§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), perhaps I should say for the convenience of the House that I consider the Amendment in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) out of order, as going beyond the scope of the notice given by the hon. Member for Paddington, North when he was called upon in the House as a result of his success in the Ballot:To call attention, in view of the increased programme of investment in atomic energy plants, to the need to increase still further the number of scientists and technologists ".That notice dealt with the need to increase technical education at all levels, and that is the main purpose of the Motion which I am about to call him to move.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With regard to what you have just said, both the preamble to the Motion and the Motion itself speak of an increased or expanded programme of capital investment. I realise that my Amendment, which welcomes:the application of atomic anergy to the production of electricity and recognises that liberal finance must be devoted to this end including increased scientific and technical training, but regards the present programme as hastily conceived in a period of temporary oil shortage, inflationary in the proposed method of its financing and inimical to property and amenity interests in the proposed method of its executionwill not be called. I was wondering whether a certain latitude would be given in this debate to refer to that programme and to cognate matters.
§ Mr. Speaker
I must leave that to the ingenuity of hon. Members. I have no desire unduly to abridge the debate. But I would point out that in my view… the need to increase still further the number of scientists and technologistsis the main point, and, as explanatory of that, the hon. Member for Paddington, North has inserted the words… in view of the increased programme of investment.662 I do not think it brings the whole programme into the discussion. The programme of investment is given by the hon. Member as the reason for the main decision to which he is asking the House to come. But I should not like to prejudge anything. I shall listen with care and with sympathy to anything any hon. Member may say.
§ 11.8 a.m.
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington North)
I beg to move:That this House welcomes the announcement of an expanded programme of capital investment in the production of power from atomic sources; and considers that, in view of these developments, scientific and technical education at all levels should he expanded with the maximum speed.I would say at once that the first half of the Motion is no formality, as I think this House should welcome the announcement of the increased investment programme for a number of reasons. In my view, the most important reason is that the general public has welcomed this announcement as symbolic of something very much wider. I think that the general public has heard of this announcement with enthusiasm because, among other things, it relieves us all of some of the sense of guilt which has pursued us over the years owing to the fact that so much research on the subject has gone into the devising of weapons of war which horrify the whole world.
We have this sense of guilt, not only to the world and future generations, but also we have a sense of guilt in having condemned our scientists to the sort of work which has deprived them and the country of the opportunity of using their brilliance and skill for peaceful purposes. We have sunk to the level of the great tyrants of the past who, having got great craftsmen or artists to create something for them, then caused the craftsmen and artists to be mutilated or killed in order that they should create nothing more.
I am sure that the general public will follow with interest any consequential decisions of the Government to direct the attention of the country, especially the younger generation, to the need for more scientists and more technologists in the nation's fight for survival. This country has been told, perhaps too often, that it is fighting for its life, but there is no doubt that there was never a time when 663 it had to fight harder than it will have to fight now for the right to live.
This is a fight in which the only enemies are poverty and disease, in which there will be no great massacres and devastations, and in which the victor, unlike the victors of modern wars, can at least look forward to some prize, to a higher standard of living and a fuller civilisation.
There have been occasions from time to time in the history of the world when in one country or another one generation has had the opportunity to throw itself with enthusiasm into the struggle for more knowledge and richer living. One could refer to the great interest in scientific developments during the age of the great navigators when they wanted to tear the secrets out of the skies and find their way around the world.
One could refer to more modern cases. I have seen little boys in Yugoslavia, undersized because of the privations they had undergone during the war, having come straight from their partisan bands to live in tents, spending the day trying to build factories out of concrete, looking at skeleton factories as if they were great cathedrals and devoting themselves in the evening to the study of mathematics in the hope that they would qualify to become engineers in the industrial life they were helping to build.
We have had other times when society has not shown its regard for such enthusiasm among young people. One can remember it in this country. I remember that when I was very small I was attracted by the thrill of the possibility of becoming a scientist. The youngster who inspired me was a relative in a mining village. He was my schoolboy hero. Although. I suppose, he was not so big, he seemed to me so big and strong in his mining boots and trousers, and in his pit dirt, he looked fine to me. When he was washed and reclothed in the evening, he would talk to me with enthusiasm about the studies he was undertaking and would show me books about chemistry and physics and would tell me about Sir Humphrey Davy and the safety lamp, and about the geology he was studying.
He thought that mining was a man's life and that it was a grand thing to be able to produce something which the 664 world wanted. He made very rapid progress and soon became a deputy and was obviously to become a manager. But he was involved in an accident and when he had recovered, there was no work in the pits for him. The last I heard of him was in the depression when he was selling firewood in the streets of Nottingham. It can happen that society does not want the efforts of a whole generation of people to serve humanity. But that is not so today. The younger generation today has an opportunity to join in this new crusade for greater knowledge, greater skill and the fuller life.
I have made that point first, because if the problem is approached in that spirit and against that social background, the response will be very much greater than if one ignores the social implications. We shall not only have the advantage of the greater efficiency and learning which comes from enthusiasm to fight a cause and conquer ignorance for specific purposes, but we shall avoid two things; we shall avoid the danger of creating a sort of new monastic class of scientists who are apart from ordinary life and we shall avoid the danger which is regularly voiced by vigilant people like the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), the danger of neglecting the humanities in these days of scientific progress.
In considering the interest and importance of general cultural activities and the background to life, we can reflect that it was in the darkest days of the war, when we were all fighting for our lives and when many people had to devote themselves to learning fresh skills and accumulating fresh scientific knowledge, that general interest in the arts and humanities was greater than ever. It is no handicap to the flourishing of general culture that the mass of the public should be ardently engaged in scientific work, or hard work of any kind. Indeed, it is an advantage.
Having made that first point, I must lead on to the question of how far the announcement of this expanded programme in atomic power production is related to a comprehensive survey of our economy. The hon. Gentleman who is to reply is, for the moment, disguised as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, but, of course, we all know that he is steeped in the subject 665 of the general economic background and I hope that he will feel able to give some general views, if not some specific answers, on behalf of other Departments about the sort of negotiation which has taken place between one Department and another before the programme was announced.
It seems to some of us that the very announcement of the programme involves a consequential reassessment of the estimates of the needs of the country for numbers of scientists and technologists on which previous Ministerial programmes of expansion have been based. I should like an answer to that. We need to know not only the numbers of scientists and technologists actually required by these new plans, but the consequential effects upon and the demands of other industries.
The Government, as recently as a debate in the other place last November, declared their intention to accept the target laid down in the recommendations of the Zuckerman Report on scientific and engineering manpower in Great Britain. The Report is very easy to understand, if one works from the last page, as back benchers usually do when they get hold of White Papers. The last recommendation is perfectly simple. It is that we have to double the number of scientists and technologists. We can all understand that. But it modestly says that that is the minimum target and it bases that target on certain calculations in the body of the Report.
It bases it on the assumption, for instance, that the average expansion of industry will be at the rate of 4 per cent. and that the opinion of industrialists in general is that one needs a one-to-one ratio in the number of scientists and technologists. Of course, that is only an average and any programme such as that which has just been announced can considerably alter those proportions. The Report itself points out that the proportion of qualified scientists and engineers to the total number employed varies from one industry to another and it lists the highest proportions.
The Atomic Energy Authority requires 10.9 per cent. of its employees to be qualified scientists and engineers, whereas the Gas Council and area boards need only 1.2 per cent. In this new development. somewhere between the two there 666 will be a great shift in the demand. Aircraft manufacture needs 1.9 per cent., chemical and allied trades 2.7 per cent., and the electricity authorities 2.9 per cent.
We shall, of course, have to answer another question. Does this programme of expansion envisage any rapid revolution in the techniques of other industries? In other words, will it in the first place compete with other industries for the present supply of scientists and technologists and have the consequence that other industries will also need more scientists to cope with their improved techniques? The Report goes on to give some interesting figures about the proportions of people engaged in research and development in various industries. One knows already that 60 per cent. of the research and development done in this country as a whole is devoted to defence. That is an appalling proportion and I suppose the new Defence White Paper will imply some alteration of it. It might even be in an upward direction. It is an appalling thought, but it is extremely unlikely that it will stay exactly the same. Something will have to be said about that.
It is perhaps worth remarking that that figure is one-third higher than that thought necessary by the United States of America. It is rather a heavy burden which this country has accepted in comparison with its allies. That is not in the Zuckerman Report, but in the Zuckerman Report are interesting figures which show that, while above the average in research and development are industries of aircraft, electrical engineering precision instruments, rayon, nylon and so on, those with well below the average proportions engaged in research and development are the following: shipbuilding and repairing, railway equipment, iron and steel, non-ferrous metal and other plant and machinery.
It is an interesting list. We are not talking in the abstract now. This is not a debating society which happens to meet on Fridays in a place which is occupied for the rest of the week with more serious matters. This brings us right back to industries mentioned this morning, industries in which there are friction and strikes. Before this debate is much older someone will say rather sorrowfully that, admirable though these propositions may 667 be, we cannot afford them. How long can we afford a state in our industry where there is frustration, mutual suspicion and recrimination about restrictive practices and failure to bring methods up-to-date when the figures show us that these industries are not devoting the time and energy to research and development which h they ought to be devoting?
If we do not face this. the new developments in the other industries will drain away such scientists, technicians and technologists as are already at work in those weaker industries. I remember a building worker talking about his industry and comparing the cost of building a car and of building a house at the time when he was a boy apprentice and today. He pointed out that the relative costs of those two articles have been approximately reversed because of the technological attention which has been given to the problem of manufacturing motor cars and the failure to pay the same scientific attention to the problems of house building. For how long can we afford to neglect these industries which by their comparative inefficiency make us poorer and by the frustrations which result from them rend the country in two with folly such as we are living through at present?
The last figure I quote from the Zuckerman Report is that in the chemical and engineering industries the annual rates of increase are estimated to be 7 per cent. and 5¼ per cent. respectively. That is well above the 4 per cent. overall expansion. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to give some indication of the views the Government as a whole have formed about the consequential effects of this programme on the general balance of industry and the location of industry in this country and, consequently, the altered demand for scientists and technologists. That, I am sure, is the most important of the points —indeed the starting point—for a programme. It is obviously not sufficient to say that we are going to speed up the existing programme. The hon. Gentleman might also find time to tell us whether the Government have it in mind to devise some kind of shift of labour from the industries which at present are involved in the existing defence programme but which are likely to be re- 668 lieved of many of their responsibilities in the near future, and how far scientists and technologists will be available there.
When he has answered those questions and given us the background of this announcement as the Government see it, we shall be able to estimate—no doubt he will help us to understand—how far the existing programme of expansion needs modifying as well as expanding. The programme of doubling the numbers —the programme accepted by the Government—is fairly easily examined under the various headings as to where students are to be taught, who is to teach them and—most important of all—where they are to be found. The problem of where students are to be taught needs some examination by the Parliamentary Secretary today. Announcements were made a year ago of building programmes.
No doubt the hon. Gentleman will tell us how far they have been adhered to, but I thought it a little disquieting to find, from the announcement the Chancellor of the Exchequer made recently about the money to be made available to the University Grants Committee, that it was not possible to draw any encouraging conclusions about the rate of expansion at university level he had in mind. I hope that the hon. Gentleman may be able to correct that impression, but it certainly did not look as though there was to be a great surge forward there.
The problem whether students are to be taught full-time, part-time, during the day or during the evening also needs a great deal of sorting out. I think it will have to be put much more convincingly to the generation we are trying to attract into this programme before they will commit themselves to what now is a most onerous commitment and programme of training. When one realises that, in order to get professional qualifications, young men have to commit themselves to something like eight years of work extra to their normal work earning their living, one has to think again. We have read about past generations and how long it took a doctor to qualify, or how long it took an ordinand to become qualified for the Church.
We are expecting far more than that now of youngsters, who very often are open to derisive comment from their fellow workers who find an easier way to 669 earn a quick living than by committing themselves to a programme which means that they will not be professionally qualified until they are nearly 30 years of age. This will do no longer. We must recollect that in living memory a working man was adult and mature at 18 and in many cases was earning as much as he would ever earn in his life. He could contemplate the normal commitments of marriage and home life, but now, under this system, he must apparently put them off indefinitely.
We cannot continue with a programme in which the age of 21 apparently has no significance whatever in the ordinary person's life. It does not mean that he has become an independent, fully qualified adult. It may mean that he is charged before a different kind of police court or that he can exercise a vote, but it has long ceased to have any meaning at all in relation to his status in the community.
We ought to show that we do not intend to continue for ever expecting people to undertake these studies in the inconvenience of evening classes, when sometimes they have to travel long distance and when they are tired after having done a day's work. We want to know a little more about the Government's proposals in this respect.
There have been some circulars recently which have had reference to it. Under Administrative Memorandum No. 545 there appears to be a tendency to restrict the number of institutions which can carry on advanced technical and technological courses, and it may be that some of these courses will have to stop. but we should like to know what the alternative is.
Most important of all in this respect, there is some confusion in the mind of the ordinary reader about the statements made by the Minister and others on the progress which has been achieved towards the target of doubling the number of students. Considering, first, the question of part-time day students, as recently as 15th February the Minister said that there will be 20,000 students in training, of whom 14,000 will be enjoying the ham of their sandwich, in his phrase, which means, presumably, that there are 6,000 part-time students. If we assume that they are on two-year courses, that is an output of 3,000 a year. It was said in 670 the House in March last year that the output from part-time courses in 1953–54 was more than 8,000, which seems to imply about 20,000 students.
According to the White Paper, the plan is to double the number of part-time day students. These figures cannot be reconciled. Is a figure of 6,000 part-time day students a doubling of the number? If so, does it mean that the present number of part-time day students is only 3,000 out of 20,000? If so, we have to look for a much greater number in other courses.
We ought to know a little more about what progress is being made in the sandwich courses. According to the Government's announcement in the House of Lords debate, it is the intention to expand university numbers from 84,000 to 106,000 students, an increase of 22,000, of whom two-thirds will be scientists and technologists. That will be an increased output of about 4,600 per annum. The Zuckerman Report sets the target as the need for an increase of about 10,000 per annum, which means that we must get 5,500 out of the technical colleges. The sandwich course runs for four years—six months alternatively at work—to make a total of two years full-time.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
Three to five years.
§ Mr. Parkin
The number of students required in training will be 22,000, therefore, which is 50 per cent. more than the number given by the Minister last February, when he gave a figure of 14,000. In order to meet the target we need 22,000. Will he tell us how many are taking sandwich courses? It may be a startling figure. The Government's own figures were very low; possibly they are not more than 2,000 now, and that means that we need a tenfold increase. That, in turn, means that we are on the brink of a shocking breakdown of the programme, does it not?
The Government ought to have some views about that and they ought to tell us whether they have done anything more about day release than appeal to industry. In my opinion, the question of sandwich courses needs a thorough reorganisation and it would be a good thing if the Parliamentary Secretary went to his advisers, pretended he knew nothing 671 about it and asked them to explain why and how they had come to the present arrangement.
§ Sir E. Boyle
If it would save time I could give the figures of sandwich courses now. In the academic year 1955–56 there were 103 courses with 2,327 students. I have not the number of students for 1956–57—we have Bradshaw difficulties in the Ministry of Education, too—but there are 169 courses as against 103 courses in the previous academic year.
§ Mr. Parkin
That means that the number of the students on sandwich courses is still less than 5,000, and I gather from the comments of my hon. Friends that, having heard these figures with intense interest, they are trying to work out the implications. The first point which occurs to me is that the number of people in a course is distressingly small and that the course will be wasteful. Only a few days ago I met some one who had been teaching at a course in which there were four students, so that the course was completely wasted.
We have not the recruitment and the programme properly worked out. It is very unlikely that six months at work and six months on the course is the ideal arrangement. It is purely arbitrary. Indeed, it sounds too good to be true. In fact, it is a purely arbitrary suggestion made by somebody in order to make a start. How does it fit in with the needs of different industries? Surely different industries must have different circumstances in which different arrangements might be useful.
This is almost the only example we have of the attempt to expand day release in this country, and we have not done well enough. We are committed to day release and continuous part-time education but we have done nothing except appeal to industry. Will the Government tell us how the appeal is getting on? We knew quite well that in some respects it has been very successful. I should like to pay tribute to some of the industrialists who have taken immense pride in the way in which they have arranged day release for their students and their apprentices and have built up their apprenticeship schools and their relationship with the local tech- 672 nical colleges. It is invidious to name examples, for one can choose them only from the people one knows. I have no doubt that hon. Members are well aware of the work which Sir George Dowty at Cheltenham has done, but he would be the first to admit that he could not be doing what he is doing now if he were at the stage in his organisation which he had reached in 1937 or 1938. It is not that he has changed personally; it is simply that his organisation is now big enough to carry out the schemes which he wishes to carry out.
The figures of the distribution of industry show how difficult it will be to get industry as a whole to give any sort of equal response to this appeal. It should be noted that 96 per cent. of establishments employ less than 500 workers, and more than half of our workers are employed in such establishments; and the figures are equally impressive in the case of establishments employing less than 100 workers.
The Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation has surveyed with a certain unfriendly neutrality the move the develop group apprenticeships. I do not know whether the Minister can tell us anything about that today, but I believe there is a little hold-up in the development of those schemes. Of course, those schemes are immensely important. An engineering association was formed during the war to look after some of the needs of the many small firms in the engineering industry who were coordinating their efforts to war production. That association has backed a scheme of group apprenticeship to give the smaller firms a fairer chance, not only of recruiting apprentices but to give them something like the all-round training they would get if they joined one of the comprehensive schemes organised by the big firms. That wants looking at.
There is even more to it than that. Reverting to what I said earlier about the burden placed on the younger generation, surely it is a psychological error to keep on deferring the age at which a child can get the satisfaction of doing useful, creative, positive work. We have had, of course, to struggle hard—sometimes bitterly—to prevent little children from being exploited in part-time drudgery while they were still at school. We have had to 673 fight to extend the school-leaving age and to prevent schoolchildren from earning wages at the same time.
That is not at all the same thing. It is very interesting to note that at a time when we are facing, or ought to be facing, this problem in general, when Royalty visits Harrow to see if that school will do, they are taken to see the pigs. The greatest educational authorities and the best teachers have realised what a mercy it is that boys can find some outside activity to undo at least some of the harm that teachers have inflicted on them in the class room.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)
As a science specialist educated at Harrow, I would point out that there is a modern side to the school.
§ Mr. Parkin
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will find an opportunity to develop that point. I was merely quoting from newspaper reports of what happens when parents of prospective pupils are shown round. I am sure that this sandwich course is not only a problem to be looked at on its merits today, but may be a pointer to fresh developments in education in years to come.
On the question of providing teachers, I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look at the possibility of some sort of inquiry into the methods used in teaching mathematics, not only in this country but all over the world. We are reaching a stage when it is almost endemic—one finds case after case of it—for young men to say "I cannot go any further in my career"—or in their evening classes or their part-time courses —"because I did not do enough mathematics at school."
They come to a dead stop—yet there are more and more industries and skills in which a knowledge of mathematics is required in order to reach full qualification. If one look even at the handyman or the village craftsman of today, the equivalent of the tinker is probably the radio man or the electrician working on his own as an odd-job man. The requirements have changed in a generation or two, and we are getting to the stage in our civilisation when it is more important to he able to reckon that it is to be able to read. There are all sorts of mechanical devices which can get one over the latter difficulty.
674 This is, of course, no reflection on the mathematicians of today. It has happened before. It has happened in my own specialisation. I have, of course, the greatest respect for the classical teachers who found the way to teach modern languages in English schools. They produced some excellent results, and were able to say that they produced scholars at our universities who had not their equivalent in the world. But the time came when, in a few years, there was a complete revolution in the teaching of languages. Old methods and text books were then scrapped, and there was a new look.
The time has come to do the same for mathematics. A sub-committee of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education drew up a report on mathematics teaching, and it certainly contains some startling things. For instance, it states that the proportion of women students at training colleges who specialise in mathematics is such as will leave about six schools in ten without any teacher qualified in the subject. If we do not inspire the teachers in the training colleges we shall not get it anywhere in the schools.
The Report goes on:A very large proportion of women students actively dislike mathematics and even among the 46 per cent. who have passed in the subject in G.C.E., there are many who display gross incompetence outside a narrow range of stock examination routine. Training colleges will have to convert their students before they can hope to provide the kind of teacher who is so urgently required …The Report adds:At 54 out of 75 women's training colleges none of the education lecturers is either a mathematician or a scientist and in 25 women's colleges there is no qualified mathematics lecturer to take over the students who are really backward.It also says:… only one grammar school in four is likely to enjoy the stimulus of being taught mathematics by men similarly qualified to those who teach arts subjects.That is the conclusion reached from examining the quality of the degrees obtained by those concerned.
This is, perhaps, the biggest single factor in improving the basic training for the programme we need, and it should be remembered that this venture which we are undertaking is one which will not 675 cost the Ministry anything. The Parliamentary Secretary does not need to get up this afternoon and promise to build a lot of extra colleges for training mathematics teachers, but he could have some sort of Departmental survey or inquiry made, or at least accept frankly the necessity for some such revolution.
I have detained the House for too long, but I would ask its indulgence to make one last point. It is sometimes thought that there is a conflict between the Welfare State and a high investment programme. It is sometimes said that the party on this side of the House is divided between those who want to consume and those who want to invest. Surely the subject which we are discussing today is proof that that is not so. If we are to have a high capital investment programme, we must have a high human investment programme, too. Of course, as a Socialist, my object in advocating the development of the Welfare State is to release human personality and to free people so that they may have a full life.
The answer that is sometimes given is. "That is all very well, my boy; we agree too. But we cannot afford it." But surely we cannot afford to get less than the best out of our people. After all, we have no more resources in this country now, except the skills which are in the brains and hands of our people. The educational programme is one in which we are investing in the people of Britain. The catchment area to that investment programme has been nowhere wide enough up to now. We are not getting the recruits we ought to get from the secondary modern schools. We are not getting them from the girls either—another point which might well be developed.
In this connection, we ought to stop saying that girls can do this subject but cannot do the other subjects by natural aptitude. That is all silly nonsense. We know, for instance, that in the great surge to man the radar stations during the war, girls were as good mathematicians as anyone else, and sometimes better. But what is perhaps important is that one should encourage girls to take the sort of jobs which can in later life be done part-time. That is the only distinction that one ought to have in mind—not that 676 they should be asked to take jobs which differ from other jobs because they are women, but that they should take jobs which differ because they are likely in later life to have their careers interrupted by marriage and the rearing of children. In that respect one ought surely to widen the catchment area.
The other day I had a letter from the Minister of Health on the subject of medical auxiliaries which, the letter said, was a matter of great concern to the Ministry. The Ministry was worried about the recruitment of radiologists, and the letter ended by saying something which I am sure reflects the Treasury belief. It said that the problem is one of competing for these small number of suitable young men and women in any generation. In other words, the Treasury says, "Do not offer them any more because if you do you will be attracting them from another Department." That is a completely defeatist attitude.
The range from which we can recruit people is much larger than has been envisaged up to now. For that reason I am moving this Motion with the plea that, while welcoming the investment in power stations, we should also invest in the people of Britain.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
I beg to second the Motion.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) on having the sense to raise this subject on a Friday when we have time to discuss these matters in a rather more leisurely atmosphere than normally.
I regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have not found it possible to call the Amendment in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), because I should have liked to have heard some of the arguments he intended to advance. The noble Lord is a reactionary in the true sense of the word. He would like to turn our society back to what it was in the eighteenth century. No doubt, he would like to see a Britain of the kind which was enjoyed by his aristocratic ancestors. Unfortunately, it is not possible to develop the sort of life which our people are going to demand without some sacrifice of amenity; but we shall avoid that sacrifice of amenities which occurred when the noble Lord's ancestors 677 were in control of the life of the country. If we ever again make such a mess of our country as was made during the Industrial Revolution, I shall be extremely surprised. This does not mean that those of us who support programmes of this sort are Philistines, and I hope that this programme will be developed with due consideration to amenity.
The other part of the noble Lord's proposed Amendment amounts to a strong criticism of the Government for lack of what I might call any good housekeeping. This takes us back to 1955, when the Government injected into the economy a large number of investment projects without adding up the bill. In so far as this is an attack on the Government for lack of any economic planning, I agree with him, but I would not expect such an attack to have come from the noble Lord who, no doubt, would like to return to a more laissez faire society.
As my hon. Friend has said, planning of investment means planning of the human as well as of the purely physical resources. This is the peg on which he has hung this debate on technical education, which arises, in the first place, out of this great expansion of the atomic energy programme. Nobody can doubt that in addition to steel, heavy engineering equipment and so forth, a very large increase of scientific and technical manpower will be required in the programme.
Sir John Cockcroft told the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee the other day that he did not think there would be any difficulty in recruiting the technical manpower needed. Ordinary types of engineers, for instance, could be used after three months' training in the atomic energy programme, and at present 180 students a year are going through the Harwell Reactor School, although half of these come from the Commonwealth and overseas countries, and while they will be valuable to our exports, they will not make much contribution to our own programme, The Imperial College has a one-year post-graduate course in nuclear power engineering, and technical colleges are already giving short periods of training.
I have no doubt that the Atomic Energy Authority and the British Electricity Authority will get the scientists and engineers they require, because this 678 is the glamour boy of modern industry. The real point, as my hon. Friend pointed out, is at what expense? The fact that these bodies will get these people does not mean that there are sufficient scientists and technologists in this country, or that they are being produced fast enough. This is no time for complacency. Our whole future depends on the speed at which we can turn scientific ideas into new products or into an improvement of old products.
Our exports are increasingly in the field of engineering products, chemical products and so on, which require a high degree of scientific research and technological development in their production. As my hon. Friend pointed out, the industries in this country which are lagging are those which employ insufficient highly trained technical and engineering staff or scientific staff, such as textiles, machine tools, I am afraid motor cars and, it may be, shipbuilding, which undoubtedly has an inadequate quality of management, however well served it may be technically.
We have also to face the fact that, being a free country, we cannot prevent our young men and women going into what industries they will and to what countries they will. Anybody who looks at the advertisements in the newspapers or who discusses these matters knows that there is a great attraction to go to other countries, particularly the United States and Canada. The rate of emigration of this type of young man is increasing, we cannot do anything to prevent it. although there are, of course, some advantages in it.
I might make one small suggestion—a kite which I flew myself while in Canada recently, and which was not very well received—and it is that instead of trying only to raise their own level of production of engineers and scientists in Canada, they might make some contribution towards the expansion of our own universities and technical colleges, since Canada and such places are likely to get quite a proportion of their products.
It has become the practice in the last few years to compare what we are doing in this field with what is being done particularly by the Americans and the Russians, but we know that there are very great difficulties in comparing standards. The last annual report of the 679 Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy recommended that a study might be made of the various systems of training engineers and scientists in different countries. There has been a very serious failure to conduct research, particularly into the training and education of engineers, and to some extent this is a failure on the part of the professional institutions. The only exception I can make to that criticism is that there has been a growth in the last year or so of papers presented to the institutions and articles published in technical journals making comparisons with what goes on in this country and in other countries.
When making these comparisons, we must not only think of America and Russia, because it may well be that we are behind some other European countries as well. By comparison, the Americans are more forward in this sort of study. The American Society for Engineering Education conducted a survey in 1955, the report of which was, by implication, very critical of what was taking place in engineering education in the United States. As a result, standards of engineering education rose, and some universities and colleges have lost the accreditation by which they are able to award degrees.
The basis of the criticism was that the engineering courses needed more basic and engineering science as well as a higher proportion of the humanities and social sciences and less purely technical instruction. The point I want to make is that in all countries the standards of technical and technological education are rising all the time. We cannot stand still and, if we were behind before, we shall be behind again in the future if we do not continually raise our standards.
As to the Russians, I think there is general agreement, after a number of visits paid by scientists and engineers to Russian universities and technological institutions, that their standards are very high and the number of students they are passing quite fantastic. Members may have seen a report of the National Coal Board which pointed out that in the mines of Russia there are 4,000 graduates and 13,000 technicians of the standard of our Higher National Certificate. These figures are fantastic when compared with the numbers employed in the coal industry in this country.
680 We can conduct an argument ad nauseam about the level and type of technological education required in this country, whether we need to produce the highest level of applied scientists for advanced research and development work, looking towards application in ten or fifteen or twenty years' time, or whether we want the practical men who can quickly go into engineering works and be put straight away on the design board and be able to put into practical design a new project or scientific development in such a way that it can be quickly and easily manufactured or quickly and easily operated.
The real trouble about this country is that we need them all. We need to raise the numbers of the top-level men, and we undoubtedly need more engineering designers. It is time that we had, as it were, a progress report from the Parliamentary Secretary on what is taking place as regards the Government's plans. My hon. Friend asked a number of questions, and I hope to ask one or two more.
I start with a passing reference to the universities. There is a disquieting report by the University Grants Committee which implies that the universities are resisting any further expansion in their scientific and particularly their technological faculties. We still await the final proposals of the University Grants Committee, and I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary, whose field this is not, has anything yet to say on this matter.
There is another matter in regard to university education about which I should like to ask. That is what consideration the Government are giving to increasing the number of grants for post-graduate instruction, not research, but instruction. I know that powers were given in the recent D.S.I.R. Act to increase the number of awards which that body could give for instruction, or rather I think it was the first time that they were entitled to make awards for instruction as apart from research. The numbers of awards made at present are quite insufficient in view of the fact that we shall have an increasing number of people going back into the universities from industry to take courses in these very advanced and new technologies.
681 The Parliamentary Secretary, in an interjection while my hon. Friend was speaking, gave the figures of the number of sandwich courses now operating at advanced level, and he also gave the figures of the number of students last year, although, of course, he said that it was not possible to give them for this year. I cannot quite see why. I should have thought that it was not quite so complicated as Bradshaw, and the numbers are relatively small. The figure which it would be most interesting to have would be the figures of this year's entry of first-year students and perhaps we could compare those with the figures last year. If he gives the figures of the total numbers without breaking them down into years, it is difficult to know what is taking place. Can he tell us how many courses have been approved for the new diploma in technology, and can he tell us more about the relations between the Hives Committee, the award-making committee, and the University Grants Committee? I suggested a year ago that there should be a closer relation between the two in order to ensure that there was co-ordinated expansion of technological education. Can he also tell us whether there has been any agreement with the universities about the acceptance of the Diploma of Technology for post-graduate work in the university?
While dealing with the Diploma in Technology, may I say that I have heard some rather disturbing reports about the lowering of its standards. It was originally announced that this was to be the equal of an honours degree, although it is true that there was also some talk of making an award which would be equivalent to a degree at ordinary level. Is this still to be the case that the Diploma of Technology is, on the whole, to be at honours degree standard? In my view, we cannot afford to lower the standards of the diploma, especially in view of the resistance of the universities to any increase in technological education in the universities.
May I also ask if the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied with the composition of the Boards of Studies responsible for approving the courses. We certainly shall not get an award of high enough standard and courses of high enough standard if the members of the boards of studies responsible for approving awards 682 and courses are not those people who have the kind of very high level outlook which will be required for this work. I think that is a matter which the Parliamentary Secretary might look into.
I should also like to ask him what steps the Government are taking to increase residential accommodation both in the universities and these new colleges of advanced technology. In passing, I should like to congratulate Messrs. Vickers Limited on having provided a hall of residence for the Imperial College. There is no doubt that at the present time most of our provincial universities, as well as our technical colleges, have far too little residential accommodation. In London University, in particular, it is almost negligible.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary also say something about the progress of out-county awards, which is a very important subject, and whether it is still a fact that some local authorities are resisting the idea of allowing students to go to colleges outside their own boundaries. This may be partly due to the very difficult position today of local authority finances and the difficulty that local authorities are having in developing colleges to the right level.
We may have to face the problem that the local authorities will not be able to afford to finance colleges of advanced technology, and especially is it going to be so under the new system introduced by the Government of a block grant. There is, on the other hand, a danger of every local authority wanting to have a few courses in its technical colleges at this level with only a few students and, consequently, a great waste of teaching resources. I think that the time has come to look at the matter boldly again and to make the further advance which is almost inevitable and quite logical.
We should turn these colleges into university colleges. After all, the Polytechnics in London are already internal schools for degree purposes of the University of London. We could associate each of the colleges of advanced technology directly with a university for degree purposes and turn them into university colleges. Then they would receive grants from the University Grants Committee or in some other way, which does not matter so long as they come from the central Government. We shall want to hear something about teachers. 683 For the advanced teaching work, I believe that the salaries of teachers in technical colleges have gone up substantially compared with the level in the universities, but I should like to know whether teachers at advanced level are to receive the same increases in salary as have now been granted to university teachers.
My hon. Friend referred to the problem of getting enough students. Here we are in what is by far the most difficult position. Certainly, the situation as regards teachers is difficult, but it looks as though we shall not get anything like enough students, and the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary himself confirm this. There is a very good reason for this. The Ministry of Education is trying to do the job on the cheap; it has tried to base the whole thing on works-based students and it will not work. As my hon. Friend said, it is all right for the large and progressive firms, but it precludes a very large number of firms which certainly cannot afford to do it. It has been estimated that it will cost a firm between £1,500 and £2,000 per student to put a man or woman through one of these sandwich courses. It is quite obvious that many firms simply cannot afford it.
Also, the numbers of students coming forward every year are likely to change with changes in business conditions, and this makes it quite impossible for the authorities of the colleges to plan their courses. There is also a considerable waste of talent in non-industrial areas where there are no businesses or industrial concerns capable of sending students to these sandwich courses. In my view, it is essential that any student should be entitled to apply to any college of his choice, and, if admitted, to get a grant or award in the same way as at university.
There is still a very great field of recruitment which we are not even beginning to touch. It has been said that between 5 and 10 per cent. of those taking Ordinary National Certificate have the intellectual ability and personal qualities to undertake a sandwich course. That alone would give us between another 1,000 and 2,000 technological students. About 10,000 students a year who pass the General Certificate of Education at advanced level in two subjects 684 do not go to university, and perhaps 6,000 of these who took science subjects are potential technological students. These are not enough by themselves; but, with the growth of the school population in the coming years, if we really work to make a serious attempt to recruit from these sources, we might get what we need.
Of course, needing more students as we do, we must increase the numbers staying at school to university age, and particularly the proportion of those doing science, among whom there is a very large number of girls who are perfectly capable of doing most of the scientific and technological work of industry. I would refer hon. Members to a recent excellent article on this subject by Sir Solly Zuckerman in The Times of 5th March.
Apart from students, the problem is mainly one of teachers, but, there again, when we turn our attention to the schools, we find the problem is not one of teachers only. The provision of science laboratories in local authority and aided grammar schools is just as important as it is in public schools. Industry has now built up a fund to provide new laboratories in the public schools, thereby, as it seems to me, increasing the privilege of those already privileged. This has been done on the ground that it is the responsibility of the Government and local authorities to provide such facilities in local authority grammar schools. In fact, of course, local authorities cannot do this and something more must be done by the Government if we are to get the science training facilities required in the grammar schools of the country.
I now want to say something about the provision of technicians, those essential aids to the applied scientist and engineer. There is a growing realisation in industry and research generally of the increasing requirement for larger numbers of these people, owing to the growing complexity of industrial processes. The Russians train their semiprofessional staff, as they call them, in technical institutions known as Technicums, and it is assumed in Russia that the need will be for something like four or five of such technicians for every professional worker. In the United States, 685 the President has set up a special committee to examine the problem, because in that country there are very few technical institutes where these people are trained, because, no doubt, this work has, by and large, been done by those who took first degrees in a large number of American colleges and universities. The Americans are considering a special two-years full time course for this purpose. In this country, we have always had training of this sort; in fact, we have had almost more of it than training at university level. It has been used as part of the ladder of promotion, via National and Higher National Certificate to professional standard.
The important point is that in Russia and in the United States the standard for technicians which is being aimed at is getting higher. In this country, many of our technical colleges where these people are trained are overcrowded and quite unsuitable and we must face the fact that much of the teaching is poor and unimaginative, and not of great use in developing the ideas of the young men who go to them. In fact, it is doubtful whether an evening course or even a one-day part-time course is sufficient by itself. We shall, in my view, have to consider sandwich courses for senior technicians, leading to the Higher National Diploma or perhaps the Dip.Tech. at ordinary level. I have no doubt that many of the courses to which the Parliamentary Secretary has referred are actually at this level and not at the higher level; but we need many more.
Finally, I must say a word about craftsmen. We must not forget that the types of industry upon which we shall depend in the future will themselves depend upon an enlarged craftsman base. The heavy sort of capital equipment we are now quite unable to supply to the rest of the world at the same time as having to supply it to our own industries, and our power generating programme will require many more men of this kind. I understand that the Ministry of Labour is conducting an inquiry into apprenticeship schemes, and this is to be welcomed. I should like to know when the result or report of this investigation will be available, and also whether it is likely to be published. I hope that it will be published, because the findings certainly ought to be made known.
686 It is my view that the time has come for compulsory day release for all young people. Hon. Members may have seen a report made by the Birmingham Productivity Association last year on what is done in Germany, where it is a traditional system. In 1954, 1,200,000 boys and girls, excluding those in higher education, were undergoing systematic training. This is to be compared with only 900,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 18 in this country in part-time and evening courses.
We should meanwhile encourage boys and girls at secondary modern schools to stay on at least another year until the age of 16, so as to bridge the gap between the present leaving age of 15 and the commencement of technical courses at 16, by developing school leaving certificates, perhaps by examination in association with technical college teachers. Such a scheme could then be of use in giving them exemption from the preliminary science course at technical colleges. In case some of my hon. Friends who are interested in general education have anxieties about this proposal, I am not suggesting that we should turn our schools into vocational educational establishments. I suggest that only in the last year or two at school there should be given some direction to the education which boys and girls are getting, which many of us feel is at present lacking in the secondary modern school.
In spite of all the discussion on this subject which has gone on both in this Chamber and throughout the country, I am not convinced that the change of attitude towards science, technology and industry which this country really needs if it is to keep ahead in the next 25 or 30 years has taken place. I want to remind the Parliamentary Secretary of something which hurt me and many of my hon. Friends very much. On the last occasion when I spoke on this subject, I was speaking for the Opposition on the subject of the shortage of scientific and technical manpower in 1955. The hon. Gentleman's noble Friend's predecessor, in his speech when replying to me compared scientists and technicians withartists, humanists and men who put spiritual values first."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 21st July. 1955; Vol. 544, c. 608.]By saying that, he gave very great offence to many scientists and engineers in this 687 country. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to speak today, he will do something to correct this very unfortunate impression.
§ 12.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) upon selecting this subject for today's debate, and I congratulate him and the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) upon their speeches. It is particularly important and appropriate that this subject should be discussed on a Private Members' day, because although the Government can give a lead in the matter and can do very important things, it is fundamentally a question of the reaction of the whole British community towards this large problem, and a great deal has to be done by a great many bodies and organisations quite apart from the Government.
I should like a call to go out from the House today asking all concerned with this matter to examine their programmes, and, indeed, their consciences, to see whether they are doing everything possible to advance the national interest in this sphere. Incidentally, that is why I think it was a pity that my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) tabled his Amendment. I do not want there to be any blurring in discussion and concentration on this subject as a result of the message which goes out from the House.
However, I feel that I might defend by noble Friend from the strictures of the hon. Member for Edmonton, who gave the impression that my noble Friend's family had been lolling in aristocratic luxury for many hundreds of years. If the hon. Gentleman had carried his investigations into a little more detail, he would have found that my noble Friend's family were stern supporters of Cromwell, and, therefore, my noble Friend has a revolutionary background. Also, we are speaking a great deal today about sandwich courses, and I would point out that the fourth earl invented the sandwich. Surely a man who did that and a family which did that is worthy of respect.
I wish to state my view about the relevance of the nuclear programme to the question of technological education. In the Ministry of Power there is a graph 688 on which is plotted the consumption of fuel and energy per head and the national income per head of the various nations of the world. The striking feature of the graph is that there is an almost exact correspondence between the levels of those two factors in the national life. Those countries which have a low standard of fuel consumption per head are the poor nations of the world. Those which have a high standard of fuel and energy per head—the greatest of all is, of course, the United States—have the highest standards of living in the world.
It is absolutely clear that, in modern terms, the technologies and the secondary industries which go to make up the high standard of living of a country depend more and more upon the primary supply of energy which is necessary for them to function at all.
What the nuclear power programme in essence has done for the future of our country is to remove a potential obstruction to the rise in the standard of living that can take place by the development of the secondary fuel-using industries and the development of the higher technologies. That is the best way to look at it
There is another tremendously important factor which was referred to by both the hon. Member for Paddington, North and the hon. Member for Edmonton. It is a point with which I very much agree. There is a danger to technological education arising from the very success of the atomic energy programme, because it is liable to lull the country into an idea that there can be nothing wrong with technological education when such a magnificent feat, which in this country is primarily a feat of applied science, has been brought off.
However, as the two hon. Gentlemen opposite mentioned, this is really being done by cannibalising the technological talent of the country. A very high percentage of our able young technologists, and, indeed, some of the senior ones, have been attracted to the atomic energy programme, and to that extent the rest of industry has been denuded of such services.
Consequently, we ought to ask ourselves what our position really is. We ought to compare ourselves with our 689 greatest competitor. Although I agree that we ought to make comparisons with other European countries, I believe that we ought to set our sights high. Undoubtedly our greatest competitor today is Russia. The figures that I would select as giving the proportion are those of the production of students of university standard in applied science. In 1954 the figure for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was more than 60,000, and in our country it was under 3,000.
Those are very serious figures. I know perfectly well that there are many refinements that one can make and that there are certain additions from students coming up through the technical colleges and so on, but still there is that stark comparison on which, after we have made all the adjustments, we ought to fix our minds.
I want to run through the three main sources that we have to consider. I am leaving out pure science, because, thank goodness, we are in a position to say that, although our numbers are not quite as large as they are in some other countries, the standard and number of first-class, really brilliant men that we produce is something about which we can be very happy. We do not need to dwell on those things today. Let us consider the practical questions of applied science and technology.
The Government plan to increase the output of university students by about 60 per cent. over the next five years. It is thought that about two-thirds of these will be scientific students. That is a big programme. It is pleasing to notice that new universities are getting their charters. Hull got its charter last year, and Leicester got its only last Wednesday. So progress is being made on that front. Although it is welcome, we know that it is not enough. Therefore, we have also got this great programme which the Government have brought forward for colleges of advanced technology. Although we may criticise it from various points of view, we must admit that in terms of this country it is a big programme.
What is more, it is rather a novel programme. Although sandwich courses were actually developed in Sunderland in 1903, they have been hardly practised in this country on a substantial scale in recent years, although they have been 690 practised abroad. Consequently, the sandwich courses in advanced technology are a really big new development in this country.
The sandwich courses depend, as the hon. Member for Edmonton said, on the maintenance of a high standard. We must all regard that as absolutely essential. They also depend on close co-operation with industry and on a high standard of staffing. I have the same views as the hon. Member for Paddington, North about the question of the six months. I have no doubt that there may be differences in certain industries, but I agree with the general idea of six months in the works and six months in the colleges. An important feature is that this shall not be haphazard but shall be part of a carefully prepared and integrated course in which both the works and the college play their due part.
In Birmingham, the works are paying for the student during the time that he is doing this work. I have kept closely in touch with the College of Advanced Technology in Birmingham. It started its work only last autumn, but it is making really very good progress. I believe it is the first designated college, and I think it is also the most comprehensive in the country. It is getting tremendous backing from industry. One feature is particularly pleasing. In the old days, when one went into a technical college, one often found rather antediluvian equipment, which is exactly the wrong thing to have in a college where one is training a new entry.
In Birmingham big firms have installed much most up to date industrial equipment with which the students can be trained, and they are co-operating in the secondment of staff. For instance, there have been occasions on which a member of the college staff has gone to America for certain technical reasons and industry has seconded a first-rate man to take his place for a time while he is away. I think the House will agree that that is very important.
We are going to raise a complement of about 2,000 students in a few years' time. The first batch is already in its third year now, and the first awards of the Diploma of Technology will probably be given next year, and they will be given, I believe, to students in electrical engineering. It is important to 691 remember that those men will have had not only training in electrical engineering but also in liberal studies and also in industrial administration.
I am very pleased to say that in Birmingham there is a tremendous degree of co-operation with industry, particularly in industrial administration. I think hon. Members will agree that that is a subject which essentially has to be kept to a really practical level, and that we must get the co-operation of the top men who are doing the job in industry itself. Therefore, I am very pleased to say that some of the top industrial executives in Birmingham are taking courses themselves and taking part in giving courses, in co-operation with the members of the staff of the college. I think that is really a very important development.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
Are those people taking part in the courses coming from small companies employing 200 or 300 people each, as well as from the large engineering firms?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am grateful for my hon. Friend's question, because it enables me to deal also with a matter which was raised by the hon. Member for Paddington, North. I think it can be said that co-operation with large-scale industry is now very satisfactory, and that the job now is to complete it by achieving an equally good degree of co-operation with the smaller firms, which, I agree with the hon. Member, is extremely important. That job is really only beginning and still remains to be done. Mainly, the people I have been discussing are people coming, from large firms.
It may be worth mentioning that later, on the same site or nearby, there will be colleges of art and of commerce, and they will share the same students' union facilities and the same residential facilities. I think the House will agree that that is a good thing.
I hope it will encourage industrialists in other parts of the country to know that there are three rare and valuable features in the Birmingham scheme at the moment. Industrial firms in Birmingham have contributed a special fund to enable students of the college to travel in foreign countries to gain experience of foreign industrial conditions and techniques. They also contributed to enable members of the college staff to travel.
692 The third feature which I think is interesting is that in the Birmingham College of Advanced Technology there is a special suite of rooms available for the professional societies of the electrical and mechanical engineers and so on, where they hold meetings in the college itself, and can create close relationships between the employers, the professional bodies, and the college.
I pass to the question of technicians. I agree with the hon. Member for Edmonton in believing that the general view is that for every technologist we need about five technicians. I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary can tell us what kind of proportion of technicians to technologists it is envisaged the Government's present plan will produce.
Here I should like to make a suggestion very much along the lines of what was said by the hon. Member for Edmonton. I suppose it could be said that the scheme of part-time day release has been of good service to the country, and that may be it still is, but after all it was started in 1921, a very long time ago, and I am wondering whether it is not out-moded because, after all, conditions have very much changed. Hon. Members have already mentioned and everybody knows that industry has become very much more complicated, and that higher standards of skill are required among the technicians, and higher standards of science are required, too.
We need to produce technicians with higher standards of management efficiency, because many of these men will be engaged in the lower levels of management and will need to know about management in addition to having their technical experience. Therefore, I suggest that we ought to consider a sandwich course of from two to three years duration which could lead to the achievement of a national technicians' diploma, and that this should be the particular concern of the area and regional colleges, and that the diploma should be for the technicians the equivalent of what the Diploma of Technology is for the technologists.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I should not like to cross swords with the hon. Member about what exactly the diploma should be, but obviously there should be a diploma, and a sandwich course would be a good way of raising the standards of the technicians' ability.
Also, incidentally, this plan would produce fully trained technicians quicker, because the present scheme requires four, sometimes five, years. I think this smaller full-time scheme would produce qualified technicians in three years. The practical working out of it would have to be carefully done, because the technician is engaged directly in the work of production and the productive machine would suffer if he were taken away from his work in the factory, particularly were he working in a small firm. It would be better to work a replacement scheme such as I have suggested.
We come to what, I think, is the heart of this problem, and that is the question of teachers, the teachers in these colleges of technology, in the technical schools, and in the universities. Perhaps the House will allow me very shortly to tell it of an experience I had of this very topic last year upon the other side of the world after I had led a Parliamentary delegation to Malaya and Singapore. I then visited Borneo, travelling up the rivers of Sarawak. The rivers are the only methods of communication in that country. I visited a longhouse of the Dyaks, a people who used to he called head hunters.
Because I was a Member of this House I was received with great ceremony. Dances were performed of a rather terrifying nature. I was asked to receive a communication from the pongolu, the headman of the longhouse, which is a hamlet of people who live in one long house. Above my head was a kind of openwork bag containing two or three dozen human skulls.
The pongolu made a speech to me of great determination and, indeed, of, fierceness. A little nervously I turned to the Resident Commissioner who was looking after me and asked, "What is he saying?" Somewhat to my surprise he replied, "He says they must have a secondary technical college." He added, "The difficulty is that the Dyaks are very keen on education 694 but do not understand that there is nobody in Sarawak qualified to give the education given in a secondary technical college." I am wondering whether this mistake may not be being made in this country as well, to some extent, at least in that we have not properly faced the measures which are necessary to produce a sufficiency of highly qualified teachers for our great technical schools.
Here again, I think one must look at the Russian experience, which is very striking, in that it appears that one-fifth of the whole class of technological graduates in any one year returns at once into the technological schools as teachers. What is happening, and it has been happening for many years, is that the Russians have been increasing their scientific teaching, so to speak, on the basis of compound interest, and, therefore, we get a situation in which, apparently, we have 20,000 student teachers in England and in Russia they have a quarter of a million. Therefore, we come to this very acute problem in education that it is vital to attract good teachers into the new colleges.
It is no good having in our technical colleges refugees from industry. We have got to have conditions sufficient to attract men who can hold their own in industry itself. One would like to see an extension of what is going on in Birmingham—a bit of movement backwards and forwards between the two. We cannot do very much here today, because, after all, Dr. Wilfred Jackson's Committee, we understand, is to report on this very subject quite soon, and we know that we could not possibly have a better man to study the problem, because he has a mingled industrial and academic experience.
I would associate myself with what the hon. Member for Edmonton said about girls. We are told that half the engineering teachers in Russia are women. Ought we not to move along in this direction? After all, three-quarters of the doctors in Russia are women, and one-quarter of the engineers in industry are women. Yet here we find that for every seven boys who pass the general certificate in chemistry, physics and mathematics, only one girl passes. Even the most rabid anti-feminist would not suggest that boys are seven times cleverer 695 than girls, and I think we ought to move along in this direction.
There is one other point on which I agree with the hon. Member for Edmonton. I think there ought to be more research today into technical education itself. Very little is spent on educational research at present, and practically nothing on technical education, whereas, as the hon. Gentleman said, quite a lot is spent in the United States, and no doubt in Russia.
I should like to associate myself with the hon. Member for Edmonton in congratulating not only Messrs. Vickers but other industrial companies which are playing quite a big part in helping with residential facilities and also in providing scholarships, and I should like to remind the House, if hon. Members are not aware of it, of an interesting fact which I learned recently about scholarships and how very rewarding they can be.
About thirty years ago, a Mr. W. H. Allen, of the Bedford engineering firm of Allen's, gave a single scholarship of £1,000, and that scholarship was won by a young man from Swindon called Christopher Hinton. What an investment it was, and how grateful we ought to be to Mr. Allen for what he did. What a wonderful satisfaction it must be to think of the tremendous advantage to this country which accrued from the scholarship taken up by Sir Christopher Hinton at Trinity College, Cambridge, which as we all know is a great centre of pure science and applied technology.
On the broad general subject, we cannot refer to debates in another place, and, therefore, I am precluded from mentioning an extremely important debate that took place there in the autumn, but I am going to do the next best thing. I hope hon. Members will excuse my mild embarrassment when I refer to a very notable article in the New Statesman in September on this whole subject. The reason why this article is so important—and it extended to four or five pages—is that, although the author is not mentioned and I am not in a position to mention his name today, it is known that the article was by a man of very considerable authority in this field, and that is why I commend it to the notice of hon. Members.
696 The point is really this. At the end of the article the author raises broad general questions in relation to the effort in this country on applied science and technology in relation to the effort that is being made in Russia, as to whether in fact this old community, with all its vigour and traditions, is capable of reacting with sufficient speed and energy to redress the extent to which we have fallen behind in technological education.
There is only one point I would particularly emphasise and mention to this House. It is said that of the really bright boys of the country—the alpha class boys, as they say in the educational system—probably eight out of ten are still reading non-scientific subjects. One would like the Minister, if he can, to tell us whether that is correct or not, because I say at once that if it is correct it is wrong. I would not want at all to revive that sterile controversy, as I consider it to be, between the arts and the sciences, but I was a little sorry that the hon. Member for Edmonton seemed to suggest that scientists were now despising the arts, which I could not think he really meant. I deny absolutely that there is anything fundamentally inferior as a mental discipline in scientific taeching as against that of the humanities. I would be the last to denigrate the humanities. I admire the humanities very much, but it is rather amusing that never has the cause of science been better served by the humane scholar than by the author in the article in the New Statesman, because it was so magnificently written and the point so beautifully expressed.
I am fortified in this thought by the fact that both Lord Waverley and Lord Cherwell, who are men of great authority in this matter, science is no whit inferior to the humanities as an intellectual discipline. Here again, although I do not wish to elevate the Russian system too much, it is rather interesting to see that in their scientific education there is appropriate weight given to the humanities, and it is mentioned that in the examination for the budding young scientists, one of the questions was "What was the source of the charm of Natasha in 'War and Peace'?" I can think of very few questions which could give a greater opportunity to all the ingenuity and artistic side on the 697 humane sciences than to give a very good answer to that question.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
But would not my right hon. Friend agree that that certainly would not be technological education?
§ Mr. Lloyd
No, but the point is really this. What we need is all-round education, and there is in this country too much education which is not all round, but is too much concentrated on the humanities and has not got that scientific element in it. It is a peculiar paradox that classical education goes back to the Greeks. Above all, the ark of the covenant of the classics is the Greeks, but the Greeks were the scientists, and I do not believe that the Greeks would have understood this kind of antagonism between the two.
So I say that I hope that the Minister will give us some guidance on this most important theme. If I may push the point home, this article was very interesting, but what it was really meant to do was to shock us and the community into making a greater effort, and particularly to shock the great organisations of education with the greatest prestige. We have a Minister and a Parliamentary Secretary, both of whom were at Eton and Oxford, and I conclude by saying that I hope that they will use their great influence to see, not only that this work goes on in Birmingham and Sunderland and everywhere else, but that also the greatest institutions of a traditional character should give that lead thoroughly and in a way which, in spite of all the changes that have taken place, can help us very much in a forward movement on this important subject.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) with growing admiration at each successive paragraph of his speech. I want to follow immediately the point he has made because, although it is not a matter about which Governments can legislate, on which they can produce a neat Bill or White Paper, it is of vital importance that our society should decide what education is meant to be about, and should try to get us out of our present difficulty, when we cannot decide what place science and technology ought to have amongst the 698 other branches of knowledge which make up education. It is worth while spending a few minutes on this major philosophical problem, although I trust I shall not speak for very long.
I think the difficulty is this, that if we go back some centuries in the history of our education we shall find that it was then cast deliberately in the mould of catholic theology. Certain theological beliefs were supposed to underlie the entire process of acquiring knowledge, and to give meaning and reason to it. That is no longer so.
Then for a time there was a belief that in some way the classical studies could do that, could give to the rest of knowledge a meaning and a reason and a purpose. The trouble with the classicists, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, was that they did not study all the classical authors, and that in some cases they got hold of the wrong end of the stick. If, for example, they had paid a little less attention—though one says this with great respect—to the writing of Plato and a little more to the writings of Lucretius, we might have a more balanced approach to education at the present time. Now we know that our education cannot be cast either in the old theological manner or in the classical manner that succeeded it.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Would the hon. Gentleman go with me one stage further and agree that if people had paid a little more attention to Aristotle's science, much of which was very good, and less to his philosophy, much of which was maddeningly nonsensical—and which I think he and I would agree in condemning out of hand—we probably would have got on rather better?
§ Mr. Stewart
I entirely agree with the hon. Baronet. Our difficulty now is that we have been obliged to reject both those bases, or philosophies, of our education, and have not really decided what is to take their place. Consequently, all our ideas about education are fragmented, and we talk about different parts of it as though they must necessarily be in conflict with one another.
I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) was fully justified in the comment he made on the remark of the President of the Board of Trade. I think perhaps that 699 it was no more than a slipping by the President into a fashion of speech, but it is a dangerous fashion to talk as if there were a distinction between scientific knowledge on the one hand and spiritual values on the other. Without being unkind, I am bound to say that if such a split is to be made it is not immediately clear in which camp the President of the Board of Trade will be.
It is also dangerous to talk about science and the humanities as if they were two distinct things. That seems to imply that there is something less suitable in a human being's studying science than in his studying other subjects. I suppose the correct anthithesis would be to speak of science and the arts, but it is important to realise that they can both be studied humanely. I believe that if one made an examination of people who have been prominent in any branch of learning, and if one put this question: is there any correlation between whether one has had an education mainly in science, or only in the arts, and one's capacity to see a problem on a great scale, to judge it fairly, to be in touch with the whole history and fortunes of mankind, I do not believe we should find that there is any such correlation at all today. I believe that liberally minded people are to be found as much in the ranks of those who have had a mainly scientific education as well as those who have had mainly a non-scientific education.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)
My hon. Friend will remember that it is just as common to speak of the art and science of engineering.
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes. I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I feel that I must depart from this fascinating topic, which we could happily discuss all day, because there are a few more mundane considerations to which we must give our attention. The Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) speaks of education at all levels, and it is particularly on that phrase "all levels" that I shall speak.
May I first put one question to the Parliamentary Secretary which I do not think it is really within his province to answer, but which he may be able to take up with his colleagues? Is there, in the organisation of the atomic energy 700 enterprise itself, sufficient provision for the education and training of the employees there? Any great concern today which employs a large number of people has within itself its own schemes either for providing education or for encouraging its employees to find out where they can pursue courses of instruction, and arranges for opportunities of promotion for people who are determined to improve their ability and knowledge. So, in trying to get the result in which my hon. Friend is interested, part of the answer lies, I think, in the enterprise itself, and not only in the schools and colleges.
We seem all to be agreed that this is a problem particularly affecting young people, from children of school age up to early manhood and womanhood. If we are speaking of education at all levels it means that we are thinking not only of the technologist and the technician but of the craftsman and the semi-skilled worker as well. Because I assume that it is the nature of the development of this industry that it will require armies and armies of people at all different levels of skill.
What is the position with regard to young people today? If we look at the report of the Ministry of Education it will enable us to acquaint ourselves with the facts as they were two years ago. Incidentally, it always seems a pity to me that these reports follow the facts at such a distance. We find that two years ago only one in six of our young people, aged between 15 and 17 when they left school, was pursuing part-time day education, and only one in three was pursuing any form of part-time evening education. If we are thinking of anything like universal day release, to which I think my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton referred, it means that we shall be making a great demand both on the teaching profession and on industry for instructors, and that we shall need far more than we have at present.
If we are thinking also of trying to deal with the education of young people in what many of would regard as ideally a more satisfactory manner, by requiring them to continue their full-time education longer, that will make a still further demand on the supply of teachers. The point I want to make here is that if we 701 take technical education seriously, one of the conclusions it leads us to—a conclusion to which we are led by other educational arguments—is that we will be severely short of teachers for a long time to come.
The noble Lord the Minister of Education made a remark recently in which he seemed to be favourably interested in the project for lengthening the period of the training of teachers. I would only say that if the noble Lord is thinking of doing that, it is of vital importance that at the same time he should increase the accommodation for students entering teachers' training colleges. If he does not, but merely lengthens the period of training, he may squeeze the supply of teachers to an extent that will prevent us from doing anything for the further education of young people, either for science or technology, or any of the simpler courses of instruction which may lead up to further studies in science and technology.
Similarly, we have to look at matters of building and finance. I think it would be true to say that while we welcome the programme of building outlined in the Government White Paper, and still more the information that the hon. Gentleman was able to give a short while ago about the extent to which that programme is being put Into effect, I think we all know that that figure of £70 million does no more than give us the absolutely necessary skeleton of what is required for buildings for technical education, because they are very expensive.
I read of one project for a college, of an important but not a first-rank nature, a single college, which would cost £1 million. We have to think in terms of very considerable and expanding sums of money. I hope the Government will not feel that they are so pledged to the technical education programme that they must decide that if the cold wind blows from the Treasury, the technical education programme must be kept sacrosanct, and any economy in education which is required must be made in other parts of the programme.
We must not imagine that we can stand this superstructure of a considerable technical education building programme on a foundation in the schools which is being chipped away by economies. That is why we were a little disquieted the other day to find that we 702 are still thinking in terms of a school building programme of £55 million a year, the same figure as four years ago. If we look at the numbers of children, and recognise the desirability of making an advance in such matters as the size of classes, it is doubtful whether we can go on much longer without expanding that figure considerably. If we do not think of classes of the proper size in the secondary schools, it is no use talking about what we can do in the technical colleges and later on, because we shall not have laid an adequate foundation.
The conclusion to which I come, then, is this. Whether it is on the atomic energy programme itself or whether it is on the provision of buildings, equipment and teachers for the technical education that goes with the atomic energy programme, whichever of those two we consider, we are in for a very considerable and rising expenditure. It amounts to a figure which cannot be met merely by saying, "We will find some other item of Government expenditure and take it away from that." Nor can it be met merely by saying, "Well, we will look round and see whether there are in the country today people who are sufficiently rich and should have a little less private luxury, and we will take it from them in taxation."
The kind of expenditure we shall need can be met only by increasing the productivity of the nation as a whole. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves, suppose in this and future years we return to the situation we had recently, with the total national income going up by about 3 per cent. a year—as was the position a few years ago, although unhappily it was not last year—to what is that increase of wealth to be devoted? Is it simply to scatter itself, much according to the present pattern of distribution of income, into private incomes; or are we deliberately going to say that a certain amount of the increase of the national wealth year after year has to be earmarked, not for private expenditure but for this vital collective purpose both of promoting the atomic energy programme and of promoting the education which must necessarily go with it?
We must make clear to the people of this country that there must be a bigger proportion of the national income spent 703 collectively, and particularly on the education service, than has been the case in the past. Only if people are prepared to accept that, can we get a sufficient expansion, over a long period of time, of the total wealth we produce to allow us all to be better off individually.
I for one am grateful to the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) because of the Amendment which appears on the Order Paper in his name and which was ruled out of order. The noble Lord has drawn our attention to a very important point; that if we really want to live in the twentieth century, we can no longer be quite so tender to private conceptions of property, or the old ideas of education or the old ideas of how wealth should be distributed. That is the nature of the challenge that modern science is presenting to the capitalist society today.
§ 1.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
I cannot agree with the precise definitions which the hon Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) tried to give at the end of his speech, but he continued the discussion on what I think has been the most striking feature of this debate so far. Not only have we discussed bricks and mortar—that is such a common feature of our debates on education—but we have also debated the content of education. Of the many debates on education in this Chamber to which I have listened, this is, so far as I can remember, the only one which has included a long discussion on the content of education.
The reason for that was referred to by the hon. Member for Paddington. North (Mr. Parkin). It is the very wide appeal which the development of the nuclear energy programme has had in this country, with the consequent effect of promoting in all of us a desire to discuss how we are to carry through that programme.
Speaking for myself—and, from the tone of their speeches, I think that previous speakers share my feeling—the development of nuclear energy in this country is the most exciting thing that has happened in industry since the end of the eighteenth century; since the time of Watt and Bolton and George Stephenson. That first period began with the primitive steam engine which was developed in 704 Cornwall. It continued through the 1780's to the start of the railway age in the late 1820's and the 1830's. Capital costs were reduced and engines of greater efficiency were being built using larger proportions of the heat in the fuel—coal—all the time. There is a very similar prospect now with regard to atomic energy.
During the last ten years we have seen the peaceful development of nuclear energy and I believe that we have had the good fortune to enjoy the rare coincidence of the circumstances of those early days of the industrial revolution, repeating themselves. Then we had several great engineers—I have mentioned the names of the best known of them—and an increasing demand for energy in the engineering field, and particularly for pumping in the coal mines. In the last ten years or so nuclear energy for power production has been developed, there have been a number of outstanding engineers and research workers in the field of nuclear energy.
We have had a demand for nuclear power because of the energy shortage with which we are confronted in civilian life and we have also had an immediate demand for nuclear energy in the military programme, however distasteful that may be to hon. Members. This demand on the military side has made it attractive for Governments of all parties to find very large sums of money for rapid development.
With this fortunate coincidence of chance, we have today arrived in an unexpectedly outstanding position. We lead the world in the development of large power reactors, because we need electricity here and our supplies of fossil fuel are inadequate for one reason or another. If we can get enough people to use the fundamental knowledge and technical experience which we are gaining from these large reactors, we shall have the chance to develop more quickly than anybody else the small type of reactor, which is needed in other parts of the world where demand for power is not so large, and for mobile reactors such as those in ships and, perhaps, eventually even in railway trains. All the time we need the skilled men to achieve those results.
Unless we can find technically trained people with the right training, we may 705 find ourselves in a difficulty similar to that which we found in the middle of the last century when the tremendous development and momentum in engineering which had been built up in the previous 50 or 60 years gradually died away, despite the efforts of far-sighted people, such as the Prince Consort and those who founded the British Association, to restore popular interest in applying science to industrial problems.
There was rather striking proof of that in the name of the Imperial College of Science and Technology. I think it was the present rector of the College, Professor Linstead, who, in his inaugural address two years ago, pointed out that the fact that it was called "Imperial" shows that it was a development of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century and not of the middle or early part of the nineteenth century, although the constituent colleges which came together had been founded by then. The mere fact that in this country we did not have a university especially dedicated to the development of technology until the end of the nineteenth century shows how the earlier drive had died away. That is a warning to us today.
Several hon. Members have asked questions which undoubtedly should be answered by the Parliamentary Secretary if we are to have a real progress report on the work which the Government and others have been doing since the publication of the White Paper. We are especially grateful in that connection for the extremely interesting speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) in which he told us of the experience he had gained in Birmingham.
I was depressed to hear that so much of the drive in the very considerable development in the Birmingham area had come from the large instead of the small companies which, as the hon. Member for Paddington, North pointed out, employ such a large proportion of our fellow countrymen. One of our constant aims should be to try to encourage those who employ few people and who inevitably find it more difficult, because they have only small technical staffs, in any way we can, directly or indirectly through taxation, to take every opportunity they can to learn what modern 706 technology can do to help them to improve their businesses.
There are two matters about which I should like to question my hon. Friend. I want to underline a serious matter which the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) raised and about which I have also heard. It is that some of the universities are now becoming rather hesitant about increasing the number of technological faculties and indeed their natural science sides. It is obviously a serious matter. What makes it rather strange is that it is in such contrast to the present tendency in Germany where industrialists and others concerned with technical education are increasingly taking the view that schools of technology should not be much further expanded, but that more should be done to increase the size of the faculties of technology and science at the universities. With the long tradition of technical education in Germany, I should have thought that we ought to inquire closely why the opposite tendency is apparently being seen in universities in this country.
I want to follow other hon. Members in talking about the content of education. I am increasingly disturbed—and this is one of the big problems which we are having in teaching science in the schools—by the slowness of the universities to recognise the extraordinary difficulties to which the great expansion of scientific knowledge has given rise. Universities still adhere to a three-year course for an honours degree in the sciences and technology. To get young men and women up to the standards needed to get a degree at the end of that period, the universities are demanding an increasingly high standard of entry. The consequence is that in the secondary schools specialisation on a narrow scientific basis begins earlier and earlier, and it becomes more and more difficult to find enough teachers of the high standard needed to bring a large number of their pupils to the entrance standard now demanded by the universities.
In fairness to the universities, I must say that many of them recognise this difficulty and are discussing what to do about it. Perhaps the most interesting change, which is taking place at Imperial College—and I think also at Liverpool—is that those who took arts at secondary schools are now being allowed to take 707 a four-year course in science at university. That change has been encouraged by companies such as the one with which I am associated, Imperial Chemical Industries, and others who are now offering scholarships for young men and women who have taken arts at their secondary school and who wish to take science at their university. The universities should look at this matter of adhering to the traditional three-year course. Perhaps this length of course originated in what the hon. Member for Fulham was saying about the old foundations of our higher education dating back to the classics and, earlier still, to the teaching of theology.
I should like to see the universities here following more the system which is common, I think, in almost every other country—except, perhaps, France—of having four-year courses and then allowing those who wish to go on to an even higher degree of knowledge to stay on and do post-graduate work. At present, the Imperial College has about a third of its students doing post-graduate work and it intends, in the course of the next few years, to increase that proportion to about 50 per cent. I believe that the universities might well think more closely about the cultural standards they demand, the width of the education they give in science and technology during their courses and the need for a system which would allow a larger proportion to do post-graduate work in order to go on to the highest levels of all.
I have two other things to say about the universities; again, in accordance with the traditional view of them. Research work is still valued more highly than lecturing when appointments of professors are made. Somehow or other, there is a sort of purity about the research work which dates back to the past and it has about it a greater prestige than lecturing. There is no doubt that a great deal of lecturing in universities—not only in the natural sciences—should be a great deal more interesting if young men and women are to be attracted. I hope we may let it be known that we think appointments boards, when considering applications for professorships and lectureships, might well take into account a man's ability to express himself as well as his ability to do fundamental research.
708 Another important matter in this field of improved teaching in technology and science is that a much greater effort should be made by the universities to do with Russian what they did in my time with German. I believe Manchester is doing something about this. When I read chemistry at Oxford, it would have been difficult to get a science degree unless one could read enough German to read original papers in the German journals. Although much that is published is stodgy and dull, as it is in many other countries, the Russians are putting out a great amount of data of the highest quality. People should have the opportunity to learn enough Russian to be able to read scientific journals in the same way as we had to learn enough German thirty years ago to read German journals.
I wish to emphasise a point which was made by the hon. Member for Edmonton. We should hear a great deal more than so far we have heard about the standard for colleges of advanced technology. Could my hon. Friend give, as fully as time will allow, some idea of the curricula on which they are working and also of their relations with the universities? I am sure it would be a real disaster if we began to turn oat an increasing number of men and women with diplomas in technology and then found that the professional institutions were unable to accept them for membership and the universities looked upon them as so second-rate as not to be worth taking notice of. If that were to happen we should be losing a great number of what I hope will be valuable young men and women. I do not think Lord Hives would allow that to happen, but we have reached a stage at which we ought to have a progress report on the standards achieved.
What we all want to see emerging from schools of engineering is enough engineers of a high standard who eventually, with a few years experience, will be able to exercise engineering judgment. We certainly want to see a large number of engineers coming along who are able to meet the three essentials of good engineering practice—which, I think, have been well described by a distinguished English engineer, Sir Ewart Smith, F.R.S., as "simplicity, symmetry and continuity." The success of our nuclear programme up to today has been largely because our engineers have had 709 those standards and those three characteristics very much in mind. If we are to continue the momentum and success we have had so far, those standards must be maintained in future. That should be the aim of our teaching and we should combine with it—this is the difficult process—turning out balanced men and women.
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)
I wish to join with other hon. Members in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) on his good fortune in the Ballot and commending him on his choice of subject.
I should like to say how much I appreciated the thoughtful, challenging and constructive speech of the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd). I had a small experience as a visiting lecturer there some years ago and wish to say how much I support the remarks the right hon. Gentleman made about Birmingham Technical College and in particular, its Department of Industrial Administration. From my personal knowledge it was. I think it still is, outstanding in its relations with local industry and in trying to bring all sections together in the programmes and courses it devises. I was interested in the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the invention of the "sandwich." An essay on the question of the extent the invention of the sandwich has contributed to the progress of science and the sum of human happiness would be of great value to arts and science students alike.
I hope the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) will not feel upset if I do not follow him in detail in the observations he made about the content of education. It is very important. We should give as much, if not more, thought to the content of education as to the actual physical steps we wish to take to achieve the objects and the numbers which we have so much before us today. The reason I will not go into that is purely that I want to say a few things about the physical organisation of education and I do not want to trespass for too long on the time of the House.
It has been rightly said that discussing scientific and technical manpower in the 710 context of atomic energy is perhaps a little misleading because we should look at the question of the total provision of scientific manpower. The atomic energy programme makes matters more difficult because of the demands of the new spectacular subject on both the existing reservoir of trained scientists and on the young graduates leaving a university. Whether atomic energy is short of manpower or not will depend not on its own efforts alone but on the total provision of suitable scientific and technical personnel.
While I appreciate that employers, parents and many others have a special responsibility in this matter, I shall confine myself today to the provision which the educational system can make, in particular because the Government's main channel for developing their technical education must be through their influence on and responsibility for the schools, technical colleges and universities.
There is very a close connection between the schools, technical colleges and universities. The quality of the work in the technical colleges and the universities must to a large extent depend on the basic training which the students receive at school. On the other hand, the quality of that teaching at school will depend on the number and quality of graduates produced by the universities and technical colleges who later give the teaching.
I suggest that in education we have a process similar to the prices-wages spiral and that unless there is planning, at both school and university level, there is a danger that the value and standard of education will fall as fast as the value of money has fallen through the lack of planning in the prices-wages field.
The main question about schools is the importance of getting the necessary number of science and mathematics teachers. I will illustrate this, if I may, by an example a year or so ago of a graduate who had a third class, part I, Cambridge honours degree in mathematics and a first class, part II, English degree. He wanted to teach and he was offered a great number of jobs teaching mathematics with his third class qualification and none at all to teach English. He was almost besieged by headmasters wanting him to teach mathematics, and I understand that he more or less put the 711 matter up to auction and was prepared to go to the school which would at least permit him to teach 50 per cent. of his time in English, the subject in which he had both the interest and the special ability. There is no reason to suppose that the position is any different today. Someone with a very indifferent scientific or mathematics qualification can obtain a vastly superior or vastly more promising teaching post than someone with a very high academic standing in some of the arts subjects.
The main question is to get the total number of science and mathematics graduates increased. It may be that there will then be a greater number available for the schools. Some hon. Members have already asked, can we point to the problem without asking how it can be met? I should like to be rather controversial about this, for I feel that the question of money must be brought into it In my opinion there is a case perhaps for even making a special allowance for a science degree, and in particular a special allowance for a first or second class honours degree in science.
Indeed, I would say that there is a case within the salary ranges of the teachers for giving a bigger weighting and bigger salary increment for high academic qualifications. Obviously these high qualifications ought to be put to their proper use, and I think the present system whereby we pay for a degree, no matter to what use the degree is put, is not the best approach.
This, I know, is a very controversial matter, and I should not want it to be thought that I do not think there should be graduates in the secondary modern schools. I think there should, and I think it is equally important—to make my own position clear—to see that the lower end of the educational system gets its fair share of money. It may be that today the people we are talking about—the technologists and technicians—are people who pass the 11-plus examination or have an equivalent attainment, but it seems to me that if we are to achieve our purpose in the scientific and technological improvement which we want to achieve, we must have a higher level of education throughout. If we want to sustain our democratic system, then on that ground alone there is a very strong 712 case for being equally concerned with the secondary modern school and being concerned to see that experiments with comprehensive schools are carried out.
As several hon. Members have said, it is not only, or in some cases not mainly, a matter of money in education, whether it is between the arts on the one side and science on the other, or between one class of school and another, or between one class of lecturer and another; for the matter of prestige is also very important. What I should like to see is the practical aspects of education—which in many cases is the most appropriate form of education for particular children—accorded parity of esteem with the more formal academic courses.
While I shall talk today more about the provision of scientists and technologists, in connection with the White Paper on Technical Education, and not about technicians, it is equally important for us to raise the standard and number of suitably qualified technicians to meet the demands of industry. I should like to follow up a suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), who spoke of the possibility of compulsory day release courses. If it is clear that the general extension of the school-leaving age may not be practicable at the moment, and since the provision of county colleges has not proved practicable to date, I wonder whether it might be possible for there to be one year's compulsory one-day-a-week further education for all children, regardless of whether they are in occupations which will lead to some kind of technical college course or not. In other words, we should then have compulsory education for everybody at least one day a week until they are 16. Then it could possibly be raised to 17 or, as an ideal, to 18.
That has a direct bearing on the problem with which we are dealing today, because I am told that there is a certain reluctance on the part of suitable boys and girls who should be going to day release courses and further courses in technical colleges—because their friends are not doing so. If, as a matter of course, they were all pushed through the transition of full-time education to one-day-a-week education, I feel that many of them would get over the perhaps understandable reluctance at, having left school, immediately beginning some 713 further system of education. Once they realised that the education which they were receiving in this further year was directly valuable to their career, we might find that having an important bearing on the general standard of technical college education and on the number of people coming forward for sandwich courses. In this connection I would stress, as have other hon. Members, that the employers must also play their part in making possible the sandwich and day release courses. No matter what we may do about the provision of courses, if the students cannot attend them we will be unsuccessful.
Another matter, though small in the general context of this debate, is this. I am told that a number of organisations concerned with placing colonial students taking technical courses find it very difficult to get them into firms for practical experience. Though the students may have a degree or the highest national technical qualifications, it is very difficult to get firms to employ them in order that they may get the practical experience required for professional, as distinct from purely academic, qualifications.
To overcome that difficulty is desirable from the point of view of our relations with the Colonies. It is also, indirectly, in our own interests, because if the Colonies are not able to produce their own qualified people in sufficient numbers, they will attract our own qualified people by offering higher salaries. It is a matter not only of our responsibility to the Colonies, but of our own interest. We have to help these men to get the practical experience. It may be argued that firms see no advantage in taking some one from Nigeria, the Gold Coast or Cyprus when, at the end of, say, three years he will go back home and the firms will get no advantage from the training they have given. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will make inquiries to see if this difficulty is as widespread as I am told it is.
On my main proposition that the universities are attracting too few scientists and technologists and relatively too many arts students, I can put forward a disinterested view, because I have not been, nor am I, nor am I likely to be a scientist. The Parliamentary Secretary will no doubt recognise the wisdom of 714 what was said of the philosophy, politics and economics course at Oxford—that it provides a first-rate bibliography of books which would be well worth reading if one had the time, but one never has. I am sure that I cannot be accused of personal interest in this, as I say, but I think that the numbers of university students should not be increased on the basis of two-thirds scientists and one-third arts students. They should all be scientists.
In 1946, the Barlow Committee recommended that the number of science and technical students in universities should be doubled as compared with the figure for 1938–39. As we know, that objective was virtually achieved by 1947. But, in its recommendations, the Committee also said that in the expansion of the universities the numbers of art students should also be expanded to maintain the balance. In relative terms, the position is that the arts faculties are back practically to the position of 1938–39.
Table 3 in the new and interesting interim report on university development shows that, whereas there were 44.7 per cent. of all university students in 1938–39 taking arts subjects, in 1956 there were 42.9 per cent. That is a very tiny reduction, particularly having regard to the extra number of research and postgraduate courses for scientists of all sorts. We find that, in the same period, the numbers taking pure science and technology have increased from 25.9 per cent. to 35.8 per cent., but that is nothing like the doubling of the numbers on the scientific side recommended by the Barlow Report.
I am sorry that there is no representative of the Treasury present today to reply, or even to listen to this side of the debate, because we know that it is the Treasury that has the Ministerial responsibility for the University Grants Committee. Nevertheless, I hope that what my hon. Friends and other hon. Members have said about the universities in this regard will be conveyed to the Ministers responsible.
When we turn from Table 3 to Table 2 we find that, for very obvious reasons, the percentages have not been worked out for us, but I know just about enough of mathematics to work them out for myself. We see that of the full-time students 715 entering university institutions for the first time in October last, 45.5 per cent. were going into the arts faculties. That is a higher percentage even than the average in 1938–39.
Why is that? We know that it is easier and cheaper to expand the arts rather than the scientific side, but we have to have regard to two other factors. First of all, the influence of the arts faculties and teachers in arts subjects in the universities is probably greater than is that of the science faculties. The arts faculties have greater power and more sense of manoeuvre which, in university politics, is very important. I can, perhaps, express it simply by saying that the operation recently undertaken on the benches opposite of getting rid of one Prime Minister and putting in another is one which the professors would regard as a small job to be done between tea and dinner. They want more complicated and difficult manoeuvres than that. In university politics, the power of the various faculties is important, not only as to the number of students admitted but as to the shares of the block grant received from the University Grants Committee.
Secondly, a very real problem is beginning to emerge in some schools. I refer to the difficulty of getting suitably-qualified and experienced scientific and mathematics teachers. There is no doubt that the number of suitable candidates presenting themselves to the universities for history, English and other arts subjects is greater than the number of suitable science students coming forward.
What is the field of jobs open for those with arts qualifications? I cannot develop that in detail, but I mention again the example of the third class degree in mathematics, part I and a first class degree in English part II. Particularly at the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge there is an immense amount of trouble and care taken to select suitable people. The whole machinery is geared to the selection of the most suitable people, but there is only one Appointments Board for the whole university, and throughout the whole of the university field we find very much less time and care devoted to trying to advise people about suitable careers—and placing them in them—than there is to the very difficult job of the selection of the numerous applications for vacant 716 university places. If we are to have this balance, this is an aspect that will need consideration.
Since I have made these criticisms. I feel that I should attempt to make some kind of proposals whereby these matters may move in a more satisfactory direction. Briefly, I think a lot can be done by operating the system of grants to university students. This has been mentioned a number of times in the House, and I will therefore not develop the point now, but it is of prime importance that the awards of grants to students should become a national and central responsibility and should not be left, as it is today, mainly to the local education authorities.
We all know many instances of lack of uniformity in the standards required—indeed, in the amount of money provided by different local education authorities, and in the general reconsideration of educational finance which is bound to follow the recent announcements. I hope that the main, if not the whole responsibility, for university awards will be transferred from the local to the central body. If this is done by some extension of the State scholarship system, I believe that we could get a reversal of this trend away from science, by declaring at the beginning of the year that 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. of State scholarships will be given in scientific subjects.
This was the way in which people were switched over from arts to science during the war. A number of people in their fifth form were advised to go over from their choice of an arts subject to a scientific subject, because only then would they be able to get a grant and permission to go to a university. If we want scientists, that may be a way in which to get not only increased numbers but the increased standards that we also require.
What sort of knowledge of the future and of the universities has the average boy of 15 or 16, when he has to make this decision, if he has no one to advise him? The people with the most influence in the schools, as with the most influence in the universities, tend to be those on the arts side and not on the science side. If they will not see the kind of national objective that we have in mind, they must be encouraged to do so by this financial manipulation.
717 Another point has been put right by the necessary increase in teachers' salaries in universities, but I wish the Government, having made this bold and right decision, had not frustrated everybody in the universities by postponing its implementation to 1st August. We know that 1st August is the beginning of the academic year, but it also happens to be the beginning of the new quinquennium, and it is feared that this will create a precedent which will be followed again. For the small amount of money involved a lot of dissatisfaction in the universities in this matter of salaries and conditions could have been avoided if the implementation of this decision had not been postponed.
I am sorry the Parliamentary Secretary is not now here, but I hope these remarks will be reported to him because this may be a small point with which he may be able to deal. I understand there are also some complications about the switch over of lecturers from the existing scale to the new scale. It is thought that this is a Treasury device to save £50 or £100 here and there by the complication of transfer from the existing to the new scales, and I hope that this matter will be put right.
It is perhaps, in prestige and leisure terms, an attraction to be a university teacher, but particularly for those on the science side it often means a considerable sacrifice in income because those are the kind of people who, if they went into industry, would undoubtedly earn very large salaries.
It is impossible to go very far in making suggestions about the universities without coming up against the dilemma of how far we can go without interfering with the autonomy and independenec of the universities. It is a particular example of the British genius for compromise that we have this system where virtually the universities are independent and yet, taking account of fees as well as grants, they derive about 85 per cent. of their total income each year from public funds centrally and locally. I am satisfied that the University Grants Committee works pretty well, and I would not want to advocate any substantial change in the system whereby the universities retain autonomy and independence, but I think, having made that position clear, we should not 718 be afraid of inquiring a little into the university sphere and telling them what we want them to do.
One such system operated in the period immediately after the war, and, in my view, it was the main reason why the Barlow Committee's recommendations on scientific manpower were implemented. That was the system of earmarked grants. If a grant is made for a particular purpose, all the manoeuvring by the people in the university cannot get that money, which is given, say, for chemistry or mechanics, taken over and used for economics or history or something else. The universities do not like the system of earmarked grants.
I noticed a paragraph in the recent Interim Report explaining why in the last quinquennium the system has not been used. I believe that the system of earmarked grants should be considered, and should be used particularly to raise the general number and quality of science and technical students. Several hon. Members have referred to the resistance of the universities to technological development, and this might be a means whereby it could be overcome.
I wish to read a short extract from the Fifth Report from the Select Committee on Estimates for 1951–52 which went thoroughly into this matter. Paragraph 39 says:Where some important new development needs to be promoted, and the expenditure on it can be isolated from other expenditure, this would be a proper subject for an earmarked grant which would enable Parliament to keep in close touch with the progress of the development. Your Committee are of the opinion that the method of earmarking grants is a proper way of fostering such lives of development in any University and should he retained for such purposes.I regret that the Treasury and the University Grants Committee did not accept that recommendation of the Select Committee and that, in fact, the system of earmarked grants has been allowed to disappear. Looking at the work of the various Committees—the Barlow Committee, for example, which only looked forward as far as 1955, and the other committees which are producing reports on this subject—I think it is high time that a powerful and independent body investigated the whole sphere of university education.
I suggest, as has been suggested before, that it is time and, indeed, it is becoming 719 a matter of urgency, for a Royal Commission—that would be the best and most appropriate way of doing this job —not only to examine the relation between the arts faculties and the science faculties and consider how best to stimulate a higher standard and a larger number of suitably qualified scientists and technologists, but to examine other questions, including that of the provincial universities and Oxford and Cambridge. One could go on for a long time enumerating the urgent and important matters which ought to be considered in relation to the universities today, twelve years after the war.
We all agree that the universities have done a good job and have made progress, but I think we are in a difficulty because although we provide the money, we cannot make direct Parliamentary intervention. We should not make direct Parliamentary intervention into the organisation of individual universities, but somebody distinct from the University Grants Committee should look into this matter, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to represent that a Royal Commission should inquire into the universities as soon as possible.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
The House has already expressed its gratitude to the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) for his initiative in bringing forward this subject for discussion. I think that it is most valuable, because it gives us an opportunity to look to the Parliamentary Secretary for something of a review of the progress that has been made in this subject since it, or a very closely related matter, was debated nine months ago. It also invites us to form something of a vision of the society that we may expect our grandchildren and the coming generations to inherit, and it is on that rather untechnical side of the subject that I should like to make one or two brief remarks.
I think we all recognise that it is the education of which we are now laying the foundations that will either enable our country to maintain the lead which it gained in the early days of the previous Industrial Revolution or cause it to fail to maintain that lead. In the beginning of the Industrial Revolution we did, as it were, have an alternative. Historically 720 we had the alternative of going forward as a small agricultural country or developing into a great industrial nation. Now we have the alternative of increasing and maintaining our lead as a great industrial nation or suffering an absolutely disastrous fall in our standard of living.
We are therefore facing this vision with a very great weight of responsibility on our shoulders. In any event, we should try to get the kind of education which we are considering into some perspective. First of all we have to consider the absolute foundation of the whole of the future prosperity of this country and to realise that it consists in the quality of education that is given at the highest level in the universities in fundamental research in the sciences, because that is what the whole of our progress will be based on.
We can fail at later stages, but if we fail at this stage no amount of proficiency in technology and no amount of efficiency in our training of technicians will save us, because we have always to be one jump ahead of the rest of the world as we were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. There is the very important difference now from the days when Stephenson and Watt were playing about with steam kettles that they were using materials available to every human being born into this world, their brains and hands and experimenting with comparatively elementary and simple things. Nowadays, the kind of progress that we need to maintain the lead in the coming generations will be based on the progress made in the earlier stages, not only by one's hands and brains, but based on a very high degree of training, thought and education. So we have to make sure that at the very highest level in the universities we have laid the right foundations of fundamental science, so that our research is of a quality which will keep us ahead of the rest of the world.
We have then, in the second rank, which is important—in fact, without it the first is a sterile process—to have the men with the vision and turn of mind to take the implications of fundamental science and research and apply them to industry, to processes and to products which are going to be useful to the rest of the world and which the rest of the world will buy from us and which we ourselves may enjoy.
721 We also have to have, in looking at this matter in perspective, the third rank, which is the rank of the technicians who are to take the work which has been produced in the two previous stages by the fundamental research and by the technologists and then actually produce the products of our factories. Here I think that we want ourselves, in the influence which we can bring to bear, to try to foment a further change in outlook and in values in the country as a whole. I think that in previous generations, from the earliest days when learning was the province of the Church and was almost synonymous with letters, we had gradually been building up to the tradition, now firmly embedded in our society, in which the respectable way of earning one's living, on the level at which the technicians work, was by the white collar type of job. We have to move from the frame of mind in which the white collar is what we might seek for ourselves or for our children and substitute the white dungaree for the white collar. Unless we do that we shall not give the right status and the right approach to the great battalions of N.C.O.s and soldiers, as it were, of industrial workers.
In that connection, I was particularly interested to hear what several hon. Members said about the importance of using the potential manpower of this country, particularly that of girls and young women. I was particularly interested because I myself have a girl thirteen years old. I am a child of the arts myself. In our household neither the influence of my own girl's brilliant and talented mother nor the preoccupation of her repulsive father particularly tend to move my child into the sphere where she would be interested in anything other than what I would call, for the want of a better word, the arts.
In considering what influence I can bring to bear on her—which would probably be disastrous and have no effect anyway—and what I should do to encourage my own child, a girl, to look to the future and form her predilections, I must say, against my own experience and tradition, that if I were thirteen or fourteen years of age now I would not go for the arts, but for the sciences. I think I would be disposed to encourage 722 my own child by saying "You may be very good at English and mathematics may seem rather unattractive, and you may not see so much fulfilment in science, but really you have a great opportunity and you will be taking a great part in the real organic development of our society" … and so on—not that I would put it in those phrases to a child, but would try to point out that, with things moving in the way in which they have moved, it is in the field of mathematics and science or technology and technique that the future holds the most promise for young people and especially for girls.
If we can get that kind of change of outlook in the ordinary household from which young people are now being encouraged to decide which way to take in life, we shall be better able to provide for our nation that which it needs in the coming generations. I hope, too, that if we can do this the industrial revolution which is coming will produce an industrial society which will be very much happier than the one that we have produced so far. In history it is always a lamentable heresy to blame or condemn: in life things happen and one can too easily be wise after the event; but I think one can see now the heritage of deep bitterness which has grown up through the industrial age and look in the coming age for a higher sense of partnership in the lower ranks of industry.
If we are to produce trained technicians aware of the importance of the part they play in society, society must give them the sense of fulfilment which has been largely lacking in labour in the industrial society of which we are just witnessing the last phase. In fact, I hope that we shall in the future be able to avoid recreating the kind of lumpenproletariatwhich has been such a source of soreness and bitterness in our society. After all. the only real fulfilment which a man or woman can have in life is gained through a sense of being needed, fulfilling that need, and knowing that that fulfilment is appreciated. In the advances which we are now seeing in science and technology and in the opportunities open to the technician, we are laying the foundations of a very much happier and more fulfilling society.
723 Towards this end, it is important for people who are trained in the arts, who are, very often, without any disposed to take a somewhat exclusive and snobbish attitude towards the sciences, to realise that such a state of mind is really quite disgraceful. For example, I myself. a man of 41 now, regard myself as being educated, and I accept a certain amount of responsibility in the community; yet it is thoroughly reprehensible for me to be as ignorant as I am in matters of science. I am utterly illiterate in science; I just do not know or understand the first thing about it, and I believe that I ought to.
We have a great responsibility in our generation not to regard ourselves as finished, but rather to regard ourselves as not started, or, a long way behind, and to try to understand what is going on so that we can form some kind of bridge of interest with the next generation. Otherwise, we shall find that the best that can happen will be that we shall have an elder generation of people educated in the arts and a younger generation of people educated in the sciences, with no cultural link between them. I hope that the climate of opinion and standard of values of the community as a whole will tend to bridge that gap, and that people educated in the arts and humanities will regard themselves as being little more than illiterate in a sphere of knowledge which is of vital importance for the development of our whole cultural heritage.
We should have clearly in mind what are the ends we have in view in furthering our responsibility for education. It may be said that the ultimate purpose of education is not to teach people to live but to teach them to die. I shall not go into the implications of that now. On the lower level, considering the functions of education socially, education is, if hon. Members will forgive my saying, so, according to our fundamental Tory doctrine and approach, the great social service. That is how we on this side feel about education and the social services.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southgate (Sir B. Baxter) has expressed it very well. He said that it would have been of absolutely no use for Montgomery, on the eve of the Battle of Alamein, to have had at his disposal the 724 very best ambulance service, the very best dressing stations, and the very best R.A.M.C. doctors behind the lines. What he had to have was striking troops, the equipment, artillery and so forth. In the social services, that analogy is very apt, for it is absolutely no use concentrating exclusively upon caring for the weak. One must build up the strength of the strong. It is in education that we can do that because we thereby equip the nation to increase its resources to make available to its people the production which they will consume and thereby build up a standard of life upon which the whole fabric of the social services is based. The Motion we are considering today must, therefore, be considered not only in an industrial sense but also in that other sense, from the standpoint of education as the fountain-head for the social services of the country.
Finally, when we consider the ends which education has in view, we might well bear in mind that the only justification for science is that it is the raw material of poetry. If we forget this now, then, when unborn generations ask for their bread, they will find that we have bequeathed them a stone.
§ 2.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)
I can assure the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) that he has made, in the view of all of us, a most pleasant and—to use his own word—a far from repulsive speech. I entirely agree with him when he says that the country needs for its successful future fewer bank clerks and more engineers. I thought that was a very good point, if I might summarise it in that way. I agree also, speaking myself as a father of two daughters, one of 13, that we need more girls trained to calculate rather than to type, and we must get all to understand that it is not unfeminine to be able to calculate usefully and that there is in correct calculation at least the beauty of truth.
Some of the speeches we have heard today have been delivered rather from a scholastic point of view. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) gave us a very informed speech from that angle and very detailed. I do not propose to give the few remarks I am about to make much of an academic twist since I speak on these things as an 725 engineer, from the industrial angle, rather than from the point of view of the teacher.
It is a well-worn platitude which we have heard many times in this House that the country must have more scientists, technologists and engineers of all kinds. The nuclear energy programme, which is the inspiration of this debate, has simply brought out more vividly what has been known for a long time. I can recall that there have been, since I came to the House some twelve years ago—on occasion it seems longer—many debates similar to this. They have usually centred upon some Government White Paper or Government statement. Such Government statements have been often largely non-controversial between the parties, as is this debate. The statements have seemed impressive at the time, in advance of action, but have not apparently in the end brought about any great improvement in retrospect. That has been my impression after listening to and taking part in a number of these debates over the years.
Last year, for instance, we had a discussion on the White Paper on Technical Education. I did not bother to look it up, though my memory of it is fairly good, and there are two things which still stand out in my mind about it. First, I have in mind the plans for the colleges of advanced technology and, secondly, I remember the comparative figures given in the Appendix on engineering education in the Soviet Union.
I think we now have to accept the scheme for colleges of advanced technology. The details have been announced, the money has been advanced, and the building, where extra building is necessary, has been started. The colleges of advanced technology combined with developments which have been announced in respect of the University Grants Committee represent a typical British compromise, of which, typically, we have had far too many.
It seems to me that characteristic of our continued lukewarm attitude are the repeated statements about the diploma of technology. It is said to be a qualification of a very high standard "equivalent to a university honours degree". We continue to say things like that, but we are also very careful not to call it a degree lest perhaps we hurt the feelings of sensitive arts persons.
726 I am sorry the Government have rejected the bold and, to me, obvious plan of having several technological universities. We need not have taken such a plan too far. We could have experimented. If we had had two or three technological universities, it would have been a symbol for the future, showing that we were in earnest about the whole business.
We were all startled at the figures about Russian development in last year's White Paper. I have here a document of great interest, the report of a deputation from the three major engineering institutions—the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Electrical Engineers—on engineering education in the Soviet Union. I wish to quote two extracts which I believe provide the key to the matter.
The first is:Russia believes that, after the survival of the State, higher education is the most important business on which economic and military progress depends. …The second is:In Russia … the supply of suitable students presents less difficulty than it does here, because engineering has been made one of the most attractive careers in the country. Not only is it as well paid as any other …Those words should be noted. No one has been so vulgar today as to mention payment, but it should not be entirely overlooked.… with one exception …which is education;…but it is highly esteemed as greatly contributing to the welfare of the country.Education takes priority over everything.
We do not take too kindly to models from other countries—certainly I do not, from instinct—but, unless we are prepared to accept those propositions on their merits, we are never likely to make lasting progress in our own country in the now world conditions coming about.
The educational aspect has been dealt with by others who are better qualified than I am. I propose to concentrate my remaining remarks on the second proposition, which is that engineering and applied science must be made an attractive, well paid career, highly esteemed in the first rank of the professions. That is the key to the whole business. I do not wish to rouse controversy, but, if we are to achieve that, we must avoid 727 the attitude which I detect behind the Amendment which has, unfortunately, not been brought before the House.
§ Mr. Palmer
I did not hear what the noble Lord said, but I hope I am not doing him any injustice. It is an attitude of mind which assumes that in the United Kingdom, with a large population, with an insufficient food supply, and lacking in raw materials except coal, power stations can be a matter of choice. If we are to maintain the capital equipment of our country and extend it, and maintain our exports with a reasonably high home consumption, we need an increase in national productivity which must be reflected in terms of electrical energy, and it is usually worked out as an increase of about 7 per cent. per annum. Even if we do not particularly like nuclear power stations, it certainly means that we must have power stations of some kind or another. It is the price that we have to pay for the material kind of civilisation in which we live.
I do not want to go into the merits of the nuclear power programme, and I mention electricity in this connection only because it is such a useful index of the level of national activity. To be biased against the nuclear power programme, which is simply a substitute for a power programme of some kind or another, is to be biased against national prosperity and to accept a proposition that the economy can be run in a lower gear. The logical end is a lower standard of life for the people and, eventually, our decline as a great nation and a great influence in the world.
That kind of reactionary approach is dispiriting to those of us who take the view that a profound knowledge of the great powers of nature and their application is not only essential in the higher education system of the country, but is in itself probably an ennobling influence on the human mind. I agree with what the hon. Member for Ilford, North had to say about the requirements of the fully educated man. I was glad to hear his frank confession; it was very good of him to make it. It is a fact that one can find people who claim to be educated, and upon whom the world looks as educated persons, who at the 728 same time boast—and it is accepted that they should boast—that they know nothing at all of science or engineering. That is a mental attitude which all of us must avoid if we are to establish technology as a great and esteemed profession.
If engineering is to rank as a top profession we must end the idea in industry that engineers and technologists are clever, quiet chaps available for hire by business men and by administrators—administrators pure and not always so simple. We must try to do away with the assumption, if engineers and technologists are to make progress in their careers, that for a well-paid final job they must give up engineering or technology and go into commerce. That idea is too prevalent. I should like to see the idea grow instead among general private undertakings, large industrial undertakings and in the nationalised industries, too, that no board of directors or any board of management of any kind is complete and really able to do its job unless among its members it includes a high proportion of men qualified in engineering or technology.
§ 2.31 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you have called me only on the understanding that I take no more than ten minutes. I shall abide by that, but I should like to record the strongest possible protest that in a debate of this kind, on a Motion to which an Amendment has been put down although it has not been called, my hon. Friends and I who put down the Amendment are not given an opportunity fully to extend our case.
§ Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
Order. I can assure the noble Lord that I had the intention to call him at five minutes past one, but he did not get up. He was not here. I also intended to call him at two o'clock but he did not rise. He has no complaint against the Chair.
§ Mr. Willey
On a point of order. Surely it is against the conventions and 729 practices of the House for Front Benchers to dictate the course of debate on a Friday, at any rate a Friday which is Private Members' time? On the contrary, I should have thought the Front Benchers would have done their best to facilitate debate. If the noble Lord has an important contribution to make, we should allow the debate to continue until a little later, and then, perhaps, the Parliamentary Secretary can intervene, and reply to the debate on behalf of the Government. If this meets the wishes of the House as a whole, surely we can see that this course is followed?
Yes. Of course, the practice is that when a Front Bench speaker rises he is called. It is a help to the Chair if it knows when they intend to rise, so that the debate can be arranged accordingly. As to the noble Lord's complaint, I would have called him before, but every time I would have done so he was either not here or did not get up.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
There is no criticism whatever of the Chair, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I would not dream of putting such a criticism. I meant only that I was hoping, in the normal way, to be called at about 2.20 or half-past two, thinking that the speaker from the Opposition Front Bench would rise at three o'clock and that my hon. Friend would have replied at half-past three. That is the normal practice. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, not necessarily."] I have not known the Government reply on a Friday to take longer than half an hour. I am rather surprised by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, newly recruited to the Government. One would have thought that, perhaps, he might have assumed a rather more modest position in the early stages of his return to the Ministry and that until he had re-established himself in the public confidence he would have been only too willing to have done so.
§ Sir E. Boyle
My noble Friend is welcome to five minutes of my time. I am sorry if I have given any offence. I did not mean to give any at all. I merely wanted time in which to answer the very large number of questions which have been raised during this debate, especially as this is a subject which is not often debated in the House.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
There is another point of view. It is that of those of us who have been sitting here all day waiting to intervene. Would you be good enough, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to indicate whose time is available far the rest of this debate? Surely it is a little novel that the noble Lord should not have withdrawn what I think were remarks rather critical of the Chair?
§ Mr. Fletcher
The noble Lord said he wanted to record the strongest possible protest. As I understand it, he complained that he was expected to take only ten minutes. Mr. Speaker, in your absence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker explained that he had intended to call the noble Lord several times, but that the noble Lord was either not here or did not rise. Since then a spokesman from each Front Bench has told the noble Lord that he is welcome to five minutes of his time. Surely that is rather novel on a Friday devoted to Private Members' business? Surely it is novel that, as there appears to have been, some arrangement should have been arrived at between the Parliamentary Secretary and the noble Lord and others about how the time of the House should be divided on a Private Members' day?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is quite customary for arrangements to be made by hon. Members about the times of certain speeches. However, they do not concern me. If the House does not like to keep to them, that is an affair for the House.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I rose on a certain understanding, and I shall abide by it, although I may take, perhaps, one or two minutes extra, to regain the time which has been occupied by points of order.
I shall discard a great deal of what I had intended to say. There will be other occasions to deploy the arguments against the position occupied by atomic energy and the scientists and technologists who go with it, arguments on military grounds and grounds of inflation, and on the ground of jeopardising the rights of property. There will soon be the Report 731 stage of the Electricity Bill, and it will be possible, no doubt, to deploy some of the arguments then, and when the Budget debate takes place we shall have an occasion fully to extend our criticisms of the methods of financing these stations and of the nationalised industries in general. I was hoping to respond in a rather genial and friendly way to the various observations which have been made about my position in this debate, but that will have to wait for another occasion.
I wish to deal only with the figures given about the scientists in Russia. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) first drew the attention of the country to the supposed dangers from this. I am no more terrified of the advance of technology and science in Russia than I am of Russian military incursion into the West. I have always thought that my right hon. Friend exaggerated that danger. I think that to get the whole of the Western world thoroughly "het-up" today about the number of scientists and technologists in Russia, with the connotation of militarism, is a profound error.
Russia is rising from barbarism, from having practically no industrialisation, to a position where she can draw ahead in this century, and it is not surprising to see that she has carved out of her economy a large number of teachers and educationists for the purpose of getting forward in science and technology.
We do not know what standards of knowledge and skill those people have, any more than we know too much about the sort of standards American scientists and technologists have reached, but in so far as we do know what their standards are, it is almost universally proclaimed that the standards are much lower than ours in this country.
§ Mr. Albu: No.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) talked about 4,000 Russian scientists and technologists working in the mines. Russia has a population four times as great as our own, and, no doubt, the area of coal mines in Russia is two or three times that of our own. Thus there would not in those facts seem to be any cause to suppose that we in this country are proportionately worse off.
732 I question the whole of these figures cited in the debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd), in an otherwise excellent speech, said we were falling behind in technology and science. I do not know what that means. The figures he gave were very tendentious and unsatisfactory. For example, he said that in 1954 the number of pure science students produced in Russia was 12,000; in Great Britain there were 5,200 students. As the population of Russia is four times as great as our own, where is the discrepancy? Where is the need for anxiety? I do not see it. My right hon. Friend said that in applied science in 1954 in Russia there were 60,000 graduates in science and technology, but that is a figure two or three times that of the United States. Surely that is so fantastic in relation to the figures for pure science that one has to question the basis of these estimates.
What technological teaching do those people have? They may be lowly trained personnel.
§ Mr. Albu: They are not.
§ Mr. Albu rose——
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I have no time to give way.
That figure of 60,000 technologists is put against a figure in Great Britain of 2,800 technologists. It depends what we mean by technologists. I should think that the number of people we turn out of the grammar schools, the secondary schools, the technical and modern schools every year who have something to do with engineering and with science and technology is way beyond that figure of 2,800. It must be, by all experience, looking round us, and I question the basis of these figures and mistrust them completely. I do not think we ought to get into a state of very great anxiety about them.
There is great folly—and this is all I have time to say now; I much regret it, but there will be other occasions—there is great folly in the United Kingdom going round the world, finding the optimum everywhere and trying to see whether we can compete with it. We go 733 to Russia for figures and we get anxious about our applied scientists. We go to the United States for a figure and get anxious about our motor car production and civil aviation. We go to Denmark for a figure and get anxious about the state of our agricultural production. We go to Germany for a figure and start an immense new road programme—[HON. MEMBERS: "When?"]—I cannot promise when or where. It is coming. We go to France to have a look at railway electrification, and we immediately say we must have something as good as that.
A small island like ours cannot go on doing this kind of thing without suffering the most terrible inflation. If there had been time I should have tried to put the sociological argument against too great a massive scientific advance, from the inflationary point of view.
One of the reasons—and these are my last words—why I so much welcome our advent into Europe, from the free trade point of view, is that I think it will give us a much broader basis on which to judge these giants. It will condition our industry and our financing of our industry; it will stabilise us and take us out of this vast spiral of inflation which is largely induced by the technologists and scientists. I am sorry that I cannot dwell on this now—and the connection between scientists and technologists and the Labour Party is another very fascinating study which I should like to make on another occasion. Britain is going through, or will go through unless we take proper measures, very serious inflation, and it can be stabilised only by more quietening of the public mind that will come from our advent into Western European union, in which we shall have a broader platform from which to judge these so-called giants, and can look at these things in their proper relation.
§ 2.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I hope the House will on some future occasion enjoy a contribution by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) when we discuss a possible White Paper about the development of atomic energy. It is interesting to note, in passing, that he and some of his hon. Friends object to the present programme. That was the implication in the Amendment, which I 734 do not propose to discuss now. All I can say to the noble Lord is that a massive programme, in the sense of massive scientific advance, is essential to this country and to its well-being.
The noble Lord talked of our association with Western Europe. We would, in order to compete with Western European Powers like Western Germany and France, have to put a greater emphasis upon our technological advance. Even if we take the noble Lord's point of view about association with Western Europe, we should still have to speed up very quickly and very energetically our technical progress. I hope, however, that if we come to a closer association with Western Europe, we shall not neglect our other associations with the Commonwealth and the Colonial Territories.
I shall watch with interest the noble Lord's views on that aspect, because I believe that if we are to play our part in the world, we must not only develop our technical skills here and our technical revolution here, but also speed it up in the British Commonwealth, where we have direct responsibilities, and I should like to see that association developed before that mentioned by the noble Lord. That would make for a fascinating debate, certainly at a later stage.
I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) on being successful in the Ballot and on bringing this matter forward, and I hope that we shall continue periodically to debate this problem, which is undoubtedly the major problem with which we are faced in our domestic field.
How can we apply scientific developments to a rapidly expanding economy, to our industry—not only to our industry, but also to our agriculture? We are very grateful indeed to my hon. Friend for moving this Motion, and for provoking us this afternoon by his own contribution. We cannot discuss in detail the terms of the atomic energy programme. That programme was announced in this House by the Paymaster-General on 5th March. The original programme, which was put forward in Command Paper 9389, presented in 1955, set a target of approximately 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity in operation by the end of 1965.
735 Now that programme is to be virtually trebled. I mention this because, when the Paymaster-General introduced it in this House recently, he was pressed by the Opposition about it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), while welcoming the programme, asked specifically if the Government had plans which relate really to the Motion we are discussing today. He asked whether the Minister was satisfied that, in order to meet this new atomic energy programme, there would be an adequate supply of physical and financial resources.
Indeed, if one looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT for that day, one finds that my right hon. Friend specifically asked the Minister to give an undertaking that we have the necessary technical people with the experience to do that job. He asked if they would be forthcoming. That question was put not only by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth, but also by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) who asked if the Atomic Energy Authority was satisfied that we have the skilled personnel to meet the new programme.
I must confess that, if one reads the OFFICIAL REPORT, one finds that the Government did not give a specific reply. We are not certain whether or not, in order to meet this treble increase in our atomic energy programme, the Atomic Energy Authority will have the skilled personnel available. In this House, the PaymasterGeneral—and indeed in another place, the Minister of Power himself—has not as yet given specific answers to those questions. That is why I hope that we shall have some reassurance in that matter today.
Indeed, earlier, in a speech reported in the excellent paper, the new Technology published by The Times, a monthly review of training and education for industry, Sir Edwin Plowden, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority, drew our attention to this. He said:The expanded power programme would require more scientists and technologists of many different kinds. There would be particular needs, like that for more metalurgists, but one of the worst shortages was bound to be a shortage that was already general throughout industry.He mentioned the shortage of design engineers and then said: 736In the world we want to live in we turn out a woefully inadequate number of scientists and technologists.As Chairman of the Authority he recognised that there is a shortage.
In the Second Annual Report of the Atomic Energy Authority there again we find emphasis placed upon the shortage of staff in the different departments. Page 3 deals with Harwell, and on subsequent pages, including pages 26 and 27, we find over and over again that work has been held up partly because of the difficulty which the Authority has had in obtaining staff, particularly engineering staff.
Therefore, I am not so optimistic as to assume that the expanded atomic energy programme will be able to continue smoothly, and that we shall have an adequate supply of technicians and technologists. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) mentioned what Sir John Cockroft said at a meeting of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. Sir John, who is a distinguished scientific member of the Authority, was optimistic that there would be no shortages, but against that we have the Reports of the Authority and also the speeches of Sir Edwin Plowden, the Chairman.
The problems of the Atomic Energy Authority are also the problems of private industry connected with the Authority. It must be remembered that in our atomic energy programme there are four main industrial groups, and they too will face this difficulty. So far the private sector and the Authority itself have done a magnificent job. We all welcome the new programme and we have already welcomed the work done, and the example of Calder Hall. Nevertheless, in the future both private industry connected with atomic energy development and the Authority itself may well feel the strain of an inadequate supply of scientists and technologists.
Mention has been made of what other countries are doing. We must remember that we were the first in this field. Whilst we compare our development with that of other countries, and whilst we recognise that there are dangers, we also appreciate that in atomic energy development for peaceful purposes we lead the world in many respects. Although we may criticise the general programme, and the possible shortage of scientists, we recognise that 737 we have made great advances. As my hon. Friend said in moving the Motion, this is not just a problem for the atomic energy industry. All our industries are expanding, and we shall need to change some of our traditional ones. For instance, we need to modernise our transport, and so more and more we shall require technicians and technologists.
Here I come to what I believe to be the main issue. Can we really match our educational system to the needs of a scientific age? That has been the theme of many of the speeches made today. Can we really say that our educational system is sufficiently strong at the base—or even at the top if we think of it in terms of a pyramid? Is it in a fit condition to provide the skilled manpower which will be needed at all levels in industry over the next ten years? I have always urged in previous debates that the education of our technicians, technologists and scientists cannot be divorced from our general educational system. After all, it is the general schools system which feeds our technical colleges and universities. That is obvious, but it must be stressed.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd), in an interesting and stimulating speech which we all welcomed, stressed the fact that the quality and quantity of our scientists depends upon the quality and quantity of the teaching in the schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) emphasised this in his speech, as he has done on many other occasions. We had a major debate on the Government's plan for technical education and there was a White Paper some time ago. We approved the spending of £70 million on buildings and another £15 million on equipment for England and Wales, but we urged that the programme was not adequate to meet the demands of the nation. We shall go on saying that, and we shall continue to prod the Minister in that direction.
That is why I want to put one or two specific points to the Minister on technical education. I hope that he will give a reply to my hon. Friends the Members for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) and Cleveland, about colleges of advanced technology and about the diploma. May I ask the Minister about Circular 306, which affected general school building? Has 738 building been held up? Has he any progress to report from the local authorities? Has technical education been affected by that circular?
Again, has the rise in prices of essential materials already affected the programme originally announced in the White Paper? After all, costs have gone up. We see that in university development, and it was emphasised in the university report mentioned in detail by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley). Has university development been held up because costs have risen and have the original financial allocations been frustrated? Is that true as regards technical education? Can it be said that increased costs of building are causing a situation where we shall need an increased financial allocation over the next five years?
My next question concerns the junior technical school. I have my own views about this which may not be the views of my party. I do not think that there is any future in technical school specialisation—that is to say, specialisation at the early age of eleven. I want to see a greater emphasis on technical study in the secondary modern schools, the grammar schools and the comprehensive schools. I should like to know what is the view of the Minister. As I have said. I have mentioned this previously. We have had many reports on it. We had, originally, the Percy Committee's Report when, after the war, it was thought that there would be a rapid expansion of the old junior technical schools into the sphere of secondary technical education. We know that those schools have not been expanded. I hope that expansion will not be in that direction, but the Minister is not certain. The Parliamentary Secretary's noble Friend, in a speech which he made at Brighton, when he spoke of the future of secondary education, expressed uncertainty at one period of his speech. He said:… the theories on which secondary technical schools have been built and maintained have to some extent become obsolete, and the changing theories will inevitably find some reflection in changing practice.The Minister said later:But is there not a case for a type of collective secondary school, setting its sights as high as a grammar school, but which starts from a fresh foundation uninfluenced by the ancient tradition?739 I am not sure what the Minister really means——
§ Mr. Peart
I am wondering, as my right hon. Friend says, whether the Minister knows. But there is no certainty, and I know that people engaged in technical education are anxious that the Minister should be definite on this matter. However, I trust that the Minister will continue to concentrate on secondary modern schools, grammar schools and comprehensive schools where we could have a developing interest in technical education.
The question of the teaching of science has not been mentioned in detail, and I wish to refer to that now. I am certain that we should teach science more in the primary schools. It is not just a subject for the secondary schools or the higher spheres of education. Greater emphasis should be laid on the teaching of science in the primary schools. Even now, there are in existence some admirable books which could rouse the interest of children in this matter. My own little boy has the excellent Rathbone books, with which some hon. Members may be familiar. They are edited by James Fisher. The Daily Mirror has published an excellent junior encyclopaedia of science which is well illustrated. I am certain, therefore, that were there a greater emphasis on the teaching of science in the primary schools the encouragement of interest there would have a good effect later.
I believe that all teachers in training colleges, the two-year, or even those in the training departments of universities, and graduates taking their teaching diploma, should be taught science. If an arts graduate is taking a diploma, he should be given some training in the rudiments of science in his diploma year. I believe that the two-year trained teacher, even though he or she may be going to a primary school, should be taught science and have instruction in a training college. I wish, therefore, to know whether the Minister has attempted to survey the conditions in our training colleges. Too often our training colleges have to take the initiative in that direction.
740 I know of one training college which has to "cadge"—if I may use that word—for the money with which to build science laboratories for the training of teachers. I consider that a dreadful state of affairs. It should not be left to governing bodies of colleges to do that. The Minister should take the initiative, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be forthcoming on that point this afternoon.
The question of teaching staff presents a major problem. Only one in four of the teachers in grammar schools and independent schools teach mathematics and science, and, what is worse, 80 per cent. of the talented boys in grammar schools and independent schools receive no science teaching at all.
I wish to come quickly to the matter of university development which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Park Division of Sheffield. From Command Paper 79, which contains the report from 1952 to 1956, we see that over and over again development has been restricted and the original programme announced by the Government for the previous four years has not been fulfilled. The reasons are the rise in wages and building costs. That has hampered university development. I still believe that the new programme announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not meet the needs of our age, that the universities must develop more rapidly their engineering and science departments.
As has been said, we still have too big a preponderance of arts students at the universities. One of my hon. Friends quoted figures from Table III on page 8 of the University Development Report as well as figures from page 7. Arts students entering a university for the first time in 1956 numbered 11,461, pure science students 5,888 and technology students, 3,842. There is still too much emphasis on arts at our universities and we have certainly to change that balance, not because we are against the study of arts and humanities, but because if this country is to have the luxury of those studies, it must develop its technology and it must develop its industry by the application of new techniques.
There is no conflict between arts and science in the universities, except that we want to see a greater emphasis on the 741 science side and an end of the bias towards arts which still exists. The Ninth Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, published at the end of last year, also stresses what we are seeking to point out today—the need to increase our annual output of scientists, and how they are to be increased by 70 per cent. by 1966 and by 100 per cent. by 1970. However, to achieve that we must build up the base which I have mentioned. We must see that our secondary schools are developed and that within our secondary schools students are enabled to have greater opportunities for the study of science itself.
I think there is general agreement, despite the intervention of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South that we must speed up our scientific advance. Of course we have competitors. I am thinking not in terms of military competitors, but trade competitors all over the world. If we are to remain a major commercial power, we must apply new techniques. Scientific advance is essential for the increasing prosperity and standard of living of our people.
Everyone on both sides of the House accepts that and, indeed, the nation accepts it. We, therefore, have to ensure that we gear our educational system to the needs of industry. Other Powers certainly offer a challenge to us and I do not doubt the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd). We have the figures for scientists in China, Russia, Western Germany, Canada and the United States of America and if we are not careful, we shall be left behind.
There is one other aspect. We have also to give technical leadership to the world. That is important. We have to help to channel the skills of the Western world to the East. We have to ensure, as a responsible Power, that we develop our Colonial Territories and the Commonwealth. We have moral obligations to conquer poverty and disease in those areas. We can do it only if we provide a sufficient number of trained scientists and trained technicians.
If we are to keep British leadership in the world, it is vital to make those advances. I close by asking the Parlia- 742 mentary Secretary to impress on his noble Friend that we must have a strong base in this matter, that our school system must be speeded up in the sense that there is a greater bias towards the teaching of science and that technical education is not neglected. In turn, a developing school system will make a healthy flow of students towards our colleges of advanced technology and our universities.
We must do this and do it very quickly and the Government must see that there is no economy in education, not only in the sense of Estimates, but in actual physical allocation of resources. We must ensure that next year and in the years ahead education has considerable priority, despite the critics who still remain in the party of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
The whole House will agree that we have had an excellent debate today, and I am sure we are all most grateful to the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) for having selected this subject when he was fortunate in the Ballot.
I will do my very best, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) suggested, to give the House some kind of a progress report on this highly important subject. I shall also try to answer as many as I can of the points raised in this debate. I would only say to the House that this is a big subject to master in a couple of months and that if I am not able to answer all the questions which have been put I shall honestly say so.
May I say that I am extremely sorry that I should have been partly responsible for involving the Chair in a question half an hour ago. I would say to my noble Friend the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) that ever since I have been a Member of this House I have always tried to observe the courtesies of debate but, as this subject is so important, I suggested to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) that I might perhaps have three-quarters of an hour to reply so that I could do it justice.
743 Naturally, I do not propose today to say very much about the first part of the Motion, which deals with the atomic programme itself. I think there is general agreement in the country that one of the most vital problems facing Britain today is that of earning our living as a nation in world markets which are becoming increasingly more competitive. Furthermore, I think it is much more generally realised today than, perhaps, was the case some years ago that the level of exports which an industrial country can achieve is very closely bound up with its level of capital investment in productive industry.
I have always believed—and in my pre-Suez incarnation as Economic Secretary I used often to observe—that no Government can ever abdicate responsibility for seeing that a proper balance is kept in the economy between capital investment and current consumption. Furthermore, within the total of capital investment we have to keep some kind of a balance between investments in the basic industries and investment in the manufacturing industries. The only comment I would add this afternoon is that, however warmly we welcome the revised nuclear power programme, I hope none of us will ignore the all-important warning in the last paragraph of the statement which my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General made in this House on 5th March. I will remind the House of this because it is so important. My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General said in his statement:I would only add that nothing said about the prospects of the nuclear power programme in any way affects the importance of the coal industry. However rapidly we develop nuclear energy, coal will remain the basis of our economy and the need to exploit to the full our national coal resources remains as urgent as ever."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March 1957; Vol. 566, c. 186.]I believe it is no exaggeration to say, as I ventured to say in this House once before, that the very first need of the atomic age is to produce more coal. Do not let us overlook, also, the vast importance of the steel industry to the British economy. It is worth remembering that in 1955 increased imports of steel accounted for more than two-thirds of our balance of payments deficit. I am sure the whole House has welcomed the announcement of the steel industry of a 744 bold and expanding programme for the tears ahead.
The hon. Member for Paddington, North referred in his speech to the specific effect of the atomic energy programme on our plans for technical education. I entirely agree that it is not simply just a matter of extra demands for the atomic programme, but of the effect of total demands for technical education. I assure the House that that is already under discussion between the Ministry, the University Grants Committee and the Atomic Energy Authority. As I am sure the House is aware, for the most part the construction of a nuclear power station demands engineers and technicians trained in what one might term the traditional disciplines of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering.
Apart from the reactor, a nuclear power station requires equipment which is very much the same as the equipment in a coal-fired station. Indeed, even the construction of the reactor itself is fundamentally a job requiring the application of standard engineering principles. To a large extent, therefore, the new power station programme will make demands on the ordinary engineering manpower of this country.
It is quite true, however, that some of the specialists will require, besides their basic training in engineering, an additional training in nuclear science and technology to enable them to cope with the special problems which arise in the construction of reactors. Furthermore, the engineers who will operate the atomic power stations will require some further specialist knowledge of nuclear science in its application to power production.
So far, all the needs for further specialist education in the industrial aspects of nuclear science are being met at the two reactor schools of the Atomic Energy Authority and by a number of courses provided in universities and technical colleges. At the same time, arrangements are being made for continuing close consultation with the Authority so that the universities and colleges can be ready to meet new needs as they arise. I thought I would tell the House that the Government are taking fully into account the special needs which will arise as a result of this increased power programme.
745 May I pass to the second part of the hon. Member's Motion, which reads,… and considers that, in view of these developments, scientific and technical education at all levels should be expanded with the maximum speed.I need hardly say, at the outset of my remarks, that the Government are very happy indeed to accept this Motion.
I am sure it will be common ground among us all in the House that it is becoming more and more true of every industry that skilled manpower is what counts. We need first-class managers, designers, draughtsmen, research workers, technicians and craftsmen all the way down the line. I feel that this point received very striking confirmation in the Report which was published by the Ministry of Labour and the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy last autumn. This Report was concerned with scientists and with professional engineers only, and its conclusion was that manufacturing industry estimated that it needed 30 per cent. more of these people by 1959 and that the target increase in the next ten years was put as high as 60 per cent.
In this connection I should like to mention one set of figures which is particularly interesting to me. At present, two-thirds of the total force of scientists and engineers are concentrated in industries which account for only three-tenths of the total number of employees, and those industries include electrical engineering, chemicals, aircraft and certain types of plant and machinery—that is to say, exactly the expanding sections of our economy on which our export trade and therefore our standard of living so very largely depends. It is exactly those industries where two-thirds of our total force of scientists and engineers are concentrated.
The House will agree that those figures show very clearly the extent to which Britain's economic future is dependent on the progress of technical education and, furthermore—and I think this is most important—that the scientists and technologists must be backed up by technicians and craftsmen. I have met a number of business men who assure me that the most critical shortage in a few years time may well be not so much in scientists or technologists as in technicians.
746 It is not only a matter of producing a sufficient supply of first-class alphas. We shall always have first-class alphas in our academic life. There is no great difficulty about that. But it is not enough simply to produce sufficient first-class alphas in science and technology. We must also have an adequate supply of competent betas if we are to maintain our position in a highly-competitive world.
I pass to the question of how we can produce a very much larger number of scientists, technologists and technicians. Broadly speaking, as the House will be aware, the Government's plan is that the universities and the advanced courses in the technical colleges should together produce the required output of scientists and technologists in roughly equal numbers from each source. At present, in round figures, we aim to increase the output of scientists and technologists from the present number of 10,000 a year to 20,000 a year in the next ten to fifteen years. I will break up the figures a little more in a moment in order to answer the points raised by the hon. Member for Paddington, North. As for technicians and craftsmen, those will come from the technical colleges.
Before I go on to the function of the universities and the technical colleges, I should like to speak for just a few minutes about the very important part which the schools have to play in our system of technical education, because I agree they are the foundation of the whole thing. As the House will know, the Government's proposals for increasing the output of scientists and technologists really involve three alternative routes. First, there are the universities; secondly, there are the secondary technical, secondary modern, and grammar school sixth forms, and thirdly, we look to all types of secondary schools, through part-time courses leading ultimately to membership of the professional institutions.
It is, of course, the first and second routes which will provide the bulk of our scientists and technologists, but the third route—what is sometimes known as "the hard way"—will continue to provide a substantial number. I gather that industry puts a high value on those who have come through by this route.
747 I should like to emphasise to the House that all types of secondary schools will play their part in providing the scientists and technologists we need, but I am not sure that it is always realised what a contribution secondary modern schools are already making. In actual fact, about one quarter of the successful candidates in Higher National Certificate examinations have been coming from secondary modern schools.
The grammar school sixth forms must remain the chief source both for the universities and for the advanced courses at technical colleges. At present, something like 7,000 out of the 10,000 scientists and technologists who are produced annually have had a sixth form education, and I am sure the House will agree that we should be failing pretty seriously if we did not make this true of at least 11,000 of the extended output of 20,000 at which we are aiming in the 'sixties.
One point that rises here relates to the curriculum of the grammar schools. It is sometimes asked whether there should not be a shift there from the side of arts to the side of science. When one looks at the actual figures, I do not think it can be argued that the schools are falling down on the job. I had the figures looked up before this debate, and I find that in all secondary schools the increase in the number of boys and girls obtaining passes at general level G.C.E. maths and physics rose by nearly 50 per cent. between 1952 and 1956, and that this was a much greater increase than was achieved in arts subjects.
Furthermore, about 60 per cent. of boys in the sixth forms of maintained grammar schools are today devoting themselves mainly to the study of some scientific subject, and the corresponding figure for boys' public schools is about 50 per cent.——
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
Can the Parliamentary Secretary give the corresponding figures for girls in the secondary schools?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I will have to say something later about girls. It is not so encouraging, but I will certainly deal with that point.
I did want to say a word about the shortage of maths and science teachers. I must tell the House that at the moment the position is a little disquieting. The 748 number of teachers in maintained grammar and secondary schools known to have degrees in maths and science has recently risen but has not kept pace with the demand, and there has been some fall in quality as well as in quantity. There are those who would say, in fact—and there is some truth in it—that it is the teacher factor that is the greatest difficulty in the whole problem of scientific and technical education.
We have taken certain steps to improve the position. For the first time in 1956 indefinite deferment of National Service was granted to first and second class honours graduates in mathematics and science to take up posts in schools where advanced science courses were provided. I am told that in 1956 201 graduates were deferred, 33 of whom held first class honours degrees. Again in 1955 and in 1956 improvements have been made in the salaries of teachers. But we are not going to be content with these measures alone. We are doing our best to bring teaching as a career to the attention of science graduates and we are encouraging closer relations between schools and industry.
In particular, I should like to mention the arrangement by which a number of teachers are given vocational attachments at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern. They are two of the most interesting establishments which I was privileged to see when I was at the Ministry of Supply. Not only the universities but a large number of industrial firms provide refresher courses and conferences for teachers. For example, there is the excellent course provided by Metropolitan Vickers at Manchester.
It is not only more teachers that we need, but more accommodation and more scientific equipment as well. Here I should like to acknowledge the help that we have received in the form of the industrial fund in the advancement of scientific education in schools. I think the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), in his admirable speech, referred to the equipment in the maintained schools, which is a fair point.
I would give these figures. Since the war about 1,000 laboratories have been built in grammar and secondary schools at a total cost of £4½ million; about 749 2,250 laboratories have been provided in modern schools at a cost of £9 million. The value of equipment provided for these laboratories amounts to rather more than £2½ million, divided almost equally between the grammar and technical schools on the one hand and modern schools on the other.
As the House will be aware, my noble Friend has recently announced in a circular letter to the authorities that he will beprepared to consider favourably extension, to schools containing a substantial number of pupils over the age of 15 designed to provide adequate facilities for the teaching of mathematics and science and forming part of the long-term development of the schools premises.The hon. Member for Workington mentioned the importance of the teacher training colleges. I am afraid they are not at present as fully staffed for the teaching of mathematics and science as I could wish. None the less, changes are taking place. Last year after discussion by the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers, the Ministry asked the area training organisations and colleges to review the balance of their staffing and curricula with particular reference to the need for improvements in mathematics and science. There are some quite encouraging indications. For example, in the current academic year there is an increase of about 10 per cent. in the number of training college lecturers teaching mathematics, and there is also some increase in science lecturers.
I should like to mention one particular new development in science, namely that in ten colleges there are special two-year courses in science integrated with and followed continuously by a third-year spent wholly on the study of science. I can promise the hon. Member that although changes in the outlook of educational institutions are not easy to make rapidly, we are giving a good deal of attention to that and I agree with him about its importance.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I could not answer that question offhand, but I will let the right hon. Gentleman have some more detailed figures by letter if he would like them.
Before I leave the question of schools, I ought to say a word on a subject which has been hardly mentioned this afternoon, which is the link between school and further education.
Of course, the closeness of the relationship between technical colleges and secondary schools of all kinds varies pretty widely in different regions, and even more widely in respect of different types of secondary school. As one might expect, the relations tend to be best between the technical colleges and the secondary technical schools. With secondary modern schools the relationship tends to be a little less active, and this is even more true of the great majority of grammar schools.
The link between the schools and further education is so absolutely fundamental to the policy contained in the Government's White Paper that the right hon. Gentleman the former Minister made it one of the principal subjects of inquiry by the Central Advisory Council. As the House will be aware, this Council, under the very able chairmanship of Mr. Geoffrey Crowther, is studying the educational needs of young people between the ages of 15 and 18, and is looking particularly at the inter-relation between the various stages of education. A great deal of information has already been gathered by this Committee, but it will be some time before the report can be prepared and published.
However, a shorter exercise has only recently been carried out by the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce, and the reports that they have received reveal that local education authorities are taking this matter seriously and a good deal of experiment is going on
The essence of the problem is really how to link up full-time courses in school, from which pupils come at ages varying from 15 to 19, and with varying academic attainments, with the vocational courses in the technical colleges which have their own distinctive stages at points of entry. That is not at all easy. I am sure the House will agree that it would be no good to try to narrow down the school curriculum with the object of trying to make 751 it a more direct preparation for the courses of technical colleges. It is also rather interesting that the principals of technical colleges tend in the main to prefer to receive a student who has been educated broadly to the limit of his ability than to receive a student who may have achieved a higher standard in a special subject at the expense of a broad education.
The really important point surely is to try to ensure that there is an adequate continuity of purpose and knowledge between the technical college and the secondary school staffs. Here I must say a special word about the grammar schools because, in general, the grammar schools have not yet developed a close interest in technical colleges as an avenue of high qualifications for their school leavers.
This is a rather serious matter when one recalls that between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the successful candidates in Ordinary National Certificate and Higher National Certificate Examinations come from the grammar schools, and there really must be a closer link here if there is not to be a serious wastage of potential technologists. It is encouraging to hear of the existence in some areas, such as North-West Lancashire, of Standing Committees of Principals of Colleges and Heads of Grammar Schools, through which heads can inform themselves of the requirements and types of courses available in the Colleges.
There is a great deal more that could be done. There could surely be more visits by the staffs and senior pupils of grammar schools to technical colleges in order to study the work done and the courses available. Again, there is the possibility of the holding of more open days in the colleges, designed especially for school leavers and their parents. I think that it would probably help on a more personal level if there could be more feed-back of information from technical colleges to schools concerning the performance in examinations of former pupils.
These are not new ideas. They have all been tried out in various areas, but I believe there is need for a more sympathetic and energetic approach.
I have already mentioned that the links between the secondary technical schools 752 and the colleges are usually pretty good, which is natural enough since many such schools were originally housed in technical college buildings and some still are. In many areas, the link between secondary modern schools and the colleges is also good, and I know well that many local education authorities are devoting a good deal of attention to this. One interesting experiment which we would warmly commend at the Ministry has been the organisation of a course in technical colleges for science masters of secondary modern schools. I have devoted perhaps too long a time to this question of the link between secondary school and technical college, but I believe it to be important.
This afternoon I cannot add to what the Minister has recently said about the technical schools. I would rather not comment on that today, but I will answer the point about school building. As hon. Members will know, the school building programme was being distorted by the investment boom and over-pressure on resources. The situation has now improved considerably, and there has been a substantial increase in building labour engaged on school building. As I said in the House the other day in answer to a Question, I believe that the programme, increased by £5 million, is in fact slightly better than it sounds, because, as a result of the credit squeeze and of a measure which I do not believe to have been by any means ineffective, namely, tighter control on borrowing through the Capital Issues Committee, it is now possible to get a higher speed of school building in most areas. I think hon. Members will find schools being completed at an appreciably faster rate.
§ Sir E. Boyle
No; I remember defending tighter control by the Capital Issues Committee against attacks by the hon. Gentleman's hon. and right hon. Friends during a debate on a Prayer.
I turn now to the work of the universities and technical colleges. So far as the universities are concerned, I cannot, of course, add very much to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman, the former Financial Secretary, in his statement in the House at the end of last year. As the House will know, the universities are working out, with full 753 Government support, plans for a radical expansion in the scientific and technological departments. The position as regards science in the universities is shown in these figures.
Proposals already made by the universities provide for raising the number of university students from 84,000 in 1955–56 to 106,000 by the mid-1960s. Of this increased number, about two-thirds will be in science and technology. At the beginning of the current academic session, numbers had risen to nearly 89,000. First admissions of students reading for first degree and diplomas, for all faculties, were up by 6.4 per cent. over the previous year, but in pure science the increase was a little over 11 per cent., and in technology the increase was 13 per cent. Thus, it is fair to say that, at the moment, science and technology are developing considerably faster than the other sides of the universities.
§ Mr. Mulley
Would the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that the same figures show that the percentage of new entrants reading arts in 1956 is a higher figure than the average in 1938?
§ Sir E. Boyle
That may be; but I really do not think it refutes the figures I have just quoted. Last year, the total increase was 6.4 per cent. and, as I say, science had an increase of 11.3 per cent. and technology an increase of 13 per cent.
As part of the programme of expansion in the universities, the University Grants Committee is giving authority for starts on new building to the value of £102 million in 1957, £12 million in 1958, and another £12 million in 1959. Of course, that is over and above the large sums required for the expansion of Imperial College. The rate of university building is to be more than doubled during the next three years. The list of extensions and additions, apart from halls of residence and laboratories, consists almost entirely of accommodation for science and technologists.
I pass now to the expansion of technical colleges. Hon. Members will be aware that these colleges display an extraordinary variety. Altogether, we have about 550 technical colleges in England and Wales catering for well over a million students, and that, of course, leaves out evening institutes which are attended by another million students. 754 Work at these colleges is carried on at every level from general education courses for young people up to postgraduate courses.
The growth of these colleges, like so much in our education system, has been rather haphazard in response to specific local needs. The Government think that, with this tremendous expansion in front of us, the time has now come to bring a greater degree of system into the organisation of technical colleges. We are extremely short of qualified teachers, and we must ensure that the ones that we have are used to the best advantage.
This rationalisation of the system has been a major task of the Ministry ever since my right hon. Friend the former Minister published the White Paper on Technical Education a year ago. In the first place, we are classifying the colleges in four categories ranging from purely local colleges doing lower grade elementary work up to colleges of advanced technology which are institutions of national importance concentrating entirely on advanced work.
Secondly, we want to strengthen the arrangements for the organisation of colleges and courses. Colleges are maintained by local authorities. Our policy is to encourage groups of local authorities to work ever more closely together and to cut out duplication of courses so as to make the most efficient use of staffs and buildings.
Thirdly, we are feeding technical education with large amounts of new capital. In England and Wales alone we are authorising a programme of new building and equipment costing £85 million to be put in hand by 1960 and 1961, and well over half that sum has already been authorised for certain projects.
I want now to say a word about teachers for technical colleges, for they are, after all, even more important than buildings. At present, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) mentioned, the problems of their training and recruitment are being examined by a special sub-committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Willis Jackson. I thought the House might like to know that we are expecting to have the Report fairly soon. So far as I know, the remuneration of technical teachers—I agree with the hon. 755 Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) that we do not really talk more realistically in these debates by never mentioning the question of remuneration—compares not too unfavourably with service in industry and commerce, and I think recruitment has improved since the last awards were made.
I now want to say a word about the Colleges of Advanced Technology. Since June last year when the former Minister made his announcement, the eight colleges which were then provisionally designated have all had their designation confirmed. I remember giving a list of them to my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) a few days ago. It has not proved easy to transform all these colleges into Colleges of Advanced Technology, but we aim to shed the non-advanced work from them as soon as possible, and plans are already being drawn up for a big increase in full-time and sandwich courses. I certainly hope it should be possible within the period covered by the White Paper to more than double—if, Mr. Speaker, you will forgive the split infinitive—the number of students at the colleges; that is, to increase them from 4,000 to 8.000 or 9,000. The colleges will then be making a major contribution to the increased output from advanced courses foreshadowed in the White Paper. There is certainly every indication that industry welcomes the designation of these colleges and intends to continue supporting them by sending students to the sandwich courses.
With regard to future designations, the Bristol local education authority, with the full agreement of the Ministry, is planning the new buildings for its college in such a way that if the volume of advanced work there continues to grow, as everyone hopes it will, the Minister will be able soon to designate it as a college of advanced technology.
With regard to the North-East of England, I regret that I still cannot give the House any fresh information today, but my noble Friend——
§ Mr. Willey rose——
§ Sir E. Boyle
I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I have no more to say on this, except to repeat that my noble Friend is still waiting to receive the report of the Northern Advisory Council for Further Education before he can make a decision.
§ Mr. Willey
Might I just ask the hon. Gentleman not to wait any longer but to use his good offices to expedite the matter?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I regularly remind my noble Friend that whenever Question Time comes round I must expect at least two Questions from hon. Members representing the North-East Coast.
The hon. Member for Edmonton raised the very important question of the relationship between the universities and the colleges of advanced technology. I am very glad he did so, because it gives me an opportunity to thank the universities for the admirable way in which they have helped in the establishment of the present-day working of the Hives Council.
I wish to say a word about the Hives Council. If we are to raise the quality, as well as increase the quantity, of the work in technical colleges, then it is obviously essential to provide an objective for students in the form of a national award of a high standing and with such an authoritative backing as to be immediately accepted in industry.
The National Council for Technological Awards, the Hives Council, was set up for this purpose in 1955, and I can assure the House it is now firmly established, with every sign of widespread eagerness to obtain the seal of its approval on courses. The Council announced on 12th March this year that it had recognised for the purposes of the award of the Diploma in Technology 23 courses which are already in being and another five which it is proposed should start in the near future. These courses are not confined to courses in advanced technology. Acton Technical College and Woolwich Polytechnic have been recognised as well.
In answer to the hon. Member for Edmonton, I can absolutely promise that the Hives Council is quite definite in its insistence on very high standards. It has announced that the diploma for technological standards will be at the level of an honours degree. There is no doubt about that at all.
I am also very glad to be able to pay high testimony to the work of the universities on the Hives Council. The Council is one point of contact, and a very important one, between colleges giving advanced courses and the Universities Regional Advisory Councils on 757 Further Education are another point of contact. It is their responsibility to advise local education authorities on the co-ordination of all levels of higher education in their areas.
I need hardly mention that the Universities Grants Committee has a Ministry of Education assessor serving on it, and I think there is very little danger of either party in this programme of expansion not knowing what the other is doing. I need hardly say that it is most unlikely that the work of universities and colleges of advanced technology will overlap or produce too many graduates between them. There is plenty of room for expansion in both.
The hon. Member for Edmonton raised the very pertinent question of the inter-authority payment of fees. This is a rather complicated matter. I can just say this. Agreement has been reached on the actual amounts of out-county fees to be paid and at a meeting in July, 1956, representatives of the local authorities' associations agreed to recomment to their members that automatic consent should be given to students who wish to attend courses outside their own authority areas unless, for special reasons, they wished to retain the requirement of prior consent. Relations between the Ministry and the local authorities are delicate on matters of this kind, but I promise the hon. Gentleman that I have taken full note of his point and will watch it and keep in touch with him because I agree that it is important.
I would now say a word in answer to the hon. Member for Paddington, North, who quoted a number of figures. I think one has to remember to distinguish between technologists on the one hand and students taking advanced courses at technical colleges on the other, because many of the latter who take advanced courses become not technologists but high-grade technicians, which is not quite the same thing. At present, the annual output of advanced courses at technical colleges is 9,500 and the annual output of technologists is 5,000, so with the 5,000 scientists that gives us 10,000 scientists and technologists.
It is hoped by the late 'sixties to produce at least 20,000 scientists and technologists; so far as we can measure, approximately 10,000 of each. This 758 means that by the late 'sixties we should hope that our technical colleges should be producing at least 5,000 extra technologists a year.
One other word about sandwich courses. I gave the figures for this year, but I can in addition say to the House that the entries last year were over 1,000. The present output of the sandwich courses is 500. We are doing all we possibly can to encourage industry to take the maximum possible interest in expanding sandwich courses.
§ Mr. Parkin
Will the hon. Gentleman deal with the estimate that the sandwich courses need a tenfold increase?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I think the hon. Member's arithmetic was a little bit out. I find that exchanges on this subject are a little bit difficult across the Floor of the House, and I will study the hon. Member's words very carefully in HANSARD and will write to him giving him, as I see it, a fair picture of the present position and a fair estimate of the future. I think it would be more satisfactory than a continuation of the exchanges this afternoon.
We want to retain the close links with industry, and I do emphasise "earning and learning side by side", but we have to join this up with something more akin to full-time study, and that is the reason for our belief in the value of sandwich courses. Such courses allow ample time for work of a high academic standard, yet at the same time, it remains closely geared to the requirements of a particular firm. I believe that the sandwich course is becoming increasingly popular with firms which make considerable use of highly trained technologists. I assure the House that we are doing all we possibly can to bring the advantages of sandwich courses to the attention of industry, and only on Wednesday of this week I spoke myself at a luncheon of the Executive Committee of the National Union of Manufacturers.
About technical education on a less advanced level, to which the hon. Member for Edmonton referred in his speech, here part-time day courses are a suitable method of training. Since the war, there has been a great deal of attention given to the training of young workers. Most 759 industries have reviewed their arrangements for apprenticeship and training, and it is certainly most encouraging that the figure for part-time day release students in the colleges should have already doubled itself between 1947 and 1955. I remember saying only recently in a speech that a further doubling of the part-time students envisaged in the White Paper may well prove a very conservative estimate of what we require.
Now a word or two about craftsmen and apprentices. For the training of craftsmen, we rely on the training provided by industry itself, usually supplemented by part-time education in the day or evening in the technical college. It is certainly encouraging to see that increasing numbers of craftsmen are taking the examinations, for example, in the craft of subjects of the examining unions and in the City and Guilds of London Institute. Encouraging as some of the figures are, the figures for machine shop engineering are distinctly encouraging, but we ought to do better still, and I very much hope that it will have much greater support.
It is with these considerations in mind that the National Joint Advisory Council of the Ministry of Labour set up a committee, under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, to consider that aspect of apprenticeship, including age of entry, the relationship with secondary education, with part-time education and the technical colleges, and the whole nature of the training. I am told that this Committee, of which. curiously, Ted Hill is a member, has already obtained an impressive amount of information.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I am sorry; I Meant curiously enough in present circumstances. The remark was meant to be partly sotto voce. I did not mean anything wrong.
There are two further points I should like to make, and I am very sorry indeed to have detained the House so long. First of all, on this question of the recruitment of women as scientists and technologists. I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield raised the point. The White Paper on Technical Education recognised that at school girls 760 are fully a match for boys, and are as successful in the 11-plus examination. Yet the number of girls in universities is only one-third the number of men, and the number of girls in science departments of the universities is only one-quarter the number of men, while in technological departments there are very few women at all—about 150, compared with nearly 5,000 men in the academic year 1954–55.
The situation is just the same in the technical colleges. For every 16 boys who take full-time university level courses, there is only one girl, and for every seven boys released by employers for part-time day courses, there is only one girl. This does suggest that there are pretty big resources which remain untapped.
After all, nearly half of the women between the ages of 20 and 34, when one would expect marriage to make the heaviest claims, are in gainful employment. I believe that this is a big social question. It has been ventilated recently at a number of conferences. For example, the Women's Engineering Society held a number of meetings at the end of last year for parents and teachers which evoked quite a considerable response.
All I would do today is to suggest to this House, and to opinion outside, that there are a considerable number of occupations where girls are contributing, directly and indirectly, to scientific and technical manpower. I am thinking especially of science teaching, research work in hospitals and research institutions. There is no closed door in this employment and the technical colleges report that the few girls they have find little difficulty in getting very good jobs along these lines. So I really hope that we shall have less wastage of future women technologists than we have had up to now.
I will close on this note. I believe we shall not achieve our objectives in technical education unless, as a nation, we adopt a new attitude towards it and fully recognise its importance. Do not let us forget that further education differs from the primary and secondary stages of the public education system in that it is voluntary. For my part I am delighted that technical education has lately been receiving increasing attention in the Press and on radio and television. I hope also that a number of hon. Members have read the careers articles which appeared recently 761 in the Evening News. Again, for my part, I greatly welcome the appearance of two new absolutely first-class periodicals, the New Scientist and Technology.
I think it is fair to say, however, that publicity still tends to be scientific rather than technological, and it is the men and achievements of science that are most glamourised. More, I believe, is still needed to make the general public aware of the importance of technology and of the application of scientific discoveries. Britain has immense achievements to her credit in both respects, and perhaps more attention might be focussed on the men and the methods which made Calder Hall and the Britannia aeroplane possible.
These are now my closing words on this subject and I mean them sincerely. Inevitably, when we are discussing technical education, we get on to detailed aspects of administration in the schools, the universities and the technical colleges. I would like to come back to what the hon. Member for Edmonton so truly said, that the standard of living in this country is closely bound up with our level of technical education. Our standard of living, and the entire range of choice for the great mass of our population, depends upon our ability to earn our living in the markets of the world. Nor is this is a problem which only concerns us in Great Britain, because the shortage of capital and the shortage of skilled manpower today is not only a British shortage but a world shortage as well.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House welcomes the announcement of an expanded programme of capital investment in the production of power from atomic sources; and considers that, in view of these developments, scientific and technical education at all levels should be expanded with the maximum speed.