§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion for the Second Reading moved yesterday by Lord Woolton.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I rise to support whole-heartedly the Second Reading of this Bill, and as a former President of the Board of Education I should like to say that I think the praise which has been given to my right honourable friend Mr. Butler, not only for his great ability but still more for his great patience, has been well and truly earned. It is extraordinary, when one comes to look back on the history of education in this country, that he should have been able to get so wide a measure of agreement as he has done in regard to the measure now before your Lordships' House. It covers a very wide field and in many respects is of great importance. I trust that my right honourable friend may be equally successful when it comes to the administration of this Bill. After all, the Bill is only the machinery by which we hope to get better education. It will depend greatly on his courage and on his firmness Whether we are able to obtain the full results which we hope and believe are possible under this great measure. What is it that we can expect to achieve by education? Is it merely the acquirement of knowledge? Is it not rather the development of character, the power of 70 concentration, and also, perhaps, as much as either, the capacity of a pupil to learn to think for himself? The great Lord Chesterfield in his famous Letters wrote this:Dear boy, you will seldom hear from me without an admonition to you to think. All you learn and all you can read will be of little use to you if you do not think and reason upon it yourself.I turn to the first consideration of what we hope to achieve by education—namely, the development of character. The whole House will agree that the British people have won the admiration of the world by their patience, their fortitude, and their courage during the present crisis. Also, I should think, we can claim for ourselves to be the most law-abiding people upon earth. I remember a distinguished foreigner saying to me some years ago: "You need no police in this country, you keep yourselves in order." I am not quite sure that that is so true to-day of the younger and rising generation. From what we see in the Press a large number of cases come into court of children who have got into trouble. I suggest that in these clays teachers, and still more parents, are inclined not to rule children and to see that they do what they are told, but rather to let them run free and do what the children themselves please. I may be old-fashioned but surely it is right that the elders should exercise their experience and their knowledge and not leave children merely to do what pleases them best.
Further, is it not true that character must be founded upon religion? Those of us who believe that character and social improvement cannot rest upon a sure foundation unless it is founded upon religion will, I think, welcome this Bill, because for the first time it makes religious education a legal obligation in all schools. I share with the Bishop of Chichester some doubt whether that religion is going to be taught by teachers in controlled schools who in fact believe in it, but I share still more the doubts of the most reverend Primate as to whether in council schools teachers who really believe in religion are those who are going to teach it. Nothing is said about it in the Bill and, as was pointed out yesterday by the most reverend Primate, the McNair Report also says 71 very little about it. Of course I am not talking about denominational teaching, I am merely talking of the Christian religion as a whole. That is a point which, whether it be in the Bill or not, I trust that the Government will see is carried into full effect. Some hoped that the Government might have been able to go further in regard to denominational religion. There are others who think it has gone too far, entirely disregarding the fact that if the State had to buy or to reprovide those schools which have been built and maintained up to now by the churches and the chapels the task would be a very considerable one, and that the immense cost entailed would no doubt put off the provision of further schools and, still more, the raising of the school age.
I am glad to see that the President appears to be committed to a reduction in the size of classes, but I plead with him also for a reduction in the size of schools or, at any rate, that he should not build very large schools. I understand that many local authorities like what is called a "three-stream school"; that is to say, that each age group is divided into three, the bright children, the average children and the slow children. If you take a four-year, or later on a five-year period, that will give you somewhere round about 360 to 450 children in an ordinary school. I am one of those who believe that the influence of the headmaster on the character of the children in his school is very considerable indeed, and although there may be some few headmasters with the wonderful gift of being able at once to recognize a face and remember a name and all that is concerned with it—I envy them such a gift, which I certainly do not possess—the average headmaster cannot, of course, get to know the whole of 360 or 500 children in a large school. A child will only be under its teacher for a year. It will be in an age group, slow, medium or fast, and then go up to the next class, and you cannot expect the ordinary form master to have any real influence on that child when that influence only extends over one year. It is a different matter when you come to residential schools because there the house master does take the place of the headmaster and the objection to a big school when it is a residential one is of course very much less strong.
72 I come now to the second consideration in regard to education. How often has it happened that a brilliant child, showing great promise, has, when one looks back at his career later on in life, failed to achieve the promise which had been hoped for and which there had been reason to expect? Is it not usually the case that that child is lacking in the power of application? He has never learnt to grind. How many people have been really successful in life unless they have learnt to put their noses to the grindstone and to keep them there? I am certain that none of His Majesty's Ministers will say there have not been many occasions when the flesh has been extremely weak but the spirit has enabled them to keep going because they have learnt the power of application. That indeed is true not only of politics but of almost everything else. Is it not also true that experience has shown, amongst other things, with regard to children who have been evacuated from the big towns and cities, that, while they have had a modicum of knowledge of a large number of subjects, that knowledge has not always been well and truly founded, in that the foundations were weak?
May I press the Government therefore to see that those much despised three R's are really properly learnt? It was said by the noble Lord, Lord Quickswood, yesterday, that no child should be allowed to leave school until he could read. He ought also to learn how to put his thoughts on paper. Moreover, somehow or other he will have to keep his family budget right, and if he cannot do that amount of arithmetic he is likely to find himself in a good deal of trouble. Therefore I trust that whatever else is taught we shall at least make them learn the three R's. I should have preferred that the White Paper did not lay quite so much emphasis on a happier childhood. I remember being under a master who drove both me and the whole class very hard indeed. At the end of the term when I got home I was completely through, but I have always looked back on him with gratitude, because at any rate he taught me to stick to a thing whether I liked it or not. That surely is the first thing we have to teach our children to do.
I turn now to the question of how to get the children to think for themselves—the key, as I think, of all further education and self-improvement. The most reverend 73 Primate said yesterday that children were inclined to forget everything they had been taught before the age of fourteen. It entirely depends upon whether you have aroused their interest. If you have not made them think you have not aroused interest and what goes in at one ear is very likely to go out of the other. One of the best reforms in this great measure is the abolition of the examination at the age of eleven. That necessitated a child acquiring a large amount of hook knowledge. It was in many cases a pure system of cramming and the child did not develop the capacity to think for himself. It encouraged a parrot-like knowledge and it resulted in children being passed to secondary schools who were not capable of profiting by the education given them. As the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, said yesterday, it magnified the status of the black-coated worker at the expense of the artisan and the real craftsman. To quote paragraph 28 of the White Paper, in normal times, or in fact now, "the secondary school enjoys a prestige in the eyes of parents and the general public" and therefore all other schools are looked down upon. I think it was a stroke of genius for the President to arrange, not to abolish the term "secondary school" and to adopt some other term which would have continued that prestige, but to make that term apply to all other schools after the primary school. Now we shall have both the modern school and the technical school put on a level with the secondary school.
I am not quite clear either from the Bill or from the White Paper how children are going to be selected to go to these respective schools. I hope it is not going to be by the choice of the teacher in the school itself. After all, teachers are human and you may get a child who has made himself an intolerable nuisance and who has been very difficult, but who none the less has great capacity. It is only natural that the teacher should say it is quite useless for that child to go to a grammar school or a modern school and that the only thing is to send him to a technical school. That may be entirely wrong. Therefore, I trust that selection will be made by inspectors. I do not for a moment suggest that we should try to get a bureaucratic form of education entirely run from the centre and run on the same sort of lines as schools in autocratic countries such as Germany and 74 Italy. That, as we know, has done an infinity of harm to the people of those nations.
I look on an inspector as being human and friendly and helpful to the school to which he goes. After all, not every teacher has the divine spark of being able to impart the knowledge he has and make it interesting to the children in his class. An inspector should be able to give him suggestions and hints. There are some local authorities whose ideas about inspection seem to be quite wrong. An inspector walks into a school, passes the time of day with the teacher, looks at the class and walks out. That is not an inspection. Nor should an inspector try to catch out the pupils. What is wanted is that questions should be asked of the pupils to see if they are ready with answers, if their answers are intelligent, and if those answers show that the instruction has been given in such a way that the child is able to think for himself. When I was President of the Board of Education all that we were allowed to do was to issue a book—a very good book incidentally—which was a handbook of suggestions for the consideration of teachers. I am glad to find that the President is going to be given more power than to issue a book with a title of that kind.
I rejoice to know that a great increase is forshadowed in the number of technical schools. There is nothing about that in the Bill, but I gather from paragraph 28 of the White Paper that that is going to happen. That is all right as regards secondary schools, but what is going to happen about further education? The only reference to that in the Bill is to young people's colleges—Clause 41—which are to give education including "physical, practical and vocational training." That does not convey to my mind skilled training for trades and craftsmanship. May I make a suggestion to the Government in regard to that? My suggestion is that they should bring in the heads of manufacturing businesses and people concerned with other vocations to help in the government of these schools and technical colleges. I remember visiting the School of Technology and Art at Leicester—a very good authority incidentally. Already that college was having its third extension. The governing body consisted very largely of people 75 connected with the leading industries in the city. The reason was that many of them had themselves been through that college, and the result of their interest in that college was that a very large amount of machinery had been supplied by the members of the board of governors. They said it was no good teaching apprentices on particular machines because they were out of date and so they would supply new machines in order to keep instruction up to date. Not only did that save the taxpayers and the ratepayers a great deal of money, but it also meant that the instruction given was modern and in accordance with the requirements of the trades. May I plead also that apprenticeship schemes should be framed in consultation with manufacturers and others, so that their apprentices get training not only in technical matters but in regard to design and invention? I am quite certain that the country will profit very greatly if that is done. It is a really important part of education.
Now I will turn for a moment to one further point. I welcome the provision which is made in the Bill both for physical recreation and for the extension of school meals and the provision of milk for children. But why only meals in school? That accounts for only one meal in the day. There are other meals and the most important meal in the working man's home is high tea. Why is not cookery going to be taught? Or is it going to be taught, and just has not been mentioned? And why should not it be taught not only in the secondary schools but in the young peoples' colleges? I think it is known that we are bad cooks, and we are also the most wasteful nation in Europe. One of the greatest things my noble friend Lord Woolton has done is to compel a great many people to learn how to cook. Let us see that children, too, are taught to cook, because, after all, it is not only the health of the child that we are considering in regard to this matter; we have to think of the child eventually becoming a parent himself or herself and having to provide for the next generation. It is no good building good houses and hoping for better health in the country unless you make the housewife know how to keep the house clean and in good condition and how to cook good and nourishing meals for her family.
76 Finally, I come to matters which I consider call for criticism in the Bill. I regret that the President of the Board of Education is no longer to be called "President." I do not quite know how officers of the Board are going to get on when they go to his room to see him and cannot address him as "President." But it is quite right, of course, that he should call himself "Minister" and I think that the change is inevitable. I only hope that he does not acquire the habit which I note that some Ministers have of talking about "my Ministry" and "my Department." It is not their Ministry, and it is not their Department. If we go on in that way we shall have the first Lord of the Admiralty talking about "my Navy." I am quite certain that the present First Lord would not do it, but I should very much like to hear the language of the sailors, and indeed of the Prime Minister himself, if he did. But what I have said applies to other Ministers too.
I think the terms "primary" and "secondary" schools are admirable and indeed brilliant, but why "young people's colleges." Do you really talk about having colleges for old people? If not, then why speak of "young people's colleges," Why not speak of "county colleges" in the same way as we speak of county schools. There are some, of course, that will be only county borough colleges but that is equally true of schools. Then why "auxiliary schools"? After all, the denominations who run these schools are doing more than giving an auxiliary education. You do not talk about a man who joins the Army for the period of the war as an auxiliary soldier. Why should not these schools be called "denominational schools"? It is true that some of them are not, but the great majority of them are. Why not call a spade a spade, and call denominational schools by that term? In Clause 14 we have "controlled schools," "aided schools" and "special agreement schools." Are not all schools controlled? Are not all schools aided? And what is to be said of a school which in the year 1945 makes a special agreement with the Government and the local authority, and is still to be called a "special agreement school" forty, fifty or a hundred years hence? Surely we can find better terms than those.
Why "instrument of management"? I do not know whether the noble 77 Viscount, Lord Samuel, who thought that the Bill was so admirably drafted, can tell me the difference between a "rule of management" and an "article of government." I agree with him that, from the Parliamentary point of view, this Bill is admirably drafted, but, after all, although we are a democracy we do not all understand Parliamentary terms nor are we all Parliamentarians. Surely we can get something rather simpler than that. The answer to the riddle, of course, is to be found in Clause 16 which sets out the difference between primary and secondary schools. When you come to Clause 22 you get as a result mumbo-jumbo which, when you have read it with an experienced eye, you will understand; but I am quite certain that the ordinary man in the street will not understand it. Then there is the question of what the managers of the aided schools are responsible for in regard to finance. They read Clause 14 (3) and find that they are entirely responsible for the provision of the buildings and maintenance of the schools and all their extensions, but it is not until they turn to the financial clauses of the Bill that they find that the Minister is going to pay half. Why not say in Clause 14 (3) "subject to the conditions laid down in Clause 96"? At any rate it would make it more intelligible to the man in the street.
This is such a good Bill, and such a great Bill and it is going to apply to such a vast number of people, that I trust your Lordships' House will see to it that we make it intelligible to the ordinary man, so that he will realize how great a measure it is. I rejoice at the things that are being done. I think that the inspection of the independent schools is essential. I do not know whether everybody quite realizes that if they have two children of their own, and they ask three neighbours' children to come in for instruction, they incur all sorts of penalties unless they apply to become a registered school. That, however, is something which I think has got to be put up with. I remember reading some years ago about the inspection of Eton. I think it did Eton good and it certainly did the inspectors good also. They discovered a great many things that they did not know before. They learnt that public schools were not quite so behind the times as they thought they were, and, indeed, that they were in many respects a long way in front of those 78 schools provided by the public authority. I think, therefore, that it is good for the schools and good for the inspectors that inspections should take place. I close as I began, by saying that I warmly welcome this Bill. I trust that in regard to minor matters which I have suggested we may be able to improve it still further. I hope, too, that it will have an easy and a quick passage through your Lordships' House.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I speak as a Roman Catholic, and do not in any way express the views of the noble Lords who sit on these Benches. Nevertheless, I feel that I may properly appeal for their sympathy, as my case is based on two great Liberal principles—namely, justice and freedom of conscience. To some of us, this present Bill is almost in the nature of a tragedy. There is so much that is good in it, and it is so nearly a great Bill—one which we could all welcome with enthusiasm. But, alas, some of us cannot do so because the Bill fails in one essential particular. It does not do justice to Roman Catholic parents and to Roman Catholic children. I should like to add my tribute to the appreciation expressed of the qualities displayed by the President of the Board of Education, the qualities of courtesy, tact, conciliation and patience which he has shown in a marked degree during the discussions and negotiations which took place on this Bill elsewhere; but among all these high qualities there does seem to me to be one which has been lacking. I think that there was a lack of courage when the Bill was first framed. The President, in spite of his youth, heard echoes of old, unhappy controversies and feared to face their renewal, and therefore certain injustices have been continued in the provisions of this Bill.
I have a greater faith in the sense of justice of my fellow-countrymen than it seems to me that the President has shown. I believe that the Government should have dared to say to the country that a loyal section of the community, which pays rates and taxes, like all their fellow-citizens, for educational and other purposes, had, because of the existing law, to find out of their own pockets during the last twenty-five years a sum of £3,500,000 in order to maintain schools where their children could be brought up in the faith of their parents, these schools being open as regards the standard of secular education to the full 79 control of the local authority. It seems to me that the Government should have pointed out that, as this financial disability was solely incurred for the sake of conscience, it was right that it should be removed, and that the schools in question should receive for the future, as they do in Scotland, the same support from public funds as all other schools. I believe that, if the Government had done that, a sense of fair play would have prevailed and that argument would have been accepted. In such circumstances we could have welcomed the Bill wholeheartedly.
There is another powerful argument which can be adduced, and to which I should like to call attention. I would ask the noble Earl who is to reply to take particular note of this point, as I intend to ask him a little later on for a definite answer to two questions. In 1919, His Majesty's Government were a signatory of treaties with Poland, with Czechoslovakia and with certain other countries. These treaties established the principles which the British Government at that time considered should govern the treatment of religious minorities in educational matters. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me quite shortly to cite the latter part of Article 9 of the Polish Treaty:In towns and districts where there is a considerable proportion of Polish nationals belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities, these minorities shall be assured of an equitable share in the enjoyment and application of the sums which may be provided out of public funds, under the State, municipal or other budget for educational, religious or charitable purposes.I am here only concerned with religious minorities and with educational purposes, but I am quite clear that, had the provisions laid down in that article been fully applied in the present Bill, Roman Catholic schools—provided, of course, that a reasonable number of children was available—would have been entitled to exactly similar treatment in respect of public funds as any other schools.
There are two objections to this thesis. They come from highly respected quarters, and, at the risk of wearying your Lordships, I feel bound to deal with them very briefly. The first is that I have taken no account of the preceding article of the Polish Treaty, Article 8. There is no force in this argument at all, because 80 Articles 8 and 9 are in no way interdependent; they deal with two entirely different aspects of the minority position. Article 8 states that the minority shall enjoy the same treatment in law and in fact as other Polish nationals, and proceeds to give special instances of when such treatment shall prevail, with no reference at all to the funds provided by the State. Article 9, on the other hand, is concerned solely with funds derived from the State, and declares that minorities are to be assured of an equal share in the enjoyment and application of such funds.
So much for the first objection. The second objection is that as the educational facilities provided by this Bill are open to all citizens, there can be no discrimination against any particular minority. This thesis was sometimes put forward by a Government who wished to evade the provisions of the minority clauses of the treaty which it had concluded. The plea, however, was definitely rejected by those responsible for the supervision of the minority clauses, and the test which was applied was whether a measure did in fact impose a peculiar disability, financial or otherwise, on any particular minority.
Perhaps I may be allowed to sum up the position under these treaties. In certain respects—the protection of life and property, and equality before the law—the individual members of a minority were to be treated in exactly the same way as individual members of the majority; but as regards cultural and religious aspects, the minorities were to be treated differently from the majority. I do not know whether the noble Earl has any doubts as to the validity of my contentions, but, if he has, I would refer him to a judgment of the Permanent Court of International Justice in the matter of the Albanian schools, from which it is quite clear that the treaties bound the signatory State to treat the minority differently from the majority.
I would, therefore, put two questions to the noble Earl. The first is: Do His Majesty's Government maintain the principles of the clauses of the 1919 treaties as regards equal treatment of religious minorities? Secondly, if they do—and I very much hope that they do, since the principles represent a large measure of progress and tolerance—do they 81 honestly hold that these principles have been fully applied in the case of the Bill now before your Lordships' House? It seems to me that the Government have definitely refused to religious minorities in this country the treatment which they advocated, and indeed insisted on, where certain foreign countries were concerned.
The point I have raised is by no means a purely legal or academic one. In England we are now approaching a situation which is similar to that in many European countries, where virtually all elementary education is provided for out of public money. Even here the minorities are unlikely, before long, to be able to afford to pay taxes for an education which they do not want for their children and, in additon, to find the large sums required to provide their children with an education which they do want and which, quite rightly, has to satisfy the technical standards set by the State. The ideal solution seems to me to be that adopted by the Netherlands Government since 1917. By Netherlands law any religious denomination which can in any commune fill a school with a specified number of children has the right to have a school wholly provided out of public funds, but under the complete control of the particular denomination, subject, of course, to the general regulations of the State as to proficiency and subject to State inspection.
I want to address a few words to my Free Church and Nonconformist friends, because I have been told that it is chiefly due to their attitude that our claims have not been met. I would in the first place like to remind them of the fact that they have been in the past staunch upholders of the minority treaties to which I have referred. I remember when I was at Geneva seeing numerous petitions and letters signed by Free Church leaders insisting on the fullest application of these treaties. Have they abandoned their previous generous attitude towards religious minorities. I do not believe it. I realize that they have a very distinct and real grievance as regards single-school areas, but we were and are fully prepared to meet them on this point. I ask them, therefore, whether they will not meet us now and in the future. I was much encouraged by an Amendment to the Bill which was proposed in another place by a prominent Nonconformist, in which it was proposed that where there was a sufficient 82 number of parents who wished their children to be educated in the State-maintained schools the local authorities would be bound to provide such schools. That is the principle which the Roman Catholics would like to see applied all round.
I have tried to put before your Lordships the main features of our case. Perhaps some of your Lordships may ask why, if we believe our case to be so strong, we do not press it strongly, and why it was not put to the ultimate test in another place. I will try to answer that. Some little time before the introduction of this Bill for the first time the Prime Minister made a strong appeal for national unity in these moments of grave stress. We felt that we could not but respond to that call, particularly since we were fighting an enemy who would, if he were able to do so, utterly destroy the whole basis on which our Christian civilization rests. We therefore determined not to proceed to extreme lengths but to obtain by negotiation and persuasion such mitigations of the Bill as we could, and then to shoulder the additional financial burden—and it is no light one—without murmuring overmuch. We looked upon it as an extra contribution which we were called upon to make towards the preservation of unity. We still hope that in the Committee stage of the Bill this House will agree to certain alleviations. But however this may be, when the Bill becomes law we shall do our utmost to collaborate loyally in its working. Nevertheless it must not be thought that we are in any way abandoning our fundamental position. When peace comes we shall strive by all constitutional means in our power to secure such a change in the law as will afford complete justice to Roman Catholic parents and will allow our schools to be fully integrated in the national system.
§ THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBORNE)
My Lords, perhaps this would be a convenient moment for us to adjourn for lunch for an hour.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.
§ VISCOUNT SANKEY
My Lords, permit me first to join in the congratulations to the President of the Board of Education upon a remarkable achievement. His Bill is not only a landmark 83 in the history of education, but in the history of England. Further and more remarkable still, thanks to him, it has been reached without the ill-feeling and bitterness which characterised the 1902 settlement. Let us hope that this means a step towards a better understanding between the Churches, and the dawn of a new era in which they can co-operate in promoting many things, both religious and social, upon which there is no difference of opinion between them. From a secular point of view both the content and organization of education are immensely improved by the proposals now before your Lordships' House. If the Minister reduces the size of classes and raises the school age our cup will be full. The Bill is undoubtedly a compromise on the religious question, but a compromise which carries with it a large majority of our fellow-citizens. I do not forget, however, the minority who disagree with the Bill—a minority who have for so many years borne the burden and heat of the day in supporting in every possible way a system in which they passionately believe and to which they have devoted so much of their time and so much of their resources. I trust, however, that they will see that the substantial gains which the new Bill offers to religious education will compensate them for the loss of some of the privileges which it is difficult to insist upon in a community which has different ideas as to the method by which the Message of Christ is to be delivered.
What are the substantial gains in this Bill? To begin with, the White Paper which was issued last year, and which is the foundation of the policy in the Bill, declares in paragraph 4 that among other important features of the plan is the recognition of the "special place of religious education in school life." Further, in paragraph 126, it foreshadows an amendment of the existing law so as "to emphasize the position of religious instruction as an essential element of education." It is a great advance that it should definitely start with some idea of the type of character it wishes to produce in its citizens. There may be a few men who can be moralists without a creed, but to the great majority a creed is not only a help but a key to morals. Both religion and morals make their contribution to the security and stability of a State, and consequently 84 to the happiness of its citizens. George Washington, in his farewell address to the American people in 1796, said:Of all the dispositions which lead to political prosperity religion and morality are indispensable supports.The cardinal trouble of the world to-day is that it has lost faith and found uncertainty. Under this Bill, for the first time, each day's school work must be preceded by corporate worship. Under this Bill, for the first time, there will be a statutory obligation to provide religious teaching in every primary and secondary school. Under this Bill the machinery for such teaching will be improved. Religious instruction will not be limited to fixed periods in the time-tables—an improvement on the impossible position when all the forms had their religious lessons at the same hour. Under this Bill teachers who wish to train themselves in religious knowledge will be able, as hitherto they have not been able, to offer it as a subject which counts in their examination for the teacher's certificate.
Turning to other provisions, one of the most satisfactory is the effort it makes to deal in some measure and in some places with the injustice naturally felt by the Free Churchmen in single-school areas that their children have to attend Church of England schools. Considering the great number of Church schools, and the length of time they have been in existence, it was impossible entirely to abolish the dual system. But Clause 8 (2) (b), which enacts that a local education authority shall have regard to the expediency of securing that provision is made for enabling pupils to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, and Clause 53, which makes provision for transport and other facilities, will be widely welcomed and should to some extent improve the situation in cases where a genuine grievance exists. Personally, I should have liked to see in the Bill some definition of Christian education, and perhaps those to whom is entrusted the duty of compiling a syllabus may attempt and accomplish this task. The passage of the Bill in another place and the public meetings throughout the country are evidence of the satisfaction with which it has been received.
But what of the future? No doubt the general success of the Act will depend upon wise administration, and we have 85 no cause for thinking that it will not be administered in a wise and tolerant manner. So far, however, as religious education is concerned, the issue will be in the hands of the parents and the teachers. Probably it will be upon the parents that the main burden will rest, and they will have a double responsibility, first as citizens to insist that the fair prospect opened out shall not fade away, and secondly to see, as fathers and mothers, that religion in the home is not neglected. It has been said that the position with which we are faced is something like a landslide from organized religion. It is asked whether by Church standards the nation is becoming pagan. It will be a strange result if, after the child has been taught religion daily at school, the only day on which the child receives no religious instruction will be Sundays. It will be stranger still if, owing to the decline of organized religion, religious education will be taught for a short span in primary and secondary schools instead of for life in one or other of the Churches. Therefore it is of primary importance that the child should become a member of some worshipping community, and it is here that the parents and the Churches have a duty and an opportunity. Adult education centres of discussion as to religious education need not necessarily be confined to the members of one particular Church.
With regard to the teachers and speaking generally, their part will be a difficult one—namely, to relate educational organization, method, and purpose to the social and economic life which the pupils will afterwards lead. It may well be that the doors of primary and secondary schools will be opened wider as the years pass by. It may well be that new organizations and methods will be found necessary and desirable. The change from era to era which we are now witnessing will not leave the teachers' profession untouched. In the fabric of habit which they have hitherto built for themselves, they will remain no longer. The grievances which teachers undoubtedly suffered in the nineteenth century should be forgotten by them, but they must be given a proper standing in the community and take a just pride in their profession. Everything possible should be done to enhance the standing not only of the teaching body but of each individual teacher, for because they are teachers they are not shut out from their duties 86 and privileges as citizens. This places them in a difficult and delicate position, for the teacher does teach, and must teach for good or for evil, a great many other things than his subject.
The Bill will leave this House with the best wishes of your Lordships that those who are called upon to administer it and those who are called upon to act as teachers may join together in a great effort to improve and enhance the standard of education in the country. We have spent, and rightly spent, large sums of money on the provision and upkeep of buildings. Let us also see that the status and salary of the teachers are equally generous and satisfactory. Let us remember, too, that this new Act is not to be the last chapter of an old system but the first chapter of a new one.
Before I resume my seat will your Lordships permit me to say a few words on the subject of adult education? My excuse must be that I have been for many years President of the British Institute of Adult Education and only recently have been engaged in presiding over committees dealing with the matter. Like many other movements in Great Britain, adult education sprang from the people themselves. The growth of our industrial system and the domination of the machine directed attention to the right employment of leisure, with the result that early writers tended to divide adult education into two parts—firstly, the vocational training which enabled the individual to work and earn his living; and, secondly, the liberal training in arts and kindred subjects by which he was to be able to free himself from the monotony and mastership of the machine and to spend satisfactorily his leisure hours. Gradually this distinction became less marked and it was realized that a training in citizenship was of vital importance in a State which was extending its franchise. Even to-day a man may be a profound scholar or a brilliant technician and yet know nothing of the aims and desires of his fellow-countrymen or of the conditions of life of those amongst whom he lives. He is not able to form a judgment on public affairs such as is rightly expected of a member of a democratic country. An educated democracy is the best form of government but to have an ignorant democracy is asking for trouble.
87 Again referring to the White Paper of 1943, paragraphs 85 to 88 deal with adult education. Paragraph 85 says:Without provision for adult education the national system must be incomplete, and … the measure of effectiveness of earlier education is the extent to which in some form or other it is continued voluntarily in later life. It is thus within the wider sphere of adult education that an ultimate training in democratic citizenship must be sought.I would, however, appeal to the noble Earl who is answering this debate, and through him to the Minister of Education, to remember that you cannot impose adult views upon children, nor will you be able to impose compulsory education on adults. The attendance of children at school must be compulsory. The attendance of adults at education courses can only remain voluntary. Adult education cannot be left entirely to the State. It has arrived at its present position by private enterprise and voluntary effort. Nothing must be done to dry up the resources which have so fruitfully watered this field of learning. No doubt the State ought to provide some funds towards this purpose and to make rules and regulations for their use and application. This is a course which has already been taken over a number of years, and it is most satisfactory to see that the policy is being carried out in the further education clauses of the Bill now before the House. Clause 39 provides that it shall be the duty of every local education authority to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education—namely, full-time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age, and leisure-time occupation for any persons over compulsory school age who are able and willing to profit by the facilities provided for that purpose. Clauses 41 to 44 deal with young people's colleges and perhaps this is the most welcome and hopeful of all plans for the future.
This is neither the time nor the occasion to condescend upon the details which are being proposed and discussed to carry out this enactment. It is sufficient to say that the education services which have operated in the Forces and the interest in inquiry and discussion developed by the Army Bureau of Current Affairs and similar developments among Civil Defence personnel, are likely to produce a much 88 larger public anxious to pursue a variety of subjects on informal lines. This must be for the advantage of the country, although the machinery by which it is to be reached will require careful examination and success will probably only be achieved by trial and error. Gratitude, it has been said, is a sense of favours to come and, while we thank the Minister of Education for the great services he has rendered to the country in launching and in piloting this Bill through very difficult waters, we hope that we may now have from him similar services in the cause of adult education.
§ VISCOUNT BUCKMASTER
My Lords, I fear my only claim to address your Lordships on this matter lies in this, that when the present Act of 1936 came before your Lordships I was one of those (and there were not many) who ventured to protest that the best use was not being made of a great opportunity. I am very glad, therefore, to see the promise of a sweeping advance on a broad front which this Bill holds out and which educationists have waited for so long and so patiently. I feel that I must pay a very warm tribute to the Minister and to those who have worked with him. This matter really transcends Party politics and I can only hope that some means will be found whereby the Minister may remain in his present office, at any rate for several years.
It would not be right for me to attempt to deal with this Bill in any detail, but I would like, if your Lordships will allow me, to say what I feel our purpose and aim in this matter of education should be and then to refer to one or two clauses of the Bill. In any matter of education we must of course make up our minds what we are going to teach. Too often we forget that many children are quite unable to absorb what we loosely call higher education. The mind is limited just as the body is. We have got then to give technical training and be prepared to teach a trade. We have to fit the child for the kind of life which it will have to live. But we must not stop short at material things. We must try and cultivate an independent outlook, and surely even the most limited mind can be taught, and should be taught, a love of beauty and of truth. I am reminded of something said by the late Sir Stanley Leathes. I cannot remember the exact 89 words, but it was to the effect that to see a poet condemned to cart muck would be a tragedy but it would be a greater tragedy if he whose duty in life was to cart muck should not have something of the poet in him. I feel that this Bill, in doing much else as well, incorporates these aims and that the spirit of these aims pervades it. For that reason I welcome it.
But there are those who feel that the cost of this measure, when added to the many other measures of major social reform, is going to put too great a strain on the public purse. To them I would like to say that money provided for education is neither spent nor wasted; it is invested. It is an investment of capital bringing in a return greater than we can easily assess. I believe that a well educated community is one that is easily governed. I think history will support the view that such a community escapes the major social disorders. Nonetheless, this question of finance has got to be faced and I do not think that the Government have done that. We have to ask ourselves what it is that local education authorities are being asked to do. Even a preliminary survey shows something of the task that is put upon them. The expenditure which they will have to incur is something in the neighbourhood of £30,000,000 a year. We must ask ourselves whether a rather more generous contribution from the Exchequer will not be necessary.
I do not want to open up the question of local government finance but I would like to say a little upon this matter. The position at present, as your Lordships will be aware, is that the Government pay approximately 50 per cent. of the cost of education but this figure will rise in 1948–49 to 55 per cent. Of that, £900,000 will be allocated to the poorer authorities, some of whom are in very poor shape. In another place the honourable member for Pontypool gave some most startling figures which I will not quote except to say that whereas the education rate in East Sussex was 1s. 9¼d. it was 5s. 6½d. in Durham. When we look at figures like that it must be clear that those authorities which are poor, either because of a low rateable value and a high child population, or because although they have a higher rateable value yet they have higher demands on account of large existing 90 commitments, simply cannot do what is being asked of them. This point really must be faced. It is fundamental and cannot be avoided. If local education authorities are unwilling or unable to play their part the whole structure will collapse and all our labour will be in vain.
One of the chief provisions in this Bill is the raising of the school-leaving age to sixteen, when practicable. If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, correctly, he is anxious to see that expedited. No one is more anxious than I am for raising the school age but attempts to accelerate it unduly might be disastrous. You have not got the teachers or the schools. You will sink the ship. The most reverend Primate said that there were cogent arguments for raising the age to sixteen. One was that you had children under control and with continued medical examination you could keep them fit. That of course is so, but, if I may, I would like to put still further reasons apart from the educational side. Surely we can hope by retaining children in school until the age of sixteen that some improvement in their character will result. Not long ago the question of juvenile delinquency was debated in your Lordships' House and one noble Lord then called attention to the fact that among girls in the age group fourteen to sixteen years there was an increase in delinquency of 122 per cent. One cannot help feeling that if children were kept under some control a little longer it would be a great advantage. I think there is a further advantage in connexion with the question of unemployment. I have not been able to get exact figures—I do not believe they are available—but probably something like three-quarters of a million children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen are gainfully occupied. That is a large number to take off the labour market. We shall have to face the question of unemployment again some time and that would be a very considerable contribution towards solving it.
Apart from that, it is really a question of humanity. I do not think that children should be pitchforked into life at the age of fourteen. I do not want to say things which distress, but in 1941 twenty-two children under sixteen years of age were killed underground in coal mines and one child in every three who worked underground in coal mines was 91 injured. When this Bill becomes law, and if it carries out its promise, that will of course become impossible, but the part-time employment of children will still continue. It is true that Clause 57 empowers local education authorities to prevent this if it is against the child's interest but that is not enough. I do not think any person who is really interested in education, nor is there any schoolmaster I have ever met, who would not welcome the prohibition of the employment of children during school years. It is not right that the struggle to earn money should be added to the other strains and stresses of these early years.
We have heard a lot about young people's colleges. The name is not popular but I have none other to suggest. This, however, I would like to say about them. This Bill shifts the burden for nonattendance from the parent to the child. Now there are many children, both boys and girls, of sixteen who want to be clear of the whole thing. They are not anxious to have any more school. I am not saying that they are right but it will not be easy to make them attend. Nor do I think 44 days in the year allotted to the training in these colleges is enough to give the education that is needed. That is my opinion about it.
Now I should like, with your Lordship's permission, to say something about our public schools. These, as your Lordships are aware, have been attacked in no very moderate fashion by certain speakers in another place. I will not repeat what they have said because I have no desire to say anything which is inflammatory. I stand before your Lordships quite unashamed as one who believes that these schools have something of the greatest value to offer, something that cannot easily—if it ever can be—found elsewhere. I do not find it easy to define the essential qualities of these schools. Most certainly I am not the best or the proper person to do it. If I were to attempt a definition I would say that it is not a system of education they give you but a way of life. And never is the work of these great schools more abundantly justified than in time of war, because they foster a spirit of independence and of leadership, and encourage the acceptance of responsibility, but discourage that spirit of suspicion and that jealous insistence 92 on rights, real or supposed, so often met with elsewhere.
I do not wish to introduce the question of corporal punishment, but I might perhaps be allowed to use it to illustrate the difference in attitude between those who have attended different kinds of schools. Take a boy at an elementary school, whip him for something that he has done, and in all probability he goes whining to his mother with the result that the teacher is prosecuted. Take a public school boy, flog him for something which, perhaps, he has not done, and nobody ever hears a word. Perhaps a slight disgression may be permitted, and in a debate on education a Latin quotation may be allowed although, it will no doubt be mispronounced. On the walls of one of the buildings in the school to which I had the privilege to belong there were inscribed these words, Aut disce aut discede manet sors tertia caedi. Roughly paraphrased that means "Leave or learn, your third fate is to stay and be thrashed." Perhaps if that had been more strictly enforced more members of my old school might, on their own merits, have found themselves in your Lordships' House.
One cannot in this matter of education omit the question of the teacher. If the teachers are too few, if their quality is poor you get nothing. There will be no vigorous or vital growth—you will merely have a pale, anæmic shadow. The number of teachers wanted is enormous—80,000 or so. Various proposals are on foot for recruiting them; for widening the basis of getting them. The McNair Report, of course, if accepted in full, will sweep away most of the grievances that now exist in the teaching world. Gone will be the difference in scales between one county and another, gone the salary upon which a teacher cannot live, gone the distinction between a teacher with a certificate and another, more able, who has not got a certificate. It will be an entire revolution in the teaching world, but it will take time to get these teachers. It is no doubt wise to recruit them from the Forces, but they have got to be trained and they must be suited to their task. I do feel that you cannot be either too wise in choosing them or too patient in training them. After all, it rests with them whether the abundant promise of this Bill is fulfilled. On them it depends—if I may be allowed to quote 93 a line of Wordsworth—whether the child on leaving school will feel himself… the generous spirit who when brought Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WAKEFIELD
My Lords, I feel that I must make some apology for speaking, as I am a very new member of your Lordships' House, and also because the only reason I can give why I should speak at all is that I have had some experience, over a period of forty years, of education in the North of England. I have had experience of administrative work and also—and I think that perhaps this does count—for at least twenty-live years I have given religious teaching in the schools for two or three days a week. I shall not, of course, attempt to deal with the whole wide scope of this Bill; it would be foolish and out of place for me to do so. But there are three particular issues about which I would dare to say a few things. Two of them, at any rate, have not yet been brought to the notice of your Lordships' House. The first is in the general question of administration. It has been said in another place, very truly, that this Bill is like a very fine architect's plan, but the building of the school system has still to be done—or, instead of building, should one say the rebuilding? What impresses me enormously is the great demand which will obviously be made on various classes of people if the provisions of this Bill are really to be carried out, and the high ideals that have been set before us are to be achieved. It will mean that there will have to be great demands on the general public, and particularly on those who have some special interest in, and special knowledge of, education, who hitherto have not been sufficiently enlisted to help in the great work of education.
I should particularly like to refer in that regard to the constitution of the two central consultative committees on education. I believe that they will fill a place which very greatly needs filling, and that if we are not to be content simply with regulations and building schemes and so forth, to have a body of men experienced in education at the centre to advise the Minister in regard to the lines on which development should take place is a very great gain—and it is secured in this Bill. Again I am very glad that in one clause 94 of the Bill, that which deals with the constitution of the education committees, it is provided that they shall include persons of experience in education and persons acquainted with the educational conditions in the area for which the committee acts. We have suffered too much—and I speak from a fairly wide experience—from the fact that on some of our education committees often there are very few who are able to take a wider outlook on the needs of education, and education has, accordingly, been stunted and hindered rather than advanced. The fact that it will now be statutory for a committee to include people of experience in education will be a very great gain. But it will involve a demand for people to be ready to give their services. So also in the memorandum on the principles of government of secondary schools there is recognition of the important part which these governors—and, I suppose, in their degree, the managers of the primary schools—will have to play. As I see it, it will mean that there must be far more interest and far more self-sacrifice if these schemes are to be carried out and the right kind of education is to be given in the schools.
Let me now turn from this question of the committees and others whose help will have to be enlisted, and consider the need for a very much wider interest in education and in what it really means in the country as a whole and in the various localities. In this connexion I wish to refer to one point which was raised in another place, and which seems to me to be of real importance. If you are to enlist the interest of the public, you must also enlist the interest of the Press. In the educational provisions under the Act of 1908, it is open to the Press to attend the meetings of the education authority. A great deal of work will now be delegated, however, to the divisional executives. They may become practically the local education authorities for whole districts, and yet it may be that a divisional executive will not permit the presence of the Press. That seems to me a matter of real importance, for two reasons. There are sometimes dangers of unfair, as well as of unwise, decisions by these bodies, and one of the great safeguards of fairness is publicity. If it is known that the proceedings are to be reported in the Press, I think it will ensure 95 greater fairness of treatment when important decisions have to be taken, as compared with decisions being made in private and then announced to the public afterwards.
I understand that the President of the Board of Education has suggested that it would be open to the divisional executive to allow the Press to be present, but that is not the same thing. I think that the Press should have the same right to be present as in the case of meetings of the local education authority. We owe a very great debt of gratitude to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, as well as to the President, for the very able way in which he has dealt with the various problems which have arisen, and for his sympathetic consideration of the different interests. Speaking in another place, he said that he found himself in hearty agreement with the suggestion that the schemes might very well provide that meetings of the divisional executives shall be open to the Press, unless they passed the resolution which has now to be passed in order to exclude the Press from meetings of a local authority or education committee. "I will undertake," he said, "between now and the Report stage to see whether in fact this is possible within the terms of the measure as drafted." That provision has not appeared in the Bill, and I suggest that that point might well be considered by your Lordships, because it seems to me to be one of considerable importance.
I should now like to turn for a moment to the question of the demand which is going to be made for teachers. The whole scheme of education as envisaged in this Bill will, if carried out, demand something of a revolution in the present outlook in regard to teachers and the schemes for the provision of teachers in what have hitherto been the elementary schools. In the McNair Report there are two provisions which seem to me to be of immense value. One is the proposal for unifying the teaching profession so as to ensure mobility, and so that teachers in secondary schools may move to primary schools, teachers from primary and secondary schools may move to training colleges, and so on. There will thus be a mobility and unity in the teaching profession which I believe will be of immense value. Secondly, in the proposals for the training of teachers 96 there is a proposal not only to lengthen the course, which undoubtedly is essential, but also to provide a far more liberal and cultural training for those who are to teach the children. It is a commonplace to say that in the end the teachers are the key to the whole situation, and, if we can ensure a wider and more liberal training for the teachers, then indeed we are going far towards carrying out the ideals embodied in this Bill. Those two things seem to me to be of the utmost value.
In view of the proposals for an increased number of schools, for a reduction in the size of classes, which is so essential, for raising the school age, and so on, I find it difficult to see where we are going to get all the teachers who will be required. It will mean a tremendous recruiting campaign. I had occasion a few weeks ago to speak to the headmistresses of three large secondary schools with which I am connected. I asked them how many of their senior pupils were proposing to enter the teaching profession, and whether this great vocation was being brought before them. I found that certainly it was being brought before them, but in those three schools, which have some 300 girls, there were only three or four who at all contemplated going into the teaching profession. We shall need somehow or other—I confess that I do not know how it is to be done—to awaken the mind and imagination of the public to the greatness of this opportunity in the teaching profession, and we shall have to try to enlist the very best people that we can get. I cannot think that we shall get a great many from other professions; there will be a trickle, but no more. While enlisting public interest in the cause of education, therefore, we must try to bring young men and young women to see that there is no other profession in which they can better or more truly serve their country.
I have referred to the good things in the McNair Report, but there is what seems to me to be a most deplorable feature in it, and that is the complete ignoring of the need for teachers to be prepared to give the religious teaching which the nation is demanding for the schools. It is an amazing situation. I have studied with some care the main things which it is said that all teachers must know. What are they to know? 97 They are to know some physiology, so that they shall understand the bodies of the children. They are apparently to study some psychology—I hope not morbid psychology, which too often it is. They are also to study questions of citizenship. There is in the Report, however, no recognition of the child as a moral and spiritual being, as a personality. If you are content with that, what have you better than the Nazi system? I do hope that the President of the Board and others responsible will turn on this matter not to the McNair Report but to the admirable Norwood Report, which has an excellent chapter on religious teaching which is full of common sense. It recognizes the real difficulties—and of course they are real—and at the same time puts forward practical proposals which might well be carried out. I hope that they will be carried out by the Board.
It is a strange thing that a Report which purports to examine the Whole field of the training of teachers omits altogether what many of us—I think the majority of members of your Lordships' House—regard as the most important thing of all, the training of the individual as a human being with a moral and spiritual nature. I think it is so well said in that admirable pamphlet which was issued I think by the Conservative Party. Looking Ahead which seems to me to have the best philosophy of education of any of the books which I have read—that what we need to remember is that in the whole of our education we must be training the child to learn how to work for the good of all as well as for his own good. If so, it means training the moral and spiritual side of his nature.
I shall venture to turn now to another matter, and I want to appeal to the noble Earl who is to reply for some guidance on this. I think there is considerable obscurity in the provision of the Seventh Schedule to which I shall refer in a moment. First about the agreed syllabus teaching, as it is called. Frankly, I do not share the, if I may say so, rather gloomy views of the Bishop of Chichester. I think there are great possibilities if this is carried out in the way which I believe is intended in this Bill. I do not think it is of any use now to go back to the question of the Scottish system, though if it were proposed I should oppose it, because I do not believe it would gain the 98 point for which the Bishop of Chichester was pleading. In the White Paper on Religious Instruction in schools, presented to Parliament in February, 1943, it is said that in the great majority of the schools in Scotland—in over 2,900 of the 3,211 schools—the teaching was on an agreed syllabus. It is not really what we should call denominational teaching, and the only other schools were the 223 Roman Catholic and 18 Episcopal schools. I do not think the Scottish system would apply in this country at all.
However, that is not really the point. What I would like to say is this, that the reason why I for my part believe in the value of continuing the dual system—it is not a pis aller, it is not a something which I am ashamed of or deprecate—is that I believe it is one of the safeguards against a totalitarian system, a bureaucratic system in which everything is ironed out under your central or local authority. The very fact of those schools being there with their managers and local interests is itself, quite apart from the religious question, of real value in education; and again and again I found parents who preferred to send their children to some denominational school for two reasons, first, because they found the atmosphere so much more homely—and that is of real value—and secondly, because of the security for the full teaching of the Christian faith. The Bishop of Chichester suggested that it might be very difficult to carry on teaching under the agreed syllabus because, he said, there is no guarantee of the teachers being ready to give religious teaching. Clause 28 to which he referred is simply a safeguard for the conscience of the teachers, which I think is of immense value. There is nothing worse for religion than for a teacher to be giving this teaching perfunctorily when he does not believe in it, and unfortunately this is the case in some schools at the present time. I conceive it to be of the very greatest importance that a teacher should not be hindered or handicapped in his profession because he does not hold the Christian faith. Clause 28 safeguards that position.
I recognize that quite inevitably in a Christian country, when you really come down to the facts, if you are going to consider a head teacher to whom Christian teaching is not of supreme importance it will create a prejudice in favour of those who believe in the 99 Christian faith. But if you are to appoint teachers to give religious teaching you are at liberty to ask them whether they are prepared to do it—why engage them otherwise?—and whether they are qualified to give it. There is a very common misinterpretation which has done a great deal of harm for many years past, according to which it is thought there is something in an Act of Parliament or some regulation of the Board which prevents you from asking a teacher whether he is able and qualified to give religious teaching. You can ask him that just as much as you can ask if he can teach history or geography. And there is nothing in this Bill which will prevent that. Therefore I do not share the Bishop of Chichester's apprehension that we shall not have teachers who are able to give that teaching.
There is one further point that I should like to make. I want to refer to the Seventh Schedule. There has been much praise given to the drafting of this Bill, but I confess that the Seventh Schedule seems to me quite extraordinarily obscure. The idea of these religious advisory committees is that they are to represent the authorities, the teachers and Christian denominations. Such committees, when formed, have met together and with amazing good will and harmony have agreed on what are the fundamental principles in the Christian faith and on the general lines of the teaching—with the help of the teachers there remember—which should be given in the schools. Now the Seventh Schedule reads as if there were going to be four committees—one Church of England, one of other denominations, one of teachers and one representing the authority—and that each of them is to draw up a syllabus and then there will be a conference and they will see what is the result. I cannot imagine anything that would more completely defeat the purpose of having an advisory committee. I should therefore like to ask the noble Earl if he can make that clear. I can only hope that if the meaning is as I have described it the Schedule will be radically altered; but if the reading is what we have always understood, that is to say, that it is to be a committee composed of the different denominations, of teachers and of the authority, that it will be made plain. The provisions certainly are extremely 100 obscure as they stand. I quite understand that there may be sub-committees, but that there should be a joint committee of all representatives is essential.
The second point I want to make on that Schedule is this. If you are in earnest in saying that you want to have this religious teaching properly taught in schools it seems to me to be essential that this advisory committee should not simply meet and draw up a syllabus and then disappear, but should be a standing committee of the local education authority. May I quote authority on that? I have referred before to the West Riding. I have seen an extraordinary change in the West Riding and am thankful I was one of those who helped to negotiate the concordat which has brought peace and good will and better religious teaching in the schools under that great authority. They formed under the concordat a religious advisory committee. They have recently revived it, and its terms of reference are these: "That this Committee is to advise on methods of teaching and inspection, the provision of books and lectures for teachers, and generally as to religious instruction in all types of schools." It has done admirable work and, as I say, the committee is now being revived and will go on. If you simply had your joint committee drawing up the syllabus and then disappearing, there is nobody on the local education authority specially charged with seeing that religious teaching is carried on properly. What better, then, than that the advisory committee should continue in being and give its care and attention to the matter? I understand the Minister suggests that it is open to the authorities to do that if they wish, but it makes a very great difference if it is enacted in the Bill as the kind of thing they ought to do. I shall venture, if I may, when we come to the Committee stage—I do not know whether the Government will agree—to propose that it shall be competent for the conference to recommend to the local education authorities the appointment of standing advisory committees to advise on religious teaching, etc.
These are the main points that I wished to bring forward. May I just say this last word, which is only what others have said? Here, it seems to me, is a tremendous opportunity if it is rightly used—a 101 wonderful opportunity for the good of our country, for the good of the children, and not only that, but, a wider issue still, in respect to our taking our right place among the nations of the world. It was asked yesterday what was the purpose of education. If I may quote the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, I think he was right when he said that the purpose of education is not only to teach the way of earning one's living but the right way to live. As I see it, these two aspects must always be included in true education. It was also asked, did education make us happier or more virtuous? I think the answers were rather pessimistic. As I see it, there is something inherent in the nature of man that he should use those powers which God has given him, that his body should be trained and well sustained, that his mind should be opened to this wonderful world in which we live, the world of nature and the world of history, the treasures of art and of music. He is a moral and spiritual being, and we must come back to these eternal laws of God, often difficult to discern and apply, but, as I believe, as much part of the constitution of this universe as natural law. If we can do something to give to the children their opportunity of entering on this inheritance and realize their duty to others, also their supreme duty and responsibility to God and dependence on Him—if we can do something to set forward that in the education of our country, we are doing a great work.
§ LORD AMMON
My Lords, my first words must be of apology to your Lordships for the fact that I have been unable to listen to the other part of the discussion on this Bill owing to my being engaged on a Select Committee upstairs. Next, it falls to my lot to express a word of congratulation to the right reverend Prelate who has just finished, and in that I am particularly qualified not by experience but by sympathy as this is only my second speech in your Lordships' House. Therefore the right reverend Prelate felt a little more at home, especially on this subject, than perhaps I do at the present time. Nevertheless, I am sure your Lordships have welcomed him as an addition to your already very large reservoir of wisdom and learning in the House, and also as a moral and spiritual strengthening thereof. I have not the slightest doubt that others of your Lordships 102 have expressed their appreciation of, and congratulations to, the President of the Board of Education for having brought in this Bill, which will certainly place his name among those which stand out prominently in the history of education in this country. He will rank with Forster and Fisher who have done so much in that connexion. I noted that in his opening speech the Minister said this is the first of the Government's measures of social reform. That, as far as I can see, shows that post-war planning has started off on the right foot. It has laid the foundations on moral, spiritual, and intellectual lines, and I hope it is an indication that they intend to follow through in that direction in their post-war planning.
Having said that, may I add one or two points? I wish there were more "shalls" and fewer "mays" in the Bill, because I can foresee, when the present crisis has passed and the danger has disappeared, there will be opportunities for those who may not be so anxious to see these things come in, to obstruct further development. In that connexion I felt a little concerned when the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, gave a hint, which seemed to meet with some appreciation, that probably there would be a considerable delay before the higher school-leaving age was proceeded with. It is to me a melancholy commentary on Christian civilization that the last great Bill of educational reform came at the close of the last Great War. We have had to wait for another great war before getting this further step on the road to a higher and better civilization. I put it very much on a par with the commentary that we had to wait for a great war before everybody could be assured of a square meal and employment. I hope, anyway, that this Bill may put us on the road along which we should proceed and so make it more likely in the days yet to come that such reforms will be a natural phase of our development, rather than wait for great calamities like the present to drive us to promote such legislation.
The first thing that one appreciates, looking at the Bill from the angle that I take, which is probably different from that of the majority of your Lordships, is that we have got firmly fixed the recognition of the nursery schools and adult education. As one who was for a good many 103 years connected with the Workers' Educational Association, I, at any rate, look upon this with very great satisfaction and expectation. It is also highly satisfactory that we are making the feeding and nourishing of school children compulsory. You cannot expect mental or physical development in under-nourished bodies. May I, as a matter of recorded history, and to do justice where justice is due, mention that forty years ago a member then of the other House, the late Mr. F. W. Jowett, was alone in the country in pleading for children to be fed at school? He was laughed at and derided. It is a case of poetic justice that a Tory Minister of Education should now bring in a Bill confirming what that member voiced many years ago.
I want to turn next to the question of the school-leaving age and to refer to one or two specific points. In his speech the Minister stated that the raising of the school-leaving age was to be postponed, if necessary, owing to a shortage of schools and teachers. That point was referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster. The financial provisions indicate that the new buildings are not likely to be provided until 1947 or 1948. That I think is really a gift to the reactionaries who wish to postpone the higher school-leaving age as long as possible and, judging from the debate which took place in Committee stage in the other House, the Government do not anticipate raising the school age to sixteen earlier than 1961. That does not look as if there were any intention to make any very great haste. I hope I am mistaken in saying that. I am often more pleased to be mistaken than to be right on some things. Then I would like to know what is going to be the position with regard to the secondary and grammar schools. Is a differential school-leaving age as between grammar and modern secondary schools part of the scheme for an indefinite period? Perhaps the noble Earl who is to reply will let us know.
The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, paid a tribute to the work of the public schools. I appreciate the work that has been done by the public schools, but at the same time it is well to remember that the public schools are, after all, based on a different economic foundation. While we may pay tribute to the work of the public schools, and I have no criticism to make of public schools qua public 104 schools, I think they should be made equally accessible to all members of the community. At present that is not the case. They are at the present time centres of class and money differences and are not open to merit alone. It has been said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow. I suggest that this great war will probably have been won on the playing fields of our ordinary secondary schools.
The first question I wish to ask the Government is in regard to the direct grant schools. In this connexion the Minister particularly asked the Fleming Committee for its views as a matter of urgency but when the Committee gave their views the Government refused to accept them. That reminds me of some of the questioners that we used to have when speaking on the hustings. The questioner was very much offended if you did not give him the answer he expected. That seems to be the case in this connexion so far as the Minister is concerned. As the Bill stands at present, this bids fair to defeat one of the objects that we desire to see accomplished in our educational system. In that regard I would like to ask this question which is put to me by a correspondent. Local education authorities are required by Clause 10 to make a development plan, and in making comprehensive plans for its area it must space out the various types of education needed for the children there. If there are, however, several direct grants schools in its area, all with legal rights to decline to co-operate, the whole character of its plans for the area might be spoiled. For example, in the county of Bedfordshire, according to List 60 of the Board of Education, there are eight schools on the grant list. Of these five are direct grant schools, four of which are in the town of Bedford. The fifth is at Dunstable and is the only secondary school at Dunstable. What is to be the position in the county of Bedford when the county council comes to frame a comprehensive plan if these two important urban centres are entirely occupied by schools upon which it cannot count for co-operation? That is a difficulty that is going to occur under the system as it is in the Bill.
The White Paper on which the Bill is based contains the following words:A system under which fees are charged in one type of post-primary school and pro- 105 hibited in the other offends against the canon that the nature of the child's education shall be determined by his capacity and not by the financial circumstances of his parents.There are objections to a continuance of the direct grant system, but if this form of public support is retained then no fees should be charged. The principle should be that no fees should be charged in any school which receives financial aid from the public purse, whether locally from rates or nationally from taxes. I hope that even now the Minister will take a definite stand and decide one way or the other. If they are receiving grants, then they should be treated differently to the way it is proposed in the Bill to treat them.
I come now to the question of priorities. What are contemplated in the development of the reforms envisaged in the Bill? Two will tax the resources of the country—(1) the reorganization of post-primary education and (2) the establishment of young people's colleges. In London, it will cost several millions to provide the buildings and labour and the teachers alone, to say nothing of the sites. I shall be grateful for some indication as to relative priorities to be assigned. Is the establishment of young people's colleges to be given priority over the reorganization of the post-primary system?
Another point I wish to raise has relation to Clause 46. This is causing a good deal of perturbation among some local authorities and in this respect I can speak for the largest authority in the country, the London County Council. This clause extends considerably the arrangements under Section 80 of the 1931 Act for medical treatment and it does it to such an extent as to bring it into conflict with the Public Health Act of 1936. The Public Health Act lays it down that where-ever possible the guardians or parents should contribute something towards the cost of medical treatment. This Bill seems to ignore that. Therefore the two would be brought into conflict and would be likely to bring the local education authority into conflict with the Auditor General. The Bill in fact introduces a comprehensive State medical service for children under cover of the Education Bill. The Bill indirectly subsidizes voluntary hospitals out of public funds through the agency of the local education authority.
Let us take an example of what may happen under the Bill. If a child meets 106 with an accident or falls ill the expenses involved can be thrown upon the local education authority. In regard to domiciliary treatment, the child, when it is able to leave, may still require treatment at home. If he goes to a voluntary hospital and receives medical attention the charge for that can be thrown on the local education authority. Surely there is something which requires to be looked into. There has been considerable correspondence between the Education Department and some of the local authorities but the Minister does not yet seem to have grasped the position. What you are in fact doing is this. You are throwing the whole cost of the medical treatment of the child, no matter how the illness is caused or what are the circumstances on to the education authority, when the child may have met with an accident or may have been taken ill a long way out of the jurisdiction of the area itself. That can hardly be the intention. The Public Health Act, 1936, provides that the health authority may recover from the patient or from the person legally liable for maintenance the cost of treatment in hospital of other than infectious diseases.
One other point which I want to raise is of some importance, although it is not altogether a pleasant matter. Everyone must bear in mind the shock to the country by the revelation of conditions when evacuation took place from London and other large cities to the countryside. I refer especially to the question of personal cleanliness. That was a terrible indictment of our civilization. Speaking on the Report stage of this Bill in another place, the Parliamentary Secretary said it was a terrible comment on our civilization. Under this Bill local authorities will have taken from them the power to deal directly with such things. There is to be twenty-four hours notice given to the parent of the child requiring him to cause the person and clothing of the child to be cleansed, but the parent can object and can appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction. That will mean tremendous delay. Meanwhile the child will mix with other children and travel in public vehicles spreading unpleasant complaints. It is a definite weakening of the power of the local authority, which now has the power, as the noble Earl knows, to deal at once with the matter.
§ LORD AMMON
Yes, that hampers the local authority and increases the danger of the spread of disease. I hope the noble Earl will see that the matter is looked into. I know some medical men are very considerably disturbed that it should be proposed to take away powers which now exist of dealing with an unfortunate and indeed dangerous situation.
Now I would like to say a word about religious instruction and on this matter I speak for myself. I am one of those who believe that religious instruction should be a definite part of our educational system. I feel that the nation has suffered by the decline in the attendance at Sunday schools and by the lack of definite religious teaching. No one who has had anything to do with the Courts can fail to have been impressed by the great sexual laxity and the weakening of ordinary common honesty affecting all members of the community which has become widely prevalent. There can be nothing better than definite religious instruction to counteract that. Mr. Butler, speaking in another place, said:Let us hope that our children—to use the words found in one agreed syllabus—'may gain knowledge of the common Christian faith held by their fathers for nearly 2,000 years; may seek for themselves in Christianity principles which give a purpose to life and a guide to all its problems.'I am glad there has been some measure of agreement in this matter, although I regret the continuance of the dual system. It is a sad commentary on our Christian unity that we cannot somehow or other agree on a common method of religious instruction, but however that may be I am very grateful for the very great measure of agreement already obtained. I hope that everything will be done to see that we get persons best qualified to give this instruction. Apart from anything else that would justify the bringing in of this very great advance in our educational system.
There is only one other word I would say. In spite of its intrinsic merits, this Bill still falls short of giving us an all-embracing comprehensive system of education. It does not bring all our schools into one inclusive national system. So long as there are grant-aided schools and the anomaly of the public schools which are more or less influenced by monetary 108 and social considerations, there will be differences between schools. I enter that caveat but I am grateful for what has been offered to us and I express on behalf of myself and my friends grateful appreciation of and congratulations to the Minister. If some of the points I have raised can be dealt with by amendment I think we can look forward to a better era of educational development and improvement in the physical, moral and spiritual standards of the citizens of this country.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
My Lords, this Bill is so full of excellences that it is impossible for anybody to do anything but join in the chorus of praise it has received, but even this Bill may be improved. The noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned in the course of his observations playing fields, and it is upon that aspect of education that I wish to speak very briefly. I need hardly say that I share the noble Lord's opinion as to the importance of religious, or as I would like to say Christian education, but I want to confine my observations this afternoon to the one question of physical recreation or exercise. The provision of facilities for physical recreation was dealt with in the Fisher Act and Clause 51 of the present Bill, which relates to the question, is largely a reproduction of the provisions of Section 86 of the Act of 1921.
If we look at this Bill we find that in Clause 7 there is a very important declaration that the local education authority should contribute towards not only the moral and mental development of the community but also the physical development of the community. Somehow or other, however, after Clause 7 that aspect of education seems to disappear from the Bill until we get to Clause 51 which, apart from subsection (3) with which I propose to deal at length in a moment, reproduces Section 86 of the Fisher Act. I welcome anything in this Bill which deals with physical development, but I would call attention to the fact that, although Clauses 8 and 10 deal with the duty of local education authorities to make plans for education, there is no express mention of the duty of local education authorities to include in those plans plans for the physical development or education of the child.
Nobody concerned with the administration of justice can fail to be aware of the volume and the character, the disturbing 109 character, of juvenile crime. The available records relating to these young offenders show that the great majority of the delinquents compare badly in physique and robustness with the average child. Physical defects in these cases are, no doubt, largely due to malnutrition or neglect in early years, but I think it is true to say that the provision of ample facilities for play and recreation has scarcely vet been tried. A beginning was made, as I have said, in the Fisher Act of 1921, in the section which made it a duty for the education authority to provide facilities for physical recreation; but I respectfully suggest that this Bill would be improved if Clauses 8 and 10, at any rate, were expressly to mention the duty of the local education authority to include in their arrangements plans for the provision of the equipment which is necessary before recreation can be carried out successfully.
When I come to Clause 51, I find what I cannot but regard as a serious blemish upon the Bill. Subsections (1) and (2) of the clause are, if I may respectfully say so, admirable, reproducing in an improved form—but they only reproduce in substance—the provisions of the enactment of 1921. When we get to subsection (3), however, I find, as I have said, what I regard as a serious blemish upon the provisions of this Bill. The Physical Training and Recreation Act of 1937 was hailed as a notable advance by everybody. It enabled the Board of Education to make grants towards the cost of providing various means of recreation, such as gymnasiums and playing fields, but it was not limited to the provision of recreation facilities for children or young people. It was an Act which, with universal approval, was intended to provide facilities for the recreation of the whole community, and no less a sum than £3,000,000 was set apart under that Act for these purposes. Seven hundred applications were received from local authorities for grant aid under this scheme, and, with the consent of the President of the Board of Education, these applications were referred to the National Fitness Council, who, in turn, delegated their duties to the National Playing Fields Association, for examination and report. I had the honour to be then, and I still have the honour to be, the Chairman of the Grants Committee of the National Playing Fields Association, and I can well remember the labour, the 110 agreeable labour with which we went one by one through those applications for grants under the 1937 Act. We approved a large number of them; we approved something like four hundred and fifty of those schemes. Our recommendations were, in due course, almost as a matter of form, approved later by the President of the Board of Education. The extent of our schemes may be judged from the fact that the area of playing fields covered by the applications was just under 4,000 acres, and the value of the proposed grants may be seen from the fact that the cost alone of the land to be acquired was £346,000, while the cost of laying out and equipping the land was well over £1,000,000.
What happened upon the outbreak of the war, for quite intelligible reasons, was that the grants were suspended and all activities under the Act of 1937 came to an end. But the Act was not repealed, and many of us hoped that when conditions justified action the provision of grants by the Government for recreation for the whole community would be revived. I do not for a moment complain of the decision which was taken in 1939. It was, as I have said, a decision made for reasons which could not be denied. But I find in this Bill that in subsection (3) of Clause 51 the Act of 1937 which was passed with universal acclamation is repealed.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
Well, Sections 1 to 3 constitute the important part. It is Section 3 which empowers the grants to be made by the Board of Education, and it is the repeal of that provision to which I take the greatest exception. It may be said that the reason for the repeal is that in subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 51 provision is made by which it becomes the duty of the local education authority to prepare arrangements for playing fields and kindred activities. The point I want to make is that the Act of 1937 was not limited to children and young people, it was intended to be for the benefit of the whole community, and it is far too late for anybody to say that these provisions should be limited to playing fields and so forth intended for children and young people. The necessity for physical development does not stop at sixteen or 111 even at eighteen, and if my noble friend who is in charge of the Bill in your Lordships' House is going to say that provisions of the 1937 Act are to be cancelled because in subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 51 of the Bill provision is being made for recreation facilities for children and young people, I challenge that answer. It is not an adequate answer to the criticism which I venture to make that the 1937 Act is to be repealed by this Education Bill. The Act of 1937 had nothing to do with education in its primary sense. It was an Act passed for the benefit of the whole community, and I hope that my noble friend who is in charge of the Bill will see his way to reconsider the decision of the Government on this question.
A sum of £3,000,000, in the circumstances which obtain to-day, is not a very large sum, but it is at any rate a sum which, in fact, induced a large number of borough and county councils to incur expenses on the strength of the Government's policy to provide grants for the completion of these schemes. Many of those local authorities have spent money on acquiring land for this purpose in the hope that they would receive grants for the lay-out and equipment of those pieces of land. Those hopes have been blasted by this decision to repeal the Act of 1937, and I fail to understand how it is that in an Education Bill a provision is to be found which repeals a measure which, although it was to be administered by the President of the Board of Education, has little or nothing to do with the education of young children but was, as I have already said, intended for the benefit of the whole community.
Let me remind your Lordships that the Scott Report says that "the playing field is vital to a community life." I do not know what has happened or what is likely to happen to the Scott Report, but I do not think that anybody will contradict that statement by the Scott Committee as to the importance of the playing field in community life. It is important for adolescents and also for people from twenty to twenty-five years of age. If the Government repeal the provisions of the measure of 1937 to which I have referred, they will, for no apparent reason, have deprived a number of local authorities of the assistance which they felt entitled to 112 expect from the Government to enable them to provide these most necessary facilities for recreation.
There is a wider aspect of this question to which I would refer. If local authorities find that the Government promise a contribution, which causes them to incur expense in the hope that the promise will be fulfilled, and then it is not fulfilled, it will be difficult to persuade some of them to restart their activities in this connexion. I beg the noble Earl to realize that what I am proposing will not interfere with any of his schemes for education; it will rather tend to increase their value. The opportunities for youth to use the grounds provided by the Minister of Education will not be in any way diminished by the fact that local authorities have the advantage of the grants which the Government would have to make under the Act of 1937. I hope that this is not too small a point to raise in a debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. I observe that my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery intends to propose an Amendment which will strengthen Clause 51 by substituting "shall" for "may" and that will go some way to meet the point made by the noble Lord who has just spoken. Quite apart from strengthening the admirable provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 51, however, the question remains to be dealt with of whether this House will approve of a proposal in an Education Bill which would deprive the whole community of the advantages promised by the Act of 1937. I hope to return to this question on the Committee stage, with the sympathy of some noble Lords, unless the noble Earl is in a position to make some satisfactory pronouncement. Local authorities have made commitments on the faith of the Government's promises, and I am sure your Lordships will be averse from repealing the Act of 1937, which was not primarily concerned with education but intended for the benefit of the whole community.
§ LORD CLWYD
My Lords, we are discussing a Bill which relates to education in England and in Wales. As I have been closely associated with the public and Parliamentary life of Wales, and as Wales takes a very deep interest in education, I should like to refer briefly to one or two matters raised in this Bill which are of special interest to Wales. Before I do so, however, there are two preliminary 113 points which I should like to make. The first is that I find myself in a very new atmosphere, and a very different atmosphere from that to which I have always been accustomed in connexion with debates upon education measures. I think that the noble Earl in charge of this Bill will remember the days which we spent years ago in another place on education proposals, and the hectic atmosphere, charged with bitterness, and the long sittings to which that gave rise. To-day, as I say, we meet in a very different atmosphere. It is a strange reflection that it has required a world convulsion such as this war to bring us to our senses in regard to this vital issue in our national life.
I do not think that I am going too far when I say that, however important the provisions of this Bill are in themselves, there is something else with regard to the Bill which is of equal importance, and that is that it is being passed with the general support of the community as a whole. Secondly, I have for a long time felt the importance of having preliminary discussions in the country in connexion with Bills of this sort, and I wish again to thank the President of the Board of Education, soon to be the Minister of Education, for coming to Wales and meeting there those mainly responsible in many directions for education in Wales, listening patiently to their views and acquainting himself with what they thought about the matter. I feel that he has contributed materially to bringing about the measure of agreement which now exists on this Bill.
There are certain matters in connexion with this Bill which are of special concern to Wales. Time is short, for me at all events, and I shall confine myself to two points. The first is this: How does this Bill stand in relation to the claim of Wales for special treatment in education? Wales, as many of your Lordships know, has for a long time held strong views upon this point, and Welshmen have pressed this claim frequently upon the attention of Parliament. I will go further and say that a recognition of the reality and of the strength of this claim is an essential condition of any right understanding of the problem of education in Wales. As to the general ground upon which this claim rests, I do not think that I can do better than read a very few sentences from the recent Report of the McNair Committee: 114In general the … recommendations of this Report apply to England and to Wales equally, but certain features of the Welsh situation require special treatment. While both countries have shared in a common social life for many generations, within this wider sphere Wales has retained its own national character. The Welsh language is still the mother tongue of half the population.Perhaps that is a moderate statement.Contemporary Welsh literature is virile, and the traditional institutions of the country are strong and active. These are facts which must influence the schools and teachers of Wales profoundly.Those are not the words of ardent Welsh nationalists; they are the sober judgment of the very distinguished members of a most important Committee which has recently reported upon a vital matter.
When the White Paper was discussed in this House, I expressed the disappointment of Wales on account of the absence from that White Paper of any direct recognition of the difference of the educational conditions prevailing in Wales. I need not say with what satisfaction we in Wales have noted the provision in the Bill which sets up a separate Central Advisory Council for Wales and Monmouthshire, charged with the duty of advising the Minister as to the administration of the Act in Wales. As the Minister knows very well, that provision does not go as far as we want, but it is a step in the right direction, and I hope it will pave the way for a further measure of self-government in education in the future.
There is one other point bearing upon this question of separate treatment, and it again emerges from that very interesting Report. It concerns the question of the assumption of responsibility in relation to the training of teachers. Your Lordships who have read that Report will be aware that there is an acute division of opinion upon that question so far as England is concerned. But the Committee were unanimous in recommending that the University of Wales and its four constituent colleges should assume this responsibility in Wales. They rest their recommendation upon the ground that there are features in the Welsh situation which require separate treatment. That is the first point.
The second point is one of very great interest in Wales, and that is the decision reached so far as this Bill is concerned in regard to the continuance of the dual system in relation to elementary educa- 115 tion. I think it will be understood that we in Wales feel keenly what we deem to be the unsatisfactory educational conditions attaching to this system and, as the House will know, there are circumstances in Wales which seriously aggravate the grievance, particularly in the so-called single-school areas. Let me very frankly tell the House what my views are on that point. I very much regret that it was not found possible to remedy this grievance in this Bill, but I am conscious that a new factor has by this time happily emerged—namely, a new spirit of agreement, of conciliation and of co-operation in all matters connected with education. In my view this new factor in the situation creates at all events the possibility—I would put it no higher than that—of an advance towards our goal in Wales along the road of a closer co-operation and a clearer appreciation of the true meaning of education.
May I mention one other matter of considerable moment to me personally? It is this. The introduction of this Bill has shown a widespread desire for a fuller measure of union in the religious life of the nation. As some of your Lordships know, that is a cause for which I have long striven in every possible way. I confess that I would deeply deplore the awakening again at this time of this old quarrel upon the question of religious instruction in schools. Anything that takes place now to mar the movement in many directions for a closer and more united religious life in the country is to be regretted. Before I leave this question of the dual system I want to inform the House of one development of, I think, considerable encouragement and importance in connexion with this question in Wales. About two years ago the governing body of the Church in Wales and the representatives of the four Nonconformist Churches in Wales constituted a conference for the purpose of considering the question of religious education in all its aspects, both educational and administrative, in the hope of arriving at an agreed policy for Wales. This conference has met from time to time under the chairmanship of the Bishop of St. Asaph. It is of course impossible for me to say what may be the final outcome of these consultations, but I am glad to be able to say that the discussions have been carried on in an atmosphere of the utmost friendliness and good will and with a 116 sincere desire to reach an agreement. I hope that the meetings of this united conference may be continued. I hope further that they will come to an agreement as to a syllabus, and when that is done I would appeal to all those who will in the future be concerned with the policy and administration of the aided schools in Wales to do all in their power to secure that the agreed religious syllabus shall be accepted for all the children in those schools.
In concluding what I have to say upon the Bill let me say that there are three things which to my mind stand out in it. First of all, it sets before the country a conception of education new in character, in range and in purpose. Secondly—and this, if I may say so, gives me more pleasure than anything else—it involves, as no previous Education Bill has done, the recognition of the vital importance of the teaching profession. Thirdly, it creates vast possibilities of educational advance in the future. But, in saying that, I would like all here to remember that there are two sides to this question. The Bill no doubt gives, and gives much, but it asks much. It calls for greater sacrifice, service, and interest on the part of the public of this country than any Education Bill has ever done before. We are sometimes told in these days that we should be air-minded. It is still more important that we should be education-minded. The measure of the success of this Bill will depend not only on the new money and the new machinery which it provides. It will depend quite as much on the new interest and service of the people in town and country. Three hundred years ago Milton wrote his famous definition of education which will be remembered by some of your Lordships:I call, therefore, a complete and generous system of education that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.This Bill has that great purpose as its goal. I congratulate the Government upon having the courage to bring this measure forward in the midst of the storm of war, but on the threshold of a momentous future, and I rejoice to know that within a few days' time it will find its way to the Statute Book of the Realm.
§ LORD ROCHE
My Lords, so great and profound is my respect for the Benches 117 on which he sits that, except for old sake's sake, I should hesitate to add anything to what the noble Lord opposite, Lord Ammon, so adequately said in congratulating the lastcomer to the Bench of Bishops on the very admirable contribution which he made to our debate. I ask, however, to be permitted to do so for a reason your Lordships will appreciate—for old sake's sake. I hate to think it is a little more than fifty years since the right reverend Prelate and myself, in conjunction with the present Lord Chancellor and under the captaincy of a former Lord Chancellor of this House, Lord Birkenhead, played in one College football team together and in the one scrum. I can only say of the right reverend Prelate that he showed to-day the same obvious devotion to duty and the same resolution as he showed in those days of fifty years ago.
With regard to the Bill, it is a custom when a young man at the Bar recently called desires to join a circuit, he comes before a court of the circuit to state his pretensions—that is his claim to be admitted a member of the circuit. Similarly it would add to clarity if I indicated in a few sentences why I am addressing your Lordships at all. It is because for some years past, since I have had more leisure, I have been a governor or trustee of an independent school. Independent schools are often, in the mind of the uninstructed, believed to consist of public and private schools for the benefit of the rich. In the case of my independent school the sole qualification for admittance is that the children should be poor, and for that reason we not only educate them but clothe and feed them. It is quite inadequately appreciated that a very large number of independent schools in this country are in that class. There are all the schools for the children of the clergy, for example, of which there are fortunately so many, and I hope there will be more. It follows, therefore, that I associate myself entirely with the defence of the public schools by the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, may be for different reasons, though I share and agree with his reasons also.
There is nothing, fortunately, in this Bill to the detriment of independent schools. They have to be inspected, and quite rightly so. The school to which I am referring has, by voluntary arrangement, for some years been inspected by 118 His Majesty's inspectors. They have done us no harm, and I am tempted to think they have done us some good. I hope we shall get more good from them in the future. At any rate we have nothing to fear and nothing to lament. In a school of that sort, one gets a very fair cross-section of the educable community of this country. Those who are poor are not limited to any class in particular. We take them as early as six sometimes—therefore, we have a preparatory or almost infant school—and we keep them, having certain training facilities, until they are sixteen and even eighteen, so we run into the young people's college element, about which I shall have a word to say.
That being the position, I now want to approach this Bill and say the little I have to say about it. I agree with the noble Viscount opposite, Lord Samuel, that this is a well-drawn Bill on the whole. It is a clear Bill with few exceptions. It is open to some of the criticisms addressed by the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, to certain of its phrases. I hope he can better them in Committee, but he will have some difficulty in doing so. Some of these may not be very good, but it is none the less a well-drawn Bill. As has been said more than once, however, it is a mere machinery Bill. It has got to be clothed with flesh and blood. It is like the bones that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the valley. It has got to have flesh and sinews and the breath of life. Flesh, I suppose, has to be got from the Minister of Works—that is the schools. In the case of the sinews, obviously the person to refer to is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the breath of life has got to come from the Ministry, from the local authorities and, above all, from the teachers. If you do not get that, this Bill will be nothing. It is a case of "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Good as the Bill may be, what will be the state of education in this country in ten or twenty years time? That will be the acid test. I am not pessimistic. I believe it will be radically improved. The rate at which it can be improved and the extent to which it can be improved will depend upon questions of priority in the first place, and it will depend to some extent on not trying to go too fast. There is an old saying that it is no good running before you can walk, and there is a good deal of wisdom in what Lord Buckmaster 119 said on that point. The first priority is raising the school age to fifteen, but that involves 500,000 children more or less. The next thing I should like to see is the extension of further education. By that I mean compulsory continuation education between fifteen and eighteen, and the extension of adult education, which is purely voluntary. In this connexion I dare say many of your Lordships have read the works of the President of Corpus Christi, Oxford, Sir Richard Livingstone—the Future of Education and his other works. I am a whole-hearted Livingstonian in this matter. The President of Corpus Christi is a very modest man. He would not claim to have discovered anything very new, but he has presented a great truth about education in a very forcible manner. He would not claim to have been the discoverer of it because he fortifies himself by saying that Plato and Aristotle, for example, thought exactly the same thing. The principle as he states it is this: You can never teach a person till he has had some experience of life and most things you can teach him better when he has had that experience.
I can best illustrate the principle by quoting an example rather than by seeking to prove it, and in this way I can do it more shortly. I know that one instance does not make out a case but I could multiply this instance many times from my own experience. In the school to which I refer there happened to be a boy who had some natural parts but who was disinterested, dull and bored, a condition many boys get into. Someone had a bright idea of putting him to work under a very intelligent forester employed on extensive woodlands that formed part of our estate. The boy was so engaged for a year clearing up after the contractors who were felling certain woods and thinning out other woods and preparing nurseries for growing trees for replacement purposes when the felling had been done. In a year that boy was a changed creature. Although previous to this work he had had a first-rate physical instructor he slouched in all his ways, but at the end of a year at work he was on his toes and when his call-up for the Forces was approaching he asked to be allowed to return to school to improve his education in order that he might stand a chance of getting a Commission. That seems to me a strong example of 120 what I meant when I said that it is very important that further education after the school-leaving age should continue after a lad has had some practical experience in industry, or agriculture, or life, and still more that adult education should be promoted as much as possible by State aid for the provision of lecturers and in every possible way. Thus we shall get a population that wants to be educated and then there may be a chance of raising the school age to sixteen.
I join with the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, in thinking that you are inviting disaster if you try to raise the school age beyond fifteen at present. Before you do so you must satisfy the other priorities. What can be worse than trying to educate the disinterested children of unwilling parents, in inadequate buildings, with an insufficient staff of teachers? It is sheer folly to attempt to do so. I hope and believe it will come in due time, but it is an old saying found in Æsop's fables that the boy who tried to draw too many nuts out of the bottle at the same time got none at all. I hope the Minister will be as strong as may be with his colleagues and get as high a priority for all his aims as he can. I share the hope that the present Minister may be long with us. He has an enthusiasm for education and I wish it were possible to make him an All-Party Minister to hold office in successive Governments.
Now I want to say a word or two about two apparently dissociated but really connected matters. I desire to stress the importance both of classical education and of technical education. There are two external streams or sources which have done more to influence the life of this country than any other and those come from two countries, Palestine and Greece. Of those two countries incomparably the stronger influence has been that of Palestine. It is the culture of that country which culminated in the religion of Jesus Christ that has been, in my judgment, through the open Bible, the strongest influence for good among our people. That is a reason why in this country that horrible thing Anti-Semitism, the mark of cruelty and degradation in humanity, is almost negligible. Long may it be so. In my opinion the most reverend Primate and the Bishop of Wakefield are right in welcoming the syllabus education as affording a great chance of extending and 121 deepening the tradition and influence of the Christian religion and I venture to acid my humble agreement with their views on this matter.
The other influence I have referred to is that of Greece. It is idle to think that the masses of this country can learn Greek but it is very important that a substantial portion of our people should learn Greek. If Plato's Republic and his Laws and Aristotle's Ethics and Politics had not been written and read in this country, neither the Fisher Act nor this Bill would ever have come into being at all, at any rate in the form in which we see them. The whole of our legislative life is instinct with the thought and philosophy and knowledge of Greece, and it is because the public schools and the grammar schools have played an important part in teaching the Greek language that I so profoundly disagree with the noble Lord opposite in wanting a uniform grey and level method of education in this country. Those are the schools which alone can keep alive the classical tradition which I think is absolutely vital to the educated life of this country.
I turn now to what is apparently a very different subject, the technical schools. Speaking for myself I am fairly satisfied that with the public schools and the grammar schools and the strong Oxford and Cambridge element on the administrative side of the Board of Education, the classics will have a fair deal, but I am not quite so satisfied about technical education. Without classical education we cannot think and we cannot legislate. Without technical education we cannot live at all, and it is for that reason that I am profoundly anxious regarding the future of technical education and its administration. I will not define what it is but an example is a good thing. I am rather surprised that during this debate nobody has called attention to a very striking instance of technical education existing in this country, I mean the education of the Navy. Technical education in the best sense, whatever its curriculum, is for or in connexion with a vocation. We have it at its very best in the Navy. Of course it does not always uniformly yield the same excellent results but speaking by and large it is singularly successful.
Here I may venture to differ from the noble Lord, Lord Quickswood. His speech 122 was full of originality and thought, which we always expect from him, but it was full of those paradoxes which are half-truths and the merits and success of paradoxes depend upon whether you recognize them as only half-truths or are tempted to think them altogether true. One test of a boy's education which the noble Lord said you should apply is whether he could read a book written in good English and understand and explain it. I am afraid that education must be advanced beyond the age of sixteen to reach that standard because the English people, however sensible they are, are not in the main very bookish. Perhaps I may be allowed to give a personal reminiscence. I had a marshal on circuit who has since attained considerable success in life. I will not give his name of course, but I may say that he was a member of "Pop" at Eton, no doubt more because of his sporting than his intellectual merits. On the whole circuit he did not get through one book, but he was educated so as to become a most useful citizen. When I was joined by another judge, also a member of "Pop," I was satisfied that both were well educated in different ways.
The truth is that there are diversities of gifts. Surely where education is given we can, in the subject matter that is being taught, teach the scholar to know the reason of things. That is not a perfect definition of education, and it does not try to be, but I think it is a sufficient description of the important thing to be aimed at. That is surely that which differentiates man from the rest of the animal creation. That is what differentiates an educated man from an uneducated man. It is in technical education, given in the subject matter of the craft that the man is going to follow—in the subject matter, the theory of his craft—that that lesson may be learnt. I am not quite happy, as I say, about the desire of the Board of Education or its ability to envisage the importance of technical education. I know from his speeches that the President is, and I gather that the Parliamentary Secretary is also, but our very excellent civil servants sometimes need supplementing and assisting. I cannot forget that in the White Paper provision was made for about £2,000,000 to be spent on technical education, but when the matter was gone 123 into it was found that that sum had to be increased fourteen times. If you start with a miscalculation like that, what does it mean? It means that the persons concerned have not the faintest conception of the importance or magnitude of the matter.
I wish the Minister would fortify himself in some way on his Advisory Council by a very strong representation of the technical side of education. What we have to do is to raise technical education to the full status of university education by the time it has reached the technical college. Then we shall finally do away with the false conception that the black coat is what is necessary. A black coat will never save us. The people in our ships, on our farms and in our factories will do that. My plea therefore is for full recognition of the importance of technical education. I would not like it to be thought because I am critical that I do not welcome this Bill. I do welcome it. It holds out glorious prospects, but they can only be fulfilled if there is real enthusiasm, particularly among the teachers. There is an old maxim "By their fruits ye shall know them." I hope that in the time of those who live longer than I the country will see those fruits.
My Lords, I think I may say that this Bill has so far received a large measure of approval from all speakers. I shall venture to put before your Lordships certain considerations of another character. When we last debated this matter I asked the Government whether it was expected that the large increase in expenditure contemplated would pay for itself and I pointed out that if it did not do so it would involve a reduced average standard of living for the whole country. We hear too a great deal about the importance of exports after the war and we are told that they must be sold at reasonably low prices to be able to compete in the world market. If any plan of social service does not pay for itself by cheapening production it does just as much to raise costs as do increased wages or increased prices of raw material. The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, speaking for the Government, was not a little hazy on the subject of educational reforms paying for themselves, but I understood him to assert that even if they did not do so the country was willing and anxious to 124 have them at any price. I wonder what the noble Earl meant. Does he really think the working classes of this country have such enthusiasm for education for its own sake that they are ready to pay for it by accepting personal hardship? Obviously not. What they believe is that other people are going to pay for it and they are going to get the benefits. I do not doubt there will be whole-hearted enthusiasm for education on those lines.
There would appear to be a danger that the whole business is another step in the direction of plundering thrift for the immediate advantage of the majority of the voters, a movement which drove us off the gold standard, reduced our foreign investments, sent up the figures of unemployment by leaps and bounds, and left us unprepared for the present war. The great majority of the voters, so long as they are not themselves liable to taxation, think and always will think they are unaffected by the taxation of other people. It never occurs to them that the same money cannot be used twice over. If anyone's money is taken and used for purposes of relief which produce no material object of value, it cannot be used for the provision of tools and equipment to turn an unemployed man into a producer. I hope the Government will give us a complete account of their calculations.
This business of education is only one of the items of enormously increased national expenditure that our politicians appear to be contemplating. Its finance cannot be considered without reference to the finance of a whole row of other projects, many of which can by no possibility pay for themselves. It is pretty obvious that a first-class financial crisis is brewing. Before long, the working classes will find that if they want this Bill and all the other Bills to come which involve subsidies they will have to pay these subsidies themselves. Up to the present the politicians have had no difficulty in concealing from them the fact that when they vote for plundering their neighbours they are destroying their own prospects. A time is at hand when the only way of even attempting to finance all the new expenditure will be by a pretty stiff permanent Income Tax on wages. How long are the working classes going to stand that?
Coming to the provisions of the Bill, we find a complete lack of recognition of the facts of life. The world we live in is 125 organized to correspond to that degree of civilization and mechanization which we have reached. We want so many bricklayers, so many electricians, so many sailors, and, though changed methods slowly modify the relative numbers required, there is no prospect whatever of rapid change. In all trades there is, in the same way, a pretty steady demand for a large proportion of men to do the manual work and a small proportion of men to exercise control. Here again, there is no prospect of rapid change. Yet we find in this Bill a proposal to give practically everyone an education that will qualify him to rise in the world; that is to say, get a better job than he otherwise would have had. All this improved education, therefore, will be useless for the purpose for which nineteen out of twenty people value it—that it promises them a better and more lucrative job. Better education may, no doubt, give certain individuals a chance, which they would not otherwise have had, of supplanting certain other individuals, but there is no reason to suppose that it will bring about any increase in the number of good jobs available. At the same time, it will bring about an enormous increase in the number of people qualified to become candidates for the good jobs, who, in the circumstances, are likely to form a hotbed of political unrest.
This Bill has given the cranks and faddists the chance of their lives. The whole of what has been is now to be swept away, and a completely new start is to be made on the basis of that hoary fraud, equality. In particular, the public schools are to be rooted out in spite of the fact that 90 per cent. of the rulers of the country have, for a couple of centuries or so, come from these public schools, and that it is the dearest wish of 90 per cent. of all those citizens who have made a success in life to send their sons there. Talk of levelling downwards; who can beat this?
My Lords, the hour is late, and I shall not trespass upon your Lordships' time for literally more than two minutes. I was most struck by one thing that the noble Lord, the Minister of Reconstruction, said in presenting this Bill to your Lordships' House. He said that one of the effects of the provisions in this Bill would be more education for work of what he called the 126 non-white collar type. That seems to me very good news, and it allays, to a certain extent, my fears that one hundred years from now we should have a population of white collars, with everybody in the land selling things to each other, if indeed there was anything to sell, as no one would be left to produce food or goods.
I only wish to draw the attention of your Lordships to one omission from this Bill. I can find no mention in the clauses dealing with ancillary services, nor indeed anywhere in the Bill, of any provision for the use of the cinematograph for teaching. As far back as 1913 the London County Council was considering this matter favourably, and in 1924 the Imperial Education Conference stated—I quote their words—thata strong prima facie case has been established in support of the view that the cinematograph can be of real value as an adjunct to present educational methods.But little has been done, in spite of the gallant efforts of the British Film Institute, of which my noble friend the Duke of Sutherland is President.
For your Lordships' information, may I state that other countries have been much more progressive? In 1939, France had over 5,000 silent and 3,000 sound projectors mainly in the secondary schools. Germany had 10,000, and Russia is singularly well equipped in such facilities. Here, as a contrast, there are barely 500 sound projectors in the schools. That is a totally inadequate number. I am bold enough to suggest that we might have an initial grant to equip a minimum of 5,000 schools with projectors as soon as possible, and arrangements should be envisaged to turn over to educational use in peace time the many thousands of portable projectors that have been used for instruction in the Services and the factories during the war. I have heard that the Board of Education have already stated that they would be prepared to take over some 4,000 16 mm. projectors from the Services after the war. That is very much to the good.
If the supply of projectors in schools were adequate, I can assure your Lordships that there would be no difficulty in regard to the supply of films. The trade would welcome the opportunity of helping to furnish an ample supply of whatever quality and kind were required. It must be remembered—and I would like 127 to impress this on your Lordships for your special consideration—that the correct definition of an instructional film is a piece of equipment in the hands of the teacher. The film does not really teach by itself, but it is a perfect instrument for instructing and learning. In the experience of teachers who have used films, the film does not add so much to the quantity of knowledge as to the quality. I have heard that one teacher, speaking of a class which had seen a film relating to an examination question, said these words: "They wrote with authority." I apologize to your Lordships for taking up time so late in the day on what may seem to be a less important subject, but I should like to ask the noble Earl who is answering for the Government to satisfy such of us as are deeply anxious about this matter by assuring us that somewhere in the Bill education by means of film is implicit or enabled, or else that he will soon set up a committee to study this question and advise upon it.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, the hour is very late. I will cut out a great deal of what I had in mind and race through what I have to say. There are a few points which I wish to make and I hope that the noble Earl who is going to reply on behalf of the Government will comment on them in his speech at the end of the debate, or that he will, perhaps, with his usual courtesy, reply directly to me before the Committee stage is reached. With many other noble Lords I heartily join in the chorus of approval and of welcome to this great Bill. I am glad to have the opportunity of adding my own tribute and also those of the Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organizations and the National Association of Boys' Clubs. The Board has well and truly re-cast the national educational system, recognizing the principle that education is a continuous process, conducted in successive stages. The sentence in the White Paper called "Educational Reconstruction" which pleased me most is the following:It is just as important to achieve diversity as it is to ensure equality of educational opportunity.My noble friend Lord Roche has expressed much better than I could the appreciation which I feel. I should like those words to be permanently inscribed in stone 128 on the portals of the new Ministry of Education. I trust we shall find that this diversity will not impair the social unity within the educational system but will be found in fact to be a source of increased strength.
I am glad to find from Clause 1 of the Bill that the name of the Board is to be changed to "Ministry." I would have supported other noble Lords in moving an Amendment to that effect. I am hoping that by that change of title some effect may be produced on the minds of the present Prime Minister and of future Prime Ministers as to the importance of this great State Department. During the two-and-a-half years' life of the Fitness Council, I served under four Presidents of the Board: all of them were excellent choices. I trust that the Prime Minister in his four-year plan will consider the possibility of leaving Mr. Butler in charge of this Department, and that therefore this great Education Bill may have a real chance of being set in motion. I would next refer to Clause 4, and express my pleasure at the plan to set up Central Advisory Councils. All that I wish to say on this point is that I hope that representatives of voluntary organizations will be appointed to these Councils.
With regard to Clause 7, I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, whether in his personal capacity, if not in his capacity as official spokesman for the Board, he approves of the word "moral," which is the adjective used in conjunction with "mental and physical" before the words "development of the community." The National Association of Boys' Clubs, by its Royal Charter, has to cater for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of its boys. I would ask the President of the Board to reconsider the use of the word "moral" before the Committee stage of this Bill. Do not your Lordships, and the President, wish to go a step further than is implied by the word "moral"? I would refer your Lordships to paragraph 36 of the White Paper:There has been a very general wish, not confined to representatives of the Churches, that religious education should be given a more defined place in the life and work of the schools, springing from the desire to revive the spiritual and personal values in our society and in our national tradition. The church, the family, the local community and the teacher—all have their part to play in imparting religious instruction to the young.129 In the inspiring speech of the noble Lord, the Minister of Reconstruction, I noticed that three times he used the word "spiritual," and in no case did he choose the word "moral." I feel that this word "spiritual" is the word which should be used in Clause 7, unless a better one can be found. The Bill goes so far as to make compulsory a daily collective act of worship, and religious instruction, and I feel sure that most of your Lordships desire to see the complete personality of the boy or girl developed. I do not feel that the word "moral" goes far enough or is consistent with what has been said, and I trust that the noble Earl will not be satisfied with it. If the spiritual side of religion is omitted, what is left? The Bill aims at greater opportunities for our children, and I believe that your Lordships will agree that the fullest and happiest lives have to be built on the rock of faith, recognizing that the spiritual side of our human nature is the most vital part.
I want now to refer to the young people's colleges, which are dealt with in Clause 41. I welcome, as often did my predecessor in the Chairmanship of the National Association of Boys' Club, Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith, the materialization of the day continuation schools of the Act associated with the name of my friend and erstwhile tutor, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher. There is much that I should like to say about these colleges, but I shall limit myself to three points. First, if it is decided to offer facilities and amenities to voluntary organizations after school hours, I hope that the local education authorities will immediately contact the various voluntary organizations in their neighbourhood, in order that plans may be worked out as far as possible to suit the needs of the voluntary bodies. Secondly, if this offer is decided on, I hope that the colleges will be built as close as possible to the homes of the young people who, during half the year, will have to trudge home in the dark. Thirdly, I am very doubtful of the value of attendance for two half-days in the week, and I am not very happy about attendance during one whole day in the week.
Is it really impossible to lay it down that the attendance shall be at the rate of three days in the week? I cannot help feeling that employers in commerce, industry, agriculture and so on would find 130 it much easier to arrange their work with two shifts of young people than if they always had a number of them absent from their work. I wish, too, that it could be arranged for more young people to attend as boarders, because I feel so strongly that the contacts made, especially out of school hours, are of very great help in the development of character and in learning citizenship. If attendance on more days were ordered, I feel that the Butler Act would avoid the criticism of many in years to come that there was no religious instruction given and no act of corporate worship arranged for young people after leaving school, so that the education of those young people was not as complete as possible.
I should also like to refer to Clause 46, which deals with medical matters. It is excellent to realize that medical inspection will continue until eighteen years of age. I should like to express the hope that there will be as much co-operation as possible with the voluntary organizations, so that leaders, who cannot always have the advice of doctors, may know more of the health of those in their charge. Perhaps they might even be allowed to see some general health report before allowing their young people to carry out hard exercises such as running or bathing.
As President of the Five Million Club, which I might call the younger brother of the Playing Fields Association, I should like to refer to the provision of facilities in Clause 51 for recreation and social and physical training, and to ask the noble Earl whether "play centres" include playgrounds such as have been recently planned by the progressive city of Leeds. It is astonishing to find how many cities and towns have provided their more elderly citizens with bowling greens, and have so neglected the provision of playgrounds for young children. Recently a long list appeared in The Times and at the same time a leading article, which especially called attention to the neglect to take action on the findings of an Inter-Departmental Commission on safety on the roads, which recommended strongly the supply of playgrounds for young children at a distance of not more than half a mile from their homes, in order to save many lives from being lost through playing in the streets.
May I next refer to Clause 51? For this purpose I am asked to speak for the 131 Standing Conference of the National Voluntary Youth Organizations which, your Lordships should know, comprise representatives as members of seventeen organizations—the Boys Brigade, the Boy Scouts Association, the British Red Cross Society (Youth and Junior Departments), the Church Lads Brigade, the Co-operative Youth Movement, the Girl Guides Association, the Girls Friendly Society, the Girls Guildry, the Girls' Life Brigade, the National Association of Boys' Clubs, the National Association of Girls' Clubs, the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, the St. John Ambulance Brigade Cadets, the Salvation Army (Youth Department), the Welsh League of Youth, the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association. Also they have as observers at their conference representatives of the Association for Jewish Youth, the British Council of the Churches (Youth Department), and the National Catholic Youth Association, and also observers from the Pre-Service Youth Organizations, the A.T.C., the B.N.C. Association, and the Sea Cadets, who alone number 450,000 boys. There is also the National Association of Training Corps for Girls. I have only read out that list to show what a strong body of opinion there is in favour of some reference being made to voluntary organization somewhere in this Bill of 107 pages.
In 1939 the Government gave the Board of Education the task of supervising the full education of youth, its school teaching, and the guidance of young persons in their leisure. This is made very clear in the Circulars Nos. 1486 and 1516, issued by the Board of Education in 1939 and 1940, from which I feel I must read three short extracts. The first is this:The Government are determined to prevent the recurrence during this war of the social problems which arose during the last. They have accordingly decided that the Board of Education shall undertake a direct responsibility for youth welfare.Secondly:To-day a new beginning has been made, and the principle has been accepted that youth welfare must take its place as a recognized province of education, side by side with elementary, secondary and further education.Thirdly:Now, as never before, there is a call for the close association of local education authori- 132 ties and voluntary bodies in full partnership in a common enterprise; nor need this entail any loss of prestige or individuality on either side.I stress specially those words "full partnership"—not a junior partnership—and that because of this some mention should be made in this historic Act-to-be of the words "voluntary organizations" in some way either suggesting collaboration or some form of contact with the local education authorities. This may be a convenient place to refer to the Board of Education's White Paper The Youth Service after the War published in 1943, in which among a mass of wise and useful recommendations there are many which are most encouraging to the Standing Conference.
I am also asked to speak on behalf of the National Playing Fields Association who are much troubled over certain future developments, but especially fearful that under the present. Bill they will not be able to see completed all that part of their work on which they started under the Physical Training and Recreation Act of 1937. That Act was set up not only to provide fitness facilities for young persons, but also for those of riper years, in fact, for the general public. I would heartily endorse all that has been said by the noble Viscount, the Lord Chief Justice, and to support him in all that he said. But I must correct him in one error into which he fell when, speaking of the consent needed to pass the schemes, he said they were passed through the National Fitness Council. They were in fact passed by the Grants Committee who were acting directly under the Board of Education. Surely it is not the usual practice under an Act of Parliament of this nature, that is to say, one dealing with the education of young people, to mutilate an Act of Parliament dealing with the people in general. Would not an amending Act be the ordinary and proper practice? I feel that we need Viscount Bertie of Thame here to correct the House in such matters. Surely the Board who sanctioned the playing-fields schemes are not going to allow local authorities and others to suffer from their promises?
My noble friend Lord Nathan referred to youth leaders. I think that phrase is likely to stay, we have used it so long now. I agree thoroughly with much that he said. I fear that it will not be 133 possible to get the entire number of youth leaders we need for our clubs unless we pay a certain number. But I agree with him that if you can get youth leaders to come forward voluntarily that is the best. In any case it is quite clear that the organizers will have to be paid in the future. I am not so fearful of that term "youth leader" because it has a Nazi ring; it all really depends on what the leaders say and how they behave, and of course how they are trained on our courses. Taking up what the most reverend Primate of all England said yesterday, I hope that the Board of Education will consider the possibility of setting apart buildings for adult education, which might be developed jointly and used by voluntary organizations, because I feel that the young people should not necessarily be set apart in watertight compartments, but be allowed to join up a little more at times with the outside world.
I do not like to take up much more of your Lordships' time now, but I would not wish it to be thought that I was not interested in the general subject of religion, when I am a member of the Standing Council of the National Society for Promoting Religious Education. I feel, however, that the most reverend Primate and the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sankey, have so admirably expressed themselves on this subject that I need say no more. I would only add that I am prepared to accept the compromise arrived at with regard to Church schools, and I would say nothing which would revive the old controversies. I will end as I began in praising this great Bill. I hope I may be permitted to congratulate the President of the Board and his Parlia- 134 mentary Secretary on realizing that this is a free and tolerant country, and therefore giving us unity and not uniformity, and on realizing that Great Britain flourishes on variety and will not stand for regimentation. Therefore they have found themselves able to level up, and have levelled up, not levelled down, education. I trust that within reasonable time the necessary number of teachers of the right quality may be procured, school and college buildings built, classes made smaller, and that we may find that there is improved classroom teaching, which has the result especially, that the young people are taught how to live, and not only, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said in a most able speech, to learn but to learn how to learn.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Latham, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Lord Nathan).
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.