Skip to main content

Scotland (University Education)

Volume 643: debated on Friday 30 June 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

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.