HL Deb 05 February 1963 vol 246 cc520-43

4.11 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, before I go into the details of this short amending Bill I hope I shall not be thought to be wasting the time of the House if I give a brief summary of the history of the Commonwealth Scholarships plan. As the House is aware, at the Trade and Economic Conference held at Montreal in September, 1958, the idea of a Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan was launched, and detailed arrangements for instituting the scheme were worked out by the first Commonwealth Education Conference at Oxford in 1959. Under this Plan Commonwealth Governments agreed to establish over 1,000 post-graduate scholarships and fellowships throughout the Commonwealth, and the British Government undertook to provide 500 of these. Legislative effect was given to the British Government's decision by the Commonwealth Scholarships Act, 1959, which set up the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission to administer the Plan in this country. The purpose of this Bill is to amend that Act.

I have mentioned that 500 awards were promised by Britain. The House may be interested in details of the numbers of awards which other Commonwealth countries have stated that they would make available under the Plan: Canada 250; Australia and India, 100 each; Pakistan, 40; New Zealand, 25; Federation of Malaya, 12; Ghana, 10; Nigeria, 8; Ceylon, 6; East Africa, 4; Cyprus, 3; Sierra Leone, Jamaica and Hong Kong, 2 each; and Malta 1—a total of 1,075, which, as will be seen, is 75 more than was envisaged at the time of the Montreal Conference.

I think the House may like to have some information as to the extent to which these targets have been achieved. The latest published figures for the Commonwealth as a whole are to be found in the Second Annual Report on the Plan, which was issued by the Commonwealth Education Committee last November, but I should point out that the period covered by this Report ended on 31st March, 1962, so that some of the figures have now become out of date. On 31st March, 1962, a total of 724 scholars were studying in thirteen countries. There were also 5 fellows, making a grand total of 729. Subsequently, however, the number of scholars in this country rose from 394 to 475 at the beginning of the current academic year. In Canada, 199 scholars were reported on 31st March, 1962, but by the year's end, some 220 had taken up awards. Similarly, whereas there were 75 scholars in Australia on the earlier date, the Australian section of the Report indicated that 80 awards were expected to be current in 1962. There are also results to come in from competitions which were held by other countries towards the end of last year, in particular, from India and Pakistan, and these figures should shortly be known. Thus although the precise total of scholarships at present held is not available, it will be clear to the House that, since the table in the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee's Report was drawn up, we have been getting still closer to the overall target.

Though the scheme is one for postgraduate awards, I should mention that awards may also be given at undergraduate level to students from countries where there are no universities or where no courses are available in the subjects which the students wish to study. In addition—and this, I know, is something to which noble Lords opposite attach importance—there is provision for our scholarships to be held at other than university institutions: far example, as is illustrated by the directions issued by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to the Scholarship Commission when it was set up, which drew attention to the possibility of giving awards for adult education courses.


My Lords, would the noble Duke give an indication of the number of students who attended educational institutions of non-university standing?


I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord that figure but I can say that, so far, in the field of adult education there have been only three nominations accepted. Only three nominations have so far been made by overseas countries for awards in adult education (and I should like to make the point to the noble Lord that unless nominations come forward the Commission are not in a position to make awards), but of these three, two were successful, one in 1961 and one in 1962.

The scheme, as the House is aware, has been operating since 1960 and has been a very great success. I should like to quote from the Second Annual Report on the Scholarship Plan issued by the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee. On page 10 there is a statement regarding the scholars who have come to this country which reads as follows: Reports from their universities indicate that the great majority of scholars have settled down easily to studying in a fresh environment and are in many cases producing work of high merit. I think the House will be interested to know, too, that the tutors of two scholars have reported that they are among the best students they have ever had.

Before I go further, I should like to pay a tribute to Lord Scarbrough, who has just retired after serving for three years as the first Chairman of the Scholarship Commission. In this I know your Lordships would wish to join me. The Commission were singularly fortunate in having a man of Lord Scarbrough's vision, ability and experience to serve as their first Chairman, and the fact that the Plan has got off to such an excellent start is in no mean measure due to the skill and diligence with which Lord Scarbrough has occupied the Chair. Indeed, our thanks are due not only to him but to all his colleagues on the Commission for all they have done. They have served the interests of Commonwealth Relations most admirably. I can only thank him very much indeed.

The Commission have been singularly fortunate in obtaining as a successor to Lord Scarbrough my right honourable and noble friend the Earl of Kilmuir. It is most gratifying that the keen interest in and devotion to Commonwealth affairs that the noble Earl showed while Lord Chancellor still continues, and we are greatly in his debt that he has found time in his immensely busy life to take on the Chairmanship, which carries with it a very considerable burden of work. I can only say to him how deeply grateful everyone concerned with the Plan is.

To turn now to the Bill, the House may be aware that there have been certain difficulties arising out of Section 2 (a) of the 1959 Act, with which Clause 2 of this Bill—the principal provisions—is intended to deal. The power of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission to award scholarships under the 1959 Act to persons coming to the United Kingdom is limited by the requirement in Section 2 (a) that not more than 500 awards may be held at any one time. This has turned out to be too restrictive.

As I have said, Commonwealth Governments agreed at the Commonwealth Education Conference to establish a Commonwealth and Fellowship Plan with Britain undertaking to provide 500 out of 1,000 awards to be tenable at any one time. At that time it was expected that the normal tenure of scholarships would be for two years: that is 250 new awards each year. The Scholarship Commission have found, however, that over half the scholars holding awards in this country wish to read for a Ph.D., and, I am sure, both for their own interests and in the interests of the country they come from, it is highly desirable that they should do so. However, in order to take Ph.D., a course of up to three years is required and, therefore, there have been a large number of students applying to stay on into a third year.

However, a substantial proportion of the scholars who apply for this third year extension do not require to stay for the whole of that third year, but are able to take their degrees and then return home within a few months of the beginning of their third academic year. Whilst the limit of 500 on the total number of awards which may be current at any one time remains in force, these extensions into a third year block a fresh scholarship unit for the full academic year, thereby making it impossible to fill those scholarship units held by part third-year scholars until the following Autumn. It will be appreciated that it is very rarely practicable to arrange for scholarships to be taken up in the middle of an academic year.

To maintain the present restriction means that the total number of scholars studying in this country will fall from approximately 500 in October, when the new batch of scholars arrives and the total is at its peak, to around 450 by the following April each year, due to the departure of a proportion of those scholars who have stayed on into a third year to take their Ph.Ds. The average number of United Kingdom awards current over the year will therefore be less than the 500 originally envisaged by the Government when the Scholarship Plan was launched.

While it is not intended to make any change in existing policy, if the Act is amended as proposed, the Scholarship Commission will be able, at the opening of each new academic year in October, when the carry-over of scholars from the previous year is augmented by the new batch of scholars taking up awards, to have on their books somewhat more than 500 scholars and fellows. This situation will, however, last for only a few months, and the total will then fall during the year so as to give an average of 500 awards current over the year as a whole.

On the assumption that the normal tenure of scholarships would be two years, the Scholarship Commission announced in each of the first two British competitions that 250 new awards would be available. But as a result of granting a considerable number of third-year extensions the Commission is at present limited to offering, on account of the 500 maximum imposed by the Act, around 200 new awards only each year. If, however, the restriction in the Act is removed, it is expected that the Commission should be able to offer between 225 and 230 new awards annually at present costs. This is important, in the light of the Report of the Delhi Conference last January, which recorded that "it would he unfortunate" if third-year extensions should result in a reduction in the number of new awards made annually.

If the Bill is passed, there will be no limit on expenditure in the 1959 Act itself, but the Government intend to continue to make awards within the spirit of an average of 500 awards held in any one year and within the existing financial allocation; thereby the overall limit of £6 million imposed by the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960, for expenditure under both Acts during the five years ending March 31, 1965, will still apply.

I turn now to Clause 1 of the Bill. By Clause 1 the 1959 Act is brought into line with the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960, and will cover the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It did not occur to anyone at the time the 1959 Act was being drafted that the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man would raise any question, since there are no universities or other institutions there to which candidates for British Scholarships from abroad under the Act would have gone. The point did, however, come up subsequently in connection with the Commonwealth Teachers Act, and the Islands were therefore expressly covered there. Later, the Scholarship Commission raised the question of the position of a Channel Islander or Manxman under Section 1 (1) (c) of the 1959 Act (which deals with the selection of candidates from Britain for awards offered by other Commonwealth countries). This being a post-graduate scheme, such a person would normally be a gradu ate of a British university, and thus would qualify for selection under the section, but we thought it better to take the opportunity in this Bill of expressly including the Islands.

I hope the House will give its blessing to this short Bill. I am sure it is an excellent Bill and will be a further step in cementing good Commonwealth relations in a particularly vital field, that of education. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)

4.27 p.m.


My Lords, this very simple Bill looked at first as if it would need no comment in its own right but would merely give us an opportunity to say a few words on the general question of Commonwealth education, but since the noble Duke has explained the implications of Clause 2, I think one should ask if the Government are happy about whether the scheme will fulfil the intentions of the Conference. Clause 2, by removing the upper limit of 500, certainly gives some much needed flexibility, but I was disappointed that the noble Duke thought that the maximum intake permissible in each academic year is only between 225 and 230. That means that there can never be more than 460 scholarship holders other than those who are staying on for a third year. It seems to me that the people staying on, possibly for a higher degree, are to some extent stultifying the whole scheme if, in fact, we can take a maximum of only 460 instead of 500. That is a thought upon which I should like the noble Duke to give us some views. It was somewhat of a disappointment when we heard that figure.

I wonder, further, whether this tendency to say on for a third year, or part of a third year, is not a reflection of a slight weakness in the original terms of the plan, because we heard that the aim of the whole scholarship scheme is to give awards to men and women who are of high intellectual promise and who may also be expected to make a significant contribution in their own countries". There is further emphasis that in the main the awards should be made for a period of post-graduate study or research to men and women who are capable of reaching the highest standard of intellectual achievement". I think it is questionable whether that is the best policy for the countries of the Commonwealth, many of whom, we must remember, have until very recently counted the number of their university graduates on the fingers of one hand.

Some of these countries have been lacking so much in the opportunities for higher education, and I wonder whether this insistence on people with only the highest intellectual attainments is really the best way of helping in their development. After all, it is really a means to an end, is it not? The higher education is needed for the future development, economically and in other ways, of these countries. Obviously, one can never value quality in education too highly, but it is arguable, I think, that the need in a country which is developing from a very low level of academic attainments is rather for quantity. After all, the field of higher education is probably the most important single aspect of technical assistance to the developing countries.

At one time there was argument whether it was better for developing countries to send their people for higher education to the United Kingdom and Europe or to concentrate on building up universities in those countries. I think very few people now would disagree with the view that they must have their own universities; although we shall always welcome their coming to this country to see how we live, to see conditions in highly matured civilisation and to obtain whatever we have to offer them in the way of learning. But the crying need is to build up the universities overseas and for that the need is for teachers willing to go to those overseas countries.

The first thing that should be said is that the Scholarship Plan laid down, in paragraph 10, that the holder of an award that is, a scholarship award— will be expected to return to his own country on the expiry of the award. I have no doubt that some of the more able and brilliant of the students who come to this country on scholarships are greatly tempted to take posts in this country rather than to go back to their own country. They have tasted the sweets of academic life and life in this country and it must be very tempting to them to stay on and make their careers here; but that is not in the interests of their own countries. I hope that this little sentence in the original plan has not been forgotten and is, in fact, being given due weight by Her Majesty's Government and by all those connected with the Plan.

The other thing I would say is that we need large numbers of university teachers willing to go to overseas universities. This does not come in the Scholarship Plan because it is in a different conception, but, if your Lordships do not mind my being out of order to this extent, I would ask the Government whether they have this matter really in the forefront of their minds? I believe it has been calculated that in African universities alone something like 5,000 university teachers will be needed in the next twenty years if the development of all those universities is to go ahead. The number, of 'course, will diminish as Africans reach the stage of graduation and of taking up a teaching career. All the same, the numbers needed are very great and inducements will be needed to get the required number of good teachers to go abroad. Your Lordships have discussed before now the fear that is in the minds of many young men that their careers in teaching, medicine or in other ways will be prejudiced if they go abroad; and I think it cannot be too often said by the Government and by leaders of the professions that men who go abroad and take posts for a limited time, helping the overseas countries with their higher education, far from prejudicing their careers, will in fact improve their prospects.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, as my noble friend his indicated, we have no objection to this amendment. It deals with a very modest aspect of Commonwealth educational co-operation, and far be it for me to object to any amendment simply because the subject demands far more drastic treatment; and, so far as I can see, the proposal embodied in the amendment is that which is recommended in the Report of the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee of 1962. But it is a little unfortunate that the noble Duke's speech seemed to indicate that the Government clearly have no intention of further or additional expenditure upon the Scholarship Plan.

The noble Duke said that it would be operated "in the spirit of" the 500 limit, and that the overall expenditure of £6 million over the five years proposed by the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960, will still apply. That, I think, is to be regretted: because, as the noble Duke himself pointed out, this is a period when we have to look still more to the Commonwealth and do all we possibly can to stimulate and develop Commonwealth relations. Perhaps our inability to join the Common Market has highlighted the value of Commonwealth relations. To-day trade is no longer the product of political domination; yet it can still be influenced by close association, mutual help and better understanding. I think all of us would agree that if the Commonwealth is to survive and grow stronger it needs this constant interflow of students and the stimulation of mutual contact. Indeed, I should like to see the day when Britain herself was truly the educational Mecca of the Commonwealth.

To achieve that I am quite sure we need a very considerable increase in our educational facilities. I should like to see in the operation of this educational scheme a far greater emphasis upon nonacademic types. It has already been stated that the Commonwealth is a variety of nations, of peoples, with varying degrees of development. Many of them are emergent nations. Many of these nations are climbing painfully out of the pit of poverty and ignorance, and ahead of those nations is a hard struggle to lift their economic standards. I believe it is realised in our own country that if their standards remain low our chance of developing trade becomes more difficult. I appreciate that under this scheme such nations are sending their quota of students to study at our universities, but in my opinion it is not the lawyer or the politician or the budding Prime Minister they want: I imagine that they have as many of those as they need at the moment. They need technicians, agriculturists, people versed in the simple rudiments of business and administration. And they must have those coming to this country, not in their hundreds but in their thousands.

I am aware that the Department of Technical Co-operation is doing a tremendously good job in this regard. I can speak with practical experience of a good number of years as a member of an advisory committee to the Colonial Office, and at present chairman of one of the advisory committees to the Department of Technical Co-operation. I know how much individual firms, co-operative societies, agricultural co-operatives, are doing in this field by providing facilities for students—not academic types—to come over to this country, learn the way of life and learn something practical that will be of great assistance in building up the resources of their own country. If I may quote an example, in the past few weeks I have received a letter from two Malayan students brought over to this country as guests of a Midlands Cooperative Society. They studied there, travelled about the country and went back knowing quite a lot about Britain. They had, too, I think, a good regard and good feeling towards this country, and returned to their own country armed with knowledge, practice and skill that will be of considerable assistance not only to them but also to the community they intend to serve.

I should like to make some comment upon a point on which my noble friend has already touched; that is, to make a greater endeavour to ensure that the people who attend the universities go back to their own countries where they will be able to make some contribution, if only to teach others what they have learned. I believe that the basic need which the scheme seeks to meet—at least in those types of country within the Commonwealth of which I am speaking, and particularly the less-developed countries—is to provide trained people to help develop their own country. That, in my opinion, must be the guiding principle of awarding scholarships, and certainly in deciding an extension for such scholarships, which is the major subject of this amending Bill.

4.46 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to welcome this Bill as it goes some way, if not very far, to meet the needs of the situation. I am a firm believer in having as many co-operative associations (in the general, not in Lord Peddie's sense of the term) in the Commonwealth as we can have. I have always felt that one of the great difficulties of developing the Commonwealth idea among the public is that there are far too few cooperative organisations. There is a limit to which an idea can be sustained without anything practical to sustain it. In my view, that limit has long been reached, so far as the Commonwealth has been concerned.

So far as this particular scheme, the Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, is concerned, as those of us who spoke on this issue when it was announced by the Government some years ago realised, it was, and is, intended for post-graduate study. But to-day the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, has questioned the value of that as opposed to general scholarships for undergraduate study. In the original Command Paper (No. 894) this was said: In the main the awards should be made for a period of post-graduate study or research to men or women capable of reaching the highest standard of intellectual achievement. The point made by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, was, of course, argued at the time; and it has been argued in the past and will be argued in the future. But my own view is that this decision was the right one. There is obviously a limit to the numbers of undergraduates or scholars one can take from any particular country outside one's own.

As the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, said, the primary object of higher education is to have a sufficient number of universities in the various Commonwealth countries to satisfy the demands of their own scholars for university education. But in most of the newer countries there are naturally very few opportunities for post-graduate studies, and the slender resources in money and teachers are often best applied to undergraduate study. In many cases—I would say in most cases—they have not the necessary resources to apply them to the comparatively few, indeed very few, students who are able to take advantage of post-graduate studies. It is much better in those cases for the people who desire post-graduate study, who are fitted for it, to go to one of the more mature countries and take advantage of the studies that are available there. I myself think that this is the right course which is being pursued by the Government and the other Governments in the Commonwealth, and that to go back to a general position of taking undergraduate scholars would he wrong. Furthermore, in many cases for a young man or young woman to come from a country which is just evolving as a developing country into a metropolitan country such as this is a tremendous step to take, and very often they are better able to take advantage of the facilities available here if they have done an undergraduate course in their own countries and are more mature.

Secondly, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, raised the question of numbers, and here I must support them. I think it would be unfortunate if the Government gave the idea that 500 was the absolute maximum. We are now going to have a number of new universities; there will be a much larger number of university places. And, after all, these are postgraduate students who will not, in many cases, compete with undergraduates for places in universities. Therefore, I would have thought it a great advantage if the Government could be more flexible. One wonders why this number of 500 was fixed. Was it picked out of the bag, or how was it fixed? It bears no relation at any one time to the number of people who desire to come here for post-graduate study. Perhaps the noble Duke could tell us whether the numbers of those desiring to come here are increasing. One would assume that they would be: as the universities in these various countries develop, their output of graduates will be increased, and one would expect the number who desire to come here to be continually growing. I think it would be a great pity if, by some rule of thumb which was decided some years ago, a number of promising people were unable to obtain the benefit of studies in this country.

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, made some rather critical comment about lawyers and politicians and others of that nature. It is highly desirable to have technical people: they are needed. It is difficult to draw the line in defining what is a technical person. Assuming that scientists of various kinds come within this category, it is most important to have agriculturists, veterinary surgeons and doctors and others who are mainly scientific; but it is also vitally important to have the humanists, the people who have done the humane studies. I regret to say that there is often a tendency present in developing countries to believe that anyone, by the light of nature, can become an administrator and a manager. This is not the case. Administrators have to be trained: lawyers have to be trained, and, judges and magistrates are chosen from lawyers. Law and order is one of the first requirements of government, and unless one has a number of people who are trained in these faculties, then the country is going to be faced with grave difficulty.

Take the case of Tanganyika. When Tanganyika became independent the fact was, as I was informed, that there was only one African barrister. Those who believe that the law itself and lawyers are a blight, would probably welcome that fact, but as I have said, it is difficult to carry on the administration of law with one barrister in a country. He would be very busy—


There would be no argument.


It is true that there would be no argument, but neither would there be any law and justice. As a lawyer and a politician, I come into Lord Peddie's two classes of undesirables. But I must say that, quite apart from the fact that without lawyers it is difficult to carry on the administration of the law, they are also the basis of magistrates and judges. How you carry on law and order without magistrates, judges and lawyers, I do not know. So I should not be too keen on excluding politicians and lawyers, and others of that ilk.


My Lords, I do not deplore the fact that there are a number of skilled politicians and even lawyers in such countries. All I am saying is that you can have too much of a good thing.


My Lords, I do not think they have got too much of a good thing in many of these countries. I am glad to think that politicians and lawyers are a good thing, but I can assure the noble Lord that in many countries there are few people with qualifications of any kind. Therefore, as I say, what we want is a balance. I should like to know where many of these graduates go, because the last figures that I saw in this field seemed to imply that a lot of them go to London for their post-graduate courses—I have not got the latest figures with me, and the noble Duke said that the figures in the Report were out of date. I have always thought that this is rather a mistake, and those from overseas who come to me for advice have always been advised by me against going to London.

The University of London has well over 20,000 students, and there can be no real university life in the University of London such as there can be in many of the small towns or cities where there is a university. If you are to lecture at the University of London you will generally find that you are asked to go at lunch time—which is an awkward time for a lecture or a talk—because in the evening most of the undergraduates, who reside a considerable way from the centre of London, travel back home by tile earliest possible train, following the final lecture or tutorial class of the day. I feel that the average student from overseas can have little real university life in those circumstances, and probably finds himself living out in Brixton or Balham, or somewhere like that, and meeting few people, except perhaps other students who have come from his own country. I feel that the Government should do everything in their power to persuade these students, if the courses which they wish to take are available for them, to go to one of the other universities—I do not like calling them "red brick" universities, because many of these universities are far more ancient than the University of London; but universities other than Oxford, Cambridge or London.

What about families? Here again, I have always thought that this is one of the problems which we have not always faced. Does this scheme make it possible for a student to bring his wife and family with him? I hope that it does, because post-graduate students will be slightly older than the average undergraduate, and it is not satisfactory for a man to be here for two years or even three years, away from his family. He would be much happier, and so would the family, if they could be here with him. One of the difficulties in many of these countries is that the educated man naturally desires an educated wife, and educated wives are hard to come by. In some countries they have an enormous bride price. I think it is difficult if the wife has been left at home and the husband has come over here on a post- graduate course for two or three years and has had experience of living in a society such as ours which his wife has not shared. I can see great possibilities of unhappiness if that is the case; so I hope that there is some provision for that.

Finally, turning to the other side of the trencher, I should like to ask a question about our students going overseas. This also is part of the Plan. When I saw the figures previously, practically all of them went to Canada. I do not know whether that is still the case because, unhappily, although the first Report of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan Commission was a Command Paper, the second one was not, and it was not therefore placed in the Printed Paper Office and is not available for us to-day. I should like to ask the noble Duke whether he can give us any figures or details about where exactly these British graduates have gone for their exchange Commonwealth Fellowship courses. As I said, originally most of them went to Canada. I have no objection to this: some of the Canadian universities are extremely good. But I should like to see some of these people going to African and Asian universities.

It is most important that some of our young men and women should go to Hong Kong University, the University of Malaya, Makerere University, and some of the other universities. It would be a great advantage to them, as well as to the students in those universities, and it would also be a great advantage to us on their return to this country. Perhaps the noble Duke could pass on to the Commission dealing with this Plan the desirability of suggesting to applicants that they might care to study in one of these other universities. If, for example, they are studying Oriental languages, they might well find a suitable course in one of those places. In many of them they probably would not find a great deal of post-graduate tuition, but this idea might well be worth following up.

My Lords, what information is given to colleges here as to this scheme? I have an impression that it is not widely known. Perhaps the noble Duke could look to see whether the Committee make this scheme widely known, so that the graduates in our own universities can take advantage of it. With those few remarks, I have nothing further to say on this Bill, except to give it a modified welcome and to hope that the Government will continue in this spirit and that in future they will do even better

5.2 p.m.


My Lords, I hope I may be allowed to intervene very briefly in this debate, my reason being that only four days ago I found myself in a mining town on the Demerara River in British Guiana, in the middle of the jungle, looking at schools and an apprentice training scheme. That visit brought vividly to my mind the enormous importance of increased education of all kinds in every part of the Commonwealth—not only because it is good for the country itself, but also because there is such an overwhelming desire in these countries to be educated.

It is no longer a question of driving unwilling, reluctant pupils to school; it is a question of finding physical accommodation for these very young people, desks at which they can work, blackboards on which the lessons can be taught, and, of course, of finding teachers who can fulfil those jobs. This does not apply only at the lowest level of primary education, but all the way through the educational field up to and beyond the undergraduate stage. When you get beyond that stage there is an overwhelming demand in those countries for trained people, graduates in the sciences, technologists, laboratory technicians, and, above all, teachers. The need for these qualified people who are in such enormous demand should be met from the actual native population of whatever Colony or member of the Commonwealth we are talking about, but the demand cannot be satisfied from those sources and can only partially be met, at great expense, and with great difficulty, by importations from this country and other more highly developed countries.

My Lords, this is a problem of which we are all aware, a problem with which I imagine this Bill in its modified form is trying to cope. When one considers the vastness of this important problem one cannot help saying, in spite of one's sympathies with this Bill, that it is lamentable that the numbers are limited to 500 people in any one year. Admittedly, it is worth doing, and I should be the last to say it is not worth doing, but what sort of contribution is this to a problem involving tens of millions of people—people who are longing for education, searching for opportunities, and yet who are being offered only 500 places in any one year?

We have heard discussions as to whether this scheme should be confined to, or concentrated more upon, the technical side, or the arts, or whether we want to train more lawyers or more politicians—though I must say I do not know how one can train a politician. Perhaps we could benefit from it ourselves if we knew the answer. I would not in any way deprecate the training of lawyers; I think they have very valuable functions to fulfil. The noble Lord, Lord Peddie, said you cannot have too much of a good thing. That is probably true.


He said you can have too much of a good thing.


That is also true, I would say, but at this stage the question is whether or not we are having too much of a good thing in the shape of lawyers. We are certainly not having enough of a better thing in the shape of the more practical technical sciences which are needed, above all, in these countries. Admittedly, it is important, if you want to go to law, that there should be more than one barrister to choose from. But it is far more important that you should have more than one doctor to look after a population of 100,000 or more; that you should have more than one engineer to construct thousands of miles of roads in primitive countries; that you should have more than one economist or agriculturist to grow food on tens of thousands of acres in under-developed and under-nourished countrysides. These are the things to which we must turn our minds.

We must also, as my noble friend Lord Lucan said, do our best to see that when the people who come over here under these scholarships have got their degrees or qualifications they go to a country where there is a real need for their particular skills rather than remain in this country. I would not go all the way with the noble Earl in saying that it should be a condition that such people must return to the country from which they came. There are many other countries in the Commonwealth just as much in need of such trained people as the country of origin of the graduate student, and it would be wrong for us to insist upon these graduates returning to their own country; we should be satisfied if they go to any of the countries of the Commonwealth where the need for their services exists. But we should strongly discourage them from remaining in this country or in any of the other more highly developed countries in which they have received their training.

We usually look on this matter as something which will be solely to the benefit of the countries who are sending their students to us, and undoubtedly the primary object is that they should be benefited. But we must not forget that we in this country gain a considerable side benefit through having such people here. The more we can have people from other parts of the Commonwealth, with their different habits, different views, different backgrounds, mixing among our own people—mixing as scientists, students, technicians, and mixing as ordinary human beings—the more will our understanding be of such places, and the more will our sympathy be real and practical rather than theoretical and remote. This is an additional reason why we cannot be content with having this paltry number of 500 people, not all of whom are in this country. It should be extended far more—not simply put up by 10 or 20 per cent., not doubled or trebled, but increased tenfold or twenty-fold within the next year. That will be only the very beginning of a very small contribution to the solution of this vast problem, for which we in this country must take the prime responsibility.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lords who have taken part in this extremely worthwhile debate, and I should like to reply to most, if not all, of the points raised. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, was the first to raise this important question of the type of person who should come to this country. I think the first thing to be said on that is that the scheme has the wholehearted blessing of our fellow members of the Commonwealth. They are delighted with it. The fact that they are so pleased with it, and take such an interest in it, shows that the plan as at present devised is meeting a very real Commonwealth need.

Let us remember too, that this is by no means the only contribution to further education that this country is making towards the Commonwealth. There is the Commonwealth Bursary Scheme, under which some hundreds of teachers from Commonwealth countries come here for a year's course. That, I think, meets to a certain extent the need which the noble Earl felt was present; because while it is possibly true that the more developed countries of the Commonwealth are the greatest beneficiaries under the Scholarship Plan, under the Bursary Scheme it is the emerging countries which get the lion's share. Last year there were some 390 of these bursaries current in this country, and of that total of 390. 89 went to Nigeria alone. So I think it is perhaps a mistake to look at the Commonwealth Scholarship Plan in isolation as this country's contribution to further education in the Commonwealth.

The noble Earl also touched on this question of numbers, as did I think all noble Lords who spoke in the debate. It is true that the original intention was that there should be 250 new scholars each year, but in view of the very great importance of obtaining the Ph.D. I think the small reduction in annual intake is more than offset by the value which the students, and through them the country, will receive from the Plan. The overall number of 500 has not been altered; it is merely the annual intake that has been affected. Indeed, once this Bill has been passed there will be some times in the year when there will be more than 500 students here. But in my opinion the small reduction in annual numbers is more than compensated for by the great value to Commonwealth citizens who obtain their Ph.D.

I must confess that I have been a little distressed that two or three of your Lordships should have made reference to what the future should hold for those who take up these scholarships. First of all, in general principle I think it is very undesirable to attach any strings to scholars coming to this country. But what distressed me was that there was a hint of implication about the possible patriotism of scholars coming here under the Plan. It has been my very good fortune to travel extensively in the Commonwealth during the last two years, and one is continually aware of the burning sense of patriotism and nationalism, particularly among the peoples of the newly independent countries. I feel that we are doing less than justice to scholars from those countries if we think that they intend to keep the benefit of their education in this country only to themselves, and not to let their country as a whole share in it. I believe that we can leave it to the scholars themselves to put the extra learning they have acquired in this country very much to the fore in their country's interests.

The noble Earl also raised the matter of the great need to supply university teachers overseas. This is a little outside the scope of the debate, but as the noble Earl raised the point I may just say that we are, of course, acutely conscious of that need. Indeed, the Morris Committee which is now sitting was set up by the Government for the express purpose of inquiring into the ways and means of obtaining people to take up these posts overseas.

To turn to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, he also touched on this question of who should be the beneficiaries. I think he said that he was all in favour of the non-academic type. So am I, since my own scholastic career would certainly qualify my being described as a non-academic type.


My Lords, will the noble Duke pardon me for one moment, in order to make the position quite clear? I made no reference in any derogatory terms to the academic type. I was merely indicating that in the building up of the emergent nations there is a necessity to give encouragement, though the provision of scholarships and the like, to the nonacademic type—the type that has been referred to on a number of occasions the agriculturist, the tradesman, the skilled operator and the technician. Those are the people to whom I was referring.


Indeed, my Lords. I would only say this to the noble Lord: that we are aware—and he paid very generous tribute to the work of the Department of Technical Co-operation—that our interest in the field of education, and in the field of knowledge throughout the Commonwealth, is not confined to these highly knowledgeable scholars who in many cases are working for their Ph.D. But this particular Bill is to deal with that aspect of our contribution towards Commonwealth education. I assure the noble Lord that the Government are acutely conscious that this is by no means the only need, and the D.T.C. was set up largely for the express purpose of helping with technical education in such fields as agriculture.

The noble Lord, Lord Peddie, as did other noble Lords, said that we do not spend nearly enough money. Of course we do not. Unfortunately, no Government has limitless resources. I do not wish to touch on matters which are outside my concern, but I would simply say that you must cut your rug according to your cloth, and that with all the many demands that are made upon this country, and the vast amount of aid that has been provided, everything has to be in proportion. Although, of course, the figure of £6 million over the period 1960 to 1965 is not as much as we should like, it does indicate, taking into consideration the many other demands that are put upon the national purse (because remember that all the money must come from the taxpayer), that the field of further education has not been altogether neglected. At the same time, I should like to say that we fully appreciate that if more could be afforded there is a need to spend literally limitless sums of money in this particular field.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised a number of points, which I should like to deal with fairly briefly. He asked whether a scholar could bring his wife. I understand that under the scheme £200 a year maintenance is allowed in this direction. The noble Lord also asked where students go from here under other countries' schemes? It is true that Canada leads the way, but Australia, New Zealand and India also make very worthwhile contributions to the scheme. The noble Lord also talked at some length about the universities to which the scholars should go when they come to this country. That, of course, depends very greatly upon where awards can be made available. London University has no need of a champion, but I should not like to think that those who are con cerned with the scheme are not deeply grateful to London University for the number of places it finds for scholars under the scheme.

But it is by no means confined to London. While the noble Lord was speaking I looked at the list of places where the awards were taken up. I looked only at the first page of this document and found there were students going to Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton, Durham, Birmingham and Aberdeen—as well, of course, as London. That is on the first page alone, so it is not confined only to London University, though I dare say they have the lion's share, largely due to the tremendous size of the university.

The noble Lord also said that the money was insufficient. I can only repeat what I have said: that if the resources were available, an infinitely great amount of money could be spent; but, fortunately, we are making a significant contribution to the cost of Commonwealth further education.


My Lords, I did not imply so much that the money was insufficient, although, as the noble Duke has implied, it obviously is, but asked whether some regard has been had to the extra places to become available when the new universities come into being.


We are limited to 500 under the Act of 1960, so in the immediate future there can be no question of extending that number. There will be further Commonwealth Education Conferences—the next will be held in 1964—at which such matters as these are suitable for discussion and, if necessary, recommendation; and should a recommendation come for extending the numbers, it will, I know, be given due consideration by the Government. However, for the time being we are confined to 500.

The noble Lord asked whether the number was fixed arbitrarily. I am afraid I cannot answer that question offhand, but it occurs to me that perhaps in 1959, when the scheme was first evolved, it was decided there should be 1,000 places and the British Government felt we should take the lion's share and offer to pay half the total sum—but that is mere conjecture. However, I think we can be reasonably proud that when this scheme was instituted we quite rightly took the lead and undertook to provide half the number of places to be provided by the entire Commonwealth.

There is one final point. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, spoke with some scorn about this pitiful number of 500. Of course it is very small, but it is entirely for one particular field, which is post-graduate education. The noble Lord, Lord Peddie, I think, said he wanted to see this country become the Mecca of Commonwealth education. May I say in passing how my heart warmed to him for the feelings of great affection and devotion for the Commonwealth which he showed in his speech? For someone in my office, that was very comforting and pleasing to hear. But there are to-day approximately 35,000 students from different Commonwealth countries studying up and down the country, so to take just this 500 is perhaps not altogether fair. It may be much smaller than noble Lords would like, but it is only part of what we do for Commonwealth education. There are literally tens of thousands of Commonwealth students in this country at this moment, and they increase year by year. So I think that, if it is not the Mecca, we can say that we bring education in one form or another to very large numbers of young people from all parts of the Commonwealth.

Before I close, may I say how warmly I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, when he said that we are beneficiaries? Of course we are. It is not only to our interest, but to our great benefit, that people, and particularly young people in their formative years, should see fit to come to this country to study. Apart from the fact that it is a great compliment to us, we can benefit very much from having them with us. It is, indeed, the very essence, the very stuff, of Commonwealth relations that they should come here; and I should like to associate myself very much with him when he says that we are not only giving but also receiving. It remains for me only to thank those noble Lords who have taken part in this debate for their extremely interesting contributions, and I hope your Lordships will agree that this Bill be now read a second time.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.