Orders of the Day — Educational Expenditure (Priorities)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th April 1951.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Marshall Sir Sydney Marshall , Sutton and Cheam 12:00 am, 17th April 1951

I particularly stress the emergency training of teachers because the provision for so doing which we already have might be continued, and because I do not think we can expand the training colleges to the extent we shall need during the next few years. We shall particularly need an augmented number of teachers to see us over the bulge period.

Secondly, there is the question of buildings. I am quite sure that the right long-term policy is obviously that of permanent schools. I must say very definitely—and I have some experience of all the types of schools which we have been building since the war, the Sparta and the Horsa huts, and all that sort of thing, none of which appeal to me as permanent contributions—that it is very serious to reflect that we in this country are still using for educational purposes huts built during the 1914–18 war. I hope that we shall not regard these later temporary hutments as a permanent contribution in regard to building, and that the Minister will not be deterred from pressing for the provision of the money we require with which to build permanent schools.

I always have the feeling that the Minister of Education is so complacent that he does not get a square deal from his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but, of course, I must not make that charge. One could wish that he had as hefty a fist as the ex-Minister of Health, and could get as much money for the Education services as that right hon. Gentleman seemed to get for the Health Service. However, I am hoping that if he can transfer the cost of the health and ancillary services which are at present charged to education, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might feel more generous regarding the provision of funds for purely educational purposes, such as the building of schools and the training of teachers. The figures which have been produced by the mover and seconder of this Amendment and also by the hon. Member for Itchen, are certainly indisputable. One realises that, but by merely quoting figures one will never produce the practical results which we all want to see in the educational system of this country.

What we want to see in the country is more provision for primary education. There is no argument about it. I do not think any priority should be given to one stage of education over another. We cannot reduce secondary education facilities for the benefit of primary education. They must travel together. The problem cannot be separated or divided. Education must be considered as a whole, right through from the beginning to the age of 15 years and then on to the university stage. I am glad, therefore, that attention has been drawn to this problem of further provision for primary education from this side of the House. I hope the Minister will consider the question seriously and see whether he can obtain more money to provide more buildings to take us over the "1953 bulge," though he may not be able to get the money for the more permanent type of building.

We want more teachers. I do not suppose for one moment that we can tell the Minister anything new about what he ought to do to produce more teachers and from where they should be drawn and brought into the service. Nor can we tell him anything about securing buildings. But what we want to do is to press upon him the urgency of the matter. We need these things now. We do not want to wait two or three years. In most parts of the country one hears complaints of children being kept out of school until they are six or six and a half years of age.