HC Deb 10 June 1879 vol 246 cc1604-49

, in rising to call attention to the rapidly increasing expenditure of the London School Board, and to move— That the rapidly increasing expenditure of the London School Board requires the early attention of the Government, with the view of imposing on it some more effectual checks than appear at present to exist; said, it would not be necessary for him to go into the whole question of education, or beyond the financial question arising out of the proceedings of the London School Board, inasmuch as, these being hard times, and times in which they ought to look narrowly into all the different items of expenditure, which pressed heavily on the ratepayers, the only matter with which it was necessary for him to deal was as to the channels into which the expenditure of the country flowed. The taxpayer had many friends, who sought a cheap popularity by pecking at small economies. The ratepayer had fewer friends, who were stauncher, and had made stubborn fights in his behalf. It was always assumed that education was a pearl of great price, and the particular branch of expenditure that affected education had not any attractions for the popular speaker; but the time had come when all real economists should scrutinize very carefully the cost of education in this country. He proposed to confine his remarks to the area of the Metropolis, and, as far as that area was concerned, he should be able to show that the expenditure for educational purposes bad been so excessive as to be dangerous, not only to the cause of economy, but to the cause of education itself. He thought a review of the Metropolis in its efforts on behalf of education in late years would show that education had not been advanced by the action of the London School Board, notwithstanding its extravagant expenditure, and there was evidence that a strong necessity existed for the Government to impose some check upon this action. He proposed to call attention to the financial position of the School Board in 1871, 1875, and 1879, and then to inquire into the causes of the absolute and relative cost of the system; how far it was due to defective machinery; or the unsound policy of the Act; or to extravagant administration; and to specify the different heads under which it showed itself, and to point out one or two ways in which it might be remedied; for it was supposed, when the Education Act was passed, that in London the School Board rate would not amount to more than from 2d. to 3d. in the pound; but this estimate had been very much exceeded. At that time, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said the rate would not exceed 3d. in the pound; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich stated the same thing; and the now Leader of the House (Sir Stafford Northcote) moved an Amendment, that any sum beyond that amount should be divided equally between rates and taxes. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) also saw that it was absolutely necessary to limit the rate; and he (Mr. Yorke) looked forward to the hon. and learned Gentleman's support that evening. It would be well for hon. Gentlemen to bear in mind that a rate of 1d. in the pound produced £100,000 a-year. In 1871 the first School Board for London provided schools for 104,000 children, at a cost of £11 per head, which was defrayed by the imposition of a rate of 2d. in the pound. He contended that, although the Education Department was powerless to remedy the existing state of things, there was yet a means of applying legislative agency to cure what was generally admitted to be a crying evil. In 1875 the state of things had alarmed the Vestries of the Metropolis. They met together, and determined to wait upon the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon), who was at that time Vice President of the Education Department. They stated, in the first place, that the neglected classes only should be provided for, whereas at that time many other classes were provided for. The Duke of Richmond, the President, in answer to that, said that the neglected classes were those to whom the Act was in the first instance intended to apply, but that they would hardly get the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford and his Colleagues to agree that it was not intended for other classes of the population. They said that sites too near to voluntary schools had been selected by the School Board. To that the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon) replied, that in many instances the Education Department had restrained the School Board from building too near to voluntary schools to interfere with their action. They also complained that the standard of education was too high. The answer was that that was a question for the ratepayers, and that the Education Department could not go into all those matters; that it had no right to restrain the action of the School Board unless it acted improperly; and that if the ratepayers thought the standard of education was too high the remedy was in their own hands. In that year the rate rose to 4½d. in the pound, and the average net cost for the education of the children, estimated for the year ending March, 1880, was £1 13s. 6d. per head on the rates; whereas in 1875, the average net cost per head was £1 2s. 9d., which had to be defrayed out of the rates. Coming to the year ending March, 1880, the Board had already borrowed £3,184,500, and the rate to be levied this year would amount to £551,247, equal to 5½d in the pound on £24,000,000, the rateable valuable of the Metropolis. The increase last year was equal to £58,000. The Board stated that the total number for which accommodation was to be provided was 261,237; and, in the course of the next three years, they proposed to borrow £1,355,852, which, added to the sum already borrowed, would bring the total to £4,540,532. These figures showed that their loans had been increasing, and would continue to increase, at the annual rate of £500,000; and, looking to the future, it might be expected that in three years from the present time the rate would be 8d. in the pound. He thought he was not overstating the case in saying that, and that the expenditure of the Board would go on increasing at the rate of £75,000, for which a rate of ¾d. in the pound would be required. Indeed, the possibilities of the increase of the rate might be described as indefinite, if not infinite. If what he had stated did not reveal an alarming state of things, he did not know what would. This increase, it should be remembered, was exclusive of the present increase of the population. In these bad times, did anyone suppose that the cost of sites and buildings continued to increase? It was far more likely that it had decreased. In 1871 the cost of sites and premises averaged £11 per head of the children provided for; but now it was £20 17s. 7d. There was no reason whatever why this should be so, as labour and materials were not more expensive now than they were in 1871. The Education Department had pointed out that in 10 schools the cost per child for premises amounted to £23, while in two schools it reached £41, and that the final cost exceeded the preliminary estimate by 38 per cent. The cost of teaching was, in 1873, 12s. per child; in 1875, 16s.; and in 1878, 21s. 6d. There was no reason whatever why there should be this gradual increase. He thought it was to be accounted for by the fact that there was an impression on the School Board that no cost was too great to pay for education, and that when they had a large fund to draw upon it was a comfortable thing, and they might go on drawing from it without compunction. Suave est ex magno tollere acervo. Of seven of the largest towns in England, London stood first, with a cost of £2 13s. 5d. per child, Liverpool coming next at £2 7s.d., and Sheffield standing the lowest, with a cost of £1 19s. 6d. per head. Whichever way they looked at the matter, they would find that the cost of education under the London School Board was more expensive than the same kind of education elsewhere; while, with regard to getting in the fees, on the contrary, the case was just the reverse. In that respect the London Board schools stood far below the voluntary schools. They were at the top of the list in expenditure, and at the bottom in getting in the fees. The present system was Communistic in its working. Elementary education, like physical existence, was guaranteed to everybody by the State from motives of public policy. This was very proper; but the moment they outstepped the limits of what was reasonably necessary they trenched upon Communism. Every man had a right to live, but not to live luxuriously; and, in the same way, all had a right to be educated, but not to be educated luxuriously. The Act of 1876 laid down the principle that it was the duty of every parent to educate his child; but in London it was practically the rates that educated the children, while the parents paid only a small subsidy. The cost of education and accommodation was about 16d. per week for each child, of which sum the parents paid on an average only 2d. Moreover, as a matter of fact, the lowest class were not educated at all, though it was their ignorance which formed the pretext for all this expenditure. The other day he had gone with his hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) to visit the parish of Lime-house, in the East End of London. They found that before the passing of the Act there had existed several large ragged schools in that locality for the poorest class of children. These schools were now closed, being superseded by the Board schools, and the children who were formerly taught in them were left to run about the streets. Around an organ-grinder they were able to count about 50 of these children dancing to the music within 300 yards of a School Board school, which they subsequently visited and found to be filled with children belonging to quite a superior class, the parents of some occupying houses of from £40 to £50 per year rating. They inquired how this was, and were informed that even if the ragged children came to the Board schools they were dismissed on trivial pretexts, such as want of cleanliness, their places being filled by the class of children to whom he had just referred; and the reason for this was quite obvious—the master had a direct interest in passing as large a number of children as possible, and he found the better class more remunerative. They were even told—though he could not vouch for the truth of the report—that there was connivance between the schoolmasters and those who worked the public machinery in order to bring this result about. The middle-class schools ill that district were being destroyed by the Board schools, and numbers of brass plates had now disappeared from the doors, although they had reduced their fees to the lowest possible amount. In one of the schools young ladies learnt music, and drawing, and French, and they were told that some of the scholars lived beyond the London district, and actually came in by train in order to attend the school. The master, when asked if this was so, said he discouraged it as much as possible. The master of the Bethnal Green School provided some 60 books, costing about 5s. each, as prizes for his best scholars. This was a sort of mutual co-operation; the master gave the good scholars books, and the good scholars by their attainments were remunerative to the master. This was the way in which the fees were being used. They were, practically, trespassing on the ground of middle-class education, and providing for the well-to-do classes an education at the cost of the public, and the same results had occurred in other districts. In a letter to The Times to-day Mr. Rodgers said that it was ludicrous to maintain that too many schools were being built. Of course, if they continued to pursue the present system, they could not build schools enough. The more schools there were the more the middle classes would come in to fill them up, and the ragged children outside would not be touched, because it was to everybody's interest to keep them out. Their whole policy must be altered. Another point important to be observed was the decrease of the voluntary schools. The Marquess of Ripon had said in the House of Lords that it should be our object to maintain and foster the existing system; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had declared that we must take care not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one. In spite of these declarations, there were eases now in London in which the voluntary schools were being starved out, because they were underbid by the Board schools, which, in many cases, seemed to be established with this very object. In the parish of Lime house, for example, within half-a-mile of the parochial schools, seven Board schools had been established, most of which charged only 1d. where 4d. had been charged before, and an eighth was being built. The result had been that the children in the voluntary schools had been reduced from between 2,000 and 3,000 to 500. In St. John's, Walworth, the attendance in the voluntary schools had been reduced from 1,500 to 900, and in Plum stead they were about to be given up. Their action was also detrimental to the discipline of the voluntary schools. It was a great advantage to a Board school teacher, from a pecuniary point of view, to get as pupils children whose education had been already rough hewn in the voluntary schools. In some cases there was an absolute refusal to take in gutter children. He would not weary the House with instances of voluntary schools being closed in consequence of the competition of the School Board schools. They were numerous. Only the other day he heard of a voluntary school in Westminster being closed after being in operation since 1830. It was more important to examine the relative cost of the two systems, and with that view he would premise that there were three factors in the finance of these schools—in the voluntary schools, subscriptions, fees, and grants; and in the Board schools, rates, fees, and grants. Let them omit the two last factors in each case and compare the cost of subscriptions and rates. When they had done so, the House would, perhaps, be surprised to find that the annual cost of the maintenance of children in voluntary schools was only 8s. l0¾d., while in School Board schools it was £2 7s. 10d., or a little more than five times as much. In other words, for every child that could be educated under the School Board system, five could be educated under the voluntary system; and the educational results, as shown by examinations, were within a trifle the same. Hon. Members must surely be very much enamoured of the School Board system of compulsion, if they thought it worth while to undermine and destroy the voluntary system, in order to substitute one which was so expensive and troublesome, and which produced no better result. The London School Board schools cost in building £20 17s. for each child; and they contained, as a rule, 800 places, and the certificated teachers were in the proportion of one to every 60 scholars. The average annual value of the head-master's place was estimated at £250; but many head-masters had £300, and some in exceptional cases as much as £400, £500, and £600. The average annual value of the head-mistress's place was £150, and that of the assistants from £100 to £150. A very objectionable feature of that payment was that part of it depended upon the passes at the Government examination; for the headmasters under the London School Board obtained half the education grant, which was, on the average, 15s. per child, and the other half was divided among their assistants. Thus, the ratepayers were first rated to maintain all this expensive machinery, and then taxed Justin proportion to the success it achieved. Now, that, he contended, was a misapplication of the system of education grants, which were originally designed to stimulate voluntary effort. The schools, in his opinion, ought to receive grants, not in direct proportion to the amount of money they managed to extract from the pockets of the ratepayers, but in inverse ratio. The result of giving them indiscriminate aid was that since 1874 the education grant, which was, of course, paid out of taxation, had increased from £2,100,000 to £3,600,000, and there was no prospect of its diminishing. It appeared to him, also, that, considering the large class of Visitors and Superintendents, the compulsory clauses of the Act were not very satisfactorily carried out. The result was that the attendance of middle-class children was encouraged to the exclusion of the class which most required education. Occasionally, however, the agents of compulsion made themselves odious by cases of hardship. One of these he heard the other day from Mr. Serjeant Cox. A blind man's son, who had passed the 1st Standard, surreptitiously left school and took service as a page. Before he had been long in his place he was discovered by one of the School Board officers, stripped of his buttons, and sent back to school in rags to learn the higher subjects, and the blind man presumably suffered in consequence. He now came to the details of the alleged extravagance of the School Board. There was first the machinery of compulsion. The estimated increase on that head this year was from £ 18,000 to £19,000. It consisted of 11 Superintendents and 213 Visitors, and the establishment was unsatisfactory, because there was no means of supervising its action. When one came to look at the budget of the School Board, one was struck by the enormous scale on which everything was conducted. Everybody seemed to get about 50 per cent more than similar persons in other departments of life. Not to speak of the famous 400-guinea carpet or the general furniture of the School Board offices, which was said to be exceedingly sumptuous, he found that they did things in what might be thought very handsome style. For instance, they had three Inspectors at £450, one at £375, and one at £350; one singing Inspector at £300, one deaf-and-dumb Inspector at £300, one needlework Inspector at £175, one kinder-garten Inspector at £190, one Inspector of the blind at £90, one drill Inspector at £170, which was a handsome addition to the pay of a retired sergeant; one shorthand clerk at £375. Even the messenger was well paid, for he had £80, and the hall porter £75. This was an arrangement with which everybody would be satisfied, except the ratepayers. In the architect's department the architect had £1,000 a-year, with an assistant at £360; an inspector of furniture, £245, with two assistants at £139 each. The total cost of the architect's department being £4,495. He now came to the details of the Shaftesbury training-ship. It was originally called the Nubia, and the Home Secretary approved of the purchase, on the understanding that it should cost not more than £15,000. It was to receive 350 boys under the age of 12. The result was that the total amount expended, instead of being £15,000, was £43,474 14s. 8d. That startled the Board, and they accordingly appointed a committee to investigate the matter; and, to do them credit, they did not attempt to screen the members responsible for the extravagance, and freely criticized some of the details of the expenditure. They reported that there had been unnecessary expense—amounting, in some cases, to extravagance—in the mode of furnishing the vessel. Referring to special items of expenditure, they pointed out that two rugs were bought for the ships at a cost of £16 each, and three carpets at a cost of more than £18 each; £36 had been spent in furnishing a seat in the stern of the ship; 12 rugs had been provided at a cost of 21s. each, and nine Caspian rugs at a cost of 30s. each. These rugs had been placed in various parts of the ship, and even in the quarters of the carpenters and stokers. The committee recorded their opinion that the articles mentioned above were entirely unsuited to an industrial school. They regretted that extravagant sums should have been spent on Oriental rugs, and on the fittings of two rooms intended for members of the Board on the occasions of their visits to the ship, and in the purchase of a piano for the use of the captain's wife. The cost of furnishing these rooms amounted to £273 19s.d. One of the most remarkable things, however, to which he wished to call the attention of the House was the fact that the staff of officers for the ship was complete and costing a large annual sum at a time when there were hardly any boys in the vessel. At the end of August there were on board the ship only 30 boys, 17 being the number of the officers, who were being paid at the rate of £1,758 per annum. The number of boys on board had, no doubt, increased since then; but as yet the vessel had not her full complement, although the staff had been complete ever since August. In fact, the vessel was not expected to receive her full complement of boys until 1880; and yet, with these naturally inadequate duties to perform, the salaries of these officers had already been increased. He would compare the cost of the boys on board the Shaftesbury with the cost of the boys in Greenwich Hospital School, which was a very suc- cessful school maintained by the Admiralty. In the ship the average cost of maintenance for 350 boys was £25 per head, the average cost at Greenwich School for 983 boys being £18 12s. 7d. per head, a result which was highly creditable to the Admiralty. Again, the gross amount of the salaries of the staff in Greenwich Hospital School was only £2,716, or one-third more than the gross amount paid to the officers in the Shaftesbury, which was now £1,958, though the number of boys in the former school nearly trebled the number of those in the latter. What he mainly objected to, however, was the kind of teaching which was carried out. The compulsory teaching provided in Board schools should not, he maintained, go beyond the three R's. That amount of education was all that the State owed to the children. Any additional subject should be optional and paid for by the parents. Great expense was caused by the presence in all Board schools of teachers competent to teach a host of subjects in addition to the elementary ones which he had indicated; for he found the ordinary course not only included them and Bible knowledge, but also book-keeping, mensuration, elementary instruction in physical science, the history of England, elementary geography, and elementary social economy, whatever that might be. A knowledge of the last-named subject was, he thought, very much needed by the members of the Board themselves. To these might be added music, drill, and several other accomplishments. The subjects which he had named were the ordinary compulsory ones; but there were others which were discretionary, and which presented a still more formidable curriculum, as it included Euclid, Algebra, physical geography, French, Latin, chemistry, animal physiology, botany, and many other equally abstruse subjects, the understanding of which would be an education suited to the higher classes of society, domestic economy being one of them. Why domestic economy should be discretionary, when social economy was compulsory, he quite failed to see. Anyone who should go through all the subjects taught by the Board would issue forth into the world better furnished for the battle of life than many hon. Members who had received expensive educations. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; but he wished those who cheered to recollect that these children were expected by the Board to learn all these subjects while they were between five and 10 years of age; but they were enough, if properly followed out, to occupy for a long time the attention of persons of mature years. The House would, therefore, be able to imagine what a hopeless hotch-potch the head of the boy would be who had drilled into him, before he was 10 years of age, the rudiments of the many different subjects to which the Board turned the attention of its scholars. He held that common sense suggested that if rudimentary education of this character was to be imparted by the Board to a child, it should have some practical reference to the object of the child's life—to the pursuit by which he was to gain his bread; that the boy who was to become a groom should learn how to manage horses, and that the boy who was to become a gardener should learn to dig. Boys who were to be artisans, and who were turned out into the world with a certain amount of knowledge of albumen and other abstruse matters belonging to organic chemistry would hardly digest the information that had been decanted into them. As instances of the confused ideas which children so universally instructed carried away with them, one was that at an examination he had heard a question asked what was a monitor, and the answer quickly given was, "an iron-clad." Then, again, in a girls' school, when the subject was "Milk as the best possible food," one girl said it was so, because God made it; another, because puppies and kittens throve on it; and, another, because it contained starch. He would go no further into that branch of the subject. What he wished to show was that, at the present time, there was no effectual check upon the action of the Board. The Education Office, the Local Government Department, and the House of Commons had left the whole thing in the hands of the School Board to do practically as they liked. Of course, he knew that the Education Department in the pre-compulsory epoch, was invented for the purpose of stimulating the action of voluntary schools; and it was no wonder that, after having so long applied the whip and the spur, they should find themselves unable to apply the curb to Board schools. Practically, all they had done in regard to the Board was to say—"Well, gentlemen, so long as your constituents do not pull you up, we do not feel it necessary to interfere." Lately, however, a change of policy had been adopted by the Department; and in stopping the supplies they had, he was glad to say, surprised the Board with reference to financial matters, and had placed them in a somewhat awkward position. The Board, in the correspondence in the hands of hon. Members, however, had declined to admit that they were the least in the wrong, and they gave no sort of assurance that they would confine their expenditure within proper limits. The Local Government Board had since then taken the matter in hand, and their Auditor had surcharged the Board with the charge for interest on temporary loans. The Law Officers of the Crown, who had been consulted on that proceeding, were, unfortunately, at variance; and while the Attorney General upheld the Board, the Solicitor General upheld the Department. Meanwhile, it was evident that the Board had not repented, for it was now endeavouring to borrow another £20,000 of the Bank of England for temporary purposes; and what was there to prevent them doing so—from borrowing money at interest whenever they wished to carry out any new proposal? He was glad to see that the Bill of the Government in regard to the Public Works Loan Commissioners would have some effect in checking the action of the Board, inasmuch as it would restrict its borrowing powers to £100,000 per annum, and spread the re-payments over 30 instead of 50 years. The House, however, would remember that that would impose no real check, unless something could be done to prevent them from obtaining these temporary loans. They would only go into the open market, where they would have to pay a higher interest, so that the last stage of the ratepayers would be worse than the first. He thought he had shown that the Board had indulged in excessive expenditure of which no probable end—unless it was stopped—could be seen, and that, therefore, the subject was one which urgently demanded attention from the Government. He wished to cure those evils, and thought that, in accordance with the resolutions recently adopted by delegates in the Metropolis, a limit ought to be placed on the amount of the School Board rate. In 1870 a limit of 3d. was suggested; but that, alas! was a limit to which there was now no chance of reverting, still he thought some limit should be fixed. Again, when the Board wished to build new schools he thought they ought to be compelled to come to Parliament in the same way as any other municipality which wished to execute public works, and before they obtained consent be compelled to prove their necessity to a Committee. He thought, moreover, the rate-defrayed educational standard ought to be limited to "the three R's," and that anything and everything beyond that standard ought to be paid for by the parents. Then, again, the payments for results should be less in rate-supported schools than in voluntary schools; and he thought undue competition with voluntary schools should be further limited by fixing the maximum fee in Board schools at 2d., as, if they got below that sum, they underbid the voluntary schools and made the Board schools practically free schools. There was one other suggestion which he would add, and that was that the School Board rate should be collected separately and not added on to the other rates, for the first necessity was to bring the situation home to the people who had to pay. If it were separate, those who paid for it would, at all events, see, not only what they had to pay, but what they were paying for. He would say, in conclusion, that he had moved in the matter as a friend of economy in the first place; but he hoped he would not be regarded as opposed to education. He was willing to admit that the London School Board had done a great deal of work; for, while it had not educated a large number of children who ought to have been educated, it had, doubtless, provided for many who would not otherwise have been touched, although it had done it at an enormous expense; but he thought that if the Board continued to indulge in such an educational carnival as had for some time been going on, they would soon witness a violent re-action in the public mind, for that educational hot fit would soon be over. In his opinion, it would be a cause of regret if the policy of 1870 had to be revised. For the reasons which he had stated, he begged to move the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


I beg leave to second the Motion of the hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. J. R. Yorke). It is not my intention to traverse the ground or the figures already gone over so ably by him; but rather to confine myself to a few facts and some suggestions; to concentrate the observations I shall venture to trouble the House with on them, and to be rather practical than statistical. It is quite unnecessary, I trust, to disclaim any Party feeling in this matter. Fortunately, the cause of education among the poorest classes has not yet been made the battle ground of Parties, and I trust it never may be. What discussion there has been on the subject has been chiefly on religious or denominational ground. Well, I will say at once, I do not intend to refer to that, and I trust no one else will. It has ceased, I believe, to be a difficulty in the way of education. But what I desire to premise is the ground on which I second this Motion, in which my hon. Friend agrees; but, perhaps, he did not make it as clear as could be desired. It is not expenditure, qua expenditure, if the work were thoroughly done that we find fault with. It is that the work is not done, though all this expense is incurred, and that, in some cases, even the work seems to be getting undone. In short, it appears to me, and I shall submit the facts with perfect frankness to the judgment of the House—it seems to me that the spirit of the Act is not carried out. We are not, therefore, in hostility to the School Board or the Acts, which I quite acknowledge to be an urgent necessity of the times; but I want to see it made more efficient, and, if possible, more economic. I want to see the work effectually done without any further waste of time or money, in the spirit of the Act, which should not any longer be used to undo the work of the voluntary schools. From that point of view, it might, perhaps, have been better to have asked for a Select Committee for inquiry, in which the School Board might have answered, if they could, some of the facts brought forward, and a few impartial and earnest men might have considered if the spirit of the Acts could not be better carried out; or else the Act itself amended. Now, Sir, let us see what are the Acts and their spirit; and then, what are the facts and their results. There is the main Act of 1870, and the two Amendment Acts of 1873 and 1876. It is hardly necessary for me to quote the words of these Acts; they are familiar to every hon. Member who has attended to the subject. The main principles are three:—First, that there shall be schools provided within reach of every child; 2nd, that the children shall be compelled to attend; 3rd, that the teaching shall be efficient. The Act of 1873 recites particularly that schools shall not be built unless the Education Department is satisfied of their necessity; and that the rates shall only be used for purposes of elementary education. The Act of 1876 provides that Boards of Guardians shall be the attendance committee where there is no school board, and particularly dwells on the responsibilities of parents and their liability to provide education for their children. But now, what is the spirit of the Act, and where are we to look for it? Why, in the speech of the Minister who introduced the Act, and who represented the mind of his Government and the purpose of his Party—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). In taking the liberty of reading a few sentences from that speech, I should like to say I not only entirely agree in them, but I agree in every word of that speech, and if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, it is an utterance, not only of the usual ability and sound sense of the right hon. Gentleman, but shows a statesmanlike foresight of what might happen if certain courses were followed; it contains a creation and a forecast of facts which have, I fear, been fulfilled in some cases contrary to his intention. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman said— First of all, we must not forget the duty of parents. Then, we must not forget our duty to our constituencies, our duty to the taxpayers … Still, we must remember that it is upon them that the burden will fall. And, thirdly, we must take care not to destroy in building up—not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one. In solving this problem there must be, consistently with the attainment of our object, the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools. … The main principles. … are two in number. … Legal enactment, that there shall be efficient schools everywhere throughout the kingdom. Compulsory provision of such schools if and where needed, but not unless proved to be needed. … Who are to pay for it? ….Shall we give up the school fees? …. I at once say that the Government are not prepared to do it. The parents paid in school fees last year about £420,000. If this scheme works. … that £420,000 per annum would have to be doubled, or even trebled. Nor would it stop there. This would apply to the elementary education chiefly of the working classes. The middle classes would step in and say—'There must be free education also for us, and that free education must not be confined to elementary schools.' … The cost would be such as really might well alarm my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. … We do not give up the school fees, and, indeed, we keep to the present proportion—namely, of about one-third raised from the parents, one-third out of the public taxes, and one-third out of local funds."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 443–4, 454–5.] That is the spirit of the Act of 1870, as set forth by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Bradford, who introduced it. Well, such are the Education Acts and the spirit of those Acts; but what are the facts? I have thought it better to confine my examination to one district which I have taken at haphazard, District A on School Board block plan, which represents Westminster. It was found that there were 8,000 children in that district, and accommodation for all but about 150 already provided by voluntary schools. Let me say a word here about educational statistics; they are thoroughly fallacious, even if the number of children exists which they compute; their deduction for absentees is very much below the right number. They allow for 5 per cent absentees, and sometimes for as much as 10 or 15; but the real number should be 25 to 30. You cannot get more than 75 per cent into the schools, experience shows, especially in a place like Westminster. But supposing we accept these numbers, the offer was made to provide the additional accommodation required, which was at once rejected, and the School Board determined to provide for 620 children. Now, that is not, I think, the spirit of the Act. Besides, it is evident that so small a number as 150, or 2 per cent on the whole number, would be certain to be absorbed by truant schools or industrial schools. But let all that pass. I maintain that, before they were entitled to build, they were bound to see that the existing schools were filled. And then a very important point arises. The London attendant officers or visitors, as they are called, do not seem to think it necessary to see to the attendance at voluntary schools, but only their own Board schools. That is surely a great weakness in the whole administration. It is like pouring water into a sieve. I do not see how you are ever to get the children educated at that rate, until you have covered London with Board schools and destroyed every voluntary school, at a cost of £1,500,000 a-year or more. Well, this school was built in the Horse-ferry Road, and what was the result? One school with 370 places was immediately closed, and six or seven more had half their scholars taken from them to fill this Board school. Out of the 600 children who came into that school there were only 20 who were not taken out of voluntary schools. Sir, is this the spirit of the Act? This is not supplying a demand; it is destroying a supply; it is creating a hiatus. Mean while, the "wastrel" children are still about the streets; and I believe it could be shown that after eight or nine years of expenditure there is not a single child in Westminster being educated, or being better educated, who was not being similarly educated before the Act, for there are 500 or 600 places more in the district than are required. It might be said the people are too poor to send their children. That is not the case. I visited at a ragged school, under Government inspection, which was only half full—60 children—where there was room for 120. They took in barefeet children and charged nothing. As regards these ragged schools, I would not say one word about the managers or promoters of them. They have been, as it were, the volunteers or pioneers of the educational movement, and all honour to them; but it seems to me that to maintain in the present day an inefficient school, as some of these are, is an anomaly and an anachronism. If they cannot make them all efficient, they should reduce their number. And as I desire to be impartial, and perfectly frank with the House, I should like to say here that some of the charges brought against the Board in Westminster, at least, are unfounded; the education they gave was similar to the voluntary schools; their fees nominally the same, though there were some allowances for books, &c., which offered superior attraction, and I did not notice any unjustifiable expense thrown away on the buildings. It may be different in other parts; but I speak only of what I have seen. But this is not all; not content with knocking up these voluntary schools, and having hundreds of places in excess of the number required, the Board next proceeded to build another school, and bought what is known as the Ebury Street site. Then, the Education Board stepped in and refused its consent. Sir, I ask again, is this the spirit and intention of the Act, as set forth in the words of the right hon. Gentleman opposite— The least possible expenditure of public money, the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools? Surely, it is a travestie of the work intended. Then as to the expenditure. I must say a few words about the Shaftesbury training ship. My hon. Friend (Mr. J. R. Yorke) has gone over the items, so I shall only call attention to the form of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry. I do not wish to press this matter hard on the School Board, because I am informed that they acknowledge it has been a gross miscarriage of administration. But if the work in Westminster is a travestie of the Act, surely the Report of this Committee is a very parody of an inquiry. Out of a Committee of 10 only three sign the Report, less than one-third, and they condemn the extravagance, and point out certain informalities which I should have thought are illegalities. Two, being the principal offenders, write a separate Report of their own in justification; one, a lady—Mrs. Elizabeth Surr—with the courage and devotion of her sex, does rap out the truth in a solitary paragraph signed by herself alone, in which she says the Report conveys but an inadequate idea of the waste incurred and the conduct of the committee; and the remaining four members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the School Board, decline to be responsible for anything contained in the Report. Sir, I have had some experience on Committees and as Chairman of Committees of Inquiry; but I never read such an extraordinary discussion as this. It is said, in mitigation, that this is the only case of extravagance. I should be glad to think so; but, unfortunately, several others have reached me. The central offices of the Board on the Embankment were to have cost £40,000; but £70,000 has had to be paid. Then one school was built so near a bone boiler's premises that £4,000 had to be spent in buying him up. A reduction of 25 per cent was made in an estimate, owing to an observation of a member of the Board, in some schools at Sydenham. And there is the case of the Ebury Street site, which will have to be sold at a great loss. Speaking as one who has given some attention to Public Business and administrative economy, I characterize these as instances of reckless expenditure. I have limited these observations to a few facts; but there are other districts just as bad. In Bloomsbury, Board schools have been built in the midst of several voluntary schools, of which five have been closed and two half emptied; while one expensive master, at a salary of £250 a-year, is employed to teach a sort of rough ragged school of the lowest class. In Wandsworth, the same sort of thing goes on, and the wastrel children are still as neglected as ever. Now, what are the cures for this? It has been said that the system is in fault, not the members of the Board, who, excepting two or three, find it impossible to look into the finance, which is left to officials. Well, surely, they could sub-divide their districts. Then, a visitor of the School Board told an informant of mine that—"You—the voluntary agencies—can deal better with those gutter children than we can." Well, that is a candid admission. It seems to me, first speaking with great deference, that the School Board should be, in the first instance, an attendance committee, and then, where the necessity existed—that is, where they have managed to fill the schools—they should proceed to supply accommodation by building. They should not be guided by theoretic statistics, but by the fulness or emptiness of existing schools. Then, secondly, they ought to charge proper fees, and not remit them or wink at their not being paid, which is demoralizing to the children. If the scale of fees adopted at Bradford and Leeds were insisted on in London, it would bring in some £50,000 a-year more, and the parents could, no doubt, afford to pay it. Then there ought, lastly, to be some better audit and control. Supposing that after the rate exceeded 3d., which we were told was to be the maximum, one-half was payable by the Treasury, some such financial check well devised, we should have less of the reckless expenditure, because it would be some one's interest to look after it. But, Sir, if this system of displacing all the voluntary schools with expensive Board schools is to obtain, it cannot stop with London, it must extend to every town and every parish in England; and we shall have some £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 a-year charged on the rates with no better education given than now. That is a serious consideration. This London School Board has already got to loggerheads, however, with the Education Department and the Local Government Board, and a case is now being tried in the Law Courts on a surcharge of £16,000. I should like to make one suggestion here. There is a Commission sitting on the City Charities at present, and £100,000 or £200,000 a-year will have to be re-applied. I believe no better object could be found for some of these funds than secondary education arising out of elementary schools; something just above the three R's, which ought, no doubt, to be provided by the Board or by voluntary schools. Sir, I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government may see their way to adopting the spirit of the Motion, and taking counsel, perhaps, with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster), will see their way to bringing the expenditure and administration of this School Board into harmony with the spirit and intention of the Acts. I beg to second the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the rapidly increasing expenditure of the London School Board requires the early attention of the Government, with the view of imposing on it some more effectual checks than appear at present to exist."—(Mr. Reginald Yorke.)


said, he should be glad to have given way to any member of the School Board, either present or past. Two or three of those members were now in the House; and he (Mr. W. E. Forster) hoped they would hear from them some reply to the statements, he might say the charges, of the hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. J. R. Yorke). He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was glad to have the efficient help in past times of two very responsible members of the School Board whom he now saw on the Government Benches. He referred paticularly to his noble Friend who followed him in the Education Department (Viscount Sandon), who had worked very hard, and who, he had no doubt, would be able to give the House a good deal of information upon the matter, and his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. W. H. Smith), who, they all knew, had gained the good opinion of all classes in London by the work which he had done in connection with that Board. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was, perhaps, more than anybody else, responsible for the School Board of London. He was, therefore, watching its proceedings with the greatest possible interest, not to say anxiety, remembering what a tremendous work it had to accomplish. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion said very little on what he (Mr. W. E. Forster) should have thought would have been an important matter; inasmuch as, while the hon. Gentleman thought it necessary for that House to protect the ratepayers of that great Metropolis against their own representatives, he seemed to forget the very existence of the ratepayers themselves. At any rate, he did not assume that they were intelligent persons, well acquainted with the affair which was now brought before the House, that they were the people who paid the rates on whom this heavy tax lay, and who lived in the very centre of the intelligence of the Kingdom. They had plenty of newspapers, and plenty of gentlemen like the hon. Member who could state these matters to them in meeting after meeting. Was it necessary that the House of Commons should be called on to impose fresh checks on this Board, when the ratepayers had the best possible check already—which they had not in that House—namely, that the Board was only elected for three years, and it was in the power of the ratepayers of London, if they did not like their proceedings, to turn out their educational Parliament? He thought the hon. Gentleman ought really to have shown why it was they should protect the ratepayers against their own representatives. How did they know that the 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 composing the Metropolis would thank the House for stepping in, in the manner indicated by the hon. Gentleman. It would be to say to the ratepayers—"We do not consider you are capable of doing your own business, and therefore we will do it for you." It was interesting to see, considering what a large portion of the Kingdom the Metropolis represented, how educational work had been going on there for the last few years. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) did not deny that this debate was likely to be of use; but the hon. Gentleman had stated only one side of the case. There was no harm in that side of the case being strongly stated after all, and it would afford good material for discussion in every vestry and public meeting before the next election. Expenditure had been mentioned for which this House was not responsible; but he did not think in any debate on Supply the House had seen such interest as was manifested on the other side. There was this difference—hon. Gentlemen were responsible in one case, but not in the other. The hon. Gentleman who had brought forward the Motion must excuse him if he did not go through all the items of expenditure to which he had referred; but he must not suppose that the charges which he made were unanswerable. It was easy for any gentleman to take hold of a large expenditure, and condemn it; but it was not easy, without notice, to be able to reply to any allegations that might be made. One or two of the items referred to by the hon. Gentleman, however, struck him as curious. The hon. Gentleman alluded to 400 guineas having been spent on a carpet. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was informed, however, that this £400 for a carpet was an absolute delusion. He really hoped the House would look at the question with some sort of comparison in their own minds as to what had to be done. The Education Act was brought in in 1870. It was wanted in many parts of the Kingdom; but nowhere was it so much wanted as in London, because there was no part of the United Kingdom in which elementary education had been so much neglected. He was so impressed with the fact that he knew not how to deal with it. In fact, he at one time thought it would be impossible to put the Act in force in the Metropolis, and he thought they should have had to wait until its advantages had been shown elsewhere, and then get it applied to London; but there were others—his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) were among them—who had better courage, and they encouraged him (Mr. W. E. Forster) to include London in the Education Act, which he did. The result was, that in no part of England had the people more completely met the Government, acknowledging the want, and determined to do their best. An educational Parliament was, therefore, made for London—the School Board—which the House was now asked to check. The House should not forget what it was—a Parliament chosen by the freest possible suffrage—by the whole population of the Metropolis. Some respect ought, therefore, to be paid to it. It was elected by a population of 3,500,000, and was composed of very eminent persons. There was Lord Lawrence, its first Chairman; there was its present President, Sir Charles Reed, well known in that House for his ability, who had devoted almost every hour of his time for days and years to this matter. No one would deny that the ablest and most philanthropic men in London—and women too—had come forward in connection with this work, and had received the confidence of the enormous population of London. In 1871, when the School Board was formed, what was the state of things? Why, elementary education was required in the Metropolis for at least 560,000 children; but there were only places in efficient schools for 260,000 children, and the number of children on the register was 222,000, while the average attendance was under 175,000. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) must ask the House to consider what that meant. And yet the hon. Member now came forward, and said—"Stop this work; don't build any more schools." But he (Mr. Forster) contended that the work had not been completed yet, although a great deal of good had been done. Last year, on the other hand, the number of children on the register was 444,000, and the average attendance had risen to 350,000. That fact showed, as he said, that the work was still far from complete, although the number of children on the educational roll had been doubled since the passing of the Education Act; and he wanted the hon. Member to take notice of this fact—that the proportion of the average attend- ance of children to school accommodation now was much larger, and not smaller, as he would seem to suppose. The average attendance now was about double what it was in 1870; but the school accommodation had nothing like doubled. There were still, he believed, from 150,000 to 200,000 children to be provided for. The hon. Baronet the Member for South Shropshire (Sir Baldwyn Leighton) seemed to think that the Board schools were filled out of the voluntary schools, and he mentioned the cases of individual schools; but he (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought they ought not to go into individual cases in the consideration of the question. It might actually be as the hon. Baronet said; but the only safe ground to go upon was general results, and what were these? Since 1870 the average attendance at voluntary schools, so far from diminishing, had increased from 173,000 to 184,000, or 11,000, and 90 efficient schools, with an average attendance of 18,000, had chosen to transfer themselves to the School Board. That was to say, since 1870, the average attendance at voluntary schools had increased by 29,000. The chief reason of that increase was because more parents, when they found that they had to send their children to school, sent them to voluntary schools rather than to Board schools. That, then, brought up the question of compulsion, and he wished to say a word in reply to hon. Members who had spoken upon this question. It was an entire mistake to suppose that the School Board was not doing its utmost to bring in, or that it was not successful in bringing in, the poorest children. No doubt, if any hon. Gentleman chose to seek for them, uneducated children might still be found in the purlieus of the East End or of Westminster. The work, he would admit, was not yet complete. There were not places enough for all the children to bring them into. But, for his own part, he was perfectly astonished at the extent to which the School Board had succeeded in its work. It was supposed that the Board had not endeavoured to get the children; but he contended that this was not the case, as the following facts would prove:—During the first portion of the year 1878, which was the latest period for which Returns were given, the School Board, in the first place, sent out a caution to 32,529 parents who had neglected to send their children to school; an attendance of 24,497 was immediately secured. Notices were afterwards sent to 22,738 parents, with good result in more than 18,000 cases. The actual number of summonses issued was 3,705; a small fine was imposed in 2,340 cases, and the number of summonses dismissed was only three. He did not mean to say that in all these cases they had been right in summoning, for he had seen one or two cases in which he thought the Board ought not to have prosecuted. But it was impossible for all officers to be infallible; and, on the whole, he approved of the measures that had been taken to insure a higher attendance at school. He maintained that the very large increase in the voluntary schools had been mainly owing to the compulsion, which enabled the Board to put more scholars into them than was the ease before. He was, indeed, quite sure there would not be in London the feeling which still existed in favour of compulsion, if the provisions as to compulsion had not, on the whole, been well applied. With regard to the ragged schools. He believed an average attendance of 10,000 children at the ragged schools had been transferred to the Board schools. It was a great mistake to suppose that, generally speaking, the children attending the ragged schools were not now attending the Board schools, for they were; and what showed real ability on the part of the Board was that, whereas the children did not pay fees in the ragged schools, they did pay some small fees in the Board schools. He hoped the House would excuse him for occupying its time while he had endeavoured to show what was the state of things in 1870, and what it was now; how much had been done, and what was still to be done. And now he came to the question of cost. The hon. Member for East Gloucestershire used very strong words about the cost being enormous. The times were bad, and rates were heavy, and many ratepayers on reading the remarks to-morrow morning would think that their rates were school rates, and that in consequence of the School Board business they were called upon to pay very heavy rates. What was the rate after all? It was 5¼d. in the pound. What proportion did that bear to all the rates? As far as he (Mr. W. E. Forster) could make out, the average rates throughout the Metropolis were at least 5s., judging from the lowest total rate in Marylebone, of 4.s., to the highest in Greenwich, of 6s. 5d. The hon. Member said he wished that the School Board rate was given separate from the rest, and in that wish he (Mr. W. E. Forster) quite concurred; and this he said, too—that if it could be proved that in the effort to put a stop to the ignorance which had been the curse of the Metropolis there had been extravagance, that extravagance should be stopped. He believed when the ratepayer saw the school rate, and knew what schooling meant, in diminishing the poor rate and the police rate, and compared it with the other rates, he did not think the school rate would be the first to suffer. The precept for the School Board for 1879 was £551,000; while that for the Metropolitan Board of Works was, besides the coal dues, the rate £582,000. He would say a word about sites, as he did not think the hon. Member had fairly put the question. Ten schools had been taken from the centre of London, and he (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought ten exceptional schools ought not to have been taken. He believed he was right in saying there were 161 schools, the accounts of which had been completed. The cost of those sites was rather more than £5 per head, the cost of furniture 10s. per head, and the cost of building just about £10; so that it was about £15 per head. In fact, the cost for all purposes had not exceeded £16 per head. Therefore, he did not believe, if there was a thorough examination into the matter, that it would be found the School Board had been extravagant as to sites. Then, as to maintenance, it was, no doubt, somewhat dearer than in the voluntary schools, and he believed it would continue to be so, for rate work could scarcely be expected to be cheaper at the outset than voluntary management. If they could have gone on working on the voluntary system, and got the people of England educated by it, that would have done very well; but they could not do it. Certainly, the voluntary system might be carried out more cheaply, and that was one reason why he had been anxious to keep the voluntary schools in operation; for he knew there was care bestowed and work done by the managers which would probably have to be paid for elsewhere. Then, it must also be recollected that the managers of voluntary schools, especially in large cities, did not put up their schools with the notion of supplying the educational wants of the Metropolis. That was not their primary notion. Their principal aim was to have a school connected with their own Church or denomination—a very praiseworthy object; but they erected the school just where it suited them to do it. They picked their place for the school, and they had also, to some extent, picked the chilren. But the School Board could not do the one or the other, and that made some difference. Certainly, the average in London was higher for Board schools than in other parts of the Kingdom; but he thought there might be an explanation for it. London was a dearer place than the rest of the country. It cost more to live in London than in provincial towns; therefore, he should expect the general expenses of schools would be higher than elsewhere. The very fact that there was an enormous work to be undertaken; that there were 350,000 children untaught, who were to be brought within the operation of the Act; and that there was no time to wait while so great a number of children were being left untaught, would naturally add to the expense. The schools had to be started, and masters and mistresses found for them. If any man chose to go into any manufacturing town and start there an enormous mill, he must expect to have to pay rather more than the market rates for over lookers and managers. And so it was with the London School Board, which had to start an enormous educational machinery. It was ordered to do it; it was its duty to do it, and that, too, at a time when expenses were rising. Under those circumstances, when a demand suddenly sprung up for teachers, no doubt, a good deal had to be paid; and, as he was just reminded by a right hon. Friend, it was done at a most expensive time. But the London School Board, likewise, had a great deal of work to do which the voluntary schools did not do, and which the school boards generally had not done. He dared say the hon. Gentleman opposite would insist that it should not have its Inspectors. It must be remembered, however, that there were 200,000 children in the schools; and, therefore, the ratepayers had a right to demand that there should be Inspectors, irrespective of the Government Inspectors. Again, the School Board had taken very expensive work in hand in dealing with special cases. He alluded to the teaching of the destitute deaf and dumb and the blind. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. R. Yorke) had brought forward several instances of alleged extravagance connected with the Staff. He seemed to think it a terrible thing that the needlework Inspector—the chief superintendent, it was to be supposed, of the needlework for about 100,000 girls—received £175 a-year. That, however, struck him (Mr. W. E. Forster) as a very small sum indeed, and one uncommonly well spent; and he trusted that when the House voted money they might do it, generally speaking, on as favourable terms. It should not be forgotten, therefore, that the School Board had done work which neither voluntary schools nor other school boards had performed. His impression was that the School Board had had to do things in which it was most difficult to be economical. When the London School Board was compared with voluntary schools, or other Board schools, it must be remembered that it took under its charge the deaf and dumb and the blind children of the Metropolis requiring help. Then, as to the ease of the training-ship, he dared say that was a mistake. He knew nothing about it. But, perhaps it might be found that there was no more over-expenditure on that training-ship than on many of the ships for which the House was more responsible; and it was quite possible that that might be a warning and a lesson to the London School Board for the future. But, however that might be, it did not require a Resolution of Parliament to bring home that matter to the ratepayers of London. On the other hand, it was possible that when the case of the training-ship was brought before the tribunal of the ratepayers, there might be some defence offered of which they had not yet heard. He now came to the salaries of the teachers. He wished to take as impartial a view of them as he could. It was quite true that those salaries stood at a higher average in London than in the Kingdom generally-£132 for masters, £102 for mistresses. and £100 for infant school-mistresses, were considerably more than the sums paid in voluntary schools and in other Board schools. But there were, as compared with the voluntary schools, no residences. In the case of the masters, therefore, he did not think the salaries—£132, as compared with £117 in voluntary schools—extravagantly high. With regard to the mistresses, however, the matter was different; but it should be remembered that the salaries paid by the voluntary schools before were far too low—namely, an average of £67, added to which was the fact that they had a very rough lot of children to deal with when the Education Act was passed. He was glad, however, that Sir Charles Reed was aware that the salaries would have to be looked into. But his (Mr. W. E. Forster's) sympathy with the masters and mistresses was so great, and his feeling that they had long been a neglected class was so strong, that he could not bring himself to regret that their salaries had been raised throughout the Kingdom. He hoped, however, that neither the teachers nor their paymasters would forget that salaries must be regulated on the principle of supply and demand. In the beginning there was a great demand; but he thought, for some time to come, the masters and mistresses might have to look forward to smaller pay. Sir Charles Heed said that one of the first tasks of the School Board would be to revise the scale of salaries of the teachers. He wished to make one or two suggestions to the School Board, if he might be permitted to do so. He believed that what had been the chief ground of their expenditure, over and above that of the voluntary schools, was not so much that they had paid their teachers a higher rate of wages, but that they had a much larger number of them—more, he submitted, than might be necessary for the requirements; and he suggested that this matter should now receive very full consideration. No doubt, it was necessary to have a large number at the time of the passing of the Act, in consequence of the numbers of neglected children that were brought in out of the streets, and not from other schools, in a large Metropolis like London. On the other hand, it might be argued that the larger teaching power had been justified to a great extent by the result; because, though the children had been so neglected before, yet the passes in the London Board Schools were above the average in the voluntary schools. There was another point which he thought might also be considered by the Board, and that was the fees of the children. The voluntary schools got an average of 13s. per child; the average of the Board schools was rather under 8s. He hoped the Board would be encouraged from their success in getting a fee out of the ragged school children, though of only 1d., to try to raise the average fee of the other children. The average fee in the London Board schools was about 2d., which was below the average in the large towns, and, taking the whole of the Metropolis together, he did not know why that should be so. There was another suggestion he would make, which was that the Board should try more than they had done the system of a gradation of schools. In West Ham the system worked very well, for there there was a school with a 1d., a school with a 2d., and a school with a 4d. rate, and he did not see why they should not get as much as 9d. A word or two now about the checks which the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire would introduce. There was one great check which the Act had established—namely, that the people who paid the money elected the persons who spent it. But as to the checks proposed to be introduced, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) took down some of the proposals made at a conference of delegates from the Vestries. He saw that the hon. Gentleman was making arrangements for introducing a deputation from this conference to the Lord President; but he must say that he had never expected to find that the lion. Gentleman would support these proposals. The first was that the rate should be limited; the second, that all School Board buildings should be stopped—that was, that the educational deficiency should be left unsupplied; and the third, that in the rate schools there should be no rate-paid teaching except for the three R's; that the rest should be paid for by the parents; and, further, that smaller State grants should be made to the rate schools than to the voluntary schools, which would soon cause an outcry to be raised by the representatives of the ratepayers through- out the Metropolis. For himself, he had no fear that the Government would offer such checks as had been suggested, or that the people would accept them. There had been a good deal of talk about the rate being more than was at first mentioned, and he quite granted that the expenses had been somewhat beyond what he had expected. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, in any proposed estimate, or, indeed, anyone else who set to work to build a house, would find that the outlay which he had to incur was not always that which he anticipated. If, however, the ratepayers of London were to compare their position with that of the inhabitants of any of the other large towns throughout the country, they would find that, generally speaking, their rate was lower. Then they came to the question of starving the education. The hon. Gentleman said that as soon as the child had learned to read, write, and cipher, in a very elementary manner, it should be turned out of the school, unless his parents were prepared to pay more money for him. Could they fully estimate what that meant?—that they were not to have a knowledge of geography, history, or even of such subjects as that of elementary social economy, which, although the hon. Gentleman seemed to have laughed at it, might be found very useful to the working classes. A parent might have been paying for the education of his child up to the age of 10, and was quite willing that he should go on to the age of 13 or 14; but if so, the hon. Gentleman would have him pay extra. That, however, was a proposal which it would be impossible to work; and he must say in that, and other matters brought forward, he took an entirely different view from that of the hon. Gentleman. He had very little more to add. He did not mean to contend that the men who had been members of the School Board had made no mistakes. He did not mean to say that, having a very difficult work to do, they had always done it as cheaply as might have been the case; but he would say he believed they might search the whole Kingdom through, and they would not find any better work done either by Imperial or local officials. However, he hoped they would look to economy for the future—["Hear, hear!"]—Yes, he would repeat, he hoped they would look to economy in the future; but he also trusted that, in doing so, they would never lose sight of the fact that their main duty was to provide for education. He thought it was probable they might be able to do things cheaper hereafter; but he would say again, you might search through the Kingdom, and you would not find a better return for the money spent—5¼d. in the pound—anywhere than the hard work done by the London School Board. It was done by the indomitable, self-denying energy of those men and women who had been upon this Board. Their work was unpaid. It was not only unpaid, but obscure and unthanked; but he trusted that they would not be discouraged, and that they would go on with their work. And, after all, it was the population, the ratepayers, the parents of this Metropolis, who had to judge whether they did this work or not. He had no fear whatever that they would stop this work, or that that House would interfere to put checks upon the Board which the ratepayers did not wish to have put.


did not think anyone could be surprised at the Motion now brought forward, for it did give expression to a feeling of disquietude which certainly did exist at the expenditure of the London School Board. His hon. Friend, in a singularly able and exhaustive speech, made a series of allegations which, if true, were the justification for his Motion; while, if further justification were required, it would be found in the speech to which they had just listened. The right hon. Gentleman commenced his observations by rather deprecating the interference of that House with the London School Board. They had constituents, and therefore it was hardly the business of the House to interfere between them and their constituents, they were told. But if there had not been that Motion in the House, they would not have heard the opinion that for the future the Board must practise economy; while this theory, that no one must interfere between a majority and its constituents, applied not only to local but to Imperial matters; and, certainly, the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends, during the past five years, had not at all brought their conduct into accord with this precept. In fact, that argument must have been invented on the spur of the moment; because it must be remembered that this expenditure did not merely affect the ratepayers of London, but the fees and salaries affected every single elementary school everywhere, and that the raising of salaries in London had practically raised them throughout the whole of England. Before making any observations on the expenditure of the School Board, he would ask the House to bear in mind two facts. With the first point the right hon. Gentleman had already dealt. He (Lord George Hamilton) was one of those Metropolitan Members who suggested, in 1870, that there should be one Central Board for the Metropolis. After their experience of the past few years, they could say that if a School Board had been set up in any other way it would have been almost impossible to work it. The artificial boundaries of the different parishes wore difficult to ascertain; and it would have been almost impossible for each Board, with different bye-laws and different officers and children constantly passing over the boundaries from one parish to another, and from one school to another, to get satisfactorily to work. It did not escape the attention of those who recommended the creation of the London School Board that a power would be placed in the hands of that Board of levying rates such as had never been given to any local authority before. His hon. Friend had alluded to the high salaries of some of the officers of the Central Office. No doubt, they would seem high if paid by any Board but London. But the London School Board had under its jurisdiction a population almost identical in number with the total population of Scotland, and the rateable value of London exceeded by £2,000,000 the whole rateable value of Scotland. Therefore, it was only just and fair that they should make allowances for the great difficulties with which the London School Board had to contend. They had this enormous population put under their control; they were asked to furnish school accommodation for that population, among the children being a large proportion of what were called "wastrels;" they had the greatest possible difficulty in acquiring sites, and there were a variety of other difficulties in their way. It was impossible not to be struck with the ability and devotion with which they had carried out their work, to say nothing of the munificence with which individual members of the Board had shown that they were ready, out of their own pockets, to make donations for promoting the cause of education. He also entirely agreed with what was said about the Chairman of the Board (Sir Charles Reed). He was very well known, personally, to the House; his experience had been of the greatest use to his colleagues, and to his influence was, in a great measure, to be attributed the fact that the religious difficulty had been so satisfactorily settled. At all the Board schools at the present time religious instruction was given, and every year a greater number of children were participating in the instruction so given. All these things must be taken into consideration before they began to criticize the expenditure. They must also remember that the Board was not responsible for the system of education they had to carry out. The system was imposed upon them by the Legislature; and the House might be quite certain if there had been extravagance it was, to a certain extent, the result of a system which the Legislature imposed. This matter was of so much importance that, although the hour was rather late, he hoped the House would allow him to lay a few figures before them, especially as only by that means could they arrive at a conclusion whether the expenditure was justifiable or successful. The London School Board had a population and a rateable value very nearly equivalent to that of Scotland. The number of schools under their control was 257, as against 2,334 in Scotland; and the number of certificated and pupil teachers, respectively, in London was 1,950 and 2,250, as against 3,870 and 3,850 in Scotland. Not only were there a far larger number of schools, but there were also a far larger number of teachers in Scotland; and, therefore, the comparison was favourable to London, and it ought to be able to educate children more cheaply than in Scotland. But, on the contrary, he found the total cost of the maintenance of each, child in a London school, exclusive of the cost of site, building, &c, and counting only teaching staff, books, and apparatus, for 1877–8, was £2 13s. 5d. while in Scotland it was but £2 2s. But the amount expended out of the rates per child in London was £1 11s. 11d., while in Scotland it was but 14s. 5d. In one sense the result was creditable to the London School Board, because their earnings per child were 14s. 4d., while the rate in Scotland was over 16s. Therefore, not only was the system of education, as might be expected, more efficient, but, as regarded the results, it was also considerably cheaper. What, then, was the cause of this very heavy expenditure? It might be divided into two heads—that which related to the supply of schools and the general administration of schools, and that which related to the supply of children. With regard to the supply of schools, he had looked very carefully into the figures himself; and he could assure his hon. Friend that, so far from the supply of schools being excessive, there was, at the present moment, a considerable deficiency. He could prove that easily. At the present moment there were on the rolls of the Board and voluntary schools 600,000 children, while there was accommodation in the schools themselves for but 472,000 children; so that there was clearly a deficiency of school accommodation of 128,000 places. Moreover, London was annually increasing its population; and, therefore, if the building of schools were stopped the number of places wanted must continue to increase. It was, therefore, he thought, quite clear that unless that House chose to reverse the fundamental principle of the Act of 1870—that every district should provide sufficient school accommodation for the children in it—it was quite clear that the supply of schools must be increased. Therefore, so far as the supply of schools was concerned, he thought that part of the expenditure must continue to increase. It was absolutely impossible to think of enacting that London alone, of all the districts in England, should have an educational deficiency; and it would be an everlasting monument of parsimony and impotence that the richest capital in the world should be unable to supply sufficient school accommodation for her children. As to the question whether the supply of schools could be accomplished at a less cost than in the past, the correspondence between the Education Department and the Board was in the hands of hon. Members. No doubt, in certain cases, the expenditure had been excessive; but the attention of the Board had been called to the fact, and he was quite certain that the members of the Board would co-operate, as far as they could, to reduce the cost of building new schools. It was then, on the one hand, perfectly clear that the number of Board schools in London must increase; and, on the other, that the expenditure in connection with the supply of these schools and the general administration must also increase. One therefore turned with more interest to that part of the expenditure which related to the maintenance of the children in the schools; because it was perfectly clear if there were to be more schools, and the charge for the maintenance of the children was not to decrease, that there was literally no limit to the amount which the London School Board would have to levy upon the rates, in order to meet the deficiency arising between the fees and their general expenditure. The cost of maintenance, comparatively, was as follows:—The average in the voluntary schools throughout England was £1 14s., the average of the board schools throughout England was £2 1s.; but the average of the London School Board was £2 13s. 5d. These figures were not satisfactory, and it could not be contended that they were the necessary result of low fees; because in Birmingham, where there were more schools with low fees in proportion to the others than in any other town in the Kingdom, the expenditure was kept within £2 per head. On examining the Estimates of the London School Board, it was very easy to ascertain the cause of this expenditure. Since this Notice had been put on the Paper he had made it his duty very closely to criticize their figures; and he thought they would startle the House, as they had startled him. He found that the average cost of maintenance in the school per child was £2 14s. 7d.; and the average fees, taking all the board schools, was 7s. 6d. per head. A considerable deduction had to be made from that, because all the books, papers, and stationery were provided gratis. They amounted to 4s. 7d., and, deducting that from the fees, they arrived at the astounding result that the average cost of a child in a London School Board school was about £2 10s., and the average contribution from that child in fees was 2s. 11d., or much less than 1d. per week. But in a considerable number of schools the children only paid 1d. per week, and were pro- vided gratis with books, papers, and stationery. The result, again, was then that the average fee paid by all the children was less than 1d. per week, and that no fee whatever was paid in many schools. Of course, he knew certain hon. Gentlemen in that House were in favour of free education. It must be remembered, however, that such was not the intention of the Act. Its intention was to place within reach of the parent a sound and cheap education; but it was not the intention of the ratepayers to give free education. What would naturally occur to many hon. Gentlemen was, whether it was necessary to impose such very low fees? Were the conditions of life so exceptional as to necessitate these very low fees? A School Board alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster)—that of West Ham—afforded a good answer to the question. It was a large urban district, and what was necessary in London they might assume would be necessary there. Yet there the cost, in 1877, was £2 3s. 3d. per child; and in 1878, £1 19s. 11d.; the amount obtained from the Government being quite equal to that obtained by the London School Board. Not only, then, was that system quite as efficient, but it was much cheaper. One cause of this greater expense was the number and the salaries of the teachers employed. Nobody objected to the teachers being adequately remunerated; but certain figures laid on the Table seemed to show that the average salaries of teachers in London were considerably higher than those paid elsewhere. Thus, there were 42 teachers whose salary was between £250 and £300; 26 under £300; 16 between £300 and £325; 7 at £325; 2 at £350; and 1 at £467. The question at once arose, was it necessary to pay these very high salaries; or was it to be considered whether parents could not afford to pay more than 1d.? A very able letter on that subject appeared in The Times from Mr. Rodgers, the Vice Chairman of the Board. He said— It is urged by some that we ought not to pay a teacher more than his market price. But we want the best teachers for London, and we ought to have them, and we should, therefore, pay them above the market price. He did not wish to put too severe an interpretation on that expression; but, unquestionably, the result of the salaries paid by the London School Board had been to raise teachers' salaries all over England; and one of the great difficulties the small School Boards and districts had had to encounter in the rural districts during the last two years had been the getting teachers to accept the salaries they could afford to pay. Therefore, this paying more than the market value in London affected very hardly the ratepayers elsewhere, besides affecting the managers of the voluntary schools. That was another point which would account for the very high expenditure in the London School Board schools. He did not think that a system of low fees with very highly-trained teachers, whose salaries depended on the results of the examinations, were in any way incompatible. But what was the result in these schools? The teacher knew he was dependent upon the result. The better-dressed child; the child which was higher in the social scale, the better educated, the more intelligent, the better for his purpose; and, therefore, this system made the teacher eager to get hold of the very class of children for whom these schools were not intended. It was only fair to the School Board to say that they were endeavouring to alter this, and so to fix the salaries that a less portion of the teacher's remuneration might be dependent on the results of the examination. The question naturally asked, then, was—Is the cause of this very high rate of maintenance in the London schools entirely the fault of the School Board; or is it the natural consequence of the legislation of nine years ago? It must be remembered, also, that the annual grant was not given under the same conditions, and for the same purposes, as it was 10 or 12 years ago. Then it was given, according to the Code— To promote local voluntary effort, and in order to extend education among the working classes. When the Act of 1870 was first introduced, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster) made a proposal which would have obviated many of the difficulties which subsequently occurred, and it was that each district should be responsible for its school supply, and that no School Board should have the power of contributing to voluntary schools without the rates. That proposition was not palatable to the Party with which he was associated; it was withdrawn, and the right hon. Gentleman substituted a proposal by which an increase of 50 per cent was given both to voluntary as well as Board schools. The effect of the Acts of 1870 and 1876 was that compulsion extended throughout the greater part of England, and the children who were at the schools were not exclusively the children of the working classes. On the contrary, the Inspectors of the Education Department estimated that only one-seventh of the children of England had education provided for them otherwise than by elementary schools. The right hon. Gentleman opposite never attempted to define what was meant by elementary education; but, of course, the education of all children must be elementary, and the definition attached to an elementary school was a school where the fee did not exceed 9d. per week. Therefore, they had now drifted from a position in which the grant was given to promote local voluntary effort in extending education among the working classes, to a position where any person could send his child to an elementary school in which, provided the fees charged were not more than 9d. per week, a portion of the cost of that education would be defrayed by the State. That partly depended, of course, on the amount realized by the examinations. Power was given to the School Boards to raise rates for the purpose of extending education, the intention being that the rates were to be used in order to bring cheap education within the reach of those who could not afford to pay high fees. By cheap education was not meant education which should be very cheap to the child, but exceedingly dear to the ratepayer. Under the voluntary system, it was not necessary for the Education Department to place any limit on the expenditure of voluntary schools, because the balance came from private sources, and the managers knew that the larger the expenditure the better was the result of the examination; and, consequently, when the managers of the Board schools found out that by expending more money out of the rates upon the Board schools they could obtain a larger proportion of the Government grant, many of them felt justified in doing so, until, undoubtedly, the result of the system at the present moment was this—that certain School Boards—he did not say they did it intentionally—did dip their hands very deeply into the ratepayers' pockets, and so obtained a very large proportion of this grant from the Consolidated Fund. Now, he ventured to say that was never the intention of the Legislature. The intention of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) and of the late Prime Minister was that in proportion as they increased the grant they should reduce the amount levied from the rates. If hon. Gentleman thought lie was in any way exaggerating, let him just tell them what the results of the examination, compared with the rate of expenditure of the London School Board, had been during the last year. It was perfectly true that the results had been, in one sense, very creditable to the London School Board, because they had succeeded in reaching 15s.d. in London, against 15s.d. in other schools in England—that was to say, they had got 2¾d. more than had been obtained for the children in other schools. But at what cost did they obtain this? Every one of those children had cost 17s. 8d. more to obtain that return; and, in order to get 2⅔d. more out of the grant, the rates had had to contribute 16s. 4d. to produce that result. The question was, whether it was necessary that they should bring the Board schools back to apply the rates in accordance with the intentions of Parliament? There were certain objects very clearly in view in this matter. In the first place, it would be most inexpedient if the House were to do anything which would in the slightest degree affect the efficiency of elementary education in this country. It must, again, be remembered that whoever was at the head of the Education Department had to exercise discretion between the Board schools and the voluntary schools; and although it might be possible to make such an exercise of that discretion as to favour a system to which he was personally favourable, yet he believed that such a course would not only be very improper, but very unwise. It would counteract against the system which it was supposed to favour, and must, undoubtedly, lead to zig-zag legislation that would be detrimental to the cause of education. Therefore, the Government had invariably endeavoured to lay down such lines of action as were consistent with justice and propriety, and which could be maintained by themselves, and with difficulty reversed by those who came after them. Now, keeping those objects fairly in view, let the House see whether they could possibly suggest any proposal to meet the undoubted evil which existed. There were some who suggested that the amount of the school fees should be reduced from 9d. to 6d.; and, further, that no school should be considered an elementary school which exceeded 6d., because there was no doubt whatever that, at the present moment, a very large number of children belonging to the middle classes were educated in Board and voluntary schools with Government assistance, while their parents could perfectly afford to pay for them without any assistance. But it must be remembered that they could not prevent these children from attending these elementary schools, because everybody had a right to do so; and, therefore, the only result of that plan would be that whilst the scholars would continue to attend the fees payable by them would diminish. He could not but feel, himself, that in all large Board districts they must ultimately arrive at a system of graded schools, which would, he thought, tend to efficiency and economy. They could then apportion the teaching staff to the children who had to be instructed, and there were many other obvious advantages. Still, the time had not yet arrived when it would be justifiable for the Education Office to suggest that a general system of graded schools should take place throughout the country. In the first place, one great difference was very obvious. In many parishes and school districts in England there was only one school; and, therefore, it would not be possible to have graded schools. Then, he thought, before the House attempted to do anything in that direction, they should see what could be done by secondary schools in England; and there was no doubt whatever that year by year, under the scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, an excellent system of secondary schools was being established. Well, if the House should reject those two proposals, there was another which he would suggest, and which seemed to him to exactly meet the difficulty. Suppose the House were to say that, in the opinion of the Edu- cation Department, the maintenance of schools, as elementary schools, should not exceed a certain sum, the Return showed that, with the single exceptions of London and Liverpool, the cost of the maintenance of all elementary schools in England was under £2 2s. per child per annum. Well, supposing it was provided that if the cost of the maintenance per child exceeded £2 2s., the excess should be deducted from the grants given to the school, the result would be to show the managers of the schools the necessity of enforcing economy; and if they did not do so, it would be a question for the ratepayers to decide whether or not a limit should be imposed. This proposal had been under the consideration of the Education Department; and, without pledging himself in any way to the details, because the matter required most careful consideration, he thought he might say that the Government might act in that direction. This would effectually tend, he thought, to prevent managers from putting their hands too deeply into the rates in order to get the extra grants. It was perfectly ridiculous to say that the managers of schools had the option of spending as much as they chose of the taxes which were not collected by them. If this proposal were shortly put into practice, what would be the result as regarded London? Of course, it would be very difficult for a School Board at once to reduce its expenditure, and a certain time must be given; but if the first cost and maintenance of the London schools were reduced to £2 2s., there would be an immediate saving of £100,000. That was the suggestion which, on behalf of the Government, he was ready to make. He hoped his hon. Friend, after this statement, would not consider it necessary to press his Motion to a Division. He (Lord George Hamilton) had indicated—and he thought the figures he had quoted showed—that there had been an expenditure on the part of the London School Board which did not seem to be altogether necessary; and, such being the case, he should not, therefore, vote against the Motion; but, on the other hand, it was equally impossible for him to vote for it. It must be remembered that the London School Board was by far the most important School Board in existence; and if the Education Department had any reason to find fault with the expenditure of the London School Board, the proper course would be to write to them, and not by a side wind, by a Motion of this sort, to inflict upon them censure. There were a variety of circumstances which made it undesirable, he thought, for his hon. Friend to push his Motion to a Division. He (Lord George Hamilton) was sorry that he should have detained the House at some length; and if they could so shape their proposal as to make it applicable to the whole of England, he did not think anyone would have cause to complain that it would, in the smallest degree, affect either the sufficiency or the efficiency of national education; but it would show the managers of schools that it never was, and was not now, the intention of Parliament that a great and unlimited use should be made of the rates in order to obtain a larger measure of money raised by taxation. He thought it would also be a distinct intimation to any manager or any Board who took a different view, and who believed that unlimited expenditure was advantageous to the cause of education, that no greater hindrance to the cause of national education could be devised than to make the progress of primary education dependent upon excessive dipping into the pockets of the ratepayers.


said, they had now arrived at a very late hour, yet not a single Metropolitan Member had had an opportunity of addressing the House, nor had any of the members of the School Board, who were also Members of that House, spoken. The statement of the noble Lord certainly, also, ought not to go without discussion and unchallenged. Therefore, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Mundella.)


said, he must distinctly oppose the Motion, unless it was understood that the adjournment was not to be sine die. If, however, the Government could not give him a day, he must take a Division on the question of the adjournment, in order to obtain an expression of opinion from the House as to the conduct of the School Board.


would be heartily glad if the Government could give the hon. Member a day, for the more this subject was discussed the better for the future of education. But to take a Division on the adjournment would be thereby to decide what would, practically, be a vote of censure on the most important local representative body in the country, without its own representatives having been heard. As a matter of fact, at 1 o'clock they had had but four speeches, no member of the Board, or representing the Metropolis, having spoken. Under such circumstances, it would be taking the House at a disadvantage to force a Division.


said, he should vote for the Motion, not because he wished to condemn the conduct of individual members of the Board, who were the creatures of circumstances, but because he objected to the circumstances which placed them whore they were.


thought the Motion for adjournment very reasonable. It would be most unwise to attempt to get a decision on the Main Question by dividing on the Motion for adjournment, because the case had not been nearly sufficiently debated. He should be very glad if the Government could give a day; but he feared that was not very likely at this period of the Session.


said, the Government were fully conscious of the importance of the issue raised, and the ability with which it had been debated; but, at the same time, he feared it was a debate which, at that period of the Session, they could not hope to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. The case brought forward not only raised the question as to the conduct of a particular School Board, but introduced the whole question of our educational System; while the statement by his noble Friend of the views of the Government ought itself to be the subject of further debate. It was, therefore, most reasonable that the debate should be adjourned. The Government would give a day with the greatest pleasure if they felt they could redeem their promise, but that was quite out of their power; and he could only express a hope that an opportunity would be found to resume the debate. The proposition intimated by his noble Friend must come under the attention of the House in another form, when there might be further opportunities for discussion. He did not think the Govern- ment could possibly resist the Motion for an adjournment.


hoped the hon. Member (Mr. J. R. Yorke) would not go to a Division, which would really indicate nothing, as those who voted for it could not be supposed to intend the condemnation of a body which had not even been heard in its own defence.


considered it very unsatisfactory that the debate should be closed in this way; and, therefore, hoped the Government would give them an opportunity of considering the proposals brought forward for the first time by the noble Lord that day.


hoped his hon. Friend would not go to a Division, for it would be most unsatisfactory to give a decision when the full case had not been heard, and when his hon. Friend himself had not had an opportunity of replying to the statements of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster).


also agreed that a Division at that time would be liable to grave misconstruction; but still he thought they ought to have some sort of assurance from the Government that the subject would not be absolutely dropped.


replied, that, so far from the subject being either dropped or forgotten, he proposed to lay Papers on the subject on the Table of the House.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Monday next.

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