HC Deb 20 March 1890 vol 342 cc1267-87
*(4.37.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I desire to call attention to the schemes which have lately been published, and are now passing through their regular statutory course for the better application of the Parochial Charities of the City of London. After three years of controversy an Act was passed in 1883 empowering the Charity Commissioners to inquire into the Parochial Charities of the City, and to prepare schemes for dealing with them in the future. The Commissioners were directed to divide the property into that which should appear to have been intended for ecclesiastical purposes, and that which was properly applicable to general charitable; purposes, and they were also to make some slightly different provisions with regard to the property in the inner parishes, of the city, where the population was then comparatively large, though it has since very largely declined. I believe it is within the knowledge of the Committee that the Commissioners have now practically concluded their work. They have issued their Reports and prepared a number of schemes—one of those schemes is now before the Education Department, and several others—I think at least 8 or 10—have been published and are ready to go before the Education Department in due course. It has been found that the total income available for charity purposes and ecclesiastical purposes under the Act is no less than £118,000, a sum which is susceptible of further increase, as leases fall in and property rises in value. Of this amount, at least £80,000 has been reported by the Commissioners to be applicable to general charity purposes, and about £37,000 to ecclesiastical purposes. There has been a little dissatisfaction in some quarters with regard to the schemes and the machinery by which they have been formulated. It has been thought that there was not sufficient knowledge among the inhabitants of London of the procedure of the Commissioners, and that there ought to be some further opportunity afforded of bringing these matters before the inhabitants of London, and enabling them to express an opinion on the application of this immense sum of money in which they are so deeply interested. I do not believe that the feeling of dissatisfaction which exists relates to the scheme as a whole; but there certainly are some matters with regard to which a little more information and discussion would be desirable. The Commissioners are clearly not to be blamed with regard to several points I shall presently mention, because they are undoubtedly matters respecting which the Commissioners were bound by the letter of the Act of 1883. I may say, in passing, that the Act of 1883 like many hotly-contested measures, embodied a compromise, and did not in all respects embody in its final form the views of those who brought it forward. The points on which complaint has been made are these:—In the first place the new governing body which is to have control of the central charity fund is to have upon it four representatives of the City Corporation. When the Act was passed the County Council did not exist, and it was considered that the Corporation was the only body which practically represented London, and which could be entrusted with the appointment of Members. I do not think, however, that the City ought in these days to have that large proportion of Members. In the next place, five parishes are to be treated on a somewhat different plan from the remaining City parishes. The funds belonging to those five parishes amount in the aggregate to about £25,000 a year, and are directed to be spent entirely within the parishes. It is worth considering whether the restriction thus provided for in 1883 can now be upheld, and whether it might not be advisable that the surplus funds of those parishes should be made applicable for the benefit of the whole Metropolis. In the third place the Act of 1883 gave the Commissioners directions with regard to the application of the Ecclesiastical Fund which have involved much heavier expenditure than I believe was then contemplated. The great bulk of the ecclesiastical property is proposed by the Commissioners to be left in the City of London for the carrying on of church services and the maintenance of churches. It is well known that the population of the City now is very greatly reduced and is constantly diminishing, that the services in most of the City churches are performed to empty pews, and nothing could be of more benefit to the Church of England in London than to devote a considerable portion of the funds now applicable to City churches to church purposes in different parts of the Metropolis. I will ask the Government whether, under these circumstances, they do not consider that a case has been made out for the reconsideration of the scheme on these three points. It has been suggested that there should be an amending Bill, no other method of dealing with the matter being possible. One does not like to ask the Government to promise any further legislation beyond* the somewhat ambitious programme which they laid down at the beginning of the Session, but if the Government would take the matter up they would find it easy to pass an amending' II5111 dealing with all or some of the matters to which I have referred. Such a measure, if backed up by their influence, would probably pass with little or no opposition. If any points of serious controversy arose upon it it could be sent to a Select Committee, where the questions in dispute could be adequately considered. So much for the points on which the Commissioners are powerless because bound by the words of the Act. Now let me pass on to the schemes the Commissioners have framed, which have given rise to discussion and complaint. The Commissioners originally allowed the County Council only two representatives on the new Governing Body, and left out the School Board altogether. I understand that it is now their intention to give the County Council four representatives and the School Board two, and probably that may be an adequate representation for the two bodies. But there are other details in the constitution of the new Governing Body, such as the members given to the University of London, in which the scheme might with advantage be re-considered. Out of a total income of £80,000, which turns out to be applicable to charitable purposes, only about £3,500 will at present come under the direction of the new Governing-Body, to be disposed of at their discretion. Now, that seems to be an extremely small sum out of these large funds with which to endow the new Governing Body, which is to be the Central Charity Authority for the whole Metropolis. If it is desired to induce men of mark, who enjoy the confidence of the citizens, to serve on the new body, something more than the control of a small sum of £3,500 a year should be given them. But even if it were doubled and £7,000 or £8,000 a year were given that would be a very small charitable fund to set apart to answer all the demands which the changing conditions of our life and time may bring to light. We have come into the possesion of what may be called an extraordinary charitable windfall. Is it fitting to use up all this income of £80,000 a year for the purposes which happen to recommend themselves to us at the moment, and not to leave any large sums to answer the needs of the future, and to expect that those who will come after us will find other friends to satisfy the various charitable purposes which have not arisen in our horizon, but which may seem to them of great utility? I therefore suggest whether the scheme might not be so far modified as to leave a somewhat larger sum at the disposal of the new Governing Body for the future. Then, with regard to polytechnics, I find it is proposed to devote large amounts to various institutions of the kind. Regent Street Polytechnic is to have £4,000 a year, the People's Palace at Mile End £3,500, the City Polytechnic £5,350, the Borough Road and Battersea Park Polytechnics £2,500 each, and the Chelsea Polytechnic £1,500. A polytechnic, I may explain, is an institution primarily for promoting technical education, and secondly for providing a library and lecture rooms and certain kinds of recreation. The Regent Street Polytechnic is an excellent institution and does a great deal of good, and so also does the People's Palace at Mile End. There is no one but feels that this has been a new departure of the utmost possible interest in our London life, and that it deserves all the support that the House can give it. But we are asked, in addition to the large grants made to the two existing institutions, to sanction grants of money for polytechnics in the City, in the Borough Road, at Battersea, and at Chelsea, and be it remembered that none of these institutions have yet been called into being. They will be experiments. I do not say that such experiments are not worth trying, but experiments they are, and we should be going upon sounder data if we had enjoyed longer experience of such institutions as the People's Palace at Mile End. I would, therefore, suggest that some of the money should be reserved for a time, and should revert to other purposes if it is found that the polytechnic experiment does not succeed. It may be said that considerable sums have been promised on the faith that these institutions will be established, and valuable pieces of land given on which to erect the buildings.. No doubt public-spirited men, and quasi-public bodies such as the City Companies, have offered money, and in these cases it may be well to go on; but then we ought to take care in framing the schemes-to provide for diverting the money should the polytechnics not be found to answer the expectations formed of them. It would be a great pity if these funds were to be tied up to this particular application. It may, perhaps, also be remarked that technical education is not one of those purposes to which it is so important to devote charitable money as some others, for there is another source from which we may hope to find the means of promoting technical education—I mean the funds of the City Companies. It can hardly be doubted that the process which these companies has begun as volunteers will be followed up, and that, before many years are past, we shall see many of the City Companies' funds devoted to technical education. I beg hon. Members to remember how important it is that we should take this opportunity of doing what we can to help the very poor. The difficulty is to prevent that which has been intended for the poor from falling into the hands of the better-off classes. Libraries, reading-rooms, lectures are chiefly serviceable to what are called the lower middle class, but there are many objects for which it is difficult to raise money by voluntary contributions which are very important to the poor—such as recreation grounds, public baths and washhouses, and convalescent homes. Institutions of that kind are more calculated to help the poor than institutions for technical and secondary education; and whatever the application may be, I hope we shall remember that we have now an opportunity without precedent in the past, and which may never occur again, of applying some of the funds to the brightening and sweetening of the lives of those who have the greatest claim upon our sympathy. And now it only remains for me to bring my remarks to a practical conclusion by making a suggestion to the Government as to the course they should follow. I have suggested that if it is thought that the points on which the Commissioners are bound by the Act of 1883 deserve to be re-considered in 1890, the only way would be to pass an amending Act, so that the points dealt with by the Commissioners in their scheme are matters that may or may not come before us. Under tin; provisions of the Act, a scheme can only be brought before the House after a Petition has been presented calling attention to it, and no one can tell whether or not such a Petition will be presented. Anyone who has followed the discussions in the public Press and in the County Council is aware that there is a considerable amount of latent discontent with regard to the method in which schemes are passed. It is felt that they ought to receive more discussion and more publicity than are customary; and it is therefore, perhaps, to be regretted that the Act does not provide for bringing all the schemes before the notice of the House. I therefore desire to suggest to the Government that they should present to the House, in the form of a Parliamentary Paper, any information in addition to that contained in the Report of the Charity Commissioners last year, and in addition to that which we may expect in the forthcoming Report, so as to help the House to arrive at a due comprehension of their data and the motives underlying their propositions. Then, as to existing Polytechnics, information should be forthcoming in order to enable us to judge how far they are in a solvent condition, and how far the experiments which have been tried encourage the hope that the much larger experiment now proposed to be tried will be successful. Further, I would suggest to the Government whether it might not be desirable to appoint a Select Committee to consider these schemes and take evidence on the matter, to examine the Commissioners and other persons, and to give an opportunity for any complaint which may exist being brought out and fairly dealt with by the Commissioners and by the Committee. The public would then recognise that a large step is taken only under due safeguards in the wisest way and with the best results. I have brought forward this subject in no spirit of hostility to the Commissioners. It is, I trust, generally felt that those gentlemen have discharged their duties with great assiduity, with great ability, and with great regard to the public interest. This is only what we should have expected from such persons as Sir Henry Longley and Mr. Anstie, but it is a pleasure to one who remembers the opposition made to the entrusting these duties to them, to perceive how well they have justified the trust. The people of London owe no small debt of gratitude to them for the manner in which they have fulfilled their functions.

*(5.5.) MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)

The House is greatly indebted to my hon. Friend for the work he has done in connection with these matters in the past, but I am not quite certain that any representative of the poorer divisions of London would have made such a speech decrying Polytechnics. I wish to say a few words on behalf of Battersea, where it is proposed to establish a Polytechnic for the united parishes of Battersea, Wandsworth, and Clapham, containing a population of a quarter of a, million, most of whom belong to the comparatively poor class. Now, Battersea has been promised an annual endowment of £2,500 for a Polytechnic if a sum of £60,000 is collected. Great efforts have been made, and £48,000 has already been collected. Certain moneys have been paid on account of land in the Battersea Park Road, and no scheme of improvement has been brought before the people in this district which has evoked so much interest as the Polytechnic Institute. It will be situated close to the railway stations and tram terminals; and although we have at the present time in Battersea a Free Library, we hope to found, in connection with the Polytechnic, a library containing a valuable collection of books bearing upon technical matters. Then I attach also very great importance to the recreative side of these institutions. At Battersea there are very few places of public amusement; there is no theatre, but there are one or two music halls, and I believe that if recreation is provided at the Institute, it will largely draw people from the public houses. I shall protest as long as I can against Battersea being deprived of a single shilling which has been promised to it.

(5.9.) MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)

I certainly have not had the privilege of taking part in any movement in which I have found a more genuine sympathy among all classes than that for establishing Polytechnics in London. Remember that enormous difficulties have to be overcome. Take the case of the Polytechnic proposed for the South-West of London. In that case £50,000 is to be subscribed in order to get a grant from the I Commission. Already £32,000 has been collected, and at the present time a house-to-house canvass is being organised in order to raise the balance. The leaders of the local Trades Unions in Chelsea have come forward with the greatest alacrity and zeal in order to help us. I hope that the House will stand by the proposal of the Commissioners, who have drawn out a comprehensive scheme for the whole of London, and although no doubt the experiment is a very large one, we must remember that the institutions established in the East of London and in Regent Street have proved successful. I trust that when the Polytechnics are started care will be taken to see that the Local Managing Body is a thoroughly representative one. An effort must also be made to connect with the Polytechnics men who have made up their minds to see such institutions successful. I hope the House will unite in enabling the scheme of the Commissioners to be carried to a successful issue.

(5.12.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

My hon. Friend in bringing this matter forward spoke in no sense of hostility to Polytechnics; on the contrary, his speech took a favourable view in that direction. I understood him to say that we were embarking on behalf of London in a scheme of great magnitude, involving many points of considerable doubt; and that, assuming that it was desirable to establish these Polytechnics, it was essential that in the scheme clauses should be specially inserted directing that they shall be made available for the working classes of the Metropolis. What many of us are afraid of is that they will drift into the use of persons for whom they are not mainly intended. But the schemes of the Commissioners are not confined to Polytechnics. It is proposed to establish two Public Libraries in the City of London, but I think it is a matter of doubtful expediency whether so great an outlay should be undertaken for the benefit of so small a section of the people of London. I think that the money proposed to be devoted to that purpose should be left in the hands of the Trustees of the City of London Parochial Charities, and be devoted for the benefit generally of the people of London. I was the Chairman of the Committee to which the Bill dealing with these matters was referred a few days ago, and I was under the impression that the intention of the Committee and of those who were interested in the Bill was that a large proportion of the money was to be left at the disposal of the Trustees. The schemes of the Commissioners, however, practically dispose of almost the whole of it; the sum left to be used at the discretion of the Trustees is hardly worth considering, and I should be glad to see a large amount placed at their disposal. I am also not satisfied that it was not the intention of the Committee that a larger sum should be appropriated to recreational purposes. There is nothing in which the public of the Metropolis are more interested than open spaces, and if money were expended in providing such spaces in the poorest parts of London the people would unquestionably derive great advantage from the outlay. Therefore, I am sorry a larger proportion of the money is not to be devoted to that purpose. Surely, whatever may be the value of the scheme as a whole, it may be revised in the direction I have suggested. We might get rid of the part referring to the establishment of Public Libraries in the City, and thus place a larger amount at the discretion of the Trustees, who would be able then to devote an increased sum for the purposes of recreation. We do not feel any hostility to the scheme of Polytechnics; all we desire is that the use of those institutions shall be secured to the working classes of the Metropolis. I hope the Vice President of the Council will adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, and agree to lay before the public more detailed information which is probably in the possession of the Charity Commissioners as to existing schemes. I also hope that he will agree to the appointment of a Select Committee to consider and take evidence upon the whole scheme.

*(5.19.) MR. W. R. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

Within the last year or two it has been my privilege more than once to accompany deputations which have waited upon the Charity Commissioners, and I desire to express my sense of the uniform courtesy and patience which the Commissioners have displayed on those occasions. I believe that those gentlemen discharge their duties with what they conceive to be a due regard to the interests of the people and in a high-minded and conscientious manner. But, at the same time, I agree with the hon. Member for Aberdeen that more consideration ought to have been shown in these schemes for the physical recreation of the people; and, if it had been possible, to have referred the matter to a Hybrid Committee consisting of some of the Charity Commissioners, some practical Members of the House of Commons, and certain members of the County Council, a scheme could, I believe, have been drawn up that would have met with the almost universal approval of the people of London. I think the Commissioners should have devoted more of the money at their disposal to the provision of playgrounds and gymnasiums in the poorer parts of London. Funds might also have been appropriated for providing free baths and washhouses, which would be a great boon to enormous and poor districts like Haggerston and Hoxton, where there is not a single public bath or washhouse. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give serious consideration to the valuable proposals of the hon. Member for Aberdeen. I think it is not too late now to vary the schemes; and I am sure, from what I have seen of the general desire of the Charity Commissioners to do that which is most beneficial for the people of London, they will only be too glad to have associated with them a few practical men from this House to assist in the revision of the scheme. Although the appointment of a Hybrid Committee would be without precedent, I feel confident that if the experiment were tried the results would be perfectly satisfactory to the majority of the people.


I am quite certain that no member of the Committee will be disposed to quarrel either with the manner or matter of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, and although I may not be able to accede to the requests of the hon. Member, I do hope to be able to satisfy him upon the important point that those upon whom is cast the duty of preparing these schemes feel very deeply the responsibility under which they labour and desire to take advantage of every suggestion that could enable them arrive at a satisfactory and a useful result. The hon. Member naturally takes a paternal interest in the result of the legislation in which ho took so prominent a part, for he was the author of the Act of 1883, and it is perfectly natural that he should be anxious with regard to the success of it. He, therefore, has every excuse for alluding to the question. As to the hon. Member's first suggestion, I shall be glad to take every opportunity of making the details of these schemes known to the public and of publishing all information I possess in connection with them. But may I also venture to throw out this consideration: that the very fact of this discussion having taken place in this House will be of much service in making the circumstances connected with these schemes known to the public? I must, however, remind the hon. Member that these schemes are drawn up upon lines that render the whole proposal dependent upon voluntary contribution, and that, if the carrying out of the schemes is to be materially delayed, the voluntary contributions may drop off and the whole of the schemes might fall through. When hon. Members realise that danger I think they will agree that we ought not willingly to allow any element of delay to enter into the application of the money to these purposes. Now, Sir, the hon. Member for Aberdeen further discussed the merits and demerits of the Polytechnics which this scheme proposes to set up. It is true he did not condemn the proposal; but he urged that some of the money might be applied to other purposes, and he threw out some hint of the danger of non-success. I admit that there is something in his suggestion that where such an enormous amount of money is involved, it would be a great pity if, by this central scheme of Polytechnics, the efficiency of the whole scheme were endangered. It must be admitted that in framing this scheme the Commissioners had before them a very good type of institution by which they might be guided I refer to the Polytechnic in Regent-street. I have before me the most accurate information as to the financial position of that institution. I hope that information will be placed on an early day in possession of the House. With regard to the criticism that it would be a pity to expend the money at once on different institutions, let me point out that it is from the very nature of things impossible that all these schemes are come into operation at once. The hon. Member has thrown out one or two suggestions, and he has suggested that Her Majesty's Government should endeavour to pass an amending Act. When I look at the state of business in the House, and consider the amount of legislation which we have to pass between this and the Prorogation, I do not think the most sanguine amongst us is prepared to give a promise that we will introduce an amending Act. Then the hon. Gentleman has suggested that we should refer the scheme to a Select Committee. We have had seven years of the Act, during which period the Commissioners have deliberated upon the schemes, and now, after seven years' work, it is proposed to refer the schemes to a Select Committee. If we agree to that, I submit we should be opposing not only the previous Select Committee, but tearing into fragments the Act dealing with these schemes. I assure the hon. Member that we are fully aware of the importance of the matter. We will take careful note of all the suggestions laid before us, and will do whatever we feel most conducive to the great educational advantage and general benefit of the Metropolis.

*(5.37.) Sir LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)

My right hon. Friend has exhaustively treated the subject, but one point—and a very important one—he has omitted, and that is the apprehension which has been entertained that these schemes may drift away from the working classes and go to classes for which they are not intended. This danger has been completely avoided, for instance, in Regent Street. If any hon. Member will go and examine the Regent Street institution, of which I have the honour to be one of the Executive Body, he will find the working classes using that institution in the most remarkable way. There he will find brickmakers, tailors, watchmakers, masons, and others trying to get a better and more general knowledge of their industry, which is cut up into so many divisions that a man actually en- gaged as a workman in it may really know nothing of it as a whole. It is quite delightful to see how many working men increase their intelligence in this way. Unintelligent working men will never use these institutions, but intelligent working men go there and benefit by developing that intelligence which they are able to apply for the future improvement of their industries. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that great care must be taken in watching these institutions and seeing they are fitted for the localities, but the localities take care of that for themselves. It is found in the case of all these institutions that the working men of the localities insist upon having classes for the industries chiefly carried on in the districts. The difficulty is to provide for all the demands made. There is another point of great importance, and that is, that there should be a department for recreation and physical training. If you go to any of these institutions and see the excellent gymnasiums and methods that are provided for the physical benefit and recreation of the members, you will come to the conclusion that the matter is most important. I hope these institutions will not become merely educational institutions, but that men who desire physical improvement will be able to go there for that purpose, and that when they come in contact with the intelligent working men who are employing themselves in technical training, they will be tempted to take advantage of the more educational parts of the institution. In conclusion, I heartily join with other members in expressing my admiration for the manner in which the Charity Commissioners have given their attention to the schemes and laboriously endeavoured to fit each Polytechnic to the district in which it is placed.

*(5.43.) MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)

I rise to re-assure the minds of right hon. and hon. Members opposite with reference to the question of physical recreative education and athletic exercises. I have to do with another institution of equal importance, perhaps, to the Polytechnics, namely, the People's Palace, and I can bear witness to the excellent results being achieved there. The hon. Member for South Leeds need not fear that the bodily welfare of young men and women is being neglected by these institutions. Had the hon. Gentleman been able to be at the People's Palace on Monday last he would have seen from 100 to 200 young women engaging in calisthenics. The Charity Commissioners have given us, up to the present, £3,500 per annum—I hope it may become more—and the money has been well spent in improving mind and body. We have a very large swimming bath, the gift of Lord Rosebery, and we are looking to voluntary subscriptions for the completion of the work going on there. It seems to me that a Committee on this subject would be entirely unnecessary. All these institutions are managed by Boards of Trustees who are composed of capable business men, men who generally know the locality and who are devoting themselves to the interests of the working classes. I cordially join hon. Gentlemen in congratulating the Charity Commissioners upon the way in which they have spent the money placed in their hands, and I am able to state that our Technical Schools are doing good work in the instruction of that class for which they are intended, and to which class alone they have been, and are confined.

*(5.46.) SIR B. SAMUELSON (Oxfordshire, Banbury)

I cannot altogether agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Play-fair) in the unqualified praise which he has given to these Polytechnics as technical institutions. The Regent Street Polytechnic, no doubt, has been a successful one; but it has been so entirely through the energy of its founder, Mr. Quintin Hogg. The People's Palace, on the other hand, I consider to be entirely on its trial so far as regards its educational aspects; and I must confess that the work which is going on in the technical and purely educational classes does not seem to me to be such as will, in the long run, command the confidence of the working people. Because one of these institutions has been successful for a great many years and the other is still on its trial, the Charity Commissioners have rushed into the sanction of a multiplication of them, which may with great advantage, in my opinion, be deferred. The great fact on which my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council relied as to why we should be in a hurry about the promotion of these institutions, appears to me to be one which should cause us to be additionally cautious. He tells us that subscriptions to the amount of £500,000 depend upon the contributions from the Charity Commissioners; but, if it should turn out that a mistake has been made, it would not end here, and bearing in mind what has happened to Mechanics' Institutes in many places, I think that, even at the risk of sacrificing some of the subscriptions which have been promised, it is desirable not to hasten the matter, lest a failure hero should discourage the public from similar liberality throughout the country. We ought to take time—by examination before a Select Committee, or by starting only one or two Polytechnics at first—before we enter upon an enormous expenditure of money, whether charity money or the money of private subscribers.

*(5.50.) MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

I think it would be difficult for a London Member to give a vote which might be construed as a condemnation of the action of the Commissioners. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) based his indictment upon the want of discussion of the schemes in the different localities where they are set up. I can hardly agree in that opinion. We took the matter up in all the parishes. There was a great deal of local consideration and discussion, and the opinion of the different districts was fully canvassed. It was not until we had arrived at a practically unanimous opinion that we went in deputation to the Charity Commissioners. The principle of the action of the Charity Commissioners has been that they will give £1 for every £1 subscribed by the public. On that condition money has been given by the public and sites promised, and I submit it would not be right at this time of day to suggest that the equivalent contribution should not be made out of the funds of the City Parochial Charities. It would almost be a breach of faith. It has been said we have not had a sufficient trial of these institutions. Reference has been made to two only; but in St. Pancras, to my own knowdledge, there is an institution which both in respect to industrial education and physical training has already achieved excellent results on a small scale. This scheme was very fully considered by the London County Council. It is true they presented a Report by a small majority against its adoption, but I think they were influenced mainly by a side issue. They objected to the constitution of the new Governing Body-That, I understand, the Charity Commissioners are prepared to re-consider. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Commissioners wish to give the fullest weight to all suggestions. I would particularly commend to him those made in respect, not of polytechnics, but of City parishes; those where, I am bound to say, a good deal of fault may be found with the large provision made for a very small resident population. As to physical training we thought something might have been done with a view of providing open spaces, especially in the east and south of London; but I think the population of London generally are well satisfied with the scheme. The scheme should be looked at as a whole, and, believing, as I do, that it is a symmetrical and thorough one, London Members are bound to give it their support.

*(5.55.) MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)

With regard to what precautions are taken in the schemes for preventing the character of the polytechnics being altered and used for classes for whom they are not intended, I should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) to the 43rd clause of the Central Scheme. The effect of that clause is that if at any time it should appear to the Commissioners that the character of the polytechnics is altering, and that the classes who are attending the institutions are not of the poorer classes, such as the Act contemplated, and such as the House desires to benefit, they shall call the attention of the central Governing Body to the matter. And if it appears on inquiry that due regard is not had to the interest of the poorer classes the annual payments in support of the polytechnics are to be withheld. In the same way another safeguard is obtained by permitting the Central Body to take initiative action and to call the attention of the Charity Commissioners to the fact that the character of the polytechnics is altering. In that case inquiry would be made, and if it appeared that due regard was not had to the interests of the poorer classes the annual subvention could be withheld. That, I think, forms a sufficient guarantee against the character of these institutions being altered. The hon. Member for Banbury (Sir B. Samuelson) said that the Charity Commissioners have been rushing into a sanction of polytechnics. I do not think that there has been any rushing at all on the part of the Commissioners. The fact is rather the other way. We have found so many applications from different parts of London, all pointing in the direction of polytechnics, that the Commissioners have really been rather forced into the adoption of this particular scheme for carrying out the Act. Let me also point out to the hon. Gentleman that there are six objects laid down in the Act which are to be held in view in the making of the schemes. The scheme of polytechnics meets directly four of these objects, and indirectly it meets one. The only alternative scheme that has ever been suggested is a scheme for open spaces in London, and that only meets one of the objects.

(6.0.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

I would not have risen but for the remarks of the hon. Baronet, who seemed rather to discredit the advances that technical education has made in the Metropolis, and to consider that what has been done at the Regent Street Polytechnic and at the People's Palace represents all that has been done in London. I know that, among other very successful technical schools now now being conducted in London, there is the Finsbury School of the City Guilds Institution in the parish of St. Luke's, and from the Principal I learn that the classes are well attended, indicating the desire which I know generally exists among the rising generation to seize the opportunity for obtaining technical instruction. I do not think there is any fear whatever that, if facilities are afforded, technical education will fall through. I think the people are most willing to avail themselves of every opportunity offered in this direction. With regard to the schemes, I have to endorse the remark of my Colleagues that whether they are perfect or not they have been well ventilated. Many of us have had to act on Joint Commitees in our districts, have addressed public meetings in the largest halls available, and the whole thing has been brought prominently before the public. It is just the popularity of the movement that has led to the offer of such large sums of money for the purposes of technical education, and especially was this the case in reference to that magnificent site promised by the Marquess of Northampton. I am second to none in appreciating the importance of technical education, but it would be a great mistake to allow that desire to lead us astray from the requirements of other institutions. I am convinced from experience that many lads who eventually get into the technical schools are at first decoyed by the recreative element attached, and I say even if you do not decoy them so far as the technical school, the recreative element is good in itself. I will not enter into the question how far the use of a swimming bath will conduce to making a lad a good citizen. If he will allow me, I should like to correct the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford in his remarks upon the City of London Library. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not think two libraries were wanted for such a small portion of the City of London—that is the Cripplegate scheme. I am glad to say the Commissioners have seen that something better can be done, and they have made one of the libraries available for a population of 55,000 outside the City much in want of a free library, and in a very poor district indeed. In regard to open spaces, I suppose we are all at one in the desire to have more of them in London, and I do not think we need doubt that something will be done in this direction before long. Other monies will be available, though we spend this on technical education—other monies which belong to the City of London, and will have to be looked after, and that speedily.

(6.5.) MR. GILLIAT (Clapham)

We are all indebted to the hon. Member for Aberdeen for his remarks, with many of which I heartily agree. I only, however, wish to say that the present is a very inopportune time for withdrawing our support to polytechnic institutions. Charitable funds are provided in proportion to the publicity and popularity of the movement, and if trade is sensitive I am sure that charitable contributions are more sensitive still. The subject has been, I think, most carefully ventilated in the House to-night, I hope, with very great profit. I entirely agree that most careful consideration should be given to polytechnic schemes; they should be modelled on the Regent Street form. I am most anxious that we should not do anything to divert those charitable funds now devoted to this object.

*(6.7.) MR. BRYCE

There are but a few remarks I desire to make in reply to what has been said in this discussion. In the first place the right hon. Gentleman did not reply to the most serious objection to the present scheme, namely, the comparatively small sum of money allowed to the now Governing Body. Even assuming that they would have £3,500 or £4,000, and assuming that that sum is doubled, giving, at the very outside, £8,000, that is n very small sum out of the immense fund of £118,000 to be left to the future new Governing Body for London. Several speakers have remarked upon the delay that might be caused by the appointment of a Committee, but nothing could be further from my mind than to advocate any step on the part of the Government which might keep the schemes floating for more than a few months at the outside. My suggestion is that a Committee might investigate the few points on which complaint is made in the course of four or five sittings. The reason why the Bill took so long in passing in the years 1881, 1882, and 1883 was that it was persistently blocked by hon. Members on the other side, and especially by the representatives of the City of London. But for their hostility, we might have carried ft in one sitting through Second Reading, and in live or six sittings through the Committee. I believe that all the points I have now adverted to might be disposed of in, say, four sittings by a Committee upstairs. If the right hon. Gentleman does not see his way to adopt this course, I do not desire to press it. I am not dissatisfied with the discussion we have had.

(6.10.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

In a discussion which arises on a Vote of this kind reference is unavoidable to the action of a large military force in Ireland which appears in these Civil Estimates under the head of the Royal Irish Constabulary.


If the hon. Member desires to discuss that item I may remind him that there are Members who desire to refer to previous items.

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