§ 5.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH rose to draw attention to the use of modern means of communication in education; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I am very grateful that the Government should have given time for us to discuss this Motion, even if it is at rather a late hour, because I believe it to be one not only of the greatest possible importance in this country but also now in the Whole world. During the previous Session we had four debates on educational matters. The first was on opportunities for leisure; there was the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Green-hill, on adult education; then one on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, on the Crowther Report; and finally, in May, the late Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, whose death is so great a loss to your Lordships' House, put forward his Motion regarding university and other higher education.
§ It occurred to me during those debates that a discussion in this House on the use of modern methods in education would not come amiss, and I was encouraged to find that several other noble Lords were in agreement with me. I had in the first instance intended to limit the discussion to television, the new medium, but at the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Aberdare (who I hope is with us in the House) I widened the subject matter so that any noble Lord who wished to discuss matters arising out of school broadcasting by sound radio, or even the use of gramophone records or tape recordings in education, would be at liberty to do so.
§ I propose to confine my own remarks merely to television. In saying this, I must at the outset declare an interest, in so far as I am a director of an independent television company and am also associated with an electronics firm that manufactures equipment, although what I have to say is entirely on my own responsibility and the views I express are not necessarily those of the companies I have mentioned. I am most anxious that in this debate, especially as it is so late, we should not get into a controversial discussion about the merits 1059 of public service versus commercial broadcasting. Your Lordships will doubtless have several opportunities of speaking on this when the Pilkington Committee's Report is issued. I hope it will be possible for us to confine ourselves to the educational side.
§ My remarks fall into three parts. In the first place, I should like to refer to the educational television programmes put out by the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. in this country; then to say something about what is happening in America; then to deal with the question of educational television overseas, particularly in the new emergent, uncommitted nations, and to end by making a few humble suggestions. In regard to the B.B.C. and I.T.A. in this country, it will be remembered that they started their regular educational programmes in 1957. The scope of their respective programmes is given in the Annual Reports of the Corporation and the Authority. They provide, on the whole, complementary services. Hitherto both have concentrated principally on secondary schools, although lately there has been an extension both ways to primary schools and also the grammar school sixth forms. The subjects covered include science, farming, natural history, geography, literature, civics and now even languages. My own company are, for example, producing a series of French language programmes in France itself for schools in this country: for the first time this really will be French from France.
§ I think that the programmes of both Associated Rediffusion, who were the pioneers, and of the B.B.C. are quite excellent. Both organisations produce admirable brochures which go with the programmes (your Lordships might care to look at them) and undoubtedly these two services provide something quite adequate, within certain limits. However, the regrettable fact is that out of some 30,000 or so schools in this country not more than around 2,500 are now taking these programmes. Surely, at least, say, 15,000 could be equipped to receive them. There are a number of reasons why the incentive to take them has not been so strong. First, of course, there is the financial problem of purchasing the receivers. Your Lordships may have seen that the London County 1060 Council recently authorised the purchase of a further mere twenty receivers, ten of which will be for secondary schools and ten for primary schools. The independent companies have helped by providing a number of sets on permanent loan—receivers which can, of course, take the B.B.C. as well—but it is obviously impossible for them to do this for all the schools in the country. I think, indeed, there is a good deal to be said for lifting the purchase tax on receivers used exclusively for school purposes.
§ The second difficulty has been that of fitting these programmes into the school curricula, since school timetables differ a great deal in this country. Education here is not as standardised as it is on the Continent, and particularly in France. In the interesting Report by the O.E.E.C. on Teaching Through Television there is a comparison of the methods used in this country, France, Germany and Italy, which are the countries most involved from that point of view. It is clear that in France, where the system is more standardised under the Ministry, it is easier to integrate the programmes into the curricula. But I hope that these problems here may be overcome.
Perhaps the third reason for the slow growth in the development of this medium in schools is the great success of education by sound radio. Having got one system, is there any particular reason why we should switch to the newer medium? I believe that there is. Sound radio cannot deal with subjects such as science or medicine, where visual presentation is essential. I read this morning a most interesting article in the T.V. Times entitled, "The Rewards of Classroom Television." It is by Richard Hickman, who is Head of the Education Department of the National Union of Teachers: I assume that he is an independent authority. It is an extremely interesting article, and there is just one passage that I should like, if your Lordships would permit me, to read. He says:
What of the future? Firstly, we need many more programmes, and, as they are costly, there is a duty to make sure that there is the utmost co-ordination and co-operation among the initiating companies.
Secondly, initiating companies must build up and maintain units which are not only sufficient to become expert in teaching methods
and techniques, but are able to help the closest possible contact with schools.
Thirdly, it looks as if programmes for primary schools and sixth forms must have an important place in future plans.
Now I come to one of the more important points in my remarks, and that is the question of the present hours of television broadcasting.
§ In view of the undoubted value of educational television, I hope that the Government will authorise an extension in the existing hours. Like my right honourable friend the Minister of Education, I should particularly like to see programmes on adult education started on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, it is not possible to put in strictly school programmes at peak hours, when the public require entertainment of some kind. It is true that some excellent features and documentaries are from time to time given in peak hours. I think of that excellent programme on the B.B.C. recently "The Lawyers", and that really supremely moving "Ceremony of the Clothing of a Nun" on Independent Television two Sundays ago. But these programmes, while they have a great educational value are not, strictly speaking for schools.
§ In speaking of the extension of hours, I could add, of course, as most of your Lordships know, that in the United States programmes like "Continental Classroom", on the National Broadcasting Corporation's Network, and the C.B.S. "Sunrise Semester" start around 6.30 a.m. every morning. Whether we should like to follow a similar pattern, I do not know. Some of your Lordships might dislike getting out of bed at 6.30 a.m. to turn on the "telly". But a lot of keen learners among your Lordships, I am sure, would be interested to do so. However, I think that some extension, especially at the week-end, would be desirable. After all, even the existing channels are not at present fully used. Such extensions should enable organisations concerned to encourage extra-mural studies, and perhaps establish a kind of "university of the air", of which there has been more than one champion of late. I wonder whether the Workers' Educational Society, the further education colleges and the women's institutes might not like to help in organising such programmes.1062
§ Reference to television in the United States brings me to the second part of my remarks. In America, the medium in education has developed quite differently from this country. Whereas in Britain, from the outset in 1957, the programmes were put out by the two broadcasting bodies within their existing services, in America stations exclusively devoted to education were established as early as May, 1953, in Houston, in Texas; and now there are 51 non-commercial educational stations taking programmes produced largely by the Ford Foundation, as well as by other foundations and educational bodies. They are co-ordinated by the National Educational Television and Radio Centre in New York. I wonder whether we could not perhaps establish some similar kind of co-ordinating body in this country. The Federal Communications Commission in the United States has reserved 257 channels for such stations. Your Lordships may have heard of K.Q.E.D., in San Francisco, which has been running since 1954 and has received a number of awards for outstanding achievements.
§ What is particularly remarkable to my mind is that the cost for a full year of running programmes from a station such as K.Q.E.D., which is broadcasting entirely educational programmes throughout the day, equals the cost of production of one major network entertainment-spectacular, if I may be permitted to use the jargon of show business—that is to say, to run a station for one year costs about 350,000 dollars. One big entertainment programme in the year could pay for the running of this station in the United States. Can there be any reason why this should not be done here? The channels are, of course, available.
§ I will not here go into the details of the operation of other university television stations in America. I will only say that I believe they perform art important function, even if we may think that some of the programmes are not up to the standard we might require in this country. What I think is interesting, however, is that a station such as that of the University of North Carolina serves not only the University but nearly all the schools in that State. There they have fully integrated the programmes into the curricula. It seems to me rather extraordinary that we have not yet introduced 1063 this kind of station in this country. I gather that Cambridge University and Leeds University have been considering possibilities, but that no definite decisions have yet been taken. I hope that universities in the making, such as our own in the South, the new University of Sussex, are giving careful consideration to this matter. Although I recognise the great value of the existing services on the B.B.C. and I.T.A., providing as they do the basic educational programmes for primary and secondary schools, I still think there is room for further specialised teaching by television, possibly even, in some circumstances, direct or so-called master-teaching within a university, either by closed or open circuit.
§ I think that full advantage should be taken of the subjects in which a particular university excels. If they are recognised as surpassing others, say, in the field of engineering, then their recorded television programmes might be exported and made available to other universities. I should not like to think that in this, of all countries, teaching by television was completely standardised over virtually the whole population.
§ In addition to university courses, there seems to me to be another extension beyond the present services which might be of value. By that I mean possibly closed circuit or short micro-wave relay between nearby schools. As your Lordships will have gathered, the existing services consider that their function should be to enrich and supplement the work of teachers, and not to do the job of teaching themselves. But I believe there are cases where direct instruction may be desirable—for instance, where the shortage of teachers is particularly acute in certain subjects. This idea has been exploited a good deal in the United States, and I am glad to learn that the experimental linking for this purpose of two secondary schools in Middlesex, Hayes and Harlington, is now planned for science lessons throughout the spring term of next year. I believe that this experiment should be watched carefully, as we should also watch the other experiments in the United States, such as Hagerstown in Maryland, which brings in all the schools in the county, and in Alabama where 67 hours of lessons a week are broadcast over three stations.1064
§ Compare that with the joint weekly output—high quality, it is true—of the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. in this country. All in all, I feel there should be more experimentation in an attempt to fill in the gaps which schools, even with the assistance of films and radio, cannot do on their own. Perhaps a new co-ordinating body such as I have suggested might at the same time be responsible for the necessary research, working closely perhaps with the Minister himself and any foundations in this country which may be interested.
§ The last part of my remarks concerns overseas territories, and the new emergent nations in Africa and Asia. Already there is an educational television service operating in West Nigeria. It was started a few months ago. The International Co-operation Agency in America, which administers the Point Four programme, has provided an American to take charge of the West Nigerian service. He is doing an excellent job. He is using both American and British programmes equally. He is bending over backwards to be scrupulously fair in this respect. I know the great contribution which Point Four makes in this way.
§ We have already had expressed this afternoon great gratitude to the generosity of the United States over the Indus Basin. Here again there is no doubt that we owe a great deal to the United States in filling a gap which we should probably have filled ourselves at the outset. I know, too, from experience in other countries where new television stations have been established, what a contribution they have made in those countries. Then the Ford Foundation, which I have already mentioned, is going into Latin America and is now also thinking of helping in Africa. There is no reason whatever why we should not co-operate closely with our American friends in this field as is at present being done in the countries I have mentioned; but we must make a substantial programme contribution of our own.
§ Within the next year or two some 12 to 20 other countries in Africa will have set up television stations. The American agencies which I have mentioned are making special allocations for the provision of programmes in those areas, and 1065 I feel that we must also do so in a bigger way, because programmes of the B.B.C. and I.T.A., whether strictly educational or of the current affairs type, are not by any means all suitable for these new territories. Perhaps one of the first requirements in some of these countries would be a service for the illiterates, such as was recently established in Italy where there is a rather high percentage of illiteracy, especially in the south. The Italians are planning to run 3½ hours each week to teach adults in the poverty stricken villages in Southern Italy how to read and write, and they are providing 2,000 receivers for this purpose. I would not compare that with the mere additional 20 recently bought by the L.C.C., for the objects are different. But still we should watch the Italian experiment, especially from the point of view of what we cart help to provide for these new emergent nations.
§ I hope, therefore, that both in respect of an extension of television facilities in this country and in respect of their introduction in the new African territories some of the great trusts and foundations in this country will help. I am very glad that the Colonial Office appointed a special officer, Commander Proud, to look into this matter. He was head of Cyprus Broadcasting (I knew him there); and later became chairman of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. I think he is to be congratulated on the progress he has made in arousing interest, and I hope that perhaps we shall notice that interest from the noble Lord who is answering for the Government tonight.
Finally, may I quote two out of numerous educational authorities who have spoken of the value of the new medium. The first is by the President of the National School Boards Association in the United States. He says:
In my opinion television will eventually become one of the major tools in the teaching procedure. I feel that it will supplement but not replace the personal teacher-pupil relationship. It will, in my opinion, greatly enhance the effectiveness of the good teacher; it will be of considerable aid to the mediocre teacher, and it will help to minimise negative results of the poor teacher. Although it will take some time to evolve techniques to realise its maximum effectiveness I think it is off to an encouraging start.
Another great American educational authority, the President of the Now York Board of Education says:
I look forward to the day when television will be one of the most powerful and stimulating instruments at the disposal of the classroom teacher. Its power of immediacy, its intimate appeal to children, the effectiveness with which it can pinpoint the smallest detail of whatever it looks at, these are just some of the reasons why we must learn how to fit it into the administration and methodology"—
I hope that noble Lords will accept the word—
of modern schools".
I entirely agree with those great educational experts that television can never, I repeat never, supplant the teacher. Only where there are exceptional shortages will television temporarily take over in direct, rather than merely supplementary, tuition.
§ To summarise, my Lords, may I make these points? One, I hope that more schools will make use of the existing programmes of the B.B.C. and I.T.A.; two, that schools will make every attempt to adjust their curricula; three, that purchase tax may be lifted from receivers used in schools; four, that the Government may see fit to authorise an extension of the hours of viewing to enable more adult education programmes to be shown; five, that the Postmaster General will grant licences to enable universities, perhaps with the assistance of foundations in this country, to start pilot schemes with low-powered transmitters covering the immediate vicinity of universities, and six, that similar foundations may also assist in the provision of services for the overseas countries, so that we in Britain can play our part with our American friends in this vast new field. My last hope would be that the Ministry of Education may decide to create a co-ordinating body similar to that which exists already in the United States. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Earl for bringing this subject forward, but I am sorry that I shall be unable to fall in with his earnest request and avoid being con troversial. It is not often that I have to be controversial in this House, and it certainly is not a matter of Party politics, but I rather wonder why the noble Earl has brought this subject forward and why in the first instance he concentrated on television, which is certainly at the moment the least important—and I say 1067 this advisedly—of modern means of communication so far as education is concerned. I am sure your Lordships will agree that the most expensive type of instrument for communication is not always the ideal one and that there may be other types on which we ought to be concentrating as part of the whole pattern of education and for helping education, in preference to television. I will try to say something in the first instance about some of these modern aids, and then go on to discuss the position of television in education both at home and certainly more notably abroad.
All teachers to-day, except perhaps a few in privately run schools, and I should not think many of those, are accustomed to using some form of aids, and some of those aids may not be completely modern, although sometimes the use of old aids is modern. Undoubtedly, at the moment the most important of these aids in the schools is the film strip, which has the great advantage of being comparatively cheap. Then there are the cine film, the tape recorder, and also what are sometimes called non-projected aids—just simple objects like wall charts, sometimes things that are made in the schools themselves, like flannel graphs. These are modern in their use, many of them are cheap, and they are of real assistance as a tool in the hand of the teacher, in the same way, of course, that the television set will in due course become a tool in the hands of the teacher. Before we start worrying about whether there should be 15,000 television sets, it would be as well if we could increase the number of film strip projectors in schools. There are now 23,000 schools with film strip projectors, but probably every school ought to have one. If we are to add television sets and there is a limited budget, it becomes a straight choice as to which should have priority.
As the noble Earl said—at least, I think this was the burden of his remarks—visual aids can only increase the efficiency of the teacher; only in exceptional cases can they replace the teacher. But the most important thing, if the teacher is to remain in control, is that he himself has control of the aids that he wishes to use, and one of the 1068 disadvantages of a centrally provided programme is that it is exceedingly inflexible when it comes to planning your school curriculum. After all, there are a number of large schools, but one television set will not go very far in relation to the number of children in that school. It is the fact that it may be much easier to provide a large number of sound radio sets, if one wants to make use of them, or, of course, more film strip projectors, than to provide television sets.
I should like to put to the Government this point: that there is a need for a lot more work and help in this matter. There are some admirable institutions—there is the National Committee for Visual Aids in Education, and there is, I think, an Educational Foundation. These are financed wholly without direct Government subvention. The local authorities provide much of the money, and one of the consequences is that practically no research is being done in this field. A great deal of research is being done in regard to visual and other aids in other countries, particularly in the United States, but the only research we are doing from this country is a survey of research in Europe, which is in fact being paid for by the United States Government. I hope that on this matter the Government will listen to some of the views that have been expressed by those who are concerned in this field.
Even teaching films are short. Science, which is generally agreed as being one of the subjects in which some extra help is especially needed, is not receiving enough funds for providing the type of films that are wanted. The value of this can, I think, be shown by some of the advanced science films which have been made with the support of industry. Twelve films which have been made are being given something like 5,000 to 7,000 showings each in over 50 countries. There are other films that ought to be made for our schools. I think Sir Winston Churchill in his memoirs suggested that we ought to have a series of films on the Commonwealth. We have not got them yet. This is what is needed.
At the moment the money available for production from local authority contributions is £9,000 a year. Germany 1069 spends £170,000 and the United States spent 4½ million dollars on one science project alone. When we look at it, this is a rather sorry tale in comparison to the value of these, on the whole, much cheaper and more flexible aids to education. We have to bear in mind that Governments have not been kind in support of these matters. Of course, they were responsible for one of the great tragedies of our time, the destruction of the Crown Film Unit, which saved us no money—indeed, cost us more money, because a lot of other people, such as local authorities and many others, had to move in to do the work that the Crown Film Unit was doing so well.
I should now like to look at the question of visual aids overseas. Here we find a rather exciting position. There is a body called the Overseas Visual Aids Centre, which is also concerned with audio aids and which is financed partly by the Colonial Office and partly by the Nuffield Foundation. It is one of these exciting, small units which are full of enthusiasm, doing a really important job with little resources and having an extremely significant effect in overseas territories. Its influence spreads not only to the British Commonwealth but to other countries. The Russians and many people have been to see the work it does, and what it seeks to do is, not to provide expensive equipment, but to enable people by modern teaching to make their own aids—simple little devices like flash cards which are held up in order to produce a subluminal effect on a child's mind in teaching him to spell; or again, as I mentioned before, the flannel graph, which is just a piece of cloth on which are stuck, perhaps, maps, and so on, and which may be folded up and put away. Anybody can make them; they are easy to make, they are cheap and they have a stimulating effect.
There are many other such devices, even the use of puppets—a most interesting psychological use with a difficult or perhaps frightened class, by which the teacher can use the puppet with his hand in order to speak to the children. He does not have to go in for ventriloquism; he merely produces a sympathetic figure. Those are some of the important things in education which I think we should encourage, and it is the enthusiastic people who are working in this field to 1070 whom we should be grateful and whom we should support.
I should now like to turn again to the question of the television and sound radio education services. There are other noble Lords who are more competent than I to talk on the B.B.C. sound services. They are, of course, much more important in extent than television, and. again they are more flexible. They are cheaper. There are something like 1,300 sound programmes to over 600 television programmes. The B.B.C. television service for schools was started only after the most careful consideration. I want to emphasise to your Lordships that we ought not lightly to charge into the field of the educationists and start giving them what they have not decided they want. The B.B.C. set up a special council in order to advise them on the introduction of television.
And here I must, I am afraid, make some criticisms of the commercial television companies. Associated Rediffusion set up their services before they had even established an advisory committee; and they only set up that advisory committee afterwards, under pressure from the educational world. Admittedly, they "scooped" the B.B.C. in the process, but it is not the kind of thing in which we want to see "scooping". This is not a field in which we necessarily want to see competition.
It is perfectly true that the Associated Rediffusion programmes do not clash with the B.B.C. programmes. They are put on in the morning; and I am not in the position to make any comment on how good or how bad they are. I am quite willing to accept that they match up to the standard of the B.B.C. Some may be better, some may be worse. But this is not true of all the commercial television companies. The Granada Company, quite independently have been putting on programmes which, in fact, do clash with the B.B.C. programmes; and so far as I know there has been no attempt to co-operate and the situation is becoming more confused. I understand that the noble Earl's own company—the Associated Television Company—have announced their intention of producing a schools' programme in January and that they very properly tried to associate themselves with the 1071 Associated Rediffusion Advisory Committee, only to find that the two companies could not agree. The Associated Television Company, even though the Independent Television Authority's Children's Committee attempted to mediate, are now to set up on their own. It is possible they will carry some of the Granada programmes. I am told also that the Scottish and Welsh commercial television services may carry some of these programmes.
This piecemeal expansion of commercial television schools' programmes is not going to meet the needs of the schools. It is not going to be subject to the control and advice of educationists and it is going only to confuse the issue. It may possibly produce the danger of bringing this whole very important medium into disrepute. I accept that the people who run the commercial television schools' services are people who are genuinely devoted to and interested in education, but this is something which, again, has to be thought about very carefully. It is not possible to divide the service, nor can the B.B.C. accept that they do part and the commercial television companies do another part, because the B.B.C. is the only service which at the moment is providing a national coverage, or something like it. There is, too, the problem of reception. Television sets are by no means as pleasant or as easy to look at as a film. They lack colour. They are not so easy to watch, and there are even some children who have said they have to watch television all the evening at home: must they watch it at school all the time? There may not be many of those, but this is something we have to take into account.
The noble Earl said that the television sets which are provided by the commercial companies and others can receive both wavelengths. I am informed that the Granada Company presented 200 receivers and that those were capable of receiving only the commercial programme. If this is true, it is an intolerable piece of hypocrisy. The excuse, when it was pointed out, as I am told it was, by the Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, was that it was a technical error. Technical errors may be unavoidable in television, but surely they do not have to take this particular form; and I 1072 am told that that has still not been put right. We do not want to see competing television educational programmes. We want education services on television where they are appropriate to the role they have to fill, meeting particular needs, and we must particularly make sure that we get proper research on the value of those programmes. This is not merely the value so generally expressed by important panjandrums in the United States or elsewhere. We can always find people who will genuinely hail any modern invention as a world-shaker. We want definite and expert opinion from teachers and others on the value of these particular developments.
One of the advantages of the B.B.C. is that the Schools Broadcasting Council carry out proper statistical surveys. There are panels of teachers, and the Council have fifteen education officers to advise them. In my opinion, these methods of assessment are necessary throughout the whole of the development of this medium. We are in danger of thinking there is a short cut in regard to the teaching of children. Perhaps it is worth while looking at the reports that are available. The London County Council, who have been carrying out an experiment with their twenty television sets mentioned by the noble Earl, plus a few more, have already given some judgment on the matter. They have said that the time is too early yet to estimate the value of this medium. They say the educational film has the great advantage over television that it can be selected to fit into a course of lessons as appropriate, instead of the choice and timing being imposed by an external agency. The reports of experts—teachers, the L.C.C. and others—have been that there is in fact some very real value to be obtained from television in schools, but that it has been in operation in this country for only a relatively short period and it does not necessarily follow that because television provides entertainment or even education in the home it can necessarily make an effective contribution to teaching in the classroom.
It was pointed out by, I believe, the Nuffield investigation into Television and the Child that one of the matters that has to be considered in assessing the value of television is that it must be judged against the background of the 1073 activity that it replaces. If that activity is direct teaching, then we have to think very carefully and assess whether or not t is in fact providing something better. Here, again, we have to do so against the background of the existence of visual education—film strips, charts and films, whose value is already established. The teacher has some 6,000 teaching films and film strips from which to choose.
As I understand it, the declared aim of schools television programmes is not teaching but to stimulate interest, to provide a spring-board for further activities and generally to provide enrichment in some class and extra-curricula subjects. In this matter it has an important part to play. Obviously there are certain subject—science maybe, current affairs and others—where when it is really first class it will have great value; and I am all in favour that it should continue to develop. But we must let it develop in a properly co-ordinated way. I would not be opposed to the suggestion of the noble Earl that there should be some co-ordinating body to oversee it. I am not sure whether perhaps there is not already a body suitable for this task. These problems would not have arisen if there had been co-ordination—but I will not go into this question of the setting up of commercial television.
I am certain that we must carry through proper pilot schemes if we are not to run the risk of doing real damage. It is too early to attempt a proper evaluation. And whereas I admire the noble Earl's enthusiasm—and I give him full credit for his enthusiasm and devotion in this matter; I am sure he genuinely believes that this is something of great importance—I beg leave to think that beside and in comparison with the development at the moment of conventional aids and the improvement of teaching generally, and possibly the better instruction of teachers in the use of these new aids, television must drop, for the moment, very much into the second place; and only at a much later date, when we have gone much further, should we start thinking about setting up special educational television programmes in this country.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, broadcasting and television, as every one of us knows, are extremely powerful 1074 instruments for absorbing the attention and occupying the time of the public. In the light of that I welcome the Motion of the noble Earl: in my view these two methods of communication should be used, among others, more and more for education. But when I examine the actual working of these modern means of communication to-day I find myself unable to avoid two observations. The first is that to some extent the most powerful of these modern means of communication, television, is being used for mis-education. The second is that these modern means are so different in technique from the old methods of education which we used to have, and which have brought me up, and most of us here, that they need the most careful study of technique.
On the first point I am going, after hearing the opening speech of the noble Earl, to say practically nothing. I shall send him, and to anyone else who is interested, what I regard as my evidence of mis-education by television to-day. I cannot conceal from him, as I have not concealed from this House, my feeling that television is too powerful a means of influencing the public mind to be left in any way under the control of persons who have any purpose of making wealth through it for themselves. I look forward to the time when that will be so widely recognised by any Government we have that they will see that television ought to be a public service, not concerned with money for itself or anyone else at all. That is all I am going to say upon that point.
On the second point, most of us here have had the experience of being educated or, at any rate, of masters trying to educate us—all of us in schools, and some in the universities also. My experience in schools and universities alike suggests the enormous value to the learner of the personal contact with his teacher and of the example of the teacher. The problem in using the new methods of communication in education is that of whether one can in any way import that personal contact into the new means of communication, into broadcasting and television, as we spread their use. For personal contact, television has certain advantages over broadcasting: the televiser is seen by the people to whom he is speaking looking at them; he is heard speaking to his audience. I 1075 wonder whether something could not be done to help him to follow up that contact. Could it not be made a practice, even at some expense of time, to invite questions and to answer them? Asking questions would apply to television and broadcasting alike. Of course, that would take more time of the televiser or the broadcaster. But do not even televisers and broadcasters like to know the effect of what they have said upon the people to whom they have talked? I always like to know, and I should be glad to go back, to hear questions and to answer questions, and to make a fresh contact.
I believe that when we begin to make these new means of communication more and more a part of our educational system we shall find them becoming more and more like our ordinary teachers themselves in some of the things they do, in wishing to pursue personal contacts with those whom they teach. Of course, all this sort of thing will have to come about, and can come about only by agreement and co-operation between the existing body of teachers and the communicators who are going to come into it. In some ways this problem looks to me a little like the problem we were discussing in this House recently of the Federation of Nyasaland and the two Rhodesias. The school system needs more teachers. It has not easily got all the teachers that it needs. It would benefit by getting more, and some slightly different help. The question whether we can bring about the kind of federation that exists between the Rhodesias and Nyasaland so that we can make use of these new means of communication that have themselves become public services and school services.
Of course, the best use of these new means of communication in education lies in choosing them for the right subjects. I notice that the British Broadcasting Corporation, in one of their documents, say that broadcasting is naturally specially strong in music, in modern languages, in history and in literature, while television is naturally strong in science, in current affairs and geography. I have not yet made out whether economic science is part of current affairs or a science at all, or whether mathematics is a science at all from that point of view. I am rather sorry that 1076 there should not be time for television to deal with history. There is a great deal of history that one can learn better by television than by anything else. But I am not going to quarrel with the B.B.C. about that, or over anything that they are doing. I have studied what they sent me with great interest, and I am delighted to learn that there are now 29,000 schools registered as listening to school broadcasting. At present, only 2,500 follow schools television, but the number is steadily growing.
Although I perhaps differ from him on something else, on the form of some of the machinery, I should like to join with the mover of this Motion in giving to the B.B.C., and to any other service which regards itself as primarily a service, every encouragement to go on and help our citizens, young and old alike, to fill their growing leisure not with silly ideals but to more and more advantage by acquiring more and more understanding of the world and their fellow citizens.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD JAMES OF RUSHOLME
My Lords, I am sure that everyone concerned with education professionally would want to thank the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, for raising this subject, for it is right that we should remind ourselves of these great new powers of mass communication that we have in our hands, through radio and television, because they quite obviously have educational results, both direct and indirect.
First, let me say something about their direct results—the direct use in the classroom, that is to say, of radio and television. I pay tribute to their influence the more willingly because I have in the past been suspected of being a somewhat lukewarm admirer. I think that the only saying of mine which may last for a year or two is the one that I was alleged to have made, that television would enter my school "over my dead body." Alas! my Lords, I did not actually make that remark. What I said was in answer to the question: if I had to choose between libraries or television for my school, which would I choose? And I said that if it was a choice between books and television, then in my school, in my particular circumstances, television had lost. That does, of course, bring out this very important point: that one always must ask, what is one replacing? One cannot 1077 say that any particular medium is right for every kind of school. But let me come back to this very great contribution which television and, of course, far more, radio, have made to education in this country.
I am not an expert in this field, but know enough to realise that over the past 30 years radio has become an integral, a valuable, in fact an almost indispensable, element in the life of many schools. Television, of course, is still new in our education, but I think it is already clear that it is going to play a still more important part in the years ahead—a more important part even than radio. The value which the schools attach to these media reflects, if I may say so, the greatest possible credit on the B.B.C., who have really done all the work as regards research and development. Anyone concerned with education at all must at once acknowledge this tremendous debt, not only for what the B.B.C. have done but for the way in which it has been done. This is very important, because the Corporation have administered the schools service through the Schools Broadcasting Council, which has meant that the service has been run for the schools by those either working in schools or in very close touch with them. The B.B.C. have not laid on programmes themselves, but only at the request of the Schools Broadcasting Council.
Secondly, and still more important, that Council has its own team of quite first-class officers constantly in the classrooms, watching, reporting on the programmes, conferring with the teachers and sitting side by side with the children, so that they do know what the programmes are doing. Thirdly, of course, the B.B.C. have always taken the line that, while radio and television can in no sense replace the teacher, they can help him by providing his pupils with information or stimulus, or demonstrations or illustrative material not otherwise accessible. The B.B.C.'s attitude is expressed in a sentence from the last report of the Schools Broadcasting Council. That says:The effective use of everything that T.V. can offer depends, as does everything else in schools, ultimately on the classroom teacher's imagination and skill.This, my Lords, is a vitally important point, because there are, after all, two 1078 ways of looking at this problem. Television can be an aid and a stimulus—the B.B.C. way—or it can be thought of as a substitute. That is the line which a great deal of work that has been done in America has followed. It involves one particularly gifted teacher, or sometimes simply one distinguished speaker, who may be a very bad teacher indeed, speaking on either closed or open-circuit television to a very large number of pupils. At its worst, it degenerates into the talking face which characterised the early Granada production, "Science in the Sixth Form".
Such devices may be justified as a last resort, when teacher-shortage becomes an altogether overwhelming problem, as it has in parts of the United States; but it must always be something different in kind from actual teaching. It may be something of an effective method for the inculcation of information, but for educative teaching the teacher must be able to see his audience; to sense their reactions; to realise their difficulties; to know who is going to sleep on the third row; to recapitulate; to ask and answer questions, and to stimulate discussion at the right moment. That is I what teaching is. Television, in fact, provides us with no easy escape from the obligation to attract teachers of the right quality into the service of our schools. It does, indeed, underline that obligation; and the linking of two schools in Middlesex for science teaching by a closed-circuit television is not a triumph for technology: it is a failure of the education system.
If the teacher and the educational world generally are full of praise for what the B.B.C. and the Schools Broadcasting Council have accomplished, what are the next steps? We may, in the first place, hope that the independent companies, at present sometimes tentative and somewhat inexpert, inevitably, in their methods (because they have not the same background; they have not the same school officers; they have not the same traditions or the same organisation) will copy the B.B.C. in its pattern of organisation and in its method—in other words, that they will learn.
But, faced with the really great expansion of the use of these new media, what else can we demand? First, we have to realise that these very great educational activities, affecting hundreds of 1079 thousands of children, have been carried out within the financial limits of ordinary licence revenues. If the television service for schools is to develop freely, and without being hampered by lack of facilities, there is an overwhelming case, not only for the retention by the B.B.C. of the whole of the licence fee, but for increasing the licence fee to an economic figure. We are, if we consider it in the light of this Motion, getting an extraordinarily cheap educational service, as well as a very cheap entertainment business. That point, I think, although it concerns sordid matters of money, is of the first importance.
Secondly, there is room for much research in the use of this medium. Let us realise that we are on the threshold of developments which may be really fundamental. We are at the moment without real knowledge of many factors which are involved in making the most effective use of these media. In spite of the efforts of the B.B.C.'s schools officers, and in spite of their years of experience, we are still not sure what the best subjects are, what the best ages are, what the best intelligences are, to tackle by these various techniques; and we must find out.
We may go on to ask whether it is only at the school age that this type of approach is effective. Some years ago there were adult listening groups for sound radio which met to discuss the sound programmes, and, as the noble Earl said, one cannot but feel that there is a very great field here for W.E.A. and extra-mural classes with television, provided, and always provided, that suitable material is available at the right times of the day—and that, I think, must inevitably mean that the third channel must go to the B.B.C. One cannot but feel that, if that is done, then one will have the leeway, the scope, the knowledge, to provide this kind of specifically educational material. Similarly, one able, young educational officer in the Corporation expressed to me his belief that there was a very great field here for providing suitable programmes for the general education of young men in colleges of advanced technology. Given means in the shape of money and broadcasting time, and enlightened group leaders and producers, which I believe we have, one can find in these new media 1080 very powerful means of post-school education.
The last field in which we can see the new media playing a major and perhaps decisive part—and this for many years will be radio, and not television—is in the under-developed countries. Everyone can rejoice to hear the noble Earl refer to that problem. Anyone, for example, who is interested in education, particularly a teacher who has visited, say, East Africa, must know what I mean when I talk about the alternations of optimism and despair which one gets: optimism because of the sight of the great human potentialities which simply await development—and, incidentally, because of the quality of some of the people working to develop them—and the despair of those days when one sees the widely scattered and illiterate populations to whom education must come, not over the centuries but now.
In the education of these emergent peoples radio is being used, and may well, I think, play a major part in giving them education. It will be quite a different part from that which it plays in this country. There the task will be much more one of primary instruction than of assisting trained and qualified teachers. There the problem will be one of providing a basis of literacy rather than enriching an established curriculum. To that task I believe we have to devote resources of money, of skilled manpower and of idealism, for there can be few more important educational tasks in the world.
My Lords, I have confined my remarks so far to the direct use of the new media to education in the formal sense. In conclusion, let me turn to what I believe to be a much more important problem: the general educative effect of radio, and particularly of television, on children. The school represents one of many influences on the child, and for every hour spent in looking at schools' programmes the average child spends literally many more hours looking at the ordinary output in the bosom of his home.
Some years ago the Nuffield Foundation sponsored the inquiry under Dr. Himmelweit called "Television and the Child". As noble Lords will know, the B.B.C. and I.T.A. jointly set up the O'Connor Committee to make recommendations in the light of that inquiry, 1081 and the O'Connor Committee reported earlier this year. Never has a report been disowned more promptly by those who asked that it should be made, because the statement disowning it was actually published inside the front cover of the report. But the facts cannot be disowned. Between 8.30 and 9 o'clock on any night of the week between one-third and one-half of all children between the ages of five and fourteen are watching television, which means that between three million and five million children are watching television at this moment and will go on watching it until 9 o'clock tonight. They will be looking at whatever appears on the screen during that time. In the words of the O'Connor report, all the available evidence shows that the greatest concentration of child viewers occurs between the hours of, not. 4 and 5, not during the Children's Hour, but 6 and 9. Yet because those are the peak viewing hours, and because—I hope I am not being controversial—we have sold our broadcasting system to advertising—
§ LORD JAMES OF RUSHOLME
—those are the very hours when matter of an educational importance or entertainment above the level of the most trivial is less likely to be broadcast. My Lords, it is futile to talk at great length about the value of television in schools—although that is jolly good—when the programmes broadcast in the day time are having to fight against the diseducative effect of those broadcast at night.
Faced with this picture of millions of children staring night after night at the screen, we have to realise certain new responsibilities. There is the responsibility of the teacher: he must reckon, as he often does not now, with the existence and power of this medium in children's lives. It is of no avail for a teacher to live in an ivory tower where Laramie and Rawhide do not exist. He has to discuss and evaluate them. It may well be held that one great task of television in the schools is to teach the pupils to bring discrimination to bear on the evening programmes they will inevitably see, so that they can see how bad very many of them are. Here is a task for training colleges and university departments of education, to give 1082 teachers standards by which they can judge this kind of activity.
Secondly, there is a new responsibility on the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. to look again at the recommendations of the O'Connor Committee. It is unrealistic to take shelter behind the responsibility of parents. Of course parents have responsibilities, but it is necessary even for corporate bodies to realise the facts of life and to know about homes with one living room but with a T.V. in it. They have to realise that in such homes the hours from 6 to 9 are hours of family viewing, not adult viewing. That does not mean that the programmes have to be beamed at the youngest members of the family. It does not mean that they have all to be solemn. There is a place for Bilko as well as for Look. But it does mean that those programmes should not, at any rate, be corrupting.
Finally, the development of these new media, and most important of all, television, puts responsibility not only upon the teacher and upon the authorities but on the whole community. It is a responsibility to realise that here we have an agency of immense potency in determining the whole character of our culture that can be used as a means of education in life, but which can also be used to cheapen taste, to make people acquiescent and to make the quality of life trivial. And in the last resort it is for the community to decide which way it is going to be.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Bessborough for giving us the opportunity of discussing this Motion, and in particular for having met my request and broadening the original terms of his Motion to include all aspects of modern means of communication in education, rather than television only.
Television is a new medium and certainly has great possibilities, but I think it would be a mistake were we to consider it in isolation, and I am glad that to-day we have an opportunity of surveying the whole field in proper perspective. I do not want in any way to belittle the efforts of commercial television to enter the field of schools broadcasting; I think we should welcome it 1083 and commend the way in which Associated-Rediffusion, in spite of certain obvious drawbacks, have set about their task. They have shown a willingness to co-operate with the existing services provided by the B.B.C., which is admirable, and I hope that other commercial companies entering this field will be equally willing to co-operate with the B.B.C.
At the outset I should like, as have both Lord Shackleton and Lord James of Rusholme, to emphasise the vastly greater importance at the present moment of sound broadcasting. The figures speak for themselves. The B.B.C. is broadcasting in sound 37 programmes every week, plus another fifteen programmes in Scotland and Wales, making a total of 52 programmes weekly, compared to a television output of nine. There are registered for sound broadcasting 28,875 schools, which is over 70 per cent. of all the schools in the country, compared to the figure we have heard of 2,500 on television. The school audience for the very popular religious broadcasts in the Schools Broadcasting Service in sound is something of the order of 1½million, and for the popular programmes broadcast mainly in the range of primary schools is about 300,000, while the television school audience is of the order of 30,000. Though the latter total may grow, it cannot hope to compete with sound broadcasting for many years to come, owing to the simple fact of lack of time on the air.
The B.B.C. regards its school broadcasting, both television and sound, as one co-ordinated operation. Television and sound are different media and fulfil different purposes in schools. It is important that these should be co-ordinated and be able to offer a service to schools which provides a suitable programme through the best medium. In its school broadcasting programme the B.B.C. has two distinct advantages. In the first place, it is organised on a national basis, centrally planned, except for certain broadcasts in Scotland and Wales which demand regional planning and which in some cases are in the native language. This is an advantage which is not enjoyed at present by the commercial companies. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said sufficient on this subject for me not to go over the 1084 ground again, but it is a striking fact that the B.B.C. has a national programme while the commercial companies are not able to get agreement even among themselves.
In the second place, the B.B.C. has a special advantage in the existence of the Schools Broadcasting Council, which has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme. This Council consists of representatives of all major educational organisations in the United Kingdom—the Ministry of Education, the local education authorities and their officers, the professional organisations, the teachers and the training colleges. Indeed, this Council speaks for the educational world. It not only gives advice to the B.B.C., but it has executive power to formulate the educational policy of the B.B.C., to arrange year by year with the Corporation the scale of the service and to determine the general aims of the broadcast themselves. It is served by a secretariat of professional staff and employs a team of fifteen regionally based officers to ensure liaison with all parts of the United Kingdom. This method of organisation of schools broadcasts through the Schools Broadcasting Council was highly praised at the time of the inquiry by the Commission under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge; in fact, his Report draws special attention to the praise given by education authorities at the time. This has been reinforced to-day by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and I think I need say no more about it, except to commend it as a pattern of organisation for others to follow.
Better than any words of mine, the scale and thoroughness of the B.B.C. schools broadcasting can best be seen from the documents which are issued in conjunction with these broadcasts. There are two sorts. In the first place, there are illustrated pamphlets designed to supplement broadcasts, of which about 8 million copies, many in colour, are sold to schools every year, and secondly, leaflets for teachers which, besides giving advance information about broadcasts, also suggest ways of doing follow-up work after the broadcast. These pamphlets are carefully and beautifully prepared, and they are essential to 1085 programmes which are based on assisting the teacher rather than doing his work for him. I have placed in your Lordships' Library, in the care of the Librarian, a selection of these pamphlets for any noble Lords who may be interested. There are many more of them than there are noble Lords in the House at the present moment, but I hope that some of the other Members of your Lordships' House may care to look at them at another time, as they are indeed most impressive.
My noble friends, Lord Bessborough and Lord James of Rusholme mentioned the use of schools broadcasting overseas, particularly in Commonwealth countries. This has always been a particular care of the B.B.C. Overseas, as well as at home, it is still true that the educational impact of sound broadcasting is greater than that of television. Television facilities are limited, coverage is small and resources inadequate. We must welcome the Nuffield Foundation's initiative in convening a meeting in December to review the supply of material from British sources for television overseas. In the meantime, the B.B.C. has recently embarked on a large-scale co-operative venture with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to start a Federal Sound Schools Broadcasting Service in Nigeria. I think that this is a very significant step forward, which all of us should welcome. The B.B.C. is also in process of negotiating with the Colonial Office to ensure the continued development of its special schools transcription service for colonial and other undeveloped territories.
The B.B.C. provides a service of school broadcasting more complete and effective than any other in the world. But broadcasting is not the only modern means of communication available for teachers in schools. There are films, gramophone records, tapes and all the visual aids which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, mentioned. Each in its own way has something to offer; and most of these other methods, as opposed to broadcasting, have the advantage that they can be used in school over and over again at any time convenient to the teacher.
So far in this debate no one has mentioned gramophone records. At this point I must declare an interest, as I am a director of a small company which 1086 makes gramophone records. I have no direct connection, however, with E.M.I. Records, which is the only record-producing company with an education department, whose function is to act as an information centre and produce records for use in schools and colleges. I believe that the E.M.I. education department is doing an excellent job in keeping in close touch with teachers, training college lecturers and county music advisers, to ensure that they are giving the best possible service to schools and colleges. It is a sad reflection that while a commercial company such as E.M.I. allow a 10 per cent. discount on official educational orders, Her Majesty's Government still exact their full price in purchase tax.
From this brief survey of the field, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister who is to reply to two principal points. The first, and perhaps the most important, is the need to educate teachers themselves in the services which exist for their assistance. I feel that this could be done through the medium of the teachers' training colleges. Now that the courses at these colleges have been increased to three years, there should be time available for the full discussion of all modern means of communication, not only to acquaint the teachers in training with the material that exists in the different media, but also to give demonstrations, conduct experiments and discuss the relative advantages of each for the teaching of particular subjects and the best way of making the fullest use of them. I hope that the Ministry of Education will look closely into this point and perhaps try to encourage all teacher-training colleges to include this subject in their syllabus.
The second principal point is the need for proper equipment in the schools. This is an expensive item, of course, but I hope that local education authorities will appreciate the value of these modern services to teachers and will be generous in the provision of proper equipment for their schools. To take one example, it is now Important that schools which have a gramophone should have a three-speed gramophone if they are to make use of any of the modern records which are available to them. I had the privilege recently of visiting a very fine comprehensive school 1087 in the south of London, at Sedgehill, and I was enormously impressed by the vast range of facilities that exist there. But I have the impression that there is a tendency for new schools to be very properly equipped and for older schools to be neglected. This is unfortunate, because it is the older schools that have the greatest difficulties, both in obtaining the services of teachers and in providing such facilities as laboratories and workshops, which to a certain extent are supplemented by the provision of programmes through films, television, broadcasting and so forth. They have the greatest need for equipment, but I feel that sometimes it is the modern schools, with slightly less need, that are better equipped. I believe that there is a wide variety of facilities available to help both teacher and pupil, and I hope that all education authorities, both the Ministry and local education authorities, will do their best to make sure that the best use is made of the facilities available.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, my appeal to your Lordships is on a different line from that of other speakers who have made such eloquent pros and cons on the subject we are discussing. My appeal is that the machinery for the research and development both of sound and television broadcasting should be helped by all concerned. For some years I acted as Vice-Chairman of the B.B.C., and it was then that I first developed a deep and lasting admiration for the work which was being done in educational broadcasting. It was then, and ever since, that I have kept a keen look-out on the way these undertakings are shaping themselves both at home and abroad, and especially in the United States of America. Great work is being done in this field by really dedicated workers all over the world, but I firmly believe that this country still leads, and I am sure that we have the ability and the capacity to continue to do so.
I should like to quote a sentence in a different context that my noble friend Lord James of Rusholme used. I wish that everyone would bring discrimination to bear on judging the information we get about broadcasting and television in other countries. In a different context, 1088 I had an experience which taught me a good deal. I was in the United States of America discussing forms of teaching practical work, and I was asked to lecture on the medium through which certain of this work was being carried out. I explained this and that, and then I said that in certain circumstances it seemed a good idea to use playlets to demonstrate the "Do's" and "Dont's". Later, when these training officers on the other side of the Atlantic began to talk, they turned to me and said, with great kindness and indulgence, that they were very interested to know that in Great Britain psychodrama was also being used.
I think that we over-exaggerate the things we hear about what other people are doing, and do not know enough of what we are doing in our own country. For years I have kept up with my friends in the universities and the other groups of people in America interested in the development and strength of this new medium, which has come to stay and which obviously we must master in all its intricacies; and although we have heard much about what is done by them, I am absolutely convinced that our own work in Great Britain in this field, were it known, would be found to surpass that anywhere else.
The noble Lord who has just spoken said that last year 8 million pamphlets were sold. My information is that it was 9 million, and I prefer 9 million to 8 million so, if I may, I am going to take that figure. If it is so—that they were sold and not given away—surely that is evidence of something very fine indeed. I think that perfection in the preparation of material for teacher and pupil alike is something which is quite outstanding, and if your Lordships were to see the brochures and pamphlets to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare referred, I am sure you would find them of tremendous interest.
But I also think that if you have ever been privileged to watch, as many of us have, the infinite patience and trouble put into every single lesson that is sent out across space, then you have realised to the full the tremendous need for further research and investigation into the strength of the future of the media we are discussing. Many things could and should be done quite easily by Her Majesty's Government to help those who 1089 are actively engaged in pioneering the work. Red tape can be unknotted or, if necessary, cut with a minimum of difficulty; blocks in the flow of the work could be removed by slight attention to detail; helpful contacts and quick results could be ensured by the real and ready co-operation of all concerned. I say these things because in my day of responsibility I have been staggered by the unbelievable delays and complications which have arisen from decisions taken In all good faith at the start, but which in time have made barriers and blocks for subsequent administration.
If, as a nation, we are to continue to have the greatest influence on those who look to us for a load in these things, it is of paramount importance that the men and women doing the work should be assured, in deed as well as the constantly promised word, that Her Majesty's Government are equally interested in the achievement and that this interest is real and practical; that difficulties can be minimised and obstacles really, and not just vaguely, tackled. If Her Majesty's Government were to take a real interest in these educational developments they would be rewarded by results far beyond their own or anyone else's rosiest dreams.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, we are much indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for initiating this debate. For reasons which he has explained he has concentrated on television, but, like the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, I propose to take advantage of the widening of the scope of the Motion to talk chiefly about sound broadcasting. But it is fair to say that, even in the sphere of television, in point of volume the B.B.C. now still do more than the programme companies combined—I think the figure is about twenty periods a week compared with about twelve. Then again, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, the B.B.C. have the advantage of national coverage, whereas the programme companies' coverage is regional.
But there is another and, I think, more important distinction where the B.B.C. have the advantage. Television for the B.B.C. is only a part, and a small part, of their programme of broadcasting for schools. The main body is still made up of sound programmes: 40 periods a 1090 week, not counting special programmes for Scotland and Wales, as against about 20. They do twice as much on sound as on television. As has been said, a total of about 30,000 schools are registered for sound, as against 2,500 or so for television. It is important to note that the number registered for sound has increased in the last year. It is fashionable these days to say that sound broadcasting is a dying medium; that sound is on the way out, and that television is on the way in. I am sure your Lordships will have seen some interesting correspondence in The Times recently, where a strong case was made in a letter for the importance of sound broadcasting; and the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, pointed oat one sphere where sound is of the highest importance —namely, as a service for the blind.
There are good reasons for thinking that sound has a future. It is estimated that in the summer of 1960 (I have these figures from the B.B.C.) an average of 23 million people turned to sound radio for some purpose or another in the course of a day. The maximum audience for sound is about 11 million between noon and 2 p.m. on Sundays. For some reason that is the peak hour for sound listening. Between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. daily, there is an average of about 2 million, so there is still a wide demand for sound broadcasting in the country as a whole.
Apart from that general consideration, there are grounds for saying that for school broadcasting as a special service, sound can be, though not necessarily always is, a better medium than television. As to this, one can only take the best advice one can get. Take music, for example. Except for certain special purposes, such as the recognition of the character, rôole and method of playing of separate instruments, vision may be a distraction rather than a help. In point of fact, in the B.B.C. Schools programmes there is over twenty times as much music broadcast on sound as on television. That seems to me to show practical proof of this contention. Then take religious services. Here the advice which the B.B.C. receive is quite clear. A large congregation in a school hall cannot see a screen, and in any event vision tends to distract from the solemnity and impact of the words. Take again the case where there is a serious 1091 exposition of a theme, for example to sixth forms—an important subject dealt with in a serious way. Sound has, I am told, a great advantage where it is a matter of abstract thought appealing to the reason. The screen rather stands in the way. It seems to be a matter of psychological fact that schoolchildren can tolerate up to 20 minutes of talk on sound, but are inclined to become restive, even sixth formers, after two minutes of talk on television. On television they hanker after more pictures. They resist the talk. Their minds are set upon a different kind of objective.
Where, on the other hand—and this is a different situation—the screen has an advantage over the microphone, is in the special case where what is important is not merely the voice of the speaker, but the whole personality of the speaker, and the impact it makes on the viewer or listener. Even apart from logical exposition there are other spheres where word pictures are simpler to produce, and perhaps more effective as a medium, than something one can see on a screen. Take the sweep and drama of history. Here what is appealed to is the imagination and the dramatic sense of the listener. With a short talk before the programme, a few names and simple diagrams on a blackboard, the scene is set and the microphone makes its effect. Then again, there is the straight presentation of works of literature, prose and poetry. These do not need the adventitious aid of the screen to make their effect. Here are spheres where words are supereme—literature, poetry or prose.
Finally, modern languages. Here the advantages of the screen seem to be very dubious indeed. Again, it is the sound of words that matters. In practice, the B.B.C. still have no modern language programmes on television, though they tell me that they are proposing one as an experiment in the near future. Of course, as some noble Lords have said, there are spheres where television may be a better medium than sound for school broadcasting. This is generally held to be the case in some aspects of science. It may be that in science there is a special role for television. In current affairs also, recent history, a situation can be brought to life much more 1092 easily than by the microphone, particularly if it is possible to draw on filmed records, which exist for recent years but do not exist for the earlier years of our history.
Then there are such things as what one might call the informative programmes with dramatised inserts, like the current B.B.C. television programme for school-leavers in secondary modern schools. I have in mind a programme called "First Years at Work." I attended a rehearsal of this programme, and it is to show boys about to leave school how they can make the best of themselves at an interview when they present themselves for employment. Here the impact of the screen is very powerful indeed. Here is a case where there is an advantage in television.
Now a few general remarks. It has been said, and rightly, that the B.B.C. operations have a nation-wide range, as is proved by the fact that 90 per cent. of all the primary schools in the country, and 60 per cent. of the grammar schools, are registered for broadcasting, sound and television. The great virtue of B.B.C. programmes is that they are under unified direction, both sound and television. There is a Schools Broadcasting Department under a single head, the Head of Educational Broadcasting. It presents an integrated programme, from programmes designed for the youngest children aged five or six, or even younger, like a programme called "Music and Movement", to advanced programmes for sixth forms.
It is also important to note that school broadcasting programmes, whether sound or television, do not take the place of the teacher. Several speakers have emphasised this point, and quite rightly. This is just as true of I.T.V. as it is of the B.B.C. In the United States, it is otherwise. There there is a wide programme of direct teaching supported by the Ford Foundation and, according to a recent Report presented to the O.E.E.C., it does not appear that those programmes are always of a very high standard. They have considerable shortcomings. But here in this country there is as yet no direct teaching. Programmes are designed to supplement the teacher's own efforts and help him do his job. They can do this sometimes by supplying a degree of specialisation which he himself 1093 does not possess. In a small school the teacher may not have this kind of knowledge. They can also bring into currency matters which have not yet got into the text books at all, things like the latest developments of science. Aids to this supplementary work are the notes for teachers to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and others have referred. These notes for teachers are quite remarkable. Those who produce the programmes and organise the programmes for teachers themselves produce these notes which go to the teachers to be read and commented upon and used in parallel with the actual broadcasts themselves. They are geared to the programmes.
There is this further important point. It is the claim of the B.B.C.—and I think it is probably a well-founded claim—that they have a closer and more intimate contact with their audiences in the sphere of school broadcasting than any other organisation in the world. The noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, has emphasised this point. The whole of their operations in school broadcasting are subject to the suggestion, the initiative and the scrutiny, and if need be the veto, of the Schools Broadcasting Council, to which both the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, have referred. That Council is composed of representatives of the Ministry of Education, of local education authorities and a whole wide range of professional educational associations. The Council has a staff of about 60 people in London and the provinces; and, side by side with this, the B.B.C. themselves have their own education officers and their own panels of teachers and their own contacts with individual schools.
The B.B.C. is one. The school broadcasting services do not stand alone. They are only part of the whole complex of educational and public service work of the B.B.C., and it is important to note that all the educational work, properly so-called, of the B.B.C., not simply school broadcasting, is under the direction of the Head of Schools Broadcasting. In this wider field the purpose of the B.B.C. is to help to create an informed society, to inculcate knowledge of the nature of the physical world, an idea of the political and industrial situation, and enjoyment of our cultural traditions. So 1094 that if they will, if they can, children who have learned to value school broadcasts, both sound and T.V., when they are at school, will find some analogous programmes in the Home Service and in Network Three, as well as on television.
One need only mention here that truly magnificent and majestic series of fifteen television broadcasts of Shakespeare's historical plays called "The Age of Kings". Later, when they get older, if they can and if they will, these children will have the Third Programme, the like of which does not exist anywhere else in the world. If they have the will, and want to follow up from their school broadcasts to analogous items in other broadcasts, if they exercise this discrimination, they will be swimming against the stream of triviality which fills so many of the hours of our programmes. In this they will have to be taught, and one of the things they might be taught at school is to look for proper programmes later on, when they have left school. The B.B.C., as we all know, has a great record of achievement. It is an institution unique in the world, and one of its greatest achievements is its school broadcasting service, in sound as well as in television. It is hoped that everything will be done in the future to enable this great service to be developed and expanded along sound and well-tried lines.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, has indeed initiated an important debate today, even if one considers only the calibre of the speakers who have spoken so far. The Motion before us is the use of modern means of communication in education. The question, as I see it, is, to what extent should those means of communication be applied and how should they be applied? It would seem so far that to-day's debate has been mainly concerned with the media of television and sound broadcasts—in other words, video and audio broadcasts—and also with the question of the application of visual aids, which were so eloquently gone into by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. The question of records was also gone into by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare.
It is my intention to concentrate my remarks solely on the principle of closed circuit television. Whilst considering this question, I am very conscious of a 1095 few words which were printed in a Report which was produced by the O.E.E.C. in July, 1960. The Report, as your Lordships know, has the title, Teaching Through Television. Those words are:The real problem is still how to make the best use of this medium.In this context the medium referred to is the closed circuit television method. The reason Why I wish to concentrate on that aspect of television in education is that it has been authoritatively stated that closed circuit television would seem to be highly suitable for the teaching of science. It is a method which is fairly commonly used in industry. It has become a part of medical teaching. It is used abroad for illustration purposes in the teaching of physics and chemistry. But in this country, as far as I can gather, it has been used in Landon only at the Northern Polytechnic, purely to demonstrate experiments carried out in a none too accessible laboratory, and that only for a few minutes at a time and, I believe, only five or six times throughout the year.
In France an experiment in the closed circuit principle has been carried out at the Lycée de Sèvres which is a secondary school. The purpose of this experiment was to see whether programmes could be worked out which would directly reinforce the teaching now being given in the lycées—in other words, the French national schools—taking into consideration the problem of newly qualified or inadequately trained teachers. The problem is no doubt an easier one across the Channel, particularly in France, as stressed by the noble Earl who initiated this Motion, due to the fact that it has a standardised curricula. However, I feel, like the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, that the 1961 Spring Term experiment which is to be undertaken by the Middlesex Education Authority should be carefully watched by other local education authorities.
I understand that the purpose of this experiment is to see whether the expert teaching of a grammar school master can be of use to classes in a less well equipped secondary school. Although I am well aware that this country may not suffer from the acute shortage of qualified teachers that the United States is suffering from, I feel I am correct in saying 1096 that there is a shortage of qualified teachers in science in this country. It is therefore in the realm of such teaching that I feel that much can be achieved, provided the educational authorities are willing to co-operate on the question of the application of the closed circuit principle of television. This would cause no disturbance to the national network of television schools' broadcasts, and I am advised that normal television sets can easily be adapted to take in closed circuit programmes.
Here I think it is interesting to remember some words in the Report of the O.E.C.C. to which I referred earlier, on the importance of considering the emotional attitude of pupils towards education by television, and the psychological and physiological problems, such as fatigue, receptiveness and self-discipline, which may arise. I should like to stress here that I am particularly glad that in this country there has been no great or substantial demand for direct teaching by television, and that so far, as I believe other noble Lords have mentioned, the services provided by the B.B.C. and Associated Rediffusion have been solely of a type designed to supplement and enrich the work of the classroom teachers—in other words, they have been complementary to the usual curriculum. However, in the field of science teaching I feel that possibly a more direct approach could be made and that complete courses could be provided. These could be centrally produced, possibly under the auspices of the Ministry of Education or local education authorities. In that way the material produced could be transmitted over various closed circuit systems.
The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, mentioned Hagerstown in Maryland, which caters for 92 per cent. of the children of the County of Washington by providing part of their education. I would add that I am against the indiscriminate development of direct television education because, like many noble Lords here, I believe that the personal contact between the teacher and the pupil is highly important. I believe in the importance of the presence of a teacher and the influence that a teacher can have upon a pupil. I am greatly in favour, too, of the principle, which is I 1097 think generally recognised in this country, that there should be smaller classes and not classes with an increasingly large attendance, which makes personal con tact even more difficult. But in certain instances a case can be made out for direct teaching by television.
To get the best out of educational television I feel that a study should be made to separate the subjects better suited to propagation over the national system of broadcasting, like that of the B.B.C. or the Independent Television Authority, from the type of subjects which would better be suited for closed circuit viewing. Provided, too, that there was a reasonable chance of unanimity, I feel that a study could be made into which would be the most suitable subjects, first, for direct instruction and, secondly, for enrichment only purposes.
I should like to refer to an article which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, referred to earlier on and which I think bears me out on this question of whether or not insufficient thought may have gone into the question of appropriate subjects. This is an article written by Richard Hickman, and it says:The programmes have reached a surprisingly high level, but in my view the resources have not always been used for the best subjects and the most appropriate age groups.In view of the cost of specialised equipment, the shortage of teachers (particularly in science) and the exiguity of certain laboratories, for instance, I feel that there is a need for extending the teaching of science by the medium of television.
Part II of the 1959–60 Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy (Cmd. 1167), and in particular paragraph 48, states that extensive studies on the content of school science courses are in progress in the United States under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. I understand that the Ministry of Education are in contact with this body to follow developments. I should therefore like to ask the noble Lord who will be replying for Her Majesty's Government whether he has any information as to the suitability of these science courses for use in this country, particularly via the medium of television. Up till now, there have been 47 of what may be termed "community stations" in the 1098 United States—I believe that figure is correct.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I am grateful to the noble Earl for correcting me. These are low-power local or closed circuit stations. In conclusion, may I say that I hope that Her Majesty's Government will seriously consider the feasibility of encouraging the provision of closed circuits—in other words, local television broadcasts—for educational purposes, whether by means of micro-wave beamed transmissions, as in the case of the Middlesex Education Authority scheme, or wired transmissions for short distances, or, finally, localised broadcasts covering a number of schools in a particular area.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, we have had a great wealth of ideas given to us this afternoon, and as a layman I confess I am a little confused, having listened to the views of the noble Earl, who is a master on the actual machinery, and then to such as the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, who is a master from the point of view of morality and ethics, and has great experience inside schools. I am comforted by the reflection that a great economist, Lord Keynes, probably thinking particularly of the economic system, said that all systems confine the subject to the character of the men and the manners of the men who have to manipulate them. I believe that that is true of economics, politics and education. I feel that that is a comfort when one hears, as we have heard this evening, the merits and defects of television, sound, gramophones and every kind of media played up with great conviction either way.
While I was listening to speakers I amused myself by drawing up a kind of forward football line of views. I find that the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, is outside left; the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is centre forward; the noble Earl. Lord Bessborough, is outside right, with the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, perhaps, as referee and possibly myself as inside right. I remember my grandfather years ago used to entertain his grandchildren home 1099 for the holidays with a toy of wonderment as it was then—the magic lantern. It did not matter whether the slides were the equivalent of the Mickey Mouse of to-day or his own coloured photographs of Lhasa in Tibet; we used to sit there absolutely fascinated by the screen. To-day, children of this modern scientific age are more sophisticated, and maybe there is no magic attached to television; but, even so, I cannot help thinking there is novelty and excitement in the background; and it seems to me that there is the teacher's great opportunity. In fact, my ideas, such as they are, are all for championing television and an extension of television. I can put the ideas which come to me only from knowing, as we all know, the increased part that television obviously plays in the national life.
I have been wondering about the extremely interesting point raised by the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme—the contrast between school viewing for the child and home viewing. I expect many of us have had the experience of going round to see friends in the evening and discovering that the whole evening is to be monopolised by a wretched child who is glued to the television screen. One greets the child with studied cheerfulness, and he takes not the slightest notice; and one is left with gloomy thoughts on the manners of the modern generation. If television in school is in any way to take the child away from television in the home, then I am all for more viewing at school.
Listening to the noble Lord speaking on the American experience, I gathered that we have not in any way approached the degree of integration as between the television studio and the classroom that they have achieved in the United States. Here I am not thinking of the size and scope of the American set-up so much as the co-operation between the teacher in the classroom and the teacher on the screen. It seems to me that if we could achieve such a degree of centralisation that not only local educational officers but the actual school teacher could play his part in consulting and planning with the teacher in the studio—which seems to me the consummation of the ideas of the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge—then we should surely have 1100 made the optimum impact on the child, and that impact must be of the highest standard attainable.
Such liaison between these two streams of instructions sounds at first too good to be true, but having regard to what they are attempting in America which has been confirmed by the noble Earl—and there it has been done with the help of the Ford Foundation—one realises that such closely integrated team work is possible. I would suggest, therefore, that we aim at that as our standard—and nothing less than that. But in admiring the American methods I would again underline what many of your Lordships have referred to: this great danger. We have the impression that the Americans are regarding television as a means to help them out of their problem of a shortage of teachers, and there is a tendency over there to regard television as the substitute for the teacher. Indeed, I believe they have produced statistics to show that children taught by television can attain a higher percentage of success in examinations than those taught by normal methods. For us this is a danger. It may be that if the teacher is a very poor specimen there is some advantage in supplementing him by television: but, of course, the real answer is to aim at better teaching rather than to regard television as a remedy in itself.
I can recall at school a certain master who was discovered by the headmaster in the middle of a class, buried under a pyramid of struggling boys. The headmaster's protest was answered by a still small voice from under the confusion saying: "Leave me and my system alone". I have told that story merely to indicate that in this country school is going to be, always has been and always will be, something more than merely the absorbing of knowledge; and that "something more" is provided by thousands of teachers, a fine community, conscious of their responsibility for building up the national life; and it would be quite impossible to imagine that they should ever be replaced by television.
When we turn from the domestic situation to the prospects abroad—and I am thinking particularly of colonial territories where we still have influence and control—I feel that we must stick 1101 closely to that principle. I would submit that at a forthcoming meeting to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has referred, sponsored by the Colonial Office and to be convened by the Nuffield Foundation, the background should be to create abroad television services that can, with the passing of time, be regarded as completely indigenous and able to stand on their own feet. I do not, of course, refer to the supply of equipment or to the availability of technical know-how". I do refer to the material that appears on the screen; in other words, to the teachers in the class room and the teacher in the television studio.
May I put it in another way? I regard it as no service whatsoever to a young emerging country to have their young generation brought up in any sense of disloyalty to their own environment; and in effect I would simply ask for the same principles that we recognise in political development to be observed in the field of education so far as television or anything else is concerned. If I may quote an example typical of the opportunities, I would cite the case of Aden, which I see does not figure in this long list in the B.B.C. notes as yet having a television service or being due for one in the near future; but undoubtedly it will have one one day. When I last visited Aden I was very much impressed by the young officer of the Oversea Service who, having done a course with the B.B.C., was busily building up a sound-radio service based entirely on the availability and training of local talent. In other words, Aden was to be their main interest —not the United Arab Republic, not the Yemen, not even Whitehall. Again I would say, what is right in the political and social fields must also be right in the educational field.
Even if the local teacher is a little out of his depth at first in trying to master the mysteries of television as an aid to education, let him struggle on, let him make his own mistakes. In the long run lie will find the right answer for his school, even though the standard may not quite measure up to the standard in a secondary modern school in Britain. It is in this way that I see the interests of such a territory as Aden and the interests of Britain, and their mutual interests, far better served than by attempting to impose in one breath all 1102 the learning and blessings of our own careful experience.
In the particular case of Aden, I think we accept that the Aden Government cannot afford television either for education or for entertainment; they have other priority demands on their limited resources and on their share of Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. I believe that this particular position is being discussed as between the Colonial Office and an independent company, Associated Television. If television, shall we say for example, in Aden, is to be run by an independent company—and in my view this is the practical answer—it is obvious that politics can form no part of the curriculum; and that I regard as an advantage. Because the mere fact that a good local service will be available will divert the Adenese, the Aden public, from less desirable sources of entertainment, and education is bound to benefit just as much as any other kind of viewing in this way. Bringing politics into the classroom has bedevilled development in many countries in the East; and though it is tempting in such a country as Aden to show up the propaganda of the enemy for what it is worth, I think in the long run it must pay to educate children and adults to believe in themselves rather than disbelieve in others.
Finally, my Lords, there is one other feature that I think should require attention at this Conference to be called by the Colonial Office, and I refer to adult education. Here, I am convinced that television can make a very firm impact as an educational medium on adults in emerging countries. When I was last in Kuwait, I was told that long before a Kuwait youth could master the three "Rs," he could draw a perfectly accurate silhouette of a Cadillac car. To-day the boys and girls of Kuwait can obtain mastery of their three "Rs" in schools costing something like £300,000, and in those circumstances one imagines television will equally be abundantly available. But what of the parent? While the child has this ample opportunity to supplement his inclination to draw streamlined limousines and can get something far more substantial now, the parents, who could never even draw a silhouette, have stood still.
1103 Education of the backward adult in the backward country is a vast subject; and I refer to backwardness in the perfectly normal sense of recognising stages in developing the knowledge necessary for the citizen to take his place in the modern State. All of us can think of the child, all over Asia and the Middle East, who is absolutely avid for education. And anyone who has seen the children sitting down under the large tree in the centre of the village by the village pond on a hot afternoon in India will realise exactly what I mean. But not so the parent. How can he be enticed to learn and to know? I just do not pretend to know the answer. I merely put forward this question in the hope and belief that those who are in charge of these matters will regard it as of priority importance to search for the remedy; and I cannot help but believe that television, which, after all, has some sort of a primitive attraction, is the right medium for this particular problem. The preacher in Ecclesiasticus told us:Of making books there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh.I cannot help feeling that had television been available in his time he would not have taken quite such a gloomy view, and I think this is a lesson that we can apply with those in a modern world who merely, as I see it, through the exigencies of climate and geography have been left behind in this constant quest for knowledge.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I am quite sure that the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, will be very satisfied with the standard of debate this evening. I think that the House will also be grateful to my noble friend Lord Shackleton, who, when speaking immediately after the noble Earl, widened the debate away from the question of television and its part in education. For the modern means of showing and bringing forth the truth lie in many fields: in the cinema, in sound radio, in the small film projector. There are many ways in which science has brought its aid to the ordinary teacher.
Last week I was attending an international conference in Paris, and time and time again the motto of the British 1104 Broadcasting Corporation kept going through my mind. I could not remember exactly what the words were, but I believe they are:Nation shall speak peace unto nation".The reason why these words were very much in my mind was that in this conference, time after time, I heard the words "psychological warfare" —psychological warfare beamed not to the Soviet Union but to what we call the uncommitted nations. We know that psychological warfare is a very dangerous weapon. We saw it used by the Germans during the war, and we saw how it boomeranged upon them. Undoubtedly we are going to face a Soviet propaganda effort right through the uncommitted countries. But we shall not reply to that by propaganda; we shall achieve something only by showing clearly the truth. And education is truth. How do we get education and the truth to these millions of people in Africa and in India? Undoubtedly, sound radio, the British Broadcasting Corporation for this country, is the best method.
I spoke on this subject in a foreign affairs debate the other day, and I drew the Government's attention to the number of hours that we were now using to put the British side to these uncommitted countries. The number of hours continues to fall. The B.B.C. are very short of funds, and if they are to extend what I believe are educational services, they will require more funds. Therefore we must look to the Government to make these funds available. Because, although we are beaming to these countries more hours of transmission than we do in our own services in this country, they are spread over many, many languages; and languages that are going into certain parts of Africa occupy only one or two hours a week. Great efforts have to be made. My Lords, I am not departing from the theme of this debate, because this service which I would ask the Government to assist should be of an educational value —not a propaganda value, but an educational value. It should be directed, in the first case, not to the youngsters, but to the more adult population. It should be on a broad educational basis. My Lords, I do ask the Government, on this matter, because it is vital, to provide more finance for the B.B.C. to perform their important task.
1105 Now, my Lords, I come back to the main theme of this debate—and that, of course, is the part of television and sound radio, acting as an ancillary in our schools. Personally, I am far from convinced that television has any useful part to play in school. It has not the personal touch, the personal qualities of the teacher; and I do not think that the Government should listen too carefully to the appeals that were made by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for an increase in transmission hours on the excuse that it is for education.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
I think it would be better to say "on condition" that they were for education, not as an excuse.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Very well, I will accept that; "on condition". My Lords, I listened to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme. I thought that his speech was one that should be very carefully considered by the Government, because what is the good of the teachers in our schools trying to teach the children a moral side to their lives when they come home in the evening, night after night, to be bombarded with the baser sides of life? I often wonder, when my children look at television in the evening, just what sort of world they think they are entering. What sort of world is it? A world of murder, of theft? No, my Lords. I think that the television service—particularly, I must say, the I.T.V. —has done a very grave disservice to our youngsters and to the country. It is not as though they have not the funds available. The programme-producing companies are making vast fortunes. It is not as though they have not the money to provide a better type of programme. They provide this type of programme because it sells advertising space.
I accept that advertising must have some part in our life, but I think it is quite wrong that our children should be bombarded with commercial advertising and its supporting programmes as they are to-day. Therefore, I question whether it is right for the Government to allow commercial programmes to enter our schools to-day. I wonder why the commercial programme contractors wish to go into the schools. Why do they? I think it is not entirely a question of 1106 their wanting to take part in the educational programmes of the schools and of our country: it is entirely commercial. They want to create in the minds of the youngsters the habit of looking at commercial programmes; and, no doubt, the commercial companies are finding this good business. Admittedly they give these programmes free, in the sense that they do not have advertising programmes before, after or in the middle of their school programmes, but they get compensating advertising time in the evening because of these school programmes, and I wondered, when the appeal was made for longer hours for school programmes, whether this was a means, an excuse, by which longer advertising periods were obtained at the peak hours in the evening. My Lords, I ask the Government to stand very firm in this matter; not to allow any increase in time for television broadcasting to the schools unless it is through their own authority—an authority which, over the years, has acted with the greatest of responsibility to all its listeners—because it is in our young that we have our heritage, and we must guard them against all pollution.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, I feel that I must begin by apologising to your Lordships for the fact that it is I who am replying to this debate tonight and not a more important member of Her Majesty's Government, and I confess that I was somewhat shaken when I knew that the task was going to fall to me. I was even more appalled when I saw the distinguished names upon the provisional list of speakers. And having listened carefully to all the speeches that have been made in this House this evening, I feel that I was right in being rather appalled at my task. I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Birdwood for having, at the beginning of his quite fascinating speech, if I may say so, placed in their correct positions on the football field some of the speakers in the debate this afternoon. Because I felt that he was telling me, although not intentionally, that I had a pretty tricky task in trying to tie up the threads of this debate.
My Lords I have not been a Member Of your Lordships' House for very long, but I have been here long enough to 1107 know that every speaker in this debate to-day carries great weight in the counsels of your Lordships' House. Moreover, several of the speakers know so much about education and matters related to the training of the young that I feel they have probably forgotten much more about those matters than I ever learned; and all this adds to my awareness of my own inadequacy. However, I have done my best to prepare myself for this debate, and I have studied quite a lot of literature in one form and another.
On Monday of last week, when, your Lordships may remember, this House was not sitting, I took the opportunity of watching two schools broadcasts which had been prepared by Associated Rediffusion, and I should like to refer to them for a moment, because they bear out, I think, what I believe to be a balanced view, certainly the view of Her Majesty's Government, and I think the view of many of your Lordships who have spoken to-day—namely, that these school television broadcasts, whether they are put out by the B.B.C. or by the independent companies, are of high quality and of great integrity, even though they range from being educational in what one might say is more or less an academic sense to being educational in the broadest sense of simply disseminating facts and information about life.
The two programmes were these. The first I wish to mention was one in the series of programmes known as "The Story of Medicine", and this one was concerned with the eighteenth century. It explained how modern methods of diagnosis began to be used and how it was realised that post-mortems were very valuable for the advance of medicine. I am bound to tell your Lordships that from this broadcast I learned a great deal which I did not know before. The other programme was one in the series known as "The Farming Year", and it was concerned with poultry-keeping. There was certainly nothing academic about this programme, but it seemed to me to contain useful information and also facts which would, I thought, play a part in helping children who live in the towns to understand more about the way of life in the country. I was very 1108 interested to notice an article in this week's T.V. Times, to which several noble Lords have referred, by Mr. Richard Hickman, Head of the Education Department of the National Union of Teachers. He praises this series of programmes known as "The Farming Year" as having stimulated interest in the activities of the countryside. I was also pleased to see this programme, because the compére—or "anchor man", as I believe he is known professionally in the trade—was an old friend of mine, Mr. Denys Bullard, who is a farmer of great experience and now the Member of Parliament for King's Lynn.
But there is one minor criticism about this programme that I should like to make. It was explained that after a lot of chicks are born in the hatchery, it is very necessary to determine the sex of chicks as quickly as possible. We were told that if you cross a Rhode Island Red with a White Leghorn, the sex of the chicks can always be determined perfectly easily by their colour; and that was perfectly apparent on the screen. But then it was explained that you could not do that when you did not cross the birds. We were shown a picture of an elegant young woman in a white coat, sitting at a table with a tray of chicks in front of her and two trays on either side. She deftly picked up chicks, examined them for a second or two under a bright light, and then placed them delicately into the tray on her right-hand side or the tray on her left-hand side. We were told that this was an extremely difficult thing to do, that it was based on a process which was perfected in Japan, and that the young woman was paid £30 a week for doing it.
My Lords, I wanted to know something, about that process after that buildup, but we were told nothing about the process, what she was doing or how she was doing it. It may have been excluded for reasons of delicacy; it may have been excluded in order to protect a valuable commercial asset, I do not know. But my reflection was this: that it is the purpose of education to disseminate education, not to conceal it; and that if it was not possible to explain something of the theory practised by this woman who earned so much money, it might have been wiser to exclude that part of 1109 the programme altogether. But that is, as I say, only a mild comment.
In general, my Lords, may I say at once that Her Majesty's Government have watched this television experiment with interest and with goodwill, and in the view of the Government it is desirable that more schools should use these broadcasts. We can already see enough to justify the effort and expenditure which has already been put into these broadcasts, and the further effort and expenditure which will be needed in the future if there is to be effective development of them. The Government certainly believe that there is scope for development, provided that it is organised and co-ordinated. The need for co-ordination has been stressed by, among others, my noble friend Lord Aberdare; and the noble Earl in opening the debate made the interesting suggestion that there should be some co-ordinating body in this country, as there is in the United States of America.
Having said that, may I go on to say that there are three general points which I must make about the position of my right honourable friend the Minister of Education in relation to the use of both sound and television broadcasting in schools in England and Wales. The first is that my right honourable friend has no control over what is taught in schools or how it is taught. That is an absolutely basic principle of education in this country. Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, in the course of their visits to the schools, advise teachers. They organise courses for teachers, and the Ministry publishes pamphlets on such subjects as, for example, the teaching of mathematics and history. But teachers may use as they choose what is offered to them in the way of ideas or advice by the Minister; or they may not use it at all. Teaching is in the hands of the teachers, and, there is no intention of departing from this tradition.
Secondly, since the introduction of the system of general grants to local authorities in April, 1959, my right honourable friend exercises no direct financial control over the purchase of television sets or other equipment for schools by local education authorities. Local education authorities are free to supply their schools with television sets on whatever scale they regard as necessary or desir- 1110 able. Thirdly, there is no question of meeting the present shortage of teachers by attempting to treat broadcasts as a substitute for teachers. The shortage of teachers will be met by the training of an adequate supply in teacher-training colleges and universities, and the Government plan to provide for this.
Statistics about the numbers of schools using school television programmes were not collected by my right honourable friend. But the most recent figures supplied by the B.B.C. and Associated-Rediffusion show that about 2,500 schools are registered by the B.B.C. to use their broadcasts, over 1,500 are registered with the A.R.D., and there are 30,000 maintained schools in England and Wales altogether. I do not think that any figures substantially different from these have been put forward in this debate. It would seem to Her Majesty's. Government that school television programmes may develop in two ways. More schools may be provided with sets and use programmes to a greater extent, and the producers may provide more programmes. So far as I can judge, present production is ahead of use, and local education authorities and schools are not demanding more programmes. But it is possible that one of the effects of this debate may be to increase the demand.
A little later on, I should like to discuss the value of these school broadcasts, something in which many noble Lords are deeply interested, but may I first deal with some of the other points which have been raised? First of all, the use of television for educational purposes in undeveloped countries is a matter on which my noble friend Lord Bessborough expressed his interest, as did the noble Lords, Lord Shackleton, Lord James of Rusholme and Lord Shepherd. In the colonial territories, there are actual television services only in Bermuda and Hong Kong. Television is likely to start soon in Ghana, Kenya and Singapore. The under-developed countries in the independent Commonwealth in which there are television services are Western Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and Cyprus. An experimental service is in operation in India. There are plans for television in Ghana and the Federation of Malaya, and the Federal Government of Nigeria and 1111 the Government of Northern Nigeria are also planning for television.
Colonial Governments and the Colonial Office are very much alive to the potential use of television as an educational medium. In Western Nigeria, the first television service to operate in tropical Africa, the Colonial Development and Welfare Scheme provided the services of an educational and television organiser, who was seconded by Associated-Rediffusion. When the secondment expired, another expert was provided, this time by the United States, under an International Co-operation Assistance grant.
In the Ashley Report on post-school certificates and higher education in Nigeria there are specific recommendations on the use of new education techniques, including sound radio and television. The Report said that teaching through the medium of television is in its infancy, and that it seems possible that, where television sets can be installed in training colleges, television can be useful in overcoming the shortage of trained teachers. There are three limiting factors. The first is that a television transmitter has a limited range and it will be many years before the underdeveloped countries can afford television coverage. The second, as your Lordships will appreciate, is that television receivers are relatively expensive and depend upon mains electricity supply. No wholly successful and economic battery-operated set, suitable for tropical conditions and selling cheaply, has been put on the market so far. Though mains electricity is steadily being developed, it will be many years before every small town and village will be on the grid. As the Ashley Committee said, the use of television is in its infancy and in the under-developed tropical territories even the equipment studies have hardly begun. There is a shortage of suitable material; firm information about techniques is lacking and there is a need to build up a body of knowledge and experience.
A little more is known about the use of television for teaching English. Various countries have experimented with English language teaching, and the British Council has been assisting in experiments in Teheran with open-circuit television, 1112 and in the Western Region of Nigeria with closed-circuit television. But further experiment is required. The Government warmly welcome the initiative of the Nuffield Foundation in convening a meeting, which is to be held in December, of the principal interests involved, to discuss various questions relating to the supply to television stations overseas of material from British sources which is broadly educational and cultural, particularly for use in under-developed countries. The Government Departments, the B.B.C. and the Central Office of Information will all participate in this meeting, and Her Majesty's Government will be most interested to study the results, and so, I feel sure, will all those who have any part to play in the future use of television as an educational and cultural medium overseas.
My noble friend Lord Bessborough and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, referred to the possibility of the extension of the hours of viewing to enable adult educational programmes to be shown, or more school broadcasts. The hours during which the B.B.C. and I.T.A. may broadcast are prescribed by my right honourable friend the Postmaster General, and basically the rules provide that broadcasting shall not exceed 50 hours a week and eight hours of any one day. Certain broadcasts, including school broadcasts, are not taken into account for the purpose of assessing the maximum number of hours of broadcasting. The I.T.A. are seeking to increase their basic hours by 21 a week and would like an immediate increase of 3½ hours weekly.
In March of this year, the I.T.A. also sought my right honourable friend's permission to add the following three further types of broadcast to the categories of broadcasts which do not count against basic hours—first, adult educational programmes forming part of a series of instructional programmes on a defined course prepared in association with an educational organisation; secondly, repeats of schools broadcasts made outside school hours for educational purposes; and thirdly, programmes consisting of reports of and comments on recent Parliamentary proceedings. Those applications are now being considered by Her Majesty's Government, and I think it likely that their conclusions will be announced before very long. I am sure 1113 that Her Majesty's Government will be glad of the opinions which have been expressed on this subject in this debate.
In his speech, my noble friend Lord Bessborough referred to what has been happening in the United States in the last few years. Certainly what has been happening there is extremely interesting, but I feel sure that he will agree that conditions there are very different from those in this country. For instance, school broadcasts there reflect the fact that there is a shortage of schools and teachers and that there has been a sharp increase in the number of pupils. Moreover, educational television in the United States is nearly always left under the control of the director and concentrates mainly on direct teaching, which is not favoured by educationalists here: nor is it favoured, I think, by most of the noble Lords who have spoken to-day. The Ford Foundation has been conducting experiments to determine whether it is possible to teach large classes of teachers by television and at the same time to upgrade the quality of education. It is not surprising, therefore, that many American teachers fear that television will degrade their status and lead in the end to a reduction in their numbers. That is not a development which we should wish to see in this country.
My noble friend Lord Bessborough referred to the operation of university television stations in America and suggested that it would be valuable if similar stations were started in this country; and I think my noble friend Lord Merrivale was interested in this subject, too. I would suggest that the initiative over this matter must come mainly from the universities themselves and that it is not a matter for the Government to dictate to them. But universities seem to be showing some interest, and that is evidenced by the University of Leeds Development Plan to which my noble friend Lord Bessborough referred. In addition, it may well be that the Pilkington Committee on the Future of Sound and Television Broadcasting will express opinions on the merits of university television stations; their terms of reference are certainly wide enough to enable them to do that if they so wish.
Now I should like to say a word or two about sound broadcasting, to which several noble Lords have referred. My 1114 noble friend Lord Aberdare and the noble Lord, Lord Strang, stressed the greater importance, in their view, of sound broadcasting in many instances. These sound schools' broadcasts have been running now for about 30 years. There are roughly 1,700 transmissions planned for the current academic year, and the main subjects covered are music, science, modern languages, geography, history and English. These programmes, as I think this debate has testified, are widely used and highly thought of. It may be that their quality and usefulness is generally taken for granted, and, if that is so, perhaps it is the highest compliment that can be paid to them. But I should imagine that, apart from anything else, the sound broadcasts which have been described to-day have set the tone for the television broadcasts which we can now see every day.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, said that, in his view, sound is a better medium than television in many cases, and he gave instances where logical exposition is needed. The noble Lord also instanced religious broadcasts and broadcasts of music, and said that vision may often be distracting. I would say to the noble Lord how much I agree with him in the case of music. When I am listening to a symphony concert I do not wish to see the look of strain which sometimes appears on the faces of even the best oboe players; nor do I want to see the french horn player take his instrument to pieces and then shake it out, as even the best french horn players have to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, began his speech by taking a mild swipe at my noble friend Lord Bessborough for bringing up at all this question of television schools' broadcasts. My noble friend will have the last word in this debate and so I do not think it is necessary for me to attempt to intervene in this passage of arms between him and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, except perhaps to say this: that I, at any rate, am grateful to my noble friend for initiating the debate, because it has enabled the House to hear what I think are some extraordinarily interesting speeches this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, also spoke, and spoke with some approval, of visual aids of other kinds. Possibly he was a little pessimistic in his picture of the present 1115 use of visual aids other than television in the schools, because the number of cinema projectors in our schools has more than doubled in the last ten years —it has gone up from 2,800 in 1949 to 9,500 in 1959; the number of film strip projectors, to which the noble Lord referred, has increased from 18,000 to 23,000 between 1955 and 1959; over two-thirds of the local education authorities in England and Wales now have film strip libraries, and over 40 have a full or part-time visual aids officer.
The noble Lord also spoke about the lack of research. I should certainly agree with him that we could do with more research. Since 1946 there has been in existence a National Committee for Visual Aids in Education, consisting of representatives from the local authorities, the teachers and the Ministry of Education, which considers the development of visual aids and the dissemination of experience about their use. The noble Lord referred to the use of other forms—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
May I interrupt the noble Lord before he leaves that point? I was not pessimistic about visual aids of other kinds: I was merely trying to get them into perspective as being more immediately important and available. What I complained about—and I repeat that the information comes from the bodies mentioned—is that there is no research and no Government support for this method.
§ LORD NEWTON
I thought the noble Lord was pessimistic about the development in the use of other aids. I am sorry if I am wrong, but that was one of the impressions that I got. I noted that he thought, for instance, that the National Committee on Visual Aids in Education might be financed by the Government rather than by the local education authorities. Did the noble Lord say that?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I am sorry to interrupt again, but I did not say that. I did say that it was financed by local authorities and not by the Government, and that the Government might help in addition.
§ LORD NEWTON
That, I think, is not very far from what I said. I am sure the 1116 noble Lord will not expect me to announce a change of policy on that this evening; but I have followed what he said.
Then the noble Lord referred to the importance of using visual aids in school broadcasts or in educational broadcasts for overseas countries, and he referred particularly to the Overseas Visual Aids Centre in Tavistock Square. This started at the end of 1958. A grant of £40,000 has been provided in equal shares by Her Majesty's Government and the Nuffield Foundation for the first few years, and sympathetic consideration is now being given to financial aid for the next period. I should like to endorse what the noble Lord said about the valuable work of the centre. It has on view visual aids from the humblest kind, suitable for village schools, to the most modern. It runs courses and provides equipment and literature.
The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, saw signs, he said, of mis-education; but as he is going to send the evidence to my noble friend Lord Bessborough I do not think that calls for any comment from me. He considered that television is too powerful a means to be in the hands of people who make wealth out of it. That raises a very wide issue which I do not think I ought to talk about at this hour of night. The noble Lord also offered us wide advice on what the subjects of these broadcasts should be. My noble friend Lord Aberdare talked about teacher-training colleges, and expressed the view that these colleges ought to teach the use and the value of modern means of communication. I understand that this subject is normally included in the syllabus of teacher-training colleges, but I have no doubt that those who are responsible for preparing these programmes will take note of what the noble Lord has said.
The noble Lord also stressed the importance of there being sufficient and proper equipment in our schools, but this is, I think, a matter for the local education authorities. My noble friend Lord Merrivale asked if I could say anything on the recent O.E.E.C. Report, Teaching Through Television, which deals with teaching science in schools through television. I do not think I can say more than that this Report, which is a 1117 recent one, is being studied with interest by my right honourable friend. It makes a number of detailed suggestions to which he wishes to give further study.
In reply to my noble friend Lord Birdwood, I would say emphatically that the policy of the Colonial Office is definitely to encourage development of sound and television broadcasting on local lines and with the use of local talent. I understand that it is the case, as he said, that Associated Television are studying the prospects of television in Aden. We have made a substantial contribution to sound broadcasting development in Aden. Grants amounting to over £130,000 from Colonial Development and Welfare Funds have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said that there should be more funds made available for the development of broadcasts for overseas countries, and that they should be for adults and not only children. Again I am sure that he will not expect me, any more than the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, did, to make a pronouncement to-night about changes in international policy.
The noble Lord went on to discuss the value of these television programmes, and that is something with which I might perhaps finish; because to me it has been the most fascinating part of this debate to listen to what your Lordships have said on this subject. I was glad to find that the views which I had tentatively formed from studying these problems accorded reasonably closely with those expressed by the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, from his great depth of experience.
I would say that the producers of these television programmes for schools deserve our respect and our gratitude for the integrity and standards which they have maintained. I believe it is the case that no other country produces anything of the same scope or quality. So far as I have been able to discover. educationists seem generally agreed that the main function of broadcasting in Britain, both on sound and on television, is enrichment of teaching, as opposed to the direct teaching method of the kind found in the United States. My noble friend Lord Bessborough and the noble Lords, Lord Beveridge, Lord James of Rusholme. Lord Strang and Lord Merrivale, all made that point in their own way and in their own words.
1118 As I understand it, enrichment means that broadcasts can reinforce a teacher, extend the range of teaching, and give him new help in the classroom. It should not seem to make the use of words uncertain, but should help to assure children that words are about something. Teachers cannot stand down and let the broadcast lessons take over from them. What, then, do teachers themselves feel about the school television broadcasts? Again I have tried to inquire about this and form some sort of balanced opinion. So far as I can make out, among teachers there is much serious thought and much goodwill, though little wild enthusiasm, with, on the other hand, a sober feeling that this television experiment is something to be taken seriously and something of great potential importance.
But there are also, I gather, some misgivings among teachers. There is a certain amount of fear that television might end by supplanting the teacher, and I hope that what. I have said earlier in this debate about that matter will show them that that fear is groundless. There appears to be a certain mistrust of television on principle because of disapproval of many of the evening programmes and their quality. Then there is the problem of fitting television into the curricula and timetables, which is something my noble friend mentioned earlier. It may be that some curricula, especially in arts subjects, are more rigid than is essential. Certainly, these broadcasts have a lot to offer, and efforts to fit more of them into school timetables would probably be worthwhile, despite the real difficulties which arise.
This debate will have been of real value if it stimulates constructive thought in educational circles about the possibilities of school broadcasts on television. What then about the impact upon the pupils? Perhaps the pupils are more familiar with television than many of their teachers. At any rate, many teachers do not have television sets. I am told that children in schools understand the medium of television and take it seriously, and that opinion certainly coincides with my own judgment of my own children. I am told that most children display a genuine though critical interest, rather than any special enthusiasm for these programmes, and 1119 that they probably recognise the second-rate more quickly in broadcasting than in their reading. There is apparently nothing to suggest that viewing is a passive process, as is sometimes suggested, except where the programme is dull or beyond the child's understanding. And, as one would expect, the pupil usually reflects his teacher's attitude.
Apparently a television broadcast often seems to make a better impression than traditional teaching, but the retention does not necessarily last unless there has been preparation beforehand and a follow-up afterwards. These are considerations which naturally teachers have to ponder, and I feel that those who wish to see greater use made of school broadcasts should consider how teachers may be encouraged to look upon television as an ally and not as an extra burden.
I am pretty sure that the teachers' attitude is going to be the main factor in determining the future of educational television, and perhaps the attitude of the teachers will be influenced by the results of further research. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, stressed the importance for further research. I agree that that is very true. I would agree with my noble friend Lord Bessborough that this is a field in which the great trusts and foundations could give a most useful lead. I should also like to suggest that the independent television companies might care to consider giving up some of their money.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, in, if I may respectfully say so, his deeply interesting speech, and the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, talked about the effect on children of all broadcasts, and I think your Lordships enjoyed the vigour with which the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, made his point. But I am quite sure that all broadcasts are educational to a greater or lesser extent. There are quite clearly a number of Members of your Lordships' House who think that some of the evening programmes display a false view of life and encourage a wrong standard of values. I think, too, there are other people who fear more importance is attached to the opinions of the so-called celebrities of 1120 television than those opinions really merit. I do not want to make any comment on these views except to say this: I believe that when one compares school broadcasts with some of the other programmes the children see at home the real quality of the school broadcasts is manifest. For that reason alone, even if there were no others—and there are—I wish the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, well in the cause he espouses.
I have tried to reply to at any rate most of those points which seemed to be points for me. I have not attempted to comment upon the stream of entrancing ideas and judgments and theories which have characterised this debate this afternoon, and I am certain your Lordships would not have expected me to try to do so. But I am grateful to your Lordships for participating and for making this debate, for me at any rate, a most fascinating one to listen to. I am grateful to my noble friend for initiating it. I hope he will feel satisfied, and particularly that he will feel that in my reply I have been sufficiently sympathetic for him to be able to withdraw his Motion.
§ 9.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, it has certainly been a most gratifying debate; I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. And I think it could not have been more wide ranging. I would say, first, how grateful we are to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, for having given us such full and detailed replies. He dealt with his brief in the most masterly manner; and as this is, I believe, the first time he has wound up for the Government in this House, I feel we must give him most grateful thanks and appreciation for the trouble he has taken.
I am glad I extended the Motion so that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, could have a sort of mild crack at me. I am glad he referred to the other aids, and especially film strips. He seemed to disagree with me, but I would not wholly disagree with him, although I believe he perhaps does underestimate the importance of "T.V.", if not at present at any rate in the future. I was glad he seemed to agree, as other noble Lords have agreed, with the necessity for a co-ordinating body which would co-ordinate not only the B.B.C. and I.T.A. but all the other organisations 1121 like W.E.A. and other adult educational organisations. I believe there is a need for a body of that kind in this country. At present the co-ordination between the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. is, I understand, fortuitious. The services are complementary, and they have seen they do not clash, but I feel there should be some body in existence similar to the one in the United States.
There is one point I should like to make in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd: that the independent companies do not make money out of these programmes; in fact they are a financial liability. There really is no commercial motive there. I think it is generally agreed that they certainly rank with those of the B.B.C., although I recognise that the B.B.C. has its great knowledge of these matters, and they, certainly with their school broadcasts, which started in 1924, have greater experience. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, in his vigorous speech—perhaps he was the star of the evening—never said "over my dead body". I thought his remarks were very wise and far sighted, and I am glad that both he and the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in a most interesting contribution, referred to the excellent liaison service of the B.B.C., which I know is better than that of the independent companies.
I am glad, too, that both the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and the noble Lord, Lord Strang, referred to the importance of the problem of overseas territories. We are all glad to have heard from the Government, as well as from the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, of the forthcoming Conference on December 19, which has I think been spon- 1122 sored largely by the Nuffield Foundation with the very sound advice of my friend Commander Proud. I am sure your Lordships will forgive me if I do not burden you longer on that point. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, speak of the importance, limited as it is, of certain specialised closed circuit "T.V." instruction, and I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, mentioned the possibilities in Aden. I hope that there something will materialise. As the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, education is truth and propaganda may be a lie.
Of course, in all these matters more finance is needed. I only hope that through the foundations and trusts— maybe assisted by the Government and other industrial undertakings, including perhaps those companies which the noble Lord mentioned specifically just now—a larger contribution will be made, so that the existing services in this country may be made more effective and comprehensive and that, above all, we shall be able to provide material for the new stations overseas in the emerging countries.
I have to go to the theatre now, not to see a play nor to act in one; I have to make an appeal for our Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex, which is an entirely educational project. We are actually wiring it for television. I have to arrive there in about eight minutes in order to make this final appeal; and therefore I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at nine minutes past nine o'clock.