HC Deb 09 August 1887 vol 318 cc1820-77

Order for Second Reading read.


I urn sure the House will forgive me if I occupy the attention of hon. Members for a few moments—and they will be very few, because I am sure that it will he most valuable that we should have an adequate discussion on the Bill—but I think hon. Members will admit that I had the misfortune to introduce this measure under somewhat adverse circumstances. I hope, looking at the manner in which I was obliged to introduce the Bill, that I may be now permitted to make a few observations. I think the importance of the Bill will be admitted by all. I am glad to notice that nearly all the Amendments which have been put down to the Bill begin with the statement that this is a subject deserving of all our attention and consideration. Now, Sir, I hear many objections to this measure, more especially with regard to its application to agricultural districts; but I should like to defer my remarks upon that point for a few moments, and to speak upon what might be called the primary object of the measure. I take the primary object of the measure to be the enlargement of the powers of the Science and Art Department at South Kensington under the administration of the Lord President and Vice President of the Council—the enlargement of their powers so as to enable them to supply technical instruction of a primary character to enable scholars who have passed the Sixth Standard of education, or an equivalent to that Standard, to have an opportunity of getting two or three years' more scholastic training in day or evening schools—in other words, giving them elementary technical instruction, not by any means teaching them, a trade, but affording them that training of the eye and the hand, either in woodwork or in ironwork, or in other subjects, and by that means giving them greater facilities for acquiring a trade. I think there are two great advantages to be gained by these proposals. In the first place, I think it a very great advantage that a student should have continuous training—that the best of our scholars should have continuous training for two more years; and I think that the second advantage will be in turning labour from markets which are now overstocked into new channels. It will be a great advantage to turn our scholars from many of the present desired means of obtaining a living—from those cravings after clerkships and other occupations which have long since been glutted, the supply having long since exceeded the demand. A great advantage will be to send the best of our scholars amongst the artizan classes, out amongst the great army of industrial competitors, better equipped than they would otherwise be for holding their own in the struggle. That, I take it to be, is the primary object of the Bill; and now as to some of the objections to the Bill. What is it to cost? I have heard urged against the measure that it will be a great instrument for increasing the rates. Well, with regard to that, I should like to divide the operation of the Bill, as it were, at once under two heads—that is to say, the head of expenditure which will come under the building powers that will be granted to Local Authorities for the extension of buildings; and the head of expenditure necessary to enable classes to be held in the existing buildings. With regard to this matter, I am strongly of opinion—and I think I shall be supported by many who have made a long study of the question—that, so far as the training which this Bill will afford is concerned, it will be found possible to provide a vast amount of it immediately in existing buildings. Well, if that be so, I should like, if I may be allowed to do so, to quote what the actual cost of this measure is likely to be as regards the ratepayers if this training is conducted in existing buildings. And here I may say that this technical instruction is not a now proposal. This special form of training has for many years past been tried in our Large centres; therefore, this is no now experiment as regards the subjects upon which instruction is to be given. Hon. Members, no doubt, have got information upon this head themselves; but I should like to quote one or two instances of what the actual cost has been where this special form of training has been, carried out in existing schools. I have one or two instances hero. I will first take an instance of an institute in Perth. This institution is an endowed school, it is true; but here is the exact sum which will provide for an education, such as I have described, for a year. The cost of setting up benches, the cost of tools, a lathe, a metal bench, and other sundries in this institute came to £80 10s.

An hon. MEMBER: How many boys?


Kindly allow me to finish. In that school 160 boys could easily be taught in each room for a session. There are 20 benches, with eight boys at each bench. This provides for the instruction of these boys at the rate of 4s. 6d. per head per annum. Therefore, in this institution, at all events, the chief expenditure -will be for the teaching. In this case the teaching is afforded by an Art master supplied by the establishment. Now I take another case, which is very similar. I take it from the paper read by Professor Rucker before the British Association. The case I have given shows the expenditure involved in setting up a workshop for wood and a workshop for iron. In the second case, I would mention the expenditure for fitting up benches, tools, lathes, and so on was £68—that was in Manchester, at an institution affording manual instruction. Therefore, when we come to the question of expenditure under this Bill, I think it is only fair to urge that, so far as this class of training is concerned—and it will be of au elementary charastcer—I think it only fair to say that the experiment is one which has for years past been fairly and fully tested. Therefore, I think it only fair to argue further that, as regards the expenditure of the rates on the class of training to be obtained under this Bill, it will be reduced to a minimum. There is one point I should like to deal with at this stage. It is complained that there is a distinction made in the Bill with regard to subjects which may earn grants, and it has been urged that the earning' of grants will add to the demand which will be made upon the rates under the Bill. That is perfectly true; but, at the same time, when subjects are taught in these schools which are in existence in connection with the Science and Art Department, if you take the grants given to the children and the fees which, the children pay, I believe it will be found that the demand which will be made upon the rates in this respect will be reduced to an infinitesimal amount. It may be argued what guarantee is there that, if you give these powers, the Local Authorities will not set up after all a very expensive kind of training of a secondary character? I believe we have this guarantee—that our artizan classes are united in demanding that there should be some safeguard against the teaching of trades. I believe that every form of instruction that actually taught a trade would meet with the greatest obstruction from the working and artizan classes of the country. [Cries of "No, no!"] I have had a great deal of information from the working classes on the subject. Protest after protest has been received from them on this subject. I could read many resolutions on the matter to the effect that this Bill, whatever it may be, shall not be a trade-teaching Bill. Another point I should wish to put before the House is this—that the effort this Bill will make will not be a solitary effort in the cause of technical instruction. I should like to point out to the House the enormous sums that are now being voluntarily spent in this country in respect of this class of instruction. I should like to inform the House, as it may not be generally known, of the vast sums being yearly spent in this way by the City and Guilds of London Institute. I apprehend that a measure of the kind which I ask the House to assent to will tend to stimulate the efforts that are being made by such bodies as this. the greatest praise is duo to the Clothworkers' Company and to its secretary for the admirable work it has done in this direction. They have established a largo Institute and Training College for teachers. I would point out that this measure will act as a feeder to establishments of this kind, and that it should be directed, not to cause any injury to such institutions, but rather to supplement their efforts by feeding them with the best class of scholars we can get. The question that arises is this—Is it not worth our while to make an effort in this direction, seeing how much has already been done in this country? Is it not worth while for us to make an effort to give our youth the benefit of that technical education to which they may have to look for much in the future; and in regard to the support that they may get from the institution that I have named and the grants that they may win there, it is not worth while to make a sacrifice for that purpose? Then I should like to refer for one moment to Clause 3 of the Bill, which is a clause which provides for an appeal to the ratepayers in case of a resolution being passed in the locality for the adoption of the Bill. Before I determined upon introducing; the Bill a great difficulty arose in our minds in this respect. I saw it was impossible to earn' out the provisions of such a clause as this in the Metropolis. Well, I had the honour to moot a number of Metropolitan Members from both sides of the House upon this matter; and the conclusion we have arrived at with something like unanimity is—and I propose to insert this provision in the Bill—that at the end of Clause 2, page 1, I should insert— Provided that the Local Authority shall not incur any expense on the erection and enlargement of any school building for the purpose of this Act until after the date of the election of the Local Authorities next after the passing of this Act. It is obvious when you come to bricks and mortar that a largo expenditure may be incurred, and the ratepayer may be fully burdened already. The point is, that no such work as that shall be done until an appeal has been made to the local ratepayers. I know that much objection is made to this clause by the other side, and that it is generally desired that this provision which I have read in connection with the Metropolis should be extended to all districts that come under the operation of this clause. In my opinion, the clause will work well. The scheme under the Bill is one which must be of very slow development, and what I want to do is to make the measure operate in such a way that full and ample notice shall always be given to the ratepayers to enable them to consider and discuss the matter before the Bill is put into operation. I believe that when a proposal under the Bill is made and has been fairly and frankly discussed amongst the ratepayers they will be able to come to a decision upon it when next the Local Authorities are elected. There are other provisions in the Bill to winch I would refer, such as this establishing classes in existing buildings. I propose that if the ratepayers should demand that a decision or poll be taken the ratepayers so demanding a poll should provide adequate security for the cost of such undertaking. It may be that I take a sanguine view of the matter; but from all the study which I have been able to give to the question, and from the knowledge I have been able to gather with regard to it, I believe that the expenditure in cases where the schools will be established in existing buildings will be so small that in no case will the poll be demanded. I, however, make this proposal—that if a poll is demanded those demanding it shall give security for the cost of it.

MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

Do we understand that that is to be previous to the vote of the Governing Body or afterwards?


I will answer that question presently. I should like to say one word with reference to an Amendment on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton). I do not know if I am in Order in doing this; but, if I am, I will proceed. I do not think the hon. Member gives sufficient credit to the permissive character of the Bill. I do not think it can be urged that the Bill does directly involve a charge on the rates. I think the word "may" may be here inserted. This measure is absolutely incomplete as regards its operations, and I am rather inclined to take credit for that than otherwise. There is a desire that we should proceed gradually as this is a new proposition; and I must say I cannot think it any disadvantage to be shut out from the Bill for twelve months or so until they have seen how it works elsewhere. In some places the measure would apply to a comparatively small number of children. As an experiment it is absolutely restricted to those children who have passed Standard VI.; and here I may say that, though I have been urged to lower the standard required in the Bill, I have felt myself unable to do so. I think that to take that course would produce nothing but disaster. It would make this at once a very expensive measure. I repeat that it is an experiment, and that, as such, it is absolutely restricted as I say. I regret that this Bill does so little directly as regards the training of our agricultural children; but I know for myself, speaking as a distressed agriculturist—not only as a landowner, but as an unfortunate farmer, and I believe many hon. Members who sit behind me will join me in this statement—that what we want in the training of our agricultural children is not so much the sort of training they would got under this Bill as the kind of I training they would get on model farms. They require a practical training. I regret that this Bill does not afford a practical training for agriculturists; but I do not know that the fact that it does not do that is a reason why agriculturists should reject it. What would be the result of applying the Bill in agricultural districts? I admit that it would be difficult in every isolated district for the Bill to apply, for the simple reason that the material is not there to carry on the schools. You would not be able to get a sufficient number of children in Standard VI. to fill the schools. But when the Local Government Bill is passed, then will he the time to extend this measure to all the districts throughout the country. I contend, however, that when it, is applied, it can only be applied in this way. You will have to collect your children from a considerable area, and when you have done that you will be able to train your agricultural children in the principles of agriculture. There are syllabuses for training in agriculture in the United Kingdom, as anyone may see who looks into the matter. No apparatus will be required in these agricultural schools, all you will want will be the building, which you will be easily able to obtain, and after that your only expenditure will be in teaching. I venture to say that the grant received from the State, plus the school fees, will cover more than four-fifths of the expenditure. I admit that this theoretical training is not so much what agriculturists want; but, so far as the measure itself goes, the training will throw hardly any now burden upon the ratepayers. As for this question of model farms, I, for one, should certainly advocate their adoption; but I would remind my hon. Friends that a system of model farms would not be so cheap a system as that under the Bill. I would refer to two model farms which hon. Members know very well, as they are notorious ones. Take the farm at Glasnevin, the Albert Farm and the Munster Farm. Last year the net cost of these two farms was something like £2,671. Therefore, however anxious we may be to advocate this system of model farms, though, no doubt, the work could be carried, out more cheaply than it is in these two instances, yet I would like to point out that when this measure is objected to as involving an addition to the rates, this sum of £2,671 spent on these model farms, if applied under the provisions of this Bill, would find, at 8s. per head, education for 6,678 children. Therefore, comparing the two systems, it is, I think, impossible to contend that the model farm system would not be a more expensive one than that system of training which I am asking the House to accept in this Bill. I have little more to say as to this measure. I have heard it adversely criticized, and I have heard, on the other hand, many urgent appeals made from all parts of the country that it should immediately be passed into law. It has, as I say, been criticized from various points of view. I am told that it is a Bill to establish free education. I do not know how that rumour ever gained credence, because one of the rules of the Science and Art Department which will administer this Bill especially demands that fees shall be paid. I am told by some that this Bill goes too far, and by others that it does not go far enough. I see it criticized most adversely in the journals devoted to the interests of the School Board; they say it aims at the destruction of the School Board system. I have heard the Bill criticized as being injurious to the voluntary school system. I can only say I have considered all these subjects most deeply, and I am, at all events, consoled in this—that it may possibly be that in this measure, which may be opposed from different points of view, we have struck the mean between the different contentions. Whatever the fate of this measure may be, I am certain of this—that the time cannot be long delayed when this question must be dealt with, although I know that this Bill may be adversely criticized as regards its unequal operation. I am quite certain that the acknowledged demand for this Bill must meet with great consideration at the hands of this House. It is long since we admitted that our industries were suffering most severely from the lack of industrial training on the part of our people. We have long admitted that, as far as our industries are concerned, we are practically fighting foreign countries with one hand tied behind our back, and that it is really time when we should see what we can do with both our hands. I admit the evil, and all I urge upon the House to do is to deal with the Bill in a practical manner, and to provide a remedy. I beg to move the second reading of this Bill.

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

MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the speech he has just made. He said everything which could possibly be said in favour of the Bill. I had hoped his speech would have boon such that I should have been able to withdraw the Amendment which I have put upon the Paper. I regret that the result of his speech, able as it has been, is otherwise. I regret I shall be obliged to move my Amendment in the interests of the artizans who want a Bill of this kind, and who see and feel that this Bill is inadequate, and in the interests of the ratepayers who are to pay for this Bill, and who know it is an unfair and unjust Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said perfectly truly that every Amendment which had been put down to his Bill declared the satisfaction of the Mover at the fact that this question was going to be taken up. Why, of course, I was glad the question was going to be taken up; I was glad the Government was going to take up the question of technical education; but I must say that I was amazed when I saw the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. Now, Sir, I do not intend to make a local taxation speech. [" Hear, hear ! "] You need not be afraid of that. I take it for granted that on both sides of this House, and especially at the hands of a Conservative Government, it is acknowledged that the incidence of local taxation is unfair and ought to be remedied. From the Government we have had nothing but fair words, and yet now, at the close of the Session, they bring down to us two tremendous Hating Bills. They, our own Government, pledged to relieve the ratepayers from the unfair incidence of taxation, have forgotten all their promises and their fair words, which are now transformed into very hostile deeds. Indeed, I almost fear that the prevailing epidemic has influenced the Members of the Conservative Front Bench, and that Mem bers of the Government think that they have a right to change their opinion suddenly and abruptly. They have told us often they intend to see that justice is done to the ratepayers; but they have forgotten all they said. Perhaps next Session or the Session after they will do something. Let me cite a few figures to show the present position of the ratepayers. the ratepayers are now in the unfortunate position of owing £185,000,000, and the Local Authorities who manage matters for the ratepayers are now spending a yearly income of £55,000,000. These are big sums, £55,000,000 of expenditure, and £ 185,000,000 of debt. It is upon these Local Authorities the Government intend to place another burden. My right hon. Friend says this is a very small burden. Let me point to the precedent of the education rate. We were promised at first that the education rate should never go beyond 3d. in the pound. It is more than 3s. in the pound now in some places. There are some 1,800 places where the rate is over 3d in the pound, and there are only 200 places where it is under 3d. If the rate for technical education begins very low it will soon be very big. We, who sit on this side of the House, are asked to shut our political eyes and open wide our political mouths. The right hon. Gentleman puts in food; but it is very indigestible—it is only half cooked. He has made no estimate of the effect of his Bill. I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to tell us something about the cost of the education this Bill proposes to give; but he has not done so. All he has told us is that the apparatus in two instances he mentioned cost 5s. per head per annum. But he has not estimated the number of persons whom he thinks will take advantage of this Bill. He has I not told us what buildings will be required, nor has he taken the trouble to define the instruction which will be given. I distinctly asked my right hon. Friend the other day something about all these matters; and he told me, with that transparent honesty which is the secret of his political success, that he knew nothing about the cost, or the buildings, or the number of——


I really must object to the interpretation which my hon. Friend in his good nature has put upon my words. I never said I knew nothing about these matters. What I said was that these matters must be left to the localities; that the localities will have to decide upon the curriculum; and if that comes within the regulations of the Science and Art Department they would get a grant.


At all events, the right hon. Gentleman considers that this Bill will not entail much cost. That is not the spirit in which to approach the great question of technical education. It is no trifling question as to whether we should maintain our industrial leadership. I think we ought to do something more than is proposed in this Bill, and in quite a different method, in order to maintain our leadership in the industrial competition of the world. This is a very big question. I do not venture to put it before the House as a question of no account, involving no expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council thinks that perhaps 20,000 persons may possibly take advantage of the benefits of the Bill; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the London School Board, my hon. Friend the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcestershire (Sir Richard Temple)—considers that 50,000 persons in London alone will avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. Fifty thousand persons in London alone ! My hon. Friend is a man of business and of figures. He says 50,000 persons in London alone will avail themselves of the benefits the Bill gives: but the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council thinks that not more than 20,000 persons in the whole of England will take advantage of the Bill. For my own part, I prefer to accept the opinion of so accurate a Member as the hon. Member for the Evesham Division of Worcestershire than the vague generalities of my right hon. Friend. My hon. Friend (Sir Richard Temple) thinks it will cost the London rate payers about £175,000, and that the fees will amount to 70s. a-year for each scholar. The House will agree with me that 70s. a-year will exclude every artisan who is earning from 20s. to 30s. a-week. I think, therefore, I am justified in saying that the Bill is inadequate as regards the artizan, and that it imposes a very heavy charge upon the ratepayer. But, Sir, let us see what is required in Germany for technical education. This education costs £5 per head. In France the cost is £8 per head in the very lowest class, and it rises by four classes to £120 per head per year. £120 a-year includes 45s. for a bottle of wine for the mid-day meal, which is, no doubt, a piece of interesting information for those who advocate penny dinners out of the rates.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

Does the hon. Gentleman say the cost of technical education in German elementary schools is £5 per head?


So I see from the Report of the Committee.


the hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken.


I adhere to my figures. Now, what will be the effect of this Bill upon voluntary schools? My right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council is very fond of tolling us that he is offering a great boon to the voluntary schools, because, for the first time, he is going to allow voluntary schools to be aided by a rate. I am not quite certain that he will be able, in view of the opposition of his Friends on the opposite side of the House, to carry his point, because his Friends opposite particularly object to any aid being given out of the rates to voluntary schools. But, after all, what is the so-called boon worth to the voluntary schools? Voluntary schools will never get it, because it is to be given or withheld at the pleasure of Board schools; and do you think it is very likely that Board schools will give a rate in aid of voluntary schools which are in competition with them? Why, Sir, you might as well expect the Carlton Club to subscribe to the funds of the Reform Club, or the Reform Club to subscribe to the Carlton Club, as to expect a Board school to set up a technical department in a voluntary school. It is utterly and entirely impracticable; not a single penny will be given to voluntary schools from the rates. Practically, voluntary schools are excluded from the operation of the Bill; and what will be the result? A fatal blow will be struck at the voluntary schools of the country. Not only will a fatal blow he struck at those schools, but a fatal blow will be struck at the second grade schools—endowed and unendowed. Both these classes of schools will be knocked out of the running, and the cost of the education which they now give will be thrown upon the rates. Such is the position you have to face; and I should like to ask hon. Members whether they quite appreciate what the result to the rates will be if voluntary schools are abandoned, as I am perfectly certain they will be abandoned in five years, if this Bill passes? There are now, in round numbers, 3,000,000 educated in voluntary schools. According to the School Board standard, the cost of these children is a little over 19s. per head per year—about £3,000,000. £3,000,000 will have to be provided out of the rates if the voluntary schools are given up. In addition to that, the schools and schoolrooms will have to be provided by the School Board; and the cost of providing school accommodation is, according to the School Board rate, about £12 per child—say £30,000,000 in the aggregate. If you strike down voluntary schools you place on the rates an initial charge of £30,000,000, and a yearly charge of £3,000,000. I declare that this Bill, if it is carried in its present form, will strike a fatal blow at the voluntary schools of the country. These are the difficulties which we have to face. Now, is it necessary, in order to provide proper technical education, that we should place upon the rates this tremendous burden? The Technical Education Committee, in their Report, suggest— That steps be taken to accelerate the application of ancient endowments to secondary and technical education. Here is a way out of the difficulty. Use the means you have. Use the secondary schools, whether endowed or unendowed, in the country, and have in each one of them a class or department for the technical education of artizans. And then the same Committee made the additional suggestion— The great national agricultural societies should give aid to the establishment in the counties of secondary schools for teaching agriculture. That Commission did not forget the agricultural community; but my right hon. Friend has forgotten them. He has entirely forgotten that there are such people as agricultural labourers, and yet I thought my right hon. Friends who sit on the Front Bench had taken the agricultural labourers entirely under their own wing. Well, there are, as anyone can see who reads the Report of the Technical Education Commission, a number of schools doing exactly the work the right hon. Gentleman, has described as the work we desire to be done. I want that work to be helped forward by grants out of the Consolidated Fund and not out of the rates. The axiom upon which we ought to go is the affiliation of our technical education to our secondary education, and not to our elementry education, and establishment of an artizan technical department in all the endowed schools. In that way we shall relieve altogether the rates, and we shall get a far better education. We ought, I think, to develop the means we have. We ought not to take a leap in the dark as it were. A Royal Commission is now sitting upon technical education, and I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman sent his Bill to that Commission and asked their opinion in regard to it? It is extremely important we should know what the Royal Commission think of the Bill of my right hon. Friend. The very questions which the Royal Commission propose to answer aro—What, if any, technical instruction there ought to be in elementary schools; under what conditions rate aid ought to be given to voluntary schools; and what should be the relations between the Central and Local Authorities as to the kind of instruction and payment by results? We should be rather acting in a hurry if we pass this Bill before the Commission has reported. By this Bill we are turning the whole system of our education topsy turvy; we are destroying our system of voluntary schools; and we are destroying our system of second grade schools. I say wait until the Report of the Royal Commission. We are promised a revision of local taxation. Before you put any more burdens on the ratepayers let that revision take place. You propose by this Bill to place an additional burden upon the wages, upon the lodging, upon the food of the labourers and the artizans, and before imposing that burden I ask you to make the incomes of the millionaires liable to local taxation. Before you make the unskilled labourer pay for the education of those who are above him in the social scale, I think you ought to place the great incomes of the rich under a like liability. I beg to move the Resolution which stands in my name—namely— That while this House is desirous of seeing increased facilities for Technical Instruction afforded, it is not prepared to proceed with a I measure which impedes a new charge on the ratepayers for that purpose, until such changes have been made in the incidence of local taxation as will secure the equitable contribution of all classes of the community to the rates.

COLONEL EYRE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)

I beg the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I second the Amendment which has just been proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton). Representing as I do a large agricultural constituency, the line I particularly wish to take has reference to the effect of the Bill upon the incidence of local taxation. I have no objection whatever to that part of the Bill which relates especially to technical education—indeed, I would go a little bit further than the Bill; I would even make technical education compulsory on a certain condition. The condition should be that if the nation has to benefit, as I believe it will do, by technical education, the nation ought to pay the whole of the expenses. It seems to me that it is unjust that in the case of a national question, and one of great interest like this, local interest should pay more than its share towards what the whole of the nation benefit by. The laws of our country for many years past have been in the direction of forcing a considerable sum of money directly into the land. Trustees, and especially the officers of Friendly Societies, hare been limited in their investments. They have been obliged to invest their money either in Government security, savings banks, or mortgages upon land. Any additional tax you put on land will, to a certain extent, injure the investments of the Friendly Societies T have mentioned. I am quite ready to admit it may be in the smallest degree. Let me call the attention of the House to the enormous sums of money which trustees or officers of Friendly Societies are at this moment investing in mortgages. The Nottingham and Manchester Unity of Oddfellows have a capital of about £13,000,000, which represents the savings of all the poorest classes of the community. Of that £13,000,000, considerably over half is invested in mortgages on land. I understand that by this Bill you wish to benefit the poorer classes. What are you doing? You are making a fresh mortgage on land by forcing technical education on the local rates. Every additional taxation that you put on land will more or loss injure the securities in which the working classes have invested their capital. I maintain that wherever there is great national benefit the nation should pay for it, and this technical education will be of enormous advantage to the whole nation. Not only that, but I believe it will be of special advantage to the agricultural interest. I believe it would be far better for many young children if they were learning practical and technical education in the fields at the present time than to be wasting their time learning lines of Latin and other subjects that can never do them any good—[Laughter]—hon. Members below the Gangway opposite may laugh; but perhaps they are not—I hope they are not—so well acquainted with agriculture as I am; but I know it is with the greatest difficulty that agriculturists can get any one of the ages of 14 and 15 who is able to be of any use to the farmer in assisting him upon the farm. In former times it was different, and a child lost nothing by it in health or ability, or even in education. I do not wish to occupy the attention of the House any longer. I have placed before the House the point which I maintain—namely, that this is an additional tax on land, and whatever the nation benefits by it it should be paid for nationally, and not locally.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words while this House is desirous of seeing increased facilities for Technical Instruction afforded, it is not prepared to proceed with a measure which imposes a new charge on the ratepayers for that purpose, until such changes have been made in the incidence of local taxation as will secure the equitable contribution of all classes of the community to the rates."—(Mr. Stanley Leighton.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


; I hope the House will excuse me for intervening for a few moments at this early stage of the debate between those who wish to speak upon the general effect of the Bill. I am anxious at once, on behalf of the Government, to correct a few of the misapprehensions which I gather from the two speeches we have hoard exist as to the effect of this Bill. Now, it has been argued, and especially by the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down, that this would be a tax on the land. I think I shall be able to show that the land need bear no share whatever of the burden that may be imposed by this Bill; but that, on the contrary, the point which is urged by the hon. and gallant Gentleman and also by my hon. Friend who proposed this Amendment—namely, that the contribution should come from national funds—would be more detrimental to the agricultural interest than the proposal contained in the Bill, and for this reason—that the agricultural interest contributes to the National Revenue in a large measure, and the burden upon those who pay the taxes upon land would be increased if the whole of the cost of this Bill should come out of national funds rather than out of rates. I would urge upon all hon. Members who object to any increase in the taxes upon land that this Bill is entirely voluntary in its operation, and that it will only be applied where the representatives of the ratepayers think it would bestow an advantage to the population. I am bound to say I think this Bill will have little operation in agricultural districts. Let us assume for a moment that the effect of this Bill will be what expect it will be—namely, that it will be adopted in large towns and not in agricultural communities—vrhat would be the result? Why, the rates would be paid by the towns, and not one shilling would fall upon the agricultural districts. How much more would it he against the interests of the agricultural community if those technical schools, founded in towns for the benefit of the manufacturing community and the industrial classes, should be supported out of the National Exchequer, to which the agricultural classes contribute largely? I own it seems to me more just that those classes who will derive benefit from the Bill should be taxed, rather than the whole population, including the agricultural community, which is not likely to derive any benefit from the Bill. If the Bill were such that, while its benefits were con fined to certain classes, other classes suffering greatly from depression were called upon to contribute to the cost of these technical schools in any large measure, I should say it was an unjust Bill, and that the whole of the financial arrangements would have to be revised. But as the Bill is drawn it appears to me the main point is this—that if a community thinks the Bill will be of advantage they can charge themselves to carry it out; but that other portions of the country which do not think it desirable to come under the operation of the Bill will not be charged, and in that portion of the country where the number of children are not forthcoming to render it desirable to inflict this charge the people go scot free, and will not be called upon to contribute to the expenses of the Bill. If that be so, would it be wise on the part of any portion of the country to resist a measure that would promote the prosperity of any other portion? I am sure no Member on this side of the House would wish to contend that there is not the greatest solidarity between the interests of the industrial classes and those of the agricultural classes; and if by this Bill we should enable the manufacturing and industrial classes to compete more successfully against the industrial classes of other countries, not only would our commercial and industrial classes benefit by it, but the agricultural classes of the whole country would have their full advantage from the greater development of our commerce and industry. If we can establish, as I believe we can, that the weight of taxation, the comparatively small addition to the public burdens will not fall on any part of the country that does not elect to secure the direct advantages of this Bill, I think we may all unite in giving these optional powers to those great centres of industry which so much desire them, and which are eon-tent to come under this Bill. As the Bill is drawn, I do not believe the rate in any single agricultural district could be increased, unless, indeed, it should be found that any particular agricultural community thought it could establish schools from which direct advantage might result to the agricultural class. I am prepared, on the other hand, to admit to the full that if this Bill is passed the advantage that will accrue from it establishes a serious claim on the part of the agricultural Community to call for similar measures in their own interest for similar development of whatever particular education may best be to the advantage of that community. It is not, perhaps, by the education of agricultural children after this fashion that you will be able to promote bettor farming, or that higher education of the kind now contemplated will directly affect agricultural interests. We may have to provide other measures. But the House, I am sure, will be under a heavy obligation to the agricultural community, if it passes this Bill to assist the industrial and commercial community, to pass similar measure, when called upon, in order to promote whatever form of education may best advance agricultural interests. On behalf of the Government I have to say that, while we promote this Bill, which we believe to be urgent and necessary in the present industrial condition of the country, we shall be perfectly prepared to examine hereafter in what way the agricultural community can best be served by further educational changes, by the establishment of Colleges or by such other arrangements as they may think necessary for promoting better agricultural knowledge and better farming throughout the country. That is a pledge we cheerfully undertake to give to those interested in agriculture. Then, Mr. Speaker, let me point to some—that I may call without offence—exaggerations in the speech of my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment. We have carefully considered the number of children who may derive some advantage from the present Bill, and I was startled to hear the figures to which my hon. Friend alluded, because we know the maximum number, though not the minimum number, of children whom it may affect. We know the maximum number of children who can derive advantage from the Bill are those who pass the Sixth Standard.


Or examination equivalent thereto.


Yes; but the children who reach Standard VI. cannot be multiplied indefinitely, We trust there may be au ever-increasing number; but the number of children are not there—they are not in existence—who would be able to pass the examination as suggested by my hon. Friend. What is the num ber of children who pass the Sixth Standard in England and Wales in one year? Searcely more than the number my hon. Friend assigned to the Metropolis alone. Sixty thousand children passed the Sixth Standard in England and Wales last year; but those 60,000 were not all boys. If half of them are taken to be girls, or I will give an outside figure and say there are 32,000 boys, that reduces the number considerably below the formidable figure mentioned by my hon. Friend. Of these 32,000 boys who pass the Sixth Standard in one year, there are a large portion who do not belong to the industrial and commercial classes at all, but who belong to the agricultural districts, and many of them will be scattered throughout the country, and will settle down to agricultural or other pursuits, which will not lead them to avail themselves of this higher technical instruction. The estimate of the Science and Art Department, who have great experience in the matter, is that they do not consider there will be more than some 4,000 boys who will ultimately avail themselves, under the present system, of the advantages of the Bill, and we have some guide as to the number by estimating the statistics of Manchester and other large towns. But, of course, this is for one year, and we must multiply that by the three years they will be under this additional training, and the estimate of the Science and Art Department is that at present some 12,000 boys would probably avail themselves of the arrangement made in every three years. Those figures have been carefully worked out, in order to supply that which my hon. Friend was justified in asking for—namely, the kind of number that might be expected to take advantage of this Bill. The House will see it is far from the formidable number alluded to by my hon. Friend. Perhaps my estimate may be under the mark, and I do not disguise my own opinion, that I should be glad if there were a larger number of boys who would avail themselves of this technical education. I should be glad if they rose from 12,000 to 20,000 and more; but if they do, I venture to repeat that they would only be admitted to the benefits of the measure on the distinct resolve of the ratepayers themselves. We are not laying upon the ratepayers any compulsory expenditure, and I should be glad to associate myself with those who see in this direction constantly increasing danger, and who are anxious to keep down the alarming amount of rates which is assuming proportions which rival the heavy Imperial taxation of the country. But in this particular instance we are not imposing rates on any Union, upon any School Board, upon any Town Council, or upon any Local Authority, that the ratepayers themselves do not desire to see this charge imposed upon; and hon. Members will have seen from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council that we propose to surround the adoption of this measure with every precaution, so as to secure that the ratepayers themselves shall have the matter in their own hands; that no surprises shall be sprung upon them; that they shall have ample opportunity to make up their minds. I perfectly appreciate the anxiety that exists with regard to the question; but though I do not know what my hon. Friend behind me will say to it, I repeat what we have repeated before for so many years—that although our hopes have been disappointed, we do in the nest Session, of Parliament, and I trust in the first months of the next Session of Parliament, intend to deal with the question of rating, and revise that system which has given rise to so many heart burnings, and which is presumed to involve so much injustice. We shall deal with that question; but, in the meantime, I trust no action will be taken to retard this optional Bill through the fear, which, I think, is delusive, that there will be an increased burden placed upon agricultural communities. Do not let us, on that account, retard what we believe a national advantage—namely, the improvement in technical training of the artizans of our industrial and manufacturing towns. We ought not to prevent them from making use of these arrangements which are entirely optional, and which otherwise could only be obtained at great expense. If this were a Bill which throughout the country was going to increase the rates, I should say Her Majesty's Government ought not to propose it; but in the form in which it is proposed we believe it may safely be adopted, and that the ratepayers need not be afraid of it, while, at the same time, it may satisfy a need that is generally admitted to be urgent, and which has got the sympathy of the great majority of the people of the country.

SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)

Sir, I hope that, as being connected with elementary education throughout the Metropolitan area, I may be allowed to say a few words in defence of this Bill, and to explain those formidable figures that have been, not quite correctly, attributed to me. I hope to show in a few words that this measure is educationally sound, and financially safe as regards the ratepayers. I would ask my hon. Friends who sit around me to consider what is the object of the Bill. It is to enable the Local Authority to provide technical instruction with part of the moneys raised by any district local rates. And why is it necessary to give this enabling power? Because those Local Authorities have constantly been endeavouring to apply a portion of their funds to this most important national object, and have found such application to be illegal. I speak from painful experience, as I and my colleagues in the finance department of the School Board of London have several times tried and been stopped by the Auditor of Public Accounts. I would ask my hon. Friends around me to remember this Bill is only to enable, and not to compel, and is to be administered by the Local Authority. And what is the Local Authority? Why, it is the School Board. Those School Boards are answerable to the ratepayers, being elected triennially by them; we are really the creatures of our masters the ratepayers. I speak feelingly, as we shall all have to give an account of our stewardship next November 12 months. I ask my hon. Friends who sit around me, and who are so alarmed about this measure, to consider whether it is likely, or even possible, that the School Board for London, or for any other great industrial centre of the country, would dare to go contrary to what they knew to be the wishes and feelings of the ratepayers? I am quite sure that if they ventured to do so they would not have long to remain in office, as they are elected triennially, and an election must come in a few months. This measure will only be called into effect if the ratepayers on the whole desire it, as I earnestly hope they will; therefore I, for one, believe it is not necessary to have what is now known as the plébiscite arrangement. My first care, when I heard of this measure, was to ascertain from my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council that this plébiscite arrangement was not to apply to the Metropolis. Being secure of exemption, ourselves, I am sure we hope all our brother and sister towns may be equally exempt. I hear now from my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council that we are not to build any new buildings until after the next election. As regards London, I think I may venture to say that would not be complained of; because, if this Bill were now to pass into law, I trust we should be able to give accommodation in all those 400 magnificent buildings we have in various parts of the Metropolis for what may be called the initial classes of technical instruction under this Bill. Therefore we should not need any new school building until after November 12 months, the dies irœ of the members of the School Board. But I venture to point out that by this arrangement the erection of new buildings will be sure to be one of the election cries in November 12 months; and, looking forward to that dreadful day, and knowing how many election cries there will be all over the Metropolis, I am sorry to anticipate that we shall have still one move cry. But, if it must be, we submit; though, at the same time, I do hope it will be found possible to exempt us from this condition, as we have been already exempted from the other condition. I am anxious to point out to my hon. Friends around me that the cost of this technical instruction is to be defrayed from the local rates, as set forth in Clause 4. I have heard sometimes there is to be a separate rating; but my hon. Friends will perceive that that is not the case. There is not to be any separate rate whatever. The cost is to be defrayed from the local rates, and that means the rates now levied in all towns in the country for elementary education. Therefore, the expense of the technical instruction will be mixed up with the rest of the expense of elementary education; and if the administration is prudent, the School Boards ought to save some portion of their own expense; and if they are careful to recoup themselves as much as possible by fees I hope that this new expense will not be appreciable—perhaps it will hardly be felt at all. Thus there ought to be no additional burdens on the ratepayers. I must remind those who feel nervous about this that it will apply to those children of the better classes whose parents are well-to-do, and who will be able to pay the fees. I am sure all London know I can answer for the School Board here that we shall do exactly as much as we can; and I have no doubt that our colleagues in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and elsewhere, will do the same. Therefore, it is not correct to say this measure proposes to give free technical instruction to the masses; it is nothing of the kind. There will be no cases on the free list, otherwise than in a few incidental cases of youths of exceptional genius and talent, who would be selected by examination, and who may obtain access either free or at a very low fee. It is only those children of extraordinary talent to whom we wish to give a chance to rise and achieve distinction through their own industry; it is to them alone that anything like free education will be given. I am again anxious to point out that my remarks hitherto have applied to School Boards; but School Boards are not the only institutions that are to benefit by this measure. The voluntary schools are to benefit in an equal degree, and to those of my hon. Friends around me who doubt that I would refer particularly to Clause 4 of the Bill and its various sections, which lay down, as specifically as possible, that these funds are to be applied to other schools besides those under the School Board, and that means the voluntary schools. I confess I have listened with the greatest pain and apprehension to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire on this subject. He seems to think there is enmity between the School Board and the voluntary schools. I venture to affirm there is not. Why, Sir, it is quite the contrary in the Metropolis. The majority of the present School Board for London are distinctly favourable to the voluntary system, and were elected upon that ground after election pledges having been given. I can answer for myself, and several of my colleagues, that the promotion and prominence of the voluntary system of education is among the dearest and nearest of our hopes; and yet we are told, if we have to apportion a part of these funds to the voluntary schools, it will be done in a grudging spirit. Why, Sir, I cannot imagine anything more contrary to the fact. It will be our duty, as well as our pleasure, to take care that the benefits of this measure shall be meted out to the voluntary schools equally as to our own schools. It will be our clear legal obligation to do this under Clause 4; and if there should be the slightest doubt as to the extent and stringency of that obligation, I entreat that words may be inserted in Committee that may make this absolutely certain according to legal phraseology. As I have already pointed out, only a, small portion of the children in the voluntary schools have passed the Sixth Standard, and this measure could only apply to them. Supposing, then, that the voluntary schools were to send their children to our schools for technical instruction, instead of receiving a portion of the funds from us—that is to say, if they prefer to come to us, instead of receiving a subsidy from us—that at the best, or the worst, would only take a mere fraction of the 400,000 children who are happily in the voluntary schools of London. Therefore, I can assure my hon. Friends that this idea of injury to the voluntary schools can be described by nothing- short of the common term "bogus." Then I must point out that this instruction is not to be given to everyone, but only to those children who are tit and able to avail themselves of its advantages. Therefore I, for one, was very glad to perceive that it is provided in the Bill that no child shall be eligible for this instruction unless he or she has passed the Sixth Standard. That was the Standard that occurred to me and several of my colleagues on the London School Board before we heard of the introduction of this Bill. I know it will be said that the Sixth Standard is too high. It appears that some of ray hon. Friends on the other side of the House think that the Fifth Standard is high enough. But I would commend to their attention the potent argument used by the Vice President of the Council in favour of the Sixth Standard. We must not make the benefits of this scheme too common; and when I speak of Standards, may I direct attention to the figures attributed to me by the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division of Shrop shire? I am answerable for having written of 50,000 children as likely to come under this scheme of technical education. But when I did so, I was speaking of what might ultimately happen not in the dim and distant future, but in a future removed by unknown, years from the present time. I have here the paper from which these figures were taken; and I find what I wrote was this—that we hoped soon to have 10,000 scholars in the Sixth Standard in London, that that number might rise to 20,000, and ultimately it might rise to 50,000. That was presented to the House, no doubt, in perfect good faith; but still in quite a different way by the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton). Now, I have one more point to submit to the House, and that is this—that this instruction is really to be scientific, although elementary. And when the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division says that this is indefinite, I would refer him to Clause 8 of the Bill, which lays it down that technical instruction consists of those branches of Science and Art which are prescribed by the Science and Art Department; and those who refer to the Rules and Regulations of that Department may find out immediately what those branches are. And as for me and my colleagues not having thought out what we mean by technical instruction, T would refer to the fact that we have drawn out a curriculum, accompanied by a time table. Those who know anything of these matters will know that, having done this, we have worked out the scheme to its ultimate details. This scientific instruction is to be separate from the manual and industrial instruction which is sometimes spoken of by some of my hon. Friends. Of course, this manual and industrial instruction is co-ordinate with and auxiliary to technical instruction, but it is a very different thing, and at our School Board it is never spoken of as technical; it is called manual, which is a better and a more accurate name. I regret that the benefits of this measure do not extend to the agricultural constituencies, one of which I represent in this House. But if the benefits of this measure do not accrue to them, neither need they be under any apprehension of having to bear its burdens Still, I think that technical instruction is as much wanted by the rural as by the urban population, and I hope that if we now have this measure for the towns we shall hereafter have a sister measure for the counties. I hope that if my Colleagues in the representation of the counties will now help us to pass this measure for the towns, that when the time comes we shall help them to pass something as good or better for the counties. One word before I sit down with regard to the School Board for London, with which I am connected. I believe that it is a magnificent organization; that it has excellent buildings, and a highly trained stall; and though I do not presume to speak in its name—no one can exactly answer for the Board—I can answer for myself and some of my colleagues, that the Board generally is animated by the sincerest and heartiest desire to do its best for this noble cause of technical instruction, and is anxious, in conj unction with the voluntary schools, to see that there shall be established in this Metropolis a system of technical education worthy of the greatest manufacturing centre in the world.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

I feel that we are conducting this discussion under the greatest possible disadvantage in having to deal with this great and important question at nearly an hour after midnight. It is impossible for us adequately to discuss the question under consideration at the present moment; and it is also a great disadvantage that the country cannot express its opinion on the subject. Still, I am not going to quarrel either with the time or the opportunity that presents itself to take a step in advance in the direction of technical education. Since I have been in the House I have been always ready to accept any measure advancing the cause of education from any Party, and also under any circumstances. I am anxious to give my support to this measure, although it has some features which are very repugnant to me, which I think to be unnecessary, and which I am sorry to see coupled with education. I acquit the Vice President of the Council of the authorship of Clause 2. I believe it has not been imposed by the Vice President on us, but has rather been forced on him; and after what he has said to-night I hope that the measure which he considers sufficient for the Metropolis will be regarded as sufficient for the country. We do not ask more than that we should be put in the country on an equal footing with the Metropolis, and we shall not accept less. Indeed, rather than accept less, I should prefer to see this measure postponed to another year. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: No, no !] I am astonished that an hon. Gentleman, who is the champion of municipal rights, should be willing to put all the enterprising towns in the North of England in a worse position than the whole of the Metropolis and Scotland. I will not be a party to that, nor do I believe that the Government can desire it, I think, indeed, that the Vice President has to-night sketched out a plan as applicable to London which may also be made applicable to the whole of England and Wales. Now, I must say that I should like to have heard something of a higher tone pervading this discussion. I was sorry that the Vice President of the Council felt obliged to adopt almost an apologetic tone, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer a persuasive one, in order to induce hon. Gentlemen opposite to adopt this measure. What are the facts of the case? You have had a Royal Commission sitting for three years, and investigating all the systems of technical education throughout the world. They have reported that our industries are suffering grievously, because we have hitherto neglected technical education. But, beyond that, you have had another Royal Commission on Trade Depression presided over by the late Lord Iddesleigh, and that Commission has also reported that one of the gravest causes of trade depression is that we have allowed ourselves to fall into the rear in matters of science and art and technical education. I should like to quote from one of the last speeches of Lord Iddesleigh delivered in December last. He said— Depend upon it that our rivals on the Continent—if we are to look upon them as rivals—will press us hard. They are advancing very fast, and the supremacy of Germany particularly is now beginning to make itself felt. Nothing can be more remarkable than to see that German energy, which displayed itself so conspicuously in the Franco-Gorman War, is pushing forward in every direction, and is absorbing, to a very great extent, all the avenues to industrial greatness and power. That was a speech which Lord Iddesleigh made in December last; but the last speech he made was even a stronger speech on this question than the one I have quoted. I will refer to one passage in it, in which he said that— Parenthetically he might remark that, having been himself for the last two years engaged in the conduct of a Commission which was to inquire into the condition of trade and agriculture in this country, he had had very strongly impressed upon him as Chairman—as it had also been very strongly impressed upon his Colleagues—the very great importance of extending and improving the technical education of the people of this country. Lord Iddesleigh then went on to argue, in the most forcible language, that it was of the utmost and the most vital importance that we should not delay dealing with this question. Then let me remind the House of a speech made by the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire, in which he spoke of the vital importance of not neglecting this question. Professor Huxley, in a letter to The Times, said, too, that— The organization of industrial and commercial education is not the least of these great problems. That it has to be solved, under penalty of national ruin, proves to be no mere alarmist fancy. I believe this to be the case. I have advocated the cause of technical education for 30 years, for I have seen how, slowly but surely, year by year, and step by step, the Germans, more than any other nation, have made advances, solely through the superior instruction of their people. I wish I could impress on the House what the Germans themselves feel on this subject. I have here one of the latest authorities, the work of Dr. Conrad on German Schools and Universities, which is preceded by a preface written by my hon. Friend the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce). What does he say? He speaks of the effect of this education in its bearings on the national economy, and says— It is at present with our working class in general as with the individual soldier in our present system of war; there is in both cases much greater scope than formerly for independent thought and action. From knowing only the new state of matters, we have lost the standard for estimating the greatness of this change, and an idea of it can only be formed by going back with the elderly people among us to former decades, or by a comparison with different countries. The present writer has directed special observation to this point, and has established the superiority of the German as compared with the English workman. No doubt, the Englishman, by his enormous perseverance, and his wonted diligence and sense of order, gets through considerably more work in the sphere of action to which he has been long accustomed; but he is far behind the German in capacity of adapting himself to new circumstances, and in executing on his own reflection and independently a complicated task. The same feature is noticed as well among artizans as among factory workers, and we have been repeatedly confirmed in our opinion by large English employers of labour who know Germany well and by German workman who had lived for years in England. This, however, is only the result of the better and more general training which our working class obtained in our schools, and especially in the better class of our lower burgh schools. An increased attendance at these, therefore, is in general to be encouraged. And then he goes on to show how their artizans are excelling ours. I have myself seen, as a consequence of the adoption of technical education, not only the increased facility of German workmen, but their increased adaptability in the development of new trades and diversities of industry—a matter of still greater importance, and one of greater importance to this country than to any other country in Europe. I hope that we shall all agree that this is a question of vast importance. [" Hear, hear ! "] I accept that cheer as an indication of general assent; but why, then, did the hon. Member for the Oswesiry Division of Shropshire talk about the incidence of taxation, and the propriety of putting off the question of technical education until the question of the incidence of taxation is settled? I should myself be glad to see that question settled soon; but I think that when it does come on for settlement it will be found that there are some things not so pleasant to do as to talk about. There will be some such people who will then have things brought home to them—if the subject is dealt with in a proper manner—in a way that they have not yet realized. But when hon. Members talk of local taxation, they should remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave £250,000 out of his Budget for the relief of one class of local taxation. I venture to assure the House that 10 per cont of that amount will, for the next few years, be sufficient to pay the drafts on Imperial taxation under this Bill, I wish, indeed, that instead of 10 per cent it might be 50 per cent. If it were the larger sum, so much the better. Lot us have the courage of our convictions. Do not let us shirk this matter, if it be, as I believe it to be, vital to the interests of the country. If that be so, are we goings as Professor Huxley said, to spoil the ship for a half-pennyworth of tar? Are we going to lot the matter fall into arrear as hitherto? Take the matter of modern languages. We have allowed the people of other countries, and especially the Germans, to become our intermediaries in commerce, because? we have neglected the teaching of modern languages. What are the Government about to do for the teaching of modern languages? I suspect they are not going to give a farthing. Modern languages are not included in. the curriculum of the Science and Art Department. And there is nothing in this Bill that authorizes the grant of a farthing for modern languages. I hope, however, that they will soon be included in the curriculum. The grants under this Bill will be wholly inadequate, so long as they are confined to the subjects included in the curriculum of the Science and Art Department. we want grants not only for abstract but for applied science. If, for instance, you want to encourage proficiency in dyeing, you must give us a dyeing grant, and so on. The hon. Member opposite talked about this kind of education costing £5 a-head in Germany. [An hon. MEMBER: Five marks.] No; it is over that. But the whole cost of the education of a pupil for a year in a German real schule is only 76s., 38s. of which is paid by the State. If, indeed, the hon. Member was talking of the higher technical schools of Germany, such as those at Charlottenburg, at Aix-la-Chapelle, or at Zurich in Switzerland, then, no doubt, the expense might be higher. And when I mention Zurich, let me remind the House of what was done by the Swiss at Zurich. A Member of the Swiss Diet applied for a reduction of the grant to the University of Zurich. An independent inquiry was ordered, and the result of it was that the Federal Parliament increased the Vote, and at this moment £20,000 per annum is given as a Federal grant to the University of Zurich, because, as the Swiss say, "it has paid us well." And it has. Because it has converted the Swiss from being a nation trading only in the flesh and blood of their people as mercenary soldiers into a great industrial and trading nation, and that, too, although they were without either a harbour or a mine. Let me now pass on to another point, and tell the I hon. Member for the Oswestry Division that there is no danger that this Bill will injure the voluntary schools. We have for some time had a school at Sheffield giving technical education of good quality. At Manchester there is a school which gives excellent technical instruction. Indeed, there is a better laboratory there than at many a University, Well, has the school at Manchester; has the school at Sheffield; has the institution given in either of these schools injured the voluntary schools? No; on the contrary, there are scholarships under which those pupils who pass the Fifth Standard can enter these schools, and through those scholarships the children of the voluntary schools as well as those of the board schools enter these technical schools. I should not have thought that scientific teachings could have been made matter of sectarian difficulty. I hope the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division will dismiss from his mind this fear of injury to the voluntary schools, and that the hon. and gallant Member for the Gainsborough Division of Lincolnshire (Colonel Eyre) will equally do away with the idea of this measure diminishing the security for mortgages on land. The Vice President has spoken of the measure as one to increase the powers of the Science and Art Department. Well, I am afraid it will not enlarge their powers much in the way of making grants. I had hoped that the Government would have shown that they care enough for technical education to give us something out of the national funds to stimulate and develop local efforts. It is not fair that they do not do so. Still I will take the measure, in the hope that they will soon give grants for all the subjects taught in the technical schools. Now, there is something to be said about the cost of the technical education to be given under this Bill. That cost must necessarily be small, because it is confined within very narrow limits. You are not setting up great and important institutions, but are simply allowing School Boards and Town Councils gradually and tentatively to feel their way to a system of technical education. There will be but a small expenditure, either of rates or grants, during the first few years that this experiment will be made. That being so, I think the experiment might well have been made without raising any alarms, or introducing any difficulties as to the proposed plébiscite. Nothing has done so much injury to the Bill as the 3rd clause. Bradford, Nottingham, Sheffield, and other towns have threatened either to petition against the Bill on account of that clause, or, at least, to petition against the clause. And I would really ask the Government—" Is it fair that you should invite a conflict of opinion on a question where there should be no conflict? "You are creating a discussion—almost a sectarian discussion—on a question on which there can be no difference of opinion. And for this purpose you are inviting any 50 ratepayers to call for a poll of the town, which they say would cost £1,000 at Bradford. You say that the fact of a poll being thus costly will act as a security against persons lightly resorting to it; but the truth is that the people who will call for a poll will not care for an outlay of £1,000 at the charge of the ratepayers. And what will be the. result of this poll? You will by it get persons committed against technical education, and hereafter they will be against technical education. Why have this division? we are willing to take every security in the interest of the ratepayers; but why do you treat us in England worse than the people of Scotland, where you know that you dare not introduce this poll? Or why is there to be a plébiscite for the rest of England, while you do not introduce it into the Metropolis? Why, I ask, should there be a plébiscite for the rest of the country and none for the Metropolis? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) know that at this very moment in Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle, and Manchester, they are educating their children at much less per head than is the case in London, and yet a plébiscite is to be imposed on those who have worked the School Board system with, economy, while it is not to be imposed on those against whom the authorities are constantly making the charge—I do not say they are making it justly—that they are working it by extravagant and excessive taxation? I say that the rule it is proposed to adopt in this matter is a most invidious one; and I will also tell the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Hart Dyke) that, much as I value the step proposed to be taken by this Bill, nevertheless, if Clause 3 is to be allowed to stand on its present footing, I will put a Notice against the Bill to reject it on the Motion for going into Committee. I say it is not fair to deal with the Municipalities in this way, and to put them to all the expense that would be involved by the adoption of this clause. There would be nothing but bad feeling arising out of it, and it would be very unwise to force this state of things upon it. I will now leave this part of the subject; and I leave it to the good sense of this House and of the country generally, in the hope that the clause will be dropped at once. I nest come to the question of the Standards. Why, I ask, is it that you propose to take the Sixth Standard in England, where the number of children who pass that Standard is lower than in Scotland, and the Fifth Standard in Scotland, where the number is much higher than in England? [An hon. MEMBER: The Standards are not equal.] I beg pardon; the Standards are equal; and I will warrant it that the boy who is able to pass the Sixth Standard in England would also be able to pass it in Scotland. In point of fact, if you were to apply the same tests to the Scotch schools that are applied to the English schools, you would find that you were putting the Scotch schools in a difficulty. We have screwed ours up more than has been the case in Scotland; and our Sixth Standard is much more, rather than less difficult, as compared with that of Scotland. Let me point out to the House exactly how this matter stands. What, let me ask, is the number of children presented, not passed, in the different Standards? The number presented in Standard II. is stated at 565,000; the number presented in Standard III. is 550,000; the number presented in Standard IV. is 454,000; in Standard V. the number presented is 265,000; while in Standard VI. the number presented is only 103,000. These figures, it must be remembered, apply to the numbers of children who are presented, but all of whom do not pass, and one-half of these are girls. Now, why should we not begin with the Fifth Standard in England as well as in Scotland, seeing that there are so few children who pass out of our schools in the Sixth Standard? The Government say that nobody shall receive technical; education under this Bill unless he can produce a certificate that he has passed the Sixth Standard. If this be so, and you limit the operation of the Bill to those who have passed the Sixth Standard, the result will necessarily be that very few will have the chance of obtaining the technical education it proposes to confer. Why, 20,000 children passed the Fifth Standard in the course of the year. Why not let them have the opportunity of obtaining something in the shape of technical education, and of carrying on their literary education at the same time? They could not possibly pursue a course of scientific study, involving the writing of notes and the reading of test-books, without continuing their whole education; and as I think, therefore, it will be a deplorable thing to limit the technical education it is intended to give to the Sixth Standard, I trust that this House will be pleased to dispenses with that limitation. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council has, in the course of the speech in which he moved the second reading of this Bill, quoted to the House some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Education. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had had the courage to do what the Royal Commission suggested—namely, to put England on an equality with Scotland. What the Royal Commission recommended was that the Standards should be raised and put on an equality throughout the United Kingdom. You make Standard III. the minimum for half-timers, and Standard V. the minimum for full-timers in Scotland. Ono of the best educated towns in this country—Huddersfield—was only 20 years ago one of the worst. There the Standard for half-timers is IV., and for full-timers VI., and no difficulty is experienced either by the manufacturers or by the parents. You would confer an immense advantage throughout the whole of England if you would only have the courage to do Something like this. I must apologize to the House for having spoken at such length; but I should have liked to have said a good deal more, for I have not said one-half of what I might have said had time been more propitious. But I do ask, with regard to this question of the Standard, and also as to Clause 3, that the Government should make some distinct pronouncement by which we shall be able to get rid of these two blemishes on the Bill, so that we then can all heartily support the measure. and help the Government, as far as we can, to do something for the benefit of the country.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford):

I am sorry, Sir, to interpose in this debate; but in doing so I shall only occupy the time of the House for a few moments. I hope, therefore, the House will allow me to state, in as few words as possible, the grounds upon which I differ from my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke), and upon which I am induced to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton). Now, Sir, I would ask the House to consider, in the first instance, what is the Amendment which has been moved to the Motion for the second reading of this Bill? It is this— That while this House is desirous of seeing increased facilities for Technical Instruction afforded, it is not prepared to proceed with a measure which imposes a new charge on the ratepayers for that purpose, until such changes have been made in the incidence of local taxation as will secure the equitable contribution of all classes of the community to the rates. Why, Sir, that is just one of those Resolutions—just, if I may say so, one of those old-fashioned, full-flavoured Tory Resolutions—which, I must confess, I myself and all my hon. and right hon. Friends now seated on the Government Bench have been in the habit of persistently and annually voting for during the last 18 years in which we have sat in the House of Commons; and I want to know-why we are to change our course on the present occasion? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) has told us to-night. He said, in answer to my hon. Friend behind me, that, in the first place, the land need not bear any share in the new taxes that are to be imposed under the operation of this Bill; secondly, that if the new taxes were placed on the Consolidated Fund, such, a procedure would have the effect of injuring the agricultural interest far more than the provisions of this Bill; and, thirdly, that the Bill is a voluntary measure, and will, in all probability, have very little opera tion in the agricultural districts, the addition to the burdens of the agriculturists in those cases where the Bill might be adopted being exceedingly small. It is quite true, and I fully admit this part of the argument, that the land need not bear any further addition to its present burdens on the passing of this Bill; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot for a moment deny that it may have to bear such additional burden, and that probably in many cases we may have to incur extra taxation of this kind. With regard to what he has said about the Consolidated Fund, my answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that, speaking as a Representative of the agricultural interest, we are perfectly prepared to take any risk that may arise under those circumstances. As to the imposition of only comparatively small burdens on the land through the operation of this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman himself cannot deny that there is, at all events, some danger of the agriculturists' burdens being increased as a result of this measure, and what we say is that we are not prepared to accept the risk of any additional burdens. It is precisely because there is a risk of that kind that we are with great regret compelled to oppose the Bill as it stands at present. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer also held out to us a bait. He said—" If you give us this Bill to-night, it will become our duty in the next Session of Parliament to carry whatever measures in regard to the subject which may be deemed most to the interest of the agricultural party." The most effective reform in educational matters that I know of, as far, at least, as agriculture is concerned, would be this—that the sons of agricultural labourers, the boys who formerly used to work in the fields, should be allowed to go back to work in the fields at a considerably earlier age than they do at the present time. But this is really not a reform to which the Government or my hon. Friend would think of acceding for a moment; and therefore I must be allowed to say I do not derive any very great consolation from the promise the right hon. Gentleman holds out to us that if we will only accept this Bill we shall in the next Session of Parliament have an educational measure brought in that will confer great benefit on the agricultural interest of this country. And now, Sir, I desire to say a word or two in reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). The right hon. Gentleman appealed to us on this side of the House to aid in passing this measure, as one of vital interests to the artizans and working classes of this country. We have no objection to pass this Bill, or any measure of the kind; on the contrary, we have every possible sympathy with it; we agree with the right hon. Gentleman that a measure of technical education would undoubtedly be for the benefit of the people of this country; but what we contend is, that this measure is intended to promote a national object and to serve a national purpose, and that consequently the cost of putting it in operation ought to be defrayed out of the national funds. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) contrasted what is being done in Germany with the system adopted in England, and pointed out that the technical education afforded in Germany is one of the reasons why that country is so rapidly catching us up hand over hand in her competition with us in the manufactures we send to countries all over the world. But the educational system is not by any means the only difference between this country and Germany, The right hon. Gentleman quoted Lord Iddesleigh. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, has he ever studied the Report of the Royal Commission on the Depression of Trade over which Lord Iddesleigh presided?


Yes, I have, and I quoted from it.


The right hon. Gentleman says he has studied it; and, that being so, I ask him did he not find another great difference between this country and Germany in this respect, that this great increase in their progress towards catching us up in regard to our manufactures has been accomplished by Germany under a system of Protection to which he would not for a moment agree——


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; the Report states exactly the contrary. It is only quite recently that Protection has been adopted in Germany, and the German people have suffered from it.


The right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that if the Report proves anything at all it has proved this, that Germany has made the enormous advance to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded owing to the adoption of the system of protection. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, will not agree in this for one moment, but it will be remembered, as we were told the other day, that we are the only civilized country in the world that does not approve of protection. I do not, however, wish to be led into a discussion of this character. I would rather in adhere strictly to the question which is now before us, and that question, as far as I am concerned, is this—namely, whether the burden which will be imposed by this Bill is to fall upon the rates, or whether it is not? Our only objection to the Bill—my only objection to the Bill—is that it does involve the risk of additional burdens falling on the rates, and I can assure the House that the condition of the agricultural interest is such at the present moment that it cannot possibly bear any additional burden being imposed upon it. I do not think or believe for a single moment that either the Government, or the House of Commons, or the public at the present time, in the least degree appreciate the extreme gravity and the extremely critical character of the agricultural situation. If matters remain in their present condition much longer, the true state of affairs will come as a great shock and surprise to the public at large. I cannot help referring to a question on this very subject, to which it certainly did appear to me a sufficient amount of consideration had not boon given by many hon. Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House. The question was asked of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government whether he would interfere with rents in such a way as to lighten the burdens falling upon the agriculturists. I confess that it does seem to me an absurd idea, to suppose that any further lowering of rents in this country would bring about a better state of affairs in the agricultural districts. Rents have already fallen as much as 30s. and 35s. per acre in many parts of England, and——


Order, order ! The right hon. Gentleman is deviating from the Question before the House.


I bow, Sir, to your ruling at once, and apologize to the House for having gone into anything that may be termed a deviation from the question. All I was endeavouring to show was that as the agricultural interest is situated at the present moment, it is impossible that any further burdens can be borne by it, even to the extent of that which is contemplated by the Bill now under the consideration of the House. All I have further to say is that whatever may be the general opinion on this subject, there are many of us in this House who are perfectly sensible that unless the Government can give us a far more positive assurance than they have done that there shall be no more risk of additional burdens being thrown on the hind by the Bill now before us, we shall feel it our bounden duty, however much we may regret the necessity of having to take that stop, to oppose the measure.

SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)

Having had the honour of being a Member of the Royal Commission to which reference has more than once been made, I desire, even at this late hour, to express my sense of satisfaction at the Bill which has been brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) in opposition to the strictures of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton), who seemed to think it was too late to bring forward a measure of this kind. On the contrary, I think the House generally is satisfied that it is better late than never; and that the Bill will meet, as I trust it will, with the approbation of a large number of Members on both sides of the House, I do not propose to detain the House for more than a few moments, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council whether it would not be possible to place the large provincial towns on the same footing as that upon which he proposes to place the Metropolis as regards the provisions of Clause 3. I may state that I represent a district in which the number of inhabitants within a circle of 36 miles is equal to the population of the Metropolis, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the provision in the Bill to which I object will not meet with the approbation of the great manufacturing towns in the part of the country to which I have referred. I cannot conceive why we in the North of England should be placed on a different footing from the inhabitants of the Metropolis, and I trust that in passing this Bill, which I hope they will be able to do, the Government will see their way to the removal of what otherwise will be regarded as a slur on the manufacturing towns of the North.

MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

I must apologize for addressing the House at this late hour; but I happen to occupy a peculiar position with regard to this Bill, which. I desire to point out to the House. I am a Member of the Royal Commission on the Elementary Acts to which reference has been made. It is quite true that there have been two Royal Commissions which have dealt with this subject, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman—a Royal Commission on Public Instruction and one on the Depression of Trade; and both of these have no doubt supplied valuable information with regard to this subject. But it is also true that the Royal Commission, upon which I had the honour to sit had this—among other subjects—committed to its charge, and I am not revealing any secret when I say that the subject of technical instruction is one of those on which, in the course of a few months, we mean to report. I am consequently placed in this position—I am unable to support the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke), and I am also unable to support the Amendment, because the matters to which I refer are still under the consideration, of the Commission of which I am a Member. But I would say one word more in regard to this matter, and that is that I think it somewhat hard upon the Members of the Royal Commission to which I belong that Her Majesty's Government should put before this House a question which is still under the consideration of that Commission; for, whereas the other Commission has reported on technical instruction generally, the Commission on which I have a seat intends to report on technical instruction in connection with the elementary schools. But although I find myself unable to give a vote upon this Bill, there are one or two matters to which I desire to call the attention of the House before I sit down. I want the House to consider whether they think a proper answer has been made to the following questions:—How far ought technical instruction to be given in the elementary schools; does the Bill involve the disputed question of payment by results; and is not the gate for giving technical instruction foreclosed by the Bill? These are matters of grave consideration, with regard to which the judgment of the Royal Commission is at present fettered so that if this Bill be pressed they will not be in the same position they now occupy. Then, there is the question of proportion which the Local Authorities ought to bear of the burden of education, which is another matter of very grave importance; and the whole of these are questions which are at this moment under the consideration of the Royal Commission; and there are matters which ought to be brought under the notice of the House. This is the first time the authority of the School Boards has been sought to be extended to secondary education. Again, this Bill for the first time lays down a system, of education which applies only to one part of the country, and ignores all those districts which are not either under School Boards or Town Councils. This is a matter well worth being reported on, because there are 7,000,000 of people not under school boards at the present moment, and the greater part of those are entirely left out of the provisions of this Bill. Then, with regard to the subjects to be taught. The Science and Art Department is by this Bill to be made supreme, and might at any moment make a change in what is to be taught. The words are—"May from time to time be sanctioned by that Department." I say that this is a matter which ought to be carefully considered before the Bill is allowed to pass. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) in his very interesting, and, from his point of view, convincing speech, tried to assuage the feelings of those who are afraid of the demands that may be made upon them under this Bill by saying that the demand upon the ratepayers would be exceedingly small. I will here trouble the House with a few figures, taken from the last Report of the Science and Art Department, which show the extent of the grants earned in the large towns from the Science and Art Department. In Crewe the Mechanics' Institute earned £326; in Derby, the Central School of Science and Art, £389; in Bristol, the Merchant Venturers' School, £591: School of Science and Art, £465; Bolton, School of Science and Art and Church Institute, £745; Liverpool, Free Library and Museum, £804; Manchester, School of.Science, £1,233; Central School of Science, £1,983; London, St. Thomas's, Charterhouse, School of Science and Art, £1,0 lo; Birkbeck Literary Institution. £1,013; Newcastle-on-Tyne, School of 'Science and Art, £1,150; Birmingham, £ 1,325; Bradford, £1,727; Sheffield, £1,000; and Glasgow, £1,435. I mention these figures for the purpose of showing that at the present time large sums of money are being expended and paid for purposes similar to those that would come within the operation of tin's Bill. Of course, this Bill is to have an operation widely extending the system, and ratepayers must be prepared for an increase in their burdens. I am not complaining of this. I only wish to point out that it is not a small matter, and therefore I think that the House should pause before they hurry on the passing of a Bill which deals with a matter now sub judice. I really cannot see how the matter is urgent, if it is at this moment in the hands of a Royal Commission. All I say is it is not that small matter it has been described. It is worthy of proper consideration; and I doubt if this is the best way of securing our object. I would much prefer to enlarge the voluntary principle, drawing out local interest, local influence and expenditure, and supplementing these by grants. This is a system of buttressing up by more State aid these branches of education—very important branches of education, I admit—but, I ask, is the House in a moment of enthusiasm going to take a great leap in the dark, and open the door to what will be in the future a largely increased expenditure'? I am unable to vote "Aye" or "No" to the question, but I thought it right to express these views.

THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)

I hope after the second reading of the Bill has been agreed to the Government will be disposed to reconsider their determination with regard to the third clause which, as it stands at present, is perfectly indefensible. As the Bill was originally introduced it was proposed to exclude the Metropolis, but now I understand it is not the intention to leave the Metropolis in that position, but that a limitation shall be placed on the provision of new Technical Schools by the School Board until a now Board is elected, that the Metropolitan Board shall be only able to spend money provided for under the heads C and D of the 4th clause. Now, it appears to me that the principle the Government intend to adopt in regard to the Metropolis is equally applicable to all great towns under the Bill. I have not heard a word—and I have heard all this discussion urged—why other large towns should be treated in a different manner to the Metropolis in respect to this proposal. I believe the opponents of the Bill on this side would be satisfied if the clause were so modified as to prevent school boards of large towns from embarking on large expenditure which might not be in accordance with the wishes of the ratepayers until after the elections have taken place. That seems reasonable, and as it is the manner in which the Metropolis is going to be treated, I do not see why it should not apply to all other towns. It does appear to me there is great force in the objection of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) to a decision by plébiscite. It would have the effect of establishing two hostile camps on the question, and would probably introduce into school boards an element of opposition and antagonism very desirable to avoid. I think hon. Members on this side would be perfectly willing to place any reasonable limit on the power of school boards to pledge the ratepayers to an indefinite expenditure until the ratepayers have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion. Why other large towns should be placed under conditions to which the Metropolis is not to be subject I fail to understand. One argument may have had influence. If it was thought the introduction of some such provision was necessary to conciliate the opposition of those who dread the imposition of new burdens on the rates, I think the Government must feel convinced that their object has not been attained. Hon. Members from Shropshire and Lincolnshire have shown they are opposed to anything that may have the effect, however remotely, of adding to the burdens of the ratepayers even with the consent of the representatives of the ratepayers themselves. Much as they desire facilities should be given to technical education being extended, they would not vote for a Bill unless the expenditure fell on the Consolidated Fund. Under these circumstances, it seems to me the opposition of those who take that view is not to be conciliated by any such proposal as that in the Bill. Without asking any pledge from the Government now, I venture to urge on them the adoption of the reasonable proposal of my right hon. Friend.

SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. J. G. Talbot) said he should not vote on the Bill, because he is a Member of the Royal Commission on Education; but as I also have the honour of being a Member of that Commission he will, I trust, allow me to express a hope that the fact may not prevent the hon. Gentleman from voting, for if no subject is to be dealt with at all that is referred to a Royal Commission, it would materially hamper our proceedings; and the House would lose valuable time if it always felt bound to wait until a Commission reports. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the House passing the Bill in a moment of enthusiasm, but he forgets that we have been discussing the subject for a long time past, and that it has been the subject of an elaborate inquiry by a strong Commission. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Oawestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton), who moved the Amendment, expressed an opinion in favour of seeing a system of technical education introduced; but I must confess the tenor of his speech appeared to me to be in an opposite direction. I will not say anything in favour of the omission of Clause 3, or of substituting the Fifth for the Sixth Standard, for these matters have been ably dealt with by previous speakers, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to consider one other point. We have a certain amount of manual instruction in infant schools, and we shall now have technical education for the Sixth standard and boys of a higher grade; but we want something to bridge over the interval. This might be done if he could add manual instruction to the other class subjects, and allow school boards to select the subjects in which to present children for examination, not limiting the number to two. At present, as the House is aware, only two class subjects can be taken. All children were obliged to take English, and a great number took geography; so that history and elementary science were almost excluded. Last year 20,000 schools presented children in English, and 12,000 in geography; history was presented in 375, and elementary science in 43 only. There is an idea that it is difficult to introduce a larger number of subjects. On the contrary, the want of variety is, I believe, one of the drawbacks in our system. Mr. Matthew Arnold, in his recent Report on certain points connected with elementary education in Germany, Switzerland, and France, has pointed out that in German elementary schools, there is a "fuller programme "and a "higher state of instruction" than in ours. Taking Hamburg as a good typical case, he says that the weekly number of hours for a Hamburg child between the ages of 10 and 14 is 32; with us, under the Code, for a child of that age it is 20. And then, or rather but then the Hamburg children has, as the obligatory matters of their instruction, 13 matters in all. In one of our schools, under the Code, the obligatory subjects were three—English, writing, and arithmetic. Of the optional matters they generally take, at the outside, four—singing and geography, and perhaps algebra and physiology. That makes in all, for our school week of 20 hours, seven matters of instruction, or, at the outside, only half as many as in Germany. If we were allowed to take, beside the three obligatory subjects, English, history, geography, elementary science, and manual instruction, we should still only have nine subjects against 13 in Germany. That increase of variety would itself be an advantage. Mr. Arnold says— I often asked myself why, with such long hours and so many subjects, the children had so little look of exhaustion or fatigue, and the answer I could not help making to myself was that the cause lay in the children being taught less mechanically and more naturally than with us, and being more interested. If we keep children until they are 13 years old, there ought to be no difficulty in imparting to them the elements of geography, history, and the natural phenomena by which we are surrounded. I will not dwell on this now; but I venture to express a hone that the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to modify the Code, so as to bridge over the interval between the infant schools and the children who will be dealt with by this Bill. If he does that, he will have the honour of removing a blot in our English system of education of which I fear it may be said with truth oven now in the words of Pope— '' We ply the memory, we load the brain, Bind rebel wits and double chain on chain; Confine the thought to exercise the breath, And keep in the pale of words till death. My right hon. Friend's Bill has done much to remove this reproach; I trust it may soon become the law of the land, and that, following out the same principle, he will either modify the Code, or make some other arrangement so that manual instruction may be encouraged, or, at least, rendered possible between the elementary school and the stage at which it can be taken up under the present Bill.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I venture to express a hope that my hon. Friend (Mr. Stanley Leighton) will not oppose the second reading. If we had supposed for a single moment that this Bill imposed the slightest burden on the agricultural interest, we should have had the greatest hesitation in asking the House to accept it. But we have satisfied ourselves that it is almost impossible that that result can follow. It is just conceivable that one or two school boards might combine to take advantage of the Bill against the general opinion; it is conceivable that they might do so, but the circumstances under which such would be possible would be present on very rare occasions. So exceedingly difficult would it be, that I venture to think it would be almost impossible, and it would be most unwise for my hon. Friends, as representing agricultural interests, to plant obstacles in the way of urban communities availing themselves of the advantages of this Bill. There is a real community of interest between agricultural and urban communities, and I hope my hon. Friends who represent agricultural interests will not place themselves in that anomalous and undesirable position of appearing to stand in the way of an improvement of the position of the manufacturing population simply because of the bare possibility of an additional burden being imposed on the rates in agricultural localities. I advocate the Bill more as a tentative measure and an advance in a direction indicated as necessary by the experience, the research, and the accumulative evidence of the last four or five years. We deplore the depression of trade, we deplore the difficulties under which the agricultural interest is suffering, and I venture to say there is no portion of the question more important, that needs more careful assistance—not by an extravagant system—from the Government than the training of our manufacturing population for the work of life. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. J, G. Talbot) deprecates boldness in legislation on the subject, because a Royal Commission on Elementary Education is now sitting, but it has been well observed by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Lubbock) that, if we wait until the Commission, has reported, we may for a very considerable period defer any improvement, however necessary it may be shown to be. I may here remark that, so far as I know, this question of technical education is not specifically referred to the Royal Commission. It may come in as an element for consideration in the questions that arise in dealing with elementary education; it is not shut out from their consideration, but it is not specifically referred to them as was the case when the Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the whole question of technical education. We have had the result of two Commissions; are we to wait for the result of another to which the question was not specifically referred? My view is, that the question is urgent, not that we should embark upon the building of a great fabric of technical education, but we should endeavour to graft on the existing system of elementary education, such instruction as experience has shown to be available, and which can be economically given in combination with existing elementary schools, and this we believe will be an enormous advantage to the artizan population of the country. I will not detain the House at this very late hour. We are most anxious to read the Bill a second time, and desire to wait until the next stage for further discussion when we shall have had an opportunity of considering the suggestions that have fallen from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) and from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) in regard to the conditions under which school boards may avail themselves of the measure. The idea of the scheme has been to provide what we believe necessary, and indeed vital to the future interest of manufacture in this country, and that the advantage to the manufacturing population should be obtained at the smallest possible cost to the ratepayers and taxpayers. We believe that great beneficial results can be obtained under the measure.

SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)

I hope there will be no disposition to curtail the debate by interruptions, for I have so profound a conviction of the importance of the Bill, now submitted to us for the first time, that I may feel it my duty to move the adjournment of the debate. I think the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) is under some misapprehension as to the motives which inspired the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) in moving the Amendment which is now before the House. I take it that the Amendment is moved as a protest, on a matter of principle. It is a principle we have fought for year after year until at last we have attained a position that leave us with some reasonable chance of success. We have contended against the system upon which local taxation is based, and high authorities on both sides of the House are with us. It is supposed by many that this Bill will aggravate existing inconveniences and increase the burden on the rates, but what I want to point out is this, that while hon. Members have expressed their views on the question of rating, under the impression that this will add to the burdens upon land and agriculture, I do not say that the burdens on agriculture will of necessity be increased, but I contend that this Motion is moved in accordance with a principle often fought for in the House, and which I venture to think has plenty of vitality in it—namely, that the basis of rating, for the purposes of local taxation, is unjust, and that you are adding, by this Bill to the incidence of taxation, on a basis which has been universally condemned. This is but the beginning of an interesting discussion on a matter of very high importance, and there are a great many points in regard to the Bill which have not yet been urged before the House. One of these I should like to mention. The whole of the machinery of the Bill hangs upon the administration of the Science and Art Department. Money is to be entrusted to that Department, and they are to supersede the Education Department for the purposes of this Bill. In the Bill of my right hon. Friend there is a clause virtually placing the Science and Art Department in a position of superiority, and makes them largely responsible for what the Bill will bring forth.


The Council and Vice President have an equal responsibility.


I am quite aware of the fact to which my right hon. Friend refers. But the Bill does what I say it does, it takes a matter out of the hands of one Department, and places it in the hands of another. And what is this Department which is now to be responsible for this new departure in our educational system? Have hon. Members taken the trouble to study the 34th Report of the Science and Art Department—the Report for the present year? Have they taken the trouble to see what is the opinion of the examiners whose duty it is to probe the work of this Department, and ascertain whether it is efficient or not? Have they observed that the remarks of the examiners of the Department are by no means of a praising or complimentary nature, either to pupils or teachers? Such remarks as these are sprinkled and scattered all over the pages dealing with the Report of the examiners—" The absurd nature of the answers; "the general want of thorough knowledge of fundamental principles;" "absolute ignorance of simple facts;" "inadequate teaching," "teachers not I possessing necessary knowledge of physiology," "they believe the teachers are to blame" And these are the teachers who are to undertake this vast amount of new work! [Cries of "No, no!"] From what other class can you get them? These are the teachers entrusted with tins special work. The examiners may be rather hard; but, considering that we are now asked to take this new departure, should we not pause for a time, and see where we are going? Would it cot be wiser to see If you have got an efficient shall which can teach before you introduce a system which may break down for want of this teaching staff"? There is only one other remark I will make, though, if it were not for the lateness of the hour, there are many points to which I would refer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) gloats over the expenditure on technical education in Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere, and thumps the box with energy while he cries—"Shame on you people of England that you do not spend your money freely in the same way." [Cries of "Hear, hear ! "] You cheer that, but will you cheer when I say—"Shame on you people of England that you do not spend money for the improvement of agriculture, as other nations do?" [Renewed cries of "Hear, hear ! "] A cheer, but slighter. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention the fact that Germany, Franco, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and other countries spend thousands yearly on thoroughly equipped agricultural departments that do good service to the State. And what are you doing hero? A few years ago there was an association called the Liverpool Financial Reform Association, which set itself the duty of imparting the principles of Free Trade; but under their auspices—[Cries of "Question ! "] This is very much to the question, if hon. Members will be good enough to listen. Under the auspices of this Association, a great deal of high and dry Free Trade doctrine was preached. Not long afterwards the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) appointed a Departmental Committee of the Treasury to consider the question of Irish agricultural schools. Ireland at this moment has two such schools; but Ireland at that time had 20, and more than that, Ireland had no loss than 80 schools attached to workhouses. What did the Treasury do? They crushed and killed them all. The very thing that Ireland wanted was crushed out by the apostles of high and dry Free Trade, who preached their doctrines as late as 1884. The Munster dairy school was condemned to extinction, but was rescued by an expression of popular opinion. I should like to proceed with this subject, which has much to interest those who are concerned with agriculture. We are told that this Bill is to enable us to compete with foreign nations, who are rapidly outstripping us in the commercial race, and our manufacturers are suffering. But is not the most suffering industry that of agriculture? Is it not the case that it is at this moment in a critical condition beyond precedent? But in this Bill nothing is proposed to be done for that industry which, beyond all others in the country, is suffering most bitterly. It is idle to say that agriculture is not a manufacture. You cannot deny that every grain of corn grown, every head of cattle raised is the result of manufacture as much as anything that comes from the loom. If we are to have this new departure in education, this putting aside of the high and dry Fair Trade principle of not allowing the State to interfere for the assistance of particular industries, if you are going to say that any industry, whose produce is subject to bitter foreign competition should receive State aid, then I claim for agriculture the full right to be placed on a footing of equality. I hope, Sir I am not wearying the House with my few observations. There is much more that might be said on this matter. The subject is one of a very serious nature, and the Government proposal indicates so complete and entire a change, so fresh a departure that we have a right to demand it shall be seriously examined. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield has indicated his implacable hostility to the Bill if one clause is not taken out, and he has intimated that if that clause is insisted on, he will move an Amendment on the Motion to go into Committee. Well, if we all take that line, the Bill, I venture to say, will die a natural death; and I am justified in expressing my opinion that the support of the right hon. Gentleman to this Bill is at best but skin deep. Sir, I think this Bill is one which, at this late period of the Session, can scarcely receive the amount of attention which it deserves. With regard, Sir, however, to the Amendment now before the House, I would venture to say this—that it was, I believe, put down to raise the question of principle, and not through any fear of any fresh burdens to be thrown on the land. The Amendment asserts that an entirely new principle is contained in this Bill, that you are by it creating expenditure, but that you are not saddling that expenditure on the right horse. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was listened with great interest by all of us. We heard from him a distinct pledge—and I look upon him as a man of his word—that not only will he bring in a measure dealing with the incidence 'of local taxation next Session, but that it shall be one of the earliest measures which the Government will undertake. I also understand him to give us a pledge that he is prepared to deal thoroughly with the question of scientific technical teaching for agricultural purposes. In view of those two pledges, and seeing that this Amendment was moved merely to raise a question of principle, I would beg to ask my hon. Friend who moved it, to be satisfied with having raised the question of principle, to be content with the debate which has taken place, and to allow the Amendment to be withdrawn.

MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)

I trust that the House will allow me to make one or two observations even at this late hour, for though I have put down an Amendment, I do not intend now to move it. I wish to refer to an important point within the scope of the Bill. We have been informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the number of boys likely to come under the operation of this Bill is not more than 12,000. Now, I had hoped that the Bill would have been made more generally applicable to our scholars, that it would have raised the general level of the education of the poor, and that the children attending elementary schools would be able to get some benefit from it. But we have to be content instead with the small crumb given us this night, and I think that the feeling throughout the country will be one of great disappointment when it is found that the Bill scarcely touches the general education of the country. The level of elementary education in this country is excessively low, the great mass of the children pass out of school at an early age, poorly equipped for the battle of life. Many of us entertained strong hopes that this Bill would have been made the means of elevating the general level of education, and of at least giving the children of the poor—of the great mass of the poor—a chance of gaining some little technical education, fitting them for the work of after life. But, as a fact, the Bill will only benefit those who are already able to pay for this knowledge; it will not touch the great mass of the population which stands so much in need of it. It is a matter for sincere regret that there is this limitation confining the operation of the Bill to a comparatively small class.

MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)

I do not propose to detain the House many minutes; but I wish to ask the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) to withdraw his Amendment, as the First Lord of the Treasury has so distinctly given us to understand that there is very little chance indeed of this Bill, if it is passed, increasing the rates on the agricultural interest. That, at any rate, is how I understand the First Lord put it, and it is only on that understanding that I can give this Bill my support. As to the principle of technical education, I thoroughly agree with it; but we are in such a position, Sir, at the present time in many parts of England, as to the state of agriculture, that it would be actually dishonest on our part to vote for anything, however good it might be in itself, if it would cause an increase of our rates. I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not advise the purchase of an article at 20s., however valuable it might be, if there was only 18s. to buy it with.

MR. R. G. C. MOWBRAY (Lancashire, Prestwich)

I only want to make one remark, and that is, to urge upon the Government the claims of that class of constituency of which I consider my own to be typical—namely, those which are essentially urban in their character; but which, owing to the circumstances of their cases, have neither school board nor town council which can put this Bill into active operation. Now, Sir, I represent a constituency which numbers more than 67,000 people, and for only a portion of that district, consisting of 25,000 people, is there a town council or school board. Therefore, if the Bill is passed as at present framed, the bulk of the consti tuency will be left entirely outside its scope. I would earnestly urge upon Her Majesty's Government to, if possible, extend the term "Local Authorities" so as to include Local District Boards, elected by and responsible to the ratepayers practically in the same way and on the same principle as town councils and school boards. That is the object upon which I ventured to rise. We have been told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in the interests of agriculture a measure will be brought forward next Session, in order to enlarge the scope of this measure; but I venture to think that the present measure should, at any rate, be made effective as regards Constituencies such as mine, not agricultural, but urban, where the people arcs engaged in cotton mills and bleaching, dyeing, and print works—industries for which technical education is most essential. I hope the Government will take this idea into consideration.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I do not wish to make a long speech at this hour of the night; but Laving been for 20 years engaged in carrying on science schools, I must say I think we ought to take a little time in discussing the actual provisions of so important a measure, rather than in raising every possible side issue to delay it. I protest against the reasons put forward from this side of the House with the object of postponing, and, indeed, shelving this measure. We have been urged to oppose it, and we have had the Royal Commission thrown at us as a reason for delaying it, as if every Commission did not last for years and years. Why should we postpone until the conclusion of that Commission's sittings a measure so vital to the interests of our artizan population? We have had the old controversy of the voluntary schools versus the board schools trotted out again, and the local taxation grievance has been once more urged, in order to delay the Bill. I thought these fossils on this side of the House, at least, were dead; but I am afraid that they are alive and kicking. All I can say is, Sir, that this very moderate measure, which is an experimental and tentative one, but which, no doubt, is the beginning of great things, should certainly be got through this Session. As regards expenditure, I will deal with these points in Committee. There are several points in which the Bill may be amended; but in my humble judgment—and I speak with experience, having had to do with the Science and Art Department for many years—I believe that the great objection to this Bill is that ninetenths of the expenditure will come on the Imperial taxation, whereas, in my humble judgment, such things as technical education should fall, partly, at least, on local rates. If they do, we are sure to look after the expenditure very much better than when the Imperial purse is the sole paymaster. Sir, I wish to urge that this Bill should now be read a second time, and I trust that if passed it will show the country clearly that on this side of the House there is a great number of Members strongly determined to promote a sound course of technical education.

MR. LEES (Oldham)

I wish to say only one or two words. Until the last two speakers had addressed the House, one would have thought that there was no such thing as a Tory Member—that there was no agricultural Member. But there are a great many Tory Members on this side of the House who represent large urban constituencies, and I, speaking as one of them, disagree with much that has been advanced in opposition to this Bill.

MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)

I am sorry, Sir, to stand between the House and a Division; but I wish to explain that I neither wish to vote for or against the Government, and I would suggest a way out of the difficulty. There are other Bills mush more important which in consequence of the introduction of this Bill, will probably have to be shelved. This measure, I think, is chiefly supported in the interests of those engaged in manufactures, and it seems to me, considering the grave state of agriculture, that it would be most unfortunate to devote the remainder of the Session to such a measure as this. I therefore hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way—the principle of the Bill having been affirmed—to drop the Bill. Many of us fear that the working of this measure would prove, accidentally, not intentionally on the part of those who framed it, injurious to the interests of voluntary schools. I urge this more particularly, as I desire to see them carry into law the Tithe Kent Charge Bill, which——


Order, order! the hon. Member cannot discuss the Tithe Rent Charge Bill now.


I was only using it as an argument in favour of withdrawing this Bill. There is, I think, no serious reason why we should proceed with legislation on this subject before next Session, especially when we consider that a Royal Commission is now engaged upon the whole subject of education, and that the subject of Statesuported technical education is receiving special attention; and when they have got the principle of the Bill affirmed. I hope that the Government will see their way to let it slide.


I wish merely to say that I have been rather misunderstood by the leader of the House. I brought this Amendment forward as a protest against increasing the burdens of the ratepayers, not only the rural ratepayers, but the urban ratepayers also; and I wish to point out that those in towns are heavily rated as well as those in the country. I also attacked the Bill, because I considered it a retrograde measure dealing with technical education in the wrong way. I further objected to it, because it is directly hostile to the voluntary school system. Under these circumstances, I cannot withdraw the Amendment.

Question put, and agreed, to.

Bill read a second time.


Before the right hon. Gentleman fixes a day for Committee, I hope he will allow me to suggest that it be an early day, so as to ensure that we get the Bill passed into law.


I hope, after the debate that has taken place tonight, the Government will see the necessity of not taking the Committee stage in a hurry, so that the House may have an opportunity of considering what Amendments are necessary.

Bill committed for Tuesday next.