§ Mr. Parker (Romford)
I beg to move, in page 65, line 28, at the end, to insert:Provided that such annual grants shall not be less than sixty per cent. of the total annual expenditure of local educational authorities, and not less than half of the expenditure of each individual authority.This Amendment has been put down in order to raise for discussion the whole question of the relations of the Board to local education authorities with regard to grants made to assist in carrying out the provisions of the Bill. I think hon. Members as a whole will take the view that, when the Bill has become an Act, it will be necessary to overhaul the relations between the central Government and local authorities from a financial point of view, and that we cannot open up the whole of those relations on the Bill. Such a discussion should be opened up at a later 1829 stage, when the various proposals of the Government relating to expenditure by local authorities have been passed into law. But I think hon. Members will take the view that we want, at least, some progress shown on the Bill, with regard to the grant of assistance by the Government to local authorities, if the Bill is not to be a dead letter. Therefore, my suggestion is that there should be greater assistance given by the Government.
I am not particularly pledged to these proposals but they are put forward as a basis for discussion. In the Financial Memorandum, it is shown that in 1938–39 49.36 per cent. of the expenditure of local education authorities was met by the Board, and estimates are given that in 1948–49 55 per cent, will be met by the Board. That is a considerable increase, but I do not think it is anything like large enough if the Bill is really to work, and, therefore, I suggest that there should be a 6o per cent. grant. Under the Fisher Act, which introduced the percentage system, there were variations in the amount of the percentage but, roughly, up to 1931 about 5o per cent. of local authorities' expenditure was provided by the Board and. you had roughly an equal payment from rates and from taxes. There was supposed to be an equal partnership between the Board and the education authorities. I think it will be agreed that under the Bill you no longer have equal partnership but that the Ministry is now the senior partner in the field of education and, as that is the general interpretation, I think now the position should be recognised by an increase in expenditure from the Government. With the very large increases which are bound to come with increases in teachers' salaries, the larger number of teachers who will be required by the raising of the age, the establishment of young people's colleges, and all the other proposals of the Bill, it is right and proper that a much bigger grant should be given in order to make this a workable Bill.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I am surprised that this rather weak Amendment has been moved by the Member for the largest constituency in the country. It is a typical Amendment of an urban Member which certainly does not meet the very sad case of rural constituencies, and certain industrial ones as well. I regard this Clause as the most important that we have had to deal with 1830 since Clause 1, which puts forward a new policy to promote the education of the people of England and Wales and the progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose, and to secure a national policy for providing a variety of comprehensive educational services in every area. One was hoping that that would be carried through to its proper conclusion, but by Clause 8 the burden of providing for those institutions and for the progressive education of the people is thrown on the local authorities. Now, under Clause 93, the Government can make grants in respect of expenditure incurred by the local authorities. That provides, not for a national policy, as seemed to be indicated by Clause I, but for a policy which is partly national but in the main parochial, for the burden in the main will still be thrown upon the local authorities. The total cost of working the Bill, it is estimated, will ultimately come to £190,000,000, of which £110,000,000 is to be provided by the Government and £80,000,000 by local authorities. There is no single local authority in exactly the same position as any other. They vary in every case, because their wealth depends upon the rate-able value of their area. The local authorities will have to provide, first, the institutions, which will now have to conform to a standard laid down by the Minister—which is of course right—and they will have to incur this initial expenditure before we come to the actual teaching.
When we come to the actual teaching, we are all hoping for smaller classes, a better and higher standard of education and fuller and better equipment, all of which will mean extra expenditure for the local authorities. How can they bear that? The rateable value of the whole of Wales, consisting of 13 shires and four county boroughs, is, roughly, £11,000,000 and 1d. rate produces £45,000 a year—to cover the whole of the people of Wales from Holyhead down to Pembroke and from Pembroke across Monmouth. The rateable value of the city in which I am now standing is also £11,000,000 and the 1d. rate produces £45,000 I do not know how many children there are in the City. of Westminster for whom institutions and teachers have to be provided, and yet the obligations upon all those 17 authorities in Wales will be exactly the same as the obligations put upon the authority in Westminster. That in itself is startling.
1831 The Parliamentry Secretary and I have often used comparative figures which are well known to us both. He has done a great deal in the County of Surrey. Surrey is not entirely that shire which we know as Surrey, but what is left after a portion of Surrey has been put within the County of London. In that portion which is outside the County of London a 1d. rate produces £54,000. In my county a 1d. rate produces £670, but the obligation upon my people will be the same as upon the County of Surrey, and rightly so, because my children will have to meet exactly the same battle of life as the children of Surrey. They will have to undergo the same examination tests. No examiner will say "Unfortunately this child comes from Montgomeryshire, where they cannot provide him with all the facilities, and I will start him with l00 marks in his favour. This other child comes from the County of Surrey, where they can give him every assistance, and from him I will deduct l00 marks." The position is also vital in connection with amenities. Great improvements have been made—better buildings, central heating, provision for drying clothes and provision for medical attention and for feeding. The wealthier authorities have the buildings, but what about poorer authorities, such as mine? In my county they are in a shocking state, and that applies to rural areas everywhere and not only in Wales. Let me read a report on conditions of rural schools in Montgomeryshire; and what is true of Montgomeryshire is true also of Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire and of any rural area one likes to mention. This is from my county architect, of whom we are rightly and tremendously proud:I have gone through my survey reports with very great care and I estimate that 4o new schools at least will be required in Montgomeryshire to replace existing schools"—That is, 40 schools out of 104 are condemned, and, what is more, ought to have been condemned 40 years ago, as the Minister knows. Some of them are over 100 years old, with all windows up above so that the children should not commit the terrible crime of looking out of the window. The report goes on:which are either unfit for continued use or are hopelessly overcrowded. There are also 39 schools in urgent need of large-scale repairs and renovations. In the majority of these 1832 schools the renovations required are similar in character and may be summarised thus:I press this point, because that condition is not only very common but it must have led to as much distress as and more sickness than almost anything else. Country children come long distances to school, arriving early in the morning with their overcoats and their caps wet. They put them in the porch and then go into the school and sit there with their feet wet. There is no provision for drying their clothes. One of the most appalling smells is that met with in those little foetid porches where the wet clothes are hanging. The report continues:
- (1) Totally inadequate lighting and cross ventilation, necessitating the removal of narrow lancet type windows and the insertion of large windows, with all windows made to open.
- (2) The entire reconstruction of cloakrooms, which in the majority of cases consist of little more than entrance porches to the school."Reconstruction of the offices is urgent, with the removal of all pails and pits.It would surprise those who are accustomed to schools in urban areas to visit some of our country schools and see the primitive provision that is made for the small child. It is bound to affect the child's health, because small children are shy, and rightly shy. As the report says:Water closets should be installed in all schools which have a gravity water supply. In the majority of schools no facilities have been provided for drying clothes and the surfaces of most of the playgrounds are impossible.And so on. I will not read all this long letter; it is summarised in the last phrases:Those are the principal defects. The cost will, of course, depend upon the ultimate shape of the reorganisation scheme, and at the moment I have no idea, nor has anyone else, how this will develop. Taking the schools as they exist at present, and ignoring possible closures my estimate is as follows: New schools £409,000, renovations and alterations £66,000, a total of £475,000, and my Id. rate produces just over £600.How am I going to do it? Let me call attention to my present position with regard to rates. My rate has to provide not only for education but for a great number of other things as well. My rate for roads is the highest in any county in England or Wales. My education rate for 1942–43, elementary and higher education, was 8s. 6d. in the pound, for 1943–44 9s.1d in the pound and the estimate for 1944–45 1833 is 10s. 2d. I estimate that if I only just put these schools in order, bring them up to the bare standard required for the national education for which this Bill provides, my education rate will be 15s. 1d. Is it to be wondered at that the younger and more vigorous leave my county? They cannot stay there. They have not housing or water or any of the other facilities, and now they are to be deprived of the same facilities for education as other places have.
This is not the position in Montgomeryshire alone. I would recommend hon. Members to study the county rates as set out in the gazette of the County Councils Association. Looking through all the counties of England, there is not one of them in which the special county rate comes up to 5s. and for higher education there is not one that comes up to 2S., but turning to the small part at the bottom, which refers to Wales and Monmouth, one finds these figures: Anglesey, elementary education, 5s. 6d., higher education 2S. 9d., a total of 8s. 3d. For Breconshire the figure is over 8s. and for Carnarvonshire 6s. In every instance, with the exception of the two counties of Radnor and Flint, for which there is an easy explanation, the figures are much higher than for any county in England. The reason why Radnor and Flint are lower is that Radnor has a population of only 20,000, and over half its rates are paid by Birmingham, which it supplies with water, and F[...]ntshire is a small industrial county and the only county where the population is growing. The fact that stares us in the face is that when we try to educate our children the burden falling upon us becomes heavier and heavier and yet our children are not educated for Wales alone, because they go out into the world to add to the wealth of the world.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I would like to ask a question upon the figures which the hon. and learned Member has been quoting. Does he mean that his education rate is 8s. 6d. in the pound and that that corresponds to a few pence in Anglesey?
§ Mr. C. Davies
No; I was reciting there the figures of the total cost. The total cost in, for example, Anglesey is 61d. for elementary education and 31d. for higher education. This present position is an impossible one. It draws a distinction which ought not to be drawn between the 1834 education provided for children in one area and those in another. The Amendment before us will leave these idiosyncrasies still standing, will leave the distinctions still there. The only way of dealing with the question is to let the full cost fall on the State. The only answer to that made by the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary has been, "If we do that we shall be abolishing local authorities." I do not believe that for one moment. Let the local authorities carry out their duties. I could trust them not to overspend. Is there any distinction between the people who are in the country and have to look after the welfare of the children and the people who sit in Whitehall?
The last word remains with the Treasury in regard to expenditure and they have to maintain that standard throughout. I should like to point out that in the one and only instance so far, where we have had a 100 per cent. grant from the Treasury, that grant has been used wisely and well and with benefit for the children. In Anglesey there is now a 100 per cent. grant given for the feeding of school children. That has been a boon to Anglesey. They have looked after their children so well that they now occupy the first place in that respect. They could not carry on without the 100 per cent. grant.
I implore the Government to reconsider the position. If they want a national policy, then there should be a national Exchequer so that everybody is put upon an equal basis. There has been a great deal of controversy with regard to one form of education for the rich, and another for the poor, and also on the point that education should not depend upon the pocket of the individual father. That is perfectly right, I agree, but here we are emphasising it, more than is done in the case of private individuals. The wealthy authorities would be given an education which we poor authorities could not possibly afford. I sincerely hope that we should get far better consideration from His Majesty's Government, than we have had in the past.
§ The Chairman
I had proposed calling separately the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith)—In line 11 at end, insert:(3) Any regulations made by the Minister under this Section shall provide that in deter- 1835 mining the amount of annual grant payable to a local education authority consideration shall be given not only to the actual expenditure incurred by the local education authority but also to the number of children receiving education within their area as compared in that respect with other areas."—and that in the name of the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins)—In line 11, at end, insert:(3) The regulations to be made under Sub-section (1) of this section shall have regard to the average annual expenditure per child in England and Wales and the product of a penny rate in the area of each local education authority and shall provide that the grant to be paid shall be such that the rate in the pound necessary in order to maintain the average expenditure per child shall as near as possible be the same in each area."—but having regard to the very wide ground which has been covered, I think it would be best to consider them together with this Amendment.
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
Much of what the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has said must receive widespread support from all those who represent wholly or in part rural constituencies. The difference to-day under the existing circumstances is very marked indeed. In my own constituency, where industry and agriculture are inextricably mixed, you have the extraordinary spectacle in many parts of an entirely up-to-date modern school with every facility, with beautiful lighting, ventilation and other accommodation and, a very short distance away, a small school altogether inadequate for its purpose.
I think very few of us could support the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) because it would limit the matter in a way that it is most undesirable to do at the present time. The whole question of the finance of the local authorities in this matter must be reconsidered and if Clause 93, as it stands, has no positive merit it has, at least, the negative merit that under it regulations can be brought forward which would provide altogether different proportions from those mentioned in the Amendment. I feel about this matter as I feel about other matters in connection with this Bill. I feel that the country as a whole, and Members of Parliament in particular, will have a very serious responsibility after this Bill has been passed because, as this reorganisation scheme is developed, we 1836 shall be brought up against a number of problems, particularly the problem of finance, which cannot be dealt with at this stage of the Bill.
I am of opinion that after this Bill has been passed and after some progress has been made with the re-organisation contemplated, including a great deal that is not in the Bill, such as the reduction in the size of classes which in itself is going to be a very costly business although absolutely essential, we should have before the House, in the form of these regulations, a wide and comprehensive financial scheme which will enable any local authority to do its duty by the children that come under its area. I cannot go quite as far as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. I do not think the State should pay 100 per cent., but there is a great advantage in the local authorities in this and other matters having their position safeguarded by the fact that they are making some financial contribution to the work in hand. If we are to make a success of this Bill and give a first-class primary, secondary and extended education then the whole finance of the education system must be remodelled so that no matter where a child may be born, that child must have the same opportunity in every respect as a child born in some area which may be larger and which can deal with the matter in a totally different way.
I venture to urge on the President of the Board of Education that in the future, for good or ill, there is going to be a great deal more mechanical equipment in connection with education, particularly, of course, technical education. Throughout there will be the need for such equipment, which is very expensive. There are new devices coming on to the market—films are but one of them—which can be enormously helpful in education. A poor authority cannot afford them and, therefore, we must look forward to regulations being produced by the President which will re-model the whole system and give all authorities, or, rather, all children, because they are more important than the authorities, an equal chance of obtaining the best education possible under the scheme outlined in this Bill.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke)
Now that the Committee have agreed on your suggestion, Major Milner, that all these Amendments shall be considered together, I would like, as briefly as possible, to make 1837 a few observations, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be good enough to consider the principles outlined in the Amendment which I have put on the Paper on behalf of our local authority and other interested people. The President may remember that I raised this issue many times before the war and I found that several Presidents of the Board of Education were sympathetically disposed. In my view, now is the time for that sympathy to be translated into some financial arrangement that will give satisfaction to the areas for which we are speaking. The present system, in our view, depends too much upon the ability of the local authority to raise the finance. In Stoke we have a relatively progressive education committee, and they want to keep pace with the needs of the children locally and also with the national advance in education. But they find every time that their estimates are cut down by the local finance committee, not from any consideration of national finance, but purely from the point of view of local finance.
We have a relatively large child population in the area and we have very difficult local circumstances. As in many other areas, we suffer from mining subsidence which also has an effect upon the rate and the amount of expenditure necessary in order to maintain the locality. As a result of these factors, and others which I could mention, the rates are very high and the tendency is, for industrial reasons, to keep them as low as possible. The result is that the education estimates are cut down to an extent that is not worthy of the country, and that is done to cover the local circumstances. That means a serious lowering of standards for the children in the area because the cutting down of the gross sum spent on education means a reduction in the Government grant. In other words, local authorities that can afford to spend a great deal on education out of the rates, are assisted to a greater extent per child from Government grants. I find that in 1937 the average net expenditure per child was approximately £14, whereas in Stoke it was only £11, although it is generally agreed that we shall need increased facilities for educating our children if we are to hold our own in post-war industrial affairs.
It is wrong, therefore, from a national point of view, wrong from an industrial 1838 point of view and certainly wrong from the child's point of view that this method of fixing the finance should remain as it is. We also find that in the same year West Ham spent £19 upon each child, and Manchester £16, whereas, in Stoke, it was only £11. I forget the figures given to me by the President of the Board of Education before the war for places like Bournemouth and Eastbourne, but they showed that many more pounds were spent upon the children in those localities than were spent in the area for which I am speaking and, therefore, I am asking that there should be a re-arrangement. I am informed by the local education authority that if this Bill is fully implemented the cost to our rates will be not less than 2s. 6d. Seeing that we have a relatively progressive education committee, who will be desirous of implementing this Bill to the maximum extent, it will have a serious effect on that locality if some change is not made in the financial arrangement.
§ Major Sir Derrick Gunston (Thornbury)
Could the hon. Member explain what he means by a "progressive education committee"?
§ Mr. Smith
Compared with many other areas with which I am familiar and with which, I suppose, my hon. and gallant Friend is also familiar, many of the members of Stoke education committee are broad-minded people. They realise that you cannot get the best out of people in the future unless those who are coming on have a better education than was available in the past, and they are trying to cater for that as far as possible, within the limits set at the present time. All I am asking for is equality of treatment for the children throughout the areas. We ask that the grant should be made on the basis of the number of children in an area and not on the basis operating at the present time.
§ Sir Adam Maitland (Faversham)
One or two hon. Members have seemed to suggest that the National Exchequer should make a full and complete contribution to the cost of the new proposals which are embodied in this Bill. I understood my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) to suggest that there should be a complete remodelling of the financial basis on which the cost was to be met. That may meet one point of view, but I 1839 must remind him that it is contrary to the terms outlined in the Financial Memorandum appended to the Bill. I would like to make one or two observations about that point. Those observations are made not from the point of view of such counties as that which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has mentioned. We have the greatest sympathy with them, but I think the Committee would question the wisdom of basing the whole of our financial arrangements on a county which is the least able to help itself. It would not be wise to extend unduly the help which the National Exchequer should make and then devolve upon the local authorities the task of administering the duties which they are asked to perform. I do not think the local authorities have any objection to paying a proportion of the costs which are incurred in the educational system. From the point of view of central administration it could be argued that it would be a bad principle to set up as a general matter of policy that the central authority should pay and leave local authorities to administer. That is quite contrary to our existing system of Government.
I have had a resolution from the Association of Municipal Corporations. They do not speak for any particular section, for they have as members good and bad authorities and rich and poor authorities. They have tried to take a view of what is right and reasonable as a general principle. Incidentally, they object to the statement in the Financial Memorandum that the new grants shall be based upon percentages of the grants and expenditure of 1938–39. They consider that an unfortunate suggestion. One reason they give is that it will be necessary to employ many more teachers, and that will mean an additional cost which was never incurred in 1938–39. Local authorities also point out that the Minister will have far more control over the expenditure, than he has at present. Therefore, they suggest that for teachers' salaries the State grant should be 66⅔ per cent. on that expenditure from time to time. The Association also suggests hat the grant for the country as a whole for all other expenditure, except that on school meals and milk, should be based upon the expenditure in the year 1938–39, as indicated in the Financial Memorandum and increased as indicated therein. As the 1840 financial arrangements are governed by regulations, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say whether it is his intention to consult the local authorities before finally determining what the regulations shall be. As to the, poorer authorities such as those referred to so eloquently by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery, I hope the Minister will frame the regulations in such a way as to permit of dealing with such authorities in a more generous way than is needed by other districts whose needs will in fact be equitably met under the general arrangements ulimately decided upon.
§ Mr. Arthur Jenkins (Pontypool)
I disagree with the views expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and the hon. Member for Faversham (Sir A. Maitland). I do not think that a 66⅔ per cent. grant of the total expenditure of the areas would meet the problem, nor do I think that 100 per cent, grant to certain areas would be satisfactory. Indeed, it would be damaging, because it would take away local interest from education, and that would be a great mistake. On the whole, I do not think 100 per cent. grant is necessary. I would rather have some system under which we could, by the general principle of having grants spread over the whole of the authorities, retain local interest in education. I rather thought I had done something to go a long way to meet that when I put down my Amendment: In page 66, line 11 at end, insert:(3) The regulations to be made under Sub-section (1) of this Section shall have regard to the average annual expenditure per child in England and Wales and the product of a penny rate in the area of each local education authority and shall provide that the grant to be paid shall be such that the rate in the pound necessary to be levied by each local education authority in order to maintain the average expenditure per child shall as near as possible be the same in each area.When I came to work it out, I found that, in proving my case, I should have to be fairly technical and use a large number of figures. I must apologise to the Committee for that, for it is difficult to explain a matter of this kind without using figures to a considerable extent. The purpose of the addition to the Clause that I suggest is to make the liability of education authorities as nearly equal as possible. I cannot imagine that there 1841 will be much disagreement with that, or that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery would object to his constituents being called upon to pay the same rate poundage as the inhabitants of Surrey or some other counties. If that were done it seems to me that it would provide a way out. Unless we can devise some scheme of that kind it will be extremely difficult to attain the standards of education envisaged in the Bill. I have spoken only twice on this Bill and have confined myself to the financial side. I made a speech on the Second Reading and one on the discussion on the Financial Resolution. I then tried to bring to the attention of the House the problems that will arise under the financial arrangements of this Bill. I do not doubt that the President and the Parliamentary Secretary are fully acquainted with the facts and know them better than we do, but it is insufficient to be aware of the facts; in addition to the awareness there should be some action in order to meet the situation.
What is the situation? The extremes of rate liability for elementary education go from 7s. 5d. in the pound in Carmarthen to 1s. 7½d. in Surrey, a county of whose council the Parliamentary Secretary has been a very active and useful member. The average rate for elementary education throughout the country is 2s. 10d., and to even that out the Financial Memorandum provides £900,000. That is totally insufficient, and I do not imagine that either the President or the Parliamentary Secretary would contend that it is adequate or is likely seriously to meet the difficult situation we have to face. The Bill proposes to raise from the ratepayers an additional £29,000,000. That is equal to an average rate throughout the country of 1s. 8d. What is the incidence of that rate increase on the different authorities? Roughly, it is a 50 per cent. increase. Let me test it on Carmarthen and Surrey. In Surrey the rate increase involved will be about 10d., and it will make the total elementary education rate after this Bill is fully in operation of 2s. 5½d. In Carmarthen the rate increase will be 3s. 8d., making the total elementary education rate of 11s. 1d. That is an appalling difference. Is it not an unworkable situation? It is of vital importance that the Committee should pay close attention to it now. The Minister will have power to make regulations in Clause 93, and I want to say as 1842 strongly as I can that the steep rise in rates that will result from the Bill, and particularly their uneven incidence, will make the arrangements adumbrated in the Financial Memorandum quite unsatisfactory, if not unworkable.
To what is this unequal incidence of rate liability due? It is due to poverty and low rateable value. The other main factor is, in education, the incidence of child population. Poverty is due to the kind of industries that may be in a district. To take an example, Wales and Monmouthshire have lost 413,000 people in the last 20 years—one-quarter of its population. They are the young people, the people who have been educated and on whom the authorities have, spent anything from £150 to £250 each. The authorities have brought them to the adult stage and any productive benefit to the area had they remained has disappeared, and they have removed to the richer authorities. Had they remained the rateable value would have increased from £1,000,000 to £3,000,000. Rateable value varies considerably. Throughout the country the average is £10, per head. It varies from £3 in some districts up to £30 in other districts. I am not talking about the big cities now. When we look at the school population the figures are even more startling. In the counties one in eight of the population is on the elementary school register. It varies from county to county from one in six to one in 11. It is vital to remember that in those districts where the rateable value is lowest the incidence of child population in the elementary schools is highest. That is what we have to face. In other districts the figures are: Cumberland, one in seven; Durham, one in six and a half; Lincoln (Holland), one in seven; Surrey, one in 10½; East Sussex, one in 11; Isle of Wight, one in 10; Carmarthen, one in seven and a half; Monmouth, one in six and a half. These figures tell us, in the first place, that in Monmouth we have to educate one and two-thirds children for every child which is educated in Surrey. That means a 60 per cent. increase in expenditure on elementary education.
If the proposals suggested in my Amendment were adopted we should remove a great number of those disabilities. First, we must take into consideration the average rate levied for education throughout the country. If we did that 1843 we should be able to charge every authority with that amount. We should use the grant scientifically, in order to provide the additional money that will be required to enable the education authority to raise its standard of education to the level required by the President of the Board of Education. It is a more or less simple way. We have tried it to some extent before, as the Parliamentary Secretary will well know, when we adopted the 65 per cent.—or 60 per cent. I forget which—grant-in-aid of teachers' salaries. We deducted the product of a 7d. rate for every area, in order to equalise to some extent the rate liability throughout the country. The principle was embodied in the capitation grant, an advantage which went on for a while. As a matter of fact, it went on until the beginning of the war, when we merged the whole of those grants into a percentage grant.
If the proposal I suggest were put into operation, the effect would be that the money available now would enable us to increase the grant, for example in Newport (Monmouthshire) county borough, from 51.64 per cent. to 60 per cent. In Merthyr the increase would be from 67 per cent.—I will leave out the decimals—to 87 per cent. These figures, so far as I have been able to work them out, are approximately accurate. In Cumberland the increase would be from 58 per cent. to 79 per cent. In Durham, from 61 per cent. to 82 per cent. In Hereford, from 55 per cent. to 63 per cent. In Norfolk, from 58 per cent. to 74 per cent. In Staffordshire, from 58 per cent. to 74 per cent. In Carmarthenshire, from 59 percent. to 84 per cent. In Glamorgan, from 64 per cent. to 86 per cent., and in Monmouthshire, from 62 per cent. to 85 per cent.
There would be some reductions, and Surrey would be one of them. Under the present arrangement, Surrey is getting a percentage of 36.2 per cent. That would be reduced, on my formula, to 10.9 per cent. Surrey could well stand it. It would receive a grant of 10.9 per cent. of its total elementary educational expenditure. The average for the whole of the counties of the country would he an increase from 52.14 per cent. to 59.4 per cent. and for the whole of the county boroughs from 50.85 per cent. to 57.1 per cent. 1844 The effect on London would be that it would receive, instead of 38.93 per cent., 31.6 per cent. The greatest loss sustained by any education authority would be round about a fivepenny rate, whereas the greatest gain, on my figures, would be something like a 3s. 6d. rate. Montgomeryshire, if the hon. and learned Member for Montgomeryshire is correct, would be saved in the region of 5s. or even more.
Each district would pay the same rate. That would be the real virtue, and equality, of the proposal, and it would guarantee advancement in every district. It would put into the hands of the President of the Board of Trade greater influence and authority to see that the provisions of the Bill were given effect to. Moreover, it would go far to mitigate the effects on the ratepayers of cities and towns that have suffered from war action. On the other hand, I agree at once that any money expended in respect of war action would have to be compensated for. A system of that kind would be scientific, compared with the present system. It would be equitable, and it would be a proper use of the grant fund. It would mean that the peaks and depressions would be evened out and would make it possible for even the poorest education authorities to attain a reasonably high standard of service. Until that is done, it will be very difficult to give full effect to the provisions of the Bill.
These are not only my own views. They have a vast measure of support in the country. Even the Deputy Prime Minister, speaking at the annual meeting of the County Councils Association on Wednesday last, said:Few would deny that grants in aid from the centre were necessary, in view of the financial resources of the various counties, but that system should not be pushed too far.I am in entire agreement with that statement. The Chairman of the County Councils Association, in a letter he wrote to me last week, said:I realise that the education, health and housing proposals will be dead letters unless we can get some change in the financial proposals.That view was expressed by Dr. Maples, who is an Alderman of the Hereford County Council and is Chairman of the County Councils Association. The Government some time ago asked the County 1845 Councils Association to prepare a report on the reform of local government. The association did so with very great care and the report was finally adopted when submitted to a conference of county councils, at which 6o of the 62 administrative counties in England and Wales were represented. In section 9 of that report, dealing with finance, it is statedAt this stage, the association do not consider it advisable to do more than reiterate their adherence to the principle of grant distribution according to need.There is the principle, grant distribution according to need. That policy has been expressed in a resolution which has been passed by the executive committee of the association only recently. The resolution was in the following terms:Having carefully considered the Financial Memorandum of the Education Bill … we are unanimously of the opinion that the grant proposals … are wholly insufficient to prevent … the imposition of an unduly heavy burden in many areas.That is the County Councils Association.
I wish to quote further from a leading article published in "The Times Educational Supplement" in the early stages of the Bill. I would like to make two quotations. The first is:Evidence accumulates to show that even an aggregate of 55 per cent., with a small reserve for the easement of extreme poverty, will in no way meet the needs of the poorer authorities. A change must be made here.At the end of the article, this was said:Two major obstacles are yet to be removed, finance and staffing. Both should be removed without delay.Finance can be 'dealt with without much delay but staffing needs more time.
One of the declared objects of the Bill is to provide an equal opportunity for every child. That is the view of the Committee and I know also that it is the view of the President of the Board of Education and of the Parliamentary Secretary. Indeed, both of them have strongly given expression to that view, but an equal chance for every child is not possible as long as the opportunities afforded to education authorities are so unequal. It is impossible. The Parliamentary Secretary has had the pleasure of being a member of a rich authority. I have spent my energies on a poor authority. We have compared differences from time to time. The position has been mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Clement Davies), 1846 who referred to rateable value. Let me give some particulars:
Surrey gets £54,000 as the product of a penny rate, with a population of 930,000. Monmouthshire has a penny rate producing £4,000, with a population of 350,000. In other words, we have one-third of Surrey's population and one-fourteenth of their rateable value. That constitutes a difference that will be very difficult to get over without some such method as I suggest in my Amendment. The Parliamentary Secretary and I have often talked over these matters. A Surrey boy can go to the university with a grant of £125 or £150. That is a common action on the part of the Surrey County Council. What happens in Monmouthshire? A grant of 20 or £30. The rich authority can select the best teachers and provide better schools, with a higher standard of equipment. The one authority is well off, with a nice rosy complexion, while the other is emaciated and underfed. The one is the full employment standard while the other is the unemployment standard. That is where we are in education. That is what results from a variation in education rate liability from is. 7½d. to 7s. 5d.
I feel sure that the President will desire to remove that disability. He may not be able to accept the wording or even the form of our Amendment, but I would be content if he would say that the matter should be investigated if he would set up a properly constituted committee, working speedily and coming to its conclusions in the very early future, so that its recommendations would be ready when the Bill comes into operation, I think such a committee ought to be provided. Then we should have an effective grant system when the Bill is placed on the Statute Book and begins to bestow its benefit on the boys and girls of this land. Those benefits will be tremendous, provided they can be given to all. If that can be done, the boys and girls will indeed be well blessed. I do not want to see our education system develop the two nations idea again. Let us devise a scheme now, at the commencement of the Bill, by which we shall use the finance coming from the Central Government in such an effective and scientific manner that we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that every boy and girl in the land will have an opportunity of attaining the highest possible standard of education.
§ The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)
I think it will be convenient if I intervene at this stage. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, who has special knowledge of this subject, will be able to answer points which are raised after I have spoken. The Government desire to help the Committee in this matter. I am sure we can say that all the speeches made have been marked by great thought and care, and have elaborated the case which hon. Members have sought to put to the Committee. We are also indebted to you, Major Milner, for enabling us to discuss all these matters together. This procedure is particularly valuable today, because we have a great deal of work to get through in order to get the Bill through the Committee by Easter. I attach the greatest importance to completing the Committee stage by Easter, leaving the further stages, which, as the Committee knows are very important, for later. If we can be guided by you, Major Milner, is you have guided us so far, I feel sure that we shall be able to make that progress, with the help of the Committee.
Let me direct myself to answering the points raised by hon. Members. Starting at the highest scale, let me take the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Clement Davies), who would like everything to be paid from central funds. I see the hon. and learned Member acknowledges the exactitude of my appreciation of his argument. I must not dwell upon this matter, because it is one which I think would not be completely in Order if the hon. and learned Member were to demand every single penny. Even if he demanded 98 or 99 per cent. I should still feel that that did not leave sufficient discretion to the local authority. I feel that education must be a partnership. This Committee has shown in its views on local government, which no doubt we shall be considering further on the next Sitting Day, that there should be a local interest in education. I cannot reconcile that argument with the desire of the hon. and learned Member that all the money should come from central funds. Therefore, I am afraid I must leave his argument, but not the sense of his argument, which is that the matter should be looked into.
Taking the sense of his argument I am grateful to him for describing some of the defects of our educational system. On 1848 previous occasions on which I have used the same arguments for being, perhaps, dilatory on certain matters, the Committee have brushed them aside. The hon. and learned Member has done the Committee a service in reinforcing the arguments I have used on less happy occasions and I am very much obliged to him. The condition of many of our schools makes the Minister in charge, and his Parliamentary Secretary, take a very responsible view of the need for proper finance. I think I can probably fit in all the arguments that have been raised by the various hon. Members who would have desired to move the various Amendments in their names, and whose points we are dealing with, if I adhere to the programme of the speech I have before me.
The position, as I see it, is that the Committee have misapprehended the transitional nature of the grant formula upon which this Bill is based. That is the first point. The Committee has also misapprehended the extent to which in the early days that transitional grant formula imposes the greater part of the burden upon central funds. Further, I shall hope in the course of my remarks to indicate how, if the Committee feel that even these two major arguments do not satisfy them, the Government propose to make a new proposal for aiding the poorer authorities. That is the general lay-out of my speech. It only remains for me to say that I accept the spirit of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins). The same applies to the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke Mr. Ellis Smith). We have in fact, as I shall indicate, used very much these yardsticks in the proposals I shall have to make later for assisting the poorer authorities. I hope that hon. Members will not press their Amendments to-day, but will listen as patiently as they can to the general lay-out which I have just outlined.
The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker), who spoke first, has an Amendment on the Paper dealing with the possibility of a minimum grant of 50 per cent. and the possibility of a grant of more than 60 per cent. This leads me to take up my first point. I think the Committee misapprehend the nature of the transitional—I underline that word "transitional"—grant formula upon which this 1849 Bill is based. This grant formula gives an overall 55 per cent. to local authorities. Those who examine the matter for the first time, or who examine in, cursorily, would imagine that "overall" meant that there was a similar grant given to all authorities. That is not at all the case. The present grant formula, which is one stabilised on the immediately pre-war level, was stabilised at a time of particular importance to local authorities. It was fixed at a time when the number of children was falling and when au, product of a penny rate was tending to rise. Therefore, taking the matter by and large, the stabilisation of the present grant formula, which is an extremely complicated affair, was done at a time favourable to the local authorities and more unfavourable to central funds.
That transitional grant formula, upon which we are operating and on which this Bill will start its life, is based and graded according to needs. That was one point to which the hon. Member for Pontypool attached particular importance—grading according to needs. Although his formula is equally ingeniously devised, I believe it would not give such general satisfaction, because it would cause a greater disparity between what the authorities receive than the formula, graded according to needs, upon which we are now working. I have before me tables, of incredible complexity, which indicate the exact combined standard percentage which will be received under this Bill by the different authorities. I said "combined standard percentage" because under the Bill, as hon. Members will remember from page iii of the Financial Memorandum, the grants for elementary and higher education are now mixed up together.
The combined standard percentage, therefore, differs very much according '0 localities and the fact that this formula is based on needs is, I think, the answer to a great many of the arguments hitherto used. Bournemouth, for instance, will receive under this formula 34.01 per cent., but Monmouthshire will receive 64.08 per cent., Durham some 64.25 per cent., Glamorgan 64.71 per cent., and Merthyr, which is one of the places where we have the greatest difficulty owing to its particular circumstances, 68.28 per cent. That indicates that this formula ranges from places which may regard themselves as comparatively rich, and get between 30 and 40 1850 per cent., to places in greater need who have nearly 70 per cent. coming from public funds. That, I think, is the first answer to those who ask me for my suggestions for alternative formulae and those who wonder whether an overall 55 per cent. is fair.
§ Mr. A. Jenkins
Would it be possible to look at that formula? Has it been worked out in any detail so that one could examine it?
§ Mr. Butler
The best advice I can give, for a "child's guide to knowledge" on the formula, is to read the little grey book which I have read—being childish in these matters—entitled "An outline of the structure of the educational system of England and Wales." In the last pages the nature of the formula on which the transitional formula is based is set out extremely clearly. I can certainly make copies available in the Library for hon. Members. It is a book which we use for educating new Presidents, who change with remarkable rapidity.
The position as desired by hon. Members who have discussed their various Amendments, is that it would be better to fix a standard rate and a minimum rate in the Bill, that is by Statute. The proposition I am putting forward is that the wiser course for the Committee to adopt is to accept this elastic formula, graded according to needs and susceptible of revision in the light of operation, as a measure rather than any one of the statutory limitations which these Amendments would impose. If hon. Members accept that first major' proposition, I have been able to convince them of a large part of my case. I gather that they would not wish to accept that, unless they could feel that, at the same time, some additional aid was to be given to the poorer local authorities. But before I come to that, I want to complete my case in regard to the nature of the present transitional grant formula by reference to the Table in the Financial Memorandum of the Bill. There it will be seen that what I have said is accurate. Under this transitional grant formula, the increase for pre-reform expenditure falling upon central funds in the fourth year amounts to £19.9 million pounds but the increase falling upon the rates by the fourth year under the transitional grant formula, is only £3,000,000. That gives an absolutely clear indication that this transitional grant 1851 formula, upon which the Bill will start, is so weighed and weighted that it does; in fact, impose in the early years, the greater part of the expense on the central funds.
§ Mr. Butler
Partly because of the increased percentage which has been imposed, and partly owing to the great wisdom with which the formula has been devised. If I were to read out the specimen examples which have been before the Committee for many months, ever since the Bill was published, hon. Members would see that, ultimately, even if this formula were to go on for ever, there would be some £51,000,000 extra imposed on central funds and £21,000,000 imposed on the rates. Thus, even if the transitional were to go on for ever, the proportion imposed on central funds would be much greater than the proportion imposed on the rates. Thus, I go some way to meet the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery.
The Committee will wish to know whether I can accompany this formula which is graded according to needs, with some extra help for the poorer authorities. The suggestion was originally made that a sum of nearly £1,000,000, or, to be more precise,£900,000, should be made available for the fourth year for the poorer authorities. The Government now propose to increase that figure and to make an extra sum available for the poorer local authorities. The form or formula they propose to use is not one which can be finally decided exactly at this stage. It takes into account, however, the number of children to be educated in the area, and the capacity of the area to pay. Hon. Members will see that I am already paying attention to the sense of the Amendments put down by the hon. Members for Stoke and Pontypool. The Government propose to make available a sum of between £500,000 and £2,000,000 altogether that is, nearly an extra £1,000,000 from the Exchequer for dispensing among the poorer areas. It is impossible for me to announce at this stage the exact incidence but I am satisfied, on the working of the first formula, that this will cover between 30 and 40 of the poorer authorities. That will include the poorer Welsh counties 1852 to which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery referred, because under any formula they are clearly very much in need of help.
§ Mr. Butler
It all depends on the relationship of the numbers of children to be educated in the area and the capacity of the area to pay. If you take the tables of the incidence of these matters in various parts of England, and compare them with the rates set out, the nature of the authority likely to get help under this scheme will be immediately seen.
§ Mr. C. Davies
As I understand, two matters have to be taken into consideration—the number of children educated, and the capacity to pay. Will there be a third consideration, namely, the expenditure needed in order to come up to the standard? We have a lot of leeway to make up, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, in some areas in order to reach the required standards.
§ Mr. Butler
Provided that we do not put a premium on those who have not done their duty in the past. One of the reasons why I have not come out with an actual formula and tables to-day, is that I desire to hear what the Committee have to say on these points, and to discuss the question with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. Every relevant point will be borne in mind. This combination of an assurance from the Government of this transitional grant formula, operating in the earlier years in the interest of the authorities, with the statement that we propose to increase the sum due to the poorer authorities, will, I think, go a long way towards meeting the arguments raised in this Debate; and I think hon. Members will agree that they have greater hopes from leaving the matter fluid, than from fixing a definite rate in the Bill. I have discussed this matter with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, and we absolutely agree with the Committee that it is very difficult to decide the exact financial basis on which all the Government's schemes of social reform shall be introduced. I want to say nothing in an education Debate, which will prejudice wider issues —I have told hon. Members that before. It will be necessary, ultimately, in dealing with domestic issues in education to take into account the incidence of the whole 1853 social programme, the post-war rate position, which we cannot foretell now, and the return to normal after the present war conditions, which are quite abnormal; we shall also have to take into account war damage, and so forth. I ask the Committee to have confidence that, by taking the grant formula I have described we shall start the reforms on a fair and solid basis. For the poorer authorities there will be a minus for the first two years, and also probably up to the fourth year. There will be an opportunity for reconsidering this formula after we have seen how it is working, but the main burden of the reforms will not fall on the rates in the early years and we are making special provision for the poorer areas. I hope therefore that Members will feel that we are launching these reforms on a better flood than they previously anticipated.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
The Committee will be grateful, I think, to my right hon. Friend for his sympathetic approach, and also for the concession which he has been able to announce. But he has spoken in the language of percentages and formulas. What local authorities are concerned with, and also what individual ratepayers are concerned with, is, what rates they will be called upon to pay for education while this Bill is being implemented, and when it is fully implemented. It would be helpful if my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, could give us some typical examples relating to the wealthier authorities, if he likes, some of the very poor authorities, and some average authorities, showing what their education rates are likely to be under the proposals, as brought up to date by the announcement of my right hon. Friend. If we are riot very careful education is going to be very unpopular in this country. This Bill, in my opinion, is going to be a very expensive matter, much more expensive than the Government appear to have realised. I am not quite clear whether, in estimating the cost of the Bill, they have taken into account the changes that are likely to occur; the great increase, for instance, that is inevitable in the salaries of teachers, which are the largest single item of expenditure. Everybody knows that, although taxes are unpopular, rates are even more unpopular. Even if a local authority were prepared to meet the very 1854 heavy expenditure this Bill might call for, its members, when the municipal elections come, in a few months' time, might lose their seats for doing so. I would ask my right hon. Friend to see that the difficulty of local authorities in the matter of finance is met. They have asked for this Bill, they welcome this Bill; they are prepared to pay their fair share of the expenditure involved; but they do ask that the burden which is laid upon them shall not be an impossible one.
§ Mr. Moelwyn Hughes (Carmarthen)
I join in welcoming the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, and his promise that something will be done to adjust the burdens that fall upon local authorities, but I would ask the Committee not 'o be swept off its feet by the emphasis which the Minister has laid upon the differentiation that is now to be made. Most people have a general idea that the local authorities pay half, and the central Government pay half, of the cost of education. That may be true of the country as a whole, but certainly it is not true of individual authorities: the percentage varies with different authorities. The right hon. Gentleman said, with regard to Bournemouth, for instance, that the percentage that came from the central Government was only 36 per cent., and that for Monmouth it was 64 per cent. One might imagine that a considerable measure of equality was thereby brought about. But I have in mind the percentages for two authorities of a similar character. We shall see how far the burden is equated there. In the county of Carmarthen, a penny rate produces 3s for every child who is being educated. In Surrey a penny rate produces 10s. for every child who is being educated. Let us apply the existing percentages. Surrey, comparable to Bournemouth, gets only 36 per cent.; Carmarthen, comparable to Monmouth, gets 59 per cent. Let us look at the result as far as the child is concerned. A penny rate in Carmarthen produces 3s. for the child; the State contributes 4s. That brings the total up to 7s. In Surrey a penny rate produces 10s for the child, and the State adds 6s. So, there is a considerable disparity in the amount per child, even when the percentages vary as widely as 36 per cent. and 59 per cent. Although I welcome every tendency to equate the burden, I desire to point out that, even the pro- 1855 duction of figures like 36 per cent. and 64 per cent. does not go anything like far enough to give the children in these areas equality of opportunity. Out of every 105 of the population in Carmarthen 1[...] are schoolchildren, but out of every 105 in Surrey only 10 are schoolchildren. That accounts for the difference in the incidence in the two counties.
I want to reinforce the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) about making up leeway. It is these authorities who have been unable to raise sufficient money per child which are, by and large, the more backward in their buildings and equipment. Although one welcomes the statement that the application of these grants to poorer authorities is not to be made without regard to whether they have or have not fulfilled their obligations in the past, let it not be forgotten that, although my county have a considerable number of schools which ought to have been out of action, they have borne a considerable burden in endeavouring to do what ought to be done. My own county has an education rate of 8s. 3d., which is greater than the total rate in some other counties. Can it be said that we have not borne a sufficient burden when we carry an education rate greater than the total rate of some other counties? I do not want additional money to be given because an authority has been laggard, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind, when distributing this £1,500,000, that he should not make the test either the number of defective buildings or the condition generally, but should have regard to what these authorities have done in the way of carrying a fair burden. If he does that, we shall welcome the test, as we shall welcome the gradual closing of the gap between the richer and the poorer authorities.
§ Sir William Jenkins (Neath)
I welcome what has been said by the Minister to the effect that he is going to reconsider the matter, but if any statement is to be made, the local authorities should know exactly what it means to the richer authorities and what it means to the poorer authorities. Will it be laid down as a general proposition, how it is to be distributed to the various authorities which are affected? I had experience of the Board of Education when we in Glamor- 1856 ganshire were a very depressed area, from 1926 onwards. We had to come to the Board regularly, and we had doles. Sometimes we were very successful; at other times we were not.
So far as progress is concerned, in our area there was no progress at all. They wanted to put up new schools but they could not do so. They wanted changes, but they could not have them. On every occasion, we were told that there was either a May Committee Report or a Geddes axe. Therefore, I say that, before we can accept this—although I am willing to accept anything which has a tendency to assist the Board—I would like to know from the Minister himself what it means. Is it too much to ask, that before the Bill leaves the Committee, we should be given the particulars? What does it mean? So far as Wales is concerned, we have heard to-day from the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Davies) about the effect on smaller authorities, and I think we ought to have it cleared up.
I think it was 1914 when the formula was first fixed. It has been changed on several occasions. Now it is to be changed again, and I think it should be a matter for either a Departmental Committee or a Royal Commission. Certainly, something should be done in order that we may have equal treatment. This Bill is all wrong, in my opinion, unless we do get equal treatment. What is going to happen? Are we being honest to those men who are to-day at the front, when we tell them "You are getting equal treatment"? We tell every man who is to-day fighting for his country, that there is to be equal treatment for all. When he comes back, what will he think when he finds that children are not getting equal treatment, and that, while some children benefit others in the poorer areas do not? My own county is one of- the poorest areas, according to the incidence of population, although it may be the largest and best county in Wales. At the same time, we are suffering considerably, because we have made so many attempts to try to improve our schools. Unless the Minister can give us some satisfaction with regard to this additional money, we cannot allow the Board to say that those authorities which come along later are to be the authorities who will be considered, and which will receive this additional money.
1857 A previous speaker said he had every sympathy with us. We do not want sympathy at all; we want fair treatment for all children. We ask that, in Wales, our children should be treated like other children in the more prosperous areas. The Parliamentary Secretary knows the position of his own area. As between Glamorgan and Surrey, if £1,000,000 was necessary, I am told by financial experts that for Surrey it would mean a rate of 1s. 7d. and for Glamorgan one of 7s. 7d. Is that equal treatment for the people who are, to-day, fighting for their country and preparing a future for their children? I venture to say that, unless we can get considerably more satisfaction than is in the financial statement which has been made by the Minister, we shall not be able to carry out this Bill in Glamorgan. We shall not be able to do it, unless we get some guarantee, and I am hoping that that guarantee will be given to us, before this Bill leaves the Committee.
We ought not to be told, that at the end of this war, a committee will be appointed. I hope no committee will be appointed to curtail things, as we did at the end of the last war. At the end of the last war, our children had to suffer. I am glad that something has been done between the two wars in preparation for the feeding of the children, which is a very excellent thing. At the same time, we have some very bad schools in our areas and we want them removed. Blacklisted schools should be removed with the least possible delay, when the war is over I think a very reasonable demand has been made by the Federation of Education Authorities for Wales, and I hope their appeal to the Ministry will not fall on deaf ears. We are equal to the other authorities in the country, and we say what the other education authorities and associations have been saying all along—that this Bill will not work, because its financial arrangements are fatal. I believe, however, that arrangements can be made, so that we may have that equal treatment, which is suggested at the beginning of this Bill and so that all children may benefit and all authorities get the same chance to carry out the provisions of the Bill.
§ Mr. Murray (Spennymoor)
I have great pleasure in supporting the hon. Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins). I came here fully prepared to support the Amendment in the name of the hon. 1858 Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins). I, personally, think that the suggestion made in that Amendment is long overdue. If the authorities in Wales, and those in other areas placed in a similar position, are to perform, after this war, the great services asked of them, they must have a fair and equal chance to do it. There is no need for me to beat about the bush. If the Government get the Bill, and I hope they will, it means for the authorities a great amount of responsibility. It also means that they will get a bigger job of work to do, and if we, in Durham, are to play our part in the great scheme of things, then we must, of necessity, have greater financial assistance. It will not add to our prestige here in this Committee if we, as legislators, pass a great Measure like the Education Bill without making it possible of administration by the local authorities.
Taking 1938–39 as the basis, the rates levied in this country for higher education by the different authorities varied considerably. I give three instances of county councils. The Durham County Council elementary education rate was 5s. 2.5d.; Oxford County Council 3s. 5.14d.; and Surrey County Council is. 8.93d. For higher education, the figures were: Durham is. 3.75d.; Oxford 11.22d.; and Surrey 5.51d. The total, for both higher and elementary education, was 6s. 51d. for Durham, 4s. 4.36d. for Oxford—a difference of 2s. 1.39d.—and for Surrey 4s. 3.31d.—a difference of 2s. 2.44d. What happens in the case of the county councils also happens in the case of the borough councils, and I should like to give three instances in this case. The St. Helens elementary education rate was 4s. 3.1d.; that of Bradford 2S. 6.9d., and that of Eastbourne 1s. 2.1d. For higher education, the figures were: St. Helens 1s. 7.9d., Bradford 1s. 2d., and for Eastbourne 3½d. The total education rate, for both higher and elementary education, was 5s. 11d. in St. Helens, 3s. 8d. in Bradford, and 1s. 5.6d. in Eastbourne. The difference between the highest and the lowest is 4s. 5.4d.
It must not be thought that the wide difference in the rates levied for elementary and higher education is due to extravagant administration or even to the provision of more expensive facilities for education. I can speak with knowledge for the County of Durnham, because I have 17 years' experience on the Durham 1859 County Council and the Durham Education Committee; and I say without fear of contradiction that we always endeavoured to get the best value for the money we spent, and that not a penny piece of that money spent on education was wasted. If that is questioned, then I ask the Committee to examine the unit of cost for education against the charge made on the rates. The unit of cost in Durham was £15 7s. 9d., in Oxford £15 3s. 11d., and in Surrey £15 Is. 5d. For secondary education, the figures were: Durham £29 17s., Oxford £32 15s., and Surrey £28 13s. The Committee will readily see that the unit cost of education is thus practically equal, yet there was a difference of 4s. 5d. in the rates laid. In the three boroughs, you have exactly the same thing. In St. Helens, the unit cost for elementary education was £14 4s. 7d., in Bradford £15 18s., and in Eastbourne £14 6s. 7d. For secondary education, the cost was St. Helens £26 6s., Bradford £28 9s., and Eastbourne £28 6s. I do not think there is any necessity for me to argue this point. It speaks for itself.
I believe that different formulas are adopted to arrive at certain decisions, but you can take it from me that the man who has to meet a rate demand does not ask on what kind of a formula that demand is based. It does not interest him on what formula it is based. What interests him is how much money he has to pay in rates, and that is a thing that matters, so far as the people in Durham are concerned, and I should imagine that there is not much difference in humanity in many areas of this country when it comes to a question of paying rates. I understand that the Association of Education Committees has made several demands to bring about a better state of affairs and end this inequality, but without any result. I am very pleased to-day to have heard the Minister make the statement which he has made, and I hope that the prospect he has held out to the poorer authorities will bring some early fruit, because it is no use offering us a Bill with a 1944 outlook, if it is based on finances of a 1914 order.
I understand that the Kemp Report took as an average £3 as the annual expenditure per child to be educated in public elementary schools throughout the country. That was prior to the last war. In 1938–39 the annual expenditure per 1860 child at public elementary schools had risen by more than five times, namely, to over £15, plus a general decline in the average attendance. The Financial Memorandum contains the proposal of payment of additional grants to the poorest areas, but what worries me is, that the basis of distribution is not yet settled. I understand from the Financial Memorandum that in 1948–49 the estimated amount of expenditure on the poorer authorities would be about £900,000, and when the reform is complete it will rise to £1,300,000. Surely, it can be said: What is this among so many?
What was the position of the Durham County Council in 1938–39? Expenditure on education, apart from agricultural education and the provision of school milk and meals, was almost £1,900,000, of which the Government paid 58.3 per cent. by means of grant. What did they leave to be found by the ratepayers of the County of Durham? They left the huge sum of £790,000. The rise in prices, plus the cost of the reform, it is estimated, will increase the expenditure from £790,000 to £3,900,000 per annum. Of this 63.3 per cent. will be borne by the Government, leaving more than £1,420,000, as the annual cost of this part of the education service, to be borne by the ratepayers of the County of Durham when the reform is complete, or an increase of £630,000. I am advised that, after all adjustments have been made, Durham County will be faced with an annual education rate charge of £1,560,000, which is equal to a rate of approximately 11s. 3d. in the £, or an increase of 45. 9d. on the rate of 1939, when the education rate was 6s. 5¾d. This is subject to any additional grant we may be able to receive from the additional grants to be paid to the poorer areas on a basis yet to be settled. If the estimate of £1,300,000 for the whole country is correct, Durham County would require half of this amount if the grant is to be of any use at all.
If there is a willingness to assist these poorer authorities, on the basis of need and ability to pay, this additional grant may offer a solution. The principle has been accepted by Parliament on previous occasions, and is a factor in arriving at the amount of grant payable under several statutes. I understand that the Cancer Act of 1939 is one of these, and also the Midwives Act of 1936, and the Air Raid Precautions Act of 1937. I understand 1861 that under this formula the Durham County Council receives 85 per cent., as compared with 63.3 per cent. promised for education. The Government have decided to equip and standardise on postwar conditions, services for the country as a whole and have indicated the scale of expenditure required. Therefore, the Government could also decide the contributions which each local authority must make.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
On a point of Order, Mr. Williams. Is the hon. Member in Order in reading his speech to the Committee?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
It is a little difficult for anyone to tell whether a speech is being read or nor, because there are variations in the quality of reading. If we go into so many figures, from every locality in Great Britain, this Debate will take a very long time indeed. May I suggest that, instead of giving these innumerable illustrations on a matter which has already been covered by illustrations of many kinds in the last few hours, we should try to meet what I think is the general wish of the Committee, and come to a conclusion in a reasonable time?
§ Mr. Murray
Thank you, Mr. Williams, but these notes are used as far as I am concerned for guidance more than for reading. I have only been a Member of this House for a very short time and this is the first time I have spoken on the Committee stage of this Bill. I have got across most of the things I wanted to say and I thank you, Mr. Williams, for allowing me to do so. I have listened to the discussion, which has been on a very wide basis, and I thought I was following the lines of many of the previous speakers.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I said nothing about the hon. Member being out of Order, but suggested that possibly we were over-illustrating points in the Debate.
§ Mr. Murray
I have finished my illustrations. The Government have decided on the submission of a post-war education service for the country as a whole, and all I want to say is that, if they decide the scope of education, they ought to decide the contribution which should come from each local area and the average rate in the pound required. The total expenditure on the country as a whole, after deduct- 1862 ing the total Government grant to be paid, could form the broad basis for distribution, the rate in the pound to meet the gross unassisted expenditure of each local authority, being the criterion of its need. Education is a national service requiring local administration, but it is most inequitable that the cost should remain a local charge, without adequate consideration of the financial implication. Subject to proper safeguards as to standards and service, assistance must be given to local authorities by Government grant on a larger scale, coupled with a measure of rate equalisation, so that all the authorities contribute according to their ability to pay.
§ Miss Lloyd George (Anglesey)
I have no desire or intention to occupy the attention of the Committee for more than a few minutes. I am sure that the Committee welcome the fact that the Minister is willing and ready to meet hon. Members on this matter and has already made an offer of a concession. The question I would like to ask is, How far has the right hon. Gentleman in fact been able to meet the very real anxiety of the Committee on this matter? We are dealing with an issue which is fundamental; no less an issue than whether the child in a poor rural area is to have equal opportunity with the child in the better off area. The question we have to put to ourselves is whether the concession which the Minister has offered to the Committee is going to bring an end to the discrimination that exists, and will exist under the Bill as drafted, between the poorer rural areas and those areas whose resources are immeasurably greater. Is the grant formula as it is, or as it will be in its transitional stage, or as it is to be in the final stage, to mean that a child in Surrey—which has often been quoted to-day—and a child in areas where a penny rate produced only sums ranging from £600 to £700 a year, will have an equal opportunity if the concession which the Minister has promised is accepted?
I am not going to recapitulate the many arguments which have been used, and I am certainly not going to give any additional illustrations. But there is one point I would like to emphasise, because it has a real bearing on the grant formula. I refer to the very heavy burden which the poorer areas have to bear. It is not only in matters of education, though here 1863 their burdens are very much heavier because they are backward areas and their organisation is behindhand and they have far greater leeway to make up. Take an area like my own where there are an enormous number of small schools, with the consequent increase in the number of of staff required, the additional costs of maintenance and of conveyance in the rural areas—and that applies not only to Wales, but to districts in England as well. But apart from this, the fact that they are poor areas means that in other respects their burdens are so much heavier—in housing, and certainly in water supplies, in sewerage and in electricity, and in all those services in which, we are all agreed, there should be minimum standards for every community in this country after the war.
I do not myself think that those considerations are given sufficient weight in the grant formula as it is to-day. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary how much greater weight these considerations are to have in the grant formula in the transitional period. We do not know. We have no idea what the grant formula is to be in the transitional period, and what additional weight will be given to various considerations. I would ask the Parliamentry Secretary, therefore, to give us some indication on that matter. The President of the Board of Education has said that he realises that there is a very serious disparity. He has, therefore, said that he will meet us in some way or another. Apart from the grant formula, he says that he is going to distribute a sum which approximates to £1,000,000 and he is to add to that, I understood him to say, a sum to be distributed amongst poorer local authorities. If I am wrong, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the extra sum he is offering to-day is to be in the nature of £1,500,000 to £2,000,000 and that increased sum is to be distributed, as I understand it, between 3o and 40 counties in this country. That will not come to very much in each area.
I agree with the President of the Board that we really do want a flat rate as between one county and another. It would not assist the poorer counties very much if you had a flat rate, say, between Bournemouth and Blackpool and Mont- 1864 gomery and Merthyr. Everyone would like a too per cent. grant. Who is there in the world, or in this Committee, who would not? It would be a very substantial inducement, but I agree that there, again, you want to retain a live local interest in education and you want also to have a responsibility and a certain amount of control.
The right hon. Gentleman said that in the grant formula he was already taking into account two considerations. One was the number of children, and the other was the capacity of the area to pay. I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary this question: the capacity to pay for what? Is it the capacity to pay for this Bill, or is it purely the capacity to pay for bringing them up to the standard which rich areas enjoy at the moment? I would very much like to have a definition of what he means by the capacity of an area to pay, and I hope very much that he will give us that explanation.
May I say, in conclusion, that I believe the mere giving of a lump sum will not very materially assist, and I believe that unless there is some alteration in the grant formula this discrimination between the opportunities of a child in a rich and in a poor area will remain. The Bill will be a rich areas Bill, it will be a luxury that no poor county can really afford, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will bring the Bill within the means of all.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
The President has put us all in some difficulty in that we do not know what his regulations are going to be, and we are really talking about this backwards. Some of us had in mind to move to report Progress in order to extract some information from the right hon. Gentleman but, out of sympathy with him and to get on with the job, we decided not to ask you, Mr. Williams, to accept that Motion, but it does put us m a very real difficulty. I want to support the Amendment, but I do not think it goes far enough. I understood from the Chair that the preceding Amendments could be discussed with this Amendment and that is what I propose to do. I quite appreciate that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend on the front bench admits my Amendment as well. We heard from the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) a very able statement on the difficulties of the poorer areas. I want to 1865 make this point, in claiming that it is vitally important that more than the 50 or 55 per cent. contemplated by the Bill should be borne by the central authority. It is on this question of money lending. My hon. and learned Friend mentioned the difficuties he was in, but the point he did not emphasise was that in Montgomeryshire, as was indicated by the figures he subsequently showed, there would have to be no less a rate than 1s. 6d. in the pound in order to obtain the money which they will need to borrow, even as low as 4 per cent. I submit that a greater proportion should be borne by the central authority—I am not arguing whether or not we should nationalise the Bank of England, which is another matter altogether, but they could obviously borrow more cheaply, and therefore it would be to the advantage of the community as a whole. However, I do not wish to develop that. His point was that the children wil suffer in the poorer areas unless something is done. That is perfectly obvious to the Committee and to the Government.
The next point I wish to make is one I made in my short Second Reading speech. It is obvious that the country as a whole wants this Bill. It is no use Parliament passing the Bill and then finding, for one reason or another, that it is not implemented by the local authorities. The primary reason given by my hon. Friend was shortage of cash in the poor areas. That is a very good reason, but there are others, and people are seriously concerned lest, despite the obvious wish of the House as a whole to have this Bill and to have it implemented, we find ourselves frustrated in the country. I submit that that would be much less likely if we were to fix on the Government at least a 75 per cent. grant.
Earlier the President told us that whereas ultimately the increase on the rates would only be £28,000,000 per year the increase on the Central Fund would be £58,000,000. In 1943 the total rates collected were £196,000,000, and if you add £28,000,000 to that figure you do not have to be a senior wrangler to work out that the increase is 14 per cent. But there is a fallacy in the calculation which will no doubt he referred to later on the next Amendment. It is, that the whole of the figures are based on a 20 per cent. increase of cost. But the cost to-day is already up 105 per cent., and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us 1866 that prices are going to be stabilised after the war and there is not going to be deflation. What will be the result of that? The amount to be borne by the rates will not be ultimately £28,000,000 but something in the area of £58,000,000; in other words, an all-round increase in rates of 25 per cent. I say that we shall find difficulty all over the country in getting the Bill implemented because we shall have all sorts of cross-currents, political and otherwise, which will militate against its complete fulfillment. The fulfillment of the Bill is of national advantage, and I submit that this Committee ought to do all it can to make it possible—not by providing 100 per cent. grant, because the local education authorities ought to contribute something; but unless the Government take more on their shoulders, when the total cost to be borne by local authorities comes to be realised we shall find obstruction everywhere and we shall not get what we all desire to have.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Ede)
My right hon. Friend in the course of his speech made an announcement with regard to the desire of the Government to assist the poorer local authorities. There has been a suggestion in some quarters that part of the money which he announced might be used to give still further grants to the richer authorities. Let me endeavour to make the position quite clear to the Committee. In the Financial Memorandum the Government suggest that there should be a sum of about £900,000 made available, after the revised formula has been put into operation, for easing the difficulties of the poorer authorities. To that my right hon. Friend has been able to add a sum that I imagine, in the end, will amount to roughly a further £1,000,000.
§ Mr. Cove (Averavon)
A further £1,000,000 on the £900,000? Shall we have that in detail as it applies to the local authorities? Shall we have the picture of how it will ease the distressed areas?
§ Mr. Ede
That will give a figure of something not far short of £2,000,000. Not a single penny of that will go to the richer authorities. It will be dealt with, as my right hon. Friend said, in such a way as to ease the burden of some 30 or 40 of the poorest local education 1867 authorities out of the 146 local education authorities which are envisaged for the future.
§ Mr. Ede
The 30 or 40 poorest local authorities in this country are very well known. I will admit that perhaps when we get on to the border-line between those that are poorer and those that are poorest, there may be some doubts. My right hon. Friend made it clear that the exact formula on which this money is to be granted has not yet been worked out, but I have no doubt that with regard to at least more than half the authorities concerned, hon. Members acquainted with local administration will have no doubt as to which they will be.
There are, of course, many details which have to be taken into consideration in trying to arrive at this when one deals with the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) about capacity to pay. She instanced the problem that is very acute in her own county, the problem of the small school, which does undoubtedly considerably increase the cost having regard to the number of pupils. Clearly that is not a problem which so closely affects my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Murray) who spoke on behalf of County Durham. The burden which is placed on the local education authority, by its particular circumstances, including all the kinds of physical circumstances with which my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey dealt, will be considered in regard to the question of 1868 capacity to pay. It is clear, for instance, that counties with scattered populations have a far heavier burden to bear than a county with a similar number of children and a similar rateable value where the population is in larger towns and where the problems she mentioned do not arise.
Coming to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker), I do not think that in the discussion any hon. Member has supported the plea in the Amendment that there should be a minimum 50 per cent. grant. In fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins) suggested a minimum which I gathered might be as low as 10 per cent. or in certain circumstances even lower than that. The Government have no intention of reviving the old 50 per cent, grant that was placed in the 1918 Act. It would really have the most amazing effect if we were to do that. This is the one set of figures with which I propose to trouble the Committee, but it illustrates the difficulty which would be created for us if we endeavoured to resuscitate the 50 per cent. minimum. It would have the effect of reducing the rate in Surrey by 4d. in the pound. It would reduce it from 23.8d. to 19.7d. The rate in Durham with a 50 per cent. grant would be 70d. in the pound, and to reduce the Durham rate to 19.7d. would involve a percentage grant of 85.9 per cent. Quite clearly, we cannot, in the face of the discussion that has taken place here to-day, contemplate doing anything like that. We are endeavouring to enable the poorest authorities to shoulder the burdens that will be placed upon them. The fact that in the first two or three years, according to the Financial Memorandum at the commencement of the Bill, a minus figure is shown for the rates indicates that the first effect of the formula as included in the Financial Memorandum will be to reduce the rates in some of the poorest areas.
The further concession announced by my right hon. Friend to-day means that that process will be carried on for a year or two longer. In fact, it is quite clear that in the third year, which was shown to result in an increase of £500,000 to be borne by rates, the additional £1,000,000 or thereabouts will mean that in that year there will be a minus figure. In the next year, where the increase of 1869 £3,000,000 was shown, the increase will be only £2,000,000. I want to emphasise, in conclusion, that at no stage, either in the White Paper or the Financial Memorandum, or in the discussions of this Bill, have we ever called this other than a transitional grant—
§ Mr. Lindsay
Obviously, the present grant is transitional, but when will this transitional grant cease to be transitional, in 1945 or 1950? At what point do we move into a different arrangement? Further, the Parliamentary Secretary said that there would be reconsideration of the whole of this matter. Can we have a firm promise that that will be done?
§ Mr. Ede
With regard to what we mean by transitional and when it will come to an end, we regard this as a transitional period, firstly, because we are in the war period, and, secondly, because we are embarking on a new lay-out of education. We cannot tell when the war is coming to an end, but we desire to get away from the transitional period as soon as there is such a settlement of population and of the whole problem as enables us to get on to an arrangement that can be regarded as providing a reasonable basis for the future. We have no desire to continue the transitional grant formula for a year longer than is absolutely necessary.
§ Mr. A. Jenkins
I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say that it is estimated that an additional £3,000,000 of rates will be required. Under the proposal made to-day by the President instead of £3,000,000 it will be £1,000,000 and the £2,000,000 will be distributed among the poorer authorities. Is that what the Parliamentary Secretary means?
§ Mr. Ede
No, the first £1,000,000 has already been deducted. That was part of the arrangement in the Bill. I have said that there is, roughly, an additional £1,000,000, which reduces the £3,000,000 to £2,000,000. That is a perfectly clear statement. As I have said, we desire to get on to a permanent basis when the factors for such a basis exist. No one knows what the distribution of population will be. There are the problems of rebuilding in various areas and the probable shifting of large popula- 1870 tions from one area to another, which may very well influence the vital factor of the number of children to be educated in a particular area. One of the great difficulties of getting on to any permanent basis with regard to grants of this kind is the fact that there is no national basis for the assessment of rates. That is the overriding difficulty in regard to grants, whether for education or any other social service, which we are bound to take into account when we use the illustrations which have been used with such force to-day. I hope the Committee will now feel that, for the period immediately facing us, the offer made by my right hon. Friend is a reasonable one and that we shall get to a permanent basis for grant as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Cove
I gather that approximately another £1,000,000 is to be granted in relief of distress in the poorer areas. This £900,000 is a vague general figure; we have no details to show how this sum would affect what I will call, for convenience sake, the distressed areas. What a number of us here are concerned about is what would really be the detailed effect in some of those areas. Could the Parliamentary Secretary give us concrete illustrations which would illustrate what this £1,000,000 may mean in relief to these poorer areas? I am asking this because, as has been said so often to-day, this involves equality of educational opportunity. It is really vital, because everybody knows that if the poorer areas cannot sustain their educational system the children in those areas will suffer considerably. My hon. Friends and I would be delighted if we could be given, say, just half a dozen concrete instances—
§ Mr. Ede
Clearly, it is impossible to give concrete examples until the exact formula has been settled. It is easy to use phrases like the "number of children" and "capacity to pay," but the moment my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) began to analyse the second point it was quite clear that it is not a simple thing that can be applied by any rule-of-thumb method. A 1871 variety of factors have to be taken into consideration, but as soon as we are able to work out the formula the fullest information will be given to the Committee.
§ Mr. Cove
Do I understand that this £1,000,000 is being shoved into the Bill higgledy-piggledy? Is it an amorphous sum, which has been thrown into the Bill? Has there not been any formula? Has there not been any concrete basis on which this figure has been based? If so, it is an amazing situation to me, because we do not know how it will work out. Surely the Government ought to know how it will concretely affect the various areas, because this is an important question.
§ Mr. Butler
As I am responsible for the original statement, may I say how much I sympathise with the Committee and with myself? What would have pleased me more than anything would have been to have been able to read out a list of the areas, showing all the rewards which they were likely to get as a result of this formula.
§ Mr. Butler
My difficulty is that in the original concession made to the poorer areas the Government had to keep the matter general in case the formula worked out wrongly at the exact moment at which it was applied, thereby leading to disappointment and deception. That is my position to-day; I am not able to offer concrete examples. But I can say that we have gone to great pains to inquire into how this works. I have indicated a number of authorities which are likely to profit. I said that the poorer Welsh counties were bound to come into such a scheme and that other parts of England are also bound to come in. The areas where the money is most needed will get the extra sum allocated by the type of formula already announced. It would be wrong for me to go further than that because, as I have said, it might lead to deception and disappointment. It is not because I have not gone into the question 1872 of how the thing works out, because I have done so, and I always do so. I think it is in the general interests of the Committee that they should take the offer as I made it.
§ Mr. Cove
I agree that there was an announcement of a general formula, and I agree that it should remain as a flexible formula, but there is no formula so far as the poor areas are concerned. How is this money to be distributed? Personally, I am in favour of a general formula in finance as it applies to the educational services, because it has been a flexible formula, but I am not aware that either the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary has made a pronouncement with regard to a formula for relieving the burden of the distressed areas.
§ Mr. Butler
I did; I said that we should work out the extra additional help on the basis adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) and my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins), which is the number of children to be educated in the area and the capacity of the area to pay. That can be taken as the general criterion. I am more than sorry that I cannot give every detail to-day, but I will do it when the time is most suitable.
§ Mr. Parker
In view of the long Debate we have had on this subject—over 2½ hours—and the assurances given from the Government Front Bench and the general wish of the Committee to get on with the Bill, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I do not wish to refer to the past discussion at all; I only want to ask the President whether, as this is the first time in the history of the Board that research will be assisted from the centre, and as the country spends about £100,000,000 on education and has not spent a penny of State money on research before, he could give an indication of the general direction in which it is proposed to use this new instrument.
§ Sir John Mellor (Tamworth)
I want to ask one question with regard to Clause 93 (1 b), which authorises, in effect, the payment of a direct grant. I want to ask to what extent it is intended that the 1873 Regulations shall govern the reconstitution of the direct grant list. Is it intended that these Regulations shall deal with the matter in some detail, or only generally? If they are to deal with the reconstitution of the direct grant list in some detail, will the existing direct grant schools, and the schools which aspire to get on to that list, be given an opportunity of making representations to the Board before the Regulations are made?
§ Dr. Russell Thomas (Southampton)
What I intend to discuss is far remote from the discussions to which we have listened, but I trust I am in Order at this point in discussing the provisions made for teaching animal welfare in the schools.
§ Mr. Burke
May I put a point which I have been trying to get in all day? It appears that those authorities, not necessarily the poorest authorities, who have been doing their duty and have been complimented for carrying out the Hadow scheme as far as they could go and have done most of the things on the elementary side of education in this Bill, but who cannot go very much further because they have taxed themselves to the utmost, are apparently not going to be helped out of this pool of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 and, also, are not going to be regarded as the poorest authorities. Will the Minister consider the suggestion that has been put forward by the Association of Municipal Authorities that some means should be found of meeting the extra payment of teachers by bringing that into the formula that he is considering?
In my own authority we have not, for many years, appointed any uncertificated teachers. We have tried to get the very best, and we have taxed the rates to the utmost. It is impossible for us to go any further and yet we want to carry out the scheme under the Bill. This Clause is the crux of the whole matter. If the Bill is not to be a dead letter—and I would remind the Minister that the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees has already said that the Bill is dead unless the finances are improved—may I ask the Minister if he will give consideration to the question of teachers' salaries and introduce them into the formula, if 1874 not on the lines suggested by the Association of Municipal Authorities, by paying 66⅔ per cent., at least by doing something to meet the difficulties of those authorities who will not be regarded as the poorest, but who want to carry out the Bill but find themselves up against financial difficulties because, so for, they have done as much as they can possibly afford?
§ Mr. Butler
One or two points have been raised. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Burke) is quite right and the point he raises has already had the approval of the Board. The difficulty of making the grant to which he has referred in connection with teachers' salaries and which has been referred to by the Association of Municipal Authorities is that it would entail an additional cost which would accrue to the benefit of the richer authorities more than to the poorer. I am quite ready to say that this should be one of the matters to be investigated when the transitional grant formula is looked into, but I am not ready to say that it should be one of the features of the immediate years in which the Bill starts on its career. I am, however, very glad that the hon. Member has raised the point—the point has been brought to my attention independently—but apart from that I have nothing further to add.
My answer to the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Mellor), who has spoken on several occasions about the direct grant schools, is the same as I have given on two occasions before and during our Committee Debates. I have told the hon. Baronet before that these conditions would have to be severely governed by the Minister and such considerations as the financial status of the school would have to come into consideration and also whether a school serves a particular locality or a wider locality. The hon. Member was quite right to raise this matter, but, as I said on an earlier date, I cannot add anything to the arguments I used on that occasion.
§ Sir J. Mellor
I am asking quite a different question on this occasion. I am asking about the regulations. What is contemplated with regard to these regulations? Are they intended to be made in general or is it intended they should go into some detail and, if so, will schools on the direct grant list and those who aspire to get on to the direct grant list be 1875 permitted to make representations before the regulations are made? I have never asked that question before.
§ Mr. Butler
We shall clearly have to give a lead to the secondary schools during the course of this summer in order that they may make up their minds before we come to the regulations to which the hon. Baronet refers. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) raised the question of research. It is an interesting fact that Mr. Fisher, in his Bill, included no provisions for research, and the result was that the central authority, despite the well known wish of Mr. Fisher at the time, did not include any provision for research. We propose to use the definition in Clause 1 of the Bill to the best of our ability and to promote institutions, as the Clause says, for the purpose of encouraging a better education in the country. I already have before me an example of an organisation asking for money to aid research, and I hope one of the earliest acts will be to assist anybody desiring to encourage research. I do not think the central authority should do it all; the local authorities should do their part.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Clause 94 ordered to stand part of the Bill.