Considered in Committee [ Progress, 23rd March].
[Major MILNER in the Chair]
Postponed Clause 59—(Prohibition Of Fees In Schools Maintained By Local Education Authorities And In Young People's Colleges)
I beg to move, in page 45, line 42, at the beginning, to insert:
I am asking my right hon. Friend to give effect to a pledge which was given by the Board of Education about 20 years ago, to over 200 grammar schools. At that time, these schools were persuaded to give up receiving capitation grants direct from the Board of Education, and to take, instead, deficiency grants from the local education authorities. The pledge which they were given was that if they took that course they would not lose status thereby. I understand that there is no dispute that the pledge was given, but it may be suggested that after a lapse of 20 years the pledge has grown a little stale. Twenty years may seem a fairly long time in the history of such comparatively modern excrescences as the Board of Education, and local education authorities, but, none the less, it is but a short time in the life of many of these schools, which have been conducting education in this country for the last 400 or 500 years or more—centuries before the State took the slightest interest in education. In the memory of these schools, that pledge is still fresh. If fees are to be prohibited in the case of these schools, nothing but their endowments will stand between them and domination by the local education authorities. Up to now, their relationship with the local education authorities has been determined entirely by negotiations. My right hon. Friend, on previous days when we have discussed this Bill, has drawn a very pretty picture of the aided status. He has endeavoured to persuade us that the aided status is one flowing with milk and honey. Whether that be true or not, it does not meet the case of these schools, because most of them, even if they desired to adopt aided status, would not be able to afford to do so if they were deprived of their fees. Most of them, if they have to rely entirely upon their endowments, will have to accept controlled status—a very different state of affairs. Therefore, if they are deprived of the right to charge fees, their status will be drastically affected and lowered. That is why I claim that they should be excluded from the operation of Clause 59; otherwise, the pledge will be broken. My right hon. Friend may, perhaps, contend that the contract is no longer binding, that the new set-up, or lay-out or whatever one could call it, of education is going to create an entirely different state of affairs never contemplated at the time the contract was entered into. I do not accept teat as a sufficient reason for contravening the pledge, but, if it be accepted by the Committee, then I say we should call the whole thing off and these schools should be given the option of returning to the direct grant status. Which is the Minister going to do? Is he going to permit these schools to continue to charge fees by excluding them from the operation of Clause 59, or is he going to let them return to direct grant status? It is a very grave position for these schools, and, if my right hon. Friend fails to help them in one of these two ways, many of them may decide to become independent, in which case they will have to raise their fees. That will be a most unhappy thing and will be very unfortunate for the boys whose parents are not very well off. On Clause 16, the Minister gave us to understand that we should hear something to our advantage on Clause 93, but Clause 93 is in the bush, and I think that we should be very ill-advised to yield on Clause 59 unless we are told exactly what we are going to find in that bush. These schools have an ancient and honourable tradition of sturdy independence. They are com- pletely democratic, because, in them, boys whose parents can pay fees and boys whose parents do not pay fees mix together upon absolutely equal terms. These schools have strong family associations. Generation after generation have continued the same family attendances. They have a national character; indeed, I can say that boys come to these schools from the uttermost parts of the Empire to be educated where their fathers and grandfathers were educated before them. They, therefore, provide a powerful source of Imperial strength, and I submit that these assets should not lightly be discarded."Except as regards any school which ceased to receive grant direct from the Board of Education during the years nineteen hundred and twenty-two to nineteen hundred and twenty-six, inclusive."
I put my name to this Amendment because I am very much concerned, with my right hon. Friend opposite, that the continuity of the prestige, dignity and associations of these schools should be preserved. I observed that the Minister in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, undertook to deal with these matters on Clause 93. I would only say at the moment, in support of what my hon. Friend has said, that it would be a great misfortune if the associations of these schools, which have a long history, were attacked by the operation of this Bill, and if the schools were detached from the associations they have had with the development of our Colonial Empire. I hope that the Minister will look into this point, and not place these schools, under the operation of the Bill, in such a way as to lower their status and deprive them of that long tradition of character which they have had for so many years. These schools started in the dark ages of the past, and it would be a great misfortune if anything were done to deprive them of the place they occupy in our educational system.
The Government could not undertake to accept this Amendment. The issue really is a very narrow one on this Amendment, and I hope the Committee will not confuse it with the general issue which we shall be discussing shortly. I do not say it is not an important one, and the hon. Member who moved it has been very pertinacious in trying to put his case before the Committee, and I congratulate him on getting in now before we get to Clause 93. I can give him the answer here just as well as on Clause 93. What is the position? The hon. Member suggested that we should omit from the purview of this Clause certain schools which made a certain option between 1922 and 1926. These schools were given the option, first, of becoming direct grant schools, or, second, of receiving their assistance through the authority. The hon. Member says that, at that time, certain pledges were given to these schools, and he has used the most definite language to-day implying that there might be an attempt to break that pledge. I must say, equally categorically, that in my opinion, having examined the papers, no pledge in the terms he has described was actually given. I can describe the position in my own way, and then he can see that the situation is not, perhaps, so grim and serious as he thinks.What was the position at that time? Certain schools attracted the attention of the Geddes Committee, who animadverted upon the fact that voluntary grammar schools received a Parliamentary grant from the Board and that the local authorities received grants from the Board on any assistance which they gave to those schools. In the view of the Committee that involved a duplication of Exchequer grants, and in view of the findings of the Committee it was thought wise that the situation should be remedied and that these particular schools should be given a choice either (1) to continue to receive their grants direct, in which case any assistance given by a local authority would not rank for the Board's grant, or, alternatively, to cease to receive direct grant from the Board and to receive all their assistance from public funds through the authority. That was the choice given to these voluntary grammar schools. Some of them opted for direct grant and others opted to receive their moneys through the authorities. The hon. Member has claimed that a definite pledge was given to those receiving their money through the authorities that their status would not be affected. I can find no undertaking in the Circular, No. 1259, which was sent out to them on 2nd May, 1922, which bears the interpretation he has placed upon it. Conversations took place at the same time and I have examined the records of those conversations, and it appears that the most that these people were led to understand was that, as far as the Board was concerned, they would not have their status and independence affected by the particular manner in which they received their aid from public funds and that the Board would, as heretofore, continue to deal with them direct. At the same time it was made absolutely clear to them that the local education authorities were under no legal obligation to help them, and that if they did so they could attach such conditions as they thought fit to their assistance, because that is the normal association between local authorities and schools. Therefore, if one looks at the matter from the point of view of the dignity of these schools, it is true to say that we always anticipated that those who opted to receive their moneys from public funds through the local authorities would not have their position and dignity altered, and to that position we adhere, but it does not mean that we have said we could in no way govern the association between the authorities and these schools. What is the issue before the Committee? The Board has acted in perfect good faith in this matter. Why, therefore, does the hon. Member raise this question to-day? He raises it because, if I am interpreting him correctly, he is anxious that some of these schools may have to opt for controlled status because of their financial position, and also anxious that some of them, even though they could opt for aided status, might prefer to revert to the direct grant list. Perhaps the best consolation I can give the hon. Member is this, that, as I shall show later in the course of our main discussion upon Clause 59, the direct grant list of the future will have to be worked out, and the Government are willing to give guidance to the Committee and to the country as to the principles which govern them in making up that new list. The terms and conditions of those entering into it will have to be laid down. It may well be possible that at that time some of these schools would be able to re-exercise their option and revert again to the direct grant list. I will not go into that further to-day, but that will show the hon. Member that the situation is not entirely closed. As for the others, I pray and beseech the hon. Member not to imagine that because a school does opt for aided status its independence or general position is any less than that of any other school. In passing this great Measure of reform I think it most important that we should give a proper dignity to the aided school, and association with an authority is not something which any governors of any school would be likely to under-estimate. I believe these schools will find they are treated with just as much dignity in their relations with the Board and just as much dignity in their own districts if they become aided schools. The opportunity may well be given to them to become direct grant schools. As to the few who have to opt for controlled status because of their financial position, the option offered them is in my opinion a much better one than has been appreciated. There is nothing in it which derogates from the dignity or independence of the school. It simply means that it has to depend to a greater extent for its finance upon the authority and if some of them do elect for that option I would not regard that as constituting a breach of confidence or of faith. In any case I would prefer that they should opt for the situation they prefer. I must say that I think the hon. Member has done a service in raising the position of these schools, and I hope that I have done a service in clearing up the point that no pledge has been broken, nor was their any intention to introduce any uncertainty into their future. I hope, too, that I have shown that in the secondary world, when we have worked out the future, these schools will be able to adopt the status which they most desire.
It might be useful if I were to say a word or two, in supplement of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, as representing the views of a considerable number of aided schools, namely, the aided schools in the London area. I am a member of the association of London aided schools, which consists almost entirely of either governors or chairmen of schools and representatives of religious bodies. We have put down Amendments to various parts of the Bill, one or two of which have already been accepted while others have been rejected, but we did not think it necessary to associate ourselves with this particular Amendment, very largely for the reasons mentioned by my right hon. Friend. I do not wish to enter into controversy with my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor), but I would say that there is a good deal of authoritative opinion which supports the President of the Board in the statement he has just made.
May I ask the noble Lord whether any of those schools which he represents were direct grant schools before 1922?
I could not say that without inquiring of the whole of the London aided schools.
I rise only to emphasise a point with regard to direct grant schools. I dislike very much the suggestion that they would lose their dignity, because I do not think that is a term which is in any way applicable to them. What they are afraid of, so far as I understand it—and I have been associated with schools of this kind for many years—is that they will lose some of their independence. In my view there ought to be in the schools of the country some power to experiment with various types of education, and if they are all controlled by the local authorities that power to make experiment, that curtailment of independence, will be very detrimental to the general education of the country. In the discussion on primary schools it was claimed again and again, mostly from the other side of the Committee, that those who pay the piper are entitled to call the tune, and that is the underlying fear of those who desire to maintain what they had before under direct grant status. They do not want to become more and more of a particular pattern of maintained schools. I say again that it is not our dignity with which we are concerned but the fear of becoming stereotyped in our curricula and restricted in our freedom to make experiments. As the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) pointed out, these schools are invaluable in the democratic outlay of the country. In schools of this type with which I have been associated there are a large number of pupils from the elementary schools—in some cases they make up to about 50 per cent. of the school—and there is no feeling of antagonism or differentiation between pupils who do not pay fees and pupils who pay fees. I think it is a valuable thing that boys from elementary schools should mix on a common basis with the sons of parents who are better off and who pay fees.
I do not think it is fair to let the speech of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) pass without a reference to something he said in regard to experimentation. Apparently the hon. Member is quite unaware of some of the things being done by schools under local authorities. A great deal of experimental work is being done. I could take him to senior boys' schools under local education authorities where the education is on the lines of the Dalton plan, an experiment which has been highly successful. I only mention this because it would be wrong for an impression to go out to the country that schools under a local authority cannot indulge in exactly the same experiments as he referred to in connection with independent schools.
I quite agree that local authorities are making experiments but they are not as free to make experiments which may possibly be failures as independent or semi-independent schools. As an example, in one such school with which I was associated the headmaster established years ago with great ultimate success the heuristic teaching of science, which probably might not have been approved by the local authority in a controlled school.
On a point of Order. Are we going to have a general discussion on this Amendment, because if so I and others would like to join in? The subject opens up a large area and I was wondering upon what Amendment we should get the main discussion.
It would be better to take the main discussion upon the next Amendment, which raises the whole question, but upon the understanding that that discussion is not repeated upon the question of the Clause standing part of the Bill.
I have an Amendment following that upon which, if it is called, we should desire, I think, to divide the Committee. Is it possible for us to have an assurance that we shall be able to divide upon that Amendment?
In the ordinary way the Committee can divide upon any Amendment called.
If it is called.
I desire to support what was said by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, because I think there is something of great value in these aided schools which we are in danger of losing. After the Minister's speech I think encouragement should be given to these schools if they wish to become direct grant schools, and if that is so the position will have been met very largely, because the direct grant schools do form a bridge across the gulf between the council schools and the independent schools.
While I am grateful to the President of the Board for the very careful reply which he has given, I am sorry that he was unable to give a more positive assurance. My anxiety was to secure that these schools should be no worse off in the future, having opted as they did, than they would have been had they opted in 1926 for direct grant. I was only anxious to secure that their position was not prejudiced by making the choice they did on the assurance given to them at that time. I do not think there is much between my right hon. Friend and myself with regard to the terms of the pledge. There is no doubt that these schools did act upon a pledge, that their choice was influenced by it, whatever may have been its precise terms. That being so, I do not think the future of these schools ought to be prejudiced by the decision which they took at that time.
On a point of Order. I want to be perfectly clear that my Amendment will be called, because on that a wider issue is raised. On that, we might want to divide.
I propose to call the hon. Member's Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 45, line 43, after "any", to insert "primary or secondary."This proposal has a narrow import and also a wider one and I should like to deal first with the narrow aspect of it. It provides that secondary education should be free, and therefore excludes other types of schools. The Amendment is intended to do so because there is a type of school, such as the London School of Printing or the School of Arts and Crafts, which nobody suggests should be entirely free and those words are therefore put in as limiting words in the first instance. It also raises, perhaps, the most fundamental question of educational policy in the Bill. Clause 59 provides that no fee shall be charged in respect of maintained secondary schools, but if it remains as it is, it will permit the continuation of the charging of fees in assisted schools and in direct grant secondary schools. In these schools the vast majority of the children—possibly 75 to 90 per cent.—are admitted because their parents are able to buy a place for them at the school. The parents can buy this place, not by paying the cost of the education, but by paying, on an average, about one-third of the cost. The remainder of the cost is provided either by endowments—which were not intended for the children of the better off but for children generally or, in some cases, for the poorer children—and also by grants from the Exchequer and, in some cases, also from local authorities. By buying a place in such a school an abler child, whose parent is not in a financial position to pay fees, may be excluded and may, therefore, be compelled to go to another school which will be less suitable for his particular abilities and qualifications. Paragraph 20 of the White Paper confirms everything that I have said so far. Indeed, it says:
Those are my right hon. Friend's own words. He ends the paragraph by saying:"The conditions attending the admission of children to the various forms of post-primary education present some disquieting features."
The Clause as it stands continues the disquieting features to which my right hon. Friend refers in Paragraph 20 of the White Paper, and it also offends against the canon which he himself has laid down. Evidently my right hon. Friend wanted some guidance on the matter of the abolition of fees in direct grant schools, and, therefore, on 7th November, 1942, he asked the Fleming Committee to consider, as a matter of urgency, the question of the abolition of fees in grant-aided secondary schools. They considered the matter for some six months and then decided, by 11 votes to seven, in favour of the abolition of fees in grant-aided secondary schools as a whole. I do not propose to traverse the field of the very interesting arguments which were put forward both by the majority side of the Committee and by the minority side, but I was very impressed by the argument that now that secondary education is to be universal and compulsory, the charging of fees in some schools and not in others becomes anomalous. It appears as incongruous, as if fees were to be charged in some elementary schools to-day and not in others. My right hon. Friend will know that until elementary education became free, compulsory and universal, fees were charged. Fees ceased to be charged, at the time when education became compulsory and universal. It is important to remember that in some cases the only secondary schools for a long time to come in certain areas will be direct grant schools and in these areas there will be no free secondary education for large numbers of children. I admit that it will be possible, if conditions remain as they are, for between 10 and 25 per cent, of children to receive free places in such schools, but the vast majority of the children in such schools will be fee-paying children. They will possibly exclude other children who are in greater need of the education and who would benefit more from it."A system under which fees are charged in one type of post-primary school and prohibited in the other offends against the canon that the nature of a child's education should be determined by his capacity and promise and not by the financial circumstances of his parent."
Will the hon. Member give an example where that would happen?
I suggest to my hon. Friend that if he will take the interim Report of the Fleming Committee he will find in the Appendix a list of 232 schools. If he looks through them he will find a good many in that position and the majority Report actually says that is the case—that in some areas the direct grant school is the only school. I do not think there can be any doubt about the fact; it is vouched for by the Committee itself. Moreover, fees will not therefore be payable in aided schools, but the distinction between the rate-aided and the direct grant school is frequently impossible to discover, and my hon. Friend who moved the last Amendment made that point pretty strongly himself. In fact, the whole position as to whether a school is a direct grant school or a rate-aided school is based, as the interim Report says, on a fortuitous decision made in 1926, without regard to educational requirements. It is based on what happened to suit the particular school financially, and, may I say, on the whims and ideas of the governors who happened to be in charge at that particular time. Some of them, obviously, made a mistake because they have apparently asked that an Amendment should be moved to enable them to change their minds.In spite of that fact, the cleavage is going to remain between the two types of secondary schools. Some schools, in fact, are both direct-grant schools and rate-aided schools and they, even more than others, will find themselves embarrassed by the fact that they will have to continue to charge fees. Why does the President of the Board reject the advice which was given to him by the majority of the Committee? It seems to me that up to the time of the issue of the White Paper on education, he was still in agreement with the majority of the Committee. What has happened since then to make him change his mind? The White Paper, as I read it, actually accepted the views of the majority of the Fleming Committee and rejected the views of the minority. I should be very interested to learn why my right hon. Friend has changed his mind. After all, the Members of that Committee carried a great deal of weight educationally. The Headmaster of Charterhouse and the Headmaster of Hele's School, Exeter, and the Headmistress of Roedean and others were members of the Committee—ladies and gentlement, may I say, whom one would not assume to be predisposed in favour of the abolition of tuition fees in secondary schools. They also included representatives of the Universities of Oxford and Wales and formed a very weighty educational majority.
I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman, but will he give us the names of some of the minority members?
Certainly, I would like to do that. There is the chairman himself, Lord Fleming, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland—nothing to do with education; Sir Edward Crowe, Governor of the Harpur Trust, Bedford, and direc- tor of various companies. There is the right hon. the Lord Bishop of London. There is the chairman and managing director of Stewarts and Lloyds, another great non-educational authority. There is a member of the Governing Bodies' Association and late Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University. There is the Secretary of the Governing Bodies' Association of Girls' Public Schools and the headmaster of Nottingham High School. I would submit that if you weigh up those who were in the majority against those who were in the minority, on educational grounds there can be no doubt whatever that the majority carries far more weight, far more guns on education.
Could my hon. Friend say whether a solicitor is qualified to lay down the law on education?
Not as well as some others I have read. I am not in a position to know my hon. and gallant Friend's occupation. What is the case against the abolition of fee-paying schools? One argument put forward was that it would create anomalies between the independent and the direct grant school. I am prepared to agree that some anomalies would be created until my right hon. Friend deals with the independent school, which he has promised to do. But by retaining the present position, the anomalies are far greater because you have the same types of schools, in both of which fees have in the past been charged, and once this Bill is passed, the fees will be abolished in some but will remain in others. Is it a question of cost? The interim Report gives the cost of abolishing the fees in direct grant schools as £1,100,000. This is not a very considerable sum compared with the ultimate cost of education in this country of over £200,000,000 and an ultimate increase over former expenditure of nearly £80,000,000. The sum of 1,100,000 is very small and out of all proportion to the value of this proposition, psychologically and otherwise, to the nation. I believe that in the long run, by providing every child with the education which is suited for it, and by thus using every secondary school place to the best advantage, and in the most efficient way, we shall be effecting an economy.The present system of educating children merely on the basis of the ability of their parents to pay is wasteful of central places; it is not using those places to the best advantage. Our education system should be fairer and more efficient. This question is the true touchstone of all our professions about education. Do we really believe in education, and in giving our children an equal opportunity of education of the very best? All this education is on the basis of privilege. Is it to continue as something which can be bought and sold to the highest bidder? I believe that the vast majority of hon. Members in this House, if they were free to decide, and certainly the majority of the vast public outside, would want education to become democratic and available to all on equal terms. That is the case which we on this side of the Committee are putting, and that is the justification for the Amendments that are being put forward.
I rise to try to put the case—which is not a very easy one to put—on the other side. This issue goes very deep and raises questions which affect not only the maintained and direct grant schools, but the public schools, as they are called, and independent schools themselves which do not come within the scope of this Bill. The Fleming Report makes frequent reference to them and it is impossible not to mention them. What are the facts? There are 773 maintained schools in this country, 339 auxiliaries and 232 of the direct grant schools, to which my hon. Friend has made reference—about 1,400 in all, and one-sixth of them or very nearly are direct grant schools. The fees vary from £4 10s. to £75 and in the direct grant schools, contrary to the figure which my hon. Friend has mentioned, 66 per cent. of the pupils actually pay fees, and at a fairly high level. It is true that the majority of these schools receive some local authority assistance, in the shape of either bursaries or grants. If we analyse the three types of school, it will be observed that, if we abolish fees as proposed, the total cost to the country would be about £3,500,000, but over £1,200,000 will come from these direct grant schools. The reason for that is, obviously, that there is a high percentage of fee-payers in them. There does seem to be a confusion of principle, and I want to raise two principles with my right hon. Friend.The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) has stated one principle, but there is a second one. His principle is that, if you compel a child to attend school, the education rate should, with State assistance, bear the total cost. I prefer to put it that way. They say that it is free. It is not free. Everybody has to pay for it through the rates. That is a common and a perfectly sound principle. Once you compel a child to receive it, you have to make it free to all. A second principle has crept into this, which is different, that, when the State assists a school, or a child to attend a school, the quantity of public money should involve some control over accessibility. My right hon. Friend, in his Second Reading speech, on 19th January, used the word "accessible"—these schools should be "accessible". I would like him, in replying, to define what he means by "accessible". Education, like taxis or stalls in a theatre, is accessible if you have the money with which to pay.
In peace time. But there is another sense in which he might have meant to use the word "accessible," and that is "equality of access." This bears very much on other questions. Christ's Hospital is very often quoted, and I want to remind hon. Members that the standard of examination for Christ's Hospital is very stiff, and it is only the top boys from the London County Council schools who go to that school and survive the test. I want a merit test, plus means test, for this higher type of education. There is the example of Russia, which has recently attached, at the age of 15, a merit, plus means, test for all children who are to have education after the age of 15. I want to ask my right hon. Friend the Minister why he changed his mind, or why he did not accept the Majority Report of the Fleming Committee. There are very good reasons for not accepting it, but I want to know what his reasons were and on what basis he is constructing the system of secondary education?I suppose that the Committee realise the position with regard to unreorganised schools in London—and there are 35,000 children in such schools at the moment. Every unreorganised or senior school will be called a secondary school immediately this Bill is passed. It will be on the same footing as the beautiful new senior school, the junior technical school, St. Dunstan's, University College School, direct grant schools like Blundells or Manchester Grammar School; that unreorganised school will be exactly on the same footing as Manchester Grammar School, which, for several hundred years has been winning scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge, and which has an entirely different intellectual basis, and is in fact doing a different job. The word "secondary," which had a qualitative meaning, has come to mean something which comes after primary. I was rather attacked by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) the other day on this, but I want to see a genuine and free primary and secondary system in this country. When hon, Members opposite voted the other day I could not help having in mind that a large number of hon. Members opposite came from schools quite outside the scope of this Bill. I want to see a genuine system of primary and secondary education which will make it unnecessary, in respect of any child in this country, to have to pay the large sums of money which parents choose to pay at the present moment in order to send their children to such schools. The reason why I am very nervous about this particular type of school—and I disagree with my hon. Friend—is that, inevitably, you are going to widen the gap between the schools which are going to be called free State-secondary schools and private or independent schools. There is another reason. History has shown that as the State system has grown, so also has the independent system of schools grown in number. That happened between the wars, and it is happening to-day. There are new independent schools growing up, and there are waiting lists for those schools. I am not going to praise the people who do it. They may do it for what are commonly called, snob reasons. I am only quoting figures and facts, but it is the fact that, with the growth of freer secondary education, there has been almost an equal growth of independent schools outside. The problem of the "two nations" to which my right hon. Friend has been referring in speeches up and down the country, is not going to be healed by many things in this Bill. [Interruption.] I hope the Noble Lady will not interrupt, because this is a point that has to be thrashed out.
I really am getting a little tired of this. Every time anybody gets into a jam he turns towards me and says "I hope the Noble Lady will not interrupt." I am really getting a little weary; I often get publicity for things that I do not deserve and I am tired of it.
I may get into a jam in a minute—at the moment I am not in it—and shall be very glad of the help of the Noble Lady. Another reason why I want to put this case before the Committee, is that we cannot afford, as a nation, in future, to waste ability wherever it is to be found in the country. We have to discover and select, not by eliminating but by giving different opportunities and paths in the secondary field. If that is true, more and more the State is bound to be determining national need. The scientific workers of the future, teachers, engineers, and doctors will, I am afraid—or perhaps I should say, I am rather glad—in some ways, more and more need State assistance if we are to open out the professions to really poor boys. It is impossible in this country, unless you have something like £1,000 or happen to win one of the very few bursaries, to get into the medical profession; you cannot do it unless you have enough money. One of the reasons why people go into teaching and the Civil Service is because there is no premium required. Generally speaking, you can go through free and get into fairly safe jobs, with pensions, too.It is all the more important that we must have some selective principle at work in our education. If you are going to pay for people to go to the university at 16 or 17 years of age, you ought to be able to justify that expenditure of public money. If you are to justify that expenditure, you must have a proper selective basis at some time in the adolescent years. I believe that the direct grant schools in the past have been doing that job. Ideally, I would like to see a type of school introduced by my right hon. Friend which would be so good that, as in parts of America, it would be extremely expensive to start, a private school alongside a State school. But it has to be borne in mind also that, even in that country, there has been a new crop of very expensive private schools along the sea border, in the last 20 or 30 years. Therefore, you do not get rid of this problem simply by saying, "Let all the children come to the same schools under the local authorities." I say nothing whatever against the kind of provision which London, for instance, is making and the assistance which London gives to its aided secondary schools. I want to ask my right hon. Friend one question on that point before I leave it. Take a school in London which in the past has been aided. It has some endowment and now it is almost bound to have to give up its fees. That school in the past, I have heard from one headmaster, has been able to "combine education, freedom from public control, choice of school by the parents, choice of pupil by the school, in a very happy degree." Is there going to be that same choice? I know that choice. People can spend £200 a year on the education of their children but I am not interested in them, nor is this Bill. I am interested in those who spend £9 or £10 a year, or the average figure for this country, 11 guineas a year. I notice that some of my friends who are so eloquent in urging the doing away with this particular type of school have themselves chosen to spend their money—and they are entitled to do it—to the extent of perhaps, to quote two examples, of £45 in the one case, and £80 in the other, on the education of their children. They may well say, "We must take what is going; when the new system comes in everything will be different." But what guarantee is there? They exercised a choice—£45 worth of choice. I have in mind another man, not a Member of this House, who is always talking on this question and whose son went to an excellent direct-grant school at a cost of £40 for fees and £80 for boarding, a total of £120. Have we come to the point where you can spend money on everything except a slightly better education for your child? I should have thought that that was one of the best ways in which parents could exercise their responsibility. Now to come to the more subtle question of how we are to deal with this special type of school. I noticed that "The Economist," the other day, speaking of the grammar schools, said:
In the rest of the article it commented on the fact that while you are able to pay for a boarding-school education you are not allowed to pay fees. If you pay fees, plus board, and send your child away to the country nobody says anything, but if you want to pay fees without boarding it is impossible. The Fleming Report says—and here I must enter a censure against the Government—"It would be regrettable if this were to be tempered with other purely ideological reasons."
I am not quite clear about this. Is my hon. Friend subject to some confusion or am I? Boarding schools may be entirely provided and financed by private money. We are concerned with schools financed either partially or totally by public money.
I am glad my hon. Friend referred to that because I was about to say it. The Fleming Committee were asked to report and my hon. Friend will see that the minority Report says:
The majority Report says:"We think it regrettable that it has been found necessary to ask us to give an opinion on the question of the abolition of tuition fees in isolation from other matters referred to the Committee."
The Minister may say that he wanted the Committee's views on the question of fees and he is entitled to have them, but I want to say that their view is not a complete view. I want to put forward what is, I think, a more constructive policy. Our job in Committee on this Bill is to build bridges across the chasms between the aided and maintained and the grant-aided and public schools. That is why some of us, a few weeks ago, pressed for articles of government. That is why some of us have attacked the virtual monopoly of posts for public schools, which still obtains in the Foreign Office and elsewhere. You must clip the wings at the other end. You can prevent certain avenues of employment tending to be rather closed for a special group of schools but that must be dealt with outside this Bill. There is one other thing which the Minister has not done: he has not abolished the dual system. The real reason why we have not better senior schools to-day is because we have the frightful problem of building up Church schools to the level of amenities of the beautiful new senior schools which can be found in some parts of the country. The only way the Minister will get an improvement in the situation, is by making the public system so good that it will not be worth while parents spending money on the independent system. I see no other answer. All our energy should be spent, in this Bill, on levelling up. The only way to do that is to have more teachers, better teachers, better pay, and a higher proportion of staff to pupils. Until you have done that I do not see why you should bring down the level of a group of schools which have achieved a certain standard. It is an excellent standard. Scholastically, no one can quarrel with the Manchester, Bradford or Wolverhampton Grammar Schools; they are doing a good jab. Why say to 66 per cent. of the parents, "You can no longer pay fees?" Is it because you must have a general egalitarian principle running through the country?"In compiling this Report dealing with the specific aspect of our problem, we have inevitably been compelled to encroach on a field of our general inquiry. In the time so far available to us we have not yet had an opportunity of considering more than part of the evidence bearing on the problem and we must hold ourselves free to review, and, if necessary, to revise, any conclusions we have reached in so far as they affect the general question referred to us."
The Government must not be surprised if we try to produce a much better education in our primary and secondary schools. In some parts of the country it is now obligatory for parents to spend extra money on education, and this is having some effect on the birthrate, although I do not want to argue that in detail here. In so far as the Bill contributes to that radical improvement of primary and secondary education it will lessen class distinction; incidentally, children themselves care very much about this distinction. I was at Christ's Hospital last week, and I was saddened to see children, who could not afford the coupons, having to do without the usual costume. It always was impossible to tell the difference between the various classes of children who wore a common uniform, and enjoyed that bracing atmosphere, for four or five years. Remember, these children do pay something. I know that the view I am taking is not a popular view and that it is not an argument against free secondary education. In the next five or ten years we shall make our secondary system of education a real thing, and I hope that by that time the Minister will obtain men and women from universities who will become graduate teachers. That is what we want. Through the organisation which my hon Friend the Member for Aberavon represents here, they will apply to the senior schools that type of teacher. When you have the teachers, the amenities and the ratio of staff to pupils that justifies a sound system of education, do not let us then make any distinctions between direct-grant schools, aided schools, maintained schools or anything else.I want to make a request to the Minister. In connection with the direct-grant schools I want him to apply the 100 per cent. special place system to them. No child will go into these schools unless it passes the proper examination; no child will be debarred because of inability to pay fees, but at the same time those who can afford the fees, £10, £15,£20 or £30, will have an equal opportunity. Those who can afford full fees will pay, and those who cannot, will do it on a graduated scale. If the Minister does that, he will make it easier to bridge the gap between ordinary secondary schools and independent schools. I hope the time will come when these schools, too, will find their place in the national system. If my right hon. Friend does not, then he will damage secondary education; he will not make it easier for the child to get more secondary education than it can get to-day. If he takes this opportunity he will be doing something which will be a genuine benefit to the future of secondary education.
We have listened to an exhaustive and erudite speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). I would not claim to have my hon. Friend's knowledge of the educational system of this country but for a long time I could not make up my mind where he stood. At one time I thought he was what we call in Wales, Shôni bob mân a phob ochr, which means on both sides of the fence. I was not clear whether he wanted the field of secondary education to be completely free or whether he wanted to maintain certain citadels of privilege. But in the end it became clear that my hon. Friend stood for privilege, for the schools which in need and in body are the symbol of social class distinction. He was standing by and in favour of the schools which, throughout our history, have been centres of educational reaction. There is no edu- cational building in the history of our grammar schools, of which it can be said it has contributed towards new ideas, the breaking of new ground and educational progress. The fact is that if there is any criticism of the municipal secondary schools, it is that they have been too prone in their curricula and outlook to aid the grammar schools. The grammar schools have deflected the secondary schools from the paths they ought to have taken. I have before me the Spens Report. No one would accuse the Master of Corpus Christi, with which I gather my hon. Friend is associated—
I had better warn the hon. Member that not only I, but two other persons are present who are associated with it, and therefore he had better be careful.
I would not accuse the Master of Corpus Christi of being a revolutionary.
Yes, I should.
All I can say is that the hon. Member is a very funny fellow. This is what the Spens Report says:
I hope the Committee will note that."The static condition of the education given in most of the Public Schools and Grammar Schools down to 1840 or even later was largely due not only to the predominant influence of the two old Universities, but also to the fact that they were endowed foundations."
Now on purely educational grounds I say that it would be an excellent thing for the direct grant schools—the grammar schools if I may use a common term—to come completely within the national system of education. Here in the Spens Report is the evidence of the complete remoteness, as far as education is concerned, of these schools. Latin and Greek, the Classics, taught generation after generation. Why? [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because these schools did not justify themselves and owe their existence to their educational quality and to the educational service they rendered to the nation. Quite frankly, I say to the Committee, and I raise the issue quite clearly and distinctly, that they persisted, because they served a narrow, privileged class in our society. The preservation of fees in our secondary system is the preservation of schools for parents who can afford to pay for that education, independent of, or apart from, whether the children can profit by that education or not. Why, even "The Economist"— and "The Economist" is not a revolutionary paper, unless my hon. Friend likes to take up the point also—the other day pointed out that this nation, and this nation alone in the world, provides two systems of education, one for the rich and one for the poor—"Few institutions are so proof against change as foundations supported by endowment, and consequently to a great extent independent alike of external control and popular demand. Thus, till the middle of the nineteenth century the endowed schools of England and Wales were, for the most part, in a backwater, and their pious founders determined from the tomb their studies and their methods of instruction, long after changes in the circumstances of the districts or of the pupils had made the founders' statutes inappropriate, or the development of educational theory had rendered them obsolete."
So does Russia.
I will deal with Russia in a minute, but I do not want to be deflected from what I am saying. I say again that the continuation of fees in these direct grant-aided or assisted schools is a mistake. It would be a good thing if the right hon. Gentleman could clear up the whole field and explain what is going to be free. There is a great deal of confusion about what is an assisted school, and so on, but I do not want to go into detail. I am dealing with the broad principle, and I say that as a matter of high social democratic policy we ought to sweep the field clean throughout the whole State system. You cannot have an integrated national system of education if in a part of the field there are free schools and in another part there are fee-paying schools. How can you have a national system on that basis? The Spens Report refers even to that, and says that what we want is parity of esteem. We want school A to have an equal status with school B. In this Bill the right hon. Gentleman says that all schools, for those above the age of 11 plus, are to be secondary schools, but it is a long way from a mere change of nomenclature to a real secondary system, and within that secondary system we want school A to be of equal status with school B. That will not happen if direct grant-aided schools are able to charge fees.
Because they will be the schools of the people who can afford to pay. It is inevitable. Why are Eton and Harrow so much regarded?
Because they are very good schools.
No, it is because of their history. You cannot divorce a school from its social implications. After all, a school is a social institution directly related to social policies, social conditions and social aspirations. It is no good trying to burk the issue. If we have some of these schools still paying fees, then it is quite clear they will be regarded with higher esteem than other schools, and that they will be regarded as having a higher social status. I know what is happening even now under the threat of this Bill. There is a famous public school in London just outside the purview of being free, where applications are crowding in at this moment. The fees will go up. The smaller you make the area of the fee-paying schools, the more select they become. Hence I say quite definitely that, as a matter of educational policy and practice, as a matter of national policy, and in order to get social integration and national unity, we ought to break down every barrier within our educational system that even smells of class privilege.It is perfectly true that you cannot get a democracy merely by democratising your, educational system, but it is equally true that you cannot get democracy without it. If you are to have a real democracy, you must have a democratic educational system. I hoped, therefore, that the Minister would sweep the public system completely of all fees. We hear the argument that we want to preserve variety, freedom of experiment, and so on. But anybody who studies the history of these schools will find that that is not their justification at all. The State school has introduced a hundred times more experiment into the educational sphere than have the grammar schools. If you read our educational history, you will find that it is the national system of education, publicly owned and publicly controlled, that has made innovations in education. It is not the local education authorities who have tied the hands of grammar schools. Anybody who knows the practice of local educational authorities will realise that they give prestige, dignity and freedom to the publicly-owned local authority secondary schools. Certainly it is not the public authority that has imposed the incubus of the School Certificate examination on the secondary schools. If anybody has tied the secondary system in this country in the past, it is the Board of Education through its regulations. I do not fear this return to democracy. The secondary school teachers of this country are in favour of this. My hon. Friend disputed that with me across the Floor of the House the other day, but I have here this week's copy of "Education" which contains an article by Sir Percival Sharp. I am not going to quote what he writes but what he quotes from the Memoranda on the Education Bill issued by the Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters in Secondary Schools. They say:
That is involved in the question now before us. Where you get fees, you get the autonomous control of governors and of headmasters, and I say that it is a good thing for the profession, and for education itself, that that control should pass over to the publicly-elected authority and that democracy should be organised in relation to the whole business. I would ask my right hon. Friend whether it is not true to say that, if these schools are left where they are, with privileged places as it were, in the scheme of planned development they will count in a particular area and be regarded as institutions which have been providing the necessary secondary education in that area. If that be so, if the direct grant school is to be counted as if it were a quota, making up the necessary secondary school places in a particular area, it necessarily subtracts from the free places in the others that may be provided by the authority, and this will do an injury to a large number of children. I see the post-war world as a very difficult world. I believe we shall be very much poorer. I do not believe you can have four or five years of war without using up your reserves, both of material and nerve power and even brain power. I remember a paragraph in the Prime Minister's book, "The Great Crisis," in which he described how the nation in the last war was united for victory and united in the hopes of the new world that was to be. But, when the war ended, he said, that "those hopes were doomed to be dashed, because," he asked, "how can you build a new world with 12,000,000 dead"? This war will not have drained us of man-power so much as the last, but it has drained us in other ways. Therefore, in this hard world, where we must inevitably be poorer, we shall want to use and cultivate and develop all the brain power that we can command. We shall want to be a more highly equipped nation technically. We shall not want to be chained to Latin and Greek. We shall not want to be chained to the grammar school tradition. We shall want to enter this new world freer and more adaptable. Behind it all, will be the spirit of unity of the nation, the feeling that we are entering a real democracy. Out of that feeling and that spirit of real democracy we shall have to face our difficulties more boldly, more fearlessly, and more intelligently, and therefore I ask the right hon. Gentleman to send a democratic message to the men and women and boys and girls who are fighting this war that we intend to sweep away, if not the realities, all the symbols of class distinction. Do not let it even be thought that a vestige of class privilege remains in our secondary system. In order to do so, I ask him to sweep away fees and make a freer democratic educational system."This Association wishes to make the strongest possible representation that the appointment and dismissal of teachers in all county and auxiliary schools should be under the control of a local education authority."
I think it would be a great pity if it were to be assumed that the Amendment can only be justified by attacking the grammar school tradition, or by, raising the issue of class versus class. I support the Amendment, but for reasons very different from those of the hon. Member who has just spoken. I support it because I believe in what I understand to be one of the principles of this Bill, that no child shall on account of the financial position of his parents be deprived of his right to secondary education. I mean that there shall not be any distinction drawn as to the kind of secondary education a child shall receive because of the financial position of the parents. It seems to me that, if you have certain schools where the places are necessarily limited, and it is laid down that some of the places shall go to children whose parents can pay fees, obviously you must be excluding other children whose parents cannot pay fees, and it may very often happen that those children are the ones who would benefit more from the education received. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said that the proposal to abolish fees in direct grant schools would bring down the level of the schools. I really cannot follow that argument. How is the educational level of any school affected by the fact that it receives its income from public funds rather than from the fees of parents? Is it the fact that the parents pay fees that makes a school either a good or a bad school? A school's reputation is made by what goes on inside it. The only part that finance plays is that there should be enough money to ensure adequate equipment and staff to enable the school to function properly. With that, the school is made by the headmaster and the staff, and the contribution which they, through their influence, enable the pupils themselves to make to the well-being of the school.We are concerned to-day apparently with only one-sixth of the secondary schools of the country and the question that I have to ask myself is, Why should different treatment—because that is what is being asked for—be meted out as far as fees are concerned to a sixth of the schools from that which is accorded to the other five-sixths? If there is any real force in the argument of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, it surely applies also to the maintained schools and to the assisted schools, but apparently he is prepared to accept for five-sixths of the secondary schools, that fees shall not be paid and that their income shall come entirely from public funds, but that it should not apply to the one-sixth. I cannot see any reason why this difference should be made. The hon. Member said that what he wants to bring about is that the public system of education shall be so good that parents will want to send their children only to schools in the public system and not to independent schools. We can all accept that but, if the President of the Board is to bring that about, is he to exclude one-sixth of the secondary schools from his plan and treat them differently from the others? They include schools with great reputations, which in the past have made very great contributions to our educational advance, and we want them to continue to play their part. At the root of this opposition to the abolition of fees in direct grant schools is really mistrust of local government control. As far as direct grant schools are concerned, I suppose it means also control by the Board of Education. For some reason it is imagined that, if the governors of the school can say, "We have a certain number of boys who pay fees," they will be in a stronger position to resist any encroachment on the part either of the Board of Education or the local authority. As a matter of fact, I do not think they would be. The amount they receive in grant is vital for their existence and, if there is any serious conflict, it seems to me that, unless agreement can be reached, the view of the Board would have to prevail. If public funds are given to any school, or any other institution, the Government or the local authority are quite within their powers in laying down the conditions. Therefore, I think it would be very much better if we could clear away all these suspicions between local authorities and the governors of schools and try to start on the basis that all parties are engaged in a common job and are much more likely to achieve that job if they co-operate. I, therefore, feel that I must support the Amendment. Otherwise I do not see how we can implement the principle that no child shall be deprived of the right to secondary education of the best type for financial reasons. It is very much better to start by bringing all the secondary schools as far as fees are concerned into the same category. There is a great deal of feeling already among some of the maintained schools that their fees should not be abolished before those of direct grant schools. We are told by the critics of the Amendment that we must prevent cleavages, but, in fact, fresh cleavages will be created. I believe it is in the interests of the purpose which the Bill has in mind that the Amendment should be accepted and the issue faced. If, under the Bill, we leave certain schools in an anomalous position, no one can say that that will be the final solution. The matter will be raised again and again, and, while we are doing the job, we had better make a good job of it.
I am glad the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has returned to his place. I was a little afraid that his performance had exhausted him. He began by twitting the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) for making an exhaustive speech, and then proceeded to make a speech of the same length. I should hesitate to award the palm to either, but I am extremely glad to find that the hon. Member far Aberavon has not wholly exhausted himself at any rate. I approach this Debate with a certain diffidence, because of the excessive importance which the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) appeared to attribute to the qualifications that I possess. He read out the names of various gentlemen and to those who have any educational experience at all, he attributed large numbers of very heavy guns, and to those who had not had any educational experience, he attributed the possession of no guns at all, or at best implied that they had nothing but peashooters. I was left almost under the impression that no one was entitled to speak except the hon. Member for Aberavon, the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), myself, the Under-Secretary and perhaps two or three others. But really it was very long ago discovered that the best judges of dishes are not the cooks but the diners, and it is a gross illusion to suppose that only schoolmasters know anything about education. It is still worse to suppose that only educational administrators know anything about it.
Does an ex-coal miner know anything about it?
I have not suggested that one sort of man knows more about it than another. What I have suggested is that the customer is always right. It is for the consumer to judge of these things and not for the producer to say, "I am producing the best education that could possibly be produced, and you jolly well take it." It is a serious weakness in argument, this assumption that persons whose names are known in connection either with education, or schoolmastering, or school management, are, necessarily, better judges of these matters than others. It was to that fallacy that I was trying to allude.There is another fallacy that has crept into this general argument. That is the fallacy that we are all agreed in wishing to diminish, so far as possible, the importance of class in human life. I do not think I have ever met anybody who would not pay lip service to that, and I do not think that I have met many people who did not honestly believe that the less class element there was in human life, the better. But it is a fallacy to assume that the class element is, necessarily, reduced when you reduce the number of classes, and particularly when the number is reduced to two. It is a great deal better to have a lot of classes than to have only two classes. If you could have what the hon. Gentleman calls an integrated national system of education, and if everybody's place in future life depended wholly upon his success in that system, you would get two classes, the successful and the unsuccessful. I do not think it would last for many years because the unsuccessful would get so sick of the successful that they would arise and kick them to bits.
I am very interested in these remarks, but I am not sure that they are relevant. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will relate them a little more to the Amendment.
I think, without a shadow of disrespect, that the Chair has perhaps not had the advantage of hearing the earlier speeches, for what I have said is strictly relevant to the arguments that have been used. The point I am trying to make is that, in general, it is impossible to aim at two classes and that in the educational world it is particularly true that the worst of all results would be to have two sorts of schools, and only two. Nor do I believe that in practice you could ever get down to having only one sort of school. I do not think that it can ever happen in that way. In Russia it has not happened, as I gather from—I think it was—the "Soviet War News" the other day, which told us that if a man won the Order of Suvarov, or the Order of Kutusov, his children could be sure of going to a secondary school for, I think, no fees or reduced fees. There is a good deal of experience that leads us to suppose that we cannot get down to having only one sort of school. I beg the Committee to consider the wisdom of avoiding trying to get down at all costs to exactly two sorts of school. I was struck with one thing that was said by an hon. Gentleman about the average fee in the schools we are discussing. He said it was 11 guineas per annum. An hon. Friend of mine, who is better at arithmetic than I am, worked it out that a family could pay that fee, if each parent reduced his or her consumption of cigarettes by one packet of 20 per week, so that the argument about parents buying places in school, as if it were profiteering and privilege mongering by people who had made enormous fortunes, is very much exaggerated.Of course, it is true, and nobody believes it more firmly than I do, that, quite apart from all questions of human kindness or anything of that sort, but from the purely economical point of view, it is desirable that every boy or girl should be educated so as to be able to do and to be doing the highest and most advanced sort of work which that particular human material was capable of. I wholly agree with that principle. Incidentally, I am a little surprised that other hon. Gentlemen who agree with that principle also think it right that, in order to save the administration from imputations of unfairness, boys should be directed for coal-mining without any regard being paid to their aptitude for that or for anything else. Where does this principle lead us to? It leads us to this: it should be the business of the local education authority to see that enough education of the sort wanted is provided. If it could be shown that the existence of these schools had in fact prevented the creation of other schools, I could have followed the argument of the hon. Member for Aberavon, but nobody has attempted to show that that is so. If a boy by going to one of these schools, keeps out a poorer boy, it can only be that the public authorities have not done as much in providing secondary education as they might have done, as they should have done, and as it was their duty to do. We had two strong arguments from the hon. Member for Aberavon in favour of the point I am putting. He said that as long as there was a school at which fees are allowed, that school would be generally regarded as the best school. To use that argument in favour of democracy is a little difficult. The hon. Gentleman will remember the occasion when someone asked Lenin whether the Russian Army had voted for something or other—peace, I think—he said that they had voted with their feet. If it is true, as is generally assumed, that wherever there is a school which collects fees that school is considered the best, that is a strong argument for the view that parents, who after all are the persons most concerned in these matters, and the general public prefer such schools and prefer fee paying; and an argument for the view that we ought not to assume that the whole of society is to be pushed and developed towards the situation in which no man can choose how to spend any of his money and in which everything necessary for him is provided free. The logic of the argument for forbidding fees really takes you to that view. Perhaps it is the right view; hon. Gentlemen opposite may hold that view, but it cannot be the view of the general body of the British public, because if it were the view of any considerable body of the public, it would not be difficult to get parity of esteem between non-fee-collecting schools and fee-collecting schools. There was another argument in the speech of the hon. Member for Aberavon to which I will refer. He said, contrary to what the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) has since assumed, that nobody would deny the immense service performed in the past, and still performed, by these schools, the hon. Member for Aberavon had just denied that with all the vehemence at his disposal, and almost his greatest charge against these schools was that they committed the crime of teaching Latin and Greek, and that it was nonsense to say that they were in any way a guarantee of variety.
I dissociated myself from the attack on the grammar schools.
It was not necessary to interrupt me to say that. It is not fair to say that we all admit the immense services of these schools, for the hon. Member for Aberavon denied it, largely on the ground that they taught the classics. There will be serious risk if all schools are wholly dependent on public money or so largely dependent as to be wholly at the public disposal, serious risk that one generation may exaggerate this fashion or that, and leave it riveted on the neck of the next generation. Our generation might exaggerate the importance of the natural sciences, or another might exaggerate something different. It is perfectly clear and undeniable that these schools have performed immense services, and that one is that they are likely to resist fashions more than other schools. That is a fair argument in favour of them, and the denial that they are a guarantee of variety is not an argument to which the Committee should pay attention.
I want to bring the Committee to the reality of this Amendment. I agree with what the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) said and with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said, although I cannot come to the same conclusions. I happened to be among the majority of the Fleming Committee, but I will not now try to defend our attitude towards the question of fees. I do not think the Committee realises that, whether we abolish fees or not, or whether we allow a system of free places, it makes very little difference. We are told that all post-primary education is to be called secondary and that it will be divided into grammar school type, modern school type and technical school type. The question whether a child shall go to a grammar school, to a modern school or to a technical school must eventually be settled by some form of examination, whether a written examination or a record in school. If we abolish fees in the schools, as is contemplated here, we can only take people in by examination, because a school can take only a certain number of pupils. If, on the other hand, we give free places only, there will still be an examination to find out who is entitled to them, but with this difference: the examination in schools where fees are abolished will be held largely by the school authority, but the examination for free places will be in the form of outside bursaries given by the local education authority, and it will largely be an outside examination. Actually in the end there will be little difference whether we abolish fees or have 100 per cent. free places, except that the examination and the method of choosing boys and girls to go into this type of school is much more satisfactory if we do away with fees altogether.
The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), in an aside, invited the Minister to explain clearly what he intended should be done in regard to assisted schools, since the Bill as it stands makes it clear that if any local education authority desires to assist fee paying schools, it can do so, subject to the approval of the Minister. The Minister is empowered in Clause 9 to approve an arrangement in which an assisted school shall be able to charge fees. If that is so, I do not understand a remark of the Parliamentary Secretary that it is the administrative intention that no assisted school should be allowed to charge fees.
I am not quite sure what the hon. Member's reference is. Could he be a little more particular?
It appears in HANSARD, I think in the report of the Debate on Thursday last, although I have not got it with me. On the merits of this question, I broadly agree with the view expressed by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay) that the schools who charge a quite small fee perform a very valuable function and provide a link between the independent schools and the secondary schools which charge nothing at all. If we are to have a clear-cut division between the boarding schools and relatively large-fee charging schools on the one hand, and the completely free schools on the other, I am afraid we shall make a class cleavage far wider than there is at present. The small fee-charging schools bring together different classes of the community in a very happy relationship. We have them in Cumberland, where they provide a most delightful form of social education to all classes of the community, and I should be extremely sorry if they were prevented from carrying on the good work they have hitherto done.I suggest to the framers of the Amendment that it is premature. I believe that, in good time, what they want will happen, but it will come about by natural evolution. To try to impose it now on our system is premature. When the reorganisation is accomplished, when our senior schools are well established and the school leaving age is up to 16, we shall have the sort of foundation on which a completely free system is possible. We shall, I hope, have attained that excellence in the public system of education which will kill the demand for the fee-paying school, but until we have reached that stage it will be extremely wrong to cut off the present small fee-paying schools and so create an immense chasm between the wealthier schools and the free schools. If the Amendment were worded so as to come into effect on a date hereafter to be decided by both Houses of Parliament, I should agree with it, but I shall vote against it in the form which it now takes.
You have, on occasion, admonished Members of the Committee, Mr. Williams, for going wide of an Amendment. I am bound to say that I have known few Bills on which so many Second Reading speeches have been made during the Committee stage as this. I will try to confine what I have to say to the essential part of the discussion which, as I understand it, covers two Amendments, one moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) and the other, which is rather wider, that in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove). It is now laid down in the Bill that no fees shall be charged in respect of admission to any school maintained by the local authority, and the point at issue is whether that principle ought to be more widely extended. It was argued in the Committee last week that our human quality at the end of the war is perhaps the thing that matters most, and that we have to do whatever we can for its development. It is clear that if democracy carries any meaning in men's minds, it must mean the abolition of class distinction. The Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) talked about diminishing the importance of the class element in human life; I should say that it should be an ambition of all good democrats, not merely to diminish but to abolish it. He spoke about two classes. Let me remind him that a very distinguished statesman and leader of the Conservative Party realised that there were two nations in this country. 1n fact, we have two classes. My hon. Friend came down to saying that if we had two sorts of school that would be terrible, but nothing would be more deplorable for the development of the capacity and personality of our people than to try to standardise the types of school of this country. The greater the variety, the better. In the past we have had too few types of school.In my childhood days the choice was either the grammar or public school, or the board school, and most of us went to the board school. It is undoubtedly true that, since Mr. Balfour's Act of 1902—one of the greatest Education Acts ever put in the Statute Book—made it possible for local authorities to widen their vision and develop different types of school for different sorts of pupil, technical education has taken on a human value much higher than it had in the early days. I cannot easily distinguish between a classical education, a modern education and a technical education. If people have the zeal for knowledge, it does not much matter where they start, so long as they go on. We have these various types of school now and hon. Members argue in their favour, with which I heartily agree, but that does not touch the major question of whether certain types of school should be allowed to continue and to charge fees. The term "free education" has been used often. I remember that when the Minister of Health spoke on the White Paper on Public Health, he pointed out that there could not be any free health service, because somebody had to pay for it somehow. The real question at issue is not whether resources are to be provided for the maintenance of all our varied types of institutions, but how that financial help is to be accorded to them. In our maintained schools, there are to be no fees, which means that all of us in the community are making our appropriate contributions to the cost; but there are different types of school which have played a great part in the development of our educational system, and I pay my tribute to them. They will be permitted to continue to charge fees, although they may be in receipt of grants from the State. I would much prefer to see State assistance granted on a more generous scale than to have this individual collection of fees from the parents of the children who are lucky enough to be able to go to those schools. I have not tried to be troublesome about the Bill. I have done my best to help my right hon. Friend, even when I went into the Lobby against him, as I may have to do to-day. I am sure he will admit that I have not been obstructionist and that I have not raised false issues on the Bill. But I look upon it as a matter of vital principle, especially in a country which is fighting for democracy and all that it means, that any kind of class distinction is a barrier to the fulfilment of the objects of democracy. Yet with this priceless service of education which means so much to our people and which has been denied in its fulness to so many people, it comes to the fact that if you have chosen your parents with wisdom you can go to a certain kind of school. There is no doubt—and I do not like to use harsh terms—that there is still a good deal of social snobbery in this country. I was never at Eton or Harrow myself. That was perhaps my misfortune or it might have been my good fortune. I do not know, but it is undoubtedly a fact that this element of social snobbery still exists. If we are to have fee-paying schools we must take it as certain that the struggling parent will believe that his child will have a better chance in life by going to a school which is fee-charging. That is bound to be so. I have nothing against the old school foundations; I think they have played a great part in the development of our education system. I think that the local education authorities have learned much from their experiences. I think that many of the endowed schools—I will mention one in particular, the Manchester Grammar School—have played a very great part in the development of our conceptions of education and school training. But I should have thought that in this year of grace, 1944, now that we are making handsome provision—perhaps not as handsome as it ought to be, but substantial provision—for all types of schools, we ought to banish that social distion which has obtained in the past. We ought to do one of the simplest things, because this will not be a very heavy financial commitment to abolish the system of fees, which is bound to be a bar against certain types of children or young people getting into the type of school they would desire, because of the poverty of their parents. I hope that the Committee will remonstrate with my right hon. Friend and get him to take a broader view of his responsibilities. I must inform the Committee—I have played fair with the Committee ever since we started the Committee stage—that I must ask those who agree with me to go into the Lobby with me on the Amendment.
I am sure that no one could complain of the tone or temper of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. This question of the abolition of fees was much discussed in the Debates on the 1918 Bill, and Parliament then decided that elementary education should be free. We are now faced with the new proposals of this Bill, namely, that there shall be a form of secondary education for all. This is to be made up of a variety of choices which we have so often discussed, modern or technical or grammar, or perhaps a combination of more than one type in one building. A very large portion of these would in any case, in law, be free, namely, the whole of the modern schools which come on from what was, in the old days, called the elementary system. That means that a large amount of the secondary world we are planning in this Bill would, in any case, have been free. When we were considering the principles which would govern the new secondary world we decided in framing this Measure that children should receive whatever type of education would suit them best, and that the children should be able to transfer from one type to another. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance, to use the words of the Spens Report, which was quoted by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) that there should be "an equivalence between the types," or "parity of esteem" to use their exact words. Therefore, we had to decide whether to reimpose fees on the vast range of the modem schools, or free the whole of the secondary range of education coming within the purview of the local authority. We decided, after due consideration, to take the latter course, with the result that we are now following up the advance made in 1918 by what is, as I shall show the Committee, a considerable advance.Some doubt has been raised by what is meant by "schools maintained by the local authorities." This point was raised by the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) and the hon. Member for Aberavon. What we mean, in fact, to put it in simple non-legal language is that the education in all county and auxiliary schools maintained by the local authority shall be free, that is a very large proportion of the secondary world. In fact, looking at the figures it seems to me that all but a very small proportion of the children entering this secondary world will have an opportunity of free education. That enables us to narrow the issue between us to one of comparatively small dimensions. [Interruption.] The percentage able to charge fees is only 4 per cent. The Amendment suggests that fees should be abolished in all schools "maintained or assisted." That is the Amendment in which the hon. Member for Aberavon is interested. I think that probably he does not intend his Amendment to be quite as broad as that, and that we can narrow the issue to one which I think is in the minds of those hon. Members opposite, namely the abolition of fees in all schools which receive an actual grant in aid from public funds. That would cover the hon. Member's speech and also that of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), who moved this Amendment. If that is the issue, then we can consider, quite calmly and dispassionately, whether fees should be abolished in direct grant schools. Here I would like as Minister of Education or potential Minister of Education to endorse the views of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is largely due to him that I am no longer to be "President of the Board." I cannot accept the philosophy of schooling put forward by the hon. Member for Aberavon. I cannot accept the view that a mere learning of the classics implies something which is socially disastrous. I must accept the view of my right hon. Friend, put from that Box, that education means the self-fulfilment of the individual. If the individual mind can be better trained by study of the classics for the service of democracy, I would not like to exclude them, any more than I would like to exclude any others. I hope, therefore, that we can dismiss these aspects of grammar-school education from our Debates. There is, after all, nothing more democratic than Athenian democracy. That is where most of us began to get the free democratic ideas which are put in this Bill. Hon. Members have put forward arguments in favour of the course that all secondary education, including that in direct grant schools, should be free. It has been mentioned that the school is a social unit and that it is impossible to get democracy, unless we have a complete sweeping away of the fees in these secondary schools. My answer is that education cannot, by itself, create the social structure of a country. It can very considerably influence it and I believe the fact that we have got priority for this great Bill wilt very much influence the world in which we hope to live in the future. But I have to take the world as I find it, and the economic arguments to which hon. Members opposite may apply their minds on other occasions, including the philosophy of the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker), who has taken so important a part in this Bill, affect the structure of our society and our democracy even more than do the poor efforts of a Minister of Education. I have to apply myself to the world as I find it and the world I find is one in which there is a very diversified range of types. One of the fundamental principles on which this Bill has been built is that there shall be a variety of types of schools. One of the varieties which I think is quite legitimate is that there shall be schools in which it is possible for parents to contribute towards the education of their children. The only difference between us really is this, that while we in framing this Bill have taken an immense step forward on the Measure of 1918 and freed the vast range of secondary education, all we say is that, consistent with our philosophy, there should be a few schools—there are very few—in which it should be possible for parents to contribute to the cost of the education of their children, just as they are able to contribute to various other laudable objects in their lives. Therefore, I believe we have just as much moral argument in this case as the right hon. Gentleman has in putting his case on the other side. It is a balance between two ways of looking at the matter and deciding which is the right angle. Let me examine the principle I have enunciated, that it is not immoral for parents to contribute towards the cost of the education of their children. It would be an immoral thing, in my view, if a parent were to purchase a place in a school to the exclusion of someone who would make a potentially better citizen. I think I can show the Committee that we are united on that. If a rich individual were able to put his son, a dolt, into one of our best grammar schools, even though he had to learn Greek and Latin, and that dolt proved unable to profit by that education, I maintain that he would, under our new philosophy of education, be taking the place of someone who could profit better by it. I propose to show how we can deal with that difficulty. I must agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) that it is essential in the world of the future that we should be able to bring out to the top all the best brains, talents and characters of the country. If this Education Bill is to mean anything, it must mean that it is a forcing-house through which we can produce the very best to serve our country in many different walks of life. That is the principle on which we are working. After all, the great argument for freeing the range of secondary education to which I have referred, and which covers the vast majority of the picture, was that in many of our smaller secondary schools to-day it is possible for a parent to buy a place—far below the cost of the education offered, which is a point very seldom realised—to the exclusion of a more suitable pupil. In this Bill, that particular danger, if it be a danger, is narrowed because we are dealing here only with the possibility of paying fees in the direct-grant schools. But we propose, even here, as I said in my Second Reading speech, that there should be special arrangements for dealing with the direct-grant school. We propose that' authorities should be able to secure the places in them which they need for a number of children to supplement the provision in the county and auxiliary schools. Thus we shall expect the local authority to assess its needs and tell the Governors what places it requires. The local authority can pay the fees of any pupils in these other schools whether they are in or outside the area, because one difference is that such schools often serve more than one individual area. We come up against another problem. The needs of the local education authoities will, normally, be met by the vast majority of the county secondary provision its schools provide. The Committee must be under no impression that there is a great shortage of grammer-school places. In some areas they have quite enough to fit in the number of pupils they have. In others, you may get another problem. You may find that direct-grant schools, in some areas, provide the main secondary provision. In that case you would be up against a very definite problem. It may well be that, in those areas, we shall have to consider the reconstitution of the direct grant list as a whole. We shall either have to adopt a system whereby an authority obtains in a suitable manner the places it wants in the schools or the schools in a particular area are, in part or whole, formally transferred to the aided or controlled list. I have said that we shall have to revise the direct grant list. I anticipate there will be a two-way traffic, that is to say that some schools will be very much taken by the advantage of the aided list. And why? Because in the aided list it will be possible for them to have their running costs paid including the costs of their teachers' salaries as well as half the cost of any alterations. I do not put it past the vision of some of our great denominations to see the advantage of aided status. Other schools such as have been referred to earlier in the Debate will feel that they want to transfer to the direct-grant list. I want to make it quite clear that we do not intend that schools shall slip out of the maintained list, under Clause 9, simply in order to become assisted and to be able to charge fees. I can give that definite assurance. Discretion in deciding that will be in the hands of the Minister. Similarly, I propose that there shall be a discretion in the hands of the Minister on the question of what schools pass over from the aided list to the direct-grant list. It seems to me that the Government will have to be satisfied that the school itself is in a suitable financial position. It is no good schools thinking that they can come on the list and get a direct grant from public funds, if they are not themselves in a healthy financial position. It will be necessary for us to see the extent to which a school serves an area outside its own area. That is an important feature of the direct grant list. Here I must listen to the final view of the Fleming Committee. The Fleming Committee have to consider this question together with that of the public schools. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), who made so thoughtful a speech on this matter and who referred with such wisdom to the need for levelling-up the whole of our educational system, said that he thought the Government might have been at some slight fault in their handling of the interim reference to the Fleming Committee. I do not regret the reference of this matter to the Committee at all. I think it has cleared up a good deal of misunderstanding. It has meant that the question of fees has been rather cleared out of their way, and that they will be able to present me with what I hope will be a unanimous report on the main questions concerning the secondary world. What is interesting in the Report—a matter to which the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) also referred—is that they are in agreement about certain definite needs. One is the need for preserving a reasonable independence for schools. The second is the principle that schools of different types shall be accessible to the best types of pupils in the country. That, the Government feel, is part of their philosophy. The fact that the Government have not been able to accept all the recommendations in the interim report of the Committee does not mean that we shall not be able to accept their final report. We shall welcome their advice on the best method of achieving the desired aims. One thing of which I am sure is that the secondary world as a whole must be treated as one and indivisible, and that independence does not depend solely on the retention or the abolition of fees. If this Debate is to do good, we must try to put the question of fees in its proper perspective, not as something for elevating the social status of the schools, and not, as some headmasters think, something on which the independence of the schools depends. It seems to me that the independence of the schools depends upon the articles of government on which I have promised to negotiate and to report again to the Committee. I feel sure that different types, different localities, different pupils, and different parents will find different qualities in the variety of secondary schools which this Bill suggests. I cannot but think however that the aided type will be found to be of great advantage, just as I think that considerable convenience will be found in enabling some schools to get their grant direct from the Board, particularly when they are largely of a non-local character. The important thing, it seems to me, is that we should not have differences of opinion simply on the question of whether a parent may pay for his child or not, but rather that we should be agreed on the main principles, which I have to work out with the Committee. Those are, that different types of schools shall be accessible to all types of scholars, and that schools shall have reasonably independent lives of their own. If we can agree on those fundamentals, the question of fees does not assume that political and social importance which hon. Members opposite attach to it. When they see the availability and accessibility of the different types of secondary schools which the Government achieve, they will not, I think, believe that this question of whether someone is able to contribute has the importance that they now think it has. Then we shall have, as the philosophy of our educational system, the democracy of outlook which the Government desire.
I have an Amendment down in connection with this matter. I would like, before coming to that part of the Minister's speech in which he torpedoed his own case, to say that, while the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) was speaking, a Member on this side handed me what I consider to be a very apt description of the Senior Burgess. I will not read it, however, as I should have to make an immediate withdrawal. I would only suggest, in passing, that there is no relevance in referring, on this Amendment, to conditions in the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union there is no landed aristocracy such as there is here, and there is no monopoly capitalism such as we have here. The landed aristocracy and the monopoly capitalists in this country set social standards. Success is measured here by how near you get to the landed aristocracy, and how near you get to the big millionaires. The Members of this Committee who went to grammar schools and public schools know that they are very much superior to the rest of us. The social standard is determined by the landed aristocracy and the big monopoly capitalists.
The hon. Member is speaking to his own Amendment. I must ask him to keep closer to the Amendment which is under discussion.
Very well, I come to the question of the assisted schools. Many of these grammar schools will be assisted schools. What determines the character of the assisted schools, or grammar schools? Are they a step towards the recognised social standards set by the landed aristocracy and the big monopoly capitalists? Is that the attraction? I say that it is. The Minister said that it is not immoral for a parent to pay a certain proportion of fees for his child, but that it is immoral if a parent pays fees to get his child into a place in a school that could be occupied by a better type of student. There is scarcely a parent who sends his children to these grammar schools, or to the public schools, who does not hope, by so doing, to get his children into positions that could be better filled by more capable children, who have not been to these schools. In my home town, for instance, there is a grammar school. One can see there what chance the clever scholar from an ordinary council school has against the child from the grammar school. No parent sends his children to the grammar school without the thought in his mind that the child will advance socially, by the recognised standards of what is social advancement in this country. You will find that the one thing common to these children is the idea that they are all a little bit, or it may be a big bit, superior to the working-class children around them. Is there anyone who denies that? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I will take hon. Members to these schools, and show them the attitude of the children there to the children of the ordinary schools. It is not because they are being better educated: it is because they are getting this idea that, somehow, they will get a better chance of crawling into the superior circles of high society.I could give case after case of young lads and women who, since the war started, have come out of the ordinary schools and have gone into the Army, the Navy, the W.R.N.S., or some other Service, and in examinations have come out far ahead of the products of the grammar schools and public schools. It is not a question of education: it is a question of social status. It is a question, as has been stated from this side, of the class distinction that cuts its way right down, and seeks continually to corrupt and destroy some of the finest elements of the working class. I know that the spirit of this Bill, once it penetrates throughout this country and becomes the recognised standard of education for the people of this country, will make the fee-paying schools go. I would say to the Minister that he should accept this Amendment in connection with assisted schools. No school under the local authority or receiving public assistance should, in any circumstances, charge fees.
I beg to move, in page 45, line 43, after "maintained," to insert "or assisted."This is not a narrow Amendment, but one which raises an issue of principle. I think it is the desire on this side of the Committee that we should go into the Division Lobby and register our opinion on it. I do not want to prolong the Debate on this issue by replying to what the Minister has said, but I hope that my hon. Friends will rally round us in favour of having free education at assisted schools in this country.
I think it is right that one should intervene on this, Sir Lambert, because it is really the main Amendment—
On a point of Order. I understood from the Chair quite clearly that the whole discussion was to be taken on these Amendments together. The Committee really must know where it is. I understood that the hon. Member would
Division No. 10.]
|Barnes, A. J.||Grenfell, D. R.||Mort, D. L.|
|Barr, J.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Barslow, P. G.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Gruffydd, W. J.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Benson, G.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.)||Parker, J.|
|Bevan, A. (Ebbw Vale)||Guy, W. H.||Pearson, A.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hail, W. G. (Coins Valley)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hardie, Agnes||Price, M. P.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ritson, J.|
|Burden, T. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Shinwell, E.|
|Cape, T.||Horabin, T. L.||Silkin, L.|
|Chater, D.||Hubbard, T. F.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hughes, R. Moelwyn||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Cooks, F. S.||Isaacs, G. A.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Taylor, R, J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Kendall, W. D.||Thomas, I. (Keighley)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, D.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, H. M. (Skipton)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lawson, J. J. (Chester-le-Street)||Viant, S. P.|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Leslie, J. R.||Walker, J.|
|Dunn, E.||Lipson, D. L.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McEntee, V. La T.||White, H. (Derby, N.E.)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mack, J. D.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||McNeil, H.||Windsor, W.|
|Foster, W||Mainwaring, W. H.||Woodburn, A.|
|Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Messer, F.|
|Glanville, J. E.||Montague, F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Beaumont, Major Hn. R. E. B. (P't'th)||Bower, Norman (Harrow)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Beechman, N. A.||Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)|
|Agnew, Comdr. P. G.||Beech, Major F. W.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. J. G. (H'dern's)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Belt, Sir A. L.||Broadbridge, Sir G. T.|
|Apsley, Lady||Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.|
|Aske, Sir R W.||Blair, Sir R.||Brooke, H. (Lewisham)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bossom, A C.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)|
|Beattie, F. (Cathcart)||Boulton, W. W.||Bull, B. B.|
be able to put his Amendment and that we should be able to vote on it. I do not want to curtail discussion, or avoid a vote, because I am quite confident of the result, but I must put myself before the Committee. I deliberately took the course, with the agreement of the Chair, of postponing Clause 59 so that we could have a full discussion. We have had a good discussion, but we still have a good deal more work to do if we are to make some progress with the Bill. If the Committee wants to continue the discussion, it is a matter for you, Sir Lambert, but I suggest that any further discussion should be short and that we should make progress with the Bill.
In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I do not propose to say anything more.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 95; Noes, 183.
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Hopkinson, A.||Ross Taylor, W.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Rowlands, G.|
|Campbell, Dermot (Antrim)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)||James, Wing-Com. A. (Well borough)||Salt, E. W.|
|Cary, R. A.||Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D.||Savory, Professor D. L.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Jewson, P. W.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Channon, H.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hon. L. W.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Christie, J. A.||Keatinge, Major E. M.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Keeling, E. H.||Shephard, S.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Simmonds, Sir O. E.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lancaster, Lieut.-Col. C. G.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Leach, W.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Levy, T.||Storey, S.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lindsay, K. M.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Linstead, H. N.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Suirdale, Viscount|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Ladywood)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Denville, Alfred||Loftut, P. C.||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.|
|Doland, G. F.||Longhurst, Captain H. C.||Tate, Mrs. Mavis C.|
|Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||McCallum, Major D.||Thome, W.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||McKie, J. H.||Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)|
|Ede, J. C.||Magnay, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Maitland, Sir A.||Touche, G. C.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.||Tufnell, Lieut-Comdr. R. L.|
|Etherton, Ralph||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.||Mitchell, Colonel H. P.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)||Molson, A. H. E.||Watt, Brig. G. S. Harvie (Richmond)|
|Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Universities)||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Gates, Major E. E.||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'b'ke)||Murray, Sir D. K. (Midlothian, N.)||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Gibson, Sir C. G.||Neven-Spenca, Major B. H. H.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gledhill, G.||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Nield, Lt.-Col. B. E.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wing-Commander R.||Nunn, W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)|
|Greenwell, Colonel T. G.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Gretton, J. F.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Woolley, Major W. E.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Petherick, M.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Wright, Mrs. Beatrice F. (Bodmin)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||York, Major C.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Harvey, T. E.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Rankin, Sir R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Hepburn, Major P. G. T. Buchan||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Mr. Pym and Mr. Drewe.|
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 72—(Inspection Of Educational Establishments)
I beg to move, in page 54, line 5, to leave out from "syllabus," to the end of line 8.In moving this Amendment, I am anxious to ascertain what exactly was in the Government's mind in introducing these words, which are new to our educational law, but which will, in fact, upset arrangements that are at present working happily in many parts of the country. It is because it strikes me as such a mistake for Parliament heavy-handedly to interfere with local concordats which have been reached between the local education authorities, the teachers and all the churches, that I am particularly anxious that the Government should look at these words again. I have already submitted to the Minister a large amount of evidence showing that these arrangements are working, and working satisfactorily, by mutual agreement, and I have more of that evidence here in my hand. Local education authorities have made arrangements by which Free Church ministers and Church of England clergy are authorised jointly to inspect the religious instruction given in what are now council schools and will, in the future, be county schools. That is working with the complete co-operation of all concerned, and, in those areas, the teachers have accepted the plan as a means whereby they can obtain genuine assistance from people of different denominations who ought to be, if they are anything, competent to give such advice. The local education authorities authorise the plan, which cannot be carried out unless the local education authorities approve of it, but, if the words remain in the Bill all these arrangements will be brought to an end in law. It will also, as the Minister will realise, render it illegal for Church of England clergy even to inspect religious instruction based on the agreed syllabus where the agreed syllabus is in use in an aided school, whereas I should have thought it had been one of the happy developments of recent years that, in those county areas where the agreed syllabus has been adopted, a considerable number of Church schools have been using it as the basis for part of the religious instruction. That excellent plan will be upset if this Clause goes through unchanged. It is on those grounds that I hope very much that the Minister will look at the Clause again, because the purpose of the Amendment is to do nothing whatever except permit people in different areas of the country to continue, by agreement, plans such as those which are at present working.
I should very much like my right hon. Friend to give sympathetic consideration to this Amendment because it seems to me that the words at present in the Clause run contrary to the whole spirit of the Bill. They seem to assume that relations between the different religious denominations are so bad, that an Anglican will feel that the Anglicism of his child is in peril if he is taught an undenominational syllabus by a Nonconformist, and vice versa. I do not think the Board of Education are fully aware of the very good relationship which exists generally between the denominations. The words in this Clause do their level best to go against it. Much more could be said on the subject, but I do not wish to waste the time of the Committee. I should like to say, finally, that religious instruction is an experts' subject, and it seems sheer folly to throw away the services of experts in the teaching of a subject which needs the knowledge of experts. I hope my right hon. Friend will give consideration to the Amendment.
I hope that the Minister will be able to accept this Amendment. I have very little to add to what has already been said by the mover of it. So far from being a denominational issue, it is a case in which co-operation between the denominations actually exists at the present moment, and it seems to me that it would be most unfortunate if the opportunity for that cooperation were taken away by the words remaining in the Bill.
At the moment, religious instruction in a school may not be inspected by His Majesty's Inspector of Schools. He is prevented from doing that by Clause 27 (1, c) of the Education Act, 1921, which goes back to the Act of 1870. When the Church, in conjunction with the Free Churches, formulated their five points, one of them was a request that religious instruction in the school, especially on the agreed syllabus, should be open to inspection by His Majesty's inspector. We have not, therefore, in this Bill repeated the prohibition on inspection of undenominational religious instruction by His 'Majesty's inspectors. When the representatives of the National Society came to see my right hon. Friend with regard to the future of religious instruction in the schools, a very distinguished cleric, a dean of one of the cathedrals, whose arguments are perhaps distinguished more by their thickness than their subtlety, hinted, what I knew myself, that there was great resentment among teachers at having their professional work as teachers inspected by the members of another profession.May I say that, after all, the best preacher is not by any means the best teacher. Preaching and teaching are two very different means of instruction. I think it is desirable that teaching work should be inspected by those who are capable of assessing teaching. This is really one of the most difficult subjects of all to inspect. The best boy I ever had in religious instruction lessons was one who, when we collected flowers for the East End hospitals, robbed the churchyard of every flower he could find. Religious instruction, after all, will be shown in the tone and life of the school and in the life of the pupils both in school and afterwards, and, whereas it is comparatively reasonable to inspect and assess the work in mathematics and similar subjects in the school, it is very difficult to inspect and assess the real value of religious instruction. From a hint dropped to us by the National Society we framed this Clause. I do not take the same view as my hon. Friend the Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke) does about its effect on syllabus teaching in denominational schools, because the agreed syllabus teaching in auxiliary schools and in the aided and controlled schools will be given with a Church of England bias to children whose parents hold the faith of the Church of England. I think that is shown by the introduction which the Bishop of Guildford authorised to be inserted in the diocese of Guildford religious syllabus, in Part II of which he inporporated the agreed syllabus of the Surrey Education Committee. In that introduction he says:
that is, the first portion. It is quite clear, therefore, that it will not be an agreed syllabus in the way defined in the Bill where no doctrine or formula distinctive of a particular denomination may be used. Therefore, the Church will still retain the right to inspect the syllabus instruction given in the aided schools and given to the children who elect to have Church of England teaching in the controlled schools. This Clause was drafted, as I have shown, in consultation not merely with the Archbishops, but with the representatives of the National Society, and I hope that my hon. Friend will feel that the explanation I have given will be such as to enable him to know that what he desires to do can be done under it. But if there should remain any doubt, my right hon. Friend has asked me to say that he will be quite willing to see the hon. Member with a view to seeing whether any difficulty remaining can be removed."These two parts, therefore, though they appear to be distinct and to deal with the separate subjects of the Bible and the Church, form in reality a unity and should be treated and taught as such. In dealing with the fundamental teaching of the Church as expressed in the Creeds, use has been made as far as possible of the Biblical material in Part II. At the same time, the sections on Christian life and worship in Part II should be taught in conjunction with and as part of the appropriate sections of this portion"—
I would ask the Committee to consider the very great feeling among teachers as to the possibility of this Amendment being accepted. They feel, quite rightly, I think, that inspection with regard to agreed syllabus teaching should not be done by clergymen, and the Parliamentary Secretary has said that there is a very great difference between teaching and preaching. I sincerely hope that this Amendment will not be accepted and I emphasise that this Clause relates merely to agreed syllabus teaching, and not to denominational teaching.
I am very grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for the assurance he has given about the effect of this Clause as it stands on instruction in aided and controlled schools, but I am afraid that I am not wholly satisfied with what he said about the future in county schools; and with regard to what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Darwen (Captain Prescott) has just said, I would like to point out to him that, in fact, these plans are working with the full co-operation of the teachers in many areas of the country. It is because, as I have said, it seems a pity for this House to step in and bring to an end the mutual co-operation already existing, that I moved the Amendment. In the circumstances, I would like to take advantage of the suggestion which the Parliamentary Secretary has made that I should be allowed to approach him or my right hon. Friend before the next stage of the Bill to see whether any further arguments that I can use can suggest to him a way in which the general purpose of the Clause can be achieved, that is, to get the best inspection possible by fully qualified people, without compulsorily cutting out existing arrangements that are working to everybody's satisfaction at the moment. With that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
I hope the discussions which my hon. Friend will have with my right hon. Friend will be on the basis that there is to be no interference with what is going on now, which meets with the full acceptance of the teachers and of the religious authorities. We are not seeking to extend it against the wishes of the teachers, if what is going on now is accepted by them.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
I wish to remind the Committee that the Clause with which we are dealing concerns something far wider than the inspection of religious instruction. It is, in fact, the general Clause dealing with inspection of all schools. It deals with the power of the Ministry to inspect schools, the power of the education authorities to inspect schools within their purview, and the power to inspect schools which may desire to be inspected. I need not remind the Committee—attention has been directed to it many times—that the definition Clause includes all types of schools, independent schools, those that do not come within any regulation or control of any kind, and schools operating completely independently.They can, within the purview of the Clause, be inspected, and that includes preparatory schools of all types. Many preparatory schools are very efficiently run, but there are plenty of others which are merely money-making machines and exist for the purpose of trying to make as much profit out of the snob value of the school outside the State system as can be made. It also includes schools which may desire to be examined. Schools or educational establishments of the type that exist for training people for different professions which survive on the basis of seductive advertisements in all sections of the national Press come within the meaning of educational establishments, if they are prepared to ask for the right to be inspected. They are only too glad to be able to say on the advertisement, "Inspected by the Board of Education." It gives them an additional cachet. In both these cases the inspection should be made effective, and one which goes to the whole root and substance of the institution which is being inspected. Inspection is directed to the method of teaching, the way the classes are run, standard of instruction given, and to those who give the instruction, but there is one thing which is really fundamental in seeing whether it is a school or an educational establishment of a sufficiently high standard to receive the imprimatur of "Inspected by the Board of Education," and that is, to see what are the finances of the school. Is it run financially? Is it an honest effort to provide, at reasonable cost, education for the young or instruction for those who want to qualify for different occupations? Is it of that kind, or is it, to employ a term which hon. Members will understand, although I think it is very difficult to define it exactly, a racket? In order to do that there should be power in the Ministry to look into the financial stability of the school or educational establishment. We should be given an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that he is satisfied that the powers contained in this Clause are sufficient to enable that aspect of the instruction to be inspected or, if not, that steps will be taken at a later stage to see that the gap is filled.
I hope that the Minister will not accept the arguments advanced by the hon. and learned Member. Everyone must know that to inspect the accounts and the financial stability of an establishment is a totally different thing from inspecting an institution from the point of view of whether it gives good education or not. Many of His Majesty's inspectors of schools, who are most admirable people, giving light and guidance, apart from instruction in education, are utterly unfitted to cope with accountancy questions which arise in connection with a school. Every such school has to render accounts to the Income Tax people for the purposes of Income Tax, and, in view of the corn-petition that exists among them, the only chance that a preparatory school has to-day of being successful financially is, that it gives good service to the people who go to it. Nothing is more difficult to run to-day than a successful preparatory school. The idea that you should divert His Majesty's inspectors of schools from their true occupation of helping, by their inspection, the educational standards of this country and turn them into accountants, is one which, I hope, will not commend itself to this Committee.
The Amendment which was put down in the name of my hon. and learned Friend would have been unnecessary in any event, for we have ample powers to inspect the financies of schools, and, in fact, we now do it. I have myself read comments by His Majesty's inspectors on the financial arrangements of some of the schools which we now inspect, and where it is relevant to the efficiency of the school, it is a course which is always adopted. I imagine that not in every case do we rely on the word of His Majesty's inspectors, who have, on occasion, been quite distinguished literary gentlemen—one was Matthew Arnold, and one wrote the famous ballad "Father O'Flynn." We rely rather on the financial inspection of the Board when we want to examine the accounts, and we can rest assured that any examination of accounts will be done by skilled people capable of forming the right conclusion on the matter.
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
Clause 73—(Provision Of Certain Ancillary Services For Pupils Not In Attendance At Schools Maintained By Local Education Authorities)
I beg to move, in page 54, line 43, to leave out paragraph (a).It would probably be to the advantage of the Committee if we took this and the next two Amendments on the Order Paper together, as they are bound up with one another. The purpose of these Amendments is to make arrangements whereby the proprietor of any non-maintained school can secure the benefits of medical inspection and treatment and thus ensure that the young people of the nation shall get the advantage of the school medical service; and arrangements are also made for the way in which the refunding of the cost can be made to the local education authority.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary explain why it is proposed to amend the Clause by leaving out this paragraph when the putting in of something else later on might do very much the same thing?
I was assured that it was better drafting to do it the way we propose.
The hon. Member did not mention that fact and that is why I asked the question.
The question of better drafting brings me to my feet. As the Clause stands, there is a general provision that the local education authority may give (a) medical inspection, (b) milk and meals and (c) clothing, to schools that are not maintained by the local education authority. It is now desired, according to the Amendment, to extend this to a further range of institutions. It is now desired to extend medical inspection and treatment to include schools or other educational establishments. As a matter of pure drafting it would be far better to provide that (a), (b) and (c) should go to schools, and then to provide for the further educational establishments, than by adopting this elaborate way of excluding paragraph (a) and then, in the third Amendment of which the Parliamentary Secretary spoke, repeating all the words and conditions under which (a), (b) and (c) could be given. It is a most clumsy way of achieving a simple end.
Having got the elucidation that this is only a question of drafting, I would like to proceed to the actual substitution. Would the Parliamentary Secretary say what steps, if any, the Board proposes to take to see that some of the elementary schools unfortunate enough to be outside the system get the benefit of medical inspection and treatment? There is no doubt that some of the small private schools badly need the medical inspection and treatment which they do not get at the present time. Public schools which do not have a medical inspection and treatment at the present time also badly need it. What steps do the Board intend to take to secure that the system is more generous, because it would be very much to the benefit of the pupils concerned?
My hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) will recall that in this Bill we have, for the first time, the power to inspect the kind of schools he mentioned. If we found that a school was being used, as it sometimes is, in order to object to such things as medical inspection and treatment—I am now talking of some of the worst types of private schools—that might be one of the items on which a report would be made by the Board. We should expect that proprietor of the school, within the limit of six months allowed after the inspection, to make such arrangements as were necessary in order to secure the benefits of medical inspection for the pupils attending his school. Similarly, if meals were not provided in cases where they should be, the same kind of machinery would be brought into operation. I should make it clear that, in saying that, I do not want it to be thought that we imagine that every private school is deficient in that way. Those in which provision is not but ought to be made are a very small minority of the whole. They exist, and the children there ought to be protected.I am advised, in answer to the criticism of my hon. and learned Friend on draft- ing—I admit that he is a far greater legal expert than I am—that the effect of these Amendments is to bring in a number of additional people, especially at, as I hinted, the works school stage, when that particular form of young people's college comes into existence. It is clearly desirable in such a case, although it may be that the educational side of the establishment is everything that is wished, that the record of the young person should, if possible, still be within the ambit of the school medical service. The Amendment that we have moved helps in that respect.
Would it be possible for a school to refuse to have medical inspection of its pupils?
If it did, that might very well be a ground, under the private schools Clause, for bringing it in front of the tribunal with a view to having the school closed.
I am not satisfied with the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary. In Sub-section (2) of Clause 73 the conditions are already laid down as follow:
We find all those prerequisites included in the Amendment which the Parliamentary Secretary is to move, and that is why I object to the form of drafting."A local education authority may, with the consent of the proprietor of any school in their area which is not a school maintained by the authority, and upon such financial and other terms, if any."
May I say that on that point I will consult the draftsmen as to whether there is any repetition in the Bill. I am as anxious as my hon. and learned Friend is to avoid any tautology in the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In page 54, line 46, leave out "such pupils," and insert "pupils in attendance at the school."
In page 55, line 6, at the end, insert:
"and may, with the consent of the proprietor of any school or other educational establishment in their area which is not maintained by the authority and upon such financial and other terms, if any, as may be determined by agreement between the authority and the proprietor of the school or establishment make arrangements for securing the medical inspection of, and the provision of medical treatment for, pupils (being junior pupils or senior pupils) in attendance at the school or establishment."—[Mr. Ede.]
I beg to move, in page 55, line 13, at the end, to add:
This is an Amendment designed to secure that the advantages which we are extending to the schools outside the national scheme shall be extended to them fairly. I find myself here in a very serious dilemma. I do not agree with these schools outside the national scheme, I do not agree with these independent, fee-drawing, profit-making institutions, but parents, far various reasons, as we have heard to-day, will send their children to them. They believe, somehow or other, that, because they are paying for sending their children to some school, they are necessarily getting something better than if they were using the system of education provided by the State. In other words they get a "snob value." Either they are better or they are not. If they are better then they ought to be open to everybody. If they are worse, the parents only send the children to them because they know they get a snob value out of them. Parents are foolish enough to do that, but what about the children? It is not the children's fault if they go to these schools, and we owe a duty to the children whose parents are foolish enough to send them to schools which are not so good, and for which the provision is not so excellent as the State makes. So we find, quite rightly, in the Clause we are now considering, provisions for extending to these little snob schools some of the advantages which the State provides."and that the benefit of any arrangements so made shall be available to the pupil at the same cost as that for which the arrangement provides that it shall be provided by the authority, and that it shall be a term of any arrangement that the proprietor inform the parent of the pupil or other person responsible for paying the fees in respect of the pupil of the nature and cost of any such benefit."
The hon. and learned Member will have a lot of parsons ragging him if he is not careful.
In this Clause we are providing—
On a point of Order. The Committee has decided to accept a series of Clauses involving these independent schools. While I am sure we want to hear the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for this particular Amendment, we did decide the other day the whole question of these schools, and I am anxious to make some progress, otherwise it means sitting late.
I do not want to stop progress, but the fact remains that the speech of the hon. and learned Member is quite in Order.
I am obliged, Sir Lambert. If the right hon. Gentleman does not appreciate the importance of this Amendment, he is quite entitled to leave the Chamber. As I said, we are concerned with the condition of the children wherever their parents may send them and, therefore, quite properly, here is a Clause which says that the advantages of health inspection, the advantages of feeding in the schools, the advantages if need be, of clothing, shall be extended to these independent schools by arrangement and at cost price. That is an enormous advantage. A small independent school could not possibly hope to provide for the medical inspection, or the feeding of its children, at anything like the price at which a local authority providing for a large area is able to recruit efficient medical inspection, and is able to provide meals on a large scale. The Clause says that if they make arrangements they shall get them at cost price. I take no objection to that, much as I loathe these independent schools, for I have more regard for the children. Let them have these advantages at cost price, but there is another side to it which is not provided in the Clause at all. I am not prepared to let these independent schools have the meals at cost price and sell them at a profit. There is nothing in this Clause which would prevent them getting all these advantages and selling them at a profit. Let me bring it down to one simple little example. The little snob day school—
Where are they, in Wales?
Where are they?
Would the hon. and learned Member describe as "a snob" any client who bought legal advice from him?
Does the hon. and learned Member charge for his services?
I have described as "snobs" a great many people on that side of the House, but "snob" in that meaning I certainly am not.
Has a K.C. got a snob value?
The hon. and learned Member is bound to be right when he is irritating hon. Members opposite.
King's Counsel have a real value, and not a snob value. Let me give one simple example, the small paying private schools. They exist not only in Wales, in fact there are not so many in Wales, but there are plenty of them about. One of the difficulties these small schools find themselves up against is that they are expected to take the children in the morning, look after them all day, and then send them back in the evening. That is one of the things they hold forth to the parents. These small schools, which are to be found in the suburbs of London, with 20 to 25 pupils, under modern conditions in order to provide anything like a decent midday meal for these children will find it costs anything from 2s. to 3s. Under this Clause they can go to the local education authority and say, "We will make an arrangement with you to get your midday meals," and the local education authority has facilities in the way of cooking centres and for carrying the food hot to the different schools. It has been done already. What is the cost under the State system of that? You can provide a first-class meal for the children for anything between 7d. and 10d. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, fourpence."] Anything you like, but the figures I have seen are between 7d. and 10d., and the meal is better than could be provided by the school with 25 pupils for half a crown. So along comes the private school and says to the local education authority: "I would be very glad to partake of these facilities," and the Clause says, "Oh, yes, if there is an arrangement you shall get them at cost price." So the private school gets at cost price a 7d. midday meal and sells it to the parents at 2s. 6d. Is that right?
If the parent is willing to pay it, what does it matter?
The hon. Member says that if the parent is willing to pay he sees no objection. But it should go into the pocket of the local authority and not into the pockets of private schools. The Committee have decided that these schools shall exist, and, if this Clause is passed the Committee will decide that these facilities shall be extended to the independent schools at cost price. Very well, let the children have them, but I ask that these facilities shall not be passed over to the private schools in order that they shall make a profit.
I think my hon. and learned Friend, in his indignation against what he feels is the wrong type of independent school, is in danger of forgetting that, after all, this arrangement is in the national interest, because the health of the children, wherever they are, ought to be safeguarded. It is not a question of benefiting the individual school, but of safeguarding the health of the children and giving them everywhere the same physical advantages. If the danger that he foresees is really held to be there by the Board of Education, I think some such words as he suggested might be inserted, but I believe that the whole thing depends on the arrangement to be made with the local education authority, and I believe that arrangement will safeguard the children and their parents from any such monstrous exploitation as my hon. and learned Friend has conjured up in his vivid imagination. I hope we may have an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that the danger is amply safeguarded against by the fact that the local education authority will have to make the arrangements. They may foresee any risk of this kind and provide that the cost shall be a just cost.
I am sure the Committee will not expect me to reply to that part of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Moelwyn Hughes) in which he dealt with the general character of the private and independent schools. I have already expressed my views on that on two or three occasions in the course of the discussions on the Bill, and I do not think I need repeat them now.
We had a long discussion on the particular Clause which dealt with that and I am sure it would not suit the Committee if I repeated again the arguments then used and sought to put a little light into the rather sombre picture painted by my hon. and learned Friend. With regard to the actual Amendment before us he will see that the Clause states that an agreement has to be entered into between the authority and the proprietor of the school. If there was any such exploitation of the authorities as has been suggested by him as being possible, I should imagine that when it was sought to continue the arrangement there would be something inserted into the agreement to prevent it. We are anxious that no such exploitation should take place, and we will examine the words of the Clause to make certain that the provision is adequate. We share my hon. and learned Friend's view that these facilities should be passed on to the people at as near cost price as possible. I say, "near cost price," because in calculating the cost of meals, differences of a halfpenny occasionally arise which might mean that a profit of a penny or the loss of a similar sum might be made. I am sure my hon. and learned Friend has not in mind anything in the way of profiteering in such an arrangement as that.
I want to direct the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the fact that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Moelwyn Hughes), who made the sort of speech I wish I could have made, suggested that there was a possibility that the local authority might sell meals at 7d. to the school, which would then charge the parents half-a-crown. When he made that suggestion a Tory Member behind said, "Why not?" If there are Tory representatives on some of these local authorities they, too, will say, "Why not?" I ask my hon. Friend to make sure that the Tory representatives do not get away with that sort of thing.
I ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to bear in mind that a great many of these schools will charge parents so many guineas a week for excellent education, deportment and what not. If they throw in a meal they will be charging perhaps one, two or three guineas a week for what is worth 7s. 6d., and whereas they used to spend 2s. 6d. on providing food for one meal they will now spend 7d. but still make the same charge. If the Board have any safeguard against that I hope they will use it, but if not I hope they will accept an Amendment to this Clause.
I agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), and I am glad of the assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary, particularly his reference to the fact that when an agreement comes up for review the local education authority might reconsider the matter. I would remind my hon. Friend that there is no such provision in the Clause, and I hope that when he takes it back for reconsideration he will have in mind what has been said about the need for constant review of the arrangements which are made. With that I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 74—(Supplementary Provisions As To Medical Inspection And Treatment)
I beg to move, in page 55, line 29, at the end, to add:
This Amendment has been put down because there is a considerable amount of apprehension among many parents as to the powers we are conferring on the Board of Education in regard to medical inspection and treatment. There is nothing like unanimity of opinion, even in the medical profession, in regard to vaccination and inoculation. The Minister has already been kind enough to present to the Committee an Amendment which gives parents the opportunity of informing the local authority that they desire that their own medical practitioner should examine their children and give them treatment. I hope we shall get from the Parliamentary Secretary a statement that will remove that apprehension."Nothing in this Act shall be used for ascertaining the vaccinal condition of the children or their condition in respect to any other form of inoculation, or for securing the performance of such inoculations, or for the imposition of mass radiography or any other medical discovery."
I very much hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not accept these words. They are so widely drawn that they would create considerable difficulties in regard, for instance, to school feeding. In my hon. Friend's Amendment there are the words:
If a medical discovery is that extra milk is desirable, or that vitamins in the form of orange juice are desirable, are children to be excluded from these things? That would be the most unfortunate result if this Amendment were accepted. The words:"Nothing in this Act shall be used for ascertaining the vaccinal condition of the children … or for securing the performance of such inoculations, or for the imposition of mass radiography or any other medical discovery."
mean that the fact that a child has three marks on its shoulders shall not be recorded on a card. This Amendment is out of touch with the realities of school life. No one wishes to impose on a child or on anyone else any form of treatment to which there is reasonable objection. In its present form this Amendment would exclude the application for the benefit of the child of any new improvements as, for instance, the science of nutrition."Nothing … shall be used for ascertaining the vaccinal condition …"
This Amendment brings to my mind the fact that something which is not being done might be done. It is clumsily drawn, because it deals with treatment and examination. Mass radiography is quite a recent thing. Until recently it was not possible to take miniature X-ray photographs. That is now possible, and a very large number of such photographs can be taken, with the result that it is possible to discover at an early stage a condition which might later become very serious. If the Amendment had asked that medical examination should include mass radiography among the children it would have been better. As it is, I am certain that the Parliamentary Secretary cannot accept it. I do not wish to say anything about vaccination or inoculation, but I know something of the success which has attended the efforts of miniature radiography, and I hope the Board will consider the advisability of ensuring that something in the nature of that examination should take place.
My right hon. Friend, at an earlier stage of the Bill, inserted an Amendment to meet the point of view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for West Willesden (Mr. Viant) with regard to treatment. I do not think the words of the Amendment are necessary; in fact, I cannot imagine how the applica- tion of the first part of the Amendment could possibly be worked under any scheme of medical inspection. If a child is stripped, it at once reveals whether it has been vaccinated or not, but I would like to tell my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) that not all children are vaccinated on the arm. Occasionally, vaccination marks are discovered elsewhere. But nothing will be done under this Clause or in this Bill to compel a child to be vaccinated or inoculated, or to undergo any of the other experiments mentioned in my hon. Friend's Amendment, without the consent of the parent being previously obtained. I am sure that that is what my hon. Friend aimed at. We do not desire that the latest medical discovery shall, of necessity, be foisted upon every child in our schools. I, for one, know that the latest medical discovery is sometimes discarded with even greater speed than it is introduced.
In view of that explanation I have great pleasure in withdrawing the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
This Clause provides that the Minister may require particulars of arrangements made by the authority in the exercise of their functions relating to medical inspection and medical treatment. Would it be possible for the Minister to have an inquiry made into the relation between home conditions of the child and school conditions? Many of the conditions which affect a child adversely in its school life arise not from the school but in the home. A report regarding overcrowding, infection and bad psychology would be of the greatest possible value in helping on school work, and I hope it will be possible for reports to be made on those lines.
My hon. Friend raised this matter on an earlier Clause, when my right hon. Friend gave a reply to which I can add nothing further.
The right hon. Gentleman did not say anything about making reports.
This is an Education Bill and we have to be careful in examining the suggestions of people who want to expand it into a scheme for the complete recasting of our social system. I have had to resist several Amendments which appeared to have been designed with that object in view. We are anxious to get as much information as we can about the reactions of social environment upon the schools, but as to a right to insist on a report on things which are not in the school, frankly I should think we could give no answer to-day which would satisfy my hon. Friend on this particular Clause.
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
Clause 75 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 76—(Power Of Local Education Authorities To Give Assistance By Means Of Scholarships And Otherwise)
I beg to move, in page 56, line 15, to leave out paragraph (b).This Clause gives power to local education authorities to assist students by means of scholarships and in other ways. Included in the powers given them, subject to the Regulations of the Ministry, is a power to pay the fees of pupils attending fee-paying schools. I have to approach this Amendment having in mind the decision the Committer has made that fee-charging schools are a desirable part of our educational system, so desirable that public money is to be given to help them. We are dealing in this Clause not with a power, either to the State or the local education authority, to provide money to keep schools going. We are dealing with a power to give assistance to the school, or to the pupil, by providing the fees for the pupil. I do not imagine for a moment that the Regulations which the Minister will make will enable a local education authority to send a pupil to Eton. I do not suppose there will be any Regulation which will encourage a local education authority to provide £300 a year to send children to Harrow, or £400 to send them to Eton. These Regulations will provide for sending pupils to schools in the locality in which the live, and they have to be reviewed from two aspects, first of all the aspect of the school, which may be the only secondary grammar school in the area which, in the wisdom of this Committee, is still to continue to be allowed to charge fees. I can well imagine a local education authority which was alive to its duties saying, "The only secondary grammar school left in this area is a fee charging one." They ought to say "Very well, we will have a State secondary school here which shall be free of all fees whatever." The Board by its Regulations may very well encourage local education authorities not to embark on that democratic system of setting up a secondary grammar school free of all fee charging and to say instead of embarking on this expenditure, it would be much cheaper for the time being just to pay the fees for the pupils who could afford to go to this fee-paying school. The second danger from this paragraph arises where there are two schools. The Parliamentary Secretary knows the educational system better than I do, but I make this challenge. If a town has two secondary schools, one fee paying and the other a State school, which is not big enough to take all the pupils, and the fee-paying school cannot get enough fee-paying pupils in the ordinary way, it throws open some of its places, possibly at a reduced rate. It says, "We will take so many pupils but we will take the cream." The result is that the cream goes to the fee-paying school, leaving the school maintained by public funds to take what is left. It is happening now and, if this paragraph remains in, it will be encouraged in the future. Let the fee-paying schools go on, but I implore the Committee not to strengthen them at the expense of the democratic system which we are seeking to build up.
My hon. and learned Friend has made some assertions as to what would be the framework of the Regulations that will be drafted by the Board, and he asserted that no Regulations would be made which would enable a local education authority to send a boy to one of the great public schools. Even at present the Hampshire County Council, under the Board's Regulations, is paying the cost of sending boys to Winchester, and it is my right hon. Friend's determination that, where a lad proves himself to be suitable for education in a residential public school, nothing in the Regulations of the Board shall do other than encourage the local education authority to send him there. My own local education authority is now paying, in respect of one youth, the whole cost of sending him to Cambridge. He is a gardener's son and they thought it was better to relieve him of the necessity of going round pot-hunting for £30 or £40 scholarships. They thought he was worth the money and they decided to invest in him.
My Amendment is to delete paragraph (b), which refers to schools. Is there any relevance in talking about sending them to universities?
I have already instanced Winchester. I gathered that the insinuation behind my hon. and learned Friend's speech was that only comparatively cheap schools, and a limited amount of money, would be available for this purpose. I wanted to prove that even now, with regard to senior pupils, education authorities are spending substantial sums, which would have been regarded as quite beyond the range of publicly supported education only a very few years ago. I was only using it as an illustration. I hope, therefore, that my hon. and learned Friend will feel that it is a part of my right hon. Friend's determination that, as far as we can arrange, the square pegs shall be fitted into square holes and the round pegs into the round holes of our educational system. I hope there will be a very substantial inflow of pupils through the machinery of this paragraph from the primary schools into the public schools, direct grant schools and any other schools that offer suitable, sound education.Inside one small town occasionally the most extraordinary gradations between different schools occur. It by no means always follows that it is the school that charges the biggest fees that is regarded as the best in the district. It is very often fixed on other considerations than that. Again, generally speaking, in a small town, in the elementary system, which we are now discussing, you have a council school, a Church school and a school—which has become a council school —which used to be a British school. You will generally find that the ex-British school is regarded as the best of the three because, in the old days, before 1902, that was generally the school to which the small tradesmen sent their children, and it is astonishing how that kind of arrangement has continued. We have decided that fee paying schools are to remain. My right hon. Friend has said that that must always be accompanied by accessibility. One of the best ways of procuring accessibility, not merely to a local school but to a school which is far more than local, is the power given in this Paragraph So far from increasing the democratic nature of our educational system, by deleting this Paragraph, my hon. and learned Friend would considerably decrease the possibility of democracy using these schools. I appeal, with as much earnestness as my hon. and learned Friend, to the Committee to take the view that these words should remain in the Clause.
I beg to move, in page 56, line 19, to leave out from "pupils" to "undergoing", in line 20.This Clause deals with Regulations to be made by the Minister. If the Bill is passed in its present form before there is some parallel measure of social improvement, a large number of children will suffer in consequence. When the school-leaving age is raised to 15 allowances will only be made to children over the age of 15. At present when a child plus 11 gets into a secondary school it is possible when that child attains what is now the school-leaving age of 14, for the local education committee to make a grant. That means that there are now a large number of children getting the grants at 14. Under the Bill, if the words "over compulsory school age" are left in parents will not be entitled to a grant until the child reaches 15. It has been the policy of the party of which I am a member to press for a higher school-leaving age with allowances. There is something to be said for that, but whether it can be argued to-day or not, it is surely difficult for us to say, if children at the age of 14 are now getting grants, that under a Big which is to improve education they shall not get it until 15. If my Amendment is accepted the Board of Education will be able to make regulations without reference to this qualification and the local education committee will be able to make grants. I see no reason why a committee should be tied down to making grants of scholarships and bursaries and other allowances after the compulsory leaving-age. I see no reason why it should not be empowered to make grants under that age when it can be proved to be in the educational interests of the child. Why are the words "including pupils undergoing training as teachers" in the Clause? Why cannot we leave it so that these scholarships and bursaries can be used for training in other professions?
On a point of Order. Are we discussing the Amendment which the hon. Member has moved, or the question of the wider sphere of training over school-leaving age?
We are discussing only the Amendment which the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) has moved. We might have a short general Debate on the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) on the question of grants for training for professions, but at the moment perhaps the hon. Member for South Tottenham will speak only on his Amendment.
My Amendment asks that we should exclude the words "including pupils undergoing training as teachers," and how can I argue that if I do not support the argument by saying that there should be scope for training for other things?
I thought the hon. Member's point was to bring in those pupils who are within the compulsory school-age. That is the only point of the Amendment.
Will it not be possible to have a general discussion on these Amendments? Otherwise it will be necessary for me to speak again on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock.
If it is the feeling of the Committee and it will facilitate the discussion, I have no objection.
Does that mean that we shall be discussing all the remaining Amendments on this Clause except one?
I put down my Amendment to try to cover the specific range of profession and research. That is a different matter from the Amendment which has been moved.
Perhaps the hon. Member for South Tottenham will confine himself to his Amendment and we will have a general discussion on the next Amendment.
I do not want to curb the hon. Gentleman's style or prevent a wider discussion; I only wanted to avoid having to speak again. The point I want to emphasise is that a hardship will be done to those children who are now entitled to financial assistance but who will not be entitled to it unless my Amendment is accepted.
In my reply to my hon. Friend I will confine myself to the narrow point. He desires that it shall be possible to give to a child who has not yet reached the age at which compulsion ceases, a maintenance allowance while he remains at school. He instanced the child now over 14 who gets an allowance, but a child over 14 is not under any obligation to attend school. He can leave. Therefore, if the parent is willing for the child to remain at school and cannot afford to do so without a maintenance allowance, it is in the child's interest that an allowance should be paid. As from the appointed day, the age will be raised to 15, and every child will be under an obligation to remain at school until 15. Therefore, the child between 14 and 15 in the secondary schools will not be in the exceptional position that he now is. The whole of this matter is linked up with the question of family allowances, about which the Government's policy was stated 13 months ago. Under the Clause, when we raise the school age to 15, there will be an obligation on every child to stay until 15 and a maintenance grant may be payable for any child whose parent keeps it on after 15. When we raise the age to 16, the same thing will happen to children over 16. Every child under 16 will be under a statutory obligation to remain at school. I do not think that on that ground there is any reason for leaving out the words that my hon. Friend wishes to leave out. He may have noticed that on the Order Paper a new Amendment has appeared in the name of my right hon. Friend which covers a similar point raised in an Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), which will allow existing contracts entered into to be fulfilled even if they should contravene the words that my hon. Friend proposes to leave out. That seems to be only reasonable and just. These are the people who might have a grievance, having entered into a contract, if they found themselves debarred from receiving the benefit of it.
I probably expressed myself very imperfectly. I really wanted to show that we are now making it law that grants cannot be made until after the compulsory school-leaving age. That is not the law at present, and I feel that unless something is done hardship will be created. At the present time, apart from the grants at 14 to which I have referred, it is customary, if a child who passes his entrance examination comes from a poor family, for clothing grants to be made. Under the Bill it will not be possible to make clothing grants. In fact, it will not be possible to make grants of any kind until the child is 15.
May I point out that for the first time we have brought the English and Scottish law in regard to clothing into line, and it will be possible under another Clause to deal with the clothing of school children.
I was probably defective in expressing myself. As soon as you specify the particular things for which money can be spent, you exclude other things which used to be included. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 56, line '20, to leave out from "age," to the end of the Clause, and to add:
"who undergo training for teaching or any other recognised profession at a suitable institution or who undertake investigations for the advancement of learning or research."
It would be for the convenience of the Committee if this Amendment were discussed together with the next four.In line 21, at end, add:
In line 21, at end, add:"or studying for one of the professions, including the law and medicine or entrants to other recognised professions requiring further assistance."
In line 21, at end, add:"or for any other profession and including also officers of local authorities intending to undertake a course of study with the consent of the employing authority for the purpose of acquiring greater knowledge or experience in the discharge of their duties."
In line 21, at end, add:"and for other professions and students at universities."
(d) to pay maintenance grants to enable pupils to take advantage of the facilities granted in this section in all cases where the absence of such maintenance grants would result in the pupil being unable to accept the facilities offered."
I wanted to support my hon. Friend's last Amendment, but I saw that we could not get any further with it, and I hope he will support mine. I think that my Amendment covers the two weak spots in the Clause. The first was mentioned by my hon. Friend. Why put in "including pupils undergoing training as teachers"? Does not that mean that others are excluded? The second weak spot is the dropping out of research. I understand that a university student who is doing research at the university cannot be paid for. Why should not the Bill be more explicit? I mentioned in an earlier discussion to-day that this is a vital part of the process of clipping the wings of privilege. For the professions of solicitor, architect, surveyor and many others, the real difficulty is that the boy or parent cannot afford the premium or training after the secondary school stage. In this Clause we want to see that local education authorities can assist the training of pupils in any recognised profession at a suitable institution or those who undertake investigations for the advancement of learning or research. That covers the whole field. There were a number of letters in "The Times" a few years ago about the premium system, and evidence was brought from many headmasters, particularly with regard to surveying and the law, to show that there was no chance for the poor pupil to go ahead after perhaps winning several credits and being at the top of a secondary school. That is the weakness of this Bill, and I hope that as one of the methods of abolishing privilege the Bill will enable a child to go on to further education.
I am glad to find myself supporting the hon. Member who has just spoken and I hope there will be unanimity in the Committee on this matter. My experience is that there may be some difference of opinion on whether all children should have a secondary education. Some people are doubtful whether it is, necessarily, an advantage, but everybody is agreed that children who have shown real ability should be given every possible help to get the education that they require for the full development of their powers. The hon. Member asked why the reference to grants for teachers was included. I think it is because that is the present practice, which exists not for a very good reason. It is intended to be used as a bribe to induce children, who, otherwise, could not get further education beyond their secondary school course, to enter the teaching profession. I suggest that that is not the way to bring about the recruitment of the teaching profession. People should go into the teaching profession for its own sake. If we want to attract people into the profession we must make the profession sufficiently attractive and not try to take advantage of the fact that some pupils are too poor at the end of their secondary education, and are not among the specially gifted few who have gained scholarships for the university by attempting to bribe them in this way.The proposal of the Amendment is a logical consequence of the action we are taking in providing secondary education for all. It is most unsatisfactory to induce a child to go right to the top of the secondary school, only to reach the point where he or she cannot go any further. Girls are likely to be more affected than boys, because there are fewer scholarships for girls than for boys. They cannot train for the profession they would like, because the course is expensive. I believe that if the powers of the local authorities were extended in the way proposed, it would be a good thing. Nobody can say that teachers will not be required in the future, but we shall also require many more doctors. I can also imagine that, as civilisation becomes more complicated, the need for lawyers will increase.
This Amendment would open wide the door for students to go forward when they have come up to the university. It would give them a chance of extra time at the university, under these special grants. It would enable them to study for professions other than the teaching profession. We need to give them an opportunity to study law or medicine, which takes, I understand, something like four or five years, as against three years for teaching. The Amendment would open those professions to the poorer students.
I am very keenly in favour of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). I could have wished for something definite to go on, in the way of a decision to raise the school leaving age to 16, before, say, 1970. It will be a very good thing to get our bright pupils up to the age of i6 and to let them see definitely that there is something other than the teaching profession, to which their talents could be directed. I have seen many promising doctors, lawyers and architects being perverted or turned away from their natural bent, simply because in front of them was dangled only the opportunity of going in for teaching. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us an assurance that promising students will have the opportunity of going in for professions other than teaching and that their natural ability will be given full scope. If we are to cater in the Bill in the fullest possible way, for all the abilities of our children, without let or hindrance, we must throw the gates open wide. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock has done a great service, and it will do something to redeem the rather gloomy picture which he presented during the week-end, when he said that there was no hope for the children of this country for the next five years.
The hon. Member must not say such a ridiculous thing. I said that the Bill gave no chance to adolescents within the next five years.
I fully agree with the hon. Member in the Amendment which he proposes.
I should like to make a reference to the Amendment in my name, as it has something in common with that of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay), which I support wholeheartedly. I have seen children who would have had a brilliant future losing their opportunity just because the tendency of their aptitude was not towards the teaching profession. There was, for example, a boy brought up under the Gloucestershire County Council. He gained a place in the secondary school. He gained his school-leaving certificate and his matriculation certificate. He came down to London and obtained a post as a voluntary technician. It was seen that his bent was scientific, and opportunities were given to him for advancement in the things which he found interesting. It was necessary that he should have a further course of education if he was to pursue that line. I approached the county council of the area in which he was then resident, but they said that it was Gloucestershire's responsibility. I approached that county council on his behalf, and was told that, unfortunately, nothing could be done. As a result of influence in certain quarters he was given his opportunity. He is now in the medical school in Birmingham. That is an exception. Such matters ought not to be so difficult. Why should the community be denied the service of those who could do efficient work merely because we have closed the door of opportunity in their faces? That is one aspect of the matter. I suggest in my Amendment that the local education authority should be empowered to pay for the studies of other officers of the authorities. We have often had the experience of having a man doing his post-graduate course who needed an opportunity to follow a particular type of study, and we wanted to give him study leave, but could not pay his fees because we had not the authority.
When the hon. Member says "we", whom does he mean?
I mean the county council. The student had not been a pupil so he could not be assisted out of the education fund. I will give the instance of a girl who showed very great promise. We wanted her to take a two-year course so that she could get her social science certificate and become a hospital almoner. We had not power under the Public Health Act, because she was not a pupil and had not been educated by the education committee of the county council. We feel that if the education committee of the county council is empowered to spend money on officers of the county council who can render good service to the community, it would be a good investment, besides providing the people in question with an opportunity of obtaining a position which otherwise they might not have been able to get.
I support what was said by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer). I hope that the Minister, if he is not able to accept the words of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), may be willing to insert words which are as wide or wider. It is of the greatest importance that the Bill should not single out those who are training for the teaching profession for this exceptional position. It is very important, as has already been said by other hon. Members, that we should encourage the largest variety of choice of career, and that those who are going in for scholarships should not be tied down to a single profession, above all to the teaching profession. We have a reason for that, because the Board of Education have not set a good example in the past.It puts a great strain on the conscience of a student if he undertakes, as a condition of being given a university course, that he will give a certain number of years' service to teaching, when, in his heart, he does not want to teach. He longs to get the university training that otherwise he could not possibly afford, and it is not fair to the poorer student to give him that crisis of conscience, as the only way in which he can get into a university. We ought to encourage the local authorities to give the widest opportunities to poor students who otherwise would be shut out from the great advantages that they ought to have. This view is taken not only by hon. Members who share them, but by the general body of students, represented, for instance, in the National Union of Students, who feel very strongly on this matter. I hope that we may have a definite assurance from the Government that they do not intend to tie to a particular profession students who receive these scholarships, but that local authorities shall be able to open the doors as widely as may be, to every avenue of service to the community for which children may be better fitted if they have the advantage of university training.
This Clause has been given, I think, far too narrow an interpretation by several of my hon. Friends who have spoken. I am bound to say that I cannot follow the examples that were given by my hon. Friend the Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer). Neither under the existing law nor in anything we propose here, is there any prohibition on a local education authority from giving assistance up to 100 per cent. to any student who desires to secure any particular form of study, whether it be technical or cultural. In my own experience I can recall making payments to people like sanitary inspectors and similar officers of local sanitary authorities in order to pay the fees to enable them to attend at courses in connection with various institutions that were engaged in the education of the people for their particular calling. I should very much like to have an opportunity of talking over with my hon. Friend the particular examples he has given. It seems to me that it may have been something in local regulations rather than in the Act of Parliament or in the Board's regulations that prevented assistance being given to the people he had in mind. We desire most earnestly that any course of instruction in an educational institution should be open to any pupil who is capable of profiting by it, irrespective of his particular means.I have heard the case of medical students mentioned. May I say again that I have known from my own personal experience of scholarships that lasted six or seven years being granted to a young man or a young woman who went up to the university from a secondary school, that saw, them right through their career to the time when they walked the hospital. There is nothing in this Clause which restricts these powers from being exercised in the future, and the Board sincerely hope that they will continue to be exercised by the local education authority. What we do not cover in this Clause—I think it was the point raised more particularly by the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. Morgan)—is the paying of certain fees to pupils who are articled to practitioners in a profession. This Clause does not cover the paying of the fees that I understand have to be paid by a pupil in, let us say, a solicitor's, architect's or accountant's office.
The Clause says:
"…allowances in respect of pupils…"
I am advised it is not meant to cover that.
Somebody will argue it one day before some court.
I do not know whether my hon. and learned Friend hopes that he will be either that someone, or the someone on the other side.
Does it mean that this cannot be allowed or that it is not the sort of thing that is likely to be allowed? Does the hon. Gentleman mean that he would rather it did not cover fees of those who are articled, or that, in fact, they are not covered?
I am advised, and I am careful to use these words when I am arguing with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), that it does not cover, and we do not intend it to cover, the payment of the kind of fees I have just mentioned, but where an intending solicitor is studying at the university, whether it be as a student at a residential university or as an external student of London University, we do intend that it shall cover the cost of taking his LL.B. or any other examination he may have to take. Where the education is given in that way, we intend that this particular Clause shall cover it. I want to make it quite clear that we do not regard it as covering the case of fees that have to be paid by certain pupils when they are articled to certain professions, any more than we regard it as covering fees that may have to be paid for apprenticeship, by certain youths leaving school, to very skilled callings of a manual kind.
We want to get one point quite clear. Obviously this last paragraph was put in for some reason. There is a danger, and since the Parliamentary Secretary has been speaking I have felt more and more alarmed. It looks as though allowances will be made only for those who are to be trained as teachers. Why was this paragraph put in?
I think my hon. Friend is doing me wrong in not allowing me to complete my speech before he assumes that I am not going to deal with the point he had in mind. It is not the first time he has done so in the course of the Committee discussion. If he would prefer that I should deal with that point next, let me say frankly we have had to put these words in, because the academic status and the professional training of teachers are often going on side by side, at the same time, in the same institution, or in connection with it. I hope that my hon. Friend will realise that we do not put this in in order to exclude anyone else, who is undergoing training at an institution, but again I want to make it clear that this does not give the local education authority power to pay the fees of a per- son who is being articled, whether the instruction is to be given in a barrister's Chambers or in a solicitor's office, or in the other offices to which I have alluded.The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) did draw attention to what is a gap in the Clause. There is no provision in this Clause for research for enabling a person who has taken his degree at the university, to remain on for a year or two to conduct research in the university. We propose to remedy that in a new Clause which will be placed on the Order Paper later, so that there will be power for research students to be assisted by local education authorities. That was an omission and we frankly acknowledge it. I do not think it has been mentioned to-day, but at an earlier stage, some people, for instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), expressed doubt whether this paragraph (c) was sufficient to cover the grant to a student studying at a university. I have had the most careful inquiries made into that. We are advised that it does. We hope that the wording is so wide as to make it quite clear that all the kinds of cases other than the articled pupils which have been mentioned to-day will be covered by the wording of this Clause. If my hon. Friend the Member for South Tottenham still has any doubts whether any of the types of people to whom he alluded are covered by the Clause, and will let me have the specific cases he has in mind, I will have them carefully examined. We are convinced that on all the points, except research, which have been raised by my various hon. Friends in this discussion, the Clause is wide enough to deal with them, and we do not regard the special mention of teachers as in any way excluding the persons qualifying for other professions who are getting their education at an institution.
I am sorry to have to intervene, but every one who has spoken so far says, "We want to open the door as widely as possible, not to limit this in any way." Then comes the Parliamentary Secretary, saying, "We intend certain things." May I point out that any words uttered at that Box, however helpful they may be to us, do not give the true construction or the true meaning of the Measure when it becomes an Act? What I feel has happened here is that, whereas every one has desired to expand this as widely as possible, they have then gone on to use words which defeat their own object. The Clause begins:
That is the governing principle. That is about as wide as you could possibly have it. If it had stopped there, we could no have had it any wider than "any educational facilities available to them." Then the Clause goes on with these paragraphs, and unfortunately such paragraphs cut down, as a general rule—in this case they certainly do—the general words. They limit "any educational facilities available to them" to these three matters which are set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). Let us go to (c), which reads:"Regulations shall be made by the Minister empowering local education authorities, for the purpose of enabling pupils to take advantage… of any educational facilities available to them—"
There the paragraph is cutting down the word "pupil" in the earlier part of the Clause, because that is "pupil" in general. Now it becomes, "pupils over compulsory school age." Having done that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) very rightly says "I want to open the door as widely as possible," and proposes to leave out the words "including pupils undergoing training as teachers." Thereupon, he opens the door as widely as he possibly can. Having done that he goes on to add words which cut down the Clause as it was. Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a matter for consideration between now and the Report stage, and that he should look into it and see what is to happen? I ask this because of two things. The suggestion has been made by the Parliamentary Secreary that these allowances in respect of pupils over compulsory school age will not apply, for example, to the fees that have to be paid by a young man who wants to be articled as a solicitor; that was the intention of the Government. I warn him now that it is most arguable, and I do not know what the argument to the contrary would be, that they will come within these words. If a young man says, "I want an allowance for educational facilities within the first meaning of the operative words," and adds "My edu- cational facilities are to enable me to become a solicitor; this is the allowance I require," he will come within that Clause. If you intend to cut him out, you will have to use better words than are now used. The same applies to a young barrister. Having been called to the Bar, he then has to spend a year in Chambers, or he should spend a year in Chambers, for which he usually pays 100 guineas. That is an allowance in respect of an educational facility, and I do not know what the argument to the contrary could be. If they want to limit it in the way suggested from that Box, the Government had better reconsider these words. It was said also that these words do not cover research. But the Clause says:"to grant scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries, and other allowances in respect of pupils over compulsory school age…"
That might involve research. Let me call attention to the very next Clause, which says:"Regulations shall be made by the Minister empowering local education authorities, for the purpose of enabling pupils to take advantage…of any educational facilities available to them…"
If it stopped there that would be wide, but it goes on:"A local authority may, with the approval of the Minister, make such provision for conducting or assisting the conduct of research "—
"As appears to the authority to be desirable for the purpose of improving the educational facilities provided for"—
I do not think we ought to go on discussing Clause 77 now.
I was only pointing out, Mr. Williams, that there was already in the Bill a partial answer to the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, and I suggest thin both these matters should be reconsidere before the Report stage.
I could not gather, from the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, whether he was in sympathy with or hostile to the suggestion that such things as fees to solicitors for articled pupils should be included. I understood that such things would be included under the Clause, but my hon. and learned Friend seemed to be inviting the Government to do something to prevent that—an invitation which I gather from the Parliamentary Secretary's speech he would be quite ready to accept. I do not want the Parliamentary Secretary to accept it. I agree that it is probably covered, but if there is any doubt I would like the Government to alter the Clause so that it is covered. I say that for a reason the logic of which, I hope, will commend itself to my hon. Friend. Take the case of a boy who has won certain scholarships and has indicated an aptitude for the law. There can be no doubt that if that boy matriculated and went to a university and studied for a degree in the faculty of law, he would be entitled, if certain other conditions were satisfied, to the benefit of this Clause. If, on the other hand, he wanted to indulge his aptitude for the law by being articled to a solicitor or by reading in the chambers of a barrister, he would not be covered, and, in my hon. Friend's opinion, he ought not to be covered. That seems to me quite illogical.Under either method he would be educated in the law. There are differences of opinion as to which is the better way. No doubt one method would have greater academic advantages, and the other would have greater practical advantages. I have had the benefit of both methods, and so, no doubt, I am in a position to know the advantages of each. But there is this important difference between them. If the boy gets a very good degree in law at the university, that by itself entitles him to nothing; it is purely an academic attainment. He cannot, on the strength of that degree, practise law in either branch of the profession. If, on the other hand, he reads in chambers with a barrister or is articled to a solicitor, and passes the professional examinations of the Inns of Court or of the Law Society, he is qualified. Be it remembered that, in either case, he is following very largely the same curriculum. Both curricula are designed to cover the ground set by the statutory examining bodies. There can be very little justification for saying that the State or the local authority shall be empowered to spend money on academic training, with no opportunity thereafter for putting to the advantage of the community whatever has been learned, and for refusing such assistance to that form of legal education which results in the admission or the call of the man to practise what he has learned, in the courts or in the office. I cannot see why that distinction should be drawn, or what benefit is gained, either by the community or by the student, from such an artificial distinction. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend is right in saying that the Clause, as drawn, does not create any such distinction, but if the Government, who have access to better advice than I can get, think that the Clause gives power to spend money on academic education which results in no ultimate benefit, as regards practising in the profession, but prevents the spending of money on exactly the same sort of education in such a form that benefit will result in the practice of the profession, I hope that they will put things right.
I remember that when I first sat on the bench at petty sessions, learned counsel for the prosecution opened and learned counsel for the defence followed later. When the second counsel had addressed the court, one of my colleagues said, "What a nuisance this fellow is: I understood the case until he started." In my encounters with hon. and learned Members, when those on both sides have been anxious to see that I was correctly informed, I have sometimes been in the same position as my colleague on the bench. I have listened very attentively to-day to what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has said. I will examine the words carefully in order to make sure that what ought to be done shall be done—perhaps that is a better way of putting it than the words I used a short time ago. I have also had the advantage of listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) on one phase of the subject. I understand that he has been a victim of both methods of legal education; therefore, he can claim to speak as a great expert on the matter. We will very carefully examine his point of view. We intended that there should be nothing in this Clause in regard to educational research, but we are anxious that grants shall be made for scientific and cultural research, and we are going to endeavour to deal with that matter. I hope that, in view of this offer, we may now be allowed to dispose of this Amendment.
I am very grateful. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, and thank my hon. Friend for what he has said about research.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 56, line 21, at the end, to add:
This Amendment deals with the point which was raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) and which was alluded to by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer). Where these allowances have been paid prior to the commencement of this part of the Act, we desire them to continue; but, quite clearly, for the reasons I gave when discussing the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tottenham, we do not intend that any new allowance of this particular kind shall be granted after that date."(d) to grant allowances in respect of any child in respect of whom any scholarship exhibition bursary or other allowance has been granted by a local education authority before the date of the commencement of this Part of this Act."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 77—(Powers Of Local Education Authorities As To Educational Research, Etc)
I beg to move, in page 56, line 24, after "research," to insert "and for the assistance of universities."The Clause does not make any provision to enable the local education authorities to assist universities. I should hardly think that that was the intention of the Minister, and I put down this Amendment so that he may make it quite clear that it is possible for universities to have the assistance which the local authorities wish to give.
Undoubtedly, my hon. Friend has pointed out something which ought to have been included in the Bill. We would prefer to do it by a new Clause rather than by putting the words into this Clause. The new Clause will appear on the Order Paper, in the name of my right hon. Friend, in the next few days. I hope that, on that assurance, my hon. Friend will withdraw this Amendment.
I take it that the authorities will be given in another way the powers which they are seeking, and, consequently, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 78—(Power Of Local Education Authorities To Accept Gifts For Educational Purposes)
I beg to move, in page 56, line 40,. to leave out Sub-section (2).This Amendment appeared on the Order Paper originally in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb). My right hon. Friend has seen the desirability of this course, without my hon. Friend having to advance the great strength of argument which can be advanced in its favour, and he has added his name to the Amendment, which I am now moving.
I am very much obliged to the Minister for adding his name to the Amendment, and I hope that this will be the first of a number of occasions when he will do the same sort of thing.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us why he wants the Sub-section left out?
It is a mystery how it ever got in. We are unable to discover any reason why a local education authority should not be the trustees of an endowment which people wish to leave. I can think of many cases in which it is desirable that the education authority should be the trustees. Take the case of a former scholar of a secondary school, who wishes to leave a small sum to found a scholarship or a prize, and desires that the local education authority shall be the trustees. There are other things that may occur to hon. Members in which it might, very similarly, be desirable that the local authority should be the trustees, and this prohibition is, I think, quite unnecessary.
It should, I think, be said that if this information had been given earlier some headaches might have been saved. I read the first paragraph, and then I read the second, and then I attempted to reverse them both in order to see why it was that one, to my mind, conflicted with the other, and why it should be so.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 56, line 44, to leave out from the beginning to "trustees" in line 45, and to insert:
This Amendment and those which follow it, are consequential upon the Amendment we have just made."A local education authority shall not, on or after the date of the commencement of this Part of the Act, be constituted."
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In page 57, line 1, leave out "shall not be granted."
In line 2, leave out "him," and insert "the Minister."
In line 3, leave out "him," and insert "the Minister."—[ Mr. Ede.]
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 79 and 80 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 81—(Appointment Of Chief Education Officers Of Local Education Authorities)
I beg to move, in page 59, line 16, to leave out from the first "authority" to the end of the Clause.This Amendment stands upon the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb). I think that all the Amendments to this Clause apply equally and are about the same thing, and I presume that we may discuss them altogether. Whether we do or not, the discussion will be very brief.
I think we may consider this Amendment and the next four Amendments, as they all stand together—
In page 59, line 18, to leave out from "Minister" to "If," in line 23;
In line 20, to leave out from the second "the" to the end of the Clause, and add:
"names, previous experience and qualifications of persons, one of whom they propose to appoint. If the Minister is of opinion that any person named in such a list is not a fit person to be a chief education officer of the authority he may give directions to remove his name from the list of persons so submitted."
In line 21, to leave out from "the," to "If," in line 23, and insert "persons from whom they propose to make a selection"; and,
In line 22, to leave out from "appoint," to "If," in line 23.
As it seems to me now almost even money that we may finish the Committee stage of this Bill before we finish the war, I shall be very brief. The purpose of these Amendments arises from the fact that the Minister is taking power away from local authorities, which is what we object to. I do not know if any hon. Member has ever moved an Amendment more briefly than this, but we think the local authorities should have more power.
I do not think that we are really taking any power away from local authorities—
You are not giving it back.
—by this Clause. What we are anxious to do is to ensure that, in the partnership between the local education authority and the Board of Education, we shall be assured that there is a competent liaison officer with the authority making the arrangements. We do not desire to impose our views unnecessarily upon local authorities, but no one can have been connected with local education without knowing that, in the past, some most unsuitable appointments have been made. I can think of a good many authorities where a person who has been an ordinary clerk in the town clerk's office has been appointed chief education officer of the borough, without any experience that enables him to give the local education committee sound advice on the matters that come before them. We are anxious that that shall be avoided in future, but we realise that perhaps the form in which we propose to act in the Bill is, as I heard about something else to-day, rather heavy-handed. We do not, therefore, propose to retain this Clause in its present form, but, if this Amendment is withdrawn, I shall be prepared to move the Amendment that stands in the name of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin).Hon. Members will see that the effect of that will be that the local education authority proposing to make the appointment of chief education officer will submit a short list of the names of the people proposed to be interviewed to the Minister, who will indicate to them if there is any person on that list to whom he takes such objection as to think he ought not to be given the appointment. The remaining names on the list will then be considered by the local education authority with the knowledge that the Board of Education feels that any one of those persons is suited to the needs of the locality, if, in the wisdom of the committee appointing him, he is considered acceptable. I hope that hon. Members will feel that this is a reasonable way to make these very important appointments. It must be remembered that, at the moment, Government Departments have very considerable power in the appointment of people like the senior medical officer of health for an authority, the engineer responsible for the roads, and, of course, the chief constable, and we do not regard the chief education officer of a county or county borough as a less important officer than those I have mentioned.
I have listened with respect to what the Minister has said, but he did not go as far as I would like him to go. I am rather worried about powers which may be given to Departments, and which may be extended to others, and looked upon as a precedent by which the Departments may get still further control over local government than they have at present. The responsibility of the local authority should be to the Minister, but the responsibility of the servant or employee of the local authority should be to them. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is so now."] That may be, but there is a danger of weakening it, if we allow the Minister to come in and take part in the appointment of these officers. I understand that the proposal which the Parliamentary Secretary has made is that the Minister shall have the short list submitted to him and he shall have the right of objecting to it. I hope it will be limited to objecting, and not that the Minister is going to make recommendations about the other names remaining in the list, because I think that would be a very dangerous precedent. In view of the fact that the Minister has made this somewhat partial concession to the request I was going to make, I shall be prepared to accept what he said, hoping that it will not have the ill effect which I am anticipating.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 59, line 21, to leave out from "the," to "If," in line 23, and to insert:
This is the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin)."persons from whom they propose to make a selection."
It is a little difficult to follow this Amendment from the way it has been moved, and I would like to have it made quite clear that it will not do anything to weaken the authority's power in regard to the qualifications of these persons. Otherwise, there may be long delays in making the appointment.
I should like to ask if the Minister will give an indication to the local authority as to why any name has been struck off the list which the local authority submits. It is important that local authorities should be given some reason if, after they submit the names, one is struck off the list.
I would like to consider that before giving an answer. I could conceive of circumstances where it may perhaps not be the right thing to do. I imagine that, no matter what the powers under the Statute are, what would probably happen, if the Minister desired to strike a name out of the list, would be that someone connected with the local education authority would be invited to come up to the Board and the particular name would be discussed with them. These things are generally done in administrative practice, and anyone concerned with the appointment of a medical officer of health, or chief constable, or county engineer knows the way in which the power of the Department is exercised. May I say to the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) that the powers that we are now accepting here are far less than those exercised by the other Government Departments in the three appointments I have just mentioned.
We may assume that what the Parliamentary Secretary has said indicates that the great abject of the Board is to see that the directors of education are men who have inside educational experience. The Minister must realise that those anxious to retain the local authority's rights have not, in the past, always appointed these officers from persons with inside teaching experience, and that teachers greatly resent the appointment of administrators who never got such experience or any inside experience of a school.I am sure that, if the Board, by this Amendment, make it clear that they are going to help all education authorities to come up to the standard of the best by appointing people of real educational experience to these really important posts, they will be doing a great service to the whole profession and to the country.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 82—(Remuneration Of Teachers)
I beg to move, in page 59, line 30, after "with," to insert "national."I move this Amendment in the absence of hon. Members whose names have been attached to it. The one thing we want to avoid, everybody will agree, is a deplorable situation such as that in the mining industry, arising from the fact that in every district there are anomalies. No one wants to see that sort of thing in connection with the teaching profession. One does not want to see the position in one district different from that in another district, with anomalies at one set of schools and different anomalies at another set of schools. We wish to avoid the setting up of all sorts of advisory committees and ingenuous devices to try to overcome these difficulties.
The result of putting in the word "national" would be so opposite to that which the hon. Member desires that I do not see why he should press his Amendment. He made the extraordinary assertion that if we accepted the Amendment, we would avoid, in the world of teachers, some of the difficulties which are facing the mining industry. It is owing to the machinery—with which I do not propose to interfere—for the arrangement of teachers' salaries that we have managed to preserve a situation in this country during war-time and before of which we should be extremely proud. It is the result of the Burnham machinery, with which I, as Minister, do not propose to interfere, and if I did, we would have some trouble. I am anxious to retain the Burnham machinery. There would have to be a national scale and we would at once get into trouble with Wales, as we would have to have two bodies, one for Wales and one for England.
I beseech the hon. Member not to press the Amendment, and would remind him that the Bill does not affect Scotland.
Give us a Bill of our own.
According to the Burnham machinery the matter is not done on one national scale but on different scales affecting teachers in different circumstances. I hope that the hon. Member will not press the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Key) and other hon. Members, but that the Committee will leave the Bill as it is, and allow scales to be approved by the Minister as put forward under the Burnham machinery.
If it had been my own Amendment, I might have pressed it. As there was nobody here to move the Amendment perhaps hon. Members may have been ashamed of it.
I would remind the hon. Member that his hon. Friend and I have been sitting in a committee all day inquiring into the whole question of rent control, and it is most unfair to say that hon. Members do not think anything, of their Amendment.
In view of that serious reprimand, I must be very careful in my remarks. I took it for granted that each of the hon. Members whose name was attached to the Amendment was satisfied that his Amendment was of a desirable character, and in view of the explanation made by the Minister I will, as gracefully as possible, ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 59, line 31, at the end, to insert:
In moving the Amendment which stands in my name and the names of other hon. Members, I do not wish, even if it were in Order, to argue the question of equal pay on general grounds to-day. It has often been discussed in this House, and it has been twice accepted in principle in regard to the Civil Service, the first time being nearly a quarter of a century ago. To-day we are discussing teachers. There is no doubt that the existing Burnham Committee which, as hon Members know, settles the scale of salary, will have to be reconstituted in order to be brought into line with this new Measure. In this Amendment, all we ask the President to do, is to say in this Clause that he accepts the principle that the basic rate of pay shall not be decided on sex, but on the worth of the job, so that the Burnham Committee can go forward on this basis, knowing that it has the sanction of Parliament and the blessing of the Minister. The teaching profession seems to be a completely clear-cut case of equality between men and women, which scarcely needs arguing. Men and women enter the training colleges at the same age, with the same entrance qualifications. They take equivalent courses of training for exactly the same length of time; when they emerge from the training colleges, they receive the same certificates from the Board of Education or the university, and they enter their professional lives in exactly the same way by applying for teaching posts when vacancies occur. When they get into the schools they are confronted with the same problems, responsibilities and conditions of work. In a mixed school they are, as a rule, entirely interchangeable. The Committee will see that everything is equal until they assume responsibility, and then they become unequal. I will give the Committee only one example. I will take a London school, a mixed central school, which many hon. Members have visited, where boys and girls, from II to 16, are taught side by side by a mixed staff—five men and eight women, with a headmistress in charge, all at their maximum salaries. The teachers specialise in all subjects. There is no difference in the work of the men and the women and all take equal shares in the exchange of duties, such as in the provision of meals and milk. The men receive £84 a year more than the women, and cases like this could be multiplied a hundredfold. It is difficult to see any grounds why women teachers should receive less pay for their responsibilities and work in schools than men. The argument always advanced—and I feel certain that it will be advanced here again—is that men as a rule have families to support. These arguments will be far less impressive when the Government scheme for family allowances is introduced. Let me assure the Committee that the effect of two sucessive wars has been to increase, by an amazing percentage, the number of women supporting dependants, and as the war proceeds, this number will be still further increased. From every possible point of view, I beg the Minister to look with favour on this Amendment. I am certain that public opinion is ready, anxious and waiting to accept the principle which it embodies."not differentiate between men and women solely on grounds of sex and shall."
I rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mrs. Cazalet Keir) in this Amendment. There are two points involved. The first point is whether she is right in principle in saying that men and women teachers ought to be paid on an equal basis, and the second is whether this is the right place and the right way in which to get that principle accepted. With regard to the principle, "Should men and women teachers be paid the same?" the answer is undoubtedly, "Yes." I am not a feminist, at least not in any generally accepted sense of the word. I would not go the whole way with the hon. Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) in the matter of juggling with the household accounts, but I firmly hold the view that, in the state of society into which we are going, the job should go to the most efficient person, whether man or woman, and that payment should be based upon that principle. I do not think there is really any serious argument against paying men and women teachers on a similar basis. As my hon. Friend pointed out, one works just as hard as the other, and the women sometimes work rather harder.
Their clothes do not certainly cost them any less. They do not pay a reduced rent for the house which they occupy, and, as my hon. Friend pointed out, alas, many of them to-day have, through the loss of a husband or a brother, dependants for whose support they are responsible. It is sometimes said, in the case of the woman who is married and whose husband is earning, that she would be in a very favoured position. We so often in this House pay lip service to the importance of family life, that we should hesitate before we resist a reform which might mean, in some homes, an added income. I do not want to argue the general point, of whether the place of woman is in the home or elsewhere. I am convinced that nothing that we say or do in this Committee will make the slightest difference. I am confident that we shall not drive women into the home by cutting their wages when they are working. If I may say something which will make me unpopular with feminists, I would say that, if we put the pay of men and women in the teaching profession on an equal basis, it will probably mean, on the whole, that fewer women will be employed.There is often the fear that, if such an Amendment as this were accepted, the effect might be to depress the wages of the men employed. I believe that to be an entirely false approach. I believe that if there is one way to make certain ultimately of depressing wages, it is to allow a whole class of labour to exist at cut-throat prices. I can imagine the attitude which would be adopted by the Trades Union Congress if coolie labour were introduced in this country at cheap rates and expected to live at a lower standard of living. It would not be tolerated, and yet even to-day we are prepared to tolerate a section of the community which is paid at a lower rate and therefore expected to live at a lower standard of living. It seems to me that that is nonsense. I have no doubt that the principle is right, but I imagine that my right hon. Friend in his reply will deal perhaps not so much with the principle but will advance very good administrative, financial or political reasons for doing nothing. There always are administrative, financial and political reasons for doing nothing. One is told, and I have no doubt we shall be told, that we cannot deal with the teachers unless we deal with the whole of the Civil Service, and that one cannot do that in this Bill. One is told that one has to wait for a Committee to report, or otherwise to wait for a Committee to be set up, or one is told that a Committee is set up and one must not give it any form of instructions. If a Labour Minister is advancing the Bill, one is accused of stabbing him in the back, and if a Conservative Minister is in charge, one is letting one's own side down. All those arguments are always put forward. If one has a good Lobby one is threaten- ing to bring the Cabinet down, and if one has a bad Lobby one ought to have chosen a better cause. I am familiar with all those arguments. I know that the path of a reformer, may I say even a Tory reformer, is a hard one. It is probably right that there should be difficulties in the way of reform. At the end, those reforms are probably all the better because they have to be fought for, but surely, in this case, we have carried caution almost to pedantic lengths. For a quarter of a century we have been discussing in this House of Commons the rights and wrongs of equal pay. I feel that the time has come to discard discussion and get on to action in the matter. My right hon. Friend is in the course—With great ability and, if I may say so, also with great courtesy —of putting through a great reconstruction Measure. I believe if he accepts my hon. Friend's Amendment, not only will it be a great social reform but it will also be better attuned to that sense of social justice which is commonly held to-day throughout the country.