§ Mr. BENNETT
asked the President of the Board of Education if he can give an approximate estimate of the additional expenditure that would be likely to be placed upon the local education authorities if the recommendation of the departmental committee on scholarships and free places in schools for an increase in the percentage of free places in secondary schools were carried out; and if he will consider the advisability of deferring this, and as many as possible of other changes involving an increase of expenditure, until the financial 1962W position of the local authorities, which is regarded with concern by the ratepayers, has improved?
§ Mr. FISHER
An estimate of the cost of carrying out the Committee's recommendations is being prepared, but is not yet completed. Before coming to a decision the Board will carefully consider the matter in its financial aspects.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
asked the President of the Board of Education how many free places there are in secondary or higher grade schools in England and Wales; and is it his intention to increase that number at an early date so as to assist many of the sons and daughters of the working classes in gaining increased knowledge and skill to enable them to be of more use to the State?
§ Mr. FISHER
In the year ending the 31st July, 1920, out of about 300,000 pupils in secondary schools in England and Wales about 93,400 held free places; this number is more than 13 per cent. in excess of that for the previous year. A further increase may be anticipated this year. I believe that substantial progress is being made in the direction indicated by Section 4 (1) of the Education Act, 1918, and I have recently received the Report of a Departmental Committee on the subject, which is under consideration.