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Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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We shall be providing £29 million more for education this year, including such things as school dinners, further education of demobilised men and women, more scholarships, and the raising of the school-leaving age. The raising of the school-leaving age, which is an educational re- form long promised and, with a variety of excuses, too long withheld, represents, in the view of the Government, a fresh social investment in the minds, the bodies and the characters of our young generation. I am quite sure that we shall reap rich rewards, and soon, from this new educational adventure. Looking back, it is interesting to recall that this would have come about in 1932, but that Sir Charles Trevelyan's Bill to raise the school leaving age, having passed through this House, was thrown out in another place. Those who did that have kept the children waiting 15 years, and, in our view, it is time to put an end to this folly. Included in the educational increase is an additional £3 million for the universities. The total estimate for the universities of £12 million of public money this year is more than five times the prewar figure. It includes £8 million for current grants and £3½ million for capital grants. The universities must be enabled to play a fuller part than ever before in our national life, and to double the prewar total of their students within a period of ten years. We have set that as the target, and we believe that money spent on a planned expansion of this kind will be money very well spent in the national interest.