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These problems were, inevitably, exacerbated by the Tories propensity for cutting the education budget.

Churchill appointed sixty-year-old Florence Horsbrugh ( pictured ) Minister of Education in November 1951, but denied her a seat in the Cabinet - an ominous move, implying, as it did, a serious demotion of education (Simon 1991:162). Maurice Kogan has described her as a dreary and disliked minister who was brought only late into the Cabinet, who never fought for and never received an adequate educational budget (Kogan 1978:34). She was, however, under consistent, ruthless and unremitting pressure (Simon 1991:163) from RAB Butler, now Chancellor of the Exchequer, to cut education spending to a minimum. One of Butlers first acts as Chancellor was to declare a three-month moratorium on school building - because the steel was needed for armaments. In December 1951 Horsbrugh issued Circular 242, which called for a five per cent reduction in local authority estimates for 1952. The aim, she said, was to maintain the essential fabric but to cut out the frills (quoted in Simon 1991:164). Further cuts were made to the building programme in Circular 245 in February 1952. From then on, Horsbrugh faced a three-year battle to maintain spending on education. In a letter to her, dated 7 October 1953, Butler wrote: I need not conceal from you that I am most disturbed about the paucity of the economies we have been able to make in the last two years. We cant get healthy tax remissions, nor a healthy economy without these. There is no time to lose - we must think in terms of major changes in policy as well as constant pruning (quoted in Simon 1991:165). Drastic measures were considered, including the possibility of lowering the school leaving age to fourteen (it had only been raised to fifteen in 1947), raising the school starting age to six, introducing fees in maintained schools, and reducing the Exchequer grant to local authorities. Meanwhile, the government tried to claw back money from teachers and local authorities through the Teachers Superannuation Bill. Horsbrugh now resisted all attempts to impose further drastic cuts. The governments proposals were widely criticised. In a leader in the Manchester Guardian (12 December 1951), RH Tawney declared that lowering the leaving age would be a breach of faith - it was economising at the expense of the children (quoted in Simon 1991:167). There were protests from the Association of Education Committees; from WO Lester Smith, formerly Manchesters distinguished Director of Education and now Professor at the London University Institute of Education; from the former Labour Minister of Education George Tomlinson; and from the Trades Union Congress. Local trades councils held public meetings and conferences. The Economist (21 March 1953) commented that No part of the governments economy drive has incurred so much criticism as the cuts in educational expenditure (quoted in Simon 1991:166).