§ 2.10 p.m.
LORD SIMON OF WYTHENSHAWE rose to call attention to the much greater production of graduate engineers and scientists per thousand of the population in Russia and in the United State; of America than in Britain, to the much greater effort devoted in those countries to scientific research, and to the inevitable effect, if these trends continue. on our export trade and on our standard of living and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is two years since the subject of technology was debated in your Lordships' House. I think that it is fair to say that at that time there was little sense of urgency, except on the part of my noble friend Lord Cherwell, who has known of the urgency for the last ten years, and, I am glad to say, of the noble Marquess the Lord President of the Council. If I nay, I would begin by quoting some admirable words which he used. He said:
This is a matter of life and death for us…It has become increasingly clear that on the quality of our scientists and technologists…depends quite simply whether we can maintain the exports without which we cannot feed ourselves or maintain our standard of living at all.
These are strong words, but to-day I do not think that anybody would consider them at all an exaggeration.
No vision is needed now to see the almost desperate urgency of the need for more engineers. May I illustrate this by the example of my own firm, a moderate-sized engineering company? I was shocked to learn the other C ay that we are spending at the rate of £20,000 per annum advertising for scientists and engineers, and, broadly speaking, not getting those we need. The personnel manager reports:
The recruitment of graduates has become an industrial ritual, and the travelling circus of personnel managers visiting universities (pointedly known as the 'Lent Stakes') has reached fantastic dimensions. The length of the queue may be appreciated from figures given by Cambridge, where, of the Final Honours Physics School, eight men, free of National Service, were last year faced with a total of 1,034 vacancies, notified by 148 employers.
That gives some indication of the shortage.
As everybody knows, we were for a century the leading engineering country in
the world. Gradually we fell behind as others developed. In 1944, the Barlow Committee recommended that we should double the number of scientists graduating from the universities within ten years. The universities went ahead and did a good job, with the help of the University Grants Committee, and doubled the number in three years. That was very good indeed, but it included little for engineers. For a time the universities went on quietly and did nothing more, and we fell rapidly and increasingly behind our leading industrial competitors. I want to make it as clear as I can that the crux of the position to-day is not scientists: it is engineers. A Nobel Prize-winner in physics has recently written:
The science departments of our universities are better and more vigorous than they have ever been in the history of this country; …What is wrong in this country is that there are far too few engineers to develop our scientists' ideas as fast and as well as is done in some other countries. It requires engineers in considerable numbers to turn the results of scientific research into articles of practical value, and it is notorious that the Americans, thanks to their wealth of engineers, frequently develop and successfully put on the world market the results of the research of British scientists: penicillin is only one of the many outstanding examples.
§ The other reason why the position has become desperate is the speed at which other countries are developing in science and engineering, especially Russia, who has been increasing her output of engineers by no less than 10 per cent. each year, while we have been standing still. During the last two years, and since we had our last debate here, we have obtained much more accurate information about what is happening, especially in Russia—and I want to deal with Russia to-day, because there lies the whole danger. First, there is a report by a Harvard doctor, Mr. De Witt, called Soviet Professional Manpower, which gives us a great deal of information about engineering and scientific education in Russia and which, I believe, has been accepted as reliable both by our own Government and by the Government of the United States. There have been at least ten missions of British scientists and engineers to Russia, who have been shown a great deal of what they wanted to see they had many talks and have brought back a great deal of, I think one can fairly say, new information about 428 developments in that country. I have had the advantage of having talks with members of those missions.
One further item of evidence of the remarkable achievements by Russia is given in a recently published report by a Sub-Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Committee. It compares the output of scientists and engineers in Russia and the United States, to the great disadvantage of the United States. The report is so startling that I hope I may be allowed to read a short passage from the Preface. It says:
It should be no secret that the United States is in desperate danger of falling behind the Soviet Union in a critical field of competition—the life and death field of competition in the education and training of adequate numbers of scientists, engineers and technicians. Many warnings have been issued. but they have not sunk into the mind of the Government or Congress. I suggest that the time has come for strenuous measures, for action by the Government. by industry, by the universities, for what might be called a 'crash program' to increase swiftly and steadily the number of adequately trained American scientists and engineers.
That is somewhat strong, coming from the United States.
§ I should now like to give certain evidence that T have collected from the various missions that have been to Russia, to show why I, at any rate, am very frightened of the position. I will take the case of steel first. The story of the development of the steel industry in Russia is one of impressive and startling success. Two British missions from our steel industry have visited Russia within the last twelve months. Quite apart from their report, I have had some personal experience of the Russian achievements in steel, Noble Lords will be aware that the Indian Government have placed orders for three steel works. These orders have been placed in Germany, Russia and Britain respectively. We are informed that the Russians sent out a very strong team and quickly produced a first-rate specification which greatly impressed the Indian Government.
§ I naturally asked why the Russians were able to do this so quickly and so well. I do not say that ours will not be as good—it certainly will be—but they were quicker off the mark. The reason why they were able to do this is that Russia has in recent years been building or extending at an extraordinary rate steel plants with a capacity of about 3 429 million tons each year. Under her present five-year plan she is now proposing to bring into operation each year new or extended plants with a total output of no less than 5 million tons, with an additional capacity each year; so that in four years her new capacity will be practically equal to our present total capacity. The Ministry of Steel in Russia has a large designing staff which does nothing whatever except design steelworks; it has acquired immense experience and is clearly exceedingly efficient. I am informed by members of our missions that, as a result of their experience, the Russians have carried standardisation, and, to some extent, automation, a good deal further than we have. Starting a long way behind Britain before the war, by 1950 the Russians were well ahead of us; to-day their output is more than double our own, and by 1960 they plan to produce nearly three times as much as we propose to do.
§ I do not mean to suggest for one moment that our steel industry is not efficient; it undoubtedly is. The best British steel works are as well equipped as any in the world. But the scale and quality of the Russian building and Russian management have greatly impressed bath our missions. The head of the second mission (the report of the first mission has been printed) got rather moved when he was talking to me about it, and said that his visit was one of the most exhilarating experiences of his life; that the progress made and the calibre of the work "shook me to the core". He was one of the most experienced steel people in this country, and that was his first reaction. The second reaction was, "My God, what an example!" It is not only in steel that this sort of thing is happening. The fundamental drive in Russia is for heavy industry and steel, coal and electricity have all gone pretty well pari passu.
The recent mission under Lord Citrine examined electrical developments there, and I am exceedingly sorry that he is not here to-day to tell us what he saw. But the mission was just as impressed as all the others had been. In the electrical world the Russians are technically ahead in certain directions. They have larger turbines at work they have higher pressure boilers and higher voltage transmissions—all steps which we
shall be following in the course of the next few years. All these things are, of course, to make the finished products, and I will mention only two. The aeroplane world requires, probably, as high a degree of scientific and technical skill and engineering as any other product. A leading member of our mission tells me that the Russian achievement in this field, both civil and military. is comparable to that of the whole of the West. He said:
I met and talked with most of the leading aircraft and aero engine designers. I thought them all to be men of great agility, and they were enthusiastic about what they were doing. …It became apparent to me that they have the firm intention of competing in the world markets with their civil aircraft, and under their political system they will not find it difficult to offer them at very competitive prices.
In the nuclear field, Russia has, of course, manufactured the H-bomb. and fully held her own in what I. heard described the other day as the greatest technological development of all time. Indeed, authorities hold that Russia is actually on a parity with the whole of the West in this terrifying field. Behind all this engineering is, of course, research. Our scientists were recently shown an immense new nuclear machine, with a magnet weighing 36.000 tons, which will, when finished. be the biggest in the world. The responsible professor, when asked how much it cost, looked surprised and said that he had riot asked. Perhaps the noble Marquess the Lord President will note that. The professor had asked for the machine, and it had been provided without any question of cost. A professor in this country, who is in charge of the largest cyclotron, tells me:
It is quite evident that we in Britain are completely outclassed in this type of large-scale equipment, and that we shall soon be outclassed in experimental results…Talks with individual scientists showed that there is no lack of originality of thought, and that they can certainly compare, man for man, with our own scientists.
He went on—and this is interesting:
They seem to be a very individualistic set of people.
§ That is all the evidence I propose to give about Russia, and I think it is sufficient to show that in many aspects of heavy industry Russian production is two or three times as great as ours and the quality of the product about equal to, and in some cases better—though in others it is a bit worse—than ours. Their 431 plans for developing the steel industry are at the rate of about 10 per cent. a year, which is more than double the rate we have for developing ours.
§ How has Russia achieved these spectacular results? There is no doubt that one fundamental cause of her success has been the terrific concentration on the education of physicists and engineers. Indeed, the number of graduate engineers may be the best single measure of the heavy industry effort. The engineers who matter most are the university graduates, or those who have come up the hard way and have made themselves equivalent to university graduates. We have had 2,800 graduates a year from our universities in the last four or five years, not increasing at all, and perhaps another 4,000 who come up the hard way. making a total of not more than 7.000, whereas the Russian total is certainly 80,000 or more, and is increasing very fast indeed. Russia is producing twelve times as many graduates or graduate engineers as we are, and her population is four times ours. Therefore, she is producing three times as many graduates per thousand of the population as we do. Nor has Russia produced this large number of graduates by rushing them through their courses. Entirely the contrary. The university engineering courses in Russia are five and a half years long they work for ten months each year from the age of seventeen, after ten years at school. Our engineering course, as noble Lords know, is about three years, and it is the shortest in the world. It includes about half as many months of study as the Russian graduate has to put into his work.
§ I should like to say a few words about one of their engineering colleges. They have universities which do not do engineering. They have polytechnics and then, when the numbers got so large, they started mono-technics. One was described recently in Engineering by a British engineer. That was the Baumann Institute in Moscow, which has over 10.000 full-time students of mechanical engineering, a teaching staff of 700, about thirty chairs, including seven separate chairs studying different kinds of precision instruments. They have about as many professors of engineering as we have in this country, I suppose, and such is the prestige of engineering 432 that there are always several times more applicants than there are vacancies.
§ How has Russia achieved this remarkable educational success? I have tried to find out the chief methods by talking to everybody I could get hold of, and it seems to me that there are eight principal methods. The first is that for many years they have made education for heavy industry their primary objective. They have let nothing stand in the way of this aim, and they have ruthlessly disregarded all kinds of things that we cannot disregard—consumer goods, housing. and so on. They have made it absolutely priority No. 1. Backing up their determination to do this, they have spent money with the utmost freedom on everything necessary for the education of engineers, for buildings, equipment, scientific and technical staff in the schools, universities and technical colleges.
§ The next point is that the basic curriculum in the schools is scientific. Every student from the age of fourteen to seventeen spends 40 per cent. of his time on physics, chemistry and mathematics. The courses are broad, and there is little specialisation. Here, as noble Lords will agree, is one of our most difficult tasks —to convince our headmasters and our parents that science is an essential education for their children. I hope that other noble Lords will deal with that aspect.
§ Moreover, engineering is one of the best paid professions in Russia. The professors of engineering, in great contrast with the practice in this country, are better paid than those holding the highest posts in industry. Most of the able young people are going into science or engineering. Another factor is that they have no shortage of teachers. We in this country have a desperate shortage of science teachers, and America has possibly an even more desperate shortage. In Russia they have 250,000 science teachers, while we have about 20,000. In other words, they have about three times as many science teachers per thousand of the population as we have. This is secured by insuring that about one-fifth of the scientific graduates go back to teach in the schools or technical colleges. The pay and status of the science teachers in Russia is very high, and considerably higher, for example, than that of the medical profession.433
§ The sixth reason is that, in spite of the very large number of graduates in science and engineering, it is understood that all, or nearly all, are completely exempted from military service. The seventh is the interesting reason that in Russia women are used on. a large scale. About half the graduates in medicine and one-third of the graduates in engineering are women. There are 400.000 women engineers and technicians Our missions met several women professors of engineering, a status which no woman has attained in this country. One of them is Deputy Director of the Baumann institute. Finally, the eighth reason is that their industrial factories have close contacts with the technical institutions. That question, I hope, is going to be dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks. So far as I can judge, those are the reasons. I have no time to follow them up, but I hope other noble Lords will.
§ May I now turn to the question of what Britain has done, is doing or is promising to do to meet this challenge? As I have said, after the very rapid postwar expansion there was a lull until 1953. Then the first thing that happened was that the Government promised—arid we were all delighted to hear this—that £15 million would be spent on the Imperial College during the next ten years They went on to say that £6½million would be spent on developing engineering in the rest of the universities in the country. We were not particularly delighted by that. The latter can only be regarded as a miserable sum which I hope is being reconsidered. As chairman of the Council of Manchester University, 1 happen to know that the Government are, in fact, giving a lot of help and consideration to the development of technology in Manchester. The Lord President has himself taken a personal interest and given much help in this matter. Lord Woolton, who is Chancellor of the Manchester University, has also taken an active part in it, and I hope he may tell us something about what the developments are likely to be. Manchester and, Glasgow have been mentioned as the second and third places after the Imperial College. We do not like being second; but still, I suppose we shall have to accept it.
§ The second thing that has happened is the publication by the Ministry of Educa- 434 tion during the present year of a White Paper on technical education—an admirable White Paper, promising capital expenditure of £85,000,000 to develop technical education throughout the country. All the buildings are to be begun in the next five years. I am not dealing with technicians, simply because there is not time, but I hope that other noble Lords will do so. Technicians are vital as assistants to technologists and engineers, and a proportion of them become equivalent to graduates. I very much welcome this new and imaginative effort of the Ministry of Education.
§ The third thing is the publication of a report to the Lord President, Scientific and Engineering Manpower in Great Britain, which deals mainly with university graduates. This Report advises that the output of scientists and engineering graduates. now 10,000 a year, should be doubled in ten or fifteen years: that is to say, it should be increased to 20,000 per annum. That would mean another 30,000 engineers and scientists in the universities at any one time. Unfortunately, building and equipment for scientists and engineers are expensive. It would be almost certainly necessary for at least half these additional students to live in halls of residence. This would mean at least £100 million to be spent on buildings in the next ten years if that aim is to be satisfactorily achieved. I may say the Manpower Report calls this a minimum goal. Even so, there seems to me to be a little timidity about the Manpower Report, and I venture to hope that the programme will be completed in ten years rather than in fifteen years—the Report said "ten years or fifteen years"—and that the universities will be asked to provide the whole additional 10,000 graduates a year. Taken together, the recommendations of the Manpower Report and the Education White Paper mean an expenditure on technicians and technologists within the next decade, at present prices, of over £200 million.
§ May I make one point there? I hope nobody will think that carrying out the recommendations of the Manpower Report will turn our universities into tech-ideal institutions or even seriously upset. the balance. At present, 43 per cent. of the students are in the arts faculties. If we add 30.000 scientists and engineers, there would still be just under 40 per cent. of art students in the universities.435
§ My Lords, I have tried to show that our efforts in engineering education are, by common agreement, now dangerously inadequate in comparison with those of Russia. This is likely to affect us in three main ways. First, Russia has already entered the export market with almost explosive force; witness, her export of a £100 million steel plant to India and £150 million of munitions to Egypt. It will require the utmost efficiency on our part to hold our own. We have no raw materials to export; we have to export skill and knowledge, and it is only engineers who can put that skill and knowledge in a form for which other countries are prepared to pay. I should like to emphasise that parity with Russia is nothing like enough for us. We have to export enough goods, mainly products of engineering, to import food for half our population. Russia has not that problem. Even if we catch up, we shall still be behind in one sense.
§ The second important point, with which I know many noble Lords will sympathise, is that Russia will, with her immense supply of good engineers, be able to undertake technical aid to underdeveloped countries on a very large scale. It is reported that she has just sent a thousand engineers to Egypt. This may well have serious effects on our relations with under-developed countries. And thirdly, Russian engineers have developed her war potential to a degree which is frankly terrifying.
The only way to meet this challenge is to produce more graduate engineers and give them more responsibility. In our nationalised industries the engineers are somewhere well down below, except in one case in the Atomic Energy Authority top-level scientists and engineers were appointed to tackle the matter and were given high salaries. high priority, almost unlimited resources and almost unlimited freedom. The job was an exciting one and carried great prestige. The result, as we all know, has been an outstanding success. Indeed, the supply of power to the grid from Calder Hall is held by many to be Britain's greatest post-war success. The scientific and engineering team has proved that, given the right conditions, which are very like the Russian conditions, British scientists and engineers can do as well or better than those of any other country. Sir Edward Appleton said the other day:
We must certainly count Calder Hall as an engineering rather than a scientific triumph.
There is a saying current in Whitehall circles that "scientists and engineers should be on tap, not on top." That has been the custom in this country. But in the Atomic Energy Authority they have been put on top for the first time, with outstandingly good results. In Russia the scientists are at or near the top. In a few of the greatest British technical firms, scientists are on top and are most successful. A leading industrial engineer said to me the other day:
I have always been an optimist. Now, for the first time, I am a pessimist. We shall not compete in the heavy metal industries with our chief competitors unless we make an effort, on a scale comparable with the best in other countries, to educate far larger numbers of scientists and engineers. And unless we greatly improve the status of scientists and engineers, and give them the kind of opportunity and support they have received in the Atomic Energy Authority.
Now, my Lords, I have said that the United States Atomic Energy Commission has demanded a "crash programme" by the Government, by industry and by the universities. Our two White Papers, one dealing with technical colleges and one with universities, could hardly be called a "crash programme", but they are a good start, so long as they are vigorously and successfully implemented, and so long as it is clearly understood that they are only a start. I realise that in pressing the Government in this matter I am speaking to the converted. Apart from the admirable speech the Lord President made during our last debate, Sir Winston Churchill said in December last:
In engineering education we are already surpassed by Russia on a scale which is most alarming. In the last ten years the Soviet higher technical education for mechanical engineering has been developed, both in numbers and in quality, to an extent which far exceeds anything we have achieved. This is a matter which needs the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government.
And early this year the present Prime Minister said:
The prizes will not go to the countries with the largest population. Those with the best systems of education will win. If we are to make full use of what we are learning, we shall need many more scientists, engineers and technicians. I am determined that this shortage shall be made good.
§ In conclusion, I would say this. The Government have declared what seems to me a bold policy for technical colleges for the next five years, but they have not yet 437 announced their expansion proposals for the universities. I have suggested that we ought to spend within the next ten years at least £100 million of capital on the universities, or £10 million a year—and I am not at all sure that that is enough. But the important thing is not exactly how much is spent, but that the nation, led by the Government, should determine to do the job with the same resolution as we showed at Calder Hall, and that we should prove that democracy, once it makes up its mind, can tackle a job of this kind at least as well as any autocracy. May I express the fervent hope that the Lord President will assure us that this great task of training engineers and scientists will be undertaken in this spirit. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 2.43 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, no one, I am sure, in any quarter of the House, will question the fact that this debate is of the first importance: important because of the nature and the urgency of the problem with which it deals: important, too, because of the high distinction of those who are taking part in it. I do not suppose that any other assembly in the world could produce so authoritative a body of opinion, scientific, industrial, financial or administrative, as is represented by the names on the list of speakers that is before us this afternoon. I feel that we all owe a very real debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, for tabling his Motion; and personally, if I may say so, owe him most sincere thanks for letting me know the particular points he wished to raise on what is inevitably a vast and extremely complicated subject.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, in his opening speech, has been good enough to remind your Lordships that, when we were debating the subject of technological education in this House just two years ago, I said that this was a matter of "life and death". I certainly would not claim that I was the only speaker who then sounded that note. There were, even at that time, other noble Lords with knowledge of the facts, who spoke even more strongly than I. But, whatever we said then, it is cer- 438 tain, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has reminded us this afternoon, that to-day not only this House but a great many people in the country as a whole realise fully how vital this matter is. One can hardly open the newspapers without seeing articles on such subjects as our need for scientists and engineers, possible ways and means of increasing their numbers, with special reference to what other countries are doing: and it is significant that, in this winter's series of Reith Lectures on the B.B.C., so great an authority as Sir Edward Appleton has made this theme his principal concern.
But it is equally true that this subject of "Scientific and Engineering Manpower in Great Britain" (to use the title of the latest Report on the subject), though it occupies to-day so much of the public mind, has acquired its present importance in the minds of most of us only during the post-war years. War, as always, stimulated scientific inquiry and discovery; and Governments have, since 1945, increasingly taken care to keep themselves well informed on the subject through such bodies as the Barlow Committee, the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, and its Committee an Scientific Manpower; and the action which has been taken, to which I hope to refer in rather greater detail later on, has flowed to a considerable degree from the recommendations of such bodies. They have helped, too, to build up a public awareness of the vital importance of the problem, and a general consciousness that adequate numbers of properly trained scientists and especially (arid in this I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe) engineers are essential for the maintenance and improvement of this country's present economic position, in view of the increasing technological and industrial challenge which we are having to meet from abroad.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, started his speech this afternoon by emphasising, and rightly emphasising, the formidable magnitude and success of what I think he called the great engineering achievement of Russia. Certainly, the last thing I want to do is to contest in any way his point that Russian industrial power has increased, and is at present still increasing. My own information bears out very much what 439 the noble Lord has said. I am told that the Russian five-year plan for 1956-60 implies a rise of 65 per cent. in gross industrial production, and while I understand that the statistical basis of Russian claims is not always entirely reliable, we ought not, in my view, to dismiss a rise of just over 10 per cent. a year, which I think was the figure mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, as an over-optimistic goal for the future, in view of previous Russian achievements in this particular field.
It is also, I am afraid, true that in a good many fields the total output of Russian heavy industry is already well ahead of that of the United Kingdom. But this is not, after all, surprising. Given the size of Russia, its population and its resources, it was surely inevitable that she should overtake us in absolute figures of production. That is a thing which could not altogether be avoided. On the other hand, it would be a great mistake to imagine that this very high rate of expansion can or will go on for ever. The rapid increase in this industrial labour force of Russia that was needed to achieve this advance has, I am told, been built up largely at the expense of the consumer and of agriculture. This is now beginning to have its inevitable effect, and the claims of agriculture for more attention is one of the factors which may well slow down the rate of industrial expansion in Russia in the future.
For all these reasons, though we should. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, be very unwise to minimise in any way the immense industrial advance that is taking place in Russia, I suggest that we need not take too gloomy a view. For not only is her production, so I understand, even in the fields of her greatest achievement, still well below ours per head of the population, but there are also, as I have explained, factors which seem to indicate a possible slowing down in Russia's rate of expansion. At the same time, I have no doubt that the noble Lord's emphasis on the Russian progress in steel and electricity is wholly justified, and it would be quite wrong for us to attempt to belittle these achievements. Russia, make no mistake my Lords, has made remarkable, even, one might say, giant, strides.
440 However, that is not to say that we should fall into the common British error of praising only what is done, say, in Russia and elsewhere, and minimising our own remarkable achievements in the same fields. As the noble Lord recognises, steel is one example where we can take very real pride in our post-war achievement. During the ten years 1946 to 1956, as the House knows, our production of pig iron and of crude steel increased respectively by 60 per cent. and 64 per cent.; and this has been done with only a 5 per cent. increase, between 1948 and 1955, in the labour force of the industry—a very remarkable performance. Moreover, the expansion of the electricity industry in this country since the war has also been very spectacular, with an increase of more than 91 per cent. in the amount of electricity generated between 1946 and 1955. What is more, an increase in technical efficiency has gone hand in hand with this great expansion; for I believe that the 91 per cent. increase in electricity generated has been achieved with less than a 10 per cent. increase in fuel consumed. Nor must we forget that the opening of Calder Hall, to which the noble Lord referred, puts us ahead of the whole world in the full-scale production of power from atomic energy. I should like, if I may, as the Minister totally connected with that institution, to thank the noble Lord most warmly on behalf of the Atomic Energy Authority, for the tribute he paid to this outstanding achievement.
However, my Lords, these figures of Russian and British production, impressive though they are are not of themselves as I am sure Lord Simon of Wythenshawe will agree, the main theme of our discussion. They are only what the French call the entrée en matière. They are merely quoted by all of us to show how intense already is the competition which this country is going to have to meet in the new scientific and technological age into which we are now moving.
The main purpose of the noble Lord's Motion, as I understand it, is to discuss how best we can equip ourselves to meet this challenge, especially from Russia; and his central point is that this formidable expansion of Russian industry is supported by, and, indeed, is only made possible by, an intense educational effort 441 —particularly in the production of engineers. This central point is, to my mind, if I might say so with all deference, indisputable, and I hope that one result of this debate will be to get it even more clearly and widely understood in the country as a whole than it is at present.
The particular figure quoted by the noble Lord of the annual output of professional engineers in Russia—that is, engineers with what one might call graduate qualifications—is some 80,000 per annum. I gather that the figure which is given in the Appendix to the Government's White Paper on Technical Education, published early in this year, is 60,000. But whichever figure is more accurate—and I believe that there arc some numbers included in the one calculation which were absent from the other —it is an extremely high one, both absolutely and per million of the population, by comparison with the United Kingdom, the rest of Western Europe and the United States of America.
A point which is, I think, clearly more difficult to assess is whether the Russian educational programme in engineering will continue to expand at its present rate. On the basis of recent entries, the number of engineers graduating in Russia in 1960 should, I believe, be about 90,000; but I am told that there are indications that the Russians do not intend to advance beyond this extremely formidable figure, and that they may be intending to stabilise the rate of full-time output of graduate engineers at this figure of 90,000 per annum. At the same time, however, we have information that a rapid increase is taking place in their part-time evening and correspondence courses in engineering at the higher institutes. The so-called "technicums" in Russia, to which Lord Simon of Wythenshawe referred in his speech, are also, I gather, being greatly expanded. They, however, I understand, produce technicians of a considerably lower level who cannot fairly be compared with professional engineers.
Both the facts and figures of the Russian achievement in the production of higher level engineers are certainly most impressive, and from our point of view, of course, most formidable. The reality behind the figures has been brought home to us, as the noble Lord has said, by many sources—I would mention, in 442 particular, a delegation of leading British mechanical engineers which recently went to Russia, and a similar Russian delegation which came to this country, as well as other bodies to which the noble Lord referred. From all we have heard from them and from other sources, there emerges a picture of a booming engineering industry, supported by a massive educational programme.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has given us to-day a number of reasons for the Russians' outstanding success in this field. Most of these, if I may say so, seem to me beyond dispute, though I am told that the provision of suitable buildings is far short of what is needed, and that most of the engineering training has to be clone in double shifts. I do not know if that is the noble Lord's information, but it is certainly ours. Apart from particular devices, such as the wholesale exemption of science and technology graduates from military service, mentioned by the noble Lord, which for many reasons is would, I am afraid, be impracticable in this country, his points can, I think, be summed up in the general proposition that science and engineering in Russia are a top priority in every sense; that those employed in these fields, including teachers and professors, are given especially high payment, and that, altogether, engineering enjoys an almost unrivalled prestige.
At the same time, my Lords, wonderful though the Russian success has undoubtedly been, I believe that in considering our own programme of scientific and technical education here in this country we should make a great mistake if we rushed to the conclusion that the solution of our own problems necessarily lies in. trying to follow their example slavishly, either in scale or in pattern. The criterion for this country must surely be the number of scientists and engineers that we need here, and not the level of the output in Russia. Indeed, in deploying our brain power, if I may coin such a phrase, we might do serious harm to the national economy as a whole if we tried to model our plans in this particular sphere on those of another country, whose needs and conditions are inevitably quite different from ours.
And what, in fact, are our needs?—because that is the vital question. As I said earlier, it seems to me that the 443 adequacy of our efforts can be fairly assessed only by relating them to the best estimate we can make of our own needs for scientists and engineers; and in making this estimate, we can only count ourselves extremely fortunate in having, in the Report on Scientific and Engineering Manpower, an up-to-date picture of the situation in this country. That Report, as your Lordships already know, was published quite a short time ago by the Ministry of Labour and the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, and it is a Report which I expect some, at any rate, of your Lordships have already had time to study. I believe that the Report is of the first value in giving us both the most accurate and the most up-to-date information of the total number and distribution of qualified scientists and engineers now in employment in Great Britain and also a careful estimate of the likely trend in the future demand for qualified scientists and engineers. Perhaps I should make clear that the term "qualified" in this connection has a special meaning; it covers people with a university degree or equivalent qualifications and also others, mainly engineers, who, although they have no university degree, have normally passed through a technical college and later become graduate or corporate members of a main professional institution, such as the Institutions of Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
The first half of the Report to which I have just referred was based on a questionnaire sent out to firms and other employers, and the statistics of the present distribution of qualified scientists and engineers which have been obtained are extremely interesting. The first point that emerges is that the total numbers at present employed are estimated in round figures at some 56,000 scientists and 78,000 engineers; that is, about 6 per cent. of our working population. The corresponding figures for Russia and the United States of America are thought to be .85 per cent. and 1.2 per cent. respectively of the working population. Another striking feature of our figures is the concentration of this skilled manpower in a relatively few industrial groups. Very nearly two-thirds of the 48,800 qualified scientists and engineers employed in our manufacturing industries are in industrial groups which ac- 444 count for only three-tenths of the total employees in industry—namely, chemicals, electrical engineering, aircraft construction and the manufacture of certain plant and machinery.
Finally, the actual proportion of. scientists and engineers to the total number of employees varies widely from one industry to another, as one might well expect, from just over five per cent. in the mineral oil refining industry to less than one-half per cent. in the great industries of shipbuilding and motor manufacture, and a yet smaller proportion—onequarter per cent.—under the Transport Commission. I do not suggest that there is anything necessarily wrong or even surprising about that, for, of course, conditions inevitably vary widely from industry to industry, and obviously there is no standardised proportion of scientists and technologists which it would be right to apply to them all. At the same time. I would suggest. most diffidently, that each and every industry would be wise to consider most carefully the implications for itself of the figures of the distribution of scientific manpower revealed in this Report.
But our chief interest in the Report, so far as the debate this afternoon is concerned, must be the picture it gives of the future. This has been based both on figures obtained from the employers of their estimated requirements in three years' time, and also on projections by the Scientific Manpower Committee of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy of the probable requirements of industry in 1966 and 1970. I do not propose this afternoon to enter into the technical details of these calculations, which are set out in the Report. Many noble Lords who are here this afternoon will, I am sure, be able to speak of them with far more authority than I possibly could. But I should like to say a few words about the conclusions to which the Report comes.
The first conclusion is that over the next ten years—that is to say, by 1966—we shall need an increase of rather more than 60 per cent. in the national stock of scientists and engineers. Projecting this forward to 1970 and translating it into terms of the annual output which is likely to be required by then, the Committee have reached the conclusion that the annual flow of persons qualified in 445 pure and applied science from the universities and technical colleges will have to increase from the present level of some 10.000 a year to about 20,000 a year in 1970. In ether words, we shall have to double our output over the next fifteen years.
I should perhaps mention that the figures include a reasonable allowance for such factors as emigration, the training of students from overseas, and so on. And this is clearly right, for, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, very properly pointed out, our place in the world must depend, among other things, on our capacity to train engineers from —and supply our own engineers to—the undeveloped areas of the world. I am afraid that it has not proved possible to separate these totals to which I have referred into annual requirements of scientists as distinct from engineers. For not only do these categories overlap at many points, as everybody who studies these matters will know, but, as I am sure noble Lords will agree, he would be a very bold man who tried now to define the relationship of these two classes ten years ahead. I think the most that can be said is that the increase in output that we shall need is likely to be much greater for those trained in engineering than in the basic sciences. I think that hears out a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe.
I think that is all I need say of the Report except that it amply confirms what the noble Lord has so rightly emphasised: that it is in the field of applied sciences, and in particular in the different branches of engineering, that our country's need is likely to be most acute. What we need, above all, and we shall need it increasingly, is an ample supply of highly trained engineers who can translate into industrial terms the discoveries of the pure scientists.
I should like now to turn to the actual steps which Her Majesty's Government are taking to meet the increasing requirements for scientists and engineers to which I have just referred. May I say straight away, speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that it is our firm determination that our universities and technical colleges shall together be in a position to produce at least the number of 20,000 qualified scientists and engineers per annum which, as I have just explained, the Report of the Com- 446 mittee on Scientific Manpower estimates that we shall need by 1970. My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is making clear in another place to-day that this is the intention of Her Majesty's Government.
This leads me to the point which is, I am sure, already well known to many noble Lords, and which has indeed been implied in much of what has already been said this afternoon: that whereas most of our highest level scientists obtain their qualifications—namely, a degree—at one of the universities, our highest level technologists and engineers come from two sources, the universities and the technical colleges. Perhaps your Lordships will now allow me to say something about the development of both these sources. I will try to be as brief as I can: and, first, I should like to say a word about the technical colleges.
Noble Lords will remember that in February last Her Majesty's Government published a White Paper. Technical Education, which set out a massive programme for the expansion of the technical colleges. This is, of course, in this country. a major development in the field of engineering education. What progress has been made so far? We have initiated a five-year building programme of £70 million in England and Wales and of £10 million in Scotland. Already over £40 million worth of the programme for England and Wales has been approved, and this amount will be started on the site before April, 1959. The programme for 1959-60 will be announced next Spring. In addition, there is £18.7 million worth of building approved in programmes up to 1955-56—which is outside the White Paper programme—but not yet completed. These figures compare with the total of £23.6million worth of new building for technical colleges completed since the end of the war. In Scotland, building projects for technical education, excluding universities, to a value of £1½million are at present under construction, and the value of projects which are already planned to start within the next four to five years is about £8 million. This future programme includes many new local technical colleges (at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Aberdeen, Dundee and elsewhere) which indicates, I think, that education authorities in Scotland are determined to make good any deficiencies of facilities at the lower levels. It 447 is here, I understand, that Scotland's technical education system has most need for expansion and for full support from both sides of industry.
A main feature of the Government plan is that a major part in increasing the number of professional engineers will be played by the newly created colleges of advanced technology. There are, as some of your Lordships will know, certain colleges in England and Wales which have already built up a large volume of advanced work. What the Government are doing is to pick these out and arrange for them to concentrate entirely on such work. We hope, too, that these colleges will increase their post-graduate studies, which are already of high quality in some cases, and develop a strong line in applied research and consulting work. Eight such colleges have already been provisionally designated. Three of these designations have been confirmed (Battersea, Birmingham and Salford), and others will be confirmed shortly. All those concerned with these colleges are, I believe, responding with great vigour to their new opportunities, and when the buildings are complete the capacity of the colleges of advanced technology will in this way, I believe, have been doubled. We think this new development will be a most significant one. In Scotland, the central technological institutions, such as the Royal College of Science and Technology at Glasgow, are already well established, as your Lordships know, in advanced work. But, my Lords, these are by no means the only technical colleges from which professional engineers are produced. Many others already have a high record in this respect and they will be expected to continue to contribute substantially towards the expansion.
That brings me to the question of what are known as "sandwich courses". The Government hope that many of the additional numbers of engineers will be educated by the use of this device. The idea is that, in these courses, young people shall work for alternating periods of, say six months in the technical college and then six months in the factory; and that in this way they will secure that continuity of study which is impossible in day release courses or evening classes. Courses of this kind are, I understand, now strongly favoured 448 by industry, and I am glad to say that their number has risen from 103 in 1955 to 168 in the current session. Possibly some of those noble Lords who are connected with industry will be able to say something about them later in the debate.
It is of course vital that the professional engineers, who are produced at our technical colleges should be able to receive an award of the highest academic rank, otherwise they do not command the same posts as they otherwise would. Some noble Lords will no doubt already know that the National Council for Technological Awards, which sits under the chairmanship of Lord Hives, has been set up to administer such awards, and that the first of these—the diploma in technology—has already been established. I am told that the standard required for the holders of this diploma will be very high—broadly equivalent to a university honours degree. I am very glad to be able to tell your Lordships to-day that the first batch of applications for the approval of courses leading to this award are already being considered by Lord Hives' Council. So genuine and practical progress is being made.
My Lords, this plan for the development of the technical colleges, of course, raises, in an acute form, the question of teachers. As the Government recognise in the White Paper, many more teachers will be required at technical colleges to achieve these objectives, and, as a result of a recent Burnham award, substantial increases of salary—of the general order of 25 per cent.—for technical college teachers in England and Wales came into force on October 1 last. In Scotland also, technical college teachers have received substantial increases in the past year. It is, of course, much too early as yet to assess what the result of these increases will be; but, it can at any rate, I think, be said that teaching in technical colleges is now a profession which offers to able men and women financial awards which are fairly comparable to the opportunities open to them elsewhere. Such is the programme of technical college expansion on which the Government have embarked. I hope the House will agree both that it is massive in itself and that it is being pushed forward with commendable speed.
And now, if noble Lords will bear with me for yet a few more minutes (I 449 know that l am trying the House rather highly with this very long speech, but it is an important statement on Government policy), I should like to turn to the other side of the development of higher scientific and technological education—I refer of course to the universities of which Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has spoken. The noble Lord has already mentioned the great expansion that took place here immediately after the war, following on the recommendation of the Barlow Committee. As a result of this expansion, as your Lordships know, the output of science graduates was more than doubled.
The noble Lord who opened the debate has called your Lordships' attention to the fact that during the years 1950 to 1955 the published figures show no further increase in the output of engineering graduates, and he has drawn from that, as I understood it, the deduction that, after the first post-war expansion, successive Governments have sat back and done nothing for ten years. It would. of course, in my view at any rate, be fallacious to argue that because our educational system was able to make one great spurt to meet exceptional developments after the war it ought to be able to keep up something like the same pace permanently. One might as well say that the fact that a man can run a hundred yards in ten seconds is proof that he ought to be able to keep up the same pace over a mile or two miles or three miles. But that, as we all know, is not true. On the contrary, I should have thought that the more intensive the effort he makes, the greater the necessity that it should be followed by some breathing space. And that is, I am sure, as true of institutions as of men. After any great effort there must be some time for consolidation.
The facts are that the number of students graduating in science and technology at the universities rose to a peak in 1950–51, and has since fallen. This was a reflection of a temporary reduction in the total number of students at the universities. The fall in the number of students taking first degrees in arts was, proportionately, even greater than in science and technology. The decline in the number of first degrees on the science and technological side, I suggest. was not a sign of stagnation but simply marked the end of the post-war phase during which 450 the universities were swollen by the backlog of students coming out of the Forces. I am glad to assure the noble Lord that this downward trend has now been reversed. Our own experience compares very favourably with that of the United States. where the fall in graduate output after the post-war expansion has been very much larger.
So far as the present Government are concerned, they had already begun plans for expansion as far back as 1952—plans which are, of course, only now maturing. The history of this further expansion, which the present Government have fostered, starts in February, 1952, when, in announcing the current grants to universities rising during the five years, 1952-57, front £20 million to £25 million, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right honourable friend Mr. Butler, said that, in making some provision for development as well as for the rising expenditure to which the universities were already committed, he had particularly in mind the need for progress in science and technology. Soon afterwards the Government reached the conclusion that special measures were necessary to improve technological education both in the universities and in technical colleges.
In January, 1953, therefore, the Government announced that they proposed to make resources available to double the number of students at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. I may add that the number of students there has already risen from 1,650 to 2,250. In July of the same year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer invited the University Grants Committee, in consultation with the universities concerned, also to work out schemes for the development of higher technological education outside London, and the result was the Government's announcement, in December, 1954, of plans providing not only for the massive expansion of Imperial College but also for major developments at Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham—the developments of technology at Glasgow and Manchester being based on the Colleges of Science and Technology in those cities, as well as on the universities. They also provided developments on a fairly large scale at Cambridge, Sheffield and Bristol, and specialised developments at other centres in the country, some financed by industry 451 and some by Treasury grant, of which the more notable are at Edinburgh, Newcastle, Southampton, Nottingham and Swansea.
Finally, in June, 1956, only four months ago, the Lord Privy Seal announced the Government's decision to authorise further buildings for science and technology, to be started in 1957, at an estimated cost of £4,300,000, exclusive of equipment. The institutions which will benefit number twelve, and cover Scotland and Wales as well as England. They include three (the University of Liverpool, University College, London, and Queen Mary College, London) which were not mentioned in the Government statement of December, 1954.
So much for the special measures taken to develop technological studies in the universities. But, within the last few months, the Government have also been giving consideration to the whole question of the expansion of the universities in the future, in order to meet that greatly increased demand for university education which is bound to arise during the next decade as a result of the increased size of the age groups from which the university population is being increasingly drawn. This is, of course, a much wider question than that raised in the Motion, and I do not want to go further into it to-day, except to say that it seems to us impossible, viewing the matter over the next ten years, to consider the education of scientists and technologists at universities without taking some account of the more general problem.
While our consideration of this subject is not complete. we have already reached certain conclusions. These conclusions, which are being announced in similar terms in another place to-day by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, are as follows:
§ "I should like to make a statement on the Government's plans to meet the greatly increased demand for university education which will arise during the next decade, and the acknowledged national need for more university trained scientists and technologists. The universities have already made proposals to the University Grants Committee which, taken together, would increase the number of students from 84.000 in the academic year 1955–56 to 452 106,000 by the mid-1960's. Of this increase, it is expected that about two-thirds would study science or technology.
§ "This increase could not be met without building much new accommodation of all types. The Government are convinced that this is a sound, long-term investment, and accordingly the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given authority for university building projects up to the value of £10,400.000 to be started in 1957, £12 million in 1958, and a further £12 million in 1959, over and above the large sums required for the expansion of Imperial College. These amounts are instalments of what will be needed over a longer term, and they compare with starts of £4,800,000 for the current year, which means that the present rate of starts is to be more than doubled.
§ "But, large though this increase is, the Government believe that the universities should be encouraged to expand even more. The University Grants Committee have advised that a larger expansion would be desirable. if resources can be made available. They would like to invite the universities to consider still further expansion to meet national needs. The Government are giving further thought to this in consultation with the Committee.
§ "It is certainly our intention to ensure that the universities and the technical colleges will together be able to produce at least the number of qualified scientists and engineers recently estimated to be needed over the next ten to fifteen years by the Committee on Scientific Manpower."
§ That, my Lords, is the Financial Secretary's statement, and, as your Lordships will see, it is a pretty far-reaching one.
§ And now, perhaps your Lordships will be glad to hear. I have done. I can only apologise for having kept the House so long; but I felt that your Lordships would want the fullest information I could give. For this problem, as I said two years ago, is a matter of life and death to our highly-populated country, and on our success or failure in solving it our survival must depend.453
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, the noble Marquess need not have apologised to the House for the time he has taken in making the speech. This is a most vital subject, aid we greatly appreciate the facts that he has given us and the time he has taken in presenting these facts to the House. My noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, who introduced the debate, has a number of qualifications which fully entitled him to speak on this subject with the greatest: possible authority. He is an eminent engineer, an industrialist and an educationist. I am afraid that I cannot fit myself into the part which the noble Marquess allotted to subsequent speakers, as one who can speak with authority on some aspect of the subject, but I feel that there ought to be a word from a layman, who is not an authority on any of these matters, giving his impression of the problem which confronts us.
One fact comforted me greatly, and it is that there is no dispute between the startling facts submitted by my noble friend and the facts which were given by the noble Marquess. We start on common ground: that there is not only a tremendous need for scientists and technologists, but also that the Soviet Union and the United States of America are far ahead of us at the present time and are expanding much more rapidly than we are. I should have liked to hear something about the situation in other countries: for instance, Germany and Japan, industrial countries which are developing their resources possibly as rapidly as the Soviet Union. After all, our future depends on competition not only with Russia but with these other countries as well; and the comparison which my noble friend made with Russia could equally be made with the progress that has been achieved in scientific and technological training in these other countries. But if we take Russia alone, the position is sufficiently grave.
The noble Marquess, having accepted, broadly, tie gravity of the situation, and, I think, not really disputing the progress that is being made in the Soviet Union, has given his view and that of the Government as to what lessons we are to learn from the enormous progress that is being made in Russia. I am somewhat comforted to have that view of the noble 454 Marquess and the Government, that it is not really necessary that we should multiply our numbers of scientists and technologists to the same degree as is the position in Russia, and to the same degree as will obtain. Because we must remember that it is not sufficient merely for us, if we are going to try to equalise with Russia, to multiply our numbers by four, which would take some time, but that while we are doing it Russia will be continuing to increase her numbers and we should have to multiply by a higher figure even than four. However, it is some comfort to find that the noble Marquess, who I know has devoted a great deal of anxious time and thought to this question, does not take the view that we must increase our numbers of scientists and technologists in the same proportion as has been the ease in Russia. If that were the case, we should be up against an almost impossible task.
It is not easy to follow an important statement such as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has made and to deal with it straight away, but I should like to know—and 1 am sure the House would —upon what basis the actual numbers that have been decided upon for the increase have been arrived at. Are we all satisfied that if we could increase the number of scientists and technologists by 100 per cent. in the next ten years, which is what we are aiming at, it would meet the case? I confess that t have some doubts, but I do not want to press them against the views of those who are better equipped to express a view. I shall listen with great interest to the eminent speakers ho are to follow me to get their view whether the programme which the noble Marquess has put before us is adequate to meet the case. I want to assure your Lordships that in this matter no Party question is involved. We all have exactly the same objective of wanting to assure ourselves that everything that is possible is being done, and the Government. can be quite sure that they will get every possible encouragement and support from this side of the House, as is evident by the fact that my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has raised the subject.
Assuming that the programme is considered to be adequate, I should like to express a layman's doubt as to where the students are to come from. Are the Government satisfied that we shall get the students in the numbers and of the 455 quality that we require? There is no doubt that recently, and going back some years, science has been somewhat of a Cinderella. Take the question of the secondary schools and the Education Act, 1944, under which there were three streams of education after the age of eleven—namely, the grammar school, the secondary school and the technical school. There is no doubt that the brightest children went to the grammar school—indeed, they were so selected—the next brightest went to the secondary school, and the boys who were not so bright as the others were sent to the technical school. We have to make a change there. It is only if we can get a new outlook that we shall get the brightest children attending the technical school. In order to do that, we have to satisfy the parents, as well as instil a new outlook in the teachers in the schools. I do not profess to be able to give the answer as to how that can be done; but that it has to be done I have no doubt.
There is no question that, even at the present time, most parents who have ambitions for their child are prepared to make of him a barrister or a solicitor, a stockbroker, a Lloyd's underwriter, or put him in some profession like those. where the work is clean and where the profits are supposed to be considerable, rather than that he should become a technician, an engineer or something of that sort. If one considers what one's own friends do with their children, one asks how many of them encourage their children, if they have ability, to become technologists or scientists? Of course, a certain number do, especially where the child shows a particular aptitude in science; but, by and large, most parents at the present time prefer the professions to the sciences.
We must arrive at a new conception of status and prestige among the public and make them feel that it is at least as honourable to he a technologist as it is to be a stockbroker. That will want skilful publicity and education of parents. I do not think it is entirely a matter even of remuneration or prospects, but is largely a question of prestige. If we can raise the prestige of the technologists and the scientists. I am sure that that will go a long way. I think something has been done, as my noble friend Lord Simon of 456 Wythenshawe remarked, by the status that has been given to those engaged in the Calder Hall project. That is something which has brought about a considerable amount of enthusiasm for science. But we have to do a good deal more: we have to bring that home to the schools and to the teachers, who also tend to encourage their brightest children to go into the grammar schools, which are regarded as the roads to professions.
Once we have got the brightest children engaged in this work, then there is the problem, to which the noble Marquess referred, of teachers. Whether the remuneration of the teacher to-day, as settled by the recent Burnham Committee Award, is sufficient to attract teachers away from industry, I do not know. I would express some doubts myself whether the increase which the Burnham Committee have awarded is sufficient. Unfortunately, we cannot get away from the fact that the rewards and the prospects of industry are so much greater than the rewards offered to teachers that it is only people who have a real vocation for teaching who will enter into it, or people who are not likely to be successful in industry. We have to look again and satisfy ourselves that the people who are rendering this tremendous service to the community in teaching the future technologists and scientists are getting the status, as well as the rewards, to which they are entitled.
The noble Marquess, in referring to the channels along which we shall get our technologists and scientists, referred to the technical institutes and the universities. But there is one other method that we ought not to ignore, and that is what is called among industrialists "the hard way". Those who take that way are the people who become apprentices, who work their way up and who eventually rise to the top. It would be a great mistake not to give the fullest possible encouragement to that method of recruitment to technology and science. Unfortunately, here again a great deal of encouragement and propaganda has to be carried out to persuade parents that it is in the best interests of the child to allow him to be trained for five years as an apprentice and to earn less money during that period than if he went into industry immediately after leaving school as an unskilled person. It may 457 be necessary for the Government to introduce some method of making up to the apprentices who need it some of their loss of earnings, so that the parents can afford to keep them as apprentices for that period. I am told that some of the most eminent people in industry started as apprentices, worked their way up, and became highly skilled technologists and scientists.
There is another suggestion I should like to make. In view of the shortage of teachers and the difficulty of inducing many of our best people to go in for teaching, is it not possible to make some arrangement with the Federation of British Industries by which industry will lend some of their technologists and scientists on a part-time basis for the purpose of training? The noble Marquess referred to the sandwich courses, which I think are very promising indeed. I am hopeful that they will be extended and that a good deal will come of it. But is it not possible to get this idea of cooperation with industry extended by getting them to create certain classes, or to lend some of their teachers and some of their scientists, and so on?
§ LORD SILKIN
I was not aware of that, but if that is so, then all I would plead is that it should be extended. The only other suggestion I should like to make is this. Would it not be a good thing if we had a rather more comprehensive investigation into the whole subject? First, what is the number we really need? I gather that a committee has already reported on that matter, but I do not know whether they had before them all the facts which my noble friend has been able to give about what is being done in other countries, and so on. Secondly, would it not be worth while looking again to try to formulate some programme as to the number of scientists and technologists that we need, and also to make a wide survey of the possibilities of securing both the students and the teachers for that purpose?
I appreciate that a beginning has been made with the provision of buildings and equipment. That, if I may say so, is probably the simplest part of the undertaking, although I admit it requires a good deal of money. It is the personnel who are going to be our difficulty. If we 458 can only secure a proportion of the best brains of the country to enter the scientific and technological field, then I think we shall be going a long way towards achieving our purpose.
I wish to conclude by expressing the view, with which I am sure every speaker who is to follow me will agree, that this subject is of vital importance. But I hope that we shall not forget the humanities. I hope we shall not begin to specialise on science at so early an age that we neglect the cultural side of life and those other things which are so precious and which make life worth living. None of us wants our nation to become a nation of robots. We want to live happily, and lead a full life. The object of science and the possibilities of science are going to enable us to do this; but this development must riot take place at the expense of culture.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ LORD WEEKS
My Lords, this is the first occasion upon which I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships, and I would therefore ask for your indulgence in anything I may say or the way in which I may say it. I certainly do not claim to be an expert on this vital subject, and any remarks that I can nake are based, first, on my experience in the National Advisory Council for Industry and Commerce, which advises the Minister of Education, and of which I was chairman for eight years, up to midsummer; secondly, on a very recent experience as a member of the committee of what is known as the Industrial Lund for the Advancement of Scientific Education in Schools; and, thirdly, and perhaps the most important, on forty-five years' experience in industry, in which I myself started as a graduate scientific trainee.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, who introduced this subject, spoke with convincing clarity on figures and facts, comparing the situations in the United Kingdom and in Russia. I do not want to enter into much in the matter of figures. I should like to emphasise the quotation he made from the sub-committee of the United States Atomic Energy Committee; if America is frightened of what is happening in Russia and is asking for a "crash programme", it needs some imagination to coin a word to describe the sort of programme that we must envisage for ourselves. I can confirm, from sources 459 of my own information, what he says about the progress of certain industries in Russia. Quite apart from their enormous expansion in teaching and output of engineers, there is no reason to believe that Russia is lacking in quality. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House has already given us certain answers to some of the questions some noble Lords may have intended to ask this afternoon. He nailed his colours to the mast two years ago, and I do not think he has pulled the flag down to-day.
To turn from that, let me go straight to the White Paper of the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland, which came out earlier this year. I am a little worried whether the plan set out in the White Paper will, in fact, give the answer. I believe that it has been a good move to differentiate the functions of the various types of technical colleges, with an ascending standard of work, with appropriate teaching staff, and buildings, to the apex (at present) of eight colleges of advanced technology. By providing, for more local colleges and by providing for branch colleges to relieve many major colleges of their less advanced work, the basis of the system has undoubtedly been improved. We now have our four tiers defined; local colleges, area colleges, regional colleges and advanced colleges. I want only to utter one word of warning on this matter This policy might in practice become somewhat unduly restrictive unless some flexibility is introduced for combining the departments of adjacent colleges to telescope courses in order to suit the requirements of a particular local industry.
I should like here to say something about the new technological award. There was a good deal of argument about it, and it was my personal conviction that this new qualification was necessary in order to provide the satisfactory aim for the top-grade student who sought for his education in technical colleges. In my view the External London Degree was not entirely satisfactory, for a variety of reasons, into which I need not go this afternoon. The only way of replacing that was to create this new qualification, which would give colleges greater freedom to plan their own courses and yet be acceptable to the students, to industry 460 and to the professional institutions. This new award (and I will assume that the standard of such an award will not in any way be debased at any time) should do this; and I am delighted to know that it is now progressing, as we have already heard, under the distinguished chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Hives. The technical college is regarded by some people as somewhat the poor relation. Nevertheless, I believe that the money which Her Majesty's Government are devoting to this aspect is well worth while; and the dividend which the country will receive from this source will be very great indeed.
I come back, as others have come back, to the question: is what we are doing enough? We have heard from the noble Marquess figures given based partly on what I call the Zuckermann Report. I am delighted to see that a goal has been set. I think the Committee, when they gave the figures, ended their conclusion with the comment:We are reluctant to believe that less could be accepted as a target.I should like to see this assessment go even a stage further than it has gone, because we do not yet know how many technicians are required, and it is no good pressing the increase in numbers of professional engineers and technologists, in technical colleges in particular, at a pace which does not take account of the important function of providing technicians. Many people will give a different answer to this point, but my own personal view is that at least two technicians arc required in industry for every graduate. It is a very complicated sum to work out, and the answer depends largely on the basis of calculation.
Another point to which I should like to refer is the question of wastage. It is a question as to whether industry, the Civil Service, research associations, in fact all users, are employing their scientists and their engineers to good effect or wastefully. I believe that in the recent past, on several occasions, far too frequently have the efforts of some of the best technical teams in the country been devoted to projects on which, long before positive action is taken, it can be seen that there is no future requirement and no possibility of these projects ever being completed. Also, far too frequently are a large number of teams 461 covering the same ground: duplication and triplication of effort in this manner is commonplace. I have a reason to think that a number of companies may be asked to compete for the same operational requirement, only to find, at the end of many months' work, that the requirement is still unacceptable, that all their efforts are practically wasted. There should be no excuse for anything like this form of wastage in the future.
I do not want to drag a red herring, or what might be a red herring, across the educational paths of this debate, but I believe that Her Majesty's Government must review the whole defence set-up, including supply, in the near future; and my reason for making this comment to-day is that it could result in many economies in this utilisation of scientific manpower in this field.
The use of atomic energy is foremost in many of our minds, and a great technical effort is being employed. I speak with enthusiasm of the work of the divisions of the Atomic Energy Authority, and I happen to he connected with one of the projects, a naval one. The extent to which money and technical effort can be saved by overcoming some of the obstacles which exist between ourselves and the United States in certain aspects of these developments is incalculable. I refer. of course, to the exchange of information. Furthermore, the more that this art can be transferred to industrial firms, the better. I would also suggest that the ability of the appropriate companies in this country to exchange knowledge with their opposite numbers in the United States would be of enormous benefit and saving in technical manpower and would avoid a great deal of duplication.
How all these plans, in all their facets, can be carried out is something which I am not competent to answer, but I should like to emphasise two points. The first one was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe—that is the cultural climate. Secondly, there are a few points from the standpoint of industry. There was an admirable article in the New Statesman and Nation of September 8, headed "New Minds for the New World." which covers much of the ground that your Lordships are covering to-day. I hope your Lordships will allow me to quote one or two short paragraphs:Our present culture is, of course, unscientific. It is also in fact anti-scientific.462What they (i.e., the people who form it) would like, impelled by the best intentions, is to keep the present culture intact and tag on a kind of annex of professional science and engineering.They want the annex to be as large as need be so long as it remains an annex. They want it to keep in the background and just earn the country its living.It is a failure, both in detachment and in creative imagination, to believe that the problem can he solved like that.Some of your Lordships may not agree wholeheartedly with that expression of opinion but, somehow or other, I believe that the climate in this sense throughout the country, starting from this House and working down through the universities, parents and teachers, must be changed so that it is no longer regarded as undignified or second best to be an engineer.
One of the biggest companies in this country has recently been advertising the fact that, out of its main board of seventeen full-time directors, twelve are graduates in science or engineering. In the group of companies to which I have belonged for the last eleven years, out of 102 directors (it sounds a very large number) of the main company and its United Kingdom subsidiaries, 57 are technically trained. I do no: regard it as undignified or second best to be included in that category.
My second point is from the point of view of industry. I believe that industry more and more appreciates its moral responsibility to train any youth committed to its charge to the maximum degree of his mental capacity. Industry, as well as the education authority, must be prepared for the "bulge" which arises between now and 1962 in the number of boys reaching vie age of fifteen. It would be a tragedy if industry should fail to take the opportunity of training this additional manpower; and, with wise planning, a greater proportion of this "bulge"—I will put it no higher than that—should be influenced in the direction of science and technology; it would be quite wrong if employers should use the "bulge" to become more selective.
The approach by industry, especially by the large firms, has changed very much in the last twenty-five years. Industry is prepared to do, and will de, all it can to improve quality and quantity by its own efforts, irrespective of what Her 463 Majesty's Government may do. That contribution takes many forms. I should just like to mention a few positive steps: first, by increasing the number of scholarships; secondly, by propaganda; thirdly, by more adequate and careful training of the raw material and also of the student apprentice and graduate apprentice; also by direct financial action such as the recent Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Scientific Education for Schools. I will comment in detail on only two of those points.
Apprentice training in the past was often headed by an apprentice supervisor, whose main responsibility was to train apprentices. Now we go much wider, and many companies have highly-trained education officers who take every kind of boy student, apprentice or graduate apprentice who comes into the company and see that he develops in the work. Industry is also paying great attention to the boy who enters as a craft apprentice from either a secondary modern or a secondary technical school and who previously would not have had the opportunity to attend a university. In due course, many of these boys will get full education, and they will be some of the boys that we shall have. More hostels are being built or financed by, or partly by, industry as adjuncts to a technical college or university where full-time or sandwich courses are developed.
The Industrial Fund has been a most exciting, interesting and, I hope, successful experiment. It can certainly come under the heading of a "crash programme". Less than a year ago the sum of £3 million was raised by industry in a few weeks, and already 185 public and direct grant schools, including some girls' schools, have been visited. Their requirements in new laboratories and equipment have been assessed and it looks as though most of the money will be spent by the middle of 1958. This assessment has produced some interesting facts. First, it has revealed how necessary it was to increase the facilities and equipment, and consequentially, I think, the teaching, in some of these schools. Secondly, it has acted as an effective form of propaganda to headmasters and governing bodies, if they were not already converted, on the necessity of an increase in the quality and 464 numbers of sixth form science and mathematics students. Thirdly, it has filled a gap which Her Majesty's Government could not fill. Noble Lords will notice that girls have not been left out of these calculations, and I hope your Lordships will agree with me on the desirability of increasing the teaching of science and mathematics to women.
The pattern laid down by the noble Marquess two years ago, backed up as it has been more recently by the White Paper, has been a very good one. I think that any increase that we can hope for must start ab initio in the schools, for their development must play an important part in enabling the universities, the technical colleges and industry to educate and train the engineer of tomorrow. I am sure that this point will be made by other speakers.
I have only one more constructive suggestion to make—it has already been referred to—and that is an increase in the use of sandwich courses, whether it is a thick sandwich or a thin sandwich. One can call it a method of earning and learning. If any of your Lordships wants to know more of the details of a sandwich course, he will find it in Appendix B of the White Paper. Many companies and many engineering professors now agree that undergraduate apprenticeship through this type of training is not the second best, but the best form of training for engineers. The response by many bodies has been very good indeed—in particular, that of the technical colleges and some universities. I realise some of the difficulties involved—shortage of hostels, staff shortages, alterations in the curriculum, et cetera; nevertheless, if industry and the education authorities will work together the matter can be solved.
All these plans are going to cost a great deal of money. The noble Marquess has given us an idea of some of the funds to be expended. I submit to your Lordships, however, that in order to maintain our position in the world from a defence or an economic standpoint this increased expenditure is just as necessary as is expenditure on the Services. In industry every good company lights hard to survive and I think the same applies to the nation. Let us assume that the extent of the increase in scientifically-trained personnel is a matter of judgment —or perhaps I should say misjudgment.
465 The Russians may have made an active misjudgment, or, alternatively, we may perhaps be making a slightly passive one. But the penalties attaching to these two misjudgments are not at all the same. If the Russians are wrong, they have a plethora of scientists; if we are wrong, our penalty is really industrial ruin.
In conclusion, may I say that in speaking the other day at a lecture which was called "The Panorama of Warfare in a Nuclear Age" at the Royal United Services Institute, the noble and gallant Viscount, Field Marshal Montgomery, used a most ingenious method of working out his theory. He turned himself into an historian writing in 1969 about a global war which, in theory, started in 1966. The West: won that war because they started to do certain things in 1956 which, as the Field Marshal then went on to say, we were not doing. I wish could thick that if I adopted an analogous simile I could write in 1966 that we won the battle for the supply of technical people because we really got down to the problem in 1956. Some of your Lordships will remember the "prayers" issued by the Prime Minister in the war; some had little red tags pinned on to them printed with the words "Action this day". I hope the records of this debate will have the same effect on Her Majesty's Government and on industry, and on everyone connected with the vital task of technical education.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT WAVERLEY
My Lords, I regard myself as exceedingly fortunate in being privileged to be the first to congratulate my noble and gallant friend Lord Weeks on his maiden speech. He comes to our councils with great experience, having studied, as I happen to know, very closely the problems with which we are concerned to-day; and I am sure your Lordships will all agree that in the speech which we have just heard he has made a most notable contribution. It was my good fortune to be associated with my noble friend for several years in the conduct of a. great industrial undertaking. in the course of time we were overcome and successively stricken down by the operation of an age limit. It may be a matter of opinion whether it is or is not a fortunate circumstance that no such limit applies to Members of this Chamber.
466 My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, who has paced us all under a great debt in initiating this debate, called attention to the discrepancy in figures between what is being achieved in this country and what is being achieved in Russia. Exact comparisons are not possible—there are too many differences in detail; but the broad picture admits of no misunderstanding. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said in his most interesting and informative speech, the central feature of the situation at the present time is that a vast educational effort on our part will undoubtedly be necessary. We arc indebted the noble Marquess for the details he has given us of the steps that are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to meet the situation by which we are confronted. Of its seriousness there can be no possible question. We do lag behind, and we have to concentrate a great effort—an effort on the part of the Government, on the part of our educational institutions, on the part of industry, on the part of our schools and colleges and our universities and of the population at large, in order to overcome the disability under which we suffer at the present time.
The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, celled attention to several measures which, in his view, might easily be taken to improve matters. If I correctly understood him, he said he thought that technical colleges were still regarded in relation to our educational system as a "poor relation"; and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, expressed the opinion that there has been, and still is, a marked tendency on the part of parents and children, and young men and girls, in considering what their course of life should be, to select—he talked of the "professions", I hope he will forgive me, but I personally think that the profession of the scientist or technologist is just as deserving of the dignified appellation "profession" as the law or stockbroking, or whatever it may be.
§ VISCOUNT WAVERLEY
I am so glad I thought the noble Lord would. It was perhaps natural that, at the back of his own mind, there should he a distinction between those who follow the 467 older professions and those who go in for advanced applied science or technology.
I have noticed that it is often said that the first decision as to a boy's future has to be taken while he is still at school. I am not sure about that; I think that may be a great mistake. I do not think that a boy at school is in the best position to determine what the course of his future life should be, and I think that in the vast number of cases his parents also are at some disadvantage. I think that what our educational system ought to concentrate on is giving young boys or girls a broad basis of education, with ample opportunities of testing any natural aptitudes that there may be; and then, in the course of time, but not too soon, the boy or girl should, with parents' help and the help of teachers, decide what course to follow. I believe that a very great mistake may be made if there is an attempt to determine too soon what career a young boy or girl will follow in future.
There is another point in this connection: I said that I thought it was of great importance to give at an early stage, a broad basis of education. Coming down to details. I would say that what is of most importance in regard to technical education is that the early education of a boy or girl should include mathematics up to a certain level. Otherwise, if it should be decided later on that the boy or girl is to go in for applied science or technology, an inadequate preparation in mathematics would, in practice, prove to be a very severe handicap; because, if my own experience is any guide, there is in mathematics an element of drudgery at the beginning which is perhaps not so conspicuous in other studies.
The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, referred to various matters which, in his view, should receive attention in the course of endeavours to improve our present position. He said, I think rightly, that we cannot know precisely how many technicians are required. But it is obvious that, to build up an effective organisation in the field of technology and of applied science, we need technicians, properly trained and in sufficient number, as well as applied scientists or technologists. If I understood him 468 aright, the noble Lord mentioned the figure of two to one—that is, two technicians to one technologist. I should have thought, with great respect, that the proportion of technicians required would be a good deal larger than that. But at any rate our educational system must provide for training as technicians a sufficient number of young people who are not prima facie academically qualified to take a course of higher education at a university or an advanced technical college. Then, having provided the requisite number of technicians, our system must provide for technologists of the necessary standard in sufficient numbers. It may be that in this matter we cannot emulate the example of Russia. We work on different lines, perhaps very fortunately; and, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury has said, slavish imitation may not represent the course that would be appropriate for us.
But I have no doubt whatever that, as the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, has said, we can profit greatly by resort to a variety of expedients. We can encourage a greater exchange of experience and knowledge between workers in other countries and workers here. Even in regard to Russia we may secure some advantage—and a material advantage, in my opinion—by a freer exchange of knowledge; and I do not think that, granted reasonable conditions, it would be too difficult to secure such exchange. Certainly with our friends in the United States of America, as experience most clearly showed when we were applying ourselves, on both sides of the Atlantic, to the great and difficult task, successfully overcome in the end, of developing nuclear energy, we can secure, with great advantage to ourselves, and I believe also to our friends in the United States, a fuller exchange of experience and of information. The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, also said he thought that in too many cases the same task was being tackled simultaneously by various teams, with consequent loss and waste of effort, and in that respect more effective co-ordination is no doubt desirable. Then the noble Lord touched on what seemed to me to be a very important matter: that in relation to this whole problem of technological education we ought to review our defence programme and make certain that effort is not being misdirected in that respect.
469 We should, I am sure, be very grateful to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and his colleagues for the information that has been given to us in regard to progress that has been, and is being, made, no doubt all too slowly, with the plans that were adumbrated some two years ago. But we are encouraged to believe that substantial progress is being made. The noble Marquess told us. I think, that eight advanced technical colleges had already been designated and that three had been definitely approved. I believe those figures compare with a total of twenty, mentioned in the debate that we had two years ago, as the ultimate objective.
The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, referred to the question of an award for technical study. I confess that I myself have argued in the past on the necessity for awarding a university degree to people who have pursued a course of technological study. It has been decided, rightly or wrongly, that a diploma—"Tech." or whatever it may he called—should be so awarded, and we must hope that in due course that will achieve parity of esteem and prestige with a university degree. What think is most important in that connection (and this is a matter on which other noble Lords have touched) is that persons who have not in the first instance aspired to a university degree, but have obtained some other qualification, either the new "Dip. Tech." or recognition by one of the professional institutions—the three engineering institutions for example—should then be regarded as eligible to go forward to a university for post-graduate work: and that the possession of a lower, a first university degree should not be regarded as a necessary qualification for such further study, whether for a later degree or for research, or whatever it may be.
I am one of those who take the view that no training in an educational establishment other than a university can be fully equivalent to a university training. In the course of certain researches which I had to make recently, I noticed that the late Lord Haldane, who had great experience and knowledge in these matters, who spent a good deal of time in Germany, who had experience of the educational system in Germany and had 470 studied what was being done at the Technische Hochschule at Charlottenburg, expressed the definite conclusion that technical education could not reach its highest development outside the framework of a university. With that view I humbly and entirely agree. I believe that our system of higher technological or scientific education will not be complete unless adequate provision is made for technological, as distinct from purely scientific, studies in our universities.
Undoubtedly it is the case (and point has not, I think, been touched on before in the course of this and earlier debates) that, so far as pure science is concerned, statistics appear to show that we are in no way behind Russia, the United States of America or any other country. It is in regard to technology or applied science that we are woefully behind. That does, I think, reflect a continuing feeling, an approach: lot only on the side of the humanities but even in regard to pure science against applied science. There is a belief that applied science is in some way academically or culturally inferior to pure science. I believe there can be no greater nonsense, and I speak with some little experience because I began in arts, taking an honours degree in mathematics, then proceeded to pure science, and went or from pure science to what would to-day be regarded as technology at a German university. And I express the profound conviction that higher technological study is, academically, in no way inferior either to the arts or to the humanities.
I do not wish to take up too much of your Lordships' time, but reference has been made to the encouraging example that is before us to-day in the achievement at Calder Hall. That is an outstanding example of technology applied to practical ends. What has been done at that establishment—I cannot speak with complete detachment with regard to it—proves convincingly that, given fair conditions, we can achieve results that will challenge comparison with anything that can be done anywhere else in the world. That should be for all of us a very great encouragement. I would only say, in conclusion, that I feel we are under a great debt to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, for initiating this debate.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to those of the noble Viscount who has just resumed his seat to the noble Lord who made such a remarkable contribution to this debate in his maiden speech. We have looked forward for a long time to hearing Lord Weeks, whose eminence in warfare and in commerce and industry has been known, I am sure, to all Members of your Lordships' House. We certainly have not been disappointed in the speech he gave us, and I am sure that we shall all look forward to hearing him speak in this House on many future occasions.
I should also like to add my own tribute of appreciation of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, in introducing this debate. We hear him all too seldom, and on the rare occasions when we do have that pleasure he invariably brings to our attention some matter which is of long-term importance. That has undoubtedly been so this afternoon. He has put before us carefully pondered and carefully worked out thoughts on subjects of very great importance to the country. I dare say that this discussion will not attract a great deal of attention from the masses of the people who have been so excited about the difficulties in Egypt and Suez over the last weeks. Yet if one were to put oneself, as Lord Weeks suggested, into a period ten years ahead I feel that, looking back, one might well take the view that the subject matter of to-day's discussion was of considerably more importance than that of the Suez Canal, with which we have been so much occupied.
There are two slight qualifications which I should like to make to my agreement with the speech of Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. In the first place, I thought he concentrated a little on heavy engineering. One understands that, as a very distinguished captain of industry in that line, he has a natural tendency in that way. But this question of technology is at least of equal importance in the light industries. From some points of view, the future of this country is just as much bound up with progress in the light industries as it is with progress in the heavy engineering industries. I feel that it is necessary to approach the problem on a rather wider basis.
472 Also, I thought that the noble Lord was a little unfair to many of your Lordships —in fact, to almost all of your Lordships who have taken part in the debates which we have been having on this subject over the last six years. There have been at least three such debates which I can remember in which noble Lords have almost unanimously drawn the attention of the Government to the vital nature of this problem and have urged the Government to take rapid and urgent action. I have been looking over the reports of some of these debates preparatory to speaking this afternoon. I felt that after what happened four years ago when, I think, Lord Woolton, replying for the Government, admitted that it was a matter pretty well of life and death. some of us might have been accused of crying "Wolf"; because here we are four years later and. so to speak, we still have our heads above water. It might well be that some noble Lords would, in the circumstances, feel a little sceptical as to whether the matter was quite so important and vital as we have been suggesting.
I think one may say that at that time the main emphasis as to the danger of competition was placed on Germany. Lord Cherwell, in particular, emphasised the importance of the technological institutions in that country, What was then said has, in fact, proved to be true, because, undoubtedly, competition from German industry, particularly from those parts of German industry which have a scientific and technological basis, has been the main danger which we have had to meet. Over these last few years we have indeed been feeling German competition very severely. There was a great deal of emphasis on technological training in America, and very properly so. But, in a way, there is not the same danger from America, because although their technology is so advanced that their production is something like two or three times our own, nevertheless their standard of living and wage rates are equally two or three times higher and the result is that they find it difficult (especially because there is always a dollar scarcity) to sell their products in the sterling area and other parts of the world.
It was in 1954, I think, that the danger of Russian technology was first emphasised in your Lordships' House in a speech by Lord Cherwell, who had, as 473 it were, switched over a little from the German danger to the Russian danger. Undoubtedly, if Lord Simon of Wythenshawe is eight in what he says as to Russian progress in these matters, we shall be faced in a comparatively short time with competition in regard to our export industries which will be quite unique in character, because Russian organisation is so different from that of the privately-organised industries in countries like Germany and the United States that the problems with which it will confront us will be quite new and quite different. Russian industry is in the hands of the State, and it can be used, so to speak, as a matter of manœuvre, without any necessary consideration (at any rate over substantial periods of time) of the question whether a profit is to be earned. It can be used—and indeed is already being used—with a political objective.
When I was in Russia, not long ago, I was particularly interested in a big ball-bearing factory which is being worked on automatic lines, as I mentioned in a recent discussion in your 'Lordships' House. I learnt that although the demand for ball-bearings in the U.S.S:R. is actually greater than the factory is able to meet, nevertheless a substantial portion of the factory's production is being sent to India. Obviously, that has quite as much a political implication as an industrial one. So we may find ourselves, in other parts of the world, confronted with the result of the recent technological progress in industry in Russia in a way which is very unpleasant, because it is being used on a political rather than a straight industrial basis.
It is true that at the moment the Russians have enormous headway to make up in providing their own people with their requirements, and it may be a year or two before they are able to advance into the export field. And when they do so, it may well be that they will feel that the difficulties among the satellites require that they should possibly have the first choice. But, in the long run—undoubtedly, my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe was right—we shall be faced, perhaps in three or in five years' time, but certainly in not more than ten years' time, with a real, withering blast of competition, of a kind 474 which it will be extraordinarily difficult for us to stand up to unless in the interval we have put our house in order and got ourselves into an entirely different situation from the standpoint of meeting this competition. We have, then, a short time —possibly a very short time—in which to make our arrangements. What my noble friend said proved the Russian achievement beyond doubt, and the remarkable article in the New Statesman and Nation referred to by the noble Lord, Lord 'Weeks, bears out what he said. I had hoped that we should have had a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, who I know had an opportunity of looking at scientific work in a number of Russian universities this summer. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House agreed with the substance of what my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe said.
We are faced with one of the most remarkable achievements in the whole history of education and industrial advance, and I think that we should both congratulate and admire what has been done by the Russian educationists and scientists in building on a very slight foundation such a tremendous structure. think that this foundation lies in the Russian enthusiasm for and devotion to youth. Out of that has grown a passionate devotion to education. Everybody who has visited Russia recently and who has had any contact with. educational work there has paid tribute to that passionate enthusiasm, which inspires not only teachers but also administrators and the great bulk of the Russian people themselves. There is a great deal more enthusiasm for education there than we have here. It reminds me of the way we used to read about the enthusiasm for education of the Scottish people in the old days, which I think has evaporated a little over recent years but which undoubtedly was a powerful incentive at one time. I think it is on this enthusiasm that the Russian Government's determination and ability to go ahead with their tremendous scheme for scientific education has been based.
A good example of it is furnished by the new scientific development of the University of Moscow, housed in an extraordinary new building which was erected in four years on a piece of ground which up to that time was an open space.
475 In that university 16,000 students are being trained—all science students. In that enormous building rather a bizarre piece of architecture—there are no fewer than 6,000 bed-sitting rooms for resident students, over 1,000 laboratories and the equivalent in class rooms and all other facilities required. It is a remarkable achievement, especially when one looks at the University of London, which is still far from complete, and I remember being present when the foundation stone was laid in 1935 or 1936. One cannot but admire the astonishing way in which the Russians have gone about this job.
What is our reply to this? These figures have been given several times during the debate, but I do not think that the stark fact which appears clearly on page 13 of the White Paper on technological education has been sufficiently rubbed in. The number of students obtaining a first degree in science and technology—presumably at the end of last year when the Report was drawn up: it was published in February of this year —was just over 6,000. Of these, pure science accounts for 4,200 and technology for about 1,850. That is the sort of reply which we are making to this tremendous expansion of technological education in Russia—and equally great developments in the United States, in Germany and even in smaller countries like Switzerland and Holland. In addition, there are about 450 students who take diplomas, which have a distinctly lower standard, although valuable so far as they go.
Scientists, including technologists, make up only about one-third of the population of our universities at the present time. In spite of the emphasis which ever since the end of the war has been placed on the need for scientists and technologists, they have increased by only 8 per cent. over the pre-war period—that is to say, as a proportion of the population of the universities: of course, the total figure has increased substantially. I think that that figure should be increased by two-thirds. That is the view which the Zuckermann Committee formed after careful investigation. I consider that the Report of that Committee is an important and first-class piece of work. Of that two-thirds increase, they think that two-thirds should be technological and one-third pure science. I am not sure that I agree altogether with them about that.
476 Perhaps we need a few more pure scientists, but I doubt whether we need quite so many more. They allow for a continuous demand in industry for pure scientists, but this, I think, is largely due to the fact that there are so few technologists. If there are only some 1,800 or so per annum coming from the universities, industrialists are glad to take pure scientists just because they cannot get applied scientists. I certainly think that the great majority of the proposed increase should be in technological scientists.
Where are all these new recruits to come from? That is a question which was asked by more than one noble Lord. They have to come partly in the way of more students going on from the schools to the universities. Early this year we had a debate on the Report of the Minister of Education, during which reference was made by more than one noble Lord to the Gurney Dixon Report, in which it was pointed out that some 4.000 to 5,000 boys and girls who had aptitude for science leave school as soon as they can, or shortly afterwards, at fifteen or sixteen. and do not go on to the sixth form. A substantial proportion of these are of a calibre which would enable them to go on to a university, if their parents were willing and funds were available. Obviously there is a considerable possible pool in the schools from which future scientists could be drawn into the universities. We shall also have to get recruits by diverting art students into science, and, having done that, ensuring that they do not all become pure scientists but that a larger number of them go over to the technological side.
When we look at the schools we find that proportionately more science is being done in them than in the universities. That is an important point, which was brought out by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in his speech a year or so ago, when he referred to the fact that from the grammar schools something like 60 per cent., and from the public schools something like 50 per cent., were concentrating on the scientific side rather than upon the arts side. Undoubtedly, in the last year or two, in the entrance for the General Certificate of Education there has been a substantial rise in those offering the three main scientific subjects of mathematics (if the noble Viscount, 477 Lord Waverley, will allow me to include that), chemistry and physics. It has been a question of whether we are not, in fact, getting beyond the number of our children who have scientific aptitude. That, obviously, is an important matter, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Silk in, in his speech and by another noble Lord.
I have discussed this point more than once with knowledgeable people, and the general view is that about one-third of children are naturally scientific by disposition; another one-third have no scientific aptitude whatever, and it is difficult to make them understand even quite elementary scientific propositions. In between, there is a sort of neutral third of ability, which can go either way; and it depends, very often, on accident, often on pressure from the home, and often from atmosphere outside, what they do. It is obvious that the recruits we need will have to be found from this neutral third, so to speak. They will have to be deflected from the arts side. which has been their inclination in the past, on to the scientific side; and they will have to be deflected at a stage when they are in the universities, because it is when we get to the universities that we find only one-third of the students are studying science, instead of half of them, as they do in the schools. It is obvious that the public schools ought to be brought into line with the grammar schools in this respect. There is considerably less science being studied in. the public schools than in the grammar schools. It would be a good thing if Members of your Lordships' House, most of whom come from public schools, could impress upon the teachers, and indeed upon the governing bodies, of these public schools the importance of this matter.
Again, in the girls' school there is a great reservoir of ability. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, pointed out that the Russians make much greater use of the abilities of their women scientists than we do. There is no enthusiasm among our girls towards going in for science, and they are not encouraged to do so. I am told that some of the big industrialists, when they come to meet the appointments officers in the universities, or send their representatives down to address gatherings in the universities on the openings that exist in industry for scientists, often ask the appointments 478 officer not to have any women there because women are not wanted. That, I am sure, is an entirely wrong attitude. It is not universal by any means, because some industrialists attach importance to women scientists; but undoubtedly there is this objection, and the result is that not so many women go in for science and technology as one would like to see. The upshot, then, is to get more children from the schools into the science faculties at the universities.
On the question of science in the schools, the problem of getting enough teachers has been urgent for years. I remember the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, saying in 1952 that the Government had the matter under urgent consideration, and there was a little backchat between him and the late Lord Strabolgi about what he meant by "urgent consideration"; and Lord Woolton insisted that "urgent" was "urgent". That was four years ago. I wonder what the effect of the "urgent" consideration has been in regard to the improvement is the number of science teachers available in the schools. Certainly the last report of the Headmistresses' Association says that the situation in the girls' schools is worse than it has ever been. It may be a little better in the boys' schools, and the Ministry of Labour inquiry shows that a large number of our qualified scientists are at present engaged in education. I am not sure, however, that that is not a little too optimistic. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, says that one-fifth of the Russian scientists go back into education. There is no daub: that nothing like that proportion is going back into education in this country at the present time. A few years ago it probably was one-fifth, but so far as I have been able to get figures (and the figures in this matter are extraordinarily difficult to come by), there has been a falling off during the last year or two. Certainly the figures that I have seen from the appointments officers in two or three of our most important provincial universities show that, so far from being one-fifth, the proportion is not more than one-seventh, one-eighth or something of that kind.
I should like Her Majesty's Government to give attention to this question of the statistics in regard to graduate employment, because it is an important 479 matter. "Political and Economic Planning" have recently brought out an interesting book that relates to a period five years ago—it is almost out of date before it comes out. One needs to have up-to-date statistics in regard to matters of this importance. I have succeeded in getting some information from the Headmasters' Association which amply confirms the fact that at the present time the schools are finding great difficulty in appointing science and mathematics masters. A sample has been taken which shows the difficulty, particularly in relation to senior positions. Several important schools are without senior science masters at present, and have been for months past, because they cannot find the people to fill the posts.
Then we come back to the question of the universities, which is one of the greatest importance. The universities are at the centre of this matter, and it is only the contribution of the universities which can solve it. From the point of view of the universities, there are two main problems: that of personnel, which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, thought was more difficult than the problem of equipment, which is the other outstanding problem. With regard to personnel. there is, and has been during recent years, a growing difficulty in recruiting scientists of the right quality for the universities. It has been difficult for the universities to compete with industry. The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, pointed out that there was some reason to suppose that there was a wastage of scientists in industry. I am glad that he made that point, because my information is to the same effect. It is a most unfortunate thing that industry should be drawing off from the universities, as it is, by being able to offer higher salaries to scientists of considerable eminence, and then not putting them to full use.
I am not sure, either, that this applies only to industry. The concentration of scientists, both in the Defence Departments and at Harwell, is tremendous. Everybody appreciates the importance of the work that is being done at Harwell, and how it has led to Calder Hall—that has been a matter of great importance, and has increased our prestige. But one sometimes wonders whether it has not been purchased at too great a cost, because undoubtedly the number of able 480 scientists who have been drained off from the universities into that work has been serious. Of course, the great difficulty experienced by the university schools is even more over technologists than over pure scientists. It is much easier to fill a vacant position in pure science than in technology, partly because the number of technologists, as I have already shown. is so small, and partly because there has been a growing realisation in industry of the value of technologists over the last few years.
When the "P.E.P." investigation was made, a comparison of salaries offered to scientists working in the universities and technologists working in industry showed that the technologists came at the bottom of the scale. But last year the figures were reversed, and the technologist now commands a higher salary in industry, which means that it is more difficult to retain him in the university. Another very important matter which appears I think in the Zuckermann Committee's paper—or it may be in one of the sheets of information provided for me by one of the university appointments boards —is that a technologist who has a higher degree can command no less than £200 per annum more than the technologist who has not got a higher degree. The starting salary is obviously important and, as your Lordships will appreciate in order to get a job as a teacher in a university science school it is almost essential to have a higher degree. The result is that the technologist with a higher degree is in a position to get about £250 to £300 per annum more in salary than a technologist who is applying for a job in a university department of technology. That is a much greater financial temptation to which he is subjected.
In spite of all this, I am quite sure that the noble Marquess was right when he said that the universities will do the job of educating the additional scientists and technologists that are required. In addition to personnel, of course, it is essential that we should have the equipment. It has been pointed out in earlier debates on this subject that, as science becomes more complicated and more advanced, laboratories and their equipment become more and more important. The figures which the noble Marquess mentioned this afternoon were figures which only a few years 481 ago would have been regarded as astronomical. We are now working in terms of £10 million and £12 million worth of buildings alone, without the equipment which is to go into them. Yet the University Grants Committee have advised the Government that still larger sums are required, and have indicated that they are in a position to spend even larger sums than that. I suggest that that shows how urgent the situation is and that we are at last, I hope, getting away from the complaint of "Too little and too late," which has undoubtedly been the burden of our complaints over all this past time.
I should like to echo what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, and the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, about the importance of going ahead with this matter on what one might call a broad front, the front of the pure scientist; because, whatever we do, we must not forget that all this technology is built up on the discoveries of the pure scientists. There are pure scientists who are rather afraid that, as a result of the emphasis which is being placed on technology at the present time, the fundamental research is beginning to be a little neglected. We must not forget the real importance of fundamental research into scientific problems and principles.
Then we have, in the middle, so to speak, the technologist. If we regard the pure scientist as the General Staff, the technologists are the general officers fighting in the field and then we have the technicians, who have been referred to this afternoon, and who have been compared with the non-commissioned officers. It is quite obvious that, if the Army is to function satisfactorily, it must be strong in all departments. And it is very satisfactory, I think, to feel that the Government appreciate the vital importance of the technicians, and have been putting so much thought and such financial resources into building up the technical colleges.
I do not quite agree with the decision that has been taken with regard to doing so much technological work in these technical colleges. I believe that one of the reasons why there is not the prestige in technology which several noble Lords this afternoon have referred to as being so necessary is the fact that the technical college is regarded as a "poor relation"; 482 and the fact that technological work is going to he done there does. in the eyes of quite a number of citizens, rather disparage technologists. That is one of the reasons why pure science is preferred to technological science. My view is that the necessary technological work could he done perfectly well in the universities by sufficient expansion there. However, the Government have made their decision, and have already gone ahead with plans for stepping up the technological work in some of these technical colleges, and I think we have to accept that fact and make the best of it. Undoubtedly, it is essential that we should go ahead on this broad front. The problem of deciding the extent of the financial resources to be put into each aspect of the work is obviously a difficult one. It is only if it is efficiently solved, and if sufficient emphasis is given to each aspect of the work, that this country will find itself able to compete with its competitors in foreign trade over the years to come.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ LORD GODBER
My Lords, this is also the first occasion on which I have addressed your Lordships, and I know that: I can rely upon your forbearance. A great deal of the problem which we have been discussing this afternoon has been touched upon already in great detail. I need merely say, therefore. on the main problem, that one must support the argument for a larger and a quicker increase in scientists, engineers, all levels of technologists, and so on. I need also only emphasise that the figures of the United States of America and Russia are impressive and, to a certain extent, disquieting. An adequate number of engineers and scientists is absolutely necessary to industry, depending as it does so largely on the interpretation of scientific advances as applied to industrial endeavour. Industry must also to-day, and to a greater extent in the future., be largely composed of men with an educational background to carry out the adventurous task, and others to administer and be capable of understanding that task. Therefore, it is not my intention to deal in great detail with these particular phases of the problem.
The Government in the past have been of great assistance to industry in facing the problem, and we heard with considerable relief the statement this afternoon by the Lord President. Industry 483 itself, in a desperate effort to ease the existing situation, has given much time, much money and great thought to the problem. But it is not of these things that I wish to talk this afternoon. Whether the Government's programme is adequate to provide the growing demand for these scientists and technologists or not, one thing I think is definitely certain, and that is, that we must make the fullest use of our potential brain power in the shape of our young people. However successfully we provide colleges, university departments and elaborate equipment, two basic requirements give these things meaning, and they are pupils and teachers.
The question has been asked this afternoon: "Where are they to come from?" These two receive their introduction to the scientific age through arithmetic and mathematics. In children between the ages of five and ten or eleven the teachers can instil a lifelong interest in these subjects or curricula. I have recently been seriously perturbed by a Report produced by the Association of Teachers' Colleges and Departments of Education, through a Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Land of the University of Liverpool's Department of Education. I commend that Report to your Lordships' attention; it is well worth a few minutes' perusal. The Report says that virtually—and it is a fact—all teachers in the primary schools have to take classes in mathematics, and that 70 per cent. of those teachers are women. The Report states that these women teachers appear to be devoting to some subjects. particularly arts and crafts, at their training colleges, an amount of time quite out of proportion to the time of the actual studies in the primary school. Worse still, the subject of mathematics as it is handled to-day leaves them at best with a negative attitude to this vital and fundamental subject, and at worst with a distaste and fear.
Whilst, of course, I would not deprecate the study of arts and crafts, is it right, my Lords, that in these training colleges (I quote from the Report) arts and crafts should be the main study of nine times as many women as mathematics, geography three times as many as mathematics, and history of as many as all the sciences and mathematics put together? Is it right or consistent with 484 our economic requirements that we should allow our children to be brought up to be frightened of mathematics? Seventy per cent. of these teachers in the primary schools, I have said, are women. But I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that they, with proper encouragement and training, can be just as keen and capable of teaching our children arithmetic and mathematics as they are of teaching arts and crafts. An interest in mathematics is a prerequisite to the study of science and technology.
One can surely go further and underline to-day what the Lord President of the Council said in an earlier debate: that even in the generation of his own grandfather the really cultivated man was generally well up in the important developments of science as well as in those of art and literature. I venture to suggest that mathematics and physics to-day must form a part of the education of everyone who is to have the doors of understanding opened to him to see the world of to-morrow. Interest in these subjects cannot be aroused by teachers who themselves have not been encouraged to see them as interesting disciplines.
The Report concludes:The vicious circle which has been established must be broken in the training colleges, where there are trained the teachers who will largely determine the attitude towards mathematics and science of the next generation.My object in drawing this particular aspect to your Lordships' attention was to show how deep in the fabric of our education this problem really goes. If we are to turn out the greatly increased numbers of scientists and technologists on which our future depends, how necessary it is for us to take a broad view! To allow the present state of affairs to persist for teachers and pupils at this early stage would be a serious and, indeed, perhaps in the end a fatal thing. In other words, although much has been done and will continue to be done to develop science and technology at the final stages, we are in danger, perhaps, of allowing the breeder to go cold.
§ 5.17 p.m.
THE EARL OF WOOLTON
My Lords, it is a privilege which I value that I should follow the noble Lord who has just spoken and tell him how greatly we are indebted to him for the speech which he has made and particularly, if I may 485 say so, for the broad view that he has taken of the importance of university education. I was particularly glad to hear his opening words, because, whilst to-day we have given most of our consideration to the question of the training of scientists, I am convinced that there is in industry, as opposed to the professions, which in the past have so widely been recruited horn them, a proper place, a high place, for people who have had the benefit of the higher education in the universities.
I rise in your Lordships' House to-day after a somewhat long and, I am sure, welcome silence, in order to express an opinion that I have had for a long time, both in my business life and in my Government life, as to the importance of the subject which my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has raised to-day. He has not only given us a great deal of information but he has done something else. We have had three of the great industrialists of the country, active industrialists, making speeches in your Lordships' House to-day. We are always very glad when these gentlemen, so occupied in their industrial fields, who are Members of this House come and give us their experience. Then Lord Simon of Wythenshawe's speech has called forth from the Government, from the Lord President of the Council, a statement of the most fur-reaching nature of Government policy on technological education. Knowing something, as so many of us do, about the pressure that there is on Governments when they have to deal with these urgent subjects to which Lord Chorley referred a short time ago, I feel that if we had not had this debate we might have had to wait a little time before having this statement from the Leader of the House.
My Lords, I had prepared a very careful speech for your Lordships. As I have heard various noble Lords deliver parts of it this afternoon, I have been impressed by my own wisdom in the things that I had it in my mind to say. But your Lordships need have no fear: the speech is safely in my pocket, and there it will remain. There are just one or two rather practical applications of what we have been talking about to-day on which I might perhaps dwell for a few moments. In the first place, I think we should have clearly in our minds to whom we have been talking this afternoon, because, quite 486 obviously, when your Lordships come here to make speeches you are not just talking to the noble Lords who sit on this Front Bench and who are going to reply, or to others who are taking part in the debate. You are using this House in its proper function of being a Chamber to whose debates intelligent people in this country give great consideration.
The first thing the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has done this afternoon is to issue a challenge to the nation. If they are not disturbed by the figures that he gave to us, then they are indeed indifferent. I hope that he has caused as profound concern in other people's minds as he has in mine. But what do we mean when we talk about "the nation"? There is a danger in a generality. In the first place, and obviously in this House, he was talking to the Government, and he has drawn forth a reply which I hope he will in the end consider satisfactory. Secondly, surely, he was addressing the industrialists of the country, and as he proceeded to do so I came to the conclusion that many of them must be feeling rather sorry about it. Then we have had the quite admirable speech from the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, who gave a much more optimistic account of the interests of industry in the application of science. And perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the two.
What I am sure is true is that industry gets what it deserves. In fact, in the long run it gets what it wants; and, if industry wants to recruit itself with skilled technicians, then they will be forthcoming. But industry must make it quite clear that it really wants them. Of course, it has been very slow in doing this. The noble Lord and I are associated with the University of Manchester, and I am sure that he must have been tired, as many of the Senate were, of hearing me, as Chancellor, year after year appeal to the industrialists of Lancashire to take the graduates at our University into their businesses. Ten years ago, when they did it they did it as a favour to the University, but now they are taking them before they have graduated. They are taking them—"signing them up" so to speak —long before they really know what sort of quality they are. Perhaps there is just a little danger in that.
487 There is another problem which has occurred to my mind. If industry wants to get first-class scientists and engineers into its service, it has to make it perfectly clear to the scientist what can happen to him in the future. The scientist does not want to stay in the laboratory all his days, and just to give advice. He wants to get into a position in which, equally with the finance director or the sales director, he will be able in the board room to influence the policy of the business. I was much encouraged by the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, but let us remember that he was speaking of the most successful firms in the country. In the smaller firms there is a great deal of room for further encouragement for the scientists to occupy more important positions than now seem to be open to them.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, raised the question of how children are to be induced to go into the science side of the school and, subsequently, of the university. I was glad to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, say that the children ought not to try to arrive at decisions while they are still at school. This idea that it is the first step that counts is just sheer nonsense, I am sure; but what we must do is to rouse their interest and to let that ultimately decide their career. I was very impressed by something that I came across the other day when I heard that Sir Lawrence Bragg, of the Royal Institution, was arranging courses and science demonstrations for schoolchildren from the wide area around London in order that they might become interested in some of the mysteries of the application of science. I am sure that that is the way in which, in the end, we shall secure that, from the secondary schools of the country, we have the required numbers of people wanting to go on to the science side.
I believe it to be true that it is from the secondary schools and the grammar schools—less from the grammar schools than from the secondary schools that the recruitment is taking place. In fact, the public schools of the country have been rather behind in this matter, probably because of their natural devotion to the classics as the basis of their education. The efforts that have been 488 made by the industrialists to finance the building of new laboratories will, I believe, have a tremendous effect on altering that balance, though I am bound to say, as a person who graduated in science, that I should be very sorry if physics and mathematics were to displace the classics in the schools. I have not had the advantage, as my noble friend Lord Cherwell has, of sitting as a don at Christ Church with people who, in the main, have been educated in the classics. He has told your Lordships on previous debates exactly what he thinks about the narrowness of their conceptions, but I think perhaps there may be room for both in education.
I should like to pay tribute to the work that the Minister of Education has been doing in this quite remarkable development of the technical schools and colleges in the country. When we get into the higher realms of thought, in which we have been indulging most of this afternoon, and talk about the expert scientist, it is easy to forget that the industry of the country has been largely recruited in the past through the technical schools, in which many of our great leaders in industry received their education. That is the hard way up, and I am sure that we are wise in making it an easier way by letting young people up to the age of eighteen attend part-time in technical schools whilst they are still at work. The other day I saw some figures in relation to the number of people attending such courses, and I found them most encouraging. In 1938, there were 45,000; in 1956 there were 355,000, and it was stated that the education authorities hoped that during the course of the next year or two the present number would be doubled.
My Lords, there is just one other observation I want to make, and it concerns what the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, said when he referred to what is being done at Manchester. When the Government decided on the order of financial priority it would give to the development of technology in universities, they put London in the first rank (I am sure that my noble friend Lord Falmouth would think that that was but a natural thing for them to do) but they put Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham in a secondary class. I am not sure that they were right, and it is 489 not only a sort of local partisanship that makes me feel that. I have a feeling, for which there is no scientific basis, that there is something to be said for a sort of natural instinct towards factory life and towards the making of things, believe that the Government might be wise if they considered, not reducing the amount of money that they are giving to the Imperial College—that I would never ask for—but whether it would not be advisable greatly to increase the allocations of money to these natural centres of industry.
This morning I had a letter from a gentleman, I think it would be wrong of me to give his name, though your Lordships would applaud it if It did, asking me whether I could not do something to persuade the Government to make a grant of £14¼, million—he was a scientist and was precise in his information; he stuck to the half million and did not leave it in round figures—to the College of Science and Technology in Manchester, because he believed that there we were doing something of considerable moment in an area particularly suitable for the purpose. What we are doing is this. The College of Science and Technology is the Faculty of Technology in the University of Manchester, so that those people who will become our great scientists and technologists of the future are having their education in close touch with people who are going to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, historians—people who have a different approach from their own. The interaction of the one on the other will, I am sure, have a high educational advantage; in fact, it is the thing that makes their education there into a university training, I look forward to the time when this development of the technological faculties in universities in the industrial cities of the country will be widely extended. I agree that we do not want to have to adopt the American phraseology of "crash tacks"; but do not let us go too slowly, because the time is indeed pressing.
My Lords, there is but one other observation—a very insular one—that I want to make. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will at some time find it possible to give encouragement to these men who become highly qualified, who are very much needed in this country and considerably desired in other countries, 490 to stay here. At present, I am now told by some of the leading industrialists, who have been very keen to follow the lines of our debate this afternoon, that the men whom they have in their works and whom they have trained can find very much more profitable occupations in lands overseas. That is something that I am sure that we cannot afford.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ LORD CHERWELL
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has put down this Motion; it has given the Government one more opportunity to reiterate their great interest in this subject and their firm determination to see that we get more scientists and technologists. Like the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I feel that it is a matter of life and death. I have addressed the House so often on this subject and over so many years without very noticeable result that I was getting rather disheartened. Everyone agrees (it is common ground, I think) that unless we can increase productivity, our standard of life will go down; and I think everyone agrees that, short of suggesting harder work, which I gather is political suicide, productivity can be increased and improved only by the application of science, or as we call applied science, technology.
Lip service is paid to this in all quarters, but little seems to happen. True, we have again been told to-clay that there is to be huge expenditure on technical colleges. That is all to the good, but it is certainly not the most urgent of our needs. As I and many other people I have frequently pointed out, technical colleges provide technicians—a most valuable and necessary class of man. But technicians, except in very exceptional cases, are not the type of men capable of inventing, designing, and developing novel modes of production or creating new forms of machinery.
The trouble is that for all advanced technology mathematics is absolutely fundamental, and as the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, said, it is difficult for someone to learn mathematics late in life, Unless they have been taught at school you seldom find anyone who can learn—I will not say the highest flights of mathematics, but the sort of thing that certain people would call advanced mathematics; differential equations, integral equations and things of that kind. For that reason, 491 I am rather anxious about the "sandwich" courses which were so warmly recommended. They have their advantages, of course, and they have their uses; but to take a man from the works and send him into a technological institution, I think will be difficult, unless he has started with the mathematical equipment required in the ordinary universities.
Now we are told that we are to have eight colleges of advanced technology. I am glad to hear it. But it is no use just changing the name and calling it "advanced technology"; it must be something very different from the ordinary college of technology. And if, as we are told, awards and diplomas are to be equal to a university degree, then why not give them the same name? Everyone in a university knows that a diploma counts for something very much lower than a degree. These colleges are supposed to be equivalent to universities and their award to be some sort of guarantee that the man has passed the course. Yet they are not allowed to call that award by the same name as a university degree: it has to he a diploma. I feel that that is a great pity. If these colleges are to be equivalent to universities, why not call them universities? Then our case will be met. What we want is technological universities. As I have said, technicians are very important people, but they are no substitute for technologists. However good nurses may be, we still cannot run a hospital without doctors. And even though there are excellent N.C.O.s, other officers, and even generals, are needed to run an army. That seems to be the difficulty that besets us.
As the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has pointed out, the vital importance of technology has been fully recognised in Russia. Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union was a feeble competitor in industry, and dangerous from the military point of view only because of the vast numbers of soldiers that she could put into the field. To-day, Soviet industry compares favourably with that of any country. Her production vies with that of the United States, and her military power ranks with that of any country in the world. In the main, this has been achieved because the Russians recognised from the beginning the immense importance and value to a 492 nation of a sufficient number of high-grade technologists, supported by an army of adequate technicians. I will not attempt to give exact figures, because, as has been pointed out, they are apt to be misleading; but when we last debated this topic I believe I said there were 300,000 technologists in high grade technological universities in Russia, and over one and a half million technicians in training in the so-called technicums. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said something about these places being on a lower level, but that is not the information I have from people who have been in Russia. In fact, they are reputed to be at least as good as our technical colleges.
Now we are told that by 1960 the Russians are aiming at 90,000 technologists a year. As they have a five years' course, it means that they must be preparing to have 450,000 men at any one time studying technology and science in the universities. Our population is about one quarter of that of the Soviet Union, so that to keep pace with them we ought to have something like 60,000 to 80,000 men training to be scientists or technologists in technological universities. What have we in fact? Again, it is difficult to say, because there are so many different ways of counting. Some people count in those reading for degrees; others count in those at technical colleges, while others count in people taking the Higher National Certificate. From my information, people with the Higher National Certificate obtain it after 1,200 hours' instruction. A university gives a degree after about 2,800 hours' instruction. I n Russia, people have 4,500 hours; so to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of the Russian technical university unfavourably with ours is definitely misleading.
We have been told that Her Majesty's Government are fully seized of the problem and want to obtain technologists. I am in agreement with the noble Viscount. Lord Waverley, that the proper way to do so would be to go ahead and produce technological universities as they exist in practically every other country, and which have turned out people of the greatest value and distinction. In Russia, as the noble Lord. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has told us, they have even gone from the polytechnic to the mono-technic, because it is so difficult to have 493 them properly represented. Here we are going in the opposite direction, and saying that everyone must be taught in the university. This was, of course, the recommendation of the University Grants Committee, which consists of an assortment of very distinguished men, intent on building up our existing universities. I am not surprised, still less aggrieved, that they should hold that, whatever is needed in the way of high-class teaching, the universities can give it; and that, whatever is available in the way of money, they know best how to spend it. It would betray almost unnatural diffidence and selflessness if they had reported in any other sense.
In my judgment, the mistake was in submitting the conclusions of the Cabinet (which had decided that there should be three technological universities) to the judgment of the University Grants Committee. One might as well consult the Bench of Bishops about: spending money on increasing the number of Unitarian preachers. I still hope that Her Majesty's Government may see reason and train the bulk of our technologists in proper technological universities, places at which not only technology but all forms of science—mathematics, economics, the history of science, languages, and all ancillary subjects—may be studied. I hope that we may yet institute universities of that type and leave the overspill to be taught in the ancient universities. If, however, Her Majesty's Government adhere to the plan laid down by the University Grants Committee, they will have a very difficult task ahead of them.
We are told that so many millions of pounds are to be spent on buildings. But buildings are not enough. We have to get the staff; we have to house the people, and to find men to go to the universities. Our universities contain some 80,000 students, and only a fraction of these are scientists and technologists. If we are to expand the numbers to something of the order of 60,000 to 80,000, which would be comparable to the numbers in Russia, and if they are to be taught in the universities, then we shall have either enormously to cut down our arts side or enormously to expand the universities.
I do riot wish to labour the point that cutting down the arts side and increasing the technical side would upset the balance 494 of universities. Quite apart from that, there are immense practical difficulties. Despite all the figures quoted, I have an uneasy feeling that Her Majesty's Government have not really appreciated the scale of the problem. Until now, there has certainly not been any great sign of a sense of urgency such as I should have hoped to find. One of the troubles, apart from their inability, or perhaps I should say the difficulty that that humanists find, in understanding what is involved in high-class technology, is that they tend not to have a very good sense of quantity. Not long ago, a distinguished Cabinet Minister whom I was endeavouring to stimulate in this matter, said to me: "But have you forgotten the massive expansion we are planning for the Imperial College?" Well, I believe that the "massive expansion"has at present reached about 600, and is planned to be about 1,500; we are asking for something at least of the order of 30,000 on the figures of the White Paper —preferably 60,000. So he "massive expansion" which we are to get is at most only a few per cent. of what is required. The "massive expansion" at South Kensington has been on the lapis for four years now, and has only just begun.
I was very glad that the noble Lord. Lord Weeks, quoted an article which appeared in a journal which I do not normally agree with or even read—the New Statesman and Nation. It really was a first-class article, written by a man who knows what he is talking about. As he did not sign it, perhaps I had better not mention his name. I am often accused—I think even the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, has suspected me of it—of not really appreciating the humanists and humanistic training. Nothing could be more incorrect. I consider it a very lop-sided training, of course, and very narrow; but I have nothing at all against it. All I object to is the assumption of the humanists that they enjoy a sort of effortless superiority over all others.
I have often said in Oxford (modifying a well-known American saying) "Never ask a man whether he has read the classics. If he has he will tell you, and if he has not—well, why embarrass him by asking?" That is the attitude of a great many people—a great many people, I am sorry to say, not only 495 in Oxford. As the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, there is no idea of parity of esteem—I think that is the horrible phrase that has lately been introduced. It is interesting and amusing, no doubt, to debate exactly what induced Alcibiades to change from one side to another, and I should like to spend a good deal of time on it, but I doubt whether it helps us to understand or predict the alterations of policy that seemed to occur even in our own times. And though it may be very fascinating to discuss the exact degree of turpitude, if any, of Richard III, his character and actions were so remote from the character and actions of, say, Colonel Nasser or Mr. Khrushchev, that a close study of that last of the Plantagenets is not, I think, really very helpful in considering what line we are going to adopt with regard to Egypt or Russia.
Humanistic studies are agreeable, and were very valuable in their day. But they do not really help the country to survive to-day Possibly it is the subconscious feeling that this is so which has led the humanists, rather successfully, to give the general impression that science and technology are vulgar pursuits or forms of vocational training—what is nowadays, I believe, described as "non-U"—whereas classics and history, law and perhaps medicine, are subjects for gentlemen. Even if science and technology are vocational, I do not think that is a reason to object to and despise their pursuit in the universities. After all, the universities were created to educate boys to become valuable citizens. The older subjects, like law and medicine, were, and indeed are vocational: they have attained respectability simply because they have been going on longer. It is really ludicrous, now that newer forms of activity have emerged based on science and technology, to put them in a lower category than the older professions. But I must not engage in sterile disputes about values. The fact remains, however, that the people of this country must be fed and clothed and kept going, and I cannot help feeling—I fear that this may shock some people—that the contribution of a man like Whittle was even more helpful to the people of this country than the efforts of any of the Regius Professors of History in our universities.
Important as it is to provide more and better facilities for technological educa- 496 tion, this is only one part of a wider problem. As we all know, owing to the general shortage of scientists and the tremendous demand for them, the difficulty of finding science masters for the schools is acute. This is accentuated by the tendency of headmasters to induce or direct the cleverer boys and girls towards arts subjects—partly because their own line of study has been in that direction, partly because the universities offer more scholarships in arts subjects than in science and partly because the teaching in these subjects is better. For whereas the plethora of arts graduates results in a number of excellent people becoming schoolmasters, the shortage of scientists is apt to leave only the few with a vocation for teaching or people of lower mental calibre available for the schools.
Exactly what is the proper distribution between arts and science and technology requires careful study. How to achieve it, even when we know what is required, presents a whole host of other problems. In Russia it is quite simple. There people are simply directed to read whatever subjects the State lays down. Thereafter, they are sent to teach or work in factories or universities or in Government institutions as the State may decide. Here we have to induce people to take up the subjects. We dare not even defer them from military service if their work in scientific institutions is required.
Then there is the question of wastage. You never find Russians who have been well trained in Russia leaving their home land and going to other countries. But quite a considerable proportion of our best students are lured away to the United States. I think that one in three of our best people from the Clarendon Laboratory have got posts in America. The other day a young man who went to one of their laboratories was welcomed because they said they had had some difficulty in making up an Oxford eleven to play against a Cambridge eleven. At that one laboratory in America they have twenty-two of our best people—people it has cost the State thousands of pounds to produce. I am not sure that I shall carry the noble Earl, Lord Home, with me, because he will no doubt consider that spreading the lore of cricket is also a valuable contribution to international 497 understanding. But it was not primarily as cricketers that these people were engaged.
As I have said, all these problems require careful study. They are all interleaved and, indeed, interlocked, and the remedies should be dovetailed so as to obtain the maximum result with the least disturbance and effort. Necessary as it is, merely to build technological universities or to improve facilities for technological education in existing universities is not enough. The whole question, whose importance cannot be exaggerated, should be examined on the broadest lines and not tackled piecemeal. I personally should like to see a small body—I think this was the intention also of Lord Weeks and Lord Silkin—of, say, three of the best brain; in the country, men of the type of the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley or Lord Simon of Wythenshawe himself, men who know about education and industry and, above all, how the Government machine works or, as the Americans would say, "What makes it tick," asked to investigate all these interrelated problems and make suggestions. As the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, said, and the noble Marquess my Leader agreed, it is most important distribute the nation's mental wealth—I think the noble Lord called it "brain power"—in the best possible way. We cannot afford just to try to muddle through. Unless we do something and do it quickly, we shall sink slowly but inevitably into a state of feebleness and impoverishment compared with other nations such as we have not known for very many centuries.
§ 6.1 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord who introduced this most interesting debate this afternoon. He has drawn our attention especially to the enormous development taking place in Russia over the last three years. It is staggering to learn that over 65,000 graduates pass through their great institutions every year, and we cannot comfort ourselves with the idea that these graduates are not high class—they are. The Russian graduate who comes out of these institutions corresponds closely to the graduate coming from one of our universities. Another interesting and important fact is the number and size of 498 the technicums, which are producing technicians on a vast scale—last year 187,000 students were produced from the technicums. We are not surprised, then, to hear from the visiting teams who go over to Russia accounts of the enormous civil engineering works being carried our on a scale not equalled anywhere: the vast electricity generating plants and hydroelectric plants, bigger than anything to be found in this country or in the United States, Large steel plants are being built, almost as large as any being built elsewhere. And all this is based on the wonderful technical educational system they have erected in a very short time.
One of the most interesting features of the industrial picture in Russia to-day, I think, is their watch-making industry. It is not generally known that they have, the second largest watch-making industry in the world, second only to Switzerland; and they are ahead of Switzerland in this respect, that they produce only high-grade jewelled watches, of fifteen and seventeen jewels. That gives us an idea of the use they are making of the students which come out in such large members from their technicums. The watch-making industry is very important because it encourages a large number of subsidiary industries, such as the high-grade small machine tool industry, which is so essential to the general instrument manufacturing programme of any country. I feel that this challenge which the noble Lord has shown us in operation in Russia is one which we must seriously take: up Obviously, from the interest shown in this debate, it is something which closely interests Members of your Lordships' House. We have the same picture ill the United States, where a large number of students—something like 30,000 a year—take first degrees in science and technology. They do not quite correspond in quality to ours, but if they do not go on to take another degree, they go into industry, where they spend, say, three years more in highly intensive courses in science and engineering. As a result, the United States are producing a very good class of man. It is so late in the debate that I feel that I cannot possibly discuss the immense effort which is being made in the United States as well as in Russia.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has told us of the programme which the Government propose to adopt in this 499 country, and we are gratified to learn from him that a great step forward is being made in dealing with technical education. The noble Marquess was kind enough to refer to the Imperial College. That was what I might call the spearhead of the attack, and in 1953 the College authorities were told to increase the number of students to 3,000. As has been said, the number has increased by something like 36 per cent, the staff by 33 per cent. and the area of floor space by 20 per cent. I do not think that that is a bad beginning, when we consider the difficulties of the site with which we had to deal. It will take some time more before we can increase the number of students to any great extent, because the great new buildings which are already planned have to be built and until these are erected it is difficult to see how we can accommodate any more students unless there is gross overcrowding, which is something we are very anxious to avoid.
The programme explained to us by the noble Marquess the Lord President will obviously be a costly one, but it is one of those matters on which we cannot afford to stint expenditure. When we have the laboratories and lecture rooms built, there still remains another problem —that is, the provision of hostels. I hope that the Government will be careful about this matter, and see that a large amount of the money that is being allocated to construction goes to the provision of hostels. In this matter I must thank the Government for their broadminded outlook in regard to the Imperial College. Recently they enabled us to purchase a site in the immediate neigh. bourhood which will allow us to house 600 students in large hostels, a valuable addition to the College's activities.
One matter which has interested many people is the announcement made recently that grants were to be given to students who, after finishing their three-year courses, wished to go on for another year to specialise in a particular subject. That has always been a difficult matter. Many students who come from overseas with grants are able to stay for another year, in order to specialise, but home students have found this extremely difficult, because when they finish their three years, their scholarships cease, and they 500 have to leave the universities and go into industry in order to earn. I hope that the Government will be flexible in this matter. I should like to see students taking their degrees, then going into industry for two years and coming back again to the university for a year in order to study the particular aspect of industrial work which they find they would like to make their own particular field. We do not know how many of these grants are given, or what the terms are, but I hope that the Government will make them as flexible as they can, so as to include this important point of students coming back to the universities and wanting to stay another year after they have been in industry.
We have heard of this great expansion, but there are two snags in it as to which I am anxious: one is the provision of teachers, and the other is the matter of pupils. Where on earth are we to get the teachers from? It was most satisfactory to learn the other day that the Minister of Education had raised the salaries of teachers in the colleges under his jurisdiction. But the question of salaries is not the only difficulty in connection with teachers in these colleges. I am glad to learn that a powerful committee has recently been set up by the Ministry of Education to go into the whole matter of teachers, and to see how it is possible to attract more of them to this activity. Unless we get the teachers all our other efforts to solve the problem will be nullified, and we cannot pay too much consideration to this great weakness in the present set-up.
Then we come to the important question of the students. How are we to get enough boys to fill the places that will be available in a few years' time? The last figures I had were those for 1954, when there were several hundred places vacant in colleges dealing with technical subjects in this country. That is very different from the position in Russia, where there are four applicants for each vacancy in a technical undertaking. We must do something to encourage parents and teachers to persuade the boys to enter the technical field. What could be more exciting for a young boy than to become a scientist or an engineer? What other subject offers the same opportunity for creative faculties and ingenuity? The whole field is alive with great problems. 501 I feel that the Government, the technical institutions and the schools should do something to try to interest boys in this subject, because unless we can get the boys, the whole thing falls to the ground. At the present moment the position is not too satisfactory. We must persuade them to come in by showing them the great romance which science and engineering has to offer. We must persuade them to come and join in the great programme of development which is so essential for the existence of this country.
Another aspect of this matter of pupils is girls. As we know, the Russian position is quite interesting, because they have a large number of girls in their technical institutions. 'These girls go out into industry and are most valuable. In the laboratory and in the engineering industries there is an immense field for girls. One hopes to see a big effort made to interest girls in these fascinating subjects, and to persuade them to go into science and engineering. There is one great difficulty in connection with this problem: namely, that there are few girl teachers with the necessary high qualifications in mathematics and physics. This is a matter that I hope will be carefully considered by the committee to which I have just referred and which has recently been set up by the Minister to consider the question of male teachers.
I said just now that we were pleased to learn of the increase in salary that has been given to teachers by the Ministry of Education. So far as the salaries of teachers in technical subjects in universities are concerned, we do not know what is going to happen; there has been no announcement, as yet but we hope that we shall shortly learn that their salaries are to be increased in the same way as the salaries of teachers in the institutions controlled by the Ministry of Education have been raised.
I do riot want to detain your Lordships much longer, but there are one or two points that I should like to draw to the attention of the Government. One of the most difficult and contentious matters in this problem is the question of deferment. A boy who has got a degree can get indefinite deferment if he joins the Government service and becomes a scientific officer in that service. Recruiting officers come round to the universities at the end of term—quite rightly, from their point 502 of view—and persuade boys to go into the Government service by saying that they will get indefinite exclusion from military service. That is most unfair, and it means that the Government Departments are able to draw off a great many boys who would otherwise be actively occupied in industry or the teaching profession.
I would ask the Government to give serious consideration to this whole question. Either there should be deferment for certain special classes who are able to satisfy conditions laid clown by the Ministry, or there should be no deferment at all. I do not mind saying that the Government are extremely selfish in this matter. 'They have an enormous advantage. Very few Government establishments know what it is to be short of scientists, because they are able to offer this wonderful inducement. It has many other aspects which are most unsatisfactory from the point of view of training students, and so on, and I hope that the whole matter will be carefully considered by the Government and that, as I say, they will either have no deferment:it all—and that is probably the best thing—or deferment in special categories if the boys come up to certain standards.
The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, touched on the important point of the wasting of scientists in various activities when they could be more actively employed. A great responsibility rests on those in charge of the research departments to see that no technologist is engaged on an activity that could be done just as well by a technician. There is a strong suspicion that in Government Departments care is not being exercised in that way, and that a great wastage is taking place in some directions. Another matter where a saving could be effected is by the making of a careful scrutiny of the research programme of Government laboratories and also the laboratories of the nationalised industries, to see whether there are not a great many researches in those departments which are stale, which have ceased to be productive, and yet are carried on by inertia because nobody has the interest to change them. That does not apply quite so much in private industry, because, of course, research organisations there have to be economic. But in Government circles and in the 503 nationalised industries, it is a real problem.
There is another matter which I think should be given careful consideration by the Government. Is it not time that some of these research establishments which were set up during the war should be closed down? If that were done, the staff could be released, either to industry, where they are so badly needed, or else to other Government Departments, to fill any gaps that they may have. I believe that this revision of the Government research policy and research establishments is long overdue. When industry truly says that there is a frightful shortage, and when one knows that on the other side of the fence there are numbers of people available, it is a very serious matter, and something should be done about it. I do not wish to take up the time of the House any longer, but I should like once more to thank the noble Lord for having introduced this Motion, and for having, in the result. initiated a most interesting debate.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ LORD BENNETT OF EDGBASTON
My Lords, I will not keep the House long, as most of what I intended to say has already been said, and I will not go over it again. I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. I cannot say that I enjoyed it: it rather depressed me, as I knew it would. I was pleased when the noble Marquess gave us a little encouragement to cheer us up. I hope that when the noble Earl, Lord Home, winds up, he will be able to deal as effectively with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell.
The question has been asked: What are the Government doing and what is industry doing about all this? Again, the majority of the things I was going to say have been said by my noble friend Lord Weeks in his admirable maiden speech. Organised industry is working all the while with the Government, as the noble Lord mentioned. He has been chairman of committees. The F.B.I. are working on another committee to-day to deal with the promotion of increased numbers of science teachers. In fact, the Government do not leave industry alone. When those in industry get into any difficulty, they look round and say, "Who can we put it to?"; and they put it to 504 the Government. Over the years I have been connected with organised industry, it has been one long, continuous service with Government Departments, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, will agree that his experience has been the same.
It is said, "That is all very well, but what are you doing personally and privately? The noble Lord, Lord Weeks, gave us to understand, from his experience, that a great deal is being done privately, and I should like to confirm from my experience in the Midlands that that is so. Industry is not sitting down twiddling its thumbs and waiting for the Government; it is doing as much as it can itself. Of course, as has been said by the Lord President, industry cannot foster some of the big building schemes, but your Lordships will be surprised at the amount of money industry is putting into this effort. There have been grants to universities by one industry, and others in Birmingham have endowed Chairs, post-graduate courses for engineering production, and a special building which was wanted and which we provided for part-time students. There are also scholarships and bursaries, the provision of equipment that is needed for the running of classes and for testing, and the release of students for part-time courses, with allocations to cover their living expenses. That is all part of what industry is doing, in its small way, but which amounts to the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, to help forward the solution of this problem.
We were urged the other day to have a little more of the cut and thrust of debate in our discussions here. I wish to differ from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his suggestion that the grammar school boys have their eyes on the law and other professions. That may be true in the circles in which he moves, but I can assure him that it is not so in the industrial Midlands, because the majority of our boys certainly go into industry, and we raise our eyebrows when we hear of a boy who might go into industry, where there is an opening, but who chooses, for reasons which we do not understand, to go into the law or some other, what we call, secondary industry.
As the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, has reminded us, we are strengthening the 505 scientific side. We are providing laboratories and equipment for boys' and girls' schools, and in that way I think we show that we appreciate what has been put to us. There was one point which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made, and which I think the Lord President answered, although I did not quite hear what he said. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said that we ought to loan our people. We are in such close touch with the universities and the technical colleges that we are always lending people to lecture and to help, so there is no need to upbraid us on that score. I am sure help is never asked for but that it is willingly afforded.
On one point in particular I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Weeks. He deplored a certain duplication of effort. That duplication exists. I know that the Ministry of Supply make up their mind that they must have two sources of supply for "difficult" equipment in case of enemy action, and I think they are also frightened of the monopoly value of letting one firm "get away with it." I think they should get over that fear, because they check one's costs very carefully, and see that one does not get more than one should. We in industry have remarked upon it ourselves. It is a great pity, when we have done so much work in a certain direction, and somebody else starts on the same problem and has to go through the preliminary work again. It ought to be, possible to save some of that work and release some of the men.
The main point about which I wished to speak was the one I have spoken about on the last two occasions when we have debated automation. I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, when he called attention to the fact that, when we are dealing with this increase in the number of scientific workers, we must not forget that we depend equally upon the skilled worker—and there is going to be a great shortage of skilled workers. The apprenticeship system ran into bad ways, and in industry we have had to take up that matter strongly. We have to make certain that we educate enough mechanics to carry out the work of the technologist and scientist. We are not the only people who are meeting with this difficulty. Perhaps it would interest the ruble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, to know that the Russians are 506 also having trouble. The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce magazine says:They have been holding conferences in Russia about the lack of qualified operators. They have discussed a proposition to revise and improve their industrial training system as a preliminary to further automation advances. 'They have been faced with new problems; elating to redundancy in a State in which, previously, they had talked at large about their immunity from any possible difficulty of that kind.I do not know that it is cheering, but I was told many years ago by an old rowing man that when you are rowing No. 4 in the boat and feeling about dead beat, remember that the other chap rowing No. 4 in the other boat is probably feeling worse than you are. This problem is also worrying the Russians and it worries me.
I believe that we are going to be short of sufficient skilled mechanics. In our industry—and it is a light industry; we get on quicker than do those in heavy industry—I sometimes ask the work-people, "What about this new model?" They may tell me, "We have struck trouble." I then say, "What is the trouble?", and probably the reply is, "It had to go back to the design department. When it came to manufacture, we could not produce it exactly as they had set it out. More skilled men are wanted". Or I may ask, "Why is this job not done?", and the reply may be "When it got out into the hands of the public there were the usual teething troubles and it had to come back." The scientists and designers have got so far, but the job sticks there for a considerable period because a great many more skilled operators are needed. That is where I think industrialists and trade unions must work together, so that the work done by the scientists is not held back because we have not got enough skilled operators to carry out the plans made for us.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, on his outstanding contribution in his maiden speech, and I do so with all the respect due from a one-time employee of the noble Lord. I am not going to argue at all the point that we need more engineers. That has been done. I think we should accept the fact that we must double our output in the next fifteen years. If we can do it sooner.
507 there is no doubt that it will be that much better. I should like to devote a few minutes to looking at ways and means of achieving that end.
Whilst I congratulate the Government wholeheartedly on the plan they have now put forward, I am in some doubt about our ability to carry it out and to get the results required. First and foremost, as has been said, we need a new climate of opinion. Without sufficient production and exports we shall all be out of a job. All the classical scholarship, music, sport and all the pleasant things of this life will be of no use without more engineers. We shall very soon lose our present somewhat precarious position if we do not do something dramatic to change the present climate of opinion. In spite of everything that has been said and done, we still cling in this country to old-fashioned ideas in schools, in universities and in the Government Service. In schools most of the senior positions are still held by non-science men that is a legacy of the past. However, we are making progress in that sphere.
I was talking to a headmaster the other day, after an application had been successfully made to the Industrial Fund, which is such a success. He said, "As a result of this grant we shall be able to give every boy in the school a proper scientific education. We shall have no more scientific illiterates." That is the spirit wanted in public schools, grammar schools, in fact in every school in this new era. In universities there is still a reluctance to alter the proportion of engineers and scientists to the humanities. In my own university, Cambridge, I am sorry to say, that attitude still persists. The noble Marquess told us of the great plans for expanding the total numbers in universities. I was a little disappointed to hear that only two-thirds of the increase is to be devoted to science and technology. Already at this time the man who has a second class degree in history or other arts subjects finds it quite difficult to got a job. A similar man on the scientific engineering side will be offered a score of jobs. What point is there in adding to the total number on the arts side when there is this crying and desperate need for scientists and technologists?
In the Government Service, although the pay structure of technologists has 508 been greatly improved, we still seem to be in the state of having scientists, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, said, on tap but not on top. All the final decisions are still, unfortunately, taken by men without any scientific knowledge whatever. We have got to do everything we possibly can to break down these prejudices and to persuade young people that there are real and great opportunities in engineering. When we have done that, when we have persuaded them, we have to make available suitable training schemes and facilities. We have made considerable progress here. The universities have increased their output but there is need for much more to be done. The noble Marquess's statement is very encouraging. But as the numbers in universities increase, we must beware of what I would call intellectual snobbery. We need some boffins, back-room boys." We need some first-class engineers with sound theoretical training.
In addition, we need a third type of more practical man, perhaps a less academic type, who is more suited to production than to development and research work. They will benefit from a university course equally with those who have a more academic type of mind, and they are equally if not more important at the present time to industry. It is important in this sphere to provide for all types, and there is at this time a danger that the less academic types may be excluded. More good brains and character of every type in engineering are needed in the universities. I wonder whether the time has not now come, by differential grants of some kind, to put some pressure on more entrants to the universities to read science and technology. Is it right to continue to supply grants at the same rate for the arts as for the sciences, when the demand for the latter is so very much greater? No-one appreciates better than I do the need and importance of academic freedom, but it must be combined in the universities with a realisation of their responsibility to the community.
In technical colleges a great expansion has been planned, and what is called the Hives diploma scheme seems to be going ahead well. It is rather sad to notice that the plans which are now going ahead are almost identical to those proposed by the professional institutions in 1949, but 509 which were then disregarded. In all this expansion the vital difficulty will be the shortage of staff. I heard the other day that in one of our major university engineering departments there are seven vacancies. Of all those who applied—and there were not many—not one was found suitable. And the vacancies represent about 10 per cent, of the total staff in the department. That is indicative of the sort of problem we are up against in getting staff.
One of the difficulties in the past has, of course, been pay. I believe that that has now been greatly improved. Another difficulty, which is often neglected, is that the man who goes into engineering is, on the whole, someone who likes to see something made as a result of his labour —a ship, a steam turbine, aircraft or whatever it is. There is in teaching not quite the same results of your work. It is therefore of the utmost importance that there should be in the universities and in the new advanced technical colleges the greatest possible encouragement to the staff to undertake research and consultation with industry. In advanced technical colleges we must provide these facilities and give the staff the academic freedom which exists in the universities. I think the plans that are being made do recognise these needs, but I sometimes wonder whether too much emphasis is not being placed on buildings. Buildings are no use without staff. Already in many universities there is an enormous amount of equipment that is used for perhaps three to four hours a day for six months of the year, and in these hard times that is not a very high utilisation. Before we plan too much new building and too much new equipment, we should look carefully at how well the present equipment is used. If money can be saved, then it will be well spent on additional incentives for staff.
Whatever we do in that respect, for many years there is bound to be a great difficulty in breaking this vicious circle. Shortage and heavy demand for engineers make it difficult to recruit teaching staff, which leads to a further shortfall in the output of engineers. Already industry is helping a lot: there are part-time teachers. But more are needed. I make this suggestion: that we should look carefully at the possibility of two, three 510 or even four years' secondment of suitable people, designers and the like, from industry to teaching. At the moment, the difficulties are largely administrative, concerned with pensions, pay and similar problems. I do not think they ought to be allowed to stand in the way of that scheme if for other reasons it is thought to be desirable. There are many designers who would welcome a couple of years in the relative quietness of teaching, where they could think out new ideas and refresh themselves and come beck, having done a useful job in teaching, in a better spirit and in a better condition to do their job in industry.
Having produced some more engineers, we have to make sure that we use them properly. That point has been dealt with at some length already but I should like to emphasise what the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, said about wastage in National Service and the gross distortion that is caused by the preferential treatment in deferment given to the Government Service. It is causing very great difficulty in industry. My solution would be not to have no deferment, as the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, suggested, but to increase very greatly the deferment perhaps to all those with second-class honours degrees in engineering. The trouble at the moment is that National Service takes men at a very important part of their career. Between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-live are the years in which a man makes his greatest contribution on the technical side, and if you take two or three years cut of that for National Service, you are taking away quite a good percentage of the period. We must make up our minds, I submit, what is best for the country, and not what will satisfy some obscure principle of equality of sacrifice. Industry also must make its contribution to a proper use of these engineers who are so very short, but I do not want to go any further into that aspect, because it is so late.
May I conclude where I started, by saying that the vital need is a dramatic change in outlook in the climate of opinion. Many people are doing much to try to bring that about—those in industry and those in the professional institutions. There is always a danger that they will to accused of having an axe to grind, and, therefore, 511 that their exhortations will be the less effective. I wonder whether it would not be worth while to set up a committee—perhaps the National Advisory Council for Education in Industry and Commerce might be reconstituted for this purpose—to bring together all those people who are trying to instil this new idea, to bring about this change of opinion in the country as a whole. Perhaps the noble Marquess the Lord President could give the committee the impetus of his chairmanship. The matter is of such great importance that I put forward this suggestion for the Government's consideration. The situation really is serious. It is so dangerous because it will become fully apparent to the country only when we are a long way down the road to ruin. Something is being achieved now, but much more is needed, and needed quickly if our plans are to mature in time.
§ 6.45 p.m.
THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, it begins to grow late and, if I am not to weary your Lordships with repetition by expressing my agreement with so much that has been so ably said by previous speakers, I must exclude much in my notes. And it is a matter of regret that, of the two surviving items therein, one of them is one on which I cannot go the whole way with my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. I should like to assure him that this proportion of one to one does not reflect the overall balance of my views, which are strongly in sympathy with his. In linking our sense of purpose concerning these matters to what is being done in Russia we are in danger of committing. in the words of the poet,…the greatest treason,To do the right deed for the wrong reason.If we link our sense of purpose to the Russian statistics we shall sooner or later link that sense of purpose to the interpretation that we put on those statistics, and then it will waver. We must do what it is right for us to do because it is right for us to do it: not because we are scared of what Russia is doing. I think that this is a trap into which we are in danger of falling.
Considering only two types of figure which we have been discussing this afternoon, take the figure in the White Paper 512 of 60,000 professional engineers and 70,000 technicians. That proportion is all wrong. If those people are anything like the professional engineers and technicians that this country grades as such, everyone will concede that their proportions are wrong. But you will get into difficulties in deciding what they ought to be. To take the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, to whose maiden speech we listened with so much pleasure, the figures ought to be more like two to one. I usually use a figure of four to one, and the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley (who I am sorry to see is not in his place to correct me if I am misquoting him) sometimes uses figures as high as six to one.
If we take four to one, for example, it will mean that one-fifth of the total are what we call professional grade engineers. Add the 60,000 and 70,000 together and divide by five, and you get 26,000 as the Russian output of professional grade engineers. The figure of 60,000 must cover a mixed grade of engineers—superior grade technicians. Everybody has the highest opinion of the high-grade engineers, but if you take them as 26,000 and divide by four you arrive at 6.500, which compares closely with what we produce in this country. If you allow your sense of purpose to be linked to the interpretation of those figures, it will waver with the interpretation that you put on them.
Again, consider another type of figure. The Russians claim—and let us concede it—that they are turning out more technologists per head of population than we are. But, by common consent, they turn out less goods per head than we do. It follows that the production of goods per technologist reaches, in some cases, ludicrous figures, if we believe statistics. I should like to illustrate this point by our production of metallurgists. Our output of professional grade metallurgists in this country is about 150. The Russians claim to turn out about 5,000 professional metallurgists every year. There is no doubt that metallurgical friends and colleagues of mine, who have visited Russia and seen the type of metallurgist they turn out, have the highest opinion of the training given to them and of the facilities provided for their training. If you work out on a population basis their outturn of professional grade metallurgists, you 513 arrive at 8 to 1 per head of the population. But they produce only one-half our tonnage of metals per head of population. It therefore takes sixteen metallurgists in Russia to do what we do with one metallurgist in England. If you link your sense of purpose to statistics of that kind, it will waver when somebody begins to put a question-mark against the authenticity of the figures.
I do not know why these figures are so peculiar. I can suggest an explanation—it may be right or it may be wrong. If you want to put down a new rolling mill in this country you put it down on Clydeside, in South Wales, on Tees-side or any of those districts, where the sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of men who lave worked in metals all their lives can come and apply their skill and craft, in the working of metals in the new rolling mill. You cannot do that with first generation ex-peasants in Siberia. What you can do is to take their children and turn them into professional grade metallurgists. I believe that the great output of professional grade metallurgists in Russia is due to the fact that they are running their new rolling mills with them because they have no skilled craftsmen of the type we use in this country. Once more I hope that we shall not seriously tie our sense of purpose to the interpretation of these figures. There is a shortage in this country, irrespective of what we think the Russians are doing.
In the last two years I have become almost a professional interviewer of technical directors, managing directors and chairmen of companies, trying to find out where their bottlenecks are, and they all report where an overall shortage is hitting them worst. That means, of course, that you get as many different accounts as there are different types of bottleneck. One friend of mine, a machine tool manufacturer, says "Give me half a dozen top-grade designers, men with mechanical imagination, and I can give them all the necessary support from technicians, draughtsmen and so on." Another manufacturer says, "We have the 'lack-room boys' and the top designers; we have the draughtsmen; but we lack the intermediate grade of technician who will fill in the gap and link the one to the other." A third firm says "We are woefully short of engineering draughtsmen." So there are three 514 different types of bottleneck, each affecting someone.
If you turn from the functional side to the academic side, one man will say, "I am short of student apprentices to work a five-year apprenticeship with a ' sandwich ' course working up to professional status through the Higher National Certificate." Another will say, "I am short of graduates for a two-year graduate apprenticeship. I wish we could get them because we can teach them research and development.' A third person, well known to my noble friend and connected with chemical engineering products, says he is short of six-year academic trained Ph.D.-type chemical engineers. These bottlenecks exist all the way through, and everybody underestimates their magnitude because everybody's estimate assumes a continuing shortage in his competitors' organisation. If his competitors' needs were filled as well as his own, he would find that he was still short of what he required. The shortage would be maintained.
In considering Russian performance I have always tried to avoid two en ors. One is thinking of the Russians as "bogy-men," who can be in two places at once, and the other is thinking of them as incompetents whose performance can be disregarded. They certainly have in some fields the highest performance that one could wish to see in any friendly nation, though, alas! we cannot grade them as such for the time being. I leave always felt that with a population ratio of four to one it must be possible for them to skim the cream off the milk, as it were, and attain parity of achievement in any limited field that they like to select. In certain fields the Russians have always been first-class. In anything connected with ordnance and ballistics they have always been first-class, though they still have not learned how to have both guns and butter—that is apparently a secret of the West. Their production is good, robust, sound, but never subtle.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, mentioned a magnet which weighed 36,000 tons. I believe that there is a sect in India which worships the deity under the symbol of an elephant. One understands what they have in mind —the elephant is the largest and most impressive thing they can think of. There are other people who tend to worship 515 large inanimate objects, objects which would squash one flat if they were to fall on one. There is no doubt that in that sense a 36,000-ton magnet is a most worshipful object. But I am told by one Nobel Prize-winner that there is at least 18,000 tons too much steel in that magnet, and that it could have been built somewhat smaller. Do not let us forget, in connection with particle accelerators, that we are in a leapfrog race that is going on the whole time—there is always somebody ahead. At the moment Berkeley is ahead with a 6,000 million volt accelerator, but the great Cerne project in Geneva will jump past that with 25,000 my. Do not let us forget that, for policy reasons, we did not build one of these accelerators in England; we preferred to join the co-operative project in Geneva. Let us not forget, too, that the designer of the great project in Geneva is a British electrical engineer.
Consider again, the MiG and the Sabre jet. The MiG is a very clean uncompromising type of machine, in which everything has been sacrificed to speed. It is not as good at shooting down a Sabre jet as a Sabre jet is at shooting down a MiG. It has an advantage when running away, but you do not win battles that way. The TU 104 that we heard so much about in the papers could certainly not have been built in the West, under the accountancy system for capital charges used in the West, to operate competitively in the West. When we remember that the Russians have a hydrogen bomb, do not let us forget that they have not a Calder Hall. We have enough to worry about, and enough genuine work to do, without linking our sense of performance to the things that are going on in Russia. If we must emulate them, let us emulate the intelligence and resolution with which they are implementing what they think it right for them to do and let us implement what we think it right for us to do. Britain is not Siberia. Let us also remember that the mid-twentieth century Britain is not early nineteenth century Britain. We must no more perpetuate what is inadequate, because it is indigenous and traditional, than we must copy what is exotic because it has proved adequate in Western Germany, Russia or America. If I seem to disagree on these points with my noble friend I can assure him that the 516 range over which we are in agreement, is far wider than the points upon which we disagree.
I come now to my second point. I trust that I am not trespassing unduly on your Lordships' patience in reminding you of what I said two years ago when we were having a debate on a similar subject. I said then [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 190, col. 262]: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 tortoise-like rate of progress and I do not believe that we can afford it.My noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe said that not many of the speeches made on that occasion were filled with a sense of any urgency. I do not know what he would call a sense of urgency, but I certainly felt urgent on that particular issue.
My Lords, it took eighteen months to build Imperial Chemical House along the Embankment. Two years have gone by since our last debate; that is six months longer than it took to build Imperial Chemical House, and what have we to show for it at Imperial College? After some controversy, we still have Colcutt Tower, which has survived for obscure aesthetic reasons that I reverence without understanding. If you go into City and Guilds College you will hear the noise of much demolition, and see a piece of a corner building partly complete with a scaffolding still round it. I do not feel that that is a good enough show of progress in two years. I do not want it to be thought that I am in any way blaming the Government it would not be proper for me to do so, even if I thought they were blameworthy, which I do not. I blame the nation as a whole because it has got into the habit of being satisfied with an entirely inadequate rate of progress. In this sense our shortage of technologists is not a cause of our troubles; it is a symptom of our folly.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL. OF HOME)
My Lords, as this long debate has proceeded. it will have been borne in upon your Lordships, as it has upon me, that we have been supremely fortunate and privileged. We have heard two maiden speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Weeks and Lord Godber, which were of. a very special quality and which have whetted our appetites to hear them again whenever they can spare time from their busy lives to come and address us. I cannot imagine two persons better qualified to contribute to our debate than the two noble Lords. Indeed, nearly all those who have spoken in this debate (the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, described himself as a layman and so am I), have spent their lives in science, education or industry, and have the great advantage of practising what they preach; and when they come to give their collective guidance on how best to apply science to the aid of industry in the twentieth century, they arc enabling your Lordships' House once more to do a service to the nation. I am afraid that my contribution this evening can be only that of the amateur, himself perhaps a casualty of this new age.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, was undoubtedly right to use the shock tactics which he did in bringing us right up against the comparison of our build-up of scientific and engineering manpower with that of our competitors. When he supported it by a range of figures which alarmed my noble friend, Lord Bennett of Edgbaston, and depressed me and also the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, I felt that the outlook for our country was pretty grim, and I was doubtful whether, on those figures, anything effective could be done about it. But the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, has given us a little of the antidote. He has reminded us, good humouredly, of the danger of taking statistics too literally and drawing too literal conclusions from figures we are given. I think the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, was really saying what we all feel: that what we are aiming at is not the same in proportion as Russia, Germany or America, but at a sufficient proportion of our young men to be enlisted into science and engineer- 518 ing; and unless we can achieve that, the standard of living in our country is bound to decline.
In our own country we have our own pattern of society and our own particular needs. All the time we keep an eye on the balance of payments, and we have, for instance, to maintain an agriculture in a high state of efficiency. That must make its call upon manpower. Agriculture now is a fairly scientific undertaking, but I hope that it will always make a considerable call en our manpower, for it is my firm belief that a rural community, healthy and virile, is the backbone of any country. Then, of course, there is service in the Colonies and the Commonwealth, which attracts so many of our ablest young people. Again, looking at our own particular problems in the purely industrial field, we cannot match the large-scale production practices of the United States of America, although let me add that the proposals which we are now examining for a freer trade area in Europe are designed to try to give to our industries a broader basis for their products in wider markets.
Then, like the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. I too, feel that it is not enough to copy: if our traditional Clinking must change (and I believe it certainly must) the pattern of scientific and technical education which emerges must be geared to our requirements. As the debate has gathered momentum it has seemed to me that a case has been made for what amounts to a revolutionary change in education as a prior condition of a comparable revolution in industrial practice. The process has begun, of course. The war cut our traditional export trade by two-thirds, and we suffered a loss of capital overseas. In those two circumstances we were faced with a stark reality. we were left really with Only one asset —our skill. How could that skill best be used? As I see it, by using it to convert, if we could, the smallest amounts of imported raw material into goods of the highest possible value for export. We could achieve that only by spending enough on research and on training scientists and, in particular, teachers.
The shift in emphasis in national production since the war has amounted in 519 itself almost to a new industrial revolution. I have only to mention the petrol-chemical industry, electronics, aircraft, and man-made fibres to show the change which has occurred in a comparatively short time. But the revolution has gone so far only, because there has been a shortage of qualified scientists and engineers, and the real object of our inquiry and the object of the noble Lord's Motion to-day is to inquire into and explore how the numbers can best be increased. Perhaps here I could interpolate a plea, made first by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, and then by other noble Lords, that while there is a shortage of scientists and skilled technologists, men with these very special skills, obtained with such difficulty and at such expense, should not be under-employed and wasted. I daresay, as was suggested, that Her Majesty's Government, as a rather lam employer, is a sinner, and the noble Lord made a useful suggestion in saying that when we undertook the defence review we should look particularly at this aspect of the economic use of scientists and technologists. At the present time it is immensely important that the country should get the maximum return from the admittedly inadequate numbers of scientists and technicians which we have at the moment.
The question which this debate was designed to explore is: Are we facing up to our problems of the shortage of scientists and technicians with sufficient energy and sense of purpose? I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was right when he indicated that the first necessity must be for the people, and particularly the younger generation, to change their thought and habits, and that the imagination, in particular of the young, must be caught by the prizes which a technical twentieth century can put within their grasp. The noble Lord, Lord Godber, in his interesting speech, seemed to me to put his finger on the pulse of the matter when he said that mathematics form the basis of understanding in science and technology, and that a liking for mathematics should be stimulated in the child in the primary school. I notice that he had some doubts whether at present women teachers were doing all they could in that direction. I was interested to note that Sir Edward Appleton, in his 520 Reith Lecture last week, said almost exactly the same thing in almost exactly the same words. He said:If we want to encourage a greater technological contribution to our processes of manufacture, one of our principal needs is for more teachers to teach more students in the basic sciences of mathematics, physics and chemistry.I was brought up in the classical tradition and I confess still to a sort of subconscious hesitation when I read out the verdict of these eminent men. But I would testify, here and now, that I am quite convinced that they are right. Lord Caldecote, I think, said just now that we must get away from a kind of intellectual snobbery in the universities. I agree that that is not an easy thing to do. But one noble Lord has said that while he thought that we had got away from the snobbery based on the idea that the classical scholar could look down on the scientist, he was not sure that the pure scientist was not looking down now on the applied scientist. So perhaps we have not got away from all forms of snobbery yet. Nevertheless. I feel that we must force ourselves out of our traditional habits and thinking in universities and in administrative and Government circles if we are really to give to the engineer the status which he deserves in society.
Lord Simon of Wythenshawe said that the Russians arc making great advances in the fields of science and engineering because of the prestige they give to the profession of the engineer. I think we can do much more than we already do. Parents and teachers of all kinds can, and should, carry out the kind of propaganda for which Lord Silkin was asking, because until there is a firmer conviction and grasp of how greatly our fortunes depend on engineering we are not going to attract all the young people that we need.
In this field of developing science and technology in our schools, we can report progress. The training colleges for teachers are strengthening their mathematics and science departments and the number of teachers taking supplementary courses has risen from 50 last year to 200 in this term. The necessity for school laboratories has, I think, become widely realised and recognised. The fund created by industry for the provision of new laboratories at independent and direct grant schools has done perhaps some of the most valuable work that has been done in this direction for 521 many years. I should like to say how grateful the Government are to industry for the part they have played in this matter. Maintained schools have had Government grants of £13 million since 1945 for the same purpose. Again, if we compare the old Higher School Certificate results of 1950 with the General Certificate of Education at advanced level, which is its counterpart to-day. we find that whereas passes in English and History have gone up by 12 per cent., those in chemistry are up 27 per cent. and physics 48 per cent.
One noble Lord spoke about the grammar schools and the public schools and asked about the percentage of boys specialising in mathematics and science. In the boys' grammar schools nowadays some 60 per cent. of the sixth formers are specialising in mathematics or science. The figure for the public schools is about 50 per cent. So it will be seen that they are coming along. The complaint that, even so, science is not getting its fair share of the best brains does not seem to be borne out by the facts, because 51 per cent. of the State scholars last year were going to the universities to read mathematics or science. Lord Silkin asked where are these young people to come from—these young technicians and technologists and scientists. I have some more figures here. The 18-year-olds in 1955 numbered 640.000; in 1965 they will number 850.000, and the numbers staying on in school between the ages of 17 and 18 are increasing by 5 per cent. each year.
One of the things which causes me to have doubts about mathematics is that by statistics apparently you can prove almost anything. But it really seems to me that there is here a reservoir of young people upon which we can draw for the increasing numbers of scientists and technicians we shall need. I think anyone who has anything to do with the young to-day will testify that they are almost as much at home with the turbo-prop engine, the breeder reactor and the isotope as we were in my young days with the magic lantern, the pedal bicycle and roller skates. I have a small 12-year-old acquaintance. About nine months ago react three articles in the Economiston nuclear reactors and the atom. I thought the articles were very good and that my young acquaintance ought to read them. I found that not only had he read them 522 but that he was able to put me right on things which I was unable to understand. I think that that was at once a humiliating and also an encouraging experience. I believe the younger generation are becoming much more at home in the scientific atmosphere.
At this time of the day I am not going to repeat to your Lordships the progress, the programme and the scale of expenditure outlined by my noble friend the Lord President. But whether the increases go to technical colleges or universities, to teaching or to building, the purpose is to achieve the minimum annual production of 20,000—instead of 10,000—qualified scientists and engineers by l970. And it is essential that we should get then if our industry is to prosper and to compete in world markets.
What is the right machinery for achieving the expansion of science and engineering? On that matter there has been almost remarkable unanimity in the debate to-day. In the old days, I remember that when debates of this sort took place there was great controversy as to whether this sort of expansion should be based on the universities, or whether there should be technological colleges with their own degree-giving powers. Each system had powerful advocates. The noble Marquess the Lord President made it clear in his speech to-day that the Government have refused to base their efforts exclusively on either one or other of these main methods of training. He has told the House of the Government's efforts to expand the output of both the universities and the technical colleges—particularly the new colleges of advanced technology. I think that this debate to-day has lent support to the view that both these channels have their peculiar merits, and that a case has not been made out for concentrating on one to the exclusion of another. In fie words of the recent Report on Scientific and Engineering Manpower…there is little risk that the greatest possible combined efforts of the universities and technical colleges will result in any overproduction of professional scientists and engineers during the 1960's.There is one honourable exception to the view that all this increased technical and technological education should be done within the ambits of the existing universities, and that is Lord Cherwell. I thought at one moment that he was 523 coming round to the view that the creation of new colleges of technology, carrying a diploma equivalent to an honours degree, was the right way to deal with this matter, and that he was going to be satisfied. But he clearly returned to his old love, the technological university with degree-giving powers, and insisted that no other form of organisation would do. I have often talked the question over with the noble Lord, when I was Minister in charge of these matters in Scotland and had a good deal to do with the Glasgow Technical College and the University, and I remember that he used to call me "The hammer of the technologists". But is the noble Lord right? I myself feel incompetent to answer that question, but I know that many scientists as eminent as the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, think that he is wrong. Until he has convinced them, I do not think that he has won the day with his argument, and there is the strongest case for using and supporting the technical colleges, the new colleges of advanced technology and the universities, with all the resources which we can put at their command.
May I sum up the Government's view? We are in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, about the objective of doubling the output of qualified scientists and engineers. But he apparently thinks that the extra places needed should all be provided at the universities. As I have explained, the expansion in the production of scientists and professional engineers, particularly the latter, will come both from technical colleges. particularly the colleges of advanced technology, and from the universities. It will not be physically possible, I am advised, to concentrate the expansion before 1970 entirely on the universities, as the noble Lord seems to want, and try to produce professional engineers from the technical colleges as a kind of bonus. The Government have already committed themselves to expenditure on a very considerable scale, both on technical colleges and on universities, and it is our intention that the men the experts say we want shall be provided by the scheme which the Government have in mind.
524 I am grateful to noble Lords who have recognised that, within our resources, which are not unlimited, the Government are doing their best to try to show the results which' the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, so rightly wants. I hope, therefore, that he will feel rewarded at the result of this debate to-day, and I should like to express to him the gratitude of the Government, and I believe of the whole of your Lordships' House, for the signal service which he has rendered in bringing forward this Motion.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD SIMON OF WYTHENSHAWE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said, and gratified by the obviously exceedingly important debate which has arisen as the result of my Motion. There seems to me to be two important results. First, opinion in your Lordships' House has moved strongly in favour of more scientists and more engineers, and your Lordships are inclined to give engineers a higher status than perhaps was the case two years ago. I think that that is an important thing, which I hope will go right through the country. The second result is the announcement which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made about the Government's decisions. If I understand them rightly, there are three main decisions. which the noble Earl has just repeated: first of all, to encourage the universities to expand over the next quinquennium at a greater rate than the universities themselves find possible, a decision with which, needless to say. I am wholeheartedly in sympathy, and I really hope that the Government are going to do that.
The second decision is that the Government are fully supporting the Manpower Report, in the version which I should have preferred namely, the version recommended in the Report. That is a very important decision. The third decision is that building grants for the next three years are to be slightly higher than the level I suggested, which is remarkably encouraging. I sincerely thank the Government for having made a great advance in this vital field, as compared with two years ago, and I accept that with heartfelt gratitude and enthusiasm. I hope that in two or three years' time we 525 may have another debate, when equally great advances may be announced by whatever Government may then be in power. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.