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Orders of the Day — Education [Money]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 28th January 1944.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Jenkins Mr Arthur Jenkins , Pontypool

I am sure that every Member will be grateful to the President of the Board of Education for having drafted this Resolution so broadly, but some like the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), who desired to speak to-day, will regret that the Debate is on so narrow a question, but the Resolution is broad, and it will present opportunities for Members when the Bill is in Committee. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) suggested that there should be a 100 per cent. grant. I hope that that will never happen; that would remove much local influence and control. I think it would be a very regrettable thing, because it would remove a great deal of the local interest, and our educational system would tend to become deadly uniform in character. On the other hand, I would like to ask the President of the Board of Education whether, under this Resolution, the obligations placed on the local education authorities by Clause 8 of the Bill can be carried out. Is there sufficient finance available, or are the grants high enough to enable all authorities in the country to carry out their obligations under the Bill? That is all important. It was suggested by one hon. Member that if the President of the Board of Education gave 100 per cent. grants he would then have the onus of providing the standards. I do not want a no per cent. grant, but I want grants of such a standard that every authority will be able to carry out its obligations.

We hope in this Bill to set a high standard of education. The main responsibility for that rests with the President of the Board of Education. We must never place upon any body a greater burden than we know they can bear. If we were to do that, we should be false to our trust. I know that the President is particularly anxious about this: no Member has a higher regard to the work he has done in connection with this Bill than I have; but I want to fix that responsibility definitely upon him. This Bill must not go on the Statute Book until he is absolutely satisfied that every authority operating under this Bill is able to carry out its obligations financially. Obviously, we shall have opportunities when the Bill is discussed in Committee, but I want the President to see that the grants are high enough to put every authority in such a position that it can reasonably be expected to carry out its obligations.