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Commons Chamber

Volume 643: debated on Friday 30 June 1961

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House Of Commons

Friday, 30th June, 1961

The House met at Eleven o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Cereals (Deficiency Payments)

11.5 a.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

I beg to move,

That the Cereals (Deficiency Payments) (Amendment) Order, 1961 (S.I. 1961, No. 1072), dated 6th June, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th June, be approved.

I do not know how the House would desire to deal with this and the following Motion,

That the Cereals (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1961 (S.I. 1961, No. 1071), dated 5th June, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th June, be approved.
If it would be convenient to discuss the two Orders together, I would approve that course.

If you please, Mr. Speaker. I hope that it will be convenient to discuss the two together.

Both Orders are concerned essentially with barley and amend the main Orders which provide for deficiency payments for cereals. Neither Order introduces any basic change in our support policy for cereal crops. They are necessary to put into effect the proposed arrangements for making deficiency payments for barley which were announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister in the House on 17th May. Hon. Members will remember that these proposals were welcomed by both sides of the House and the industry.

One of the difficulties which growers and the trade have encountered in the marketing of barley has been the tendency for a large proportion of the crop to be sold by growers immediately after the harvest or very early in the season. This has had the effect of depressing the market price at that time of the year. I am glad to say that it has now become accepted that it would be advantageous to both buyers and sellers if the quantities offered on the market could be more evenly spread throughout the season.

Last autumn brought the problem home to many in a marked way. There was a record crop, which, unfortunately, coincided with a long spell of wet weather during harvest time and immediately after. These circumstances meant that many barley growers in the end decided to sell their crop early to avoid losses from deterioration. Weather cannot, however, be regarded as the sole cause of these early marketings or of the price level at any one time. So far as it is a factor in any year, no Government can prevent weather having an effect on the market, but the Government can, at least, try to encourage more orderly marketing of the crop by introducing arrangements to provide growers with an incentive to hold barley until later in the season.

The incentive which we are proposing will be financed within the total sum payable for growers under the guarantee for barley. In short, the deficiency payments will be reduced by 9d. per cwt. on barley sold early in the season and increased by up to 1s. 6d. per cwt. for barley held and marketed late in the season.

No one would pretend that these adjustments will be a complete solution to all marketing problems, but they can, I am sure, make a valuable contribution. Last year, about 65 per cent. of all barley sold off farms was delivered between July and October. It is hoped that the proposed deductions and premiums will reduce this amount appreciably and relieve some of the pressure on the market in these months.

The details of the scheme have been worked out with representatives of the growers and the main users of barley, and I should like to express my appreciation of the help they have given in this respect. The Order does not set out the arrangements in detail, but I am sure that the House would like to hear again briefly the arrangements which my right hon. Friend made on 17th May. In July, August, September and October, there will be a deduction of 9d. per cwt. In November and December, there will be no deduction or premium. In January and February, there will be 1s. per cwt. premium, and in March, April, May or June a premium of 1s. 6d. per cwt.

It is a fundamental principle of these new arrangements that the total sum payable by the Exchequer as deficiency payments on the barley crop shall continue to be laid down by the method in the main 1955 Order—that is, the difference between the average realised price and the guaranteed price. The amending Order, therefore, provides for a redistribution of these deficiency funds, not for any change in the amount of the Government's liability under the guarantee. With the help of the Advisory Committee, we have fixed the rates for the 1961 crop so that the totals of the deductions and the additions should balance, so far as can be estimated.

This order, in sub-paragraph (b) of the Proviso set out in Article 2, provides for Ministers to take account of any difference between the total deductions and the additions when deciding the basic rate of acreage payment. For instance, if at the end of the season the total additions exceed the total deductions, the basic rate of acreage payment to all growers will be reduced by a small amount. Conversely, if the total deductions are more than the additional payments, then the basic rate of acreage payment to all growers will be increased. It is intended to make the deductions when making the advance payments to the growers concerned, and every effort will be made, even though there is this new arrangement, to issue these advance payments as early as possible. Additions for barley delivered later in the cereal year will have to be made at the end of the cereal year, that is, about the time when the final payments are made.

The Cereals (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1961, introduces consequential and necessary Amendments to the main 1958 Order to make the new arrangements workable. It enables Ministers to obtain from growers and buyers of barley the additional information necessary to adjust the acreage payments to individual growers. These arrangements are broadly similar, having regard to the difference in the payments system, to those which apply to wheat, and will not be unfamiliar to those concerned as a necessary means to prevent financial abuse.

The most important change is that every person who, for re-sale or in the course of a trade or business other than farming, buys barley from a registered grower has to be registered by or on behalf of the Minister before buying. A farmer who buys barley from growers for use on his own holding need not be registered. This also provides for the keeping of records and the furnishing of returns by growers and buyers, and I will not weary the House with the details of these returns. We have done our best to make these requirements as simple as possible to operate the scheme effectively, and to safeguard the interests of the Exchequer.

This is a new scheme, and it is designed to contribute to the orderly marketing of the home barley crop. In the White Paper which followed this year's Price Review, it was stated that new arrangements for barley marketing would be introduced. These have now been worked out and agreed with the farmers and the corn trade, and these Orders are to give effect to them. I therefore commend them to the House.

11.14 a.m.

We welcome the encouragement given to growers to spread out more evenly throughout the year the marketing of barley, and the result could be that in certain circumstances the grower will get better prices and cost the taxpayer less. As the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has just reminded us, there was a scheme similar to this four or five years ago for wheat.

But is it not really a waste of paper and of Parliamentary time for us to be here discussing this today when a problem which is 100 times greater is neglected? I refer to the problem of dumping, which is really affecting the price of barley today. We are being flooded with French and Russian barley at enormous cost to the taxpayer. Has not the Government put in jeopardy the whole system of price support for agriculture? The taxpayer will not take kindly to handing over extra millions to barley farmers, and in the long run the whole of the agricultural community will suffer because the support system will be brought into disrepute.

It must have been obvious at the end of last year that a barley crisis was developing. First, it was obvious that because of the weather the acreage of barley planted in this country would increase. Secondly, it was obvious that if the price fell the taxpayer would be left with a very large deficiency payment. In February, I mentioned in this House a figure of between £30 million and £40 million for support. It is true that I gave some different reasons for this figure, but at that time I was told that there was no possible chance that such a figure would be reached; yet, nowadays, when this subject is discussed, the figure quoted is over £40 million.

At the beginning of this year, the National Farmers' Union, my hon. Friends and I and some hon. Members on the other side were pressing the Government to call a conference of barley exporting countries. We saw the problem which would arise, but the Government did nothing at all to tackle this problem. They did not call a conference. Now, they welcome the initiative of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, which is calling a conference in London in August. But, of course, the damage is done, and this conference is a conference of producer organisations and not of Governments.

In fact, the last conference of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers at Dubrovnik last month recognised the limits of the powers of producers organisations and expressly referred to the action which Governments might take. This is one of the statements made:
"The Policy Committee noted that there had been a considerable further detrioration in the price of barley arising from the sales of Russian barley at excessively low prices and observed that any action to improve the position could only be effected through by-lateral discussions between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R."
Incidentally, the report of the Grain Sub-Committee under a Canadian chairman, contained this sentence:
"Special attention was given to one aspect of the coarse grain situation, namely, the sales of barley to the United Kingdom on a subsidised basis."
They do not make any bones about it, and it is relevant when we come to discuss anti-dumping action to note that this Committee under its Canadian chairman makes no bones about describing the sales of barley as being subsidised.

I ask the Government at least to follow carefully what this conference in August will do, and to remember that, although there is over-production of barley in Europe, there are millions in other parts of the world who could use it. They should remember, too, that there are certain kinds of barley which can be mixed with rice to make rice go further. They should remember that it is our duty in the West to help the people of the poorer countries. In particular, it is up to the Government to put some teeth into this Resolution of the Dubrovnik Conference of the I.F.A.P. I shall not quote from all the Resolutions, but I shall read one or two short sentences:
"It recognises that there is a great unfulfilled need for food in the world today; that the agricultural resources of the world are sufficient or could be made sufficient to fulfill this need;—"
and this is the point for action—
"and resolves that an International Food Distribution Agency should be established under the auspices and general policy direction of F.A.O. to handle the food assistance included in the expanded programme of general economic aid".
I remind the House again that a conference of barley exporting countries was advocated by the National Farmers' Union and by my hon. Friends and me right at the beginning of the year. After several months' delay, a conference is to be held in August, but it is a conference of producers, not of Governments, and it is too late. The best we can hope from it is that the Government will take some action in the international field to help the International Federation of Agricultural Producers get the action it wants.

I have already talked about dumping. In the first four months of this year more barley came to this country from Russia than this country's total imports of barley from all sources in the same period last year. As the price comes tumbling down, so the problem gets worse and worse. Incidentally, it is strange that although the price of barley comes down, the price of beer seems to rise steadily. In the same way, the price of bread seems to rise as the price of wheat decreases. However, the House is discussing barley at the moment and I must not get out of order. Yesterday in a trade paper I saw French barley offered c.i.f. south coast ports at £14 8s. 6d. We know that French farmers receive £23. I remind the House again that the agricultural support system works only when imported food comes in at a fair economic price in relation to the cost of production. Further, the deficiency payment system is accepted by the consumer as a consumer and a taxpayer only when the home producer has to compete with imports sold at fair economic prices in relation to the cost of production.

The National Farmers' Union made an anti-dumping application to the Government on Monday of last week. When are we to be told of the Government's decision? I know that it took the Milk Marketing Board five months to get an answer from the Government on dumping. Are the Government out to beat that record? They seem to be very slow indeed. It looks as if they are abdicating and, as I said in another context, leaving the field to Lord Beaverbrook. I see that the Farming Express is now launching an anti-dumping league.

The agricultural community recognises that this issue goes beyond barley, because it affects public confidence in the support system. In the last agricultural debate I asked for a declaration by the Government that they recognised that the producer of agricultural products is as much entitled to protection under anti-dumping legislation as is the producer of manufactured goods. I repeat that request. But I go further. I want evidence that the Government mean business on dumping. Dumped Russian and French barley could be the end of the agricultural support system which we worked so hard to establish. Do the Government really expect us to sit back and watch them selling British agriculture down the Volga?

The Government argue that it is difficult to find the cost of production for Russian barley and, therefore, difficult to invoke the anti-dumping provisions. For the sake of argument I will accept that, but it does not apply to French barley. The French admit that it is dumped. It matters little to a farmer whether he is sold down the Seine or the Volga. The whole agricultural community is beginning to realise that this problem affects them.

The only explanation that I can find—I do so with great reluctance—is that the Minister of Agriculture has been beaten in the Cabinet on the whole future of British agriculture. I believe the explanation is that the Government have decided that in the world of international trade British agriculture is expendable. That is the only explanation I can think of for the Government's attitude in refusing to take action against dumping. The Government should be frank and admit it.

11.25 a.m.

I confirm that there is considerable anxiety in the farming community about the future of the deficiency payments scheme. This is because of the large amount which will be asked from the taxpayers to make up the deficits on these schemes, this in turn being due to the sale in our market of products from abroad—apparently very much under cost price. I hope that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, though I understand that this is a narrow debate, will be able to say something about this. I hope that he will be able to say that he is either now having, or will have, consultations with the Governments concerned. It is now apparent—it has been apparent for some time—that if the Common Market were to come into being without our participation we should be the obvious dumping ground for its surplus products. This is certainly a reason for entering into negotiations with a view to getting inside the Common Market.

Order. Before the debate gets wholly out of order, I think I should remind the House that the topic must be barley, with some small exception relating to registration and some small mention of wheat. The topic today is barley.

I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. I had not intended to go on to talk about barley growers being sold down the Rhine, the Seine or any other European river. A great deal of this trouble arises from outside those areas, and I hope that negotiations are either contemplated or going on between both Governments this side and the other side of the Iron Curtain and in and outside the Six.

I come now to the Orders. I think I heard the Joint Parliamentary Secretary say that a farmer who buys barley need not register. Perhaps he will confirm that.

A farmer who buys barley from a neighbour to feed his own stock, need not be registered.

The Parliamentary Secretary then said that the procedure, not only in the Cereals (Deficiency Payments) (Amendment) Order but also in the Cereals (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order has been discussed and agreed with the various parties. Presumably those are chiefly dealers in barley, distillers, maltsters, etc. I do not know whether the form of the request for particulars has been agreed, but can we take it that the general outline of the form has been agreed? Is it thought that both farmers who are buying barley for feed and dealers in other sorts of barley will have no difficulty in complying with these particulars?

11.28 a.m.

I wish to ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary two questions regarding barley. In my opinion, the second Order to which he referred penalised two classes of farmers. The man who is hard up has to sell his barley early in the season and he is penalised. And the one man who should not be penalised is the hard-up man. To me, this seems the wrong way to operate. It will benefit people who do not require to be benefited, such as the brewers and distillers who always buy early. That is the reason for the large amount of buying of barley in July, August and September. So we shall be benefiting the brewers and distillers who have put up the price of beer and whisky and we shall be penalising the hard-up farmer who is obliged to sell his barley early.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has referred to the second point which I wish to raise, the question of direct selling from farm to farm, of which there is a considerable amount. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary told the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that no record had to be made by a farmer who bought from a neighbour for feedingstuffs. But what about the farmer who sells? How is his subsidy to be calculated if he makes no record of his direct barley sales? Will not this raise quite a problem? I feel certain that it will cause considerable difficulty. If a return has to be made, or if it is desired to benefit from the increased subsidy later in the year, everything will be sold through merchants. That will add to the cost of the barley because, as hon. Members will be aware, merchants do not work for nothing.

I wish now to wander a little from the content of the Orders and come to the question of dumping. I am sorry for the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary because any controls that existed previously regarding the handling of problems caused by dumping were discarded many years ago. Now the position is that the Government cannot do anything about it. I do not see how they can possibly deal with the situation because the action which is taken is always too late. It is not necessary for there to be a big flow of surplus barley in order to affect the price. It requires only one shipload and down goes the price. In nearly every country in the world—we do not, of course, know what happens in Russia—there is a subsidy of some sort or other and so it is difficult to maintain that a world price exists. This is all a matter of surpluses, and we are the natural dumping ground for them. But without suitable controls, and bulk buying is one of them, how can we deal with the situation?

What has happened about the price of feedingstuffs? We find that the barley price has dropped by almost 50 per cent., but the price of poultry and pig feeding-stuffs has not dropped to that extent. The price of beer has gone up and the price of whisky has not gone down. Although this Order will help towards the orderly marketing of barley at home, the big question is the problem of dumping, and I think that we shall have to adopt some other system in order to deal with that.

11.33 a.m.

Hon. Members on this side of the House welcome these Orders, and that applies especially in my case and that of my constituents. It is always pleasant to deal with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Ministry believes that it is necessary to give a man a financial incentive in order to persuade him to do something, rather than to pray that the man will do it because he is a decent chap. Money is a much greater incentive than exhortation. Certainly this will encourage the farmer who installed proper machinery and other facilities, including grain driers. Recently a large co-operative grain drier was installed in my constituency, and the benefit of this will now be increased.

The real subject of this debate is the problem of dumping. I noted that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was thinking almost nostalgically of the Corn Laws. The farmer is also a consumer as well as a producer, and it is evident that he does not take the position over the dumping of barley too much to heart. He has the advantage of cheap barley for feeding-stuffs and he sells his barley with the subsidy payments. So that the farmer is not as sorry about it as all that.

The whole question of dumping is a worry to my constituents. There is hardly a weekend when I am not approached in some market town or other in my constituency about either the question of Polish eggs or French barley—

Order. The market towns in the hon. Gentleman's constituency are not subject to the rules of order and do not experience difficulty in bringing a reference to Polish eggs into a debate about barley.

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was carried beyond my point by the depth of feeling among my constituents.

Everybody asks why something cannot be done quickly. The Corn Laws, which, as I say, the second party in opposition looked at with such horror some years ago, at least had the effect of initiating action quickly. As soon as the price in any area rose above a certain point imports were stopped. Something done quickly is something that works. Today there is delay. We talk about the dumping of various products, but a protest is made weeks after the glut has finished, as happened in the case of certain imports from Poland not long ago. We require something to be done quickly, and if we are to do anything about the problem of dumping, let it be done quickly.

11.35 a.m.

By leave of the House, I shall try to reply to the not so numerous questions which have arisen on the Orders and then say something about the bigger subject of dumping which, in fact, is rather far from the administrative provisions which I introduced at the beginning of the debate.

I am glad that the House has echoed the welcome to the general proposal to introduce machinery to give some stability to the marketing of the home crop of barley. The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) said that this will penalise a man who has to sell early in the season who may be hard-up. I do not think it is possible for us to devise any system of this kind which will meet, or at least be an advantage to, 100 people out of 100. But I am certain that this will be welcomed by the great majority Over the last few years barley has been a profitable crop. There is no evidence to suppose, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Enfield, East, that those who sell early are the small operators with less resources and that later sales are representative of large barley sellers generally. There are many growers who by habit and practice sell part of their crop early and part late in the season. They will probably go on doing so. We hope, however, that as a result of the adjustments which we are proposing, they may feel inclined to sell rather less early and instead rather later in the season.

That makes my point that the people who can afford to do that will be benefited.

If we followed the argument of the hon. Member for Enfield, East to its logical conclusion, we should make the price higher at the beginning of the season in order to meet the man whose resources are limited, and that would aggravate the present difficulty. I think we may rule out that as a serious suggestion without further discussion.

We have consulted all the interests concerned over the question of arrangements. It is not an entirely novel idea. They follow the lines of the administration for the wheat deficiency payments. I do not think that it ought to present any great difficulties, because there is nothing complicated in these proposals. The hon. Member for Enfield, East said something for which I wish to thank him. He said that he was sorry for the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. Bearing in mind that I have to try to reply to the various things which have been said about dumping, I think that the House may well feel sorry for a Joint Parliamentary Secretary who has to do that on a Friday morning. But I will try to do what I can.

It is entirely wrong to suggest that the Government are not vitally interested in this problem. It could not be otherwise. More than one hon. Member has said that the import of low-priced barley in this country includes, as many now believe, a good deal that is dumped, and on the admission of those who have sent it. But we must be clear that everything entering the markets of this country from overseas at a lesser price is not dumped. Nonetheless, it has been suggested that some are selling in the market under such conditions as we technically accept as dumping.

I am sorry in a way that this debate has not taken place a few days later because it is, I think, the intention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to make a statement in the very near future, and I do not mean in a matter of weeks. The House will realise that on this occasion, when we are dealing with the rather narrow administrative provisions introduced by these two Orders, it is not possible for me to carry on with what was one of the main themes of our agricultural debate the other day or with another argument which could possibly prejudice the consultations going on with those concerned at this time. One hon. Member asked me to give an assurance that this was happening.

It was also suggested that even after an interested organisation or party, such as the National Farmers' Union, had made an application it was months, rather than weeks or days, before the Government were able to make a decision. Again, I can say that I hope that there will be a statement from this Box on this matter in a matter of days rather than of weeks.

The House will, I hope, appreciate that I cannot go further on this occasion, when we are really concerned with the detailed provisions of marketing the home crop. We appreciate, bearing in mind that we produce the greater part of our own needs, that the home crop can be thrown into difficulties by unexpected imports at low prices. Nonetheless, I cannot now go into all the major factors concerning this country's trading policy, but I can assure hon. Members that we appreciate that the present system of price support for agriculture does, in fact, depend on fair marketing conditions. With those words, I hope that the House will agree to approve these Orders.

If a farmer sells to another farmer for feed there are neither deductions nor premiums. It is deemed to have been sold during the neutral period when there is a basic deficiency payment current, so there is no complication in this.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the Cereals (Deficiency Payments) (Amendment) Order, 1961 (SI, 1961, No. 1072), dated 6th June, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th June, be approved.

Cereals (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1961 (S.I., 1961, No. 1071) dated 5th June, 1961 [copy laid before the House. 8th June], approved.—[ Mr. Vane.]

Public Health Bill Lords

Order for Second Reading read.

11.44 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government
(Sir Keith Joseph)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

This Bill comes to us from another place where, despite a few criticisms, some of which were met by Amendments, it received a warm, general welcome. The Bill has three main purposes. The first is to give local authorities a number of well-precedented powers in the field of public health and safety. The second is to replace the system of prescribing and relaxing building bye-laws by a system of building regulations. The third is to bring under local authority control some effluents at present not under their control.

The firt point concerns the largest part of the Bill, in fact, the whole Bill except for Clauses 4 and 11 and Part V and is comprised of Clauses giving well-precedented general powers, all drawn from local authority Acts, to local authorities in connection with public health and safety. Local authorities have not really had any substantial increase in their general powers in this field since the Public Health Act of 1925, because the Public Health Act of 1936 was primarily a consolidating Measure.

Since 1925, new needs have cropped up. A number of these have been met by local authorities in their private Acts by new Clauses. Other local authorities have copied these new Clauses and a volume of precedents has been built up and some of these Clauses have achieved the respectability of graduating into the Book of model Clauses published under the authority of the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Lord Chairman. It is not altogether fair to local authorities that they should have to petition Parliament for powers which have been shown to be generally good. Nor is it altogether fair to Parliament that we should be required to scrutinise local authority Bills which, on this account, have been made unnecessarily long.

As recently as 1959, the Joint Committee on the Promotion of Private Bills recommended that the Government should, at least every ten years, gather together into a public Measure a number of these new Clauses that have been found to meet general needs. This is the purpose of the bulk of the Bill now before the House. Most of the Clauses concerned are, as I say, well precedented. A number of them are model Clauses and, if and when the Bill becomes law, the number of 120 model Clauses will dwindle by 41, which are reproduced in the Bill. But they are not reproduced verbatim, because when we come to put a general power in the hands of local authorities, in general terms, we must make sure that it covers the widest form of need and that it harmonises with other legislation.

Most of these powers fall within the interest of my right hon. Friend, while some of them concern others of his right hon. Friends. Part III of the Bill which deals with the prevention and notification of disease concerns my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. Clauses 74 and 75, which are concerned with pleasure fairs and roller skating rinks and seaside pleasure boats, are within the sphere of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I can assure the House that no one of these Clauses, except perhaps Clause 76, should cause any political controversy.

I hope that the House realises the wide variety of subjects that are covered by the Clauses, which are difficult to summarise in a Second Reading speech. Those subjects range from rags to rinks, from cellars to chimneys, from skiing to skittles, and from pigeons to parks. The most commonly occurring subject is drains. These Clauses can be discussed in Committee, but I will try to answer any questions of principle involved. This part of the Bill is, I am sure, useful and will be widely welcomed by local authorities.

Clauses 4 to 11 intend to substitute for the present procedure of prescribing and relaxing building byelaws a new system of prescribing and relaxing them involving building regulations. But I would like to emphasise that there is absolutely no intent to alter in any way the powers of enforcement. Responsibility for enforcing them at present rests on local authorities who discharge these responsibilities ably and effectively and there is no intention whatever to alter the responsibilities or the powers of enforcement. The Bill alters the procedure for prescribing and relaxing what are now building byelaws.

The present procedure is that no fewer than about 1,400 different local authorities have byelaw-making powers but they can only make byelaws subject to confirmation by my right hon. Friend.

All byelaws have to be renewed every ten years. The last review was in 1952–53. There can be absolutely no relaxation of any individual byelaw without the consent of my right hon. Friend, and if a local authority is unwilling to seek the consent of my right hon. Friend the applicant for relaxation has neither redress nor appeal.

It is true that about 70 per cent. of local authorities have adopted my right hon. Friend's model set of byelaws and the rest of the local authorities have bye-laws in rough conformity, but it is, nevertheless, also true that this machinery for prescribing and relaxing byelaws is cumbersome, time wasting and can lead, in some cases, to inefficiency. It maximises the work in local authority offices and in my right hon. Friend's Department, as well as in the offices of architects, engineers and all those concerned with the construction industry all over the country.

Every ten years a new set of byelaws has to be adopted by each one of 1,400 local authorities who may choose to adopt my right hon. Friend's model with OT without variations. Every ten years each one of those 1,400 sets has to be scrutinised and considered by my right hon. Friend and in due course confirmed with or without variation. Every ten years every one of these 1,400 byelaws has to be printed in a different local version and then distributed by each local authority as its own local version of the byelaws.

No designer in any part of the country can take it for granted that the bye-laws to which his building has to conform will be the same in one area and in a neighbouring area. In between the ten-year reviews, there is bound to be some delay in the adoption of new techniques, methods and standards of construction. Even if the developers of a new technique persuade my right hon. Friend to vary his model byelaws, it may be years before all the 1,400 local authorities in the country are equally persuaded and have gone through the process of adoption of the variation, have had it confirmed and included it in the reprint of their own byelaws.

There is no procedure by which an applicant who cannot persuade the local authority to seek the relaxation by my right hon. Friend of any particular byelaw to make an appeal against that decision. This cannot be a sensible system for a country which is short of labour and which is particularly short of staff in local authorities. This cannot be a sensible system for a country so utterly dependent as we are upon technological change.

The Bill, therefore, proposes a much simpler mechanism. The proposal which is to be found in Clauses 4 to 11 is that my right hon. Friend should have power to make a central code of building regulations, and to revise it constantly as need may be, on the advice of a building regulations advisory council which this Bill will empower him to set up. The Bill provides that the regulations shall be laid as a Statutory Instrument and shall be subject to the negative Resolution procedure of this House.

My right hon. Friend is aware that some local authorities have expressed fears that existing local variations from the current model building byelaws will disappear when building regulations are made. I cannot, of course, give any undertaking on behalf of my right hon. Friend that any particular existing local variation will be preserved in building regulations. Uniformity is generally desirable, and if building byelaws were not being replaced by building regulations it would certainly have been necessary to have a further close look at the continued need for these variations in the light of revised model building byelaws and of local conditions.

But let me make it absolutely clear that my right hon. Friend has no desire to enforce uniformity where the general provisions of building regulations do not fit local conditions, and he will be ready to examine proposals for variations which will be directed towards some local need. He is specifically empowered by Clause 4 (2) to make regulations which may make different provisions for different areas, and the Government included this provision in the Bill because it is recognised that special local circumstances may require special treatment. In fact, the position about local variations is not being materially altered by the Bill.

At the moment, a local authority has to make its case to my right hon. Friend for any variation from his model set of byelaws, and in future a local authority will have to make its case to my right hon. Friend for any variation of the standard code of regulations. I hope that this will put the minds of hon. Members at rest on this point and will dispel any lurking fears that my right hon. Friend has some predisposition to reject out of hand all suggestions for local variations regardless of local circumstances and need.

I have already stressed that the enforcement procedure will be left where it is now, in the hands of local authorities, but I should finish my description of this part of the Bill by explaining that two substantial changes are being proposed in the present system of relaxing byelaws. The Bill empowers my right hon. Friend to reserve to himself the right to relax those building regulations which he thinks might cause particular difficulty. But for all the rest, the Bill proposes that local authorities, without the confirmation of my right hon. Friend, shall have the power on their own to relax the other building regulations.

As a corollary to this, any applicant for relaxation, who is refused relaxation by a local authority in the case of a building regulation, for which it has power of its own to give relaxation, will have a right of appeal to my right hon. Friend. So much for Clauses 4 to 11.

Now I turn to Pant V, which deals with the powers of local authorities over some effluents at present exempt from their control. The House will be aware that by the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act, 1937, local authorities were given general powers over trade effluent. Their consent since then has been needed for the discharge of any trade effluent into their sewers. Local authorities were then given powers to impose conditions on any such discharge and to make charges for any such discharge.

There is, of course, a system of appeal to my right hon. Friend. But the 1937 Act exempted from this control all trade effluents which had been lawfully discharged at any time during the twelve months ending 3rd March, 1937. Moreover, the effect of this part of the 1937 Act is that a trader may on every day of the year discharge, if he wishes, up to the maximum discharge made on any single day in that qualifying year, and the local authority is obliged to receive the effluents either free of charge, if that was the agreement made before 1937, or at the charges operating in that year.

A little while ago my right hon. Friend invited the Sub-Committee of the Central Advisory Water Committee that has been sitting under Sir Frederick Armer to consider the position. This Sub-Committee under Sir Frederick Armer had on it members from industry, local authorities, river boards and from the technical world. That part of its Report which refers to this subject was unanimous and was unanimously endorsed by the parent committee.

The sub-committee came to the conclusion that it would be wrong that this perpetual exemption should continue or that local authorities should have to go on indefinitely dealing with these effluents on pre-1937 terms. The subcommittee thought, on the other hand, that it would not be right to withdraw exemptions altogether—that is to say, to take away the right to discharge—hut it considered that such discharges should be dependent upon new consents which would enable local authorities, subject to a right of appeal, to fix reasonable terms.

Naturally, as a result of this recommendation there were differing reactions. Local authorities, on the one hand, regretted that the advice had not been to abolish the exemption altogether. On the other hand, and equally naturally, industry did not welcome the idea of higher charges. But my right hon. Friend was satisfied that the analysis of the position by the sub-committee and its solution was a just one, and he has followed its recommendations in Part V of the Bill.

I should only add, to explain one other change in the situation, that by Part V of the Bill some kinds of non-domestic effluent, especially agricultural ones, and especially those coming from scientific research establishments which have not in the past ranked as trade effluents, are now to be brought within that class and thus under local authority control.

Those are the three main purposes of the Bill. The Bill does not apply to Scotland, to Northern Ireland or, apart from one minor Clause, Clause 70, to the administrative County of London. It draws heavily on the experience of local authorities, which have, through their associations, been very fully consulted. It is a useful and constructive Measure in a long line of such Public Health Bills, and I heartily commend it to the House.

12 noon.

The Parliamentary Secretary expounded the Bill very clearly. I shall be concerned mainly to draw attention to certain matters on which we hope to be more fully informed at later stages about the Government's intentions. The Bill was said by a noble Lord in another place to have had a tempestuous passage there. From a reading of the debates in another place, I think that there was not what we, in this House, should have regarded as a tempest, but perhaps standards are different there; nor is this really a very tempestuous subject.

I take, first, the subject of building byelaws. There is no doubt that a procedure such as that described in the Bill is necessary and desirable. I gather that the Minister will have power to make his code of building regulations apply to either England and Wales as a whole or to parts of England and Wales, but from the way the Parliamentary Secretary phrased it I gained the impression that, in general, there would be one code and that it is not proposed to have two or three different codes for different parts of the kingdom.

I have in mind, for instance, the desirability of requiring that building in certain parts of the country should be done with local materials. The Cotswolds is an obvious example. I imagine that that will be the kind of matter which the Minister will have to consider when drawing up his code of regulations and making provision for local variations. I believe that this new arrangement to have, subject to variation, one code of regulations instead of 1,400 sets of byelaws will be welcome to local authorities and, even more, I imagine, to architects and builders.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the Bill does not, with certain exceptions, apply to London. He referred to Clause 70. I think that Clause 78 also applies to the County of London. This is a small Clause which provides that the registration authority for a canal will no longer have to make a report to the Minister regarding canal boats. It is desirable to cut down the Minister's unnecessary reading, and I presume that what has happened is that such reports have not been found to be necessary nowadays. Perhaps we shall hear more about that later.

I believe that the reason given by the Government spokesman in another place for the Bill not applying to the County of London was that the whole question of the future government of the Metropolis is now under consideration following the appointment of the Herbert Committee and the appearance of its Report. I accept that it might not be wise to legislate in these matters for London in the present situation, but we cannot go on indefinitely saying that we should not legislate about this, that or the other for the Metropolis because we are all waiting to know what the Government's proposals will be for the government of London.

For all the local authorities in the Metropolitan area this is a matter of increasing anxiety. If the uncertainty continues much longer, they will have great difficulty in recruiting or, indeed, in retaining staff. I thought it right to take this opportunity to remind the Government that it will be desirable before long for them to make their proposals known to the House. It would be desirable for them to arrange a debate in the House before they formulate their proposals. This is a matter of great importance, and it might be wise for the Government to be fully acquainted with views on both sides of the House before they proceed. I hope that that will be done.

The hon. Member will appreciate that that really must be as far as I can allow him to go on the Second Reading of this Bill.

I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. It was as far as I thought it right to go. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will draw the matter to the attention of his right hon. Friend.

I presume that, when the code of regulations is made, all existing byelaws will cease to have effect. The Bill explicitly takes away from local authorities the power to make byelaws. I could not find that it explicitly repeals—if that is the right word for byelaws—the existing byelaws, but I dare say that there is some legal device by which that comes about. I presume that the code will completely replace all existing byelaws.

When the new scheme is in operation, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee to be set up under Clause 9 will be a body of great importance. I hope that we shall hear how the Minister sees its composition. It will have to have professional advice, advice from people experienced in building, and so forth, and, I presume, it will have to have within its membership people acquainted with local authority work. The Parliamentary Secretary did not say anything about how the Minister sees the size and recruitment of that committee. It will be a matter of very great importance in the working of the relevant part of the Bill.

I turn now to the extremely miscellaneous part of the Bill which collects from local experience byelaws which have been found to be sensible and workable and makes them part of the general law of the land. It would be unsuitable to discuss those matters on Second Reading because, by their nature, they are a string of Committee points, but I wish to mention one or two to give notice that there are certain matters which we shall wish to examine in more detail in Committee.

Clause 12, which deals with sewers, requires that when a sewer is constructed owners of property the value of which is raised as a result of the construction of the sewer must contribute to the cost of construction. As a principle, that is perfectly reasonable. Normally, owners will be liable to be charged one half of the cost of constructing the sewer divided proportionately according to the yards of frontage which each property owner has. I am not sure that it would necessarily be true in every case that there would be such a close relationship between the cost of constructing a sewer and the benefits which a particular owner of property might derive from its construction.

We may wish to look at that matter more closely. On the one hand, if a public authority does something which confers a special benefit on a private person, it is right that the private person should make a contribution; but there is the countervailing principle that, after all, the construction of sewers is a collective responsibility of the community. One ought to relate the contribution which a private person makes to the special benefit he derives out of it in contradistinction to the benefit which everyone in the community gains from there being a proper system of sewers.

I welcome Clause 27, which will give a general power to local authorities to enter upon an ugly neglected site and tidy it. They will not necessarily have to prove that it is dangerous to health, but simply that it is a threat to amenity. I am not certain whether the Clause is so worded to ensure that they have the power not only to clear it up in the first place, but to ensure that it remains clear and decent thereafter.

I think that, with recollections of certain passages of the Housing Bill, we notice with interest Clause 33, which states that a local authority can reject plans for the erection of dwellings if they do not make provision for bathrooms. It does not say that the authority must reject them, but that it may do so. I wonder to what extent nowadays plans to erect dwellings which do not make provision for bathrooms are put before local authorities. Surely it cannot be a very common occurrence. I should have thought that it ought to be the invariable rule at this stage of the twentieth century that plans of that kind should be rejected. However, there may be reasons why the rule should not be as general and inflexible as that.

If I may invade the domain of the Ministry of Health for a moment, I see that in Clause 40 a medical officer of health can request any person to discontinue his work because otherwise he may spread infection. The lawyers may have a different interpretation of the word "request," but it suggests to the layman that the person concerned can either comply with the request or not, as he sees fit. It is fairly common, in legislation of this kind to use the word "require" and to make provision as to what should be done if there is not compliance with the requirement. I do not find such provision in the Clause.

There was a good deal of excitement in another place about the management of parks. I think that it was on this subject that the tempest blew up. I should have thought that the Bill as it stands has the balance about right. It is not unreasonable that a local authority should be able to say that certain parts of its parks are to be set aside for the use of, say, a tennis club, football club, or the like. Clearly, if it did that to excess, it would impose a serious injury on the main body of its ratepayers. However, there is a check on that in local public opinion.

This, unlike building byelaws, is a matter which can properly be left to the discretion of local authorities. If we pass the Bill. Parliament will put a fairly wide limit on the exercise of their discretion. I do not think that there is any great danger that local authorities will be in the habit of earmarking excessively parts of their parks and open spaces for this purpose.

Similarly, I think that we may trust the discretion of local authorities in the matter of how many pigeons and starlings which they should dispose of. The knowledge that they will not be liable to proceedings under the Larceny Act for getting rid of other people's pigeons will, no doubt, be of reassurance to them.

I suppose that the most difficult part of the Bill is Part V, concerning trade effluent. I am not altogether happy with this as it stands. As I understand the present law, if a trader was discharging effluent into a local authority's sewer during the year ended 3rd March, 1937, he can go on discharging it without permission and without charge. The law is at present so framed that, by a misjudgment or oversight on Parliament's part, sometimes the amount of effluent which he can discharge is very considerable and that Parliament gave greater powers in this matter to traders than it intended or that, on reflection, it would have wished to give.

The effect of the Bill is that traders in that position shall be able to con- tinue discharging effluent without getting consent, but it more sensibly restricts the amount which they can discharge. It also enables the local authority to charge them for so doing with the oversight by the Minister to ensure that the charges are not unreasonable. All that seems to me fair and sensible. But what about a local authority which has entered into an agreement with a trader which allows him to discharge effluent for a charge fixed at the time that the agreement was made but with no clause in the agreement under which it could be brought to an end?

As a result, some local authorities are having enormous quantities of effluent discharged into their sewers and they cannot alter the charge which they make from a figure which was agreed, perhaps, thirty years ago. I know that the view of the Armer Committee was that an agreement is an agreement, that if people make an agreement they must stick to it and that if they do not put a clause in it to enable it to be terminated so much the worse for them. The Armer Committee did not use those words, but that is the inevitable implication of an agreement.

I do not know that Parliament is in a position to take so stern a view of local authorities, because it is fairly clear that when Parliament passed the 1937 Act it did not say what it really intended to say and produced in some ways an unfair and undesirable result. I doubt whether we should go on holding local authorities to the terms of agreements which were sometimes made a long time ago in circumstances very different from those of today. That is a point which will need fairly close examination in Committee.

I wish to refer to one other point which seems to me a little curious. I think that the regulations concerning safety, decency and cleanliness at fairgrounds and places of entertainment are reasonable, but I do not see why Clause 74, which gives a local authority power to provide for that, should not apply to any entertainment the profits of which are devoted to a charitable purpose. I should have thought that, if a person was burnt to death in a tent because there had not been satisfactory rules about making safety arrangements, it would be very poor consolation to him to know that the fête was being run for a charitable purpose. I may not have understood properly how the Clause will work, but that is how it appears to me to read.

We can have a quite enjoyable Committee stage on the Bill. It is a very useful Bill which should make administration easier for builders, local authorities and everyone concerned with its subject matter.

12.18 p.m.

I should like to be the first on these benches to congratulate my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for being in charge of a major Bill. It is one of considerable size and complexity. My hon. Friend is also to be congratulated on his very neat and concise exposition of a subject which is of fair diversity and considerable scope. I shall deal with a number of points made by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), because I found myself in agreement with quite a number of his observations. There is no doubt that the Bill had a fairly close examination in another place and was altered in shape. Many new Clauses were introduced and there were an amazing number of Amendments.

When I make a speech in this House, I usually try to make it in a reasonably logical sequence, but a Bill of the miscellaneous character of this one presents difficulties. One likes to start at the top of the problem with which we are concerned with the building regulations, but in this case the building regulations are not the top of the Bill because it goes above buildings into the air and covers such interesting fauna as pigeons and house doves. Then it descends gradually, by a cursory look at litter bins and at verminous premises, into the sewers, and eventually it sails out on a calm sea, I hope, of well-treated effluent in a pleasure boat fitted with an effective silencer.

That gives the House some idea of the very wide range of subjects covered in the Bill, and it draws attention to the fact that local authorities have very heavy and large responsibilities in the administration of legislation which we send down from the House. This is the third major piece of legislation on local government which has been dealt with in this Session, and other pieces of legislation affecting local government have also come before us. It is fair to pay a tribute to those men and women who give up their time to serve the local authorities in a voluntary capacity as councillors. I think that if we do not have regard, as the Local Government Commission is enjoined to do, to the effectiveness and particularly the convenience of local government, and particularly that of the local representatives, we shall not get those local representatives to come forward and serve the public in a voluntary capacity. I hope that the Bill will be studied outside the House because of its wide implications and because it puts even more responsibilities on all in local government, both the voluntary representatives and the officers in local government.

May I turn to the Bill and mention, first, the building regulations. I was extremely interested in the explanation given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, and one point which he stressed particularly was that uniformity is generally desirable. But he omitted to tell the House that the London County Council area is not covered within these new building regulations. The hon. Member for Fulham rightly drew attention to the fact that the Herbert Commission's Report had been available to the House for several months and that if we go on waiting even for discussion of that Report, far less for its implementation, in order to move on and to bring about standardisation or even minor reorganisation in local government, we may wait for a very long time.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government might look again at the ambit of these building regulations, because it might well be desirable for them to apply to the L.C.C. area as well as to the rest of the country. It is well known that today the area administered by the London County Council is not the same as Greater London. Half a century or more ago it was, but it is certainly not the case today.

I quote from what was said by the Minister of State in another place about this matter on 24th November:
"London has its own building by-laws, and I think it better to leave that matter until the Report of the Royal Commission has been fully considered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House Lords, 24th November, 1960; Vol. 226, c. 893.]
I am not satisfied to leave that matter until the Report of the Royal Commission has been fully considered. I think that it is a matter which we could tackle in a piecemeal manner; it is not a central part of reorganising local government but a question of building bylaws, and I feel that we could make progress with this factor in this Bill and thereby, if I may suggest it to the Parliamentary Secretary, make the task or reorganising local government in London rather less onerous when it is tackled.

I think that we should know a little more about the new building regulations advisory committee. We want to know what will be the composition of the committee. We know that local variations will be possible in respect of the regulations which will be made, but will there be regional sub-committees of this committee, and if there are not to be regional sub-committees, will there be regional representatives on that committee? I put those questions to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.

The Minister of State, speaking in another place on 24th November about this matter, spoke in general terms, as follows:
"It is my right hon. Friend's intention to appoint a Committee whose members will have expert knowledge of all aspects of building operations and the administration of building controls."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 24th November. 1960: Vol. 226, c. 867.]
If I may say so, that was rather a glimpse of the obvious. I suggest that it will be necessary to have representatives from various areas of the country specifically attached to the building regulations advisory committee.

In another place certain new and important Clauses were introduced in the Bill, and I want to say something about Clauses 12, 13 and 14 and the Second Schedule, which I believe together are colloquially known as the Romford Clauses. I welcome those Clauses which make it possible for local authorities to obtain contributions from developers towards the cost of sewerage, but when my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said that most of the Clauses of the Bill are well precedented, I take him up on these Clauses, because I understand that fourteen local authorities have these Clauses in their own private Acts of Parliament but that only two of them have used these powers up to date and that those two have done so to a very minimal extent.

I agree with the hon. Member for Fulham that we shall have to have a very careful look at Clauses 12, 13 and 14 and the Second Schedule. They are extremely valuable but they need close examination. I consider it right that developers of urban property should make a financial contribution to the local sewerage authority when it places a sewer across the ground which they are about to develop, because they are being given a service without which it would be impossible to develop that property.

I turn to Part V of the Bill, which I think is almost a Bill in itself; it is a most important Measure. I know that it has been welcomed by the local authority associations and that it implements a part of the Armer Committee's Report. I should like to pay a tribute to Sir Frederick Armer and his Committee for their excellent Report, which has formed the basis of Part V of the Bill. I had the privilege of meeting Sir Frederick only the other day, and I am sorry that he came under such very heavy fire from representatives of a university which, incidentally, I did not attend. I feel that Sir Frederick deserves a great deal of credit for the splendid work which he has done in making available to us a Report which is so clear and lucid that the Government have been able to proceed with the implementation of that Report within one year.

I studied the history of the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act, 1937, and I found that the Report which was the precursor of that Act came out ten years earlier and that it took the Government of that day ten years to implement that Report. The Government today are to be congratulated on moving so swiftly in a matter of very great importance—namely, the reception of trade effluent into sewers. This part of the Bill, if implemented, will be a major contribution towards the clean rivers policy to which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is so deeply committed.

Only this week I came across an example of where forward-thinking legislation of this nature influences local authorities. I had a letter from the Clerk to the Borough of Ellesmere Port telling me that that borough proposes to make a new treatment plant which will give a full treatment to the effluent of that rapidly growing borough. In his letter the clerk wrote:
"Local authorities should give a lead in helping to prevent the pollution of rivers."
I feel that that is a magnificent example by a local authority which is growing in size and in scope every day, and it is to be congratulated on this forward-thinking policy which, as I said, has been encouraged by the Government's swift action in this instance.

The Association of Municipal Corporations, of which I have the honour at present to be a vice-president, welcome wholeheartedly in particular Part V of this Bill, but it has a few detailed observations, and I think that in view of the fact that the Committee stage may come upon us fairly swiftly it would be advisable, as the hon. Member for Fulham did, to give a few detailed observations now on this Part V.

The Association of Municipal Corporations is satisfied in the main with Clause 54, but it does not think it goes quite far enough. I readily admit that the Bill does follow the Armer Committee's Report, paragraph 113, but on a comparatively recent occasion I was able to influence my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to follow my line in respect of a certain measure and that line was a departure from the recommendations of the Armer Committee. I am not unhopeful that on this occasion I shall be able to influence my hon. Friend once again, and I hope very much that he will be induced to depart a little from the recommendations of the Armer Committee's Report. I refer to a matter which the hon. Member for Fulham has referred to, and that is the question of the indeterminable pre-1937 agreements.

The history of the evidence which was given to the Armer Committee was that there was very little trouble with regard to local authorities concerning those pre-1937 agreements many of which date back to just after the First World War. The Association of Municipal Corporations, in its evidence at that time, did not refer to these indeterminate agreements because so far as it knew at that time there was only one of the indeterminate agreements which was causing one local authority considerable concern, but since that time the evidence which has come to the Association of Municipal Corporations shows that there are 10 local authorities at least which are affected by these indeterminable agreements.

I am fully aware that there should be a sanctity about contracts, but, nevertheless, times have changed very materially since the period after the First World War, and the Association of Municipal Corporations—I wholeheartedly support it in this matter—does think that it would be desirable for Parliament to give permission for these contracts to be varied in respect of charges only. It has no desire that these contracts should be varied as to the conditions of receiving those effluents into sewers, but it does think that as many circumstances have changed so much since the nineteen-twenties it is reasonable that contracts should be reopened in respect of charges, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will take note of what I have said. I cannot say that I am hopeful that the Government will introduce a new Clause to cover this matter, but if they should omit to introduce a new Clause I may possibly be able myself to put right that omission.

I think that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is aware that there is a slight flaw in Clause 55. This Clause deals with discharges which have been discontinued for a period of two years. I am advised by the Association of Municipal Corporations that should a discharger make even a small discharge for a period of one day through another discharging point during this period of two years then indeed the two years' period would not be determined in the way in which it should be determined under Clause 55.

I would make a passing reference to Clause 56 (1, e). The local authorities want to have knowledge as to the nature and composition of a discharge as well as of the volume and rate of a discharge. It is customary in this form of legislation to let the local authorities have the maximum information and I hope that my hon. Friend will look at this comparatively small but, I think, important matter between now and the Committee stage.

It has not been possible to deal with this Bill in what I call a logical manner, and I must pass now to a miscellaneous Clause, Clause 75, which, as I understand, comes under the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I hope my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to convey a message to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regarding Clause 75 and the byelaws as to seaside pleasure boats. This was another Clause which was introduced in another place. I cannot quite understand why so many Clauses which were, in the words of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, well precedented, were introduced in another place and were not in the original Bill.

I am speaking here as Governor of the Fisheries Organisation Society, a body which is responsible for the interests of inshore fishermen. Doubt has already been cast upon the definition of the words "pleasure boat". I do not think there is any definition of the words "pleasure boat" in this Bill. I think it is important that those words "pleasure boat" should be clearly defined, because it might well be that bye-laws could be made in respect of what are thought to be pleasure boats but which are in fact fishing vessels, and many fishing vessels do occasionally take parties of holidaymakers out for a day's fishing, but are, in fact, fishing boats within the ordinary meaning of that term, and I hope very much that by reason of byelaws made under Clause 75 that genuine fishing boats will not be included within those byelaws because it might have a very considerable effect on engine design and certainly the silencer designs of those boats, recognising that they are very often extremely noisy. The bulk of their work is done very much more than 1,000 yards from the shore and those byelaws should cover only seaside pleasure boats which can be operated within 1,000 yards of the shore.

I would ask my hon. Friend another question regarding Clause 75, and that is the definition of "seaside". Does "seaside" include the shore bounded by estuarial waters as well as waters which are outside the estuaries of our rivers? If it does include estuarial waters, I should like to know from my hon. Friend why this Clause does not go a great deal further, because considerable nuisance is being caused at the present time by pleasure boats which are operating on our rivers, particularly lakes—

I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to mislead the House, and I may myself not be at my best this morning, but surely the Clause says "seashore" and not "seaside"? The marginal note says "seaside" but I can find only "seashore" in the Clause itself.

—for that, but the point to which I want to draw the attention of the House is that in another place doubt was cast upon these words and a considerable debate took place, and I should like an explanation of the words which I have brought to the attention of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.

I should like to bring to the attention of the House matters of considerable importance which are, in my view, omissions from this Bill. These points have been brought to my attention by the National Farmers' Union of which I am a member and the Rural District Councils Association of which I am a vice-president. They are both public health matters and they both conern major roads. We are all aware that traffic is building up to an amazing extent on the roads of our country, and to cope with this increase of traffic the highways authorities are creating, very wisely, a number of lay-bys and I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, when he is stimulating further provision for "clearways", will thereby stimulate the construction of laybys.

A great deal of damage to farmers has come about by reason of the fact that adjacent fields have been used as public conveniences and also because litter and rubbish have been thrown into the fields. Dealing first with the provision of public conveniences, in 1959 and 1960 approaches were made by the National Farmers' Union and the local authority associations to the Government Departments concerned regarding these matters. In 1960 a joint conference of the County Councils Association, the Urban District Councils Association, and the Rural District Councils Association was held to consider the matter of the provision of public conveniences along busy traffic routes. That conference ended by asking the Government for amending legislation.

All of those who use our roads are familiar with this problem. When travelling along the highway I have often bought a gallon of petrol at a filling station solely in order to visit that station for another and quite different purpose. But long-distance lorry drivers are in a very different position. Their fuel tanks are filled say in Glasgow and they come down to London on one tankful of derv fuel. They frequently pull in at lay-bys in order to rest or to eat their meals. During that period, necessarily, they wish to go into the fields for other purposes. If the gates are wired or locked they cannot get into the fields by the normal form of access and they either have to climb over or break down the fences.

This matter has had the consideration of all the local authority associations. They have had a conference about it and I very much hope that we are going to hear that the Government propose to introduce a new Clause to cover the matter. I will not go into more detail now concerning it because I know that the Government are fully seized of the problem. The National Farmers' Union and the Rural District Councils Association believe that the Bill is a suitable Measure for implementing legislation on this point.

With regard to litter, Clause 50 clearly deals with the provision of litter bins and the clearing of them. It was expanded slightly in another place, but, in my view, it still does not go far enough. Immense damage is being done to the farming community, both to their machinery and to their stock, by rub- bish which is thrown over the fences, particularly from lay-bys to which I have already referred.

Only the other day I saw in a field of mowing grass an empty crate which had contained milk bottles. When the farmer's mower came along to mow that grass it would necessarily have suffered severe damage. Nearly all of us have seen the enormous number of bottles which are thrown over hedges and which cause serious damage to stock.

I would seek to give the owner or occupier of land power to make representations to the highway authority concerned, with the appropriate power of appeal. If that plea were accepted on the part of the owner or occupier of the agricultural land then it should be deemed to be incumbent on the highway authority to provide proper receptacles at lay-bys for litter and rubbish.

I have endeavoured to cover a miscellany of matters, all germane to the Bill. I wish to conclude by congratulating the Government on the Measure. I know that the local authorities all want the Bill to be passed as quickly as possible, and it will certainly be my endeavour, if I am nominated to sit on the Standing Committee dealing with it, to help the Government get it through quickly. I realise that if the Bill can be got through quickly it will save the local authorities a great deal of work in seeking to insert standard Clauses into their private legislation. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary the very best good fortune in steering this important Measure through the House.

12.46 p.m.

I intervene for only a few minutes to emphasise to the House some of the points which have already been dealt with, rather well I think, by the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple). I agree with much that he has said. It is appropriate, perhaps, that, as the hon. Gentleman represents Chester and I Leicester, the connections between the two towns should be expressed on a public health matter.

Part V of the Bill will confer on local authorities some very valuable additional powers to deal with trade effluents discharged into their sewers by industrialists. These additional powers, as the House is well aware, were recommended in the final Report of the Trade Effluent Sub-Committee of the Central Advisory Water Committee—the Armer Committee—on whose Report this part of the Bill is based.

I happen to be connected with the Association of Municipal Corporations which has given very careful consideration to this matter, as has my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). The Association has asked me—and I have considered its points very carefully—to bring to the notice of the Government some of the matters referred to by my hon. Friend. I was not here to hear the whole of his speech as otherwise, perhaps, I should not have spoken in the debate at all. I only intervene in case he did not mention some of the points which I wish to raise. It may be that I shall have only to underline what he has already said.

As the House knows, the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act, 1937, permits traders to discharge, without the consent of the local authority, into the sewers of the local authority trade effluents of the same nature and composition as they discharged at any time during the year ended 31st March, 1937. Clause 54 will empower local authorities to make charges for the reception of these discharges, and in that respect it is welcome. The Association feels, as I do, that the Clause should enable local authorities to make charges, or to increase charges, for the reception of such effluent where indeterminable agreements were entered into before the Act of 1937 was passed and which bind the local authority for ever to receive effluent either for no payment or for a fixed payment.

The Armer Committee, in paragraph 113 of its final Report, says that it is unreasonable to expect local authorities to continue to deal with these pre-1937 effluents under financial arrangements made in 1937 or earlier and that they should be authorised to make reasonable charges for treatment and to vary the charges from time to time—and I quote—
"except where there is a contract."
Clause 54, of course, gives effect to this recommendation. We have evi- dence, however, of cases where because an indeterminable contract is in force serious loss is being caused to small authorities, and we feel that it would be reasonable if Clause 54 were extended to enable perpetuity agreements entered into before 1937 to be reopened and to enable a variation of the charge to be made.

We seek this power only in relation to agreements entered into before 1937, at which date, of course, local authorities were put on notice as to the provisions of the Act. The power is only sought in relation to charges and not with a view to varying any other conditions of the agreement. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will take that matter into consideration because, there again, it may be possible to do something by way of putting down an Amendment to cover this point.

I wish also to refer to Clause 56. The recommendation in paragraph 116 of the Armer Committee is followed and power is to be given to local authorities to require traders to install inspection chambers and meters on premises hitherto exempt from control. I gather that the point has already been made—

I shall not pursue it further, because the Minister is obviously aware of the point. I ask him to be good enough to deal with it. I endorse what has been said.

12.50 p.m.

I welcome the Bill and congratulate my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on the very clear way he has explained it. As I have worked with local byelaws for thirty years, the House will not be surprised to learn that I welcome the "new look".

I do not think that the public generally have appreciated how building costs, building research and the general thinking of the building industry have been restricted by the 1,400 separate regulations, some dating back many years. The Parliamentary Secretary did not refer—because it is not directly in the Bill—to the London Building Act, 1857. An industry which has had to work under such conditions is very pleased to welcome this Measure.

I want, first, to comment on the term "building regulations" which the Minister has adopted. I am a little apprehensive about it, because in the industry we have building regulations dealing more directly with health and safety. I wonder whether "new look" is the right terminology. I wonder whether "national building code" would not more directly indicate what is expected.

I realise that the purists in the Department will remind me that "code of practice" is a term which has been used for a number of years and is a formula more than a legally binding arrangement. Against that, I would point out that our code of practice is a formula of good building practice, and I see no reason why this should not be added to the national building code. We shall also be following what is happening in other parts of the world where building restrictions and rules are known as national building codes. To take the purist even further I referred to the term in the Oxford Dictionary. It describes "code" as the systematic collection of statutes and bodies of laws so as to avoid inconsistency and overlapping. That should summarise what we are after.

I join other hon. Members in their concern about how the Building Regulations Advisory Committee is to be constituted. I would urge my right hon. Friend to make certain that he has on it really practical men with long experience in the industry who know the practical points of building. I suggest that he would naturally include some of the learned bodies—the architects and the engineers—and I ask him to consider including representatives of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers, even on a regional basis, as my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) mentioned. I am certain that the building trade operatives can also make a contribution.

I am very concerned at the time all this will take. We are in the middle of one of the busiest times in the history of the building industry. The Parliamentary Secretary showed most clearly how necessary it is to amend the regulations. He has shown that he is aware that appeals against local byelaws can be instituted only by local authorities. I speak from long practical experience here. It is very difficult to get local authority surveyors to go through the machinery necessary to amend a byelaw to deal with some of the more modern practices. As the law stands now—it will be amended by the Bill—there can be no appeal by a building owner, an architect or builder. If a local surveyor decides that a proposal is not worth while, he can turn it down and there is no appeal.

The committee will do extremely well if it manages to draw up the code of regulations for the industry within five years. I know that the Ministry has optimistic views about this, but before its optimism gets out of control I should like to remind it of the time it took to draw up the standard mode of measurements, one of the first standardised measures in the building industry. I would also remind it that it took six years to draw up a simple code in Canada. I believe that the code of regulations will not come into operation until six or ten years' hence, by which time building progress may be past its peak.

Consequently, I urge the Minister to give consideration, in relation to the Bill, to how building owners and builders can appeal direct to him for variations, deviations and relaxations in exactly the same way as they can today under the London Building Act.

The need for this is shown by the number of waivers granted annually under that Act. The question has been raised whether the London Building Act should be revised to embody the provisions of the Bill. I do not think it is appreciated by the public that the whole system of building inspection and control is quite different in the London area. There is, therefore, I think some argument for leaving it as it is for the time being, but I hope that at a later date the two systems will be combined.

There are one or two points in connection with the Bill which I should be grateful if my hon. Friend could clarify. I draw attention, first, to Clause 4 (5) which reads:
"Building regulations may include such supplemental and incidental provisions as appear to the Minister to be expedient."
I may be a novice in reading legal documents, but the subsection appears to me to give extraordinarily wide powers. I should be grateful for reassurance on that point.

My second point relates to Clause 12, and it has been referred to by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). I feel that we have here a matter which needs looking at very carefully in Committee. I appreciate what has been the object of the Parliamentary draftsmen in drawing up the Clause. Nevertheless, I am worried about it from the point of view of farmers in my constituency. I feel that as the Clause stands a farmer may be charged a disproportionate amount for having a sewer in one of his farm roads. I appreciate that subsection (12) of the Clause gives a right of appeal, but farmers are very busy in their ordinary daily work and do not fully appreciate what right of appeal they may have.

There is another point on subsection (6) which may be a Committee matter, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester has said, the Committee stage may come upon us quickly. I think that the average estimate needs to he thought about. The subsection says:
"the estimated cost per yard of a sewer having an internal diameter of nine inches constructed in the street or part of the street at a depth of seven feet."
I realise that the object of going for the average cost is that an owner shall not have to pay an unfair amount of money. But it is the average cost at a depth of 7 feet in what—rock, sand or water bearing soil? That needs clarification.

The hon. Member for Fulham made some reference to how far the abolition of byelaws applied. I was struck by this when I came to Clause 49 where the Bill refers to the local authority having the right to introduce byelaws under the Highways Act, 1959. I think that it would be helpful to the House if we could have an explanation of what is meant by byelaws. Are we talking about abolishing building byelaws or street byelaws? In my experience, a good deal of unnecessary cost has been incurred by unnecessary specifications by county councils concerning streets.

One other point to which I should like to refer is that we have had for a number of years the extraordinary situation that a Government Department can go into a local authority's area and build a school in disregard of the byelaws. Yet a new town, which is a Government sponsored organisation, has to comply with the byelaws. We have, therefore, a situation which would, I think, have provided Gilbert and Sullivan with a theme for an opera. The Government are prepared to give relaxation to their own Departments but not to the new towns that have been so successful.

I think that all hon. Members would congratulate the Minister of Education on the way in which he saved money in building schools. Surely the standard produced by the Minister of Education should be available immediately. It should not be necessary to wait six or seven years for the provisions of the Bill to become operative. This should be allowed right away, at a time when the building industry is at the peak of its production. Let us have the savings which eminent architects have estimated at a minimum of £10 million a year.

Today, the nation cannot afford to waste a moment when we have the possibility, by passing a law in this House, of saving £10 million a year.

1.5 p.m.

I welcome the Bill, and particularly the new procedure for building regulations. We need a much greater improvement of the relaxation procedure which has been described by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and dealt with so ably by my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain). It is significant that building regulations must always lag behind advanced building practice. Naturally the building regulations have to be safe to cover the work produced by all architects, but there are certain architects who are obviously working on very advanced procedures and there should be for them some means of relaxation of the regulations. For example, the rules for timber construction of multi-storey buildings are extremely severe and some relaxation of them is required.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe mentioned, local authorities building for educational purposes do not have to comply with the byelaws and can go ahead with the work. But for private enterprise this is forbidden, unless the local authority applies to the Minister for a waiver. As my hon. Friend said, there have been a great many waivers. In the London County Council area this is certainly so. I have seen mentioned the figure of 1,700 waivers for wood construction, which shows what a valuable means of construction this is.

Most local authorities do not wish to apply for a waiver and that is the end of the matter. The architect can go no further because he has no means of appeal. I therefore welcome the new procedure. This is extremely important, particularly in the case of timber construction, because of the improvement in speed of erection and in cost. It is estimated that there is a 15 per cent. reduction in cost by using timber construction. This, applied over £70 million a year worth of construction, means that £10 million a year could be saved to the country by this new procedure.

Then comes the question: how long will it take for these building regulations to be produced? As my hon. Friend said, it took five years to produce such regulations in Canada. South Africa started seven years ago to produce its regulations and has not finished them yet. I should like the Minister to give some indication of how long he thinks it will take to produce them. We have heard it estimated that it will take about ten years, but this country cannot wait that time. Therefore, I think that there should be some new procedure to cover the gap. This could be done quite simply by an Amendment to Section 63 of the Public Health Act, 1936, introducing appeal procedure.

At the moment, an applicant submits a proposal to the local council and it says, "We are sorry, but it is not in the model byelaws; consequently we shall not permit it." The applicant says, "It is being used elsewhere." The council says, "We are sorry but we cannot be bothered to apply to the Minister for a waiver." That is the position at the moment. If an appeal could be made to the Minister for one particular type of construction and if the Minister allowed it and then notified all the local authorities of his decision, that would encourage local authorities in the future, in order to avoid an appeal, to apply for a waiver. Possibly the Minister might go so far as to delegate authority to grant a waiver for a particular type of construction which has already been approved. This would get over the difficulty straight away. If there is to be this appalling length of time in getting the regulations, I would ask the Minister very seriously to consider introducing this procedure.

Clause 76 makes the registration of hairdressers and barbers compulsory. It seems to me to be totally unnecessary that every hairdresser's establishment in the country should have to be registered by its local authority, even though the local authority is satisfied with the whole of the hairdressing establishments in its area. The local authority will have to open up a register and employ people to keep it, and it may not wish to make the byelaw at all. I do not believe that it should be compulsory. Certain local authorities already have this power. I know that in some parts of the country there are hairdressing establishments which need supervision, but I suggest that in the majority of hairdressing establishments conditions are extremely good. This procedure should be solely permissive, so that local authorities are not compelled to register all hairdressers. We have constant complaints that local rates are going up. Here is an example of placing additional burdens on local authorities which they may not wish to have.

I welcome this Bill. I hope that it will not be steam-rollered through Committee, because I ask my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to give an undertaking that a number of points which can be improved will be improved.

1.10 p.m.

I was very glad to hear, towards the end of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason), references to Clause 76. If I do not prefer to follow him closely at the beginning of my speech, he may rest assured that I shall return to that Clause at the end of my remarks.

I normally look upon myself as being released on Fridays when the last day for Private Members' Bills has passed, but I was surprised to receive yesterday a communication drawing attention to this Bill and its size. It has 85 Clauses and five Schedules, and is very comprehensive indeed.

I am sorry that I was not able to take part in some of the earlier discussions which took place privately. Had I done so, probably I would not have had to refer to the matters which I want to mention today. Those of us who take an interest in Private Bills—as many hon. Members do—for some time have been very concerned at some of the powers that have been sought by local authorities, and we have stated time and again that we consider that these powers should be given to local authorities by a Government measure.

For that reason, I welcome the idea behind this Bill. I think it is wrong that time and again when local authorities have promoted Private Bills we find that they have put in various Clauses which, to many hon. Members, are wrong and should not be applied for by a local authority but should be given by a comprehensive Measure of this nature. For that reason, I welcome the Bill and hope that the few criticisms I have of it will not convey that I disagree with it in general.

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) spoke about effluent charges, and his remarks are very worthy of consideration by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. But before I refer to that subject I should disclose that I have a personal interest in this matter. I think it is quite right that the question of effluent charges should be looked into and that they should, to a great extent, be standardised. I am not in favour of our rivers being polluted, but it would be extremely hard in some trades if one particular business were allowed to discharge effluent free while others were subject to heavy capital and annual charges, in order to meet the more modern procedure for keeping our rivers clean and decent.

The hon. Gentleman had a point in suggesting that the rights that some businesses have to discharge effluent free, or at a very low cost, should be looked into. The charges should be standardised out of fairness to those businesses which have to meet the comparatively heavy charges of ensuring that they do not pollute our river system. Thus, I commend that point to my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, and I hope that when he replies we shall hear his views.

I want to refer to one or two Clauses, same of which I do not understand and some of which I consider rather objectionable—one in particular. Clause 37 troubles me a little. This gives power to a justice of the peace, if he is satisfied by the medical officer of health for the district, to order someone to be medically examined, if that person is alleged to be suffering from a notifiable disease.

One has to be very careful about giving this power to justices. I believe that, during the war, there were certain regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act whereby, in the case of certain diseases, there was the power to force people to have a medical examination. I believe that in certain cases venereal diseases could be dealt with in this manner.

If it is desirable that the State should interfere with the liberty of the subject in this way, then we should give very careful consideration to it. I do not know whether the list of notifiable diseases can be extended by order, because I have not had the time or the opportunity to look up the Act, but if that list can be extended by order then that procedure is probably satisfactory because, in due course, the order will be thrashed out on the Floor of the House if Members think it desirable. On the other hand, I should like to be told if the list is restricted.

I do not believe that Clause 37 succeeds in doing what I believe was in the mind of the Parliamentary draftsman when he drew it up. Although it gives power to force a persons to be medically examined, it gives no power, as I understand it, to force that person to have treatment. I thought that it would be essential, if the Clause was to have any weight at all, that one could not only force a person to be medically examined but one could also force him to have treatment. I should like to hear my hon. Friend on that aspect.

The next Clause to which I turn—I do not propose to take more than a short time—is Clause 41, known as the "goldfish" Clause. This concerns dealers in rags and old clothes offering inducements to children for bringing them such garments and goods generally. They are prohibited, I understand, from giving any payments to the children—which I always think is a mean outlook. I do not know what lies behind it, but I think it reasonable for a merchant to give 2s. 6d. or so to a boy who brings him stuff.

In order to get round that prohibition the dealers have been giving away such things as goldfish and bowls, and I wonder whether it is really necessary to have Clause 41. I would have thought that it could be left out. It is a rather grandmotherly bit of legislation.

Clause 74 gives the local authorities power to make byelaws for regulating the hours of pleasure fairs. The Clause goes on to describe the kind of pleasure fair. It says:
"… the entertainment to which this section applies are the following—
(a) circuses;"
That seems reasonable.
"(b) exhibitions of human beings. …"
I do not know whether the House of Commons comes in that category:
"(c) merry-go-rounds, roundabouts, swings, switchback railways;
(d) coco-nut shies, hoop-las, shooting galleries, bowling alleys;
(e) dodgems or other mechanical riding or driving contrivances;
(f) automatic or other machines. …"
Clause 74 (4) says:
"Nothing in this Section … shall apply to …
(c) an entertainment which is not run for profit and is not carried on for more than seven consecutive days. …"
And then adds:
"(d) an entertainment the profits whereof are devoted to a charitable purpose."
I wonder whether these provisos are adequate. It seems to me that they are providing for a church fête. But what about a Labour fête. What about a Conservative fête? This definition should be looked at again, because all these entertainments are run for profit. But the profit may not be for an individual, the object being to raise money perhaps for a political party. It is a recognised method of raising money for political parties and I would have thought that they should be excluded from the provisions of the Clause, just like the other entertainments to which I have referred.

Does the hon. Member mean excluded or included? I see his argument for saying that there should be a distinction, but it does not follow logically that they should all be excluded.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for enabling me to make myself clear. They should be excluded from the byelaws which are made under the Clause. They should be allowed to operate in the same way as an entertainment the profits whereof are devoted to a charitable purpose. A short Amendment on that basis should be acceptable during the passage of the Bill in Committee.

The most controversial Clause of all—Clause 76—is a good old hardy annual in Private Bills. It is always stuck in. My hon. Friends and I who examine these Bills at great length invariably throw it out unless by chance the Bill happens to be promoted when, for some reason, we are absent and are not able to deal with it. I do not believe that there is any reason why this Clause should be in the Bill.

In the past, there have been repeated attempts to secure supervision of hairdressers. There was at one time a Hairdressers' Registration Bill, which was introduced in May, 1949, and was mainly the brain child of Mr. Sparks, who is no longer a Member of this House. It was a comprehensive Bill to set up a council to supervise the whole of the hairdressing trade, with powers to make regulations, and so on. That is not suggested under the present Bill, although it contains power to secure the registration of hairdressers.

I wonder whether this weighty measure is really needed. I am always against any unnecessary legislation. I am usually against some stuff that other people regard as necessary, but that is another question. I certainly think that we should legislate as little as possible. I do not regard it as in the public interest that all hairdressers should be forced to register with the local authority, with the added expense that will be involved and irritation to the local authority if the Clause is passed. There will be the expense of issuing byelaws and of inspectors to make visits to ensure that all the byelaws are complied with.

Subsection (3) of the Clause states that
"The local authority may make byelaws for the purpose of securing—
(a) the cleanliness of premises registered under this section and of the instruments, towels, materials and equipment used therein, and"—
this is worse—
"(b) the cleanliness of the hairdressers or barbers working in such premises in regard to both themselves and their clothing."
What does all this mean? Does it mean that a hairdresser must change his underclothes every day? It is a fairly heavy sort of Clause to stick in the Bill. I hope that if representations are made to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary in Committee, he will agree to take out the Clause, or, at least, to amend it considerably. It will stop many people from carrying on the trade of hairdressing.

What will happen in army barracks, where, very often, soldiers cut each other's hair? What will happen in factories, where, very often, one man who has a little skill at cutting hair runs this activity as a sideline during his luncheon hour? Must he be registered with the local authority, subject to supervision and instructions about his clothing and what he must and must not wear? This is an unnecessary Clause, and I hope that in due course my hon. Friend will agree to its removal.

In general, I welcome the Bill. It does what many of us who have been engaged in Private Bill procedure have been pleading for over many years. It standardises many of the Clauses which are put in Private Bills and which have caused us much irritation. I hope, however, that my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will consider whether it is possible to meet the points which I have raised.

1.25 p.m.

The presence of the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health on the Government Front Bench reminds me that I seem to have seen her all too recently this morning. I am tempted to ask how her human tissues are. Mine certainly are in a rather dilapidated state. I have not found this an easy Bill to grasp. It is varied. Some of the things in it seem extremely important and others less important.

We have all been helped by the speech of the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams), and I am sure that we can all look forward to being helped by him in the detailed examination of the Bill in Committee. The hon. Member spoke with interest on Clause 74. The byelaws apply to fairs which are a nuisance, insanitary, unclean, disorderly and unsafe. The hon. Member immediately said that it might refer to Conservative fêtes. The hon. Member knows better than I do—

I referred at once to Labour fêtes before I mentioned Conservative fêtes.

I would not quarrel with the hon. Member if he suggests that it may be found necessary to reduce these restrictions somewhat. No doubt, the hon. Member will make his case on that in Committee and we will be able to consider it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) showed unusual optimism in suggesting that the Parliamentary Secretary would make a comprehensive statement in Committee on the registration of canal boats under Clause 78. My experience of Committees is that if by the time Clause 78 is reached anybody is capable of doing anything, it will be an unusual Committee, particularly after we have heard the hon. Member for Exeter again at length on Clause 76.

It is clear that the Bill will require a lot of hard work in Committee. It will be useful work. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham in suggesting that pigeons do not present difficulties. I can only say that when I was leader of a political party on a local council the only two occasions upon which the party discipline completely dissolved and I was wholly unable to control my friends were on the questions of whether dogs should be on leads on recreation grounds and whether pigeons should be killed. Both the management of recreation grounds and the killing of pigeons are included in the Bill. It may, therefore, arouse great passion. I agree, however, with my hon. Friend that it is right and proper that these matters should be decided by local councils. That is what local councils are for, and they should be given as much discretion as possible.

The hon. Member for Exeter referred to the registration of hairdressers. "Registration" is a word that struck a chord in my mind. It made me wonder whether I had gone off on to the wrong Bill. I commend to the hon. Member some of the speeches by his right hon. Friend the Minister on the subject of registration of houses in multiple occupation. The hon. Member will find there many good arguments and good Amendments on the subject of registration which he might apply in the context of the Bill. That would enable him very well to develop his points in Committee.

I should like to see the extent of building regulations widened, not necessarily their toughness, but so that the problem of maintenance of building standards is approach in a rather wider manner than under the existing regulations. Whether that is possible, I do not know. It always seems to the layman that the trouble about building regulations is that they control a great deal of detail which does not seem of very great importance, and that they fail all too often to maintain building standards and amenities of buildings, the design of buildings, and prevent the kind of thing which is generally known as jerry-building. If we could have a more positive approach to building regulations, I think it would be a great advantage. Whether it will be possible to do anything like that in Committee I do not know.

I join with my two hon. Friends who have spoken on this Bill in welcoming it. I think it is a valuable consolidating Measure, which has introduced one or two very important new proposals, of which I think the standardisation of building regulations is undoubtedly one of the most important. I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that we will help him to get the Bill through as quickly as possible, but I should say that, after all, if the Government introduce a Bill of 85 Clauses covering the variety of things which the Bill covers at this time of the Session, Parliament would not be doing its duty if it did not give it a very careful and very detailed examination, and that we must try to do at a later stage.

1.32 p.m.

I am very glad that the Bill has had such a general welcome, and equally glad that the House has had a number of most valuable and constructive speeches indicating the sort of matters that are likely to be raised in the Committee stage.

I should like straight away to echo the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), who, as usual, made one of his most valuable speeches, in saying how much the House appreciates the work of all those who either serve on local authorities or are employed by them. I know that the House will hope that the Bill will in some measure ease their task. I have been interested to hear the comments made on Part III, and the House will have seen that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health has been here listening throughout these comments.

I know that when we come to the Committee stage, we shall look forward to discussing with her help the points that have been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams) on Clauses 37 and 41, and by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) on Clause 40, as well as any other points in connection with Part III. I hope that the House will excuse me from dealing with these specifically Ministry of Health matters today.

I turn now to the various questions asked or suggestions made on the miscellaneous provision in the Bill. I know that, again, the House will excuse me if I do not pursue the Committee points but limit myself to dealing with the general matters of principle which have arisen.

First, both the hon. Member for Fulham and my hon. Friend the Member for Chester spoke about the Romford Clauses—Clauses 12, 13 and 14, which have owed much in their drafting to the advice of a Joint Committee of both Houses which considered the need for which Romford had originally sought to legislate. The hon. Member for Fulham was anxious that the contribution to be made by a frontager should not exceed the benefit that he would get in a case where the cost of providing a sewer for his house might be more than the benefit he received. I would draw his attention to that part of the Clause which gives the owner the right to ask the local authority to remit part of any contribution in respect of that situation if he thinks that the cost is disproportionate to the benefits which he has received, and, in default of agreement with the local authority, there is a right of appeal to the magistrate's court. That is provided in Clause 12 (8).

The hon. Gentleman will notice that, under Clause 12 (8), that can only be done if it is considered that the payment is too much for a particular reason—

"by reason of the extent of the frontage of those premises."
I think that the wording of that subsection would need to be widened to make the point I want to make.

We will certainly look at that in Committee. On the same point, my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) was worried about the effect of this Clause on farmers. I hope that he is not worrying himself unduly and thinking that the frontage of a farm would be the frontage to be taken into account. The frontage which would be taken into account would be that of the farmhouse.

The next point was one raised by the hon. Member for Fulham, in connection with Clause 27. He welcomed the power given to local authorities to require or to carry out the improvements of derelict buildings and sites, which is only a prompter way of dealing with powers that already exist in the Public Health Act, 1936. He asked what power there is in the hands of local authorities to secure the maintenance of any improvement which has been carried out. This is rather a difficult matter. There are powers in Section 33 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, though they have not been found very easy to work, and perhaps this, again, is a point to pick up during the Committee stage.

Some hon. Members referred to Clause 33, and asked whether there were many cases of plans being put to local authorities for dwellings without bathrooms, and it was said that there should be no discretion given to the local authority so that it should be bound to reject any such plans. The discretion is given be- cause there are situations in which a complete bathroom is not necessary even today for each dwelling. The flatlets for elderly people, in which sometimes there is one bathroom shared by two or more flatlets, is a good example. There are also cases that will come under Clause 33 (1, b), in which a dwelling is the result of a conversion, and where, perhaps, there is not room for a complete bathroom, but only for the provision of sanitary facilities in a lesser form. We are not dealing with improvement grant arrangements and whether they would qualify for an improvement grant, but with the local authority's byelaw powers.

The hon. Members for Fulham and Exeter drew attention to the essentially Home Office business, which is the exemption from the byelaws of charitable and similar fairs under Clause 74 (4) and, in particular, subsection (4, d). This would be a very fruitful matter for discussion in Committee, when we shall be able to look at the whole matter, and particularly the definition of what should be exempt. Perhaps it would help the House if I pointed out that the whole of Clause 74 is directed towards those sorts of fairs and establishments which are least likely always to be run in a reliable and orderly manner. Pin-table saloons and amusement arcades are the sort of establishments for which the byelaws are primarily intended in this part of Clause 74. And one can normally assume the sort of body that would be exempt under Clause 74 (4) could be relied upon in every case to conduct itself in an orderly way.

On Clause 75, my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester asked some ticklish questions about the definition of "sea shore" and "pleasure boats". The sea shore, I understand, is the land between high and low water, but we shall have to discuss pleasure boats in Committee, because I have not got the right kind of definition for my hon. Friend. On another suggestion of his about lay-bys, I will ask my right hon. Friend to consult his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. I am not altogether sure whether the Bill is a good place to deal with any need which is shown.

The star billing in the miscellaneous provisions was won by Clause 76, in relation to which the invective of my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter was rather blunted by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason), who also spoke on the same subject. This Clause was introduced in another place. The Government will listen to any arguments as to its necessity which are advanced in Committee.

Two things need to be said at this stage. First, it is not made mandatory on all local authorities. Subsection (11) leaves the question whether to use these powers to the local authority concerned. It says:
"This section shall come into force in the district of a local authority on such date as the local authority may resolve".
Therefore, the local authority is given power to decide whether to invoke the Clause.

My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter keeps a lynx eye on all these matters. Perhaps some of this happened before he came on the scene, but I can tell him that there are no fewer than 71 local Acts which contain powers of this sort and 224 local authorities are concerned. However, the Clause was introduced in another place and the Government will be very ready to listen to arguments from both sides in Committee.

Was it introduced by the Government in another place or was it introduced by a private Member?

It was introduced by a private Member from an Opposition bench. I think that it was supported by three noble Lords on the Opposition side. It was then introduced without further discussion.

I turn now to the byelaw part of the Bill; that is, Clauses 4 to 11. I was very glad that the House heard the warm welcome given to this part of the Bill by my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe, who speaks with great authority and experience on this subject. A number of useful and interesting questions were asked. I was asked, first, what my right hon. Friend's ideas were at this stage about the composition of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee. My right hon. Friend will consider what has been said in the debate, but at the moment he is tending towards a relatively small committee which must certainly contain people of relevant experience in the local authority and construction fields, but which will rely for its detailed suggestions on the consultation procedure contained in Clause 9 (3). Interested bodies will be free to put forward ideas to the Advisory Committee. The committee will also have the advice of the Building Research Station.

The hon. Member for Fulham asked whether byelaws will be brought to an end automatically when the Building Regulations come in. I draw his attention to paragraph 8 (2) of the First Schedule, which provides that all building byelaws are to be repealed on the appointed date. I was also asked about local materials. Regulations will mainly be drafted in terms of performance rather than of actual material. Every effort will certainly be made to avoid excluding any particular local material.

The industry will welcome that. For far too long we have been working on specifications which pay no regard to performance. This is a great step forward.

I am glad to accept what my hon. Friend says, but I cannot guarantee that every single regulation will be on a performance basis. However, that is the main intention.

My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe made a very shrewd point when he asked whether the name of the regulations might not be confused with the building regulations which have something to do with safety. I know that my right hon. Friend will wish to consider that point, though I cannot give any undertaking today. I think that my hon. Friend was wrong in reading any sinister intent into Clause 4 (5), which merely gives my right hon. Friend the power to define the sort of forms and details of regulations which will be necessary.

My hon. Friends the Members for Hemel Hempstead and Folkestone and Hythe both spoke very gloomily about the time lag that they fear may occur before building regulations are produced. They spoke of a period of five to ten years and somebody totted up the losses to the economy which might result on their assumptions. I do not want to be too optimistic, but my right hon. Friend certainly hopes to beat that time scale easily. My hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead has done a lot of research on this. He produced figures showing that South Africa, Canada and other countries have taken five years to do this job.

My hon. Friend may be encouraged by the fact that the Scots hope to publish their draft regulations very soon indeed, although the Building (Scotland) Act was passed only in 1959. The preliminary work done by the Scots will give us a good start and we hope—I say this after careful examination—to beat the predictions of my hon. Friends by a substantial margin.

Will my hon. Friend agree that even three years, as in the case of Scotland, is much too long? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not three years."] It will be three years from 1959 to 1962.

All we are asking for is that the building owner shall have the right to appeal. If he is given the right to appeal against the existing byelaws, it will be an enormous help to the Committee in producing new regulations. The Committee will be able to understand what the industry and building owners want. It will help and not hinder progress.

There are several things to be said about this. I think that they can usefully be said in Committee. Last year, 544 applications for consent to relaxation were made to my right hon. Friend, so it is not as though no applications have been made. The efforts of my right hon. Friend's Department would be better directed towards hastening the work of producing regulations than dealing with a large number of new appeals in the future, if a large number were involved. But we can discuss all this in Committee.

I turn now to Part V, which deals with trade effluents.

My hon. Friend has not said anything about the London area. Will he comment on my observations, and those of the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), about bringing the L.C.C. area within the ambit of the proposed building regulations?

I struck that passage out of my notes because Mr. Speaker pulled up the hon. Member for Fulham just after he made that point. I will see to it that my right hon. Friend is aware of what has been said, but I think that his view will remain that pending the Government's decision on what to propose about London government—my right hon. Friend is well aware of the danger of any long delay in this—it would not be sensible to take a view about one of the matters involved namely, building byelaws and regulations. I undertake to bring all this to my right hon. Friend's attention.

Only three points of substance were made on Part V. My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter suggested that charges for effluents should be standardised. I do not think that this is a maintainable proposition. Costs vary widely. So does the composition of effluents. The sensible way is to give the local authority discretion, with my right hon. Friend as the appellate authority to investigate cases in which charges seem unreasonable.

In some cases no charges at all are made in competitive industries. I agree that conditions may vary from place to place, but surely some reasonable scheme could be worked out.

My hon. Friend knows that there is a history to this. We are faced with the main point of what are called the indeterminable agreements. I shall come to that point shortly.

Before doing so I want to dispose of a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester. He wondered why Clause 56 did not mention the nature and composition of the effluent instead of the "volume and rate". It was thought by both the Armer Committee and my right hon. Friend that it would not be fair to subject what are now exempted effluents to the control which can properly be exercised over non-exempted effluents. The Bill will control, and will put under local authority control, the rate and volume of what are now exempted effluents and make them subject to a charge.

It was decided deliberately to omit the nature and composition of that control, because the Armer Committee said that it thought that it would be unfair to abolish altogether the exemption from what are now exempted effluents and make them subject to what would be consent procedure.

In Clause 56 (1, e) there is a reference to giving information. There is nothing concerning the control of effluent. My point was that it was reasonable to give local authorities this added information.

But this would be quite a burden for what are now exempted effluents. We can pursue the point during our Committee discussions.

As my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester will be aware, in Clause 58 the nature and composition features as one of the obligations of information to be given by what are now non-exempted effluents.

I come to the main point made by a number of hon. Members regarding Part V, that the indeterminable agreements impose an unfair burden on local authorities. I must remind the House that these agreements were freely negotiated. I admit that some local authorities concerned may regret the terms they offer. But the Armer principle seems to my right hon. Friend to be right, unless it can be shown by a number of examples to produce a preposterous result.

I omitted one small point. My hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester spoke of what he thought was a defect in Clause 55. My right hon. Friend is aware of this defect and will be putting down an Amendment at a later stage to remedy it.

I hope that I have met most of the points which have been raised, although, of course, I should be the first to agree that the subject has by no means been disposed of. I agree with the hon. Member for Fulham that we can look forward to enjoyable Committee proceedings on the Bill. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead that there will be no question of steam roller- ing. We are most anxious that the Bill should be properly examined in the Committee and that it should emerge even better than it is now. I am glad that the House has given the Bill such a warm welcome. I hope that it will go through its remaining stages and be still more improved.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 ( Committal of Bills).

Public Health Money

[ Queen's Recommendation signified]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 ( Money Committees).

[Major Sir WILLIAM ANSTRUTHER-GRAY in the Chair]

Resolved,

That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the law relating to building byelaws and trade effluents and to make such amendments in the law relating to public health and the functions of local authorities as are commonly made in local Acts, it is expedient to authorise—
  • A. The payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of:
  • (1) any expenses incurred by any Minister under the said Act;
  • (2) any increase attributable to the said Act in the sums so payable under any other Act.
  • B. The payment into the Exchequer of any sums received by any Minister by virtue of the said Act.—[Sir E. Boyle.]
  • Resolution to be reported.

    Report to be received upon Monday next.

    Estimates Committee

    Mr. Alan Green discharged from the Estimates Committee; Mr. John Woollam added.—[ Mr. J. E. B. Hill.]

    Scotland (University Education)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. J. E. B. Hill.]

    1.55 p.m.

    I rise to call attention to the need for another university in Scotland. This is in keeping with the Motion standing on the Order Paper which is supported by Scottish Labour Members of Parliament and by a wide range of Scottish opinion. The Motion regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to announce plans for the expansion of the number of university places in Scotland on a scale sufficient to meet the estimated increase in the applications for university education during the next decade. It deplores the fact that when seven new universities are to be provided for England none is considered necessary for Scotland.

    I quote the Glasgow Herald of 19th May:
    "Mr. Selwyn Lloyd's statement on new universities yesterday will be received without applause in Scotland but also without surprise."
    I need hardly remind right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Glasgow Herald is a strong supporter of the Government and, in this case, an equally strong dissenter from their decision. The Chancellor had informed us earlier that over the next ten years the existing four universities and the Royal College of Science and Technology would be expanded to take an additional 10,000 students.

    Commenting on that, the Glasgow Herald said:
    "They will be taken into overcrowded classrooms in institutions deficient in up-to-date equipment and amenities. For Scotland the Universities Grants Committee has thought in terms of numbers only."
    That is a bitter criticism, but it is true; and it adds fuel to fires that are already smouldering. The existing feeling is strengthened that this Government in particular have one level of thinking for England and a lower level for Scotland.

    University classes of 300 or more will continue to be Scotland's portion. There is added proof of this niggardly attitude in that Glasgow University is not proposing a great increase in its numbers and so its share of the Treasury grant is immediately cut. As a consequence, said its principal, it will be denied the opportunity of bringing standards of accommodation and amenities up to those which will be available to the students of the new post-war foundations in England.

    The Chancellor went further than this in his statement. He said that even with 28 universities, England will not be able to accommodate all the 170,000 or the 175,000 who will be seeking places. Is not that admitted fact a powerful argument for creating a new foundation in Scotland? Will the Financial Secretary tell me why that argument was rejected? He considers that we must await the outcome of the deliberations of the Robbins Committee. But for how long must we wait? The Robbins Committee is dealing, I understand, with the long-term programme of the 'seventies. Can he say, therefore, when Scotland will know something more about this Committee and when it is expected to report?

    Meantime, we are fobbed off with the promise of £25 million over the next ten years to expand existing universities in Scotland, with £9·3 million in the period 1962 to 1965 for a new building programme. But when the £25 million has been spent, Scotland will still be short of 2,000 university places to meet the anticipated demand of the 'seventies. In addition, there will be two universities in Glasgow and Edinburgh with total rolls which are far too large for institutions not operating the inter-collegiate system.

    On 3rd June, 1947, I first raised the question of a new Scottish university, and I then dealt with the problem of size. I pointed out that Glasgow had 5,500 students, Edinburgh had 5,000, and I asked:
    "Are we to go on expanding our universities? Or are we to try to say that a university shall have a particular size …?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 152.]
    No reply was vouchsafed to that query, and in the 1960 university returns it is stated that Glasgow has 6,476 students and Edinburgh 7,030 students. We are now informed that the Government propose still further to enlarge these numbers so that Glasgow will accommodate over 8,000 students and Edinburgh over 9,000.

    I pointed out in the debate in June, 1947, that some universities on the Continent place no limit on numbers—Poznan has 12,000 students and Rome has 42,000. But if the Government, so far as Scotland is concerned, now have any new ideas as to what the total roll of a university should be—if they are aiming at numbers without limit—they should say so clearly, because if it is intended to increase further the numbers in Glasgow and Edinburgh that intention will provide a strong reason in itself for another new university.

    It should be noted that those who condemn cramming sometimes forget that there is a physical as well as a mental implication. Where the body is crammed the mind tends to be frustrated and it is difficult to get mens sana without the corpore sano.

    In reaching the decisions I have mentioned the Chancellor has, we are told, been guided by the Universities Grants Committee, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman refuses to say anything about the advice he received. I was told on the last occasion this matter was raised that to reveal that advice would destroy the happy informality of the relationship which exists between the Chancellor and the chairman of that Committee. However, I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will think again about this, because in 1961–62, in the present financial session, recurring grants for all British universities amount to £57,779,070, capital grants to £24,900,000, making a total of £82,679,070.

    It is no exaggeration to say that in a few years that sum will top the £100 million mark. By then British universities will almost wholly be maintained by the public purse. It is true that there will still probably be some private benefactions, but these will tend to diminish. It may be argued that income is derived from fees, but more and more, in increasing amounts, fees are being paid by local authorities. In these developing circumstances, where public finances are engaged for the maintenance and construction of universities, is the Chancellor to continue his present policy of sealed lips?

    Parliament is the guardian of the public purse and represents the people. It is entitled to know why the right hon. and learned Gentleman spends money in one place and refuses to expend it in another where the claim to it is equally strong. Why does he go in for the latest and most up-to-datest south of the Border and continue with his policy of crushing the largest possible number of students into the smallest possible space in Scotland—in a country which has not had a new university for over 300 years?

    Will the Financial Secretary say what advice was tendered to his right hon. and learned Friend by the Universities Grants Committee? On what grounds did they tender that advice? Or is the hon. Gentleman under strict orders today to play Brer Rabbit, to lie low and to say nothing at all? I certainly hope that he will say something about the matters that I have raised. I trust the hon. Gentleman will realise, and accept, that the person who pays the piper should have some say in the tune that is to be played, and I urge him to make another approach to this aspect of university education.

    May I now seek support from the recently published and exhilarating pamphlet "Signpost for the Sixties". There is no waiting for the 1970s here. It refers to the decade in which we are at present living, not the decade to which the Chancellor's views and thoughts on Scotland seem to be related:
    "Britain gives a dangerously small proportion of its young people university or comparable education; less than 5 per cent. as compared with 8 per cent. in the U.S.S.R. and and 25 per cent. in the United States of America. Moreover, university students form a smaller proportion of the population in Britain than in the nations of the Common Market—smaller even than in Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain. In the technological field we lag behind France, West Germany and even Switzerland. The United States are educating each year two to three times, and the Soviet Union five times, as many highly-trained technologists per head of the population as we are."
    The present Government, says the pamphlet, talk a great deal about equality of educational opportunity, but they have not found the money for enlarging and improving the State system on the scale required to make this ideal a reality. This is particularly true of university education in Scotland, as the Chancellor's decision proves.

    Let me give some statistical examples of the effect of this pernicious and parsimonious treatment of Scotland. I refer to Cmnd. 902, the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, table 3 at page 5, dealing with graduate scientists and engineers. That table shows that the shortage between requirements and expectations in 1959 was 8,900. When we consider the number of universities awarding degrees and remember that Scotland awards one-fifth of the total in Great Britain, then Scotland's contribution ought to have been one-fifth of 8,000, namely 1,600.

    I turn to the present Report of the University Grants Committee, Cmnd. 1166, where we are told of the number of degrees and diplomas in pure science and technology awarded in Scotland. In science there were 610 from all our universities, including the Royal College, and in technology 266, giving a total of 876. Had there been a fair basis of university allocation there ought to have been 1,600. But those figures do not represent half of the part that Scotland ought to be playing in that respect. In my view, that is due entirely to the lack of accommodation.

    The four universities in Scotland in 1960 entered 4,410 new students on the roll. When I looked at the Annual Report of the Scottish Education Department dealing with education in Scotland in 1960, I saw that 17,000 odd boys and girls were presented for the Scottish leaving certificate. Of these 9,800 were awarded the certificate. Yet in that year there were only 4,410 new entrants to Scottish universities.

    I think it is agreed that the great mass of new university entrants come from those who have won the Scottish leaving certificate, and yet here we have 9,800 boys and girls who got the certificate in June 1960, while the number of new entrants to the four universities in October 1960 totalled only 4,410, a discrepancy of more than 5,000. While I agree that many of these boys and girls who have that qualification do not think of undertaking a university education—they may go to other colleges or into commerce—nevertheless it is a fair inference to say that many of those boys and girls who could have gone to the university have not done so because the accommodation is lacking.

    Let me take another approach to this problem of a new university in Scotland. Between 1939 and 1959 the increase in the student population throughout Great Britain amounted to 75 per cent. In England and Wales it was as high as 90 per cent. In Scotland it was 60 per cent. But while the universities in England increased in number by 50 per cent., in Scotland there was no increase at all. Stating it brutally, there is now an actual decrease in the number of universities in Scotland from 5 to 4. The student population in Scotland over the last twenty years has increased by 60 per cent., but there is no recognition of that fact in stone and lime. An attempt has been made to solve the situation by cramming more and more students into two universities in particular.

    That brings me to the further point that there are many who say that the Royal College of Science and Technology could meet our needs. The Royal College does a magnificent job, but it is not a university. In the first place, it is not permitted to award its own degrees. Secondly, it is purely a functional college. Thirdly, beyond its present extension there is no room whatever for further expansion.

    If I may take an example, no one in Wales would accept the College of Advanced Technology in Cardiff as a university, and it is interesting to notice that while the University of Wales is regarded as one federal institution, no Welshman regards Wales as having anything other than four separate universities for a population of 2,800,000. Nevertheless the Financial Secretary today will assert that four universities in Scotland are sufficient to meet the needs of a population which exceeds 5 million. No one in Manchester would regard the excellent technological institute there as a university in competition with Manchester University, even though it has done, and does, splendid work.

    I agree, too, that we must have more technologists, and in my view the university, like the college, has to play its part in producing them; but a university must mean something which is comprehensive and not specialist. It must cater for the arts, for teaching, for medicine, for divinity, for law and for all the rest. Schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of which we hear a great deal, are admirable and to be copied, as are their like in Germany and Russia, but they are not universities, and no one claims them as such.

    The Financial Secretary may ask about support. When I first raised this topic 14 years ago that was one of the questions which I was asked. In Scotland support has been widespread. It has come from local authorities in different parts of the country. Campaign committees have been formed. In one case a trust has been created for funds. Financial support has been promised by industrialists. In another case an academic board has, I believe, been set up.

    Even with all that support, nobody expects that a university will suddenly materialise. We agree that it must grow, and the sooner the hon. Member starts permitting it to do so the better for Scotland. Some faculties will develop quicker than others, depending on the environment and the national need. There is, of course, one pressing national need. The 1960 education report for Scotland shows that we are spending £90 million on the education of our boys and girls and that at the same time we have a shortage of 3,700 teachers.

    That is a national need, and one which can be met only at university level; but the university accommodation is not there to meet it, and there is no promise that it will be there to meet it within the next ten years. We are told that colleges of education will help, but they can do so only partly, and when it comes to the production of secondary school teachers, such as mathematics, English and science teachers, the university is the place for providing them and launching them into the school world. We cannot solve the problem of the shortage of teachers unless the Financial Secretary persuades his right hon. Friend to change his mind and to give Scotland another university.

    There is a problem of location. Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities serve a population of 4 million people; and that is a fantastic situation. The Government's policy in face of it is to go on crowding these two universities with still more students. To deal with the overcrowding in the City of Glasgow the Government believe in a policy of dispersal and the building of a fourth new town. A sound dispersal policy must be comprehensive and, in my view, would seek in all its phases to fill Scotland's empty spaces. These are in the Highlands. Millions of pounds have been poured into that area over the years, yet depopulation continues. Indeed, that is true of Scotland generally. Since the last census in 1951, 254,000 people have left our country. It is particularly true of the Highlands because there have been no incomers into that part of Scotland to repair the wastage which has occurred.

    Apart from being a teaching institution, a university helps to attract people and ultimately to settle many of them in the area where it functions. The new industries, such as electronics, nuclear physics and pharmacy could add to this tendency. As a further stimulant to that end, I would create a fully residential university which would help to bring people from other parts of the world to Scotland, perhaps with Scotsmen among them, and bringing new thought and newer applications of thought with a mixing of people which could be beneficial not only to Scotland but to the whole of the United Kingdom.

    If I am asked where I should like to see the university, then I see it in Inverness, famous in many ways, the gateway to a land of unsurpassed beauty—famous because to many of us there occurs the scene between Macbeth and Duncan and the interjection of Banquo to the effect that here the air is delicate; and, of course, the air is always an attraction. There I should build our fifth university, one which would be a tribute to the zeal of those who pursued the quest of knowledge, fortified only by their poke of meal, and handed to us the torch undimmed and unflickering. A university worthy, not only of our past, but of the splendour of generations yet unborn.

    2.30 p.m.

    First, I apologise to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) for having missed the first few minutes of his speech. I hope that he will forgive me. After the rest of his most interesting speech, which I followed with the closest possible attention, I feel bound to make one or two observations on what he said and to elaborate on one or two of the points that he made.

    In Scotland, there has always been a marked respect and love for higher education. Through the centuries the urge to go on to a higher seat of learning has been very marked. Even today there is a far greater respect for the learned mind in Scotland than there is perhaps south of the Border. This cult of the mind is reflected in the fact that in Scotland there is, I understand, a larger proportion of university places in relation to the population than in England and Wales.

    No one disputes the growing need today for higher education. In Scotland, we need not only a flow of technically trained people for industry, but a larger flow of young people trained and qualified in the more liberal arts. A great dead is said about the need for technologists, technicians, scientists, and so on. Of course, that is true, but I hope that in our anxiety to develop the flow of recruits of this kind we shall not overlook the fact that we need as much as ever before as many, if not many more, people trained in the arts and the like to take their place in business and industry beside the more narrowly trained graduates in science and the like. I suggest that we in Scotland need an even greater flow of young graduates in future than those in the South.

    The experts in these matters continually draw attention to the fact, that, looking some years ahead, we may be falling short of the skilled minds which the development in Scottish industry for which we look will require. We know that a great programme of university expansion has been announced, that the existing universities are to get bigger and that more places are being provided in them. The hon. Member for Govan implied—I hope that I have not misunderstood him—that there has been a change in the situation and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested that we were not to have a fifth university in Scotland. I may be wrong—I hope that my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will correct me if I am—but my understanding is that the position has not changed.

    Last December, some of the civic leaders from Inverness, Perth and elsewhere, those districts which hope to get the fifth university if there is to be one, met the chairman of the University Grants Committee in Edinburgh. I understand that the position as stated then remains unchanged today. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that there is to be a programme of expansion up to 1970 and that thereafter the future needs of Scotland will depend on the report of the Committee which is at present investigating the position. Therefore, if there has been any feeling that Scotland has been denied a fifth university by Government decree, it is quite unfounded.

    The criticism centres round the fact that, while a decision has been made for England, no decision has been made for Scotland. According to what the Financial Secretary has said, we must wait for the Robbins Committee's Report and the 1970s before we know whether Scotland is to have another university.

    I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. That puts the dots on the i's. As I understand, the English universities to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred were those coming within the building programme which had already been formulated. The Scottish programme is in the next stage of the operation, and we must wait until the Robbins Committee has reported before we know what is to take place. I see nothing wrong with that.

    The hon. Gentleman may see quite a lot wrong with the decisions of the Government. Anxious though I am to see an expansion in university education, I cannot see anything wrong in suggesting that we should wait to see what the problem is before we set about finding a solution to it.

    We know that until 1970 or so the needs of young students coming forward to universities are to be met by an expansion within the existing four universities in Scotland. More places are to be provided for them. Here, I think that the hon. Member for Govan and I are more in agreement. I believe that a university can grow so much that, in the end, it ceases to be a university. The character of the university changes and the quality of the training provided by the institution is no longer that which truly should be provided. In other words, the whole foundation becomes just too big.

    We recognise that the number of students coming forward must increase, and I can see no way out of the conclusion that, sooner or later, a fifth university in Scotland will be necessary. If I am right in saying that, I trust that the fifth foundation will be a little different from those which we already have in Scotland. I say that with tremendous trepidation, having been at an English university myself.

    I believe that there is a strong case for arguing that, first, a future new university in Scotland should be residential in character, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, and, secondly, should be based more on the tutorial system of instruction and less on the class system, which is so outstanding a feature of university education in Scotland today.

    The hon. Member for Govan spoke with great enthusiasm of Inverness as a site for a fifth university. I listened to him with great interest and sympathy, because all that he said about Inverness was quite right. What a beautiful and splendid place it is! He quoted in support of his argument some famous names in Scottish history and Shakespearean plays—Macbeth, Duncan and Banquo. If he came a little further south-west, he would find that the associations of Perth with those three gentlemen are rather stronger than those of Inverness.

    I was not calling in aid from the dead, or from ghosts. I had in mind merely a famous scene.

    The hon. Gentleman may associate a certain scene with Inverness, but I can associate at least one act with Perth. Not only can I summon Macbeth, Duncan and Banquo, but I can bring in the three witches as well, because, as the hon. Member knows, they appeared on the blasted heath not far outside Perth. There I quote, without great conviction, the local legend.

    I do not dispute the claims of Inverness, but other places in Scotland have claims, too. Those of Perth, I suggest, are rather stronger than those of anywhere else. Perth is the ancient capital of Scotland. Its cultural associations are well known. It is geographically well placed. I suggest that very favourable consideration should be given to that fair city if, as I hope it will, a fifth university is founded in Scotland.

    While I support the claim for a fifth university in time, I suggest that there is a certain outlook in Scotland in regard to university education which could be modified with advantage. In the administration of grants for students going to universities, local authorities have by tradition exercised a certain parochialism. I do not mean this unpleasantly or discourteously, but it is a fact that, no doubt for very good historical reasons, it has been the custom for a young man or young woman to go to the university nearest to his or her home.

    The whole system of grants and their administration is now being reviewed. I hope that out of that review will come a wider outlook. It is curious that, in this age when we are flying to the moon, putting rockets into space, conquering great distances, beginning to scratch at the infinite and looking to the far beyond, we cannot convince ourselves that it is right for a young person to go to a university far from his home.

    I wish that we could somehow recapture a little of the spirit of older, though, in many ways, less favoured days, something of the attitude of our ancestors, when it was accepted that a young man who could afford or manage to go to university should go, not to the university at the end of the road, but away to the Continent somewhere, to the great foundations of Italy, France, Germany or elsewhere.

    If the problems we face today mean anything, they surely imply that we need to break down more and more the national barriers which enclose us, not only the physical barriers but the mental barriers as well. I look forward to a time in Scotland when it will be the accustomed thing for a young person not necessarily to go to St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, or—who knows—to Perth or Inverness, but away to Padua, the Sorbonne or others of the great and ancient institutions of the Continent.

    2.43 p.m.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) has done a service in choosing this subject for an Adjournment debate. He presented a wealth of argument, both statistical and logical, to which there can be no answer.

    I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) say that we should wait until some time in the 1970s to know what the problem is. That remark reveals a deplorable state of mind. The problem is not an academic one for the remote future, in a decade or two. It is with us now. It was illustrated recently by the fact that there was a strike in Glasgow in which the whole educational background we have in Scotland was brought to the forefront of public and political discussion.

    My hon. Friend told us that we are today short of 3,750 teachers in Scotland. That is a serious indictment of our education system and of the complacency with which we face it. How does our situation compare with England? I should not like to argue about the broad picture of education in England, but, recently, in my part of Scotland, we were visited by same students from Eton. We took the Eton lads to see the local academy. The number of pupils at the Cumnock Academy is about the same as the number at Eton but what immediately astonished the Eton boys was the overcrowding of the classes at Cumnock. They were surprised to see 42 pupils in a room.

    Recently, some of our miners went to Eton. I went with them and saw what went on there. We saw a dozen boys in a classroom. We saw the laboratories. The laboratories at Eton were about as costly as the whole of the Cumnock Academy. We do not grudge Eton anything and we do not envy Eton boys their opportunities for education, but it struck me with great force that there is a crying need for Scottish education to receive much greater attention and financial assistance from the Government.

    These things do get reported out of context sometimes. It would not be right to say that a dozen was anything like the usual number for the average class at Eton. It depends on the subject being taken, but there would still be quite a large number of classes where one would find 25 or 30 boys in a class for certain subjects. Furthermore, whatever the admirers or detractors of Eton may say, to suggest that there has been very lavish spending on scientific equipment at Eton over the past fifty years as a whole would be something of an exaggeration.

    The hon. Gentleman speaks with a knowledge of Eton. He does not know Cumnock Academy. However much he might think that science has been neglected at Eton, if he will follow the pioneering example of the Eton students and come to Cumnock Academy, he will be able to have a day's education there that will completely convert him to my view.

    I bow to his knowledge of Eton, because I understand that he was there, but in the two classes at which I was present the attendance was 12 and 15 Even allowing that there are some classes with 30 and a very exceptional one with 40, my argument still holds good. Scottish education needs to be brought up to the standard which one can see at Eton. Allowing for any mistakes in statistics which I may have made, I think that I have given a fairly accurate picture of what goes on. At Eton, since the hon. Gentleman left the school, a new swimming pool has been built for £70,000. If we ask for £70,000 for Cumnock Academy, we are told that it is quite impossible.

    I do not want to interrupt unnecessarily, but the swimming pool was the result of a private subscription fund set up by some old boys. It was not paid for out of current revenue of the school.

    Unfortunately, Cumnock Academy has not got the private benefactors and the advantages of Eton.

    However, I do not want to stay at Eton too long, although it is a very fascinating subject. All that my humble argument is is that if only a fraction of the sum of money which is spent at Eton could be transferred to Cumnock Academy it would make a difference. This, of course, relates to the number of teachers. I understand that there are about 100 teachers to about 1,200 pupils in Eton. In Cumnock Academy there is a very much smaller number.

    My main argument is the fact that we are 3,750 teachers short in Scotland. On the slightest educational argument we are this number of teachers short, and I believe that that is the minimum number indeed. I do not believe that we can afford to look upon this university problem and the need for universities to train teachers in the complacent way in which the Government are looking upon it. For example, we are told that we are to spend £25 million over the next ten years. Chicken feed; absolute chicken feed when we realise what are the educational necessities and needs at the present time.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Govan has mentioned the Soviet Union. When I was in Moscow, at the same time as the Prime Minister, we went to see the science department of the University of Moscow, and I remember the Prime Minister asking the rector, "How many students have you here?" The answer was, "12,000." Then the Prime Minister asked, "How many are learning English?" The answer was, "All of them."

    If the Financial Secretary has read a very interesting supplement to the Financial Times this week he will have seen a two-page article on education in the U.S.S.R. and a picture, which, to me, is very impressive indeed, of the very large number of students listening to lectures in the University of Moscow. This is only one branch of the University in Moscow. Right throughout the Soviet Union and throughout the Communist countries we find this passionate urge far education of all kinds, especially technical education, and the result is shown in the remarkable advance in scientific development in the U.S.S.R.

    We cannot possibly look to the progress of this country in the future if we are to neglect and try to hide from ourselves the fact that educational progress in the Communist countries is advancing at a tremendous rate. Whatever mistakes have been made by the Soviet Union—and I believe that the Soviet Union, like other countries, has made tremendous mistakes both on the home front and on the international front—yet there was one mistake which the Soviet Union did not make: it did not forget the education of the younger generation. That is what, I fear, we are doing, in our neglect of the need for educational advancement, a neglect which is expressed in this parsimonious attitude towards the possibility of a new university in Scotland.

    I do not grudge Inverness the possibility of a new university, but I do think that there is one kind of university which any Government looking into the future would do well to think about, and that is one far agricultural education. There are various institutes, technical and agricultural colleges in Scotland, which have rendered and are rendering great service. I refer to the Rowatt Institute in Aberdeen, and also the Hannah Research College, in Ayrshire. If we were thinking ahead about advancing agricultural education in Scotland we should be thinking in those terms. Ayr County Council is very progressive. Some years ago it took over a large country house for the purpose of dealing specifically with agricultural students, and there, in embryo, were the possibilities of an agricultural university. All these schemes would be taken seriously and not academically if we realised the absolute importance of spending far more money on education than we are today.

    It is because I sense in this a parsimonious attitude to the proposal for additional university accommodation in Scotland that I strongly support my hon. Friend the Member for Govan and warmly congratulate him on having raised this subject in debate.

    2.57 p.m.

    I shall not detain the House very long, but I could not let this opportunity pass without saying just a word or two upon the subject matter of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin). I must apologise to him for not having heard the earlier part of it.

    Before I say something about the details of the question I should like to spend a few minutes on the principle involved in so far as the University Grants Committee takes action, takes decisions, on these matters. This has been a subject of discussion in the Public Accounts Committee for very many years now. Inevitably and invariably the Government come down on the side of the University Grants Committee.

    I take the view that the time has now come when these decisions are of such paramount national importance that they ought to be taken within the confines of this House; they ought to be taken by the Government and ought to be defended by the Government; the Government ought to be able to adduce the arguments in favour of the decisions taken, which ought not to be taken, and public money ought not to be spent, by a body without due regard to the arguments adduced in this House on one side or the other.

    I regard that as a fundamental principle which will need to be advanced, and increasingly so, in the years ahead. I do not know whether a similar principle exists in the Soviet Union or America. What I do know is that if it does not their university education does not seem to have suffered by it. Indeed, one of the serious elements in the situation today is that we are very quickly losing ground in the production of university graduates.

    Having said that, I want to say a word or two on whether we should have a fifth university in Scotland. I am not so obsessed by numbers of buildings. If I could be assured that the number of graduates coming to the existing universities would be sufficient to meet the demands in a competitive world I would I would not give two hoots whether there was a fifth university or not.

    The same argument ought to apply to England and Wales. The Government must surely know by now that whenever something is done for England and is not done for Scotland, suspicion and the nationalism in Scotland are immediately aroused. The Government ought to take account of that fact.

    I wish to underline an argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), when he said that the basic fault lies in the fact that we have not yet got round to realising that vastly increased sums of money must be spent on educa- tion. The question is where it must be spent, at which points in the educational system must investment be injected.

    In the course of my duties as a Member of Parliament, I have visited many Scottish schools, particularly in Glasgow, during the last few months. I can only say that the conditions in those schools were quite deplorable. Many schools now being used in Scotland are eighty and even a hundred years old. There are hundreds of such schools. Many of them are still lit by gas, and the teaching standards and the gross overcrowding of classrooms are such that the children have not a ghost of a chance to make the best of their abilities.

    Given the Government's capital investment programme and given their unwillingness to inject still more money into it, I would say that if there is an extra £5 million, £10 million, or £15 million to be spent on education it should be spent on the foundations and on the primary and secondary schools. I believe that if the present universities are adequately expanded they can cater for the demand at the moment.

    The principal thing at present is to reduce the size of classes in the secondary schools and to increase the status of the teachers in the secondary and primary schools. After we have done that, we can think about the other matter. But we do not want to talk about doing it in the 1970s. The rate of progress must be greater than that. We have only to look at our competitors to realise that fact.

    Having voiced some of my reservations about the establishment of a fifth university in Scotland, I would point out that there is a good deal of prestige to be had from the establishment of another university, a matter of which Scotland is not unaware. When we build a university it is an expression of faith in the future of the country. We want people outside to know that the United Kingdom has faith in Scotland.

    The building of a university exercises an enormous attraction to industry. More than anything else today industry wants educated personnel. I know that some industries have come to Fife precisely because we have university facilities and technical education facilities on the doorstep there. This fact is playing a considerable part in bringing scientific industry into the town of Glenrothes.

    The sad fact is that even when the scientific or engineering student gets a degree in a Scottish university he cannot get a job in Scotland. More than 50 per cent. leave Scotland when they get a degree. It is not much use talking about establishing a fifth university and getting more and more technologists and scientists with engineering and scientific degrees if, when they have graduated, they find that they cannot get a job in Scotland.

    I must say that the Government Front Bench is not the best institution for the propagation of education in Scotland. Hardly any of the Scottish Ministers were educated in Scotland, still less the back bench Members of the Tory Party. They all migrated to England for their education. With one or two exceptions they went either to Oxford or Cambridge. Certainly, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland did not practise what they preach. Let us not have any of this nonsense about the merits of Scottish education when they themselves seek to avoid it.

    It is no good talking about it unless we also pay attention to the industrial outlets in Scotland for the graduates once they have been trained at the universities. I shall not engage in what has been described as childish parochialism about where the fifth university should be sited. I do not give a hoot where it is sited. As long as we have increased university provision, I no not care whether we have a fifth university or not. But, side by side with increased university facilities, we must have increased industrial outlets for the graduates so that Scotland may play its proper part in the competitive fight in the world in which the United Kingdom is taking part.

    3.5 p.m.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) deserves our congratulations. He has been very persistent about the matter, and in the end he has been rewarded with a far more ample allocation of time than one normally expects for an Adjournment debate. Unfortu- nately, it happens on a Friday when most Scottish Members on both sides of the House have constituency engagements. Otherwise we might have had a very full and free debate. As it is, I do not think that the Financial Secretary can complain about the range of it. There has been an approach to the topic from a remarkable diversity of points of view.

    My position will, I think, relieve the Financial Secretary a little. On other occasions I have bombarded him with a few figures and data. I did not know that this amount of time would be available today, and so all my data on this subject are 400 miles away. The hon. Gentleman will not find me emulating my hon. Friend in introducing quotations, data and facts and figures. If I adduce some arguments which ought to be supported by such detail and I do not so support them, I hope he will understand why.

    We hold the debate in the shadow, if that is the right word, of the work of the Robbins Committee. It has been pointed out that decisions at present are not final. I dissent, however, from the point of view of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), who seemed to be putting to the House the idea that no decisions had been taken. The situation as I see it is that in England approval has been given to the establishment of a number of new universities—I forget the total number—since the war. There were four recently and others earlier.

    But in Scotland it is not simply the situation that no approval has been given for new universities. There is the element that approval has been given to the building up to very considerable size of the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. That is an element in the situation which the Robbins Committee is not likely to change; if we are committed to building up new universities to the size we are considering, that is that, and one does not undo that in five or ten years.

    Before going on to the main theme of the debate, I should like to ask the Financial Secretary for a little information about one of the main practical issues involved. For some years now there has been difficulty—more than difficulty—in suitably qualified Scottish students finding their way into Scottish universities. As has been pointed out, the tendency is for Scottish students to seek Scottish universities. I agree to the full with what the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire said about the desirability of their going further afield. I believe that following the new grants provisions that tendency will probably begin to operate fairly fully. Besides the various university centres on the Continent to which the hon. Member referred, I think there is a good case for making some provision to extend grant arrangements to students going to universities in the Commonwealth—to Canada. New Zealand, Australia and so on.

    Leaving that aside for the moment, I wonder whether the Financial Secretary can tell us what the situation is now. How many properly qualified students in recent years, applying for admission to the Scottish universities, have been turned down, and in consequence are doing without a university education? That is at the root of many of the worries connected with this question. I have a recollection that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson), when he was at the Scottish Office—this was three or four years ago—told me that many Scottish students were not being accepted and that this was likely to continue for some years. I have in mind that the figure he gave amounted to some hundred. As a matter of help to the Scottish people in following these matters, it would be helpful if the Financial Secretary could give this information.

    I cannot give the information this afternoon. I shall obtain it as soon as possible, and if the hon. Gentleman would like to put down a Question for a Written Answer, the information could by that means be given to the House as a whole.

    That would be very helpful, and I am grateful to the Financial Secretary. I shall certainly follow that up.

    One other aspect—this is a slightly invidious matter to raise—is that the universities have by general consent a right to decide whom they will admit It is their business; it is part of the conception of the university that it should be so. But one would like to know, if Scottish students are being turned down by the Scottish universities, whether English students are being accepted. One does not object to, and I have argued strongly for, the provision of places for overseas students. We must do that even though it means excluding Scottish students to some extent, but it is a different matter if Scottish students are excluded in favour of English students. There is still a touch of nationalism in Scotland. Scotland has its own system of universities, and in some cases it is a separate system within the United Kingdom system, and England has its system, but one feels that there should be certain obligations to provide for the needs of Scottish students before the needs of English students.

    I have not heard of many Welsh students seeking entry to Scottish universities. If they did, I should offer them a welcome, but only on the assumption that no Scottish students were being displaced. This is, however, rather an invidious matter, and I do not take too belligerent an attitude about it, but I think that some information on this matter would help the people of Scotland.

    On the question of a fifth university, the situation seems to me to be very simple. The university Grants Committee has been considering the general question of university expansion in the United Kingdom. Its recommendation, which has been accepted by the Government, as I think they normally are, is that in England the provision for expansion should be met very largely by the establishment of new institutions. It has also recommended to the Government, and they have accepted it, that in Scotland provision for expansion should be met by the extension of the size of the existing institutions. That seems to be a divergence of policy that needs some explaining. We want to know why that happens. Why is it proposed to build up at Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in England to establish newer and, presumably, smaller universities?

    This is the crucial point, as was pointed out earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Govan, on the difference in treatment between England and Scotland. Here, we run up against the problem that the considerations and arguments which lead the members of the University Grants Committee to their decisions are not matters which are given to the public. But I ask the Financial Secretary to give us whatever information he finds it possible to give on this problem. It does not seem to me that there is a case for treating the two countries differently in this matter in this way.

    I want to say something about a comment made in Scotland, very often from the highest quarters, about this situation. We have been told repeatedly, from people whom one would assume would have known rather better, that the reason why no fifth university should be established in Scotland is not that no such university is "needed". The word "needed" begs the whole question, which is whether we provide for university expansion by increasing the size of existing institutions or by means of establishing new universities.

    The question of how a decision of this sort is reached is important. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) had one or two rather forcible things to say about it, and I dealt with it in a Question myself the other day. We must, I think, take it that the provision of university education, and of higher education generally of university standard is, nowadays a major matter of national policy.

    In the days before the war, what the University Grants Committee did was pretty small. If my memory is correct, the Committee spent about £2 million a year, and there was little done in exploring new avenues and aspects. There were, certainly, initiatives like the establishment of particular schools at London, but, broadly speaking, the work of the Committee was a great deal more limited than it is today. The conception of the people generally about higher education was much more limited. Today, it is a major matter—one on which we know that our future, in an international and also in an economic sense, depends. We have a right—and I use that phrase, begging a lot of questions, in the commonplace sense—to know the considerations involved in reaching decisions about university expansion.

    There is one specific question which is, again, rather invidious, but which I should put, because it has a good deal of currency. If one wants to know just what were the arguments adduced to the Grants Committee and which led to this decision, one would also like to know whether there was any bloc of Scottish opinion in the advice given to the Committee or whether there was diversification. A great deal of suspicion has been expressed that the existing Scottish institutions clubbed together to put their point of view in a mass sense to the Committee and that the Committee, faced with a united front from Scottish opinion, accepted it instead of examining the problem in the same detached way as it might have examined the problem in other parts of the United Kingdom. If it is possible to have information about that, it would be helpful.

    Fortunately, we have plenty of time, so I may make an intervention here on a related matter. It is about the general question of the Grants Committee and its work. This, again, may be one of the matters which the Robbins Committee may recommend on, but I wonder whether, in future, we will find that the Grants Committee and its relation to the Government is not the best sort of machinery which may be devised for this kind of job.

    I believe that in the near future the problem of university and university level education will be too big for the Grants Committee, which has a full-time chairman and vice-chairman, but with part-time members. It seems to me that they cannot take the close and continual interest and give the wise decisions which are expected from them about a large group of diverse, and I hope increasingly diverse, institutions, along with the colleges of advanced technology. These colleges may be under a separate committee or they may not; I do not know. But their story is one of the success stories of recent years. By all the evidence they are raising themselves to a level which makes them almost university institutions in their own right. What will be the government of this variety of institutions and what will be the Government's part in it?

    I hope that I shall not be felt too critical of the Government, although that is not normally a fault in the eyes of the Opposition, when I say that for several years when I have asked a fair number of Questions about universities—and I have had at least one Adjournment on the subject—while I have always been given the greatest help and courtesy by the Financial Secretaries and the Chancellors, I have had the impression, much more than on any other subject, that they were speaking from briefs—that they were busy men whose concerns were elsewhere and for whom the universities were merely a little corner plot on which they took expert advice. I do not think that that is a suitable situation to persist throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, and I hope that the Government are giving thought to the question of the future machinery for the consideration of university development.

    Another question is that of size. The University Grants Committee has been recommending and the Government have been accepting new universities in England, and these new universities, most of us assume, will be of limited size, as far ahead as we can see, at any rate. At least two of the new vice-chancellors, Lord James and Mr. Fulton of Brighton, have gone on record as saying that they do not want their universities to go beyond 3,000–4,000 students. This seems to be reasonable and desirable. For a long time, since long before the war at any rate, the Association of University Teachers, which normally has questions such as this always in the front of its mind, has been telling us that a university ought not to go much beyond these figures. At 5,000 one is reaching the danger point.

    This, I think, is one of the guides to university policy. But when I asked the Financial Secretary about this the other day he said simply that opinions are bound to differ about an optimum size and that this is primarily a matter for each university to decide. That does not seem to me to be adequate. We have the University Grants Committee recommending about policy and we have the Government in the end deciding about policy, and yet on this key question, on which the whole development of individual universities rests, we are simply told that it is a matter for each university to decide.

    The Grants Committee has opinions about residence, as I remember. Has it no opinion about size? To suggest that it has not, does not seem to me to make sense. If the University Grants Committee forms opinions, as it does from time to time, about a fair number of what seem to be, comparatively speaking, minor matters, surely it has an opinion on the question whether there is such a thing as a desirable size for a university and, if there is, what that size should be.

    What about the Government? What about the students? What about the public generally? Have they no say? Should their opinions not count in this matter of how big each university should be? Should it be simply the individual university which decides this kind of thing? I do not think that it should. It seems to me to be one of the crucial matters in university policy, and I thought that the University Grants Committee would give guidance to the Government on it and that the Government would have in mind some idea of their policy in the matter of size.

    These seem to me to be the lines of approach which suggest that a fifth university is desirable in Scotland, plus one other point that I will mention in a moment. Essentially, most of us who want this university feel that it is not good enough to build up universities to an—as it seems to us—excessive size, but that we should instead have new institutions which will remain at a much smaller size. That is the thing we want in Scotland, instead of the building up of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

    There is one other consideration which exists in Scotland. I am sorry it does, but I am sure it does, and very strongly, too. We need a new breaking into the Scottish circle of ideas, the Scottish intellectual world, if I may put it that way. Scotland is not in a happy situation today in these matters. Recent visitors have frequently commented, it seems to me, on the excessive stiffness and uncompromisingness of the "Establishment", the feeling in Scotland that one does not get the proper play of radical ideas, and that there are two separate folds. Either they are stiffly establishment, or much more revolutionary than radical, and I think that is true. It is difficult to adduce chapter and verse for this, but I think it is true, We get examples of it in industry.

    The hon. Gentleman will be very familiar with the fact that for two or three years Members of the Opposition have been arguing that Scottish industrialists are far too stiff in their adherence to the past. They are not receptive to new ideas, and Questions are going down continually saying that. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West adduced one of the essential things in saying that we are producing so many science graduates but that industrialists in Scotland do not use them. They come South of the Border.

    On educational change, I am sure that nobody could have observed the development of Scottish education and English education—I am talking about school education—since the war without feeling that Scotland had lost its impetus, that ideas are being born and developed in England, and that Scotland's old lead in school education was being gradually diminished year after year. One can instance illustrations of that sort of thing. It all points to the more general point that we need some new explosive factor in the intelectual world of Scotland. A new univesrity might well produce such a force, particularly a new university on different lines from the old. I think there is general agreement in the House, so far as one gather, that new universities ought to be encouraged to break new ground, and this is an additional reason why it seems to me that a new university in Scotland is highly desirable, in preference to building up the existing universities to a considerable size.

    One doubt I must express to my hon. Friend who opened the debate and also to the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire, and that is on the question of the new university being fully residential. That would indeed be a break with tradition in Scotland, but I doubt whether fully residential is anything that we can reasonably hope for. If there is a certain rationing of expenditure on residence in universities elsewhere, I do not think we can hope to say that we must have our new university fully resi- dential, that we must have the cash for it and that that is that. I have my doubts about it. Apart from that, I think it should be an institution along new lines.

    I certainly agree. I am very strongly in favour of the residential principle. The higher the amount of residence the better, but I think that it is probably a little impracticable.

    May I say that I differ from both my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. MacPherson) and the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), because, of course, since already St. Andrew's Univerisity is partially residential, therefore, that idea applied to a fifth university would not be novel, and would lack the exploratory development that my hon. Friend wants, and which I want, too.

    They are all partly residential, but the fact that there was not a new state of affairs as regards residents would not prevent a new foundation from being a very explosive force if it were properly set going in other ways —such as its curriculum, methods of teaching, and so on.

    The question of location has received a certain amount of publicity in Scotland. I am not too happy about the kind of publicity it has received. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West, I want a new university in Scotland. I think that his phrase was that he did not give a hang where it went. I do not feel quite so strongly as that. I have certain preferences. Both Stirling and Falkirk would like a fifth university to be sited within their boundaries. I have carefully explained to my constituents that, while I want a fifth university in Scotland, I shall not fight to the last ditch to have it sited in my constituency. Stirling and Falkirk are two very attractive towns, but I agree that we want a fifth university in Scotland to be located in whatever site is discovered to be suitable after proper consideration and investigation.

    I want to enter a caveat here. The question of location in Scotland is different from the question of location in England. All the new universities in England have been sited in large towns, although they may seem romantic and glamorous in a sense, such as Canterbury and York. They are large towns by Scottish standards. All our large towns are already the sites of universities. We have no town comparable in size to any of the new university sites in England. That may be a factor about which we shall have to make special arrangements. The University Grants Committee should take this factor into consideration.

    Then there is the question of finance. The University Grants Committee has named the raising of local finance as one of the main factors it will take into consideration in deciding on the whereabouts of a university. Scotland still has twice the unemployment England has. It has never got going properly in the post-war boom. I doubt whether, even with the best will in the world, it would be possible to raise in Scotland the finance which could be raised in England. Most of the large firms operating in Scotland have headquarters south of the Border. They would perhaps be inclined to give donations south of the Border rather than in Scotland. Apart from pointing out the size of our non-university towns and the difficulty which may be experienced in raising local finance, I shall not further argue the question of site.

    The title which my hon. Friend the Member for Govan has given to this debate is rather wider than universities. I want to ask generally about the future of the higher non-university institutions in Scotland. The Minister of Education made a most heartening statement the other day about the future of colleges of advanced technology. We have no such animal in Scotland, although we have the same kind of thing under another name. I imagine that in future these institutions in England will probably be self-governing, like the universities, possibly having their own charter ultimately and giving degrees instead of the diploma in technology. Our arrangements for central institutions, as we call them, are rather different, but they may need a little loosening up if our institutions, such as the Heriot-Watt College, are to keep pace with their opposite numbers south of the Border.

    One would like to know—this is not really a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary but for the Secretary of State —but one would like to have in mind, at any rate, the desirability of the Scottish non-university higher institutions being given the same sort of encouragement to develop themselves as the colleges of advanced technology in England and Wales.

    In Scotland, we like to look forward to a system of university and higher education which would be just as diversified as the system which appears to be growing up in England and Wales. One hopes, whatever arrangements are being made for the central institution, that they will be arrangements which will allow for the same kind of diversity, the readiness to follow new lines and the same kind of readiness to make a choice, untroubled from outside, which appears to be the future for the English system.

    3.31 p.m.

    I would certainly add to the congratulations already accorded to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) for raising this subject. I think that university expansion is a subject which we could with profit discuss a little more often in this House than we do. If I may say so without becoming out of order, it has always surprised me that it has not been raised on a Private Member's Motion during the present Parliament or the last Parliament.

    I am glad that the hon. Member for Govan should have raised this matter when we have plenty of time to discuss it. Many hon. Members have made useful points in the debate, and I think that those who have been privileged to sit in the Chamber this afternoon have probably been very much more comfortable than many of our colleagues who are fulfilling constituency engagements.

    I should like to make two points before coming to the question of a fifth university for Scotland. A number of hon. Members have referred to what I might call the system whereby money is paid out by the Government to help the universities. The object of the arrangements, which are, of course, unique in our system of national administration, is to reconcile the traditional academic liberty to manage the universities' own affairs with the grant of money from the Exchequer towards university education.

    As I see it, the University Grants Committee has always been much more than an advisory committee. It is a body which is in constant touch with the Government and the universities, and one upon which the Government depend to distribute the funds available in the wisest possible way, bearing in mind both the national need and the need for impartiality among the many interests concerned.

    I quite agree with hon. Members that during the forty years in which the system has existed the growth in Government assistance to the universities has imposed tasks on the University Grants Committee which were never contemplated when it was founded—I think in the time when Mr. H. A. L. Fisher was President of the Board of Education. I believe that, broadly, the arrangements remain the best that have so far been devised for reconciling academic freedom with Exchequer support and the national need. I am not taking refuge in this, but, obviously, it is one of the major points on which the Robbins Committee may well have something to say which we shall await with interest. May I remind the House that the Robbins Committee is expected to report in about two years from now.

    I should like to make plain that I do not think that it would be realistic to suppose that the relations between the Government and the University Grants Committee about the allocation of money for university building and expansion could be exactly on all fours with the relations between the Ministry of Education and local education authorities. Whereas it is absolutely reasonable that hon. Members should initiate Adjournment debates about why one school should be in the building programme and another should not, I do not think that we could reconcile our system with Ministers giving quite such details to the House in relation to the work of the University Grants Committee.

    Having said that, may I also say that I agree with the hon. Member for Govan to the extent that I think it extremely important for Treasury Ministers to keep in touch regularly with the Committee. I try to do so. I see Sir Keith Murray, the chairman, regularly and I have met the Committee. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, despite his many other duties, tries to keep in touch as well.

    It is absolutely right that major strategic decisions should be regularly discussed in this House, as we are doing this afternoon. I cannot go further than to say that, but I am sure that we should always bear in mind that the University Grants Committee today has to perform a task that is very much more exacting than was supposed when it was set up forty years ago and it is only right that hon. Members should want to discuss this matter at regular intervals.

    The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton)—and he and I indulged in some rather sharp clashes on legislation earlier this year—made a very moderate and reasonable speech. On the hon. Gentleman's question about unfit schools—and I speak as someone who, for some years, was at the Ministry of Education—it was inevitable, after the war, that we should give the first priority to seeing that all children of school age could get a place in school. It is also correct that in recent years we have given high priority to making the 1944 Education Act a reality so that, for example, children in country districts could have a real secondary education.

    I do not think that anyone has ever denied—either Ministers of Education or Secretaries of State for Scotland—that when we have performed those two functions, there remains the task of the gradual replacement of old and unfit schools, which is extremely important, and it means that within the total limit of what we could afford in the investment programme, school building will go on being an important part of that programme for as long as we could easily see.

    Turning to the question of university expansion in Scotland, I must begin by saying a brief word about the history of university expansion generally. It was as fair back as 1957 that the University Grants Committee advised the then Chancellor of the Exchequer that places in universities in Great Britain should be made available for 124,000 students by the mid-1960s with the probability that this number would soon have to be increased to 135,000. Subsequent statistics soon showed that the assumptions on which the Committee gave that advice of student numbers were changing and, in 1959, the University Grants Committee decided to re-examine the position, with the help of the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Education Department.

    The Committee reported to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Amory, on the basis of that re-examination, that the revised estimates of potential student population in the early 1970s were considerably higher than previously estimated. It was on the basis of that recommendation, and after discussions between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the University Grants Committee, that my right hon. and learned Friend announced on 25th January this year that he had authorised an increase in the university building programme for 1962–63 from £15 million each year to £25 million each year, and that the universities would be authorised to prepare building plans for 1964 and 1965 on the basis of starts of £30 million in each year.

    It is well known to the House that where the public investment programme is concerned we always try to give reasonable assurances for a year ahead. We publish now a White Paper in the autumn giving a forecast of public investment far the coming financial year. But it is very much going beyond our normal practice to give, as it were, guarantees of building programmes for so long ahead as that. It was a fair indication of the importance which my right hon. and learned Friend attached to this question of university expansion.

    This programme, obviously, will be of material help to universities in their immediate practical task of accommodating the increased number of students who would be Doming forward in the second half of the 1960s, and the programmes would be compatible with further development after 1965 to expand the university population, should it be so decided, to about 170,000 by the early 1970s. That may be the point which the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) has in mind.

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer has never committed himself to a definite figure as yet for the early 1970s. He has authorised building programmes which leave the question open, that is to say, on the basis of building programmes already authorised it will be possible to expand the university population to about 170,000 by the early 1970s, should that decision be taken.

    I should like to know how firm the target figure really is in the mind of the Government. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that there are many people concerned with higher education who consider that the estimate of 170,000 by the early 1970s is far too low. If one takes into account the trend of the numbers of people who stay on at school, many people would not consider that 200,000 would be an exaggerated figure.

    My right hon. Friend is well aware of the views which have been expressed in many quarters on that subject. I was merely seeking to point out that the building programmes which have already been authorised to some extent leave open the question of the numbers for which we shall plan in the 1970s.

    I should like to be quite clear about these figures, in case I have misinterpreted them. There is a feeling that the 170,000 or 175,000 refers particularly to expansion in England. That was the reason that I put the point to the hon. Gentleman. Is that not a substantial argument for providing some elasticity?

    The figures that I quoted relate definitely to Great Britain and not just to England.

    I wanted to give the House that background particularly as we have not debated the subject for so long.

    I now want to come to the question of Scotland. It is estimated that the total Scottish demand for university places will rise to about 25,000 by the early 1970s, and this would involve an additional need for about 8,000 places. The four Scottish universities and the Royal College have offered, without any pressure from the University Grants Committee, to expand their student numbers by a further 10,000 places by the early 1970s, which would involve a total university population of over 27,000.

    The rate of achievement of this target will, naturally, depend upon quite a number of factors—the size of the building programmes that we can authorise after 1965, the provision of adequate recurrent grants of course, and, not least, a thing which has not been mentioned but which is very important, the recruitment of adequate staff. One of the great necessities for university expansion, as for teacher training college expansion, is the provision of adequate staff for those institutions.

    This target has been taken into account in fixing the building programmes for 1962–65 and that would be consistent with an expansion of the total university population of Great Britain to 170,000 by the early 1970s. So there is a margin of safety in the provision of new university places in Scotland—that is to say, 10,000 as against an estimated additional demand for places of 8,000.

    In this respect, Scotland, so far from being treated badly, has got very much its full share of the total numbers in the programme that is being planned. So far as can be foreseen at present, I do not think that there is any need for a new Scottish university in connection with the proposals for expansion up to the early 1970s—that is to say, from the point of view of the Scottish total university population.

    I quite agree that here are a number of arguments besides the question of the total Scottish university population that can be advanced in favour of a fifth Scottish university, and I want now to deal with these. I entirely recognise, and do not dispuute at all, that there is a limit to the desirable size of a university. That simply is not in question between us. But in general, the University Grants Committee view is that there is room for institutions of varying size up to a total student population of between 7,000 and 8,000.

    The comparative figures are interesting. Taking the student targets for the 1970s, the targets for the five Scottish institutions we are considering now are as follows: Aberdeen, 4,500; Edinburgh, 7,700; Glasgow, 6,500; the Royal College in Glasgow, 3,600; St. Andrews, 4,700. If we compare those figures with the figures of some of the biggest English universities, the result is interesting. Cambridge is planned by the 1970s to rise to 10,000; Birmingham to 7,500; Leeds to 7,200; Liverpool to 7,000; Manchester to 7,500; Oxford to 9,000.

    Thus, with the solitary exception of Edinburgh, all the English universities I have mentioned will be bigger than the Scottish universities.

    I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that Cambridge is rather a different matter. Oxford, Cambridge and London—two collegiate universities and one federal university—are not really in the same boat as regards total numbers. One would not object to 10,000 in a collegiate or federal university as one would in a unitary university. Even on what the hon. Gentleman says, Edinburgh will be the biggest unitary university in the country.

    Yes, Edinburgh will be very slightly bigger than Manchester or Birmingham. This is, of course, a point we must watch, but, if one looks at the figures of what is actually planned at the moment, one can say that the expansions plans in Scotland are not out of line with the sort of standards which the University Grants Committee thought reasonable.

    I am sorry to interrupt again, but I think that we have a fair amount of time. If 7,000 to 8,000 is the figure which the University Grants Committee takes as reasonable, would it not be helpful to explain why that figure is almost double the figure which the Association of University Teachers has advanced, if my recollection is right, ever since before the war? Is it really as reasonable a figure as it seems?

    I would rather not be drawn on this question too much, particularly since I have not before me the actual remarks of the Association to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but what I actually said, I think, was that the University Grants Committee's view was that there was room for institutions of varying size up to a total population of that sort of figure. I do not for a moment say that all universities ought to be at those figures. Granted that Edinburgh will be rather large, all I wanted to point out was that even Edinburgh will be, although considerably the biggest Scottish university, only in line with what is planned in England for Birmingham and Manchester, and not very much bigger than Liverpool.

    The Scottish universities spontaneously want to expand to a level which they feel is sufficient not only for Scottish demand but for some demand South of the Border as well. I assure the House that the University Grants Committee considered the expansion of numbers in Scotland as impartially as it considered the matter in regard to England and Wales. No pressure was brought on it by existing universities to decide as it did. There was no unfair degree of pressure at all. On the other hand, I think that the University Grants Committee would have been wrong if it had not given some weight to the fact that the universities wanted to expand to that level.

    Again, Scotland, by comparison with England, is rich in old foundations which have traditional drawing power, traditional good will behind them, to put it in that way. In Scotland—I hope I shall not offend anyone by putting it in this way—there are not Scottish red brick universities as there are English red brick universities. The old foundations in Scotland quite definitely exert, and rightly, a fairly strong appeal.

    A further point—it is one which is easily forgotten—is that, until the new foundations in England were announced, the only English universities South of Birmingham were the very large London University, Oxford and Cambridge which also were very big, Bristol, Reading, Southampton and Exeter. There is no doubt that in the South of England the provision of universities has not kept in touch with the weight of economic change and the greater economic growth of the South. This is a point which we will have to look at in future in Scotland, but there was a particularly strong case in England for new universities in the South.

    I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that not one of us begrudges any university which has gone to England. We are just sorry that one has not come to Scotland.

    The hon. Gentleman, in his very full speech about which I make no complaint, made his feelings in this matter absolutely plain to the House. Those were the main reasons for the decision which was taken, but there are one or two points which I should like to make in conclusion.

    I was interested to hear what the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) said about teaching methods and the intellectual climate in Scottish universities. It is not my place to comment on that. Heaven knows I know how much this country has owed in the past and still owes to the first-class work of Scottish teachers, including head teachers. The clear diction and enunciation of Scottish teachers is an extraordinarily good example in very many English schools. This is not a trivial point. They have contributed an enormous amount to English education.

    However, I hope that Scotsmen will never forget that it was their thinkers in the eighteenth century, men like David Hume, who first pointed out in no uncertain terms that one could not logically deduce what ought to be from what is. It has sometimes worried me that in Scotland today one finds a rather high degree of traditionalism which regards some beliefs, some systems of thought as beyond criticism. On the other hand, there is the kind of radicalism with which, I confess, I have rather less sympathy than with most other kinds of radicalism. While I do not believe that there is an immediate need for a new university in Scotland, I want to make it clear that this does not in any way rule out further consideration of this possibility in future. What provision may be needed in the longer term, looking beyond the early 1970s, we cannot at present assess. The scale and nature of future developments must depend on the conclusions of the Robbins Committee.

    Furthermore, in allocating capital programmes, the University Grants Committee, naturally, is bound to give priority to the requirements of student expansion. However, I wish to make it clear—this is very important—that the Committee is fully conscious that in many universities, both in Scotland and elsewhere, there is a formidable backlog of arrears and obsolescence to be made good. It has taken account of this as far as it felt it possible so to do. In the post-war period the Committee has been handicapped in its desire to assist the Scottish universities by the difficulties which the universities experience in getting additional sites for building development. But, out of the new programme announced by my right hon. and learned Friend on 25th January this year covering the years 1962–65, a total of £9·3 million has so far been allocated to the four Scottish universities and to the Royal College.

    I would sum the matter up in this way. I do not think that there is an overwhelming case at present for a fifth Scottish university. I think that it has been right to give priority for the moment to expanding the existing Scottish universities, Scotland's total share of the expansion programme which has been announced is a good share. However, I can certainly assure the House that my right hon. and learned Friend and I, so far as it falls to me, will devote a good deal of time and attention to considering the matter of university expansion to ensure that it is having its proper share of the total capital investment programme. I assure hon. Members opposite that we will see that Scotland gets its full share of whatever is allocated to university building as a whole.

    I should be extremely sorry if there were any feeling in the House or outside it that Scotland has been done down and has not been fairly treated compared with England simply because there is not to be a fifth university in Scotland. That is not the way in which the University Grants Committee or the Treasury has looked at it. We have been influenced by our desire to do the right thing by Scottish students and Scottish education.

    It being Four o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. Noble.]

    I hope that in what I have said I have explained that there are at least good statistical arguments for thinking that the decisions so far taken have been soundly based and in accordance with the principles which the Government apply to the United Kingdom as a whole.

    Before the hon. Member sits down, I should like to make two comments. First, I thank him for his explanation, which has been very enlightening and from which I deduce that there may well be a strong argument for a fifth university in the 1970s if the total figures rise. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) asked about the future of the Royal College. Will the hon. Member say a word about that? Many of us are interested in what the future holds for the Royal College.

    I would rather say nothing on that point this afternoon, but if the hon. Member puts down a Question, or writes to me about it, or specifically raises that issue on the Adjournment, I shall be glad to try to give him further information.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Adjourned accordingly at one minute past Four o'clock.