§ MR. ANDERSON,
who had the following Notice of Motion on the Paper, which the Forms of the House prevented him from moving—namely:—That, in the opinion of this House, a Royal Commission to visit the Technical and Agricultural Schools of France, Belguim, Germany, and Switzerland, and to report upon them, would be of great benefit in bringing before Parliament and the Country, in the accredited 526 form of a Blue Book, the great advantages the industries of these Countries are deriving from such schools, and that the House pray Her Majesty to appoint such a Commission,said, the House would recognize that they had already had a very excellent illustration of technical education in the speech of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Lyon Playfair). He was very sorry that he was not able to give the House anything half so interesting; but he wished to bring forward this question of technical education—one in which our country was very greatly interested. and in which its prosperity was very greatly concerned. The idea underlying it was that every career required some special training—that it ought to get whatever amount of knowledge and of science, whatever was best fitted to develop its utmost capabilities in every way, so that it might be able to do the very best work that was attainable. In the old time that was recognized as regarded our learned Professions; but not in others. As regarded industrial art it was not recognized. Those educated like himself in the pre-scientific era got a classical education or nothing at all. It was supposed in those days that a classical education was that which fitted anybody, and that if that did not succeed in bringing out a young man's brains nothing else would do it. It was effectual in cultivating a great many splendid intellects, no doubt; it produced a great many scholars, but also a marvellous crop of dunces; and the strange thing was that a great many of those who in youth were pronounced dunces at the school turned out to be the most capable men in the practical business of life. No doubt, that largely occurred through the fact that the proper chord was never struck—that the right education never was given them to develop the intellect that was waiting to be developed. Well, we were now finding out our deficiencies in this matter, but we were finding them out very slowly; whereas other counties found out their deficiencies much quicker than we had done, and did a great deal more to remedy them. Our education was still, to a large extent, classical. We had our primary schools, our secondary schools, and our Universities; but the latter were all more or less classical, and the result was that young men intended for business life probably dropped out of 527 the primary school and got very little other education whatever. In consequence we found our business marts overrun with mercantile men from foreign countries cutting us out of our own trades, and that foreign goods were beating ours not only in the foreign markets, but also in our own. We had foreign engineers, foreign draughtsmen, foreign designers, foreign foremen in our factories; and, on inquiring the reason, we were forced to the conclusion that, whatever the subsidiary causes, the great cause was the superior technical education that was given in those other countries—France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and America. Whatever difference in detail there might be in these countries, they all had this thing in common—they recognized the necessity of a sound, primary education as the substratum for technical education to be built upon. Those intended for the learned Professions went to gymnasiums and Universities; those for practical life went to practical schools. The training of a young man in this country for business life was to send him to sweep out the office. That was the first beginning of every business man, and it was supposed that there was a great deal of virtue in that training; but, in reality, he was left to pick up a training in any way he could. In Germany, a boy would go to a technical middle school, where he would learn all the arts and sciences bearing on the various trades, probably also to a trade school, where the processes to manipulative skill were taught, and then to the Polytechnic, where the highest science bearing on the industries were taught. Thus the Continental schools played into each other and formed a system. There was nothing of that kind in this country; but he believed we should have to adopt that system. In France and Belgium, which were remarkable for manipulative skill, that had been promoted by the schools; and in France there was one school containing about 1,000 boys who were learning carpentry, carving, gilding, engraving, clock and watch making, and the making of mechanical and philosophical instruments. In that way, the French were able to beat this country in all those articles. Manual dexterity and handicraft skill were greatly in need of encouragement in this country. We had gone in too much for cheapness at the 528 cost of quality, and that had tended very much to degrade our handicraft skill. The sub-division of labour had, perhaps, also had the same effect. If a boy was always set to one kind of work, he might attain great skill in that; but he would not become generally a skilled workman. The action of trades' unions also had something to do with it. They had promoted average wages. Average wages meant an average of work, and average of work did not mean excellence of work, but generally mediocrity of work. The breaking down of the apprentice system also tended to degrade handicraft skill. A boy no longer, as in the old time, went to a master who employed few hands and superintended all the work himself, so that the apprentice could become an excellent workman. Now he was, as a rule, sent to a large factory, where there was no such supervision, and he was left to pick up his skill as best he could. When he got out of his apprenticeship he received the average wage; but there was nothing in that to encourage excellence of work. Another cause was the absence of craftsmanship from our educational training. Boys were scorned for having soiled hands, and they thought it more genteel to sell tea, or copy letters, or anything of that kind, than to follow a mechanical employment, although the latter required three times as much brain as the other pursuits did. He should like to see that superstition in favour of genteel employment exploded. He believed it was an open secret that the Prime Minister, for instance, felt more pleasure when he was attacking a tree with his axe than in leading the House of Commons or in translating Homer. Mentioning two or three instances of landed proprietors taking pleasure in handicraft pursuits, the hon. Gentleman suggested the creation of degrees in our schools for such skill, the acquisition of which should entitle the bearers to higher wages than those who had no degrees. In that way, he thought, British work might yet again assert its supremacy over the world—a supremacy it had unfortunately lost, lost at least for a time. On this point he would appeal to the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Lyon Playfair), who went to the Paris Exhibition of 1867 to investigate everything there. He reported that there was a singular accordance of opi- 529 nion that our country had shown little inventiveness, and had made little progress in the peaceful arts and industry since 1862, and that out of 90 classes there were scarcely a dozen in which preeminence was unhesitatingly awarded to us. The one cause upon which there was the most unanimity of conviction was that France, Prussia, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland possessed systems of industrial education for the masters and managers of factories and of workshops, while England possessed none. In 1878 there was another Exhibition in Paris, and the same inferiority of British work was shown. A deputation from the Bradford School of Arts went over, and they were obliged to confess that the result of the training workmen received in foreign countries was such that we were defeated on all hands. A short time ago he was in one of the largest shipbuilding establishments on the Clyde, and in one of the departments he saw a large number of American-made machines, which they said they could buy one-fourth cheaper than in this country. That meant that the American machine maker was able to come to this country, buy our steel or iron, carry them across the water, pay 33 per cent for bringing them into America, pay higher wages, and carriage back to this country, and yet undersell our manufacturers. He had gone into different shops to inquire the price of articles, and on one occasion he saw a beautifully worked steel-barrelled gun, which, if manufactured in England, would cost £12, but which could be made at Liége to sell for £4. If it were asked why America and Belgium were able to make things so much cheaper than England, the explanation would be found in the fact that those two countries had very liberal Patent Laws, while we had not. They were thus able to obtain all the best appliances in the world for their manufactures, and we could not. Another reason was that they possessed an excellent technical system of education, which we did not. With a view to showing that our imports of manufactures were diminishing enormously in those very articles which technical education would improve, while, at the same time, our imports of the same articles were increasing, the hon. Member selected, for the purpose of contrast, the years 1872 and 530 1879, observing, in anticipation of an objection that he had selected a year of depression, that as he quoted both exports and imports that circumstance did not affect the case. From 1872 to 1879 our exports of British products decreased from £256,257,000 to £191,531,000, or not less than 25 per cent. But the figures, which would best prove his case, were these—
|Cotton manufactures exported—|
|A decrease of 18 per cent.|
|Decrease, 51 per cent.|
|Decrease, 23 per cent.|
|Decrease, 30 per cent.|
|Iron manufactures (excluding bars and pigs, and ordinary block material—|
|Decrease, 16 per cent.|
|The aggregate result of these articles was—|
|Decrease, 28 per cent.|
|Then, as to the imports, the figures were these—|
|Increase, 54 per cent.|
|Increase, 40 per cent.|
|Increase, 36 per cent.|
|Increase, 30 per cent.|
|Increase, 49 per cent.|
|The aggregate results were—|
|Increase, £6,740,000, or 39 per cent.|
§ Thus it appeared that not only foreigners, but our own people, were becoming dissatisfied with our manufactures. Passing for a moment to the question of agriculture, the hon. Gentleman com- 531 plained that whereas in France and in America there were large numbers of schools in which agriculture was taught, we had only two such schools—at Cirencester, and Glasnevin, in Ireland—which were doing good work, but were very inadequate; and he contended that until we adopted some such system, we should not be able to compete with those countries in this respect. In Glasgow they had a very good Weaving Institute. They also had a Mechanics' Institute, which was subsidized by £700 a-year, and they had an endowed school, which it was intended to convert, by a Private Act of Parliament that had been obtained, from an old elementary endowment into a purely technical school; and at present it was half technical and half elementary. At present the people of Glasgow did not recognize the need of technical education. They did not see the advantage of it, and, consequently, did not keep their children at school long enough to render them fit for receiving technical education. Then, again, the Board schools did not turn out their pupils with that amount of primary education that would enable them to take advantage of the first rudiments of a technical school. There was thus a great want in Glasgow, and it was a very unfortunate state of matters that their elementary education was such that it was not sufficiently good to build technical instruction upon it. In that respect they were not better off in England, because the primary instruction of the Board schools was not sufficiently good to enable them to put technical education upon it; and that was one of the things that would have to be considered in introducing any foreign scheme of education. The reason that primary education was better in foreign countries was that, for the most part, it was free. In Switzerland education was free, and in France and Germany it was to a large extent free, while in America education was entirely free. He believed that as long as they had school fees they would have an inferior education. School fees made it to the interest of the schoolmasters to have as many scholars as possible without reference to their capacity for teaching them. That would go on as long as they had fees. He believed London, owing to its magnitude, was the only place in this country where they might hope to find a 532 sufficient number of trained scholars to get the benefits of good technical schools. He rejoiced at the efforts the City Guilds were now making, and he hoped they would persevere. It was intended to have a technical University at South Kensington, for which ground, at a nominal rent, was to be given by the Great Exhibition Commissioners. The cost of the building would be £76,000, for which £30,500 had been subscribed by the Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, and other City Companies. Instruction would be given in applied physics, applied mechanics, and applied arts, fitting the students to become technical teachers all over the country. That was a principal object of the College. Leaving the City Guilds Institute to provide the University, and also to manage the technological examinations, for which latter object the subscriptions were likely to be increased to £3,000, he thought that the Government might fairly take up and assist those examinations in some way. It ought not to be expected that that sum of £3,000 would be very greatly exceeded without some Government help if it were found necessary. The Institute had given grants in aid for other useful purposes, its efforts not being confined to London alone, but benefiting, to some extent, the country at large. London was thus about to do a very good work; but it must be remembered that every fourth-rate town on the Continent now did quite as great a work as that. The Swiss town of Zurich, 20 years ago, spent £100,000 on a Polytechnical University, which was kept up at a cost of £18,000 a-year. That was done 20 years ago, and was a larger thing than we were going to do now. In that University at Zurich they had 6,000 students, and in Germany there was a debate about a year ago, the universal opinion being that what had been done up to the present was only the beginning of what ought to be done. If that was only a beginning on the Continent, he would ask what position we were in who had hardly begun the work? Until lately all our education in this country was pretty much voluntary effort, and a great deal of it eleemosynary effort. They had lately taken to make their primary education a national system; but they would have to do a great deal better yet, because. on the Continent, not only 533 was primary education national, but technical science was national. They were supported by the States and Municipalities; and unless they copied the Continental system they would not be able to carry out the work as it ought to be done. It was for that reason he had troubled the House with this too long speech; and he felt he had been unable to do justice to this important subject, which was a subject on which the future prosperity of our country depended. The information was in the country, but not sufficiently general; and, therefore, he wished it to be in the accredited form of a Blue Book, in order that the people might be led to understand their future living depended upon something being done in the direction he had indicated.
§ MR. COCHRAN- PATRICK
hoped the important subject brought forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow would receive the consideration from the Government which its merits deserved. He did not think it would be denied that our national greatness had depended to a large extent in the past, and must depend in the future to a still greater extent, on our national prosperity; and it followed that the Government should do all in their power to assist our commercial and manufacturing classes to keep in the front rank in the contest with other competing countries. One of the most important factors in the element of success was to know what other competitors were doing. It was highly necessary that the attention of the manufacturers in this country should be prominently directed to the progress of foreign industries, and to the causes on which that progress depended. It appeared to him that the Motion of his hon. Friend was exactly calculated to meet the object. The very appointment of a Royal Commission in itself would attract the attention of the country to those important matters; and the evidence which the Commission would have it in its power to put before the House in an accurate, authentic, and authoritative form, would constitute a most perfect basis for consideration, and, if necessary, for future legislation. One of the objects of the Motion of his hon. Friend was to lay before the country, and those who were likely to be benefited by the information, the result of what was being at present done in other 534 countries. Some years ago we had an encouraging example in the same direction. In 1867 or 1868 a Member of the House laid before Parliament a very instructive and important Paper on this subject of technical education abroad; and that was followed by a Circular addressed by Lord Stanley to our Representatives in foreign countries. The answers to that Circular formed a very important body of evidence. There was also laid before the House a translation of the highly important evidence laid before a French Commission appointed to inquire into the subject of technical education. These matters stimulated inquiry; and the result was so advantageous that we could not do better than repeat the example at the present time in the way proposed by the hon. Member for Glasgow. The hon. Member (Mr. Anderson) also proposed to get information with regard to the systems of technical instruction which existed in other countries, and which existed very imperfectly, if at all, in our own country. They had a strong argument in favour of this by what was to be seen in other countries, and most notably in Prussia, Austria, and Hungary, which had lately very largely increased their systems, showing that in these countries technical education had been felt to be a practical success. One of the results, especially in Austria, where within the last three or four years a very marked increase had taken place both in the quality and the quantity of the instruction, was shown by the practical result at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. In the reports of the artizans who were sent over by the Society of Artizans, it would be found that Austria, in almost all the chief manufacturing arts, had made a very great increase compared with what her manufactures exhibited at the Exhibition immediately preceding. On the last occasion we had of making international comparisons—namely, the Paris Exhibition of 1878—the general opinion of the Artizans' Committee, and other skilled persons who investigated the subject, was that while great improvement had taken place since 1867 in our artistic taste and skill, our progress in the mechanical and constructive arts had been by no means satisfactory. It would be interesting to ascertain, by means of the Royal Commission, the cause of this state of things. In refer- 535 ence to the practical break down of the apprentice system, he said it would be a very important matter for the Commission which it was desired should be appointed to investigate this subject, especially by the light of the experience gained in France, where the same evil was keenly felt some years ago. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would accede to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, and appoint a Commission. He was perfectly certain that the results of such a Commission would be most important, and most interesting, and most valuable in everything relating to the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I think I should best consult the convenience of the House if I say that Her Majesty's Government recognize to the full the importance of the subject which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) has brought forward. I confess, however, that I am not able to agree with my hon. Friend in many of the arguments lie has advanced. I do not consider that the question of technical education requires to be bolstered up by any argument directed to show the decadence of British manufactures. For my own part, I do not believe in the inferiority or the decadence of British manufactures. In that respect we stand as well throughout Europe as any other country in the world. The very figures put forward by my hon. Friend are quite sufficient to refute his own pessimist views upon that head, and I will for a moment refer to one or two of them. My hon. Friend took 1872 and 1879 as years of advance and falling off. Our exports amounted to £256,000,000 in 1872, being the largest export trade we had ever experienced; and my hon. Friend contrasted that year with 1879, when the exports fell to £191,530,000. No doubt, a decline from £256,000,000 to less than £192,000,000 shows a great falling off; but, in 1872, prices were at their maximum. Coal, iron, and all the manufactures of the country, reached their maximum price in that year, and the subsequent fall brought about a good deal of depression and a good deal of loss. 1879 may be said to have been the minimum year, seeing that prices were unprecedently low. But, if my hon. Friend would take the quantities, I do not think it 536 will be found that there has been any falling off. The falling off was mainly in the difference in price, and I am prepared to maintain that the prices in 1879 were much more healthy prices than the artificial and inflated prices of 1872. My hon. Friend gave a comparison of imports, in order to establish his case, and talked about our manufacturing supremacy having fallen off. Now, I believe that both myself and my hon. Friend have been engaged in industrious pursuits all our lives; and certainly my practical experience does not enable me to bear out the views of my hon. Friend. Take the case of silk. The imports of silk in 1872 were about £9,500,000, and in 1879—this year of depression—they were £12,500,000. In lace, also, my hon. Friend said the British manufacturers were also losing their supremacy; but it is nothing of the kind. The increase of imports arose from a change of pattern, and change of pattern has had very much to do with the fluctuations in most industrious pursuits. I believe that the Yorskhire trade—the Bradford trade—has suffered for many years almost exclusively from change of pattern. The old lustre goods of Bradford material have gone out in favour of soft wool goods, and the trade has been reduced to a point which it had not reached for a great many years. But, apart from this, I think my hon. Friend has advanced arguments which went far to sustain his case. I quite agree with my hon. Friend as to the great importance of the subject, and I believe that a subject of this importance warrants a great deal more interest, and a discussion in a much fuller House, than it attracts at this moment. If there is any nation in the world which has to depend for its progress, and almost for its existence, upon its manufacturing industry and its commercial spirit, it is this country of ours. Our land is limited in extent, and we have had to employ an increasing population for years. We are increasing our population at an enormous extent. The population of England and Wales has increased two and a-half times within the present century, and for what can we look for the support, maintenance, and employment of this rapidly increasing population but our industrial resources? And, while we have great national resources, while we have coals and iron close to- 537 gether, while we have a quick and vigorous population, more fertility of invention than any other population in the world, great powers of application, and certainly the largest capital in the world to enable us to develop our resources, yet in the race of competition we cannot afford to lose a single point, and it is of the utmost importance that we should have the necessary knowledge of scientific appliance for the development of these resources, in order that we may maintain our manufacturing and commercial superiority. My hon. Friend, in the course of his speech, spoke of the state of the Patent Laws. I quite agree with him that they are odious, and that they urgently need revision. I hope the time is not distant when the Government will deal with them. My hon. Friend also referred to the strides which foreign nations have made in competition with this country, and to the manner in which that foreign competition was made apparent in 1867. We always have been alarmed whenever foreign nations have showed any signs of advance. We have been so accustomed to have all the world at our feet, and so ambitious to do all the work of the world, that we have been unable to understand any other country than England being able to do anything. But we cannot monopolise all the results of scientific research and modern invention, and we now find that most of the countries of Europe, and especially the active and vigorous race of people in America, are able to compete with us in the markets of the world. I take credit to myself for having been one of the earliest to mention the words "technical education" in this country. But for a long time it was like kicking at a dead horse, and even at this moment the value and importance of technical education are hardly understood and realized by our countrymen generally. It is hardly realized in this House what an important influence it has already exercised upon the manufacturing industry of other nations. I believe that there is considerable progress being made in this respect—a silent progress, which, when I came to look into it, certainly astonished me. My hon. Friend says that the basis of all technical education must be a good primary education—a useful and intelligent foundation. But my hon. Friend also said that the great obstacle was the 538 school fees, and he went on to contend that the schools should be absolutely free, and that until they had the schools free they could not hope to make any great progress in technical science. In reply to this, I could point to a country which has made more progress in scientific education and in technical education than any other, but where the schools never have been free, and are not free at the present moment. I refer to Saxony. Saxony has done more, and is doing more, at this moment, in the matter of technical education than any other country of the world, and yet in that country the school fees are paid by the very humblest citizen. It is of no use to generalize. I do not say that this is an argument for free or against free education; but I do say that there is no use in generalizing and saying that the school fees are the hindrance. The apprenticeship system has broken down here and in every other country. The apprenticeship system, where you have a minute sub-division of labour, which is the result of modern science, cannot much longer be maintained. We want something better and higher than the old system of apprenticeship to bring out the intelligence of the very best workmen, and let them be the captains and the lieutenants of the industry in which they are engaged. The idea of giving technical education to the whole of the working classes is an entire mistake. It is an impossibility, and it ought never to be attempted. You can only place technical training within the reach of those who possess the natural talent to use it and apply it. There is a very remarkable pamphlet in the press, which is being published by the City Guilds, and among other useful things I think this will be found one of the most remarkable. I know the author of it. He has had 20 years' experience, gained by residence in a German town, and in simple, plain language, and with great intelligence, he describes the whole system of education adopted in that town, from primary instruction, up to the highest technical education. I will read one or two extracts to show what the views are of those who are advocating this system abroad. The writer says—The old apprenticeship system having become obsolete and gone overboard, and scientific and technical knowledge being now required in all branches of manufactures, institutions like this are becoming an absolute necessity.539 He describes the institutions already in existence at Berlin, Munich, Nuremberg, Aix-la-Chapelle, and elsewhere. They are truly marvellous institutions, and fully justify the praise given to them. Last autumn I took the opportunity of visiting some of them. I had seen what Germany was doing 20 years before; but I must confess that I was perfectly astounded at the development which has been made in the last seven or 10 years. My hon. Friend has spoken of what the City Guilds in London propose to do. He spoke of an Institution which is to cost £20,000 or £30,000 to build. There are institutions which have been established within the last four years abroad which have cost as much as £100,000, compared with which there is nothing at all in this country. Even the Polytechnic Institution at Zurich far surpasses anything of the kind in England. I see that at the University of Aix-la-Chapelle they expended last year £60,000 on a laboratory alone. Provision is made in that University for studios in mining, manufacturing industry, mechanics, and all the skilled labour carried on in Westphalia. In that institution there are 23 Professors, with a very large auxiliary staff, and the work they are doing is of far greater usefulness than most hon. Members would imagine. I will not dwell further upon the matter, because I know it is a dry subject; but I will proceed. to tell the House something of what we are doing here. We are receiving evidence which shows that the progress we are making in this country is much greater than my hon. Friend gives us credit for. We must take into consideration what is being done by Owen's College in Manchester, Mason's College near Birmingham, and the Yorkshire College of Science at Leeds—a new institution, with a weaving school, where not only theoretical but practical science is taught. So far as it goes, the studies there are as good as in any school to be found anywhere. There is also a school at Bradford; and Huddersfield has turned its Mechanics' Institution into a school for technical science. In Manchester, a gentleman has, I believe, left a magnificent legacy of £150,000, which is to be devoted to the furtherance of technical education; and generally throughout the country there is much more interest in, and appreciation of, the subject than ever ex- 540 isted before. Still, I grant that we should be a great deal better for such information as my hon. Friend asks the House. I think it would do good service if we could have placed before this country, in a reliable form, the great advantages which the industries of France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland are deriving from technical schools; and I think that we should not exclude the advantages derived from the application of art to manufacturing industry. That should be quite as much our aim as the application of science to industry. Let any man take back his mind to the state of art as applied to manufacturing industry at the time of the first Exhibition of 1851. A piece of china, or of carpet, or of furniture such as was produced in those days would shock our senses if we saw it before us in the present day. The productions of 1851, instead of being works of art, were only fitted for the chamber of horrors; and we should all be ashamed to see them exhibited now. I can claim for South Kensington that it has done marvellous service for the country. Compare the state of art in the present day with the state of things in 1851, and I do not think we shall find that any nation in Europe has made greater progress than we have in the art attainments of our students as applied to manufacturing industry. In our design and colouring of carpets, in our iron manufacture, in our textile manufactures, in our china, and in other branches of art industry in all our great towns, and especially in the district which my hon. Friend represents, all the decorative arts are now carried on in a strain of beauty such as they never attained before in our history, and we bear a most favourable comparison with any other nation in that respect. The French, of course, hold their own; but they have not made the same strides we have made, and they are jealous indeed of the progress we are making, and which threatens to catch them up in time. In order to show what we have been doing, I may say that in 1860 the number of science schools under teachers was only 8; in 1870 it was 799; and in 1880 it was 1,391. The number of classes in 1860 was 20; in 1870 it was 2,204; and in 1880 it was 4,932. The number of persons receiving science and art education in 1860 was 386; in 1870 it was 541 34,283; and in 1880 it was 60,878. And the work is of a much more thorough character every year. Every year its character is being raised; every year it is becoming much less desultory dilletante work than it was a few years ago; and every year it is assuming a more useful and practical character, and becomes more fitted to be applied to the general industry of the country. We have 37 training colleges, containing 1,663 students, exclusive of the science teaching in the public elementary schools, which I look upon as the first step in art. For art teaching in 1879 there were 733 art night classes, with 29,393 students; 146 schools of art, with 29,191 students, besides the training school at South Kensington; and, in addition, there is art teaching in nearly 5,000 elementary schools to nearly 700,000 pupils. These figures show that we are making real and essential progress. I am glad to say that my noble Friend the Lord President has entered thoroughly into the question with myself, and we have lately been inquiring very carefully into the School of Mines and the School of Science at South Kensington, with the view of making them more useful and practical institutions than they have ever been before, by encouraging the Professors to turn out really trained teachers capable of giving useful technical scientific instruction all over the country.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I can assure the hon. Member that the Government are doing all they can for Ireland in the matter of technical education; and I can promise him that if we can only get the earnest co-operation of the Irish Members, which I certainly hope to get—[Mr. O'CONNOR POWER: Certainly.]—we shall do everything we can to push forward science and art in Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow said that at present we have no evidence before the House of what is being done in this matter—that we have up to a certain date, 1868—but that since that time there has been a complete revolution; and that 1868 must be regarded as an antediluvian period, as compared with the present day. But to whom were we indebted for the information supplied in 1868, and which, at that time, was very good information in regard to what 542 had been done? We have, in the volumes which have been laid on this Table, as good a statement of the condition of technical education in Europe in 1868 as it is possible to obtain; and we owe it, in a great extent, to the ability, intelligence, and public spirit of my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson), who forced it upon the attention of the House, and conducted an inquiry in a semi-official capacity, at his own expense, for three months—the result being that he was able to produce a Report that did a great amount of good, and that led to very satisfactory results. I am very glad to find that the City Guilds are now following up his example. But, after all, what are they doing? A mere bagatelle. However, there is no doubt that they are now discharging the functions for which they were originally established. They owe their existence to the industries of this country. Their affairs and their functions are connected with the industries of the country; and if they will only devote their energies and their great wealth to the service of those industries, as they have now begun to do, I am sure we should be willing to forget the past, and should be glad to have the advantage of their co-operation. I want now to tell the House how I propose to meet the wishes of my hon. Friend. I am sincerely anxious that the House and the country should be in possession of the information he asked for. I should like them to realize how important this matter is for the future of the country; and what I propose to do is this. I do not think it is needful for the purpose that we should appoint a Royal Commission to visit the various technical schools all over France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland—because, to appoint a roving Commission to travel all over Europe, would be a very expensive and, I think, a needlessly tedious process. If I can induce, and I hope I shall succeed in doing so, some gentlemen who have real technical knowledge to do in the coming year what my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury did in 1867—if I could persuade my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury once again to take up this work, and associate with himself two or three other gentlemen representing the various manufacturing industries of the country, I believe that the greatest 543 possible advantage to the country would follow their labours. If two or three gentlemen of industry, and possessing scientific attainments, representing the mining, iron, and textile industries; and, if possible, I should like also to see somebody representing agriculture—if such a body of gentlemen were to go together all over Europe and give us a Report, I can only say that they would render a great service to the country. The Foreign Office would be ready to give them all the assistance possible. I can promise them that the Science and Art Department will render them every assistance. We will give them a Secretary. I am sure they would enjoy the work, and they would render a good and patriotic service; and it would not be necessary for them to make any appeals to the Treasury. There would be great advantages in an arrangement of this kind. After all, what Englishmen do for themselves is better done than what a Government does for them. I feel sure that it is only necessary to make this statement to insure applications from 20 or 30 able volunteers from whom the three or four gentlemen we want could easily be selected. I am satisfied that the House and the country would be grateful to them for undertaking the labour; and I am satisfied that I can find men with the right knowledge and the right earnestness who will be willing to do the work. I will engage that it shall be done, and that by this time next year the House shall be in possession of all the facts that are required, and that we shall have before us as complete a statement of what is being done, how it is done, and the advantages which are derived from doing it by Continental nations as we could possibly obtain from the best Royal Commission we could appoint. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept my assurance of complete sympathy with the object which he has in view, and that he will withdraw the Motion.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he would not detain the House at that hour by making the speech which he had intended to make if he could have obtained an opportunity of addressing the House earlier. He should certainly not have ventured now to interpose at all, if it had not been for the statement on the question of apprenticeship which had been made by so high an authority 544 as the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to that subject would be read by a very great number of people, and would be quoted hereafter as an authority upon it. If he remembered rightly, the right hon. Gentleman said that the system of apprenticeship had almost gone out of practice, and that it would have a tendency to become more so in the future, as labour became more sub-divided in the manufactories. That was a statement which he (Mr. Broadhurst) very much regretted to hear; and he could not understand how any hon. Member who was an advocate of technical education could have cheered such a sentiment, as he had heard it cheered, when it was uttered by the right hon. Gentleman. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, if he would give his attention for a moment, what sort of a mechanic he could expect to have produced in an engineering shop unless the man had served some regulated number of years of apprenticeship?
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. BROADHURST
continued. He exceedingly regretted that the subject of apprenticeship had not received more attention. A question of greater importance to the future position of the country amongst the manufactories of the world could hardly have been introduced. They were, however, so fond of discussing questions of war and peace that it would appear as if no time was left for discussing the greatest interests of England as a manufacturing nation. He could not allow the discouraging observations of so high an authority as the Vice President of the Council with regard to the system of apprenticeship to pass without offering some remarks in reply. If apprenticeship was gradually to be abolished, how could it possibly be expected that England could compete with the clever, able, and highly skilled manufacturing nations of Europe and America? How was it possible for our skilled moulders in iron and brass to obtain a high and skilled technical knowledge of their trade unless it was by an application to that trade continued for a number of years? Again, with 545 reference to the hardware trade. An hon. Member had pointed out that American goods were being bought at the shops in London in preference to English made goods of this class. Whether that statement could be borne out by actual proof he was not in a position to say. No doubt, however, there was something in it, or the hon. Member would not have ventured it in that House. But if it were so, it was because the goods in question were more highly finished and displayed greater artistic taste than the goods produced in this country. If, then, the system of apprenticeship was to be abolished, a decrease, instead of an increase, in taste and finish must be looked for. Then there was the jewellery trade of Birmingham, Sheffield, and other large centres. The very essence of success, as regarded this trade in commanding the markets of the world, was a thorough knowledge and long training to the business. All the great trades he had referred to—the iron trade, building trade, and the furniture trade, the latter having to compete largely with the furniture trade of Belgium and France—required a long apprenticeship to produce efficiency. If, therefore, the system of apprenticeship was to be restricted, our power of competition with other countries would be decreased. He had no hesitation in saying that, if there had been any advance made upon us by other nations in the matter of skilled production, it was due to the rapid and loose system we had, in connection with the skilled trades, of not insisting upon thorough apprenticeship. He held that when apprenticeship was entered upon the employer who undertook the responsibility of teaching should be compelled by law to discharge his duties in that respect. One of the chief sources from which technical education was to be obtained was the early part of the time during which a lad was apprenticed. He had very little confidence in colleges and workshops provided for grown up men. If they wanted to produce a highly skilled class of workmen in any branch of industry, the elementary knowledge which must ultimately develop into the highly skilled and artistic knowledge must be obtained before the age of 20, and ought to be imparted, to a great extent, before the age of 15. He would suggest that this ques- 546 tion of technical education formed a part of some other subjects, which he sincerely hoped would command greater attention than they had hitherto. The law of apprenticeship must be amended, and employers must be made responsible for the fulfilment of the contracts entered into by them when they took apprentices into their firms. At present it was no uncommon thing to find a factory or workshop with 10 or 20 apprentices to seven or eight journeymen, the former of whom, instead of being kept at their trade for the first two or three years of their time, were employed in unskilled labour in order to save the grown up labour which was always required to be done in manufactories. He said that the moment a lad was apprenticed and properly indentured to any trade he should be set to work on the rudimentary parts of that trade, and that every opportunity should be afforded him of pursuing his studies in the higher branches while he was working at the practical part of the trade. That, he thought, was the method to be carried on, in order to keep this country abreast of the highly educated people of France, Germany, Switzerland, and America. The deductions to be drawn from the statements of the hon. Member for Glasgow with reference to trade unions were that their practical working was to strike an average wage above which no man could rise, and below which no man was permitted to work. Now, that was altogether a mistake. Trade unionism had struck an average of wage; but it did not insist upon a man not obtaining a higher class of skill in his trade if he pleased. It had certainly never professed itself against a man's being paid a wage above the average in the trade. He ventured to tell the hon. Member for Glasgow that he had never heard of a strike by a trade union demanding a reduction of wage. No such thing had ever happened. Then his hon. Friend went on to say that members of trade unions never received a higher wage than the average fixed by rule. But that was not so. There were highly paid and low paid men in all trades unions, precisely as there were in other professions. He made these remarks for the purpose of correcting a slight misunderstanding on the part of the hon. Member for Glasgow, who, he felt sure, would appreciate 547 the spirit in which they were made. It only remained for him to express regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council should have uttered any discouraging words with regard to the apprenticeship system. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would find an opportunity for toning down the effect which those words might have in the country if they wore allowed to go forth as uttered, without a protest.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, the House was very much indebted to the hon. Member for Glasgow for the introduction of the present question. He was extremely gratified by the businesslike discussion which had taken place upon questions of so much interest to the country; but he was compelled to express his surprise that the Conservative Benches were absolutely empty. He had thought that, in the present state of the farming interest, hon. Members opposite would have been particularly anxious to ascertain what was being done by foreign nations with reference to agricultural schools. There were one or two institutions of the kind in this country; but still we were far behind other nations in this respect. It was, therefore, most important that every possible information should be obtained from abroad which could throw light upon the great question of agriculture. There were some points with reference to technical education which he should have been glad to make some remarks had the time permitted; but at that late hour he would only say they had much to learn, both as to the kind of technical education which should be given, and the best system of giving it. Upon that point, also, information from abroad was most desirable. He trusted his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow would accept the suggestion thrown out by the Vice President of the Council, and that the hon. Member for Banbury would also see his way to assent to the proposal made to him.
An hon. MEMBER added his testimony to the benefit derived from technical education, by instancing the case of two comparatively uneducated young men of the town which he represented, who had both obtained grants of £50 a-year from the Science and Art Department, and afterwards risen to important positions 548 abroad in connection with their respective trades.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he felt gratified at the allusion to the report which he had made; and although he could not agree with all the reasons advanced by the hon. Member for Glasgow in favour of appointing a Royal Commission, he believed that the work of such a Commission would be of considerable service to the country. On the other hand, he differed almost entirely from the hon. Member as to the decadence of English manufactures. He had no belief in that whatever. For instance, in naval architecture they were far ahead of all other nations. The Institute of Naval Architects, and the Iron and Steel Institute, both of which would hold their meetings in London within the next six weeks, held the first rank throughout the world in the arts which they represented.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,