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Clause 1—(Local Education Authority Awards For First Degree University Courses And Comparable Courses In United Kingdom)

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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With the first Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman), in page 1, line 14, to leave out "full-time", I think that it would be convenient also to discuss the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) in page 1, line 14, after "full-time" to insert "or part-time", in page 1, line 14, after "courses", to insert:

"including courses for persons undergoing training as teachers".
and in page 2, line 1, to leave out from "section" to "and" in line 2, and also the second Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bath, in page 2, line 2, after the second "courses", to insert:
"and to such full-time courses at teacher training colleges as may for the time being be designated by or under the regulations for the purposes of this section as being full-time teacher training courses, or comparable to full-time teacher training courses".
I think that it would be convenient to the Committee to have a vote, if required, on the second Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, namely, in page 1, line 14, after "courses", to insert:
"including courses for persons undergoing training as teachers".

I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, to leave out "full-time".

The object of the Amendment is to delete "full-time" and the object in doing so, in effect, to insert "part-time", as provided for in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), and is calculated to deal only with degree courses at universities. I am on the Court of Governors of the London School of Economics and I know how greatly regarded the part-time courses are. Many of the undergraduates taking part-time courses win first-class honours degrees and do extremely well. There are also Birkbeck College and St. Mary's College. It applies a great deal in universities, provincial ones as well as well as London ones. It is the poor man's university.

I am sure that the Committee as a whole, certainly hon. Members opposite, will welcome my advocating that the poor man's university should be treated on the same footing as, and be at least equal to, the rich man's universities in respect of Government help, which to a certain extent one can say Oxford and Cambridge arc. At any rate at Oxford and Cambridge all students are full full-time.

If we do not treat the two fields of university in the same way, undoubtedly the effect of the Bill will be to deter universities from accepting part-time students, because they will know that there is great uncertainty. Although there is absolute certainty under Clause 1 in respect of full-time students, there is a degree of uncertainty as to whether, if they give a part-time student a place, he will be allowed by his local authority to take the course. This uncertainty is likely to have a damaging effect upon admissions to universities, in the sense that universities themselves will be discouraged.

To what good purpose are we in Parliament making entrance to a university, if it is part-time, subject to the option of a local authority and subject to all these uncertainties? I have not heard any argument which could justify this in terms of what good it does to treat the part-time student differently from the full-time student.

My right hon. Friend the Minister will no doubt argue that there is only one authority because, since it is part-time education and not full-time residence, it must be within the area of the university and there would therefore be only one local authority. Last night, we did something rather important, which shows that a large number of local authorities will be involved. In the provinces, particularly in Bristol, which is on the borders of three counties and two important boroughs, quite a number of authorities can be involved, some of whom may be mean and some of whom may be generous under the optional terms.

It is obviously right that this should be made compulsory and mandatory. If it continues to be permissible, if they may do it under the permissive part of the Bill, may we ask the Minister why they should ever deny such a student a place which a university has awarded him? If they did, would there not be a tremendous outcry? Are local authorities to take what is, in effect, academic responsibility? Universities are very nervous and jealous of their academic freedom. It is surely for them to say how they should fill their places. It is not for a local authority to say to a university, "No. You cannot fill your places as you in your academic wisdom desire. You must fill them as we determine. In carving up your places we shall determine who shall go to them and who shall not go to them".

It would be greatly to the advantages of L.E.A.s financially if this responsibility were transferred from the permissive part of the Bill to the mandatory part of Clause 1. If it came to arguing as to block grant and what should be the Treasury contribution towards the university education of young people resident in an area, a borough treasurer would be arguing on very much stronger ground if he was making the expenditure by reason of a mandatory provision rather than a permissive one.

My second Amendment deals with teacher training colleges—and I should like the Committee to bear in mind that it is only in respect of full-time teacher training colleges—and full-time teacher training colleges designated by the Minister as being of the right kind. We know that there is a great demand for teachers throughout the country and a great shortage of places at these colleges. Here again, the same question of academic principles arises. Are we saying that the teacher training colleges are not the right people to determine who shall fill these extremely scarce places? Are local education authorities to take over the academic responsibility of determining who is to go to a teacher training college?

Surely I am right in pleading with the Committee that we should leave academic freedom where academic free-ought to reside, namely, amongst those who have the responsibility for turning out good teachers in as big a quantity as possible.

Some of the teacher training colleges are under the local education authorities and some are voluntary colleges. May I take, first, the local education authority colleges. Ultimately, they have the academic responsibility in any case, but are they, all over the country, to sit in judgment on the academic policy of a particular local authority in which a training college happens to be located? It seems to me nonsense that that should occur. I have teacher training colleges in Bath. Is it to have its academic freedom taken away from it, and are all the other local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to say to it, "This is how you should fill your teacher training places. You must fill them not as you wish, but as we tell you "?

That would be quite an unacceptable view, and it would be at least as unacceptable for the voluntary colleges. I am Chairman of the British and Foreign School Society. We have three of the leading training colleges of Britain. Consider the case of the Borough Road Training College. Is the academic freedom of that college to be undermined in this way? Or is it right that we should authorise all local authorities to say that, if they have one of these extremely rare and nationally valuable places, automatically they must not use it in the way they desire? Why, too, should the poor hopeful student be kept waiting and uncertain whether he is to go there, and why should the teacher training colleges, voluntary or local authority, be in this uncertainty whether someone they have selected will ever reach them?

Finally, there is the question of administration. I suppose that nearly 10,000 entrants are handled a year. Teacher training colleges recruit from all over England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Are 10,000 pieces of paper to be rattling around the countryside for consideration and reconsideration whether the person concerned should be admitted to a teacher training college when that college has given him a place, or is this to be a formality which will not in fact take place? If it is said that the teacher training colleges will take the decision in any event, what is the value of all this paper rattling around the countryside?

If it is not to be a formality and if all these applications will be investigated, then it will be not only violating academic freedom but also treating an administrative burden in every local authority which ought never to be borne either by the local authority or the teacher training college. If it is to be no more than a formality, then the local authority should never have to consider at all whether such a Mr. Snooks should go to a certain teacher training college.

The position seems crystal clear. The part-time university degree course and the teacher training college course should be in the mandatory part of Clause 1 and should be taken out of the permissive part of the Bill.

4.45 p.m.

We are grateful to Mr. Speaker for having selected the group of Amendments which you mentioned at the beginning of the debate, Sir William, for recommittal. We are grateful to you for having suggested that on the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) we should discuss the other four Amendments on the Notice Paper about which I will say a word later, and we are grateful to you for your suggestion, which we accept, that if we are not given satisfactory replies by the Minister we might exercise the right of having some of these Amendments put formally and dividing the Committee on them.

The rare but valuable interventions from hon. Members on the other side of the Committee showed how they could have helped us to make this a much better Bill if they had not been tongue-tied by authority. The hon. Member for Bath has moved what we regard as an excellent Amendment in his usual cogent and persuasive fashion, and we support it.

The group of Amendments to which I am speaking represents the last stage of a long battle which we have fought, so far unsuccessfully, to move certain awards out of Clause 2 into Clause 1. Educationally, our case is unanswerable. There is only one education, not two. In the Standing Committee the hon. Member for Bath said, with complete justification I thought, that the status of the kinds of further education provided under Clause 2 is involved. He pointed out, rightly, that some part-time students at, say, Birkbeck or the London School of Economics are of sufficient calibre to match that of any full-time student in the world, and that quite a number of them got first-class honours degrees and master degrees and doctorates. The hon. Member pointed out that Homerton College, a teacher training college at Cambridge, has as high an educational standard of attainment for entry as many university colleges in the country. He has added some other examples this afternoon.

I was not happy about the hon. Member's reference to the poor man's university as distinct from Oxford and Cambridge. He knows that, originally, all universities were poor men's universities. They changed from that during the centuries, but even Oxford and Cambridge today are nearer a poor man's university than they were at the end of the war. We resent any distinction between the kind of students who go to university if it is drawn on the amount of money which the student, his father or his mother has.

The hon. Member for Bath said that status is involved. I think that it is. If we place teacher training colleges in a separate category from the university and say that it is a category for which the State refuses to accept full financial responsibility, then we derogate from its status. I think that this would be particularly unfortunate just now. Training colleges are embarking on three-year courses. This is a year which I believe subsequent generations will regard as the year in which a revolution took place in the training which we provide for the ordinary teachers of this country.

Training colleges have always been the poor relations of the universities. There has always been a hang-over from the early days of State education when Governments were recruiting the artisans of teaching, eighty or ninety years ago, in order to provide elementary education for the masses—just enough education so that they would know their duty to their betters. But training colleges are different today. They have developed steadily during the past fifty years and dramatically since the war.

Every hon. Member knows, as the Minister of Education knows, how magnificently they are responding to the Minister's appeal to squeeze in the greatest possible number of students they can to help in the crisis in teacher training and to meet the crisis in teacher supply. They have eagerly accepted their new responsibilities in the three-year course, and anyone who visits a good modern training college—as many of us do—finds it an inspiration to be there, quite as inspiring as any university in the country.

In a very wise passage of an otherwise lamentable speech on London government yesterday, the Minister of Education said:
"parents are already beginning to realise how much boys and girls are handicapped whose general education is too slight to fit them to adapt themselves to technical change. One can see already that the demand for better general education is bound to grow very much."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 237.]
The Minister yesterday looked, with Crowther, decades ahead. He wanted children to be prepared to meet the demands of a society vastly different from the one into which they are born—a society none of us can imagine—and it is the training colleges and the teachers who are training there, and who will later go out to teach, who will shoulder this mighty task of improving general education.

Stalin was not always right, but I think that he was right when he foresaw that in the future there would be no hewers of wood and drawers of water, but that everybody would be, to some extent, a technician or a craftsman. It is wrong to distinguish between the universities which, some might say, train the aristocrats of the intellect, and those other institutions which have the equally responsible task of training those who will provide general education for about 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of our children.

It goes deeper than that. General education—education for citizenship, education for leisure, spiritual and moral education—is as important for the average and the under-average child in a social democracy like ours as is the provision we make for the élite. Both are necessary; neither can be sacrificed for the other. To draw what I must call "snob" distinctions between the two is quite unworthy of a social democracy.

That is the educational case for equating teacher training with university education, and for treating them in this Bill in the same way. To put the universities into Clause 1 and the training colleges into Clause 2 is to emphasise and to perpetuate a distinction that should be abolished. I only wish that in the post-war years the universities themselves had given a much greater lead towards the integration of further education. I sometimes think that we have as many vested interests in our educational system as in any other branch of British society, and they are the negation of everything education stands for.

I believe the financial case to be equally strong, and I should like to illustrate it from my own local education authority. The estimates of the Hampshire County Council Education Committee are up this year by £1½ million. Within that sum, further education estimates are up—in the very aspects covered by this Bill and by these Amendments—by over £110,000 in one year. The new scales which Clause 1 and parts of Clause 2 make mandatory mean an extra £28,000. There is a 17½ per cent. increase in university fees—another £10,000. University awards are increasing in number—the natural increase of which we spoke in Committee—and they account for about £60,000 more.

There are similar increases in teacher training, partly because of ministerial scales and partly because of the extension taking place in the provision of teacher training colleges. There is an increase in the financial provision we have to make to help teacher training. Our Amendments are directed to the question of how much Her Majesty's Government will pay towards meeting such increases this year and next year. Indeed, although this Bill does not deal with all the years ahead, what we decide now must govern the fate of local authorities in years far beyond the next two.

Our Amendments, like the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Bath would transfer the cost of part-time university education from the Clause in which it gets about 60 per cent. subvention from the State to that in which it would get 100 per cent. The first one, that in page 1, line 14, is similar in intention to the hon. Member's Amendment, and differs only in its wording.

The most important of our Amendments is the second one in page 1, line 14, which would lift the whole of the cost of teacher training out of Clause 2, the permissive Clause—the Clause that finances to the extent of some 60 per cent.—into Clause 1, the obligatory Clause. It seeks to get from the Minister, if not complete subvention, at any rate, 100 per cent. subvention on the factors that have emerged as a result of the Anderson Committee.

The Amendment in page 1, line 15, which would leave out the words "in Great Britain and Northern Ireland" has not been selected, so I shall not speak about it, although that would have been my desire. Our other Amendment, that in page 2, line 1, to which the hon. Member for Bath spoke, seeks, again, in different words, to transfer the cost of teacher training from the 60 per cent. Clause to the 100 per cent. Clause.

I hope that local authorities have read our Committee debates of these important questions. I am certain that when they examine the implications of Clause 2 they must have second thoughts about the line which some of them have taken throughout the negotiations with the Minister, and must realise that if things are left as they are there will inevitably be additional financial burdens this year and next year.

I am quite certain that if the Minister were to accept our Amendments he would have no difficulty in persuading the local authorities on what he has laid down as a cardinal principle in Clause 1—a cardinal principle that local authorities resisted because they wanted still to keep control to some extent over university education. The local authorities have now conceded that. In return, under Clause 1, they have accepted from the Government greater financial support for university grants than they have ever had before.

We believe that exactly the same arguments obtain and apply to the other kinds of further education mentioned in Clause 2. In particular, we beg of the Minister, who has so far given us nothing at all in Committee, to concede, at any rate, what we ask for here. To do that would lift the cost of teacher training out of Clause 2, it would make the status of the training colleges as we feel it should be and equate it with that of the universities.

We shall support the Amendment so persuasively moved by the hon. Member for Bath, and I hope that my colleagues will be able to persuade the Minister to support some of the other Amendments that we are considering with it.

5.0 p.m.

In general and in spirit, I support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman), and I am prepared to support it in the Division Lobby. I also support, in principle, the remarks of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King). The hon. Gentleman referred to what he called the rare and valuable interventions made by hon. Members on this side of the Committee. I cannot speak for my hon. Friends, but my own contributions in Standing Committee were more than single or even double. They were fairly frequent and I spoke on matters of which I had knowledge. On subjects of which I had no experience I refrained from either supporting or attacking the speeches that were made and, therefore, the criticism of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Itchen cannot be applied to me.

I have said that I support the Amendments in spirit and principle. I have also remarked that I am prepared to support them in the Lobby. Indeed, I consider that they are essential if we are to improve two things: the status of the training colleges and, more particularly, the professional and national status of teachers. Unless we do the first, we cannot necessarily achieve the second. Thus, the Amendments are essential because they would tremendously improve the status of teachers.

Both in Standing Committee and, previously, in the House, I have pleaded with the Minister in years gone by to look at this whole matter in a practical fashion and to try to influence authorities to affiliate training colleges with universities. This is a small, tight island in which no training college is very far removed from a suitable university, so distance does not present any obstacle. It is obvious that if a training college was affiliated with a university it could take part in full-time degree courses and this would improve the status of the college.

As I say, there is no physical or geographical obstacle to prevent this affiliation. Such a move would prevent the position whereby training colleges are, as has been pointed out, considered to be in a separate category—some say an inferior one—from universities.

Although we now have a three-year course in training colleges and although someone attending university for three years may get a good degree, a person who successfully completes the three-year course in a training college receives only the "ordinary parchment"—as we used to call it—or his teacher's qualification, but he does not receive a degree. I said in Standing Committee that this three-year training course and the desire for a closer affiliation with universities should result in every teacher successfully completing his training college course receiving a university degree. This would put us on a par with Scotland and we would have an all-graduate teaching profession.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his praise of Scotland, but the all-graduate standard in Scotland refers only to male teachers. We would certainly like to have the standard described by the hon. Gentleman, but, unfortunately, even as it is we have far too many uncertificated teachers at present.

I had male teachers in mind, although I did not specify that. Nevertheless, it adds to the argument for the acceptance of the Amendments and why it is worth supporting them in the Lobby.

For these reasons, I urge my right hon. Friend to look very carefully at the principle of the Amendments, and to give an assurance that he will not just reject them, but consider the matter again before the Report stage. If he is prepared to do that I am sure that we shall be reasonably happy. If not, I will have to think carefully about which Lobby I shall go into.

It was not my privilege to be a member of the Standing Committee, but I have made it my business to read with care everything that was said there and I realise that it was a Committee of which it was a privilege to belong. I have also listened carefully to the speeches made today by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King).

The Principality of Wales has a special interest in the Amendment, for there is no part of the United Kingdom which supplies a greater proportion of teachers than the Principality. The English would be a lot of barbarians were it not that the Welsh have provided so many school teachers in years gone past. [Laughter.] Perhaps I should not have made that remark, but many a true word is spoken in jest. Flippancy apart, if the Minister will respond to the proposal contained in the Amendment he will be removing an unfair burden that is being placed on Wales, in particular, and in those areas from which a greater proportion of people enter the teaching profession.

The top priority for us today is not only the provision of graduates, but the production of them in the right numbers so that we get the right quality of teachers. The Ministry of Education is constantly telling us that we must turn out brighter youngsters, but if the training colleges are to have a different status from the universities we will get only the second best. The teaching profession cannot afford the second best and the country cannot afford to let loose the second best on its young people. Therefore, we have a special reason for asking the Minister not lightly to turn down this proposal. He should bear in mind that there surely must be agreement among all hon. Members on the subject of part-time courses.

We all support the colleges to which reference has been made. Hon. Members often visit them and always realise the high standard of the work being done. It is indefensible to tell local authorities that they must obtain their grants for these under Clause 2, on an altogether different basis. We have already been reminded that the teachers colleges are now giving three-year courses and I believe that that removes the last obstacle which the Ministry found in arguing with the Treasury. Surely now they have a stronger position than ever before to argue that teachers in training should be treated just as those who are going to enter industry are treated when they are taking their degrees.

The danger of accepting this progressive Bill in that the gaps in the education system may be widened. Professor Brinley Thomas, in the last paragraph of the Anderson Report, draws attention to this in relation to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the public schools and the working-class children in grammar schools. This is a danger which arises in relation to teacher training.

Now that the length of courses in training colleges is three years, there is no possible justification for treating these colleges differently from universities. This is the substantial point in favour of equating them with Clause 1, and it would reassure working-class students that they are considered to be on the same basis as other students and that there are not two sets of students in the education system. It would also go a long way towards improving relations generally—since the majority of teachers are of working-class background—if we can equate training college students with university students. There is at the moment a great danger that that gap, for example, between the successful and the unsuccessful university students will be widened.

In the course of the next few years, the crisis in university places will become worse, and one can well imagine the difficulties of the student who is probably good enough to go to university but does not do so. It will follow, therefore, that, since many of these will become teachers, everything should be done to put the teacher training school student and the university student on the same footing.

Part of this Amendment suggests that there should be equality of treatment in Clause 1 in respect of part-time courses and part-time students. This, again, is in the interests of the nation and of the students, because just as it is now being made much easier for the university student to go where he wants to go, it will be made more difficult for the unorthodox candidate and the unorthodox course to be accepted by the local education authorities.

I know the night hon. Gentleman will reply that this is not so. He will say that the Bill makes no difference art all. But what will the practical effect be? The effect will be that under the general grant, under the financial arrangements which operate, local authorities are bound to look more closely at the unorthodox and the exceptional. Therefore, it is highly desirable that we should accept this Amendment and that these things should be put on the same footing.

There is a great need, from the national point of view, to encourage every kind of student who will come forward to undertake any kind of course, so long as there is sufficient academic merit, of course. I am very conscious of the need to encourage mature students to come forward in the training college and in the residential college, and so to go on to social training and professional training as teachers in university courses.

It is all very well for the Parliamentary Secretary to say, as he said several times in the Standing Committee, that these things are not affected. I have recently been looking at several of the budgets of local authorities. I noticed that two of them made surprising comments on the budgets, saying that such and such a sum put forward for the salaries of teachers was not likely to be needed because the teachers would not be available. They treat this as a kind of estimating procedure, suggesting that money can be saved because the teachers will not be available.

By equating the teacher training college students with university students, this kind of attitude will be overcome; and it will mean, as the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) has said, that teacher training candidates can regard themselves as of the same status.

One of my friends has been investigating the situation of what one might call housebound mothers, young mothers with children, who cannot attend courses and who might wish to come forward at 38 or 40 years of age, as the Minister is encouraging them to do, in order to train and become teachers. In these limited researches which my friend has carried out a remarkably large number of women are found to want to take courses—correspondence courses, part-time tuition courses and so on—which would come under Clause 3 of the Bill, but who, having reached the stage when they are ready to take teacher training, would find they would be cut out in some numbers at the margin.

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. It is possible for these people to come forward, but when the local treasuries are looking at their budgets and cutting out the margins these are the people who will be in the greatest difficulty. This is the reason for putting forward this proposal so strongly.

The Anderson Committee recognises that there are unorthodox candidates and courses and makes a very strong recommendation that art students, music students and so on should be allowed to go forward for training. Since we are making a Measure which is going to last a fairly long time, I cannot see why this kind of student should not be categorised in Clause 1 and so avoid the possibility of local authorities cutting expenditure in this direction.

5.15 p.m.

Time and time again in Standing Committee the Parliamentary Secretary said that things were about right. He has never produced arguments to prove that the situation is about right. He has merely made the categorical assertion. If he thinks that the local government financial situation is about right, he ought to consider those councillors in Brighton who are beginning to get worried about the cost of education. I read in my local newspaper the other day that some of the councillors in Brighton are holding a special meeting to discuss why, in their £3½ million budget, which is going to increase Brighton rates by 1s. 2d., the ratepayers have to meet £2,281,000 worth and the taxpayers £1,238,000 worth. In other words, it looks as though very craftily the right hon. Gentleman's boss in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government has managed to push larger sums on to the ratepayers than was ever expected.

We are making the case that by moving these awards on to the State compulsorily we shall ease some of the tension on local authorities when they discuss these matters. I know that at the moment the actual cash position will not be affected, but we shall be paving the way for a better, more honourable and fairer consideration of these matters in the future.

Not having been a member of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill, I must apologise for not being so familiar as some of my hon. Friends with the technical jargon which flows around this Chamber on such an occasion. Nevertheless, I rise to support the Amendment though for quite a different reason from any which have previously been advanced.

My reason is this. I have recently read the Report on Educational Advancement prepared under the auspices of the National Union of Teachers—I believe it is called the Morris Report—in which one is led to suppose that if the needs of educational development in this country are to be adequately met in the next ten years, we must anticipate a vast expansion not only in the numbers of teachers available to man the schools but also in the expense which must be undertaken by the ratepayer and the taxpayer.

The Minister has many progressive ideas, in spite of lapses on other occasions which we all deplore, but I do not think I would be stating it too highly if I were to say that he probably realises as keenly as any member of the Government that the spheres of educational advance where we are most lacking are perhaps in the technical and technological stages of education.

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) about the need for a wide, liberal-based education for good citizenship. The human side of education is dear to all of us, if we try to understand it from a philosophic point of view. Nevertheless, we know that the needs of the country require us constantly to advocate and support as much technological advance as is within our resources if we are to maintain our position in the world.

Therefore, in this new vista that is appearing before us, in the plans to be laid for the next decade or two we must place an increasing emphasis on the technical colleges and institutions which provide those people who are qualified to perform those necessary services in the new society of the future. At the same time, we must consider the impact of this attitude on the present system, and we must recognise that a 60 per cent. grant will have a tremendous effect on the liabilities falling upon local rates. This may, perhaps, be a rather sordid and materialistic way of looking at the matter, but if I am correctly advised by the educationists who give great thought to these questions and who say that we shall in the next ten years need to undertake an expansion of the order of 100,000 in numbers of teachers available, from 300,000 to 400,000, and perhaps double the budget required from £500 million to about £1,000 million for education alone, we must not constantly ignore the distinction which there now is between the central Treasury liability and the liability placed on local authorities.

I am advised by those who know that we must put an increasing emphasis on the development of the technical colleges and institutions of further education. In my own constituency we have a very fine college, the Horwich Technical College, which is a joy to behold and a source of great pride to us, but we cannot properly expand that institution and do all that ought to be done if there is to be a minimum of 40 per cent. of the cost put on the local rates. I earnestly beg the Minister to use what negotiating ability he has, and the charm he has on the proper occasion, with the Treasury to see to it that, as we make the progress which we all wish to see, it is always borne in mind that we cannot develop the technical colleges properly unless an increasing burden is put on the State as opposed to the local authorities. I warmly support the Amendment.

I hope that the Minister is better convinced now than hitherto that this necessary Amendment should be accepted and that the principle underlying the arguments advanced from both sides of the Committee is thoroughly sound.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) spoke about teachers being "second best". I regret to say that, in the past, the ordinary teacher has been looked upon as a second-best in education. In the old days, teaching was the only professional job open to many people from working-class homes, and it was often at great sacrifice that they became teachers. Now, when there is a three-year course for teachers, anyone who has the opportunity of going to university naturally wishes to go there in order to obtain graduate qualifications, and it is therefore more than ever necessary, to adopt the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), that we should equate the teacher training college with the university in status.

Everyone knows that the need for teachers is becoming more and more obvious and urgent. The National Union of Teachers in its booklet "Investment for National Survival" makes the point that not only during the next ten years shall we need an average rate of recruitment of teachers of from 30,000 to 35,000 a year but it is essential that we should attract to the teaching profession
"able and ambitious men and women who must be made to feel that in taking up teaching they are embarking on a career of the highest public worth"
This is absolutely vital if we are to make our teachers feel that their profession is an important factor in education and ensure that we get the right people to lay the right foundations for our children in our schools at whatever stage of education they may be.

The N.U.T. goes on to say:
"Never before has so much of our future as a nation depended on its schools"
In passing this Bill, the main principles of which we welcome and support, we should take the opportunity to accept the Amendment now before us so that we give to the teaching profession the status it ought to have.

It is no good wanting to make it easier to enter university unless we lay the right foundations at the bottom. We must start in our nursery schools, primary schools, secondary modern schools and grammar schools. We must make the right kind of provision in all those schools in order to create the atmosphere in which everyone, parents and children, will want to get the best possible advantage from the education which is provided in order to develop to the highest possible level the abilities which the children have.

Therefore, while it is essential to have the teachers we need in our technical colleges, it is vital also to have the right kind of people with the right kind of approach in our primary schools, secondary modern schools and grammar schools. If we do not make the change which the Amendment is designed to make at this stage and give to the teaching profession the status it ought to have, we shall fail not only the present generation but the coming generation, too, because we shall not have made the right provision for our schools in the future.

Much has been said about the rates. My own local authority is going through a period of heart searching, heart burning and argument at this time. From my local government experience, I know that, whenever there is an attack to be made on local authority expenditure, at some time, somewhere, in the local newspapers or on public platforms, there comes the argument that we are spending too much on education. When the budget is being discussed in the council meetings, someone will say that too much of the increase is going for education, without considering the value which will be gained from it or the amount of change which at this time has to be made in the rate for education because of the increased cost of everything needed, not just for teachers' salaries but for materials used in our schools, for buildings and everything else.

When they consider how money can be saved or whether there ought to be any cheese-paring, local authorities will, I regret to say, while making adequate grants, as they must, for university courses, take up the argument about how little or how much can be saved on teacher training. We must, therefore, put the responsibility more on the State. I ask the Minister not to be directed mainly by the Treasury in this matter. His Ministry demands that he should look at it purely from an education point of view and accept the Amendment in the light of the needs which he knows have to be met and in the best interests of education as a whole.

We have had a very useful and important discussion on the two main points raised by the Amendment introduced by the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman). We are here considering two groups of people, very different in numbers, the part-time students and the teacher training college students. Although the part-time students are relatively few in number, they form an important group in themselves, as the hon. Member for Bath rightly reminded us. In London—they are to be found more particularly in the London area, I think—we have Queen Mary College, Birkbeck College and other establishments where persons who for one reason or another are not able to take a full-time academic course nevertheless can do admirable and devoted work by giving up their leisure time for the purpose.

5.30 p.m.

We also have another group of part-time students who are engaged in professional training but who are studying for qualifications of a degree equivalent standard. It is quite true that the Anderson Committee in reporting on these part-time courses for professional qualifications of degree equivalent did not, in fact, support the principle of our Amendment. I think that the Committee was mistaken, because, after all, what this Clause, as amended, would do would be to make it obligatory for authorities to bestow awards on students following recognised courses. We do not say how much the awards should be. That, of course, is a matter for prescription by legislation later on. Therefore, the particular danger about which the Anderson Committee was worried, namely, that awards to part-time students might, in fact, be a subvention of wages, need not necessarily arise.

Clearly, one would have to make regulations, and one ought to be particularly concerned with persons who are taking courses which, in fact, are
"classed as full-time by the institution providing"
them. I am quoting here from paragraph 55 of the Anderson Committee's Report. In other words, we may have persons who work in a professional sense but who then have a kind of professional sandwich course which would be considered to be full-time as part of their training.

These people can be very important indeed in our national life, and although they are far less numerous than the teachers, I think that it would be a good thing to safeguard their position. Otherwise, as my hon. Friends and some hon. Members opposite have pointed out, it is precisely this type of person who will be economised upon by local authorities who are finding difficulty over expenditure on education. They are the people who, if they have no rights to a grant, will be told, "Sorry, but it is not the policy of our authority to assist persons in your situation. You will have to make the best of it and get along as best you can."

It seems to me that in order to keep up the quality of our professional education in certain fields it is very important that we should place an obligation on education authorities, if people wish to follow suitable courses and if they have the proper qualifications, to make the awards. The amount of the awards and the conditions under which they are made would be dealt with under regulations.

Having dealt with that part of the Amendments in the group which we are now discussing, I turn to the very much larger question of the position of the teachers in training. Here the whole burden of the argument has been that they should have parity of esteem, as it is sometimes called in a different connection, with those who are now being trained as teachers for three years and that they should not be segregated as they have been in the past but should be regarded, although pursuing a different course of study, as students every bit as important to the community as those undertaking degree courses.

The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) suggested, in point of fact, that degree courses should be open to these people as prospective teachers. I recognise that the Minister may well say that all this is a matter for the Robbins Committee and that until that Committee has reported it is not for him to take this step. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that, after all, we do not frequently have legislation on education. We have a major Bill about once every thirty years and a minor Bill every now and again. If we do not use this opportunity of classing teachers in training as students of equal importance to education in the community as students going to the universities, then we may be delaying something which I believe is desired by the vast majority of people who have been giving evidence before the Robbins Committee.

A good deal of the evidence given before that Committee has been published, but much of it has not. I do not think that I should be betraying the confidence of the hon. Member for Bath if I said that he and I gave evidence before the Robbins Committee on these very lines, and I am sure that other hon. Members of the Committee are associated with organisations who have done the same. Therefore, the Minister would be showing that he is very much aware of the general trend of thought in educational circles if he accepted this Amendment, the effect of which would be, so to speak, to put under the one umbrella the students at universities and those at teacher training colleges. The right hon. Gentleman could do that in the form in which it is suggested in the Bill, as a sort of paving Amendment towards anything which the Robbins Committee may recommend, but without, of course, prejudging the details of any charges in further education which that Committee might propose.

I do not think that in this Committee there is any necessity to stress the need for doing everything possible to encourage the recruitment of teachers and to make the teaching profession attractive to potential students. Hon. Members of the Committee have already drawn attention to the acute need in the coming decade for more teachers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) quoted from the Report, which I hope every hon. Member of the Committee has read. If they have not, I warmly commend it to them. It is the Report of the Committee sitting under the chairmanship of Sir Charles Morris, sponsored by the National Union of Teachers, on Investment for National Survival, in which it is made abundantly clear that on present standards, and without any of the reforms which most hon. Members wish to see, we shall need some 94,000 more teachers by 1970. The Committee points out, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North has said, that the recruitment figure last year was 26,900 gross, of which 3,000 were temporary and 3,000 entrant teachers, and that that compares with a desired recruitment of some 30,000 to 35,000. In other words, we are 10,000 below the required recruitment of teachers if we are to reach the minimum acceptable standard by 1970.

If, of course, we were going to do anything that would be really progressive, such as raising the school-leaving age or bringing down the size of primary classes below the accepted number of 40, which some tell us is an absolutely essential reform, and if we are to have decent education for the ordinary children of the country, then we may need more than the 94,000 teachers based on this minimum. To illustrate how far we are from the state of affairs which we should all like to see, I would draw attention to Circular 1/62 which has just gone out from the Ministry to the education authorities on the employment and distribution of teachers. It points out that although, in some respects, there is a better distribution of teachers than we had in the very worst years in the past, some authorities are still contending with serious shortages.

If we look at the Appendix to the Circular we see, for every local authority in England and Wales, the number of pupils per full-time teacher, and if we compare that with what is suggested in the Crowther and other Reports as the desirable number of pupils per full-time teacher it will, I think, be appreciated how very far we still have to go in the matter of recruitment. I recognise, of course, that the Appendix does not take into account non-quota teachers who, in some places, may improve the situation. But even making allowance for that, it is nevertheless extremely disturbing to find one authority after another where the pupil-teacher ratio is well up into the one-in-24, 25 or 26 mark, although the recommended ratio and the one used as the basis for the calculations in the Morris Report is one-in-27 in primary classes, which some of us think is quite inadequate, and one-in-17 in secondary classes. If the average figures are of the order of 25, 26 or 27, including both secondary and primary classes, it shows that we have a very long way to go before we reach even proper minimum standards.

If we take another measure and consider overcrowded classes, again we can see how desperately urgent is the need for more teachers. I attempted to obtain in the Library up-to-date statistics for some of our counties in Wales, and I was told that the statistical report of the Ministry has been considerably delayed. The latest figures which I could obtain were for January, 1959. I have a Question about this tomorrow. I do not want to anticipate that, but it is monstrous that we should not be able to obtain in the Library a breakdown of these figures which is more recent than January, 1959.

From the figures which are available, I find to my dismay that in the County of Flint, part of which I have the honour to represent, no fewer than 75 per cent. of our secondary classes are overcrowded. Although that may cover some borderline cases, I think that we would all agree that any figure of that kind must cause considerable despondency when we think about the quality of education of our children.

Surely the arguments which we have adduced are sufficient to convince the Minister that he would be in the vanguard of progressive educational opinion if he recognised that he has the opportunity this afternoon to take a great step forward by saying, "I accept the principle of the Amendment. Those attending the teacher-training colleges are, in effect, every bit as important educationally as university students. I recognise this by accepting the Amendment, which will put them on the same footing in the Bill".

I very much welcome the interest in further education of all those who have spoken. They are absolutely right in thinking that this is a part of our education system where the demand is growing and that the real and pressing problem is how to increase the provision which is made for it. It is not a question of being unable to fill places either in universities or in any other institutions of full-time further education for want of money on the part of the students. What worries me, and I think the Committee, is that, although we are increasing the provision at an unprecedented rate, it does not match up to what we should all like it to be. If we had more money, this is how we should spend it.

Mr. Speaker has invited us to discuss a number of Amendments together. They deal with very different types of student. Why, then, did Mr. Speaker group them together? The answer is that one thing which is common to all of them is that they seek to reduce the discretion of local authorities. They seek to put more into Clause 1, under which local authorities no longer have discretion in making an award but must automatically make it if the student has the necessary academic qualification.

5.45 p.m.

The history of that matter is known to all hon. Members. For some years we have been worried about the lack of uniformity, although it is getting far less, in university grants. We thought that as universities are national institutions—and the same applies to colleges of advanced technology, whose courses are at university level—then it would be right to take away from the local authorities the discretion to make an award and to make the matter mandatory.

Clearly it is not possible to make all students' awards mandatory. We therefore had to draw the line somewhere between that proportion of awards which in future would be mandatory and that proportion where discretion would be left with local authorities. Of course, this was the subject of discussion, and we came to an agreement with local authorities. To listen to some hon. Members who have spoken today, one would think that the local authorities were seeking to have certain types of student moved from Clauses 2 or 3 into Clause 1. That is not so.

In drawing that line, I think that the principle of leaving the matter of full-time university students, or the equivalent of full-time university students, in Clause 1, and leaving the matter of part-time students—there are very many kinds of part-time student—and the teacher-training student in the discretion of local authorities was a sensible division. I do not know what other hon. Members think, but I feel very strongly that we want local authorities still to take a large part in further and higher education.

We were told yesterday by the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) that the Government's proposals would lead to a diminution of local authority powers and we were told how foolish we were. If he were here today, he would have heard his hon. Friends speaking to Amendments all of which proposed a diminution of local authorities' powers.

It is possible to argue about where the line should be drawn. I should like to say a word or two about the two sets of student—the part-time student and the teacher training college student. As the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said, we have embodied the advice of the Anderson Committee about part-time students in paragraphs 55 and 56 of its Report in the Bill. The Anderson Committee said that two principles should be applied to grants for part-time students.

The first was that a part-time student should not be eligible for a maintenance grant because he is either employed by somebody or is living at home and can reasonably be expected to maintain himself. Therefore, grants to part-time students are, under our present policy, which I think is right, confined to tuition expenses—books, travelling expenses and other incidentals. I have always said to local authorities that I hope they will be generous in making grants for those types of expenses. I do not think it would be wise for the Committee to say that it should be made a duty to give an award to the part-time student and that it should cover maintenance. There would be many cases in which this would be subsidising the salary or wages of the student. We should not spend money for that reason when we have so much to do in other parts of the education system.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) said, quite rightly, that there are some unorthordox students who perhaps slip through the net, and that if we made the part-time grant a duty they would not slip through the net. But the hon. Gentleman must realise that if the grant were made obligatory we should have to define the qualifications of the student entitled by law to that grant. That is easy enough with the full-time university student, because we have laid down for the first time—and I think that the whole Committee approved of this—that a student with two A-level passes would be academically qualified for an automatic grant. But what sort of qualifications should part-time students have?

The type of student to whom we are referring under this Clause is the student who would be taking a university course or a comparable course and who would have to have qualifications similar to those of full-time students, the only difference being that their studies are part-time, not full time.

I think that there would be quite a number of students who did not have the same qualifications, for instance, mature students taking courses for different reasons.

Are we not overlooking the fact that subsection (3) gives the Minister power to meet all the arguments which he is advancing? Cannot regulations prescribe anything to do with the amount? If he chooses, can he not transfer the students back to Clause 2 which says that payment is to be in the decision of the authority bestowing the award? Are we not wasting time over this?

I do not see how I could lay down in regulations what all authorities ought to do in respect of the different kinds of part-time students. The circumstances of part-time students are different from those of full-time students. I agree that it would be left to me to designate, but I do not wish to do that because I am certain that a local authority is a much better judge of the part-time student than I would be in the Ministry in London.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the technical point of why it is more difficult for the Government to devise regulations than it is for the local authority? Has not the local authority to define these things?

It will not have regulations of that sort. It may have regulations about the amount of grant, for it would probably want to have as much uniformity as possible. But each local authority would consider the circumstances of each student. The case of the student living at home and that of the student who is employed are quite different. It is right to leave the local authority with discretion. I am very anxious that local authorities should not be told from the centre exactly what to do in every case. I am not prepared to go back to the local authorities, who did not want this power, and ask them to accept it, and they are the people who will be concerned.

The financial argument that this proposal should be accepted in order somewhat to reduce—not by very much—the total expense falling on the rates is not good. If it is true that the burden on the rates is getting too big, that must be considered as a general financial proposition, but we must not do something for students which interferes with a distinction between duty and discretion merely in order to relieve the rates. If there is a problem, it must be considered as a financial problem.

There is no question of trying to perpetuate an inferiority of the teacher training college. I fully accept what hon. Members have said about the high status of these colleges—after all, we have introduced the three-year course. None of the colleges, teachers, students, or local authorities has made one representation asking us to do what we are asked to do in the Amendment. The reason is that the system works perfectly well. Admission to a teacher training college automatically gets a grant. Of course it does, because local authorities are desperately short of teachers and do not want any place in the colleges to be left empty. As soon as a student is accepted for a college, a grant follows.

The grant is different from the university grant because the student at the teacher training college gets tuition and board and lodging free. It is paid for by the college. The local authority gives a grant only in respect of clothing, travelling expenses, books and incidental expenses. But there has been no complaint from anybody that the local authorities have been mean—which is the word which I believe I heard used. I have had no complaint from students in these colleges. That is not what affects the status of teacher training colleges. If grants for teacher training colleges were made obligatory on local authorities, again we should have to define entry qualifications. As hon. Members know, the academic qualifications of students going to teacher training colleges vary very much and are not the same as university qualifications.

The right hon. Gentleman is suggesting that he would have to define qualifications for entry to training colleges. He has just said that if a training college selects a pupil, a grant is automatic. The only regulation he would have to make would be parallel with that for university students, saying that if a student is accepted by a training college, he should get his grant.

These institutions are largely maintained by the local authorities themselves, and others—and they are very good—are maintained by the voluntary bodies. The expenses are pooled among local authorities. They do not have to consider only their own students although they greatly value their connection with these colleges. It would not be right to say to all the 146 L.E.A.s—or whatever the number is—which have training colleges that we do not trust them with these grants, when nobody is complaining except hon. Members opposite. Really, local government when it is working well is worth something. We ought to trust it, and, therefore, I hope that the Amendment will be rejected.

I think we ought to make it quite clear to the right hon. Gentleman that we are not grumbling about local authorities, but that there are still very great differences between the amounts of extra grants—for clothing, maintenance, and other things—which are paid to training college students by different local authorities. The only reason why the right hon. Gentleman has not received any complaints is that students in training colleges are not so well organised as students have been in the universities.

I used to get extremely indignant in the 1945 Parliament when I was in Opposition because I thought Ministers were both stupid and obstinate in their stupidity. Now we have got a jolly good Minister of Education, but I am afraid that the choice between whether I am being stupid and obstinate or he is must be made by the Committee in the Division Lobby. I hope, Sir Robert, that you will give me the opportunity to vote on both these Amendments, because they are quite different.

First of all, I think that the Minister is on wholly wrong ground in saying that we want to take away discretion from the local authorities. Nothing could be further from my mind. Take full-time courses at Pitman's colleges. Why should they not be at the discretion of the local authority? I want discretion, but surely we want discretion exercised only in the cases where discretion may be usefully and not harmfully and waste-fully applied. Thus we are talking now of what should be the dividing line. The Minister has said in one mouthful that he wants to make out the difference between full time and part time and in the next case that he wants to make it the difference between university and non-university.

6.0 p.m.

I just cannot see anything against the idea of letting a part4ime university student attend under grant under Clause 1 rather than under Clause 2. There will be exactly the same differences between individual students in full-time education in a university and in pant-time education. There will be people whose great-grandfather left them £2 million when they were aged 3. I hope to heaven that we are not going to use this Committee for paying inordinate grants compulsorily to people in those conditions. It is very clear from the Clause that the Minister will lay down regulations, and if he accepts our Amendment and then finds it does not work he has a complete let-out under Clause 3, by which he can decide whether the payment shall be obligatory or discretionary. I shall go happily into the Lobby on this question of part-time university first degree courses.

Here we would be drawing the line at the level of educational academic height. It is perfectly clear to everybody what would be the effect, and I think that it is the right place to draw the line. What is the Treasury worrying about? The poor man's university—Birkbeck, and so on? The point is that it is so much cheaper, and there are only very few people, say 1 per cent. of the whole university first degree course men, and, as to the cost of these courses, the Minister can under Clause 3 (1) prescribe the amount of payment. If the Treasury is feeling rather mean about that, let it prescribe it downwards to the bone. There is nothing to stop that.

As for the business of teacher training colleges, the Minister said it is automatic. That means that it is a pure formality: 10,000 pieces of paper have got to go trotting round the country and education committees will sit on them and ad hoc committees will have to be set up. I sit on the Committee of Management of the University of London Institute of Education and on the council for the admission of mature students to teacher training colleges. The amount of argument and discussion which can go on over oases of that kind has to be experienced to be believed, and I can assure this Committee that if this is automatic—