§ 2.47 p.m.
§ LORD GLYN rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given consideration to the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee with regard to the further development of higher technological education in Great Britain; and to move for Papers. 188 The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper in regard to the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I think it is due to your Lordships' House that I should mention that this Committee is an unofficial body, but it has already been in existence for a long time and, in my view at any rate, it has rendered great service to both Houses of Parliament. The Committee is an unofficial group of Members of both Houses of Parliament, and representatives of certain scientific and technical institutions are also members of it. In this particular case, it was agreed that the Committee should set up a sub-committee consisting of twelve members of both Houses of Parliament, to take evidence, so far as they could, and to go into the whole question of the position of technological education: what was required in the country, and what were the desires of those people—often people of limited means—who are anxious to improve their education from the technological point of view.
§ I should like to say here how grateful we were to the witnesses who were good enough to come, at their own expense, to give evidence before the Committee, because we had no right to ask them to come. It was an indication of the importance that those witnesses attached to making known their views that they were good enough to come and give us the evidence which they, and they alone, could give. There is one thing further that I ought to say at the beginning. All of us who served on that Committee recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already stated, in answer to Questions in another place, his interest in this matter, and I trust and hope that his interest will be translated into practical measures of giving assistance
§ There are certain aspects of this matter which are worth consideration. One is that, in my view, it is a mistake for any Member of your Lordships' House to think that the universities have not rendered tremendous service to the country in carrying out what work they have done of a technological character. But I am afraid one must say that there are certain members of universities who feel that technological education is rather a young and wishful person who wants to ingratiate himself into the 189 formal set-up of a university. We felt strongly, and we found in evidence, that there is plenty of room both for the universities and for building up and improving the position of certain technical colleges. I know there are those who feel that technological education is something one talks about with bated breath and who say: "We got on very well without before, so why should we bother about it now?" But that is not the position. This country lags behind almost every other country in the amenities and facilities that are provided to give people the opportunity of becoming qualified in that form of work which involves technological knowledge. The object of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee's Report was, first of all, to draw the attention of Parliament and the country to the demand by the people for increasing the facilities for technological instruction; and the Report which is available in the Printed Paper Office indicates the lines which we think, as a result of the evidence we had, might usefully be followed.
§ There is another matter which presents really the most important aspect of this whole complicated problem—that is, the University Grants Committee. The University Grants Committee is unique in one particular, namely this: it does not function, like almost everything else, on en annual basis, but is permitted by the Treasury to function on a quinquennial basis. That is a great advantage, and nothing ought to be done to change it. But what some of us would like to see—and we cannot, for the life of us, understand why it cannot be done—is the setting up of a parallel organisation to the University Grants Committee which would help technological education, and would have the same status and position as the University Grants Committee. If one could only hope it might happen, one hopes that the two bodies would work in harmony. If they were genuinely anxious to help technological education, it might indeed be a branch of the U.G.C. But it must be admitted that up to now the great bulk of the money which has been provided for the University Grants Committee has not gone towards the development of technological education to the extent that many people would like to see. On the other hand, there 190 is no doubt at all that the University Grants Committee is the right sort of body by which funds should be administered for technological education. I have found that the members of that Committee, individually, are all keen and anxious to help in this development. They recognise that, important as are the arts—and nobody is going to say they are not important—this country will be able to live only if it is able to export its valuable products produced with the knowledge and skill of men and women who have a sound basis in technology.
§ A short time ago a reference was made in your Lordships' House to the Imperial College. I do not propose to deal with that today, except to say that, as many of your Lordships know, the Imperial College has done wonderful work in London. There is a tremendous demand for expansion which must be met. Over two years ago a promise was given that this would be proceeded with, and yet hardly anything has been done. That is an outward and visible sign of inaction at a time when action is absolutely imperative. There is one other matter in this connection—it is a difficulty which I hope will be dealt with by one of your Lordships who can speak with far more authority than I can. When we paid a visit to the Imperial College we found that post-graduate work was almost impossible for British people, and that a proportion of post-graduate students from other parts of the British Commonwealth were provided by grants from their Governments or in other ways. Far be it from me to condemn that practice, because it seems to me an admirable thing to have happened; but it does seem rather strange that we should have to learn a lesson from some British Colonies on how to help post-graduates to get the full advantage which is obtainable of the Imperial College. I think the whole question of post-graduate bursaries, or whatever one may call them, should be gone into, because it is of the greatest importance.
§ I am anxious not to delay your Lordships a moment longer than is necessary, but I would refer to the other point which appears in our Report. There are those in the country who do not seem to realist that technologists really are scientists who apply their knowledge for specific purposes. There is a tremendously wide 191 range, and some figures (I do not want to bore the House) are worth repeating. The United States, per head of the population—taken on that basis and no other—are turning out four and a half times as many technologists as we are in this country. On the other hand, the United Kingdom turns out nearly five times as many pure scientists per head of the population as the United States. Those are two surprising facts. To what does that situation lead? It certainly has led to the fact that, while this country spends a great deal of effort on research, others reap the benefit of its application and development, because they have the people trained as technologists who can seize on these ideas and, through the association of various industrial organisations, can follow them through and take the advantage that ought to have come to us and, no doubt, would have done had we had more technologists to follow up the work done by the scientists.
§ I hasten to tell your Lordships that I am not an educated person in the strict sense of the term. I went to Sandhurst, but, to my great regret, I have not had the benefit of a university education. Therefore I can speak of these things without the jealousies that seem to result if the speaker has been at Oxford, Cambridge or any other university. In a way, I can look at this matter from the sidelines. It seems to me that one thing which is important is that all examinations of young people should be based on extracting from them common-sense ideas, rather than ideas which involve a great many dates and then having to go to a "crammer." It seems to me that the system of "cramming" in order to pass an examination is not, in these modern days, so subtle and flexible as to enable people to meet the country's needs from a technological point of view.
§ There is one other point: there seems to be some ignorance of the fact that there are large numbers of young men and women in this country who are coming up by what we call "the hard way." We got in the habit of using that expression in hearing evidence, and it comes easily off the tongue. But what it really means is that, until the evidence is made available, it is impossible to know how many people who work hard all day in a factory, mine or office, go 192 afterwards for evening classes in instruction. There are a certain number of places which are available for them to enable them to get further up the ladder they wish to climb, but this depends largely on where they happen to be. There are some parts of the country where the facilities for these young people to improve themselves, and therefore to qualify for positions which will give them an increased income and so on, are not so good as they are in other places. We on the Committee were very much interested in the evidence that we had on this question of districts. Part of the proposals that we ventured to put forward in our Report was that certain technical colleges, provided they had achieved a very high standard—and that is absolutely essential—might be upgraded and called Royal Charter colleges. If they were given that name, which is not a name that associates them only with this country, it would be possible for similar colleges to be established in some of the great Dominions, under the same title. There could be an interchange of young people between one part of the Commonwealth and another.
§ Then, of course, one would hope that appropriate awards would be given by those Royal Charter colleges. To me, at any rate, it was extraordinary that, although at the universities a person could be called a Bachelor of Arts or a Master of Arts, he could not be called a Bachelor of Technology or a Master of Technology. I do not know who has copyrighted the title "Master." At any rate, it seems strange that if a man can be a Master of Arts or a Bachelor of Arts, he cannot also be a Master of Technology or a Bachelor of Technology. I know that that produces the most acute feelings of alarm and sensation in the breasts of a good many people. On the other hand, if we are going to have these Royal Charter colleges, inevitably it will mean that they will draw to certain places those interests which are predominant in that district from an industrial point of view. I should like to mention, for instance, Manchester, where you would have textiles; Bradford, where you would have the wool trade; Newcastle for engineering and so on. That would mean that a man looking for a competent person to help forward his particular work would look to the graduate having a qualification from such a college known 193 to be fitted for that particular task. We were greatly struck with the evidence that we heard in regard to Glasgow University and Glasgow Technical College, where wonderful work is being done. They are wonderful people to work with, too. Then also at Manchester we had some evidence from the Manchester College of Technology and from Manchester University. They get along well, but there is plenty of room for more.
§ I do not think that jealousy or vested interests ought to prevent young men and women who "have got it in them" from going up. That is the basis of our Report. We had on our sub-committee, twelve Members of both Houses, three from your Lordships' House and the rest from another place, and they were of all Parties. I do not think we mentioned Party politics once, because this is not a Party political question. It is essentially a matter for the good of the country and the benefit of those in the country who want to make a contribution to what is essential. We must realise that in our schools to-day there is a terrible shortage of teachers with adequate knowledge. That is where the tap has been turned off. Many promising people go to the primary and secondary schools, and they are there discouraged from taking up technological education. The argument seems to be that the teacher may say, "Well, I am not a technologist. Why should you be? Go in for arts." I hope that none of your Lordships will feel that anything I have said is derogatory to the ability of a person to express himself in good English, because it is no use a man having a technological education unless he has also the ability to write or talk about what he knows.
§ But surely there are enough examples, in all our Dominions and in the United States, of what can be done about this problem. It breaks ore's heart to see so many people struggling to get on in the world without the amenities that will enable them to do so. The papers are full of all the stupidities of some youths, but no mention is made of those who are working hard, night after night, giving up their spare time and finding great difficulty in obtaining the books they need. The county libraries are full of detective novels for people to draw on, but they contain very few technical books. Why should the ratepayers pay for Agatha Christie's books or books of that sort? 194 I am all in favour of reading those as a relaxation, but why should the ratepayers have to pay for them when there are people who want to study modern subjects from a technological point of view and the books are not there? That is a matter that needs going into.
§ Finally (I apologise for having taken up so much of your Lordships' time), I would say this. This matter is of such paramount importance for the future of this country that it is worth while taking tremendous trouble about it. Every member of the Committee attended, I think, practically every meeting. The technical colleges which exist at present, and which are doing wonderful work, cannot all be upgraded, but we hope that those which are upgraded will be removed from the sphere of local rates and be made an independent organisation, with all that that means. That will leave more money to the ratepayers to help in the secondary education and the other technical schools, so that more and more boys and girls will be drawn forward and given those qualifications which will enable them to make a great contribution to the wealth of this country. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.8 p.m.
My Lords, the House will be under a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Lord who has moved this Motion, both for moving it and enabling us to discuss this vital question, and also because of his Report, which many of us have read with great interest. It is to me a special pleasure to follow the noble Lord because I remember (and I am sure he does) the five years that we spent together during the war, making investigations of this kind, as fellow chairmen of sub-committees of the Select Committee on National Expenditure. I am afraid we were both at times a thorn in the flesh of the Government, because it was our duty to discover inefficiencies in various aspects of our war economy. I was particularly concerned with war production and he was concerned with the Services. I think at times we brought to light defects, the revealing of which I hope was worth while and was of help in our war effort.
To-day, the noble Lord has rendered one more signal service in bringing before us this question. If I am a little critical, I hope he will nevertheless feel that we are all deeply concerned about the problem that he has raised, We all want the 195 maximum number, the right number, of suitable technologists in this country. We need them not only for the reasons which the noble Lord has given, but also to enable us to exploit and develop the Colonies. We are members of the Colombo Plan, and it is essential, if we are to develop our Colonies to the fullest extent and give to their inhabitants a rising standard of life, that we should provide the technologists to enable that development to take place. The responsibility rests on us. There was an article in the Economist, I think last week, drawing attention to the cost of providing technological education in the Colonies and in this country, and I believe it is infinitely cheaper to send Colonials to this country to get their technological education than it is to provide it in the Colonies. Moreover, there is our rearmament effort, and technologists are required for defence purposes.
In this House there is a tradition that those who speak on any subject speak with considerable authority. I want to disavow at once any question of my being an authority on the question of technology; I am not. My only claim to speak in this debate is that I have read all the Reports that have been issued in the last few years and I have given some thought to the problem. I challenge the noble Lord's statement that this country lags behind almost every other country in the provision of technologists. I do not challenge it in the sense of disagreeing with it; I merely challenge it in the sense of putting the noble Lord to proof.
I have heard these statements made, over and over again. In every one of the Reports that have been presented on this subject the statement has been made that we are desperately short of technologists, that we are behind Switzerland and America, and that we are behind the whole world. I have tried to see what is the evidence for this statement. Frankly, I have not been able to find any. I know that all industrialists appear to be unanimous in making that statement. Again, I say, it may be true; but, if that be so, surely it ought to be possible to make some kind of quantitative analysis of the shortage of technologists in this country. I maintain that that has not been done. Before we can assess what is the shortage, ought there not to be an assessment of the number that we need 196 —I do not say down to the last decimal point, of course, but before embarking on a vast programme of expansion of technology ought we not to have some idea as to what sort of numbers we are aiming at? I fail to find any clue to what the objective in that field should be.
Then qualitatively, what is a technologist? In a broad sort of way one can say (I think it has been stated in some of the Reports that have been presented) that a technologist is a person who goes in for science with a view to applying it to industry and who attains the lowest degree of the first rank—something of that sort. But degrees differ in quality. The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, is, I am glad to say, to take part in the debate. I know he will agree with this: that a degree of one university is a very different thing from a degree of another; the standards are vastly different. A pass degree of one university is very different from a pass degree of another; an honours degree is vastly different again. I do not want to be offensive to any particular university, but a pass degree, say, of London University cannot possibly be compared with an honours degree of one of the older universities. The standard is possibly one of first year, and a student attains a pass degree at London University on the equivalent of one year's study at one of the older universities. On the other hand, an honours degree at London University is probably as high as an honours degree anywhere else. I could go on comparing one university with another, but I do not propose to do so.
It is, however, not sufficient merely to say that a technologist is a person who is up to the standard of a degree in this country. Therefore a good deal more thought must be given both to the quantity and to the quality of the technologists that we require. Where do we distinguish between a technician and a technologist? At what stage does a technician become a technologist? I am satisfied, from reading the various Reports that have been published, that inadequate consideration has been given to both those factors. It is not as if we are doing nothing at all—a good deal is being done in this country. I should like to draw the attention of noble Lords to what is in fact being done. Again I want to emphasise that I am not arguing for a moment that what is being done is sufficient—I do not know; it may be or it 197 may not be. I think we ought to find out first, before we criticise either this Government or their predecessors for not doing enough.
In his Report the noble Lord has given us some information as to the number of people required, and there is information in the earlier Reports. For instance, we were told in the Barlow recommendation that we should doable the number of university students. I am not sure that it particularised as between technologists and others. I think the recommendations were quite general, and I assume that they meant that the various kinds of students should all rise proportionately. That Committee thought that the increase should take place over a period of ten years. In fact, within three years after the end of the war the number of technologists had risen by more than double, and there were at the universities alone by 1948 something like 11,000 students of technology. Again, in the technical schools and colleges and in other places there were large numbers, aggregating, if one takes people attending full-time courses, part-time courses, evening classes and so on, something like 40,000 students. Between them they add up to quite a considerable number. If we assume that they were all taking a three years' course, it would follow, putting it in rough figures, that we should get an output of technologists of something of the order of 50,000 every three years. Assuming that they have a working life of some thirty years, your Lordships can see that the number is increasing by arithmetical progression very considerably; so that we are producing technologists in fairly substantial numbers.
Is that sufficient? I do not know and, with all respect, I do not think the noble Lord knows. He certainly does not know how many we need. It appears to be putting the cart before the horse to talk of vast increases in numbers before we know what we actually require. In the noble Lord's comparisons with other countries he says it is generally accepted that the proportion of graduates of British honours degree level and above is about equal as between the United States and ourselves. That is certainly not evidence of a shortage of high-powered scientists. But there is a general consensus of opinion that if American higher national certificates are included (I am not sure whether by that the 198 noble Lord is following the definition of what a technologist is: a person with a degree or up to the level of a degree), and having regard to the numbers with an American first degree in technology, the number of technical personnel available per head is something like three times as high in the United States. Are we really comparing like with like? Are we, in fact, comparing technologists at all? I admit that the noble Lord and his Committee have made a valuable attempt to arrive at some justification of the thesis; but are they comparing like with like?
Finally we arrive at the extraordinary conclusion that this consideration has an important bearing on the fact that American productivity is something like two-and-a-half times that of this country. Is there the slightest evidence for suggesting that the higher American productivity is really due solely to the larger number of technologists in the United States? Is that not a somewhat misleading statement to make? I am not sure whether or not American productivity is that much higher; I should consider it a very debatable statement. But even were it true, are there not many other factors, apart from comparative numbers of technologists, to account for it? The noble Lord surely is not being very scientific in his approach when he attributes that difference—whether or not it is true—to our shortage of technologists.
Another fact brought out by some of these reports is that the number of students in universities is declining and has declined since 1948. One would have expected that, if this immense demand for technicians existed, provision for them would by some means have been increased both in the universities and elsewhere. Yet it has not been found possible even to fill existing provisions in the universities. I do not know the position in regard to technical colleges and so on—it is not stated—but one would have expected that the universities, at any rate, would have been filled had there been this immense unsatisfied demand for technologists. I would ask the House to suspend judgment on this question until it has had an opportunity of a full investigation into our requirements and into the existing and prospective facilities for meeting those requirements.
It is not sufficient merely to provide facilities; one has to persuade people to 199 take advantage of them. It is somewhat significant that we have not been able to fill existing places at the universities and that numbers there are declining. I have been considering, as other noble Lords will have done, what is the reason for this decline. I cannot help thinking that one of the reasons may be that the technologist is not held in high esteem. Technology has not the status of other professions. One method of marking esteem is by remuneration, and technologists and technicians are not paid as highly as are people engaged in other professions, or even administrators within the same organisation. Even in Government Departments high-powered technicians never reach the rank of the administrators, though I have never been able to understand why the Permanent Secretary of a Department should not be a technician. Why should he always come from the ranks of the administrators? In many Government Departments it would be an advantage to have at the top a man who is a technician as well as an administrator. The Department has to be efficiently administered, but I see no inherent reason why a technologist should not be a good administrator. Yet somehow the rewards of the technician are not as high and the esteem is not as great as that accorded to administrators or to those in other professions. That may well be one of the factors causing a decline in the number of students entering branches of technology in the universities and at technical colleges.
People who take up technology in the university may have taken it up via pure science. They may go to a university, get a science scholarship and then take up some form of technology; but in the technical colleges they make their decision as a rule at the age of eleven. It then has to be decided for them (they are certainly incapable of deciding for themselves) whether they are to enter a grammar school or a modern or technical school; and it is very rare for a person who enters a grammar school to go in for technology. Again, I attribute that fact largely to this question of esteem. If it were regarded as equally important and equally attractive to become a technologist as to become a research scientist or an administrator, no doubt more people would enter technology through the grammar or modern schools; but it 200 seems to be assumed that a person who goes to a grammar school will generally, but not always, take up arts; that one who goes to a modern school will take up languages or something similar and that only those who go to technical schools will eventually become technologists.
The noble Lord referred to the question of teaching. Without teachers it is, of course, quite impossible to begin to build up increased facilities for technology. The question then is, where do we start? Do we start training teachers, or provide the facilities and then wait to train teachers? These are problems to which I do not profess to have a ready answer, but I submit that they are problems which ought to be fully investigated. The Government, it is true, have made a gesture, and I think it was something the previous Government would have done. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, that there is no Party issue which divides us on this matter; we are all out for the same thing—an adequate number of technologists. The Government have done something at the Imperial College of Science and Technology: they are increasing, the numbers there, perhaps not by very many, but by 1,600 or 1,700 students. They have shown interest in the question. Nevertheless, neither this nor any other Government, it seems to me, have taken the trouble to go into the question thoroughly and to investigate what are our needs and the right way to satisfy those needs.
The Party for which I am speaking to-day have given some consideration to the question, and in the document Challenge to Britain they have said this:The rapid expansion of technological education must have a high priority. We propose at once to set up a college of technology of comparable status with the existing universities.Then they go on to say:What is needed is an investigation into the whole question.And there, I agree with them. But, in my judgment, they have fallen into the same error as all Governments, of assuming requirements before establishing what they are. I am afraid that this is not a very helpful contribution. I do not propose to comment at all on the various disputes which have arisen between 201 various educationalists as to whether provision could best be made in one form or another. I think educational institutions of all forms have a part to play in this matter, and I think they can all be used.
I do not think that we should occupy a great deal of our energies in quarrelling as to what should be the particular form of award. The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, I feel was quite right in saying that there should be an established form of recognition of a person who has completed a technological course; that that should be common currency throughout the country, and that it ought not to be left to each individual institution to decide for itself what is the standard, as is done at the present time in the ease of the universities. I think it would be a great mistake if we followed that precedent and did not follow the precedent which has been recommended by the Committee which was the predecessor of the noble Lord's Committee, on the future development of higher technological education, to provide a definite standard which students of technology should be required to attain.
I do not know whether it is desirable or not to set up a Royal College such as has been recommended by the Committee. These are matters which I think could be settled without much difficulty if we made up our minds as to what our requirements were and as to the best means of achieving them. Assuming that those requirements are established, I would agree with a speech that was made in February, 1951, in a debate in this House. It states (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 170, col. 174):All I beg is that something should happen, Many people—I should think the majority—want some sort of technological university Whether we found a new one or expand and transform Imperial college into one, or whether by some metamorphosis we change a provincial university into one, or, finally, whether we translate (in the Shakespearean sense) a technical college into one, all I can say is, let us do something and do it soon Otherwise the exhortations to produce more will not carry great conviction.The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, will recognise that statement. It was made by him in the days when he was a member of the Opposition, and he was exhorting the previous Government, not this one. If he was in that speech assuming what I think still has to be proved—that is, 202 what are our requirements—to what extent are we going in satisfying those requirements? And what more do we need to-day? It seems to me that until we have made up our minds on that subject it is premature to decide on the exact method of solution.
My Lords, that is all I wish to say. I have tried several times in my speech to make it clear that I am in no sense opposed to the recommendations of the noble Lord in his excellent Report. All I am saying is that I think before we proceed to adopt those recommendations we should take steps to find out what are our requirements, or our prospective requirements, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
My Lords, I confess that I find myself in some slight difficulty in rising to address your Lordships today, because I was under the impression that we were going to be told not only about the importance of increasing the capacity for technological education in this country but also in some detail where that capacity was required and what alternative accommodation would need to be taken over for its provision. Frankly, I came here this afternoon expecting to have to put up a passionate defence for the continuance of an institution which was threatened, as I understood, by the noble Lord and his friends with extinction. I speak, of course, of the Imperial Institute. I was under the impression that the protagonists of greater technological education required a centre in London, preferably the Imperial College of Science and Technology, which was to take over the bulk, if not the whole, of the existing site of the Imperial Institute. Now, somewhat to my difficulty, I find no mention of that suggestion—indeed, in part of his speech the noble Lord who has just spoken expressed considerable doubt whether there is any need to increase technological education at all. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will forgive me if my thesis appears a little bereft of some of its foundations.
From what little I know, or have read, there is a good case for an increased supply of technological education in this country to compete, not necessarily with the United States but certainly with Germany and Switzerland; and I feel that we 203 ought to consider whether we can do anything to assist to that end by removing any of the difficulties that at present exist. If the theory is that this new centre or body ought to be sited in London (though I gather there is a certain amount of dubiety about that), apparently there are strong arguments in favour of its being established in South Kensington; and I am bound to say that there are fairly strong arguments for taking over and rebuilding on the site of the Imperial Institute. That raises in acute form the question of what is to happen to the Imperial Institute. I hope your Lordships will forgive me if, for a moment, I try to persuade you that the Imperial Institute has served a useful purpose, is serving a useful purpose and can serve a still more useful purpose in the future. In other words, as Chairman of the Governors of the Institute I should be perfectly prepared to see the site taken over if, or rather when, an alternative building has been provided for my Imperial Institute. I gather that I am in a fairly strong technical position, because the site of the Institute cannot be "pinched" for any other purpose without a specific Act of Parliament. If I were one of Her Majesty's Ministers, I should not greatly relish the task of introducing into your Lordships' House legislation designed to abolish the Imperial Institute without any compensation. However, as I see it, there are alternatives. There happens to be a vacant site available on the South Bank.
I should like to say a word to your Lordships about why I think the Imperial Institute has served a useful purpose and, in fact, in the present-day development of our Commonwealth, is more essential than ever. I start off by saying that I do not like the present Imperial Institute. I do not like its architecture and its internal accommodation, which is extremely inconvenient and inadequate; moreover, its site is far too remote to serve its real needs. The purposes of the Institute as it has existed, and certainly as I see them to-day, are threefold. Its main object is to teach the people of the United Kingdom, and more especially the younger generation, to understand and believe in the Commonwealth; and, above all, to realise their responsibilities. Some of your Lordships may imagine that that goes without saying, but if your Lordships can take the time to read a 204 small document which has just been issued by Political and Economic Planning—usually known as P.E.P.—I think you will realise that the education of the people of this country regarding the Commonwealth has been sadly neglected in the past. Up to 1952–it is almost unbelievable, but it is a fact—the Commonwealth as a subject has not been taught in any schools in this country. Parts of Commonwealth history are taught as part of ordinary history, and parts of Commonwealth geography are taught as part of ordinary geography; but the Commonwealth has never appeared as a subject in the syllabus of any school, elementary or secondary, or of any university. Believe it or not, the total amount of money actually spent during the years up to 1952 in teaching about the Commonwealth, so far as such teaching existed at all, was the magnificent sum of £16,000 a year. As your Lordships may know, the Institute was reorganised as the result of the Report of the Tweedsmuir Committee. After a good deal of pressure, the Government increased its allowance from £16,000 to £24,000 a year, and, inspired by that lead, the Commonwealth and Colonial Governments increased their contributions appreciably.
This P.E.P. document to which I have referred describes the reactions of Colonial students in this country to questionnaires sent to them over the last year or two. I will not detain your Lordships by reading a great many extracts, but there are one or two apposite to this question. Let me quote them:Students also strongly resented being laughed at, or being chased, as they sometimes were, by shouting children. This especially, for, as a Nigerian student pointed out, 'It is tragic that the younger generation should grow up so ill-educated about us.'Colonial students often remarked on the ignorance and the apathy they met when the colonies were under discussion. They were asked questions, too, which … showed also that people did not care about the colonies, although as members of the electorate they voted on colonial affairs, and although the colonial peoples themselves were brought up to learn about Britain and British history.A Nigerian woman teacher who was training made several points: 'I find many of the questions that people ask are intensely irritating. I have been asked if I knew how to use a knife and fork before I arrived in England. … I think the attitude of the public is not surprising when you see what they are taught in school.'205A West Indian woman medical student also blamed the educational system: 'I think the educational system is at fault here. English people should really try to make an effort to learn and stop asking stupid questions, which often leave me aghast and wondering if the person really has thought about what he or she has asked.'A West Indian teacher: 'Insipid questions are often being asked, about me and about my country: whether I know when my skin needs washing or when I need a bath, and so on.'A Sierra Leone student commented: The one thing that strikes me is the ignorance of people of what goes on outside, especially in Africa and the West Indies, or say in Asia. …'It is staggering that in 1953 and 1954 questions of that kind should currently be asked; and it is worth remembering that there are 10,000 Colonial students in London all the time.
With the pitifully inadequate increased sums now given, the Imperial Institute is setting out to try to remove some of that ignorance. In the course of the last few months we have succeeded in increasing by about 25 per cent., though even that is a miserable amount, the extent of our lectures and conferences. We are teaching just over one million young people about the Commonwealth, and we are extending substantially the system of conferences for sixth form pupils, and these are meeting with great success. One of the main difficulties is that the Imperial Institute is sited in London, and it is therefore difficult for children other than those in London to come to our meetings. As I see it, what is required is that branches of the Imperial Institute should be established in all the chief provincial cities of England, or at all events, measures adopted, when we have the necessary money, for travelling conferences to go round all the chief provincial cities in turn, so that, if we cannot take the children to the Commonwealth, at least we shall take the Commonwealth to the children. But all that needs money, and £24,000, even supplemented by what the Dominions and Colonies give us, is obviously hopelessly inadequate.
I have had some preliminary sketches prepared far this site on the South Bank, and I am reasonably certain that we could provide a building well worthy of the site near the Festival Hall which would provide us not only with the galleries and accommodation we have already but, more important still, with a really worthy 206 centre for Commonwealth studies in London. It is quite clear that, despite what all Parties say about their detestation of the colour bar, in fact the colour bar exists in London to a great extent, largerly because of this lack of education among our own people. But we are also up against the problem of the prejudices of many of these Colonial students themselves. More evidence will be found in this Report about some of the difficulties which they meet when in ordinary social intercourse with the various inhabitants of London, although it is pointed out that the people in the provinces are much easier to get on with than those in London. We have just started a sort of club in the inadequate premises that we have at the moment, in which we are trying to get a reasonable proportion of these various students interested in music, drama and so on, so that they may take part in these activities not as West Indians, Africans, Nigerians or Englishmen, but as musicians, authors, dramatists, and so on. It looks as though by that means that we may help to break down the colour bar.
May I give one small example? At a recent Sunday afternoon meeting, the dramatic group of this club put on a play by Tagore called "Chitra." The heroine, Princess Chitra, was played by a girl from Trinidad, two Hindu gods were played respectively by an East Indian from British Guiana and a Moslem from Pakistan, while the hero was played by a man of African descent from British Guiana. The remaining part was played by an English girl. I feel that if we could provide accommodation for that sort of thing not only in London but in branches all over the country, we could make a real contribution towards destroying the colour bar or, at all events, towards enabling these various people to meet in easier social conditions than they do to-day.
That is briefly the case, as I see it, for removing the Imperial Institute and handing the site over to the Imperial College of Science and Technology against the provision of a new and adequate building. The total amount involved is comparatively small. The site of the Imperial Institute is worth, I am told, about £1 million sterling; and I am advised that we could put up a most satisfactory building on the South Bank for something of that order; so there would be 207 little extra money involved. I am certain that, with the development of the Commonwealth that is taking place, it is going to become more and more important for the people of this country to realise how the different parts are developing. I would submit that the problem of racial minorities throughout the whole of the Commonwealth requires a much better educated public here if we are going to appreciate the possibility of its fullest development.
In another place they talk about huge sums for developing the Colonies and the Dominions; but that would be largely wasted unless by increased education we make the people in the Commonwealth and of this country aware of how interdependent we are. That is not being done at the moment, and I feel it is vital for the future survival of the Commonwealth that we should set our hand to this task without further delay. I venture to hope that, when the noble Marquess the Leader of the House comes to reply, he will be able to hold out an indication that Her Majesty's Government realise the importance and the size of the opportunity that is being presented by the demand of the technologists for greater facilities of education.
§ 3.57 p.m.
My Lords, we have had numerous debates on this important subject, and I think I am right in saying that when the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, was President of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee we had an interesting discussion on this same matter. The point really at issue is how we are to produce efficient, trained technical men to meet the immense demands which are being made upon us. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, seemed to be doubtful of the position, but I can assure him from my own personal experience that the demand for higher grade technologists and scientists is immense. British industry is making great claims. In addition, the various Government Departments, with their great technical development programmes to-day, are making large calls on scientists and technologists. Then again, there are the Dominions and Colonies, all of which are making demands for geologists, entomologists and technologists of all kinds to meet their requirements. 208 So far as I can see from my experience, there is no question about the demand reaching saturation point for many years to come.
We are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for having introduced this Motion, and I should like to pay tribute to him as Chairman of the sub-committee of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee which was set up to consider this matter. It is obviously a complicated and difficult problem on which many people with great knowledge hold different views. The whole technical education system rests on three columns: the universities, the central technical colleges and the local technical colleges. These three institutions are responsible for training our scientists, our technologists and our technicians. Those last two words are horrible words and must cause great difficulty in discussion, because frequently one finds people talking about the same thing in different terms. By "technologists" I mean a man whose education is on a broad basis and who is able to apply scientific principles to the various problems he meets in the course of his professional career. A technician is a man whose training is more specialised, and he must be able to apply technological practice to day-to-day problems which occur in his industry. That is a brief definition, but if your Lordships want a more careful explanation of the field which is covered by these two important classes of technical experts, you will find it in a statement recently issued by the principal engineering institutions and the Royal Society of Chemistry, who have carefully defined the spheres occupied by these two classes.
The report of the Committee draws attention to the interesting fact of the numbers of technologists and technicians who are employed in the United States. It has always been rather a moot point as to whether they are employing many more than we are, and I think it is quite clear that if the first degree men in the U.S.A. are cut out and included with the technicians, the position of the technologists per head of the population is not so bad. But when one comes to the technicians the position is entirely different. Those who are included as technicians are what they call "first degree men", and there is no doubt whatever that the predominant position that the United States has in production is largely 209 due to the high-grade men they have on the floor of their shops. These men, brought up with a scientific bias, are able to see in what direction improvements can quickly be made, and it is largely due to them that we see this enviable improvement in productive capacity compared with what we have in this country.
In dealing with this question of numbers, I cannot agree for one moment with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. The position is that the situation is not saturated at all, and this country can absorb many more of these men. There is one difficulty which I see, and that is in the number of boys who are coming forward end who want to carry out technical studies. It is strange to me that, in a period when we seem to be getting more and more technically inclined, a great many of what might be called the sixth form type of boy do not want to go into technology. It may be due to the fact that a boy of that calibre does not make up his mind about his profession until relatively late in his school career. He then finds that there are other boys whose mental capacity is not quite as good as his who have specialised earlier and are therefore able to cut him out when it comes to an examination. That points to the fact that it might be well worth while for versities and technical colleges to consider whether they should not have a previous year of instruction, to catch the boys of that class whom we are losing at the present moment, and who, I am certain, will form the best material for the technical work of the future.
There is another point I should like to take up. I profoundly disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, when he said that we in this country lag behind other countries. The excellence of our teachers and the quality of the products of our technical education establishments are unrivalled. When we come to the other aspect of the problem, the material side—the unsatisfactory buildings, the cramped laboratory space and so on—there I think we can be justly criticised. As regards the main issue, however, the type of teaching and the type of our product, we are absolutely second to none; and long may that remain so!
Various suggestions have been put up as to how the position of technical education can be improved. One of the suggestions which has had support from 210 different quarters—and I was interested to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was supporting it officially for the Party opposite—is that we should establish a technological or technical university. I have recently had the pleasure of visiting one of the great technical universities on the Continent, and I envied them the new buildings which were springing up on every side. How I wish we could have those buildings transplanted to this country! I was interested in discussing the matter with some of the senior staff. They admitted that, in their opinion, it was a great mistake to have a university of that calibre with only two disciplines, science and technology. They felt that the study of humanities should be included in their curriculum.
Turning to the other side of the Atlantic, I think it is interesting to see what is happening now at that famous institution, "Cal. Tec."—the Californian Institute of Technology. As we know, that is one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. There they have decided that students must spend one-fifth of their time in studying the humanities. Again, in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—another world-famous body—they have also decided, following the lead of "Cal. Tec.," that their students must spend one-sixth of their four years' study of technical subject; in taking humanities or social subjects. In other words, the tendency of these great technical institutions is to adopt what we in this country should call a university outlook. From my experience on the Continent recently, and the examples I have quoted from the U.S.A., I feel that it is a retrograde step to go forward with the idea of establishing a technical university. I am myself connected with the Imperial College which has been mentioned in the debate this afternoon, and we are proud to belong to the London University. It would be a great mistake if the relationship between the University and ourselves were cut off and we were made independent, because there are great advantages in being tied up with a great body of this kind which is so well able to teach the humanities when one requires courses of this nature.
Another point which is stressed in the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, and to which we gave 211 great attention, is that of the upgrading of technical colleges. There has been a big demand in the educational world that a number of these colleges should be given university status. We went very carefully into this matter, and we came to the conclusion that, except in a relatively few cases—four or five, or half a dozen—this was not a proposal which would be an advantage to the education system of the country. I should like to quote what is happening at Manchester at the present moment. I am sorry to see that the noble Viscount, Lord Woolton, is not in his place for he is, as we know, the Chancellor of Manchester University. Manchester has a great technical college and a great university. The plan that is being adopted at the moment is that the Technical College should have its own governing body; that its Governors should no longer be appointed by the City Council; that it should be an independent body, able to deal with the funds placed at its disposal by the University Grants Committee and by the City Council in the best way it thinks fit for the education of its students. In other words, it will have financial independence. A very satisfactory arrangement has, however, been made between the College and the University whereby suitable courses at the College are given what might be called university status, and students taking those courses are able to proceed to a university degree. In addition, I understand that the College can award its own diploma if it thinks fit.
We see there a close association between two great bodies, bodies which have a considerable historical association and which are working harmoniously together, enjoying the same privileges and the getting of degrees. That seems to me an admirable procedure which might be adopted elsewhere. There are, we know, a number of other colleges which might be considered for such an arrangement, but I would ask the Government not to be too precipitate in forcing such a scheme upon other colleges. I am certain that it will come by slow, steady growth, and by good will on all sides. As we know, however, in different districts different ideas have grown up; what I might almost call prejudices and so on have arisen, and the fact that students are working in institutions of this kind has given rise to a certain 212 amount of friction. I hope, therefore, that this matter will be approached slowly. I trust that people of good will on all sides will overcome these difficulties and will try to establish what appears to me to be an excellent scheme, that which is to be adopted by Manchester in the immediate future.
To my mind, there remains one great difficulty, and that is the local technical colleges. Here, we have a number of colleges not in receipt of University Grants Committee funds but supported by the Ministry of Education. They are dotted about different parts of the country. Many of them are closely associated with the particular industries which happen to be in the town in which they are situated. They give excellent education in those fields to which they are particularly suited. To my mind, they play an enormously important part in the educational system of the country, because it is to those colleges that we must look largely for the training of our technicians. There are certain colleges in which difficulties arise. There may be a college, for example, situated in a district where there are two or three large electrical firms. Those firms, with their highly trained, specialised staff, are able, and very often are encouraged, to give courses and lectures at these colleges. As a result, certain courses at some of these colleges are extremely good: they reach university standard. But because the college is a local technical college it is not accepted for university grading. I am not asking that such a college itself should be so accepted, because it might well be that, while it has a very good electrical engineering course, it has a poor chemistry course, for the reason that there may be no chemical industry in the area with which it is associated. I would ask, however, that colleges of this kind might be able to approach the central college to ask whether the particular course could not be affiliated with the courses of the central college, so that the students taking a course at the local college would be able to proceed to a university degree. An arrangement like this would, I am certain, get over many heart-burnings which are felt at the present time, and would do justice to those students in these particular colleges who are often of a very high standard—just as high a standard, in fact, as one gets at a university.
213 The question of degrees or awards has been mentioned in the Report. I have carefully considered this problem again. I do not think that we want any more awards. We already have the awards given by the universities. We have the national certificate; we have the higher national certificate, and we have the national diploma, which is particularly looked after by the technical institutions. In addition, we have the associate membership of the great technical institutions which is, in itself, an award of a very high character. Apart from that, there is also the City of Guilds Institute, which gives awards covering a very wide field in all sorts of technologies. So it seems to me that it would be redundant for us to have the additional award which some people seem to think we should have. It would be complicated. When we talk about national awards of that kind, we are apt to forget the immense amount of complication and difficulty involved, and the high-grade people's time that is taken up behind the scenes, in setting and marking the examination papers. That is a terrific business. I hope that we shall not occupy the time of our leading technical professors, scientists and what-not any more than we do to-day in marking examination papers.
I had not intended to say anything about the Imperial College because I am associated with that body, but after the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, I feel that I should like to ask the Government one or two questions. The College was told two years ago that it was to have the South Kensington site. From time to time we have been given Starting dates for different areas of that site. It is most important for the College to have a definite starting date for the site now occupied by the Imperial Institute, because, until it knows the starting date, and what the exact size of the site is to be, it is impossible for the College to prepare details, which is a very expensive matter. So, after hearing what the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, had to say, that he was only too anxious to remove from the site, I hope that the Government will soon be able to give the College an indication as to when that site will be available. I hope that when the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, moves, he will take with him the board-room of the 214 Imperial Institute: it is the most marvellous example of mid-Victorian furniture that I have ever seen, and it is one of the things that should certainly be preserved.
We are very much indebted for the interest that the Government have in many ways shown in regard to this important matter. We are also much indebted for the recent statement about the increase the salaries of professors and lecturers. By this means I hope that it may be possible to attract more high-grade men to the teaching profession in the universities, and that it will prevent some of our men from being drawn away into industry—something which is, of course, going on all the time. As I say, I, personally, together with my colleagues, welcome the statement made two years ago as regards the Imperial Institute. My Lords, I am quite certain that the whole of this immensely important problem is being appreciatively considered by the Government, and I sincerely hope that, as time goes on (we must be careful not to force it), we shall see a considerable improvement in the technical facilities available in the country as a whole; but let us never forget that we in this country are to-day second to none in the quality of the work that we produce.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT WAVERLEY
My Lords, I fully agree with noble Lords who have already spoken, that we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for initiating this debate, and also, and not less, for the kind of speech, penetrating but not too technical, with which he introduced it. I start from the position that the importance of developing technology in this country to the fullest possible extent is now universally recognised. It is, I believe, a matter of industrial life or death for us.
I listened attentively to the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I am afraid I did not find myself in agreement with him when he urged that we should suspend judgment in this matter pending further investigation. I think that over recent years, with two Reports from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and more than one debate in this House, there has been a full consideration of the basic elements in this problem. It is of course the case that an arithmetical comparison with the 215 United States is apt to be misleading. For example, degrees in the United States do not, I believe, mean exactly the same as they do here. I have always been given to understand that in America students who have proceeded to a degree after a course in pure science frequently, if not usually, emerge not with any science degree at all but with an arts degree; and it follows from that, that those who come out with a degree in science have, in great measure, been devoting themselves to technology. The fact remains, however—it can admit of no real question—that in the matter of producing well-trained technologists we are far behind not only America but a number of European countries.
May I here just guard myself by saying how fully I agree—I have said this publicly more than once—with the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, in what he said about the quality of our teaching, particularly in pure science. In that respect I firmly believe that we are second to none. I said so most emphatically not very long ago, at a meeting of what I think is called the Research Council, or something of the sort, in Manchester, where there is a valuable coming together of the University, the Chamber of Commerce and the local authority.
I also find myself in complete agreement here with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, about the importance of what he called "esteem"—what I would prefer to call "prestige." I do not believe we shall ever get things right in this matter until technology is recognised to be academically in no respect inferior to pure science or arts. In that connection, I fully agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, in another matter on which he dwelt—namely, the importance of combining with a technological training a wide instruction on the side of the humanities. I have had opportunities of discussing this matter with the late Dr. Karl Compton, whose untimely death we must all deplore, and also with Dr. Dubridge who is responsible for what is called "Cal. Tec." I hope that in our development, to which we look forward, of technological universities, we shall pay proper attention to that aspect.
I think the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, emphasised that we want really well-educated technologists. It is, as I said 216 in the previous debate, quite pathetic sometimes to see the handicaps that are in the way of men who are reasonably well instructed and well qualified in their own speciality, but who, for one reason or another, find the greatest difficulty in expressing themselves and in holding their own in discussions at a high level with other people. If we are, as I think is the case, satisfied as to the importance of technological instruction at a university level, at the highest level, I think that that conviction ought to be reflected in the structure of our educational system. I do not think it is so at present. I would not necessarily seek to advocate vast developments in a hurry. What I regard as of the utmost importance is that as we develop we should make certain that we are developing on right lines—on lines that promise well for the future. The Government have made a first and a welcome step in deciding on the development of the Imperial College of Science and Technology in the manner that has been advocated in this and in the previous debate. Now I think the time has come—I hope and believe that that is recognised by the Government—to go further.
As has already been suggested in this debate, I think it is the case that the developments foreshadowed are viewed with some concern in university quarters. I see no reason why such developments as my noble friends and I have in view should be construed as implying any reflection upon, or any impairment of the position of, the older university institutions. I see no reason why there should not be, as suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, the closest associations between such new technological universities as may be established and the older universities. Similarly, I see no reason why, for example, the engineering faculty of an old university should not be free to develop to the fullest extent. There should be no obstacle placed in the way of such development. I think that our arrangements ought certainly to be sufficiently flexible to admit of the closest association between the old and the new.
I want to suggest that among the things that are necessary is a change at the very centre. If I may say a word about my own background, I am in the rather exceptional position of having been able 217 to look at the functioning of the University Grants Committee from two viewpoints, that of a Chancellor of the Exchequer and that of a Lord President of the Council. When I became Chancellor of the Exchequer, the University Grants Committee was still functioning in the old way as an outpost of the Treasury—as a body primarily concerned with passing judgment on applications for Government assistance, exercising a kind of judicial function in ensuring the most equitable distribution of such funds as the Treasury found it possible to make available, but without having any clear administrative function. I was able to make certain changes in the constitution of the University Grants Committee, changes which, in my judgment, were rendered necessary by a decision reached at that time to make grants available towards capital as, well as current expenditure. Although I may be a little out of date, I believe that the University Grants Committee as now constituted fulfils a very important function in reconciling the continued academic independence of the universities with a liberal system of Government grants.
I would, however, advocate the setting up of what the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, has described as a "parallel body" another reason altogether. Here I come to the second phase of my own education in these matters. I found, when I first became responsible for the scientific interests of the Government that there was no adequate technical advice available to the Lord President of the Council. He had no ordinary department upon which he could rely. I am quite prepared to believe—in fact I have very little dotubt—that the facilities at the disposal of the Lord President have been greatly improved since my time; but I feel that a body dealing with higher technical education set up in parallel with the University Grants Committee could serve an extremely useful purpose in advising and guiding the Lord President of the Council in these matters. That would be a function of a kind wholly outside the scope of the University Grants Committee as it at present exists.
I am making no reflection on the Technological Advisory Committee, which I believe is already in existence and working in association with the University 218 Grants Committee, in urging strongly upon your Lordships that the step suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, would be most valuable, not only in fulfilling the original functions of the University Grants Committee in relation to technological education but also as an addition to the resources available to the Lord President of the Council. I believe that such a change would go a very long way and would do more than anything else to put technology properly on the map.
There is, in the course being advocated, no danger or threat to existing technical colleges. There is no reason at all why those not to be upgraded and given university status should not continue as part of our educational system. There is no reason why they should not be used, as universities or institutions of university standard, with academic independence, as instruments of Government policy. I see no reason why those colleges should have any apprehension on that score. One final point: there is evidently a difference of opinion as to whether or not the new technological universities should be given degree-granting powers. On that point, I frankly disagree with the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth. I believe that, if we do not give these universities degree-granting powers, and thus put them on a level of equality with the older institutions, we shall inevitably convey the impression that we are not in earnest in this matter. We are not half-hearted, and it is essential that in this very vital matter we should not appear to be in any respect half-hearted.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ LORD CHERWELL
My Lords, I have bored the House so frequently on this topic that noble Lords will not be surprised than I rise to support, very warmly, the views put forward by the noble Lords, Lord Glyn and Lord Waverley. I consider this matter to be of absolutely paramount importance to the future of our country, and unless we can deal with it usefully and take a real step forward, then our hope of maintaining our position in the world is very feeble. I am hopeful that we may get a more favourable response, since the gracious Speech has stated that it is the intention of the Government to "stimulate the 219 expansion of facilities for higher technological education."
I had hoped that the distinction between technical and technological education was now really recognised. It is obviously recognised by Her Majesty's Government because the two types of education are specifically mentioned separately in the Speech and two different Ministers have answered for them on two different days in two different weeks; but I am afraid the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, did not seem to make the distinction I should wish to see drawn between them. The noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, dealt with that point to a certain degree. May I make it clear by a simile I have used before? Technical colleges produce technicians who are, so to speak, the noncommissioned officers of industry. They are being trained in, and are gaining a very good knowledge of, how to operate and perhaps to repair existing machinery. They may even suggest minor improvements.
The training of the higher ranks demands much more elaborate facilities and a much higher degree of teaching. More and more in the modern world, especially, for instance, in the sphere of atomic energy, one is faced with brand new problems of a type never before encountered. It is not a question of taking something that already exists and improving upon it—that can often be done by rule of thumb; and a good deal was done by rule of thumb in the nineteenth century. Deep fundamental knowledge, scientific, mathematical, chemical or whatever it may be, is required besides technological knowledge; and, of course, inventive capacity and originality are needed in order to conceive, design and bring into use some really new mode of production, a new chemical process, a fresh type of machine, novel electronic devices and so on. Technicians are men who have to work with existing machines and on existing factory processes. They are excellently trained in our technical colleges and I am sure we all wish them well. As the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, has said, there is no reason whatsoever why they should feel they are being attacked if we proceed along the lines advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn. Most of the technical colleges are good, and some are very good. One or 220 two—I need only mention the Royal Technical College at Glasgow, about which I shall have a word or two to say later—verge upon institutions of university rank.
But no one who knows anything about the subject will claim that the ordinary technical colleges are fit to produce technologists of the highest grade, such as are absolutely necessary if we are to hold our own in industrial production in this competitive world. It is not a question of having a degree or not having a degree, it is a question of the man having the training and the knowledge; it is a matter of the three or four years' full-time training to get it that is required if a man is to be a really useful member of a technological profession. Lord Silkin threw doubt upon whether the greater productivity of the United States was due to their larger number of technologists. It certainly played a part in it. I am not quite clear to what Lord Silkin did attribute the greater productivity of the United States—perhaps it was to the capitalist system that prevails there; or perhaps to lower taxation. I do not know. But unless we can keep a stop ahead of our rivals in our methods we shall not maintain our place in the export markets; our standard of life will fall, and, indeed, we shall very likely be hard put to it to survive.
I had hoped that that was common ground. I am sure that the Government agree, as most of the noble Lords who have had experience of it agree, that there is a great need for many more technologists of the highest grade in this country. I am sure, therefore, that the Government will not dissent from the general conclusions of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee's Memorandum—in fact, in some ways they are echoed in the gracious Speech. But despite the good intentions of the Government, which have been expressed on several occasions over the last three years, very little seems to be done. The reason appears to be that, though everyone—or nearly everyone—is agreed on the need for more first-class technologists, there does not seem to be equal agreement on the best way to get them. The Government have frankly stated on one or two occasions that it was their intention to build up What we might call technological universities—technological institutions of university rank. But the University Grants 221 Committee seem to think that this is the wrong procedure, and that the right course is to expand the engineering and other technological facilities in existing universities. I am coming here to a point where I must, like Agag, walk very delicately; for not only the finance of Oxford University but the grant to my own Department of Physics there derives from the University Grants Committee. I must, therefore, couch my disagreement with their conclusions in the mildest possible terms consistent with candour. But the House has a right to demand frankness from me, and I am sure the members of the Committee will understand the position and will not penalise me or my university for anything I may say.
The Committee have done invaluable work—I say that at once—as a buffer between the Treasury and the universities in maintaining the independence of the universities, which I think we all value. And I am the first to admit that our universities, thanks largely to the help of the University Grants Committee, are as good as any in the world, and as near perfection as we have any right to expect for the particular purpose for which they are intended. But that does not mean that they are ideal for all purposes. What the country wants to-day is a large increase in the type of man quite different from those produced in the older faculties of Theology, Law, Medicine, History, English, or even Science; and I am convinced that we cannot get them—certainly not in the required numbers—from the existing universities.
Not unnaturally, the members of the Committee are inclined to think that the existing universities, to which they have devoted all their labours, and which are second to none in the world, can provide all that is required. The members of the Committee are themselves mostly former members of the various universities—and even university men are not immune from the tendency to think that "there is nothing like leather." I was, therefore, particularly interested in Lord Waverley's suggestion that technological universities, though financed just like other universities by the Treasury, should obtain their grant through a different body—a sort of technological University Grants Committee. After all, it is not really fair to the University Grants Committee, holding the views that they do, to ask them to develop technological universities, any more than it 222 would be fair to ask the College of Cardinals to increase the number of Baptist preachers. If we are to achieve success, we must have someone whose heart is in the job and who believes that the Government's desire to build up technological universities is right. Apparently that is not the belief of the University Grants Committee; they do not think we ought to have here universities with the emphasis on technology, such as exist in every other country, rather than on the older subjects.
My Lords, I find it hard to believe that all the rest of the world is wrong; that everyone is out of step except Great Britain. I have great respect for the views of the University Grants Committee, and I have therefore been at some pains to discover the reasons for the difference of view, or, at any rate, the arguments by which those who take a contrary line to mine have convinced themselves that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong. The main argument seems to be that they insist that the technologist must have a solid grounding in the humanities, and that he can get this only if his place of studies is integrated in, or at any rate closely affiliated to, an ordinary university. I wish the view that every arts man ought to have a solid grounding in science and technology was pressed with equal vigour—but that is another story. In any event, the right place to get this general back-ground is at school. When a boy reaches the university, though retaining, as I hope, a lively interest in aspects of life and knowledge which are not his particular concern, he should be able to specialise in what is to be his life's work.
I am the last to underrate or decry the importance of the humanities. All the arts subjects are intensely interesting and should be closely studied. Indeed, I often envy men whose life's work it is to investigate these topics, and I wish that all of us had more time to devote to them. But in the modern world most of us must be content with a more or less superficial acquaintance with these aspects of knowledge. It may be—and I do not deny it—that the students of the humanities are more cultured than we are; that a man who has spent his life investigating the details of some historical mystery is a more agreeable companion than one who has to spend most of his time solving differential equations. It 223 may be that a man whose main activities lie in the drawing office or the factory misses something that people enjoy who read in the original The Satires of Juvenal or Ovid's Ars Amandi. But, however interesting this sort of knowledge may be, it does not increase our productive efficiency; and it is that upon which our exports depend, our exports which literally "bring home the bacon." I cannot help feeling that over-emphasis of the arts subjects is something of a luxury.
After all, times have changed. No Member of the House sitting on the other side need have the same misgivings when asked to tea by one of the Government Front Bench as were caused in the old days by an invitation to take pot luck with the Borgias. We live in a different world, in which an arts background, however agreeable and interesting, does not really help us in ordering our daily lives. "Ah," I am told, "labour relations in the modern world are of overriding importance and the humanities teach you how to deal with men."
Well, I wonder. I seem to remember one big strike in the ancient world, led by a certain Mr. Spartacus. But I do not think the way that dispute was settled—by crucifying ten thousand of the strikers along the Appian Way—would commend itself to any Members on this side of your Lordships' House or even noble Lords opposite, in spite of their strict sense of discipline. I doubt whether reading about this sort of thing has really helped officials in the Ministry of Labour to cope with their difficulties.
Of course, no one suggests that arts subjects should be barred from technological universities. Of course not. As the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, said, in "Cal. Tec." and M.I.T. students have to take a certain amount of arts and in many cases they are much more all-round men than those who take university courses and do not have to take any science. But I do claim that confining the teaching of technology to ordinary universities has disadvantages which are by no means compensated by the extra emphasis on arts subjects there.
I am still entirely convinced that if we are to ensure, as the Government wish, "that advance in scientific research should be matched by increased industrial efficiency and production," then we 224 must have in this country full-scale technological universities. I am sure that this also was the view of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee though they maybe thought it more politic to call them Royal Chartered colleges. That is where I differ from the proposal: I do not like this terminology. For it is essential, as the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, stressed, that these new institutions should enjoy parity of esteem (I think this is the correct modern phrase, but the noble Viscount preferred to call it "prestige" and I agree) with the older universities, and this will be impossible to achieve unless they are called universities. It is the ambition in life of a good many fathers to send their boys to a university. To call these essential institutions for which I am pleading anything except universities will deflect many promising boys from them. Unless they enjoy parity of esteem, the technological centres will never attract the best people, either as teachers or students.
Some people still ask: "Why not let them learn technology in the existing universities?" What those who put this question do not seem to realise is the importance of giving a boy—and for this purpose, as for some others, "boy" embraces "girl"—some insight into the outlines of the various branches of technology before he has to make his choice about which of them appeals to him and is the one to which he wishes to devote his life. In order that he should be able to do this, he should be able to Study as many branches of technology as possible in rudimentary form before choosing, and therefore they must all be represented in one university. For if you have, say, engineering taught in one university, textile technology in another, chemical engineering in a third, metallurgy in a fourth, and so on, the boy will have to make up his mind which one he wishes to follow before he knows anything much about any of them, and then find out which university teaches it and arrange to go there. Unless he does this—and it is not at all an easy thing for a schoolboy to do—he will find that, having chosen his university, he will virtually be compelled to take up the particular branch of technology taught there, whether it appeals to him or not.
That, it seems to me, is the short answer to those who claim that building 225 up various branches of technology in individual universities will solve the problem. For clearly we cannot put a large variety of technologists, with the thirty or so departments involved and the fifty or sixty professors, into each and every university. It would cost a million pounds a year or so per university and this would not be justified for fewer than 3,000 students. London could absorb such a body without being thrown entirely out of balance, and this is why the plan to expand the Imperial College is feasible and admirable. But no other university in this country could, would or ought to do so.
If we are to give our young men a proper choice, so that they can select the branch of technology to which they are most adapted, we must concentrate our resources and build up a variety of technologies in relatively few technological universities or centres. When we are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a massive building programme of £25 million in five years has beer sanctioned, I suggest that it is vital to decide wisely Where the building are to go. It is no use frittering the money away all over the place. It must be properly organised and concentrated so that the various different technologies are available to students who may not have, and indeed ought not to have, made up their minds which one to choose before they have had two or three terms at the university.
It is somewhat invidious to pick out institutions which should be expanded in this way. The Government have already decided to build up the Imperial College and of this I am very glad, although it appears to be a distressingly slow process. But I should really like to put in a plea for the Royal Technical College in Glasgow which, I understand, is willing and anxious to make the experiment which has been so successful everywhere abroad—namely, to become an independent technological university with its own charter and degree-giving powers. Why not let it try? (After all the University of North Staffordshire was suddenly conceived, erected and given a charter, all within a few months. It is there that the first Chancellor, or Vice-Chancellor, was a noble Lord who was very well liked by the Government of the day, but I do not think we should let anything like that interfere with the question.)
226 It is surely no answer to say that the Government intend to build up technology at Glasgow and then to insist on the affiliation of the Royal Technical College to the University. Its voice would be smothered by the claims of all the other faculties. I am sure that no good will come of this sort of shot-gun marriage, even if the Royal Technical College is forced into it. I beg the Government to give them a free hand. If this were done, if am sure it would prove possible at no undue expense to develop it into the Royal Technological University of Scotland, if you like, independent in status and able to stand on its own feet. Why not give it a chance? If it is a success, maybe some of the other institutions, possibly even the Imperial College, may wish to follow its example. Or is this perhaps what people are afraid of?
Finally, I should like to reiterate the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Glyn, and Lord Waverley. I feel great disappointment at the apparent lack of any sense of urgency in this matter. It really is shameful how far we are behind other countries. In Russia, 40,000 engineering graduates were turned out in 1952 and 54,000 in 1953–almost twice as many as in the United States. Over and above this, they have 1½ million or more at what we should call technical colleges, as opposed to the 50,000 of which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, boasted here. They have 300,000 pupils at technological institutions at university level—the sort of thing I have been arguing for. As against this, we have only 11,000 technological students in our universities. And Russia is a self-contained country which can live on its own production, and is not, as we are, entirely dependent on a high technological level to survive. If I can get any support from the humane members of my audience, I might say Fas est et ab hoste doceri. For twenty years or more I have been pressing this subject upon the country. I hope that the Government this time will brush aside all forms of obstruction, and will insist upon their expressed intention of building up technological universities in which our people clan be trained so that they will be able to compete on equal terms with kite leaders of industry 227 abroad. It is late, but perhaps not too late. But further delay might well prove fatal.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, like the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, I had thought that this debate in one respect would have taken a somewhat different course, and therefore I shall not trouble your Lordships with a lengthy speech. I thought that it might be found that the proposal would involve the elimination or the removal of the Imperial Institute. To-day we have had an interesting debate upon a different issue—namely, the issue raised by paragraph 46 of the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. This is an issue, though interesting and important, upon which I do not feel in any way fitted to give an opinion one way or the other, although I shall listen with great interest to the views of Her Majesty's Government. I therefore ask your Lordships to excuse me from making a speech. As I say, I was going to deal with the issue of the Imperial Institute, which the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, being an old and experienced campaigner, has not raised to-day. I simply ask the Government, when they are dealing with this important issue, to realise that the work of the Institute is of great importance, and that any interference with it would cause a considerable amount of dislocation in our work in this country to make the Commonwealth countries and the Colonial territories known to the people of our own land. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, would not quarrel with that statement; and he will agree, also, that the work is badly needed in our own country.
As I think I am expected to bat for a short time longer, I should like to suggest to your Lordships that we might give a word of praise, both to the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, and to the committee and staff of the Imperial Institute. Last week I went on a tour of inspection of the Institute, and I was most impressed with what I saw. A good deal more needs to be done, no doubt; and in particular I think it needs to take over the facade of the building and the entrance hall. At the present moment the entrance hall is used for the admission of students for examination by the 228 University of London, and it has a woebegone and desolate look. If the Institute can take over the entrance hall and make it a fine spectacle, it will induce passers-by and others to enter the Institute, and in that way they will gain a large number of attendants. At the present moment the entrance is round at what might be called the tradesmen's side door, and unless they know the Institute is there few people are induced to enter. With those few words, I leave the matter in the hands of the noble Marquess, who has now returned, and I shall be interested to hear what he has to say.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ LORD BAILLIEU
My Lords, I do not wish to throw the "batting order" into confusion, but I rise to make two points. First of all, I should like to join the chorus of praise of those who have thanked the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for raising this issue, which is one of transcendent importance to the people and industry in this country. Secondly, I would venture, in quite general terms, a possible answer to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. If I understood him correctly, whilst in no way expressing disagreement with the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee he was concerned that he had not received the proof which, in his opinion, was necessary to support the view that we required the additional number of technologists.
I would suggest that that proof can be found possibly along two lines. The first is in the weekly advertisements of the trade and technical Press, where there is to be seen clear evidence of the need of technologists of the kind we are looking for. Then with regard to the second line, as the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, will recall, I had the honour, a year ago, of opening the new building of the National College of Rubber Technology. Only a week ago I attended there to confer the first diplomas given since the college was established in 1948. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that the industry with which I have some connection would not have supported so liberally as they have done the establishment of that college, and they would not have taken the continual practical interest in the development of that college, expressed in many ways, unless 229 they had been firmly convinced of the need for a growing number of technologists. I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will find that generally that is the answer in industry.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I feel that the time has come when the House may wish to hear some views on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. This has been, as I expected it would be, a most distinguished debate. It has been distinguished both in respect of the eminence of those who have taken part and the character of their speeches and, also, the great interest of the subject with which they have had to deal. Inevitably the discussions have ranged fairly wide—that could not be avoided. I hope, therefore, that the House will forgive me if I take some considerable time in giving, my answer—indeed, speech looks like being so protracted that I confess that it has rather appalled me. I feel about it rather like the Duke of Wellington must have felt when he said about his troops:I do not know what effect they will have on the enemy but, by God! they frighten me.At the same time, I can only say to noble Lords that if they feel I am outstaying my welcome they have brought it on themselves.
The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, in the speech with which he introduced this Motion, emphasised the great and growing importance to all of us, in whatever walk of life we are, of the subject with which he dealt. I think that no one, certainly in this House, would dispute that. This is not a mere dry academic topic; it is (I think the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, used the words) a matter of life aid death to us. At the same time, the general recognition of that fact is something new in this country. I am ashamed to say that, until comparatively lately, I, like, I imagine, a good many other noble Lords, had no full appreciation of its importance. Indeed, until I came to my present office I never had much personal contact with the world of science and technology. Unless they had a special scientific bent, the generation to which I belonged were brought up predominantly on the older type of education—the education which claims for itself the rather grand title of "humane letters." The other world, the world of scientific knowledge, was more 230 or less a closed book to the great majority of us, and, I think, to the great majority of people in this country.
That is, I feel, an admirable illustration of one of the bad results of the intellectual specialisation of our time—itself, I think the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, might agree, largely due to the extraordinary growth of scientific knowledge which has tended to make it so much a subject on its own. The Renaissance humanists drew no dividing line between natural knowledge and literature and the arts; and, indeed, the early founders of the Royal Society were like that, too. For instance, Wren was an astronomer and mathematician, as well as an architect; and even in the generation before mine—the generation of my own grandfather, Arthur Balfour and Lord Haldane—the really cultivated man was generally well up in the important developments of science as he was in those of art and literature.
But by my day, I am sorry to say, that was no longer true; and therefore, if I may be allowed this personal reference, when I took up the office of Lord President I expected to find myself better equipped for the ordinary work of the Privy Council than for the Lord President's scientific responsibilities. But in all my contacts with the great scientific organisations which have come under me—the medical and agricultural research organisations, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and now the Atomic Energy Authority—I soon found one general and, I thought, extremely fascinating theme running through this particular sphere of my work. That theme is, of course, the importance of ensuring that the educational system of this country is so organised that it produces a supply of scientists and technologists, not only adequate to meet the ever increasing numbers that are needed but also of the highest quality. Therefore, since I have been Lord President—now two years or more—I have had to go into this subject in considerable detail. The more I have seen of it, the more convinced I have been of its immense national importance, for it is becoming increasingly clear that on the quality of our scientists and technologists, and on the technical efficiency of our industry, depend, quite simply, whether we can maintain the exports without which we cannot feed ourselves or maintain our standard of living at all.
231 The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, apparently still has doubts about whether or not there is a shortage of the necessary number of technologists. As the noble Lord, Lord Baillieu, has just told him, he will not find those doubts echoed if he gets in touch with the leaders of industry at the present time. The noble Lord also asked how many would be needed. He thought some inquiry should be made of that. Of course, it is difficult to say exactly how many technologists are needed to cover all the various spheres of our national life, but I think he can be quite certain that anything which we can do today will not produce too many. At the present time, we are not anywhere near the saturation point.
In view of that fact I, as Lord President, have devoted more and more time to the subject of scientific and technological education. On this, I have been fortunate enough to be able to enlist the advice of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, which includes, as your Lordships know, both industrialists and scientists—a body well-balanced for its purpose. That Council has produced—and I say this in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin—a most valuable Report, which certainly does not confirm his views. We have also had the assistance of the Advisory Council's Scientific Manpower Committee. That Committee, as I expect many of your Lordships know, is a lineal descendant of the committee under Sir Alan Barlow which, at the end of the war, set up a target, which has already been achieved by the universities, of doubling the pre-war annual output of scientists and technologists from the universities. Though I and my advisers must take, and do take, a keen and increasing interest in this subject, that does not, of course, mean—and I should like to emphasise this, because there seems to be some misapprehension about it—that I am the Minister who bears the main responsibility in this field. My concern in the matter arises partly from the fact that I, or rather the scientific organisations that come under me, are the consumer of the product—that is, of trained scientists and technologists—and we therefore have an obvious interest in their supply and in the type of training that they should get.
Through the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, since this came into existence, 232 successive Lord Presidents, not only myself but all those who came before me, have had a general concern with the arrangements for securing an adequate flow of scientific manpower to meet the needs both of the Government and of industry. I should like to emphasise as strongly as I can—because, as I say, I believe that there is still some misapprehension in the minds of a good many people of this country—that the financial and statutory responsibility for providing the educational services of the country rest not on the Lord President but, so far as university level is concerned, on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is advised on these matters by the University Grants Committee, and, so far as the schools are concerned, and the technical colleges not aided by the University Grants Committee, on the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland. I should add, of course, that in this particular debate I am speaking for the Government as a whole and not merely as Lord President.
Now I should like to come to the detailed issues raised in the debate. As your Lordships know, the Motion which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, draws attention to the Memorandum on Higher Technological Education published by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee last July. In what follows, I propose as far as possible, in the time which is available, to deal with the main recommendations of that Committee, as well as with some of the other suggestions which have been made by noble Lords this afternoon. Let me say at once that, as Lord President, I naturally regard as of first importance any Reports which come from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, for the Committee speaks, as we all know, with very special authority, since it includes both Members of your Lordships' House and of another place, and also distinguished scientists and directors of research institutes from outside. The great value of a widely composed body of that kind needs no emphasis from me, and it is in, that spirit that I have studied this Report.
That brings me to the first point I should like to make on the Report, which concerns the schools of our country. The position with regard to the schools is clearly of fundamental 233 importance, for if boys and girls of the right quality and quantity are not made available from the schools to study science and technology at university level, we shall not get the scientists and technologists which the country and industry need. The Government, therefore, I would say at once, fully recognise the vital importance of getting an adequate supply of teachers for the schools. Although the position is not yet critical, it is, I frankly admit, very serious; and the problem is unfortunately made more difficult for all kinds of reasons into which I need not go today.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee did not make any detailed comment on this aspect, and therefore I would only slay here that we entirely agree with the Committee's broad view that this is a matter of the most extreme urgency. In what is said about the schools, and about what it calls the "climate relating to science and technology," the Report is extremely interesting. Indeed, I think the Committee go so far as to refer to what they callthe outworn tradition in so many of our grammar and public schools that the proper goal for all bright boys is a classical education, an arts course at the university and avoidance of anything to do with industry and factories.Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, would agree with that opinion of the Committee. Of course, I entirely agree—I imagine we all do—that, so far as a tradition of that kind persists, we have to do our best to modify it. But surely the position is not quite so bad as the Report suggests.
It may well be that there are some public schools where only a minority of the abler boys look forward to careers in science and technology; but there are, equally, many public schools where that is certainly not true. Indeed, I am told in figures that have been given to me that, so far as the grammar schools are concerned—and these account for by far the bigger proportion of the boys who go on to the university—about two-thirds of the boys of the sixth forms of grammar schools as a whole are taking science as their main subject of study. That certainly does not bear out the contention of the Committee. Indeed, the figure of two-thirds that I have quoted is so high that actually there may not be much 234 room for a substantial increase in it. I am also told, by the way, that the Committee have withdrawn as inaccurate their statement thatof the 8,000 State scholars in the country only about 600 are specialising in scientific subjects.Of the 8,000, some 5,000 are studying science, and many of those no doubt will become technologists in one form or another. We must, of course, recognise that the arts will continue to exercise a strong attraction for some of the best minds, particularly in some of the schools; and personally I do not regret that. Surely none of us is going to maintain that the humanities are of no importance in the modern world. At the same time, all possible steps should be taken to attract a good proportion of the best brains to science.
May I allude, in passing, to an interesting point which was mentioned by the Parliamentary and scientific Committee about the possibility of inducing some of those who have studied the arts at school to turn over to science or engineering at the university. That is part of the wide and interesting problem of the degree to which early specialisation in science and other subjects is carried in the schools. Some valuable remarks on this subject appear in the Annual Report of the Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy, published recently. There is no time now to deal with it at length to-day. Indeed, I think the Report of the Council is available to noble Lords and no doubt some of your Lordships have already read it. It is a subject which I am sure both deserves and is getting a good deal of thought and attention by far-sighted educationists. I think there is a good deal in what the Parliamentary Committee say on this particular topic.
Now I should like to turn directly from the schools to the universities. In the context of the universities, I should like to deal in particular with the question of the so-called "higher technology," that is to say, the teaching—in a university or other institution financed by the University Grants Committee—of the applied sciences and various forms of engineering, particularly the latter. On this general question of the universities, I was delighted to see that the Committee felt able to give Governments—that is to say, both tins Government and the late 235 Government—a "pat on the back." They express the definite view that financial provision has been made by all Governments since the war on a "bold and generous scale." I think that is perfectly justified by the figures which are available. The progress which has been achieved is, I think, equally dramatic. The total number of university students has increased by two-thirds, and the universities have already reached, some time ago, as I said earlier, the Barlow Committee's objective of doubling the pre-war number of science and technology students. In view of this remarkable result I think it was a little hard that the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee should talk of anarbitrary dictum of the Barlow Committee that the numbers of arts students at the universities should be doubled as well as the number of science students.Actually, there was no such dictum, nor would it be helpful to try to deal with a matter of this kind on a sort of basis of percentages.
What is important is that there has been a spectacular rise in the numbers of scientific and technological students, and I was glad to hear the tribute that was paid in this matter by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn. I might also mention a point here which perhaps is sometimes missed. Some noble Lords—and possibly the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, himself—tend sometimes to think mainly of universities in terms of the great University of Oxford (of which I was privileged to be a member) where he himself occupies so very distinguished a position. At Oxford I think it is true to say—the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—that only one-quarter of the students are working in science and technology at the present time. But Oxford is, in this particular respect, not really typical. I should like to contrast with it the examples of Birmingham and my own University of Liverpool, where the number of science and technology students approximates to about 70 per cent. of the whole—a very different picture from that which we get from looking at such universities as Oxford.
I propose, in a minute or two to read to the House a statement on this question of higher technology. It is a very important statement which is also being made to-day in another place. The purpose of 236 the statement is to bring up to date and to set out in detail the programme of the Government on higher technological development. But, before I read it, there is just one thing I want to say, as one who has had to give, as I have explained, special attention to this particular aspect of the higher technological education of scientists and technologists during the two years that I have been Lord President. It is this. When I first approached the subject I was immensely attracted—I think the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, knows this perfectly well—by the idea which he has put forward so forcibly this afternoon, of a technological university, a university on the lines of certain institutions which noble Lords know flourish on the Continent. The noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, referred to them in his speech this afternoon.
I go further and say that I personally still feel that the idea has considerable charms, but I am bound to say this, too, to the House. Since I first arrived in my office, I have, of course, made contact with a great many of our foremost scientists, and they, or a great many of them, emphatically do not share the views of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, on this particular topic. Some of them do not like it for the students, and they do not like it for the professors either. A good many of them oppose the idea as strongly as the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, has supported it this afternoon. Therefore, although I still feel the charms of the idea myself, I must confess that I have been gradually driven to the view that, whatever the theoretical merits of the proposal, the technological university is not at present a practical possibility, and that the right policy for developing technology in this country in the foreseeable future is to do what is expounded in the announcement which I am going to make and concentrate on the building up and development of certain existing institutions, both universities and technical colleges, where science and technology already flourish and sometimes predominate. The statement will indicate, as your Lordships will see, that we cannot and should not make so rigid a division between applied science and technology, on the one hand, and the arts and pure sciences on the other.
May I hope that, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, said to your 237 Lordships this afternoon, a possible way at any rate of attaching to technology the prestige and status which I think he and others believe it still lacks—I do not say by any means that they are wrong—is to develop these subjects in connection with some great university institution which already possesses status and prestige. That is an argument which I think could quite clearly be put forward. That at any rate, is the view of many scientists who certainly do not want science and technology to be regarded as poor relations of the arts; and it has been borne out by what has been said with so great authority by the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, this afternoon, in the light of what he himself had heard at technological universities on the Continent.
In this connection, the noble Viscount referred in his speech to Manchester, and he praised Manchester, as anyone will who has been there and seen that great college. But as I understood him, he urged Her Majesty's Government not to be too precipitate in forcing the exact Manchester model on other areas. If I may say so with all deference, I entirely agree with him about that. Possibly each individual case will require a certain measure of individual treatment in the light of past history and local conditions. My impression, however (I say this with all deference to Lord Waverley, who also advocated, as I understand it, a number of technological universities), is that his suggestion of entirely independent technological colleges would, at present, be going too far, and would not be acceptable to a large body of scientific opinion. But, equally, my impression (he will correct me if I am wrong) is that if he could not get that he would not differ very widely from what was said by Lord Falmouth. If that is so I do not think we are so far apart.
My Lords, having said that, I should like to read to the House the statement which, as I have said, has already been made in another place. It is this:To meet foreign competition we must improve our own skill through technological education. In this, my right horourable friend has the valuable and far-sighted advice of the University Grants Committee and their technological Sub-Committee.Our plans provide for the massive expansion of the imperial College at South Kensington. They provide for major developments at Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, 238 Birmingham—as my right honourable friend announced in July. They include developments on a fairly large scale at Cambridge and Sheffield, and specialised developments at other centres in the country including, as my right honourable friend was asked by Welsh Members of Parliament, the Principality. Some of them are financed by industry and some by Treasury grant. The more notable are at Edinburgh. Newcastle, Southampton, Nottingham and Swansea.We are trying to steer an effective middle course between excessive centralisation and an undue dispersal of resources, and we are concentrating our efforts on institutions which are already receiving Treasury grants. In our view, higher technological education must be closely linked with other university studies. We must make sure that those who are studying technology should work closely with these who are occupied with the more fundamental problems of science and with its application in other fields.It is increasingly realised—in America and on the Continent as well as here—that the men who are to hold positions of the highest responsibility in industry need a broader education than could be given in institutions devoted entirely to technology or even to science. The problems of industry are problems of human relations, as well as of science, and in training for industry the humanities have an important part to play. Where there is a technological institution and a university at the same place and in association together—as of course at London, at Glasgow and at Manchester—this linking of studies can be achieved. But if new universities were to be established in other centres by up-grading technical colleges, it would be necessary to provide them also in addition with departments for pure science and arts—a burden in terms of teachers, buildings and money which we could not afford.So we make the best progress by building on what is already there, and by linking the technological development as closely as possible with existing university institutions rather than by starting entirely new technological institutions. We also seek close association between the universities and industry in this field. My right honourable friend has been encouraged to hear recently of the founding of new Chairs in technological subjects with funds raised from industry in the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Wales, and in many other forms industry gives valuable financial support.The universities, for their part, are becoming more quickly responsive to industrial needs; for example, by designing post-graduate courses to meet particular local requirements of industry; and by asking industry to help with instruction.Now for the financial figures. First let me mention recurrent expenditure—teaching staffs, laboratory running costs, and so on. About one-eighth of the total recurrent grants to the universities are used for technology—in a narrow sense of the term; that is, about £3 million a year. We are now making additional recurrent grants for technology of £196,000 for the academic year which has just begun, £404,000 for the next year, and 239 £704,000 for the academic year 1956–57. In the next two years, there will thus be a growth of recurrent expenditure of something like 25 per cent, in special extra grants alone, in addition, of course, to the extra cost of salaries which I announced last month.For building and equipment, the capital expenditure and liabilities against public funds which have already been incurred in recent years—again on a very narrow definition of technology, excluding all pure science—amount to about £10 million, including the work now in progress at Imperial College, at the Royal Technical College at Glasgow and the Manchester College of Technology. This includes a number of projects which my right honourable friend authorised last July.My right honourable friend has just authorised further buildings of £1 million in addition to the normal university building programme to be started in the financial year 1955–56, and he will be prepared to consider for starts in the following year other technological projects included in the University Grants Committee's plans for developments beginning in the quinquennium. On Imperial College, I am circulating a Written Answer"—this is in the statement—in to-day's OFFICIAL REPORT to describe the progress we are making"—I will refer to that matter in a moment.The total capital cost of this project over a period of ten years or more may well be of the order of £15 million. Certainly the universities are getting ahead very fast with the expansion of higher technological education, and the figures show that very substantial resources are being devoted to this work. This is an investment which cannot yield quick results, but its existence is one of the best sources for confidence in our industrial future.Noble Lords will obviously want time to consider the details of that, I hope they will think, important statement; but I hope the House will recognise immediately that it makes it abundantly clear that the Government are thoroughly in earnest about the importance of developing technology. The financial commitments alone should be proof of this. I hope that, having heard that statement, the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, will perhaps modify his statement that nothing has been done at all. Actually at present, at all these institutions which I have mentioned, as much is being done as can be done—that is to say, even if there were a larger supply of money than is being given, they could not get ahead faster than they are at present.
That brings me to the subject of the Imperial College and the Imperial Institute, to which Lord Hudson, Lord Ogmore and others devoted a considerable proportion of their remarks. I 240 can assure them that I personally am very much aware of both the urgency and the complexity of this particular problem. Indeed, as a Trustee of the Imperial Institute, by virtue of my position as Lord President, it has been brought most forcibly to my notice, and I fully share the view expressed by Lord Hudson as to the valuable work which has been done by the Institute. I am quite certain that every one of us who has heard his very forceful speech will certainly ponder what he has said to us this afternoon. I wish that I could give the House a really full statement clearing up all the questions which the noble Lord and others have asked, but, unfortunately, I am not yet in a position to do so.
I can, however, say something contained in the Answer which has been given in another place—I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for reading again. Though it is not very long, the Answer does give a certain amount of important information. It is as follows:The plans of Her Majesty's Government for the expansion of Imperial College were announced on 29th January, 1953. It was then said that they involved giving the College first claim on those parts of the rectangular island site in South Kensington (lying between Prince Consort Road and Imperial Institute Road) which it did not already occupy.Building work is already in progress on the northern part of the site in South Kensington—works of the order of £1.2 million, including equipment. Further progress will soon require the release of some other parts of the site from their existing use. The displacement of these activities and their re-housing elsewhere has presented difficult problems, but with the help of my right honourable friends the Minister of Education and the Minister of Works, we can now see the way clear.My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has authorised new building work to proceed in Bloomsbury to enable existing London University activities (such as the Warburg Institute) to be transferred there in due course from South Kensington.In order to release the accommodation now occupied by the Aeronautical Collection of the Science Museum, approval has been given for the erection of part of the North Section of the Natural History Museum and the completion of the new Centre Block of the Science Museum. These are of course very worthwhile museum developments in their own right.In order to reduce to a minimum the disturbance of the Indian Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, plans have been approved, involving some building, which will enable a substantial part of this collection to be permanently on view in the main building of the Museum.Alternative accommodation will be needed eventually for that part of the Royal College of 241 Art which is housed in the same building as the Aeronautical Collection. But this is not an immediate problem. Nor does any difficulty arise over the Royal College of Music, which will remain in its present premises.There remains the important question of the future of the Imperial Institute. The Government are actively considering this in relation to the Imperial College plan, and hope to reach an early decision.That is all I am able to say at the present moment, but when I say that the matter has been "actively examined" I can assure the noble Lord that that is abundantly true, and if I could find a more active word than "actively" I would use it. I can only assure him of my hope that a statement will not be unduly delayed. If there is anything I can say I will let I him know, to enable him to put down a Question.
That brings me to the parallel question, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, of the position of overseas students. Her Majesty's Government realise that more of our first-rate scientists and technologists need further training beyond the first degree level, and the expansion of university facilities has been planned accordingly. It would be a great mistake to permit these extra facilities to be wholly absorbed by students from abroad, and this must not happen. The responsibility is one which must be shared by industry, as well as by Her Majesty's Government. Industry must be willing to release and assist selected staff to attend these courses, for often the type of man which would benefit most from a post-graduate course is the type most difficult to spare. Only by temporary sacrifices of this nature can industry secure the highly-trained individuals who are at present in such short supply. The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, will see that Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the position. I certainly think the words which the noble Lord has spoken this afternoon will not fall on unfruitful soil.
I come next to the position in Glasgow, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell. There is not much that I can say about Glasgow to-day. I am sure the noble Lord will understand that it is very important that no one of us should say anything to exacerbate the present unhappy difficulties which we all know exist. I will only, therefore, make this comment: Her Majesty's Government hope that Glasgow University and the Royal Technical College will be successful in working out a relationship which, 242 without in any way hampering the development of the College, would enable their work to be co-ordinated. This recommendation has been conveyed to the two institutions, and since discussions have been proceeding to see whether a scheme could be worked out which would be satisfactory to both parties, I and my colleagues hope that these discussions will have a satisfactory outcome which will give the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, full opportunity to develop. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, and others will do what they can to further such an agreed solution. It is regrettable that these difficulties should have arisen, but at any rate the door does not seem to have been slammed by anybody; and that is the main thing.
Finally, in view of the large part of the Committee's Report devoted to the subject, I must say something about technical colleges. In dealing with this aspect I feel that we must remember that, unlike university institutions, which are national in scope, the technical colleges are local or regional in character, and their chief task is to provide this country with opportunities for the training of the part-time student who is earning his living in industry. In other words, they have a major responsibility for the technical education of those who, as the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, says, have come up the hard way, through the ranks of industry, and also of those who enter industry from the universities and require advanced education on a part-time basis. They are thus called upon to provide part-time technical education at all levels. This is not to imply that the technical colleges are limited to part-time work; they are not. Many colleges provide full-time courses, some leading to minor professional and industrial qualifications, and others to external London degrees and equivalent qualifications, and even beyond. But in every college the greater proportion of the work is part-time, and is likely to remain so if the needs of industrial, professional and commercial workers are to be met.
What is now suggested or implied in the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee is that measures be taken to remove some of these colleges from the control of the local education authorities and convert them into national institutions under some parallel University Grants Committee of their own, 243 thus supplementing provision already being made for universities. I gather from what I have heard this afternoon that the argument in justification of this revolutionary proposal is that progress in developing the colleges has been slow, that their development has been hampered by controversy, and that only by removing them from the jurisdiction of the local education authorities can they be expected to develop satisfactorily. These are rather sweeping assertions, and I think they deserve a little examination.
Since the war, there has been a very large development of the work of these institutions. In 1938, the number of Higher National Certificates which were awarded was a little more than a thousand in total. In 1951, this number had grown to 5,000; in 1952 to more than 6,000, and in 1953 to nearly 7,000. That represents almost a seven-fold increase since the war in the number of certificates which enable candidates to aspire to professional status. In addition, the number of short courses of a post-graduate nature has risen from a tiny few in pre-war days to 500 in 1952–53 and to 700 in 1953–54. Even in the matter of buildings the story is not unimpressive. Building work is, in fact, going forward at the rate of nearly £5 million worth of work in a year, and it is not the fault of the local authorities that these figures are not all larger. It is national policy that has made it necessary to limit the programme to the most essential work. Local authorities are at the moment anxious to get ahead with a number of additional projects over and above those already sanctioned, and they will be ready, I am told, to put them in hand as soon as national policy makes it possible to get on faster with work which we all agree to be needed for improving industrial efficiency.
I do not pretend that local education authority administration is perfect—nothing is perfect in this very imperfect world—but the evidence of the past few years indicates that the majority of authorities now realise the needs of technical education and are doing their best to meet them. The local education authorities are, I think, justifiably proud of their colleges, and their interest since the war has proved invaluable in establishing those links with local industry which are essential if part-time technical education is to flourish. It 244 may at least be doubted whether it would be wise to destroy this good will by forcibly removing some of the best colleges from the local authorities which have nurtured and sustained them so far. It is true that there has been a good deal of controversy during the past few years over the question of an award for advanced courses at a degree level, and this question, no doubt, needs to be settled. But it would, I suggest, be a mistake to assume that if a number of technical colleges were developed into colleges devoted entirely to advanced work, there would be a large increase in the demand for full-time courses of a non-university type. In any case, such courses are more likely to be developed regionally in association with local industry than on a national basis.
Moreover, if we are going to build up full-time courses of an advanced character in the technical colleges, what about the policy which I have just been discussing for spending immense sums in providing exactly similar courses in the universities? It may well be right for some boys leaving school at eighteen to go on to technical colleges rather than to universities. But, I suggest, we do not want cut-throat competition between the universities and a new type of technical college for the same type of student and the same type of work. No doubt there is room for advanced work in selected technical colleges, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, said in his speech, but I suggest that it ought to be for work, complementary, indeed, to that provided by the universities, but of rather a different kind: advanced courses, both full-time and part-time, and research work, in close association with industry and in close relation to the other less advanced work of the technical college system. This is realised, I am sure, by all the good colleges, and it is shown, I understand, by the developments which are taking place.
And even in that field, as was suggested by Lord Glyn, much is being done by bodies closely allied to universities, like the College of Technology at Manchester, where most valuable work is being done on textiles. I myself have been to Manchester—and a great many other noble Lords have, too. It would be a great mistake to assume that as at the universities themselves and these technological colleges very valuable detailed work on the local industries is at present being 245 done, it is therefore not necessary to have this grading-up of technical colleges to do that form of work.
This brings me to the question of regional planning. Some thirty colleges have been planned to develop ultimately into advanced regional colleges. It is felt—quite rightly—that the lower-grade work should be segregated as soon as possible from the more advanced work, so as to leave the selected colleges with more freedom to provide advanced technology and research for the needs of industry, and steps have already been taken in this direction. But a great deal remains still to be done, and it is quite unrealistic to suggest, as I think the Report does, that arrangements could easily and quickly be made for local education authorities to deal with the less advanced work in other institutions. Where this is the right course it will be done; but of course it will take time and money, and any attempt to remove the lower-grade work before facilities are available elsewhere would actually reduce existing facilities for the training of technicians and craftsmen.
To sum up, the Government believe that we should look mainly to the university system for educating a boy leaving a grammar school who continues his fulltime education in science and technology up to degree and post-graduate levels, and our policy for university expansion has been framed with that end in view. But, as I have shown—at least I hope I have—the technical colleges are not altogether excluded from this field of higher technology. On the contrary, the Government realise that regional colleges must meet the increasing demands for high-level training, both for those who are actually working in industry and also for others who require special technological courses. For that reason, we are only too anxious to improve facilities as quickly as possible.
It was for this reason that the Minister of Education announced a short time ago that an additional rate of grant would be provided to enable selected colleges to improve their staffing, accommodation and equipment. This grant is limited to those colleges which will ultimately emerge as advanced colleges of the type envisaged by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, and conditions under which the grant is given expressly include provision for governing bodies, 246 research facilities and the elimination as rapidly as possible of lower-grade courses, all of which is in line—I think the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, will agree—with the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee Report. In fact, the only difference between the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and the Government I think is this. The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee suggest the establishment of advanced technical colleges of a new type by what I have, perhaps rashly, called a revolutionary procedure. The Government prefer to develop advanced work in selected colleges by evolutionary methods, making sure that developments fit in with the requirements of industry on a local or regional basis and that they will not impair the equally important development of provision for technicians and craftsmen. It must not be forgotten that for every technologist the nation needs five or six technicians and many first-rate craftsmen, and these are, and must remain, an important responsibility of the local education authorities and the technical colleges of this country.
The Government are aware of the fact that much remains to be done before the position can be regarded as reasonably satisfactory. We know that more courses are required to meet the ever-changing needs of industry, and more buildings in which to house the students and train them suitably, and action will be taken in these matters. I hope that what I have said will have shown beyond any doubt the importance which Her Majesty's Government attach to this subject. If any further proof were needed, it would be found in the statement of Government policy which I have read to you this afternoon. In conclusion, I would make only two comments. First, if we are to succeed, we must ensure, so far as lies in our power, that, whether in schools, technical colleges or universities, a high proportion of our cleverest children and young people should feel drawn to science and its practical application, as the branch of knowledge to which they aspire. And secondly—and equally important—we must attract to the teaching of science in schools enough people with a real vocation. For the children will need to be guided by teachers who are not only masters of the technical mysteries of science, but can also inspire their pupils and are able to 247 put what they teach into the wider framework of our civilisation as a whole. In that way, and in that way alone, I suggest, can science and the arts be welded together to a greater and better humanism than any the world has yet seen.
But if we are to get the best out of both arts and science, somehow or other we have to break down the barrier which at present tends to separate them and also that other barrier which divides "pure" science, on the one hand, from technological and applied science, on the other. As between science and the arts and as between so-called pure science and applied science we cannot afford in these days to have, if I may so put it, Montagues and Capulets. We must try to divert to the applied sciences and technologies some of the prestige and esteem which, if I dare say so, scientists are inclined to focus somewhat exclusively on the "pure" sciences. It may take a long time to achieve this ideal balance. It may take generations, I am afraid, to achieve much success. It may indeed never be possible to strike a balance which will be appropriate in all cases. But it is because we believe that a combination of science and the arts is necessary to produce the best results that Her Majesty's Government are advancing on the lines which I have tried to describe to your Lordships this afternoon. For that policy I ask to-day for your Lordships' strong and united support.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Marquess the Lord President of the Council has set me a difficult task in following him. He has made a most important statement and ranged over a wide field. I am sure that we shall all want to study carefully the statement he has made, but equally I am sure that we shall all give it our warm support and welcome, both for the wide range which it covers and for its promise for the future. If I say that it does not go quite so far as some of us hoped it would, I hope the Government will not think that we are ungrateful for what is being done.
As I see it, the statement is to the effect that a greatly increased amount of money is to be put at the disposal of many universities, because the Government feel that that is the most fruitful 248 source of more and better technologists. There seems to me one difficulty which makes me slightly unhappy about that policy. University engineering technology departments are not full at present; there is quite a bit of "slack," which could absorb more students. I think the reason, possibly, is that university courses are not suitable for every student who wants to go into technology or engineering. Many students would find more suitable courses with a more practical bias such as could well be given in technical colleges, particularly in the more recently developed advanced courses, on which I shall have something to say later on. I think many of your Lordships would agree, therefore, that technical colleges can offer something different, in addition to what the universities can offer in technological training.
I am afraid that, after the Lord President's important statement, anything I say will seem something of an anti-climax, but I hope your Lordships will be patient with me. We are most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for introducing this important subject and for all his work on the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I support him most strongly when he says (I think the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, said the same thing) that it is important for the older universities to accept the increased importance of technology compared to the humanities: sometimes it is rather disturbing to find how difficult it is to get that accepted. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, discussed the connection between technologists and degrees. I should like to make it clear that there is no connection between degrees and technologists. Many technologists—in fact, probably the majority—are members of professional institutions but have not been to a university and have no degrees.
The first part of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee's Report deals mainly with universities. I do not think it is necessary to point out again, because it has been pointed out so often, how urgent is the need for more technologists of a high quality. That urgency becomes greater every day as competition grows in our export markets. Broadly, the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee supports the present schemes for the universities and hopes for the wider use of their facilities. I think that the statement which the noble Marquess 249 has made to-day will go a long way to meet the points made on that subject.
In the post-graduate field, there is no doubt that the courses that have been started at the universities are most valuable. These courses are surely tie quickest way of getting new knowledge into industry. Unhappily, it sometimes seems that the co-operation of industry in sending suitable men to these courses is not so good as it might be. The reasons are not far to find. In the smaller firms suitable men are all too few, and in the larger it is that the firm's own laboratories and research organisations can supply all the knowledge that the universities may be able to give. I think it is a pity to carry that argument too far. The new ideas that grow up in the universities can be "put over" in industry only by people who have complete and full understanding of the fundamental principles involved. That knowledge cannot be gained by casual contact with universities; it can be obtained only by studying in such post-graduate courses as are provided. Nevertheless, the existence of these courses should not obscure the continued very great importance of close contact between universities and industry, so that the up-to-date thinking of the universities can get into industry and the problems of industry can get to the universities. These are matters merely of emphasis.
It is when we come to the contribution of the technical colleges to our problem that we plunge into deeper and more confused waters. It is four years since the National Advisory Council for Education in Commerce and Industry published their Report on the future of higher technical education. They proposed to set up a Royal College of Technology, a somewhat cumbersome organisation, which would approve courses and grant awards. For many reasons, which were discussed in several debates in your Lordships' House, that Report was not well received and no action was taken. Since then, so far as technical colleges are concerned, there has been sadly slow progress. It is true that there have been encouraging statements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by the noble Marquess the Lord President of the Council to-day, on increased grants to the universities; but, as I said at the beginning, I do not think that is the only way we should proceed 250 to improve the supply of technologists. We should, I think, welcome very much this Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, which devotes so much of its space to the importance of the improvement and upgrading of certain technical colleges.
To turn to the Report, in Section 4 it lays great stress on using the present technical colleges as the basis for development. That seems to me to be a wise course. Surely it is better to build on that foundation, which has served us well in the past but which no doubt needs improvement now, rather than import some new and foreign method which is quite out of keeping with the way that things have grown up in this country. It has been a slow progress so far in building up the Imperial College in London, and surety it would be an equally slow, if not slower, process to build up a large number of new foundations. The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, said that we should be out of step if we did not have a great new technological university. But surely we should be out of step if we did that; because the universities we have heard about in America are even now going back—or going forward, so far as they are concerned—to what we have already had for many years; that is to say, a close co-operation between the humanities and technical education. Surely the noble Lord would agree, too, that not only can those studying the humanities teach the technologists something, but the technologists, in turn, can, teach those studying mainly the humanities a great deal.
I would support the proposals in paragraph 31 of the Report, which lay emphasis on the new sandwich courses, where a student spends six months in industry and six months in a technical college, and can thereby combine his theoretical knowledge with a close insight into the practical applications. I suggest that there is no best way to train a technologist. We must have methods of education which are suitable for every type of intellect if we are to make the best use of the limited human material available. A wider recognition of that fact by the universities would result in more students taking ordinary degrees and fewer taking honours degrees for which they are not suitable, with a marked improvement in the final product. Such sandwich courses as I have 251 mentioned can be properly carried out only if the standard of staff and facilities, laboratory and otherwise, are very much improved in the technical colleges. As has already been pointed out, it is not possible to carry on that sort of education in the same establishment as, for example, the part-time evening class instruction that is given to the technician. It puts far too great a load on the staff, and it does not give them time to undertake their own investigations. But it is not every college that can be selected to give these sandwich courses and to shed the lower grade instruction. I am sure it is absolutely essential for the success of such a scheme as is recommended in the Report that the number of colleges selected in the first place should be kept small. I realise that at the moment it is the policy of the Government—at least, that is what I understood from the statement made—not to proceed with the type of reorganisation which is suggested in the Report. Nevertheless, I hope that in time that will be possible, as well as the improvements in the grants to the universities that have just been announced. I am quite convinced that if the scheme that is suggested in the Report is to be a success it is absolutely essential to spread the available resources over a few colleges only, where those resources will do most good, irrespective of all other considerations.
There is another point that has been mentioned; that is, that such Royal colleges should be given independence, and that they should have their own governing bodies. That means clearly that the control of the local education authorities over the colleges which are upgraded would have to cease. I think we all realise that that would not be welcomed, for many of the local education authorities have played an active part in building up these technical colleges and have a great pride in them, as well they may. But surely we should realise that some of the colleges have progressed far enough to be given an opportunity of carrying out new work in a slightly different sphere. I should like to add another word on the importance that I attach to giving the staff of such upgraded colleges time to do their own research. We shall never get really high-class staff to go to those colleges if they 252 have no time to do their own investigation; and the only way that that time can be given is for the colleges to shed a great deal of the lower grade work. It may not always be possible, at least for a long time, for the colleges to have all the facilities in laboratories that will be necessary, but I am sure that local industry will co-operate with those colleges and provide facilities for exchange of staff and for the staff of the technical colleges to work in industry to help them to get research experience.
There is one point that is troubling me a little. If this work is to be shed, as the noble Viscount suggests, on whom would it be shed? I do not know whether he has a ready answer to that.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
I agree with what the noble Marquess the Lord President said: that it would be quite wrong to do away with the lower grade work until there was somewhere else to put it. That is the first thing to be provided. All I am saying is that we cannot expect the technical colleges to do the new higher grade work unless the lower grade part-time work is taken away from them. Certainly it is essential to provide somewhere for the lower grade work to be done, because it is of the greatest importance to industry.
A great deal has been said about awards in the upgraded technical colleges. I do not want to take up too much time, but I feel that this is an important point, although I entirely agree that in an ideal world it should not really matter what letters a man has after his name. It is true that membership of the professional institutions gives a much better guide to technological capacity than any degree, but membership of those institutions involves not only academic achievement but also practical experience and responsibility in industry. Therefore, I do not think that is an argument for not having a suitable award for those improved courses in technical colleges. The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee suggest that the new colleges should award a Bachelor of Technology degree; and that proposal, as has been said, has caused a certain amount of alarm in university circles. I should like to emphasise that that alarm is not due to mere selfishness; it is not a bad example of vested interest. It arises simply from 253 the fear that, if these new institutions are able to give degrees, the value of the degree will become obscured, and so will its meaning.
It may be asked: if the colleges are to be independent and are to have broad education, as is recommended in the Report, then how will they differ from universities? That is a difficult question to answer. If I may try to answer it briefly, the point is this. There is a tendency nowadays for universities to become residential, with all the benefits for a university student that that involves. In addition, the universities have a collection of students studying widely different subjects, whereas in a technical college the interests will be more canalised. It seems to me that to give a degree for a new and quite different achievement would be misleading and unwise. The Royal colleges, if they were established, would give courses quite distinct from those of universities. It is quite wrong to pretend that the courses they would give would be in competition with those given by the universities. The award that they give should, therefore, indicate a distinction in its own sphere; it should not try to compete in any way with a degree. It might be that in the future certain technical colleges which provide high-class education in sandwich courses—with a broad basis, including the humanities—would in time reach a suitable status for the granting of degrees; but at the moment I feel that it would only lead to confusion to do so.
Surely, the solution to this award problem is indicated by the current practice in, for instance, Glasgow, where the Royal Technical College gives an associateship for the successful completion of its courses. The associateship is intimately linked with the name of the college. It has a high reputation and, similarly, with such an associateship awarded by new Royal technical colleges, its reputation would increase as the colleges developed. I cannot see that there is any difficulty there; nor is there any difficulty in a higher award beyond the first degree stage, particularly if the universities would accept the award of associateship of the Royal technical colleges as a suitable qualification for going on to a higher degree. Already certain universities do not insist on a degree as a necessary qualification for 254 taking their post-graduate courses, and I am sure that if universities were not ready to extend their facilities for taking higher degrees to associates of the Royal technical colleges they would be open to a clear charge of lack of co-operation.
There remains the immediate problem, because clearly it is not possible by a stroke of the pen to select, improve and grant independence to technical colleges. There is the difficulty to which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, drew attention just now, amongst others. We should therefore need to have some interim award, which would be on a national basis, while these new colleges were gaining their individual reputation before they became independent bodies. It would be possible, perhaps, to go back to the solution which was turned down in, I think, paragraph 62 of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee's Report, and to award a diploma in engineering or in technology. Such diploma would have to be, in the first case, supervised by a national council of some kind. There might possibly have to be two—one for engineering and one for other technologies. They would have to select the colleges and approve the standard of their work, and would also have to moderate their examinations, either by external examiners or in some other way. In time, those colleges would emerge as suitable to be granted independence and able to grant their own associateships, which would rapidly acquire a high national reputation.
I hope that the Government will look at such proposals again, and that they may be accepted as a basis for improving the future education which can be provided by technical colleges. I feel that there is a need in addition to improved facilities at universities for this type of education for technologists with a more practical basis, tied, perhaps, more closely to the needs of local industry. I need hardly say that I have not worked out the scheme which I propose—it has been worked out by others with whom I have talked—but it does seem to me to hold out the best hope for the future in this sphere. May I sum it up? Let a few technical colleges be selected for increased grants. Let them be upgraded and called Royal technical colleges, with the ultimate aim of being independent and being able to give their own associateship award which would 255 rapidly gain a high reputation. The awards would be equal in value, although different in scope, to a degree. As an interim scheme, let there be a national diploma supervised by a central board whose members should be qualified academically and professionally. Such a scheme would, I know, require considerable co-operation in the national interest. Some sacrifice would be needed by local authorities, some by professional institutions and some by the universities; but surely we can proceed on the basis that such co-operation would be forthcoming.
I have not touched on many important points—the supply of science teachers, the advice to those taking up a career from schools and the status of technologists. I have spoken too long already, but it is not easy to compress these ideas. I welcome the valuable Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, with the amendments which I have suggested. I would end by quoting a paragraph from the excellent Seventh Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy:…we wish to emphasise that policy is in the end judged not by what is said, but by what is done; and by the effects of the things that are done.Let that be our guiding principle, for I believe that the effects of our decisions taken on these matters are of vital importance to the country.
§ 6.28 p.m.
My Lords, the memorandum that we have been discussing this afternoon is certainly a most important and a most comprehensive document. I should like to add my congratulations to my noble friend as Chairman of the Committee which produced that document, and also for the excellent way in which he has presented it to us this afternoon. I will comment extremely briefly this evening on certain points, and I wish to do so from the point of view of what one might call the user of technologists and not the producer of them. In other words, I want to make one or two comments from the point of view of industry, and, seeing that I have the privilege at the present time of being President of the National Union of Manufacturers, I wish to put particular emphasis on the needs of the smaller and medium-sized industrial firms.
256 All of us in industry must welcome the Government's plans that were announced before this afternoon; and to-day's very important announcement is one that, whilst one obviously cannot comment on it in detail, gives what might be described, I think, as a declaration of intention which is extremely encouraging and welcome. I should imagine that, when all these plans come to maturity, there should be a reasonably adequate supply of highly-trained scientists. But the question I wonder about is, how long is it going to be before maturity is, in fact, reached? When the buildings and the equipment are all there, are the teaching staffs, the professors and the students going to be there? Are the attractions going to be adequate to bring them there? Of course, both are essential.
In particular, I have in mind, will there be an increasing annual grant for bursaries for the growing number of postgraduate students, if the best type are to be attracted? I can well imagine that there are different points of view as to what the best type of man is for this training, but, from the point of view of industry, I should have thought that the best type would be a man who has taken an ordinary science degree, has then gone into industry for two, three, or even five years, and then goes back to do a postgraduate course. That means that maintenance grants for such a man, who may by that time have incurred certain family and other responsibilities, will have to be higher than if he went straight to this post-graduate course at a younger age. I understand that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research already gives considerable help in this matter, but I think it is an important point that ought to be borne in mind.
We have heard a good deal said today about the very favourable position in which we in this country appear to be vis-á-vis the United States when it comes to holders of honours degrees and above; but when we come lower down the scale it is quite clear that the position is not so good. It is here that industry, and particularly, I suggest, the smaller firms, are likely to be affected. After all—and I do not want to repeat all that I have said so often in your Lordships' House on other occasions, but I must just repeat this—these smaller firms represent together a large bloc of British industry 257 as a whole. It has been calculated that 60 per cent. of British exports come from firms of 200 employees or less. These smaller firms require not perhaps the most highly-trained research workers—there may be exceptional firms who do—but men with a sound basic knowledge of science who can apply the results of other men's researches.
When one comes to realise the growing complexity of the ordinary industrial firm, one sees that these men are required, and in growing numbers, not merely in the laboratory, if a firm has one, not merely in the design department or in some special department, but for the day-to-day running of the business. There has been some doubt cast during this debate on the size of the demand for these men. All I have to say on that score is that there are something like 40,000 recognised industrial firms in this country, and if we take that figure we can say that the demand for this type of man is, and will be for a great number of years to come, quite unlimited. In so far as there is a substantial gap to-day—and a far greater gap than exists in the United States—I would agree with those who say that the lower productivity that is evident in certain industries in this country is due, to some extent, to that very point.
That having been said, I think it is fair for industry to turn round and say, "What can we in industry do to help?" The noble Marquess the Leader of the House has already indicated certain ways in which industry is getting together with the universities and helping, but the Report refers to a number of other ways in which industry can help or can be represented in this work. In paragraph 46, the Report say that there should be on the "governing bodies" of the suggested Royal Chartered colleges of technology industrial and commercial representation. Or, again, paragraph 76 refers to the suggestion that the three great national industrial bodies might together do something about publicising in the schools "what careers are available in industry on the technological side." I strongly support that view, because I have no doubt whatever that there still exists a certain prejudice in some of the schools against encouraging the most brilliant pupils to train themselves for posts of this type in industry. Industry cannot afford not to have a high 258 proportion of the best brains that the country has to offer to-day.
Then, in paragraph 77, reference is made to the question of sponsored research. I should have thought that when it comes to research, a team of industry and the universities could but do good; that industry would be far more likely to put to early application the results of research if they had had rather more of a say in what research was to be done. I understand that that is so to a greater extent in the United States than in this country. That, again, may be one other reason for the greater productivity on the other side of the Atlantic about which we have heard to much.
I sense in this Report that there is some hesitancy as regards sponsored research. I know there is a certain amount of such research even to-day, but there seems to me to be some hesitancy, and I am not sure where that hesitancy comes from. Is it from the universities or from industry, or where does it come from? I should like to know. There is one small point on which a number of noble Lords have commented—this question of awards. When a firm in industry is looking for a man, they do not pay a great deal of attention to the letters after the man's name. It is very nice for the individual to have some letters after his name, but a board of directors who are looking for a young man of suitable training look much more at the confidential reports of tutors, and things of that sort, than at the fact that he has letters after his name.
Finally, I would comment on one other point. It has been mentioned that the sub-committee which produced this Report was a sub-committee composed of both the main political Parties. To my mind, that is an immensely important fact, because this must be an entirely non-Party problem. It is a problem that has to be tackled with energy and force over a great number of years, and it is a problem that must be pursued in good times and in bad times, whether trade is good or whether it is bad. That means that it must be tackled irrespective of what Party may be in power at any given time. Therefore I would say that the long-term plan that has been outlined this afternoon by our noble Leader is one that looks well to the future, and certainly I am immensely encouraged by it.
§ 6.41 p.m.
THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, in common with the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, I find it difficult at short notice to make any responsible comment on the very important pronouncement which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has made on Government policy this afternoon. Clearly, it cuts the ground from under the main issue of the debate, which is the implementation of the Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, the chief architect of which was, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, to whom we are all indebted for the opportunity of discussing these matters this afternoon. On the face of it the statement of the noble Marquess sounded very encouraging. I appreciate that it is not entirely what the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, would like, but if it is implemented resolutely it seems to me that it may go some way to providing what we need.
I myself have never felt entirely enthusiastic about the need for a technological university as such. The history of education in this country has proceeded on rather different lines from the history of education on the Continent. The continental universities set their faces against teaching subjects like engineering, or chemical engineering or glass technology or textile technology, with the result that technology became the concern of the Technische Hoch-Schule—schools which now enjoy high reputations. American educational practice has always been strongly influenced by the continental point of view, and that amongst other things resulted in bringing to birth organisations such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology, whose achievements now command such high respect in the academic world. But in this country the universities never set their faces obstinately against teaching technology. Subjects such as engineering and textile technology have developed within the framework of the universities and not outside.
It has always seemed to me that the proposals to set up independent technological universities in this country are to some extent rather abstract, because there is no subject which is learned at a continental Technische Hoch-Schule which is not taught at 260 some British university. On the other hand, where we have universities in great cities, cities with great industrial populations in particular, like London, Manchester and Glasgow, then it has always seemed to me that the technological faculty of the university may expand to the point where it may become desirable to allow the technological department to break free. The Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, in a permissive sense, made provision for that happening at some stage if it was thought desirable. The well-known fact that Imperial College (which has, from the time of its foundation through the amalgamation of its constituent parts, always been a constituent college of London University) is happy with its status is no reason for saying that, because Imperial College does not wish to break away from its university, no other college should. Again, the fact that Manchester College of Technology (which has always been the technological faculty of the Victoria University, Manchester) is happy and content with its position should not be used as an argument for saying that no other college should break away. It seems to me that some kind of independent academic status as adumbrated in the Report of Lord Glyn's Committee, is a worthy terminal ambition to set before the technical and technological colleges of this country. They can achieve it at some later stage if they wish.
The noble Marquess has asked us to say nothing that would exacerbate one or two rather delicate matters which are now under discussion between the Royal Technological College, Glasgow, and the University. Naturally, everybody would wish to respond to his request in that respect. I shall therefore discuss those matters no further. But whether one accepts the views put forward by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, or whether one accepts the proposals of the Government as what we must get to work with, none of them can bear anything but a harvest of dead sea fruit unless it is implemented with a certain amount of resolution and despatch. This debate is taking place at the end of 1954–that is nine and a half years after the end of the war. The war took us five years of intense effort, during which time we achieved remarkable things. Even on the technological front we achieved remarkable things, quite apart from our military achievements 261 Think what we did in those five years. We developed penicillin, radar, jet propulsion, nuclear energy, "Pluto," Mulberry Harbour and many other projects, each of which required resolution and despatch in giving effect to the decisions which were required from day to day.
During the nine years since the war, however, we seem to have become overcome by a national neurosis of indecision when it comes to getting a move on, and this seems to me to apply to the taking of decisions and the implementation of decisions that have been taken in relation to bodies such as Imperial College. They relate to problems which do not depend for their resolution upon whether Imperial College should break free from London University or be given a separate chanter or anything like that; they depend upon such questions as the layout of a building site. To have taken two years—longer than we took to (plan the invasion of Europe—to decide on the layout of a building site in South Kensington is just too long. If your Lordships go to the Manchester College of Technology, you will find what they are building most heartening; but you would find it less heartening to learn that what they are actually building was proposed in 1932 and authorised in 1933. Those plans have been set back and set back. We are riot doing something modern in Manchester; we are doing something which was needed a generation ago. In the wisdom of the city fathers of Manchester of 1902 this Technological Faculty of the University was set up. They intended it to be a great competitor to the Technische Hoch-Schule at Charlottenburg, in Berlin; they provided laid for the future of the college and an endowment out of the rates.
The Prime Minister of the day, then Mr. Arthur Balfour, visited the opening of the College. In declaring it open, he made a speech in which he said that this was a typical example of the kind of enterprise one expected from Manchester and from Lancashire. How very woefully has the provision made for the College sunk below those fine ambitious days of the 1900 period! The College has exhausted all its land; it has all been earmarked for building. The College now urgently needs more land. The College has not asked for separate academic status; it has not asked for the right to 262 give separate degrees. It would be quite wrong to thrust separate degrees and Royal Charters down its throat. What it is asking for is land for a new department of chemical engineering. You cannot expand the College to include a department of chemical engineering merely by saying "shove up a bit" in order to take on more students, as you can when expanding a department that already exists. A new department has to be built, and land is required for the purpose. All this requires decision. What is holding up the decision? The untidy state of its administrative arrangements for finance. Finance at the Manchester College of Technology is distributed over the University Grants Committee, the Corporation of the City of Manchester, the Ministry of Education, the local education authority and other bodies. In that situation everybody is in a position to say, in small boy language, "Feigns I" when it comes to buying some new land for the college.
To overcome this difficulty the College has proposed constitutional reforms of which we have heard this afternoon, but these still require ratification, and if year after year goes by before they are ratified, then again we shall he taking too long over the job. I often think it is a very good thing for those of us who have anything to do with building to leave this Parliament at Westminster and walk on to the Embankment past Victoria Tower, to look at the big Imperial Chemical Industries building and to remember that it was built in eighteen months. We have got used to a snail's pace rate of progress. We have all heard of Achilles and the tortoise, and know that, whatever Zeno said to the contrary, Achilles will always catch up with the tortoise; but if the argument were the other way round, and he had said that the tortoise would not catch up with Achilles, then his argument would have been valid. Our competitors are not standing still. We have drifted into contentment with a tortoiselike rate of progress and I do not believe that we can afford it.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, referred to a document called Challenge to Britain. I know where the next challenge to Britain is coming from—from the industries of West Germany and Japan. There are certain fields in which we can never compete with them. In the field of standard 263 products which lie in the public domain of technology, those which anybody can make, the Japanese are prepared to accept lower wages than we shall ever be prepared to accept, and the Germans are prepared to work harder than we shall ever be willing to work. In those fields they must inevitably undercut our products. It is only in the field of quality, particularly the quality of new products, that we can hope to compete with the rest of the world. It seems to me absolutely essential that the greatest attention should be given to the speed at which we move in these matters.
I have been very much concerned, during the last five years, with the development of one of these new quality products, high-speed electronic calculating machines, properly known as digital computors and sometimes known in the popular press as "electronic brains." From my knowledge of what is going on I can carry out a little census in my head of how many engineers we have on these projects in this country. It amounts to not more than 200. I recently visited the United States of America to check up on reports I had been receiving of progress being made there. I found in one development centre of one company, 1,700 engineers, and they were not low grade first degree men. Many were Ph.D's, second degree men. There were 1,700 in one firm alone—and that was only one of three big firms. In addition, there were half a dozen intermediate size firms working in this field, and over and above them 150 small firms. Although tributes have been paid to the quality of British technology—tributes which are perfectly true—and although in the field of fundamental science much of the American development is taking place under licence from inventions made in this country, there comes a point where numerical strength becomes so overwhelmingly great that the mediocre big man knocks down the little man, no matter how good the little man may be. It appears to be a law of nature that when the wealth per head of one country rises above that of another it gets invested in education. If we compare certain statistical ratios as between the United States and this country, we get a population ratio of three to one, a wealth ratio of ten to one; and this shows up in a university ratio of thirty to one, 264 so that, with a new product, the United States can crowd engineers into it in a ratio of fifty to one or one hundred to one as compared with anything that we in this country can do.
I should like now to underline and emphasise the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rochdale, because I consider it of extreme importance: the question of the provision for post-graduate studies, not post-graduate research. There is a scheme in this country for post-graduate research. Anybody who, having graduated and taken a degree, wishes to carry on at a university so as to take a Ph.D. for two or three years' research work, can get a grant for that purpose from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. There is official routine provision for it, and it happens over and over again. Many students are thus maintained in their post-graduate years by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. In fact the scheme goes further, and students wishing to take a second degree in a subject associated with their own may do so. Should an engineer wish to take a degree in economics, the Department will make provision for that also. But when it comes to a fourth year at a university taken as a postgraduate year of study (rather than research), where the student is going to emerge not with Ph.D. but with a diploma for post-graduate specialisation or an M.Sc., there is no routine provision in the educational scheme of this country to cover it.
One may argue about what is the best way for technologists to learn. One school of thought says, for example, that the best way to teach glass technology is to set up a degree course in glass technology and to let a man study it for three years. That is a reasonable argument. Another argument is that the best way to become a glass technologist is to take a degree in physics, chemistry or engineering first and then take a postgraduate course, at Sheffield say, in glass technology. I believe that the universities should be freer than they are to turn out these two alternative types, in order that industry may have a chance to decide which of the two it prefers to employ. At the moment, industry is not being given an adequate selection of alternative types to employ because there are no means of producing one of these types. I believe that the point made by the noble Lord, 265 Lord Rochdale, is a very important one and merits the attention of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, after so comprehensive a debate I think we may agree that there is little to add, but it gives me an opportunity on behalf of the House of thanking the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for introducing this debate and for putting before your Lordship and outlining this important Report. It also gives me an opportunity of thanking the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, for his speech. Because the noble Lord is so busy we seldom see him here, but is part of the strength of this House that we are able on occasions to call up noble Lords to make contributions of the type he has just made to our debates.
We are all fully agreed on the fundamental point: the vital importance—I use the word "vital" consciously and advisedly—of this subject. I was particularly glad, as noble Lords must have been, that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Lord, Lord Waverley, both mentioned the quality of the work done in this field. A great deal has been said about the quantity, possibly the inadequate quantity, but we are, I believe, all agreed about the quality of the work done in our research institutes, and your Lordships would be sorry to close this debate without paying a tribute from the whole of this House to the work that is being done in our great research institutions. Noble Lords have had the policy of Her Majesty's Government laid before them quite clearly and definitely by our Leader. We know it does not give my noble friend, Lord Cherwell, what he wants, but I think the Lord President made it clear—and doubtless Lord Cherwell would be the first to agree—that we are discussing not a matter of mechanics but a question of principle. The principle favoured by Her Majesty's Government is embodied in the words used by one noble Lord when he spoke of our need of "educated technologists." If, as we all want, the technologist or technician is to be able to go to the top, it is vital that he should be a really educated man.
I speak with, perhaps, some Departmental pride here. Lord Silkin mentioned 266 that in his view the technician was too often suppressed in the Government machine. I have, during the last month, appointed, as Deputy-Director-General in an administrative capacity at the Post Office, one who is well known in the field of electronic research. He has been our chief engineer, and has been in charge of Dollis Hill Research Station. I am not going to discuss that subject; we have discussed it at great length already. I will say only this—and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, will agree with me—that it is perhaps a pity to dispute what is a comparative detail on a day when an announcement of the character of the one which we have heard from the noble Marquess has been made.
This is a very important day in the history of research in this country, and the fact that not only are we able to speak to-day of the immensely increased assistance from the Government for research work, but also we have had contributions from the noble Lords, Lord Baillieu and Lord Rochdale, about the ever-increasing interest that is being taken by industry in this research, must make us feel that we shall be able to go ahead with these new developments, if not in complete agreement about all the mechanical details, at least with good will and encouragement from all sides. Once again, on behalf of all your Lordships, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for introducing this subject and for the manner in which he has done so.
§ LORD GLYN
My Lords, I rise to express the thanks, if I may, of all who served on that Committee for the discussion to-day, especially as it has synchronised with the making—after many postponements—of that very important statement in another place. I hope I shall live long enough to see the noble Marquess the Lord President go down to Harwell to open it as the first regional technical college for atomic energy. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.