HC Deb 15 July 1889 vol 338 cc481-92

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.


As this clause now stands we find that the just claims of the voluntary schools are excluded from the Bill, and with the view of bringing voluntary schools within the scope of the Bill, I have to move the Amendment of which I have given notice. I can only say how deeply I regret that in the many and very long discussions in and out of the House, upon technical education, I can offer to the Committee no more clear solution of this long-standing controversy. It is quite obvious that we, who are supporters of voluntary schools, find it impossible to let the clause stand as it now does, and we consider it our duty to bring these schools within the Bill. I do hope that hon. Members may see fit to accept the Amendment, or that at least the discussion may find some solution of the difficulty, and I am sure the time thus occupied will not be wasted.

Amendment proposed, Page 1, line 9, after the word "board," to insert the words "or Local Authority."

Question proposed, "That the words 'or Local Authority' be there inserted."

* SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, South)

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite whether he would consent to postpone this Amendment, because it will be observed there is another Amendment on the Paper, in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, which comes later on, and this, I think, we on this side of the House are disposed to accept. It is important to remember that what we have attempted in this Bill is to give aid and assistance in the matter of technical education in ail large centres of industry where School Boards exist and so also we are anxious to do all in. our power to assist voluntary schools in connection with these Board Schools. The Bill of 1887, which the Government introduced, restricted itself to this particular question just as we do now. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will find it possible to accept my suggestion and to leave this matter over until we reach the Amendment which stands later.

* MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

I rise to confirm what has been said by my right hon. Friend. I admit the matter is urgent, and I think we are all agreed upon that. But we must take care that in settling the matter we do justice to all sides. But I am hound to point out to those who take such a laudable interest in the matter that this is, as it stands, a one-sided Bill, that it permits technical education only in cases of school sunder School Boards. Now, the supply of elementary education to the country comes from "two sources—from the voluntary schools as well as from the School Board—therefore, I think my right hon. Friend is taking the right and manly course in moving his Amendment. The hon. Member for Manchester refers to the Amendment, which is not under discussion, and so I suppose I should be out of order in dwelling upon it at length. I may, however, say of it that it does not satisfy me or those with whom I am acting on this question—it does not cover cases in which there are no School ^Boards. However, we cannot enter upon the discussion of this controversial point, because the rules of debate do not admit of it. I am as anxious as anybody that an attempt should be made to promote technical education, but I cannot *do so by a Bill which does not deal with equal fairness with the voluntary schools of the country as well as Board Schools.

* THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)

I trust that the Vice President of the Council will see his way not to insist on the Amendment which he has moved, and which I do not think he supported with any extraordinary warmth of conviction. The subject of technical education has now been so long before the country that it would be very little short of a scandal if we failed to give some expression to what is the almost universally-acknowledged desire, that additional facilities for the promotion of technical education should be given. And it would be much to be regretted if a difference of opinion on a much-controverted subject connected with primary education should be allowed to stand in the way of that important object. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford must be aware that if he insists on raising in connection with this subject the very burning and difficult question of the application of rates to voluntary schools, it is impossible that any Bill on this subject can be passed either in the present Session, or, as far as I can judge, in any Session in which we are not able to devote a very great deal of time to the question. Under these circumstances it is, I think, well worth while for the House to consider whether it is not possible that a compromise such as that which has been indicated by the hon. Member for Manchester might be arrived at. Those who are interested in voluntary schools must be aware that they can hardly hope in the present Parliament, or in any Parliament that we are likely to see for some time to come, that they will be able to apply the direct assistance of rates to voluntary schools, and I ask them to consider whether it is at all probable that within any reasonable period they would obtain a greater concession on the part of the supporters of Board schools than is now within their reach, and also whether, on account of the difference of opinion which has arisen, they will take upon themselves the responsibility of preventing the application of local funds to the promotion of technical education in the face of the expressions of opinion which have proceeded from the localities interested in favour of this Bill. It would be very unfortunate if the industrial centres which desire to devote their local resources in some manner or other to the promotion of technical education should be debarred from doing so owing to what is not a very essential difference between the supporters of voluntary and Board schools respectively.

VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, Darwen)

I am sorry to say, in reply to the noble Lord, that we find the Bill fails in a matter of detail. But I do not think, from the point of view of high principle, that the local rates should not be applied to voluntary schools; and I do not think there is a very great difference between the Amendment as proposed by my right hon. Friend and the compromise which is offered by the hon. Member opposite. Whether the School Board goes to the rates or the voluntary schools go to the rates is not a very great difference of principle; but there is a very great difference of opinion between us as to the fairness with which voluntary schools are treated in the Bill, and, therefore, I hope that the Amendment of my right hon. Friend will be accepted. It is most important because, as the Committee is aware, it is not every parish in England that has a School Board or anything like it; and those parishes that have not, would be excluded from any benefit of technical education that this Bill would give. Apart from that I say, is it desirable that voluntary schools should go hat in hand to the Board and ask to have the advantage of technical education? We know that voluntary schools started in a position of superiority to Board Schools, and they have always been acknowledged to be in a position of equality. We have always thought that it is the Local Authority which should decide whether the School Board should or should not have technical education. We are willing that the School Board should decide for itself whether it should have technical education or not, but not that they should decide for the voluntary schools. It is, I think, a most reasonable Amendment, and I hope it will be insisted upon.

* MR. ARTHUR ACLAND (York, Rotherham)

I think, as the noble Lord said just now, that it would be a great misfortune if we were to fail to give the country the advantage of technical education through entering upon this question of the application of rates to voluntary schools. But I may point out that whatever may be the personal opinion of hon. Members opposite that of the Government has been distinctly expressed, and when the Royal Commission proposed that assistance from the rates should be given to voluntary schools, the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Government, declared that he did not propose to disturb the settlement arrived at in 1870, by accept- ing that recommendation. Apart from that, the reason why we object to the Amendment, is that this clause is intended to deal entirely with School Board districts, and the discussion should be confined to that question. The Bill proposes to deal only with great centres of industry, and non-School Board districts may be dealt with hereafter. We ask the Vice President of the Council to consider whether he could in lieu of his own Amendment consider with favour that which will be proposed by the hon. Member for Islington later on.

MR. FISHER (Fulham)

We are quite as anxious for a settlement of this question as hon. Member opposite. But if technical education is a good thing, then it is a good thing whether it is engrafted upon School Boards or upon voluntary schools. What hon. Members opposite are endeavouring to secure, is not a triumph for technical education, but for Board Schools. The position may be stated thus; they say:—"Our first is Board Schools; our second is Board Schools; and our whole is Board Schools." Whereas the difference on our side is that we put it this way:—"Our first is voluntary schools; our second is Board Schools, and our whole is technical education." When we find that hon. Members opposite agree in promoting technical education whether it be engrafted upon voluntary schools or upon Board Schools, then we shall be able to support the measure. But until that time comes, until voluntary schools are fairly treated in this respect, we shall oppose any measure of the kind, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will stick to his Amendment.

SIR U. KAY SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

I am sorry to hear the tone of the hon. Member's remarks so different to that in which the Committee was addressed by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member accuses us of wishing to gain a triumph for the Board Schools; but, indeed, there is no feeling of the kind in any section of the Committee. The feeling of the Committee is expressed, I think, in the words of the Vice President when he desired that we should arrive at a settlement of this question, and that at least, after all these efforts we should make some advance in the matter. The noble Lord opposite admitted that there was no great difference of principle between the suggestion of my noble Friend (Lord Hartington) and that made by the Government. If there is no great difference of principle surely that is one argument why we should try to arrive at an agreement. In the first place rates will be applied directly to the Board Schools, but voluntary schools will benefit by the assistance which School Boards will give in technical instruction for the use of voluntary schools. We cannot advance this Session so far as to secure technical education in parishes where there are no School Boards, but we may make some advance at all events in those parishes where Boards do exist, and if there is no difference of principle between us surely we ought to arrive at a compromise.

* MR. GEDGE (Stockport)

As representing a large borough, where there is no School Board, I must protest against the distinction which is to be made in favour of those places, even small parishes, which happen to have a School Board given to them, but taking away from large boroughs like Stockport the advantage of this Bill. As it does not seem possible from the discussion we have had that we shall arrive at any solution of our differences to-night, I move to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Sydney Gedge.)

* MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I would appeal to the hon. Member to allow us to debate the matter a little further. This Bill is desired in all parts of the House, and suggestions may be thrown out in debate which would lead to a working compromise.

* MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

I should deeply regret if this debate were brought to an abrupt close. I hope it-will be understood that the differences of opinion that have been displayed do not arise altogether on this side of the House. Many Members on this side are, I am sure, as anxious to promote technical education as any can be on the Opposition Benches.

* SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)

As a member of a School Board I should like to have this point argued out a little longer in order that ye may be more precisely informed as to the nature of that compromise that has been alluded to by the hon. Member for Manchester and by the noble Lord opposite. How is it to work, this compromise, in School Board districts? [Interruptions.] I think I am entitled to get an answer. It is difficult to carry on a speech by way of conversation; but I think I am in order, for, as I understand the Motion, we should report Progress, and I wish to put forth reasons why we should not yet report Progress while we are imperfectly acquainted with the nature of the compromise which has been alluded to. I should like to know how it will work in School Board districts. I do not know, Sir, whether I should be in order in proceeding further with this question?




Well, then, I will not enter into the subject; but I think it is desirable that we should have a little more time in order that we may have an opportunity of considering whether the compromise should be accepted or not.

MR. MOLLOY (King's County, Birr)

Although I do not agree with much that has been said on this side of the House, I am disposed to support the Amendment of the Government. I think we might be allowed to debate the Bill a little longer.


As there seems to be a desire on the part of the Committee to continue the Debate, I will withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. DELISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)

As to the Amendment, I should like some explanation, for I cannot say that I am satisfied with it. It appears to me that the control of Board School remains in the hands of the School Board; but in the Amendment which is proposed it would seem that the managers of voluntary schools are asked to give up part of their control into the hands of the Local Authority. It is the Local Authority that is to determine whether technical education shall be given in the school or not, whereas in the Board Schools the Board itself determines the question. Now, we are anxious to have technical education promoted; but we are not prepared to sacrifice the principle of complete independence which we have always maintained in regard to voluntary schools, and before I agree to the Amendment which has been proposed I should like to have an assurance that the managers of voluntary schools will not be deprived of any of their existing rights.


I understand the managers of voluntary schools will have complete control in the question. If they desire to have technical education, they will apply for it, and, on showing cause, obtain it.

MR. DIXON (Birmingham)

Perhaps it would be well if I were to give the explanations which have been asked for by some hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The objection we feel to the Amendment of the Government is that it involves the payment of rates to schools which are not managed by representatives of the ratepayers. Now, the compromise that we have to propose is that contributions may be made out of the rates towards the cost of technical education in voluntary schools; but that the management of such technical education should be in the hands of the School Board. Our proposal is that either or both of the two following courses may be taken: the School Board may open a school or class for the giving of technical instruction, which shall be open to scholars from Board Schools and voluntary schools on equal terms, or the Board may send technical instructors into a classroom in a voluntary school, the cost of such instruction to be paid by the School Board, who shall also receive the Government grants, and the said classroom shall be considered to be a School Board classroom whilst the technical teaching is going on. The result of this arrangement would be that in large towns where there are School Boards it would be quite possible to give scientific instruction to boys in voluntary schools. Now, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman raises at once the old difficulty which we settled in 1870, after discussions of great length and vehemence, and I am quite sure that if this Amendment is carried it will raise an amount of strong feeling and of agitation that will very much astonish hon. Gentlemen opposite. I desire to take this opportunity of impressing upon the Government that they are treading upon very delicate and dangerous ground: so long as they merely permit important educational questions to remain in abeyance, the acquiesence of Liberal Unionists will be comparatively easy, but the moment they sanction such reactionary measures as those now proposed strenuous opposition will certainly arise both in this House and in the country.


I do not doubt that the hon. Member for Birmingham has sincerely desired to propose a compromise which should be fair to the supporters of the voluntary schools. But he does not appear to have really grasped the difficulties of the question. I have the case of the supporters of voluntary schools in places where there are also School Board schools to be dealt with by those who represent such places. I represent a large industrial population in which there is no School Board. This so-called compromise in no way meets my case, and I decline to accept as satisfactory a proposal which would be inapplicable to the borough I represent, unless they are willing to have the infliction of a School Board forced upon them.


I am sorry to see this difficult question raised, and I had hoped that we might have passed further into the Bill before we encountered this difficulty. For myself I shall support the proposal of the Government. It must be remembered that there are 163 boroughs in England and Wales which have no School Boards at all, boroughs such as Birkenhead, Stockport, Preston, Warrington, and others. The noble Lord opposite appears to-night in a strong democratic character, and I am sure I do not know why. I think if this measure is limited in the way you have proposed it will do but little good. It can extend to only about one-third of the country, and I feel therefore bound to support the Government in the interests of technical education and of voluntary schools.


I would make a brief appeal to the hon. Member for Manchester and to the hon. Member for Rotherham. I understand the proposed compromise is that in a School Board district the School Board is to have the option of having classes for technical education, and of admitting to those classes children from voluntary schools. The point I make is this: that the proposed arrangement with the School Board is optional. I suggest that it be obligatory; also to have the option of establishing inside the voluntary school-houses classes for the techical education of the children of those schools. Naturally, the voluntary schools do not like to go hat in hand to the School Board, but is it not possible to make this arrangement obligatory upon the School Board, so that they shall be compelled to comply with any well-founded application of a voluntary school either to have some of its scholars admitted to the School Board classes specially, or to have a School Board instructor sent specially to its class-rooms?


The question to be decided is whether hon. Members opposite will be content to accept the system, providing payment out of the rates for technical education under the control of representatives of the people, and thus secure that technical education shall reach to all parts of the country. There are so many difficulties in the way that if this controversy, which was supposed to be settled in 1870, is raised again, then I am afraid that technical education must be postponed until this much larger question is settled. For my part, I think that the question cannot be settled until School Boards are universal throughout the country.


I can assure the Committee that no man has struggled more incessantly than I have for the last two years to find some fair solution of this difficulty; and more than that, some of the acutest and most intelligent men, both at South Kensington and at the Education Department, have also been puzzling their brains to find a solution. Now, the difference between the one side and the other in this question that has been raised is whether there should be a direct or an indirect application of the rates. I regret very much that as yet we do not seem to have found any way out of the difficulty.

It being after One of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.

And, it being after One of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.

House adjourned at one minute after One o'clock.