HC Deb 18 March 1887 vol 312 cc710-1
MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, with reference to the Circular recently issued by the Education Department—

"Education Department, Whitehall, London, S.W.

"Experience has shown that efficiency and economy in school-building have been greatly-promoted by means of suggestions made by the consulting architect of this Department, and by conferences between him and the architects of school be are and voluntary managers.

"As the making of such suggestions and the holding of such conferences are beyond what can be officially required from the consulting architect, and occupy a very considerable portion of his private time, your attention is directed to the following regulations:—

  1. "1. The duty of the consulting architect is to advise the Department and to point out which of the building rules have been violated; and he is prohibited from himself undertaking the erection of elementary schools.
  2. "2. In cases where school boards, managers or their architects require professional information or suggestions from the architect to the Department, as to the best mode of making the plan conform to such rules, he shall be entitled to charge fees on the following scale:—

"For advising on plans of schools not exceeding 250 children, £3 3s.

"For advising on plans of schools not exceeding 500 children,.£4 4s.

"Above this number, £5 5s.

"In the case of a school board the fee will form part of the sum to be borrowed.—I have the honour to be, etc., P. CUMIN."

Whether, inasmuch as the arrangement suggested to school boards is that they shall employ at their expense an officer of the Education Department in a matter in which lie has afterwards to officially advise the Department, he will state the reasons for issuing the Circular?


The rules as to planning and fitting up schools are published, and are so plain and explicit that any competent architect should be able to apply them. It is the duty of the Education Department, through their architect, to point out in each case any of the rules which have not been observed; but it often requires special professional knowledge to discover the best mode of making a plan conform to the rules, and this does not fall within the province of the consulting architect of the Department. He is not an officer of the Department in the sense of being a Civil servant and entitled to a pension; but he is a gentleman in general practice who is retained to advise the Department whether the printed rules laid down have been complied with. He is debarred from himself undertaking the building of elementary schools; but many school boards have expressed a desire to avail themselves of his professional services, and by the Circular in question they are permitted the employment of his services is entirely optional in each case, and other Departments have adopted the same principle.