HL Deb 14 May 1969 vol 302 cc151-98

4.15 p.m.

Debate again resumed.


My Lords, may I add my words of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for introducing this subject this afternoon, and for limiting its scope. May I also thank him for giving us a lead by which we can say that we are all agreed, to borrow a phrase from the Statement which the noble Lord the Leader of the House has just made, that our purpose is not to create a multi-role genius built to a common design. We here are discussing whether it is 1.0 per cent. or 0.1 per cent., which makes the subject much more manageable. If we had been discussing, as it were, the top 10 per cent., I should have been tempted to point out that we have not done so badly in many ways. We are probably more effective as a nation in dealing with our more able children than are most other nations, at least judged by the fact that we seem to be able to reach an Honours Degree standard in a great deal less number of years than a comparable standard takes elsewhere. But that is not the point with which this debate is concerned. It is concerned, as we have been reminded, with those most gifted children, perhaps a very small numerical percentage, who have their rights as individuals and whose potential contribution the country cannot possibly risk neglecting. Behind that is the conviction of all of us that we must secure for every kind of child the education most suited to his or her individual needs. This is our starting point in any educational reorganisation.

It has been interesting that every speaker so far appears to have gone to the shortest chapter in the Plowden Report for some of his material, and some of the points which I wished to make, extracted from that admirable Report, have already been made. However, one phrase was used which I do not think has been quoted; namely, when the Committee say that it is necessary to avoid an egalitarian suspicion of the whole concept of giftedness ".

While the language is not that which I myself would use, nevertheless it illustrates our important starting point.

The Committee came down fairly definitely against special schools at the primary stage. They indeed suggested that the right way was possibly accelerated promotion from one stage of education to another. Even then I wonder whether it is really going to be the best thing for the interests of the children themselves, provided that with the development of group work and the increased skills with which it is applied, the most gifted children can be given that opportunity for study in depth and for richer material, which I believe they can, if they can be identified soon enough. This, of course, is a point which has already been touched upon.

In that process of identification, perhaps we need to remember what the Newsom Committee took as one of its basic concepts, that intelligence was not just something with which you were born and you had to put up with it, whether there was enough of it, too much of it or too little, but that education with intelligence was something one could acquire. If we are going to accept this, it means that any of the instruments we now have for testing giftedness are extremely blunt indeed, and it imposes a much greater strain upon the teacher and the parent to identify these children and to offer them—and again one cannot avoid quoting the Plowden Report — A teacher who finds himself with such a child must offer his sympathy, encouragement and delight and never take refuge in the dangerous half-truth in that the clever child will look after himself'". Yet the teacher can find in these children who are perhaps not at home with the rest of their contemporaries, not only an I.Q. of immense height but also a capacity for acquiring intelligence, which nobody yet has told us how to identify or to measure.

The noble Lord, Lord Annan, in describing the super-selective school, at one point made my blood rather run cold, because he described it in such terms that I almost thought he believed in it, and it was a most horrible thing in which he appeared to be believing. I wonder what its effect would be upon the unfortunate gifted children who landed themselves in this super-selected institution at the secondary stage. How many of them would in fact have their intelligence and their gifts destroyed by it? One of the subjects on which I think we need more information—and I do not mean this entirely jokingly—is the damage which education can do to intelligence. How many are there who at school showed the utmost promise, were regarded as most gifted, the children who were going to be the leaders of the nation in twenty years' time, who burned them selves out at the age of 17 or 21 and were lost to us, when had they been forced less they might have grown more? I believe that when we are discussing this question of separation of the most gifted children away from their contemporaries we should be very careful indeed.

There are of course the problems to which reference has been made. Will there be enough skilled teachers to go round at the secondary stage? A recent study by a Working Party of the Inner London Education Authority showed that the provision of an adequate number of subjects adequaitely taught in a sixth form in a particular school is a very difficult matter indeed to secure, and that there may be some children who, unless they can move their schools, will not have an opportunity of developing their gifts in the field in which they wish to develop them, t may be that the sixth form college, the very idea of which a few years ago I could not have detested more, may in fact be a thing to be looked at again as a possible way of meeting this difficulty.

I would suggest—and this is the point on which I want to close—hat the best thing for our gifted children is to keep them as normal as possible in their social relationships, and that the crux of the matter is not really whether they should be put into a different kind of institution but that somehow or other we should find the means to put them in touch with the teachers best able to meet their needs; it is the teacher-pupil human relationship which I believe ultimately is the solution of the problem.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, I too am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Carrington for giving us this opportnity to discuss such a very important subject, but one that tends to be neglected. I cannot help thinking that he put the Motion down from personal experience as one whose great gifts were not early recognised but have been fully demonstrated later—and I say this because many years ago I was at school with my noble friend.

When I went to my Party research department to see whether there were any Press cuttings on this subject, I was interested to see that they were filed under the heading of "Handicapped Children". Other noble Lords have drawn attention to the fact that at one end of the scale there are the handicapped children to whom we pay a very great deal of attention, and it is possible to argue that at the other end there are the very gifted children to whom we should be paying equally special attention. I think ibis analogy can be drawn a little too far, but there is perhaps a grain of truth in it. Certainly some people have considered great genius to be a form of illness. A gentleman called Lombroso, a professor of legal medicine at Turin, considered that Genius is a degenerative psychosis of the epileptoid group. And some Mediæval books on medicine quoted from the Greeks: Men illustrious in poetry, politics and the arts have often been melancholic or mad, like Ajax, Ernpedocles, Socrates, and many others "— but not, I am glad to say, my noble friend Lord Carrington.

The subject we are debating seems to me to fall into two distinct halves. The first, and I think the more difficult and the more important, is the need to identify the gifted child, and to identify him or her very early in life, because usually the gifts and talents are shown very early in life, even before the child goes to school, and it is most important psychologically for their later development that their early progress is encouraged. This task naturally falls upon the parents, who should recognise their particularly gifted children but so often do not. Very often those who have themselves been well educated may well recognise special gifts in their children, but others find specially gifted children just "difficult".

When we recall, if I may quote from the Plowden Report, that 29 per cent. of all homes in their survey had five books or less, and that two-thirds of the homes of unskilled workers had five books or less, one can understand that a specially gifted child may be very adversely affected in his early life. I have been told of one small girl who was luckier than some. She was the daughter of a dustman and she spent all day long banging away on the piano, until the dustman and his wife got fed up and decided to do something about it. That young girl is now at the Yehudi Menuhin School, where obviously her talents are rightly used. I must say that I could not help asking how it came about that a dustman had a piano in his home, and I was told that somebody had given him £5 to take it away.

This story was told me by the National Association for Gifted Children, which has been founded for that very purpose of advising parents what action they can take in the event of their having a particularly gifted child, as well as drawing attention to the problems of gifted children, and it was they in fact who got this little girl her chance. I cannot help feeling that their efforts are of the greatest value in making the existence of these children and their problems better known.

But if we cannot rely on the parents at this early age, there are perhaps some other sources of information. One, in particular, which might perhaps be explored is that of health visitors. If they were encouraged to be on the lookout for specially gifted children it might be that they could help the parents. I know that others have even gone so far as to suggest that midwives are able to pick out these children, whom they call "alert babies". This may seem fanciful; but there is the theory, which only research could prove, that the specially gifted focus their eyes at an earlier age than the rest of us.

One very important area where I am quite sure that gifted children should be recognised is in the nursery school. The Plowden Report, of course, was fully in favour of nursery schools, and I think all of us are rapidly coming to realise the very valuable part that nursery schools can play, socially, psychologically and educationally; and this is the reason why, certainly in educational priority areas, it is so important to found new nursery schools. Equally, surely, they could for the same good reasons provide an invaluable extra means of recognising the gifted child before he or she reached normal school age. But if it is to be at the nursery school age or, indeed, not until the primary school age, obviously it will all depend on the teacher. It is therefore most important that teachers are given some training in recognising the gifted child, and I would suggest that this should rightly take place at colleges of education, just as they are trained there to recognise the handicapped child.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, mentioned the most interesting experiment at the Brentwood College of Education, where a group of exceptionally gifted children from neighbouring primary schools spend one day a week taking special classes. This is something that certainly fulfils a dual purpose, and one which I think could well be recommended elsewhere in that it brings the more able children together, at least on one day a week, and also allows the teachers in training to come to have some experience with the specially gifted child.

As noble Lords have already said, we have made some progress in discerning the specially gifted by means of intelligence tests. Certainly, these are to be preferred to the old examination method. But these tests still do not altogether help us when it comes to special talents in the field of technical, creative or social talents. Unless we can devise some schemes or tests for these kind of gifts we have to rely on the intelligence and sensitivity of the teacher in recognising talent of a special kind. This is a difficult job. So often, for example, creative talent shows itself in non-conformity, and vet the conforming clever child is so much easier to handle. It demands great insight on the teacher's part, and great patience with specially difficult children, especially in large classes. Yet it is the specially difficult child who so often may have unusually creative or other special gifts.

The other half of the question which your Lordships have already discussed is what to do with the specially gifted child when we have discovered him. Do we segregate him in special institutions, or do we allow him to mix? I must say that, like my noble friend Lord Carrington and others who have spoken, I feel that it is right that they should mix where possible, except in those cases where the necessary education, or even in some cases the training, is not available to the necessary pitch of excellence at normal schools. This covers the cases of the Royal Ballet School and the Yehudi Menuhin school. But other than that, it seems to me that our present educational framework is adequate to cope with the needs of children of outstanding academic ability, provided that we nurture carefully and encourage the academic tradition of our best grammar schools and independent schools. It is also important that these traditions are carried on in the upper forms of the comprehensive schools.

I was interested in an article in the Western Mail only yesterday, where a Welsh teacher, a Mr. John Harris, who has just spent a year in North Carolina on an exchange-teacher scheme concludes his report by saying: What can we learn from the Charlotte Mecklenburg system? Mainly that comprehensive education can be successful but that we must strive to maintain traditional values within such a system. I am sure that it is in our best grammar schools and independent schools that the right atmosphere exists for the specially gifted child. There are, on the one hand, teachers of high academic ability, a tradition of scholarship and the facilities for study; and, on the other hand, a mixture of more ordinary mortals with whom they will have to live out their lives.

Some interesting research has been done by various people, one being a Mr. J. B. Shields, principal lecturer in education at St. John's College, York, who came to the conclusion that gifted children are, on the whole, healthy, energetic, cheerful, sociable, popular and regarded as leaders. They should therefore, be well able to mix with the rest of the community. If, however, there are those whose intellectual brilliance has dimmed their social faculties, and it is important that they should be shielded from the often unintentional cruelty of their fellows, I still think that this can be better done within the normal school. Taking the parallel case of the handicapped child, most psychologists would agree that wherever possible they should be integrated into a normal school rather than be taught in a separate institution. I should think that that would be true, too, of the most gifted, although that is not to rule out the possibility of experiment.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London drew attention to another recommendation of the Plowden Report, on the insufficient flexibility in the Ages of transfer at each stage of education. I believe that this is a valuable recommendation, that the decision should be made after consultation between teachers and parents, but that due attention should be paid to the danger that children who are intellectually advanced may be considered ready for early transfer and that it was important to take their overall development into account.

I cannot help feeling that perhaps the best solution in the field of the primary school would be a reduction in class sizes to a maximum of nearer 30, so that the teacher has a better chance of giving" individual attention. There is no doubt that more research is needed; and I was pleased to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, of the Schools Council Working Party that is to study the question. Ideally, it seems to me that almost every individual child needs a special school of his own to meet his particular needs. If we cannot give him a special school, then surely the next best thing is to provide a flexible system capable of meeting as many individual needs as possible. For that reason, I believe that it is very important to retain our best grammar schools and independent schools.

Changing the system is not what is required; it is the parents and the teachers within the system who can do most to recognise and solve the problems of the gifted child.

I would end with some words of Sir Cyril Burt, who himself has contributed so much to solving this problem. He said: In the long run it is the highly intelligent few who can confer the greatest benefits on the less intelligent many—including, it may be, in a time of crisis, the gift of life itself.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to those that have been expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for introducing this debate, and for doing so in a way which was so civilised and which took away points of controversy which are not in the least relevant to this discussion. But having said that, I must say that I have been somewhat surprised at the tone that the debate has taken: first, the air of surprise, as though this were the first time in English history that we had ever even thought about gifted children. Nothing could be more untrue. In fact, there has been much wrong with English education. We have been very bad at educating the working class at all times, though in fact we have been slightly better than most countries in Western Europe. But the one thing that we have been good at for 150 years is educating the gifted, particularly those above a certain social level. For that we have earned the admiration of the world. People have studied our techniques. The Russian special schools owe a great deal to English influence. It seems to me quite astonishing that we should approach this with an air of mild stupefaction.

The second thing which has surprised me is the air of gentle autumnal melancholy which has settled on the House as this discussion has gone on, not as though we were discussing clever children but the question of euthanasia. Indeed, if we come to euthanasia it will probably be because we are so bad at getting excited and proud about things that we should be excited and proud about. There is no need to be over compassionate about clever children. On the whole, their lives are extremely enviable. It is perfectly true, as the right reverend Prelate has said, that some slip by the way. Some have brilliant promise and then finally fade out. That is very sad, but though it happens it is also rather unusual. When I meet the clever young I do not feel this air of consummate pity; I feel something like envy. Why am I not 17 again, and why was I not as good at 17 as they are now?

However, this is a real problem, but not in the sense that it should make us sad. We ought to direct our minds and try to do something quickly and certainly, for the only chance this country has of making a contribution in the world in, say, a generation is first by our having a reasonable social structure, fairer than now, and secondly because of the efforts of the very small number of children whom we are now considering. There is no other way in which a country of this size can gain esteem throughout the world.

The numbers that I myself was thinking of were slightly less than those that have been thrown into the debate. I was thinking more of a figure like 10,000 gifted children than 60,000. It does not matter very much; the differences are not serious; but I was trying to define these gifted children as people who could do something which no one else is likely to do; that is, people who will make some creative contribution to the world when they are mature—artists, scientists, technologists, and perhaps at the highest level administrators. These are the people whom we ought to consider. We ought to be proud of them, and it is vitally important we should not waste them.

We ought to realise, however, that in discussing gifted children we are actually discussing very different things—even if we confine ourselves to the 10,000 people. There are, first, people with a very marked specific gift. Mathematics and music are the two obvious examples. Mathematicians can usually be spotted extremely early. These difficulties of identification have been grossly overplayed in this debate. I notice that Mr. Botham, who was associated with the Association of Gifted Children and whom the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has quoted, was saying that in his class at some primary school he had a Hindu girl of six who showed remarkable promise at mathematics. I am sure Mr. Botham is right. Mathematics can usually be positively identified extremely early; and I am inclined to think that negatively you can estimate it earlier still. I believe that one can easily decide that somebody is not going to be any good at mathematics when he is at the age of about three. Here I can speak without partiality, because I happen to be not very good, and my family are even worse, in this particular subject. Music and mathematics I suspect one can identify fairly early.

I was impressed by the reference made by the noble Lord. Lord Annan, to Dr. Ruth Railton. On the other hand, the executive musicians I have spoken to, particularly the Russians, would give a contrary figure; they think the gift can normally be found early. However, you are going to make some mistakes. Occasionally you are going to miss somebody who is good, and probably more often you are going to pick somebody who is not going to be very good. But that price must be paid. Life is not certain. No selection has been certain in human history, and it is not going to come easy to us now.

Then there are other kinds of gift. Physical gifts, like ballet dancing, are easily identifiable; most athletic gifts are usually easily identifiable. The one area —as the Americans would call it—where I am in doubt is the area of what might be called very high general intelligence, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred. I have not the faith in intelligence tests which most of my friends tend to possess. At the top level I believe they mean something, and I should be worried if anyone I was concerned with had an I.Q. below about 110; but between the 110 and the extreme limits the measurement does not seem to me very accurate, and probably will not be in its present form. I think it is too dependent upon environment, among other things.

However, there is another difficulty. Even if we assume that we can measure high intelligence at an early age, I am much less certain about what I should do with the people blessed with a particular gift. But I shall come to that later. Let us talk for a moment about the parts of the problem which are easy. The easiest, I think, is dealing with mathematics; it is very easy to identify, and quite easy to know what you have got to do. The Russians have thought about this very seriously and in a far more practical way than anything we tend to do. They have what they called literally "a search for talent" which began in the early 1960s, not under the guidance of educationists but under the guidance of people who actually did the stuff themselves—the mathematicians, the physicists.

They said, "Look, we have an admirable comprehensive system. We are teaching everyone in the Soviet Union, and everyone is literate; yet we are not producing the creative talent we should for a country of this size with all the investment we have made in education. Something is wrong." Being in an influential position in Soviet society and men of strong will, they got their way and they started a set of special schools. Most of these were originally for mathematics, although they are now extending the idea. They were selected by an old-fashioned English device, of which your Lordships will have heard, known as " competitive examinations ", and this was done usually at the age of about 15.

Boys and girls were recruited from the whole comprehensive system of the Soviet Union. Certain allowances had to be made for, or a bias given to, people from rural Russia, where in some places, remember, it is fairly difficult to get to a school within about 100 miles. For this reason people who have been imperfectly educated up to 15 are allowed a certain weight of marks—and, incidentally, have sometimes become something of a problem. The rest are selected by something rather like a very much more difficult English "0" level, or a slightly less difficult "A" level paper.

They are then sent to boarding schools, normally of between 300 and 400— rather about the size of Westminster. Indeed, if we keep a physical picture of Westminster in mind it comes close enough to what the Russians have done. Some of them will come from the deep country and so will be boarders for the whole term; others 'will come from Moscow, Kiev, or Leningrad, or whatever the town is, and they will board in the week and go home at week-ends. There they have not particularly specialised in mathematical education, but have aimed at a good general education, with a considerable emphasis on mathematics—rather less specialised, I think, than ordinary sixth-form mathematics in England.

The real secret of this system is not the specialisation, and not the teaching (the teaching is better because it is possible to get a concentration of teachers, which is valuable): the real secret is bringing people of high ability in contact with other people of high ability. Clever people educate each other. It is useful to have better teaching, but more important is to have someone like yourself who really does speak your language and gets the best out of you. I am sure that that is what we have to think of.

I do not care where we put such schools. Put them as parts of independent schools; parts of indirect grant schools; or, if you like (though I would not advise it), let us make special schools ourselves. But I am quite sure that the actual environment of these gifted children must throw them in contact with each other. It is no use distributing either very bright children or very good teachers in penny packets. One child in Tewkesbury, one child in Dursley, one child in Melton Mowbray, would be nothing like as good as those three put together; and exactly the same goes for the teaching apparatus. I am sure that that is the lesson we have to keep in mind above anything else.

There are some difficulties and some prices that have to be paid for this sort of effort. The first is that the competition will be severe, and some people are going to suffer from it. Anything which is worth while in the high academic world carries a certain penalty, and those who cannot stand the pace will be bitterly disappointed. Do not let us fool ourselves about that. If we are over-compassionate, however, we shall not educate anyone at all; and that would be even worse.

The second difficulty is that, on the whole, though very gifted children do not need our pity—they are better than we are, more capable and better at looking after themselves—they tend to be rather more highly charged than the rest of us, and so there are certain moderately serious psychological problems. They tend to be very self-willed; and they tend to have the proper arrogance that the young should have, but it can get them into difficulties. From what I have seen of Soviet schools I would think that their problems are much the same as ours.

But that pattern, I am quite sure, is a sensible pattern, not to he repeated in terms of attaching a school to say, Imperial College, but using the concept that you get the best out of people by selecting the high ability and putting them together. When you have done that, it does not matter very much where you put them or how you do it. Then we come to slightly more tricky problems. I think that ballet people, dancers and so on, will have to go to special schools; again, probably, attached to a large school. I am also fairly sure that really good performers in physical things—athletics and so on—must go to a very big school, where there is an enormous number of people to draw from. That would never be possible by having a "tidy" school of 300 boys or girls.

Then what do we do with people with a very high general I.Q.—what the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, called "all-round geniuses "? Here I cannot speak with such certainty. My guess is that they, too, need the company of their peers, of their like at this kind of age, but with them there would be no case whatever for a special school. They ought to be part of one largish unit, and with enough interplay from their equals, or their betters, to bring the best out of them.

These problems are not difficult, compared with those that we usually talk about in this House. The problems are child's play. Three things arc needed:first, recognising the problem and knowing that decisions should be made; secondly, a certain quite elementary skill in educational administration; and, thirdly, a little money—not very much. Compared with the possible results, the amount of money is trivial. Then, with any luck, we shall have done something which we have not done for time enough. We are all getting much too depressed. We have not much to be proud of, but the whole world is going through a depressive phase. The problems look too difficult for any of us, and sensible and sensitive people in all the countries I know are going through a melancholy period. But this is something we can do. The creative activities of human kind are one of the very few things in human kind of which we can be proud. This is one of the things that makes human kind human. Let us do something to encourage the best things in human beings, the things that make men splendid, so that, just for once, we can pat ourselves, and this country, on the back.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, I join with other speakers in expressing appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for giving us the opportunity of discussing this issue this afternoon. The debate has produced a list of speakers among whom, as is usual on these occasions, are experts who speak from a wide experience and a profound knowledge. They make me very conscious indeed that I am very much a layman in the service of education, and such part as I have been able to play has been as a school manager or governor and a member of a local education authority.

It is from helpful contact with, and the friendship of, many teachers that I have gained such understanding as I may have, and received encouragement to try to help secure conditions where every child will have a fair and equal chance to develop to his or her full potential. These, the teachers, the advisers and the inspectors, are the practitioners who, in so many cases, have pioneered to meet the needs of children, including those with special gifts. It seems to me this afternoon that some recognition is due to what has already been achieved in this country, particularly in our primary schools.

I make no apology for returning to the Plowden Report, because it is practically the text book on which many of the speeches this afternoon have been based. Paragraph 868 of the Report states: Most of us are confident that it is possible to provide satisfactorily for the majority of gifted children in the kind of primary school described throughout the Report. Every step taken by the Secretary of State for Education and Science towards the implementation of the Plowden Report is the better for all children among whom are the gifted. The Plowden Report stimulated a number of L.E.A.s to investigate the particular needs of exceptionally gifted children, and how schools should provide for them. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, mentioned the Oxfordshire Education Committee. They appointed a Steering Committee, To look into the special provision made in primary, grammar and comprehensive schools for this type of child. Their Report, issued in 1967, makes very useful and interesting reading, along with the Report on Education, No. 48.

In considering the needs of gifted children, one is faced with the problem of defining this particular quality, "gifted". Exactly what do we mean by it? Despite all that has been said this afternoon, I think no one will feel that we have as yet a complete and !final definition. Gertrude Hildreth in her book, Introduction to the Gifted, list; no fewer than 65 characteristics for evaluating giftedness, and the book, The Gifted Child, by J. B. Shields, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred also deals with this question of giftedness.

There is also the question of the age, or ages, at which giftedness emerges, and, again, it is quite clear from what has gone before this afternoon that we know little about the size of the problem. The,Oxfordshire Steering Committee mentioned a figure of less than half of I per cent., whereas Sir William Alexander in his book, Towards a new Education Act, gives us a figure of some 2 per cent. The more one thinks about the size of the problem—and I have listened to what has been said this afternoon—the more it becomes clear that nobody has a very clear idea of what it is. When our primary schools are as good as they can be, when each child gets the personal attention it needs, when it gets the 'help that it ought to have—first, in recognising the nature of its need, and then the appropriate assistance to overcome whatever handicap it has, whether that handicap is psychological, physical or social—then I think we are going to be surprised at the potential that will be revealed.

One thing we should continually hear in mind—and it is a point which has been made a number of times this afternoon—is that the gifted child need; to be integrated with society as fully as possible; and, while recognising that there are cases of brilliant children who, as Plowden puts it, need subject-matter beyond the normal range, need a richer curriculum, need to go deeper and wiser, and who must have and use the resources which this implies, I would advocate that these resources should be made available, so far as possible, within the framework of the normal school. For it seems to me that isolation is not the best way of helping the growing child to "get on " with ordinary children and to live a full life within a normal community. Again, Plowden is pretty direct: …the majority of us believe that the English system of primary education at its best is better adapted than any other we have seen to provide for the needs of the gifted individual, without segregating him". There are, of course, the very special gifts—they have already been mentioned —such as music and ballet; and here I would take leave to mention that the authority of which I am a member makes awards for Saturday classes at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and the Trinity College of Music. We also have a County Youth Orchestra which spends a week during the Easter vacation living together at a boarding school, as it has done this year at the Royal Alexandra and Alfred School at Gatton, practising and rehearsing; and on the last day they put on a concert which I believe gave them as much pleasure as it did those of us privileged to listen. I believe that these are useful developments, and I think a welcome should be given to even more of them.

My Lords, I believe that our primary schools are so good because they cater for just about the full ability range. If our secondary schools were as comprehensive in their intake and as comprehensive in catering for the needs of all children, then gifted children would be recognised and would be catered for in them just as adequately as they are in cur primary schools. If we accept that intelligence, emotional feeling and physical development do not mature all at the same pace, I think that perhaps we shall appreciate the need of the gifted child to be integrated with the society in which he grows and has his being. I cannot equate the problem of the gifted child with that of the E.S.N. child. In so far as we have a problem, it is, as I see it, mainly a matter of having schools where special need is first recognised and then catered for; and this means, above all else, having the teachers. This seems to me beyond question to be the greatest need of all. It is, as J. B. Shields put it in The Gifted Child: …imperative that the teacher should be sensitive to the abilities and interests of gifted children, and should be competent to decide on the best method of helping them to develop those abilities. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, we have to look to colleges of education and university institutes as far as the teachers of tomorrow are concerned, but I think we also have to look to-day to our schools councils td develop" in-service" training for those already serving professionally. The Report on Education No. 48, dealing with the qualities one finds in a good sixth form or infant teacher, says: The essential element was learning, not teaching, and the teacher should devise situations in which learning could take place at optimal rate. This was true for all pupils some of the time, but for gifted children most of it. We should take account in in-service ' training of the need to provide for the extremes of ability in comprehensive schools ". I have been glad to learn (or to have had it confirmed by the noble Lord. Lord Kennet, this afternoon) of the setting up of a Working Party to consider the teaching of gifted children in primary schools; and I have taken some pleasure, too, in noting the rather impressive list of people who have been invited to serve on it. One point to which I would draw the noble Lord's attention is that there appear to be not many women on it, if any at all; and since so many of the heads of our primary schools—and successful heads—are women, I should have thought that they might well have had a very considerable contribution to make. I hope that that aspect will be looked into in the very near future. But I believe that by such means—the setting up of working parties such as this—lies the way in which we can really make progress, and I trust that we shall hear in the not too distant future that another Working Party has been set up to cover secondary schools.

My Lords, in conclusion I would ask your Lordships' indulgence while I quote what one of the practitioners in the service of education said to me quite recently. I am quoting Elizabeth Adams, secretary of the Surrey Schools Council, who has spent considerable periods studying the system in America, who understands the system in Russia and who has travelled far and wide. She put it in this way:

Giftedness can emerge in any family, and the extent to which it flourishes or is stifled is unknown. What is known is that optimum learning conditions prevail where understanding of concepts rather than assimilation of facts is emphasised, and where tolerance is extended to individual forms of thinking and expression. In considering giftedness we are thinking of the flowering of the human spirit, not of training racehorses".

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I, like everyone, feel a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord who has introduced this immensely important subject. I say "immensely important" because the kind of young people we are discussing, whether they represent 0.1 per cent. or 5 per cent. (and we do not seem very sure what number we are discussing), were described many years ago by a great American psychologist as " a nation's most precious asset ". So, like Lord Snow, I felt—I have been feeling all the afternoon—a slight surprise (it has been very salutary for me) at the number of noble Lords who have said that really this is a subject that we know nothing about.

I have a personal reason to be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for raising this subject, for of all the subjects which your Lordships might discuss this is the one which—I would not say I knew most about, but on which I thought, on the whole, I was least ignorant. In my twelve years at Winchester and sixteen at Manchester I had the privilege of teaching people, a considerable number of whom were quite clearly a great deal cleverer than I am. It was an experience that could have been embarrassing. In fact, it was more rewarding than I can say; for, although they knew it, and I knew it, there was a conspiracy of silence between the two parties. It is on the basis of that experience that I want to make a few observations this afternoon, although I have come to realise that those twenty-odd years in teaching able people were based, apparently, on the most profound degree of ignorance. That is probably right, too.

At all events, I want, if I may, to speak initially about three points of view which are, to me, fundamental errors that we must avoid. The first arises from a mixture of modesty and loose thinking. Those who discuss educational questions, or indeed serious ideas, at all rationally are normally themselves highly intelligent. They meet highly intelligent people, and they thus lose their sense of proportion and forget that they are, in fact, themselves abnormal. I remember once talking to that very great man, Hugh Gaitskell, about these things. He referred to his own old school as" intellectually comprehensive". I pointed out to him, as a hard, statistical, proven fact, that it contained very few boys indeed who were not in the top f per cent. of the population and not many who were not in a very much smaller group. But it was impossible for so modest a man to face the fact that he was indeed very odd, intellectually—just as it is impossible, if I may say so, for many of your Lordships to face that fact. Applied to a man like that—indeed, to many of your Lordships—phrases like " very average " or " really a very stupid man" mean simply that he is not in the top 2 or 3 per cent. of the population.

In the last war, for example, it was the case that an overwhelming proportion of the officers had intelligences in the top 5 to 10 per cent. of the population; and those who were officers in the technical arms were most commonly in the top 2 per cent. Yet, judging from my experience of them, many of those young men would have been incredulous, and indeed sometimes resentful, if one had applied to them the word "intellectual" though that is what they were. If we are to develop rational policies in this field we must impose some real rigour on our thinking and on our terminology, difficult though it may be.

My Lords, the second heresy is to say that the very clever can teach themselves; that it does not matter what you do to them. There is enough truth in this to make it particularly dangerous. It is true that the really outstanding intellectual will probably reach his objective without much teaching—although sometimes at a very considerable psychological cost to himself. Anyway, why make the road hard? The man a ho won a Nobel Prize at the age of 38 and who was for a short time one of my first pupils, when I began teaching, would still have got his prize without the small intervention that I made in his education.

But we are not talking only about those really supremely clever individuals—at least I am not; we are talking also about those who are perhaps just a little way below those dazzling heights. They can certainly be helped by appropriate teaching; and not only by teaching but, as one or two noble Lords (including, principally, Lord Snow) pointed out, but by talking to others as good as themselves. We have heard ad nauseam the fragment of folklore which says that Winston Churchill was bottom of the bottom form at Harrow; that there is no such thing as intelligence, or something like that. The reasons were that he was being taught subjects that he hated by, I suspect, not very sympathetic and probably not very good teachers. Yet even as remarkable a talent as his could, I know, have been happier and helped forward in its phenomenal development by the right kind of educational treatment.

But the real danger of this heresy about the very clever teaching themselves lies in its social implications. The very able person can often educate himself if he comes from a home full of books—as the great women at the end of the 19th century did: people like Virginia Woolf —from a home where he will hear rational conversations. If you can follow up some of the most interesting psychological work that has been on this subject you will find that the sheer differences of vocabulary between kinds of homes are one of the determining factors in intellectual development. And not only conversations; but anything—if, for example, he comes from a home where he sees Sir Kenneth Clark rather than " The Lucy Show on television. The fact that the home environment in some ways is much more important than school has actually been guessed at by some teachers for many years. Many of them have faced, and where necessary fought, that situation with all their might. The belief is now receiving the most elaborate experimental justification by the work of Douglas and others. But it is not so much a new discovery as a hunch. It is not something that can be put right by educational means alone. It can he put right by all-round social service, by social improvement, by Seebohm, and so on.

The very gifted child from a culturally impoverished home suffers an ever-increasing handicap; and it becomes greater as he grows older, as Douglas has shown. The best hope that we can offer him is to diagnose his exceptional needs and make provision for them—and to do this as soon as possible lest the scars of cultural starvation become ineradicable. We must ask ourselves what would have happened to my Nobel Prizewinner had he been brought up in a home without a book in it or played in the streets half the night. We can read Sir Ernest Barker's autobiography and wonder whether, if Manchester Grammar School had not then existed, the background of an unbelievably limited little home in Cheshire would have produced the future editor of Aristotle's Politics. The much abused—perhaps rightly abused —11-plus with its attempt to diagnose not attainment but innate ability at a fairly early age was—and still is, where it exists —the most equalitarian element in our educational system, however much we may dislike it or disapprove of it. If it is a dangerous half-truth to say that the clever can educate themselves, it is a cruel falsehood if we embody it in a national policy that will frustrate the very talented child from the less-educated home.

The third fallacy is one that has already been gone over and over, and I will not elaborate it. It is that it is perfectly proper to diagnose high ability in dancing, music or athletics and to make special provision for intensive—sometimes too intensive—training; but that if we extend this idea to those with unusual intellectual ability then the operation becomes undemocratic and morally indefensible. That is the fallacy. That great scientist and educator, J. B. Conant, said about American education years ago: The citizen has been loth until recently to admit the reality of talent.… Only in matters connected with organised sport does the average American think clearly and realistically about the significance of innate ability. Or, again from Conant: We have long been accustomed to discover the unusual boy or girl in the artistic field, and we are providing more and more for the education of such talent within the school. But relatively little is done along parallel lines for those who have comparable talents in languages or mathematics. Yet how much society has to gain by the early recognition of such people and their adequate education. Those words were written more than twenty years ago about the United States; and they were the starting point for a massive improvement, led by Conant himself among others, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said, was bringing America closer to what England has been in certain ways. But my own fear—and I am one of Lord Annan's, if not pessimists, slightly uncertain people—is that in twenty years those words of Conant may be true of this country.

I am obviously not opposed to the special provision for æsthetically gifted children. I welcome it. I am simply concerned, with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who initiated this debate, to see that the same principles are applied to all gifted children. And if it is suggested, as it sometimes is, that whereas very high ability in æsthetic fields is easy to diagnose at an early stage, although the same kind of ability in mathematics, science or the Humanities is not, I can only say that as regards the very high ability ranges that we are discussing—I am discussing 5 per cent—this is simply not true. I say that an early diagnosis of high ability of considerable accuracy is possible, not only because I have seen it done for years, but because reputable experimental work in the field over many years, beginning with Terman, confirms it.

These, then, are the three major fallacies of which we have to be aware when discussing this subject. What must we do if we are to meet the challenge of this debate, both in the interests of the individual child and of the nation? Various solutions are being tried. In the United States there is a variety of "enrichment" programmes—some of us have seen them at work—by which special teaching is given to a very bright minority. There is the device of "acceleration", by which a boy or girl may be moved to a class two or three years beyond their contemporaries in age. One can read about these and other devices in the voluminous American literature and realise that none of them is really satisfactory, so that the United States is accepting increasingly the idea of the selective school. Certainly in this country they would not be easy to work as a final solution, although, of course modified forms of them have been used for many years—streaming is one device and we are using it. Because the insuperable difficulty with which we are faced is this.

I have said that it is a stimulating experience to teach someone who is clearly cleverer than oneself. But if the gap is too wide, stimulus is replaced by anxiety on the part of the teacher and boredom on the part of the pupil. You cannot simply teach people one page ahead, if you do not have the ability to get away with even that. We must face the fad that only a very small number of teachers are knowledgeable enough to educate the most able pupils in their specialist subjects let alone foster their general intellectual development. We should not simply talk to our pupils about a subject we are supposed to be teaching. Without any selective schools at all, the majority of pupils must inevitably be without staff in certain subjects to educate them to a sufficiently high standard to keep them intellectually satisfied. This, of course, is the real danger of the comprehensive school, because it diffuses this rarest of talents instead of bringing the minority who can profit from those talents to the talents. In the last resort teaching must be our major consideration when we come to formulating policies, and I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Annan, emphasise that point.

My Lords, you may say, "Why should schools go on attempting to reach such an artificially high intellectual level?". The obvious answer is that unless they do, university courses will have to be extended to an extent that we cannot afford A much more important answer is to say that it is educationally valuable for the kind of boy or girl we are now discussing to have the chance of grappling, even at 16 or 17, with difficult and demanding ideas, and without this chance nothing but frustration will follow.

What then do I propose? I realise that this very simple proposition, which in a way has already been mentioned, will not appeal to the majority of your Lordships. I believe, simply, that the problem of the child who is outstanding in academic achievement must be recognised, as in other fields; and I believe that we should quite openly and honestly recognise the need for there to be some schools adapted in their whole character, and above all in the quality of their staff, to teach the top 4 per cent. to 5 per cent. of the population. Such an arrangement would have a number of solid advantages; the fact that the numbers involved would be small would remove a great deal of the resentment at the creaming of other kinds of schools; the fact that it is much easier to select that top 4 per cent. or 5 per cent. statistically than to get into the troubled waters of bunching around 20 per cent. There would then be less of that cloud of injustice that always tends to obscure any selection process in life.

I believe that such a scheme, the separate education of the top 4 per cent. or 5 per cent., would actually strengthen the comprehensive schools. Here I want to make a very definite point. I am not, as I have done in the past, speaking against the whole idea of comprehensive schools. I would say that I am now prepared to agree that for the great majority of children such schools are the best answer, provided—as Mr. Crosland pointed out many years ago in The Future of Socialism—they are properly designed, staffed and equipped.

But comprehensive schools must inevitably find it very difficult, if not impossible, to deal adequately with the small minority of quite exceptionally gifted children, just as they do with the minority of exceptionally backward ones. Because of this crucial factor of teacher supply, the kind of organisation which I am proposing would actually strengthen these schools by making it easier for them to do their main job, rather than devoting a disproportionate amount of time and effort in attempting to do something which, by the evidence of simple arithmetic, they cannot do well because the staff is not there. It would strengthen them because it would remove from the minds of many of us doubts about the ability of those schools to deal with this precious minority that we are discussing to-day.

The irony of the situation is that we, more than any other country in the world, already have provision for the education of the very able which we are busily engaged in threatening, if not actually dismantling. We can read in the massive Year Book of Education for the year 1961, which is entirely devoted to the subject we are now discussing, about steps which other countries are taking to create what we already possess. In the large cities we have the direct grant or local education authority grammar schools. Some, if by no means all, can and should—as some do now—specialise on the very intelligent minority. We have, moreover, boarding schools of which some, though once again by no means all, are organised precisely to give this kind of academic education which the very gifted child needs but does not at present receive if he lives in an area where a very selective day school is inaccessible.

We need not enter into the ambiguities and contradictions of the Public Schools Commission on Boarding Schools or discuss the difficulties now facing the Donnison Commission on direct grant and independent schools. If only we could agree that in general the comprehensive school, when properly founded, will serve the needs of the great majority, but that to give reality to the purpose of fitting the education to the child the general comprehensive idea has to be supplemented by schools, both day and boarding, which should specialise in the education of the extremely talented minority, it would represent, I believe, a practical and possible solution to many of our doubts, difficulties and misgivings.

We know the grounds on which such a scheme is criticised. Perhaps the most important is that it will create a new élite of talent, instead of previous élites of birth or money. Many of your Lord-ships will have read that amusing squib, The Rise of the Meritocracy, and those who have not have heard the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, give us a watered down version of it. The truth, in my view, is that in society we must have people who have the ability to do difficult and intellectually demanding jobs and to think the new ideas. This is getting steadily more difficult as the world gets more complicated.

Is it so wrong to hope that those who have power—and in any society there must be an elite with power—will be intelligent rather than stupid? Is it not realistic to believe that their special educational needs should be considered, if they are to cope with a world growing ever more difficult to control? I would assert, too, that there is actually less chance of an inhumane arrogance developing in a school where the very able is working with his peers than in one where a tiny minority clearly outclass their contemporaries in all too obvious ways. We have heard of hothouse communities being undesirable. I find it difficult to believe that any visitor to Manchester Grammar School could ever have regarded it as a hothouse community or thought that some of those solid Lancashire boys going home to live, in many cases in back streets in places like Swinton, were sheltered from the world.

There are, as I have said and as we all know, schools which have great experience in the education of the very gifted. Let us encourage them. Let us change them in so far as they need change, so that they are ever more accessible to the child from the poor home. Let us even be proud of them, for a civilisation that ceases to cherish its most intelligent citizens, from whatever class they may come, that neglects or frustrates their talents, is in danger of economic decline, as Thomas Jefferson—and he was a democrat if ever there was one—reminded his new country two centuries ago. It is, more importantly, in danger of doing a great injustice to some of the individuals who compose it and, worst of all, it is in danger of an impoverishment of its cultural and moral life.

5.34 p.m.


; My Lords, first I would apologise for not being here at the beginning of this debate. Some time ago I had accepted an invitation to speak to Edgware Rotary Club about the work of your Lordships' House and I thought that I ought not to throw over that engagement. I would say here that I did not echo the sentiments of the noble Lord Lord James of Rusholme, who described many noble Lords as "odd". It was a coincidence that at that Edgware meeting I found there was also a prize-giving for an essay competition for local children. They came with their headmaster to receive their prizes. It is a tradition of that club to encourage the children of the neighbourhood, and I think this shows that education is not just something which is the responsibility of school teachers but something in which all of us can help in different ways.

I want to speak briefly on one subject; music; something which I think may well contribute more to human happiness as life becomes ever more complicated and technical even than in centuries past. Music has been mentioned by other speakers but mainly with reference to the education of children of exceptional musical gifts, such as are catered for by the school at Hampslead. But there is another experiment to which I should like to refer, at the Chetham's Hospital School, Manchester, which deserves great attention and which, if successful, could well be duplicated in other parts of the country. The Chetham's Hospital School is an ancient and honourable foundation, technically described to-day as an independent day and boarding grammar school. It has a musical tradition and serves as the choir school for Manchester Cathedral. Like many small schools of this tradition and background, they find the going hard, but instead of letting themselves disappear or be absorbed into the increasingly uniform State system they have reorganised themselves as a junior school for music; but at the same time providing a school with a high general academic standard for 350 pupils. They will employ music as a basic discipline, rather in the same way as many schools until recently used the classics as the basic discipline for their education.

This is an experiment in this country and may seem novel, but in other countries, notably Hungary, it is something quite normal. It may well become important to (his country, in that it offers opportunities which choir schools serving our cathedrals have provided to date but may be able to do in future only on a decreasing scale. Choir schools are in difficulties owing to the great expense of maintaining them (I know of two which have recently closed down); and what a loss to our musical life this will be, not least since many of our great singers have attended these schools; in their youth!

While some sides of our musical life, dominated by foreign schools of music, are flourishing here, thanks to huge Arts Council grants, our cathedral choirs, I venture to think, are the best in the world and have never had a shilling of such subsidy to depend on. So I would end on a plea that if our choir schools are to find the times too difficult, we must soon develop some other way of giving not only such exceptional children but other children, too, such a musical education as they seek, and at the same time enrich the lives of us all.

5.39 p.m.


My Lords, like other noble Lords, I want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for not only giving us an opportunity for this discussion but for the temperate and, for me, inspiring way he opened the debate. The noble Lord gave me my guide lines, which I had rather lost—I still do not know what we are really talking about, but I am grateful for the noble Lord's phrase "the originals". These are the people we are talking about; those who have the capacity to initiate and to be original, and not be just run of the mill. The 0.1 per cent. becomes dangerous. To that category belong Lord Kennet's "Hampdenshire Wonder", Olaf Stapledon's "Odd John", and Baby Weems, who, according to Walt Disney, instead of squalling when he was born started talking Greek.

But this raises a very important question. We are trying to define what we mean by gifted children—not merely children who are capable of finding their way intellectually even under the structure of a tight system, or able to take advantage of either Winchester or Manchester Grammar Schools. We are now talking about something not only very rare but also highly sensitive, and dangerous to meddle with. I would much rather have a free-run genius than battery-fed intelligence. I do not believe that we should put people into hutches simply to cultivate what we think is the nature of their intelligence. They are the originals. What we are doing is not trying to temper their higher gifts of intelligence; we are trying to liberate their personalities. If we measure their intelligence simply by what we in fact can get out of them, then we completely underestimate the capacity they have for giving us the leadership for which we are really looking.

This is not a question of simply following the line of trying to see what the system must be in order to equip people for the things we are describing. The noble Lord, Lord James, asked, in effect, what is the community going to get back? I have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. This is an investment we are putting in. But the people we are talking about are the originals, who will contribute something which we cannot even specify. We cannot define it economically; we cannot define it inspirationally; we cannot measure it. We can only release it. If that is not what we are talking about, then we are talking about something which comes in the normal scope of an intelligent educational system. We are not talking about precocity; we are not talking about the infant prodigies, who can be recognisable either from my noble friend Lord Snow's prescription or from the definitions of intelligence laid down by the noble Lord, Lord James. We are talking about people who manifest themselves in the extraordinary ways in which a highly gifted intelligence manifests itself.

So far as I am concerned, one can have a slow developer who in fact fits into this definition. In the absence of my noble friend Lord Snow, I am loth to question this, but I am extremely doubtful whether it is possible to recognise generally mathematical talent at an immature age. I think it is possible to see the manifestations of a capacity to count and to demonstrate, but the people we are looking for in the mathematical world, the inspirational leaders of the mathematical world, are in fact the people who are the poets, who cannot be recognised at the age of three. Mathematical poetry will manifest itself much later. Therefore, we are being asked to make certain prescriptions about what we can expect to find showing itself at an early age.

What we have to be extremely sensitive of, and what the whole teaching profession has to be wise about, is recognising the innate or hidden qualities which manifest themselves as something rather awkward; the thing which teachers resent. The maverick in the class of 40 is extremely difficult, and also non-conformist; and the behaviour of a child who is more intelligent than his teacher is, as the noble Lord, Lord James, very modestly pointed out, rather embarrassing. We must recognise also that there is not only inherited intelligence; there is acquired intelligence. The point has been made that people brought up in an intellectual, stimulating home are likely to manifest qualities that will demonstrate themselves not as something due to heredity but as something encouraged by the circumstances of their environment. We may have lost a lot of "mute inglorious Miltons". I think we have. I think that has been the result of poverty and the lack of opportunity, and not just a question of the subject that we are discussing to-day—how we can organise our educational system to meet their needs.

This programme of what I have called the battery-fed intelligence gives me great anxiety. I am flatly against segregation. I believe that the child who is likely to be this genius or latent genius that we are talking about—this embarrassing character that we cannot define—is going to be crippled by segregation: because unless these children can adapt, or we can help them to adapt, to what would be the normal circumstances in which they are going to live, then they will be extremely unhappy and disorientated; and, perhaps even worse, they may indeed be reduced to breakdown. We know that this is the case. We know that people have been forced out of circumstances in which they might have led a normal existence into a highly intensive system. I may say, in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, that Scottish education did quite a lot of this, according to David Henderson, the psychiatrist. Scotland has enormous advantages. We have been trying to do this for 400 years. But we did pick them out and put them through this intensively; and in fact we exposed them to unfamiliar social circumstances in the world in which they were going to live, and we crippled them. We have produced intellectual cripples because we have not encouraged them to develop certain of their faculties, and we have incapacitated them in finding their way in the wider world. There is a defensive mechanism.

Norbert Wiener, to whom we owe cybernetics and the whole introduction of computers, has written a book called I Was an Infant Prodigy. It is a tragic book; and he knew it was a tragic book. He was one of these people who was readily identified as an infant prodigy, and was treated as such; and his defensive mechanism was to become appallingly absent-minded. Indeed, there is a story about Norbert Wiener that he was going off to the M.I.T. one day and his wife said: "Now don't forget, Norman, we are moving to-day, and we shall have moved before you come home." He went to the M.I.T. He came home, went to his house and found it locked and empty. He went down the stairs where some little girls were playing hop-scotch, and said to one of the little girls: "Excuse me, but can you tell me what | happened to the people who used to live in that house?" And the little girl said: "Mummy told you this morning".

There are many other ways, far from what my noble friend Lord Snow suggested, by which we can encourage the recognition without pursuing the selection—and by "the selection" I mean the imposed selective process. If people can be moved into groups in which they are able to confine their interests within the school, and into extra curricula activities—as we do quite substantially now—and if we can bring them in contact with their kind, with their interests and so on, as we can do, then we begin to stimulate and encourage, and give them the satisfaction and courage of their own convictions. But, again, I think it would be very dangerous to produce not only a highly selected élite, but an insulated, an hermitic, élite, a monastic élite, either of mathematicians or anybody else. We can do this and encourage intellectual expedition into other people's minds by all kinds of extra-curricula activities, by bringing them into contact at quite young ages, in seminar discussions and so on, in which they are jousting with their like. In this we are on very sensitive ground if we confuse (as I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, did not); the people who are in fact vulnerable, the hyper-intelligent, the intellectually abnormal with those whom I think: the noble Lord, Lord James, was talking about, the high run, the high quality, whom we have to encourage, vocationally and otherwise.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, this is an unusual debate, and gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for it—and for such a clear exposition of many of the problems—is all the more due for that. Identification of the gifted is a gamble on promise. The younger the child so identified, the longer the race to be run. Therefore, may I submit a few thoughts to your Lordships—which I am afraid include the structure of education—with a feeling of apology, bearing in mind the opening words of Lord Carrington. But none the less they follow Lord Aberdare's opinion, and also the opinion, I think, of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, who has just spoken, that the place for the gifted child of whatever exact percentage of the population is not segregated, but within the best existing schools.

My Lords, the frontispiece of the Plowden Report showed a group of laughing children, and in the background stood three teachers. Could they discern which pupils were outstandingly gifted? Did his grammar school master realise what Shakespeare would mean one day to the English language? Have those Who taught pupils destined for high places in public life had any real idea of the power for good or evil their charges were possibly developing? I wrote my name at the top of the paper. I wrote down the number of the question—1. After much reflection I put a bracket around it, thus: (1). But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true. In that well known description of his own entrance examination to Harrow, Sir Winston Churchill gave an example of what I suppose we would call to-day a "late developer", and illustrates clearly the difficulty of discerning the gifts which children possess.

My Lords, in the 1962 Year Book of Education, which has been referred to already in this debate, Sir Cyril Burt, formerly psychologist to the London County Council, described three 20th century surveys carried out in London, California and New Zealand on children with high I.Q.s. They were in fact different I.Q.s in the different countries. They were found to differ most from the average intellectually, and least in moral and social characteristics. Sir Cyril drew the conclusion that the intelligence of these children had a genetic basis. They were usually taller, stronger and healthier than average, and freer, usually, from abnormalities. Until they began to specialise, such children were, in the main, gifted in an all-round way.

Drawing on previous research in 1967, the Plowden Committee pointed out that an environment can mask or delay talent. This was referred to by Lord Aberdare. The attitude and economic circumstances of parents is vital. What has not been referred to, to my surprise, is the rate of progress and reaction to life which, at any rate in the early years, differ between boys and girls. These can be difficult problems for definition. Then early last year an H.M.I. conference agreed upon the importance of gifted children to society, confirming that special needs exist here. I must say I am amazed that no noble Lord mentioned the Education Act 1944 which lays a duty on parents to suit education to the, "age, aptitude and ability" of each child.

It would seem that the House is agreed that giftedness is to a considerable extent genetic, but environment must be a vital factor. True, Churchill's gifts were utterly unrealised until manhood; Bunyan was a tinker; Faraday a blacksmith's son. Yet if it is true that circumstances can condemn talent, then surely it is to the problems of environment that our attention must be drawn. Perhaps it was the late American professor, Lewis Terman, who showed what a very real need there is in this field for perceptive parents in real touch with the school. There are the hopes and fears projected on to the family; unnatural pressure for success; the neglect of a home without books or sympathy. Such factors can affect a child, however gifted, and the young genius of a popular imagination, sickly, shortsighted and withdrawn, may become a tragic fact if he cannot live the life of his own age group. Even to-day, there still lurks the pathetic danger sometimes of a child removed smartly at school-leaving age by un-appreciative parents.

In reply to a Plowden Committee recommendation, the Department of Education and Science have published a survey on parent-teacher relations in primary schools. That survey is packed with evidence which is varied, and advice from schools and local education authorities, but nowhere have I been able to find direct evidence from the parents themselves. If a survey at secondary level is to follow soon, perhaps the Department will consider this omission next time. Perhaps they may take up a point which was made by Lord Carrington about special counselling services for parents of handicapped or gifted children.

At the heart of the Plowden Report lay the educational priority areas relevant to this debate, because of the concurrent evidence in that Report of "a great reservoir of unrealised potential" where schools are worst, schools which in themselves can be a fatal discrimination against any child at an early age. Possibly when the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, is replying he may be able to tell us a word or two on the effect of the steps which the Government have already taken, and possibly are taking, and whether the Department have any thoughts now on teaching of gifted immigrant children.

To a layman it is a startling fact that at five years old a child's brain is 90 per cent. of its adult weight. Perhaps a more practical point is that a gifted child, who has not been to nursery school, may all too easily enter primary school classes of 40, as Lord Aberdare showed us, and remain unnoticed and unextended This can lead so easily to under-achievement, and this in itself can become habitual. For some, nursery school is the first chance for detection of the gifted, depending on the home from which they come. I would ask again: is there no possibility that the existing restrictions on the starting of nursery schools by local authorities might now be further relaxed, and if not, should not serious thought be given to possible parental payments for this stage of maintained education?

Such strong views are voiced about streaming—but not, I admit, to-day—that it is a relief to turn to the Plowden Report, and re-read Chapter 20, where teaching methods are discussed dispassionately. For the gifted child I believe a danger of unstreamed classes lies in the continuing once-yearly entry to junior schools where the able may find themselves with others, younger both intellectually and in age, and where classes often grouped by age—not always—may subconsciously blind a teacher to the exceptions. Yet, of course, there are rewards for this teaching.

A fortnight ago I had the good fortune to visit a junior school where the two classes of new entries, unstreamed, obliged the staff to look carefully at each pupil, and for the gifted here was another opportunity for detection. But the headmaster here recognised the load on a teacher with classes of 40, and an extension to this school will give him a chance to try "team teaching" where in an open plan area about 100 children will be taught by four teachers who, by combining, will have opportunities for concentrating on small groups—maybe of the more gifted—while their colleagues teach the remainder.

My Lords, team-teaching is nothing new; it underlay, I think, the teaching of Froebel and Madame Montisorri years ago. But my point is that there are different approaches to children, and in this particular debate, gifted children. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, told us how they may include individual work, occasional classes, with gifted children collected from neighbouring schools—because, of course, the percentage would be so few in a particular school—and there must be special attention, surely, at the infant stage. The House was glad to hear Lord Kennet's information about research work at Liverpool and Brent-wood, and the Schools Council Working Party on gifted children in primary schools.

The noble Lord also referred to the need to be extended, and the loneliness of the very gifted—two things which again and again teachers themselves will always tell you. It is to be hoped that the Department of Education and Science will soon be in a position to collect and publish information on differing teaching methods in this field. In the first examination papers that as a very junior schoolmaster I ever corrected, a backward 11-year-old wrote, "and so Joan visited the Dauphin who gave her a horse, a sword and some amour". But the hope for a high I.Q. answer next in the pile might not have been matched by my ability to recognise or deal with one.

Teaching the backward demands patience. May I join with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in asking what qualities does teacher training seek to develop for those who are going to handle the very able? In addition, although unstreamed primary school classes provide certain opportunities, these are in my view submerged in classes 40 strong, unless there is a very skilful teacher. No problem, I know, was solved by forming a committee, but is it not urgent that a report on teacher training and supply is prepared so that there can be public concentration on what Lord James would say "in the last resort" must surely still be the most vital factor in education to-day?

This particular primary school referred to in fact supplies a comprehensive three-year middle school of 900 pupils. The classes here are streamed and sometimes divided into "sets"; and, having heard the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Snow, I must say that I can see why this is done. And until more research is complete, a system of this sort simply recognises that at some stage ability must find, although it may be only temporarily, a certain level. But here again I discovered that there seemed to be no question of a really gifted boy or girl—possibly the 5 per cent. which is really being talked about—accelerating beyond their own year. Ten years ago the Crowther Report pointed out that the earlier "O" levels are taken, the longer there will be for sixth form study. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, pointed out in his speech the dangers of an express route to the sixth form. But is it possible that comprehensive schools are being a little rigid in this matter, and also in the ages of transfer from one school to another?

In a recent contribution to a book, Looking Forward to the Seventies, the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, pointed out that high sixth form standards are essential to our universities—the noble Lord said it again to-day—because, of course, courses here are shorter than in other countries. Yet the noble Lord also posed the question: "What should a person know at the age of 18 outside his specialist field?" The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London warned of the very gifted who may possibly burn themselves out before the age of 21.

It was in 1959 that the Crowther Committee reported that in 42 per cent. of boys' and in 31 per cent. of girls' schools history ceased to be compulsory and became an option by the fourth year; that is, at about 14. It is curious", the Report added, that a subject which requires and can develop maturity of judgment should disappear so early from the curriculum of many of the abler boys. Of course, there have been changes since 1959—the disappearance of Latin from so much of university entrance, and a remarKable jump of 500 per cent. recorded in "O" and "A" level passes in economics and associated subjects in the decade up to 1966. But for the more able—or if Lord Carrington feels I am going too far from the subject, I would say for the "very able"—has the warning behind the words of the Crowther Report, the need for judgment and balance, been heeded?

Enrichment can spring from variety. Local education authorities, I believe, are becoming increasingly alive to the danger of small sixth forms in comprehensive schemes. Sometimes for this reason grammar schools will be retained—the schools which have served the community so well over the years. And, whatever the exact future of direct grant schools, I would hope the transformation into sixth form colleges is going to be looked at, as the right reverend Prelate said, very carefully. My Lords, that is a pale replica of what the noble Lords, Lord Snow and, even more especially perhaps, Lord James, have said this afternoon, and I will say no more on that subject, except to hope that possibly the Minister will be reading those noble Lords' speeches with the greatest care when Hansard is available.

May I make one more point, which again I hope is not away from the subject. In all schools, without I should think any exception at all, teachers now devote hours to extra-curricular activities. But, possibly for the gifted especially, boarding education is something which can give more time and opportunity; and I believe that, unless they are at special schools—the Yehudi Menuhin school perhaps—for the creative, at boarding-school there can be more time and opportunity not only purely to instruct but to meet the needs of those who learn

. Several years ago on an outside wall of a school library was to be found a small tablet to Captain Oates, the Antarctic explorer. I must admit that I discovered it at a time when the film Scott of the Antarctic was just released and every schoolboy was once again familiar with the words, I am just going out now, and I may be some time", which preceded a very brave act of self-sacrifice. The school was Eton, and at the time the fact that Oates had been at Eton I must admit came to me as being very strange and somewhat out of character. But I came (to realise that this school, so often criticised and probably by no means perfect, offers an infinite variety. And what is true of this particular boarding school is, I would submit, more true by far if you take all the many good boarding schools throughout the country.

For the Government, the implications of this debate are far wider, I feel, than gifted children. Continuity is essential for achievement. If, for instance, progress falters in nursing or medicine, technology or engineering: if politics fails to attract for a time the able and ambitious; if those who seek and demand the best desert this country, then truly the future is in pawn. But for the gifted children who feed such groups there is at the moment a very firm base, a wide diversity of education able to offer more to the gifted if encouraged by a Government policy, tolerant and informed.

6.7 p.m.


My Lords, I am by no means so gifted as most of the speakers who have spoken in this debate, and I should not be speaking at all if it were not for the fact that, as a teacher and as a youth club warden, I have had a great many hundred boys and girls through my hands and just occasionally I have seen one more gifted than the others. I am not making a speech about this subject; perhaps I am rather making a "weep" about the subject, because in some cases I have felt like crying over it. We all know that these talented children turn up at times. The talented children whom we find, and are able to educate especially, come on the whole from better-off homes, whereas we know that statistically, by all genetics, there must be a very large number from other homes. Statistically, as we know, we are losing a great number of these children. We are simply not contacting them. I have had some of these children through my hands and that is why I say that what I am producing this evening is rather more a "weep" than a speech.

I want to quote just one example, and it will show your Lordships exactly what I mean. Some years ago there came to my youth club a group of 14-year-old lads, local Camden Town lads. After they had been there a short time I realised that one among their numbers was different from the others. He undoubtedly had a very much better brain than his friends had. I tried to draw him on a bit; I offered to lend him books and things. I tried to find out about his home circumstances. He was the son of an Irish labourer, of whom there are a great many resident in Camden Town. His friends were nothing in particular. They were reasonable enough lads but of a very ordinary kind. They were possibly not the best lads who came through my hands. They were on the edge of delinquency or possibly, on occasion, a little over.

The opportunities for this particular boy, to do anything in particular, or to get any extra education, seemed to be rather small. I provided him with such books as I could; I talked to him; I tried to push him forward a little in my youth club, and gave him some authority. I generally tried to draw him out. But the difficulty was that if too much was done to push him ahead it took him away from the company of his friends; and he simply did not want to be isolated from the friendship and normal activities of his companions, and to some extent also, of course, from the ways of thought of his family.

His school certainly knew that he was of considerably better mental quality than the normal. They put him in for a large selection of "O" levels, and I did what I could to help him along. I am sorry to tell your Lordships that he failed the lot. And he failed because he wanted to leave school at the same time as his friends. He did not want to be left isolated at school when his friends went out into the world and got jobs.

I lost track of the lad for about a year after that, but later I met him again, and by that time he was a changed boy. He had been out in the great world for some time, earning his living. He had discovered that his friends were not adequate for his mental needs and he was doing his best, with the aid of evening classes, to make up the enormous gap which had been left in his education. But at this stage it was a much harder task for him, working on his own and no longer with the support of the school, to make up the huge amount of leeway that existed; and although he was working at it nobly I am afraid that I had considerable doubts as to how much he would be able to achieve on his own and at that stage. I also have to tell your Lordships that I lost track of him completely at that point.

I cannot tell your Lordships the end of that story, but the whole business made me weep; and it is for that reason I have risen this evening. This sort of thing is too common, and we are losing a large reserve of talent. We are losing it because, in the first place, these lads do not have the home surroundings which enable them to get the first start that they need; and we are losing it, in the second place, because once they have got a group of friends in the neighbourhood, unless we provide them with another group they have to remain with those less talented children. Therefore they have a terrific force dragging them back and compelling them to stay with their present group. In this way we are losing many talented youngsters who ought to be much higher up in our educational system. Many of them ought to be in some kind of special education, and I consider this to be a great tragedy.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, this has been an enjoyable and instructive debate, though I think it has been partly vitiated by our not knowing how much of the pyramid we were talking about. Speakers have quoted a range of figures from as low as 0.1 per cent. (in fact I think I used the lowest myself) to as high as 20 per cent. of the population. We then came to the familiar ground of the comprehensive and grammar schools.

There is so much to reply to and so little I can say that is of any firmness or Governmental validity, but I will endeavour to take up some of the points raised. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, who first mentioned the idea of having special schools for gifted children but attaching them to what he called ordinary or normal schools. I suppose he means something like what might be called the "Slade solution" at university level, whereby the Slade School is part of University College. If I understood him aright, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Snow, also felt that this might be the right solution, in spite of his great knowledge of the different system to be found in the Soviet Union. It occurred to me to wonder—and I can do no more than leave the thought with your Lordships—in what way such a solution would differ from a super "A" stream in a comprehensive school. It would be no more and no less than that; it would have the same advantages and disadvantages as the very high streams in comprehensive schools.


My Lords, I did not actually advocate this for the generally highly intelligent child. I suggested that for the child gifted in music, ballet and similiar subjects there should be a specialist school, which I think would not have the same connotation.


My Lords, it would have a lot in common with the super "A" setting for the specialised subject as at comprehensive schools, but I take the noble Lord's point.

The noble Lord, Lord Annan—who was head boy during my first term at school—first described with such alarming clarity the idea of the super-selective school. If I remember aright he was talking about 1 per cent. of the school population, and the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, I believe, spoke later about 5 per cent. It seems to me that the objection to both 1 per cent. and 5 per cent. is the same as it is to 20 per cent.—the awful "rat race" which will undoubtedly exist at 2 per cent. if we do it in the way mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Annan; at 6 per cent. if we do it in the way referred to by the noble Lord, Lord James, and, as we know it now exists, if we do it the 20 per cent. way at 11-plus.

The right reverend Prelate spoke—and I have no doubt at all that all noble Lords agreed with him—about the danger of forcing. This danger has been with us for ever. I hope that to-day it is decreasing sharply, in both the State and the private sectors of British education. Stories used to be commonplace in 19th century biographies, but one seldom hears them now.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred in his charming speech to Lombroso. Incidentally, I hope that the noble Lord got Lombroso out of the Conservative Central Office research department, with his famous description of genius as a degenerative condition akin to the epileptoid group". I fear he did not, because I know that the Conservative Party is more up to date in many respects than that. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for mentioning—for the first time, incidentally, in this debate, and I believe for the last—the National Association for Gifted Children, because this is a rather new Association which, as I understand it, has not yet got a very definite platform—any more than we have been able to develop one this afternoon in your Lordships' House. So I hope that I carry the House with me in wishing the Association wisdom in developing its programme, and success in achieving it, to the measure that it is wise when it is developed.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, spoke also of the need to train teachers in recognising gifted children as they are at present trained to recognise handicapped children. I admit to the thought that if we went along this road much further we should soon be training them to recognise children, and that possibly is something which could be left to the native sense of the teachers. I must admit that Lord Snow's intervention disappointed me, because I know of his study and knowledge of this subject and how much he lives with it, especially in regard to the bright mathematical kids. He said that we must do something quickly and certainly, but that he would not advise special schools. However, I could not make out what it was that we must do certainly and quickly. I hope to have the opportunity of a further talk with him about it in private later. I welcomed also the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, because of his great knowledge of local authority education work; and it was good to hear how the Plowden Report in this respect had been stimulating action there.

In coming to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord James, I wonder if it would be in order for me to say this. He first of all spoke of high intelligence as a form of oddity and pointed out that sometimes the owners of it had difficulty in recognising their own oddity. He said that Mr. Gaitskell was too modest to face the fact that he was a highly intelligent man. I never before heard Lord James say something that could possibly be suspected of being naive, but I wondered whether perhaps the explanation was that Mr. Gaitskell was too good a politician to admit it. The noble Lord also said that we could not get away from the fact that only a tiny minority of teachers could teach gifted children and that the comprehensive system would diffuse these. But I wish, as I always do when I hear him make his incomparably clear and forceful speeches, in this House or elsewhere, that he had considered the counter-argument, that we cannot get away from the fact that grouping the tiny minority with a higher salary than the majority of teachers get in the State system has its disadvantages. I wish he would enter bravely into this field; I should like next time to hear what he thinks about it. The Jamesian world seems so often to lack the public school. There is no more brilliant and incisive defender of the grammar school, the direct grant school, the maintained school, than Lord James. But where does the public school fit in? What is his view of the vision of the future of education where teachers are deployed, possibly with salary differentials, evenly over all sorts of schools in accordance with their special abilities?


My Lords, if I may intervene, obviously will not go into the whole Jamesian view of the future of public schools, but what I should say is that it would depend on what you intend to do with the direct grant schools.


My Lords, that still leaves to my mind a great gap in the Jamesian view of what we do with all of them. But of course this is not the time to pursue the point.


My Lords, may I put this point to the noble Lord? Is he seriously suggesting that schoolmasters should be distributed evenly through all schools? That seems the greatest nonsense I have ever heard from anybody on the subject.


My Lords, schoolmasters are distributed fairly evenly; they are found in all schools. But I wished to hear from the defenders of the direct grant schools and the public schools their defence of a system whereby good schoolmasters are attracted into certain places and bunched there with high pay. This is the point I always miss in this argument.

I accused the noble Lord, Lord James, of possible naiveté; I am also about to accuse him of a possible illogicality. I heard him say that the comprehensive idea has to be supplemented by—something or other; it does not matter what. How can the comprehensive idea be supplemented? If it requires supplement it is not comprehensive, and I think this may have been one of the blocks in communication between the Jameses of the world and the Labour Secretaries of State for Education of the world.


With respect, that is rather semantic, is it not?


I believe not. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, spoke of the choir schools, and I was glad he did because nobody else did. They are one of the most specialised forms of education in the world. They have been in existence for years and get very little public help. They are marvellous institutions; and how important it is that they should continue! But I put it to their friends: would they not find it easier to continue if they sang better music?




So much of the music sung by British cathedral choirs is second-rate, by the normal international standards of music appreciation. There is so much first-class music, both English and foreign, written for that combination of voice or voice and organ


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? May I ask him how often he goes to Westminster Abbey, only a few yards from here, and listens to what they sing?


My Lords, I am not going to be drawn into a discussion of this cathedral choir or that, but only to assert that in my judgment, as a private individual, much, though of course not all, the music sung by English cathedral choirs in general is second- rate; and I believe the public would appreciate them more if there were less of it.

The noble Lord, Lord Belstead went very wide in his intervention—much wider than highly gifted children or even gifted children, though I would very much agree on the necessity of early recognition and the place of the infants' school in doing this. It was the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who specifically asked about research. It is difficult for me to commit my right honourable friend—indeed, it is impossible for me to commit my right honourable friend—about what research will or will not be done, but I do not think there is need for much more research about the place and fate of the top 20 per cent., or the top 10 per cent., or even the top 5 per cent. of children in our present English educational system. Of course, there is no possibility yet of research into the fate of these children in the comprehensive system, because we have not yet got a comprehensive system; at the moment it is only a minority of local education authorities who have implemented a comprehensive system covering their whole area. So the time to begin research on that will be when we have experience of entire areas which have a comprehensive system.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, because this point was brought up by others as well as myself. The question was not about infant schools; they exist. It was about nursery schools; largely they do not.


I should have said nursery schools.


I wonder what the noble Lord's answer is.


Would the noble Lord remind me of the precise question?


The question precisely was, was it not possible to lessen the existing restrictions on the starting of nursery schools. The noble Lord will be aware of those restrictions. If the answer to that is "No", is it not possible to reconsider the Plowden minority recommendation for possible parental contributions?


My Lords, the House will not need reminding of the financial stringency of the present time or of the dearness to the Government of the principle of free schooling throughout. However, I will draw to the attention of my right honourable friend the noble Lord's remarks. I will, of course, draw the whole debate to the attention of my right honourable friend, and in particular I will draw to his attention the suggestions for long-term research into the needs of very highly gifted children and into the different ways of meeting them which have been developed or are advocated, both in this country and in others. I would envisage among other things a cohort study.

Let me conclude by saying that we should keep all this in proportion: by that I mean the top 0.1 per cent. or even the top 1 per cent. There is very much that needs to be done in the wider field. In last week's New Scientist Sir Cyril Burt reminded a wide public that in the non-manual classes—that is, professional, clerical, et cetera—the proportion of children endowed with university ability is nearly five times as large as in the manual classes. On the other hand, the size of the manual classes is well over five times that of the non-manual, but less than half of those who are qualified in the manual classes actually ever make it to university. This is the urgent problem, but is not, in my view, the problem we have been primarily debating to-day. We have been speaking of a much narrower one, and I believe we have had a valuable debate on it.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I said at the outset, when I introduced this debate that there were many of your Lordships far more qualified than I to talk on this subject. Having heard the debate this evening, I am rather surprised at my temerity in having introduced the subject, because we have had some notable contributions. I thought that the debate was not as melancholy as the noble Lord, Lord Snow, said; I certainly did not find his speech either melancholy or disappointing. I was greatly cheered by the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, who assured all your Lordships who arc present that we are really very clever indeed; which made up for my noble friend behind me, Lord Aberdare, who, with devastating frankness, had told me that when I was eight years old he had recognised that I was a very stupid boy indeed. I had always considered him to be exceptionally gifted. But we have had a most interesting debate and something which I hope all of us will read again.

I am particularly grateful for the contribution which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has made on behalf of the Government. Apart from a bellicose intervention towards my noble friend Lord Inglewood, he has said some most encouraging things, and I have no doubt that the National Association of Gifted Children will not only read this debate but will read with great care what he has said. As he said, this is a young organisation and it is one in which I am interested. I hope that perhaps they will benefit from this debate and will be a little more widely known as a result of it.

Lastly, though I know that we may all read the debate again, I greatly hope that the Department of Education will read it. Sometimes I wonder whether they do read the debates in your Lordships' House. It is in the hope that they will read it, and in thanking your Lordships once again for taking part, that I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.