HC Deb 10 July 1889 vol 338 cc50-6

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Amendment proposed, Clause 2, page 1, line 11, to leave out the words "and the County of Monmouth."—(Sir William Hart Dyke).

Question again proposed, "That the words 'and the County of Monmouth' stand part of the Clause."

* MR. SWETENHAM (Carnarvon, &c.)

Since we discussed this matter last week I have had further opportunity of considering the question and of fortifying myself in the belief that the opinion I then expressed was the correct one. I hope also that the Government have availed themselves of the opportunity of considering whether the advice tendered to them is not such as they ought to accept. I cannot help thinking that if they would now withdraw from their position and assent to Monmouth being included it would go a long way towards smoothing the passage of this important Bill. I am quite certain, from the opportunity I have had of conferring with hon. Gentlemen opposite, that there is every disposition to be reasonable if only we arrive at a proper conclusion on this point. This disposed of, we could proceed at once to the consideration of the question of the Educational Council, and then all the other clauses will follow as a matter of course. I venture, therefore, to appeal again to the Government to give way on this point, and though late in the day we may make some progress, with the result that this useful measure will not be thrown over to another Session. I am afraid that if the right hon. Gentleman adheres to his Amendment another opportunity for full discussion may not present itself, and the Bill will be overthrown. We look forward most anxiously to what will be said by the Vice President of the Council, and I hope he will be able to consent that Monmouth shall not be excluded.

SIR J. PULESTON (Devonport)

I wish to join, as strongly as I possibly can, in the appeal of the hon. Gentleman. Monmouth is linked to Wales for educational purposes, especially in connection with the College for South Wales. As to the endowments to charities, they are being dealt with, if they have not already been dealt with, as I understand, in an entirely separate way. It is not an essential part of the Bill, and I hope the Government will give way upon it.


Mr. Courtney, I admit at once that I have had great difficulty in coming to a decision upon this point, and hon. Members would see the difficulties if they went closely into the subject. I admit that, so far as higher and elementary education are concerned, Monmouth is linked with Wales. Having made that admission, I am not prepared to relinquish any part of my argument on he last occasion. But there is one consideration which, on a practical matter of this kind, cannot be neglected, and that is the unanimous opinion on both sides of the House; and when I call to mind the appeals made by hon. Members behind me, who take great interest in Welsh education, I think it would be graceless in me were I to resist any further such an expression of unanimous feeling. Therefore I am prepared to relinquish this point as regards the inclusion of Monmouth. As regards the charities and endowments of Monmouth, the scheme of the Charity Commissioners is in a forward state; and I think it would be a very great pity if the first result of this Act was to pull to pieces the scheme built up by the Charity Commissioners with great care in connection with the Haberdashers' Company. I venture to submit to the Committee that these charities, or the scheme so far as it has gone, should be safeguarded by this Bill, of course allowing the right of appeal which is given in this measure. I hope hon. Members opposite will be mindful that I have made a very considerable concession, and that they on their part, remembering that this is an especially difficult matter to deal with, will be able to meet me in a correspondingly liberal spirit. I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

* MR. STUAET RENDEL (Montgomeryshire)

The Welsh Members on this side of the House thoroughly appreciate the spirit in which the hon. Member has dealt with this Amendment. We were taken by surprise when the proposal was made to interfere with the present order of things; at the same time, we are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the manner in which he has dealt with this particular point, and we accept his action as an augury of future progress in Committee upon this question. We also thank those of our friends and colleagues on the Government Benches who have assisted us in procuring the withdrawal of this Amendment, and I take their action in this matter as an evidence of their desire to set aside Party feeling in dealing with this important question; and we may hope that, notwithstanding the extraordinary difficulties of this subject, and the fact that there are not a few Amendments which if passed would render nugatory the Bill, with the assistance of our hon. Friends opposite we may, though at a late period of it, be able to effect legislation this Session.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3.


I beg to move, Clause 3, line 1, leave out the words "County Council," and insert "Joint Education Committees, as hereinafter mentioned."

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, to leave out the words "County Council," and insert the words "Joint Education Committees as hereafter mentioned."—(Sir William Sort Dyke.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'County Council' stand part of the Clause."


I gather that the Vice President is not disposed a* present to state the reasons which have induced him to introduce this very important Amendment, which goes to the root of the whole machinery of the Bill. This Bill recommends the County Council as the initiating body, and you have in this Bill another body called the National Board to which nothing is superior, except the Privy Council itself. The proposal of the Government would wholly change the character of the initiating body concurrently with the extinction of the National Board. It may be possible for us to come to some compromise; but I think it is sufficiently obvious that we could not accept this Amendment. There are subsequent Amendments, to safeguard, I presume, vested interests. That object we think is already amply and sufficiently met. We urge that to deprive us of the independence and responsibility of local initiation, at the same time that we are deprived of anything like Welsh or national control, would be a fatal step in regard to the working of the Bill. We think it would be perfectly clear to the Committee, when it came to consider the machinery proposed by the Amendments, that it was an unworkable machinery. There will be several speakers on this Amendment from more than one point of view, and I should like, therefore, to have my observations reserved until the Vice President has stated the grounds on which this Amendment has been moved.


What has really happened is this. I was very anxious to amend Clause 5, which I thought was not sufficiently explicit, and by inadvertence there have been taken off the Paper other Amendments which have been upon it for some time in my name, including one clause proposing that There shall be appointed in every county in Wales a joint Education Committee of the County Council of such county, consisting of three persons nominated by the County Council, and three persons, being persons well acquainted with the conditions of Wales and the wants of the people, nominated by the Lord President of Her Majesty's Privy Council. I admit that this is a very important question, but as we have endeavoured to frame the Amendment both the County Council and the Government will be represented, and we say the Government ought to be represented on account of the grant. It should be remembered that we also propose under the Bill that the Commissioners should appoint assistant Commissioners to attend to local inquiries and deal with local schemes; and in that way it is hoped to meet the objection that the Commissioners may not be sufficiently acquainted with the wants of Wales. I hope the proposals will bear the test of further discussion.

MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

I would point out to the Government that the scheme contained in the Bill is not one ensuring to the Welsh Representatives what they desire should be the future position of this question. The Government have every possible security they can desire, not only as regards the Charity Commissioners, but also in respect to the vote of this House, where they have a large majority; but if the Bill stood as it is proposed to be amended by the right hon. Gentleman, the people of Wales would have no security whatever that schemes entirely different from what they deem to be right may not be passed. The County Councils are to be merely initiative bodies, whereas a strong representation of the progressive and promotive power of the Welsh people ought to be given, and unless they can have a majority in the Joint Committees they will have no power whatever to prevent the passing of obnoxious schemes. All the progressive and promotive power will otherwise be on one side, and the people will have none. I would, therefore, urge on the Government that, for the sake both of education and of justice, they should give a distinct preponderance to the elective element on the Joint Committees, so as to admit of education being pushed forward in Wales, and to prevent the passage of schemes not acceptable to the Welsh people, and therefore utterly unworthy and irritating. If the Bill is passed as proposed, its effect will be still further to emphasize the divisions of opinion which exist in Wales, and to still further separate the classes of the Welsh people. If the Government will adopt the view I have expressed, they will do much to soften existing asperities, and to further the advance of education.

MR. KENYON (Denbigh, District)

May I venture to make a suggestion to the Government? In my opinion, the Joint Educational Committee should be one that would commend itself to the sympathies of Wales; and I do not think that as it is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman it will altogether satisfy the national sentiment. I would suggest that on this Committee the educational element of Wales should be more especially represented. Why should not representatives of the three University Colleges of Wales be put upon the Joint Committee? Again, there is a large body of Nonconformists who might also be represented. Then, there are those who sit on the County Committees, and those who are engaged in the work of national education, each of which bodies ought to be represented. I throw out this suggestion as a means of smoothing the passage of the clause through Committee; and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will make some concession in the direction I have pointed out.


As I think I can accurately represent the national sentiment of Wales on this question, I have ventured to put down an Amendment which I think will deal with the matter under debate in a satisfactory way. In order to give the elective element a further voice in the matter I propose that the three colleges of North Wales shall be represented on the Committee, and that there shall be three elected members of the County Councils. I have thought that this proposal would meet with the support of hon. Members opposite, and will really meet the difficulty that has arisen.


The abuse of the initiatory power will be checked by the safeguards provided by the existing Act, which enables objection to be taken to any scheme in both Houses of Parliament. I desire to avoid making the initiating body a large one, and shall be prepared to accept an Amendment to the effect that some high educational authority shall have the power of nominating an additional member of the committee. I cannot today attempt to define this proposal more accurately, and having made this concession I hope it will satisfy hon. Members.


I trust a satisfactory arrangement may be affected on this important and vital question. I cannot say the method the right hon. Gentleman has suggested would be one that I should fully accept, but it is an evidence of the fact that we are not very far apart. Under these circumstances, and looking at the hour we have reached, I hope we—

It being half an hour after Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.