§ Considered in Committee.
§ [The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, in the Chair.]
THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (SIR JOHN GORST, Cambridge University)
rose to move: —That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by Parliament of an addition to the grant payable to School Boards under Section 97 of the Elementary Education Act 1870, by increasing the sum 540 of 7s. 6d. therein mentioned by 4d. for every complete penny by which the rate therein mentioned exceeds 3d., provided that the said sum as so increased shall not exceed 16s. 6d.He said: This Resolution is for the purpose of enabling the Government to bring in a Bill to amend the 97th Section of the Elementary Education Act, 1870. Now, the principle of that Act was to divide the cost of education between the Consolidated Fund and the sums raised by the localities. It is, of course, well known that there are persons who contend that the whole cost of education ought to be borne by the State, and that the localities ought to bear no part in it. That is not the policy of the Act of 1870. Right or wrong, the principle of that Act is that there should be a certain contribution from local sources, in order to meet the sums which are from time to time dispensed out of the central Treasury. But it was foreseen at the time the Act of 1870 was passed that there would be certain districts upon which the local burden of education would press unduly, and it was with the view of meeting that difficulty that the well known proviso of the section so much discussed last year was devised. It was supposed at that time that the average cost of educating a child at the elementary schools was 28s. or 29s. annually, and it was estimated that of that amount it was fair to call on the local authorities to contribute as much as 7s. 6d., and it was thought that a contribution of 7s. 6d. from the local authority, aided to the amount paid from the central Treasury, would suffice for the maintenance of the school. It was also thought at that time that a rate of 3d. in the pound would be a fair burden to ask the localities to bear, and it was known that in nearly all cases a rate of 3d. in the pound produces far more than the 7s. 6d. which it was thought the localities would have to contribute. The proviso of the 97th Section was virtually on the part of the State to guarantee that a rate of 3d. in the pound should be the share of the local authorities. That was the idea when the 97th Section of the Act of 1870 was passed, but the result of experience has proved that the authors of that Act were altogether mistaken in their calculations. One of their calculations only is correct—namely, that the general average produce throughout the country of a rate of 541 3d. in the pound is a good deal more than 7s. 6d. The sum is about 14s.; so that now, as then, the number of schools in which a rate of 3d. in the pound fails to produce the amount of 7s. 6d. per child are exceptional cases, and can be dealt with comparatively easily. The calculation of the authors of the Act of 1870 as to the cost which would be thrown on the localities by having to fulfil the duties of assisting to educate the children was an entire miscalculation. The cost of maintenance alone in carrying on the schools after they are built, of elections of officers, offices, and all establishment charges providing for the cost of merely running the schools rose from 28s. on the average to as much as 50s. for every child, or very nearly double. No doubt one of the principal causes of this increase is the increase in teachers' salaries. It is an increase that some people lament, and say that it is extravagant. But the salaries of teachers, like all other salaries, are regulated by the laws of supply and demand; and the great extension of education in this country, and the great demand for teachers, have necessarily raised the salaries which teachers demand, and have a right to be paid. It is no use lamenting over the cost of teachers. We may have our own opinions as to whether they are worth the salaries. People may think that they are not worth the money they have to pay; but there is the fact, if you want the teacher, you must pay the salary which the market requires you to pay; and it is no use complaining of the amount which the economic conditions of the country enable the teacher to ask for his services. The salaries must be paid, or you cannot command their services. Besides this, the authors of the Act of 1870 do not seem to have taken into consideration other than the maintenance expenses; but in a great many places the School Boards have had to build schools, and in order to do that, they had to borrow money, and the money so borrowed has to be repaid by instalments out of the rates. On the average all over England and Wales there is a sum of no less than 3d. a child paid by the School Boards for the cost of the schools in which they are educated. Besides this, there are numerous other expenses. There is the expense of administration, the elections, the clerks, 542 the offices, the legal expenses, and so forth. There is the cost of the evening schools, and lastly there is the cost lately placed on the School Boards by Parliament—the cost of the blind and deaf children. The result of this is tending to increase the expenditure of School Boards. Although the Imperial contribution has risen from an average of 20s. to 30s. a child, the average expenditure which has to be provided for out of local sources amounts to no less than 42s. on the average, and the rate which is levied on the average to pay this local contribution amounts to 9d. in the pound. If the Committee will allow me, I will give them a typical instance in the average school district. A rate of 3d. in the pound will produce 14s. a child, but the rate on the district is 9d. in the pound, and of that 9d., 3d. in the pound goes to repay the expenses of building, 4d. to maintain the children, and 2d. for administration, elections, and so forth. But the Committee would be much mistaken if they were to think that this average typical school district represents anything like the condition of all school districts in the country. Nothing is more remarkable than the extraordinary variety as to circumstances between one School Board district and another. In the first place, the rates which have to be levied vary from nothing at all—some School Board districts pay no rates—up to, I believe, a record sum in rural parishes of 2s. 5d. in the pound. The reason for that extraordinary variation of rate is that the locality of the School Board has very different calls upon it in one place and in another. There are some school districts in which, the School Boards practically build every school in which children are taught. There are others in which a considerable number of Voluntary Schools have assisted in the education of the children, in which Voluntary Schools have been made over to the School Board, thereby saving a considerable amount of expenditure. There are some districts in which the School Boards have no schools at all, and thus they have no expense at all. Then a consideration arose as to the size of the school. Large schools can be run on the average per child much cheaper than small schools. Where a School Board has to maintain a very small school the rate of maintenance has 543 gone up in an extraordinary manner. The salaries of teachers vary very much from place to place. In a large town like London the salaries are very high. I do not intend to give the Committee a lecture on economies, and I do not say why the salaries vary much in different places; but, as a matter of fact, they do, and some School Boards have to pay for their teachers at a very great deal higher rate per child than others. Then there is a great deal of difference in the administration. In some places there are constant elections which have to be paid out of the rates; in others an election is unknown; in some they have to provide offices, extravagant clerks at an extravagant rate for the small number of children they have to educate. I should like to give the Committee an example or two to show the extraordinary variety which exists in the circumstances of these School Boards. Take the maintenance of scholars, and the rate which is paid for maintenance. In West Ham the rate for maintenance is 30s. per scholar, and that requires a rate of 1s. 1d. in the pound. In Hull the rate of maintenance per scholar is only 7s. 4d.—less than a quarter—and the rate levied is only 3½d. in the pound. In Leeds the cost of maintenance is 16s. 10d. per scholar, and the rate levied is little more than 6d. In the Forest of Dean the maintenance is 11s. 4d. per scholar, and the rate necessary is 8d. in the pound for maintenance. To contrast with these cases I think the case of Sutton-in-Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, may be given. The rate of maintenance per scholar is only 1s. 9d., and the amount of rate necessary to provide for this is only 1½d. in the pound. I call the attention of the Committee to this case. The rate of maintenance for children in the schools is only 1½d. in the pound, but the whole rate levied is 1s. 3d. in the pound in that parish. There are three Board Schools and one National School. The rate of 3d. in the pound is very low—3s. 6d. per Board scholar; but the School Board rate is 1s. 3d. in the pound, of which 8½d. is for building, and 1½d. for maintenance. There is an adjacent parish—Kirkby-in-Ashfield. It has four Board Schools and no Voluntary Schools. A 3d. rate in the pound produces 4s. 2d. per School Board scholar. The School Board rate is 16d. in the pound. Of this 544 9d. is for building, and a little over 1½d. for maintenance. Just contrast with these cases that of Bethgellert in Carnarvonshire. There there are four Board Schools, one transferred from Voluntary management. A rate of 3d. in the pound gives 6s. 5d. per scholar. The School Board rate required is 19d. in the pound, of which 5½d. is for building, and 12d. for maintenance, equivalent to a maintenance charge of £1 5s. 11d. per scholar. The high rate for maintenance is no doubt due to the fact that the school is very small. These examples will show the Committee how extremely diverse are the circumstances of one School Board from another. That being so, it must be quite plain that a mere alteration of figures in the 97th Section of the Act of 1870 would be no remedy for the existing evil. If those figures were altered, it would have the effect of giving a considerable amount to many school districts where the rates are very low, and where presumably they do not want any very great increase in the subsidy from the Imperial Government, while it would leave the school districts where the rates are very high with a, very insufficient subsidy to meet their wants. Therefore the Government concluded that they must measure the necessities of a School Board district by the amount of rate which it is necessary to levy, and that they must give a higher amount of assistance to places where the rates are high, and less assistance to those where the rates are low; because if a district gets off with a, rate of 3d. or 6d., or even 7d. or 8d., it is very much better off than the average School Board district, the average rate being no less than 9d. Now. I come to explain what the Bill is for which the resolution is asked. It proposes that in all cases where the rate is 3d., and does not rise as high as 4d., to leave the schools exactly as they are under the present law—they will receive the same assistance, neither more nor less. In any case in which the rate has risen to 4d., the Government propose to read the 97th Section of the Act of 1870 as if the sum of 7s. 10d. were substituted in that section for 7s. 6d. Thus they will bring more schools within the purview of the Act, because every school in which the 3d. rate does not amount to as much as 7s. 10d. will come within the purview of 545 that clause. The relief given will be the difference between the product of a 3d. rate and 7s. 10d., and not the difference between the product of a 3d. rate and 7s. 6d. That will deal with all schools where the rate is up to 5d.; but when you come to a rate of 5d. in the pound, the Government propose to read the section of the Act of 1870 as if for 7s. 6d. were substituted 8s. 2d. [Laughter.] That will bring more schools within the purview of the Act, and will give them a very much larger measure of relief than those under the Act already gain, and so the sliding scale will go up 4d. for every penny in the rate. The higher the rate the higher the figure, rising by 4d. for every penny, until we get to half-a-crown, which is the highest we provide for. If any district has a 2s. 6d. rate, the Act will be read as if 16s. 6d. were substituted for 7s. 6d., which will bring in a very large number of schools having a very high rate, and will give them a very large amount of relief. I have said, more than once, that the average rate is 9d. in the pound. There are in England and Wales 769 School Board districts in which the rate is above that average. There are 69 boroughs and 700 parishes in which that is the case. Of these districts, no fewer than 555 will get relief under the sliding scale of the Bill. Of all the School Board districts in England and Wales, there are 369 which have rates of more than 1s. These comprise 21 boroughs and 348 parishes, and of them 324 will receive relief under this Bill. [Mr. WHIT-TAKER: "How many of the 21 boroughs will receive relief?"] Twenty; there is only one borough that does not get relief. [AN HON. MEMBER: "How much will the boroughs receive?"] That depends entirely upon the product of the rate at 3d. in the pound. If that product is very high, and if it is a rich district, it will not receive very large relief. I do not know that the Committee will be able to discuss the operation of this automatic sliding scale until they have seen it in the Bill. [Mr. ACLAND: "What is the total estimated sum?"] The total sum which it is estimated will be distributed by means of this sliding scale is £153,895. [Opposition laughter and cries of "Oh!"] The annual grants under Section 97 are estimated to 546 amount to £43,283, and, therefore, the extra amount distributed by the Bill will be £110,602. [Laughter.] The object of the Bill will be to relieve those School Board districts which are unable, out of the rates, to provide as easily for the education of the children as more favoured districts. I think when the Committee come to examine the effect of the Bill in different places, they will be satisfied that the Government have fulfilled their promises, and have made sufficient, and, I think, very ample provision—[Opposition laughter and Ministerial cheers]—for those districts which find any difficulty in performing their duty under the Act of 1870 and the education law of the country. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution.
MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
said it was clear from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that before they could trace the working of the proposal in its details they should have some return showing the effect of the Bill upon the different districts to be benefited. ["Hear, hear!"] While poor School Boards would welcome the Bill, and while nobody in the House—and especially the representatives of School Board districts—was likely to refuse any offer which the Government might make, he thought it would be found that the School Boards throughout the country, who did such admirable educational work for nearly half the children, would, when they came to express an opinion on the proposal, pronounce it to be exceedingly inadequate. [Cheers.] To what did it amount? Both from that side of the House and from hon. Members on the other side, they heard at the opening of the Session a desire expressed that there should be an equal grant to Voluntary Schools and Board Schools all round. But the Voluntary Schools Bill was reckoned on the basis of 5s. a child, while the Board School Bill was reckoned on the basis of 1s. per child. The sums were distributed in both in what was called the proportion of necessity. He would like to ask what the Government took to be a case of necessity when applied to Board Schools? There was necessity, as they had been told, arising 547 from want of efficiency; there was necessity also arising from too heavy payments either out of the pockets of the voluntary subscribers or of the ratepayers. As to efficiency, they were told that Voluntary Schools were in a, pretty fair state of efficiency where they were paying their teachers well. But how was it that in the ratepayers' schools there was a fair amount of efficiency? The answer was, that the Education Department had been able to obtain on the whole—though there were, no doubt, certain exceptions in the case of the smaller School Boards—a higher rate of efficiency and a higher rate of payment for the teachers because the rates were behind the Board Schools. But was that any reason why Board Schools should receive only one-fifth of the relief given to Voluntary Schools? The right hon. Gentleman told them the other day that the pressure of the Education Department was not departmental pressure, but was the pressure of public opinion. That was to say, public opinion had brought about better payment of teachers and a fair state of efficiency in Board Schools, and yet in that House public opinion rated that efficiency at only one-fifth of the value of that which was assigned to Voluntary Schools. What was the position of the mass of the population in regard to this question? One-third of the population—something like nine millions of people—paid no School Board rates at all. In these districts relief was to be given at the rate of 5s. per scholar, and a large part of the money was to come out of the urban districts, many of which were to get little or nothing by the Bill. Of the 20 millions who lived in School Board districts 19 millions paid over a 3d. rate and 16 millions paid over a 6d. rate, which was not very much below the average rate. How many of these people were going to get effective relief out of this £110,000? They would be very glad if the specially poor districts, where there was an exceptionally high rate, would get a special share of relief under the Bill; but when their case was satisfied, if it was satisfied under the Bill, an extremely small amount would be left for the great mass of the borough or urban populations, where the rates ranged from 6d. to 1s. 2d. He was, therefore, not surprised to hear the Lord 548 President say in the House of Lords last Tuesday thatthe larger number of School Boards in our opinion stand in no need of relief, or, if they do, the relief is to a very large extent in the hands of those by whom the School Boards are elected.[Ministerial cheers.] That was the doctrine of the bottomless purse, which, if carried to its extreme, would mean that School Boards needed no help at all from Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"] What had happened in many districts? There being no rich people to build Voluntary Schools, School Boards had to be founded, and in these places they now told the ratepayers that they must provide relief for themselves. He should have thought these were just the very districts which required more relief even than they provided for Voluntary Schools. Nobody had pointed out more clearly than the right hon. Gentleman himself how the system worked in the country districts and in many of the poor districts of the great towns. Whatever relief was given to certain districts it was impossible to maintain that a sum of £100,000 was an adequate reward to the ratepayers for the efforts they had made in founding and carrying on their Board Schools. There were two millions of children in the Board Schools and two and a-half millions in Voluntary Schools. To the Voluntary Schools they gave £700,000, and to the Board Schools about £120,000. But the sacrifice to keep going the Board Schools was three times as great as the sacrifice of the voluntary subscribers. The cost per head of the children in Voluntary Schools provided by annual subscriptions was 6s. 9d.. while the cost provided by the ratepayer in maintenance alone was 19s. 8d. What they now offered him, instead of 5s. per head, which would be £500,000, was not much more than one-fifth of that sum. They were asked why they interested themselves in the relief of the ratepayers. Relief, no doubt, should be first of all to make up efficiency; but it should also be given to those who had incurred a burden, and he thought that principle might be applied to all classes of schools. But when it was said that they were the kind of people who ought to speak of the relief of the ratepayers, his answer was that education stood on an entirely 549 different footing, and had so stood ever since the Act of 1870 in regard to different classes of ratepayers. From the very first the State undertook the duly of providing a large share of the cost of education from the Exchequer to assist the localities to a very large extent. They had been constantly and quietly raising the Imperial contribution per child in Board and Voluntary Schools from 14s., at which it stood 18 years ago, to 19s. or 20s., at which it stood now, and he had never heard anyone protesting against it. Under the Free Education Act they raised it at a bound to 10s. per child in both classes of schools, and no one had complained. And what they said now was that as they were giving Voluntary Schools 5s. per child, why should they not extend the same amount of relief to School Board districts, especially as their sacrifices—their compulsory sacrifices—had been much larger than the sacrifices of the supporters of Voluntary Schools? He had said "compulsory sacrifices," for many hon. Gentlemen forgot the fact that of the 2,500 School Boards existing in the country, 1,000 had been compulsorily formed—that was to say, they had been formed, not by the will of the ratepayers, but under an Act by which the State took the education of the people into its hands, and if that had not been done there would now be two millions of children altogether uneducated. Even if they took the basis of Section 97 and treated it as the right hon. Gentleman had treated it, it would form a somewhat uncertain basis. He meant that, if they took places like Hull, which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, with a School Board rate of 9d., they would find that it was already entitled under the existing Act to a certain amount of money, because its rateable value happened to be low—it having been assessed low by the assessment committee in comparison with other towns—and he did not think that Hull, with its rate of 9d., deserved more money under Section 97 in proportion to other towns like Halifax and Sheffield, which had a rate of 1s. 2d. That difficulty would remain unremedied until that Section—which was a temptation to certain districts to have themselves assessed low in order to get a certain amount of money—was more completely modified. The right hon. Gentleman had said in the course of one of his speeches on the education question 550 that localities were very jealous in insisting that they should be treated with equality in those matters at the hands of the Imperial Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman would very soon experience the truth of that statement. London, for instance, would be very much surprised to hear how it was going to be treated under this Bill. [Cheers.] It would be found that boroughs, taking them as a whole, would contribute to this Imperial grant a share out of all proportion to that which they would receive; and the policy of taking money from the towns and distributing it elsewhere—which had begun tinder the Agricultural Bating Act of last year—would be extended under this Bill. [Cheers.] He did not think that any locality was likely to refuse any dole, however insufficient, which the Government might offer; but he was sure many localities would make great complaints when they found how little they were likely to receive—as compared with other localities—under the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not believe that the great mass of the School Board districts could possibly accept this grant of 1s. per child, instead of the grant of 5s. per child given to the Voluntary Schools, as a just and final settlement, and he did not suppose that even the Government could for a moment imagine that this arrangement was one that would not have to be revised again. [Cheers.]
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
, who was received with Ministerial cheers: Certainly the old proverb that there is no zeal like the zeal of the convert is happily illustrated in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. [Cheers and laughter.] He first denounced us with all the eloquence at his command for not having brought in a general Bill for the relief of the ratepayers in every district where there happens to be a School Board; and the whole pith and substance of his speech—so far as it had pith and substance—consisted in an attack upon us for pursuing the policy of giving relief, whether to Voluntary Schools or to Board Schools, where the relief is required, instead of making a general dole throughout the country, on the basis of 5s. per head all round, which the right hon. Gentleman publicly admits is, and is intended to be, nothing 551 else but relief to the ratepayers. [Ministerial cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman expresses his inability to understand the difficulty which we on this side of the House have constantly felt, and have sometimes expressed, at the amazing change of opinion which has taken place on the Front Bench opposite on the subject of rating since they occupied us last year with long Debates on the Agricultural Rating Bill. The surprise of the right hon. Gentleman is very curious, because I should have thought that a person of far less acuteness than the right hon. Gentleman would have seen that if we had not felt that difficulty at which he expressed surprise, we should have had either an extraordinary lack of memory or an extraordinary lack of appreciation of the character of the argument which was addressed to us on the subject of rating last year by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Cheers and laughter.] What was the character of that argument? There was but one; and it was repeated day after day and night after night on the introduction of my right hon. Friend's Bill, on the Second Reading of that Bill, upon almost every Amendment in Committee, and upon every Amendment also on Report; and, finally, it was finished in this House on the Third Reading of the Bill, only to make its appearance, still flourishing and still gathering strength, on every platform in the country. [Cheers and laughter.] What, I ask, was that single argument? It was that every relief of the rates went into the pockets of the landlords. [Laughter and cheers.] "But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "this House has always distinguished between rates for educational purposes and other rates." Has this House provided machinery by which the rates spent on education are to have a different destination from the rates spent on other purposes? Has this House ever provided a plan by which, if it be true that the rates spent for sanitary purposes go into the pockets of the landlords, while the rates spent for School Board purposes should not go into the landlords' pockets? You have only to put the question to see what the answer is; and how any Gentleman could come down to this House and, without a blush on his ingenuous countenance—[laughter]—have the courage to say it is perfectly monstrous that we should not bring in a general Bill for 552 the relief of the rates in every part of the country, having ringing in his ears the speeches of his right hon. Friend and his own speeches, is more than I can imagine. [Cheers.] If there was a pretence that this is a Bill for the improvement of education I could, at any rate, go some way towards understanding the right hon. Gentleman's position. But neither this Bill, nor the Bill the right hon. Gentleman proposes, is primarily, essentially, and fundamentally an Education Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said over and over again that we ought to relieve the ratepayers. With that I agree. But he also said that he wanted 5s. a head all round for every School Board in the country.
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
As a basis. But the right hon. Gentleman, with all his courage, cannot pretend that 5s. per head all round is required to increase the efficiency of education in London, Manchester, and Liverpool, and in the great body of the School Board districts of the country. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman admits that the Bill he wants is not an Education Bill, but a Ratepayers' Relief Bill. [Cheers.] I say that that is grossly inconsistent with every argument that was advanced by right hon. Gentlemen opposite last year. I do not think it is true that the relief under the Agricultural Rating Act of last year will, even in the long run, go to the owners of agricultural land; but I cannot doubt that there are large urban districts in this country where the immediate effect of contributions of this sort will be to go, not into the pockets of the ground landlords, but into the pockets of owners of cottage property, and of those who let out lodgings and houses to working men. I have no objection to that. I see no reason why the ratepayers should not be relieved. But do not let us have this hypocrisy—do not let us say that the relief of agricultural rates goes necessarily into the pockets of the rural landlords, whereas directly we begin to relieve urban rates, by some mysterious economic reasons, that relief is not to go into the pockets of the owners of house property, but is to go straight to the occupiers. [Cheers.] That is the first observation I have to make. The second observation I have to make is that, both in this Bill and in 553 the last Bill we introduced, we distinctly came forward with the view of relieving necessity where necessity exists. The rival policy advocated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite is to give public money where, by common consent and universal admission, necessity does not exist. I am ready to stand by our policy as against the policy of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. ["Hear, hear!"] I am prepared to defend it on any platform in the kingdom, if it is challenged. [Cheers.] While it may be a good thing that the whole cost of elementary education should be borne out of public resources—[cries of "No!"]—I do not pronounce upon that—while that may be, and, perhaps, ought to be, the idea towards which the country should struggle, meanwhile the business of this House is to preserve the system of elementary education started in 1870—a composite system, partly consisting of Board Schools and partly of Voluntary Schools. And this House ought to come to the relief of the necessity of those parts of the system, be they Voluntary or be they Board, which are really in urgent need of such public assistance. I am bound to say that, while I am not surprised, I am slightly pained, at the ingratitude shown by hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Cheers.] One would really suppose that these Gentlemen had, through a long, honourable, and laborious public career, been perpetually pressing upon the Government of the country the necessity of relieving, not only poor Board Schools, but all Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Is there a single Gentleman opposite, with, perhaps, the exceptions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean and one or two others who are returned by very poor School Board districts, who made a single election speech or issued an election address in which this great cardinal point of policy was mentioned? [Cheers.] No, Sir; the only people, so far as I know, who have ever suggested to this House the propriety of doing something to relieve the very poor districts in which there are School Boards are the Government now sitting on this Bench—[cheers]—who last year brought forward a Bill in which a proposal of this kind was contained—a proposal which, indeed, did not meet with universal approval, but which was admitted by the great body of 554 public opinion to be an effort to carry out a wise and judicious policy. [Cheers.] What have we done this year? We have brought forward a proposal which doubles, or more than doubles, the amount that was given, or suggested to be given, last year to poor Board Schools, while, at the same time, we have only increased by one-fifth the sum to be given to Voluntary Schools; and my right hon. Friend has laid before the Committee a method of giving that increased sum which will undoubtedly make it go in much larger measure to the districts which require it than the plan which we adopted last year. It is impossible to make any arithmetical comparison between the needs of the poor Voluntary Schools and the needs of the poor Board Schools. The two things are on a different basis. They are really incomparable, and any attempt to arithmetically compare them is, and must be, founded on a fundamental misapprehension of the real elements of the problem. But I frankly admit to the House that, while our proposal has been met apparently with scorn on the other side because of its inadequacy—[Opposition cheers]—I am rather afraid that when the working out of the Bill comes to be seen, the managers and those interested in Voluntary Schools will say, "How comes it that, whole districts will receive so very much more than that 5s. a head which is the average, which is the estimated basis, of relief to Voluntary Schools?" And they will ask us, "Do you really hope or believe that such large sums will be distributed to the most needy Voluntary Schools as will undoubtedly be distributed to the most needy Board School districts?" That, however, is not an argument which the House are in a position to appreciate until they see my right hon. Friend's Bill in print, and until they are in a position to test by actual examples the manner in which it works out. I would venture to suggest, therefore, that it would be desirable to defer until that time any attempt at a detailed discussion of my right hon. Friend's proposal, and that we should, if the Committee think tit, hurry over the preliminary stages, so as to permit my right hon. Friend to get his Bill into print, which he cannot do before Thursday. The House and the country will then be in a position, which they cannot be before 555 the Bill is printed, to estimate both the character of the machinery which my right hon. Friend proposes, and the result which that machinery will have in at least the poor School Board districts, the ratepayers of which so much need aid in various parts of the country. [Cheers]
* SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
thought the First Lord of the Treasury would have added much greater weight to his recommendation that the Committee should hurry over this stage of the Bill had he not made his speech first. ["Hear, hear!"] He had made a detailed and provocative speech, which must he replied to. [Cheers] He observed one thing about the right hon. Gentleman. If anything in this world ever did—he did not say anything really ever did—disturb or ruffle his temper, it was the approach on that side of the House to any allusion to the question of the urban ratepayer. [Cheers] If hon. Members on that side of the House, some of whom represented the largest ratepaying constituencies in the kingdom, in any way alluded even to the burden of rates, or the assessment of rates, or the payment of rates, the right hon. Gentleman almost regarded it as a personal attack. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] He was speaking perfectly good humouredly—[The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"]—and the right hon. Gentleman always referred to the Debates of last year, and thought that he had brought the discussions to a close by saying that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House maintained that all relief given to the ratepayers must go into the pockets of the landlords. That was not the contention last year. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] The contention last year was that the relief given to agricultural rates in respect of agricultural land would go into the pockets of the owners of that land. [Cheers] When the right hon. Gentleman said that their policy was not only really inconsistent with what was done last year, but that he wondered that anybody, without a blush, could make the statement that there was any distinction between urban rates and the agricultural rates which were dealt with last year, and that that must be some unexplained economic theory which nobody had ever explained, all he could do was to refer 556 him to the standard work on the subject written by his own colleague, the present First Lord of the Admiralty. [Cheers.] That right hon. Gentleman had proved to demonstration that there was an essential, permanent distinction and difference between rates levied upon land and rates levied upon houses, and that there was also a, permanent distinction between rates which were levied subsequently to the commencement of a tenancy and to an agreement for a tenancy when those rates were not in existence. That was the case of London and other large towns. The urban rates in London, he did not hesitate to say, broadly, were paid by the tenants and not by the landlords. ["Hear, hear!"] The rates paid upon cottages, shops, warehouses, manufactories and mills in this country were in the main paid by the tenants and not by the landlords, and, as in the great bulk of the long tenancies of this country, the conditions were fixed long before the education rate was levied, it could not be for a moment contended that in those cases, when the terms of the tenancy were fixed and the amount of rent determined having regard to the rates in existence, they contemplated the burden of education rates. The right hon. Gentleman also said they wanted to relieve necessity, and that the ruling guide of the Government would be to relieve the claims of necessitous Voluntary Schools and necessitous Board Schools. On the other hand, they contended that there were necessitous ratepayers. He was not going to oppose a grant of £100,000 or £150,000 to relieve any class of ratepayers, but he should hold himself at liberty to ask that the relief should be greater, and that it was only just and fair treatment that they should have a large concession. The burden of the education rate in this kingdom had increased, and was increasing to such an extent that the necessitous ratepayers were entitled to come to that House and ask for relief. Last year the Government would not have got their Agricultural Rates Bill passed if they had not promised a Commission to inquire into the grievances of the urban ratepayer, and now they had turned a deaf ear to their application. He wished to say a word on the speech of the Vice President, and he hoped ho would pardon him if he said that he absolutely did not 557 understand that speech. He had conveyed no idea to his mind how the scheme would work out. He did not know the class of schools which would get relief, and he did not know the amount; but what he gathered was that all the large towns were to be excluded.
* SIR H. FOWLER
said Leeds and Hull were the exceptional cases, but, so far as the general ratepayers were concerned, they would get no relief. He did understand that the Voluntary Schools were to have £600,000 and the Board Schools £100,000. What was the reason for this limitation? They knew without waiting for the Budget that the revenue had increased by three millions, and he certainly thought they had a right to plead on behalf of the ratepayers. Whether that was a just contention or not, he should invite the Vice President to give them some detailed statement as to how this scheme would work out. Taking the average brain, he did not think hon. Members understood from the speech what it was the Vice President proposed. He had intended to move that evening for a return which would have given the House the information, but he learnt that the return was opposed.
* SIR H. FOWLER
said he would be happy to confer with the right hon. Gentleman on matters of detail. He should like to say a few words as to the claim for relief, and, having quoted Mr. Forster's original proposal, and as amended by Mr. Gladstone, which was based upon equality of grant to both classes of schools, the right hon. Gentleman said that his case was that they should give to Voluntary Schools and Board Schools equally. They gave the Voluntary Schools £600,000, and he said the rated schools were entitled to an equal amount from the Exchequer, not only upon the principle of equality, but on the ground of justice to the urban ratepayers. It was absurd to speak of the bottomless purse of the ratepayers; there was no such purse. The ratepayers felt the burden very severely. The large towns which were now heavily rated would get no relief. Take Manchester, where the Voluntary Schools cost the 558 subscribers 4d. 3d. per head, but the cost in the Board Schools to the ratepayers was 16s. 2d. per head. In Birmingham the rate was £1 0s. 6d.; in Birkenhead it was £1 0s. 10d.; and in Bristol it was £1 2s. 2d; but in Hull it was only 7s. 4½d.; yet Bristol was to get no relief. London paid £1 17s. 10d. per head. It was said London was wealthy, but London was also poor. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought the London School Board was entitled to relief from this Bill. The pressure upon the ratepayers in all these towns was so great that they ought to share in the relief. It would be perfectly fair to argue whether they should attempt to discriminate between the School Boards—some to have more and some to have less. He thought the House would now see that it would be impossible to take the Second Reading of the Bill on Monday. They must have ample time to consider the Bill and communicate with their constituents on it. The right hon. Gentleman said he should be prepared to defend the Bill on any platform in the country. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "The principle."] He should be delighted if the right hon. Gentleman would go down to Wolverhampton and defend the giving relief to one class of schools in that town while the other class of schools was not to have a penny. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
said that the right hon. Gentleman had not succeeded in showing that, while the relief to the rural rates went to the landlords, the relief to the urban rates did not go to the landlords. It was far more probable that the money given in relief of the urban rates would go to the landlords, because there was in towns such a thing as compounding the rates. He was quite willing that that should happen to some extent; but it was not reasonable to blame the Government for not doing this year what they were blamed for doing last year. There was a prevalent fallacy among lion. Gentlemen opposite that it was a sign of grace in a district to have a School Board. It simply showed that the inhabitants cared too little about education to support Voluntary Schools. The sacrifices made by the supporters of Voluntary Schools were far more meritorious than those 559 made by the ratepayers for Board Schools, because the latter were grudgingly and compulsorily given. He congratulated the right lion. Gentleman and the Government on the skilful way in which the Bill was framed to get rid of one of the most forcible objections to the Agricultural Rating Bill of last year. It could not be said that this Bill gave help to the poor and rich, districts alike. It gave help where the rate was high, and in proportion as the rate was high. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton had misunderstood the Vice President in declaring that the large towns would get little help. Out of 21 towns where the rate was over 1s., 20 would receive relief. London was the exception, and it was not likely that London would make itself necessitous to become entitled to this relief.
* SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said that the question was one of extreme complexity, and they must wait, to see the Bill before discussing its details. The Vice President had spoken of "the rate levied." The rate returned to the Education Department was not the rate levied in the ordinary sense. For instance, in one of the poor School Board districts in his constituency, the precept of the School Board was 2s. 10d., and that was the amount which would be returned in the education statistics. But the amount levied on the ratepayers by the rating authority was not 2s. 10d., but 3s. The right hon. Gentleman had explained a very elaborate sliding scale; but he had given no reason why it should stop at the particular point mentioned by the right lion. Gentleman—a rate of 2s. 5d. The Bill would give an extra £110,000 to the Board Schools. That was a very much smaller sum than had been expected, or than had been mentioned at the deputation from the representatives of the poor School Boards last year. There would be great disappointment felt on this point.
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Gloucestershire, Stroud)
wished to make a few remarks on the argument addressed to the Committee by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Following through the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, he claimed him as an advocate on all future occasions for doing all he could to relieve the burden of rates in this country, whether in agricultural or urban 560 districts, because his argument went to that extent. How was it, and in what way did he draw a distinction upon the point of principle between the relief given in the Agricultural Rating Act of last year, and the relief given to other ratepayers either in urban or country districts in various parts of this country? As to whether the relief went to the tenant or to the landlord, they had to look in each case to the economic conditions before they could determine to whom the relief would be given. Was it not the case that, if the right hon. Gentleman excepted the case of the compound householder from the general criticism he applied, he really excepted from any hardship, so far as rates were concerned, all the poorer ratepayers in our large towns?
* SIR H. FOWLER
said he based his argument mainly on the case of the small, heavily burdened and rated shopkeepers, not the artisans living in 3s. a week houses.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said his contention remained the same. If one took the poorest classes in the large towns, the criticism the right hon. Gentleman applied, as regarded the burden of rates, did not attach to them at all, because in that case the rates were not paid by them, but by the owners of coupound tenements. Everyone, of course, sympathised with the poor shopkeeper, and every class of ratepayer where the burden was heavy, but they forgot to draw the distinction. He might take out of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill any effect of this Bill, or of the other Bill, on the poorest class of ratepayers, or the class of ratepayers who would be the poorest if the incidence of the burden fell upon them at all, namely, the artisans and workpeople in our large industrial cities.
* SIR H. FOWLER
The Voluntary Schools Bill does not deal with rates.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said the other Education Bill dealt most distinctly with rates in this sense, that if they destroyed the Voluntary Schools they would place a greater burden on the rates of the country. In laying down a proper test, they had to consider not only the amount of I the rate at so much per pound, but the resources and economic conditions of the area within which the particular rate was levied. That was the scheme of the Vice President's proposal; that was the real 561 meaning of the sliding scale which was to deal with this very difficulty—that you could not say the burden of rates was to be gauged simply by the amount of the rates, but you must have both the amount of the rate and the power of the particular area to bear that amount. The suggestion to give so much a head all round would, he admitted, be a fair and an equitable way of dealing with the matter, but he understood the objection raised to that was the fiscal strain thrown on the national Echequer. [Sir H. FOWLER: "Three millions!"] Suppose they could not give that all round, was not the next best method the method proposed by this Bill, and that which had recently passed through the House? They took the test in the one case of necessity measured by efficiency; in the other they took the test of necessity measured by the strain on the particular ratepayers in the particular locality; and were they not thus dealing with the two classes of schools on as fair and equitable a basis as possible? For his own part he hoped that in the long run education would be regarded as entirely a national concern, and that it would be a universally accepted doctrine that it was the duty of the national Exchequer to find the funds for our education system. He knew there were many Members who did not adopt that view; but, if the right hon. Gentleman held it, he ought to welcome the two Bills proposed by the Government this Session as marking the longest step in that direction which any Government had ever taken at one time as regarded the education question. If also it was the right hon. Gentleman's desire to save the ratepayers as far as possible in connection with heavy burdens generally, and more particularly as regarded this topic. Then, if he took the two Bills together, one as saving our voluntary system, the other as giving relief to the rates where the ratepayers were most heavily burdened, the Government ought to have his support on both those Bills as carrying out in the best possible manner the principles which underlay the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Upon the details of the proposal nothing could be said at present, but he believed everyone on that side of the House, and a large number of hon. Members opposite, would not only 562 not oppose the Bill on the Second Reading, but would give what assistance they could in order that it might become law as soon as possible. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said the hon. and learned Member had given one of the strongest and ablest arguments for condemning the policy of the Government in separating the two Bills, because his whole argument was that these Bills should be one cohesive whole, and should interdepend upon principles which applied equally to both. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the necessity of dealing equally and fairly with the Board Schools as well as with the Voluntary Schools; they assented to that, but he ventured to say this proposal was not a fair and equal settlement of this question. The sliding scale system which the Vice President had introduced was a good system, and he thought it would be recognised as a valuable idea by those practically acquainted with the details of this subject, but the proper method, he thought, would have been to give the grant of 5s. per head all round to begin with, and on the top of that to apply this sliding scale. He would give some striking instances of how this proposal would work out. Northampton would get a contribution of about £300 from the Exchequer towards her rate expenditure of £9,000; and, at the same time the Voluntary Schools of Northampton were getting under the Voluntary Schools Bill £1,004, in respect of their voluntary subscriptions of only £1,262. That was a proportion enormously in favour of Voluntary Schools. Kettering would receive about £180 towards a rate expenditure of £3,100, while under the previous Bill the Voluntary Schools would receive £37l, in respect of a contribution of £400. In another town in his division, Wellingborough, the Exchequer would contribute about £150 towards a rate expenditure of £2,700, while the Voluntary Schools would receive £252 in respect of voluntary contributions of only £230. The great city of Manchester, in respect of a rate expenditure of £75,000, would get not a single farthing in aid from the Exchequer, whereas the Voluntary Schools of Manchester would receive £11,000 under the other Bill. Salford, in respect of a rate expenditure of £22,000, would receive nothing; whereas 563 the Voluntary Schools would get, £5,000. Liverpool, in respect of a rate expenditure of £77,940, would get nothing; while Voluntary Schools would get £13,000. So they might go on through all the large towns of Lancashire. Then Nottingham, in respect of a rate expenditure of £42,000, would receive about £3,400; while the Voluntary Schools there would receive £3,300 in respect of subscriptions of only £2,996. Leeds, of course, was an exceptionally favourable case for the right hon. Gentleman, as that town had been on the border line of Section 97 of the Act of 1870 for a long time. The rate was l4d., the standard would be 10s. 10d., and the sum contributed by the Exchequer in respect of a rate expenditure of £80,700 was £5,000, while £4,900 would be contributed in respect of subscriptions amounting to £5,365. Sheffield, with a 13d. rate, would be on the 13s. 6d. scale, and in respect of a rate expenditure of £63,500 would get the magnificent contribution of £1,835; while the Voluntary Schools would get £5,000 in respect of subscriptions of £3,106. Bradford would get nothing in respect of its rate expenditure of £47,500, while the Voluntary Schools there would get £5,000 in respect of subscriptions of £5,365. Could anything be more ludicrous than the absolute disproportion of these figures? He wished to insist on this obvious truth, that rates were one form of local effort just as subscriptions were another, and the aid of the State ought to be equally given to both. They complained of the action of the Government in not having brought in one Education Bill dealing on definite principles with the two classes of schools, for in any final solution of the Education Question the ultimate relations of the two classes of schools to each other must be considered and means must be provided for one class of schools being merged into the other. He was strongly in favour of merging Voluntary Schools into the Board School system, and he regretted that the Government had not taken the logical course of dealing with all schools on equal and fair principles, and enabling them to consider the Education Question as a whole.
VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said he humbly shared with the right hon. 564 Member for Wolverhampton the inability, on first hearing this proposal, to comprehend the full bearing of the Bill, and he thought it would be very greatly for the convenience of the House if before they came to the Second Reading his right hon. Friend would lay something on the Table by way of memorandum, explaining its effect on the various towns and School Boards coming under its operation. He contented himself by taking note of the fact that this Bill constituted one further departure from the principles of the Act of 1870. ["Hear, hear!"] That was a matter of congratulation to him. The general principle of the Act of 1870 was that all schools, Board or Voluntary, should be treated on the same footing so far as the Imperial grant was concerned, and under this Bill it was clear that a distinction was to be made between school and school in the money to be awarded out of the Exchequer. The most striking feature in his right hon. Friend's speech was an omission which might or might not correspond with what the Committee would ultimately find in the Bill. It was that there appeared to be no conditions laid down for any school which was to receive this increased aid.
said that there appeared to be no conditions laid down in the Bill on any School Board which was to receive the money. The Bill in fact differed from the Bill they had discussed to aid Voluntary Schools. That Bill contained many conditions, but here was a Bill to aid Board Schools, and there were no conditions of any kind laid down. In the former Bill, for example, there was a condition as to efficiency. He had no desire to drive up the standard of education in England at the present moment, but there were undoubtedly certain School Boards which would receive the aid under this Bill which were open to the charge of not being altogether efficient. He reminded his right hon. Friend of a passage cited in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill last year from the Report of Mr. Brodie, 565 one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. Mr. Brodie said that—the climax is readied in the country Board Schools. True, indeed, it is that a few of these ore well managed, but in by far the most there is no management at all worthy the name; there is no progress, but the reverse.This was a most complete condemnation of certain School Boards in the country. He admitted that this did not apply to the poor Board School districts in the towns. There the education was efficient; in some cases he feared it was extravagant; but surely a condition of another kind ought to be laid upon them. The Bill was going to be offered to the country in order to relieve the ratepayer. Let the Committee see that it did relieve the ratepayer. If there were no conditions in the Bill that the money would relieve the ratepayers—for example, the ratepayers of West Ham—he feared that the first result would be, not to relieve the ratepayers, but to raise the standard of education in West Ham. That might be a good or bad thing; but it would not be relief to the ratepayer. He thought it was worthy of consideration when the proper time arrived, and when the Committee was voting large sums of money, to see that the money was going to be used for the purpose for which Parliament intended. The idea was that School Boards themselves ought to act as a check on expenditure. Nothing of the kind could be more untrue. He regretted that the Government had not attempted to deal with the education question generally; but when the tune did come, one of the things they would have to deal with was the constitution of the School Boards. The idea that there was a real, effect representation of the ratepayer and a real power to cheek expenditure on the part of the School Board system was wholly illusory. As a matter of fact, the great bulk of the ratepayers never went to the poll at all; in London not yd per cent, went to the poll at the last election; and the effect of the cumulative vote was not to elect the persons who generally served on a local body, but persons who thought of education and nothing else. As a result School Board expenditure was run up to a most inordinate height. Though his right hon. Friend had taken every kind of circumstance into account he did nut take into 566 account the mismanagement and the extravagance of the School Boards themselves. Surely, a large part of the variation which the right lion. Gentleman mentioned was due to their mismanagement; and he thought that the Committee ought to consider whether proper conditions should not be imposed on the School Boards when more money was being granted. This Bill, like the last Bill, had no element of finality about it. [Opposition. cheers.] The reason why the borough of West Ham, for example, increased its expenditure and threw such an enormous burden on the rates was, he supposed, because of the competition of School Boards outside. That competition would go on. There was no reason why the London School Board should not increase its expenditure every year. It had always done so, and he presumed it would do so for many years to come. In these circumstances, whatever sum might be allotted to West Ham or any other borough would in a few years be compensated for by the rise in other School Boards, and the same difficulty would be produced. As soon as the Committee had passed these purely temporary measures of relief, he hoped that the Government would seriously set to work to consider what ought to be done in order to put our educational system, whether in the Board Schools or in the Voluntary Schools, on a really permanent basis. [Cheers.]
§ * MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said that many hon. Members would disagree with the noble Lord as to his desire for finality in the expenditure on education. He did not suppose that there should be it general debate on a wide question like this, but he urged on the right hon. Gentleman the absolute necessity, before the Committee discussed the Bill in detail, of giving it the effect of the somewhat complicated system of relief on the various School Board districts. He found some difficulty in understanding what was the object of the Bill. Was the Bill for the improvement of education, or was it a Bill for the relief of the ratepayers? If it was a Bill for the improvement of education he sympathised with a good deal of what the noble Lord had said if there was to be omitted from the Bill the conditions under which the money was to be applied; but he did not gather from the speech of the right hon. 567 Gentleman that there were no such conditions in the Bill. If the Bill was for the relief of the ratepayers, there were two aspects in which to look at it. First, there was the aspect as to the total amount of relief; and secondly, the method of distribution. He thought that everyone interested in the School Board side of the question must regard that relief as extremely inadequate and extraordinarily unequal as between two classes of schools. A Bill of this kind, introduced with so narrow a margin of relief to the Board Schools, was a tine on those districts which had themselves established School Boards, or had been compelled, by the legal machinery of the country, to establish School Boards. It was impossible to judge of the distribution of the money until a return was furnished showing how it would operate. He urged that the Government should give a return of the details connected with the districts. Both as regarded the method of distribution and the total sum to be given, the Government were doing a great injustice to the urban districts, If the Bill was for the relief of the rates, what a totally inadequate sop it was! The urban districts had been most seriously hit in regard to rates, and now there was an opportunity to relieve them they received no relief at all. The fact that London got no relief whatever under the Bill made him feel that the method of distribution under the Bill was extremely bizarre. But they had not only to consider one rate, but the incidence of all rates. By not taking a comprehensive view of the matter, and dealing with it in a haphazard way, Parliament was piling up additional difficulties as regarded rating. Without the return which he had pressed on the Vice President of the Council, and which he would be able to give, the House would be arguing upon a totally one-sided view of the question.
MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
recognised in the proposal before the House an effort to meet a great want. How it would work out they could not judge until they saw the Bill, and, even then, they would need experience of its operation. But it was a grievous pity that the matter should be dealt with piecemeal. The Measure before the House was to adjust certain grievances and put certain wrongs right, but in doing this it would create other anoma- 568 lies which would be felt almost as much. It would do away with certain anomalies and injustices, and create fresh ones. London was rich, taken as one financial entity, but many neighbourhoods of London were as poor as those districts which it was intended to relieve. In his constituency practically all the ratepayers were small, and the relief to them would be practically nothing. But the matter should he treated from the educational rather than from the ratepayers' point of view. A great opportunity was being lost of placing this great educational question on a final basis. The only possible solution for it was that they should once and for all recognise that the State must pay the whole cost of the secular teaching it required. If this were done all the various anomalies would be done away with. They were getting near it. The present was another step in that direction. The whole question of education in both Voluntary and Board Schools should be put on such a basis as to do away with those anomalies. The proposal before the House was in the right direction, but a further Measure would be necessary to deal out fairness to all classes.
MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
joined with the noble Lord the Member for Rochester and the hon. Member who had just spoken in regretting that our educational system was being dealt with in this piecemeal way. The time had come when the Government should set themselves to settle the matter on broader, fairer, and larger lines. Section 97 of the Education Act of 1870 had not worked with particular satisfaction, and he regretted that the Government should have based their proposal upon it instead of proposing a scheme which would have been juster and fairer. In the opinion of Members on the Opposition side of the House the amount to be given to the Board Schools was totally inadequate. Their expenditure amounted to £4,750,000 a year, and £110,000 a year was to be given to meet the strain thrown upon them. The metropolis would receive no benefit. Whatever might be the rateable value of London, the rate of l1d. on a house of £20 was a heavy burden. The whole burden and incidence of the rates should be considered. In his own constituency the rates amounted to 6s. 6d. in the 569 pound, and if relief was to be given, the ratepayers in his constituency ought, to have equal or greater relief than certain other parts of London. The ratepayers' burden in London had been borne generously, and the people deserved to be relieved. Under legislation already sanctioned by that House, London, as compared with Lancashire, received £70,000 less than it was entitled to, and as the result of the Government's two educational Hills, the London taxpayers would be sonic £200,000 out of pocket. The London ratepayers had I done a great educational work, and deserved as much consideration as the voluntary subscribers, who paid £80,000 in contributions, and would receive £45,000 in relief. The London ratepayers, who paid 2¼ millions, would receive no relief. The Bill was so complicated that the Government could not expect Members to be in a position 1o discuss the Second Reading next Monday. He trusted that they would be supplied with facts and figures and mathematical tallies so that they might see how the Measure would work.
* MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
observed that, however inadequate hon. Members opposite might think the grant, the Government by proposing it were doing what the Opposition failed to do when they had the opportunities. ["Hear, hear!"] He rose chiefly for the purpose of emphasising the importance of the question asked by the right lion. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Whether the new grant was to be estimated on the actual rate levied for School Board purposes and paid by the ratepayer, or on the rate as paid to the school authority, was a very important question. He also wished to know whether in a district where a rate of 2s. 6d. was levied, the increase in the grant would be 9s. per scholar, or whether the total grant would be 9s. per scholar. Would the new grant be in lieu of the sum now paid under Section 97, or in addition to the grant paid under that section? He understood that it was to be in addition. He recognised with pleasure that much care and skill had been exercised in drafting this scheme, which would deal with School Board districts in proportion to their necessities. Section 97 of the Act of 1897 was founded on two principles which were just, the rateable value and the number of 570 children in a Board School district. Now, for the first time, a third principle was established—namely, that regard must be paid to the degree in which the School Board of a locality had endeavoured to discharge its duty, as evidenced by the actual rate in the pound levied. Hitherto some School Boards had conducted their affairs with a ridiculously small rate, and yet obtained as much relief as where, the rate was large. The towns where the schools were chiefly voluntary, and where large grants would be made under the Voluntary Schools Bill, would receive but little assistance under this Measure. The necessities of School Board districts arose from their having to make nearly all the provision for the education of the children, and such districts would be relieved. A necessitous School Board district was one where there was a low rateable value and where nearly all the children were educated in Board Schools. Where a large amount would be paid under the Voluntary Schools Bill, a small sum would be paid under this Bill, and where a small amount would be paid under the former Bill, a large amount would be paid under the present Measure. He hoped that the Government would insist, on getting the Second Heading of the Bill before the Easter recess. If a thing were good, it was just as well to have it quickly, and he was not prepared to postpone the relief of the School Boards for a single month. This was not an intricate Measure, what it involved being a mere modification of one or two words in a section with which many of them had been familiar for 26 years. He should be triad to record his vote in favour of the proposals of the Government, although he abstained from expressing an opinion as to their adequacy until he had the Bill before him. He should be sorry to obstruct a Measure which did something more than had been done hitherto in the direction of imposing on the State a duty which it ought to fulfil.
* MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
regretted that the lion. Member who had last spoken should have thought n necessary to overlay the rest of the matter of his speech with highly partisan remarks with regard to the action of the late Liberal Government in not giving special grants to poor School Board districts. The hon. Member had overlooked the important point that the 571 money which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to find for that purpose was, to a considerable extent, provided for him by the Measures of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had not under his control the same extensive funds which his successor was able to use in many cases for the benefit of the country. He was one of those who desired to compliment the Vice President for the ingenuity of the scheme by which he proposed to define necessity in relation to Board School districts. He wished, however, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he had considered the case of those districts where a rate of 3d. in the pound produced less than 1s. per child in average attendance? He had discovered two such districts, and there were a great main more just upon the border line which might at any moment pass that line. In the two cases he had discovered the rate of 3d. in the pound produced less than 1s. per child in average attendance. What was the result? It was that the more extravagant the School Boards were, the more money they spent, the less they would have to contribute themselves, and the only limit to their possible extravagance was the 2s. 5d. limit of rate. Some steps should be taken to guard against such instances as that. While he, for his part, heartily approved of the ingenious arrangement for estimating the necessity of the Board Schools, he could not see why School Boards should receive only 1s. 8d. per scholar on the number in average attendance, whereas the Voluntary Schools received 5s. per scholar. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had made an admission which wild horses would not have dragged from him during the discussions on the Voluntary Schools Bill. The noble Lord had stated that this Measure was a departure from the principle of the Act of 1870, which established equality as between the two classes of schools. He took it that so far as that statement was correct it was a valuable admission. But, as a matter of fact, what the Act of 1870 did was this, it was to establish equality between all classes of districts. It did not proceed upon the school as a unit but upon the school district. What was the proposal in the present Bill? That certain School Board districts were to recive an average grant of 1s. 8d. per child. Under the Voluntary Schools Bill every Voluntary School 572 district received an average grant of 5s. per child. He did not stand there so much to argue the case of the ratepayers as a whole. He argued the case as a ratepayer in a particular district. Why should a ratepayer in a School Board district receive less relief, or, rather, have to bear a heavier school charge than another ratepayer in a Voluntary School district? The burden of education was primarily a district charge. The Government in their last Bill distinguished between district and district, and they laid it down that certain districts should receive, at the expense of the taxpayers, greater relief than other districts. This Bill was intended to remedy that discrepancy of charge on the districts. It only remedied it in the case of the School Board districts to the extent of one-third, the relief given being 1s. 8d. per child instead of 5s. He did not think any reason had been given why exactly the same amount should not be allocated to the School Boards as was allocated to the Voluntary Schools, although the suggestion made by the right lion. Gentleman for dividing the money was at first sight a valuable one. His criticism went to two points; first, that the Bill did not give enough, and secondly, that the amount of relief given should be in respect of the actual amount paid by the ratepayers and not the nominal amount of the rate. In the Agricultural Rates Bill of last year they on that side of the' House raised the point many times in Committee as to whether the amount given—as they said—to the landlords was to be half of the nominal amount of the rates, or half the actual amount paid, because the two amounts differed. The Government in giving relief to the landlords determined they would give half the maximum amount. He appealed on behalf of the School Boards that the same measure of justice should be meted out to them, and the very same method adopted in relation to this Measure as was adopted in the Agricultural Rates Bill, School Boards receiving relief in respect of the actual amount paid by the ratepayers, and not in respect of the nominal amount stated.
MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said the lion. Member for West Ham had stated that the operation of this Bill would be such that districts which got little 573 under the last Bill would get a, great deal under this. That was not so. Take the case of Birmingham. It got little under the last Bill—considering its size and importance—only £7,000, but it would get nothing at all under this Bill. Again, London got £40,000 under the last Bill, which, taking into account the size of the metropolis, was very little, while under the present Bill it got nothing at all. He was not able to eulogise the Bill so freely as some hon. Members on both sides of the House had done. He believed the principle of the Bill was not right, and he believed the total amount given was altogether inadequate. The principle did not work out nearly so equally or evenly as had been generally supposed. Take as an example the hard case of London in this matter. The lion. Member for Poplar said that London had contributed one-fifth or one-sixth of all that had been given under the last Bill and of all that had been given under this Bill. London had done more. He believed that London had paid one-fourth of all that had been given; and, even more, the ratepayers of London had made contributions to the Voluntary Schools under the last Bill which amounted to something like £14,000 or £15,000. So that, in addition to the contribution which, was given by the Treasury to the Voluntary Schools, the ratepayers of London had to give another contribution of £15,000 to the Voluntary Schools. How did the London Board Schools fare? In the London Board Schools there were 415,000 scholars. There were 178,000 scholars in Voluntary Schools, and the subscribers contributed £60,000. London Voluntary Schools would receive relief to the amount of £45,000, but London Board Schools would receive nothing. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not find means of dealing with the case of London. The rates on the London Board Schools amounted to £94,000; and if the Government wanted to acknowledge the great work done for education by the London ratepayers let them pay this sum out of the Imperial Exchequer. There were a great many necessitous Board Schools in London. Why was nothing to be done for them? The argument was that because there were certain more fortunate districts in London, they should bear the burden of the poor school districts. But surely if they applied this theory to the 574 rich ratepayers they should apply it equally to the rich subscribers. The Government did not ask the rich subscriber to go to the relief of the Voluntary Schools, but they thought it fair that the rich ratepayer should carry the burden of the schools in the poor districts. The well-to-do ratepayer had done his duty already. He had not only provided schools for his own district, but had provided schools in the poor districts of the East End. He got absolutely nothing from the Government, but a fresh burden was flung upon him. The rich subscriber had not done his duty because he had not helped the poor schools, and yet all the favours of the Government were reserved for him. Primâ facie a great deal more relief ought to be given to Board Schools in poor districts than to poor Voluntary Schools, because, looking at the two systems broadly, the Board Schools developed in places where there were not sufficient subscribers to erect schools voluntarily. The Bill was based on a wrong principle. They ought to give 5s. per child for every scholar in Board Schools, just as they had given it in the ease of Voluntary Schools.
SIR J. GORST
replied to various questions put to him. He had been asked what he meant by speaking of the rate levied. He hoped he did not use that expression, because the rate was neither the rate levied nor the rate paid, but the rate specified and described in the 97th Section of the Act of 1870. That rate was subject to two conditions. First, it must be required; and that had been interpreted to mean needed for the annual expenses of School Boards; and, secondly, it must be actually paid to the School Board by the rating authority. When he spoke of the sliding scale and of the amount of assistance depending upon the amount of the rate, he ought to have explained that by that he meant not the rate levied, not the rate paid, but the rate which was needed for the annual expenses of the Board and which was actually paid by the rating authority to the treasurer of the Board.
* SIR C. DILKE
So that arrears on the one side and money carried forward to balance on the other are excluded?
SIR J. GORST
Yes; it was merely the rate needed for the actual expenses of the year. The right hon. Baronet had asked why the scale stopped at 2s. 6d. 575 The answer was, first, that, so far as they were aware, there never had been a, rate needed for the annual expenses of a School Board of more than 2s. 5d. The next reason was that they thought that the school rate itself ought to stop at 2s. 6d. ["Hear, hear!"] Let the Committee consider the case of a very poor district with a 2s. 6d. rate. So far from there being any case of a rate of 3d. in the pound producing less than 1s. per child, he was told that there was no case—possibly with one exception—where such a rate produced less than 3s. per child. A half-crown rate at the rate of 3s. per child for 3d. in the pound levied would produce 30s. per child. Then there would be the subsidy under this Bill of 16s. 6d., less 3s.; so that the total sum which the School Board would get would be 43s. 6d. per child. That, he believed, was a sum quite largo enough to cover any possible case which might arise; and that was the only reason he could give for stopping the rate at 2s. 6d.
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give a Return showing how the scheme would work out before the Second Reading?
SIR J. GORST
said he would be very glad to give any Return which could be laid before Parliament. But there were 769 School Boards in the country, and if they delayed the Second Reading until the Education Department had worked out the way in which the Bill would operate in every one of these districts, he was afraid they would have to delay the Second Reading for a very long time.
said he had no desire to delay the Second Reading, and should be glad to see it taken as soon as possible, but ho hoped the right hon. Gentleman would lay some Papers on the Table in order that, they might, be able to see more in detail how the scheme would work out.
* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
said that a short time ago he was present when a powerful deputation laid before leading Members of the Government the case of the necessitous Board Schools, and he remembered that the hon. Member for West Ham was their spokesman, and presented the case with great force and ability. He thought the Members of that deputation would be very much disappointed to read the speech he had just made, and found that he was 576 prepared to accept almost cheerfully this Measure, and was even anxious to hurry it on to the Statute Book. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester complained that the Measure contained no conditions on which the grant was to be made, and insisted strongly that there should be some guarantee that the moneys so granted would be used for the purpose of promoting the efficiency of the schools. Now he recalled the fact that when the Voluntary Schools Bill was before the House they, on the Opposition side, expressed anxiety of the same kind; but they were met with only vague phrases. They were asked, to have the fullest confidence in the Education Department. He congratulated the Vice President on his reappearance in his proper place as Minister of Education. But he was not able to congratulate him on his speech, for a less adequate or less enthusiastic speech on such a subject he had never heard. He supposed if the right hon. Gentleman spoke frankly he would say it was impossible to be enthusiastic in introducing such a Measure as this. Perhaps he anticipated what the First Lord said subsequently, that this Bill, like the Bill which preceded it, did not profess to be an Education Bill—that they were both simply money Bills. That in his opinion was not their defence, but their condemnation, and he was glad hon. Members opposite, as well as on his own side, had expressed disappointment that the Government had not handled the question in a bolder and more comprehensive Measure. He suspected that originally the Government had no intention of introducing this Measure, but were forced into it by public opinion. During the Debates on the first Bill they were bidden to wait until the Government had an opportunity of fulfilling their promise to introduce a Measure for the relief of necessitous Board Schools. The Government had fulfilled their promise by the miserably inadequate Measure now before the Committee. Look at the different effects following the passing of the two Measures. In a large number of cases subscriptions to Voluntary Schools would cease, for they would no longer be necessary, managers obtaining all they wanted from the State; but in the case of ratepayers no such relief would be given. In some cases under the 577 Bill ratepayers would get no relief at all, notably in London; and in other cases they would get very inadequate relief. Why was this distinction made between the two classes of supporters of the schools of the country? The answer would he that the School Hoards had the rates to fall back upon, and lion. Members talked about rates as if they came down from Heaven or were dug out of the bowels of the earth; but the money came equally from the pockets of ratepayers as subscriptions came from the pockets of subscribers; but with this difference, that subscribers contributed or nut just as they chose, and gave such an amount as they thought proper according to their means; while quite otherwise was the position of the ratepayer, who contributed because he was compelled to do so by law, and in very many eases his contribution was far in excess of his means; simply because circumstances compelled him to occupy a highly-rented house, or, if a shopkeeper, the exigencies of his business compelled him to occupy highly-rented, and highly-rated premises. The Bill must be regarded as the Voluntary Schools Bill was regarded, as showing the bitter animus of the Government against School Boards, and he was justified in indulging in that suspicion by the frank avowal of the First Lord of the Treasury when the Education Bill was before the House last Session. The greatest possible discontent would be created by this proposal, because of its different effect in different localities. The London ratepayers in particular would call to account their representatives who sat on the other side of the House, and who had preserved a significant silence during this discussion. There would lie the greatest dissatisfaction among the supporters of Board Schools when they found that, while Voluntary Schools had full consideration from the Government and were liberally dealt with, the popular, un-sectarian Board Schools had flung to them the smallest possible amount the Government could give. ["Hear, hear!"]
* MR. ALFRED BILLSON (Halifax)
had tried to work out how the Bill would operate in a concrte case, and had taken his constituency of Halifax, and he would slate what appeared to be the result. By the 97th Section of the present Act, if the 3d. rate did not bring in 7s. 6d. it 578 had to be made up, and by the new proposal there was to be added 4d. per child to the 7s. 6d. for every penny of the rate above 3d. In Halifax the rate was 14d., and there would therefore be added eleven times fourpeuce to make up the normal figure. Three and eightpence added to 7s. 6d. made up 11s. 2d., and if the 3d. rate did not produce 11s. 2d., the Exchequer would pay the difference. Now in Halifax 11s. 2d. per child on 8,800 children brought in £4,900, and if the 3d. rate did not produce that, the Exchequer would make up the difference. It only brought in £4,200, so that if the calculation was right it would appear that Halifax would get about £700, which was not quite equal to a ½d. rate. There was a certain force in the remark of his hon. Friend that while voluntary subscribers were going to be relieved of all future subscriptions, for that was what it would do, ratepayers would get little or no relief, for the ratepayers in Halifax who now paid l4d. would still go on paying 13½d. This would not satisfy Halifax, and he could not but think there were many other constituencies who would feel they were not properly dealt with. He could not help thinking there was a great deal of force in what his hon. Friend had said, that the two Bills well illustrated the animus of the Government against Board Schools. In two villages, if the one had a School Board and the other had not, the village without a School Board would have all its education expenses found, and the ratepayers of the other village would still have to pay, and, naturally, the tendency all over the country would be to do without School Boards; and similarly, in neighbouring towns there would be the greatest discontent where the one had a School Board and the other had not. It would be seen in a few days how things would work out in other constituencies, and if the result was similar to that in Halifax the Bill would receive very little popular support.
MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said the figures just given showed how in some respects unjustly the proposal would work; but he passed from, details to the general question involved in the Resolution. As he understood, it would not be in order for any Member to move to increase the amount hereafter, 579 and this was the opportunity to make a protest against the inadequacy of the sum allocated. He shared the general disappointment at the inadequacy of the amount, and coupling this proposal with the amount, given to Voluntary Schools it was perfectly evident the Government had made a mere pretence of redeeming their pledge. If that pledge had been redeemed in the spirit it was understood as given, Board Schools would receive a very much larger share of public money than was represented by the Resolution. Board Schools were under public control, and Boards were responsible to the ratepayers, who would not permit sectarian religious teaching, and so they were to be treated on a very different footing indeed from sectarian schools. The proposal would bear with particular harshness and injustice upon Wales, especially south Wales, where there were a large number of Board Schools, because, when the time came to work out the way in which Board Schools in Wales would receive money under the Act, it would be shown that Wales as a whole would have most unjust treatment. As a matter of fact, if the distribution were exactly equal in Wales and England, Wales would on the present basis receive much less than the Principality was entitled to, as shown by his hon. Friend the Member for Glamorgan, on the basis of population, and would still further suffer owing to the fact that so many of the schools in Wales were Board Schools. He refrained from expressing what was in his mind with regard to the utter meanness and shabbiness of this proposal, and the treatment of Board Schools in a year when the national revenue so largely exceeded expenditure, that the Government would have a balance of two millions to do what they liked with. To give a miserable sum of £110,000 to Board Schools while millions were being spent in warlike expenditure, and millions more would be asked for, was not only mean, but extremely short-sighted. The country would suffer in the future from the policy of starving education for the sake of militaryism. It was time a strong protest was made against this, and he was sure the common sense of the country would declare that Board Schools were being treated in a manner utterly unworthy of the House of Commons and the 580 present financial position of the Exchequer.
§ SIR JOHN BAKER (Portsmouth)
had listened with great attention to the proposal of the Government, and regretted extremely that it was a bitter disappointment to Members on either side and educationalists generally. Unquestionably the hope of liberality towards necessitous Board Schools, and the sympathy expressed for them, added to the support given to the Voluntary Schools Bill. The Government had lost a golden opportunity to recover the confidence of educationalists, and their ridiculously inadequate proposal would be received with contempt throughout the country. Large School Boards, including London, would have no interest in the Bill. In the large town he had the honour to represent there were no more denominational schools than there were 25 years since. The ratepayers had spent £400,000 on education, and were now paying 1s. in the pound rates for maintenance of schools, with a capital behind them of £300,000, which would have to be paid by present and succeeding ratepayers. Why should they not be considered when relief was being given from public resources to denominational schools? They had a much stronger claim to relief than many of the districts which would be granted relief under the Voluntary Schools Bill, and for the very reason that large communities, which were mainly composed of working people, were continually increasing the educational facilities in their midst. An increase of 2,000 or 3,000 in the population every year necessitated a heavier rate upon the community. The relief afforded under the Bill just passed did not affect such a community as he represented in the slightest degree, but left it in a worse position than it was in before. He trusted the Government would reconsider the main principles of the Measure and make a grant which would afford satisfaction to the supporters of the Board Schools. The Leader of the House had referred to the allegation that relief of rates in urban districts was a grant to the landowners and property owners. There was not a vestige of truth in that allegation. In urban districts the rates fell on the tenants. In the case of a few rack-rented tenements in respect of which weekly rents were paid, the landlord 581 might impose on the tenants a slight additional rent, but in the large communities such practice prevailed, and as rates increased they fell wholly upon the tenants. A landlord would no more flunk of reducing the rents because there was an increase of rates than lie would of raising them because there was a decrease of rates. The case was totally different to that under the Agricultural Rating Act. He trusted that the large centres of labouring population who were affected by the School Board rate so seriously would receive the same measure of relief as was granted under the Voluntary Schools Bill.
MR. JOHN BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)
hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would give them some further information as to how he arrived at the 4d. scale. The position of School Boards in relation to one another was now very much more unsatisfactory than it had been for some time past, and therefore it was very necessary that everything should be made plain. He feared that there would be a strong tendency on the part of districts to lower their rateable value as much as they could in the hope that they might get the relief provided by the Bill.
MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
was surprised that the Government had not availed themselves of the opportunity of giving 5s. per head per child in average attendance at necessitous Board Schools. It was quite evident that the Government had an animus against School Boards in the matter of money. It was well known that relief was given to the Voluntary Schools because of the intolerable strain of the competition between the two sets of schools; indeed, it was admitted that it was not sufficient to give a grant to the Voluntary Schools, but that something must be done to break down the competition of the Board Schools. The Government, acting on the principle of having no sympathy with the Board Schools, to put it no higher than that, 582 had resolved to appropriate only an additional £110,000 for the Board Schools as against £600,000 for the Voluntary Schools. It had been said that the relief of the Board Schools was of a different nature to that of the Voluntary Schools. He was amazed that the present Government should take up the position that the local ratepayer was not a person requiring relief. What did they do in 1888? They gave millions of money in relief of local rates, because they said the local ratepayer was overburdened. The ratepayer did not mind whether, say, 2s. relief was given for education, public health purposes, or what. The burden to a ratepayer was the amount of money he had to pay without reference to the particular object for which the money was paid. Were they to understand that relief of local rates in future was not to be determined according to the necessities and exigencies of the locality? If they were to adopt a principle of that kind in regard to education they might fairly say they would apply it in respect to the seven or ten millions of money given every year, it had been said that the cost of education in England had increased very much since 1870. So it had. It had been pointed out that in 1870 it was estimated that a 3d. rate would be sufficient to cover the cost of education. That was so; but since 1870 the whole tendency of feeling in England had been to increase the expenditure upon education. The Education Department had made increased demands not only upon Board Schools but upon Voluntary Schools, and thus increased the cost. The Vice President of the Council had spoken of the increase of the teachers' salaries in late years. That increase was due to the ordinary cause of supply and demand, and he was surprised the right hon. Gentleman did not admit that England, in regard to her teaching staff, stood in a most peculiar position. In any other calling there was an open market, but not so as regarded teachers. A limit 583 was placed upon the output of teachers simply because it was pretended there was a lack of accommodation in the training colleges. The number of teachers was purposely restricted, and the consequence was that the teachers demanded high salaries, and often managers were obliged to have recourse to inferior teachers. He denied that the English School Boards were extravagant in their expenditure, and as to the taking of the Second Reading of the Bill of which this resolution was a preliminary, he maintained that there was no necessity to take the Measure hurriedly. In the case of the Voluntary Schools Bill it was necessary to get the associations, which were so material a part of the Measure, in working order before the financial year expired; but in this case School Boards were already in existence, and therefore there was no need to push the Bill forward with undue haste. It had been stated that the cost of education should be defrayed entirely from Imperial funds. That was an impracticable idea; it was an idea which was opposed to the interests of education, because in educational matters it was always well to keep up the interest of the parents and of the local ratepayers.
§ Resolved, That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of an addition to the grant payable to School Boards, under Section Ninety-seven of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, by increasing the sum of seven shillings and sixpence therein mentioned by four-pence for every complete penny by which the rate therein mentioned exceeds three-pence; Provided that the said sum as so increased shall not exceed sixteen shillings and sixpence.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Thursday.