HC Deb 09 June 1891 vol 354 cc31-4

Resolution reported, That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of money to be provided by Parliament, of a Fee Grant in aid of the cost of Elementary Education in England and Wales, and to make further provision with regard to Education in Public Elementary Schools.

(4.20.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

I do not wish to offer any objection to this proceeding, but only to call the attention of the leader of the House to the fact that on Tuesday, a private Members' day, it is supposed that one Order, and one Order alone, the Irish Land Bill, shall be taken as the First Order. But it appears that last night, quite at the end of the proceedings, a Motion was agreed to that this Resolution should be reported to-day at the commencement of Public Business. I am quite aware that such a practice exists, and has been used frequently, but not exclusively, in the cases of financial Bills like the Consolidated Fund or Appropriation Bill, usually in their last stages, when it is desired to forward them to the House of Lords. What I desire to call attention to is, not that such a proceeding ought not to be taken, but that it ought not to be taken without notice to the House, because when, late at night, such a Resolution is put from the Chair, Members generally do not observe that it is an unusual proceeding. Such a course ought not to be taken without some definite explanation by the leader of the House. I only make this protest against Resolutions of this kind being "snapped" at the end of the proceedings without the House knowing what has been done.

* (4.25.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that if there was any desire to "snap" a Motion of this kind, it would be exceedingly improper. But it will be in the recollection of the House that in the course of the afternoon I was asked when the Bill would be issued, and I said I trusted that the Resolution would be reported to-day, and that the Bill would be issued immediately after. I find by inquiry at the Table that it would be impossible to put this Resolution except by order of the House. The Notices of Motion and other Orders of the Day have precedence after the Land Purchase Bill, and, therefore, I should have been quite unable to keep my promise to report the Resolution and issue the Bill at once unless I took this course. The Motion is really so much a matter of course and so much for the convenience of the House, that I have not the slightest doubt that the House will unanimously agree to it. I will, however, give the assurance which the right hon. Gentleman desires.

*(4.28.) MR. H. T. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)

I took no part in the discussion yesterday, but I wish now to say a few words of protest against this Resolution, although, of course, I am aware that it will be an unavailing protest. I desire, as a Conservative, to express my entire concurrence with the views so ably expressed by some hon. Members on this side of the House—the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple) and the hon. Members for Salford (Mr. Howorth) and North Islington (Mr. Bartley), and I consider the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. Bartley) to have been the most honest, straightforward, and convincing speech I ever heard. I dislike free education. I believe that it is an advance towards Socialism, and that it is tampering with dangerous doctrines which are not in accordance with the Conservative principles we profess. I am very much afraid that similar dangerous measures are more likely to emanate from the Front Bench on this than on the other side of the House. The Government are about to inaugurate questions which will give rise to strife and contention in every quarter of the country. The question of local control is one of these. When, after due pressure, under the auspices of some eminent Radical sitting on the Tory Benches, we shall have conceded local control, and introduced into every parish of the country, by the proposed Bill for District Councils, confusion and discord, it may be palatable to hon. Members opposite, but it cannot be otherwise than distasteful to Conservative Members. I feel it my duty to make this protest against the introduction of such measures from the Conservative side. I have been told, because education has been made compulsory that we must proceed to free education. For my part, 1, as a free-born Englishman, detest compulsion. One word more and I have done. I cannot help thinking that when it is understood this measure will not be received with that amount of satisfaction which the Government may perhaps suppose. Because this allocation of £2,000,000 is not the disposal of an accidental surplus, but a permanent addi- tion to the taxation of the people, I have made my protest and consider that I have done my duty.

Resolution agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Courtney, Sir William Hart Dyke, Mr. William Henry Smith, and Lord George Hamilton.

Bill presented, and read first time. [Bill 355.]