§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. STEPHEN CAVE
said, he wished to make an explanation. In the course of the debate yesterday, he quoted some facts from a printed Paper, relating to the Presbyterians in the North of Ireland, and commented upon them. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) afterwards charged him with misquoting; and as he (Mr. S. Cave) had read the Paper hurriedly, and quoted merely from memory, he bowed to the hon. Gentleman's correction. On looking at the Paper again this morning, however, he found that he had really quoted from it correctly, and that the hon. Member for Liverpool must have supposed him to have been quoting from some other paper. The matter was not of very much consequence; but he thought it right to vindicate what he had said, as he felt strongly that any misquotation from carelessness was only a degree better than dishonesty in argument.
§ Clause 7 (Regulations for conduct of public elementary schools).
LORD ROBERT MONTAGU moved, in page 3, sub-Section 4, line 28, after "conditions," insert "contained in the Schedule to this Act, and which are." The noble Lord said the Amendment was not contrary to the principles laid down by the Government, and he therefore hoped that the Government would accept it. A short time ago the Prime Minister proposed a compromise in three parts, two of which were concessions to hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side of the House, while the third was a concession offered as a make-weight to the Conservatives. The first concession was the adoption of the Amendment of the right hon. Member
for South. Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), while the second was a proposal that the managers of voluntary schools should have no connection with the school Boards; or in other words that they should receive no assistance out of the rates. Those were concessions to hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side of the House, and they were both made permanent and put into the Bill. The third concession, or makeweight for the Conservatives, was the proposal that in future the voluntary schools and the rate-paid schools should all receive an increase not exceeding 50 per cent of their grant. That increased grant would be a great assistance to the schools, and it would be a fair and just concession; but it ought, like the others, to be made permanent, and put into the Bill. It was only just that they should be equally permanent and secure. If it was not so treated, they would have a feverish agitation next year, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) had promised them. That agitation would be injurious both to the cause of education and to the country generally. The whole question would then be re-opened with great bitterness and ill-feeling. He ventured to remind the Prime Minister of the little coldness—he would not call it schism—which existed between the Ministerial party above the Gangway and the larger party sitting below the Gangway. Now, the cause of that coolness the right hon. Gentleman, he had no doubt, desired to remove; the serious wound in his party he surely wished to heal. But how was this to be done? how was the ulcerous sore of agitation to be removed? If, having made one part of the compromise permanent in the Bill, he would do the same by the other part, he trusted that, the whole matter being finally settled, and there being no object for agitation, the great Liberal party might be again re-united. But let him suppose that that party became re-united, by some miraculous means, without the adoption of such a course, although the cause of irritation still remained; then the new Code, when it was placed on the Table, would be rejected by the House, and the consequence would be that hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway would get their half of the compromise, while the other half would be lost to those who sat on the Opposition Benches.
The rate would then become very high, in every parish in England, and odium would thereby be cast on the whole measure. As to the voluntary schools, if they were deprived of the maximum grant of 50 per cent, while they lost those other sources of income on which they had hitherto relied, they would be starved out, and the Bill would be a measure not to complete, but entirely to supersede the existing system. That was his first reason for desiring that that portion of the new Revised Code which related to the conditions on which the grants were to be given should be put into one of the Schedules of the Bill. Secondly: if that were not done, there would be a perpetual liability to change by the Education Department or by the House. The Minister at the Department might have different views, or might simply be given to change. The agitation out-of-doors, which had been promised, might force a change on the Minister. Yet surely those who for 40 years had, with their own resources, fought the battle of education, had a better right to fixity of tenure than those indolent, squalid persons whom the Prime Minister had that year taken under his protection. The evils of insecurity or liability to change were known in every pursuit. In trade and mercantile enterprises, the least likelihood of change put an end to energy. Nothing—he had the authority of the Home Secretary and of the Colonial Minister for saying, stood so much in the way of educational progress as that want of confidence which fear of change engendered. The concluding words of the Report of 1865–6 were these—
Nothing has stood, and nothing now stands more in the way of progress than the want of confidence engendered by frequent changes.
All the Inspectors in 1865–6 had reported that this sense of insecurity was detrimental. That was his second reason for desiring that the new Code should be embodied in the Act. In the third place, the Vice President of the Council had stated, in answer to the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. Dalrymple), that he could not lay upon the Table the alterations which were to be made in the Revised Code because he did not know what the conditions of the Bill would be when it became law. Now, if the new Code was to depend upon the Bill, the Bill depended upon the Code; and the Code might
be so framed as to change the character of the Bill. The Committee were, therefore, asked to legislate on the subject in the dark. The House had a right to demand that the new Code should be placed before them as a guide for their present proceedings, instead of deferring its consideration to another Session, when the Bill would be law, and the present details and difficulties would be forgotten; but the promised agitation would be rampant and distracting. Another reason for pressing the Amendment was that the Bill already gave too large powers to the Education Department. He alluded to the powers of the Department whenever a school Board was "in default." If the school Boards, for example, did not carry out the behests of the Department, the latter could then appoint persons to erect buildings for schools, and all the expenses which they chose to incur would have to be paid out of the rates. So, again, all the 13,000 to 15,000 bodies of legal trustees throughout the country were to be swept away under the new system, and the Education Department was to take their place. He did not desire that these powers should be absolutely taken out of the Bill; but he thought what he had urged showed, to say the least, the desirableness of rendering the present compromise permanent by inserting it in the Bill. If the Education Department were a permanent body, the country might trust it; but it was, as the House knew, an offshoot of party government, and the appointment of the heads of the Department was made to relieve the exigencies of a Minister. If the House desired to avoid agitation and the re-opening of the question next year; if they desired to unite the Liberal party; if they desired to stop frequent changes in order to promote the progress of education; if they desired not to legislate in the dark; if they feared the absolute powers of the Department, they must have the Revised Code inserted in the Bill so far, at least, as it related to the grants.
said, the Motion of the noble Lord was not very kind as regarded the Bill, nor did it correspond with the very humane sentiments towards the measure which the noble Lord expressed on the previous night. He felt bound, at the same time, to say that the humanity of the noble Lord towards the Liberal party was such as 1094 to demand his immediate and warm recognition. The noble Lord compassionated them on the state of schism in which he found them; and, after listening to his observations, it would appear as if he had derived his inspiration from having observed what had occurred three nights ago in "another place;" and as if he had acquired from that occurrence a very lively sense of the mischiefs which resulted from divisions in a party. He was glad, however, to think that there was no occasion for the apprehensions of the noble Lord in the present instance; for, so far as he could see, there appeared to him to be a growing disposition on all sides to concur as far as possible in the main provisions of the Bill, with a view to passing it into law in the present Session. He fully believed, he might add, notwithstanding the Motion just made by the noble Lord, that he, too, was in favour of the passing of the measure. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: Hear, hear!] He was sorry, however, the noble Lord should have thought fit to make the remarks which he had made with respect to the prospects of an agitation springing up on the subject of the sustenance of voluntary schools, it being the object of his Amendment, he said, to obviate any such risk. He did not believe in this agitation. When Parliament had well and carefully defined the amount of assistance which it was proposed to afford to voluntary schools; when they had stipulated—as he hoped they would, that the object of that assistance should be simply to promote elementary training in secular instruction; when they had coupled that with the condition that such training should be of an efficient kind, and that the schools in which it was given should contain ample provisions for liberty of conscience, he felt satisfied they might dismiss all apprehensions of the agitation to which the noble Lord referred. If, however, such an agitation were apprehended, the Motion of the noble Lord would be the means of antedating and inflaming it. He did not question the sincerity of the noble Lord; but this was the 28th of June, and to ask the Government, after the Bill had gone through Committee, to frame minute regulations under which aid would have to be distributed to the voluntary schools would involve the expenditure of so much time that it 1095 would be impossible to pass the Bill this Session. Of course, it was desirable that the promoters of voluntary schools should have full confidence in the general principles on which Parliament proceeded; and the Government admitted the necessity of the Motion of the ton. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), and of showing that it was in the mind, of Parliament, as a part of the measure, to provide increased means for the support of voluntary schools. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) had wisely limited himself to a demand of that kind, and did not expect more than that Parliament should show what was in its mind as to future aid, whether to voluntary or rate-aided schools. While the proposal of the noble Lord was fatal to the Bill on the score of time, the cumbrous process he suggested did not provide the desired security and certainty, which could only be afforded by setting out in the Bill the whole of the conditions upon which State aid was to be administered, and likewise by providing that the disbursements necessary for the purpose of affording that aid should be charged upon the Consolidated Fund. The noble Lord had not ventured to suggest that, after the adoption for 40 years of the system of an annual Vote which, on the one hand, was found to give adequate confidence to the promoters of schools all over the country, and, on the other hand, secured the control of this House over the disbursement of a very much larger amount of public money, the House should now abandon that control, and should pass an Act charging future educational grants upon the Consolidated Fund. Did the noble Lord really think that the machinery of education in voluntary schools had reached such a state that anyone could say there was no reason to expect any further change? Was it not a fact that for 30 years we had been learning from experience, and had been feeling our way towards a good system? At one time attempts were made by a very elaborate machinery to make an efficient provision for education in voluntary schools. At another time, by means of the Revised Code, an attempt was made to simplify the action of that machinery. The noble Lord said that attempt had failed. If so, it was the best argument against his Motion and against the attempt to stereotype now that which 1096 ought to be kept in the hands of Parliament, and moulded according to the teaching of experience. If the Motion were carried, the noble Lord would only succeed in making a most inconvenient arrangement, rendering necessary constant resort to this House for the purpose of making changes in detail; whereas the method of proceeding should be a flexible one. While, therefore, fully admitting the reasonableness of giving some indication of the general policy which was proposed by Parliament, an indication upon which parties might at any time fall back for protection from a capricious exercise of discretion, possibly by a single executive officer, in limitation of the wishes of Parliament, he hoped the Motion would not be pressed.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he had not ventured to use the language of menace; but he had thought it fair to say, on behalf of himself and others, that they did not accept the principle of increased grants to the existing denominational schools. He was not quite so much afraid of agitation as the noble Lord seemed to be. "Agitation" was a word generally used by Gentlemen who were afraid of public discussion; it was a word of opprobrium employed with reference to public discussion by Gentlemen who did not like this discussion, and thought it might turn against them. A six months' agitation on this question would prove whether he and those who thought with him were right or wrong. Disapproving of these increased denominational grants, he said fairly he should use every opportunity that offered of opposing them. Meanwhile, like reasonable men, they made the best of the situation. They tried for what they wanted, and took what they could get, not wishing to obstruct the progress of this measure; but it was only fair that the Gentlemen with whom he acted should reserve to themselves the right of dissenting from the principle of increased grants to denominational schools. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government censured him the other day rather severely, saying he understood him to say that the Amendment of the right hon. Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple) was pure and undiluted denominationalism. That was a mistake. The Amendment was intended to temper the denominational system; 1097 and he said that the effects of a combination of the two systems would be to increase the growth of the denominational system.
said, that though he commented on the speech of his hon. and learned Friend, according to what appeared to be its plain meaning, he accepted with satisfaction the true construction which the hon. and learned Member had now given of his meaning, and that he did not now see in the Bill the character which he thought he had seen in it.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he would be the last person to throw any obstacle in the way of the passing of the present measure; but, at the same time, he thought he was justified in pressing the Vice President of the Council to give some assurance that, while concessions were made to one party, the other party should not be left in future years to the tender mercies of some other Vice President, who might entertain different intentions from those now expressed on the part of the Government. He believed that if the minimum as well as the maximum amount of aid were stated in the Bill, a provision of that kind would give satisfaction.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he was as anxious as anyone to see the Bill passed this Session; but he could not assent to the argument of the Prime Minister that want of time justified them in abstaining from doing what was really just. The Prime Minister also stated that the Code was of such a complicated nature and so full of minutiœ that if they attempted to put it in the Bill then the measure would fail of having that elasticity necessary for carrying out the new system of education. Nevertheless, though the minute points of the Code were not put in the Bill, still its main and broad principles might be sot forth, so as to prevent any future Vice President of the Council from treating one set of schools in a different way from another set. There ought to be some security that the grants would be made to all schools upon a similar scale and on similar conditions. He had therefore put some words on the Paper, but they would be considered in an after part of the Bill.
agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu), that all con- 1098 cerned with voluntary schools should have some fixed knowledge of what amount of aid they were to receive. He had had the management of a voluntary school for a great many years, and had watched the Reports of that school; and he had found that one of his greatest difficulties arose from the uncertainty of the receipts from the Education Department. Those receipts had varied from £29 a year to £7 a year; and in a small school, where the total expense did not much exceed £100 a year, not to know whether a portion of the receipts was to be as low as £7 or as high as £29 constituted a great difficulty. In fact, the school managers did not know what to do. He was rejoiced that some addition was to be made to the grants for voluntary schools, though he was surprised at the amount of the maximum of 50 per cent, which was about 15s. per head per child, because the school with which he was connected had been in the habit of receiving only 3s. or 4s. per head per child. As 15s. constituted the maximum, probably the actual aid would not be much greater than the school had hitherto received; but he should like to see something in the Bill on the subject. Then, as representing a large body of Nonconformists, he thought it was important that these matters should be laid down with some little accuracy. What was the amount to be charged on the Consolidated Fund? What was the amount which they would be called on to contribute? The right hon. Gentleman did not state what was the number of schools, nor what was the amount of grants, and without these matters they were working in the dark. He would not give any vote to delay the Bill, and he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, with regard to the amount which was to be charged on the Consolidated Fund, he did not know what it was nor did he know what it would be. The amount depended entirely on what Parliament would do. His first objection to the noble Lord's (Lord E. Montagu's) Motion was that this was not the time for it. Clause 7 stated that one of the conditions to be observed in the management of an elementary school was, that it was to be conducted in accordance with the conditions attached to the Parliamentary Grant, which meant that it must 1099 be carried on in accordance with the Code. This Bill was divided into two parts; the second part related to the grant and the Code; and the proper time for considering the noble Lord's Motion would, therefore, be when the Committee came to deal with the second part of the Bill. A second objection to having the Code embodied in a Bill was, that it was advisable, through the revision of the Code, to utilize information obtained as to the working of it, and in that way to stimulate the progress of education. The noble Lord said that he (Mr. Forster) ought to be able to frame a Code before the Bill left the House, and that if he (Mr. Forster) could not do it, he (Lord R. Montagu) could. He did not think the noble Lord overrated his own knowledge and experience, although undoubtedly he had far overrated the knowledge and capacity of him (Mr. Forster). The Department had now to consider carefully all the information obtained during the last five or six years, as to the effect of the Code as revised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the respects in which it had failed to answer the expectations formed at the time of its revision; and he had not been able, in addition to framing this Bill, to go through the labour of adapting the Code to the Bill, a work which would require the greatest thought and care. The Government would be acting unjustly if they did not consider how any increase of the grant could be spent with the greatest advantage to the cause of education. The money was not to be given for the sake of giving it, but for value received; and the Department might be to blame if they did not do more than the percentage of good represented by the additional grant. If, however, the principles on which the Code was to be revised were to be embodied in the Bill, the proper place to do that would be in Clause 82; and before the Committee came to that clause the Government would be prepared to deal with the question. There was no intention to make any difference between the grants to different kinds of schools; they did not mean that they would necessarily be the same, but that all schools would have the same opportunity of earning them, and the amounts they obtained would depend upon their qualifications. The Department must hold to the great principle of results; and it was impos- 1100 sible to say what was the minimum any school might earn.
§ MR. PELL
said, it was necessary to clear up a point with reference to the proffered increase of the grant; and in elucidation of that point he read the following extract from a letter from a gentleman who had charge of a school in his own county:—We are at a loss to know what Mr. Gladstone means by saying he will increase the Government Grant 50 per cent. Do, please, ask if possible. He assumes (correctly enough), that the average cost per child is 30s.; but he says that the grant is one-third of this sum, and will be increased by one half of this third—i.e., in all 50 per cent, or 15s. per head. Clear enough, only that at present by the Revised Code we are actually entitled to, and do receive, if earned 16s. per head. See the Code. For instance, I have got within the last few days £70 grant, and our school pence and contributions equalled about £71. Hence we got about 50 per cent. Possibly he means in poorer parishes there will be less stringency and more liberality, so that those who might now get 50 per cent, but practically get 33 only, would really get the 50. If so, the Code must be revised; but it ought to be understood that ha is not really increasing the terms of the Revised Code, but leaving it stationary with most schools, and only making its maximum attainable in others. So that we have little to be thankful for.The parts of the Code referred to were Sections 40, 44, and 52; and the last of these implied that the rate might be 15s. per scholar, according to the average attendance. Suppose a school with 60 scholars on the roll, and an average attendance of 40; the earnings of 40 at 4s. each would be £8; suppose 50 to pass in all subjects, they would earn 8s. each, or £20, which would give a total of £28, and that would be an average of 14s. each for the 40. At this stage of the Bill it was desirable to have from the Government some clearer explanation of this so-called concession, as to whether it meant that more money was to be given, or that there was to be greater liberality in applying that already given.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he was not surprised that his noble Friend (Lord Robert Montagu) should have taken an opportunity of obtaining from the Government a more distinct assurance than the Committee had yet received with respect to the increase of the grants to voluntary schools, and he thought that his noble Friend had enforced his views in a becoming manner; but, on the whole, he did not think the Committee could receive a more satisfactory assurance from the 1101 Government in this debate than they had received. Considering the nature of the Bill before them, it must necessarily be a moral assurance. To suppose that any Government, much less one represented by the present Prime Minister, should have made the statement which they had made respecting these increased grants, and that in due season they should not stand to their guns, was really to suppose that the Public Business of this great country would be carried on by men actuated by very different principles and contrary sentiments to those recognized by both parties in the House. He hoped, therefore, that his noble Friend would hesitate before he asked the Committee to come to a Division on the subject, satisfied with having asked the House to state its opinions on the subject, totally irrespective of the particular mode of the scheme of time, although that question must have some influence when the House was dealing with matters of this importance. He confessed that he was not at present prepared to stereotype the Revised Code. He did not see, for instance, how it was to work as regarded certificated masters. The whole subject required time before the House could meet the exigencies of the case. Under the circumstances, he trusted that his noble Friend would not ask the House to come to a Division. It appeared to him that the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) was not altogether acquainted with the case. He appeared to think that the supporters of the voluntary system would, under the Government proposition, secure some pecuniary advantage. But the hon. and learned Gentleman must be labouring under an error, because the advantages of the proposal would not be confined to the voluntary schools, but would be shared in by all schools alike. Under these circumstances, he thought that the contemplated agitation in the autumn must be founded on some other principle. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford would be reduced to this alternative—an agitation which would ask the country to decide between the comparative merits and advantages of local rating, and the resources of the Consolidated Fund. He did not himself see in this issue any of the elements of national enthusiasm. Speaking, perhaps, from a longer experience of this particular sub- 1102 ject than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman had enjoyed, he was bound to express his belief that, if there were to be a competitive examination by the country of the respective merits of local rating and of the Consolidated Fund, the national verdict would be in favour of an attack being made upon that great fund which hitherto had been so popular with Ministers as a means of getting them out of difficulties, and of extricating them from perplexities out of which they saw no other means of escape.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that in consequence of the distinct and unequivocal assurance of the Prime Minister, he would follow the advice of the late Prime Minister, and would not give the Committee the trouble of dividing, but he would rather have his Amendment negatived than withdraw it.
§ Amendment negatived.
DR. BREWER moved, sub-Section 4, page 3, line 29, at end, add—
And the master or mistress of every rate-supported school shall keep a register of every admission and dismissal, which shall be laid before the school Board at every meeting thereof, and the register shall contain columns indicating the proficiency of the scholar leaving the school in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and certificates of such proficiency shall be given to the parent or guardian of such child on leaving.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that the Government would not be able to accept the Amendment; but he must also point out that this was not the proper clause in which to move it. He objected to the Amendment because he thought it unwise for Parliament to attempt to lay down for the Education Department rules affecting those details of management which ought to be left to its discretion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he should withdraw the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely—In any school assisted from public rates the religious instruction which may be given therein shall be confined to unsectarian instruction in the Bible;his intention being to vote for the Amendment on that subject in the name of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright). The other Amendment of which he had given Notice was the last relating to Clause 7. It was to this effect— 11035. In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department; and in case such school shall be in receipt of a Parliamentary Grant, provision shall in like manner be made for giving a proportionate share in the management of the school to the householders resident in the school district.He did not attach, great importance to the wording of the Amendment. He was quite willing to admit that it might be imperfect in its character, and he would accept any method of dealing with it consistent with the principle he intended to raise. The principle he asked the Committee to affirm was this—that in the case of every public elementary school in the country the parents should have some voice in its management. He could conceive no principle of more capital consequence than that. They were going to establish two classes of schools—one rate-aided schools, subject to the regulations with which they were familiar; and the other voluntary schools. That was not what they had wished; but, as reasonable men, they accepted the situation, and dealt with it as they found it. And with reference to what had been stated by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) as to the autumn platform, he ventured to observe that he did not altogether accept the situation he was good enough to offer. They were not going to agitate for local rates against the Consolidated Fund. They were quite willing to rob the Consolidated Fund, though, probably, the right hon. Gentleman, from his experience as Chancellor of the Exchequer, knew better how to do it than they did. They were ready to dispense altogether with rates, and take all that was necessary from the Consolidated Fund; but their principle was this—that neither from rates nor from the Consolidated Fund should money be applied to the extension and increase of the denominational system. That was the autumn platform, in the success of which, if the right hon. Gentleman would join them, he should feel assured. But, now, how were they to deal for the future with voluntary schools? On what footing were they to be? Did they, or did they not, intend to admit parents to any voice in their management—above all, in the choice of a schoolmaster, on which the future of their 1104 children so much depended? The Bill, as it at present stood, gave the subscribers who provided 20 per cent of the whole cost of the school the sole control of its arrangements, and would not permit the State, or the parents who provided the other 80 per cent, to have any voice in the matter. A Roman Catholic subscriber of one-sixth of the cost of the school could use the five-sixteenths supplied by the public to serve his own sectarian ends; and, besides this, a subscriber might even control the school in the matter of secular education, and possibly insist that the secular instruction should consist of nothing but Latin and Greek. He was aware that he should be told that, unless this provision was inserted, voluntary efforts would suffer discouragement; but he replied that, buying voluntary aid too dear, they were selling the birthright of British parents to control their children's education for a miserable mess of voluntary pottage. He believed that hon. Gentlemen opposite were as anxious to get the children to school as he was, only they thought there was a better method than compulsion. Well, then, what better method could there be than to give parents confidence in the schools? And how were they to have confidence so fully as when they had a voice in the management? He did not want to exclude the landlord. He would give him a voice in due proportion to his liberality. But in this country there was as much absenteeism as in Ireland; and while the parishes where the landlords resided were petted and cockered, there were many educational Cinderellas who were left to pine in dust and ashes. Least of all did he wish to exclude the clergymen, who were usually the most intelligent men in the parish, and who were far from being so exclusive, especially the younger portion of the country clergy. The Government, he trusted, would expressly state their opinions on this subject, which had not been hitherto fully discussed. It was proposed to give to those who contributed only one-sixth of the cost the entire control of the schools, and this, in his judgment, was extremely unfair. He hoped the House would affirm the principle that the parents of the children attending a school ought always to be admitted to a share in its management. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he could not allow this Amendment to be put forward without stating that, according to his experience as a school manager, the proportions of the contributions to schools in the rural districts to the other means of support were very different from those put forward by the hon. and learned Member. If they put the proportions at 20, 40, and 60, he believed it would be found that the children's pence represented 20, the voluntary contributions 40, and the Government aid 60. The deductions from those figures was, that in such cases the voluntary contributors should be appointed managers, and not the parents of the children attending the schools.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that in that case they ought to know what the precise proportions were. Another strong practical objection to this Amendment would be that, according to it, the parents of the children to be taught would have the appointment of the school teacher. Now, the appointment of a teacher was no easy matter, and required a special kind of knowledge, which was not likely to be of avail if they were simply to consult the wishes of the parents.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he could not delay any longer the appeal that had been made to him by his hon. and learned Friend for his opinion on this question. He did not intend to reply to his hon. and learned Friend's objections to the increased grant, as there would be an opportunity of debating that point at a future stage of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member commenced by stating that he would not adhere strictly to the words of his Amendment, but that he stood by the principle; but surely it was highly desirable that the wording of practical Amendments should be precise. In fact, his hon. and learned Friend had found that his words would not do. This showed how difficult it was to frame words that would carry out the principle.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
rose to explain. His statement was, that he adhered to the words of his Amendment; but that if his right hon. Friend objected to them he should not be unwilling to substitute others. What he 1106 wanted to know was, whether his right hon. Friend objected to the principle of the Amendment?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that in the case of a great many schools there were no contributions whatever; and, consequently, according to the terms of the Amendment, the parents of the children attending them would have no share in the management. The Amendment went on to say—In case such school shall be in receipt of a Parliamentary Grant, provision shall in like manner be made for giving a proportionate share in the management of the school to the householders resident in the school district.This Amendment was proposed to a clause affecting schools which received Parliamentary Grants, and he confessed his inability to understand the distinction made by his hon. and learned Friend. In the latter part of the Amendment his hon. and learned Friend abandoned the parents and spoke only of the resident householders, so that a school might possibly be managed by people who neither contributed to its support nor sent their children to it. This showed the difficulty of settling a matter of this kind by Act of Parliament, instead of leaving it to the general feeling of the country; and if his hon. and learned Friend had had the experience which he himself happened to have had, first as a manager and then in connection with the Education Department, he would hardly have supported his proposal by the arguments which he had used. The hon. and learned Gentleman contended that the public should have a voice in the management of these schools, and they had. Large sums of money were contributed by the public towards their support, and they exercised, in his opinion, a much more powerful control over them by adhering to the system of strict inspection and payment by results than if they themselves were to step in and take a part in the daily management. But then his hon. and learned Friend said it was contrary to the principle that representation and taxation should go together, that the parents of children should have no voice in the control of the schools. The real question, however, was not one of taxation and representation, but of purchase and sale, and he could state from experience that the parents in a great number of instances used their right of 1107 purchase very fully indeed. It was even a not unfrequent complaint of the Inspectors that they used it to the disadvantage of education. Some parents were apt, for instance, to take their children from school for very slight causes, which had nothing to do with the religious difficulty. As matters stood, persons who did not possess much wealth, but who did possess much benevolence, found it necessary to bring in parents into the control; but he was sure it would not advance the object which his hon. and learned Friend had in view if he were to attempt to do that by law. The Privy Council said in those cases—"Provide us with good schools and give a good secular education, and we will pay you according to the result." Nor did he believe they would gain by becoming managers themselves, or by creating some sort of machinery to bring parents into the matter. He would, therefore, appeal to the Committee not to agree to the Amendment.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, that he thought those who sat on the Opposition Benches had some right to complain of the course which was taken by hon. Members sitting below the Gangway on the other side of the House. They had reason, for instance, to complain of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), who were constantly bringing forward cases which had, with rare exceptions, never occurred. Indeed, had not the religious difficulty been put in the mouths of the people, it would never have been heard of in the voluntary schools. It was, in his opinion, a most mischievous thing to tell the parents of those poor children that they ought to have a voice in the management of the schools. From his own experience, he could state that a great proportion of the children whom it was sought to educate were without the advantages of education because their parents had never received any education whatsoever, and never took the trouble to send them to school. If such parents were placed on the school Boards, he ventured to say that it would not be taking a step in the right direction. The voluntary schools, as had been acknowledged on all sides, had done their duty admirably, and if they were to be continued they ought to be encouraged.
§ MR. COWPER-TEMPLE
said, he could not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last, because he thought those parents who had no education themselves were often those who desired it most for their children. He thought it was a sound principle that all should have a voice in the school management who found any portion of the money, and that the school Boards should be composed partly of persons representing the subscribers, partly of persons elected by the parents whose children attended the school, and partly by nominees of the Government. Those who were interested in the operations of the school Boards were the most likely to take an active interest in the persons who were to constitute the Boards. He sympathized with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt) in the object of the Amendment; but he did not think they could adopt his words, and he did not see how they could adopt any form of words which would not be open to serious objection. He could not vote for the Amendment as it now stood, although he agreed with the principle of it.
§ MR. STAPLETON
said, he believed that great confusion would be introduced into the Bill by the adoption of the Amendment. The concessions made by the Vice President of the Council would be quite sufficient to meet the requirements of the case.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
said, the Vice President of the Council did not really apprehend the meaning and purpose of the Amendment, which was simply that those who were to use and pay for the schools should have some share in the management of the schools. Those who lived on the spot represented very fairly the taxpayers of the country, and it was just and reasonable that they should have a legal and avowed status in the management of the schools.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
said, he thought a strong case had been made out by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt). The Vice President knew well that the subscriptions to schools were very often mere shams; and, when they were real, were insignificant in amount, as compared with the school fees and the Government Grants. It appeared to him a monstrous thing that the parents of the children who contributed so much should have so small, and the subscribers who contributed so little 1109 should have so large, a share in the management.
said, nothing would be so fatal to the efficient conduct of a school as that the parents should have a share in managing it. The best proof of this was a case mentioned the other day, in which the inhabitants had in their hands the election of a schoolmaster, and by far the worst was chosen. If the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman were adopted, the principle must be carried further; and the great public schools—such as Eton, Rugby, and Harrow—must be managed by the parents of the children.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, they must keep before them the interests of education, rather than the forgotten theories of representation of two years ago. The question was how they could get the best schools, and how they could secure the best management? In many instances the parents would be labourers, hedgers, ditchers, and game watchers, who had never been to school in their lives. And were these the persons to manage schools—or was not more intelligence required than they could bring to the duty? As to their purchasing the education, they obtained three times the value they paid for. Besides, even if it were a purchase, the argument would not hold good; were those who purchased bread always to determine the size and price of the loaf? The principle set up in favour of the Amendment, was, moreover, not carried out by the Amendment itself. According to the principle, the Privy Council ought to appoint one-half the managers; for every one who contributed to the Consolidated Fund had as much right to be represented as the householders who contributed to the local rates.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, the opponents of the Amendment, at their wits' end for a sound argument, had invariably misstated its terms. It was not proposed that the parents should have the power of appointing or dismissing a master, or that labourers should have the supreme management; but it was thought that it might be conducive to the interests of a school if even hedgers and ditchers could have a slight voice in its management; and he hoped the sense of the Committee would be taken on the proposal. In the 1110 pamphlet of Sir James Kay-Shuttle-worth, there was a statement to the effect that the small proportion which school-pence bore to the whole income of a school was a sign of the small interest taken by parents in the education of their children; that they were seldom present at examinations; and that few persons had the foresight displayed by Dr. Temple when he proposed, that the parents should select a certain number of their body to act upon the school Committee. He would suggest to his hon. and learned Friend the propriety of taking the Division on the first part of the clause only.
§ MR. MAGNIAC
said, he had made the experiment of interesting parents in the management of a school, and the results had been quite surprising. They took pride in the excellence of the school and in the master, in whose selection they had a voice; and if the Bill were carried, it would similarly enlist in the promotion of education a large number of persons all over the country. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a Division.
said, he hoped that if the Committee divided, on the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend it would be on a clearer view of the case than that given by some hon. Members who had taken part in the debate. He objected in limine to the representation that persons who subscribed one-sixth of the expenses of a school were, by the Bill, secured the management of five-sixths of the funds. One-sixth was the proportion to which it might be possible for the managers of a school, by fortunate circumstances, to reduce their liability; but they were the persons who were responsible for all mischance, and, if anything went wrong, they must supply the deficiency. One-sixth was the minimum which was demanded from them; but that proportion might increase indefinitely, from causes partly dependent upon their prudence and partly under their control. His hon. and learned Friend endeavoured to unite two things which were absolutely incompatible. Taking the first part of the proposition, they were dealing with voluntary schools, and would the idea of a voluntary school admit of the compulsory application of 1111 a Parliamentary machinery devised by the Executive to regulate it? There was nothing in the Amendment about a "very slight" representation of the parents, and the case was not mended by thus narrowing the ground; for, if representation was to be made the basis of the management of the schools, it ought to be the predominant element in the management. How was it possible for the Education Department to work on such a clause as that of his hon. and learned Friend? If he wished to attain his professed object, and supposing there, were no incompatibility, it ought to be attained not by a few words introduced into the sub-section of a clause, but by a clearly-constructed and well-developed measure. What did he require the Education Department to do? To give the parents a representation in the management of the school. And what did his proposition involve? Why, the construction, for each school in the country, of a complete electoral and representative system. Even for the purpose of attaining the limited aim of the hon. Baronet who spoke of a "very slight" representation of the parents, there must be for every school a body of representatives qualified to sit and vote, and a registered constituency to elect them. What qualification was to be given them for voting—was it that they had sent their children to school for a single day? Those questions might be termed cavils, but they were real and substantial difficulties. It was not for the Executive Government to have cast on it the duty of making a proposition practical, and to develop on it the construction of an organic section of this kind. Parliament alone ought to undertake the business of legislation such as this. He thought the proposition was one to which it was absolutely impossible to agree. He wished, with his hon. Friend, that an efficient control could be established over the schools, so that they should not fall into the hands of one class, even though it might be distinguished by munificence of management. It was desirable by all means in their power to promote and encourage a course of things by which the most competent and intelligent persons should associate themselves together for the purpose of managing the schools. But it might be relied on that no person could have a greater interest to make the school popular than the managers of 1112 them, and the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) should bear in mind that any failure on their part in that respect would be punished by heavy pecuniary responsibility, in consequence of the falling away of the scholars. Everything that could be adopted for securing the adequate association of competent persons to govern the schools on a broad and liberal basis deserved consideration; but his hon. and learned Friend, however laudable his aim, had embarked on a course for attaining it, which was shown not to be practicable; and if his hon. Friend thought it practicable, he was bound to demonstrate that such was the case by means more efficacious than a few words in the shape of a Motion which cast over the responsibility wholesale to the Executive Government.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he was glad not to have heard from the Prime Minister the language which had come from hon. Gentlemen opposite, which he called very dangerous language, and which reminded one of the celebrated apostrophe of the right hon. Gentleman, who might ask whether, after all, the children are not our own flesh and blood? He was sorry to have heard from the Vice President of the Council that the interests of the parents of the children at the national schools were only a matter of purchase and sale. That was the very basis of his (Mr. V. Harcourt's) objection to the scheme of those voluntary schools—that they allowed the patron to purchase the parents by the Government selling the interest of the parent to him for his contribution. He wanted the parents not as customers, but as purchasers. The noble Lord (Lord R. Montagu) had likened these schools to a baker's shop; and what he wanted to prevent was the noble Lord and his Friends from always making the bread, and of judging the exact quantity of alum they should put into it under the circumstances. He should like good household bread to be baked by the parents, which would be more wholesome than anything that could be produced under the monopoly of his noble Friend. It had just now been said by the Prime Minister that he ought to have drawn up a scheme to give the proposed representation; but it was impossible for him to do so, because the scheme must vary for every parish, according to the contributions of the pa- 1113 rents and the grants from the Consolidated Fund. But what he asked for was, that the householders should have a voice in the management, because they contributed to the Consolidated Fund. ["Divide, divide!"] The question had not been discussed before, and therefore it was desirable the Committee should hear what had to be said upon it. ["Divide!"] It was of no use to try to put him down by clamour, because in so doing they would gain nothing. He was supported in his Motion by the Report of the Endowed Schools Commission, that body having recommended the introduction of one-third of the parents of the children into the school management. He warned the Committee that their Division, so far from settling the question, would be but the commencement of an agitation of the point both in and out of Parliament. In conclusion, he stated that he should divide on the first part of his Motion, and he consequently proposed to add to the end of Clause 7 the words—In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "5. In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department."—(Mr. Vernon Harcourt.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 329: Majority 248.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (Determination by Education Department of deficiency of public school accommodation).
MR. W. E. FORSTER moved that the following words be added to the clause:—
And in considering whether a school is suitable or not, the Education Department shall have regard (among other matters) to the religious opinions of the inhabitants of such district.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, the question raised was second to none in importance, for on the interpretation of the clause 1114 depended the whole machinery of the Bill. The clause would give power to the Education Department to make an education Census of the whole country, and by the addition now proposed they would have power to make a religious Census over an equally extensive area, and in his (Mr. Liddell's) opinion a religious Census was opposed to the opinions of the people of this country. The greatest possible attention should be paid to the directions given for obtaining this information, as the experience we had had of the educational census which was made in regard to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds, was not such as to create unbounded confidence in such an operation. He held in his hand a letter which was addressed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), and which had had a considerable circulation. It was entitled "Strictures on the Reports of Education in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds," and was evidently written by a man well acquainted with the whole question. Yet he stated that the methods adopted by the Commissioners were "fallacious in the highest degree;" that it was a mystery "how the Commissioners committed all the mistakes and misrepresentations all in one direction;" that "it was difficult to speak of these Reports with patience;" and that he only "hoped we should be spared the misfortune of their being quoted as veracious and trustworthy documents." After this we should be very particular as to the instructions given to those who would have to discover whether educational destitution existed or not, and whether schools were suitable to a district. Any information we might have should at least be accurate. And he would say, in passing, there was one class of information which we did not want—namely, useless comparisons between the condition of this country and other countries, with which we had nothing to do, such as those which we often heard in regard to Prussia, where there was a compulsory system, and in America, where such a system only existed nominally. What we required to know was the amount of accommodation to be supplied, the number of children not at school, and the number for whom school aid would be required.
§ MR. CANDLISH
expressed his re- 1115 gret that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) should have thought fit to propose the Amendment, which implied that the Government was concerned and had to discharge a duty with reference to the religious condition of the people, while it was professed that the Bill was a secular measure. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the matter, or he (Mr. Candlish) would certainly ask the House for its decision on the question.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had devised the Amendment because he thought it met the views of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt), as expressed last evening by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). When the words were mentioned last evening there were no expressions of dissent. It was intended not to interfere with any district which was found to be properly supplied already with "sufficient, efficient, and suitable" schools. If the schools in any district received Government assistance, they would become public elementary schools, and would, of course, be affected by the Conscience Clause. The question raised by the Amendment, which stood in the name of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford, was founded on the assumption that there might be some schools which might not be suitable on account of the religious teaching imparted in them. In order to obviate all difficulty on this score he had proposed the addition of the words now under consideration; but he did not think them necessary, and he should be willing to withdraw them if they gave offence to anybody.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. HIBBERT moved, at end of clause to add—"And they shall give public notice in each district of their decision in the matter."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought the suggestion a valuable one, and would adopt it; but he would prefer inserting it in Clause 9.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
proposed 1116 to amend the clause by adding to it the following proviso:—Provided nevertheless that they shall not take into consideration any school other than a public elementary school which does not conform in all respects to the regulations hereinbefore provided in respect of public elementary schools, so that in every school district there shall be provided a sufficient and efficient school or schools conducted in accordance with the regulations made in this Act in respect of public elementary schools.The hon. and learned Member said his object was to have it enacted distinctly that no school, whether it accepted a Parliamentary Grant or not, should be taken into consideration in relation to national education, unless it acquiesced in the terms laid down by Clause 7.
MR. GATHORNE HARDT
said, he thought this was one of the most extraordinary propositions he ever heard in the whole course of his life. The hon. and learned Member did not ask for anything for the schools from the Government, or from the rates. But suppose there was one in a parish where there were 200 children, and suppose those 200 children went to the school, which was perfectly fitted for their education, and that they were educated there either on Church or Dissenting principles, the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed that such a school should not be taken into consideration in reckoning up the accommodation of the district, and that an appeal should be made to the ratepayers to set up a rate-aided school to put it down. He (Mr. G. Hardy) did hope that the Committee would never listen to such a suggestion.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, there was only one addition to be made to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that was that, when the rate-aided school was built, if the children liked the existing school better, no one should come to the new one.
§ MR. CUBITT
said, he thought that as the clause at present stood, too much would depend on the character of the Education Minister of the day. They might have a Minister like the present one, who would take a wide and practical view of education, and on the other hand they might have one in strict accord with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his ideas of economy.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he would not enter into the question of the Reports referred to by the hon. Member 1117 for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell). It was perfectly true that some of the facts contained in the Report of Mr. Fearon were disputed; but he was not aware that they were disputed by more than one gentleman, who had written the pamphlet to which his hon. Friend had referred. It would be surprising, indeed, if the Report of an important inquiry were not found fault with by some one; but he had great confidence in Mr. Fearon, of whose accuracy on previous occasions he could speak in the highest terms. The hon. Gentleman complained that the powers embodied in the clause under discussion were too strong; but with all deference to the hon. Gentleman he begged to say that strong as were these powers they were necessary. Government must first of all find out what was the educational wants of a district before they would be able to supply them. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), he quite agreed with the observation, that it was very unreasonable to enforce the levying of a rate upon a district to establish a fresh school, when the parents might be perfectly satisfied with existing schools. Moreover, they must all admit that a very considerable number of the unaided schools would not in their present condition be likely to fulfil the requirements of an efficient education. He really thought that with the protection given by the Bill, and with the advantage which would be got from the adoption of the hon. Member for Oldham's (Mr. Hibbert's) Amendment, every reasonable facility for education would be given. He hoped, therefore, the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
said, the Vice President must have felt that something akin to that embodied in the Amendment now proposed was really necessary, or he would not have brought forward his own Amendment, which he had just abandoned. That Amendment provided that in every district there should be a school accessible on fair terms to the children residing in that district. The Amendment, therefore, of his hon. and learned Friend, which enacted that a school should be open to everyone on fair and reasonable terms, was not so monstrous as had been alleged. He hoped the Vice President would, upon the Report, see whether he 1118 could not make the words of the clause more definite and effective.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that if his hon. Friends would think upon some form of words which would effect their object without defeating the spirit of the clause, he would be glad to consider them upon the Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he should be glad to hear from the Vice President what was to be considered sufficient accommodation. He himself knew of a most efficient voluntary denominational school, which was amply sufficient for the accommodation of the district in which it was placed, and yet it was not more than two-thirds full. The Government Inspector would infallibly report that that school was amply sufficient, efficient, and suitable for the district. But, as the master had said, if compulsory attendance were enforced the numbers attending it would be doubled, and it would then become insufficient to meet the wants of the place. Now, in such a case an Inspector could not know beforehand whether the accommodation would or would not be sufficient, because that would depend on whether compulsion was or was not resorted to. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when the Inspector visited the various districts of the country, he would, in calculating what amount of school accommodation was sufficient, base his reckoning on the supposition that all children who were of school age would attend school?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the Inspectors would reckon not only the number of children who did attend school, but all those who might do so; because Clause 5 said in reference to schools that they should be "available for all the children resident in such district." One of the chief reasons why he had introduced permissive compulsion into the Bill was to prevent the inhabitants of a district saying that it would be unfair to rate them to supply schools when the children could not be forced to attend them. The clause referring to this point contemplated the enforcing of compulsory attendance, wherever such was considered to be necessary.
1119 An hon. MEMBER asked whether the Inspectors, in estimating the sufficiency of school accommodation, would take into consideration the nature of the industrial occupations of the districts in which the schools were situate?
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he thought the school age should be fixed before the Inspectors made the calculations on which the requirements were to be based, because, if children were to be compelled to be at lower schools for six years, school accommodation would be required for one in nine and a-half of the gross population; but if the period was only four and a-half years one-eleventh only would require accommodation in the school buildings.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that both these questions were illustrations of the complications into which the Committee would be led by trying to define what the Department was to ascertain. It would undoubtedly take into account the circumstances of each locality and its industrial employments, and how far in that respect the education provided was sufficient; but that could be done without words being inserted in the clause. With respect to the remarks of the noble Lord the school age must depend on the circumstances of each district, for if he were compelled to fix an age he should put a maximum in the Bill, and that would give an unfair impression.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, there was one point in connection with the clause upon which it was desirable that the Committee should have distinct information. It would be expedient to explain how far the question of a Conscience Clause would affect the claims of any voluntary school to be declared "efficient" in the Report of the Inspectors under this clause. It had been already settled that the Conscience Clause was a condition of the rate - founded schools, and a condition also of a voluntary school receiving Privy Council aid. But how far would the Vice President admit that voluntary schools, which did not and could not accept the Conscience Clause, should be reckoned as integers in making the calculation as to the sufficient educational requirements of any district?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the Inspectors would consider whether the education was sufficient and suitable. If 1120 any school provided education for 50 or 100 children of parents who had strong religious convictions no Member would wish to force a district to provide other accommodation to that extent.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9 (Notice by Education Department of public school accommodation required).
§ MR.VERNON HARCOURT moved, as an Amendment, the omission of the end of the clause, which provided for an appeal against the decision of the Education Department. He wished by the Amendment to shorten the process of bringing the Bill into operation. As the Bill stood it was proposed to send out for Returns, which would not come in until the 1st January next, and he ventured to predict that those Returns, when they came in, would be worth nothing. After the Returns came in there was to be an inspection. But if they were to end with an inspection he did not see why they should not begin with one, instead of waiting for Returns, which, when sent, could not be relied upon. If they relied upon an inspection alone, which was what the matter must come to ultimately, they would get rid of all the cumbrous machinery contained in Clauses 58 to 64, and prevent all that litigation and delay of 12 months or two years in bringing the Bill into operation which would otherwise occur. It was true that an arbitrary power would in this way be given to the Education Department; but he was willing to give his right hon. Friend the most extensive powers in this respect.
§ MR. HIBBERT
reminded the hon. and learned Gentleman that the appeal provided in the Bill was a double one—against the decision of the Education Department where it stated that the education of the district was sufficient, as well as where it stated that the education was insufficient. He thought this power of appeal was in both ways an advantage to the district, and he hoped the clause would be left as it stood.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, the proposition of the hon. and learned Member was a monstrous one. The powers taken by the Privy Council were enormous, yet the Committee were now asked to take away the moderate solatium proposed by the clause, and arm the Go- 1121 vernment with this power upon the mere Report of the Inspector, who would be sure to take the departmental view. He was sure it would not be to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman himself to possess this authority.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, his hon. and learned Friend had proposed the Amendment out of kindness to him, but he hoped it would be withdrawn. The quickest way of setting to work was to procure Returns, and there would be nothing gained by endeavouring to force a rate upon a district without giving that district the opportunity of protesting against it. It was true that the Government asked for large and strong powers; but it was impossible to do the work without them, and the Government wished to make those powers as acceptable as they could to the country. There was a strong tendency in Parliament, expressed by the wish of the country, to invest the Government of the day with great discretionary power, and that was not very pleasant for the Government, which was held in check by a strong and a tight rope; and it was impossible for the Government to undertake the responsibility without the safeguards provided by this clause.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, if his right hon. Friend had the courage to meet the hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance), there was no reason why he should interpose further.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.