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Volume 485: debated on Thursday 22 March 1951

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School Dentists, Rother Valley


asked the Minister of Education how many school dentists are employed for the school population in the Rother Valley area, part- or full-time.

There is no school dentist at present in this area, but emergency treatment is available at the dental clinic at Rawmarsh.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are over 12,000 school children in this area, and that for a considerable time there has been no dentist at all? Is it not possible for him to get a dentist for at least one day per week for these schools?

In the past this area has been served by a visiting dentist with portable equipment. I am not suggesting for one moment that this represents all we should give. I am, however, surprised at the figure my hon. Friend gives of some 12,000 children unserved by the dental service in his area. The nearest estimate I have is a figure of 8,000, but I quite agree that something must be done about the matter.

School Dinners


asked the Minister of Education the net cost per head of school dinners borne by public funds when the charge is increased to 7d.; what was the net cost when the charges were 6d. and 4d., respectively: what were the estimated numbers served at each charge; and how many free dinners were served.

My right hon. Friend cannot, at this early stage, attempt to give an estimate of the average net cost per head of school dinners for 1951–52. Up to January, 1950, the charge varied, but was usually 5d. In 1949–50, 573 million dinners were served at an average net cost to public funds of 9.26d. per meal after allowing for meals supplied free or at a reduced charge. In 1950–51, it is estimated that the number of dinners served will be 552 million at an average net cost of approximately 9.9d. per meal. His returns do not enable him to say how many free dinners were served, but on single days in October, 1949 and 1950, 297,000 and 292,000 children respectively received free dinners.

What is the total cost on an annual basis of these dinners at 9¾d. each, or thereabouts, over and above what is paid by the parents?

The net cost is £25 million per annum; the amount that is collected in payment for dinners is £11½ million.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whatever the monetary cost, for the value this is to the children it is well worth it?

Canteen Facilities, Cornwall


asked the Minister of Education how many schools under the control of the Cornwall Education Committee lack canteen facilities; and how many scholars attend these schools.

Will my hon. Friend do what he can to hasten the provision of canteens in these schools?

I certainly will, though I must point out that there have been rather exceptional difficulties in this area, of which I know my hon. Friend is aware.

Supplementary Teachers


asked the Minister of Education how many supplementary teachers were employed in primary schools in England and Wales; and how many in Cornwall at the latest convenient date.

On 31st March, 1950, the latest date for which information is available, 1,789 supplementary teachers were employed in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. Of those, 33 were employed in Cornwall. Separate figures are not available for primary schools.

In view of the good work done by these unrecognised teachers, often in country schools where qualified teachers are not available, will my hon. Friend do what he can to see that local education authorities give them increases in salary equivalent to the increases granted to other teachers under the Burnham scale?

Schoolchildren (Employment)


asked the Minister of Education how many county council local education authorities in 1950 refused to sanction the release of schoolchildren for employment in agriculture; and how many sanctioned exemptions.

In view of the abuse of the labour of schoolchildren which occurs, will the Parliamentary Secretary ask his right hon. Friends the Ministers of Education and Agriculture to ensure that this year sees the end of this concession for children to work in school time?

This matter has been a hardy annual for some time. Preliminary discussions have taken place, and my hon. Friend knows well what the present position is in agriculture.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that a few weeks ago the Minister of Education told me that he hoped to be consulted about this matter? Can he tell us whether his hopes have been realised?

As I understand it— and I have been at these consultations myself —consultations take place year by year.

Has there been any consultation with the children, who are the ones most interested in this subject?

Yes, Sir. I have consulted many children upon this subject, and I have found—as was certainly my experience at school—that they all seem to enjoy it very much.

Is my hon. Friend aware that Cornwall was one of the counties where children were exempted wholesale in years gone by and is now a county which does not operate a scheme? Will he take that into account as a factor towards abolishing this concession altogether?

I am certainly prepared to take into account that what comes first is the education of the children.

Technological Education (Report)


asked the Minister of Education if, in view of the adverse criticism in the national and technical Press and elsewhere of the recommendations of the Report of the National Advisory Council on the Future Development of Higher Technological Education, he will publish the comments which, in response to his invitation in the foreword, he has received on the Report.

Will the hon. Gentleman not reconsider that decision? Is he not aware that the comment on and criticism of the proposals of this Report is very widespread, especially among professional bodies; and in view of the desire of all concerned to reach the right conclusion, will he not reconsider that decision?

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to await the debate upon this subject which begins in this House at two o'clock today.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that that debate will be of a very limited character and for a very short time, and that it seems unlikely that all points of view can be put today; is he also aware that when the final decision is made we should be most obliged if we could have this information?

In view of the importance of technological training, especially in our highly organised industrial cities, will the Minister give further consideration to this matter?

Schools, Liverpool (Political Propaganda)


asked the Minister of Education what action he intends to take with reference to the decision of the Liverpool Education Committee in allowing the schools to be used as a medium for party political propaganda, details of which have been supplied to him.

My right hon. Friend deprecates the decision of the Liverpool local education authority to which the hon. Member refers, but his inquiries do not support her suggestion that the schools are being used as a medium for indoctrinating their pupils with party political views.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the use of the facilities in schools to promote Tory political propaganda is seriously deprecated by the organised trade union and Labour movement in Liverpool: and will he intimate that to the local education authority?

I would certainly intimate it to the local education authority. In fact, I think that an intimation has already been made to them. I would add that, on grounds of good education, I deprecate propaganda of any kind in schools.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that this matter was passed by the City Council, and that the Liverpool Advisory Industrial Council is a non-political organisation? Would he not favour the youth of this country learning, in debate, the value of the history of the enterprise and spirit of the merchant adventurers who made the British Empire?

One could, of course, take the view that even the Liverpool education authority could make mistakes. I would myself deprecate the holding of speaking competitions among adolescent children.

Can the hon. Gentleman say, and if he cannot will he find out, how many Communist teachers there are who are using their professional position to further Communist propaganda?

Is my hon. Friend aware that, although this might have been sanctioned by the Liverpool City Council, the subject was of a party political nature; and will he take action to see that this does not occur either in Liverpool or in any other area?

My right hon. Friend has already informed the authority responsible that he deprecates the holding of these competitions, which have a political flavour. The subject under discussion in this instance was "The benefits conferred on the community by private enterprise."

Teachers (Religious Knowledge)


asked the Minister of Education what percentage of those training at county council training colleges for teachers take the course on religion.

About 45 per cent, of all the students in training colleges provided by local education authorities are taking a course in religious knowledge as part of their regular course of training.

May I say that that is very much better than I thought it was, and may I express the hope that, as the teaching of religion in schools is compulsory, the Minister will take steps to encourage teachers to take courses on how to teach religion?

Schoolgirls, Essex (Make-Up)


asked the Minister of Education if his attention has been drawn to the decision of the Essex Education Committee that secondary school teachers in that county may instruct girls in the use of make-up; and if he will circularise local educational authorities to the effect that this subject should not be included in the curriculum.

My right hon. Friend is aware of this matter, but it is not his general practice to interfere with the curriculum offered by the schools.

Would the hon. Gentleman deny that it is the policy of the Minister to displace the three Rs the three Ps—paint, powder and polish?

I think that courses or lessons of any kind in good grooming are of great value not only to boys, but to girls. I hope, as far as the girls are concerned, that what make-up they use is of a durable quality.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the materials for this instruction are provided from public funds?

Teachers' Salaries


asked the Minister of Education when he hopes to make a statement concerning the new salary scales of agricultural teachers and teachers in farm institutes.

New scales of salary for these teachers have been approved by my right hon. Friend to come into force from 1st April.


asked the Minister of Education whether he will make a statement concerning his approval of new salary scales for full-time teachers in primary and secondary schools.

As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) last week he has now given formal approval to the new salary scales for these teachers which were recommended by the Burnham Committee.


asked the Minister of Education whether he has yet approved a new salary scale for part-time teachers in primary and secondary schools.

No, Sir. The remuneration of part-time teachers is left to the discretion of local education authorities.

Roman Catholic Schools (Cost)


asked the Minister of Education whether he will give an estimate of the total capital cost to the Roman Catholic community, to the Exchequer and to the local education authorities respectively, of carrying out the proposals contained in local education authorities' development plans for the improvement and replacement of existing Roman Catholic schools and for the building of new Roman Catholic schools to meet the anticipated increase in the number of schoolchildren.

As the answer contains a number of figures, and requires a somewhat lengthy and technical explanation, my right hon. Friend is circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I can summarise the result by saying that the net initial capital cost to the Roman Catholics of bringing up to standard existing facilities for nearly 400,000 children is, on present standards and prices, estimated to be about £28,500,000. The contribution of the Exchequer and of the local education authorities to this work would amount to some £45 million.

The cost to the Roman Catholics of providing new school places for an additional 170,000 children is estimated to amount to just over £23 million. The local education authorities would be responsible for the provision of the dining and certain other facilities and this is estimated to cost just over £2 million, of which the Exchequer would carry its share by way of grant, most of it at the rate of 100 per cent.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the grave difficulties of the Church communities in meeting the demand which will be made upon them in this connection? While all connected with this problem are thankful to the Minister of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary, for what has been done in an administrative way, will everything possible be done to promote an agreed settlement which will ease the burden on the Church communities.

We are always prepared to come to any agreement which is possible under the terms of existing legislation. In reply to the earlier part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I would point out that I do not think that this burden represents an impossible sum, bearing in mind the long period over which this expenditure will be spread and the fact that Exchequer loans will be available to help the Roman Catholics to meet the £28 million which I have mentioned.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my hon. and right hon. Friends are in sympathy with the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) as to the difficulties experienced by the denominations? Would he agree, first, that any adjustment made within the framework of the existing settlement should be made in the interests of all denominations alike and not in favour of one particular denomination? I think we should all agree on that. Secondly, would he be ready at any time to hear representations from hon. Members on this side of the House in support of the point of view put by the hon. Member for Eccles?

Clearly, my answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question was in complete agreement with the point made by the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever can be done must be done for all denominations. In reply to the second part of the supplementary question, my right hon. Friend and myself are anxious at all times to get help in educational matters which, after all, call very much for a co-operative effort especially in this House. If the right hon. Gentleman will approach my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education, no doubt any discussions which he suggests will be welcomed.

Will my hon. Friend ensure that no alteration is made in the 1944 settlement without agreement by all parties interested including the teachers?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, though this burden may or may not be an impossible one, it has turned out to be a good deal heavier than was envisaged when the 1944 settlement was made? Though I do not expect the hon. Gentleman to give an answer in response to a supplementary question on this matter, would he agree that there is a great distinction between keeping the essence of the settlement of 1944 and making detailed changes to meet changed circumstances which perhaps nobody foresaw at the time?

We have, in fact, made certain detailed changes, but it may be that they do not go as far as the bodies to which we refer would want us to go.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary take into consideration the difficulties which are now arising with local authorities because of the great influx of Irish people into large towns and cities,

Estimated Initial Capital Cost of Implementing Development Plan Proposals
Expenditure £000s

Share of initial capital cost to be met by:

"Maintaining facilities"New (additional) school places
Alterations to existing schoolsTransferred and rebuilt schoolsSubstituted schools and schools for displaced pupilsSpecial agreement schoolsTotal
Managers and Governors4,1507,40011,0755,75028,37523,150

*Local Education Authorities

Exchequer Grant to Managers and Governors4,1507,40011,07522,625

* Subject to grant aid from Ministry of Education.

The estimate assumes that all Roman Catholic schools will become aided or special agreement schools and that in general the development plan of the local education authority, even where it has not yet received my right hon. Friend's formal approval, represents the best practicable forecast of future educational needs. It should be remembered, however, that individual projects included in development plans require detailed consideration and approval when the time comes to carry them out, and the extent to which particular projects are eligible for grant under Section 102–104 of the Education Act. 1944. will depend on the circumstances at that stage.
The scope of the estimate is limited to the initial capital cost of building work. It excludes, for example, the cost of furniture and equipment, which is provided by the local education authority; any interest charges to be met by the managers or governors for loans raised to finance their share of the initial capital cost; and any sums accruing to the managers or governors from the sale of discontinued schools or from war damage payments.
The cost of the building work has been estimated on the basis of the current ceiling figures for net cost (£140 per place for most primary schools and £240 per place for most secondary schools). Allowance has also been made for external works, such as the construction of roads and paths on the site which are excluded in the calculation of net cost per place.
The local education authorities' contribution covers the provision of dining facilities, medical inspection rooms, playing fields, etc. The cost of this work, much of which is physically inseparable from the main building work, has been apportioned on the basis of percentage figures obtained from an examination of recent school building projects. In the case of special agreement schools the local education authority also contributes 50–75 per cent. of the capital cost of the rest of the building work.
It is impossible to forecast the length of time which it will take to implement completely proposal's in development plans; but the total expenditure given in the table is bound to be spread over a considerable number of years. Generally speaking, managers and governors of aided schools can apply for Exchequer loans in respect of their share of the expenditure included under the general heading of "Maintaining Facilities", such loans being available in normal cases for a maximum period of 30 years.
Once these capital costs had been met the only expense falling on the managers or governors would as in the case of existing aided or special agreement schools, be the cost of external repairs and of any further alterations which might be found to be necessary, and towards these they could expect a grant of 50 per cent. from my Department. All the other expense of maintenance, including the salaries of the teachers, would fall on public funds.

because Birmingham alone has 20,000 Irish people and the schools are so overcrowded that it is sometimes impossible to find accommodation?

I have always understood that the main export from Ireland into Great Britain has been not creamery products, but genius.

Following are the figures:

Commonwealth (Membership)


asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether His Majesty's Government will now set up machinery to ensure consultation with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and obtaining their approval before Colonial Territories which shall have achieved full self-government are admitted as equal partners in the Commonwealth.

It is already the practice of the United Kingdom Government to consult the Governments of the other members of the Commonwealth on such a matter.

While welcoming the prospect of new members of the Commonwealth, of whatever colour, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is true that, according to the Prime Minister of South Africa, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has "already cordially conceded," apparently unilaterally, the demand of West Africa to be accepted into the Commonwealth when she has achieved full self-government?

That is a question that ought to be directed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies or to Dr. Malan, but not to me.

Is it not clear that the principle of our helping, guiding and directing colonial peoples towards self-government within the Commonwealth, and therefore necessarily as members of the Commonwealth, has been so long established that, although other Dominions may perhaps wish to make suggestions on points of detail, there is no power now to stand out against that principle as a principle?

I was asked whether we have, in fact, consulted other members of the Commonwealth when new members have been admitted, and the answer is that we have. It is the ordinary practice so to do.

Yes, but it can only be on detail. There cannot be any right to bject in principle to a policy so long laid down.