§ (1.) £315,413, to complete the sum for Public Education, Scotland.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I have been requested by several Scotch Members to make a short statement with respect to the Scotch Educational Estimates, to supplement the remarks I made in introducing the English Estimates. Therefore, in moving the Vote, I propose to give a very brief outline in explanation of the Estimates the Committee are asked to vote to-night. The sum now asked for for 1884–5 amounts to £475,413, being a net increase of £9,690, as compared with the sum granted for 1883–4. The Estimate for annual grants for day-school scholars shows an increase of £8,734. This is explained by the addition of 12,658 children to the average number of children in attendance in the schools to which grants are to be made during 1884–5; but the increase in the grant scarcely shows the true difference between the grants of this year and last year, inasmuch as we estimated the rate of the grant last year at 17s. 11d., which was higher than the result; and, consequently, the estimate for 1884–5 is 17s. 10d., or 1d. less than the estimate for 1883–4. I may explain that, when we took the grant last year, we had only seven months of the financial year before us, and we made as near a calculation as we could; and, as the result, it has turned out that, though we overestimated the amount of earnings, the number of scholars was greater than our anticipation, and the total grants came out almost precisely what we estimated. There is an increase of £1,410 1426 in the grants to school boards under Section 67 of the Education Act, 1872. That, as hon. Members know, is the 3d. rate, which gives something less than 7s. 6d. per child. There is a decrease of £1,000 in the grants for building schools; and it is thought the £1,000 now provided for will almost entirely close up the amount of building school grants. The expenditure in 1883–4 was as follows: — The sum granted was £465,723, and the expenditure was £465,092, leaving a surplus of £631. The only variations of any moment between the Estimates and the expenditure for Scotland were in the annual grants. The grants to scholars show a decrease of £1,651; the grants to school boards, under Section 67 of the Education Act, a deficiency of £1,505; and the grants for school buildings a saving of £2,653. The deficiency in the annual grants to day and evening scholars was caused by an under-estimate of the average number of scholars in attendance at schools to which grants were paid. The Estimate was £393,778, and the expenditure was £395,329. We estimated an average attendance of 433,695 scholars, at 17s. 11d. per head; whereas the results were 438,952, at 17s. 9¾d. per head. There are a few interesting figures which, I think, Scotch Members will be glad to hear, with respect to the progress of the past year. The schools inspected were 17 more than in the previous year, and the accommodation increased, by 15,000 places. The scholars on the register rose from 556,000 to 569,000, showing an increase of 13,000, or 2.14 per cent. The scholars in average attendance rose from 421,000 to 433,000, an increase of 12,000, or 2.9 per cent. The scholars individually examined rose from 320,700 to 330,700, an increase of 10,000, or 3.1 per cent. The percentage of average attendance rose from 75.8 to 76.1, and the percentage of passes in the Standards of examination rose from 88.9 to 89.6, which was a very satisfactory increase indeed. But a few more satisfactory figures follow. The scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards rose last year from 117,700 to 121,900, an increase of 4,200, or 3.6 per cent. The proportion of scholars individually examined in Standard IV. and upwards rose from 36.69 to 36.86, or, as near as possible, 37 per cent of all the scholars examined. The percentage of passes 1427 now stands at the high rate of 89.6, very nearly 90 per cent, as compared with England and Wales, where the rate is 82.9. The expense of the maintenance of schools per scholar to the end of September was — for public schools in Scotland, £2 2s. 1¾d., an increase of 3s. 4d. per scholar. In voluntary schools the increase rose from £1 16s. 2¼d. in 1882, to £1 16s. 10¼d. in 1883, or an increase of 8d. per scholar. Voluntary schools are steadily diminishing in number in Scotland, and they are becoming very few under the operation of the school boards. The grants per scholar were 17s. 10¼d. in the public schools, and 17s. 1½d. in the voluntary schools. There are two or three figures that are very suggestive, which I think I ought to bring before the Committee. One is, that the percentage of the population in schools in Scotland is something lower than it is in England. In England, there are 15.87 per cent of the population on the register; in Scotland, 14.92, or very nearly 1 per cent less. This is accounted for as follows:—I have been examining the children's attendance in the two countries, and I find that in England and Wales over 39 per cent—you may say, roughly, 40 per cent—of the children on the registers are 7 years of age and under; whereas, in Scotland, only 23 per cent of the children on the registers are below 7 years of age. I think that this difference is, to a considerable extent, owing to the habits of the people in the two countries, to the difference in climate, and very much to the nature of the country, as, consequent upon the scattered districts, children have in many instances to go long distances and over very difficult ground to school, thereby entailing great difficulty as to the regular attendance of infants. Beyond that, I must also point out the fact that infant school teaching has not quite reached the same perfection in Scotland as in England. I have had two Scotch senior Inspectors in England, and I thought it would be a very good thing that they should see all we are doing in England, in order that they might familiarize themselves with the English schools, and compare the results of the two systems. There are, no doubt, some infant schools in Scotland, in the large cities, that are exceedingly well managed and quite equal to the 1428 English schools; yet, taking them as a whole, the generality of the English infant schools are much better and higher in their teaching, and much better adapted to their work, than those in Scotland. Indeed, one of these Inspectors said to me that the infant schools in England were quite a revelation to him. We propose that the senior Inspectors of Scotland shall make a prolonged visit of examination to the higher elementary schools in this country, and see what we are doing in the way of technical teaching and manual teaching in some of the best English schools, and of ascertaining if anything can be learnt. I think both countries may learn a good deal from each other. I have said that the children in the English schools are very much younger than they are in the Scotch schools. In the English schools, there are 40 per cent under 7 years of age; whereas, in Scotch schools, the number is only 23 per cent. The proportion of children over 14 years of age of the school population on the registers is only 8 per cent in England and Wales; whereas it is 16 per cent in Scotland. That is a proof of the greater appreciation and more readiness on the part of Scottish parents to make sacrifice to keep their children at school. The total number on the register in Scotland is 569,241, against 4,273,304 in England and Wales. I stated, in introducing the English Estimates, that the total number in the schools in the United Kingdom, including the industrial, reformatory, and the pauper schools, amounts just now to about 5,090,000. There is one other point which will interest the Scotch Members. That is the marvellous progress in the quality of the work that has been done under the Education Act of 1872. There have been at times doubts expressed as to whether Scotland was making progress under the Act of 1872—whether, really, education was as solid and as good as under the old parochial system. I stated, on a former occasion—and I quoted from an address of Principal Caird, of St. Andrew's; but since that time I have had the advantage of hearing from the lips of Sir Alexander Grant and Principal Caird, and from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh—that increasing numbers of the pupils came from the public schools of Scotland to the Universities every year, 1429 and that every year they came better and better furnished. But this is the best test I think that can be given—that in 1875, when the number in attendance at the schools were something like half of what they are to-day, the percentage of scholars above 10 years presented in the upper Standards IV. to VI. was only 34.83. From that date, although the number of the scholars had been largely increasing, the percentage of scholars in the upper Standards of 10 years of age has been increasing in a larger ratio. It went up, in two years, from 34 to 43 per cent; in 1879, it reached 57 per cent; in 1881, it was 67 per cent; and in 1883 it stands at 72.25 per cent. That is a most satisfactory indication of progress. We have in England and Wales 29 per cent of the scholars in Standard IV. and upwards. In Scotland, the percentage may be roughly stated to be 37, being actually 36.9. There are still some indications in our Returns of defects, both in the average attendance and with regard to scholars, that have escaped much earlier even than the statute permits. I will give one illustration. Out of 56,000 children presented in Standard IV. in 1882, as many as 12,000 disappeared from our schools in 1883. There is some evasion, therefore, of the labour test, and the children undoubtedly went away from the want of the Act which was passed last year; and we believe we remedy this very largely by drawing the line at Standard V. At present, undoubtedly, children do leave school at too low a Standard. From all I hear of the working of the Act which was passed last year, it is very satisfactory; and I believe that a better average attendance and higher attainments are likely to be the result. There are one or two other points to which I should like to advert for a moment. One is the increasing number of male students at the Training Colleges who are attending the University classes. It does not appear that there were nearly so many on the Return of last year; but I know that is so to-day from Dr. Wilson, our senior Inspector, who has been recently examined. All the masters are enjoying advantages from the University classes. I am glad, also, to be able to report that the Scotch Endowed Schools Commission is doing its work very vigorously, and that they are rapidly 1430 sending us up their schemes. Many of these schemes will, I believe, be of great advantage to the country, both in respect of secondary and technical education, but especially technical education. The schemes which have come up from Glasgow—the Hutcheson and other schemes—seem admirably adapted for the promotion of these ends. I can only say that, on the whole, everything connected with Scotch education is very satisfactory. I think there has been a great improvement in the past year over the previous year; and if my anticipations are realized, that the Act of last year will produce a better average attendance in the present year, I think that next year we shall have a still better tale to tell. I can only say that I was in Edinburgh and Glasgow at the beginning of this year, and I never came away from any two cities more gratified or encouraged than I did by the excellent work that is being done by the school boards there, and the wonderful manner in which some of the members of both boards are devoting themselves to the work, almost giving their whole lives to it. These boards have to deal with a population of nearly 1,000,000, and I believe the work is admirably done. There is no doubt they have great difficulties in Glasgow with a large immigrant population, and with the poverty, misery, and squalor with which they have to deal; but by means of industrial schools and day-feeding schools they are doing a great deal to overcome the difficulty. There is another point to which I wish to advert, and that is the Act passed last year. There is no doubt there has been some neglect in some places in Scotland, more especially in Dundee; but under the stimulus of that Act I hope I shall be able to report before long that the school boards have effectually and efficiently done their duty, and have overtaken the deficiency of the school supply. I have nothing to say but words of congratulation for what has been done in Scotland; and I trust that in the course of the coming year, considering we have the obligation upon us to inspect the endowment schools, we shall be able to frame a scheme by which we shall not only be able to inspect endowment schools, but also the high schools of Scotland, which, I think, will be a great advantage. I beg to move the Vote.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL
said, he was sure the statement of the right hon. Gentleman must be very gratifying to the whole of the Scottish Members, and to all others who were interested in the cause of education. The figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, especially as to the increase in the average attendance to 76.1 per cent, in the presentations in the higher Standards to 37 per cent, in the number of children over 14 years of age to 16 per cent, and also that the passes were nearly 90 per cent—all showed a marked improvement on former reports, and were, therefore, most gratifying. The right hon. Gentleman had reminded the Committee of one point in which the people of Scotland were decidedly behind England; and he hoped that his remarks as to their comparative deficiency in regard to infant school teaching would not be lost sight of in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed the gratification he had derived from his visit to Scotland last year; and he (Mr. Campbell) thought he might say that the visit of the right hon. Gentleman had been gratifying to Scotland as well as to himself, and had been of great benefit to that country. The managers and teachers of schools, not in Edinburgh and Glasgow only, but all over the country, had been greatly stimulated and encouraged by the right hon. Gentleman's visit and the addresses he had delivered. The visit was not a long one, but, with the energy and enthusiasm the right hon. Gentleman had thrown into it, it was made a very busy one. Although he only visited two cities, the effect of his visit might be said to have been felt throughout the whole of the country. The teachers and managers now knew that the Education Department was not a thing of Code and inspection only; but that it was a Department which was in real sympathy with them in their work. There had been a good deal less said in Scotland than in England on the subject of over-pressure. From the inquiries he (Mr. Campbell) had made, he felt sure that in Scotland, at least, if there was over-pressure at all, it was felt almost exclusively in the lower Standards, among the youngest of the children; and this might be a proof that they were not so far wrong in not sending children too early to school in Scotland. He did not believe there would be over-pressure if they had good in- 1432 fant schools to send the children to; but in the ordinary schools there was no doubt a liability to overstrain in the case of nervous young children, when they had to be prepared for the presence of Inspectors and examiners. The cure for over-pressure was to be found in what was most necessary for promoting the efficiency of schools for all classes of children, and this was acknowledged and admitted to be—in addition to the exercise of kindness and common sense on the part of teachers, and care on the part of managers—attention to four particulars—first, having an efficient and sufficient staff in the schools; secondly, having regular attendance; thirdly, an equal pressure in the school all the year round, leaving no leeway to be made up when the time for inspection approached; and, lastly, attention to the health of the children. With regard to the health of the children, they had some conversation last year on the subject of school dinners. There was another point which was also worth noticing—namely, attention to physical exercises. He only wished that all the teachers in Scotland had an opportunity of seeing what all might see in the Health Exhibition twice a week—the physical exercises conducted by Miss Bergmann, which gave an illustration of what might be done in most of our schools. On the subject of regular attendance, he would ask the permission of the Committee to state the results of an experiment which had been most successfully tried for some time by the School Board of Glasgow—an experiment which might be followed by school managers everywhere. It was, in addition to having the compulsory clauses of the Education Act put in operation through school board officers, to offer, as an inducement to children, small prizes to those who never missed a single attendance. The Session lasted for nine months, and every child who had not been absent at a single attendance during those nine months received a prize. It might seem to be a simple thing, but it had had a very good effect. Prizes were also given to those who made their passes regularly. The advantage of the system was that the prizes were given, not for anything which the children were not otherwise expected to do—not for any extra work, but simply for regular attendance at school, and for passing the Standard 1433 examinations, which was expected of every scholar. Another advantage was that the prizes were given on a principle which did not throw any responsibility upon the teachers. Accordingly, there was no room for favouritism. The result of the system had been more satisfactory than the Committee would probably be prepared to expect. Last year, with a roll of from 40,000 to 50,000 children, no fewer than 4,880 scholars were never once absent, and accordingly received prizes.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL
Yes. It might be thought that this must be somewhat expensive; but the prizes were of small intrinsic value, ranging from a few pence—from 8d. to 3s. 6d. He would give the particulars of one school, where there were 174 prizes awarded; these cost, on an average, 1s. 6d. each, the cost for the whole school being £12 12s. In return for that expenditure of £12 12s. the school had a much more regular attendance than it would otherwise have had, and it had better work done, and, therefore, earned more money in grants—much more than the £12 12s. expended in the prizes. The average attendance at the schools under the Glasgow Board showed the good effect of the measures adopted. He had the Returns for the month of May. This was an unfavourable month for attendance, because in Scotland it was the month for changing residences, and as this caused a good deal of interference with ordinary domestic arrangements, it was consequently a bad month for school attendance. But in the month of May last the average attendance was 78 per cent, which was above the general average in Scotland. In April it had been 83 per cent. On another subject he would again say that one of the very few remaining grievances that Scottish educationists had was, that the Department had not yet seen its way to put into operation the provision for the examination of higher class schools contained in the Education Act of 1878 in Clauses 19 and 20. It was a very small matter as regarded money. He believed it would not cost the Treasury more than from £300 to 1434 £400. It was an examination, at the public expense, of only 11 public schools; and it seemed a pity that, for so small a sum as that, the great advantage of a uniform public examination should be missed, and the intentions of the Legislature, when the Act of 1878 was passed, should not be carried out. No doubt, these schools were now inspected and examined at the cost of the school boards; but the great advantage of acting upon the provisions of the Act of 1878 would be that, along with these public schools, other higher class schools in Scotland would apply for the same examination, although at their own expense; and thus the whole of the secondary schools of Scotland might be brought under the same system of examination, which would give the country greater confidence in the teaching of these schools. The object was not to have different examiners from the present, where examiners were employed, but to have them sent down by the Department. There was another subject which had not been mentioned of late years, but which certainly demanded consideration, especially in view of the fact that there would be a school board election next spring. It was too late, he was afraid, to have any improvement made in the regulations affecting school board elections, for this occasion; but the sooner the matter was spoken of the better, as there were some things which certainly called for reform. The cumulative vote had often been objected to. He thought the principle of the cumulative vote was a defensible one—["Hear, hear!"]—and it would be impossible to depart altogether from that principle; but he thought it was generally admitted that they had the cumulative vote in too extreme a form—in a form that subjected school boards to considerable inconvenience, and it would be a great improvement to modify the system in some way. There was another point—the school boards in Scotland were required to draw up a separate register of persons qualified to vote, which, in the case of school boards extending over a populous area, entailed very considerable expense. For instance, in the case of Glasgow, which had the most populous area of any school board in the country, there was, at first, considerable doubt 1435 as to how to go about the work of making up the school board register, and at the first two elections the expense was very great. He believed the register for the first election cost £720. Some changes were then effected; and at the second election, in 1879, the register only cost £516. As the work became more familiar some additional improvements were effected, and at the last election, in 1882, it cost less; but still it cost £390. That was a great tax for a work which, when they came to think of it, could scarcely be said to be needful. In Glasgow, at the present moment, the difference between the school board roll and the municipal roll was simply this. The school board roll consisted of all persons who were assessed to pay poor rates, and the municipal roll consisted of all persons who had paid their rates. It was difficult to see why they should not accept the municipal roll for school board purposes, which, in a burgh like Glasgow, would save nearly £400. The simple substitution of the ordinary municipal roll would, in the case of parishes which were burghs, do away with the present vexatious and expensive anomaly. He hoped the matter would receive attention from the authorities, and that before long there would be some remedy found.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had very little to say, beyond expressing his congratulation to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) on the statement which he had been able to make; and adding, also, that the benefit he had done to Scottish education by his visit last autumn was very great indeed. Nor was it in Edinburgh and Glasgow alone that it had done a great amount of good. The good had spread all over the country. If, next year, the right hon. Gentleman would go to Dundee and Aberdeen, and visit some other parts of Scotland, he might, probably, produce as great an effect as he had done in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He (Mr. Anderson) was very much gratified with many of the figures the right hon. Gentleman had given; but regarding what he had said about infant schools he must confess that he was rather sceptical. He did not believe in infant prodigies, and he agreed with what the hon. Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. 1436 Campbell) had said in regard to overpressure. He did not believe there was over-pressure in Scotland; but, still, while on that subject, he would say that he looked upon infant schools as dangerous. They might be better organized in England than in Scotland; but he was afraid that complaints of overpressure really originated greatly in England through the infant school system, or that it had a tendency to do so. He entirely agreed with what the hon. Member for Glasgow University said about the Government inspection of higher class schools; but he hoped they would not stop there, but would extend the inspection to the schools for girls. The higher schools for girls were not inspected; and he was informed that the teaching in such institutions was of the most wretched description. In these seminaries there was too much aiming at attainments which were of no practical value as compared with those of a more solid nature. Young ladies received too little of a really good and substantial education. He did not think they would get any uniform system until they had Government inspection. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of technical education. The Commission upon Technical Education had lately reported, and hon. Members who had read the Report must have been highly satisfied with the labours of Sir Bernhard Samuelson and the other Members of the Commission, who undertook the inquiry entirely at their own expense, going over this and foreign countries, diligently making their own examination, and paying their own travelling expenses. He had never heard any opinion expressed on the subject, except that it was extremely shabby on the part of the Government to allow them to conduct the inquiry at their own expense. Nevertheless, they had done the work, and all the more credit to them for having done it. Those hon. Members who had read the Report of the Commissioners upon that question must have been highly satisfied with the result of their great labours, and very glad indeed to hear that the Government had appreciated those labours; but what he was anxious to say was that one or two of the recommendations contained in that Report were capable of being applied to elementary schools—for instance, to the extension of drawing in 1437 the elementary schools, and the establishment of school workshops in such schools. These were two points that were greatly dwelt upon in the Report of the Commission upon Technical Education; and he thought it was within the competency of the Department of the right hon. Gentleman to stimulate and encourage efforts in this direction. In Glasgow they had made one or two attempts in that direction, such as in the Glen School. The work there was of the most satisfactory and wonderful character, and had been attended by the most excellent results. It was not a board school; but, speaking from experience, he did not see why workshops should not be introduced into a great many of the board schools, if not into all of them, in the country. The result would be to give the children a taste for manly skill. The great deficiency in the educational system now was that it tended to make all the boys desire to be clerks. All they thought of was to walk about the streets in fine clothes, and have a pen behind their ear. They must be clerks, and they desired situations of that kind as best things for them. They had an utter contempt for manual labour. What he wanted to see was the time when they could go back to the old plan, when manual labour, and skill and dexterity in manual labour, were considered a thing to be desired; and he felt satisfied that when once this feeling was properly engendered in boys at the elementary schools, a wholly different sentiment would be found growing up among our youths; for once a boy learned dexterity in work, he felt no degradation in working at a craft. He knew many gentlemen who delighted in dexterity in manual exercises, such as turning, but they were exceptions; and he should like to see the taste encouraged and become more general. He would not detain the Committee longer, as there were many hon. Members who desired to speak upon the Vote. He would simply thank the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council for the visit he had paid to Scotland, and for his appreciation of the work they were doing there.
§ MR. COCHRAN-PATRICK
said, he joined with the hon. Member who had preceded him (Mr. Anderson) in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the very satisfactory report he 1438 had been able to make to the Committee. He thought it was highly satisfactory in a double sense. It was satisfactory because it showed that very special progress had been made in the work of education, and it was satisfactory also because it had correctly indicated one or two defects which it was of the highest importance to those interested in Scotch education to amend. He was glad to think that, in one respect, they might be congratulated upon having come to a certain pause in regard to their labours—he meant in regard to the building of schools. He gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's remarks that, so far as the schools for elementary education were concerned, they were now nearly sufficient for the wants of the population of Scotland. He thought that was a very satisfactory result; and he would ask the attention of the Committee to a short account of the progress which had been made in that particular. He found that in 10 years the accommodation in elementary schools in Scotland had been increased by nearly 120 per cent, the number of scholars upon the register by more than 108 per cent, and the average attendance by more than 97 per cent. He thought those facts were of very great importance in showing that the increased results were due to obtaining proper and adequate accommodation. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to one figure which, at first sight, might afford them some dissatisfaction—namely, that the percentage of children attending board schools in Scotland was less than in England. He quite agreed with the reasons the right hon. Gentleman had given; but there was also another reason which he thought might help to account for the difference. He believed it would be found that a desire existed among the people of Scotland to send their children to schools that were other than elementary schools. That desire was much more strong in Scotland than in England, and he knew that in his own neighbourhood, it was the case. People sent their children to higher-class schools, often at very great inconvenience and expense, because they believed the education imparted was better. If the right hon. Gentleman had the means of ascertaining the number, he believed it would be found that it would more than account for the dif- 1439 ference which had been explained to the Committee. Then with regard to the irregular attendance. No doubt, that was a great evil, and a defect which ought to be remedied. He was afraid it proceeded, in the first place, from illegal employment; and he was glad to hear that that had, to a certain extent, been provided for by the Act of last year. It also arose, in many cases, from the difficulty of getting the children to school, owing to the distance which existed between the homes of the children and the nearest schools, and the difficulty experienced in getting the legal compulsory steps put in operation. He did not know if it were possible to put into operation any efficient method by which that object could be obtained. He believed there was a statement in the last Report, which showed the extraordinary difficulty that was experienced in many Highland districts in getting the compulsory clauses of the Act put into operation. He wished to point out to the Committee, with regard to irregular attendance, that there must always be, even among the best scholars, a certain amount of irregular attendance in the case of children who were detained at home on account of ailments. If they took into account the large number of children who were upon the school books, it was evident that the average attendance must always be affected by the number who were laid up with children's ordinary ailments. It would be found that a large amount of the irregular attendance every year was accounted for by the fact that many were absent, not from any desire to shirk the school attendance, but simply from unavoidable causes. In regard to overpressure, he did not propose to deal with that subject at length; but it was obvious to anyone who had listened to the speeches which had been made on that occasion that the question of overpressure in England was complicated by considerations such as the difficulties between the board schools and voluntary schools which did not exist in Scotland to the same extent. They were enabled, therefore, to discuss the question of over-pressure upon its intrinsic merits. He was not one of those who at all believed in the existence, to any extent, of an evil of that kind; but he did not think that upon that account it would be wise to overlook it altogether, 1440 because it was an evil of a kind which did not depend upon the production of facts, but rather on the nature of the difficulty itself; and it would be the greatest possible misfortune to Scotland, which had achieved its high educational position by the interest which the whole mass of the people had taken in education, if any cause, however trifling or absurd, were allowed to impair that position. Therefore, he said at once that while his own experience, extending over a considerable number of years, in dealing with education, satisfied him that the cases were not very numerous, still the matter was one which ought not altogether to be overlooked. He agreed with what his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Campbell) had said; and he thought, if the question were carefully attended to by the various boards, a very good effect would be produced. He also agreed with the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) that they escaped over-pressure to a great extent in Scotland, by the fact that they did not send the children to school at quite so early an age. He did not mean to say that they were not educated at that early age; but they were not sent away from home to be herded together in school. It was very difficult to lay down how any remedy should be brought into operation. It could not be brought into operation by Parliament, except indirectly, by means of the Education Department. The school boards were powerless to deal with the question. Everybody who knew the working of the school board system in Scotland knew that it was to a great extent administrative, and it was impossible to take up time in dealing with particular cases. The people most interested in the question were the parents themselves. It was they who first detected the symptoms of over-pressure; and whatever it arose from, whether from the state of the child's physical health, or from the more dangerous form of mental pressure, it ought to be dealt with at once. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that when he visited Edinburgh he found that there was a lady who took an active part in the work of the school board. The advantage of having a lady member upon a board of that kind was very great indeed. It was not a ways possible to get the assistance of ladies; but when they did become members of the board, com- 1441 plaints of this kind were at once dealt with and easily remedied. It appeared to him that it would be wise, if possible, to have along with the school boards a committee of ladies belonging to each district, with some sort of official recognition, to superintend such like matters, in which case he was of opinion that many of the difficulties now heard of would be satisfactorily dealt with. There was, however, another point—namely, that the over-pressure was likely to be very much greater in regard to the teaching staff than in the case of the children. All the really serious cases of over-pressure he had been made acquainted with had existed in the teaching staff, and more especially among the pupil teachers. He thought it was of very great importance to know how a difficulty of that kind was to be met. It might not be possible to remedy it altogether; but he thought that a general recommendation from the Department, if brought under the notice of every school board, would have a beneficial effect. He was quite sure that the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had made on that occasion would be a source of great gratification to a large number of people in Scotland who were interested in the cause of education.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he felt bound to express his hearty concurrence in what had been said by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) with regard to the inspection of the higher schools in Scotland, by persons appointed by the Education Department, or by the Universities, as the case might be. But there was one point which, of all others, was likely to be overlooked—namely, the necessity of taking care that the persons who received certificates as teachers were really qualified to give instruction in the higher branches of education. He was pleased to learn from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that 50 per cent of those who were attending the normal schools at the present time, and becoming qualified to act as teachers, were receiving the advantages of University training. He was not satisfied, however, that the University education at present given to them was complete or adequate. The fact was, that the Department had altogether ignored the Report of the Endowed Institutions Commission of 1880. It was four years now since that Report was 1442 presented, and he believed it had never seriously received consideration. In respect of the rural districts of Scotland, he knew the right hon. Gentleman would tell him that the Department had sent various circulars to the school boards throughout Scotland, directing their attention to the necessity of having teachers qualified to give the higher education. The suggestion contained in the Report of the Endowed Institutions Commission was that the number of teachers qualified to give instruction in the higher branches of learning should be increased, and that teachers who attended the Universities at all should remain in them for a sufficiently long period to enable them to take their degree in Arts, as a stamp of their fitness for giving instruction in the higher branches of education. Nothing had been done in the matter. He believed it was not altogether the fault of the Department that the delay had taken place; but that it was owing to the unwillingness of the Treasury to furnish any addition to the grant for education in Scotland. Considering the limited number of students who were able to go up to the Universities in order to fit themselves for the position of teachers, he thought the time had come when the Department should press the Treasury as to the necessity of this as a means of providing higher instruction in the rural districts. It was a subject of great importance. In Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other large towns, the gentlemen who were members of the school boards were persons of influence, who had the means of obtaining and were glad to take the trouble of acquiring information as to the personality of the most promising scholars, whom it was desirable to provide with higher instruction. In the rural districts, however, there was nothing of the kind, and, as those districts formed a large portion of the total population of Scotland, it should be remembered that the population of the towns of Scotland was sustained by immigration from the rural districts. Therefore, it was of the last importance that the education of the inhabitants of those rural districts should be attended to. If heed were not given to the matter, he believed that the falling away which was complained of in some of the Highland parishes would be aggravated. The school-rate of many of the Highland parishes was so heavy as really to be a 1443 serious burden to the ratepayers, and it ought to be as far as possible alleviated by providing a more efficient staff of teachers, although he could not say at inconsiderable salaries. There was one other remark he desired to mate. The right hon. Gentleman who, in some of his remarks, had drawn attention to the great increase in the number of scholars attending the schools and receiving an efficient education within them, seemed to forget that the Education Act had only existed since 1872—or only a dozen years. But he was glad to say that they had had a system of education existing in Scotland for more than 300 years prior to the constitution of the Education Department. One of the advantages they had derived from that was that Scotch parents regarded it as a moral duty that they should educate their children; but until the Act of 1872 was passed, the national system was totally inadequate, being altogether incommensurate with the number and wants of the people, and it would be in the recollection of the Committee how the numerous measures brought in to improve it were defeated. Several Bills brought forward, one after another, by a right hon. Gentleman, now a Member of "another House," but who enjoyed a seat in the House of Commons for many years, for the purpose of promoting education in Scotland, were rejected under the miserable pretext that sectarian differences existed. That pretext did great injury to the cause of education, and delayed the passing of an Act until the Government of 1872 passed the Act which had proved so great a blessing to the country. He hoped his right hon. Friend would give heed to what he (Mr. Ramsay) had said in regard to the Report of the Endowed Institutions Commission, and that he would be able to persuade the Treasury to provide the small sum that was requisite to give a complete University education to those who were suitable for it, and securing that they should take a degree in Arts before they left the University. He hoped that that might be done at an early date, and that the right hon. Gentleman might there by confer still greater benefits than he had yet done on the people of, Scotland. He would not enter into any question as to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman had administered the Act, because he had no desire to say 1444 anything which might give rise to a controversy.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH
said, he joined in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on the statement he had made in regard to Scottish education; but he was sorry he had omitted to refer to one point which was regarded as of very great importance by the country, and that was the state of education among the Gaelic-speaking population of the Highlands. The Committee was aware that a Commission recently sat to inquire into the grievances, or alleged grievances, of the people who inhabited the Islands and Highlands of Scotland, and one of the subjects which came under its observation was the educational system and the state of education in those parts. That matter was fully gone into, and the Report of the Commissioners was now upon the Table of the House. He had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have made some reference to it on the present occasion, and very much regretted that he had not done so. As he (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had himself been one of the Commissioners, it was not for him to say anything either for or against the Report, but the document spoke for itself. This, however, he would say, that all the Members of the Commission were more or less connected with the cause of education, and two of them were immediately connected with and had special knowledge of educational matters in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland. The grievance now felt was this—that in places where Gaelic was the mother tongue, it was entirely ignored by the Education Department, and no use whatever was made of it. There were two classes of people in the Highlands who held different views in regard to the teaching of Gaelic. The more advanced class wished it to be made a special subject like Latin and Greek, and in this he personally concurred; the more moderate section would be satisfied to utilize the Gaelic language, for the purpose of making the children, to whom it was the mother tongue, thoroughly good English scholars. When the right hon. Gentleman was in Edinburgh at the beginning of the year, he (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) introduced to him a deputation who urged the latter view upon him, and he expressed his approbation. 1445 The members of the deputation, which was a very influential one, were now disappointed that nothing had been done in the way they were led to expect. If the Committee would allow him, he would mention one fact which would illustrate the position better than any lengthy statement. On one occasion, when the Commissioners were going among the Western Islands, they visited the picturesque Island of Raasay, and held their meeting in a board school, which was a charming building decorated with maps and pictures, altogether as clean and nice as any building could be. In that room were 30 or 40 children of both sexes, and of ages ranging from 6 to 10. Not one of these children could speak a word of English; whilst the teacher was a lady from Aberdeen, who could not speak a word of Gaelic. How was it possible, under those circumstances, for the teaching to be of the slightest use to those children? The whole thing was a perfect mockery. The children were intelligent in the main, as was easily ascertained when they were spoken to in Gaelic, their own language; but they knew nothing whatever of what they were being taught. He considered it an intolerable hardship, and one which he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not allow to exist very much longer, because the school and other rates in some of the Western Islands were excessive. In Lewis they amounted in one year to as much as 8s. in the pound, notwithstanding the fact that many of the inhabitants were poor crofters, paying something like £2 a-year for rent, and yet being compelled to contribute their proportion of the school rates. The consequence was that they regarded the operation of the Education Act as a burden and a hardship; and instead of being glad to send their children to school, as was formerly the case, the necessity of sending them to school was regarded as a serious tax. Another hardship was the great distance the schools were from the abodes of the people. In the winter the streams were flooded, the roads blocked up, and the children were only able to attend at the hazard of their lives. With the little food and clothing they possessed, it would be starvation from hunger and cold combined while in attendance at school. What he wanted to press upon 1446 the right hon. Gentleman was this—that the more moderate friends of the Gaelic-speaking people by no means insisted that Gaelic should be taught and paid for by the Education Department as a special language; but as long as it continued to exist, and was necessary in order to make the children properly understand the English language, the Government ought to utilize it for the purpose he had mentioned, and pay for results.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he would not have risen but for the observations of the two hon. Members who had preceded him — the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) and the hon. Member for North Ayrshire (Mr. Cochran-Patrick). Those observations, if allowed to go forth without any challenge, might do something to discourage the efforts which were being made in Scotland to bring up the training of infants to the same standard as existed in England. He did not himself believe in the existence of over-pressure in the schools in Scotland, or even in England, except in a very limited degree. He had seen something of the management of board schools, both in Scotland and in England, and the manner in which education was being carried on was very encouraging. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) spoke from his own observation; but he did not think he had realized the full extent to which infant education was being carried on in England and Scotland. Formerly, there might have been some ground for the complaints of the hon. Member. The first time he had ever visited an infant school was in the city now represented by his hon. Friend; and he put the question to the teacher—"What do these children know?" The answer he received was—"They know something of everything." That was going a little too far; but that was not the way in which infant schools were conducted now. The aim of these schools was to give to children of the poor the same advantages which children of the same age among the upper classes received in their own homes. When that object was properly carried out, with tenderness and due regard to the age of the children, it was a powerful aid to the education which they received elsewhere afterwards; and it was in itself most invaluable for training 1447 the minds of the children. He denied that the manner in which infant education was now carried on caused the strain it was said to produce; and he was quite satisfied that if something were done in this direction in Scotland, the advantages, so far as progress was concerned, which it would confer would be readily recognized. In reference to the Highlands, it was impossible to carry out infant schools in agricultural districts, or in the Islands; but they could certainly be carried out in the large towns, where the subject was now in its infancy, to a greater extent even than at present. He would like to refer to a remark which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Campbell), and which was received with some cheering. He alluded to what the hon. Member had said about the cumulative vote. Now, he stood there as being himself answerable for the introduction of that system of voting into Scotland, and he was proud of the fact. He trusted the Committee would pause before listening to any proposal to abolish it, and he was glad that his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council had advocated nothing of the kind. Up to the present time, the system, although frequently attacked out-of-doors, had not been openly assailed in that House; and he could not allow the occasion to pass without expressing his opinion very strongly as to the advantages Scotland had derived from it. He had watched the matter carefully, and the only complaint he had heard against it was that it brought to the top of the list those who would sometimes have been lower down if the old method of voting had been used. That was an anomaly, no doubt; but it was a very narrow point on which to judge the matter, and it ought not to be made a matter of reproach. He remembered that, at the first election for a school board in Glasgow, a Unitarian was placed at the top of the poll, and every one held up his hands with horror at the idea of a Unitarian being at the head. [An hon. MEMBER: No!] His hon. Friend corrected him on that point; but, at any rate, the cumulative vote had had the effect of enabling the representatives of the different religious communities to sit side by side on the same school board. The Roman Catholic, for instance, had a seat on the same board 1448 with his Presbyterian brethren. That was a great advantage, not only to the Roman Catholics, but to the Presbyterians themselves; for he considered it to be a great tiling to get Roman Catholics to join with their fellow-Christians in a common system of education. Looking back upon these results, he felt proud of having taken part in securing the adoption of the cumulative system, of which the Committee would probably hear a good deal when it came to deal with the redistribution of seats. He again congratulated the Vice President of the Council, and he thought that, after his masterly performances, hon. Members would hesitate before proposing to transfer the administration of the Education Act from his able hands, even to place it in the hands of a Secretary of State.
§ MR. R. P. BRUCE
said, that the hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had very emphatically declared that he had no belief in the existence of over-pressure; and the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), speaking not only for himself, but for Scotland generally, had said that the Scotch people did not believe in it. That might be the general opinion; but he (Mr. R. P. Bruce) thought it could not be denied that a good deal of attention had been aroused on the subject, and notice taken of it in Scotland. He considered, therefore, that hon. Members on the Conservative side had been quite justified in calling attention to it. It was also, he believed, quite true, as had been said, that the question, so far as it existed in Scotland, was totally different from the position of the question in England. There was in Scotland no jealousy of high-class education in the board schools; nor, on the other hand, was there any party, such as, perhaps, existed in England, interested in picking holes in the board-school system. That being so, he wished to call attention to the fact that in Scotland a good deal of discussion had taken place on the subject, and that there was a natural desire to avoid anything of the kind. Of course, there was a danger lest the system should be too rigid, and lest there might be a few cases where an attempt to pass weakly children through the same curriculum as the stronger children might have injurious effects. It had been remarked that cer- 1449 tain provisions had been introduced into the English Code as precautions against over-pressure, and that no similar provisions had been introduced into the Scotch Code. He referred, for instance, to Article No. 109 in the English Code, which directed that the Inspectors, in reporting upon the organization and discipline of schools, should satisfy themselves that the teachers had not unduly pressed the dull or delicate scholars in preparing them for examination. There was also a provision defining a reasonable excuse for the withdrawal of a child from examination, which had been introduced into the English Code as a safeguard against over-pressure. No similar provision had been introduced into the Scotch Code. Of course, be was aware that the two Codes were different; but he was not able to see that they differed in such a way as to render such precautions more necessary in the case of the English Code than in the case of the Scotch Code. He would take the opportunity of asking the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought it desirable to apply to Scotland the principles of the new English Code? When the new Code was framed for England, the notion was that similar principles would, after a time, be applied to Scotland. He would be glad to know whether the experience of the Vice President of the Council on Education of the working of the new Code in England allowed him to retain his former opinion in favour of applying the principles of that Code to Scotland? When the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Education Estimates, he said, in the course of his speech, that the grant per head of scholars in England had increased to the extent of 2½d. in consequence of the changes in the Code. It seemed to him to follow from that statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that if the English and Scotch Codes were fair and equal formerly, Scotland was now at some disadvantage in having the old system in operation there; while the English enjoyed a Code under which 2½d. a-scholar additional could be earned. He was quite aware that he had no reason to be ashamed of the amount of the grant earned in Scotland under existing arrangements; but it was well to see that Scotland did not, if it could be prevented, get less than her neighbours in matters of this kind.
said, he had a few remarks to address to the Committee in connection with this Vote. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education had told them that an expenditure of £5,000 would close the grants for building new schools. His hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) had referred to that statement with satisfaction, and said he was glad to hear that the Department was about to pause in the process of school-building. The right hon. Gentleman also said that 17 schools had been erected during the last year, and that 15,000 school places had been supplied. Now, it would be in the recollection of the Committee that it was stated in the Report of last year—they had no Report this year—that what was then needed to complete the supply of school accommodation for the whole of Scotland was 10,141 school places. The calculation was made upon the basis of population as follows:—The estimated population in 1882 being 3,775,364, on the principle that there should be school seats provided for one-sixth of the population, the number of school places should be 629,277, whereas the actual supply was 619,086, leaving the actual deficiency mentioned of 10,141 school places. With reference to the supply of that deficiency, the Report of last year stated that when the outstanding building grants had been paid, and several schools then in course of being erected without such aid were occupied, it was believed that the school supply of the country would be virtually complete. But that would not be so; because in seven of the counties of Scotland—namely, Bute, Dumbarton, Edinburgh, Forfar, Lanark, Selkirk, there was, he found, a deficiency of 54,402 school places; and, as there was only a total shortcoming of 10,141 school places over the whole country, it followed that the remaining counties had an excess in respect of school accommodation of 44,261 places. Or the matter might be stated otherwise from the point of view of population. The seven counties he had named, with a population of 1,951,737, had a deficiency of 54,402 school places; while the remaining counties, with a population of 1,823,627, had an excess of school places amounting to 44,261. He wanted to know how the wants of the whole coun- 1451 try were to be supplied by providing 10,000 additional places, when, in the seven counties he had mentioned, there was an actual deficiency of 54,000 school places? In connection with this subject, he wished to point out the position of the Highland counties. The six counties of Argyll, Elgin, Inverness, Orkney and Shetland, Ross and Cromarty, and Sutherland, with a population of 378,000, had, according to the basis of calculation mentioned, school places for 75,800 children; whereas the attendance was only 39,000, or a little over half the supply, while the number of children on the register was 54,000. He was anxious to point out that in these counties, where there was an excess of school accommodation, in some cases the enormous rate of 8s. in the pound was levied; while, in every county, the rate was high. He thought there had been too much pressure put on the counties in question to provide the necessary school accommodation, and he traced so much of the dislike and unpopularity into which school board education had fallen in the Highlands, to the fact that this heavy burden had been laid upon them. However, it had been done, and could not be mended; but the result would be that it would take 14 years to fill up the school places already provided in the counties named. He trusted that great care would be taken in future not to provide school accommodation, unless it was absolutely certain that it was wanted. So much for the counties in which there was an excess of accommodation; but how with regard to those in which there was a deficiency? It was very well to say that the accommodation to be provided this year would fill up the school accommodation required in Scotland; but the fact still remained that in the seven counties he had named, there was a deficiency of 54,402 school places, as against the excess in the other counties of 44,261 places, which, according to the growth of population—that was to say, one in 10 per annum—it would require, as he had already pointed out, 14 years to occupy. It must be evident that they could not make the school accommodation complete by having a certain number of school places, unless those places were in the right localities. Finally, there was another point to which he desired to allude—namely, the position of the Gaelic population of the Highlands. 1452 He wished to express his entire concurrence with all that had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh), who held that something ought to be done for the Gaelic-speaking population to enable them to acquire instruction in English through the medium of Gaelic-speaking teachers, or in some such way.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, he desired to say a word or two on the subject which had been alluded to by the hon. Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh), as well as by the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Dick-Peddie). He had often been told by schoolmasters in the Gaelic-speaking parts of the Western Highlands that the children, when they first came to school, were quite unable to speak the English language. He knew, therefore, from actual experience, the necessity of the teacher having a knowledge of Gaelic, in order to teach children English when they first went to school; and he thought that the people in the Highlands had a right to demand that teachers should have a competent knowledge of Gaelic for that purpose. In his opinion, however, English should remain the staple and standard subject to be taught. There was another matter in the Report of the Commissioners, which had not been so much as alluded to by the hon. Member for the Inverness Burghs, but which was a very grave one—namely, the financial position of some of the Highland parishes. It appeared to him (Mr. Buchanan) that the financial condition of those parishes was perfectly alarming, and the Royal Commission had not recommended any remedy, except the drastic remedy of wiping out the debt which had been incurred by them in providing educational means. Take the case of the Lochs. In the Island of Lewis, there was a population of 6,284, with a rental of £4,670 paid by 152 ratepayers, of whom 107 paid rents under £7. In that place, £20,311 had been expended in building 12 schools, towards which sum the Government had advanced on loan £12,428, of which £893 still remained unpaid. The school rate there was 4½d. in the pound. What, he asked, was to be done in a case of that kind? The problem was a difficult one, and the Commissioners, as he had said, recommended the wiping out of 1453 the debt. He hoped that, in the course of another year, the right hon. Gentleman would be in a position to suggest some remedy for this prospective bankruptcy. But what he principally wanted to refer to was the question of day industrial schools. The right hon. Gentleman had, in the course of his statement that evening, alluded to the advantage which Glasgow enjoyed in the possession of industrial schools; but he (Mr. Buchanan) would point out that Glasgow had the power of establishing those schools under a Private Act, and that the rest of Scotland had not the powers in that respect which English boards possessed. In the Report of last year on Scotch Education, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education, in describing the provisions of the amending Bill of 1883, when referring to the proposed introduction of the Attendance Orders, said—We should have been glad to strengthen this provision of the Bill"—that was, relating to the Attendance Orders—"by allowing repeated offenders to be committed to industrial schools, and by giving power for the establishment of day industrial schools, which are working so satisfactorily in reducing truancy in some of the large towns of England. But we have postponed dealing with this part of the question, as these institutions are at present under consideration by a Royal Commission.Well, the Commission had since reported, and had made, amongst others, this specific recommendation — that Scotch school boards should have conferred on them the powers and duties that English boards enjoyed under the Education Act of 1876 for the establishment, &c, of day industrial schools. He had asked a Question of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, earlier in the Session, with regard to the prospect of legislation for the carrying out of this recommendation of the Commission, to which the right hon. Gentleman replied that the prospect, owing to the pressure of Business, and the shortness of time at the disposal of the Government, was exceedingly bad. He (Mr. Buchanan) had no doubt that the answer of the Vice President of the Council of Education to-day would be to the same effect. He recognized that there was a difficulty in carrying a new Industrial Schools Act, as recommended by the Commission; but he desired to impress on the right hon. Gentleman that this particular power 1454 was given to English boards by the Education Act of 1876, and not by the Industrial Schools Act; and that, similarly, it could be conferred in the case of Scottish schools by an amendment of the Education Act, which might be effected next Session, if it could not be done in this, by the passing of an amending Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, in his triumphal progress through Edinburgh and Glasgow last winter, had this matter brought before him; and he knew that the right hon. Gentleman was aware of, and fully appreciated, the way in which self-denying members of the School Board in Edinburgh had, in recent years, endeavoured to meet the difficulty. But those provisions had been merely temporary, in prospect of a permanent legislative settlement of the question. In conclusion, he must express an earnest hope that next Session the right hon. Gentleman would introduce a measure conferring this power on Scottish board schools; and he would add that, looking at the success which had attended the right hon. Gentleman's attempts in carrying amending Acts through Parliament, the carrying of an Act of the kind to which he now referred would make his great work more effective.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education had referred to the inspection of high schools. The matter was a very trifling one. The hon. Member for the Glasgow University (Mr. J. A. Campbell) said that this inspection would not cost more than £300 or £400 a-year; and that, notwithstanding that, the question had been hung up for six or seven years. When the Bill of 1878–9 was before the House there was a provision contemplated for the inspection of the higher class schools; it was proposed that the expense should fall on the rates, but that clause, he believed, his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Holms), then Member for Paisley, succeeded in getting struck out; the consequence of which was that when application was made to the Treasury they refused to bear the expense, and a correspondence between the Treasury and the Education Department had been going on ever since. For his own part, he (Dr. Cameron) did not think that such a paltry sum as that which was involved in this question of inspection 1455 was worthy of so lengthened a correspondence; and he trusted the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney), whose tenacity of all public funds they well knew, would make up his mind either to do away with all hope of the £300 or £400 being obtained, or to give it at once, with the best grace he might, when called upon to disgorge the money. The right hon. Gentlemen the Vice President had also referred to the increase of £1,400 in the Estimates for this year, on account of those school board districts in which a rate of 3d. yielded less than 7s. 6d. per head of the population. He (Dr. Cameron) was glad of that increase, because it showed a more satisfactory state of things. The state of educational affairs in the Highlands was most unsatisfactory; there could be no doubt of that. The fact was evident to all who read the Report of the Royal Commission. The other night, when that Report was brought before the House, the Secretary of State for the Home Department said that the Government had not yet had time to make up their minds on the propositions brought forward by the Commission which involved legislation; but he stated that a number of reforms that were purely administrative would be considered and given effect to more or less speedily. Members of the Government had been questioned with regard to several of those proposals, one of which was to increase postal facilities, and the Postmaster General had been engaged on that point; and there was another paltry concession to the views expressed by the Commissioners. Now, the most important administrative recommendations of the Commission were those which related to education, and they were proposals which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to the Home Department said could be carried into effect by a stroke of the pen. One of them, which his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had referred to a few minutes ago, was to wipe out all the school debts—a plan which would, of course, involve legislation, and would require consultation with the Treasury. Still, he hoped that next Session his right hon. Friend would have allowed his kindly feelings to-wards Scotland to take a practical shape, and that he would be able to 1456 inform them that this recommendation of the Commission would be carried into effect. The population of the counties to which the scope of the inquiry extended embraced 80,000 children of school age. Those children could not, from the circumstances of the country, attend school regularly; the Commissioners pointed out that it would be in-human to compel them to walk many miles in bad weather to attend school the number of times necessary to enable them to obtain the grant. Well, the Commissioners recommended that a modification should be made in the case of the counties in question with respect to the exaction of regular attendance, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would give effect to that very sensible and reasonable recommendation? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to answer that question in the affirmative. With regard to the instruction of the children in the Highlands by means of a language which they could understand, it was, to his mind, preposterous that this matter should be shunted from year to year. Now, they had it again recommended by this Commission, and he urged the right hon. Gentleman to give that recommendation effect. It was not a fad; it was not a proposal advocated by men who, from sentimental motives, wished to see the Gaelic language perpetuated; it had been recommended by all sorts and conditions of educationists, and was a matter of very old date. The hon. Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had just told the Committee of a school in which there were some 40 children who understood nothing but Gaelic, and who were being instructed by a schoolmistress who understood only English. Why, everyone must perceive that education attempted in such circumstances must be a perfect farce. It was very well to speak of high Standards in specific subjects, and so forth; but what progress could possibly be made with the elements of education by means of a teacher who did not understand the only language understood by the children to whom those elements were to be imparted? As he had said, this recommendation as to the use of Gaelic for the instruction of Gaelic-speaking children in English was a matter of very old date. As far back as the year 1824, the Society for the Propa- 1457 gation of Christian Knowledge, reporting on this subject, said that so long as children talked no language but Gaelic, it was a mere waste of time and entirely vain to burden their memories for a few years with a vocabulary of dead and unmeaning sounds. Again, in March, 1849, an educationist of great authority, Sir J. P. Kay-Shuttleworth, Secretary to the Committee of the Privy Council, addressed a communication to the then senior Inspector of Schools in Scotland, to the effect that the Committee of Council on Education were convinced that it was expedient that better provision should be made for the education of Her Majesty's subjects in the Highlands of Scotland by promoting the employment of the Gaelic, as well as the English language, as a means of instruction in the Highland schools; that the Committee of Council on Education were satisfied that to instruct the children of a Gaelic population by means of lesson-books written in the English language alone, and by means of teachers not familiar with the written and colloquial idiom of the Gaelic language, must fail to give the scholars in the Highland schools a grammatical knowledge of the Gaelic language, as well as any useful acquaintance with the English language. That was the recommendation of Sir J. P. Kay-Shuttleworth in 1849; and the Crofter Commission, speaking of that recommendation, said they knew not why it had not been followed by any practical result. But the Commissioners might have known why. Nothing of the kind was ever followed by practical results, as far as he was aware, unless the strongest pressure was brought to bear upon Her Majesty's Government. The Scotch Members had been pressing Her Majesty's Government to adopt this principle for years, and he feared that nothing would result for many years to come. Again, in 1865, the Scotch Education Commission, a very competent and practical Body, reported in the same direction, saying that it must be obvious that in districts where Gaelic alone was spoken, the teacher should be able to communicate with his pupils in a language the meaning of which they could comprehend, and that it was a mistake to overlook the difficulties of the scholar, in learning what to him was a foreign language, without having first acquired the art of reading 1458 his own. Well, that recommendation, which appeared to him (Dr. Cameron) an eminently sensible one, was made in 1865; but, as far as he was aware, nothing had been done to give it effect; and, although there had been several other recommendations of the same nature, all that had resulted was the introduction into the Code, in 1878, of a paragraph which allowed Gaelic to be taught during the ordinary school hours by an English teacher employed for that purpose, the effect of which was to place Gaelic on the same footing as drill and cookery. We had abandoned the practice of instructing boys in Latin through the medium of that language; they were now taught Latin by means of English, and it must be obvious to the Committee that the same means must be adopted in the case of Gaelic; that where the children did not understand a language in which they were to be instructed, a language which they did understand should be employed for the purpose, because it was the only way in which such instruction could be imparted. ["Hear, hear!"] His hon. Friend the Member for the Inverness Burghs, who had visited the Highland schools in the capacity of Commissioner, assented to what he was now stating. There was, he believed, some prejudice against Gaelic, which he was afraid was shared by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No, no!] The right hon. Gentleman was asked a Question a short time ago, when, after saying that no encouragement was given in the case of Wales, he mentioned that, in the case of Ireland, bad rather than good results had followed. However, he was glad to find that he had misapprehended the right hon. Gentleman. He thought that everyone who had any acquaintance with languages must admit that the knowledge of a second language was of the very greatest importance as a means of education. He cared not whether that language was Gaelic, Welsh, Hebrew, Hindostanee, or any language not generally known. As a philological study, it could only be satisfactorily imparted on the principle applied to the teaching of Latin in our schools, and he thought that consideration was of sufficient weight to justify this appeal on behalf of the Gaelic-speaking population of Scotland. Certainly, it was much more 1459 important, as a matter of training, that children should be taught a language they had a chance of learning thoroughly. Here they had a specific subject that could be learned thoroughly; whereas he was afraid the knowledge of French, German, Latin, and Greek, which could be given in a board school in the Highlands, must be of an absolutely useless and rubbishy description. He did not wish to discourage the teaching of those subjects; but he maintained that a thorough knowledge of the language with which children were familiar was of infinitely more advantage as an educational training than a knowledge of foreign languages such as they would acquire in the Highlands. What he wished to insist upon was the carrying out of the recommendations of the Education Commission and of Sir J. P. Kay-Shuttleworth, that the children in the Highland parishes should be taught Gaelic; and he trusted that, at length, the matter would be settled by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) stating that the Government intended to give effect to the repeated recommendations made in the matter.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, there was one branch of the Estimates which was only glanced at by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), and on which nothing had been said by any subsequent speaker—he referred to the very large sum which was devoted annually to the Training Colleges. This was a subject which excited considerable attention in Scotland; and he was going to submit to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Committee; whether the present system of distributing the whole of this large amount of national money between three or four churches ought not to be replaced by a better and more liberal system? At present, the whole of the grant, which amounted to no less than £27,000, was distributed—no doubt it would be said by some people for the benefit of the country—between four denominations—the Established Church, the Free Kirk, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Episcopalians. See how unfairly that bore upon those denominations whose principles precluded them from receiving anything in the shape of religious endowments from the State. For instance, the United Presbyterian Church had a great objection to receive any 1460 State grants in connection with religion—in fact, they were absolutely prevented from having any institution of their own similar to the Training Colleges which the other persuasions he had mentioned had. From all he had heard and seen he could quite believe that, in their practical working, the Training Colleges were as free from any religious bias as under such a system they could be; but, still, the odium of the system attached to the institutions. They were all, more or less, under the control and possessed the authority of the Bodies with which they were connected. The teachers of Scotland were dissatisfied with the existing system, and the proposal had been made by them that it should be discontinued. He supposed the Board had been urged, if not, it would be urged, by the teachers to consider whether the present system, which, after all, was a sectarian and denominational one in appearance, and which had all the objections attached to it which such a system naturally raised, could not be replaced by a freer and more national system. It had been proposed that, as there were Chairs at present in St. Andrew's and Edinburgh Universities, so there might be Chairs in the other Universities, which might be free from the present denominational difficulty, and might be a far more efficient system of affording the benefits of Training Colleges to all who were desirous of benefiting by them. He submitted that proposal to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) and to the Committee as one which was seriously engaging the attention of the teachers in Scotland, and as one which would free the present system of Training Colleges from the difficulty and objection with which it was surrounded. Before he sat down, let him refer to the question of the cumulative vote in school board elections. The question was not directly raised by anything in the present Vote; but the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council referred to it. The hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke), very naturally, defended the system of which he was the founder and promoter in the Education Bill of 1872; but he (Mr. Webster) maintained that, whatever might be said to the contrary, the system was one against which a strong current of opinion had set in. When 1461 the hon. Baronet said that the advantage of the system was that the representative of a small and, perhaps, religious body was enabled to obtain a seat on the school board, it seemed to him (Mr. Webster) that such a state of things was the reverse of an advantage. Undoubtedly, in Scotland, the system tended to engender a sectarian feeling in the school board itself. The election of a school board was very often the scene of the rivalry of the various Churches. He considered it a very great disadvantage indeed that a man should be elected to a school board by a comparatively small class in opposition to the votes of the great majority of the ratepayers. This very often gave rise to bitter sectarian animosity. The cumulative vote produced a state of things which was opposed to the common feeling of the people of Scotland—namely, that a school board should be as free as far as possible from any infusion of sectarianism. He had only to say, in conclusion, that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had great cause to be pleased with the reception his statement had received. He agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire that that reception was a proof of the general feeling in favour of the system under which one Central Authority managed the primary and secondary education in Scotland.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he was glad the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Webster) had raised the question of Training Colleges. It had always appeared to him (Sir George Campbell) an extraordinary thing that while we had a common school system, our Training Colleges should be purely sectarian. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) had reminded the Committee of the fact that there were voluntary schools; but we were unmistakably coming to a general common school system of education, and, under such circumstances, it was an extraordinary thing that we should have these sectarian Training Colleges. He should have thought that, of all things, it was most necessary that teachers should be educated in non-sectarian Colleges, and be free from sectarian principles. He hoped his right hon. Friend would see his way to adopt the 1462 good advice of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen, and in the interests of economy, efficiency, and justice, put the Training Colleges on the same unsectarian footing as the common schools now stood on. He had thought it right to allude to this matter; but on the general subject, in common with all who had spoken, he was very gratified by the very pleasing and favourable account of education in Scotland which the right hon. Gentleman had given. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman was gratifying in every way. The new system of education had been a great success—they had lost nothing by it; but they had gained a great deal. At the same time, he was free to confess that, although they had such an old and successful system of education, they must not be too proud to learn from others—they ought not to be above learning from England, or from other countries. He was much impressed by what had been said on this, as well as on former occasions, with regard to infant schools in Scotland. It was quite true that the Scotch educational system was a somewhat higher class than that which existed in England, and the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying they had not learned to manage infant schools as well as the English had. He quite agreed with the Vice President of the Council, that if infant schools were managed on judicious principles, on the Kindergarten principle—if they made it an education, not only of the mind, but of the body—they would be an unmixed good. They would relieve the parents of the care of the children, and they would do very much benefit to the children themselves. He hoped, therefore, that Scotland would be willing to take a lesson from England in that respect. Then, again, he thought that what his hon. Friend the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had suggested with regard to the variety of education in infant schools chimed in with what the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had said. In his (Sir George Campbell's) opinion, overpressure resulted, not so much from the quantity of education, as from the want of variety in the education. It seemed to him that, if mental education were mixed with physical or manual education, in the way suggested, the benefit derived would not only be greater, but 1463 the fear of over-pressure would be avoided. He hoped that something would be done in the direction of providing a variety of education. He did not know whether England was above Scotland with regard to bodily lessons; but he thought Scotland had a good deal to learn on this subject from other countries. The only other subject to which he wished to allude was that of the working of the Endowed Schools Commission. He had no doubt people in England heard something of the subject with regard to the Charity Commission, which, be believed, had charge of endowments, and he had no doubt that they would hear something more of it with respect to England, and perhaps to Scotland also. When the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) said that the Endowed Schools Commission in Scotland was doing a great deal of very good work, he quite agreed with him; but, at the same time, he wished to repeat a warning which had been very often given, and that was, whether it be in England or in Scotland, in the arrangements which had been made for seconding education, there had been, and there was, a tendency to shift the benefits of endowments upwards, and in some shape or other to shift them up to such a considerable extent that the poorer classes received comparatively little benefit from them. The poorer classes received nowadays very little benefit indeed from endowments, a great portion of which were appropriated to the benefit of the higher classes. That was very much the case under the system of competition which now took place. As a matter of fact, where there was free and open competition, the poorer classes could not, as a rule, enter. Why, the great school of Eton was originally a Charity foundation. It was not so now. He hoped that, in Scotland, there would not be any of this shifting upwards; and he quite sympathized with the object the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had so much at heart—namely, the creation of a ladder which the poorer boys would be able to mount, and by which they should receive the full measure of the benefits of the endowments left for them. He spoke with some warmth upon this subject, because there was a very large and handsome endowment in the borough he represented, which, according to the will of 1464 the donor, was most especially and most particularly intended for the benefit of the poor, and a proposal had been made by which the benefit of that endowment should be shifted upwards. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them the assurance that he would take care that, in Scotland, at all events, there should not be any of the shifting up to which he had referred.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, he might be allowed to express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) would endeavour to do something to remedy the defect of the 60th clause of the Act of 1872, which dealt with the removal of teachers who were appointed before the passing of that Act. That clause provided that—No teacher appointed before 1872 can be removed from his office except for cruel treatment of the children, immoral conduct, or inefficiency.A case had occurred where the schoolmaster was a most able teacher, thoroughly efficient, not immoral, and not guilty of any cruelty, yet he was negligent, and he remained. There was no power to remove such a man if the School Board wished to do so. The man would not fill up the returns, the managers of the school could not get any Government grant; indeed, everything was at a deadlock. It was not a theoretical objection he was raising; there was a case in point, and if the right hon. Gentleman would do something to remedy this defect in the Act, he would confer a great boon upon the country.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he was prompted to say a word or two in consequence of what fell from his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). He did not know the particular endowments to which his hon. Friend had referred; but he could assure his hon. Friend that no body of men could be more anxious to give the poor the benefits of any endowments than the Educational Endowment Commissioners were. He was persuaded that, on an examination of the scheme proposed by those Commissioners, the hon. Gentleman would be disposed to give them full credit for having carried the Statutes out faithfully in the interests of the poor. The hon. Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Frazer-Mackintosh) and others had referred to the question of teaching 1465 Gaelic in the schools in the Highlands. As a matter of fact, one of the chief difficulties in getting Gaelic taught in the Highlands, was that parents would not allow their children to occupy their time in acquiring a knowledge of their mother tongue. School boards had full right at the present time, to appoint teachers possessing a knowledge of Gaelic; but only a very small number of the persons who had taken to the profession of teaching had acquired a knowledge of that language. What, therefore, could the school board do? He fully sympathized with the object his hon. Friend (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had in view, and he was much struck by the case which had been cited of a school in the Western Highlands, in which not one of the children in attendance could speak a word of English, while the teacher was not able to teach a word of Gaelic. The truth was, that the Gaelic School Society, which was established more than a century ago for the purpose of teaching the children of Gaelic parents to read the Bible in their mother tongue, had been obliged to discontinue their operations in consequence of the failure of the children to attend — the parents would not allow them to attend. A school board he had in mind desired to elect the best teachers; but, in the election, they failed to secure the services of one who had a knowledge of Gaelic. There was an undoubted difficulty in getting teachers who spoke Gaelic; and, therefore, he thought that when the school boards in the Highlands found they could not get a teacher possessing a knowledge of that language, they did well to select one of the best acquirements. Where the rates were so high, as the hon. Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had stated, school boards begrudged anything that could possibly add a further burden to the rates. No one could be surprised at such a feeling on the part of a school board whose rate was 1s. or more in the pound. If anything else was required to be done, it should be done at the expense of the Imperial Treasury. [Mr. COURTNEY dissented.] His hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) shook his head very gravely at that suggestion; but he (Mr. Ramsay) felt that, as the State had regarded it as its duty to provide education for the whole of the population, there should not be a case in which 1466 the school rate was so high as it had been represented to be in some places in the Highlands. One of his hon. Friends had pointed out that the rates were unnecessarily augmented by the class of schools built. He had seen a well-taught school, where the teacher was acting under an umbrella. That was not a desirable state of affairs; but then the Department did not take into consideration the circumstances of the population who had been taught in the schools. On the contrary, they had laid down a hard-and-fast rule that all board schools should be of a certain construction and afford certain accommodation—in short, it was held that what was suitable for Middlesex was suitable for Ross-shire, or any other part of the Highlands. That was wrong. He thought it was wrong when the scheme was before the Board of Education, of which he was a member, and he then suggested that the circumstances of the population should be taken into account in deciding what sort of a school should be erected. That was not done, and the consequence was that a great deal of money was expended by the State in the erection of buildings which were in character very different, indeed, to the dwellings of the children who were educated in them. A good deal of money might, with advantage, have been saved; but that matter, however, was now past, and it was needless to cry over spilt milk. As he was acquainted with the Highlands, and took an interest in the education there, he thought it was due to the Committee that he should point out that one of the chief difficulties which beset the teaching of Gaelic was the unwillingness of the parents to allow their children to learn the language.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the debate had not been long; but it had been very practical and interesting. He thanked hon. Members, not only for the very interesting discussion that had taken place, but also for the personal references that had been made to his visit to Scotland. He was well satisfied with what he saw during his visit; but he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay), that there was a great deal still wanting in the rural districts. He was anxious to know what could be done in those districts. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow University (Mr. J. A. Camp- 1467 bell) gave them an excellent example of what could be done in the way of securing regularity of attendance; but he (Mr. Mundella) did not know how his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) relished the reference to the success which attended the movement the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. A Campbell) described. The hon. Gentleman showed that 4,880 children in Glasgow had never missed a single attendance in the year, owing to the fact that little prizes were given for regularity. He told them that for the small expenditure of £12 12s. they largely increased the average attendance; but he did not tell them how much they increased the grant. He (Mr. Mundella) had no doubt that the £12 12s. produced an increase in the grant from the Treasury of, at least, £50. He could not object—and he was sure his hon. Friend (Mr. Courtney) did not object—if the grants were much increased by these means; because grants were automatic, and their increase depended upon the good management of the schools and the regular attendance of the children. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. A. Campbell) complained of the great expense arising from the difference between the Municipal and School Board electoral roll. That difference was to be regretted, and if the Session had not been so far advanced, he (Mr. Mundella) would certainly have introduced a measure for the assimilation of the two electoral rolls in question. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) spoke of the Technical Commission, and of the desirability of adopting their recommendations. That very valuable Report would require to be carefully considered; and it must be remembered that it had only been presented within the last few weeks, long after the Code was laid on the Table. It was a Report which ought not to be dealt with hastily—teachers, themselves, would not like it to be dealt with hastily, because it recommended, for instance, that drawing should be compulsory in every child. Subjects of that kind required very carefully weighing before they were finally adopted. He could promise that whatever was done for England should be done for Scotland at the same time; he should establish no distinction between the two countries in that respect. His hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk 1468 (Mr. Ramsay) complained that they had not already carried out the recommendation of the Committee of which he was a Member—that a teacher should be found in every parish capable of teaching the higher subjects. He (Mr. Mundella) had a good deal of sympathy with the recommendation; but it was one which was not very easily carried out. They had sent very strong circulars to the school boards; but they had not met with that ready response it was hoped they would. Some of the school boards said—"Oh! we have no demand;" others said—"We are well satisfied with our schoolmaster, and we cannot afford to have another; it would largely increase our rates." All these were matters for careful consideration, and he was of opinion the recommendation could only be carried out by a gradual improvement in the quality of the teacher. It would be a great thing if every young teacher in Scotland would avail himself of the facilities which the a Scottish Universities afforded to obtain degree. He passed now to the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Fraser Mackintosh), who spoke, as did also the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), about the teaching of Gaelic, or rather about the instruction of the Gaelic-speaking population. He (Mr. Mundella) took exception to the statement of both his hon. Friends as to the desirability of making Gaelic a specific subject. He did not believe that was what was really required. It had been said that Irish was a specific subject in some schools in Ireland. Yes; but he had inquired how many children had been taught Irish. Twenty-five children had been taught the language. That was the net result. Undoubtedly, the capability of speaking two languages was most important; it was almost an education itself. There was no greater education than the mastery of a second language. But the folly of attempting to teach children, who only understood Gaelic, English through an English schoolmaster or mistress, was too apparent to need any comment. But what was to be said of the school board that did that? Here was a Highland parish; it was its own local authority; it had a Gaelic-speaking population, and yet it engaged a schoolmistress who could not speak a single word of Gaelic to teach children who 1469 could not speak a word of English. Surely, if the local authority were so deficient in common sense as to take that course, how was the Education Department in London to bring them to their senses? Long before the Report of the Crofters' Commission was published, he made inquiries as to the state of affairs in Wales; because, in the Principality, there was a large Welsh-speaking population. There was a vast and varied literature in the Welsh language, daily papers were published in Welsh, and some of our best standard works were written in that language. What did he find? From the Report made last year, with respect to Education in Wales, he found that 95 per cent of the persons who taught the Welsh-speaking population could themselves speak Welsh. No grant was given for Welsh; but not only could the teachers speak Welsh, and examine the children in Welsh, but the Department required the Inspectors to examine the children in their own language, and to see that the children could translate from the one language into the other. That seemed to him to be what was wanted in the Highlands. It was not wanted that the Gaelic-speaking population should be tied to one language; it was not wanted that the people should learn English as mere parrot-talk; but that they should be able to understand it, and translate English into Gaelic, and Gaelic into English, and thus get the mastery of the two languages. But where were they to get the teachers from? That was the first difficulty. The second difficulty was, how were they to get school boards to teach Gaelic? He would, however, give the matter careful attention. He felt bound to remind the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) that the Crofters' Report had only been out a few weeks. [Dr. CAMERON: I spoke of two other Reports.] Neither of the other two Reports the hon. Gentleman spoke of recommended Gaelic; they only said Gaelic should be the medium through which the Gaelic-speaking population should be taught, and in that he fully and heartily concurred. Well, now, he agreed with every word, which fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) with reference to infant schools. He was bound to say that some of the best infant school teachers in England 1470 he had known had been trained in Glasgow and Edinburgh. He did not think that the cheerful, joyous life which children of seven or eight years of age could and ought to enjoy in infant schools, had anything but the most beneficial effect in after years. If children were properly trained in infant schools, they never failed to pass their subsequent examinations; they were much better disciplined, and the progress of education was much easier for them during the rest of their lives. His hon. Friend the Member for Fifeshire (Mr. R. P. Bruce) made some reference to the question of over-pressure. His remarks were very wise; he (Mr. Mundella) quite agreed with him. They must expect exaggerated statements. Those statements were often made from conflicting motives. Some of the persons who made the statements did not care for education; they rather disliked it, and would do anything to make it unpopular. Some of the persons were teachers who wished for less work to do, and more to be paid for doing it. The belief in over-pressure was prompted by a variety of motives. No doubt, some of the doctors were very sincere in regard to the question; but he (Mr. Mundella) should be very sorry to be under the doctors in everything. He was afraid that, like Sacho Panza in the Island of Barataria, we should get nothing at all if doctors were to have all their own way; if they were to govern us altogether, a very bad time we should have. The hon. Member for Fifeshire asked if the Department were prepared to apply the new Code to Scotland? The old Code was in existence in Scotland; indeed, there had been no change at all in the application of the Code to Scotland. He believed that Scotland would benefit enormously, educationally and financially, if the new English Code were properly applied in that country; but they could not apply anything new, either in Scotland or elsewhere, without encountering some opposition. The men who were doing well under the existing Scottish Code, did not desire to make any change. The Department, however, were familiarizing the Scotch Inspectors with the working of the English Code, and they were taking some of the best of the English Inspectors down to Scotland, to examine what was being done there and to see 1471 how the English Code would apply. He knew the jealousy—he might almost say the fear—which Scotch Members entertained of contamination from contact with England in educational matters; so that he should be on his guard against wounding their susceptibilities. He could assure them that he was as eager as they were that nothing should be done to lower the character of the Scottish education. His hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) referred to the question of school-building. What he (Mr. Mundella) said was, that it was believed £5,000 would cover the building grants. The 31st of December, 1873, was the latest period for application under the Act of 1872 for building grants, audit was his opinion that £5,000 would complete the grants. That was all he intended to convey. Glasgow, Dundee, and other great centres had to provide for an increasing population, and the Treasury would have, no doubt, to lend their money for the purpose.
said, he referred to the Report of last year, which stated that only about 10,000 school places were required in Scotland, and he went on to ask how the right hon. Gentleman could reconcile that statement with the fact that there was a deficiency of 54,000 places in seven counties.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the calculation was one he had not had an opportunity of looking into. He could quite understand that there might be an ample supply for all who attended, without meeting the ideal supply which was in the mind of the Department. His hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) questioned him as to the extension of the day industrial school system in Scotland. He should be very glad to extend the system to Scotland. He thought it ought to be extended to Scotland; but the initiative must come from the Home Office, or he must have from the Home Secretary, under whose charge this matter had hitherto been, power to extend the system to Scotland. He had been in communication with his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Hibbert), and he hoped that, during the Recess, an arrangement would be completed by which the Education Department would have power to deal with 1472 the wants of Scotland with respect to day industrial schools. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) dwelt upon another point, arising out of the Report of the Crofters' Commission, respecting the debts of the Highland parishes. To deal with those debts was not the work of the Education Department; he could only administer the Acts as he found them. As a matter of fact, the debts were incurred before the present Government came into Office; the provision made, was made and sanctioned before they came into Office. He was bound to say, from the evidence laid before him, that so far from there being undue pressure, there had been an anxious endeavour on the part of his Predecessors in Office to restrain expenditure in the Highland counties. Those counties were told that cheaper schools than they were putting up would suffice; but they were eager to spend money. His hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Webster) drew attention to the Scottish Training Colleges, and he sketched out what had already been placed before him (Mr. Mundella) by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Mr. J. A. Campbell)—namely, the unwillingness on the part of some Universities to undertake the training of teachers. The training of teachers in a University implied that they must have practice in school, that they must be taught the science of teaching, and that they must be under proper moral control. He was bound to say, knowing what he did of Scotch Training Colleges, that they were less sectarian than other Training Colleges; in fact, in England we took teachers from Scotch Training Colleges into all our schools—board schools, and other schools—and we were glad to get them. Scottish teachers did honour to their profession, for they included in their number the very best teachers in Europe. He knew that their qualifications were becoming higher and higher. He believed the Glasgow School Board appointed no one head-master who was not a graduate of a University. They were right in doing it, and he should be glad if more school boards would follow the example of Glasgow in that respect. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) complained of the inability of school boards to remove 1473 teachers appointed before the Act of 1872. He (Mr. Mundella) was aware of the difficulty. A schoolmaster might not be culpable; but he might be somewhat inefficient, he might be inert; yet it was not a very easy matter to deal with him. Where the inertness was not very serious, it was a question of time alone; the matter would cure itself, and they must be patient. Of course, a schoolmaster must not be allowed to stand in the way of the education of the children. He believed that, as to the case to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred, the school board had consulted the Education Department. [Sir ALEXANDER GORDON: We have twice consulted the Department and failed.] Of course, it was requisite in such cases to prove that the master was culpable. The Department would be very glad to help the school board in question, as far as they could; but they could not go beyond the statutes, and he did not consider it a case in regard to which it was necessary to bring in a new statute. He expressed his thanks to the Committee for the patience with which they had listened to him, and hoped he had not failed to reply to any point which had been raised during the discussion.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he was willing to admit the clearness of the statement which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) had laid before them; he was willing also to admit that the right hon. Gentleman had replied to most of the points raised in a very satisfactory way; but he thought the Committee had reason to be dissatisfied with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the recommendations of the Crofters' Commission. The Report of that Commission was brought before the House some time ago, and he (Mr. J. W. Barclay) then understood from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir William Harcourt) that several of the recommendations of the Commission, particularly those relating to education, would be taken into the serious consideration of the Government. He, therefore, expected that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would have told them something definite to-night as to what was to be done by his Department with regard to the re- 1474 commendations made by the Royal Commission on the subject of education. The right hon. Gentleman had referred, he thought, to only two of the recommendations; one of which was the recommendation as to the teaching of Gaelic. He was not prepared to differ from the views of the right hon. Gentleman on that subject; but he wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman what pressure his Department, or if his Department had not power, what pressure the Treasury had put on the school boards which indulged in the absurd practice of employing a teacher, who could speak nothing but English, to instruct children who could speak nothing but Gaelic. These absurdities were not the fault of the people, because, in almost every case, the landlord, or his factor, was chairman of the school board, and by means of the cumulative vote only those people were elected to the board who were acceptable to him. He was very desirous to know whether the Department could not prevent school boards throwing away the ratepayers' money in the way described? The right hon. Gentleman had rather unkindly put upon the Local Authorities in the Western Highlands the responsibility of incurring great expense in the erection of school houses. Upon this point the right hon. Gentleman was directly at variance with the Crofters' Commission, who reported thus—These Highland and Island school buildings were erected under the stringent regulations of the Scottish Education Department, in a style and on a scale often beyond the requirements of the people, and at an expense quite disproportioned to their means, at a time when building was exceptionally costly.Such was the statement of the Royal Commissioners. He supposed they had good authority for the statement, and he had no doubt his hon. Friend (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh), who was one of the Commissioners, would be able to refer them to the authority on which the statement was made. It seemed to him (Mr. J. W. Barclay) that the Treasury ought to have made up its mind, and that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Courtney) ought to have been able to inform them whether the Government really intended to relieve the ratepayers in the Highlands of part of the enormous charge placed upon them by the erection of schools. He thought it was probable 1475 that if something was not done to relieve them, some of the districts would break down under the load of the education rate, which now amounted, in some cases, to 6s. 9d. in the pound, and threatened to swallow up the whole rental of the parish. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Only in one case.] Was the right hon. Gentleman not prepared to do something for this one case? There were many cases in which the rate was over 1s. and 2s. in the pound. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider the uproar which would be raised in the House and the country, if any school board in England were charged anything like 2s. in the pound. Complaints were now made by the ratepayers of London—by the wealthy ratepayers of London—where the school board rate was not more than 8d. in the pound. No sympathy was extended to the poor people in the Western Highlands, where the school rate amounted to 1s., 2s., 3s., and in one case to as much as 6s. 9d in the pound. If there was only one case in which the rate was so high, it deserved the serious attention of the right hon. Gentleman. Then, again, the Royal Commission recommended that some alteration should be made in the average attendance grant. It was quite clear that in parishes broken up by arms of the sea, the average attendance could not be so great as that in large towns. It was only right that some action should be taken upon the recommendations of the Crofters' Commission. It might not be a large matter; but if the right hon. Gentleman would say he would do what he could to carry out the recommendations, and to relieve the ratepayers so far as it was in his power, he would show that he had some practical sympathy with the Highlanders of Scotland. There was also the recommendation made by the Royal Commission to the Department to make an increased grant under Section 67; but upon that point the right hon. Gentleman had said nothing. In point of fact, he (Mr. J. W. Barclay) thought the right hon. Gentleman had not considered the Report of the Crofters' Commission at all, or he could hardly suppose that he would have overlooked these important points. The Commissioners further recommended an increased supply of teachers to the Western Highlands; and he should like to hear what the right hon. Gentleman 1476 had to say upon that point. They also recommended the more extensive employment of women as school teachers, and commented upon the absence of higher class schools in the Western Highlands. These were points to which he thought they ought to invite the attention of the right hon. Gentleman with some persistency. The Highlanders on the West Coast had been, and were still, looking anxiously forward to see what was going to be done, to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. They had already been informed that there was to be no legislation during the present Session of Parliament; but they still entertained some hope that, as far as it was in the power of the Government, the recommendations of the Royal Commission would receive careful consideration, and that some attempt would be made to carry them into effect. The right hon. Gentleman was only asked to state, for the information of the Committee, and of the people who were so deeply interested in the matter, what the Department really intended to do, or if it intended to do anything. He (Mr. J. W. Barclay) was told that there were about 80,000 children on the West Coast of Scotland who were comprised in the Report of the Crofters' Commission, and that was a very considerable number. The right hon. Gentleman had shown himself very desirous to promote the technical and higher education of Scotland, and he deserved the thanks of the people of Scotland for the interest he had taken in the matter. At the same time, he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought not to neglect these poor people on the West Coast of Scotland. It seemed to him that they had special claims upon the attention of the Government. They had been very much neglected; they had very little ability to do anything for themselves; and in such a case as this it was naturally incumbent on the Department to stretch out to them a helping hand. They were looking forward now with considerable anxiety to what the Government would do; and he should have thought they would take advantage of the power they possessed to carry out to the fullest extent practicable the recommendations of a Royal Commission appointed by themselves. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give the Committee some satisfactory assurance upon the matter.
said, he wished to place before the Committee exactly what it was the Scotch Members asked for. The Royal Commission had reported in favour of certain proposals requiring legislation, and also certain administrative proposals. The matter had already been brought before the House, and the Government told them that they could not deal legislatively with the recommendations of the Committee this Session; but they might give effect to some of the administrative proposals. They had also been told that certain concessions had been made in reducing the guarantee, which was in itself a trivial matter, and not worth talking about.
said, he was only going to show that the administrative proposals had been refused, as well as those which were legislative. In the matter of education, the Crofters' Commission made six administrative proposals; and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) to say whether he intended to carry out any one of them. Those six proposals were the remission of school board debt in the Highland parishes, where the fees were excessive or abnormally large. The right hon. Gentleman had given an answer to them upon that question to the effect that he would not deal with it, and that he did not intend to remit the debt. [Mr. MUNDELLA: I did not say so.] Then, would the right hon. Gentleman do so, or would he not? He asked for something like a definite answer. As he had said, there were six recommendations. He had explained the first. The next was for an increased grant under Section 67. That would require some legislation. Did the right hon. Gentleman propose to give legislative effect to it? He did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to legislate this year; but he simply wanted to know whether he would legislate at all or not? He understood that the right hon. Gentleman did propose to legislate, and he hoped the Committee would be told something about it. The third suggestion of the Commissioners was that an increased grant should be given for average attendance, in order to meet the exceptional circumstances of the Highlands. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Hear, hear!] 1478 The right hon. Gentleman cheered that statement. Now, that was purely an administrative reform which could be effected by a stroke of the pen; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman if he intended to carry it out, or not? The next proposal of the Crofters' Commission was, that there should be a graduated grant for additional teachers. That was an administrative proposal, and could also be done by a stroke of the pen; and he would like to hear the right hon. Gentleman answer "Yea" or "Nay." The next proposal related to the establishment of high class schools. That, he imagined, was a subject which would require some consideration, and a reform which could not be carried out by a stroke of the pen. Therefore, they might fairly allow the right hon. Gentleman more time for the consideration of it. He now came to the last recommendation, which was that Gaelic should be made a specific subject, and be taught in the schools. Other Commissions and educational authorities had recommended the teaching of Gaelic as a means of instruction in the schools. The right hon. Gentleman said that this Commission alone had recommended it as a specific subject; but it must be remembered that this was the only Commission which had sat since specific subjects were introduced into the Scotch educational system at all; and, of course, it was the only Commission which had made any recommendation upon the matter. But Sir John Kay-Shuttleworth had lived and written long before the appointment of this Commission, and he had strongly recommended the adoption of this system. Long before the Commission was appointed, even early in the century, similar views were expressed; and in 1844 the absurdity was pointed out of teaching English to people who only understood Gaelic, by teachers who only understood English. Well, then, the six recommendations of the Commissioners were the remission of school board debt in Highland parishes; an increased grant under Section 67; an increased grant for average attendances, to meet the exceptional circumstances of the Highlands; a graduated grant for additional teachers; the establishment of high class schools; and, lastly, that Gaelic should be made a specific subject, and used as a means of teaching by 1479 Gaelic-speaking teachers. There ought to be a definite answer given by the right hon. Gentleman as to whether it was the intention of the Government to carry out any, or the whole, of these recommendations. He wanted to know whether the Government intended to give effect to any of the recommendations of the Highland Commission; or whether they intended to consign the Report of the Commission to the lumber basket, where slumbered so many Reports of Commissions on Scotch subjects?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he thought he had said all that was necessary upon this subject, and he was sorry he had not satisfied his hon. Friends the Members for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay) and Glasgow (Dr. Cameron). He had read the Report of the Crofters' Commission many times over, so far as that part of it which referred to education was concerned. The recommendations of the Commission, on that matter, were quite familiar to him; but with regard to the rest of the Report, he should be sorry to be required to pass an examination in regard to it. He had studied the Report with a great deal of care during the Easter holidays; but there had been very little time either for conference or action upon it. He had already explained to the Committee that the Code was obliged to be laid upon the Table of the House within a month after the meeting of Parliament, and that Code was the law for the present year. It was not easy to make all the changes which his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) asserted could be made with a stroke of the pen. Not a single one of those changes could be made, as the hon. Member appeared to think, by a stroke of the pen, or by the Lord President of the Council, or by the Lord President of the Council and the Vice President combined. There was not one of them that did not involve the consent of the Treasury, because it would lead to expenditure. He would run over them. The first was the remission of school board debt in the Highland parishes. What power did the hon. Gentleman suppose the Privy Council on Education had to remit debt? It was no more in his power to do so than in that of the hon. Gentleman himself. The second recommendation was for an increased grant under Sec- 1480 tion 67. That was a Statute Clause; and, as it did not come within the limit of the existing grant, it would require a new statute. The third recommendation was for an increased grant for average attendance to meet the exceptional circumstances of the Highlands; and that also could not be done without the consent of the Treasury. He would ask the hon. Member what kind of Report would come from the Audit Department, if the Privy Council were to allow increased grants for the Scotch schools? That recommendation also involved increased expenditure, and would require the consent of the Treasury. The fourth recommendation for a graduated grant to additional teachers was in the same position; and the fifth proposed the establishment of a high class school.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, that, of course, the Scotch Members understood that, as far as the Education Department was concerned, it could not carry out these recommendations of itself; but the right hon. Gentleman appeared there that night, as he understood, to answer for the Education Department, and they would expect from his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) an explanation of the views of the Treasury when those of the Vice President of the Council had been given.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the propositions contained in the Report of the Crofters' Commission were all matters to be considered by the Government, and sanctioned by the Treasury. It was for the Government, as a whole, to say whether, in the Highlands, there should be a larger expenditure of money in connection with educational purposes. If they came to that conclusion, nobody would be more happy to administer the grant than he would. The establishment of a high class school he could not deal with; but with regard to the introduction of Gaelic as a specific subject, he hoped to be able, and intended to deal with it. The matter, however, was not so easy as the hon. Gentleman seemed to think. Something must be done, in the first instance, to teach Gaelic to the teachers, it being a condition precedent to teaching Gaelic; and it should be understood by persons who also understood English. He should be most happy, as soon as he possibly could, to deal with the whole of the recommendations of the Commission.
said, the Committee had had nothing like a definite answer upon these points. His desire was to let the people of Scotland understand whether anything was to be done, as was promised the other night, or nothing at all. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney), since he assumed that position on the Treasury Bench, had become an adept in referring to other officials before he made an answer. He (Dr. Cameron) had asserted that these reforms could be done by a stroke of the pen; and if they could not be carried out by one stroke of the pen, it was quite certain that they could be carried out by two—one on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, and the other on the part of his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury. Let them put their heads together, and tell the Committee what was going to be done. The Government might depend upon it that the Report of the Commissioners would not be allowed to rest until the people of Scotland knew whether it was going to be acted upon, how far it was going to be acted upon, or whether it was to be pitched overboard altogether. Unfortunately, when they asked what the Government intended to do, there was always a put off, which was precisely what he protested against. He did not know whether the Secretary to the Treasury could give the Committee any definite information upon the subject or not; he had certainly not given anything towards instruction in the higher class schools. As a matter of fact, they never got anything for Scotland, but were put off from pillar to post; and that was what he complained of. The Government had told them that they meant to do nothing legislatively — only administratively; and he wished to know what they intended to do? They were constantly expressing their desire to do everything, and were proposing to do everything, and consider everything; but they invariably ended by doing nothing. He trusted the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to give them a satisfactory explanation.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he really thought the Scotch Members were entitled to some more definite statement from the Treasury, or from the right hon. Gentleman, upon that question. As his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow 1482 (Dr. Cameron) said, they had been put off from time to time. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department addressed pleasant words to them; he had told them the matter was going to be looked into, and they naturally expected the Vice President of the Council would have been able to tell them what was intended to be done. It appeared to him that the Government had not yet considered whether they would do anything or not; and he thought the most convenient course would be to postpone the Vote in order to give the Treasury an opportunity of consulting the Education Department with regard to the carrying out of the recommendations in the Report of the Crofters' Commission. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury that the question was one of very considerable interest in the Western districts of Scotland; and not only there, but among a great many people who took an interest in the place of their birth, and who had left the Highlands many years ago. If it was competent for him to do so, he would move that the Vote be postponed, in order to afford an opportunity to the Education Department for explanation, and to the Treasury for making some statement as to their intentions in regard to the recommendations of the Crofters' Commission.
It is not competent for the hon. Member to move the postponement of the Vote; he can only move its withdrawal.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that appeals had been made to him as to what the Government proposed to do with reference to the Report of the Crofters' Commission. The Report of the Crofters' Commission ranged over a great variety of subjects, and contained a considerable number of recommendations of great importance. They required to be considered carefully, not by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) alone, nor by the Treasury, of which complaint had been made, but by that select Body called the Cabinet. Until it came before the Cabinet collectively, it was impossible for him to say anything upon it; nor did he think that it was possible to consider the question in the present state of the Session, although, probably, it ought to be considered in the Recess. He should have thought that his hon. 1483 Friends would have understood that that was the state of the matter.
said, that the explanation of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Courtney) was perfectly satisfactory. They now knew that nothing would be done, and they fully understood the position of affairs. The explanation was perfectly satisfactory to this extent, that the people of Scotland knew exactly how they stood in the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.