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Orders Of The Day

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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Education Bill

Order for consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee), read.

Motion made, Question proposed,

That the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendment to Clause 3, page 4, line 2, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Sir David Eccles.—[ Sir D. Eccles.]

4.28 p.m.

I should be prepared to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) if he would be willing to amend it so as to read as follows:

"Line 3, at end add 'and in respect of the Amendments to Clause 1, page 1, line 14, and page 2, line 1; Clause 9, page 8, line 39, second Amendment, and page 9, lines 25 and 37, second Amendment, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Frederick Willey'"

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to amend the Amendment in those terms.

Question amended, by adding, at the end:

"and in respect of the Amendments to Clause I, page 1, line 14, and page 2, line 1; Clause 9, page 8, line 39, second Amendment, and page 9, lines 25 and 37, second Amendment, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Frederick Willey."—[Mr. Willey.]

and:

"and in respect of the Amendments to Clause 1, page 1, line 14, and page 2, line 2, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Sir James Pitman".—[Sir J. Pitman.]

and:

"and in respect of the Amendments to Clause 6, page 7, line 3; Clause 8, page 8, line 11; and Clause 10, page 9, line 43, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Miss Margaret Herbison".—[Miss Herbison.]

and, as amended, agreed to.

Bill immediately considered in Committee.

[SIR WILLIAM ANSTRUTHER-GRAY in the Chair]

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

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—

Royal Assent

6.3 p.m.

Whereupon The GENTLEMAN USHER OF THE BLACK ROD being come with a Message, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair.

Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;

The House went:and, having returned;

Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to:

  • 1. Consolidated Fund Act, 1962.
  • 2. Civil Aviation (Eurocontrol) Act, 1962.
  • 3. Local Government (Financial Provisions etc.) (Scotland) Act, 1962.
  • Education (Recommitted) Bill

    Again considered in Committee.

    [Sir WILLIAM ANSTRUTHER-GRAY in the Chair]

    Question again proposed, That "full-time" stand part of the Clause.

    6.15 p.m.

    We were discussing where we should draw the line in these items and which should go for the mandatory solution and which should go for the permissive solution. I was developing the argument that it was most desirable that that line should be drawn in university education at the first degree point. Whether it is part-time or whole-time is wholly irrelevant. The difficulties to be found in practice are that if the circumstances of the students are different or if it is found for any other reason that this does not work adequately, the Minister is able to apply under subsection (3) whatever regulations he likes.

    So far as the teaching training colleges are concerned, I accept, because one must, that the Minister has not had representations on this, but I do not accept that it is because he has really considered the matter. The A.T.C.D.E. and, perhaps, all the training colleges of this country would be up in arms and would refer to the Association of Education Committees and to Sir William Alexander this interference with their academic freedom, because it is interference unless, as the Minister says, it is a complete formality. If it is a complete formality and automatic, I cannot see why he cannot accept that because it is just as automatic acceptance of candidates by a training college as it is automatic acceptance of candidates by a university for admission to that university. On both these Amendments I feel very strongly and deeply, and I shall vote accordingly.

    I should like to support the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman). We appreciated his contribution in Standing Committee. He will agree that this is not a matter about which we need have party differences. We are trying to improve the Bill. When, not so long ago, I was fortunate enough to move an Amendment to the Minister's Motion, I was reasonably hopeful that we should have a helpful reply. I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary was probably labouring under the difficulties under which a Parliamentary Secretary labours in Standing Committee, but now that the Minister has had time to consider this matter I thought that he would agree in principle with us.

    The right hon. Gentleman has not done that. That is bad enough, but what is worse is that he has given us the worst possible reasons for not agreeing with us. He says, first, that the Bill depends on agreement. This is absolutely incorrect. We would not have had the Anderson Committee's Report on Grants to Students if there had been agreement. The Bill depends on the Anderson Report. The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong and is misleading the Committee. We have pursued our discussions so far on this assumption. The tenor of the debate has been that we are implementing the Anderson Report.

    We must appreciate that it was the Government who defined that Committee's terms of reference.

    The Anderson Committee was instructed by the Government:
    "To consider the present system of awards from public funds to students attending first degree courses at universities and comparable courses at other institutions and to make recommendations"
    It is, therefore, no fault of the Anderson Committee that it could not pursue its studies further. The Government limited the Committee's work within those terms of reference, but, as I said in another context yesterday, the House of Commons is not bound by the terms of reference of a Committee.

    As I remember saying in Standing Committee, the dissatisfaction about students' awards originally was concentrated upon those attending the training colleges. This was the major burden of complaint some time ago. We all recognise, on both sides of the Committee, that since those original complaints were made there have been considerable improvements. The Minister and his Department have considerably improved the situation by the pressure and persuasion which they have exercised and the circulars which they have issued. But we feel that what is dealt with in Clause 1 is too narrow and that, as we are providing legislation, we should go further and impose a similar duty on local authorities with respect to further education in a wider field. Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman could not attend our discussions, but I am sure that he has read what we said in Standing Committee. We approached this matter through Clause 2, and the Parliamentary Secretary will remember that we debated whether there should be a power or whether a duty should be imposed.

    I should have thought that we are trying here to strike a happy compromise. I have corrected one incorrect statement by the right hon. Gentleman and I now have to say that it is equally untrue to say that we are filching anything from the local authorities by means of these Amendment, because Clause 2 remains. We are not interfering with it, and whatever the Parliamentary Secretary said on Clause 2 would be relevant to the present argument. We leave the powers as they are and I should have thought that this was a typically happy British compromise. We are saying that we should leave the powers as they are but that we should provide additional power to the right hon. Gentleman. I emphasise, as did the hon. Member for Bath, that we go no further than that.

    These are enabling powers. The right hon. Gentleman can make such provision as he wishes when he makes the regulations. He is given wide powers to do so. It is never a convincing argument from a Minister to say that he would act stupidly in that situation. If that is the burden of the right hon. Gentleman's case, I reject it. I say that he would act responsibly in pursuance of these powers and that he would act only to assist the local authorities in the discharge of these responsibilities.

    When the Minister deals with functions and the discretion of local authorities, the primary and most important question is to see that the local authorities have functions which they can properly exercise. If functions are imposed on local authorities and if they cannot properly exercise them, it does no good at all to the health of local government. As for the universities, we have said that it must be assumed for the purpose of the Bill that the best authorities to make a choice are the universities themselves. And what is the good of talking about our fine training colleges and saying that we treat them with parity if we cannot reach a similar conclusion about them?

    There is no practical reason why the teacher training colleges should not be treated in the same way as the universities and, therefore, come within Clause 1 as we proposed.

    There are other arguments about status and other matters which are important and to which I shall come later. I was not tremendously impressed by what the hon. Member for Bath said about part-time, but I was sufficiently impressed to believe that provision should be made within the Clause. I can see that there may be cases where it might be right and proper to make this provision, and in the national interest such provision should be guided within regulations. As far as provision for part-time further education goes, it would be better to see that the Minister is armed with the powers.

    The third limb of the Amendments—the question of the extension of further education—is a matter of primary national importance. I and some of my hon. and right hon. Friends so argued in Standing Committee. I should not like to be dogmatic and doctrinaire about it, but we are faced with the difficult problem of trying to meet within a free democracy the priorities which have established themselves in the national interest. This is a wider matter than first-degree courses in universities. In some of the provisions, we are concerned that we are losing ground in comparison with other countries. This is a matter for national solution and it cannot be discharged at local authority level. This is why we should provide that the Minister is empowered to deal with the expanded range of further education.

    All this becomes far more important when we recognise that we are legislating in anticipation of the Report of the Robbins Committee. We are not saying that this or that will be recommended by the Robbins Committee. We are saying that we should see that we are in the position that if these recommendations are made, and if we recognise the urgency with which they are bound to be made, we can give the Minister power to act at once. We do not want the inevitable delay which is involved in seeking more legislative powers. These are the essential reasons why the Minister has failed the Committee in not giving a more constructive and more positive reply to our suggestions.

    There are certain other immediate practical reasons why we should take some such action as we suggest in the Amendments. There are today, as we emphasised in Standing Committee, two different circulars, Nos. 5 and 7, the one applying to university and comparable awards and the other to the training of teachers. There are certain unfair differences between the circulars to which we drew attention in Standing Committee. We should emphasise again that we do not believe in this unfair disparity, that we do not accept it and that there is no pretext for continuing the disparity because different provision is made. While different provision is made in Clauses 1 and 2 we must expect some such disparity. I think we should say that it has been the burden of the debate throughout Second Reading, the Standing Committee proceedings and this afternoon that we should not disparage the status of teachers, but while different provision is made, this is bound to happen.

    The second factor which is immediate is equally important, and that is that we have the evidence of the Anderson Committee Report, which is that there are still, in spite of the circulars, divergencies and differences between the ways in which the circulars are applied by different local authorities. There is far more uniformity, we concede, than there was a few years ago, and we recognise the work that the Department has done. Yet the Anderson Committee said, within its terms of reference, that although it knew that enormous advances had been made through circulars, the Minister must in future act by regulation.

    6.30 p.m.

    We cannot leave the teachers and other branches of further education in the category of poor relations. It is no good talking about the discretion of local authorities. If there had been a special case about them and discretion could have been exercised more easily in one field than another, we might have accepted arguments to that effect, but there is none. What we are faced with is that, unless these Amendments are accepted, teachers and those pursuing other forms of further education will be at a disadvantage, certainly in status, and, worse still, some disparity will remain. Every one of the disparities is a personal tragedy. The difficulty that we have in education is that we cannot generalise; we cannot say that we are providing for far more students having equitable treatment than before. We have to think of the individual, even if there is only one, who has not the advantage that he would have had if he had lived in another authority's area.

    Consequently, I ask the Minister to speak again. He still has time to improve the Bill. I urge him, even if he cannot take the steps at this stage of the Bill, to give an assurance that when the Measure goes to another place a real effort will be made to meet our three points. The first concerns part-time education and the national necessity that there may be to encourage further education in certain fields, even though that education be pursued part-time. The second is the necessity, in view of the overwhelming national demand, to ensure that teachers as members of a profession are not given inferior status. The third is the need for the Minister to anticipate, within the whole framework of further education, the possibilities that may be recommended by the Robbins Committee and to go further than the terms of reference of the Anderson Committee.

    The hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) is one of the most loyal supporters of the Government, and a Minister who can argue in such a way as to make the hon. Member vote against the Government has indeed achieved something. We are deeply disappointed by the Minister's speech. While the Parliamentary Secretary could not in the Committee concede anything and had to stonewall, we thought that when we had the Minister with us we might be able to persuade him. The right hon. Gentleman has addressed some serious arguments to the Committee, and I should like to look at some of them.

    The Minister has told us that a much more important problem than the one we are discussing is that of getting enough places in the universities and training colleges. We heartily agree with him. That has nothing to do with the issue that we are now discussing.

    The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that finance has very little to do with this and that if we want to solve the problems of educational finance we must tackle a much bigger question in a bigger way. It is the favourite gambit of the Government to say that if we want to do something in this field we shall have to do it for a vast area. I agree with the Minister that the House and the country will have to examine the ever increasing burden of education on rate finance, for this is something that cannot for ever be tolerated. With the reforms which have been mentioned by earlier speakers, it is estimated that there will be an increase during the next ten years of 7s. in the £ in respect of education alone. It requires much bigger measures than the Amendment to grapple with the problem, but that is no reason for not giving local authorities a modicum of financial benefit, which they would get from the Amendment.

    The Minister has told us that the training colleges have made no representation on this subject. Neither have the universities done so. Indeed, the sublime indifference of the universities to educational progress is one of the marked features of the last century, and it has not changed since the days when university Members of the House of Commons were quite indifferent to education and many of them voted against educational reforms.

    Training colleges are not interested in local government versus central Government finance, but I can assure the Minister—I am certain that he knows—that today the training colleges passionately require and demand parity with the universities. Their criticism of him was pungent when he refused to appoint representatives of the training colleges as such on the Committee which was examining higher education. They have long felt that the things that we said earlier in the debate about their inferior position in the hierarchy of education needed to be said. If they have made no representations along the lines of the Amendment, I am certain that I am speaking for all the training colleges when I plead for parity between them and the universities.

    Let us examine the myth about the discretion which is left to local authorities, an argument which comes strangely from a Minister whose Government established the block grant, a Minister who has a tight and tremendous financial control over the building programmes of local authorities and Who has within the last twelve months shown his respect for the discretion of local authorities by tearing up the Burnham Committee negotiation proposals.

    What discretion does the right hon. Gentleman want the local authorities to have about the training colleges? He knows very well that every candidate admitted to a teacher training college today is admitted through the clearing house scheme of the training colleges. The candidate applies to that magnificent co-operative institution which the training colleges have set up, and, if he is accepted by a training college, there is no question, as the Minister pointed out earlier, of any local authority having discretion to refuse him. I am sure that in this age nobody would want to give a local authority discretion to say, "Although this candidate has the academic and personal qualifications and has been accepted by a training college, we shall refuse the grant." That discretion no longer exists. The decision is actually already in the hands of the training colleges.

    As the Minister pointed out, there is very little discretion in the grant of the award. The bulk of the financial aid given to a candidate by the training college comes from the training college in the way of free lodging, free tuition and so on.

    I shall come to that in a moment. Even the supplementary aid which local authorities give students at training colleges have to be of a pattern approved by the Minister. The bulk of the training college expenditure is pooled, and the local authority pays its portion of the pool not according to any discretion or lack of discretion which is exercised by it in the recruitment of people for training colleges but according to mathematical formulae drawn up by the Minister in which no local government discretion is left.

    I was distressed when the Minister suggested that what we might be in danger of doing was depriving the local authorities of their interest in the further education of children if we moved the students out of Clause 1 into Clause 2. If his argument means anything, then the local authorities will no longer be interested in the university candidates because by this Bill we shall have removed every vestige of discretion from local authorities in respect of university candidates.

    As we have said to the Minister again and again in Committee, provided that the local boy or girl has the right qualifications and is accepted by the university, no local authority can interfere with providing that student with an award, and an award of an amount which is fixed by the Minister. I know the local authorities well enough, as, I am sure, does the Minister, to know that they will still be as keenly interested in the well-being of their university students although their financing and discretion about them has been taken from them.

    What discretion do we leave to the local authorities? If we move teachers from Clause 2 to Clause 1, there is still a large field left in Clause 1 (4). In university education, the local authorities can supplement the education of worthwhile students even if they do not have the qualifications as laid down in the rest of Clause 1. If we take teachers out of Clause 2, there is still a vast area in which local knowledge is of value and in which it might be impossible for the Minister to prescribe the utterly variegated pattern of the other forms of further education.

    We on this side of the Committee stick to our point that a fully-qualified candidate for entry to a teacher training college has a right to go there. That right is as fundamental as the right, which we have won in the House of Commons by fighting for it over the last ten years, to secure uniformity of provision for university candidates. I hope that it is still possible to persuade the Minister to change his mind.

    We got off to a bad start this afternoon. We are meeting here today to discuss this Measure exactly 300 years after the time when, according to Sir Arthur Bryant, who is a greater authority on the Stuart period than I am, in the book that has recently been re-published and is now known as Restoration England,

    "the germs of our educational caste system were being sown"
    I was sorry that so enlightened a person as the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) should have said that London University was the poor man's university and that Oxford and Cambridge were the rich man's universities.

    All I spoke about was Birkbeck and St. Mary's College and the evening part-time students at the other colleges of London University and the provinces.

    I hope that the hon. Member will look at what HANSARD says about what he said, because it provoked in me immediate hostility which I do not often feel towards the hon. Member.

    London University was not founded for the poor. It was founded for the Nonconformists because since 1662 they had been excluded from Oxford and Cambridge. The caste system that we had in 1662 was created to get a conformist society and it has worked for 300 years with that object in view. We have now reached the stage when there is no home in England that does not think that the young child is entitled to an equal chance with every other child in the country of developing his faculties to the full.

    6.45 p.m.

    The duty of the Minister is to formulate a national policy to be carried out by local education authorities under his control and direction. It is too late now to adopt the kind of line that the Minister did in his reply today. It is notorious that, even now, a great deal depends upon the area in which a child is normally resident as to what its opportunities for any real advance in higher education will be.

    The thing that recommended the Bill to us on this side was the enactment in Clause 1 that if a child, no matter where he lives and no matter in what home, can get two passes at Advanced level and can secure acceptance by any university, the local authority in whose area he resides must see him through the university course, subject to a means scale that will be laid down by the Minister and administered by the local authority in accordance with what the Minister says. I am not proposing to accept the means test. At least, that is what the right hon. Gentleman has done.

    The hon. Member for Bath, who is a fairly loyal Member, gave the Parliamentary Secretary no trouble in Committee. What the Parliamentary Secretary did was to say that he had consulted his right hon. Friend but was unable to accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Bath thereupon said that he would wait until the Report stage, when, of course, the trouble would not be for the Parliamentary Secretary. The hon. Gentleman is the best stonewaller I have ever known. I commend him to the esteem of his right hon. Friend. In Committee he got away with a lot of things that the Minister would not have got away with.

    We now come to the problem of the teacher training college, which is not subject to the rule I have just described. A good deal will depend upon the status of the teacher training college as to whether the Minister will get the right people to enter the teaching profession through the front door rather than some of the back doors which have been opened in the past, and whether the Minister will get the number of teachers that he will require to carry out even the reforms that he has announced up to the present. They are contained in Clause 2. They do not have the advantages which I have described as apper-taining to the children of people who come within the scope of Clause 1.

    We have had no explanation of why that should be, although the Minister was pressed for one. He said that there had been an agreement. What agreement was it? It was an agreement made by the Minister with the local education authorities. The Minister's agreement with the local authorities does not bind the House of Commons. This assertion has been made over and over again in the course of history. Pencil scribbles on bits of paper in which one side gives a little and the other takes a little, while they may give great satisfaction for the time being, are subject to subsequent ratification by the House of Commons. Only then can it be said that an agreement has been reached.

    I did not hear from either the Minister or from anybody else during the Committee stage that there was any reason why the recruitment and training of teachers for the vastly expanded system of education that everybody agrees we have to contemplate should be conducted other than in accordance with the rules under Clause 1, by which an intending teacher will not depend on the wish of the local education authority as to what the grant should be.

    Some counties produce a large number of teachers, and when certain other counties get a large increase in population they have to rely on the products of the counties that produce teachers to staff their schools. Between the two wars I was once accused of attempting to turn Surrey into a Welsh-speaking county. With the tremendous influx of people that we had into Surrey from the distressed areas, the only places in which we could find teachers to staff the schools were in the distressed areas, largely in South Wales. One borough told me that if I kept going a little harder it would make me a freeman of the borough for my services to its teacher-training output.

    Division No. 95.]

    AYES

    [6.55 p.m.

    Agnew, Sir PeterBalniel, LordBeamish, Col. Sir Tufton
    Aitken, W. T.Barlow, Sir JohnBell, Ronald
    Allason, JamesBarter, JohnBerkeley, Humphry
    Arbuthnot, JohnBatsford, BrianBevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald
    Atkins, HumphreyBaxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Biffen, John

    This Clause represents what I understood was a national ambition, which was certainly endorsed by both sides of the House in 1944, that a child's chances should not depend on the location of his home. Having established this principle with regard to universities, and with regard to institutions comparable to universities on the technological side, I see no reason why it should not also apply to the teacher training colleges, because the right hon. Gentleman has to get from there the inspiration that will make the schools of his whole system.

    To put them on a lower grade than the technological colleges, which for some astounding reason in this industrial nation we have excluded from the universities, seems to me to be a poor start on an increase of the system that most of us hoped we should be able to carry through with unanimity. I rejoice that I shall for once be in the same Lobby as the hon. Member for Bath. We had certain rumblings of a threat from the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) and I hope that on this occasion I shall have the pleasure of seeing him there, too.

    I am sure that the Committee is obliged to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) for his eloquent interruption. My daughter has a hamster. It has a habit of retiring into its box and chattering. We have made further persuasive appeals to the right hon. Gentleman, and all that he has done is to mutter from a sedentary position. We have had no reply, and I think we have to accept the position that the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to carry the matter further. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will support the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Bath, and, though this is not a condition, I hope that in return he may support our Amendments.

    Question put, That "full-time" stand part of the Clause:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 239, Noes 175.

    Biggs-Davison, JohnHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Perclval, Ian
    Bishop F. P.Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Peyton, John
    Black, Sir CyrilHastings, StephenPickthorn, Sir Kenneth
    Bossom, CliveHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelPilkington, Sir Richard
    Bourne-Arton, A.Hendry, ForbesPitt, Miss Edith
    Box, DonaldHicks Beach, Maj. W.Pott, Percivall
    Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
    Boyle, Sir EdwardHill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)Prior, J. M. L.
    Brewis, JohnHill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
    Brooman-White, R.Hirst, GeoffreyProfumo, Rt. Hon. John
    Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Hobson, Sir JohnPym, Francis
    Bryan, PaulHocking, Philip N.Quennell, Miss J. M.
    Buck, AntonyHolland, PhilipRamsden, James
    Bullard, DenysHollingworth, JohnRawlinson, Peter
    Bullus, Wing Commander EricHope, Rt. Hon. Lord JohnRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
    Butcher, Sir HerbertHopkins, AlanRees, Hugh
    Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hornby, R. P.Renton, David
    Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Hughes-Young, MichaelRidley, Hon. Nicholas
    Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Hulbert, Sir NormanRidsdale, Julian
    Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Hutchison, Michael ClarkRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
    Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
    Channon, H. P. G.Jackson, JohnRussell, Ronald
    Chataway, ChristopherJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Scott-Hopkins, James
    Chichester-Clark, R.Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Sharples, Richard
    Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Shaw, M.
    Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Johnson Smith, GeoffreyShepherd, William
    Clarke, Brig, Terence (Portsmth, W.)Kaberry, Sir DonaldSkeet, T. H. H.
    Cleaver, LeonardKerans, Cdr. J. S.Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
    Cole, NormanKerr, Sir HamiltonSmithers, Peter
    Collard, RichardKirk, PeterSmyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
    Cooke, RobertKitson, TimothyStanley, Hon. Richard
    Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Langford-Holt, Sir JohnSteward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
    Corfield, F. V.Leather, E. H. C.Stodart, J. A.
    Costain, A. P.Leavey, J. A.Stoddart-Scott, Cot. Sir Malcolm
    Coulson, MichaelLeburn, GilmourStorey, Sir Samuel
    Craddock, Sir BeresfordLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryStudholme, Sir Henry
    Critchley, JulianLilley, F. J. P.Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverLitchfield, Capt. JohnTapsell, Peter
    Curran, CharlesLongden, GilbertTaylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
    Currie, G. B. H.Loveys, Walter H.Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
    Dalkeith, Earl ofLucas, Sir JocelynTaylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
    Deedes, W. F.MacArthur, IanTemple, John E.
    Digby, Simon WingfieldMcLaren, MartinThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
    Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
    Doughty, CharlesMaclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)Thomas, Peter (Conway)
    Drayson, G. B.Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
    du Cann, EdwardMacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
    Duncan, Sir JamesMcMaster, Stanley R.Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
    Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir DavidMaitland, Sir JohnTouche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
    Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Turner, Colin
    Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynMarkham, Major Sir FrankTweedsmuir, Lady
    Errington, Sir EricMarples, Rt. Hon. Ernestvan Straubenzee, W, R.
    Farey-Jones, F. W.Marshall, DouglasVane, W. M. F.
    Farr, JohnMarten, NeilVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
    Finlay, GraemeMathew, Robert (Honlton)Vickers, Miss Joan
    Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMawby, RayVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
    Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
    Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
    Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Mills, StrattonWalder, David
    Gammans, LadyMontgomery, FergusWall, Patrick
    George, J. C. (Pollok)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Ward, Dame Irene
    Gibson-Watt, DavidMorgan, WilliamWebster, David
    Gilmour, Sir JohnMorrison, JohnWilliams, Dudley (Exeter)
    Glover, Sir DouglasMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesWilliams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
    Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)Nabarro, GeraldWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
    Godber, J. B.Neave, AireyWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    Goodhart, PhilipNicholls, Sir HarmarWise, A. R.
    Gower, RaymondNicholson, Sir GodfreyWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
    Grant, Rt. Hon. WilliamNugent, Rt. Hon. Sir RichardWood, Rt. Hon. Richard
    Green, AlanOakshott, Sir HendrieWoodnutt, Mark
    Gresham Cooke, R.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Woollam, John
    Gurden, HaroldOsborn, John (Hallam)Worsley, Marcus
    Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Yates, William (The Wrekin)
    Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
    Harris, Reader (Heston)Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. Peel.

    NOES

    Ainsley, WilliamBennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Bowles, Frank
    Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Benson, Sir GeorgeBoyden, James
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Blackburn, F.Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
    Awbery, StanBlyton, WilliamBrockway, A. Fenner
    Beaney, AlanBoardman, H.Brown, Thomas (Ince)
    Bence, CyrilBowen, Roderic (Cardigan)Chapman, Donald

    Cliff, MichaelJennings, J. C.Rhodes, H.
    Cronin, JohnJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
    Cullen, Mrs. AliceJones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
    Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Robertson, John (Paisley)
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
    Davies, Ifor (Gower)Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Rogers, C. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
    Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Kelley, RichardRoss, William
    Delargy, HughKenyon, CliffordRoyle, Charles (Salford, West)
    Dempsey, JamesKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
    Diamond, JohnKing, Dr. HoraceShort, Edward
    Dodds, NormanLawson, GeorgeSilverman, Jullus (Aston)
    Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
    Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Skeffington, Arthur
    Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
    Edwards, Walter (Stepney)Lipton, MarcusSlater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
    Evans, AlbertMabon, Dr. J. DicksonSmall, William
    Fernyhough, E.McCann, JohnSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
    Fletcher, EricMacColl, JamesSorensen, R. W.
    Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)McInnes, JamesSpriggs, Leslie
    Forman, J. C.Mackie, John (Enfield, East)Steele, Thomas
    Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)McLeavy, FrankStewart, Michael (Fulham)
    Galpern, Sir MyerMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Stones, William
    Gooch, E. G.Manuel, A. C.Symonds, J. B.
    Gourlay, HarryMapp, CharlesTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
    Grey, CharlesMarsh, RichardThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
    Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mason, RoyThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mayhew, ChristopherThompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
    Griffiths, W. (Exchange)Mendelson, J. J.Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
    Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.Millan, BruceThornton, Ernest
    Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Milne, EdwardThorpe, Jeremy
    Hamilton, William (West Fife)Mitchison, G. R.Timmons, John
    Hannan, WilliamMoody, A. S.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Hart, Mrs. JudithMorris, JohnWade, Donald
    Hayman, F. H.Moyle, ArthurWainwright, Edwin
    Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)Neal, HaroldWarbey, William
    Herbison, Miss MargaretNoel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)Watkins, Tudor
    Hilton, A. V.Oliver, G. H.Weitzman, David
    Holman, PercyOram, A. E.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
    Houghton, DouglasOwen, WillWhite, Mrs. Eirene
    Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)Whitlock, William
    Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Parker, JohnWilkins, W. A.
    Hoy, James H.Paton, JohnWilley, Frederick
    Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Pavitt, LaurenceWilliams, D. J. (Neath)
    Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pentland, NormanWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
    Hunter, A. E.Pitman, Sir JamesWillis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Hynd, H. (Accrington)Popplewell, ErnestWinterbottom, R. E.
    Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
    Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Probert, ArthurWoof, Robert
    Janner, Sir BarnettRandall, HarryYates, Victor (Ladywood)
    Jay, Rt. Hon. DouglasRankin, JohnZilliacus, K.
    Jeger, GeorgeReid, William
    Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)Reynolds, G. W.

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Mr. Redhead and Dr. Broughton.

    It being after Seven o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair, further Proceeding standing postponed pursuant to Order [ 1st November].

    Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER resumed the Chair.

    Green Belt Policy

    7.5 p.m.

    I beg to move,

    That this House, recognising the commendable progress that has been made in housing and slum clearance in recent years, and the shortage of suitable sites for all kinds of building in a country as small as Great Britain, urges Her Majesty's Government to hasten the process of designating Green Belts in order to prevent sporadic devolopment, and to take measures to stimulate in-filling in urban areas and the development of building sites which may not be entirely economic from the builder's point of view, in order to preserve agricultural land on the outskirts of towns and villages without slowing the pace of building.
    There is no doubt that commendable progress, both in housing and in slum clearance, has been made in recent years. This is indisputable. Over 4 million new houses and flats have been constructed since the war. The overall rate since 1945 has been 240,000 houses a year. During the last ten years the rate has been 300,000 houses a year, of which in the last five years a total of 360,000 have been slum-clearance replacement houses.

    There are those who say that we need 400,000 new houses and flats a year for some considerable period into the future. The principal argument which prompts them to say this is the need to anticipate the end of the useful life of very large numbers of houses built in the latter half of the nineteenth century which are now nearing the limit of their useful span of life. It is true that the greater use of the improvement grants which the Government have made available and which have now led to the improvement of 130,000 otherwise outdated houses may, and can, extend the useful life of some of these older houses.

    I believe that the estimate that a building rate of 400,000 houses a year is needed is too high. It is a matter of opinion and only future events will prove who is right. However, if that number is required, it is doubtful, with present methods, whether we can afford the manpower and materials which would have to be diverted from the many other calls upon our economy at present, unless there is a revolution in building processes. To some extent, a revolution of building processes is overdue, and there are signs that in other countries processes of prefabrication, and so on, have greatly improved the speed of building. But in this country by far the greatest problem is the shortage of suitable sites for all kinds of building, not only housing. Of course, when one takes that into account, there are the other land-absorbing developments such as roads, including the big new motorways, airports and even reservoirs.

    Green belts and the preservation of the countryside have recently been debated in the House. On 20th November, 1959, my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) moved a Motion concerned with industrial development and the preservation of the countryside. More recently, on 22nd November, 1961, my hon. Friend the Member for Broms-grove (Mr. Dance) had an Adjournment debate on green belts. I make no apology for raising the subject once more, for I am sure that it is a subject close to the public heart.

    There is widespread evidence of the need for building sites. Nobody can deny that. No sensible person can resist the provision of suitable sites for rehousing and other building purposes. But, of course, we have to ensure that the sites are suitable. The utmost care must be used in the selection of land. We have to avoid the best agricultural land. Very often it is exceedingly difficult to avoid taking good land. We have to avoid making—horrible words—conurbations and conglomerations. We have to avoid sporadic and urban development and indiscriminate and uncoordinated development. Above all, we have to preserve amenity. Let us remember that the beauty of our countryside is one of the most valuable parts of our national heritage.

    At the same time as avoiding all these pitfalls, sufficient must be provided for normal house building, for additional slum clearance, for industrial purposes and for public works such as roads and airports and the other works which I have mentioned. But we have to see this against the background of what has been done in the past. We find that over the last fifteen years since the end of the war rather more than 464,000 acres were taken up in England and Wales for building purposes between June, 1945, and June, 1960, a rate of 31,000 acres a year over the fifteen years. The figure for the whole of the British Isles is roughly 35,000 acres a year which are being taken for these purposes. It is officially estimated that in the course of the next few years a further half-million acres will be required for development. When one thinks of the small size and the cramped nature of these islands, one sees that we are faced with rather a staggering prospect.

    Green belts are one means of achieving some of these objects of avoiding conurbations and avoiding sporadic and unco-ordinated development—in fact, one means of preventing the uncontrolled sprawl of towns over our beautiful countryside. Unfortunately, green belt policy is widely misunderstood. There are doubts about its nature and purpose and complete ignorance about the procedure for establishing green belts. Green belts are not designed to sterilise and prevent every form of building. Some building may be desirable within the green belt areas, but they are designed to prevent intensive development.

    In 1960 the Ministry of Housing and Local Government issued its most recent circular on this subject. Paragraph 8 of the circular, No. 37/60, is relevant to this subject and it reads:
    "Special considerations apply where a green belt has been established or proposed. A green belt is a long-term restriction of development in a defined area, and it must be matched by adequate provision for balanced and compact development elsewhere"
    This is the most important pant of the paragraph:
    "This means the intensive use to its full capacity of land in the areas contained by the green belt, and the selection of adequate land for development beyond the green belt—avoiding wherever possible the use of good agricultural land"
    The difficulty of drawing a line between what might be considered permissible development within the area of a green belt is that local authorities are always troubled by the thought that one single exception may breach the whole principle. They attempt to administer these areas so that once established, except in exceptional circumstances, they are inviolate. But it should not mean necessarily that certain development should not be allowed. Paragraphs 11 and 12 of the same circular continue with some guidance to planning authorities on the methods to be employed in the more intensive use of urban land—such matters as density and the prevention of the wastage of land.

    I understand that since this circular was issued there has been no change in Government policy. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke), when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government, gave the following Answer to a Written Question on 5th July, 1960:
    "Nor do I contemplate any change. I believe that green belts, once properly established, should, except in very special circumstances, be maintained inviolate; and I believe further that they will be so maintained over the years, for this is a policy which commands wide support"
    Later he said:
    "The right principles are that a green belt should be established only where there is clear need to contain the growth of a town within limits which can be defined at the time; and the limits of the belt should be carefully drawn so as not to include land which it is unnecessary to keep permanently open for the purposes of the green belt."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1960; Vol. 626, c. 23.]
    Later, on 6th November, 1961, the present Minister of Housing and Local Government said:
    "… we intend to adhere to the green belt policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1961; Vol. 648, c. 655.]
    One purpose of this Motion is to urge the Government to streamline the procedure. Surely enough time has passed since Sir Patrick Abercrombie first defined London green belt policy in his Greater London Plan in 1944. The principles are quite right, but the processes are far too slow. So far only the Greater London green belt has been firmly and permanently defined.

    There are, in addition, twenty-four proposals for formal incorporation in development plans. The large majority of so-called green belts are only proposals based on sketch plans and have no statutory authority behind them. It is that fact that has somewhat misled the public. People speak rather vaguely about green belts in various areas on the outskirts of our cities, but those areas have not been properly defined and, therefore, have no statutory backing.

    The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act encouraged local authorities to prepare development plans specifying green belts, but it was all rather vague. Since then, Ministry circulars issued in 1955, 1957 and 1960 have made the regulations for green belts and the processes for their establishment a little more definite, but all too little has been done—perhaps from an understandable reluctance to trample on the rights of individuals. Despite that admirable sentiment, it all takes too long. This is eighteen years after Abercrombie.

    There are three stages in the procedure and, on paper, it looks simple enough. The first stage is the sketch plan, which requires preliminary approval by the Minister. Secondly, a more precise definition of boundaries is proposed as a formal amendment to the area development plan, and those more definite proposals are open to public criticism and objection. They have to be exhibited in stated places at stated times and they may, and almost certainly will, result in a public inquiry. The third stage is Ministerial approval, or otherwise. If the Minister approves, the formal amendment becomes part of the statutory development plan.

    One can take as an example the Bristol-Bath green belt. That is somewhat outside my constituency, but it is not very distant from it and has a bearing on my constituents. Three county councils are concerned there—Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. All have submitted generally-accepted sketch plans—the first stage. Only Gloucestershire has so far submitted a formal amendment to the development plan. On 8th February, 1962, the Somerset County Council published Press notices of the proposals and of places where maps can be examined so that people can see what is proposed, and object if they wish. That is only the very beginning of stage 2 in the procedure. Meanwhile, people in that area who have for some time thought that their amenities are protected by what they like to call a green belt have found to their surprise that it is not a properly defined and agreed green belt.

    I have one or two suggestions for streamlining this procedure. The great thing is to keep these green belts in the public eye, and to keep up public interest in and public knowledge of what is intended. I suggest that the Minister should publish periodical progress reports, perhaps in the form of an appendix to the housing returns that are issued quarterly as a White Paper. The progress report might have four sections. The first could state the progress made in establishing green belts since the previous report. The second could show, by regions, the area of land that had been taken for urban housing and rural rehousing.

    Thirdly, there could be an estimate, by regions, of site requirements for housing and industry for the following twelve months. The fourth section could give comparative figures of development density in urban areas, aimed at giving an incentive to the better use of land. If one had a sort of "league table", showing how various cities were making use of their land, it might be an incentive to people to get higher density and more desirable development in urban areas.

    I also suggest that the Government should consider the possibility of a marginal building site subsidy. I know that the present period of economic stress is not a good time to suggest a new subsidy, and I am always reluctant to suggest that some other activity should be subsidised. A subsidy should pass pretty severe tests before it can be justified. In this case, however, we are up against a tremendous problem, and the value of building sites is so great that some sort of incentive must be given to local authorities to encourage them to engage in in-filling in urban areas—very often of small sites where only a few houses or a small block can be put up. Sites like that are not very economic. The purpose would, in fact, be to encourage the use of uneconomic, inconvenient or physically difficult sites. It would be a subsidy to provide a house or houses on a site that would not otherwise be used. I emphasise that it would not be a rent subsidy.

    Bearing in mind those principles on the use of sites for all purposes, we could, after the best choice has been made, do a lot better in blending function with appearance. The useful need not necessarily be ugly. If we have to use—and I think that the need is acknowledged—fairly large areas of our beautiful and unspoiled countryside for industry, housing and the like, let us be sure that it is done in the best taste so as not to destroy the amenities, for the beauty of our countryside is one of our most valuable national assets.

    7.30 p.m.

    I congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Comman-der Maydon) both on the content of his speech and on having chosen this very important subject for discussion tonight, which probably represents one of our most serious problems when one considers that since the war the population of this country has increased by some 5 million.

    The very real prosperity which we see all around us is causing people at all levels of society to demand much better housing than they have ever had before. Various estimates have been given of the number of houses that will be required in the next 20 years. The figure of 6 million to 7 million houses has already been quoted. Merely to think of this and then to allow one's mind to contemplate the small amount of land available in Britain—and bearing in mind that the population will increase in the coming years even more than at present—one can see how vital it is that every piece of land on which it is possible to build without destroying the amenities of the country must be dealt with quickly.

    I was interested to read in the Motion the part dealing with infilling. It is difficult to find any two architects who will give a precise definition of the term "infilling". It varies greatly from area to area, and I should like my hon. Friend, when replying, to give some sort of definition of this term from the Ministerial point of view.

    A few years ago—and I relate this as an example—I was interested in a small piece of land in Chigwell which was adjacent to the house in which I lived. It was a quite useless piece of land of about two acres. On one side of the road were bungalows of substantial quality. On the other side of the road by the field there was a big house, and another house was situated on the second side of the field. The third side of the field was adjacent to the garden of a further house and, as a piece of agricultural or arable land, it was utterly useless and was generally recognised to be such.

    I tried to sell this piece of land for the erection of six houses, giving about one-third of an acre for each. They would have been sold for about £8,000 each, giving the local authority a rateable value of about £700 a year. This was rejected on planning grounds since the site in question was in the green belt. I disposed of the property and the land some years ago and today—seven years after this took place—these two acres still remained completely derelict and useless. Since I disposed of it other applications have been made to build houses on this sort of land, but the proposals have been rejected by the Ministry.

    There must be literally hundreds of similar pieces of land all over the country where plans are being rejected by the Ministry simply because they are in a green belt area. I invite my hon. Friend to look at the Essex plan for Chigwell and consider the map area and the line that is drawn in the borough of Chigwell along Manor Road. I invite him to do this and to tell me if he has ever seen a more fatuous attempt by any authority at demarcation. The demarcation strikes we have had in various industries of the North make sense compared with the line drawn here. It seems that local prejudice must be overcome, and I imagine that the Ministry will experience some difficulty in this direction, especially with the country districts.

    Nevertheless, I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells that a detailed survey must be made of the green belt areas, particularly the peripheries where they adjoin populated areas, to see if it is possible for some relaxation or realism to be brought into our consideration of the problem.

    7.35 p.m.

    I support my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) in his Motion and endorse many of the things he said. I feel that if the green belt depended on Motions of this kind and the arguments my hon. and gallant Friend used—and, no doubt, the reply we shall get from the Government—its future would give rise to only small anxiety. But, unhappily, even the wishes and the plainly expressed feelings of this House—which have been expressed more than once on this subject—are not themselves a guarantee that the green belt will survive.

    Other factors are involved, not all of which are clearly foreseen at present, and I do not think that good or even firm intentions will necessarily be sufficient to meet them. The preserving of the green belt requires something more than a green belt policy, for even such a policy would not, eventually, prove enough. What is needed is some recognition of the pressures which are building up all around it and the consequences which they will have unless some policies are found to reduce those pressures.

    I am thinking—and speaking in particular—about the London green belt and the situation in south-east England. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells spoke correctly about the Greater London green belt as the only one that is permanently and firmly described. I do not feel nearly as optimistic as my hon. and gallant Friend, for it is that green belt which now seems principally threatened.

    Immense changes have occurred—and are still occurring at increasing speed—in this part of the country since the green belt policy was first declared. If these changes are not recognised and acted upon, whatever we may say in the House the green belt around London is doomed sooner or later—the later the better—and nothing will save it. The most significant trend now in relation to the green belt—and many other matters—is the growth of employment in south-east England, and, in particular, around the London conurbation. This is rising at a fast speed, and the number of residents, not unnaturally, is rising with it.

    This relates not only to London inside the green belt but to a new rim of London on the other side of it where, proportionately, the most rapid development is going on. New employment in the south-east region has been rising by about 100,000 a year over the last ten years. That has brought about 1 million new jobs to the south-east area in the last decade—and that is continuing, apparently unchecked.

    I do not know—though I think it is relevant to the terms of the Motion—what the Government's attitude is about this; whether they view this trend with approval, with acquiescence or with disquiet. Do they think that this is something that is quite inevitable and cannot be stopped, or are they of the opinion that if they could do something about it they would like to? If it continues at the present pace I find it hard to believe that there will be a green belt worth its name in ten years from now.

    In ten years' time, at the present rate, we shall require a second green belt for this so-called London area which will have to be outside and beyond the new rim which is now being formed in the outer circle. When discussing this subject we are speaking about immensely powerful forces involving industry, commerce and an unseen but immensely strong social will. The prime movers are industry and commerce, and where they go others must follow. Officially, I believe—not only for preserving the green belt but for many other things as well—there is a policy to check the establishment of new industry in the south-east region. I must say that I doubt whether that policy, if it exists, is very effective. Something like one-third of the whole of the factory floor space to be built in Britain during the last ten years has come into south-east England. Therefore, if it is our policy to reduce the amount of fresh factory floor space in the south-east region, something has obviously gone wrong with the arithmetic or with the policy.

    Added to this, in central London and in the outer London area, commercial development as opposed to industrial development is proceeding rapidly. Altogether, I think, nine out of ten new jobs found in Great Britain in the last decade have been found either in the Midlands or in south-east England. That is a staggering trend, and I do not think that we can discuss the green belt intelligently without at least wondering what our policy towards this lopsided development is eventually going to be. It is as if the whole of this island had been slightly tipped up, as it were, on one corner causing a steady flow down in the south-easterly direction.

    Have we got any idea how we are going to reduce the magnetism of London and the wider magnetic field of south-east England? I stress this difficulty in relation to my hon. and gallant Member's remarks because it is not difficult to see, apart from the many problems which it will engender and which are not relevant to what we are discussing tonight, why this change constitutes a threat to the green belt.

    The shape of what we have called Greater London, but which in reality is now a huge nameless conurbation stretching far into the Home Counties and running into something approaching 100 miles from east to west, is making it harder than ever, and certainly less comfortable than ever, for those who are drawn into this area, to relate their homes to their work. Some are living on one side of the green belt and crossing it inwards to come to work. Their number is increasing. There is a smaller number living on the Metropolitan side of the green belt who travel outwards to their work. That, I would add in parenthesis, in itself is rather a good development because we want to see more commercial and industrial development outside the outer edge, and we should like to see the morning trains with people in them moving in both directions instead of in only one direction. That in itself is satisfactory and it is a hopeful sign.

    However, in this outer rim, the rim on the other side of the green belt, the population is rising by about 100,000 a year. It is rising five times faster than anywhere else in the country. An increasing number of these people, because of the development in Central London, are having to move inwards. What I fear from these trends is that the time may come when the green belt appears to be not a lung to London but a nuisance to the community, something which increases the distance and the trouble which people have to take each day to travel to and from work—a barrier, an obstacle which has to be crossed twice daily.

    Apart from this, by the nature of things this growing concentration of people in commerce and industry is going to increase the items enumerated by my hon. and gallant Friend which qualify for inclusion in the green belt. Naturally the greater the concentration of commerce and people, the more of these special items inside the green belt there must proportionately be. This will cause the green belt to resemble, as one planner described it the other day, a blanket with moth holes. Once it appears as a moth-eaten barrier, as it already does to some people, and will do to an increasing number, it will really be imperilled. It exists not with the consent of this House or the wish of the Minister; it exists by social consent. Once it seems to me more of a nuisance than a boon it becomes worthless.

    This threat will increase unless we get to grips with the problem of the southeast. This problem, although it is not relevant to what we are discussing tonight, may be astonishingly affected by other decisions that we take. If we enter into the Common Market, the effect of what I have said tonight about southeast England and London and its relationship to the green belt can be multiplied by an unknown figure.

    Recently Mr. Wyndham Thomas, the Director of the Town and Country Planning Association, and a great student of these things, observed:
    "If the Government and the county councils succeed in preserving the green belts round our large cities over the next ten years without having taken strong and effective action to guide jobs and people together to many more new and expanded towns they will have worked the biggest confidence trick since the South Sea Bubble"
    In a friendly debate of this kind I do not go as far as that, but I do think that doing one without the other will land us in increasing difficulties.

    I do not expect my hon. Friend to say very much about these larger questions. All I hope is that he will keep them in mind and remind his right hon. Friend how very much they bear and how increasingly they are going to bear on the problem which is before us.

    7.47 p.m.

    I should like to echo many of the things which my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) has said. I agree wholeheartedly with many of his remarks.

    I suppose my hon. Friend will probably agree that a green belt not only serves the people who live in it, but it is also a pleasant area to which the inhabitants of the great cities can go for their rest and relaxation. At least, that is so in theory. In fact, there is a strong suspicion by the inhabitants of the green belt that some of the city dwellers would be very glad of the open spaces on which to build houses for their congested populations. I am sure that suspicion is well founded. Undoubtedly, if it became available for building, the green belt around London would be swallowed up in no time, and once built on it would be gone for ever.

    In some ways this is understandable. Those in the city see the open spaces. They have their crowded areas. "Why not," they ask,"build the houses which the people need in those open spaces?" It is logical. But I am sure their problem cannot be solved by building on the green belt, particularly in the green belt round London, because once that has gone comes the question, Where do we go from there? As my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said, it would not mean the end of London's expansion. It would mean only the beginning of a new expansion and the engulfing of ever wider stretches of our countryside in the south-east.

    The problem of the pressure of population in London can be dealt with only on a much broader front. People are attracted to the London area as a result of our present prosperity, by the shortage of people there compared with the number of jobs, and by the high rates of pay. In my view, the first step is to divert the sources of the jobs to other parts of the country. This diversion is greatly needed today and it would, if successful, benefit not only London, but the rest of the country. London's daily commuting problem, which becomes progressively worse, would be eased. It will not be eased so long as the demand for labour is so great. If the demand for people in the London area were eased, that would be the best way to preserve the green belt.

    The danger is undoubtedly real. I have an interest in the matter since my constituency of Carshalton and Ban-stead has large areas of green belt land. The violent opposition in Carshalton and Banstead to the Greater London plan springs to some extent from the fear that, once the area is swept into the Greater London area—which heaven forbid, and which I hope will never occur—the green areas will be built over very quickly. I do not suppose that you would allow me to continue very long, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if I gave all the other reasons why Carshalton and Banstead do not want to be in the Greater London area, but you can imagine the fears of people in the Banstead district, which is the southernmost district of my constituency, where there is the smallest number of people per acre of all the fringe areas round London. They are highly suspicious of anything which may lead to their land being built over and ruined for everybody.

    Although both the inhabitants of the green belt and the people of the city who use it have a vested interest in preserving the green belt, those who live in it or in the outer country areas are the best people to be given the authority to preserve it. Some interests in the city, naturally unable to resist pressures, are much more likely to give way, and the result would be a general loss.

    If we are to retain our green areas, think that we shall do it by two means. First, let us remove the pressure by directing industry and commercial interests away from London. Second, let us leave control of the green belts firmly in the hands of the authorities outside the city area. They are not subject to the pressures for housing as those in the city are, and I am sure that in their hands the green belts will be preserved.

    7.54 p.m.

    I think I should at this stage indicate the general attitude of the Opposition towards the Motion. We are all grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) for raising the subject and opening the debate, but he will know that his very comprehensive Motion contains certain propositions which we on this side must regard as fanciful. For example, we cannot agree that progress in housing and slum clearance in recent years has been "commendable", nor can we agree, if we take the country as a whole, England, Scotland and Wales, that there is a

    "shortage of suitable sites for all kinds of building"
    as the Motion suggests.

    The House will wish to have the matter in the right perspective. I have before me the Paper which Mr. Wyndham Thomas, the Director of the Town and Country Planning Association, recently read and from which the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) in his admirable speech quoted. Mr. Wyndham Thomas says that
    "One of the most widely believed bits of modern mythology is that Britain is desperately short of land",
    and he goes on to say
    "We have all the land we are likely to need, and for all the purposes for which we are likely to need it, for as far ahead as even the most far-sighted can see"
    That is the opinion of an expert in the matter. Mr. Thomas estimates that there will be a decline in the agricultural area over the next twenty years of less than 2 per cent. and a corresponding increase in the urban area of slightly less than 2 per cent. Against this decline in the agricultural area, we must bear in mind that, on the record of average agricultural production since the end of the war, there should be an increase in total agricultural production of at least 20 per cent., and we should be getting a lot more food in this period out of a little less land.

    It is true that we have less land to spare, relatively, than most other European countries. It is true also that there is a real shortage of sites in certain areas, the London conurbation being one of them. However, as I see it, what we need now is proper far-sighted planning so that our land may be used economically and to the best advantage.

    I wholeheartily agree with that part of the Motion which criticises sporadic development. However, when we consider the colossal housing task facing the country today, we at least cannot accept that the Government have matched the challenge. There have been various estimates of the number of houses which will be needed during the next twenty years. The Alliance Building Society in its recent booklet estimates that we shall need 8 million houses. Mr. J. R. James, the chief planner of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, estimates the need as 5 million over twenty years. The Town and Country Planning Association estimates 6 million.

    Can we be confident that the Government are grappling with this enormous task? The emphasis in building has shifted from need, and from the national interest, to profitability. If an office block pays better than housing, although houses are desperately needed, it is the office block which goes up. Nearly 16 million square feet of new office space has been built in the central area of the County of London during the last three years.

    This debate is primarily about green belt policy. Green belts are now acceptable to all political parties. We all want to keep the green belt inviolate, which was the word the Joint Parliamentary Secretary used in the Adjournment debate on 22nd November. The central question in this debate is whether we shall be able to keep the green belt unspoilt. I agree with the hon. Member for Ashford that the green belts round London and Birmingham are in real jeopardy. The Government must be held responsible for this state of affairs. The Government are allowing the pressures to which the hon. Gentleman referred to build up, and these pressures must inevitably destroy the green belts, whether the Government like it or not.

    Here I call in aid a warning which was given recently by Mr. A. G. Powell, another official of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, in a paper entitled The Recent Developmentof Greater London. This is what he says:
    "The hard core of the London conurbation has been contained with substantial success within its green belt so long as land remained available for development within it, and planned reception areas provided safety valves beyond it. In and beyond the green belt, movements of population and industrial expansion have, with the aid of the motor car, created an embryonic conurbation 100 miles wide…. Unless a positive regional framework is provided, the strength of the geographic and economic forces involved threatens to break through the green belt and weld great new rings of urban development on to the core of the London conurbation as we know it today"
    That is the view of an official of the Parliamentary Secretary's Department.

    London and the great cities, primarily those in the so-called industrial coffin, which stretches from Merseyside to the Thames, are bursting at the seams. This is a tragedy in view of the high hopes that we had following the Barlow Report and the Abercrombie Plan. I say with pride that between 1945 and 1951 the Labour Government played their part. The Distribution of Industry Act, with which the name of our late colleague and friend Hugh Dalton will always be associated, succeeded in drawing substantial industries from the congested areas, often against the wishes of the industrialists who would have preferred to remain in London. This had a two-fold effect. By drawing these industries away from the London area and Birmingham to Wales, to the North-East, to Scotland and to other areas, the old distressed areas were transformed, and the pressures within the conurbations were relaxed.

    Early in the 1950s, the Government, unfortunately, stopped using the Distribution of Industry Act and thereby increased the pressures in London and in Birmingham. In London, the growth of industry has been fantastic, and, as the hon. Member for Ashford so rightly said, virtually nothing has been done to check it. In a 20 to 30 mile belt round London, the population is increasing at the rate of five times and employment at about four times the national rate. The London region stretches from Southend and the Medway towns in the east to Reading in the west, from Bletchley in the north to Burgess Hill in the south, and from Chelmsford in Essex to Basingstoke in Hampshire. Within this London region live almost all the people who travel to work in central London.

    The population in this London region increased by 626,000 people between 1952 and 1960—from 11·7 to 12·3 million people. If we take 1956 as the starting point, the average annual increase has been over 97,000. Nothing at the moment seems to be stopping this trend. If it continues, it will lead to an increase in population of over 2 million people by 1980. This makes most bitter reading for those of us who come from Wales, from Scotland, from the North-East and from the South-West, where we have problems of high unemployment and depopulation. We are told, "Do what you can with the Local Employment Act." We have been told recently that we cannot have any more advance factories. The figures which I have quoted clearly show that the very evils which the Barlow Report and the Abercrombie Plan sought to avoid are now materialising because of the Government's inaction. This is the great tragedy of this debate.

    I now wish to deal with the employment figures in the London region. I take London for the same reason as the hon. Gentleman—it is the largest problem and the green belt round London is the one which has received formal and final approval. Between 1952 and 1959, the insured population of England and Wales increased by 1,027,000 people, or 5·5 per cent. There were 460,000 new jobs in the London region—an estimated 60 per cent. in manufacturing industry and the remainder in service industries and offices. That means that the London region, with 27 per cent. of the population, gained 45 per cent. of the new jobs available in that period. These are the facts of life.

    Instead of industry being distributed in places where it was needed—in Cornwall, Anglesey, Brecon and Radnor, where there is high unemployment and where young men are leaving home against their wishes, which is a form of direction of labour; people are compelled to leave because they have not a job—and instead of the pressure in and around London being relaxed, London is becoming more dominant economically and more congested and unmanageable. I do not know what is the attraction of London. I much prefer North Wales. If it were not for the fact that I have to come here, I would not come here. Something must be done to demagnetise this magnet so that people can have the opportunity to live in the more pleasant parts of the country.

    It may be said that industrial employment in and around London has decreased. This is true. But it has been more than offset by the increase in office jobs and service occupations in the conurbation as a whole and in the factories on the periphery.

    In his paper, Mr. A. G. Powell said that the built-up area of London had been
    "contained … within its green belt so long as land remained available for development"
    inside London
    "and planned reception areas provided safety valves beyond"
    the green belt. He makes two provisos. Let us examine them. We know that the supply of building land in London is vanishing rapidly. The shortage is reflected in the excessive cost of sites. I do not think that any hon. Member on either side of the House would deny that. Plenty of examples of it have been given in many debates. I propose to give only two.

    Last October, the Islington Borough Council had to abandon its plans to build twenty-eight flats when it found that the land would cost more than £100,000 an acre. The London County Council recently wished to buy for housing purposes a site intended for offices. It had to stop the housing scheme when it found that it would have to pay £4 million in compensation. The situation is becoming impossible. It is becoming impossible for local authorities in this area to do their work.

    Mr. Powell's second proviso was planned reception areas. I am afraid that these are dwindling in capacity. The number of houses built in the London ring of new towns has fallen by half in less than four years and was down to 6,000 in 1960. In all the town expansion schemes under the Town Development Act—and hon. Members will recall the great promises held out of future development during the Second Reading of that Bill—for the reception of overspill from London, only 10,000 houses have been built since the scheme started. This is a great disappointment, and it is an unhappy record, especially when we consider London's overspill problem.

    Against this background, for how long will the green belt remain acceptable and popular? As I see it, these are the dangers: as more and more people live on the outer edge of the green belt and continue to work in London, their attitude will change. The green belt will be a barrier between home and work, and many of these people will come to regard it with resentment. In those circumstances, for how long can it remain tenable?

    On the other hand, people in London, looking for houses, forced to pay fantastic rents and prices because of the scarcity and the high cost of land in London itself, will begin to blame the green belt for their difficulties. If the rise in land prices continues and there are no planned outlets for London overspill, there will soon be irresistible demands to allow housing in the green belt. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary agrees with me. I read the Report of the Adjournment debate of 22nd November which was initiated by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance). If hon. Members have not read it, I wish they would do so, because in it one could detect an undertone of the forces which are at work and which might lead willy-nilly to the destruction of the green belts. Instead of being oases of peace, the green belts will become a no-man's land over which conflicting forces will fight a bitter battle—and I do not think that any party wishes that to come about.

    The Government's responsibility in this matter is very great, and they must begin to face the facts. The procedural points made by the hon. and gallant Member for Wells were important, and I do not minimise them, but it is these forces behind the green belt which are really important. It does not matter what the procedure is if these forces ultimately destroy the green belt—and this is what we have to consider in the debate.

    The Labour Party has a policy—a very good policy. I have no time to go into it in detail; it is available to be read, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will study it carefully. We should plan more new towns and we should look again at the whole question of the distribution of industry in Britain. Clearly the Local Employment Act is inadequate; it does not seriously help to distribute industry. It may help a little in the pockets of unemployment, but it does not control the distribution of new industry in the way which is required. In the final analysis, the entire problem, with the related difficulties of housing and traffic congestion, which I have not mentioned, but which are important in this context, depends on the location of new industries. The Board of Trade knows quite well about this and about what happens when industry wants to expand and seeks an industrial development certificate.

    What co-operation exists among the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in relation to green belts? This is the sort of thing which we ought to know. As far as I am aware, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government does not know what the Board of Trade is doing and what new industries are likely to arise in London. Can the Parliamentary Secretary say how many new industries are likely to be built in the London region during the next twelve months? That is the sort of information which we ought to have in the debate if it is to be useful. People leave Scotland and Wales for London and Birmingham because there is no work for them at home, and, as a result, we create unbalanced communities. This is going on all the time in this country. In Wales the position is unbalanced because our young people are leaving to find work. Here, in London, there are too many people.

    The Government are responsible. We want to know what they intend to do about it. We are entitled to know. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us. It is no use the Government merely saying, "We believe in the green belt". That is what the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said time and again, but it is not enough. If the Government continue to allow the forces which will destroy the green belt to develop unhindered, then the green belt policy will collapse.

    I have reached the stage at which I begin to suspect the Government when they say that they believe in something. They say, "We believe in the green belt, we believe in the United Nations, we believe in the National Health Service, we believe in healthy competition." It is when they say that that I begin to see the edifice cracking and crumbling. Justification by faith is not enough; we must have works, too. We need education by faith and good works.

    We are debating a great problem which presents an enormous challenge to the Government and to the nation, but I am afraid—and I say this honestly and candidly, not as a piece of party politics—that the Government have not the energy, the vision or the imagination to match this great challenge.

    8.17 p.m.

    The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Govment
    (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

    We have had from the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) what the Socialists would describe as justification by words. He certainly ended with a splendid peroration. It is a great joy to all of us to know that there is a Socialist policy if only we buy a booklet to read about it.

    I very much welcome the initiative which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) has shown in setting down the Motion, which raises matters which are of very great interest to the House and which ought to be of very great concern to the public at large. I noted what he said about the importance of trying by all possible means to give the public information about the progress which has been made. He was good enough to say—and the Motion affirms it—that considerable progress has been made in housing and in slum clearance in recent years. The hon. Member for Anglesey seems to dissent from that part of the Motion. We all know that in January my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing opened the four millionth house completed in Great Britain since the end of the war, over three million of them under a Conservative Government. That means that one house in every four in this country is a modern house, built to modern standards. By any test that represents considerable progress.

    There was a full debate on housing on 2nd February, and I will not go into all the details which were then raised. I will only emphasise that, in spite of all that has been achieved, it is estimated that over 500,000 slums remain, and a large number of additional houses will become unfit as times goes on. The Government will continue to give a very high priority to slum clearance and will encourage local authorities in dealing with this problem as rapidly as the nation's resources will permit. The problem is greatest in the large cities, such as Liverpool and Manchester, and we are approving tenders as fast as they can be put into the machine.

    Apart from getting rid of the slums, we have to plan, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) said, in an era of increasing prosperity for a rising demand for houses. We all know how over the past years young people have been marrying earlier and how the birth rate has been rising. As this happens they want separate houses of their own much more quickly than was the case in the old days, just as old people and single people also look for homes of their own. That is one field in which double banking is not as popular as it was. The number of households has increased to a far greater extent than the population in spite of the increase in the birth rate, and that tendency seems likely to continue.

    The result of all this, as the hon. Member for Anglesey quite rightly pointed out, is that land has been used up, especially in some areas, considerably faster than the planners could or did anticipate when the first development plans were drawn up in 1950. At the same time he is quite right in saying that there is no general shortage of land taking the country as a whole, so perhaps to a slight extent I might join issue with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells. The fact that that is so made some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Anglesey a little more harrowing than might have been necessary.

    As the House will know, in 1960, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, then the Minister of Housing and Local Government, asked the planning authorities—in Circular 37—to consider whether more land needed to be allocated for housing and other purposes and to take special measures where shortage of land was becoming a problem. All the evidence we have shows that local authorities are taking this matter seriously, and many of them have already provided more land. Thus we are endeavouring to make sure that enough land will be available in the more immediate years. Of course, taking the longer term it is going to be one of the problems to be dealt with in the current review of development plans which is now taking place. The same circular stressed the need to which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells rightly attaches importance, to make more intensive use of urban land.

    Since the circular that point has been hammered home in a variety of ways and on numerous occasions. As recently as 2nd February, my right hon. Friend told the House that it was our policy to make better use of the older and undeveloped land for rebuilding at higher densities. Densities of six to eight to the acre devour land at an alarming rate, and if we are to make the best use of our land we have to accept higher densities than hitherto has been thought necessary or desirable in many areas. Every case must be judged on its merits, but there is no doubt that very considerable savings in land can be made by a quite moderate increase in densities.

    By raising net density of an area from 24 persons to the acre to 40 per acre and the number of houses from 8, roughly, to an acre to 13, it is possible to save about 17 acres of land per 1,000 of population, or to put it another way, to save enough land to house another 500 people. My right hon. Friend has told the House that he is doing his utmost in the appeals which come before him to see that land is put to the best advantage, and in that connection we hope to publish soon a bulletin on the subject of densities in order to stimulate interest in this subject.

    My hon. and gallant Friend also refers specifically to the need to stimulate infilling in urban areas. I do not think I can give my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South a precise definition. It is a term of art rather than of law. Much depends on the circumstances of each particular case. There is, happily, increasing

    evidence that builders are realising that there is not an inexhaustible supply of virgin land which it is easy to develop and that their outlets will come more and more to be found in the redevelopment of already built-up areas. There are undoubtedly large areas in London and other big cities built 50, 60 or even 100 years ago in a manner which is quite unsuitable to present needs. I am thinking particularly of the large Victorian houses with large gardens which people neither want nor can afford to live in these days. There is certainly scope there for the private builder who can acquire properties like this to redevelop them as modern homes for modern tastes.

    I think that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells may be a bit pessimistic in suggesting that such projects must necessarily be uneconomic. I do not think that is normally true in our cities. He referred specifically to subsidies to local authorities for marginal building. We have just passed the Housing Act, 1961, which gives substantial help to local authorities in the matter of subsidies. They ought not to relate their subsidies to any difficult site but should provide a pool from which they can manage their housing undertakings.

    We have in all this to be careful to ensure that small-scale, piecemeal infilling of sites as and when builders can get hold of them does not result in a fearful mess. We are not going to encourage people to get hold of bits of land and do infilling which might cause something quite contrary to proper planning for the community as a whole. We must also recognise that however intensively we develop inside our towns and cities there will be a housing need which can only be met by overspill, with expanded towns and indeed also with new towns. This means selection of adequate land beyond the green belt for development, avoiding wherever possible, as laid down in the circular, good agricultural land. That, of course, is the answer to the hon. Member for Anglesey who told us that Socialist policy was to have new towns.

    Of course, it is also Government policy to carry forward expanded town programmes, to promote overspill by all means, and that includes moving people and jobs to new towns where that may also prove appropriate. We have got to accept that, because it has been assumed, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells accepts this, that altogether from 30,000 to 40,000 acres of new land each year will be required to meet all our needs for new houses, schools, roads, factories, playing fields and all the rest. So there is no room for doubt on either side of the House about the size of the demand or that much of it will have to come from agricultural land whatever steps we take to step up densities or to secure the better use of urban land.

    The safeguarding of agricultural land and the prevention of sporadic development are matters which can really be dealt with in the framework of the present planning procedures. One of the objects of planning policy has for long been to ensure that valuable agricultural land is not taken but less valuable land is 'taken instead, and that development which is unnecessarily extravagant in the use of land is not undertaken. There are standing arrangements by local authorities to consult the Regional Land Commissioners of the Ministry of Agriculture both when development plans are being prepared and subsequently when planning applications are being considered.

    We have to be very careful about how we use agricultural land, but the safeguarding of it and the prevention of sporadic development are matters which are not directly dependent upon the existence of a statutory green belt, which has other purposes, though it may serve incidentally, of course, the object of preventing sporadic development and preserving agricultural land. However, that was not really the objective of the green belt policy. Indeed, we cannot contemplate a green belt surrounding all towns or even all sizeable towns. In the normal way, towns should be left to grow naturally, subject, of course, to the normal planning controls. It is only for large cities and large areas of population that special provisions may be required, and it is with those that most of the green belt proposals to which my hon. and gallant Friend referred are concerned.

    I think he is quite right in saying that there is a good deal of misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of the green belt. It may be established for one of three purposes; to check the growth of a large built-up area, to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another, and to preserve the special character of a town. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) rather gave the impression that he thought that the green belt was for the benefit of his constituents. I should like to emphasise that I do not believe that it is just for the benefit of the people who happen to be lucky enough to live within the proposed green belt.

    I thought that I made absolutely clear that city dwellers had a vested interest in it just as much as the people who live there. It is for the benefit of both.

    I am glad to have that emphasised. It is important that we do not take a selfish attitude about the green belt. In the words of the old poem,

    "We are the choice selected few;
    Let all the rest be damned.
    There's room enough in Hell for you;
    We won't have Heaven cramm'd"
    I am glad that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton has views so much in line with those of Sir Patrick Abercrombie who certainly conceived the green belt as serving a double purpose both rural and urban. The former is basically, of course, its agricultural use.

    The urban use he described as twofold. First as an extension or completion of the internal park system, except that in the green belt full public accessability would occur only at certain places, through footpaths and country lanes and so on. The second urban use was to set a limit to town growth. I think that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells was quite right to emphasise that the green belt was not meant to be a sterilised area. I think that one of the best definitions yet found of the green belt is given in the Scott Report, 1942. The footnote to paragraph 201 on page 71 states:
    "Although the term 'green belt' is of comparatively recent introduction it seized the public imagination and has become not only widely used but still more widely misused. It is a townsman's expression which embodies a townsman's point of view and has come, unfortunately, so mean a belt of open land—of commons, woods and fields—to be 'preserved' from building (or, as is often said. 'sterilised') and so to serve as an encircling ring of green round the smoke and dirt of the town, perhaps with 'wedges' of green penetrating towards the heart of the town itself. But open land cannot be 'preserved' and such a concept is false. We conceive the green belt to be a tract of ordinary country, of varying width, round a town, and as a tract where the normal occupations of farming or forestry should be continued so that here, as elsewhere in rural land, the farmer is the normal custodian of the land. This is the reverse of 'sterilisation'; it is the preservation of fertility. But in the green belt there is a difference. The townsman himself is vitally concerned in the maintenance of the open character of the land and the belt will naturally include golf courses and open common land primarily for his use. On the other hand the farmer is compelled to recognise that the farmland is serving a dual purpose, and that there may be types of farming (e.g., sheep rearing) unsuitable for such an area, where sheer propinquity brings urban-minded people into rural surroundings. But in essence the green belt is just a tract of the countryside."
    The Scott Report envisaged development of an appropriate character within it. Any expansion of existing towns and villages lying within the boundaries of that tract of countryside will normally be small. Outside, any existing towns and villages may well be selected for expansion to meet the overspill from the conurbations or towns. I think that was the point made by the hon. Member for Anglesey—that in preserving the green belt we have to face the need for overspill town development and new town schemes beyond it, properly planned.

    Only yesterday there were hon. Members opposite who said that the Greater London Council would have nothing interesting to do. It will be charged with the responsibility of overspill, and I think that the hon. Member for Anglesey has emphasised how important that responsibility will be. While we are not, of course, willing to encourage towns and cities to cast excessively covetous eyes on the virgin lands immediately around their boundaries, it is necessary to consider whether building there will mean less loss of amenity, about which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells is concerned, than jumping over the green belt into the rest of the countryside.

    We must bear in mind that, where necessary and possible, existing towns and cities must be allowed some elbow room. As I said on 22nd November, that is not by any means the same thing as allowing urban sprawl or ribbon development. The object must be to guide and regulate rather than hold up these natural forces of expansion. Because we take such a strong view that, once established, the green belt line around existing communities should be virtually inviolate, to use a word which has been accepted on both sides of the House and has been often used, it is all the more necessary to take the utmost care in settling that line.

    The hon. Gentleman talked about the natural forces of expansion. One would agree with him that in many areas it is proper to allow cities of a certain size to expand in certain directions. What would he say about London in that context? Have the natural forces of expansion gone far enough in that area?

    The hon. Member said that he would refer to London only because it was the only established green belt. The Motion urges the Government to hasten the process of designating green belts elsewhere, and a good many assurances have been given about the position of the London green belt.

    I am considering the position where there is a provisional green belt and where it has been said that we are rather slow in setting the line. It is because we take such a firm view after the green belt is settled that we must take care at this stage. It is therefore necessary that the Minister should be free to consider the matter in appropriate cases, as has been suggested. Certain provisional boundaries may be too tightly drawn or some important and specific issue must be considered before a green belt area as a whole is finally settled. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells for explaining so clearly the way in which the procedure of the green belt operates, starting normally from the sketch plan and ending with the submission of proposals for formal incorporation in the development plans. We have twenty-four of these formal proposals before us and we expect the remainder to be submitted in a steady flow.

    I do not think that we can expect that the procedure as such can be speeded up. There may be certain decisions that should be taken in the interim period and there may be serious decisions to be taken when the line is settled. I think that this procedure is right. There is provision for public inquiry into the proposals and when the Minister considers those proposals and makes suggestions for modifications there is provision for an inquiry into that. The issues are so important and the effect on private and public interests so great that I think we should adopt that procedure. It is the procedure recommended by the Council on tribunals.

    The second inquiry cannot be any quicker than the first, because it must be approached by my right hon. Friend with an open mind, weighing all the new evidence brought forward in the light of new proposals. At the same time, we appreciate the importance of getting these green belts established so that people will really know where they stand.

    There are some difficult decisions to be taken. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deeds) set out some of the wider issues and some of the problems which have to be faced. I am equally well aware that a decision does not become any easier if it is delayed or evaded. Usually the reverse is true. At the same time, we cannot jeopardise a fair and sensible solution by trying to be in too much of a hurry.

    With the two broad objectives of the Motion—the speeding up of the establishment of green belts and the encouragement of the more intensive use of urban land—I am sure the House will be in sympathy. Subject to the reservations that I have made in my speech, I commend the broad objectives of the Motion to the House.

    8.40 p.m.

    All hon. Members will be grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) for initiating a debate on this subject. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) that there is still very much to be done in providing houses for the people who need them. However, the Motion speaks not only of housing but of all kinds of building, and I should like to refer to what my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey said about the building and siting of factories.

    The Local Employment Act is being frustrated now. Particularly because of the Government's move to join the Common Market and because of their policy favouring great monopolies, there is a tendency for factory buildings to be concentrated in and around the great conurbations, to the detriment of places with high local unemployment.

    In this respect, I wish to refer to Camborne-Redruth, where I live. Three months ago I.C.I. finally abandoned a factory which had existed there for 130 years, and left it altogether. Five years ago the factory employed 500 people. Admittedly, they were skilled people. This huge concern, with vast ramifications in industry, was prepared to leave the industrial area of mid-Cornwall without employment in order to concentrate on something goodness knows where.

    That is a tendency to which the Minister and the President of the Board of Trade and also the Cabinet will have to pay very great attention, because when in a small town of 35,000 people one closes a factory which has employed 500 persons, that makes a very great difference indeed.

    However, I welcomed the point in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech where be referred to sporadic development and the dangers that can arise in the infilling of small and unsuitable plots. I have seen very many instances of this. A point which I should like to emphasise is that, as I see it in travelling in my county and throughout the country, we seem to be pursuing a policy of ribbon development far faster now than at almost any time in the last forty years. We thought that ribbon development had ended, but if one travels any distance now one seems rarely to be in open countryside.

    I thought that the description by the Parliamentary Secretary of a green belt as "just a tract of countryside" was quite right. But there is one point that we must all bear in mind, especially hon. Members opposite, in thinking of a property-owning democracy, and that is the wickedly high prices now charged for building sites. Very high prices indeed are charged in Cornwall generally and in some parts of my constituency.

    I also draw attention to our debate on 11th December, 1961, on the problems of rural transport. The sporadic building development and ribbon development going on in the countryside is enhancing transport difficulties, especially where British Railways are seeking very quickly to close down branch lines.

    Ten days ago, the consultative council heard the Transport Commission's proposals for closing down the Gwinear Road-Helston line, which is partly in my constituency. Last week, I received proposals for the closing down of the Chacewater-Newquay line, which just borders my constituency but which will have serious consequences for Mid-and West Cornwall. The bus services are likely to meet far greater difficulties than they have done in the past. It therefore seems to me that the whole question of building development, including housing, must be linked with the question of rural transport, especially in the county areas.

    The Parliamentary Secretary did not reply to the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey about the considerable factory development that has gone on in the London area and between London and Reading and is still continuing. I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary would have given attention to this and to the fact that factory expansion in London and the South-East is proceeding faster than in the rest of the country. When we see the huge palatial office blocks in London, which employ vast numbers of people, and when we realise that transport in London is fast becoming entangled almost beyond redemption, we consider that the Government should take seriously the whole question of building, both in the big conurbations and in the countryside.

    I am grateful to the Minister for his decision to prevent mining exploitation and uncertain development in the Zennor area, which adjoins my constituency. He has shown a wise outlook concerning a piece of one of the liveliest cliffs in the country and I am grateful to him for it. I hope that he will also consider sympathetically the question of green belts and ribbon development.

    8.48 p.m.

    The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) and many other hon. Members who have participated in this debate have spoken of the immense pressures which are building up in the south-east of England and of the tremendous demand for offices and factories and for housing near to places of work, all of which is driving up the price of land and exerting enormous pressure upon our one statutory green belt.

    My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was quite right, as, indeed, was my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), who did us proud by choosing this subject and opening the debate in the way he did, to call attention to the fact that there are two stages of green belt policy. There are the statutory, established green belts and there are the proposed green belts around, to mention only a few places, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, York and Newcastle, spread right over the country.

    These provisional green belts are still under examination, as indeed is the greatest provisional green belt of all, the proposals in the development plans of certain of the Home Counties—Surrey Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in particular—to push out the statutory green belt almost to the county boundaries and give a great width of green belt round the Metropolis. It is this proposal that I want, if not to attack, at least to criticise, and to do it in conjunction with the phrase used by the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes), that the pressures which are building up must inevitably destroy the green belt.

    I hope that will not happen. I agree with the hon. Gentleman when he says that on both sides of the House there are many voices which would subscribe to the inviolability of the green belt; that the statutory green belt once established should remain inviolate. That is why, as my hon. Friend said, it is important to take a good look, even if it sometimes means a long look, at proposals to establish further green belts.

    What will happen will be that the fact which the hon. Member for Anglesey fears, the destruction of the green belt, will be brought a great deal nearer if we are unrealistic about permitting extensions, and it seems to me that at the heart of this problem—and it is a real one—there is a fundamental conflict of interest. On the one hand, there is the natural desire, which we all share, that "England's green and pleasant land" shall remain as green as we can possibly make it, and that there shall be a green environment for those of us who live near the great cities. But, on the other, there is the fact to which my hon. and gallant Friend drew attention, that the greatest problem today is the shortage of building sites.

    That fact has driven up the price of land, as has been recognised by more than one speaker tonight, and has indeed been recognised by the fact that on two occasions within the last fifteen months or so we have had full day debates in the House about the price of land in this country. In free market conditions the only way to hold down the price of building land is to allow a substantial release of land for residential purposes in the pressure areas.

    How are we to do that and at the same time maintain our green belts, and in particular maintain the statutory green belt round London? How can these conflicting requirements be reconciled? I believe that this is a great task of statesmanship; a task to which my right hon. Friend will need to devote much of his great knowledge and imagination. I believe that my right hon. Friend knows the problem. It is certainly important that it should be faced fairly and realistically, with a determination to overcome it as far as possible.

    The policy of pushing, or attempting to push, London's green belt almost out to the extremity of the Home Counties is a mistaken one. It is mistaken, because it Will multiply the problems of the Chigwell sites, which were brought to the notice of the House earlier in the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper). At one time I lived at Chigwell. I do not pretend to know the circumstances now, nor am I familiar with the site my hon. Friend mentioned. It is a particular case, because it is in the statutory green belt, but we know of many cases where planning permission has been refused in respect of land which has no agricultural value whatsoever but which is ripe for development with houses and where services are available. Permission has been refused simply because the land is in an area which is proposed to be added to the green belt.

    What we have so far failed to recognise in all its implications is the manifest arrival, at any rate in the London area, of what has been called the city region. Growing around the great Metropolis, extending for 40 miles in all directions, is what is virtually a great city region. This demands two things. I should be out of order if I spoke about the first at any length this evening, because the first is a regional planning organisation. The second is a conscious effort to determine points of growth outside the statutory green belt. These points of growth must include new towns, expanded towns, and expanded villages. All these focal points of development should be against a green background, but not necessarily within a green belt.

    The conception I have is of the great city region—the magnet, which it is, the centre of culture, the arts and education, and the seat of government, surrounded by the statutory green belt, much as it is at present, and absolutely inviolate. Beyond that I should like to see points of growth consciously worked out—new towns and expanded towns—where land will be released in considerable quantities quite quickly because the price must be kept down. Around that I should like to see, not a further green belt, but a green background, giving a means of access to the countryside from these points of growth.

    This is especially a London problem, but if we can put such a scheme into effect in the London area we shall have a great chance of showing the way for the other great conurbations, the other emerging city regions. I refer to the Manchester conurbation, the Birmingham-Coventry area, Liverpool, Newcastle, all the great conurbations of the west Midlands, and Southampton in the South. In these areas the problem is becoming acute, particularly in pressure areas such as the west Midlands and the south-eastern segment of Britain, where the demand for land and houses is so high.

    We must be realistic about this. It is no good trying to fight against natural tendencies. The natural tendency is for industry to want to go near the coast in the South where it can have access to the Continent. There is something approaching a great industrial area now stretching from Essex, right through London, down to Southampton, crossing the Channel, and going through almost to the Rhine. We want to see that it is not all built up. There must be a green background.

    But we must recognise that it is no good denying absolutely an outlet for economic pressures of that kind, and I want to see this faced squarely, and a conscious attempt made at high Ministerial level, at Cabinet level if required, to ensure that this green belt policy is looked at realistically, keeping inviolate the established green belt but releasing sufficient land at the right price to permit building and to enable the price of building land to be kept at a reasonable level.

    9.1 p.m.

    Like other hon. Members, I should like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut. -Commander Maydon) on introducing this very important subject. I apologise that I was not here to hear part of his speech and I look forward to reading it. I can see, as we all can, what an interesting debate he has initiated.

    This is a most significant subject, because I believe that the provision and maintenance of green belts in present times has become an indispensable condition of healthy and gracious living for us all. For that reason, I regarded the speech of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) with considerable misgivings. I thought that he was providing all the sorts of reasons which will always be given about making some inroads into green belts, particularly in areas where the formal desigation has not yet been made.

    I had one other reflection about green belts, as I listened to the speeches, particularly that of the Parliamentary Secretary. It was a sad reflection, leading almost to cynicism. I thought of the first authority which had the courage and the initiative to go out for a green belt before the war, very often against the advice of Government spokesmen and very often having to coerce other authorities to co-operate by all kinds of flattery; the authority which secured the only green belt which at the moment exists and has been statutorily defined. This was the London County Council, under the leadership of Lord Morrison—and this is the body which the Government are about to kill and merge in the Greater London Council.

    It is not a very pleasant reflection. Thanks to the foresight and to the many schemes which members of the L.C.C. devised in order to get land before the war, we have the green belt. As is usually the case, when it was known that a public body of that kind was after land, the price of that land became extraordinarily inflated. All kinds of strategems had to be devised in order to secure at a fair price what has become one of the great features, the redeeming feature, of this highly congested area in and around the capital of the Commonwealth.

    The hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) was very pessimistic about the maintenance of the green belt around London, and I must admit that to some extent I share his pessimism, which to a degree has been reinforced by the speech of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns. Of course, the pressures are enormous around any great City, and certainly around the capital city of the Commonwealth. And there is no guarantee that those pressures will not be successful in breaching the green belt unless the Government are prepared to take positive and constructive action. It is the fact that we have seen little positive action from the Government over the last ten years, which adds to our fears and which has undoubtedly increased the problem.

    Various figures have been given, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes), to explain why this is. I do not want to add very much to them, except to re-emphasise what amounts to a very considerable criticism of the Government for their failure to do very much about the location of industry. We know that the three regions centring on London account for more than 50 per cent. of the new employment, another 20 per cent. is in the two Midland regions, and the rest is spread over the remainder of the country. That is an extraordinarily high concentration. Good planning could have prevented it, but no positive steps, or very few, have been taken since 1951.

    The Ministry of Labour Gazettes from 1952 to 1962 show that between those years the London and South-Eastern Region, the Eastern Region and the Southern Region have had a net gain of about 187,000 insured employees. How different is the story elsewhere. Even the Midland Region has lost 3,000 and, as my hon. Friend mentioned, Wales lost 32,000 net in the same period, and Scotland lost 63,000 net. Furthermore, as Professor Sykes pointed out in a recent article in the Journal of the Town Planning Institute, 80 per cent. of the new employment in the Home Counties area is in new industries and only 20 per cent. in the old ones. What a contrast to Wales, where only 25 per cent. of the new employment is in new industry.

    The central problem is the location of industry; encouragement should be given to firms to go to the areas where there is more space, less pressure on the schools, and less trouble about communications. The failure to take much more positive action over location of industry during the last ten years—when, apparently, we have been having it so good—will, I am sure, be one of the great future criticisms of our society. We shall pay for it very dearly, indeed, unless, even at this late hour, the Government are prepared to take much more effective action than they have in the past.

    Because of this great concentration, particularly in the Greater London area—where the rate of unemployment is only half that of the worst of our development districts—great pressures have been exercised in all sorts of ways on the authorities and on the Government themselves. Derrick Senior wrote a series of articles in The Guardian a few months ago in which he showed the enormous temptations—bribes, indeed—offered to authorities. I do not for one moment suggest that those bribes are taken, but a tremendous temptation is presented. We know that speculators and investors frequently pay £100 an acre of agricultural land for the first option to purchase should the land ever be designated for building purposes. Unless the Government are watchful, things are bound to go wrong in that kind of atmosphere.

    A typical case of what these pressures can do comes from one of the metropolitan county councils. As some kind of inquiry is now being held, I do not want to mention names. The Parliamentary Secretary may know them and, in any case, the papers will all go to him. I will not, therefore, argue the merits of the case, but will use it only to illustrate the kind of difficulties confronting authorities under the existing pressures.

    A proposal has been made six or seven times by various groups of developers to create a new village in the Home Counties on what is almost the last remaining unspoilt escarpment of a very celebrated range of hills. There is more than one range so perhaps I have not given too near a definition to show precisely where the spot is. Everyone admits that this is a spot of outstanding natural beauty and it is not what I might describe as just an average piece of land. I repeat that it is considered to be an outstanding natural beauty spot with excellent landscape.

    The county council concerned had itself informally designated the area as a green belt, and if the Ministry had been able to act more quickly, and if the plans had been approved, perhaps the area would have been statutorily designated by now and the whole of this unfortunate episode would not have arisen. But tremendous pressures have been brought to bear. There have been eight or nine applications and four or five inquiries. On the last occasion that the matter came before the county council a decision to allow development was reached by a majority of only one vote. In the last inquiry the Minister's inspector reported that there was no social justification for the scheme and that no such social justification for it had ever been produced.

    The scheme meets no known local requirement; it would not provide houses for local people, for local housing problems hardly exist. Most of the local authorities involved are not building houses, because they consider that they do not have local housing problems. Thus, in the area to which I am referring, development would be provided but it would have been achieved by spoiling this beauty spot which is visited by thousands of people in the summer months. Accommodation would be provided for commuters, bringing people to the area who do not already live there and causing consequent expense to the existing rate-payers for the provision of schools, roads, sewerage and all the other amenities.

    A scheme of that kind, if approved, would not only destroy the beauty of the place but, as there is in it a proposal for high flats which would be seen for miles around, would completely alter the whole character of this stretch of country. The tragedy is that within ten miles there are Victorian, worn-out houses in half-a-dozen towns—I nearly mentioned them, but I must not do so in the circumstances. These old houses are crying out to be rebuilt. They exist in places where the land use is extremely bad and where new houses are really needed. Instead of that we have all this paraphernalia of one inquiry after another in an effort to make a speculative development which, I hope, will never be permitted. If permission were granted it would not only destroy the beauty of the place but it would take valuable building resources away from other areas where they could do a socially useful job.

    I have related the events in this area as an example of the kind of situation that is being created today. The county council concerned has a good planning record and the fact that all this has happened shows the pressures that exist and the vigilance that must be maintained. I hope that, as a result of giving this example, the Government will realise that considerable constructive action is required not only by the Ministry concerned but by the Board of Trade to try to divert some of this pressure to other areas where it is really required.

    There have been two major reasons which have made the present green belt position even worse. The first, which has already been referred to, is the high price of land. I will not go into this in detail because it is outside the subject of the debate, although it is important to keep it in mind. The second concerns negative planning. This is partly due—and it was referred to by the Royal Commission in its proposals for the Greater London area—to the fact that—and the Royal Commission mention this—there has not been one effective planning authority. The tragedy is that the solution proposed by the Government will itself not provide an effective planning authority. It will be too small to deal with the sort of case I have just mentioned, because such a case would be outside the boundary of the Greater London Council.

    In five to ten years' time we might have another Royal Commission saying that an even more effective planning authority is required to cover the whole of the area of the Home Counties. Another cause of this negative planning attitude is the difficulty about compensation which arose once we repealed some of the provision of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. It often happens that an authority feels that it must allow development because it does not want to land itself with the heavy sums that become payable.

    There are four or five things that I think need to be done. I have mentioned the location of industry and the need for much more positive steps and inducements of various kinds to get industry and, where possible, administration out of this area. There is no reason why that should not be done. There is a need for some limitation of the price of land, and there are various ways in which that can be done.

    I also hope that there can be a much speedier process of confirming areas designated as open spaces and as green belts. I entirely agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that where people's rights are being infringed there must be adequate opportunities for protest and appeal. But an extraordinary length of time passes before we even get general outline planning maps, and it is very difficult to justify these delays. In the County of Kent where I live, the draft map was completed in July, 1953, nine years ago. Nobody has the faintest idea when the provisional map will be published. Then there has to be a definitive map. Something ought to be done to speed up the process. It is only fair to developers. It is certainly fair to the population as a whole, that this should be done.

    I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give some attention to this matter, because until one can expedite the publication of definitive planning maps there will always be this continual pressure of one kind and another, and that will be bad, not only for planning but for the country.

    9.17 p.m.

    I wish to take up the point which the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) has just made about the protracted delays in the publication of town plans and definitive maps. This has a very detrimental effect upon the planning of an area, on development and also on the allocation of land for development.

    I think the point ties in very well with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley), that unless a substantial supply of building land is released now we cannot tackle the problem of high prices of land. These development plans have been in the brewing stage for quite long enough, and it is high time that definite, clear-cut planning decisions were made.

    We shall never get a perfect plan if we continue to revise it. Social and transport conditions change. All sorts of things make a plan out of date very quickly. Somebody will always want to make an alteration. It is much better to have as near a good plan as possible now than to carry on with procrastination, which is a most expensive luxury that we cannot afford.

    Much has been said about the green belt, but I do not want to say too much about that. Representing a provincial seat rather than a London seat, I do not want to become involved in the London green belt problem from a theoretical point of view. However, I would just like to say this about the use of the green belt. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), who has done a great service to the House in moving this Motion, said that a green belt should not be a sterilised zone, and that is very true. One sure way of preserving a green belt is to have within it a certain measure of development of a character which makes it quite out of keeping with urban development which we are trying to prevent. In some of the provincial and rural areas development of a nature suitable for holidays would be advantageous.

    In South Wales there is a proposed green belt, or, rather, a thought-of green belt—one cannot put it higher than that—in the area of which I submitted a planning application and was refused because the proposed development, so it was said, would interfere with the rural amenities of the neighbourhood and would also affect the green belt. Hon. Members will appreciate my sense of frustration when I tell them that the application was to level off a tip from a disused colliery and put a pair of semidetached houses on the land. That is the sort of peculiar decision which comes out at present, bringing green belt policy into contempt.

    The green belt policy must be clearly laid down, it must be followed and it must be supported, but, also, it must appear to be logical. It must not be the result of someone having a compass set at a certain radius and drawing a circle round a town, saying that that indicates the green belt.

    One of the ways to ease pressure on the green belts is quite clearly brought out in the Motion where it refers to
    "the development of building sites which may not be entirely economic from the builder's point of view"
    and in its references to
    "measures to stimulate in-filling in urban areas."
    Not nearly enough is done to stimulate infilling in urban areas. I am quite sure that if my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend examine the development plans which are already in existence they will see that there are many areas which have been set aside unnecessarily because nobody knows quite what will happen in the future. They should be bold in the release of that land now marked within the town map areas and designate it for the building of private houses or whatever it may be. Let them do it now, promptly, and release the land for building instead of procrastinating and saying that we should wait to see what comes out of the next five-year review. Procrastination will only mean that there will be sporadic development within our towns which will make the five-year review even more difficult.

    Something else very often overlooked is the comprehensive redevelopment of a town area which has now become a twilight area. It may be that a twilight area has been used for warehouse accommodation or for commercial and industrial use. In this country we do not do enough to regard such twilight areas as comprehensive units and redevelop them for mixed development, no longer saying that the use should be for warehouse purposes or for factories only. Let us cut down on the waste of sites on roads by bringing the dwelling accommodation into the same area. Every time a housing estate is developed, at least 10 per cent.—perhaps as much as 15 per cent.—is wasted on roads and sundry services not used for housing.

    There are schemes throughout the world either proposed or in existence which the Ministry could examine where the warehouse accommodation is at one level, the roads are raised to a higher level, the shopping accommodation is then put on, and above that the dwelling accommodation is erected. I know that it is costly to build high, but if the profitable ground floor levels are used so as to yield the high rents, the rents on the top level, with mixed development, can indirectly be subsidised.

    The next question is, Who is to do it? Central government and local government have not the capital finance at the moment, but central government or local government can acquire the land and economically release it to private enterprise to develop a worth-while scheme in the interests of the community at large, redeveloping the land on a commercial basis. We have not gone nearly far enough in the direction of redevelopment today. It can be done and it must be done. This is why I have been speaking about the industrial, semi-industrial or warehouse areas. In comprehensively redeveloping them, one does not meet the problem which arises in slum-clearance work. In doing slum clearance, one may displace a hundred families and put back only fifty. Space has to be found for the other fifty, but, more than that, one must find space for the 100 in the first instance before the redevelopment scheme can be carried out. If one goes to semi-industrial areas of the kind to which I have referred, on the other hand, one may well find the small margin of accommodation which we need so much today for the comprehensive redevelopment of our cities.

    Another point which we tend to overlook is that buildings outlive their usefulness in a comparatively short time. Perhaps it was the wish of our forefathers that buildings should last for generation after generation. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington referred to the Victorian mansions which could be more profitably redeveloped. The Government should give some incentive to people to demolish property which is not being comprehensively and beneficially used. Here I think in terms of a scheme—I will not go further than that—by which a man can write off the value of a building through some form of taxation relief to give a financial incentive to him to tear down his building and start afresh.

    Instead of insisting on buildings which last a lifetime or two, we should indulge in buildings which will last, not necessarily as long as that but for twenty-five, thirty or forty years, which serve a useful purpose now and which will be cheaper to demolish in future and will give more incentive for their demolition and comprehensive redevelopment. We have a limited amount of land in this country. The amount fluctuates through coast erosion and things like that. But we can visualise the future for almost centuries ahead. We can see our population' increasing and shifting quite possibly, but I cannot understand why we should think that our children and great-grand-children will wish to live in two parlour rooms and bedrooms of today's shape.

    At present, the policy is to build semidetached houses, with two rooms downstairs and a little kitchenette as a lean-to and two-and-a-half bedrooms upstairs. That is fine for the average family today, with generally one child or perhaps two children. What will happen if the family structure changes over the years, as it has done already since the Victorian era? Those houses cannot be converted to another use or adapted. They will become useless or unnecessary and it may be that the people who live in them in future will be in cramped accommodation. We are not looking nearly far enough ahead to allow for flexibility. We do not know how transport conditions will change.

    The hon. Gentleman is making some interesting and controversial suggestions. His argument boils down to reducing the standards of building compared with what they were in past years. If his wish is to provide complete flexibility in future to allow for an expansion of population, is not the logic of his argument to house the present generation in tents, which can be demolished without any cost to future families? If he envisages a complete revolution in building standards—I know that the hon. Gentleman is professionally interested in this matter—he must take into account the aesthetic standard of living as distinct from physical accommodation.

    If the hon. Gentleman goes up to the River Forth he will see two bridges there. One of them is a magnificent edifice which has so much steel in it that the weight of the train going over it does not matter. The steel is there to hold the bridge up. In days gone by one would have said that the new bridge which runs parallel to it was skimped in design, was sub-standard and goodness knows what else. Yet its design is modern. Modern design and flexibility does not necessarily mean substandard work or going back to draughty tents. Very few people in this country use steel to build houses with curtain walls. It is possible to do that. I do not propose to go into the byways of design. To change our ideas of design and to try to change the architectural profession would need a considerable effort from many quarters because we are very hidebound in some of our methods. We love our nine-inch brick walls. However, having got people to change their attitude and to look a little further ahead, I do not see why we need go down the stony road of ruin. We might do; it depends what party is in power at the time.

    My last point concerns planning decisions, which take an interminable time. There may be good reason for this. Very often these matters are taken in a small, local context until they reach the stage of a planning appeal. I cannot help feeling that justifiable argument could be put forward for the Ministry to think in terms of regionalising planning rather than leaving it at the level of the borough or small local authority areas.

    I do not go as far as those who allege bribery and matters of that kind. Many of our local authority and planning officials are of a high standard and do a good job of work. But the pressures that they are up against, forgetting for the moment monetary pressures or pressure from councillors—[An HON. MEMBER: "And their friends."] I know that councillors have friends, but the pressures that they are up against introduce a parochial instead of an overall attitude. Very often, they look over their shoulders at the question of rateable value and there is a tendency to feel that development should be brought within their boundaries when, logically, it should be outside them.

    I do not blame them for those pressures, but they exist. They could to some extent be overruled if we had more regional planning. I should hate to see it coming all the way to Whitehall. There must be a happy medium somewhere. I have a healthy respect for my Principality, in which I live. We might not get such a healthy respect if everything was centralised in one central Government.

    By regionalisation in planning, as there has been in many other things, we would get a tendency to more logical, comprehensive development of areas. In that way, with the internal development of the towns and cities, the pressures would be taken away from the green belts and it would be possible to maintain them, do a certain amount of development in them and still achieve the desired result.

    9.32 p.m.

    I have followed the excellent speeches Which have been made on this subject, but it is unfortunate that most of them have been devoted to the South. The hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Rees) mentioned demolition. I could find him an area between Manchester, Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne—the constituency which I represent—that would keep bulldozers busy for many years.

    We are in two worlds. There are those who want to come down and live in the urban areas of the South, and there are those who do not know about it. Those who do not know about it would soon be recruited to those who want to come down and live here. For the first time in my life I have lived in the South for three months on end, and I do not want to go north again. I have found so many people down here who have deserted us in the North for better conditions and an easier way of life and who are able to get through much better than they did before, that I am beginning to think there is something in it.

    The Motion refers to
    "in-filling in urban areas and the development of building sites which may not be entirely economic from the builder's point of view"
    It will not be long before we are discussing legislation to do with the filling of the canals in our part of the world. There is a marvellous crop of dead dogs and unsavoury objects in our canals, and we shall be bringing in legislation in 1962 about something that should have been dealt with forty years ago.

    We are living in two worlds. Here in the south of England people are looking for desirable sites and informing the speculative builder when they have found one, and the speculative builder comes along after getting permission to develop and before he has got its foundations properly into the ground the house is sold. That happens anywhere south of London. They do not come up to our part of the world. They have more sense.

    But this has got to be dealt with. Somebody has got to deal with it sooner or later. What is the use of people talking in this House about the undesirability of people coming down from the North to the London area and to the South and yet doing nothing about improving the conditions in the North? On Monday morning I made a tour round Crawley, the new industrial estate, to compare it with the miles of old houses and industrial property which we have up in the North and which should have been pulled down ages ago. There are two different worlds in this country.

    I make a plea to the Minister again to consider the desirability of doing something to tip the balance in favour of those areas such as ours which find it so difficult to do their redeveloping now. It is all very fine to say it may not be entirely economic from the builder's point of view, but who is going to finance it? When the local authority has to borrow at 6¾ per cent. it is not on. It is never going to be unless there is a real, supreme effort to deal with these old-established areas in the North.

    We in our district are sick and tired of this talk of green belts and the rest when that applies to areas in the South which are so favoured. We want a new approach, if possible, whether by a Commission or whatever it is, to give us some encouragement to go ahead and to plan a decent life for those people who are living there. I make this appeal, to the Minister, "While you are considering this question of the green belt, find us one in our area." Because we have not got one. It is up to the Minister to do it, and I would ask the Minister to have a try.

    9.39 p.m.

    I should like to commence by adding my congratulations to those already expressed to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon). I think that in discussing these green belts there is some danger in regarding them purely as a method of preserving the land which is covered by the designation on the map, because I think that if they are to serve their purpose—and, more important, if they are to survive the pressures which we have all been discussing this evening—it is absolutely essential that they should be related to the use of the land on either side of the green belts. I think that by and large it would probably be fair to say that where the pressure is greatest the need for a green belt is greatest.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) referred to the problem of the commuters with regard to London. What are we doing about this problem? We are encircling London with a green belt which we know will be pierced in the next three, four or five years in every direction by motor roads so that the people living beyond the green belt, where the policy is to make more and more land available for building, will be commuting to London with greater ease than those living in the green belt today. We are in danger of creating a situation in which the last state may be worse than the first.

    The Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend urges the hastening of the process of designation, and this ties in with the remarks of some hon. Members about the necessity of hastening the approval of the development plans. There is no doubt that some degree of definiteness helps both local planning authorities and individual people living in the areas who may be applicants for planning permission. The local planning authorities are helped to resist the pressure. Where green belts are definite, and applicants are helped because the more they know where they stand in these matters the less likely they are to feel aggrieved and the victims of injustice if they have refusals on the grounds that the green belt has been established. This is a very important factor, because planning is of its nature restrictive, and unless the advantages quite clearly appear to outweigh the disadvantages, it is extremely unlikely, I think, that in a democracy it can effectively survive.

    It is particularly so with the green belts. We shall merely perpetuate the problem of the commuter unless we make an effort to create beyond the green belts at least some of the attractions of the great conurbations such as the Metropolis. There is room for industry and commerce in these areas which would attract people not only to live but to work in them. Otherwise we shall end up, as in the case of many American cities, with the centre of the city devoted entirely to the motor cars.

    If we are to have sound planning—it is an immensely complicated problem and I do not say this in any spirit of criticism of my hon. Friend's Department—it is essential that we should have the closest co-operation between his Department and all others concerned. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said that the allocation of industry went to the root of where people wanted to live and where those services with which my hon. Friend is concerned have to be provided. I think that industry and transport go together. Whether the allocation of industry follows communications or communications follow the allocation of industry is a little like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. But I am convinced that we must not only provide this close cooperation, but that we should be seen to provide it. I hope that one day we shall see a permanent committee of the Cabinet representing the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Power as well as my hon. Friend's Department, which seems to me to have the responsibility with only the power to fill in the skeleton already provided by the transport systems and allocation of industry which are the responsibilities of other Departments.

    I should like to pass to the problem raised by the hon. Member for Ilford about in-filling in the villages. There is no doubt that in certain parts of the country where an area has been allocated as a proposed green belt it is regarded as a complete blanket against the development of any village that may happen to be within that belt. This is despite the fact that many of these villages have obvious sites which are no good for anything else, including indeed the sites of old houses demolished before 1948. But I add the plea that we should regard this sensibly and in proportion, because probably the greatest of all planning crimes have been committed in the name of in-filling. I know of a delightful village in Northampton-shire which originally had six or seven houses strung out in the centre of the village along the road to Northampton. This was made the excuse for building 49 houses, on one side, and 53 on the other, all in the name of in-filling, the result being complete ribbon development between Northampton and the village.

    Finally I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes), and I am sorry that he has now left the Chamber. I was fascinated by the way in which he was so particular to state that he could not agree that the Government's achievement in housing and slum clearance was in any way commendable. It is a long time since hon. Members opposite were in power or had control over the problem, and we know that when they were in power they had to deal with the serious difficulties of the post-war period. But they cannot deny that the housing problem was no less urgent and the need for slum clearance no less pressing. And if it is unfair to compare their performance with ours I do not think that it is unfair to compare, as they have raised it, the way in which they assessed the problem.

    I went out of the Chamber to try to find out. This was the assessment of the then Minister in charge:
    "I confidently expect that before the next election every family in Great Britain will have a separate house."
    That was in May, 1946. In July, 1946, the same Minister said:
    "When the next election occurs there will be no housing problem in Great Britain for the British working class"
    In October he said:
    "I give you this promise: that by the next General Election there will be no housing shortage as far as the mass of British people are concerned."
    We have heard the Parliamentary Secretary's assessment of the situation, I think it may be described as justifiable pride of achievement but certainly no complacency, and that gives me infinitely more confidence for the future than anything that has emerged from hon. Members opposite. We do not begrudge them their myths. They need to keep cheerful. We like to see the hon. Member for Anglesey keeping cheerful. We do not begrudge him his make-believe or, as one of my hon. Friends called it, his "justification by words."

    9.47 p.m.

    The hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) did well in introducing this interesting subject. Already much has been said about green belt policy and I do not intend to repeat it. I should like to comment briefly on the references to the use of agricultural land for industrial and other purposes, because I consider that this is of paramount importance to the country and especially to my own area.

    Emphasis has been placed too long on building new factories in the wrong areas and especially in the highly populated areas where land prices are scandalously exorbitant and where land is scarce. In Norfolk there is plenty of land where prices are not nearly as high as they are in some of the areas which have been discussed this evening. I believe that in Norfolk we have the answer partly to the problem of the use of agricultural land for industrial purposes, because we have a number of small towns in the county, some of them in my constituency, including my own home town of Swaffham, which are desperately anxious to attract new light industry.

    There is land in abundance, and there are suitable building sites. In fact, we have been disappointed on a number of occasions recently. We thought that new industry was coming to our area, but at the last moment those concerned changed their minds and went elsewhere. We have land at the right price. What is more, at present we have a number of unemployed. In agriculture, the main industry in my constituency, we are now losing workers at the rate of about 20,000 a year over the country as a whole. In line with this, there are a number of unemployed farmworkers in my constituency, and we are anxious to have new light industry there to absorb those who become unemployed through the reduction in the farm labour force.

    Swaffham, therefore, has everything to commend it to the right type of light industry. The same applies to Down-ham Market, another small town in my constituency, which is very keen to attract new industry and has building land at the right price to offer and also some workers available. The same could be said about a number of other small towns in Norfolk.

    An hon. Member opposite spoke of the importance of trying to keep the price of building land at a reasonable level. I think that if light industry could be attracted or diverted to areas such as I have described in Norfolk, it would help to that end.

    I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will bear in mind what I have said in this brief intervention, that Norfolk can help to solve the problem. As a representative of Norwich, the capital city of our county, the hon. Member should know that what I say is correct, and so I trust that he will bear in mind the observations which I have made, and use his influence to divert more industry to Norfolk.

    9.52 p.m.

    I was fortunate some time ago to have an Adjournment debate about green belts. I shall not refer to that tonight. What I want to do is to draw attention to the problem of parish councils.

    I do not believe that parish councils are consulted enough by rural district councils and county councils. To illustrate the extent to which one does not have such consultation, I quote a book entitled "The Parish Councils Review", which says:
    "Representation of a parish on the rural district council does not guarantee that the parish council, itself, will be informed of any applications, and the statement evades the issue."
    That is true.

    In my own village of Moreton Morrell we were suddenly presented with a fait accompli. Forty houses are to be built there. There had been no consultations about this, and no one knew anything about it. That is entirely wrong. People living in villages should be consulted. They are fond of their village and love their countryside. Surely they should be consulted.

    Because they are prepared to defend themselves, which the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is not.

    I agree that this is a small thing, but we have our little church school of which we are very proud. We support it. Through hard work we obtain the money to keep it going. If the population of our small village is going to be increased—

    —ought we not to be consulted about the way in which the village is to be developed? Will our school be big enough? Why should we contribute towards this church school and make it a going concern when we do not know what is to happen? There is no consultation from the rural district council to the parish council.

    There are council houses in the village, and very good houses they are. There are also some agricultural houses, built by the Warwickshire County Council, but they do not match up with each other. They are of entirely different design and do not fit in with the design of the village. These council houses have very nice gardens and the people work hard in them. They have dug them and planted them. Only the other day, however, a cursory note came from the rural district council to these unfortunate individuals saying that half of their gardens would be taken away. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Of course, it is a shame. That sort of thing should not happen.

    Next, I come to the design of the houses. In so many instances they do not fit in with the village. This is quite unnecessary, because in the village of Aynho, in Oxfordshire, some standard houses were built in ordinary brick and faced with stone so that they could fit in with the normal design of the rest of the village. Why cannot we do more of this and have more consultation from the county council to the rural district council and right down to the parish council? Time is short Mr. Speaker, and I do not wish to overstep my own time. There was much I wished to say, but I must curtail my remarks.

    We are assured, as I was assured in reply to a Question I raised some time ago, that we have representation on our councils. Indeed we do, but they do not always report back and we get no information. What I suggest to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is that unless these rural district councils "play ball" with the parish councils, legislation must be brought in to see that they do.

    rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

    Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

    Question put accordingly and agreed to.

    Resolved,

    That this House, recognising the commendable progress that has been made in housing and slum clearance in recent years, and the shortage of suitable sites for all kinds of building in a country as small as Great Britain, urges Her Majesty's Government to hasten the process of designating Green Belts in order to prevent sporadic development, and to take measures to stimulate in-filling in urban areas and the development of building sites which may not be entirely economic from the builder's point of view, in order to preserve agricultural land on the outskirts of towns and villages without slowing the pace of building.

    Business Of The House

    Motion made, and Question put,

    That the Proceedings on the Education Bill be exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the

    Division No. 96.]

    AYES

    [10.0 p.m.

    Agnew, Sir PeterGoodhart, PhilipPitman, Sir James
    Aitken, W. T.Gower, RaymondPowell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
    Allason, JamesGreen, AlanPrior, J. M. L.
    Atkins, HumphreyHamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
    Balniel, LordHarris, Reader (Heston)Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
    Barlow, Sir JohnHastings, StephenPym, Francis
    Barter, JohnHendry, ForbesQuennell, Miss J. M.
    Batsford, BrianHicks Beach, Maj. W.Ramsden, James
    Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)Rawlinson, Peter
    Biffen, JohnHirst, GeoffreyRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
    Bishop, F. P.Hobson, Sir JohnRees, Hugh
    Black, Sir CyrilHolland, PhilipRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
    Bossom, CliveHollingworth, JohnRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
    Bourne-Arton, A.Hopkins, AlanRussell, Ronald
    Box, DonaldHornby, R. P.St. Clair, M.
    Brewis, JohnHughes-Young, MichaelScott-Hopkins, James
    Brooman-White, R.Jackson, JohnShaw, M.
    Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Jennings, J. C.Shepherd, William
    Buck, AntonyJohnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Skeet, T. H. H.
    Bullard, DenysKerr, Sir HamiltonSmithers, Peter
    Channon, H. P. G.Kirk, PeterSpeir, Rupert
    Chichester-Clark, R.Kitson, TimothySteward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
    Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Langford-Holt, Sir JohnStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
    Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Leavey, J. A.Storey, Sir Samuel
    Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Leburn, GilmourStudholme, Sir Henry
    Cleaver, LeonardLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryTapsell, Peter
    Cole, NormanLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
    Collard, RichardLilley, F. J. P.Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
    Cooke, RobertLitchfield, Capt. JohnTeeling, Sir William
    Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Longden, GilbertThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
    Corfield, F. V.Loveys, Walter H.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
    Costain, A. P.Lucas, Sir JocelynTiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
    Coulson, MichaelMacArthur, IanTouche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
    Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyMcLaren, MartinTurner, Colin
    Craddock, Sir BeresfordMaclay, Rt. Hon. Johnvan Straubenzee, W. R.
    Critchley, JulianMacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverMacpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Vickers, Miss Joan
    Curran, CharlesManningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
    Currie, G. B. H.Markham, Major Sir FrankWakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
    Dalkeith, Earl ofMarples, Rt. Hon. ErnestWalder, David
    Dance, JamesMawby, RayWalker, Peter
    Deedes, W. F.Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald
    Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Wall, Patrick
    Drayson, G. B.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Ward, Dame Irene
    du Cann, EdwardMore, Jasper (Ludlow)Webster, David
    Duncan, Sir JamesMorgan, WilliamWell, John (Maidstone)
    Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir DavidMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesWhitelaw, William
    Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)Nabarro, GeraldWilliams, Dudley (Exeter)
    Errington, Sir EricNeave, AireyWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    Farr, JohnNicholson, Sir GodfreyWise, A. R.
    Finlay, GraemeOsborn, John (Hallam)Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
    Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Woodnutt, Mark
    Gammans, LadyPage, Graham (Crosby)Worsley, Marcus
    Gibson-Watt, DavidPannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
    Glover, Sir DouglasPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Percival, IanMr. Peel and Mr. Gordon Campbell.
    Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)Pilkington, Sir Richard

    NOES

    Ainsley, WilliamDavies, Harold (Leek)Grey, Charles
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Davies, Ifor (Gower)Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
    Awbery, StanDelargy, HughGriffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
    Beaney, AlanDempsey, JamesHall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
    Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Diamond, JohnHannan, William
    Blackburn, F.Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Hayman, F. H.
    Blyton, WilliamEdwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Herbison, Miss Margaret
    Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Hilton, A. V.
    Boyden, JamesFernyhough, E.Holman, Percy
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)Houghton, Douglas
    Brockway, A. FennerForman, J. C.Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
    Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Hoy, James H.
    Cliffe, MichaelGalpern, Sir MyerHughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
    Cullen, Mrs. AliceGooch, E. G.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
    Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Gourlay, HarryHunter, A. E.

    provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[ Mr. Redmayne.]

    The House divided: Ayes 166, Noes 115.

    Hynd, H. (Accrington)Pavitt, LaurenceThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
    Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Pentland, NormanThompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
    Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Popplewell, ErnestThomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
    Janner, Sir BarnettPrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)Thorpe, Jeremy
    Jay, Rt. Hon. DouglasProbert, ArthurTimmons, John
    Jones, Dan (Burnley)Rankin, JohnUngoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Redhead, E. C.Wainwright, Edwin
    Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Reynolds, G. W.Watkins, Tudor
    Kelley, RichardRhodes, H.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
    Kenyon, CliffordRoberts, Albert (Normanton)White, Mrs. Eirene
    King, Dr. HoraceRobertson, John (Paisley)Whitlock, William
    Lawson, GeorgeRoes, WilliamWilkins, W. A.
    Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Short, EdwardWilley, Frederick
    Loughlin, CharlesSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
    MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Skeffington, ArthurWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
    Manuel, A, C.Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Mapp, CharlesSlater, Joseph (Sedgefield)Winterbottom, R. E.
    Mason, RoySmall, WilliamWoodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
    Mendelson, J. J.Spriggs, LeslieWoof, Robert
    Millan, BruceSteele, ThomasYates, Victor (Ladywood)
    Milne, EdwardStewart, Michael (Fulham)
    Mitchison, G. R.Stones, William

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Neal, HaroldSymonds, J. B.Mr. Charles A. Howell
    Owen, WillTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)and Mr. McCann.
    Parker, JohnThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)

    Education (Recommitted) Bill

    Again considered in Committee.

    [Sir WILLIAM ANSTRUTHER-GRAY in the Chair]

    Division No. 97.]

    AYES

    [10.10 p.m.

    Ainsley, WilliamHoy, James H.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Robertson, John (Paisley)
    Awbery, StanHughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Ross, William
    Beaney, AlanHunter, A. E.Short, Edward
    Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
    Blackburn, F.Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Skeffington, Arthur
    Blyton, WilliamJanner, Sir BarnettSlater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
    Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)Jay, Rt. Hon. DouglasSlater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
    Boyden, JamesJennings, J. C.Small, William
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Jones, Dan (Burnley)Spriggs, Leslie
    Brockway, A. FennerJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Steele, Thomas
    Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
    Cliffe, MichaelKelley, RichardStones, William
    Cullen, Mrs. AliceKenyon, CliffordSymonds, J. B.
    Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)King, Dr. HoraceTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Lawson, GeorgeThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
    Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
    Delargy, HughLoughlin, CharlesThompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
    Dempsey, JamesMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
    Diamond, JohnManuel, A. C.Thorpe, Jeremy
    Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Mapp, CharlesTimmons, John
    Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Mason, RoyUngoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Fernyhough, E.Mendelson, J. J.Wainwright, Edwin
    Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)Millan, BruceWatkins, Tudor
    Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Milne, EdwardWells, William (Walsall, N.)
    Galpern, Sir MyerMitchison, G. R.White, Mrs. Eirene
    Gooch, E. G.Neal, HaroldWhitlock, William
    Gourlay, HarryOwen, WillWilkins, W. A.
    Grey, CharlesParker, JohnWilley, Frederick
    Griffiths, David (Bother Valley)Pavitt, LaurenceWilliams, LI. (Abertillery)
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Pentland, NormanWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
    Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Pitman, Sir JamesWillis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Hannan, WilliamPopplewell, ErnestWinterbottom, R. E.
    Hayman, F. H.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
    Herbison, Miss MargaretProbert, ArthurWoof, Robert
    Hilton, A. V.Rankin, JohnYates, Victor (Ladywood)
    Holman, PercyRedhead, E. C.
    Houghton, DouglasReynolds, G. W.

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Rhodes, H.Mr. C. Howell and Mr. McCann

    NOES

    Agnew, Sir PeterCampbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Dance, James
    Aitken, W. T.Channon, H. P. G.Deedes, W. F.
    Allason, JamesChichester-Clark, R.Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.
    Atkins, HumphreyClark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Drayson, G. B.
    Balniel, LordClark, William (Nottingham, S.)du Cann, Edward
    Barlow, Sir JohnClarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Duncan, Sir James
    Barter, JohnCleaver, LeonardEccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David
    Batsford, BrianCole, NormanElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
    Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Collard, RichardElliott, R. W. (N'castle-upon-Tyne, N.)
    Berkeley, HumphryCooke, RobertErrington, Sir Eric
    Biffen, JohnCordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Farr, John
    Bishop, F. P.Corfield, F. V.Finlay, Graeme
    Black, Sir CyrilCostain, A. P.Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
    Bossom, CliveCoulson, MichaelGammans, Lady
    Bourne-Arton, A.Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyGibson-Watt, David
    Box, DonaldCraddock, Sir BeresfordGilmour, Sir John
    Brewis, JohnCritchley, JulianGlover, Sir Douglas
    Brooman-White, R.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverGlyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)
    Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Curran, CharlesGoodhart, Philip
    Buck, AntonyCurrie, G. B. H.Gower, Raymond
    Bullard, DenysDalkeith, Earl ofGreen, Alan

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

    Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 14, after "courses" insert:

    "including courses for persons undergoing training as teachers".—[Mr. Willey.]

    Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 114. Noes 166.

    Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Mathew, Robert (Honiton)Skeet, T. H. H.
    Harris, Reader (Heston)Maudling, Rt. Hon. ReginaldSmithers, Peter
    Hastings, StephenMawby, RaySpeir, Rupert
    Hendry, ForbesMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
    Hicks Beach, Maj. W.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
    Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Storey, Sir Samuel
    Hirst, GeoffreyMorgan, WilliamStudholme, Sir Henry
    Hobson, Sir JohnMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesTapsell, Peter
    Holland, PhilipNabarro, GeraldTaylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
    Hollingworth, JohnNeave, AireyTaylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
    Hopkins, AlanNicholson, Sir GodfreyTeeling, Sir William
    Hornby, R. P.Osborn, John (Hallam)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
    Hughes-Young, MichaelOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
    Jackson, JohnPage, Graham (Crosby)Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
    Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
    Kerr, Sir HamiltonPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)Turner, Colin
    Kirk, PeterPeel, Johnvan Straubenzee, W. R.
    Kitson, TimothyPercival, IanVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
    Langford-Holt, Sir JohnPilkington, Sir RichardVickers, Miss Joan
    Leavey, J. A.Powell, Rt. Hon. J. EnochWakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
    Leburn, GilmourPrior, J. M. L.Walder, David
    Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryPrior-Palmer, Brig. Sir OthoWalker, peter
    Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Profumo, Rt. Hon. JohnWall, Patrick
    Lilley, F. J. P.Pym, FrancisWard, Dame Irene
    Litchfield, Capt. JohnQuennell, Miss J. M.Webster, David
    Longden, GilbertRamsden, JamesWells, John (Maidstone)
    Loveys, Walter H.Rawlinson, PeterWilliams, Dudley (Exeter)
    Lucas, Sir JocelynRedmayne, Rt. Hon. MartinWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    MacArthur, IanRees, HughWise, A. R.
    McLaren, MartinRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)Woodnutt, Mark
    Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnRopner, Col. Sir LeonardWorsley, Marcus
    MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Russell, Ronald
    McMaster, Stanley R.St. Clair, M.

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Scott-Hopkins, JamesMr. Edward Wakefield and
    Markham, Major Sir FrankShaw, M.Mr. William Whitelaw.
    Marples, Rt. Hon. ErnestShepherd, William

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

    I do not think that we can leave this, the major Clause of the Bill, without a very full debate. This is the Clause by which the Government claim to implement the Anderson Committee's Report—

    Order. Perhaps it would facilitate the work of the Committee if I were to remind hon. Members that this Bill has been recommitted to the Committee only in respect of certain Amendments which have been selected by Mr. Speaker, and that, as far as Clause 1 goes, we have debated those Amendments. Although it is correct procedure, by which I am bound, to put the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," it would be against the spirit of the duty of the Committee to go into a general debate on Clause 1 going beyond the Amendments that were recommitted for our consideration. I hope that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) will bear that in mind.

    I should like to pursue this a little further, because I am always anxious to keep in accord with the Chair. What I fail to appreciate is just what is the spirit of the Committee. We are discussing a matter of considerable importance—the implementation, in part, of the Reports of two very important Committees which sat for a long time before they made their recommendations.

    When you refer to the spirit of the Committee, Sir William, I understand that it is the intention of the Government to keep us all night discussing these important matters. If that be so and we are to be here all night, it would be proper, and in accord with the spirit of the Committee, if we spent some time now discussing Clause 1.

    Perhaps I should respond to that by saying that it is nothing to do with me at all how long the Committee is required to sit. Would it have been more proper for me to have used the words "duty of the Committee" rather than the word "spirit"? The Bill has been recommitted to us by the House in order to re-examine certain Amendments put down and not to reopen the whole discussion on Clause 1. That was not recommitted to us for reexamination.

    I am obliged to you, Sir William. I will pursue the matter a little further, because I do not wish to act in a way which would be out of accord with the wishes of the Chair. If we have a Ruling from the Chair that, in the circumstances, we should not pursue the discussion of Clause 1, I will accept such a Ruling, whether it is a Ruling dependent on a Standing Order or precedent.

    But if the position merely is that it is open to the Committee to choose which course it feels proper to take in the circumstances, and which course is in accord with the spirit of the Committee, then it is a matter which should be left to the Committee to decide.

    It is laid down clearly in Erskine May that when portions of a Bill are recommitted to a Committee it is incumbent on the Committee to consider those recommitted portions. But there is a contradiction in Erskine May in that it goes further and says that, when this has been performed, the Chairman of the Committee must put the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." That, obviously, lays the Committee open to hon. Members to discuss anything on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." But that would be contradictory to the first reading that I have given to the Committee, and it seems to me that it is my duty to put to the Committee this consideration: the House has given the Bill back for the specific purpose not of reopening the debate on the whole of the Bill but only on those Amendments that have been recommitted to us. Therefore, if on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" the debate is to go beyond those Amendments that have been recommitted to us, that is going beyond the spirit or the duty, as I see it, that is imposed on this Committee by the House.

    It is perfectly open to hon. Members to discuss the Amendments to the Clauses that have been recommitted to us, but I think that it is not open to reopen the general discussion on the whole question of Clause 1.

    I should like to pursue this point a stage further because we face a difficulty. Where no Amendment has been accepted the Clause has not been altered, so that in this sense a debate would not ordinarily arise on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Here we have the position that, notwithstanding the fact that Amendments have not been accepted by the Committee, nevertheless the Chair must put the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." This seems to me to invite a discussion wider than the Amendment to the Clause. Otherwise surely the House, in designing Standing Orders, would have provided that in such circumstances the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" should not be put.

    If I may intervene, we put down the Motion to recommit the Bill in order to have an Amendment to accept what the Opposition want on Clause 3. That is why we have recommitted the Bill, to try to help the Committee. The recommittal is in order to bring within the Bill something which we wish to give to the Opposition, because we think that a suggestion which they made in Standing Committee is sensible. Now the hon. Gentleman says that we want to keep the House up all night. I think he will recognise that that is not what the Government wish to do. What we should like to do is to hear the discussions on some very interesting Amendments which are still on the Paper.

    Obviously I am in the hands of the Committee, but I should have thought that it would be more interesting to the Committee at this time of night to discuss these other points which are very relevant and important, rather than go over those Amendments on which we had a good debate before seven o'clock.

    I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention which was helpful. I should make clear that the recommittal is on the selection which we understand has been made by Mr. Speaker. That is why the recommittal Motion was amended and accepted in this form by the Committee. This is not a matter of Government and Opposition. If the Chair makes its selection and then the House provides that there is still to be a debate on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill"—notwithstanding the fact that the Amendments have been rejected by the Committee—this seems to indicate that there should be some matters appropriate for discussion in such a debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    Perhaps it would be convenient to the Committee if I were to read out the passage in Erskine May by which I feel myself bound and to which the Committee should pay attention. It is on page 576 of Erskine May:

    "Only so much of the Bill as is specified in the order for recommittal is considered in the committee. If a bill is recommitted in respect of specified amendments to a clause, only those amendments and amendments relevant to them may be moved, and not other amendments."
    That would appear to make quite clear what the duty of the Chair is. Here I come to the contradictory part:
    "When the amendments have been disposed of in respect of any clause, the question for the clause standing part of the bill has to be put."
    It is rather a contradictory Ruling within which the Committee must keep itself. I do not see any great difficulty. On this Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," surely debates can take place on the Amendments that have already been considered but without reopening the rest of the Clause which has not been recommitted to us for consideration.

    Surely that is the one thing we cannot do. We have discussed Amendments. These Amendments have been rejected by the Committee and so they are not in the Clause. One thing we cannot do is to refer to Amendments which are not there. But this is our difficulty. If an Amendment had been accepted, then, obviously, it would change the Clause and, in the light of that, we should be entitled to discuss the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    10.30 p.m.

    I put it to you in this way, Sir William. By virtue of the fact that you have put the Question and there is no rule of procedure which says that that must be voted on at once, without discussion, it follows that there can be a discussion, and it is only right that there should be because we have reopened the Clause for the Amendments. It does not mean that we have opened any other Clauses. This is one of the dangers that a Government face on a recommittal Motion. If they agree to a recommittal in respect of any particular Clause, this obviously makes it open for any Amendment to the Clause, and it opens up the subject of the Clause itself, eventually, and rightly so.

    We have had an important discussion on the Amendments, and we have had the Government's view about the Clause, which most of us have never heard before, so that we are from that point of view entitled to examine the Clause. It may well be that, in the light of the fact that the Clause has already been examined, you, Sir William, may use your discretion in order to tend to shorten the discussion. I do not know. You may have that power. But I think there is no doubt that we must be able to debate it.

    I am not concerned so much about Clause 1, but I make my point about this Clause because, when six o'clock in the morning comes and we discuss Clause 8, which affects Scotland, I shall not want to lose any of my rights as a result of any undertaking which may be rather generally given at this point. I think that we have a right to debate the Question.

    May I draw your attention to page 561 of Erskine May, Sir William, the paragraph headed

    "Question for Clause standing part of a Bill"?
    As you have pointed out, the difficulty about page 576 on the recommittal of Bills is that the statement there about disposing of the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", is without any limitation. I should assume, therefore, that one would have to discuss the Question after recommittal within the general context of what Erskine May says at page 561 about the Question when dealt with in Committee, namely:
    "Debate upon this question must be confined to the clause as amended (or not amended), and must not extend to a discussion of the circumstances under which particular amendments were made"
    and so on. Therefore, with respect, it seems to me that the Ruling which you were trying to give to the Committee is not strictly correct because I think you were suggesting that it would be in order to discuss, on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", Amendments which we have already discussed and which were not accepted and which, therefore, are not part of the Clause unamended which is now before the Committee. I respectfully suggest that you were, perhaps, mistaken in ruling that what we are now able to discuss are the Amendments which were proposed on recommittal. I should have thought that that was not so.

    I see a difference between the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", when the Bill has been recommitted and the similar general Question in Committee. The Committee has had imposed upon it by the House on recommittal the duty of reconsidering only certain parts of the Bill, not the Bill as a whole. It seems to me that the certain parts of the Bill which it was decided by the House should be recommitted to us were the Amendments selected. If we go further than considering those to a consideration of the whole question of the Clause standing part, we are reopening consideration of the whole Clause; whereas the House imposed upon us only the duty of reopening consideration of the Amendments selected.

    I think I have said enough to make clear what is my view. I readily accept that it is not borne out entirely by Standing Orders. I readily accept—and my first remark was—that on my putting the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", the Committee is open to take a view contrary to mine. But, in view of what I have said, I think it may be that the Committee will see that my reasoning and reading of Erskine May is not without some force. I hope that we can proceed to debate the matter without spending more time on points of order. Mr Willey—

    May I raise a point of order before my hon. Friend proceeds? The last thing that I should want to be guilty of is of helping the Government on any occasion, but what has arisen tonight is a very important point. If what the Chair has said so far is true, then we should be in order in discussing the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and later the same Question in respect of Clause 2 and Clause 3, and later still in respect of Clause 9 and, indeed, of Clause 7.

    I venture to suggest to the Chair that the reason why we have this very complex arrangement set down in Erskine May is that if a Clause had been amended as a result of recommittal there would be some point in discussing the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," but if the Clause leaves the recommittal stage in exactly the same form in which it entered it there is, it seems to me, no point in having a discussion.

    Further to that point of order. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) raised a very important point about discussing something which had already been disposed of, but, if I may endeavour to reconcile his reading of the matter with the Chair's reading of it, is it not the case that since we did not alter the Clause by inserting these Amendments we are entitled to decide whether we will add the Clause as not amended to the Bill and, therefore, discuss the Clause and its deficiencies because these Amendments were not included?

    I will endeavour conscientiously to follow your advice, Sir William, but in so doing I assure the Committee that I am not endeavouring to set a precedent. I am speaking only for myself. I will confine what I have to say to subsection (2), which is the subsection to which we tried to make Amendments.

    We are here dealing with
    "full-time courses at universities, colleges or other institutions."
    As on the Amendments we were all concerned with further education other than first degree courses at universities and similar courses, I invite the right hon. Gentleman to say what he has in mind by the words "or other institutions." In other words, we failed to persuade the right hon. Gentleman to expand the definition, but now that we are faced with the subsection unamended I invite the right hon. Gentleman to tell us just how great a range of institutions the Clause now covers. It does not cover universities and colleges only but also other institutions.

    Before we leave the Clause, I think it is important that we should have some guidance as to what powers this will afford the right hon. Gentleman. I think that this is something that we might have had from the right hon. Gentleman in our discussions on the Amendments that have been considered on this Clause.

    The other two points I wish to raise are these, and they are of some importance. This, of course, is an enabling Bill. It enables the Minister to resort to regulations. We understand at present that the position will be that under the Clause a student will be entitled to an award if he obtains two A levels and if he is admitted to a university. What concerns many of us is what, in fact, is going to be the qualification to gain admission to a university.

    The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) was talking about training colleges and the high qualification which is now required for many of the training colleges. Many training colleges now require two A levels. I think we should get something further from the right hon. Gentleman on the discretion now to be exercised by the universities. Obviously there will be a large number of applicants who satisfy the basic qualification of two A levels, but what is to be done within the universities to guide the discretion they exercise over this wide range of applicants? This is something of considerable importance. We are concerned the whole time at the effect of the qualification for the universities upon school education.

    There is a good deal of concern about this, because of the requirements which may be demanded from some universities. I do not think we can just leave this as an improvement. We all recognise that it is an improvement, but we want something more from the right hon. Gentleman as to the shape this is likely to take in the next few years when there will be this intense pressure upon universities by people who will patently and overtly qualify for university education by the fact that they have gained two A levels at school. Will this question be referred to the Advisory Committee? Will there be continuous review of the qualifications which are actually to be demanded from particular and different universities?

    The third and final question I put to the right hon. Gentleman is this. It is not within the legislation but it will be effected by regulation. The right hon. Gentleman—and he had every right to do so—said that he does not accept at the moment the majority Report. He hopes that in due course he may be in a position to do so. Is this question left merely to be resolved by the annual tug of war between the Treasury and the Department, or could we have this referred perhaps for advice to the Advisory Committee?

    Those are the three points which I put. I concede the difficulties about the last one, but at the same time in discussion on the Bill in the House and in Committee the articulate opinion was expressed that it would have been far better to have accepted the majority Report of the Anderson Committee. I think that this is something upon which the right hon. Gentleman might endeavour to reinforce his own position by seeking support outside. These are three questions which arise on the subsection we sought to amend. In a sense, they arise out of the discussion in Committee on those Amendments. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to help us.

    I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) for putting his three questions in his clear and brief manner. The other institutions are those where the course is something which is really of the same kind of level as one gets in a university, but is in fact given in a specialised institution. Music and art are two obvious examples. I think that the whole Committee would wish that students who are going to take these courses in the Royal College of Music or the Royal Academy of Arts—institutions of that level—should be treated as though they were at universities. We shall have to look carefully at this, and of course we shall have to publish a list of other institutions which qualify under this Clause.

    The hon. Gentleman asked me what happens about students admitted to such courses who have not got two A levels. Will any of them by eligible for the grant? I think it is pretty clear—in relation, for example, to an art student, a young man or girl who has got great artistic talent but not two A levels. Will any of them be eligible for case like that we should not wish to stand by the two A levels, and special arrangements will have to be made.

    We would all feel that in an institution of university level the willingness of the academic staff to accept a student—in the case of a student of music or art—goes to show that the student is worth giving the course to. I do not want to see everything written down in the regulations. I should have thought a certain amount of discretion was in the best interests of our young people.

    10.45 p.m.

    The third question was a fairly important one: what hopes are there of abolishing the means test? Hon. Members know that as a matter of principle I would prefer to see no means test, but as a matter of practical finance at this moment, as I have explained before, the £8 million—£10 million—I do not know the exact figure; it depends on the number of students and how the new means test works out—which the Bill will cost per year seems to us, having regard to the very large number of families which will be excluded altogether as a result of the Bill—at least 10,000—about as far as we can go.

    Hon. Members who have studied the relaxed means test will agree that it is a very great improvement on what we have had before. We should like to go the whole way, but we cannot. Also, this is not a question which could be remitted to the Advisory Committee because it is manifestly part and parcel of the financing of the education service. We have a great many demands to improve the education service in different places. I say that none is more urgent than expanding our universities, and in this field that would come first. But let us hope that our affairs as a nation go well enough, within not too long a time, so that we may be able to propose to the House of Commons that we abandon the means test.

    Could the right hon. Gentleman be a little more specific about comparable courses? He mentioned music and art. All would think of the Royal Academy. But are there not any other professional qualifications? We were discussing earlier, though in a slightly different context, part-time aspects. I believe that there are professional qualifications which are normally considered to be equivalent in standing to degrees. I wonder how much discretion will be exercised in dealing with architecture, for example. There are also some other qualifications in the scientific world. There is a fellowship qualification in chemistry, for instance. There is certainly a chemistry qualification which is normally considered to be of degree standard although it is not a degree. No doubt there are others. Can we be assured that if students make application for courses which would lead to that kind of qualification the regulations will be broad enough to include them?

    I can assure the hon. Lady that we are taking the best expert advice in order to establish a list of the comparable courses which will satisfy the students concerned. It is our intention to get a comprehensive list of courses of degree comparability.

    I wish to put a short question to the right hon. Gentleman. The qualification which compels a local authority to make a grant is, I understand, a minimum of two A levels plus acceptance by a university. What is the position of the pupil who has two or more A levels but does not find a university willing to accept him?

    If there was no place for the pupil at a university, there would be no award.

    In the category of "comparable courses", does the Minister envisage theological studies at non-university institutions?

    That is one of the comparable courses about which we shall take advice.

    I confess readily to inexperience in dealing with a Bill at this stage, so that if I find myself out of order, Sir William, I shall immediately accept your Ruling. Here we have a Bill which is applicable to Scotland. So far, we have heard talk about A levels and things that we in Scotland do not in any way recognise and which do not form the basis of admission to universities. Scotland is being dragged at the coat tails of England in this matter. Why should we have—am I getting out of order, Sir William?

    I was wondering how the hon. Member would relate his remarks to the Clause.

    On a point of order. The rubric of the Clause is as follows:

    "Local education authority awards for first degree university courses and comparable courses in United Kingdom."
    Surely, it is in order for my hon. Friend to bring in the most important part of the United Kingdom?

    I was wondering how the hon. Gentleman was going to relate to the Clause his remarks on the most important part of the United Kingdom.

    I should like to ask a question concerning the University of Wales and the degree a bachelor of divinity. It is normally a first degree course, but in Wales a person cannot take a B.D. course or sit for a B.D. degree unless he has his B.A. degree. I think I am right in saying that the B.D. course is in some respects a first degree course, although it follows another first degree. I know that this sounds rather Irish, but I should like a ruling from the Minister about it. In essence, it is a first degree course. Would it qualify for grant?

    I know that the standards are very high in Wales. The hon. Member will appreciate that a student could not be allowed automatically to get one degree, then another, and then another again, and live on awards for a long time. We are ready to look at the kind of case that the hon. Member has raised and we will come to a decision about it when we publish our list. I recognise that there are certain degrees in theology which follow on, as it were, from another degree. We have that in mind and we will consider it.

    Will the House have an opportunity of discussing the list? Will it be debatable? Will we be able to add to the list if we do not agree with the Minister's proposals?

    Subject to correction, I think that all this will be in the regulations, which will be laid.

    I rise simply because I must express my fears about the Clause and the effect it may well have eventually in Scotland. We are in the position in Scotland that the people in charge of Scotland went to English schools. The only old school tie the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland can sport is an Eton one. The Secretary of State sports a Winchester one. The only knowledge they have of Scottish schools is what they gain when they are invited to visit them.

    Over the years we have seen Scottish education coming down to the English level. Although the Clause does not apply to Scotland, when they reach the ultimate and are right down to the English level this is what we shall be faced with. The more I listen to hon. Members opposite, who are obviously in close touch with the profession, the more I become alarmed at what might well happen in Scotland. We hear so much talk of wider horizons in education. Then I read the Bill. Clause 1 (2) says:
    "This section shall apply to such full-time courses at universities, colleges or other institutions in Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
    There is no educational institution outside these islands which is worth visiting. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that for a long time there has been a considerable interchange of students from Scotland to the Continent. Under Scottish rules and regulations we pay them bursaries. This is the English standard.

    I sincerely hope that the Minister will try to justify this limitation. He must do so before I can see my way clear to allowing it to go through without another two or three speeches.

    I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will help me about a case which, although imaginary, may have some foundation. I am thinking of a boy or girl who leaves school at 16 with no Advanced level pass. He—I will say "he"—enters industry and obtains the National or Higher National Diploma. He is then fortunate enough to obtain a place at London University. He does one year at the London University and obtains his D.I.P.

    It is the Diploma of the Imperial College of Technology in London, which qualifies the holder to attend a university other than London University. There is a sense of snobbery in London and, although the governors of the university allow the boy to attend for the first year, they may say that he cannot attend for the further two years and obtain his science degree, or whatever it may be. At the end of the twelve months the boy can take a degree course at a provincial university. Manchester is an instance, which has a very high standard. Because the governors of the University of London want to maintain what they call a standard, they may make the boy go away from London to obtain a science degree.

    I wonder what will happen to the boy who has to go to Manchester or another university for this purpose for a further two years. He is attached to industry. He may want to go for the Ph.D., but he may have difficulty in obtaining permission from the industry to take a further year's course at the university. What would happen if, regardless of the refusal of permission by the industry, the boy or girl decided to take a course for the Ph.D. at a university? Would that boy or girl qualify for a grant from any education authority? The student might be at London University or a provincial university or—I hesitate to say this—even a Scottish university.

    11.0 p.m.

    I do not want to rouse my hon. Friend's ire.

    The student's parents may have moved and they may be in a new authority area. Would the student qualify for a grant from a local authority?

    That case has nothing to do with the Clause, but, even so, I feel that the hon. Member should nave his answer. Everybody is agreed that we want more scientists and technologists, and therefore if such a case occurred I have every confidence that if the person applied to his local authority, assuming that it was in England and Wales, for I cannot speak for Scotland—

    —then that local authority, having the discretion to help him, would help him. If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind, although I have nothing to do with universities, I would help him if I could.

    I apologise, Sir William, if I digressed. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was wearing my Scottish spectacles instead of my English spectacles. I have since rectified the position.

    Following the Minister's answer, may I give a positive example? It is not precisely the same as that given by my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) but it is a case which has occurred. Difficulties arose and the local authority refused to make the appropriate grant. A student took his first degree in medicine and was then anxious—

    Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but this is a debate on a Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I hoped that it would be a restricted debate, but it is getting very wide indeed.

    I bow to your Ruling, Sir William, but are you indicating that I should not pursue this example, which has already been given? It might help the Minister if I gave a positive example, and it will take only a moment.

    This man took his first degree in medicine and then decided to enter the public health service, for which purpose he required a diploma in public health. The local authority ruled that as he had received his award for the first degree in medicine, he was not entitled to an award for a qualification which was necessary for what he regarded as his proper sphere of activities. The Minister said that local authorities would look sympathetically at such cases, but I have personal knowledge of a case in which the authority refused to make that award.

    Suppose that an individual switches from one course to another before completing his degree. Would that invalidate the award granted to him on his original choice of a degree-qualifying course?

    The second part of that question appears to fall within the Clause, but the first part, not at all. As to the first example given, it is not a first-degree course, and it is with first-degree courses that the Clause deals. If a student says, "I have a first degree; I want to take another," it is discretionary to give him help or not, because we must see whether or not he is abusing the public funds.

    In the second instance, it is a fact that from time to time students change their course of studies in the middle of their university career, There, I am confident that the local authority will take the university's advice. If the university says, "This man made a mistake; he started on one course, but it would be better for him to do another, and we are prepared to teach him in the second subject," I cannot but believe that the local authority would continue the grant.

    Subsection (2) states:

    "… and for the purposes of the preceding subsection the requisite educational qualifications, in relation to any course, shall be such as may be prescribed by or under the regulations, either generally or with respect to that course or class of courses which includes that course."
    I have been wrestling very hard to get some common sense meaning into those words. We have to compliment the Parliamentary draftsmen on many occasions, but this time I cannot be very complimentary.

    If those words mean what the average layman would probably think they mean, perhaps the Minister will explain one very important point. The subsection speaks of the prescription of qualifications, but we know that there are in England students with the requisite qualifications who are not being admitted to university simply because there is no room for them. As a result, I regret to say that they are now entering Glasgow University at the expense of Scottish students. If I were not a bit of an internationalist I might have something to say about that.

    The present position is that the Scottish universities are full up, and so are those in England and Northern Ireland. Are students with the requisite qualifications to be left without a university, or, if they are admitted say, to Dublin University, will they get the bursary award? If they will not, what is to become of the potential technologists and intellectuals, and the men of medicine, art, and so on? Our most important capital is not financial capital but human capital. If the universities
    "… in Great Britain and Northern Ireland …"
    are full up, will students with the requisite qualifications be considered for grant if universities outwith those areas will accept them?

    I do not believe that the Committee would ever wish it to be the case that academic qualifications alone should entitle any student to go to university. We all value the academic freedom of university staffs and there are certainly other qualifications—of character, and so on—which should be considered when admitting any man or woman to university.

    This subsection merely says that in the regulations we shall lay down the minimum academic qualifications. That will be one of the two tests which a student must pass. There will be students with two A levels who do not get offered a place in a university. We all know that. They can, under the Clause, go to Queen's University, Belfast, as a matter of right because Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Under another Clause they may be assisted to go to a university in Dublin, but not as of right.

    I can only tell hon. Gentlemen that, in my view—and I should have thought in the opinion of the whole Committee—one would always require the double qualification to go to a university: the minimum academic standard and the fact that the university itself wishes to take the student.

    This is pursuant to a point I put to the right hon. Gentleman earlier and it is a matter of critical importance. The right hon. Gentleman refers to interviews. This is most distressing, because we have evidence to prove that nothing is more misleading than the interview. Considerable research has been carried out into this matter, for not only is this an extremely difficult problem but it will become increasingly difficult in the next few years.

    Do I see the Minister shaking his head in disagreement? We have had inquiries into this and we can trace the academic records of people who have passed the interviews. This is most important. One does not want to minimise the importance of the interview, but advice tendered so far reveals that the most misleading of the tests is the interview. Thus it is no good the Minister falling back on those remarks about it being right that the universities should hold their interviews.

    The second difficulty is that the individual universities—and, in some cases, the individual colleges—hold interviews and there is often a great difference between the effectiveness of those interviews. Because of this the universities are driven to devise for themselves different criteria. The difficulty is that in the next few years there will be enormously more people with two A levels than the universities can accommodate. All these people will properly feel that they have the right to go to university. There will not be places for them and there will be intense feeling about this—the sort of feelings that have been expressed in the past about the II-plus examination.

    It is because we cannot discuss these questions when we debate the regulations—because we cannot amend them—that we now ask the Minister what he is doing about this problem. Everyone is concerned about it and that concern is shared as much by the universities as it is by the Ministry and local authorities.

    The Minister says that he is providing the basic qualification of the two A levels. The trouble is that this will not be an effective qualification for selection, because there will be four or five people with two A levels for each place. The right hon. Gentleman then says nonchalantly, "But there will be the interview". But we now have the position where the interview is the most misleading test and is not an effective guide. What is to be done? This is a crucial question for the right hon. Gentleman. He cannot leave this to the universities. What the universities do affects what the schools do. Because the universities are in this difficulty, the whole of our educational system is in danger of being adversely affected.

    11.15 p.m.

    What if certain universities or colleges were to say, "We will rely not upon two A levels but upon our own entrance examination "? We should then have a disparity between the schools throughout the country. Some would equip themselves specially for this entrance examination and others would not do so. Those which equipped themselves would have to condition their education for this purpose, which would be quite wrong.

    Suppose that some universities were to say, as they are doing, "We do not need two A levels; we need three A levels." This would go against the national policy, because if we got a requirement for three A levels we should get a different form of education in the sixth forms. This is the crucial question about sixth form education. This is the whole burden of the Crowther Committee's Report. To what depth are we going in subject education? We can go only to the depth which the right hon. Gentleman believes is right if we take two A levels. If we take three A levels we do not pursue these subjects to sufficient depth. It is critical to grammar and secondary education that we should have a decision about this.

    I do not concern myself particularly with what universities do, but suppose that some of the science faculties were to say, "We will not worry about three A levels; we will look to the degree of attainment in one single subject." Suppose the chemistry faculty were to say, "We will get the top people in chemistry." This is against the Crowther Committee's Report and against the objectives of the right hon. Gentleman. What is he going to do about it? It is his responsibility. He began by saying that there is a general requirement for two A levels. If we have this specialisation we get the whole abandonment of the Crowther Report which recommended the combination of numeracy with literacy.

    We must face this problem in which we have to bring together the universities and the schools. It is not sufficient to say in a nonchalent and offhand manner, "We are not going to interfere with academic freedom." If we leave this entirely to certain universities and colleges, they will be interfering with educational freedom because they condition what is done in the schools. Everyone is aware of the problem. Everyone is awaiting a lead. It is the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman to devise some way of bringing together those concerned with sixth form education in the schools, those concerned with school education and those concerned with university education.

    We know now that we cannot stop here, because we have to consider the broad field of further education. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is waiting for Robbins. We cannot. We have got the problem with us, and in the next two or three years it will be aggravated markedly. There will be considerable concern and anxiety about the problem. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, now that we have got this opportunity of raising this point, to give us more assurance than he has given so far.

    I think the hon. Gentleman knows that with regard to specialisation in the sixth forms, conversations are now going on, with our encouragement, between universities, vice-chancellors and the schools.

    I hope that that will assist in smoothing out some of the difficulties of specialisation, but it will not prevent the fact that there will be more applicants for places in universities than there will be places.

    The hon. Gentleman says that we cannot leave that to the universities. I tell him that we on this side of the Committee would rather have the universities than anybody else judge who is a good student to take.

    The right hon. Gentleman is aware of the figures in the Crowther Report which indicate that only 2 per cent. of the students at the older universities were found to be the children of semi-skilled or unskilled workers. Whilst the Committee will recognise that talent is not limited to those whose parents come in other categories, does the Minister feel that he has no obligation, in view of what he said about the interviews, to try to alter the present balance?

    I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that it is not so much the interview. As his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, most of these universities are looking at the marks at A level. It is that which causes the difficulty of specialisation, and it is that at which we are looking. The Committee can be assured that this is a problem which the university heads and the schools now realise is serious, and that they are trying to do something about it.

    The right hon. Gentleman is not going to get away with his offensive remark, "We on this side of the Committee believe that the universities are the best judges", and thereby create the impression that we on the Opposition side of the Committee are intending to interfere with academic freedom. This is not the problem. If he does not know, this is a matter which has been inquired into by committees set up by his Department, which shows that he regards this as a matter within his survey.

    What we are concerned with is how we provide that the universities will be properly equipped to make their choice, and what guidance we give them in the criteria they apply. This is the critical question.

    The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the new grading for A level. He talked about academic independence. These recommendations are being made for this specific purpose. It is he who is interfering. He is telling the universities that they ought not to ask for the actual marks. Does he deny that? He has done it.

    We appreciate the concern about this, and we appreciate, too, that this will be a difficult problem in the next few years. We do not think that the present steps are adequate. We know the concern shown by vice-chancellors, and we think that this is a matter on which he ought, for a change, to give leadership.

    What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do? He says, and we concede this, that some steps are being taken. What we are anxious to be informed about is that further steps will be taken before we get a fragmentation of the different qualifications that will be required for this difficult selection which will determine the future of a large proportion of young people who have attained the qualifications which entitle them to go to university but for whom no places are available.

    I doubt whether we can pursue this any further. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to think seriously about this and not hide behind clichés about "we on this side of the Committee" as he did yesterday when we talked about the London County Council. We want intelligence devoted to this question, and some help and assistance given to people who are worried about the responsibility being placed on them for the discharge of these obligations.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    I beg to move,

    That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
    We have reached the stage in our discussions when it is important for those of us who have the concern of the staff in mind to know the intention of the right hon. Gentleman. We are quite prepared, if it is the Minister's intention, to remain here through the night and to discuss in the small hours matters of vital concern to young people, but we feel that the Government should now indicate their intentions and if necessary we can pursue a debate on what they tell us they intend to do. If we leave such discussion until later it can cause grave inconvenience to those who look after the affairs of the House of Commons. I, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman to inform us now of his intentions.

    We ought to make a little more progress. This is an important Bill. If we do not get it, this will cause great difficulty in including in the general grant for this year the sums required. It is in the interest of young people that we should get the Bill in time, for that purpose. If we do not, the local authorities will not know exactly where they are. I should have thought that if we made a little more progress tonight—

    I see that there are hon. Members from Scotland here.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] Evidently they are pleased to be here.

    Let us make a little further progress. This is not a political Bill. It is a Bill needed for the young people and, if I may respectfully say so to the Committee, I do not think that it is is good for the House of Commons not to go on with a Bill which is wanted and which has practically no politics in it at all.

    I wish to support the Motion not only for the reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) but also for other compelling reasons that apply particularly to Scotland. The Minister said in an offhand manner that he saw Scottish Members present who would wish to deal with the Bill. It is disgraceful that by almost 11.30 p.m. we have not even started on any Amendments dealing with the Scottish part of the Bill.

    Hon. Members have only to recall what has happened since Question Time to realise the number of interruptions there have been to proceedings on the Bill.

    The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is well aware of the number of Scottish Bills that have been considered in Committee upstairs. He knows that because of our having to man those Committees there was an occasion when there was only one Scottish Member from the Opposition present during the Committee stage of this Bill and—making no contribution at all—only one Scottish Member on the Government side.

    Examination will show that out of thirty hours of Standing Committee Sittings on this Bill, only one hour was given to discussion of the very important Scottish part of it. It was not the Opposition's fault that it was so. The blame lies with the way in which the Government have planned the business for this Session. We object strongly that we have not had a chance worth mentioning of discussing the Scottish provisions in the Bill and that at 11.30 p.m. we should be asked by an English Minister of Education to continue the debate. Scottish people deserve better than that, and we object very strongly to these matters coming up in the House of Commons at this very late hour.

    11.30 p.m.

    I support the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison). This is a disgraceful manner in which to treat Scottish business. We shall reach the Scottish Amendments at 3 o'clock in the morning, or thereabouts.

    It might be six. I am being optimistic. I am more than surprised that Scottish Ministers should tolerate for a moment that the business of their Department should be dealt with in this way. The Under-Secretary of State smiles. This is not a smiling matter. In the first place, of course, the Under-Secretary of State should never have had these provisions put into an English Bill. We ought to have had a separate Bill for Scotland so that we could have discussed it with our customary thoroughness. I have no doubt that, as a result of our dealing with it in that manner, we should have had a better Bill than the English, since that also is customary.

    I cannot understand the Government's argument. They mismanage their business so badly that they cannot get the provisions they say are so desirable. We do not deny the desirability of these provisions, but that does not excuse the mismanagement of a Government who are so incompetent in their handling of the House that these matters do not come before us until this hour of the night. English Members can speak for themselves, but I am bound to say that we from Scotland cannot tolerate such treatment.

    I am sorry that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) is not in his place on the Government benches. He commented the other day that Scottish Opposition Members looked rather pale. Of course, if we have to stay up night after night because of the incompetence of the Government, while he is sleeping in his bed, what does he expect? All consideration of these matters and attempts at improvement are left to the Opposition. We never hear anything from Scottish Tory Members. It is asking too much to demand that we sit up night after night and then devote the mornings also to the numerous Committees on which Scottish Members serve.

    Most Scottish Members on this side of the Committee do a fourteen-hour day in the House of Commons, day after day, from ten in the morning until eleven or midnight at night. We do not do it on just one day of the week, or occasionally, like the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) who makes so much noise when he is here that everyone thinks he is always here. Scottish Members are here for fourteen hours every day during the week, with the exception of Fridays, and quite a number of them are here on Fridays.

    They have the same place to go to as the hon. Member has, but they come here to try to serve the interests of their Scottish constituents. It is a very difficult fight to get justice for Scotland out of an English Parliament, and the manner in which this Parliament is behaving provides all the argument in the world for our meeting up in Edinburgh—

    —where we could deal with these matters in the right way at a sensible hour. I am really serious about this. Of course, it has its lighter side and I do not object to the humorous touch, but fourteen hours a day in the House of Commons is enough for anyone. To expect us at the end of fourteen hours to start considering with any thoroughness at all the provisions concerning Scotland is really asking too much.

    I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, and to the Scottish Ministers, who ought to have some sympathy with our plea—they know it is true—that this is not the way in which we ought to conduct our business. Would hon. Gentlemen opposite conduct their private businesses in this manner? Of course not.

    I ask the Government to treat this matter seriously. It would not make a great deal of difference if they gave us another half day and said that tonight they would be satisfied with Clause 1 or Clause 2. But to suggest that we should carry on without putting any limit on the debate is not good enough. The right hon. Gentleman has not told us what he has in mind, whether he intends to get Clause 2 or Clause 3, or whether he intends to go on until we reach the Scottish part of the Bill. Are we to have a sleepy-headed Under-Secretary of State trying to provide answers at 5 a.m. to questions put by Scottish hon. Members on this side of the Committee? Is that the intention of the Government? If so, I think that it is something that we should protest against, and I am surprised that Scottish Tory Members tolerate this state of affairs.

    I do not know where they are, but I am surprised that they tolerate such a state of affairs in so spineless a manner.

    It is a disgraceful way in which to treat the Committee and, above all, in which to treat Scotland. It would not be so bad if this sort of thing happened to Scotland only occasionally, but it happens time after time. We find Scottish business coming up for discussion at 11 or 12 o'clock at night or even in the early hours of the morning.

    As I have said, I ask the Minister to treat this matter quite seriously and to give us a clearer idea than he has up till now of how far he intends to go. Up to the present he has not said how far he wants to get with the Bill tonight. I suggest that at least he should not attempt to reach the Scottish provisions in the Bill tonight.

    May I try to make a practical suggestion concerning how we could reach accommodation on this matter? There are, in fact, no Amendments selected on Clause 2. We could then proceed to Clause 3 on which the Minister has down a proposed Amendment which is, in effect, the same as the Amendment which we have on the Order Paper. It is just a matter of phraseology. There need, therefore, be very little discussion on that, as far as I can judge. We appear to be in general accord on it, and if we could get that tidied up properly tonight—and we could do it very briefly, I think—we could then all go home.

    We have had a very trying day. We had a very long interruption of business by a Private Member's Bill, we had a Royal Commission and then three hours on a Private Member's Motion. This is not the normal procedure when we are trying to deal with this stage of a very important Bill. We should make better progress if we got the next Amendment—which we could do quite rapidly—and then paid some attention to the pleas of the Scottish Members.

    We had very little discussion on Scotland in Committee owing to the circumstances which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) described. There was only one hon. Member in that Committee representing a Scottish constituency, and he had to take the Chair half way through the proceedings.

    I would point out to my hon. Friend that my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) took the Chair in another Committee to oblige the Government. He did so under very heavy pressure. Thus we sacrificed our one Scotsman on the Standing Committee on this Bill.

    I therefore suggest that it would be very reasonable to take on another occasion the Scottish Clauses of this Bill, which is very important for Scottish Education. A number of Clauses deal exclusively with Scotland. It would be reasonable to take them on another occasion and see they have some proper consideration.

    I should like to help the hon. Lady if I could. I understand very well that the Scottish Members are interested in their Amendments, and, indeed, we want to hear their arguments. But I cannot believe that they are any less fresh than English Members.

    We are quite prepared to go on with the Bill, but what the hon. Lady suggested seemed to me sensible. We could tidy up with the next Amendment and then get on to the Scottish Clauses. I should be ready to postpone further discussion if, while we were dealing with the next Amendment, it would be possible through the usual channels to arrange about completion of the Bill, if we could find more time. I think that the Committee should help me about this. This is a very important Bill for young people. What I cannot do is to ask the Committee to desist from discussing it tonight unless I have, through my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip, some assurance that we shall get the Bill on the next occasion that we discuss it. May I make that proposition, if it meets with approval, that while we are dealing with Clause 3, discussions take place through the usual channels?

    We have had some very mild speeches from my hon. Friends on the Front Bench—including my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis). We have to appreciate that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East at half-past ten tomorrow morning has to get himself into the Sea Fish Industry Bill Committee and, at the same time, the Scottish Committee on the Housing (Scotland) Bill. I do not know how many English Members are to be in Committee tomorrow at half-past ten.

    I wish that when he speaks the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) would take his moustache out of his pocket.

    The Minister should bear in mind that, though the Scotsmen can sit late into the night, we do not relish it, and that it would be the worst of all bargains if we did stay here to 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning to reach the Scottish Clauses and then the Minister suddenly realised what was happening and decided to go on no further. It would mean that the Scots would have stayed here since half-past three, as we have, taking an interest in the discussions on the English matters—[Interruption.] I do not know people more in need of education and attention to Education Bills than hon. Members opposite who sit there muttering and declaring their ignorance—certainly in one particular case, belying his name.

    This is a very serious matter, indeed I think it is most unfair, especially in the circumstances in which this Bill, so far as it affects Scotland, has been discussed, that we should be expected to do that, to go on to 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning to discuss matters which the right hon. Gentleman himself says are very important. How is their importance being judged? I hope not by their being taken at 3 o'clock in the morning. We must bear in mind that there has been practically no Scottish discussion of this Bill in Committee.

    11.45 p.m.

    It seems that we may have to wait until 3 a.m. until we come to the Scottish Amendments. But I do not see a single back-bench Scottish Tory in his place—

    I must tell the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) that if the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) does not give way he cannot intervene, because two hon. Members cannot speak at the same time.

    I am glad to see that the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) has just arrived. He ought to have been here all day to take an interest in education—

    —because he has a vested interest in education in Scotland. But do not ask me what it is.

    The fact is that the way the subject has been handled so far as Scotland is concerned is deplorable. We ought to have had a Scottish Bill. The provisions in the Bill are turned right upside down in respect of England and Scotland. In England bursary scholarships are to be dealt with by local authorities. In Scotland they are to be dealt with by the central authority—the other way round—whereas hitherto they have been dealt with by the local authorities.

    This is an important change, and it carries important implications that we should not be discussing at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. I sincerely hope that the Minister of Education will realise the importance of this to us. We like to do a fairly good job in the Committee work of the House. That is why we shall be at our Committee at half-past ten in the morning—to discuss Scottish housing; and when I say "discuss it", I mean discuss it—not like the Scottish Tories, not one of whom has opened his mouth in six sittings unless he has been in need of fresh air.

    The offer made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) is perfectly reasonable, and I should have thought that the Minister would have been glad to get rid of the Scots. All he need say is that he will not take the Scottish Amendments tonight, and the Scots will disappear. I know this savours of bribery, but there is his opportunity. If not, I am afraid that we shall be here, and we shall exercise our right to debate each Clause and each Amendment as they come before us.

    I address my remarks through you, Sir Robert, to the Minister and the Government Chief Whip. Those of us who are sincerely interested in the Bill appeal to them to accept the proposition made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White).

    I hope that my intervention will not be looked upon as adding further to the debate. It is a sincere attempt in a couple of minutes to add my support to the proposition. I hope that when my hon. Friend makes her final proposition the Minister will accept that the Scottish Clauses should not be discussed tonight. They have far-reaching implications for the people and children of Scotland. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite below the Gangway will be quiet for a moment, perhaps I might point out that we take this business extremely seriously. I appeal to the Minister and the Chief Whip to agree that consideration of the Scottish Clauses should not be started tonight but should be postponed.

    Sir Robert, we are in some difficulty. The Committee should appreciate that we have been discussing this matter in the absence of the Leader of the House and that the Leader of the House ought really to be here when these matters are discussed.

    We are talking about the Leader of the House. If the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) knew the circumstances which have caused the absence of the Chief Whip, he would be ashamed of himself, though it would be very difficult to conceive of circumstances in which he would be ashamed.

    On a point of order, Sir Robert. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) to persist in making interruptions, while sitting down, in a voice which is, unfortunately, audible?

    These witticisms thrown across the Floor are often a feature of proceedings in the Committee but they are not a substitute for a debate.

    Everyone knows that my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip is away from the House because of a family bereavement, and it is absolutely disgraceful for the hon. Member for Kidderminster so to speak.

    Further to my point of order, Sir Robert. Are such interruptions by the hon. Member for Kidderminster in order or not?

    We are tolerant of remarks across the Floor from time to time. Perhaps they are not strictly in order, but we all shut our eyes to them.

    May I make my position clear? I am relying upon the protection of the Chair. It is not fair to expect an hon. Member to address the Committee and be subjected to these repeated interruptions made from a sedentary position. I understand that it is against the rules of order and I appeal that they be enforced.

    I was merely trying to convey that any of us who have been here for any length of time know that some of the gayest moments are when remarks are made across the Floor. I agree that, strictly speaking, they are out of order?

    In view of the particularly offensive remark that the hon. Member has made in the personal circumstances which have compelled the absence of our Chief Whip, he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

    I have since learned that the Opposition Chief Whip is absent this evening because of a family bereavement. I humbly apologise and withdraw at once. I understand also that the Opposition deputy Chief Whip is in hospital with a coronary. I apologise. Perhaps the Opposition deputy-deputy Chief Whip, or his deputy or another Whip, could come and represent their interests.

    If we are to have a good spirit in the House and in Committee, the Leader of the House should be here. We have been discussing this matter for some time. We are in difficulty if we are to discuss this Motion, which might have been anticipated, with the Leader of the House continually absent. The right hon. Gentleman and others of us were concerned in the debate of the previous two days, but that is not an excuse for his not being present at this time of the evening when a matter like this is being discussed.

    To restore good feeling, the Leader of the House must be serious in discharging his duties. I hope that the Patronage Secretary, therefore, will convey as quickly as possible the necessity for the Leader of the House to be here whilst we pursue a discussion affecting the convenience of the House and Committee. I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties. We know well that decisions like this are taken by the Government on the advice of the right hon. Gentleman. It is a discourtesy to the House of Commons that we have been pursuing this discussion for some time without his advice.

    We are not prepared to discuss this through the usual channels, because we have objected strongly to the way in which the Government have enforced their will on the House and Committee. They have resorted to the Guillotine against the representations of the Opposition. Now, when the Government are in difficulty, they say, "Let us discuss the matter and agree a timetable." They would not agree the other matter.

    It is for the Leader of the House to decide in the light of the circumstances how he will facilitate and expedite consideration of the Bill. It has not been unduly held up by discussion by Opposition Members. As has been said, the Scottish Members were exceptionally diffident in our discussion in Standing Committee, but in spite of this, the Bill was in Standing Committee for twelve Sittings. The Closure was never moved or suggested. Everyone in Standing Committee recognised that we were having as effective, constructive and expeditious discussion as we could have on the matters arising under the Bill.

    It is preposterous to expect to dispose of Recommittal, Report and Third Reading before 7 o'clock. It is equally preposterous to pursue debate of these matters of concern after 10 o'clock. No one would reflect on the selection made by the Chair, but the Chair made a selection of ten groups of Amendments. How could those have been discussed before 7 o'clock? We were then expected by the Government to get on to the Third Reading debate after 10 o'clock. This Bill is very important, and considerable interest has been shown in it.

    It is even worse. We have had every provocation. We had the clowning of the Attorney-General, which lost us about an hour. We were then interrupted by the Royal Commission. Then Private Members' Motions intervened at 7 o'clock. The burden of the discussion is related to the Amendments taken by my hon. Friends from Scotland. The position in Committee was exceptional. This is a matter we must reconsider. Because of the small Standing Committees which are now the rule, we had only one Scottish spokesman on our side of the Committee. He was selected to take the Chair in the Scottish Standing Committee. He obliged the Government by doing so. We were left to consider Clauses affecting Scotland without a spokesman from Scotland on our side. In these circumstances, Scottish Members rightly expected that there would be thorough discussion of the matters they raised on recommittal and Report.

    Who is being unreasonable? It is nearly midnight. Are the Government going to pursue the discussions? If they want good will to prevail, they should show their sincerity by agreeing that the proceedings by adjourned forthwith. Alternatively, we will dispose of the next Amendment, which affects England and Wales, and resume our discussions on another day with the first Scottish Amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will now agree to adjourn while he still has time to meet the convenience of the officials and servants of the House of Commons.

    Question put and negatived.

    Clause 3—(State Grants For Training Of Teachers And Awards For Postgraduate Courses And Students Over 25)

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 2, to leave out "the age of twenty-five years" and to insert:

    "such age as may be so prescribed".
    The reason I move an Amendment of this nature, instead of another hon. Member, is that the drafting of my Amendment is more suitable to achieve the object which certain hon. Members opposite asked us to achieve. I do not think I need take very long. This provision refers to the mature State students scheme. This is a small but useful scheme which started in 1947. It provides a group of specially selected candidates who were not able to go to university at the normal time but have pursued their education since then on their own initiative and as opportunity offered. Most of us know some of these candidates. They have done extremely well. It is a good scheme. We want to keep it going.

    It was pointed out to us that the present limitation of the age of 25 perhaps did not meet every case in modern times. It was argued that there might be a young man or young woman a year or two younger than that who was a good candidate, and it would be a pity to exclude them just because their birthday fell on a certain day. Therefore, we want to take out the limitation of the age of 25. We will prescribe a more flexible age range. I think this precisely covers what the hon. Members for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) asked us to put into the Bill.

    12 m.