§ (Dr. Cameron, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Duncan M'Laren, Mr. Ernest Noel, Mr. Peddle, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Henderson, Mr. Mackintosh.)
§ [BILL 6.] SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: After prolonged deliberations, Parliament has again and again, in the cases of England and Scotland, pronounced in favour of compulsory education, and on each occasion on which it has reverted to the subject it has extended the application of compulsion. In the first English Education Act the adoption of compulsory bye-laws was left optional. In the last Parliament, another Act was passed, and the result is that, according to the latest Report of the Committee of Council on Education, 73 per cent of the entire population of England and Wales, and 97 per cent of the borough population, are now under compulsory bye-laws. In the case of Scotland, a more summary method was adopted; and on the passing of the Scottish Act, I am happy to say, compulsory education became law from one end of the country to the other; but in the case of Scotland, during last Parliament, legislation was again invoked to make that compulsion more ready and effective. Having adopted the principle of compulsion in education, it was open to Parliament to follow one of two logical courses. It might either have laid it down that to educate his children was the duty of every parent quite as much as it was to feed or clothe them. It might have enacted that every parent must educate, as he must feed, his children, at his own cost, providing, in the one case as in the other, that where the parent, through poverty, was unable to do so, the parish should step in to ward off from the child intellectual, as it now does physical starvation. This course 718 might have borne harshly on parents of the poorer class; but it would have had the merit that it would have left us free trade, which in education, as in other matters, insures competition and economy. The one duty of the State, through such local machinery as it might appoint, would have been to see that the minimum of education required was afforded; and we should have been saved from much responsibility, from many inducements to extravagance, from all interference with private enterprize, and from a costly machinery for the collection and distribution of grants and rates. Or Parliament, in dealing with the question from a logical standpoint, might have adopted another view. It might have held that as compulsory education had been enacted in the public interest, it was the public business to provide that education as far as it was compulsory. It might have decreed that schools of the sort required should be scattered over the country wherever needed, and that the education therein afforded should be free to all. But in dealing with this question, as with every question of practical politics, the Legislature found itself face to face with existing interests; and the result was, of necessity, a compromise. Notwithstanding the great simplicity and the many advantages of non-subsidized compulsory education—of a system compelling the parent to provide education as he provides food for his children—Parliament put that course and the arguments on which it would have rested entirely aside. It acknowledged the principle that, the compulsion being decreed in the public interest, the public should pay for it, and that wherever through poverty the parent was unable to contribute anything to the education of his children, the entire cost should be defrayed out of public funds, without entailing upon him the stigma or disabilities of pauperism; but when, in addition to contributing his quota to the educational rates and taxes, the parent could be made to pay fees as well, Parliament decreed that he should do so. There was no logical justification for this course; but Parliament adopted it in the interest of existing voluntary and adventure schools. Or, probably, more correctly speaking, in the interests of the voluntary denominational schools alone, for the elementary adventure schools, hav- 719 ing neither rates nor subscriptions to fall back upon, are rapidly succumbing to the subsidized competition to which they are exposed, and will soon in Scotland be a thing of the past. The result is, that for every child in average attendance at our Scottish board schools—and, as the House knows, school boards are universal throughout Scotland—for each child in average attendance at our board schools the public pays, in the shape of grants and rates for instruction and school maintenance, £1 10s. 11¾d. a-year; and in the shape of interest on the cost of buildings at least another 8s., or, say, £1 19s. in all. On the other hand, the parent of each child so attending, besides paying his share of the rates and taxes required to make good the public subsidy, has to pay on an average 12s. 5½d. in addition in the shape of fees. According to the last official Report, more than half the children at board schools in Scotland pay between 4d. and 6d. per week of fees, and a little over a third of them less than 3d. The fees at our board schools have, in fact, been generally fixed on the principle of being as nearly as possible those which ruled in the different localities previous to the passing of the Education Act. I know that this is the case in Glasgow, and I believe that the same principle was generally adopted elsewhere. The parent, therefore, finding himself charged very much the same as before, though probably for a superior education, is not sensible of the advantage which he derives from the State subvention. The school fees of his children continue to be to him the same burden as they were before. He must send them to school; but he need not send them regularly, and when they are absent he feels—I speak of the class of parents for whom compulsion is necessary—he feels that he can not only turn their services to account at home, but that he is saving the fee, which, being equal to the old fee, is to his mind full value for whatever benefit they gather from school attendance. The consequence is, that whatever obstacle the fee presented to regular school attendance before the passing of the Scottish Education Act, it presents still, and in order to overcome it we are obliged to employ an elaborate and costly machinery of compulsion. We endure in that respect all the draw backs 720 that would have been incidental to the adoption by Parliament of a policy of unsubsidized compulsory education; while we have sacrificed all the advantages which the adoption of that system would have carried with it. Free trade in primary education is defunct. Primary adventure schools are already all but extinguished. Voluntary schools supported by those denominations to which the mass of the population of Scotland belong—Presbyterian denominational schools—are being so rapidly absorbed into the public school system that their total extinction is also only a matter of a few years. The only class of voluntary schools which, in Scotland, can possibly hold their own against the public schools are the Episcopal and Roman Catholic schools; and their number is only 196 out of 3,003 schools in receipt of Government grants. Under our present system of maintaining what, in the course of a few years, must become almost entirely a public school system, the collection of the fees, which yield less than a fourth of the total cost of the education of each child, involves as much. book-keeping and time and labour as would the collection of the entire sum by fees; and the exaction of those fees conduces to absenteeism and irregular attendance practically to the same extent as the fees did before 1872. The retention of the fee necessitates lavish expenditure to carry out compulsion in towns, and in the country makes effective compulsion impossible. On the other hand, putting aside the grants in aid, which are competed for by all alike, the payment in the case of board schools of about 2d. out of the public rates for every ld. gained in the shape of fees extinguishes private competition as effectually as if the entire 3d. were thus defrayed and fees altogether abolished. It involves the same cost for collection, and it equally conduces to that extravagance which characterizes public as compared with private undertakings. How deeply the nation is interested in promoting the education of every child may be judged from the enormous sums paid out of the public purse with that object. In Scotland—to which, for reasons presently to be explained, this Bill alone relates—the annual grants to elementary day schools from the Imperial Exchequer amount to close on £350,000, and each year's 721 school rates are over £200,000 more. Already, in six years, £2,200,000 has been provided out of the public funds—£450,000 in the shape of building grants by the Exchequer and the remainder at the expense of the localities, to erect school accommodation. And what results have we achieved? There were in Scotland, in 1879, 650,000 children between 5 and 14, exclusive of about 108,000 who received instruction in schools of a higher grade than those aided by the Education Department. Of these only 482,000, or 74¼per cent, were on the registers of State-aided schools; and of these only 385,000 were in average daily attendance—385,000 out of 650,000—or under 60 per cent. There was accommodation in the Board schools alone for 50,000 more than the total average attendance at all the elementary schools. This was the result of all our expenditure and our elaborate system of compulsion. Now, there is no question that, much as this leaves to desire, it is a great advance upon the state of things which prevailed before the passing of the Act of 1872. But what we have to consider in connection with the question of retaining or abolishing school fees in public schools is this. What effect have these fees in frustrating the object of all our legislation and expenditure—what effect have they in keeping away from our schools the 25 per cent of the children of school age who are not upon the roll, or the 41 per cent of the children of school age who are daily absent from school? Granted that the Education Act has given a great impetus to education in Scotland, how much of that impetus is due to the enactment of compulsion, and how much to the subsidies to public schools which, under that Act, are paid from the rates? Well, let us try, in the first place, to solve the latter question. The essential difference in the case of our primary schools in Scotland before and after the passing of the Act was this—that previously to it the schools were all supported by fees and what they could earn on the principle of payment by results from the Government grant; and, of course, in the case of voluntary schools by subscriptions. Since then the position of schools other than board schools has remained practically unaltered. They, in common with board schools, exact fees and earn their share of the Government grant. 722 In fact, they remain, so far as the financial arrangements are concerned, as they were; and the only change in their position is that introduced by the competition of the board schools, which, in addition to fees and earnings from the grant, receive from the local rates a subsidy, including interest on buildings, of 22s. per pupil in average attendance. Compulsion has operated all round; and it is a noteworthy fact that, in the one class of schools which has refused to have anything to do with the school-board system—the Roman Catholic schools—the increase has been quite as remarkable as in the case of the board schools, and those Presbyterian denominational schools which are being rapidly merged into them. In illustration of this fact, I may mention that in Glasgow, which possesses by far the largest Roman Catholic population of any town in Scotland, the number of pupils in attendance at elementary Roman Catholic schools had increased from 5,000 in 1873 to 9,000 in 1880, or 80 per cent, which is a little over the increase that the aggregate attendance at the Presbyterian schools, sessional and board, shows over the sessional schools which, in 1873, educated the same class of children. This fact, I think, points out that in Scotland compulsion has had more to do with the increase in number of children attending our schools which has taken place since 1873 than the large subvention, amounting to close on 2d. out of every 3d. drawn as fees, which the board schools receive from the rates. Let us now, on the other hand, look at what can be done in the way of promoting public education, by means of the abolition of fees without the assistance of compulsion. There are in Scotland 758,000 children between 5 and 14, of whom 482,000 are on the registers of schools aided by grants, and we are told that a seventh more of the entire number receive instruction at schools of a higher grade. This would bring the entire number receiving instruction up to 590,000 out of 758,000, or under 78 per cent. In America Free Education has been adopted in one State after another, and since 1871 it has been universal throughout the Union. In some States there has been a nominal compulsion; but, with the exception of Massachusetts, at the date of Mr. Adams's visit, compulsion had been found more 723 or less inoperative, owing to the nature of the method adopted. But, as I have said, fees had been done away with, and the result was that in 1873 in 17 States of the Union—I quote from Mr. Adams's work on free schools in the United States—the enrolment of children, without distinction of age, colour, or nationality, in private and public schools, exceeded the entire number of children between 5 and 15 years of age, and in three other States it ranged from 88 to 91 per cent of the children between those ages. In the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1872, quoted by Mr. Adams, statistics are given of the school attendance in 50 of the principal cities throughout the Union, ranging in population from New York City to Nashville, Tennessee. From these statistics, the Commissioner arrives at this conclusion—If the enumeration of the school population of all the cities were confined to the population between 6 and 16 years of age, and the number of children at parochial and private schools were fully reported, the total enrolment in the public and private schools would probably cover about 90 per cent of the youths between those ages.As for the average attendance, enrolment being so universal and the maximum school age being higher, it is not easy to institute a comparison between the state of things found in America and that which exists in Scotland; but in Scotland the average attendance at elementary schools is 385,000, and the total number accounted for in higher grade schools is 108,000. If we assume the latter, then, to be in constant attendance, the total number of children between 5 and 14 being 758,000, it will give us a ratio of average attendance to total children between those ages of 65 per cent. This 65 per cent of the total population between 5 and 14 would be equal to under 59 per cent of the total population between 5 and 15, which is the ago on which the American results are calculated; and the figure I have taken, assuming, as it does, a constant attendance on the part of one-seventh of the whole number of children—those attending higher grade schools—is, of course, above anything which could possibly be attained. Nevertheless, from a table in Mr. Adams's book, showing the ratio of average attendance to total population between 5 and 15 in 31 States in the Union in 1873, 724 we find that in 14 States the figure of 59 per cent was exceeded, and in five States the ratio ranged from 70 to 80 per cent. These facts seem to me to prove that if you want to get the best value in the shape of universal public instruction out of the enormous sums of money annually spent in subsidizing our educational system, you will succeed better—if your choice is restricted between compulsion and Free Education—by adopting the system of Free Education than by the method of compulsion; and that, in a system compulsory and only partially free, you will, while incurring the cost and disadvantages of both systems, accomplish little more than you might accomplish by means of the unsubsidized compulsory system alone. Committed as the nation is, and especially as Scotland is, to enormous investments in school property, I do not think that the possibility of withdrawing all contributions from rates, and insisting on the parent bearing the entire cost of a compulsory education will suggest itself to anyone. The practical problem, therefore, comes to be a comparison between the present system and a compulsory system uncounteracted by the antagonistic influence of fees. If 14 States in America, by means of Free Education, were seven years ago able, without effective compulsion, to show a better state of things than we can yet do by means of compulsion and education free to the extent of three-fourths, it shows, I think, that with a compulsory system such as we possess, and education entirely free, we might accomplish the object for which we pay so much still better than is done in those 14 States. You already pay out of public moneys 15s. of every £1 spent on public education; and if you find that the exaction of the remaining 5s. in the shape of fees largely neutralizes the effects of all your expenditure, it comes to be a very practical consideration whether it would not be wiser to drop the fees altogether and see whether you cannot get full value out of the 5s. they now produce raised in some other manner. I do not think this is an experiment which the nation should be called on rashly to adopt; but I maintain it is one of which it is most important we should have an opportunity of ascertaining the results, and, therefore, one which Parliament should encourage rather than forbid. I therefore propose to make the adoption of 725 Free Education permissive. The Bill, of which I shall move the second reading, applies only to Scotland. I have restricted it in this manner for several reasons. In the first place, we have the entire country governed by school boards and under a compulsory system of education. Again, as regards voluntary schools, England and Scotland stand upon an entirely different footing. In England there are 14,000 voluntary schools against 3,100 board schools, and the attendance at the voluntary schools is three times what it is at the board schools. In Scotland, on the other hand, the board schools already outnumber the grant-earning voluntary schools by over 4 to 1, and these voluntary schools—with the exception of that portion of them maintained by the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians—are annually decreasing, and in the course of another decade, unless some very decided change occurs, will be almost extinct. To show how diverse is the tendency in the two countries, contrast what has occurred in England and Scotland. In England, in 1870, there were 8,281 voluntary schools in receipt of Government aid, with an average attendance of 1,152,000 pupils. In 1879, the same class of schools had increased to over 14,000, and their average attendance to 1,925,000. In Scotland, on the other hand, since the passing of the Act, the number of voluntary schools has decreased from 1,900 in 1872 to 629 in 1879. In what are called the "sessional and other" schools, a class which may be described as Presbyterian voluntary schools, in Glasgow, for example, the number of pupils on the roll, which, in 1873, was 27,000, has progressively gone down to 12,000 in 1880. In England the public schools may be making rapid strides, but the voluntary schools are also advancing, and still constitute by much the larger part of the national educational machinery. In Scotland, on the contrary, the board schools are monopolizing elementary education of every kind, with the exception of that desired by the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, who in Scotland constitute but a small fraction of the population. It may take some time before the others are completely absorbed; but absorbed, if the present state of things goes on, they must be in a comparatively few years. In 9 out of every 10 school districts in 726 Scotland there are neither Roman Catholic nor Episcopalian schools. In a vast number of parishes all the Presbyterian schools have been handed over to the school boards, so that board schools are now the only schools in existence. Their revenue consists of rates and fees and what they can earn by results from the Department. So far as the latter are concerned, the Department in its gigantic expenditure can have only one object; and, provided the efforts of the school board tend towards that object, why should they not be allowed to manage their local contributions in their own way? In some districts there may be objections to the abolition of fees. In some places they may amount to a respectable sum, and the number of children educated outside board schools may be such that Free Education, by bringing them in, would largely increase the rates. In a number of instances, the process of absorption of the voluntary schools has not yet gone far enough, and the locality is not yet ripe for the total abolition of fees, though it will be in a few years. But in many others the board schools afford the sole means of education, and the fees amount to a more bagatelle. There are many districts in which the fees are really not worth collecting; and the local opinion is that it would be much better to do away with them altogether, and meet the entire expense by another ¾d. or ½d. or ld. in the pound of assessment. I hold in my hand a Return—No. 35 of this Session—which, to be candid, I obtained by mistake. I asked for certain particulars regarding a dozen towns in Scotland; and, through the misplacing of a comma, the information was furnished for all the school boards in Scotland. Sir, I am grateful for the mistake, for it has shown a case for Free Education in many of the remoter districts, of the strength of which I had no conception. It shows that in one school district—Kintail—where ld. in the pound produces £21 15s. 7d., the fees received during the year ending June, 1880, amounted only to 13s. It shows that in Barra, of £2 17s. 4d. received in the shape of fees, £1 5s. 5d. was paid by the Parochial Board; that in Stenscholl, of £3 19s.3d. received as fees, the parish paid 6s. 10½d.; and in Moy, where ld. in the pound produces £35, against £4 5s. of fees, paid by parents, £2 17s. 11d. was paid by the Parochial 727 Board. It shows that in many other places the net fees received during the year amounted to less than £10; and it shows, further, that in 182 out of 930 school board districts, or one-fifth of the entire number, the total fees not paid by Parochial Boards were less than the produce of a rate of ld. in the £1. This accounts, doubtless, for the fact that at a conference of the Highland school boards held at Inverness in January, 1875, a resolution was passed that—Having regard to the fact that in some instances the amount of recoverable school fees does little more than pay the cost of the collector, and for other reasons, it should be at the discretion of school boards to give free elementary education to all children between the ages of 5 and 13;and this probably accounts for the fact that the Town Council of Inverness has petitioned in favour of my Bill, which practically embodies that resolution. What is the result of the exaction of fees? I give it in the words of an Inspector of Schools in Scotland, who wrote me privately, in consequence of a report which he had seen of a lecture I last year delivered on Free Education. He Says—I Write to say how heardly I agree with you in the matter of Free Education. No one who has not the sort of practical experience which an Inspector of Schools interested in the matter possesses Call have any idea how enormously the efficiency of our present educational system is lessened by the ridiculous custom of making the parents pay 3d. for 1s. worth of education. Children are kept back weeks and weeks from school in order to save the fees, so that, in many country districts, nearly two months of the school year are practically lost. if a child is ill on Monday, he is kept away from school for the whole week, lest the parent should pay 3d. for what he wrongly supposes to be worth only 4–5ths of 3d. If the parent cannot pay at all the child is often kept away, while the board, parish, and sheriff indulge in a kind of triangular duel.He goes on to say—Consider the very common case of a child who thus loses 22 weeks (one-half the school year). He only pays 5s. 6d. in fees—if he pays them—and the school not only loses the 5s. 6d. which he does not pay, but the 15s., or other sum, which he might, if qualified, have caused to be added to the general grant. Thus the parish is a dead loser to the extent of 9s. 6d. A great deal of school-time is taken up in collecting fees. It is said that the people will not value the education they do not pay for. At present we know that they value it at less than what they pay for it, and have no conception of its real value. Wherever it is free, as at our Heriot Schools, in Switzerland, in the Tyrol, in Bohemia, America, &c., people do value it, and feel that the children 728 lose something when not sent to school. It is a remarkable fact that in Switzerland and the Tyrol compulsion is not needed. The compulsory officer does not exist, and the idea of a child of school ago not being sent to school is not dreamt of. This I know from personal experience.As illustrating further the results of our present system, here is an extract from a letter I received some months ago from the master of a board school in Lanarkshire. The writer says—An instance of the absurdity of the present system has occurred in this district. I stated some of the particulars in a former letter to you. We have compulsory education, but the only way our school board has of enforcing payment of fees is to exclude children unless they pay fees weekly in advance. This system has increased the irregularity in attendance very much. No fee, no admission to school. The case to which I allude was that of …. The children were dismissed for the want of fees in the end of April last year. The Parochial Board refined to pay for them; the Sheriff declined to commit the parent on tire ground of his poverty. In a new action the Sheriff found the Parochial Board liable to pay the fees. The Parochial Board appealed to the Sheriff Principal, who dismissed the appeal as incompetent. The Parochial Board took the opinion of counsel as to the effect of en appeal to the Court of Session. This not being favourable to the views of the Parochial Board, they, a week or two ago, signed an order through the Inspector of Poor to admit the children to the public school at the expense of the Parochial Board. But before this decision has been arrived at, four or five times the amount of the school fees have been expended in the various legal processes, and the man's four children have been excluded for the last eight months.Under the system of the working of which that is a practical example, the fees of 16,000 children in Scotland are paid by the Parochial Boards; and in a large percentage of these cases there is much wrangling, litigation, and delay. Now, of course, in all these cases you have Free Education—education paid for entirely out of the public purse—in the worst and most demoralizing form possible. Of course, too, the parents of school boards are not always successful in throwing the fees upon the parish, and in these unsuccessful cases there is further wrangling, and litigation, and interrupted education. Again, a vigorous application of compulsion may bring the children to school; but, as we have seen, it cannot make them attend regularly. The more respectable classes of our poor will not send their children to school exposed to the insult of being turned back for non-payment of fees, and if 729 they have not the fee to send with them they keep them at home. The result is that the efficiency of the school is so much impaired. The expenditure of public money on it is in so far wasted, and the board is deprived of the opportunity of earning so much of the Government grant. Now, some of the shrewder boards have come to see this; and in Glasgow, for example, according to the Return No. 18 of this Session, from which I quote the fact—The Board having given instructions to the teachers to deal leniently in cases of arrears when they were satisfied of the willingness of the parents to pay,during the year of depression ending in June last, £1,233, or over 6 per cent of the whole fees payable otherwise than by Parochial Boards at the ordinary day schools, was left unpaid; 7,900 pupils, or over one-fourth of all the pupils paid for by their parents, ran into arrear. The result of this—I may mention in passing—was that, notwithstanding the exceptional depression of the year, the average attendance at the board schools showed a decrease of only one-fifth of 1 per cent on the previous year; while in the voluntary schools of Glasgow generally, the decrease was 2⅓ per cent, and in the sessional schools, which educate the same classes and the same denominations as the board schools, it was 1½ per cent. To illustrate the kind of no-system with regard to fees which prevails in our Scotch board schools, I may mention that in the case of Glasgow, besides the 7,900 who had the £1,200 worth of their fees practically remitted by the school board and 3,141 who had their fees paid by Parochial Boards, there is a rule exempting from fees the eldest of four pupils of the same family attending school, and charging only half-fees for the eldest of three. Under that rule, 726 children were exempted from fees, and 2,118 were charged only half-fees. Adding these figures together we find that 13,885 children, or nearly half the number on the roll of our Glasgow School Board, last year had their fees either wholly or partially remitted or paid out of the rates, and that, in a large number of their cases, the education so provided was not elementary, but the most advanced provided by our board schools. Notwithstanding all this liberality, it costs Glasgow over £4,000 a-year to 730 keep up its compulsory machinery, and the efforts of the school board in that direction are attended with only this success, that 63 per cent of the children between 5 and 13 are on average attendance at any school. Now, though I have adduced the case of Glasgow by way of illustration, I do not mean to say that Glasgow is at all ripe for Free Education. I believe that in the course of another five or six years it will be so; but at present the same difficulty exists which would exist to the adoption of Free Education in England, though to a very much smaller extent. There are too many children being educated outside the board school system in voluntary schools. These, however, as I have more than once said, are being rapidly absorbed into our board schools; and when that is accomplished to a greater degree than at present, it will be time enough to consider the desirability of abolishing fees. Edinburgh, on the other hand, has already a large number of free elementary schools supported by endowment. Nearly 5,000 children receive Free Education at these Heriot schools, and when, some years ago, it was proposed to charge a small fee in order to enable a larger number of children to receive a very cheap education, the artizans rose in arms against the proposal. They have there seen the extraordinary regularity of attendance, and the success which the free school system has achieved. They know that the percentage of absenteeism at the Heriot schools is a mere fraction of that which exists at the board schools. The result is that Edinburgh is quite ripe for the experiment. In Edinburgh the gross amount derived from board school fees is little over ¾d. in the pound of rating. Various authorities have estimated that the abolition of fees would be met by an extra ld. of rates, and not merely the artizans, through their Trades' Council, but the Town Council of Edinburgh, have petitioned in favour of this Bill. Elsewhere, where public opinion has found expression regarding it, it has been expressed in opposite directions very much according to the position of those concerned. The working classes, who constitute the vast majority of those whose children attend board schools, who are familiar with the hardships and inequalities of the present system, and who inhabit cheap houses, see that it 731 would be much better for them to bear almost any extra rates than to pay fees. The wealthier classes, on the other hand, whose children derive no benefit from board schools, and who pay higher rates, naturally dislike the prospect of further assessment; and the Roman Catholics, who dislike the entire school board system, have also pronounced against my proposal. Well, it may be said that it is the duty of Government to protect these classes against any act on the part of the rest of the community which would lay additional taxation upon them. My argument is, that the law has given Government no such power, and intrusted them with no such duty. Provided only a fee is kept up each school district is left to adjust the ratio between its rates and fees for itself. Thus, in Birmingham, the fees paid by each pupil in average attendance are only 6s. 7½d., and the rates contribute 17s. 10½d., besides interest on cost of buildings. In London, fees average but 8s. 11d. a pupil, against rates to the amount of 31s. In Glasgow, on the other hand, we pay 16s. per scholar in the shape of fees, and only 10s. 9d. from the rates; while in the neighbouring burgh of Govan, where the fees are 14s. 1¾d., the rates only contribute 4s. 7¾d. per scholar. Now, what is to prevent us cutting down our fees to one-half of their present amount? The difference would, of course, require to be made good out of rates; but our fees would still be above those of Birmingham, and not much below those of London. Independently altogether of what Government may decide regarding this Bill, I trust that this is a course which the school board electors will insist in adopting on the first available opportunity. It may be convenient that I should now compare the Scotch and English law on the subject. For not only, as I have pointed out, does the public education in the two countries stand on quite a different basis as regards the proportion of the work done by voluntary schools, but as regards the imposition of fees it is different also. The section of the English Education Act which regulates the fees to be charged is the 17th, and reads as follows:—Every child attending a school provided by any school board shall pay such weekly fee as may be prescribed by the school board with the 732 consent of the Education Department; but the school board may from time to time, for a reasonable period not exceeding six months, remit the whole or any part of such fee, when they are of opinion that the parent of such child is unable from poverty to pay the same; but such remission shall not be deemed to be parochial relief given to such parent.Section 26 of the same Act entitles the school board, with the consent of the Education Department, to establish free schools; but both sections provide that nothing can be done without the consent of the Education Department. In Scotland the law which regulates the levying of fees is laid down in the 53rd section of the Act of 1872, as follows:—The school board shall, subject to provision hereinafter contained with respect to the higher class public schools, fix the fees to be paid for attendance at each school under their management, and such fees shall be paid to the treasurer of the board, and a separate account shall be kept of the amount of the fees derived from each school; and it shall be lawful for the school boards, if they see fit, to pay to the teachers of a school the fees derived from such school, and to divide the same among them, as the school board shall determine.Now, it will be observed that in these important particulars the law on the subject is different in the two countries. In the first place, while in England fees must be fixed with the consent of the Department, in Scotland they are fixed by the board alone. In England school boards are expressly empowered, subject, of course, to the same repressive control, to establish free schools, a point to which in the Scotch law no allusion is made; and, while in England school boards are authorized to remit fees, in Scotland they can only permit the parents to run into debt, or refer them to the parochial authorities for the money to pay them. Now, Sir, it may very fairly be argued that as the consent of the Department is never mentioned in the Scotch Act, it is not intended that the Department should interfere in the matter, especially as under the Code the only restriction placed upon grants is that only those schools shall be eligible for them whose fees are less than 9d. a-week. But, on the other hand, it is argued that if Scotch boards were intended to have the power of Free Education, it would have been explicitly conferred upon them as under the English Act, and then there would have been no provision for the payment of fees by the Parochial Boards. On this view the Education 733 Department act, holding that it is not legal for a school board in Scotland to abstain from charging fees altogether; but, on the other hand, as it was customary for teachers before 1872 to make a reduction, or even entirely to remit the fees in the case of a third or fourth child of the same family attending school, it is not illegal for a school board to continue the practice now the fees are payable to their treasurer, instead of, as formerly, to the teacher himself. Under this interpretation of the law—which, I may mention, is that of the Scottish counsel of the Department—permission has, I understand, been refused to school boards who wished to abolish fees altogether, or to reduce them to a mere nominal sum. For the Department, although not entitled to be consulted in fixing the fees to be charged, can withhold the grant when the school board acts in an illegal manner; and although there has been no judicial decision as to what are or what are not the legal rights of Scottish school boards in the matter of fees, the Department—as controller of the purse—is master of the situation. Having thus explained the difference between the two countries in their respective laws regarding fees, and the place occupied by voluntary schools in their respective systems, my contention is that the position assumed by the Education Department towards England and Scotland should take into consideration the differing circumstances of the two Kingdoms. In England, where voluntary schools perform the principal part of public education, and where the Education Act has expressly given the Department a veto power on education solely at the expense of the rates, it may be quite proper that the Department should interfere to prevent a system which would alienate the voluntary schools. But in Scotland, where the existence of such a power on the part of the Department is purely constructive, and where the voluntary schools constitute not one-fifth of the elementary school system, when the most important portion of them is being rapidly absorbed by the board schools, and where in hundreds of parishes board schools are the only existing State-aided schools, my contention is that each locality should be left to manage the local finances of the board schools as it likes. If a locality finds—as expressed in the resolution 734 which I have quoted of the Highland school boards—that the fees do not pay the trouble of collection, and frustrate the effort to get the children to school, I maintain the locality should be at liberty to abolish them. I do not ask any money from the Government to enable boards to do so. I do not propose that they should receive any extra grant; but I say that the fact of their preferring to earn that grant in the way that best suits their local circumstances should constitute no bar against their competing for it. This proposal involves no complication, no re-adjustment of grants, no injustice to England as compared with Scotland, no injustice to districts where fees are charged as compared with free school districts. So far as the Department and the Imperial Exchequer are concerned, were this Bill an Act, the present arrangement of grants would work perfectly fairly and perfectly well. You do allow school boards the widest latitude at present as regards the apportionment between fees and rates of their local contributions to public education You allow them any latitude, from Kintail with its total of 13s. of fees to £174 of rates, to Govan with its 14s. of fees to 4s. 7¼d. of rates. On what principle do you insist on Kintail keeping up a system which yields it only 13s. a-year, or a dozen other districts I could cull from the Return levying fees which do not amount to more than £5 or £10? You allow the school board of prosperous North Berwick to levy a rate of 1d. in the pound, and to charge fees which do not amount to what another ld. would yield; while in other districts the rates run up to 1s. and 2s., and even 3s. in the pound, though the total fees paid—as in the case of Mid and South Yell—may not equal the 70th part of the amount raised by assessment. There is no principle involved in this, except the principle of local self-government; and if you admit that to the extent you do, it is absurd not to admit it altogether. Parliament has swallowed the camel, and I do not see on what ground the Department should strain at the gnat. Parliament has laid down the principle that it is the duty of each locality to tax itself for public schools; but the extent of that taxation it has left to be decided by the school board, and the school board electorate of each district. On these Parliament has laid the responsibility of de- 735 ciding how much of the local contribution shall be raised by fees from those who send their children to the schools, and how much by the rates from those who may send them, or may refuse to send them, to board schools as they please, but who must pay the rates all the same. These rates may not amount to one-third of the fees, as in the case of Govan, or they may amount to 70 times as much as them, as in the case of Kintail; but the Department has nothing to do with that. That is a point on which the school board and its electorate have absolute power, and my proposal would introduce neither any now principle nor any hardship to which any class of ratepayers are not at present exposed at the hands of the same school boards, which I propose to authorize to decide as to the retention or abolition of fees. Now, I, of course, know all the hackneyed arguments against Free Education in the abstract; but there is not one of them which applies more to education absolutely free than to education three-fourths free, as is the average in board schools in Scotland, or four-fifths free, as is the case in the London board schools. We are told it is incumbent on every man to feed and clothe his children; but the State does not pay for their food and clothing. Of course not; but neither does it defray for the parent 9d. out of every ls. expended on their food and clothing; in fact, it recognizes no analogy between the two cases. But, again, it has been argued against my proposal that it is demoralizing, and by one or two critics that is un-Christian—that it would pauperize our population and secularize our education. I should like to know how it would pauperize them. If payment from the public purse of the cost of public education pauperizes the beneficiares, the parents of all children at public schools in Scotland are already demoralized and pauperized to the average extent of 15s. in the pound, and the operation has done them so little harm that I am not afraid of the result of the other 5s. As I have explained, the eldest of the three children is commonly charged only half-fees, and the eldest of four gets Free Education pure and simple. Are they more pauperized and demoralized than their brothers and sisters; and, if so, why is so easily rectified a source of demoralization allowed to continue? As to secularizing our 736 schools, my proposal would leave them precisely where they are. The law provides that the school board constituency of each locality shall elect school boards, who carry out the wishes of the majority with regard to religious instruction. I neither propose to alter this arrangement, nor do I propose to alter the constituency. How, therefore, my proposal could in the slightest degree affect the present situation of religious instruction in public schools I entirely fail to apprehend. The fact is, that the provision of public schools entirely by rates has no more to do with demoralization, or pauperization, or secularization than the maintenance of streets entirely by rates, or the erecting of bridges, or the support of the police, or any other provision for the common safety and welfare which in every civilized community is made at the common expense. That expense, in the case of local services, is borne by local rates, and the incidence of those is regulated by principles which may not be absolutely fair and just, but which are well understood, and which are applicable to rates for every purpose alike. The dirty may not like to pay the cleansing rate, the rogue may object to the police rate, and the ignorant man or the philosopher to the school rate; but while each may grumble each must pay, and the public services provided by the money thus raised are the right of all men, fully paid for by the contributions which the law requires them to make, be those contributions great or small. The present system of Free Education through the agency of Parochial Boards has, indeed, an admitted pauperizing effect; but for a citizen to send his child to a rate-supported free school would have no more tendency to pauperize him than to walk along a rate-maintained street or road instead of paying a toll at every couple of miles. It may be said that there has been no general demand for this Bill from Scotland, and that a number of Petitions from all sorts of people have been sent in against it. Were it a compulsory Bill, that might constitute an unanswerable reason for rejecting it; but it is permissive. If it were law to-morrow, each school board would be at perfect liberty not to adopt it. Because Glasgow is not ripe for Free Education, why should not Edinburgh have it if she likes? But, Sir, I am not in any hurry about passing this 737 Bill. I should not like to see the Government commit itself against a principle which I believe to be the correct principle of public education, and which is being adopted by one great nation after another; but I fully recognize the fact that Free Education, accompanied—as I think it should be—by local control, is not a thing to be forced on a nation. Next year, the school board constituencies of Scotland will have an opportunity of expressing their opinions, not indeed upon the question of free schools, for I am not sanguine enough to imagine that, whatever the fate of the second reading, Parliament will pass this Bill this Session; but they will, under the existing law, be able, if they choose, to indicate their bias, and to return Members pledged to cut down fees. They will have it in their power so far to pronounce in favour of Free Education as to resolve that the tax on school attendance in Scotland in the shape of fees shall not be more than it is in London or Birmingham; and if they do so, they will for themselves have bridged over half the distance to Free Education, they will have accomplished half what I am contending for. With every step they make in the direction of cheap fees, a portion of the financial argument against Free Education will disappear. In the United States education has been free from one end of the country to the other for the last 10 years. One British Colony after another has adopted Free Education. In Europe, for a long period, it has been the system of Holland, Switzerland, and Sweden. In Vienna, in 1878, there were 59,000 children receiving Free Education, and in Berlin 76,000. And this very year the French Government has passed a law abolishing fees in all public primary schools throughout France. If, therefore, as a nation, we are to hold our own with other civilized communities in that intelligence and preparedness for the battle of life which education is intended to call forth, it is evident we must not lag behind the rest of the world in the facilities we afford for education. In Scotland our educational machinery is perfectly adapted for the change, and I propose to have recourse to it only where the public want it. If it should cost a little more money, I do not ask the Education Department to supply it. I ask them only to give us permission to take off the brake. In con- 738 clusion, I have to thank the House for the patience with which it has heard me, and I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ COLONEL BARNE
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he felt bound to apologize, as an English Member, for having put that Amendment on the Paper; but he did so last night on finding that no one else had given Notice of opposition to such a pernicious Bill. The, as he considered it, first thing that struck one on looking at the Bill, and the names of the hon. Members on the back of it, was the absence of any County Members' names. He would like to know whether the hon. Member who introduced the Bill (Dr. Cameron) had asked any County Members to back the Bill? [Dr. CAMERON: The County Members will, some of them, support it.] If there were County Members who were going to support the Bill, he could not help thinking that in the next Parliament they might, perhaps, not have the honour of their presence. The chief reason he had for objecting to the Bill was, that it must have the effect of demoralizing the artizans and labourers of Scotland at the expense of the rest of the ratepayers. Another reason he had for objecting to the Bill was, that if the principle of the Bill was passed, it would in all probability spread its pernicious influence towards England; and he must say, on the part of his constituents, that they had the strongest objection to the spreading of any such influence in that direction. Another reason that he had for opposing the Bill was that he was very fond of the Scotch, and, generally, he had no wish to see them demoralized. If the Scotch people would drink less whisky, and be a little less Radical, he would like them still better. The Bill appeared to him to illustrate the objections entertained by many persons to the lowering of the franchise further than it was already lowered. They must perceive how prone people were to pander to the desires of the lower portion of the populace, in whom the greatest power in the boroughs was at present placed, and to try in every way to sacrifice the interests of the larger 739 ratepayers to those of the smaller, and those who were not ratepayers at all. It reminded one of the French Revolution—of Robespierre and of Danton, who used to fawn on and pander to the mob, and who called them "Good people, generous people, noble people," these same people being the frequenters of the lowest purlieus of Paris. No doubt, if the Bill did pass, in many places in Scotland it would come into operation. It was equally true that the small ratepayers outnumbered, as in England, the larger ratepayers; and, of course, it must be to the interest of the smaller ratepayers to have their children educated at the expense of the larger ratepayers, for the abolition of school fees must infallibly increase the rate. The Bill was one directly in favour of the artizans and the labourers, and, in the present agricultural and commercial crisis, it was, in his opinion, the labourers and the artizans who suffered the least, for their wages had fallen in very small proportion to the loss of profits sustained by their employers. If the principle of the Bill was carried out to its fullest extent, they might as well bring in a Bill to give each labourer and artizan a good hot meal every day at the expense of the ratepayer. The principle in both was identical, and he would not despair of seeing some such Bill as that he had indicated being brought in next year. He understood there were many Scotch County Members going to oppose the Bill. He would, therefore, leave the difference between the English and the Scotch Education Acts to their consideration, and to ask for information on that subject, as he must say that he had not studied the Scotch Education Act. The hon. Member (Dr. Cameron) had shown that the school fees formed a very appreciable part of the school expenses, and said that he found, in Scotland, parents were inclined, on various pretences, to keep their children back from school, in order to avoid the fees, and that the school boards were unable to collect those fees, except at a very great expense. In England, they did not find any great difficulty in collecting these fees. There was no difficulty at all in suing the parents for those fees, and if one or two examples were made of parents in this respect the difficulty would not be so great, for the rest would pay up without further trouble. The 740 hon. Member said that Glasgow was not yet ripe for this Bill, but that Edinburgh was. He said the artizans of Edinburgh had petitioned in favour of it, and also the Town Council. Of course, if the artizans of Edinburgh were in favour of the Bill, and as they elected the Town Council, he could quite understand how it was that the Town Council were in favour of the Bill. The hon. Member also proposed to cut down the expenses of the school boards. If he would bring in a Bill to cut down lawyers' and doctors' fees, he (Colonel Barne) would heartily support him; but he was afraid he could not do so on this particular occasion. The Bill must infallibly add to the burden which already oppressed the land and the richer portion of the community; and, therefore, under all the circumstances, he could not support it, and begged to move its rejection.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Colonel Barne.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he believed the Bill of his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) was not supported by the public feeling of his constituents; and he was sure it was not supported by the public feeling of Scotland. He rose at the same time as the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Barne) for the purpose of making an appeal to his hon. Friend, and the appeal he should make was, that his hon. Friend should rest satisfied with having ventilated the question in an able and most interesting speech, and that he should now withdraw the Bill; that he should leave the question to be considered for the next five years, by which time, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, public feeling would be ripe upon the question; and at the end of that time, if he then saw necessity for it, he could re-introduce it to the attention of Parliament. For himself, he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was opposed to Free Education generally throughout Scotland or the United Kingdom; and, having that opinion, it occurred to him whether he should not give Notice of opposition to the Bill. In fact, he should have done so, but that he had been in some difficulty as to the present law on the subject. As he read 741 the law, Free Education was within the discretion of any school board throughout Scotland—that was to say, they could impose such small and nominal fees as almost to amount practically to Free Education; and, therefore, he thought it would be better to allow them to go on exercising their discretion in the matter without interference. Further, they could not well discuss the Bill only as a merely permissive one, applicable to certain places; but must consider its bearing with reference to the whole of Scotland; and, if it were so applied, it would be very difficult for school boards in other parts of the country to get the people to pay fees. The consequences of this Bill were so serious, in fact, that the House should hesitate before committing itself in any form to the adoption of such a proposal. His hon. Friend, he thought, had advocated this question on very narrow grounds. He had discussed it almost from beginning to end with reference to its bearing on compulsory education. It was not said that the fees, as now levied, pressed so unduly on the working classes as to amount to a grievance, in which it was the duty of Parliament to relieve them. On the contrary, his hon. Friend's contention was that, as Parliament had done so much for the working classes, they ought to do everything for them. He could not follow his hon. Friend in that line of argument. He thought that, having put the schools on their present efficient footing, they had a right to expect that those persons who had children should contribute according to their means for their education. Then, with respect to the question of compulsion, he did not see any very great difficulty as to that. In the old times, the feeling in favour of education was so strong that there was little necessity for any compulsion whatever; and, although there were now certain cases in which the parents neglected their duty, still, as a principle, he thought the system formerly existing acted soundly; and he hoped the time would speedily arrive when they could return to it. He considered, therefore, the difficulties to which his hon. Friend had referred were of a temporary character, and he looked forward to the time when there would not be that difficulty of driving the people to school, but that the people would come forward to take advantage of the 742 education offered them, and would not require the adoption of such compulsory rules as those proposed by the Bill under consideration. The question was a very large one, and before they adopted it one ought to consider to what it tended, because it was no light tax. If it were adopted, then the rates to be levied should not be employed for the benefit of a certain class, but for that of all, as was the case in the United States of America, where large sums were raised for education; and that American system was what they would have to look forward to and to face if they agreed to the principle of the Bill. What would be the pecuniary result if the Bill became law? It would throw an additional £250,000 upon the ratepayers of Scotland. Even then it would not have the effect of entirely breaking up the adventure schools, though he believed a great blow had been dealt to such schools owing to the fact that the school boards in general had adopted the principle of religious education. He thought the ratepayers had a right to be considered; and, considering how heavy local rates were now, sonic better ground should be given than the ground given by his hon. Friend as to why they should adopt so sweeping a measure. Moreover, if they were to go the length of the United States system, they would run the risk of reviving the religious difficulty which had been practically set at rest by the compromise which had now been arrived at. The difficulties to which his hon. Friend had alluded were or a temporary character, although, no doubt, in Glasgow they were very great, as 20,000 children were swept into the schools under the operation of the Education Act, who formerly received no education at all. But he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was in hopes that in the course of a short time those difficulties would cease altogether, and parents would recognize fully the advantage of sending their children to school without being compelled to do so by law. His hon. Friend said Edinburgh was ripe for Free Education on account of the success of the Heriot Schools. No doubt, there was a feeling in Edinburgh in favour of Free Education; but the question as to the future application of the funds of Heriot's Hospital was still undecided—that was to say, whether the system of free schools should be maintained, or whether they 743 should follow the practice of other schools, and impose moderate fees. One of the difficulties to which his hon. Friend had adverted arose from having these free schools side by side with the board schools; but the solution of that difficulty was, he thought, to be found in a different direction from that advocated by the hon. Member for Glasgow. He (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had the honour of sitting on a Commission which was appointed to inquire into the Educational Endowments of Scotland; and he was led to the conclusion that these schools had a demoralizing effect upon the country, while they tended to increase the difficulty of enforcing education in the board schools. There was at present a Bill before Parliament dealing with these endowments; and if it passed during the present Session, which he hoped it would, he trusted it would be the means of introducing some reforms into these schools, and thus lead to a better system of education throughout the great cities, and Scotland generally. With regard to the probable effect of Free Education, the statements advanced by his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) were inconsistent with those obtained by former Commissions. The general opinion of these Commissions was that Free Education, instead of tending to raise children, had exactly the contrary effect—a demoralizing effect; and that that was not the case when a moderate fee was charged. Holding these opinions, if this question went to a division, he should certainly vote for the rejection of the Bill; but he hoped his hon. Friend, having ventilated the subject, would save the House from a division by withdrawing it.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, he had such a sincere respect for the services of the hon. Member (Dr. Cameron) on behalf of Scotch legislation, that personally his feelings would have been in favour of supporting the Bill; but with regard to the present measure, he was compelled to come to an entirely different conclusion. He dissented from the principles of the Bill, and he differed from many of the arguments and statements which the hon. Member had used. The Bill proposed to introduce an entire innovation upon the system of education which had prevailed in Scotland for centuries, and, he thought, to the great advantage of the community. Much stress had been 744 laid by the hon. Member in moving the Bill, and previously in a very able speech he delivered in Glasgow on the compulsory nature of the Scotch Education Act, and his hon. Friend had said that if the State compelled attendance it should also relieve the parent of the child of the fees for such attendance; and the payment of fees, in the words of the hon. Member, was described as a tax, as a drag upon attendance, and as neutralizing the good of all the rest of the Scotch educational system. The fact was that through the greater part of Scotland—at all events, in that part with which he (Mr. Webster) was connected—compulsion had little to do with attendance, because in Aberdeenshire there had prevailed for centuries, and there still prevailed, the laudable, wholesome, and honourable custom of the children attending school regularly without compulsion, and of the parents paying willingly, and being proud to pay to the utmost of their ability, the fees for the attendance of their children. Taking, as an example, Aberdeen, the city he had the honour of representing, he found that the amount drawn from fees was £6,608, and in the adjoining parish of Old Machar it was upwards of £1,000, and throughout the parishes of the county, in all upwards of 92, the amount drawn from fees was proportionately large. The Bill, therefore, in proposing to sacrifice those fees, would waste, and with no countervailing advantage, a very large sum of money, which was at present derived from the parents of the children and devoted to educational purposes, and the consequence would be to throw a corresponding amount upon the local rates, a matter to which the hon. Member did not sufficiently advert. He spoke of the abolition of fees in Edinburgh as involving only an increase in the rates of 1d. per £1; but he did not refer to the fact that over the greater part of Scotland the abolition of fees would add very largely to the rates. In the case of Aberdeen the abolition of the fees would cause a loss of nearly £7,000, and would require a corresponding increase in the rates. The school rate there was already 6d. in the pound, and it would require an additional rate of ed. in order to make up for the loss sustained by the abolition of the fees. In the county parishes of Aberdeenshire a similar sacrifice and a similar rise of 745 rate would be occasioned, and many of them at present paid very heavily for the school rate, the rate being in some of those parishes as much as 8d. and in the pound. The hon. Member also laid stress upon the alleged expense of collecting the fees, and the loss of time entailed on the teachers; but his reference to the expense of enforcing the attendance of children at school was based exclusively on the experience of Glasgow. He (Mr. Webster) had been at the pains to inquire how that would affect, for instance, the city of Aberdeen, and he was assured that the supposed difficulty and expense of collecting the fees, and all the alleged loss of time on the part of the schoolmaster, were exceedingly over-estimated—that, in point of fact, there was no appreciable loss of time on the part of the teachers in collecting the school fees. Again, it might be quite true that the expense in Glasgow of enforcing the compulsory attendance of children at school amounted to £4,000, and that the cost in the adjoining burgh, Govan, which was part of Glasgow, was £500; but if they took the trouble to refer to the Return which the hon. Member applied to Parliament for, they would find that the cost in Glasgow was larger than the whole expense of the other burghs of Scotland. While £4,500 seemed to have been applied somehow or other in Glasgow, the expense of enforcing attendance in all the rest of the large burghs of Scotland included in the Return amounted to only £2,280—not one-half of the cost of Glasgow alone. In the case of Aberdeen, with fees amounting to about £7,000, the whole expense of enforcing the attendance of children was only £201. The fact was, the expense at present of enforcing compulsory attendance was next to nothing, and there was the Return to support this statement. The House would therefore see that that element of the case might be disregarded, while it had to be remembered that it was not the payment of fees which was the drag upon the attendance at school; it was really the neglect and indifference of parents which made them careless of the attendance of their children at school, and still more their desire to benefit by their earnings; and it would still require the compulsory machinery to be continued, even if the present Bill were to pass. All the ele- 746 ments of carelessness, neglect, and indifference, and that greed for the earnings would be as operative under the proposed new plan as under the existing plan; and it was the deliberate opinion of Dr. Calderwood, one of the witnesses who was examined before one of the Commissions, and who had been Chairman of the Edinburgh School Board, and who was entirely opposed to this proposed system, that, instead of lessening, it would increase the expense of the compulsory machinery which was required to enforce the attendance of children at school. It was his (Mr. Webster's) own opinion, and the opinion of those best acquainted with education in Scotland, that parents are quite willing to pay fees for the education of their children, and it was hardly to be doubted that the effects and value of the education were increased in no small degree by that practice. It is, besides, a stimulus and benefit to the teacher to give him the interest arising from his drawing a share of the fees. He left to others to speak of the effect of the Bill on denominational schools, but he had the greatest sympathy with the objections entertained by parents who might dislike sending their children to the board schools while they continue to be sectarian. He was aware that his hon. Friend did not make his scheme compulsory upon any part of Scotland; but if the Bill were passed, it would be a recognition on the part of the Legislature of the advantage of its principle; and it would be unworkable in practice to have, say, one parish in a large town adopting it, while another, only divided by a street, followed the other system. In conclusion, he maintained that public opinion in Scotland was distinctly, so far as indicated, hostile to the Bill. Only five Petitions had been presented in its favour, while 42 had been presented against it. He trusted the House would not consent to the second reading of the Bill, and if additional funds should be required for the purpose of education, he ventured to say the Educational Endowment Bill now before the House would provide a better means of improving education than would be afforded by this Bill.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL
said, he felt bound to oppose the Bill. The people of Scotland had been for a long time accustomed to pay school fees, which had been very moderate in amount, although 747 they came to a large aggregate, and the payment of fees had been believed to conduce to a sense of independence on the part of parents, and also to the parents taking a greater interest in their children's education. His hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) had argued that if 15s. were already paid for the education of a child, the parent would not be further pauperized or demoralized by a further payment of 5s. He (Mr. J. A. Campbell) thought it might be put that the 15s. represented the interest that the public had in the education of the child, and the 5s. represented the parent's interest. Certain it was that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, if carried out to its legitimate issues, would do something to impair that healthy feeling of independence which had generally prevailed, would diminish the interest of parents in their children's progress at school, would put a heavy additional burden on the local rates, and would disturb and imperil existing educational arrangements—and all for the sake of an experiment hitherto untried in this country, on a large scale, and, so far as tried, not an absolute success. The object of the Bill, as stated in its clauses, was simply to allow school boards to give Free Education to such scholars as were brought to board schools under the compulsory clauses of the Education Act; but the arguments of the hon. Gentleman in favour of the Bill went beyond that, and went the length of providing Free Education fur all children. Let them look first at the immediate object of the Bill. The Bill was, of course, permissive only; but it was obvious that if adopted by one school board, the inconvenience of a different system prevailing in a neighbouring parish would be so great that they must look upon it as intended to be used by all. The Bill had regard to those children brought to school under the compulsory clauses, and they must all feel great sympathy for the very poor parents of many of those children. They required assistance, no doubt, in some form; but the Education Act, he pointed out, provided such assistance to a certain extent, inasmuch as the Parochial Board was authorized to pay the fees of such children as they considered to be in circumstances to require that assistance, and to do so without making their parents paupers in the eye of the law. He found that last year, on account of children's 748 attendance at public or board schools, there were payments by Parochial Boards to the extent of £12,600, and on account of poor children attending other schools—inspected schools, but not board schools—£2,150, altogether nearly £15,000 expended by the Parochial Boards in fees of poor children. Then the school boards had been, he thought, tender and judicious in administering the compulsory clauses. They recognized that it was an objectionable thing to bring parents of poor children even so much in contact with the Parochial Board as to apply for these fees, except when absolutely necessary; and, therefore, they sought other means of getting the fees before directing parents to apply to the Parochial Board. He could speak for the school board of Glasgow in that respect. Then as to cost, it had been noticed that the cost of working the compulsory clauses under the school board of Glasgow was as much as £4,000. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Webster) expressed some surprise that it should be so much in excess of the sums reported by other school boards. The explanation was a very simple one. The terms of the inquiry on the part of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) for information on that point were not very clear, so that the school boards understood them in different ways. The Glasgow School Board understood that it was the whole cost of the school attendance department that was wanted, the full cost of the machinery connected with enforcing the attendance of children—and so they included in their Return the salaries of 32 school board officers, a principal officer, and three clerks; a proportion of the office expenses of the board, uniforms for officers, an allowance to a medical officer who attended to cases of sickness among the children brought under the notice of the school board officers—all this in addition to the expense of prosecuting defaulters. Now, the expense of prosecuting defaulters was only £200, or ½ per cent of the whole amount spent in connection with the enforcement of school attendance, as reported by the Glasgow School Board; and if that board appeared to a disadvantage as compared with others, the reason was, not that it had been extravagant where others were careful, but that other boards had not reported their expenses in the same full 749 way as that board had done. For instance, who could believe that the great town of Greenock expended in connection with the compulsory clauses of the Act only £3 16s. 6d.—which, he presumed, was merely the cost of prosecutions—and that the town of Stirling only spent £1 3s.? He said that as vindicating the Glasgow School Board on account of the way it was represented in the Return. Now, what was involved in this proposal of the Bill, that children brought to schools by compulsion were to get their education gratis? What would be the effect? Why, in the first place, it would add greatly to the number of children brought in by the compulsory rules. At present the parent had a motive to avoid the interference of the school board officer. If the Bill were passed he would have a motive to court it. He would have an interest in being careless about the attendance of his children, in order that the school board officer might lay hold of them and bring them in under the compulsory clauses, so that he might get their education for nothing. It would add greatly to the labours and, ultimately, to the cost of the compulsory officers. But more was intended than this. What was argued was that Free Education should be given to all children in public schools. Well, he thought they should ask what that would cost. That inquiry was important, in order to see what additional rate they were to have substituted for fees. He found, from the Return moved for last year by the hon. Member for Glasgow, that the fees received from scholars at the public or board schools, after deducting the fees paid by Parochial Boards, amounted to £194,383. It appeared in this way. The fees received at board schools, as reported in the Return, were £207,000, and of this amount there was paid by Parochial Boards £12,600, leaving, as paid by scholars, £194,000. So much for board schools. But what about the other inspected schools? The Return did not refer to them. But the discontinuance of fees in board schools would affect other schools as well. Now, in the Report of the Committee of Council for 1879–80 he found that the fees paid at other inspected schools amounted to £55,343, so that the total amount of fees paid by scholars in inspected schools, board schools, and others, was £249,726, or 750 nearly £250,000. That was the revenue that would be lost by the adoption of the system of Free Education; and how was it to be replaced? The hon. Member for Glasgow said that a small addition to the rate in Edinburgh, and an insignificant addition all over the country, would do. The same Return, No. 35, gave them the amount of ld. in the pound on the valuation rental of Scotland, and he found that it was £81,000; so that in order to get £250,000 they would require an additional rate all over Scotland on an average of 3d. in the pound. The school board of Glasgow had the subject under their consideration lately, and came to the conclusion that to adopt Free Education there would involve, at the very lowest, an additional rate of 4½d., or, in fact, double the present rate. He had said that to discontinue fees in public schools would lead to a change in other than public schools. The question was, whether these schools would have to be abandoned, or, if continued without fees, would they receive a share of the rate in lieu of fees? That other schools would have to be considered was clear from the statistics of the school board of Glasgow. That board took statistics last month, in the week of the Census, so that the information was of the most recent character. It was found that in the first week of April there were on the roll of public schools—that was, board schools—in Glasgow 35,000 children, and on the roll of other inspected schools—not adventure schools, but other schools inspected by the Department—22,446—showing that there was a large number of children to be considered when speaking of the attendance at the inspected schools of the country which were not board schools. And the fees of these would have to be considered. But if a share of the rate in lieu of fees was not to be given to other than board schools, then, in addition to the rate which would have to be imposed to replace the fees, they would have to consider the great additional expense of new buildings for the accommodation of the children now attending inspected schools which, under the operation of the proposed system, would have to be discontinued. But were they sure that they could do without those schools which were other than public schools? What about the Roman Catholic schools at which there was in Glasgow an 751 attendance of about 12,000 children—would Roman Catholics have both to support their own schools and pay the additional rate? And what about England?—because, if the system were adopted North of the Tweed, there might be a similar movement South of it. Would England be prepared to discontinue all schools except board schools?. The difference at present between being able to support schools alongside of public schools and not was very much a matter of fees. With the fee, a school not a public school could hold its own; but if they took away the fee from the public school, the other would have to give up its fee also, and then there would be great difficulty in supporting it. He would only further refer to what had been said as to the regular attendance at schools where no fees were charged. Reference had been made to the Heriot Schools in Edinburgh. No doubt, in the Heriot Free Schools the attendance was very good; but that was not an illustration to the purpose at all. These were free schools planted in the midst of schools where there were fees, so that the children attending the Heriot Schools, if dismissed on account of irregularity, would be forced into schools where fees were charged. The parents had thus an interest in keeping them in close attendance at school, because there was so much to lose if the children attending those schools were forced into others. If an illustration were wanted of the effect of Free Education, he (Mr. J. A. Campbell) would rather recommend the hon. Member to turn to the 1st Report of the Endowed Institutions Commission, where he would find some curious facts about Wallace Hall Academy, in Dumfriesshire, where there was Free Education. The statistics of that school for four and a-half years from 1875 onwards showed that the percentage of scholars attending, out of the total number of scholars on the roll, was 57 per cent, 61, 62, 62, 68. Another objection to the measure was that the interests of education would be imperilled by it, because, the fees varying with the kind of education given, there was something in the fee that encouraged the teaching of the higher subjects. Take away the fee, and they then took from the school board a motive to do something more than merely earn the grant from the Department, and the conse- 752 quence might be that there would be a letting down of the standard of education. On that subject he had the honour to present to the House a Petition from the Educational institute of Scotland; and the opinion of that body, an important association of schoolmasters, was that the Bill would tend, in many instances, to the lowering of the standard of education, and they looked upon it as a measure calculated to excite hostility to educational progress in Scotland. He therefore had pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. DALY
, in opposing the Bill, said, that, in his opinion, the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had failed to give the House any substantial reason why it should adopt legislation of that kind. The hon. Member had shown that the only cause, to which the imperfect attendance at public schools was due was the payment of the small sum of 12s. 5½d. a-year for the education of each child. Taking into account the opportunities of education in Scotland, and the fact that certain allowances were made in the fees of a number of children belonging to the same family, he thought the hon. Member paid a very poor compliment to, and did not do much justice to, the educational instincts of the Scotch people, when he put that forward as a reason for the disinclination of parents to send their children to school. It certainly brought to the surface a sentiment not uncommon in Scotland—namely, that parents should reap the advantages of the education of their children, while they wished other people to pay for it. His (Mr. Daly's) main objection to the Bill was the mode of the imposition of the tax. He thought his co-religionists in Scotland were paying quite enough under the existing arrangement, and now they were to be called upon to make a further contribution. He considered it very unfair that they should be called upon to contribute towards the payment of 12s. 5d. per head for the education of children whose parents should pay it themselves, and under a system of education from which they were debarred by conscientious objections from deriving any benefit. The hon. Member for Glasgow described the principle of the Bill as optional; but it was compulsory on Roman Catholics as far as regarded the contribution of taxes, because they would have no power 753 of making their opinions upon the subject felt in the school boards. Supposing they were to give the power to boards levy by popular suffrage in Ireland to levy a rate for Free Education, what an outcry would there be from the owners of property and others belonging to the Disestablished Church, if these boards proposed to assess a rate on property to educate the Catholic children of Ireland. That principle was just the same as regarded the Catholics of Scotland. Taking into account the disabilities under which his co-religionists in that country laboured, he rejoiced to hear of the great increase in attendance at their schools in recent years, and he thought it would be most unjust to saddle them with a tax which the Scotch workman and artizan should have no objection to pay for the education of their children.
§ MR. ARTHUR ELLIOT
, who also opposed the second reading, said, that all parties benefited by such rates as that for the maintenance of public roads, and the police rates in the public protection which they afforded; but what was peculiar about the rate now proposed was that it was used, not for the benefit of all parties, but for the benefit of those who had voluntarily chosen to incur this extra expense. The object was not to pay those expenses which people could not afford, but which they could perfectly well provide, and which they were at present able and willing to pay. That put the matter on an entirely different footing from anything they had been accustomed to as regards rating. He would admit that that was not a conclusive reason against the Bill; but it showed beyond all doubt that the benefits to be derived from this additional rate were of a very doubtful character indeed. He did not think it had been shown that the general opinion of Scotland was in favour of such a Bill; and even in Glasgow it had been shown that it would be some years before such an extensive educational change could be made. There was accommodation now in board schools for some 50,000 persons who slid not go there; but if these 50,000 did go there, there would be an enormous increase in the school fees; so that a far greater proportion of the expense would then be borne by the school fees, and less would be paid by the public rates. Therefore, they had to hope that, as private adventure 754 schools were one after another broken down or driven out of the way by board schools, they might look for a considerable diminution of the rate. But if there were no other reason for opposing the Bill, he would oppose it simply on the ground of its permissive and partial character. Really this was a matter which should be dealt with as concerning Scotland as a whole. It was quite out of the question that in one parish education should be provided entirely by public aid, and in another that fees should be charged. He did not think it right that a question of such very great national importance should be dealt with by school boards in the different parishes. Therefore, although he did not say there would not be many advantages in adopting such a system, yet, considering its optional character and very partial application, and considering also that, in his judgment, the country was not ripe for it, he would vote against the second reading.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. M'LAREN)
Sir, I confess to having a strong general sympathy with the object of the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), because I think there can be no better expenditure of public money, whether raised by local or Imperial taxation, than in giving to the children of the population of our country an education fitting them for their station in life and the obligations they have to discharge; and we have already, to a large extent, adopted that principle. At the same time, I feel glad that my hon. Friend has not intimated his intention to press the second reading of the Bill to a division, because it is quite plain that public opinion upon this subject has not been expressed in such a manner as to enable the House to decide definitely whether the opinion of Scotland is for or against this measure, as the ultimate form of our educational system. It is, I think, a question of the future, as to which it is very likely that the opinion of the country next year, or two or three years hence, may be different from the opinions gathered from the Parliamentary representation of the present time. The question is one of a very large and complex character, involving considerations, educational, financial, and social, all of which have to be taken into account be- 755 fore we can arrive at a proper solution of the matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow has looked mainly at the educational side of the question, and, viewed from that standpoint, undoubtedly there is a great deal to be said in its favour. It is true, as said by one of the subsequent speakers, that you cannot consider this question apart from the mode of supplying the funds required by our Universities and secondary schools; that you cannot raise the question of Free Education in elementary schools without considering how far you are thereby affecting the relations of these to education in its higher grades. But I think the House may consider, in connection with that subject, that we do already, to a very large extent, support the higher education of the country out of the public funds. In the Universities of Scotland any person who is desirous of studying a particular subject may, for a class sessional fee of £3 3s.,obtain all the advantages of that University for the subject which he desires to study. For an expenditure representing not much more than 1s. a-week he may, on any given subject he wishes, obtain the advantages of the University, and the services of its most eminent Professor. That sum represents but a very small proportion of the total cot of our University Education. If you take into account all the capital which has been provided from time to time in University buildings; if you capitalize the annual grants made to those institutions for a very long period of time; if you look at the amount of money which has been contributed to them by private benefaction, and which may in one sense be regarded as public money, since it is appropriated to a public purpose, and when you consider also the various privileges, such as the copyright and other privileges, which have been accorded to them, you will find that a proportion, certainly not less than that which is contributed by the public to the elementary schools, also comes out of public funds towards the maintenance of our Universities. Then you have to consider the schools in which secondary education is given to the children of the Scotch population; although we have no uniform system, yet, to a very large extent, they also are maintained out of public funds. In the city which I represent a 756 large proportion of the children of the middle classes are educated at the Merchant Company's Schools, which are schools founded, no doubt, by private benefactors, but which, under an Act of Parliament, have been converted from charitable institutions into secondary schools, mainly supported from public funds, although fees of moderate amount are charged tot he scholars. Our High Schools in the chief burghs and cities are supported, to some extent, from the common good of the Municipalities, and under the Education Amendment Act power is given to school boards out of the local rates to erect and establish schools for Higher Education, without any limit as to the subjects to be taught, or the character of the instruction to be imparted. Now, therefore, it cannot be said that, even under our present system, the Higher Education imposes a burden upon the middle and upper classes of society disproportionate to that which is borne by the working classes in connection with our system of Elementary Education. But when We look to the financial considerations that enter into this question, I think, too, that my hon. Friend has stated facts which are very well deserving of consideration. The statistics which he quoted with regard to some Highland parishes certainly seem to prove that, as far as they are concerned, the imposition of school fees is practically of very little Use for the purpose of maintaining the schools, and that they might just as well be abolished in many of those parishes for any public benefit which that system affords. I do not say, however, that you should abolish them in the Highlands and the smaller rural parishes while maintaining them in our large towns. This, I confess, is the chief objection to my hon. Friend's measure, I mean its permissive character. I think it is impossible to deal with. this question of Free Education in the manner in which the hon. Member proposes, by leaving it to the ratepayers in each place to say whether they will adopt the system of Free Education or continue the present system. The result would be that wherever the class whose children are instructed in these schools formed a preponderating majority in favour of Free Education it would be established; while in many rural districts, where Free Education is quite as much needed. but 757 where that class have not the same determining influence in the constitution or management of the school boards, you would find that the present system would be continued. This, I venture to think, would not be a satisfactory way of solving the question. I think it must be left to the more matured opinion of the country to say whether they would abolish school fees all over the country, taking financial and all other considerations into account. Now, there is one modification of the present system which I venture to think might be considered by Parliament, even in the present Session, or after a short interval, and which would tend to remove one of the chief objections urged by my hon. Friend to the present system. I think it might become the House to consider whether the mode of exacting the fees of children whose parents are unable to pay them might not be altered. The House is aware that under the English. Elementary Education Acts power is given to the school board to grant the remission of fees to children whose parents are unable to pay for their education. I am not aware that any inconvenience has resulted from the existence of that power, or that schools are more facile in granting indulgence to poor parents in England than in my country, where a different system prevails. But under the Scotch Education Act there is no power of remission; but, instead of remitting the fees, the school board is empowered to call upon the Parochial Board, which administers the Poor Laws, to pay the fees for children whose parents are disabled by poverty from paying. Now, I know that in large towns this is felt as a great hardship by parents of the working classes—those, I mean, who obtain the benefit of the clause. The people complain that their children are looked down upon by the children of paying parents, that they are said to be on "the rates," and that they feel, in consequence, a sort of social degradation. So much is this the case, that I believe many parents who have seen better days, but have fallen into poverty, have been induced to keep their children from school from unwillingness to receive Free Education, in the form of a payment out of the poor rates. What object there is in making this payment in this way I am at a loss to conceive. Under the Education Act the school rate 758 and the poor rate are identical. The school board makes a requisition on the Parochial Board to make a certain addition to the poor rate. The ratepayers are the same. The two rates are collected together, and one and the same receipt is given for both; and what is done under the power of paying fees is nothing more than taking money out of one hand and putting it into the other. The advantage of this mode of keeping accounts I cannot conceive, and the only object gained is that which is not, in my opinion, a legitimate one, of endeavouring to prevent parents from taking advantage of the power granted them by the Act by branding them as paupers and exposing their children to obloquy. I think the objection to pauperizing the poor and working classes might with more force be applied to that system than to the system under which education is given without payment to all classes of the community; and I trust—and I know that on this subject I have the sympathy of my right hon. Friend beside me (Mr. Mundella)—we may be able to remedy that blot, for so I venture to call it, and to enable the school boards to give Free Education without calling in the aid of the Parochial Board to legalize it. That would be Free Education to those who cannot obtain education in any other way, and I trust the hon. Member for Glasgow will turn his attention to that part of the case, and that he may be able to support us in carrying through a reform which, though one of less magnitude, would, I believe, be very much appreciated by the working classes. I hope he will be content with having made a valuable contribution to the information of the House on educational matters, and wait until public opinion has been matured on this question, which must be ultimately decided in accordance with the general views of ratepayers and the feelings and customs of the country.
said, that if he was not disposed to regard as valid some of the arguments used by his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron), he hoped he would not be accused of want of appreciation of the clearness with which he had brought the subject under consideration. He quite admitted that it was a subject eminently fitted for calm and careful consideration He also thought 759 it was a subject that involved changes of very great importance and involved a large pecuniary burden on the ratepayers of Scotland; and, therefore, he thought he expressed the feeling of a considerable majority of Scotch Members when he said that it would require very forcible and practical arguments before a change of such importance could be brought about. He regretted that he not vote for the second reading of the Bill, although he was quite willing to admit that, under certain circumstances and certain conditions, a mode of education supported solely by the rate, not by payments made by the parents or the recipients of the education, might be successful; but he differed from his hon. Friend in this—that he did not think that in Scotland the circumstances and conditions were such as would warrant the change proposed. There were one or two arguments of his hon. Friend which had not yet been answered. The hon. Member based his first argument in favour of his proposed change on the fact that education to a certain extent, that was, so far as Elementary Education was concerned, was made compulsory by law. Now, he (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) entirely admitted that fact, and that it was a valid argument so far as it applied to those unable to pay; but the moment they passed the disability to pay he failed to see the application of the argument. In certain parts of his argument his hon. Friend put himself in conflict with the most advanced educationists on that point. He (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) would not quote the opinions of the great educational authorities in Germany and France, but would mention one whose opinion was entitled to great weight in that House. In an article contributed to The Fortnightly Review, in 1860, Mr. John Stuart Mill used these words—The State does not owe gratuitous education to those who can pay for it; the State only owes gratuitous elementary education to those who cannot pay for it.Therefore, his hon. Friend went beyond the limit laid down by that great authority. Then his hon. Friend found another argument in favour of his proposal, in the fact that the State already paid for a considerable proportion of the cost of education. He (Mr. Cochran Patrick) would admit that that had a certain bearing; but it did not go the length that his hon. Friend put it. He 760 agreed with the hon. Member for Glasgow university (Mr. J. A. Campbell) that education was made compulsory because it was a benefit to the State; and when it was advantageous to the State it was fair and reasonable that the State should pay a considerable proportion of its expense. But education had also a very important bearing on individuals. Take two individuals of the same ability; the man with education had superior advantage to the other, and it was unfair and unjust that the State should pay the whole cost of it. but perfectly fair that the individual in question should pay his share of it. His hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) had urged a strong reason in the fact that the matter of fees was one that involved a very large expense in collection. It did involve a contain amount of expense; but his hon. Friend did not propose to make education free in the sense that nothing was to be paid for it. The argument was only valid if his hon. Friend could show that rates were more easily collected than school fees. The hon. Member took a large number of instances from Glasgow; but he (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) found it stated in the daily Press of Glasgow, on the 24th of February, that in that city there were 130,000 rate-payers, and out of that number there were 55,600 against whom warrants Were issued for arrears of taxes during the year. He thought that made it a question whether the collecting of these rates would be less expensive than that of fees. As to the effect of the payment of fees for school attendance, he admitted that in some small percentage of cases, more especially in large towns, there might be some persons who withdrew their children from school for the sake of the payment of the fees; but that was obviated not by doing away with fees, but by making fees payable in advance, because then they would have the same reason operating in favour of the fees as that which was urged against them, for it was within his experience, as chairman of a school board, that when parents paid fees in advance they kept their children at school for the purpose a getting the advantage of the full amount of money paid. That was entirely borne out by the experience of those who were intimately connected with education in Scotland, as well as by the general experience of other coun- 761 tries in Europe. In the Report laid before the French Government on the question of Free Education, he found that the Professor of one of the Communal schools in Paris said if the pupil paid a very small sum there would be more regularity in attendance than if he paid none, and this was a fact attested by experience. Other witnesses before the Commission in France bore corresponding testimony. His hon. Friend, he would admit, had reason for his complaints about the unsatisfactory attendance in Glasgow; but he (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) was not sure that he had selected the right cause for that irregularity. He found in the report of the school board of Glasgow in reference to this matter the statement that there was a great deal of poverty and distress among many families, seriously injuring the education of the children. It was not only fees, which in many cases formed a small part of the difficulty, but want of sufficient food and suitable clothing. He thought the fees, therefore, had not the exclusive bearing that the hon. Member was inclined to put upon them. A great deal was said of the example of America and other places where Free Education existed; but he was not altogether prepared to accept the statement that education in America was so superior to that of this country. Of course, the circumstances of America were different from our own. There were large endowments of land in America that were not here. Judging the education of America on three points, its quality, the number receiving it, and the means by which it was given, authoritative reports on each of those points went to show that in respect of each the educational status of America was not better than that of this country. He would only allude to one other point in the Bill—its permissive character. He thought that was one chief objection to it, for this reason. Under the existing law in Scotland there was no power in a school board to order a child to go to any particular school. There was absolute freedom to the parent to send his child to whatever school he liked; and, on the other hand, whenever the number at a given school in regular attendance exceeded the number for which the school was built originally, the Education Department would come down upon the local school board and insist on an addition to the 762 school building. Now, supposing a single school board, in a particular district, were to take advantage of this Act and give Free Education, they would. at once have children from the surrounding neighbourhood coming to take advantage of the boon, and an immediate call from the Department to provide accommodation for the parish, although the school was overcrowded by children who did not belong to the parish; and that was a serious objection to the Bill. He did not believe that, at the present moment, the people of Scotland wished the adoption of such a measure. If, therefore, it went to a division he would vote against it.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had listened with much attention to all the arguments stated against the Bill. The most cogent of these was the one that the people of Scotland were not yet entirely in unison on the subject; that public opinion in Scotland had not gone the length of supporting the measure. He thought it was a strong argument, but all the more he thanked the hon. Member for bringing up this subject, because he felt satisfied that every debate like this would have a tendency to stir up public opinion, and bring about the change which he looked upon as necessary, as inevitable, if they were ever to make their education what it ought to be. The argument about demoralizing the people by a free system of education could not be sustained, because this was the principle of education in America, in Germany, in Switzerland, and France; and could they demoralize the people here by the same gift of Free Education? That fact might be taken as disposing of that argument. The reason why Free Education was complementary to what they had already done was because they had done so much. They had established an expensive plant in the country for education; and, having done so, it was their duty as intelligent beings to make the most they could of that plant by educating their people to the utmost they could with it. It was well known that the plant already existing in the country was equal to accommodating 50,000 more pupils in our schools, and why should we not have them in the schools? They were kept back, to a great extent, for want of means to pay for their education. Tue right hon. and 763 learned Lord Advocate had said—Give the school boards power to free from fees those who were not able to pay; and he had pointed out what was a well known fact, that their distinction in Scotland of requiring the parent to go to the Parochial Board and get the fees for the child's education was a very bad system indeed. It did tend to demoralize and pauperize the people; but he (Mr. Anderson) did not know that the English system was altogether good. It allowed school boards to remit the fees; but it did not provide for the case of Roman Catholics. But the Scotch system of Parochial Board relief gave allowances to Catholic children, even though they were not attending board schools. Therefore, if there was any power given to Scotch school boards to remit the fees of the children, it should go a little further, and give some grant to those who declined to go to board schools. That, he thought, was the necessary consequence of their having given so much power to voluntary schools as the established system did. It was objected that the supporters of the Bill did not go in for an entirely compulsory system of Free Education; but if they did not leave it permissive, how were they to get the experience which was to prove to the people the advantage of this system? Hon. Members declined to take it from America. They declined to take it from Germany and other countries. They said that in these countries the conditions were different. If they did not adopt it first in a permissive way here, they would not get experience from which they would learn its advantages in this country. Even if the argument against its being permissive was good as regards himself and others who approved of going further, it was not a good argument for Parliament, which had already in its treatment of English education made that entirely permissive. Parliament, therefore, acknowledged that the permissive system was the right thing as regards England. They had no compulsory school boards in England. The English Act did not make boards compulsory in every parish in England, as did the Scotch Act in Scotland. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Compulsion is absolute now throughout England.] Yes, where there was a school board; but there was no compulsory school board in every 764 parish. If the right hon. Gentleman would introduce a Bill to make boards compulsory in England, he, at least, should be most happy to support him in carrying it out. One hon. Member spoke of Elementary Education being a public benefit; that it was the duty of the State to maintain it; but that, as regarded all education above that, it was an individual benefit. He (Mr. Anderson) took exception entirely to that remark. He maintained that higher education than Elementary Education was not a mere individual advantage, but was an immense advantage to the State. It was an advantage to every country to have the whole people brought up to the highest level of education that they could possibly reach. For that reason, he objected to the argument that they could not go beyond the merest rudiments of education as an advantage to the State. It was because they were behind in that Higher Education that he desired to see Free Education given. It was because he saw other countries going before us that he wanted them to adopt the same principle from which they had made their start. He considered that the system of school fees tended to dwarf the system of education under every department. It made it the interest of the schoolmaster to get as many scholars as he could, irrespective of his ability to teach them. The Department compelled him to get larger buildings, but did not compel a larger number of teachers. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Yes, we do.] He doubted whether they did that to anything like a sufficient extent. There had been an attempt made in Glasgow to adopt Technical Education in an endowed school, which had been changed into a technical school. What had been their experience? They could not get pupils from board schools in Glasgow sufficiently well taught to receive even the elements of a Technical Education. They were, therefore, at that moment—notwithstanding their having got an Act of Parliament some years ago to make it entirely a technical school—obliged to keep it still at least one-half elementary, simply for want of a sufficient number of pupils who had received a sufficiently good teaching at the board schools to enable them to receive the rudiments that that school was prepared to give them. He did not think, when they were so far behind in 765 Scotland, that they were likely to be much farther ahead in England. Scotland used to be a very well educated country; but the education they received long ago was only a good education comparatively with other countries at that time. That education was not the same education now. Supposing they had universally in the country the same Parochial Education they used to get, it would not be a good education compared with the education in other countries of this day. He did not want to see Scotland stand still; he wanted to see her advancing. In the stage of education they must, at least, keep on a level with what other countries were doing. They were not doing it, and he did not believe they would do it until they adopted that system of Free Education. They had still to hear what the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Education Department had to say on the subject; and, as he used to be a good reformer, he (Mr. Anderson) hoped he would still show himself in favour of reform. However that might be, he believed, as he had said, that every debate of the nature of the present would materially improve the views of the country upon the subject. He would conclude by cordially supporting the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Anderson), and regarded the speech of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate as one of a most hopeful character. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill (Dr. Cameron) had urged that the present system had the effect of making the people that required to get education, and who had to apply to the Parochial Boards for payment of the fees, feel that they were being pauperized. As one who took a deep interest in these matters, he (Mr. Macdonald) could corroborate that, for, as a member of a school board, his experience was that parents who were unable to pay the children's fees themselves did not care to go and sue or petition the Parochial Board to do so, because their children were stamped with the mark of pauper children on account of their asking relief. That was a thing, in his opinion, which should be got rid of as soon as possible, for he knew of nothing more degrading than the manner in which the privilege of Free Education 766 was at present extended to poor people. There was another point in regard to the school board which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate very properly noticed, and that was the cumbersome mode that existed at the present moment with regard to the way in which the boards investigated the cases submitted to them. The persons summoned by the school board had to go before a meeting of the board, and had sometimes, it might be, to wait a whole day to make the statement that they were not able to educate their children. They were ordered to go to the Relieving Board for the purpose of getting an order there to educate the children. The school boards had no power, as they ought to have, to order the payment of fees without having recourse to Parochial Boards. The way in which the Parochial Boards dealt with these matters was an outrage on the feelings of the people, and complaints were frequent on the part of Roman Catholics that they had to apply over and over again, simply because the children who were to receive Free Education were Roman Catholics. He thought, therefore, they ought to have the power required to deal with these cases. As the subject had been so well ventilated, he trusted that the hon. Member would not press for a division. He believed in Free Education; but he was also in favour of compulsory education all over the country. In the parish where he was a member of the school board there was a great lack of attendance before compulsion was introduced; but since then the increase in attendance of Roman Catholic children had been enormous. He was glad the hon. Member had introduced the subject, and he hoped they would yet see Free Education all over Scotland.
§ MR. RAMSAY
thought the House must be satisfied that the question raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was well worthy of consideration. Regarding the state of education in Scotland, he conceived the House was indebted to the hon. Member for having introduced this measure. In his (Mr. Ramsay's) opinion, the hon. Member attached more importance to the state of matters in various parts of the Continent than he was entitled to do. He spoke of the state of education in Switzerland and the Tyrol as being satisfactory, and that without compul- 767 sion. But that satisfactory attendance was not owing to Free Education, but to the sentiment of the people, which demanded the education of the young. If the hon. Gentleman referred to the state of matters in Germany, where there was a very stringent compulsory law, it would be found that even there regularity of attendance was only secured where the sentiment of the people was in accordance with the requirements of the law. The hon. Gentleman also referred to America; but there, according to the Report of the Rev. Mr. Fraser to the "Schools Inquiry Commission," the compulsory law was wholly inoperative, and irregular attendance was one of the greatest drawbacks to the progress of education. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Barne), who moved the rejection of the Bill, said that if the Bill were passed the whole of the artizan and labouring classes would be educated at the expense of others. If he (Mr. Ramsay) could suppose that that measure would secure the education of the whole mass of the population, he should be very glad to give it, or any measure which would bring that about, his cordial support. But he did not think it was necessary to take such a step as was proposed, so as thereby to interfere with the existing system of board schools, and it was on that account that he would deprecate the passing of any such measure at the present time. He therefore hoped his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) would be satisfied with the discussion which had taken place, and withdraw his Motion. In the county of Inverness, to which reference had been made, there was a large Catholic population, and it was said the teachers there favoured Free Education in the hope that it would induce Catholics to send their children to the board schools. Reference had also been made to the parish of Kintail. Now, some years ago a complaint was made to the Board of Education that the school board of that parish had ceased to levy fees, for the purpose of emptying the denominational school which existed there. The Board of Education advised the school board that it was not competent for them to charge no fees or merely illusory fees. A proposal was made by the school board that a fee of ¼d. a-mouth should be charged, but that was held by the Board of Education to be contrary to the law; and, 768 notwithstanding that they had received that opinion, it seemed, from the figures brought forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow, that they still persisted in collecting a very small amount of fees indeed. Where fees were not collected from such a cause as that, he thought the House would feel that the circumstances would neither justify the proposed change of the law nor the practice. Public opinion on this subject might arrive at the point when it would be desirable to have Free Education throughout the United Kingdom; but the people of Scotland were not prepared for such a measure at present, and, therefore, he hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Bill.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that, although many Scotch Members had spoken upon the subject, the only hon. Member who had supported the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was his hon. Colleague (Mr. Anderson). who was famed for his courage, and who was always ready to rush into the breach. He (Mr. Warton) considered the speech of the hon. Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen (Mr. J. A. Campbell) had effectually disposed of the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Glasgow. The Bill, in its most important aspects, seemed to him a piece of Presbyterian bigotry. It was desired by it that the parents of children of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in Scotland should be penalized, and made to pay rates practically twice over. He could not join in the praise which had been bestowed upon the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Bill, whose speech he had found exhausting as well as exhaustive. It had certainly exhausted. the patience of all who heard it, and it did not contain one single gleam of light to light up the dulness of that Wednesday afternoon. He had also been struck by the curious fact that all the later speakers in the debate, after having their own say, had deprecated further discussion. He himself would so far fellow their advice as not to discuss at length the principle of the Bill. He would only say that that principle appeared to him to be radically wrong, and that he felt hound to oppose the second reading.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, he wished to show why, in the interests of Elementary Education, it was desirable 769 that a considerable step forward should be taken in the direction of free schools. They were all agreed in wishing to get the children to school, and in promoting education as much as possible; and he thought that they must feel that the attractive method was better than the coercive and unattractive—that they would do more by setting the door wide open and encouraging the children to come in, than by setting the door ajar and then inflicting fines and penalties if they did not come in. There was at present not only the existence of the fee, but the collection of the fee was a very serious trouble and inconvenience; and his experience of the matter was that the existence of fees in the poorer neighbourhoods, and not only among the respectable poor, but among the dissolute poor, whom we had to consider quite as much, led to great irregularity of attendance. There was nothing that a reluctant parent would take advantage of more readily for keeping a child from school than the excuse that it was sent home for the school fee. Besides, the Education Department had been encouraging school managers to refuse to allow children to enter the schools unless they came with the fee in their hands. All these matters made it very desirable to facilitate the admission of free scholars to our schools. But, unfortunately, the policy of the Education Department for some time past had been adverse, not merely to free, but to cheaper schools, and it all tended to the interests of denominational schools. He contended that the schools did not exist for the benefit of certain sects, but for the benefit of the children, and that was the only matter which the Department or Parliament ought to consider in legislation on this question. It was well known to all who were practically acquainted with the working of schools that there was a great deal of rejecting and shouldering out of the school of unsatisfactory children who did not earn grants, and a great deal of picking and choosing of the best scholars for presentation at examinations. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members knew very little about schools who said "No, no!" for that was a matter of constant occurrence. They heard a great deal about pauperizing children by giving them Free Education; but he asked from what source was the education of the upper classes 770 derived? Was it not notorious that the great mass of the educational endowments of the country were left to furnish higher education for poor and neglected children? And was it not notorious that those endowments had been diverted for the education of the children of parents who could well afford to pay the full price for it? He was not ashamed to say that he was one of those who had enjoyed the advantage of the educational endowments of Eton and Oxford; but he did not feel that he had been pauperized by it. Then he wished to point out to those who said that working men would not contribute for education, that when Parliament declared that the working man should not have the benefit of his child's services until he was 12 or 13 or 14 years old, it deprived him of an income of from 2s. to 5s. a-week, and the working classes had generously accepted that sacrifice for the benefit of the rising generation. There was nothing more surprising than the readiness with which compulsion had been accepted by the working classes; and he thought that when they already paid from three fourths to four-fifths of the cost of education, it was drawing a very fine line to say that to pay the remaining fifth was to pauperize the people. He did not agree with all the details of the Bill; but he agreed with its principle, as he desired to a great extent either to open the doors of the schools without fees, or by lowering them whenever it was thought desirable. But what had been the policy of the Education Department? There was a clause in the Act of 1870 which contemplated the establishment of free schools in exceptional instances; but not a single free school had been established throughout England under that clause. He should be told, no doubt, that no application had been made for the establishment of a free school; and the reason was, that when proposals had been made of establishing penny fee schools, or, as in the case of the Norwich farthing fee schools, they had met with the determined refusal and resistance of the Education Department. As that clause had been put in the Act by the House of Commons, it must have been meant to work, and he thought it ought to be put in force. There might be 15 or 20 such schools in the poorer parts of London; and he asked, if the school 771 boards were not prepared to ask for it, and thus to give a sensible interpretation to the Act of Parliament, why had not the Education Department, which had shown itself so keen in raising fees, called upon the School Board to open free schools in the neglected and poverty-stricken parts of London? We stood almost alone among progressive nations in respect to this question of free schools. He did not see that the cost for establishing free elementary schools need necessarily fall upon the rates. The country out of the Consolidated Fund might give large grants for them. In Scotland the proposal would cost £250,000, and in England £1,400,000, or, together, less than 1d. on the Income Tax. When the country was willing to pay that for wars, he thought it would not be a bad expenditure of public money if we were to throw open the doors of our elementary schools by the establishment of a free school system.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Sir, before referring to the able speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), I would like to say a word upon some remarks which fell from the last speaker, and which had no reference whatever to the Bill now before the House. My hon. Friend (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) made an attack upon the Department which I have the honour to represent. He stated that in England school boards were hampered by the action of the Department as to fees; that it has too much consideration for the voluntary principle; and that it has not yet sanctioned a single free school. Now, since I have been in the Department, I have not had a single application for free schools, nor have I heard of one, and there has never been fees proposed by the London School Board that I have not sanctioned. There has only been one application about fees that still stands over, and has not been sanctioned, and I have not sanctioned it because my hon. Friend requested me not to do so.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
I think it is undesirable to refer to a private conversation—which is capable of explanation—when I have no right of reply.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
At least my hon. Friend will bear out this—that the London School Board has never made a request to the Department to reduce fees that the Department has not granted. With respect to denominational schools, 772 my hon. Friend seems to forget that three-fourths of the children are educated in these schools, and only 25 per cent in board schools. Whatever he or anyone else may desire that the Educational Department may do, the Department can only do what the law lays down. The Department did not make the Education Acts. We simply administer them; and I have endeavoured so to administer these Acts as to encourage education to the very utmost of my power. With respect to the general discussion which has taken place this afternoon, I think it has been admirable and instructive. The Motion introduced by the hon. Member (Dr. Cameron) was introduced in a speech of very great ability, and everything that can possibly be said for Free Education was said by him; but I am bound to say that I do not think he has altogether made out his case so strongly as to show the necessity, both for the carrying out of compulsion and for the cause of education, that schools should be absolutely free. I approach this question without any prejudice whatever for or against free schools, and I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) that they would not have a pauperizing effect. I have seen too much of the various school systems of the world to believe that free schools pauperize anybody who enjoys them. There is nobody who has ever visited the schools of America who can suppose that the free citizens of America are pauperized or demoralized by their free schools. It would be laughable to say so. You can say the same of Switzerland and various other countries; but I want to point out to my hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) that his Bill does not go on the principle of the American schools at all. The American school system does not introduce a one-class system, but his Bill does introduce a one-class system. Let him point out what he proposes to enact. He proposes to enact that school boards in Scotland may provide by means of rates, instead of by rates and fees, for the education in board schools of children resident in their districts so far as education is compulsory. Now, let me point out what the law requires in Scotland—It shall be the duty of every person to provide elementary education in reading, writing, and arithmetic for his children between five and thirteen years of age.773 So that really my hon. Friend proposes that the fees shall not be paid for children to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic within the limit of 13 years of age. But is that the limit of Free Education in America? No; the whole of the education of America applies to the whole community, and every class participates. [The right hon. Gentleman illustrated the American system by a quotation from the Boston Public Schools' Report for 1874, and proceeded.] When I was in Boston some years ago, I saw sitting together in one school the son of a Governor of Massachusetts, the son of an Irish emigrant, and the child of a free Negro. All classes alike avail themselves of the free schools of America, and all schools are alike free. The system does not apply merely to the elementary schools, as my hon. Friend proposes. It applies also to the middle and higher class schools, and that accounts for the hon. Member being wrong in his statistics. In many schools of Boston the average age of many scholars is over 15, and yet their education is paid for by the State. The grammar schools of Boston have more than 20,000 children. They are all free. The high schools have a very large number also. My hon. Friend (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) said the Education Department ought to allow of the establishment of free schools; but I am bound to say there is a good deal directly against it, and we cannot go contrary to the Act of Parliament. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) complained about the high fees, especially in Glasgow; but the Education Department exercised no control, especially over fees in Scotch schools. The fees are fixed by the school boards; and who are the school boards? They are elected by the ratepayers, and it is for the ratepayers themselves to demand a reduction of fees. The hon. Member has said that the payment of fees enforced in Scotland under the operation of compulsion had increased very largely the cost of the working of the compulsory clauses, and he quoted America, to show that America obtained a larger percentage of children in attendance, without compulsion, than England had succeeded in doing with compulsion. Now, is that so? My experience of America is entirely the reverse. The constant complaint of America is the absenteeism and the irregularity of at- 774 tendance. Boston is where you find the best schools in America, and there the schools have been provided by the State, and are free schools. They have been free from the time of the English Colony going there. Now, what does it cost to work compulsion in the City of Boston compared with Glasgow? Will my hon. Friend believe me that it costs as much to work compulsory powers in Boston as it does in the City of Glasgow, which is the largest city in Scotland? The Report from which I have already quoted shows that, previous to the passing of the first Act in 1850, truantism and absenteeism have been the most serious evils the schools had to contend with, and that they had gradually recognized the system of compulsion. In 1863 an Act was passed to remedy the evils of truancy, and in 1874 the number of their truancy officers had increased to 14. Now, I ask my hon. Friend whether 14 truancy officers in Boston, which is half the size of Glasgow, would not make the expense of working the compulsory powers in Boston quite as much proportionally as in Glasgow? If it costs £4,000 a-year in Glasgow, 14 officers in Boston, at £150 each, would cost £2,000; so that really it is a mistake to suppose that by the abolition of fees you diminish the expense under a compulsory system, because the whole of America now is agitated on this system of compulsion. But let me point out the other side of the question. As I wish to hold the balance perfectly equal on this matter, because I have no prejudice one way or another, I ask where is it that compulsion is achieved with the greatest results? Where is it that compulsion has produced the most regular attendance at school? What part of the world would you fix upon? I will tell my hon. Friend. North Germany, Saxony, and Wurtemberg, where fees are paid regularly, and have been paid from time immemorial, are the countries where there is the best and most regular attendance at school to be found in the world. What is the answer to that? I say, there is no answer to that fact. It shows that the attendance does not depend upon the fees, but on the way in which the compulsion is worked. The senior Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) said the Technical Education given under the school board was not sufficiently good, and that, owing to the pre- 775 sent system, you cannot get a class sufficiently large for Technical Education. If the hon. Member had said there were no good technical institutions in Glasgow, I should not have been surprised, because Technical Education is of the highest in those countries where, in the elementary schools, the fees are high. I should be able to give the hon. Member the most convincing proof of that statement, if he desired it, in Papers relating to Technical Education in Saxony. My hon. Friend who introduced this Bill complained very much of the absenteeism of Scotland. Well, since I have been at the Education Department, nothing has struck me more or gratified me more than the zeal of Scotchmen for education. I have received from that country encouragements from day to day which have been in striking contrast to those I have often encountered from some districts of England and Wales. A Scotch country gentleman never conies to me, and complains that Scotch education should be "cribbed, cabined, and confined," or that the expense of it is too great. Nothing can be more liberal than the management of Scotch schools, and the progress they have made is something marvellous. My hon. Friend says there are 758,000 children in Scotland, between 5 and 14 years of age, and that only 590,000 of these are at school. But in that statement my hon. Friend is quite mistaken. I take the last Report of the Education Department, and I think I will be able to show him that he has seriously miscalculated his figures. In 1871 the number of scholars on the school registers of Scotland in public schools was 252,802. In 1880, when the last Returns were made up, there were on the register of public schools alone 534,423, there having been an increase of nearly 50,000 in the last year. My hon. Friend himself admitted that 108,000 were in other schools, and there are 55,000 in schools which are recognized and inspected by the Department and receiving an annual grant. From those figures, I think he will find that 650,000 of the 758,000 of the children of Scotland are thus accounted for; and if there is a balance not accounted for, it is not difficult to show where they may be found, because the compulsory age in Scotland ranges from 5 to 13, and the hon. Member reckoned all the children of school age between 5 and 14. I be- 776 lieve I should be right in saying that the great majority of the children between 5 and 6 years of age do not attend school. Owing to the climate of the country, it is difficult to enforce the attendance of those so young. Besides that, a large number are passed out for labour between 13 and 14; and I ask the House whether there is any real discrepancy between the Scotch population and the number of children who attend school? I ought to say that the average attendance last year in these schools was 404,603. The senior Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) says we get the children to school, and we do not teach them anything; that our object is to get the numbers, and that we do not teach them anything. But in that opinion he is quite wrong. It is only by results that the Education Department pay, and unless certain percentages are passed they do not get their grant. My hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) says we do not insist upon a sufficient number of teachers; but he is also quite mistaken there; because unless the proportion is kept up to a certain number of scholars, the grant is disallowed, and every school is only too anxious to keep up the staff of teachers. My hon. Friend told us about the work of Free Education in the Heriot schools in Edinburgh. Well, that was answered at once by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow University (Mr. A. J. Campbell). The Heriot schools are schools not for the very poorest classes. They are rather for the better working class, and yet there are 5,000 scholars in the Heriot schools receiving a free education. Upon what condition? Upon the condition that they make a regular attendance. Any child irregular in attendance is immediately expelled. But if you had under this Bill Free Education throughout Scotland, how could you expel children from board schools for irregularity of attendance? The fact is, you give the Heriot scholars education as a bribe for regular attendance, and put a penalty upon children who do not attend regularly. It is not a case to be quoted for the advantage of free schools. Now, I will just ask the House to consider for a few moments why my hon. Friend ought not to press his Motion. I believe that so far from being a measure in favour of education, it would be a very serious obstacle to the progress of education in Scotland. I do not say 777 that the time may not come when Scotland may have a free-school system; but I think we shall all agree that it cannot be adopted without the general assent of the Scotch Representatives in this House and the Scotch people. There have been 9 or 10 hon. Members from Scotland who have spoken on this question; but only one, besides the hon. Member who introduced it, has spoken in its favour. What is the feeling of the country? I have here a list of Petitions presented. There have been 40 Petitions presented, many of them from most important localities and representative bodies against the measure. One comes from the Convention of Royal and Parliamentary Burghs, representing the Town Councils practically of 100 different parts of Scotland. Well, only two Members when it came to a division voted in favour of the Bill, and all the rest voted against it. Well, then, a very important school board Petition against it—the school board of Dundee—and eight or nine other school boards, and many other important representative bodies petitioned. On the other hand, there are just five Petitions in its favour, and I do not think my hon. Friend will claim that Scotland cares anything about the Bill, but is rather opposed to it than otherwise. Well, what would be the financial effect of the measure? It was said it was only a permissive measure, and will only be adopted by those school boards where the population are generally favourable to it. Let me point out to the hon. Member how it will operate. There are 220 school boards, and two or three of the boards have only one school. Suppose one board passes a resolution, what are the others to do? How can you enforce the system in the schools where there is competition? It would require all the school boards to agree. You would have a conflict in the parishes. Then what would be the cost of this? My hon. Friend has stated that the rate would be very small. Taken from one end of Scotland to another, the rates would be increased by an average of 3d. in the £1. In some cases it would be increased as much as 20d. in the £1. Well, with the feeling against rates in Scotland, what would be the result? Would not this be to hinder the work of the school board? How would the higher education fare under these circumstances? Would it 778 not tend to cut the work down to the very lower Elementary Education, instead of widening and raising it so that all classes may enjoy the benefits of a higher education? I have made out a list of the rates required to meet the existing fees of the school board, and I find in 117 parishes they would require 3d. in the £1, in 44 it would be 4d., in 35 it would be 5d., in 26 it would be 6d,, in 10 parishes, 7d., and so on it goes until it comes to 20d. in the £1. But that does not wholly express the financial cost. It will be very much larger than I stated. I want to point out to my hon. Friend how it would affect Glasgow itself. He admitted there were 35,000 children attending board schools in Glasgow, and that there were 23,000 attending voluntary schools. Well, suppose you make the school board schools—the schools with an attendance of 35,000—free, what will happen to those schools where the other 23,000 children are educated, and how are you going to deal with the 12,000 Roman Catholics? Are you going to make the 12,000 Catholics in Glasgow pay their share for the free teaching of those 35,000 children in the board schools, and for the teaching, mind you, of what is practically a Presbyterian faith and the Bible and the Shorter Catechism? ["No, no!"] Why, do you suppose that is not the case in the Scotch schools? Are you going to make the Catholics pay for the teaching of the Presbyterian faith, and require them also to maintain their own children entirely at their own cost? Considering how difficult it is to meet this religious question, considering how necessary it is that you should have freedom of choice for the parents, because without freedom of choice for the parents you cannot enforce compulsion, the proposal is surrounded with objections. Look how you increase your educational difficulties. It is quite true that, if we had to be begin de novo, we should have a different educational system than we have at the present time. We have arrived at a modus vivendi; the Education Act is a compromise, and a compromise that is working well, and under it we may have the best education with the least possible friction. If you introduce this free system, it seems to me that you will have the very greatest difficulty. You will bring about diffi- 779 culties that you do not anticipate, and I think it would be far better that Scotland should go on improving, strengthening, and widening, the quality of her education, rather than involve herself in new difficulties by this mode of expenditure. I do not think it would be so good for the working men all round as the hon. Member thinks. I know he has pleaded it would relieve the working men a good deal. I am not so sure of that. For one of two things would happen—either you must continue to make it a narrow class question, or allow the higher education to be taught as well as the elementary. Well, if you are to do that you will increase the cost to the working men, because you will increase the rates so largely that he will better pay the present school fees. At present a working man has to pay fees only so long as his children are at school; and you say he had better pay 5s. a-year constantly than pay 12s. a-year for the time his children are at school. But if you increase the cost of education so much that the rates are very largely enhanced, it will be a burden to the workingman, because the rates have to be paid by him before his own children can go to school, and he must pay them after they leave school, or if he has no children at all, and the rates would remain a burden to him as long as he is a householder. If the hon. Member desires to go to a division I will not, for a moment, stand in his way; but I appeal to him to withdraw the Bill. He sees that the Scotch Members are against it; the Scotch people are not on his side. If he wishes an Act of this kind to pass the House, I think he must amend his Bill, and come with public opinion more strongly behind him than he has got it. My hon. Friend the senior Member for Glasgow hoped I had not lost my zeal for education. I hope so too, and that I may be useful to Scotland in my office. I am encouraged by what I do for Scotland and by what Scotland does for education. I hope we shall pass this year that Scotch Endowments Bill which will decidedly build up and improve the character of Scotch education. I often say that if I could be born again I would be born a Scotchman, for the benefits Scotland confers upon her children in the way of education. I hope, therefore, that the reasons I have urged, and many more that might be urged, will 780 suffice to induce the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. DONALDSON-HUDSON
said, that although Members on this side of the House had been twitted by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) with ignorance upon educational questions, they knew enough to be able to see that the Bill was conceived in a spirit of hostility to denominational schools. During the time in which he had sat upon the London School Board with the hon. Member for Oldham the effect of the policy which the hon. Member, who was supporting the Bill, had persistently advocated was one of injury to voluntary schools. All that the opponents of the Bill asked for the denominational schools was fair play. They did not oppose the Bill solely in the interests of denominational schools; but they protested against the denominational schools being handicapped in the unfair way in which the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) sought to do it.
said, that although, at that hour, he could not attempt to reply to the arguments put forward by the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) against his proposal, he must not be considered as admitting them. He should not, however, ask the House to divide on the Bill, for he did not really care about a division. As to the objection that the Bill did not provide for higher education being free, if that was all, he was willing to amend it in that respect.
Question put, and negatived.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Second Reading put off for six months.