HC Deb 08 April 1889 vol 334 cc1904-8

I regret to detain the House at this time of the morning on this matter, which has reference to a hospital in Dundee for 100 poor boys. A sum of £70,000 was invested for that purpose. The boys were to be received from Dundee, Forfar, Montrose, and Arbroath. Now, the scheme has outlived the condition of the charity. The Hospital is to be sold, and the 100 boys are to be educated at any public school, and what is necessary is to be paid from the fund for their maintenance. No opposition will arise on that part of the scheme; but the operation contemplated will leave free a considerable portion of the income, which is to be divided between four towns. Dundee will have the lion's share; but of that there is no complaint. As regards Montrose, Arbroath, and Forfar, Section 29 of the scheme provides that £100 shall be paid to each of them, upon condition that each spends the £100 on a higher class school. There are higher class schools in Montrose and Abroath, and, therefore, those boroughs are content. The only objection comes from Forfar, which has no higher class school within the meaning of the scheme. It has a Government-grant-earning school within the meaning of the Education Act; but before it could convert it into a higher class school, so as to claim its share of the surplus income, it would have to give up the Government grant. A Parliamentary Commission has investigated this question, and has recommended that where these higher class schools are established, Government grants should be given to them just as to elementary schools established under the Education Act; and it is upon that recommendation—and pending legislation upon it—that the Commissioners have, I submit, erroneously taken upon themselves to put a penalty upon Forfar, and they say—"Unless you establish a higher class school, you shall not have a share of this fund." The matter becomes all the more important when it is remembered that the money was intended by the testator for the education of poor children in Dundee; and by the proposal of the scheme, which is objected to by Forfar, it is asked to spend the £100 share not in the education of the poor, but in secondary education. The position of the School Board is this—they are divided in opinion, and printed statements on the subject have been issued by the Board and by the Town Council, and circulated in this House; and so strong is the public feeling in Forfar upon the subject that a Petition has been signed by 1,100 ratepayers out of 2,100, asking that the action of the Town Council may be sanctioned. On these grounds I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her consent from the scheme for the management of the endowment in the Burgh of Dundee and County of Forfar, known as the Morgan Hospital, approved by the Scotch Education Department (by Act), and now lying upon the Table of the House, in so far as regards the conditions attached by Section 29 of the said scheme to the annual payments therein provided for to the School Board of Forfar."—(Mr Shiress Will.)

MR. CALDWELL (St. Rollox, Glasgow)

Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. The scheme proposed is to carry out the system of the Charities Endowments Commissioners, whereby they have been asking for a good many years past to take the funds for the purpose of promoting secular education in the country. The result of all their efforts during the last eight years has been that secondary education, instead of being promoted, has been on the decline in Scotland. Owing to the adoption of the School Board system, elementary education is becoming almost the sole education in the parochial schools of Scotland. A secondary education is being furnished out of the public schools. The Endowment Commissioners think they will promote secondary education by big secondary schools, and by eliminating the secondary education from the elementary schools. Experience shows that to be a fatal policy, and the longer it continues the more secondary education will go down in Scotland. What does the School Board of Forfar say? That they are willing to carry on the old Scotch system of having secondary education in elementary schools. They wish to continue the ordinary grants they have as a Board School, and also to get this £100 for promoting secondary education in their school. If it is a sound theory that technical education should be adopted in our ordinary schools, then it will not do to adopt the scheme in its present form.

*MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

This Motion refers to a scheme of some magnitude. It is a scheme which chiefly affects Dundee, but also to some small extent three burghs represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has brought forward the Motion. The proportionate interest in it of these different communities will be understood when I point out that of any surplus funds five-sixths go to Dundee, and the remaining sixth is divided equally among the three burghs—Arbroath, Montrose, and Forfar. Forfar, therefore, from which place alone there is opposition, has one-eighteenth interest in the scheme. But even Forfar is not unanimously opposed to the scheme. The objection comes from the Town Council; but the educational authority, the School Board—as represented by its Chairman—are at least by a majority opposed to the proposition now before the House. I would call attention to the fact that the Commissioners, in fixing the conditions of the grant of £100, give the alternative that if the Forfar School Board do not choose to establish a higher class school in the meaning of the Education Act, then the money may be expended in sending foundationers to an advanced school elsewhere. The intention is that the Forfar School Board shall erect part of their academy into a higher class school; and to show that this is not regarded with alarm, the majority of the School Board say that while, of course, they would prefer to receive the grant un- fettered, yet, rather than lose it, they would take it as offered in the scheme. The scheme has the hearty approval, not only of Dundee, but of the educational authorities in Arbroath and Montrose, and, to a certain extent, of those in Forfar; and, therefore, I hops the House will not think of stopping it, as it will effect a great reform in the administration of the endowment.


As representing the borough most largely interested in this scheme, I wish to say I hope that the House will not accept the Motion.

The House divided:—Ayes 18; Noes 118.—(Div. List, No. 67.)

House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.