HC Deb 03 May 1882 vol 269 cc1-47

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the object he had in doing so was to remove a grievance that had been very generally felt by the teachers of board schools in Scotland since the passing of the Act of 1872. That grievance had been, to a certain extent, foretold during the debates on that measure, and he thought he would be able to satisfy the House that some amendment of the existing law was desirable. He thought it was generally admitted on both sides of the House that the teachers, as a class, ought to be relieved from all unmerited harassment or disturbance in the discharge of their most important duties; and he was glad that, in moving the second reading of this Bill, he should not have to adopt any arguments of a Party character. A glance at the back of the Bill would show the names of two Members on that side of the House and one Member on the other side, while the opposition which had been given to the Bill came, on the one hand, from a Liberal Member, the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), and, on the other hand, from the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce). He could understand the opposition of the hon. Member for Glasgow, because they had only to remember the remarks he had made in the debates on the Act of 1872 to ascertain that he was then unfavourable to any measure of freedom in that respect, and there was no reason to suppose that he had since changed his views. But he could not understand the opposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine, unless it consisted in the fact that he himself (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had thought it his duty to give Notice of opposition to a Bill which the hon. Baronet had in charge. He was quite aware that the present Bill had excited considerable agitation in the minds of members of school boards and others in Scotland; but he might claim considerable sympathy with members of school boards in the discharge of their difficult and very often delicate duties. He himself had been Chairman of a school board since the passing of the Act of 1872, and had had a fair experience of the difficulties arising, not only in the ordinary discharge of their duties, but specially in the very point which was raised in relation to this Bill, in regard to the fixity of tenure which was enjoyed by teachers under the previous Act, and he was therefore able to speak with some knowledge of the subject. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had animadverted very strongly on the carelessness with which this Bill had been drafted when addressing a deputation which had waited upon him a few days ago. For instance, in one clause it was made to appear as if the teacher had his residence "in a registered letter." He had no excuse to offer for these errors. They did not affect the provisions of the Bill; but, still, he admitted that the measure being under his charge, he ought to have seen that it was accurately drafted. The Bill differed very considerably from the Bill he had introduced last Session. That measure was introduced at a very late period of the Session, its preparation having been delayed by him in the hope that the Government might be induced, in view of certain occurrences which had taken place, to take up the amendment of the law themselves. The Bill of last Session provided that an appeal should be made to the Sheriffs. All reference to the Sheriff it had been thought advisable to remove from this Bill, as the Department might be considered to be the proper tribunal for such an appeal, being specially conversant with educational matters. Previous to the Act of 1872, the teachers of parochial schools in Scotland practically enjoyed fixity of tenure. They held their office ad vitam aut culpam, and could only be removed on grave charges of immorality, or utter incompetence or inefficiency. It was very far from his desire to revert to anything like the old system of fixity of tenure; he should be acting contrary to his own experience as a member or Chairman of a school board if he proposed anything of the kind. But it seemed to him that in the alteration of the law which took place in 1872, in the complete reversal of the position of the teachers under the new Act, the Government of the day had fallen into an error in the other extreme. The new Act had made the labours of the teachers infinitely more arduous than before, and it, at the same time, made their position more insecure. On the introduction of the Bill in 1872 the hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) moved an Amendment to the effect that no removal of a teacher should take place except with the approval of the Education Department, and that proposal was discussed; but it was discussed upon a total misapprehension as to what was contained in the clause the Amendment referred to. The putative father of the Act of 1872 was Lord Advocate Young, now Lord Young; but there was no doubt that the real framer of the Bill was his Secretary, Mr. Craig Sellar. ["No, no!"] Well, he was stating his conviction and that of a great many gentlemen who were in a position to know. ["No, no!"] At all events, Mr. Craig Sellar was Secretary to the Lord Advocate, and was intimate with the provisions of the Bill, and immediately after it became law he published a handbook explaining the provisions of the Bill. The first edition of that handbook contained a note on the Removal Clause to this effect— School boards and teachers will now be able to make whatever agreements they may please with regard to permanency of tenure. He considered it was a matter of free contract between the school boards and the teachers. But in the second edition of the book that note was deleted; and he confessed that, as the result of that clause, school boards could grant no tenure except during their own pleasure. If a misapprehension as to the bearing of that clause had existed in the mind of Mr. Craig Sellar, it probably existed in the minds of many other Members of that House. A division was taken on the Amendment to which he had referred—for the Amendment, 42; against, 84. But among the minority who voted for giving the teachers an appeal to the Education Department were the right hon. Gentleman now Chairman of Committees (Mr. Lyon Playfair), the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker), the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan), and the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Pender). He would be curious to know whether the working of the Act during the last 10 years had so altered their views that they would not be able to follow him into the Lobby on the second reading of the Bill. He would endeavour to show how not only the interests of the teacher, but also of the taught, had been rendered insecure. "Who drives fat cattle should himself be fat." What he meant was that no teacher could discharge his duties with any degree of benefit to his pupils unless he enjoyed a reasonable degree of security in his office. In Scotland tradition had for many centuries given teachers a social status which had been admirably upheld by them as a body, but which had been impaired during the last 10 years. School boards in Scotland had been successful in discharging their duties with impartiality and efficiency as a rule. But there had been exceptions, and it would be his duty to call the attention of the House to the circumstances attending a few of these cases. He begged it to be distinctly understood that he was making no charge against the school boards. He only desired an alteration of the law, which should prevent school boards from falling into error, as it seemed to him they had done in several instances, and in one or two painful instances they seemed to have been actuated by motives which, if they had had an opportunity of reconsideration, they would themselves have been the first to condemn and repudiate. The first case to which he would call the attention of the House was one that had occurred in his own county—Wigtownshire—and was known as the Leswalt case; and here he might say that the Chairman of the board was a personal friend of his own, and he was speaking from his own knowledge when he said that nothing could be further from that gentleman's character than any measure consciously of oppression or injustice. The school board of Leswalt consisted of five members. A meeting was held about a year or 18 months ago. There was no notice of the business to be transacted at the meeting. Three members—a bare quorum—were present. One of the members rose and moved that the teacher of the principal public school should receive three months' notice of dismissal. Another member seconded the motion. The third member protested. The Chairman declared the motion carried, whereupon the third member withdrew from the room, intimating his resignation of his seat. These were the bare facts of the case, which he believed were not contested. Was it right, he asked, that a person who had attained a public position, after a lifelong preparation of a very expensive character, should have his position imperilled by a catch decision of a bare quorum of the school board? Had it not happened that a vacancy occurred in an adjacent parish, where the circumstances of the case were fully known, that teacher, whom he believed to be a most efficient and deserving man, might have been still in vain seeking a livelihood. So much greater was the supply of teachers than the demand that the fact of a man's having been dismissed would be almost fatal to his chances of getting a new appointment. In the Old Meldrum case, it appeared the teacher was in the habit of supplying stationery—copy-books, pens, and ink—to the children, and one or two tradesmen in the village objected to this. Upon a new election of the school board, one of those tradesmen obtained a seat upon the board. The result was that the teacher was dismissed—for what cause he left the House to judge. It appeared from the minutes of the board that the teacher had requested to know the reason of his dismissal, on which the board had expressed themselves unwilling to give any reason for dismissing him, on the ground that the agreement he had made with the board was that his appointment should be terminable at three months' notice, and the board were not compelled to give reasons for their action. Now, the dismissal of a teacher was one of the most important questions that could be considered by a school board, and it ought not to be undertaken except for very grave reasons; and what were they to think of a board withholding from the teacher and the public all reasons why such an important step was taken? The third and last case with which he would trouble the House was the Scone case. He could not speak from personal knowledge of this case, which had occurred quite recently; but here was the statement as supplied to him— The principal teacher there was an excellent teacher, and an exemplary man, and was a member of the Established Church, the Chairman of the board being a Free Churchman. Some time ago the assistant was convicted in the Sheriff Court of cruelty to a child. The school board was sectarian in its character. Soon after the conviction of the assistant the Chairman moved that the principal teacher should be removed from his office on the ground of defective discipline. As the time of the board's existence was near a close, in order to accomplish their object within their time, the notice to quit was shortened by the board to two months. Meantime the assistant, who was the offender, retained his office. This was an extraordinary illustration of vicarious punishment. The facts had not been denied. It was a very grave charge to bring against a school board that they were actuated by such petty motives as those differences, especially in Scotland, where differences between the Established Church and other branches of the Presbyterian Church were so microscopic and inscrutable. But it would be impossible for any practical man to deny that these bitternesses and acerbities did exist. At every school board election, when the names of the candidates were published, after the name of each the letters "F.C.," "E.C.," "U.P.," and so on were printed, to signify the different sections of the Presbyterian Church to which they belonged. These initials were intended to attract the support of the members of those respective Bodies. He was quite aware it would be said that these initials were first used in consequence of the "Conscience Clauses" of the Act; but the fact remained, and would not be disputed by any practical man, that school board elections in Scotland were generally, or at all events frequently, con- ducted on the ground of religious differences, and everybody knew what religious differences led to. He thought the House would, therefore, at once see that an opportunity ought to be given to the members of school boards to refute those grave charges that were brought against them, of punishing their schoolmasters for those religious differences, as alleged in two out of the three instances he had given. Another point was that very often in rural districts the administration of the Compulsory Clauses of the Act depended upon the schoolmaster, and the parents, who resented the interference of the teacher, were apt to take their revenge at election time. He saw a look of incredulity on the face of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella). But if he had been so long resident as he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had been in local districts in Scotland, he would know that he was talking of matters of every day occurrence. [Mr. RAMSAY: No, no.] No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would tell him that he was not prepared to interfere to the extent proposed in this Bill with the local government of the school boards, and that it was very undesirable, having set up a means of local government, to interfere with it from headquarters. But he was not asking the Department to interfere with school boards any more, nor even as much as, the Board of Supervision interfered with parochial boards in Scotland. No Poor Inspector or Registrar could be dismissed without the consent of the Board of Supervision; and he held that in the case of the schoolmaster it was dealing with much more important interests than in that of the Poor Inspector or Registrar, because it was dealing with a man's only source of income. He might quote from a very high authority in favour of the interference of the Department in matters of education. Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his Political Economy, in dealing with the limits and provinces of local government, entered into that question, and maintained that with regard to education—averse as he was to the interference of the Government with local concerns, and advocating, as he did, the laissez faire principle—it was one of the duties of the Government to interfere in matters relating to the education of the people. He concluded a long dissertation on the subject with these words— In the matter of education, the intervention of the Government is justifiable, because the case is not one in which, the interest and judgment of the consumer are sufficient security for the quality of the commodity. One reason why he brought forward his proposal was that the ratepayers were not sufficiently careful to elect the best men, and as an instance of that he might quote the case of a school board in Kirkcudbrightshire. At the election there were eight gentlemen put in nomination, one of them being objectionable to all the others. As he would not withdraw, the other seven did, and he was the sole candidate left. He was returned; but he believed that some interference had been made by the Government since, and the result was the election of a school board; but what confidence could be placed in a board elected under such circumstances? One of the objections that might be taken to the Bill was that it afforded no protection to teachers against the undue lowering of their salaries by school boards; that their position might be made untenable by a reduction of their salaries to a minimum. He did not think that was a fair argument against the Bill. He did not intend to make the position of the teacher an ideal one, without any disabilities or difficulties, but to remedy one particular grievance. If there was any reason to suppose that school boards would enter into a course of reducing a teacher's salary to starvation point, in order to get rid of him, if this Bill were passed, then that might be remedied by further legislation in the way of establishing a certain rate per scholar. That proposal was discussed in 1872, and dismissed as undesirable, and he must say he thought it undesirable himself. He did not contemplate as possible deliberate cruelty on the part of a board against a teacher. What he wished to safeguard the teachers from was a chance decision like that which was come to in the Leswalt case; because one error on the part of a school board might imperil the success and prospects of a teacher for his whole life, however much that error might be afterwards regretted by the board. Quidquid delirant reyes, plectuntur Achivi. The Vice President of the Council might say, if this Bill were passed, it would throw too much work on the Education Department. The answer to that, however, was that, during the last 10 years, out of 600 school boards only 25 cases had been advanced in which the Educational Institute of Scotland thought interference with the board should have taken place. The very fact of an appeal existing would further reduce this number. School boards would hesitate before acting hurriedly. He thought he had said enough now to show that some legislation was required on this subject. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the greatest possible interest was felt throughout Scotland in the success of this measure, which professed to give a reasonable degree of security in the discharge of their duties to a most deserving and important class of the community; and he believed if this Bill were allowed to pass a second reading, or if the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurance that the teachers' position would receive his consideration, and would receive some improvement at his hands, it would be received with satisfaction throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Herbert Maxwell.)


said, that after listeningly very attentively to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill, he felt bound to say that he never heard so slight a case made out in favour of so great a change. The hon. Member had come very badly supplied with arguments in support of his case; but certainly he had come very well fortified with Latin quotations; and perhaps that was not inappropriate in a case for maintaining the schoolmaster's position. He would not follow the hon. Member's example in dealing with Latin quotations. They were not in his line. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member had only given the House three cases, and they had only heard one side of them. Perhaps, had they heard what the school boards had to say on these cases, they might form a very different opinion regarding them. The hon. Member had told them that there only had been in the whole 10 years since the Education Act passed 25 cases in which interference should have been asked. Well, they would say nothing about the three cases; but here they had it distinctly stated, by the Mover of the Bill that only 25 cases had occurred out of 600 school boards in which interference was necessary, and yet, for that wretched number of cases, he asked the House to make so great a change as to degrade the status of the whole 600 school boards of Scotland. The hon. Member wanted to make the schoolmaster the master of the board, in place of the board, who employed the schoolmaster and paid him, having him as their servant. That was the reason why he opposed the Bill. The hon. Member had referred to the debate of 1872, and said his grievance was foretold then. Very likely. He thought it was stated by Lord Young, as one of the principal points of his Bill, that they would, by passing it, destroy the old fixity of tenure which had acted so badly, and which had reduced the position of the schoolmaster, in many cases, to that of an old woman, and bring them into a position which would enormously improve their status. The hon. Member actually said the social position of the schoolmasters of Scotland had been impaired by the Education Act. He took issue with the hon. Gentleman on that question at once, because the social status of the schoolmasters of Scotland, as far as they could judge by the proper standard—the amount of their emoluments—had been greatly improved, their emoluments being enormously increased by the Act of 1872. He did not wish to say one word against the schoolmasters of Scotland. They were now a highly respectable body; but they were not always a very practical body of men. Certainly in 1872 they were not, because they were the principal opponents of the 1872 Bill. They were so enamoured with the position of fixity of tenure under the heritors that they did not like to see anything in the shape of change, and yet the change under that Act had simply put the ball at their feet. They had a constantly improving position ever since, and now they were a highly respectable and able body of men, in receipt of much larger emoluments than ever they were in receipt of before. The fact was that the Act had made a career for the schoolmaster. Formerly, the position of parish school teacher was no career for a man. It was only a career for a broken-down man. If a man happened to fail in his aspirations for the ministry, he straightway descended into being a schoolmaster. In fact, it was commonly said that all schoolmasters were simply what were called "sticket meenisters." [Laughter.] He did not require to explain that phrase to any Scottish Member. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] But how was it now? The thing was altogether reversed. A "sticket schoolmaster" might be a minister; but it would be utterly impossible for a "sticket meenister" to be selected by a Scottish school board to be the schoolmaster of a Scottish parish. Therefore he had no hesitation in saying that the social position of the teacher, instead of being impaired by the Act of 1872, had been enormously improved. He had said schoolmasters were not a very practical body of men before, and he did not think they were very practical now. They had been spoiled by the position they had been put into by the Education Act, and now they were demanding the absurd position of being independent of their masters. He was sure it would not be very good for themselves to show that independence. Take even the case of Leswalt, to which reference had been made. The schoolmaster was no sooner dismissed by the school board of one parish than he was employed by that of another. In future, all teachers who did not get on well with their boards would have that resource. What would have been the teacher's position if he had the right of appeal to the Privy Council, and the Privy Council had confirmed the decision of the Leswalt school board? He thought, in the majority of cases, the Privy Council would be disposed to confirm the action of school boards, unless the case was very gross indeed. The schoolmaster of Leswalt, if his dismissal had been confirmed by the Privy Council, would have been a man ruined for life, and could not have gone to the next parish and been appointed a teacher there. Therefore, he doubted if what they were asking for as an improvement would be in all respects an improvement upon their status. The hon. Member had referred to the cases of Inspectors of the poor, that were, he said, not removable without appeal. But their case was not analogous at all. An Inspector of the poor was elected to protect the poor against the grasping ratepayers. The Poor Law Board was elected to take care of the rates, and the fear was that they might carry that care for the rates to too great an extreme. If they found the Inspector dealing too leniently with the poor they might dismiss him. But there was no such argument for taking out of the hands of the school board the power over their servant. He had said he did not think it would be greatly to the benefit of the schoolmasters to get this power; but that was not his principal argument. His principal argument was that they must not degrade the school boards and put them in a position of lessened power; because the result of that would be that the country would get a worse class of men to act on the school board. He considered it of the greatest importance to keep up the quality and status of the members of school boards; and he earnestly hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) would not seek to take into the Privy Council anything more of a centralizing tendency. He hoped he would repudiate the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman, and entirely reject it. There was only, indeed, one clause in the Bill that he personally could think of supporting, and that was the clause which provided that schoolmasters should not be dismissed in the rapid manner mentioned in one of the cases brought forward. It provided for a meeting convened by circular at three weeks' notice, so that all the members of the school boards should have due notice of what was to be proposed to them. That, probably, would have been effected in at least some cases of dismissal. But it was the only clause that he could conscientiously support; and unless the Bill was cut down to that one clause he should feel bound to oppose it. Indeed, that clause did not contain the principle of the Bill; and as they were now called on to vote for the principle of the Bill, which was the non-removability of schoolmasters except with the assent of the Privy Council, he begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, he came down to the House with feelings of great curiosity to hear what could possibly be said by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Herbert Maxwell) in favour of this most remarkable Bill. He thought, perhaps, some terrible thing must have occurred in Galloway to afford justification for a measure of this character; because, speaking of the Eastern part of Scotland, he was perfectly certain that no desire for any such measure existed except on the part of a very few unpractical schoolmasters. The people of Scotland had perfect confidence in the school boards whom they elected. He entirely concurred in the opinion expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) that the effect of the Bill would be to degrade the school boards, and introduce into the boards a worse set of men than they had at present. He had never heard, during his long experience of 28 years in that House, a Bill supported on such insufficient grounds. The hon. Member had given them only three instances of what he termed wrongful dismissal; but it did not follow, from anything he had said, that in any of these instances the school board was in the wrong. He thought it would be a most extraordinary thing were the House, because of the doubt as to the propriety of the action of three school boards in 10 years, to reverse the legislation deliberately agreed upon in 1872. He begged, in the strongest manner, to confirm what his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow had said with regard to the opinions of the author of the Education Bill of 1872 in regard to that part of the Bill which related to this particular subject. Lord Young, over and over again, stated in the House that he attached the highest importance to leaving entirely in the hands of the school boards all matters connected with the appointment and dismissal of teachers. It was a matter, in his (Mr. Baxter's) opinion, in which no Department of Government in London ought to be permitted to interfere; and he was quite certain of this—that no more unpopular vote amongst the ratepayers of Scotland could be given than a vote in favour of such interference. In reference to this measure, he desired to correct an inaccuracy into which the hon. Member who had moved the second reading of this Bill had fallen. He stated that, although Lord Young had introduced and carried the Act of 1872 through the House with remarkable skill and ability, yet its real author was Mr. Craig Sellar. He (Mr. Baxter) believed that if ever there was a Bill introduced and carried through Parliament of which the sponsor was the real author, that Bill was the Edu- cation Bill of 1872. He went further, and said that he believed it to be the case that Lord Young himself wrote every clause, and perhaps every line, of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman had stated, with great truth, that, although at the time the Act was passed there was a great scarcity of applicants for vacancies in schools, now there were for every vacancy something like 100 to 200 applicants. But what did that prove? It proved that the teaching body in Scotland fully confided in the action of the school boards. The hon. Gentleman had further stated that it was impossible for the schoolmaster who had such an insecure tenure of office to teach properly in his school; but was that not rather an aspersion on the great body of teachers? He (Mr. Baxter) did not believe that the nature of their tenure interfered in the smallest degree with their teaching. This grievance of the schoolmaster was entirely a theoretical and sentimental grievance. He confirmed what the hon. Member for Glasgow had said in regard to the action taken by the teachers of Scotland with regard to every Bill introduced into Parliament for the improvement of the education of Scotland. They sent year after year deputations to London to oppose the various Education Bills. They trusted more to the landlords of the country than to the ratepayers. Yet, in the majority of instances, the salaries of the teachers had been very greatly raised under the operation of the Act passed in 1872. In some cases the salary had been doubled. He thought it was very unwise on the part of the teachers, having made such a mistake before, to try and go back and alter, in one of its most essential provisions, a Bill which had done them so much good. He was perfectly satisfied that no one in Scotland desired this measure except the teachers, who laboured under this imaginary grievance. He joined with the hon. Member for Glasgow in hoping that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) would not countenance the Bill in any way. No doubt, he would oppose the second reading; but he (Mr. Baxter) begged him to give no assurance which would lead the people of Scotland to imagine that there was to be any change in this respect.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Anderson.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


confessed that, in rising to address a few words to the House on what he considered an important measure, he felt the effects of the disappointment which he experienced in reading the account of the reply of the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) to the deputation from the Scotch Educational Institute that waited upon him on Saturday last. The right hon. Gentleman held out no hope, and showed no sympathy with a most important and useful body of men in Scotland; but, in his own peculiar, sledge-hammer way, lectured them as to their ignorance as to what was best for their own interest, and declared that if what they asked was granted it would be injurious to themselves. The right hon. Gentleman's remarks might be divided into three heads. The first was, that it was the worst drawn-up Bill he had ever read; but one would have thought, from his experience, that he must have known the usual way to treat a Bill which was distasteful was to call it the "worst drawn-up Bill ever introduced." It did not matter how the Bill was drawn up, if its principles were correct. Any deficiency in drawing up could have been amended in Committee; and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman might have spared that portion of his rebuke to the teachers who waited upon him. It appeared the teachers had asked that there should be a fixed minimum salary. That the right hon. Gentleman tabooed, as asking something which would deteriorate their remuneration. Depend upon it, said the right hon. Gentleman, the minimum salary would soon become the maximum. That was an assertion without a shadow of argument, because there was in every public office a minimum salary, which went on increasing year by year according to the efficiency of the occupants. So it would be with the schoolmasters. The right hon. Gentleman next said that the Education Department could not undertake the supervision of cases of removal of teachers by school boards, and was not competent to judge whether the interests of education were involved in the dismissal of a head master.


remarked that what he had said was that the Education Department was not competent to judge what would be for the interests of education in respect to localities.


said, what he wanted to point out was the nature of the duties of the right hon. Gentleman. The duties of the right hon. Gentleman were multifarious, and sometimes incongruous; for he not only had the charge of education, but also of cattle disease, for preventing the spread of which he had numerous Inspectors at his service. Surely he might expend some little time and trouble in making inquiries into the grounds for the dismissal of a head master by means of his School Inspectors. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) and the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had shown little sympathy with the schoolmasters, and seemed to understand what they should ask and what would be for their interest much better than the teachers themselves; but the fact remained that the whole body of the schoolmasters were in favour of this Bill. The hon. Member (Mr. Anderson) argued that the case brought forward by the hon. Baronet was a weak one, because that during the whole nine years that the Education Act had been in force, there had only been 25 cases of capricious dismissal. Yes; but hon. Members would bear in mind that it was only a few cases of "Boycotting" which had taken place in Ireland, and yet that had had a most powerful effect on the whole country, and had struck terror everywhere. And it was the same with murder. One murder affected not only that country, but this country also. So it was with the schoolmaster. Although there were only few cases brought forward, yet those cases told their own tale; and he knew there were hundreds of other cases where the poor schoolmaster had had to bear bad treatment, which, under other circumstances, he would not have done, because he felt that if he resisted, the power of the school board was so great that he would lose his situation, and perhaps be thrown on the world. There was an absolute monopoly of education in the school boards; and when a master had been put about his business by being dismissed by a school board without a reason—for the school board was not bound to give a reason—there was little chance of that man being employed again. There was a fourth reason that the right hon. Gentleman gave in condemnation of this Bill—namely, that such interference with the school boards would be destructive of the independence of local government and derogatory to the school boards. He did not care much for the independence of any corporation or school board who could act unjustly to persons in their employment or under their control. He held there was nothing so degrading to a teacher who was placed in an important office as to be under the control and domineering influence of a school board of less culture and social position than himself, and be obliged to submit to the domineering dictation of that board against his conscience. Had they not parochial boards appointing their medical officer and their Inspector, and yet without the power of putting them about their business, unless with the concurrence of the Board of Supervision? And was that found to degrade the parochial boards? And were they not composed of a better class of people than their country school boards were? ["No, no!"] Hon. Members might say "No, no!" but that was his experience, and he knew that the principal qualifications for members of the school board, in some cases, were that they should be men of free social qualities, and the best customers of public-houses. ["No, no!"] He had a perfect knowledge of what he was saying. In Edinburgh and Glasgow and the large burghs the business was managed remarkably well. It was in the small rural parishes where they suffered, because there well-to-do people, such as landlords, proprietors, and farmers, had no influence whatever in the election of the school board, which was altogether in the hands of the people who occupied small houses in the village. Any person who occupied a house, even although he was unable to pay rates, had the same power in electing members of the school board as the landed proprietor, who, perhaps, paid three-fourths of the whole rates in the parish. He should vote for the Bill, believing it was a just and reasonable measure for the protection of the most arduous profession that they had in the country—a profession which required almost a lifetime to make efficient—requiring a good education, high culture, rare qualities of command of temper, patience, kindness, and firmness; and if they resisted this Bill, and kept things as they were, they would lower the class of teachers who would come into the profession, and do great injury to the education of the country. The caricature drawn by the hon. Member for Glasgow of what the schoolmasters were before the passing of the Act of 1872 led him to fear that the hon. Member had had little acquaintance with that honourable body of men. He knew them well; and he affirmed that the character and education of those men were so high that they were able to pass their scholars right on from the country schools to the University. What the hon. Member for Glasgow had said regarding those men was painful to him and unjust to them. The schoolmasters of Scotland, from the great independence they had by fixity of tenure—which he did not ask should be renewed, though it had its advantages too—produced a race of people than whom none were more law-abiding, industrious, and worthy to fill the places which they found Scotsmen occupying all over the world. He should support the Bill before the House.


said, that, after the expressions of opinion which had fallen from the Liberal side of the House, he certainly felt that it required considerable courage on his part to carry out the determination with which he came down to the House, which was to say one or two words in favour of this Bill. He did this, first of all, because he felt bound by the promise he gave some of his constituents to do everything in his power to remedy what he believed then, and what he still believed, to be a genuine grievance which the schoolmasters of Scotland had in this matter. He did not gather from the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) that he denied that injustice was done to the schoolmasters; and it seemed to him extraordinary that when the fact of injustice was generally admitted, the hon. Member should come down to the House, and, in opposing the second reading of the Bill, practically assert that there should be no remedy for this grievance. He thought it was an unfortunate thing that the Legislature had gone from one extreme to the other in this matter. There could be no doubt that the old law, which made the schoolmasters entirely independent, which made their removal by any power in Heaven or earth impossible, was certainly a bad one; but he could not help thinking that the other extreme into which they had gone, under which the teacher, a public servant, was at the arbitrary disposal of any body of men, was not less bad and unwise. The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech he made a few days ago to a deputation of Scottish teachers, seemed to admit the grievance, and told them they must rely more on the sense of probity in their countrymen, and less upon Acts of Parliament, or words to that effect. He (Lord Colin Campbell) ventured to say, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that if he admitted that the schoolmasters in Scotland had a grievance, something more might be expected from the Department over which he presided than that it should be put in a Motion merely to throw out the Bill by destructive criticism. The right hon. Gentleman might lend his valuable aid and counsel in re-modelling a measure which he did not approve. He (Lord Colin Campbell) was not concerned to defend the drafting of the measure. He thought there were errors in it; but they were capable of being rectified He thought the machinery which the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) proposed to create for the removal of injustice was not to be altogether approved. He believed the real remedy in cases where injustice seemed to be done was to dissolve the school board, or, at least, in those cases in which the sentence of dismissal was not supported by three-fourths of the school board. In the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he told the schoolmasters that it was a bad thing to interfere in such a way as would detract from the dignity of the school board, and interfere with its powers. He could not think that was an insuperable objection. The general working of the school boards in Scotland had been justly eulogized; but if, in this matter, injustice had been done—if the fact was proved, however much they might be disposed to laud and eulogize the school boards in Scotland, there was no reason why they should not endeavour, as far as they could, to purge the system of any taint of injustice which existed. Want of sympathy with cases of capricious dismissal was certainly astonishing, as coming from that side of the House, because Parliament had shown the strongest sympathy with tenants in agriculture, who were liable to capricious eviction; and he must say he thought they might be expected to show the same regard, and the same zeal, for any body of men, whether connected with agriculture or not, who were liable to be deprived, without sufficient reason, of their status, and of the emoluments on which they depended for their living. The inference might almost be drawn that those who opposed this measure regarded the injustice which was done by individuals when they evicted their tenants as more reprehensible than similar injustice, when it came not from individuals, but from bodies of men. Nobody could deny that the position of the schoolmasters was one which tended to make them dependent on the dominant section of the school board; and a system which made a schoolmaster a mere drudge in the hands of the dominant section of the school board was not one that would tend to increase the utility of his work. Now, with regard to the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to advocate, he would quote from a report which appeared in a Scotch newspaper of the interview with the deputation referred to. He said that— Where a man was discharged simply for the fact that he belonged to a particular denomination, that was so intolerable that he should think the mere fact of publicity given in the Press would be the best remedy in the world. He must say he could not seethe justice of that observation. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he supposed that the mere fact of the publication of what he called a "scandal" in the newspaper, without investigation and without inquiry as to the truth of the allegations made, was of itself insufficient? It was evident that the mere publication of the facts would neither restore the man to his office from which he had been wrongfully ejected, nor could it act as a deterrent, unless the facts had been proved by independent inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman took a very complimentary view of the power and efficacy of the Scottish Press. For himself, he should be very sorry to say anything which might seem to deny the good which inevitably must result from the publication of these scandals. But he did wish to point out that, whatever good it might do, it could not alone remedy the particular evil complained of, nor prevent similar "scandals" in the future. Though he did not approve of the machinery of this Bill—of the proposed appeal to the Education Department—he should vote for the second reading of the Bill; because he thought there should be no wrong and no injustice to Scotland in this matter without Parliament providing some remedy.


, whilst agreeing with some of the sentiments expressed in favour of the Bill, and whilst he could not say he was satisfied with the present position of the schoolmaster in Scotland, being, as he was, at the mercy of the dominant section of the school board, yet could not support the Bill. There was one thing, however, he disliked still more, and that was the remedy proposed by the noble Lord (Lord Colin Campbell). He suggested that the best remedy would be to dissolve the school board. That would be to give still more abitrary power to the central Department in London, and to take away, still more than was contemplated by the Bill of the hon. Baronet, the power vested in the school boards, and would be still more destructive to local government in Scotland. He agreed, to a certain extent, in what had been stated by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing) as to the high character of the teaching body in Scotland. Nor was he prepared to disagree with him as to the great debt of gratitude which Scotland owed to the old parish schoolmasters; but he could not go with him in his idea as to the propriety of restoring the old principle of fixity of tenure of office.


said, he had not suggested that. Quite the reverse.


said, he was aware that the hon. Member had not advocated that; but he allowed it to be implied that he was in favour of the idea. He opposed the Bill with some reluctance, because he should be anxious to defend a class of public servants, so honourable and so useful, from the risk of capricious dismissal. Such dismissal might be prompted by the narrowest of all motives—namely, sectarian prejudice. It was a matter of very great regret to him to suppose that such a thing was possible, and he should be anxious to follow any means that was admissible to render it impossible; but the Bill which had been submitted to the House was a very large and serious measure, while the grievance it dealt with was, on the whole, much smaller than the hon. Member supposed. What the House had to look at primarily was not the interests of individuals, but the interests of education. It was an ungrateful thing to say that while they desired to do justice to everyone they must put the interests of education above the interests of the teachers. The cardinal principle of the Education Act of 1872 was that the responsibility for the elementary education of Scotland was to be placed wholly and entirely in the hands of the local boards, elected for specific districts. Now, undoubtedly this Bill of the hon. Member tended to divide, to diminish, and so far weaken the responsibility placed in the school board by that Act. There were cases in which it was surely right that the school board should have the entire power of dismissing a teacher, without being compelled to show reasons for their conduct. There were cases, for example, in which the Board might fairly consider whether the salary which it offered might not command a better teacher, and whether they might not get better value for it. It seemed to him that once they parted with the rule laid down by the Act of 1872, by which the teacher held his office during the pleasure of the board, there was no intermediate position between that and the old position of ad vitam aut culpam. Either he must hold office during pleasure, or it must be a freehold. All precedent was in favour of tenure at the discretion of the trustees or heritors of the school. That was the case, he thought, in regard to the Church of Scotland schools at the present moment, and it certainly was the case in regard to the Free Church schools; and the only case ever brought before a Court of Law in Scotland was the case of the Trustees of the Woodhouse Institution, and there it was distinctly laid down that the teacher held office during the pleasure of the Governing Body. Then there was the case of the schools which were the most efficient among elementary schools in the country, which had the largest average attendances of any elementary schools in Scotland—schools very well known to the right hon. Gentleman—he meant the Heriot Free Schools in Edinburgh. The average attendance at these schools amounted to 90 per cent. or was almost as high a percentage as that at the Jews' School at Manchester, to which the Vice President had referred in a recent speech. In these free elementary schools, during the 40 odd years they had existed, the teachers had always held office at the pleasure of the Governors of Heriot's Hospital, and there had been no single case of complaint of capricious or unfair dismissal of the teachers in these schools. Therefore, on these grounds, although he confessed with some reluctance, he must vote against the second reading of the Bill. With respect to one point which had been raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), he was prepared to go a step further than he did. He thought the teachers had a right to claim not only that they should get a distinct notice of the proposal that they should be dismissed, but that there should be special notice given of the meeting which was to take into consideration the dismissal of the schoolmaster to all the members of the board that there should be a fixed interval of time between the summons and the meeting, and that, at the meeting so summoned, the question should not be decided unless there was a majority of the whole board in favour of dismissal.


said, that one important argument which might be used in support of the second reading of the Bill was the fact, not disputed by those who knew best the educational circumstances of Scotland, that a large number of the better classes of students were now refusing to enter the teaching profession, on account of the fear of capricious dismissal, and consequent ruin of their prospects; and he thought that argument must weigh very materially with the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would agree with him that nothing was more important in any educational system than to secure the very best men as teachers; and if it were true that these students were deterred from coming forward, that of itself ought to give ground for grave consideration, and that argument, he was bound to say, weighed more with him in support of the Bill than, perhaps, any other he had heard. He would like to say one word in regard to the responsibility of school boards. He thought a good deal of misrepresentation and fallacious argument arose from the common and erroneous opinion as to the status and function of school boards. Some people thought a school board was an irresponsible body. So far from being vested with irresponsible powers over school board teachers, and in their dealings with school rates and other matters, he regarded school boards, during the time of their existence, not as irresponsible masters, but as responsible trustees, and that their duty was to act as trustees for the main object for which they were appointed—namely, to carry out the education of the country in the most efficient and proper manner. Now, if he was right in that view of the function of the school board, it did away, in his opinion, with the chief argument used by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson). The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) said there was no medium between the moderate proposal of the Bill and fixity of tenure, which every Member who had yet spoken had condemned. He did not understand the argument which said they could not have a medium between two different proposals when the medium was actually presented to them. If the proposal now before them could be identified as fixity of tenure, then he was quite willing to accept it; but it did not approach fixity of tenure. It only provided that the dismissal of the schoolmaster should not take place when it was attended with public disadvantage; and the question of public disadvantage was left in the hands of the Education Department. He did not agree with all the proposals in the Bill; but with regard to its principle, he was entirely at one with the hon. Baronet who introduced the Bill.


, as one whose name was on the back of the Bill, supported it, as representing a county constituency, because he considered it was in such constituencies that most necessity existed for some protection to the teacher. He must, how- ever, repudiate altogether the truth of the statement made by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing) that the composition of these school boards was such that the members were the chief contributors to the support of public-houses. Such a sentiment as that he could not possibly endorse; because, from his own experience in the county which he represented (Kirkcudbright), he knew it not to be the fact. He knew the members to be men who did their duty honestly and conscientiously; and were not only men of good social position, but of good moral character. Therefore, he did not think that was an argument that ought to be adduced by the hon. Member in regard to the question before the House; and he did not think it would do the hon. Member any good when next he went to his constituents for re-election. The reason he supported the Bill was that he thought in country districts, where the population was sparse and the parishes large, and the number of members on the school boards small, it was a very difficult thing to get the members together to conduct the business which they had to do, because they lived at great distances apart. Only lately he had communications made to him to get the number of members of school boards in these parishes increased for that very reason. In the burghs it was altogether different, because there there was no valid reason why members of school boards should not always do their duty. As regards the grievances of the schoolmasters, he was bound to say that he thought they had had little to complain of in the past. He thought their grievances were rather prospective; but, at the same time, considering the expense of their education, their capacity, and intelligence, he thought they had a right, if they chose, to ask for some safeguards, so as to insure that the position they now occupied should not be taken from them in a capricious manner. They did their work exceedingly well; but he did not see how this Bill would affect the matter at all, because the school boards were not bound to give any salary at all, and if a master applied to the Privy Council and obtained a decision in his favour, the school board could reduce his salary to such an extent that he would not be able to remain in their service. He felt sure, however, that such a case would not occur; for the members of the school boards were strictly honourable men, and would not act in that way. Still, he believed the masters had certain grievances; and although he could see the Bill would not be carried, he hoped a measure would be adopted providing for the giving of notice to the teacher, and the calling together of the whole board to decide upon the question of dismissal. He hoped the hon. Member would go to a division.


said, it was far better that people up and down the country should exercise their power, even with the possibility of abusing it, than that the work of education should be tied still further under Departmental control. The Education Department had, perhaps, too much power already; and he should be very glad to see the tendency of legislation throw more responsibility on the school boards. He thought it would be quite impossible for a board to work harmoniously with the schoolmaster after there had been such a conflict between them as an appeal to the Department. If the Department sustained the schoolmaster against the board, the latter would be sure to blame the Education Department for any bad results of the examinations. He was quite ready to admit that in England, as well as in Scotland, the sectarian element was brought into play in the election of school boards; but he thought the principal remedy for that was not that Bill, but something rather for reforming the school boards. He thought the election area was too small, and that the cumulative vote was a direct invitation to sectarianism in the running of candidates. Any Bill which would extend the election area in rural districts and abolish the cumulative vote would do much to remove the grievances complained of.


said, he had anticipated that the result of the legislation of 10 years ago would be to encourage predominant Party feeling in school boards; but his experience had dispelled many of the apprehensions he felt at the time, and he appealed to Scottish Members whether there was not reason to admire the way in which the school boards had done their work? If there was any reason for complaint, it was the fact that they had been lavish in their expenditure; but that expendi- ture had been accompanied by action which showed that they took great pride in the school. They were fully alive to the importance of the matter, and were not likely to dismiss any teacher except on good and valid grounds. He would, at the same time, admit that there had occurred some cases in which injustice had arisen; but they were of a limited character, and the instances so few, that he did not think they ought to disturb the grounds upon which the settlement had been made; and for this reason—the present position of things was healthy, and it was most important that teachers should be able to feel that they were not merely the salaried officers of the State, but that they held their office by doing their duty to the people from whom they received their appointments. He shared strongly in the feeling of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley), that the true remedy for the evils complained of lay in the extension of the areas from which school boards were elected. In remote districts and small parishes it was impossible to overcome local feeling and contentions on religious grounds; but by the enlargement of the areas of election, that feeling would be overpowered by the more general expression of opinion derived from the larger areas. If any change was made, it should be in the direction that the persons appointed should be independent of the parish, and elected by larger areas. If the principle were adopted by the House that there should be an appeal to the Privy Council, it would be one that would not be confined to Scotland, but one that would affect every school board in the United Kingdom. He entertained the gravest doubt whether the Education Department of the Privy Council should really exercise the supervision provided by that Bill; and he would appeal to his right hon. Friend who had charge of that Department how far he thought he could exercise the jurisdiction given by the Bill without some local inquiry upon the spot. He thought, also, that the appeal should, if made at all, not be made in the manner proposed by the Bill; and if the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigtonshire would be content with the clause under which dismissal should only take place by a vote of three-fourths of the board, a Bill might pass which might satisfy the schoolmasters that their tenure of office would not be lightly interfered with. The Bill, in its present state, was not likely to pass; but if the hon. Baronet accepted the modification he suggested, he would be rendering assistance to an efficient body of men, whom all Scottish Members on both sides desired to see exercising their duties with independence, and for the benefit of the country.


said, he thought he might congratulate his hon. Friend (Sir Herbert Maxwell) for having brought out the fact that the present state of the law was not altogether satisfactory. There seemed to be a general agreement that some greater precautions should be used than were prescribed by the Education Act, with regard to the dismissal of teachers. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had expressed his willingness that the principle of the 3rd clause of the Bill should be carried out; that there should be full notice given to the members of school boards before they met for such important business as to consider a proposal to dismiss the principal teacher. He hoped the hon. Member and others would be equally willing to accept the principle of the 4th clause, which was that the dismissal of a teacher should only be effected when carried by a majority of the whole of the members of the school board. They had heard that at present it was possible for a principal teacher to be dismissed by the vote of a majority of the quorum of a small board—in other words, by the vote of two persons. He thought a good deal of the opposition they had heard to the other provision in the Bill was founded on a mistaken idea of what the Bill proposed. They had heard it spoken of as a great change, and arguments had been used as if the Bill proposed to restore the old tenure of office of schoolmasters. That was not the principle of the Bill. All that was proposed was, that a teacher who considered himself capriciously dismissed and unfairly used should have a right of appeal to the Education Department. His right hon. Friend the Member for the Montrose Burghs (Mr. Baxter) spoke of the teachers' grievances as sentimental grievances. They might be sentimental; but they were felt by the members of an important profession, and, being felt, those grievances must have some bearing on the interests of education in Scotland. There was one fact, which he thought must add some weight to the teachers' complaint, which had not been referred to. Under other systems—for instance, under the system of the Heriot Schools in Edinburgh, and other schools that had been referred to—a teacher who was appointed during the pleasure of the managers had some knowledge who his managers were, and were to be. There was a certain element of permanency in the managing board. But there was this difference in the case of the public school teacher. He knew who his managers were this year, but not who they were to be three years hence. He felt some sympathy with such a teacher; and he thought his grievance was not sentimental only, but something real. It was objected that this Bill would degrade the school boards; but that seemed to him an entire mistake. There was no proposal to do anything which a school board, acting for the best, and seeking to do its work in a proper way, could object to. The drafting of the Bill had been admitted to be defective, and he had called the attention of his hon. Friend (Sir Herbert Maxwell) to a few words in the Definition Clause which ought to be deleted. The object of the Bill was to give some protection to the principal teachers in public schools. The principal teachers were in the place of the teachers under the old parochial school system, who bad something like a stable tenure of office. The definition in the Bill would extend the scope of the Bill to head teachers of departments; but these were subordinate to the principal teacher of the school; and, as the assistant teachers, under the old system, had not the same tenure of appointment as the principal teachers, they had not, nnder the new system, the same grievance. That definition he considered a mistake. The whole purpose of the Bill was to relieve the principal teachers of a feeling of insecurity; and if such a measure were passed it would have very little effect in bringing work to the Education Department. He believed the fact of there being an appeal would prevent the capricious conduct against which the teachers complained; and that, if there had been an appeal in the past, the 25 cases of alleged injustice on the part of the school boards would not have happened. The fears entertained were groundless. The effect of passing some such measure as that would not be to bring many cases before the Education Department, but simply to prevent anything like unfairness and capricious conduct on the part of a few of the smaller school boards. They had no reason to complain of the larger boards.


confessed to having a great deal of sympathy with the highly honourable body of schoolmasters; and he could conceive that, from their point of view, it was disagreeable to them to be at the mercy of a popularly-elected body, such as a school board. At the same time, he had more sympathy with the cause of local government; and it was in that view that he was inclined to oppose the Bill. It seemed to him that education would not suffer from power being placed in the hands of school boards; and that in the interests of the country generally it was desirable to retain the system of local government. He was very much opposed to the centralization of power; and in the best interests of the country it was desirable to localize government as much as possible. To pass a Bill of this kind would be a mistake. To remedy injustice by forcing back a schoolmaster on a school board, by the order of a centralized Department, would be a great evil. There would not be that harmonious working between the school board and schoolmasters which should exist, if there was the antagonism created by a schoolmaster being dismissed and then restored. An hon. Member had put the case of appeals to the Poor Law Board as one in which there was a power vested in a central authority. It seemed to him that a great deal of evil attached to the appeals which lie to the Poor Law Board in Edinburgh. There was no more unpopular Board, on account of the amount of antagonism that had grown up. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would not accept the Bill; but he thought Clause 3, which provided that a schoolmaster should not be dismissed by surprise, or on insufficient notice, was just and reasonable. It was a serious thing for a school board to dismiss their head teacher; and he thought, in the interest of the schoolmaster, in the interest of education, and of the country generally, that such a step should be taken only after due consideration and full notice. If the Bill went no further than Clause 3 he would support it.


said, he had heard with satisfaction the observations of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), because it seemed to him that the principle was contained in the 3rd clause. He believed his hon. Friend (Sir Herbert Maxwell) would be satisfied if he obtained that security for the schoolmaster which was provided for in the Bill. It certainly was repugnant to one's feelings that a schoolmaster might be dismissed by the majority of a small quorum of a school board. It did seem to him an imperfect condition of the law that when so important a matter as the dismissal of a schoolmaster was to take place no notice of the object for which the board was to assemble should be given to the schoolmaster, who might instruct some members of the board to defend him, and that no time should be given for local feeling to express itself. He could well understand there was no necessity for this in large towns; but the case was otherwise in rural districts. If the whole of the school board were assembled on such occasions, injustice would not happen; but to leave it to a quorum in a board of five members was attended with injustice. Although, if his hon. Friend went to a division, he should support the second reading of the Bill, in order to amend the Bill in Committee, yet if they received a distinct assurance from the Education Department that some protection of the kind he had indicated would be given, he should ask his hon. Friend not to put the House to the trouble of dividing.


regretted that the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) should have touched on a topic which had really nothing fairly to do with the merits of the present question. The right hon. Member said that those who should support the second reading of the Bill on that side of the House would give a very unpopular vote. He (Dr. Webster) trusted that no such motive as that suggested would induce any hon. Member to give a vote contrary to his own conviction. He must say, however, that, in point of fact, there was no reason whatever for any such statement being made. There were no parties more ready than the constituencies of Scotland to allow their Represen- tatives to give free and full expression to their opinions on Bills before Parliament; and little or no feeling adverse to the present Bill had been indicated, there being only six Petitions lodged against it. He considered that the necessity for the main object of the Bill had been proved. He was not in the position of the noble Lord the Member for Argyllshire (Lord Colin Campbell), who had given a pledge to the schoolmasters in his own constituency on this subject. On the contrary, his conversion on the subject had been of more recent date. He should have decidedly opposed the Bill of the hon. Baronet last year, which gave the right of appeal to the Sheriff; but it appeared to him that the present Bill dealt with cases of proved and admitted grievance and injustice. The only question now before the House was how far they were disposed to go in tolerating such grave oppression, and, indeed, sometimes tyranny. Such cases had been proved in the course of the debate. On the authority of the representative body of the Educational Institute of Scotland, there were no fewer than 25 cases of capricious and high-handed arbitrary dismissal, which could be proved. This statement had not been denied. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) talked of the grievous injustice which had been done to the teachers as a sentimental grievance; but the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education (Mr. Mundella) stated to a deputation that no one in the Department, and no one in the House, ought to have any sympathy with such cases of capricious or arbitrary dismissal, and that such cases were a scandal. He (Dr. Webster) found that many of these dismissals proceeded from motives of personal ill-will and personal spite, and in other cases, what was still more reprehensible, from sectarian jealousy and religious animosity on the part of members of school boards. One such case was quoted by the hon. Baronet who introduced the Bill. There was another case, at least as bad, where the schoolmaster was of one Presbyterian sect, and the members of the board were of another, and the teacher was dismissed, no reason being assigned except that he was a Dissenter. These things, he thought, deserved the name the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had given them; and he did not think that the House would refuse a remedy. Most of the hon. Members who had spoken latterly in the debate admitted that some legislation was absolutely necessary. He was not wedded to the present Bill. He was himself inclined to agree with some of the speakers, who suggested that a remedy might be found in enlarging the area of the school boards in small country parishes; and he believed there was no ground of complaint on the part of teachers in large towns, or even in populous country parishes. On the contrary, the composition of those boards in such places was such as to do honour to them as representative bodies. The cases of grievance proceeded from those small, fractious, ill-conditioned bodies existing only in the less populous and more out-of-the-way parts of Scotland. Another remedy that was pointed out was the abolition of the cumulative vote. There was a growing feeling that the cumulative vote in the election of school boards was a matter which, to say the least, required grave consideration, and that the sectarian composition of school boards was mainly owing to the operation of the vote. If the hon. Baronet thought fit to go to a division, he should certainly feel bound to support him.


said, he could not agree with the hon. Member who spoke last in denouncing the cumulative system of voting for the school board. In his opinion, the cumulative vote was the main cause of the satisfactory working of school boards, because it gave to each section of the community its proper share of representation. He (Mr. T. Collins) held that the Bill was a retrograde measure, the principle of which might not improbably be applied to England as well as to Scotland. The Bill, if it were passed, would be quoted as a precedent for a similar change in England, and the result would be that a schoolmaster would be removed from his proper position as a servant of the managers of the school, and would be looked upon as a member of the Civil Service. As a consequence, every little village quarrel would be referred to officials in Downing Street or Whitehall, whose action would supersede and override that of the local school boards. The masters ought, of course, to receive due notice of dismissal; but that matter was a detail which might well be left to the school managers, and did not need to be regulated by the orders of any central authority.


said, that some of the previous speakers, and notably the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley), had suggested that it would be a good thing if the area of school boards was extended; and the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen (Dr. Webster) had given some countenance to that suggestion. He did not think that would be a popular principle to apply to Highland districts. In many Highland parishes members of the school board had to travel seven or eight miles to attend the meetings, and in these cases he was sure they did not want an extension of the area. As far as the rural districts were concerned, he thought they were perfectly content with the existing area. Another suggestion was made as to the cumulative vote. He was bound to say that, as far as his experience went, the cumulative vote was not popular in Scotland, whatever it might be in England. Another opinion, which was more popular in the rural districts, was that the school boards should be elected once in every five years, which he thought was quite often enough. These elections often generated a great deal of bad feeling, and certainly they led to a good deal of expense. The cost of all the board elections in Scotland amounted to £13,000 or £14,000, which might be much better spent in education than in contentious election. He objected to the Bill of the hon. Member, because it was opposed to the principle of the Act of 1872. During the 21 years he had been in Parliament, he regarded that Act as by far the best measure ever passed for Scotland, and he did not wish it to be interfered with. At the Social Science Congress at Aberdeen in 1876, an interesting paper had been read by Lord Young, in which he maintained that the system of keeping the schoolmasters under the control of the school board was one of the vital principles of the Act of 1872. He (Mr. R. W. Duff) was bound to say that all his experience of the working of the Act justified that principle as a sound one. He was surprised that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen did not uphold that principle, because no one was better aware than he was of the character of the Free Church schools which existed in Scotland before the Act of 1872 was passed. Those schools were very good schools, with very efficient teachers, and yet those teachers were subject to dismissal without any appeal to a Government Department. Great stress had been laid upon one case which had occurred at Leswalt; but in that case, if the third member of the board had walked out of the room, there would not have been a quorum left, and the board would have been counted. He thought, on the whole, the cases of oppression that had been brought forward were remarkably weak. He was opposed to any infringement of the Act of 1872, because generally it had worked beneficially, particularly in the rural districts. The hon. Member referred to the case of certain Highland parishes where the rates were very high, and where no assistance was given by the Government. There were certain Highland parishes which received aid from the Government—that was to say, if their rates had attained a certain height they were relieved by the State; but there were other parishes where the rates were equally high, and no relief was given. In some parishes in Banffshire, for example, the rates were as high as 1s. 2d., 1s. 4d., and 1s. 6d. in the pound. These were very heavy rates; but they had been cheerfully paid and borne on the whole, though there certainly had been complaints now and again. But he thought that was an evidence of the desire of the people to have good education, and to maintain the standard of the schoolmasters. He believed in the county which he represented the percentage of passes was higher than in any other county in the Kingdom. He thought that the best proof that there had not been any falling-off in the standard of the schoolmasters. He should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) would see his way to do something in the way of carrying out the proposals contained in Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill, which would protect the teacher against dismissal at a hastily-summoned meeting; and if he did that, he thought the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) might withdraw the Bill.


said, the object of the promoters of this Bill was one which had long engaged his attention; but he had never been able to devise any method by which the teachers should have an appeal of any kind which would not impair the authority and influence of the school board. It was on that ground that he supported the rejection of the present Bill. The fact was that instead of doing anything to impair the influence of the boards, in whose hands they had placed the responsibility of securing the efficient education of the whole mass of the population, they should rather do anything in their power which would increase the influence and the authority of the boards. He could not recognize the propriety of what had been said with regard to the members of those boards by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing.) He thought it was a calumny on his own countrymen to make such a statement. In many instances he had found that the very first men in the Scotch parishes had been selected for the important posts of members of the school boards. He did not approve of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. T. Collins) that they should continue the action of the cumulative vote. He disapproved of that mode of voting, whether as applied to school board or to Parliamentary elections. It was repugnant alike to the principle this House had adopted in deciding questions by a bare majority, and to the feeling of the people of his country. The hon. Member for North Ayr (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) had suggested that there was a deterioration in the character of those coming forward as teachers. The hon. Member had forgotten the fact that there were now 100 young men pursuing their studies in the Universities for the purpose of entering the profession of teachers. He believed that was an unprecedented circumstance. Believing, as he did, that the real efficiency of any school was determined by the acquirements of the teacher, he thought they could not do anything which would derogate so much from the respect which was due to the school board, seeing they were intrusted with the selection of those teachers, and had the power of determining their tenure of office, than to adopt the proposals contained, in this measure. While opposed to the Bill, he would say that he was just as anxious as anyone to prevent the capricious dismissal of teachers. He thought it was disgraceful that even 25 cases should have occurred during nine or ten years; but he felt bound to state that, if equal attention had been paid to the number of capricious resignations by teachers, to the inconvenience of the school boards whom they served, it would have been found that there was at least an equal number who had been guilty of that offence against propriety. They must bear in mind that the schools were established, not for the purpose of having an efficient body of teachers, but were established and maintained for the sole purpose of providing for the efficient education of the people. That being the object, he did not see why they should determine to limit the discretion of those gentlemen, on whom rested the responsibility of securing that efficient education. The teachers were entitled to, and ought to receive, adequate notice, not only in point of time, but the whole members of the board ought to have an opportunity of considering any resolution of that nature. The Supreme Court in Scotland had determined that a reasonable notice was three months. He should have no objection, if there were to be legislation on the subject, to have that period lengthened, so that a teacher should be entitled not to remain in a school teaching that school from which he had been dismissed by the board; but that the board should be bound to pay him the value of three or six months' emoluments. He felt that six months was not a long period in the case of a man with a family. He could not help thinking that, had all the cases of dismissal referred to in the speeches that had been made been thoroughly investigated, some of them would have presented a different aspect from that which appeared on the surface.


I regret that duties from which I could not escape prevented me being present when the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) explained this Bill. That evil exists in the present system I think most persons will admit. There have been capricious dismissals of teachers, unjustified by any deficiencies in their teaching capacity. I hope and believe that public opinion now renders these cases of arbitrary dismissal more rare; but until public opinion can throw its criticism upon cases of injustice, teachers will not have that confidence in their appointments which it is desirable they should have to secure the efficient performance of their duty. I felt that in 1872, and then voted for an appeal to the Scotch Education Department. At that time the new system of education was to be created, and I felt that some such security was desirable in a new and unsettled scheme. The case is altered now, for nearly 1,000 school boards have been spread over the Kingdom, and are doing their work efficiently. While I would willingly support a Bill to enforce due solemnity into all considerations, both for the appointment and dismissal of a teacher, I would be very unwilling to lessen the responsibility of the Boards in the discharge of their duties. The noble Lord the Member for Argyllshire (Lord Colin Campbell) would render penal an arbitrary dismissal by actually dissolving a school board for the exercise of a power intrusted to it by law, if their reasons for dismissing a teacher were not considered adequate by the Education Department. The less interference that a central Department has with the executive of a school the better. It has general duties of inspection and payment by results; but if it interferes with school government it would undertake a duty which it could not satisfactorily perform. I have the honour to belong to the Scotch Education Department, to which, I presume, Scottish cases of appeal would go. We are a consultative Board, but not an executive Department; and every member of it is so thoroughly engaged in administrative duties that it would be impossible for us to undertake executive work. Such appeals as proposed by the Bill must fall to the consideration of the permanent officers of the Department, who naturally would be inclined to support the boards in their action, because in England they are not controlled in a like manner. A confirmation of an appeal for dismissal would be fatal to the future interests of the teacher, and would be registered against him in the Department, and on the face of his certificate. At present, dismissal may now arise from many causes, some of which may be merely local. For instance, a teacher may be excellent for elementary education, but may not be able to teach higher subjects, which the board might wish to introduce to the school. His change on this account would not damage him from getting another school. But who would take a dismissed teacher, with a ratifica- tion of a Government Department, and with a defaced certificate, that he was dismissed for inefficiency?


The Bill only provides for appeal in the case of capricious dismissal.


But the teacher is very apt to consider his dismissal capricious; and there are few teachers who do not consider their dismissal capricious, whatever may be the reasonableness of the cause. I, therefore, say that such a ratification of his dismissal would do him a great amount of harm. I do not agree with the hon. Member for North Ayr (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) that there is a paucity of aspirants for the office of teacher. I know, at least, that in my own Universities the classes of the Professors of Education are increasing steadily, and I have not heard that there is any scarcity in the training schools. With every desire to see an improvement in the position of the teachers, I do not think this will be effected by this Bill. This discussion will have an excellent result in bringing public opinion to bear on the subject. If the hon. Baronet does not get a second reading to his Bill, I think he may be encouraged to bring in another to secure a full consideration of the grounds for dismissing a teacher only after due notice, and by the action of the actual majority of the whole board. The dismissal should be done in the full light of day, and subject to public criticism; but beyond that, in the interests of teachers, I am not prepared to go. All the great schools are taught by teachers subject to dismissal, which is very rarely, indeed, arbitrary or unjust, because public opinion prevents it. The old system of giving a freehold to the parish schoolmaster was found to be a bad one, and the new system will quickly work itself into a proper state when the acts of school boards are open to public criticism, and are exercised in the full light of day, and with a sense of undiminished responsibility. But, to hasten that time, I will gladly support any Bill which would carry out the principles of the 3rd and 4th clauses of this Bill in order to secure this end; and I trust that the Vice President of the Council will support us in our desires to obtain, even in this Session, such securities for due notice and publicity.


said, that, as one who was not enthusiastic 10 years ago in support of the Education Act of 1872, and who had anticipated the possibility of some evils arising from the change that was then made, nothing would induce him to support a measure which would interfere with the authority of the school boards. The greater the responsibility that was laid upon school boards, the greater security they had for their efficiency. He believed, however, that this proposal would not have any serious effect in that respect. He thought the power of appeal would give a greater sense of security of a suitable kind to the schoolmasters. He would not desire any greater security than that afforded by an appeal to the Education Department. He admitted that an appeal to any local authority might tend to derogate from the influence and authority of the boards; but the appeal being made to the Education Department, whose impartiality could not be doubted, and which would be a Court of Appeal at a distance, many a man would hesitate before he appealed, and probably in very few cases would any appeal be made. He thought his hon. Friend (Sir Herbert Maxwell) might safely leave himself in the hands of the Vice President of the Council. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had listened carefully on many occasions to the reasons which had been given in support of the proposals embodied in the Bill; and though he did not support it, he thought he would recognize that some advantage would arise from one or two of the clauses, if he could in some way or other give effect to them. He thought, if that were done, very great advantage would accrue to the schoolmasters, and the object which his hon. Friend had in promoting the Bill would be attained.


I think the time has come when I may interpose in this debate with advantage, and without interfering with what would be said by private Members. I agree with most of the speakers that this has been both a useful and an interesting debate. The speech of the hon. Baronet in introducing his Bill was a very calm, temperate, and fair statement of the case; and I think I may say on the part of all the speakers that there has been very much sound argument, and there has been no bitterness or acrimony introduced into the discussion, with, if I may be allowed to say so, one exception. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing) said that when I received a deputation I showed a total absence of sympathy with the memorialists in their position, and that I treated them in a sort of sledge-hammer way in my answer to them. I think he is the first man in this House who has charged me with a want of sympathy with the grievances of the teachers; and on the occasion in question—I have the report before me—I expressed the strongest possible condemnation of the injustice which was alleged in certain cases, and my greatest possible sympathy with the teachers; but I pointed out to them, and I wish to point out now to the House, that I did not think this was the measure to remedy those grievances. I believe the grievances which exist would only be exaggerated and increased, and that the teachers themselves would be the sufferers if the Bill passed in its present form. Now, the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) opened his speech by apologizing for the drafting of the Bill. I assure him that when I complained to the deputation of the draft of the Bill it was no mere conventional complaint. I had submitted the Bill to the Scotch Education Department, and I have their Report before me, stating that it was the most extraordinary production they had ever seen; and I assure the hon. Baronet, if I were at this moment to accept the principle of the Bill, I should have to ask him to withdraw it, in order that it might be entirely re-drafted, because there are two important clauses which require re-drafting entirely, while the Preamble does not set forth all the general principles embodied in the Bill. The hon. Member declared himself decidedly against fixity of tenure. I am glad to hear that opinion expressed on all sides. There is no one who desires to re-enact the old system, under which the teacher held his office ad vitam aut culpam, which existed before the Act of 1872. I consider the 55th clause—and I know Lord Young so considered it—the very principle of the measure, that the local authorities in Scotland should themselves have the management of their own affairs, and that they should have the necessary powers and responsibility. That clause runs thus— After the passing of this Act the right and duty of appointing teachers in board schools shall be in the respective school boards, and with the managers of the schools, who shall assign to them such salaries and emoluments as they think fit, and their appointments shall be during the pleasure of the school boards. Now, Sir, I am glad, for the honour of Scotland, that, notwithstanding there are 984 school board schools in Scotland, and some 5,544 certificated teachers in that country, the whole number of cases of alleged grievance during the 10 years only amount to 25. That is just the number that has been stated; and I think nobody bore stronger testimony to the impartiality and efficiency of these school boards in the discharge of their duty than the hon. Gentleman who introduced this measure. He says, in one or two instances, errors have been committed, and in other instances personal motives have been introduced. When the teachers came to me I said I had great faith in the justice of their countrymen, and that I believed that if the matter were left in their own hands it would, after all, be the best remedy for the grievance of which they complained. Now, am I justified in making that statement? Take the two worst cases dwelt upon to-day—the Leswalt and the Scone cases. In the Leswalt case the teacher was no sooner discharged than he obtained a new situation at £50 a-year advance of salary; and so important was the act of the school board considered, and so unjust, that the deputation stated to me on Saturday last that two noblemen went from London on purpose to vote against the Leswalt school board, and the offending members of it were turned out at the very last election. A few weeks ago the same thing happened in the Scone case. That shows that publicity and public opinion are sufficient in Scotland to pronounce against this system of persecution; and that, after all, is the most efficient remedy. Now, I cannot speak in too strong terms against the persecuting of any teacher for what has been described as microscopic differences in theological opinion. It seems almost incredible that at this time of day in Scotland, or anywhere else, such considerations should influence the acts of a school board; and I cannot believe the cases are numerous. But am I, because of those few cases, to hamper all the school boards of Scotland. I believe they are mainly composed of good, self-denying Christian men, doing real good service to their countrymen and making great sacrifices in order to promote the education of the young. I think it is rather too hard to say that they are simply the best customers of the publicans. I doubt whether that is the case in any school board; and I hope it is not either in England or Scotland. [Mr. ORR EWING: It was only one case.] I am glad it is only one case, though I thought the hon. Member made it more general. He spoke, however, of hundreds of cases of oppression, and tried to make an analogy out of the epidemic effect of "Boycotting." I think that was rather an exaggerated view to take of it; and I do not think that anything that has happened in Scotland would justify such a wholesale denunciation of the school boards of the country. Now, let me state to the House why I think we cannot accept the principle of this Bill. I say at once to the hon. Baronet that I quite agree it is a serious thing to dismiss a teacher, and it ought not to be done without due consideration. It ought not to be done, indeed, without full publicity and with good reason. I agree with him that there ought to be ample notice before the teacher is dismissed, so that every member of the school board should know what he was about to consider; so that the teacher might not be dismissed by a chance decision, or by any caprice on the part of one or two individuals in the board. And in that view I should be ready to consider whether we could not embody the principle of the 3rd clause in a measure for next Session, at all events, securing for the teacher that he shall not be suddenly or capriciously dismissed without due consideration and due notice on the part of the school board. But I cannot accept the principle of the Bill, and I will state distinctly why. The Bill would, in my opinion, rather increase the discord between teachers and the school board than diminish it. The effect would be this. Suppose, for instance, a teacher is dismissed, not for any fault of conduct, but simply for incapacity, or that he does not satisfy the expectations of those who employ him, or that a better teacher could be had for the money; and suppose we should introduce into the Code the recommendation of the hon. Members for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay) and for the University of Glasgow (Mr. J. A. Campbell)—a re- commendation to the Commission, that in every parish there shall be one higher teacher. Why, there are cases every day where, from mere incompatibilities of temper or from some defect in management, teachers have to be removed. Well, if a teacher is removed, and appeals to the Education Department, and the Department proceed to inquire into the whole case—I do not know what sort of machinery the hon. Member proposes for this. A Commission would be most expensive and cumbrous. And, suppose, as the result of the investigation, the teacher was found to be rightfully dismissed, you are putting an additional stain upon that teacher. He could not go and get employment immediately afterwards. It would be registered against him in the Education Department. He has recently, say, given way to habits of drinking. We have heard of such a case; and if the allegation is proved to our satisfaction, it must come upon his certificate, and every person who wants to employ that person afterwards would have a right to inquire at the Education Department why is that man dismissed? The effect would be to deprive that man of any hope in the future. Suppose we decided against the school board? The noble Lord (Lord Colin Campbell) rather astonished me with the suggestion that in that case we should dismiss the school board. But suppose we were to dismiss the school board, and the parishioners did not agree with our action, they would re-elect the school board again.


I said dissolve the school board, in the event of the decision of dismissal not being supported by three-fourths.


Well, suppose we dissolved the school board, does the noble Lord mean that there is to be no school board in that parish?


Let there be another re-elected.


Another re-elected. Well; but if the parishioners were in agreement with the school board, and not with the master, they would simply re-elect the old school board, and the old school board would set the Education Department at defiance. They would say—"We are here representing the ratepayers, and what shall we do? You have told us we cannot dismiss this man; but what we can do is this—we can assign to him such salary and emoluments as we think fit." And the first thing they would do would be to reduce his salary, and make his life a burden to him. And what would be the educational consequences? After all, this is not so much a question of school boards as of what will be the effect of this upon education. Now, the hon. Baronet said he has made provision in the 6th clause for suspension. He says, in the event of inquiry by the Department, such resolution shall not take effect till the decision of the Department be given, provided it shall be lawful simply to suspend him. Suppose during the holidays the teacher is suspended, and he cannot be employed. We send a Commissioner from London to inquire into the alleged offence, and we hear both sides of the question; but until we have brought that evidence to London we cannot arrive at a decision. For three months that school board may be deprived of its teacher, and who is to provide for the teaching during that time. The matter seems to me, on the whole, to have been exceedingly well and temperately argued, and I think the general sense of the House is that the principle for appeal cannot be allowed. I cannot, first, on account of the drafting of the Bill, and next, because of the principle of the Bill, which, after all, is the appeal, assent to the second reading. But I make this appeal to the hon. Baronet. I agree with him that there ought not to be any accident, or chance, or suddenness, or irregularity in the dismissal of a teacher. I think it is an act which should be performed after due notice and due formality, and, if I may say so, with due solemnity; and in order to effect that, I am willing to consider whether we could not at the present time, or next Session, frame a short Act which would accomplish that object. And I would recommend the hon. Baronet not to put the House to the trouble of a division, because a division would negative the whole and every clause of the Bill; whereas, if he withdraws it, accepting the assurance which I have given him, I will endeavour to investigate the whole case very carefully before next Session, and introduce some measure which shall produce the result which I have promised.


expressed his satisfaction with the discus- sion, which, he thought, had been of an instructive character. He was glad to have drawn from both the Vice President of the Council and the Chairman of Committees their acknowledgment that he had so far made good his case that there did exist a grievance, and that they saw their way, to some extent, to redress it. The promise which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had given to him was not very precise. He did not know that the right hon. Gentleman had security of tenure himself for next Session, so that he could hardly pledge himself against that time. But he was willing to risk that; and in consideration of the right hon. Gentleman's undertaking, he would act upon the principle of "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and withdraw the Bill, in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce a measure embodying his promise; and he was sure that his promise would be accepted, as far as it went, by the teaching body in Scotland as satisfactory. He begged to ask leave to withdraw the Motion for the second reading.


said, that if the Scotch Members were agreed upon the 3rd clause of the Bill—he could not hold out any promise with regard to the 4th, except that he would consider it—he did not know why the hon. Baronet should run the risk to which he alluded. The Lord Advocate would draft the Bill; and he did not see why they should not pass it through the House this Session, if it was at all possible.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.