§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 2.
§ Amendment again proposed, in page 2, lines 13 and 14, to leave out the words "Of children in the compulsory standards of the Scotch Code."—(Mr. Charles Parker.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ (4.24.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
When the Debate was adjourned last night I was venturing to suggest why these words should be omitted from 1191 the clause. In the first place I may point out that the clause is entirely inconsistent with the practice of the Scotch Educational Department, which has already sanctioned, in the case of 700 schools, relief from the payment of fees for the highest standard. In the Division which occurred last night the Government were supported only by 14 out of 56 Scotch Members, 42, or a majority of three to one, having voted against them. Last year the highest watermark against the Government was five to one. Are they going to tell the people of Scotland that they will yield to a majority of five to one, but not to a majority of three to one? It may be said that the Government cannot afford to give money to the Sixth Standard, because the Sixth Standard is not compulsory; but I meet that argument by the assertion that if it is made complete it will in every sense become compulsory. At present we are in this dilemma, that if we are to have a compulsory Sixth Standard we must have such an extension of grant as will bear the charge. I believe I am within the mark when I say that every School Board and everyone who has given attention to the question of education in Scotland are unanimous, or all but unanimous, in favour of the necessity of making the Sixth Standard compulsory. Children pass the Sixth Standard, some at the age of 10 years, nearly all at 11 years. Children in Scotland, who at 11 years of age are withdrawn from school and at once sent to work, labour under two disadvantages. In the first place the severity of their work makes it impossible for them to pursue in any serious degree their school studies, and in the second place, after they leave school at that tender age, they forget in no long time much of what they had learnt there. Anyone of experience who has studied the question will say that an additional year in the Sixth Standard would be precious beyond anything, both for making permanent the impressions a boy has already received and as a beginning of implanting in his mind a notion of the higher subjects which he may pursue in later life. As far as the educated opinion of Scotland is concerned, there are no two views as to the propriety of making the Sixth Standard compulsory. I believe that the working 1192 classes in Scotland are grateful for the boon conferred upon them last year, and if the House were to go further and make the Sixth Standard free, parents would be glad to make a sacrifice, and would accept with cheerfulness the extension of the compulsory standards so as to include the Sixth. That, I think, is a complete answer to the view which the Lord Advocate put forward. Why should not the Government accept this Motion? The opinion of Scotland has been manifested in the Division very clearly and distinctly, and I believe it is much stronger in Scotland itself than among the Representatives of Scotland in this House. Why not accept the view of Scotland on the point, which is a very small one? Before free education was introduced in Scotland, four out of five parts of the cost of education were borne by the State, and the difficulty of raising the remaining fifth by fees was so great that it was not thought worth while to stand out against its remission. At present the total amount raised by fees is about l–35th of the whole. We spend £1,320,000 on education, and are the Government to stand out now on account of a paltry £40,000? I believe the real reason which influences the Government is that they think if they were to yield it might tie their hands when they come next year to deal with the question of free education in England. I certainly am in favour of free education in the higher schools, by competition for a limited number of places. That is the system on which we have proceeded in Aberdeen for many years, and it has worked extremely well. But I wish to point out that Scotland needs a considerable sum of money, both to complete and perfect her university system, and for technical and secondary education, and I think it is hopeless to obtain popular support for spending money on higher education until you have completely freed the elementary schools, because money so spent would be absorbed mainly by the middle and wealthy classes.
§ (4.32.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Yesterday we were beaten—but not with very much slaughter—on an Amendment in which we took very deep interest. Now, the Lord Advocate has put what I may call a moral censure on us by not taking part in this Debate. I submit that the 1193 Amendment is a reasonable one, because it would bridge over what is felt to be an awkward gap in the education system of Scotland. At present, the education given to the Scotch people is a bare minimum; it is a rough framework with a thin veneer which rapidly wears off later in life. We know it is a great temptation to poor parents suffering from the agricultural depression not to keep their children at school when they have passed the compulsory standards, and I think we should do all we can to encourage children passing into the voluntary standards, in which they would take a more sincere interest in their educational work, I see no reason, also, why the Education Department of Scotland should not be trusted to allocate the money, as heretofore, for the benefit of the Scottish people. Children ought to be encouraged, by rewards of some kind, to enter the voluntary standards. This is done already in some cases by means of bursaries and other pecuniary assistance. The idea of compulsion is apt to raise a feeling of antagonism, whereas, in the case I have indicated, children would carry on their educational work with a feeling akin to enthusiasm, thus enabling them to continue their progress in the higher walks of education. I believe that it would be good policy on the part of the Government to yield on this point, and not to make two bites at a cherry.
§ (4.40.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I think that some hon. Members from Scotland have done scant justice to the feeling of the Scottish people in favour of education. I may point out that the arguments brought forward with reference to the attitude of the working classes in Scotland regarding education above the compulsory standards are not in accord with the history of the Scottish people as regards education generally. Though many hon. Members may find fault with the financial proposals I have submitted, it will not be denied that I, too, have some feeling in favour of education. I think that I may claim to have been what is called an educationalist for many years. Hon. Members have urged that this is but a small matter; but I think the decision whether or not the standards above the compulsory standards, as well 1194 as the compulsory standards themselves, shall be freed, is by no means a very small question. The argument has been put forward that the Government would be justified in freeing parents from the duty (which hon. Members now entirely discard), of educating or contributing to the education of their children. We have relieved parents from that duty where the State has enacted compulsion, but the Government are not prepared to sanction the principle that beyond the compulsory standards education must necessarily be free. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen has remarked that, with the views which I hold with regard to free education, I should not be able to show my face in any part of Scotland without being metaphorically torn to pieces. But I have appeared before Scottish audiences, and have spoken on this question of free education. In Edinburgh, during my first candidature, I dealt with this subject, and I asked my audience, which was largely composed of the working classes, whether it was or was not right that parents should be entirely freed from the duty of educating their children. I appealed to them for their votes, and though I had declared my opposition to this promiscuous free education, I was successful. I was able to secure the suffrages of an important section of the working classes of Edinburgh without having pronounced in favour of free education, but rather the reverse; and, therefore, I cannot refrain from asking myself whether hon. Members opposite so entirely represent the feeling of the bulk of the people of Scotland when they say that parents are not prepared to incur some sacrifice for the education of their children. The arguments of hon. Members, however, are not only in favour of the application of this system to Scotland, but they argue as if it were discouraging to education generally to place fees upon any of the higher standards in the school. The argument is that if a working man has been freed from the payment of fees in the lower standards, he will be certain to withdraw his children from school when they reach the upper standards, if he has to pay anything. But what is the amount of the fee as compared to the value of the child's labour? When the compulsory standards are passed, the child has arrived at 1195 an age when he can earn a few shillings a week, and if the parent values the child's labour, which represents a few shillings a week, is it to be believed he will withdraw because of the few pence he may have to pay? I do not think the argument holds water for a moment, especially as regards Scotland, and hon. Members from Scotland do injustice to their fellow-countrymen. The Government do not say this is a large matter, but a large principle is involved. If they could meet the views of hon. Members from Scotland they would be extremely glad, but they cannot do so without assenting to a principle to which they are opposed. The hon. Member from Aberdeen urged the claims of the working classes, but the hon. Member must bear in mind that while in England large sums have been employed for the "brutal and naked" relief of local taxation, in Scotland we have given £250,000 and now £40,000 more by this Bill to primary education, so that altogether no less than £290,000 is going to the benefit of the working classes and their children. No other members of the community have so far benefited by the application of any portion of this money.
§ MR. HUNTER
That is not so, because in Scotland there is a very large proportion of what may be called the lower middle class, who habitually send their children to Board schools.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
I think that rather expands the argument when Parliament is asked to give free education above the compulsory standards to the lower middle class as well as the working class at the expense of the State. Have those classes no duties to their children in the direction of education? I can fancy that there are many others representing what might be called the poorer middle class who have difficulty enough to scrape together the money paid for the education of their children, who do not go to elementary schools, yet that class is to be taxed, and not to be relieved of any portion of the rates, because the whole of the money is to go to one particular class of school. The Government, having dealt so largely with Scotch opinion in this matter, are scarcely open to the reproaches which hon. Members have levelled at them, that they are putting this money to an 1196 unfair use, or are checking education by the proposals they have made.
§ *(4.50.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
As a Scotchman, although not a Scotch Member, I should like to say a word or two in regard to this Amendment. I have not been convinced by the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I believe that if this matter were referred to the Scotch people, the vast majority would be found to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. The great defect in the educational system of Scotland, as of England, is that the average school age is far too short. In Germany the average school age is 14 in the day schools and 17 in the evening continuation schools; in Switzerland it is 15 and 17 or 18 respectively; but in England and Scotland the average age for leaving the day schools is only 12, and not more than 4 per cent, of the scholars pass into any kind of continuation schools. Yet from 12 to 16 years of age is the period at which a child's character is formed either for good or bad. I think that every encouragement should be offered to lengthen the school age, but the effect of the Government's proposal is to penalise the Sixth Standard. The Government have got the gratitude of the Scotch people by what they have already done for free education; let them do the thing thoroughly and completely. If the Government wish to stave off Scotch Home Rule they must pay heed to the wishes of the Parliamentary Representatives of the people, because in Scotland a strong feeling is growing up that those wishes do not receive sufficient attention in the British Parliament, and that the voices of the Scottish Representatives are too often voted down. I regret that feeling, and I hope the Government will do their best to lessen it.
§ (4.55.) MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
I wish to know whether the insertion of the Amendment will have the effect of preventing School Boards abolishing fees in the Sixth Standard if they are so disposed.
§ (4.56.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
No embargo will be laid on the proceeding of School Boards in the direction my hon. Friend points at. That will be just as free as they were before. These words are merely indicative of our wish, in 1197 making the grant, as to how the money shall be expended.
§ (4.57.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
As an English Member, I claim to take an interest in this subject, because of the necessary effect of the education proposals with regard to Scotland when free schools are extended to England, as we hope they will be, next year. We have already stated that we object to the system of freeing education in Scotland by means of grants from the rates, which we hope will not be done in England, and we object also to the plan of freeing the lower and not the higher standards. I cannot conceive any system more anti-educationalist than that of freeing the lower standards in the Elementary Schools and charging fees in the higher standards. Our object ought to be to endeavour to keep the children at school as long as possible. It may be contended in opposition to the view urged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it will be a great temptation to the parent to withdraw his children from school at an earlier age when, by keeping them at school, he will have to begin to pay fees. No doubt the parent has the inducement of the child's wages to withdraw the child from school, but it is the duty of Parliament not to add to that temptation by charging a fee after children have passed the Fifth Standard. Personally, I would rather see the higher than the lower standards free. It seems to me that the very reason that the higher standards are not compulsory is the greatest argument for making them free, because if you cannot force a parent to send his child of 12 or 13 years to school, you ought to do your best to encourage him to keep his child at school. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that this is a matter of principle; that it is not a small matter at all. But I think he forgets that already this principle has been admitted, inasmuch as already in Scotland there are something like 730 schools in which no fees are charged in the higher standards, in the non-compulsory standards. As far as I know, no evil results have ensued. What we propose is that the parents of the children in the other 2,000 and odd schools should have the same advantages as the parents whose children go to the 730 schools. 1198 The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated very truly that the Scotch have always been great educationalists, and it is most satisfactory to know there are no less than 30,000 children in the higher standards in the Scottish schools. This is a small matter as regards money. The Government have already spent a very large sum indeed in freeing schools, and it certainly is very regrettable that for the last ha'porth of tar the system should be spoiled. I, as an English Member, very sincerely hope the Government may see their way to accept this Amendment, because when the system of free education is extended to England we, at all events, shall insist that everyone of the standards in our elementary schools shall be free, and we are afraid that unless the principle is accepted in Scotland, we may have greater difficulty in introducing it in England.
§ (5.3) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that there is a very large principle involved in paying the fees of a child beyond the compulsory standard. What will the right hon. Gentleman do when he comes to deal with free education in England, where the compulsory standard varies from the third to the sixth, according to the will of the Educational Authorities in the locality? The standard in Scotland was fixed 20 years ago, and it was fixed as a minimum standard to which every child must attain before it can accept any employment; it was fixed to give the child the minimum of an elementary education. What the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do is to stereotype that minimum, and, practically, in a vast number of cases, make it the maximum of education. The complaint of the Scotch Education Department has been: for years that the number of children who pass the Fifth Standard at the age of 10 to 12 is. increasing every year, in consequence of improved teaching, better methods, and better average attendance. Every year a larger number of children are passing out of school at these early ages. If the right hon. Gentleman acquaints himself with the practice in other countries he will find that the standard is not one of class, but of age. It is a standard varying from 13 to 16 years of age. But in Scotland there are numbers 1199 of children who are passing the Fifth Standard at as low an age as 10 and 11. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say that a poor working man who wants to keep his child at school until it is 12 or 13 years of age must be fined 6d. a week if he does so?
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman wishes to put it into my mouth that this is a fine upon parents. That a fee should be called a fine is most extraordinary.
§ * MR. MUNDELLA
The right hon. Gentleman may call it by any name he pleases, but that is the practical result. In England it will be regarded as a fine. In nearly all of our colonies, in every country in Europe where there is a good system of education, the education of a child is continued until he has passed completely through the school, and if he does not pass through the school before a certain age—14 or 15 years—he must compulsorily attend a night school until he has passed through the whole of the school curriculum. Why are we dealing with the fee question at all? Because the payment of fees has been a great hindrance to the attendance of children at school. The first effect in Scotland of making education free to the extent it has been made free, was a large increase in the attendance of children at school. Children have been kept back, on one pretext or another, but the hindrance was generally poverty. When the fees were abolished, the children who had been kept back were at once sent to school, children were sent at an earlier age than they had ever been sent before, and there were demands for increased accommodation. The wages children can earn are a great temptation to parents to withdraw their children from school, but what is now proposed is that a parent, in addition to forfeiting the wages of his children if he keeps them at school until they are 12 or 13, shall put his hand in his pocket and pay, say 6d. a week. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has hardly considered how important sixpences are to rural labourers, and poor working men.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
I know it well. In Sussex, where I live, the labourers are quite as poor as those in Scotland.
§ * MR. MUNDELLA
In Sussex, where the right hon. Gentleman lives, the children do not attend school after they have passed the Fourth Standard. In Sussex, and, indeed, throughout the whole of the rural districts of England, the working man has to pay heavy school fees, with the result that he is obliged to withdraw his children from school as early as he can; he has often to put one in the field to pay the fees for the education of the others-Now, a precocious child can pass Standard V. at tan or ten-and-a-half. If the parent keeps the child at school until he is 13, he must pay fees for the three years. Some children cannot pass Standard V. until they are 13, and in their cases there will be no fines. There is no inducement to withdraw backward children from school, the inducement is to withdraw the clever children. That is not in harmony with the traditions of Scotland, although I am sorry the Scotch people are beginning to keep their children at school for too short a time, as the hon. Member who preceded me said this has an important bearing on the English question. There are towns in England where no child is allowed to leave school until he has passed the Sixth Standard. Under the right hon. Gentleman's system the children in such towns will have their fees paid up to the Sixth Standard, because that is the compulsory standard; but there are rural districts where the third or the fourth is the compulsory standard. Where-there is the most need of help, the least help will be given in accordance with the right hon. Gentleman's plan.
§ * MR. MUNDELLA
I am not anticipating the right hon. Gentleman's plan, but I am fixing him to his principle, and his principle is that we must not go beyond the compulsory requirements of the State. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer lays that down in regard to Scotland, there will be a very poor chance of going beyond it in England. It will be a burning shame if, in this House, the will of the Scotch Members does not prevail with respect to 1201 the education of Scottish children. It will be discreditable to us English Members, on whatever side of the House we sit, if we do not allow the Scotch people to distribute this money in the way they wish. The right hon. Gentleman opposite referred to his having been elected for Edinburgh. He was so elected when under the aegis of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, but he was not so successful when he deserted that right hon. Gentleman's standard. There has been a great march forward in this question of education, and every one interested in education is thankful for the movement. If the right hon. hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to enunciate today in Scotland the principles he has enunciated in this House, I am quite sure that no constituency in Scotland would elect him. I appeal to English County Members not to be tied down in this matter to the compulsory standards, and I would remind English Members generally that the principle of this proposal will affect England as well as Scotland, and I maintain that it is a very pernicious one.
§ *(5.17.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I will not stand between the Committee and a Division many moments, but I should like to put to the Government one proposal. Will it be denied that public opinion throughout Scotland is universally in favour of freeing the high standards rather than the lower ones? If anything came out of the discussion last year, and has come out this year, it is that the educationalist in Scotland would rather free the higher standards than the lower. It is no great burden to the parent to keep a child in the early standards. Its food and clothes cost less, and there is no temptation to send it to labour, but when a parent has a clever child of 10 or 11, the temptation to take it away from school is very great. We did not want this extra 6d. on whisky. We opposed it; but now that we have to pay the money, we ask the Scotch Representatives in this House to say to what the money is to be applied. The Government desire to tie us down so that the County Councils can only apply it to a limited number of taxes. They make a suggestion—and I admit it is no more than a suggestion—that parents should only be relieved of 1202 school fees up to the Fifth Standard, but will anyone deny that this will be a hint to every School Board not to relieve parents above the Fifth Standard, and a rebuke to those School Boards who hitherto have been giving relief up to the Sixth Standard? In all common sense I ask, Are we Scotch Members of Parliament to be expected to come here and give such votes as those we have recorded only to be voted down by the brute force of numbers? Are we to be expected to pay these taxes without a voice in their distribution? I hope the Government will re-consider this matter. Nothing more disappointed me than the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate last night. He is going against the strong sentiment of the people of Scotland, and against three to one of the Scotch Representatives. He is discouraging the poor man from conferring a high-class education on his children. At present the nobleman's son pays the same price for the education of his son at the University as the poor man. Is there any degradation in that? Not at all; and it is because we want to see the poor man's son stand side by side with the children of the upper classes without there being degradation anywhere that we urge the Government to re-consider this matter. It is a pernicious doctrine that the son of the poor man should have his fees paid for him by the State, while the son of the rich man should pay his own fees. To tie us down to the Fifth Standard is to put a disparity or degradation on State-aided education which ought to be removed.
§ (5.24.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)
I shall go to a Division on this Amendment; but before we divide, I desire to say that the omission of these words will simply put the clause on the same footing as last year's Act. The Government are granting a further sum of money, and all we ask is that it should be voted on precisely the same conditions as the money last year. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have obscured that issue. They have spoken of it as a sacred principle that we should not go beyond the compulsory standards. Where did they get that principle? Last year their declarations were all the other way, for they contested the principle that the compulsory standards. 1203 should be freed, holding that relief should only be given in the case of the first five standards. The Lord Advocate addresses us in three capacities—first, as Minister for Education, in which rÔle he is at his weakest; secondly, as a partisan, in which character he is undeniably a success, making a brilliant attack, and, for a Minister in charge, setting an entirely new precedent of liveliness in an educational Debate; but he comes to us in a third capacity, namely, as an interpreter of law. We ask him in that capacity what is the reason for this Bill, and he tells us that these words will practically not have the effect of excluding the higher standards after the compulsory standards have first been provided for. He says that money is already contributed to the higher standards under the Act of last year, and that the Bill only contains a friendly invitation. Then, if that is so, why not take out these words and put the clause exactly on the footing of last year's Act? Why not vote the money on precisely the same conditions, subject, of course, to the discretion of the Education Department? We should expect to hear from the Lord Advocate how that discretion would be used. I hold that the omission of these words will make the issue perfectly clear.
§ (5.28.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I have listened with great attention to the Debate, and I do not think I ever heard in the House of Commons a discussion so absolutely one-sided—on which no answer, or nothing deserving the name of an answer, has been given to the case presented. This is not to be solely a Scotch Debate. We have received clear warning that the principles laid down here are to be the principles to govern education in England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has laid down as a principle, from which there is to be no deviation, that in Scotland and in England education is not to be assisted above the compulsory standards. The right hon. Gentleman appeals to his Edinburgh experience; but we are a long way from the year 1885. The right hon. Gentleman has advanced since then—he has advanced to the other side of the House. But what was the position taken by him then? We all remember his fervid orations against free educational together. His great antagonist was the right hon. 1204 Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—whom we do not see here to day—and it was against the "un-authorised programme" that these Edinburgh speeches were made. Well, unfortunately, we have the antagonist of free education here to-night, but not its great advocate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been forced by degrees, unwillingly, in the direction of free education. First, he was against it altogether. He thought it a bad principle and resisted it in 1885. Now, circumstances have changed, and he is compelled more or less to accept it—less rather than more always. What attempt has there been made to answer the powerful argument of my right hon. Friend, who understands this subject better than any man in this House? I dare say that to make this distinction as to the compulsory standards is to discourage keeping the children at school. Every body knows that is the shame of this country. I have heard it over and over again observed that a country like Switzerland can keep children at school two or three years longer than we do here, and with very great advantage to the condition of the Swiss people. You are passing children at an early age through the compulsory standards, and you are discouraging keeping them at school till a more advanced age. How is the Chancellor of the Exchequer treating the subject? It is the minimum that can be given, and it is to be given as though it were a pauper dole, and to be treated as the limit of our contributions, beyond which the bounty of the State shall not go. I think that is a very narrow view. It is a very un-Scotch view; and when we are as advanced in this country, and the subject is thoroughly understood, it will be a very un-English view of the question. Now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been obliged to leave his anchorage, he had better set sail and go into the port of complete free education. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has money at his disposal. What do sensible people do? They try to distribute in the manner most agreeable and consonant to the wishes of the people who are to receive it. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer believe that what he is doing now is most consonant to the wishes of the people of Scotland? He knows that it is in no Party spirit that the enormous 1205 majority of Scotch Members vote for this. It is no mere Party cry at all. He knows perfectly well that if he had consulted the Scotch Members or the Scotch people, they would have told him that he has not given enough. What they want is a liberal treatment of the whole question of education. Why, then, these pedantic views with reference to the fixed standards, and refusing to give the Scotch people what they wish? You will, of course, carry this by the majority you control. It will not be the majority of the Scotch people. I consider it most unfair and unjust to Scotland that you should call in the aid of the English majority on such a question. I do not think it is a thing which will redound to your advantage or to your popularity in Scotland. However, the Lord Advocate must be the judge of that. He has no doubt advised that this course will suit your book best. I do not dispute his judgment upon that subject. We shall see. But I rest the matter upon this point. It is contrary to the expressed wish of the Representatives of Scotland, and to the reason of the thing, and you have attempted no answer whatever to the arguments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, or to the overwhelming arguments of the Scotch Members. While I admit the rhetoric of the Lord Advocate, even he has not attempted to meet the arguments. Whatever may be the result of this Division, I am quite certain that the result will be to convince everyone that in their decision the Government are wrong, and that the majority of Scotch Members are right in their demands.
§ (5.36.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I should like to submit one consideration which I do not think has yet been brought forward, that is, the relations which the proposals of the Government bear to the professional and personal interests of the schoolmasters. Two or three months ago I had the honour of meeting a deputation representative of the public schoolmasters of the East of Scotland. They said that in the present transition state of things the fee system cannot last. They said that the people of Scotland, having tasted blood in the matter of free education, will not be content to pay fees any more. They added that it would affect their pockets very seriously, because the Local Au- 1206 thorities would give free education without increasing the rates, and they would begin by lowering the salaries of the schoolmasters. My hon. Friend mentioned yesterday that in the parochial schools if a promising lad desired higher education his poverty was no bar to his acquiring it, and he was educated, if necessary, at the expense of the schoolmaster. Knowing that, I recognise the reasonableness and force of the representation made by the schoolmasters of the East of Scotland. I think they are right in saying that the people of Scotland will not be content to pay fees at all, seeing that five-sixths of the school children are already provided for free. Scotland has not treated generously the men who promoted her public school system, and who rendered her such a splendid service. The point taken by the representatives of the schoolmasters, I think, touches the kernel of the question. At present the Lord Advocate is in the half way house. The half-way house is a very convenient thing, but people do not like to stay there all their lives. But that, apparently, is what is proposed with regard to public education in Scotland. Now, the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night was an example of his very worst style of Parliamentary manner. He made the complaint that all the money has been given to one class, the working or poorer class; and when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen relieved his ignorance by reminding him that the public education system of Scotland was never confined to the poorest class, instead of meeting that objection, he merely founded upon it a new objection, and said it deepened the difficulty. That is a rhetorical artifice, a trick of debate, and we do not want these fireworks in a serious Debate. How does this money come? Simply because Providence in its wisdom and kindness has bestowed upon us what we scarcely expected, a blundering Chancellor of the Exchequer. He comes with a sum of money, the result of his miscalculated schemes. He begins by setting aside a portion of this money for the use of the Scotch people; and when it comes to a question of what they are to do with that money, he denies to the Representatives of Scotland the right to say what use they shall make of it. It seems to 1207 me that the refusal of the Government to entertain this Amendment is in direct contradiction to the ear-marking of this money for national purposes which stands on the face of their Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken of the duty of parents to provide education for their children, and the Debate has proceeded very much on that basis. So far as the educational opinion of Scotland is concerned, that is an entirely false basis. We look upon it not as a parents', but a citizens', question. We consider it is the duty of citizens to provide the best education possible for the children of the community. We do not narrowly inquire into the parents' duty in the matter. We say that the remnant of the fee system which is still remaining under the law is deleterious and harmful. I do not think the explanation of the Lord Advocate makes the case any better. The words introduced are most awkward and embarrassing; and if they stand, we shall, no doubt, two or three years' hence, have to take the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman when he occupies another and more dignified position, from which he will be entitled to speak with authority as to the meaning of these words. At present he is no more an authority on the meaning of these words than any other Member of this House, lay or legal. The words do limit this gift to the compulsory standards, and it is against that limitation that the whole body of Scotch Members have entered their strong and unanimous protest.
§ (5.45.) MR. M. J. STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
After what we have heard with regard to the universal view of Scotland, I may, perhaps, be permitted to say that free education in Scotland has not at all proved so satisfactory as was expected. It is not only my experience as the chairman of a large school, but the experience of other chairmen of School Boards in the two southern counties of Scotland, that there is difficulty in getting the children to go to school. I think the Government are perfectly right in taking up their present attitude. You cannot dissociate the parents' duty from their children; and I object to the parents being put aside. I maintain that Scotland is thoroughly satisfied with the £40,000, and we ought not to rush into 1208 the matter of free education in the belief that that opinion is such as hon. Members opposite have represented. It is not. There is a strong body of opinion as favourable to the Government on this question as hon. Members opposite can possibly claim for themselves.
§ (5.48.) MR. HUNTER
I think it is most desirable that the House should understand what the Government really mean by this clause. By the Returns we have 674 schools, in all of which fees are abolished not only in the compulsory, but all the standards. I wish to know whether any portion of the money will go to these schools?
§ MR. HUNTER
If this money is given to the Board Schools it must necessarily be given in addition to the school fees, and, therefore, is not in aid of the rate. If you limit the application, I do not see how you can, consistently with law, give money to that class of schools. If you do, then the argument of principle falls to the ground. You are going to aid a large number of schools in Scotland. There are 2,267 schools in which the compulsory standards are free. According to the latest figures which the Lord Advocate gave, there are only 98 schools in the whole of Scotland which fall short of entire freedom in the higher standards. What I want to know is, how this £40,000 is to apply to the 98 schools? It is obvious that these words are a mere blind, because, in point of fact, you are not going to confine this money to the compulsory standards; you are going to give it to schools generally for all purposes. It is necessary that we should clearly understand the meaning of the clause.
§ (5.51.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
There seems to be a great deal of feeling about what I said last night; but hon. Members do not realise the method of the distribution of the money under last year's Act. We prescribed certain conditions, and stated that free places were to be provided in certain standards. We said, "If you like to take the responsibility of paying the fees, we shall give you a grant." In many cases where they accepted the condition, they interpreted it imprudently, and they were not able to meet out of our grants the 1209 deficit which they created. The consequence was, that they had to impose rates. We have never taken any responsibility for that; and so far as the higher standards were concerned, we said it was entirely a matter of domestic economy. We simply gave the money according to the average attendance at the school, and in some cases the Local Authority made a good bargain and in others a bad bargain. The hon. Gentleman said I might state my opinion of the law; but the Courts would determine otherwise, and I could not enforce my opinion. I am willing to back my opinion; and I will undertake, on the part of the Government, that the Minute under which the money is to be allocated shall be on the same footing as that of last year.
§ (5.55.) MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I would point out, in reply to the hon. Member (Mr. M. Stewart), that if there be any reason for the difficulty in obtaining the attendance of children in the counties of which he speaks, it arises from the fact that competition for existence is becoming keener and keener, and that poor parents rely on the small sums, the odd sixpences, earned by their children. It is unfair, therefore, to lay the entire blame upon the parents, when we know that it is the state of society which compels them to send their children to work.
§ (5.56.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
After the speech we have heard from the Lord Advocate, it is hardly worth while for the Government to continue to adhere to the conclusion at which they have arrived. We are still absolutely at a loss to understand why these words have been inserted in the Bill this year. Of the £190,000 given for the payment of school fees, £150,000 we thought was available for payment of fees in the old standards, and £40,000 only is for payment of fees in Standard V. Apparently, that is not the case; and according to the statement of the Lord Advocate, it is to be made available in whatever standard the fees are remitted. Is it worth while to stand out for the insertion of these words, which will only prove a great difficulty to School Boards, and to all Educational Authorities in Scotland? We have heard 1210 that the Minute which is to be issued by the Scotch Education Department is to be in accordance with the terms of the Minute of last year. The money was given for the remission of fees in all the standards according to the discretion of the School Boards, yet you assume that the money this year shall only be available for the abolition of fees in the compulsory standards. It is a most pernicious system to introduce, and will, if carried out, do a great deal of damage to the cause of free elementary education in Scotland.
§ *(6.0.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
My hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh has just asked what possible reason the Government can have for retaining these words after the avowal of the Lord Advocate. I think the reason must be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking forward to, and preparing to deal with, the case of England. Since last year the Government have made up their minds to introduce free education into England, and, therefore, they are anxious not to lay down a precedent which shall be appealed to in the case of England next year. The Lord Advocate has said that the Minute of the Scotch Education Department will be the same as that of last year. If that is so, what reason can there be, so far as Scotland alone is concerned, for putting a clause into the Bill now which was not in the Bill last year? We protest against determining purely Scottish questions by reference to English questions which have not yet arisen.
§ (6.3.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I think it is very much to be regretted that the First Lord of the Treasury should have left just at the very moment when we are appealing to him, with a view to avoiding a Division. The Lord Advocate has just told us, in so many words, that, in defiance of these very words which are pressed into the Bill, the Minute to be issued will be the same as that of last year. The simple solution of the matter would be for the Lord Advocate to vote for the Amendment. I am sure the First Lord of the Treasury does not know what has happened, or he would have been here. The Lord Advocate has made an aggressive and offensive speech, which will certainly do harm to 1211 the Party of the First Lord, who, having thrown up the sponge, desires the Session to be brought to a speedy close. I think it most imprudent and unfortunate that the First Lord should have withdrawn without taking the matter out of the hands of the imprudent Lord Advocate. My hon. Friend suggests that we should move to report Progress. It may be possible that the First Lord has withdrawn to consider this matter in coolness, and that he will shortly re-appear. The Lord Advocate, having delivered an aggressive and imprudent speech on the previous Amendment, declines to give any answer whatever to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth. I beg to move, Mr. Courtney, that you report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Sir G. Campbell,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ *(6.5.) SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
I make one appeal before we go to a Division. I think, now that the discussion has taken place, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must feel that he is tying his hands with regard to England, and making a precedent which is perfectly inapplicable to the education of England as well as to Scotland, and that will injure the consideration of the question when he comes to deal with free education in England. By the Act of 1872, Scotch education is a complete exception to that of England. It was not, according to the Preamble of the Act, for the workmen or the poor of Scotland, but for the people of Scotland. In other words, it meant that the higher subjects were to be a part of the education given in the parish school, according to old usage. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might, as he has done with regard to Wales and Ireland, in which the money is given to intermediary education, have left the question open in Scotland; but what has he done? He has set the precedent that the money shall only be applied to the compulsory standards in Scotland. How will that work in the case of England? It will hamper the Chancellor of the Exchequer most 1212 thoroughly. Take the town of Bradford, for instance, where the compulsory standard was until recently only Standard II. Is he going to make the minimum down to such a miserable standard as two, or is he going to make it up to Standard V., as in Scotland? If he does either one or the other he puts himself into most serious difficulties in the agricultural districts, where the higher standards will be resisted, and in the towns, where the lower standards will be resisted. He will find it perfectly impossible to apply this principle introduced into a Scotch Bill to England. The whole of the Scotch Members on this side are against it, and his own supporters are only lukewarm. I have some experience in educational subjects, and I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he is making infinite difficulty for himself when he comes to consider the English question. He will do a most gracious act by allowing the people of Scotland to educate their children in the way they wish. By insisting on this provision he is offending them and creating a difficulty for himself, which he will not get over when he comes to deal with the question in England.
§ (6.10.) SIR W. HARCOURT
The justification of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy, in moving to report Progress, was that we desire to appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who really are the financial masters of this question, as to the statement of the Lord Advocate made in their absence. That statement must have struck everyone as having a most serious bearing upon this Amendment. Hitherto, the discussion has been on the principle of the question. When the Lord Advocate says that principle will not be enforced at all, what becomes of these words? Why are they put in? The Lord Advocate says he leaves the practice with regard to the compulsory and non-compulsory standards exactly as it was last year. The Minute is to be the same. Then, why in the name of common sense is the legislation not to be the same? I do not wish to be offensive, and I will not use the word obstinacy, but why this persistence?
§ * The FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
The right hon. Gentle- 1213 man has appealed to me and my Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as if these words were introduced on the Motion of my right hon. Friend and the First Lord of the Treasury. They are the words of the Government. They express the view of the Government that, as far as Imperial funds are concerned, it is not desirable that Parliament should pledge itself to free those standards beyond the present compulsory standards. The Lord Advocate has explained clearly enough that the Minute of the Scotch Education Department provides that the funds should be applied to freeing the compulsory standards, and he has undertaken that the words of the Minute for the application of the further sum to be granted under the Bill shall be substantially the same as the words of the previous Minute. No restriction will be placed upon School Boards in the application of the fees. I trust there will not be a prolonged Debate, and that the House will understand that we are not pressing the matter in a spirit of obstinacy, but because we regard the principle as one of some importance in the application of Imperial funds.
§ *(6.14.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)
I am very sorry to find that the amiable reply the right hon. Gentleman has made—amiable because to be brought back to the House on a Motion to report Progress is scarcely a proceeding to pass without leaving some trace of resentment on the mind of the right hon. Gentleman—is unsatisfactory. We must go over the facts again. The words confining the benefit of the money to the compulsory standards mean that the money is not to be expended for the relief of fees in the voluntary standards. The First Lord of the Treasury laid down the principle that if fees are abolished in the voluntary standards, it must not be done with Imperial funds, but out of the rates. But under the Bill of last year fees have been abolished altogether in 700 or 800 schools in Scotland. Where, then, is the principle of the right hon. Gentleman? I can only see two possible motives for the Government's tenacity to the words. Either the words possess some secret virtue, as affecting the proposals which may be made next year with regard to England; or else the Government, in their desire to snub the Scotch Members, 1214 have actually put in words which they admit to be unnecessary, in order to emphasise the fact that they do not intend' to go beyond the compulsory standards. Really, I do not believe that can be the motive, but it is difficult upon any other interpretation than this to explain the introduction of the words now that the hollowness of the whole position has been exposed. But even now, after—or rather in consequence of—this long Debate, the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to yield.
§ (6.20.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I wish to put this clearly before the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the northern counties of Scotland we have got absolutely free education in every standard, compulsory and non-compulsory. More than that; we have reduced the rates. What I want to know from the Lord Advocate is whether we will be in a position in the northern counties to apply this money to all the standards? In some cases we have increased the salaries of the schoolmasters, and taken 6d. in the £1 off the rates. With this money and the grants earned, the probability is we shall be able to reduce the education rate by one-half. Notwithstanding the words inserted here, I am glad to learn that we are going to get the money; still, if they insist upon these words, they will not command the confidence of the Scotch people nor of business men, as practical statesmen.
§ (6.22.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I wish to put a case which is absolutely unanswerable according to the principle laid down by the Lord Advocate. It is true that the fees of all standards have been abolished in a large number of schools. But there is a much more serious state of things. There are 2,300 schools in Scotland in which the money paid from Imperial funds hitherto had been just enough to abolish fees in the compulsory standards. If any use is to be made of the £40,000 now to be given, it must be for the abolition of fees in the non compulsory standards. It is clear to me that under the present Bill the Scotch Education Department is legally prohibited from giving any of the money for the purpose of abolishing fees in the non-compulsory standards. What is the case in the great City of Glasgow, which represents a very large part of Scotch urban 1215 life? In that city all the Schools except 10 have abolished fees in the compulsory Standards. Out of this £40,000 Glasgow gets £7,000. What is she to do with the £7,000? I maintain that if these words have any meaning whatsoever Glasgow will be unable to apply that money to freeing the Sixth Standard in any of her elementary schools. I think we ought to have a clear answer from the Lord Advocate. It is absolutely certain that in a school where the compulsory standards are already free, these Imperial funds may be used to free the non-compulsory standards.
§ (6.29.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
The answer is quite simple. I showed last night that the amount we are going to give to the managers of schools in Scotland amounted to £250,000 last year and £40,000 this year—in the aggregate £290,000, while the total amount of fees paid in the compulsory standards might be estimated at £283,000. The result is, that the money to be given a little more than meets the necessities for freeing the compulsory standards. The right hon. Gentleman would be perfectly right in saying that there are cases in which the ratepayers would have a good bargain, but not in saying that the bargain is good for the non-compulsory standards. It is a good bargain for the ratepayers. The result in cases where there is an excessive sum will be that the excess will go to reduce the amount of the rates. If the ratepayers like to extend the freedom, that is their affair, and we take no responsibility in the matter.
§ (6.31.) SIR G. TREVELYAN
I understand from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that the words have only a general signification as regards the whole of Scotland, but are not in any way legally binding on the Department or on the use to which the money is put. In that case the words are absolutely and perfectly useless, because they only repeat what is laid down by the fact that only enough money is given to free the compulsory standards over the whole of Scotland. I understand the right hon. Gentleman says that in the case of the Glasgow School Board, for instance, the money will be paid over, though it can only be used for the purpose of freeing 1216 the non compulsory standards. Is that the right hon. Gentleman's opinion?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be under a misapprehension as to the mode in which we deal with the fund. We do not pay the money over to a particular class or standard. We simply say, "Free the five standards; here is the money." The right hon. Gentleman omits to notice that in all the cases he puts there are rates.
§ (6.34.) MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
I do not approve of the proposal of the Government to include these words and intend to vote against it; but I can quite see that, from their point of view, they are reasonable in wishing that the funds provided should be limited to the compulsory standards.
§ (6.35.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I wish to put one question in the case of a school where at present the grants just free the compulsory standards: Will or will not any more money be given under this Bill? If such a school is to get anything under the Bill, what is it to do with it? Is it, or is it not, to be allowed to apply the money it will get under the Bill to the standards above those which are compulsory?
§ (6.36.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
I am sorry to intrude on the Committee again, because I have already answered that question over and over again. I will answer it again out of respect for the right hon. Gentleman. In the case he puts, where the fees have been abolished and there is no deficit, the School Board will still receive the grant. The money will go to those who manage the school for the ratepayers, and, accordingly, the ratepayers will take the benefit.
§ (6.37.) MR. D. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
There is a flaw in the Lord Advocate's explanation. He says if a school receives more money than is required for freeing the compulsory standards it will go to the relief of the rates, and then he says if the ratepayers choose to be generous they are at liberty, if they please, to free the non-compulsory standards. I would point out that under the law of the land the managers are not entitled to have free schools at all except so far as that has been restricted by the grants made last year, and consequently if the 1217 managers are in future to be able to free the non-compulsory standards the word "compulsory" is not in accord with the facts of the case.
§ (6.38.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The situation becomes more and more unintelligible. The Lord Advocate says, "We propose to give money to the School Boards for a certain purpose, but if the School Boards choose to set the law at defiance and apply it to other purposes we will not ask any questions." That simply means that the Government give up the substance as far as Scotland is concerned, but they do not want the English to understand that they have done so, and, therefore, they put in words that mean nothing at all. I wish to apologise to the First Lord of the Treasury. I am quite sure his absence was accidental, and I only moved the adjournment in order that he might know what was being done by the Lord Advocate.
§ (6.40.) MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W)
Last year I impressed on the Scotch Members the importance of their standing firm and doing all they could to complete the system of free education in Scotland, and I gave as my reason that ere long we should be called on in England to deal with the question, and the better and simpler the Scotch measure was the more likely it would be that the English measure would be framed on reasonable lines. The English Members, for the same reason, have a great interest in the way in which this measure is drawn. There is, no doubt, an underlying motive for the action of the Government in this matter. The fact is that the Government is tied by the leg to the least progressive Party on the other side of the House in educational matters, namely, the clerical section of the Church of England. All Scotland ought to know it. The Scotch education system is being injured at this final stage, in order that some paltry and some nominal satisfaction may be given to the Church of England Party. I believe the words we are now seeking to expunge will have no practical legislative effect whatever, and, indeed, the Lord Advocate has given us to understand that Scotland will get what she wants by a side-wind. I think it is a melancholy thing that England cannot 1218 fight her own battles, and that, in order to secure some advantage for an English Party, an educational system in which Scotland alone is interested should be interfered with.
§ (6.43.) MR. ASQUITH (Fife, East)
I hardly think even now that the Government and hon. Gentlemen behind them realise the position in which we are placed. The history of this Bill has been a long and melancholy series of blunders and surprises, but I do not think the Government have ever, even on this Bill, placed themselves in such a position of paradoxical and gratuitous folly as on the present occasion. The question about to be put is whether the money to be given by Parliament is to be applied in relief of the compulsory standards. The Lord Advocate knows that there are many schools in Scotland in which the whole of the compulsory standards are free, and yet the managers of those schools will receive part of the fund which, according to the Bill, is to be applied to the freeing of the compulsory standards. What is to be done with the money in such cases? The Lord Advocate says it is to be applied either in reducing the rates or in freeing the higher standards. [The LORD ADVOCATE dissented.] In whichever of these ways it is applied, if these words stand part of the clause it will be used in violation of the Act. The Government actually invite us to vote for the retention of certain words in the clause, with the express and declared intention that those words are to be rendered of no effect in the practical carrying out of the Act. I invite them once more, in the interest of common sense, to recede from a position which is so grotesquely untenable and absurd.
§ (6.45.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 197; Noes 158.—(Div. List, No. 208.)
§ (6.58.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
I rise to move an Amendment which, though not directly suggested by the Debate that has just taken place, is immensely affected by the considerations that have come to the surface in that Debate. The Amendment, or rather the series of Amendments, that I propose to move, strike at the remaining portion of this clause. The Committee will see that the last three or four lines of the sub- 1219 Section are really the operative portion. It is provided that the sum which is to be appropriated for the payment of fees in the compulsory standards of the Scotch Code shall be distributed in such a manner and in accordance with such conditions as may be set forth in the Minute of the Scotch Education Department, to be forthwith laid before Parliament. These words are important enough in themselves, but they become immensely more important in consequence of the statements which have come from the Treasury Bench, in particular from the Lord Advocate. To show the full significance of these words I will revert to the right hon. Gentleman's explanation of the last words in question. Those words were objected to by us as being ambiguous and open to an interpretation against which we on this side of the House strenuously protested. We were assured by the Lord Advocate that, in his opinion, the words were not open to the interpretation. Again, it was objected that in this question the Lord Advocate did not speak with judicial authority, or any more authority than that possessed by ordinary Members of the House, but the right hon. Gentleman said—I can do no more than say that this is my opinion, for, speaking as a Member of the Government, I promise that the meaning which I now put upon these words shall he carried out in the Minute of the Scotch Education Department referred to in the last portion of this Clause.The effect of all that is this. This Minute will define the words about which there has been so much controversy in the House; therefore the importance of the Minute, great as it would be on other grounds, is enormously greater now that it is to have the legislative effect of carrying out the meaning that the Lord Advocate, on the part of the Government, has placed upon the ambiguous words with which we have been dealing. This is a matter the House ought not to trust to the hands of the Department which draws the Minute. The Minute is to be laid before Parliament. How much opportunity Parliament will have to discuss the Minute, after it has been laid before the House, at this period of the Session, any Member may ascertain for himself. Evidently we shall have no opportunity of discussing the terms of the Minute, 1220 and that means that on this most important question the meaning and construction to be placed on these disputed words is to be left entirely with the Lord Advocate and the Gentlemen constituting the Scotch Education Department. I most emphatically object to entrust the definition of so important a phrase as this, involving so many questions as this does, to a body outside this House, whose work cannot be effectively criticised in this' House. We know that if we let the question slip now it will never come back to us, and all we can rely on is a promise, not enforcible, made by the Lord Advocate across the floor of this House, the execution of which will be entrusted to others over whom we have no control. This is nothing more or less than an important question of definition, The Lord Advocate has agreed that the words are to bear a certain meaning, and we are entitled to have that assurance made good. On the faith of that assurance he won the victory in the last Division, and the House collectively is entitled to call on him to make good the assurance on the faith of which the Division went in his favour. That cannot be done if you leave the definition to be framed by a number of gentlemen who-do not, however well they are acquainted with the educational system, know the opinion of this House. The Amendment I propose to move will be to this effect-I propose to strike out the words "Minute of the Scotch Education Department to be forthwith laid before Parliament," and to substitute the words-"the Schedule annexed to the Act. "A Schedule will then be drafted and brought under the review of this Committee. This proposed Minute will not be an ordinary Minute; it will carry out this most important pledge of the Lord Advocate, and this is a subject the House itself should deal with. We have had in this Session, and in connection with this Bill, too much of legislation by reference. We are referred from one Act to another, and, lastly, we are referred to a Member of the Education Department, and these repeated references are most objectionable. Let us take the legislative decision into our own hands. I have every confidence in the Department in reference to matters; of educational administration, but I have 1221 no confidence in their legislative capacity. I have no confidence in their power or desire to carry into effect the wishes of this House, more particularly of Scotch Members of this House. What is called the Scotch Education Department, the body which will have the framing of this Minute, is really an English excrescence, owning no allegiance to Scottish opinion, and which is not in touch with Scotch Members, and it is better, where great legislative principles are concerned, for the House to take the business into its own hands, and state its own wishes in its own words.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 14, to leave out the word "such," in order to ins3rt the word "the."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'such' stand part of the Clause."
§ (7.10.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
The course which we have indicated is precisely that which was followed in a parallel, but more important and more novel, case last year. In the Local Government Act, when the proposition was for the first time made that money should be distributed for the purpose, and before the Bill was carefully considered in Committee, the Government were, in course of discussion, asked to indicate the nature of the rules which would be put into the Minute. This was done, and the Minute was issued, and upon it I have never heard any adverse criticism. We have, accordingly, followed that satisfactory precedent. The effect of inserting a Schedule will be to carry this matter out of the region of annual discussion when the Code is laid upon the Table, and this is an objectionable principle to those who desire a discussion of the, proceedings of the Department. It is one of those things upon which experience is desirable, and the opportunity should be left open for modification, should such be thought desirable. I hope the Committee will decide in favour of the Government proposal.
§ (7.11.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
It was all very well at first, when the matter was taken up for the first time, to relegate it to the Education Department. It was a novelty in regard to the first £250,000, but now we are dealing with a supple 1222 mental £40,000, and there is no reason why we should not deal with it in the ordinary and legitimate manner in the Bill. We are not now determining how these £40,000 are to be applied. Then, with regard to taking this matter out of the region of annual discussion, I may say, speaking from recollection, that in the Local Government Act there was to be a Minute of the Education Department first, and then it was to take its place annually in the Code hereafter, and so it appears this year; but if you look at this clause, you will find no reference whatever to the Code for the future, and this is significant. There is a provision in reference to these £40,000 as set forth in the Minute of the Scotch Education Department, to be forthwith laid before Parliament. There is no reference to an insertion in the Code, which, if it is intended this should be subject to annual revision, there should be. I cannot see any reason why Parliament should not fix the terms in the Bill, and I support the Amendment.
§ (7.13.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I do not think there is much force in the objection to the Amendment, that we ought to follow the precedent in the last Act, from which we have already departed. There is force in the argument, in favour of a Minute rather than a Schedule, inasmuch as the first can be made the subject of annual. revision, while an alteration in the Schedule would require the introduction of an amending Bill. Further, I think, if we may judge from the speech of the Lord Advocate on the last Amendment, the Department is likely to be more liberal in the interpretation of the clause than the House of Commons. The Lord Advocate said that, although the words "compulsory standards" appear, practically the Department would not pay much attention to this point, and the money might be applied to compulsory and non-compulsory standards. I think there is likely to be a more liberal interpretation by the Department than if a Schedule were drawn up under the construction of the Lord Advocate and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ (7.14.) MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
The Lord Advocate is not correct in stating that the circumstances under which the present proposition is made are the same as when the Act of last 1223 year was passed. The Act of last year provided that the balance should be applied towards relieving the payment of school fees in State-aided schools, distributed in such manner and under such conditions as were set forth in a Minute of the Scotch Education Department, to be forthwith issued and to be annually submitted to Parliament. There is risk in entrusting to the Department the interpretation of the intention of Parliament. In the first instance, there was not the difficulty and ambiguity of language that there now is; there was not the limitation there is in the present Bill.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
The first amount of money was distributed in accordance with the Minute. I have no objection to insert words to provide that the distribution shall be in accordance with terms from time to time set forth in a Minute of the Department, to be laid before Parliament.
§ MR. WALLACE
That gets over one difficulty of the position, but not the more important difficulty which troubles me, the difficulty of the authority to which we are to entrust the practical interpretation of the mind of Parliament in this matter. In a case such as in the Bill of last year, we might with perfect safety entrust the interpretation of our interests to the Education Authority, simply because there was no ambiguity or difficulty connected with them, but there is the utmost difficulty on the present occasion, because the language of the Bill, looked at in the light of the commentaries of its authors, amounts practically to this: we are made to say to the Education Department, "You must not employ Imperial Funds to the freeing of non-compulsory standards, but you may." That practically as the resolution we have come to. It would not be orderly for me to say that is foolish, absurd, and contradictory, but I am at liberty to say it is a difficult proposition to set forth as the practical direction for other people, and I do not think the Scotch Education Department will be equal to the task, because they are not here, they do not understand or appeciate the mind of the House, and the subtle distinctions in our meaning. The Lord Advocate, no doubt, is a prominent Member of the Department, and he has promised to procure to be 1224 concocted a Minute to express this very difficult proposition, that a thing which must not be done yet may be done. The Lord Advocate, no doubt, will make his own view clear, but I am inclined to think that the gentlemen of the Education Department, conversant with educational matters, and accustomed to think in the ordinary channels of legal sequence, will regard this proposition submitted to them as a problem which can only be solved by those who concocted it. It is only for Parliament itself to effect the practical interpretation of the resolution to which we have come, and I do not think it is fair to leave this strange and paradoxical proposition to the minds of others. I do not see that there is any objection to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, which I, therefore, shall support.
§ (7.22.) MR. C. S. PARKER
The proposal of the Lord Advocate, I think, affords the opportunity of arriving at a compromise that will be satisfactory. The present distribution of the money will be upon a principle that will be submitted to the criticism, and require the sanction, of Parliament, and flexibility will be secured by leaving the method open to annual revision.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
It will be necessary that the first distribution shall be in accordance with the Minute.
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
That affords the grounds for compromise. I think if the Lord Advocate will make it clear what are the terms of the Minute, and explain how it differs, if it does differ, from the Minute on the last occasion, there is the basis for a satisfactory compromise.
§ (7.23.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
Yes; I suppose there is the basis of a compromise which might meet the views of hon. Members. Without pledging myself to precise phraseology, I may say that, mutatis mutandis, the Minute will be the same as that issued last year.
§ (7.23.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
But the right hon. Gentleman has not told us how he proposes to carry into effect the meaning placed upon the doubtful words by himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a meaning which did not present itself to the minds of other Members of the House. It was on the faith of his promise that the last Division was decided—his promise that he would carry out the view he placed upon the clause, 1225 and I ask him how he proposes to do that?
§ (7.24.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
I stated the meaning we attributed to the words, and whatever change there is from the form of last year is due to the exigencies of drafting.
§ MR. BARCLAY
Will the Minute be laid before us this Session? It is important that School Boards should know what money to expect.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
Certainly. Just as on the last occasion, as soon as the Act receives the Royal assent, the Minute will be laid before Parliament.
§ (7.25). MR. HUNTER
But that does not enable us to dicuss it. It is of no use simply laying it upon the Table. I entirely disagree with the Lord Advocate that last year afforded a precedent to be followed; rather it is one to be avoided. It is utterly wrong in principle on a matter of this kind to hand over the interpretation which Parliament should settle for itself. Last year, when the Government introduced a similar proposal, we readily consented to their proposal, because they did not then know how they stood in regard to this money, and could not precisely say what they would recommend to Parliament. They issued a series of questions to School Boards, in order to feel their way to some kind of decision. We, under the circumstances, did not stand upon an objection founded upon a technicality, and insist upon the insertion of a Schedule. But the reasons applicable last year are wholly inapplicable now, for there is no doubt of the amount of money available, and which the Minute will refer to. Then why not put in a Schedule, and give us an opportunity of discussing it and dealing with it? My fear is that words may be introduced suggesting to School Boards that any surplus they may get from the Imperial Exchequer should not be applied to free education in the higher standards, but in relief of the rates.
§ MR. HUNTER
That is consolatory, and, so far, we get on our way. But still, what is more reasonable than to insert the words in a Schedule, for I presume they are ready? It is said that the words may be more easily altered if they come up for discussion with the 1226 Code, but we do not want to alter them. I see no occasion for it. There ought to be no such distribution as will require alteration, and I cannot see why the Government should not accept the Amendment.
§ (7.30.) MR. CALDWELL
The only point in dispute appears to me to be whether the conditions to be laid down should be inserted in the Schedule of the Bill, or set forth in a Minute of the Scotch Education Department. In the latter case there would be practically little or no opportunity afforded to the House of discussing the matter.
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
The matter has been reduced to a very small point. In my opinion it would be better that the conditions should be inserted in the Bill itself in the form of a Schedule, because that would afford a more convenient method for dealing with the questions that might arise.
§ *(7.32.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I confess that the statement which has been made by the Lord Advocate to some extent relieves my mind, but I still think that there would be a temptation to Local Government Boards, who are very much interested in economising the rates, to vote themselves more for the reduction of the rates than for the promotion of education in their several districts. I think it would be far better if, instead of giving money in this way for the purpose of reducing the rates, the Government give it for the purpose of encouraging higher education. At present the application of the grant for educational purposes does not go beyond the Fifth Standard, but I am hopeful that, at any rate, in the course of another year this restriction will be removed. It is, however, for my hon. Friend to say whether he thinks he ought to divide on this question of the Schedule. Should he divide the Committee upon his Amendment, I shall feel obliged to vote with him, but I would suggest to him to consider whether, after what has been said, he ought not to be content with putting the Government upon their honour upon this question.
§ *(7.34.) SIR L. PLAYFAIR
I am sorry I am unable to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee. My reason for this is that I think the whole matter has been 1227 placed on a somewhat anomalous position. We have already admitted words limiting the application of the grant to the compulsory standards, but we have been told that, practically, those words will not limit the application of the money to those standards, but that the provision will be applied in an elastic way, the responsibility being thrown upon the School Boards. Practically, that would reduce the words we have adopted to a mere Preamble rather than an enacting portion of the Bill. We are, therefore, in this anomalous position, that those words are not to be within the terms of the Enactment, but are to be carried out with the elasticity attaching to the form of the Preamble, leaving the responsibility on the Government to carry out the provision according to the interpretation they have given. That is a somewhat paradoxical way of dealing with this question, but the compromise offered by the Lord Advocate is perhaps as much as we could expect under the circumstances. I would much rather it should be left to the Government to carry out this paradox, than that the House itself should attempt to do so by inserting conditions in the Schedule.
§ (7. 36.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
My object is to secure full legislative authority by means of words in the Bill itself, rather than that we should rely upon the dubious language used by the Lord Advocate. It is one thing to carry out a proposal such as this by means of a Schedule, which will form part of the Act of Parliament, and a totally different thing to leave it to be carried out through the action of the Executive, who would have no real legislative authority, and whose definition of the language used could not control the provisions of the Act itself. If the words were put into the Schedule they would be of equal validity with the clauses of the Act itself, and the purpose we have in view would necessarily be carried out. Under these circumstances, I am afraid I must insist on dividing the Committee upon the Amendment of which I have given notice.
§ (7.37.) MR. D. CRAWFORD
I would remind the Committee that, by the existing law, the School Boards are bound to charge fees. This question has already been raised, and it has been decided that they are bound to 1228 charge fees, and this remains the law upon the subject, except in so far as it may have been altered by the legislation of last year. The question has been raised as to the meaning of the words the Committee have decided to accept, and the Lord Advocate has practically said that those words are not necessarily operative, but that, in spite of them, the School Boards will have the power of affording relief in the case of the non-compulsory standards. For my part, however, I think the Amendment is one which the Committee ought to adopt, and I shall, therefore, give it my support.
§ (7.40.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 132; Noes.97.—(Div. List, No. 209.)
§ (7.50.) MR. HUNTER
I have now to move an Amendment which stands on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), and which is to insert after the word "Parliament," in line 17, the words—Provided always that no portion of such sum shall be paid to any School Board, or to the managers of any State-aided school in which fees are charged for the teaching of any standard of the Education Code for Scotland, the passing of which may be compulsory under the provisions of the Education Acts operative from time to time.Last year the hon. Member for the College Division made a Motion in similar terms to those which now stand on the Paper. I attempted to dissuade him from proceeding with that Amendment on that occasion, and, if I recollect aright, he did not take my advice, the result being that I then voted against him; but the circumstances are now altogether changed. We know exactly how far the grant given by Parliament last year will go in freeing education under the compulsory standards in Scotland, and we have this fact before us, that, after all, it has not been found necessary to charge fees in the majority of the schools, and that where they have been charged it has only been under financial pressure, the local payments not having been found sufficient to enable the School Board to make the remission. In some cases, indeed, they have made charges in excess of those which prevail elsewhere. Now, however, the Government have provided that relief may be given, at all events, 1229 up to the Fifth. Standard, but that on the average we are not to go beyond that. But surely we ought to be able to require that in the distribution of the grant, especially in the case of the larger towns, the money should not be given unless the Local Authorities are willing to abolish fees in respect of the higher standards. One important point to be remembered is this, that in Scotland the custom has always been to have a large admixture of the children of parents of different classes in the schools, a much larger admixture than is known in England. This must necessarily occur in the rural districts, because there are no other schools but the parochial schools. These schools are, both from an architectural, sanitary, and teaching point of view, of a superior character. The School Board of Aberdeen, not having received a sufficient sum from the Exchequer to enable them to dispense with fees in all the schools, have selected three of the finest schools in the city, and put upon them the embargo of fees. The result is that in the most recently constructed of these schools, while there are places for over 1,000 children, there are no more than 600 children on the rolls. Owing to the charging of fees there is not a proper number of children in attendance, not that there is any want of children in the neighbourhood to fill the schools, but because those parents who are capable of paying fees are not sufficiently numerous to supply the number to fill the school places. From a mere economical point of view that is a considerable loss; there is a great loss in setting up what may be called genteel schools, or schools for genteel people, maintained out of the rates and taxes, the sum contributed by the parents being ridiculously small in comparison with the cost of the education. Substantially and truly the three schools are paid for by the Government and local ratepayers, to the extent of four - fifths and five - sixths of the whole cost. No one has any right to object to parents who think it is not desirable their children should be exposed to constant intercourse with children of the working classes. A man is perfectly right in bringing up his children in the way he thinks fit; but I contend that if a man adopts the view I have hinted at he ought to do so at 1230 his own expense. From the point of view of public policy it would be impossible to teach a worse lesson than is taught by the unfortunate distinction between a fee school and a free school, because it necessarily introduces a class distinction in schools where no class distinction has hitherto been known. Is it not obvious that the physical separation between the rich and the poor leads to mutual ignorance, that mutual ignorance leads to mutual misunderstanding, leads to jealousy and envy on the one side, and ill-founded contempt on the other side? Nothing can be better for taking down the conceit of a young gentleman, whose father can afford to buy him fine clothes, than to put him on the same form with, a boy whose clothes have been patched and patched a dozen times, and let him find, probably, that the boy with the patched trousers can easily beat, him in the educational race. On the other hand, children of the working men gain much by associating with the children of the upper classes, because they necessarily imbibe some of the refinement which the children of the upper classes are able to acquire at home. In the Scotch people there is a strong feeling in favour of equality. Distinctions of the kind I have described are invidious, they are bitterly hated and resented, and they tend to create that indescribable mental unrest and discontent upon which all the quack doctors of social science practise their nervous remedies. Not only so, but the working men in certain parts of Aberdeen entertain the very practical reason for the abolition of fees, that these schools happen to be in a district where there is a considerable number of the working classes, whose children are not allowed to go to the nearest or the best schools; they are obliged to go to more distant schools, to schools not so good sanitarily, not so fine architecturally, and not having the same distinguished class of teachers. That is a great grievance. What is the total amount that will be reserved to get rid of fees up to the Fifth Standard in all these schools? The Lord Advocate will find it is not large, and this is one of the questions which I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will deal with in an effective manner in the proposed Minute. I beg to move 1231 the Amendment which stands in my name.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the last Amendment, to insert the words—
Provided always, that no portion of such sum shall he paid to any School Board, or to the managers of any State-aided school in which fees are charged for the teaching of any standard of the Education Code for Scotland, the passing of which may be compulsory under the provisions of the Education Acts operative from time to time."—(Mr. Hunter.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (8.10.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
This question has been repeatedly before the House in the last two years, and I think that the merits of it must be familiar to most hon. Members. But let me very briefly state how matters stand. In certain towns of Scotland there are fee-paying schools, attended by the children of persons perfectly willing and ready to pay these fees, and, of course, the schools only exist where there is such a class. The hon. Member has advanced some abstract considerations on this subject. He says it is very undesirable there should be a separation of classes, and so on, but, as a matter of fact, we find that there exists this class of schools. They are fee-paying, simply because the elected School Boards decided that they should be so. These fees yield a profit to the Board, and benefit really, not those who are better off, but the poorer children. This is a method by which the School Board is put in funds actually for the benefit of the poorer classes. We have heard very elaborate accounts of the errors which have been made in the administration of this system, but my answer is that all these questions are local questions, and onght to be determined by Local Boards. I can understand that opinions may differ in towns like Glasgow on the question, but the School Boards, and not the Government, must settle the matter. I contend that it is fair that the School Boards who have such schools should not be discountenanced in exercising their discretion. The policy of the Government must accord with facts; they must take things as they find them, and not interfere with local discretion in matters which must be determined by the Local Authority.
§ (8.15.) SIR G. TREVELYAN
The Lord Advocate has justly said that this question has been before the House ere now, but I contend that on this occasion it is being discussed under entirely new conditions. Formerly a certain amount of money was handed over to the School Boards of Scotland, to make it go as far as they could in the abolition of fees, but now a sum of nearly £300,000 has been made up for the express purpose of abolishing fees; I maintain that when a nation has resolved that free education shall be given in the compulsory standards, that nation has a right to make conditions in the matter, and the first of those conditions in this case is that no school shall be kept up at the expense of the ratepayers, from which a great mass of the children are practically excluded. The Lord Advocate says we found this obstruction of classes. We did not find it; we made it during the last year. What did we find in towns like Glasgow, Govan, and Aberdeen? In the case of Glasgow we found ten schools, in Aberdeen, three schools, and in Govan, five schools, of great perfection, to which all classes of the population, without distinction, went. In one division of Glasgow I know well there was an admirable school called John Street. We found 1,200 children of all classes attending the school. What exists now? Half the children have been told that they must leave the school if their parents insist upon their rights as ratepayers and citizens to send them to the schools free. By the existing system, which has not been so long in operation as the Lord Advocate seems to believe, children who formerly attended good schools are practically evicted from them, because their parents-cannot pay the fees, and are obliged to go to inferior free schools. Yet the fathers of these children help, through the rates, to support these fee-paying schools, and thus a great injustice is entailed upon them. The fee-paying schools naturally attract the best masters and mistresses, and are conducted on a better educational system; thus the free schools necessarily suffer, and here again an injustice is done to the children who attend those schools, and to the parents also. The excuse advanced hitherto for maintaining the fee system—namely, that there is not enough money to free the standards—will be absolutely removed 1233 by this Bill if the desire of the Scotch people is acceded to; and I repeat what I have said on previous occasions, that perfect equality of elementary education is thoroughly in accordance with the national ideas and aspirations of the people of Scotland.
§ (8.24.) DR. CLARK
I hope the Government will give way on this point. There is very great hardship. I have some right to complain because I had some shares in one of the best of these schools. It was a private adventure school, but did not pay. We handed it over cheaply to the School Board, who are now using it for a different class of children to those who formerly attended it. The poorer children are now obliged to go long distances to other schools which are free. It is very unfair to deprive the children of the working classes of the advantages the school affords; indeed, it is time this kind of snobbery was put an end to. I am sorry we have not had an opportunity of appealing to the Scottish people since this question was raised, but I have no doubt whatever that in Govan and Glasgow, and some of the other towns where this system has been adopted, whenever the people have an opportunity they will put an end to it. The School Boards who are acting in this way were, like the present Unionist majority, elected for one purpose, and are using their power for another. The system is causing a good deal of trouble and discontent wherever it has been tried.
§ (8.25.) MR. WALLACE
While I sympathise with the political doctrines laid down by those who have preceded me, I think the Government ought to accept this Amendment, on the ground that it is simply the carrying out of their own Bill. The proposition is to give a certain sum for the extinction of school fees in the compulsory standards. If there is a class of people, however, who want to pay fees, why should the Government insist on forcing their subsidy upon such people? I cannot see how the Government can consistently refuse this Amendment, which, to my mind, is simply the carrying out of their own proposal. I deprecate the introduction of contentious matter where a question can be settled on simple grounds of financial economy, and, as it seems to me, logical consistency. I was perfectly surprised to find 1234 there was any hesitation on the part of the Lord Advocate in at once acceding to the Amendment.
§ *(8.27.) MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has rather mistaken the scheme of the Government. The money is to be given to the School Boards and school managers, in proportion to the number of scholars in attendance in their schools; but these School Boards and managers will have to be left considerable freedom in the manner in which they carry out their operations. This Amendment proposes to make a studied interference with that which has been decided again and again to be proper liberty on the part of School Boards. The system of having one or two schools with fees for all the scholars is not introduced by a School Board except where they believe there is a demand for it. The hon. and learned Member who introduced this discussion spoke very truly of the larger mixture of classes in Scottish schools than in schools in England. That, no doubt, is the case in rural districts; but it has never been the case in towns that there were not graded schools, and to abolish these altogether would be to do an injury to education. Why have the School Boards made some of their schools superior to others, and given them more expensive staffs of teachers? They have done so because they believed there was a demand for schools of that kind, and that they would find people willing to pay higher fees. To put an end to this distinction in schools would simply be, if the schools were to be kept up to their present standard, to throw a great additional burden on the ratepayers. That could only be avoided by lowering the quality of the schools. Should the views of my hon. Friends opposite in favour of this Amendment be carried there will be a gradual lowering of the quality of the schools of Scotland to a common level, and that not a very high one, and there will be a danger of an impetus being given to a revival of private adventure schools. We have been congratulating ourselves upon getting rid of adventure schools, which were so numerous in the towns of Scotland, and were not of a character to do the highest service to the work of education. It would be a misfortune if 1235 private adventure schools were to be revived in consequence of all the State-aided schools being required to be thrown open to all classes of scholars. Such schools as are indicated by the Amendment were established only because School Boards believed there was a demand for them, and if any Board finds it has made a mistake in retaining a school with fees, and that there is not the required attendance of scholars, then, no doubt, it will alter its arrangements. But do not let us interfere with the discretion of School Boards, especially when in doing so we run the risk of lowering the character of the education provided. (8.36.)
§ (9.6.) MR. SINCLAIR
If this were a political question, and not a practical one, I should be delighted to vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen. But it is a practical one, for the reason that only a certain amount of assistance is given by the Imperial Exchequer in aid of paying fees in Scotland. That is not sufficient for the entire Kingdom, and, therefore, in certain cases these schools in given towns have had to be continued as fee paying schools. The schools dealt with in this Amendment do not themselves derive any benefit from the Imperial Exchequer, either in the shape of the Probate Grant or of the new grant, for, although they receive a share of the Probate Grant, and although it is proposed that they shall receive a share of this new grant, it will have to be applied for the benefit of other schools in the same district, and, thereby, the rich and those better able to pay for the education of their children will be helping forward the education of the children of their poorer neighbours. But more important still than that, is the fact that these schools are an attempt to solve a very great difficulty. In Scotland there is an absolute want of anything in the shape of secondary education, and in that way these schools have performed most useful and admirable work in creating and promoting higher elementary, and in improving secondary, education in these towns. It would be most unfortunate if these schools were entirely abolished. While I have always looked upon their existence as merely temporary, I think the day will come when probably they will have the same 1236 advantages as the elementary schools have, and then those in charge of them will be able to adopt the policy which is being advocated. Under these circumstances, I feel myself unable to support my hon. Friend's Motion. I hope that while these schools—which have diminished in number in the past, and are likely to continue to diminish accordingly as the principle of free education is more generally adopted—will continue to receive support to some extent by the payment of fees.
§ *(9.10.) MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
The last speaker surprised me by expressing the hope that those schools which insist on charging fees will by-and-by enjoy the advantages which belong to other elementary schools. That is the very thing we are asking for. It is because these schools insist on charging fees that this Amendment has been brought forward. We desire to see all our schools free of fees of any kind whatever. I think the last speaker, therefore, must have misunderstood the object which we have in view. There is nothing in this Bill which is more at variance with public opinion in Scotland, with reference to education, than this permission to school managers who receive grants to charge fees, and thus to compel the parents, who are too poor to pay the fees, to send the little ones a long distance from their homes, in order to get free education. The hon. Member for the University of Glasgow stated that this question had already been decided several times by this House It is quite true that the question was decided adversely to us last year, but it should be remembered that the decision come to was against the weight of Scotch opinion, and that the majority of the Scotch Members supported the principle of this Amendment. Since then public meetings have been held in various parts of Scotland, and at these, resolutions have been passed confirming the principle of this Amendment; therefore, Scotch public opinion on this subject is perfectly well-known, and no hon. Member can get up and say that that opinion is in favour of allowing fees to be charged in any elementary schools in Scotland. Yet the Government, by their present proposal, will allow managers of certain schools to insist on charging fees, and. thereby make those schools what may. 1237 be called genteel schools. That, again, is entirely at variance with public sentiment in Scotland. Social equality in educational matters has been the common feeling in Scotland, ever since the parish schools were established in the time of John Knox, or immediately afterwards. Children educated in them have belonged to all classes, and very few Scotch children indeed have found their way into other schools. It has been admitted in the course of this Debate that there has been a far greater variety of children in schools in Scotland than in schools in England. In the latter place they have been classified to a certain extent, whereas in Scotland, up to the present, there has been very little classification. We desire to avoid classification. We prefer to maintain the democratic feeling in Scotland with respect to education. The hon. Member for the University of Glasgow has suggested that in the schools in which fees are charged a superior education is given to that which will be given if the fees are abolished—that the education will then become inferior, because the masters and teachers will have to be paid lower salaries and, consequently, will not be able to keep that school up to the customary high standard. But the hon. Gentleman must have overlooked the financial position of the question. The Lord Advocate stated that it only required £33,000 to free the whole of the compulsory standards in every school in Scotland. Yet in this Bill the grant to be made amounts to £40,000, and, therefore, there is a margin of £7,000 left; and should the schools to which the dissussion refers decide to take advantage of this grant, can anyone say that there is any necessity for them to be less efficiently equipped and less able to maintain the high standard of education which has hitherto characterised them? I should like to remark that only six or eight Scotch Members last year voted against the principle of this Amendment, while the enormous majority of Representatives for Scotland were in its favour.
§ (9.20.) MR. C. S. PARKER
I think the number of Members who voted against the principle of this Amendment last year was rather more 1238 than six or eight. I know that among the opponents of it were the hon. Member for North Aberdeen and myself. We voted against it on temporary grounds—having regard to the financial position of many of the most important School Boards in Scotland, and if the Government had been guided this year by the voice of the majority of Burgh Scotch Members, if they had been willing to give the additional £50,000 towards free education, I think there would have been an end of this difficult, question, because there would have been no longer any School Board in Scotland, which would have wished to keep up fee-paying schools when their finances were in such a good condition. My difficulty is this: that we are providing now for the current year, and the money which is being voted will suffice to meet the average requirements of Scotland. But, as a matter of fact, in individual cases—in the case of several large towns and especially in the case of the City of Glasgow—it will fall considerably short of what is required. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen has in no way exaggerated the importance of the proposition which we are now advocating; but I think he made a little mistake as regards the number of schools in respect to which the difficulty exists. We have been told that there are rather over 3,000 schools in Scotland, and that only a paltry 43 come under this system of paying fees. But, Sir, what the hon. Member did not recognise, and what I think the House should distinctly bear in mind, is, that you cannot take the measure of this question by the mere number of 43 fee-paying schools. You must look to the fact that these schools do not exist in any way for themselves alone. They exist in pursuance of the policy—as in the case of Glasgow—of a great School Board which is to prevent the imposition of a heavy rate upon the citizens in order to secure the provision of adequate school accommodation in the city. I am afraid that in the case of Glasgow, the funds voted by Parliament will fall short by many thousands 1239 of pounds of the amount necessary to free the whole of the compulsory standards in all the schools. I sympathise very much with what has been said about the position in which some parents are placed. Hitherto, of course, they have been compelled to find the fees. Then they were told that the education of their children was to be free; but when they made inquiries, they discovered that, however satisfied they might be with the school in which their children had been educated in the past, that was not to be one of the free schools; and if they desired free education, their children must go further afield. I do not know that in any case it has been found necessary to send children an inconveniently long distance in order to get free education; but, still, parents who have been satisfied with one school, have felt disappointed at finding that it is to be maintained as a fee-paying school. I do not agree with the principle laid down by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, that there should be complete equality in educational matters—that children of different classes should sit side by side. I do not think we ought to carry that quite so far. I dare say most Members of this House send their children either to a private school or to one of the great public schools of the country. No doubt many of the wealthiest parents in England are sending their children to public schools, which live to a great degree on endowments left them in years gone by. I am not prepared to lay down the principle that no one should be allowed a share out of the public taxes, or of the public rates, unless he is prepared to send his children to an elementary school. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, that it would be a retrograde step which would tend to the revival of those private adventure schools which were so largely extinguished by the liberal conduct of the School Boards; but I would venture to put before the House an ideal of which I think we are within measureable distance and which would get rid of this difficulty. I think we are rapidly arriving at the point when schools which are ambitious in their programme should be classified differently from the ordinary public schools. I do not think it is 1240 reasonable or fair as in the case of the Glasgow Grammar School or the Aberdeen High School, that these schools should receive no assistance directly from the Imperial Exchequer; and that, at the same time, the Garnet Hill School should receive substantial assistance from that source. I think the School Boards should choose between one of two things: either they should curtail, in some degree, the programme of these schools, or they should be prepared to transfer the management of them to another Department, and have them treated as schools giving a higher education and preparing children for a higher kind of education. Even in the high schools and grammar schools there should be a percentage of free places open to these people who are willing to make educational provision for their children without taking into account their wage-earning capacity. I look forward to the time coming before long when we shall have a larger number of free secondary schools in Scotland, and also a considerable development of these quasi-secondary schools, all of them charging fees until Parliament shall more liberally provide, but all of them giving for working class children a number of free places. On the whole, I cannot take the responsibility of laying down by Act of Parliament in the case of so flourishing a School Board as that of Glasgow that they shall no longer keep schools of this kind. I think we must leave their hands free in the matter. In Glasgow they have one-tenth of the whole school population of Scotland; and if the School Board there do not see their way to dealing with this one-tenth without having a certain number of fee-paying schools, I, for one, cannot accept the responsibility of forcing them to change their system.
§ (9.33.) MR. CALDWELL
This question will come before the citizens of Glasgow, as well as the whole people of Scotland, in March next, and also at the next General Election. It will not be allowed to rest. It is true the Scotch Members were not very unanimous when the question was before the House on the previous occasion; but since then the circumstances have most materially changed. Previously there was not 1241 sufficient money to free education in the compulsory standards in all the schools. In fixing on the £40,000, the Government think it should be sufficient to free education in those standards. If it so happens that in the case of any School Board the grant is not sufficient to free education, the cause is that they have been charging higher fees than other Boards. To that extent they will have been saving the rates. If, as the hon. Member for Perth says, Glasgow has one-tenth of the whole school population of Scotland, she will get one-tenth of the £40,000 extra, and that will clear all the fees that are being at present paid in the compulsory standards, in the East End schools, the average school fee in Glasgow being about 16s. a head, whilst in the rest of Scotland it is 12s. The question comes to be one of principle, though hitherto it has been argued as one of money. The whole argument in Glasgow was based on the fact that they had not sufficient money, and the Board would not face the question of principle, whether it was right and proper to have fee-paying schools while the remaining schools were free. The Lord Advocate, who evidently knows little or nothing about the school question in Scotland, argued the matter as one of principle; for if he had argued it as a question of money, we should have at once said to him, "How about the £50,000 which you have in your own hands?" He argued that it was a right principle that the upper classes should be able to send their children to school without their mixing with the rabble. But in Scotland the system has always been that the public school and the State aided school should be open to all classes of the community without distinction of rank. The Act of 1872 allowed parents to have their school fees paid by the Parochial Boards, and to select what Board Schools they pleased for their children. A parent who had the school fees paid for him could send his children to the Garnet Hill School or any other State-aided school in Glasgow; so that the child of poverty had an equal choice of school with the child of the wealthiest. It was left to a Conservative Government to draw a distinction, for the first time in Scotland, between the class of schools, and to say that some should be fee-paying 1242 from which the children of the poor, ordinarily speaking, should be excluded. Then, in the case of the endowment schools, education was given at less than cost price. It was thought that there should be social intercourse between the classes, and that intercourse was the quid pro quo that the Endowment Commissioners considered warranted the giving of education in a charity foundation at less than cost price. The school fees paid by the parents do not represent the whole cost of the education. They do not, for instance, represent the cost of the school buildings. The School Boards take the best buildings, erected at the cost of the ratepayers, and set them aside as fee-paying schools; and I undertake to say that a careful calculation would reveal the fact that the cost to the ratepayers of these fee-paying schools is greater than that of the free schools. The payment of fees is not for the purpose of aiding the rates. The ratepayers do not get the money, but the idea is that they reap some benefit in return. The teachers are more highly paid and better qualified than those of the other schools; the children are supposed to be of a higher class; the schools are superior and also the school appliances. We often hear hon. Members opposite say that they desire to raise the working classes, but that is not what they are doing here. According to your present policy you are lowering them. Those who are down you want to keep down, and those who are up are to be kept there, and at the same time to have the benefit of the money of the State. No one objects to the upper classes having a better education if they pay for it themselves; but what we object to when you are dealing with State money is that one class should be able to enjoy it in a select and exclusive way. If they want it let them take it under the same conditions as the poorest people. These are the principles on which we join issue with the Government. It is all very well for them to think that they are raising the cry of education. It is all a question of class distinction. I shall certainly support the Amendment.
§ (9.45.) MR. HUNTER
Some allusion has been made to my conduct, but I do not think the hon. Member who 1243 mentioned my name informed the Committee of anything I had said that I had not informed the Committee of myself. I said last year that I opposed this principle as inexpedient and inopportune.
§ MR.C. S. PARKER
I did not attack the hon. Member. I said both he and I were of opinion that this was premature, and that I still regarded it as not yet ripe for Parliamentary action.
§ MR. HUNTER
I should not have risen on that point at all, but the case of the Glasgow School Board has been cited as an example in the course of the Debate. I maintain, however, that this Board is the worst sinner in all Scotland in respect of one cardinal duty of a School Board—to distribute its burdens fairly and honestly between the parents and the ratepayers. I think that we may take it that the general practice throughout Scotland is a fair indication of what is reasonable treatment as between the parents and the ratepayers. Those who have taken the trouble to study the figures from 1872 up to the present time will find one very interesting and consoling fact; and that is, that the School Boards in Scotland, as a whole, have not spared the rates at the expense of the parents. The Glasgow School Board, however, has systematically overcharged the parents in order to save the pockets of the ratepayers. Whilst the average school fee in Edinburgh is 10s. per head, and the average fee throughput the whole of Scotland is 13s., in Glasgow it goes up as high as 16s. Three-fourths of the people who send their children to the Board Schools in Glasgow live in houses of not exceeding £10 a year, and they consequently pay 13 per cent, of the rates. Those who are richer pay 87 per cent.; therefore, the reason why the parents are overcharged is not far to seek. So far from regarding the School Board of Glasgow as an authority to be relied on here as an example, I think the contrary is the case. That Board represents a congeries of sectaries of various kinds, and does not represent the people of Glasgow. In other parts of Scotland, no doubt we have suffered from the cumulative Vote, but in no part of the country has that 1244 suffering been so acute and sectarianism so rife as in the City of Glasgow.
§ (9.50.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 90; Noes 128.—(Div. List, No.210.)
§ (10.3.) MR. BARCLAY
I beg to move the omission of the words "including any sum not applied and distributed in terms of the preceding sub-section."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 18, to leave out the words "including any sum not applied and distributed in terms of the preceding sub-section."—(Mr. Barclay.)
§ MR. BUCHANAN
The acceptance of the Amendment means that these words mean nothing at all. This decision of the Government is, at any rate, a recognition on their part of the legitimacy of the arguments that have been brought forward on this side of the House and a confession of the ambiguity with which their proposals have been laid before us.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Subsection," put, and negatived.
§ (10.6.) MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
I should like to ask what is the meaning of the words "until Parliament otherwise determines?" I suppose every Act we pass in this House is only operative until an Act has been passed to modify it or put an end to it; I gather that there is a purpose in the methods of the Government, because when we come to Clause 3 we find, not precisely the same form of words, but precisely the same idea. Clause 3 is subject to an Act to be hereafter passed on an entirely different subject. I submit that the words I have quoted in this clause mean nothing at all, inasmuch as, whatever Act of Parliament we pass this year, it must be subject to any future amending Act. In order to bring the Government back to the ancient conservative methods of drafting Bills in this House, I beg to move the omission of the words.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ *(10.8.) MR. GOSCHEN
I think the hon. Member could find precedents for this course which is recommended by right hon. Gentlemen on his own side. Last year we had a similar form in Section 22 of the Local Government Bill. The words give a flavour of uncertainty, and indicate that the tax is not to be assumed to be a permanent one.
§ MR. STOREY
There may be reasons for inserting these words in the Bill, but I never heard of putting words into a measure in order to give it a "flavour of uncertainty."
§ *(10.9.) MR. GOSCHEN
My meaning is, that it is not to be assumed that this is a permanent tax. I think that is a perfectly rational point to suggest, though I may not have expressed it extremely well
§ (10.10.) MR. STOREY
I really do not think it desirable to introduce these suppositions for the future. With regard to what has fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to precedents, for my own part I have no side. I sit below the Gangway, and if right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway have, in a moment of weakness, introduced such forms, it does not strengthen the argument in my opinion. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assent to the omission of the words, and leave the sub-section complete in itself.
§ (10.11.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I do not quite understand why the words were introduced. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the tax out of which the whole of this money is to be produced is not to be a permanent one? He had better say that the whole of the Bill is to be held in a state of suspense. Does it mean that next Session the right hon. Gentleman may ask us to repeal the whole tax, and that then all the arrangements as to police superannuation and school fees will be knocked on the head because the tax upon which they rest will be gone? I think that the 1246 argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is most unsatisfactory, and I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw both his argument and the words.
§ *(10.12.) MR. GOSCHEN
I am not prepared to withdraw either my argument or the words. The right hon. Gentleman must see that these words apply specially to the amount set free by the dropping of the Licensing Clauses. I have from the first treated the application of the sum so set free as a more provisional arrangement than the rest.
§ (10.13.) SIR W. HARCOURT
It is not the money that is set free, but the money that is raised, and it is raised as a single tax. It is not as if the two things were distinguishable. It is a tax raised upon spirits and beer. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that a portion of this tax is likely to be dropped in a future Session? I think that the second argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is even worse than the first, and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should drop both.
§ (10.11) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer's first speech had some force in it; but it seemed to me that he entirely contradicted himself in his second speech. I object so strongly to the way in which we are handing over to the Local Authorities larger sums than we ought, that I will support the Government in retaining these words, because the more flavour of uncertainty there is about the arrangement the better it will be. I think we ought to let the Local Authorities understand that Parliament is not going to hand over these very large sums to them simply in relief of rates, but that at some future time it may insist that they should apply a portion of them to purposes other than those introduced in the Bill. I hope the Amendment will not be passed.
§ (10.16.) MR. A. H. D. ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
As I read the Amendment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to move subsequently, these words apply to the whole sum, 1247 including the residue—that is to say, to £750,000. I think it is most important that we should know from the point of view of Wales and Ireland whether the right hon. Gentleman really means that the grant for intermediate education in those countries is to have a "flavour of uncertainty" about it.
§ (10.17.) MR. HUNTER
The Government have already successfully defied public opinion, and now they are determined to defy common sense. If the draftsman did not insert these words by accident he is a very remarkable draftsman. The inference to be drawn from the wording is that the sum for free education is to be applied whether Parliament otherwise determined or not, but the residue is to be differently dealt with and is only to be applied to the purposes mentioned in the Bill until Parliament otherwise determines.
§ (10.20.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 150; Noes 115.—(Div. List, No. 211.)
§ Other Amendments made.
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 28, at the end thereof, to add the words—
(b.) and subject, as aforesaid, among the county councils of counties and town councils of burghs, and police commissioners of police burghs, in Scotland, in proportion to the respective valuations of such counties and burghs and police burghs as such valuations shall be ascertained by the Secretary for Scotland at the date of such distribution, the share falling to such councils and commissioners respectively to be applied to the relief of local rates levied by them respectively, in such manner as they may determine."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (10.35.) MR. SINCLAIR
The object of the Amendment of which I have given notice is to meet the case of certain districts in which the fees withdrawn are so large that the amount could not be met by the contributions from the Imperial Exchequer from the Probate Duty, supplemented by this new grant, and that the amount for the purpose might be added to from the residue. But as the case I intended to meet is covered by the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), I think I shall best consult the convenience 1248 of the Committee by not moving my Amendment, but bringing it in as bearing on the question raised by my hon. Friend in the Amendment which stands next on the Paper.
§ *(10.36.) MR. BRYCE
I desire to move an addition to the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, and omitting the words after "applied to," and add at the end—Educational purposes in such manner as may be prescribed by a scheme for each such county and burgh framed by each such Council and approved by the Scotch Education Department.I am not without hope that the Government will take a favourable view of this Amendment, for it must have struck the Committee that throughout the whole of these discussions there has been no demand for such a contribution to the rates as this sum of money will make. It is altogether a superfluous boon offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and one never asked for by the Scotch people. I can appeal in proof of that to the words of the Lord Advocate when he said that in Scotland there had been no such demand for the relief of the rates as there had been in England. Taking Scotland as a whole, the difference between the two countries is very marked, for I think there never has been a Session when English Members have not been asking for contributions towards local burdens. Such demands have not been made in Scotland. I do not refer to the origin of this nest egg of £35,000 a year to taunt the Government about it. The suggestion to throw it into the rates came upon us quite unexpectedly when the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the purchase of licences fell through. The Government may not like looking back upon the period when we were fighting over that scheme, and cannot do so with much pleasure; but my desire is to make a golden bridge for a retreating enemy, by suggesting to them a good way of spending this sum, the disposal of which seems to perplex them. The Government may yet earn the gratitude of the Scotch people if they will apply this £35,000 satisfactorily. We have heard the Government say that as regards England, although they purpose to devote the surplus to 1249 the rates in the present year, their intention is, or they have given a strong intimation to the English people that in future years they will propose, to apply the English portion of the surplus to secondary or intermediate education in England. They have gone further in other parts of the United Kingdom. In Ireland they have devoted the whole of the amount which would otherwise have gone to the purchase of licences, to purposes of intermediate education, and with the full consent of the Irish Members. Something even better has been done in Wales. The Welsh people are going to get this money to supplement the amount they have under their Intermediate Education Act, and which has already begun to be applied in a manner which promises to be highly beneficial and likely to promote the best educational interests of Wales. What I desire to suggest to the Committee is that the example has been so well set in the case of Ireland and in the ease of Wales, and hinted at in the case of England, should be applied in the case of Scotland. My proposals, I venture to say, will be generally consonant with the views of the Scotch Members. The Divisions upon this Bill have been significant. There has always been a majority of Scotch Members in favour of applying the money to educational purposes, and upon the main Division there was a crushing majority—42 to 14—of Scotch Members in favour of applying the money to free education. I believe I express the general opinion among Scotch Members in saying that if we cannot get the complete extinction of fees which we think to be by far the best course, we still would like an educational application of the money. I do not wish to detain the Committee by dilating upon the need in Scotland for some further provision for secondary or intermediate education, for that is a matter of common knowledge. There is no Scotch Member who does not feel that if we were free to have a Scotch Session to deal with our own needs one of our first Bills would be a measure for the purpose of improving intermediate education in Scotland. The old Grammar and Burgh Schools of the country are not sufficiently numerous nor sufficiently 1250 well equipped; in many of the newer towns no such schools exist; the provision of endowments is scanty, except in one or two places, such as Edinburgh, and there are large rural areas in which secondary schools either are lacking or are so placed that they cannot serve the needs of the country. That is particularly so in the Northern and Highland counties. Nobody can deny that money would be usefully employed in promoting secondary or intermediate education, and the expenditure of a comparatively small sum as a nucleus with this object would be of immense advantage to the nation at large. So, too, as regards technical education. Very few of the city or burgh schools have yet made proper provision for technical education under the Act we passed in 1887. That Act has not been largely availed of, but nothing would do more to stimulate its operation than to put a sum at the disposal of Local Authorities, to be made the nucleus for the promotion of technical education. The gift of even a small sum to make a beginning has the most useful results in stimulating local liberality. There are many other methods and plans by which the money at the disposal of the Local Authorities might be well applied. There is the promotion of evening schools, a subject with which some Members are more competent to deal with than I am, and to which one of my hon. Friends-proposes to call attention. There is also the maintenance of what are called continuation schools. It is not so much a large sum that is needed as money well directed which would stimulate local benevolence. To such an end the value of this £35,000 is great, and out of all proportion to its actual amount. It may be made the beginning of educational work in this direction, a beginning for which we may have to wait a long time if we do not take the first step with this money we have at hand. It may be objected to the Amendment that further legislation is required to give effect to it. A short and simple Act would be all that is needed, and this might be passed early in next Session; meanwhile, the one substantial thing we desire to secure is that, instead of this money going to the relief 1251 of the rates, it shall be devoted to some educational purposes. The relief to the rates would be absolutely infinitesimal. This sum of £35,000 is, I believe, not more than one-seven-hundredth of the whole rating of Scotland; and if hon. Members will only consider the proportion that will fall in their own district to the relief of ratepayers in counties and burghs, they will appreciate that it will have no sensible effect. The Government will earn no substantial gratitude by giving relief in the form they propose. I may perhaps be met on the part of the Government with the objection that the Local Government Act for Scotland makes no direct provision for enabling County Councils to act in educational matters. The answer to that is twofold. In the first place, it must be remembered when we come to complete the System of intermediate education for Scotland we shall be forced to use County Councils, School Boards not having a sufficiently wide jurisdiction; and why not entrust Councils which are certainly not overburdened at present with some educational functions, following an example which has had such happy results in Wales? Another answer is to refer to the 15th section of the Scotch Local Government Act of last year, which provides that it shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland to make from time to time Provisional Orders for the transfer to a County Council of certain powers, duties, and liabilities, now exercised by the Privy Council or the Scotch Education Department in regard to matters of an administrative character. I think the Committee will observe under that provision, which seems to point to some action of the kind proposed in this Amendment, it would not be difficult for the Government, if they took up this proposal with sympathy, to make Provisional Orders under which the powers of County Councils might be considerably extended and various educational functions conferred on them, enabling them to deal with the matter. I do not believe there would be any jealousy on the part of School Boards at seeing the purposes of secondary education so advanced. With regard to police burghs as well as other burghs, it might be that the School Boards would be more 1252 appropriate bodies than the Commissioners or Councils, and it would be easy to modify this Amendment, so as to enable them to deal with the expenditure of the money. I may add that the suggestion in my Amendment is that any scheme of the kind should have the concurrence of the Scotch Education Department, and this will be a guarantee against any imprudent experiments which authorities in counties or burghs may be thought likely to be tempted to make. I do not wish, having stated the principle of my Amendment, to occupy more time in urging it. I trust that the Government will give it fair consideration; that they will have some regard to the wishes of a large majority of Scotch Members; and that whether or not I have suggested the best machinery for carrying out the purpose, that they will not allow this residue to be lost, like a snowflake in a river, in the reduction of rates, but will reserve it for a purpose for which it is greatly needed and where it can be used with the happiest results.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment,
To leave out from the words "applied to,' to the end of the proposed Amendment, in order to add the words" educational purposes, in such manner as may he prescribed by a scheme for each such county and burgh, framed by each such council, and approved by the Scotch Education Department,"—(Mr. Bryce,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'to the relief of local rates levied by them respectively,' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ *(10.50.) MR. GOSCHEN
Certainly I cannot complain of the tone or substance of the speech of my hon. Friend, who has stated in a very temperate manner some of the purposes to which, in his belief, the money might be legitimately applied. I can assure him that the suggestions he has made are but a reflex of the consideration the Government have given to this subject. The Government have already considered whether it would be proper to dedicate this sum to the purposes to which the hon. Member has referred. The hon. Member has alluded to the attitude the Government have taken 1253 up with respect to intermediate education in Ireland, Wales, and England. In Ireland we proposed to devote a considerable sum to intermediate education, and in Wales also. In England, although we have no proposals at present, we do contemplate the possibility of some liabilities with respect to education being put upon County Councils in the future. With regard to Ireland and Wales we have the machinery ready by which the sum placed at the disposal of the constituted authorities for intermediate education may at once be utilised. But in England and Scotland we have no such machinery ready, and we do not see our way to constitute machinery at once for the purpose. Now, I am perfectly ready to give my hon. Friend, and others who hold the same doctrine that he does, this assurance: that I think it is a matter perfectly open to legitimate discussion whether County Councils should not in the future be trusted with some of the powers which my hon. Friend has indicated; and in the same way as we hope to consider the case with respect to England, so we hope to consider and promote it in the case of Scotland. I do not for a moment preclude the idea of such a change, though perhaps not quite so complete as my hon. Friend has suggested. Hon. Members acquainted with the situation of the Local Authorities in Scotland will admit that at the present moment the County Councils and the Town Councils do not stand in any relation whatever to the educational arrangements of that country. They would have entirely to learn their business; they have no relation whatever to primary education. It would, I think, he most undesirable to bring about a collision or a contact between such bodies as the Town Council of Glasgow, and the School Board of Glasgow in order to determine any of these eduational problems. We may lay it down as a principle that the County Councils are not in a position at present to interfere in any way with elementary education in Scotland, and in that I think I shall have the adhesion of a good many Members from Scotland. But my hon. Friend, I know, is thinking more of intermediate education. Well, the County Councils are a new body; they have yet to win their spurs, and I doubt 1254 whether, in the remaining part of this financial year, they would be able satisfactorily to work out the schemes suggested by my hon. Friend. They would have to work out those schemes under pressure, and that would be an undesirable position in which to place any body having money at their disposal, and having to find a means for its application in the current year. It is undesirable to hurry County Councils into any outlay on schemes with regard to those great questions of educational organisation which require so much care. My hon. Friend thinks the sum is so small that it will have no appreciable effect upon the rates, but really I think the ratepayers might put the sum to very good account by paying off some of the debt and relieving themselves in other directions. If it is small as applied to the relief of the rates, so also it is small as applied to a great educational experiment. I would press that point that it would be undesirable to hurry the County Councils into outlay on questions of educational organisation where the utmost care is required to avoid making great mistakes. I wish to reserve to the Government the freedom and the privilege of being able to deal with intermediate education in Scotland on some future occasion. As hon. Members know, the time will come when further money will be available for education in Scotland; and as so much has been done in the direction of primary, elementary education, there will be all the more means at our disposal to enter upon a substantial, reasonable, well-considered scheme for promoting intermediate education which is near to the hearts of Members on both sides of the House. A certain sum of money has been set free by the operation of the Educational Endowments Commission, and that sum has been employed in the promotion of intermediate education. I understand that some urgent cases have been dealt with, and we may look forward to the time when we may all concentrate our minds upon working out some satisfactory system of intermediate and technical education for Scotland. On behalf of the Government, I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ *(11.0.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I certainly have nothing to 1255 complain of in the tone with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met the arguments of my hon. Friend. But the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is altogether too apologetic. Why is it that County Councils have such limited powers? It is because the Government would grant them no more powers. It was the desire of almost every Member representing Scotland that County Councils should have more ample powers than they at present possess. The right hon. Gentleman argues as if the Educational Endowments Commissioners had placed at the disposal of Local Authorities an amount of money more than sufficient for the requirements of secondary and technical education in Scotland or would have the means hereafter, but that certainly is not the case. I have had occasion already to commend the liberality of the Commissioners in appropriating as much as they possibly can of these endowments to the promotion of secondary and technical education; but we have had constantly before us the idea in Scotland that the Educational Endowments Commissioners are not at liberty to dispose of money which was originally bequeathed by pious donors in favour of education to purposes of higher education, and this has, to a certain extent, overborne the desire of the Commissioners. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is entirely wrong in assuming that the appropriation of money in relief of the payment of school fees in Scotland in 1889 has done anything whatever for the promotion of education. It has, however, undoubtedly given a fair and just relief in those parts where the pressure of fees was severely felt. We hope that this small sum of money may be added for the purpose of stimulating secondary and higher education. What I have endeavoured to impress on the Government is this, that with the comparatively small sum now offered they will be able to give a great stimulus to higher education. The money may, as you propose, be applied to the relief of the rates, but, as a fact, in Scotland there is no demand that it shall be applied in that direction, while there is a universal demand—and the Lord Advocate will not deny it—that the County Councils and Local Authorities shall have control over the expendi- 1256 ture of this grant. If they are given such powers as we ask, no doubt they will be stimulated to promote evening-schools and secondary education beyond the Fifth Standard. Why should the Government tie the hands of the County Councils and the Town Councils when there is no doubt they will exercise their powers in the promotion of better education in Scotland? The Government seem determined to discourage the-application of this money to higher or secondary education. The Lord Advocate cannot be ignorant of the fact that in Aberdeen a great stimulus has been given to such education by a few thousands from the Gordon College. We only ask for a little freedom of action, and for a power to exercise a little discretion, so that we may apply this money to the best possible advantage. I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the; Exchequer and the Lord Advocate should use their great abilities in finding excuses why the people of Scotland should not aspire to higher education. I hope that they will agree to our reasonable proposal, and give the Local Authorities power to promote technical and higher education by means of money which really belongs to the Scotch people.
§ (11.12.) MR. BUCHANAN
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has only dealt with one part of the Amendment He referred only to the County Councils, and not to the Town Councils. I understand it is not the intention of the Amendment to give this money to Town and County Councils to spend as they choose, but it is intended to give a direction that it shall be spent in promoting education. The Town Councils of Scotland are specially qualified to discharge such a trust, and to select suitable objects to which the money shall be devoted. I think the Government would do well to assent to the proposition to give directions to the Town and County Councils to apply this residue for educational purposes. The great difficulty in a large city like Edinburgh will be for the Town Council to know what to do with this money. The rates in Edinburgh amount to about £150,000 a year, and what gain will it be to the Town Council to get this small sum of £4,000 or £5,000? Without any direction as 1257 to the expenditure of it, it will probably give more dissatisfaction than otherwise. On the other hand, there are many excellent educational institutions in Edinburgh, and the expenditure of this money might be attended with the most valuable consequences to the community, if conducted as we suggest, whereas if it goes only in the relief of the local rates the benefit to the ratepayers will be infinitesimal.
§ (11.20.) MR. A. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
I hope that this Amendment will be looked at in a practical light, for it really involves the introduction of a new scheme of education, to be carried out by Local Bodies not specially identified with the subject and having no special machinery for dealing with it. It is easy to point out how large centres like Edinburgh may benefit by this grant, but it is rather the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look to the best general use of the money in both town and country. I do not think the rural constituencies would gain much benefit if this money were devoted to educational purposes, and handed over to technical colleges. After all, the money in question is taken from Imperial sources, and Parliament hardly has the right to devote it to the cause of some special interest in special localities. The ratepayer is ubiquitous, and I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has endeavoured to benefit the community in general in the application of the fund. I think the ratepayers are entitled to this relief. I hope that this discussion will not be prolonged. If the same kind of verbal criticism were applied to all legislation as has been applied to the clause before the Committee, no measure would ever pass through the House of Commons. I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be right in this case. I believe he has tried to benefit the community in general. We must all recognise that great things have been done for education in Scotland by the present Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the present proposal has considered the interests of the general community, and he deserves, and will receive, the support of a large section of the people of Scotland for his proposals with regard to the appplication of this £40,000.
§ (11.25.) MR. STOREY
I note with satisfaction the statement of my hon. Friend in favour of giving this money not to any section of the people, but to the community as a whole. When we remember the attitude he took up recently at the time it was proposed to devote this very money to a much worse section of the public, and to a much worse question than education——
§ MR. STOREY
When we remember his former attitude we are grateful to him now for his change of opinion. It may be a matter for surprise that an English Member should interfere in a Debate peculiarly Scotch. No doubt we have no direct interest in this matter, but we have an indirect interest, for we are jealous about the making of precedents which are calculated to give us some trouble when we come to amend the English law. Of course, we sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen in the object he has in view. We shall, as Englishmen, be glad to see the Scotch people get more education, for they need it nearly as much as the English people, but the Amendment contains a vicious principle, in that it proposes to give the control of this money to Burgh Commissioners and County Councils, and it altogether ignores the claim of the existing School Boards to deal with it——
§ MR. STOREY
I was not afraid of what the hon. Member was willing to do, for I knew he would take a common sense view of the matter. But it appeared to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was delighted that a proposal should emanate from the Front Opposition Bench in favour of placing educational matters in the hands of the Burgh Commissioners and County Councils in Scotland. He knows that in England attempts were made, time after time, to adopt a similar course, and to introduce bodies other than the School Boards into educational matters. Unfortunately, they were to a 1259 certain extent successful, especially in science and art instruction and technical education. Hon. Gentlemen opposite always seem to look with suspicion and doubt on the action of the School Boards, and have more than once attempted to lessen their usefulness and exalt other authorities. We English Radicals, at least, believe in the principle "as for Scotland, so for England." I should accordingly like to see the Amendment modified; but in any case I shall vote for it, for I am prepared to divide against anything introduced by the present Government, but I shall guard myself from admitting it as a precedent for England.
§ *(11.30.) MR. PROVAND
I wish to put in a plea for another educational purpose to which this money could be applied in Scotland—namely, for the formation of evening continuation schools. A great deal has been said about the money being given to the ratepayers, but the ratepayer has no claim to it, especially as it was originally intended for quite another object than his relief. Probably no branch of education has been more discussed within the last few years than evening continuation schools, and certainly no branch of education has been more generally approved. It has been felt and stated by educationalists of all Parties that the present method of education is defective through the absence of such schools, because under the present system the great mass of children, leaving school, as they do, at a comparatively early age, soon forget much of what they have been taught. This involves a great waste of money, and is a disadvantage to the State as well as to the individual. The majority of the recent Royal Commission on Education strongly recommended in their Report the formation of evening continuation schools, and used these words in their Report—That the necessity of having some form of evening school for the purpose of fixing and making permanent the day school instruction is almost self-evident; and that it would be worth the while of the State to spend more morey on such schools.There has been no such profitable investment ever made by the State as that which has been devoted to expenditure in educating the young. 1260 The Report of the Committee of the Council on Education in Scotland was presented to the House to-day, and, in, glancing through it, I notice that this, matter has received their attention. They say:—We regret to find that the education of many children appears to be discontinued as soon as the standard of exemption. is reached.This is true of Scotland, although the children go later to school and stay a little longer, than they do in England. In another part of their Report, the Committee dealing with the question of continuation schools, say:—We are as strongly convinced as formerly of the importance of such schools, both in developing and rendering permanent the work begun in the day schools.In previous Reports the Committee spoke in favour of evening schools, and there has been some increase of their number in Scotland. The average at which children leave school in Scotland is rather high, and yet there is only one child out of 8 in school in that country over 13 years of age. There is room for a large number of evening schools, to enable children to continue their instruction at night. Now, what will it cost to provide continuation schools? We expend in Scotland, from all sources, nearly £1,400,000 every year on inspected schools. A large percentage of that amount must be wasted. A very small sum, say 3, 4, or 5 per cent, of that amount, would be sufficient to provide a system of continuation schools throughout the country. The saving from the-adoption of such a system will be considerable. Mr. Paton, of Nottingham, who probably has had more experience in this country on the subject than anybody, points out that—First we build up at an immense expense a colossal system of primary education, and then see and allow the results of it to be very largely wasted and lost. Teachers speak dismally of the havoc to the fruit of their labours in the first two years after school is left. We cease to educate at the most important, the-most receptive, the most plastic period of life.The money that will be at the disposal of the Local Authorities in Scotland for this purpose will be something like £35,000. It is a very small sum, compared with the amount we expend on education generally, but it will be some- 1261 thing towards the total needed. I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen.
*(11.41.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN
I have great sympathy with what has been said by my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment, by my hon. Friend (Mr. Provand), who has just sat down, and others. They have urged the claims of certain educational purposes to a share of this money, but I am bound to say I see considerable difficulty in at once proceeding to take the step which is recommended by my hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce). In Scotland we have great needs in regard to intermediate education, but there is no machinery ready at hand by which the money thus applied could be immediately administered with success. I do not share the fear expressed by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) as to the County Councils. I do not think that the feeling which may exist in England extends in any degree to Scotland, and that fact is owing to the circumstance that, as we in Scotland have fortunately a universal system of School Board schools, we have not that jealousy with regard to School Board schools which exists in England. I have no doubt that if educational matters were handed over to the County Councils in England, it would be regarded as a triumph over the School Board by those who may be said to belong to the reactionary party in education, who have always opposed the School Board system. In Scotland the same condition of things does not exist, and I have looked forward to the time when the machinery of County Boards and District Boards, which I hope will be soon set up, will be entrusted with the education of the country. But I do not think the time for that change has yet come. The County Councils were only established last year, and we must allow them to become really accustomed to their duties before we impose new duties of this kind upon them. On these grounds I have great scruples about supporting the Amendment of my hon. Friend, although I entirely agree with him in the main purpose of the Amendment. I agree with him in this, that if 1262 we cannot have the money applied to the relief of fees in primary schools, as we desire, I do not know of any object more tempting and alluring to me than that which he proposes. Perhaps the object least tempting and alluring is that selected by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, what I have already called the naked and brutal relief of rates. I do not think much can be said—at least, I have never heard anything very satisfactory said—in justification of that proposal; but, although I do not approve of the Government proposal, and although I find we are thwarted in our desire to obtain what we prefer, I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment he has moved. If he does, although I shall certainly not vote against him, I do not think I can see my way clear to support him.
§ (11.45.) MR. SINCLAIR
The proposal of my hon. Friend allows this residue to be applied also in freeing school fees where it is necessary to do so—and there are some cases in Scotland where it will be necessary to apply a further sum of money than that obtained from Imperial sources to this purpose. There are districts in Scotland—I represent one of them myself—where the amount derived from the Probate Grant, and from this special source, will not be sufficient to remit the fees within the compulsory area alone. There will be a further sum to be obtained from fees or elsewhere unless the character of the education is to be reduced. I hope, therefore, the Government will allow this money to be devoted to purposes of education, in case of need, as proposed by the Amendment. There are no districts where the desire to have continuation schools, for the benefit of those who have been compelled to leave school at an early age, is stronger than it is in those which will suffer as I have mentioned. I hope, therefore, the Government will see their way to accepting the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ (11.47.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 187; Noes 139.—(Div. List, No, 212.)1263
§ Original Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.