these young people to enter on or resume their higher education and complete their unfinished courses.

It will not be easy for them mentally or psychologically. In the preoccupations of war their studies have been forgotten, and their capacity to study grown rusty. Army life impairs the habit of intellectual application. One is habitually in a crowd. Time is full, or broken up by duties. Steady reading becomes almost impossible. At first sight it might seem to your Lordships desirable to give these young people a high priority for demobilization in order to get them back to the universities as soon as possible. But your Lordships may perhaps consider that not to be the wisest course. There is a grave danger that they may at first, after their recent activities, feel a kind of revolt against the quiet and discipline of scholarship and rush off to seek some well-paid post-war job. That is exactly what happened in a number of cases after the, last war, and the country was the loser. I submit, therefore, that since it is likely that the end of the war will come piecemeal, and that there will be a need to keep considerable reserves in the Forces for some time after the armistice, these young people should not at first be demobilized at all. Instead, they should to the greatest possible extent be temporarily seconded from their units to attend special refresher courses organized on an extensive scale for their benefit at the universities or training schools where they were studying before the war, or had intended to study.

I suggest that they should continue on Service pay and establishment, and be liable to be recalled to their units at any moment if wanted. They would thus be subject to a degree of directive control to ensure that they do in fact carry out their studies and gain the advantage of, say, a year's special refresher course before demobilization. Your Lordships will readily appreciate that there would be two advantages in this procedure. First, they would be held off the labour market during a confused and difficult time when the Government will have their hands full trying to place back in industry the millions of war workers thrown out of employment by the cessation of war industries. Secondly, they would get a chance to recover their lost ground in the course of study they were previously following, and to re-establish the mental and psychological background that would make it possible for them to carry on and complete their training after demobilization. This suggestion is not put forward as an alternative to the Government's plans based upon their experience after the last war for providing assisted training on the widest scale for potential university students. It is proposed, indeed, as a supplement, or perhaps rather as a preface, to those schemes.

It has the advantage that it does not raise at the outset the question of whether a candidate is in need of a Government bursary, or likely to profit by the grant of a Government bursary. At the time that this question has to be answered, the young adults themselves and the education authorities will both be in a better position to know whether such grants will be welcome or desirable. The scheme, of course, would not be cast-iron. There are those who will have to be given early release from the Forces for domestic reasons, or because their professional services are urgently needed as teachers, or in some other expert capacity; but the scheme could with advantage be applied to a very large number of young people of both sexes now in the Services, to re-equip them for their civilian life or to prepare them for a resumption of their studies.

In the case of young men and women who are rather of the apprentice and industrial category, renewed scholastic training, though eminently desirable—I agree with my noble friend most firmly on that—is perhaps in a sense less essential as a practical equipment for their future calling. It should certainly be available for them, and in generous measure, in combination with the technical or other vocational training suited to the work which they intend to take up. I suggest that a somewhat similar procedure should be followed in their case to that which I have proposed for students of university status. They, too, should in general be retained as far as possible in the Services, instead of being incontinently demobilized, and they should be seconded to special training centres, where they would get an initial practical training in the work which they expect to take up in civilian life, together with a suitable amount of general education to widen their horizon and improve their general mental efficiency.

The time spent by young adults at such centres before demobilization will not, I think, be anything like so long as on the case of academic students, since it will tend to merge on demobilization not into further study but into industrial employment or apprenticeship on an economic basis, supplemented, perhaps, by Government assistance on lines such as the Government are now planning. On the other hand, the numbers which it will be possible to benefit by such training will be very much larger than in the case of those of university status, and I regard it, as I think your Lordships will regard it, in the light of the experience of this war, as a matter of first-rate public interest and national importance to increase to the utmost the number of those with a thorough technical equipment. While it may be possible to retain in the Services for a time a considerable number of young adults under the system which I have outlined, what is certain is that for a large proportion of those in the Services demobilization, after hostilities have definitely closed, will have to be carried out as rapidly as it can be satisfactorily organized. We must face the fact, however, that many of those may have lost their former technical skill in their old jobs, and that some never possessed any, having been employed in blind-alley jobs; and, in the changing economic conditions of the postwar world, it would in any event be impossible to ensure re-employment in their former callings to all on demobilization.

Along with those demobilized from the Services, we have to consider, of course, those demobilized from war industry, and especially the young people who were more or less marking time in some blind-alley occupation until they were called up. To meet the needs of those young adults—and I would include all who are not too old to learn a new craft—provision will have to be made to offer technical and vocational and general educational facilities on the very greatest scale. It will test our organizational possibilities to the utmost. Technical and evening institutes and colleges must be called in to make their contribution to this; evening and part-time classes must be extensively arranged; and I would emphasize with all my power what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has said with regard to the prime importance and necessity of adult education, to which Sir Richard Livingstone, in the book to which my noble friend has referred, has made reference in so interesting a fashion, suggesting that adult education should proceed along the lines of the Danish folk school. Every agency must be brought into play, even the B.B.C. Even the B.B.C. might be called on to help, and the time now wasted in the dreary trifling of the Forces programme might be turned to better account in the service of education.

I take it, speaking for myself, that compulsory military training has come to stay, and, in that connexion, I would suggest that in the industrial field the traditional period of apprenticeship might well be shortened. Educated youth can acquire a knowledge of technical processes more quickly than the mentally less trained generations of the past. The raising of the school age results in their starting their apprenticeship with maturer minds, and in practice it is found that the modern technical processes are much simpler to master than the unrationalized, obscure, rule-of-thumb craft methods of bygone days. Apprenticeship might well be completed by the age of eighteen, and at that age also those who are proceeding to university courses leave the secondary schools. At that age compulsory military service might be the rule—including, of course, the alternative of other forms of national service.

To sum up the arguments which I have ventured to address to your Lordships, let me say that, whatever view is taken of the particular suggestions which I have advanced, this at least is certain: the post-armistice period will bring a crop of inescapable educational problems which must be faced and specially planned for, quite irrespective of the general scheme which we may be thinking out for our future educational system. In particular, the rising generation will have lost two or three, or perhaps four, years of its most critically important education. We cannot as a nation afford that loss. We must plan now to restore to them the locust-eaten years; and to give them the special training which they require we shall need premises, teachers, equipment and a policy, and none of these things can be improvised at a moment's notice. I trust that the President of the Board of Education will begin without delay to make sure that the Board will be able to produce all four as the need arises. We dare to cherish high hopes for the future of this nation in the years that lie ahead. If those hopes are to be realized, they will be realized through the quality and the competence of the coming generations of the British people. Of their natural quality we have little doubt, but it is for us to equip them with the educational qualities, the educational opportunities, that will burnish that quality into competence.


My Lords, I think one of the most encouraging features, both of the last debate in your Lordships' House on education and this debate, has been the number of your Lordships who attended and desired to speak. This second debate is held, moreover, after a speech delivered in another place by the President of the Board of Education, a speech, I think, that, while it is perfectly true, as the noble Viscount Lord Samuel said, that it may have had certain omissions, was nevertheless the greatest encouragement to educationists. It showed that we have a President in office who has the subject at heart and who has made a deep study of its needs. I think another point for encouragement is the extraordinary degree of unanimity on the main lines along which our educational machine must advance in the future. We have not mentioned them all to-day—we have not yet had time—but, thinking back to the last debate, almost every point was covered.

Starting with the development of our system for dealing with the two to fives, we are all agreed that that is a vital foundation to our system. I think we are all agreed, too, that the time has come when the dual control of those ages should end, and when they should be definitely handed over to the Board of Education for their care. We are agreed in welcoming the quite immense advance in dealing with the problem of nutrition in the schools—the school meals and milk consumption—that has taken place during the- last year or so. We are all agreed that a system of education that stops as regards about nine-tenths of our school population at fourteen is nonsensical, and that the time has come, if war conditions make it possible, when the school age will certainly be raised to fifteen, if not to sixteen. I remember one of the saddest days of my life was at the beginning of this war when I had to make myself responsible for postponing the operation of the Act, referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for raising the school age. We are all agreed that when the school age is raised to fifteen or sixteen that is not enough, that the passage from school into life has got to be graduated by a system of part-time education up to eighteen. We talk of one day a week along the; lines of the. Fisher Act, and no doubt in the main it will be developed in that direction; but in our flexible educational system I think we ought to be prepared to visualize other alternatives as well. Certainly from the point of view of the children of the country areas you will not be able to collect them together one day a week. I do not see why in the case of those between sixteen and eighteen years of age we should not be able to collect them together for one to three months in the winter.

We recognize, I think, the appalling weakness of our whole system of technical education. Qualitatively in many ways it is extremely good, but I think this war, with the call for greater skill in industry, has shown up deficiencies in industrial training. We are all agreed that the time has come to find some manner by which our public schools can play a greater part in the national system of education—a difficult problem full of pitfalls, and the President of the Board has rightly appointed a Committee to consider the whole question before expressing any views himself. And finally—and this is one of the most important points, and one which I notice received great attention in the debate in another place—great as has been the contribution of the teachers hitherto, that contribution could be immensely increased and enriched if we were able not only to improve the system of training that they receive but also to widen the basis of selection.

If we are agreed on those points, where really is the difficulty of the problem? I do not believe that it lies there, it lies in a much simpler point, and it is this: how much value do we as a nation really place on education? Do we regard it as just one of the Social Services that can be expanded in days of prosperity, or do we see it as what it is, the very basis and foundation of our whole national life? We can have the most perfect equipment of machinery as a nation, and it is not going to help us unless the children, who are the human beings of the nation, have the right beginning in life. It is so hard to speak on this matter simply because we have all said this sort of thing again and again until it has become just a cliché, but until we really do feel, until Governments feel, and parents also feel, and industry feels, that the child to-day literally is the worker and the parent and the citizen of to-morrow, then all these discussions on the future of education are not going to lead us a great deal further.

I hear it said, "Now we are spending thousands of millions of pounds on the war, do you think we are going to be able to expand our Social Services after the war? We shall not be able to afford luxuries." This is not a luxury. The development of the right kind of education is the only condition of this country maintaining its position in the future. Why is it that there are so many people who tend to consider education as a luxury? I think that is a question that educationists have to be prepared to face, because I believe that educationists have a very great degree of responsibility in this regard. It is the view of many people, many responsible, thinking people, that our education as we know it to-day, whilst definitely better than nothing, is not always a great deal more. We have been spending well over £100, 000,000 a year for many years, and yet we are not turning out of our schools efficient workers, we are not turning out girls who really know and understand and are interested in home craft, nor yet the cultured or cultivated citizen. Why is it? It is certainly not merely a question of the age of fourteen being too young; we are all agreed upon that. There are quite enough people who have been at school beyond fourteen for us to realize that this is not just a quantitative problem. It goes deeper than that. The fact is we have got to go a very long way in recasting the whole of the curricula of our schools. This is a subject to which I know the President of the Board of Education is giving his mind. He now has a Committee sitting on the question of examinations, and that certainly is a very definite part of the problem.

The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, referred to the flexibility of our education, and the importance of maintaining that flexibility. We have not yet attained nearly sufficient flexibility. The noble Viscount expressed fear lest we develop too much in a utilitarian direction. I must confess I do not feel that danger. I believe the danger has been rather in the opposite direction. I say that not because I want to see the schools become a place of preparation for the farm or workshop, but we have to face the fact that a large number of human beings are not interested in abstract ideas, and the only way in which we can get their interest is by allowing them to deal with subjects which, in their view, are close to life. The very last thing I desire, in urging a greater rural bias in our country schools, is to design our curricula in such a way as to turn out efficient farm workers, but we ought to design our curricula in the country schools with the object of interesting the child in his surroundings so that he may appreciate the fineness, and possibly the beauty, of the countryside.

There is another aspect of this question—and here I should like to support very strongly what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said. He referred to the writings of Sir Richard Livingstone who, if I may say so, is an educationist who has probably contributed as much to educational thought: in the last few years as anyone else. He has certainly profoundly modified and influenced me in any small thought I have been able to give to the subject. He has stressed particularly the importance of adult education, and he has done so from a special point of view—namely, that at the age when most of us are at school, as the noble Viscount said, our minds are not yet ready to deal with abstract ideas. Later on, when we have met with life, we realize that theories are merely an attempt to explain realities; but if you have never come into contact with realities, as is generally the case at school, I am quite sure a great deal that is taught to the child at school is simply a waste of time. The reason why we do it is that this is the last time we are ever going to see the child. We have so little provision for part-time or adult education that we have to endeavour to teach everything we possibly can in the school. Therefore I hope the President will give his mind, in addition to all the other points on which he is making extensive inquiries, to this subject of the development of adult education. The reality of Sir Richard Livingstone's ideas were particularly borne in on me in the years after the last war when the universities were full of undergraduates who had experienced the war, and the result was that not only they but the universities were immensely enriched. The same theory is borne out by quite a different example—namely, in the Danish high schools which have been mentioned. In Denmark the child leaves school and goes back to the farm, and after two or three years returns to school in order to complete his education.

There is one other reason why we should do everything possible to develop adult education—and this is going back for the moment to the child. The child learns not only from the school but from his home. A great deal too much of what is learnt at the school is unlearnt at home, and until, therefore, we develop adult education pari passu with school education, we are not going to get full value for our efforts and our expenditure of money. This is a particularly opportune time to develop adult education. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, referred to what is going on in the Army. I do not know what your Lordships have heard, but everything I have heard about the Army education service and the parallel service called A.B.C.A.—the Army Bureau of Current Affairs—points to the fact that they are quite first-rate. Our Army to-day is not an Army composed of professional soldiers. It is a civilian Army composed of men who were civilians before the war and who are going back to civilian life. I hope those responsible for the Army education service and A.B.C.A. are keeping that in mind. Everything I hear suggests that they are doing so.

Before I sit down I should like to mention one other development. It is an organization which was set up by Lord Macmillan and myself entitled C.E.M.A., the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. It was established at the beginning of the war when there seemed to be a complete black-out, when there was no work for artists, and when no one who wanted to enjoy art could hear it or see it in the form of pictures. Therefore we set up this organization. At the present time it is giving no fewer than 150 concerts a week in factories, bombed cities, and industrial centres far removed from the normal circuit of the professional concert-givers. I should like to congratulate the President of the Board of Education on persuading the Treasury to raise the grant from £25,000 to £100,000. I hope he will carry that work further, and allow C.E.M.A. to go into the schools, because the more we can bring learning into contact with culture—that, I believe, is one of the great weaknesses of our education system—the better. We are all deeply grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for introducing this Motion to your Lordships' House. We all feel the deep importance of the subject, and I am sure that the discussion which is going to ensue will contribute to the development of it, and will be of real assistance to the Board of Education in developing its ideas for the future.


My Lords, I am intervening for a- very few moments only in this debate, but I should not like the debate to end without some words from these Benches in support of the very strong appeal that has been made by Lord Samuel. I find myself in approval of I think every statement he made in his most interesting speech. I stand as he stands, and I gather every member of the House who has spoken stands, for the same idea—namely, that the best and most appropriate education should be given to every child of the nation irrespective of wealth or of class. Of all forms of government undoubtedly the most dangerous is that of an uneducated democracy. An uneducated democracy has no power of criticism; it is at the mercy of any demagogue, and a dictator may be the most dangerous of all demagogues. If a thing is repeatedly and loudly stated the man who is uneducated is very ready to accept it. Moreover, an uneducated democracy is not able to make the right use of leisure. There will be a great deal more leisure probably in the future—I will not say the immediate future, but certainly in years to come—owing to the reorganization of industry, and unless a man knows how to make the best use of this leisure through education he will probably waste the opportunities which are offered to him. You may offer him the best books and the best buildings, and the best music and the best pictures, but he will be unable to make the right use of them unless he has had some previous education.

Great progress, of course, has been made in education during the last fifty years. I was glad that the noble Lord who has just spoken emphasized how much has been done in every direction in recent years both on the physical as well as on the mental side, but there is much to be done, and there are undoubtedly great weaknesses still evident in the results of our educational system. Lord Samuel has already mentioned some—for instance, the readiness with which people accept any kind of superstition. May I mention another kind of weakness which I often feel comes from our present system of education?—an almost complete lack of the historical sense. I often used to take people round a ruined castle which had behind it a great history. When I first took them—they included people of all classes—I used to say:

"This was built in the reign of so and so" or "This belongs to Anglo-Saxon times" or "Norman times," but after a short time I found that most of them did not know whether the Normans came before the Romans, and as to when the Anglo-Saxons came they were utterly vague. I found it useless saying "This happened in the reign of so and so" because they did not know when that king reigned. I found eventually that the only way I could explain things was to say "This happened 300 years ago" or "500 years ago." There was a complete lack of the historical sense, and there is something lacking in our educational methods that that should be so.

The reforms which I should especially press for are those that have already been mentioned. As soon as possible the classes in a school should be made smaller. It is quite impossible to educate adequately classes of forty or fifty children. What happens is that the child with the sharpest brains gets the benefit, the duller child learns next to nothing. If our education system is to be improved one of the points to which the greatest attention must be paid is that of reducing the size of our classes, and, of course, providing more teachers. Then I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of raising the age of education. I have spoken on this subject more than once in this House. It was a great disappointment to us when the age was not long ago raised to fifteen. I hope it will be raised soon to fifteen and shortly after to sixteen, with compulsory education. It is a grave reflection on the whole of our national system of education that 70 per cent. of the children after they have left school have had no further education.

Let each member of this House ask himself what his intellectual standard would be to-day if he had had to leave school at the age of fourteen. Most of us, I imagine, would have been illiterates. Here and there, no doubt, there would have been some brilliant person who would have risen above the level which may have been imposed upon him by his past environment. Nothing impressed me more during the years I was Bishop of Southwark in the South of London than the way in which life was wasted. You would see a boy leave school at the age of fourteen, full of hope, full of enthusiasm, activity and energy, and by the age of sixteen in these poorer districts he was often an old and disillusioned man. It was pitiable, for all that waste of human life would have been largely, if not entirely, saved if the age of education had been extended. I agree, of course, with all that has been said about the importance of adult education. There is a great deal of adult education carried on to-day with great enthusiasm by the Workers Educational Association and others, but it is only the minority of men and women who attend any of the classes or lectures.

I was very glad that the noble Lord opposite, Lord Nathan, stressed the importance of seeing that those who by their service in the Army have had their education interrupted shall have special attention paid to them when the war comes to an end. I cannot help thinking that we may have a special opportunity given to us through the circumstances of war of taking some action on the lines which Sir Richard Livingstone has told us have been followed for many years past in Denmark. There are a number of large houses, which I am afraid can never again be used by their private owners, that are now in the occupation of the military or hospitals, which at the end of the war will once again probably be vacant. Could not the Board of Education, or whoever is the proper authority, reserve some of these attractive houses in attractive surroundings for schools of adults on the lines of those schools in Denmark?

Then the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, stressed the importance of moral education. I was very interested in reading that remarkable book by Professor Carr on Conditions of Peace, in which he said that the real problem in front of us is a moral problem. I do not want to speak now on the whole subject of religious education as only recently a debate was held in this House on that subject. All I would say is that moral teaching really does depend on religious conviction, if it is to be based on a firm and lasting foundation. There is a greater opportunity to-day of a religious settlement than there ever has been since education became universal, and I hope that this opportunity may be used while the nation is still ready and eager for a satisfactory settlement of the question of religious teaching in our schools. I would join with other noble Lords in stressing the importance of the Government making, as I have no doubt they are making, their plans at once so that when the problems and the opportunities of peace come we may be able to make the most of these opportunities to build up a nation of citizens who will best be able to confront the dangers and problems of the years in front of us.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in initiating this debate, has raised a subject of absorbing interest and paramount importance. If he will allow me to say so, I think he has presented to your Lordships a concise and masterly account of the various ways in which educational expansion will be needed when' this war is concluded. It is a strange and in some ways rather tragic commentary on Western civilization that educational advance has so often been found to be associated with war. That has certainly been our experience. The Napoleonic wars had barely concluded before the House of Commons had a debate on a national scheme of education; in 1848 there was a considerable advance; and 1870, a year of war and revolution, saw our first great Education Act. Then came the South African war and shortly after that the Balfour Act and Lord Rose-bery's Chesterfield speech. In the last year of the 1914–18 war we had the memorable Fisher Act. This war is not likely to prove any exception to that history.

There will be a universal demand in this country for a full and generous reshaping of the whole of our educational system. The nation will expect to secure, in the words of the Prime Minister, a state of society where the advantages and privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by a few, shall be far more widely shared by the youth of the nation as a whole. Therefore plans must be made now, and indeed are being made now. It is fairly common knowledge that the Board of Education has been for some time formulating a programme of far-reaching changes in our educational system covering the whole age group from childhood to the adult state. I do not propose to range over the whole of that period, but I would like to make three points. The first point concerns the children to whom the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, referred between the ages of two and five years. I do not think the present arrangements for the supervision of the health of that age group are adequate. As your Lordships know, the maternity and child welfare authorities under the Ministry of Health, have certain powers and have set up on a fairly wide scale infant welfare centres with the duty of giving advice to parents on the care of their children. In actual practice parents have taken nothing like full advantage of those facilities, and, moreover, there is a tendency on the part of the authorities to concentrate their efforts upon the first year of the child's life. In that respect they have done splendid work and made a great contribution towards' the reduction of infant mortality, but much less effort has been applied to children in the later years of that age group.

Meanwhile the powers and responsibilities of the local education authorities in regard to the medical inspection and treatment of children are confined to children attending school. Before the war there were about 1,500,000 children between the ages of two and five. Of these some 200,000 were in nursery schools and schools under local education authorities. Most of those were over four and only a handful under that age. Therefore the position was and, so far as I know, still is, that only about one-seventh of the children of that age group can benefit from medical inspection and care which the local education authorities provide. It is true that great developments have taken place, and are taking place, in wartime nurseries which serve an essential war-time need in caring for the children of women engaged in war work, but that is a war-time effort and necessarily an improvisation. Those nurseries are administered by the maternity and child welfare authorities, and when they were first conceived I thought responsibility for these nurseries should rest between local education authorities. However, other counsels prevailed, and on the whole I think rightly, because the maternity and child welfare authorities have power to deal with that age group. The need was urgent, time was pressing and delay was avoided which must have occurred if new organizations with staffing problems had to be set up. But I am sure that the present arrangement is not a suitable permanent peace-time solution.

When the war is concluded we shall want a much wider provision of nurseries under the local education authorities who, by their experience in running schools, are much better equipped than the maternity and child welfare authorities for dealing with children of two years of age and upwards in nurseries of whatever sort those nurseries may be. I very much hope that responsibility for the training and care of the children from two to five years of age will be given to local education authorities. That will ensure not only constant medical supervision but the provision of school meals, milk and so forth. One cogent reason for the transfer of these children to the Board of Education and the local education authorities is that before the war—and so far as I know it is still the position—a very considerable percentage of children entering school for the first time at five years of age, had defects which should have been discovered and treated earlier. Every year the school medical service is confronted with large numbers of children coming to school for the first time suffering from defects such as malnutrition—not necessarily the result of poverty but sometimes of ignorance—skin diseases and various deformities. Many of these defects were remedial but in some cases irreparable damage had been done.

The provision of more nurseries would go some way to remedy that position; but I think that the real remedy does not lie in a vast increase of nursery schools. For one thing that would take far too long to deal with an appreciable number of children, and meanwhile suffering would go on. I hope that the Government, when the time comes, will introduce legislation to extend the powers and duties of local education authorities and place upon them the obligation to provide medical inspection and treatment for all children over two years of age, whether attending school or not. I do not suggest that the two to five age group should be compelled to attend for medical inspection, but I feel sure that parents would be more ready to use facilities offered by the local education authorities. When a parent has a child at school there will be greater inclination to bring the younger children and take advantage of the school clinic. Moreover, local education authorities with their attendance officers and school nurses have excellent avenues of approach to parents so that they can encourage them to bring their I children for inspection and treatment. I believe it is true that practically every child is born healthy, and it is deplorable that by the time the age of five is reached so many children have developed defects. I do think that the gap between the two-year and the five-year classes—between the upper limit of effective provision by the maternity and child welfare authorities and the lower limit of provision by the local education authorities—should be closed. I am sure that if this were tackled and the gap closed by the means I suggest children would be given a much better start in life, and a healthier and stronger generation would be produced.

My second point concerns the school-leaving age and secondary education, which is, I think, the keystone of any successful educational system. Had it not been for the war the school-leaving age would now have been fifteen. We have lost nearly two precious years and noble Lords who have read the Spens Report on Secondary Education will recollect that it is stated there that: The adoption of a minimum leaving age of sixteen, which is now the rule in grammar schools, may not be immediately practicable, but must even now be envisaged as inevitable. That is my belief and my hope. I am well aware that there will be grave difficulties in the way of buildings and staff and so on. But before such an extension becomes possible we must, so far as we can, make sure that we have devised adequate forms of secondary education suitable to meet the varying tastes and capacities of the children to be educated. Some educational reformers have expressed their wishes in the phrase or slogan "Secondary education for all." If that means that every child after the age of eleven is to be given a secondary education of precisely the same type as is now received by the minority of children at that age who now attend secondary schools, then I should regard such a reform with very grave misgiving. For reasons that lie deep down in our history much of our education has been, and still is, of an academic type, designed and still suitable for preparing young people for professional or commercial occupations and intimately connected with the universities. But, as Sir Cyril Norwood has stated, "a nation is not better educated for life because it has more B.As. to the acre than any other," and the openings for a professional or commercial career are now in the nature of things fairly strictly limited.

I can think of nothing more disastrous than to impose a uniform education on these children regardless of their individual abilities or their special preferences and then throw them out equipped only for a range of activities far too limited to absorb more than a small proportion of them. It has been said by someone—I forget by whom, but I believe it to be true—that the acquisition of knowledge for which no use can be found is a sure method of driving men and women to revolt. Indeed, even as regards the selected minority now in our secondary schools, I do not think there is any ground for undue complacency. I would not go so far as the President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, when he applied to our secondary education Cromwell's description of the laws of England: "A tortuous and ungodly muddle." Our secondary education is far too well regulated and stereotyped to justify such a phrase as that. But I suggest we should take notice of a statement of the authors of the Spens Report when they say that they have formed a general impression that: the existing arrangements for the whole-time higher education of boys and girls above the age of fourteen in England and Wales have ceased to correspond with the actual structure of modern society and with the economic facts of the situation. That, coming from such a source, is rather a serious indictment, and unless it were remedied it would become still more serious, for if certain reforms which I have in mind, and shall briefly touch upon later, are to take place, many more children would be involved.

After the war, as has already been suggested in the debate, I think we shall require much closer unification of our whole educational system. At the present moment I think something like three-quarters of the children in this country over eleven are in what are called elementary schools; one half of that number being in senior schools reorganized under the Hadow plan. But it is really rather absurd now to classify the education given in our senior schools as "elementary." That, no doubt, was a perfectly suitable description in 1870 when the: battle was a battle against illiteracy and the main job was to teach the three R's to three million children. But to-day I in the senior schools the three R's are taken for granted, and history, literature, mathematics, science, handicrafts and physical training flourish as well. In my judgment to call such an education "elementary" is a complete misnomer and does a great deal of harm.

As regards our senior schools—and that term will in due course include all so-called elementary schools for children over eleven—we should, I think, abolish as soon as possible the deleterious and harmful distinctions that still exist between elementary and higher education, distinctions which involve administration by separate authorities, different standards of accommodation, different amenities, difference in the size of classes—an extremely important difference, that—and difference in the salaries of teachers and fees. There is to-day no educational basis whatever for these distinctions between senior and secondary schools. Therefore I think that the term "elementary" should go as soon as it can possibly be dispensed with, and its place be taken by some term like "primary" for schools taking children up to eleven and "post-primary" or "secondary" for schools taking children for the succeeding period. That will clear the way for the reforms adumbrated in the Spens Report—for instance, that there should be three types of secondary or post-primary schools for children over eleven; modern schools developed from the senior schools with a leaving age of fifteen, secondary schools developed from the grammar schools with a leaving age of sixteen to eighteen, and technical high schools developed from the junior technical schools with a leaving age of fifteen or sixteen.

All of these schools will be of secondary school status, and I think we should do our best to see to it that no question of prestige or unreal distinction between so-called liberal and vocational types of education stand in the way of establishing parity of status betwen these three types of secondary education. The first step is compulsory attendance. The age of compulsory attendance must be raised to fifteen. That reform is already on the Statute Book in the 1936 Act. But there is another major development already embodied in Statute—the day continuation schools of the Fisher Act. Obviously that Act will require substantial modification in the light of the experience gained in the last twenty years. I am sure the principle of it is sound, and it is a thousand pities that it was allowed virtually to lapse soon after the last war concluded. I think your Lordships will agree that there is a consensus of opinion that, after this war, educational control over our children should not cease at the age of fifteen to sixteen, but should be extended to at least eighteen.

This brings me to my third and last point. To educate some 40,000,000 people to be good citizens of a modern democratic State has been and is, and for a long time will be, a task of appalling magnitude. We have been engaged in it now for some seventy years, and I do not think that any of us can say that we can regard the result so far achieved with profound satisfaction. That is not in the least surprising when we consider that, as has been pointed out already, nearly four-fifths of our children cease all contact with systematic education at the age of fourteen, and there are a great many electors in the country whose education ceased several years earlier. It is naturally impossible adequately to train the reasoning faculty of children in the nine years between five and fourteen, and the inevitable consequence is that vital decisions affecting the whole community are and will be governed rather by emotion and by prejudice than by the use of intelligence. As Professor Jebb has said, "it is not well to teach a democracy to read unless we also teach it to think," and that idea has been well expressed by some Frenchman who said: "Pouvoir sans savoir est fort dangereux."

It is in fact quite hopeless to expect a child to leave school at the extremely immature age of fourteen, or fifteen for that matter, with a reasonably developed critical sense, with an ability to weigh evidence and with the power to distinguish a good argument from a bad one. There is not much ground, at any rate at present, for supposing that the majority of the children will secure those faculties later, and the result is that the whole of our system of democratic government runs grave perils. As an example, after a child has left school at fourteen he is subjected to a veritable bombardment from a host of cheap newspapers, the object of which is mainly to make money, and whose managers know perfectly well that it is more profitable to appeal to passion and prejudice than to reason and intelligence. These sensational newspapers are very strong meat for children leaving school at fourteen, and for them thereafter, and, if these children have little or no critical faculty, it may be that these newspapers are very poisonous meat.

Sir Richard Livingstone, in his admirable book, asks the question "How are we to become an educated nation?" He points to the enormous outlay on our educational system, and to the astounding display of educational equipment; "and yet," he says, "most of the passengers in a railway carriage will be reading some paper like the Daily Mirror or the News of the World." He asks what view posterity would form of our civilization from these manifestations of its taste and intelligence. I tremble to think! I sometimes feel that the vast circulation of the cheap Press would almost justify a policy of compulsory illiteracy. It has been said, and with considerable truth, that the function of education is to prevent a child from being humbugged by the newspapers. Unhappily, it takes, and will continue to take, more than nine years of school life to achieve that desirable result. Therefore, my conclusion is this, that unless we can retain these children under edutional control and supervision for a considerably longer period than we do at present, and as long as some of these newspapers appear to be written by the half-educated for the uneducated, so long shall we continue to run the risk of producing what Mr. Aldous Huxley has called "a newspaper-reading, advertisement-believing, propaganda-swallowing, demagogue-led man," "the man," he says, "who makes modem democracy the farce it is."


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Samuel has every reason to congratulate himself on the reception which your Lordships have given to the Motion which he most wisely placed on the Paper. He has received, I think, the compliments of all those who have so far taken part in the debate. It certainly is, as he stated, a striking fact that at this time, when our minds are full of the swaying fortunes of the war, this assembly is prepared to devote itself to the study of the question of education From the speeches which have already been made, it certainly seems that there is agreement on one point—namely, that we are not a very well-educated nation. That appears especially I think, from the speech of the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, who has himself held the office of President of the Board of Education; and I think it will be agreed by most of those who are acquainted with foreign countries that, so far as the acquisition of knowledge is concerned, France, Germany and Italy, to say nothing of the United States of America or the Dominions, are better educated communities than we are. So far as my own knowledge: of those countries goes, I should certainly say that that is the case.

What may be the reasons for that fact, in spite of the seventy years which have elapsed since education became the direct business of the State, it would take too long to consider. In some quarters, no doubt, the view is held that that fact is due to defects in our social system and to class bias, with the result that the incompetent children of incompetent parents are placed in the most responsible posts, with the consequence that we lose ships and lose battles and cannot make machines or make friends. That is too large a subject to enter upon in a debate such as this. More of us, perhaps, hold the view that the main deficiency in our education is that which has been dwelt on by several noble: Lords, and particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, who spoke last—namely, the abrupt closing of the education of the great bulk of the people at far too early an age. That, I think, is uniformly agreed, and much has been said upon the progress that can be made by raising the age of what, I entirely agree with the noble Lord who spoke last, is quite unfairly now described as elementary education, and by the provision for a still longer period of continuation, probably part-time continuation, of education, which many of us connect with the ever-regretted Herbert Fisher.

The question of university education was dwelt upon by the noble Lord who spoke last, and he implied that it was an altogether impossible, and indeed an undesirable, ideal that every boy and every girl of eighteen or so should receive a university education. We have of course to provide for the average person. Genius can generally look after itself pretty well; even outstanding talent generally can find a proper vent for its abilities; but it is a question of how the average boy and girl can get the best possible chance in life. I think many of us, recalling our university days, will remember what an advantage a university education was for many of those, probably proceeding on to some kind of professional life, who were in no way outstanding, did not think of competing for honours, but creditably took an ordinary degree. The fact of their three years, or whatever it might be, at the university was a definite benefit to them. One would like some sort of equivalent to be within the reach of all young people of both sexes.

In the first place, we have to remember that one obstacle, which I think has not been definitely mentioned to-day, although its existence is notorious, is the desire of a great many parents to let their sons and daughters begin to earn their living at an early age. There is no need, surely, to attempt to blame them for that very natural objection taken to a departure from a tradition which has lasted for so many years. But it is an objection which has to be met. It is probably hardly possible to suggest an alternative to beginning a university course unless it be in an early resort, and a continued resort, to the system of adult education, of which many of those who have taken part in the debate have spoken with marked approval. I believe myself that it is along those lines that it may be found possible to give a young man or young woman of average ability something which should be a useful substitute for a university career.

One other point I should like to mention. Science now stands in the forefront of the thought and the hopes of most people who believe in advance in our national life. I hope that I am not likely to be accused of underrating the advantages of scientific training. When the Imperial College was formed by the unification of the scientific colleges at South Kensington, I had the honour of, so to speak, sitting by its cradle and of being the first Chairman of its governing body for a period of several years. I cannot say how greatly I benefited from the close contact which I enjoyed with many of the very first minds in scientific study in the country, in every branch of physics, in the different types of engineering, in chemistry, geology and metallurgy. Therefore I should resent the supposition that I believe a literary or artistic training to be superior to one that is scentific; but I do think that, as things are, owing probably to the fact that advances of science have played such a supreme part in the conduct of the war, there has been something of a tendency to consider that no education which is not scientific can be of any very real value. That I should certainly dispute. We have all of us had friends of fine intellect and powerful imagination to whom it was a practical impossibility to do accurately a sum in simple addition. That type of mind will always exist. At any rate, I hope it will never be thought it is possible to dispense with the advantages of a general and, to a great extent, literary education even in the case of those who are going to make science their life work.

I think it would be agreed by all those responsible for the highest types of scientific education that when boys or girls of sixteen or seventeen come for the highest form of training, the professors would prefer that they should have a general education, and have learnt the power of describing and expressing what they know, rather than that they should have received early training at a technical school. That is a point worth bearing in mind at this moment owing to what I consider is a possible danger—namely, that some people tend to believe that no education that is not technological can be of real and practical value. I look forward with great hope to the future, to what is described as post-war education as it has been sketched by those who have taken part in this debate. We can all look forward with confidence to the part that will be played by the President of the Board of Education who is carrying out to the full the distinction which his name bears both in the academic field and in the field of administration.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, did well, as all your Lordships have probably felt, to extend his very stimulating survey into three dimensions. I must say that, for myself, even so, I should have preferred rather more emphasis on that dimension which the noble Viscount called "depth" and which I should prefer to call "quality." After all, one of the deadliest of the many deadly illusions bred by materialism during the last century has been the instinct to measure progress (which no one is ever prepared to define) in terms of quantity—higher profits, higher wages, greater output of steel and iron, more cars, more cinemas, better plumbing. No wonder that progress, measured so, has brought us to the edge of the abyss! In that same futile and feeble tradition the educational policy of, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say, very many politicians has amounted to little more than perpetual clamour for a higher school-leaving age—a greater quantity, you see, of education, with scarcely a word of reference to quality, to what the unfortunate children are to learn, for all the world as if doctors were solemnly to prescribe more bottles of medicine without pausing to particularize what the bottle should contain. Obviously if the drug inside the bottle is either coloured water or poison, it is not going to do us very much good. Similarly, without quality—the noble Viscount's "depth"—neither his breadth nor his length is going to avail very much.

There are only two points I wish to make, and I shall not attempt to range over the area which previous speakers have covered. I do feel there are two respects in which, in the searching light of war, the whole of our educational system from the elementary school to the universities themselves can be seen to be dangerously deficient. The first of these is the teaching of religion. I shall trouble your Lordships all the less on that point to-day in that, not many weeks ago, you were good enough to allow me to address a few remarks on that subject in the course of a debate in your Lordships' House. But this is not a matter which can be allowed to slumber by anyone who feels, as I feel, that we shall never be entitled to expect to survive this war as victors until we have achieved something like Christian teaching in our schools. I feel therefore called upon to remind your Lordships that progress in this field has been slow, terrifyingly slow, far, far slower than any meeting of the material needs of the people—in the answering, for example, of requests for higher wages or greater facilities for holiday travel.

We still hear much too often of bodies such as the Lancashire Federation of Class Teachers' Associations, which last May was affirming, to use its own words, "its continued and determined opposition" to almost all the objects announced by the Archbishop's Committee last year as being the aims of the United Churches. This Federation, which is, I think, not untypical, was announcing its opposition to what it described as "religious tests in any shape or form," by which, I am afraid, we must understand opposition to any selection for the giving of religions instruction by men and women who really believe in what they teach. It was affirming its opposition to the inspection of religious instruction, one of the chief aims of the United Churches. I do not suppose that any of those teachers would object to inspection of arithmetic or carpentry, but in the twentieth century they still object to the inspection of religious teaching. And, finally, they were wholeheartedly announcing their opposition to the making of religious instruction an optional subject in the examination for the teacher's certificate, another of the objects set forward by the Archbishop's deputation. Religious instruction, is not, say these teachers, to be even an optional weapon in their armoury. No wonder that we still hear of the teacher who at the end of the Scripture lesson bangs down his book with a sigh of heartfelt relief and the exclamation, "if you can believe these fairy stories it is more than I can." While such things can be, this is certainly not a Christian country.

Perhaps I am impatient, but I do feel that there is some ground for the charge that: the Ministry of Education has been too deferential towards the vocal and organized, as I think, minority which opposes the revival of religious instruction, and perhaps a little too respectful towards those, I believe now old-fashioned, critics who for the last ten or fifteen years have been advancing the view that no really progressive school ought to teach any belief at all, that it should be left to the pupil to form on these high matters his own opinion—on which I think the only proper comment is an adaptation of a remark said to have been made by Gilbert Chesterton, that to teach nothing is no more a new form of education than to sleep under a hedge is a new style of architecture. It was in fact that vast lacuna in our schools which gave the Nazis their great opportunity, and, confronted with rivals who on the highest of all matters were content to teach nothing, our enemies, however foolish their teaching, had no cause to feel at a disadvantage. I believe that there is a vast revolution in popular opinion on these matters, and that if the Minister of Education would take his courage in both hands and act a little more decisively and rapidly, he would be astonished at the volume of approval which would support him.

I say that in part because it was my good fortune a few months ago to find myself serving as chairman of a committee whose aim it was to encourage the observance of Empire Youth Sunday in Great Britain—that is to say, to encourage religious observances in which young people should dedicate themselves to their obligations as Christian citizens of the British Empire. This year the response was unprecedented and virtually universal. In county after county evidence reached us that virtually every parish held some form of observance. On all hands we were told that one feature of this almost universal observance of Empire Youth Sunday was that the young people themselves took the initiative in organizing it, and in instance after instance would take the whole organization into their own hands. And the explanation, we were assured, was simple: it was merely that all over the country men and women are turning back to religion, and are conscious of a patriotic fervour for the British Empire which they have too few channels for expressing. Let the Minister bear such facts as this in mind when next he receives a resolution from some well-organized minority to the effect that it is undemocratic for a Christian country to teach the elements of the Christian faith.

That takes me to my only other point, which is, is there not a sense in which the schools of the country may almost be said to be betraying the British Empire itself? Perhaps that is rather an exaggerated phrase, but what, after all, have the schools, from the elementary school indeed right up to the university, taught the young about the greatest political achievement of their own or any race? For the school certificate they still teach them the dreary, dusty and meaningless details of the war of the Austrian succession, but out of eight examining boards five set no special paper at all in the history of the British Empire. In 1940, in the three examinations in which a paper was set, it was taken by only 625 candidates out of 17,300, and up to very lately the Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board was setting a special paper on the making of the German Empire but none whatever on the making of the British Empire.

My Lords, can you doubt that if the British Empire had been the achievement of either Russia or, for that matter, Germany, the young people of either Russia or Germany would have had the whole story dinned into their ears from their earliest school days onwards? Indeed, such is our reverence for the achievements of foreigners and self-depreciation about our own that I am almost tempted to believe that if the British Empire had been Russian or German our own children would perhaps have learnt more about it in our own schools. Do your Lordships recall that symbolic incident of a year or two before the war in which an unfortunate school girl, who had ventured to make some observations which implied a patriotic appreciation of the British Empire, was solemnly rebuked by a Government inspector who assured her that such sentiments were out of date? All this surely is to rob the young of one of their richest moral inheritances from the past. It means that at this moment there are young men going into battle the poorer because they are not armed and inspired by, let us say, familiarity with the story of Francis Drake, because they do not fully know and have never fully known the complete story of what their forebears have dared and accomplished. In short, we are fighting this war to defend Christendom without having taught our children fully what Christendom really is; and we are fighting it to defend the British Empire without having allowed them to know fully what the British Empire means.

But there is some evidence that the tide has turned and is turning. I am not thinking now only or chiefly of that experience, of which I have just told your Lordships, of Empire Youth Sunday, or of what in that connexion a high Salvation Army officer told me when speaking of these observances, no less than 500 of which were counted among Salvation Army people alone, that among his Salvation Army people there was a real patriotic fervour for the British Empire to-day which they found all too few channels for expressing. I am thinking rather of the fact that there has been in existence for a year or two now a Committee of the Headmasters' Conference which is doing its best to remedy these defects. It recently sent out a question naire to headmasters of the Headmasters' Conference Schools from which it appeared that no less than 80 per cent. of them, or rather over, do want questions on Imperial history in the certificate examination. Of course certificate examinations are very trifling matters to trouble your Lordships with, but as anyone who has taught knows, the examination is an indication and a symptom of the whole educational system, and it is not until you have altered your examination that you will alter what is taught in the schools.

That Committee of which I spoke is a purely voluntary organization and its work is the work of private individuals. It is just a symptom of a turning tide, Does the Minister gladly and eagerly avail himself of all this evidence of what I believe to be a real revolution in the feelings of the common man? Only the other day we had to hear him announcing that he was arranging for special teachers' courses in the history of Russia and in the history of the United States, but still to-day not a special course in the history of the British Empire. For a year the British Empire stood alone, from the summer of 1940 to 1941, in defence of the destiny of man, and still a Conservative Minister of Education in a National Government prefers, for what reasons I am not fully advised, a special course for his teachers to be in the history of the United States, or the history of Russia, but not in the history of the British Empire. There once again surely the Government are timidly following public opinion which they ought to be leading.

So far as the Government at any rate are concerned our schools are, it seems to me not too much to say, in a sense betraying the greatest inheritance which has been handed down to us. I feel bound to say that in a sense we cannot claim to be spiritually prepared for victory as long as we tolerate an educational system which ignores the British Empire and which treats the teaching of religion as of less importance than the teaching of arithmetic. The noble Viscount raised many other points, a considerable pro- portion of which would tempt one to comment, but at this late hour I would like to conclude where I began by saying that we undoubtedly need more education, but I believe we need better education first.


My Lords, I should like to say firstly that I feel considerable diffidence in following the noble Lord who has just spoken who knows his subject from A to Z. Secondly, most of the things I had intended to say have been said already. Nevertheless, I hope your Lordships will bear with me if I deal with some of them from a slightly different angle. I was very glad to hear the noble Viscount's remarks about our public schools. I agree that something should be done to enable the children of poorer parents to have a public school education, but whatever is done I hope that the Government will not have any control over the schools, because if that happens then at once politics will come in and the. politician will have his say, which I do not think would be to the good. Our public schools are admired "throughout the world and it world be folly to do away with them as is suggested in some quarters. They have discipline, and the boys are taught to be self-reliant and to take responsibility, and all those things which make good citizens—things which, I regret to say, are rather lacking in the State schools to-day. I should be impertinent if I did not say that such virtues as the right kind of patriotism and self-sacrifice are not the exclusive prerogatives of the public school system. They are the heritage of the British people of all conditions of life, and that has been shown time and time again when this country has been in peril.

Some speakers have referred to the raising of the school age. The most reverend Primate spoke about that and was in favour of it for certain reasons which he gave to your Lordships. I agree that certainly two benefits would follow from that. One is that boys between fourteen and sixteen would be kept off the streets, and the second is that it might ease the unemployment problem. I do not think, however, that it would make the slightest difference as far as the education of the boys are concerned. A boy of sixteen has no more desire to learn than a boy of fourteen. That desire will come later.

The noble Viscount made an excellent and eloquent speech on certain aspects of the educational outlook after the war, but I did not hear him tell your Lordships what will happen to this country if we do not put education on a sound basis. This is a democratic country. Democracy has failed in Europe partly because it gave no leadership and partly because people got tired of the menace and intimidation carried on in all countries by the extreme Left. It will fail here unless we can produce the right kind of leaders in peace as well as war; men who will lead the country instead of waiting for what is called public opinion to raise its voice. This so-called public opinion, in my view, is simply the voice of the mob—and perhaps I should add of the Press-often untrustworthy and unreliable and seldom representing the nation as a whole. How then are we going to get these leaders so that democracy will not fail here? In my opinion it must be by a very large increase in the facilities for adult education.

I am entirely in agreement with those members of your Lordships' House who have spoken from the point of view that adult education is extremely important. Speaking in general terms I assert that by far the greater proportion of our youth leave school at the age of fourteen uneducated. From that age they are entirely withdrawn from educational influence. The children in the elementary schools are in fact being prepared for education, but when the time comes to take them properly in hand they are thrown out into the world. The chief use of our elementary schools is that facilities are given to choose a minority of students to proceed to further education. No distinguished man has been more quoted in your Lordships' House to-day than Sir Richard Livingstone. I agree with Sir Richard Livingstone when he said in his book, The Future of Education, that the main lines for the education of the youth of this country have been well laid and are not likely to be altered. I think that is true, but it is the fault of past Governments that, owing to political pressure, certain essentials are lacking in State schools to-day which make one almost despair for the future of our youth. I refer to discipline and to moral and religious teaching, which I believe are necessary for making a good citizen. As a result of the lack of these things the state of the youth of the country to-day has really become almost deplorable.

One of the most disturbing things has not been mentioned in the present debate and that is the increase in juvenile crime. Only last Wednesday the Secretary of State for Scotland stated in another place that there were 3,500 more cases last year, an increase in Scotland of 22 per cent. over the year before. He made the point that from absence of control and owing to the black-out and general war conditions one would expect a certain amount of malicious mischief, but he said that what disturbed him was that 6,752 of the prosecutions were for theft and 2,833 for housebreaking and that more than half the children were under fourteen. Here is another case. A well-known British Judge only last week stated: Our boasted system of education seems to have produced a crop of young prostitutes. He was referring to the case of a fifteen year old girl who had been a perfect nuisance to men, and he went on to say: They are allowed to run about the streets and do just what they like. There is a complete absence of parental control of girls and the result is that this type of thing is only too common. I apologize to your Lordships for bringing such a shocking example before the House, but we have to face these facts.

I do not want your Lordships to think that I am attacking our educational system. What I feel is that our system is on the right lines, but that it is not being properly administered. What I am trying to do is to give some invigorating constructive criticism. There is another point I want to make. This serious increase in juvenile crime is associated with appalling overcrowding in many of the houses in Scotland. I cannot speak about England. Large families live in one room and the result is that the mother is almost forced to send the children out of the way into the streets. Apart from the question of housing, I am confident that if more attention were paid to discipline and character training in our schools it would be a great help.

And now to return to school training. It is not the fault of the teachers that elementary schools do not educate. It is just human nature. With large numbers of children the teaching goes in at one ear and out of the other. Speaking personally, what I retained in my head at school was encouraged to stay there by discipline and corporal correction, and as, for political reasons, both these correctives have been largely dispensed with in State schools, it seems natural to assume that what the children are taught does not remain long in their heads. But that is only one point. It is obvious that most children up to the age of fourteen do their lessons in a perfunctory sort of way. It is routine which they must go through, and they go through it without interest. They are young, with no experience of the world or of the usefulness of the subjects they are taught. As Sir Richard Livingstone says in his book, the desire to learn for the sake of getting on in life seldom comes to youths until they have seen something of the world and have had some experience. They do not ardently desire education; some of them do not desire it at all. Youth does not see its uses. Later on life will reveal these and bring the desire; but for this awakening there is little provision—in fact no provision—in our educational system.

The late developing and belated interest of youth in vocational education is well exemplified in coal mining, where there is an average gap of three to four years between the school-leaving age at fourteen and their appearance for vocational education at eighteen in continuation classes. The boys during this interval just loaf around or go out and play billiards and amuse themselves generally. Suddenly, having passed the adolescent stage and having become adults at eighteen, they experience a keen desire to be educated, hoping, perhaps, to be colliery managers or, at any rate, to get on well in their calling which does not entirely consist of hewing at the coal face. A youth at the age of eighteen has a tendency to wonder why it is he learnt so little at school and to desire to be well educated. Again, according to Sir Richard Livingstone—perhaps one is quoting him almost too much—the experience of educationists in Denmark has proved that the same amount of information which it takes the half grown lad, dozing on the school forms, three to five years to learn can be acquired by adults who are keen on learning, and who have done practical work, in the space of three to five months.

I have no wish to detain your Lordships at this hour with a long explanatory speech. Putting it shortly I should like to see a greater extension of the facilities for adult education as has been asked for already in the debate in this House to-day. The results of the W.E.A. and of the experiments at Ashridge and other facilities given to a certain extent throughout the country have shown the keenness of young men at that age to be taken, and that should encourage the Government to go forward on these lines. I should like to say with all diffidence that I speak to your Lordships as convenor of a county whose efforts on behalf of adult education can be justly described as among the most progressive in Scotland. It was stated recently by the Principal of Glasgow University that in Ayrshire adult education attendance has increased by 50 per cent. since 1939.

I think the curriculum of the elementary schools is overcrowded. I should like to cut down many of the subjects and cut them down so that what are left can be digested by children. The subjects which I think should be left out should be kept for the adult classes which would be much more capable of understanding them. Children at leaving-school age should go out into the world, and should try to fit themselves for the particular vocation in life they select to follow, but there should be made available throughout the country institutions where these children could go from the age of seventeen or eighteen upwards to complete the education for which a beginning had been made in the elementary schools. There are, of course, difficulties but they can be overcome just as they were overcome in Denmark, where they set up their very successful people's high schools—which have also been mentioned in to-day's debate—with the same object. Any such centres of adult education should be residential.

I suggest that education in these institutions might take two forms—longer courses for those who could afford the time and short courses of a fortnight or even less. I realize that continuation classes are doing good work and they might be made the bridge between the school-leaving age and the age of eighteen when the training of adults might commence. I believe that no democracy can be a success unless it is based on Christian principles, and that, although we may get the best religious instruction in the schools, its ideals there are ahead of the community owing to the fact that many children belong to homes where parents care nothing for religion, where there is profanity, and the name of God is taken in vain. This must react unfavourably on the children's work since the standard outside the school conflicts with the standard within, and nothing can be more destructive of the proper development of work amongst children than a conflict of standards. One may feel disturbed that the schools are not doing more for religions and moral instruction than they do at the present time, but one should feel more disturbed that the community as a whole is not expressing its dissatisfaction. If the schools are to become Christian in respect of outlook and endeavour, the price to be paid is that the community itself must also become Christian. Therefore if the Government do contemplate the expansion of education after the war, and there will be greater facilities for adult education, I hope that in any institutions which may be set up for these future parents of the nation religion will not be left out.

To sum up I would favour a broad general education up to the statutory school-leaving age, followed by an education which has more regard for the youth's selected vocation—an enlightened apprenticeship, in fact—and after that provision for adult education of the most liberal nature from the age of eighteen till death. This provision should include a large number of residential institutions, and apart from the ordinary educational curriculum a high standard should be set up for those qualities which go to make good citizens.


My Lords, at this late hour I do not intend to delay you very long and, indeed, I would not delay you at all were it not that I think I have one point which has not been mentioned in this intensely interesting debate—a debate in which it would be difficult for anybody interested in the subject not to repeat something which has already been mentioned by previous speakers. It had been my intention to go in some detail into the foundations of our present system and the alterations that would have to be made, but in view of the hour I shall deal briefly with only one point.

In 1925 the Board of Education produced a black list of schools whose buildings were such that they were considered to be incapable of being put into a state of decent repair, and should therefore be abandoned. In 1939, 741 of those schools were still in use. Of those 741, 212 were council schools. I am sorry that the rather numerous assembly of ex-Presidents of the Board of Education is no longer here, because it would have been interesting to know what they had to say by way of excuse for this circumstance. The other 529 were non-provided schools, and the excuse which clearly would be given for their continuance in use would be the inability of the bodies responsible for their upkeep to pay for the necessary alterations, improvements or enlargement. The children of this country have paid dearly for the dual system, and that dual system, I submit, is one of the things which must go if anything in the way of a decent educational system is to be built up after this war. Indeed, I think that there is already in this House fairly general agreement on that matter, and the only point which I wish to raise is a suggestion for the solution of this problem.

To show how urgent this is, I would mention that, of the children in council schools, 62 per cent. proceed to secondary schools, whereas of those in non-provided schools, only 16 per cent. proceed to secondary schools; and in the non-provided schools in 1938 there were 1,374,000 children. The problem is clearly an urgent one, and I therefore do not hesitate to take up a little of your Lordships' time in order to put forward what I believe to be a simple solution and one which has already behind it the advantage of having been tried. It is not my intention to press for the secular solution of this problem, but I would press upon the Government, and commend to your Lordships' attention, the Scottish solution of this problem.

There are clearly two things which are essential. The first is that the schools should be the property of, and under the complete control of, the education authority, and the other is that that authority should have the appointment of the teachers in its hands. In Scotland a number of years ago an agreed settlement was reached, which I understand has worked admirably. And, in passing, I would remind your Lordships that education in Scotland is universally supposed to be very considerably superior to that in England. By this agreed settlement, the owners of the schools were bought out, and were paid compensation by the State. The education authority took over the appointment of teachers, the denominations retaining a right of veto on grounds of faith and morals. This is a solution of the problem which I do commend to your Lordships, and I hope that His Majesty's Government will consider it very seriously and will adopt it. As I say, it is an agreed settlement, and I hope that what has been agreed in Scotland, although it may be expensive, may be agreed also in England, which, after all, is the richer country.

I should like to say a word in support of the part-time post-secondary educational scheme, and I should like to present this in a somewhat different light from that in which other speakers have presented it. It has been urged that modem industry does not require the skilled labour which industry used to require. I am not at all certain that this is true. It may be that there are very large numbers of standardized routine duties in modern industry, but I believe it is also the case that modern industry does require a certain number of far more highly skilled men; and, unfortunately, that same modern industry no longer lends itself to the system of apprenticeship which produced these skilled men in the past. I submit that the system of part-time education, combined with the work of youths in the factory, should to some extent, and I think to a great extent, take the place of the old system of apprenticeship, and on that ground I wish to commend it to His Majesty's Government.

Finally, let me say a personal word of commendation for the idea of adult education, or of what I would call refresher courses. Having myself had the best education that money could buy, I have constantly found myself profoundly regretting my inability to appreciate the newest ideas in modern science and in modern philosophy, because the two are now so intimately combined. Some of that may be the fault of the expensive education to which I have referred, and much more may be due to my own unfortunate lack of natural gifts; but some of it is probably inevitable. Some of it is inevitable in all our lives, and I believe that the enthusiasm which your Lordships have shown for adult education is due to the fact that you, like me, are constantly being faced with new knowledge, which makes you wish that you were able to return to school, where you could acquire it. I hope that the post-war education scheme will include refresher courses for the whole country.


My Lords, I hope that I may be forgiven for intervening for a moment or two before the noble Earl replies for the Government. I do not think that anybody could have expected, when the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, rose to say that he had only one small point to make quite briefly, that it was going to be such a sweeping one as that the dual system was the root of all evil and must be abolished before any improvement could be made. That is much too big a subject for me to go into now, but it is perhaps worth mentioning that the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the annual meeting of the National Society for Religious Education, in outlining the sort of help that the Church would be willing to bring to a settlement of our educational problems, did suggest (hat the appointment of teachers might be passed over to the local education authorities, with proper safeguards reserved to the managers of the non-provided schools. Therefore, when the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, suggests that as a whip with which to beat the Church——


My Lords, I must ask to be excused for intervening, but I did not do that. I put my point very briefly, and perhaps, therefore, rather crudely but I can assure the noble Earl that that was by no means my intention.


My Lords, I apologize if I misunderstood the noble Lord, but at any rate he will be very gratified to find that the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees with him very largely on that point, although neither the Archbishop nor Lord Faringdon mentioned the particular reservations that they had in mind. We have in this debate outlined many points in our educational system which need improvement, and I think it would be a great pity if the debate concluded without one word being said about the improvements which should be offered to the teachers themselves in their preparation for the training which they will give to the children of the future. I think it is generally admitted that a two-year course at a training college is not long enough to give them the best chance of becoming efficient teachers of the children who will be in their care. That is undoubtedly the case in the non-provided colleges, which train such a large proportion of the whole number of the teachers. In those colleges, if any grounding in religious education is given to the students, it has to be done as an extra subject, over and beyond all the other subjects which have to be learnt in the provided training colleges.

I believe it is essential that two reforms should be made in our training colleges. For one I believe we ought no longer to grudge the cost of giving a third year to the preparation of the teachers. There is hardly any other direction in which the State grudges money to education, as far as I can make out, but to grudge it to the preparation of the teachers seems to be an extraordinarily short-sighted policy. Then also—although this has nothing to do with the Board of Education—it is an unfortunate fact that the staffing of training colleges throughout the country is less good than it ought to be. It has grown to be a branch of the profession into which the staff gravitate and stay there for the rest of their teaching career. That is obviously a bad plan from the point of view of the young teachers who are being trained. The very best of every generation ought to be going on to the staffs of our training colleges, staying there a few years and going on to good head-masterships reserved for them by local education authorities.

It is a matter for arrangement between local education authorities and the principals of training colleges, but it has been very difficult, almost impossible, in the past to get local education authorities to co-operate in this matter. If, at the same time, a small increase in the salaries of the staffs of training colleges were given, you would ensure that the young men and women going into these colleges were taught by the very best people who could be secured, instead of by a group of deserving and hard-working people, but a group who intend to stay there longer than they ought to do.

I think the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, and the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, were the only speakers who paid tribute to the great difficulties encountered by the teaching profession in meeting all these new duties laid upon them. I doubt whether noble Lords quite realize the extent of the difficulties which will have to be overcome if half the improvements they are demanding to-day can be given. It will mean an immense increase in the total number of teachers, who, as noble Lords know, are provided as to about half by the provincial universities and half by the training colleges. But the side of the provincial universities which is already given up to training teachers is large, and I doubt very much whether the ordinary provincial university would wish to see that branch of its activities doubled, possibly over-balancing the other faculties in the university. It would disarrange the whole life of the universities.

Therefore it does look as if an extra burden will be thrown upon the training colleges, and I know from my own experience of the twenty-three training colleges which have been founded, and are largely maintained as to their buildings by the Church of England, that some of these have already had to be given up for military service. Their buildings have been taken in one or two cases—not colleges for women, but colleges for men—and great pressure has been brought to bear upon the Board of Education to surrender other colleges. In the great strain that will be put upon accommodation in this country in the next six months the Board of Education will require all the help that can be given it to resist the demand for surrendering further training colleges. It is not only the fact that we have had to concentrate for the benefit of the nation, but two of our colleges have been seriously injured by enemy action, and no doubt that is the case also with provided training colleges. I only wished to utter a word of warning. I am quite sure the difficulties facing the Board of Education before they can greatly increase the number of teachers available will be very great indeed, and if we try to proceed too fast it can only lead to great disappointment.


My Lords, this debate has been one long course of approval for a forward policy in education. We arc, I suppose, the greatest debating society in the world, and I hope your Lordships will excuse me if I disturb the unanimity of the view that has been expressed by putting forward views which ought to be considered, however unpopular they may be. In the first place I would like to say I have great suspicions of the aim of national education altogether. I want to know what sort of citizen you hope to produce by your national education. I am afraid that you model yourselves on Germany. You want to produce the perfect citizen who shall think as you think he ought to think, who shall be skilled with his hands in that trade to which it has pleased you to call him, and who shall, indeed, be a perfect example of the citizen of the moon in Mr. Wells's novel, The First Men in the Moon. That is not my idea of the perfect citizen. I want you to produce as the result of your education rebels who will think for themselves and not think as you want them to think.

I agree with the late Archbishop of Canterbury that the aim and object of education should be that the children should themselves ask questions, and not always be questioned. Teach people to think, not what to think. There is too much of what they call vocational training. We do not want to produce a set of robots who will be perfect in producing goods for other people; we want to produce people who will think, who will see where the shoe pinches—not discipline, but rebellion; not docility, but thought. I know it is a hard school, but after all that is the school in which we were brought up. Pupils in the public schools of this country are not taught to be sheep, but taught to be thinking individuals. When you are discussing the education of the working classes, give them the same chances that were given to us at the public schools.

Another thing, everybody here to-day has talked about raising the school age. What do you mean? As long as you are providing facilities for young people to get education up to sixteen or eighteen I do not mind, and as long as it is providing facilities so that they shall get that education if they want it; but what you arc proposing is to make it compulsory, to put people into prison if they do not send their children up to sixteen or eighteen to school. I do not think that is the way to educate children. I have had the good fortune to conduct a strike in one of the schools of my former constituency and we beat the local authority; and I am told that those children were getting a much better education in striking against going to school than they would have got if they had gone to school. It is arguable. And, believe me, children nowadays are getting an education in courage, in doing the best for themselves under difficult circumstances, which is far better than your education in the schools. But the real thing is this. What gives you the best education—the education that the children want or that their parents want? It is certain that all of us in our hearts know that you get the best education if it is voluntary. If the children are not compelled to go to any particular school they will select the school which is the best, where there is some competition. The teachers do not like it, I dare say, but think what it would mean if you got in all the elementary schools—what arc called elementary schools; I agree they are not elementary schools—real competition between teachers to get the largest number of pupils for a school, to get the most intelligent children, and real competition to get the best teachers. You would get better results.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Why is it that, as everybody knows in this House, the Scots are far better educated than we are—in all classes? How has it come about? It has come about because the parents and the children have made immense sacrifices for hundreds of years to give their children education. Students have often walked five miles each way to school, and they have done a little extra work in order to keep themselves in college. Scottish parents have made sacrifices for education with the result that they appreciate education. Education to them means something. They have won it. It has not been forced down their, throats. It has been won by "blood and tears and toil and sweat." What comes in that way is worth having, as the Scots know perfectly well. The Scottish system of education is infinitely better than ours.

Above all, do remember this is not a one-sided question. It is not a question of whether children should be compelled to go to school, and parents fined or sent to prison if they do not send their children to school. It is a question of whether this country, with its tradition of freedom, cannot afford to allow education to be free. Do you think it would make very much difference to the attendance of schools if it were free? In Scotland I am sure it would not. If education were not compulsory, the children in Scotland would still attend school. I believe they would in England too, if the parents were prepared to make a sacrifice—the sacrifice of not sending their children to work. If somebody living down the lane is giving his child a definite education somebody else will do the same. They are just as jealous as we are in a different class of life. Give them the chance. Let them take pride in the sacrifices they would make. Let their children take pride in them. Then, with pride in a free country, free education will be a joy and a profit.


My Lords, we have to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for having inaugurated a most interesting and, your Lordships will agree, a most useful debate. We also have to thank him for the very illuminating and stimulating speech with which he introduced the Motion. Your Lordships will also, I am sure, wish to thank the noble Viscount for the generous tribute he paid to your Lordships' House when he said that whereas the House of Lords, once upon a time, used to be a most reactionary body, now it could be held to be a "forward-looking assembly." I am sure we are all very grateful for that testimonial, though possibly the appearance of objects is to some extent influenced by the angle from which one regards them. It is gratifying, however, to know that henceforth your Lordships' strongest defence will be found on the Liberal Benches in this Chamber.

It is a suitable moment to have a debate of this nature because, as the noble Viscount pointed out, now is the rime to make and discuss plans. As has been generally recognized, we have in my right honourable friend and colleague, the President of the Board of Education, an enthusiast on the subject who is only too anxious to labour on behalf of the nation in this respect, and is himself fertile with plans as a result of the great study he has given to the subject and his knowledge of it. I feel that a debate such as we have had to-day will be a help to my right honourable friend and to the Board of Education in assisting to focus public attention on some of the major problems confronting anyone who approaches the subject. I need not remind your Lordships that no President of the Board of Education can announce a policy of reform in exactly the same manner as other Ministers can announce reforms in their Departments or in the Services for which they are responsible. The Board of Education does not provide schools or administer them. Its functions are confined to "the superintendence of matters relating to education in England and Wales," to quote the Statute. Our educational system is a decentralized one in which the President and the Board work in partnership with the local authorities and the governing bodies of schools and, in another sense, in partnership with the denominations and with the teachers. Therefore, in education above all other subjects, it is desirable that these problems should be publicly debated and canvassed because a very wide measure of assent has to be gained before any important reform can be carried out. In that respect I feel sure your Lordships' speeches will be a great help. Many of the difficult problems lying before educationists have been dealt with, and dealt with authoritatively, by various noble Lords who have spoken to-day.

First there is the question of the school-leaving age. Parliament has already enacted a leaving age of fifteen, but that measure has had to be suspended. All educationists would be agreed that the first step is to restore the age to fifteen, and that that should be done as soon as possible. Here I may refer to the very interesting speech made by my noble friend Lord Nathan, in which he drew attention to the immense difficulties that will confront the Government during the actual period of demobilization. What he said in regard to these difficulties was very largely true. Whether the sequence of events will be exactly as he anticipates I am not quite so sure, but at any rate it is clear that there will be a period of extreme difficulty during demobilization, and my right honourable friend, in making his plans, will have to take into account the factors to which the noble Lord drew attention. I need hardly assure my noble friend that the Board of Education will be in the closest touch with the Army authorities in regard to demobilization. How soon it will be possible to carry out these other reforms that we have been talking about this afternoon of course depends very much on the circumstances of the time.

Then there is the much more difficult question of raising the school age to sixteen. The noble Lord who spoke last, I gathered, was opposed to all compulsory education.


I would do away with it gradually.


I confess I am glad to see that liberty still has one champion at any rate, and I hope my noble friend will continue to blow his trumpet in support of liberty, because when we are reforming ourselves we must not forget all the past teachings of the Liberal Party. Personally I doubt whether voluntary education would be a workable proposition. There are obvious difficulties about it as regards younger children. I agree that at the age of sixteen it might not make much difference to the attendance, but there is this point which would have to be faced, that the children most likely to abstain from school would be the children of the poorest parents, and that I am sure is a result that my noble friend would not like to see.


I do not think there will be so many poor after this war. We have altered all that.


I do not like to interrupt, but the noble Lord may not know that in fact there is voluntary education now between fourteen and sixteen for all, and but few are availing themselves of it:


There is also that aspect of the matter, and I do not think we can regard voluntary education as practical politics. When we are discussing this subject we have to treat it on a compulsory basis. But the problem is full of difficulties. It is in the first place bound up with the question of the reorganization of the schools. The most reverend Primate, and I think the noble Viscount and other speakers, spoke of the need for smaller classes, and therefore smaller class-rooms, and of the deficiencies that exist in certain schools. There is also the question of the grading of schools according to age which has to be considered. As the House is aware, more than half the public elementary schools are provided not by the State or by the local education authorities but by the great denominations who have for so long given education to the people—long before the State took any interest in the matter at all. But the advance in the standard of school buildings which has taken place during the past generation has imposed upon the denominations a financial burden that was never contemplated when the Act of 1902 was passed.

These financial burdens were greatly increased by the Act of 1918 and Toy the reforms earned out as a result of the Hadow Report. I think it is now generally admitted that the financial strain is too great upon the denominations whose adherents, after all, make a full contribution as taxpayers to the general education system and find they are not in addition financially able to provide buildings of the standard which the local authorities have been able to provide. Out of this dilemma a way must be found, and as I think the noble Viscount himself intimated, it ought not to prove impossible. The denominations, the local education authorities and the teachers are all concerned very deeply in the settlement, but I believe that there should be no insurmountable difficulty in arriving at a settlement which would be fair and acceptable to all parties.

I think what the noble Viscount said about the example of paganism in Germany was very true. I am quite sure that the great majority of people in this country want Great Britain to be a Christian country, and they know that it cannot remain so unless the children of the country receive a Christian education. More than 90 per cent. of the members of local education authorities and of the teachers are very sincere Christians. They know that religion must be the foundation of all true education, and that no one is capable of teaching religion efficiently unless he believes it himself and has had the requisite training. It is quite possible to make a settlement that observes such principles without doing violence to the constitutional rights of any individual teacher or the constitutional rights of any parents. Also it ought not to prove impossible to make provision for the special needs of the Jewish Community, which I think everyone would recognize in this connexion. I am glad to be able to tell your Lordships that my right honourable friend is in close touch with all the three parties to whom I have alluded and it is hoped that the consultations now taking place will result in an agreed settlement acceptable to all parties.

Then we come to the reform that has been spoken about so much this afternoon of compulsory education after the school-leaving age. As has been pointed out, that was provided for in the 1918 Act but has, practically speaking, remained a dead letter.


Hear, hear.


I do not know why that should evoke such enthusiasm from the Benches of the Labour Party.


That will be reported for posterity. I cannot allow that observation to pass without repudiating any responsibility of the Labour Party for the exuberance of my noble friend.


I was aware of that. I was only commenting on my noble friend's rather anomalous position in holding views which I am glad to think are not representative of the Party to which he belongs. That Act has remained a dead letter, although part-time education has been given in various quarters by a number of progressive firms, and in Rugby it is actually continued on a compulsory basis. For the vast majority, however, there is an abrupt transition from school to their jobs which tends to give colour to the fallacious view that education is merely a preparation for life and that you do not need it after you have started in real life.

There are very good reasons for part-time compulsory education. I will only mention two. First, if we had such a system we could give a supervision to the physical health of young men and women up to the age of eighteen which might be of the utmost benefit to the physique of the nation; secondly, we could much improve our industrial training which is going to be such an important feature in the years to come. Therefore your Lordships have considered, and the Government are considering, these three very important steps—forthwith restoring the school age to fifteen, then exploring the possibilities of extending the age to sixteen, and, thirdly, compulsory part-time education beyond that age.


Will they put them in uniform between sixteen and eighteen?


I do not think it is necessary to take my noble friend's question seriously. Many other subjects have been touched on by your Lordships which are being canvassed and considered by educationists. There is the improvement in medical inspection of children and the question of extending school meals and the provision of milk to which my noble friend Earl De La Warr alluded. I agree with him that a great advance has been made in that matter recently and I hope we shall get further advance. Then there are the questions of easing the way for the poor scholar to the university, the improvement of technical education, the care of children under five, about which my noble friend Lord Soulbury spoke, and other matters.

Some of your Lordships may be asking how can we consider all these great plans without knowing how much money we shall have to pay for them. Accepting the figures given by the noble Viscount at the commencement of his speech, we must admit that we shall be a great deal poorer at the end of the war than we were at the beginning of the war, but the difficulties will not be confined entirely to finance. There are the difficulties alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, and by my noble friend Earl Grey in regard to the training colleges. There will be many difficulties, but education is the entrance to the future and plans for education form the most definite of the Government studies for reconstruction. I can give an assurance on behalf of my right honourable friend that he intends to press forward to a solution of these problems to the utmost extent possible.

The question of adult education has been written about by the President of Corpus Christi College and spoken about by your Lordships in this debate. I hope that if it is found possible to have a system, of continued education that in itself will stimulate the desire for adult education, and I agree with what noble Lords have said, and my right honourable friend also agrees, as to the desirability of extending facilities for adult education by every possible means. This is a mechanized age and one of the effects of a mechanized age ought to be to give more leisure to the people. How we are to use that leisure will become an increasingly important question. The educated person is capable of making a fuller use of leisure than the uneducated person.

The question of the study of political affairs has been referred to by several of your Lordships. The most reverend Primate spoke of the danger of an uneducated democracy, and he drew what I may describe as a brilliant thumb-nail sketch of the events in Germany between 1925 and 1935, of the democracy that succumbed to the Dictator because of its insufficiency of political capacity. But the education of Germany was not an inferior one if you measure it by hours or by many other standards. That failure to which the most reverend Primate drew attention surely enforces the importance of the quality of education. I agree that the study of political questions is one of the most important directions which adult education could take. In that connexion I would refer to the work done by the Army Bureau of Current Affairs of which my noble friend Earl De La Warr spoke, which has done such splendid work in the Army where men and their officers together have been discussing and considering these questions. The results, I am told, have been most encouraging.

Another point touched upon by your Lordships was that up till now adult education has nearly always meant evening work. The classes of the Workers Educational Association, for instance, university extension lectures and the classes of local education authorities all take place in the evening. Sir Richard Livingstone and some of your Lordships here this afternoon have advocated residential courses, and I think it was the most reverend Primate who suggested that some of the stately homes of England might be taken as suitable schools. A large number have already been taken for schools of one sort or another and possibly that suggestion may be realized. I would remind your Lordships, however, that a number of camps and hostels have been constructed for war purposes and that they will be available immediately after the war. They possibly might be used in that connexion.

Then, there is the question of the future of the. public schools which has been alluded to to-day. I will not say anything about that, for, as your Lordships know, the matter is now being considered by a very able Committee of which Lord Fleming is Chairman. But I may point out that the request for the appointment of the Committee came from the Governing Bodies' Association and the Headmasters' Conference, so that there is no suggestion of any coercion by the Government of the great public schools. It is they who have asked for this Committee to be set up, and I am sure that your Lordships will agree that my right honourable friend has been very fortunate in his selection of the Committee.

My noble friends Earl De La Warr, Lord Soulbury and Lord Elton, spoke of the curricula in secondary schools. That again, is a matter that is under the consideration of a Committee—a Committee which has Sir Cyril Norwood as Chairman. At this point I would like to turn aside to correct one statement made by my noble friend Lord Elton. I have a note of a passage in his brilliant speech in which he criticized my right honourable friend for providing courses for teachers on Russia and on the United States of America and for not having stimulated, in the same way, study of the history of the British Empire. The explanation of that is very simple. When Russia and the United States became our Allies it was very desirable that the teachers should be given an opportunity of knowing something more of their history than, possibly, a good many of them did know. Such a consideration does not arise in the case of the British Empire because in that case the teachers and the children already had the elementary knowledge of the sort covered by the courses. Therefore what my right honourable friend was doing was not in any sense putting the study of the history of our Allies in front of the study of the history of the British Empire. He was merely extending the facilities for teachers to acquaint themselves with the history of two of our Allies with which they might not have been as familiar as with the history of the British Empire. I agree with what Lord Elton said about the study of the British Empire. I hope that the rising generation will study the history of the great Empire which their fathers built up and which, I agree with Lord Elton, is one of the most glorious achievements that any nation has ever accomplished and one that all English boys and girls should know about. I am sure that nothing in the policy of the present President of the Board of Education will be in any way hostile to that aspiration.

In regard to the curricula of the secondary schools I would like to make this point. The curricula have been considerably criticised to-day. The criticism is valid to a large extent as applied to the system to-day, not because of any fault in the curricula but because of the amazing growth of the secondary schools during the past generation. I would like to quote to your Lordships these figures taken from the Spens Report. In 1904 there were 575 grant-aided secondary schools in the country containing 94,000 pupils. In 1936 there were 1,397 secondary schools containing 485,000 pupils. That is to say, in thirty years the number of pupils increased five-fold. The criticism that can be validly made against the curricula of secondary schools is that whereas they might be and were very suitable for one hundred thousand pupils, when extended to five times that number of pupils they are found to be providing a form of education far in excess of the demand for that particular form. Therefore, as the noble Viscount has said, we do require a redefinition of the aims in this matter of secondary education, and that is one of the questions Sir Cyril Norwood's Committee is now considering.

I have spoken rather longer, I am afraid, than I intended to do, but the range of subjects covered by your Lordships in this debate has been broad indeed, and I hope that your Lordships' speeches will receive the wide publicity that they deserve. I feel sure that they will be a stimulus to educationists throughout the country and of much assistance to my right honourable friend in his endeavours to frame another great step forward in educational progress.


My Lords, I am glad that the Motion which I had the honour of moving has been effective in producing so interesting a four-hours' debate, and that the noble Earl who has just spoken has expressed the belief that it will prove useful to the Board of Education and also help in the shaping of public opinion. The debate has had the advantage of the participation of three ex-Presidents of the Board of Education, the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, Earl De La Warr, and Lord Soulbury, and the presence of two others, Lord Gainford, and, for a time, Lord Halifax, and it reached its culminating point in the speech which has just been made by the noble Earl, on behalf of the Government, who has made several important announcements. In particular, what he has said with regard to the efforts which are now on foot for solving the problem of the dual school system is most significant, and I am sure that we all hope that the result will fulfil the desires of those who are engaged in that movement. Furthermore, he has mentioned several developments which are now in prospect in the Board of Education, and which will be noted with the greatest interest. They are the results of the development of the activity of the Board under a Minister of marked constructive mind.

When Lord Selborne says that the country would be poorer after the war than it was at the beginning, I would say "Yes, but it will still be far richer than it was a generation ago." The debate has shown a considerable consensus of opinion on many points, and particularly with regard to the importance of adult education. I hope that the outcome of this debate may be to give a stimulus to the movement for the development of adult education. While there has been a consensus of opinion, there cannot, of course, ever be unanimity in any assembly of which my noble friend Lord Wedgwood is a member. He has made a characteristic speech and, amiable anarchist that he is, he would remove compulsion altogether from our system of education; but he forgets the truth once expressed in the saying that "In education, the greater the need the greater the objection." He has advocated, characteristically again, rebellion for rebellion's sake, for he said that the purpose of education should be the creation of rebels. I am sure that he himself would always rather be with a minority in the wrong than right with a majority.

My noble friend Lord Selborne said that I had paid a tribute to the House as a forward-looking assembly. That is so at this moment in these matters of planning of town and country, and in such matters as family allowances, and again to-day with regard to education, but whether that spirit will still prevail after the war, when we come again to matters of controversy, I am not so sure. There are, at the present time, some six hundred absentees among our members, and, when those absentees reappear, we may find that "Theirs but to die hard, the gallant six hundred." However, that remains to be seen, and to-day we are a happy and almost a unanimous assembly. My Motion having served its purpose in evoking that spirit, I now beg leave to withdraw it.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.