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Orders Of The Day

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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REPORT [22nd July]

ESTIMATES, 1954–55.

Resolutions reported,


1. £179,079,578 for the following services connected with Education in England and Wales, namely:—

Class IV, Vote 1, Ministry of Education£
Class IV, Vote 11, Universities and Colleges, etc., Great Britain14,582,500

2. £47,080,588 for the following services connected with Kenya, namely:—

Class II, Vote 8, Colonial Office714,660
Class II, Vote 9, Colonial Services (including a Supplementary sum of £227,000)26,475,928
Class II, Vote 11, Development and Welfare (Colonies, etc.)12,500,000
Army Estimates, Vote 3, War Office3,200,000
Air Estimates, Vote 3, Air Ministry4,190,000

3. That a sum, not exceeding £7,763,558, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sums necessary to defray the charges for the following services connected with House of Commons Accommodation, etc., for the year ending on 31st March, 1955, namely:—

Class VII, Vote 2, Houses of Parliament Buildings (including a Supplementary sum of £34,000)283,000
Class VII, Vote 1, Ministry of Works4,676,960
Class I, Vote 4, Treasury and Subordinate Departments2,044,132
Class I, Vote 2, House of Commons (including a Supplementary sum of £126,000)759,466

Civil Estimates And Supplementary Estimates, 1954–55

Class I

4. That a sum, not exceeding £10,365,176, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class I of the Civil Estimates.

Class Ii

5. That a sum, not exceeding £29,829,015, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class II of the Civil Estimates.

Class Iii

6. That a sum, not exceeding £61,174,808, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class III of the Civil Estimates.

Class Iv

7. That a sum, not exceeding £38,948,212, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IV of the Civil Estimates.

Class V

8. That a sum, not exceeding £414,358,720, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class V of the Civil Estimates.

Class Vi

9. That a sum, not exceeding £188,990,110, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VI of the Civil Estimates.

Class Vii

10. That a sum, not exceeding £40,720,866, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VII of the Civil Estimates.

Class Viii

11. That a sum, not exceeding £243,444,973, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VIII of the Civil Estimates.

Class Ix

12. That a sum, not exceeding £90,428,420, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IX of the Civil Estimates.

Class X

13. That a sum, not exceeding £269,683,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class X of the Civil Estimates.

Estimates For Revenue Departments, 1954–55

14. That a sum, not exceeding £189,229,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in the Estimates for Revenue Departments.

Ministry Of Defence Estimate, 1954–55

15. That a sum, not exceeding £16,154,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Defence, expenses in connection with the International Defence Organisations, including a grant in aid; and a grant in aid of certain expenses incurred in the United Kingdom by the Government of the United States of America.

Navy Estimates, 1954–55

16. That a sum, not exceeding £207,407,900, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Navy Services.

Army Estimates, 1954–55

17. That a sum, not exceeding £303,300,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Army Services.

Air Estimates, 1954–55

18. That a sum, not exceeding £141,810,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for Expenditure in respect of the Air Services.

[ For details of Resolutions, see OFFICIAL REPORT, 22 nd July, 1954, cols. 1694–1700]

First Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


3.52 p.m.

The small amount of time devoted to education in this House bears no relation to the interest shown in the subject by parents and others in the country especially at this time of year when children are coming home with their school reports and when the results of examinations are becoming known. I hope that today we shall have a debate about education, and that during the debate we shall hear something from the Government about what their plans are—that is, if they have any plans. All we know up to now is what is contained in two sentences of the Tory Party's last General Election manifesto, which said:

"In Education and in Health some of the most crying needs are not being met. For the money now being spent we will provide better services and so fulfil the high hopes we all had when we planned improvements during the war."
It did not take the Tory Party and the Tory Government very long to show how they were going to fulfil those very high hopes, because the first action of the Tory Government was to effect economies in education. First of all, we had Circular 242, which made local education authorities make some very petty economies. After that, we had Circular 245, which gravely affected the school building programme. Indeed, the most that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Education appears to have done since that time is to stop others doing what they wanted to do.

Many of the speeches made by the right hon. Lady during her first two years of office were devoted to showing how clever she was to have put the roofs on schools the walls of which had been built by her predecessor. It is a great pity that nearly all our education debates, both in this House and outside, have to be concerned, not with education itself, but with bricks and mortar; but that is inevitable, because we must have buildings in which to put the children before they can be educated.

However, I hope that during this debate we are not going to spend all the time arguing who did what when, nor, I hope, are we going to have those unfair comparisons such as the one made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government in the debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates on school buildings on 1st July, 1953, when he compared the present Government's school building for 1952 with the average for the five years before 1951. I think it is self-evident that such a comparison is very unfair. How can we compare 1952–53—having been told that the building position has so improved that we can set the builders free and take off all controls—with the years 1947–48, just at the end of the war, when we had so many shortages?

We on this side of the House have a record in regard to education of which we can be proud. In spite of the increase in the birth-rate, and in spite of the raising of the school-leaving age, which brought hundreds of thousands of extra children into the schools during our years of office, the number of pupils per teacher fell in every year.

Let us compare the Report of 1951 with that of 1953. While the Report for 1951 was signed by the right hon. Lady, it in fact covered 10 months of the period when the late Mr. George Tomlinson was in office and only two months when she herself was in office. That Report covered the Labour Government's last year in office and showed that the number of pupils per teacher was still falling, and that the number of over-large classes had been decreased. I will not go into the details of the figures, because they are there to be seen by all.

How different is the position shown in the Report for 1953, the one issued a few weeks ago. From that we see that during 1953 the number of pupils per teacher was rising, and that the number of over-large classes had increased. In short, the true test is not the amount of building undertaken; it is that, whereas under the Labour Government the situation was steadily improving, under a Tory Government it has been getting gradually worse. The effort is not matching the problem. I hope that in this debate we shall look at the position as it is today, and at what is being done to effect an improvement in the next few years.

I wish, first, to talk about building. Circular 245, which was issued in February, 1952, laid down conditions under which local authorities could build schools. Those conditions were very stringent and represented the bare minimum. Many schools were deferred altogether. At the time, local authorities and educational bodies protested that Circular 245 represented too little. However, that is the basis on which we have been proceeding since 1952.

What has happened during this past year? Recently, local authorities have been sending to the Minister the estimates of the amount of school building which they think is the bare minimum necessary to satisfy the needs of Circular 245 for the next year. It has been calculated that, altogether, the local authorities have estimated that £88 million of buildings are needed by 146 local authorities in order to meet this bare minimum.

Up to the present time, the Minister has replied to 75 of these local authorities, who between them wanted £42 million for building during the coming year. The right hon. Lady has cut the £42 to £24 million. Indeed, it looks as if the Government have decided that £45 million to £50 million is the maximum which can be spent on building for the next year, and that the estimates of the local authorities have to be cut down to that amount. It is quite clear that this sum is not sufficient to provide even the bare minimum as laid down in Circular 245.

I could give the House many examples of what this policy has meant in the various localities. Dr. Alexander, the secretary of the Association of Education Committees—no debate on education would be complete without a quotation from him—said, when these figures became known:
"We shall be seeing the Ministry about the cuts. It is disturbing that when Britain is supposed to be winning through, school-building restrictions are worse than at any time since the war."
That is the statement of the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees.

If we look at the actual results of what has happened in the localities, this is what we see. Nottingham asked for £1 million worth of school buildings. It is to be allowed to build only £445,000 worth. Two new secondary schools, two new primary schools and the completion of one infants school, are to be allowed, but three secondary and two primary schools have to be postponed altogether. Northumberland asked for £1,360,000 worth. That has been cut to £432,000. It asked for 12 new schools for 4,590 pupils. Only four schools for 1,670 pupils have been allowed.

This is the sort of thing that is happening all over the country. What I should like to impress upon the Minister is that the local authorities know the situation. They know the local problem. They have to deal with it in their own localities. They see the children needing schools but know that they have no schools in which to put those children.

I should like to ask the right hon. Lady this question. Did the various local authorities in their estimates go beyond the requirements of Circular 245? If they did not, is the Minister now prepared to admit that Circular 245 is not now the Government's policy, but that there are some more stringent regulations? That is what we want to know from the right hon. Lady this afternoon. I believe that the time has come—nine years after the war—when we ought to be getting beyond Circular 245. The fact that nearly all our new schools have to be built on new housing estates means that those children who have to live in old houses are condemned also to be educated in old schools, whereas those children who have the advantages of living on a new housing estate live in new houses and have new schools.

Recently when we were discussing the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill, the Minister of Housing and Local Government said that he was surveying the houses and dividing them into certain categories. There were, first, the slum houses which ought to be knocked down. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Why didn't you pull them down?"] Well, who built them? Then there were dilapidated houses that needed money spending on them, and the structurally good houses which really needed some modern amenities. I believe the time has come when we need a similar survey of our schools.

There are, first of all, the slum schools, the black-listed schools, which are absolutely beyond hope and which need to be replaced as soon as possible. It has been estimated by various educational bodies that from £1 million to £2 million a year spent on replacing obsolete buildings would work a veritable miracle, but the right hon. Lady told a deputation that this sum could not be spent. Nevertheless, there are the slum schools that need pulling down as quickly as possible.

Secondly, there are the structurally good schools. In some cases those are three-storeyed buildings, built at the end of the 19th century, and, alas, built to last for too many years. We have thousands of them with us today. We have to remember that these schools are not coming down in the next two or three years. They are structurally good and will probably be in use for another 30 to 50 years. They are dark, they are dreary, they are airless. They are sometimes badly equipped and full of old furniture. I believe that we now need a bold plan to do something about them.

First, they need light and air. Those can be obtained by the simple process of knocking out a few bricks and putting in a few windows. All schools should have first-rate sanitary fittings and hot water. It is amazing, too, what a few coats of light-coloured paint can do. When I go round I am always struck by the number of old schools which have old furniture and old equipment. I was in a school in Leeds only a fortnight ago, when I was distributing the prizes. The school was built in 1883, and the local education authority decided to give that old school a really first-class library. At a cost of £750 there is in that old school as good a library as there is in any of the new schools that we have since built.

I know that the right hon. Lady may reply that it is up to the local authorities to apply for money for minor capital projects in order to do this work. Of course it is, but let us see what happens when they do apply. Last year, requests for supplementary allocations for minor capital projects were received by the Minister from 102 authorities. Only 14 of those were allowed in full, 81 in part, and seven were refused altogether. I have here a few figures to show in detail the kind of thing that has happened. They are figures given in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley).

Southampton County Borough wanted to spend £42,690 on these minor capital works, but the right hon. Lady cut that sum to £13,600. Hampshire wanted to spend £94,470 on these minor works; she cut it to £40,000. Portsmouth wished to spend £28,844 she cut that to £9,165. So we could go on. Indeed, much of the money which is being allowed and which should be used for these minor capital projects is today having to be spent by local authorities on extensions to existing school buildings.

When we think that this small amount of money which she is refusing to allow the local authorities to spend represents work that would make life a little more tolerable, we can see the extent of the economy of this Government on education. Children who live in the back streets of our industrial towns should be educated in more cheerful schools, and the Minister should do all that she can to encourage that.

I pass to rural schools. Here there is a different problem—that of reorganisation. Half the children in our rural areas are still in unreorganised schools. For them it is not a choice of which secondary school they shall attend. For them there is no secondary education at all. The Association of Education Committees has estimated that it would need the expenditure of £3 million to £4 million a year for five years to complete the reorganisation in the rural areas. However, when a deputation put that to the right hon. Lady, she refused the request. Yet, let us not forget that this same Government are spending £2 million on capital works for commercial television and £750,000 each year for ordinary expenditure— and this is not to benefit the children of our country. Indeed, this money is being spent on a project which all educational bodies agree will be to the detriment of our children.

I feel very strongly about this matter, because until I came to this House I spent my time in council schools. I first entered a council school when I was 2½ years old. I took myself to the school at the back of our house. I passed on from there to the grammar school, and, except for a period at college, I taught in council schools up to the day that I came here. I know what it is like to teach in an old school with only a partition between one class-room and another.

Yes, and sometimes with no partition. I know what it is like to try to concentrate on arithmetic when the class next door, which is separated by a thin partition, is having a lesson in music. I know what it is like to go out of those old buildings into the really beautiful new schools, and I know the difference that this can make. I am not unique on this side of the House; many of my hon. Friends have had this experience, but this kind of thing is practically a closed book to hon. Members opposite. I doubt whether many of them have ever been in a council school except to speak at General Election meetings.

May I appeal to the hon. Lady not to add insults to her very weak case? There are hon. Members on this side of the House who had the whole of their education in council schools and who have a very long and honourable service in council administration. The hon. Lady does herself and her party no good by imagining that they and they alone have experience in these schools.

I agree that there are one or two unique persons on the opposite side of the House. I said that most of them had not been educated in council schools.

In the next few years the effect of the increased birth-rate will be passing from the primary to the secondary schools. Overcrowding in any school is shocking, but in the primary school there is a certain amount of equality in that all children in one area are in the same school. But we have different types of secondary school—the grammar, the modern and the technical. Today the classes in grammar schools are much smaller than the classes in modern schools, and I am wondering what is going to happen when the increased number of children pass from the primary schools into the secondary schools.

Will the grammar school classes still remain as small as they are now, or will all the overcrowding take place in the secondary modern schools? If that is so, and if very few new grammar schools are built, there will be another result of this policy; there will be a reduction in the percentage of children of 11 years passing to grammar schools, and already in some cases the percentage of children passing to grammar schools is extremely low.

Surely this is a time to consider the whole question of secondary education in this country. We on this side of the. House are quite honest about it. We believe that it is a wrong principle to select children at the age of 11 for different types of school. We say quite honestly that we believe in the comprehensive school, which is, after all, merely a secondary school to which all children in a district go, and where they find their special bent and follow it as long as they and their parents wish.

Last week I visited Kidbrooke, which I think is very unfortunate to be starting its life in the midst of political controversy. Kidbrooke is a marvellous place, a place where there are normal and specialised courses for the children. There is a pre-nursing course. There are all kinds of practical courses such as millinery, tailoring, pottery, art, and commercial courses, plus all the academic courses found in a grammar school, such as languages, classics and so on, and children can proceed from there to the university.

One hon. Member opposite who was in the party that visited Kidbrooke last week was honest enough to say that he was most impressed by Kidbrooke and that if he had only realised what a comprehensive school was, he would not have opposed it. It is as well to know what one is criticising before one criticises, but there has been a great deal of misrepresentation about this matter, and I am sorry that it has been brought into the realm of party politics, because I regard it as an educational issue. I am a politician but, as I say, I taught children from the ages of 11 to 15 for some years before I came here, and my belief in the comprehensive school is derived, not from my membership of the Labour Party, but from my experience with children aged 11 to 15.

What about the attitude of the Minister in this respect? She and her party have repeatedly said that we should allow experiments in the comprehensive schools, and she offered no objection to London or to Coventry. Her method was much more subtle than outright opposition. She thought how clever she would be and she went and made a misleading speech to the Conservative women, which incited them to send in a petition, and so she had the grounds for refusing to close Eltham Hill Grammar School, which was to be incorporated in Kidbrooke. I believe that the right hon. Lady's conduct in this matter has been most reprehensible. She approved Kidbrooke, but what was the use of approving it if, when the school was built, she sabotaged the whole idea by making sure that the school was not going to be fully comprehensive? This was the back-door method.

Will the right hon. Lady tell the local authority at Coventry and the other authorities that are making experiments in comprehensive schools whether or not she is going to do the same sort of thing in their localities, because it would be much more honest to say so now than to wait until the school is ready for opening? Her action in respect of Kidbrooke has meant that the academic type of child can be found only in the classes catering for the 11-year-olds, and it means that it will be some six or seven years before a true assessment of the experiment can be made. Nevertheless, Kidbrooke will succeed in spite of what she has done.

The truth is that the right hon. Lady wants Kidbrooke to fail, and it is not difficult to see why. I was reading in the "Schoolmaster" on 18th June an article by someone who had visited Kidbrooke school, and the article ended by saying:
"On a doorstep of a nearby prefab I asked one of the 3,000 local parents her views on the new school. She summed it up neatly. 'Well, I mean,' she said, 'it's giving them all such a chance, isn't it?' "
That is the answer. This school is giving all a chance, and it seems to be against the philosophy of the Tory Party to give everybody a fair chance.

As I say, my belief in the comprehensive school is based on educational grounds, and I believe that the Minister's opposition is nothing but party political prejudice against giving all children a fair chance. The schools of Eton and Harrow are really comprehensive schools. [Interruption.] That is quite true. I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister would have passed the common entrance selection test if he had not gone to Harrow.

This clash with London is only one of the many clashes that there have been between the Minister and the local education authorities. Never in the history of the Department has the Ministry been so unpopular with local authorities. Only last week we had an example, which was reported in the newspapers on Friday morning, of what happened in North-amptonshire. I have here a copy of the "Daily Mirror." These are quotations from the actual words used by responsible members of local authorities:
"Councillor Harold Taylor said: 'One cannot express oneself too strongly about her arrogant attitude. The sooner this person is dismissed from her post the better for the whole community.' "
He went on to state what had happened with regard to Northamptonshire.

I want to be very clear about this. The Minister has powers of direction under the Education Act, 1944. In the past there has been too much permissive legislation, which has resulted in unequal opportunity. For that reason, I agree that the Minister should have powers of control and direction if we are to have a national system of education, and backward education authorities are to be brought up to standard; but those powers must be used in the interests of the children. Under the right hon. Lady's administration they are being used against the best interests of the children, in order to prevent local education authorities from being progressive.

Many other questions arise from the Report that we have had from the Minister. I cannot deal with all of them. I am sure that my hon. Friends will be dealing in great detail with some. Her Report discloses the fact that, although there was an increase of 240,000 children in our schools last year, the number of school meals served dropped from three million to 2,750,000. I should like to hear something from the Minister about training college grants. These grants for intending teachers are inadequate, and there is great variation among the different authorities. On the whole, they compare very unfavourably with grants for students going to universities. I should also like to hear more from the right hon. Lady about technical and technological education, and what was meant by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his statement last week. A very important report on this subject has been published by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

I know that the right hon. Lady will say that the things I have been asking for today would cost a lot more money, but every Government—the Tory Government of today and the future Labour Government—must face the fact that more money must be spent on education. Allowing for the fall in the value of the pound, for increasing costs and for the increased numbers of children in our schools, we are not spending as much per child as we were before the war. We must face that fact quite squarely.

It is essential that local government finance should be looked at in relation to educational expenditure. In the Tory Party's programme, "Britain Strong and Free," page 28, contains these words:
"A review of the impact of the cost of education on local government finance should be undertaken."
The party opposite have been in office for three years, but up to now there has been no evidence that such a review is being undertaken or is likely to be undertaken in the near future.

I think I have said sufficient to show that we have no confidence in the ability of this Government to provide education. This Government put brewers, steel owners, road hauliers and advertising firms before children. They have no plans for education; indeed, I have never heard the right hon. Lady make a speech about education. Meanwhile the position gets worse, and there seems to be no grasp of the gravity of the situation.

The right hon. Lady and the Parliamentary Secretary remind me of people in a type of old-fashioned school which is now happily extinct. The right hon. Lady is like the old-fashioned type of headmistress who used to survey the world from her high desk. She gave orders and entered into no arguments. Her word was law. She thought that everything she did was right, and never even considered that it could possibly be wrong. Then we have the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not know whether he is going to speak today. Those of us who have been teachers recognise that he is like the teacher who cannot keep order, and whom the children love to rag. He walks about with his head in the air, in a world of his own, and has not a clue whether what he is doing is right or wrong.

Meanwhile, we have the Government, who are content to leave everything to the headmistress—rather like the old-fashioned school governors—provided that she does not spend too much. They do not care very much whether everything is right or wrong, because their children are not going to the school anyway.

In short, the Minister is complacent; the Parliamentary Secretary is incompetent, and the Government are indifferent. The tragedy is that these are the people who are in charge of six million of the nation's children—our most precious national asset. It is clear that the country cannot afford to tolerate them any longer, and that they ought to leave the charge of these six million children to people who really care about education.

4.26 p.m.

I listened to the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) with great respect. She promised that she would speak about education, but she appeared to me to devote practically the whole of her speech to talking party politics. That is a regrettable fact about the approach of the Labour Party to education. They give so little thought to the essence of education, and devote themselves almost exclusively to seeking to steal votes at the next Election by misrepresenting the facts.

It was said that a parent of stern Victorian ideas went to his boy's headmaster the other day and said, "I do not know what you are teaching my boy, but I do not like it, because he seems to be enjoying it." That illustrates the vast change which has taken place in the schools in the last 50 years. For all that the hon. Lady has said she will surely agree with me, in her heart, that with all their known defects present-day schools are happy places. We should give credit to everybody, at whatever level, who is helping to make them so.

The hon. Lady insinuated that I did not know what the inside of a council school looked like.

The hon. Lady may shake her head, but that is what she said about the Tory Members sitting opposite her, and I must take her as meaning what she said. I happen to have been a school manager for many years. This is the season of the year when school prizes are given, and I should say that a good many Members on both sides of the House have recently been in and out of schools, at prize-givings, to see the children or, as I was last week, at a presentation to a primary school headmaster who was retiring after more than 25 years in that position.

I think the hon. Lady will agree with me that one can tell the quality of a school almost as soon as one steps over the threshold. I had a specially interesting talk with this headmaster—not so very far away from this building—after the presentation ceremony, and he told me of the continuous improvement which he had noted during his 40 years' teaching service, both among the children and in the schools. The barefoot child has disappeared, at any rate in London. I was particularly struck by his remark that the 11-year-olds had nowadays acquired an ease and poise in talking to grown-ups which he would have hardly imagined at the beginning of his teaching service.

What we have to do in the schools is to create happiness and achieve high standards, and if both sides of the House can agree on that, then we shall have a common starting point. We must debate among ourselves the questions of principle that divide us, such as, for instance, the organisation of secondary education, but I submit to the House that it is no service to the cause of education to inject so much bitterness as the hon. Lady sought to engender today. Bitterness and true education do not mix, any more than oil and water, and it will be an excellent thing if in the rest of this debate we can address ourselves to the real educational problems which stare us in the face.

I grant this to the hon. Lady at once. We on this side are as fully aware as she is of the very many shortcomings in the schools which still have to be made good. But the real business of education is not done in the Ministry of Education, with great respect to my right hon. Friend, or in local education offices, or in Parliament. The real business of education goes on in the class-rooms, on the playing fields, if schools are lucky enough to have playing fields, on the playgrounds and in all the out-of-school activities.

All the jargon of educational administration, and a great deal of the party abuse we throw at one another, can do more harm than good. Perhaps the House knows the story of the small boy who was found sobbing on the pavement outside school by an old gentleman who came by. The old gentleman sought to console and encourage him, and to show him the way in, and he said to the boy, "This is the boys' entrance." The small boy, still sobbing, replied, "Boohoo. I am not a boy. I am a mixed infant." That illustrates how remote most of the jargon in which educational reports have to be written is from the real life of boys and girls.

What each Government since the war has had to do is to set about the task, first, of catching up on the war years and, second, of providing for the enormous bulge—there is no means of escaping that horrid word—consequent on the increase in the birth-rate since the war. The success of my right hon. Friend in tackling both those tasks has been a magnificent achievement, and everybody who has studied the facts and figures knows that that is so. The number of teachers has been going up by nearly 6,000 a year. I think it was in 1951 that the National Advisory Council said that we would need an additional 40,000 teachers by 1960. That was a bit of an under-estimate, but it is perfectly clear, as things are going at present, that we are going to have far more than the additional 40,000 teachers by 1960. The entries to the training colleges at the present time are running at a satisfying level.

That means that, as we have very nearly reached the peak of numbers in the primary schools, the time is coming close when it will be possible to reduce the size of classes—either to reduce the size of classes, I should say, or to fill the gaps by letting in larger numbers of the under-fives. That is an important question that will have to be decided. My own sincere hope is that we shall choose the first alternative, because I attach overwhelming importance to the primary school as the very foundation of education, and I do not believe that adequate education can be given in classes of the size that are now all too common in primary schools. I hope, therefore, that the House, without distinction of party, will go on record as saying that we must not throw the doors wider and wider open to the under-fives as the bulge passes out of the primary schools, but rather that we must use that opportunity to decrease the numbers in classes.

After all, however one may argue educationally or politically about the independent schools as distinct from the State system, what we all know in out hearts is that the independent schools at the present time possess one indisputable advantage, and that is that there, and there alone, parents can be sure of their children being educated in sufficiently small classes to make education a reality. I bitterly deplore the size of the gap between the two, but let us, for heaven's sake, aim primarily at bringing down the size of classes in the State schools, rather than abuse the independent schools for being able to do what in present circumstances the State schools cannot yet attain.

The hon. Lady spoke a great deal about school building. The answer to all that she has said is in the graph which she will surely have studied on page 40 of the new Report of the Ministry which came out the other day. If hon. Members will look at that graph they will see that it indicates the rate of progress of educational building since the war. The line which shows the contracts completed suddenly takes an upward turn at the end of 1951, just about the time when my right hon. Friend took office. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but that is the only way in which they can possibly answer what I am going to say, because it cannot be answered by any logic of their own. The facts are entirely on my side.

The rate of school building was too low in the years immediately after the war and school buildings were being finished too slowly in 1951, and what my right hon. Friend took over was a situation very nearly comparable to that which existed in house building in 1947, when there were far too many houses under construction and too few being finished. It was the same with the schools, and my right hon. Friend took precisely the correct action to ensure that the schools were finished and that the number of school places provided went up swiftly.

I have here the figures of value of work done on school building, and they certainly contrast strangely with the impression the hon. Lady sought to make. The total value of work done on school building in 1951 was approximately £35½ million. In 1952 it was about £36½ million. In 1953 it was £40 million. That is the achievement of my right hon. Friend, who has been vehemently attacked from the other side today for not doing enough to provide additional school places.

The hon. Lady said that Circular 245 gravely affected the school building programme. It did gravely affect it. It gravely affected it for the better. There is only one real test of success in the school building programme. It is the number of extra school places provided. In 1951, the last year of the Labour Government, the number of places provided was 159,000. In 1952, under my right hon. Friend, it went up to 218,000, and in 1953 it was 260,000. Perhaps my right hon. Friend, at the end of the debate, will be able to give even more recent figures.

The hon. Member quoted Circular 245. If he has read that Circular, he will have seen that it confirms the deliberate decision on the part of the Government to reduce the steel allocation for school building, and this is emphasised throughout the Circular.

Before the hon. Gentleman answers that point, may I ask whether he denies the figures which I have quoted to show that classes are getting larger?

I well know that classes are getting larger; so they have been for a number of years. It is the remarkable achievement of my right hon. Friend that, although over a short period of years the total number of children in the schools is in process of going up by no less than 35 per cent., nevertheless it has proved possible to provide a place for every additional child going into the schools. The hon. Lady made great play with the alleged cuts in the building programme.

The hon. Member referred to the steel shortage, which we have now fortunately overcome. I am referring to the overall result, which has delivered the goods. The hon. Lady spoke of cuts. She must know, because she has had the benefit of a splendid education, that it is possible for any local authority to show an apparent cut in its school building programme if it asks for a sufficiently large amount. Let me give an illustration. The London County Council, under the control of members of her party, in 1949, asked for an educational building programme of, if I remember rightly, approximately £7 million, which was twice as much as it had managed to do in any previous year, and the late Mr. Tomlinson cut that programme to something in the neighbourhood of £4 million. I do not remember that there was then the same violent outcry from hon. Members opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, there was."] The fact remains that that £4 million, which showed an apparent cut of £3 million on what was asked for, turned out to be a perfectly reasonable decision because it represented the maximum which the authority could do.

I have no doubt whatever that if the House could analyse each of these cuts put forward by the hon. Lady, it would be found that in each case what the Ministry is permitting is an amount commensurate with the actual powers of that particular local education authority to start.

Surely the hon. Member recollects that when the cut was made by Mr. Tomlinson, the county council made a number of representations to him. Indeed, I think that my hon. Friend was a member of the delegation. It is true that the council said that in a particular year it might not be able to spend the whole of that amount, and that is why the council proposed a three-year programme, which has now in fact been granted.

I was not a member of the delegation, and I do not think that the hon. Member was a member of the county council in those days. I used that illustration to show how a cut takes place when a local authority in fact asks for more than it can manage, much as it might like to be able to carry out the whole programme for which it asked.

The hon. Lady asked for a survey of the older schools. I am all for surveys if the technical people are available to carry them out, but I doubt whether we have come to the stage when we have sufficient technical men readily available in the local education authority offices and in the Ministry to undertake a fact-finding nation-wide survey of this kind. I would say that it was better to concentrate upon getting on with the job of improvements as quickly as possible.

The hon. Lady criticised my right hon. Friend for having cut down the minor works programmes of some of the local education authorities, but the hon. Lady forgot to tell the House that the total of the minor works programmes approved by my right hon. Friend for the current year is considerably higher than the programmes approved in any year during the Labour Government, so that the local education authorities are getting a better chance now than ever before to continue with the so-called minor works—the smaller items to bring the schools up to date.

Perhaps the hon. Member did not read the right hon. Lady's answer to me last week, which showed that most of the money that is being allocated for minor works was to be used for extra class-rooms and not for improvements.

I will leave my right hon. Friend who, I believe, is winding-up the debate, to speak for herself on that point. I think I am justified in pointing out to the hon. Lady that the minor works programme approved by this Government is substantially higher than that approved in any year by the Government which she supported.

All these very remarkable figures—the increase in the number of teachers, the vast increase in the number of school places provided, the expenditure met out of public funds, larger than ever before—all this is being attained despite the financial crisis of 1951, which we fortunately survived, and despite the pressure of an unprecedented defence programme on men, materials and money.

I hope that we shall not have later in the debate any suggestion that the solution for all educational stringencies is a drastic reduction in the defence programme. The schools cannot be insulated from what is going on elsewhere. The most shattering blow which our educational system ever sustained was the war of 1939 and the evacuation of the schools which was then thought necessary. It certainly brought forth the magnificent powers of adaptation and improvisation which both teachers and local education authorities, but particularly the teachers, possessed, and it provided some memorable incidents in the history of education; but any Government action which might in the least degree increase the risk of war by neglect of its defence programme would be a grave blow to the future of British education.

Education is a living part of the nation. I am troubled when I hear people at educational conferences and elsewhere arguing that we ought to go on doing all that we want and providing everything that is needed in the educational sphere, whatever cuts that might necessitate in other directions, and whatever the total demands on our national resources. I think that there is great truth in the saying:
"We shall not be able to make much progress with these tasks as long as our livelihood as a nation is insecure."
I quote that from "Challenge to Britain." It seems to me exactly to express the situation which my right hon. Friend and her colleagues had to meet in 1951. At that time our livelihood was insecure. It is now far more secure, and we are seeing the fruits of progress.

I come to the second part of the hon. Lady's speech about the future organisation of secondary education. My own belief is that up to 1939 we tended to concentrate too large a proportion of our efforts on the secondary grammar schools, and that one of the great problems which needed to be tackled after the 1944 Act was how to give full educational opportunity to those boys and girls who were not of grammar school type.

For that purpose all kinds of experiments were clearly desirable. When the hon. Lady expressed her regret that comprehensive schools had been brought into the realm of party politics, I was reminded that it was her party that did it, by laying down that the meeting of the need for new secondary schools by comprehensive schools, and comprehensive schools alone, was their party policy. Inevitably that made it a party issue, because we on this side think that, before the comprehensive school has been tried out, it is educationally wrong to say that by no other possible way whatever can the problem of providing good secondary education for the non-bookish children be solved.

I have seen some new secondary modern schools built by various authorities which believe in them, and I am certain that they will give a first-rate education. I have seen places where the education authority have taken over old senior elementary schools, adapted them intelligently and created what are in effect new secondary schools, of which both teachers and children are proud. I want to see those experiments continuing along with the experiments on comprehensive schools which my right hon. Friend has sanctioned.

The hon. Lady astonished the House by saying that my right hon. Friend had sabotaged Kidbrooke, and that Kidbrooke would not now be a typical example of a comprehensive school. Kidbrooke as planned by the London County Council could not have started off as a typical example of a comprehensive school. The idea of the council was to give Kidbrooke a flying start by bringing into it the whole of the grammar school tradition, with the transfer of a whole existing grammar school of girls. That is not a normal comprehensive school. It will not be possible all over the country to create comprehensive schools by destroying a grammar school at the same time. These new schools must stand on their own feet. They must not stand on the legs of grammar schools.

Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that we cannot start a comprehensive school without taking children from somewhere. The hon. Gentleman suggests that it is all right to take children from a modern school but not from a grammar school.

We must build up a comprehensive school as we build up every school. It is not in the least reasonable to carry over into a new school the whole of an existing first-rate grammar school and then to say that it is a typical example of a comprehensive school.

I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). This is precisely what was happening in connection with one of the central schools and two or three modern schools. The idea was to bring the grammar school children in at the same age and to have all the children at the same level.

The London County Council and other authorities may think that it is possible to sweeten the success of the comprehensive experiment by stealing for that purpose the grammar school tradition from an existing school, but that is not the way in which we are accustomed to seeing new schools built up.

Would the hon. Gentleman deny to the Anglesey County Council, which has taken all the children of 11-plus into its new comprehensive school, the right to do what it did? Would he have kept out the old grammar school established in Holyhead? Surely, to give a fair start, we must take all the youngsters in the area whatever their I.Q.

I have not seen Holyhead. I think that the hon. Gentleman has visited it, as has my right hon. Friend. I was addressing myself to the hon. Lady's specific reference to Kidbrooke, about which I know.

I return to the confusion of thought which appears to exist among hon. Members opposite in their advocacy of comprehensive schools. We have even had the statement from the hon. Lady that Eton and Harrow are comprehensive schools. If they are, they are far more highly selective than any of the comprehensive schools which we are talking about.

Educationally Eton and Harrow are comprehensive schools; socially they are not.

I have heard the argument adduced, in favour of the very large London County Council schools, that Manchester Grammar School has 1,500 boys, and is highly successful. But they do not fill Manchester Grammar School just by bringing in all the boys in a certain area of Manchester. No boy gets into that school unless he has considerable ability at the time of entrance. Also, schools like Manchester Grammar School have a much higher staffing ratio of masters to boys than the proposed comprehensive schools of which we are speaking.

I shall be intensely interested in the comprehensive school experiment. There appear to be a number of questions quite unanswered as yet by its advocates. Kidbrooke and other schools may provide the answers. My sole objection is to the attitude of the party opposite, as a party, in saying at this stage, before we know the answers to those questions, that the answers are bound to come out right, and therefore we can put all our eggs into the one basket. It was the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland which some years ago condemned roundly the very large comprehensive schools which are being advocated now in London and elsewhere.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be fair to the Advisory Council and say that it came down in favour of the comprehensive school.

Yes. I have not been ruling out the comprehensive school. I am inclined to think that the questions which have to be answered are going to be less difficult in the case of the smaller schools recommended in Scotland than in the very large schools of which we have no previous experience.

In the debate for and against, it always seems to me that the strongest argument for the comprehensive school is that by that means the 11-plus examination might be got rid of. No one likes that examination in itself. The question we have to ask is whether the comprehensive school will get rid of it. I can see that happening if in fact in an area there are nothing but comprehensive schools. But so long as there remain any schools, such as direct grant schools, county grammar schools and so on, to which some parents wish to send their children from the primary schools, I cannot see how some form of 11-plus examination is to be eliminated. Therefore, what would appear at first sight to be the strongest argument in favour breaks down when it is analysed.

The hon. Lady said that more money must be spent on education. More money is being spent on education, but I agree that more must be spent. One of the finest achievements of my right hon. Friend is that during a time of the greatest financial stringency, when it was not certain whether this country could be sure of its livelihood, she protected the educational system against all those critics who wished to influence her in the direction of cutting a year either at the beginning or at the end of school life.

The period of school attendance has been preserved, the number of places has gone up, the number of teachers has gone up. There is still great progress waiting to be made, however, and the one thing in which I join the hon. Lady is her contention that before long we must have some change in the system of local government finance. I do not see how local education authorities can continue to provide out of the rates the amount of money which will be required, unless there is some alteration in the present Exchequer grant formula.

The hon. Lady will see that I am seeking as wide a measure of agreement with her as I can, and I do not want to end on any contentious note. I hope I have proved to the House that there are hon. Members on this side who are as deeply interested in education and in the children as are hon. Gentlemen opposite, and who are prepared to work as hard, and sacrifice as much, for the good of the children and the teachers and the schools.

5.1 p.m.

I am grateful to you. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for allowing me to follow the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke), because he and I have so many experiences in common that it has fallen to my lot to notice whither he was leading on this matter of the comprehensive school. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) put it correctly when she said that this party has not made that a matter of party politics.

On the other side of the river, the large council which tries to run London education for the benefit of its children came to the decision that a comprehensive school education system was the right one for the future. In laying down the lines of its development plan, it said that all schools would eventually be comprehensive schools. That plan, however, was timed to take place over a long period. We estimated then 18 years, but it is now much more likely to be 30 years or longer. The hon. Gentleman and his party, in their great desire to see an experiment, were therefore being given an opportunity to see a long-term experiment.

If in the course of those years the comprehensive school idea falls down, it is obvious that no authority and no Minister will allow it to proceed. It may be that a number of schools are succeeding at the moment because the bulge in the birth rate, the building of new housing estates, etc., make it necessary to provide new schools. It is only right, therefore, if the London County Council is to provide new schools, that they should be on the same principle. So I get a little tired of hearing the party opposite talking constantly about experiments, when that is the most that the London County Council or any other authority is able to do at this time.

Only the other day I listened to the Minister, in answer to a Question about the Bec School, saying that while she had turned down the proposal to enlarge the Bec Grammar School, she had nevertheless approved a proposal to build a comprehensive school in the north of London. It is hardly right of the right hon. Lady to give the impression by such a statement that she is doing one thing with one hand and doing exactly the reverse with the other; that is to say, keeping the schools nicely and evenly weighted, because the school in the north of London has nothing to do with the enlargement or incorporation of any existing grammar school, and it is to be built simply to take in the children of the neighbourhood and will not interfere with any of the eight adjacent grammar schools.

Therefore I suggest, when the Minister gives answers, that she ought not to give such examples, and I hope she will refrain from doing so in the future. The fact of the matter is that in so far as the London plan is concerned, the Minister has approved two comprehensive schools which do not affect grammar schools and has turned down the two comprehensive schools which affect grammar schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East, was right when she wanted to know from the Minister, for other areas as well as the London County Council area, what is to be her attitude in all cases where existing grammar schools are concerned.

I imagine the right hon. Lady will be interested to learn that her action in regard to Kidbrook has resulted in enormous propaganda value for the London County Council. It has been an advertisement such as the London County Council could not have contrived for itself. The result has been that up to 20th July 10,000 people—members of the public, local authorities, educational bodies, children and parents—have inspected the building at Kidbrooke. As I think the Minister knows, the reports in the Press are full of eulogy and I doubt whether we should have had such Press reports had it not been for her action. I doubt whether she is happy about it, but I can assure her that we are.

I also want to tell the Minister that in the London area a demand is coming from parents for the comprehensive type of education; so much so, that where we have interim comprehensive schools set up and working in the old buildings, the heads of the schools are being obliged to turn away as many children as they are able to accommodate. I can tell the right hon. Lady also that in the case of one, the neighbouring grammar school has 100 spare places, whereas this particular comprehensive school is overflowing and cannot accommodate all those who wish to come.

I think the Minister knows, too, that throughout the country there is developing in the secondary modern school so-called a desire to have a grammar school side. This is a natural development which has been helped only in the case of London, Coventry and one or two other areas, whereas what is happening in other parts of the country is that the educational authorities who are continuing to build schools catering for the old segregated type of education are going against the stream and in years to come will find themselves in a detrimental position.

Apart from the question of the comprehensive school, the hon. Member for Hampstead spoke about the lack of educational matter in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East, but I think he forgot that the entire idea of the comprehensive school is one of educational value. I remember a few days ago reading a letter in one of the evening papers in which I was extremely interested, because it ran thus:
"Of my many contemporary dullards at a fee-paying school I can recall an eminent economist, one director of the largest steel firm in India, three generals, one air commodore and one ex-Attorney-General. None were brainy enough to win scholarships, nor were 99 per cent, of the remainder who, I have no doubt, are doing equally sound jobs of work."
That is the argument in which we who have been teachers believe, and we have been advising our party to go that way.

We have found that the average children, the great bulk of those whom we teach, are almost invariably responsive to teaching and to the educational opportunity given to them. That is what parents who are able to pay fees have found. That is why, as the hon. Member for Hampstead said, the independent schools have a value. Parents can pay to have their children taught in smaller units. We are anxious that the average child should have his or her opportunity. That is why we want to reduce the size of classes and to provide that these children shall have every possible range of course so that they may find their bent and interests.

Since the Education Act of 1944 came into operation, I have been increasingly worried because the opportunities for parents to pay for their children's education have diminished. I appreciate that those who can afford to pay are members of the community and that their children should be educated just as much as anybody else's children. That is why I am concerned that, more and more, the children who go to grammar schools, the key to which is the passing of an entrance examination, are 100 per cent. brainy people.

These schools are becoming schools where children are segregated strictly according to their brain-power. That did not happen in the old maintained and aided grammar schools. It was the normal thing for a large percentage of parents to gain entry for their children by the payment of fees. Those children were average and below-average children, and they helped to make the grammar schools into normal, comprehensive schools.

All these are educational arguments. These are the things that we want. We were told on the wireless today about the shortage of qualified engineers, and yet there are in the ordinary schools average boys whose abilities could be brought out by proper education and who could very well become qualified engineers. There are in the grammar schools also boys who have passed the common entrance test but who do not take readily to the academic side and do not want to learn for learning's sake. They might well be given a vocational, technical course which might ultimately lead them to science and engineering. We must not leave these sources of great power and ability untapped. We on this side of the House say that the comprehensive schools provide the opportunity whereby we can employ to the fullest extent the capacity of all our children.

I ask the Minister to look also at the question of maintenance grants. Some of us who are keen on education and are teachers try to encourage children to stay in school for a fifth year. In the London area we inaugurated a scale of grants for such pupils. It was a modest scale in those days, a matter of £30 a year where the parental income did not exceed £150. The Minister will realise that £150 was a small sum for all except a widow or someone on retirement or infirmity pay and therefore there were not many cases.

The scale descended until at a parental income of £300 the grant was only £6 a year. At that time the average wage was £5 8s. 6d. a week, and we paid out in 3,421 cases. The number of children in that age group was 8,411, which meant that we were giving a grant in 40 per cent of cases of children who stayed in school over the age of 15 in that year.

The Minister knows that the purchasing power of money has declined and in consequence wages have gone up. The average wage in October was £8 1s. and today, instead of grants being payable in 3,421 cases, only 641 grants are paid and yet there are 11,521 children in the age group. Therefore, the percentage receiving grants today is five instead of 40, and only an infinitesimal sum of money is paid out to help these children.

London County Council has asked the Minister to be allowed to restore grants, and the parental incomes on which they are based, to figures roughly comparable with those which applied when the scheme was inaugurated. The Minister is showing herself extremely unsympathetic to the idea. I hope that she will not wait very much longer, because all educationists know that there are boys and girls who are very desirous of staying for that extra year of school life but who cannot ask their parents to make the sacrifice when no grant is made towards the cost.

I ask the right hon. Lady to look again at these scales and also at the further scales for pupils of between 16 and 18 years who are suffering from the same difficulties. I ask her to act without waiting for the report of the Departmental Committee which is investigating the question of why so many grammar school children leave before the age of 16. We are concerned with average children and we want to encourage them to stay on and complete their course of study. I hope that the right hon. Lady will do her utmost to restore the old position.

5.19 p.m.

I wish to make only one point in following the suggestion of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), and that is in agreeing with her that it is time that we reviewed the whole field of secondary education. I wish to review one particular aspect of that large field—that connected with independent schools. I have an interest to declare in this subject. Probably I suffer from two major defects in the eyes of hon. Members opposite. One is that I was educated at what I believe to be the greatest independent school in this country, Eton College. The other defect is that I am at present, and have been for some time, a director of a private school company concerned with the education of 200 children. Therefore, if I make some comments on independent schools, I hope that hon. Members will realise that I do so with some knowledge and experience—albeit limited—in this field. In putting these forward hon. Members on both sides might be prepared to accept them as a somewhat independent view on independent schools.

I have found it difficult to understand why, when hon. Members opposite are fighting an election, they attack independent schools with very great vehemence on the assumption that independent schools represent today one of the last remaining strongholds of privilege. Indeed, they said in their party paper "Challenge to Britain" that they do not like
"The existence of … 'prep' schools, and 'public' schools with small classes and high social prestige."
Yet, when it comes to speaking to a debate such as this, when we are all—myself included—endeavouring to be moderate and constructive in proposing our views, they make a point of referring to the situation in the independent schools with some alarm, saying that they are disturbed about the standard of education and equally disturbed, as was mentioned several times when the Minister was making her statement in the House the other day, about the standard of the teachers in independent schools.

I should like to say one or two things about the standard of teachers and the standard of independent schools. I do not believe that we can expect to increase the standard of any school or the standard of any educational system necessarily by legislation or by standardisation. It seems that I differ from the views of many hon. Members opposite in their assumption that if we either bring all children together into one comprehensive school, or legislate that certain subjects shall be taught otherwise the schools will be closed, we necessarily improve the standard of education.

We obviously must have men and women who have the greatest possible knowledge to teach in all schools. They themselves must be fully educated in that they have had a good background training in the subject they are trying to teach. But it is not only a question of having a diploma. Today nearly everyone seems to demand that before anyone should be allowed, or considered eligible, to teach children he should have a particular certificate or diploma as having achieved a certain standard. That is very desirable, but it is not the whole story.

What we now tend to ignore is the fact that not only do teachers need to have considerable knowledge, but they also need to have considerable character. They must be able to put across to their children the knowledge they have and be able to understand the workings of a child's mind. I believe very strongly that there is too much accent today on standardisation and the belief that we can achieve some remarkable degree of equality merely by legislating for it. I do not believe any more that we can have standardised schools than that we can have standardised teachers. In view of what the Minister said on 1st July in this House, when referring to the introduction of Part III of the Education Act by May, 1957, or as near as possible, we are moving forward to a period in the history of education in this country when we shall gradually do away with independent schools. As far as I understand it, we are trying to move towards a system whereby no schools will be tolerated unless a certain agreed minimum standard is maintained in that school. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear."] Many hon. Members on all sides of the House obviously think that extremely desirable. I think it is desirable only insofar as we should expect a high standard; I do not think it is desirable that we should demand a high standard.

If we are hoping to preserve a wide freedom of choice for the individual parent in selecting the school to which he wishes to send his child, there should be the choice, such as now, of comprehensive schools, grammar schools, secondary modern schools and also independent schools. This free selection should continue. I do not see why we should aim at bringing all these different schools and ways of education into one comprehensive school and doing away with the independent schools, which have given so much towards the education of the children of the country.

No more than standardised schools or standardised teachers can we have standardised pupils. I would stress that every individual is born with different qualities and different gifts. Every effort must be made to draw out from the child the particular qualities or gifts with which the child is born. That is the whole purpose of education, and that is what the very word means—to draw out.

It is extremely important that we should appreciate that, since we have children of varying degrees of competence, varying degrees of skill, gifts and qualities, we cannot possibly hope either to level them all down or to level them all up, because they are different entities. Therefore, the greatest degree of competition we can possibly have in the educational system is to the advantage of the children whom we are trying to educate. That is why I am firmly convinced that we must maintain the present free system of independent schools and of enabling parents to exercise their right of choice in sending their children to the schools they think fit for them.

How does the hon. Member relate that to the parents with very little money, or none at all?

We wish the parents with limited means to be able to send their children to the local schools within their particular area so far as possible. In advocating this point of view for the independent school, I am not in any way trying to say that we should have only independent schools. I should like to see the standard of education in the State schools raised to the same level as now exists in independent schools. Then we could get full equality of opportunity such as hon. Members opposite want.

How can a docker with three children, who is earning £7 a week, hope to send his child to one of these independent schools, however good that child may be?

The answer is that the State is concerning itself with trying to provide an equally good system of education for the children of those parents who cannot themselves afford to send their children to a fee-paying school. That is the whole purpose of State education. That is the reason why we—on both sides of the House—believe in this system. But that is not an excuse, because we believe in that, to destroy something which we already have, which is extremely worth while, namely, first-class independent schools which are saving the taxpayer money and also producing children who are well educated and have a wide outlook on the problems of the world.

We have heard a great deal in this debate about the large sums of money now being spent. It is spent on buildings, on transporting children from home to school and back again, etc. We all know extraordinary cases of this sort of thing where a child could easily cycle to school, but a bus is provided for him. We have all heard of many cases such as that. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where?"] In a village in Hampshire. I shall send the hon. Member details not only of that case but of a considerable number of others, if he will kindly apply to me later.

As we are spending large sums of money on education, a sum which is constantly increasing under the auspices of the present Administration, which we welcome, it is all the more important we should make quite certain that we are getting value for the money we are spending. I do not believe that we can necessarily judge that value by the standard of glorious new buildings, by the amenities which children have or the beauty of their surroundings. The right way to judge the value we are getting for money is by the standard of education which is now being given; how well educated are the children who are now going through the system; and do we accept the fact that all this money now being spent is well spent when it is reported that there is an increasingly higher standard of illiteracy in this country today. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not true."] I must draw attention to these facts, because certainly when we spend money on such a large scale as we are spending it today on a system of education, we must be absolutely certain that we are getting full value for it.

The hon. Member is saying that it is a fact that illiteracy has increased in this country. Has he any evidence of it on which he is basing that statement?

I ask the hon. Member if he will kindly refer later to the report of what I did say. So far as my memory goes, I asked, "Are we prepared to accept the spending of these sums of money when it is reported that there is now an increasing state of illiteracy?" I am merely asking that question and I am asking on the basis of various reports which are available. I would draw the hon. Member's attention to last Sunday's "Observer," in which there was a small article referring to the teaching of reading to children today. If the hon. Member will read the first paragraph of that article he will see that my rhetorical question—or direct question—was not completely unsupported by outside evidence.

I feel very strongly that the quality of education which our children are now getting in the State-aided and State schools is nothing like high enough. There is a tendency today to concentrate on the aptitude-test type of education, on the practical type of education of requiring children to go and dig in the sand or play with some bricks or something of that sort. There is very little accent today on the training of the minds of children, and it is in the training of the mind that the most important field of education exists.

I do not think at all—

—that there is a very good prospect for the children of this country if we continue to ignore the training of the mind which can be given through the teaching of poetry and the teaching of classics; also, we must not ignore the teaching of history, English history in particular. I do not for a moment say that the training of the mind is being ignored wholesale throughout the State schools and is only being appreciated in independent schools. I only say that there is a tendency in all education today to lean towards the practical side of teaching, towards what I call the operational side of teaching, and for there to be a little less emphasis on the old system of the Three Rs and the mental training which is the real basis of education.

Hon. Members opposite have frequently shown themselves extremely concerned about the desirability of certain teachers in the independent schools. When the Minister made her statement on 1st July about independent schools there were a number of questions put to her asking that certain undesirable teachers should not be allowed to carry on their work in independent schools. Those questions did not only refer to one specific aspect of undesirability; they referred by and large to teachers in independent schools who had not particular diplomas or particular qualifications or certain certificates such as are possessed by other teachers who have been through training colleges, etc.

I should like to ask hon. Members, before they attack a system such as that of the independent schools, which is working well and producing good results, to look, first, to the standard of teaching which exists in the State schools. I would go further. If hon. Members think that there are many undesirable teachers in independent schools, I would remind them that some hon. Members also think occasionally that there are undesirable teachers in the State schools. It would be a much better principle to put that system right first.

For example, there are undesirable teachers and undesirable teachers; and one type of undesirable teacher which I do not like to see tolerated in State schools is the teacher who is definitely a Communist, who is politically biased to the extreme Left and who uses his particular office to promulgate policies and beliefs and to influence the minds of children in policies and beliefs which are wholly unacceptable to the people of this country.

The hon. Member has made a very serious accusation against the teaching profession of this country. Will he now be perfectly honest and quote to this House one single case in which that has occurred?

First let me dispel any fears which the hon. Member might have had in assuming that I was making an accusation against the teaching profession. I have been extremely careful to say that while many hon. Members may like to think that there are undesirable teachers in independent schools, there are some, who include myself, who think that there are certain undesirable teachers in State schools. I was in no way making any attack whatever on the general standard or qualifications of teachers in the whole State system of education.

If the hon. Member wants one specific instance, I will give it. I do not wish in any way to overstep the bounds of Privilege, and being a new Member of this House I am not competent to judge how far I can go in this particular instance. I should like to assure hon. Members that I have the complete chapter and verse of this particular case and I should be prepared to give it to hon. Members who are interested. I know the complete history of this case, and after the debate is over I shall be glad to give it.

I will wait for the hon. Member outside the Chamber after the debate is over to receive the particulars, to give them to the national Press.

Before the hon. Member continues, may I ask if he has considered the advisability of giving his information to the Minister earlier on? Is he further aware that it is not our job, as hon. Members of this House, to be a "Gestapo" over anyone?

I was confident that the remarks that I made would not be wholly acceptable to some hon. Members opposite, and I was careful to make quite certain that, if necessary, I could support what I said with facts. Having inquired of one or two of my hon. Friends, I am now only too anxious to give details to the House about which school I was referring to; and in doing so I am perfectly aware that my right hon. Friend, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, have had details of this particular case for some considerable time.

On a point of order. Since the hon. Gentleman is about to name a school which is bound to suffer —and all the members of the staff of that school are bound to suffer—is it within your discretion, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to ask him to exercise a little care?

It is not a point of order. We are completely privileged here, and the hon. Member may say anything he likes.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden) is privileged to say anything he likes in this Chamber.

On a point of order. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden) was making this statement in reply to a direct challenge to name the school.

There is no point of order. The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West is entitled to continue.

I have no desire to press this matter in open debate. But if hon. Members opposite persist in bringing this challenge, and are not prepared to accept my word that I know of this specific instance, and that it is one which has been brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend; if they insist that I should name this particular school, I have no alternative but to do so. The school to which I am referring is the Acton County School for boys, where the headmaster is a known member of the Communist Party; has frequently spoken at Communist sponsored meetings, and is primarily responsible for promulgating—in conjunction with some members of his staff, but by no means all—Communist ideologies and Communist ideas. I am extremely sorry, but I hope—

The point of order is this. Is it right for the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden) to mention a school in connection with the subject to which he is now referring without stating that this matter has been investigated by the county council which is the education authority concerned—

With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, how can you know that it is not a point of order until you have heard it?

I cannot give way any more. There are other hon. Members who wish to speak, and I am trying to bring my remarks to a conclusion in order to allow hon. Members on both sides of the House an opportunity to answer the points which I have raised.

On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to make accusations about what a teacher has done in school and then to offer no evidence—

Order. Hon. Members are privileged in this Chamber. That is not a point of order.

If the hon. Lady and other hon. Members will permit me, I will now bring my remarks to a conclusion. I absolutely agree that one should never generalise about any issue and that is what I have been careful not to do. I merely say that in trying to right whatever wrongs there may be in our educational system in this country I would ask hon. Members opposite to appreciate that not all the wrongs exist in the independent schools; and that they should first look at the State schools and try to make that system of education work well before attacking and destroying something else which is extremely valuable in this country.

5.46 p.m.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden) said at the commencement of his speech that he had two major defects. Having listened to his speech, I am certain that he was modest in his claim. Apart from that, I think that we have just witnessed in a debate on education what I would call "smear tactics," a practice which seems to be growing not only in our own country, but in other parts of the world. I think that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, who has made his first contribution to a debate on education in this House, ought to be ashamed of himself. When he reads the report of his speech tomorrow in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I hope that he will decide to keep his mouth closed during future debates on education so long as he represents a Bournemouth constituency.

I think that it was a dreadful smear to say something about a man's political activities. In our community a man has a perfect right to be a Communist. He has a perfect right to be an anti-Communist, outside—

He has a perfect right to to be a Conservative or a member of the Labour Party. Of course, he has no right to indoctrinate children with certain theories. One of the charges made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West against the headmaster of this particular school is that he indulged in political activities outside—

May I interrupt my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) to ask if he is aware that the authority concerned investigated this case and found that there was no evidence of any indoctrination of children?

It is obvious that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West has not the courage to stand up and apologise and withdraw his remarks, especially when a responsible statement has been made by a member of the authority concerned. I think that we may leave it that the hon. Member, who is a product of the expensive school which he mentioned, is thoroughly ashamed of himself.

Let us now turn to the debate, and from the interlude by a product of an expensive independent school. I wish to concentrate on the Ministerial policy as it affects the point of view put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). She was charged with introducing politics into this debate. I think that was the view of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) who spoke immediately after her. It is a rather strange doctrine that if one approves of the Minister of Education, one is being non-political, but if one opposes vigorously her policy, then one is introducing politics into our debate.

I will not go into the details mentioned by my hon. Friend in her excellent speech. I repeat what I have said previously. I believe the Minister is a grey shadow over the educational system; the Parliamentary Secretary is just a shadow. The Minister has consistently created an atmosphere which has harmed the educational system. Circulars 242 and 245 and the Minister's attitude towards adult education, which was challenged in this House, are instances of the policy which has been pursued for the past few years. It is accepted in the educational world that the present Administration has created an atmosphere which has worked against the true interests of the schools and of the profession. It will be a good day for the educational world when there is a change in the Administration.

The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) talked about the Minister's critics. Many of those critics are members of the Conservative Party. The hon. Member referred to those who would have cut the school age. Surely he has read the Conservative pamphlet "One Nation." to which the Chancellor has written a preface, in which there is a suggestion that the difficulties facing the educational world should be met by a cut in the school age. Surely the hon. Member has read the speeches of his hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) who, in this House, advocated a cut in the school age. Surely hon. Members opposite remember Lord Waverley, when a leading figure in the Conservative Opposition, chiding the Labour Government for raising the school age. The critics have all along been members of the Conservative Party, and time and time again they have suggested that the Labour Government should not raise the school leaving age and they now advocate a cut in the school age in order to meet the difficulty of overcrowding in school.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) is not in the Chamber, might I say that I am certain that he never advocated a cut in the school age. He said that if it was found necessary to cut, he would prefer it to be done in the first year rather than the last year.

I am glad to hear that what was said by the hon. Member for Ealing, South was prefaced by an "if," but I was under the impression that the hon. Member advocated a cut as a solution to the problem if the Minister had to face the difficulties in relation to steel, finance and other resources which operated in 1952. Conservative Members of another place time and time again advocated a cut in the school age.

There are many children in many parts of the country who are unable to get places at the age of five because of overcrowding. I sent my small boy to a new L.C.C. school, and that is already overcrowded. That is a measure of the urgency of the problem. I am glad that my hon. Friend focussed attention on the 1953 Report; it shows that there has been an increase in overcrowding in schools. For that reason, there is no ground for complacency if we are to make a real attack on the problem.

I want to concentrate on the field of technical education. I believe that the Government have been complacent. The Chancellor recently announced proposals for giving assistance to certain technical colleges. Although the Minister of Education has no direct responsibility for the University Grants Committee, I wish we could have some specific information about the direct financial assistance to be given to higher technical education. We ought to have something more than the vague statement that we were given. I admit that it was difficult for the Chancellor to give details, but he promised that we should be given more detailed information.

I hope the Minister will give us some information about the policy of her Department and the Government for this important part of education. I know that in 1952 the Minister issued Circular 255 and that there were increased grants up to 75 per cent, for approved courses in technical education, but in view of the Chancellor's statement we ought to have something more specific. We ought also to know whether or not the policy of the Government has changed and whether or not the Government will really seek to give university status to some of the technical colleges which have been mentioned. It is important to have a decision on this matter. After all, many committees have reported. We have had the Select Committee, and we have had a series of reports from private committees. We have also had important reports from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. It has just issued a report on higher technological education.

We ought to know what the Government's policy is. Will there be an improvement in status? I welcome the assistance which has been mentioned, but I want to know the amount of it. It is not sufficient just to give grants for approved courses. I want more money spent on building in relation to technical colleges. I want the recommendations of the Select Committee implemented.

What is the Minister going to do about technical education in relation to the Select Committee's 12th Report which we had in July, 1953? I am sorry that we have not had a full debate on it. I know that the Minister and her Department have replied to the recommenda- tions, but I should like to know what they are really going to do about technical education. Is the Department really going to implement the findings of the Select Committee? The findings were carefully surveyed by a committee, and I have no doubt that they have been carefully studied by the Department. However, as yet, I see no development.

To take the first recommendation, has the Ministry decided to re-examine the problem of building in instalments with a view to eliminating to the maximum extent the financial loss involved? That was the Select Committee's first recommendation. What is the Department going to do about it? The appendix to the 15th Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, which indicates the Minister's policy is certainly not adequate.

What about the other recommendation that the Minister should consider the suggestion that money for technical colleges should be allocated to local authorities on a five-year basis? Can we have some information about the Ministry's policy in that respect? May I know how much will be allocated for technical education this year? Various committees tell us over and over again that we are lagging behind in this matter. The Report on higher technological education published by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee shows how we are lagging behind many European countries and America in this field.

After all, it is an important matter, and we should have an indication of the Government's policy about it. It is a matter which goes beyond the field of education; it is a matter which affects industry. If we are to win the trade battle, we must have more craftsmen and technicians. If we are to develop the Colonial Territories, we must have a greater supply of technicians and experts, geologists and agricultural scientists. These are the people we need if we are to develop those territories and if we are to win our economic battles. Therefore, this is not a matter to be dealt with purely from the educational point of view, but something which concerns our general economic future, and I think it is important that the Minister should give us today an indication of the Government's policy and should tell us what the Government are to do about implementing the Report of the Select Committee.

I compliment my hon. Friends who sat on that Committee, as well as hon. Members opposite. I only wish that they had taken a wider survey of technical education, because I am certain that we are not pursuing the proper policy in this respect. If we examine the tendencies in the wider field of technical education, we can see that there are still grave defects. After the war, the Percy Committee, which investigated the subject of higher technological education, thought that, through the Education Act, 1944, we should build up a great system of modern secondary technical education. We know that has not been done, and we know the reasons why.

I think we can see where the emphasis was placed from the figures given to me by the Minister herself in reply to a Question which I asked her on 22nd February this year, when I asked for the present distribution of children aged 11 and over in the secondary grammar, technical and modern schools, respectively. The figures she gave me were these: secondary grammar, 511,008; technical, only 79,194; and modern schools, 1,133,488. So we can see that the ideals that were envisaged by the Percy Committee in its Report, which placed such emphasis on the Education Act, 1944, have not been realised. There has been no extension of technical education in the secondary field. I believe that the Government should concentrate on this, although I am not suggesting that we should build immediately new tech- nical schools—

I think it is an exaggeration to say that there has been none, because in many of the best of our secondary modern schools a good part of the education is technical. I do not say that it is completely satisfactory, but a great deal of technical education is being given in secondary modern schools.

I think my hon. Friend mistook what I said. I said that the new secondary modern technical school has not developed. The secondary technical school was expected to develop from the old junior technical school, and it has not done so. Therefore, I am suggesting that the Government should encourage more and more emphasis on technical education in our secondary modern schools, in our comprehensive schools and even in our grammar schools.

I believe that there is too much emphasis in the grammar school on the more formal side of education. For example, there is too much emphasis on pure science, as distinct from applied science. This is a serious problem, because it is related to the supply of technologists. Time and again, committees have surveyed this problem and have argued that we must tackle it now in the school. We must have more children in the grammar schools reading applied science and going on to the universities to take the various technological courses which the universities provide.

I hope we shall try to encourage a technical bias more and more in our new schools, and certainly in our comprehensive schools. I wish we had more technical facilities—the provision of more facilities for technical education on the ground floor, so that these schools will feed the various colleges and universities which provide technological education. In that way, we shall be making a contribution to the improvement of our trade and helping towards a solution of our economic problems by improving or increasing the bias towards technical education in the various institutions that we have.

The Minister has announced a policy which I mentioned in relation to the technical colleages and various grants given to them, and consideration has been given by the Select Committee to the national colleges. I see that there is to be a new national college of technology this year. I hope that this process will continue and that the Minister will constantly review the matter. I hope that the position of the Imperial College of Science will be improved, and that we will certainly use it as a national college to provide these expert technologists we require in various fields of industry. There must be no slackening in this field. There must be a higher proportion of our financial resources now used for education diverted for the purpose of technical education. I am quite prepared to argue that if it comes to a point at which we have to make a decision as to priorities or the allocation of resources I would certainly advocate that we should now concentrate on technical education, in view of the need to expand our economy and develop our industrial efficiency.

My last point is something quite different. We have been told today that we are to have a large experiment in the use of television in our schools, and I understand that 77 local authorities have agreed to co-operate. A resolution was passed recently by the Conference of the Association of Education Committees in support of this proposal. I trust the Minister will watch the use of television in the schools. I know that education has lost the battle in the field of commercial television, and I am sorry that the Minister of Education has condoned the action of her Government in that direction. I think that commercial television is a potential menace to the community, but also I believe that even publicly controlled television can be a menace if it is not watched properly. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Lady will watch very carefully the use of television in our schools.

I confess that I am alarmed at the effect which television has in the wider field of education. I have been reading a most interesting book by Dr. Ernest Green, entitled "Adult Education: Why this Apathy?" The book contains an educational survey which has been carried out by various adult bodies, and, here and there, we see already how television has affected liberal studies provided by adult education. It may well be that, if we use it properly, it will encourage such studies, but I hope that the Minister will watch it, because I think it is important, and she will certainly need to watch the quality of the programmes.

Children's television is very good, and the programmes are much better than the adult programmes provided by the B.B.C., but, even so, I think it must be watched, because there is a great danger in the wider field that it may make people become placid spectators of a machine which provides them with entertainment, whether it be publicly controlled or commercial.

After all, what is the purpose of education? What are we really seeking to do in our desire to improve our schools? Even though we may have political differences, we are trying to provide a system which will enable the products of that system to think for themselves and become gracious men and women living in a democracy. Therefore, I believe that television can be a menace, because it can create an uncritical mind, a passive mind, and it can create a mind which accepts irresponsibility and which runs away from responsibility. In that sense, it can be very harmful to our modern democracy.

I have tried over and over again to emphasise this aspect of education as something which both sides of this House must watch carefully. We must watch this growth of centralised propaganda, this seeking to capture the minds of people who passively accept. Make no mistake; if our democracy is lazy in that sense, it is doomed. For that reason, our educational system should be an intellectual barrier against this propaganda. Therefore, the Minister of Education should be most active in surveying carefully these new instruments which are intruding themselves very vigorously into our school life. She must watch carefully the experiments of each local authority, and, if necessary, she must take action if she feels that any experiment can harm the community by creating that unthinking mentality which is so disastrous to democratic thought and action.

6.12 p.m.

I think most hon. Gentlemen on this side will agree with the concluding remarks made by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) in regard to television. The hon. Gentleman has deployed one of the principal arguments against having only one system of television and in favour of our Television Bill.

This is the first time in the nine years during which I have had the honour to be a Member of this House, that I have ventured to try to take part in a debate on education. I am not a pundit on education. My experience has been limited to being manager of a small village school, although I am proud of having some teaching in the blood. Having decided to attempt to speak in this debate, I have been agreeably surprised to find what a lively debate it has been. My recollection of the debates on education to which I have listened in the past, is that they were confined much more to the technicalities of education and very much less to polemics between the parties. I do not wish to carry on those polemics. I want to go straight on to the technicalities.

One of the most important things to bear in mind, in order to follow the present situation in education, is the subtle distinction between an all-age school and a comprehensive school. They both seem to me to cater for children between the ages of five and 15; but at the comprehensive school it is still later. There is an attempt in both those types of school, to divide the children into classes according to the number of teachers available for the subjects that have to be taught. I concede a point to the Opposition. I have no doctrinal prejudice against comprehensive schools. I suppose I was at what may be described as a "comprehensive" school. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which was that?"] I was at Oundle, which had not only the public-school range of ages from 14 to 19, but also a preparatory school, where the ages ranged from nine to 14. There we had a comprehensive school. There is no doubt about it.

It is, however, no use trying suddenly to create comprehensive schools by bulldozing away other schools, which are to some extent comprehensive in themselves, like some of the grammar schools which have been mentioned here this afternoon. It is no use removing good existing schools merely to make a big, new comprehensive school. Let us be fair to the Minister. Her position has been made clear. She too has no doctrinal prejudice against the comprehensive school, but she sees the dangers if she sanctions a comprehensive school every time a request is made to her.

The all-age school is essentially a rural problem. Mine is essentially a rural constituency, and I have a small criticism to offer. One cannot glean this from the Report; but I guess that my constituency is at a bigger disadvantage than any other rural area in regard to all-age schools. There is nothing in the Report to show this, and I can only go by my own observations; and such as I can glean from other people. So far as the nation-wide situation is concerned, the Report, speaking of village schools generally, says, in paragraph 14, page 8:
"At the same time these schools may suffer from a number of serious disadvantages. More than a quarter of them are still all-age schools, so that two or three teachers, and not infrequently one, must try to do justice to the needs of 10 age groups, with the problems of satisfactory classification that they present. This is a challenge to the skill and adaptability of the teachers to which many rise with distinction."
We all know of examples of teachers in village schools who rose with distinction. They have done so for generations. The Report goes on:
"It may well be asked whether it is a task that the average teacher can reasonably be expected to achieve successfully."
Let us acknowledge that, in spite of honest endeavour by Socialist Governments and three years of still greater endeavour by my right hon. Friend, there are two main weaknesses in our present educational system. One is that in the rural areas we have too many all-age classes and the other is that in urban areas we have too much overcrowding. What is the result on the minds of the people living in rural areas? They know something about the overcrowding in the towns, but they have it firmly fixed in their heads that teaching is better in the towns because there are fewer all-age schools.

What shall we do about this problem? Are we to go on pouring all the money we can into improving the situation in the towns and making education there still more attractive by overcoming the overcrowding? That is one way of doing it, but what will happen? We shall entice people still further from the country to the town. Country people will near of more money being spent on the town schools, of classes being reduced in size and more comprehensive schools being built, while there is no change in the villages. The drift from the country to the town will be aggravated, if that process goes on.

I suggest to my right hon. Friend that she should concentrate to a much greater extent than has been done so far, either by herself or by her predecessors, on reorganisation of schools in the villages. I believe I shall have the backing of all hon. Members representing rural constituencies in making that suggestion. The problem has been the subject of special study quite recently by the Association of Education Authorities, which has made a survey. It has come to the conclusion that the cost of completing rural reorganisation is between £15 million and £20 million of capital expenditure. They have suggested that, if that money was spread over five years, and we spent between £3 million and £4 million a year, the reorganisation would be complete and the task would be completed.

It may be that to do it just like that would be asking either for too much money to be diverted from the towns—although I would have no hesitation at all in doing so—or for too much money to be provided for education as a whole. I am one of those who believe in an overall economy in expenditure, so I would rather see the money diverted from the towns.

I am quite sure that we shall be working in a vicious circle, if we go on increasing the number of places in the towns and go on enticing people from the villages to the towns. By doing that, we merely fill up the increased places which we provide. What we should do is to stop the trouble at its beginning, which is that the village schools have not yet been sufficiently reorganised. In my constituency alone—I know that it is only a very small county—we need seven new secondary modern schools.

I really think that my right hon. Friend has got to do some fresh thinking about this, because, otherwise, the drift from the land will go on. I do not say that merely on the vague ground that the drift from the land is bad and should be halted, but because I believe most passionately that the future wellbeing of this country depends to a great extent, not upon the townspeople, but upon the country people. If the country people go down, the country as a whole goes down.

This is a social and moral problem of the very highest importance, and the foundation of its solution is better education in the villages. That can only be achieved by getting on with the reorganisation, which, if necessary, I suggest, must be attained at the expense of providing new places in the towns. I have no hesitation in saying this, and I do not apologise for saying it, whatever any urban Member may say.

When the hon. Gentleman talks about diverting money from the towns to the country, is he aware that that is not really the proper way to put it, because many urban authorities are only too anxious that such money should be spent on rural reorganisation owing to the fact that they have to find the places for the village children, which aggravates their overcrowding? Therefore, by spending the money on rural reorganisation, it would relieve some of the urban authorities of part of the overcrowding.

I am exceedingly grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because he has emphasised and clarified a point which I was trying to make three or four minutes ago. I am glad that I have him on my side. I hope that I have made the matter sufficiently clear to enable me to pass from it to one or two points to which, though I attach less importance to them. I wish to refer.

First, there is the burning question of grammar school masters. There is no doubt that, unless grammar school masters are given the consideration to which their—let us face it—superior status entitles them, and which they require, we shall not get as many of them as the hon. Member for Workington would like to see, if he is to get the technical education for which he is asking and which, in the main, can only be got in the grammar schools.

The grammar school masters have undoubtedly a feeling—justified or otherwise —of grievance at the moment, in that when their salaries and conditions of service are being negotiated they are lumped in with other secondary school teachers so far as their representation on the Burnham Committee is concerned. I cannot see why they should not have separate representation. Unless somebody is playing a sort of empire building game against them, I do not see why they should not have separate representation.

I now wish to refer to another matter which the Report, so it seems to me, appears to miss out. There is Provision under the Education Act for scholarships to be provided by education authorities to the public schools, including the very best public school's. Indeed, I believe that the head boy at Harrow not very long ago was such a boy who had won a State scholarship to the school. I maintain that our public schools are without the slightest shadow of doubt the best in the world, and I should like to see more use made by local authorities in the provision of such scholarships. After all, this is a matter for them and not for the Minister.

However, unless we have a little bit of publicity in the form of something in the Annual Report of the Ministry of Education showing how this process is going on, it is not very easy to make local authorities conscious of their obligation in the matter. If only to show how few boys are getting these scholarships, I hope that in the current year something along these lines will be said.

In conclusion, I wish to say that the Education Act, 1944, which was an all-party Measure, was given the great opportunity of being put into operation immediately after the war. So far, apart from what I think was a highly regrettable speech by an otherwise very worthy Member of this House, the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) today, we have mostly managed to keep party politics out of this subject. It is better that we should.

What about the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke)?

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) was only making a justified retort to the hon. Lady. If we can keep politics out of this matter, it is much better. I speak with great humility, because I have not spoken before in any general debate on education. With that in mind, may I concede another point in agreeing with an hon. Member opposite? I think that the time has come for us to think once more about this final, fateful decision, which has to be made for every child at the age of 11, in the matter of State education. I must say, looking back over the years, that, if I had had to make that decision, or, worse still, had had to have it made for me, I should not relish what might have happened. Hundreds of thousands of children in this country now have to have that decision made for them.

It bears hardest of all upon the children of men serving in the Forces, the regular sailors, soldiers and airmen. As they move around doing their duty to their country, they have to take the schools as they find them. A child can be put back very badly before the age of 11, and it is most unfortunate that the children of serving men should have to suffer through no fault of their own.

Then there are the others of us who develop late in life. I was always told that I was one such person. Perhaps even now I have not developed enough; but there it is. I say most seriously, in a non-party and non-contentious spirit, that after 10 years of the administration of the 1944 Act the time has come for fresh thinking on this fundamental matter.

6.30 p.m.

I am sure that all hon. Members on this side of the House agree with the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) in his appreciation of the value of rural schools. We also agree with his view concerning the reorganisation that should take place in the rural areas throughout the country. Having expressed that view I would invite him tonight to walk into the Lobby with us against this Minister.

As a matter of fact the Minister has laid down conditions which will prevent the reorganisation of schools in the rural areas. If the hon. and learned Member will look at Circular 245 he will see this phrase in a document which is an instruction to rural authorities:
"The Minister will, therefore, still be unable to include in an annual building programme any work designed:—…(c) to enable all-age schools to be reorganised."
She is there putting on a bar against the reorganisation of our schools. We all agree that the 1944 Act cannot be put into effect at all unless we have reorganisation; it cannot be put into effect except on the basis of all-age schools. In Circular 245 the Minister has laid down conditions which completely prevent that reorganisation in the rural areas or anywhere else.

I have been here for many years. I have seen Ministers come and Ministers go. I say quite definitely that it is time for the right hon. Lady to go. I have looked at statements in the Press, I have looked at the Press of the education authorities and at the teacher's Press. I have reviewed copies of "Education" for many a week. I cannot find—particularly in the official organ of the education authorities—one single word of praise or commendation for the right hon. Lady in the job which she is doing. She has the confidence neither of the local authorities nor of the teachers. The superannuation scheme decimated any faith or belief which the teachers had in her integrity. I do not want to quote too much from the official journal "Education," but in the issue of 11th June it states:
"The Minister's report for 1953 tries hard to be a record of progress. That it fails in that is no fault of the draughtsman. It is because the material available does not lead to that conclusion."
Here I am being non-political, and Dr. Alexander is non-political, but he has nothing but criticism for the school building programme and the programme for technical education. His views are non-political. They are concerned only with education as such. I do not want to read the resolution which was passed at the conference of education authorities but it was completely condemnatory of the right hon. Lady's policy. I could find no single word of commendation for her policy. Indeed, Alderman Robinson said in his speech that though he was a Conservative and supported the political policies of this Government he did not support their educational policy. He said he had no trust in that at all.

It seems to me, therefore, that if it is true that there is to be reshuffling in the Government it may be for the benefit of the nation and for the benefit of education that the right hon. Lady should go. I am sorry to say this, but it is how I feel, and I agree with what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). I have listened to the Minister's Conservative friends. I am not quite sure whether even her Conservative friends strongly support her. I do not think that she ever recovered from the blunder she made upstairs. I say honestly and frankly that she has decimated faith and hope inside the educational system, into which the dry rot of educational administration is eating.

Is it thought that by turning down Kidbrooke and Tooting Bec schemes the right hon. Lady gained the confidence of the local authority? What becomes of the responsibility of local authorities. There is a clause in Circular 144 which states that there should not be duplication within a local catchment area of the same type of education unless there are special considerations. What are the special considerations that have caused the right hon. Lady to turn down Kidbrooke and Tooting Bee? The considerations are not educational but political.

Finally, I warn her and her hon. Friends behind her in regard to the comprehensive school. I do not want to argue the merits of the comprehensive school except to say that it is the only medium by which the lower and middle classes can get the normal child educated beyond the age of 15. I was impressed the other day by a case of a bank cashier whom I know. Under the 1944 Act his two boys had to pass an examination to get into the grammar school. They were not brilliant boys, but they were normal. They were worth further education, but they could not pass the examination. His sons having failed the examination at 11 plus the cashier's choice was to send them to either a secondary modern school or a private school.

It may seem strange for me, a Socialist, to talk like this but I think that the burden on middle class—and particularly lower middle class parents—in educating their children in private schools is too heavy, too costly to bear. The comprehensive school is the answer to the development of the normal child. We stand firm on the right of the normal child, with varying capacities and aptitudes, to be given his or her chance by admission. I say quite frankly to the right hon. Lady that, owing to political prejudice, she is standing in the way of the development and opportunities of the normal child.

I hate quoting in this House, because it takes too long, but I must quote one paragraph at the end of an article in the "Schoolmaster":
"The whole sorry business really seems to resolve itself into this: is the government of public education to be by co-operation, consultation and agreement between all the partners concerned, including parents, or is it to be at the beck and call of local agitation?"
The cases of Eltham and Kidbrooke have been the cause of local agitation. Therefore, taking the picture as a whole, I say that it is time that the right hon. Lady left her position and that somebody with more imagination, more dynamism and more idealism took her place.

6.41 p.m.

I do not hold any decided views about comprehensive schools. I should like them to prove their value, as, indeed, the value of the longer established schools has been proved.

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said that many middle-class parents—and he quoted a cashier at a bank—had no choice if their children failed the examination to go to a grammar school. Many parents have come to see me on this. Of course, finance is a difficult problem for the parent with two or three children who are about to reach the age of 11, but that reinforces the plea which we on these benches have made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a tax allowance to be made to parents who wish to send their children to approved independent schools. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I know perfectly well from the parents who come to see me that this would solve the problem for some.

I want to reinforce what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) said about the position in the rural areas, particularly with regard to secondary school facilities. The whole of the rural community is united on this point. Until the other day I had never seen a joint deputation from the National Farmers' Union, the National Union of Agricultural Workers and the Transport and General Workers' Union. I had the pleasure of being in the chair when those three bodies, which are so often opposed to each other, came together to plead with Members of Parliament that the Minister of Education should give greater equality of opportunity to rural children.

The reckoning put to us the other day —and I would ask the Minister whether this is a true reckoning, because I cannot find the figures in any departmental publication—was that one child in 12 in the town areas did not have an opportunity of secondary education whereas in the rural areas one child in three still did not have that opportunity and had to continue at an all-age school.

I have made some inquiries in my county of Berkshire about the progress that we are making in the reorganisation of our schools and as to how long it will be before every child in the county, which is a fair mix between town and country, will have the opportunity of going to a secondary school. It will be several years before that opportunity comes to all the children in Berkshire. We are building now secondary schools, and I suppose that our progress is in line with that of other counties, but if we look to see where those schools are being sited, we find that they are being built in the town areas where there is the greatest pressure for places. What effect does that have on the rural parent—on the farm worker and his wife or a man like my gardener and his wife, who have children approaching the age of 11? If they do not succeed in passing the examination into the grammar school they are expected today to continue at the same school from the age of five until 15.

I know that extra buildings are being provided, but if a child stays at the same school there is not that psychological life which the parents and the child have a right to expect at the age of 11. I believe that it is important for the child to move on and not to be travelling in the same bus with the same children, to school under the same headmaster from five right on to 15. I urge my right hon. Friend to consider this problem sympathetically. We in the rural areas are most anxious that parents in the villages should not feel that they must move into or near the towns in order to obtain proper educational facilities for their children. They have just the same rights as those in the towns; they pay just the same rates and taxes.

I know from talking to schoolmasters and mistresses that they feel there should be provision for more secondary modern and secondary technical schools, not only in the towns but deliberately placed in rural areas. More of the existing schools which are sound structurally might very well be turned into secondary schools to take the 11-plus children from the neighbouring villages.

I would ask my right hon. Friend to look again at the amount of money that she allows the counties to spend, particularly to ensure that the rural children are at least getting as fair a chance as the town children. We need fully educated children in modern agriculture, and the same is true of the many other industries sited in rural areas; at least, that is so in my constituency. For our technical advance in the rural areas, notably in farming, we are depending more and more on a sound education. If our children have to remain in all-age schools, we shall not be giving them as good an opportunity as they deserve.

6.48 p.m.

I agree with what the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) said, with one exception. I think that if there were any proposal by the Government to give some form of tax relief to enable people to send their children to private schools, it would receive criticism not only from these benches but also from educational circles generally. If a child has sufficient ability to pass the selective test, he can receive a grammar school education at the public expense, and if he has not sufficient ability then a place is offered to him to enable him to receive an education suitable to his aptitude and his abilities at the modern secondary school.

To enable a child to attend a private school, which is a sort of grammar school, by means of granting taxation relief to parents who refuse to send their child to a modern secondary school, would be a sort of State endowment of snobbery, and it would also mean that the State would be paying for a kind of grammar school education at a private school while refusing to pay to educate the child at a public grammar school. I hope that that illogical attitude will not be pursued by hon. Members opposite.

We have had a very interesting debate, marred only by the speech of the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden). It is a very great pity that a new Member—the nephew of a very distinguished statesman—whose youth, aptitude and abilities augur a successful career in this House should have blotted his copybook as badly as he did by making extravagant statements. He accused teachers in a certain school of disseminating Communist propaganda within that school.

It is quite true that the headmaster of Acton County School is a member of the Communist Party and that, outside school, he has taken part in Communist propaganda in various directions. But there is no shadow of evidence that the headmaster or any member of his staff has indulged in Communist propaganda inside the school. I believe I am correct in saying that the whole matter was very carefully investigated by a special committee appointed by the county council, and that the headmaster and the whole staff were exonerated from the charge of attempting to disseminate Communist propaganda within the school.

Many headmasters are members of the Tory Party, but it does not follow that because of that fact they have to indulge in Tory propaganda within their schools. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that it would be just as blameworthy for a teacher to indulge in Tory propaganda among his children as it would be to indulge in Communist propaganda. The teaching profession has a sense of professional integrity. All teachers would very strongly condemn any member of their profession who abused his office by endeavouring to instil political propaganda —whether it was Communist, Tory, Labour or Liberal—into his children. No professional organisation would defend him; in fact, it would act against him if it were proved that he had been guilty of such a thing.

I do not want to misunderstand the hon. Member. I gather that in his view there is not very much difference between Tory propaganda and Communist propaganda. I believe that Socialist views and Conservative views bear no comparison at all with the Communistic view of the destruction of the State or democracy. They are entirely different things.

I did not say that I thought there was no difference between Tory and Communist propaganda. I think there is a great deal of difference, but am Ito understand from the interruption of the hon. Member that be would look not unfavourably on Tory propaganda in the school, while condemning unreservedly any Communist propaganda?

I want no propaganda at all in schools, but I would say that the views of either a Socialist or a Conservative teacher would differ so much from that of a Communist teacher that the two questions are entirely different ones in every sense of the word.

When the hon. Member says that he wants no propaganda in the schools he entirely agrees with what I have just said. If he says that the Communist mentality is such that a Communist teacher would be obliged to indulge in Communist propaganda in his school, I must question that very much. I think that the professional integrity of such a teacher would overcome his inclination to indulge in such propaganda in front of his children. If it did not, he would be worthy of any condign punishment which the local authority or the Minister might feel inclined to inflict upon him.

I want to make a few comments on the speech of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke). The hon. Member said that the main consideration was to see that children were happy in school. I agree that that is an extremely important thing. If, during the 40 or more years that I was a teacher in a class room, any child in my class had been unhappy I should have been very unhappy myself.

We will take the question of happiness first. The hon. Member emphasised that. It is quite true that our school children are happier than their predecessors of 30 or 40 years ago, but the increase in their happiness has nothing whatever to do with any efforts made by the present Minister of Education. It is due to the more easy-going and kindly discipline; to the more interesting and varied syllabuses placed before the children; to the more skilled and interesting teaching and also, in a very great measure, to the fact that children are much better fed and clothed. That is not due to any effort by the right hon. Lady; it is due to the Measures passed by the Labour Government from 1945 to 1951.

The hon. Member for Hampstead said that the curve of building shown on page 40 of the Report, "Education in 1953" went up in 1951, when the present Administration assumed office. I have looked at that curve, and it seems to me to have mounted fairly gradually and regularly all the time. It does not seem to have mounted more steeply since this Administration came into power than it did when the Labour Party were in office. It is true that more schools were finished in 1952 than in 1951, but nine-tenths of those schools were started under the Labour Administration in 1951. I would point out to the hon. Member for Hampstead that a school cannot be finished unless it is first started. This year, 100 fewer schools have been started than were started in 1953.

Local authorities asked for an allocation of £88 million in respect of school buildings for the year 1955–56. According to the reply which was given me last Thursday by the Parliamentary Secretary, their actual allocation is to be £45 million —just over 50 per cent. of what they asked for. I do not believe, as the hon. Member for Hampstead alleged, that local authorities have been extravagant in their demands for building allocations, or that they asked for more building than was really necessary. Local authorities have to bear their share of the cost of new buildings; the whole cost is not met out of Treasury grants. At least 40 per cent. of it is met out of the rates.

It being Seven o'Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking Private Business) further Proceeding stood postponed.

Stroudwater Navigation Bill Lords (By Order)

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

7.0 p.m.

I shall not detain the House long. This Bill is as bad as it was on the day it was born. The only demand for this Bill comes from those who are interested in bringing the bridges up to date to cope with the modern traffic, and I can well understand their feelings and sympathise with them, but there ought to have been promoted a Bill by the county council dealing with the bridges alone. The county council, one can well understand, has doubts whether the opponents of the Bill can make practical suggestions 'or substantial contributions, and in the circumstances I think that the attitude now taken by the chairman of the county council is a very generous one.

I have received a letter this morning from the clerk to the county council saying:
"The Chairman has asked me to say that he is prepared, if the Bill becomes law, to recommend the Highways Committee and the County Council to consider sympathetically any proposals in connection with the reconstruction of the bridges I have referred to, which may be submitted to them by a responsible body of persons who have in mind the development of a section of the Canal for pleasure boating purposes."
I hope that that sympathetic attitude will receive the support of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, whom I see in his place, and who intervened in the Second Reading debate to express the concern of the Ministry that this job should be properly done.

I have no doubt that there is now sufficient time for consideration at leisure of the real facts of the problem, particularly since there is a new development, confirmation of which I received only this morning when I received the letter from the county council. It is that the responsible body, which hardly existed at the time when the clerk to the county council wrote his letter last Saturday, does now exist, in so far as the Canal Restoration Committee has acquired a controlling interest in the shares of the Navigation Company itself.

We should like to express thanks to the public spirit and generosity of a number of shareholders, including two old and well-known local families, in putting their shares at the disposal of the Committee for that purpose. It will achieve two things at once, the complete removal of the possibility of profit seeking by those who hold the minority of the shares and it will now render it unnecessary to create any kind of trust or new company.

I think that the Navigation Company will now have the energy and new technique required, and I have no doubt that the new spirit, of mutual responsibility and good will will lead to the solution of the problem that has been sought on all sides. The Bill does not compel anyone to do anything, as I understand it. It gives permissive powers, and in the hope that nothing is done wantonly, hurriedly, or in a spirit of controversy, and as there is time for a solution to be found, I am asking my hon. Friends on this side of the House not to press the matter to a Division.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.


Report 22Nd July

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

7.3 p.m.

I was saying, when we were interrupted for the Third Reading of the Private Bill, that I do not think that the local authorities would ask for unnecessary expenditure for school building because part of that expenditure falls upon the rates and it would not wholly be borne by Treasury grants. Therefore it is not likely that any local authority, as the hon. Member for Hampstead suggested, would overstate its demands. When the local authorities asked next year for £88 million worth of school building it meant that they thought that they could not carry out successfully their educational system within their localities unless that £88 million was granted. Instead of £88 million being granted only £45 million was granted, just over 50 per cent. of their legitimate demands.

The hon. Member for Hampstead made some statements about comprehensive schools which seemed to me rather peculiar and rather contradictory. He denied that Eton and Harrow are comprehensive schools. Of course, Eton and Harrow are not comprehensive schools in the full sense of the term, in that they do not embody the total range of intellect from the lowest I.Q. to the highest I.Q., and in that respect are not completely comprehensive schools, but they do have amongst their boys a very wide range of intellectual ability. There are boys who obtain admission to Eton and Harrow who would not be able to qualify in the selection examination for entry to many a grammar school conducted by local authorities. So, although not completely comprehensive schools, they are to a degree comprehensive schools, and the success of Eton and Harrow may legitimately be cited as proof of the success of comprehensive schools.

The hon. Member for Hampstead said, further, that he agreed with the comprehensive school idea. He agreed with the comprehensive school idea, but he did not want grammar schools to be absorbed into the comprehensive schools. However, we cannot have a comprehensive school unless the children of the highest I.Q. as well as of average I.Q. and of the lowest I.Q. are pupils within the comprehensive school. We cannot have a comprehensive school unless we have pupils of the grammar school type within that school. So what, in effect, the hon. Member for Hampstead said was that he was in favour of a comprehensive school so long as it was not a comprehensive school.

I said I agreed with carrying out the comprehensive school experiment and that we should learn a great deal from it. What the hon. Member must understand is that Eton and Harrow are recruited from boys who are deemed suitable for that type of education, and he must distinguish between Eton and Harrow on the one hand, and the comprehensive school he is talking about on the other, for entry to which there would be no selection whatever.

I do not want to continue this argument because I do not want to be too long, but I think the hon. Member will agree that Eton and Harrow and most of our great public schools are in a sense comprehensive schools because they contain within them a very wide range of intellectual ability. They contain, I suppose, boys of an I.Q. range from 100 up to 180, which makes them, in a sense, comprehensive schools.

I do not wish to occupy much more of the time of the House because I know that there are other Members who desire to speak in the debate and who have been waiting to do so for some time, but I want to emphasise two things. First of all, I want to deal with what is to be the future of the secondary phase of education. It seems to me that the greatest problem we have before us at the present time in education is the organisation of the secondary stage.

By 1960 we shall have 700,000 more children in our secondary schools than we have at present, when the bulge has fully passed into the secondary schools. Today, we are giving about 21 per cent. of our children of secondary school age a grammar school education. An increase of 700,000 in the number of scholars of secondary school age means we have to—

I am so sorry to interrupt, but I did not catch the percentage.

At present, we are giving 21 per cent. of our children of secondary school age a grammar school education —21 per cent, on the average throughout the country. The number of children of secondary school age will increase by 700,000. Indeed, if we are to continue to give 21 per cent. of grammar school places to all children of secondary school age, that means that we have to find 142,000 additional grammar school places within the next few years. The problem is, how are we to continue that situation? I do not think that we ought to build extra grammar schools to provide 142,000 additional places.

It is quite true that the existing grammar schools cannot possibly be stretched to contain 142,000 additional pupils, and to build additional grammar schools at this time would be to run counter to the very great volume of public opinion which is opposed to the tripartite system in education and to a considerable volume of public opinion which prefers the comprehensive school to the tripartite system. I believe, therefore, that the best way to deal with this problem, with which we shall shortly be faced, would be for the local authorities to build comprehensive schools in their areas, which would contain not only the children of average and below average ability, but also these 142,000, or some of them, brighter children for whom there will be no places in the existing grammar schools.

In that way, we could partially solve this problem by having a number of comprehensive schools in a number of different areas. That would mean establishing the comprehensive school system in our usual English way, not by a violent or complete break with the past, but by making the changes which are necessary to meet the changing social conditions and changing currents of public opinion. If these additional children of secondary school age cannot be absorbed into the grammar schools, then I suggest some attention should be given to the experiments made at Southampton and elsewhere in which the grammar school streams are placed in the existing modern secondary schools.

In Southampton, we have a scheme by which several modern secondary schools are selected in order to have what is called a "general course" for the pupils, and the general course is, in effect, a grammar school course. The parents of the pupils who take these courses are asked to keep them there until the age of 16, and at the age of 16 they take the General Certificate of Education. If they pass in a sufficient number of subjects, they are transferred to the sixth form of the grammar school.

In Southampton, this scheme has only been in operation for a few years. It was not until 1952 and 1953 that the pupils in the grammar school stream were able to take the General Certificate of Education. But, in 1952 and 1953, we had 341 passes from the modern secondary school in G.C.E. and 34 pupils in the modern secondary schools went on to the sixth form of the grammar school. The average number of passes in G.C.E. was three but some of the pupils were successful in getting six passes, and this year, which will be the first time that pupils have completed the full five years' course, we are expecting still better results.

I think that these are two ways of dealing with the organisation of the increased number of secondary school pupils with which we shall have to deal in the next few years—by establishing more comprehensive schools, and by placing grammar school streams in a number of selected modern secondary schools. I think that the Minister, if alive to the urgency of this problem, should now be inquiring of local authorities what are their plans for the organisation of the secondary stage of education, in view of the largely increased number of children of secondary school age which will have to be dealt with in the next few years.

Finally, I should like to touch upon a subject which has already been mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and the hon. Member for Newbury, just to dot the i's and cross the t's of what they have said about all-age schools. There are over 700,000 children being taught in all-age schools of which nearly 300,000 are children of secondary school age. The all-age school is classed as a primary school and all the 700,000 children are getting is a primary school education.

The 1944 Act promises secondary school education to all children, but 15 per cent. of the children are not getting it in these all-age schools. All over the rural areas there are schools of 50 to 150 children with an age range from five years to 15 years in buildings with no proper lavatory facilities, no art rooms, no metal work rooms, and no woodwork rooms, where the children have not the slightest chance of getting anything approximating to a secondary school education.

We all regret very deeply the fact that the Agricultural Wages Committee did not give an increase in wages to the agricultural workers in the recent negotiations. As a result, we are told by the representatives of the agricultural workers that many of the agricultural workers are leaving the countryside and seeking occupation in the towns. It is not only low wages which drives workers from the countryside; it is also lack of ordinary social amenities and, above all, lack of decent educational opportunities for their children.

I do not say that the teachers in the country schools are not doing their job efficiently. They are doing very well indeed under bad conditions, but they cannot work miracles, and the best teacher in the world cannot cope with an all-age school of children ranging from five to 15 without proper equipment or apparatus and without sufficient numbers to classify them according to their abilities and aptitudes.

I think it has already been mentioned that it would cost only £4 million a year for five years to reorganise completely the all-age schools. Surely that is a sum which the Minister ought to be quite willing to pay to put an end to this problem and restore some decent educational standards to the countryside, so that parents there may feel that their children are getting as good a chance as the children in the towns.

I do not wish to attack the Minister of Education. That has already been very effectively and dramatically done by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), but during the 50 years in which I have been closely connected with the practice and polemics of education, I have never known such a feeling of frustration and disappointment, of what our forefathers called the "wanhope," as exists among the teachers today.

We have seen the size of classes increased. There are 8,000 more classes of over 40 pupils in our schools today than there where when the present Administration took office. We have seen the building programme fail to keep pace with the needs of the children. We have seen nothing substantial done about the reorganisation of the all-age schools. Nothing has been done to remedy the serious evils which were brought to light by the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates in connection with the old slum school buildings. We feel that we are not really making the progress in education that we ought to make.

I do not know exactly what is the reason. The right hon. Lady is now a member of the Cabinet, so she has a voice, and should have an influence, in the innermost counsels of the nation. It may be that the right hon. Lady, like many other occupants of the Government Front Bench, is mortally afraid of the 1922 Committee. We know that the 1922 Committee wants to destroy the new look garment which the Conservative Party donned in 1951 and which enabled it to win the Election of that year, and, instead of that garment, to dress the party in Edwardian habiliments.

The 1922 Committee is "gunning" for every progressive Minister. It has already got rid of one progressive Minister and rumour has it that it is attacking another. If the 1922 Committee likes to persuade the Conservative Party to commit political suicide by going back to a 19th century policy then we will not weep any tears, crocodile or otherwise, over that.

However, we are discussing education. We are discussing children. Education and the children should be above the contest of party politics. We ask the Minister to do something a little bit more constructive, to show a little hit more energy, a little bit more dynamism, in her educational policy during the 18 months which remain to the life of the Government than she has shown during the past three years. If she does not do that, then she must go down in history as one of the most ineffectual Ministers of Education that this country has ever known.

7.23 p.m.

I always listen with pleasure and attention to speeches by the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley). On this occasion I think that he was a little bit more happy in the middle of his speech than he was either at the beginning or at the end. So far as the debate has been concerned with an attack upon my right hon. Friend, we must all agree that it has been a considerable fizzle.

The arguments of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) about building programmes and so on were most effectively answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke). The attempt of the hon. Member for Itchen to put the hon. Lady —if I may call her Humpty Dumpty—together again was not very effective, because the only statistic in building in which the record of the Government is, prima facie, not better than that of their predecessors was the one which the hon. Member quoted about the number of new schools started. The hon. Member omitted to remind the House that these new schools are now predominantly secondary schools whereas previously, and properly, they were predominantly primary schools, and the secondary school costs more money to build. Therefore, the amount of money which is being spent is greater now than it was under the previous Administration.

There was even less in the observations of the hon. Member about the 1922 Committee. The 1922 Committee is not the subject of debate this afternoon, and I do not think that there is any special point in following up the hon. Gentleman's observations.

The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East said that she hoped that we should have an education debate. I certainly hoped that myself. I will assume that there was no tinge of party politics in any of her observations and that in her views on comprehensive schools she was passing —as she is perfectly entitled to do from her experience—a judgment purely and entirely as an educationist. I assumed that exactly the same was the judgment of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove).

I admit that they are perfectly entitled to have a view, purely as educationists, that the comprehensive school is the best type of school. I do not quarrel with them holding that opinion, but if we are simply talking about this as educationists I would merely make the comment that they must recognise that that opinion is not universally held in educational circles. A number of schoolmasters hold the view and a number do not, and I am sure that the hon. Members will agree that their opinion is not universally held in educational circles. One school of thought favours the comprehensive school. Another school of thought is more restive about some of the problems caused by the comprehensive school.

The opinion is, I think, restive predominantly for two reasons which have nothing to do with politics and which we cannot deny are valid and important reasons. The first reason is that—though there may be exceptions in Scotland, for instance—as the idea of the comprehensive school is usually preached it will mean a very large school indeed, and there are plenty of people who think that there are dangers in having a school so large that the headmaster cannot have personal knowledge of all the boys.

Hon. Members opposite have been telling us that Eton is a comprehensive school. I do not think that it is a comprehensive school in the full sense of the word, but it is a very large school and, frankly, without any prevarication, I should say that its great defect is that it is so large. It is a great defect in the Etonian system that the headmaster is not able to get to know all the boys. If we sacked half the boys at Eton tomorrow I think that it would be a better school.

If the number of boys had been reduced by half in the hon. Gentleman's day, would he have been happy to go?

I do not say that I should have been happy to go. The question is whether it would have been for the public good that I should go, and that is a matter of opinion. In any case, I think that it has grown too large.

The second reason is perhaps the more important one. The hon. Member for Aberavon spoke of the necessity of having comprehensive schools because that was the only way in which the average middle-class boy or girl could get a run for his money. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East praised the comprehensive school on the ground that it was a system which gave a fair chance to all. That is a point of view which doubtless the hon. Members honestly hold, but they cannot put it forward as an agreed point of view.

That is self-evident, because there is another school of thought which attacks the comprehensive school precisely on that ground. To prove that this is not a school of thought supported by only a few cranks, I quote from the document, "Reading Ability" issued when the Labour Government were in power and the late Mr. George Tomlinson was Minister of Education. It is not a party document. I do not say that the Government as such were responsible for it, but it certainly is not a Conservative document and it certainly was not issued by the 1922 Committee. It was issued by a Committee set up by the late Mr. George Tomlinson. That document said:
"Duller children are liable to discouragement in any kind of school where they are in company with those who are much more able."
The argument was—a perfectly reasonable argument—that a certain moderate degree of competition is doubtless good for the child but to shove him into an environment of wholly unequal competition far from encouraging the child, would discourage him and militate against his opportunities in life. It would doubtless be very good for my cricket, were I to bat against the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). It would be good for it, were I to bat against Mr. Lindwall.

Would the hon. Member agree that the defects to which he has just drawn attention are much more prevalent in the village school where all the children are within one class in a small school, rather than in a large school where there are different classes?

That may be so in the village school, but I do not feel that that has any bearing on this particular argument. I agree that we can have too small schools, but that does not refute this argument. It is true that one may have comprehensive schools under different systems. If we have a system in which there is absolute rigid segregation between children by different streams in the same building, I think that is as bad a system as could be imagined.

In the educational world it is by no means a settled issue that there is an absolutely the best sort of school and that one sort of school is the answer to all our educational problems. I am by no means opposed to experiments being tried in building comprehensive schools where there is need for new building, but I do not like experiments to be at the expense of existing schools which are already doing their work well.

The difficulty which the hon. Member for Itchen felt in following the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead, did not seem a real difficulty for he himself answered it. There is an expanding school population and plenty of places where we can try these experiments without destroying existing institutions. I refer again to the document "On Reading Ability." We have to face the alarming statistics about the difficulties of reading in various classes of pupils and different sorts of schools, and the two sorts of school which are doing this best, as it shows, are the public schools and the grammar schools. It would be a foolish educational policy if in the name of theory we were to destroy the two sorts of school which are performing this essential function better than any other sort of school.

I turn to a consideration of a phrase, which is very easy to use and which there is a very easy political temptation to use —"equality of opportunity." It is rather important to examine it, not from the political, but from a purely scientific point of view, to find its real meaning and what degree of truth it holds. Some hon. Members say very easily that no child should have special advantage in life because of its parents. First, to some extent equality of opportunity is a fact, whether we like it or not, for it is a great advantage to have good parents and a disadvantage to have bad parents. No one would suggest that because some parents are alcoholics, therefore we should infect all children with alcoholism so that none should have an unfair advantage. For that reason it does not necessarily follow that we should say that because to some extent it is a fact in nature we should not take measures to correct this injustice with which nature has visited certain children, but there again we have to consider what really are the qualities and origins of ability. If we forget politics for the moment and turn to science, observation and commonsense, we find there is no doubt about it that academic ability is very largely inherited.

If we take the Report of the Royal Commission on Population, we find persons, among others, as little likely to be suspected of Tory bias as J. B. S. Haldane and Mrs. Douglas Jay giving their names with very weighty evidence which was put before the Commission, to the theory that ability by and large was inherited. That being so, rather than a good thing I think it would be a great pity to create a system in which it would be quite impossible for a parent in any kind of way—however hard he had worked—to get any benefit for his son. A great motive for service to the community would be removed.

How would the hon. Member prove which child has ability and which child has not? How could he put it to the test unless equal opportunities were given to prove that one child is able and the other child is not able?

Certainly I would not test it in every case. As to how I would prove it, the last thing we want is to create a society in which people are mutually competing against one another for the whole time and doing nothing else. Therefore, we have to make certain assumptions.

The hon. Member has not got the point which I am seeking to draw from him, namely, that ability is inherited. How can ability, whether inherited or not, be proved unless the opportunity for full education is available in all cases?

None of us in this House would say that every child should have exactly the same education so that we should have a competition to see which comes out top. We all agree that there must be some system, whether a comprehensive school or different schools, by which certain children study one subject and certain children study another subject.

If we simply examine, not the children, but their parents, we probably would make a much better choice in the long run about who is to benefit from education than by examination of the children themselves. It would be to rule out all education if we were to suggest that all should have exactly the same education. That would be a very great mistake and would make it impossible for parents to benefit their children or it would destroy the various educational institutions in this country which have a great tradition behind them.

The wise as well as the traditional thing to do is to use the traditions of the nation and to modify them, as circumstances demand, to fit the conditions of the day. So I would have independent schools; I should be very sorry if they came to an end. I agree that so far as opportunities to attend them is concerned that there should be a test, and it is not so easy to get into a public school now as some hon. Members seem to think. There should be a stiff entrance examination and stiff tests to justify a boy staying there.

On the other hand I entirely agree that, while I believe in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, there are certain people whom biologists call "sports," who develop abilities greater than could be expected of them. It is enormously important that machinery should be provided whereby those people should not be frustrated and hat they should be given the fullest education—if the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. I. O. Thomas) likes that term—imaginable; that is a great task which must be undertaken. I do not by any means agree with people who think that an aristocracy has played no great and creative part in the history of this nation or any other nation. I think the condition of survival has been that the aristocracy should allow a reasonably free entrance, from lower down, of the exceptional individual into its ranks.

It is of enormous importance to make public schools as public as possible. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) in supporting the recommendations of the Fleming Committee by which as many as 25 per cent. of the boys at public schools should be of that kind. I agree with him in deploring the fact that the public schools have not been able to recruit anything approaching that number. I do not think it will be as easy to achieve that as my hon. and learned Friend thought. It is not merely a matter of advertising. There are great difficulties. My hon. and learned Friend was not a member of the Standing Committee which discussed the recent Education Bill, or I think he would agree that the difficulties by no means come mainly from the public schools.

The truth is that there are a certain number of people who, for a variety of reasons, do not wish to see this type of recruitment into he public schools. On the whole such people come from the Left Wing rather than the Right Wing. It is perfectly easy to see the difficulties of the individual parent whose boy at the age of 11 shows great promise and for whom there is an opportunity to go forward to a public school with a view to gaining a scholarship to a university and then going on to become Lord Chancellor. The parent may reflect that matters may not work out in that way—that it depends on whether the boy gets a scholarship at the age of 18 and that if he does not he will return to the village, perhaps more disgruntled and will be jeered at by the other boys.

The hon. Member has talked about the failure of somebody to carry out the terms of the Fleming Report, which suggested 25 per cent. of the places in public schools being allocated in the way he has mentioned. Does the hon. Member know any public school in the country which has offered to any education authority or the Ministry 25 per cent. of its places?

If the hon. Member means some formal offer on a piece of paper, I cannot say that I do, but if he is asking whether I know of a public school which would be perfectly willing to follow that recommendation I would say that some years ago I remember the late master of Marlborough telling me that he was longing to get more such boys. I have heard the headmaster of Eton say as much. I have talked to many public schoolmasters about this, and I have never heard any of them utter anything other than the highest of praise of such boys and the wish that they could get more of them.

Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that local authorities, who have been under pressure from the Ministry to economise in their budgets, should put first on their programmes the sending of a large number of boys and girls to boarding schools, which will cost £300 or £400 per pupil a year?

I am deeply grateful to the hon. Member for making my speech for me. His intervention has largely dealt with the point raised by his hon. Friend. It shows that the objection does not come mainly from the public schools. Also, his remark leads me to the point I was going to make, that it is scarcely reasonable to expect local authorities, in such circumstances, to be much more generous than they are. I intended to suggest to my right hon. Friend that if this scheme was to be made a success it would require central Government assistance in the financing of it.

I wish to make a point on the question of inequality in respect of the number of students who go to grammar school in different areas of the country. It is a perfectly valid point and, as we know, there is a gross disparity in the figures, and I certainly hope that my right hon. Friend will press forward with her policy of ensuring that there should at any rate be some minimum standard or proportion in all the areas and an adequate provision of grammar schools in all the areas.

On the other hand, there is another side to the question which is often overlooked. People so often talk as if there was an equality of ability, not merely between individuals but between different localities, and that if only justice was done precisely the same proportion or almost the same proportion of children would qualify for grammar school, on some sensible, objective test, in all the different parts of the country. I do not believe that ability is spread in that sort of way. If one looks at history, one finds that the greatest artistic contributions are not equally spaced over the nations of the world or within nations but, on the contrary, have been overwhelmingly concentrated, throughout the greater part of history, in tiny little areas and very small countries—Athens or Florence or Elizabethan England—and have flourished there for a short time.

So, though in some mystic way we are doubtless all equal in the sight of God, it is sometimes assumed that the ability to profit by the humanism of a grammar school education is equally divided among us. I very much doubt that. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) may perhaps agree. Yet a general complaint in relation to grammar school education is that the Welsh send too many children to grammar schools. On the whole I think they should have a lot. It is obvious that the Welsh have much more feeling for language than have the English and it is right that more Welsh people should have the opportunity of such an education. The English doubtless have many other characteristics of their own, for this feeling for language is not equally spread. Vocabulary is richer in one part of Britain than another. Thus we need a variety of education not merely between individual and individual but between one part of the country and another.

The hon. Member says that it is perfectly proper that there should be variety of education and that there should be some possibility—I agree that he says that the public schools should be as public as possible—of part of the educational facilities being reserved for people who in present circumstances can pay for it. Does he say that it should be confined to people who can afford to pay for it? Because surely a good deal of the argument which he is now making will be vitiated by the fact that the only privilege he is really claiming, whatever gloss he puts upon it, it one for those who can afford to pay for their children's education.

I do not know what the hon. Member means. I made certain points about public schools some time ago and my argument now is quite a different one, which has nothing to do with income.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will permit me to say something more. He is now saying—and he is speaking particularly of Wales—that it is the case in Wales that too many people go to the grammar schools, or that it is said that too many people—

—go to the grammar schools. I merely said—whether that be true or not—that in Wales the children of poor parents can go to grammar schools to get a training in the humanities of a kind which they cannot get in England, or in most parts of England, unless their parents can afford to send them to the public schools. Is the hon. Member for Devizes suggesting that that is fair either in the sight of God or man—

—or that there is any justice in that privilege being reserved for children in England who go to public schools without having any particular merit of their own?

Do not be too hard on the poor chap, he does not know anything at all about it.

I do not think I can follow what the hon. Member for Hammersmith, South (Mr. W. T. Williams) is saying about those people in Wales who rejoice in a grammar school education and that no one in England could get a similar education without going to a public school. I do not follow that at all. But so far as they do get a similar education, and so far as it be true that in Wales the people at large are willing to pay a higher education rate than people in some other counties, that is a wholly good and admirable thing on the part of the people of Wales. But how it has anything to do with the other people not being educated unless they are rich I cannot imagine.

7.51 p.m.

We have listened with attention to the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) because we know that he has shown a sincere interest in education over a great number of years; but I am bound to say that tonight he was rather less clear than usual. In fact, I would say that it is rarely that one hears such a hotchpotch of ideas in so short a time. I will not try to disentangle some of the things he has put forward, but I will content myself with a couple of observations. Listening to the hon. Member, it seemed to me that to get a good education one should choose the right parents, who should be rich and of a high intellectual standard. If one could not manage that then one should at least choose parents who lived in Wales.

The whole of the argument of the hon. Member for Devizes based on the influence of heredity and was, I think, quite unfounded; because it so happens that high parental academic ability usually goes with a favourable environment. I do not think that any statistics showing how many sons of university dons achieve high academic honours could be based on the heredity factor alone, because these two factors go together. There are plenty of statistics of the opposite kind which show how the children of labourers have gone to universities and secured first-class honours degrees. But, in the interests of brevity, I feel sure that the hon. Member for Devizes will forgive me if I do not pursue his speech any further.

The outstanding problem in education today, in my opinion, is to attain a reduction in the size of classes. Obviously, that cannot be done without the provision of more buildings and teachers. With that, and as a first priority, I would put the elimination of the worst buildings, the very disgraceful buildings, which still exist in some parts of the country. I will not attempt now to illustrate how these things can be done, because already we have had a number of speeches on the subject, including a notable contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). I wish to deal at length with some university problems. When we are trying to solve these short-term problems, which are becoming increasingly pressing as the bulge in the school population is moving into the secondary schools, it is as well that we should seriously consider the organisation of secondary schools.

For that reason I am glad that the argument for comprehensive schools has been ventilated during this debate. I regret that in exercising her powers of direction, the Minister interfered with the proper development of the Kidbrooke School. Hon. Members opposite have revealed in their speeches that they do not understand what is meant by a comprehensive school. It is impossible for an experimental comprehensive school to have a fair chance unless it contains the whole range of I.Q.s and interests and aptitudes which are essential if the experiment is to be given a fair test.

I do not dispute that the right hon. Lady has the power to intervene. I Hold that education should be a partnership between local authorities and the Ministry, and that the views of local authorities should be given the greatest consideration. At the same time, I would say that the Minister is the senior partner because, by virtue of Parliamentary grant, most of the money comes from the central Government. But I think it unfortunate that on the only occasions on which she has intervened, the right hon. Lady has done so in a reactionary rather than in a progressive manner.

One matter to which we should all like to see her give some thought, and about which she might exercise her powers, is the problem of what is commonly called the test at 11; the method of the selection of children for the various channels and streams in the educational system. Although a comprehensive school would, to a large extent, do away with the need for such an examination, even were the right hon. Lady more favourably inclined towards comprehensive schools, we could not transform the whole system within a number of years; and, therefore, some system of sorting out the children must remain with us for a long time.

I have no quarrel with the examination system. As a matter of fact, I think that I have been much more successful in examinations than I 'probably deserved to be.

As my hon. Friend says, that is probably an argument against the examination system rather than something in its favour. But I mention it to show that I have no personal sense of frustration because I was unfortunate in examinations.

My hon. Friend says that he has no quarrel with the examination system, because in his judgment, and in his own case, he did better than he thought he ought to have done. Is not that in itself a criticism which finds favour with most people; that the whole examination system proves how well a child does on a particular occasion, but is no safe guide to the ability or the attainments of the child?

I am obliged to my hon. Friend, who has made my next point for me. I made the personal reference to indicate that I had no personal—I used the word "personal" deliberately—objection to examinations. But the examination system is open precisely to the objection which my hon. Friend voiced so much better than I could have done.

As the House will know, generally speaking there is quite serious concern among parents about the outcome of this test. It is clear that this is primarily a local authority responsibility and not one for the Minister. But I think that local authorities should be encouraged to find a way—some authorities have already gone some distance in this direction—to avoid the idea that the whole future of a child depends on its performance in a particular examination on a particular day.

It would appear to me possible, by the keeping of proper primary school records, for the records and reports of headmasters and headmistresses to be taken into account. My own local authority in Sheffield organises sample tests in order to give the children the psychological advantage of taking one or two trial tests. I think that it is possible for these tests to be taken into account to remove the fear that the whole future of a child may depend on its performance on a particular date.

It is true, of course, that no matter how one organises the educational system, even within a comprehensive school, there must be some form of selection. While I believe that much more weight should be given to reports and records, I feel that there should also be some objective test of the kind which is now given. Otherwise, the door is open to the exercise of certain pressures upon teachers and there may be fear, probably unfounded, about teachers being prejudiced against certain children. It is a very difficult matter, but I feel that a lot can be done to allay public suspicion and, equally important, very largely to remove the pent-up feeling some months before an examination takes place, which results in great strain on both children and parents. I hope that the Minister will have something to say about this.

I now wish to turn to the subject of selection for university grants and scholarships. The Minister has been good enough to supply me from time to time with facts and figures about this matter. Although there are both university college scholarships and State scholarships, about 40 per cent. of all the students at universities depend upon local education authority grants or awards. There are great discrepancies in the numbers of grants given by local education authorities and in the amounts given to students going to the same college or university.

I admit that there has been a big increase—I am glad to say this, because it is a matter which I have raised previously—in the number of local authorities which have accepted the Minister's scale. The majority of local authorities now pay grants according to the Minister's recommended scale, although, to say the least, it is on the modest side.

There is in particular, the great problem about vacation payments. I have no objection, and I am sure that most hon. Members have no objection, to university students working during vacations—it is probably beneficial educationally as well as of assistance financially—but there is all the difference between earning a little money and the financial anxiety which goes with having to earn full wages during vacations in order to be able to remain at a university. I hope the Minister will consider the possibility of making more satisfactory arrangements for vacation grants for both university and teacher-training students.

One of the consequences of the fact that local education authorities are observing the amounts of the Minister's scale is that many of them are reducing the number of awards which they give. It is not unfair to say that today one's chance of going to a university depends as much upon having a rich parent or a parent who has chosen his residence wisely as it does upon the inherent ability of the child.

I will illustrate that by giving some figures. I do not want to make too much of them because I realise that their bases are not always comparable; for instance, they depend upon the number of home students and the number of students going to Oxford and Cambridge. In 1951–52 the average award made by Bury was £96 compared with £276 by the City of Gloucester. The number of awards per 10,000 population in the same academic year varied from 1·51 in Leeds to 20·46 in Cardiganshire. Leeds spent 5¾d. per head of the population upon university education in that period compared with 7s. 5d. per head in Carmarthenshire.

I am sorry to make a special point about Leeds in view of the very great interest in this subject of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). However, I believe it is fair to make a comparison between Leeds and Sheffield. Sheffield has a slightly larger population than Leeds, and, of course, we claim to be a much superior city. Each has a university and each has a population of about 500,000. Yet in 1952–53 Leeds spent £32,600 on grants for university and non-university purposes, whereas Sheffield spent £96,000, three times as much. By looking at the statistics, one could produce many more anomalies of this sort.

Does not the Minister consider it time to reduce the number of local education authority awards or perhaps to abolish them altogether and substitute State scholarships to be granted on the basis of ability and not the accident of geography?

I am very glad that my hon. Friend has quoted the position in some of the counties of Wales. However, is not the position that some very wealthy local education authorities are very little interested in education? Would not the suggestion that my hon. Friend is now making do a great deal of harm to progressive local education authorities? I would point out with a great deal of pride that my own local education authority insists upon spending all it possibly can in educating children.

I was talking only about university scholarships. It should also be realised that the authorities which are generous are generous with the taxpayers' money also because 60 per cent. of the cost comes from the central Exchequer. I agree that any system of this kind should leave local authorities the option to supplement State scholarships if they so desire.

With regard to grants to teachers, I believe that the Minister recognises that the dual system of having a grant from the Ministry and another grant from the local authority is unsatisfactory. There is evidence to show that many students at teacher-training colleges are suffering considerable hardship. There have been prosecutions for theft, and so on, to which I am sure the Minister's attention has been drawn.

The Principal of the Sheffield Training College has suggested that a minimum of £90 per year is desirable for incidental expenses. The National Union of Students has suggested £75 to cover all items apart from tuition and board at the college during term—travelling, books, clothing, sports equipment, theatres, cigarettes, and the rest. The Union figure represents 30s. per week; the average now paid by local education authorities is £30 per year, a little over 10s. per week to meet all items outside tuition and board at the college.

The difficulties which are being experienced are likely to be reflected in the quality of those who will be going to the teacher-training colleges and will, therefore, have an indirect effect on the future of education itself. As the 1944 Act continues to operate and more of the better children go to universities and become graduates, that aspect of the teaching profession should also be given further study.

I wanted to say a word about the problem of the technical colleges, but in view of the late hour I will content myself with an observation or two about the universities. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has spent a good deal of time here, it would be a pity if someone did not speak about the field for which there is Treasury responsibility.

I think it is a matter for congratulation that the Barlow Committee's recommendation, in 1946, that the number of science and technical students should be doubled has been achieved, but I feel that there is still a great need for an expansion of university students in the directions of science and technology. At present, roughly 20 per cent. are science students and 12 per cent. students of technology, while other students have remained at about the same percentage—43 per cent.—as was the case before the war, when it was 44·8 per cent.

Since it is not possible, in my judgment, rapidly to expand the number of students at the universities, and, at the same time, to obtain a more favourable percentage of those studying science, this question should be given priority, and if the Minister were to adopt the system which I have suggested of giving State scholarships, rather than leaving it to the local education authorities to provide awards, the awarding of State scholarships might actually be used as a means of getting a better balance between the various faculties in the universities.

I suggest it would be wrong to place the responsibility solely on the university or university college concerned for making the awards. It is, in my judgment, desirable that there should be a minimum standard or objective test also. There are backdoors even into Oxford and Cambridge.

I should like to plead with the Government to give rather more thought to university education than has been given so far. Many aspects of university life have been investigated, and we have had a number of reports, including that from the Select Committee on Estimates in 1952, which examined the financial aspects and the Barlow Committee on Scientific Manpower and committees on medical schools and dentistry, but nobody has so far been charged with the responsibility of having a look at the role of the university in present day society. It is quite clear that the function and position of the universities today is quite different from what it was before the war, and, while we want to retain the independence of the universities, it is quite clear from every report which we read that we must get a larger number of highly qualified scientists and technicians. Certain recommendations were made in this direction quite recently.

I would suggest to the right hon. Lady that she should suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, since the Government are very fond of committees and commissions, there is a lot to be said for having a Royal Commission to have a look at the role of the universities and the whole problem of university education. I suggest that such a Commission should have very wide terms of reference, and if I may suggest one or two, I think the Commission might consider the problem of retaining the independence of the universities while they are increasingly dependent, directly and indirectly, on Parliament grants, and ensure that the money is well spent.

Roughly speaking, the universities receive between £25 and £30 million a year, which is likely to increase, and another £6 or £7 million indirectly from fees from public funds. I believe that the money is well spent, but this House should have the satisfaction of seeing that the money which it is providing is being properly spent.

Next, there is the question of the provision of facilities for a proper balance between the faculties, and, particularly, the preference of the students for Oxford and Cambridge or London Universities. I think it will be found that Oxford and Cambridge come first, with London University second and any provincial university a poor third, and I think that some attention should be paid to the size of the university population.

More attention should be paid to what happens to university students when they leave their university. Most universities have appointments boards, but I am not quite sure that they devote the same amount of thought and care in placing their students in employment as do the colleges themselves in selecting students for entry to the universities. It seems to me that, while a great deal of time is spent in trying to get the best students into the universities, very much less time is given to placing these people in employment or in advising them how to obtain the maximum advantage from their university education, and I therefore hope that the Minister will be able to impart some of these suggestions to her right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

It is perhaps unfortunate—and a reflection on what the right hon. Lady has done—that it is difficult to see that she has done very much, if anything at all, to further the idea of equal educational opportunity or which we all hoped so much when the 1944 Act was passed. It is quite possible that it is not really all her fault. I think she has been tied down in the Government in that she has not been allowed as much money as she would have liked for her purpose. While she has not provided that greater educational opportunity, perhaps this has saved her from pressure on the part of the 1922 Committee, and thus she has been given a longer term of office than would otherwise have been the case. Yet I can assure her that the educational record of this Government is not such as will commend it to the country when the time of reckoning comes.

8.17 p.m.

I hope that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) will forgive me if I do not follow him in everything he said, though there are one or two points which I should like to take up from his speech, with a large part of which I agree. Unfortunately, at the end of his speech the hon. Gentleman made a cheap gibe about the 1922 Committee, which has nothing to do with the matter at all. May I point out to him that the committees on this side of the House are concerned about education just as much as any committee on that side of the House, and possibly more?

In regard to the independence of the universities, the hon. Member said that he did not want Government control, and yet proceeded to set out a large number of suggestions which would mean that the universities were being run by a Government Department. I am sure that he will agree with me when I say that the universities must be entirely free of Government, Ministers and Departments, and be able to pursue their own educational studies in their own way.

I am sorry, but I cannot give way. I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but he spoke for a long time, and I have only six or seven minutes.

I should also like to say something on another point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. He also spoke on the relations between the education authorities and the Minister, which has been the theme of many of the speeches today, but that leaves out the most important people in the whole matter—the parents. They are the people, who far more than any Minister or teacher, or even any politician, can influence a child's character and to a certain extent its knowledge. Given the fact that the child is capable of assimilating education, we must remember that of the money spent on that child a large proportion is wasted, and therefore we have to consider the views of the parents on the question of education even before those of the teacher, and certainly before those of the Minister. That is why I welcome the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) that there should be some form of assistance for parents who make great personal sacrifices to provide for their own children's education and thereby save the country a certain amount of expense.

I was sorry that the hon. Member for lichen (Mr. Morley) made an attack upon one of my hon. Friends for having brought to the notice of the House the fact that at a certain school the headmaster is a member of the Communist Party. When people cannot come to this House and explain matters which they think should be brought to the attention of the public, the days of this House are numbered. It was perfectly right that my hon. Friend should do so. He might be criticised for doing it, but he was performing a public duty.

A very large number of people in this country would be shocked to hear that active Communists are, in fact, teaching the young children of this country.

That is a matter which must shock a large number of parents, especially of children of tender years.

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that interruption. I will use the few minutes that are left to me to show its fallacy. I believe that, on the whole, Tory views put the welfare of the country first. We know that Communists do nothing of the sort. Their views are not political views but treacherous views, and we do not want our children taught by traitors.

The biggest educational menace is the Tory, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows it very well.

If the hon. Gentleman interrupts much more I shall be unable to sit down in time, and he will then get into trouble with his own Front Bench.

The Government of the day, whatever its political colour, must look after education, which is one of the very important social services; but the first social service that any Government owe to their people is to keep them alive and free. If they do not do that, the other questions just do not arise. In allocating the amount of money that can be spent upon additional social services it is not always possible to give everybody everything he wants. We are engaged upon the task, under the 1944 Act, of rebuilding and improving the educational system. That is not a matter which can be done by one Government or by two Governments in a short time. It will certainly be a generation before it can be finished.

The present Government can well be proud of their trusteeship of the educational system during the three short years in which they have been in power. I have no time now t o give the full figures, but I would refer to Circular 242, which has already been mentioned. It was brought out at a time when, because of the activities and the mistakes of the late Government, we were in a financial crisis and everything had to be looked at from the financial point of view. Since then, conditions have very much improved. Now, the Education Estimates, together with the local authority rate-borne charge for education, are more than £244 million for 1954–55 whereas for 1951–52 they were only just £200 million. Nobody can truthfully say that we have not spent on education the full amount that could possibly be spent, and far more than any other Government.

In 1953, 250,000 new primary and secondary school-places were provided in England and Wales, or twice as many as in 1950. There may be overcrowding, because of the so-called "bulge" in the number of school children—I do not know why it should be called a "bulge." To say "an increase in numbers" would be much better English and would say just what we mean. The increase in the number of teachers averages 6,000. We therefore have not only more children but more teachers as well.

Unfortunately, time does not permit of my speaking fully about comprehensive schools. I am certainly not in favour of abolishing grammar schools in order to put in their place comprehensive schools which are, at best, an experiment. I am against them, because they are too big. We do not want young children to be taught in big establishments of about 2,000 scholars. Reference has been made to Eton College as being a comprehensive school, but the position is completely different because boys at Eton are in houses of about 30 or 40 scholars each, whereas in the comprehensive schools the children are all together in the same building.

The Government may well be proud of their record in education. The political attack which has been made on the Minister today will rebound on those who made it, and it ought never to have been made. We ought to keep education out of politics just in the same way as we ought to keep politics out of education.

8.26 p.m.

I do not intend to keep politics out of education or education out of politics. The training of future citizens is the most important task that the present generation can undertake, and if that were outside politics I would lose all my interest in politics. I therefore hope that the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) will understand that we come to this place to express contrary views on subjects on which we honestly differ. My views on the organisation and practice of education are, and always have been, fundamentally different from those of hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches.

Therefore, knowing that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) is by no means a non-political figure in London, I was a bit surprised that he found the robust, vigorous and well-informed speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) to be something that ought to he criticised as "political." I enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend, and I am hoping to hear the answer to it eventually. This has been a most surprising debate on Report of Supply. We have the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary sitting opposite to us, and the only words we shall get from the Government will be made too late for any reply to be offered to them.

I do not know how much longer the Parliamentary Secretary intends to submit to the successive humiliations that are imposed upon him. He must have realised from the response that he got last Thursday afternoon when he rose to answer at Question time how anxious we always are to hear what he has to say. It is a great pity that we should be precluded from hearing him this evening, because I am quite certain that if the Minister did not give the case away, he would.

We have had a very interesting and vigorous debate, and the contributions made from both sides of the House have, I think, been well in keeping with the importance of the subject which we are discussing. If I refer first to the speeches made from this side of the House, it is because I find myself in complete agreement with everything that has been said in them, and because I only want to emphasise one or two points in the hope that the Minister will reply to them.

We still want to know why the Minister went to a meeting and told the people attending it to organise a petition so that she could turn down the Kidbrooke School. After all, the Minister has to exercise a judicial function in the matter, and it is news to me, as a mere country "beak"—you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, having been a Metropolitan magistrate may know this; things may differ in the Metropolis—that the person who has to exercise the judicial function should suggest to one side or the other the way in which they are to conduct their case and the points that will appeal to the person who has to exercise the final decision.

It was quite clear from that moment that the Kidbrooke School as proposed by the London County Council was dead. After all, what happened afterwards must have been expected from that moment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) make, as he always does, a most interesting speech on the subject of technical education. Of course, technical education has always done badly in this country. A book written by a gentleman who was a member of the staff of the old Board of Education for a good many years, Mr. G. A. N. Lowndes, tells us that:
"Members of the staff transferred from the Charity Commission to the Board of Education to deal with secondary schools, used to recall the saying in pre-Board of Education days that the secondary schools are administered by gentlemen for gentlemen, the elementary school by men for men, but technical schools by cads for cads."
May I say, as one whose memories go back to that time, that it is not an inapt description of the attitude of the central Government towards technical education at that time. Let us make no mistake about it, the actions of the present Government are, to the limited extent that they have moved, a confirmation of what I am going to say.

Unless we improve the quality of our technical education and the number of students who participate in it, and give it an appropriate place in the education firmament, this country is doomed. We have to live by the creative genius of our designers and by the skill of our craftsmen. Greek poems do not rank very high in the export market, and the man who wants to write Greek poems, if he wants to live in this country, will only do so because other men design, get, make and carry goods. There must be no doubt about that when we get down to the ultimate things of life and for as long as we can foresee, it will be the success of our technical education that will determine our standard of life. Therefore, I am very glad that my hon. Friend dealt with the subject as he did.

I particularly want to emphasise what my hon. Friend said about technical instruction in grammar schools. It is quite wrong to think that in our great industries we want the second-best brains. Not merely in management but on the practical side of industry we want the best brains that can apply themselves to the practical problems that are involved in the carrying on and improvement of our historic industrial processes. That is the real answer to one of the points put by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden). Unfortunately, even people who are born with silver spoons in their mouths will find that unless our best brains regard technical things as not below their notice there will be nothing to put in the silver spoons and they will choke those having them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said a thing with which I profoundly agree. He said that the comprehensive school is the only hope in the near future for the lower middle classes being able to get the types of education in the sufficient variety which they require. I shall come hack to the comprehensive school later.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) appears to have had a highly successful professional career, for he told us that if any of his pupils had ever been unhappy he, also, would be unhappy.

And so was I very often—but perhaps, an act of oblivion has been passed over the worst excesses by our ex-pupils. I am bound to say that when I first taught I had a class of 73—and never had a class of fewer than 55—I did very well when I did not make everyone unhappy every day.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) dealt with some of the problems relating to the universities. I am sorry that the Financial Secretary was not here at the time. I would ask him to read very carefully my hon. Friend's remarks. He will find that my hon. Friend made a good many practical suggestions that were not, I think, very controversial but which ought to be brought to the notice of the University Grants Committee. If they can be acted upon I am quite certain that the contact of the universities with the ordinary life of the country will be very greatly improved.

I would ask the right hon. Lady to pay particular attention to what my hon. Friend had to say about grants to persons in training colleges. I know from my own personal correspondence and my contacts with son-le of the young people there that at the moment very acute financial pressure is being felt by some of the students.

We have spent a good deal of time this afternoon in dealing one side and the other with the comprehensive school. I am quite sure that many of the anxieties that are being felt now, especially among the parents of the children in the primary and all-age schools, arise almost entirely from their belief that the Education Act, 1944, has misfired.

What was the aim of the Education Act, 1944? In 1943, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer issued Command Paper 6458, and I want to read an essential paragraph in it, for this was the White Paper on which the debate in 1943 took place before the Bill was introduced. It deals with this problem of the age of 11, and it says:
"More serious still is the effect on the junior schools and on their pupils of the arrangements for transition from the junior schools to the various types of post-primary education. At the age of 11 the children sit for an examination on the results of which depends the nature of their further full-time schooling. The most successful—amounting to only about 9·5 per cent.—proceed to secondary schools, while the remainder, with the exception of a few who go to junior technical schools, receive the rest of their full-time education, either in separate schools for senior pupils, or in the upper classes of the old-age schools to which they already belong.
There is nothing to be said in favour of a system which subjects children at the age of 11 to the strain of a competitive examination on which, not only their future schooling, but their future careers may depend. Apart from the effect on the children, there is the effect on the curriculum of the schools themselves. Instead of the junior schools performing their proper and highly important function of fostering the potentialities of children at an age when their minds are nimble and receptive, their curiosity strong, their imagination fertile and their spirits high, the curriculum is too often cramped and distorted by over-emphasis on examination subjects and on ways and means of defeating the examiners. The blame for this rests not with the teachers but with the system."
The avowed object of the 1944 Act was to destroy that system. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the debate on that White Paper in 1943, said:
"The Government now propose a radical reconstruction of the whole scheme. We propose that the system shall be so reorganised that over 11 years of age secondary opportunities of varying types shall be offered to ad pupils according to their aptitude, and, if the choice at 11 is not satisfactory, there shall be a re-sorting up to the age of 13."
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:
"Moreover, hanging over the whole of the junior world is the special-place examination, which we propose to do away with, so that in future a child may be selected according to its talent for the various different types and choices of secondary education which I propose to describe. The poor parent gets very little consideration in our education"—
I commend this to the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East—
"and it is suggested that, although we shall not give way to the parents' belief that they think they know everything about their children and think they are the best children in the world…we shall try to bring them in to making the choice for the secondary opportunities which we propose to give to the children after the opinion of the teacher has been given."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1943; Vol. 391, c. 1827–28.]
I must say, as one who was not unconcerned with the Bill at that stage, that my feeling of frustration at the failure to implement that clear indication of the feeling of the whole House 11 years ago, gives me more disappointment than anything else that I have known in the whole of my public life.

The right hon. Gentleman's party had five years in which to carry that out. Why did not they do so?

We got on with it. My objection is that—as was made clear by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon—the reorganisation of rural schools was deliberately stopped by the Minister, according to the circular which my hon. Friend read out. Reasonable development has been stopped.

I feel very strongly about it for this reason: I sat for this examination as long ago as 1895. In the whole county of Surrey only 64 candidates presented themselves for examination, and 32 scholarships were available. I passed No. 32 on the list—three marks ahead of No. 33, who has led an honest life ever since. In the year in which the Education Act was passed 900 places were available in the secondary schools of Surrey. That seems a great advance on 32 places, but there were 9,000 candidates instead of 64.

In 1895 I landed an even money chance. In the year in which the Education Act was passed the candidates had to land odds of 9 to 1 against to get into the winning section. If I had taken the examination in that year I should have had a very good view of the race from Tattenham Corner, when the winners were going past the post.

The ambitions of parents and the needs of the nation convince me that people at least as low down on the I.Q. test—and any other test one likes to mention—as I should be today ought to be among the winners, as I was in 1895. Although it may be presumption on my part, I think that we draw the line a great deal too high, at the moment, and when we have drawn the line we condemn those above it to too narrow a curriculum. Unlike the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, who deplored the tendency to make use of aptitude tests, I think that the chief job of the educator is to deal with those tests. He cannot alter ability, but he can improve aptitude, and also prevent one aptitude from running away with a whole personality and leaving it improperly developed.

I hope that the Minister will soon agree to the completion of the reorganisation of rural schools. She must have been impressed, as I was, by the speeches made by the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) about the problem of rural parents. I do not know what experience the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) has had in this matter, but mine is that when a farmworker is about to seek a new job he is very often told by his wife to ask where the school is situated in relation to the place where he will have to work, and what that school is like.

I entirely endorse all that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd). In fact, if I had been called in the debate, I should have mentioned that my county comes fourth on the black list.

I am very glad to have given the hon. Member the opportunity of reinforcing the case.

I would ask the right hon. Lady to realise the altered outlook of the agricultural community on education, an alteration in outlook that has occurred during the last 20 years. There was a time when those of us who were keen on education regarded the farmers—not unnaturally, in some counties—as our strongest opponents; the mechanisation of agriculture and the ambitions of the workers' wives have altered that position. I very sincerely hope that the right hon. Lady will pay attention to the demands that have been made.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West alleged that there was a head teacher, whom he named, and whom I know—

He was the principal supporter in the N.U.T. of the 1944 Act. He was President when the Measure went through, and on more than one occasion I have heard him reprove other members for being lukewarm in their support of it. I want to make this quite clear. What we objected to in what the hon. Member said was this, that this man used his position inside the school to influence the minds of children in the school. That particular issue was examined by the Middlesex County Council—

—and it found that the accusation was unfounded. When one looks at the deplorable state of the schools in the United States at the present time, and even of some of the universities, one perceives that it will be a bad day for this country if ever we apply a political test to a teacher and put him under any penalty at all for holding any views unless he tries to influence the children in his school in that direction.

As one who regards the Tory Party as a greater menace than the Communist Party in this country I want to make it quite clear—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] In this country the Communist Party is only a figure of fun, because we have been wise enough not to persecute it. I want to make it quite clear that if any Tory teacher or Socialist teacher used his position to influence the children in the school in forming their political views from a party point of view I should regard him as being an unsuitable person to teach.

I am sure there is one thing the right hon. Gentleman would wish to make clear. He may wish to qualify his statement. He is on record, as I understand, as having said that he regards the Communist Party with less seriousness than he regards the Conservative.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would clear up the point. The Conservative Party is the party from which Her Majesty's present Government are drawn, and the Communist Party, on the other hand, is something which most people in this country, very rightly, seriously suspect.

I hope I said that I regard the Tory Party as a bigger danger than the Communist Party. I was brought up from my earliest days to believe that there was no greater danger to this country than a prolonged period of Tory Party rule. I shall go on believing that.

There is one final thing which I wish to say. There is a great deal of frustration in the country, and no small part of it is due to the attitude which the right hon. Lady adopts towards the local education authorities. What she has recently done in Northamptonshire appears to me to be quite indefensible. Twice the Northamptonshire County Council have put at the head of their list a school at a place called Guilsborough in the constituency of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), and my hon. and learned Friend and the Solicitor-General asked her, I understand, to receive the Northamptonshire Education Committee in order to discuss with her the reasons for eliminating that school in two successive years from the list.

Her reply to my hon. and learned Friend, which I have seen, was to the effect that she did not discuss building programmes; that was a matter for the officials. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I want to read to the right hon. Lady and to the House a letter which I received from the Clerk of the Northamptonshire County Council. He states:
"What my Council are bitterly fighting is the unwarranted and arrogant assumption by the Minister's officers that they know better than the Education Committee which are the most urgent and most important educational building projects required in this County. For two consecutive years this Guilsborough school has been given first priority in the programme submitted by my Committee and for two years some official at the Ministry—assuming that the Minister herself does not see the programme—has taken it upon himself to delete this project in favour of others which my Committee had placed at the bottom of the list."
As one who has spent 35 years on a local education authority, I think that if, in two successive years part of our programme had been deleted and we had asked to see the Minister I should have regarded it as a great affront to a great local governing body like a county council if the Minister had decided not to see us. This spirit of frustration is at large today because people feel that there is no desire on the part of the Minister to see this service grow, and if they find that local feeling is ignored, they believe that she just does not care what happens.

I sincerely hope that in any reshuffling of the Government which is to take place, both Ministers in this Department will not be found in their present posts after the reshuffle.

On a point of order. I understood that I was the only Member on my feet, and I thought that I had the Floor, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

9.0 p.m.

I have, as the House will realise, a great many questions on a great many different topics to answer, and I shall do my best to deal with them all as quickly as I can. I can only speak until 9.30. When we considered the speakers for the debate, and I realised that it had to stop at 9.30 and also that we were to be interrupted at 7 o'clock, I thought that it was better, in view of the complaints last year that so few back benchers have been able to speak, that there should be only one speaker from the Government Front Bench. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was available to answer any questions about finance if they had been asked.

On the occasion of our last debate, I thought it best to have only one Government speaker so that there might be more time for others, and on that occasion my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made the speech; so we have taken it in turns. Perhaps the best plan is to deal with the various questions which have been asked and not to go through the debate commenting on each speech.

The first point raised by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) was about the building programme. She asked whether we were building enough schools, whether we were building more schools and whether we were building them more slowly or more quickly. I do not want to go through all the figures again, but I would say that there has been more educational building work done in each year since I took office than was done before. There has been more building work done on primary and secondary schools. If necessary, I can give the figures.

On primary and secondary schools alone, in 1949, £21·3 million were spent; in 1950, £35·8 million were spent and in 1951 the figure was £35·5 million. It went down that year after the crisis of 1949. Figures for the next three years are: 1952, £36·4 million; 1953, £40·3 million; and done or to be done in 1954, £40·7 million. If we take educational building as a whole the figures are: 1949, £38 million; 1950, £49·7 million, and 1951, £48·3 million. [HON. MEMBERS: "But money has lost its value."] All these figures are on 1951 prices.

In 1951, the figure was £48·3 million and in 1952, the year when I was told that we had cut building, the figure went up to £50·1 million. That was work done. In 1953 it was £54·3 million, and in 1954 we hope to spend £55·1 million.

I will come to that. I have not very long in which to speak, but if I am not interrupted I will answer every question that has been put.

We are putting the emphasis on the secondary schools and away from the primary schools. In June of this year the number of primary school places under construction was 143,940—a decrease of 22·4 per cent. In secondary school places, there was an increase of 20·1 per cent. The amount being done is more, but gradually the emphasis is being put on secondary school places.

If the hon. Gentleman will let me continue, I think that I can give most of the facts which hon. Members have asked for. We are doing more school building and more educational building than has ever been done before. I think that we have got the work better organised, and schools are being built more quickly. The work on some was taking up to four years in the earlier days, and my predecessor, the late Mr. George Tomlinson, pointed out in Birmingham in 1950 that they were taking too long and were too expensive.

There has been a progressive improvement. Perhaps I might put the cost in this way. For £1 million in 1949 there were provided 2,800 secondary school places. There has been an improvement, gradual at first but better later, and now for £1 million instead of 2,800 places we get about 4,000.

I have made this point clear; my predecessor, the late Mr. George Tomlinson, said in 1950 that they were taking too long.

I think the hon. Member will agree that I have pointed that out—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have pointed out that gradually architects and those interested in schools and local authorities have all got together to speed up the building of schools. I think they have done a very good job.

At present, for primary school building, we have under construction places for 185,000. That is to cope with the further increase of 80,000 which will be coming into the primary schools. I give these figures to show the House that it is not merely the number of children we have to cope with, but the distribution of the population. We have to see that there are more places than the actual number of children, because we shall have empty places in some cases in the towns where people have moved out to new housing estates. There extra schools have to be provided. In the same way with the programme we now have for the secondary schools, I am convinced, that what is planned now will be sufficient for the extra children as they come into the secondary schools.

The next subject is the right type of secondary school. Several hon. Members have pointed out that in some cases there are not enough grammar school places, and in some cases it has been suggested there may be either too many or a great many more than are required. It is difficult to get a really good view of this situation for the following reasons. In certain areas few children are going to maintained or assisted grammar schools, but they may be going to direct-grant grammar schools, or to independent schools, and there have been extensions of existing secondary schools. We have the provision of selective places in secondary technical and modern schools, in other words where the technical stream or grammar stream is added to an existing school. At present 54 local education authorities are building grammar schools. We are watching and discussing with them whether we should increase the number of grammar schools, technical schools, or modern schools.

I now come to the subject of rural reorganisation. A great deal has been said about Circular 245. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) read out parts of that circular and he read them out quite correctly.

We noticed how he read it—as some people have not read it in the past—that that particular policy must "still" be carried on. The word "still" is perfectly correct. Why should it be there? It is because I was carrying on the policy laid down by the Labour Government—

—I think quite rightly. It was laid down in December, 1947, in Circular 155:

"Since it will be essential to avoid new building wherever possible, the Minister will require to be assured in each case that there are no existing premises which can reasonably be used to meet the need."
The policy was laid down that building should be done in order to get the extra number of children into the schools, and that there should not be building either for decrowding or reorganisation. At a later date that was again confirmed.

I can tell the House that when I went to the Ministry and saw this, I should have liked to change that policy. I should have liked to make other suggestions, but I came to the conclusion that the policy laid down by my predecessor was right, and that if we changed that policy we should have to change something else— the compulsory school age of from five to 15. We should have had to do so because we should not have had sufficient schools built to get the children in. Hon. Members may check that as much as they like, but these are the facts, that unless we keep that priority—I am coming to some other points about reorganisation in a moment—all children would not be in school.

I am not bothering with what Dr. Alexander says.

I have always claimed that reorganisation would be a by-product of our building of new secondary schools, and I think that is being proved to be so. I have already said that the main emphasis is now going into the building of secondary schools, and, as that emphasis goes on, I think we shall see that reorganisation is a by-product continuing—

No. The number of 13 and 14 year-old children in all-age schools has declined from 16·9 per cent. in January, 1951, to 14–3 per cent. in January, 1953. In 10 typical rural counties I have programmed since taking office more than 40 secondary modern projects, which, when completed, will enable 225 all-age schools to be reorganised. We are getting to the stage where, because of increased numbers, keeping within Circular 245, we can build new secondary modem schools large enough to take in the children from all-age schools.

If the right hon. Lady does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.

I am sorry, but I wish to answer all the questions that have been put, and I have only until 9.30 p.m. to do so.

In those areas alone, the number of all-age schools was reduced—a lot of it was in my predecessor's time—by 420 between January, 1947, and January, 1953.

I have looked at the case of Berkshire, because my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) put a point with which I thoroughly agreed. I think that hon. Members know of my interest in education in rural areas and in keeping the children in their villages and giving them their education in the country areas. In fact, on many occasions in this House and outside I have been criticised for not allowing the closing of village schools. I feel it is enormously important that country children should have their education, when possible, in the country and that the small children, above all, should have it in their own villages.

I could give examples in many counties but I will deal only with Berkshire, as time presses. In 1947, there were 115 all-age schools and departments; by 1954 that number had been reduced to 59. Twenty-three schools and departments will certainly be reorganised when the new secondary schools now under construction or programmed are completed, nearly all of them in rural areas. In addition, 14 others, all but one in rural areas, will probably be reorganised when these new schools are ready.

So the schools are under construction, or in progress. I should like to see more rapid progress, but the fact is that the amount of building we are doing and our efforts to get the children into the schools and to reduce the size of classes makes it impossible to do all we should like to do at once. I would only say that between 1947 and 1955, in five local authority areas which I have picked at random the reorganisation has meant a reduction of 244 schools.

It has been said that I have cut the programmes of local authorities. Each year local authorities send in proposals for the number of schools which they woud like to build. It has been clear that we have to keep—as my predecessor did, and I think he was right, within the scheme outlined in Circular 245—[HON. MEMBERS: "Poor old George!"] I think it only fair, when I say that I think his policy was right, that I should defend him from this Box, if no one else does.

The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East gave certain examples, and I wish also to give some. How is it that some proposals sent in by local education authorities are not accepted? I will say straight away to the hon. Lady that many local authorities who are anxious to build put in for far more than they could do, even if they got the authority. Hon. Members may say, "Ah, but they would not be able to do so, because the planning authority would not pass it" But it need not of necessity be passed by the planning authority. In many cases local authorities think that if they put in a large list some may be cut out, but the bigger the list the more they will get—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]— that is a known fact. I shall give one or two examples, bearing in mind that we must keep within the terms of Circular 245.

One small county borough, where the secondary school classes were very small, asked for a programme amounting to £330,000 to enable it to rebuild two large secondary schools. Authority was not given. In those schools there were small classes and plenty of room. Another rural authority asked for approval for work amounting to £600,000. It was given a programme costing £82,000 in order to do one urgent job which was justified under the terms of Circular 245.

One authority asked for a programme amounting to £1,360,000 and it got a programme of £433,000. On its past performance I am doubtful if it would have been able even to start such a building programme—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give the names."] I shall give one, but I wish to get on.

Will the right hon. Lady give the name of the authority asking for the £l million programme?

It was Northumberland, which the hon. Lady mentioned.

As we go on with the programme—even if it is exactly on the same basis as at present with no increases whatsoever—by 1960 there will probably be accommodation for about 40 per cent. more children than were in school in 1947. A few years later there are likely to be only about 20 per cent. more children in the schools than in 1947. As the school population passes its peak, we shall—as we shall soon begin to do—have more and more empty places in certain schools; and at that time I hope that we shall be able to stop using a lot of unsatisfactory accommodation.

As for improvements and repairs, as the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East said, there are many schools which could be improved enormously. She referred to dark and dreary schools, and she was quite right. But with repainting, and similar improvements, they would be made into good schools, from the point of view both of the teachers and of the children.

What I have done is to increase the amount allocated for minor works. This year it is £5·8 million; when I took office it was a little over £3 million. Out of that amount, £2·4 million at least may be used on improvements; the rest may be needed for enlargements. Repairs are entirely a matter for local education authorities. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-Feast that there are schools which ought to be painted and would look much more cheerful if properly repaired and painted. That is the responsibility of local education authorities. I have asked Her Majesty's Inspectors to report places where repairs and upkeep are not properly attended to. I have had some reports, and have taken the matter up.

The hon. Lady said that when the Labour Government were in office the size of classes was smaller and that under the Conservative Government the size of classes has increased. What is the reason? The highest intake into the schools has occurred during the last two years; the total has been about 500,000. I am glad to say that we are now past the worst. The teachers for these children had already been recruited and trained, and we could not do anything more about it during those two years. I am not blaming those in the Labour Government who were in charge. The fact remains that the teachers who had been recruited—it takes two years to train a teacher—were taking up posts at the time that we had this enormous increase in the number of school children. At that time no one could do anything about it.

I am glad to say that the size of classes is now going down because we have increased building and recruiting. The cheerful thing this year is that we are past the worst. The effect of the increase in the number of children will now be more gradual; we experienced the peak during the last two years. The figures for school buildings and recruitment of teachers are now increasing more rapidly, and from now onwards we shall see a distinct improvement.

As the hon. Lady said, the number of oversized classes in primary schools is 3 per cent. higher than in 1950. At the same time the numbers of such classes in secondary schools is 4 per cent. lower. We knew that the last few years would be the most difficult. Now the peak in primary schools has passed. In future buildings and teachers will increase in greater measure than in the past in relation to the increase in the number of children.

Last year was a record year for recruitment of teachers, the number accepted for the training colleges being 8,360 women and 2,120 men at this time. This year acceptances for women are 8,960, so that we have beaten last year's record. It is the same in the case of the men. We now have an opportunity to get a decrease in the over-large classes. The opportunity must be granted.

I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) said; it is in the minds of all of us. What will happen next? Will the schools admit children under five and restore the pressure to what it was? I am communicating with the local authorities. I am not discussing but putting the problem to them; I believe that we all agree upon it. The regulation at present provides for 40 children in a primary school class.

What I am putting to the local education authorities is that I would not waive the regulation if a figure in excess of 40 would be brought about by the admission of children under five. Nor shall I consider that it is right to use a school hall if it is being done for the purpose of admitting children under five, and by children under five I mean children admitted at the beginning of the term at which they become five years of age. In that way, during the next term we shall see some improvement there. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the comprehensive schools?"] I can come now to the comprehensive schools and leave out the technical schools, but there was something I wanted to say on selection at 11 plus, but I shall only say that I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The experiment has been going on, and I think we are getting to the stage when there will be much more flexibility.

Now I want to say something about the comprehensive schools. It has been suggested that I will not approve comprehensive schools and that when proposals for comprehensive schools come before me I reject them. Let me give these figures. There are 21 comprehensive schools, or instalments of such schools, now under construction in England and Wales, and of these I myself have programmed and approved the plans of 18. Of the 12 under construction in London, I have programmed and approved plans of no less than 10, and the London County Council are working on plans of five more which I have included in their programme. There are eight comprehensive schools now in existence in London, 12 are under construction, five are in an approved programme, six have been approved under Section 13 but are not yet programmed, and one has been rejected.

I rejected one—the Bec School—for these reasons. It is a good school, giving good education. Parents in that area who wish to send their children to a comprehensive school will soon find that there will be three in that area—the Wands-worth area—or very nearby, and they will have a choice. Parents who do not wish to send their children there will still have the choice of the grammar school. The Bec School is a good school. I want to see experiments all the time, but I will

Division No. 206.]


[9.30 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Colegate, W. A.Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Conant, Maj. Sir RogerHay, John
Alport, C. J. M.Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Cooper-Key, E. M.Heath, Edward
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Higgs, J. M. C.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CHill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Arbuthnot, JohnCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Crouch, R. F.Hirst, Geoffrey
Astor, Hon. J. J.Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Holland-Martin, C. J.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MDarling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Hollis, M. C.
Baldwin, A. E.Deedes, W. F.Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry
Banks, Col. C.Dodds-Parker, A. D.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Barlow, Sir JohnDonaldson, Cmdr. C E. McAHorobin, I. M.
Baxter, Sir BeverleyDonner, Sir P. W.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Beach, Maj. HicksDoughty, C. J. AHoward, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Drayson, G. B.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Duthie, W. S.Hurd, A. R.
Bennett, William (Woodside)Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. EHutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Birch, NigelErroll, F. J.Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Bishop, F. P.Fell, A.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Black, C. W.Finlay, GraemeIremonger, T. L.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. AFletcher-Cooke, C.Jennings, Sir Roland
Boyle, Sir EdwardFort, R.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Braine, B. R.Foster, JohnJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyFyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. HGalbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Kaberry, D.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Gammans, L. D.Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Brooman-White, R. C.Garner-Evans, E. H.Kerr, H. W.
Browne, Jack (Govan)George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G LloydLambert, Hon. G.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Glover, D.Lambton, Viscount
Bullard, D. G.Godber, J. B.Leather, E. H. C
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Gomme-Duncan, Col. ALindsay, Martin
Butcher, Sir HerbertGower, H. R.Linstead, Sir H. N.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Graham, Sir FergusLlewellyn, D. T.
Campbell, Sir DavidGrimston, Hon. James (St. Albans)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Carr, RobertGrimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Cary, Sir RobertHall, John (Wycombe)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Channon, H.Hare, Hon. J. H.Longden, Gilbert
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Low, A. R. W.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Cole, NormanHarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)

not agree to destroy what has been proved to be good.

I did not want to interrupt the right hon. Lady during her speech, but may I now ask her if she will answer one question? Will she give some priority to rural areas for secondary modern schools to meet the difficulties which have arisen in the winter in parts of Staffordshire?

If the hon. Gentleman will look at HANSARD tomorrow, he will see what I have said about that.

It being half-past Nine o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16 (Business of Supply), to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Resolution under consideration.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 248.

McAdden, S. J.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Perkins, Sir RobertStoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Macdonald, Sir PeterPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Storey, S.
McKibbin, A. J.Peyton, J. W. W.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Pickthorn, K. W. M.Studholme, H. G.
Maclean, FitzroyPilkington, Capt. R. A.Summers, G. S.
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, Wt.)Pitman, I. J.Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Pitt, Miss E. M.Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Powell, J. EnochTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Teeling, W.
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir ReginaldPrior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Markham, Major Sir FrankRaikes, Sir VictorThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Marlowe, A. A. H.Ramsden, J. E.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Marples, A. E.Rayner, Brig. R.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Redmayne, M.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Maude, AngusRemnant, Hon. P.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Maudling, R.Renton, D. L. M.Tilney, John
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Ridsdale, J. E.Touche, Sir Gordon
Medlicott, Brig. F.Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Turner, H. F. L.
Mellor, Sir JohnRobinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)Turton, R. H.
Molson, A. H. E.Robson-Brown, W.Vane, W. M. F.
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Moore, Sir ThomasRoper, Sir HaroldVosper, D. F.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nabarro, G. D. N.Russell, R. S.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Neave, AireyRyder, Capt. R. E. D.Walker-Smith, D. C.
Nicholls, HarmarSandys, Rt. Hon. D.Wall, Major Patrick
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Nield, Basil (Chester)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Watkinson, H. A.
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Shepherd, WilliamWebbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Nugent, G. R. H.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Wellwood, W.
Nutting, AnthonySmithers, Peter (Winchester)Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Oakshott, H. D.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Odey, G. WSmyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
O'Niell, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Snadden, W. McN.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Soames, Capt. C.Wills, G.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Speir, R. MWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)Wood, Hon. R.
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Osborne, C.Stevens, Geoffrey


Page, R. G.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Legh.


Acland, Sir RichardCraddock, George (Bradford, S.)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Adams, RichardCrosland, C. A. R.Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Albu, A. H.Grossman, R. H. S.Hale, Leslie
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Cullen, Mrs. A.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Daines, P.Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Hamilton, W. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Darling, George (Hillsborough)Hannan, W.
Awbery, S. S.Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Hargreaves, A.
Bacon, Miss AliceDavies, Harold (Leek)Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)
Balrd, J.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Hastings, S.
Balfour, Freitas, GeoffreyHayman, F. H.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Deer, G.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Bartley, P.Delargy, H. J.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Dodds, N. N.Herbison, Miss M.
Benson, G.Donnelly, D. L.Hewitson, Capt. M.
Beswick, F.Driberg, T. E. N.Hobson, C. R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Holman, P.
Blackburn, F.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Holmes, Horace
Blenkinsop, A.Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Holt, A. F.
Blyton, W. R.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Houghton, Douglas
Boardman, H.Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Hoy, J. H.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Bowen, E. R.Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Bowles, F. G.Fernyhough, E.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethFienburgh, W.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Brockway, A. F.Finch, H. J.Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Foot, M. M.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Forman, J. C.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Burton, Miss F. E.Freeman, John (Watford)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Callaghan, L. J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Jeger, George (Goole)
Carmichael, J.Gibson, C. W.Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Glanville, JamesJenkins, R. H. (Stechford)
Champion, A. J.Gooch, E. G.Johnson, James (Rugby)
Chapman, W. D.Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Clunie, J.Greenwood, AnthonyJones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Coldrick, W.Grenfelt, Rt. Hon. D. R.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaGrey, C. F.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Cove, W. G.Griffiths, David (Rather Valley)Keenan, W.

Kenyon, C.Palmer, A. M. F.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Key, Rt. Hon. C. WPannell, CharlesSummerskill, Rt. Hon. E
King, Dr. H. M.Pargiter, G. A.Swingler, S. T.
Lawson, G. M.Parker J.Sylvester, G. O.
Lee, Frederick (Newton)Parkin, B. T.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Paton, J.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Peart, T. F.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Plummer, Sir LeslieThomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Lewis, ArthurPorter, GThomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Lindgren, G. S.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Thornton, E.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Tomney, F
Logan, D. GProctor, W. T.Turner-Samuels, M.
MacColl, J. E.Pryde, D. J.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
McInnes, J,Pursey, Cmdr. H.Viant, S. P.
McKay, John (Wallsend)Rankin, JohnWade, D. W.
McLeavy, F.Reeves, J.Wallace, H. W.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)Warbey, W. N.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Reid, William (Camlachie)Watkins, T. E.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Rhodes, H.Weitzman, D.
Manuel, A. C.Richards, R.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Marquand, Rt. Hon H. ARoberts, Albert (Normanton)Wells, William (Walsall)
Mason, RoyRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)West, D. G.
Mayhew, C. P.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Wheeldon, W. E.
Mellish, R. J.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Messer, Sir F.Ross, WilliamWigg, George
Mitchison, G. R.Royle, CWilcock, Group Capt. C. A B
Moody, A. S.Shackleton, E. A. A.Wilkins, W. A.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir HartleyWilley, F. T.
Morley, R.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Williams, David (Neath)
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Short, E. W.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Shurmer, P. L. E.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Mort, D. L.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Moyle, A.Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Wiilliams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Mulley, F. W.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Wilson, Rt. Hon,. Harold (Huyton)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Skeffington, A. M.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
O'Brien, T.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Oldfield, W. H.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Oliver, G. H.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Wyatt, W. L.
Orbach, M.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Yates, V. F.
Oswald, T.Sorensen, R. W.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Padley, W. E.Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Paget, R. T.Sparks, J. A.


Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Steele, T.Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.

then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to X of the Civil Estimates and of the Revenue Departments Estimates, the Ministry of Defence Estimate, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates and the Air Estimates.

Civil Estimates And Supplementary Estimates, 1954–55

Class I

Central Government And Finance


"That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Class I of the Civil Estimates."

put, and agreed to.

Class Ii

Commonwealth And Foreign


"That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Class II of the Civil Estimates."

put, and agreed to.

Class Iii

Home Department, Law And Justice


"That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolution reported in respect of Class III of the Civil Estimates."

put, and agreed to.

Class Iv