§ Order for Second Reading, read.
§ * MR. STUART RENDEL (Montgomeryshire)
In rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill, I am reminded that twice within the last twenty-four hours the affairs of Wales have occupied the attention of Parliament. Ten years ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian introduced a Bill upon the same subject, but for two centuries previously nothing Welsh received the slightest encouragement at the hands of Parliament. That neglect and indifference we now hope has passed away for ever, and we confidently anticipate that Parliament is favourably disposed to consider the wants of Wales in the direction which the Welsh people desire. Appeals to this House have been repeatedly made on this important subject. A Motion was introduced in 1875, repeated in 1877, and again in 1879. Those appeals, however, were unsuccessful. Perhaps Wales may reasonably attribute the want of success to the fact that a Conservative Administration was in power during the whole of that period. In 1880 there was no necessity for an appeal. One of the earliest acts of the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian was the appointment of a Departmental Committee to investigate thoroughly the whole 122 question of education in Wales, and to prepare the way for intermediate education. Wales owes a deep debt of gratitude to that Committee, over which Lord Aberdare presided, for their labours. Those who have read the Report of the Committee will admit that no inquiry was ever more thoroughly or ably conducted, no evidence more clear and complete, and no more valuable recommendations ever made to Parliament. Since that inquiry Wales has possessed a solid foundation of fact on which to raise this question, and there is little excuse for error or vagueness. The Committee touched upon the' absence of intermediate education as the principal difficulty and defect in the educational condition of Wales, and they pointed out that it was in respect of intermediate education that the most urgent need for legislation was to be found. Nevertheless, unhappily, it happened that the question of intermediate education proved—perhaps too thorny—certainly too intricate and extensive for the House of Commons to examine with any definite result, and the consequence was that higher education received the assistance which should have been afforded to intermediate education. In point of fact, in Wales we have been in the singular position of building our educational system from the top instead of from the bottom. One of the most important steps in our educational career was left, unhappily, unaccomplished, creating thereby a gap which is felt as a most serious drawback at the present moment. We have had other encouragement in addition to the labours of the Departmental Committee, and especially in the assistance which has been rendered to the cause of higher education by Mem- 123 bers, without distinction of Party. We had a Bill presented under the responsibility of the Government, which was introduced by the right hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). It was a Bill which ought to have received more general recognition than it did, and it would probably have resulted in legislation if the career of the Government which introduced it had been sufficiently extended. In introducing the present Bill, I regret that it has not undergone the careful and responsible consideration of a Minister properly charged with the administration of the Education Department. But I doubt whether the House of Commons has yet had presented to it even in a brief and cursory form, the case for a Bill of this nature, and I crave the indulgence of the House while I proceed to give some information upon the matter, simply premising that I owe mainly, and almost exclusively, all the information I venture to submit to the labours of the Departmental Committee. At any rate, I would ask the House to accept it not on my authority, but on the higher authority of the Committee and their Report. I do not believe that the House of Commons, or the English, Scotch, and Irish Members, can be at all acquainted with the miserable educational destitution of Wales. Let me direct attention, first of all, to the question of endowment. The general endowments of Wales as compared with the general endowments of England are, taking the population into account, in the proportion of one to five, or, in other words, England derives five times the benefit from endowments generally that Wales derives. The case is the same, although not quite so bad, in regard to educational endowments. They are one-third as compared with those of England. Taking it at per head it comes to 6¼d. in England, whereas some parts of Wales, such as Glamorganshire with its large and growing population, are so signally devoid of assistance of this nature that the endowments amount to no more than ¾d per head. In my own county — Montgomeryshire — there is only one endowed school, and it is entirely in the hands of one gentleman, a noble Lord, who happens to be a Conservative. Taking the general endowments of England per county, they average £55,575, whereas in Wales per county they only average 124 £1,656. Sir Hugh Owen, to whom Wales owes a deep debt of gratitude for the part he took in pioneering this question of education, was in the habit of pointing out that such was the dearth of encouragement for education in Wales that it might fairly be said that learning did not secure to any Welshman, however distinguished he might have been in the pulpit or at college, a higher stipend than £200 a year. Another fact is that these endowments, meagre as they are, are notoriously, for the main part, in the hands of the Church. That fact becomes fully apparent when we consider the position of the schools in Wales and the extent to which advantage is taken of such schools as do exist. It will be found that the intermediate education of England and Scotland provides, on the average, for the wants of something like 16 boys out of every thousand of the population, whereas the actual number of youths taking the benefits of intermediate education in Wales instead of being 16 per thousand is not one per thousand. There is accommodation — or rather there was in 1881—for somewhat more than one per thousand, but of the total number of 1,500 or 1,600 then taking advantage of the schools, it was pointed out by the Departmental Committee that no less than two-thirds were boys belonging to the Church of England. The Committee observed that from that circumstance it was tolerably clear the schools failed to attract the Nonconformist boys, that even such education as these schools provided was restricted, and that the great majority of the Welsh youths were, from their religious convictions, precluded from participating in the education provided. The result has been to reduce the proportion of Welsh Nonconformist youths who avail themselves of the advantages of intermediate education not to one in a thousand, but to less than one in three thousand. Then, again, there is a special case in regard to Wales which ought to be presented to this House. In the first place there is a bi-lingual difficulty. For a long period it was honestly thought by Englishmen that the best thing that could happen for Wales would be that the Welsh language should be suppressed. We are now in a different frame of mind, and all agree 125 that whether that is an object to be desired or not, it is a thing which cannot be accomplished. Nor is it to the interest of any part of the Empire that the Welsh nationality should be weakened, and at present the greater part of the population in Wales is bi-lingual. There is another special argument which the Welsh Members wish to urge, and that is, Wales at present is subject to another peculiar though gladly borne burden in having to support its own religion. The great bulk of middle class Wales has to support its own religion at a cost, as we were told last night, of £300,000 a year, a very serious disadvantage to the country when taken in conjunction with the want of endowments. There is a minor point worth stating, that Wales is shut out from all the great prizes of education. The University prizes and the prizes of the Church itself are of great value in stimulating and supporting education, but from these the Welsh Nonconformists are in effect excluded. And the hardship becomes a very practical one when we remember that the theory under which the State is served is one of open competition. It is said that the Service of the State is fully open to competition and to talent, but can that be true in the same sense in regard to Wales as it is true in regard to England and Scotland? I am sure that the hardship of calling upon a Welshman to enter into the severe competition of life when he is bound down by a system of examination which gives him no credit whatever for the circumstance that he has a separate language of his own, is one which ought to receive the kindly and favourable consideration of the British House of Commons. With this disadvantage to contend with, it is a wonder that Welshmen triumph over it as they do. With all these disadvantages, the people of Wales have this compensation, that they have a greater aptitude for the study and acquisition of language than the English people generally. In that respect they even rival the Germans themselves. It is a common complaint that in commercial trading and manufacturing pursuits Englishmen are generally distanced by Germans, who are harder working, more thrifty, and better educated men, with a much greater command of language. I submit that the Welsh rival, 126 even if they do not surpass, the Germans in all these respects. They have great natural gifts for the command of foreign tongues; they are not wanting in adventurous spirit, and they are more thrifty, and contented with less than their English neighbours. Even from an economical point of view, I think this House could make no better investment than to assist the Welsh youth in acquiring higher education and in relieving us from the reproach that we are being ousted by Germans in places where hitherto the English have carried the day. It is not only that the Welsh possess these peculiar qualities, but it will be generally admitted that they have a natural tendency for learning of this kind. They have an inherent, traditional, and historic love of learning, which does not exist among the weekly-wage class in England, and for which we must go to Scotland to find a parallel. Let me instance the case of the creation and maintenance of the College at Aberystwith—an institution which was created originally by the pence of the poor, and which found a large measure of support from the quarrymen of North Wales and the miners of South Wales. For these reasons I think the encouragement of the Welsh people in respect of learning would be the best investment the Government could make. Wales has been sometimes spoken of as the cradle of the British name and race. It claims an older religion, and it has an older literature, possibly, than England. It points to its educational aptitudes, and it asks for the completion of the missing link which hampers it in a most unhappy manner. I therefore present this Bill to the House of Commons in the hope of a favourable hearing and with the consciousness that it is a measure which ought to be considered without the slightest regard to Party feeling, and ought in the common interest to be no longer allowed to hang between heaven and earth at the will of the political exigencies of the day. But I take leave to say a word or two on such features of it as distinguish it from the Bill which was introduced at the time the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) was in office, and when that measure was armed with all the weight and power which the then Government 127 could give to such a measure. The Bill is one for the creation of the necessary local machinery for the establishment of intermediate education in Wales. It is one which in so doing seeks to utilize all the existing educational institutions and endowments which the locality may deem properly available for such purposes. In that sense it renders it possible to reform those endowments with a greater knowledge of the necessities of each case and with somewhat more rapidity and uniformity of purpose and principle than is possible even for the skilled and experienced body at the Charity Commissioner's Office. It of course provides power for establishing schools when schools are absolutely wanted, and, in short, it will enable Wales to complete the educational ladder which it desires to see raised. I would say, further, that the Bill is drawn for the purpose of securing educational autonomy as well. Now,the House has perhaps heard enough of the special claims of Wales within the last twelve hours; but at any rate, I would point out that this question is not one which ought to stir the serried ranks of the Opposition against us. Here is a case in which they may join with us. We ought to have a common purpose; we ought to be able to give that purpose effect with unanimity. But it must be on the basis of recognizing the autonomy of Wales in regard to education. Whatever may be the case with regard to more important interests in Wales than that of education, at any rate, in regard to education the case of Wales is so special, is so free from the hampering influences of any existing institutions and traditions, that surely Wales may be entitled now to ask that she should manage her own educational affairs. For my own part, I confess I should not have ventured, and probably would have been unwilling, to have put my name on the back of this Bill if it had not been that it did provide for Welsh autonomy in regard to education. At any rate, this Bill will represent that which we sincerely believe Wales is willing to accept with gratitude. It represents just so much and no more; it represents —that is, the minimum of what Wales will be prepared to accept. Wales is hardly able to provide a rate; but Wales is willing to do that, we believe, provided she is met by 128 the Treasury in the manner suggested by, this Bill. At the same time, the circumstances in which the rate is required, and the fact that Wales considers that enormous national endowments are not rightly applied, are such as would make Wales restive under any serious modification of this Bill. Therefore, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, I do think I ought plainly to state to the House that we believe there is no room for any serious compromise or modification in respect of the essential provisions of the measure. We hope and trust that the Bill will not be shelved, but will be treated as a serious proposition which, at any rate, ought to be advanced as far as the power of concession and the power of the Government go— in a spirit of practical aid to the question, and not in a spirit we would regard as unworthy, as dilatory, and as intended to defeat the object of the Welsh Members. I have no doubt that if the Government were willing to permit this Bill to be advanced by the House of Commons as the House of Commons, the question would be settled; but for my own part, and I speak with the assent of, at any rate, the large majority of the Welsh Members, I should not be at all disposed to see this Bill simply sent upstairs to a Select Committee. I thank the House for the indulgence with which it has heard the remarks I have thought it my duty to make in introducing this Bill, of which I now beg leave to move the Second Reading.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. A. WILLIAMS (Glamorganshire, South)
I beg, Sir, to second the Resolution for the Second Reading of this Bill, and, at the outset I may say I feel much difficulty in endeavouring to describe the process of evolution by which this measure is now presented to the House of Commons, without at the same time, repeating some portion of what has has been so well said by my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Stuart Rendel) in introducing the Bill, and thus trespassing too much on the attention and forbearance of the House. It is related of Mr. Justice Maule that when leader of the Northern Circuit, and before he took his seat on the Bench, he was 129 once asked how it was that he secured so many more verdicts than any one else, and his reply was—I get my verdicts in this way; I have twelve men to bring over to my side, and I go on repeating what I have to say over and over again, till I have brought them over.Such, then, must be my excuse if I do occasionally repeat what may have already been said in reference to this important measure. It is eight years ago —now nearly nine—since the appointment of the Departmental Committee by the Liberal Government, to which allusion has been made by my hon. Friend. The hon. Member paid a just tribute to the efficiency and skill displayed by that Committee in the inquiry they made, and there was one quality which they displayed in a remarkable degree—namely, a sympathetic insight into the character of the Welsh people. What, I ask, does the House think of the statement contained in a letter written by Lord Spencer, who was at that time the Head of the Education Department, to Lord Aberdeen, on the 25th of August, 1880? Lord Spencer said—It has been represented to Her Majesty's Government that the existing Educational Institutions, of a class above elementary schools, are not only insufficient in number, but so inconveniently situated, and in some cases so fettered by denominational restrictions, as to be at once inadequate to meet the wants of the Principality, and unsuitable for the character of the population.That Committee inquired whether Wales had been, and was being, fairly treated in the matter of middle class education. I venture to say that since the Report of that Committee was presented to Parliament and action was taken on the recommendation of the Committee, the case of Wales has taken an entirely new position, and the Principality has risen to a much higher point of consideration in regard to Imperial matters. Last night we Welshmen were engaged in an important debate affecting the religious interests of Wales; and to-day we are discussing another important subject affecting the education of the Welsh people. We are only now beginning to show how very little Englishmen understand as to what Wales is, and what Welshmen are. How few Englishmen are there who can realize that a few hours railway journey will take them 130 into the heart of a country where there are a million of people who speak a language which, as the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. W. Abraham) has said, they not only cannot understand, but never would be able to learn. According to the last census statistics of 1871, the population of Wales and Monmouth was 1,426,514, of whom no less than 1,006,110 habitually spoke the Welsh tongue, and of these 870,220 performed their religious devotions in that language. Even now, in my own native country, wherever I go, either in Rhondda or the more rural districts, I still find that Welsh is the common language of the people as habitually used in the home, in the workshop, and in the market. The Departmental Committee, in their Report of seven years ago, mentioned, with a kind of wonder, that there were 12 Welsh newspapers, 18 magazines, including two quarterlies, and a large number of books, all published in the Welsh language, and that as much as £100,000 a year was spent in Welsh literature and the Welsh Press. All this, they said. was done by the humbler folk—not the wealthy class, but the poorest of the people. The Welsh press existed then; and exists now, mainly for the poor, they love their language and the literature it has produced, and the facts I have stated indicate, moreover, that the Welsh people entertain a deep love for knowledge, in endeavouring to acquire which they have for generations encountered the greatest difficulties. Up to 1870, as was disclosed by the Committee's inquiry, the Welsh people had nothing provided in the way of education, except what they obtained in their Sunday Schools and under a most elementary system of instruction. In spite of this, however, they attained so great an advance in their literature as can only be considered really marvellous. The Education Act of 1870 immediately put into their hands an instrument for acquiring knowledge of which they availed themselves to a most remarkable degree. It is one of the most striking instances of the way in which they made use of that Act, that although at that time the means of acquiring elementary instruction were all that were afforded—that instruction being given, too, in a foreign language—because hundreds of thousands of Welsh children were 131 taught the rudiments of knowledge in a language quite as foreign to them, indeed more so, than French is to myself. Nevertheless, in spite of this, the ardour and enthusiasm of those poor Welsh colliers and workmen were so great that they actually created a true workman's college in which the higher branches of learning were to be acquired. I allude to the College at Aberystwith, to which reference has been made. Then, continuing the process of evolution, we come to the serious difficulty under which the population laboured. The House will perhaps forgive me if I quote from the Report of the Departmental Committee an illustration of the ardour, the desire, the longing and the thirst for knowledge which have always been shown by the Welsh people. The Report says—It is not uncommon for young men, after having saved a moderate sum of money earned by the labour of their hands, to put themselves again to school, or to procure instruction in a much more desultory and irregular way, and then, with such preparation, to seek admission to the College at Aberystwith or to one of the Theological Colleges.In illustration of this I may state that quarrymen and workmen at Bala and Festiniog, out of their weekly wages, were found subscribing to exhibitions to help forward the cleverest of their children to higher places of education. But here, I am bound to admit, there was a sad difficulty and a sad want—namely, the want of the careful preparation necessary for that higher education. We all know the old story told by the Schools Inquiry Commission years ago—namely, that 16 boys out of every 1,000, where there was anything like fair education, ought to be receiving education higher than that provided in the elementary schools; but the result of the inquiry made by that Commission was a very remarkable one. They stated that in Wales and Monmouth, with a population [...]f 157,000, taking the number at 10 per 1,000, 15,700 should be obtaining intermediate education. Sir Hugh Owen put forward a scheme by which he said we ought at least to have 150 schools with an average attendance of 100 between the elementary schools of each locality and those Colleges at Bangor, Aberystwith, and Cardiff. What did the Departmental Committee find, and what were materials from which their conclusions were drawn? They 132 found 27 grammar school, entirely under Church control, frequented only by the children of Churchmen, which was not what the greater part of the Nonconformists in Wales wanted. I do not wish to say a word in disparagement of those ancient ecclesiastical schools—the grammar schools. Members of my family for generations have reaped some of the advantages of the higher class of education at the Cowley Grammar School, which has sent into this House and other high places in England men who have adorned the positions they have held by reason of the education they have received. I may also say that my father was birched by the head master of Cowley Grammar School, and that my eldest brother was, 50 years afterwards, birched by the same master. There is no doubt that for the class for which they were intended there was no better system of classical teaching than that afforded by those old grammar schools; but they are not the schools of the middle and lower class. The endowments of those schools are not the endowments required in that great system of education which the Departmental Committee said was absolutely necessary. The result of their Report is embodied in a single paragraph in this Bill. The first section of the Bill, the Definition Clause, which defines intermediate education, says—The expression 'intermediate education' means a course of education which does not consist chiefly of elementary instruction, in reading, writing and arithmetic, but which includes instruction in Latin, Greek, the Welsh and English language and literature, modern languages, mathematics, natural and applied science, or in some of such studies, and generally in the higher branches of knowledge.Now, I do think that this is one of the most interesting experiments, if we should be allowed to make it, ever attempted in this country in regard to its system of education. Let us try, by the light of experience, to realize what we mean. We all know that there is an important body in this country which for years has been endeavouring in a public spirited way to develop a system of what is termed technical instruction. It is a matter of controversy as to what technical education really means, and I am sorry to find that some of our great Leaders have attempted to throw cold water on the plan. No one who 133 has read the articles which have appeared in the May number of the Con-temporary Review, or who have studied with anything like care the industrial progress of the Continent, can doubt that the system proposed for Wales is accessible, and would exactly meet the definition contained in the clause I have read. The answer in that magazine to Lord Armstrong is as clear as it can be, and from every centre of population throughout the country men like the hon. Member for the Govan Division one and all say, "This is the kind of teaching you want." It will make our resources what they ought to be, and enhance our arts and industry by a higher system of training in the arts and sciences. Sir Joseph Lee, in one of those articles, gives an apt illustration of the value of these intermediate schools. He says a man came to him—an ordinary plasterer—who said he knew he was fitted for something better than a plasterer, and, if he had a chance of going to a good school to get some scientific training, he might succeed in his effort to better his condition. That man got an exhibition in one of the technical schools of the Midland Counties, and now occupies a leading position as an artistic designer in one of our great houses. In my own county of Glamorgan, during the last 20 years, it is a most piteous sight to see how much ability, of a kind that is capable of beneficial development among the working classes, is going to waste because we have no schools of the kind I refer to scattered about the district. We do not, as Welshmen, grudge our English and Scotch fellow countrymen their share of the general wealth which is developed by the skill and industry of the two countries; but what we do complain of is that we should have been left for generations without a fair chance of getting on as well as our neighbours, through the want of intermediate education. Within my own personal experience I have seen scores of men, who, as foremen and workmen, might have been developed into clerks of works, underground viewers, and managers of collieries and works, aye, and even into owners of some of the great industrial enterprizes of the country. This is all we ask—namely, that we may be put on something like a level with the rest of the kingdom. It 134 is said there is no precedent for our demand. But I say there is a precedent; at any rate, something analogous to it already exists, for about £78,000 a year is now being devoted to higher education, £42,000 being down in this year's Estimates for the Scottish Universities, and £36,000 for the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. Why, then, should Wales not have her fair share of this? We have been too long overlooked and neglected, and I agree with my hon. Friend, who has moved the Second Reading of the Bill, when he says we do not want to have this question discussed any longer. We have found that our claim has been recognized by a Liberal Government for some subvention in the interests-not only of my country, but in the interests of the whole kingdom, and I say that Her Majesty's Government cannot do a wiser or more simple act than to grant us what we ask for in this Bill. By taking that course they will not only be conferring a blessing on Wales, but will be doing that which we believe will prove a great blessing to England also. It will be an experiment that will lead the way, I sincerely believe, to a system of practical training in Science and Art which will enable us to maintain the proud position we have always maintained of being the greatest manufacturing and commercial nation in the world.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Mid. Lothian)
Sir, I should feel some scruple in availing myself of your permission to address the House after the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill, inasmuch as I intended to follow in their footsteps, were it not that I do not regard the measure as raising a question on which Parties in this House are sharply divided; and I do not consider it my function to address any reproach or criticism to the existing Government in relation to the subject, although I should be very glad if I were able to make an appeal to them that would appear in their eyes to have any weight or value. But, Sir, I. must also say that I am governed by the consciousness that it is not necessary for me to enter at any length upon a discussion of the Bill, for my desire may be almost summed up in the declaration. that I wish to echo the speeches of my two hon. Friends who have just addressed the House, and to add any 135 influence that can be added to their statements, by my bearing witness to the truth and reasonableness of those statements. I must own that I never approach a question of this kind without feeling that this House ought to bear in mind, in dealing with a Welsh question, one of the considerations which ought, at all events, to recommend a temper of indulgence and liberality, and that is, the unquestionable neglect of Wales, which has for a long period marked the legislation of this country. It may be said this has been the fault of Wales; but if that is so it means that Wales has not pushed her claims with as much energy as she might have been justified in using. There has not been in Wales the same amount of active sympathy between the upper and lower classes which happily prevails in England. It seems, perhaps, strange to speak of the neglect of Wales at a moment when within the last 12 hours the House of Commons has been engaged in an interesting debate on a matter vitally touching considerations connected with Welsh nationality. I only wish to put on record my belief that the whole annals of Parliament do not, so far as I am acquainted with them, furnish a single case in which, on two successive days, Parliament has been occupied with two successive subjects, both of the highest interest to Wales. It may be hoped that this is a sign of coming improvement. I do wish to point out one thing. Measures have been taken with regard to Wales which were well-intentioned, but which have not been beneficial in what I may term a modified but real sense to the national interest—I refer to the foundation of Jesus College. So long as full justice was done to the Welsh language, to Welsh hopes, customs, ideas, and wants, my opinion was that the foundation of a college of that kind might have been beneficial. But very shortly after the foundation of Jesus College came the Revolution, and however beneficial that was to the general liberties of this country, it was anything but beneficial to the local wants of Wales. From that time down to the reign of Queen Anne there was a determined policy of Anglicizing Wales by force, by means of occupying every post with English-speaking people who were totally incapable of, or, at all events, who remained entirely without 136 the faculty of understanding the language or gaining the sympathies of the people of the country. This college, which was well and wisely planned, although producing many able and distinguished men, has, I am afraid, operated on the whole as a means of detaching from Wales, instead of attaching to the Principality, many of the most prominent of her sons. I hope that the House will look liberally at this question; and as regards Her Majesty's Government, I cannot apprehend that there is any reason why they should oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, which, in its most essential points, corresponds with a Bill introduced by a former Government, and which it was understood embodied principles on which both sides of the House were agreed. I am aware there is a point of great importance—namely, the introduction of a local authority—on which there may be, although I hope there will not be, a difference of opinion between us. Now, Sir, for my part I believe the Mover of the Second Reading was quite right in saying that from his point of view the introduction of the local authority, which we did not formerly possess, is vital to the well working of the Bill, and that consequently he would not be prepared to take the responsibility of putting the Bill forward unless that authority is introduced. Even if the Government do object to the authority—and I know of no reason why they should do so—the proper time to discuss the matter, and, if necessary, to take issue upon it, is in Committee, when the House has formally assented to the principle of the Bill. This remark will probably apply also to other important provisions of the Bill. This would be far better than that an issue should be hastily raised on the Second Reading of the Bill. Now, Sir, I cannot leave this question without bearing my testimony to the truth of the statements that have been made with regard to the claims of Wales upon this subject. No one can examine the votes of the House with respect to Ireland and Scotland without seeing that, so far as claim is concerned, that proposition neither requires nor admits of argument. Whether Scotland or Ireland have had justice may be open to debate; but at all events Ireland has had something, and at all events Scotland has had some- 137 thing, while Wales has had nothing. Until the question of Aberystwith College came into view that was mathematically true. That College owes it origin to action which, if ever there was a popular movement, was the result of a popular movement. There was no power able or disposed to raise that College except what sprung simply, purely, and directly out of the hearts and affections of the people. Upon that testimony to the want and the desire of the Welsh people to supply that want I think my hon. Friend might have been content to let the willingness of the people of Wales to help themselves rest. There is no severer test of popular desire than that accepted by my hon. Friend, who is willing to suspend his Measure and say nothing shall be done except in conjunction with that form of effort on the part of the people of Wales—effort such as they have made in respect to the College of Aberystwith. Now, we hear in the case of Aberystwith College that which I heard long ago with great interest and satisfaction in regard to the University at Athens. Not only the youth, but the grown men and even the graybeards of Greece went to Athens to obtain education at that University. Now, what is there in the way of the acceptance of this Bill? I am, I hope, resorting to unnecessary suppositions. I have no reason to suppose that the Government intend to resist the endowment of the Welsh County Councils with functions proposed to be given by this Bill. Let the House, if possible, after all these long years of neglect, with a considerable sum at their debit which they ought, if possible, to efface, and a certain amount of discredit to Parliament which they ought to counterbalance—at all events at this stage do that which they cannot do without the help of the Government, and by assenting to the Second Reading go as far as they can in supporting the Bill. Unquestionably there is between us a large amount of concurrency. Such a course will not commit the House to more than this—that they admit there is a considerable case of justice and practical necessity for taking some positive measures now. I am not aware of anything in the nature of this subject which ought to make the House contemplate with satisfaction, or even with toleration, any postpone- 138 ment of it. I believe with my hon. Friend that the Government would do a prudent thing in carrying the measure forward, as by doing so they would escape what might otherwise be a series of interminable debates.
§ * MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
I rise principally to point out how practical effect can be given to the suggestion just made by the right hon. Gentleman. I shall not detain the House by any attempt to argue the necessity for an intermediate Education Bill, or to go into the details of the present Bill, Governments representing both sides in succession have admitted the necessity for such a measure and repeatedly promised this boon, or rather this justice to the Welsh people. Now what I want to urge is that under these circumstances not only are you doing a serious injury to the Welsh people, but you are committing over again the same mistake which has brought on all our troubles with Ireland; you are proving to the Welsh people either the unwillingness or the incompetence of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to carry out what it has repeatedly admitted it is its duty to do. And it is such an unnecessary piece of folly and incapacity. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has repeatedly told us the remedy for this incapacity is devolution of the powers of the House to Grand Committees. Cannot the Government refer this Bill to a Grand Committee, which remember is after all a miniature of the whole House, and in which the Government will have a proportionate majority. I think with all the Scotch business before the House it would be almost impossible to deal with this Bill in a Committee of the whole House, which means that 40 or 50 Members would attend regularly and do the work, while the remaining 630 Members would stream in and out and perhaps secure the insertion of Amendments which would apparently be harmless, but which would in fact make a complete mess of the whole Bill. By referring it to a Grand Committee you could ensure that it should be a safe as well as an efficient Bill; while, viewed from our side of the House, we should get the best and most thorough-going Bill we can expect to get while the Conservative Government is in power. If it proved defective in working, those defects could be remedied 139 when a Liberal Government came into power; but, in the meantime, the present rising generation of Welshmen would not be sent out into the world unprovided with those educational advantages which they desire as much as their Scotch compatriots, which they need as much and would use as well. They have, like the Scotch, being a comparatively poor nation, to go in large numbers to seek their fortunes out of their native land,and it is cruelly unjust to continue to send them out at a disadvantage as regards educational facilities, which the Scotch have so long enjoyed, which you have so repeatedly promised to the Welsh, and which they are, I repeat, as anxious for and fitted to turn to good advantage as the Scotch are themselves. Not only are you doing this injustice and neglecting this duty, but such a course is most unstates manlike, for you are thus creating and justifying the demand for Home Rule for Wales. When such a simple and practical remedy is in your power, by which you will confer a great benefit, secure credit to your Government, and avoid a great danger, it seems to me absolutely inconceivable that you should neglect such an opportunity. I have spoken of the thirst among the Welsh for education. Now, bearing on this, I hold in my hand a most important statistical Return of the classes from whom the pupils of our North Wales College have come. It will be evident to the House that a college is not the educational institution most available for men of the class of farmers and quarrymen, but that intermediate educatian is far more valuable for them. Those of us interested in education for Wales threw ourselves heart and soul into the movement for colleges, because it was the only thing we could do then and we felt sure it would necessitate the still more important provision of technical and intermediate education if introduced. But look on what the efforts of these poor men have been actually to provide the highest educational agencies for their children. The quarrymen of Bethesda—of a single quarry—subscribed £1,500 towards the establishment of the college, and though bad times came almost immediately upon them, and they had only four days' work a week, they had actually paid up within a very short time £1,000 140 of this amount, and not only so, but the three classes that have supplied the largest number of students for the North Wales College are, first, the farmers, whose average holding is 46 acres, who in the few years, during which it has been established, have supplied 29; next to them come the clergy and ministers of religion, who are the parents of 84 of our students, and then come the quarrymen with 23 students in the few years during which the college has been established. The fact is, that the poor Welsh farmers and the quarrymen were, in proportion to their means, the most liberal supporters of the North Wales College, putting those of us who belong to the wealthier and leisure classes to shame by the largeness of their contribution. Now, I put it to the House, whether men willing to make such sacrifices—for think what a sacrfice it must be for a quarryman to send his son to college—willing thus to avail themselves of the advantages provided, do not deserve to have the opportunities for qualifying themselves for their own work, and for work elsewhere which technical and intermediate education would furnish. And look too at the way in which the Welsh farmers have come forward to avail themselves of technical agricultural information. Why, on one market day last week, I believe the farmers in Anglesey raised £100 towards a dairy school, and I will undertake to say if Government will only back us up we will make North Wales a model of technical agricultural information for the whole country. Now, Sir, I do put it to the House; is it not simply a disgrace to us, a confession of disreputable incapacity on the part of the Imperial Parliament if we delay any longer to provide the Welsh with this education which they are willing to make sacrifices for far exceeding those called for from any part of the Three Kingdoms and to avail themselves of when provided. I repeat this is no Party question, and I do urge the Government to take this opportunity of pressing the matter forward.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
From the condition of the House I think we are likely to come to an amicable conclusion on this subject. Of one thing I am certain, and that is that no one can approach the question with a more sincere desire to 141 improve—to reform if you like—the educational endowments of Wales, than myself. I note with pleasure two or three observations which have fallen from the opposite Benches. I note for instance the amende honourable which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), and the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Stuart Rendel) made to Aberystwith College for the slight they threw on that institution by the proposal during the Premiership of the right hon. Gentleman to disendow it. They have now shown by their words that they still have some sympathy with Aberystwith College. I am glad that the efforts of the Conservative Party on that occasion were instrumental in preserving the grant which was then given and which is still given out of the public revenue to that institution. Now I shall criticize the Bill in no unfriendly spirit. I will approach the question in what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian describes as a spirit of liberality. The right hon. Gentleman supported the Second Reading of this Bill on the ground that Jesus College, at Oxford, has not entirely fulfilled its duties towards Wales, and that something yet remains to be done. But I observe that Jesus College and its responsibilities towards Wales will not be affected in the slightest degree by any provision in this Bill, and if I do not follow the right hon. Gentleman upon the point it is upon that account. Passing from Jesus College, I venture to lay down an axiom which I believe will be accepted on both sides of the House when dealing with the educational endowments in Wales, and that is that politics should be eliminated. But when I look at the Bill I find that the names at the back of it are only the names of Radical Members. I regret that the Radical Members for Wales have not endeavoured to secure upon the back of the Measure the names of some of those who are interested in education in Wales, but who are not of the same political opinion as themselves. There is now before the House another Bill dealing with precisely the same subject, and on not altogether different principles—the Bill of the hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Kenyon). That Bill should, I think, go hand in hand with this Bill. The two 142 Bills are genuine and legitimate endeavours to make the intermediate education in Wales better. Why should not both side of the House shake hands upon this question? Why should we not endeavour to push forward the same object in a spirit of conciliation? I have said that politics ought to be eliminated from the question of education, but I find that the authorities who are to deal with education in Wales under the Bill are the County Councils. Now, it is well known that the County Councils in Wales have been elected on political lines entirely. Indeed, the Leaders of the Opposition invited the electors of Wales in electing County Councils to act, not on the principle of electing the best men, but of electing their own men. The Bill not only deals with education, but it amounts to an amendment of an Act which was only passed last session, the Act for the creation of County Councils. County Councils have hardly got into harness. They hardly know how they will work the business of the counties which has been entrusted to them, and yet it is now proposed to throw on the shoulders of these Councils, who are already overworked, the control of the whole of the secondary and technical education in their counties. But I am bound to say that representing as I do, to a large extent, the agricultural interest, I cannot at the present time willingly accept a principle which will place another rate upon the farmers. We have heard from the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) that the 40 acre farmers of North and South Wales are poor men. It is hard that we should place upon the backs of these men an additional rate, and I am perfectly sure, speaking as I do for the farmers of Wales and the border counties, that they will resent the imposition of another rate, although they are most anxious that as far as possible the educational endowments of their neighbourhood should be used to the utmost advantage of the people. And while the Bill may throw an additional rate upon the farmers, it also gives power to deprive the different parishes of endowments which at the present time belong to the poor, that is. to say, the endowments which are intended to support and do support the elementary education of the cottager. These endowments can be swept away 143 from the localities to which they now belong to another place inside or outside the county, and devoted to the support of establishments for the middle classes, who are much better able to pay for the education of their sons than the poor men are able to pay for the education of theirs. The Bill upon this subject which was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was scouted out of the Principality because it was considered to be a Bill which entailed the robbery of the poor. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that his Bill met with so little favour in Wales, because it took away the endowments of the poor in order to create good schools for the upper and middle classes. This Bill errs, though not so grossly, in the same direction. No doubt, in return for taking away the endowments of the poor which are for elementary education, you say "we will give the poor man some advantage in regard to middle class education." But it is elementary education he wants; there are only a few who want middle or higher education, a few here and there who will take advantage of the new educational establishments which may be planted in towns; but the majority of cottagers will be left in a worse position than before. These are difficulties well worthy of consideration. You tax the farmer, you disendow the cottager, and at the same time you strike a blow at the existing middle-class schools in Wales and on the Welsh borders. Here I venture to point out that all along the borders of Wales are educational establishments, at Chester, Oswestry, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Gloucester, and elsewhere, all providing education of which the inhabitants of Wales avail themselves, for it is often very much easier to travel by railway to these border towns than to cross from one part of a Welsh county to another. It is impossible to discuss facilities for the education of the Welsh people without taking into consideration these establishments along the Welsh border and to which Welsh farmers and the middle classes send their sons for education. There is an excellent school at Oswestry which no doubt hon. Members opposite know very well, at the head of 144 which is Mr. Owen Owen, a school which largely supplies education to the border countries, not an endowed school, but one of those excellent self-supporting middle-class schools which you ought to consider when you are apportioning rates and endowments, and setting up State schools, that you may not injure them. These schools are doing excellent work, they are exceedingly well managed, and if you strike a blow at these, you are injuring the cause of middle-class education. These are some of the objections that naturally occur to anyone interested in education in Wales, and who has read the Bill of my hon. Friend. I have mentioned the objections that arise from bringing political opinions into action in this question, and County Councils are political bodies; I have pointed out the hardship upon farmers and colliers from the taking away of endowments of elementary education, and now I turn to another point that deserves the attention of hon. Members. In all schools where there are boarders, I think Nonconformists and Churchmen will agree it is almost impossible to conduct education without inculcating some definite religious belief. It is different where you have to deal only with day pupils, for then you may omit religious teaching, because the children will receive it at home, or elsewhere. But where the school is for the time being the home of the children, there should be some definite form of religious teaching, be it Wesleyan, Calvinistic, Primitive Methodist, Church of England, or Roman Catholic. Guard it if you like by a conscience clause, as is done in some elementary schools, but there should be some definite form of religion taught. But this Bill excludes from the Board the power of allowing any definite religious teaching to be carried on in any of the schools that may be established under the Bill. I cannot help thinking that would hardly be acceptable to parents.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
Of course I cannot go into the particulars of the Bill, but I think it will be found that there is one clause which declares that any scheme relating to one of these schools, shall provide that there shall be no religious catechism or formulary 145 taught which is distinctive of any particular denomination. That is to say every definite form of religious teaching is prohibited.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Not in then own schools. The clause is exactly on the lines of the Educational Endowment Schools, and is exactly what is adopted in all schemes by the Charity Commissioners.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
Then I take it as accepted on both sides that no definite religious teaching will be allowed in the schools?
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
No Catechism or definite formulary of religious teaching. I do not believe that in any of the schools of Wales or England does such a state of things exist where there are boarders. It is altogether different as I have said where there are no boarders. I think most of the religious Nonconformists will feel with me this is one objection, and a very grave objection, to sending their sons or daughters to schools where such religious teaching is prohibited. These are objections to the Bill that I think are well worthy of consideration by hon. Members opposite who desire to promote, as I do, the improvement of the educational establishments in Wales. This Bill not only takes within its sweep the educational endowments of Wales, it goes much further and includes within its sweep educational establishments in England. For instance, there is a school at Ashford, near London, which has no endowment of real property in Wales, which is not for Wales but for the Welsh in London, in England, Scotland, or Ireland; it is not supported by any landed endowment in Wales; but this Bill proposes to take any from the English-Welsh,—if I may use the term,—the benefit of this establishment which is supported by voluntary effort. I think I may say without fear of contradiction it is one of the most successful middle-class schools connected with the Principality of the Welsh, and this school and its endowments would be swept within the four corners of this Bill. These are criticisms which I hope hon. Members will not think are made in a spirit of hostility to the principle of the Bill, but in the most sincere desire that we should improve to the utmost all 146 available means of education in Wales As a helper, not an opponent of the principle hon. Members advocate, I would make this suggestion in a spirit of conciliation, that both this Bill and that of my hon. friend the Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Kenyon) should be sent to the same Committee.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
The Bill of my hon. Friend which he brought in last year, and which deals with the same subject to some extent, but from a different point of view—I would suggest that that Bill, which my hon. Friend hopes to obtain leave to introduce, should, with the Bill now before us, be sent to a Select Committee, and with the assistance of the report of that Committee the Government will be more able next year to deal thoroughly with this question, and in a manner which will be agreeable to the people of Wales and Members who represent Welsh constituencies. I think that will be the better course, and I have in mind the speech we have heard from the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone), who certainly represents, in the most able way, all that is best in the principles of those who are anxious to promote education among the middle classes. It is well to note that he declared there was no body less likely to come to a true, great, and fair conclusion, in regard to a Bill of this kind, than a Committee of the whole House. I do not think that, even if the Government, who I am quite certain are prepared to meet them in a spirit of conciliation and a desire to promote their wishes, allow this Bill to pass its Second Reading now, hon. Members opposite will be wise in allowing the Bill to undergo the ordeal of Committee of the whole House, remembering that the majority of the House is not in their hands in this Parliament. I think they would be wiser to allow the matter to be discussed by a select Committee and then throw the responsibity of dealing with it on the Government for next Session. This is the suggestion I offer. If hon. Members succeed in obtaining Government support and secure a Second Reading, they may be certain that in Committee very serious alterations will be 147 made in the Bill; it may be practically re-drafted, and possibly may not emerge quite in the form they would approve. I make the suggestion in all sincerity and with a genuine desire to promote the object which hon. Members have at heart, and I hope they may accept my proposal.
§ * MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
Welshmen have often had to complain of the neglect of Welsh affairs, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has shown to-day that our complaints are perfectly justified. But in one respect we are not neglected in Wales; the Tory border Members seem to display the most assiduous attention to our affairs. It is becoming quite touching. Last night not one of the Conservative Members who represent Welsh constituencies spoke a word in regard to a question very deeply affecting the Principality; but a Tory border Member who has some landed connection with Wales took a very deep interest in the subject, and again this afternoon we have looked in vain for the few Conservative Welsh Members. The hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Kenyon) has, it is true, appeared for a short time in the House, but the only criticisms offered come from another border Member who has returned from the uttermost parts of the earth to give us the benefit of his wisdom in two Welsh debates. We thank them for this interest. The only complaint we make—and we make it advisedly—is that they speak with the interest of outsiders, and not with the knowledge of insiders. The hon. Member, in speaking of the Bill introduced by the right hon. gentleman the Member for Sheffield, says that it was opposed, hotly opposed, by the Welsh people on the ground that it was a robbery of the poor. Now, as a matter of fact, the Welsh people have persistently, by every form of constitutional pressure, by votes of public bodies, by petitions, by resolutions of municipalities, by pledges demanded by candidates at elections, by resolutions on occasions when Members visited their constituencies, placed on record their approval of the principle of the Bill first introduced by the late Liberal Government, and now embodied in the Bill before us. If any further proof is needed it will be found in the result of the late County Council 148 elections We in Wales have had from time to time the benefit of personal visits from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Raikes) who is generally put up in this House to reply on Welsh questions, chiefly, I suppose, because during his leisure months he comes down and resides in a pretty part of Wales. He came to a Primrose League demonstration at Machynlleth, and he told us that in regard to education he looked forward to the establishment of County Councils, because from these Councils he should be able to gauge the opinion of the Welsh people on this question. We took to heart the hint of so wise and sage an adviser, and immediately it became a test question for all the County Council candidates—and in every county with one or two exceptions—Councillors were returned pledged to use their utmost influence to further the cause of intermediate education on the lines of the Bill of my hon. Friend. If further corroboration is required there is the fact that many of the Councils soon after they assembled considered this question of education, and though they had differences of opinion on some points of detail, passed unanimous votes in favour of immediately dealing with the subject. We in Wales have waited during the last eight years, since the appointment of the Departmental Committee, for the House to deal with the question. As usual, when there is an expectation of coming legislation, voluntary agencies were for the time crippled. In this case the only English central body appointed to deal with intermediate education in Wales has absolutely suspended its operations. The Charity Commissioners in 1881 wisely decided, in view of the promised legislation, to suspend action in regard to endowed schools in Wales. During these eight years secondary education has made marvellous progress in England, due chiefly to the splendid efforts of the late Mr. Matthew Arnold, who roused the attention of the country to the subject, and later to efforts of the Association for Promoting Technical Education to place the secondary education in this country somewhat on the basis of the foremost educational countries of the Continent. But while England has been making rapid progress in equipment for secondary and higher education effort in Wales has been 149 suspended because of the expected, and, I think rightly expected, legislation on the part of this House. Now we have been told this afternoon by the hon. Member (Mr. Stanley Leighton) that the best course will be to pass this Bill through its Second Reading, and then refer it, together with a Bill not yet introduced to a Select Committee. To that we object thoroughly and entirely. We want more information, says the hon. Member; why we have two volumes packed and stuffed with information. The Departmental Committee went all over Wales, north and south, and took evidence from all classes in every considerable town in the Principality. They examined individuals here in London; they surveyed the whole field of Welsh Education, and all the information they could gather is to be found in the evidence and in the Report drawn up by that Committee. I am not going to enter into the question of the need and the desire for some such Bill in Wales; it has been acknowledged by every speaker. I shall not enter into the question of the defective and unsuitable provision made for intermediate education in Wales, because I think that will be admitted by the Vice-President of the Council. All I desire to point out is that the objections which have been brought forward by the hon. Member—the objections brought forward by those who oppose this Bill—are without foundation. I think that hon. Members who look fairly at the Bill, and who read the evidence and the Report of the Committee, will acknowledge that it is free from objection as an extreme measure; that, on the contrary, it is very moderate, and, if anything, comes short of what the case demands. Objection has been taken to the machinery of the Bill. It is urged that we should not invoke the authority of County Councils. Now, I think that objection in the face of the legislation of last year is not worth much attention. Every Member on the Treasury Bench is surely proud of the great achievement of last year, and delighted at the prospect of its usefulness. Objection is made to the constitution of the Board of Education, a controlling Board formed of one member from each of the County Councils. But I think we have taken advantage of the Local Government Act to compose the most representative body 150 possible for the purpose, a body that must command the support, the sympathy, and confidence of the Welsh people. This proposal for a Board of Education for Wales is no new-fangled scheme. It was proposed, and strongly urged by the Commissioners who took evidence and reported on the state of our Endowed Schools in 1867. The School Inquiry Commission made an admirable Report, and one of its chief features was the recommendation of Provincial Authorities composed of representative persons appointed to carry out a great scheme of secondary education. This was founded on the evidence of Lord Fortescue and others, who pointed to the success attending a similar plan in Continental countries. It is done in France, divided into 18 academical districts; in Prussia, divided into eight districts, for purposes of secondary education; and in that model educational country, Switzerland, the same system prevails. The Commissioners recommended that the Registrar General's districts should be taken as the basis, and Wales is one of those divisions. The Bill of my hon. Friend carries out the recommendation of the School Inquiry Commission, taking advantage of the Local Government Act of last year. The Commissioners said that no skill in organization, no careful adaptation of the means in hand to the best end could do so much for education as the earnest co-operation of the people. That object has been sought in this Bill. The hon. Member makes objection that we divert charities from their proper use and saddle the people with increased rates as a condition of State aid. I take the question of rates first. I think the hon. Member might leave us to be dealt with by our own constituents in this matter. He will not be called upon to pay any of the rates. There are 28 of us representing constituencies in Wales, and surely if our seats are to be imperilled by this increase of a halfpenny in the rates, the hon. Gentleman should rejoice at the joyful prospect of getting rid of 28 opponents. Then there is the question of the Charities. The hon. Member has brought forward what we have often heard before, namely, the allegation as to robbery of the poor. Well, we have heard the view of the hon. Member, as one who takes a great and burning 151 interest in the people of Wales; but we have other witnesses on this matter. Amongst those who gave evidence in 1881 were the leading dignitaries of the Church of England in Wales. One of the first of these witnesses was the late Bishop of St. Asaph. He was very closely questioned on the point and his opinion was that—It would be a very great advantage indeed that these doles and charities should be applied to educational purposes.He said—Give them as exhibitions to poor, meritorious boys. That would be better for the district than giving the money in doles as at present.Archdeacon Smart gave similar evidence, and for fear the statements of the Bishop and Archdeacon are not sufficient I will call the country clergy as witnesses. Take the evidence given by one of the most loyal clergymen in North Wales, the Rev. David Williams, of Llandyrnog. He said—I would rather see the money given to educate boys at the Grammar School than given in doles as it is now given in my parish.The late Dean of Bangor said—If we are to have a State grant we should utilize to the utmost the endowments.The Bishop of St. David's said—Those charitable endowments are worse than useless. Give them for exhibitions.In face of such evidence it is idle for the hon. Member or anyone else to say that those who support the Bill want to rob the poor, or that we are rapacious Nonconformists who want to deprive people of that which is their due If there is any defect in the Bill it is that it excludes endowments of not more than £30. Those charities that are taken are hedged about with the most careful precautions care is to be taken that the poor or other particular class especially interested in the Trust shall participate in the benefit of the intermediate and technical education established by the measure. The hon. Gentleman has said that large charities are included in the Bill which ought not to be included, such as the Howell and Ashford Trusts and the Meyrick Fund. The Howell Trust was left by a Welshman for the education of boys and girls in Wales. For a time the charity, like a great many others in the Princi- 152 pality, was misappropriated, but in 1847 it was dealt with by the Court of Chancery. The trust had no denominational restrictions whatsoever. The Court of Chancery were free to deal with it as they liked, no "founder's intention" being attached to it, so what did they do? They turned it into a Church of England endowment, and the result is that a charity worth £6,500 a year is dedicated to the purpose of keeping two girls' schools in Wales, one at Denbigh, and one at Llandaff; there is not a single Nonconformist upon the governing body, or a single Nonconformist child, or child on the poor or working classes on either foundation. Education is given to the daughters of the professional classes, the majority, as I am told, being the daughters of clergymen. Should this £6,500 be spent upon one denomination in Wales, and that the wealthiest? I do not grudge the daughters of the clergy the best education that Wales can give them, but I do grudge that this money should be spent wholly upon the middle and well-to-do classes of one denomination, which only commands a small minority of the people. The recommendations of the Committee with respect to this charity were that the schools should be open to all Wales, that £1,500 should be given to Denbigh and £1,500 to Llandaff, and the rest for the establishment of girls schools in other parts of Wales. In order to show the hon. Gentleman opposite, or any other sceptic, what a small endowment can do in Wales, I would point out that with the endowment of £300 a year at Dolgelly splendid work has been done, practically the only public efficient high school for girls in the whole of North Wales having been established by its means. Here, on the other hand, we have the enormous endowment of £6,500 a year doing no good whatsoever to the great mass of girls in the Principality. With regard to the Ashford school, at the date of the Report 57 children were educated in it who were described as the children of broken down English farmers.
§ MR. LEIGHTON
That evidence was given some years ago. What was stated of the Ashford school then is not true of the Ashford school of to-day.
§ MR. LEIGHTON
Everything has been changed since then. The Ashford School is the only middle class school in the Kingdom that has exclusively Welsh children in it.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS
It is gratifying to find that there has been this increase in the number of Welsh children in the school during the last three or four years. But I think hon. Members will see what a grotesque position this institution holds for a school designed for the good of the boys and girls of Wales. Before they can obtain the slightest advantage they must leave their hill sides and valleys and cross to the furthermost corner of England. As for the Meyrick Fund, amounting to £20,000, owing to the suspension of educational efforts this trust is now doing practically nothing for the promotion of education in Wales. The last point to which I wish to refer is that the Bill asks the House to meet the efforts of the Welsh, who are ready to take upon themselves the payment of a rate for the promotion of education. The amount the Government is asked to give will depend upon the result of examinations by the Education Department. Therefore there is no need for the most rigid economist on the other side to fear that the money would be lavishly spent on the promotion of intermediate education in Wales. I think Wales may appeal irresistibly to England for help. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian referred to a fact which is as sad to us in Wales as it is interesting to the historian—namely, that the period in English history which brought Englishmen liberty and progress brought Welshmen nothing but robbery and retrogression. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian referred to the Revolution; if he had thrown his mind further back he might have referred to the Reformation. At the Reformation, owing to the suppression of the monasteries, the condition of Oxford and Cambridge was much improved. This was one of the brightest periods in the history of England, but it was one of the darkest periods in Welsh history, because our revenues went more completely into your hands. For years before the Reformation the first-charge on the lands of Wales was taken mercilessly by Sinecurists. In Merionethshire 154 the tithes of four parishes had long been taken to support a nunnery in Essex, and at its suppression were taken not to support religion or education in Wales, but to create and build up the Bishopric of Lichfield, whilst the tithes of Strata Marcella in Montgomery were devoted to the enrichment of Christ Church, Oxford. Since the Reformation the peasants of Montgomeryshire have paid £800,000 to educate the English aristocracy at Christ Church. Even at the present day, if you look at the Tithe Commutation Return, it is interesting to find that the counties of Wales one after another have to pay tithe either to large English educational bodies or to support English Bishoprics and English Deaneries. South Wales alone has had to pay £14,000 a year in this wise. Thus the period which marked so striking an advance in English education was one of degradation and impoverishment for Wales. If even a tithe of this money which Wales has had to pay out of its public revenue for English purposes had been devoted to Welsh purposes, we should have had an educated clergy, colleges for the higher education, and good parochial schools for the peasantry of Wales. No wonder Judge Johnes wrote in 1832:—Whatever in the present day may be urged in defence of these abuses, they are still—what they were at first—mere remnants of servitude —an unjust tribute wrong from a poor country, to swell the wealth of one already opulent—a tribute not like that of wolves' heads which King Edgar is said to have exacted from our forefathers—but levied on the virtue, intelligence, and civilization of our land.The first opportunity the Welsh had of building up a system of education was eagerly grasped. The statistics of the Education Department will show with what zeal and passionateness the people of Wales set themselves to carry out the provisions of Mr. Forster's Act of 1870. In the establishment of the three Colleges at Aberystwyth, Cardiff, and Bangor they have shown their zeal for higher education. Wales contributed £75,000 to Aberystwyth College. When the Government promised £4,000 for the South Wales College there was no difficulty in raising £25,000 from the people. How differently Wales has been treated from Scotland and Ireland! For Scotland, between 1873 and 1883 alone this House voted £409,250, for higher education, and £140,000 were voted to build the 155 University of Glasgow. In Ireland I find from this year's Estimates the Queen's Colleges receive £37,173, and for the building of museums, agricultural schools, and other similar institutions £41,084 has been expended, and as much as £203,700 has been spent on the Science and Art buildings in Dublin. Under the Act of 1878, £1,000,000 was devoted to intermediate education in Ireland. Surely the least Wales can ask is that you should give us this miserable pittance in order to meet the rate we are ready to take upon ourselves. And now I think I have dealt with all the objections which have been brought forward on the other side of the House. The only other appeal I would make is this: I should like the Government to understand how fully and deeply the Welsh people already appreciate the efforts which have been made to improve higher education. The hon. Gentleman opposite said that all these efforts were for the sake of the higher classes in Wales, but that is one of the hugest mistakes that can be made. The three Welsh Colleges that have been established have done a magnificent work for the labouring classes and the small peasants. I could give many instances where boys have risen from the humblest positions. Almost within sight of my own home there is a farmer farming about 30 acres. His eldest boy, who at 12 could not speak English, succeeded ultimately in getting Brakenbury Scholarship at Balliol and a Fellowship, having taken three University prizes in three successive years, whilst a brother of this lad, inspired by the example thus set him, went to the local Grammar School, took degrees in London with honours, and was now going in for moral science at Cambridge, while the third brother was at the local Grammar School exhibiting equal promise and ability. This was by no means an exceptional state of things. The son of a constable was enabled to go to Oxford from Aberystwyth College and to become Professor of Greek at the South Wales College, and the son of a shoemaker had risen to the position of Professor of Moral Philosophy at the North Wales College. It may be said that being able to do so much for education no assistance is required. The enthusiasm of the people, however, wants direction, which can 156 only be efficiently given if a national system of education is created. If we have a well-regulated popularly governed. system of intermediate education established, the schools will be availed of by the sons and daughters of the peasantry and working classes. The three University Colleges will have the numbers attending them doubled and trebled, and you will prepare the way for the establishment of a real University for Wales which shall place the Principality on an equality with England, Ireland, and Scotland.
§ MR. A. THOMAS (Glamorgan, E.)
I desire to point out that in consequence of the want of education in Wales the three colleges have not as much work for their staff of professors as they could desire. The present staff could unquestionably do twice the amount of work they are called upon to perform. We have been told that so many natives of Scotland have succeeded in getting important situations abroad. owing to the old parochial system of education having given them opportunities of obtaining higher education. The Board system in Scotland, however, is doing away with much of this advantage. I know that there is a large number of men who have all the knowledge necessary for the management of collieries, but in consequence of the want of sufficient education they cannot pass the necessary examinations. If, however, we had such conditions as this Bill would bring about, they would be enabled to acquire education. I do not think there is anything upon which the people of Wales are so unanimous as upon this question of education. All the public bodies of South Wales have passed resolutions in favour of this proposal. I sincerely trust that the Government will consent to the Second Reading of the Bill and give us this small boon.
§ COLONEL W. CORNWALLIS WEST (Denbigh)
Mr. Speaker, I second the appeal to the Government, and I wish to impress upon them that there is a very strong and united feeling amongst the Welsh Members that this Bill should be read a second time. I do entreat them to consider the position in which we have been placed for years past. We have had this intermediate Education Bill dangling before the eyes of the Welsh people for years, and we now hope to ascertain the intention of the 157 Government. There are points in the Bill which I confess I should like to see changed, but they could easily be considered in a Grand Committee; and the adoption of that course would, in my opinion, lead to the solution of a question which has been so long before the Welsh public. I have not risen for the purpose of criticising the Bill, but I confess I should like to see a certain number of experts in education sitting on the Education Board. I do not consider it a desirable thing that the Education Board should be left entirely and exclusively to the members of the County Council. That, however, is a detail which, in my opinion, may be settled in Committee. I do hope and trust that after we have been discussing this matter some hours, the Government will now consider it in their power to grant the united wish of the Welsh people, and that they will read the Bill a second time.
§ * MR. BOWEN ROWLANDS. (Cardiganshire)
So far this debate has been in very marked contrast to many in which we have been engaged of late. It has been very like the celebrated Bridgworth election—all on one side, with the single exception of the speech delivered by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Shropshire. If the observations of that hon. Member are to be taken as a true test of the strength of the objections which it is possible to urge against this Bill, then Her Majesty's Government will have very little difficulty in permitting this Bill to be read a second time. If from the Conservative point of view there are objections to various matters dealt with by the Bill, those points could be dealt with very appropriately in a Committee of the House. My hon. Friend for one of the divisions of Carnarvonshire has certainly appeared to throw some doubt upon the phrase, "Committee of the whole House," in dealing with this question. For myself, I am unable to separate this question from general legislation, and I would trust a General Committee of this House to deal with the details entirely upon their merits. I have risen, however, for the purpose of expressing my surprise that the Government have not given their views on this matter at an earlier period of the debate. If they have delayed for the purpose of eliciting the feeling of the 158 House, then their desire has been gratified. But I should have thought that the statements made in the earlier stage of these proceedings, coupled with the departmental knowledge they must have of resolutions passed by public bodies in Wales, evince an unanimity of opinion which does not exist upon any other subject upon which the Welsh people are themselves active. Great indeed is the desire of the vast majority of the Welsh people to see a measure like the present adopted by this House. I feel bound to urge upon the Government still more than it has been urged already this absolute act of justice to Wales, not alone on account of her poverty, not alone on account of the sacrifices which the poor people of Wales have made in the cause of education, not alone because of the willingness with which they express themselves ready to endure still greater sacrifices in this cause which they have so much at heart, but because out of her endowments has been taken away that which has gone to benefit and enrich the English nation. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has said, the revenues of Jesus College have not been used with that regard to the interests of the Welsh people which would render them of that value which they ought to be to that nation; when then we consider the endowments taken from the Welsh people, it is obvious that something ought to be done by the Government of the country, whether Conservative or Liberal, by way of recompense and restitution. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Mid Lothian said that in the past the wealthier classes and the landowners have had much to answer for in the lethargic attitude which they assumed with regard to promoting the interests of education in Wales. It is seldom I have the pleasure of apologising for or justifying the action of the wealthier and landed classes in Wales, but I hope I may be allowed to say that some of the wealthier noblemen in Wales are exhibiting signs of awakening to a proper sense of their duty in this direction. Lord Bute, Lord Powis, and others would find fresh stimulus to their efforts if there was a really national system of education established in the country. The effect, too, would be great upon the inferior gentry of the 159 country, whose activity would be increased in remedying the defects which are justly chargeable against their predecessors. I do not intervene in the debate further than to comply with what seems to be the desire of the Government—namely, to elicit from each and all of the persons acquainted with this subject a declaration of their views. Apart from my position in this House as representative of a large constituency£from amongst whom, peasants and small farmers though they are, have come some of the proudest examples of self-sacrifice in the cause of education—I have in the course of my life had very much to do with educational matters. For myself I was originally of opinion that it would have been wiser to have established a system of intermediate education, and to have proceeded from the bottom up to the top. And I expressed that opinion in some evidence which I gave before Lord Aberdare's Committee. I was told that this condition of things had been forced upon us by circumstances and by the neglect of Governments. But it does not now much matter what were the views I took originally, or how far the course then adopted was justified, because we have to deal with facts as they stand. First of all, the want appears to be admitted. There is no voice in Wales to contradict that, and there can be none. The desire of the Welsh people for education cannot be surpassed by the inhabitants of any country in the world. The sacrifices which poor farmers and peasants and others have made have been rightly held up to the admiration of this House. They have been written about and talked about, and there is no possibility of minimising them or making them in any respect less deserving of admiration than they ought to be. The people are willing to make sacrifices in the future, as evidenced by the proposal introduced into this Bill with regard to their subjecting themselves to a rate. The Welsh people are, therefore, well entitled to sympathy and consideration, and the testimony of their representatives is less open to objection than the testimony of the hon. Gentleman who spoke from the other side, who does not represent a Welsh constituency. Wales, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said, has had nothing for 160 years, and she suffered the robbery of her endowments for education in England, and she has never had compensation given her by the English Government. She has had very little in comparison with what in justice she ought to have had, and what the Welsh people wish to have. Therefore, there seems to be a claim which is undisputed on her part. There is a universal desire that the educational wants and necessities of Wales should be supplemented. Then, I ask, what is the objection; where does it proceed from? What is it the Government want in order to induce them to make up their minds to concede the Second Reading of this Bill, reserving to themselves the correction of anomalies and details, in Committee, when this measure can properly be discussed in detail. I am aware of no objection that can be urged. The Government have now an opportunity of generously recognizing this non-political action of the Welsh people, because the question of politics or of the County Council was absolutely disposed of by the singularly fortunate quotation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Merionethshire. If the Postmaster General represents the Government as to the question of County Councils, then there is nothing further to wait for in this direction. If the governing body is to be modified, and if experts are to be introduced, that is a detail which can be discussed in Committee, but if there are to be no alterations which will deprive the Welsh people of the boon intended to be granted to them, then in the name of all that is generous, let the Bill be passed and the details discussed in Committee. I earnestly implore the Government to meet the Welsh in their proper, modest, and just demand, and to recognize their legitimate wishes.
§ * MR. BARTLEY (Islington N.)
I only wish to say one word in this debate, and that is to urge the Government to allow this Bill to pass the Second Reading. Although I do not in any way pledge myself to the details of this Bill I am quite sure it is a measure that we may fairly allow to pass the Second Reading, so that we may examine afterwards the details. Those of us who have had to do with the educational 161 system of this country must acknowledge that Scotland, Ireland, and England have certainly received a very large proportion of money compared with Wales. I think it is only reasonable, taking that into consideration, that some such measure should be enacted. The mode of forming a Board of Education in Wales must require considerable investigation; and as regards the endowments, I think they are fairly protected, though perhaps on investigation they may be still further protected than they are. I think we should be chary, indeed, about taking away endowments from one district of the Principality in order to give it to another. I think that part requires more care and attention than it has received. One other word as to the borrowing power given to the Board. I think that should also be carefully considered. I have an idea that borrowing money is so easy in the present day that it may prove dangerous, and I think that it must be safeguarded in the most careful manner. Allowing for all these blemishes in detail, however, I think the measure is one which will tend to promote education, and the promotion of education means the advancement and prosperity of Wales. I do hope, therefore, that the Government will allow this Bill to be read a second time, and I hope also that some substantial measure will become law this Session.
§ * MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I think I never listened to a debate in this House in which such unanimity was expressed; in fact, there has scarcely been one dissentient note this afternoon. It is difficult to conceive any ground on which the Government can refuse to read this Bill a second time. I would urge upon the Government that they could not do a more conservative thing than to allow this Bill to pass into law. Everyone knows that there has been in Wales of late years very much discontent, and at times that discontent has created a great deal of uneasiness to the representatives of Wales. We know quite well that there are certain questions in which the people of Wales are very deeply interested; but while we cannot expect to get popular legislation from the present Government, there is no earthly reason why we should not have popular legislation upon this question from the present Government. The Bill is on non-Party 162 lines, and it has not a single clause which this House might not very reasonably adopt. We have grafted it upon. that great institution which the Government itself called into existence —namely, the County Council, for which the people of Wales are very much indebted to the Government. They have called into existence this powerful institution, which for the first time expresses the feeling of the Welsh people. Now, this great organ having been created, the most suitable purpose to which we can apply it is to organize a system of higher education for Wales. I wish to call the attention of the Government to the fact that we have utilized the best body that exists for organizing intermediate education on a popular basis, and I believe by this Bill we shall be able to call into existence a far more useful and practical scheme of higher education than exists in England. The great defect of the English system of higher education is that it is characterized. by mediæval conditions. It is devoted almost exclusively to the study of the Classics, and English higher education has, in fact, become an anachronism; compared with that of other countries it is quite out of date. It is limited, for the most part, to turning out young men who understand Classics and can make Latin verses, and are familiar with Greek accents, but who can scarcely tell the geography of the Mississippi— of course I am putting it in rather a strong way. But I do so in consequence of the number of young men, of 18 or 19, who come from Eton or Harrow more ignorant of common things than the ordinary boy in Board Schools. The reason of this is that English higher education was framed ages and ages ago under mediæval auspices. But by the Bill before the House we shall create in Wales a useful, popular, and practical system of education in thorough sympathy with the ideas of the present day. My belief is that, if fair play is given to this scheme, we shall see in Wales a class of middle-class schools and a class of upper schools really much superior in practical value to those which we now have in England. I will not take up the time of the House further, because we are all of one mind; in fact it is difficult to suppose that any valid argument can be offered against it at 163 all. I will just say, in conclusion, one thing—that, if the Government wishes to give a check to the Home Rule feeling in Wales, if they wish to support their principle of maintaining the unity of the United Kingdom, they could not do a wiser thing than assent to the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE (Dartford)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have listened with unusual interest to this debate, and with reference to the opening remarks of the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of this Bill, I think I have little to criticize and very little with which to disagree. Although it is not long that I have been mixed up with educational affairs, yet not only from my own personal acquaintance with Wales, made during visits of many weeks on different occasions, but from the records of debates in this House, and from other evidences which are undeniable, I find it impossible not to recognize this one fact which stands out in bold relief—namely, that there is a special demand for education in Wales, and a special demand for the completion at an early date of what we call the "ladder" system, whereby all classes of Wales may have the advantage of a good and thorough education, leading up to the Universities. Well, Sir, I admit all that to the full, and beyond that I think I may make this further admission, that it will be impossible for anyone carefully to read the Departmental Report of 1881 without also coming to this conclusion, without blaming the want of generosity of those who came before us, that Wales compared with England is lamentably deficient as regards any local endowment which may be applied to intermediate education. The Committee in distinguishing between England and Wales—though I desire to distinguish between them as little as possible—give a careful summary or analysis. They say that while the endowments of England for educational purposes amounted to £2,167,200 per annum, the sum available for like purposes in Wales amounted to only only about £31,672. We are, therefore, all agreed, I think, that the supply to Wales of such education as that for which this Bill embodies provisions is an insufficient supply. And I must go a little 164 further yet. In the Report to which I have referred there is another very important statement with respect to the position of Welsh endowments—I allude to their denominational character. I am not going to utter a word in this debate which can disturb its harmony. I am not going into the question of denominational endowments, but I think it fair to cite the statement of the Committee in regard to them. Although the sums available for intermediate education in Wales are small enough, yet there has been, up to this date, I believe, a very serious restriction of the sum available from the Educational Gift, on account of the denominational character of the governing bodies. The Report says:—It may, therefore, be sufficiently assumed that the Welsh grammar schools are generally, so far as regards their legal status, undenominational, but, while legally and nominally non-denominational, they are, with few exceptions, practically in the hands of one religious body, constituted of what is comparatively a small minority of the population.I think it right to allude to this passage, because I am quite aware of the efforts made by the late Government to deal in some sweeping manner with religious endowments; but, at the same time, so far as I am concerned, I am bound to accept the statement of this Committee signed, as it is, by some of the ablest men who have ever discussed this education question. One especially I may mention, long an honoured Member of this House, Lord Evelyn, and I could not quote the name of anyone who took a more prominent interest in the education of Wales. Well, Sir, so much with regard to the position of Wales to-day. If the House will bear with me, I should like to allude for a few moments to the Bill before the House. Her Majesty's Government have had many challenges made to them, and many demands made upon them—demands not restricted to one side or the other of the House—to approach this Bill, at all events, in a generous spirit, and not to exercise the majority they have at their command against it in any harsh sense. I must own that personally I do feel some difficulty in assenting to the Second Reading of this Bill; but, although I do feel that considerable difficulty, yet I am bound to acknowledge the spirit in which this debate has been conducted. 165 Appeal after appeal has been made to Her Majesty's Government from the other side of the House that this question should at all events be treated in no Party spirit. Her Majesty's Government have also had a very powerful appeal made to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. And I do not for one instant wish that we should be considered as going back from the practical pledge given by my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) some time ago, when he was asked to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, and I admit to the full the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government with regard to intermediate education in Wales. We are practically pledged to deal with it, and that as regards any other measure before the House dealing with the same subject, that pledge is equally binding. Having stated the position of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Bill, I am prepared on behalf of the Government to meet the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to concede the Second Reading in an equally candid spirit, making the uttermost reservation to ourselves, however, in respect of some of the most important and essential details of the Bill. But in allowing the Second Reading we are at the very outset of the discussion met with the very practical difficulty of the new governing body set up by its provisions, and who are to put the measure in operation. So far as I can study the history of this question by the light of previous authorities, I think it only fair to point out that this question of the governing body is not an easy one to settle. In no critical spirit, but in a spirit of common fairness, I would point to the considerable changes effected in successive authorities by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella), when attempting to deal with this question of intermediate education. In 1884, the right hon. Gentleman drafted a Bill investing the existing Charity Commissioners with power to frame schemes and to receive recommendations from the County Educational Committee. Previous to that, a Bill was drafted also in the Education Department embodying the same principle, that the Charity Commissioners should be the governing body to carry out those schemes. Subsequently to that, the right hon. Gentleman, in 1885, introduced another Bill into this 166 House, and, as I have said before, it was probably the catastrophe which overtook the then Government which prevented this Bill settling the question. In that Bill the right hon. Gentleman appointed for the first time a Special Commission, something on the model of the Scottish Commission, which deals with educational endowments, and which was practically subject to the procedure of the Charity Commissioners. These incessant changes in regard to the vital point of administration show that the subject is not one to be dealt with easily. Here we find the proposals of the then Government changing from year to year on an essentially important matter. Considering how much attention Parliament has really paid already to this question, I think it would be unfair if, in dealing with this matter, I did not ask the House this one practical question, Is it absolutely necessary, in dealing with this subject, to actually, for the space of seven years, annihilate the power of the Endowed. Schools Commission? In this very report to which I have been referring I find something like a very strong protest against any such course. If I look at the Report of this Departmental Committee I find this statement:—By the exercise of the powers vested in the Charity Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Act, the whole constitution, character, and management of the grammar school can now be altered by the Government. The school can, if necessary, be removed to a more suitable site; the endowment can be redistributed if thought expedient, so as to make it more conducive to the advancement of education.Not many weeks ago this House had an opportunity of expressing an opinion about the Administration of these Acts by the Commissioners, when a scheme was under discussion. That scheme was most strongly opposed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, but it had been considered with great care by the Commissioners in connection with the town of Cardiff, and the result was that it was supported by a majority of 130 Members in this House. On that evening, therefore, the House had no distrust of the action of the Charity Commissioners in administrating the Act of 1869 and succeeding Acts. I should like to quote the opinion of one or two hon. Members who deservedly have very high authority in this House, and elsewhere, on these difficult and 167 vexed questions. If hon. Members will look at the evidence given before the Select Committee on the Endowed Schools Acts, they will find that no less an authority than the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stockton was examined, and gave most valuable evidence. In reply to the question whether he would take the power of regulating these endowments out of the hands of the Commissioners altogether, and vest them in some Local Board, the hon. and learned Gentleman said—No, I would not, I would preserve the Charity Commissioners for the purpose of these educational endowments as well as for charities generally. I believe that is most beneficial.Well, then there is another equally high authority—I allude to the hon. Member for South Aberdeen; he has been connected with the work of the Charity Commissioners, and has written some of the ablest reports upon the subject. He was examined by the Chairman with regard to Welsh Intermediate Education. The hon. and learned Gentleman said—I should say that prima facie it was rather undesirable to create a new central body. I do not see why the Charity Commissioners in their endowed schools branch should not do well enough for the central body. There is a great saving of expense and time by having the work done by the same body which have been in the habit of working over the ground previously. It has the experience; it has all the records in its possession; it has had the same kind of cases to deal with before; and it has a staff of Assistant Commissioners who are familiar with all these difficulties; and in that way it is better fitted for doing the work than a separate body would be. I do not deny that there may be some special circumstance about Wales which may deserve separate treatment, but I think it would be better to effect the object in some other way than by having a separate Commission for the purpose.I can only say it is absolutely impossible that we can receive this measure as a settlement of the education question without reserving the full powers of the Commission. I would venture to urge that the question before us is one which is very difficult to decide in the course of a Wednesday afternoon's debate; and as I have stated before, the charges made in three measures introduced by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and the evidence I have spoken of, furnish conclusive proof that the portion of the Bill which refers to the formation of a Board by 168 selection from the County Councils may require very serious revision. And, furthermore, with regard to the Board which is proposed, it has been urged that as the Government created the County Councils they are pro tanto and stopped from having the right to interfere with them in these matters. I am not quite sure that we can accept that situation. without reserve. In the first place, the County Councils have only just been started, and it is a very serious question for us to consider whether, before they have had any experience in regard to these matters they should be made the arbiters in regard to a distinct system of education. I will even go further with regard to the proposed Board, which, as I understand, is to be made responsible for schemes which are to be referred to it by the County Councils. That is to say the County Councils are to frame plans which are to be referred to the Board, in order that the Board may decide upon and frame schemes for the good of the localities. I would point out to this House, which has had ample experience of extraordinary technicalities and grave difficulties that have constantly arisen in dealing with localities and constituencies in regard to endowments connected with the schemes-brought before us, that in this case we have absolutely no guarantee that in the formation of the proposed Board, care will be taken to see that it will be composed of men who should be regarded as experts and fully capable of determining the great questions with which they will have to deal. A central authority is proposed, but the names of those who are to compose it have yet to be given to the House, and we are at the present moment without any guarantee as to whether that central authority will be in the least degree adequate to its functions. We have no guarantee that a single Member of the Board will be fitted by education and ability to hold such an office and we have heard of no one either as member of a College or University who would be willing to serve on the Board. Without desiring to raise at the present moment any question of controversy, I think it only right that I should point out that one of the results of the Bill, if it should become law, would be to sweep all the religious endowments into one vast net for the promotion of inter- 169 mediate education in Wales. But we are even prepared to make this sacrifice for the good of Welsh education, although we are not prepared to make the sacrifice without some guarantee that a single farthing of those endowments shall be properly represented on the proposed Board. I think it only fair to say, therefore, that if we, in response to what I admit to be the unanimous wish of the Welsh representatives in this House, are to make this sacrifice, we ought to have some such guarantee as that to which I have alluded. Now, Sir, I will say a few words in regard to the effect this Bill will have on the Endowed Schools Acts; and I think I shall be able to show that at all events in some respects, the Bill which, it appears by a simple process, will confer for seven years the powers of the Charity Commissioners on the new Board in respect of the carrying out of its provisions, will also in a material degree modify in important matters the best provisions of the Endowed Schools Acts. One of the first things that strikes one is the fact that this Bill will, for the first time, actually separate the administration of those Acts; it will cut off Wales from England as an integral part of this country, by saying, so far as these endowments are concerned, there shall be a transfer of administration. We have here before us a demand for educational autonomy in Wales. I was about to say that I am too fond of Wales to wish that she should be granted an autonomy, educational or otherwise; but I do think that when hon. Members come here with such a measure if they believe they have a fair claim to educational autonomy in Wales, they ought also to remember that while they are pleading, and justly so, for some relief for the miserable condition in which Wales is left in regard to intermediate and higher education, she does, at all events, stand in a difficult condition with regard to endowments and other matters connected with education, as compared with England; and that, while she might rightly make an appeal to the generosity of England, yet, at the same time, it is not right that when on the one hand hon. Members demand complete autonomy for the Principality, they should, on the other hand, demand complete command over the English Treasury.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
That is so. At the same time, what I wish to put forward is that, while I wish to see just and generous treatment accorded to Wales in educational matters, I should. desire to leave the question of autonomy in the background. Then, Sir, I understand the Bill to limit the purposes of education in Wales to intermediate and technical education. This strikes me as something like a serious infringement of the object and intention of the Act of 1869, and the Endowed Schools Acts. Under these Acts there is no such restriction; they were passed for the education of boys and girls without any limitation whatever. The restriction, proposed by this Bill seems to me to be a very serious one. Then, again, the Bill appears to me to abolish one of the brightest and best features of our educational system under these Acts, and one that is worthy of every support, on the part of this House—I refer to the system of continuation scholarships, tenable in elementary schools. I find nothing about that in the Bill.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
Well, Sir, I am glad if I have misread the Bill in that respect; because I think that that would be a grievous fault, the effect of which would be to destroy one of the rounds in the ladder of the elementary system. While I am on this portion of the Bill I should like to join in one or two remarks that have been made by hon. Members in regard to technical instruction, and, so far am I convinced of the advantages which this measure will afford in relation to that important subject, that I have felt it much easier to make the sacrifice I am making in assenting to a Second Reading of the Bill. I regard this as a most valuable provision. I may ask, with reference to instruction in agricultural work, whether that is supposed to be included; because that is undoubtedly one of the most valuable branches of technical instruction; and I do hope that care will be taken to insert in this Bill ample provision for technical instruction in agriculture in all its branches. If I may be allowed to refer again to the administrative portion of the measure, I would point 171 out that it does appear to me to provide something like a dual administration. As I gather it, the proposal is that the County Councils are to frame plans which they are to submit to the Board, whose duty it will be to frame schemes founded on those plans. Now, I fancy it will be very difficult to carry out such a system as that. Some years ago the Charitable Trust Act was administered outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners in a certain sense, and from what I gather of the difficulty and delay that then occurred, I am not very sanguine as to the results of having two administrative bodies under this measure. I need hardly point out to the House that the present Charity Commissioners have full power of gaining local information on the spot. There is one very serious change proposed by the Bill in reference to religious instruction. The matter was alluded to by an hon. Friend behind me, who has, I think, rightly stated that Clause 5 does make a considerable change in the provisions of the Endowed Schools Act in regard to religious instruction. For many reasons I think that any considerable change of that kind would be highly objectionable. It might raise religious and other difficulties, which we hoped had long been buried in the past. The conscience clause of the Bill is practically the Cowper Temple Clause, which is of a much more stringent character than that contained in the Endowed Schools Act. The Bill also narrows the scope of existing exemptions from its application. I think these new proposals must be very carefully considered before a Bill of this kind is allowed to become law. Allusion has also been made to the fact that the very strong recommendations of a Committee of this House which only reported in 1887, are utterly disregarded in reference to particular classes of persons. If the hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. T. E. Ellis) wants any measure on this question to be popular either in Wales or elsewhere, he must see that it contains provisions which have due regard to particular classes of persons.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS
I quoted to the House the opinions of two Bishops, an Archdeacon, and several clergymen in Wales, and I think that if the right 172 hon. Gentleman will look at Subsection 4 of Clause 5 he will see that it exactly carries out the wishes of these Bishops and clergymen.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
As far as it goes, I accept the explanation of the hon. Gentleman. I must say that one approves of any scheme on this question with fear and trembling, knowing the objections that are raised in the localities and how severely any scheme is censured which does not absolutely protect the interest of particular classes. In this respect I think it is only fair to urge that the Bill is very objectionable. By repealing Section 30 of the Endowed Schools Act you lay your Bill open to the gravest objection. That Section provides that in any scheme relating to an endowment due regard shall be had to the educational interests of persons of the same class in life resident in a particular area. For that section you substitute certain directions that persons should provide not for the endowments, but for the intermediate education generally given under this Bill. I consider that, at all events, this is a matter for criticism, and we are all pledged to carry a useful and practical Bill. The criticisms I have given utterance to are not hostile to the intentions of the hon. Member, but I feel bound to point out where I think the Bill is defective, and where I believe it will be damaging to the cause we have at heart. There are one or two matters with which I would like to deal,but I am sorry to say I am at present physically incapable of addressing the House much longer. I think I have shown that this measure ought not to be hurried through Parliament, and that it could not fairly be expected of Her Majesty's Government that they should consent to the Second Reading without making some strong reservations. We have accepted the Bill because we found in the House a universal demand for some such measure. I think that the Government ought to have some freedom in regard to the future of the Bill, but I think I can promise that they will, within every reasonable limit of time, undertake to deal with this question. It has been suggested that the Bill should be referred to a Grand Committee. The Government will consider that proposal, but I do not think i 173 fair that they should be asked to give an absolute pledge on the subject to-day. As far as I am personal concerned, I am prepared to deal with this question in a Committee upstairs, and I do not see why there should be any objection to the adoption of that course. I think I have shown that this question is not so easy of solution as many hon. Members seem to think, and I am confident the subject may be usefully dealt with by a calm, considerate, and quiet debate in a Committee Room upstairs.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
The answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was in such a conciliatory spirit, and so far met the wishes of hon. Members who are associated with this Bill, that I am sure we on this side are all deeply grateful to him. If we have any regret at all, it is as to the concluding words of his speech, about not hurrying the measure through Parliament. I think that in the interest of the Government the right hon. Gentleman will do well to take care that the Bill should be passed this Session. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) on the subject. When the Government of 1885 left office, the noble Lord who preceded the right hon. Gentleman on that Bench promised that a Bill should be brought in by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). In 1887 the right hon. Gentleman himself made some reference to it, and in 1888 he said he hoped the Government would be able to introduce a measure that year. This measure has been in the hands of three succeeding Governments. It has been before the House for the last seven years, and the case is so overwhelmingly strong that it is almost unnecessary to add a single word in support of the able arguments adduced from both sides of the House. While admitting that the Bill should be road a second time, the right hon. Gentleman has made a few criticisms upon it, which I shall have very little difficulty in dealing with. He said that in the light of the previous efforts we had made by the Bill of 1884 and the Bill of 1885, there was more difficulty about the local bodies and authorities by whom the schemes should be formulated 174 than we seem to suppose. For every word and line of the educational part of this Bill I am responsible, and if I have any misgivings about it, it is that the provisions are, if anything, too moderate, and hardly adequate for the educational destitution of Wales. But with respect to the administration, in the Bill of 1884 the Charity Commissioners were left to frame the schemes, and in the Bill of 1885 we substituted for the Charity Commissioners a Committee of Welshmen. Why has that change been made? The difficulty of the Departmental Committee who reported on the question was that there was no local machinery in existence to which you could commit either the initiation or the framing of the scheme. For more than 20 years we have been lamenting that for the purpose of intermediate education we have had no Local Authorities. Mr. Matthews in all his writings has spoken of the absence of municipal institutions in the counties and rural districts of England as being the great difficulty in dealing with intermediate education. We have now called this machinery into existence. The Government have given us County Councils, and the County Councils are in touch with the Welshmen. It is just on that account that we have substituted the County Councils for the Charity Commissioners, and for the very cumbrous machinery which we were obliged to improvize. We have now an Elective Authority, and to that body we propose to commit this question. But there is something very much more important than any opinion of ours as to the value of the Local Authority. The Schools Inquiry Commission reported on the necessity and the importance of these Local Authorities. They say—The necessity of dealing with schools in groups seems plainly to imply the corresponding necessity of Local Provincial Boards to deal with them.That is exactly what you have brought into existence. The Commission go on to say—The expediency of having such Boards has been strongly pressed upon us by several important witnesses.And they remark that local opposition 175 to many changes would probably diminish, and perhaps disappear, if a considerable district, such for instance as a county, were handled by itself, and the endowments were administered for the benefit of that county. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to speak with fear and trembling lest what he and the Charity Commissioners might do should be out of harmony with the wishes of the locality. Does that not prove the necessity of importing local opinion into the question, and giving to the Local Authorities the dealing with these schemes? The Commissioners say, further—If you set up these Boards they can inquire into all important endowments on the spot, and give every person interested an opportunity of being thoroughly heard. If in any substantial degree the Board represents the people, it carries a force with it, which it is impossible to secure in any other way.I cannot conceive anything more forcible than the arguments adduced by the Schools Inquiry Commission for entrusting to Local Authorities the dealing with intermediate education. But then we have another very good example of what can be done without distrusting the the Charity Commission. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of what was done under the Scotch Endowments Act of 1882? We did not import the Charity Commission into that Act, but appointed a Commission of seven Scotchmen, who revised the whole of the endowments of Scotland. The endowments of Scotland were at that time something like £300,000 a year, but in Wales we have only to deal with £31,000. The importance of importing Local Authorities into the question, is that the Local Authorities may, in the first instance, say where the schools are to be placed, what is the necessity of the locality, how the schools are to be grouped, and where there is most demand. That is the first operation of the County Council. As to the framing of the schemes, the right hon. Gentleman must know that in the case of Scotland that was not done by the Commissioners. Applications were submitted to them by the Local Authorities, a legal secretary was appointed, who drafted all the schemes and brought them into shape, and then the schemes were submitted to the Education Department. 176 That is exactly what will happen in the present instance. The right hon. Gentleman objected to this proposal on the-ground that these gentlemen may not represent one farthing of the endowment they may have to deal with. In that respect he is entirely mistaken, because it is proposed that the initiatory step shall be taken by the localities, and that then the matter shall be dealt with by the Board, on which there is one representative from every locality. The right hon. Gentleman went on to deprecate such an idea as separating Wales for educational purposes. [Sir W. HART DYKE: I would rather not.] But how are you separating England and Wales for educational purposes? You have separated Scotland from England for educational purposes, and very much to the advantage of Scotland. I am sure the House has no conception of the striking contrast there is between the condition of Scotland and that of Wales. Amongst the gentlemen who conducted the inquiry in Wales there was only one Welsh Nonconformist, and that was the late Mr. Henry Richard. We felt we had not only to deal with the people of Wales, but we had to satisfy the House of Commons of the strength of the case, and it was the most overwhelming case that was ever brought before the House. At that time, the whole endowments of Wales for intermediate education were only £15,000 a year; the entire endowments, educational and charitable, were less than one single endowment in the City of Edinburgh, the Heriot Endowment. There is nothing comparable to the destitution of Wales as regards intermediate education in any country in Europe, unless it be in Spain. The Commissioners reported that, whereas there ought to be 16 per 1,000 under education in secondary schools in England and Wales, in Wales there was only 1 per 1,000. Scotland is separated from England exactly in the way we propose to deal with Wales. Although we have not given Scotland intermediate education, we have given them the School Board, and many Members have referred to the large amount of money that has been given, and is given annually from the Exchequer to Scotland. In Scotland there is a system of education under popular control. It is by no means confined to elementary 177 education. There is no such word as elementary in the Scotch Education Act. They would not have it. The Scotch receive grants not only for elementary education, but under the Scotch School Boards there is a system of secondary education regularly carried on and subsidized by the Scotch Education Department from the Exchequer. I have heard from three out of the four principals of the Scottish Universities that the number of youths who come to the Universities of Scotland from the School Board Schools is increasing every year, and that every year the youths are better equipped for University work. There are grants given in Scotland for Greek, Latin, and mathematics, which grants are not permitted in our English schools. They passed their own Technical Education Act, their high schools are under the control of the School Board, grants are made in aid of the common good of the high schools of Scotland. There is more than that; examination and inspection of the whole of the endowed schools and secondary schools of Scotland is conducted partly at the expense of the endowment and partly at the expense of the Government. At this moment there are leaving examinations instituted for the youth leaving school. These leaving examinations, conducted by University examiners paid by the Government, admit the youth of Scotland without any further examination to the Army, to the Writers to the Signet, to Solicitors, to the Supreme Court of Scotland, to the preliminary for the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St. Andrew's, the General Medical Council, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The First Lord promised last year in debate that he would at the earliest opportunity give to England and Wales everything that had been given to Scotland, but I am afraid we shall find the testimony of Hansard against him. We shall bring Hansard into the witness box to prove what are the concessions and what are the promises. But even if there were no promise, on what principle can you refuse to Wales and England what has been given to Scotland? Why should there be one system of education on the other side of the Tweed and still 178 another when you cross the Dee? This educational destitution in Wales is a disgrace and a scandal to Parliament while you have a system in England and Scotland to raise children to the front in every branch of service and to equip them properly for the discharge of the whole duties of life. Scotland has had for her high schools during the last ten years £40,000 in grants and £100,000 in buildings, and in the next ten years will get a great deal more for grants in addition for University subjects, for Latin, Greek, and mathematics. The youth of Scotland are passing from the Board schools into the Universities, and yet you hesitate about what you should do for Wales. The right hon. Gentleman agrees to the Bill having a Second Reading, but I am not quite sure whether it is to go to a Committee upstairs or not. As to the Bill of the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs that will be of no service whatever. for it does not give the power of rating, and only gives a lump sum of £300,000, which, at the Chancellor of the Exchequer's calculation of rate of interest, gives something like £8,000 a year, and that would do very little indeed for intermediate education in Wales. The sum which is mentioned in the Bill is a grant equivalent to a rate which would not exceed a halfpenny. The grant is to be equal to the amount of the rate which I may estimate at £15,000, making with the grant £30,000 a year, and this with the addition of endowments would give some £35,000 for intermediate education in Wales. This will do little for scholarships, and will leave plenty of scope for voluntary effort to supplement Government aid. There is no need to thrash out this question. It is so self evident, so strong a case, every word adduced on this side has only met with a responsive echo on that, there has been no contradiction of a single fact or statement. The Bill will admit of no denial, there is no justification for its refusal, and I believe if the Government do not take up the Bill and pass it into law speedily, it is a subject that will have to be dealt with hereafter; a much stronger measure than this will have to be introduced, and it will add force to the demand for disestablishment and disendowment which we discussed last night.
§ * SIR HUSSEY VIVIAN (Swansea District)
I am quite sure that when the words uttered by the Vice President of the Council are read in Wales tomorrow they will be received with the greatest possible satisfaction. It is, I may say, the first ray of hope that has come to Wales from the Conservative Party. I have on many occasions recommended the Conservative Party to in some way conciliate Welsh feeling, and I hope and believe that the course now about to be pursued will in a great measure do that. For the first time the Conservative Party are coming forward to do justice to Wales in respect to its education. The Vice President used these words: "We are all pledged to carry the measure;" and that is highly satisfactory to us. Further, he went on to say he criticized the Bill in no hostile spirit, and that assurance we willingly accept. But he also said he would promise within a reasonable time to deal with this question. Now, I am a very old Member of this House. I have sat here for 37 years, and I have heard such promises made on many occasions. I know how frequently it is impossible for Governments to carry out the promises they make, though at the, time they make them they earnestly desire to fulfil them. The only question at issue at the moment appears to be this, and what I am anxious that the First Lord should carefully consider is this—whether the Government cannot send this Bill, not to a Select Committee upstairs, which is simply the mode usually adopted for shelving a question, but that we should send it to the most practical engine I have ever seen for forwarding legislation—a Standing or Grand Committee. Remit this Bill to such a Committee as it stands, not mixing and muddling it up with any other Bill, as has been suggested; send it to the Standing Committee with a view to passing it this Session, and that would be really carrying out the words we have hailed with so much delight from the Vice President, "That we are all pledged to carry through this measure." Then, I think, for the first time, we shall feel that our reasonable aspirations are likely to be satisfied. Time is running on. It is many years since this question was brought before 180 the House for the first time, and it admits of no delay. The educational destitution of Wales is admitted on all hands. All the questions the Vice President has raised can be fully met by the Committee upstairs, and there is not one of those questions that cannot better be threshed out there than in Committee of the whole House. It is the most practical mode of dealing with such matters of detail, and I am sure they will receive full and judicial consideration. It must be borne in mind that there is nothing to investigate; we have all information provided by the inquiry and Report of a most admirable Departmental Committee; we have nothing to learn; all that is wanted is to come to a decision. County Councils are very proper bodies to exercise influence in this matter; they are the representatives of the ratepayers, and the great bulk of the funds to be raised will come from the rates. What more proper tribunal than this elected by the ratepayers? If you want to fence in existing endowments which unfortunately are very small in Wales,fence them in, guard them in some other way, but at any rate let the representatives of the ratepayers, the County Councils, control the expenditure of the money which is collected from their constituents. I will only say I hail with very great satisfaction the statement of the Vice-President. The debate has been conducted in a manner that does great credit to the House. For once we have put aside miserable narrow party feelings, and gone straight to the point; let us go further and signalize the Session by passing a measure of justice for Wales, which will also be a benefit to the whole country.
§ MR. A. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
I do not rise to continue the debate, but living in Wales, being Member of a Welsh County Council, I should like to express my gratitude to the Government for their one step forward in the matter. Although the First Lord has not carried out fully the moderate promises he made in the House last year, I accept what has been done to-day as a most important instalment. Nobody can doubt the infinite importance of secondary education to Wales, and we, who are anxious to forward technical education, look upon this as going to the root of 181 the matter. I sincerely hope that the Bill will soon pass, and I have no fear that by the action of the County Council it will be other than a great benefit to the cause of education.
§ * MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
There is only one point I wish to call attention to. I agree with what has been said by the hon. Baronet behind me, that reference to a Select Committee is sometimes an expedient for shelving a Bill, and I object to this Bill being so referred. But I equally object to it being sent to a Grand Committee, and indeed I do not see that there is a Grand Committee to which we could refer it. We have no Grand Committees upon Education, and it is neither a Trade Bill nor a Law Bill. Putting that aside, however, I have had some experience of Grand Committees. I was Chairman of one for three months last year and I am engaged on another in the same capacity again this year. While I fully admit that the machinery of a Grand Committee is admirably adapted to a certain class of Bills, such for instance as the Weights and Measures and the County Courts Bills, I believe it to be quite unfitted to deal with such a Bill as this. I hope my hon. Friend will refer the Bill to Committee of the whole House and no other.
§ MR. T. HEALY (Longford, N.)
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr: Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that question.
§ * SIR C. LEWIS
I have no intention of intruding on the general question to which the Bill relates, but I have an interest in the attendance of Members on Grand Committees. To these Committees Government Bills are referred, and to them the work of such Committees is usefully applied; but I must protest against private Members being unduly worked by having Bills introduced by private Members relegated to these Committees. I do not wish to detain the House beyond making my protest against Standing Committees being unduly worked in matters of this sort.
* THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster)
I think the 182 House must admit that the Government have endeavoured to meet the demands of hon. Gentlemen in the fullest, frankest. manner, and have expressed their desire to provide a system of intermediate education for Wales. They have gone beyond the expression of that desire in words, they have given indication of it by agreeing to the Second Reading of this Bill. But it would not have been frank on their part if they had not also stated the objections they entertain, to the machinery of the Bill, and it was only fitting they should do so. We have stated our objections, and I think it must be admitted those objections are of a serious character, and that they will require the most careful consideration of the Committee to which the Bill may be referred. The House will realize this position. The Government are responsible for the setting up of the Committee, which is absolutely necessary to the operation of the Bill itself. The Bill cannot pass through Committee of the whole House unless the Government set up that Committee; they are therefore responsible in an unusual degree for the Bill of a private Member; they cannot simply refer the Bill to Committee,they must take the responsibility as a Government of saying the, machinery of the Bill is satisfactory to them. I hope the House will see we are not raising a merely technical objection. We must arrive at the conclusion that the shape in which the Bill stands when it passes through Committee, so far as the operative clauses are concerned, is what we can conscientiously accept, and only then can we be in a position to set up the Financial Committee. Now the question arises how we may best, carrying out the spirit in which this debate has been conducted, arrive at a solution of the difficulties presented. I am under the impression that the best method would be by a strong Committee upstairs. Time does not allow of all the clauses of the Bill being satisfactorily thrashed out in Committee of the whole House. I shall, therefore, strongly recommend hon. Gentlemen to accept the suggestion I now throw out that between this and the day that will now be named for Committee stage, an understanding should be arrived at with the Govern- 183 ment as to the method of procedure upstairs, whether by Select Committee or Grand Committee. An objection has been made that there is no Grand Committee to which the Bill might properly be referred; but with the desire which I believe there is to meet each other fairly, I think we might arrive at a method of procedure that will solve all difficulties. In the interest of the endowments we must protect them from injury, it is a question of the educational wants and necessities. The Board must be qualified to deal with the educational interests of Wales, and we think that the suggestion that the Councils alone shall have the power of presenting Members to the Board of Education is not sufficient or satisfactory to secure the educational capacity of the Board itself. I make no reflection on members of County Councils for Wales, but it must be obvious that the County Councils were not constituted in the first instance with the idea that they should be educational authorities; that was not one of the conditions under which they were elected, and the proposal to cast the duty on them now must be seriously considered. But the desire of the Government is that the Bill should pass, and this year. We desire to meet the wish we know exists in Wales in this direction. It has not been possible, owing to the pressure of other matters, for the Government to introduce a Bill on the subject, but we are glad to take the opportunity this measure offers, and make this a satisfactory Bill. I hope we shall arrive at an understanding with hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the procedure by which we shall ensure that the most important part of the Bill, the operative machinery, is such as we can defend and will operate beneficially to the whole Principality. I will not occupy time now. I only desired to make our position clear.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time and committed for Wednesday.