§ Debate again resumed (according to Order) on the Motion for the Second Reading, moved on Tuesday by Lord Woolton.
§ LORD LATHAM
My Lords, none but a churl would wish to refrain from paying tribute to Mr. Butler for his work in framing this Bill and for his successful piloting of it through another place. I most warmly add mine to the many tributes which have been paid to him both here and elsewhere. The very amplitude and variety of the reforms proposed in this Bill should serve to show us how neglectful we have been in the past of the proper education of the nation's children. In particular, the years between the wars reflect no great credit upon this country in the matter of educational provision. This Bill, as I see it, is an outline plan which will permit of progress towards a unified, more progressive and, we hope, a more comprehensive system of education. It encourages many hopes, but it would be incorrect to say that there are not some hopes which educationists have which are not satisfied by the proposals in the Bill. The Bill, indeed, is not without some blemishes, and in the course of my remarks I shall take leave to direct attention to one or two of these.
Taking the Bill as it is, it will in itself add nothing to the educational system of the country. Its structure has to be filled in by hard work and close cooperation between the Government, the local authorities, the children, the parents, and the teachers. The task which faces the nation in implementing the main proposals of this Bill can, without exaggeration, be termed stupendous. On the mere basis of the provision of school places, there is a gigantic job awaiting us. One hundred and fifty thousand school places have been more or less destroyed 136 by enemy action, and it is anticipated that some 391,000 additional school places will be necessary when the school-leaving age is raised to fifteen. That gives a total of more than half a million additional school places which will be required. Those school places will need sites, and clearly the sites of schools must be larger in the future than they have been in the past. Moreover, there must be a more adequate provision of playing fields, especially for those, children living in the populous, densely built-up urban areas.
One of the first tasks that will face the local education authorities will be to restore the damaged school places and to get sites for the new schools required. For that purpose it is essential that local authorities should have speedy powers of acquisition. I do not wish in this debate to introduce matters concerning town and country planning, but I think it is important to point out that a Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Education has just submitted a report entitled "The Standard Construction for Schools" and in that Report the Committee says:The difficulty in reaching agreement with local owners has in the past absorbed very-much time and denied entry to the site for surveying and levelling. The position is that compulsory powers to purchase cannot be exercised until the Board of Education is satisfied that no other sites are available.Then the Report goes on with sardonic, if unconscious humour, to sayIt is of course realized that the Scott and Uthwatt Reports deal with the matter.They do thoroughly. But as the Government have not dealt with the matter, I would like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply for the Government, what steps the President contemplates taking by himself or with his colleagues to ensure that the acquisition of sites for these new schools and these larger playing fields shall not be hampered by the present procedure. I understand that the Scottish Education Department—Scotland is frequently in front of England as regards education—as far back as January this year issued a circular to the education authorities of Scotland giving them indications as to how they should proceed to acquire the additional sites and to procure the larger areas for schools. I hope that immediately the Bill becomes an Act the President of the 137 Board of Education will take similar and even more urgent steps in that direction.
That is the problem which immediately faces us as regards building, but the problem is by no means less difficult in regard to teachers. It is idle to have good school buildings, it is useless to have large playing fields and other physical facilities unless we have a proper number of teachers of a type which better conditions of service and a better recognition from the point of view of their status in the nation will secure. It has been suggested that at least 70,000 additional teachers will be needed and there are grounds for believing that that large figure may indeed be an under-estimate. I hope that the Government will act as speedily as they can on the main recommendations of the McNair Committee in regard to this very important element of education.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, referred to the question of the size of classes. I appreciate that it is undesirable to prescribe the size of classes in the Bill and that it is a matter properly left for regulation, but it is essential that the size of classes should be reduced. We in the London County Council have an unhappy and sad memory of going to the President of the Board of Education and asking that we might be permitted to reduce the nominal roll in the junior schools of the council by two—I think from forty-six to forty-four—and our request was rejected with contumely. Now classes which contain forty-four or forty-six or indeed forty pupils cannot be properly educated. It casts an impossible task both upon the teacher and upon the scholar. If, as I hope may be the case, the size of classes is to be reduced, that of itself will call for more teachers and it may in many cases call for larger school buildings which will further add to the problems that I have aready indicated.
Such are the immediate tasks and it is well we should all appreciate the measure of the problems which this Bill involves and that the result desired will only be achieved if we have sustained efforts and we do not falter. One of the restrictive elements in the situation is in my view the inadequate financial provisions of the Bill which cast, I submit, undue burdens upon the rates. I would like to utter this word of warning, that a good deal of the enthusiasm now dis- 138 cernible for better education may seriously wane if it results in calling upon ratepayers to pay higher rates. There is a definite relation between enthusiasm for social services and the measure of rates which ratepayers have to pay. We must resolve now that whatever the situation in the future may be there shall not be raised again the Geddes axe, that there shall be no National Economy Committee hewing away the education provision made for the children of this country. I was interested when the Minister of Reconstruction in moving the Second Reading of this Bill referred, as he was quite properly entitled to refer, to the satisfaction he felt in the much wider provision of school meals, but I remember that my noble friend Lord Addison was gibbeted in the Press as a squander-maniac because he provided a quarter of a pint of milk for some school children. That kind of mentality may express itself again, and if that be the case we shall not realize the hopes and expectations which are possible from this Bill.
With regard to the raising of the school-leaving age I want to make this point. We must so contrive that not only the scholar but the parent is satisfied that this extra year at school will be turned to profitable education account and will not mean merely continuing at school for a further year. Rightly or wrongly the average child looks upon leaving school at the age of fourteen as passing into freedom. Two or three months later they may find that they have entered into another kind of atmosphere perhaps less free than the school, but it is the case that most of them regard leaving school as passing into freedom. Unless they can be satisfied in their own minds that this extra year is of value in education and does not merely mean hanging on at school, there will be a reaction among children and parents which I think will be fatal to the scheme of education.
I would like to say a few words also on the subject of young people's colleges. I confess to some disinclination to regard the title as the most appropriate one which could have been chosen. The provision of these colleges even for the first year from fifteen to sixteen, which I gather is contemplated will be the case four years after raising the school age to fifteen, will call for many new schools. It is estimated that when the scheme is in full operation 139 275,000 school places will be necessary. I think we can all agree that if these young people's colleges are to be in any sense successful they must have up-to-date modern buildings. We must not do what was done after the last war and select for continued education buildings which had been more or less rejected for any other purpose. There must be up-to-date buildings and they must have the finest equipment. Here again the success of this scheme, which I think is one of the most encouraging we have ever contemplated in regard to education, will depend upon attracting the interest and the support of the adolescents. They must feel that they are receiving education which will enable them to take part in the adult life of the nation. We must remember that for most of the week most of these scholars will be engaged in industry, in commerce, in shops, factories and offices with adults. For one day a week or for two half days a week they will attend these colleges. It is essential, therefore, that we should so contrive that the education they are to receive is attractive and that the parents and all concerned feel that the provision made is educationally valuable.
I hope that too much emphasis will not be laid upon technical and vocational education in these colleges. I do not want the boys and girls to feel that they have just walked out of one office or factory into another. The cultural aspect of education must be emphasized, those elements in education which, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said, teach the young not necessarily only how to make a living but also how to live, which teach them the purpose of life. That I think is the most important result that we should seek from these young people's colleges. The tragedy of to-day is that there is a break—it is not perhaps so important whether it comes at fourteen or fifteen or sixteen—when the young people of this country go away and are divorced from education. These young people's colleges can repair that and can as it were complete the cycle of education which has already been commenced. I would also point out that whatever we do in providing young people's colleges or otherwise we shall not produce healthy, contented men and women unless the housing and living conditions of the people of this country are vastly im- 140 proved. Side by side with or perhaps in advance of these educational reforms must go the elimination of slums, for in them you can have no intellectual, cultural or spiritual conditions proper to civilized life. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the Government appreciate that education and housing and conditions of life are in fact two aspects of a single problem.
I did not intend to-day to refer to schools which are inaccurately named "public" schools, because no doubt when the Fleming Committee's report is published we shall have an opportunity of debating that aspect of the educational structure of this country, but I feel bound to make one or two comments upon certain words spoken by the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, yesterday. He said: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.If it is the case that the public schools provide for a better way of life than do the other schools it seems to me grossly undemocratic and unfair that they are not open to the whole of the children of the country. We must remember that no more than 3 per cent, of the boys and girls of school age can go to public schools. Then the noble Viscount went on to say: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 on rights, real or supposed, so often met with elsewhere.I should be the last to withhold my appreciation and commendation of what has been done by many in the Forces who have come from the public schools. But does the noble Viscount, Lord Buck-master, imply that these qualities of which he speaks have been any less apparent among the bulk of the men and women in the Forces who come from the elementary schools of this country? I think that no more unfortunate time could have been chosen to make a reflection of that kind upon those who constitute, and must constitute, the mass of those engaged in this country, and in many other countries, upon the war effort, whether in the areas of danger or in the workshops or elsewhere.
The noble Viscount also said:I do not wish to introduce the question of corporal punishment, but I might perhaps 141 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 schoolboy, flog him for something which, perhaps, he has not done, and nobody ever hears a word.Well, I have no personal acquaintance with a public school but I know that the history of public schools is littered with criticisms., and indeed with protests, concerning the brutality of flogging which has been such a marked feature, if not an attribute, of public schools during most of their existence. It is untrue, of course, to suggest that a boy coming from an elementary school has less courage and is capable of enduring physical suffering in any less degree than a boy who comes from, or goes through, a public school. That such statements, which are entirely indefensible, should be made in the midst, as it were, of this great and grim conflict now taking place in Europe, seems to me to be offensive to the bulk of those who are serving this country in the Forces in the cause of freedom and liberty. I cannot but feel that if it is upon such a meretricious basis that the public school system of this country can be defended, then even those who are its strongest critics can scarcely forebear to shed a tear.
I come now to what I regard as a most serious blemish upon this Bill. That is the failure to abolish fees in all schools receiving public money. It is disappointing to all persons of educational good will and social conscience. Whatever verbal gymnastics may be indulged in by the defenders of this Bill, it is the case that out of five types of schools receiving public money it will be possible to charge fees in three of them. The President of the Board of Education submitted a White Paper called "Educational Reconstruction" in which it was stated that the charging of fees was objectionable. The actual words were quoted by my noble friend Lord Ammon in the debate yesterday. The Fleming Committee, by a majority of eleven to seven, recommended that fees should be (abolished, and I would like to read to your Lordships an extract from paragraph 43 of the Fleming Committee's Report. It states:On the other hand, to preserve anything less than a 100 per cent, special place system and so allow a child whose parent was able to pay the full fees any preferential treatment 142 on that account would be the abnegation of the principle that the child should receive the education best suited to it without this choice being affected by financial considerations. We wish, however, to stress the principle that the parents' choice, unhampered by financial considerations, should be regarded as a most vital element in deciding to which school a child should go, whatever system is adopted for determining the entries to the various types of schools.I submit that that is unanswerable. It has received the support of all those who for many years have advocated this reform by which privilege and distinctions should be abolished from the educational system in this country.
The Workers' Educational Association passed a resolution upon this matter as far back as 1917. At that time the most reverend Primate was the President of the Association, and I may say here that we all appreciate the great services which he has rendered to adult education, and otherwise in education. In 1917 at a conference of the Workers' Educational Association at which the most reverend Primate presided, a resolution was passed urgingthe provision of free, full-time, secondary schools for all children who are eligible and are desirous of entering.The whole trade union movement has long been in favour of the abolition of fees, and of free secondary education for all without distinction. The teachers' organizations have also for many years advocated this reform. The Council for Educational Advance is equally in support of it. Even the McNair Report seems to have assumed that the fees would be abolished because, in paragraph 65—dealing with the difficulty of obtaining suitable recruits for the teaching profession, and the great wastage of recruits from our secondary schools—it states:It remains to be seen what the effect of the abolition of fees in secondary schools will be.The effect will be nothing, because fees are not to be abolished. In short, the President of the Board of Education, in framing this Bill and introducing it, has run away from himself as the person who presented the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction.
But there is a more serious aspect of this problem, and it is that under Clause 76 of the Bill provision is made for a means test to be applied to the parents of those children who may go to schools where fees are payable. In that connexion, I should 143 like to read a further extract from the Report of the Fleming Committee:There is another argument which has weighed heavily with us against the solution of this problem by means of such a special place system. In order that this system should cover all the children as they enter secondary schools, it would be necessary to institute a means test for all parents who wished their children to enter schools where fees were charged. Such a means test is already carried out in all areas by the local education authorities, and has proved itself open to serious objections.That will be continued as regards those schools where fees are still payable, as I read the clause and as I am advised.
The result will be, therefore, that there will be a cleavage between the schools which are free and the schools in which fees will still be charged. The fee-charging schools will inevitably be rated higher in educational and social esteem than those which are free. It may not be the case that they are entitled to this higher status, but it will exist and it will persist. It is as important to make it appear that there is social equality in education as that there should in fact be social equality in education. Educational policy is social policy, and I cannot see how, if educational distinctions are to be maintained, social distinctions can fail to flourish. Moreover, certain secondary schools which are now aided may become assisted schools or direct-grant schools in order to maintain fees and that snobbish prestige which some attach to the ability to charge fees. In London there are not wanting already indications that certain aided schools are looking round for means by which they may cease to be aided schools and become assisted or direct-grant schools. That is a very serious circumstance. If that is persisted in, it will widen the field of schools which can be entered only if fees are paid and where, if parents cannot afford to pay them, they must be subjected to all the offensiveness of an income or means test.
It has been suggested that it is desired to preserve diversity in secondary education. All of us want diversity, but it is wrong to assume that there is less diversity in the schools run by education authorities than in the schools outside. The contrary is frequently the case. There is as much diversity in many of the secondary schools maintained by local education authorities as is to be found in the independent or fee-charging schools, and much 144 more experimentation. The President has said that he will revise the direct-grant list. I think that Parliament should be told on what basis he proposes to revise this list. Is it to be done in such a way that there will be fewer fee-charging schools, which will mean that there will be fewer free places? If so, we may run the risk of having a kind of enclave of a special type of school distinguished from the rest only by the fact that it charges fees.
I wish to represent to your Lordships and to the noble Earl who is going to reply that in my view, and in the view of a large majority of people outside who have taken an interest over many years in education, this is a very serious defect in the Bill. I regret that the President did not have the courage to take this great opportunity of enabling us to have an educational system from which privilege shall be excluded, and in which all children in the realm shall be equal, so far as their educational opportunity is concerned. Schools of various types should be provided and diversity maintained, not by reference to the financial position of the parents of the children, but by reference to the educational needs of the children themselves. It is a sorry fact that at this time, when there is so wide a degree of common sacrifice in a common cause, those who return from overseas and from the Services will come back to find that the children, educationally, will still be divided into the Haves and the Have-Nots, and there will still be education which is open to the privileged alone.
§ Lord SOULBURY
My Lords, in speaking upon a Bill of this importance and magnitude, it is not at all easy to confine one's observations within a narrow compass. If time were not so precious I should have liked to give myself the pleasure of eulogizing the President and his Parliamentary Secretary for having piloted through another place the finest and best Education Bill which is ever likely to find its way on to the Statute Book. I should have included in my eulogy the Parliamentary draftsman, because this is a masterpiece of draftsmanship. I am afraid I shall not have time, either, to supplement the apparently sketchy acquaintance of the noble Lord opposite with some aspects of the public schools. In order to avoid inflicting too long a speech on your Lordships, I propose to limit what I have to say to 145 one or two features of this Bill about which I confess that I have certain misgivings.
Before doing so, I should like to say that there is another misgiving which I felt last year when the White Paper was produced and, when your Lordships debated that White Paper, I ventured to say that it seemed to me rather difficult to justify the retention of fees in direct-grant schools while abolishing them in the schools maintained or aided by the local education authority. I think I said at the time that, as both those types of school were in receipt of public funds, to make a distinction between them seemed to be somewhat illogical. Since I have read the observations of the President in another place on that topic, however, I have changed my mind, and I think that the President is right in making the distinction. As he pointed out, if by the paying of fees a parent were enabled to purchase a place for his own child in such a school, and thereby exclude a better arid more deserving child, such a proceeding would be quite wrong; but the President expressed himself as perfectly satisfied that he would be able to take steps to prevent any such wrong occurring, and accordingly it would be wrong of him to prevent a parent from contributing to the cost of his child's education in such a type of school if he felt so disposed.
I think that the argument of the President is perfectly right, and there are other reasons in favour of what he proposes. If fees were abolished in direct-grant schools, one very probable result would be a considerable increase in the number of parents entering their children for the independent schools. That may j or may not be a good thing, but it is certainly not the object of this Bill, and it would not be desired by noble Lords opposite. The cleavage to which the noble Lord, opposite referred between types of school would be more acute than at present. At any rate the range of the problem is, as the President pointed out, very small indeed. He said that something like 4 per cent, of the total schools involved would be able to charge fees, so that it is not a very serious infringement of the principle which the noble Lord opposite has expressed. I find myself converted by the President's argument, and it does serve to remind one that in 146 human affairs one should not be too much governed by logic. I am fortified in my conversion by an observation of a famous namesake of the President's, though I believe not a relative, Samuel Butler, the author of Erewhon, who wrote:Extremists alone are logical, and they are absurd. Man alone is practical, and is always illogical.Now I come to my very few misgivings. The first of them refers to the programme of local administration contained in the Bill. This is, I am afraid, a rather dry and technical topic, but it is of considerable importance. Your Lordships will realize that a cardinal principle of this Bill is that the system of education should be organized on a unified basis and the education of child should be a continuous and progressive process. The present lay-out of administrative authorities is quite inappropriate to any such principle. Accordingly the Government propose that the same authority should be responsible in the area for all the types of education and that that authority should be either a county council or a county borough. That reform is more than forty years overdue; it was the method of administration proposed by Sir John Gorst in his ill-fated Bill of 1896. That was, I think, the historic occasion on which the then President of the Council, the Duke of Devonshire, charged with breaking the sad news to the author of the Bill, used the somewhat brusque but famous phrase "Gorst, your damned Bill is dead." But the reason for the dropping of Sir John Gorst's proposal was the very severe opposition of the non-county boroughs and the urban districts, and as a consequence the Government in the Act of 1902 created the Part II and Part III authorities which are with us to-day. That was an educational misfortune and has produced very grave educational disadvantages since.
Indeed, as the McNair Report points out, the parallel and overlapping system of elementary and secondary schools has complicated almost every other educational problem, and it does serve to show how much harm can be done by preferring political expediency to educational principles. The Fisher Act made no attempt to deal with the problem. In the Reports of various Committees, the Hadow Report, the Spens Report, the May Report, the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates in 1939 and, more recently still, in the memorandum which I caused to be 147 circulated to local education authorities in the summer of 1941 as a basis of discussion of many of the reforms which I am so happy to see in this Bill, it was recommended that there should be a single type of authority responsible for all the types of education. The President is now proposing to do what Sir John Gorst wanted to do forty-eight years ago, that is, to make the county council and county borough the authorities responsible for education in their areas. I am convinced that the President is absolutely right; he has grasped the nettle and taken action at the centre. If I may illustrate what I mean from the memorandum of 1941 to which I have referred, it is there stated thatTo look for reform by way of local action is idle. Civic pride will rarely allow a borough or urban district to admit that its functions could be better discharged by another authority and the full force of vested interests will be marshalled in support of the maintenance of the status quo.Civic pride is very natural and very commendable, but it must not be allowed to prejudice the education of the children.
Accordingly the President has hit upon what I think is a very ingenious system of delegation which is quite a novelty in the history of our municipal law. It is designed to remove these artificial divisions and overlappings but at the same time to preserve the local interest in administration and the very valuable local knowledge. But my misgiving is this. I am somewhat anxious lest in the Government's commendable endeavour to combine the administration by the larger units with delegated responsibility to the smaller units they may push the delegation a good deal too far. I do not propose to give any detailed objections at this time because they might be better put forward on the Committee stage. I will give one or two illustrations and ask my noble friend one or two questions which it may be necessary to deal with in Committee. Under this Bill schemes are to be made to partition the county areas into districts or divisions administered by what are to be called divisional executives, and boroughs or districts with a certain population or a certain number of children at school will have the right, the absolute right, to become "excepted districts." So far as I can make out, in the Bill the only power denied to an excepted district will be the power to 148 borrow money or raise a rate; that will remain the province of the county council—a very important reservation. Otherwise the scheme of divisional administration prepared by the district, if approved by the Minister, may confer upon it, so far as I understand, complete county or county borough status.
If I am right in so thinking the result might not be altogether satisfactory. For instance, in Clause 10 of the Bill it is contemplated that there shall be drawn up what is called a development plan for the area of the county as a whole. That indeed is essential in order to unify and co-ordinate the educational administration in the area. It is I should say one of the main reasons for getting rid of the Part III authorities. But so far as I understand the Bill, there is nothing in it which would prevent an excepted district from including a development plan in its own scheme. So you might get two or more development plans in the same area. This I should say would defeat one of the objects of the Bill. I would therefore like to ask my noble friend this question: If the scheme of an excepted district includes a development plan for the district, will the Minister be prepared to approve it or will he decide that the development plan should comprise the whole area and should be the responsibility of the local education authority and should not form part of an excepted district scheme?
Again, the Government have stated repeatedly in another place that teachers shall be in the employment of the local education authorities, as they are at present, and shall not be the employees of an excepted district or divisional executive. But who may appoint or dismiss the teachers, seeing that the scheme if approved may give the power to an excepted district or divisional executive to appoint and dismiss the teachers? That might itself cause considerable embarrassment and so I put this second question: Will the Government arrange that neither the appointment nor the dismissal of teachers can be made effective without the consent of the local education authority? I could of course give some of the reasons for this but I think that had better be deferred until the Committee stage, though perhaps the noble Earl can give me an assurance which will make it unnecessary to go into the matter any further.
149 The third question I desire to ask is this: Will the divisional executive, excepted or otherwise, have the power to lay down regulations and conditions of service for the employees in their area; and if so, will the Minister ensure that these regulations do not vary from those laid down by the local education authority for the whole area? My fourth question is: Will the local education authority have the power to inspect any school or educational establishment maintained by the authority although it is in the area of the divisional executive, excepted or otherwise? As the school belongs to the local authority and the local authority has the duty imposed upon it of providing the school, it would seem to me that inspections should be carried out by the officers of the authority and not by the method of delegation. Of course my noble friend may reply first of all that all these questions can be settled when the Minister comes to approve or disapprove the scheme that is submitted to him. That may be, but I do not think that is quite good enough. A Minister's decisions, however judicial they may be, are not quite the same thing as an Act of Parliament or as a judgment of a Court of Law. I should think the Minister might prefer some of these points to be determined by Act of Parliament rather than that they should be left to him to take ad hoc decisions in individual cases. My noble friend may say that it is laid down in the Bill that disputes between authorities and divisional executives can be referred to the Minister. There again, I should think the Minister might prefer to have the possible area of dispute limited by Act of Parliament in advance.
As a last resort, it may be said the local authority can refuse supply and reject the divisional executive's estimates. That is perfectly true, but it would be putting the local authority in a very disagreeable position. It might be the cause of unending friction and bickering, and in a good number of cases the aggrieved executive would take the matter to Parliament. The task of securing the county council's responsibility for all types of education in their areas, and at tile same time providing the divisional executive with sufficient authority and sufficient autonomy to justify its co-operation and interest, is a very difficult one. But the Government have said, and said repeatedly, 150 that they will take a firm stand on the basis that the local authority should be the county council or the county borough, and I very much hope that the Government will not be driven off that basis, otherwise I should fear that in the praiseworthy desire to conciliate the Part III authorities the Government may fall between two stools and make the worst of both worlds.
My last point is in regard to the future of this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. It has been said already that it is one thing to put a Bill on the Statute Book and another to get it working. This Bill provides for the raising of the school-leaving age from fourteen to fifteen on April 1, 1945, and it is provided in the Bill that if further time is required to obtain an adequate supply of teachers and buildings to cope with the additional age group, the Minister may, by order, postpone the coming into effect of the raising of the school age by two years—that is, until April 1, 1947. After that date, the order ceases to have effect and the age will be raised.
For the last twenty years everyone interested in education has advocated raising the school-leaving age to fifteen, but in most cases with the proviso that, as a condition precedent, there should be adequate provision of teachers, and teachers of the right type, and adequate provision of accommodation. Under the Education Act of 1936 the date for raising the age was September 1, 1939. I remember the then President of the Board of Education, Mr. Stanley, giving reasons for fixing the date so far ahead. For instance, the local authorities 'would not be ready sooner, and he could not consider only those who managed to solve their problems quickly. It had to be the pace of the slowest ship. If the voluntary schools were to have time to plan and negotiate, three years would be necessary, and it was of great importance that further time should be allowed to complete reorganization. He said:I think that it is the opinion of most people interested in education that the addition of an extra year to the school age, without reorganization, is of very little educational value.In February, 1936, when that Bill was introduced, the percentage of children over eleven in reorganized schools was, in urban centres, about 65 per cent, and in rural centres about 27 per cent. The last figures I have got, for March 31, 1939, 151 show that the percentage in the urban areas was 70 per cent, and in the rural areas 30 per cent.—a comparatively small increase. To-day's figures, as a result of evacuation, transport difficulties, and so forth, I should say are somewhat less, but I have no accurate comparable figures. The President of the Board of Education said in another place that only 16 per cent, of the voluntary schools were reorganized into senior, junior, and primary, and as regards council schools only 62 per cent, of the council school-children had the advantage of reorganized secondary education. The position in the country districts is that only 20 per cent, of the schools are reorganized into secondary schools. The White Paper to which I referred itself stated that "complete reorganization is the most crying need in the field of whole-time education." Then there is the matter of buildings, to which the noble Lord who spoke last has referred. The problem in 1936 was that much more accommodation was needed in order to enable the age to be raised in three years' time. There was considerable building between 1936 and 1939, but I very much doubt whether we are to-day where we left off in 1939. Indeed, as the noble Lord said, we have lost about 150,000 places through enemy action.
Then there is the no less important problem of supply of teachers. As Mr. Stanley said at that time:Not just teachers but teachers trained for the particular job they will have to do.In 1936 there were 193,000 full-time teachers in elementary and secondary schools in England and Wales. In 1938 the number was 191,000. I have no accurate figures for to-day. The number seems to be in the nature of 175,000, which would be accounted for by many of them having gone on war service. As the noble Lord has pointed out, the McNair Report estimated that 250,000 teachers would be required for the primary and secondary schools, and if all the reforms proposed in this Bill were to be carried out something like 300,000. I mention this because it is obvious that all these considerations which in 1936 made it necessary to allow at least three years for raising the age to fifteen are operating to-day, and some of them are operating with even greater force than they had in 1936. And yet under this Bill the permitted interval is 152 already less than three years, and the war is still continuing.
Of course, the Government are perfectly well aware of this position, but it should be stressed for two reasons. In the first place, there is a good deal too much optimism prevalent in some quarters as to the date when the school-leaving age can be raised or should be raised. For example, I observe in the Spectator of May 19 a leading article entitled "Society and the Teacher," in which it is said:The raising of the school age to fifteen which in the Fisher Bill was permissive and has been virtually a dead letter is now definitely to take effect less than a year hence unless quite unexpected difficulties intervene.I do not know what the writer means by "quite unexpected difficulties," but I should say that the present expected difficulties were quite serious enough to make the raising of the school age less than a year hence an impossible proposition—impossible, that is, unless all educational principles are to be thrown to the winds. Even if the war ended to-day, does the writer of this article expect that the extra 50,000 teachers could be recruited and trained by April 1 next, and that the thousands of extra school places required—the President says 391,000 places will be required— could be prepared and approved in about nine months from now? Such a forecast is quite absurd, and the longer the war lasts the more absurd it becomes.
But if we find such a forecast in the Spectator, what are we likely to find in less responsible and well-informed journals, and what unfounded hopes have already been aroused in the minds of the general public? Unless the general public realize what are the educational requirements essential to the raising of the school age, there will be a risk that well-meaning enthusiasts may press and induce the Government to raise the age before the schools and teachers are ready. In the attempt already made in another place to fix the date for the raising of the age to sixteen, I detect a danger of that kind. If the Government were to yield to such pressure before there were enough teachers and school places, and before adequate progress had been made with reorganization, the inevitable result would be a tremendous increase in the greatest evil of all educational evils. Large classes—I should like the noble Earl to tell us how 153 many classes there are with more than fifty pupils to-day—cramped space, poorly equipped teachers and a general atmosphere of chaos would cast discredit upon our whole educational system.
I should feel happier if the Bill contained a positive prohibition against the raising of the school age until sufficient accommodation has been built, enough trained teachers have been secured and very substantial progress has been made with reorganization. According to the White Paper the Government are not prepared to introduce these reforms until the end of the war. The President has said— and it is said in the White Paper—that if this step were taken within a short period after the end of the war before reorganization is completed, the arrangements for the children's education would necessarily be of an improvised and makeshift character. I hope he will not be forced into making arrangements of that kind for there have already been too much makeshift and improvisation in our educational history. I am sure the President is quite right to make a start with the scheme for emergency recruitment and training of teachers for he can make little or no progress without them. When I was at the Ministry of Agriculture I learnt that the bull was half the herd and when I was at the Board of Education I learnt that the teacher was at least three-quarters of the school.
We must bear in mind, as the McNair Report points out, that if the President is to get the number and the quality of teachers that he needs, a great deal will have to be done to make the teaching profession much more attractive than it is at present. I suppose the normal attraction to a profession is provided by the emoluments or status or a combination of both that it offers to candidates, but for some reason or other the teaching profession has lagged a long way behind other professions in those respects. One would have thought it would have been otherwise. Disregard of the teaching profession has a very long history and the literature of the last 2,000 years or more is sprinkled with gibes at it. Perhaps it may not be regarded as irrelevant if I mention one or two to your Lordships. Shortly alter the disastrous campaign in Sicily an Athenian was asked if he knew the whereabouts of a missing person. He could only reply, "Well, he is either dead or become a teacher." Some 500 154 years later Lucian, in an account of the underworld, describes those who have been kings or satraps on earth as reduced in their future state to beggars and compelled either to sell kippers or teach the elements of reading and writing. We can skip a thousand years and we come to Erasmus complaining that a man stands aghast at the thought of paying for his boy's education a sum which would buy a foal or hire a farm servant. And in recent times we have had that sneer of George Bernard Shaw "Those who can, do, those who can't, teach".
I do not know to what to ascribe this attitude unless it be to some congenital aberration of the human intellect; but unless it is radically changed, unless we all of us come to realize that the teaching profession is one of vital national importance and that it should rank in public esteem at least equally with the professions of medicine and law, the Government will not get the quantity or quality of teachers they need. If the great educational edifice constructed in this Bill is ever to be entered and occupied, then, in the words of the White Paper, the provision of teachers in sufficient numbers and of adequate quality is the master key which will open up the whole building.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, I have a particular point to raise in this debate but before I do so I think perhaps it would be only fair to my noble friend Viscount Buckmastcr, who owing to other duties cannot be here to-day, that I should defend him against the onslaught of my noble friend Lord Latham. As, however, I do not see Lord Latham in his place either I will defer that for a moment and go on to say that I want to join in the chorus of congratulation to the President of the Board of Education in having got so large a measure of agreement for this Bill. For the first time agreement has been reached to name one particular only, on the necessity to give every child some form of religious education subject to certain safeguards and agreement that the school shall be opened with some corporate worship. It is a great advance.
I am one of those who with my noble friend on my right, Viscount Samuel, can vividly remember Mr. Birrell's Education 155 Bill and the strenuous efforts he made to secure religious agreement. We can therefore congratulate Mr. Butler on having cut the gordian knot and in some miraculous way, of which he alone apparently has got the secret, induced Catholics, Protestants and Nonconformists—whichever be the lion or whichever be the lamb—to lie down together and enshrine in a clause of the Bill a plan which will give to every child in the land the priceless advantage of corporate worship and some form of religious instruction. I hope the noble Earl will convey to the President of the Board of Education our gratitude to him for this great feat which he has achieved, the blessings of which I think we cannot exaggerate. At the same time, I want to suggest that it is really useless to get this agreement, and to pass this Bill into law, unless you can make quite sure that in this country—which is the citadel of freedom, and only a short time ago the only surviving citadel of freedom in Europe, without whom no religious teaching would be possible at all, for had we been overwhelmed that would have been the end—the children are educated in the duties of citizenship.
A friend of mine has lent me a book called The Christian Counter-Attack and in the pages of that book are to be found stories of the heroic defence of their principles by the clergy of Occupied Europe which must warm the heart of all those who care for the Christian faith but also must arouse bitter anger in the heart of everyone who looks for liberty of conscience. It is a terrible indictment of the Nazis. Until I read this book, which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester was good enough to lend me, I never knew how complete and fierce was the effort of the Nazis to destroy the Christian faith as we know it. To read of the brutalities to clergy of all sort, not tens or dozens or hundreds or thousands of them but tens of thousands of them, made one say that whatever happens this country must stand firm against the tyrant. In this Bill, as I have said, you make it mandatory for the first time that in this matter of religious teaching, although we give the greatest latitude in so many other matters, all local education authorities and teachers must conform to the broad principle laid down. But there is not a word here that 156 all teachers and all local education authorities must teach to the children in our schools the principle of the duty of the citizen to the State. And if I am right in what I have said, as I think I am, we can definitely prove that we were within an ace of losing all that religious freedom. Surely it will be wise, even before we come to those clauses, to put in a definite mandatory statement that every education authority shall ensure that every child shall learn the elementary facts of duty to the State.
I have put down an Amendment to Clause 22 of the Bill, in which I propose that every child shall be taught his simple duty to defend his native land. I have chosen that form of words very deliberately, because "right" and "duty" are to be found in the document to which I shall presently refer and the term "native land" makes it quite clear to all people of all shades of political opinion that so long as we are Englishmen we will defend our native land, and that that is what we are out to do. What is the law of the land which I suggest should be taught to all children? I have had the advantage of a consultation with my noble friend Lord Wright, to whom I wish to pay my humble tribute of thanks for his clear-headed statement of the law to me. He said: "If you are quoting, do not quote me. I do not mind if you do, but quote a book which all will agree to respect—Dicey's Law of the Constitution. This is what that work says, and I am submitting to this House that this ought to be enshrined in the heart of every man—I include teachers and others—and every child in this country:The common law right of the Crown is to repel force by force in the case of invasion, insurrection, not or any violent resistance to the law. It is a power which has, in itself, no special connexion with the existence of an armed force.Now, every subject, whether civilian or soldier, whether a servant of the Government (for example, a policeman) or, on the other hand, a person in no way connected with the administration, not only has the right, but is as a matter of legal duty bound to assist in putting down all breaches of the peace, including invasion and all forms of violent resistance to the law. I want every child to learn that that is the rule of England—that everybody must fly to help when need arises. I submit that that is of more value than 157 Fleets and Armies. It has been proved in the event. I do not think that I shall be asked: "Is this the law?" I think that there will be no challenge to Dicey on the Constitution, fortified by Lord Wright, and, if I may say so, by a wonderful speech—concerning which the Lord Chancellor said to me: "I do not want you to keep on quoting it," but nevertheless I will quote it—made by the Lord Chancellor on an appropriate occasion some time ago. I do not think that there is any doubt that this is the law of the land.
I may be asked though, "Will the teaching of it to the child and to the citizen have a real effect in saving us from the onslaught of the enemy?" I think there is no doubt about that. It must be so. But I asked two people what their views were. One of those whom I questioned was the representative of Switzerland over here, and the other was the representative of Russia—that is to say the representatives of the smallest and the largest European Powers, now free from Nazi domination except for one corner in Russia. To the Swiss representative I said: "Does it make a great difference that you teach every child and every citizen that this is his own individual duty?" (and curiously enough it was that phrase, "his own individual duty," that Lord Wright quoted to me yesterday) "Do you think it is due to that that your country has remained inviolate through so many centuries?" He replied: "There is no doubt it is the foundation of it all—Le fondement du tout."
Not long afterwards I went to see M. Maisky, who was then the representative of Russia in this country—and here may I say that he is now missed very much over here. I put to him the same question. I said to him: "Do you teach every Russian child that it is his duty to defend his country?" He said: "Yes, indeed we do, and we continue that teaching right through." "Has it made a difference?" I asked. Curiously enough he used the same phrase as the representative of Switzerland had used. He said: "It has been the foundation of it all." He then proceeded to describe to me how all difficulties of mobilization were smoothed out because every man knew that it was his duty, and how, when they were overwhelmed, it was not necessary to tell people to use every 158 endeavour to thwart the enemy. They did it of their own accord. Wherever it was possible they became partisans, and performed acts of heroism which the world will never forget, which have saved Russia and, in saving Russia, have probably saved us too.
I may be asked whether this would not bore children. On the contrary it would be the most interesting lesson they ever get, if it is given in the right way. The child would be told: "You cannot leave these things to other people. You must realize that it is your own responsibility, as well as everybody else's. Look at the things which have happened again and again in this war which is just coming to an end"—as we hope—"and in previous wars. It has been the spirit of the people which has saved us; not the Fleets and Armies alone, but the spirit of the people." Then you can quote some other vibrant words, to which I shall refer in a moment. The story of how England has survived against combinations of hostile Powers is a thrilling one, and it has always survived by the determination of our people—even with pikes, as my noble friend Lord Strabolgi will remember, in this war—to be ready themselves to fight when needed.
It may be said that this matter is of vital consequence and can be very interesting to the children, but does it really concern the defence of our land? You had better ask any soldiers, sailors or airmen who have to do either with the recruiting or with the training, or both, of our Forces. These people will tell you that when young men come to them with a knowledge of their responsibilities the training period can be much reduced; in the case of the Army I know that it can be reduced by half if people are keen to learn. If men have always known that it is part of their job in life, they are keen to learn. I suppose that the success of the Boy Scouts was due in the first degree to the fact that they taught from the start the vital lesson that keeping order and defending the country were not the affairs of other people only but were one's own intimate, personal responsibility to the State. That duty has been specially emphasized in what are called the public schools, to which Lord Ammon referred. To the great joy of those of us who were at Harrow, he said that he understood that the Battle of Waterloo was won on 159 the playing fields of Eton and Harrow, and I thank him for that; I have no doubt that it was. Some people may say: "Yes, but you nearly lost the South African war on the playing fields of both schools." I do not think that that is quite true, but at any rate we can approach this matter with good humour. The public schools have laid special emphasis on this matter, and it has been a valuable element in their teaching.
Now that I see Lord Latham back in his place, I must be permitted to say in defence—if defence be needed—of my noble friend Lord Buckmaster, who cannot be here owing to other duties, that Lord Latham had misapprehended, I am sure, what Lord Buckmaster said. I heard every word of it, and I have refreshed my memory since. The sum and substance of it was that if the boys—or, as I think they prefer to call themselves, the men—of Winchester, where Lord Buckmaster was at school, had been more frequently beaten, more of them would have been judged worthy by their Sovereign on their merits of being made members of this House. I do not know how that may be; "Spare the rod and spoil the child" may be a good motto, but I do not know whether it applies to Winchester.
I do think, however, that the kind of class attack made by Lord Latham was hardly merited by Lord Buckmaster's speech, and least of all by the facts of this Bill. Someone who has attended all the debates in Parliament on this Bill said to me that Lord Latham's was the first class speech of the debates in both Houses. For the moment I thought he meant that it was a first-class speech because it was of superlative merit, and in fact parts of it, like the curate's egg, were excellent; but what he did mean was that in all the long debates in another place and in this House up to now the class issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Latham, had never been raised at all. The reason is not far to seek. Throughout the discussions on this Bill, which the Minister has conducted, by common consent, with very great skill and patience, he has carefully avoided the class issue in every shape and form. He has never said: "We will endeavour to keep special privileges for those who can afford to send their children to more expensive schools." On the contrary, 160 he has recognized that in this country, where private enterprise still survives, and people have varying incomes, there must be varying forms of education, but he has carefully avoided anything which could tend to make things harder for the poor. I think everybody will agree that that has been his great effort throughout. I have thought it necessary to say that, because otherwise it might be thought that we passed sub silentio the class issue raised by my noble friend Lord Latham, in a speech which was otherwise full of the knowledge of education which he has acquired by his devoted service on the London County Council.
To sum up what I have said, I have begged the noble Earl in charge of the Bill to give me some assurance that an effort will be made to teach the children of this country, and to teach the teachers to teach the children, the elementary duties which I have described. I want, if I may, to secure that the great things which have been said in the past, the great calls to duty from Shakespeare onwards until finally we come to the call to duty of the present Prime Minister—"We will fight them on the beaches; we will fight them everywhere; we will never surrender"—are never forgotten. I want those splendid words not to be thought of as words used for the moment in a particular crisis, but as words meant for all time, enshrining the determination of the people of this land, at the sacrifice of their own lives if need be, to maintain the citadel of freedom.
My Lords, I do not take part in this debate with any intention of expressing dissent from the very general and very unusual chorus of approbation which has greeted the introduction and the passage up to now of this far-reaching measure, nor to dwell in general upon its provisions, on which so many noble Lords have spoken. I do not propose to say anything at all on the religious aspect, which has necessarily and rightly engaged the attention of so many speakers. I want to dwell only upon one aspect of this measure; but it is not merely an important aspect, it is absolutely fundamental to the future success of the operations of the Bill. I think I should say that I take part in this debate at the direct request of no fewer than 90,000 registered teachers—that is, 161 fully qualified teachers—of whom no mention has been made up to now in your Lordships' House nor in another place. So far their claims to recognition have been completely ignored. I shall have something to say about it.
I think it says a good deal for the virility of our public thought and our Parliamentary institutions that twice in the course of a great war we have engaged in the consideration of educational reform. I remember very well the last occasion, which was in the last summer of the first World War. I remember it particularly because I had just come back from France charged with the duty of trying to create an organized educational system throughout the Armies, and owing to the thoughtful kindness of Lord Haldane I was encouraged to make my maiden speech on the Second Reading of the Bill of 1918. Twenty-six years have passed, and one hopes that in some respects at least the parallel between that Bill and this will not endure. That Bill had, as I think most of us recognized, even as this Bill has, seeds of greatness in it, but many of those seeds were unplanted, unfruitful, unenjoyed throughout the long years of sterility end frustration which made the gap between these two world wars. We may hope that there will be no parallel therefore between what we describe as the great Fisher Act of 1918 and what undoubtedly will be known as the great Butler Act of 1944. It is to play such humble part as I may in averting any parallel in that respect that I take part in this debate.
This Bill, as many have said, is a great Parliamentary performance, but merely placing it on the Statute Book is not an educational reality. It is, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Latham, said, a plan, and a plan depends upon its execution. It is, if one may say so, a great piece of machinery. This Bill involves and includes many reforms of which educational reformers for many years past have dreamed and for which a number have worked, and we are very grateful to see those incorporated, as we may hope they will be with the passage of this Bill, into law. But machinery depends upon the use that is made of it. We are building here a great ship, and a ship is of no use whatever unless we can secure the crew by which it will be manned. It seems to me that the whole future of this Bill 162 depends upon two things: first of all, the Minister of Education of the future. We may hope that the time has long gone by when that office was not regarded as of the very first political importance. We may hope that we shall have successive Ministers of Education who will be determined to use the great powers that will be hereafter theirs to the fullest extent possible. But they can only use those powers if they have the men and women to carry out the provisions of this, Bill. And what oppresses me is that in all the chorus of approbation with which this Bill has been received there is to my mind rather a premature note. I would go even further, I think there is an air of unreality about many of the congratulations upon the passage of this Bill.
What hope is there of our securing the teachers that will be required under this Bill? I want to address myself to two aspects of that question: first, the long-term aspect, the permanent national aspect; and, secondly, what I may term the short-term necessities which will arise immediately after this war. There have been various estimates of the number of teachers that will be required under the full provisions of this Bill. Some have given a figure as low as 50,000 more than at present, some as high as 90,000. I think it was the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, a former Minister, who gave the figure of 70,000. At any rate, whatever the number, it is going to be a very considerably greater number than we have at present, and we must frankly face the fact that the number to-day, even under the existing system is inadequate. We must face the realities of the situation.
It is true that the introduction of this measure was immediately followed by the Report of the Committee presided over by Sir Arnold McNair. It is in a sense complementary to this Bill. But though the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill spoke of the McNair Report as "this most fascinating Paper" it is in this particular respect extremely disappointing. The McNair Report, in paragraph 58, uses these words:…the existing arrangements for the recognition, the training and the supply of teachers are chaotic and ill-adjusted even to present needs.I ask your Lordships to observe the order of those words. The Report places, and rightly places, in my submission, recog- 163 nition first, but there is absolutely nothing whatever in the whole of that Report to show how that recognition is to be achieved. There are three paragraphs which deal with the question of the recognition of the teaching profession, and that word is quite erroneously and loosely used throughout the Report, but there is absolutely nothing to show how that recognition is to be achieved. The Report is accompanied by a prefatory note by Sir Maurice Holmes, in which he uses the words:There must be a supply of teachers adequate both in quantity and quality.Quantity there is put first: I myself would have infinitely preferred—though I do not wish to attach much importance to the order—putting quality first.
At any rate there is a consensus of opinion, I think, among those who have studied the facts that this question of the adequate supply of teachers is absolutely vital to the successful operation of the 33111. It is not merely a question of the supply of teachers. It must be an adequate supply and they must be adequately qualified. I do not think that we can be said, either as a nation or as a Parliament, to be facing realities if we agitate for smaller classes, if we fix a date for raising the school age, unless we can be assured that when the time comes for that date we shall have the teachers that are required. We are putting the cart before the horse. I do not in the least criticize the building of the cart—obviously that has got to be done—but it is not quite reasonable to build a cart larger and heavier than the horses you expect to have will be able to draw.
I say that there are three requirements which must be satisfied before there is any reasonable probability of the supply of teachers meeting existing needs, and there has been no indication yet that these requirements are going to be fully met. First of all, you will have to increase the emoluments of the teaching staff. I think there is agreement that that is so, and the McNair Report deals largely and lengthily with that point. That is material, and it is necessary for the material needs of men and women. Secondly, it is essential to improve their working conditions, to give them buildings, playing fields, and in every respect to make their work possible and fruitful. 164 That again is material. Thirdly—and it is the part that the quotation I made from the McNair Report puts first—you must raise their status. The McNair Report has three paragraphs, 100 101 and 102, devoted to the question of the status of teachers but, as no doubt your Lordships will have observed, it makes no recommendations whatsoever. It says that it is easy to make generalizations, but it is difficult to frame recommendations to secure a higher public regard for education, and so it makes none.
Is it not a very singular thing that throughout all the discussions upon this Bill, throughout the deliberations in another place, throughout the debate in your Lordships' House up to date, there has been no reference of any sort or kind to the one movement, a statutory movement, for the recognition of the teaching profession—the one, the only means, by which the teaching profession can be unified? The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield in his speech referred to what he called one of the most promising provisions of the McNair Report, where it recommends the unification of the teaching profession. The machinery for the unification of the teaching profession has been in operation for thirty-two years, only it has never been sponsored or backed in any way by the Board of Education. The noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, in the extremely realistic and valuable concluding part of his speech, referred to this. He said that for some reason or other—I took down his words as he said them—the recognition of the teaching profession had not advanced. The reason is perfectly obvious. Successive Presidents of the Board of Education have never attached any weight whatever to the registration movement. They have never backed it in any shape or form, and it must be backed now or never.
We have come to the parting of the ways as far as recognition of the teaching profession is concerned. Here you have set up under Statute, a Statute of 1907, in operation since 1912, a great body representative of all classes of teachers, of all shades of political opinion, which is possibly why insufficient weight has been given to it because it has never played a political part at all. It represents the universities, the specialists, the secondary, and the primary teachers—forty-four members chosen by the universities and by the sectional organizations representing these different classes of people, with 165 an independent Chairman, a position I had the honour to hold for twelve years. I ceased long ago to be connected with it, and I am not in any way advocating anything personal in the slightest degree. This body has never been used since it came into existence. Under its provisions we have had over 102,000 applications for registration. There are on the register to-day 90,200 teachers—that is, those who have satisfied their brethren, men and women, that they possess the qualifications to be members of an honourable profession. That is the meaning of a profession, that it has a recognized entry. We have seen it in the medical profession, we have seen it more recently in the profession of architects. They have set up their standards among themselves, and they judge who are properly qualified. The McNair Report refers to the necessity for a single grade. You have got it in the registration movement. They talk about the qualified teacher. That is exactly the same thing as the registered teacher. Why will the Board not make use of the machinery that they have? It is no use paying lip service to this ideal of a profession. You have got to attach reality to it. You only attach reality if you use the professional machinery which is in existence.
This body, representative, as I say, of the whole of the teachers, began its present functions in 1912. In 1929, after it had been in operation for seventeen years, and no use whatever had been made of it, no inducement whatever given to any teacher to register, on the instructions of the Council I had an interview with the then President of the Board of Education, Lord Eustace Percy. I put to him directly the question which it is again my duty to put to the Government: "Are you going to use this movement, or will you bring it to an end?" We were then seeking that all the registered teachers should form themselves into a society, and we desired that we should have His Majesty's permission to call ourselves the Royal Society of Teachers. I said, "It is no use attempting to obtain His Majesty's permission without the support of the Board of Education—will you give it?" He promised me then that he would give it. It was given to the extent that His Majesty's gracious permission was given, and in 1929 the Royal Society of Teachers came into existence, with the Teachers' Council as its executive.
166 Since that date, no use whatever has been made of it—absolutely none. An unregistered teacher may be placed in professional supervision of a registered teacher. There is no provision that headships should be reserved for those who have taken the trouble to qualify themselves professionally. Absolutely no use of any sort or kind has been made of it.
I therefore say that now, when you have come to a position where it is essential to attract more and more people to teaching, the Government have got to make up their minds whether they will use this machinery which at present exists or whether it should be brought to an end. I hope that the noble Earl who I understand is to reply on behalf of the Government will be able to give me a simple, direct answer to a perfectly simple and direct question of which due notice has been given: Will the Government use the teaching profession as it exists in the united body which alone represents all classes of teachers? If they are unable to give that assurance, then it is quite simple to repeal a little piece of statutory legislation which gives them authority for existence. That is the long-term policy. I am not pretending that recognition of the teaching profession, the elevation of the status for which thousands of teachers have worked so long, will in itself produce the required number of teachers. Of course it will not, but it will enormously facilitate the recruitment of teachers in the future, and I would go so far as to say that without some stimulus in the way of enhanced status it is utterly idle to think you are going to get in the future the number of teachers you require for the really successful operation of this Bill.
For a moment I turn to the short-term necessities. Here again I am sorry to be egotistical but I have had some peculiar personal experience of this particular matter. It is so often said, I have heard it over and over again in the last few months, "Oh yes, you will get all the teachers you require out of the Army the moment hostilities cease." There is a short-term special recruitment policy designed to that end no doubt, because the Government have been so pressed, or over-pressed in my humble submission, to fix a date for the raising of the school-leaving age to fifteen. You will not get the teachers out of the Army within any very quick time after the cessation of hostilities and as to that I do not think 167 I speak with any fear of contradiction. In December, 1918, exactly the same kind of position arose and the War Cabinet of that day suddenly decided that all men in what they called Class 43—that is to say, all students and teachers, a very wide and general category—might claim immediate demobilization. The information as to that reached me personally on 10th December, 1918, the very day after the Army Educational Movement had had an Army Order enlarging it from a structure into a real organization. It was entirely dependent, therefore, upon the very class that the War Cabinet had decided forthwith to demobilize. I had at that time the right of going to the Secretary of State for War direct in any matter of urgency and this was so urgent that I did go to see Lord Milner.
Lord Milner had not been consulted on this decision though he was Secretary of State for War and, having found that the orders had already gone out and that it was too late to cancel them, he got on the telephone then and there to the Treasury and a financial inducement was offered to those who were willing to stay. The Board of Education, which again had not been consulted, very generously, and I think very broad-mindedly indeed—and I wish to call this particularly to the attention of the noble Earl who replies for the Government—sent out in December, 1918, a circular to all its local education authorities asking them not to press unduly for the return of their teachers. The reasons are fairly obvious. It is quite true that the education of the nation takes precedence, from an educational point of view, of anything else. At the same time you cannot suddenly and quickly take away those who are instructing the Army. I will give a definite example. In November, 1918, before the Armistice, I had been endeavouring to persuade the Commanding Officer of the great machine-gun training centre to establish in advance educational instructors and get his library ready and so forth. He replied politely, but very reasonably, that he only had people there for intense short courses of machine-gun training, and that he could not be bothered with educational courses and they must wait. On November 12, 1918, the very day after the Armistice, he sent an officer specially down to see me at 168 the War Office and said: "Here am I with many thousands of men in this organization; I cannot go on teaching them machine-gunnery; they won't stand it. Send me instructors soon, also books and everything else." That happened right throughout the formations of the Army. You cannot withdraw, or attempt to withdraw, the instructors from the Army immediately or for some time.
We do not know in what manner history is going to repeat itself. We do not know when this war will come to an end but it is perfectly certain that after hostilities, and for some time after hostilities, large numbers of men will be retained under arms for the passification of Europe and you will have to do something with them. You cannot withdraw the teachers straight away. Therefore, it is not facing realities to ask that this date for raising the school age to fifteen shall be in the early part of next year, or even, I should say, two years later. This is a slow business. We are creating a very great piece of machinery which will take a long time to put fully into operation. Quite apart from the buildings there are many things which have got to be prepared. Those of us who have pursued educational reform in any humble degree desire the raising of the school age to fifteen and to sixteen. We desire also the reduction of classes; but you must have as a condition precedent an adequate supply of properly trained teachers.
A thing that I am most afraid of is that under pressure we shall see teaching flooded by financial inducements and very hasty and inadequate training courses with a large number of inadequately trained teachers, and that we shall have a lower and not a rising standard of education throughout the country. It is from that angle of experience that I do most press for an answer to my question: Are the Government going to recognize and use the teaching profession as a whole? Are they going to negotiate with the one body which represents the teaching profession as a whole? I do not mean on questions of pay, which may rightly be left to the very powerful and very great sectional organizations, but on matters affecting principle, on all matters affecting status, are they going to give to teaching the honourable degree of a profession? I think we are entitled, before this debate closes, to have a direct answer to a ques- 169 tion which is absolutely fundamental to the future success of the Bill.
§ Lord ROCHESTER
My Lords, speaking as a Free Churchman my first word must 'be one of appreciation to my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education, now the Minister designate, and to his able and indefatigable lieutenant, the Parliamentary Secretary, for the patience and forbearance they have shown in seeking to reconcile under this Bill so many conflicting interests. I am sure your Lordships will permit me on this occasion to take the opportunity of congratulating the Parliamentary Secretary upon the honour announced to-day that His Majesty has been graciously pleased to intimate that he shall be sworn of the Privy Council, a recognition of wonderful work magnificently done.
In this Bill we see a genuine attempt to provide the country with a far-reaching and comprehensive measure of educational reform. The extensive and imaginative programme for the reshaping of the whole educational system of the country embodied in this Bill has aroused great hope in the country. I am only sorry it has not proved possible to arrive at a settlement of that most thorny of all educational problems, that of religious education. Wise men that they are, I observe that both the Ministers to whom I have referred carefully abstained from the use of the word "settlement" in that connexion. That may well be because, unlike some people, they refuse to indulge in wishful thinking. I must make it abundantly clear that the compromise embodied in this Bill is in no sense an agreed settlement as between the Churches, but one imposed upon us, however reluctantly by the Government and thereafter agreed to by the House of Commons, almost by force majeure.
In view of the immense potentialities of this Bill for good, establishing as it does a Christian basis for education to be given by teachers trained and willing to participate therein, I cannot but feel much hesitation and the gravest responsibility in ranging myself amongst its critics even to the extent I am constrained to do. Free Churchmen suffer under a great disability in your Lordships' House, in that we are not officially represented here, whereas the Anglican Church has two Archbishops and twenty-four Bishops whose powerful advocacy is such as to need no emphasis from me. That being so, I might well be 170 forgiven if I, a humble Methodist layman, declined to enter the lists. My task is an exceedingly difficult one and I crave your Lordships' indulgence as I endeavour to state the Free Church case as succinctly as I can.
For the much better atmosphere and the happier auspices under which we are able to discuss this subject now than was the case forty years ago when I was Liberal candidate for a cathedral city, I am indeed thankful, and I feel that credit for that must in no small measure go to the Church of England. In that connexion I should like to mention the contribution made in another place by the spokesman of the Church of England, the honourable Member for Lewisham West, Mr. Brooke. I must also mention the honourable member for Leigh, who spoke so courteously for the Roman Catholic Church. I want to be most careful in what I say. During prayers at the opening of our proceedings to-day the right reverend Prelate prayed for true Christian love and charity one towards another. Believing as I do that God is in this place my anxiety is to avoid saying anything unworthy of His presence. I recognize that much has been said and written on this subject in the past which is not in accordance with how one would speak or write under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
I cannot of course in the short time at my disposal refer to all the points raised in this debate by previous speakers affecting the Free Church position, but there are one or two which it would be discourteous to pass by, and I am sure that the most reverend Primate will not misunderstand me if I refer first of all to the speech we heard yesterday from the Liberal Benches and acknowledge the exceedingly courteous words that were addressed to us by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. He said: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.… 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.The noble Earl went on:We still hope that in the Committee stage of the Bill this House will agree to certain alleviations.I feel I must say that I trust that last expressed hope is misplaced. I feel that so 171 many concessions have already been made to the Roman Catholic Church that the Bill is already unbalanced, and I hope therefore that not only will no further concession be made in that regard but that the Bill will be strengthened on the other side.
I as a Free Churchman would be no party to anything unjust to Roman Catholics. The Free Churches fought for Roman Catholic emancipation in England against all who opposed it. I put Home Rule for Roman Catholic Ireland in my Election address as long ago as 1910. County schools under this Bill will not teach Free Church doctrines. We teach them in our churches and Sunday schools. If the Roman Catholic Church claims the right to teach children a distinctive and to us an unwelcome sectarianism, and to do so insists on contracting out from a national scheme, we think it should in all fairness foot the bill. We as Free Churchmen ask no financial help from the State for our buildings nor for the teaching of our principles. Those are taught in our churches and Sunday schools and I will hazard the statement that we have far more Sunday school buildings than either the Roman Catholic Church or the Anglican Church. We have spent vast sums of money on such buildings for teaching our doctrines to our children. If the noble Earl will forgive my saying so, I think the Roman Catholics are making a great mistake from their own point of view. I rather suspect that some Roman Catholics both in the United States and in pre-revolution Germany have reason to be distressed to-day at the results of an extreme policy of segregation, and from our point of view there are clearly most serious disadvantages there. No such difficulties as we are discussing exist in America, as all schools outside the State system—.that is all denominational schools, elementary and higher—receive no aid whatever from public funds.
Now, my Lords, because of the exigencies of time I can only refer to two other previous speakers, and the first of course must be the speech made on the opening day by the most reverend Primate. He drew an ideal picture of an English village with "a virtually homogeneous community in its religous tradition." He said such instances were to be found. I suggest that they are a rarity. Most of the villages 172 of England are not religiously homogeneous, because nonconformity is to be found in every part of the land. The Archbishop went on to explain what is the real value of the denominational school, and he placed it upon "the association of the school with the Church itself." In other words, he looks to the Church school to be the nursery of the Church. Obviously, then, in so far as such school succeeds in its ideal, it tends to lead non-Anglican children into the Anglican Church. His Grace also referred to the question of loans—but I will return to that matter a little later. He further made a very definite reference to the retention of aided schools. I will come back to that again in a moment.
Turning now to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester, it will be recalled that he said that the President of the Board of Education had been "very successful in persuading the different interests to approve." Whatever authority there is for that statement I am at a loss to understand, for certainly the Free Churches have not approved and do not approve. I must be careful in your Lordships' House, but I suggest that the relationship between that statement and the truth is so distant as to be scarcely recognizable.
The Lord Bishop of CHICHESTER
My Lords, I used the word "interests." I did not say "denominations." And it is a fact, surely, that the President of the Board of Education has been able to persuade several kinds of opinion to agree with his scheme—a scheme with which I am not myself in agreement, as I stated at the time.
§ Lord ROCHESTER
I still hold that no agreement has been reached. Certain representatives of the Free Churches were called in by the Government to see the Board of Education but they had no authority to speak for their respective Churches. They were only expressing individual opinions. I am sure that what is true of the Methodist Church is true of the other Nonconformist Churches also. The representatives were not empowered to speak on behalf of the ruling bodies of their Churches and the congregations, and there has not, therefore, been official approval of this scheme. The most that can be said in that regard is that the Bill incorporates so many great educational reforms that, at a time of grave 173 national emergency like the present, the Free Churches feel that they have no choice but to stand by and see this Bill passed into law, more or less in its present form with all its many serious defects. The denominational question is by no means settled, however, and will necessarily have to be dealt with under another Parliament. I, like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester, can also see an amending Bill looming ahead of us. The Bishop made another statement to the effect that "Mr. Butler gambles on a very large number of non-provided schools becoming controlled schools." I am not following him into that betting terminology, but I would say that the Bishop made it abundantly clear that every effort will be made to retain as many Church schools as possible as aided schools. If such a policy should prove successful, then this Bill will have the effect of fastening upon the country the existing system of denominational schools for some time longer.
My contribution to this discussion is based on no merely sectarian considerations. On the contrary, it is freedom from such considerations for which I contend. In a sentence, our claim is to be Free Churchmen in a free State, in fact as well as in name. We are asking that there should be schools available in all areas predominantly under public control where teachers should be free from ecclesiastical tests; that in the selection and empowering of such teachers the question of denomination, as distinct from their Christian character, should not be allowed to enter in. I agree most fully with what the noble Lords, Lord Soulbury and Lord Gorell, said to-day that the teacher is the key to the whole situation. The calling and work of the teacher must be invested with new honour and dignity, and raised, as the noble Lord, Lord Gorell, has just said, to a new status, and I would add a status commensurate with, say, that of the medical profession or even of the ordained Ministry. It is a great vocation. We are told that the aim of this Bill is to give every child equal opportunities. Will anyone say that it gives every teacher equal opportunities? Thousands of posts are closed to teachers otherwise well fitted simply because they do not belong to the Anglican or Roman Churches.
But I have argued that case in your Lordships' House before, and I will not 174 pursue it now in view of the little time at my disposal, as I want to concentrate upon another matter, which, to Free Churchmen—and I think to many others—is the outstanding blemish of this Bill. Notwithstanding the alterations made to this Bill during its passage through the House of Commons, while providing educational advance in many directions, it is, nevertheless, in some ways actually retrogressive. In fact the ideal of one national, un-sectarian system of education is abandoned under this Bill, and the dual system, condemned ever since 1870 by those who put education before sectarianism, is riveted upon the country more firmly than ever. If, in the view of the Government, the sectarian influence is so strong that the dual system must remain, is it unreasonable to ask even now that at least the admitted injustice of the single-school area should be eliminated? Is it just that children of Free Church parents should be under compulsion to attend a school of another denomination where the atmosphere in some cases may not be altogether free from opposition to the Protestant faith?
Conscience clauses providing for segregation or for transport elsewhere, do not in practice nullify the injustice. Schools provided for the purpose of one denomination constitute in 4,000 areas the only provision for children of other denominations, and even if that number were reduced by one half, of which we have no guarantee whatsoever, that would only be a difference of degree, not of principle. Clerical managers in certain dioceses seem determined that these schools shall not be changed, either in control or outlook. In these schools the religious teaching is commonly given by the clergymen, and is apt to be such as denies the true churchmanship of all Churches which have not an episcopal form of government. The little village chapel, maintained by the parents of Free Church children, is thus disparaged, if not derided. The Church to whom so much money has been given by this Bill, in order to give their schools continued existence, should surely be willing in return to concede that consideration for others which they desire for themselves. If a plebiscite of the inhabitants in single-school areas were taken to-day, and they were free to say whether they would now have a denominational school or a county school, is anyone in any doubt as to what their answer would be? I be- 175 lieve that they would unhesitatingly ask for a county school. This Bill, however, gives them no such option. The headmaster of a village Church school informed a Methodist minister this year that 95 per cent, of the children in that school were Methodist children. Roman Catholics say that they do not regard this Bill as a final settlement. Neither do we. By its passage more public money will be provided by the State for sectarian schools than ever before, and the grave injustice of the single-school areas will remain, even if in a less degree and in a more attenuated form.
In the debate in your Lordships' House last year on the White Paper, I ventured to say:My appeal is to the Government and the Church of England that, in the case of single-school areas, there should be no choice of alternatives, but that all schools in such areas should become controlled schools.Resisting an Amendment to that effect in the House of Commons this year, the President of the Board of Education admitted that the claim was not unjust and added "Indeed, the claim is perfectly reasonable." The most reverend Primate has publicly admitted our grievance, and so have many other spokesmen of the Anglican Church; yet single-school areas are to remain under this Bill, and in my submission will be more firmly established than ever in those places where they will be continued. The Government White Paper, after condemning the whole system of dual control as "inconsistent with proper economy and efficiency," added:… very many of the Church of England schools … particularly those in rural parishes where no other school is available, have in course of time come to be attended by a high proportion of children of non-Anglican parents. It is felt to be a real grievance that these children can only receive Anglican religious instruction unless they are made conspicuous by being withdrawn therefrom.I ask your Lordships to note specially the concluding words, "unless they are made conspicuous by being withdrawn."
What are the concessions said to be made in this Bill to meet this admitted injustice? Clause 27 reproduces a previous provision in Section 12 of the Act of 1936, and is in no way new, whereby in an aided or special agreement school 176 Free Church parents may claim the right of agreed syllabus teaching for their children; but that in itself makes them conspicuous. Clause 53 (1) provides that—A local education authority shall make such arrangements for the provision of transport and otherwise as they consider necessary or as the Minister may direct for the purpose of facilitating the attendance of pupilsat other schools. Is there any statutory protection for us there, protection as of right? The principle for which we contend is not conceded, and if the local education authority does consider it necessary, or if the Minister does so direct, and if Free Church parents do press for such transport to send their children to the nearest county or controlled school, by the very fact of so doing their children, in the words of the White Paper, are "made conspicuous."
But that is not all. Incredible as it seems to us, more public money is to be granted for the express purpose of rehabilitating and perpetuating these very schools. A further concession is said to be made to us by the Amendment which has been made to Clause 99. How can that be? I confess that I am at a loss to appreciate any sense of concession there. The clause as amended provides that upon application for a denominational school to become an aided school, if in addition to the 50 per cent. grant of public money a loan is sought from public funds in respect of the balance, then in single-school areas, before granting such a loan,the Minister shall consult such persons or bodies of persons as appear to him to be representative of any religious denomination which, in his opinion having regard to the circumstances of the area, are likely to be concerned.I confess that it seems to me that there is a little confusion of thought in suggesting that that is a concession to Free Churchmen. The granting of loans was a concession to Roman Catholics, which the Anglicans very readily supported as benefiting them too; but Free Churchmen objected, and they will do so even more if this provisions of loans should apply in single-school areas. We were given distinctly to understand that that would not be so. To suggest, therefore, that this provision for the Free Churches to be consulted in conjunction with the diocesan authority in this connexion is in any sense a concession to Free Churchmen is grotesquely beside the mark.
177 I agree that it is something to the good that for the first time the single-school area is defined in this clause, but to say that there is anything here which sub-stantially removes the grievances of Free Churchmen or solves the problem of single-school areas is to handle the truth carelessly. When the new clause empowering the Minister to make loans to aided schools was moved by the President of the Beard of Education in the House of Commons on April 4—this is the point to which the most reverend Primate referred, and to which I made reference earlier—the President said he desiredto make quite clear … these loans shall not be used in the case of Anglican schools to perpetuate the grievance of the single-school area.Later, my right honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary said in the same connnexion:We cannot contemplate this clause being used to perpetuate the single-school-area grievance in the 4,000 parishes where it exists.The very day after those statements were made in the House of Commons by His Majesty's responsible Ministers, the Congress of the Free Church Federal Council agreed unanimously that in their opinion "no loans should be made in respect of schools in single-school areas." I therefore ask right reverend Prelates and others who think that this is an agreed scheme not to let it be said that the Free Churches are a party to any such loans being made.
Then there is the major compromise of this Bill, the controlled school. That is said to be a concession to Free Churchmen. So be it; but surely in that case it is in the single-school areas of all places that such a concession should be not merely operative but obligatory. The whole conception of the controlled school is a movement away from the rigour of the dual system in the direction of public control, and much to be preferred to the aided schools. That is why I am content to ask for controlled schools in single-school areas, as a compromise. I am not pressing for county schools in such areas, although I submit that we should be quite justified in doing so. Resist this lesser claim and I say to our Anglican friends that the larger claim is likely to become the more insistent. Is it unreasonable to ask our fellow Christians to meet us in this way? I think many people must be surprised at the moderation of our request.
178 Let me ask what would have happened if this Bill had not been brought forward. I suggest that in that case the Church of England would have handed over their schools at an increasingly rapid rate to the local education authorities. She would then have been free to throw her energies into a great scheme of national education with a single mind, to the immense advantage of Anglicans and Free Churchmen alike. By the device of the controlled school the Bill creates an entirely new type of school, and although Free Churchmen are far from being enamoured of it I think it is so much to be preferred to the aided school that Free Churchmen would be well advised to accept it as a compromise in single school areas. By so doing the Free Churches would be making a very real contribution to a settlement, for their preference would undoubtedly be for county schools with agreed syllabuses and corporate worship.
After all, what are these controlled schools? They are an admitted compromise, albeit still weighted against Free Churchmen. They are denominational schools which will have the whole cost of reconstruction and the future cost of maintenance borne out of public funds, but will retain two denominational managers, one of whom will be the incumbent in the case of the Church of England schools. Those two denominational managers will have the statutory right to veto the appointment of certain reserved teachers. Really the creation of controlled schools confers a greater benefit upon Anglicans than upon Free Churchmen. But in that we acquiesce if by so doing we can go forward together. The real difficulty is—and I recognize it quite frankly—that the hour has now gone by when, except with the good will of the Anglicans, we can expect the Government to make such a change in the Bill as to remove this element from it, although I still believe many members of the Government—yes, and of your Lordships' House—deeply deplore the continuance of this injustice. Only one group of men can remove it now—the leaders of the Anglican Church, clergy and laymen, if only the most reverend Primate would lead them, and I know that many of your Lordships are members of that Church.
179 Now that controlled schools have been devised, there is a wonderful opening for a great Christian gesture that may never recur. Oh that the Church would have the courage of her opportunity. Refuse, and an impetus will be given to the purely secular solution, which on the next occasion will be difficult, if not impossible, for both Anglicans and Free Churchmen to withstand. Make no mistake, there will unquestionably be a next occasion! The compromise in this Bill may stave off full public control for a generation, but in the nature of things cannot be permanent in a democratic country. Nevertheless, I realize that spiritual strength, foresight and restraint of a high order are required to accede to this appeal. The Church may withstand this request and think she has won a victory in her negotiations with the Government, but such a victory will have in it the seeds of its own undoing. When Hitler thought he was storming the last streets of Stalingrad actually he was destroying his last storm detachments. In this Bill the Anglican Church is left with a giant's strength in the matter of education.O it is excellentTo have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannousTo use it like a giant.Why should they so use it? It seems difficult to believe that Anglicans wish to take advantage of the privileges that this Bill puts into their hands in single-school areas. They and they alone at this late stage can remove this blemish from the Bill. The time has come when for good or ill this issue will be decided. This is the opportunity for generosity and for the refusal to press an advantage, for "preferring one another in honour."
The spokesman for the Church of England in another place gave it as his opinion, before the loans concession was made, thatThe consequences of this Bill will be that single-school area schools will be reduced from about 4,000 to under 2,000.If over half these schools are to become controlled schools in any case, what a golden opportunity for the Church to do the generous thing and offer to accept such new status for all their schools in such areas. If so many are to pass over, why not rise to the occasion and include them all, and do it not because of financial inability but on principle, and thus 180 remove this grave injustice once and for all? What is it that holds them back? Is it that in the controlled schools there will be an agreed syllabus to which both parties subscribe for use in county schools? I would suggest that theirs has been the major influence in compiling those syllabuses, much to the advantage of all concerned, and I would add that may well be even more so in the future.
What is there to fear for the cause of religion in the controlled schools? The fundamental truths of the Christian faith common to all the Protestant Churches will be taught therein, and upon such a sure foundation our respective churches and Sunday schools may advance to teach and interpret their distinctive sectarian beliefs and convictions without let or hindrance. There is a solid core of common belief shared by Anglicans and Free Churchmen alike, which provide a genuine basis for Christian teaching in controlled and county schools. The beliefs we hold in common are of far greater importance than those about which agreement among us has not yet been reached. Such basic truths as the existence of God, His love, holiness and justice, the Incarnation, the teaching of the four Gospels and the ethical standards of the New Testament—these all come within the content of recent agreed syllabuses, as also do the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Sacraments. You can teach the Apostles' Creed on an agreed syllabus. Here is what the Cambridge agreed syllabus says on the substance of the faith—and the most reverend Primate quoted that syllabus in another connexion to develop his argument:There have been many formulations of the Christian faith which may be summed up as follows:—I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the forgiveness of sins and the life eternal.Could more be asked in an agreed syllabus for schools? After all, the Christian faith begins with God and ends with the Church. We need to guard against reversing that order and to bear in mind that there is a doctrinal teaching which is not denominational. The President of the Board of Education in the House of Commons said that "the more the agreed syllabuses are known the more widely will they be approved."
In urging the removal of this grievance of the single school-areas once and for all, I am only asking for what some 181 would call democracy in the Bill, and others the preservation of our English tradition of freedom in matters of religion. In an Occasional Review just published by the Council of Christians and Jews, these words appear:Let us never be content only to check what products ill-will, but rather to counter ill-will and its tendencies by promoting active co-operation and by uniting in the service of the community which claims the allegiance of us all.These inspiring words were written by the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and noble words they are too. But, I ask, are they nor equally applicable, even more apposite, to the present impasse between fellow Christians in this single-school-area grievance? His Grace is more than the head of the Anglican Church. He was won for himself the great spiritual leadership of the nation. He is President of the British Council of Churches, comprising all the Protestant Churches of this country, and I for one delight to serve under his inspiring leadership in that Council. The life of the spirit is a life of fellowship with man as well as with God. Peace cannot exist in the religious world any more than anywhere else unless there is justice. I have made my appeal. It is to those of your Lordships who are members of the Anglican Church rather than to the Government, and there I must perforce leave it. I apologize for trespassing so long upon your Lordships' time.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, I most fully appreciate the great sincerity with which the noble Lord, Lord Rochester has spoken, but as I have a certain amount to say from a wholly different point of view I do not think it would add to the merits of the debate if I attempted to answer him. I must, however, thank him for one thing. He has made me renew my youth. Forty-two years have slipped away, and I feel I am back in the House of Commons in my first Parliament in June, 1902. For that I thank him. Before I come to any general argument, I want to mention one or two small points for the consideration of the noble Earl below me (the Earl of Selborne) and of the House. I would draw his attention to the second subsection of Clause 93. On the face of it, that looks a very flagrant attempt to override statutory rights by administrative discretion, and I trust he will be able 182 to explain what are the circumstances which have led to that subsection and how it can be justified. Then, with regard to what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, yesterday, I should like to support warmly two of his suggestions. I object to the word "auxiliary" because it certainly implies a degree of subordination. You hear of auxiliary naval craft, auxiliary service, and one thing and another, whereas the two types of schools are really complementary to one another. Neither ought to have any assumption of superiority over the other. And I strongly object to the phrase, "young people's colleges." From the point of view of those who are to be made to go to them, that form of words is simply emetical, implying control by their elders and betters in its most offensive form.
When I spoke last August on the White Paper, I ended by saying "I do not conclude in a spirit of pessimism." I wish I could now add that I resume in a spirit of optimisim. It is no pleasure to me to prophesy rough things, more especially when I remember the great labours, the conciliatory spirit, the good will, and hard work of the President of the Board of Education. But I cannot do otherwise in face of the stark facts of the situation. I am not out to blame anybody except the late Mr. Cowper-Temple. There are two reasons why I cannot expostulate with him. The first is that I do not know his present address, and the second is that my theological authorities might deprecate my endeavouring to get into personal touch with him. I shall not repeat what I said about his formula last year, but it is strangely anomalous that if two bodies can agree on a formula they can use it—it is legal to use it—however offensive it may be to the rest of the community. I cite a single example. It would be perfectly legal in the county schools of England to teach the divine origin of Episcopacy because that is held by at least two denominations. It seems to me almost a reductio ad absurdum that there should be cases like that, and there are even stronger ones. Well might we say, as the Bishop of Chichester argued yesterday, that they do these things better in Scotland.
Under the new syllabus clauses, what was formerly permissible is now made universal. You must face the fact that you are creating a new establishment of 183 religion by so doing. I do not object, rather I welcome it. If Christ be preached, even though I think inadequately, I can only rejoice; but what I do and must object to is that this good thing, as I think it, should be accompanied by an immense burden on my own community, and indeed on others. That is the stark and governing fact of the situation. I know it is felt by some that if we have been met in some ways it is unworthy to enlarge upon the purely financial side of the question. This enlarging on the financial side of the question is not a matter of parsimony or acquisitiveness, but it is a matter of necessity. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, talked of the financial burden this would lay on the local authorities, though he has the whole rateable value of the County of London and this particular City of Westminster behind him. How very different indeed must it be with a single denomination which, on the average, is the poorest in the country. In asking for this to be recognized for my own communion, I would give exactly the same to everyone else.
It is true that the single-school areas create a separate problem, and I think, as my noble friend Lord Perth said yesterday, that that could be perhaps alleviated more than it has been so far, and although, as I think, the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, went rather excessively far, there is some substance in what he said. If you have schools for Anglican children approved by Anglican parents, schools for Methodist children approved by Methodist parents and other Free Church people, and, of course, schools for the Jewish community under the same conditions, I would give them exactly the same as I am asking for my own people. I think the grievance and the injustice in these cases is the same in kind though not in degree. I might mention that I think it is a most unhappy thing that the Methodist body, years ago, abandoned their schools, and I know that was the view of such people as the late Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
Will the noble Lord forgive me? We have over a hundred left. Our policy was only to abandon them when a county school was available to take their place.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
I hope that the hundred will get a proper and suffi- 184 cient grant and exact equality with what I want for the people of my own communion. I admit that there are great mitigations in the Bill of the burdens. If the burdens had been exactly the same as previously I think the task thrown upon us would have been impossible. I very much doubt whether it will be possible, even now, to do what is required, but at any rate we are going to try and see what we can do. I admit that the loans proposal has made a great difference and the revival of the 1936 Act is a help, but a very uncertain help. The provision as to schools destroyed by the enemy will also help, as will the provisions for playground extension and transport. But the main onus remains. And what is it? It is the enormously increased cost of school places in the last few years.
The Government have issued three different estimates as to what that increase may be over pre-war costs. In the White Paper it was put at 15 per cent.; in the Memorandum attached to the Bill as it entered the House of Commons it had risen to 20 per cent. That Memorandum is not attached to the Bill as it reached here. Under inquiry and pressure the latest estimate of the Government is 35 per cent.—20 per cent. more than their first estimate. We obtained the opinion of a great authority on municipal finance and he said that the complexity of the situation was so great that he really could not prophesy with assurance. The best estimate he could make was 50 per cent, increase. I notice that another authority on building, speaking at the general meeting of the Abbey Road Building Society, Sir Harold Bellman, put the increase at 60 per cent, and I am told that the experts of the London County Council put the increase for the London area—and that would apply also to the centres of large towns—at 65 to 75 per cent. The benefit of the concessions will be swept away if the increase comes to anything like even the mean of these figures.
The estimate is that we should pay on the Government loan for bringing the schools up-to-date a sum of £450,000 annually in interest and sinking fund for thirty-five years, but all these estimates are subject to aggravations and the competition of other works—Lord Portal's great schemes, for instance. Another thing is we do not know what the building regulations will be. Why have they been 185 concealed so far? Why have they not been issued? Why cannot we base our arguments upon the building regulations that the Government are about to issue, Again we have been told that if the Government estimates are too low the situation will be met by the fact that the wages of our contributors and supporters will rise. That, in effect, is an admission that we shall have to depend, in order to raise these great sums, on the pence of working men. A good deal has been heard about fees, but now the fees that used to be paid to the elementary schools are to be changed for the pence of the poor who have to support them. I will not dwell on the question of new schools. The burden may easily rise to £700,000 a year or more for the thirty-five years. When we are told that we have been given more under this Bill I am afraid I shall in reply have to quote the doctrine of relativity. It is quite true we are given certain concessions but they are only relative concessions and the burden that is put upon us is out of all proportion to the concessions that are given.
What must our people think about this? They see that in Scotland they have all they want—perfect fairness. Mention of Scotland reminds me that I was a little surprised by what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of (Wake-field yesterday. He spoke of an agreed syllabus in most of the public schools in Scotland just as perhaps there should be in England. There may be an agreed syllabus in Scotland but it is all governed by Presbyterian doctrine. There are no doubt different schools in the Presbyterian Church. There are supralapsarians, sub-lapsarians, Morrisonians and others. They may no doubt get agreement among themselves. But the fact remains that the Presbyterian religion dominates the majority of schools in Scotland just as the Catholic and the Anglican Episcopalian religions dominate the minority there. I agree that there are great possibilities in what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester, that a true solution lies in the application of what is done in Scotland. People look to other parts of the world. They look to Ulster. In Ulster all the ordinary expenses of primary education in denominational schools are met by the Government. It is true there is a voluntary rate for improvements but the teachers are all paid from Government 186 funds and new schools are built out of Government funds. I need not go further to Holland.
How in those circumstances can our people accept this as a settlement? True they will do what they can to work it, but they will do so with a keen sense of an abiding injustice. This is no ecclesiastical agitation. It is from below, and I have been struck very much by it. It is from ordinary people, the ordinary parents of children in elementary schools. It is they who feel most strongly about it, and among such people there is distinct dissatisfaction with the fact that our episcopal leaders did not take a more militant attitude. When you think of it, "the pity of it." The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, spoke of segregation. It is just because we do not want to be segregated from the mass of our countrymen that we feel that we shall be thrown back and put apart if we do not get some amendment in the present position. And this happens just at a time when we were all coming together more than ever before, thinking more of the things we agree about than the things we differ about. Our people have fought like the rest, they have suffered like the rest, they have prayed like the rest, but I fear that for many the hoped-for joy of victory will be dimmed.
The LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, those of us who have persistently contended now for not merely a quarter of a century but for half a century that the only true education must be based upon a definitely Christian point of view cannot but be thankful for the fact that at long last—and it is rather a long last—this fundamental principle is recognized in this Bill. I should like to join in the expressions of gratitude to the President whom I am delighted to see is going to be Minister of Education. It reminds me of a certain speech I ventured to make in your Lordships' House a year or more ago. He has stood up for this principle. But there is a second principle we have contended for and still contend for. That is that those who teach the Christian religion in our schools should be qualified to do so. I am not going to be inveigled into drawing swords with the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, because I have another job very soon and time is getting on, but I do want to remind him that whatever else the Church schools 187 have done for this country in the past churchmen have stood firm in that belief. In the meantime what has the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, been doing? He has been accepting quite calmly the position that in the national system of education religion may be taught by people who have no qualifications whatsoever. I do not mean to say that many of them have no qualifications, but no qualification is demanded of them. I will leave it at that.
Why did not the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, and those associated with him join with us in demanding that there should be qualifications of knowledge and of conviction, which as a matter of fact from the Christian point of view mean that the teacher of religion should be a practising member of some worshipping Christian community? So far as I know, we have had no help from any minister of the Free Churches or any of their people. It has taken a long time—seventy-four years now—for the country to awaken to the fact that people who teach religion should be qualified to do so. Even now, as a matter of fact, the only necessary qualification is that they should know the subject which they teach. Provision is being made now, as your Lordships know, in this Bill for the first time, that men and women training to be teachers shall have the opportunity of taking this subject of the Christian religion as one of the subjects which will qualify for a certificate. Up to date it has been an extra optional subject that did not count. That is the encouragement which up to now Governments have given to the religious education of the children of this land through teachers. To-day even it stops there.
Church schools have from the beginning been maintained at great sacrifice. We hear people talking of the large amount of money Church schools have received from the State. Does the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, realize that we have had to pay rates and taxes just as much as he has, and that in addition we have saved millions of pounds to the State by doing work which the State ought to have done? That ought to be taken into account and it has been taken into account in this Bill, and in the White Paper acknowledgment is made. It is about time people stood up for these wretched Church schools, whether Anglican or Roman Catholic. They have done 188 their best. Now we are told that children are not to be taught except in brand new, up-to-date buildings. Thank God I was not taught in one. It makes a great deal of difference to the future of your mind. The settlement of which the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, speaks is not a settlement. No one imagines there can be a settlement. Nothing is static in this world, not even the Bishop of St. Albans or Lord Rochester. We are both going somewhere. As time goes on this question will of course be fought out again, and in time amended. I hope it will not be another seventy-four years before this country wakes up to the fact that you cannot teach religion unless you believe it. Well, you try it. I have tried it for goodness knows how many years now, and I know perfectly well that you cannot get across to other people anything unless you are convinced of it yourself.
There is a third tiling we have stood for and stand for to-day, and please God are going to stand for to the last ditch. Christianity is a way of life, and that way of life, as the most reverend Primate reminded us two days ago, is a way of fellowship. It is a way of fellowship first with God and through God with man, remembering the two great Commandments which I expect are familiar to all members of your Lordships' House—first God and then man. We are convinced, and I believe everybody else is if he would only admit it, that you cannot learn to live the Christian way of life except by practising that way of life as a practising member of some living, worshipping, working, witnessing and fighting Christian fellowship. Therefore we contend that there must be a real living liaison between the instruction given in the class-room and the living, worshipping, working fellowship outside.
The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, imagines we want to have Church schools in order that we may inveigle those who do not belong to the Church of England into the fellowship of the Church of England. I would say to him, as I have said again and again in public—and personally I believe you would not find a single Bishop or a single parish priest who would disagree in this—that we would rather have a hard boiled Baptist than a half-baked Anglican. I hope he will remember that. We are absolutely convinced that this is the only 189 way of Christian education. We realize that it takes a long time to get that into the head of even Lord Rochester, and a longer time still to get it into the heads of ordinary people in this country, but we still stand for it. And I want to say another thing for the benefit of my noble friend Lord Rochester and it is this. For the last twenty-four years (and a half, nearly) since I have had the honour to be Bishop of St. Albans, I have again and again, publicly and privately, invited, on behalf of those responsible for Church schools in my diocese, any Free Church minister, or person authorized by him, to go into a village school—if it is a Church school—and teach their own children. I have made it clear that they would be given every possible facility to teach not only their doctrines, whatever they may be—I cannot teach them myself because I do not know what they are, and if I do know I do not like some of them—and to get into personal touch with their children. I have said to them: "That is what we want you to do." But none of them will do it. My goodness me, it is awful; I have not had a single response. I do not know why it should be so, but there it is. And then to say we are trying to keep the teaching to ourselves—but I will not pursue that point.
It would be entirely dishonest if I gave the impression that I thought that the arrangement envisaged in this Bill was a settlement. With regard to that matter I am entirely at one with the noble Lord who has just spoken so strongly. I do not think that there is anything to be said for the justice of the provision made by this Bill under which, as has already been said, we have to pay 50 per cent. for those schools that the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans have got to put up. I know that nobody can justify it on a basis of justice, but we are prepared to do it for the good of the country if that is all the country are prepared to give us. I have myself shown that I do want to co-operate. With the good will of my diocesan conference, clergy and laity, and all concerned who know anything about it, I have now issued an appeal for £250,000 to be raised in the next ten years. If you know Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire you will know that the area is one of the poorest little areas among the counties of England. I believe we can achieve what we are aiming at. I will not weary you as to the scheme but 190 I think the money can be got in ten years—if we are given twenty years for a loan, all the better. But we are determined to do our best.
If we fail, we fail. But that does not matter. What does matter is that this country should not lose the power of religious conviction. We did lose it in the interval between the last war and the beginning of this, and when the history of that period comes to be written it will be a poor chapter in the history of England as in the history of the Church, in the widest sense. There was a landslide, a land slide from the moral standards of Jesus Christ. We want men of conviction today, and we want groups of people in every parish in the country who feel that it is worth any sacrifice to see that the children of this land are brought up not only to know the Christian faith but to believe it, and to be practising members of a Christian fellowship to the glory of God and the welfare of their fellow men.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, we have been listening for nearly three days to a succession of speeches, and we are rapidly drawing to the time when we are only anxious for the noble Earl who is going to reply for the Government to get up and say what he has to say. Therefore, people who intervene between him and your Lordships are deeply suspect. I promise your Lordships, however, that I will try to cut down what I want to say as much as possible. Had there been more time I should have liked to urge the enormous importance of doing all we can to increase the status and prestige of the new Minister of Education so that—as has been so well said by previous speakers— we may get away from the practice of looking upon the Board of Education as a stepping-stone to promotion. It is of the greatest importance that the master hand which drew the blue print should be left to guide the building of the structure which it portrays.
I should like to say something about one aspect of the McNair Report which, as yet, has not been very much mentioned. Quite obviously the sort of teachers we are going to have is a matter of first importance in connexion with this Bill. The President of the Board of Education lost no time on his appointment in 1941 in appointing the McNair Committee. It was appointed in 1942, and it is not that Committee's fault that its Report 191 did not appear until last month and was not in the hands of Parliament, before this Bill was introduced. Had the Report been available it would have been a very great help. But even now the decks are not clear for action. The McNair Committee was split quite evenly upon a fundamental issue, and until a great many points have been decided by the Board of Education the university training departments and the training colleges will not be in a position to know what is going to be expected of them, or how they can prepare to play their parts.
I have been in close connexion with twenty-six Church training colleges on the administrative side for many years. I want to say two things about them as showing the great potential value of the contribution they have got to make. The Church Assembly has no money of its own except what is given to it by the dioceses, and dioceses do not give money to something of which they do not approve. Over the last twenty years, of all the money that has passed through the hands of the Treasurer of the Church Assembly nearly a quarter has gone on legislative and administrative expenses, nearly one half on the pension scheme for the clergy, and a full quarter to the Church training colleges. That is striking evidence of the value which the Church attaches to the training colleges. If any noble Lord had the time to read through the evidence which the group of speakers representing the Church training colleges put before the McNair Committee, they could not fail to be struck by the very close similarity between what was advocated in that evidence and what the McNair Committee recommend in their Report. That, I suggest, is proof of the quality of the contribution that the Church training colleges have to make.
I should like to express on their behalf our great gratitude to the McNair Committee for the admission in their Report, on page 13, that what is chiefly wrong with the majority of the training colleges is their poverty and all that flows from it. The Report recognizes that that poverty is no fault of their own. The colleges are financed in part by fees from the students and in part by a capitation fee in respect of every student from the Board of Education, but the amount of that capitation fee has been static for twenty-seven years, and during that time it can well be understood 192 that the expenses have risen enormously, while the income of the colleges from the Government has not. The noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, called attention to the drop in the number of teachers. One reason for that, no doubt, was that in the "financial blitz" the Treasury cut down the grant which was allowed to be given for training teachers. I can only hope that if another "financial blitz" comes after this war similar action will not be taken. The McNair Report, in paragraph 156, gives hope of a much more helpful and broad-minded attitude towards training colleges in the future. It is worth mentioning, I think, that if we take account of the fact that the total expenditure for education services in this country is going to exceed £200,000,000, we shall realize that to be cheeseparing on the very small amount which goes to the production of teachers would be very false economy.
Had there been time I would have said something about the anxieties which anyone who is a member of a county council must feel at the tremendous amount of work which is going to be placed on those bodies. Your Lordships' House is very rich in experience of local government. The building problems, the regrouping problems and the teaching problems which are going to be thrown upon educational bodies are vast, and, with the best will in the world, I do not see how we can be ready as soon as a great many speakers in another place hoped that we should be to give effect to this great scheme.
I should like to say a word about the difference in the atmosphere in another place and in your Lordships' House so far as the whole religious controversy and its effect upon education generally in this country are concerned. We must be conscious that it was the fault of the Churches themselves that Governments for the last forty years have taken so little interest in religious education in our schools. It was because of the insistence of the Churches on the points to which they attached different values, instead of witnessing to the essential unity of their common allegiance, that Governments were led to adopt a neutral attitude on this matter. It was forgotten that in the matter of Christianity there is no such thing as neutrality. For forty years successive Presidents of the Board have given the impression that this was not a "safe" subject. That impression has spread to directors of education and local authorities, and from them it 193 has permeated downwards to wherever men and women have looked upon the propitiation of their superiors as a step-ping-stone to promotion. In truth it has been a case where those who are not for us are against us.
This blow was not struck against one Church, but against all Churches. Now, however, we have a Prime Minister who has a courage and convictions above politics, and a great historical sense. He spoke in glowing words at the Guildhall rather more than a year ago of his conviction that the glorious past of our race and our hope of a continuing future in which we might still have pride, lay in our continuing search for the will of God. Why should a democracy shrink from assimilating that conviction into its system of education? "Thou shalt love thy God and thou shalt love thy neighbour"— what greater help could any Government have than for that to be the general rule of its people, and where else are the Four Freedoms so firmly embedded?
I imagine that one difficulty which the President of the Board has had to meet is that many of his colleagues have not yet appreciated how far the centre of gravity in the Churches has moved away from the controversies of the paat, especially amongst their younger members. This began long before the war; it is no war movement, although it has been very much helped and accelerated by the war. Up and down the country there is a vast and increasing amount of co-operation going on between the Churches, and between the Churches and the teachers. I venture to suggest that the recent creation of the Council of British Churches was an extraordinarily significant development, even if its importance has escaped the notice of Whitehall. I wish chat the Government would show that they share the conviction and enthusiasm of the Prime Minister and of the President of the Board, and would avoid the use of the word "generous" in describing the treatment of denominational schools. I do not like that word. We are not asking for generosity; we are asking for justice— justice to the Roman Catholics, to the Free Churches, to the Jews and to the Church of England. Many small nations are going to look to us for justice in the coming months, and it would give great encouragement to them and to everybody else if we could have the courage to practise at home what we preach.
§ THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND
My Lords, it is my intention merely to speak very briefly upon one aspect of this great measure which has not yet been fully considered. The British Film Institute, of which I am President, has sought for many years to make known the importance of films and visual aids for educational purposes; and it is on this point only in this vast and complex measure on which I desire to trouble your Lordships. Films and radio are, as your Lordships know, the normal background of every child's life; he is accustomed to listening and to looking, and the educational method of teaching should take cognizance of this. In my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of many others both in this House and in another place, all schools and colleges, where possible, should be provided with a special room for cinema instruction, with an instrument and an instructor.
Arrangements should be made to produce more films for educational purposes. For instance, natural history and the growth of the flower or animal can be taught better by means of a coloured film than in any other way, and the screen has proved in this war to be of immense value for training the Home Guard and the Regular Army, as well as for many other purposes. For that reason I feel that the Board of Education could well take cognizance of this fact and make it their ultimate aim that every school, from the nursery to the university, should be equipped with visual apparatus; in other words, visual aid should be a most important feature of primary and secondary education. It has often been said, and truly, that the screen unites pleasure, interest and useful instruction, both for elders and for children, and I therefore hope that His Majesty's Government will not forget this important point before this great measure becomes law.
§ THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBORNE)
My Lords, your Lordships have honoured this great Bill with a worthy debate, very fittingly introduced by my noble friend the Minister of Reconstruction, because this is not only the first fruits of the Government's reconstruction programme, but I think probably the greatest measure in it. Therefore I also would like to pay my tribute to my colleague the President of the Board of Education for the great 195 patience, ability and skill with which he has steered this measure for so many months. I think the speeches we have heard this afternoon have shown us that he has not got quite safely to port yet, but I hope that under his captaincy we shall ultimately get into completely smooth waters. My problem in replying in this debate is to answer within the short time that remains to me the very numerous points that have been raised during the debate by noble Lords with great experience and interest in these matters, who are very well qualified to express opinion and to advise the Government. It really is quite impossible for any speaker to attempt to cover all the ground that has been so ably traversed. Therefore I must confine myself to endeavouring to select one or two outstanding points, and if I fail to answer any particular point of any noble Lord then I hope he will approach me or my right honourable friend, or else raise the matter at a subsequent stage.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and the most reverend Primate both drew attention to the urgent need of smaller classes, and the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, added to that his plea for the smaller school, with which I have the greatest sympathy; while Lord Latham asked questions about the priorities of the Government's programme. The programme of my right honourable friend is to have smaller classes, to raise the school age to fifteen and ultimately to sixteen, to have young people's colleges and to promote further education. But the programme of the Bill is in a bottleneck at the present moment, a bottleneck which must continue for some time to come. The whole development of the Government's plan is dependent on two things: the supply of teachers, and adequately trained teachers—what the noble Earl, Lord Grey, said in that respect was, I felt, very true—and the supply of buildings. The people who are demanding that the school-leaving age should immediately be raised to sixteen remind me of the people who in 1942 used to chalk up on walls, "We want a Second Front." These things cannot be achieved in a moment. The Government's order of priority in its plan is roughly this: to raise the age to fifteen, and to bring about smaller classes pari passu with post-primary reorganization. That is what we regard as the imme- 196 diate task ahead—and it is sufficiently formidable—but before it is finished the young people's colleges must be started. After that comes the question of raising the age to sixteen. But in all these phases there must be a certain degree of overlapping.
Then there are the administrative problems that were mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, and other noble Lords, the problem of recruiting some 70,000 or more teachers. The noble Lord, Lord Gorell, spoke on that subject too. I am bound to say the purport of his speech really had nothing to do with the Bill, because what he was asking for was administrative action and not legislative action, and I cannot go into that matter with him this afternoon. My right honourable friend is well aware of the formidable nature of the task awaiting him in this respect. No progress can be made until we have got the right stamp of teacher, and got him properly trained. As has already been mentioned, the President of the Board of Education has sent a circular to local education authorities urging them to facilitate increased provision of secondary school education for promising boys who are coming forward now from the elementary schools; but that is all that can be done at the moment. We must look to the men and women who are now serving in His Majesty's Forces as the great recruiting ground for the school teachers, and what Lord Gorell said in regard to the Army Educational Service I have no doubt is very true—namely, that they cannot be demobilized prematurely.
The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, drew attention to a very important point, to which I am sure my right honourable friend will give most careful consideration. Whether what he desires, and what I think all of us desire, can be furthered by any alteration in the Bill is a matter upon which I should not like to pronounce this afternoon. He told us that he is going to propose an Amendment, and that can be considered at the proper time. I am very much obliged to him for having drawn attention to what we would all agree is a most important point.
Then there is the problem of the local authorities which are situated in not very rich neighbourhoods—the poorer local authorities. The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, is quite mistaken in his supposition 197 that the Government's 55 per cent, grant is a flat rate. It is not a flat rate at all. It is a variable rate, so framed that the local authorities in the least well-to-do areas can get proportionately larger grants. In addition there is the special grant for the poorest local authorities which will amount to something very near to £2,000,000. Therefore I do not think my right honourable friend can be accused of not having taken that problem into account. Lord Latham, Lord Buck-master, and Lord Monkswell rather doubted whether any local authority could stand the great expense which this Bill would bring to it. I think we have got to make up our minds to the fact that we cannot get education on the cheap. But if the education is good it will be cheap. The country at all times is master of the amount it desires to pay for social reform and its own improvement.
The noble Lord, Lord Soulbury, asked me certain intricate questions of which he was kind enough to give me notice. He called attention to the devolutionary provisions of the Bill, and asked whether an excepted district can prepare its own development plan. My noble friend seems to be under a slight misapprehension in this matter. The authority which must be responsible for the development plan is the local education authority—the county council—but there is nothing to prevent a county council from delegating responsibility for the preparation of that part of the plan which relates to an excepted district to the executive of that district. Therefore, while final responsibility for the development plan must rest with the local education authority, there is nothing to prevent the responsibility for the preparation of a particular part of the plan being delegated to an excepted district. He also asked whether divisional executives could dismiss teachers. The answer is that circumstances vary. Some of these divisional executives will be very experienced authorities who have been engaging and dismissing teachers for forty years, whereas other executives may not have the same experience. Therefore it would be absurd to say that no divisional executive should exercise these functions. Each case will have to be dealt with separately on its merits by the scheme. The same applies to the question whether divisional executives can lay down conditions of service for their employees. Finally, my noble friend asked whether the local 198 education authority could inspect the maintained schools in excepted districts. The answer for that question is "Yes." The local education authority is responsible, and must have the right lo inspect so as to see that the education is efficient.
The most reverend Primate and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke strongly on the need for developing adult education. The noble Viscount suggested that a special body charged with the duty of promoting adult education should be set up. Adult education is part of my right honourable friend's programme, and it is embodied in Clauses 39 and 40 of this Bill. Under this Bill, local education authorities are bound to include in their schemes for further education provision for adult education. The progress of adult education in this country must however depend on demand. Grown-up Englishmen cannot be dragooned into being educated against their will. It must be a matter of development of public opinion, and the universities, the local education authorities, the Workers' Educational Association, and similar agencies can ail play their part. I am bound to say that I do not quite agree with my noble friend when he seemed to be disparaging vocational education as compared with cultural education. It may be that vocational education will be the path by which adults are led to cultural education; they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. These are surely early days in which to say how this great movement will develop. It will develop, I hope, in an English way, as a plant of natural growth. I do not think we can hustle it. We certainly ought not to hinder it. We ought to do everything we can to promote its natural and sturdy growth.
The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chief Justice, raised a question about Clause 51. I need hardly say that what he said about that clause is perfectly true, but it is, I suggest, a point which can be dealt with on the Committee stage. That brings me to that part of the Bill which. I think is clearly recognized by your Lordships as the most important part, and that is the part that deals with religious education. It has been recognized here, as it was in another place—and if I may say so I was greatly encouraged by what fell from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in his eloquent speech—that unless our 199 education is based on the Christian religion, and unless this nation is brought up as a God-fearing, practising Christian nation, there is no hope for our future, and all our vaunted progress in other directions will crumble into dust. But I do feel it is equally true that religious education cannot come only from the school. Listening to the noble Lord, Lord Quicks-wood, I could not help reflecting that the principles which he laid down, and to which I heartily subscribe, have been in vogue for generations in the great historic schools of Winchester, Eton, Harrow, and the like, but whether these public schools turn out Christians or not has, in my humble judgment, depended more on the homes from which the boys came than on the school. I do not believe you will easily "sell" religion to a child if its father and mother do not set it the example themselves. The foundation of religion must be the home and family churchgoing, and when we are considering an Education Bill the important point is that the school should not be out of harmony with a Christian family life.
Does the Bill fulfil that criterion? Of the great sections into which Christianity is divided in this country, I take my friends of the Free Churches first, and I confess I was sorry to hear the speech—the eloquent speech—of my noble friend Lord Rochester this afternoon. I think the President of the Board of Education has made a great attempt to meet the Free Church grievance in regard to the single-school areas. This Bill assures syllabus teaching in every single-school area, in every parish whether there is an aided or a controlled school. I do not think my noble friend should regard it as a hardship that where there are only a few children who want syllabus teaching they should be conspicuous in demanding it. I do not think that Christians ought to object to being conspicuous; in fact it is one of the things that is enjoined upon us, and known as "bearing witness." With all respect I would say to my noble friend that you will not solve this problem, or any other problem, by ignoring the grievances of the other party and reiterating one's own. We have got to understand the difficulties that each of us feels. I am fortified in my hope that my noble friend does not represent in this matter, however much he may represent it in others, the bulk of Free Church 200 opinion. The very interesting and encouraging speech we heard from Lord Clwyd yesterday approached the problem from a very different angle.
In regard to the Roman Catholics I was very glad that Lord FitzAlan and Lord Rankeillour, while still maintaining their criticisms of the Bill, have, I think, modified their attitude a little from what it was last year in view of the efforts my right honourable friend has made to meet the Roman Catholic community. I think it is fair to say that 95 per cent, of the cost of Roman Catholic education will be paid for by the State and I make no secret of the fact that I would be glad to see 100 per cent. paid.
§ Lord RANKEILLOUR
May I interrupt my noble friend? Surely he is now referring only to the cost of future maintenance, not to the cost of replacement and rebuilding.
§ The Earl of SELBORNE
No, I am referring to what the cost of Roman Catholic education will be when all these factors have been taken into account. I would gladly see 100 per cent, defrayed by the State but we all know that if that was proposed we should not get even that degree of national unity which my right honourable friend has been able to achieve. We have seen this afternoon, from one or two speeches, that my right honourable friend has not succeeded in getting complete unanimity, but he has got the consent, the approval and the support of the large majority of Free Churchmen and Anglicans. I do not think that if the claim of my noble friends were acceded to he would be able to maintain that support; in fact we all know that he could not.
My noble friend Lord Perth asked me some specific questions connected with an ingenious point on which I should like to congratulate him. As an old diplomat he pulled out of his pigeon-holes the Polish Treaty, the Czechoslovakian Treaty and the Albanian Treaty, all of which he had probably negotiated or drafted in early youth. He pointed out that these treaties insist on equitable treatment of religious minorities, and that Great Britain was a party to these treaties. He asked me two questions—namely, do His Majesty's Government still stand by those treaties and if so do they think that this Bill is compatible with the spirit of those treaties? I have no hesitation in answering both those questions in the affirmative. 201 Of course we stand by the treaties which we have signed, and I do not think it is fair to say that this Bill is contrary to any provision in those treaties. There are two articles to which the noble Earl drew attention. He did not draw quite so much attention to one as he did to the other. Article 8, I think it is, lays it down that every minority denomination must have an equal opportunity, an equal right, to defray out of its own pocket educational and religious service; for its own people. That is not interfered with by this Bill. The other article lays it down that every denomination must have an equitable share of the common pool of money that is spent on educational purposes.
The Earl of PERTH
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl but if he had followed this matter more closely than he appears to have done, he would know that Article 8 has nothing whatever to do with moneys provided from public funds. That is solely found in Article 9. Then the noble Earl lay stress on the word "equitable." May I inform him that it has always been accepted by experts that equitable in this connexion meant that equal money was to be given to minorities as to majorities?
§ The Earl of SELBORNE
I am neither a diplomat nor a lawyer but I have been assured by someone who has both diplomatic and legal authority which my noble friend would admit, that equitable and equal are not the same tiling. I am asking him whether he really thinks that the provisions of this Bill to Roman Catholics are inequitable in the sense meant by those treaties? I would like to put this point to him. The Roman Catholics will be getting millions of pounds out of this Bill. Does my noble friend really think these sums will be less than Roman Catholics contribute to the rates and taxes? If he really thinks that and can prove it, I think he might make out a case that they are getting inequitable treatment, but if he cannot I do not see how under the terms of the treaties he has cited it can be held that his minority is being oppressed.
Then we come to the Church of England. The Church of England is in a different position to other denominations because that Church is responsible, not merely for her own congregations, but also for the great population not attached to 202 any denomination in a way that no non-established Church can be. What is there in this Bill to justify the support of Anglicans? It is this, my Lords, that the Bill lays down for the first time that there must be religious teaching in all schools and daily worship. Furthermore it provides that His Majesty's inspectors are to see that all syllabus teaching is efficient. I would remind your Lordships that the President of the Board of Education has decided to make religion one of the qualifying subjects for teachers in taking their teacher's certificates. My right honourable friend has also urged local education authorities to provide for teachers increased refresher courses in religious knowledge. The Bill repeals the limitation that religious instruction must be confined to the beginning or end of a. school session, and finally it rescues the endowments of Church schools which were alienated by the Act of 1921 and returns them to their proper use of denominational or general education.
This Bill creates a great education structure and Clause 8 lays on the local education authorities the duty of taking into account the wishes of parents in framing their development plans. I think that is one of the most important provisions of the Bill to which not quite sufficient attention has been directed during this debate. It means that the local education authority is bound to try to facilitate denominational teaching for those who want it. Those are great advances, and I would ask the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester and noble Lords who have qualms about the Bill to consider how it affects the Anglican child. Under the new system the child from five to eleven can either be educated in a county school or a controlled school or an aided school. If he is educated in a county school of course he will be taught the agreed syllabus. There is no change in practice there. The grievance which the Anglicans have always had in that matter remains and is not touched. But I would like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, said in that connexion. A very great work has been done by those who drew up the syllabuses. They have eased the problem to an appreciable extent. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester asked whether we are going to be sure that there will be teachers to teach the syllabus. The answer must be that 203 there never has been any difficulty in getting teachers to volunteer for this teaching. Whatever one may say against that system I think it is important, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield said yesterday, to safeguard against the possibility of people giving religious instruction merely because it would pay them professionally to do so. We know that the men and women who now give religious instruction do it because they want to.
The Lord Bishop of CHICHESTER
The point to which I stated my objection was making religious instruction compulsory by Statute. I am content to let the position continue on the present basis with encouragement. I do not want to trespass on the conscience of teachers.
§ The Earl of SELBORNE
There really is no practical change in the administration of the law in that respect. If the child goes to a controlled school, he will get denominational instruction twice a week. Here the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester is under one or two misapprehensions. He said no reserved teacher could ever become a head teacher. That is an entire mistake. There is nothing to prevent a reserved teacher becoming a head teacher. Of course if he becomes a head teacher he ceases to be a reserved teacher, but there is no professional bar to the career of reserved teachers. The right reverend Prelate seemed to contemplate that there would be an insuperable problem about giving denominational teaching to children in some controlled schools. He said that 6,000 schools were so small that there would be no reserved teacher in them because there would be only two teachers. But either of those two teachers could volunteer to give denominational instruction and if neither wished to do so then the parson or any qualified layman could give it. Really I think the clergy and the laity must be prepared to take their share in doing this work. The third case is that of the child from five to eleven who goes to an aided school, which will be denominational as in the past, but with this difference that the Nonconformist child mil have the right to have syllabus teaching if his parents so desire. That is a right which I as an Anglican welcome. I sympathize with the Free Churches in this matter. I think we ought, and I know the 204 most reverend Primate has said the same thing on many occasions, to do everything we can to remove the single-school-area grievance. But that cannot be done by denying Anglicans their religious education. We want to give Free Churchmen the opportunity to get the religious education they require for their children.
When we come to children of the age of eleven to sixteen this Bill makes very important changes and very important improvements in regard to denominational education. In addition to the aided and controlled school of which I have already spoken, there is the special agreement school which is purely denominational—denominational in the sense to which we have been accustomed. But the great majority of children I think will go to the county secondary school and in that case we must look to Clauses 24 and 25. The most reverend Primate is perfectly right in what he said about those clauses. If the parents of children attending county secondary schools demand that their children shall receive denominational education then denominational education shall be given either outside the school premises or inside, if the children cannot conveniently be withdrawn, as long as it is not at the expense of the State. It must not be at the expense of the State, but the denomination is given the opportunity of giving that education in school hours either outside the school premises or inside on the basis I have explained. That I think is a most valuable provision, especially taken in conjunction with Clause 8. I think one is justified in saying that under that system the Anglicans will get much more Church education than they have received up to the present.
Then we come to the young people's colleges dealing with students from the age of fifteen to eighteen. The most reverend Primate asked me whether religious instruction could be given in these colleges if the young people asked for it. Well, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent it being given as part of the ordinary instruction, but I am bound, in candour, to say that in my right honourable friend's opinion it would be inadvisable. In the first place, the time available is exceedingly limited, and in the second, my right honourable friend thinks that there would be a danger of arousing some antagonism among these young men and women if they felt that this instruction 205 was being forced upon them in any way, even though it were given in response to a request. But that is a matter of administration. The most reverend Primate also asked me whether we could not insert in the Bill somewhere a statement to make it clear that the instruction and worship that are spoken of in the Bill shall be Christian instruction and worship. My Lords, I am advised that technical difficulties stand in the way of the exact amendment that he desires, but the Seventh Schedule makes it absolutely certain that the instruction and worship must be Christian, because a committee is therein set up on which the denominations are all represented, and that committee has to report unanimously. I think we shall all agree that there is not the slightest danger of any syllabus being passed by that committee that is not Christian.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakelield, in a most interesting maiden speech which I am sure will make your Lordships desire to hear him on many other occasions, said that he thought the schedule was obscure. That is a point which can be raised on the Committee stage, bat I think the effect of the schedule is really quite clear, and, in this connexion I would like to assure the most reverend Primate that the fear to which he alluded, that there might be ethical worship, is groundless. It is not allowed by the Bill. Ethical worship would not be religious worship as required by the Bill. I can give a most unqualified assurance on that score.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chiehester made two criticisms of the Bill. First, he said that it docs not provide a uniform system. I quite agree with him; but I rejoice in that fact. I think we require diversity in a national 206 system of education. Then he and other noble Lords said that the Bill does not provide a final settlement. I entirely agree; there can be no finality in educational progress. But let us progress in concord and not in bitterness. The scheme put forward by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chiehester, however much it might be acceptable to people like myself and other Anglicans, would not be acceptable to other parties, and therefore it would not produce concord. Therefore my right honourable friend's scheme embodied in this Bill holds the field as what most people have regarded as a fair compromise. There are some things about which you cannot compromise, but compromise is justified if what is gained by agreement is greater than what is lost by concession. If we have gained harmony among Christians then, my Lords, we have gained a pearl of countless price.
I hope that the passage of this great Bill will not be the end of our religious discussions and our religious conferences. I hope that Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Free Churchmen will continue in concert and in concord to see how we can improve the religious education of the children of this country, to see how we can meet each other, help each other, and work together. My right honourable friend has done a great work in setting us on the paths of educational progress and denominational understanding. In sending this Bill forward we must continue in the direction that he has pointed out to us.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned.