HL Deb 01 August 1944 vol 133 cc3-6

[The references are to Bill (21) as first printed for the House of Lords.]

Page 3, line 18, after the first ("Minister") insert ("but as to one-third of the members the Minister shall make the appointments after consultation alternately with the President of the Board of Trade and with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries").

The Commons disagree to the above Amendment for the following Reason:

Because it unnecessarily restricts the discretion of the Minister in appointing members of the Central Advisory Council.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on this Amendment. This matter was very fully discussed in your Lordships' House, first on the Committee stage and then on Report. I might point out, in passing, that your Lordships' Amendments to this Bill, which occupied no fewer than nineteen pages of the Order Paper in another place, received very careful and sympathetic attention there, and the Amendments with which the Commons have disagreed, or which they have amended, are very few. Therefore I hope very much that my noble friend Lord Roche will respond to what must be described as the generous spirit in which the Amendments of this House have been received in another place, and the recognition that has been made in another place of the great improvements that your Lordships have made to the Bill.

In this case, however, the Commons disagreed with your Lordships' Amendment and I hope that this House will not insist upon it. We covered the ground very fully in Committee and on Report and there is very little new to be said, but I would like to say this. I think the attention that was devoted to the importance of technical education during your Lordships' debates has achieved the object of my noble friend Lord Roche and my noble friend Lord Barnby and others, who stressed the importance of technical education. Public opinion has been focused on the matter and these debates have drawn from my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education a most unequivocal statement in another place of the great importance he attaches to technical education and to agricultural education, and an assurance of the steps that he would take to see that he is properly advised on these subjects.

The objection that the Government have always felt against this particular Amendment has been its limiting character—that it is not good legislation to single out two Ministers when, in fact, my right honourable friend will have to consult not only two of his colleagues but all of them, and also have to consult a great many people outside as well. I would like to remind my noble friend Lord Roche that there is already a Joint Committee appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Board of Education to advise them on all aspects of agricultural education to be provided by local education authorities and particularly on the educational policy and methods of training to be adopted in farm institutes. This Committee has actually been set up and is now in being. Agriculture is the only branch of education which has been treated in that exceptional manner, but I think that is worth mentioning to show the very great importance that the Government do attach to agricultural education. For those reasons I hope very much that your Lordships will not insist on the Amendment that was made during the Report stage.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on the said Amendment.—(The Earl of Selborne.)


My Lords, as I was the mover of the Amendment which has been made the object of sacrifice, perhaps it will be appropriate that I should address a few observations to your Lordships. I am at any rate now, and not for the first time, in agreement with the noble Earl as to the course which I think should be adopted. When we in the law do not much mind what the result may be we are in the habit of saying "we submit ourselves to the judgment of the court." That is the attitude of myself and my noble friends who supported me. But I do not wish to be misunderstood. We are supremely anxious about the end to be attained, the advancement of technical education and the giving to that branch of study due prominence, a prominence which it does not always receive. But about the means to be adopted for that end we are quite indifferent, at least I am, and having consulted my noble friends Lord Rankeillour and Lord Barnby, who rendered me a good deal of assistance in this matter, I think they are very much of the same opinion. I have also had the advantage of seeing the noble Lord, Lord Addison, who kindly supported this Amendment, and I think the feeling is that our aim has been attained in the very ample assurances that were given by the President in another place and which I am perfectly sure will be honoured.

I do not knew whether your Lordships remember a tale in verse told by the poet Robert Browning about a fisher boy who entered the Church and went through all the steps in the hierarchy until he became Pope. At every stage of his career, Canon, Bishop, Cardinal, the fisher boy's net hung on the wall of his dwelling, but when he became Pope it disappeared. Being asked why he replied: "My son, the net has caught its fish." I think this Amendment is in much the same position. The Minister concerned always was in the net but we were not so sure that all concerned with him were in the same net. After all, it is a very good thing if the fish is jumping about to give it a knock on the head, and perhaps my Amendment served that purpose too. But in the result, speaking for myself, I offer no opposition to the noble Earl's Motion.


My Lords, on behalf of those associated with me who supported the noble Lord, I would say that I concur in his statement and I think I should came disappointment if I added anything to the charming way in which he has expressed himself.


My Lords, I regret the loss of this Amendment and I regret it from a different point of view. As I said on the previous occasion I regret it from the point of view of the President of the Board of Education himself. I am quite certain that it would be of enormous advantage to him that this Advisory Council should be looked on as a great authority on education in all its manifold branches, and the fact that some of these people being appointed by the Minister were in charge of a particular aspect of education would, I think, increase their stature in the country. But when that procedure is not followed and it is known that they are all appointed by the President alone—however much he may have been advised by his colleagues on one or many Government Committees that Ministers attend matters not—that will not be the case and therefore the members will not have the same standing that they would have had if they had been appointed on the advice of one or other of His Majesty's Ministers From that point of view I think the rejection of the Amendment is unfortunate; but, after all, this is a matter for the President himself to decide and if he feels satisfied that his Council will have equal standing, as I do not think it will, that, of course, is his affair.

On Question, Motion agreed to.