Orders of the Day — Educational Expenditure (Priorities)

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West 12:00 am, 17th April 1951

One can only speak from one's own experience. The hon. Gentleman speaks from his experience and I speak from mine. I can speak from my experience of small budget sub-committees. I have been on the budget sub-committees of divisional executives. I have experienced spending the best part of the day going through the estimates to see that they are not inflated before they are passed to the county education committee. In Kent the county council cannot direct the policy from Maidstone right up the coast and to Woolwich. Unless we get local direction and interest, education will become a soulless thing. The opposition to this policy which I am advocating comes from the county councils and the county bureaucrats who find it inconvenient to have a local democracy. The planning should be done by local bodies.

I would make a plea for more prefabricated schools. I do not want to see a repetition of the old-fashioned grammar school. I do not think that the building as such has much to do with education at all. The hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. A. Maude), dealt with what he regarded as necessary in the sixth form. I could not agree with him more. Anyone who has done any lecturing knows how much easier it is to lecture to adolescents, but we should approach with more care the question of teaching primary school children. That is a job for the skilled primary school teacher. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was in the division of which I am chairman last Friday and we opened three good primary schools. I think they would have met all the requirements to which the hon. Member for Ealing, South, referred.

The whole point about prefabrication is that a school gets out of date so quickly. For many things which we consider necessary for education, our children will curse us. A remarkable example of that can be found among the old L.C.C. school buildings. It does not matter whether it is a school or a hospital or a clinic, fashions change and different ideas emerge. The whole school building programme should follow the principle of a good central hall, with prefabricated buildings wherever possible.