Clause 4. — (Central Advisory Councils.)

– in the House of Commons on 8th February 1944.

Alert me about debates like this

The Deputy-Chairman:

The following four Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for the Abbey Division of Westminster (Sir H. Webbe) may be discussed together: In page 3, line 12, leave out, "two," and insert "three.In line 13, leave out "the other," and insert "one.In line 14, leave out from "Monmouth-shire," to end of line.In line 17, at end insert "and one to advise the Ministers specifically upon matters relating to technical education.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I beg to move, in page 3, line 12, to leave out "two," and to insert "three."

This Clause is concerned with an important part of the machinery which will be available to assist the Minister in carrying out his duties under the Bill. It provides for the establishment of two Central Advisory Councils to advise him on general questions of educational theory and practice. The effect of the Amendments which stand in my name would be to establish a third Advisory Council specifically charged to advise the Minister upon all matters relating to technical education. I use the word "technical" in its broadest possible sense, and although I want to speak more particularly of the kind of technical education which relates to industry, I have very much in mind that this Council should also concern itself iintimately with the special forms of technical instruction and education which the technique of modern agriculture demands. Therefore, in much of what I say I hope the Committee will understand that when I use the word "technical" I also have agriculture in mind. We have already heard a good deal about the large additional powers which are conferred upon the Minister and his Department under this Bill. It is clear that in the future they are to be the dominant partner in our educational system. It is particularly because of the great influence and power which the Board must have in future over the work of local authorities and over our education in general, that a great many people, of whom I am one, are gravely concerned that the detailed provisions of the Bill give no indication that the vital importance of technical education in all its forms and at all stages is even yet realised by the Board of Education.

It ought not to be necessary to argue the importance of technical education. We are a great industrial nation which, because of our geographical position, has to grow all the food it can and to import what it cannot grow and pay for it by the products of its industries. It is obvious that the standard of living of our people, indeed, our continued existence as a great Power, depends fundamentally on the maintenance of our agriculture and industry at the highest possible level of productivity and efficiency. That is a mere platitude, but unfortunately it is a platitude which so far does not seem to have penetrated to the cloistered seclusion of the Board of Education. I would like to read a short extract from a volume of Hansard which hon. Members will realise from its binding is not of very recent date: We have a great Empire, a great Navy and a great position among the nations. That position depends upon the enormous volume of our trade and commerce. That volume of trade and commerce came to us in a time when we had practically no competitors, when the courage and energy of our people were able to make themselves manifest, with splendid results in the way of success, without the competition and hindrance which we now experience. But all that is changed. Nations have come up, furnished in a way that we are not, with education and technical training which we do not possess; and it is vital to our interests, essential to our position as a nation, and necessary for the preservation of our commerce, our Navy, and our Empire, that we should put ourselves on the same footing as these nations are on. These are the words of Mr. Haldane in the Second Reading Debate on the Education Act of 1902. They are as true to-day as they were when they were spoken. Here is the modern version of the same idea from the report of the Nuffield Committee on Education and Industry: On the economic side Great Britain can emerge from the present war with the hope of a steady addition in wealth and welfare to the extent, and only to the extent, that British industry is able to produce efficiently and cheaply a wide range of goods for consumption overseas as well as at home. … All plans for advancing these standards of living of the British people must depend in the last resort on the efficiency of British production and on the ability of British industry to sell goods in the world markets at prices which overseas purchasers are prepared and able to pay. … The vital factors in such a country as ours are the quality of the labour and the attitude towards production of the individuals who comprise the labour force at all levels and in all grades. I said a moment ago that the words of Mr. Haldane were as true to-day as they were when they were spoken 42 years ago, but that was an under-statement. To-day the position is even more serious than it was in 1902. Our competitors have multiplied, have become more efficient, have profited by our mistakes and have improved on our methods. Science applied to industry has made unbelievable strides. The great developments in the science of electricity, the internal combustion engine, modern machine tools, the discovery of the almost endless possibilities of oil, the whole range of synthetic materials and new metals—all these things have fundamentally altered the character of industry itself. Business management has become almost an exact science. The introduction of planned production, of mass production methods, of machine accounting and of statistical control—all these things demand in business management qualities quite different from those which were adequate to build the great industrial position which we had half a century ago.

What has been the response of our education system to these new circumstances and these changed demands? The response has been almost non-existent. As a result, the technical education of this country is by common consent to-day far below that of any other industrial nation, and so far below that our great competitors, Germany and America, as to present our industrialists with an impossible problem. The quality of our industrial workers at all levels I believe still to be superb. I believe that they still possess, in full measure, the great personal qualities which enabled them to build British industry. In management we still have courage, initiative and imagination. In the workers we still have resource, painstaking perserverance and a skill and pride in good craftsmanship which is unique in the world. These personal qualities, however, unless they are backed by scientific knowledge and modern technique, are doomed to failure. We watched, in the years immediately before the war, British industry fighting very often a losing battle with an educational equipment which is completely out of date and vastly inferior to that which its competitors possess.

There is another reason for stressing the importance of technical education. Not only is technical education, which comes close to being vocational, neglected, but I believe that there is a growing feeling of doubt whether we are getting value for money out of our educational system as a whole. My hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), in the Debate on Second Reading, mentioned a rather alarming case of what was virtual illiteracy among a number of boys admitted to an institution in which he is interested. I know my hon. Friend very well and I am certain he would be the last to wish to draw too strong a deduction from individual cases, and I am sure that cases of illiteracy of that kind among children who are supposed to have passed through our educational system are rare. I am certain, however, that there are all over the country a large number of boys and girls, who have passed through two or more stages of our educational system, who come out at the other end with much less commonsense, adaptability and ordinary knowledge than we think they should have and than the great effort expended on them should have given them. I do not attribute the blame for this to lack of ability on the part of the teachers. I am convinced that it arises from the lack of realism of much that is taught and from the failure of our education in schools to link up with the real world outside. It is difficult for the pupils as well as for others to see the connection between a great deal of what they are taught in the schools and the real world outside—the world of radio and television, of the motor car and the aeroplane, of bakelite and artificial silk.

This lack of realism is having the most serious results. We must attribute it largely to the overwhelmingly academic character of the work of our secondary schools, which set the pace of and influence very greatly the work of the primary schools. This devotion to the methods and the curricula of the Middle Ages, so beloved and so sedulously fostered by Whitehall, has not only had a baneful effect upon other branches of education, but it has, among other things, I believe, done more than anything else to prolong, and indeed to promote, that worst of all forms of snobbery which gives to the man who works in a black coat a higher social status than to his brother who works in dungarees.

On that point I would like to read another extract from the Nuffield Committee's Report: The bias of the educational system has been recently, to a growing extent, against entry to manual occupations, and in favour of directing the boys who are above average intelligence into non-manual work. We protest against this, except where the non-manual occupations are such as to call for a high degree of intelligence; but to the extent to which it is the result of a supposed prestige of non-manual work, even of a relatively unskilled kind, we believe the results to be most unfortunate. The only comment I would make on that subject is that I am not at all sure whether the enhanced prestige of non-manual work is a consequence of this direction of children into the academic sphere, or, as is rather suggested there, the cause of it. One thing is quite certain, that the practical result of this mediaeval policy has been to divert the best brains from the secondary schools into the professions—law, banking, and accountancy, and that it has had a calamitous effect on British industry. I should be the last, particularly in this assembly, to depreciate the value of lawyers, bankers and accountants, because they are an essential part of modern industrial development, but we have to recognise that they are the safety-first brigade. The purpose and function of professional men in industry is to keep their hands on the brakes. We have been producing too many brakesmen. We want some more engine drivers.

What does the Bill do about it? In precise terms, I believe, virtually nothing at all. I am sure that my right hon. Friend ort the Parliamentary Secretary would tell me that he finds himself in the same difficulty as confronted the framers of the 1902 Bill and the Members of the Royal Commission, the difficulty of defining technical education.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I think he is getting a little wide of the subject of the Amendment. I do not think it entitles us to discuss all kinds of education and Education Bills of the past as well.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I am sorry to have got out of Order. I am coming at the moment to the question of machinery.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

On a point of Order. Is it your Ruling, Mr. Williams, that in the discussion that follows we should be restricted to the point that we should have the proposed committee, leaving us without any opportunity of discussing why we should have a committee dealing with technical education alone? Does not the present argument of the hon. Member raise the question as to the kind of education that we should have?

The Deputy-Chairman:

It will be remembered by the Committee that when we were deciding which Amendment we should take I suggested taking the one on line 17, which deals with a far wider type of technical education, and that is why I thought that we might have one discussion, and is why I have allowed a certain amount of latitude; but there must be a limit.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I will certainly do my best not to wander again into subjects which I think may not be justified in the Debate later on. I have said all I wish to say as to the importance of technical education and I want now to address myself to the position under the Bill and to the provision which is made for securing that technical education shall have proper consideration in the administration of the great reforms for which the Bill provides.

As I said, I find nothing specific in the Bill, and I am satisfied as to the reasons which the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary would give, about the difficulty of defining technical education so as to make specific provision for it in a Bill, and that if one could, it might be undesirable to do so. What that means is that in this matter, as in other matters, the fate of technical education under the Bill depends not on the provisions of the Bill but entirely upon the way in which it is administered by the Board. If I had confidence in the Board's administration in this matter I should not be moving this Amendment, and I should certainly not be asking the Committee to listen to so long a speech; but, quite bluntly, I say that I have no confidence in the administration of the Board in regard to technical education. That is a strong statement to make, and I hope that I shall be successful to some extent in justifying it.

The history of the Board of Education in the last 50 years is lamentable. In the Bill of 1902 there was implied the fundamental ideal which pervades the present Bill, which is that it would be so administered as to provide education for every child, according to its needs and aptitudes. There is no doubt, from the Debate which took place on the 1902 Bill, that everyone expected there would be a substantial measure of technical education taking its proper place as part of the general scheme. What happened? The Board immediately defined secondary education in such a way as virtually to exclude any technical education whatever. When junior technical schools at last forced recognition from the Board, they were hedged around by Regulations that deliberately made them a dead-end. They were forbidden to plan courses which would lead to the university, to the professions, or indeed to full-time technical education itself. They were to be a complete dead-end. For at least 30 years, no technician or technologist—I speak under correction, but I have known the Board fairly well for that time—has occupied a position of responsibility in the Board's hierarchy. A technical department was formed in the Board, and immediately starved. For 16 years, not a penny of grant in aid of any new technical institution was ever given by the Board of Education—not one penny. It took a world war to get the first penny, but the history of the years since the last war carry on the same terrible story.

If the Committee had time and would bear with me, I could tell a fearful story of those years. I will give only one instance. At the beginning of this war, a large new technical institute was opened in a town in an industrial part of England. I must not mention its name. The institute was opened in 1940, but the plan and scheme for it were prepared in 1898 and it was not till 1935 that the Board gave consent to the scheme going ahead. That scheme took 37 years, between the time when it was prepared and the time when it was finally approved. That is typical of the attitude of the Board of Education towards technical education in those days.

I may be told that all that has changed and that there is a new outlook in the administration. When I read the White Paper I had some hope, but upon reading it more carefully I can see no sign of repentance. It says: The country cannot afford to rest content with a system under which the technical education of its potential skilled workers, industrial leaders, or commercial executives is left so largely to the initiative of the young employees themselves. The vocational training that has come into being within the system of public education has, in the main, not come in response to any demand from industry or commerce"— nor, may I add, from any initiative from the Board of Education— but has depended on the enterprise and tenacity of individual students … No doubt this system—if it can be called a system—has brought forward many young men and women of high intelligence and sturdy character. That is splendid, but what did the Board offer to do about it? Here is what they say: What is wanted, if the full value is to be obtained from the developments envisaged, is their arrangements for training, and should that industry and commerce should review co-operate in associating the technical colleges more fully with the industrial and commercial life of the country. Well, industry is still waiting. Learned professions, such as the mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and others have had their committees, have prepared and published their plans, and have approached the Board of Education. They are now waiting for the other half of the picture, the technical colleges with which they can associate, but there has been nothing, no promise at all. If we want to see the mental attitude of the Board of Education at the present time, we shall find it in one very short sentence which I should like to read——

The Deputy-Chairman:

I do not want to see the Bill take 35 years and I must point out to the hon. Member that on these particular Amendments we must not discuss the points of other Amendments.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

It is very difficult for me to justify the machinery of the Committee which it is proposed to set up without criticising the machinery that already exists.

The Deputy-Chairman:

It is in Order for the hon. Member to bring in a certain number of points about what has happened in the past, but we cannot have a discussion upon such wide issues without hon. Members making almost Second Reading speeches. We must keep to the technical points.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Do I understand your point to be, Mr. Williams, as to the time that it takes to introduce the particular Amendment? It so, is that not a question for the Committee and not for the Chair?

The Deputy-Chairman:

Obviously it is. I was making the point that the scope of the discussion was being widened to such an extent as to become out of Order.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I will again endeavour to keep in Order. I feel very strongly on this matter and I am sure that the Committee will forgive me. I can have no confidence in the Board's administration because of the evidence which they have offered of unreadiness to do anything to cure what I regard as a very serious situation. There is only one further thing which I would like to mention in this connection. The Parliamentary Secretary made a speech a few weeks ago, I think at South Shields. I have had the advantage of reading the speech only in the Press, but I thought it was admirable. I wish I had been there to cheer him. My hon. Friend stated one fact, however, which to my mind reveals and completely condemns the attitude of the Board of Education on this matter.

He reminded his hearers that it was originally estimated by the Board that a sum of £2,500,000 would be sufficient for the developmen of technical and adult education for the seven years after the war. He went on to tell his hearers that after consideration, after discussion with industrialists and others who were interested in and expert in this matter, it had been decided that that estimate had to be multiplied by 14 and brought up to the figure at which it stands in the Financial Memorandum of the Bill. I submit that if an estimate is 1,300 per cent. out that is not a sign merely that the people who make it are not very good at estimates, it is clear and conclusive evidence they have not the first idea of the nature of the problem they are trying to solve. In these circumstances, as I say, I can have no confidence in the administration of the Board. That is why I ask that there should be an authoritative body whose job it would be to see that the attention of the Board is devoted to these matters.

I have only two or three more words to say. It may be said that the proposed Advisory Council itself as it stands could do this work. I can only say, speaking as one who had the honour of serving on the Consultative Committee for a number of years, that I am convinced that the new Advisory Council will have their hands very full with general educational questions without giving attention to this subject. It may also be argued that the proposed additional council I suggested would not have enough to do. I would suggest that they could be very active for 12 months merely asking questions—asking the Board, where are the great technological institutions in this country, of which Germany has dozens and America scores; what are we doing to stimulate research at the universities; what is being done to train the stream of research workers who are needed in industry? There are a hundred and one questions to which this proposed council could devote themselves. I am convinced that my right hon. Friend will need all the help he can get in this matter. He will find this is a particularly difficult job, because tradition and prejudice die hard. If he were here I, as one good Tory to another, would commend to him a remark attributed to Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, a remark which I am sure he would agree is in the best Disraelian tradition. The Air Marshal is reported to have closed a discussion by saying, "To hell with history, what is the problem?" I have tried to indicate what I conceive to be the nature of the problem. My right hon. Friend will earn the gratitude of the country if he can find the solution.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

The hon. Member has indeed opened up a very wide field for economic discussion as well as for the discussion of the meaning and purpose of education. I am sure that if I followed him, I should not have the advantage which the hon. Member has had, but I would like to make one brief comment. He seemed to suggest that the economic depression through which we passed in the inter-war period, was due to the character of our education—that a large responsibility rested upon it anyhow. I will not enter into a prolonged discussion on that except to say that I am quite sure that Britain had enough skill even in that period to provide the goods that could be purchased. I need only make this comment, that the skill that seemed to be lacking during the inter-war period so far as employment and the production of goods are concerned seemed to be released during the war period.

The fact of the matter is that the hon. Member has at the back of his mind the attitude, that we must in our educational system fit boys and girls, and men and women simply for the job of industry. That undoubtedly was the emphasis. I entirely repudiate that attitude towards the whole purpose and meaning of education. It is perfectly true that there needs to be, of course, an extension of technical education, but I submit, and it is the main point I shall make, that to segregate a national committee in this way to deal solely and wholly with technical education apart from all the other phases of the education service would be a disservice to technical education itself. Technical education—one could argue this for a very long time—in my opinion, is all the better, as it were, for being part and parcel of the whole educative process. Therefore, to my mind it would be in relation to the interests of technical education a retrogressive rather than a progressive step to have a separate committee set up simply for the narrow purpose of considering technical education. I hope I may be allowed to quote, to emphasise that point, a few very pertinent words from a book which, as many Members know, had a good deal of publicity, "The Future of Education," by Sir Richard Livingstone. The few sentences I wish to quote are, I think, germane to the principle embodied in the Amendment which the hon. Member has moved. Sir Richard says: So we get that clear and important distinction between technical education which aims at earning a living or making money or some narrowly practical skill and the free man's education which aims at producing as perfect and compete a human being as may be. This is not to despise technical education, which is essential. Everyone has to learn to make a living and do his job and cannot do it without training. He goes on: But they are not to be confused. They are both important, both necessary, but they are both different and yet to some extent they overlap. Then he goes on to give instances like French and other subjects, and shows quite clearly that there is an integration, as it were, in the educative process. I cannot argue this at length, for I should be out of Order in going into that deeply. But briefly, I say quite definitely that the whole trend, as I see it, in modern education is to see all the educative process as a whole, to get the subjects working, as it were, into a more complete pattern. Therefore I think it would be going back on the modern tendency, which indeed is progressive and which I think has shown itself in this war to be effective.

I am not afraid of the Board of Education so far as technical education is concerned. I tremble much more about the Board in the future so far as broad liberal secondary education is concerned. Pressure of events and the industrial necessities of this country will impel us to have some regard to technical education, but I say, finally, in the best interests of technical education itself: Do not let it be driven apart, do not let us have it separated. As I envisage the consultative committee, they will not be biased one way or the other, and that the idea is to have a balanced committee, people with experience of all the various phases and requirements of the educational system, and not only as a watertight system but in relation to the needs of the nation and the people as a whole. Therefore I say quite frankly that I am definitely opposed to the Amendment, and if it is pressed to a Division I hope my hon. Friends on this side will resist it.

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has informed the Committee he is not at all afraid of what the Board's intentions are with regard to technical education, presumably judging them on their past records. If that is his belief, he cannot be as interested in the future of technical education as a great many of us are on this side. I agree with the view he expressed that it would be an evil thing for the boys and girls of this country if technical education were made a hard and fast thing and no other education was envisaged. But that is not technical education in its modern sense. If he had visited a number of the junior technical schools which exist in London and many other parts of the country he would realise that up to about 15 or 16 years of age these children are receiving a first class general education with a slightly technical bias.

In every kind of school in the country after the age of about 16 a child is bound to undertake a measure of specialisation. I feel, and I think many of my hon. Friends feel too, that real central drive from the Board of Education is vitally necessary in order that the best kind of technical education can be available, not only for these youngsters but for the country as a whole and for the sake of our export trade. I would like to remind my hon. Friends who are not particularly interested in this form of education, that it will be our technical skill in the years to come which will keep this country going and help to pay for this improved system of education among many other things. I am definitely of the opinion that technical education generally speaking has been the cinderella of our educational system. Speaking generally such technical education that does exist is very good in many parts of the country, but it owes its existence almost entirely either to pri- vate enterprise or to a particularly enterprising local authority. There has been no initiative from Whitehall which has been responsible for that kind of development.

In view of the fact that in the post-war years the President of the Board of Education will be taking upon himself far wider powers I want him to have the knowledge to use those powers effectively so far as technical education is concerned by having a really qualified council to advise him on these matters. There is the question of status involved. I have a very strong feeling that the officials of the Board of Education are inclined to adopt a slightly patronising attitude to technical education. They look on it as something which is quite good for somebody else, whereas in fact it ought to be something available for everyone in the country.

If it would not be out of Order now to criticise the public schools system I should say that it is a great misfortune that the public schools do not give a great deal more attention to technical education. I am convinced that if anybody is interested in the future of technical education and is seized with its immense importance, he will support this Amendment, so that the Minister may have available a first-class, fully-qualified council to advise him upon this important matter.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

It is almost in fear and trembling that I enter into a Debate with experts on education. They may, however, forgive a few words from a mere layman. My reason for taking part in the Debate is that I spent some very happy years on the governing body of what is, I think, one of, if not the largest technical institute in the land. There is one failing about the Amendment now before us: it assumes that the Advisory Councils already provided for in the Bill will not be able to advise on technical education at all.

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

I am afraid that technical education will not be adequately represented, and that the representation of other aspects will be overweighted.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

The question, Major Milner, seems to be getting very much wider. Some Members who have put down Amendments wish to include rural education, some adult education, and some technical education. Is it possible for the discussion to be on the wider issue?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I am, of course, in the hands of the Committee. If the Committee desire, I see no reason why the Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) and the right hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) should not be discussed with the Amendment before the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If there is strong objection we cannot follow that course.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

May I point out that this Amendment differs from the others, in that it asks for a third advisory council, whereas the others desire that there shall be special consideration for the subjects in which those who have put down the Amendments are specially interested, on the Advisory Council for England and the Advisory Council for Wales. There is, to that extent, a considerable difference of principle between this Amendment and the others. Not that I want to delay the progress of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

In the circumstances, it would clearly be better to continue the Debate on this Amendment.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I am sorry I have raised a minor storm; it is not, however, the first storm I have created in my time. The hon. Gentleman, in his Amendment, has advocated the establishment of an advisory council for technical education purposes only. I would like, for instance, to see an advisory council on music and elocution, which are quite as important as same of the other subjects, but that would be begging the question. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) will forgive me if I say that one of the problems of technical education is that junior technical schools exist in many towns where there is a higher technical institution as well, but no boy can enter that higher technical institution until he has matriculated. Has the Board of Education got that important factor in mind? I could never understand why a boy in a junior technical school in our own city was not given educational facilities to pass the matriculation standard and so enter the technical college controlled by the same authority.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I mentioned in my speech the answer to that very question. The junior technical schoolboy cannot prepare for the examination to admit him to a place of higher education because of the regulations of the Board of Education.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Can we be assured, therefore, that the personnel of the Advisory Councils to be established will include individuals who know about such problems as that? Once again I speak as a layman, but I developed a keen sense of revolt over the problem that boys attending junior technical schools were prevented because of the matriculation certificate, from entering our own municipal college. Then, technical education, so far as I know, starts when the child has left the elementary school. For some reason unknown to me, who sat for years on an important education authority, a child studying the arts on the academic side could remain during the whole day in an educational institution, and go right forward to his B.A. and M.A., but if he wanted to train in any technical subject he must follow his employment during the day and study technical subjects at nights. I know very little about education apart from what I learned by sitting on an education authority, but that is how the position appears to me. I trust my hon. Friend will be able to give us some satisfaction on the very interesting points which have been brought to his notice in this Debate.

Photo of Sir Hugh Linstead Sir Hugh Linstead , Wandsworth Putney

I am very glad that this Amendment has been moved, although I would not suggest that it is the best way of dealing with the problem. I think that these Councils must have a very wide view of every section of education, and not concentrate on one particular section, such as technical education; but the moving of the Amendment provides a peg for discussing what tends to get lost in the Debates on this Bill, namely, the immense importance of technical education in this country after the war. The danger is that so much money, energy and thought will have to go into primary, secondary and further education that technical education will not get the attention it should have of we are to maintain our technical progress. I know many of the large technical colleges of this country fairly well, and they are very uneven. Some are admirable and compare with any institution in Europe and America, but others are appalling, and almost mediaeval in their buildings and outlook. There are at least two problems which technical education has not yet solved. One is research; they have not yet developed an adequate research organisation in many of the technical colleges. The other is their relationship with the universities. In many towns the universities are doing technical education, and there is no real liaison between the two bodies. By some means or other, the Board of Education must set up some type of advisory committee which will be directly responsible to the President of the Board for the progress and co-ordination of technical education. I would not, however, say that the proposal in this Amendment is the one which ought to be adopted.

Photo of Mr Robert Richards Mr Robert Richards , Wrexham

The mover of the Amendment covered a very wide field, and I do not regret the emphasis that he laid upon the fact that very little attention has been paid hitherto to technical education in this country, and upon the importance that some kind of technical education at any rate is going to assume in the future if we are to continue as a great Power. I do not think anyone can object to what he said about the industrial possibilities of the future in this country. It will largely depend on the development of technical education. I do not altogether share his views about the little that the Board of Education have done. I do not know that it is entirely the fault of the Board. I do not think that in this country we have been conscious, being so favourably placed industrially as we were during the last century, of the fundamental change in our economic position vis-à-vis the other countries competing with us. It may be that very little pressure has been exercised upon the Board of Education to get them to sense the change.

I agree with the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) that this is not the place for this Amendment. The two Advisory Councils, for England and for Wales, will, I am certain, take a very wide view of their responsibilities—at any rate, we all hope so. We certainly hope that they will not overlook the importance of technical education. The same argu- ment might have been used for setting up special councils to deal with other serious problems. Some hon. Members are particularly keen on nursery schools. We have not had much experience of that kind of education so far, and I can imagine pressure being brought upon the Board to set up a council to deal merely with nursery education. I think that the most difficult question of all that will face the Board is adolescence. What are we to make of these young people's colleges. I can imagine enthusiastic Members pressing for a council to deal merely with that question. I think it would be fatal. It is most important that these councils should take the whole of education within their powers. I hope that the Board of Education will take particular care that no aspect of education is left outside the purview of these new councils. On that ground, I would oppose this Amendment if it were put to the vote.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

We have had a very interesting discussion on the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe), and I think he must feel satisfied that on the major issue he has the sympathy of the Committee—that is, that there should be greater concern displayed by the Board of Education and the education service generally with what is somewhat narrowly known as technical education. I can assure him that he certainly has my personal sympathy. If he recollects, I devoted the greater part of my reply to the Debate on the White Paper in the summer to advocating an improved status for technical education, and greater consideration for it. Let us admit that in this matter we have had a very unfortunate history in this country. Technical education, as far as the public were concerned, started one night when this House found itself in possession of some surplus money on the whisky tax. The House did not know what to do with it, and it decided on the spur of the moment, assisted, I believe, in its deliberations by that sound educationist, the late Mr. Tim Healy, that as it had just established county councils and as these county councils had nothing much to do, this money might be given to them, and as somebody had just made a speech deploring our lack of technical education compared with that of Germany, it was proposed that one of the things they might spend it on was technical education. So the money was voted partly for policemen's pensions, partly for the reduction of rates, and partly for technical education.

For many years, until the Act of 1902, that money, plus the right of certain urban district councils and borough councils to raise a penny rate for the purpose, was all the attention that was paid to it. Then we had the misfortune, to which the hon. Member alluded, that when the Act of 1902 was passed its administration was left to one of the greatest autocrats who ever dwelt in the Civil Service, the late Sir Robert Morant, of whom it was said, "He was not unprincipled, but he was unscrupulous." He believed that the best form of education was that which had been given to him at Winchester, and he developed Part II of the Education Act of 1902 to duplicate as far as he could a system of grammar schools that would as nearly as possible reproduce the system he had known at Winchester. That system has to-day developed into a highly specialised form of narrow technical education.

Photo of Mr Gerald Palmer Mr Gerald Palmer , Winchester

I hope that the hon. Member in his last sentence is not referring to Winchester College at the present day.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I was referring to the way in which we have somewhat inadequately kept the motto "Manners maketh man," by making it appear that correct manners means the wearing of a black coat and pinstripe trousers. Why do parents desire that their children shall get into secondary schools of the present type? It is because they are the avenue to what my hon. Friend rightly called the "safety-first" jobs. Get into the secondary school and you will get into one of those jobs which carry reasonable security of tenure, at least one month's notice, and a good superannuation scheme at the end. You may enter the Civil Service, the local government service, the banking or the insurance world. If you are very unlucky you may become a teacher.

One cannot blame the parents in our industrial populations, when one thinks of the fate that has overtaken skilled men in the past 20 years, for saying, "Welt, if my boy or girl has any choice, it shall not be industry, but the office for them." Therefore, I suggest to my hon. Friend that quite apart from what we may do under this Bill the question of getting the right type of person into the right type of job involves a great many other social questions than education, and we cannot afford to shirk them. The existing secondary school is for these professions a technical school, and the technical school which equips a boy or a girl to take his or her part in industry is regarded as being so much lower in social status than the others. We intend that the technical training for all callings shall be equal in status under this Bill, and one reason why we do not mention technical education by name in the Bill is our desire that it shall not be segregated in the way it has been in the past. We are asked here to deal with this matter by way of establishing a special advisory council for technical education. May I say that I share the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) on that point. I believe if we did that we should do a disservice to technical education by continuing this segregation which has done so much harm in the past.

We are in full sympathy with the belief that it is desirable that industry should be more effectively associated with technical instruction than it has been. I can say that since I have been at the Board of Education I have seen several deputations from various industries who have come to discuss their problems with us, and I think we can say that at the moment there is probably a better understanding between the representatives of industry in this country, both employers and employed, and the Board of Education than there has ever been before. But industry in this country covers so wide a range, that any really representative advisory council that is to represent industry would probably be so large, that it might well be unworkable, and would probably have to work through sub-committees. Where the affairs of trades are involved my right hon. Friend will be seeking the advice of persons representative of employers and employed to advise him on those problems.

We also feel very considerable sympathy with the points that were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead). My right hon. Friend and I paid a visit last September to Tyneside during which we had an opportunity of seeing the facilities for technical education available for the two great industrial counties of Northumberland and Durham, and the words that were used by my right hon. Friend in describing the buildings we saw as archaic bore every resemblance to those buildings. Of course, we were not so disrespectful as to say that at Tyneside. I would suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey -Division (Sir H. Webbe) that this particular way of bringing technical education more thoroughly into the education picture might have the very opposite result to that for which he hopes. We shall do everything we can in the working out of this Bill to ensure that the great industries of the country reap all the benefits for which he asks from a revised and extended education system. We feel that it will be in their interests, as it is in the interests of the local people themselves, that technical education for industry should be regarded as only one form of technical education to be studied in relation to all other forms.

I think there must be technical education for agriculture, and I hope that the arrangements that were announced by my right hon. Friend and the Minister of Agriculture a few days ago, indicating the way the two Departments will work together for agriculture, may be taken as an indication of the way we desire to work for all the industries of the country. We shall see to it that, on the Advisory Council for England and on that for Wales, there will be some people who are capable of speaking with authority on technical education. Where more detailed knowledge of particular industries is required, we shall see that we get an Advisory Committee—to advise the Minister direct or in consultation—which will command the confidence of the industry and will enable us to deal with the specific problems that may be involved. I hope that, after giving this assurance, my hon. Friend will feel that he is not obliged to press the Amendment.

Photo of Sir Harold Webbe Sir Harold Webbe , Westminster Abbey

I have had the very pleasant and unusual experience of hearing the Minister making the case which I sought to make very much more capably than I could do it myself. I entirely sympathise with what the Minister has said. I do not want to press one particular piece of machinery; I am only considering how to achieve the end I have in view, and I am satisfied to leave the question of the machinery to be dealt with by such an enthusiast as the Parliamentary Secretary. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It may be convenient if the Amendments of the hon. Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay), the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) and South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) are considered together.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

I beg to move in page 3, line 15, to leave out: connected with educational theory and practice. I do not think this Amendment need take very long. It does not raise the question whether there should be two Councils or one. We are all agreed that there is to be one Council. It does raise the question of what is the function of the Council. The hon. Member for the Welsh Universities (Professor Gruffydd) says he wants to leave out "educational theory and practice" and insert "education." The purpose of my Amendment is to make the Clause read: It shall be the duty of those Councils to advise the Minister upon such matters as they think fit. In other words, we both wish to leave out "educational theory and practice," and, therefore, this is, in a sense, a negative Amendment, but it has the effect of making the scope of the Council as wide as it is possible to be. On all matters connected with education, it leaves the question entirely open. I should like to ask the Minister if, at this stage or perhaps later in this Debate, he is going to tell us what are the functions of this Council.

I have taken the pains to see how many technical representatives there used to be on the Consultative Committee. I notice that there were two representing technical education, four representing secondary schools—that is, generally speaking—two representing adults, three representing training colleges, two representing local education authorities and four various. It was a body composed of a number of persons connected with "educational theory and practice," but there was nobody unconnected with "educational theory and practice." It may be said that this is out of Order because it is touching on the actual persons who compose the Councils, but how can we discuss rural and adult education if we do not know early in this Debate what is the purpose of the Council? In the old days, the Consultative Committee was given long-term jobs to do. It was the only example of a long-term thinking body, and it did seven big jobs, including Hadow and Spens.

What is the function of this Council under the new regime? Is it to be the same as under the old Consultative Committee with initiating powers, for that is what it appears to be? If it is so, I do not think it is what we should like to see, or what the hon. Member for the Abbey division (Sir H. Webbe) would like to see. There are already Advisory Committees in all technical colleges in this country, bringing in the employers and the employed and people with great knowledge. That obtains in London and Middlesex and everywhere else, and there are persons connected locally who have outside experience. But what do we want at the centre? Surely, it is this. Hon. Members have repeatedly referred to the way the Hadow Report has not been implemented. There are many reasons for this, but most of them rest in this House. It was this House which allowed the economy cuts to be made, and, therefore, I do not think the Board should be blamed for every shortcoming in education in the last 30 years. The people responsible are the people in this House of Commons, who did not resist those cuts and insist that the Council should be, not just a longterm research body, but one which brings up to the Board of Education the ideas which are forming in public opinion.

The technical experience which the hon. Member for the Abbey division described as being lacking—and I agree with every word he said—is covered by the phrase, used by the hon. Member, "more in touch with reality." It seems to me rather a general phrase. They say the Board of Education is out of touch with reality, but precisely what is meant by "reality"? Some people have industry in mind, while others think of rural life; others will mean people connected with adult education. If you are to have this specialist body, made up of persons connected with educational theory and practice, you are not going to get outside opinion. I suggest it is quite unnecessary and narrow to put in the words "educational theory and practice." This Council has to be a wide body, with broad terms of reference, and, if that is so, of what is it to be composed—three from nursery schools, two adults, three rural, four technical? Obviously, such a body as that is not going to give the Minister the careful outside advice which he requires. Are they to throw at such a body long-term questions, such as were thrown out in the past to the Consultative Committee, each one taking, I suppose, two years to report upon? Is that the conception? I agree that the terms of reference should be very wide, but I would plead early in the Debate that the Minister should give us his view of what the Council is—a positive view—because I think it is very difficult for most of us to conceive this new set-up until we have the views of the Minister.

Photo of Professor William Gruffydd Professor William Gruffydd , University of Wales

I put my Amendment on the Paper—to leave out "educational theory and practice," and insert "education"—because I wanted to put an end to the very obvious restriction on the work of the councils which these words contain. The Bill in giving us the two councils—one for England and one for Wales—has really handed out to the nation a very important boon. For the first time in the history of education there is going to be some kind of integration of the best national experience with education administration. That is the boon which is handed out. These restrictive words "educational theory and practice" remove absolutely everything which is of value. It will be necessary for the Minister not only to answer the questions of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) as to the composition of these councils but to let us hear also very much in detail what he means, and what is meant by "educational theory and practice."

I can say what is meant in the country by these words. They form one of those unfortunate terms that have acquired a technical meaning and nothing that we do in this Committee is going to alter the popularly accepted significance of "educational theory and practice." It is precisely the phrase used to describe the functions of university Chairs of Education and the work of the master of method or mistress of method in the training colleges. I have a suspicion that the promoters of the Bill have said to themselves: "We have given away a lot and I think now we had better guard ourselves, so let us keep our hold on administration," and that is what this wording is meant to do. If we do not take out these words and add the word "education,"' we shall find that the councils will be kept carefully off all questions of administration. Questions about administration are precisely questions on which the Board of Education, with its great lack of knowledge of the country and its wide separation from the practical side of education in the countryside, is lacking, and it is on that that advice will be most valuable. I would appeal to the Minister to do one of two things, either to define carefully what is meant by these words and whether he wants to put into them meanings which they cannot possibly hold, and which we cannot accept or, better still, to accept one of the three Amendments standing in the name of the different movers.

Photo of Sir Ernest Graham-Little Sir Ernest Graham-Little , London University

I would like to ask the Minister one or two questions which are puzzling me at the moment. Is there any provision in the advisory councils for dealing with the work of the universities? I fear that the greater part of these provisions are directed to secondary education. Will it be possible in the future, as it has been in the past, for the Minister to act completely without any consultative committee? In an answer that he gave me recently I was told that the consultative committee which was appointed to advise him personally had not met for five years. Will the advisory councils be equally easily shelved? That is one reason why I expressed earlier in the Debate apprehension at the abolition of the Board of Education. It would be more satisfactory to have a board to cover all these spheres of education than to depend on one man alone, however instructed he might be. Is it at all possible to widen the area of consultation and to make it in some degree compulsory?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I am not certain at what stage of the Bill we ought to have a substantial Debate on the educational content of the Bill. In my opinion there is no educational content in the Bill at all. The whole Bill deals almost entirely with the machinery of education and no one knows, apart from the generalities we have had from the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, which were all highly useful, what they propose to teach and how they propose to teach it. We know where they are going to teach it. The Bill ought never to have been introduced at all until the various reports had been made and the Government had told us what they proposed to do.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I am coming to the point at once. We must at some stage or another have a discussion about the matter. We are now discussing, as I understand it, the functions of the advisory committees, and the issue is whether they are to be restricted to pedagogic considerations, which the hon. Member for the Welsh Universities (Professor Gruffydd) has already pointed out, or whether they are to be wider and be all-embracing? If they are to be all-embracing the advisory committees will be given the opportunity of advising the Minister of Education or the President of the Board of Education or whatever title is accorded by the Bill upon considerations which, throughout the Bill, we shall be debarred from discussing at all unless we discuss them at this point. I therefore suggest that we ought to hear from the Minister at this stage rather more than we have heard of the actual content of education.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member cannot here discuss the content of education. What we are discussing are the matters upon which the Advisory Councils shall advise the Minister.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

With all due respect, Major Milner, they are not going to advise the Minister on the Hammurabi code of the Babylonians but on matters of administration. I do not want to get across the Chair at all—it is not my habit to do so—but I suggest with all respect that there is no part of the Bill on which we can raise this matter unless it is this part. If, throughout the whole of the Debates on the Education Bill we are not to be allowed to discuss education, the Minister is going to run into trouble before he has gone very far.

I want to come to the mechanics of this Advisory Committee. We would like to know at this stage how it is to be composed and what the attitude of the Minister is to be towards it, because there are a number of Amendments in the names of some of my Welsh colleagues which give me some heartburning. I represent a Monmouthshire constituency, and Monmouthshire is not entirely pleased with the way in which it has been treated in the past. We are in a very anomalous position. Administratively, we are in Wales, and some of the Amendments on the Order Paper would entrust to the Welsh Advisory Committee certain administrative functions which might have a direct bearing upon the welfare of Monmouthshire. I am not judging the Amendments at the moment, but even the hon. Members who moved them do not quite know what bearing they will have upon the Advisory Committee until they know how the Advisory Committee is going to function and what it is going to do. I suggest, therefore, that this is the stage when the Minister should inform the Committee what he has in his mind about the functions of the Advisory Committees, the composition of the Advisory Committees, the latitude of the Advisory Committees, and how far the Minister is going to rest upon their advice. When we have had that, we shall be in a far better position to judge whether or not the Amendment on the Order Paper should be accepted or rejected.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

I wish we had had this Bill in a Standing Committee where we might get at close groups with it. I would ask the Minister, unless he can give us a wider meaning to these words than we have already conceived, not to refuse the Amendment. I am not clear as to the exact meaning of the words "the theory and practice of education." They seem to imply a not very wide field, and unless the Minister can show us that these committees will be able to go outside those who are normally directed to the theory and practice of education, then I hope he will not say he is going to keep to these words, because we ought to have wider terms in the Bill than these words convey. I am, myself, wholeheartedly in favour of expanding the composition of these committees, making them as representative as possible, and therefore I hope the Minister will not set his face resolutely against what we all desire, the extension of the composition of these committees and an enlargement of their functions beyond what was conceived in the past.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

It is quite clear from various speeches that have been made what the Committee desire. I will attempt at this stage to indicate what the Government have in mind in proposing the constitution of these two Central Ad- visory Councils. Let me say at once to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) that the word "Monmouthshire" is included in the drafting, and that we intend that a Council shall be set up for Wales and Monmouthshire as well as a Council for England. I shall not be able, in the terms of this Amendment, to traverse in detail the personal composition of the Councils. If I were to cover the matter in general terms we might be able to take certain other Amendments on the point, rather more shortly at a later stage. I agree that those Amendments refer to a different Clause and so I would not wish to cover them in detail but the fact is, when one is considering the constitution of these Councils, one must refer to the membership to a certain extent and that would enable the Committee to make a little progress and take this matter in rather a broad compass. I can assure hon. Members that no question will be left out of consideration.

Before I come to the general question, may I reassure the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) that university education as such is not covered by this Clause and the position of grants to university education is covered by Subsection (5) of Clause 93 to which I would invite his attention. That will show him that we are not considering those matters here. Coming to the constitution of the Central Advisory Councils, here we have an innovation proposed by the Government as part of the central machinery. These Councils are to replace the present machinery which consists of the consultative Committee established under Section (4) of the Board of Education Act and continued by Section 2 of the Act of 1921. We are proposing wider functions for these Councils than were proposed for the Consultative Committee, and that is my first answer to the hon. Member. The function of the Consultative Committee is limited to advising the Board on any matters referred to it by the Board. The Advisory Councils will not only have that function but also that of advising the Minister upon such matters connected with educational theory and practice as they think fit. Therefore we have to that extent widened the remit to these Councils. Hon. Members have shown some anxiety about these words. I would beseech the hon. Gentleman who represents the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) not to imagine that we are using these words as a term of art. We have not in mind any particular consequence that he attaches to them in his mind. We take the simple English terms they represent, that is, the theory of what can be taught and the practice of what is taught. One of the most important features of this innovation in my view——

Photo of Professor William Gruffydd Professor William Gruffydd , University of Wales

Will the right hon. Gentleman define precisely the meaning of those words? Is it confined to teaching?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am coming to the important question of administration in a moment. We are not confined to words used in a training college or in a university, we are looking to even broader fields than could be covered by such terms. It is summed up by using the old English term "content"—content of education. My experience of education is that most of us who are involved in it spend all our time on administrative matters and in quarrelling with each other on matters which interest the grown ups much more than they do the children. When Mr. Balfour wound up the proceedings on the 1902 Bill, he besought the House of that day to remember that all these quarrels that had interested the adults were not of very much interest to the children, and that very little time is spent on the content of education in the schools themselves. Our object then is quite definite; it is for once to attach to the central authority in England a body which can pay some attention to what is taught in the schools, and also pay attention to all the most modern and up-to-date methods and, by, reviewing the position continually, consider the whole question of what may be taught to the children.

Therefore, the answer to the hon. Gentleman representing the University of Wales is that we do not intend these Councils to concern themselves with administration. We do intend that they shall concern themselves with what is taught and with the content of education generally. When I refer to modern methods I should say there is a later Amendment on the Paper which deals with the problems of broadcasting and films for educational purposes. Those are only two examples of working to which this Council might turn its mind. I am absolutely definite, however, that it is not our view that the administration of education should be blurred by the contact with it of some outside body. The administration of education under the Bill is placed as a duty upon the Minister in conjunction with local authorities. I submit that it would be impossible to run education if the responsibility of the Minister of Parliament was in any way blurred and if the responsibility of local education authorities to their own electors and concils was also blurred. Responsibility for the actual administration of education must remain clear cut.

Now we come to the possibility that the Minister might wish to refer to these Councils matters of interest in the conduct of administration generally. It might well be that these Councils would wish to interest themselves in the conduct of secondary education. For instance, it might be interesting to know whether secondary education, either in the Principality or in England, should develop upon a multilateral basis, as it does in some parts of Scotland, or whether there should be a form of secondary education in one building, which is successful if you can find the ground and space on which to build your school. Or you might find that junior technical education was behind. All these are matters which will fall within the remit of the Councils. Subsection (1) of the Clause states that matters connected with the content of education itself can be put to the Minister by the Councils and that, in order to retain direct drive and administration, administrative matters as such must be put to the Councils from the centre. The Councils are entitled to advise the Minister on the content of education of their own volition.

We shall be considering later, in Clause 5, the possibility of Amendments by which the House will be kept in touch with the inter-operation of these two bodies, Councils and Minister. The general scope of these Councils should be different from the Consultative Committee. This Committee has done great work and when Members say that it has not achieved much I would remind them that the Spens Report is at the basis of this Bill and that we should pay tribute to it in considering the Measure before us. The work of the Consultative Committee has been painstaking and effective and if I were to suggest an alteration it is largely because I do not want the Councils to be representative of the educational world which already exists. I wish to make them as broad as possible. Our idea would be to accept the views of hon. Members that we should have on these bodies people to represent technical and industrial interests and the most modern developments in the technique of education. For instance, in films, we are much behind in our schools. The sooner we bring up the standard of teaching by films the better. I also intend that the countryside shall not be forgotten and that the development of art education shall be borne in mind.

That would indicate that these Councils would have to be representative of culture in its broadest sense and not in the most academic sense. We want the representatives on the Councils to be practical people who can make the bridge between the world I have described and education. One object is to avoid education being an isolated compartment in our national life. Far too long has education been so regarded by the people of our country generally. I want the country to feel that education is being brought into touch with all that is best and vital in the country's life. If I were to be responsible for choosing members I would say that they should have a sufficiency of good working life before them—and not all of it behind them—and should have experience of the different aspects of life to which I have referred. So that the Councils should not be exclusively made up of people who spend all their lives in the world of education.

I regret that I cannot satisfy the hon. Member for the University of Wales about administration being shared with these Councils. Local authorities would not tolerate such an ambiguous position and I, as the central authority, would not like it either. I would like to reserve to myself the right of making their main duty the content of education.

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

The Minister has conveyed the impression that he would do what we wanted and I am sorry that he is still inclined to cling to the former word rather than accept the simple word we have offered in its stead. We have asked that these Councils shall be concerned with all matters affecting education. There is a very definite limitation of purpose in the additional words which the Minister himself uses. I am disappointed because I believe that this is an occasion when we should invite our people to a new idea regarding the purposes and character of the education which is to be provided for many years to come. I speak with all the more feeling on this because I probably received less instruction at school than any other Member in the Committee at the moment. I left school at II years of age but—and I pay this compliment to my teachers and to those associated with them—I left with an avid desire to seek more tuition and more education.

I am grateful for the efforts which were made to convey to me, in a limited amount of time and under extremely limited facilities, the education which was given to me before I left school. I left school with the biggest asset of all—the desire to learn more—and that is what I believe to be the main purpose of education. Interest our boys and girls as they come along and as they take part in our lives. Give them more interest in all sides of life. It is not entirely a matter of technical education, important though that is, or of literary acquisition or of literary achievements. It is not merely the memorisation of much poetry and choice writings; it is a keenness to understand and to apply that understanding to the problems of everyday life and to recognise the connection between what is taught at school and the work which has to be done in later life.

Education has not been looked upon in that intensely practical way and, therefore, there has been much loss of interest. The meaning of tuition in many of our schools is cramming and still more cramming, without explaining the advantage of having these various pieces of information imprinted on the mind of the pupil. So I welcome these Advisory Councils as the finest piece of democratic machinery in our educational system that we have yet seen. We propose to set up a Council for England and one for Wales, whose duty it will be to advise the Minister upon such matters connected with education as they think fit. After all, education is for the people. If it does not satisfy the purpose and desire of the people, and the popular idea of the objects of education, then we cannot make any progress. The members of these Councils should be properly and wisely selected. I agree that they should not be appointed for what they have done but for what they are to do and what they are capable of doing.

I welcome very much the idea that these Advisory Councils should be set up. I welcome particularly the idea that an Advisory Council should be set up for Wales. It is a small, manageable job to organise education in one small area with a population of not less than 3,000,000. They are a people who are more or less drawn together by a special culture and a special outlook of their own, which is not antagonistic to the general purpose of education throughout the country. I am not speaking as an extreme Welsh nationalist when I say that there is an opportunity for these Advisory Councils to do a special job of work in that area. But they would require to be in contact with the Welsh people, the people whom they are to educate, and in very close contact with the Minister, with full authority to suggest to him all that they may deem to be advisable for the purpose of the better education of the people. We are facing a time when vast plans for industrial organisation are due, and overdue, but it would be folly to attempt any large plan of reorganisation of industry until you have built up a more widely disseminated and higher standard of technical knowledge. Take the mining industry.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member is making a speech which would be more appropriate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" if not indeed on Second Reading. The question we are discussing is the particular matters on which the councils should advise.

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

Yes, and because an advisory council is set up with special interests it should be entitled under the terms of the Bill to recomend to the Minister that certain special phases of instruction should be given a preference. That is why I believe that technical knowledge in regard to mining and agriculture should have special opportunities in the country. In London you may not require the same kind of technical education as in the Potteries and in the Black Country, but technical education in all its branches must be far more greatly developed if we are to play our part in the future of the country. But there is something else. Education must be designed to build up character. No amount of cramming of information into the minds of boys and girls will serve unless there is a definite attempt to build up a higher standard of conduct. Machinery alone does not meet the full purpose. The object of education should always be kept in mind.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

I have to confess to finding a difference between my right hon. Friend's theory and practice. As I listened to his speech I found myself in complete agreement. These Councils should take a very wide and broad view of education in all its aspects. When I turn to the actual proposal in the Bill, I find that their advice is to be confined to matters of educational theory and practice. It seems to me that that must limit the choice of the individuals who are to be members of the Councils. I feel that, if my right hon. Friend is to realise his own object in appointing these Councils, he must alter the phraseology and substitute something on the lines suggested by the Amendment. Apparently he is afraid that, if he uses a wider phrase, like "education," the Councils might trespass on preserves which he considers his own, or those of the local authorities. But it is a purely Advisory Council. He is not bound to take their advice. I appeal to him, in view of what he has told us is the purpose he has in mind, to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

There are about 400 Amendments to the Bill and we have two days to discuss it. It will not be a day too long at the present rate of progress. We have spent three-quarters of an hour discussing a point which, it seems to me, might have been settled in a couple of minutes. The sole point here is, Are the words of the Clause wide enough to enable the Council to advise the Minister on all matters on which they or we would like them to advise? In my opinion there is only one answer to that. The words are abundantly wide enough—" to advise the Minister on such matters connected with," not limited to, "educational theory and practice as they think fit." In other words, the Advisory Council can say, on any subject which it thinks is connected with educational theory or practice, anything it likes by way of advice to Ministers. Administration is connected with educational theory and practice. How can you have administration which is not connected either with theory or practice? It is plain that any impartial chairman would rule that, if the Council felt bound to unburden itself on some aspect of administration, it could do so. But its advice is not mandatory. The Minister may determine whether to adopt it or not. What is the other range of activity? "Any question referred to them by him." In other words, they may advise on what he wants them to advise on and they can themselves advise anything on which they want to give advice. That seems wide enough to cover the activities of any committee. We need not waste further time in discussing this narrow point. Let us get on with some of the major Amendments that we have to deal with.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , Keighley

I feel some resentment at the attitude the hon. Member has taken up about the time we have spent on this point. This is a most important Bill and if we have to spend two months on it the time will not be wasted. I would rather have a good Bill after several months than a bad Bill after a short discussion. If the Clause is interpreted literally there is a case to be made out for the hon. Member's construction. But the Minister has given his own opinion that the Clause rules out consideration by the Advisory Councils of practical questions of administration. He can refer such questions to them but they cannot of their own volition refer to them. I think the Councils will prefer the President's construction to that of the hon. Member.

My right hon. Friend, who is usually so convincing, failed to give any satisfactory reason for resisting the Amendment. The reason he gave was that it would blur his responsibility and that of local authorities. The answer to that has been given by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). These councils are advisory only, and he is under no obligation to accept their advice. My right hon. Friend's construction rules out all questions of administration. Can it be that the President needs advice on educational theory and practice, but does not need it on matters of administration? Under the heading of "administration" are some of the toughest problems connected with education, and it would be most appropriate that they should be considered by bodies of the standing of the consultative committee as we have known it. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to think again and accept the Amendment which has been so ably moved.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

I am a little disconcerted by the sharp distinction drawn by my right hon. Friend between administration, to be kept in the Department away from the Council, and educational theory and practice, because at certain points they are so closely mixed up that it would be difficult to separate them. May I put a case to my right hon. Friend? There is a complaint among teachers that they are so snowed under with administrative details, the filling up of forms and so on, that educational work is neglected. Suppose that tendency were increased would the Council on its own volition be capable of approaching the Minister and pointing out to him that education was being prejudiced by the piling up of too much administrative work on the teachers? That is a sample of the kind of work the Council should undertake in a purely advisory capacity.

Photo of Professor William Gruffydd Professor William Gruffydd , University of Wales

I have always prided myself on being a blower of the gaff, and it is clear that what I had suspected is true. The Minister has definitely stated that these words bear the meaning that I said they bore. Therefore, they do not cover administration. Administration is an essential part of the whole organisation of education. It is impossible for any council to give advice in a vacuum on the art of teaching. I must again press my right hon. Friend to reconsider these words because the opinion of the Committee is very much in agreement with what I said.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

There is a graver aspect to this question as it affects Wales than that which has been pointed out by the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd). When I speak of Wales, I do so with the reservation for the county of Monmouth. The county of Monmouth seems to me to be in a peculiar position in that it wants to approbate and reprobate as much as it sees fit to do. I speak of Wales, the real Wales. There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in my name dealing with the system of secondary education in Wales and with the desirability of getting it put into proper order. There is nothing in it remotely connected with the content of education. It deals entirely with administration. It is one of those problems that Wales has wanted to see solved and that we thought would be solved by the setting-up of this administrative Council. It is a problem that we were led to believe by the right hon. Gentleman himself would be solved by the Council and would be put to the Council. May I remind him of the terms of his own White Paper? On page 32, paragraph 125, which is part of the section dealing with Welsh education, contains these words: Attention should now be given to the possibility of collaboration within the new administrative framework set out in this Paper. The importance now attached to closer collaboration between Authorities may render it advisable to consider the establishment of some appropriate advisory body for Wales. That is the promise of the White Paper, a definite promise to Wales that we should have a council that would be competent to advise on matters of administration. Now the Minister says that the terms of the Bill exclude the right of the Council for Wales to advise the Minister on their own volition upon the matters which he promised in the White Paper they would be able to speak about.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

It would be a great pity if in the force of his own oratory the hon. Member were to exaggerate the issue. I would refer to an Amendment which is on the Order Paper in his own name relating to the set up of secondary education in Wales. One of the most interesting things for me to hear about from the new Council would he the way that secondary education is developing. I will not interfere with the hon. Gentleman's speech, but I may say a word afterwards clearing up the matter which has arisen in the Committee and indicating how I think it might be dealt with.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that statement. It contains an admission that the subject matter of the Amendment which I propose to move was something which it is Competent for the Advisory Council to advise the Minister upon. I would like the Minister to go further and say whether, in his view, it would be proper for the Welsh Advisory Committee on their own volition to advise the Minister upon the subject matter of that Amendment without it being specifically referred to the Council.

The Deputy-Chairman:

It would possibly be as well if we were to wait until we come to the Amendment before pursuing that point.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

I am not dealing with the subject matter of the Amendment or with its merits. I am only dealing with the question whether what is contained within it is a proper matter to come within the functions of the administrative Council as outlined by the definition given by the Minister. I was taking particular care not to argue the case for the Amendment.

If the Minister, in his further explanation that he has promised the Committee, is prepared to expand the definition that he has already given, so that the term "educational theory and practice" can comprehend matters of the kind contained in the Amendment which I hope to deal with next, I shall be satisfied; but if not, I can assure the Committee that Wales will not only not be satisfied but will be disappointed with the promise contained in the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

No one desires to delay the Committee on these matters, and many of us have already pointed out earlier that if we can get satisfactory assurances on this matter a large number of subsequent Amendments will fall. We are therefore not wasting time in stirring this matter up. I think the Minister in this case is making a special plea to the Committee, not for himself but for the Department. I think that he, in his interpretation of the words, gave most of the case away. The Department do not want to part with or share any of their administrative authority but want to keep that authority entirely in their own hands. When it comes to the county authorities, and when we are discussing that matter, the Minister will probably, quite wisely, say that he has called into service a number of advisory executives, to advise the county authorities on administration inside the counties. I am sure that he will argue how important it is to have as much decentralisation as possible inside the county so that the county council shall not override local feeling. When it comes to the structure of the Bill as a whole for both England and Wales, the Minister does not want to have an Advisory Committee with the same relationship to the Board of Education as the divisional executive has to the county education authority. He wants to reign supreme. How does it come about that in the case of the larger units decentralisation is not necessary but in the smaller units it is? A divisional executive is, we understand to be given considerable delegated powers of administration and advice in educational matters. It seems to me that the Minister is really doing some special pleading for Whitehall control over the whole of the administration of education. I think he has to answer on that point when he comes to reply, because we are a bit suspicious about reasoning of that sort.

I sat for many years as a member of an education body. We were trying hard to develop technical education. One of the difficulties in establishing technical education is that it is almost impossible to separate the content of technical education and the administration of the technical authority. For instance, what is to be the relationship of the school to the local works and how are you to fit one into the other? One of the difficulties is that the State makes itself responsible for the teaching and private enterprise for the work. There is an artificial division between the two which arises out of the dualism of the social system. What happened in our technical school? I remember that we wrote to a firm begging they to let us have an engine so that our boys might experiment with it. We had to try to create in the school the atmosphere of the workshop, whereas the proper thing to do would be to teach mechanical subjects in the actual workshop with actual work being done.

How on earth are we to discuss technical education unless the body concerned has the power to advise upon education in technical matters? I agree with the Minister that nothing ought to be done by the Central Advisory Committee which would in any way cause local authorities to feel that a cushion was being established between themselves and the Minister, and that it ought not to have the power to interefere with any county scheme. If there is to be that cushion there would be a sense of irresponsibility and of frustration. Why cannot the Minister accept the Amendment, because all that the Amendment does is to give the Central Advisory Committee power to advise on anything in regard to education? If the Advisory Committee were so foolish as to invade the proper frontiers of a local authority they would soon find that the Minister refused to accept their recommendations and they would be encouraged to make their recommendations on the subject of education and not merely of local administration. I therefore suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is getting himself into a little difficulty, because he has one conception of the educational structure—I am certain that he is right in having it—while his officials have another, and are fighting a rearguard action to force us to accept their authority.

Photo of Colonel Sir Henry Evans Colonel Sir Henry Evans , Cardiff South

I feel that I must support my Welsh friends in their plea to the President. For the first time in many years there has been a recognition by my right hon. Friend that a Welsh Council on Education, dealing with Welsh problems, is necessary in the interests of education in Wales. If that principle had not been recognised and conceded, the Clause would not have been incorporated in the Bill in the first place. By the acceptance of the Amendment and the deletion of the words the House would not confer any executive power upon the Advisory Committee. We are not asking for that, and if we were, perhaps my right hon. Friend would be quite entitled to resist the claim. We do ask that the real purpose of the Clause should be given effect, in its broadest possible aspect as far as the Welsh Clause is concerned. Incidentally, there is nothing to compel my right hon. Friend to accept the advice tendered and he is free to reject it. Therefore I find it difficult to understand why he is resisting what is undoubtedly a very reasonable proposal.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

One useful result of the discussion is that the view put forward by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) almost exactly represents the intentions of the Government. If the Education Bill can achieve that on its first day in Committee, we may indeed work wonders. It may also be said to be the case that the modest remarks which I made a few minutes ago, met with a certain amount of approval. The only way in which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale can cause a little excitement is by trying to separate me from my worthy advisers. I refuse to allow that to happen and I shall stand here on my own legs and continue to profit by the excellent advice which I have received for so long. We may as well establish that also. The position is now: How do we face the little imbroglio in which we are likely to become engaged?

The position, as I see it, is that it would be wrong, if the administration of education is to proceed on the constitutional lines laid down by the Bill, to start the idea that these Advisory Committees are to come in and upset the grand system in matters of education. Provided we accept that, there is one matter which I want to discuss. On that broad question, the Committee and I are agreed. If we examine these Amendments in detail, to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) would mean that these Advisory Councils could advise the Minister on any matter they liked.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

Subject to certain control.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

That is the only safeguard. I could imagine the Minister and his Department being somewhat nervous at the idea that these Councils could advise the Minister on anything they liked. It would be introducing a rather uncertain and wide element in the matter if we were to allow them to cover such a wide range as that. That is my difficulty with that particular Amendment, My difficulty with the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) is simply that I do not see that the word "education" just alone is very much an improvement on the words "educational theory and practice." I think my words are better. It is just a matter of opinion. The difficulty about my accepting the words of the right hon Baronet the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) is that he simply asks me to say at the end "in all its aspects." I appreciate the spirit in which he moves that but I do not honestly think the Bill would be improved by the acceptance of any of those words.

I am ready to examine the discussion we have had but I would rather give no undertaking. If the Committee on their side accept from me quite bluntly that the administration of education as such must be run, I will accept from them that the Committee desires that matters which impinge on administration, which cannot be separated from it shall not be excluded from the purview of this Council. I would suggest that if I look at the Debate and consider all the points put forward it may be possible for me to assure the Committee that either these words or something similar will meet the desires of the Committee.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

That is the second promise we have had to-day from my right hon. Friend. I hope he appreciates that we are trying to strengthen his hand in this Part 1. He has given us twice the promise that he will try to find a form of words for what we apparently cannot say. With that proviso I feel we must leave the matter. I would like him to give us a form of words which will give what the hon. Member for the University of Wales and myself really want. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, at the end, to insert: and, in particular, it shall be the duty of the Council for Wales to advise the Minister within six months upon a uniform system of secondary education in Wales. In the course of the Debates we had in the House upon the White Paper and upon the Second Reading of the Bill, frequent reference was made to the dual system. It may be news to some Members that in Wales we as in so many things go far ahead of England; we have two dual systems. We have got the dual system known in England and we have also got a dual system in our secondary schools. The system of secondary education in Wales is far ahead of the system in England. A Bill to provide for secondary education in Wales was passed and became an Act in 1889—the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. That Act provided for the establishment of secondary schools optionally in Wales, assisted by voluntary subscriptions to which could be added the product of a very small rate. To assist in the development of the schools there was set up a Central Welsh Board which was the examining body, which assisted in the administration of grants and which also provided an inspectorate for the intermediate schools. Most of the secondary schools in Wales were established under the 1889 Act, but under the 1902 Act there came to be established further secondary schools, county schools. These came under the Board of Education. They were inspected by the Board's inspectors, they followed a curriculum of their own. It is true that they prepared pupils for the examinations of the Central Welsh Board but they were free within those schools to have their own curriculum for the purpose of doing so.

In this and other ways there has grown up a dual system of secondary education in Wales, and it is high time that they were made into one system. It is far more necessary now than in the past when we are looking forward to the development of a general system of secondary education schools of three kinds and when we want them all to be, as the President has said, schools of an equal status and standing. I submit it will be impossible to do that until the existing secondary schools in Wales are brought into one system. Indeed I imagine I am helping the Minister in this because it seems the duality of this system in Wales had been forgotten. Under the Bill the Welsh intermediate schools established under the Act of 1889, first of all under voluntary subscriptions, become auxiliary schools. The county schools, the other type of secondary school in Wales, are county schools under the Bill and from that flow a great many distinctions under the Bill itself.

Those administering the Bill will find themselves, for example, faced with the dilemma of appointing six governors, two or four of whom must be appointed as foundation governors, and as there is no such thing as a foundation for a Welsh intermediate school—the money has been subscribed, there has been no condition tied on to it, no trust deed—those responsible for administering this Bill will be faced with the hopeless task of looking for two foundation governors. The county schools will have six governors and the intermediate schools four. Other consequences will quite conceivably follow from the fact that these two systems have not been brought together. Therefore, I ask the President to accept this as the first task to be imposed either by the terms of the Bill or by his own request upon the Advisory Council for Wales.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

What we want from the Minister is a firm undertaking that this Advisory Council will give attention, and prior attention, to what is going to be in Wales a very serious problem. We are passing a Bill under which at the age of II every child in the country will pass on to one or other of the schools which are provided for. In Wales there is this duality of systems of schools. There is the old intermediate school system, and there is the Central Welsh Board, with its fairly complete authority for the schools established under the old Act, but also with a system of examinations for all schools. Unless this provides a uniform system for Wales, the Bill will make still worse an already untidy system. It is necessary that this Advisory Council shall consider the matter very quickly, and advise the Minister upon the possibility of getting a uniform system.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

The right hon. Gentleman may tell us that he is going to give us this Amendment. I do not know whether the restriction which he laid just now will prevent him from allowing the matter to be remitted to this Committee: we want to be quite clear about that. I do not want to go into the technicalities of the matter, but it is clear that there is every sanction for the abolition of this dual system in Wales. A Committee considered this over 20 years ago. It is a long time since I read the Report, but my memory is that the Committee came down unequivocally for the abolition of this system. It has stupid social effects in some of the industrial areas. I do not want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I know that in some areas the intermediate schools are the class snobs' schools, relative to the schools run by the municipal authorities. [Interruption.] I am talking only about some areas: there is no need for anybody to get hurt about it. I know that in some areas there are special arrangements for prize-givings and so on—quite a big show compared with the ordinary municipal secondary schools. From the social point of view, particularly where municipal secondary schools have sprung up in recent years, it would be a good thing to unify the systems. It would also be an excellent thing for the local authority to control all the higher education facilities in the area.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

May I support the appeal which has already been made to the Minister? I have in my own constituency four secondary schools. One is of the old intermediate type. I cannot subscribe to what my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has just said about the snobbishness of one as compared with the other three—that sort of thing does not exist with us—but the anomaly is there. I could take up a great deal of time in dealing with this anomaly, but all I want is to assure the right hon. Gentleman that not only that education would not suffer if this anomaly were removed, but that it would make a very substantial contribution to what he has laid down in the Bill. I hope that he will give most careful consideration to this anomaly. It had historical justification once, but that historical justification cannot now be argued by anyone who is moved by such passion as the right hon. Gentleman has revealed in this field.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

I hope that an English Member will be forgiven for saying a few words on this subject. My only excuse is that I married a Welsh woman. I would ask you, Mr. Williams, whether you think this an appropriate occasion for a discussion of the meaning of the word "snobbishness." It appears quite clear that that is one of the "boss words" of this controversy, one of the words to which most attention is paid and most importance attributed. I think on same occasion we ought really to discuss it at length, to decide in what sense we are going to use it, because as it is at present being bandied about it appears to me to have no sense in itself and to remove all sense from arguments about education. There is one assumption that has been made in two or three speeches opposite, to which, I think, a caveat ought to be put in at the earliest possible moment—and I think this is the earliest possible moment. That assumption is that one system is necessarily better than two; and in half the speeches opposite the assumption has been made that a fortiori, all the more that is so if the one system is to be wholly under public and central control. I believe both these assumptions are wrong—in fact, I believe just the opposite. I think that any two systems of education are better than one. The poet warned us against the danger Lest one good custom should corrupt the world. Even if local and central education authorities had none but good customs, I think a world in which all educational sovereignty was in their hands would soon be corrupted. I know nothing about Welsh educational administration, but I hope we shall hear some argument from the other side of this question before the Minister makes any concession on it.

Photo of Professor William Gruffydd Professor William Gruffydd , University of Wales

May I say a few words, in order to assure the Committee that there is in Wales strong support for this proposal? I think that we are all agreed that the time has come for us to ask, in the terms of this Amendment, that the new Council should consider this very pressing matter. The House is not quite aware of the serious anomalies from which we suffer. Some of them have been described already by the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hughes), but there is a worse side of it than that. When the 1922 Bill was passed a very serious mistake was made on the Welsh side. Instead of ending the Welsh Board, and putting all the schools under the county councils, or, conversely, putting all the new schools under the Central Welsh Board, they kept the two schemes running side by side. I believe that it was simply forgotten that we were under a different system. But there is a further difficulty that we are going to meet in the near future. The Norwood Report recognises that practically all the school examinations shall come to an end. Now the Central Welsh Board is just an inspecting and examining authority, but it cannot inspect, because it has not got enough inspectors, and the Board of Education has got to supply the inspectors to help the Welsh Board to examine and inspect their own schools. That is one side of it. The other side is that the Central Welsh Board will have no work to do in these examinations, if the recommendations of the Norwood Report are accepted. The Central Welsh Board has now become an extraordinary piece of antique furniture and I hope the Minister will do something about it, either by placing it in the appropriate Museum or by bringing it up to date and finding real work for it.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I think there is no difficulty in accepting the spirit of this Amendment, but I would ask hon. Members not to ask me to put simply one matter into the Bill underneath one of these Councils, because I think it would upset the whole of the Bill. If they will not press their demand on this Amendment, I can tell hon. Members that this is just the sort of matter on which the Minister would value the advice of the Advisory Councils. It is essential, if we are to get any general correspondence, that we should not prevent these Councils from animadverting upon such problems, and, having established that clarity of judgment on the matter, let me say a word about Welsh secondary education. There is no doubt that, under the Welsh Intermediate Act, the Principality made great strides in secondary education, and if we want to look at some of the most interesting experiments in secondary education we have to look at Wales, and I think a tribute should be paid to this work of the Central Welsh Board under the Intermediate Act.

There are, approximately, 100 secondary schools in Wales under the Intermediate Act and about 50 established under authorities since 1902. In this Bill, secondary education of all types is to be provided for children, and therefore a process will be necessary, not only of much closer merging of schools, but of different sorts of schools, such as the senior modern and the new forms of technical schools. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) need not feel worried that we shall have some snobbishness troubles.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

There is no word for snobbish in Welsh.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I would say that the result of all this will be that the work of the Central Welsh Board in the past will be linked nip through the intermediate schools and fitted into the grid of this Bill, together with the 50 new secondary schools established since 1902, and I see no difficulty in all these schools taking their part in the general provision.

The Welsh Intermediate Act, that is, Section 9 of it, is repealed by this Statute. This is referred to in the Schedule on page 94. We saved the rest of this historic Statute for a reason which might be more acceptable to Scotsmen but is equally applicable to Wales. It is that, if we were not to save it, we could not save some £30,000 of money which goes to Wales under the Act Therefore, my object in saving this piece of historic furniture is not for purposes of artistry but for the purpose of saving £30,000. I would not like the members of the Welsh Board or their inspectors to feel that there is to be no work for them in future. There will be a system of tests, and I have no doubt that the Central Welsh Board will continue to find work suitable for it to do and for its inspectors, and they will look forward to entering into the new system, which I am sure they will do in the right spirit.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

The discussion has succeeded in securing the assurance of the Minister which hon. Members have found most satisfactory, and accordingly, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

I beg to move, in page 3, line 20, to leave out from "and," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert: each Council shall appoint its own secretary. This is a very small Amendment. It is in line with other Amendments moved to-day in an attempt to obtain a Council of greater freedom, which shall not be entirely the creature of the Board itself. Several times in the discussion it has been suggested that the content should be broadened. Several other hon. Members have Amendments on the Paper to widen the number of people who can be consulted. This Amendment is to ask that the Secretary of the Council himself, or herself, need not necessarily be an officer of the Board, and that he, or she, should be appointed by the Council itself. What I think we really want in this Amendment is to be quite certain that the Council is a free body to pursue its researches in its own way, and to have, if you like, an assessor from the Board, as has happened frequently before, but who is not necessarily an officer of the Board.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

This Sub-section, as worded, follows the existing law and practice, and I think it would be difficult to imagine the Consultative Committees being able to go outside the Board's officers in their selection. The Spens Committee was undoubtedly very greatly helped by the officer of the Board appointed to act as secretary—Dr. R. F. Young. I venture to say that nobody but an officer of the Board could have given the Spens Report the amazing send-off it had by that initial chapter dealing with the history of secondary education in this country. If these bodies are to function properly, it is clear that they must have the closest possible link with the Board, to get the proper information they require, and to be able to call upon the necessary assistance to enable them to get the materials in proper shape for the Committee. I hope that what the Minister said will be an indication that it is his desire that these Councils shall have an independent life of their own. I do not think that that life would be assisted by having someone appointed as secretary who was not an officer of the Board. In fact, I think it is very likely that they would find themselves in difficulties on a great many occasions. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) will feel that there is no desire on our part to keep these people in leading strings, and that he will feel that he can withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Sir Hugh Linstead Sir Hugh Linstead , Wandsworth Putney

I beg to move, in page 3, line 22, to leave out Sub-section (3), and to insert: (3) not more than half of the members of each Council shall be persons who are directly engaged in the statutory system of public education or in educational institutions not forming part of that system. In moving this Amendment I recognise that a great deal has been said about the composition of the Council, but I feel that something still remains to be said.

The Deputy-Chairman:

If I may say so, we may, in considering this Amendment, consider also that of the hon. baronet the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare), to insert "including persons with special knowledge of rural education," together with four Amendments on the next page, down to that in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall).

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

It is necessary to avoid repetition, and in view of the Debate we have already had on the constitution of the councils and the assurance given by the Minister, is it necessary to proceed in this way again? I understand that all that the Minister can do is to repeat the assurance he has already given on the composition of the councils. I do not know whether hon. Members wish to move the Amendments, but in any case it is a repetition of what has gone before.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I wanted to hear whether it was necessary. I do not think that it is necessary.

Photo of Sir Hugh Linstead Sir Hugh Linstead , Wandsworth Putney

I will be mindful of the hon. Member's advice if not mindful of his practice. When I listened to my right hon. Friend making his speech concerning an Amendment earlier on the Paper I rather thought he was moving an Amendment of my own and that possibly all that I needed to do was to tell him, after his persuasive remarks, that I had much pleasure in accepting it. There is another point of view to be put with regard to councils which has not been sufficiently emphasised. They have to concern themselves with the whole of the educational system and not merely with the primary and the secondary schools. That is why some of my colleagues and myself have put down the Amendment in these terms.

In Sub-section (3) of the Clause: Each council shall include persons who have had experience of the statutory system of public education as well as persons who have had experience of educational institutions not forming part of that system. We are a little concerned lest the educational system is to be handed to the professional educationists. There is an opportunity in this Bill of a new conception of education in much closer relationship to life than has been the practice in this country hitherto. I hope that in connection with the young people's colleges and with adult education we shall not be afraid to look upon things such as seamanship and navigation, forestry or mountaineering as part of education. I would like to see on these councils not merely cultural experts and educationists but an explorer, a mountaineer or a sailor, somebody who could bring in a very much wider conception of what preparation for life is than the professional educationist. There must be a very much closer connection between education and industry in future than there has been in the past. The Minister indicated that he expected somebody with experience of industrial life to be on these councils. If that is done and, as his speech indicated, he is able to enlarge the whole conception of the present system through putting on these councils people of very wide and diverse experience, he could not come very much closer to meeting the ideas in the Amendment. I do not suppose that he has very much more to say than he has said already, but my hon. Friends and I have seen in his remarks a desire to put into operation exactly the sort of things contemplated in the Amendment which is on the Order Paper.

Photo of Miss Thelma Cazalet Miss Thelma Cazalet , Islington East

My hon. Friend has made clear what we have in mind in moving this Amendment and we are all very glad to have heard what the President of the Board of Education has said already on the matter. We all agree with him that education in future must be more closely connected with national life. I really think that, to sum up what my hon. Friend has just said, it would be wise to see that the consumers of the product of education as well as the producers really have an equal share in shaping the policy of the future. One of the main reasons why we have moved so slowly on the educational front in this country in the past is that public opinion—and I mean informed public opinion—has not kept pace with educational opinion. To-day public opinion is ready and anxious for this Bill, and I believe that the speed with which we put it into operation will very largely depend on the co-operation of all sections of the community working together and not only educational experts and enthusiasts. I am sure it would be wise and right at the very outset for the President of the Board of Education to make it abundantly clear to the country that he is going to set up the advisory councils on the broadest possible basis.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare , Norwich

I hope to raise what I think will be perhaps the most important issue on this Bill, but we are approaching the end of the Sitting. On a point of Order, may I ask whether it is your intention, Mr. Williams, to put this Amendment or whether you will allow my Amendment to stand over until the next Sitting Day?

The Deputy-Chairman:

There are several subsequent Amendments which I shall put, if hon. Members wish them to be put for the purpose of a Division, but it is agreed that we should take the discussion on the Amendment which I have now called standing in the name of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead).

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare , Norwich

The greatest weakness of our educational system is the extent to which education in rural areas has lagged behind that of urban areas. If I had the time I should develop the point. The Minister made a reference to it in his speech, and I want, by moving the Amendment, to ensure that there are on the Advisory Councils persons with a great knowledge of educational problems in rural areas. That is absolutely vital, and having raised the point it will enable the Minister to reply on the next Sitting Day.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I do not understand the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare). He has told us that he was about to deal with the most important point of the Bill. It would be out of Order to discuss whether it is or not, but he proceeded to say that it was rural education and that of he had had time he would have developed it. As I represent a rural constituency, and as my constituents take a considerable interest in this matter, I am not prepared to allow the matter to come to an end on this occasion. There are a great many other hon. Members who are interested. I say this out of no disrespect to the Minister, but my hon. Friend having raised the matter in the way he did, it would be very wrong if this particular discussion came to an end at this moment.

It being the hour appointed for the interruption of business, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.