§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by the Earl of Selborne—namely, to resolve, That this House welcomes the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform, as evidenced in the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction (Cmd. 6458).
§ LORD SOULBURY
My Lords, I should like to add my small contribution to the chorus of approval which has already greeted the Government's White Paper on Education, a Paper which I think is of more importance to the future of the nation than the Beveridge Report or any other Report of recent times. The Government's proposals foreshadow educational developments for which reformers have for many years hoped and worked, but which for various reasons, such as limitations of finance and the outbreak of war, it has not yet been possible to realize. I desire only to offer a few observations on one or two of the topics in this White Paper—the dual system, as it is called, and, allied to that in a sense, the independence of the aided secondary schools, most of which are the old-established grammar schools, and the proposal to abolish fees in those schools and in maintained secondary schools. I shall be as brief as I possibly can, because I know that other noble Lords desire to follow me, and I shall do my best to eschew the employment of those transcendental impalpabilities which so frequently serve to elongate, though they do not illumine, speeches on education.
First of all, as regards the dual system, as your Lordships know, for at least forty years the administration of education in this country has been most seriously embarrassed by the relation of the provided to the non-provided schools, but now it would seem that at long last there is a reasonable chance of securing a fair compromise, and of relegating that unhappy controversy to the region of old, unhappy, far-off days. A compromise in itself, however, means some middle course between two extremes, and in my judgment there is no other prospect of relief from our previous troubles and from the serious disadvantages and handicaps 1059 from which hundreds of thousands of children in this country have suffered for the best part of two generations. The two extremes, or the two alternatives, seem to me to be these: First of all, the dual system should be regarded as an antiquated affair and allowed to die of inanition, which it certainly would if it were deprived of all public funds. 'The other alternative is that there should be complete freedom for the denominations to provide and staff their schools according to denominational trusts from public funds, on the analogy of what is called the Scottish system. There are advocates of both those extremes, which seem to me to be mutually destructive.
As regards the Scottish system, that system is, I think, quite inapplicable to the conditions in this country, for the reasons set out in the White Paper, which I do not think can be controverted, and certainly it is in the highest degree improbable that it would ever receive general acquiescence in this country. As regards the other extreme, the denial of public funds, that could not be adopted without an entire disregard of the immense services which have been rendered to the community by the Churches as protagonists of Christian teaching. I do not think any fair-minded person would be prepared to disregard those services. It therefore remains to seek a via media. That is what the Government have in my judgment quite properly done, and I think the compromise they have reached is a very fair one. On the one hand, it recognizes the special claims which the denominations make, and rightly make, based on their great services in the past, and on the contribution which they are making, and will make, in the future. On the other hand, it recognizes the very widespread feeling against denominational schools being provided at the expense of public funds.
Moreover, I think it is not irrelevant to point out that the proposals in the White Paper take their place in a logical system of development. First, there were the building grants in 1870. They were replaced in the 1902 Act by a settlement which ensured the denominational schools full maintenance. Then the position was taken further by the Act of 1936, which provided the discretionary grants from the local education authorities, under certain 1060 conditions, in aid of the senior schools. These present proposals, while adhering to the settlement of 1902, enable the provisions of the 1936 Act to be reviewed in the case of proposals submitted within the time limits imposed by that Act. But these proposals go further than that, for they offer to the primary schools, as well as the secondary schools, an option which ensures a substantial grant in aid of capital expenditure. Here I think we see a steady and progressive evolution in the relations of the Government and the voluntary schools. It is a compromise, but I think it is as far as any Government can go at the present time; though, in view of the gradual developments in the history which I have very briefly re-counted, I think it would be imprudent to say that we have yet reached finality.
Related to the solution of the dual problem is the question of the independence of the aided secondary schools: as I said, in most cases old-established grammar schools. I thought at one time, when I had some responsibility for these matters, that a possible partial solution of the dual problem might be automatically secured by the inclusion of the senior schools in our secondary school system under the title of modern secondary schools, as the White Paper proposes. But, as your Lordships know, the dual system has not in the past found its way to the secondary schools. There is a right of entry, subject to discretion on the part of the local education authority. Therefore at one time I thought it possible that similar conditions might be applied to the senior schools when they became modern schools, with secondary school status. But I am convinced now that that solution would not have been in the least acceptable to the very large section of the population served by our senior schools; and clearly, once you bring the senior schools into the secondary school system, you raise the question of the control of the other secondary schools, especially the aided and maintained schools, for religious as well as for secular purposes. I should have preferred not to have imported the dual system into the secondary school system, but, as I said, I think it was impossible to avoid so doing, and I am sure the Government were right in proposing, once they decided—they have decided—to unify the secondary school system, to apply the conditions of the new modern secondary school to the 1061 aided and maintained secondary schools. To do otherwise would have been to have made a very serious, and I think un-fortunate, distinction between one type of school and another, and perhaps to have raised the dual problem in a more contentious and difficult form.
But the question now arises how far these proposals will affect the independence of the aided secondary schools, the old grammar schools. As your Lordships know, these schools at present enjoy a large measure of independence of control. They have on their governing bodies a majority of foundation governors and, at any rate in theory, their headmasters enjoy greater freedom than is enjoyed by the headmasters in the maintained schools. Bath types of schools are in receipt of public funds from the local education authorities together with, in the case of the aided schools, some re-sources by way of endowments, and of course from the fees that are paid. I wall say a word about the fees shortly, but I should like to say here and now how very important it is that the independence of these aided secondary schools should be preserved. I gather that that is also the Government's view.
Accordingly, as I understand the White Paper, it is proposed for these schools that an instrument of government should be drawn up defining the constitution and the powers of their governing bodies, and also setting out the limits of the control and the status of the local education authorities. These instruments will have statutory sanction and—this is important —the discretion of the local education authorities to aid these schools or not will be replaced by an obligation to do so. It seems to me that, provided there is good will in drawing up these instruments— and I have no doubt there will be—and provided a substantial measure of in-dependence is retained for the aided secondary schools, the duty imposed on the local education authorities, instead of a discretionary power to maintain these schools, combined with the prescriptive right to obtain fifty per cent, from the central authority for capital expenditure, will be a very real advantage. In effect, they seem to me to exchange an in-dependence based on sufferance for an independence based on statutory obligation. On the whole that is a fairly good bargain.
1062 Now a word about the abolition of fees which is proposed in the White Paper in the cases of aided secondary schools and maintained schools. Some apprehension is felt in some of these schools that, by increasing the financial dependence on the local authority, on account of the abolition of fees, there would be less independence of control of that authority. It is perfectly true, as we all know, that some local authorities are less efficient in the administration of education than others. Some schools feel anxiety lest they should come under the control of an authority which is not so efficient as it should be. In some cases there is suspicion that Party politics in the local authority may override educational considerations. There is also a fear that the headmaster's choice of his pupils will be fettered and the parent's choice of school restricted. I do not share these apprehensions, particularly in view of the proposal to create these instruments of government to which I have referred. In any event, it seems to me that the unification of secondary education as proposed in the White Paper must involve fees in all secondary schools or none. If in all schools, then it would be in effect to re-impose fees on the 11-14 age group in the senior schools, whereas for a great many years school fees in public elementary schools have been abolished. I do not think anyone would support the re-imposition of fees on what is at the moment a large section of the elementary school population. If, on the other hand, fees are to be charged only in the aided and maintained schools and not in the others, then it would be quite impossible to maintain that parity of conditions which the White Paper seeks to attain.
Various difficulties would occur. It would not be long before we found the school charging fees obtaining some sort of social distinction over those which did not. In seeking to unify the school system, the Government cannot allow fees in one type of school and not in another when both types are aided by public funds. It would be otherwise if the fees in the aided secondary schools covered the whole of the charge of the child's education, but they do not. On the average, the fees paid by the parent in the aided secondary schools amount to about one-third of the education of the child, and the other two-thirds is found by the 1063 local education authority, the State contributing 50 per cent. The result of that arrangement is, of course, that the parent is able to get a place for his child in that type of school by the payment of a fee which is subsidized out of public funds to the extent of two-thirds of the cost. We should find it very difficult to defend an arrangement by which the ratepayer and the taxpayer paid a substantial proportion of the cost of the education in a particular type of school of a child who might not be able to get admission to that school if he were put into competition with other children whose parents could not afford to pay the fees.
Whether the proposed abolition of fees is to apply to the direct grant schools or not, I do not know. By the direct grant schools I mean the schools that receive their fees on a capitation basis direct from the Board of Education. The White Paper is silent on that point. No doubt the Government are awaiting the report of the Fleming Committee, and it would be imprudent to prophesy what will be decided. In these schools also a substantial part of the cost of education —half to be exact—is defrayed by the State, that is to say by the taxpayer. If there were no fees in schools that obtained their grants from the local education authority, but fees were retained in schools that got direct grants from the Board of Education, we should get a rather curious distinction between the rate-aided school and the tax-aided school—a distinction that I should find slightly difficult to justify.
For instance, I will give your Lordships an actual illustration at the moment. In Coventry there are four secondary schools. Two of them are old grammar schools, sixteenth-century foundations for boys, and these are direct grant-aided from the State. The other two schools are schools of recent foundation, schools for girls, maintained by the local education authority. If the fees were to be retained in the direct grant schools and abolished in the maintained schools, you would get the curious position of a parent with one boy and one girl paying fees for the boy and not for the girl or, as it might be put, being able to buy a place in the school for the boy and not being able to buy a place for the girl. No doubt this problem would be cleared up in due 1064 course, but I see no reason why the abolition of fees in direct grant schools should in any way impair their independence. Whether fees are paid or not, the control of these schools rests with the Board of Education and not with the local authority. Personally, I should like to see more schools in receipt of direct grants. I know that these schools greatly enjoy and appreciate the direct contact they have with the Board of Education.
There is another type of school—schools not in receipt of direct grants or any grant from public money—namely, a number of well-known public schools. No question of control arises, or should arise, there because the fees charged cover the whole of the child's education, and nothing whatever falls on public funds. These schools, of course, should not really be called public schools at all. They should be called boarding schools or residential schools because that is what differentiates them from most other types of school. May I say how largely I am in agreement with the remarks that fell from the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, yesterday, regarding the merits of boarding school education? In my judgment it is one of the best forms of preparation for citizenship that has ever been devised. Sir Richard Livingstone said in a recent book that a boy in boarding school learns life as a citizen. He cannot fail to do that if he is a citizen of two communities, of his school and of his house, and the best way to learn citizenship is to practise it, and the earlier the better. In a public school if a boy is a bad citizen his fellow citizens have very effective and often drastic ways of teaching him to be a better one.
But the contribution which the public schools can make to the national system, however willing they may be, and they are willing, can only be fractional. There are fewer than 30,000 boy boarders in the public schools of the country and if you assume a school life of some four or five years—say from thirteen to eighteen—the annual entry is under 7,000. But the size of the whole thirteen year age group of boys in the country is nearly 300,000, and if the public schools were to allot half their annual vacancies to the children of the less wealthy parents, even so they could only cater for I per cent, of the age group and 99 per cent, would have to go elsewhere. I do not see how the public schools, with the best will in the world, 1065 can provide any solution by throwing their doors wide open, as has been suggested. The total aperture is far too narrow. The only advance in that direction is provision by the State of more residential schools, and it would, on the whole, be an experiment well worth while, because the training for citizenship in a boarding school or residential school is, I think, unrivalled.
In conclusion may I say this? The noble Lord, Lord Addison, yesterday referred with approval to a passage from Plato's laws which is quoted at the beginning of the Norwood Report. There is another passage immediately preceding it which I think emphasizes the importance of the training which I have mentioned. Plato says:We are speaking of that other education in virtue from youth upwards which makes a man eagerly pursue the ideal perfection of citizenship and teaches him how rightly to rule and how to obey.I believe that our children can learn that essential lesson, how rightly to rule and how to obey, more easily and effectively in residential schools than by any other method.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DERBY
My Lords, in common with the noble Lord who has just sat down I should like to begin by associating myself with the general chorus of approval which has greeted the White Paper which we are discussing. It is an impressive document and we all wish to congratulate the right honourable gentleman, the President of the Board of Education, on its production. I should like to associate myself also with all that was said yesterday by the most reverend Primate, including his temperately worded plea for the consideration of the possibility of further slight concessions at certain points to the upholders of the denominational principle, even in the sphere of primary education.
The provision of education, whether by the Church or the State, began with primary education, and, as was natural, this has led to an undue preoccupation of the minds of the limited number of persons in this country who have devoted themselves to educational questions with the problems of the primary school, and those problems, as we know them in the past, have been bedevilled with controversy. We must all rejoice in the better atmosphere which obtains now. Even in 1066 the speech delivered yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, the lightning which at moments seemed to play around the horizon was only sheet lightning and no longer the dangerous forked lightning of former days. But my own interests, like those of the noble Lord who has just sat down, lie not with primary but with secondary and higher education. Those institutions (schools, colleges, universities) from which the teaching profession itself is recruited, and in which its members are trained, are the real key to any educational system.
Now the danger in any State system of education is always totalitarianism and excess of bureaucratic control. We in this House, and I think we in this country, are all in principle anxious to avoid this, though individuals and perhaps Parties are no doubt alive to the peril of it in varying degrees. In this country real freedom has on the whole been conceded to the universities. The Universities Grants Committee allocates financial help without seeking to impose any narrow form of State control upon the universities, the spiritual autonomy of which as self-governing institutions is respected subject only to the appointment from time to time of a Royal Commission to review the position and make any desirable recommendations. The universities must be efficient and there is State control in the background. That is all. Academic freedom of thought—which means the disinterested pursuit of truth and the freedom of scholarship—is in our universities a reality. May it ever so continue. It is not irrelevant to enter that plea in a modern world in which in some countries for years we have seen the opposite state of things brought about. At the other end of the scale, that of the primary school, it is no doubt exceedingly difficult in any State system to prevent education from being over-standardized and, to use a convenient metaphor, mass produced. At any rate not education but mass production is the verdict passed by the White Paper itself, in paragraph 16, upon much of the teaching at present being given in elementary schools. The Government clearly intend to work for improvement in that matter, but in my judgment a certain amount of standardization may very well be inevitable at the elementary stage.
But intermediate between the primary schools and the universities is the whole range of post-primary, secondary and 1067 further education with which the noble Lord who has just sat down has dealt. I should wish to follow some of the topics which he treated and to put in the same kind of plea which he put in for real freedom in the government of the secondary schools, following a rather different kind of approach. The Government propose to distinguish grammar, modern and technical schools and desire, as far as possible, that all the three schools should have equal or parallel status. There is a real desire, I am confident, on the part of the Board of Education, to secure that the education in all three types of school should be as free, as varied and as liberal as possible. How are these schools to be governed? There is, as we have been told, a proposal that there should be in each case an instrument of government. The majority of these schools will have been built and (with the exception of the direct grant schools, the number of which I should personally wish to see not diminished but increased), there will be a still larger number that will be wholly or partly maintained or financed by the local education authorities. It is an essential part of the Government scheme that the whole range of primary, secondary and further education in each area should come within the purview of the appropriate local education authority. I think it is very important that the type or degree of control exercised by the local education authority over the higher reaches of education, leading on to the universities, should not be allowed to become over-rigid and narrow.
I am interested in schools of the grammar school type particularly—I have served on the governing body of one—and I have reason to know that relations hitherto existing between the governing body and the local education authority have not been in all cases satisfactory. Let usface frankly the facts of the situation, which in discussion among members of the educational profession are well known. It is commonly said, and I believe it to be true, that experience shows that county education authorities in the majority of cases have tended to exhibit a wider, more enlightened and more liberal attitude in relation to schools of the grammar school type than is sometimes shown by education committees in boroughs. I have talked both with headmasters and headmistresses of such schools, and I have 1068 gained the impression that they have sometimes found their position in dealing with local education authorities an exceedingly irksome one. In more than one instance I have been told by individuals that they would not care to accept the headship of a school under the control of a borough council, but would work quite happily under a county authority. From what I myself have seen I can well believe that to be true. The difference, I think, results from a difference in the type of personnel which in practice is apt to be found serving upon borough councils and county councils respectively. Borough councils are apt to be dominated too rigidly by Party and even partisan politics, with the result that educational questions are not really considered and discussed upon their educational merits.
I am glad to see that in Part XI of the White Paper the question of the units of local education administration is being taken up. I hope that in determining areas of such administration other considerations than those of mere density of population and financial resources will be taken into account. What is important is that those concerned with the higher branches of education should themselves be persons of wide educational outlook and vision. A borough council, hard put to it to find such persons among its own members, is apt either to be unduly influenced by the atmosphere of parish pump politics or else to sit too tamely and uncritically at the feet of its own education officers. I think there is a real problem here which I hope the Government will take seriously into account. I was glad to see in paragraph 61 of the White Paper that it is contemplated, as has been said by the noble Lord who preceded me, that secondary schools—I gather of all types—should be controlled eventually by individually constituted governing bodies which will have real powers vis-à-vis the local education authority. I think it is a pity, however, that the degree of the relative independence of such governing bodies should in any case be made to vary with the degree of financial responsibility assumed by the authority. I think it should be determined in all cases by considerations of a strictly educational character. The local education authority should be represented undoubtedly upon such governing bodies, but their representation should not be predominating. 1069 The aim should be to find persons educationally qualified for the government of such schools.
I attach importance to the representation of the universities upon the governing bodies of all schools which feed the universities, and I think such representation should be made a reality, which at present in some cases it is not. Universities cannot, of course, send their own resident representatives to act as governors of the school, but they might and should be entrusted with the responsibility in all cases of finding suitably qualified, reasonably well-educated persons in the locality to act as a liaison between the school and the university, and it should be made possible, by fixed dates of meeting and notice given in advance, for such persons to attend the governing body's meetings. I should like also to see a proportion of governors nominated from Whitehall. I am not at all afraid of nomination from Whitehall, and would indeed prefer it to that of some authorities. In particular, I would like to see the chairmanship filled by nomination from outside. I think an impartial chairman, independent of local politics, is quite essential if there is to be any freedom in the government of such schools. I think also in connexion with every such school there should be a parents' association and that the parents' association should have direct representation upon the governing body. I would concede the same right to nominate to old boys' or old girls' associations where they exist, and I think it would be a good thing to have upon the governing body a selected headmaster from one of the elementary schools by which in future the secondary schools will be predominantly fed.
The "integration" of the various branches of the educational system should in general be an integration upwards in status, not downwards. The unfortunate associations of primary schools as administered in the past should not be carried to the higher reaches of the educational ladder. Educational service, at least in the higher branches, should be regarded and honoured as one of the learned professions, with its own professional standards and status. The position and freedom of headmasters and head mistresses in the control of their schools and the selection of their staffs should be Safeguarded, and the danger avoided of 1070 members of the teaching profession tending to be regarded and treated as the mere employees of an administrative machine, less than the dust in the presence of a local borough councillor.
Passing on to a different point, I come to the question of publicly provided or publicly controlled boarding schools contemplated in the White Paper and desired with such earnestness by the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow. The pupils in such schools will be away from home not only on week-days but on Sundays. The governing body and the headmaster or headmistress and the school staff will be temporarily in loco parentis. It is important to secure in such schools full freedom of religious provision, not only as regards teaching, but also as regards worship and sacramental ministrations, both to pupils and staff. It is a new problem which has not had to be solved by the State before. It is not to be solved by any analogy with what has perforce had to be accepted as tolerable in elementary schools or even in secondary day schools. We are dealing here with children at a later age, well on the way towards manhood and womanhood when full communicant membership and association with the worshipping community begins to be of increasing importance. It is a problem which, I am confident, can be solved on the basis of common sense and charity. It has been solved among many gatherings of an inter-denominational kind in the common life of this country. It has been solved in time of peace by the Student Christian Movement which frequently held large gatherings at a place called Swan-wick in my own diocese. It needs to be solved on lines of common sense and charity, and it should be faced and solved now on such lines as may be agreed between the interests concerned.
I do not despair of agreement if the problem is approached in the new spirit now largely prevailing, so that no such tangle of controversy with regard to such schools may be provoked as that which has in the past bedevilled elementary education in England. What is the problem? The schools will mostly be in country places. The Roman Catholic Church is not likely to have a local place of worship. Free Churchmen may possibly have a small village chapel with no resident minister. The parish church will possibly have a septuagenarian incumbent perhaps 1071 with two parishes to look after, a man quite unfitted to administer to school boys. I do not suggest denominational facilities at public expense. The analogy of the provision of chaplains of varying denominations in the armed Services would be logical, but doubtless not applicable as it stands. I think provision should be made by friendly arrangement, but there should be legal safeguards provided, whether embodied in an Education Act or in regulations having the force of law; legal safeguards making it obligatory to make such provision.
And I think that provision should be allowed to be made whereby, first of all, it should be possible for the Church of England—and mutatis mutandis for other denominations—to provide for the preparation of pupils in particular schools for confirmation or other instruction with a view to full denominational membership and communicant status. Secondly, I think that there should be freedom to make arrangements for Holy Communion to be celebrated. I should like to see in such schools the provision either of an inter-denominational school chapel, or, at worst, a room set apart and maintained for use as a chapel, and I should like the chapel to be lent freely in turn to the various denominations on Sunday mornings before breakfast. They might not all need, or be able to make, use of it every Sunday, and it might have to be arranged that they should use it in turn. I think it ought to be allowable for Anglicans or Roman Catholics or Free Churchmen to send in clergy or ministers—in so far as they might be able to do so—for the purpose, not only of giving denominational instruction, but of celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion for their respective adherents. At a later hour on a Sunday there might well be in that chapel a lecture on some general religious subject, and in the evening an interdenominational or non-denominational service attended, subject to conscience clause, by the school as a whole. I throw out these suggestions as the possible basis of a workable scheme. But I am sure that there is a problem here which needs tackling. What I have suggested I regard as a modest minimum in the way of provision.
My final point is quite short and it is, I think, in line with some words which 1072 fell from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Addison, yesterday. I think it is important that there should be demobilization priority, first, for all actual and potential teachers in schools and universities, and, secondly, for all holders of university and college scholarships. The humanistic faculties in the universities particularly have had a raw deal during the war. If they are to be revived, and if the unbalanced character of our education as it has come to be—its lack of balance has been accentuated during the war in that so much emphasis has been placed on scientific and mathematical studies that the humanistic studies have been a little bit under-developed—is to be remedied, it is above all things necessary that some effort should be made to remove the grievance after the war by giving priority to the demobilization of the types of person to whom I have referred.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I intervene only for a few moments in this debate in order to call attention to two specific points in regard to the White Paper. The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, in his speech yesterday, which I think we all listened to not only with great interest but with great admiration also, said that if these proposals in the White Paper were put into execution we should then possess the best educational system in the world. I think that that may be true. But it will not follow that we have the best education in the world. Until the people of this country really begin to appreciate education for its own sake even the best educational system in the world will not give us the best educated people in the world. I would venture to remind your Lordships that in a recent debate in this House it was, I think, a matter of common consent that in the future our prospects, socially, industrially and internationally as a nation, depend upon a great advance and extension of scientific and research work in this country. And I think that in the course of that debate three points were emphasized in that respect: first of all, that a scientist or a research worker takes a long time to train; secondly, that the idea of science, the impact of science upon modern life, must be introduced in our education at a very early age—in fact it is hardly possible to make it too early—and, thirdly, that in the future it will be necessary greatly to widen the area in which we look for our future scientists and research workers.
1073 In the past we have looked for them, perhaps, in rather a narrow sphere, and undoubtedly a great deal of scientific ability, often even genius, has gone untapped because it has never been searched for and has never been given opportunities of coming to the front. If these three things are true—and, as I say, I think they were a matter of general agreement in a recent debate in this House—I very much hope that we may hear something upon them to-day and that it may be explained how, in the proposals in the White Paper, it is hoped to meet these points so that we may secure in this country that very great development in scientific and research work and the much greater numbers of scientists and research workers that will be necessary if this country is to maintain its place in the world in the future.
The second point on which I wish to speak relates to that part of the White Paper dealing with young people's colleges. I should like to say in respect of that how very glad I am that the compulsory principle is being introduced, because, although by political instinct I like things to be voluntary, I am bound to recognize that the voluntary system has failed badly in this respect in the past, and that only a very small percentage of those who have embarked upon these courses have completed them. But in those parts of the White Paper which deal with the young people's colleges and with the question of youth movements generally, I am bound to say that I find a certain amount of tangle and confusion. The White Paper not only mentions the young people's colleges but refers also to a good many movements which are afoot at the present time in connexion with youth.
Let me take two examples. There are, for instance, the Sea Cadets. I think that those who are connected with the direction and administration of the Sea Cadets certainly look forward to that movement continuing after the war. It is a very valuable movement indeed; and there are, of course, similar movements in connexion with the other Services. I understand that those who are administering the Sea Cadet movement propose, as is natural and proper, that a certain amount of technical training should be associated with that movement. How will that technical training fit in with the Government's proposals? Take another instance. A few 1074 weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on the platform with Mr. Chuter Ede at a meeting where the proposal was made that a very valuable form of peace memorial when this war is over would be the establishment of a youth centre in every town in this country. That is a very attractive idea at first sight, but how would such a proposal as that fit in with the Government's proposals in the White Paper? I shall not elaborate these points, but my feeling is that at this moment, when the question of youth is so much in the air, when so many people are seeking to do something for youth, when movements are being proposed and when so many organizations are already in existence, there is a certain amount of untidiness in the White Paper on this particular point. In order to avoid overlapping and needless duplication of effort, the whole of what the Government propose in regard to young people's colleges and youth movements generally should be tidied up into one coherent scheme.
Those are the two points to which I wanted to call attention. I have only a few words to say in conclusion. In the course of this debate on the White Paper, many very well-deserved tributes have been paid to the President of the Board of Education. I remember that some three years ago I had the great pleasure and advantage of hearing Mr. Butler discuss some of his ideas about education with a group of friends, and I remember the impression that his remarks made upon my mind. It is a source of great interest and pleasure to me to see that those ideas have reached fruition in the White Paper, and I would most fully associate myself with every tribute which has been paid to Mr. Butler. I feel that the White Paper will make a permanent mark upon the educational system of this country, and any man who leaves a permanent mark upon the educational system of this country has done a very great deal to affect the future of our national life.
I would add this. I have had for many years the advantage and the privilege of the friendship of Mr. Chuter Ede, an old colleague of mine, with whom I have discussed these educational problems at very great length indeed. If we do quite rightly pay our tribute to Mr. Butler, the President of the Board of Education, I am sure that your Lordships would wish to appreciate also the great satisfaction 1075 which must be felt by Mr. Chuter Ede, who has devoted the whole of his public and political life to dealing with these problems of teaching and education. We must all appreciate the satisfaction which he feels—a satisfaction which falls to very few men indeed—in seeing what he has worked for all his life translated into a great State document which, as I have said, will have a great effect on the future life of this country.
§ LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN
My Lords, it is only on very rare occasions that I venture to intervene in your Lordships' debates, because I have always understood that the political mind and the judicial mind go ill together, except, of course, when they are happily combined in the occupant of the Woolsack. This White Paper, however, does raise questions of vital interest to the Catholic community, and I have been asked by those of your Lordships who, like myself, are adherents of the old faith to state plainly to your Lordships what our reaction is to this White Paper which has been presented by the Government. There is a great deal in it of which we very heartily approve. For instance, I may mention the raising of the school age, the provisions for securing the proper feeding and clothing of children, and, above all, the recognition in terms in the White Paper that religious instruction has a special place in school life, even though that religious instruction or religious education be limited to one act of corporate worship per diem and to an agreed syllabus. Like others, I should like to join in the paeans of praise which have been chanted to the President of the Board of Education, and indeed also to the Parliamentary Secretary. But I want to-day, if I may, to say something about the position of our voluntary schools. As to that, our reaction is not quite so sympathetic. I hope to state our case concisely and temperately; and perhaps I may be allowed a very brief retrospect, so as to draw the picture of the position in which we find ourselves to-day.
As your Lordships know, before the Act of 1870 education in this country was the product entirely of private initiative. In that initiative we had taken our part, and in the year 1870 there were already 350 Catholic schools. Then came the Act of 1870, which started the dual system. 1076 There were then introduced board schools supported by public funds, and the injustice (as it seemed to us) at once arose that on the one hand we had to support our own schools and on the other hand we had, at the same time, to pay our proportion of the rates to support other schools, to which we could not conscientiously send our children. I say "we could not" for this reason. There was the famous Cowper-Temple clause, which banned all denominational teaching in those schools, and it also had the effect, which I wish to emphasize, that for the first time it protected and subsidized restricted religious teaching.
That unjust situation, as we conceived it to be, was a very hard one to bear, not only by ourselves but by all other denominations which were running voluntary schools. However, we shouldered the burden, grievous though it was, and by the year 1902, when for the first time we obtained relief, we had in existence 1,066 Catholic schools. The Act of 1902—the Balfour Act—gave us relief, but I remember well, and your Lordships who are old enough will remember well, the outcry which it caused. The slogan was: "Rome on the rates." There was no objection to Rome appearing on the rate book. The objection was to Rome receiving any help out of the rates in support of its schools. However, notwithstanding that slogan, the Act was passed and it did give relief. We had our teachers paid for, but we nevertheless still had to find our schools and to maintain them. And ever since 1902 that difficulty of the dual system has been pressing upon the country. Attempts have been made from time to time to amend it, but I think I am right in saying that they all have come to grief upon that one question. There were two distinct views. One was the official view and I think I may state it fairly thus: The official or administrative view was that the voluntary bodies owning voluntary schools should hand over the control of their schools in exchange for an agreed minimum of religious teaching. The Catholic view was very different, and it was the view also of many adherents of the Church of England. We have never wavered. Our view is that religion is not a subject in a school curriculum. It is a false distinction to draw between religious education and secular education: "all education must be based 1077 on religion." There I am quoting the words which the noble Earl used yesterday.
May I quote similar words from an Encyclical of Pope Pius XI?There is no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end.Religion should pervade the whole of education. There again, those are not my words, they are the words of a resolution passed many years ago by the Anglican National Society. Let me read it:That it is essential to education that religion pervade the whole teaching of a school, and that the main direction of education should be left in the hands of those who would be prompted to approach and handle it from a rare of the immortal souls of the children.I know and I appreciate that difficulties may arise in the matter of secular education. I cannot myself conceive for a moment that the great events that happened at the time of the Reformation should be presented exactly from the same angle in a Catholic school and a Church of England school. Even geography may present a pitfall. I remember that years ago I came across a geography book which, in dealing with one of the South American countries, contained this alarming statement:The population is composed, as to 95 per cent., of Roman Catholics, therefore "—mark the "therefore"—they are illiterate and ignorant.However, those are matters which may be got over by tact. But what cannot be got over so easily is that our schools should be deprived of a Catholic atmosphere. That is what we want.
We want in our schools to teach our children the tremendous and solemn meaning of the Mass. We want to teach them the grace and the merits of the Sacraments. We want to teach them the faith that is in them, and the reasons for that faith; and it should all be bound up with the education as a whole, and not be merely an isolated item in the curriculum. And, above all, we want this done by teachers who believe what they teach. An agreed syllabus is no substitute for that. It cannot be a substitute for that, for an agreed syllabus must of necessity omit many essentials. In other words, unless our schools can remain Catholic schools we must refuse to hand them over and to hand the control over to other bodies.
1078 And now how does the White Paper deal with this problem? It is at this point that the crucial question arises. It is a question of pounds, shillings and pence. I cannot say "at the present time" for I have only got the figures for 1938, but at that date we had in existence 1,266 Catholic schools. As I understand the proposal in the White Paper, it is this: Certain standards of building are to be imposed to which all schools must conform. This will necessarily involve a great amount of new building and a heavy expenditure, the amount of which after the war, however, is at present a matter of conjecture. The White Paper, it is true, does contain certain estimates. My noble friend Lord Rankeillour gave us figures yesterday running into millions. But from any point of view it is obviously a question of very heavy expenditure. Let me say at once that the Catholic community is a small community in this country. It has a very high percentage of the poor, it has a very low percentage of the very rich. And we cannot afford it. We shall not be able to afford a vast expenditure to comply with the requirements of new buildings. What is the result of default? The result of default, according to the White Paper, is that the local authority finds the money and controls the school. The management will as to one-third lie with the managers, and as to two-thirds with the local authority. The managers are to be consulted as regards the appointment of the head teacher. They are to be satisfied as to the reserved teachers. What the safeguard will be we must of course wait until we see the Bill. Denominational instruction will be given twice a week. The other religious instruction will be limited to an agreed syllabus. They are called controlled schools.
The point is this, from our point of view, that they will be controlled schools, but they will cease to be Catholic schools. They will be no longer Catholic schools. That is to be the penalty of poverty. So far as Catholicism is concerned, the atmosphere will be very nearly a vacuum. When I look back over the years past, and think of the sacrifices the poor Catholics of this country have made, and successfully made, to keep going their schools, I hope and trust that on this matter the last word has not been spoken. Herbert Spencer once said that education 1079 had for its object the formation of character. The White Paper does recognize that all religion is true, but it keeps the old mentality that a person who requires a particular form of religion taught must pay for it himself. We have heard much in this debate about the changes of mentality which have taken place in this country in the last few years on the question of religion. Thank God, the changes have been many and great, but apparently, according to the White Paper, the one mentality that must survive is "Rome on the rates," That is the one mentality that cannot be got rid of.
Paragraph 54 of the White Paper puts the matter very clearly. Let me read the material words:It is clear that the solution must take different lines here and cannot ignore the principle embodied in the Cowper-Temple clause of the 1870 Act and firmly rooted in the convictions of many elements in this country that the State, concerned though it is to ensure a sound religious basis for all education, cannot take on itself the full responsibility for fostering the teaching of formularies distinctive of particular denominations designed to attach children to particular worshipping communities.There is the "Rome on the rates" mentality. Why cannot the State take upon itself that responsibility? It is doing it in part, and if it is right to do it in part, why is it wrong to do it in the whole, to do it up to the full? If the goal really is, as the White Paper says, to ensure a firm religious basis for all education, how can you achieve that goal better than by laying your basis within the setting of a particular creed, be that creed what you will? There is no religious basis more sound than that of a devotee of a particular creed, and if you really wish to achieve the goal at which the White Paper says you aim, you must lay your religious basis within the setting of Catholicism or Anglicanism or any creed you care. The present official view, in my opinion, favours those who are content with an agreed minimum. It handicaps those who, like us, believe that education in the doctrines of the Church is essential to a sound religious basis.
These are our views on this all-important question. The noble Earl who moved the Motion yesterday and the most reverend Primate both spoke words of great sympathy with the Catholic position. I thank them for that. Indeed, 1080 their words were so sympathetic, and so coincided with our own views, that I am almost entitled to claim them as believing in their hearts of hearts that to the Catholic claim there is no answer. We Catholics welcome full inspection by the authorities to ensure that the education given in our schools shall be good and efficient. But this is a different matter. I beg your Lordships to believe that this is not a mere whim or idiosyncrasy on our part. To us it is a matter of conscience. Although the White Paper has been held up as an admirable compromise, you cannot compromise a matter of conscience. I may use the words used on another occasion on this matter, "We can do no other." Our poverty prevents us from doing this, and our conscience requires that our children shall go to school where their religion shall be taught to them in a regular way and thoroughly taught. We have struggled for years under this double handicap and double burden of paying rates and getting no help from them, and we do ask that at long last we may receive true equality of treatment with those who hold different views.
§ THE EARL OF HAREWOOD
My Lords, I have been very reluctant to speak or vote in your Lordships' House because on the last occasion on which I did vote motives and influences were imputed to me which I should myself have considered improper by the custom of this country for the past one hundred years and might almost be considered unconstitutional if they had, in fact, been true. They were utterly without foundation, and I beg to assure your Lordships that anything I may say is my own view on the subject, uninfluenced by any contacts I may be supposed to have outside the county in which I live and work. I shall keep your Lordships a very few minutes only because the noble Lord, Lord Winster, has already raised the point on which I wish to say a few words. It is the question of the omission of any real mention of provision for pre-Service training in this White Paper.
In paragraph 66 there is what appears to be a beautiful promise on that subject, and I wish to join with other noble Lords who have spoken in welcoming the general principles upon which this White Paper has been built up. But although I find a number of good phrases throughout it, of which the end of paragraph 66 is among 1081 the best, still, when we come to read the remainder of the White Paper, we do not find thai there is very much prospect of implementing the promises which are made. The end of paragraph 66 reads:Had fuller attention been given earlier to the all-important question of the training of young workers, some of the difficulties experienced by the Services and by industry during the present war would have been markedly less acute.One would have thought that that sentence did promise that there should be something in the White Paper that gave a prospect of continuing Cadet services after the war. I can find no such promise. Looking through subsequent paragraphs, I find in paragraphs 73 and 74 a description of some of the points which will be taken up in part-time training. In particular in paragraph 73 there are those which are considered the more essential of them. I do not suggest that the Cadets should be placed in that particular category, but, when I read through paragraph 74, I find that less essential points, the purely voluntary ones, are detailed and there is no mention of the Cadet life.
The paragraph reads more or less to this effect. When basic requirements have been met—those, I suppose, are the requirements contained in paragraph 73 then come a number of other points applicable to young people of both sexes. In all appropriate cases time may be used for technical and vocational education related to their employment. For others there would be a variety of courses, including handicrafts, domestic art, design and so on, to stimulate their interest. I suggest that the Cadet movement might at least have been placed in that category instead of not being mentioned in any part of the White Paper. I suppose the Cadets are relegated to the subsequent part of the White Paper under the head of "The Youth Service" (Part VI). In that way they will be considered as being in the category covered by the general terms, social and physical training. We all know what those things mean. They mean a game of football, a game of cricket, and, in bad weather, a game of billiards or darts, or possibly a course of reading Robinson Crusoe or Jules Verne or Sherlock Holmes. That is something which is suggested as being an advance on what is done by the Boy Scouts.
Is it really right that the training of our three Cadet forces should be left in that category? Whether it is removed 1082 from that category and placed in either of the paragraphs 73 or 74 depends, as far as I can understand, upon the local education authority. I would in that connexion join with the right reverend Prelate who spoke earlier to-day and suggest that the local education authority is not always the right authority to deal with matters of this sort; in particular I would point out that the local education authority is not the authority that is responsible for national defence. It is surely Parliament that is responsible for national defence, and consequently it is Parliament which should see that the provision for the possibility of Cadet training is inserted in any measure that is introduced. I do not want to press this matter further now, but I would point out that if it does not appear in the White Paper the position may well arise when it will be said that it is too late to include the Cadets.
I would like to ask your Lordships to consider whether it is right and proper that this very important matter of training should be left to the spare time of Cadets. Only last Friday I was visiting an Air Training Corps and asking the cadets what their intentions were when they were called up. One boy said—and this is far from being a unique instance— "I am going to be a wireless operator and gunner." I suggested: "How are you getting on with your Morse?" "Oh," he said, "I have not got on very fast." I asked him why that was and he said," I am working nearly twelve hours a day at war work and I cannot give time to it." I asked the officer who was going round with me if anything could be done about it. He said the question of the balance between essential war work and training work was something he could not interfere with. Is that sort of thing going to be allowed to go on after the war? Are the boys to be allowed to put in additional time at work and, after that, be expected to train themselves to be wireless operators or to make themselves suitable for any other trade service? I do not distinguish between trade service and other service. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, mentioned the Air Training Corps or the Army Cadets. They are all equally important in their own sphere.
I hope that practice will not be allowed to go on and that the boys will not be expected, after doing a hard day's work, to train in their spare time for this further work of national importance, while their 1083 colleagues and contemporaries who do not take the same view of their duty towards their country are allowed to go and play darts in peace and quiet at their boys' clubs. I do not ask that such training should in any way be made compulsory, but that it should be included amongst the forms of training mentioned in paragraph 74. One of these forms of training may be chosen, as I understand the paragraph, by the Cadets who are patriotic enough to wish to give up their time to national service. Having said that, my Lords, I should like to add that I warmly welcome the greater part of this White Paper, and I wish I felt confident that all it contains will in fact be brought into being by the Bill which I understand will be shortly introduced.
My Lords, I should like first of all, if I may, to add my voice to the chorus of congratulation to my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education on the White Paper, and if I echo the regret of the noble Lord, Lord Addison, that there has been no time limit set, I trust that that remark will be considered to be made in no spirit of unfriendly criticism. Your Lordships who have taken part in other educational debates would expect that I should say one word of enthusiastic welcome for the scheme of part-time education. If again I regret that the part-time education, as would appear from the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, is to be limited to one day a week, I must suppose that that rather limited amount of part-time education is due to material causes and I permit myself to hope that what at present is envisaged as part-time education may in due course become at least half-time education.
I welcome, too, the noble Lord's outline of adult education. In this respect I think I would like to utter one word of warning. I know it is the experience of all who have had anything to do with adult education that, although the numbers attending adult classes are increasing most gratifyingly, the majority of persons who attend such courses tend to be drawn not from those who have only had a primary education but from those who have also enjoyed a secondary education. This would appear probably to be due to the fact that those who have only had a primary education have, as most of us 1084 would at their age, escaped eagerly from their schooling and have never acquired the thirst for knowledge which seems to come rather later in life. I think it may be anticipated therefore that when the school-leaving age is raised, the number of persons desiring further educational facilities may very well increase enormously. That I think is to be foreseen. I hope that my right honourable friend has foreseen it and that there will be no breakdown through lack of accommodation.
The point which I rose to make to-day —and I hope I shall have the tolerance of the House if I seem to strike a discordant note—is in connexion with public residential schools. There has been a chorus from the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, and others, echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, of commendation of these schools, and the desire has been expressed that the service they render to the community should be, I gather, enormously extended. In expressing a contrary view I should make it clear that the view which has been put forward in favour of the extension of the residential school is not the view of my Party. We recognize that there are uses for residential schools, but it is our belief, and I think most of your Lordships would agree at least in this, that the aim of all education must be to produce the complete man, the ideal citizen. We must train our young people to take their place in an adult world. It is unfortunately a commonplace abroad that the ruling class of this country tends to remain till the day of its death adolescent, and this I believe to be very largely due to the fact that the members of it all receive their education in residential schools. Inevitably in such schools the standards are the standards of the boys themselves. It has been remarked by competent observers that the teachers in such schools tend not to impose adult standards, but themselves to adopt childish standards. In my view such a system cannot possibly tend to produce the complete adult citizen. For that reason I believe the residential school is by no means the ideal type of school.
I recognize fully—and the members of my Party who agree with me are the majority of the Party—that residential schools have their uses, and we naturally desire that for those who require them their services should be made as fully 1085 available as possible. But it is to be remembered that the residential school system is of modern growth. The vast increase in the population of residential schools is a thing of the last hundred years. The residential school arose to fulfil certain needs of the last century, needs largely arising out of the Industrial Revolution, the increase of wealth, the enlargement of the moneyed class and their desire to give their children a superior form of education, and to supply very largely the increased needs of industry and the Civil Service at that period. Already before the war there were indications that the general trend was against an increase in these schools. I; may have been due to other causes— financial stringency or some such external motive—but the number of day boys increased and the number of boarders decreased. However that may be, it is our belief that this is not the most desirable form of education. It is our belief that three-quarters of the child's education for life and the development of the child's personality should be in the home.
I noticed that in the noble Earl's speech he expressed profound distrust of homes. I do not share that distrust, nor do I think your Lordships as a whole share it. His commendation of the system seemed to be that it afforded an exclusive opportunity for regimenting the young. I think very few of your Lordships are in favour of regimentation. We recognize certain definite uses for boarding schools, and when we are considering the problem I think we should remember for what reasons we want boarding schools. There are several classes of residential schools. There are the approved schools for difficult boys and boys with criminal tendencies. There are the schools for boys from bad homes to which the noble Earl referred. That class of school will very largely overlap the previous class. Then there are schools needed to supply the requirements of parents who for one reason or another are unable to send their children to local schools. The obvious case that comes to the mind is the case of parents serving their country in the Army or in the Civil Service abroad. Clearly for such parents the boarding school is probably the only 1086 solution of the educational problem for their children. Those schools deal with long-term education, but I believe there is a real use for residential schools giving short courses. In that way I believe there is considerable scope for widening the use of residential schools. Special courses of, say, a year might be made available, to many boys and perhaps later even to the majority of our population. They could be used for advanced secondary education, and I think they might be very useful if they specialized in rural studies.
We approve the use of residential schools for special purposes, but we do not desire that the present system of residential schools should be bolstered up by the State in order to give an education which produces, in the words of Dr. Norwood—a great expert, as your Lordships are aware—"young men uninterested in work, neither desiring nor revering knowledge." That is not, in our view, a desirable attitude of mind to in stil in the young. There are three suggestions I would like to make in this connexion. One has been accepted, I am glad to say, in the White Paper. That is the inspection of all schools. Clearly if the State considers it to be its duty to see that its young citizens receive an adequate education, and if it is prepared to accept one form of education in lieu of that which it itself supplies, it must clearly be the duty of the State to see that this alternative education is adequate. I would suggest that as well as inspection there might be a process of licensing of all new schools, but it may be that inspection will cover the need. Secondly, the White Paper envisages the abolition of fees in secondary schools. I should like to reinforce, if I may, the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, that this should apply to direct grant schools as well. Finally, it seems to me. that if a system of boarding schools serving the purposes I have outlined is to receive the support of the State, it will have to be decided which schools are to be supported. That must necessarily be a thorny question. My only suggestion is that a number of these schools are so placed that they can well be altered into day schools and supply a useful place as such in our educational system. Those that are not, and that are well-equipped, would, it seems to me, serve most usefully the purpose which I have outlined.
1087 I have thought it important to put this point of view to your Lordships because it does not seem to have been expressed, and is, I fancy, not very much shared in your Lordships' House. But it is the view of my Party, and I have thought it most important to put it forward having regard to recent correspondence in The Times newspaper. A certain number of my honourable friends from another place visited certain of these schools and one of them wrote a letter—a letter which gave rise to considerable correspondence —expressing almost unqualified approval. There seems to have been a tendency to regard that view—based, so far as I am aware, on no educational experience other than the visits of which I have spoken— as being indicative of a change of view on the part of my Party. At the same time it has been supposed, and I think that the impression has been given, that the other honourable gentlemen who accompanied the writer of the letter share his views. I have consulted with some of them, and they assure me that this is by no means the case. It did, therefore, seem to me of some importance that this impression should be corrected.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I rise to make my very humble contribution to this most important debate in your Lordships' House, and, in association with so many other speakers, I wish to pay my tribute to this great White Paper. Its very title, "Educational Reconstruction," is a great one, and it envisages in its plan a very wide vista for the future of education. Reinforced by its other reports, some of which have already been issued, and others of which are about to be issued, it will constitute a rebuilding programme, a programme based on the best of the old foundations and with some of the existing walls. And we hope that it will be a noble structure. We also hope that it will not be too futuristic. The proposals are, moreover, a challenge, a challenge to the country, to local authorities and to the older schools. The challenge says, in effect, "This is our standard now, where are your improvements, where are your plans?"
I presume to touch only upon one or two aspects of this great plan. My first point relates to the question of teachers. I am well aware that the supply and training of teachers is under consideration 1088 by the McNair Committee, but it has been stressed in the White Paper that the child is the centre of education. But surely it is the teacher who provides the motive power for the whole operation of the process of education, and so in the teacher we have got to have the right mentality. He or she has got to create the right atmosphere, and the teacher has got to be able to inspire the students. If you do not get those qualities then there is going to be a lot of wasted energy, both on the part of the teachers and on the part of the students. The White Paper says that teachersmust be educated men and women of responsibility whose training has introduced them to a full life which they will be encouraged to maintain, and indeed develop, during their professional careers.That surely is a very encouraging sentence, not only to teachers but to all who have education at heart, and I very much hope that that view will have a wide circulation.
It is just this sort of men and women who are now in the Forces, though I realize that there are many who have been kept back in order that education may go on. The problem is how to discover them, and, when you have discovered them, how to draw them to the educational service. I have seen a great deal during my time in the Army of just those young men. They are leaders now, and it is leaders you want in the teaching profession. I believe that a great number of them are potential teachers, but they, themselves, are really very uncertain of their future. I have heard them talking, and I know that they are asking what are they going to be fit for after the war. Not only are they asking that, but they are also raising the question: "What employment are we going to find when we get out of the Army?"
There are, of course, great efforts being made to interest them, and this has received encouragement in official quarters in the Service. But there are two attitudes to this question. There is the attitude of those who say to the young men in the Army: "Now get on with the war; don't worry about what is going to happen afterwards." On the other hand, there is the attitude—which I believe is the attitude which has official sanction—of those who desire to interest them very definitely in what is going to happen after the war. I hope that that 1089 attitude, being the official attitude, will be given more encouragement, and that these young people will be given time to study post-war problems. Whichever attitude is in existence, you surely cannot prevent the individual from reflecting on his or her future. The question is asked: "What are we fighting for, and what is to happen afterwards?" I can think of nothing more helpful to morale in the Armed Forces than to make all those who are serving feel that they are going to be as valuable to the nation after the war as they are during the war. That this question in connexion with teachers is under consideration we have the assurance of the President of the Board of Education. Speaking in another place, he said "We mean business about the teachers. The teacher-leader must be found and developed."
The most reverend Primate said yesterday that we cannot have neutral education. It is therefore very welcome that religious education is given a prominent place in the White Paper, and is to be given a more prominent place in the education of the future, with greater official recognition of its importance. The attitude of the teacher to religious instruction is surely, however, of even greater importance. I realize the undesirability of any compulsion in this matter, but surely religion or religious instruction is a vital subject which cannot be ignored by any teacher. Cannot the teachers themselves be expected to have the same high regard for religious education as has the Board of Education under whom they serve? Let me quote from the Report of the Norwood Committee:Teachers are unwilling to take Scripture because they are timid, because they know that they do not know enough about it, because they think that formularies must be followed, and' because they are afraid that questions will be asked to which they think that they are not free to give a sincere answer.Later the Committee say, however, that the subject can be learnt if taken seriously enough. That, surely, is the centre of the problem. The Norwood Committee go on to make suggestions for improving the situation, and point out what opportunities there are and will be for teachers to study this important subject.
I realize, of course, that all teachers arc entitled to their own opinions, but at the same time they have very serious respon- 1090 sibilities to the rising generation, and, as your Lordships have borne witness in this debate, we realize to-day to a greater extent than in the past the need which exists for attention to religion. I would venture to say that the effect of the other improvements recommended in the White Paper —new buildings, a longer time at school, and so on—excellent as they are in their way, would largely be nullified if in the long run no greater knowledge of religion among the children resulted. We have had a promised improvement in, and extension of, the agreed syllabus—agreed, no doubt, between all the denominations, and agreed to by many others. Is it not possible that the teachers also should agree to the agreed syllabus? The corporate act of worship is another step forward, but this will lose all its value if it is not carried out with reverence and earnestness on the part of the teachers.
I come now to the denominational schools. I am well aware of the past controversial history of this problem, and I do not intend to enter into that; I would merely say that the present apparent harmony is all the more welcome. The President of the Board of Education has gone a long way to meet the Churches, and in so doing he has paid his tribute to their great influence in the past, and to the influence which they can still have in the future. No doubt the way has been paved by the other assurances which have been given for religious education. Although complete agreement is perhaps more than can be hoped for with regard to the proposed partnership, I hope that there will be no very great controversy. If it is still felt that it is reactionary to wish to preserve the voluntary schools, I should like to say that it should not be forgotten how eager the Churches are to bring their schools up to date, but their hands are tied by finance, and even as things are the Churches will, of course, have to find a great deal more money.
For one moment I should like to touch on the question of agricultural education. It is felt in some quarters that up to the present this has not received the attention which it deserves, but I realize that active consultations are taking place now in various quarters, and therefore I will content myself with saying that it is more important than ever, not only that those in rural areas should be educated in agriculture, but that those in the towns 1091 should be made to realize the problems which agriculture has to face and how in time of war our agriculture is able to save them from starvation. That part of the education of the people in the towns has already been given; let us hope that it will not be forgotten in time of peace. In the rural areas I hope that there will be more place for the teaching of the science of agriculture, and that it will be included in the training colleges for teachers. In conclusion, let me say that, like so many other noble Lords who have spoken, I support the White Paper, which with great courage shows us the way. It presents proposals for ensuring that all children shall have the best conditions of surroundings and instruction and, most important of all, it attempts to instil in all minds the fact that education begins in the school but certainly does not end with the school, but continues throughout our lives.
My Lords, it is my pleasant duty to begin by congratulating the noble Lord who has just sat down on his well-delivered and well-thought-out speech. I myself, in common with many of your Lordships, look forward to many future contributions from him. I was particularly interested in what he said about the teachers; his views have evidently been collected from personal contact with them in the Army and elsewhere. I congratulate the noble Lord on the evidence of a good business brain which he has shown us today; it is evident that not for nothing is he his father's son.
I have only a very few words to say. We have heard a great deal in praise of the White Paper, but I think it is fair to say that a good many obvious difficulties from an educational point of view, quite apart from religious differences, have been ignored. There is the question, for instance, of whether it is really desirable to occupy the time of a very large number of young people by giving them education which will fit them for occupying important and well-paid posts, when the number of such posts which does or can exist is very small. To my mind that is doubtful, and I am afraid that we are preparing bitter disappointment and disillusion for a large number of these young people. It would at this stage, however, be useless to insist upon this and many kindred aspects of the subject, and objections in principle would not be con- 1092 sidered; but I do wish that we had been given more enlightenment as to how it is proposed to pay for all the increased health and happiness which these proposals are to bring with them.
Like most other good things, health and happiness cost money. Is it proposed that this payment is just to be another burden upon the back of the already overloaded taxpayer, or are these reforms going to pay for themselves by increasing production? If they do not increase the production of wealth at least sufficiently to pay for themselves their cost inevitably involves a drain upon capital to pay for them, with a progressive reduction of the standard of living of the whole country. This is of course true of all expenditure on the Social Services. Do they or do they not pay for themselves by increasing production? If they do, by all means let us have as many of them as possible; if they do not, they immediately react on the standard of living, and if the drain upon capital is a big one it is only a question of time before they produce financial breakdown, which is almost certain to take the form of runaway inflation. I hope the Government are not going to take the easy path of ignoring finance. A fuller national life and an emptier national stomach are a poor combination.
§ THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBORNE)
My Lords, I think the Government have every reason to be grateful to your Lordships' House for the reception you have given to the White Paper and to the Motion that I had the honour to introduce. If I am not able to reply to all the very interesting points and suggestions that have been made in this debate, it is because time would not allow that to be done within the limits of a single speech; and if my replies to those points that I do try to answer must necessarily be somewhat tentative to-day, it is because the White Paper has been published for the very purpose of eliciting criticisms and suggestions from both Houses of Parliament and from the informed public outside. These weighty and difficult questions are still capable of adjustment in many instances, and it is not of course until a Bill is introduced in Parliament that the Government plans can be said to be completely crystallized; and even a Bill is often very different when it leaves Parliament from what it is when it enters Parliament.
1093 But before I say anything else I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Luke, on his very successful maiden speech, and I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, in hoping that we may have the pleasure of hearing Lord Luke on many occasions in the future. The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, asked one or two very broad and searching questions in his speech, of which per haps the most pregnant was, Do social reforms pay for themselves? Well, that is, I think, a little bit outside the scope of this debate, but I would venture to point out to him that it is astonishing how much better off as a nation we are after thirty years of hectic social reforms than we were before.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
And though I agree with him that finance will necessarily have to dictate the pace at which these reforms can be carried out—and that is fully admitted in the White Paper—yet we believe that it is a burden that the nation will be willing to bear when the necessary adjustments have been made after the war. The noble Lord, Lord Addison, in his very interesting speech yesterday, asked me some specific questions about paragraph 6 of the White Paper. I admit that perhaps the actual wording of that paragraph is open to criticism, but I should like to assure him that the Government intend to fix the appointed day for raising the school-leaving age to fifteen for the whole country as soon as possible after the war, even though some of the increased accommodation that will be required for the purpose may have to be of a makeshift character. The full scheme envisaged by the White Paper is of course dependent to a large extent on the reorganization of full-time education that the White Paper sketches. That reorganization must take some little time, but the Government's intention is to press on with it as rapidly as possible.
I was very glad to hear my noble friend Lord Soulbury, with all his experience at the Board of Education, give his blessing to the Government's scheme. He and the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby spoke in regard to boarding schools and secondary schools. I would like to say, in answer to Lord Glasgow, that I think the points made by Lord Faringdon just 1094 now are supported by a large section of opinion in this country, but the White Paper provides opportunity for local authorities to build and maintain boarding schools as and when public opinion demands it; and that, I think, obviously is the right way to deal with that matter, because we certainly do not want to build or maintain boarding schools if people do not want to go to them.
The noble Earl, Lord Harewood, raised some very interesting points about the Cadet Corps. I think he was possibly under a slight misapprehension in regard to the Government proposals in this matter. The young people's colleges will function during the young people's work-time. They will therefore make no inroad on young people's spare time. (The noble Lord, Lord Winster, is also interested in the same point.) Therefore I do not see how the young people's colleges can in any way interfere with or reduce the amount of time that youths and young women have been able to give to these Service movements. On the contrary, it is to be hoped that the young people's colleges will themselves become centres with an esprit de corps and a collegiate life which would harmonize very well with a Cadet Corps or Service movement of that nature. The two might be linked up together. Hitherto the Service movements have been always in spare time. The noble Earl, Lord Harewood, seemed to suggest that some of the official time of the young people's colleges should be given to Cadet movements, but not on a compulsory basis—rather on the same basis as woodwork and the other matters mentioned in paragraph 74. I can assure the noble Earl that any suggestion coming from him will receive the most careful consideration of my right honourable friend. I know that he is anxious to help the Service movements by every means in his power, but I do not myself at present see how that suggestion could very well be carried out.
I was very glad to hear the tribute which Lord Winster paid to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, Mr. Chuter Ede. I paid a tribute to him myself in my opening remarks. I quite agree that he is one of the men who have laboured longest and best in this great work and that he is deserving of the congratulations of your Lordships' House as well as of his own House.
1095 The noble Lord, Lord Winster, spoke of the need of scientific education and also of the need for scientific teachers. That is a need of which the Government are fully aware, and the means by which that need can be met are at this moment under very careful consideration. The subject is, of course, linked up with the university developments which are alluded to in the White Paper. The noble Lord criticized the White Paper as being rather untidy in certain respects.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I am glad to hear that. I hope he is not mistaking diversity for untidiness because they are not the same thing at all. The right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Derby, made some interesting remarks and suggestions in regard to the governing bodies of secondary schools, and he made some rather stern criticisms of borough councils. We must remember that, where a school receives aid from the rates, the local authority is certainly entitled to representation on the governing body of the school. I can assure your Lordships that the Board of Education does not entirely agree with the right reverend Prelate in this matter, and considers that his experience must have been unfortunate. No doubt in all elected assemblies there are sometimes members who are inexperienced, who make mistakes. The merit of democracy is not that it is good government, but that it is self-government, and that is an educative process in itself which ultimately leads to improved efficiency. I would like to assure the right reverend Prelate, however, that the White Paper does envisage a diversity in the constitution of the governing bodies of secondary schools, and it is, in fact, the keynote of the whole of my right honourable friend's scheme that there should be diversity in every branch of it to allow reflection of the fact that circumstances are different in all these different cases.
The right reverend Prelate also made some very interesting remarks in regard to the problem of religion in secondary boarding schools. I agree with him that this is a new problem because these State boarding schools have never been proposed before. I can assure him that his 1096 suggestions will be very carefully considered by my right honourable friend. I would, however, say this, and I am sure the right reverend Prelate will agree, that no solution such as he has suggested could be adopted unless it was by common agreement of all the great denominations of this country. If it were possible to attain a measure of agreement in regard to this new problem, then the solution would be very much easier. Without some measure of agreement I do not think it would be possible. The right reverend Prelate also referred to the necessity for priority for teachers in demobilization. That is a matter on which my right honourable friend is at present in consultation with the Secretary of State for War who, of course, has a most complicated demobilization problem in front of him. All these points and priorities are now being considered.
I am sure your Lordships listened with very great appreciation to the speech of the most reverend Primate yesterday. He asked a number of questions which it is my duty to answer so far as possible. He asked in the first place whether there was anything sacrosanct in the age of eleven as the age at which children should go to secondary schools. The answer is that my right honourable friend entirely agrees there is nothing sacred about the age of eleven, and when the school-leaving age is raised to sixteen the Board of Education will have to consider whether twelve would not be a more suitable age at which children should go to these schools. Then the most reverend Primate made some important suggestions in regard to religious instruction at young people's colleges. I am afraid that there are some very grave difficulties in this matter which the most reverend Primate as well as my right honourable friend will have to consider. In the first place, there is the question of the very limited time which the scheme, certainly in its initial stages, allows for work to be done at young people's colleges. Apart from that, young people's colleges will be catering for young men and women who are getting to an age when, on religious matters, their approach is somewhat different from that of the child at school. I am bound to say that my recollection of the examination we used to call "divvers" at Oxford does not lead me to think anything in the nature of compulsory religious education is a good spiritual experience for a young 1097 man. I think that point must be borne in mind in connexion with young people's colleges, but this and all the suggestions made in this debate will receive the consideration of my right honourable friend. I hope the problem will be studied by the leaders of other denominations besides the Church of England, because it is undoubtedly a problem that will have to be considered.
The most reverend Primate asked a specific question about the controlled schools. He asked for a guarantee that the denominational teaching to be given there should be given by a reserved teacher approved by the foundation managers. I should like to say on behalf of my right honourable friend it is quite clear that for that teaching to be satisfactory it must be given either by a reserved teacher or by someone who is acceptable to the foundation managers. I hope, therefore, there will be no disagreement on that point. The most reverend Primate also entered a plea that the Act of 1936 should be renewed and that new denominational schools should be allowed to be built where 80 or 90 per cent. of the population in any area indicated their desire that the school should be a denominational school. I will consult my right honourable friend about these suggestions, but, as the most reverend Primate has recognized, this scheme is a balanced one and any adjustments must be considered in relation to whether the balance would be disturbed or not. The only other point I would like to make in answer to the most reverend Primate is on what fell from him in regard to adult education. I can assure him that, although there is not very much in the White Paper about adult education, it does not mean that my right honourable friend is not tremendously keen about it, because he is. It is the intention of the Government to do everything they can to further and foster adult education after the war.
We listened yesterday, as we always do when it comes from my noble friend Lord Rankeillour, to a very interesting speech in which he urged with great sweetness of reason the case of the Roman Catholic schools. To-day we have heard a brilliant and moving oration from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Russell, on the same subject. If I may say with great respect to both noble Lords, I think they arc taking too gloomy 1098 a view of the probable effect of these proposals on Roman Catholic schools. After all, the offer of my right honourable friend is a great deal better than has ever been made by any Minister of Education. The noble Lord, Lord Russell, himself said that the Balfour Act had given his Church great relief. These proposals are much more generous than the Balfour Act. Therefore I think it is not quite fair to represent the Government proposals as something that is going to injure the Roman Catholic Church.
I would remind both noble Lords that under the Government scheme the grant of 50 per cent. of the cost of the improvement and repair of the buildings applies not only to junior schools but to senior schools. The resuscitation of the 1936 Act will give very great assistance, as I think they will both agree, to the problem that will face the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England in meeting the needs of their senior children so as to come into line with the policy of the White Paper. Most of the Roman Catholic secondary schools at present only get a direct grant from the Board of Education. Under this scheme they could get the whole of their teachers' salaries paid, they could have all their running expenses paid, and in addition they could receive from the Board half the cost of alterations, improvements and repairs to the buildings. In fact I am assured that something like 90 per cent. of the total costs of the schools would be paid. I would also point out to my noble friends that the arrangements that are being made in connexion with the transport of pupils to school ought to be of particular assistance to the Roman Catholic Church. I hope noble Lords will bear all these points in mind before they are prepared to say that this scheme is not fair to the Roman Catholic Church.
Then there was the speech of my noble friend Lord Rochester. I am bound to say that I did regret some of the phrases that he let fall in the course of the very eloquent speech that he made because we all know how keen the noble Lord is himself for Christian harmony, how much he has done to promote it, and what an honoured position he holds in the Methodist Church. I think that in this matter the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, more truly represented the view of Free Churchmen 1099 who have studied the question, and I hope my noble friend Lord Rochester will find cause to revise some of the statement's he made yesterday. But I should like to say this to him, that if he can make practical suggestions for the mitigation of any grievance that the Free Churches feel in regard to single-school areas they will receive, not only the sympathetic consideration of the Board of Education, but I feel sure of the Church of England also. The noble Lord should be aware that in paragraph 40 of the White Paper provision is made for syllabus instruction to be available instead of denominational instruction in a voluntary school for those children whose parents demand it. If any improvement on that can be made I hope my noble friend will bring the suggestion forward.
As I said at the commencement of my remarks, this White Paper has been published in order that the Government plans should be before Parliament and that we should get the benefit of Parliamentary criticism and suggestions, and the benefit also of criticism and suggestions from outside. Several months will elapse before the Bill is introduced. The debates that have taken place here and in another place will be of great assistance to my right honourable friend, and the suggestions he will receive from outside bodies who have a right to speak in the matter will also be of great assistance to him. The publication of the White Paper, I think, gives yet another opportunity for the denominations to get together to see whether an even greater extent of inter-denominational harmony cannot be reached. We all rejoice at the degree of harmony which has been achieved now in comparison with the position years ago, but it is clear from certain speeches we have listened to in this debate that there are still some on the side of the Church of England, the Free Churches and the Roman Catholics who are not happy about various points in my right honourable friend's scheme. If by getting together they can arrive at an even greater degree of agreement on some of the points that have emerged, I can assure them they will greatly facilitate the task of the Government. Of course the Government cannot be bound by anything that may be agreed by outside bodies, but I am sure the greater the degree of agreement' that can be reached the better 1100 my right honourable friend will be pleased, and the easier his task will be.
As I ventured to say in my opening remarks, you cannot build progress in religious education on a foundation of denominational strife. If we can get peace and good will among those who have really all got the same object in view, who all want to see the children of this country brought up as practising members of the different Churches of their fathers, if we can get agreement among these earnest Christians of every denomination then surely that is the way to make progress. I do not despair of an even closer agreement in the months that are ahead of us than has been already reached, and if noble Lords spiritual and temporal who have spoken in this debate could, in communication with their colleagues outside Parliament, further interdenominational harmony and understanding, I believe that would be far and away the greatest contribution that they could make to the progress of religious education in this country.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.