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Higher Technological Education

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement upon higher technological education.

In July, 1953, I invited the University Grants Committee, in consultation with the universities and colleges concerned, to work out plans for the development of higher technological education outside London, informing them that the special effort which the Government had in mind would have to be contemplated in a small number of places, though normal developments elsewhere were not ruled out. The universities and colleges, recognising the national need for more applied scientists, responded willingly to the invitation to submit proposals.

The University Grants Committee has examined these proposals with the assistance of their Technology Sub-Committee and have reported on them to me. After considering their recommendations, I have approved plans for developments outside London in which the main centres will be Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, but in which provision is also made for development elsewhere. These developments will take place at institutions already in receipt of recurrent grants on the recommendation of the Committee. To increase the number of university institutions concerned with higher technological education would involve a dispersal of effort which the Committee does not advise. It has therefore been unable to recommend a change in the status of the Bradford Technical College.

The implementation of these plans, and those for the Imperial College of Science and Technology, will necessitate some increases in the resources available to the University Grants Committee, both for recurrent and non-recurrent purposes, in the last three years of the quinquennium 1952–57. I am now considering the timing of these developments, some of which, I hope, will start in the next academic year, and I will in due course make a further statement.

Will the Chancellor give some consideration to the right of the granting of a doctor of engineering degree by the Loughborough Technological College?

I do not doubt that the University Grants Committee and others principally concerned will observe the hon. Member's Question.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the announcement of the improvement of technological education in Glasgow will cause very great satisfaction in that city? Will he give some indication of the amount of money which will be voted for this purpose?

Not at this stage. That is the answer to the last part of my right hon. Friend's supplementary question. In due course I shall be making a further statement.

Will the Chancellor say why he makes no reference at all to technological education in the Principality? Is nothing to be done in that direction?

I am sorry for the English wording, but my statement said that

"provision is also made for developments elsewhere."

Is the Chancellor aware that his announcement will be received with very sincere regret in Bradford? Surely the claims of the Bradford Technical College are outstanding? Bradford is at least the centre of the wool textile industry, which is vitally important to our export trade. We feel very strongly that the strong representations which have been made, especially to the University Grants Committee, should have received more favourable consideration than the statement of the Chancellor indicates. Will he please go further into the question of the very special claims of the City of Bradford, having regard to its industrial importance to the welfare of this nation?

Yes, I am aware, personally—and I am sure that the University Grants Committee was also aware—of the special position of, and the excellent work done by, Bradford Technical College. The difficulty was to establish an organic relationship with an existing university, a problem which I have put personally to the City Council of Bradford by letter. Further, I think that the hon. Member will be aware that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has taken special steps to see that the resources provided for Bradford are adequate for that city to continue to carry out the fine work which it has already done.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that representations for the upgrading of Bradford Technical College have been going on for many years, and that his present announcement will cause profound dissatisfaction in that city? Can he say how long it will be before he will be able to review this matter, with a view to giving some kind of priority to these institutions over a period of years?

The position of Bradford will remain before us. I feel that under the arrangements made by the Minister of Education Bradford will be able to continue its good work. I can certainly guarantee that the position of Bradford will not be overlooked.

Whilst welcoming the general statement made by the Chancellor, I must associate myself with the remarks made by other Bradford Members and say that I also regret very much that the Chancellor has not seen his way clear to do something definite for the Bradford Technical College.

I sympathise with the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock), but I cannot but act on the best advice given to me.

Can the Chancellor say whether the financial grants to Glasgow—which we all welcome—will involve the question of university status for the Royal Technical College, Glasgow?

That matter has been under discussion between the University of Glasgow and the Royal Technical College. I understand that an amicable arrangement has been reached which will be satisfactory to both parties.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the special pleas which have been made for Bradford will not in any way make him change his mind in respect of Leeds? Is he aware that his statement will give great satisfaction in Leeds?

When deciding the priorities of development in these various places, will the Chancellor consider very carefully putting the development of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, near the top, since we in Scotland realise the great importance of this institution to the many industries of Scotland?

Yes. Special mention was made of this development in my statement, and I think the hon. Lady may be satisfied that we have the matter well in hand.

In view of the complete absence of any reference to Wales, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

In view of the absence of reference to the north-east of England, I beg to give notice that I shall also raise this matter on the Adjournment.