HL Deb 16 March 1960 vol 221 cc1192-258

2.41 p.m.

LORD GREENHILL rose to call attention to adult education; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, if I were asked to justify my taking up this subject of adult education in your Lordships' House, I should be more hesitant if I did not remember that among the many eminent Members of your Lordships' House there were those of unusual eminence in the field of adult education. I have only to recall William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, for sixteen years or so, was the Chairman of the Workers' Educational Association. One has only to remember the late Viscount Haldane, who was Life President of the British Institute of Adult Education; and one has only to think of the late Lord Lindsay of Birker, Master of Balliol, who, even during his professorship of philosophy at Glasgow, took upon himself the delivery of lectures to adult students as part of a mission he felt he possessed; and who, even later, as Master of Balliol, did not think it beneath his dignity to entertain, in the sanctity of the Master's lodgings, working men and women students who that year had come down to Oxford to a summer school. With that kind of background. I feel that there is every justification for raising this matter in your Lordships' House.

But even had there not been that justification, there is the justification that in the debate which took place a fortnight ago on the problems and opportunities of leisure, which seem to me to be closely bound up with this business of education, seventeen Members of your Lordships' House, to my pleasant surprise, felt the desire to take part. I think that a great debt is owed to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, who opened that debate, because it seemed clear to me (unfortunately, I was not present, but I read every word of what was said during the debate) that he was filled, as were many of your Lordships, with a feeling of anxiety about the state of the people's leisure in these days. One sensed that throughout almost every speech. I read with a great deal of pleasure the remarks made by the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, in the course of that debate, and particularly, if I may single it out, his reference to the nature of a home and the influences that a home may have upon people. I could only wish that that picture of a home were more common than I am afraid it is. Another speech that impressed me, if she will pardon my referring to it, was that made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, and her references to the process of "brain-washing" and its danger in the community to-day. These were things which it was necessary to say, and which I am glad were said by Members of your Lordships' House.

To-day what I am concerned with is adult education; and by that I mean what is called liberal adult education, in which the education is undertaken not for any purposes of vocation but because of a desire to be kept up to date in those branches of knowledge and learning in which one hopes all intelligent men and women feel that they ought to participate. Perhaps I may, for the benefit of those of your Lordships who have not actually participated in these classes, describe it in this way. You have a group of men and women, some of whom may, indeed, have passed through university but many of whom have never been to university and whose education is not of the broadest; but they all have that deep desire for further knowledge which I think is possessed by many people, learned and unlearned. They come to the class, whatever the subject may be, and listen to a lecture by a properly academically-trained tutor who will lecture to them for an hour; and after that hour—and this is one of the characteristics of these classes—there is discussion between the students in the class and the tutor himself.

To provide that kind of tuition is much more difficult and requires many more qualifications than are needed by an ordinary intra-mural lecturer who can deliver to his students whatever it is he wishes them to know without any question being shot back at him to indicate that perhaps he may be wrong. So there is the double process going on, in which not only is the tutor teaching them but he is himself learning through these adult men and women, for they are bringing to his knowledge a kind of life of which perhaps he knows nothing at all. It is, therefore, one of the most valuable kinds of education that we have in the country.

It is quite true that nowadays we have erected an immense administrative structure in regard to the ordinary primary and secondary education processes provided by the nation. But although it is understandable that emphasis should be laid upon the education of the young going through our schools, because we regard them, and rightly so, as our future citizens, what we sometimes do not recognise is that these young boys and girls are being taught and being brought up in a manner which the adults determine. In other words, the education of our young is an adult-based kind of instruction. Therefore it follows, I suggest, that if the adults are themselves not acquainted with problems of which they should have some knowledge—if they do not understand the directions in which human thought is travelling; if they have no real understanding of the problems which an adult is supposed to understand and participate in—then it seems to me that not only does that primary and secondary, and even tertiary, education tend to suffer, but there is a case for ensuring that our adult population is kept up to a high level of understanding.

These thoughts are not original. This kind of thinking has been considered by numerous bodies and by countless numbers of people. Although it is true that the number involved to-day in this business of adult education is comparatively small, the figures, so far as I have been able to ascertain them, show that in the Workers' Educational Association there are some 83,930 students attending classes which come under the educational regulations. In addition, some 10,600 students are attending week-end schools and day schools, and a further 12,000 or so who are attending other schools. In other words, there is a total of some 107,000 students under that heading alone. In addition, one finds that there are 115,000 students attending extra-mural classes. The figures are to be found in Command Paper 832 of the University Grants Committee Reports.

It would appear, then, that we are concerned with a comparatively small proportion of the total adult population; and that, of course, is perfectly true. I would ask your Lordships to remember, however, that when these 200,000 or so men and women are spread throughout the community, in towns and villages, they have a levelling effect upon the population as a whole; and that tends to have an influence far greater than the mere numbers themselves would tend to indicate. I can tell your Lordships of an experience I had last Saturday. I attended what is called a meeting of class delegates. There would be about 120 or 130 men and women, some of them working-class, some perhaps teachers, and some of no occupation at all. It was their business to tell us what they thought of the classes they were attending, what suggestions they could make for improving the education offered, and what new suggestions they had either for expanding or for altering what it was they were learning. I was amazed to find the variety of subjects in which these ordinary men and women were interested.

Speaking from memory, and thinking at random of the questions they raised, there were archæology, industrial relations, psycho-analysis—Heaven knows what they wanted that for! but that was one of the subjects—classical Greek and modern Greek. Incidentally, those who were interested in modern Greek had apparently decided that a visit to Athens would help them in their studies of modern Greek. Much to my surprise, the number wishing to join the trip to Athens was greater than could be accommodated—and that in these days! And these people, remember, are working men and women. I confess that, to me, that was a most encouraging experience, because here was this varied group with apparently no common interest other than that they were students of the extra-mural classes in Glasgow; yet they showed this wide desire for knowledge within that informal gathering. That was the kind of experience I had as recently as last Saturday.

In speaking to your Lordships it is customary to declare an interest, and although there is no question of financial interest in this matter the interest I wish to declare is that I happen to be an elected office bearer, in a voluntary capacity, in the Workers' Educational Association in Scotland. I occupy a similar position in the Scottish Institute of Adult Education, and I am also concerned with the administration, in a voluntary capacity, of Newbattle Abbey Residential College for Adults. In telling your Lordships this, I do not wish to appear to be the mouthpiece of any of these organisations: I am speaking from my own experience and in the opinions I express am not committing anyone but myself. Incidentally, as another indication of the interest which your Lordships show in these matters, I should perhaps add that the noble Earl, Lord Elgin, is the chairman of the Board of Governors of Newbattle Abbey Residential College for Adults and has been so continuously since its foundation in 1937. And Newbattle Abbey itself, a beautiful place which was certainly more beautiful before the war, was gifted to us by the late Lord Lothian. Therefore I say that we have every justification for discussing this matter in your Lordships' House.

I should like to say a word or two about previous inquiries into this matter of adult education not because it is of vital interest to your Lordships, but purely as a matter of historical interest and, perhaps, a little amusement. I was interested to read a short time ago that a man named John Anderson, an F.R.S. of London and Edinburgh, the founder of what is now the Glasgow College of Science and Technology, was farsighted enough to see in his day—this was at the end of the eighteenth century—that working men had a right to understand some of the scientific developments then taking place. It is said of him and, by the way, of Dr. Birkbeck, whose name is not unknown in London, that while they were having certain instruments made by tinsmiths in Glasgow, the questions asked by these tinsmiths were such that both Anderson and Birkbeck came to the conclusion that these men were intelligent enough to benefit from a little more experience of scientific questions. Although they were discouraged by their fellow professors, they persisted in their efforts, and it is surprising to note that Professor Anderson had what he called the anti-toga class, because these men were not entitled to wear the academic toga that intra-mural students wear on these occasions. Dr. Birkbeck, too, was told not to have anything at all to do with these artisans because, first of all, they would not come; secondly, if they did they would not listen; and, thirdly, if they listened they would not understand. The fact is that not only did they come in great numbers, but their numbers increased until they reached several hundreds.

That is only a sideline. What really tickled me was the instruction left by John Anderson in his will. He left instructions that there should be given "at least once a year" a course to be called 'the Ladies' Course of Physical Lectures.' … The audience shall consist of both ladies and gentlemen. … The intention of this course of lectures is that the ladies of Glasgow may have an opportunity, for a small sum and in the early part of life, of being at several of these courses of lectures, by which their education for domestic affairs will not be interrupted, no pedantic language will be acquired, as is often the case in more advanced age, and such a stock of general knowledge will be laid in as will make them the most accomplished ladies in Europe. The extraordinary thing is that such a class was formed. The number of ladies and gentlemen attending Anderson's Institution, as it was called, during its first session in 1796–97 was 972, about one-half of whom were ladies. Professor Garnet, who was the man who was teaching these ladies, in his concluding address to his audience in 1797, remarked that this fact forms an era in the annals of female education which posterity may contemplate with peculiar pleasure; and cannot fail to animate the public and the managers with the strongest zeal to render permanent an Institution so well adapted to promote useful knowledge and improvement in science and philosophy applied to the various branches of trade and manufactures carried on in this populous city and neighbourhood". Could anything be more desirable than that kind of adult education?

There have been a number of inquiries into this business of adult education. In 1909 there was a report of the Oxford University Delegacy which established tutorial classes, and which, if I thought I might trespass on your Lordships' patience, I would try to read. The gist is that this shows, in those days, fifty years ago, the growing demand by adults for education. It was agreed to set up tutorial classes, classes which demanded a three years' continuous attendance, with the promise that the students would do prescribed reading and writing of essays; and, as I know from my own experience, some amazingly good results were obtained through that effort. Only in April last year the Jubilee celebration was enjoyed by those who were interested in this particular movement, and one is glad to think that men like Tawney, who is happily still with us, were among the original tutors. Then there was the famous First Report of the Ministry of Reconstruction on adult education, which came from a very strong committee headed by the then Master of Balliol, Dr. A. L. Smith. I am sure that many of your Lordships must have seen it. I have it here now, and it is extraordinary how that particular Report not only stimulated a demand for adult education but was able to forecast the trend of demand by working men and women in the years later on. After the Education Act, 1944 (1945–46 in Scotland), there was the Nuffield Report on the Further Education of Men and Women, in which they too emphasised the amazing importance and value of systematic adult education among the non-academic section of the community.

In 1952 there was a Scottish Advisory Council Report on further education, and although in that particular Report I found it necessary to enter a small Minority Report, nevertheless on the whole it, too, emphasised the importance of further education. In 1954, again, the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, was instrumental in getting produced what became known as the Ashby Report on the Organisation and Finance of Adult Education. It is an objective statement of the situation which does not hesitate to criticise where criticism may be thought to be necessary, but which nevertheless repeatedly emphasises the importance of adult education and its encouragement. Then in the years 1921 to 1939 the Board of Education, as it then was, through its Adult Education Committee, issued a series of Reports which I would strongly recommend people to read even to-day. They do not appear to be dated; they are not speaking of a remote past; they are as applicable to-day as they were then. I would ask those of your Lordships who are interested to read one in particular which I have with me, because it is really an inspiring account of the scope and practice of adult education.

These Reports which I have mentioned to your Lordships reflect not only the continuous demand for adult education but also the changes that have taken place in the nature of that demand. It is true that originally the demand arose out of a consciousness of a lack of early education; but in the process of time, when, nationally, by the force of public opinion, education was increased, and broader-based, when even the standards of education were improved, that lack of early education was no longer the dominant feature of the demand. There was the growth of the franchise; a great many more people were allowed to vote than previously. As a result of that wider spread of political opportunity, men and women were anxious to participate actively both in local and in national government—and I need not remind your Lordships that great progress has been made since those days. Thirdly, it was realised that even working for one's livelihood, even participating in the government for one's city or country, was not the whole of life; that an adult life demanded something more than work and something even more than Government; it demanded an enjoyment of the amenities of life. People realised that there were such things as music and drama, literature and poetry, which they were able to enjoy and demanded to enjoy, and which we, as legislators, felt it was our duty to provide. That is the kind of picture with which, until recently, we found ourselves confronted. There was this demand, a limited demand, but a demand by a socially conscious type of man and woman, and the machine had already begun to provide these things.

Within recent years, however, as a result of the great developments in scientific knowledge, as a result of the constant urge to want to know more and more, changes have taken place in almost every aspect of life. These changes have not merely been great in themselves but have come at a rate more rapid than ever before. The changes which we thought were appropriate, say, in the course of a generation are regarded now as being quite normal if they occur every decade, and it is the difficulty of adapting ourselves to this rapidly changing kind of activity that raises one of the many problems we have to face to-day.

It seems to me that the greatest need to-day, not only for ourselves in this country but for civilisation as a whole, arises out of the two great human discoveries that have been made within recent times and the vital need to adapt ourselves to them—I refer to the discovery and control of nuclear energy, on the one hand, and, on the other, to what the noble Lady called "brainwashing", but what I should prefer to call the conditioning of reflexes or, if you like, the Pavlovian techniques which have now become part and parcel of our normal living.

I shall say nothing at all about the nuclear energy part, because one hopes that, if the scientists have their way, the amount of energy that can be engendered from these high energy-producing substances will at least have the effect of making less necessary the expenditure of human muscular energy, which could be diverted into more pleasant channels. It is much better to be a marathon runner, or even someone who goes from John o'Groats to the South, using his or her physical energy in that way, than to use is as, unfortunately, we have seen it used.

But one problem we are bound to face is the fact that to-day we are faced with a series of attacks upon the human mind which, unless we are careful, is going to transform the kind of thing we are doing now. Your Lordships will know that there has been a great outcry about a certain statement made by Professor Kennedy at Edinburgh a short time ago. I think there has been a tendency to overlook the fact that Professor Kennedy's motive in addressing his audience was to show that this business of "brainwashing" could be applied beneficially to the delirious state of aged folk in order to restore them to good mental health. Although there has been this sidetracking of the whole purpose elsewhere, let us remember that this is not the only aspect of "brain-washing" of which we are aware. The influence of television, of broadcasting, of newspaper advertising, of Press headlines, constitutes a form of "brainwashing" to which we succumb almost without knowing it. It exercises its influence because there is an uncritical audience looking at it and being influenced by it, and it seems to me that unless we take steps to teach people how to view critically, or even to resist, where necessary, the harmful influences of this terrible onslaught upon their minds, we are running dangers of an awful kind.

As I have been saying these things to your Lordships, it occurred to me that perhaps we do not realise sufficiently strongly the effect of this propaganda effort which is even now going on throughout the world. We do not realise that if Pavlov was able to put his dog into a state of neurosis, his techniques have certainly managed to send other countries (I do not wish to mention any names) into a state of neurosis when they wish it. At the same time, that technique has been used for the purposes of giving hope to other sections of the world, particularly the Far East. But there is the consolation that, knowing how these things are done, and how they can be circumvented, just as Pavlov's dog was cured from being a neurotic dog to being a normal dog, so human beings also can be put into a state of neurosis and, when necessary, restored to normal health—if there is such a thing as normal mental health. These are forces, I say, with which we are faced to-day, of which I do not think the general public is sufficiently conscious, and which I do not think the authorities are themselves examining with the care that is necessary. For so far, at any rate, there appears to have been no kind of organised effort to undo the harm that could be done or, if you like, to do the good that we should like to do in return. All this is part and parcel of this process of adult education which I have tried to describe.

The question therefore arises, what is it that I ask you to do; and what is it that we ought to press to be done? As your Lordships will have noticed, I have not dealt at all with administration. I have not even attempted to suggest how much money might be necessary in order to bring about the kind of changes that we should like to see. That it will cost money is pretty obvious. That it will need perhaps some little more administration—not much more—is perhaps equally clear. But when you compare the importance of what I am asking you to consider with what you would get in return, such cost, either in men or money, is trivial compared with the advantage that would be gained.

My Lords, what are we asking for? I imagine, first of all, to come down to brass tacks, that it would be an advantage if the term "adult education" were reintroduced as a form of education having sufficient standing of its own to be regarded as a separate kind of education distinct from the many varieties of education included in the spectrum of further education. That is not asking much, except that it concentrates on giving a measure of autonomy, if you like, by way of education, the importance of which we are now, I hope, beginning to realise. Secondly, one feels that one ought to interest, even more than is the case at present, the Ministry of Education, the Scottish Education Department, local authorities, trade unions, co-operative societies, and voluntary bodies generally into a more active realisation of the importance of the work they are undertaking in this field of adult education. We have to make people realise that the demand for adult education might, and should, become a matter of social prestige, instead of being regarded merely as a kind of apology for a shortcoming in one's earlier education.

I should like to see adult education centres especially erected for the purpose of enabling adults to indulge in intelligent conversation, even to provide them with an occasional cup of tea and a bun, but to give them a kind of home in which there is an atmosphere of mutual interest in matters concerned with adult education. I should like, for example, to see the encouragement of residential adult education, in the sense that in these days, with paid holidays, men and women might be given a Sabbatical month, two months or three months in which they could spend their time in the atmosphere of a college and so as a result of that stay, become better and more effective citizens. Reverting again to my own personal experience, of the days when leisure was not leisure of choice but was compulsory leisure because there was no employment for the leisured, one man in particular comes to my mind: a man I would describe as being almost a chronic unemployed man, rather dull in manner. He spent two sessions at a residential college, went on from there to Glasgow University and emerged with, I believe, Second Class Honours in philosophy and economics. I saw him again, after he had obtained his degree, as an applicant for as post. I tell your Lordships that if ever the character, the appearance, the manner, of a man was transformed as a result of that stay, that man's was. He was a different personality—solely because he had obtained the advantage of adult education.

I have trespassed upon your Lordships' time long enough, and therefore I would only say this: although this may appear to be one of those idealist matters with which perhaps so many of us are concerned, I feel that it has its practical side, this socially important aspect, which none of us should neglect.

I beg to move for Papers.

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are all greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, for having introduced this Motion into your Lordships' House this afternoon. In the past few months we have been greatly preoccupied with the needs of youth and have had a great number of Reports to consider. We started with the Report of the Carr Committee on the recruitment and training of young workers in industry. Then we had the voluminous but excellent Report from the Crowther Committee on the education of boys and girls between fifteen and eighteen; and recently we have had the Report of the Albemarle Committee on the Youth Service. Nor are we yet at an end of our reading, for there is still to come the report of Sir Colin Anderson on the present system of awards and grants to students attending universities, and the report of the Wolfenden Committee on sport. So I think we need no justification for spending one afternoon on the needs of adults.

Some of us may from time to time feel a sense of diffidence about discuss- ing the needs of youth, but we need have no inhibitions to-day, as adults, for nobody can challenge our authority to speak. I believe it is a common experience, part of the waywardness of the human character, that many of us, while at school, are none too anxious to learn, but often in later life regret those missed opportunities, and want to further our education. I am sure that we are all convinced that it is the duty of society to provide for such needs. It was to provide for them that the movement for adult education came into being. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, has described its historical aspects and its present application. I am primarily concerned with a rather narrower field—with the Welsh National Council of Y.M.C.As., which is one of the eight bodies recognised in Wales by the Ministry of Education under the Further Education Grant Regulations, 1959.

I believe that our record is a good one. For the last three years we have attracted over 4,000 students every year to our lectures and short terminal courses, and these have covered a very wide field—history, religion, art, music, current affairs, literature and science. As becomes a voluntary body, the Welsh National Council has also instituted several pioneering efforts. One, which I think is of especial interest, is the conduct of adult education courses in hospitals, which began last year in the Bridgend Hospital Group. Lectures were arranged in conjunction with the medical superintendent and chaplains and turned out to be an outstanding success; and it is very much hoped that we shall continue with those hospital courses this year.

The development of our adult educational work in Wales, however, depends on the amount of grant we receive from the Ministry of Education. For six years, until last year, this was frozen at the princely sum of £700 a year; and last year it was augmented by a further £50. This sum is not sufficient to keep pace with rising costs, let alone to develop new ideas, such as the hospital courses I have mentioned. I fully realise that there are innumerable demands on Her Majesty's Government to supply additional finance for various causes, but I only hope that at a time when the purse-strings are somewhat looser than they have been recently, and when more money is being devoted to causes such as the Youth Service and the arts, some additional money may be made available to the adult education movement so that it may be possible at least to keep pace with the increased cost which it faces, and even, I hope, perhaps to widen its scope.

Apart from these grant-aided services, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to some other bodies which are providing adult education, in the fullest sense, without grant aid and using the most modern means of communication which are all readily available in the home, such as the gramophone, radio and television. The gramophone record is particularly appropriate for teaching music and music appreciation. May I mention, as an example, one particular body working in this field—the Recorded Music Circle—which recently received special mention by Mr. Edward Greenfield in the Guardian. The Recorded Music Circle offers its members a planned and well-balanced selection of recordings of chamber music; and in addition there is provided a free magazine which helps members to appreciate what they are listening to and to acquire a general musical education. Unfortunately, this Circle does not run at a profit, but its sponsors, the World Record Club, consider it well worth while continuing in the interests of music.

In the field of radio the British Broadcasting Corporation, in my opinion, have done a first class job. Very soon after the Corporation came into existence, in 1928, they set up a special Committee to consider this very subject of adult education. This Committee drew a distinction between the indirect forms of education that were spread, in any case, through their normal programmes, and more formal educational broadcasts. I believe most of your Lordships would agree that in their general sound broadcasting programmes the Corporation have lived up to their duty to inform as well as to entertain their listeners.

As to formal educational broadcasts, that Committee recommended that a service of at least one hour daily, after 7.30 p.m., on the only wavelength that was then available, should be instituted, and that there should be a weekly illustrated educational journal. This journal was supplied and is now familiar to us all in the shape of the Listener. The more formal educational recommendation was put into effect, and from 1929 to 1947 the B.B.C. produced special programmes devised for listeners' discussion groups. These were organised under the guidance of an external body—the Central Council for Group Listening—and the groups themselves were organised by the education officers of the School Broadcasting Council. This was a pioneering effort, but, unfortunately, did not prove highly successful. At a time when sound broadcasting was increasing at a very rapid rate and the number of listeners increased by 11 million, these group listeners increased by only some 4,000; and although 4,000 seems to us a considerable figure, in relation to the total number of listeners it could not justify the use of the air. Moreover, it was found that these broadcasts to group listeners depended fundamentally on the group leadership forming the group rather than on the provision of special broadcast programmes, and it became apparent that the B.B.C. were merely duplicating the work that was already excellently done by the universities, the Workers' Educational Association and other bodies. So gradually these efforts were dropped and finally came to an end in 1946.

However, another form of group listening of a rather specialised sort was revived after the war when the Forces' Educational Broadcasts were instituted in 1948. These were so successful that the B.B.C. tried to put them into practice in other fields by finding other types of closed audience to which they might broadcast special programmes—such groups as the miners and the housewives are instances. But unfortunately this, too, did not prove to be very successful, and so a re-assessment of the situation from the sound-broadcasting point of view was made, and the conclusion was come to that the essence of broadcasting—its fundamental basis—was to the individual listener in his home. But it was still thought that there was a need to provide educational programmes for him, and especially for those people who might well be outside the reach of other agencies. It was decided to produce carefully planned programmes designed to reach specific audiences and, in particular, audiences of a known educational level.

This led to the provision in the Home Service and the Light and Third Programmes of special broadcasts with a stated purpose for a stated audience, and usually launched after a very thorough audience study beforehand. To popularise these efforts the B.B.C. have appointed a liaison officer who acts as a channel of information from the Corporation to the world of adult education. In addition, they publish with the Radio Times twice a year a special page entitled "Listen and Look" which gives details of all the forthcoming programmes of an educational nature. Particularly successful in this field have been, for example, programmes on teaching foreign languages. German, French and Spanish have all been successfully put over. A recent course in Russian has proved particularly popular, and the special handbook which is distributed in connection with it has sold to the extent of some 55,000 copies. Recently a new venture has been a programme entitled "The Painting of the Month", and each month a particular painting is discussed and criticised. In conjunction with it a coloured print is issued, and already there are over 8,000 subscribers. In general, there seems to be a real future for these educational programmes, not only on languages but in a wider field of history, science and the arts, planned in the series to have a cumulative effect.

All these programmes since 1957 have been concentrated in Network Three, which was specifically designed for specialised programmes of this sort; and since they have been transferred there has been a considerable expansion of the broadcasting time allotted to these educational broadcasts: some 70 extra hours have been added to the annual schedule. But although these programmes are well patronised by those who are interested in furthering their own education in the particular subjects which are covered, there is still a certain failure to reach the mass audience, and especially the less well-educated, because since the coming of television the mass audiences have tended to become viewers rather than listeners.

It is most important, therefore, that if the B.B.C.'s general educational work is valued, and if it is to be continued, there must be provision for it in the television service. Unfortunately, with only one channel at their disposal this is no easy task. There are, however, a number of programmes included in the B.B.C.'s output which are broadly educational and thought provoking—such programmes as Monitor, which is a fortnightly programme on the arts, viewed by about 2½ million people, or Science is News, a fortnightly scientific programme which attracts an audience of 5¼ million people, and other series and single programmes. It is in the earnest desire to expand this type of programme and, through the medium of television, to interest a much larger audience in informed, informative and thought-provoking programmes that the B.B.C. are so anxious to obtain another channel.

My Lords, I know that this is not the place or time to express any claim for further television channels, but since we are discussing adult education, I think that if we can take into account, as I believe we should, the importance of these powerful means of mass communication—the television service as well as the sound broadcasting service—we must take note of the fact that the B.B.C., who have, in my opinion, accomplished so much in sound broadcasting, are severely restricted at present in television. I hope that the result of this debate will be to demonstrate that a large number of organisations are working devotedly in the cause of adult education, to draw the attention of the Government to their efforts, and to persuade the Government to look with sympathy on their needs.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, I have no present business interest at all in adult education, but I ought perhaps to admit that I once held a salaried post part of whose function was the giving of adult education. I will only say on that matter that it was a good long time ago, before more than a few noble Lords in this Chamber to-day could have been adult. It was 57 years ago when I was Warden of Toynbee Hall, and in that capacity I had the interesting experience, with Canon Barnett, of seeing a young and very untidy looking man come to the door of Toynbee Hall: he was called Albert Mansbridge. I remember the Canon observing to me about him after he had left, "That young man has fire in his belly." I am glad to say he had. As the Canon was not able to preside in person at Toynbee Hall when a meeting was held which really started the Workers' Educational Association, I had the great privilege of presiding in his place. I have always admired from the bottom of my heart the interests of the Workers' Educational Association and what it has done and does.

As I have said, I also had as one of my functions the giving of adult education lectures myself. I remember that once three of us at Toynbee Hall organised a set of lectures on how England was governed and ought to be governed. The last lecture of the course which we organised was called, "The real governors of England"; and, by a majority of two to one, we decided that that lecture ought to be given by Harry Tawney, who was afterwards my brother-in-law. He gave that lecture on, "The real governors of England". I have never yet discovered who they are. I may say that there was then in existence—perhaps many of your Lordships have not heard of it—a body called the Society for Political and Economic Education, and we offered to go and give individual lectures if they could find an audience. I offered three lectures: one on unemployment, one on the growth of London and one on Wordsworth. For the first two I had plenty of invitations to go and lecture, but for Wordsworth I had to wait until he had been dead for a hundred years, and I gave that lecture on his centenary. That is an explanation of my wicked past in adult education.

Let me now come to a more modern time, and, in particular, to that very interesting and thoughtful Report on the Organisation and Finance of Adult Education, which was issued by a Committee which began work in 1953 and went on to 1954—the Ashby Committee. That Report is well worth reading with care, and I have read it with care, but one must realise that it is largely concerned with problems of machinery and how to share the task of adult education among four distinct bodies: the Ministry of Education; the universities, above all in their extra-mural side; the local education authorities; and voluntary agencies such as the Workers' Educational Association. I am not going to spend any time in going into detail on their discussion of those problems—I hope that all of your Lordships will have the chance of reading that Report and of studying it—but I want to refer to two things in particular which that Committee emphasised. The first is the outstanding importance of the continuation and extension of adult education; and the second is the limited scope in numbers of the audience for adult education as they found it in 1953. Of the 31 million adults, as they reckoned at that time, 150,000—that is, one in every twenty—were attendants upon adult education. We have to realise that the numbers are, and I think they will aways remain, small. I am not discouraged by that, because I think that the smaller the audience the more select it is. I hope that that will not lead noble Lords present to run away and to leave only the most select.

I accept both those points so strongly made by this Committee, but I want to add two things arising out of my experience since 1953. I want to emphasise two things that have happened. The first is the growing extent of leisure. We have had some discussion on that, and I need merely mention it. We know that there is going to be more and more leisure, ill-distributed, as, under full employment, hours are shortened. There will be more and more time that people will have for themselves to use or misuse. My second point is the growing need to ensure that leisure is put to good use and not to no use or to bad use. So far as I could see, neither of those two points was recognised at all by the Committee of 1953, and I hope your Lordships will allow me to emphasise them both here to-day.

The first of them, as I say, flows from the progressive shortening of working hours and from full employment; the second flows from the development of broadcasting and television, including in particular Independent Television, financed largely by advertisements. In adopting that form of television the Government of the day rejected the all-but-unanimous view of the Committee on Broadcasting over which I presided between 1949 and 1950. They rejected it under the influence of one member—a very distinguished member. He is now Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and was then Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. He signed a Minority Report, and he carried his view with the Government against the whole of the rest of the Committee.

We now have television with an immense audience. I do not know whether the audience for the B.B.C. or for Independent Television is the greater, but I suggest to your Lordships that Independent Television, above all, calls for a thorough, searching and impartial inquiry to-day. A friend of mine who is in a position where he employs a considerable staff, both of men and of women, told me only this morning that all his staff have television at home and also where they work, and that in his view most of the television is appalling and ought to be abolished. That is the view of only one friend of mine. I am not expressing my view at all, but I want to urge that the time has come for a serious, impartial study and report on what is reaching the masses of our people to-day in the way of television and of advertising under the play of a financial and not an educational motive. Let us have a thoroughly independent report on that.

My friend who told me that television was so horrible offered to let me come and see it. I really do not feel that I ought to be compelled to go and see it, although I will do that if no one else will—but only if no one else will. I need not say that I do not have a television set of my own, and I do not think I shall ever have one, at any rate while television remains under its present kind of control. That is my first practical suggestion for dealing with this problem of adult education, and, if there is mis-education, for discovering it and preventing it.

My second point follows out of that most interesting and valuable account which has been given by the noble Lord who spoke just before me, about what the B.B.C. has done to turn itself round and to undertake education. I feel that, in spite of what the B.B.C. has tried and abandoned, we ought to persuade our broadcasting and television authorities to regard contribution to adult education as about the most serious responsibility that they have—at any rate as serious as anything else. I hope they will continue to study the question of method which distinguishes adult education from practically all other forms of education. When you have little schoolboys and schoolgirls sitting in front of you, you pump stuff into them. But the method of adult education is essentially that of getting people to learn from one another, to argue with one another, to disagree with one another and, finally, to teach themselves by discussion. That is surely necessary, because all these adults have a vote, however they are going to use it. Let them practise thinking for themselves, and let them be helped to do so by what pours into them from broadcasting and television.

So I hope once again, in spite of what the B.B.C. has done already—and I am grateful to the noble Lord, as I think we all should be, for having given that interesting account of it—that the broadcasting and television authorities will set out to devise group listening to be followed by discussions, and to have programmes, not of education in the narrow sense, but fit for discussion. They may or may not get many, but all would be highly selected people. If money is needed for this experiment, then I hope that it will be provided.

We are all deeply grateful to the mover of this Motion for bringing this issue before us to-day. It is one of great importance. Good adult education, as the Committee of 1953 said, is of vital importance, and not only should nothing be done to lessen it, but it should be increased in every possible way. I may remind any of your Lordships who have read it that in what they said they were following up a most admirable letter written to them by the Prime Minister of that day, Mr. Winston Churchill (as he then was), when he said that the last thing that the British Government ought to do was to place difficulties in the way of adult education through shortage of money. Adult education is of vital importance; mis-education of adults by viewing needs thorough examination and ending.

3.53 p.m.


My Lords, by the courtesy of my noble friend Lord Crook I am able to intervene a little earlier in this discussion than I should have done. My first words must be to congratulate, as others have done, my noble friend Lord Greenhill for introducing this Motion to-day, and particularly for the succinct manner in which he stated his support. Those of your Lordships who are familiar with Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman will remember the discussion between Octavius Robinson and the chauffeur Henry Straker, in the course of which Octavius observes that he believes most intensely in the dignity of labour and the chauffeur responds by saying: "That's because you never done any." I believe most intensely in education for a not dissimilar reason. I have some education, it is true: the education provided by the board schools of the old days. It was a very elementary education, because of family considerations, and the fact that I had gone as far as I could in the school educationally made me leave school at the age of twelve. Many of those with whom I have been associated in the Trade Union Movement left school at a much earlier age than that. I have always felt a thrill of admiration for men who could so surmount the early handicaps of youth, in the form of absence of education, as to rise, as many of them have done, to positions of distinction in the State.

I have had little education. Your Lordships will remember that about 200 years ago Alexander Pope said: A little learning is a dangerous thing. In looking into his biography some time ago my confidence in his declaration was somewhat shaken by the observation of his biographer that Pope himself did not have a first-class education. It is surely better that one should have a little learning than no learning at all, if that is possible, always presuming that the learner is conscious of his limitations. That is the form in which I venture to address your Lordships' House to-day.

I could claim no scholastic distinction at school; I was just an ordinary scholar: in fact, apart from such prizes as I obtained for regular attendance, I obtained one prize only when I wrote, with all the authority and experience of a boy of eleven, upon "Alcohol and its effects upon the human system"—and I may say that I think I could write a rather more mature essay on that topic, if it were required, to-day. From time to time I have heard people acclaim the fact that they have never had a university education. Usually when that observation was made in the Trades Union Congress it seemed to me completely unnecessary; but there appeared to be some feeling of pride in that the speakers had been educated in what they described as "the university of the world". For myself, I say, quite frankly, that I have always been conscious of the handicap that I have had to bear in my life because of my lack of a thorough and proper education.

I well remember the first time I visited the Oxford Colleges, at a week-end summer school, feeling a sense of deprivation because of that lack of opportunity of going to a university. It seemed to me at that time that if people could not study under university conditions they would never be able to study anywhere. Such studying as I had to do in the electrical industry was done on the end of a table in a collier's cottage, with a housewife rattling backwards and forwards on the stoneflagged floor in her clogs and the children intervening with their usual childlike observations. I say, therefore, that I believe most intensely in education, and in particular, because of the vast mass of people who are potentially affected, in adult education.

We are all conscious that there is a distinction between what is called liberal education and technical or vocational education. The one is imperative to our industrial survival. Without proper facilities for technical and technological education, we should soon be a third-rate Power—some people think we are that now, but I am not among them. Let us never forget that the object of education is to attune the mind, to develop the mind, to awaken and stimulate creative faculties in the individual. It is not merely to make him a proficient producer. There is a world outside industry where the individual with the education can get a great deal more out of life than is possible for the man who has been restricted to a purely technical education.

I hope I shall offend nobody when I say that I fear modern development. The scientist and the specialist are not to my mind normal people who have the necessary broad background of cultural attainments to enable them to take balanced views on the problems of modern life. I am not sneering at anybody, but I think it is an error to suppose that, because a person has specialised in a particular phase of a subject—and sometimes a very small part of that subject—he is necessarily an educated man. I do not lose sight of the fact that while these two phases of education are necessary, the ultimately more important one is the one which deals with the broadening of the mind.

As time goes on, I believe we shall find that those qualities which come from a liberal education are of the greatest ultimate importance to society. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, who has had so much experience in this sphere, has clearly indicated his belief in that sentiment. The outstanding need to-day, as I see it, is to get those cultural attainments accompanied by a broadening and a stimulating of the mind. How are we to do that? I am delighted to think that in my lifetime there has been such a huge step forward in providing means for even the most humble in the community, by personal effort, to gain his way to university. I rejoice at that. But I do not blind myself to the fact that a comparatively small proportion of the community will never be able to attain that goal.

Therefore, one must think of the other means that are available to achieve the education I have in mind, and that is, of course, adult education. I do not delude myself by believing that it will ever remove the handicap that lies between the man who has not had what I might call a high education, and the man who has been without it. Sometimes as I sit on these Benches I feel a sense of disadvantage when I hear noble Lords who have had the opportunity of a university education dealing with questions. Time and time again I have sat and listened and admired the dexterity with which Ministers, for example, are able to skim over thin ice, completely avoiding the realities of the subject and yet appearing most convincing—so convincing, indeed, that sometimes some of us wish we had not to follow the Whip into the Division Lobby.

I want to pay my tribute, as the mover of the Motion has done, to the voluntary bodies who have stimulated this work. I hope that what I am about to say will not be misunderstood by my colleagues. I do not believe that this sphere of adult education is one which should be administered exclusively by the State. I think the voluntary bodies have a freedom of action and an ability to develop their courses in consultation with their students which the State as an organisation could never have. I became a Socialist because I believed in individualism. I believed that in the society as I saw it, and still see it to-day, individualism for the mass of our people was an impossibility. Some people may not agree, but that is the way it struck me, and that is why I came into the Socialist movement. But I have never deluded myself into believing that the all-powerful State could be anything more, ultimately, than an autocratic State.

I had the duty some days ago of reviewing for the Labour Press Service the autobiography of the late Ernest Bevin who, as your Lordships all know, was a close colleague of mine. I was struck by the fact that the first educational source which Ernest encountered after leaving school at the age of eleven was the Adult School movement. I had forgotten all about that movement, although it benefited me in my early days, and here in this House I should like to pay my tribute to that voluntary body.

My noble friend Lord Greenhill has spoken about the work of the Workers' Educational Association, and the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, has referred to its founder, Albert Mansbridge. I had not the same close connection with Albert Mansbridge as the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, but I met him repeatedly in my Trades Union Congress days, because the two organisations we represented were working in close and sympathetic collaboration. It is largely due to the work of Mansbridge that it is now recognised that adult education is an inseparable part of our educational system and, I think, a growingly important part of it. Oxford and Cambridge were themselves pioneers in the extra-mural boards. They were certainly not in "on the ground floor", but they came in at a suitable moment, and their work is something that should be remembered with kindly thoughts by all of us.

All these bodies have recognised the need for some measure of specialisation without impairing their broad cultural approach, and for a liberal education, with some specialisation in trade union education. I want to deal with that for a few minutes. There has been a close link with the Trades Union Congress for many years past, and in point of fact the Trades Union Congress is represented, either directly or indirectly, on the extra-mural boards. It is quite natural that those who feel themselves at a disadvantage with regard to obtaining education should express their desire in some organised form. For many years it was the Trades Union Congress which marshalled the broad demand for higher education to be obtainable by the masses. As I have said, they did it in association with voluntary organisations. The first Congress I ever attended was in 1918, and there was a resolution down expressing the need for an educational system which would enable everybody ultimately to have a university education. Year after year at the T.U.C. resolutions on education were a regular feature. I am proud to think that valuable memoranda of high quality were submitted time after time by the Trades Union Congress on every important educational development in this country, and I myself many times took part in deputations to Ministers and others, trying to further some particular point. If those memoranda were referred to they would show a breadth of approach which I think would surprise some who assume that trade union activity is restricted entirely to the industrial sphere.

Most of the trade unions to-day have either an educational department, such as the T.U.C. has, or an educational officer who supervises this work. In the nature of things, they concentrate upon what might be called the vocational or technical aspects of education, and seek to establish courses which train their own officers in the work that those officers have to do in negotiations with the employers. But they also provide summer and weekend schools for the masses of their members. I do not think the trade unions ever lose sight of the wider features of education; but knowing that both aspects are essential they feel that they have to concentrate on the technical aspect. I was looking at the list of the bodies with which the T.U.C. is associated, and I think it would surprise people to know that the Army Cadet Forces' Association, the National Association of Boys' Clubs, the Boy Scouts' Association, and bodies like that, are all within the purview of the Trade Union Congress, apart altogether from the recognised educational bodies. As I understand it, the broad attitude of mind of the Trades Union Congress, is, while concentrating on this work, to stimulate and encourage the development of liberal education through the voluntary bodies such as the W.E.A.

It seems to me that there is a field for co-ordination in the educational world amongst the voluntary societies and the extra-mural boards and other bodies. I know that in the trade union world we have societies which are to a great extent competing one with the other, and while competition is desirable in certain circumstances it can be wasteful in others. I am glad to think that at this very moment the Trades Union Congress is in consultation with the Workers' Educational Association, with the National Council of Labour Colleges and with Ruskin College, to see what measure of co-ordination is possible there. For myself, I think a wider sweep still is needed, and that something in the way of a review of the work being done by the various bodies, exclusive of those I have mentioned, is necessary. I suppose that we all have our pet hobbyhorses, and mine is to keep constantly reminding myself of the growing importance of the trade unionist and the worker and his organisations in modern industry. I think it is of supreme importance to the wellbeing of this country, whether economically, socially or in any other aspect of it, to have a right attitude of mind brought to bear in dealings between employers and workpeople, through their trade unions, in trying to settle their various problems. To my mind a broader background against which these problems could be dealt with would be of great advantage to the whole community.

We have had the growth of joint consultation, and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will remember that in earlier debates on subsidies I quoted the Conservative Charter. I showed how they, as one of their expressed objects, desire the stimulation of what we broadly call the system of joint consultation, whether through joint production committees or other ways. I was very happy to think that after that debate the noble and learned Viscount was good enough to tell me that he himself had taken a first-hand part in drafting and compiling that particular section. Training is needed in almost any sphere into which we enter. To-day, whether voluntarily or by Statute, the right of employees to engage in the broad subjects of industry is more and more recognised. But it is quite impossible to get the best out of consultative systems, works committees or whatever they may be, without some measure of training for those who participate in this work; and in that respect I include managers just as I include workers.

I have sat back many times, particularly in the later years, when I had some responsibility for the electricity supply industry, and listened with admiration to the skilled way in which trade unionists have presented and dealt with their case. I think it is remarkable that men of such humble origin and limited opportunities have been able to do that. They are at no disadvantage as measured by the employers' presentation of their case. But when we enter the larger sphere offered by joint consultation, when we deal with questions of finance and administration, there are shortcomings that are very palpable to anyone who is in continuous contact with them. Therefore, both for trade union officers and for trade union members a vocational education, a technical education, a liberal education, are all to the good.

The Trades Union Congress, of course, fully recognises this, and within its limited means is trying to provide for it. I say limited means, but I was surprised to find that the unions, including the T.U.C., are spending something in the nature of £275,000 a year strictly on this kind of education and training; and I think that, if we examine what is being spent by the voluntary societies, even with Government grants, that figure compares quite favourably. I do not want it to be thought that nothing along those lines is being done in industry by private firms. One of the nicest experiences I had shortly after becoming Chairman of the British Electricity Authority was to visit a large works in the North of England. I would gladly give the name, but they might not care for it. Among the first things I saw were three separate classes of up to twenty or thirty people, young people in the main, being trained, indeed trained in certain subjects that the schools themselves should have dealt with, in order to understand the firm's policy and to carry out the work more efficiently.

The Co-operative Union, too, are doing an immense amount in this sphere. Time does not permit of an examination of that work, but both for their employees and members they spend very large sums of money in this sphere. Similarly, in nationalised industry, where there is a statutory obligation to provide facilities for education and training, I am happy to think that in the electricity supply industry, at least, a very advanced attitude of mind was brought to bear upon this subject and great facilities were provided. I think that industry will ultimately evolve to the point where it is recognised that it is not sufficient for people within industry to become efficient producers but that they must become also good citizens. I have never accepted the view that it is only outside the working hours of the individual, that the broadening of the mind, and the development of the qualities that make the really good man, shall take place.

With respect to the right reverend Prelates who are present, I do not believe that we have to leave all these things to the schoolmasters and the parsons; and I am quite certain that, in the years to come, something can and will be done in industry, to make a contribution, through the people engaged in it, towards a higher form of citizenship. I thank the voluntary bodies, but I am conscious of their handicaps. I know how difficult it is for them to get tutors—at all events, to pay them; how difficult it is to get proper accommodation. When I think that about £800,000 per year is being spent on this work (I believe that this is the total figure, not merely the part contributed by the State) it seems to me to be a most niggardly sum to spend on work which is of such importance to the State.

I should be narrow-minded if I did not pay my little tribute to the Ministry of Education and to its growing awareness of the need for adult education. I know that when there was a threatened cut in regard to education in 1953—a matter which has been spoken to, I think, by one of the earlier speakers—the Trades Union Congress wrote to the then Prime Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, referred to this point but his—how can I put it?—rather smoother language was not quite so expressive as that in the reply which came from the Prime Minister. He said: There is, perhaps no branch of our vast educational system which should more attract within its particular sphere the aid and encouragement of the State than adult education. How many must there be in Britain, after the disturbance of two destructive wars, who thirst in later life to learn about the humanities, the history of their country, the philosophies of the human race, and the arts and letters which sustain and are borne forward by the ever-conquering English language? This ranks in my opinion far above science and technical instruction, which are well sustained and not without their rewards in our present system. The mental and moral outlook of free men studying the past with free minds in order to discern the future demands the highest measures which our hard pressed finances can sustain. Then, finally, he said: I have no doubt myself that a man or woman earnestly seeking in grown-up life to be guided to wide and suggestive knowledge in its largest and most uplifted sphere will make the best of all the pupils in this age of clatter and buzz, of gape and gloat. Those were the words of Sir Winston Churchill, and no words that I could use would more emphasise the need for a sympathetic and much expanded attitude of mind, both technical and otherwise, to be taken by the Government of the day on this subject.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I think that, even after the moving plea we have just heard, I should still begin by expressing from these Benches my own gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, for speaking to us as he did, with such deep sincerity, and obviously out of a wide and long experience of dedication to this cause. We shall listen, too, with keen attention to what is said to us later by the noble and learned Viscount who will reply, because we know that his family name is one held in the highest regard and affection by all who are concerned with the subject of adult education.

As we have been reminded, this debate is only one of a number of debates that we are holding this Spring concerned with broad and cultural subjects. Nobody can say that we in this House are taking a narrowly material or administrative view of our duties when we are devoting whole days to subjects like the preservation of natural beauty, the use of leisure, adult education and the other subjects that appear on our Order Paper. Like others, I am afraid that I had it in mind to take your Lordships a little into history. I think one reason why we are tempted to do this is that, once you have said that adult education is a good thing, it is not particularly easy to say anything else about it. But if we look at it against the historical background, I think we may get a few clues as to the place that it can, and should, occupy in our current society.

It seems to me that there have been two great bursts of activity in the realm of adult education, both of which were marked by particular characteristics in the social situation of the time. There was the burst in the nineteenth century, which began with the mechanics institutes and went right on to the last part of the century, when the universities were beginning their extension work. Through that period there were certain features that are not perhaps particularly prominent to-day. There was a large and growing class of industrial worker anxious to improve himself, in the literal sense of the word, by acquiring some of that education which was obviously a key to progress. There was the political movement—a desire on the part of the industrial worker for a greater share in government. That was behind the Chartist Movement, which in itself laid great stress on a form of adult education aimed at producing instructed leaders in every part of the country. There was this hunger through the nineteenth century for what we might call adult education.

Some of your Lordships may remember the beginning of the long poem by Tennyson called The Princess, which contains a fascinating account of an open-air festival provided for a mechanics institute when, by way of uplifting entertainment, experiments in electric shocks, of celluloid balls being thrown into the air by fountains, and things of that kind were obviously a great attraction. But then there was also a kind of fervour on the part of some of those who had had the advantages of university education, to share what they had. That is where we think of people with names like F. D. Morris and Charles Kingsley. I think in Leicester of one of our great local figures, David Vaughan. It was he who founded one of these working men's colleges, now called Vaughan College; and he was one of the joint translators of the Golden Treasury version of Plato's Republic. I do not think that that is altogether an accident because it is a curious thing that students of Plato have often been in the forefront of this adult educational movement.

Then there was the burst of activity, which has already been referred to, in the early part of this century, when liberal ideas of government and social progress were to the fore. Much of the significant activity took place during the period of the Liberal Government between 1906 and the days of the first war. This was when the Workers' Educational Association came into existence, when Albert Mansbridge and William Temple came together in their very fruitful union. I am glad that tribute has been paid this afternoon to William Temple. He said that when he became President of the Workers' Educational Association it was the greatest honour he had ever had in his life and the greatest honour he was ever likely to have. It would be interesting to know whether he would have wanted to revise that opinion when be became Primate of All England. My own view is that it is quite likely he would have stood by it.

Then there was the Report in 1919 which set before the nation a vision of what adult education might be in the brave new world that was thought to be opening out before the nation after the war. It was, in fact, more of a monument to what had already happened than a blueprint of what was to follow, though many of its hopes and visions have, in fact, been fulfilled. When we turn from history to the present day we notice, first of all, that many things which were hoped for in the past have never matured. Extra-mural boards belonging to universities are a common feature of university life and draw on the grants that are given through the University Grants Committee. They are completely supported, so far as teaching courses are concerned, by grants from the Ministry of Education and local authorities.

It is not easy to keep the two kinds of education—vocational and non-vocational—entirely apart, for they overlap. Vocational further education has increased by leaps and bounds. Only last week I was giving away the awards at our Leicester College of Technology where, in the engineering section with which I was concerned—very unsuitably, I may say—we have 3,000 students, with 4,000 others engaged in that same college in other branches of technological training. While the aim of this vocational education is sharply differentiated from what are called liberal studies, it does fulfil one important purpose—and that applies in all adult education—namely, the further discipline of the mind, the enlargement of powers, enrichment of life and increasing potentiality for responsible work.

The numbers engaged in adult education of the other type—non-vocational—are quite considerable, and, if I may venture to say so, I believe that some of the figures that have been given to your Lordships this afternoon are perhaps misleading. If I have heard them rightly they have been selected on the most austere basis. That is to say, the figures we have been given have been those that apply to adult education provided through the universities and responsible bodies. But there seem to have been omitted the infinitely larger number who are concerned with adult education through local authorities. I have tried to study these figures. It is not an easy task for a layman in such matters to master them, but our Professor of Adult Education at the University of Leicester assures me that the total number engaged in adult education of the non-vocational type has to be reckoned at something over one million. This includes those who are engaged in the evening institutes; and if we remember that different people are registered in each new enrolment, it probably means that at any one time there are perhaps 30 or 40 per cent. of the adult population who have at some time availed themselves of these facilities.

When all that has been said, however, it is impossible to avoid feeling that the real fire and enthusiasm for adult education, in the liberal sense of the word, has suffered a sea change: it has died down very considerably. And although there are a great many most useful things being done in the way of arts, crafts and hobbies at these different evening institutes, only a tiny handful of the nation are availing themselves of opportunities to pursue those studies which lead towards a more perceptive and critical understanding of the times in which we live and of the way in which our problems may be illuminated by the wisdom of the ages. It is in this field that the numbers are discouragingly small, and it is on this subject that I should like to address your Lordships in my few remaining words.

Is there anything that can be done by the State, or by other bodies, which could give some rejuvenation of this kind of thoughtful study leading to a more informed sense of citizenship? First, I would make one suggestion that may perhaps seem a little irreverent to those who are so deeply engaged in this cause. I find it difficult to work up any enthusiasm for the word "education" as the description of this particular process. I am not sure that this may not be part of our trouble. Do not misunderstand me. We have all to go on learning all our lives; of that there is no doubt. We all want to do so, but I doubt whether many of us would think it a natural way of speaking to say that we were still being educated. To me, the word "education" has somewhere in it the idea of bringing a person up to a certain standard, the standard which is recognised to be that of the educated man; and in these days, with child education improving so much, we surely have to get rid altogether of any sense of the remedial in this process. We have to think of it as something that is an active work in which the would-be student engages of his own will for the positive benefit that lies within him. I myself should like to think of some other word. I cannot think of the right one. Perhaps "adult enterprise" or "cultural venture", or any of this new language, might give us something that would make this more palatable. But that is a small point.

Secondly, I believe that we have to preserve the greatest flexibility in the content of what we provide. We do not yet know what will be the final effect of the better provision of secondary and university education on the need for adult education. There are some who think that the more education there is at an early stage, the more appetite there is for it at a later stage. But it is still true that, as more people get equipped for worthwhile posts, and intellectually demanding posts, they will probably engage in leisure education, either for vocational purposes or, quite frankly, for recreation. I believe that that is something we have to accept, and it is therefore essential to preserve flexibility in what we provide.

Those who are doing this job are the first to say that one cannot tell what will prosper or what will not. In Leicester recently, in our Adult Education College, an excellent course was provided on the alleged need for another channel for television, with Mr. Christopher Mayhew and Sir Robert Fraser as the lecturers. That evoked hardly any interest at all. On the other hand, when the authorities announced two lectures on the reform of company law they had 150 enrolments even before the course started. Nobody can tell, and therefore we must be very free and flexible in what we provide. But we must always provide opportunities for the serious study of historical and social philosophy, civics, philosophy in itself, and religion.

The third and almost the last matter I want to say a word about is the question of buildings, because in all this wide field it seems to me that the provision of buildings is about the one clear and definite step that might be taken and might make a real improvement. The annual grants since the publication of the Ashby Report are much appreciated in adult educational circles, but for the most part the buildings available remain unsuitable and uncomfortable. On the other hand, where some real effort is made to provide the right kind of building we see a very quick result. We have in Leicestershire, as they have in other counties now, these community colleges being built in association with the modern secondary schools, and they are proving of tremendous value. But in the City of Leicester (I quote these facts only as examples), where they have been trying for many years to build real community centres, including in the same building recreational facilities, adult educational facilities and provision for the youth service, they have been able so far to build only one part of one building—and that not the adult educational part. I do not think we shall ever see any progress here until the Government see some chance to give a little priority to the provision of buildings for this work.

The Church hs been engaged in some form of adult education here, I suppose, for 1,300 years—perhaps your Lordships may think with more perseverance than success. But, at any rate, we have found it necessary to put up a church in every village, and our work would have been still less effective if we had not done that. This adult education work needs to have in the various districts a local habitation and a name, and it is perhaps there that we might make some progress.

Finally, one word about a possible mainspring for all this activity. I put it into my words, but I think it really is the same mainspring as the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, was describing. There is at the present time one great need in our society; that is, that in this period of the mass communication of ideas men and women should retain and develop their individuality. The other day I heard an advertising agent speak, and he said, in talking about television, "I am interested only in selling, mass goods to mass minds." I find that an appalling prospect. We need to strengthen all those agencies which may preserve in men and women the ability to think for themselves, to think critically, constructively and objectively. We need to encourage people to read their newspapers critically, not only the editorial columns but the news columns, where the editorial slant can be given so much more craftily than in the columns which claim to be comment. Even so great a humanist as Walter Lippmann recently said that the old distinction between news and comment can no longer be retained. If this is so, how much more important is it that when people read what they think is news they should have some facility to weigh up and to consider what has been left out, which might have made the whole paragraph so very different! When we add to this the fact that, by television, half the nation is laughing at the same jokes, watching the same play and hearing the same views, night after night, it is apparent that the need to preserve individual responsibility and personal judgment is very great.

Everything possible should be done to encourage serious thought and reflection. Statesmen can play a part here, if I may dare to say so, in their public statements, or so it seems to me. Because if they will take the trouble to put before the nation the reasons for the policies they are advancing—not only the immediate tactical reasons, but also the underlying philosophical reasons—I believe they might encourage the right sort of critical thought and reflection on the part of those who hear or watch them on television. Adult education, too, can play its little part by encouraging at least some of our people to make their own inquiries into the substance of things hoped for, and to examine for themselves the evidence of things not seen.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, I join with other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lord Greenhill on initiating this debate this afternoon. Perhaps, like him, I might declare my interest in the past, which is very much like his own. For 30 years as a trade union official I helped in educational work, and for some 25 years was a member of the Committee of the Workers' Educational Association and of the Workers' Educational Trade Union Committee. For that reason I welcome the intervention of my noble friend Lord Beveridge, who gave an interesting account of the foundations of that great organisation, and more particularly that of my noble friend Lord Citrine, with whom, as a trade union official, it was my privilege to work for many years. I was most happy to leave to him to say, with greater authority than I could, much about the trade union activity in which I had been happy to play a part. Nothing he said exaggerated in any way the great part which the Trade Union Movement has played, with the Workers' Educational Association, in not only looking after the activities of its members in respect of their own jobs but widening the whole of the opportunities of cultural life for them. In parenthesis, I join with him in wishing that some of the competition between these voluntary bodies and, indeed, perhaps the jealousies between them and some of the extra-mural departments might be washed out by inquiry and effort in the course of the next year or two.

I will say no more of the Trade Union Movement, which I left some nine years ago when I was honoured by being made Chairman of the Dock Labour Board. In that connection I have taken part in the pioneering activities of the Board, which was trying to help to educate some of the really toughest people, it is often said, of the trade union and working world. The response which dock workers have made to the opportunities of educational advancement is indicative of the great desire that they have. After starting a little diffidently in 1951, the Board to-day have co-operative arrangements with fourteen universities in this country for week-end schools that are going on during most week-ends throughout the winter season, with men making their own voluntary financial contribution in order to be present and, indeed, competing among themselves for what are all the time the limited opportunities of attending a school. Your Lordships, who so often in the Press see only the picture of bad men striking, may be interested, if not fascinated, to know that men who fail to get a job at the first call, required as they are to remain available for the second call for ships coming in during the afternoon, now, thanks to co-operation between my Board, the W.E.A. and extra-mural bodies, are in many cases during the morning, while they wait, voluntarily attending classes, for which they pay, instead of spending their time on less worthy objectives.

All this is indicative, I think, of the desire which not all people but a considerable number of people have all the time for further opportunities of adult education. They realise that to them adult education has become a practical necessity. I suggest to your Lordships that it is not just a necessity for workers whose education was ended too soon, or for people who want to pursue education merely to use intellectual activity as a hobby, but for the reason that my noble friend Lord Greenhill has indicated: that the pace of things in our life has changed. To-day, no education that ends in early youth can help people to adapt themselves to the changes that they are most surely going to find in their middle life: changes in economic affairs; in their relations with employers and among themselves; in the relations of their own country with other countries, and in the very thinking which men do to-day about themselves in their ordinary lives. It is no use, I suggest, trying to rethink our public policies for the well-being of young people in the way that is represented by Reports such as the Crowther Report and the Albemarle Report unless we then go on to ask ourselves: and now, what then?

As the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, has said, the duty is to aim at the broadening of minds in general. The advance in knowledge in many fields will be at the risk of widening the gap between what the alleged experts know and what the ordinary people understand. That gap must not be widened. Indeed, it must be the aim of adult education to close it. Adult education has always been marginal and doubtless it will remain so; but we must cater for the growing number in that marginal field who desire it, and for the growing numbers that we should like to see taking part. As has been pointed out in this debate, adult education in the past has relied largely on voluntary effort. In fact, I think it would be true to go on and say that to-day it represents one of the best examples of co-operation between voluntary effort and statutory bodies. So it should remain, and nothing I would advocate to your Lordships in this debate would suggest to the contrary. But in my view, successive Ministers have felt themselves unduly relieved from facing their problems because of the existence of these voluntary efforts. I think we must pose to ourselves, as Ministers should, the question: what kind of service is it that we really want as a national necessity, and what should that service cost?

There will be no disagreement in this House that we all want to encourage people to develop their own personal dignity and to be ready to accept those obligations without which decent society is impossible. That, I suggest, means providing as liberal an education for as many people as we can contrive, extending far beyond school and college life. Of course, as has been suggested in this House on many occasions, we must increase the opportunities and provision for specialist training work, but we must keep the way open for continued education when that first stage of working preparation is completed. Secondly, as my noble friend Lord Beveridge has said, it is the adult population which has to take the responsibility of reaching great decisions—greater decisions these days than ever before. In the live and democratic community that we have and want to develop there is the growing need for all possible education and opportunity to examine and ask questions of oneself, and to reason with oneself.

Thirdly—and, at my age, this is perhaps a matter for congratulation—a great many people who have now reached what were called the later years of life and are still bright are finding themselves growing out from their opportunities of ordinary workday life and are looking for some further opportunity of occupying their minds—seeking, really, after some of the culture that they perhaps had no chance of getting earlier. Only last night I heard from the Professor of one college of a man approaching 70 who had gone back and who, at that age, had managed to graduate with his own, youngest son—an opportunity which very few might take, but something of which I think we can all be proud.

I am not going to try to repeat some of the slants or angles on this subject which were referred to in the debate on leisure on March 2—the interesting observations made by noble Lords on that occasion, and by the noble Viscount who is going to reply tonight—but all of us, on both sides of the House, then and on other occasions, have declared support for expanding the cultural life and provisions of this country. However, I want to suggest that it is shortsighted to spend money on more museums and more art unless at the same time we provide some money to allow the people who are given the museums and the art opportunities to learn to appreciate what it is that they see and hear. Similarly, in my view it would be shortsighted to whet the appetite for education but fail to provide the answer. I am one of those to whom the right reverend Prelate referred just now—one who thinks that the better the education at first, the greater the desire for education that continues.

That brings me, my Lords, to say to the representatives of Her Majesty's Government: does expenditure of under 1 per cent. of the total education bill in this country represent a reasonable recognition of the educational needs of the adult population to which we are referring in our debate this afternoon? How much more could be achieved by the allocation, to help the voluntary societies, of even £1 million—and, in these big and spacious days I make no apology for using the words "even £1 million", because that is often just the odd figure which the Minister of Defence writes off to round off the figure and present it the better to the other House. With what is now being spent, with an increase of this order, and with the continued and growing substantial support of the voluntary bodies, we could during the next few years make that progress which many of us have been advocating for a long time.

One of the first things we could do if that money were released in the right way would be to meet the kind of demand that was made by the right reverend Prelate just now, which followed up a comment by my noble friend Lord Greenhill, about premises. I think we can reasonably require the local education authorities—on whom, after all, the Government saw fit to put the first responsibility in this matter, under the Education Act, 1944—to see that in every major town in this country there is at least one challenging and well-equipped building, providing not (like some of the magnificent buildings that have already been built) for the education of children, nor for direct training in working skills, nor even for the redemption of Teddy boys, but for the continuing education throughout life of the ordinary, good-thinking citizen of this country. That I take to be the task of adult education about which we are talking to-day.

It seems to me that in recent years the only concern of the Government for adult education has been to suggest increasing the fees paid by students, plus holding down the possibilities of expansion by putting limits on grants to universities and to educational bodies, and, so far as local authorities are concerned, by putting them into the straitjacket of the block grant. Adult education, as much as education in any other field, can develop only if money and teachers are available in places where students can assemble. It is a simple enough prescription, it seems to me, and one that I would ask the noble Viscount who is to reply for the Government to say they will reconsider in the light of an understanding of what should be the position of adult education in the population to-day.

I am going to end not with observations of my own. I am going to invite your Lordships to hear me read six or seven lines (they have already been referred to by my noble friend Lord Greenhill, as well as by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge) from the Report of the Adult Education Committee of the Ministry of Reconstruction in 1919, which were reproduced in the paragraph of the Ashby Committee Report, to which reference has been made. In my view they are still, as they have been for 40 years, the guiding words of adult education in this country. The Report says: Adult education must not be regarded as a luxury for a few exceptional persons here and there, nor as a thing which concerns only a short span of early manhood. Adult education is a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, and, therefore, should be universal and lifelong. My Lords, if in the last 40 years we have not managed to make it universal and lifelong, let us try in the next ten years.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, I too should like to express my thanks to the noble Lord who has given us the opportunity for this discussion this afternoon. I hope your Lordships will bear with me for a few minutes while I comment on some of the points that have been made. The debate has ranged over a wide ground, and I think that almost all the important points have been touched on by one speaker or another. I felt that the noble Lord, Lord Crook, was very much to the point, in the admirable speech to which we have just listened, when, in effect, he said that in spite of the splendid lead given by Dr. A. L. Smith and his Committee 40 years ago (and what a stimulating teacher A. L. Smith was! I shall never forget the first of his lectures I attended at Balliol in the year that the First World War broke out), we have not kept up the pace as we ought to have done.

I think that that is, to some extent, due to the Ministry of Education. There were some strictures passed on the Ministry in the youth leadership debate not long ago, and I have a feeling that the same sort of lack of enthusiasm which was complained of then has been apparent in relation to this matter. It is quite understandable. The Ministry have a heavy job with the general education of the children of the country; and it is understandable that by-paths of this sort, as they tend to be regarded, are not looked after effectively. They are not by-paths at all. I believe that we must all take some blame on ourselves for not insisting that the responsible authorities should get on with this job rather better than they have done. Of course it has not been a statutory obligation for so long, and even since it has been, as the noble Lord, Lord Crook, said, we have not put either enough of our energies, Governmental, administratively or as citizens, or a sufficiently high proportion of the wealth of our country into making our people as a whole better educated and better able to live as competent citizens, which is what it really comes to.

I was interested in the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, to the whole of this problem. The emphasis on leisure with which he introduced his speech, and which has been echoed by other speakers, is obviously an important aspect of this matter; and some of the historical examples he gave were, I thought, quite fascinating, as well as being remarkable. But those occasions when one could get 900 or 1,000 men and women together for the purpose of listening to an educational lecture of this kind were a long time ago. Since then Gresham's Law has begun to operate, and we know that in almost every department of life the less good drives out the good.

At that time there was no competition from the cinema, from television or from these other adventitious distractions which now compete with the better things. I remember well that when I was a boy a political meeting in our town was a tremendous atttraction; it had a great educational value in politics, and any politician of national reputation could fill the largest hall. It was not a large hall, but it held 1,000 people. You would not get one-tenth of that number to listen to a politician to-day, with the possible exception of two or three figures, who might bring that number together. That is one of the problems we are up against: the problem of the greater attraction of the rather less valuable types of diversion and interest.

I doubt whether we do enough to bring home to the mass of our people the real value there is in pursuing education further than they were able to do at school. There are people like the noble Lord, Lord Crook, who are doing admirable work among certain sections of the community, but those are just here and there, and there is not a sufficiently wide advance on this front. I feel that the Prime Minister and the great names in the Government could help by making it clear beyond a peradventure how important is this aspect of the national life. But even if they would do so, I think we have to go back to the schools themselves. I am worried that the educational system we have does not "bite in" with the great mass of the children in the way of exciting them with the great things of the world. For so many children education is just something to be got over; something which enables them to earn a little more bread and butter. So few of the children who come out of the schools, and even those who come to the universities, have been "bitten with the bug", so to speak. And unless they are "bitten with the bug" of wanting to know more, wanting to have more alert minds, wanting to be more in touch with the great things of the world, it is going to be very difficult indeed to get them into the adult education movement afterwards. If they are once "bitten" in that way, they will go on with it right through their lives.

There is a good story about the famous American lawyer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Junior, one of the half-dozen greatest judges of the English-speaking world, as I am sure the Lord Chancellor will agree. Holmes continued to the very end of his life—and he lived until well over 90—to be a student, not only of law—but of philosophy and literature. It is said that Franklin Roosevelt, visiting him when he was over 90, found him in his study with books all over the table, all over the floor and everywhere else—they were largely books on philosophy. The President said to the old Judge: "I am surprised, Judge, to find you, at your time of life, immersed in all these books. Whatever are you doing?" He replied, "Mr. President, I am improving my mind. There is always time to improve your mind." One might say that there is a slightly priggish ring about that story, but I think it reinforces what I am saying: that if you once get this bug into you, you will go on being bitten by it right through into the nineties. Even if there is a slightly priggish atmosphere about that story, I believe that it is one from which we can learn a good deal.

I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, pay tributes to some of the great leaders of this movement, particularly to Professor Tawney. I should like to couple with that the name of Dr. Albert Mansbridge, whom I had the privilege of knowing a little. He was a man of astonishing dynamic personality, filled with a tremendous love of learning and of his fellow men, who did, I suppose, more than anybody else to put this movement on its feet.

Finally, I should like to say something on the subject of the teachers to whom reference has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Crook, and the right reverend Prelate. Certainly a great deal of the work in this movement is done by voluntary teachers. But the best work, I think, is done by the people from the universities, the university teachers who give up their evenings throughout the year to take these classes. There is a heavy call made upon the university teachers. Until recently they have been paid a very beggarly pittance for the work they do. I think it was probably the noble and learned Viscount opposite, when he was Minister of Education, who made an improvement there. There has been an improvement in England over the last few years, and on behalf of these teachers I should like to express gratitude for what has been done. I wish the noble and learned Viscount could encourage them to do as well in Scotland. I hope that I am not treading on my noble friend's feet on this matter, but in Scotland it is not in the hands of the Education Department—it is looked after by the local authorities; and they are not too well off. Those who are doing this work in Scotland are undoubtedly not being properly remunerated, and I hope that some attention may be given to that matter.

One of the difficulties is that adult education is bracketed with what is called future education, and the tendency is to regard future education as technical—improving people for their jobs. I should not like to say that a hard-and-fast line can be drawn between the bread-and-butter side of this and the cultural side. They tend to merge. But I am afraid that what money is available tends to be put into the bread-and-butter side rather than into the cultural side. It is difficult to draw a line. I remember that at the working men's club where I did my own first teaching in adult education classes there was always a certain warfare going on between the bread-and-butter class and the cultural class. We always held the Greek class up as being par excellence the cultural class. There were seldom more than three or four students in that class, and one of the "bread-and-butter" teachers made a research into the credentials of the students in that class. He found that one of them was a compositor, who wished to be able to set up Greek texts at the printing works where he worked, while another was a young man who was anxious to go into the Church and wished to be able to read the New Testament in Greek. And so it went on. I think there was only one out of the four who wanted to be able to read Sophocles in the original, and who really got on to the cultural side. So it is not easy to draw too hard and fast a line between the cultural side and the bread-and-butter side of the future education movement.

By making the great mass of our people more quick minded, more widely read, more conversant with the great things of the world, I think we make them more competent at their work. There is no country in Europe where this has been done better, done for longer, and done with finer results, than Denmark. I suppose that everybody who has been interested in the adult education movement must have studied what happened in Denmark, commencing well over 100 years ago now. I do not think there can be any doubt that the reason that small, barren country has been so remarkably progressive, and has established such a high standard of living for its people on the basis of a few square miles of what is little more than barren sandy soil, stems from this remarkable education movement in which Denmark has led the Continent of Europe. If we do as well here, if we can bring our people up to have that tremendous enthusiasm which has so marked the progress of the Danish movement, then, as the noble Lord, Lord Crook, said, I feel that we are on the way to getting a finer, more educated, more progressive population.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down speaks with a great deal of first-hand knowledge of adult education, and I suppose the outstanding feature of the debate this afternoon has been the first-hand character of the speeches. It was initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, in a most interesting speech, and the only possible criticism that can be made of it is that he failed to inform us of the very great extent of his own services to adult education in many different places, and particularly in Scotland. I think we all ought to realise that, as far as I understand it, in Scotland he is pre-eminent, and certainly he gave us an extraordinarily good lead this afternoon.

We have heard a number of other great experts on this subject, and I do not wish to repeat their comments. I am glad that one of the rising Conservatives, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, gave us such an interesting speech, which was praised, rightly, by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge. There was a time when I was a young Conservative, even younger, I suppose, than the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, is now. In those days there was what might be called a tension between the Conservative Party and the W.E.A.—something that has been terminated, I think, these many years. At any rate Mr. Butler, as well as Mr. Gaitskell, has been Vice-President of the W.E.A. in this latter period.

I well remember when I was a Conservative—this is many years ago, as the noble Lord can imagine—and entitled to write on the Carlton Club notepaper, that, writing from that distinguished place, I applied for a job as an adult education teacher in London University. I was greeted by a very capable and formidable young lady who was then organising adult education for London University. The first question she put to me was, "Do you think that the Carlton Club is a very promising address from which to apply for a job in adult education?" I said I did not know; it happened to be the only club to which I belonged and I had no other address, and so I had written from there. It was not held against me; it was an unusual address; but that, no doubt, had nothing to do with the fact that I did not get the job. I tell this story about the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, with her permission—she is unfortunately prevented from being here to-day. She was a great expert and in charge of adult education for many years in London University. However, there was that tension which has long since disappeared, and I think we must all be grateful for its disappearance.

My own subsequent recollections of adult education are as happy as those of all other speakers. It would not be true to say that I met my present wife, my only wife, in adult education. I met her at a New College Commemmoration dance attended by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham. It was long after midnight. But by the time we were engaged we were both engaged in adult education in the Potteries, and if anybody knows the waiting room at Stoke-on-Trent station—I expect it is much the same now as it was then—he would feel that anybody who was lucky enough to win his lady against that background deserves the happiness which has come his way.

My Lords, adult education is a very wide term. It can be used, and rightly at different times this afternoon I suppose it has been used, to include almost any attempt made by adults to educate themselves or made by others to educate them, whether through lectures or classes or books or newspapers or television or theatre, or any other intellectual or cultural medium—and may I include in that the religious medium. We were all most grateful for the speech of the right reverend Prelate, who struck a note which is not often struck, by any manner of means, in these debates on adult education; and I think, if I may say so, that what he had to say was quite as important as anything that has fallen from any noble Lord this afternoon.

In the context of this debate I suppose we are thinking in terms of non-vocational education of adults, for, as the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who has been drawn away, was explaining, it is in fact often difficult to draw this line between vocational and non-vocational education of adults, or indeed of any others. We are concerned with what might broadly be called non-vocational and liberal education. May we try to get the extent of the problem? It is not easy, because at one moment one is apt to be talking of one thing and at another moment another thing. However, in an issue of the Quarterly Review called "Adult Education" last year, Mr. E. M. Hutchinson, the Secretary of the Institute of Adult Education, provides some interesting figures. I do not know whether others have found it so, but it seems to me very hard to get up-to-date figures.

I noticed that the last year quoted in this review was 1956–57. There the gross expenditure on adult education is given as £4,600,000; that is, £2,400,000 from the National Exchequer in grants, £1,100,000 from local rates, and £1,150,000 from earnings, fees, contributions, et cetera. Leaving out the last item of just over £1 million, we find that that means that the public expenditure on adult education amounted to £3½ million, which, according to the calculations in the article (they are no doubt correct), amounts to about 14s. for every £100 of public expenditure on education; that is, about two-thirds of a pound against every £100 of public expenditure on education—5d. for every £100 of the gross national product. That does not strike most of us as very much; in fact, it seems a very low figure. But that figure itself boils down very quickly, if we are talking of adult education in the sense that most of us have been discussing it this afternoon, because evening institute classes, which were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, valuable though they may be, are rather a different kind of article, and they account for more than two-thirds of this money.

When we come to grant-aided courses in liberal studies, I noticed that the universities received, in 1956–57 (it may have gone up slightly now, but these are the latest figures provided in the article) just over £630,000, and they raised just over £150,000 themselves. The Workers' Educational Association received just over £130,000, and raised £65,000 themselves: I think the present figures are perhaps a little higher. That means that the two branches of activity which loom largest, after evening classes provided by local authorities, received, in round terms, in the last full year only about three-quarters of a million pounds of assistance from public funds. So far as liberal adult education is concerned, which we seem to be discussing, we think of something assisted by the State to the tune of about three quarters of a million pounds a year. That seems to be the picture. The noble and learned Viscount—I am happy he is replying to the debate—may give slightly different figures, but I do not fancy they will be very much different.

It appears that in 1957–58 (the article gives a slightly later year) the number of students in classes provided by the responsible bodies, the university extra mural department, the W.E.A., or the two in unison, was about 160,000. The noble Lord who opened the debate made it something over 200,000, but the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, is on the 160,000 mark. Even if we add certain residential courses, however, I think we are talking about a number of students which is of the order of 200,000; that is the kind of number with which we are primarily concerned. If we take this 160,000, which is the number which most people would refer to if they were talking of liberal adult education—the 160,000 students in these university extramural and W.E.A. classes—we find that the total has increased a great deal in the last 30 years. I see that in 1929–30, when I began my awn career in adult education, teaching in these classes, there were only 27,000 students. We sometimes tend to romanticise the past, and imagine that there were hundreds of thousands in these classes; but according to these figures the number was very much smaller—less than one-fifth of the number at the present time. That had about doubled by the war, up to nearly 60,000, and it went on increasing during and after the war, and reached its peak in 1948–49. Since then the figure has fluctuated, but it seems to have stuck at about 160,000, which is more than twice as high as just before the war, though it does not seem to be increasing, which is a discouraging fact.

I hope I shall be excused, and I think I am following most of the speakers in sentiment, if I give these 160,000 students a special place in our discussion, even within the field of adult education, which is itself, of course, a special branch of education. Perhaps in these few remarks I have to make I may be allowed to concentrate still further on the W.E.A. I entirely agree with what has fallen from various speakers, including the noble Lord, Lord Crook, who spoke in such an interesting way about the need for partnership between the voluntary and statutory bodies here, as in so many other fields, and also in this particular sector about the need for the partnership, on the whole very successful, between the universities and the W.E.A. which really join together in practice in providing many of the classes. We have a debate coming along fairly soon on the universities, so perhaps I may be excused if I do not dwell on their rôle.

I am not sure whether an extremely interesting Report which has been put into my hands in proof form, called Aspects of Adult Education has yet been published—I think it was about due to be published to-day. To me it is a document of exceptional interest. It has been drawn up by a strong Working Party appointed by the Workers' Educational Association and is being presented to the W.E.A. Conference this month, March, 1960. The Chairman of the Working Party was Professor Asa Briggs, Professor of Modern History at the University of Leeds, who is also President of the W.E.A. I feel that everybody will wish to read this document as soon as he can lay his hands on it. This Report of the Working Party, which has been produced under the chairmanship of the President of the W.E.A., has to admit that the number of people attending W.E.A. classes is still small.

But let me go back to the Ashby Report, on The Organisation and Finance of Adult Education, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, in his moving speech. That Report, which was published in 1954 says (and I think we are all disposed to agree with this) that the importance of this comparatively small group, the W.E.A. students, far outweighs its size, for from its ranks come many of the leaders of those groups and associations which are such an important element of democratic society. The Report speaks in the same terms—and none of us is likely to dispute them to-day—when its says: … we are unanimously of the opinion that voluntarianism, as exemplified by the Workers' Education Association, is essential if the spirit of adult education is to be preserved. In common with the majority of our witnesses we should regard it as a calamity if the traditions of the student-organised and student-controlled class were to vanish. Of course there they are referring to a special kind of adult education—the kind for which the W.E.A. are most famous, the student-organised and student-controlled class. I am deliberately concentrating in these remarks on this form of adult education, although I am far from saying that it is the only kind.

I think that everyone listened with profound interest to the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, who I understood apologised for not having a university education. May I pay him the compliment of saying that, speaking without many visible notes, I feel that he delivered a speech which, when read to-morrow, will be presumed to have been written by some university don. I thought it was a thoroughly "donnish" speech, in the best sense of the word, in that it was possessed of all the qualities and presented with the lucidity of a don, and with all the self-confidence which we expect from our university leaders. It was most necessary for the noble Lord to explain that he had not had this university background, as he might have been accused, as I have been, of having been reared in the Oxford Union. But, at any rate, I felt that his was a most impressive speech.

My noble friend quoted Sir Winston Churchill. I will quote him again, as he usually puts things better than anyone else. It is noticeable, of course, that Sir Winston Churchill was in fact—other speakers were too tactful to point this out—replying to a resolution sent by the Trades Union Congress, who had learned with great concern of the decision of the Minister of Education to reduce by 10 per cent. the Ministry's grant for adult education. This was a point which previous speakers felt it was almost indelicate, after an afternoon of such harmony, to bring before the House. Sir Winston's reply, while beautifully expressed, was a masterpiece of ambiguity upon the issue at stake, because he said: The Minister of Education put forward proposals for a minor reduction in the grants paid by her Department with the objective of preventing waste … I wish we could have heard from the Minister in question to-day, because I know what a great deal of light and guidance she could have given us. But, at any rate, she had put forward proposals for what she called a "minor reduction." At the end Sir Winston said, having delivered this wonderful tribute to adult education— But these are no reasons for not looking through the accounts, and making sure that all we can give is turned to real advantage"— leaving it remarkably obscure as to whether or not the cut was to be maintained. Let us hope that in some senses the cut was not maintained. But I think that, from figures that I gave earlier, no one would suppose that this Government, or indeed any other Government, has been very generous to adult education—three-quarters of a million pounds to all the most relevant forms of adult education hardly lives up to this reply so beautifully expressed by Sir Winston.

Be that as it may, and studying the special approach of the W.E.A. it is perhaps worth looking to see what this latest document, Aspects of Adult Education, which may or may not have reached the public, has to say about the special characteristics of the W.E.A., as expressed by their President, or by the Committee of which he was Chairman. At the core of the approach of the W.E.A. adult education is a belief in voluntary education for people of all kinds, in controversial education, including the examination of values in education, with genuinely high standards and a sense of social purpose which relates class work to life. There are two points there—the reference to controversial education, argumentative education, and education with genuinely high standards, which of course would apply equally well to education within a university. I think we should all be happy to think that those university methods of discussion and university education to reach high standards can be carried outside. But there is nothing peculiar to extra-mural education in those two points.

The advantages of the other two elements, the voluntary organisation and the sense of social purpose, are perhaps somewhat harder to pinpoint, and I venture to think that perhaps it requires some first-hand experience or close acquaintance with adult education if we are to appreciate them to the full. The arguments for voluntary action in the social services, in a general sense, have been repeatedly affirmed in your Lordships' House—very effectively, for example, by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor in winding up the Second Reading debate on the Charities Bill a little while ago. They have also again been affirmed by Lord Crook and others.

If we are studying the W.E.A. as a special example of voluntary action, we should, I suppose, conclude that the original inspiration for it sprang from a desire of disinherited working people to provide themselves with the education that they had been denied, as they saw it, by the top people. They would be the first to agree that they could not have got far with that project unless they had been assisted by some of the really top people, intellectually speaking, such as those who have been referred to to-day—namely Dr. Mansbridge, Professor Tawney, Lord Lindsay of Birker, Archbishop Temple and others. But adult education, as envisaged by the W.E.A.—in which I was deeply soaked at one time, though I might be said to be less closely in touch now—has never embodied at its best a class ideal, solely or mainly, though of course the W.E.A. was brought into effect by the working class to assist adults to obtain an education that otherwise would not have come their way. Its pure fundamental aspiration is, I understand, national or, I should hope, international. Adult education has, of course, particularly in the W.E.A. form, but also in other forms, for long been looked upon as concerned to remedy the defects in the previous education of people whose earlier educational experience had been short. But that situation, while it might be thought to be better than it used to be, has not passed away.

In spite of the great advances mentioned by various speakers, including the right reverend Prelate, it has to be recognised that the formal educational experience of by far and away the great majority of people ends when they leave school at fifteen. It is certain that the "remedial" function of adult education will be important for a long time to come. The only point on which I disagreed with the right reverend Prelate was when he suggested, tentatively perhaps, that the word "education" might be removed from this context. It would be hard to suggest a better phrase, and I felt that the words suggested by the right reverend Prelate would not satisfy him when he looked at them again. I do not think that education is to be regarded as a remedial function in itself—that had not occurred to me—but the remedial function certainly is there and will be needed for a long time to come. We all agree that adult education is not, and will not be, solely concerned with this remedial function. The need for adult education will not have disappeared when we as a nation have abolished, as I hope we shall—and here I am not referring to Parties—this great disparity and devised vastly more equality of education than there is now.

Surely the truth is that adult education, in aspiration at any rate, is a goal of the whole community. It is at that point, it seems to me, when we see adult education in its highest form as a community need and a community expression, that the voluntary principle and its sense of social purpose come together. In the ideal W.E.A. or tutorial class in my day (and no doubt the same is true now) there was not only the voluntary spirit inherent in any dedicated group but also a special community sense of all working together to educate one another, including, as I know from experience, the tutor. It was always the great pride of the W.E.A. that it taught the tutor as much as the tutor taught the pupils; and as there might perhaps be fifteen of them and one tutor it might well work out like that. At any rate, the idea of working together to educate one another is something which one could hardly attempt to secure within a university. That is something special and peculiar to the adult education world.

While I am anxious not to draw too sharp a distinction between the kind of discussion and understanding sought after in a W.E.A. class, on the one hand, and inside a university, on the other, there has always been some difference of emphasis. There has always been the underlying purpose in the W.E.A. that the students, when they arise from their studies, should not be just better equipped intellectually but better equipped, morally and socially, as citizens and human beings. Although a university teacher hopes that his pupils will come away better men than when they went to the university I would say that that is not the declared purpose inside a university to the extent that it has been in extra-mural work. That has always been, and will remain, the dream of adult education, certainly in the W.E.A.; and it will be in no way invalidated—quite the contrary, in fact—if these educational differences are remedied.

Meanwhile, there is the W.E.A., the most important voluntary body in adult education in this country. Before I close may I put the matter in a fairly concrete way before the House and the noble and learned Viscount, realising that as I have not given him notice of these final points I cannot expect him to reply to them in any definite way? Each year the W.E.A. promotes over 5,000 classes in towns and villages all over the country. The Association has 1,000 local branches and about 35,000 voluntary workers. Undoubtedly it is starved of funds, in the sense that with a little more money it could render a great deal more service. It receives nationally no grant from public funds other than a small Ministry grant towards the teaching costs of a few residential courses provided on a national basis. Apart from this small sum, nationally speaking it derives the whole of its income from voluntary sources. But it seems clear that, unless some help can be given from public funds—and I gather there is at least one Article of the Further Education Grant Regulations, 1946, under which it can be done—the work will have to be cut. It is time that some help was given to the W.E.A. in its national work, apart from the small grant I have mentioned.

Again, in the case of the districts, the Ministry's direct grant to the seventeen districts was, in 1952, 48.5 per cent. of their total income, and in 1957 only 42.9 per cent. The least that could be done would be to redress this position. But surely the whole subject of assistance to districts of the W.E.A. should be looked at more widely and sympathetically; and the teaching costs, as distinct from the organising costs, in the districts, should be covered or almost covered, by public funds. I am aware that the present grant of 75 per cent. towards teaching costs in W.E.A. districts sounds quite generous, but bearing in mind the organisational costs, where some assistance is obtained from local authorities but where they have a heavy burden, if we really believe in the W.E.A. and the work they are doing, we should see that almost the whole of the burden of the teaching costs in the districts is carried as a charge on the community as a whole.

I submit those points to the noble and learned Viscount and his colleagues. What precisely is the right financial answer is clearly a matter on which opinions might differ, and the W.E.A. is far from being the only force concerned with adult education. But I feel sure that when the noble and learned Viscount replies he will try (and no one is better at inspiring a whole movement than the noble and learned Viscount) to give encouragement in words—and the kind of words that suggest deeds—to those labouring in the field of adult education.

I know, and we ought all to know, the immense contribution to adult education in one form made by his grandfather; and we know the noble and learned Viscount's devotion to liberal education. But may I remind him—and not in any acrimonious spirit—of a sentence in the passage quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, which was written by Sir Winston Churchill from No. 10 Downing Street on March 11, 1953. He wrote, at that time: The mental and moral outlook of free men studying the past with free minds in order to discern the future demands the highest measures which our hard-pressed finances can sustain. May I quote again that last sentence: The highest measures which our hard-pressed finances can sustain. I am sure the noble and learned Viscount will hardly come down to the House this afternoon and tell us that the country is poorer than ever. We are told, and it may well be true, that we have never been quite so rich. What, then, is going to be the encouragement—the practical, the more than verbal encouragement—that Her Majesty's Government intend to give to adult education to-day? Believing, as we ought to do, within the House, as others believe outside, in the tremendous importance of this work, to the whole moral as well as intellectual future of the country, we await with considerable anxiety, but not without a measure of solid hope, what the noble and learned Viscount has to say.

5.49 p.m.


My Lords, we have travelled over a great variety of topics this afternoon and it is a little difficult to know how a Government speaker should attend to each of them when replying. Almost every speech has been the speech of someone who has personal experience of a particular kind to offer to the House, and practically none of them has really shown points which demand criticism, or even comment.

The noble Lord who introduced this Motion and some others quite rightly reminded the House that this subject falls naturally into place after our debate two weeks ago on the subject of the use of leisure. Being by its nature voluntary, adult education must be treated as part of the use of leisure. Whilst I am dealing with the noble Lord's speech, I should like to add my own tribute of praise to the others which have been paid; and also to express my acknowledgment to the noble Lord for the public work which he does for adult education in Scotland, particularly in connection with Newbattle Abbey College and, through him, to the many thousands of other people whose activities have been generally described this afternoon, who work in this field, sometimes freely and sometimes for reward, but who devote a very great deal of the measure of their time outside the ordinary burden of their normal duties to adult education.

It is therefore as a valuable use of leisure, in the context which we were discussing two weeks ago, that we can start to consider the bearing of this work. The range is extremely wide, rather wider in some ways, I should have thought, than one might have gathered from a superficial attendance at this afternoon's debate which has mainly revolved round the academic courses, sometimes three years in length, which are traditionally the work, very largely, of the extra-mural departments of the universities and of the Workers' Educational Association. I think the right reverend Prelate really drew attention to this when he pointed out the discrepancy between the relatively low figures of students mentioned by previous speakers and the relatively large number of enrolments in evening classes, because, of course, evening classes must play an important part, and numerically play the largest part, in the work of adult education. I shall return to their work in due course.

I would entirely agree with those speakers who have claimed on behalf of this small limited group about which we have mainly been talking that they have a value and an importance quite out of proportion to their numbers, largely for the reason given by the noble Lord who summed up for the Party opposite: that a disproportionately large number of these students are people who play the unrecognised but, none the less, vitally important rôle in a free country of moulding the opinion of others. The fact that there may be in the course of a year only between 100,000 and 200,000 students of this kind does not, I think, give a fair measure of the influence which they are likely to have.

I think that the right reverend Prelate was probably mistaken in thinking that fire had gone out of the thing to the extent that perhaps his remarks would have suggested. It is quite true that some years ago there was a definite recession in numbers, both in Scotland and in England, although, oddly enough, not at exactly the same time; but the present figures are slightly higher than they have ever been before. Whether one is discouraged or encouraged by this fact will depend partly upon temperament and partly upon the general view one has of the subject. But at any rate they are commanding marginally more support than they have ever commanded before. At the same time—and this is what I think makes the subject peculiarly difficult to discuss at all shortly, or even convincingly—underlying the whole debate there has been an implied recognition, which has only sometimes come to the surface, that there is a definite relationship between the formal education, both in school and thereafter, provided by the educational apparatus of a country and both the kind and the extent of adult education which is sought by the community after formal education has ceased to be available.

I do not myself think it is particularly helpful to draw figures of comparison in expense between the cost of school education, for instance, and the amount of public money which is spent on adult education: I do not think they are comparable. I will return to this aspect of the subject in a moment, But I think it has been generally recognised that, side by side with the kind of adult education which we have been discussing—that is to say, that which in one way or another ranks for public money from the rates or from the taxes—there is an immense range of activities of a cultural kind which can be described only as educational. We could not, for instance, disregard the fact that about 392 million books a year are borrowed from public libraries alone. Nor could one disregard the large measure of education in a very wide range of subjects which people acquire at their own expense. These are not things which can be disregarded.

Nor can the wireless be disregarded as an educational influence. Nor should it, I think, really come in for the kind of ridicule and criticism which some speakers have shown a tendency to give it. Obviously programmes are open to criticism in one way and another. But I would say, as I have said before in this House, that, by and large, the coming of television into the home in either of the two forms in which it is available at the present time has been educationally an advantage to the people of this country. It may be that the standards are still not as high as we should like; but so far from being debased by television, I have no doubt that in the appreciation of music, art and culture, it has raised those standards. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, who made such a savage attack on the Independent Television network, is not here, but I would go so far as to say that many of these courses which we are discussing this afternoon have a definite relation to television programmes. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, but it might have been another noble Lord, who referred to people demanding a course in archæology. Why do they demand a course in archæology? Those who have seen the television programmes on archæology know why; they would not have done it otherwise.


That was the B.B.C.


But there are very high-quality prestige programmes on the other network too, and one could go through the courses demanded by people in various cultural subjects which rank for public funds and one could, I think, demonstrate in case after case that the demand had been stimulated by attractive radio programmes and television programmes which had for the first time stimulated interest in those subjects. I would therefore think that it is wrong to make a direct comparison between the amount of public funds which are spent on this kind of work and the amount of public funds which are spent on the wholly provided services of formal education. I think that is a false comparison.

But there remains a definite relationship between the formal educational system and the work of the adult educational system; and this has been implied or expressly recognised again and again. A great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, said in his remarkable speech is a commentary upon this general theme. What the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred to as the remedial function of adult education is simply a shorthand way of stating this general truth; that to some extent the demand for adult education (in the past, at any rate; to some extent certainly in the present, and for a very long time to come) will be born of the deficiencies in the formal apparatus of education, or else in its availability to the particular subject.

That could be illustrated, I think, by two general propositions about this subject. In the first place, the development in Scotland and in England has been on different lines. This is not, I believe, a coincidence. In Scotland, secondary education and university education have been—and, to some extent, university education still is—more widely available to the people at large than in England; and the result, curiously, was that the development of adult education in Scotland was, on the whole, rather later than in England. I am sure these facts are not unconnected. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, referred to the early pioneering work of Anderson in Glasgow, and it is of course true that the Scottish adult education movement has this long and honourable tradition. But it still remains true that the English formal education system, being less widely available, produced as its complement a more vigorous adult education movement at an earlier date.

Secondly, I think this truth can be seen very clearly in the kind of demand for courses at the present time. I have already indicated that the demand for the academic course is marginally greater than it has been before. None the less, both in Scotland and in England—and I happen to have here the very interesting figures for the particular institution for which the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, is responsible—it is generally true that there has been a shift in demand away from a course of three years towards a shorter course, and it may be that a student will ultimately enrol for more than one. Of course, broadly speaking, it is better to give a good general education at school, followed by a good education in a given subject, leading to a university degree at the ordinary undergraduate age, than to give the same instruction later on in life by means of adult education. That is not to say that adult education will cease to have a function in a modern society with a fully developed formal educational apparatus, still less that it has no function at the present time.

For instance, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said, it is still true that the great majority of adults in this country have had a defective formal education—and that is irremediable during the lifetime of any one of us—because we are the children, in one way or another, of an educational apparatus which has been defective either in content or in availability. The great majority of adults left school before they were fifteen: not when they were fifteen, but before they were fifteen, because they lived that part of their life under an earlier Act. Further, a great number of those who could, by reason of their abilities, invoke the full range of educational facilities at the present time still leave too early, either voluntarily or because of some economic circumstance or preference of their own. I forget the figures, which would no doubt be more appropriate to the debate which we are to have next week, but the great majority of young people in this country do leave at fifteen, and a large proportion of those who do could well stay on and benefit from further formal education, in many cases up to a university degree.

It therefore remains true that the adult education movement must perform its traditional work to remedy what is still a defective formal education system, although, of course, we hope—we not only hope, but we know—that this will be gradually diminishing during the course of our lifetime, as more and more people stay on at school and as a wider range of formal education is available. Of course, even where this is not so, and looking further into the future, where it will not be so at all, there remain plenty of people with an adequate formal education who may still wish to employ their leisure in supplementing that education in one way or another by pursuing some additional course of study in a field in which they may not have specialised at the university or at school. So, even with a wide range of adequate formal educational facilities, there is a permanent place for adult education in our educational system; and, while it remains true that the large bulk of the population has not had all the education which it might well have enjoyed, adult education will have a remedial function to fulfil.

Now how is the social need being met? It is, I think, not really possible—and this is the view certainly of my right honourable friends the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland—to separate formally the question of adult education from further education. Neither of my right honourable friends would themselves think that this implies any want of status for adult education, but simply that the subjects are so inextricably intertwined the one with the other that they could not usefully be separated into two separate entities. The subject can be divided partly into education for use and profit, or in evening classes, which is mainly undertaken by the local authorities, and partly into education of a more academic or formal character, either for intellectual achievement or social or artistic enjoyment, or even vocational, which is mainly undertaken by the universities and the voluntary bodies.

If I may start with the local authorities, the 146 local education authorities in England and Wales seek to do three things. They provide facilities for the voluntary bodies responsible for organising classes, and they contribute about 10 per cent. of the cost of this work. They maintain 23 of the 29 colleges providing short residential courses whose student numbers have increased from 21,000 to 50,000 in the last ten years. They also maintain some 8,300 evening institutes which, as the right reverend Prelate reminded us, are attended by nearly one million students, of whom more than half are women. These, too, have noticed a change in the demand for their work. With the changes in education—the additional children staying at school, and the more vocational training which is available, of which I have already spoken—the institutes need no longer provide so much basic education for adolescents or so many technical subjects and they are therefore concentrating on liberal classes for adults in arts and crafts, music, drama, languages, literature, women's subjects and, to some extent, also, on science. Here I should emphasise that, although I thought the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, was a little scornful of scientific subjects, for those of us who have had an education which has not been mainly scientific it can at least be argued that courses in science are a liberal education.

The Minister thinks, and I think, that as standards of living and education rise more adults will want to take advantage of this kind of class. The Government contribute their full share of this expenditure through the general grant, as in the case of other expenditure incurred by local education authorities, and, although I suppose the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, had as a matter of ritual to have his jab at the general grant, I must say that when I look back on the formidable jeremiads and warnings with which I was threatened at the time this was going through, and I look at the rapidly expanding education budget—which even if we make no further improvements will absorb in a relatively short number of years 5 per cent. of our gross national product—I am bound to say that I think the dispute about the general grant has proved to be rather less important than the enthusiasts would have had us believe at the time it was introduced.

The twenty university departments and the seventeen districts of the Workers' Educational Association and a few other bodies are the voluntary partners who provide mainly academic classes. As I have indicated, last year they were attended, in England and Wales alone, by about 170,000 students; and this is the highest figure on record. Similarly, the figures for Scotland are the highest on record. There has been, as I indicated, a shift from, the three-year course to shorter courses, but this reflects a change in the tastes and requirements of the population and is not, I think, to be regretted. The number of science courses has more than doubled in the past twelve years. Some of them have aspired to nuclear physics, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, knows, and even astro-physics, and study courses are being developed on these lines. Complementary with the responsible bodies are the five residential colleges providing one-year or two-year liberal courses. These do particularly valuable work, especially for students who have not been to a university but can profit from a long course of regular study. There are also certain national voluntary bodies interested in promoting the liberal education of adults. All these and similar interests comprise the voluntary element which is vital to the success of adult education. This element will survive and flourish only if voluntary efforts continue and increase.

Several references have been made to finance, and I should like to say a word or two on that question. The Government believe in the value of the voluntary element and encourage it by means of direct grants from the Ministry. The grants to the universities and the other voluntary bodies in England and Wales are expected to total £664,000 for the coming financial year. Some £603,000 of this will be for the responsible bodies, about £43,000 for the residential colleges and some £18,000 for the national organisations. This is more than double the total it was ten years ago, although it is fair to say that one of the consequences of paying—as the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, reminded us we are paying—a better remuneration to the teachers is that most of that increase has in fact gone on fairer remuneration to those who provide the instruction, and only a few grants have been available for expansion of work. Whilst I am on the subject of pay of adult education teachers, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, that the Scottish Education Department is not aware of any serious dissatisfaction amongst adult education teachers in Scotland. It is true that in Scotland these classes are arranged by the education authorities in co-operation with extra-mural departments, the Workers' Educational Association and the other voluntary bodies; but generally the rate for the job is paid, and university tutors and others with high qualifications are remunerated accordingly, since the salary depends on the level of the work done.

Including what they receive from the University Grants Committee, 89 per cent. of the expenditure of the university departments in England and Wales is made from public funds. For the W.E.A. districts the comparable figure is 74 per cent. If public funds are to provide more massive support to voluntary bodies than this—which after all means nine-tenths in one case and three-quarters in the other—I feel that a good case ought to be made out. What is clear is that in this technical age we need liberal studies to leaven vocational specialisation and to provide a constructive use for our leisure. Our country's record in this field of education, I should say, stands remarkably high, particularly as regards the active participation of the universities. The question now is how best it can do better.

I should think that what has been said this afternoon has established both the need for the work which is being done and the high quality of what is being provided. I should say quite confidently, from my own feeling on the matter, that adult education, both in the senses which have been discussed more particularly and in a wider sense, continues to serve an important social need, and probably has its best days in front of it, although the need is changing and the services provided must also change with it. I should think that the people of this country have never been so highly educated as they are now, and in another ten or fifteen years' time, when the mass of the young adult population will have had the benefit of our post-war education, they will be as far better than the present population as we could confidently say the present population is better than that before the war. Within that new educational environment I should have thought that adult education in every sense had an important and exciting rôle to play.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, in asking permission to withdraw my Motion for Papers (whatever those Papers may be; I have never yet learned what they are) there are just two things I want to say. The first is to thank most sincerely those few but very effective speakers who have taken part in this debate. It has shown that there is a considerable amount of interest and concern about adult education, and I hope that one of the outcomes of the debate will be to instil in the minds of the general public how important this particular kind of education is. I should imagine it an abuse of the Standing Orders of your Lordships' House if I ventured to argue any of the points that have been raised. If I did not refer to administration or to finance in any special way, it was done for two reasons. First, the differences, both in the tradition and in the system, between England and Scotland are such that it would only have been confusing if I had attempted to refer to it. And, secondly, quite frankly, I think it is more important that the country as a whole should know how vital the cultivation of adult education is for all of us, rather than to deal with the minutiæ. Thanking all noble Lords for taking part in the debate, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.