I beg to move,
That this House approves the said Report.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), in two successive years, has presided over a Sub-Committee of the Estimates Committee which has produced a unanimous Report on subjects of very considerable interest. Last year it produced a Report on prison buildings, which formed the subject of a very useful debate which we had for half a day. This year my hon. Friend has produced, with the assistance of his Sub-Committee, a further Report which is unanimous, and which deals with a subject which, so far as I know, has never previously formed the subject of discussion in the House.
Ever since the establishment of the public education system, we never appear to have had a full day's debate on the subject of school-building. My hon. Friend is to be congratulated that on this occasion he has managed to get not merely from his Sub-Committee but from the Committee as a whole a unanimous Report, and, so far as we on this side of the House are concerned, we are prepared to accept the Report. We ask the House to give the Report its approval.
The Sub-Committee examined a number of witnesses, it heard evidence from the Ministry itself, from representative bodies, from the Association of Education Committees, from the National Union of Teachers, from various local authorities and from persons engaged in the building industry. As a result of these investigations and listening to the witnesses, the Members were able, in the end, to put before the main Committee the Report on which the main Committee also found it possible to be unanimous.
There is a leading article in "The Times" this morning, which starts off by saying:
It is hard to controvert the main conclusion of the recent Report issued by the Select Committee on Estimates on the state of the schools. This was that the recent rate of school-building is 'quite inadequate' for the nation's agreed aims in education. When the Report is debated in the Commons today, something more will be called for than a mere display of party fisticuffs, for the Report is constructive as well as critical and its criticisms apply to both main parties. Implicit in its pages are larger questions. How serious is the nation's concern for education? What is it prepared to forgo in order to secure proper schooling for the present generation of children?
I accept whole-heartedly the comments and advice tendered in that paragraph, which is in contrast to a number of lines in the leading article of the "Sunday Times" of 28th June, which said:
The shortage of schools, and the low standard of many still in use, is largely due, like the housing shortage, to six years of wartime abstention from building. The effect is worse for schools because at this moment they are undergoing the pressure of the great 'bulge' in births just after the war. On top of these loads came the raising of the school-leaving age, which in the housing analogy was equivalent to a sudden addition of some 5 million to the population. This was the Socialists' own policy, and they must take responsibility for its consequences.
May I say that every Member of the House who was here in 1944 will agree that the raising of the school-leaving age was the policy of every party in the House at that time. To suggest that in some way or other, after 1945, we invented the raising of the school-leaving age is really to play tricks with history which even the "Sunday Times" ought to avoid.
Let us be quite clear about exactly what the Coalition Government did. They were faced with the problem as to whether to deal with the raising of the school-leaving age to 15 in some way similar to that in which Mr. Fisher dealt with it. He said it could be raised in various places by bye-laws. The principal place that raised it by byelaw was Carnarvonshire. In the greater part of the country it was ignored. I am sure that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here he would agree with me that we had discussions as to what was the best thing to do about the raising of the school-leaving age.
We could have said that there should be an appointed day in the future when the school-leaving age should be raised to 15. That, of course, would have meant that it would still have been left an open question. What we did was to pass Section 35 of the Education Act, which enacted that "compulsory school age" should mean "any age between five years and 15 years."
But knowing, in the midst of the war—and not knowing at that time when the war would end—that at the appointed day for the Act we might still be at war, provision was made whereby the implementation of the raising of the school-leaving age to 15 should be put in the Act in the form that I have just read, with a proviso elsewhere in the Act that it might be postponed to two years from the appointed day for Part II of the Act.
No sooner was the Act passed than Circular 1, issued by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that it should be postponed for a year. That was from 1st April, 1945, which was the appointed day for Part II of the Act, to 1st April, 1946. My right hon. Friend the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, in her first year of office, issued a similar statement with regard to a second year's postponement, which was the maximum postponement allowed under the Act. Therefore, the bringing into force of the raising of the school-leaving age to 15 was effected in accordance with the provisions of the Act, with reservations that had been agreed on by all the parties during the passing of the Act. Therefore, it is evident that the first complaint made by the "Sunday Times" is not relevant.
I now come to the second complaint they make, which is equally unsustainable. It is as follows:
Again, with the false priority of the ideal or showy before practical, standards were set for new school accommodation which must mean that while some lucky pupils were taught in luxury, others languished in dark, cold and insanitary schools which the building resources could not be stretched to replace. Luxury is, of course, a relative term, but the minimum proportions fixed for washing facilities and w.c.s, corridor garage floor space, and so forth, and the insistance on separate gymnasiums and school halls, set standards above those thought adequate by parents paying for their children's education at expensive public and private schools.
The first building regulations under the Act, which were those under which
building started, were drafted and approved while the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was still Minister of Education; and the idea that in some way or other the troubles that have overtaken the schools arise from something that the Labour Government did that was not contemplated by Parliament and by the Coalition Government is quite unsustainable. I do not imagine that in anything which the right hon. Lady may have to say today she will adopt either of the lines that were adopted last Sunday by the "Sunday Times."
I have mentioned these matters because I think it should be borne in mind that the Education Act, 1944, was a great joint effort on the part of all persons interested in education to try to get education into a position where we could all have a joint responsibility and feel that we were engaged on a great national service. So far as I am concerned today, I hope that I shall say nothing that will belie that view, which I held then and which I still hold.
In discussing this question of school-building, it is very easy to proceed on the basis of the simplest rules of arithmetic, to say that the Labour Party had six years in office and built so many places, so many a year, and that the Conservative Party have had two years in office and have built so many places, so divide the number by two, and, if it is better, that proves that the Conservatives are better than the Labour people. [Interruption.] That is the simplest arithmetic, about level with the mind of the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse).
Let us examine what the Act requires. There, for the first time, every local education authority was given the task of preparing a development plan showing what were the suitabilities of the existing schools and what schools were required to fill out that existing provision to reach what could be regarded as an adequate provision under the Act. Section 11 laid on the local education authorities the duty to do that within 12 months of 1st April, 1945, with a provision that if they could not do it in that time the Minister had power to extend the period. As is well known, local education authorities move at different paces, and a good many of them took more than double the time allowed by the Act to produce their development plan so that we could get an idea what the requirements of the country were and arrange for allocation of materials.
Therefore, to divide by six is certainly to divide by too many, and the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East, when he does his division sum, might consider whether four or three might not be the more appropriate figure to put in. Then we come to what has been done since the General Election of 1951. It does not follow that because a school is built during the time that a Government are in office that it was arranged for and the materials were arranged for and the consent given to proceed with it during that time. I wonder how many schools now in operation have originated entirely within the right hon. Lady's term of office. I hope she will deal with that point.
I know that there were great arguments behind me a few weeks ago as to whether the number was two or three. Taking the higher number, to give the right hon. Lady the benefit of the doubt with regard to the converted golf club which, I understand, has been put in as a new school, that does show that to draw these easy arithmetical conclusions, devoid of all logic, from the statistics for the years since about 1947, is to fall into a fallacy, and I hope that the right hon. Lady will not ask us to do that this afternoon.
I have said this much because I wish to make it quite clear that so far as I am concerned I accept the findings of the Committee, which did not attempt to apportion blame between one Government and another. I accept their conclusions as being an accurate representation of the facts, and, although they disclose some shortcomings, I am quite willing to accept those shortcomings and not to waste too much time in attempting to defend them, but simply to say that they existed and that steps were taken to remove them. But one cannot get away from the unanimous finding of this Committee, which is to be found at the foot of page VII of the Report, that among the things which produced an effect were the cuts made in capital expenditure in 1951 and the subsequent three months' moratorium.
One part of the Report is devoted to proving—as has been urged rather frequently by hon. and right hon. Members opposite—that we attempted to do too much, which, in public administration, is a thing of which I would always rather be accused than anything else. If the thing cannot be made to fit exactly, I would sooner try to do too much than too little, because there are all sorts of lags and other things that come in which make it rather difficult to keep up even to one's more ambitious programme. At any rate, it was an effort to do something, whereas the moratorium was a declaration that nothing was to be begun, and from that moratorium have flowed a good many of the difficulties that now confront the local authorities.
Now that we are getting away from the moratorium, I hope that the right hon. Lady will be able to tell us whether the development plans and the programmes that were based on them will be reinstated, or whether there is to be a perpetual postponement which, in some areas, I find is a steadily growing postponement of things for which a date had been fixed. I happen to be a governor of a Roman Catholic Convent School—a county council governor of it; I want to make that quite plain. We had a proposal which we hoped would materialise somewhere about 1956. We are now told that the earliest date by which we can expect to get sanction for it is 1962.
I have in front of me the "Bletchley District Gazette" for Saturday, 20th June, 1953, in which there is the heading:
Minister Cuts School-Building Plans, Bletchley Gets One, Slough Gets Five.
I want to make it quite plain that I am not taking part in any controversy between Bletchley and Slough as to what is the right number they ought to get. The report in that paper ends by stating
Twelve months ago, the Minister of Housing and Local Government met the Bletchley Urban Council and gave the firmest promise that he would go back to his fellow Ministers and stress the need for Bletchley's educational requirements under the new expansion scheme to be given the first priority.
Perhaps when the right hon. Gentleman replies tonight, instead of the Parliamentary Secretary, he will be able to tell us what he means by "the new expansion scheme" and "the first priority." I must
say that until I read about it in this paper I did not know of its existence.
The reply to our request "—
says one of the members of the Divisional Executive—
on this new programme indicates to me that nothing of the kind is being done. We were congratulated by the Minister and everybody concerned for our public spirit, for being the first to accept the expansion under the town Development Act, but we now find that at the first opportunity they have failed to implement their promise, and that, instead, we are getting sheerly neglected.
This moratorium brought to an end all new starts with regard to schools for a period of three months at the beginning of 1952. We would like to know how far into the future that is to be projected. Is it possible that there will be a restoration of the dates for some of these schools that were in development plans and programmes, or will the three months remain about the period during which everything will be delayed; or, again, is it now proposed that the development plans generally shall be revised and new starting dates fixed for projects that have been put into them and sent to the Ministry of Education? I think that we are at least entitled to know that.
The problems that have so far confronted local authorities who have not been disturbed by a great influx of population have, in the main, been in the primary schools, but starting from about the end of 1955, or possibly a little earlier, that problem will move over to the secondary schools. Of course, if we are to get anything like parity of treatment for the different types of primary schools, we have to bear in mind that where old buildings are relied upon, a good all-range school, which may very well now be a secondary modern school, was built for classes of 40, and, in some cases, even more.
The reduction in the size of a classroom during my lifetime has been rather considerable. The first school in which I taught when I left college in 1906 had 73 pupils in a class. I ceased my life as an active teacher in 1914, and I had never had a class of fewer than 55 in a county where standards were always rather high compared with the rest of the country. Those schools are now being asked to accommodate, with a larger school population, secondary schools in which the class, we hope, will not be larger than 30.
I know that there are some people who say, "Well, you can double up classes in a room. You can have two classes in a room." I do not believe that anybody who knows anything about the subject would regard that as a satisfactory method of conducting a school. My mind goes back to the elementary school in which I was taught where we had four classes in a room, and one normally learned more about the lesson being given to another class than about the one intended for oneself. We should like to hear from the right hon. Lady what are her proposals for dealing with the influx of children into the secondary schools, not merely in the new areas, but in the old areas where, if classes are to be small, she will lose a considerable amount of accommodation.
For the first time again in the history of education we get from a Committee of this House a full and impartial investigation of the problem of the old school and the black-listed school. I regard these as among the most valuable of the Committee's paragraphs, because they bring into light after an investigation a problem which has been known for a good many years and which has presented in various parts of the country a considerable difficulty over a long period.
I see the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Sir S. Marshall) sitting opposite me. He and I were engaged for many years in a county where we had a considerable influx of population into the northern part where good, new schools were built, but we were left with old schools in the rural areas of the county which we were unable to deal with owing to building operations going on in the other part.
I was continually being confronted—and I have no doubt the hon. Member was when he became chairman of the education committee—with the old residents in the county who said, "Why should all these newcomers get the good schools while we, who have lived here all our lives and our parents before us, have to send our children to the old, insanitary schools in the villages?" As a matter of fact, that county never had a blacklisted school, which made me feel that the criterion was very bad indeed for a school to go on to the black list.
This is the problem which has been posed in this Report, and it is a problem which the right hon. Lady and whoever holds her office during the next few years will have to take into very serious consideration after the limelight that has been directed into these places by this Report. I should like to ask her whether, in the first place, she proposes to have the new survey that the Report recommends, because, after all, black-listed schools were so listed about 1924, and there are plenty of schools in the country whose buildings and sanitary arrangements have deteriorated seriously in the 29 years between that period and this. I hope that we shall have a statement on this matter.
There is a reference in the Report to another matter on which I think the right hon. Lady should be willing to say something today, and that is the problem of the schools which have become controlled schools. There was an arrangement in the Education Act by which two choices were given to the managers of denominational schools. They could become voluntary-aided schools, in which case they retained full control over the teaching, appointment of staff, and so on, and were responsible for substantial charges in respect of the fabric of the school building. It was recognised from the first that the controlled school status would only be of value to the Church of England.
The Roman Catholic community made it plain from the first—and I do not think that anybody ever doubted but that they would stick to that decision—that they could not accept the controlled school status which would mean the transfer of the fabric of the school to the local education authority, the acceptance of the agreed syllabus, and an alteration in the balance of managers so that instead of one-third being representative of the public, one-third would, in future, be representative of the denomination. The school fabric would become the entire responsibility of the local education authority
I know that there is some evidence in this Report that there are some people who resent schools becoming controlled. I have always hoped myself that a larger proportion than those now controlled would, in fact, become controlled, because I believe the controlled school is the proper school for what is known as "the school" in the single-school area. Such a school is frequently in bad condition, though the site is usually right for the village. It is a great advantage that these schools can be brought up to modern conditions, and the sites represent the best place in a village or small town for the school to be.
I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how far it is now possible to have a programme for dealing with those schools which have already been controlled, because hitherto their repair has been a matter of voluntary contributions. From now on it is a charge on the public funds. I sincerely hope that an effort will be made to utilise these schools and to make provision on their suitable sites especially for primary schools up to the best modern standards.
There is a further difficulty which arises in this matter. While we loosely talk of them as church schools, not all of them are the financial responsibility of the Church of England or any other denomination. A good many of them are privately owned and although they bring some scandal to the Church because they are referred as church schools, in fact, they are the property of a family which possibly represented the squirearchy in the district in the old days, but they are not now in a position to bring them up to date. I am informed that, on occasions, conflicts arise between managers and trustees about the appropriate service to be rendered to these schools.
I hope that the right hon. Lady will be able to tell us what is the attitude of the Ministry towards the problem that the great number of controlled schools presents. May I be allowed to add that I hope there will be a far larger number of schools becoming controlled within the next few years.
A substantial part of the Report deals with the time lag between housing and the provision of school buildings. This is a thing which has given a good deal of trouble and it appears to show a lack of co-ordination—if I may use a word which I do not very much care for using; I share with my right hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, South (Mr. H. Morrison) his general objection to it—possibly at Ministerial level, possibly at local authority level with regard to the incoming of new populations of children.
One difficulty is that while in county boroughs the housing and the education committees are the same, in the counties outside London the county council is the education authority but the housing authorities are a variety of county district councils within the county. It may be that there is some need there for greater co-operation between the education authority and the housing authority. But that very considerable difficulties have arisen cannot be denied, as the Report shows, and there is nothing that antagonises more the women who go out to a new housing estate than finding when they get there that no provision, or inadequate or unsuitable provision, has been made for the education of the children they bring with them or who are born on the estate.
Apparently there is also a problem in some of the cities where I would have thought that co-ordination internally in the local authority would have been easier than in the counties. This has led to considerable charges for transport. I hope that every effort will be made to ensure that schools shall be available in these big cities in close proximity to the children. If there is one thing that gives to a suburban estate something of a community spirit, it is the provision of a school to which not merely the children can go, but in the hall of which the various social functions of the new locality can be performed. It is absolutely necessary that as soon as possible after that type of estate has been established there shall be created a satisfactory social life.
There is another valuable section of the Report which deals with the building of the new schools. I welcome especially the paragraphs which indicate that teachers should be associated with the planning of new schools in those areas where opportunity has been taken to set up a consultative committee between teachers and the local education authority, for there can be no doubt that the schools become far more practical for working in than in those places where the architect has no opportunity of knowing what is required in a school that is being built. It is necessary to have something more than a co-opted teacher who may happen to be on the education committee. What is wanted is a panel of teachers from different types of schools who will be able to give to the local education authority the kind of advice that will enable them to have schools which can be pleasant places to work in.
I want to say a word or two about some of the suggestions with regard to prefabrication. Where it can be employed without detriment to the permanent value of the school, I think it is to be welcomed, but I hope that we shall have schools of which the children can be proud. After all, the school is the first contact of the child with the wider life of the community, and a building which has its own individuality, not necessarily with ornate architectural features but something that makes it their school, to which they can allude with reasonable pride, and in the upkeep of which they can also be persuaded to take reasonable pride, is a valuable help to any education system.
The recommendations that are to be found on pages 21 and 22 of the Report appear to me to be fully justified by the evidence that the Committee heard. I hope sincerely that Her Majesty's Government will find it possible to accept all of them and to put them into operation as speedily as circumstances will allow. I can see no reason why the Government could not have accepted the Report in the same spirit that I have endeavoured to indicate we accept it on this side of the House. I do not wish to over-emphasise this point but, after all, they had a slight majority on the Committee.
This is a unanimous recommendation, not of people who met together for one afternoon but who sat and heard evidence and who, it is quite plain from the evidence, were inspired by a common purpose, irrespective of their party allegiance, to do the best they could, to get at the truth of the present situation, and to provide for something better for the future.
I accept what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, but I am sure he would be the first to say that if there had been anything in the Report of the Sub-Committee to which he objected, he would have taken the necessary steps on the Sub-Committee to see that his views were appropriately recorded.
Would my right hon. Friend permit me to interrupt, because we do not want a misunderstanding? In fact, there was not a majority of a political party on the Sub-Committee because the Chairman of the full Committee has full membership of the Sub-Committee. I am only emphasising this because no question of party arose.
Yes, he and I had some argument as to what the name of his constituency should be and I regret to say that I won.
That interchange of views is really confirmatory of what I have said. I am certain that if any hon. Member on either side had felt that the findings were not in accordance with the evidence, they would have expressed their views by calling a Division, and the same would have happened on the main Committee. I am certain that if any hon. Member on the Sub-Committee had been outvoted on the Sub-Committee, which did not happen, when he came to the main Committee he would have taken the necessary steps to see that matters were put right there.
This is a unanimous Report from a representative Committee, who gave a great deal of time to the consideration of these matters. I would have hoped that the Government could have accepted the Report and have given us an unequivocal assurance that they would do their best to implement it. However, I see that there is an Amendment on the Order Paper and that the right hon. Lady has been put in her proper place by her colleagues in the list of names at the head of it. They are the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Privy Seal, the Secretary of State for Scotland—he is an Education Minister—the Minister of Housing and Local Government and then, number 5, the Minister of Education. We believe that this is part of the trouble. The right hon. Lady is not a member of the Cabinet. She is sent for when she is wanted and, if she wants to come, she has to let them know she is coming.
In my view, no Minister in that position gets appropriate consideration at a Cabinet meeting. Ministers in that position are always there as special pleaders. The value of being in the Cabinet is not that they have to give up a great deal more of their time to reading papers. It is the fact that they can be constantly bringing before the Cabinet, as other items arise, the matters that reflect on their own Departments. I regret that the right hon. Lady is not a member of the Cabinet. I would regret that any Minister of Education in any Government, except, possibly, a Government in time of war with a War Cabinet, should be out of the Cabinet.
I sincerely hope that one effect of this Report, unanimous as it is, will be to impress on the Prime Minister, when, as we hope will shortly be the case, his health is restored and he can give his attention to these details of the Government, that the Minister of Education should be within the Cabinet. Education is the one Department which can secure that victory on the battlefields becomes a permanent victory for the country. It is the children in the schools today who will determine whether the sacrifices were worth while and whether the spirit of our people is to be as high in the future as it has been in the past.
I was reading last night,
But an hour of Grace and Walter Read.
I thought that an hour by Watson and Bailey was quite as good as anything that they could have done. I do not believe that there is any falling off in the spirit of our young people. Many people write to me as if I invented juvenile delinquency. All the problems of youth arose when I went to the Home Office. Twice in my lifetime I have seen the older generation lament the falling off of
the younger, and I have seen the younger prove that they were at least as good as their detractors—and I believe the same today.
But the younger generation have a far heavier and far more serious problem to solve than any that confronted us or our predecessors. The right hon. Lady's Department is the place where they can be equipped for it, and they should have schools of which they can be proud. They should have buildings, as far as the resources of the nation will allow, that will enable them to get, according to their several aptitudes, the training that will equip them to take their place in society when their time comes.
I should have hoped that this Report could have been acccepted, but I am asked in the Amendment to welcome
the emphasis laid in the said Report on the importance of school-building
and then to express my confidence
that Her Majesty's Government has made and is continuing to make the best use of available resources. …
That is a three months' moratorium. No use of the material resources—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] After all, during three months—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) would make that remark aloud.
This is not old age detracting youth. This is youth advising old age, and I am prepared to take my own estimate of what is the proper course to pursue. That three months destroyed the confidence of the local education authorities. It will be a very long time, unless this Report is, not merely adopted, but speedily implemented, before that confidence can be restored,
I beg to move, to leave out from "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
welcomes the emphasis laid in the said Report on the importance of school-building and is confident that Her Majesty's Government has made and is continuing to make the best use of available resources in the interests of the children, in order to deal with the serious educational situation which they found on taking office.
There are many points on which I fully agree with what the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has said. I think we all want to see good schools. We all want to see schools of which people can be proud, and we all want to see more schools.
And we all want to see more teachers. In fact, I think I shall be able to show that on all those points there is no disagreement.
I am not addressing the House on party disagreements. I want to examine the Report and to give the House the facts and figures from the documents that we have and to point to certain facts and figures in this Report. It is an entirely factual survey that I wish to give first. I have noted the right hon. Gentleman's questions, but if there are any that I overlook I shall see that they are answered.
I do not wish to be rude to those who have compiled the Report—as the right hon. Gentleman says, it has nothing to do with party, because both parties were on the Committee; but, looking at it as a document that is going out to the public, I think that in many cases the drafting is most unfortunate. Take, first, the introduction. Most of us know a good deal of the inside history of what has been done, but to the public and to people who have not the same information I think that the drafting is most unfortunate.
Paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Introduction, on page vii, contain what I might call the aims of the 1944 Act. What was wanted to be done was described by the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson as "the overhaul of the entire system of State education." She also called it, and I thoroughly agree, "a job for a generation."
Where I would say that the drafting is unfortunate is that these two paragraphs represent the big scheme that is ahead of us all and the use of that as the background for the discussion of what is going on now and has been going on during this period. I feel, and I know from conversations I have had with others, that it has been thought, the Committee having said that that was the background, the whole scheme should take up a generation and that the amount which had been done was a criticism, and that quite a substantial part of the big scheme could have been done by any Government during these seven years. I think that that is unfortunate drafting.
It would have been better had a paragraph been inserted between those two to explain that the job was an enormous one. I know that suggestions have been made as to its size. A rough guess was made, I am told, in 1946 that something like £1,000 million would be involved, spread over 15 years at £70 million a year. Now, I am told that the figure would be quite half as much again. I only say this because I think it is unfortunate that the one is against the other. Furthermore, the real situation was vastly different, and it was thought perhaps that we would have all the children in light, airy educational buildings. I wish that we had, and so do we all; but I think that for the public the drafting is unfortunate.
I am sure that the right hon. Lady wants to be fair to this Committee. If she looks at the paragraph to which she has referred she must admit that the Committee then proceed to point out the difficulties which no one could have foreseen.
I would suggest that I should be allowed to make my speech without interruption and to make as clear and factual a statement as I can. The question is very complex. There are a great many figures I want to give the House for the House to judge, but if there are constant interruptions it will be very much more difficult.
The second thing I would say is that the matters mentioned in paragraph 8 were said to be unforeseen by the Acts of 1944 and 1946. I gather that it is suggested that those in charge of those Measures when they were being passed could not foresee these things, not those who began to carry out those Measures. It is a little difficult to know which the Committee mean. Take, first, the high birth rate between 1944 and 1948. It had been increasing in the years before the war, but the peak certainly was 1947.
Therefore, it was known even by 1945 that it was beginning to go up and I do not think we can say that the increase was unknown or could not have been foreseen, although I do say that the total increase in the year 1947 could not have been known before 1948. Those would be the children coming into school in 1952. But local authorities had been warned there would be more children in the schools in 1949; that is in the circulars; they were the children born in 1944. I do not think that is a very factual statement, but it may perhaps have been thought worthwhile putting in.
Of course, the defence programme certainly made a difference, but that was not until 1950, so it did not affect the position in the early stages. Now I come to item (iv). Here is rather a confusion because it says:
The competing demands upon materials and labour made by the housing programme which, in their present"—
expanding form, make it difficult for schools to keep pace with houses in spite of evidence before Your Committee which clearly stated that 'it is the policy of the Government that the school-building programme should, in general, keep pace with the housing programme.'
There, of course, is the point.
It is not only competition in materials between housing and schools—there are many more competitions even inside the educational sphere. We have the competing demands of technical education, special schools and nursery schools, and also the competing demands of industry which uses more steel and is, therefore, likely to be a competitor. But, apart from competing demands, I think that what is meant here is synchronising, getting the schools and houses ready at the same time so that, as the right hon. Member said, families going to housing estates will not be extremely annoyed because their children have to be exported somewhere else.
I am sorry that I cannot give way. Perhaps the hon. Lady will be speaking later.
The difficulty as we have seen is that of getting houses and schools ready at the same time. Where I think Committee are not clear on this—to all of us, and
certainly for the public who have not the opportunity of looking into the matter—is where they say:
which is true,
that it is the policy of the Government that the school-building programme …
But they do not point out that it had not been the policy of all previous Governments. It had not been the policy of the Labour Government. It was the policy of this Government, the Government now in office, but it was not the policy before. That seems to have been forgotten—[Interruption.]—I am dealing with the Report, which is what we are discussing.
I have said that I do not think it was wise to put that statement into this paragraph unless it had been stated that it was the policy of this Government and had not been the policy before. If it was not the policy before, as I think people would infer from the words "the Government," I think it would have been better to add that it was now the policy of the Government and had not been the policy before; those words should be in.
Exactly, that is the point. The Committee have taken the statement from the Ministry memorandum saying that this is the policy and "is" is the present case, but the policy before was quite different. It would have been right if they had said it was the present policy.
What was the policy before? It was stated quite clearly by the then Minister of Education, the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, on 1st July, 1946. She was receiving similar Questions to those put to other Ministers on this subject of labour and materials and competing demands. She said:
Other Departments have claims on labour and materials as well as the Ministry of Education, and housing has an overriding priority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st July, 1946; Vol. 424, c. 1804.]
That has never been brought out. So, at the beginning, housing had a priority, an overriding priority. I suppose that the right hon. Member would call that a time when schools were sacrificed to
houses. The next point is on the subject of sub-paragraph (V). The right hon. Member thought this one of the most important. This sub-paragraph says:
The cuts in capital expenditure made in 1951 and the subsequent three months moratorium, which undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the school-building programme.
That would seem a very clear statement and there are some notes in the margin to show the reference for the evidence. But this is quite the most peculiar paragraph and I am sure all hon. Members of the Committee must have read and re-read it. I cannot understand how they did not come to look into it more closely. First of all:
The cuts in capital expenditure made in 1951 …
Did the Committee see whether that was correct? There was more capital expenditure on school-building in 1952 than there has been in any other year.
I am not talking now about starts or completions. More work was done in 1952 than had been done in any other year.
… the subsequent three months moratorium …
Again I say that that has gone out to the public as if it meant a moratorium on all work. Why did they not put "a moratorium on new starts"? I know from the people who have written to me and asked me about it that it has been thought that "the subsequent three months moratorium" meant a subsequent complete moratorium on school-building. Hon. Members know that that was not the case, but if we did not know that it was not the case the words in the paragraph would give a wrong impression.
Then we have:
… which undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the school-building programme.
There are certain notes to show where one should look far that, but there is no evidence in the Report, as far as I can find, that that was the case. We find that starts were put back. We find that if we read Annexes 1 and 5 and the answer to Question No. 1984. But why, when the Report was compiled, were the
answers which really deal with the matter not included?
What about the answer to Question No. 1408? This is given by the Hertfordshire authority, which is praised in the Report—"a most efficient one, extremely good," as the right hon. Gentleman says. Did anybody look at what was said by the representatives of Hertfordshire and has been excluded from this reference and is exactly contrary to the evidence? What did they say? They said that the moratorium on new starts was the best thing that could have happened. Hon. Members can read what they said; I do not want to take up time by quoting it. They said that the schools were being built slowly, but this was the best thing that could have happened and as a result they got their schools built more quickly.
Did anyone look at the answer to Question No. 453? There the representatives of the Local Education Authorities Association are complaining that too many schools were started and that they were getting to the stage when starts were taking place rapidly and completions were slow. A point about that has already been made today. The strange thing is that, when the Report was being compiled, it was not discovered that that was not according to the evidence. The Committee may think that it was undoubtedly an adverse effect but as they put that in when the evidence was exactly the opposite they should at least have had a note in the margin to direct the reader's attention to the fact.
I know that the Committee took a great deal of trouble and a great deal of evidence, but—it might have been because there was not enough time, or there might have been some other reason—some of us who are interested in this are sorry that evidence was not given by the County Councils' Association or the Association of Municipal Corporations.
Now I come to the points in the Report and the reasons which I want to give the House for the changes that I made. As I go along, I want to deal with the recommendations and to answer the questions which the right hon. Gentleman put to me. The Report covers six years of the Labour Government and 16 months of the Conservative Government, but I am responsible, and this Government is responsible, for all the changes that we have made, and I want to show the House what was my reason for making the changes and let the House judge by the facts, against the background of the years before, whether they were right or wrong. I must give the House a good many figures. I feel that the public and the House ought to know these facts.
I say at once that they were years of great difficulty at the beginning. At first, the whole machine had to be built up and everything had to be arranged, and all this had to be done in the face of very great difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman talked about not deferring any longer—it could have been done by legislation—the raising of the school-leaving age to 15. I want to keep entirely outside, as far as I possibly can, any discussion on whether policies were right or wrong. It could have been done by legislation. We know about the Orders in Council for the one year and the two years.
The reason given for the delay was that there was not an adequate supply of teachers and schools—I am paraphrasing, but I believe that the word "supply" was used—for the children between five and 14. If there was not an adequate supply for children between five and 14, it could have been put off for the two years in order to build that up. I am not going to argue—I am merely stating the case—whether it would have been better one way or the other, but anyone can see that it was not an adequate supply for the children from five to 14 for very long. There could have been legislation. But I said quite clearly that I am in favour of the 10 years from five to 15. The whole problem is, "Was the timing right?"; but I am not going to argue policy. I shall simply deal with the facts.
So it was arranged not to defer the raising of the school-leaving age, and it was stated in HANSARD of 1st July of that year that there would be an extra 390,000 children by September, 1948, because of the raising of the school leaving age alone. Of the places required, 168,000 were to be provided in temporary huts. It was well put by Miss Wilkinson that in dealing with this enormous problem we could either go forward, dealing with it on a broad front, or could take certain important things and, as she said, put the whole of the weight of the Department behind them.
She and the Government chose the latter course, and continued to choose it, and I think it was right to do so. It was said that that was the first priority. There were the extra children remaining in the schools and the first priority was to provide places for them. Permanent accommodation could not be provided for them in time, and so 168,000 had to be accommodated in huts, and it was stated that that programme would go on through 1946 and 1947 and into 1948.
It was said that the next priority would be the school meals service. Then, while the local education authorities were being given time to produce their development plans, what was the next urgent job? It was the replacement of inefficient and insanitary buildings and schools and the provision of buildings for new housing estates. That was said in July, 1946. It was again said, quite rightly, that once we had the priorities we must stick to them. But it was found that it was not possible to stick to the priorities.
The next thing I want to point out, because it leads to my difficulties, is that the priorities had to be changed, and changed within a year. They were changed, and a circular went out in June, 1947, announcing the change. They were changed because, as will be seen, the difficulties were very much the same, in a great many cases, as we have been dealing with ever since.
This is what Circular 143 said in June, 1947:
The national deficit of building labour is likely to be matched—and, in the next year or two, exceeded—by the shortage of certain principal building materials, notably steel and timber, and will inevitably entail drastic curtailment of new works programmes generally.
So, within the year, it had to be changed and we had to have new priorities and programmes.
In December of this year, 1947, Circular 155 stated:
Since even in 1949 it will be essential to avoid new building wherever possible the Minister will require to be assured in each case that there are no existing premises which can reasonably be used to meet the need.
By December, 1947, priorities were fixed. There was to be building for the extra number of children coming into
these schools, because of the school-leaving age and the extra number of births, and there was to be planning for new housing estates, but not to replace old schools. There was not to be building for the decrowding of old schools. We were to use—and we have used ever since—any premises which could be found. That is the policy the last Government continued, and I have not changed it. I wish I could have changed it, and I am sure the previous Government did not like it. But that was decided in 1947 and has been carried on ever since.
Having decided the policy, and having said what were the difficulties the next point is how did they deal with them? These schools had to be built. I would point out, in passing, that the number of extra places required because of the raising of the school-leaving age, was 390,000—that was stated on 1st July. We must remember that there were spare places in the schools at that time, but the number of new places added between 1945 and 1948 was only 300,000. So by 1948 the situation, as can be seen from the circulars sent out, was very serious. Already there was a young population in the school, which would increase in 1949, and there would be more in 1950 and 1951, because that was when the bulge was coming. But by 1948, for one reason or another, no effective steps were being taken.
May I finish please?
There was the same mistake throughout, and I have tried to correct it. Too much was started and too little completed. The yardstick has always been how much was started. Look at the speeches in each Estimates debate. What is the yardstick which is taken?—"We have more schools being built"—"we have started more schools"—"the number of schools on the ground is going up." But what was wanted, what we all wanted and what we now regret we did not get, were completed schools. The schools were started, but were not completed and could not be used by the children—[Laughter.]—yes, I am going to finish—
—I shall have to give a lot of figures and facts. In the three years, 1946–47–48, projects for primary and secondary schools were approved to the value of £34·3 million. But projects have only been started amounting in value to £23·4 million, and the amount of work done in 1947 was only £5·5 million. The amount of work done, the value of the work done, in 1948 was £12 million. So, right from the start, we find that is the amount of work done which could be used by the children. And, as I say, in 1945–48 only 300,000 places were added. What happened after that?
I have always wondered, when I have read in the Reports of the added facts which could not have been foreseen, why the several financial crises were not included, because they did make a great difference. I know that in one case it is stated that houses were held back in one year because of a fuel crisis. I do not know whether that was foreseen.
What it is quite clear were not foreseen, and are not included, are the financial crises. I realise the difficulties of 1949 and the financial crisis then. I realise that the then Prime Minister, now Leader of the Opposition, had to come to the House and say that because of it there must be a slowing down in the advance. But in 1948, in spite of the fact that this amount had been approved, and some of it started, and so little completed, an even larger programme was started.
This time it was to be projects up to £51·7 million which were approved. What happened? The same weary story which has been repeated the whole way through. At the end of the programme year only one-third was completed. The year after the end of the programme 40 per cent. of the work was still undone. So that is the stage at which we had arrived at the end of 1949. When I took office at the end of 1951 that is what was not done.
What are the facts? I was confronted with a situation where there was £120 million worth of work on the ground which was not completed—[Interruption]— I am giving the House the facts. When I took office there was £120 million worth of work on the ground not completed, and no use as schools. That figure included 400,000 school places. An amount of £15 million was for technical purposes, but we will not go into the rest of it because we are dealing with schools. There were 400,000 school places not finished; £120 million worth of work not completed.
What was the reason? Why did the representatives of Hertfordshire and others say that it was a good thing that we had a moratorium? In November, as the House will remember, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the new policy, the moratorium on new starts for three months. I was absolutely convinced, and it is only common sense, that these places were wanted urgently and would be completed more quickly if no new starts were made for a short time.
There was also a shortage of steel. One of the reasons building has been so slow is that too many schools had been started and the materials were not available. When one makes inquiries one is told by the architects, "We started; we had to wait; we were waiting for steel from such and such a date.'" At the next place they say that they were waiting for something else. There was a shortage of steel. There was £120 million worth of work on the ground. It was urgently required, and I was quite convinced then that it was right to make that change.
We can tell whether or not it was right by the result. The amount of work done went up in the next year. I am not talking of completions and of starts. I am talking of actual building work done. I want to apologise to the House. Last week or the week before, in a Parliamentary answer, a figure was given wrongly. The figure for the amount of work done in 1951 was not correct. It was £34,500,000. I came in at the end of that year. I regret that the figure for 1952 was not given correctly. It was given as £36,400,000. I apologise for the mistake. The figure was found to be £38 million.
Until now I have claimed—and it is a very good claim—that the fact that the moratorium on new starts was made resulted in £2 million worth more being done. I now find that it was £3 million worth more.
I must get on.
The point was to find how we could get places for the children to go into. We are now getting the starts kept more in line with the rate of building. This year we shall have a further increase on the £37 million.
I am sorry it was given as £36 million, but it should have been £37 million. The difference between the one year and the other is £3 million. It went up, and £3 million worth more work was done in 1952 than in 1951. We are now getting into the stage where it will be £40 million. We are getting the starts stepped up to £40 million.
I now come to the extra places. The mistake at that time was in beginning too many and finishing too few. We wanted to get these schools built for the children to go into. I do not believe that these schools would have been completed now if we had gone on with the same policy. In 1950, the number of places completed was 131,000. In 1951, it was 159,000 and in 1952 it was 218,000.
We are dealing with the schools completed. I am glad to tell hon. Members that this year I confidently expect the 218,000 to increase to 250,000. That satisfactory result is described in the Report by the statement that this moratorium on new starts undoubtedly had an adverse effect. The adverse effect was that there were more school places ready for the children to go into.
There are several reasons why school building was so slow. I say at once that in 1949, when the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, announced that because of the financial crisis there had to be some slowing up of the advance, he also announced that a committee would be set up to go into the question of costs and design. I wish that the Labour Government had done that earlier, because by 1950 they began to cut down costs, which have gone down very considerably since then. We all know that one of the reasons for the very slow building was the design of the schools and also the organisation not getting the materials there.
The reason we are getting schools more quickly is, first, that we do not start too many so that we cannot complete them and, secondly, that we have new designs and good organisation for consultation between the Ministry and the local authorities. Here I would say that I thoroughly agree with the recommendations in the Report about maintaining and improving that organisation. The administrative arrangements set up by the Ministry of Education for dealing with this matter are given the highest commendation in the Report.
What has happened is that now there is a reduction of nearly 50 per cent. in the labour and materials for schools compared with 1949. In 1949, £1 million was the amount spent to produce 2,800 secondary school places. Now, for the £1 million, we get 3,800 secondary school places. If hon. Members examine the facts and figures they will find that costs have been brought down in the last two years. It began before—
I mentioned it, as hon. Gentlemen know.
If we take the cost of a school put up in 1949 and put it into the value of mid-1952 prices, what difference do we find? A primary school put up in 1949 cost £260 a place. In 1952, they were being built at £136 per place, and the figures for secondary schools in 1949 and mid-1952 were £434 and £235 respectively. Before 1949, they were even worse, and more expensive.
The time taken on the traditional method of building has also been reduced by about one-third, and sometimes more, whereas, in the case of pre-fabrication, the time is probably one-third less. On the point made in the Report about pre-fabrication, I was interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman said about it, and I quite agree with the recommendation about maintenance charges and with the comment that the new materials are standing up to the different uses to which they have been put. On this wonderful increase in building, I should like to give full credit to those who worked at that time in the local government offices, in my Department and in the building industry, because it was an absolute triumph that that amount of work was got through. In 1952, the rate was such as had never been achieved before.
We hear a good deal about the estimate of 1,150,000 places which was made by my predecessor. When I saw that estimate, and all the way through this controversy, I did not think that the estimate mattered at all. I knew that it must be the essential minimum, and my idea was to get on and see whether we could not build more. When I saw the situation with all these schools unfinished, I did not think at that time that we would have reached the estimate, and we would not have done unless we had had this extra pressure in 1952. I am glad to say that it will be reached, and I would have liked to have been able to give an exact figure, but I think it is wiser to wait until the end of the year. I will say, however, that it can be reached, and that I hope we shall have more places still—even in excess of that estimate.
In fairness to my predecessor, because I think it is only right, I want to say that I did not fix that estimate. I had nothing to do with it. The estimate had been fixed, and it has been criticised for not taking into account the continuance of above-average classes and makeshift arrangements, such as hired halls. The Government's policy was decided, and the circulars to which I have referred were sent out in 1947. They pointed out that the Government were going to build only for the extra population and the housing estates, and that they were not, building to deal with overcrowded classes or to replace old schools, because they were going to keep the hired halls and the old schools. It was on that basis that the estimate was made, and it is only fair to my predecessor to say so. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman opposite did not mention that it was the estimate of the late Mr. Tomlinson which was being criticised, and I therefore thought it only fair to put that on record.
I fully accept the point made about consultation with local authorities. I assure the Committee that these consultations do go on, and that I want them to go on. Consultations can even go on after programmes have been sent to the local authorities, and if they can put up a good case for more schools, that case can be considered.
I should like now to refer to Question 418 in the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee, because I know that there has been a good deal of feeling about this matter in educational circles in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Here, unfortunately—and I am not blaming anybody—the witness made a statement which is not correct. It is about overcrowding in a number of schools, and the witness said:
It is stated quite baldly in the North Riding that within a year they will have to operate a shift system for infants. They will have to use schools twice.
Those are not the facts, and I now have other information which I have been given, and I think it is right to give it to the Committee. I have had the information from the North Riding.
In September, 1952, a programme was sent in, but objections were taken because there were not enough places. It was said that, if the programme was so limited, there would be this difficulty, but never was it said that it would arise within a year. By November, 1952, that had been changed, and the programme had been enlarged in order to deal with this problem. I think the Committee ought to know that, and I myself quite realise that the witness who gave the evi- dence could not, I am perfectly certain, have had the information that the change had been made in November. He was giving evidence in February, and I think it was very unfortunate that there should go into that Report some evidence that was not correct. These particular facts had to be brought out, because of the feeling on the matter in the North Riding.
Now, in regard to consultations on advanced programmes, the difficulty arises because of this recommendation about three years. I do not think it is possible to have absolutely firm arrangements three years ahead. At the present time, programmes are being drawn up with a reserve list, and the authorities get practically three years' notice, at any rate, for half the programme. Another difficulty is that the local authority itself cannot be absolutely certain of the location of all these schools. I think there is also some difficulty in regard to this estimate of 1,150,000 places.
There should be as much consultation as possible to try to get the schemes through, but the actual final sanction cannot be given three years ahead. I do not think that any Government of whatever party could say that they would always be willing to state the exact amount of capital investment that could be arranged for schools three years ahead, but I do agree that schemes should go forward, though I do not think an absolutely firm and irrevocable decision can be given.
Now I come to the subject of the gaps between the houses and the schools. The Committee urged that these gaps should be closed as quickly as possible, and I quite agree, but the Committee seem to think in terms of an expanded housing programme. Before I go into the details, I would point out that, whatever we have in the way of materials and everything else, we cannot necessarily guarantee primary and secondary schools being opened at exactly the same time as the houses are completed. A decision is taken that a certain site is to be a housing estate. It is for houses, and not for schools, and unless we can be certain that the schools are started ahead of the houses, we shall not necessarily get both completed at the same time.
The only way to keep them together and prevent this situation from arising would be to hold back the construction of the houses, and I do not think that any hon. Members of this Committee would suggest that. It is better to let the people go to the new houses and allow the children to be transported to the schools, because I am perfectly certain that, from the point of view of the health of the children, as well as from the educational point of view, it is far better to do that; and the right hon. Gentleman opposite will appreciate that point, in consequence of his experience in his discussions with the teachers. What do the teachers say in areas where there is inadequate housing? They say that the children cannot get enough sleep. When there is a whole family in one room, the children come to school dead tired. It is very important that children should have a good home and have a chance to sleep and, if necessary, should be transported to school.
My experience is that this matter is best dealt with by the housing authority giving notice, as soon as it has got the idea of a housing scheme, to the education authority that it proposes to build the houses. Then there is a chance of starting to build the school before the houses.
I quite agree. The gap has not been entirely closed, because there was a big gap before. When we start with a big gap it is very difficult to close it in future years, but I think we are getting nearer to doing so. The difficulty has been that housing has had an overriding priority. My predecessor, the late Mr. Tomlinson, made this statement:
It is surprising how many housing estates are started without anyone's seeming to realise, until the houses have been built, that schools will be needed to serve the children living on the estates."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 1980.]
That has nothing to do with our expanding housing policy. The gap was there. Let me quote again from what Mr. Tomlinson said:
Looking at the country as a whole, therefore, I think there should be no great difference between the number of school places available and the number of children to be taught. But in individual areas there may well be temporary shortages of accommodation. This will largely be due to the fact that in some areas the rate of housing development has not been sufficiently clearly
foreseen, with the result that school building has lagged behind house building."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 1933.]
It is clear and can be proved, and there is no need to dispute it.
I am not saying that it was wrong that house building went on more quickly than school building. In the last two years since we have been in office we have tried to get them very much nearer together, but we have not been able to close the gap. My predecessor spoke of the lag between the building of schools and houses in some of the housing areas. I can find no evidence to justify the word "most "but perhaps "many" or "some" can be used. More care should be taken to say that this took place in the early years and not in the later years since the housing programme expanded. I apologise to the Committee for taking this time, but we have to get the facts.
I come to the far more difficult part of the subject, the problem of the old schools. This problem has been clearly known for many years, but sometimes I think there are people who believe that I found these schools and suddenly put them down in the country. Minister after Minister has described these schools, and no one in more lurid terms than the late Mr. Tomlinson. We know, and hon. Gentlemen opposite knew, about them and Annual Reports of the Ministry of Education give the facts, which are now known by everybody. It is not a party matter. Sometimes the facts came out with the development plans. Let us remember that every local authority is taking, or has taken, a survey of its area for its development plan. I do not want to see too many surveys, because the skilled officials should be getting on with that work, but my predecessor referred on 5th July, 1949 to this matter. After emphasising, as he always did, the policy that he had followed since 1947, and which I have carried on, to provide places for children of statutory school age, he went on:
It is impossible at the same time to carry out the vast programme of improvement and replacement which will be necessary in order to bring many, if not most, of our existing schools up to a reasonable standard."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 1980.]
The next reference was in 1950 when the then Parliamentary Secretary was
replying to the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr. King) who put much the same questions to the Minister then as he has often put to me. The reply was:
The plain fact is that we are already meeting the most urgent needs of the day to the very limit of our capacity. There are literally no further steps we can take in order to deal specifically with the conditions to which my hon. Friend has called attention unless we divert manpower and materials at present devoted to providing school accommodation for housing estates, to meet the increased birthrate, and to meet the imperative needs of technical education."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1950; Vol.474, c. 1866.]
It was made clear at the beginning that this was an urgent problem. I quite agree that it accumulated with the years. The decision was taken but the problem was not tackled.
On the subject of repairs and maintenance, I agree with the right hon. Member for South Shields that the particular difficulty was with schools that were voluntary schools and are now becoming controlled schools. Hon. Members opposite know the number of circulars that went out, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does also, dealing with the subject of improvements. Different changes were made, so much more money being allocated here and so much less there. I ask hon. Gentlemen to bear in mind that repair and maintenance of schools is a local authority responsibility and is a charge on the local estimates in the usual way. What are called "minor works" are for improvements and additions and are quite separate. One is on capital account and comes under the control of the Ministry's building programme and the other is a matter for the local authority's estimates.
I quite agree with what has been said about the appalling condition of these schools, and if the local authority in any particular case is not doing its duty—I believe that the enormous majority are, in the matter of repair and maintenance—I shall not hesitate to take action. Hon. Gentlemen must remember that I have been in office only for 18 months, and if local authorities were not doing repairs before that time it must have been the result of economy in the last Government. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that I have never asked a local authority to reduce money spent on repair and maintenance, nor has a local authority asked me for more money and I have refused.
The second part relates to minor works, a capital cost which is under the control of the Ministry, and called "improvements." The last Government made a change at the time of the financial crisis but later some more was given. Then in September, 1951, only a couple of months before I took office, there was a further change when it was said that the plain fact was that the Government could not give as much as they had been giving and that the policy was still to devote the greater part of their building programme to new schools.
I looked into the arrangements whereby 9s. per head was paid and I made certain small improvements. Where there were particular difficulties I allocated sums of money in addition to the 9s. per head. It has been said that it was a matter of luck whether an authority received that or not, but surely hon. Members do not think that a local authority were told that they would receive extra money and then they made a claim. Discussions took place and allocations were made for specific purposes. Stress was laid on improvements that would result in more places being provided. But now, as a result of the extra money which I am providing for extensions, a greater proportion of the 9s. allowance can be used for repairs other than those designed to increase the number of places, use being made of the extra allowance for the latter purpose.
Hon. Members may ask why we do not increase the main grant rather than adopt this method. That is a matter of opinion on which I shall be glad to hear the views of hon. Members, but the last Government stated clearly that if that were done there would not be room in the schools for children of statutory school age and they decided to put all their efforts into providing new places.
A further change which I made was to increase from £5,000 to £6,500 the amount which could be expended by the authority on a project without their being required to provide the Ministry with details. A few months later I changed the formula slightly for the rural areas. There are a large number of small schools in the rural areas and therefore improvements in those areas cost more money. I have tried to help them. I agree that there are some schools and some houses which we should all like to get rid of.
In the past seven years—and here I am defending my predecessors just as much as myself—about £22 million has been spent on minor works. About £3 million were spent in 1950 and a little over £3 million in 1951. I increased the amount and it is £4 million for 1952. I am glad to say that it will be rather more for this year. We are moving in the right direction. I want to make rapid progress, but if I took money from the main grant in order to carry out these improvements, it would be said that I was keeping children of statutory school age out of school.
It was announced by my predecessor that a Committee had been set up to examine the question of the number of school teachers required. The Committee examined staffing for 1950 and they suggested that we would need to recruit 4,000 more a year to maintain the necessary number. They also said that in the difficult years between 1950 and 1960 we would have to recruit 4,000 more a year to keep up the 1950 level of staffing and that, even so, in the middle period the level might be below the 1950 level.
I am glad to say that we have had two record years of improvement in which we have added not 4,000 but 5,000 more to the number of teachers. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the teachers who have come back to the schools to help us in these difficult times and also the teachers who have stayed on. Never before have we increased the number by 5,000 and I am confident that we shall do as well this year. Because of this progress we shall have more teachers than the maximum originally suggested.
As regards the suggested survey of bad schools, I do not think that if we had a survey now it would make the slightest difference. We have the surveys of the development plans and I believe that we would be wasting manpower to have another survey now. If I had the money and the material we could get to work on these schools straight away. That is not the difficulty. The difficulty is to take our present resources which are being devoted to one plan, that is to the provision of new schools and the bringing of children of school age into them, and devote those resources to replacing the old schools. [An HON. MEMBER: "More money."] I was speaking of what we could do with the resources which we have now, which fortunately are more than any Minister had under a Labour Government.
The late Miss Wilkinson is reported in HANSARD of 1st July, 1946, as saying that that was the first year that the Estimates of the Ministry of Education were above £100 million. My Estimates this year amount to £227 million. Whatever we think about the recommendations in the Select Committee's Report, I think we are all agreed upon the background of what we have to do and we all agree with paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Report. I agree with the majority of the minor recommendations, but at the same time I do not think that they would make a tremendous difference to solving our problem. We have to face two questions. The first is whether the resources available could have solved our problem if they had been used to the best advantage. The second is whether these resources could have been larger. I have shown that the present Government have incurred more capital expenditure than has ever been incurred before and I have shown that we have obtained better value for our money.
I thank the hon. Member and I take the compliment on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.
It has been said that I should have pressed for more money and that if I had been in the Cabinet I could have obtained more money. Apparently I am looked upon as such a frightened person that I would be quite content with picking up the crumbs under the table left by the big bad wolf, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government.
No. Unfortunately I am carrying the legacy of two Labour Governments, and in each of those Governments the allocation to my Department was less, both on revenue and capital account, and the Ministers were in the Cabinet. The capital now allocated to school-building is more than it has ever been. The capital spent on school-building under previous Governments was less. Hon. Members opposite may say that they required more money. I invite them to say why their Government did not give them more.
Two years ago under a Labour Government this country was heading for the worst financial crisis that we have ever seen. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at the London Institute of Education, said that the first duty every generation owes to its children is to make its country and theirs safe and solvent. Nobody can say that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has failed in his duty, particularly when we bear in mind the 1944 Act. Anybody who is interested in the welfare of children knows that that is true.
Under this Government our national resources have been built up. An immense defence programme is being achieved. The houses are going up at a rate that hon. Members opposite said was impossible. More school-building is being done than ever before. No member of this Government, whether inside the Cabinet or outside, will be deterred by taunts, or gibes or abuse from carrying on the policy, and if possible extending it, which this Government initiated when it came into office—a policy that has brought us more schools and which has the support of the people of this country.
I can well appreciate that the right hon. Lady has felt obliged to speak in rather a political sense because of the provocation which this Report has created in certain quarters. But I do not propose to enter into a political wrangle. I think it is unfortunate that a Report of this nature, an all-party Report to which Members of all parties have contributed, should be the subject of very acute political controversy. This Committee endeavoured to place before the House an objective statement on this matter. Therefore, I personally deplore the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Report in certain quarters.
I do not think the right hon. Lady has fully appreciated the spirit that was behind the Committee when this Report was framed. The Committee over which I had the honour and privilege to preside began with a consciousness that school is the place where the child's mind and character can be developed and where children can learn to live together good social lives. Bearing in mind this ideal, it was felt desirable to place evidence before Parliament which would enable the House to plan the future of the children in the interests of their welfare. The Report was framed in this spirit. That is a factual statement. We realised when we framed it that it would cause widespread public comment and interest, because it was the first time that a Select Committee of the House have considered the subject of education.
I must say that I regret the way in which this Report was received in some sections of the Press. There is no recommendation in this Report that could give the Press the impression that the all-party Committee had framed a Report which was an indictment against any particular Minister or Government, although some organs of the Press have said that such an impression was created. I want to consider this Report more objectively. Hon. Members can draw what conclusions they like from the facts which are in the Report. All that I think it necessary to say on behalf of the Committee of which I was Chairman is that we framed a Report which was designed to present facts and not opinions on policy. That is a matter for the House to decide.
May I refer to the introductory statement to the Report. We mentioned that we were confronted with a disquieting situation. Of course, that has been known for many years. There has been overcrowding, lack of schools, shortage of teachers, insanitary schools and dangerous school buildings. In fact, while the Committee were sitting there was a report in "The Times" on 3rd March which was headed:
Overcrowded classrooms. Growing plight of the primary schools.
"The Times" gave full details of the overcrowding, in greater measure than we had done in the introduction to our Report. This report by a special correspondent to "The Times" concludes by saying:
It is part of the price the Government are paying for their target of 300,000 houses
It goes on to say:
In spite of a great reform"—
that is referring to the 1944 Act—
primary school conditions are worse than before the war, and only a Government decision to go slow on housing and fast on schools could make much difference.
When we presented this picture, which we were able to form after eight months of careful investigation, we could mention only those factors which we thought were having an adverse effect upon the school-building programme. We were expressing no opinion about them. The right hon. Lady seems to have laid great stress upon certain points that we mentioned. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) also laid stress on one statement which we made about the cuts of 1951 and the moratorium. We were only saying, in a form which the House could recognise, that on these matters we had no control. We had no right to make any proposition, nor do I propose to make one today.
There was the effect of the birth rate; the shortage of labour and materials, and the defence requirements. Can any Member of the House say that the defence programme of £4,700 million, spread over a period of three years, as proposed by the Labour Government, had no adverse effect upon the building of schools or other buildings for social purposes? We were not saying it was the fault of this Government or that Government. We said that these were factors which had profoundly affected the situation. If some of my right hon. and hon. Friends think that in the planning of a future educational programme the children can be led into the promised land whilst, at the same time, we hold such a heavy defence programme, I can only say that, speaking personally, I do not think it can be done.
The hon. Member is very properly defending the Sub-Committee, and he has correctly referred to comments made by certain hon. Members, but on consideration of paragraph 8 (v) of the Introduction to the Report—where reference is made to the cuts in capital expenditure and the subsequent three months' moratorium—does he not think that the Index could have shown that the evidence did not altogether agree with that statement, or that the Index could have shown that there was substantial evidence which was not in step with it?
We could not put into the Index all the opinions which were expressed in so much evidence. I propose to deal later with the question that has been raised, because the Introduction to our Report is only a statement of the difficulties that we could see. I propose to deal with those difficulties, because there is ample evidence in the memoranda submitted to the Sub-Committee by the Ministry of Education, without going any further.
I was talking about the effect of the defence programme. I read a very interesting letter from the National Union of Teachers, who stated that the staffing position in the schools was deplorable. If the National Union of Teachers want to be objective they must also realise that compulsory National Service has a profoundly disturbing effect upon the supply of teachers. In fact, whilst the Sub-Committee were meeting, I read a pamphlet about the teaching problem in Scotland. It was stated that if compulsory National Service were abolished we could have 1,000 more teachers in Scotland. I am not mentioning this in a partisan spirit. I am merely saying that this is what we meant when we mentioned the factors which adversely affected the school-building programme.
Our report went on to describe how overcrowding could be lessened, and what economies could be derived from a better system of planning new schools. The right hon. Lady has mentioned the question of an estimate. There is overwhelming evidence that if we want to have a building programme based upon scientific facts we must have an accurate estimate as far as we can, although it is difficult, so that we can base our plan upon it. If any hon. Member reads the Report and the evidence that was submitted to us by the Association of Education Committees, and the evidence later taken from the Ministry officials themselves, he will realise that this estimate was based upon guesswork. In fact, to use their own words, it was "a whole mass of guesswork."
I am fully conscious of the fact that that estimate was accepted by the late George Tomlinson. I think he was not correctly advised. If an estimate has been based upon guesswork to this extent and, as has been proved, has been arrived at without consultation with those who are able to contribute useful information, it is necessary to make the recommendation which the Sub-Committee makes, that the Ministry should consult with those who are able to contribute this useful information.
The principal witness from the Ministry of Education—about whom I could say a good deal—seemed to think that one could talk to people until they were blue in the face, but if they did not want to understand one they would not. I should not have thought that that was the kind of approach that the Permanent Secretary should have made to a body like the Association of Education Committees.
As I am the Minister of Education and have responsibility for the staff of the Ministry, criticisms should be addressed to me and not to individual officials. I am perfectly willing for the hon. Member and others to say, "The Minister of Education did this," rather than, "Somebody on the staff of the Ministry of Education for which the Minister is responsible did this."
Whilst I appreciate the point which the right hon. Lady has raised, I do not think that any Member of the Sub-Committee over which I presided could possibly ignore the evidence presented to us by the officials. I think she will find that, as Chairman, I tried to be courteous, although it was sometimes a little difficult in the special circumstances. I should like to refer to Question 1813, on page 168 of the Report. I said:
It would appear on the face of it that there is a necessity for some closer consultation with the authorities concerned in this?
The answer was:
May I be frank? You can consult till you are blue in the face. If the other fellow does not want to understand you, he will not, and the only result is that he thinks of a different reason for making the same remarks as he made before. …
I followed this with Question 1814:
May I say we have been much impressed with the very great satisfaction that exists in the country as to the consultation between the Ministry and the local authorities. I was not suggesting there is any lack of it, but I would not think our experience would lead us to believe that if you talked to people till they were blue in the face you would not get any real satisfaction.
I put this question because I think it is vital—it was vital when a Labour Minister was in office—that the estimate should be and should have been based on more scientific methods.
I am sorry to hear from the right hon. Lady that she does not favour the planning of schools on a three-year basis, because we thought the evidence for that from the authorities was overwhelming. I cannot recollect any authority which did not approve of a longer-term plan. The right hon. Lady referred to the moratorium as it affected Hertford, but I would say that this was an example where the Ministry had more or less given carte blanche to this authority on a £7 million programme over a longer period than three years, and if every authority had been given such a generous approval we might have had to have a moratorium to hold things up a little.
Certainly the holding up of the programme was adversely felt, and we thought it was not good enough for authorities to plan from hand to mouth. That is what is happening on a one-year programme. May I quote the example of the south of Sheffield, which hon. Members will find mentioned in Question 427? There we had a situation which was obviously disturbing. There were no school places and a new estate had gone up—a very large estate. A timber school was built in 5½ months, but how was it built? By overtime. I expect it was the most expensive school which has been built. I do not think it is good planning to have to build schools quickly like that and to build them by the most expensive method—for everyone knows that overtime is a very expensive method of work. This was in an area where it was stated in evidence that another nine schools were required, although only one had been built.
It may be true that in some cases it would be difficult for authorities to work much more quickly because of other problems, such as those of labour and materials. At the same time, I think most of the evidence which we collected made us feel that it would be better and more economical to consider a three-year plan.
I turn next to the time-lag between the building of houses and of schools. It is necessary for hon. Members to read that paragraph together with the paragraph on transport, because they are bound up together. The right hon. Lady does not seem to think there was very wide evidence on this point. May I say at once that I do not think this is a new problem? I was a member of the Birmingham Education Authority from 1927 to 1930, and again from 1934 onwards, and there was always a time-lag between the building of schools and the building of houses. We recommended that the time-lag should be decreased, and hon. Members will see that mentioned in paragraph 25 of the Report. We thought—I am sure my Committee will agree—that the evidence was very clear that this time-lag was general. There may be some exceptions, but the time-lag was widespread both in England and Scotland. It seemed that in Scotland there were greater difficulties in this connection. In transport, Glasgow is the worst-hit city, having to transport children at the cost of over £100,000 this year because schools are not available.
While we thought there should be greater co-ordination between the various authorities, both in this country and in Scotland—hon. Members will see that in paragraph 25—we said that the Committee's
general conclusion is that while the gap between house and school building on new estates may not widen appreciably it cannot possibly be closed while the amount of capital investment now going into school building is insufficient to carry out the policy of the Government …
We inserted that because we did not want to lead the House to believe that we could close this gap by some special arrangements made between local authorities.
I turn to the question of old schools, probably amongst the most vital of our comments. The Committee did not merely take evidence from authorities. We were not content to rely on written evidence. We made visits. I think we were shocked—at least I was shocked—to find the condition of the 21 schools in Manchester which were black-listed in 1925 and which are still in operation. We should bear in mind that 50 of the schools in Manchester were built before 1902 and there are 100 voluntary schools, many of which are in a very serious state of decay and disrepair. I can only say that colossal expenditure will be involved if these schools are to be put right. One school we visited had not been painted for 20 years, we were informed. The inspector had called attention to that. What is the use of inspectors calling attention to things if they can do nothing about them? There were 250 schools that needed painting. They hoped to paint five. In fact, they could not get the money for that.
I am only quoting Manchester. All they could do was to obtain the money for white-washing the lavatories. In my own City of Birmingham every pre-war school is deficient in sanitary accommodation, and the inspectors have called attention to it. That is to be found in the Report. I am not saying this is the responsibility of the Government. Two of the black-listed schools out of the 600 in the country happen to be in my own constituency in Birmingham.
One of the first questions I raised in the City Council of Birmingham 26 years ago was that of one of those black-listed schools. I was, perhaps, not quite so diplomatic in those days, and in consequence I brought the Church authorities against me, when I said of that school that it ought to be pulled down. The vicar went on to the political platform at the election against me, and I lost my seat. I am not saying that the vicar was responsible altogether, but he may have had a little effect. I did not think that 26 years later I should be speaking in this House about that school.
I think it is the local authority. If I wanted to blame some one for this school in Lady wood I should have to blame more than one city council and more than one Government. I did not think that that school, any more than the others, would survive the Labour Government. It did, however. I am speaking objectively, and I do not want to present this case in any way I think is unfair, but I do say—and I am sure the right hon. Lady will agree—that no real value can accrue to the country if the children are unable to learn because of the hopeless teaching conditions. It is no use our burying our heads in the sand. We must not shrink from our responsibility. A considerable amount of money will be required to put these schools right, but to refuse to do so is a false economy, fraught with great danger.
I am sorry I have spoken so long, but this is such a vital Report on which much has been said. The effects of bad conditions upon the recruitment of teachers was made very clear. Only this morning I received a letter from someone in the education service in Birmingham who apparently has to visit schools, and he says:
Going round the schools in the course of my work I have sometimes said that if only people knew what was happening something would be done. Last Saturday I heard that one young teacher has given up after bravely trying to teach a class of 61. I have been trying to persuade another not to resign her class, which is of about 50 five-year-olds. I sometimes wonder if one ought to encourage such people not to give up.
I do think this makes it unquestionably necessary that there should be a survey of the old schools. I have the greatest admiration for the men and women who have to teach children in conditions which are the negation of all good education. It must be heartbreaking as each year there is a further deterioration. I ask the right hon. Lady to say whether she will consider seriously that recommendation of a survey of the old schools? [HON. MEMBERS: "She said no."] I did not hear the right hon. Lady say so.
I said that we had just had a survey for the school development plan. We know of the more appalling schools. There is more to be done than any of us think we can possibly do in the immediate future. I said I thought that as we had got this work to do it would be better not to try to make a further complete survey at the present time, since we had had one for the development plan. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) agreed when I said I thought we had better get on with what we had got planned, rather than with a complete survey, which would not help us at the moment.
I am sorry that the right hon. Lady takes that view. Our evidence was from only some places. We ought to know the measure of this problem in the whole country. I think it must be alarming.
It is alarming. There must be considerably more schools than stated in such a very seriously dilapidated condition.
Surely, the formula to which the right hon. Lady referred is most unsatisfactory. Under the formula the London County Council is entitled to £230,000. If they come along and say, "We cannot manage on that," the Ministry say, "We will give you £300,000." Birmingham was entitled to £80,000 and was given £140,000. Manchester ought to have been given more. Probably it is Manchester's own fault it has not got it, for not asking. There is no doubt about that, but it does not seem a very scientific method of dealing with this, to base it on 9s. per child.
All the arguments I have used tonight apply also to Scotland. No expenditure whatever is being incurred on the replacement of obsolete, unsatisfactory premises in Scotland. We had before the Committee a most interesting report on school buildings in Scotland which was apparently approved by Mr. Tom Johnston when he was Secretary of State in 1945. It was emphasised in that report that deficiencies which could no longer be tolerated included
rooms where artificial light is constantly necessary, where deafening is seriously defective, or where heating and ventilation are bad, rooms with no access to a corridor or which can be entered only through other rooms, and the lack of reasonably satisfactory cloakroom accommodation or of latrine and lavatory arrangements.
This was Scotland in 1945. Evidence before the Committee shows that nothing has been done at all by either the previous Government or by this Government. Therefore, I submit these facts with the object of trying to get the House to
appreciate that this is not so much a question of who is to blame as of what ought to be done.
I have tried to state the view of the Committee in an objective and impartial manner and, I hope, free from political controversy. This was the spirit in which the Report was considered and framed by the all-party Committee working together over a period of eight months. There was no political division of opinion on this Committee at all. We were unanimous in presenting this factual statement. I ask the House to accept the Report and to discuss it in the same spirit, bearing in mind that the welfare of the children should have a higher priority than the claims of partisan politicians.
This nation is at a critical period in its history. Never at any time did the country more need the science, technique and skill which knowledge can make secure through a highly-developed educational system, and one of which the country can be reasonably proud. An educated nation is an efficient nation. If this Report is used to further this ideal, education will be raised to a higher status in our national life, and equality of opportunity will be given to all our children, thus enabling them to play their full part in a community which can truly be regarded as an educated democracy.
I shall try to be brief because I know that there are many hon. Members who want to say something in this debate. I have listened to the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates) with very great interest because all of us, in all parties, respect his independence of thought and the view which he expresses not only on this matter but on many others. But I want him to be under no illusion about this debate. Many of his hon. and right hon. Friends have made it painfully clear that this is a political issue of the first order.
Furthermore, during the by-election at Abingdon, which has just been so successfully concluded, it was one of the prime issues of that campaign. Let us, therefore, be under no illusion but that the Opposition party in this House look upon this report as manna from Heaven. They must have been very disturbed, if looks were anything to go by, by the very factual and, I think, conclusive case put forward by my right hon. Friend the Minister. As my right hon. Friend said, one would have imagined that this problem of old schools had just descended upon us; in fact, it has been with us for a very long time. What hon. and right hon. Members opposite fail to tell the country is what was done by successive Conservative Governments between the wars to deal with this problem.
Let me tell the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) some facts which, apparently, she does not know. In the original black list of 1925 there were no fewer than 2,827 schools and the late Mr. Tomlinson, in answering a Question on this subject in July, 1947, pointed out that there were then left only 667 of that number; in other words, something like 2,200 had been dealt with by successive Governments between the wars. I think that that is a very considerable achievement. Of the 667 that were left in 1947 there are still 93 in use, which the Labour Government admitted were incapable of repair.
In the following year, when the late Mr. Tomlinson was answering Questions on this same topic, the Labour Government had only dealt with two of those 93 schools and 91 still remained in existence and in use at that time. It really is nonsense and, if I may say so without using an unparliamentary term, hypocrital of hon. Members opposite to use this Report as a stick with which to beat the Conservative Government. If they had done half as much in their six years when they had undisputed control of the affairs of this country we should have been a little better off than we are today.
Notwithstanding all that, the fact remains that we still have very serious problems confronting us, and we still have the overriding problem of how to provide more places for our growing population. It is not only new schools that are wanted for primary children. We need secondary schools in considerable numbers to cope with the "bulge" in 1959, 1960 and 1961 and, so far in this debate, nobody has made any reference to that.
One of the difficulties of the shortage of accommodation at present and one which causes a great deal of heartburning among parents is the problem of transporting children many miles from their home. Not only is it a great cost to the nation, but it tends to break up families when they have one small child going to one school and another small child going to another, and administratively it is very difficult for the local education authority. The Labour Government had a very serious responsibility with regard to our primary school deficiencies at present.
The Education Act, 1944. laid upon local education authorities the responsibility of providing development plans. Nearly every local authority had produced these plans by 1947. I have heard of a development plan submitted by the Ilford Corporation which, finally, went to the Essex County Council and to the Ministry of Education. These development plans were all reviewed by the Ministry of Education and new ones had to be submitted. The result was that the schools under the original plan which were due for completion in 1948 and 1949 were not even started and were, in fact, deferred until 1950 and 1951, and even these revised starting programmes have been very seriously deferred.
Hon. Members opposite must realise that they have a very serious responsibility for the slowing down of starting dates under the various development plans called for under the 1944 Act. It is well within the knowledge of the House that we ran into various financial crises every other year when hon. Members opposite were in office, and in 1949 they did not, as the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was at great pains to tell us we had done, propose a moratorium of three months as we were forced to do. They put a complete stop on all capital building for school dining rooms and school kitchens.
They may not have thought that that was a very serious step, but it was a material influence on the overcrowding of our schools. Why? Because the school meals service was built up during the war years in an improvised sort of way when many of our schools were vacated, particularly in the London area, and it was possible to use existing classroom accommodation for kitchens, dining rooms and the like. With building difficulties immediately after the war, it was not possible to start many new dining halls; therefore, as children came back to London and other heavily populated areas, it was still necessary, because of the growth of the school meal service, to use school halls and classrooms for such meals. The result was very severe overcrowding. If the Labour Government had been more far-seeing and had used some money at that time to enable the building of school dining halls to continue, we should have released a considerable amount of classroom accommodation which was already in existence.
I can quote from the experience of my own authority. The problem is not so severe now because we have built one or two schools within the last year, but we had eight schools in which a large number of classrooms were being used for that purpose and in no fewer than 15 of our senior schools all the school halls were being used for at least one session, and mostly two sessions, during the day so that such things as assemblies and other normal school activities could not take place. Thus, a heavy responsibility rests upon the Labour Government for failing to appreciate what could have been done in a small way to alleviate a greater problem.
I wish to deal also with the secondary education. I have here a graph provided for me by my local education authority. I was rather staggered when I saw what it implied. The school-building programme which is at present envisaged for primary schools is based on a classroom population of 40, but secondary school accommodation is for 30. Thus, to cope with our secondary school population we must have a far greater number of schools than we have at present. The bulge takes effect in 1959 and 1960 and will probably reach its peak early in 1961. Thus an enormous sum of money will be required if we are to cope with the problem when it arises. We have had plenty of warning.
I was very disturbed to read the answers to Questions 1794, 1795 and 1796 in the Report. In every case the word used by the officer giving evidence was "guess." We are entitled to ask for an explanation for this from the Minister. Why did the previous Minister of Education "guess" when the plan was being developed? Because of the development plans, which were most carefully compiled by local aducation authorities and submitted to the Ministry of Education, there was no necessity whatsoever to guess. Within reasonable limits, a fair appreciation of the problem could have been made. Apparently very little was done about the plans which were submitted. Otherwise, why should "guess" have been necessary?
While my hon. Friends and I are satisfied that the Minister has done all that it has been possible to do in the past 18 months within the limits of the tools with which she has had to work, there still lie in front of us very many problems in the education service. Not least of these problems is finance. How are all these great projects to be financed? Already this year local authority rates have increased by an alarming amount, and if all these old schools are to be dealt with properly and effectively, and if we are to provide an education service of which we can all be proud, an even greater sum of money will be required in the future.
This throws into stark relief the whole question of local government finance, and, for that reason, I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government will reply to the debate. I am sure that it is no disparagement of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is to reply. Housing and building generally come within the responsibility of my right hon. Friend, and it is necessary that both Ministries should work together if we are to achieve all that we seek.
The Report applies not only to England and Wales, but also to Scotland, and I support the Motion to accept it. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I am very surprised that the Government should have felt it necessary to put down an Amendment to the Motion. I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland, as the Minister responsible for education in Scotland, will carefully examine, if he has not done so already, the recommendations and take steps to carry out most of them. He has already taken steps to bring into force one of the recommendations.
I was very surprised at the Minister of Education. No one could say other than that her speech was a political, partisan one. She said that too much had been started and too little completed under the Labour Government. She made great play of the evidence given by Hertfordshire. I have other evidence which comes from the biggest city in Scotland, evidence given in the progress report of the Glasgow Director of Education. The Report says:
Prior to the Government's decision at the end of 1951 to suspend indefinitely the award of starting dates for new school buildings, we were within sight of closing the gap between the demand and supply of primary school places in new housing areas, but the hold-up in the building operations, combined with the shortage of steel, has thrown the programme back many months.
That is a very serious statement indeed. Later, I shall link it up with the cost of transport in Glasgow. The Report goes on, at the bottom of the same page, to say:
Since the Government's decision to suspend starting dates came into operation at the end of 1951, no new building, primary or secondary, other than several small prefabricated units, has been started in Glasgow. This will mean that in 1954, and probably the whole of 1955, not a single permanent school building will be completed. It is a discouraging prospect.
What has the Secretary of State said about this? A statement of his was given to the Press and published in the "Scotsman" of 5th February, 1952. He was speaking about the cuts and the moratorium and said:
The effects of this inevitable delay in starting new schools and school extensions will become apparent in 1954. The areas most affected will be Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, some towns in the industrial belt and the developing mining areas in Fife and Lothian.
This is the area which the Joint Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), represents, and I do not suppose that he will suggest that those words are not true.
In the Estimates debate last year, I raised the question of the delay in new starts. The Joint Under-Secretary did not seem to think it was a serious question, and the Lord Advocate, who replied to me, said:
I am not prepared to say that there will not be as good"—
that is, the completions—
a production of schools in the next year as has taken place in the past. When we come here again next year I may be able to say that there has been an increase."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 8th July, 1952; c. 2856.]
What wishful thinking, because the figures that have been produced show that far from there being an increase even in completions, there was a decrease in the number of places provided in Scotland in 1952. The final words of the Joint Under-Secretary in that debate were:
I give my pledge to the Committee that ours will be a great ideal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 10th July, 1952; c. 2933.]
I wonder what has been the result of this great ideal.
Let us look at the school places that have been provided. If we take those provided by local education authorities we find that in 1950 there were 17,451; in 1951, 18,505, and in 1952 only 14,997. That is a very different picture from the one that the Minister of Education gave for England. It shows that even if England has been successful, Scotland certainly cannot claim that by holding back new starts it has been able to complete more new school places.
If we take the figures for those produced under the H.O.R.S.A. scheme and add them to those produced by the local education authorities, we find that in 1951, 20,225 places were completed in Scotland. In 1952, 16,397 were completed. This Government with their great ideal and who tell us that in 1954 we shall reap the result of their policy, even in 1952, having taken these steps, produce almost 4,000 fewer school places in Scotland. That seems to me a very disgraceful matter indeed.
If we turn to that part of the Report where evidence is given by the Scottish Education Department—the part that gives us the deficits—we see that in 1951 the deficit in school places was 53,400. In 1952, a deficit of 54,500 places was expected, but in that same Estimate the Department thought that we would get 19,900 in 1952. Instead, we have 4,903 permanent places fewer, so that to that extent we are considerably behind the Department's estimate. What will it be in 1957 if this same incompetent Government are in charge of Scotland? If we have this failure in 1952, I dread to think what will be the educational prospects for our children in Scotland by 1957.
I come now to the cuts in school-building. I find from an answer given by the Secretary of State that there was a 40 per cent. cut in new school-building started in 1952 as compared with 1951, and that as regards extensions and other work in Scotland there was a 15·5 per cent. cut in 1952 as compared with 1951. These are the results that are to be serious in the future. These bad results of this Government in 1952 are even worse when we consider that there was, in 1952, an 8 per cent. increase over the 1951 figure in the cost of building all over the country.
Not only is this position serious because of the policy of the present Government in cutting down starts and in failing to get completions, but, in 1952, Glasgow spent £103,900 in transporting children from new homes to old schools, very often taking them back to the slum schools in the areas from which they came. A very little more than that figure would give us a new primary school. In the same way, Edinburgh spent over £10,000, and we can find all the other figures in the Report. That is a very heavy expenditure indeed for local authorities in Scotland to bear.
The Minister can make all the case she can of a balanced programme and of greater completions—I have doubts about what the effects are going to be even in England and Wales—but the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Joint Under-Secretary cannot even make that claim for Scotland. I say quite clearly that we in Scotland realise that unless something is done to give cities like Glasgow and Dundee quicker starting dates, and unless the other recommendations made in this Report are accepted, this problem of school places, instead of becoming easier, will become much more serious. I am sure that the Department and the Ministry can prove no case at all if they stick to the facts published in their own Report.
I do not propose to confine my remarks entirely to Scotland, because I think that Scottish Members have an equal right to take an interest in English education as in matters connected with Scotland. One thing that has struck me is the tone and moderation with which this debate has so far been conducted. Indeed, one would gather from it that there was no real ground for alarm and despondency in this Report. Why, therefore, have the newspapers given it such dramatic significance? Why do we hear in every political speech that it is a matter for the deepest thought? Indeed, in the Abingdon by-election this Report was put forward as one of outstanding importance.
Indeed, only about a week ago the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) put a Motion on the Order Paper which for temerity, naïveté or sheer stupidity would beat anything of which even that hon. and learned Gentleman has hitherto been capable. One expects anything from the hon. and learned Gentleman but, as we expected, when an Amendment was proposed to that Motion which brought to the attention of the House and the country that, whereas the Socialist Government had been in office for six years, the Conservative Government had been in office for only 18 months, it was tactfully and quickly withdrawn.
So it was reasonable to suppose that the shocking conditions described in the Report were largely due to the shocking neglect of these conditions by the previous Government. Another point that we should bear in mind is that during the period 1945 to 1951 this was not only a passive neglect; it was actual, active and positive; and, to make matters worse, at an entirely unsuitable moment, April, 1947, the Socialist Government brought in the scheme for the raising of the school-leaving age. That was done at the very time when the school buildings, school teachers and even text books were in shortest supply.
That added over 300,000 children to the already over-sized classes, and placed a further intolerable burden on the already overworked teachers in their already understaffed schools. That was a short-sighted and foolish action. The idea, of course, was envisaged in the 1944 Act, and we all agreed with it. Everyone expected that it would be done at the earliest moment that the finances of the country permitted. In view of the particular time when that step was taken, it can only be described as sheer stupidity.
Then in Scotland they introduced into the schools some 700 uncertificated teachers. I suppose the nominal intention was to relieve the pressure undoubtedly existing, but the ultimate result was to reduce the already lowering standards of education. How could the standards of teaching be maintained? [Interruption.] I wish some hon. Members opposite would keep their conversations to each other instead of allowing Members on this side of the House to hear what they are saying. How could good teaching be maintained when the children were being taught by those who were little more educated than the children themselves? That was no fault of theirs, but only of the Government's policy.
On a point of order. Whilst I know that the rules of order are very wide, is it not straining the rules of the House to libel a profession within this House and then not give an opportunity to reply?
In any case I made no criticism of anyone, but merely of the policy that allowed uncertificated teachers to be brought into our schools.
I have already mentioned the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gloucester. After it was put down the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) withdrew all to do with it, and put down the Motion now on the Order Paper.
There is no point of order in that. Many statements are incorrect without transgressing the rules of order. I am only concerned with the rules of order.
On a point of order. Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman entitled to persist in that inaccuracy? The reason the Motion is not on the Order Paper is that so many Members on this side of the House had signed it that there was then none left to add his name. Because of that the Motion did not appear on the daily Order Paper but it still remains in the current Order Book of the House.
I am not going to take up the argument about the additional money being spent by this Government over what was spent by the previous Government, because costs rose very dramatically from 1947 to 1951, and there is no particular relevance in talking about cash expenditure. In my opinion, our case is sufficiently strong to be able to disregard points like that. What does this Motion, in effect, say?
I am for the moment referring to the Motion in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gloucester. It put in exaggerated form the views of the Select Committee, and that is why I feel that the complexion given to this Report by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates) is not a fair representation of the position. Certain figures were mentioned by my right hon. Friend and there are two or three which struck me as being of special significance because of two factors, the effect of the housing programme and the effect of the school-building programme on each other. Unless we can keep those marching hand in hand our whole balance in building will be thrown out of gear. We want to have the schools ready for the children, and we want to have the children ready to go into the schools.
And now may I give some figures very briefly which I hope will confirm my arguments. The number of schools completed in the year ended 1st January, 1952, under a Tory Government was 519 as against 265 during the year ended 31st January, 1951, under a Socialist Government. I admit that it can be claimed that this is no proper comparison since schools may well be under construction for quite a while and we know that, in effect, they were. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education said so several times. So we will take the number of schools started because that gives an indication of the desire of the Government to do their best for the children.
In the year ended 31st January, 1951, under a Socialist Government, 365 were started, and in the year up to January, 1952, under a Tory Government, the number was 358, or seven less. It should be remembered, however, that that was really during a nine months' period when there was the so-called moratorium. In other words, it included the three months when the present Government were looking round and trying to assess the financial mess left to them by their predecessors.
The results of houses completed are equally staggering. In 1950, under a Socialist Government, 172,000-odd were built whereas in 1952 under a Tory Government the number was 208,975, so that the whole case for the Opposition falls to the ground and becomes meaningless.
I shall not deal with the question of the dilapidated condition of school buildings because we know that all the major operations in this direction were banned by the late Government in 1947 and the ban remained until 1951. Despite the good defence put up by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood immediately after the speech of the Minister, and apart altogether from the point of view of whichever side of the House we sit on, there is no room for complacency. We are all deeply conscious of the dreary, drab and Borstal-like institutions which so many of our schools resemble. I exempt, of course, my own constituency where we are more fortunate than in most districts. That is, I suppose, natural since we have Tory and therefore more progressive and imaginative town councils.
And in due course, when we achieve the same happy result in the county, the results will be even better.
There was one charge made in the dead Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman and contained in the live Report which must be met, and that is the implication that houses get priority over schools. Even if that were true—and I think that I have disproved it—why should they not? Is not a clean, happy, healthy home at any time preferable to an additional classroom? It is a platitude, I know, to say that character is formed in the home even though the mind is trained in the school. We want both—and we have the Ministers for the job.
I have known the Minister of Education for many years. I know her keenness, enthusiasm, ingenuity and courage. I believe that the Minister of Housing and Local Government and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland provide that combination by which we shall preserve the perfect balance I mentioned in the beginning, and that we shall get the houses for the families and the schools for the children. If we succeed in doing so, we shall have justified the slogan of our party at the last election, "We will win through."
I do not think anyone need waste any time either in commenting today on the speech we have just heard or in reading it tomorrow. Anyone who has read the Eighth Report of the Estimates Committee will realise—quite apart from party politics which the other side are anxious to avoid whenever they are on a sticky wicket—that it is the healthiest thing that has ever happened to education for many a long day. I hope it has brought both parties down out of the clouds into the field of reality. If it has done nothing else, it has performed a valuable service.
I shall deal briefly with some of the Scottish aspects of this problem. I know that both sides are anxious to apportion blame to the opposite side of the House, and I feel obliged to come to the defence of my own Government between 1945 and 1951. To do that I shall quote figures given at an E.I.S. conference in Scotland,
which is the equivalent of the N.U.T. in England. That conference on school conditions was held on 10th March, 1951,
The figures given there showed that between 1945 and the end of 1950 there were completed in Scotland 39 new primary schools, one new junior secondary and that there were under erection 51 primary schools, seven junior secondaries and one senior secondary. In addition, there were under consideration at the planning stage 101 primary schools, 25 junior secondaries and 12 senior secondaries. Between 1947 and 1951 the Labour Government in Scotland started no fewer than 140 new schools at a total cost, including extension to old ones, of more than £19½ million.
The 1951 figure of new starts was approximately £5½ million. The 1952 figure went down from £5½ million to £3½ million, a reduction of 40 per cent. If we look at the number of schools we find that 47 were started in 1950, 37 in 1951 and 28 in 1952. In other words, we find an average of 42 for 1950 and 1951 and the figure for 1952 represents a cut of 33⅓ in the number of new schools started under this Government.
One of the first actions of this Government on taking office was the notorious moratorium, the standstill order on new starts. I remember reading the circular sent out by the Scottish Education Department, giving the reasons for that. They said that when they came to office they found approximately £12 million worth of school-building under construction and that, as a result, the programme was ill-balanced. We were not getting sufficient completions; there was too big a spread of the available resources. That argument was advanced as a reason for holding up new beginnings in favour of completions.
But what did the Secretary of State for Scotland say yesterday in the Scottish Standing Committee? He boasted that the amount of building now under construction was not £12 million, but £14,750,000, which, he said, was the biggest post-war figure. If that is accepted, the right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. The building programme must be more ill-balanced now than when there was only £12 million-worth of building under construction. Which of the two is correct?
The disturbing story is told in the table on page 207 of the Select Committee's Report. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has gone over some of the figures, and I need emphasise just one. The peak of the deficit in the number of school places since the war was reached in 1948 during the time of the Labour Government as a result of the raising of the school-leaving age, when the figure reached a peak of 64,900. Until 1951 it decreased, to 53,400.
Now, for the first time since 1948, there is an increase in 1952 of 1,100, and in 1957, assuming that the 1952 building rate continues and that the housing programme continues at its present rate, we will get a deficit of 66,900, which will be the worst post-war figure. In 1957, therefore, we shall be worse off than at any time since the end of the war.
By that time it may well be that a Labour Government will be back in office. Assuming the worst, however, and that we still have a Tory Government, they will be provided with the perfect alibi for lowering the school-leaving age. One of the resolutions put forward at a recent Tory Party conference in Scotland was that the school-leaving age should be lowered now. The present outlook is creating the alibi for that policy.
I am sorry, I have not very much time.
On 25th November last, in answer to a Question, I was told that from 1953 to 1956 inclusive, an average annual total of 25,000 new school places would be provided. In other words, 100,000 new places would be provided from 1953 to 1956. When we look at the table on page 207 of the Report, however, we find that, not 100,000, but less than 80,000 places, will be provided, which means a deficiency of 20,000 on the answer which I was given in the House last November. The number of places required will be 88,900. I should like the Joint Under-Secretary of State, when he intervenes in the debate, to say which is the correct figure, the one which he gave me last November or that which is contained on page 207 of the Report.
The hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) implied that if there was any reduction in the school-building programme, it was due to the fact that the Government were building more houses in Scotland. Since the Minister for Housing and Local Government is to reply to the debate, I assume he will contend that if there is a deficiency in school-building, he has made it good in housing. That does not, however, apply in Scotand.
On 24th February I asked a Question about the number of two, three, four and five-room houses built in Scotland in each year from 1946 to 1952. It is true that in Scotland the number of houses, the house being, on paper, a unit, shows an increase in 1952 as compared with 1951, but when we count the number of rooms provided these are the figures that we get. In 1949, 40,000 rooms. In 1949–50, 95,000 rooms. In 1950–51, 168,000 rooms. In 1951–52, 94,000 rooms. That means to say that under the house building programme last year in Scotland, only slightly more than half the number of house rooms were provided than in the last year of office of the Labour Government. The Scottish Office cannot, therefore, say that if there is any deficiency in the school-building programme, it is due to any increased acceleration in the housing programme.
The school-building programme in Scotland is in drastic need of overhaul. We are agreed, I hope, on both sides, that an increased proportion of the capital investment must be given to education. It must no longer remain the Cinderella of the social services. The country is fighting for national survival, and we depend first on the ability of our children to read and write. That can only be provided in the schools.
The Ministry of Education and the Scottish Office had better make the position plain to the Treasury and inside the Cabinet. After all, the Secretary of State for Scotland is in the Cabinet. The Minister of Education has some excuse in being able to say that she is not invited to Cabinet meetings. The Secretary of State, however, does not have that excuse. I wonder how many times in the Cabinet he has asked for more money for Scottish education. I wager that they can be counted on two fingers. If the right hon. Gentleman has not asked for an increased allocation of capital investment for Scottish education, it is time that he did so, because Scottish education in the last 18 months will go down as a very black record. The sooner we get the increased allocation the better it will be for our children and for national survival.
I occupied some time yesterday in the Scottish Standing Committee in dealing with education and, therefore, in view of the character of this debate, all that I feel justified in doing is to reply as shortly and, I hope, as succinctly as I can to the points that have been raised.
I agree entirely with the opening sentence of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), when he said that the Report and this debate upon it were one of the healthiest things that had ever happened for Scottish education. That is also the view of the Government. We welcome the emphasis that has been laid on the Report and on the importance of the subject. I am pleased that the people of the country have been shaken up and brought to realise how many bad schools we have and the shortages of accommodation which exist. Unless we can carry the nation with us we cannot make any real progress in education. Therefore, with those sentiments we are all agreed.
The hon. Member seemed to suggest that the Government were being more parsimonious about education than were their predecessors. That statement, however, will not stand examination. Let me give the hon. Member a figure which has not before been announced in the House in this way, although it is to be found in published documents. The capital investment for education in Scotland in the last few years—
I must be allowed to answer the hon. Member for Fife, West.
In 1950, the total capital investment allocation for education in Scotland was £5·4 million. In 1951 it was £5·6 million, in 1952 it was £6·4 million, and this year it is £7·4 million. That, surely, disposes once and for all of any argument as to whether the Conservative Government are spending more or less money upon Scottish education. The hon. Lady asked me—
The hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend has given very specific figures in answer to a Written Question on 30th January this year, and has given them in table form for the years 1947 to 1952. He dealt with
estimated value of new schools started"—
that is what the Report is dealing with—
and estimated value of extensions and other work.
There is not any doubt about it that in 1947 and 1952 one was 15 per cent. and the other 5 per cent.
The hon. Lady is dealing with a different set of figures—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course she is. I do not know why her friends are laughing at her—[An HON. MEMBER: "We are laughing at the hon. Gentleman."] My figures stand. I will give her the capital investment allocation for Scottish education in these years—
In the present year it is £7·4 million; in 1950 it was only £5·4 million. I will come to the figures quoted by the hon. Lady, which are different figures, but, first, I want to deal with one or two points she raised on the report of the Director of Education for Glasgow. I will ask her to believe in respect of these quotations that the Director of Education for Glasgow, whom I like and admire, is not correct. I will take them one by one. First, there is the quotation on page 8:
Prior to the Government's decision at the end of 1951 to suspend indefinitely the award of starting dates for new buildings.
That is a manifestly incorrect statement because there was no such decision. There was no indefinite postponement. The Government decided that no new starts should be made between 1st December, 1951, and 1st March, 1952. It was, therefore, only a three months' postponement. The total effect on Glasgow's programme was to delay the starts of 12 elementary classrooms—not schools but classrooms
—four for two months and the other eight for one month. Those statements should not be made in a Report of that kind.
Take the next question to which the hon. Lady made reference, again on page 8:
With the slowing down of the school-building programme the situation must inevitably become worse.
It is most misleading to say that the school-building programme in Glasgow has slowed down. It is quite true, as the hon. Lady said, that the number of school places has fallen. I will explain that in a moment, but the fact is that the value of work done on school-building—I am not talking of buildings under construction but of work actually done in Glasgow—has increased from £400,000 in 1950 to £800,000 in 1951 and to £1,300,000 last year. That surely disposes of that criticism.
The third point was the criticism that since the decision of the Government to suspend starting dates came into operation at the end of 1951:
no new building, primary or secondary, other than several small prefabricated units, has been started in Glasgow.
That is an extremely incorrect statement. The "small prefabricated units" he talks about and of which, apparently, he does not think a great deal, consist of eight new aluminium schools and one timber extension having a total of 47 rooms. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rooms."] I do not want to carry this on unduly, but I give these as examples of the sort of Report which misleads the House.
This is a very serious matter indeed because the Director of Education for Glasgow is an important person in education, not only in Glasgow but in Scotland. Quite rightly, I gave the evidence I got from the Report and I take up the last point made by the hon. Gentleman. He says that the Director of Education is incorrect in this and tells us that in all these wonderful prefabricated houses we are to get 47 rooms.
I am sorry. I do not know whether the hon. Lady thinks that 47 rooms is negligible. For myself, I would be very glad to see in many parts of the country an addition of 47 rooms provided—
On a point of order. This is a most serious matter, one in which the honour of an important educationist in Scotland is concerned and it seems to me that I ought to have a chance to get these matters corrected for the sake of the person I have quoted.
Perhaps I should add, to put the whole thing in perspective—and I say this quite seriously—that the Department do not think the education authority in Glasgow, even now, have any permanent schools ready to start at this moment.
As the hon. Lady knows, there have been local difficulties in Glasgow, local internal difficulties. We have been endeavouring to help Glasgow. We have invited the Glasgow authorities to meet us and the City Architect in Glasgow is now in charge of the school-building as well as the house-building programme. That may make a considerable difference.
There has also been set up a Working Party between the Department and the Education Committee which will meet at least once a month to take all these matters step by step and open up any bottlenecks that arise. I have also seen the Edinburgh authority and the Dunbartonshire authority and I can assure hon. Members from Scotland that we are doing everything possible, and shall continue to do everything possible, to avoid further delays.
I agree that the number of starts has been fewer than it was before, but I hope we shall not get starts on the brain. I will give the House the figures of work actually done—not starts but work done in various areas. I am not talking of schools completed or work under construction, but work done.
I am about to give the figures.
In 1947, the total value of work done on school-building in Scotland was £2 million; in 1948, it was £3·7 million; in 1949, £4·2 million; in 1950, £4·4 million; in 1951, £5·3 million; and, in 1952, £6·5 million. That shows that the work actu- ally being done in the finding of places for children is growing year by year and was bigger last year than it has ever been before. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] My claim, which is supported by every technical expert I have met, is that by holding up the starts for three months at the beginning of last year we did, in fact, make it possible for the whole sweep of the school-building effort in Scotland to move forward more steadily. I am confirmed in that view not only by the figures I have just quoted—
The Report says:
One difficulty is the need to avoid at any time overloading the building industry in an area with the result that its total resources are spread out over starting new factories, houses, schools or other buildings and only a minor part of its efforts devoted to completion.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman a question which I wished to ask the right hon. Lady, but she would not give way. Would he define what is meant by "work done," as distinct from work started or work finished? The right hon. Lady kept using the term "work done." What does it cover?
We get a report every three months from all the local authorities on the work they have completed. Let us get this quite clear. I admit to the House that there was this three months' moratorium. What does it mean in Scotland? The value of work deferred in Scotland because of the three months' ban was about £600,000. Only relatively few schools were held up for a relatively short time, and the total involved is just above £600,000.
I do not think I can answer that without notice. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If the House feels disturbed about it, I will try to give an answer to the question before the end of the debate. What I said to the hon. Lady was that it was work actually done by the local authorities in that quarter. Therefore, I think my answer to the hon. Gentleman is that it is only work done in that year. It is work done, and the value that is placed upon the work done.
I am trying to resume my seat as quickly as I can.
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) was also a little troubled about new places. I admit that last year the number of new places fell, but I would invite the hon. Lady to look at the Annual Report of our own Scottish Department of Education, where, at the top of page 53, she will find the reason, which, very shortly, is this In the first years of the post-war period most of the Scottish education authorities concentrated upon primary schools. In recent years—beginning at the end of the period when the hon. Lady opposite was occupying my present position—the tendency was more towards secondary, which are larger schools, and it is because of that—and we have figures to support it—that the number of places is smaller. Fewer schools have been completed, because they are bigger schools, but, in due course, the total number of places will have been increased.
I have asked the hon. Lady to be so kind as to read the Report, when she will find the answer to her question.
The hon. Lady also suggested in her speech, as did the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), that there has been a diminution of work done on improvements and repairs and maintenance. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman gets his figures, but perhaps I may give him the latest figures. These are the figures of expenditure on improvements in Scottish schools: In 1950, £457,000; in 1951, £380,000; and, in 1952. £455,000. So that it is going up, and has been going up in our time, though I should like to see those figures go up a great deal more.
The figures for expenditure on repairs and maintenance are, roughly as follow: In 1950, £1,400,000; in 1951, £1,400,000: in 1952, £1,455,000; and in 1953, our closest estimate, £1,554,000. Of course, costs are up a little, but some of the costs are not increases on last year. The hon. Member for Fife, West and his hon. Friends have been saying all afternoon that we are spending less than they were. I say that that is not true, and that every figure proves it to be absolutely untrue. The truth is that this Government are doing more, spending more money and building more schools than before, and hon. Members opposite cannot possibly avoid it.
I should have liked to have said much more, but let me finish in this way. As the House knows, the Select Committee on Estimates made a number of recommendations with particular reference to Scotland. There were five major recommendations and three minor ones. I take, first, the major ones. First of all, they suggested that there should be better coordination between house-building and school-building. My right hon. Friend has taken steps to ensure that whatever can possibly be done to improve relations between the Department of Health and the Department of Education will be done, and, indeed, action is being taken now.
The second recommendation was that the architects and buildings branch of the Ministry of Education should be mirrored in Scotland. We did that in April last, although the Select Committee did not know it. The next recommendation was that there should be a maximum in the cost per place in primary and secondary schools. We sent out the other day a new building circular intended to do precisely this, and, there again, we are meeting the recommendation of the Committee.
Another recommendation was that there should be established a body equivalent to what they have in the Ministry of Education to produce the necessary standard components for prefabricated schools. That is exactly what we hope our new Building Development Group will be able to do. Therefore, we can say that, in regard to all these recommendations, we have either accepted them, acted upon them or will do something about them.
There are left the three minor recommendations. One was that the Secretary of State should have the right to waive byelaws.
I do not know whether that may be possible in England, but it is a rather contentious matter in Scotland, and could not be done without consultation with the local authorities, but we will consider it. The next was that we should set up consultative committees of the local authorities and their teachers. This is also controversial, and I know many local authorities that would not like it, but we will look at it to see what is possible. The last one was that headmasters should be given discretion to spend money, within a fixed total, on certain equipment. We do not do that in Scotland, but we are quite willing to look into it. In our circular, we have urged the local authorities to get the teachers to co-operate with them in planning their new schools. It is, therefore, designed to do the same thing.
For these various reasons, I do not think the Report has done any harm at all in Scotland. The bulk of the recommendations have already been accepted or will be accepted, so that I can stand here, with my hand on my heart, and say that we are doing well, but that we should like to go a great deal better for Scottish education.
On a point of order. May I call your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that it is now 8.20 p.m. and that only two hon. Members for English or Welsh constituencies have been called in this debate? I wonder whether I might ask you to use your good offices with the usual channels in order to see whether, when we have a debate in future on education in England and Wales, more back benchers may be called?
This has been an interesting debate for the reason that we have had from the Minister of Education her usual performance in creating an alibi for her misdeeds, but we cannot allow either the Minister or hon. Gentlemen opposite to have it both ways.
The Minister, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who has just concluded his speech, laid the blame on the Labour Government for starting too much work and not being able to complete it. The hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) blamed it all on the Labour Government for slowing down their building programme in the latter years, and both Ministers made much of the so-called "moratorium" being only for three months. The evil was not that it lasted for only three months but that it continued all the way down.
My contribution to undermining the alibi of the right hon. Lady can best take the form of giving the experience of my own constituency. Halifax is a representative county borough, with about 100,000 inhabitants. Figures which I will give for the major building projects which have been granted to Halifax over five years can probably be generalised throughout the country. In 1950–51, Halifax was granted a building programme of £241,260; in 1951–52, that had dropped to £49,280; in 1952–53, the figure was £37,000 and for 1953–54 it is £39,640. For 1954–55 the present allocation to Halifax is exactly nil.
Although representations are being made to the Ministry, we have not been granted any projects for 1954–55. As our Chief Education Officer wrote to me only the other day, taken diagrammatic-ally the Halifax allocations are shaped like a funnel, beginning with a broad top in 1950–51. At the present time we are in the process of going down the spout.
The Halifax situation is probably typical of other towns throughout the country. This is supported by the evidence that was given by Dr. Alexander on behalf of the Association of Education Committees, who said that in 1946 they began to discuss projects and that by 1949 they had reached an approximation of £70 million a year. That has been continually falling under this Government until this year it is approximately £56 million, according to the Report.
I want to examine the Minister's argument. Repeatedly she has said in this House that more schools had been completed this year than in any year when we were in office. That is quite easy. In Halifax, we began developments costing £241,000 in 1951–52, as the result of the permissions we got in 1950–51. That work had all been completed in 1952, so that the Minister is taking credit for completions in 1952 for all the projects for which permissions were granted under the late Administration. That is still going on at present, and I imagine that it is true of all the towns throughout the country.
What are the implications of this process of which the Minister is so proud? What was the initial programme of 1950–51, and what did it involve? Not merely the finishing labour but also blocks of ancillary labour which was engaged in preparing sites, architects and many other kinds of worker were put out of harness as soon as the Minister's edict went out that only completions were to be allowed.
Completing work means that only certain kinds of labour are involved. The other labour not necessary to the finishing processes has been dispersed, except that some may have been absorbed in the finishing work. In either case that labour is no longer available to the Minister whenever she wants to set in motion or begin the foundations of a new programme. Any part which has been absorbed into the finishing processes has also been enlarging the amount of finished work at the expense of the more fundamental work of beginning to build.
Even the evidence given by the Ministry in the Report supports that statement. The Minister's representative talks about the competition of other kinds of work for the labour involved in building, and in one sentence he says that it is difficult for education to offer the same kind of inducement as other kinds of work competing for labour. Dr. Alexander, Secretary of the Association of Education Committees, says, on page 34 of the Report:
It took from 1946 to 1949 to gear the machinery up to £70 million and therefore
if you let it drop and then decide to set it in being again it will take you three years before you can get it started.
That is the price we have to pay for this policy of the Minister of stopping beginning work and concentrating all her energies on completing work. The Labour Government could have stopped just as completely and probably completed more quickly the work that has been done in 1952 had they followed the same policy.
How can the craftsmen engaged in building have been dispersed, as the hon. Gentleman suggests? Are not all schools built by contractors, who retain their staffs from job to job, and in that case how can the moratorium have interfered with the school-building programme?
Surely the hon. Member would agree that if, in my constituency, we began work in 1951–52 as the result of permits given in 1950–51, amounting to £241,000 and in the next year we were granted permits for only £50,000, all the labour engaged in the preparatory work of making roads, laying sewers, etc., would not be necessary on the lesser amount and would have to be absorbed somewhere else.
And I am talking about building schools, too. There is much more involved in the building of schools than merely building the walls. Dr. Alexander was quite right in saying that it would take a long time before we got the labour again for the kind of work involved.
We have been told by the Minister and other hon. Members today that the squeeze in our building for education does not end at the end of 1953. The Minister's policy is based on the idea that at the end of 1953 she will have solved her problem in regard to school places, whereas there is the further problem of making provision for the displacement of old schools and the enlargement of the number of classes which will involve pressure somewhere about 1957. My case is that the policy of the Minister of concentrating on the completing of schools and stopping off the beginning of new schools will inevitably mean that by 1957 she will be short of many places that she ought to have, and would have had if she had pursued a more enlightened policy.
I am sorry that so much time has been spent in the course of this debate in the endeavour to assign blame as between different parties and Governments. Perhaps naturally, we in this House over-estimate the interest which is taken out of doors in our party disagreements. It is a matter of some piquancy to us to be able to score telling points one way or the other, but I believe that the country out of doors is seriously anxious not about party responsibility but about the present state and future of the schools, and that they are looking to this debate to provide answers and guidance upon a few simple questions.
This debate is, after all, a review of school-building over the 7½ years since the war ended. In conducting that review we have to bear in mind that two of the three people who have successively borne the responsibility are not only no longer in this House but are no longer here at all to answer for themselves. That fact also should, I would have thought, impose some restraint upon the way in which we handle the subject.
I do not believe that the public have any illusions about the length of time which is necessary for the implementation of the 1944 Act. I do not think that they expected miracles in the years immediately after the war or that they are expecting miracles now. I think they realise that three immediate problems have had to be tackled at once—the problem created by the raising of the school-leaving age, the problem created by the "bulge" or temporary increase in the birth rate, and the problem created by the extensive de-centralisation of population from our great towns, which has been going on since 1945 and which has called for school places in different areas from those where they were needed in former years.
All these three tasks have had to be met simultaneously, and out beyond there is the whole programme for the implementation of the 1944 Act outlined in the development plans, while behind it, as a backsheet, there is the condition of schools which we have inherited from decades and even centuries past. I do not think that that reality is seriously misunderstood by those in the country out of doors who are concerned about education. What they want to know, in the first place, is what is the trend. They want to know whether we are catching up with these difficulties or whether the difficulties are catching up with us, because if there is evidence that the production of school places is going on faster and faster, then whatever the difficulties of the present there is a reasonable prospect of their being dealt with in the course of time.
So I believe that the first thing the country wants to know is what is the trend in the production of school places. We may talk about capital investment in terms of pounds, of work commenced and work finished; but it is occupiable places which are the effective units for measuring progress in school-building and in the provision of educational accommodation.
Here is the progress in the provision of new school places since the war. I will not trouble the House with many figures and I have rounded these off for the convenience of the House; but these I would ask permission to read. In each case they are up to February of the year concerned. Up to February, 1947, the number was 40,000; to February, 1948, 80,000; to February, 1949, 180,000. That appears to be a big jump, but hon. Members will recollect that in that year the H.O.R.S.A. hut programme was in full swing, and most of the figures for that year represent these huts. The figure for 1950 was 90,000; for 1951, 130,000; for 1952, 160,000; for 1953, 220,000; and my right hon. Friend has informed the House today that her expectation for 1954 is 250,000
There, then, is a steady annual increase in the number of new school places provided. It is an increase which, so far from slowing down in the last two or three years, has, on the contrary, accelerated in that time. I am not concerned with who was responsible for approving the schools or building them, or what Government were in office. The fact is that there has been a steady expansion in the number of school places provided year by year and that expansion was most marked in the last year or two.
Now, we have evidence provided by the Committee's Report that to some extent that expansian was connected with a Government decision. I refer, as my right hon. Friend did, to the reply of the deputy county architect for Hertfordshire which will be found at Question 1408. He said:
About a year ago the Ministry imposed the moratorium on starting dates. That was the best thing that could have happened to us. Our jobs were going slower and slower. The five men on the job dropped down to three or two. With the moratorium it went up to 10 or 12 and we got the schools finished …
He goes on to say:
I think if we tried to build more schools or faster we would reach saturation point.
There we have the evidence of a technical witness that, to some extent, the continued expansion in the provision of new school places in the last year and the present year is connected with an act of Government policy. I would also point out that that statement disposes of the idea that there is any question of school expansion having been sacrificed to the expansion of the housing programme, because this situation to which the deputy county architect of Hertfordshire refers was not when the annual output of houses was 300,000, as I am glad to see it is this year; it was when the output of houses was running below 200,000. Therefore, since we have been able to improve substantially upon the output of school places in 1952 and 1953 at the same time as we have been able to increase the output of houses by 50 per cent. per annum, there can be no question of the one part of the programme being sacrificed to the other.
I know the hon. Gentleman likes to be fair. He is quoting the evidence of Hertfordshire. Surely he knows that Hertfordshire is a unique case and that the figures for that county include semi-pre-fabricated schools. They have more schools on the stocks than they can deal with at the moment and their labour was transferred because the county were doing the whole job pretty well themselves. Most other authorities, on the other hand, are building different kinds of schools in different sorts of areas and in different conditions.
I noticed Question 851, and I find that exactly the same thing was true in Birmingham. The Birmingham chief education officer said:
I very much doubt whether, if in fact the Ministry had felt able to allocate us a larger programme, we should have managed to get much more school work done.
That suggests to me that the same conditions obtain there.
This continued expansion, however, in the provision of new school places, not at the expense of or in any way interfered with by the expansion of the housing programme, would only be gratifying if we could be sure that we were not mortgaging the future. I would agree that if we were not starting work for completion in 1954–55 and in future years, the mere achievement of a temporary boom like the 1947 "Finish the houses" campaign would be no particular cause for congratulation. But the amount of educational building work which was in hand at the end of 1952 was almost the same as at the end of 1951.
Thus despite the accelerated completions, we had also got at the beginning of 1953 about as much new work in hand as ever. As we find, quarter by quarter in 1953, that the volume of work in hand remains steady, the country can have reasonable confidence that this is not a flash in the pan but that the steady expansion of new school places will continue, as indeed it has been doing since the end of the war.
The second great anxiety felt by the public is whether the old schools are being sacrificed to the new or, to put it more accurately, whether greater economy would be effected if the boundary between resources devoted to new schools and those devoted to old schools were shifted in favour of the old. In a debate on education we should never forget that the executive authorities are the local education authorities. My right hon. Friend is not an education authority. She is not a direct provider.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that under the 1944 Act the right hon. Lady has a duty to this House to see that everything is done by the administrative authorities to implement the provisions of that Act at the earliest possible opportunity?
I am well aware of the ultimate responsibility of my right hon. Friend for the provision of State education, but the fact remains—and I have always suspected that the sympathy and understanding for local government expressed by hon. Members opposite was no more than skin-deep—that in this matter executive authority and initiative rests with the local authorities. There has to be a partnership between the Ministry and the local authorities. We must not talk as though everything began and ended with the Ministry of Education. It would be much truer if we fell into the opposite mistake of thinking that everything began and ended with the local education authorities.
With that caveat in our minds, let us approach this question of the old schools. First, there is the problem of repair and maintenance. This is a matter which is the immediate responsibility of the local education authorities. It is for them to decide what estimate they will put in for repair and maintenance for any year. My right hon. Friend has informed the House that in no case has she refused or reduced an estimate for repair and maintenance put in by a local authority. In the Report, at Question 1739, we read that the Manchester authorities thought that they would have the money to decorate five schools internally and nine schools externally, but they say:
Since then we have had a cut in the Estimates"—
That means that the city council have cut the estimates—
and the only money we have for decoration will be for whitewashing lavatories in certain schools.
That decision was taken by the Manchester local authority.
Other local authorities have not been taking similar decisions. Since this is very largely a local authority matter, I have sought to inform myself of the situation in my own county borough. That is my excuse for mentioning one or two facts in regard to Wolverhampton, which is also a local education authority. In Wolverhampton we have steadily, year by year, maintained a repair and maintenance programme. The staff of painters which the Wolverhampton education authority maintains on its schools is three times what it was in 1939, which does not look as though they are finding it difficult or impossible to paint and maintain their schools externally. They are even maintaining a ground staff of 38, which is several times what it was in 1939.
Repair and maintenance, in the narrow sense of the term, is a matter for the local education authorities. It is a matter within their discretion. They are given this responsibility. They are elected by the local franchise in order that they may decide just this type of question, and it is not surprising that we should find variations in policies and results between one area and another. We must not be misled into thinking that an instance like that of Manchester, where special causes operate and a special policy is pursued, is either typical, or has any relation to the general investment or expenditure policy for education.
The hon. Member referred to the direct labour staffs of Wolverhampton at the present time and in 1939. Can he say bow much work was put out to private contract in 1939 compared with the figure for today?
Both figures were supplied to me by the director of education in good faith. As he was supplying them in order to prove the point that the local authority were maintaining their painting and repair at a full scale, we must, I am sure, take them at their face value.
Turning to the question of improvements, we all realise that many of the older schools, particularly schools which have recently become controlled, are in urgent need of improvement. We have heard from my right hon. Friend about the sums of minor works money which are allocated to the different education authorities for this purpose and we have also heard that wherever a strong case is argued on particular grounds for an increase in the ordinary allocations, she makes no difficulty in granting it.
Here, again, I tested the effect of this policy on the experience of my own county borough. The annual minor works allowance of Wolverhampton is £14,500, which at first sight does not appear to be a very large figure, but it has, for example, enabled us within the last 12 months thoroughly to renew the open-air school which we maintain outside the county borough boundary. Taken from year to year, it is a figure which is enabling the local education authority to cope with the needs of improvement of the controlled and older schools.
I will give one example only, but one which enables us to get a better idea of scale in this matter. Last week I visited a school in my constituency which became controlled in the last three or four years and on which only £1,750 out of the minor works grant had been spent on improvements. The effect, combined with regular maintenance and painting of that school, was astonishing. From a school which had been regarded formerly as a slum school, it had become a school with a certain power of attraction in the neighbourhood, and I was told that more parents wanted to get their children accepted into the school than the plan for the county borough as a whole made possible. When we examine these figures of minor works we should bear in mind that a comparatively small investment of money on improvement of some older schools will make them tolerable places of instruction and prolong their effective life for many years.
Finally, I want to deal with what I think is the third anxiety—the anxiety which has been described by the term "gap," whether the phasing of new housing and the de-centralisation of population is seriously out of step with the phasing of the building of new schools. Here, again, we are perhaps fortunate in Wolverhampton in that the local education authority is the same as the housing authority, but there is, and has been in the past, no real impracticability in co-ordinating the housing programme with the programme of school-building.
I have in my hand an analysis, district by district throughout the county borough, of the number of houses with and without children and the date of birth of all the children. That is a survey of the borough which is renewed every year by the education authority. In combination with the monthly reports which the education department receives from the engineer's department, it enables the switch of school population from the old schools to the new schools to be coordinated with very little gap or overlap. So in fact the periods during which we had to ferry children by transport from their homes in the older areas to schools in the newer areas have never been longer than nine to 12 months. I am not dealing with the ferrying of children to special or denominational schools, which is a standing problem of a different kind. So I should say that where a housing authority and an education authority are both doing their job there has been nothing in the past to prevent the co-ordination within reasonable limits of house-building and of school-building.
I would, therefore, say that from this review of school-building in the seven and a half years since the war it emerges, first, that there has been a steady and sustained expansion in the provision of new places, that we are coping with the immediate problem of the bulge, the raising of the school-leaving age and the de-centralisation, and that we shall be in a year or two's time in a position to start out upon the implementation of the development plan. There is no grave cause for anxiety there.
As regards the position of the old schools, during this period when we have to provide every extra place we can, we are capable, given good will and given efficiency and co-operation on the part of the local education authorities, of maintaining, repairing, and, within reason, improving the existing schools. I think, therefore, that the message which should go out from this debate to those in the country who are anxious about the future of our schools is one, on the whole, of reassurance.
I think that at the outset I ought to emphasise what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) about the debt we owe to my hon. Friend the Member for Lady wood (Mr. Yates) in this matter, and the debt, in my judgment, that not only the House but the country owes to him and those hon. Members in all parts of the House who sat on this Committee.
It was my good fortune to be a Member of a Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Estimates last year under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood when we examined the facts concerned with prisons, and I can well imagine, from my memory of that experience last year, the patience, thoroughness and determination with which he must have carried his colleagues through the work that has resulted in this admirable and extremely significant Report.
I lay that amount of stress upon it not only because it describes graphically and brings home to the public mind certain important facts about education—that, perhaps, by itself may not be so great an achievement—but because I think it is true to say that the seriousness of the position—and it has been serious for very many years—was not known to people who had made nothing more than a superficial study of the problem. The Report has brought the truth home to the general public in a most striking manner. I believe that to be a valuable service; but beyond that the Report puts forward a number of important constructive proposals for dealing with that situation.
I was surprised, therefore, to find that the Minister of Education in her speech today treated the Report with such a remarkable lack of respect. She began her speech with a few pedantic criticisms of its drafting. When I had heard the rest of the presentation of the Government's case by the Minister and also by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, I was bound to conclude that if the Government rather than the Committee had had the drafting of the Report there was no reason to suppose the drafting would have been any better, although it might very well have been a great deal longer.
The right hon. Lady had been speaking for 50 minutes, for a considerable part of that time on pedantic and trivial matters, making partisan points, before she came to the consideration of the recommendations of the Report. I want, therefore, to remind the House of certain matters referred to in the Report which have received only scant consideration from the right hon. Lady or from the hon. Gentleman who also spoke from the Government Front Bench.
In the first place, there is the calculation of the number of places. On the calculation made by the Ministry in 1950 of 1,150,000 places required by the end of this year, a judgment which, according to the evidence given in the Report has been adhered to over these three years, the right hon. Lady had very little to tell us. She used the phrase, "It has nothing to do with me." It is true that when it was first made she was not in office, but the Report comments very aptly on that when it says that, as an initial miscalculation, this figure might have been understood; but rigid adhesion to it over a period of three years was an error of judgment. During two of these three years, it was for the right hon. Lady to say whether she agreed or not with the Report that it was an error of judgment, and she says, "It has nothing to do with me."
There is another matter of the accuracy of the evidence given by the Ministry for which the right hon. Lady has very properly told us she is responsible. At one stage in the evidence on this question of the calculation of the number of places, the Sub-Committee were informed that the number of places was greater than the number of children who would be added to the school rolls during that period. If we compare the information given as to the number to be added to the school rolls during that period in the Minister's own Report, we come to the conclusion that this figure of 1,150,000 was far from being greater and is something like 200,000 less. It may be—one knows how it can happen when witnesses are giving evidence—that the exact wording of the question was not understood. It may be that not more than a verbal error or misunderstanding is involved here, but, on the face of it, it is a serious misunderstanding, and the right hon. Lady ought to have cleared it up.
There was a recommendation that the planning of school buildings by local authorities should in future be carried out on a three-year basis. The right hon. Lady, it is true, did reply to that, but very briefly—far more briefly than so important a consideration deserves. It would be a major change in our procedure and would mean reconsidering again how local, and indeed national, finance ought to be organised. It may be that if it were fully considered the balance of argument might be against it, but it was surely for the right hon. Lady to give more than two or three minutes' comment on an important proposal of that kind.
On the suggestion that the starting dates could be made earlier and that that would expedite the building of schools, the right hon. Lady gave us no reply at all, and dismissed the matter casually, saying that she did not think that the House would wish her to discuss glass and such matters, which included a number of interesting and important recommendations about design. I would not make these complaints if the right hon. Lady had been pressed for time. We had in all 100 minutes of Government oration, 75 from the Minister and 25 from the Scottish Office, and still there are these important points left unanswered or answered very casually indeed.
On the question of design the right hon. Lady, I think, did not mention at all the question of the desirability in practice of dispensing with the local by-laws. The representative of the Scottish Office did manage a sentence or two on that point and said that it was very difficult in Scotland. I think we would all have liked to have heard more on the pros and cons of pre-fabricated as against traditional building, and quite clearly a Member of the Government with the resources of the Department to draw on is in a position to discuss that matter in the House far more effectively than anyone on this side of the House or any back bencher on the other side. The question of glass is not as unimportant as the Minister supposed. It has been believed for some little while that there are great advantages in increasing the amount of glass in the wall space of schools. The Sub-Committee throws doubt on that assumption. It is a matter about which it would be useful to have a little more information, and here was an opportunity which might have been taken.
Nor did we hear very much about the possibilities of further consultation between local authorities and teachers. While we all accept the comment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, Southwest (Mr. Powell) that it is, after all, the local authority which bears the primary responsibility in education—it is a locally administered service—it is part of the Minister's duty to keep an eye on the country as a whole, and where there are matters that interest local authorities in general, such as the provision that they might make for consultation with their teachers about the planning of school buildings, it is part of the Minister's duty to provide the initiative and to be a focal point round which the local authorities can rally.
As usual, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West gave us five minutes on the importance of looking at the matter from a national, rather than a party, point of view. Within a few minutes of that he was sneering at my hon. Friends for lack of regard for local government, at hon. Members who have a far more distinguished record of local government service than he has. But I am afraid that that is the usual conclusion to the hon. Gentleman's oration about the importance of not looking at things from a party point of view.
Not only did the right hon. Lady neglect certain important parts of the Report; there were also a number of questions addressed to her by my right hon. Friend which she left in the air. My right hon. Friend raised a difficult and complex point about the future of certain controlled schools, to which she made no reference. My right hon. Friend drew attention particularly to secondary schools in both old and new areas. The hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) some time later assured the House that he was the first person to mention secondary schools in the debate. He was wrong on that, as he was on other points. My right hon. Friend had referred to secondary schools at some length, and again there was no reply from the right hon. Lady.
Nor did she answer, to the great regret of all of us who are interested, the question of how many schools there are of which it can be said that they have been conceived, planned, started and finished while she has been in office. We have heard a great deal about the number of schools which have been completed while she has been in office. The extraordinary thing is that, while she takes credit for completing them, she blames us for having started them.
Is not one of the difficulties that the debate has taken place before the replies from the Department to the Report have been made public? That is not the usual practice.
On the contrary, that gives the right hon. Lady an opportunity to reply in a form which will get a great deal more publicity than, I fear, is often accorded Ministerial replies to the comments of the Select Committee on Estimates. She has had an excellent opportunity and she has thrown it away. In the event, the Government have said, in effect, "We cannot be bothered with all these pernickety points about the amount of glass in the wall space of schools and whether we should arrange the starting dates in a more convenient manner. Let us leave all these dull topics to the technicians and civil servants and, instead, put down an Amendment where we can, by implication " —because they have not the courage to do it in so many words—"throw into the scale some partisan comparison between this Government and the last Government." That is, in effect, what the Amendment does.
It is noticeable, and I commend it particularly to hon. Members on both sides of the House who signed the Report, that the Amendment does not include the phrase:
That this House approves the Report.
If the Government had been prepared to do that and then to add a pat on the back for what they had done, we, in our generosity of heart, would have forgiven them. But they are not prepared to approve the Report, and they brush it aside with a patronising, purely platitudinous phrase to the effect that the Report had drawn attention to the importance of school-building, a fact which everybody knew in any case. The Amendment then goes on to point out that the Government found a serious educational situation, which is, by implication, an attack on the late Government, and suggests that we have confidence in the way the present Government are handling the situation.
In view of the terms of the Amendment, it is my duty to spend some time commenting on the achievements of the last Government and this Government. I do that not merely because the terms of the Amendment call for it but because it serves something much more than a partisan purpose. I believe, and I hope to show, that if we make the comparison that the Amendment invites us to make we shall be able to draw from both the record of the last Government and the record of the present Government certain important morals which will be applied to future action and will, therefore, be of national, and not merely party, advantage.
What does the Amendment say? It says that the Government found a serious educational situation. Were they really unaware that there was a serious educational situation? We had been fully aware of it and had not hidden it from the country. It was part of the extremely grave economic position which the country has faced ever since the end of the war and will continue to face for some time. The plain fact is that there are a great many things which need to be done, the total claims of which exceed our resources. Therefore, whatever part of the national economy or social service is looked at, it is not difficult to find a serious situation. Did it really need hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to get into office before they discovered what was apparent to any serious student of affairs, and indeed has been so for many years?
They say that they found that state of affairs on taking office. No one would have gathered from the tone of the right hon. Lady in the debate on education in the early spring of last year that she had found such a serious situation. She was claiming that she was maintaining the essential fabric of education. There was no suggestion that that essential fabric was in danger of collapse. Time and time again when she was criticised she repeated the phrase, "I am following the policy of my predecessor." If she found a serious educational situation, it has only been quite recently.
Let me make a comparison between this Government and the previous one. I shall try to make it impartially, but being human I cannot hope to be entirely successful. I will not, however, make it in any partisan spirit. I believe that criticism can be made of both Governments, and more important, morals can be drawn from the handling of the educational problem by both Governments.
First, what were the problems that faced the last Government? When they came into office development plans had got to be prepared by local authorities.
They were starting completely from scratch. There was bound to be a certain fallow period during which little building could be done. Then the building industry itself had got to be built up again. That was because of the war. The Government also found that as far back as we have any history of public education in this country very little has been done about the design of buildings. There was a great deal of study to be made there, and they had to do their first work with pieces of design which were subsequently proved to be very far from economical and very far from the best.
They had also to provide a great and increasing supply of school teachers and to raise the school-leaving age, a decision which was right. On that I have no doubts whatever, and it was done despite the opposition of hon. Members like the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), who, like other hon. Members opposite, has fired his shot and disappeared. At the time when we brought in the scheme for raising the school-leaving age the hon. and gallant Member was one of its opponents. Then, of course, there were so many other claims on the building industry and on national resources.
In the light of that, what were the Government's achievements? There was a steady rise in the number of school places provided per year from 30,000 up to 150,000 which was a fivefold increase, a rate of achievement making a total of 630,000 places provided during the tenure of office of that Government. This is the achievement which the right hon. Lady, in what I admit was one of the more heated moments of her speech, referred to as "practically nothing." She said that the late Government finished "practically nothing."
The resources put into educational building went up from some £15 million to some £90 million a year, a sixfold increase. The amount of work completed rose sevenfold from the necessarily small figure of £5 million to begin with to some £35 million in the last year of that Government's term of office. In all we got what Sir John Maud described as a programme without parallel in any country or in any time. If that is to be called exaggerated, it is a great deal nearer the truth than the right hon. Lady's phrase "practically nothing."
During that time great improvements were made in design. As a result of the direct act of the last Government an architects' branch was formed in the Ministry of Education. That was a body of some 100 civil servants, which has been responsible for providing a great many more school places and saving the country a very great deal of money. I hope that will be borne in mind by people both in this House and elsewhere who imagine that sacking civil servants is the best way to effect economy.
As a result of that activity the cost per place in schools—and with no serious damage to the educational system—was cut down by 25 per cent. Under the right hon. Lady's administration the process of reducing the cost of places has gone on. We are all glad of it, but she has benefited from what we did. Just as she has been able to finish schools that we began, so she has been able to draw, not only on a fund of building, but on a fund of ideas that were started and which she said has made a notable contribution. We find in the evidence given before the Sub-Committee that two very valuable conferences were held in the autumn of 1951 on this question of design of schools. Although there have been several requests for further such conferences none has been held since. The right hon. Lady might have told us, if she had studied that part of the Report, whether she was thinking of holding another conference of that kind.
Then, of course, there were other expansions achieved in the field of education. There was the number of pupils pursuing technical education full-time, which has increased threefold, there was a fivefold increase in the number doing part-time technical education, a great expansion in the number of people going to the university, and so on. I could continue to catalogue the achievements for some time. Is it contended by these critics of the late Government that this programme was inadequate? One hon. Member has tried to suggest that. If the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South meant anything, it meant that. That cannot be squared with the suggestion made by other Government spokesmen that the fault of the previous Government was that they started too much.
On the point that the last Government started too much, the thing to notice is that in all the significant figures which one looks at of building work started or completed, or the number of school places provided, there is a steady growth year after year, and that if the policy was to be really valuable that growth had to be continued. It is true that a great deal was being started. It was important both to finish and to be able to go on starting at that rate to maintain the momentum of increase.
The morals, therefore, to be drawn from the record of the previous Government are that, if criticism can be made against them, it is that they did not give education a sufficient priority compared with the other claims on building labour and material. Had we done that, it might have been somewhat easier for our predecessors, had they had the will, to have dealt with what was admittedly a difficult situation. That and the great importance of good design are the morals that the nation learns from the former Government.
What has been the one original contribution to the matter by the present Government? The first thing upon which they decided, said the right hon. Lady last year, was a moratorium on starts. That has been her only original contribution to the problem. What has been its value? The right hon. Lady told us that she completed £3 million worth more of school-building work as a result of that moratorium. I find that a little difficult to square with the figures in the monthly digest of educational building work as a whole, but there may well be an explanation. From those figures, however, it would appear that the amount of educational building work started in the year to which the right hon. Lady refers was £20 million less. That was part of the price of finishing £3 million more of educational work.
Furthermore, the reason the right hon. Lady could complete more work was that the work had been started under a previous Administration. It is significant from the figures that at the end of 1951 the total work completed was just about the same as the total work that had been begun two years previously; there was that two years' gap. What we find, however, is that at the end of 1952, after the right hon. Lady's heroic achievement with the moratorium, the position is fundamentally the same; the amount of work finished at the end of 1952 was again just about the amount that had been begun by a date two years previously. The right hon. Lady had not to any appreciable extent caught up on the gap between starting and finishing.
The moratorium, therefore, did not justify itself, and it came as a rejection of the policy of a growing and expanding programme at a time when there was an ever-growing number of children to be dealt with, when in a country where there were more people at work more wealth of all kinds should, presumably, have been produced, but unfortunately that, apparently, was not the case, and when local authorities, architects and builders had all been geared to a higher production programme.
The evidence before the Sub-Committee showed that the effect of the moratorium was a setback and a discouragement to local authorities, architects, builders and, probably, to intending recruits to the teaching profession. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West suggested that in certain areas that might not have been so. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook), however, told a very different story, and so could many other Members who have not had the opportunity to speak today.
In London we find that not only did the moratorium fall heavily in the first year in which it was imposed. London proved that it could build a great deal, and some that the Minister prevented it from building under the moratorium, and was so able to secure an improved allocation of £4·6 million in the following year. Now, however, we find that the Minister is at it again, and her latest action has been, where London has asked for £4,500,000, to approve a programme of only £3,250,000, thus delaying the production of 11,000 primary and 3,000 secondary places in an area which is already threatened by a deficit of some 10,000 places by the end of 1955 as a result of the moratorium.
Certainly not to the hon. Member, who is paying no interest to the debate at all. I trust I may be pardoned for devoting that amount of attention to the affairs of the city in which I have lived most of my life when we have had so many other examples from other parts of the Kingdom during the afternoon.
The moral we draw from the handling of this matter by the present Government is the need for a fixity of purpose and not to have these jolts and jars in the programme. That means a grave decision on the whole question of what amount of resources should be devoted to education. It is true that the nation will perhaps read with some interest of a battle between the parties, but they will hope that out of it will come something of value.
I suggest that if we make a fair assessment, the late Government can be criticised, perhaps, on the grounds that, having started so much, it should have given a greater total amount of resources to education in order to see that what was started was finished a little more speedily. The present Government can be attacked in that it has done nothing to add to the impetus of educational building supplied by the late Government and has introduced a feeling of jolt and uncertainty by its only original contribution, which has been this moratorium. I do not believe that any criticism of the late Government is fair which does not pay tribute to its great achievements, and any recounting of the number of places finished by the present Government is not fair unless it takes account of the jolts provided in the programme.
We can draw the moral, and the methods by which we can act are suggested in the Report. We can give more attention than the right hon. Lady has given to the particular suggestion made about design and the proper application of money spent on minor works. We can consider whether there can be a more accurate calculation of the number of places where a three-year basis and improvement in the matter of starting dates will contribute materially to the solution of the problem. All those matters we can consider. I think that if we draw the moral from the Report and from the handling of this matter by the last Government and the present Government and the difficulties in which, with the best will in the world, both have been placed, we shall inevitably come to the conclusion that a greater priority out of the national income as a whole ought to go to education.
It is not enough to look at a more rapid provision of places today, because the number of children is growing rapidly. It is not any good running faster if the thing one is pursuing is also putting on speed at an even greater rate than oneself. When we consider, not only the task of keeping up with the natural increase in the number of children, but the problem of getting down the size of classes, dealing with the very grave matter of the provision of special schools for handicapped children, and many other matters one might mention, it is inevitable that we ought to devote a greater priority to education.
What is the difficulty about doing that from the point of view of the present Government? If they had done it they could have maintained the impetus we had imparted to the programme and taken credit for a large number of finished buildings. If the difficulty is one of finance, why have we had finance handed out in tax reliefs to well-off people with unearned incomes? That is the sort of thing a nation cannot afford if it is really concerned with its education.
If the difficulty is materials, then we need stricter control to see that those materials do not go on unnecessary building of any kind. Are we to be told that there is no real shortage of materials? If not, we could be building more schools today; if there is, we ought to consider more narrowly whether some of the buildings now going up could not be postponed to a more suitable date. If the difficulty is one of labour, there are 150,000 more people unemployed in this country today than there were two years ago, and nearly one-tenth of them—14,000—are in the building and contracting industry. If these are the difficulties, they could be surmounted.
We on this side of the House believe that if it is proved necessary, education should have a greater priority, even compared with other social services. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] I say that, and I repeat it. If the necessity is shown, I believe that education should have a greater priority, even compared with the other social services, and I invite the Government—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which one?"] I use the plural, not the singular, and I say I would invite the Government to show whether this necessity has arisen.
What we have got at the moment, through the kind of Budget we have had, is more unemployment and relaxation, private luxury and enforced idleness. These are luxuries and wastage which the nation cannot afford. [An HON. MEMBER: "Abingdon."] The hon. Gentleman is content with what he thinks is an immediate party advantage; he should be prepared to attend a course of lectures by his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. These are the things that the nation cannot afford if we are to pay proper respect to the serious and important Report which has been produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood and hon. Gentlemen from both sides of the House. I ask hon. Members particularly if they approve this Report; if they do, we shall be happy to see them with us this evening.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has made so comprehensive and so convincing a reply to her critics that she has left me very little to answer. During recent days she has been the victim throughout the country of a most cruel and bitter attack, but I think she has given today a triumphant vindication of her policy.
I have a suspicion that the purpose of those who promoted this controversy was not really confined to educational matters, or even to a pure love of education. I have had the impression from speeches made and articles written that it may not be my right hon. Friend who really has been the main subject of attack. I think I have detected a certain disposition to use the question of schools to belittle the housing record of the Government.
It is, of course, very annoying and very distressing to the Opposition, whose leaders declared categorically to the nation that it was impossible to build more than 200,000 houses in a year. It is still more annoying to find that 240,000 houses were built under the first year of "Tory misrule." This disappointment is even greater when we remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who was then Minister of Works, subsequently declared that he had always known that this number would be built in 1952. What a pity he did not confide it to my predecessor. It seems to have been a dark secret, but still he might have entrusted it to him. Perhaps the ex-Minister of Works was like one of those punters who can always confidently select the winner, but only after the race.
It must be still more irritating to see the figures rising month by month. I do not know what the final figure for 1953 will be, but if it should be a good one well on the target, a bulls-eye, or even an inner, will there be loud and prolonged applause from the party opposite? Will there be compliments and good wishes, perhaps a little token, to the Minister—a specially bound copy of "Challenge to Britain" or, better still, a year's subscription to the "Tribune"? Alas, I can expect nothing so gracious. Curiously enough, no sooner have we begun to prove that building on this scale can be done, than our critics turn round and say that it really ought not to be done.
I do not understand why the Opposition are so niggling and jealous over this. It is not I, my Parliamentary Secretary or my Department who have done this job. It is the master builders, the craftsmen, and the labourers in the building industry. It is they, helped by the local authorities, whether Conservative or Socialist controlled, and by private developers, large and small, who have joined in the spirit of the housing crusade. All we have done is to give them a chance, and, of course, to abolish the development charge. Now the accusation is that our success in the housing drive has been at the expense of other building. If it were true it would be an important, though not necessarily a decisive objection. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said it?"] Oh, I know who said it. I have it here, I have no doubt about that. Just wait. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to read what their leaders say.
The homes of the people constitute the greatest and most compelling of all human needs. If we are to use that hateful word "priority," then home is priority No. 1. Nevertheless, this criticism, if it were true, would certainly diminish the credit of the house-building effort, and, therefore, it ought to be examined a little further—although I am bound to say that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has really answered it in great detail.
I did observe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen had some second thoughts about this whole affair. They may have suddenly begun to realise how precarious was their own position and how insecure their own record. Indeed, never were stones thrown so wildly from houses so completely constructed of glass. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who opened the debate, was quite conscious of this. I expected that he would make a much more slashing attack. There he was, billed for the role of the lion. I thought he would roar like a lion, but not at all. He roared
as gently as any sucking dove … an'twere any nightingale.
The right hon. Gentleman told us, in his smoothest tones, how much he deprecated a display of party fisticuffs He wanted a calm, scientific bipartisan approach to the whole problem. Was that the approach of the Socialist journals, speakers, and candidates after the publication of this Report? Was this the approach on the platform or on the hustings? Not at all. What has happened is that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends thought that they were on to a good thing. They had a good stick with which to beat the Government. Then, as so often before, they saw it turn into a boomerang. The right hon. Gentleman changed his tactics. He tried to slip out as quietly as he could. Having found that his cock would not fight, he belatedly turned into a conscientious objector to cockfighting.
I will do credit to the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), who spoke, and who was Chairman of this Select Committee. He deprecated the political use of his Report. I think that perhaps he might have done a little deprecating a
little earlier, for 200 Members of his party put down on the basis of the Report what amounted to a Motion of censure on the Government, but, when they saw that it would not go, like the Snark they just silently vanished away. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) had already rushed boldly into the controversy at the very beginning. He said at Skegness, in a naturally buoyant atmosphere—and he repeated what he said in Berkshire after assuming command there, but it did not go quite so well there—that I had stepped up house-building by cutting down on schools, factories and power stations. He said:
In other words, Mr. 'Macmillan said, 'All you, stand back. Then it will look as if I am advancing. Any ass can build houses that way'.
The right hon. Gentleman contrasted this with the days of the Socialist Administration:
When the Labour Party was in office there was a balanced housing programme.
But now that we have gazed in the crystal perhaps we had better look at the facts. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields rather denigrated figures or the use of figures. I am not in the least surprised. He said that he was against arithmetic, especially simple arithmetic. It may be a very reactionary view of mine, but I still believe that two and two make four.
Let us look at the figures—Neave, 22,986. [Laughter.] Whether one takes primary and secondary schools or whether one takes all educational buildings, including technical colleges and other work; in other words, whether one takes actual figures in terms of money, or figures of prices corrected to the end-1951 prices, which is really the fairest test, in all forms of the figures our record of work done is by every test higher than in any year of the previous Administration.
I said "work done" which is the only test, not work approved, planned or dreamed about in a Socialist Utopia. Our record in 1952, and what is expected for 1953, will be far above that achieved in those lean years before. If one takes all educational work and takes the corrected prices, their average for the five years—I leave out 1946, which I think it is fair to do—is £34,500,000. Our 1952 figure is £50 million. Our 1953 figure will be £54 million; and that is work done.
"Ah," they say, "but what about work started?" They all say that. Mr. Morgan Phillips said it, so they have to say it. It is "His Master's Voice." He says,"Do not bother about the work done; just think of all that we started." Of course, the Socialists do start a lot of things. They are wonderful starters. There were more hares started under Socialist rule than ever before in history. But none of them will ever get killed. Everything is begun and nothing is finished. They say, "Finish it? That is just a dull, pedestrian, unimaginative job; leave that to the Tories."
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has most convincingly explained why there was the need for the three months moratorium early in 1952—a moratorium, let it be repeated, not on building, not on ceasing the work, but upon the starts. It was absolutely necessary in order to finish what was building, for this so-called balanced building was hopelessly out of balance.
Like everything else that we took over, it was in a mess. Unless drastic steps had been taken, it would have got into a hopeless tangle. The starting date procedure was applied to those buildings. It is true that it was not applied to houses, because educational buildings or factories deal with a limited number of large projects, whereas houses deal with a very large number of quite small ones.
Take the next figure, with reference to factories. These are the figures for what the right hon. Gentleman described as next on the list of starved and hungry victims of the housing drive: 1950, £102 million, 1951, £113 million, 1952, £118 million—and that in spite of the steel shortage which caused us so much difficulty in 1952. The same was true of the power stations. There was, I admit, a 10 per cent. drop in the actual investment, but the production is running at an accelerating rate and the drop is solely due to the shortage of steel. The shortage of steel was the only reason.
Let us take the blitzed cities—not plans, not schemes, not vague promises, but work done. The figures for blitzed cities were: 1950, £2·3 million; 1951, £3·5 million; 1952, £4·6 million; 1953, £5·5 million. That last figure is the one that I have agreed with the Treasury, but I shall be disappointed if we do not do better than that. We can always get a little more. These are not starts or plans or dreams or visions but work done, and that is the only test.
In the light of these figures, let me return to the accusation of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who said that I had said, "All of you stand back, and then it will look as if I am advancing." That is what I am supposed to have said. Anyway, the right hon. Gentleman admits that I am advancing. The truth is that the others have advanced, too—houses, educational buildings, factories and blitzed cities. They have all gone forward together. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may not like the form that this controversy has taken, but, after all, we did not begin it.
Let us take the right hon. Gentleman's own record and see who and what stood back for him. Let us take this best housing year on which he prides himself. I think it was 1948. It must have been 1948, because it was after the 1947 crisis and before the 1949 crisis. The 1951 crisis was still to come. Socialist chronology is very easy to remember—muddle every year, and a crisis every other. In 1948 he completed 227,000 permanent houses and 18,000 temporary houses in addition. What happened to the schools in that year?
I am quite ready to give that point to the right hon. Member. The bigger they were the more my point is true. In the right hon. Gentleman's best year 227,000 permanent houses and 18,000 temporary houses were built, but what happened to the schools? In that year £24 million was spent on educational building and £16 million on primary and secondary schools. In a year when our housing figure is at least as big, as against £24 million spent on all educational
building we have spent £50 million, and as against £16 million spent on primary and secondary schools we have spent £36½ million. The comparison is the same. Who was standing back in 1948?
I am not unduly concerned with the right hon. Gentleman's accusations, because I am used to them, but I am a little surprised that the Leader of the Opposition fell into this trap. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] The nominal one. In his letter to the Berkshire candidate at the recent by-election he said that the Tories were sacrificing the education of the workers' children to their housing programme. Was this party fisticuffs, or was this the form of bipartisan deliberation which the right hon. Member for South Shields invited us to adopt? I can think of no more cruel accusation—if it were true—that could be made against anyone.
At this point I want to make some reference to a serious fallacy that underlies a great deal of this sort of planning which has become fashionable since the war.
The hon. Member had better go out if he cannot stand it. I am not at all surprised; it has been a very rough day for him.
I am not unfamiliar with the word "planning." I was a planner when it was a far less respectable occupation than it has now become. To me planning has always meant a broad policy, a general programme, and a strategic and not tactical operation. The potential output of an industry in terms of money is a good and useful guide, but we must not fall into the trap of thinking that because it is convenient to measure output—whether of men or materials—in terms of money, those men and materials can be moved about from place to place and project to project with the same ease that money can be passed from one Vote to another. Different forms of building require different forms of construction and materials. Factories and schools require considerable amounts of steel, but houses require only a little.
When one comes to the question of manpower one finds that there are regular large contractors who have both specialised managements and workmen, who are carefully chosen and adapted to their particular jobs. It is an illusion to think that these can be switched about from day to day or month to month, like pawns in a game. The human material in this industry is not just a solid mass. There are firms and men who are suitable for house-building who could not be employed, for instance, in civil engineering or heavy work of that kind. There are some small firms who can and have joined in the housing drive in this or that village or town, without impinging upon the labour or materials required for large-scale factory or office building.
It is a different sort of job, and I am convinced that it is wrong to say that the development of one aspect of building necessarily impinges unfavourably on another. On the contrary, I have a feeling that if we can keep industry in an expanding and optimistic mood, with full order books and the sense of a great future before it, with a certainty of steady employment, and with good wages, sound incentive schemes, and good management, we can rely upon a rise in its total productivity and a rise in output of all kinds of building.
That is, in fact, what we have proved, over the whole field, by the confidence we have placed in the building industry, both masters and men. This can be proved because in school-building and house-building the period taken to complete has diminished. Houses take less time, fewer months per house. In the building industry as a whole, practically the same number of men—a few less—consumed 10 per cent. more materials—bricks and cement—in 1952 than they did in 1951, which is proof of increased productivity.
But the rise in productivity has not been achieved without much thought and effort, and I want to pay tribute, as I have done in the past, both in the House and outside, to my predecessor for the work which he did in preparing the way for the popular house both in the money and material stages. This is the house the first design of which he planned and which I called the People's House. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) called it an inferior house, and the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale called it a rabbit hutch. They mean much the same thing, but are different ways of talking to suit the characteristics of the two right hon. Gentlemen. All I did was to perfect the house and popularise it. The local authorities took it up to such a degree that, whether Conservative controlled or Socialist controlled, 90 per cent. of them are building to this design by their free decision.
We have certainly built more houses by these methods and these designs without any sacrifice of standard and with complete conformity to the famous Dudley regulations. I am surprised that in the absence of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) such a dastardly attack should be made upon his house.
In the same way my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education paid her tribute to her predecessors for the first beginning, under the brilliant architects at the Ministry. They have done wonderful work. She inherited the work already started and, in the same way, she perfected it and pushed forward with admirable determination and success. Those are the new types of school design, and by these means, by scientific and skilful design and new methods of building and by a strict financial control of the cost per school place, she has produced a result which is far more outstanding than expenditure in terms of money would suggest. In reality, she has made greater achievements than the mere money cost of it would show.
This is proved by the remarkable figures of school places provided in primary and secondary schools in the last five years. In the year to 1st February, 1950, the yearly average was 74,000. Next year, from 1950–51, it was 130,000. Next year it was 159,000, and in her first complete year of office it was 218,000. She tells me that she is confident that in the subsequent year that will amount to 250,000. More money spent on school places but more school places for the same corresponding amount of money—that seems to me to be real progress.
The attack which has been launched upon us has failed dismally, so dismally that the hon. Gentleman who wound up this great Motion of censure, as it was to have been a week or two ago, ended up by a speech entirely for the defence, defending his own party and his own Government's record. We know, of course, that great progress is being made and that in the housing field and in the educational field there is a tremendous lot still to do. There are slum schools to be cleared away, but there are slum houses to be cleared away, too. They are the relics of six years of war, when no building could be done, when it was impossible to catch up with what had to be done.
It is a great difficulty for any Government left in charge of it, but it is also, I think, a great inspiration, and a Government may well be and should be stimulated and assisted by the Report of a Select Committee if it is made in the spirit in which I am convinced the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood intended it to be—a useful, practical contribution to a difficult national problem. But if it is distorted, and thought to be a convenient instrument with which to attack the Government at a good political moment, then I think we are
The Government are ready to be judged and ask only to be judged, and are being judged, by their achievements. We do not shrink from that test at all. Sometimes it is in one part of the country and sometimes in another. Of the Government's programme for houses, schools, factories, for the clearance of bad old houses and the slum areas and of the bad old schools and the slum schools, of this programme we could say this, by the adaptation of a famous phrase: it has increased, it is increasing, it ought to increase further still. And with the resolute support of Parliament and people I am persuaded that we shall achieve our purpose.
|Division No. 210.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Adams, Richard||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Albu, A. H.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyt)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||do Freitas, Geoffrey||Hobson, C. R.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Deer, G.||Holman, P.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Delargy, H. J.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Dodds, N. N.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Awbery, S. S.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Baird, J.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Balfour, A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Edelman, M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bartley, P.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Bence, C. R.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Beswick, F.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Janner, B.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Fernyhough, E.||Jegar, George (Code)|
|Blackburn, F.||Finch, H. J.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jenkins, R. H. (Steohford)|
|Boardman, H.||Follick, M.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Foot, M. M.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Forman, J. C.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Keenan, W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Gibson, C. W.||Kenyon, C.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Glanville, James||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Kinlay, J.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Carmichael, J.||Grey, C. F.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Champion, A. J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Lewis, Arthur|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hale, Leslie||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Clunie, J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Logan, D. G.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Collick, P. H.||Hamilton, W. W.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hannan, W.||McGovern, J.|
|Craddook, George (Bradford, S.)||Hargreaves, A.||Mclnnes, J.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hastings, S.||McLeavy, F.|
|Daines, P.||Hayman, F. H.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H|
|MacPherscn, Malcolm (Stirling)||Pryde, D. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Pursey, Cmdr, H.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Rankin, John||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Reeves, J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Raid, Thomas (Swindon)||Thornton, E.|
|Marquand, Hi. Hon. H. A.||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Timmons, J.|
|Mason, Roy||Rhodes, H.||Tomney, F.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Messer, Sir F.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Ross, William||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Monslow, W.||Royle, C.||Weitzman, D.|
|Moody, A. S.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Morley, R.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||West, D. G.|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Short, E. W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mort, D. L.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Moyle, A.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Nally, W.||Skeffington, A. M.||Wigg, George|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Slater, Mrs. S. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|O'Brien, T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Willey, F. T.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Snow, J. W.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Orbach, M.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Oswald, T.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Padley, W. E.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Paget, R. T.||Steele, T.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Wcodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Parker, J.||Stress, Dr. Barnett||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Paton, J.||Summerskiil, Rt. Hon. E.||Yates, V. F.|
|Peart, T. F.||Swingler, S. T.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Popplewell, E.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Price, Joseph (Westhoughton)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Proctor, W. T.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Burden, F. F. A.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Allan R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Campbell, Sir David||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Carr, Robert||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major, W. J.||Channon, H.||Fort, R.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Foster, John|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Cole, Norman||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Colegats, W. A.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lleyd|
|Barber, Anthony||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Godber, J. B.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Crouch, R. F.||Gower, H. R.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cuthbert, W. N.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Davidson, Viscountess||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||De la Bère, Sir Rupert||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Bavins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Deedes, W. F.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Biroh, Nigel||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Black, C. W.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Donner, Sir P. W.||Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Braine, B. R.||Drayson, G. B.||Hay, John|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drewe, Sir C.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Heath, Edward|
|Brooks, Henry (Hampstead)||Duthie, W. S.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Erroll, F. J.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fell, A.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Hollis, M. C.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E||Shepherd, William|
|Holt, A. F.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hops, Lord John||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Hornby-Smith, Miss M. P||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Maude, Angus||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Maud ling, R.||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Speir, R. M.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N)||Mellor, Sir John||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Molson, A. H. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon Richard|
|Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E b'rgh W.)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nicholls, Harmar||Storey, S.|
|Jennings, R.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Summers, G. S.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Nugent, G. R. H.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Keeling, Sir Edward||Nutting, Anthony||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Oakshott, H. D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Odey, G. W.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lambton, Viscount||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Tilney, John|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Osborne, C.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lermox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Partridge, E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Peake, Rt. Hon. O||Turton, R. H.|
|Linetead, Sir H. N.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Lloyd, Mai. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pitman, I. J.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lockwood. Lt.-Col. J. C.||Powell, J, Enoch||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)||Price, Henry (Lowisham, W.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lucas, Sir Joceiyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Profumo, J. D.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rayner, Brig. R||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Redmayne, M.||Wellwood, W.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Rees-Davies, W. R||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|MoCallum, Major D||Remnant, Hon. P.||Willliams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|MoCorqucdale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Renton, D. L. M.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R||Robertson, Sir David||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wills, G.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Roper, Sir Harold||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||York, C.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Russell, R. S.|
|MacLeod, John (Rose and Cromarty)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|MacMillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D||Mr. Kaberry.|
Question put, and agreed to.
That this House welcomes the emphasis laid in the said Report on the importance of school-building and is confident that Her Majesty's Government has made and is continuing to make the best use of available resources in the interests of the children, in order to deal with the serious educational situation which they found on taking office.