Clause 51. — (Provision of facilities for recreation and social and physical training.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1944.

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Lords Amendment: In page 42, line 3, leave out from "of" to "at," in line 5, and insert: camps, holiday classes, playing fields, play centres, and other places (including playgrounds, gymnasiums, and swimming baths not appropriated to any school or college).

Lords Amendment read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in line 1, after "camps," to insert "community centres."

This Amendment is identical with one moved in another place, and although the Minister in charge expressed sympathy with the idea of community centres, his objection to accepting it there was that the Government had a sub-committee considering the question of community centres, which had not yet reported, and it might be that local authorities rather than local education authorities would be empowered or encouraged to assist community centres, or that both would be so empowered. I think that ought not to prevent Parliament from expressing, in this Bill, its desire that local education authorities should be empowered, with the consent of the Minister, to give this assistance. The Minister would have a check against any unreasonable use of the powers; it would not prevent the Government later, if they felt it desirable, from empowering the local authorities, as well as local education. authorities, to give such assistance. Surely it is important at this stage, when local education authorities are making their plans, that they should make them as promptly as possible and that they should take account of the possibility of educational uses of community centres. Plans are being made at this moment for new areas, for the replacement of devastated areas and for the creation of large suburbs of houses where communal centres may be of the utmost importance. In connection with the development of adult education, the right use of the community centre is also a matter that we must consider. It is an issue of such importance that I hope the President will be willing to reconsider the attitude which was taken up by the Minister who represented him in another place. There is no difference in any quarter of the House as to the value of community centres, and in our desire to see them encouraged. The educational use of a community centre is of great importance. We do not want those who go to the community centre merely to have opportunities for good fellowship and for dances, whist drives and gatherings of that kind. At the heart of it should be educational work. Therefore, the local education authority ought to be able to assist in the establishment, maintenance and management of community centres, and I hope the Government will be willing to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Valentine McEntee Mr Valentine McEntee , Walthamstow West

I beg to second the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.

I am governor of a college which is known to the Minister and he is probably aware that the county are now in the process of taking over a very fine building for a community centre. I, with other gover- nors, was rather concerned as to the use to which this new centre might be put. If should be very sorry if it developed into a place merely for the holding of darts competitions, dances, whist drives and things of that kind, although I have no objection to these functions in themselves. I would like to see community centres as places where classes could be held. This Amendment seeks to give the local education authority an opportunity to make grants to a community centre for purely educational purposes. I do not know what objection there can be to that course, but if it could be done I am satisfied that it would achieve a very good purpose and would enable community centres, which will grow in importance and in number, to carry on educational work for young people and also for adults who might take part in their general work.

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

Unless my right hon. Friend the President has a very strong abjection, I hope he will accept this Amendment. It merely gives the local education authority power—it does not impose on them a duty—to have some influence in the conduct and purposes of these community centres.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Hutchinson Sir Geoffrey Hutchinson , Ilford

The House will be in sympathy with the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey), but as I listened to him I was not by any means convinced that what he was seeking to do would be effective in securing the object which he has in mind. As the Clause stands, the purpose which my hon. Friend has in mind is mare satisfactorily provided for than would be the case if this Amendment was adopted. There is included in this catalogue of places and things to which a local education authority may give their support, places at which facilities for recreation, for training and so on may be provided. I should have thought that it would be much better to leave the Clause as it stands, because as the Clause stands it is possible for the local education authority to provide the place for the community centre. It is the place that matters. If we insert the expression, "community centre," it will be necessary to insert somewhere in the Bill a definition of a community centre. It may not be easy to define a community centre. That being so, I hope that the Minister will resist the Amendment, and that my hon. Friend will feel satisfied that as the Clause stands it provides in a more effective way for the purpose which he has in mind.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The Government are thoroughly in sympathy with the idea put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey), and those who have supported him, but we take the view which has been pertly expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ilford (Mr. Hutchinson). There is ample power in the Bill as it is drafted to do all that my hon. Friends desire. In fact, there is power to aid an educational effort in institutions such as that to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Waltham-stow (Mr. McEntee) has alluded. It is enjoined as a duty on local education authorities, in this Bill, to arrange for the further education of the people of their areas, and where a community centre exists it will probably be a very convenient place at which to hold classes. I hope we shall not have quite so many classes for further education taking place in school premises in future, because some of the young people we desire to get back for further education rather resent going back to the old place which they thought they had finished with, and which did not appear to show any great appreciation of their efforts when they were attending it.

This Clause does not prevent a local education authority from erecting a community centre and it avoids the difficulty which was pointed out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ilford, because it calls it "another place." Where a local education authority desires to erect the kind of building which we know as a community centre, those words will amply cover them when they try to put their wish into effect. Therefore, I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment. We are in accord with his desire, but we have not yet decided who are the appropriate people to erect a community centre. We are in the difficulty of finding an exact definition of a community centre. We welcome my hon. Friend's idea; we believe that the Bill is ample to ensure that every encouragement will be given to local education authorities actively to pursue their powers in these matters.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

In view of the very sympathetic reply of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to the Lords Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The Lords Amendment in page 42, line 3, almost appears to take out words and put them back again, but that is necessary to enable us to do two or three things. We want to make it clear that some amenities, including playing fields, can be provided by an authority for the use of a single school if necessary. Certain other amenities can be provided by an authority if they are not appropriated to a particular school, and many amenities which can be provided, but are not so appropriated, are playgrounds other than ordinary school playgrounds. The Clause as originally drafted appears to be rather obscure and as amended we believe it will be clear and will enable these separate things to be done.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 42, line 10, at end, insert: (2) A local education authority, in making arrangements for the provision of facilities or the organisation of activities under the powers conferred on them by the last foregoing Subsection shall, in particular, have regard to the expediency of co-operating with any voluntary societies or bodies whose objects include the provision of facilities or the organisation of activities of a similar character.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment meets a wish strongly expressed during the Committee stage by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Barnes), by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) and my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), that in the Bill there should be some recognition of the work that is being done by voluntary organisations in this sphere of activity. This new Sub-section adequately recognises them and ensures that they will get appropriate co-operation from the local education authorities.

Question put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendment in page 42, line 13, agreed to.
Lords Amendment: In page 42, line 16, leave out "to three," and insert "and two."

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This and the next Amendment deal with the retention of part of the Physical Training and Recreation Act. As the Bill left the House, the first three Sections of the Act would have disappeared. Representations were made to us by the National Playing Fields Association and the Standing Joint Committee of Metropolitan Boroughs, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Key), with regard to some grants which have been promised under the Act. The Act established a very elaborate machinery, including the National Fitness Council and Area Fitness Councils throughout the country, upon whose recommendations the grants have to be made. The effect of the Amendments that we are making is to retain the grants but to remove the over elaborate machinery that had been constructed. What this means is that the power to make the grant will remain, and we shall set up an appropriate advisory committee to help us in considering claims for grants, and in that way the work that was commenced by the Physical Training and Recreation Act will be continued less cumbrously than it was being conducted prior to the war.

Question put, and agreed to. [Special Entry.]

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 42, line 41, agreed to.