§ 3.5 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (LORD STRATHCLYDE)
My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill be read a second time. I would remind your Lordships that the principal Act relating to education in Scotland is the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946. This is a consolidation Act which brought together all that remained in force of the Acts of 1872 to 1945 and it is the legal basis of the public educational system in Scotland. An amending Act was passed in 1949. Since then several legal and administrative difficulties have been encountered, both by the education authorities and by the Scottish Education Department, and the purpose of this Bill is to iron them out. I hope that it will help to make the administrative machine run more smoothly and effectively in the future. As your Lordships would expect, a Bill of this kind does not provide for any dramatic new developments in education. But it contains a number of good things, and I think I can safely say that I do not expect it to prove controversial.
I do not propose to go into all the details of the Bill at this stage, but I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the more important provisions. The main purpose of Clause 1 is to enable education authorities to do work on private roads, with a view to reducing the risk of accidents to pupils on the way to and from school and to pupils while actually present at school. Under the Act of 1946, education authorities are prevented from doing work on land which does not belong to them or which is not leased by them. I will give examples of the kind of work they have wanted to do but have been able to do only if they disregarded the Act. The first example I would cite to your Lordships is of a 820 bridge on the only road from a village to a school which has become dangerous and has had to be closed to traffic. The car provided by the authority to take the children to school has to cross the bridge, and the children are required to alight and cross on foot.
Another example that comes to my mind is of a narrow wooden bridge with a broken handrail. The bridge carries the only path to a school over a river. With the handrail in that state the bridge is dangerous to children. Another school is a short distance up a side road which leads into the hills and to remote hill farms. The surface of the side road between the school and the main road is completely worn away and is dangerous. In wet weather the children cannot reach the school dry shod. At several schools the lorry bringing the school meals has to cross the playground, to the danger of the children, because the private road leading to the side entrance to the school has become too bad to use. That is the kind of repairs that education authorities wish to do for the safety of the children using private roads. The Bill gives them the power to do the work themselves or in co-operation with any other person, but it provides that the authority must first obtain the consent of the owner or occupier of the land or must satisfy the Secretary of State that the owner or occupier cannot be found. I am sure that owners and ocupiers will readily co-operate with the education authorities under this clause. The clause also empowers education authorities to erect safety barriers either on public roads or on private roads. Where they propose to do so on public roads they must obtain the consent of the Road Authority. This will enable the Road Authority to see that the barriers are properly sited and constructed and that proper arrangements are made for their maintenance.
I should like to say a word about Clause 3 which deals with school attendance. I am glad to tell your Lordships that the standard of school attendance in Scotland is on the whole very satisfactory, but there are always a few parents who do not see that their children attend school regularly. The clause deals with three main points. Where a child of school age has attended a public school 821 (that is, a school conducted by an education authority) but fails to attend regularly, his parent is guilty of an offence. Education authorities have power to call defaulting parents before them to explain why their child has not been attending school regularly and they can postpone for one month a Decision whether or not to prosecute the parents. The education authority, however, have no power to make an attendance order—that is, an order in writing requiring the parent to cause the child to attend a school named in the order. If the parent sends his child to school regularly during the month they may decide not to prosecute. Sometimes after this decision is taken the parent lapses into his bad old ways. The first subsection of the clause accordingly proposes that the education authority should be empowered to make an attendance order when they decide to delay a decision to prosecute. We hope that this may in some cases secure the regular attendance of the child at school.
Another type of evasion which occurs is where an attendance order has been made and the parent and his family move to another area. Under Section 35 of the 1946 Act the attendance order then lapses, and if the parent does not send his child to school in the new area all the procedure for making a new attendance order has to be gone through; and in the meanwhile the child is not attending school. The third subsection of the clause proposes that in such circumstances the original attendance order should not lapse, but that the education authority of the area to which the family has moved should be empowered to amend the attendance order. The third type of cases is where an education authority are satisfied that the imposition of fines on a parent will not have the effect of making him send his child regularly to school. or it may be that the authority are satisfied that the parent has done all he can to make his child attend school and think that it would be unfair to prosecute the parent. Subsection (5) of the clause proposes that in these circumstances the education authority may bring the child before a juvenile court, which has power, amongst other things, to direct that the child be sent to an approved school.
822 I turn now to Clause 4. Under the principal Act of 1946 the main provision of bursaries in Scotland is made by education authorities, and in assessing the amount of the awards the authorities have to comply with regulations made by the Secretary of State. These regulations provide that the value of a bursary is to be the difference between the cost of taking the course and the contribution, if any, to be made towards that cost by the parent in accordance with an income scale. The Secretary of State cannot include in the regulations a provision that the cost of maintaining dependants of the bursar is to be included in the assessment. This has meant that some married men with families who have applied for bursaries to enable them to attend full-time courses at a central institution, such as the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, or the Adult Education College at Newbattle Abbey, have had to abandon their plans because of their inability to maintain their families while they are not earning an income. The clause is designed to meet this difficulty.
Clause 5 deals with the question of transport and travelling expenses for pupils attending schools and other educational establishments. It makes three changes in the existing section. If your Lordships will, look at subsection (1) you will observe that there are three methods of providing travelling facilities for tie pupils. Hitherto, an authority has been able to assist an individual pupil by only one method, but there are many cases where assistance by two of the methods is necessary. There is, for example, the case where a child lives so far away from a railway station that a bicycle should be provided, and then there is the question of the fare from the station to the neighbouring town where the school is situated. The new subsection will enable the authorities to give assistance by more than one of these methods.
The second change is contained in subsection (2), which requires education authorities to allow pupils to occupy free of charge empty seats in school buses provided by the authority for conveying children to school. Some authorities already allow empty seats to be occupied, but others do not because of the difficulty of selecting the pupils and the fear of establishing a precedent. A great deal of resentment is created among parents 823 where the authority adopt this attitude. It can be understood by your Lordships that if a child has to walk, say, three-quarters of a mile to school on a wet day when it is blowing hard, the parents feel somewhat resentful if the school bus goes by with empty seats. The Government think it wrong that when empty seats are available children should be made to walk comparatively long distances to school because their homes happen to be just within walking distance from school —two miles for children under eight and three miles for older children. The third change made by the clause will enable authorities to pay the expenses of students who are required to attend for examination or interview before being admitted to an educational institution. Real hardship is occasioned when the student has to travel a long distance and spend a night away from home.
I should refer to Clause 9, which deals with the training of teachers. Since the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland reported on this subject towards the end of the war, it has been much discussed in educational circles. The Secretary of State is proposing to make new regulations to replace those made about twenty-five years ago which have been heavily amended and are in many respects out of date. Before he decides his policy on the many questions which have to be settled, officials of the Scottish Education Department are to hold a series of conferences, we hope early in the new year, with the interested parties. The purpose of Clause 9 is to clarify the existing section of the Act of 1946—that is, Section 77—and to ensure, so far as possible, that the Secretary of State will not be prevented from making regulations on the lines desired by those concerned. For example, certificates of competency to teach can meantime be awarded only by the Secretary of State. It is understood that the training authorities feel that the prestige of the training colleges would be enhanced if the certificates were awarded by them. The new clause accordingly enables the Secretary of State to delegate the award of these certificates to the training authorities, and it will be open to him to provide for this delegation in the new regulations if he is satisfied that this would be in the best interests of all concerned. The regulations 824 will be laid before Parliament in due course.
I do not think it necessary to trouble your Lordships at this stage with the other clauses of the Bill. They are mainly concerned with questions of procedure. As your Lordships will have observed, the Bill also contains a Schedule of "Minor and consequential amendments." I would commend the Bill to your Lordships as being a useful measure. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Strathclyde.)
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, I am glad to have the opportunity of saying on behalf of the Opposition that there is a general welcome to this Bill. I am glad to have it demonstrated in this House—in an alien land, I might put it—
§ LORD MATHERS
—that when things require to be done in Scotland they are done, even though it means that sometimes they require to be done without authority. Almost the first words used by the noble Lord indicated to us that what we were actually being asked to do was to compound a felony, and right glad I am to think that the education authorities in Scotland, headed by the Secretary of State as the educational Minister, could, with a clear conscience, if not break the law at least go beyond the law in acting in a sensible way. That relates to Clause 1, which is concerned with the safety of children attending school. I do not expect that there will be any opposition on the part of those who own the lands or whose property has to be invaded. It is good that powers should be taken in order to remove these disabilities.
I thank the noble Lord sincerely for the brief historical survey he gave at the commencement of his speech and also for making clear the purport of the clauses that might cause us to raise some questions. He is assured on all hands, I am certain, of approval for Clause 3, which seeks to ensure more regular attendance at school of those who should be there for the purpose of their education. I will not dwell upon Clause 4, which deals with bursaries, but simply say that I am glad indeed to see the improvements that are proposed in connection with bursaries. They will make a 825 great advance. I will leave my noble friend Lord Greenhill, who has had a good deal to do with educational matters, to say something from his point of view and his wide experience of these matters.
As the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, has indicated, many anomalies have arisen over the question of transport. I am glad indeed that provision is being made for the conveyance, where necessary, of children who have considerable distances to go to attend school. My recollection of my own school days in the country is that those who lived the furthest from the school were at the end of the term found to have put in the best attendances. That is a fact. I am talking about children of my own age at that time who had to walk as much as four miles to attend the elementary school, which was the only school I ever knew. I am glad to think that the needs of the situation are being so well met now. It is a matter of common sense to apply what the noble Lord has indicated to us is the intention in this regard. With regard to Clause 6, which deals with dental services, I take it that there is practically no change. This is merely a transfer of powers from one instrument to another. Then may I ask a question about Cause 7? May we be informed of the scope of this clause, which relates to the inspection of private schools? How many such schools are there nowadays? Surely there cannot be many. What guarantee is there that pupils in attendance at those schools are receiving a satisfactory measure of education—that is, if there is to be no obligation upon them to undergo an inspection? Clause 8 deals simply with administration, as indeed do most of the other clauses. With regard to the regulations which the noble Lord indicated would be brought into operation as the result of the passing of Clause 9, he indicated that those regulations will be laid before Parliament, and I take it that they will be laid before Parliament in order that they may be approved before being regarded as fully authoritative.
There is little more I want to say on these clauses, but I wish to make some reference to Clause 10, which deals with a most important matter and one which is a live issue at the present time in the Scottish educational sphere—the question of the amending of the teachers superannuation scheme. I hope that in giving 826 approval to Clause 10 we are not parting with any rights and are not putting the teachers of Scotland in any difficulties. The noble Lord and Scottish noble Lords certainly will know that recently the teachers declined, and declined unanimously, to accept the superannuation proposals that had been presented to there by the Secretary of State. I think they had a good deal of justification on their side in that regard. I trust we shall not be arming the Secretary of State with powers to impose any scheme upon the teachers. I hope that this matter will be arranged by negotiation and that agreement will be obtained.
This matter has a considerable effect on education in Scotland. We in Scotland are well served in respect of education, and we have a great reputation to maintain. I must say that I hear good reports of the quality of the young teachers who are now being recruited to our schools. They show themselves to be keen and devoted to their work and greatly interested in their pupils—indeed, they have proved that they take their task as a vocation. I am sure everyone will agree that that is something that should be encouraged by good pay and conditions I think I can link this point with Clause 10, though I am not suggesting that young teachers who are entering the teaching service should, at the outset, start thinking about the question of superannuation. For anyone who is considering entering into a profession, the existence of a good and sound superannuation scheme is an inducement. I am sure it is agreed that it is helpful in encouraging people to take up a particular line of activity. In regard to this superannuation scheme, which has been thrown into the arena of controversy at the present time, I would say to the Government: "Establish a good and generous scheme with a reasonable, fixed minimum contribution by employed teachers"—I would suggest 5 per cent. of salaries as a maximum—"then recruit your teachers on that basis, and give a guarantee that the superannuation fund will be kept solvent by contributions from the State when the position is disclosed by each quinquennial valuation." The aim should be that the resulting benefits should be equal to those obtaining in the Civil Service. I think. I am justified in making a suggestion of that kind because I believe that that is the way in which 827 certain great corporations provide for the superannuation of their employees.
The scheme recently proposed by the Secretary of State and presented to the teachers fell down principally, as I understand it, on the ground that definite provision was not made for wives and other dependants of teachers. Any superannuation scheme nowadays is incomplete and unworthy if it does not make provision for dependants. If there is no provision for dependants it is not the kind of scheme that should be encouraged as an accompaniment to the scales of benefit arising from the National Insurance contributions. Past Governments have encouraged employers to start superannuation schemes for their workers. I am sure that what was envisaged in that connection were schemes providing for the care of surviving wives and dependants.
For some years past teachers who had retired early or had ceased to teach for other reasons—for example, I have in mind women teachers who had married but had lost their husbands—have been again recruited and have, I believe, given valuable service. I know of several who are very popular. I suggest they have something unique to add to their teaching ability, such as their experience of life, it may be in other countries. I happen to know of a case of that kind. They may have pursued other activities in the years since they left the school (which they did for perfectly good reasons), which may be outside the ordinary experience of those who are teaching in schools. Those people can be a great asset to the schools in which they are teaching.
As a general practice, teachers' organisations oppose employment after sixty-five years of age, especially in promoted posts. I hope that the Secretary of State will look quite objectively, and with the best interests of the service as his primary concern, at this demand that teachers over sixty-five years of age should not be employed. All the teachers are needed at the present time; I believe there is a real place for them. I say most definitely that it is out of date to decide retirement solely by reference to the calendar. You might as well start judging the pound as being worth twenty shillings. In this case the criterion to be applied should be: is the person sound physically and alert 828 mentally? To a considerable extent that means, has the individual led a good life and had certain good luck in the way of health? I will not start riding my hobby horse of being a teetotaler and a nonsmoker, but that has its interest and its place in the consideration of this matter.
In referring to older teachers, I would say an earnest word about the payments made to the oldest of all—namely, the retired teachers. I have said to this House and to another place, to Ministers here and in another place, that it is quite indefensible to deny the request made by teachers' organisations that retirement allowances should be paid monthly instead of quarterly. Yet this modest request has been declined over and over again. Payments on the basis of old salaries are miserably low, and it is quite wrong to withhold them for three months. I absolve the Secretary of State for Scotland from responsibility. I simply cannot believe that any Scottish Minister would be so contemptibly mean as to act in this way, and I put the blame and responsibility upon the broad back of that sinner, the Treasury, for insisting on this procedure. These people should be getting bigger allowances than they now get. For years many of them have been in receipt of these very small allowances based on the old miserable salaries. To deny them for three months the opportunity of using money to which they are entitled means in effect that their money is on loan to the Treasury for two months out of every three.
One of the objections made is that a certain amount of expense would be involved in altering the payment from quarterly to monthly. That is a mean view to take with people who have borne the heat and burden of the day on low salaries and who are now running, every quarter, the risk of dying before they get their next quarterly allowance. They may be willing to run the risk for a month, but it is not good enough to ask them to permit the Treasury to continue this iniquitous practice of paying them only once in three months. I would suggest that when (as I hope) payment is put on a monthly basis, the allowances should be increased as a kind of interest-payment on the money which the Treasury has withheld and made use of for so long. I make that strong and earnest plea at 829 the end of my remarks upon this Bill,. of which, generally, I take a favourable view.
§ 3.43 p.m.
THE EARL OF ELGIN AND KINCARDINE
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for long. Like the noble Lord who has just sat down, I should like, first, to offer a few words of welcome to this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, who submitted it, referred in detail to various clauses. Though I do not propose to go through all of them I feel that in this Bill we have a tidying measure which will do something to meet and iron out difficulties which have arisen in the administration of the principal Act. Possibly in education in Scotland we have suffered a little from over-meticulous parental care from the Scottish Education Department and St. Andrew's House. This Bill indicates a widening of powers given to county councils and other local authorities, and that principle might well be extended a little further. I believe that if Her Majesty's Government could be satisfied with laying down policy on education, leaving local authorities, town and county councils, to work out the details—knowing them as they do—it would be for the betterment of all of us.
I think that all your Lordships must have welcomed Clause 1, for anything that we can do to improve the safety of children going to or from school certainly should be done, and this clause goes a long way in that direction. Speaking with the knowledge gained from many years on the County Council of Fife, I know the difficulties which arose on these particular points and the time it took to get a solution of them. While I feel happy about this clause I should like to be quite sure that it goes far enough. It deals with the improvement of roads. Under this clause is it possible for Her Majesty's Government to consider extending to an education authority power to construct, for example, a footpath across private land, with the consent referred to in the Act, of course, where such a footpath would connect a housing scheme with a school, thereby keeping children off the road altogether? I do not feel that in the clause as it stands there is such power.
Under Clause 5 the widening of the powers of the authority to deal with methods of transport will be much appre- 830 ciated. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, mentioned one point with which this clause will deal; the possibility of children who are not absolutely entitled to a seat in a school bus getting a seat should there be one empty. There might be two children from a family, one over eight, the other under that age; under this clause it would be possible for these two children to go together, whereas at present the child over eight has to walk a mile before he or she can get into the bus. This clause is therefore helpful to local authorities and to those children attending school.
One other clause to which I should like to refer, and which has not yet been mentioned, is Clause 12. I refer to that because for seven years I was charged with the responsibility of reviewing education endowments in Scotland. As I understand the clause, it modifies the present appeal procedure. It is not easy to understand what that modification entails, but with my experience on the Endowment Commission I feel it is a valuable advantage that we should have every opportunity to make improvements to endowments, to bring them up to date and make them more fully available. The principle upon which the Endowment Commission worked was that they were guided by the spirit of a donor's intention. That policy has, I believe, since been continued by the Education Department. I am not quite sure what the amendment effected by Clause 12 means. It takes away one part of the appeal procedure. In all these amendments to endowment schemes we must remember that those who, as the governing body, are responsible for the endowment have a right of appeal. I should like to be satisfied that Clause 12 gives every right, not only to the education authority to make amendments but also to the authority of the endowment to make such representations as they may feel bound to make. With those words I repeat the welcome which we in Scotland give to this Bill.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD GREENHILL
My Lords, in the friendly and informal atmosphere of this House I am tempted to ask your Lordships to allow me to indulge in a personal note. Many years ago, when two town councillors faced each other in a municipal chamber, neither of them, I am per- 831 fectly sure, ever thought it would be his good fortune to meet the other again in your Lordships' House and again be facing him. And since this is the first occasion on which both the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and I have taken part in a debate, I should like to offer him my very good wishes for his success, though I hope that we shall still be able to indulge in friendly combats such as we had in times past. When I heard the noble Lord move the First Reading of this Bill, I wondered what there could be which would justify a Bill at all at this stage, because, so far as I could judge, there appeared to be no issues of any public importance that warranted the presentation of a Bill. But since I have had an opportunity of reading the Bill, it has seemed to me to be so wholly favourable that I wondered whether there was anything hidden in it which I had not been able to detect, or whether, once in a while, the Government were trying to do good by stealth.
I must say how glad I am to see Clause 4 which will allow bursaries to be of such an amount as will enable the applicant for a bursary to know that not only his own costs but also those of maintaining his dependants will be covered. As the noble Lord knows, whereas in England it has been possible for bursaries to be sufficient to cover the cost of maintaining dependants, in Scotland that has not been so. But it will be when this Bill becomes an Act. Hitherto, it has not been possible to grant bursaries which would, for example, permit a married man to enter a residential college for adults. Knowing from my own personal experience how regrettable it was that we were unable to take into such a college those who would otherwise have been suitable, I say wholeheartedly that I am glad that this provision has been included in this Bill. I accept the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that the Bill, on the whole, is a tidying up of loose ends and ends that were causing trouble in the administration of education in Scotland, and perhaps the Bill will ensure that certain difficulties are overcome.
I think it right to mention to the noble Lord some comments—they are not criticisms of my own—which have been made to me by one deputy director of education; and perhaps the noble Lord 832 will be good enough to take notice of them. In regard to Clause 2, I am asked to put this point. Why should an education authority be relieved of the duty to submit schemes, since it is compelled to provide all forms of further education throughout its area? In the absence of schemes, how can the Secretary of State decide whether an education authority is satisfactorily carrying out its duties? On Clause 3, the comment is that this additional power to enforce attendance is greatly welcomed because there are still far too many itinerant parents who are neglecting or evading their responsibility. Clause 4 I have already dealt with, and have expressed my wholehearted approval.
In respect of Clause 5, it is asked that the use of vacant places in school vehicles be not mandatory but permissive. In Glasgow, there is what I think is the somewhat unusual experience of the education authority having to pay for this transport. I think my figure is right, and I believe that the authority has to pay something like £250,000 a year for conveying children between their homes and the schools. That is a tremendous sum. It is felt that, while it may be necessary in counties and rural areas to have a little "prodding" here and there, in a city like Glasgow the authority should be allowed to please itself whether or not it makes the arrangements mentioned in Clause 5. Clause 7 has been referred to by my noble friend Lord Mathers. I rather gather that this is of no great importance, because in so far as there are any private schools left they are already, I think, more or less subject to inspection. My Lords, that is all I want to say on the Bill, except that, in my view, the measure as a whole, though it contains a miscellaneous assortment of clauses does tidy up the present situation. And I repeat that I am very glad indeed that Clause 4 looks like becoming law.
§ 3.57 p.m.
My Lords, this is a Bill which is limited in scope, and I propose only to ask the noble Lord who is in charge of it one question on one of its provisions, and to request him to look into a general matter such as it is proper to bring up on a Second Reading debate. The particular question I wish to ask is about Clause 5. I do not know whether or not the clause is as wide 833 as I should like it to be. I will give the noble Lord an English case of which I heard recently, which will illustrate the point I have in mind. The case was that of a child in London who was paralysed. The child was of a very high degree of intelligence, and it was thought best to send him to an ordinary school and not to a school for incapacitated children. On that account, he was not able to get transport to the school, and his mother has had to leave the care of the rest of her family in order to take that child to school every day, so that he may have an education suited to his capacities and not be sent to a school for backward children. What I want to know is whether Clause 5, as it stands, would enable an education authority to provide transport in a case of that kind. I think that is very important indeed.
The other matter I wish to mention is this. When I was talking the other day to a man who is in a position to know very well the state of education both in Scotland and in England, he said to me that his only criticism was that education in Scotland and education in England were in entirely separate compartments. I hope that that is not the case; but if it is, I trust that the noble Lord who is in charge of this Bill will look into it, with a view to haying some improvement made. I remember discussing Glasgow University in the says which I am sure none of your Lordships will remember (though you may recall hearing about them), the great days of Jebb and Lister, and the great position which Glasgow University then held. The man with whom I was talking said: "I think Glasgow University owed its position to this fact: when a Chair fell vacant the authorities said, 'Who is the greatest man in the world at this job? Let us make it worth his while to come and do it in Glasgow.' They did not say 'Here is a job going; let us see that a Scotsman gets it.' "I am not saying that that position has ever changed; I mention the comment only to illustrate the danger to the education of any country when it works in isolation. Education is one thing that must be on the broadest possible basis. With those two questions, I should like to join the noble Lords opposite and to my right in welcoming the Bill.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LARD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I rise to pay compliments to Scotland. I had a long experience in the medical inspection of schools in London, and I also inspected many schools in other parts of the country. I think the arrangements made in this Bill for the conveyance of children to school, and for looking after them, are better than any which I came across during that time. They seem to me to be elementary common sense, but in my opinion that does not always enter into practical administration. I was particularly interested in the proposals with regard to dental treatment, which have not been referred to so far. Dental treatment has been a bugbear in London and the South. Here a scheme is set cut in a form which will make it available to all children—it is as simple as that. A dental treatment scheme is an extremely valuable thing, because it has now come to he realised by all concerned with the health of children in schools that to look after their teeth and keep them in proper condition is one of the foundations of healthy childhood. I find this Bill very encouraging indeed, because of its plain common sense and its obvious intention to be helpful without too much legalistic jargon.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
My Lords, first of all I wish to express my thanks to noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. It was particularly pleasing that the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, should have come in on a Scottish Bill and I am gratified by what he had to say about it. I should like to deal in detail with the questions which have been asked me. The noble Lord, Lord Mathers, asked about the scope of Clause 7. The purpose of that clause is to discontinue the right of the managers of schools to apply for inspection on the payment of expenses. Going back some distance in history to the Act of 1878, I would point out that Section 2 of that Act dealt with the inspection of higher-class schools. Those under school boards could apply for an inspection and were inspected free of charge. Those under other managers could also apply, but they had to pay for inspection. Tie Act of 1945, consolidated in the Act of 1946, made all schools subject to inspection without charge, So that the noble Lord need not worry about whether or 835 not those attending private schools are receiving proper education. These schools will be inspected in any case.
The point is that it is becoming difficult to arrange for special inspections without taking inspectors off other and urgent work. Accordingly, it is proposed to discontinue the arrangement whereby these special inspections are made when the managers ask for them. In other words, all schools will be inspected in accordance with their rotation, but there will not be special inspections made on application from these schools. I was asked whether I could say how many private schools there are in Scotland. It is estimated that there are about 200, and, as I have said, they are all subject to inspection.
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
No, not necessarily; whether or not they are in receipt of grants, they are subject to inspection. The noble Lord, Lord Mathers, asked me some questions about Clause 10. This clause brings the procedure for making or amending teachers' superannuation schemes into line with present-day practice. I assure your Lordships that this is merely simplifying procedure, which will enable the Secretary of State to make or revoke teachers' superannuation schemes by means of regulations and to make regulations dealing with superannuation; and, of course, these are all subject to annulment by Parliament. The clause is required because provisions regarding the superannuation of Scottish teachers were first made in the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908. That scheme was one of the earliest of superannuation schemes and the procedure for making the scheme and its approval by Order in Council has not been followed in regard to later superannuation schemes—for example, the scheme in the National Health Service. In these later schemes provisions are made by regulations. The present procedure is antiquated and does not fit in conveniently with the normal procedure under the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946. The change in procedure for which the clause provides will not in any way affect the present or future contents of the scheme.
The noble Lord discussed the question of superannuation in general at some 836 length. The noble Lord probably knows that consultations have been going on over a considerable period between the Education Ministers, the Local Authorities Association, the Educational Institute of Scotland and the similar body representing teachers in England. As he said, the Educational Institute of Scotland do not approve of the draft scheme which was submitted to them. All I can tell your Lordships to-day is that, as a result of the discussions which have taken place, the Government have made up their minds and a Bill will be introduced very soon in another place. When that Bill comes to your Lordships' House, we shall have an opportunity of discussing the matter in detail. Perhaps that may also give an opportunity of discussing the payment of pensions monthly rather than three-monthly, as the noble Lord suggests, to teachers who have retired. I am very glad indeed that the noble Lord, Lord Mathers, did not put any blame on the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am certain that the observations he made, with considerable sincerity, will receive consideration in the proper quarter.
The noble Earl, Lord Elgin and Kincardine, suggested that the Scottish Education Department were a little too fatherly and that their job should be to settle policy and leave the local authorities to work out the details of their policy for themselves. I think the noble Earl must know that so far as this Government are concerned, that is exactly what we wish in all matters relating to local authorities: that the local authorities should be left to do their own job subject to the policy which the Government lay down. If the noble Earl considers what has happened in that connection during the last three years, I think he will have reason to be pleased with what the Government have done.
The noble Earl referred also to Clause 12 of the Bill, which deals with endowments. It is a long story, but it really has to do with the working of the Court of Session itself. One has to go back to the year 1868 to arrive at the genesis of this thing. Section 63 of the Court of Session Act, 1868, lays down that:when parties interested in a decision upon a question of law are agreed on the facts it will be competent for them to present a special case837 and so on. The trouble has arisen that when people want to delay the bringing in of a scheme they never agree on the facts, and you cannot get them to agree. The purpose of this clause is to make sure that this agreement is arrived, or not arrived, at; it is really left to the procedure of the court to decide. I understand that it really requires what is known as an Act of Sederunt to put the position right, but it leaves the rights of the parties the same as they have always been.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, referred to Clause 2 of the Bill and the question of schemes. All I can say in reply to that is that for ten years attempts have been made, with the co-operation of the education authorities, to devise a satisfactory form of scheme for the provision of further education. There is no compulsion on anyone to take advantage of the facilities for further education. The situation has always been so fluid that it has not been possible to devise a form of scheme that would prove satisfactory. Therefore, the clause removes the requirement of formal schemes for the provision of voluntary further education. I do not want your Lordships to think that that means that the Secretary of State does not obtain full information; he does obtain the information by less formal means than producing a scheme.
I regret that I do not know the answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, in relation to the case which he gave of the paralysed child. What this Bill deals with is the case where transport has already been provided and there are empty seats which can he filled. However, I will look into the point raised by the noble Lord and write to him about it. I think that answers all the detailed points that have been raised and I would only thank your Lordships again for the manner in which you have welcomed this Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.