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Clause 1—(Raising Of Compulsory School Age And Provision Of Maintenance Allowances)

Volume 245: debated on Thursday 20 November 1930

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I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, at the beginning, to insert the words:

"It shall be the duty of every local education authority to make a by-law under the Education Act, 1921 (hereinafter referred to as 'the principal Act '), extending to fifteen years."

4.0 p.m.

On a point of Order. I venture to ask you, Mr. Dunnico, whether you are also selecting the next Amendment on the Paper, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) and those of other hon. Members—in page 1, line 6, at the beginning, to insert the words:

"The Board of Education shall require all local education authorities for elementary education in the manner provided in section twelve of the Education Act, 1921 (hereinafter referred to as 'the principal Act'), to submit schemes for the provision of advanced instruction sufficient and suitable for all children between the ages of eleven and fifteen in their respective areas, such provision to be completed by the thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, and on and after that day."

It is not my intention to select the second Amendment on the Paper, because it raises the question of date and is anticipatory of other Amendments on the Order Paper raising that question.

May I point out to you that, so far as the date in the second Amendment is concerned, it might be regarded as anticipatory, but that is not really what is intended in the subsequent Amendment. What the subsequent Amendment really intends is that, if compulsion is to be put upon parents, some compulsion shall be put on the local authorities to prepare the schools in order that they may be ready for the children. Therefore, I would ask you whether, if you do not propose to select that Amendment itself, you would be prepared to allow the scope of the discussion on the first Amendment to include the proposal that local authorities, before they pass by-laws, should have carried out a statutory scheme?

Perhaps it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I allow the discussion on the first Amendment to be broadened so as to include that principle raised in the first part of the second Amendment. It certainly has some bearing on the first Amendment.

The object of this Amendment is to introduce into this Bill what is known as the by-law procedure, that is to say, to give the local education authority some discretion as to how and when this increased age limit shall commence, and also to ensure that it shall, in fact, be done not directly by Act of Parliament but by the by-law of the local education authority. I do not wish to weary the Committee with precedents, but I may say that there are almost universal precedents do the compulsory raising of the school age for this course. In 1870, the school boards, who were then the local education authorities, were empowered to make by-laws enforcing attendance. In 1880, the school authorities were again required to make bylaws, and so on through the Acts of 1892, 1899 and 1902, down to the last time when the school age was compulsorily raised by the Act of 1918, when again the local education authorities were required to make by-laws compelling children to attend school up to the age of 14, and the local education authorities' own powers of exemption were limited to exemption above that age.

It is not our intention at this stage to go into the question of the actual date when this shall come into operation. That question will be properly raised at a later stage, right at the end of the Bill. It is, perhaps, fortunate that it is so, because this Bill undoubtedly is going to be subjected to many changes before reaching the Statute Book, and we do not wish to press the point of the actual date now. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) has on the Paper an Amendment which mentions a specific date, but that is to deal with entirely different procedure, and is put there because that is the only place where it could come in for discussion, and I do want the Committee, in approaching this Amendment, as far as possible to keep their minds off the actual date. There is nothing in this Amendment to prevent the date from being 1st April. It is only a question of procedure, although we do postulate that in certain areas some form of delay in this Bill will be necessary. After all, the Hadow Report laid down a period of five years for preparation for this school age. I do not say we ought not to have started before, but the fact remains that many local authorities have not, and the present Government propose to give them only a period of three months, and I think that discrepancy too big. I know that the President of the Board of Education has frequently said that many local education authorities are ready, and that a great many more are practically ready. The fact is that a great many, and amongst them some of the biggest county authorities, are not ready, and have not started.

There is a disposition on the part of right hon. and hon. Members opposite to treat those authorities who are not ready, who have made no effort to get ready, as purely recalcitrant. As a matter of fact, they are nothing of the sort. They are opposed, rightly or wrongly, to this Measure at this time, and they would have been wrong to expend public money in preparing for it, unless they were absolutely certain that it was coming into law. It may be argued that they were wrong-headed in imagining that this best of all possible Governments was not going on indefinitely. That is an arguable point, but the fact remains that it is so, and until this Bill is actually an Act on the Statute Book, they will not feel justified in spending the necessary public money, because they feel that the money can be better spent in other ways.

I make no apology to the Committee for stressing once again the rural point of view. As a matter of fact, unless the President of the Board of Education gives us considerable concessions, I am afraid I shall have to do it many times in the course of these debates; in fact, it may become one of the minor horrors of this Bill. But the situation if this Bill is passed into law without any broadening of the time limit, without any elasticity of administration, is going to be very serious indeed. The President of the Board of Education has said frequently that he believes that it is a matter of comparative unimportance whether the local authorities are ready or whether they are not, and that the first thing to do is to get the children into the schools. That may be so as far as the towns are concerned. It is emphatically not so as far as county children are concerned. I am very much concerned to find that the right hon. Gentleman still approaches this matter with what my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) once referred to as "the town mind." know it is not his intention to penalise the rural children, but it is the fact that he is doing it. All the money that we want for the rural areas to develop proper schools to give these children extra education has got to be spent in hurried ill-considered expenditure—fresh teachers, unsuitable teachers, fresh accommodation, such minor matters as fresh desks and things of that kind—to crowd these children into schools which are not ready for them.

The first time I heard the right hon. Gentleman speak in this House, about a year ago, he used a phrase which struck me very forcibly. He said that the worst day school is better than the best mine or factory. With that I am entirely in accord, but I do not agree when he says it is better than the best field or the best cottage kitchen. If you take these children into school now without giving the local education authorities a chance to be ready, you are sending boys and girls between 14 and 15 years of age in these little village schools where they will increase the size of the classes, where they will be under the care of school masters or mistresses—more often school mistresses—who are teaching children from five to 15 right through the whole age group. Any hon. Members opposite who have been teachers know how difficult that is. You are keeping them in what you yourselves say are the most impressionable years of their life under insufficient discipline and with in-sufficient teachers. They will learn nothing more in the extra year, and we contend that it is better for these children to be out in the field learning what life in the country is, and what nature can teach them, than studying in schools doing raffia work. That is the form of instruction the boys and the girls get.

I understand that the hon. Member was a school teacher himself, and if he really believes the amount of time and knowledge that is given to school gardens in the village schools of this country is enough to substitute for what a boy will learn outside in the farm or woods, I am very sorry for his ideas of education. A school garden in a town school is a very different thing.

The hon. Member said that raffia work was the only occupation. I say that there are many more occupations than raffia work.

What I said was that that was the form of practical instruction in village schools to-day. I did not say it was the only form, but the hon. Member should know that it looms very largely, and I contend that leaf raffia work for boys of 14 and 15 is a waste of time. You are keeping these children in the schools giving them no extra education. It is better for the boys to be out in the country learning their jobs, and for the girls to be at home learning housekeeping and cookery and helping their mothers. There are practically no domestic centres in the rural areas. In the towns you wish to give them domestic instruction, but that is not practicable in the rural areas. Therefore we say, give the local education authorities a chance to get ready. Fix a day which shall be the very last day on which the by-laws have to be made. Give them a chance to wait until they are ready to make the by-laws and let the thing come in when there is a reasonable chance of the children having a fair education when it does come in.

One of the objections that may be raised is that this means that it will not come in in all areas at the same time. There is one perfectly rational objection to that, that children between 14 and 15, in an area where a by-law has not been made, may come into an area where it has been made and take the work from the children who ought to get it. That has been foreseen and guarded against by a later Amendment which will make it impossible. I am not quite certain whether the Amendment is actually on the Paper. If it is not now, it will be to-morrow. If it is not, I apologise to the Committee for an oversight. Finally I ask the Government to give the rural areas a chance of getting the best of this. I do not believe you can ever make it as good as if you postponed it until there was a reasonable chance of carrying out the reorganisation, but if we have to have it now, give the rural areas a chance of getting education and not a waste of time.

I wish to refer more especially to the local education authorities in London, where I have had a good deal of experience of this work. To my mind, the Bill in its present state will merely bring chaos and no benefit whatever and, for that reason, we wish the matter left as far-as possible in the hands of the local education authorities, who are the only people who know how far this scheme can be brought into being and how soon. There are several things that have to be taken into consideration. First of all, there is the question of accommodation. In a report of the London County Council Education Committee I read:

"1931 is at the beginning of a bulge period during which, owing to the higher birth rate of the years immediately following the War, the roll of senior children is abnormally larger, even with the present leaving age of 14 plus. The bulge twill remain for about three years, but in 1935 the total roll, with a statutory leaving age of 15 plus, will be 11,000 less than in April, 1929, when the statutory leaving age was 14 plus."
Those figures are illustrative of the point I am raising.
"A preliminary estimate of the necessary additional accommodation shows that from 5,000 to 10,000 additional school places will be required, at a cost of between £250,000 and £500,000. It will be necessary to give prolonged consideration to the adequate equipment of the schools to meet the educational needs of the new age group. Our conclusion, therefore, is that fixing the appointed day before the period of the bulge will undoubtedly result either in considerable expenditure on accommodation not ultimately necessary or in serious handicap to effective instruction owing to overcrowding.
I asked this question the other day of the President of the Board of Education, and two days later I asked the Under-Secretary. On neither day did I get any reply. I have had the experience of going through the great majority of London schools and knowing a good deal about the accommodation and of the building plans. I have not been on the Education Committee recently, but I have kept as far as possible up-to-date with the problem. It is a very terrible problem indeed, and I am informed that the case in London is practically the same throughout the country.

The President of the Board of Education intimated a year or more ago that in view of the possibility, or as he would say, the probability, of this Bill becoming law, the education authorities were to get on with their preparation. That is all very well, but they have to get on with so many things which are already law that they have not time to speculate on things that may or may not become law. You might just as well ask the Customs authorities to-day to get ready for the safeguarding that we are going to bring in in another six months. The analogy is similar. We know, and you know, that that is coming into force in six months or so, and we might ask the authorities to get the machinery ready, so that when the Bill comes in they can start straight away. I realise that that is perhaps not quite in order but I had to give a simile, because instructions have been issued by the Board of Education on the assumption that the Bill will go through, and we never know. It may not, especially when our friends the Liberals come and join us and do what it is their duty to do.

Then we have the question of teachers. At present there are insufficient teachers for our present needs and it is impossible to turn out men and women by a sort of machine so as to be prepared for the task of teaching, not the children they have been accustomed to teach, but children a year older, who will need very special tuition indeed. That is a point that has not been fully realised in trying to push the Bill forward in the course of a few months. It is necessary, before the scheme comes into force, that there should be not only an adequate number of teachers for present conditions, but teachers who are used to and capable of teaching older children. There is talk, I understand, of bringing back old teachers, or putting on uncertificated teachers, and those who I am sure are not going to be really capable of doing the job for which we have already voted many millions of pounds.

One of the most important points is the reaction on other branches of education. I cannot do better than read from this report:
"The possible reactions on other branches of education cannot be considered adequately in the short interval allowed. London has probably the most comprehensive system of technical education in the country. Certain sections of this work will need considerable re-adjustment if the school leaving age is raised to 15 plus. The junior evening institutes will have no recruits for a year and, at the end of that period, will have to re-arrange their courses. The day continuation schools, which embody an important principle of part-time education during working hours, may be seriously affected. These are but two instances of the possible effect on continued education. It is clear, however, that the complicated question of the adjustment to the new conditions of an elaborate scheme of continued education which has been systematically developed on the basis of a leaving age of 14 plus will require much more exploration than can be carried out in the meagre time limit permitted. Hastily and ill-prepared changes may seriously injure the fabric of further education and its link with industry."
Later they say:
"The time at our disposal for examining the Bill has been very limited, but from a preliminary consideration of its general tenour we see no reason to depart from our previously expressed opinions in regard to the raising of the school leaving age and the awarding of maintenance allowances. We would emphasise that the withdrawal of the two previous Bills has further reduced the time available for preparation between the passing of the Act and its coming into operation on 1st April, 1931."

I do not know if it was unanimous, and I do not know if it is absolutely accurate, but I can assure the Committee that these are the facts of the case in London and, generally speaking, throughout the country, and that any rush would only cause chaos. We have agreed in principle to the raising of the school age to 15, we have agreed in principle to the spending of this money, but it is our duty, when spending the money of the taxpayers, to see that we get the best possible value for it and, in getting that, we have also to consider getting the best possible education for the children. If this Bill is rushed into law before everything is prepared, the education of the country will be chaos, and even the children who are at school at present who are not 14 plus will suffer owing to the rest of the school being filled by older children. I, therefore, sincerely hope the Amendment will have the very serious consideration of the Minister. I cannot see that there is one link that is ready at present for the age to be increased. If it must be done, let us for goodness sake arrange the date so that, the education, the accommodation, the teachers, and the whole scheme may come into force at such a time that the money will not be wasted and the children will get the best out of the money that is spent on them.

The object of the Amendment is to require local authorities to make new bylaws before they bring in this new age. It differs from the existing proposals of the Bill in that the Bill adopts the simplest possible procedure by allowing the existing by-laws to be altered in the matter of the age. There will be no confusion and no varying date of commencing and there will be one simple national change. As a matter of fact, this discussion has covered more than the mere subject of the Amendment. I will say a word or two with regard to that before I come to the actual Amendment. One thing that the discussions on the Bill have already brought out that is of a very satisfactory character is the deep and genuine anxiety on both sides of the House to get real education for the older children. I do not mean to say that that was not to some extent appreciated before what I may call the Hadow period, hut it is a peculiarity of the Hadow period that the whole of the country is thinking about getting real education for the older children. On this side of the House we welcome the anxiety of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to be assured that the education which is given to children when they are kept at school for the extra year shall really be of a kind that will make it worth while. I must repeat that I have never maintained that when this Act was brought into operation you would have, throughout the country, the best system of education, the system of education which we are ex- pecting to get within a few years for all the older children. I have never said that. I have never pretended that all the areas in this country were going to be ready with a reorganised system of education. What I have said is, that there are at least 140 authorities who will really be ready, and that there are many others who are preparing very rapidly. I have also said that I have made extremely careful inquiries from my inspectors and that they say that, except in a very few cases, there will be accommodation for the older children even if the Act comes into operation in the spring of next year.

Are we going to wait for perfection? That is the real question. If we are going to wait for perfection, I say, frankly, that I think there are going to be a certain number of authorities who will not be ready for five and perhaps six years in the way that we all want them to be. We cannot ask the nation to wait for the laggards. We must go forward, provided that we are confident that comparatively soon all over the country we are going to get the system that we want. I say that within two or three years most of the authorities of the country will be reorganised, though I do not say that in all cases there will be senior schools in all parts of the rural districts. There will be many rural counties which will be thoroughly reorganised. There are some now.

I said within three years. I will come to the Noble Lady's point in a moment. I say that within three years it is reasonable to suppose that most counties of good will will be thoroughly reorganised. What is in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite is that there will be many places which will not be fully reorganised next year. That is true. Then you have to choose between letting the children stay out of school, as now, and enter industry, and their coming into school and getting, not the education which we are expecting eventually to be able to give them, but education as efficient as—and in many cases rapidly becoming mare efficient than—the education with which we have been satisfied up to this day. Our argument is that while we are determined to get within a few years a first-class education for all children, in many cases of an improved kind, and in many cases in fresh schools, even now it is better, where the reorganisation is not fully accomplished, to get the children into schools where, in most cases, they will be treated better than they will be treated outside. It is there that we differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite. We do not think, even where the schools are impaired, that it is better for children to be out in the fields than in schools, many of which, even in their present condition, are giving extremely good education. It is an absolute libel on the schools of the rural districts of England. A very large number of them are giving a most efficient education in the higher classes at the present time, and, that being so, we say that even if the reorganisation is not complete it is better to have the children in the schools now.

This Amendment proposes that there shall be new by-laws for bringing in the new age. First of all, I think that the proposal is unnecessary. The by-laws are already there, and all that is wanted is the proposal of the Bill that the age shall be 15 instead of 14 as now. Secondly, if new by-laws are to be required in every case it must mean delay in the process of making and presenting the by-laws. That fact was practically stated by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. He said that it was a question how and when the by-laws should be made. That is to say, he contemplated that a fair number of the bylaws would be some time in the making and that therefore there would be a different time for the commencement of this Act in different parts of the country. What would be the effect of that?

We know that there are a certain number of local authorities who are not very keen about this change. [Interruption.] There is London. If they know that they will have a chance of postponing the date, however easily they might be ready for it if only they had the intention, it will give them an opportunity for delay. But in any case the intention of the hon. Gentleman is that there should be different dates. That means that you may have a couple of areas adjacent to one another, one of them having raised the school age and the other not having raised the school age and the children from the area which has not raised the school age flocking into the area which has raised the school age—exactly the same state of affairs as that which occurred in London a few years ago. Therefore, I very much hope that the Committee are not going to adopt this proposal, because I think it is unnecessary and administratively exceedingly clumsy.

I think all of us on this side of the Committee will have welcomed very warmly the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman opened his speech in recognising the fact that we on this side of the House are every bit as anxious as he and his friends to see that the education which is given to the children in the grant-aided schools of this country, and particularly to the elder children in the elementary schools, is as good as it can be made. If I may say so, I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman quite conveyed the sense of that recognition in his speeches either on the Second Reading of the Bill or on the Financial Resolution. If we could have frank recognition of the fact that we all want to give a really good education to these children, an education which will develop them to the utmost extent possible in the years that they are at school, I think that we should get on much quicker and more harmoniously in these discussions than we have managed to do on former occasions.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke as if interest in the education of the older children in the elementary schools largely dated from the issue of the Hadow Report in 1926. I should like to remind him and hon. Members behind him that a policy for the improvement of the education of the older children, whether by the provision of more secondary schools, of more central schools or of more "higher tops" was put forward by the Unionist party at the General Election in 1924. We had not been in office six months before my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), early in 1925, issued a circular asking local authorities all over the country to reorganise their schools, making a break at 11 plus and providing for education above that age in exactly the same way as the Hadow Committee some 18 months later reported. Therefore, hon. Members will understand that the Hadow Report received a warm reception, as a whole, from my right hon. Friend and myself, because it emphasised the all-important matter of reorganisation to which we had already set our hands.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us to-day that he never said that all local authorities would be ready by April of next year. Of that we readily acquit him, but he did say—I think it was in the summer—that 140 out of 317 authorities would be substantially ready. He said the other day that he held to that statement, and to-day the adverb he has used is that he thinks they will be "nearly" ready. Even if we let him fall back on the rather less definite adverb he used in the summer, "substantially" ready, I submit that that statement gives a very inadequate view of the picture. I wish to make clear what I tried to bring out in supplementary questions which I asked the right hon. Gentleman a short time ago, some figures which he gave in reply to a question put to him about a week ago by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Major Tryon). My right hon. Friend asked him how many local education authorities said that they would be completely ready for the change by April, 1931, and how many local authorities said that they would be ready in a majority of their schools. The reply was that 50 education authorities said that they would be completely ready and that 39 said they would he ready in a majority of their schools. That gives you, not 140 who will be ready in the majority of their schools, hut, with 50 education authorities completely ready and not more than 39 who will be ready in the majority of their schools, a total of only 89 schools of which you can say of all of them that they will be ready in a majority of their schools. That gives us a very different picture from that which we have expected until now.

There is a further point. When you come to examine the 89 authorities who will he mainly ready you find that they do not include London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull or Bristol. There is hardly a big county borough among the whole of the 89 authorities, and there is no county whatever among the 50 who say that they will be completely ready. There are only two counties among the 39 who will be ready in the majority of their schools. Broadly speaking, it may be said that those 89 authorities mainly consist of authorities dealing with elementary education only, that is to say the smaller boroughs and the urban district councils.

There is more accommodation in London than there will be children for the places. May I call the attention of the Noble Lady to the presidential address of Mr. Gater, Director of Education for the London County Council, in which he states that in London there are at present 80,000 empty places in the schools, and the new age group of children is estimated to number 50,000. He goes on to say that there will be particular difficulties in particular areas, and adds:

"I imagine that the London situation is typical of that of several areas, and it is perhaps reasonable to assume that the provision of accommodation will not be amongst our greatest difficulties."

I hardly expected to hear a representative in the House of Commons of the National Union of Teachers speak as if the raising of the school age was merely a matter of accommodation.

If the hon. Member will give me his attention, or if he will look at my speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will see that the question asked of the right hon. Gentleman was, what local authorities will be ready for the raising of the school age. That includes a great deal snore than accommodation. Very much more important matters than the question of how many empty places there are in the schools, are raised. The figures show that only a minority, and that minority consisting in the main of small authorities, have said to the Board of Education that they can be ready, even in a majority of their schools, by the 1st April, 1931. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman asks us whether we are to wait for the laggards by putting off the date, I would ask him: "Are all these large authorities to be dragged along and their administration put into confusion because a minority will be ready"? The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that we have to choose in those areas where the accommodation will not be ready between letting the children go into industry or retaining them in the schools and giving them the same education as now. He expressed himself in favour of the latter course. He says: "We think our education is fairly good. Let us, therefore, give the children another year of what they are getting now. That will be better for them than their going out into industry." Has the right hon. Gentleman remembered that if children are kept an additional year in school without proper accommodation being there to give them separate classes, or the teachers being there to teach them, or special curricula being ready for them, it will prejudice the younger children, because they will have the older children being educated along with them. Classes of two or more age groups will have to be taught together, and that will act to the detriment of the younger children.

Further, does not the right hon. Gentleman realise the detrimental effect that there will be on the, older children if you keep them in the same classroom with the younger children and have them going over very much the same ground that they have covered in the previous year? Surely, he must remember that the main point of the Hadow Report was its insistence on the need for variety of curricula at the adolescent stage. The main point of that report was the variety of ability that you must expect in children of about the age of 11 to 12; that if they are all put through one course, and that largely an academic course, they will not get a chance of developing their own special autitudes. A large proportion of children, the Hadow Report tells us, needs something less academic than the ordinary secondary course. They need a curriculum with a large place in it given up to practical instruction. They think that the adolescent stage is one at which children begin to awake to new interests. Sound teaching, they say—

I do not think that I can allow a detailed discussion on this Amendment. Obviously, it would be out of order on this Amendment to go into details.

I do not wish to detain the Committee with unnecessary details, but I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that it was the very essence of the Hadow Report that you must have special curricula for children at the adolescent stage. That is why they want reorganisation. There is no meaning in reorganisation without alternative curricula. We need that in order to arrest the interests of the older children. We must remember that we are not dealing here simply with clever children but with the average or even the sub-average child, and unless we can arouse the interests of these children by giving them some practical instruction in which they feel at home and in which they can have a new confidence, we run the risk of not developing some latent capacity in that child and of discouraging and disappointing him, because we shall be keeping him toiling away for a further year at books in which so far he has done very little good. There are many boys, particularly when they get to the age of 14, who begin to feel very restive—

The Noble Lady must not pursue this detailed line of argument on this Amendment. We are dealing with the question that schemes should be provided. Arguments in support of that matter are in order, but she is obviously covering a wider field in entering into details as to the nature of the schemes.

I was only trying to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of realising that it must be an advantage to a child to give him an education that will arrest his interest. I remain of the opinion that not only would it prejudice the development of the younger children, but also the chances of the older children if you keep the older children for another year at school without providing the special material, the special teacher and the separate class for which the Hadow Report asks. I submit that to impose a uniform date upon the whole country for the starting of this scheme, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, is something which may not only strain educational machinery and educational finance but which may seriously prejudice the intellectual development of the children. And where a young woman teacher or any woman teacher is teaching children at various stages in a small school she will find her difficulties very largely increased if she has to deal with girls and boys, particularly boys, over 14, boys of the type who have not had the ability to win scholarships and who become very restive about the age of 14. In spite of what may be the views of the organisation represented by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), I believe that there are many women teachers in rural districts who dread the coming into operation of this Bill before there has been further reorganisation in those areas. That is why we urge that local authorities should not be rushed into the raising of the school-leaving age uniformly, but that they should do it by by-laws.

The by-law procedure has been in operation for 12 years in regard to the raising of the age to 15, and only five local authorities have availed themselves of this power. Let the 50 authorities who are completely ready raise the age by by-law as from 1st April next, and let the 39 who will have the majority of their schools ready do it perhaps a year later or when they will have a substantial majority of their schools ready, but do not force the whole of the educational authorities in the country to bring into operation on one date art Act for which they are not prepared. Although they may have the places they may not have the teachers. The right hon. Gentleman has not been able to show more than some 1,800 additional teachers in training towards the 13,000 that he says will be needed in two or three years' time. Therefore, if he forces this Act upon all local authorities at the given date it will be to the disadvantage and the prejudice of education.

In regard to the difficulty that the right hon. Gentleman raised as to children coming into an area and taking away work from children who are obliged to remain at school until the age of 15 in that particular area, I would remind him that there is an area in this country, Rugby town, in which there is a system of compulsory part-time day classes. The authority there have made a bye-law by which it is impossible for children outside Rugby to come into Rugby and take up employment without the requirement of attending these classes. We have there a practical example of how it is possible to protect children within an area from the unfair competition of other children. The bye-law procedure has been the recognised procedure by which the school age has been raised in past days. It has been the one used in regard to the raising of the age to 15, and it seems to us to be the only one that is consistent with the present stage of reorganisation in this country, and as such we are strongly in favour of the Amendment.

The speech of the right hon. Gentleman has not convinced me that this Amendment is not necessary. Although he told us that certain local authorities will he ready by the specified date, he said that there will be other local authorities who perhaps will not he able to put the scheme into operation for five or six years. What is going to happen in the meantime in regard to the children in those schools? Surely they are going to waste their time. I know that in certain areas with which I am acquainted it will be impossible to find accommodation for a very considerable period. Surely, it would be better instead of forcing the local authorities in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman that he should allow the local authorities to insist on the older children going to continuation classes or to technical schools in the evening, where they could receive valuable instruction, instead of wasting their time in schools where they could not receive proper instruction.

5.0 p.m.

I understood him to say that there were 140 local authorities who were ready. What did he mean by 140 local authorities being ready? Did he mean that they have actually anticipated the passing of this Bill and have erected new schools? There may be 140 local authorities which have purchased sites and prepared plans, and to that extent the right hon. Gentleman may be right, but I cannot believe that there are 140 local authorities who have anticipated the passing of this Bill and have started the building of new schools.

The Government have gone the wrong way to work. They should have decided first the boundaries between local authorities. In the second place, they should have completed the reorganisation of the secondary schools. In my part of the country the scheme of reorganisation will be gravely affected by the raising of the school age, in fact, the whole scheme will be impossible. New cities are springing up in neighbourhoods like Sidcup and the colliery districts of Kent, and in these districts the reorganisation scheme is not nearly completed yet. Some of the schools which have recently been erected in the southern parts of London are already more than full, and the county council is to put into operation in a short time a scheme which will bring in more children to these schools. If the Government persist in resisting this Amendment the effect will be that these reorganisation schemes and secondary schools will get a very bad start from which it will be very difficult for them to recover. It will prevent them becoming efficient, the cost will be too much, the teachers will riot be suitable, and the accommodation will be inadequate. It will be a waste of time for children of the older age group and they would be far better learning a trade than doing nothing at school.

If local authorities are not to be allowed to fix the date it will necessitate in certain areas the erection of temporary buildings at a very heavy expense. Simultaneously with the erection of these temporary buildings they will have to carry on an intensive building programme. In the county of Kent it is quite impossible to get sufficient bricklayers and plasterers to erect the schools in the time given. We hear a lot about unemployment, but I am told that it will be impossible to get a sufficient number of workmen to erect the new accommodation which will be necessary, especially in the new areas near London and in the mining areas of Kent. The new schools will probably be completed in three or four years' time. Then the temporary buildings will be pulled down. But by that time the child population in the country will have decreased, and the new schools will not be wanted. Surely, there is a strong case here for local authorities having the power to fix the date. It would be in the best interests of education and of the children.

I am very concerned as to whether this Amendment is the best way in which to approach this matter. I was amazed at sonic of the statements made by the President of the Board of Education in defending the raising of the school age. He says that it is to be done immediately. Whether the better method is for local authorities to retain the power they have to-day and fix the date, or whether the actual date should be stated in the Bill, I am not sure, but it would help our discussion if we knew whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to adhere to the date stated in the Bill.

The President of the Board of Education will give his reply when he likes, not the hon. Member behind him. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that it would be much better if these children were in school now. I am not so sure about that. What sort of a school are you going to put them in; especially in the rural areas? Where are the schools into which they can go? Where are the teachers, and what subjects are they going to be taught? It is not a good argument to say that the children would be much better in school now. Unless they are going to be taught something which is worth while they would be much better outside; and their parents think so, too. If they were actually going to receive education which will be worth while then they would be much better in school now. But in spite of the fact that some county councils may be laggards in the matter of reorganisation, the fact remains that local authorities have not made preparations; and is it fair to the child to push him into school under conditions which will not give him the education he ought to receive.

There is another matter upon which, in regard to the rural areas, I desire to have some information. It will cost a tremendous lot of money, and local rates have to he considered. I should like to know whether we are going to get assistance in the rural areas for carrying these children to school. The President of the Board of Education should, I think, tell us whether he is going to alter the date at which the Bill is to come into operation. If he did it would shorten the discussion and help some of us to give a more hearty support to the Bill.

I do not think the opening discussion in Committee on this Bill has really been very auspicious. Rightly regarded, the Amendment should have been looked upon by the President of the Board of Education as an olive branch, but, instead of welcoming this attempt at reconciling views at the outset of the discussion, he has met it with an emphatic negative. It is much to be regretted. This is not the occasion, as has been pointed out from the Chair, to raise the general question of the date of the Bill. All that is necessary for the present discussion is that there should be a prima facie case for supposing that there is a doubt as to whether local education authorities can possibly be ready. Can any Member of the Committee have any reasonable doubt that there is a grave possibility that a very large number of local authorities will not be ready to put the provisions of the Bill into effect on the date decided by the fiat of the right hon. Gentleman? Indeed, I need not ask that question, because the President has admitted it. It is now part of the case of the Government that, as a matter of fact, all local education authorities cannot be expected to be ready, and we live in hope that the President of the Board of Education, when we come to consider further Amendments, will withdraw the date in the Bill. But it is now the common assumption of all responsible Members of the Committee that there is very grave doubt as to whether many local education authorities will he ready.

That being so, let me refer for a moment to the different attitudes with which this matter is approached by the Government and the Opposition. We look upon the contingency that local education authorities cannot possibly be ready as due to the facts of nature. Time enough has not been given them, and we do not think that any local education authority, however willing, however able, however efficient and however much their backs may be in the work of education, can be ready in the time. Then there is the question of confidence in the local education authorities. Some hon. Members opposite, indeed a good many of them judging by their interrup- tions, seem to take a hostile attitude towards local education authorities. [interruption.] Oh, yes, it is quite unmistakeable. They look upon them as recalcitrant, as not doing their best for education. I detect this attitude in the President of the Board of Education himself towards the London County Council, which is the most unfortunate thing of all. If the right hon. Gentleman has considered the consequences of a conflict with the metropolis it might be of interest to him to make one of his many re-perusals into history, and read what Charles James Fox learned about caution, and the consequences of such an attack.

It is most unfortunate that this attitude of hostility towards those who are to be responsible for the administration of this Bill should make its appearance on the benches opposite. For my part, and I am sure that I speak for every hon. Member on this side of the house, we should like to avoid every possibility of conflict between the Executive Government and local education authorities and to do all in our power to prevent such conflict arising. We desire to smooth this matter over. Does not this Amendment provide the most convenient and appropriate means for that purpose? It. postpones a difficult question of time, involving the amour propre of the Government as to the date in the Bill, and provides a method by which all that is required to be done may be done without raising an issue of that kind. It will enable the Government by consultation with local education authorities to find a reasonable date and fix it. If it be the case that there are local education authorities which require, in the old phrase, ginger, this Amendment will enable the Government to apply the ginger and bring them up to date—in this case, however, it is really the facts of the case which prevent local education authorities being ready—and will enable the Board of Education to inform themselves on this matter on which they seem to be ignorant, and adapt their policy to the actual facts of the case.

We do not shirk the deeper question of principle involved in this Bill. It is contained in a passage from a speech by the President of the Board of Education, which I have to paraphrase from memory. He maintained, I understand, that it was better to keep the children in the schools under any conditions than to leave them in the present state in which they leave school at 14 years of age. On that 1 am prepared to join issue. I do not think it is possible for anyone who has the true interests of education at heart to think that it is better, rather than to allow children to leave school as they do now in the towns, to drive them for another year into schools with inadequate accommodation, in big classes of 50, to he taught by elderly and inexperienced teachers, and to give them a course of education which will be of no use to them. In the coup try districts it must he even worse to leave the children during the further growing year, the most susceptible of all years, marking time, continuing to be herded with younger children and receiving a course of instruction which they have already received. That is a course which must bring education into contempt. At the present time there is a ferment in the mind of the country as to the standard of value of our educational system. Those of us who believe more strongly than many in the benefits and value of education must be deeply concerned to see that the further strain which we put on the nation to accept sacrifices for education shall be made in favour of a service that, can be approved by the common sense of the people.

I am afraid that I differ from every speaker who has addressed the House up to now. That is not at all surprising. I do not want to get out of order, but there are two things that I wish to say. The Minister of Education is a year and a-half late in bringing in his Bill, and now it is not an education Measure at all but an unemployment Measure. That is what is really distressing many of us who are deeply concerned about education and are not averse to the raising of the school-leaving age—in fact we have fought for it ever since we have been in public life. I wish that the Minister would accept the Amendment. I doubt if the local education authorities can he ready before 1936. Some of them, of course, will never be ready. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite know as well as I do that if they had brought a Bill in as an educational measure and had followed on the lines laid down by the late Government, we would have had—[Interruption.] The late Minister of Education was too slow, and the present Minister is too fast, but on the whole the late Minister did far more for education than will be clone by trying to force on the country something that will make education even more unpopular than it is at the present time. It is no good our saying that education is popular. Had education been popular the Government would have brought in their Bill during the first Session of this Parliament. They brought forward two Bills which they had to withdraw.

The Noble Lady must confine her remarks to the precise Amendment that is under discussion the precise purpose of which is clear.

The Minister knows that there is real dismay throughout the country among all the education authorities. I have heard of it this summer up and clown the country. A former lady Member of this House has been travelling over England and Scotland and she says that never in her life did she know more dismay among education authorities than there is at the present time, because of the lack of purpose of the present Minister. Hon. Members opposite come to the House with a Measure which they admit will not provide a perfect education, or even a good education, and they know that not a quarter of the education authorities will he ready for it. We all know the difficulties of the years between 14 and 16. It is the most difficult age fur children. We know how hard it is to maintain their interest in school work. I agree with the Noble Lady who has spoken, that this extra year in the crowded rooms which will be inevitable until the schools are reorganised, will be a real injustice to education.

I ask the Minister to show a little more courage, to accept the Amendment for the sake of education, to forget that this is an unemployment Measure and to think of the children. The most discouraging thing is that the Minister is trying to make us think that in bringing forward this Bill he is thinkng of the children. He knows perfectly well that if he were thinking of the children he would consider first the kind of education that they were to get. In Plymouth we have raised the school-leaving age. It took a long time and a great deal of trouble to get the scheme to work. It is not perfected yet, but it will be within five years of the time of the scheme having been started. We have had some experience of the difficulties. Mothers were very averse to the scheme at first, but as we gradually provided a better kind of education there grew up a real enthusiasm for education. If the Government go on in this way and try to force their schemes on the local authorities and on the parents, even with the bribes—if they get them through, and I hope they will not—they will be doing a disservice to education. The whole purpose of education should be the formation of character and putting into the minds of children a love of learning. Very few people have it; very few Members of the House have it. The proof of that statement is that if hon. Members had it they would be chastising the Minister at the present time. But they are not thinking of learning; they are thinking of paltry party promises.

The Noble Lady knows perfectly well that she is now out of order.

The Noble Lady knows quite well that I defined clearly the limits within which she must confine her remarks on this Amendment.

I am very sorry if I have offended the Rules. I ask the Minister to take the point of view of learning, to think of the future and not to think that he is yielding to reaction by accepting the Amendment. Many of us are longing to help with this Bill. The House has accepted the principle of the raising of the school-leaving age to 15. I beg the Minister, then, to accept the Amendment and to give the local authorities a chance, to make up for all the shilly-shallying of the last 18 months, to stand forward as a great Minister by showing that he is big enough to consider the welfare of the children rather than the promises which were made by his party.

I have a good deal of sympathy with many of the things said by some of those who have spoken in support of the Amendment, and in particular I share fully the opinion emphasised by the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) that the number of local education authorities which will be ready in 1931 to put this Bill into operation is comparatively small. But I am not at all satisfied that this Amendment is the correct way of dealing with the situation. The real remedy is to postpone the date of the Bill coming into operation, but with that we cannot deal at the moment, as the Amendment does not propose to proceed in that way. The Amendment says that every local authority shall be the judge of the date on which the Bill is to be brought into operation. I believe that to be a thoroughly reactionary method. It may be suited to a system of voluntarily raising the school age that the local authority should decide, but this Bill is to make the raising of the age compulsory. It is to be the law of the land that every child shall remain in school until the age of 15 is reached.

The only logical course consistent with that principle is that the thing shall be done on a national basis and not left to each local authority. I believe that if the Amendment were incorporated in the Bill it would be interpreted by all the authorities that do not like the policy as an invitation to postpone it, perhaps indefinitely. My right hon. Friend deplored the possibility of a conflict between the executive and the local authorities. I think the conflict is much more likely to be invited than delayed by this Amendment. The day will come when the right hon. Gentleman will go out of office, and he may be succeeded by another Minister who is entirely out of sympathy with the proposals of this Bill. That again would be accepted by all these local authorities that do net like the policy as a reason for postponing the raising of the school age in their areas. There is another consideration: From the educational and administrative point of view it would be purely reactionary to do anything which would give the impression of departing from that national basis on which we are trying to build our educational system.

I congratulate the last speaker on having produced the only valid argument so far against this particular Amendment, for as we have listened to the arguments of the Minister and others we have arrived at a definite cleavage on matters of principle, and that cleavage we shall find throughout the proceedings on the Bill. I wonder whether the Minister regarded his own argument as really candid? We know that there is more than one reason for our opposing this Bill and supporting the Amendment, and that there is more than one reason for the right hon. Gentleman bringing forward the Bill and opposing the Amendment. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has other considerations in mind besides the mere welfare of the children. Yet from his speech one might have thought that every consideration except the welfare of the children was ruled completely out of his mind.

There is another consideration. There is another great national problem behind this Measure which prevents the Minister accepting the Amendment. We know that the question of unemployment is the real reason why he cannot accept the Amendment and we absolutely reject anti oppose the idea of any subservience of the needs of education to the general unemployment problem. We say that every advance in education should be accompanied by proper financial arrangements, should be properly thought-out and should be in the interests of education itself, quite apart from the general problem of unemployment, terrible as that problem is. To propose the solution of the unemployment problem by a crude Measure like this, under the guise of assisting education, is really a fraud upon the House of Commons. We say that every step in education should be taken with due regard to the principles, not only of economy but of efficiency, and there cannot be efficiency, if it is proposed, suddenly, to keep these children in school for another year. That has been proved beyond all shadow of doubt.

I think that every intelligent and reasonable member of the Committee is in favour of higher education or technical education for the children for another year. In principle we cannot oppose that idea, but I have advisedly used the terms "technical education" and "higher education." Merely to keep children in school for another year means that they will only he marking time, and the best that can be said of such a proposal is that it will keep them out of the labour market and out of the battle of life for one more year. Is that a good thing in itself? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Hon. Members opposite seem to have no doubt about it whatever, but I speak very diffidently upon the matter. Owing perhaps, to a happy knack of being able to write Greek and Latin composition, I have had advantages of education which otherwise would not have been available to me and which carried me on to a fairly ripe age still receiving education. There are some hon. Members opposite whose friendship I have the privilege of possessing and who have told me that their first step in life was for them a great adventure and that they gladly left the classroom where they had unwillingly stayed—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I know that such is the case. Charles Dickens has taught us that there may be a world of education even in such a. menial task as that of sticking labels on to bottles of blacking.

I speak very diffidently, having regard to my own experience, but I tell hon. Members opposite though they may find it difficult to believe—that many people—who like myself, have had the privilege of a sheltered education up to the age of 22, have been impatient of that education and have wished to go out into the world or at any rate to go into some more practical form of education. There are many Members on the other side who are just as well educated in a liberal way as I am myself, and who have a deeper and greater experience of life because they entered life at a much earlier age. I am of course an extreme case, but I came into the battle of life at the age of 22, a learned child, with very little experience of the world. I am only putting forward the point of view that there may be more real educational value in entering the battle of life at an early age, than in sitting on at school with younger children, going through a schedule which has been cone through before, under teachers who may be superannuated or dug up or entirely inexperienced.

The point which I raised was as to whether the hon. Member was holding himself up to us as an awful example.

My hon. Friend may hold any opinion he likes me or of the point of view which I am trying to express, but, however much he disagrees with me, I am an example of the higher education to the standard of which he wishes to raise every child in this country. Hon. Members must at least acknowledge that fact. There is absolutely no argument against the increase of higher education and technical education in this country. Technical education may save time and give a child a short cut to a career in life. Higher education will give an attitude of philosophy towards life which may be valuable in the crises of life whether small or great. Those forms of education are of great value to children, but I cannot see that mere attendance at school has any real value except to keep children out of the labour market. There is an idea on the other side that education is a purely passive arrangement and that by merely staying in school instead of going out into life, a child will absorb learning and have the benefit of education.

The hon. Member is embarking upon a general discussion of education, but he must confine himself to the purpose of the Amendment before the committee. The Amendment proposes to empower local authorities within limits to decide the period when the Bill is to become operative. Some discussion has been allowed to take place upon the submission of schemes by local authorities, but obviously we cannot have a general discussion on the details and character of those schemes.

I am sorry if I have transgressed any ruling of the Chair, but I should have thought that the Amendment was wide enough to cover the argument which I was presenting to the committee. With great respect, I submit that it would be useless to propose a change of this kind unless there has been proper preparation which means preparation for higher education and technical education and the organisation of central schools. Any immediate step such as the raising of the school leaving age without any kind of preparation, only means that the interests of education as a whole will be prejudiced and mortgaged in advance. We know that the Minister has another object in view, namely, the relief of unemployment, and if I can do so within the rules of order, I would ask him if he thinks that this proposal will have a very beneficial effect, even in that respect. We know that there is this paradox in the unemployment problem—

I must ask for your indulgence in this matter. I have said that the real argument against the Amendment was the argument as to unemployment and I thought it would be in order to introduce it here. If I am wrong, I shall abandon that line of argument.

If I allowed a discussion of that kind to take place upon this Amendment, there would be no end to it. We must keep the discussion within reasonable limits in relation to the substance of the Amendment.

Is it not the case that a slight reference to the relief of unemployment as one of the objects of the Bill has been allowed?

I do not remember having allowed even a slight reference, but as I have often said, I cannot be expected to know what a hon. Member is going to say until he says it. The only thing that I can do is to prevent him transgressing too far after he has said it.

I know, Mr. Dunnico, that you will be very kind to me and perhaps I need kindness as one of the terrible examples of higher education—rather difficult sometimes to control. If this scheme were to be postponed in accordance with the terms of the Amendment, then of course it would have very little bearing on the unemployment problem, and I submit that it is only because of the unemployment problem that the Minister cannot accept the Amendment.

I wish to try to bring this debate back to the point from which it constantly tends to stray—a point which has not yet been met from the Government benches. It is this. Granted that you have decided to raise the school-leaving age, ought you not, within limits, to leave local authorities a discretion as to the date upon which that change should actually be brought into force. I emphasise the words "within limits," because if you simply said that it was to be the duty of every local education authority to pass a by-law without giving them a maximum limit, of time, then, of course, the Amenmdent would be nugatory. I think it is the general desire that we should postpone the general question of the date of bringing the Act into operation until we come to deal with it on the last line of the Bill. Supposing that you are going to fix a time-limit, the Amendment proposes that you should leave local authorities, within that limit, free. In other words, 50 or perhaps 80 authorities would be enabled to raise the school age actually earlier than they would under the proposal of the hon. Member for the Welsh University (Mr. Evans) to fix a universal date for the whole country.

There are two arguments against that suggestion. One is the argument that you would have ail the trouble which we experienced in London when they tried to start continuation schools and children from other areas came in to work in London. As regards continuation schools, I think my noble Friend the late Parliamentary Secretary to the Board has given a complete answer. I grant that the question of controlling entrance into an area where the school age has been raised, from areas where it has not been raised, is a more difficult question, because you cannot simply pass a by-law forcing an employer to send a child to continuation classes. You have to get some means by which the employer shall not be able to employ a child of that age, from whatever area the child comes. I maintain that that is a perfectly easy thing to do. There is no reason except a reason of precedent why you should not give local education authorities control, not only over all children residing in the area, but over all children working in the area. I know that there is no precedent for it.

I raised this question with the Ministry of Labour during my term of office. I was considering how to facilitate local authorities and enable them to have greater freedom to raise the school age, or to go in for continuation schools, without being interfered with by children coming in from areas outside. I remember discussing it. One was told, as every Minister is told in these days, that this would be a terrible departure from precedent, that it would be a terrible thing to extend the control of the local authority to include children working in its area as well as to those residing there. But surely, if you are going in for a Measure of this kind, you ought to be prepared to dismiss old precedents and deal with the new situation as it is presented to you, and that is a perfectly easy thing to do, if you are going to raise the school leaving age. That, I submit, is what we ought to do. The second argument against this proposal is that if you do this, you are allowing laggard authorities—

Laggard authorities. My Noble Friend cannot get hold of that word. She could not get it when ray right hon. Friend was using it. The second argument is, that if you do this, you are allowing the slow local authorities not to come up to the scratch. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman really to consider this point. He has always been inclined to divide local education authorities into laggards and others, into backward authorities and others. I confess that my experience of local education authorities does not enable me to divide them into those two categories. I should find it very difficult, for instance, to say in what category, if I had to put it in one of the two, such an authority as Plymouth, which has actually raised the school leaving age, belongs, My complaint about Plymouth in my time was that they were very progressive in wanting to apply compulsion and in the schemes that they produced, but not extremely progressive in the rapidity or the practical genius with which they carried out those schemes.

That is what the Plymouth authority thought, from their point of view, but from my point of view I took the line, whether I agreed or not with the raising of the school leaving age, that I had the duty under the Act to approve or disapprove, not according to my personal views, the proposals of an authority like Plymouth, and I had to say, "From my point of view, I will by all means approve of your raising the school leaving age within your area if you will only get on with the job and prepare the schools," and the trouble was that they were so full of ideas that they did not do the work.

I am not asking the Committee to accept my views of the Plymouth local authority, but I do not know, practically, a single local education authority in the country which is not in some respects, in perhaps one little respect, better and more progressive than any of the other local education authorities in the country, and this attempt to divide them into categories and to say you have backward and progressive authorities is utterly wrong. It is utterly unreal, and it bears no relation to the facts whatever. What is making some of the most progressive authorities in the country laggards in this particular business of reorganisation? All the time that I was at the Board of Education every teacher would always say to me, "It would be all very well if every local authority in the country was like the London County Council. Then we should all be in clover, but, of course, you have authorities which are not progressive like the London County Council."

I think hon. Members opposite will agree that, generally speaking, the London County Council for the last 20 years has done its job extraordinarily well, and with very great efficiency. Why, then, has it always been hesitating on this subject? Why has Manchester always been hesitating on this subject? I might even say, "Why have even the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Richardson), such a progressive educationist as himself, and so many of his colleagues been so strongly against the whole idea of central schools right up to about 1927 or 1928? Why are there all these difficulties? Why have people been laggard?

It is that question which you have reminded us, Mr. Dunnico, we must touch on with some caution—this question of curriculum. What has troubled the London County Council and other individual local education authorities is that they say, "It is fairly simple in our case to bring all these children together between 11 and 14 or 15 into one building; it is even comparatively easy to see that those premises contain accommodation for a carpentry shop, but is that enough? What sort of curriculum, what sort of education, are you going to give?" I hope, Mr. Dunnico, you will let me go so far as to say just this, that one of the main difficulties about practical instruction to growing boys to-day is this: Twenty-five or 30 years ago our practical sense and our love of mechanics and so on used to reveal itself in taking the family bicycle to pieces—and great nuisances we were when we did it—but now it is revealed in a passion for internal combustion engines. You can satisfy the mind of the first kind of boy within the walls of a central school with a carpentry bench and a lathe or two, but how will you satisfy there that passion for handling mechanical power and seeing wheels go round?

I think the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) realises that particularly, because I noticed that he had a question put down to the right hon. Gentleman to-day as to the mechanical equipment of secondary schools. You want, for a vast number of these boys, something far more like a junior technical school than any central school that you have got in existence to-day. Those are the problems which really make many local education authorities lag. I remember the right hon. Gentleman himself telling the House about five years ago that, though it was a Tory authority and the hon. Members behind him might not believe it, Kent was a very progressive authority. What happened in Kent? My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Lieut. - Colonel Spender - Clay) has already mentioned it. They have got thrown on to them all the problems of the new coal area. They have the problem of the extension of London's suburbs, they have to a terrible degree the problem of the rearrangement of local areas for which, I grant, we in our Local Government Act were responsible, and which the right hon. Gentleman is attempting to remedy by a Bill which has been introduced into the House of Lords, but his remedy will not meet Kent's case, because it does not meet the question of the areas. That is purely the difficulty of producing a plan for reorganisation and getting bricks and mortar work done.

Then you have the problem of the rural area, the appallingly difficult problem of educating, in a rural school, boys of that age, not all of whom are going there to be workers on the land. That is the real difficulty. You cannot, with your school garden and so on, keep the rural school as an isolated thing where everyone will be a rural worker, and so you get this enormous variety of problems in different areas of the country. I will mention an authority like Westmorland where perforce, because of the distances, the whole of the education of the older children in the county has been built up, and extraordinarily efficiently built up, on something like the old Highland dominie system, with one or two teachers having to deal with children of all ages, right up from five to 14, and doing it with extraordinary efficiency, by a technique which has been developed over years. It formed the beginnings of what we now proudly call the Dalton plan.

Under this proposal you will wipe out the whole of that technique and make a complete change-over to central schools. The difficulty of mere conveyance and transport will be enormous, but, quite apart from that, it will mean a difference in the whole handling of your curriculum. Surely, if you look at local authorities like that, not merely on a map divided into squares and circles, but as representing entities, with a living local spirit and, on the whole, composed of men and women who are doing their best according to their lights to meet the needs of the children in their area—when you look at this problem and this Amendment like that, surely you might trust the local authorities.

May I, in conclusion, ask hon. Members opposite to cast their minds back. When the Hadow Report came out, they said it was essential to reorganisation, according to the Hadow recommendations, that we should pass an Act by anticipation raising the school leaving age as from five years hence, and they said, "If you do not do that, the local authorities will not get on with the job." My reply was, "Well, I think I have done a bit of mobilising local authorities while I have been in office, and I think they will do the job. I think they ought to do the job as volunteers, and you ought to be able, if you are going to raise the school leaving age, to come to Parliament and say, "The job has been done or nearly done." You ought not to come to Parliament and say, "You must put pressure on recalcitrant authorities in order to force them to do the job."

6.0 p.m

Hon. Members opposite accused us Conservatives of all sorts of crimes against education, and their handbooks at the last election were full of the most violent accusations against us. This Parliament began, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite—and I am very much touched by it—has never ceased to say that after all t he last. Government did an extraordinarily good job, and that the schools are very, very efficient; and the Parliamentary Secretary has made speeches extolling us in this House and extolling the complete and balanced system of education which the Conservative party succeeded in sketching out. Does any hon. Member opposite really believe—I know that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) believes—that if one had passed a mere Act of Parliament—a hit of paper—in 1927, that reorganisation would have been further to-day than it is? I do not think that anyone who knows the work of local authorities really believes it. I say, with all due submission, that I was right in trying to mobilise local authorities in the work of reorganisation on a voluntary basis, and that you can trust the education authorities, as you ought to trust them, by accepting the Amendment.

The Noble Lord, in the opening passages of his speech, brought the Committee back to the fundamental point which we are supposed to be discussing at this juncture, namely, the problem as to whether we ought to give a sort of local option to local authorities to raise the school age by the method of a by-law. The first part of the second Amendment suggests that local authorities should have imposed upon them the duty of presenting to the Board schemes in connection with advanced instruction. These are the two points with which we are essentially concerned at this juncture. The Noble Lord quite fairly faced up to the objections which are advanced to this proposal. The first is that if we give local education authorities this form of local option, we shall be up against a position where children from one area where there is no by-law, will migrate into an area where there is a by-law, and take the jobs of children who are at school. The Noble Lord suggested that that difficulty could be met by something on the lines of what was done in Rugby, and that we might even empower local authorities to veto this migration of children from one area to another. That, of course, is quite a logical proposition, but as compared with the proposal in the Bill, it is far more complicated.

Our proposal is that throughout the country simultaneously there shall be a raising of the school age for all children. I want to advance this argument in support of that proposal. When we have a series of local authorities, some ready to enforce a by-law and others unwilling, whatever method we may adopt to overcome the difficulties thereby created, there will be left in the minds of the parents a substantial measure of opposition and resentment against unequal treatment between the area in which they happen to be living and another. Therefore, on the ground of sheer simplicity, it is far better to have one general raising of the school age throughout the country, all areas being similarly involved. The right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) put up a subtle argument when he said, "Why do you not take this olive branch? We are anxious to help you out of your diffi- culty, and why does not the right hon. Gentleman accept it in good faith?" My right hon. Friend comes from a family of historians, and he has heard of the wooden horse of Troy, whereby that famous city fell through the innocence of the besieged people. We are not going to have this wooden horse introduced into our citadel. We propose to maintain our citadel intact, and our proposal is that the school age shall be raised simultaneously throughout the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] We have already been told by the Chair that the question of date will be the subject of further discussion.

Various arguments are advanced why we should entertain this proposal on other grounds. May I correct an impression which the Noble Lady made in her speech? I am sure that she did not intentionally try to mislead the Committee; it arises from a misunderstanding between us. She made great play with the figures relating to certain local authorities, which she said would not be ready, or she deemed would not be ready. The figures related to two sets of authorities. We were asked on one occasion what authorities would be ready by the summer of 1932, when the full effect of the Bill would be in operation. It was in answer to that question that the figure of 142 was given. The figure was not given in respect of 1st April, 1931. There is not the slightest reason, from the point of view of this Bill, why on 1st April next year they should be actually ready, because the full effect of the Bill will not be felt until at least nine months after it comes into effect. We should not, therefore, be alarmed if none were ready on 1st April next year.

It is suggested in the first part of the second Amendment that the best procedure would be by means of schemes. Curiously enough, nobody has made any speech in support of that proposal this afternoon.

I understood the Deputy-Chairman to rule that we are entitled to debate the first Amendment dealing with the Bill, and also the first part of the second Amendment in relation to schemes.

My Ruling was that it would be quite in order to use as an argument that schemes must be provided, but that it would be out of order to discuss the details of those schemes.

The only point I was making was this: We prefer to proceed by the method which the Noble Lord adopted in the matter of programmes.

I proceeded by way of the voluntary mobilisation of local authorities. I prefer it, but in this Bill the Government are doing what I did not do, and refused to do; they are putting compulsion on the parents, and I say that if you are going to compel the parents, you must put a compulsory duty upon the local authority.

The difference between us is that hon. Members opposite believe that the best way to deal with it is by schemes, and we believe that the best way is to follow previous administrations by asking for definite programmes for a period of years. The other thing I want to emphasise is this: My right hon. Friend does not try to draw a line of demarcation between authorities, such as calling some laggards and others non-laggards. That is not his idea, but there is no disputing that there are differences between local authorities, and that there are individual authorities who are not unwilling to raise the Tory "Jolly Roger." Taking local authorities in the main throughout the country, however, we have no complaint to make. They are responding in a very remarkable way, but there are authorities under the leadership of people who are not convinced of the efficacy of this proposal, and they may tend, if they have local option, to postpone the duty of introducing laws until the last moment. The result inevitably will be that the children in their areas will not be able to avail themselves of the same measure of advanced educational provision as the children in other areas where by-laws are in operation. We have experience of by-laws in operation. Plymouth and three other places give us substantial experience to go by, and the plain truth is that in those areas the by-law procedure has not proved to be as satisfactory as many of its authors anticipated. I believe that the whole balance of argument is in favour of making this one procedure throughout the country. We have had a fairly good, full and frank expression of opinion upon the point, and I hope that the Committee will feel disposed to come to a decision.

If the final decision of the Committee is that some postponement is necessary, I hope that it will take the form of a postponement of the date rather than the form of this Amendment. The very document that has been circulated to the House by the Association of Education Authorities indicates the danger of leaving the matter to the decision of the local authorities. They claim that it cannot be said that any of the larger authorities have to any substantial degree made any provision for the senior work of the elementary schools. That is a poor argument for the principle of local option. The question of reorganisation has been before the country for a considerable number of years, and, as the Noble Lady said, even before the date of the Hadow Report; and if the larger authorities have not got on effectively with the work of reorganisation—although that may be an exaggeration—surely it is an illustration of the fact that they have the temperament of the unwise virgins, who always leave the trimming of their lamps until the bright moment of the dawn. That is likely to be the case with the local authorities. Therefore, if there must be postponement, I hope it wilt take the shape of a delay in the date; but I hope the Government may still find it possible to stick to the appointed day. One of the strongest reasons for doing so is that which has again and again been thrown in the teeth of the Government as though it were a reproach, and that is that they are connecting this question with unemployment.

We have to face the fact that one of the strongest arguments for immediate action is the abnormality of the times in the matter of employment. If these were normal times and it were a question of postponing the Measure for a year or two in order to give those authorities which are behind an opportunity to get ahead with their preparations, there might be a very strong case for delay; but we have to consider what will happen to the children who will not be kept at school if the date be delayed. A child of 14 who is not kept at school either gets a job on leaving or he does not. I have in my mind a recent visit to a small industrial town, one of those mushroom towns which have grown up mainly in the years since the War, and is in a part of the country not well provided with technical schools or secondary schools, with no museum or picture gallery and no public library, though there is, I think, one municipal park. It is in one of the depressed areas. On the day of my visit, a cold day in autumn, I discovered, not a large proportion of boys and girls between 14 and 15, because most of them seemed to have got fairly easily into a neighbouring factory, but hundreds and hundreds of their immediate seniors, boys and girls of 15 to 17, standing about at the corners of those muddy streets with nothing to do from morning to night but read the football and betting news in the papers.

The hon. Lady must limit her attention to children under the age of 15.

The point of my argument is that if the children of 14 to 15 are kept in school, we make an opportunity for a considerable proportion of their seniors to find employment, and we cannot lose sight of that face.

This raises the question of unemployment which I have distinctly ruled to be out of order on this Amendment. We must keep to the subject-matter of this Amendment.

Division No. 14.]

AYES.

[6.22 p.m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Benson, G.Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Bentham, Dr. EthelCameron, A. G.
Addison, Rt Hon. Dr. ChristopherBevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Cape, Thomas
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.Birkett, W. NormanCarter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Blindell, JamesCharleton, H. C.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBondfield, Rt. Hon. MargaretChater, Daniel
Angell, NormanBowen, J. W.Church, Major A. G.
Arnott, JohnBowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Clarke, J. S.
Aske, Sir RobertBrockway, A. FennerClose, W. S.
Attlee, Clement RichardBromfield, WilliamCocks, Frederick Seymour
Ayles, WalterBromley, J.Compton, Joseph
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston)Brooke, W.Cove, William G.
Baldwin. Oliver (Dudley)Brothers. M.Cowan, D. M.
Barnes, Alfred JohnBrown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Daggar, George
Barr, JamesBrown, Ernest (Leith)Dallas, George
Betey, JosephBrown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Dalton, Hugh
Bellamy, AlbertBrown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Buchanan. G.Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Burgess, F. G.Day, Harry

I obey your Ruling, but I plead that there should be no postponement of the date, because we have before us the dilemma of what is to happen to the children if they are not kept at school.

I am sorry the Parliamentary Secretary should have banged the door on this rather important matter. This Amendment is not a Trojan horse. There is no trickery.

I am sorry, but I was saying that there is no trick in this Amendment. It is a serious matter to admit that out of 317 authorities 228 will not be ready when the Measure is to come into operation. But in the words of the Minister, which I took down, in two or three years most of the authorities will be ready. It is clear that we cannot possibly leave these authorities to make by-laws as and when they like, but why not put in a time limit? Why should we postpone the Bill altogether? Why should we not say that the 89 authorities which are ready should put their work into operation at once and let the others make their by-laws, but with a strict limit as to time? Let the limit be put at five years, if you like. I fail to see why it should not be done. Personally, I have great confidence in these authorities, and I see no reason why this suggestion should not be adopted.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 151.

Denman, Hon. R. D.Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.Rowson, Guy
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dukes, C.Lees, J.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Duncan, CharlesLewis, T. (Southampton)Sanders, W. S.
Ede, James ChuterLindley, Fred W.Sandham, E.
Edmunds, J. E.Lloyd, C. EllisSawyer, G. F.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Logan, David GilbertScrymgeour, E.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Longbottom, A. W.Scurr, John
Egan, W. H.Longden, F.Sexton, James
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lowth, ThomasShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Forgan. Dr. RobertLunn, WilliamShaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Freeman, PeterMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Sherwood, G. H
Gardner. J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Mac Donald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Shield, George William
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Gibbins, JosephMcElwee, A.Shillaker, J. F.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)McEntee, V. L.Shinwell, E.
Gill, T. H.McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gillett, George M.McKinlay. A.Simmons, C. J.
Glassey, A. E.MacLaren, AndrewSinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Gossling, A. G.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Sinkinson, George
Gould, F.Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Sitch, Charles H.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)MacNeill-Weir, L.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Gray, MilnerMcShane, John JamesSmith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Grenfell, D. R (Glamorgan)Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Smith, H. B. Lees.-(Keighley)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro W.)Mansfield, W.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)March, S.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Groves, Thomas E.Marcus, M.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Grundy, Thomas W.Markham, S. F.Snell, Harry
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Marley, J.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)Marshall, FredSnowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Mathers, GeorgeSorensen, R.
Harbord, A.Matters, L. W.Stamford, Thomas W.
Hardie, George D.Messer, FredStephen, Campbell
Harris, Percy A.Middleton, G.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMillar, J. D.Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Haycock, A. W.Milner, Major J.Strauss, C. R.
Hayday, ArthurMorgan, Dr. H. B.Sullivan, J.
Hayes, John HenryMorley, RalphSutton, J. E.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Morris, Rhys HopkinsTaylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Henderson, Arthur, junr (Cardiff, S.)Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Mort, D. L.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Herriotts, J.Moses, J. J. H.Tillett, Ben
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R, Wentworth)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Tinker, John Joseph
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Toole, Joseph
Hoffman, P. C.Muff, G.Tout, W. J.
Hollins. A.Muggeridge, H. T.Treveiyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hopkin, DanielMurnin, HughTurner, B.
Horrabin, J. F.Naylor, T. E.Vaughan, D. J.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Viant, S. P.
Isaacs, GeorgeNoel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)Walkden, A. G.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Oldfield, J. R.Walker, J.
John, William (Rhondda, West)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Wallace, H. W.
Johnston, ThomasOliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Wellhead, Richard C.
Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Watkins, F. C.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Owen, H. F, (Hereford)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Palin, John Henry.Wellock, Wilfred
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)Paling, WilfridWelsh, James (Paisley)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Palmer, E. T.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)West, F. R.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Perry, S. F.Westwood, Joseph
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.White, H. G.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Phillips. Dr. MarionWhiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Kelly, W. T.Picton-Turbervill, EdithWilkinson, Ellen C.
Kennedy, ThomasPole, Major D. G.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Potts, John S.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)
Kirkwood, D.Price, M. P.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Knight, HolfordQuibell, D J. K.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molten)Ramsay, T. B. WilsonWilson, J. (Oldham)
Lang, GordonRathbone, EleanorWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Lansbury, Rt. Han. GeorgeRaynes, W. R.Wise, E. F.
Lathan, G.Richards, R.Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Law, Albert (Bolton)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wright, W. (Ruthergien)
Law, A. (Rossendale)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lawrence, SusanRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Ritson, J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Lawson, John JamesRomeril, H. G.Mr. William Whiteley and Mr. Thurtle.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Leach, W.Rothschild, J. de

NOES.

Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelAmery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l. W.)Astor, ViscountessBeaumont, M. W.
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)Atholl, Duchess ofBerry, Sir George

Betterton, Sir Henry B.Galbraith, J. F. W.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGanzoni, Sir JohnPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Bird, Ernest RoyGower, Sir RobertPliditch, Sir Philip
Boothby, R. J. G.Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Pownall, Sir Assheton
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Ramsbotham, H.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. VansittartGreaves-Lord, Sir WalterRemer, John R.
Boyce, H. L.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Revcoids, Col. Sir James
Bracken, B.Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnRoberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Guinness, Rt. Hon. Waiter E.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamGunston, Captain D. W.Roes, Major Ronald D.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Salmon, Major I.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Hanbury, C.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Butler, R. A.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenrySamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHarlington, Marquess ofSandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Campbell, E. T.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Carver, Major W. H.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Simms, Major-General J.
Castle Stewart, Earl ofHills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerSkelton, A. N.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hurd, Percy A.Smith. R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cazalet, Gaptain Victor A.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert BurtonHutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Smithers, Waldron
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Kindersley, Major G. M.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cobb, Sir CyrilKnox, Sir AlfredSouthby, Commander A. R. J.
Colfax, Major William PhilipLaw, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Colman, N. C. D.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Colville, Major D. J.Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Cranborne, ViscountLiewellin, Major J. J.Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyThomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Tinne, J. A.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C.Macquisten, F. A.Titchfield. Major the Marquess of
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyMaitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Todd, Capt. A. J.
Davies, Dr. VernonMakins, Brigadier-General E.Train. J.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Margesson, Captain D.Turton, Robert Hugh
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Marjoribanks, EdwardVaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Dawson, Sir PhilipMason, Colonel Glyn K.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Duckworth, G. A. V.Meller, R. J.Warrender, Sir Victor
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Merriman, Sir F. BoydWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Eden, Captain AnthonyMitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Wells, Sydney R.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Elliot, Major Walter E.Mansell, Eyres, Com. Rt Hon. Sir B.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.)Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Withers, Sir John James
Everard, W. LindsayMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Womersley, W. J.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Wood. Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ferguson, Sir JohnNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton.
Fielden, E. B.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Fison, F. G. ClaveringNicholson, Col. Rt. Hn W. G. (PtrsPid)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Ford, Sir P. J.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamSir Frederick Thomson and Captain Wallace.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Peaks, Capt. Osbert
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Penny, Sir George

Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."

Division No. 15.]

AYES.

[6.34 p.m.

Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelCautley, Sir Henry S.Fison, F. G. Clavering
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l.,W.)Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Ford, Sir P. J.
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert BurtonFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Astor, ViscountessChamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Galbraith, J. F. W.
Atholl, Duchess ofCobb, Sir CyrilGanzonl, Sir John
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Colfox, Major William PhilipGower, Sir Robert
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Colman, N. C. D.Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Beaumont, M. W.Colville, Major D. J.Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Berry, Sir GeorgeCranborne, ViscountGreaves-Lord, Sir Walter
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanCroft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Bird, Ernest RoyCrookshank, Capt. H. C.Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Boothby, R. J. G.Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyGunston, Captain D. W.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftDavies, Dr. VernonHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Bowater. Col. Sir T. VansittartDavies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)Hanbury, C.
Boyce, H. L.Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Bracken, B.Dawson, Sir PhilipHartington, Marquess of
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Duckworth, G. A. V.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamDugdale, Capt. T. L.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeEden, Captain AnthonyHerbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)Edmondson, Major A. J.Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Burton, Colonel H. W.Elliot, Major Walter E.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Butler, R. A.Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.)Hurd, Percy A.
Cadogan. Major Hon. EdwardEverard, W. LindsayHurst, Sir Gerald B.
Campbell, E. T.Falle, Sir Bertram G.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Carver, Major W. H.Ferguson, Sir JohnKindersley, Major G. M.
Castle Stewart, Earl ofFlelden, E. B.Knox, Sir Alfred

The Committee divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 295.

Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Pllditch, Sir PhilipStanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Leighton, Major B. E. P.Pownall, Sir AsshetonSteel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Ramsbotham, H.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Liewellin, Major J. J.Reid, David D. (County Down)Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Remer, John R.Thomson, Sir F.
Macquisten, F. A.Reynolds, Col. Sir JamesTinne, J. A.
Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Makins, Brigadier-General E.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James RennellTodd, Capt. A. J.
Margesson, Captain H. D.Ross, Major Ronald D.Train, J.
Marjoribanks, EdwardSalmon, Major I.Turton, Robert Hugh
Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Ward, Lieut.-Col- Sir A. Lambert
Meller, R. J.Sandeman, Sir N. StewartWarrender, Sir Victor
Merriman, Sir F. BoydSassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Shepperson, sir Ernest WhittomeWells, Sydney R.
Mitchell-Thomson. Rt. Hon. Sir W.Simms, Major-General J.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Skelton, A. N.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)Withers, Sir John James
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr).Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Womersley, W. J.
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Smithers, WaldronYoung, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Somervlile, A. A. (Windsor)
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)Somervlile, D. G. (Willesden, East)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamSouthby, Commander A. R. J.Sir George Penny and Captain Wallace.
Peake, Capt. OsbertSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Percy, Lord Eustace Hastings

NOES.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Day, HarryJohnston, Thomas
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Denman, Hon. R. D.Jones, F. Liewellyn- (Flint)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherDudgeon, Major C. R.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.Dukes, C.Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Duncan, CharlesJones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeEde, James ChuterJones. Morgan (Caerphilly)
Angell, NormanEdmunds, J. E.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Arnott, JohnEdwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Aske, Sir RobertEdwards, E. (Morpeth)Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)
Attlee, Clement RichardEgan, W. H.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Ayles, WalterEvans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)Kelly, W. T.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)Forgan, Dr. RobertKennedy, Thomas
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Freeman. PeterKenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon, Joseph M.
Barnes. Alfred JohnGardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Kirkwood, D.
Barr, JamesGardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Knight, Holford
Batey, JosephGeorge, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Lang, Gordon
Bellamy, AlbertGeorge, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Gibbins, JosephLathan, G.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)Law. Albert (Bolton)
Benson, G.Gill, T. H.Law, A. (Rossendale)
Bentham, Dr. EthelGillett, George M.Lawrence, Susan
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Glassey, A. E.Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Birkett, W. NormanGossling, A. G.Lawson, John James
Blindell, JamesGould, F.Lawther, W. (Barnard Cattle)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. MargaretGraham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Leach, W.
Bowen, J. W.Gray, MilnerLee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Bowerman Rt. Hon. Charles W.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Brockway, A. FennerGriffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Lees, J.
Bromfield, WilliamGriffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Bromley, J.Groves, Thomas E.Lindley, Fred W.
Brooke, W.Grundy, Thomas W.Lloyd, C. Ellis
Brothers, M.Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Longbottom, A. W.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)Longden, F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Lowth, Thomas
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Harbord, A.Lunn, William
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Hardie, George D.Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Buchanan, G.Harris, Percy A.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Burgess, F. G.Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Haycock, A. W.Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Cameron, A. G.Heyday, ArthurMcElwee, A.
Cape, ThomasHayes, John HenryMcEntee, V. L.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Charleton, H. C.Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)McKinlay, A.
Chater, DanielHenderson, Thomas (Glasgow)MacLaren, Andrew
Church, Major A. G.Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Clarke, J. S.Herrlotts, J.Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Cluse, W. S.Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)MacNeill-Weir, L.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHirst, W. (Bradford, South)McShane, John James
Compton, JosephHoffman, P. C.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Cove, William G.Hollins, A.Mansfield, W.
Cowan, D. M.Hopkin, DanielMarch, S.
Dagger, GeorgeHorrabin, J. F.Marcus, M.
Dallas, GeorgeHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Markham, S. F,
Dalton, HughIsaacs, GeorgeMarley, J.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Marshall, Fred
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)John, William (Rhondda, West)Mathers, George

Matters, L. W.Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Sullivan, J.
Messer, FredRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Sutton, J. E.
Middleton, G.Ritson, J.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Millar, J. D.Romeril, H. G.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Milner, Major J.Rosbotham, D. S. T.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Rothschild, J. deThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Morley, RalphRowson, GuyTillett, Ben
Morris, Rhys HopkinsSalter, Dr. AlfredTinker, John Joseph
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Samuel, Rt. Han. Sir H. (Darwen)Toole, Joseph
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)Tout, W. J.
Mort, D. LSanders, W. S.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Moses, J. J. H.Sandham, E.Turner, B.
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Sawyer, G. F.Vaughan, D. J.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Scrymgeour, E.Viant, S. P.
Muff, G.Scurr, JohnWalkden, A. G.
Muggeridge, H. T.Sexton, JamesWalker, J.
Murnin, HughShakespeare, Geoffrey H.Wallace, H. w.
Naylor, T. E.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Wallhead, Richard C.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Shepherd, Arthur LewisWatkins, F. C.
Noel Baker, P. J.Sherwood. G. HWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)Shield, George WilliamWellock, Wilfred
Oldfield, J. R.Shiels, Dr. DrummondWelsh, James (Paisley)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Shillaker, J. F.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Shinwell, E.West, F. R.
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Westwood, Joseph
Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Simmons, C. J.White, H. G.
Palin, John HenrySinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Paling, WilfridSinkinson, GeorgeWilkinson, Ellen C.
Palmer, E. T.Sitch, Charles H.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Perry, S. F.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Phillips, Dr. MarionSmith, Rennie (Penistone)Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Picton-Turbervill, EdithSmith, Tom (Pontefract)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Pole, Major D. G.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Potts, John S.Snell, HarryWise, E. F.
Price, M. P.Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipWood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Pybus, Percy JohnSnowden, Thomas (Accrington)Wright, W. (Ruthergien)
Quibell, D. J. K.Sorensen, R.Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Ramsay, T. B. WilsonStamford, Thomas W.
Rathbone, EleanorStephen, CampbellTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Raynes, W. R.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)Mr. William Whiteley and Mr. Thurtle.
Richards, R.Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Strauss, G. R.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, after the word "be," to insert the words:

"for the first period specified in sub-section (5) of section two the end of the first complete term after the child shall have attained the age of fourteen years, for the second period specified in that sub-section the end of the second complete term after the child shall have attained the age of fourteen years and thereafter."
This Amendment should be read in connection with a later Amendment of mine to Clause 2—in Clause 2, page 3, line 29, to leave out Sub-section (5), and to insert instead thereof the words:
"(5) The first period mentioned in subsection (1) of section one shall be from the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, to the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, and the second period mentioned in that sub-section shall be from the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, to the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight."
Its effect is to raise the school-leaving age by one term a year, beginning in April, 1936, and providing that in the first year the leaving age shall be the end of the second term after the 14th birthday of the child, instead of the end of the first term as at present; that from 1937 to 1938 it shall be the end of the third term after the 14th birthday of the child; and that from then onwards it shall be 15 years. I suppose that this proposal is not unfamiliar to hon. Gentlemen opposite who are interested in education or industry, because it was a recommendation made, by Sir Arthur Balfour's Committee on Trade and Industry, and that is the proposal which I desire to argue.

The reason for this Amendment is, of course, our old friend the "bulge," but I do not think that the Committee has ever had accurately before it that the "bulge" means, (a), from the point of view of juvenile employment, and, (b), from the point of view of the number of children in the schools. It is particularly about the employment position that I want to speak, although I want to touch afterwards on the position in the schools. The employment position is this: If nothing is done—if this Bill is not passed and no measures are taken—there will be seeking employment between the ages of 14 and 17 inclusive, at the present day, in 1930, an estimated number of 2,110,000 young persons, and that number will fail by 1933 to 1,756,000; that is to say, there will be a drop in the number of juveniles in the labour market of some 350,000. The number will then rise, from 1933 to 1937, to about 2,200,000, or an increase of 450,000 juveniles in the labour market. It will then fall away again until, in 1940, it will be about 1,920,000, or a decrease of 280,000. That is the course of the supply of juvenile labour to the labour market if nothing is done, and, clearly, the fluctuations in the supply are going to make it very difficult for industry to absorb that labour. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) shakes his head, but is industry quite able to absorb a fluctuating supply of labour?

Is not the Noble Lord taking into consideration the alterations that are now being made to cope with the position at the moment and for the next two years?

For the next two years there will be a, declining labour supply, and then it will be necessary to deal with a tremendously increasing labour supply. The hon. Member says that measures are being taken to deal with that, and I am very glad to hear it, but we have not heard anything of them in the House—

I hope we shall hear something about them. What will happen if this Bill is passed? I can only give, as I have already given, the calculations of the Ministry of Labour itself, and the calculations of the Ministry of Labour is that, instead of a drop of 350,000 between 1930 and 1933 in the supply of labour to the juvenile labour market, there will be a drop of 780,000 between 1930 and 1934. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), on the Second Reading, said that surely I must realise that there would only be a drop in one year. I think he will see that that is arithmetically wrong. In each year of that period there will be about 400,000 fewer juveniles coming into the labour market than there otherwise would be, and then there will be the same rise and the same fall which I have indicated. Therefore, while this Bill will accentuate the sudden cutting off of the supply of juvenile labour, it will do nothing to correct the increase in the supply of labour, and, by so much as it forces industry to cut down its demand for juvenile labour, so much the more difficult will it be for industry to absorb the increased supply of juvenile labour when the rise comes. It was for these reasons that the Balfour Committee proposed that, if the school-leaving age was raised, it should be raised gradually in such a way as to even out as far as possible the supply of juvenile labour, and get a gradual reduction as far as possible instead of violent fluctuations.

Here I have only my own calculations to go upon, but my calculation on the other two points, as to what will happen if nothing is done and if the school-leaving age be raised, agree so closely with the Government figures that I think my calculations are probably accurate. If the school-leaving age be raised gradually, as I propose, between 1936 and 1938, the position will be roughly this: There will be 1,750,000 juveniles seeking employment in 1933. That figure will rise to 1,830,000 in 1934, it will fall again to 1,720,000 in 1935, and the figures for the succeeding years will be:

19361,770,000
19371,790,000
19381,690,000
19391,620,000
19401,540,000

Therefore, while there will be some minor fluctuations, there will be on the whole a steady decline, and the biggest decline in any one year will be 100,000. I do not think there can be any doubt that, from the point of view of juvenile unemployment, that would be very much the best thing that could be done. You would reach the position that the Bill seeks to reach by 1938, but you would not run the risk of sudden fluctuations in the supply of juvenile labour, which must be accompanied by a considerable amount of juvenile unemployment.

At this point I should like to remind hon. Members of a very interesting observation made by Sir William Beveridge in his recent book on unem-

ployment, where he argued, as I understand it, that one of the influences which caused the arrest in the increase in real wages in this country between 1900 and 1910—one of the causes of the worker being in a bad bargaining position with the employer—was that successive raisings of the school leaving age had dammed back the supply of juvenile labour to the labour market, and that, when the influence of that damming back had disappeared, there was released upon the labour market a large over-supply of juvenile labour. [ Interruption.] That is not my argument—

That is obviously a very serious matter, and, when hon. Members suggest that we should do in this Bill as has always been done in this country before, the answer, from the point of view of employment as well as of education, is that these rather blind raisings of the school-leaving age in the past have produced very serious repercussions on the employment market and on the interests of workers in this country, and it surely is obvious that, if it can be done, it is desirable to even out as far as possible the supply of juvenile labour. I have given the figures which represent the contrast between the method which I propose and the method which the Government propose. If nothing is done at all, the number of juveniles seeking employment in 1940 will still be 230,000 more than in 1933. If this Bill be passed, the excess will be about the same; but, if my proposal be adopted, the number of juveniles seeking employment in 1940 will be 210,000 less than in 1933—that is to say, there will be a steady decline instead of violent fluctuations.

7.0 p.m

Let me now turn to the position in the schools. There again, if nothing is done, the number of senior children over 11 in the schools is going to jump up from 1,850,000 in 1929 to 2,100,000 in 1933. If this Bill be passed, the number is going to rise from 1,850,000 in 1929 to 2,050,000 in 1931, to 2,450,000 in 1933, and to 2,540,000 in 1934. You will get a rise of 690,000 children in the schools and then, from 1934 on, you will get a drop again to about 2,200,000 in 1938, that is to say, about 690,000 more senior children in the schools, followed by a decline of 340,000. What is that going to mean? We know what it means in accommodation. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) mentioned on a previous occasion that there were 80,000 excess places in London. What does that mean even on the ground of accommodation? There are 80,000 places in junior and senior schools, and the whole basis of this proposal is that you are going to have separate schools for the seniors. You cannot shuffle them about between senior schools and junior schools, and you have got to take this increase in senior scholars by itself. There may be certain exceptions but generally you cannot utilise your excess junior accommodation for senior scholars.

You will have terrible difficulty. It will make the development of the new curriculum in the new schools extraordinarily difficult, just at the time when they are in the experimental stage. It will prejudice the whole success of what is known as the Hadow period. It will reduce teachers and administrators to despair and exasperation. The administrators are unanimously against the proposals in this Bill as from the date on which it was proposed to introduce it. I have not seen a single association of local education authorities which is prepared to agree with the Bill as it stands. They do not agree, it is true, with my dates either; they have not tabled a proposal. When you come to teachers, they, of course, desire the raising of the school leaving age in principle. But it is quite obvious that they are also anxious—I am not saying anything offensive or suggesting that it is their main reason—for the raising of the school leaving age from a professional point of view. There are unemployed teachers and they consider very naturally that to have unemployed teachers, when you need so much more education, is a scandal. On that ground they press very strongly for having more children in order that you may have more teachers.

The right hon. Gentleman will agree that they have pressed for the raising of the school leaving age when there were no unemployed teachers.

I am surprised at anyone who has been a teacher saying there was a time when there were no un- employed teachers—at any rate, during the last 30 years. I should have thought that complaints of unemployment were endemic in the teaching profession for the last 30 years. Certainly, in my time there was no period without strong complaints of serious unemployment.

I have said it is not the only reason, but that professional question was undoubtedly in the teachers' minds. It is worth while pointing out to the teaching profession what a very serious position they will he in professionally. The raising of the school leaving age at this moment will mean that you will need extra teachers between 1929 and 1934 for the purpose of teaching 690,000 additional children, and you will then have a reduction in the number of those senior children by 340,000. Although the right hon. Gentleman opposite and many of his supporters have often talked very much as if they were going to deal with the problem of schools by bringing along any old teacher from the junior schools, by teaching boys by retired old ladies, young married women and so on, I acquit them of really meaning to do that. They realise that the senior schools have got to be staffed with a different type of teachers with a different type of qualifications from those in the junior schools. Unless you are going—as I am afraid you are—to limit those children to the most appalling type of education, you will have to bring in additional teachers to deal with those 690,000 extra children. But, do you realise that, as the number of those children will drop by 340,000, out of every seven teachers you employ to deal with that great bulge, three at least will be unemployed by 1940.

I know the hon. Member does not understand it. The real trouble in this matter of raising the school-leaving age is that the Hadow Committee never had before them these figures of the birth rate and of the number of children to be provided for. The moment the Association of Local Education Committees had the figures laid before them, they substituted 1933 for 1932 as the date when they wanted the school-leaving age raised. It influenced them to that extent. From the very beginning of this controversy, hon. Members have refused to take into consideration this question of the statistical position of the juveniles. I do not mean to say that an hon. Member like the hon. Member for South Shields, who is the administrator of a local authority, has not taken into account the statistics as they affect his own area, but that no attention has been paid by hon. Members, as Members of Parliament responsible to the nation as a whole, to the statistical position. Some hon. Members like the hon. Member for Rochdale, who are engaged outside in voluntary work closely connected with this matter, know, of course, but other hon. Members have never taken it into consideration. On that, is it possible for anyone to argue that it is a wise thing for the nation to raise the school-leaving age at the date proposed, when you can get over all these difficulties by a gradual raising of the school-leaving age at a future date? I am not quite sure whether the process should begin in 1935 or 1936. I am not sure from my study of statistics which is the best period, and I have an open mind on the matter.

Hon. Members, who are simply in a hurry to do this because of its immediate effect, as they think, on employment, should pause to consider. They may be preparing a very much worse position for the juveniles five years hence. The hon. Member for Rochdale, when he talked about the fluctuations in the amount of juvenile employment, said: "You do not take into consideration all the wonderful things we have done to deal with them." Yet, when the Government propose to reduce unemployment simply by withdrawing 350,000 or 400,000 children from the labour market, what will be the effect on the labour market? There are none of these neutralising factors about which the hon. Member talks. The idea that you will produce employment for 350,000 people by cutting off the supply to the juvenile labour market is a very sanguine estimate. It is pure guesswork it is a dream. What is certain is that fluctuations in the supply of juvenile labour or of any labour must lead to industrial dislocation and unemployment. That is so, and that is the situation which you are preparing at the present moment, and with which you are refusing to deal.

I want to deal to some extent with the Noble Lord's reasons and then with a particular scheme, which he has not said very much about but which the House ought to consider. First of all, with regard to his reasons. He has talked a great deal about the birth rate. He revels in figures and, even though in some cases intensely admire the way he deals with them, I can never see the relevance of them, and I cannot really understand what the Noble Lord thinks is so very dreadful in what he has talked about. He has pointed out to us a drop in the number of juveniles between 14 and 18 of 300,000 and then a rise of 400,000 and says that, if we act as we propose to act, there will be a greater drop and a greater rise. That is clear, but where is the great disaster? It is perfectly true that there are a number of variations in the number of juveniles, but what is the harm in there being a bit more or less in the labour market? What happens is that the employers have to go elsewhere and, instead of taking the very young children, they have got to take those who are rather older. They are not all being employed now. The disaster is that these juveniles are not getting the employment they ought to be getting.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the process of evening out and stabilising. There is no particular advantage in that. The advantage is if older labour is to be taken instead of junior labour. That is the advantage which we are quite certainly going to get. There is not really any serious disadvantage in the fact that in one year there happen to be more juveniles who cannot get employment. He exaggerates the difficulties in the schools and talks of terrible difficulties in accommodation, of teachers and administrators in despair. What is the proof of it? The teachers as a community want this change. They certainly do not want it put off as long as the Noble Lord is proposing to put it 'off in this Amendment. I say that with confidence, and I say it with confidence in regard to the administrators.

The Noble Lord may make what he can against me by what I am going to quote, but I aim quoting this against the post- ponement of raising the school age until 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938 and, if the perfection of his present scheme is to come in the year 1938, we are not going to get the school age raised other than under the scheme which we propose to vote against presently. He said that administrators are in despair. I quite agree if he says administrators are not approving of the particular date that we have put in the Bill. I do not deny that. What I have said is that it is worth while the country asking the administrators to make the best of it for unemployment reasons. When we ask what the administrators want, let us see. In the first place, the Hadow Committee wanted the year 1932. The Association of Education Authorities want 1st September, 1932. The County Councils' Association, which of all the great associations takes the latest date, want 1933. The Association of Municipal Corporations want September, 1932. So that, so far frown the administrators being in despair, they are anxious that we should delay the thing from the educational point of view rather longer than the year that we propose. Have I ever said that from the educational point of view that was not a natural thing? I have always said so, hut I have said it is worth while for the nation to do an exceptional emergency thing for the sake of unemployment. I have said from the very first that, from an educational point of view, 1932 was a reasonable date. I have never said anything else.

The Noble Lord is trying to quote the local authorities in defence of what? I must ask the Committee to consider what the scheme is upon which it is to vote, but about which the Noble Lord has said very little. First of all, the part of the scheme that is under the Committee's eyes at the moment is very ingenious, but it is administratively clumsy. The Act is to come into operation at different times. It assumes that there are a uniform three terms in the school year. So little is this the case that the number of terms differs very widely among local authorities. There are no fewer than 100 local authorities which have four and not three terms. The result would be that you would have all sorts of different results in different districts. I say again, as I said in connection with the last Amendment, that the one thing we ought to want is that the law should be simple, similar in its incidence everywhere, well understood and easily understandable. It would not be if we had the Noble Lord's plan.

My final objection is to the date. The Noble Lord referred the Committee to the later Amendment which is dependent on this. It pushes off the final realisation of this change to 1938, five years after the latest local authority organisation wants it. Let the Committee realise that when it comes to vote on the Amendment. Really, it is a destructive Amendment. We know that the Noble Lord dislikes raising the school age at all. He says, "We will not begin until 1936, and we will not complete the thing until 1938." I do not believe, whatever date the Committee decides upon, it is likely to take a date as late as this. I very much hope, therefore, that the Amendment will be rejected.

I should like to ask the right hon. Baronet, in view of his last remarks, whether he really accuses the Balfour Committee of having put this forward as a wrecking proposal.

I said I was not surprised at the Noble Lord putting it forward, as he is opposed to the whole thing.

It seems to me that what is involved in the Amendment is not so much the postponement of the date as a new scheme for the alteration of the proposals of the Bill. For some years past there have been two definite schools of thought in the party opposite, one to do things quickly and the other, led primarily by the Colonial Minister, who believes in the inevitability of gradualness. I should have thought that those who take that view—I believe the Front Bench takes it—would not look unkindly on this proposal.

That all depends on the party in power. If an Act is passed with a party in power that is used to keeping its pledges and carrying out its word, it becomes a certainty. The right hon. Gentleman said it was worth while to do an exceptional thing for the sake of unemployment. He virtually admits that, although it would be better to postpone the scheme for the sake of education, for the sake of unemployment it is better to bring it in straight away. I have never heard anyone engaged in industry advocate any sudden change in industry. It is universally admitted that the more sudden the change, the worse for any particular section that is influenced by the change. I have been making inquiries in my constituency as to the position with regard to juvenile labour and to unemployment. Leicester is a very considerable industrial city and I find that, between the ages of 14 and 17, there are to-day 103 boys and girls registered as unemployed in the whole of the City, and between 14 and 15 there are 10 boys and 16 girls.

I did not find that out, but there is plenty of employment waiting for boys and girls in the factories. They were in the category of clerical work, and were waiting for that class of work. That is not an isolated case, Therefore, if sex t year the right hon. Gentleman proposes to withdraw 420,000 children who would otherwise have entered industry at one fell swoop, the position in industry is going to be a very serious one indeed. The boot and shoe industry, for instance, have a carefully organised system by which they have children in the industry at 14 to 15. During that year they have time to look around, and decide into which particular branch they are going, and in subsequent years they take up their apprenticeship in that branch. It is not possible in one year at one time for that industry to reorganise itself, and to absorb the older boys or older girls. It will cause tremendous disorganisation. It will cause, not relief of unemployment but, if anything, increased unemployment, increased disorganisation and increased cost.

If one looks at the educational side, exactly the same process is obvious. These children will not be absorbed into the schools. They will be superimposed on the whole educational structure. You want teachers to educate the whole of this one category. You cannot enlarge all the classes down your school, unless you keep certain children who ought to go to a higher class in a lower. Is that what the right hon. Gentleman wants to do? Throughout the country the scheme of central schools is only just now coming to anything like perfection. In very many local educational areas it has hardly started. It is still meeting with opposition. It is gradually killing the opposition, because it is proving its merit. On top of that scheme, you place this tremendous extra burden. Surely from the point of view of the teachers it would be far better to spread it out year by year a term at a time, so that the curriculum could be adapted, so that the teachers might get the extra experience and, last but not least, so that the buildings could be adjusted and the local authorities as a whole could get their system adapted to this weight. From the educational point of view I feel certain that my Noble Friend, whether he keeps to his date or not, is absolutely right. If the right hon. Baronet does not like the date, let him suggest that he should start this gradual process at an earlier date, and I believe the proposal would be very carefully considered on this side, although we realise, as he realises, that from the educational point of view it is far better to get over this maximum bulge. As one who is interested in industry and who represents an industrial constituency, I ask the right hon. Baronet seriously to consider whether he cannot incorporate in his Measure some scheme for bringing it in gradually, term by term.

I had not intended speaking on the Amendment but for the speech of the Mover, in which he left us in very great doubt as to the lines upon which he justified it. If he asks that this should be held up until we are sure industry is to be of the same old kind, that there are to be no changes in methods of production and that we are to have it going on in the old sweet way of 1913, it means that he intends that this raising of the school age shall never come into operation. Can he give us an assurance that we shall have, year after year, the same number of boys and girls reaching the same age? If that point is examined, one is bound to come to the conclusion that there has been a desperate search and re-search on the part of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to try and find some reason for this Amendment. I cannot understand their position unless they have made up their minds that it is inadvisable for the boys and girls of this country to have a better education than that which they have had an opportunity of enjoying up to the present time. Those of us who have given our time, and what little capacity we possess, to this work realise the necessity for the raising of the school age as soon as possible. We who have suffered through having been turned out of school and sent into the industrial and commercial life of this country at an early age realise what an advantage it would have been if we bad been able to continue at school for a longer period. The points which have been put forward as to waiting until 1935, 1936 and even 1938 do not seem to have very much good faith in them.

I do not know why the Noble Lord, in submitting his Amendment this afternoon, should have referred to Sir William Beveridge, whom I cannot accept as an authority on this matter. I do not accept his suggestion, and I wonder why it was put forward on this Amendment, that a smaller number of children going into employment results in wages being kept down. He quoted the period 1900 to 1910. I want to answer the Noble Lord and Sir William Beveridge. I do not accept Sir William Beveridge as an authority upon wages or even as an authority upon Employment Exchanges in spite of his employment at one stage by the Government in that Department. If they will examine that period, they will find that the reason wages did not reach a higher level was riot because children did not go into industry, but because there was bad trade union organisation in this country. Consequently, wages were not forced up by the men and women engaged in industry. In 1909 and 1910, owing to the increased membership of the trade unions and the increased spirit of the members of the trade unions, we secured higher wages in the only way they have ever been secured, namely, by forcing wages up by means of our organisation. The suggestion that if we can keep children out of industry wages will be reduced, is one which I should have liked to have heard the Noble Lord develop.

We were asked whether the Balfour Committee, having come to certain conclusions on this matter, ought not to be accepted as an authority. An authority upon what? Does anyone suggest that, the members of the Balfour Committee dealt with or considered the education of our children? The Balfour Committee, who sat for three or four years dealing with industry, were not concerned with the educational side of the life of this country. What the Balfour Committee had to say upon that matter is of very little importance as far as this Committee is concerned. To suggest that the children of this country should be asked to wait for another seven years before they are given an opportunity of a further year's education is asking for something which is against the interests of the country. I hope that this Amendment will be rejected by an overwhelming majority and that for once in a way we shall show that we are determined that our children shall have a better education than they have had at any time up to the present.

I do not intend to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) into his dissertation as to why wages drop or fall.

I appreciate that fact. There was a remark which the hon. Member made to the effect that we on this side of the Committee thought it was inadvisable that the children should have a better education. We disagree with the procedure in this Bill because we do not believe that children thrust into schools without sufficient accommodation and sufficient teachers will have a better education. Indeed, we take the matter a step further and say that the children who are already there will have a worse education, because the classes will be raised to such a size that they will not be manageable by the teachers in the class rooms which are at present available. How are we to overcome that difficulty? By all means try and get the schools built and the accommodation provided in time, but I am certain that all areas in this country will not be ready at a simultaneous date. The President of the Board of Education, apparently wants to impose his view on the education authorities throughout the country, some of whom will be ready before and some of whom will not be ready until after- wards. Such a method of dealing with individual local education authorities has already been objected to by this House, and I should be out of order now in attempting to go further into the matter.

The point to which we have come is: Can we put the burden on to local education authorities in lesser degrees? Can we not deal with this large number of extra boys and girls, not in one lump, as it were, but in. a kind of spread-over manner? The hon. Member for Rochdale said he could not think that there would be every year exactly the same number of boys and girls reaching the age of 15 or 14 as the case might be. That is obvious. But the difference between one year and the next is not so great as when you suddenly give 400,000 extra children an additional year. What is being attempted by this Amendment is a, spread-over in definite blocks so as not to throw a huge influx of boys and girls on to our local education authorities at a. particular time. The date which has been referred to, and which appears in a later Amendment, is not very material to the Amendment which we are now discussing, because, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Leicester (Captain Waterhouse) said, that date can quite well be varied. The only thing to which the Committee are asked to agree or with which to disagree at the moment is whether there shall be this spread-over. If it is decided to have a spread-over, the question as to when you should start the smaller part or the larger will come to be decided by this Committee at a later stage.

The President of the Board of Education said that this Amendment was administratively clumsy because in some areas there were four terms. I think he said that over 100 local education authorities had four terms. But what about the date which we find inserted in the Bill? The date of 1st April does not correspond with a single school term. It is merely a financial date and does not take any account of the educational standpoint as to when a term finishes and another term begins.

We are seeking by this Amendment to deal with the children in batches, so as not to put a great strain upon the education authorities straight away. The dates in a subsequent Amendment are, I believe, in accordance with the recommendations of the Hadow Committee, who went very fully into this educational problem. After all, we have to take some account of what is happening throughout the education authorities of England at the present moment. For instance, in an area round London containing parts of Middlesex, in the locality which I represent, there is a tremendous influx of children owing to the new houses which are springing up there.

The education authority have all their work cut out in order to keep pace with the growing demands for school accommodation in areas such as Hayes and other places, where, I am glad to say, new schools are being put up. It may well become impossible for schools suddenly to take in an influx of children and give them the education which an advanced education authority, such as that of Middlesex, would wish to give and provide the proper teachers. We are providing, in this Amendment, a kind of spread-over so that children may gradually be absorbed into the schools and not taken in in bulk. I ask hon. Members opposite to give us credit for taking a real interest in the educational problem of this country and to realise that we object to this Bill suddenly thrusting this obligation upon local education authorities when they are, in our opinion, not ready to give to the children who come in and to those who are already there, the education which one and all of us would like to see given to the children of this country.

I am not going to speak on the purely educational aspect of this matter, because I do not consider myself entirely an educational expert., but I wish to oppose the Amendment because I believe, from the experience I have had as a magistrate and as a doctor, that it will be entirely impossible to get the administration on to a satisfactory basis in this piecemeal fashion. We have enough trouble as it is with Section 138 of the present Education Act, which provides that a child shall not leave school until the end of the term in which it is 14. If we were to have this continual arrangement of making it a little longer interval, and again a little longer interval, and again a little longer interval still, we should have a great deal of difficulty in administering the law.

I think that the sense of injustice which Section 138 creates in the minds of many people, who find that there may be as much as three months' difference in the age of a child who is allowed to go to work, will be increased by such a scheme as that which is now proposed in the Amendment. For many years now I have found in my experience as a magistrate and as a doctor that it is quite easy for boys and girls at or even under 14 years to get a job. The bulk of the unemployment among these young people happens when they are 15 or over, and especially when they are over 16. They are discharged almost weekly in favour of their younger brothers or sisters. It would be very much wiser that the unemployment should fall upon the younger children and not upon the older ones. As a doctor, I should say that if there was no question of helping unemployment or no question of education involved it would be an immense advantage to the country to keep the young children between 14 and 15 years of age out of the labour market. If they had only to sit still in school and not to wreck their constitutions, as I have known many boys and girls do, in taking jobs which involve heavy and most trying tasks, it would be a good thing. It would be wise to keep these children out of the labour market and to get them through the most critical period without the adverse influence of too early overstraining work.

I will not follow the hon. Lady into her experiences regarding the health of children of 14 to 15 years of age, It is not wise that differences in the medical profession should be heard too much by laymen. I regret that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) could not see that the Amendment put forward from this side is really in the interests of the children from the point of view of education, and in the best interests of industry. As a practical man, he knows the difficulty that we have in Lancashire at the present time with regard to juvenile employment at the time of the children leaving school. There has been such a. flood at the labour market that the young people could not be immediately absorbed and the cotton trade for a long time agitated that the children should be allowed to leave school when they were 14, in order to prevent sudden fluctuations in the labour market., for the advantage of the child and industry. They were never able to get what they wanted. The Noble Lord who moved the Amendment did so for the purpose of helping the administration of the Bill and to prevent sudden influxes into industry which work to the detriment of industry. I regret that the hon. Member for Rochdale brought in the old class feeling by asking why children of the working classes should not go to school until they were 15, and get the full benefit of education. He did not recognise that we on this side have accepted the position that when the House gave a Second Reading to the Bill the principle of the raising of the school age to 15 was accepted, and that all we are trying to do is to make the Bill advantageous to the child and not a detriment to industry. The Hadow report has been quoted many times. May I read a. few lines from that report:

"And still another is the awakening and guiding of the practical intelligence, for the better and more skilled service of the community in all its multiple business and complex affairs—an end which cannot be dismissed as utilitarian' in any country, and least of all in a country like ours, so highly industrialised, and so dependent on the success of its industries, that it needs for its success, and even for its safety, the best and most highly trained skill of its citizens."
It is for that reason that the Committee laid stress on the point that the last two years of post-primary occupation should have a practical training, depending partly on industry. If we recognise that we are an industrial nation, and that if we are to continue successfully we must do the best we can for industry, surely we cannot be accused on this side of being opposed to education if we say that we want to do the best we can for the child and the least injury to industry. The Noble Lord mentioned figures, which I believe I mentioned on the Second Reading of the Bill, but the hon. Member for Rochdale was rather suspicious of them.

1 have had them from the Ministry of Labour, and the hon. Member may take it that these figures are official. They point very definitely to the fact that there is going to be a great influx into the labour market. The Minister ridiculed the Amendment, and suggested that it might delay the scheme until 1938. I would point out that on the 5th November, in answer to a question, he said that the expenditure would gradually increase until 1938, as this depended upon the teachers and the accommodation. That meant that the Minister himself knows that this scheme will not be at its fruition until 1938. He has allowed seven full years for the completion of his scheme. Therefore, he cannot give the full expenditure until 1938, but when we suggest that it may be that date, the right hon. Gentleman makes fun and tries to pour ridicule on us. We are trying to face the facts of the situation. We recognise from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he is going to put these children into school on the 1st April, 1931. He acknowledges that there will not be sufficient accommodation and that there will not be sufficient teachers, but he says: "That does not matter. We will take them into the schools, because it is very much better that they should be at school, even if they are doing nothing, rather than they should go into industry or walk about the streets." That is a very unfair position to take up.

The success of education depends upon making it so attractive and valuable that parents and children will desire it. We are told that there is definite evidence throughout the country that where education is up to date and good the parents are gradually recognising the value of it more and more, and are becoming more and more willing for their children to stay at school another year. What will happen under this scheme? The parents will see their children at school, with the same staff, the same accommodation, the same curriculum. What benefit will they get from the extra year? If at the end of the year they find there is no benefit to the children, it will be a great set-back to the cause of education, it will antagonise the parents and will make the children less inclined to have this extra year of education. It would have facilitated the progress of the Bill if the right hon. Gentleman had been a little more lenient with his opening speech dealing with the school-leaving age. He has referred to the unemployment aspect of the Bill. I thought we had finished with that, but it would appear that he has been asked by the Cabinet to bring in this Bill as an immediate benefit to unemployment. He himself ackowledges that we shall not get the full benefit of the improvement in the unemployment figures until the middle of 1932. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not going to be there in 1932.

Judging from the Press and from what one sees up and down the country there is no one with any political knowledge or instinct who has any idea that a Socialist Government will be in power in 1932. It means that the party opposite are going to make us a present of a drop of 150,000 in the unemployment figures. I admit that they have great admiration for us on this side, but I do not think that their admiration is so great as to give us a present of a drop of 150,000 in the unemployment figures.

The hon. Member says that they put country first. Therefore, I take it for granted that in 1932, if there is to be a decrease of 150,000 in the unemployment figures and we take the credit for it, because it will occur in our time, hon. Members opposite will be kind enough not to remind us that it is the result of this Bill, brought in in 1930. To put forward this Bill as an unemployment Bill is derogatory to education, and I would suggest, particularly after the quotation from the Harlow report, that the future of this country depends just as much upon our industrial efficiency as upon our educational efficiency.

Increased educational efficiency may mean increased industrial efficiency in many trades and industries, but the point to remember is, that we are legislating in this House at a time of difficulty and stress and that we should not do anything that will burden industry. Industry is struggling under a heavy load of taxation and against foreign com- petition and it is taking them all their time to keep going. If we, in the sacred name of education and on the plea of helping unemployment are going to put additional burdens upon industry, it will react upon the country and that will necessarily react upon the workers, and instead of having unemployment of nearly 2,500,000 we shall have increases of unemployment, our people will become more and more discontented, more and more anxious to work, with no work for them, and I tremble to think what will be the result. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheer up!"] Hon. Members say, "Cheer up!" They can have no conception of the real position of affairs in Lancashire. I will not refer to the mining districts, but I would say that the situation in Lancashire is extremely grave. Fifty per cent. of the people out of work and anxious to work.

8.0 p.m.

Industry is struggling, and yet we in this House are going to put this extra burden upon industry. We shall make it worse for juvenile unemployment. If the right hon. Gentleman finds that we have had to shut up a large number of our mills and that there are a certain number of children who otherwise would have got employment in the cotton textile trade who are unable to get jobs, he will be confronted with a situation even more serious than at the present time. What will happen to those children? Hon. Members opposite may smile, but it is very much more serious than they think. Let, us have education by all means, but let us be very careful what we do. What you are doing now is like a rich man who goes out into the highways and byways and asks starving people to come into his house for a banquet and then, when they get there, puts empty plates before them. He hopes that things will improve and that presently there will be food on the plates. That is what the Government are doing by forcing children into school under the promise of giving them an education when, in fact, there are not sufficient teachers and insufficient accommodation. If adequate accommodation and a sufficient number of teachers were available we on this side should not say a word about it. The President of the Board of Education said that he would rather have the children in school learning nothing than on the streets. That is the wrong attitude to take. The right hon. Gentleman would have been much wiser if he had accepted our Amendment, which is a sincere attempt to help the Bill.

Some hon. Members opposite have asked how it is possible for me, having been such a bitter opponent of the Bill on Second Reading, to put down Amendments. My answer is that I am totally opposed to the compulsory raising of the school age for all children but I am prepared to accept the verdict of the House, and as the House has decided to raise the school age I accept the decision, but that does not prevent me doing all in my power to make the Bill as useful as it can be made for the children of the country. Therefore, if I put down amendments it is with a sincere desire to make the Bill as beneficial as possible. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not accepted our overtures in this matter and I am more surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary, with his knowledge of education, should suggest that our Amendment is something in the nature of the wooden horse of Troy. We are not so deep as that. It would never enter our heads to bring forward an Amendment to try and deceive and harass and worry the Government. The Amendment is a genuine effort to make the Bill better, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not be quite so suspicious of us. He should trust us more. We are just as keen on education as any Member of the Government, but with the proviso that it is properly given under proper circumstances and that the children, who alone should count, shall receive the benefit.

I do not wish to follow the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) in the details of his very reactionary speech. We are quite accustomed to hear the same type of speech from him on all kinds of subjects. I rise because I was particularly interested in one aspect of the argument put forward by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) in favour of the Amendment. He made a subtle point that if we raise the school leaving age and thereby bring into the school, or keep at school, a large number of additional children it would mean bringing a large number of extra teachers into employment. Whilst he had nothing to say against that he argued that in the course of a few years it would be necessary to dismiss those teachers because we should be over the bulge. I am surprised that the Noble Lord should use that argument. As an ex-President of the Board of Education and with his love for education he should have imagination sufficient to appreciate the fact that the raising of the school age is not merely an end in itself. It is one cog in a wheel that is going round and going forward, and as the years go by not only will it be possible and wise to reduce the size of classes, which will probably prevent any of the teachers being dismissed, but we shall be able to enlarge the whole scope of our educational system and bring into it such subjects as civics, which seem to be entirely ruled out at the present with disastrous consequences to our people individually and to the State as a whole. I regret that the Noble Lord should show such a lack of imagination in the progressive nature of our educational system.

We on this side are not merely concerned with the bread and butter of education; we want our children to get into their minds the whole beauty and loveliness of education for education's sake. That cannot be done now because the classes are so large that nothing but the most elementary education can be given. We believe and hope, and we have the courage to aim at, being able to give all our children a full education in the finest sense of the word, with benefit to them individually and to industry—though that is not the apex of our scheme—so that their lives and characters may be developed to the best interests of our State and civilisation.

I hope the Government will accept this Amendment. I agree with the hon. Member for Islington North (Mr. R. S. Young) that we should all work for the best education for our children, and I maintain that by the Amendment we are doing more for the interests of the children than the Bill itself. If the Bill is to come into force on the 1st April next year the President himself agrees that in many districts the reorganisation will not have taken place, that there will be insuffi- cient accommodation and an insufficient number of teachers, and that the curriculum will not have been drawn up. Surely, in the interest of the children themselves, and, may I say so in the interests of the people who will have to pay this money and who feel that they ought to get value for the expenditure, it would be well for us to realise that it would be better to postpone the operation and bring in the scheme gradually. This would be surely in the interests of the children. At the present time they leave school at the age of 14 and the industrial market is glutted. It is very difficult to find them a place. Under this Bill the contrary will be the effect as far as industry is concerned, no more children will be coming on to the labour market.

My old colleagues would appreciate it more if the scheme was brought in gradually. To be really beneficial the scheme must be brought into operation gradually if you are to prevent chaos; and there is nothing in the whole arrangements which have been forecasted by the right hon. Gentleman which is not likely to lead to chaos. It has been argued that it is in the interests of the children to go to school whether they receive education or not. Is it in the interests of the children to cram the classes so full that none of them will get any benefit whatever? The London County Council is now endeavouring to cut down the size of classes. The hon. Member says that they are already large. They are too large; but you are going to increase the size of classes in many instances by this Bill and in so doing will ruin the education which is at the moment being given. The Amendment is in the interest of the children and of industry; and is good business.

Everyone, even the Government, agrees that there will be educational authorities who will not be ready and it is absurd to rush this Bill through merely for the sake of doing one of the things which the Government promised they would do at the last election. If it is pushed through and comes into operation on the date mentioned we shall in another six months' time have chaos in our educational system. I have taken some interest in this matter and for a long time I have been trying to transfer some children from one school to another in order that there should not be overcrowding in the classes. What will be the result of this Bill? More children will be coming into school and if there are 10, 15 or 20 additional children in a class where are they going to be put. If they are put with the children who are now 14 years of age they are not going to get the benefit of the extra year's education. If the children who are 14 are to be placed with those who are younger they will not get the benefit of the additional year's education. For all these reasons I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment which will really help him in the long run. If the Bill is passed as it is it will be a fiasco and he will get all the blame.

I am glad to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Campbell) and his anxiety for the education of our children. I am sorry he introduced an element of class division. We on this side do not mind whether the children of hon. Members opposite are being educated at 20, 21, 24 or 25 years of age.

I am sorry if I have misinterpreted the hon. Member but he gave me that impression. He said that 12 months education does not make any difference.

I agree that it should be carried on systematically and properly. Then why do you restrict it? I value even the 12 months. At the age of 17 I could hardly read or write, but between 17 and 18 years of age I learned a great deal. I appeal to the sporting instincts of hon. Members opposite who have had all the advantages of prosperity. I am not begrudging them those advantages. I merely wish that Members of my class should have the same opportunities and privileges. I think that many of my class, if given a chance, could show a competence equal to that of those who are more privileged. I am not saying this with any class bias whatever. Between the ages of 14 and 15 a child is most calculated to benefit by advanced education. I am modest in asking for this extra 12 months of schooling. I claim that we are entitled to ask for five years, but I do not advance that proposition. A child of 14 with constructive education going on is in a better position to accumulate knowledge and to develop its faculties than at any other age, and that development would be entirely lost without some such proposal as that in this Bill.

I am glad that we are agreed upon that issue. Civilisation is impossible without education. The great organisations and empires of olden times could not have existed without education. The child of to-day is the asset of future generations. We have never questioned the right or the competence of hon. Members opposite to educate their children. I have the utmost faith in and regard for Eton and Harrow and Oxford and Cambridge, but when I see hon. Members opposite adopting a niggardly attitude towards the education of my class I must find fault with them and cross swords with them.

I am very glad that the Noble Lord accepts my point of view. Why do hon. Members opposite say that we cannot afford to educate children from 14 to 15 years of age?

The hon. Gentleman has said that he does not question the competence of our class to educate our children. Neither do we question his competence to educate his children. We are prepared to provide that education, but we are not prepared to compel him to take it.

I have compelled my children, but they have had more compulsion over me than I have had over them. I should look askance at the Noble Lord's class if he did not compel his son and his daughter to be educated. I say to the Noble Lord, "You are the despotic parent; you dare not allow your children to grow up in ignorance. You have class pride and family pride." We too are class proud and family proud.

I have done it, and they have done more than that with me. We do not begrudge your side the right to advance the intellectual capacity and mind training of your children, and you have no right to restrict the mind training of our children.

I would like, first of all, to return for a few moments to the speech of the President of the Board of Education. I hope he will not think me unduly severe it I say that I have seldom heard a more inadequate reply to a very carefully reasoned statement such as that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). My right hon. Friend produced to the House, in a speech about which he was very apologetic and which it was often very difficult to follow completely at first hearing, a very carefully prepared set of figures with which he had made himself fully acquainted. They were figures which he worked out in the year 1927 and put before the local education authorities, first of all in an interview and latterly in a circular which was issued to them all. They were very striking sets of figures. They brought before the local education authorities considerations to which those authorities seemed to have been quite impervious before, and I think that their importance must be recognised by any impartial person who remembers that they were referred to by that very important body the Royal Commission on Trade and industry. I say to the Minister that in brushing those figures aside, as he did, in a very airy manner, he really is not facing realities.

Reference has been made to the position of the employer. If an employer could not get young people, it was said, he would take older people into his employment, that is to say, adults instead of these young children. That is mere assumption. If a child of 14 is employed it is employed on something that is quite simple. An employer would not think of offering such work to an older person or of offering the wage that could be paid for the work. Does it not seem common sense that if suddenly the supply of juvenile labour is very much restricted many employers will be driven so to reorganise their work that they will do without that child labour? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] It is very easy for hon. Members opposite to say, "Hear, hear," but they should look further than the ends of their noses.

Assuming that an adult is taken on instead of a child—a result with which we should all be very pleased—what is going to happen when a year or two later, a larger number of children suddenly come out of school, namely, the children born in 1920? It means either that your adult then loses his employment, or that you have a larger number of juvenile unemployed. Is that, then, a matter of no concern to the President of the Board of Education? I do not propose to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings in his figures because I am not capable of carrying them in my head as he does, but I ask the Committee to remember that, broadly speaking, the effect of those figures is to show that by raising the school age now, you take a large number of children off the labour market, which means that there will be a greater difference from the year 1935 onwards, when the children born in 1920 come out of the schools, after they have spent the extra year there. I venture to say that the Minister gave no real answer to the argument of my right hon. Friend.

The Minister next dealt with the attitude of administrators towards the Government's proposals. He admitted that, administrators did not like the date which he proposed, but he went on to say that the date suggested by the Hadow Committee was 1932, and therefore he ridiculed our proposal that the change should be delayed until 1936. But if the right hon. Gentleman turns up the words of the Hadow Report he will find that what the Committee asked was that the raising of the school age should become obligatory after the lapse of five years from the date of their report in order to give not less than five years' notice to the local education authorities and to enable those authorities to make the necessary arrangements. The right, hon. Gentleman will also remember that six months after the publication of the report, the local education authorities came to my right hon. Friend and said: "We want to raise the school age but we cannot do it in the five years proposed by the Hadow Committee. Give us another year. We cannot do it before 1933." That is to say, the local education authorities asked for six years and therefore it is rather misleading the Committee to suggest that the year 1932 is the year which would now satisfy the Hadow Committee. They asked for five years, and if the Association of Education Committees are asking merely for a postponement until September, 1932, I imagine that they are trying to make the best of a very difficult job. The County Councils' Association which represents the authorities which have to deal with the most difficult part of the scheme, namely, the rural part of it, have said that the change cannot be made before September, 1933.

The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the case of authorities which had four school terms instead of three. I cannot see that that matter presents any insuperable obstacle in the way of carrying out the Amendment. It merely means that, in the first two years, over which the change would be spread, you would have one-quarter of the children in each year being retained in those areas instead of one-third; and in the last year you would have half being retained. It simply means slightly different numbers coming in during the course of those years. The difficulties involved in that course are nothing compared with the difficulties in which the right hon. Gentleman is landing authorities by his hasty raising of the age. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman said it was desirable that the law should be simple. It is very easy for us here to pass simple forms of words. We have not to carry the law into effect. The people who have to administer the law are the local education authorities, and we know the tremendous difficulty which they are having. We know, according to the memorandum of the County Councils Association that not one large authority is going to be ready to raise the school age before September, 1933. I would also say to the right hon. Gentleman that education never is, and never can be a simple matter. The intellectual, moral and physical, development of the 5,000,000 children of this country must always be an intricate matter, and we are simply shutting our minds to realities if we try to imagine that, by passing a simple form of words and a uniform date for raising the school age, we are passing into law something which it will be easy and simple to operate.

The hon. Member for East Islington (Dr. Bentham) foresaw a difficulty in getting parents to agree to the children being retained one term longer in school. The difficulty in that respect, where the proposal involves one term at a time, seems to me to be nothing compared with the resentment which many parents will feel at children being compulsorily retained for the whole year longer without any possibility of exemption. The hon. Member also spoke of children going into industry at 14 and being overworked, and the opinion of a medical woman on that subject is entitled to serious attention. But the answer is that we want more oversight, and, possibly, more restriction of the work of young people between the ages of 14 and 16, whether the school age is raised or not.

It appears to me that the only matter in dispute on this Amendment is whether this change should take place at once or whether it should be spread over a certain period. All this extraneous matter which is being introduced has nothing whatever to do with that question.

I think, Mr. Dunnico, if you had been in the Chair during the last hour or two you would realise that a great deal of what you term extraneous matter has been introduced into the debate by previous speakers. I am not introducing any subject for the first time. I am endeavouring to reply to what has already been said. I do not wish to detain the Committee, however, on any matter which the Chairman considers extraneous, because I am only too anxious to get on to the main point of the Amendment. May I say in reply to the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett) that we on this side of the Committee welcome what he said about the value of the work done at Eton and Harrow. It was in striking contrast to some of the remarks on the older public schools made by hon. Members opposite during the debates last week. The hon. Member made an eloquent plea for the retention in school of the child over 14, but I submit to him that that was rather extraneous to the subject of the Amendment. The subject of the Amendment is the substitution of a later date than that proposed by the Government, and the bringing of the change into operation by stages. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings gave weighty reasons, in relation to the question of entering into industry, why this change should be made in stages. I submit that there are also reasons from the educational point of view which are of very great weight. It is true that we have raised the age before, but, as I tried to explain in the debate on the Financial Resolution, we are taking two steps at a time in raising the school age without exemption. I submit, also, that raising the school age to-day is a much more serious matter than ever before, partly because there are more children in school to-day, partly because all Governments have recognised that smaller classes than were customary before are wanted, and partly because there is no proposal to assist this change by introducing uncertificated teachers.

I have already reminded the Noble Lady that the only issue before the Committee is whether the retention of these children at school shall commence as from one date, or whether the change is to be carried out by stages and at different dates.

If you would be so kind as to allow me to proceed for a moment, I was about to come to that point. It follows from the circumstances which I have mentioned—and we know it from the Minister—that a tremendous number of additional teachers will be required in the year 1932–33. It is estimated that no less than 13,000 additional teachers will be needed then, about 5,000 of these being required in respect of normal expansion, by which, I suppose, the Minister means the reduction in the size of large classes, and 8,000 being required entirely in respect of the raising of the school age. In a former time the President could have looked to get a very large number of uncertificated teachers, but to-day the right hon. Gentleman has either to get additional students into the training colleges or somehow to pick up certificated teachers in other ways.

I do not want to go fully into the various suggestions that the right hon. Gentleman made in the summer, on the Second Reading of his former Bill, on this subject. I criticised them rather severely in a speech at the end of last Session, and I do not think I have had any reply, but I merely want to say that towards those 13,000 additional teachers, the President has only been able so far to show us that he has 1,800 additional students in training in the training colleges. He has told us that he hopes to pick up 5,000 teachers who are at present unemployed, to retain 4,000 young married women teachers, and 1,000 teachers who are due to retire. These, however, are all problematical, and he has net been able to give us any substantial reason why he looks for help from those sources. In the main be will have to get additional certificated teachers trained.

It takes two years to train a certificated teacher in a training college, and it takes not less than one year to train those who have been to a university, and I do not see how it is going to be possible for the training colleges of this country to produce anything like the number of additional teachers in the time required. It is an impossible task to put on the training colleges. The President has been exerting himself, with all the authority of his high office and with all the enthusiasm which we know he brings to this subject, to get the training colleges to train as many additional teachers as possible, but so far he has only succeeded in getting some 1,800 additional students into the training colleges, and—

The Noble Lady must not continue on that line. The general question of the advisability or otherwise of raising the school age will doubtless be discussed on specific Amendments later, and the Chair is placed in a position of great difficulty if, on every Amendment, we are to have a repetition of the same arguments. The real substance of this Amendment is as to whether the Bill shall come into operation at one period, or by stages.

On a point of Order. The whole point of this Amendment is to raise the school-leaving age at a time and by a process which will reduce the maximum number of children with whom you have to deal by about 450,000. I therefore submit that my Noble Friend is in order in arguing that if you did this, you would not have to train teachers for those 450,000 children, and that therefore you should accept the Amendment which will prevent those 450,000 children corning into the schools.

If the Noble Lady confines her arguments to the proposition of a gradual coming into operation of this Measure, well and good, but she was going in great detail into question's as to what the President of the Board of Education had or had not done.

I was only trying to lead up to this point, that if you cannot get enough teachers trained in one year at the training colleges, as the right hon. Gentleman has amply shown, does it not stand to reason that it is better to spread your raising of the school-leaving age over three years, so that you can gradually get into the training colleges more and more of the additional teachers that you will need? Further, is it not obvious that if you delay raising the age till after the additional 450,000 children have passed out of school, you will want nothing like so many as 13,000 teachers?

This difficulty of getting in any one year or in a short space of time anything like the number of teachers you want is, to me, a new difficulty. Supposing you got these 13,000 teachers trained by two years, what would you do with them three or four years hence? Some would then be out of employment. Unless the Government are prepared to take into the schools a large number of uncertificated teachers, if only temporarily, to tide over a transitional period, it is impossible to raise the school leaving age at one jump and supply all the teachers that are necessary to enable the children to be properly taught. Therefore, I say that the postponement of the date and the carrying of the proposal into operation by stages is absolutely necessary if this change is really to be beneficial to the children of this country and if there is going to be fair dealing with the teachers. If enough teachers were trained for the bulge years, you would have many unemployed teachers afterwards, but the colleges cannot provide places to enable these teachers to be trained except in stages. Therefore we believe that this proposal to raise the school age at this moment is likely to be prejudicial to many children who will be retained in school and unfair to many of the teachers. It is not possible to carry it out in the time if you are to have any educational standard that is worth having for the children.

This Amendment is strictly consistent with the position that my right hon. Friend has maintained all along. He put it before the local authorities in 1927 and by Circular in January, 1928, that to raise the school leaving age before the year 1937 would either mean that you had too little accommodation and too few teachers before that year, so that you were not able to do your duty by the children, or that if you did provide enough accommodation and teachers before that year, you would be left with a surplus of accommodation and teachers afterwards. We say that by the first course you will offer no benefit to the children, and that the latter course means an unjustifiable waste of public money and of human material in the shape of the surplus teachers who will have been trained. Therefore, we shall go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.

I do not propose to follow the Noble Lady along the lines which she has just traversed in the concluding stages of her speech. There will be ample opportunity later to discuss the question of the adequacy or otherwise of teachers, when we hope to avail ourselves of the opportunity of showing that this problem has been reviewed adequately and properly. I understood that the Noble Lord, in support of his argument this afternoon, laid down a proposition something like this, that presently there will be inevitably a shortage of juvenile labour, and that that juvenile labour may very easily present industry generally with a, difficult and perplexing problem. Partly because of that consideration, he invited us to consider this alternative as a much easier way of raising the school age. I have in my hand a copy of a document which the Noble Lord sent out at the last Election to teachers and educationists generally. It deals with the question of the advance of education and the service to industry of that advance. There are in it some 14 points, like President Wilson's Fourteen Points. No. 8 reads as follow:

"The longer school life inevitable, under the new system, will keep children out of the labour market, where they are not wanted."
That was the view of the Noble Lard in 1929.
"The raising of the school age will come, not as an imposition, but as a natural development from the New Prospect 'reorganisation."
That is our point, that the proposal embodied in this Bill is a natural complement to the reorganisation which has been going on during the last two years. I also read this in this precious document:
"The employer can wait for applicants till they are 15 or 16, and he prefers to wait for a better product."
I am really much obliged to the Noble Lord for having given such a lucid and succinct argument in favour of the proposals we have made. I do not think that there is any point in prolonging this discussion. We have had an exhaustive debate on the Amendment; every point of view has been surveyed, and I therefore ask the Committee to come to a decision.

I observe with great interest that, whenever the Parliamentary Secretary and any Member on the Government benches talk about education, they can only thoroughly express their full meaning by quoting something that I have said. I do not think that they do themselves justice in quoting anything I said two years ago, because after all in two years we ought to have moved a little and what I have said ought not to be sufficient cover for the Government in their awn proposals. What the hon. Gentleman has read represents precisely ray views to-day, but does he not realise that I am complaining not that this Bill would lead to a decreased supply of juvenile labour between now and 1935, but that, the reduction in supply having been accentuated, it will do nothing to prevent the over-supply of juvenile labour that would take place in the succeeding years. Cannot the hon. Member realise that the trouble about the whole proposition is that, if you are going to do either nothing or simply something slapdash like this Bill, you will have a sudden increase in the supply of juvenile labour in 1934–37.

Perhaps I may, in reply to the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett) inform him that to-day his leader informed me, in answer to a question, that if 400,000 juveniles are withdrawn from the labour market, it must create more employment among adults or older children; that is certain, but that it does not matter if you increase the supply of juvenile labour by 400,000. Surely the hon. Member for North Salford is not so bad a mathematician as not to see the fallacy of that.

My figures are surely right. There is a Government report—[Interruption.] Do hon. Members say there is not a Government report?

I was not making any deductions, but I was saying that after a great reduction there will be a great influx of juvenile labour on to the labour market, and I was asking the hon. Member for North Salford whether he agreed with his leader that that sort of influx does not matter.

I look upon the unfair use of child labour as a form of industrial cannibalism, and I am anxious that our children shall have a chance, at least until 15 years of age. I agree with the Noble Lord that it should be 16, 17, 1S or even 19; I am not pressing that point at the moment; but he has no right to challenge us on this side in regard to the extra year.

The hon. Member will know quite well what the effect on employment in the docks would be if a large number of boys of 15 were suddenly discharged on the labour market.

Quite, but the hon. Member knows what would be the effect on the labour market in the East End of London of discharging at the age of 15 a greatly increased number of boys. He knows that that would produce unemployment. I should like to say a word in reply to the speech of the hon. Member. It has been said, and will be said, up and down the country that, because we move Amendments of this kind, we are against giving another year of education. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is true!"] That was the whole burden of the speech of the hon. Member for North Salford, and there is one Member below the Gangway who has the effrontery to say that it is true. Everyone who has followed the course of education during the last five years knows that what I have stood for constantly, and what I have made the local authorities do is to carry out their statutory duties, and to see that if any child desires to stay on at school past the age of 14 to 15, and even to 16 and later, proper education shall be available to him. That has been my policy. Every hon. Member knows that this is what I have done, and what this party has stood for. Why does the hon. Member for North Salford get lap in this House and sling accusations as if we were trying to prevent children of his class from getting another year at school? He knows perfectly well that what we say is this—[Interruption.] Yes, I know!"Look at the history of the past!" It is you Members below the Gangway who live in the past! That is your difficulty! You are the only reactionaries! You are the only Tories!

The hon. Member may comfort his soul with that. Let him go home and go to bed and think that he and he alone is the one self-righteous person in the world who is forcing everybody else. The hon. Member for North Salford who, unlike the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole), knows the kind of attitude to take towards his political opponents, knows that that has been our policy, and that what we are opposing now is the exertion of legal compulsion upon parents to do something whether they desire to do it or not. That is the only issue between us. Let me say, in conclusion, one word on this subject of legal compulsion, and this is strictly to the Amendment. [Interruption.] I must say in my defence that I went out to snatch a little dinner, and when I came back I found hon. Members roaming over the whole field of education, and I cannot be blamed for trying to reply. Hon. Members may say, "You attach great importance to this Amendment, but you have publicly said that you are not in favour of compulsion at all."

I am handicapped by not having heard the preceding portion of the debate, and I have therefore allowed the Noble Lord considerable latitude, on the assumption that he was replying to opinions that

Division No. 16.]

AYES.

[9.1 p.m.

Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Ferguson, Sir JohnNicholson, O. (Westminster)
Atholl, Duchess ofFermoy, LordOman, Sir Charles William C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Fielden, E. B.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Balfour. Captain H. H. (I. of Thanat)Fison, F. G. ClaveringPenny, Sir George
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Ford, Sir P. J.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Beaumont, M. W.Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Berry, Sir GeorgeGalbraith. J. F. W.Ramsbotham, H.
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGanzoni, Sir JohnReid, David D. (County Down)
Bird, Ernest RoyGower, Sir RobertRemer, John R.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGraham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Boyce, H. L.Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bracken, B.Greaves-Lord, Sir WalterRoss, Major Ronald D.
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Greene, W. P. CrawfordSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGuinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Gunston, Captain D. W.Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Cadonan, Major Hon. EdwardHanbury, C.Skelton, A. N.
Campbell, E. T.Hartington, Marquess ofSmith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Carver, Major W. H.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Castle Stewart, Earl ofHerbert, Sir Denote (Hertford)Smithers, Waldron
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerSomerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerSouthby, Commander A. R. J.
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)Hurd, Percy A.Spender-Clay. Colonel H.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Colfox, Major William PhilipKindersley, Major G. M.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Colman. N. C. D.Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Courtauld, Major J. S.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Thomson, Sir F.
Cranborne, ViscountLewis. Oswald (Colchester)Train, J.
Crichton-Stuart. Lord C.Little, Dr. E. GrahamTurton, Robert Hugh
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Llewerlin, Major J. J.Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLocker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyWard, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Warrender, Sir Victor
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Davies, Dr. VernonMakins, Brigadier-General E.Wayland, Sir William A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Margesson, Captain H. D.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Dawson, Sir PhilipMeller, R. J.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Dixey, A. C.Merriman, Sir F. BoydWithers, Sir John James
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Womersley, W. J.
Eden, Captain AnthonyMonsell Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir W.Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Edmondson, Major A. J.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Elliot, Major Walter E.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveMajor Sir George Hennessy and
Everard, W. LindsayNelson, Sir FrankMajor the Marquess of Titchfield.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)

have been expressed; but it is for me to rule what this Amendment contains, and I must rule that the question of compulsion does not arise here. Compulsion is assumed, and the purpose of this Amendment is to apply it by stages.

All I was going to say was that in view of the fluctuation in the supply of juvenile labour it might be necessary on that ground, and on that ground alone, to exercise compulsion—to keep children in school for that purpose. In other words, I am at one with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in thinking that the raising of the school age may be necessary for unemployment purposes, but, if so, it is in this period between 1935 and 1938 that it is necessary.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 133, Noes, 288.

NOES

Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Gray, MilnerMarley, J.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Marshall, Fred
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherGrenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Mathers, George
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Matters, L. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Groves, Thomas E.Messer, Fred
Alpass, J. H.Grundy. Thomas W.Millar, J. D.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Milner, Major J.
Angell, NormanHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Arnett, JohnHall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Morley, Ralph
Aske, Sir RobertHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Attlee, Clement RichardHarbord, A.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Ayles, WalterHardie, George D.Mort, D. L.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Harris, Percy A.Moses, J. J. H.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMosley, Lady C, (Stoke-on-Trent)
Barnes, Alfred JohnHastings, Dr. SomervilleMosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Barr, JamesHaycock, A. W.Muggeridge, H. T.
Batey, JosephHayday, ArthurMurnin, Hugh
Bellamy, AlbertHayes. John HenryNaylor, T. E.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Noel Baker, P. J.
Benson, G.Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Bentham, Dr. EthelHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Oldfield, J. R.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Herriotts, J.Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Birkett, W. NormanHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Blindell, JamesHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. MargaretHoffman, P. C.Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Bowen, J. W.Hollins, A.Palln, John Henry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hopkin, DanielPalmer, E. T.
Brockway, A. FennerHorrabin, J. F.Perry, S. F.
Bromfield, WilliamHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Bromley, J.Isaacs. GeorgePethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Brooke. W.Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Brothers, M.John, William (Rhondda, West)Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Johnston, ThomasPole, Major D. G.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Jones, F. Liewellyn- (Flint)Potts, John S.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Price, M. P.
Buchanan, G.Jones. J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Pybus, Percy John
Burgess, F. G.Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)Quibell, D. J. K.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Caine, Derwent Hall.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Rathbone, Eleanor
Cameron. A. G.Jowett. Rt. Hon. F. W.Raynes, W. R.
Cape, ThomasJowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)Richards, R.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Charleton, H. C.Kelly, W. T.Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Chater, DanielKennedy, ThomasRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Church, Major A. G.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Ritson, J.
Clarke. J. S.Kirkwood, D.Romeri1, H. G.
Cluse, W. S.Knight, HolfordRosbotham, D. S. T.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLang, GordonRawson, Guy
Compton, JosephLaw, Albert (Bolton)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cove, William G.Law, A. (Rosendale)Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Cowan, D. M.Lawrence, SusanSanders, W. S.
Daggar, GeorgeLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Sandham, E.
Dallas, GeorgeLawson, John JamesSawyer, G. F.
Dalton, HughLawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Scrymgeour, E.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Leach, W.Scurr, John
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)Sexton, James
Day, HarryLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Denman. Hon. R. D.Lees, J.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Dudean, Major C. R.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Sherwood, G. H.
Dukes, C.Lindley. Fred W.Shield, George William
Duncan. CharlesLloyd, C. EllisShiels, Dr. Drummond
Ede, James ChuterLogan, David GilbertShillaker, J. F.
Edmunds. J. E.Longbottom, A. W.Shinwell, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Longden, F.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Edwards, E (Morpeth)Lowth, ThomasSimmons, C. J.
Egan, W. H.Lunn, WilliamSimon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Elmley, ViscountMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Foot, IsaacMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Sinkinson, George
Forgan, Dr. RobertMacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Sitch, Charles H.
Freeman, PeterMcElwee, A.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)McEntee, V. L.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)McKinlay, A.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)MacLaren, AndrewSmith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gibbins, JosephMaclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Snell, Harry
Gill, T H.MacNeill-Weir, L.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Gillett, George M.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Glassey, A. E.Mansfield, W.Sorensen, R.
Gossling, A. G.March, S.Stamford, Thomas W.
Gould, F.Marcus, M.Stephen, Campbell
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Markham, S. F.Stewart, J. (St. Rolfox)

Strauss, G. R.Walkden, A. G.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Sullivan, J.Walker, J.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Sutton, J. E.Wallace, H. W.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)Wallhead, Richard C.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)Watkins, F. C.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Thurtle, ErnestWellock, WilfredWinterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Tillett, BenWelsh, James (Paisley)Wise, E. F.
Tinker, John JosephWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Toole, JosephWest, F. R.Wright, W. (Ruthergten)
Tout, W. J.Westwood, JosephYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir CharlesWhite, H. G.
Turner, B.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Viant, S. P.Whiteley, William (Blaydon)Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Paling.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, after the word "years," to insert the words:

"but between the ages of fourteen and fifteen years this obligation shall be construed only as an obligation to cause children to attend such courses of advanced instruction, suitable to their age and attainments as may be available in the district where they reside, and parents of children between these ages shall not he required to cause them to attend any school which does not provide such courses."
The object of this Amendment is to provide that the obligation to send children to school between the ages of 14 and 15 years shall be construed only as an obligation to cause children to attend such courses of advanced instruction as are suitable to their age and attainments. Under the Education Act of 1921 it is the duty of the parent of every child between the age of five and 14 years to see that that child attends school to receive efficient elementary instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. The President of the Board of Education told the Committee that the whole country was in favour of giving a real education to these children. In face of that opinion, I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman can oppose this Amendment which is intended to give the children a better education than they will have under this Bill if it passes unamended.

The Amendment I am proposing provides that parents hall be under an obligation to cause their children between the ages of 14 and 15 years to attend courses of advanced instruction. It further provides that the parents of children between the ages of 14 and 15 shall not be required to cause them to attend any school which does not provide such courses of advanced instruction. The Bill provided that as long as the child is merely getting efficient elementary instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic he shall be kept at school, but when you give him more advanced instruction that obligation ceases. If the child is given advanced instruction and the parent no longer wishes the child to attend school, no prosecution will lie against the parent because instruction is being given to the child, not only in reading, writing and arithmetic, but in a great deal more.

This Bill in its present form is causing a great deal of disquiet in the country. We have heard to-day a great deal about the desirability of keeping children at school rather than in the factory, or even, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, in the field; but in the country districts the feeling turns to another aspect. People in those districts wish their children to go into the world equipped for their job. They want to give their children advanced instruction, not more instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. I remember that, just after the first of the right hon. Gentleman's long series of Bills was introduced into the House, I met a village schoolmaster in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and I asked him, "If this Bill goes through, what will you teach those children of 14 to 15 directly you get them?" He replied, "I shall teach them quadratic equations and 17th century history."

The children in these country districts will, it is hoped, go into agriculture and follow a long line of ancestors in farming. It is my hope, and I think it is the hope of some right hon. Gentlemen, that we shall have more scientific farming, and that advanced courses of instruction in agriculture will be provided in our central schools. I think the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must agree that that is necessary when we have the Prime Minister saying that nowhere is there more inefficiency than among farmers. Will he give agricultural children this advanced instruction? There has been in the rural areas a very serious decline in the number of children entering agriculture. In the last four years, 23,800 children have left the industry. One of the main reasons is, of course, that these children go out without any advanced instruction in agricultural subjects, and they are thrown into a vortex of industry and a vortex of cinemas and tend to wander towards the towns. It must be the aim of any right hon. Gentleman entrusted with the office of President of the Board of Education to give agricultural instruction to those children. By doing so, he can help agriculture, he can help to stem that flight from the land—

I want to keep the discussion within reasonable limits. The hon. Member is taking the line that these facilities should be provided for all children, but I must remind him that the Amendment deals exclusively with those children who are proposed to be kept at school for an additional year should this Bill become law, and he must confine his remarks to those children.

I will certainly only speak of advanced instruction for children between those ages. I regret if I have erred beyond that limit; I had intended to direct my remarks to the giving of agricultural instruction to children between the ages of 14 and 15. I will say no more on the subject of agriculture, except to urge that we do require in the rural areas additional advanced instruction in agriculture, and, so far as I am aware, as regards those rural areas the President of the Board of Education to-day comes before us with empty hands.

I have inquired in my own area how the raising of the school-leaving age will operate, and I am told that in the North Riding of Yorkshire it will be impossible to give these children advanced instruction until 1935. The right hon. Gentle-roan will have the figures before him. I turn to what is happening in Wiltshire, where the Director of Education has stated that without reorganisation it will be almost fraudulent to keep children in the schools till they are 15. He says that 2,577 children in the county will be in the 14–15 age group in 1931; that they will be able to provide reasonable, though incomplete, examination for 677 at central schools, and that 238 others could be instructed with some profit at eight non-reorganised schools. This would leave 1,662 for whom no education worthy of the name could be provided, and he suggests that the school-leaving age should not be raised until there is a prospect of establishing central schools throughout the country. That is the dictum of the Director of Education in another agricultural county besides my own. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us of some few county areas in which it will be possible to give advanced instruction to these children between the ages of 14 and 15. It is not easy, I must admit, at the present moment, to make provision for central schools for these children. The right hon. Gentleman himself has not helped the establishment of central schools when he has set a hard face against any extra provision for travelling facilities for children who go from country districts into the central schools. I am told that in my area that want of provision of travelling facilities will make—

The hon. Member is not carrying out my previous Ruling. The Amendment deals only with children between 14 and 15, and he must confine his remarks to those children.

I naturally abide by your Ruling, but I thought that travelling facilities for children between 14 and 15 would have some application to my Amendment.

The hon. Member is now dealing with existing conditions, but the only point raised by his Amendment is that children between the ages of 14 and 15 should not be compelled to attend school unless special facilities are provided for them. That is the sole subject before the Committee.

I will not deal any further with the question of the transport of these children to schools of advanced instruction; I think I have made my point, and will leave it there. I do, however, want the Minister carefully to consider whether he should not help the country districts in their educational attempt. If he intends to leave the Bill as it is, he must be resigning himself to a dismal future, for some years, of small country schools, often with women teachers, and perhaps even inexperienced women teachers, trying to teach these children betwen the ages of 14 and 15 at the same time as they have to teach children between the ages of five and 14. It is no easy task. If he would go round some of the outlying country districts in Yorkshire, he would find women teachers absolutely at a loss how to deal with that problem. He cannot give them advanced instruction at the present time. It is my submission that these children of 14 to 15 would be better employed learning agriculture on the land than being put down in school learning problems of arithmetical equations. The science of agriculture requires a long apprenticeship. It is not bad for the health of the children and it is in itself good for the character and qualities of the race.

If you take them away from that agricultural employment, there is no doubt that, when they come out of school at 15, as they would do, without having received advanced instruction, they will be diverted to the towns with greater rapidity than if they come out at 14 and have their apprenticeship. Hon. Members opposite may want that result to follow, but this is a very grave piece of legislation. It is a very grave matter when the right hon. Gentleman puts such legislation before the country, legislation that gives parents an obligation to send their children to school and which involves a reduction of 7s. in their weekly budget for no better quid pro quothan the same instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic that these children have received from the age of five to that of 14. We are supposed to be a progressive country, and yet the same obligations will remain from five years to 14 and from 14 to 15.

I do not know what is the view of hon. Members opposite about this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman earlier in the evening said that, except in a very few cases, he would be able to find sufficient accommodation for the children, but on this side we take, I suggest, the more enlightened view that he should give them not only sufficient education but sufficient advanced instruction. Until he does that this Bill must remain a fraud upon parents and a fraud upon the child. Therefore, I ask that, in place of this instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, you shall give some better provision of advanced instruction.

In the attractive speech made by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) we find precisely the same agreement and disagreement that we had when discussing the previous Amendment. This is nothing new at all. I have stated our position perfectly clearly, and I should have thought it was superfluous to enter on a second debate at length upon the adequacy of the preparations. There is a difference of opinion between us, and I do not suppose any amount of talking will make any considerable difference. I want to deal with the Amendment itself, which the hon. Gentleman has barely mentioned. The proposal is that there shall only be an obligation upon children to attend courses of advanced instruction suitable to their age and attainments. There is no definition of the proposition which is put forward. There is no attempt to show how it is going to work. Even assuming for a moment that hon. Gentlemen opposite are right in their contention that a large number of children are not going to be able to find adequate courses and schooling in the schools as they are, this proposition is perfectly unworkable. Who is to work it and who is to decide whether the classes are adequate or not, or are sufficiently advanced or not? [HON. MEMBERS: "The parents!"] The parents? I wanted to find out. If the parent is to say "I do not think this will do, and I will not send my child there," all I can say is that we are getting a long way from any system which we are working at the present moment. It is not a conservative action. Some Members opposite think it should be the parents. If it were not, of course, it might be a bench of local magistrates. That is a possibility. A bench is to settle whether a course is an advanced course or sufficiently advanced. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Perhaps it is the Board of Education, who, whenever they are asked, will have to send out inspectors to a particular school? Really, I do not think, if the Committee takes the matter seriously, that it will regard this as a practicable proposition. I think we are bound to consider how the thing would really work and I do not think there is any administrator in the country who could see how to work it.

There is another very serious objection to it. If it could be worked at all you would have different appointed days in different schools—not only in different areas but in different schools. I thought we had decided on the first Amendment that we were not going to have different appointed days. This is worse than the first Amendment, because it would mean that one school would be allowed and a school in the next area would not. Wilder confusion could not possibly be conceived, and 1 very much hope that the Committee will reject it.

The right hon. Gentleman in dealing with this Amendment attempted to ride off on questions of legal definition and machinery. The object of the Amendment is to deal with the quite different problem of the single school areas pending the reorganisation which is now going on. Our point is that you really have no moral right to compel children, particularly in the rural areas, to stay in the general elementary schools up to the age of 15, and that, if you raise the school age, you will have to give them advanced instruction. Where reorganisation has taken place, where you have your senior schools, you can give advanced instruction. By advanced instruction everyone nowadays understands either a secondary school, or some special technical education, or these new senior schools. But we know that the process of reorganising the schools so that there will be a senior school for all the children from 11 to 15 is not nearly complete, particularly in the rural areas, and it is in the rural areas that you still hear the greatest criticism of the type of education that is being given to-day.

The type of education that is being given in a few counties is becoming more ruralised. In such counties as Gloucestershire there has been a great effort by the county authority to ruralise education, to introduce biology, modern science and the rest of it—a most commendable effort which we all want to see—but in the main our education is the product of the urban conditions of the 19th century. You say that the farmer is inefficient. That, I know, is the view of the Labour party. But he has an immense amount of traditional law and custom handed down from generation to generation which the school curriculum takes no thought of. In the single school areas in the rural districts, pending reorganisation and the provision of facilities for advanced instruction, it is unfair to compel the children to remain at school. The President of the Board of Education has said that he would rather have boys between 14 and 15 sitting in any school than out in the fields. We do not think so. It is a difference of opinion. We think if they are in school, with their minds being usefully developed, being interested and being really educated, with a curriculum suited to their age and their environment, there is a good case for keeping them there, but, if you are merely going to keep them going through the old text-books, we think it is extraordinarily hard on the children and will make them loathe school.

The object, of the Amendment is to create a class of exemptions in all these single school areas where there has not been the development of the new type of education that we want. As each year goes by, those exemptions will get less under the Amendment, but until you can provide a proper type of education it is very hard to put this legal obligation upon the parents. The right hon. Baronet said that it is administratively impossible. I do not believe that for a moment. He says it means different appointed days. Of course it does, and why should it not? He is obsessed with the idea that one day next year he is going to say, "I am a great man who at one bound has revolutionised education in this country." It is a typical window-dressing idea—a typical Labour party idea. It is not the way in which real progress is obtained. Real progress is attained only by doing something thoroughly and efficiently, not for the sake of creating a sort of illusion that some great achievement has suddenly come about, but gradually, step by step, building up, by an evolutionary process, a better thing than you found before. I believe this is an extremely good, workable and sensible Amendment, arid I hope my hon. Friend will press it to a Division.

I always understand the reception I get from hon. Members opposite. They have been so well educated that they do not know how to behave themselves. I have to speak for those who are not educated. They have not had provided for them the same opportunities that have been provided for those who have been educated. The object of the Bill is to provide another year of education for the children of the common people.

Yes, and that is the extent to which you have it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why worry about it?"] I am only worrying about the money it cost your parents. We are asking for another year to be added on to the school life of the children of Great Britain, not the children of the farmer, not the children of the bricklayer's labourer, not the children of any particular section of the people, but all the children. I have read before every argument that I have heard to-day. I have read those arguments on all the Education Bills I have had a chance of studying. When it was first proposed that education should become a national matter, the same arguments were advanced as have been advanced to-day. Now we are asking for an extension of the possibilities of education hon. Members opposite pretend to be the representatives of rural England. That is the reason why they are here, because they have kept education back so much that people have no chance of using their brains.

If you want real education, what has prevented you, under all the Education Acts that have been passed since 1870, from extending the opportunities of children in rural England? If you thought they ought to be trained in the fields, what did you train them for? Scaring crows. Did you ever train them to real agricultural opportunities? No. You were out for cheap labour all the time, and, if the boys and girls could be used to provide cheap labour on the land, that was the end of their education. I was brought up in the country. I know what our chances of education were. I never learnt anything till I left school. I will try to understand hon. Members opposite if they will try to understand me. The schools were under their control. They saw to it that I did not get much knowledge or much opportunity, and I am only one of millions who have been treated in that manner. We had to travel into the towns to try to get a job, and when we got there we did not know where we were. All we could do was to read the notice outside the factory gate, "No hands wanted." That was all we knew; that was the extent of our education. Our class needs education, but you are not going to give it to us.

There is all this talk about reorganisation. I come from one of the poorest districts in the East End of London. We have already reorganised. We are getting ready for the possibilities of the future. We want to give our children the same chance as your children have had, or at least as near to it as we can, for we cannot give them all the chances that you have had. I wish to God that you had made better use of them! We want to give our children another year in school, in properly developed, properly organised schools. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Then you will vote for the Bill, which is an effort in that direction. [Interruption.] I am not speaking in favour of your proposition. Your ideas on education are fish-like and smelly. We are only asking that this Bill should be allowed to go through. It is going through its various stages in Committee, and eventually it will give our children another year at school under a definite form of organisation, which will mean a chance for them. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is what we are asking for!"] You are not asking for anything; you are taking all that you can get. We ask for a fair chance for the children of our class, so that they may be given an opportunity of climbing up the ladder of education, so that they may have better chances in the future than they have had in the past.

I have been trying to correlate the speech of the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), but the only sentence in his speech which had any relevance to the Amendment was that he never learnt anything until he left school. Surely he should be on our side of the argument.

In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education said, it is in no factious spirit that we are pressing this Amendment, which is one of substance, and reveals one of the two main motives for opposing Clause 1. Our contention is that the raising of the school-leaving age must not come into operation until provision is made which is adequate and suitable. The right hon. Gentleman, early in the debate, said that what we want to get is real education, and in that view he believed the whole Committee joined him, and he said that our contention was that we were not getting real education. For 70 or 100 years there has been one long struggle to provide education beyond the elementary stages, and now when we get almost within sight of the fulfilment of our ambitions the right hon. Gentleman jeopardises our chance of getting advanced education simply because of his understanding of the matter, that unless you do a thin before you are ready you will never do it at all, which seems to me to be a most melancholy philosophy. In one of its more aesthetic passages the Hadow Report speaks of the forming of character through the placing of youth in the hour of its growth, as it were, in the fair meadow of a congenial and inspiring environment. I do not see much prospect of the fair meadow. It will be the Slough of Despond in which the 14-year old will stick so fast that he will not be able to mark time.

What were the objections of the right hon. Gentleman to our argument? He said, in the first place, if I did not misunderstand him, that it would be extremely difficult to define what was advanced instruction and what was suitable education. There may be something in the contention, hut I am sure that I shall have the whole of the Committee with me when I say that it is very easy to define, in many rural districts, what is not suitable education and what is not advanced instruction. That is our point. The right hon. Gentleman says that there are 140 education authorities who say that they are ready. I should like to ask him again what has been asked on one of the other Amendments, namely, what he exactly means by "ready"? Does he mean that these authorities are ready to accommodate him, or to accommodate the children? I should like an answer to that question.

The second objection he raised to this Amendment was in regard to flexibility. He objects to local option of any kind. The hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. Evans) earlier in the evening seemed to take objection to local option. He seemed to argue on the assumption that anything that was compulsory was of necessity progressive, and that anything which was optional was necessarily reactionary. I do not share that view at all. I think that we want to retain as much flexibility as possible. In the area with which 1 am most familiar I know of the extraordinary difficulties which the education authority have had in working out a scheme. There have been, apart from staff accommodation, geographical difficulties.

This is a most essential Amendment, and I appeal to the Committee to vote for it. It is bound up with one of the main motives of our objection to the raising of the school age before adequate provision has been made. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has one ambition, as I said at an earlier stage in the Bill, to have his name associated with a great Measure of social reform. We all share that ambition. I have no doubt that he wants to be commemorated in bronze on the Thames Embankment between Forster and Raikes, and from what I know of the right hon. Gentleman nearer to Forster than to Raikes. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will allow me, that is not a sneer. We are trying to help his party out of one of the worst messes into which they have ever got. The right hon. Gentleman belongs to a new party. They are pursuing a policy of raising the school age before adequate provision is made for the children who are intended to benefit. I can only describe it as part and parcel—to use the Prime Minister's own words—of a policy of fatuous futility.

I was more disappointed at the trivial reply which was given by the President of the Board of Education to this Amendment, to which we, at any rate, attribute considerable importance, than I have been on any previous occasion in these debates. He said that the point had already been discussed. I suggest, as a matter of fact, that it is an entirely new point which has not yet been touched upon except during the Second Reading of the Bill. Possibly, the most unfortunate part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was the airy manner in which he dealt with the subject of administration. He said that this Amendment was administratively impossible. Who was to judge? First, he mentioned the parents. He pooh-poohed that idea. Why, I do not know. I am still old-fashioned enough to believe that the parents have, or should have, I believe they have, a considerable interest and a considerable judgment in regard to the education of their children. We might well have a worse tribunal to decide what is suitable instruction than the parents of the children. Then he suggested the magistrates. He gave no reason why the magistrates were an impossible body. I can only assume that he holds a body to which I fancy he as well as I and other hon. Members of this House belong, in most regrettable contempt. This is not the time or place to argue that point, but if we have a magisterial system, it is presumably appointed for something and it presumably knows something of the laws that it has to administer. He gave no adequate reason why the magistrates were not capable of judging this matter. I have no extravagant opinion of the Board of Education, but I think it is capable of deciding. There is one body whose duty obviously it would be to decide, and it would be in every way the fairest body to decide, and that would be the local education authority. The right hon. Gentleman did not even dignify them by mentioning them.

I suggest, not having the right hon. Gentleman's long experience of the Board of Education, but as one who has been a member of a local education authority for seven years, that the administration of this Amendment would present no difficulties to any competent authority. We decline to believe that any well-meaning, intelligent body of men, knowing anything about education, would definitely assert that it is better for children to sit for a year in school doing nothing than to be outside doing something. We may be unduly obstinate, but we decline to believe that. The right hon. Gentleman is obstinate in stinking to the intention that we must have one appointed day. It is like the old song: "When father turns, we all turn." That appears to be the idea of the right hon. Gentleman. We believe that this Bill is put forward wrongly as we submit, with a view of giving better education. Although I am not going again into the question of the rural areas, there has not been one speech from the Government Bench either on the Second Reading of the Bill or on the Money Resolution or on the last Bill that has destroyed our contention that in the rural areas the children will get no benefit from this Bill. In the rural areas they will derive more harm than good from being in the schools for the extra year. For these reasons we shall press this Amendment to a Division.

10.0 p.m.

The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) is a master of 'lucid phrase, and certainly from his recent speech we derived one phrase which may serve as a motto and slogan for hon. Members on this side in the conduct of this debate in Committee. We join with him in our desire to secure for the children of this country real education, in well organised schools, and these Amendments are drafted with that object in view. The President of the Board of Education has said that the adoption of the Amendment will result in confusion. I do not think that is so. If it were so, we say that the confusion would simply be the result of his own insistence in forcing this Bill upon the country before it is ready for it. Consider what this Amendment is intended to achieve. When I first went through this Amendment, I said: "This appears to be a test as to whether the Government are really serious in their intention to promote education, or whether they only desire to achieve a cheap success." The rejection of the Amendment by the President of the Board of Education has caused me to have the most pessimistic feelings about any prospect there may be of improving this Bill in Committee. What is it that the Amendment is designed to do? Nothing more and nothing less than what any reasonable man would suppose to be the object of the Bill, namely, to secure to the children in the extra year

"courses of advanced instruction, suitable to their age and attainments as may be available in the districts where they reside."
Assuming that to be the positive effect of the Amendment, let me ask the attention of the Committee to what will be the effect of its negative rejection by the President, of the Board of Educa- tion. The effect will be that he is prepared to force this Bill through with the feeling that there are available for the, children no such courses of advanced instruction. Is it the intention of the Bill to give advanced instruction to all the children, or is it, as must be the consequence of the rejection of the Amendment, the intention of the Government simply to continue the children in marking time in those courses of elementary education which have been described as, and which we all know to be, useless for them. Secondly, the rejection of the Amendment announces the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to force school attendance upon the children if advanced instruction is available, even though it is not "suitable to their age and attainments." That may not seem to be very serious, but it has a most serious application. It will mean, owing to the lack of means for the proper adaptation of courses for children, forcing, particularly upon the rural child, courses of advanced education which are totally unsuitable.

The third consequence of the rejection of the principle of this Amendment is that the President of the Board of Education is prepared to force the children to continue their school attendance if advanced instruction is available to them but is not available for them in the district where they reside. I would lay stress upon the very ominous consequence that that threatens against the rural child. We all know only too well of the sad examples of the effect of our school attendance laws upon rural depopulation. We know of prosperous hamlets being de-populated owing to our school laws. The law now under consideration must inevitably have the effect of emphasising that condition of things.

The higher education authorities have told us that for the proper administration of this Bill in the rural areas you need central schools of at least 200 pupils, and you need for those schools suitably trained teachers. There is no longer any serious contention, even from the Front Bench, that it is possible to supply the apparatus for the rural children at the time and date fixed by this Bill. It would seem almost incredible that anyone with any reasonable intentions with regard to education should reject this Amendment, were it not for the remark- able pronouncement of the President of the Board of Education that he does not care what the children are doing in the schools so long as he gets them there. I have not the OFFICIAL REPORT to which I can refer, but those I think were his exact words. The Committee will correct me if I am giving a false impression of what he said. That is the impression he produced upon our minds.

The matter is not on such a simple basis as that. It is the case that life provides education particularly the first year of life after leaving school. Any education provided in the school is not good enough. It must be such as to better fit the children for the practical education which they get after coming out of school. That is not so easy. It is hard to do it in every school year, and it is still harder to do it for the year which we are providing for in this Bill. We see not the faintest hope of it being done if the Bill is carried through in its present form. Unfortunately, it is in the capacity of the Board of Education and of the Government, and of the right hon. Gentleman, to force children into school and to keep them sitting there. They may then turn round and say that they have advanced education for one year. It will not advance education by a year; it will retard it by a year and injure the true cause of education.

Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN