Orders of the Day — Education (Capital Projects)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd August 1965.

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Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West 12:00 am, 3rd August 1965

The hon. Gentleman was not in office last year. Look at the graphs. They show that the average increase in productivity over the years was about 3 per cent.—nothing like 4 per cent., and there was no prospect of 4 per cent. This prospectus was false.

For hon. Gentlemen opposite to talk about promises is a little invidious, especially when the hon. Member began the debate by referring to the Robbins Report. Everyone knows that the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) accepted that Report within 48 hours of publication. He mentioned the strictures of the Estimates Committee on the present programme of building—that it was "inadequate". This is not an indictment of my right hon. Friend but an indictment of the Tory Government. What was being said by the Estimates Committee was that the acceptance so lightly of the Robbins Report by the previous Prime Minister shows his abysmal ignorance of the basic preparation for the acceptance of that Report. A massive expansion of our education was agreed—and what basis in planning did they provide? None. It does not lie in the mouths of hon. Gentlemen opposite to criticise my right hon. Friend.

I have spoken about the White Paper. Looking at the tables for the National Income and Expenditure, it is seen that particularly in the last four or five years there has been a fair expansion of education which contrasts sharply with some other social services, which have been comparatively neglected. I refer, in particular, to the Health Service. Since 1953 it has been increased by only 98 per cent. One of my hon. Friends referred to the policy of the previous Administration, and I should like to comment on what the attitude of the Conservative Party might have been if they had been faced with the massive financial crisis which we have faced over the last nine months and which we inherited from them. It is not a crisis which we invented. We inherited it from them. What would have been their reaction?

Remembering that there has recently been a salaries award, it is well to consider the attitude of the former Government to the Burnham Committee award of 1961. Instead of it being £47½ million the Minister arbitrarily reduced it to £42 million and, remarkable though it seems, he not only reduced it but also altered the terms of the award. That was quite unprecedented. That was the policy of the former Government when faced with an economic crisis which was nothing like as serious as the crisis which we face today.