HC Deb 10 August 1887 vol 318 cc1938-53

Order for Second Reading read.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

, in moving that the Bill be now read a, second time, said, it was unnecessary that he should explain the measure, as that had been laid before the Scottish Members, along with a Memorandum describing its provisions. He would, therefore, leave the remaining time of the Sitting to hon. Members who might desire to take part in the discussion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Lord Advocate.)

MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, & c.)

said, he sympathized with the remarks that had been made earlier in the Sitting against the system of crowding so many Scotch Bills into one day. But it would appear there was no hope of dealing with Scottish Business, except at 4 o'clock in the morning, unless they devoted to it a Wednesday Sitting. But in spite of that objection to this mode of legislation for Scotland, he thought it would be of great advantage if this Bill were read a second time, and, if possible, passed into law this year. It would be felt in Scotland to be a legislative neglect if the Bill were not passed in some form. Even if passed it would he over for some time before it could come into operation, so that the public would have ample time for discussing what ought to be done; and if it were found necessary, a further addition could be made to the measure nest Session. Unless the Bill were passed this year, it could not be passed for several years, as the School Board elections took place in the spring, and there would be no election after that of next year till 1891. It was of the utmost importance that this question should be before the public before the next School Board elections, so that the public could determine how far the Bill was to be taken advantage of. He would be very glad if the technical schools could be conducted without in any way coming under the control of the Science and Art Department. The Scottish Education Department would attend to this business very much better than the Science and Art Department. The object of the Bill was to enable us to improve our position commercially, mechanically, and as a manufacturing nation; but if the Bill was to do any good they ought to see that the boys to be taught understood decimals, and as lads who had passed the Fifth Standard were to be eligible for the technical schools, he thought some change would have to be made, or else they would have to raise the Standard for admission from the Fifth to the Sixth. Unless the scholars knew decimal fractions, they would be severely handicapped in the technical schools. He thought a knowledge of decimal fractions ought to be added to the Schedule.


said, he earnestly hoped the Bill would pass as it stood. The changes necessary to make it a very efficient Bill would be very few. It was a Bill which the people of Scotland desired. A very simple measure would got over any difficulty in connection with the Science and Art Department. They could lay it down that no Minute of the Science and Art Department regarding technical education would apply in. Scotland, unless it received the sanction of the Secretary for Scotland. The Bill could be applied in Scotland without reference to the Science and Art Department. The school boards of Scotland could enlarge the sphere of education. So long as money was not required from the Science and Art Department, they could easily carry on the technical schools without coming under the control of the Science and Art Department. He had great doubt about the power possessed by the Science and Art Department. They were a very ignorant body, especially in regard to commercial education. He entreated Scottish Members not to sacrifice the Bill, which was one of great importance, and ought to be before the country previous to the next triennial School Board elections.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

said, he must congratulate the hon. and learned Lord Advocate on the title of the Bill, because without that title nobody could have imagined for a moment it was a Bill to promote technical education. If it had been put forward under a title which signified what it meant, he did not believe it would have had the ghost of a chance of passing. He was not opposed to technical education; everyone was in favour of it, and he was willing to spend any amount of money upon education in the belief that it would be money well spent; but this Bill had nothing whatever to say about technical education. It was a Science and Art Education Bill—nothing more or less. There were schemes for the promotion of technical education. The best was that pursued at Finsbury College, where they gave instruction in various mechanical and applied arts and trades, such as cabinet-making, art furniture, practical mathematics, practical geometry, practical designing, practical chemistry, bricklaying, carpentry, joinery, metal plate work, & c. Now, all these were matters of technical education. But what did the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) say on the previous night in connection with the Technical Education Bill for England? "Why, that they were not, under their Bill, going to teach trades or any technical education at all. And the right hon. Gentleman put that forward as a reason for the passing of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had said there was a great deal of jealousy against the teaching of trades among the artizan classes. But the Government taught trade at the present moment; for in the schools under the Local Government Board, such as the divisional school at Norwood, where 800 or 900 pauper children were taught, excellent technical instruction was given. The children, after reaching a certain stage of instruction, were placed on half-time in trades shops, where they were taught tailoring, bootmaking, and other trades. In the same way in the industrial schools, which, were kept up by the public funds, a technical trade education was imparted, and no objection had ever been offered by the artizan classes. But under this Bill it would not be in the power of any School Board to set up a technical school in which these things could be taught, or which were taught in the other really technical schools in the country, such as the Finsbury School. The expression "technical education" in the schools to be set up under this Bill meant instruction in branches of Science and Art, with respect to which grants were, for the time being, made by the Department of Science and Art. Now, there was no grant made by that Department for any one of the branches of really technical education, for which he spoke; so that schools set up under this Bill would simply be Science and Art schools. His hon. Friend (Mr. Provand) had referred to weaving schools. But, under the wilful reservation made by the Vice President of the Council to do nothing in the way of technical instruction, it would be incompetent to give instruction in weaving, because that would be teaching a trade. He did not see why there should be any objection to teaching a trade. The trades themselves were doing so through technical instruction. The Plumbers' Incorporation gave an education in plumber work, and that was not held to be unfair competition. The leather workers were now establishing technical education in that department. They had dyeing taught as well as weaving in the existing technical schools. If workmen were damnified by trades being taught under the name of technical education, they would be equally damnified by their fellows being better instructed and better qualified to obtain higher positions than themselves. But he did not believe that there was this jealousy among the working classes. No class was so much alive to the need of good technical teaching as the working men of this country and of Scotland. At Finsbury the requirements of the Science and Art Department were wholly disregarded as tending to hamper rather than to encourage their work. It was said that the Science and Art Department would enlarge its programme; but it was unfortunate that, while technical instruction had been, given for some time by private effort, that Department had done nothing to meet the requirements of those schools. Indeed, the managers of those schools would rather not be brought under any control from the Department, because of the difference in their requirements. The difference between the requirements of the Science and Art Department and the objects of the best technical schools was this, that, in the latter, the object was to give a couple of hours' practical education for every hour of theory; whereas, in the Science and Art Department, it was a bushel of theory to a pint of practice. He had himself no objection to Science and Art instruction, he was a friend to education in every form; but let them not pass this Bill as it stood under the impression that they were passing a Technical Education Bill. As to making it a test question for the next School Board elections, he would remind them that it would be impossible to modify this Bill if it became law this Session in time for those elections. They must either take the Bill as it stood or leave it. On the other hand, if this Bill were brought forward at the beginning of next Session, there would be ample time to pass it before the School Board elections. He was afraid that if this Bill was adopted they would not get technical education. They would have the whole control of technical education placed in the hands of a Department which had shown itself utterly unsympathetic with technical education; and he much doubted whether more mischief would be done by accepting the Bill than by leaving over the matter until next Session, and then passing a Bill which would be in fact as well as in name a Technical Education Bill.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

said, he could not agree with the conclusion arrived at by his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron), who thought the Bill unsatisfactory, and that it would be better to leave it over till next year. He should have thought his hon. Friend, with so much experience of Parliament, would have known how very uncertain the chances were of Bills in this House, and. that even though a Bill was unsatisfactory, and might not fulfil all their expectations, still it was better to get what they could, and trust to the chance of improving it next year, than to abandon what they had in their hands now, with the possibility of getting nothing at all. At the same time he admitted that it was not only a hurried but an excessively sketchy measure. It told the House very little about the kind of technical education to be given, or the details of the manner in which it was to be given. Having visited a good many technical schools both in this country and in the United States, he knew that there was an immense variety of methods of giving technical education, and that the term covered a great many things from the highest instruction in the theory of mechanics and chemistry down to the simple use of tools which might be taught to a boy of 12 or 13. All of that was technical education, and was valuable; and he should have liked to have seen in this Bill some distinct indication that the Government recognized the largeness of the subject, and had understood the many things that could be brought under the idea of technical instruction. Instead of that, anything was to be technical which was approved for the time by the Department of Science and Art. Now, they had not such experiences of the conception of such instruction by that Department as to repose in it perfect confidence that it would do all that was required. He must express his disappointment at the way in which the Government had treated Scottish business, keeping up Scottish Bill still the 10th of August, and giving them to Scottish Members at a time when it was perfectly impossible to deal with them with Committees at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. As the Science and Art Department was mainly interested, he thought it very desirable to obtain from the Government a pledge that that Department would give as soon as possible a full statement of its policy in the matter, showing what it meant to include in the term "technical education," and giving something in the nature of a Memorandum which might be presented to the House and circulated among school boards and the public, so that the electors might be able to have some idea of what technical education meant, and what school boards would carry out. When such a Report was presented to the House, Members would have an opportunity of another discussion on the subject, and if it should turn out that the Science and Art Department took too narrow a view of this matter, and did not carry out the wishes of Parliament, they would be able to make the Department take a wider view and prepare a more adequate scheme.

MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St, Rollox)

said, that as representing one of the large cities in Scotland, and as the subject was one that seriously interested the working classes, he hoped the House would see its way to pass the Bill. The subject had long been before the community of Scotland, and there had been but one feeling, and that was in favour of it. It seemed to him that the Bill embraced every tiling essential to give a start to technical education. The 1st clause set forth that each school board might establish a technical school. He did not think that an Act of Parliament should proscribe all the different subjects to be taught in the schools, for these must be left to the various localities, and they were matters capable of expansion as time went on. As to the objections taken by Members from the country districts in Scotland, it should be remembered that the Bill was purely permissive, and that no school board in Scotland was compelled to establish such a school if there was any feeling against it. He did not think that those who went in for Home Rule in Scotland should object to a Bill which was of a purely permissive character, and which was fenced round so that not only no action could be taken until the next School Board elections, but the consent of the Education Department was also necessary. When it was considered that this was a subject in which a considerable amount of interest was felt in Scotland, that the Bill was a purely permissive one, that the interests of the ratepayers were protected, and that technical education was a matter of expansion, it seemd to him rather hard that the Representatives of the country districts should interfere by opposing the measure.

MR. J. C. BOLTON (Stirling)

said, that the speech of the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) would have been an excellent one if it had been concluded with a Motion for the rejection of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman showed the thorough spirit of a Scotsman in saying that it was Letter to take what they could get; but his own opinion was that in taking the Bill they took the shadow without the substance. There was most undoubtedly an earnest desire by the people of Scotland to have technical education; but they had had no opportunity of judging as to whether the Bill would afford it to them. It was argued that they should pass the Bill this Session in consequence of the School Board elections coining next year. Undoubtely that was an argument in favour of passing a Bill of some kind; but had it only occurred to the Government within the last few days that the School Board elections fall next year? Were the Government really in earnest in endeavouring to pass a Bill this Session for the promotion of technical education in Scotland? If so, he would ask the Lord Advocate whether he would give the House a pledge to admit Radical Amendments on the 5th clause? If the Bill was accepted as it now stood, one thing was certain, and that was that they would, under that clause, transfer to South Kensington the direction of technical education in Scotland, which ought to be in the hands of the school boards of the country. He desired to have a pledge from the Government that South Kensington should have nothing more to do with Scottish technical schools than to examine in those subjects which the school boards chose to take up, and for which South Kensington gave grants. [Mr. MASON: That is in the clause.] That was undoubtedly in the clause; but there was also a great deal more in it, for it would place the whole of the technical education in Scotland at the mercy of the Science and Art Department at South Kensington. If the Lord Advocate would say the Government accepted the Amendment he had indicated, he would be quite content to see the Bill passed; but he considered that if they accepted the Bill as it stood they would be accepting a merely permissive Bill to put themselves under the control of the Department at South Kensington, and, as an alternative, would have to go without technical instruction altogether.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) and other speakers had pointed out the real doubt about the Bill—namely, whether it would promote technical education. The 1st sub-section of the 5th clause was to the effect that no school board could get loans for building purposes connected with education under the Act, or get any advantage under the Act, unless the school was conducted in accordance with the conditions specified by the Science and Art Department. It had been stated that school boards could give technical instruction outside the subjects laid down by the Science and Art Department, but that could not be done because of the definition in the 11th clause, he therefore thought the Scottish Members should press upon the Government for a distinct pledge that they would agree to widen the Bill in that respect. If they did not, he agreed that the Bill would be hardly worth having, for if the definition was not widened they would prevent the school boards in Scotland establishing a technical school, which otherwise they would be willing to create. With regard to Sub-section 3 of Clause 5, dealing with the Minutes of the Science and Art Department, undoubtedly it was of great importance that these Minutes should be presented to Parliament in order that it might be known what their nature was. He confessed he joined in the jealousy shown of any extension of the power of the Science and Art Department in Scotland. If the Bill was not amended in the direction he had pointed out, he believed it could not be successful in its operation, for the control of the Science and Art Department in Scotland would militate against its effect. There was in Scotland no very great confidence in that Department. He did not see the reason why, unlike the English Bills, there should be any definition of the scholars to whom technical education could be given. The Bill limited the age of scholars to 21 years; but if there was to be any real technical education that restriction must be struck out, for many young men were only able to appreciate such education when they got to that age. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the previous night, had stated that girls would be excluded from the operation of the Bills.


said, he thought the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) had boon misunderstood. He had only estimated that very few girls would avail themselves of technical instruction.


said, he would like the Lord Advocate to state whether or not girls were excluded from the benefits of the Bill. He thought the point could easily be made plain by the insertion of the feminine pronoun it; Clause 9. Unless they got a clear statement that girls were to be included, they ought not to support the Bill.


said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman last night said it was calculated that a great many girls would not come forward, and that some boys would not come forward, but that his calculation was a rough way of taking it, as a whole, to ascertain how many would take advantage of the technical training.


said, his misapprehension was shared by a great many others. He thought his right hon. Friend was aware that in the Technical School in Edinburgh there were a great many girls fully enjoying its benefits, and it would be absurd, if they were to have a thoroughly good system of technical education, that girls should not have the full enjoyment of it.


said, several points had been raised in the debate which were really points of detail, though he admitted their importance. It was obvious that he was not prepared, not being acquainted with the educational system of Scotland, to deal with these points. There was one important point as to the Definition Clause referred to by one hon. Member, who pointed out that there was a possibility that under that definition the Bill might have a retrograde character. He would consult the Lord Advocate with regard to that point, and if any such difficulty as was suggested could possibly occur, it was perfectly obvious it was not intended, by the Bill, and the definition must be modified to that extent. As to the reference made to the Science and Art Department and its administration in connection with the Bill, he regretted extremely that his remarks were misunderstood. In making these remarks, he was dealing especially with the question of manual training under this Bill— that was, the training of eye and hand, the teaching of lads how to handle tools easily and with facility, and to do work at the bench as regards wood and iron. "What he said was—and he said it again—that that class of teaching which was demanded as elementary teaching was one of the few subjects which could be dealt with under this Bill. Much misconception had arisen in the minds of hon. Members with regard to the scope of the Bill as affecting Scotland; and he only discovered a day or two ago that the Science and Art Directory containing the curriculum was not in the Library. He at once hastened to remedy the defect, and copies would be at once provided. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) said this Bill was not a Technical instruction Bill at all, and was more or loss a sham. This Bill, as he (Sir William Hart Dyke) understood it, would enable grants to be paid by the Science and Art Department for any class of school which was sanctioned by the Scottish Education "Department, for any subject in the curriculum now in their directory. The list of subjects which were now actually in the directory, and for which, as hon. Members knew, they were giving in science and art schools large grants, included the following—practical geometry, machine construction and drawing, building construction, naval architecture, applied mechanics, practical chemistry, mining, mineralogy, steam, electricity, the principles of agriculture, and hygiene. This Bill might be condemned as unequal, and might require amendment; but when he was told that us applied to Scotland it was not a Bill for technical instruction, he said that, at all events, was not an adequate description of it. Another question had been alluded to in regard to the Definition Clause—namely, that in any school coming under the operation of the Bill, grants would be received for these subjects. He thought the expression was "for other subjects which may from time to time be admitted by the Department." That expression, he believed, led to this, that there was a distinction which would be drawn in the English Bill and the Scottish Bill between subjects for which grants might be made, but which subjects were not at the time in the directory. With regard to the future of this directory, there was in the English Bill a distinct reference to Parliament with regard to any change. If there were any change of a restrictive or extensive nature in this directory, it must be laid for one month before both Houses of Parliament. The educational systems were distinct in the two countries; therefore, he would not waste the time of hon. Members by going into matters in detail. He would only assure them that what Her Majesty's Government desired most of this Bill, as they did of the English Bill, was that it should be a workable and successful measure, and that its result should be one of lasting, real benefit to the great commercial and agricultural interests of the country.

MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)

said, he trusted this Bill would be read a second time. He looked upon it as by a long way the most important Bill which the House had had before it today, he knew the absolute necessity there was on the part of this country to face and enter upon the question of technical instruction, so as to meet the fierce competition of the Continent. We were at least 30 years behind Saxony, Belgium, and Prance, and, he might say, the Continent of Europe, in this matter, and he was thankful that the House had at last awakened to the position of this country, and that a Bill dealing with technical instruction had been introduced, not only for England, but one also for Scotland. He admitted it was a small Bill, but he was thankful a beginning had been made. The Bill gave powers to school boards which they had not hitherto had. It enabled them, to provide tools, trade apparatus, and other materials out of the school funds, and he had no doubt that, having got them, they would be able to exercise these powers. With regard to the question of grants from South Kensington, if in Scotland they were prepared to accept them, they ought to come under the regulations of South Kensington; but he maintained that if any money was to be raised in Scotland for these purposes, it should not come under the control of South Kensington, but of the Scottish Education Department, and that ought to be provided for in the Bill. So far as the school boards were concerned, he thought they might trust Scotland with regard to this question. This was a very good opportunity for bringing the question before the electors at the School Board elections next April. Let the school boards be elected on the distinct principle whether or not they were to erect technical schools. He was thankful that, in framing this Bill, the clause in connection with a plebiscite had been left out, because he was certain if such a provision had been inserted and were applied in cities like Glasgow they should never have technical education begun in these large centres, at any rate, in the present generation. This was a question in which they who were in a position of knowledge in connection with foreign competition required to instruct the electors. The great body of the people could not understand why we were having this fierce competition, and they must take the initiative of bringing about technical education from above rather than below. He had seen the necessity of improving technical training for the last 25 years, and, as an illustration of how much we had lost by the want of it, he would mention that, in his own business, 20 years ago, he used 80 per cent of home-spun yarns to 20 per cent of foreign yarns. Now the situation was more than reversed, as he used 85 per cent of foreign to only 15 per cent of home-spun yarns. What they required to do in this country was to take advantage of the splendid appliances they had in the manufacturing industry He had no fear of foreign competition if they only had free play for the powers which Providence had given them, and for the vast resources which the country possessed. He hoped the Bill would now be read a second time and passed into law before the end of the present Session.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

said, he ought to apologize as an English Member for interfering in the discussion of this Bill. What he was afraid of was that if Scottish Members were prepared to accept a sham Bill, there was very little hope of a genuine Bill being brought forward soon. His hon. Friend who had just sat down was very zealous in the cause of technical education, but he feared his hon. Friend had missed his mark altogether. There was no worse authority on which they could rely for the promotion of industrial education than the Science and Art Department as at present constituted. He was afraid they would proceed in a diletantte fashion with this matter when the necessities of the case required that they should begin in a very humble way, and get hold of the mass of the industrial classes in order to teach them something that would fit them for the duties of their station in life. His hon. Friend below him (Mr. Mason) had expressed his satisfaction that there was no plebiscite in the Scottish Bill. But he might tell him that there was something more mischievous than a plebiscite, and that was the absolute control of the Science and Art Department. [''No, no."] Hon. Members said "No, no," but if they would read the second clause of the Bill they would see that there was absolute power in the hands of the Science and Art Department to control and overrule everything that was decided by the school boards in Scotland. In the interest of education he was anxious that the mark should not be missed as it had been in other measures. He objected to the limit of age being placed at 21, and contended that that was a matter that should be left to the school board in each locality to determine. No other body could have the same knowledge or experience with respect to the peculiarities of the trades and occupations of the district. The freest hand ought, therefore, to be left to the school boards. The Bradford School Board had made representations on the subject, and he had in his pocket a letter from the chairman, than whom there were few men more competent to deal with the question. His views were supported by every member of the Committee of the School Board, he insisted that it would be mischievous in the highest degree to set up arbitrary barriers such as the age of 21 or the Sixth Standard. Tie assured the Scotch Members that he would not have interfered in the debate except for the purpose of pleading for as much as could possibly be got, so that when they came to struggle with the English measure, they might not be referred by the Department to what had been done for Scotland as a reason for not making further progress.

MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)

said, he would appeal to hon. Members both from England and Scotland not to wreck the Bill. The hon. Member who had just spoken could not have been in the House when the Vice President of the Council stated that, in concert with the Lord Advocate, he was most willing to consider any Amendments to the measure. He thought hon. Members were unduly frightened, he was sure many of them had not studied the Bill. If they had an opportunity of consulting the Directory of the Science and Art Department, he was convinced they would have a better opinion of that Department. If they were going to have two sources of income—the one local and the other Imperial—they must have some Imperial authority to superintend. These schools were intended to be connected with the Imperial system, and were to be so managed that grants might be obtained from that quarter. The list of subjects taught could easily be from time to time enlarged. But if hon. Members would refer to this year's Report of the Department they would see that it was not true that subjects of practical value were not at present encouraged by grants. They would find that a large number of children had already received instruction in practical agriculture. Dyeing having been mentioned, he might observe that practical chemistry was one of the subjects taught, and, as representing the City of Perth, which was the centre of the dyeing trade, he could say that a knowledge of practical chemistry was one of the principal requirements in that industry. But this was no time for details. His object was to appeal especially to the Scottish Members, not at the last moment, after they had shown themselves so practical on the other Bills, to wreck this Bill by adjourning the second reading. If any of them wished to press important Amendments, they could do so on the Motion for going into Committee.


said, his hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) had got up to make an appeal to his Scottish Colleagues not to wreck the Bill, and he had gone within four minutes of wrecking it himself. He (Mr. E. Robertson) did not rise for the purpose of wrecking the Bill by continuing the discussion, but he rose to renew the protest he had made earlier in the sitting against Parliamentary mismanagement and misconduct of Scottish Business so far as the Government were concerned. This Bill had been described by one of its leading supporters as a hasty Bill, hastily drawn and hastily pushed forward, he did not propose to stop the progress of the Bill now, hut he wished to pronounce this to be one of the most glaring examples of the results of the evil management which had been carried on during the whole of the present Session, so far as Scottish Business was concerned. He protested against it.

MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, & c.)

I claim to move "That the Question be now put."

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

I appeal to the hon. Gentleman not to press that Motion because it is obvious that we could not carry it——


Order, order! I decline to put the Question.


said, that he could tell the House that he had been five years associated with the Science and Art Department, and he could assure hon. Members from Scotland that they need not be afraid of the bogey, in the shape of control by the Department, which had been raised at the last moment.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Tuesday nest.

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