HC Deb 09 September 1887 vol 321 cc47-58

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid),

in moving the following New Clause:— Subject to the conditions under which a school board may provide and maintain a technical school (so far as such conditions are applicable), a school board may (with the consent of the Scotch Education Department, and on such terms and conditions as that Department may prescribe) provide technical instruction by Assisting from the school fund in the maintenance of any school giving inclusively such instruction said, the object of the clause was to enable school boards to assist technical schools, apart from those they established themselves. In Glasgow there was a number of such schools, which it would be difficult for the Board to take over, and it would further be difficult for the school boards of Glasgow and other industrial towns in Scotland to set up schools giving technical instruction which would cover all the various trades of these towns. What he wished to secure by this clause was that the school board should have power to assist schools which had been set a going by the various trades themselves. This was not a question which should cause any controversy or difficulty. A question had been raised that it might do so, and that it might stimulate the old flame of denominational education. He could not see how such a thing could take place. The object he had in view was not to give instruction of a character which had anything to do with denominationalism or religion in any shape or form. He simply wished to enable the school boards to help those who were trying to help themselves and to better themselves in the world, and to put this country in a position to combat foreign competition by giving the technical education which was absolutely required in order to keep our position among the nations of the world. He had observed 25 years ago we were falling very much behind in the race in connection with technical instruction as compared with the Continental nations. He took no credit to himself for having called attention to the matter. That credit was mainly due to a very intelligent and enterprizing citizen of Glasgow—Mr. David Sandi-man—who started a technical school in 1871, which had done a great deal of good to the City of Glasgow, but which was now very much pressed for funds, depending upon the generosity of merchants in Glasgow and elsewhere. He would call hon. Members' attention to a paragraph which had appeared in the Glasgow newspapers on Thursday, and which contained an extract from the annual report of the Glasgow Weaving School. It was stated that— The school was the outcome of a meeting held under the presidency of Mr. William Rae Arthur, Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow in 1871, when the first movement was made towards the promotion of technical education. At one of the important meetings of the lead- ing employers of labour in Glasgow, held in the Mechanics' Institute on the 10th day of December 1873, for the purpose of establishing a system of technical intruction, after much discussion, the erection of a weaving school was the only step in the direction of technical education which they could then entertain. A small committee was thereupon appointed to look out for a site and have suitable premises built and equipped. That was accordingly done, and the school was opened by Sir James Bain. Lord Provost of Glasgow, on 3rd September 1877. The site, the building, and all its contents were at present free from debt or mortgage. The buildings consisted of a lecture hall and private room, two sheds, with 16 power and 30 hand looms, a steam engine of 14 horsepower, besides many other requisites for instruction in weaving, and also a dwelling house for the instructor. It was supposed that probably about 20 pupils would attend the school, but since its opening the average number during eight years had been over 60, while for the last two years the number had increased to 72. Manufacturers had borne testimony to the great advantages of the practical instruction given at this school by making a certificate of attendance a recommendation for entering their employment. This report was most satisfactory as far as it went. It was further shown, that at this school they had given a maximum of instruction for a minimum of expenditure, and many of the students had distinguished themselves at South Kensington. He dared say the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) had seen some of the examples sent up from the school. He had himself had applications from many parents of young men or boys in the manufacturing districts of Glasgow to endeavour to secure a reduction or remission of the fees. The school had been started in the very centre of the manufacturing district of Glasgow—Bridgeton—but, unfortunately, the managers were unable to reduce the fees any further than they were at present. He felt confident that if they could be reduced there wore many intelligent, rising youths, sons of workmen connected with the district, who might become distinguished manufacturers if they only had an opportunity of getting into this school. They were unable, however, to give the necessary help, and what he wished was that the school board should have power to remit the fees, and so enable these youths to receive the necessary instruction by which means they would be able to develop the skill of these youths. The school board of Glassgow was perfectly able to do that. It was composed of a very distinguished body of men whom they might trust, and whom the ratepayers trusted, and they would be able to distinguish whether or not they ought to come to the assistance of such, a school. There were 50 trades in Glasgow requiring such assistance, and which had no school whatever. It would be simply impossible for the school board to erect technical schools which would cover all these trades in Glasgow, and if they gave the school board the power he proposed, it would stimulate many of the trades in that city to set a going such schools, in the hope that the school board would take them to a certain extent in their charge and help them. He, therefore, said that he was doing a good thing for the ratepayers, in the saving of their money, in asking the House to accept this clause. There was not a single industrial town in Scotland which had not eight or 10 trades that would be benefited by such a provision. The same applied in the country districts. In the agricultural districts there was power in this Bill to enable parishes to combine, and he knew the farmers were very anxious to have instruction given in technical schools in their districts, and he recognized the service the present Government had rendered in regard to agriculture, and he thanked them for having sent a Member of the House of Commons to Scotland to make inquiries in the agricultural interest. He also thanked the Government for their efforts in connection with this Bill, and also wished to express his gratitude to the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) for the pertinacity with which he had held on to the Bill. If this clause were accepted, he believed they would find that the intelligent farmers of Scotland would set going schools for the purpose of instruction in agriculture, and would be greatly stimulated and helped by the support which the school boards would be able to give if the powers he proposed to give them wore accepted. He, therefore, hoped the Government would support him in this endeavour. He knew it would immensely advance the cause of technical education in Scotland. The power he proposed to give was simply a permissive power, and there could be no risk whatever to the ratepayers. The school boards in Scotland were thoroughly representative of the ratepayers, and they would take care of their own money. He regretted that any opposition should be raised to his proposal on the score of denominationalism. It had no more to do with denominationalism than the most opposites in nature had to do with each other. He could not, for the life of him, see how the Roman Catholics would benefit by such a provision in the promotion of their religion. It was not for the promotion of religion in any form whatever, but simply to help people to acquire knowledge connected with the arts and industries of the country, and enable them to compete with other countries. He was sorry that such an idea should have been broached in connection with this Question, and that it should have come from a Representative of one of the Divisions of Glasgow—which had always been in the forefront of religious freedom—to once again fan into flame the smouldering embers of religious bigotry and intolerance. He trusted the House would pay no attention to these suggestions. In order to meet the difficulty, he was prepared, if the Government would accept his clause, to add a proviso to secure that these schools should not, in any way, have anything to do with any other kind of education except technical instruction. To meet these difficulties, which he held to be chimerical, and unworthy of any intelligent man in the 19th century, he would suggest the addition, at the end of the clause, the words—"giving exclusively such instruction—namely, technical instruction." If the clause only gave that, he (Mr. Mason) failed to see how it could be connected with religion or denominationalism.

Clause (Power to school board to assist technical school,)—(Mr. Mason,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said. Clause be now read a second time."

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

said, he could not follow his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason) over the ground he had covered in advocating this Amendment. He hoped the Government would not accept that Amendment. The question was very clear in Scotland. In Scotland they had compulsory education; but, nevertheless, the school board did not pay one farthing of the money col- lected by the rates to any schools over which they had no supervision. This clause asked the House to set that provision aside, and to give money to schools over which they had no control whatever. The money once parted with, how were they to tell what the school did. They might apply a certain portion of it to what they called technical education, and that was a right subject. But in these schools education might be given of a kind that the school board did not approve of. The effect of the proposed clause would probably be to bring into existence a class of schools from which, in course of time, the allowances would have to be withdrawn, and then they would die out, or else they would fall into the condition of the Glasgow Weaving School, which his hon. Friend had referred to. His hon. Friend had told the House that there were 50 trades in Glasgow which would start technical schools, and this he must say was a nice prospect for the ratepayers—that they should be asked to hand over money to any school up to the number of 50 in a town. His hon. Friend had not stated how the allowance was to be made, nor under what conditions. Referring to some interruptions made in a conversational tone by Mr. Mason, who was sitting next him, the hon. Member said he would sit down and allow his hon. Friend to resume.


said, he simply wished to say that the money was in the hands of the school boards now, and they could impose what conditions they thought proper when they gave it. They would have absolute control over the giving of the money, and the matter would be entirely in their hands, They could give it to one, two, three, four, or five trades, as they thought proper.


said, that what the hon. Member wanted would be done by the Bill as it stood, except that the board would have control over the technical schools. If this clause were introduced a large number of schools would be established, for which the school boards would be called upon to provide the funds, but over which they would have no control. With regard to schools over which the school boards had control, at the present time there were three technical schools in Glasgow, including one large one, and in Manchester there was a large one and one or two struggling ones. In London there was one large one, and there might be two or three others of which he was not aware. There were not many technical schools carried on throughout the country; and after this Bill became law there would be only as many schools as the school boards thought necessary, and could provide the money for. He also found fault with the clause of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark because it did not say how the assistance was to be given—whether annually, whether in one sum, by tools, by erecting buildings, or in what way. They were really bound not to call into existence a class of schools which from the first would be in a chronic state of poverty and dependent upon charity; because, as soon as they could call on the rates for money, so soon would they get nothing from voluntary subscribers. As the Bill would carry out the very object which the hon. Member had in view, he hoped the Government would not accept the clause. It was not intended that this should be a final Bill. They were to a large extent acting and speaking in the dark as to what technical education was; and, if in Scotland, when they had discussed this Bill sufficiently, they discovered that it did not cover all the ground it was desired to cover, it would be perfectly easy for them to have an amending Act passed next year or the year after.


said, he considered the clause a very harmless one. As to the religious question, he pointed out that the school boards were composed of too many Protestants to admit of the fears which were entertained in regard to the Catholics. He hoped the opposition to the clause would not be pressed.

MR. GALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

said, he wished to point out to the House that an important principle was involved in this Motion, the principle being whether school hoards getting money from the local rates might be authorized to give contributions out of those rates to schools not under their management. That principle cut in two different ways. Technical teaching under this Bill would be a voluntary subject. Under the Elementary Act they had compulsory education in Scotland. Parliament had not sanctioned in the case of compulsory education, which was the most important, the giving of local rates for the purpose of assisting any voluntary school in doing compulsory work, and he therefore asked if Parliament ought now to reverse the principle, and establish the principle of enabling school boards, out of the rates, to give assistance to voluntary schools for what was purely voluntary work. That was the distinction they had already admitted, that the whole of the rates should be applied equally to those schools which were under the direct management of the school boards, and they had refused authority to the school boards to give any assistance to the voluntary religious denominational schools, that were doing what he might term compulsory work. His hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason), who had moved the clause, stated that he could not understand where the argument came in about the Roman Catholic Schools. It came in this way. It was not a question of religion at all. The Roman Catholics had been saying for years that at the present moment in Scotland they were doing compulsory work. They were saving the rates, and yet they were paying the whole of the expenses of their teaching, because voluntary schools did not get one farthing of assistance out of the local rates. To show how far religion had to do with this matter in Scotland, he would point out that the board schools there were Protestant schools, that the Scottish people objected to what they termed godless education, and therefore in all their schools they had religious instruction. The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, said they were compelled as ratepayers to support the Protestant schools, where the Protestant religion is taught, and being also averse to godless education, were compelled, out of sheer necessity, to establish schools of their own, where the Roman Catholic religion was taught under the same table clause as in the board schools. In Scotland, a Roman Catholic child had not one whit more advantage of instruction in Roman Catholic religion than the Protestant child had. The teaching was prescribed by the time-table, just exactly in the same way as in a board school. The Protestant child might attend that day school the same as the Roman Catholic child attended the Protestant school. If they admitted the principle that a school board might, out of the local rates, subsidize a voluntary school doing voluntary work, upon what principle could they refuse to give to a Roman Catholic school a subsidy out of the local rates when they wore doing compulsory work, and saving the rates the expenses of providing school accommodation, which but for the existence of these voluntary schools they would be bound to provide? It was not that the assistance out of the local rates would confer any special benefit on the Roman Catholic schools, because at the present moment the local rates prescribed Protestant teaching for the Protestant community, and it would simply be putting the Roman Catholics on an equal footing with their Protestant brethren. What, at the present, was the hardship? Take the case of the Roman Catholics in Glasgow. They paid to provide Protestant religious instruction for the Protestant population in Glasgow out of the rates, and at the same time they have to pay the whole expense of the education of their own children, without getting one single copper from the rates for the purpose. They had been arguing strongly against this injustice; and what had the answer been? The answer to them hitherto had been thus—"We cannot out of the local rates give to you a contribution for a school which is not under school board management. All rates must be devoted solely to those schools which are under the management of the school board." That principle had been stated over and over again. If the Government now said that a school board might apply the school rates to the purpose of assisting voluntary schools in teaching what were purely voluntary subjects, then the argument was so much the stronger for getting the assistance in the case where they were doing compulsory work. He would point out to the Government the immense principle it was here sought to be established, and he could not but think it was unfortunate that a proposal of this kind should be left to the end of the Session, when nearly all the Scotch Members were away, and when there was not sufficient time left to have the matter thoroughly discussed. A principle of this kind was an entirely novel one, and it was a principle which, he submitted, at this period of the Session was one which the Government should not for one moment entertain. It was sufficient for them to carry their Bill according to the ordinary principles re- cognized by Parliament and the country. To try to interject a new condition was, he submitted, a most serious matter. If the Government did sanction this principle, they must do it in the full knowledge of the extent to which it was likely to lead them; and if the principle was sanctioned this Session, the Government could not complain if the argument was brought forward next Session in the case of those other voluntary schools doing compulsory work; and if those schools made a demand to get a contribution out of the rates in respect that they did compulsory work. Then it was stated there might be 50 trades in Glasgow which required assistance in the technical schools. That showed the gravity of giving powers of this kind. If assistance was given to one trade, how would it be possible for the school board or the Scotch Education Department to stop at that one trade, and not give it to every trade that made application? There were more than 100 trades in Glasgow. Why should not each one of these trades get a subsidy of £100 a-year? There was an annual expenditure of £10,000 in the City of Glasgow alone. They were starting a principle, the seriousness and extent of which they did not know. He did not think that was the way to promote technical education. It was not done by grants of public money. Let them leave to private enterprise to carry on their schools, giving them assistance out of the Imperial Exchequer if they showed certain results; but it was an entirely new principle to give a single penny out of the local rates to support schools not under the management of the school board.

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

I wish to say a very few words on this question, in the hope of putting an end to the discussion. I have listened with considerable interest to the observations which have fallen from hon. Gentlemen from Scotland. It was with great sympathy that I listened to the observations that fell from the hon. Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason). I understand his aim is to give encouragement to those who take a warm interest in education itself, and who may, therefore, be presumed to be well fitted to foster that education, and to carry it forward, and attain the objects we all have in view. I sympathize very much indeed with the aim and object of the hon. Gentleman. But I have to consider whether, under all the circumstances, it is reasonable and fair that a proposal of this kind should be introduced into a measure which hitherto has been, I may say, accepted cordially, and almost unanimously, by the Members for Scotland. I have to consider whether—having regard to the fact that this proposal is obviously opposed to the feelings of some hon. Gentlemen from Scotland, and probably to the views of those who are not in the House on the present occasion—it is quite fair or quite desirable that the clause should be introduced into the Bill on the present occasion. Now, I have come to the conclusion that, on the whole, it would be desirable that this clause should not be introduced into the Bill now. I do not say that because I have the slightest objection to the principle which is involved in the clause. It is one which, I think, deserves the very fullest consideration of this House, and the aim and the object of the hon. Gentleman deserve the fullest sympathy of all who are themselves desirous of forwarding and assisting the cause of education. We can work best, in my humble judgment, through the agency of those who are content and willing to make some sacrifice of their own in order to forward the objects which we have in view. I am, therefore, individually by no means opposed to the principle of subsidizing the efforts of persons devoted to the cause of education itself. But, as I said just now, I have to consider what would best forward the interests of this particular time, and what is, on the whole, most fair to the Representatives of Scotland who are not in the House at the present time. I think it would be hardly fair to them in their absence to put into the Statute Book the recognition of the principles involved in this clause. Therefore I venture to hope that the hon. Gentleman will be content with having raised a very interesting discussion, reserving to himself full power to introduce a measure next year, if he thinks it right to do so, to amend this Bill, when I can assure him the Government will give the most careful consideration to his proposal, and at the same time do our best to shape it so as to make it acceptable to the people of Scotland.


said, he had been keeping his mind open on this question, because he confessed he did not understand it so, well as he did some other subjects. He hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason) would accept I the sympathetic words of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and not press the clause.


said, he was of course quite aware that, unless he got the support of the Government, it would be idle for him to press the clause to a Division. He just wished to say, in withdrawing the clause now, that he had no doubt the people of Scotland, and of Glasgow in particular, would take note of the reasons why the clause had not been carried.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time,"


said, he wished to take the opportunity of congratulating the Government on having got the Bill through the House. He believed it would be a useful experiment, and he was very glad the Government had pressed this Bill forward instead of attempting to make the Allotments Bill as it stood applicable to Scotland.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time and passed,