REPORT [22nd July]

Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26 July 1954.

Alert me about debates like this

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

7.3 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

I was saying, when we were interrupted for the Third Reading of the Private Bill, that I do not think that the local authorities would ask for unnecessary expenditure for school building because part of that expenditure falls upon the rates and it would not wholly be borne by Treasury grants. Therefore it is not likely that any local authority, as the hon. Member for Hampstead suggested, would overstate its demands. When the local authorities asked next year for £88 million worth of school building it meant that they thought that they could not carry out successfully their educational system within their localities unless that £88 million was granted. Instead of £88 million being granted only £45 million was granted, just over 50 per cent. of their legitimate demands.

The hon. Member for Hampstead made some statements about comprehensive schools which seemed to me rather peculiar and rather contradictory. He denied that Eton and Harrow are comprehensive schools. Of course, Eton and Harrow are not comprehensive schools in the full sense of the term, in that they do not embody the total range of intellect from the lowest I.Q. to the highest I.Q., and in that respect are not completely comprehensive schools, but they do have amongst their boys a very wide range of intellectual ability. There are boys who obtain admission to Eton and Harrow who would not be able to qualify in the selection examination for entry to many a grammar school conducted by local authorities. So, although not completely comprehensive schools, they are to a degree comprehensive schools, and the success of Eton and Harrow may legitimately be cited as proof of the success of comprehensive schools.

The hon. Member for Hampstead said, further, that he agreed with the comprehensive school idea. He agreed with the comprehensive school idea, but he did not want grammar schools to be absorbed into the comprehensive schools. However, we cannot have a comprehensive school unless the children of the highest I.Q. as well as of average I.Q. and of the lowest I.Q. are pupils within the comprehensive school. We cannot have a comprehensive school unless we have pupils of the grammar school type within that school. So what, in effect, the hon. Member for Hampstead said was that he was in favour of a comprehensive school so long as it was not a comprehensive school.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I said I agreed with carrying out the comprehensive school experiment and that we should learn a great deal from it. What the hon. Member must understand is that Eton and Harrow are recruited from boys who are deemed suitable for that type of education, and he must distinguish between Eton and Harrow on the one hand, and the comprehensive school he is talking about on the other, for entry to which there would be no selection whatever.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

I do not want to continue this argument because I do not want to be too long, but I think the hon. Member will agree that Eton and Harrow and most of our great public schools are in a sense comprehensive schools because they contain within them a very wide range of intellectual ability. They contain, I suppose, boys of an I.Q. range from 100 up to 180, which makes them, in a sense, comprehensive schools.

I do not wish to occupy much more of the time of the House because I know that there are other Members who desire to speak in the debate and who have been waiting to do so for some time, but I want to emphasise two things. First of all, I want to deal with what is to be the future of the secondary phase of education. It seems to me that the greatest problem we have before us at the present time in education is the organisation of the secondary stage.

By 1960 we shall have 700,000 more children in our secondary schools than we have at present, when the bulge has fully passed into the secondary schools. Today, we are giving about 21 per cent. of our children of secondary school age a grammar school education. An increase of 700,000 in the number of scholars of secondary school age means we have to—

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I am so sorry to interrupt, but I did not catch the percentage.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I thank the hon. Member. I am very sorry to interrupt.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

At present, we are giving 21 per cent. of our children of secondary school age a grammar school education —21 per cent, on the average throughout the country. The number of children of secondary school age will increase by 700,000. Indeed, if we are to continue to give 21 per cent. of grammar school places to all children of secondary school age, that means that we have to find 142,000 additional grammar school places within the next few years. The problem is, how are we to continue that situation? I do not think that we ought to build extra grammar schools to provide 142,000 additional places.

It is quite true that the existing grammar schools cannot possibly be stretched to contain 142,000 additional pupils, and to build additional grammar schools at this time would be to run counter to the very great volume of public opinion which is opposed to the tripartite system in education and to a considerable volume of public opinion which prefers the comprehensive school to the tripartite system. I believe, therefore, that the best way to deal with this problem, with which we shall shortly be faced, would be for the local authorities to build comprehensive schools in their areas, which would contain not only the children of average and below average ability, but also these 142,000, or some of them, brighter children for whom there will be no places in the existing grammar schools.

In that way, we could partially solve this problem by having a number of comprehensive schools in a number of different areas. That would mean establishing the comprehensive school system in our usual English way, not by a violent or complete break with the past, but by making the changes which are necessary to meet the changing social conditions and changing currents of public opinion. If these additional children of secondary school age cannot be absorbed into the grammar schools, then I suggest some attention should be given to the experiments made at Southampton and elsewhere in which the grammar school streams are placed in the existing modern secondary schools.

In Southampton, we have a scheme by which several modern secondary schools are selected in order to have what is called a "general course" for the pupils, and the general course is, in effect, a grammar school course. The parents of the pupils who take these courses are asked to keep them there until the age of 16, and at the age of 16 they take the General Certificate of Education. If they pass in a sufficient number of subjects, they are transferred to the sixth form of the grammar school.

In Southampton, this scheme has only been in operation for a few years. It was not until 1952 and 1953 that the pupils in the grammar school stream were able to take the General Certificate of Education. But, in 1952 and 1953, we had 341 passes from the modern secondary school in G.C.E. and 34 pupils in the modern secondary schools went on to the sixth form of the grammar school. The average number of passes in G.C.E. was three but some of the pupils were successful in getting six passes, and this year, which will be the first time that pupils have completed the full five years' course, we are expecting still better results.

I think that these are two ways of dealing with the organisation of the increased number of secondary school pupils with which we shall have to deal in the next few years—by establishing more comprehensive schools, and by placing grammar school streams in a number of selected modern secondary schools. I think that the Minister, if alive to the urgency of this problem, should now be inquiring of local authorities what are their plans for the organisation of the secondary stage of education, in view of the largely increased number of children of secondary school age which will have to be dealt with in the next few years.

Finally, I should like to touch upon a subject which has already been mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and the hon. Member for Newbury, just to dot the i's and cross the t's of what they have said about all-age schools. There are over 700,000 children being taught in all-age schools of which nearly 300,000 are children of secondary school age. The all-age school is classed as a primary school and all the 700,000 children are getting is a primary school education.

The 1944 Act promises secondary school education to all children, but 15 per cent. of the children are not getting it in these all-age schools. All over the rural areas there are schools of 50 to 150 children with an age range from five years to 15 years in buildings with no proper lavatory facilities, no art rooms, no metal work rooms, and no woodwork rooms, where the children have not the slightest chance of getting anything approximating to a secondary school education.

We all regret very deeply the fact that the Agricultural Wages Committee did not give an increase in wages to the agricultural workers in the recent negotiations. As a result, we are told by the representatives of the agricultural workers that many of the agricultural workers are leaving the countryside and seeking occupation in the towns. It is not only low wages which drives workers from the countryside; it is also lack of ordinary social amenities and, above all, lack of decent educational opportunities for their children.

I do not say that the teachers in the country schools are not doing their job efficiently. They are doing very well indeed under bad conditions, but they cannot work miracles, and the best teacher in the world cannot cope with an all-age school of children ranging from five to 15 without proper equipment or apparatus and without sufficient numbers to classify them according to their abilities and aptitudes.

I think it has already been mentioned that it would cost only £4 million a year for five years to reorganise completely the all-age schools. Surely that is a sum which the Minister ought to be quite willing to pay to put an end to this problem and restore some decent educational standards to the countryside, so that parents there may feel that their children are getting as good a chance as the children in the towns.

I do not wish to attack the Minister of Education. That has already been very effectively and dramatically done by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), but during the 50 years in which I have been closely connected with the practice and polemics of education, I have never known such a feeling of frustration and disappointment, of what our forefathers called the "wanhope," as exists among the teachers today.

We have seen the size of classes increased. There are 8,000 more classes of over 40 pupils in our schools today than there where when the present Administration took office. We have seen the building programme fail to keep pace with the needs of the children. We have seen nothing substantial done about the reorganisation of the all-age schools. Nothing has been done to remedy the serious evils which were brought to light by the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates in connection with the old slum school buildings. We feel that we are not really making the progress in education that we ought to make.

I do not know exactly what is the reason. The right hon. Lady is now a member of the Cabinet, so she has a voice, and should have an influence, in the innermost counsels of the nation. It may be that the right hon. Lady, like many other occupants of the Government Front Bench, is mortally afraid of the 1922 Committee. We know that the 1922 Committee wants to destroy the new look garment which the Conservative Party donned in 1951 and which enabled it to win the Election of that year, and, instead of that garment, to dress the party in Edwardian habiliments.

The 1922 Committee is "gunning" for every progressive Minister. It has already got rid of one progressive Minister and rumour has it that it is attacking another. If the 1922 Committee likes to persuade the Conservative Party to commit political suicide by going back to a 19th century policy then we will not weep any tears, crocodile or otherwise, over that.

However, we are discussing education. We are discussing children. Education and the children should be above the contest of party politics. We ask the Minister to do something a little bit more constructive, to show a little hit more energy, a little bit more dynamism, in her educational policy during the 18 months which remain to the life of the Government than she has shown during the past three years. If she does not do that, then she must go down in history as one of the most ineffectual Ministers of Education that this country has ever known.

7.23 p.m.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I always listen with pleasure and attention to speeches by the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley). On this occasion I think that he was a little bit more happy in the middle of his speech than he was either at the beginning or at the end. So far as the debate has been concerned with an attack upon my right hon. Friend, we must all agree that it has been a considerable fizzle.

The arguments of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) about building programmes and so on were most effectively answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke). The attempt of the hon. Member for Itchen to put the hon. Lady —if I may call her Humpty Dumpty—together again was not very effective, because the only statistic in building in which the record of the Government is, prima facie, not better than that of their predecessors was the one which the hon. Member quoted about the number of new schools started. The hon. Member omitted to remind the House that these new schools are now predominantly secondary schools whereas previously, and properly, they were predominantly primary schools, and the secondary school costs more money to build. Therefore, the amount of money which is being spent is greater now than it was under the previous Administration.

There was even less in the observations of the hon. Member about the 1922 Committee. The 1922 Committee is not the subject of debate this afternoon, and I do not think that there is any special point in following up the hon. Gentleman's observations.

The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East said that she hoped that we should have an education debate. I certainly hoped that myself. I will assume that there was no tinge of party politics in any of her observations and that in her views on comprehensive schools she was passing —as she is perfectly entitled to do from her experience—a judgment purely and entirely as an educationist. I assumed that exactly the same was the judgment of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove).

I admit that they are perfectly entitled to have a view, purely as educationists, that the comprehensive school is the best type of school. I do not quarrel with them holding that opinion, but if we are simply talking about this as educationists I would merely make the comment that they must recognise that that opinion is not universally held in educational circles. A number of schoolmasters hold the view and a number do not, and I am sure that the hon. Members will agree that their opinion is not universally held in educational circles. One school of thought favours the comprehensive school. Another school of thought is more restive about some of the problems caused by the comprehensive school.

The opinion is, I think, restive predominantly for two reasons which have nothing to do with politics and which we cannot deny are valid and important reasons. The first reason is that—though there may be exceptions in Scotland, for instance—as the idea of the comprehensive school is usually preached it will mean a very large school indeed, and there are plenty of people who think that there are dangers in having a school so large that the headmaster cannot have personal knowledge of all the boys.

Hon. Members opposite have been telling us that Eton is a comprehensive school. I do not think that it is a comprehensive school in the full sense of the word, but it is a very large school and, frankly, without any prevarication, I should say that its great defect is that it is so large. It is a great defect in the Etonian system that the headmaster is not able to get to know all the boys. If we sacked half the boys at Eton tomorrow I think that it would be a better school.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

If the number of boys had been reduced by half in the hon. Gentleman's day, would he have been happy to go?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I do not say that I should have been happy to go. The question is whether it would have been for the public good that I should go, and that is a matter of opinion. In any case, I think that it has grown too large.

The second reason is perhaps the more important one. The hon. Member for Aberavon spoke of the necessity of having comprehensive schools because that was the only way in which the average middle-class boy or girl could get a run for his money. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East praised the comprehensive school on the ground that it was a system which gave a fair chance to all. That is a point of view which doubtless the hon. Members honestly hold, but they cannot put it forward as an agreed point of view.

That is self-evident, because there is another school of thought which attacks the comprehensive school precisely on that ground. To prove that this is not a school of thought supported by only a few cranks, I quote from the document, "Reading Ability" issued when the Labour Government were in power and the late Mr. George Tomlinson was Minister of Education. It is not a party document. I do not say that the Government as such were responsible for it, but it certainly is not a Conservative document and it certainly was not issued by the 1922 Committee. It was issued by a Committee set up by the late Mr. George Tomlinson. That document said: Duller children are liable to discouragement in any kind of school where they are in company with those who are much more able. The argument was—a perfectly reasonable argument—that a certain moderate degree of competition is doubtless good for the child but to shove him into an environment of wholly unequal competition far from encouraging the child, would discourage him and militate against his opportunities in life. It would doubtless be very good for my cricket, were I to bat against the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). It would be good for it, were I to bat against Mr. Lindwall.

Photo of Miss Alice Bacon Miss Alice Bacon , Leeds North East

Would the hon. Member agree that the defects to which he has just drawn attention are much more prevalent in the village school where all the children are within one class in a small school, rather than in a large school where there are different classes?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

That may be so in the village school, but I do not feel that that has any bearing on this particular argument. I agree that we can have too small schools, but that does not refute this argument. It is true that one may have comprehensive schools under different systems. If we have a system in which there is absolute rigid segregation between children by different streams in the same building, I think that is as bad a system as could be imagined.

In the educational world it is by no means a settled issue that there is an absolutely the best sort of school and that one sort of school is the answer to all our educational problems. I am by no means opposed to experiments being tried in building comprehensive schools where there is need for new building, but I do not like experiments to be at the expense of existing schools which are already doing their work well.

The difficulty which the hon. Member for Itchen felt in following the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead, did not seem a real difficulty for he himself answered it. There is an expanding school population and plenty of places where we can try these experiments without destroying existing institutions. I refer again to the document "On Reading Ability." We have to face the alarming statistics about the difficulties of reading in various classes of pupils and different sorts of schools, and the two sorts of school which are doing this best, as it shows, are the public schools and the grammar schools. It would be a foolish educational policy if in the name of theory we were to destroy the two sorts of school which are performing this essential function better than any other sort of school.

I turn to a consideration of a phrase, which is very easy to use and which there is a very easy political temptation to use —"equality of opportunity." It is rather important to examine it, not from the political, but from a purely scientific point of view, to find its real meaning and what degree of truth it holds. Some hon. Members say very easily that no child should have special advantage in life because of its parents. First, to some extent equality of opportunity is a fact, whether we like it or not, for it is a great advantage to have good parents and a disadvantage to have bad parents. No one would suggest that because some parents are alcoholics, therefore we should infect all children with alcoholism so that none should have an unfair advantage. For that reason it does not necessarily follow that we should say that because to some extent it is a fact in nature we should not take measures to correct this injustice with which nature has visited certain children, but there again we have to consider what really are the qualities and origins of ability. If we forget politics for the moment and turn to science, observation and commonsense, we find there is no doubt about it that academic ability is very largely inherited.

If we take the Report of the Royal Commission on Population, we find persons, among others, as little likely to be suspected of Tory bias as J. B. S. Haldane and Mrs. Douglas Jay giving their names with very weighty evidence which was put before the Commission, to the theory that ability by and large was inherited. That being so, rather than a good thing I think it would be a great pity to create a system in which it would be quite impossible for a parent in any kind of way—however hard he had worked—to get any benefit for his son. A great motive for service to the community would be removed.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

How would the hon. Member prove which child has ability and which child has not? How could he put it to the test unless equal opportunities were given to prove that one child is able and the other child is not able?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

Certainly I would not test it in every case. As to how I would prove it, the last thing we want is to create a society in which people are mutually competing against one another for the whole time and doing nothing else. Therefore, we have to make certain assumptions.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

The hon. Member has not got the point which I am seeking to draw from him, namely, that ability is inherited. How can ability, whether inherited or not, be proved unless the opportunity for full education is available in all cases?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

It depends on what one means by full education—

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

I would accept the hon. Member's definition.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

None of us in this House would say that every child should have exactly the same education so that we should have a competition to see which comes out top. We all agree that there must be some system, whether a comprehensive school or different schools, by which certain children study one subject and certain children study another subject.

If we simply examine, not the children, but their parents, we probably would make a much better choice in the long run about who is to benefit from education than by examination of the children themselves. It would be to rule out all education if we were to suggest that all should have exactly the same education. That would be a very great mistake and would make it impossible for parents to benefit their children or it would destroy the various educational institutions in this country which have a great tradition behind them.

The wise as well as the traditional thing to do is to use the traditions of the nation and to modify them, as circumstances demand, to fit the conditions of the day. So I would have independent schools; I should be very sorry if they came to an end. I agree that so far as opportunities to attend them is concerned that there should be a test, and it is not so easy to get into a public school now as some hon. Members seem to think. There should be a stiff entrance examination and stiff tests to justify a boy staying there.

On the other hand I entirely agree that, while I believe in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, there are certain people whom biologists call "sports," who develop abilities greater than could be expected of them. It is enormously important that machinery should be provided whereby those people should not be frustrated and hat they should be given the fullest education—if the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. I. O. Thomas) likes that term—imaginable; that is a great task which must be undertaken. I do not by any means agree with people who think that an aristocracy has played no great and creative part in the history of this nation or any other nation. I think the condition of survival has been that the aristocracy should allow a reasonably free entrance, from lower down, of the exceptional individual into its ranks.

It is of enormous importance to make public schools as public as possible. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) in supporting the recommendations of the Fleming Committee by which as many as 25 per cent. of the boys at public schools should be of that kind. I agree with him in deploring the fact that the public schools have not been able to recruit anything approaching that number. I do not think it will be as easy to achieve that as my hon. and learned Friend thought. It is not merely a matter of advertising. There are great difficulties. My hon. and learned Friend was not a member of the Standing Committee which discussed the recent Education Bill, or I think he would agree that the difficulties by no means come mainly from the public schools.

The truth is that there are a certain number of people who, for a variety of reasons, do not wish to see this type of recruitment into he public schools. On the whole such people come from the Left Wing rather than the Right Wing. It is perfectly easy to see the difficulties of the individual parent whose boy at the age of 11 shows great promise and for whom there is an opportunity to go forward to a public school with a view to gaining a scholarship to a university and then going on to become Lord Chancellor. The parent may reflect that matters may not work out in that way—that it depends on whether the boy gets a scholarship at the age of 18 and that if he does not he will return to the village, perhaps more disgruntled and will be jeered at by the other boys.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

The hon. Member has talked about the failure of somebody to carry out the terms of the Fleming Report, which suggested 25 per cent. of the places in public schools being allocated in the way he has mentioned. Does the hon. Member know any public school in the country which has offered to any education authority or the Ministry 25 per cent. of its places?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

If the hon. Member means some formal offer on a piece of paper, I cannot say that I do, but if he is asking whether I know of a public school which would be perfectly willing to follow that recommendation I would say that some years ago I remember the late master of Marlborough telling me that he was longing to get more such boys. I have heard the headmaster of Eton say as much. I have talked to many public schoolmasters about this, and I have never heard any of them utter anything other than the highest of praise of such boys and the wish that they could get more of them.

Photo of Mr Dryden Brook Mr Dryden Brook , Halifax

Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that local authorities, who have been under pressure from the Ministry to economise in their budgets, should put first on their programmes the sending of a large number of boys and girls to boarding schools, which will cost £300 or £400 per pupil a year?

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I am deeply grateful to the hon. Member for making my speech for me. His intervention has largely dealt with the point raised by his hon. Friend. It shows that the objection does not come mainly from the public schools. Also, his remark leads me to the point I was going to make, that it is scarcely reasonable to expect local authorities, in such circumstances, to be much more generous than they are. I intended to suggest to my right hon. Friend that if this scheme was to be made a success it would require central Government assistance in the financing of it.

I wish to make a point on the question of inequality in respect of the number of students who go to grammar school in different areas of the country. It is a perfectly valid point and, as we know, there is a gross disparity in the figures, and I certainly hope that my right hon. Friend will press forward with her policy of ensuring that there should at any rate be some minimum standard or proportion in all the areas and an adequate provision of grammar schools in all the areas.

On the other hand, there is another side to the question which is often overlooked. People so often talk as if there was an equality of ability, not merely between individuals but between different localities, and that if only justice was done precisely the same proportion or almost the same proportion of children would qualify for grammar school, on some sensible, objective test, in all the different parts of the country. I do not believe that ability is spread in that sort of way. If one looks at history, one finds that the greatest artistic contributions are not equally spaced over the nations of the world or within nations but, on the contrary, have been overwhelmingly concentrated, throughout the greater part of history, in tiny little areas and very small countries—Athens or Florence or Elizabethan England—and have flourished there for a short time.

So, though in some mystic way we are doubtless all equal in the sight of God, it is sometimes assumed that the ability to profit by the humanism of a grammar school education is equally divided among us. I very much doubt that. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) may perhaps agree. Yet a general complaint in relation to grammar school education is that the Welsh send too many children to grammar schools. On the whole I think they should have a lot. It is obvious that the Welsh have much more feeling for language than have the English and it is right that more Welsh people should have the opportunity of such an education. The English doubtless have many other characteristics of their own, for this feeling for language is not equally spread. Vocabulary is richer in one part of Britain than another. Thus we need a variety of education not merely between individual and individual but between one part of the country and another.

Photo of Mr William Williams Mr William Williams , Droylsden

The hon. Member says that it is perfectly proper that there should be variety of education and that there should be some possibility—I agree that he says that the public schools should be as public as possible—of part of the educational facilities being reserved for people who in present circumstances can pay for it. Does he say that it should be confined to people who can afford to pay for it? Because surely a good deal of the argument which he is now making will be vitiated by the fact that the only privilege he is really claiming, whatever gloss he puts upon it, it one for those who can afford to pay for their children's education.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I do not know what the hon. Member means. I made certain points about public schools some time ago and my argument now is quite a different one, which has nothing to do with income.

Photo of Mr William Williams Mr William Williams , Droylsden

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will permit me to say something more. He is now saying—and he is speaking particularly of Wales—that it is the case in Wales that too many people go to the grammar schools, or that it is said that too many people—

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

No, I said the opposite.

Photo of Mr William Williams Mr William Williams , Droylsden

—go to the grammar schools. I merely said—whether that be true or not—that in Wales the children of poor parents can go to grammar schools to get a training in the humanities of a kind which they cannot get in England, or in most parts of England, unless their parents can afford to send them to the public schools. Is the hon. Member for Devizes suggesting that that is fair either in the sight of God or man—

Photo of Mr William Williams Mr William Williams , Droylsden

—or that there is any justice in that privilege being reserved for children in England who go to public schools without having any particular merit of their own?

Photo of Dr Hyacinth Morgan Dr Hyacinth Morgan , Warrington

Do not be too hard on the poor chap, he does not know anything at all about it.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I do not think I can follow what the hon. Member for Hammersmith, South (Mr. W. T. Williams) is saying about those people in Wales who rejoice in a grammar school education and that no one in England could get a similar education without going to a public school. I do not follow that at all. But so far as they do get a similar education, and so far as it be true that in Wales the people at large are willing to pay a higher education rate than people in some other counties, that is a wholly good and admirable thing on the part of the people of Wales. But how it has anything to do with the other people not being educated unless they are rich I cannot imagine.

7.51 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

We have listened with attention to the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) because we know that he has shown a sincere interest in education over a great number of years; but I am bound to say that tonight he was rather less clear than usual. In fact, I would say that it is rarely that one hears such a hotchpotch of ideas in so short a time. I will not try to disentangle some of the things he has put forward, but I will content myself with a couple of observations. Listening to the hon. Member, it seemed to me that to get a good education one should choose the right parents, who should be rich and of a high intellectual standard. If one could not manage that then one should at least choose parents who lived in Wales.

The whole of the argument of the hon. Member for Devizes based on the influence of heredity and was, I think, quite unfounded; because it so happens that high parental academic ability usually goes with a favourable environment. I do not think that any statistics showing how many sons of university dons achieve high academic honours could be based on the heredity factor alone, because these two factors go together. There are plenty of statistics of the opposite kind which show how the children of labourers have gone to universities and secured first-class honours degrees. But, in the interests of brevity, I feel sure that the hon. Member for Devizes will forgive me if I do not pursue his speech any further.

The outstanding problem in education today, in my opinion, is to attain a reduction in the size of classes. Obviously, that cannot be done without the provision of more buildings and teachers. With that, and as a first priority, I would put the elimination of the worst buildings, the very disgraceful buildings, which still exist in some parts of the country. I will not attempt now to illustrate how these things can be done, because already we have had a number of speeches on the subject, including a notable contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). I wish to deal at length with some university problems. When we are trying to solve these short-term problems, which are becoming increasingly pressing as the bulge in the school population is moving into the secondary schools, it is as well that we should seriously consider the organisation of secondary schools.

For that reason I am glad that the argument for comprehensive schools has been ventilated during this debate. I regret that in exercising her powers of direction, the Minister interfered with the proper development of the Kidbrooke School. Hon. Members opposite have revealed in their speeches that they do not understand what is meant by a comprehensive school. It is impossible for an experimental comprehensive school to have a fair chance unless it contains the whole range of I.Q.s and interests and aptitudes which are essential if the experiment is to be given a fair test.

I do not dispute that the right hon. Lady has the power to intervene. I Hold that education should be a partnership between local authorities and the Ministry, and that the views of local authorities should be given the greatest consideration. At the same time, I would say that the Minister is the senior partner because, by virtue of Parliamentary grant, most of the money comes from the central Government. But I think it unfortunate that on the only occasions on which she has intervened, the right hon. Lady has done so in a reactionary rather than in a progressive manner.

One matter to which we should all like to see her give some thought, and about which she might exercise her powers, is the problem of what is commonly called the test at 11; the method of the selection of children for the various channels and streams in the educational system. Although a comprehensive school would, to a large extent, do away with the need for such an examination, even were the right hon. Lady more favourably inclined towards comprehensive schools, we could not transform the whole system within a number of years; and, therefore, some system of sorting out the children must remain with us for a long time.

I have no quarrel with the examination system. As a matter of fact, I think that I have been much more successful in examinations than I 'probably deserved to be.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

That is probably an argument against them.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

As my hon. Friend says, that is probably an argument against the examination system rather than something in its favour. But I mention it to show that I have no personal sense of frustration because I was unfortunate in examinations.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. Friend says that he has no quarrel with the examination system, because in his judgment, and in his own case, he did better than he thought he ought to have done. Is not that in itself a criticism which finds favour with most people; that the whole examination system proves how well a child does on a particular occasion, but is no safe guide to the ability or the attainments of the child?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I am obliged to my hon. Friend, who has made my next point for me. I made the personal reference to indicate that I had no personal—I used the word "personal" deliberately—objection to examinations. But the examination system is open precisely to the objection which my hon. Friend voiced so much better than I could have done.

As the House will know, generally speaking there is quite serious concern among parents about the outcome of this test. It is clear that this is primarily a local authority responsibility and not one for the Minister. But I think that local authorities should be encouraged to find a way—some authorities have already gone some distance in this direction—to avoid the idea that the whole future of a child depends on its performance in a particular examination on a particular day.

It would appear to me possible, by the keeping of proper primary school records, for the records and reports of headmasters and headmistresses to be taken into account. My own local authority in Sheffield organises sample tests in order to give the children the psychological advantage of taking one or two trial tests. I think that it is possible for these tests to be taken into account to remove the fear that the whole future of a child may depend on its performance on a particular date.

It is true, of course, that no matter how one organises the educational system, even within a comprehensive school, there must be some form of selection. While I believe that much more weight should be given to reports and records, I feel that there should also be some objective test of the kind which is now given. Otherwise, the door is open to the exercise of certain pressures upon teachers and there may be fear, probably unfounded, about teachers being prejudiced against certain children. It is a very difficult matter, but I feel that a lot can be done to allay public suspicion and, equally important, very largely to remove the pent-up feeling some months before an examination takes place, which results in great strain on both children and parents. I hope that the Minister will have something to say about this.

I now wish to turn to the subject of selection for university grants and scholarships. The Minister has been good enough to supply me from time to time with facts and figures about this matter. Although there are both university college scholarships and State scholarships, about 40 per cent. of all the students at universities depend upon local education authority grants or awards. There are great discrepancies in the numbers of grants given by local education authorities and in the amounts given to students going to the same college or university.

I admit that there has been a big increase—I am glad to say this, because it is a matter which I have raised previously—in the number of local authorities which have accepted the Minister's scale. The majority of local authorities now pay grants according to the Minister's recommended scale, although, to say the least, it is on the modest side.

There is in particular, the great problem about vacation payments. I have no objection, and I am sure that most hon. Members have no objection, to university students working during vacations—it is probably beneficial educationally as well as of assistance financially—but there is all the difference between earning a little money and the financial anxiety which goes with having to earn full wages during vacations in order to be able to remain at a university. I hope the Minister will consider the possibility of making more satisfactory arrangements for vacation grants for both university and teacher-training students.

One of the consequences of the fact that local education authorities are observing the amounts of the Minister's scale is that many of them are reducing the number of awards which they give. It is not unfair to say that today one's chance of going to a university depends as much upon having a rich parent or a parent who has chosen his residence wisely as it does upon the inherent ability of the child.

I will illustrate that by giving some figures. I do not want to make too much of them because I realise that their bases are not always comparable; for instance, they depend upon the number of home students and the number of students going to Oxford and Cambridge. In 1951–52 the average award made by Bury was £96 compared with £276 by the City of Gloucester. The number of awards per 10,000 population in the same academic year varied from 1·51 in Leeds to 20·46 in Cardiganshire. Leeds spent 5¾d. per head of the population upon university education in that period compared with 7s. 5d. per head in Carmarthenshire.

I am sorry to make a special point about Leeds in view of the very great interest in this subject of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). However, I believe it is fair to make a comparison between Leeds and Sheffield. Sheffield has a slightly larger population than Leeds, and, of course, we claim to be a much superior city. Each has a university and each has a population of about 500,000. Yet in 1952–53 Leeds spent £32,600 on grants for university and non-university purposes, whereas Sheffield spent £96,000, three times as much. By looking at the statistics, one could produce many more anomalies of this sort.

Does not the Minister consider it time to reduce the number of local education authority awards or perhaps to abolish them altogether and substitute State scholarships to be granted on the basis of ability and not the accident of geography?

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

I am very glad that my hon. Friend has quoted the position in some of the counties of Wales. However, is not the position that some very wealthy local education authorities are very little interested in education? Would not the suggestion that my hon. Friend is now making do a great deal of harm to progressive local education authorities? I would point out with a great deal of pride that my own local education authority insists upon spending all it possibly can in educating children.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I was talking only about university scholarships. It should also be realised that the authorities which are generous are generous with the taxpayers' money also because 60 per cent. of the cost comes from the central Exchequer. I agree that any system of this kind should leave local authorities the option to supplement State scholarships if they so desire.

With regard to grants to teachers, I believe that the Minister recognises that the dual system of having a grant from the Ministry and another grant from the local authority is unsatisfactory. There is evidence to show that many students at teacher-training colleges are suffering considerable hardship. There have been prosecutions for theft, and so on, to which I am sure the Minister's attention has been drawn.

The Principal of the Sheffield Training College has suggested that a minimum of £90 per year is desirable for incidental expenses. The National Union of Students has suggested £75 to cover all items apart from tuition and board at the college during term—travelling, books, clothing, sports equipment, theatres, cigarettes, and the rest. The Union figure represents 30s. per week; the average now paid by local education authorities is £30 per year, a little over 10s. per week to meet all items outside tuition and board at the college.

The difficulties which are being experienced are likely to be reflected in the quality of those who will be going to the teacher-training colleges and will, therefore, have an indirect effect on the future of education itself. As the 1944 Act continues to operate and more of the better children go to universities and become graduates, that aspect of the teaching profession should also be given further study.

I wanted to say a word about the problem of the technical colleges, but in view of the late hour I will content myself with an observation or two about the universities. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has spent a good deal of time here, it would be a pity if someone did not speak about the field for which there is Treasury responsibility.

I think it is a matter for congratulation that the Barlow Committee's recommendation, in 1946, that the number of science and technical students should be doubled has been achieved, but I feel that there is still a great need for an expansion of university students in the directions of science and technology. At present, roughly 20 per cent. are science students and 12 per cent. students of technology, while other students have remained at about the same percentage—43 per cent.—as was the case before the war, when it was 44·8 per cent.

Since it is not possible, in my judgment, rapidly to expand the number of students at the universities, and, at the same time, to obtain a more favourable percentage of those studying science, this question should be given priority, and if the Minister were to adopt the system which I have suggested of giving State scholarships, rather than leaving it to the local education authorities to provide awards, the awarding of State scholarships might actually be used as a means of getting a better balance between the various faculties in the universities.

I suggest it would be wrong to place the responsibility solely on the university or university college concerned for making the awards. It is, in my judgment, desirable that there should be a minimum standard or objective test also. There are backdoors even into Oxford and Cambridge.

I should like to plead with the Government to give rather more thought to university education than has been given so far. Many aspects of university life have been investigated, and we have had a number of reports, including that from the Select Committee on Estimates in 1952, which examined the financial aspects and the Barlow Committee on Scientific Manpower and committees on medical schools and dentistry, but nobody has so far been charged with the responsibility of having a look at the role of the university in present day society. It is quite clear that the function and position of the universities today is quite different from what it was before the war, and, while we want to retain the independence of the universities, it is quite clear from every report which we read that we must get a larger number of highly qualified scientists and technicians. Certain recommendations were made in this direction quite recently.

I would suggest to the right hon. Lady that she should suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, since the Government are very fond of committees and commissions, there is a lot to be said for having a Royal Commission to have a look at the role of the universities and the whole problem of university education. I suggest that such a Commission should have very wide terms of reference, and if I may suggest one or two, I think the Commission might consider the problem of retaining the independence of the universities while they are increasingly dependent, directly and indirectly, on Parliament grants, and ensure that the money is well spent.

Roughly speaking, the universities receive between £25 and £30 million a year, which is likely to increase, and another £6 or £7 million indirectly from fees from public funds. I believe that the money is well spent, but this House should have the satisfaction of seeing that the money which it is providing is being properly spent.

Next, there is the question of the provision of facilities for a proper balance between the faculties, and, particularly, the preference of the students for Oxford and Cambridge or London Universities. I think it will be found that Oxford and Cambridge come first, with London University second and any provincial university a poor third, and I think that some attention should be paid to the size of the university population.

More attention should be paid to what happens to university students when they leave their university. Most universities have appointments boards, but I am not quite sure that they devote the same amount of thought and care in placing their students in employment as do the colleges themselves in selecting students for entry to the universities. It seems to me that, while a great deal of time is spent in trying to get the best students into the universities, very much less time is given to placing these people in employment or in advising them how to obtain the maximum advantage from their university education, and I therefore hope that the Minister will be able to impart some of these suggestions to her right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

It is perhaps unfortunate—and a reflection on what the right hon. Lady has done—that it is difficult to see that she has done very much, if anything at all, to further the idea of equal educational opportunity or which we all hoped so much when the 1944 Act was passed. It is quite possible that it is not really all her fault. I think she has been tied down in the Government in that she has not been allowed as much money as she would have liked for her purpose. While she has not provided that greater educational opportunity, perhaps this has saved her from pressure on the part of the 1922 Committee, and thus she has been given a longer term of office than would otherwise have been the case. Yet I can assure her that the educational record of this Government is not such as will commend it to the country when the time of reckoning comes.

8.17 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I hope that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) will forgive me if I do not follow him in everything he said, though there are one or two points which I should like to take up from his speech, with a large part of which I agree. Unfortunately, at the end of his speech the hon. Gentleman made a cheap gibe about the 1922 Committee, which has nothing to do with the matter at all. May I point out to him that the committees on this side of the House are concerned about education just as much as any committee on that side of the House, and possibly more?

In regard to the independence of the universities, the hon. Member said that he did not want Government control, and yet proceeded to set out a large number of suggestions which would mean that the universities were being run by a Government Department. I am sure that he will agree with me when I say that the universities must be entirely free of Government, Ministers and Departments, and be able to pursue their own educational studies in their own way.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I am sorry, but I cannot give way. I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but he spoke for a long time, and I have only six or seven minutes.

I should also like to say something on another point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. He also spoke on the relations between the education authorities and the Minister, which has been the theme of many of the speeches today, but that leaves out the most important people in the whole matter—the parents. They are the people, who far more than any Minister or teacher, or even any politician, can influence a child's character and to a certain extent its knowledge. Given the fact that the child is capable of assimilating education, we must remember that of the money spent on that child a large proportion is wasted, and therefore we have to consider the views of the parents on the question of education even before those of the teacher, and certainly before those of the Minister. That is why I welcome the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) that there should be some form of assistance for parents who make great personal sacrifices to provide for their own children's education and thereby save the country a certain amount of expense.

I was sorry that the hon. Member for lichen (Mr. Morley) made an attack upon one of my hon. Friends for having brought to the notice of the House the fact that at a certain school the headmaster is a member of the Communist Party. When people cannot come to this House and explain matters which they think should be brought to the attention of the public, the days of this House are numbered. It was perfectly right that my hon. Friend should do so. He might be criticised for doing it, but he was performing a public duty.

Photo of Sir Frederick Messer Sir Frederick Messer , Tottenham

He did not give the whole story.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

A very large number of people in this country would be shocked to hear that active Communists are, in fact, teaching the young children of this country.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

That is a matter which must shock a large number of parents, especially of children of tender years.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

What about active Tories teaching children?

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that interruption. I will use the few minutes that are left to me to show its fallacy. I believe that, on the whole, Tory views put the welfare of the country first. We know that Communists do nothing of the sort. Their views are not political views but treacherous views, and we do not want our children taught by traitors.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

The biggest educational menace is the Tory, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows it very well.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

If the hon. Gentleman interrupts much more I shall be unable to sit down in time, and he will then get into trouble with his own Front Bench.

The Government of the day, whatever its political colour, must look after education, which is one of the very important social services; but the first social service that any Government owe to their people is to keep them alive and free. If they do not do that, the other questions just do not arise. In allocating the amount of money that can be spent upon additional social services it is not always possible to give everybody everything he wants. We are engaged upon the task, under the 1944 Act, of rebuilding and improving the educational system. That is not a matter which can be done by one Government or by two Governments in a short time. It will certainly be a generation before it can be finished.

The present Government can well be proud of their trusteeship of the educational system during the three short years in which they have been in power. I have no time now t o give the full figures, but I would refer to Circular 242, which has already been mentioned. It was brought out at a time when, because of the activities and the mistakes of the late Government, we were in a financial crisis and everything had to be looked at from the financial point of view. Since then, conditions have very much improved. Now, the Education Estimates, together with the local authority rate-borne charge for education, are more than £244 million for 1954–55 whereas for 1951–52 they were only just £200 million. Nobody can truthfully say that we have not spent on education the full amount that could possibly be spent, and far more than any other Government.

In 1953, 250,000 new primary and secondary school-places were provided in England and Wales, or twice as many as in 1950. There may be overcrowding, because of the so-called "bulge" in the number of school children—I do not know why it should be called a "bulge." To say "an increase in numbers" would be much better English and would say just what we mean. The increase in the number of teachers averages 6,000. We therefore have not only more children but more teachers as well.

Unfortunately, time does not permit of my speaking fully about comprehensive schools. I am certainly not in favour of abolishing grammar schools in order to put in their place comprehensive schools which are, at best, an experiment. I am against them, because they are too big. We do not want young children to be taught in big establishments of about 2,000 scholars. Reference has been made to Eton College as being a comprehensive school, but the position is completely different because boys at Eton are in houses of about 30 or 40 scholars each, whereas in the comprehensive schools the children are all together in the same building.

The Government may well be proud of their record in education. The political attack which has been made on the Minister today will rebound on those who made it, and it ought never to have been made. We ought to keep education out of politics just in the same way as we ought to keep politics out of education.

8.26 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I do not intend to keep politics out of education or education out of politics. The training of future citizens is the most important task that the present generation can undertake, and if that were outside politics I would lose all my interest in politics. I therefore hope that the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) will understand that we come to this place to express contrary views on subjects on which we honestly differ. My views on the organisation and practice of education are, and always have been, fundamentally different from those of hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches.

Therefore, knowing that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) is by no means a non-political figure in London, I was a bit surprised that he found the robust, vigorous and well-informed speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) to be something that ought to he criticised as "political." I enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend, and I am hoping to hear the answer to it eventually. This has been a most surprising debate on Report of Supply. We have the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary sitting opposite to us, and the only words we shall get from the Government will be made too late for any reply to be offered to them.

I do not know how much longer the Parliamentary Secretary intends to submit to the successive humiliations that are imposed upon him. He must have realised from the response that he got last Thursday afternoon when he rose to answer at Question time how anxious we always are to hear what he has to say. It is a great pity that we should be precluded from hearing him this evening, because I am quite certain that if the Minister did not give the case away, he would.

We have had a very interesting and vigorous debate, and the contributions made from both sides of the House have, I think, been well in keeping with the importance of the subject which we are discussing. If I refer first to the speeches made from this side of the House, it is because I find myself in complete agreement with everything that has been said in them, and because I only want to emphasise one or two points in the hope that the Minister will reply to them.

We still want to know why the Minister went to a meeting and told the people attending it to organise a petition so that she could turn down the Kidbrooke School. After all, the Minister has to exercise a judicial function in the matter, and it is news to me, as a mere country "beak"—you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, having been a Metropolitan magistrate may know this; things may differ in the Metropolis—that the person who has to exercise the judicial function should suggest to one side or the other the way in which they are to conduct their case and the points that will appeal to the person who has to exercise the final decision.

It was quite clear from that moment that the Kidbrooke School as proposed by the London County Council was dead. After all, what happened afterwards must have been expected from that moment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) make, as he always does, a most interesting speech on the subject of technical education. Of course, technical education has always done badly in this country. A book written by a gentleman who was a member of the staff of the old Board of Education for a good many years, Mr. G. A. N. Lowndes, tells us that: Members of the staff transferred from the Charity Commission to the Board of Education to deal with secondary schools, used to recall the saying in pre-Board of Education days that the secondary schools are administered by gentlemen for gentlemen, the elementary school by men for men, but technical schools by cads for cads. May I say, as one whose memories go back to that time, that it is not an inapt description of the attitude of the central Government towards technical education at that time. Let us make no mistake about it, the actions of the present Government are, to the limited extent that they have moved, a confirmation of what I am going to say.

Unless we improve the quality of our technical education and the number of students who participate in it, and give it an appropriate place in the education firmament, this country is doomed. We have to live by the creative genius of our designers and by the skill of our craftsmen. Greek poems do not rank very high in the export market, and the man who wants to write Greek poems, if he wants to live in this country, will only do so because other men design, get, make and carry goods. There must be no doubt about that when we get down to the ultimate things of life and for as long as we can foresee, it will be the success of our technical education that will determine our standard of life. Therefore, I am very glad that my hon. Friend dealt with the subject as he did.

I particularly want to emphasise what my hon. Friend said about technical instruction in grammar schools. It is quite wrong to think that in our great industries we want the second-best brains. Not merely in management but on the practical side of industry we want the best brains that can apply themselves to the practical problems that are involved in the carrying on and improvement of our historic industrial processes. That is the real answer to one of the points put by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. John Eden). Unfortunately, even people who are born with silver spoons in their mouths will find that unless our best brains regard technical things as not below their notice there will be nothing to put in the silver spoons and they will choke those having them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said a thing with which I profoundly agree. He said that the comprehensive school is the only hope in the near future for the lower middle classes being able to get the types of education in the sufficient variety which they require. I shall come hack to the comprehensive school later.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) appears to have had a highly successful professional career, for he told us that if any of his pupils had ever been unhappy he, also, would be unhappy.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

And so was I very often—but perhaps, an act of oblivion has been passed over the worst excesses by our ex-pupils. I am bound to say that when I first taught I had a class of 73—and never had a class of fewer than 55—I did very well when I did not make everyone unhappy every day.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) dealt with some of the problems relating to the universities. I am sorry that the Financial Secretary was not here at the time. I would ask him to read very carefully my hon. Friend's remarks. He will find that my hon. Friend made a good many practical suggestions that were not, I think, very controversial but which ought to be brought to the notice of the University Grants Committee. If they can be acted upon I am quite certain that the contact of the universities with the ordinary life of the country will be very greatly improved.

I would ask the right hon. Lady to pay particular attention to what my hon. Friend had to say about grants to persons in training colleges. I know from my own personal correspondence and my contacts with son-le of the young people there that at the moment very acute financial pressure is being felt by some of the students.

We have spent a good deal of time this afternoon in dealing one side and the other with the comprehensive school. I am quite sure that many of the anxieties that are being felt now, especially among the parents of the children in the primary and all-age schools, arise almost entirely from their belief that the Education Act, 1944, has misfired.

What was the aim of the Education Act, 1944? In 1943, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer issued Command Paper 6458, and I want to read an essential paragraph in it, for this was the White Paper on which the debate in 1943 took place before the Bill was introduced. It deals with this problem of the age of 11, and it says: More serious still is the effect on the junior schools and on their pupils of the arrangements for transition from the junior schools to the various types of post-primary education. At the age of 11 the children sit for an examination on the results of which depends the nature of their further full-time schooling. The most successful—amounting to only about 9·5 per cent.—proceed to secondary schools, while the remainder, with the exception of a few who go to junior technical schools, receive the rest of their full-time education, either in separate schools for senior pupils, or in the upper classes of the old-age schools to which they already belong.There is nothing to be said in favour of a system which subjects children at the age of 11 to the strain of a competitive examination on which, not only their future schooling, but their future careers may depend. Apart from the effect on the children, there is the effect on the curriculum of the schools themselves. Instead of the junior schools performing their proper and highly important function of fostering the potentialities of children at an age when their minds are nimble and receptive, their curiosity strong, their imagination fertile and their spirits high, the curriculum is too often cramped and distorted by over-emphasis on examination subjects and on ways and means of defeating the examiners. The blame for this rests not with the teachers but with the system. The avowed object of the 1944 Act was to destroy that system. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the debate on that White Paper in 1943, said: The Government now propose a radical reconstruction of the whole scheme. We propose that the system shall be so reorganised that over 11 years of age secondary opportunities of varying types shall be offered to ad pupils according to their aptitude, and, if the choice at 11 is not satisfactory, there shall be a re-sorting up to the age of 13. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say: Moreover, hanging over the whole of the junior world is the special-place examination, which we propose to do away with, so that in future a child may be selected according to its talent for the various different types and choices of secondary education which I propose to describe. The poor parent gets very little consideration in our education"— I commend this to the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East— and it is suggested that, although we shall not give way to the parents' belief that they think they know everything about their children and think they are the best children in the world…we shall try to bring them in to making the choice for the secondary opportunities which we propose to give to the children after the opinion of the teacher has been given."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1943; Vol. 391, c. 1827–28.] I must say, as one who was not unconcerned with the Bill at that stage, that my feeling of frustration at the failure to implement that clear indication of the feeling of the whole House 11 years ago, gives me more disappointment than anything else that I have known in the whole of my public life.

Photo of Sir Archer Baldwin Sir Archer Baldwin , Leominster

The right hon. Gentleman's party had five years in which to carry that out. Why did not they do so?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

We got on with it. My objection is that—as was made clear by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon—the reorganisation of rural schools was deliberately stopped by the Minister, according to the circular which my hon. Friend read out. Reasonable development has been stopped.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

It is the denial of the 1944 Act.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I feel very strongly about it for this reason: I sat for this examination as long ago as 1895. In the whole county of Surrey only 64 candidates presented themselves for examination, and 32 scholarships were available. I passed No. 32 on the list—three marks ahead of No. 33, who has led an honest life ever since. In the year in which the Education Act was passed 900 places were available in the secondary schools of Surrey. That seems a great advance on 32 places, but there were 9,000 candidates instead of 64.

In 1895 I landed an even money chance. In the year in which the Education Act was passed the candidates had to land odds of 9 to 1 against to get into the winning section. If I had taken the examination in that year I should have had a very good view of the race from Tattenham Corner, when the winners were going past the post.

The ambitions of parents and the needs of the nation convince me that people at least as low down on the I.Q. test—and any other test one likes to mention—as I should be today ought to be among the winners, as I was in 1895. Although it may be presumption on my part, I think that we draw the line a great deal too high, at the moment, and when we have drawn the line we condemn those above it to too narrow a curriculum. Unlike the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, who deplored the tendency to make use of aptitude tests, I think that the chief job of the educator is to deal with those tests. He cannot alter ability, but he can improve aptitude, and also prevent one aptitude from running away with a whole personality and leaving it improperly developed.

I hope that the Minister will soon agree to the completion of the reorganisation of rural schools. She must have been impressed, as I was, by the speeches made by the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) about the problem of rural parents. I do not know what experience the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) has had in this matter, but mine is that when a farmworker is about to seek a new job he is very often told by his wife to ask where the school is situated in relation to the place where he will have to work, and what that school is like.

Photo of Sir Archer Baldwin Sir Archer Baldwin , Leominster

I entirely endorse all that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd). In fact, if I had been called in the debate, I should have mentioned that my county comes fourth on the black list.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I am very glad to have given the hon. Member the opportunity of reinforcing the case.

I would ask the right hon. Lady to realise the altered outlook of the agricultural community on education, an alteration in outlook that has occurred during the last 20 years. There was a time when those of us who were keen on education regarded the farmers—not unnaturally, in some counties—as our strongest opponents; the mechanisation of agriculture and the ambitions of the workers' wives have altered that position. I very sincerely hope that the right hon. Lady will pay attention to the demands that have been made.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West alleged that there was a head teacher, whom he named, and whom I know—

Photo of Sir Frederick Messer Sir Frederick Messer , Tottenham

He was a President of the N.U.T.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

He was the principal supporter in the N.U.T. of the 1944 Act. He was President when the Measure went through, and on more than one occasion I have heard him reprove other members for being lukewarm in their support of it. I want to make this quite clear. What we objected to in what the hon. Member said was this, that this man used his position inside the school to influence the minds of children in the school. That particular issue was examined by the Middlesex County Council

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

—and it found that the accusation was unfounded. When one looks at the deplorable state of the schools in the United States at the present time, and even of some of the universities, one perceives that it will be a bad day for this country if ever we apply a political test to a teacher and put him under any penalty at all for holding any views unless he tries to influence the children in his school in that direction.

As one who regards the Tory Party as a greater menace than the Communist Party in this country I want to make it quite clear—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] In this country the Communist Party is only a figure of fun, because we have been wise enough not to persecute it. I want to make it quite clear that if any Tory teacher or Socialist teacher used his position to influence the children in the school in forming their political views from a party point of view I should regard him as being an unsuitable person to teach.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I am sure there is one thing the right hon. Gentleman would wish to make clear. He may wish to qualify his statement. He is on record, as I understand, as having said that he regards the Communist Party with less seriousness than he regards the Conservative.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would clear up the point. The Conservative Party is the party from which Her Majesty's present Government are drawn, and the Communist Party, on the other hand, is something which most people in this country, very rightly, seriously suspect.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I hope I said that I regard the Tory Party as a bigger danger than the Communist Party. I was brought up from my earliest days to believe that there was no greater danger to this country than a prolonged period of Tory Party rule. I shall go on believing that.

There is one final thing which I wish to say. There is a great deal of frustration in the country, and no small part of it is due to the attitude which the right hon. Lady adopts towards the local education authorities. What she has recently done in Northamptonshire appears to me to be quite indefensible. Twice the Northamptonshire County Council have put at the head of their list a school at a place called Guilsborough in the constituency of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), and my hon. and learned Friend and the Solicitor-General asked her, I understand, to receive the Northamptonshire Education Committee in order to discuss with her the reasons for eliminating that school in two successive years from the list.

Her reply to my hon. and learned Friend, which I have seen, was to the effect that she did not discuss building programmes; that was a matter for the officials. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I want to read to the right hon. Lady and to the House a letter which I received from the Clerk of the Northamptonshire County Council. He states: What my Council are bitterly fighting is the unwarranted and arrogant assumption by the Minister's officers that they know better than the Education Committee which are the most urgent and most important educational building projects required in this County. For two consecutive years this Guilsborough school has been given first priority in the programme submitted by my Committee and for two years some official at the Ministry—assuming that the Minister herself does not see the programme—has taken it upon himself to delete this project in favour of others which my Committee had placed at the bottom of the list. As one who has spent 35 years on a local education authority, I think that if, in two successive years part of our programme had been deleted and we had asked to see the Minister I should have regarded it as a great affront to a great local governing body like a county council if the Minister had decided not to see us. This spirit of frustration is at large today because people feel that there is no desire on the part of the Minister to see this service grow, and if they find that local feeling is ignored, they believe that she just does not care what happens.

I sincerely hope that in any reshuffling of the Government which is to take place, both Ministers in this Department will not be found in their present posts after the reshuffle.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

On a point of order. I understood that I was the only Member on my feet, and I thought that I had the Floor, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I had called Miss Horsbrugh before the hon. Member rose.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I have, as the House will realise, a great many questions on a great many different topics to answer, and I shall do my best to deal with them all as quickly as I can. I can only speak until 9.30. When we considered the speakers for the debate, and I realised that it had to stop at 9.30 and also that we were to be interrupted at 7 o'clock, I thought that it was better, in view of the complaints last year that so few back benchers have been able to speak, that there should be only one speaker from the Government Front Bench. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was available to answer any questions about finance if they had been asked.

On the occasion of our last debate, I thought it best to have only one Government speaker so that there might be more time for others, and on that occasion my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made the speech; so we have taken it in turns. Perhaps the best plan is to deal with the various questions which have been asked and not to go through the debate commenting on each speech.

The first point raised by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) was about the building programme. She asked whether we were building enough schools, whether we were building more schools and whether we were building them more slowly or more quickly. I do not want to go through all the figures again, but I would say that there has been more educational building work done in each year since I took office than was done before. There has been more building work done on primary and secondary schools. If necessary, I can give the figures.

On primary and secondary schools alone, in 1949, £21·3 million were spent; in 1950, £35·8 million were spent and in 1951 the figure was £35·5 million. It went down that year after the crisis of 1949. Figures for the next three years are: 1952, £36·4 million; 1953, £40·3 million; and done or to be done in 1954, £40·7 million. If we take educational building as a whole the figures are: 1949, £38 million; 1950, £49·7 million, and 1951, £48·3 million. [HON. MEMBERS: "But money has lost its value."] All these figures are on 1951 prices.

In 1951, the figure was £48·3 million and in 1952, the year when I was told that we had cut building, the figure went up to £50·1 million. That was work done. In 1953 it was £54·3 million, and in 1954 we hope to spend £55·1 million.

Photo of Miss Alice Bacon Miss Alice Bacon , Leeds North East

Classes are getting bigger.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I will come to that. I have not very long in which to speak, but if I am not interrupted I will answer every question that has been put.

We are putting the emphasis on the secondary schools and away from the primary schools. In June of this year the number of primary school places under construction was 143,940—a decrease of 22·4 per cent. In secondary school places, there was an increase of 20·1 per cent. The amount being done is more, but gradually the emphasis is being put on secondary school places.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

And 100 fewer schools were started.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

If the hon. Gentleman will let me continue, I think that I can give most of the facts which hon. Members have asked for. We are doing more school building and more educational building than has ever been done before. I think that we have got the work better organised, and schools are being built more quickly. The work on some was taking up to four years in the earlier days, and my predecessor, the late Mr. George Tomlinson, pointed out in Birmingham in 1950 that they were taking too long and were too expensive.

There has been a progressive improvement. Perhaps I might put the cost in this way. For £1 million in 1949 there were provided 2,800 secondary school places. There has been an improvement, gradual at first but better later, and now for £1 million instead of 2,800 places we get about 4,000.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I have made this point clear; my predecessor, the late Mr. George Tomlinson, said in 1950 that they were taking too long.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Credit is due to him.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I think the hon. Member will agree that I have pointed that out—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have pointed out that gradually architects and those interested in schools and local authorities have all got together to speed up the building of schools. I think they have done a very good job.

At present, for primary school building, we have under construction places for 185,000. That is to cope with the further increase of 80,000 which will be coming into the primary schools. I give these figures to show the House that it is not merely the number of children we have to cope with, but the distribution of the population. We have to see that there are more places than the actual number of children, because we shall have empty places in some cases in the towns where people have moved out to new housing estates. There extra schools have to be provided. In the same way with the programme we now have for the secondary schools, I am convinced, that what is planned now will be sufficient for the extra children as they come into the secondary schools.

The next subject is the right type of secondary school. Several hon. Members have pointed out that in some cases there are not enough grammar school places, and in some cases it has been suggested there may be either too many or a great many more than are required. It is difficult to get a really good view of this situation for the following reasons. In certain areas few children are going to maintained or assisted grammar schools, but they may be going to direct-grant grammar schools, or to independent schools, and there have been extensions of existing secondary schools. We have the provision of selective places in secondary technical and modern schools, in other words where the technical stream or grammar stream is added to an existing school. At present 54 local education authorities are building grammar schools. We are watching and discussing with them whether we should increase the number of grammar schools, technical schools, or modern schools.

I now come to the subject of rural reorganisation. A great deal has been said about Circular 245. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) read out parts of that circular and he read them out quite correctly.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

We noticed how he read it—as some people have not read it in the past—that that particular policy must "still" be carried on. The word "still" is perfectly correct. Why should it be there? It is because I was carrying on the policy laid down by the Labour Government

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

That does not excuse it.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

—I think quite rightly. It was laid down in December, 1947, in Circular 155: Since 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. The policy was laid down that building should be done in order to get the extra number of children into the schools, and that there should not be building either for decrowding or reorganisation. At a later date that was again confirmed.

I can tell the House that when I went to the Ministry and saw this, I should have liked to change that policy. I should have liked to make other suggestions, but I came to the conclusion that the policy laid down by my predecessor was right, and that if we changed that policy we should have to change something else— the compulsory school age of from five to 15. We should have had to do so because we should not have had sufficient schools built to get the children in. Hon. Members may check that as much as they like, but these are the facts, that unless we keep that priority—I am coming to some other points about reorganisation in a moment—all children would not be in school.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

Dr. Alexander says—

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I am not bothering with what Dr. Alexander says.

I have always claimed that reorganisation would be a by-product of our building of new secondary schools, and I think that is being proved to be so. I have already said that the main emphasis is now going into the building of secondary schools, and, as that emphasis goes on, I think we shall see that reorganisation is a by-product continuing—

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

Would the right hon. Lady—

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

No. The number of 13 and 14 year-old children in all-age schools has declined from 16·9 per cent. in January, 1951, to 14–3 per cent. in January, 1953. In 10 typical rural counties I have programmed since taking office more than 40 secondary modern projects, which, when completed, will enable 225 all-age schools to be reorganised. We are getting to the stage where, because of increased numbers, keeping within Circular 245, we can build new secondary modem schools large enough to take in the children from all-age schools.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

If the right hon. Lady does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I am sorry, but I wish to answer all the questions that have been put, and I have only until 9.30 p.m. to do so.

In those areas alone, the number of all-age schools was reduced—a lot of it was in my predecessor's time—by 420 between January, 1947, and January, 1953.

I have looked at the case of Berkshire, because my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) put a point with which I thoroughly agreed. I think that hon. Members know of my interest in education in rural areas and in keeping the children in their villages and giving them their education in the country areas. In fact, on many occasions in this House and outside I have been criticised for not allowing the closing of village schools. I feel it is enormously important that country children should have their education, when possible, in the country and that the small children, above all, should have it in their own villages.

I could give examples in many counties but I will deal only with Berkshire, as time presses. In 1947, there were 115 all-age schools and departments; by 1954 that number had been reduced to 59. Twenty-three schools and departments will certainly be reorganised when the new secondary schools now under construction or programmed are completed, nearly all of them in rural areas. In addition, 14 others, all but one in rural areas, will probably be reorganised when these new schools are ready.

So the schools are under construction, or in progress. I should like to see more rapid progress, but the fact is that the amount of building we are doing and our efforts to get the children into the schools and to reduce the size of classes makes it impossible to do all we should like to do at once. I would only say that between 1947 and 1955, in five local authority areas which I have picked at random the reorganisation has meant a reduction of 244 schools.

It has been said that I have cut the programmes of local authorities. Each year local authorities send in proposals for the number of schools which they woud like to build. It has been clear that we have to keep—as my predecessor did, and I think he was right, within the scheme outlined in Circular 245—[HON. MEMBERS: "Poor old George!"] I think it only fair, when I say that I think his policy was right, that I should defend him from this Box, if no one else does.

The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East gave certain examples, and I wish also to give some. How is it that some proposals sent in by local education authorities are not accepted? I will say straight away to the hon. Lady that many local authorities who are anxious to build put in for far more than they could do, even if they got the authority. Hon. Members may say, "Ah, but they would not be able to do so, because the planning authority would not pass it" But it need not of necessity be passed by the planning authority. In many cases local authorities think that if they put in a large list some may be cut out, but the bigger the list the more they will get—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]— that is a known fact. I shall give one or two examples, bearing in mind that we must keep within the terms of Circular 245.

One small county borough, where the secondary school classes were very small, asked for a programme amounting to £330,000 to enable it to rebuild two large secondary schools. Authority was not given. In those schools there were small classes and plenty of room. Another rural authority asked for approval for work amounting to £600,000. It was given a programme costing £82,000 in order to do one urgent job which was justified under the terms of Circular 245.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

Will the Minister name these authorities?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

One authority asked for a programme amounting to £1,360,000 and it got a programme of £433,000. On its past performance I am doubtful if it would have been able even to start such a building programme—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give the names."] I shall give one, but I wish to get on.

Photo of Miss Alice Bacon Miss Alice Bacon , Leeds North East

Will the right hon. Lady give the name of the authority asking for the £l million programme?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

It was Northumberland, which the hon. Lady mentioned.

As we go on with the programme—even if it is exactly on the same basis as at present with no increases whatsoever—by 1960 there will probably be accommodation for about 40 per cent. more children than were in school in 1947. A few years later there are likely to be only about 20 per cent. more children in the schools than in 1947. As the school population passes its peak, we shall—as we shall soon begin to do—have more and more empty places in certain schools; and at that time I hope that we shall be able to stop using a lot of unsatisfactory accommodation.

As for improvements and repairs, as the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East said, there are many schools which could be improved enormously. She referred to dark and dreary schools, and she was quite right. But with repainting, and similar improvements, they would be made into good schools, from the point of view both of the teachers and of the children.

What I have done is to increase the amount allocated for minor works. This year it is £5·8 million; when I took office it was a little over £3 million. Out of that amount, £2·4 million at least may be used on improvements; the rest may be needed for enlargements. Repairs are entirely a matter for local education authorities. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-Feast that there are schools which ought to be painted and would look much more cheerful if properly repaired and painted. That is the responsibility of local education authorities. I have asked Her Majesty's Inspectors to report places where repairs and upkeep are not properly attended to. I have had some reports, and have taken the matter up.

The hon. Lady said that when the Labour Government were in office the size of classes was smaller and that under the Conservative Government the size of classes has increased. What is the reason? The highest intake into the schools has occurred during the last two years; the total has been about 500,000. I am glad to say that we are now past the worst. The teachers for these children had already been recruited and trained, and we could not do anything more about it during those two years. I am not blaming those in the Labour Government who were in charge. The fact remains that the teachers who had been recruited—it takes two years to train a teacher—were taking up posts at the time that we had this enormous increase in the number of school children. At that time no one could do anything about it.

I am glad to say that the size of classes is now going down because we have increased building and recruiting. The cheerful thing this year is that we are past the worst. The effect of the increase in the number of children will now be more gradual; we experienced the peak during the last two years. The figures for school buildings and recruitment of teachers are now increasing more rapidly, and from now onwards we shall see a distinct improvement.

As the hon. Lady said, the number of oversized classes in primary schools is 3 per cent. higher than in 1950. At the same time the numbers of such classes in secondary schools is 4 per cent. lower. We knew that the last few years would be the most difficult. Now the peak in primary schools has passed. In future buildings and teachers will increase in greater measure than in the past in relation to the increase in the number of children.

Last year was a record year for recruitment of teachers, the number accepted for the training colleges being 8,360 women and 2,120 men at this time. This year acceptances for women are 8,960, so that we have beaten last year's record. It is the same in the case of the men. We now have an opportunity to get a decrease in the over-large classes. The opportunity must be granted.

I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) said; it is in the minds of all of us. What will happen next? Will the schools admit children under five and restore the pressure to what it was? I am communicating with the local authorities. I am not discussing but putting the problem to them; I believe that we all agree upon it. The regulation at present provides for 40 children in a primary school class.

What I am putting to the local education authorities is that I would not waive the regulation if a figure in excess of 40 would be brought about by the admission of children under five. Nor shall I consider that it is right to use a school hall if it is being done for the purpose of admitting children under five, and by children under five I mean children admitted at the beginning of the term at which they become five years of age. In that way, during the next term we shall see some improvement there. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the comprehensive schools?"] I can come now to the comprehensive schools and leave out the technical schools, but there was something I wanted to say on selection at 11 plus, but I shall only say that I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The experiment has been going on, and I think we are getting to the stage when there will be much more flexibility.

Now I want to say something about the comprehensive schools. It has been suggested that I will not approve comprehensive schools and that when proposals for comprehensive schools come before me I reject them. Let me give these figures. There are 21 comprehensive schools, or instalments of such schools, now under construction in England and Wales, and of these I myself have programmed and approved the plans of 18. Of the 12 under construction in London, I have programmed and approved plans of no less than 10, and the London County Council are working on plans of five more which I have included in their programme. There are eight comprehensive schools now in existence in London, 12 are under construction, five are in an approved programme, six have been approved under Section 13 but are not yet programmed, and one has been rejected.

I rejected one—the Bec School—for these reasons. It is a good school, giving good education. Parents in that area who wish to send their children to a comprehensive school will soon find that there will be three in that area—the Wands-worth area—or very nearby, and they will have a choice. Parents who do not wish to send their children there will still have the choice of the grammar school. The Bec School is a good school. I want to see experiments all the time, but I will

not agree to destroy what has been proved to be good.

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

I did not want to interrupt the right hon. Lady during her speech, but may I now ask her if she will answer one question? Will she give some priority to rural areas for secondary modern schools to meet the difficulties which have arisen in the winter in parts of Staffordshire?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

If the hon. Gentleman will look at HANSARD tomorrow, he will see what I have said about that.

It being half-past Nine o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16 (Business of Supply), to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Resolution under consideration.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 248.

Division No. 206.]AYES[9.30 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Colegate, W. A.Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Conant, Maj. Sir RogerHay, John
Alport, C. J. M.Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Cooper-Key, E. M.Heath, Edward
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Higgs, J. M. C.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CHill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Arbuthnot, JohnCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Crouch, R. F.Hirst, Geoffrey
Astor, Hon. J. J.Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Holland-Martin, C. J.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MDarling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Hollis, M. C.
Baldwin, A. E.Deedes, W. F.Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry
Banks, Col. C.Dodds-Parker, A. D.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Barlow, Sir JohnDonaldson, Cmdr. C E. McAHorobin, I. M.
Baxter, Sir BeverleyDonner, Sir P. W.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Beach, Maj. HicksDoughty, C. J. AHoward, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Drayson, G. B.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Duthie, W. S.Hurd, A. R.
Bennett, William (Woodside)Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. EHutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Birch, NigelErroll, F. J.Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Bishop, F. P.Fell, A.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Black, C. W.Finlay, GraemeIremonger, T. L.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. AFletcher-Cooke, C.Jennings, Sir Roland
Boyle, Sir EdwardFort, R.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Braine, B. R.Foster, JohnJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyFyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. HGalbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Kaberry, D.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Gammans, L. D.Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Brooman-White, R. C.Garner-Evans, E. H.Kerr, H. W.
Browne, Jack (Govan)George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G LloydLambert, Hon. G.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Glover, D.Lambton, Viscount
Bullard, D. G.Godber, J. B.Leather, E. H. C
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Gomme-Duncan, Col. ALindsay, Martin
Butcher, Sir HerbertGower, H. R.Linstead, Sir H. N.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Graham, Sir FergusLlewellyn, D. T.
Campbell, Sir DavidGrimston, Hon. James (St. Albans)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Carr, RobertGrimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Cary, Sir RobertHall, John (Wycombe)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Channon, H.Hare, Hon. J. H.Longden, Gilbert
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Low, A. R. W.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Cole, NormanHarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
McAdden, S. J.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Perkins, Sir RobertStoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Macdonald, Sir PeterPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Storey, S.
McKibbin, A. J.Peyton, J. W. W.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Pickthorn, K. W. M.Studholme, H. G.
Maclean, FitzroyPilkington, Capt. R. A.Summers, G. S.
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, Wt.)Pitman, I. J.Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Pitt, Miss E. M.Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Powell, J. EnochTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Teeling, W.
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir ReginaldPrior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Markham, Major Sir FrankRaikes, Sir VictorThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Marlowe, A. A. H.Ramsden, J. E.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Marples, A. E.Rayner, Brig. R.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Redmayne, M.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Maude, AngusRemnant, Hon. P.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Maudling, R.Renton, D. L. M.Tilney, John
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Ridsdale, J. E.Touche, Sir Gordon
Medlicott, Brig. F.Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Turner, H. F. L.
Mellor, Sir JohnRobinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)Turton, R. H.
Molson, A. H. E.Robson-Brown, W.Vane, W. M. F.
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Moore, Sir ThomasRoper, Sir HaroldVosper, D. F.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nabarro, G. D. N.Russell, R. S.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Neave, AireyRyder, Capt. R. E. D.Walker-Smith, D. C.
Nicholls, HarmarSandys, Rt. Hon. D.Wall, Major Patrick
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Nield, Basil (Chester)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Watkinson, H. A.
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Shepherd, WilliamWebbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Nugent, G. R. H.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Wellwood, W.
Nutting, AnthonySmithers, Peter (Winchester)Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Oakshott, H. D.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Odey, G. WSmyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
O'Niell, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Snadden, W. McN.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Soames, Capt. C.Wills, G.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Speir, R. MWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)Wood, Hon. R.
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Osborne, C.Stevens, GeoffreyTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Page, R. G.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Legh.
NOES
Acland, Sir RichardCraddock, George (Bradford, S.)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Adams, RichardCrosland, C. A. R.Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Albu, A. H.Grossman, R. H. S.Hale, Leslie
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Cullen, Mrs. A.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Daines, P.Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Hamilton, W. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Darling, George (Hillsborough)Hannan, W.
Awbery, S. S.Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Hargreaves, A.
Bacon, Miss AliceDavies, Harold (Leek)Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)
Balrd, J.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Hastings, S.
Balfour, A.de Freitas, GeoffreyHayman, F. H.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Deer, G.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Bartley, P.Delargy, H. J.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Dodds, N. N.Herbison, Miss M.
Benson, G.Donnelly, D. L.Hewitson, Capt. M.
Beswick, F.Driberg, T. E. N.Hobson, C. R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Holman, P.
Blackburn, F.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Holmes, Horace
Blenkinsop, A.Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Holt, A. F.
Blyton, W. R.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Houghton, Douglas
Boardman, H.Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Hoy, J. H.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Bowen, E. R.Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Bowles, F. G.Fernyhough, E.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethFienburgh, W.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Brockway, A. F.Finch, H. J.Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Foot, M. M.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Forman, J. C.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Burton, Miss F. E.Freeman, John (Watford)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Callaghan, L. J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Jeger, George (Goole)
Carmichael, J.Gibson, C. W.Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Glanville, JamesJenkins, R. H. (Stechford)
Champion, A. J.Gooch, E. G.Johnson, James (Rugby)
Chapman, W. D.Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Clunie, J.Greenwood, AnthonyJones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Coldrick, W.Grenfelt, Rt. Hon. D. R.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaGrey, C. F.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Cove, W. G.Griffiths, David (Rather Valley)Keenan, W.
Kenyon, C.Palmer, A. M. F.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Key, Rt. Hon. C. WPannell, CharlesSummerskill, Rt. Hon. E
King, Dr. H. M.Pargiter, G. A.Swingler, S. T.
Lawson, G. M.Parker J.Sylvester, G. O.
Lee, Frederick (Newton)Parkin, B. T.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Paton, J.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Peart, T. F.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Plummer, Sir LeslieThomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Lewis, ArthurPorter, GThomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Lindgren, G. S.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Thornton, E.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Tomney, F
Logan, D. GProctor, W. T.Turner-Samuels, M.
MacColl, J. E.Pryde, D. J.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
McInnes, J,Pursey, Cmdr. H.Viant, S. P.
McKay, John (Wallsend)Rankin, JohnWade, D. W.
McLeavy, F.Reeves, J.Wallace, H. W.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)Warbey, W. N.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Reid, William (Camlachie)Watkins, T. E.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Rhodes, H.Weitzman, D.
Manuel, A. C.Richards, R.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Marquand, Rt. Hon H. ARoberts, Albert (Normanton)Wells, William (Walsall)
Mason, RoyRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)West, D. G.
Mayhew, C. P.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Wheeldon, W. E.
Mellish, R. J.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Messer, Sir F.Ross, WilliamWigg, George
Mitchison, G. R.Royle, CWilcock, Group Capt. C. A B
Moody, A. S.Shackleton, E. A. A.Wilkins, W. A.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir HartleyWilley, F. T.
Morley, R.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Williams, David (Neath)
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Short, E. W.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Shurmer, P. L. E.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Mort, D. L.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Moyle, A.Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Wiilliams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Mulley, F. W.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Wilson, Rt. Hon,. Harold (Huyton)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Skeffington, A. M.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
O'Brien, T.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Oldfield, W. H.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Oliver, G. H.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Wyatt, W. L.
Orbach, M.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Yates, V. F.
Oswald, T.Sorensen, R. W.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Padley, W. E.Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Paget, R. T.Sparks, J. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Steele, T.Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.

Question put, and agreed to.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to X of the Civil Estimates and of the Revenue Departments Estimates, the Ministry of Defence Estimate, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates and the Air Estimates.