HC Deb 22 June 1891 vol 354 cc1099-157

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir W. Hart Dyke.)

(6.35.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)

It is a peculiarity of this Bill that both sides of the House seem to compete in eagerness to get it passed. But there appears to be great confusion of ideas as to what is intended by the Bill, and what will be the effect of it if it is passed in its present form. In fact, there has been so much misunderstanding about it that it has been confounded with another Bill. In some papers it has been stated that certain Radical Members have put on the Paper a Notice of Motion that the Bill be read a second time six months hence. Nothing could be further from the intention of hon. Members on this side of the House. There is no doubt as to what we desire; we are all anxious that the principle of free education shall be recognised. It is an odd circumstance, however, that this Bill has no distinctive name. It seems as if there has been a difficulty in the Ministerial ranks in giving a name to it. The truth is that the Bill is not the legitimate offspring of Toryism at all. In this respect it is like an illegitimate child, and so, not knowing exactly what to call it, the Government have given it the general name of an Elementary Education Bill. A significant letter on the question appears in the Times this morning from a gentleman of considerable eminence in the educational world—the Rev. Mr. Diggle, Chairman of the London School Board. Mr. Diggle tells us that the primary principle of the Bill is not the rough-and-ready distribution of a few millions of pounds amongst various schools, but the concession to all parents of the right to demand free education for their children at the cost of the community. I am very pleased, indeed, to accept that definition of the primary principle of the Bill, and I earnestly hope that the view of a gentleman of such large educational experience may prove to be right. But the Bill is a double-barrelled measure after all; one object of it is to diminish school fees, and the other is to stop the advance of School Boards. As to the diminution of school fees, I cannot help thinking that my own side of the House is more anxious to secure that object than the other side; but as to the second purpose—the stopping the advance of School Boards—it is based entirely on a misconception of the work done and the blessings conferred on the population by the School Boards, and will prove to be utterly impracticable. I must say that the right hon. Baronet the Vice President in his speech was thoroughly candid in explaining the process of his conversion on this question. No one, I am sure, would wish to taunt him with his change of opinion; but when I observed the stolid patience with which his account of his conversion was listened to by hon. Members who sit behind the Treasury Bench, and who, in 1886, denounced free education in nearly all their election addresses and speeches, I think I had good cause for wonder. To bear in mind what they said in 1886 one would have thought they would have adhered to the principles they then advocated as closely as they adhere to their skins. But the Tory Party have had so many changes of skin lately that they have become almost like eels, which are said to be used to the operation of skinning. At any rate, while the right hon. Baronet was speaking they tried to appear as if they liked the change of front on the part of the Government. But there are different kinds of conversion; the conversion of principle and the conversion of policy. When a great statesman—as, for instance, in the case of one of England's greatest statesmen, the illustrious Sir Robert Peel—is converted to a political truth which he has previously denied, he not only courageously accepts it in all its consequences, but is grateful to those who have been the means of converting him. It is well remembered how Sir R. Peel generously acknowledged his obligation to Mr. Cobden. But I notice no desire on the part of the Vice President and hon. Members opposite either to acknowledge the labours of those who contributed to their conversion to free education or to accept the principle in all its consequences. I have heard no reference whatever to a volume by an hon. Member on this Bench, entitled The Struggle for National Education. I have heard no acknowledgment of the services by the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Sheffield and Newcastle, which generosity should have demanded from the right hon. Baronet. The fact is that hon. and right hon. Members opposite want to limit the principle, to grudgingly shut it up in the narrowest limits possible. In 1871, and for some years onwards, I was a colleague of the First Lord of the Treasury on the London School Board, and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not now present, because I could have reminded him of the struggles that then took place on that Board on the question of foes, and of the resolutions that were moved by him for the purpose of safeguarding and guaranteeing the sacred institution of school fees. I could have reminded him how I invariably spoke and voted against his resolutions. I would have asked, Is he ready now to acknowledge that the arguments I then put forward have at last begun to bear fruit? But the beginning of this controversy goes much further back than the institution of the London School Board. In 1807 the then Member for Bedford, grandfather of the present Member, brought in a Bill to ameliorate the condition of the poor. It consisted of four parts, and one portion dealt with the subject of national education. Every one who reads the speech then delivered must derive great benefit and information from it. The speaker was careful to show that he had not the slightest idea of diminishing the influence of religion, and that he was most anxious to regard the rightful privileges of the Established Church. The House of Commons passed it, but in the House of Lords it was thrown out, mainly owing to the opposition of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who denounced it because it left little or no control, he said, over education to the clergyman in his parish, and would go to subvert the first principle of education, which was, he maintained, that education should be "under the control and auspices of the Establishment." Another noble Lord, a representative of whose family holds office in the present Government as Secretary for War—Earl Stanhope— protested immediately the Archbishop sat down against what he called the abominable principle that no part of the population of the country should receive education unless it was given in the interests of the Established Church. This illustrates the indubitable fact that from the beginning of the century there have been two parties in regard to national education—one which desires to subordinate education to ecclesiastical control, and the other party which would subordinate everything to the common good of the nation, namely, education. They put education first, and ecclesiasticism and sectarianism after it. It has been insinuated that Nonconformists want to spread their denominationalist beliefs at the expense of the National purse. I hold that they have in the past been remiss in not seeking to limit national education entirely to secular subjects. They have not, in fact, had the courage to do that in the past, but I do not think they can be fairly charged with seeking to promulgate their beliefs at the public expense; they have only sought to have such lessons taught as are suitable to the age of the child, and not those which are peculiar to their own sect. The right hon. Baronet, in his speech the other night, referred to the educational work done in past days by denominationalism. But may I point out that the British and Foreign School Society was founded before the National Society for teaching children in the principles of the Church of England; that the British and Foreign School Society was from the beginning purely sectarian, and that the success of Joseph Lankester almost frightened the prelacy and the parochial clergy, who made representations in consequence at Court, so that there is little wonder that the National Society eventually, like the cuckoo, edged the other fledgling out of the nest. Although the friends of purely national education have hitherto been in a minority, they are coming to the front now, and the Nonconformists, without any desire to push their own sects by means of the schools, are more and more favourable to education in the national schools being limited to secular subjects. There are two points in this measure to which we strenuously object. First, we object to the retention of fees in any form, or in any class, or with any limit of age in elementary schools; and, secondly, we object to the exclusion of local and representative control over the administration of public money. It appears that fees are to be retained for infants below five years of age and for children, above 14 years. I very much regret it. Unfortunately, there are at present but few children who remain at school after 14 years of age, and this proposal of the Government to make no allowance in respect of pupils over that age will further discourage their attendance. Still more do I regret the exclusion of children under five years from the scope of the grant. The Vice President justified this exclusion on the ground that children under five years learn very little. But much may be done, and is done, in training the faculties and cultivating good habits in such infants, who derive immense benefit from attendance at the infant schools. The years between three and five are as fruitful as any others, if not more fruitful, in the evolution of character and the formation of habits. Those are the years in which the child's mind is most plastic; yet the right hon. Gentleman would risk the exclusion from our elementary schools of 120,000 children of that age. The School Board for Leicester has 15,313 children on its books; of these 5,161 are infants and 1,484 are between the ages of three years and five years. In the denominational schools there are probably 992 more infants of that age, so that in Leicester alone 2,476 children will be affected by this provision. These figures indicate what a large number of infants throughout the country this provision in the Bill will affect. I greatly fear that the effect of this exclusion of children under five years from the benefits of the measure will lead to a diminution of such children attending school, and that the statement of the Vice President that they learn little or nothing will induce parents to keep them at home, instead of sending them to infant schools, from which I firmly believe they derive very great benefits. Hon. Members who can afford to employ governesses and to furnish their nurseries with the requirements for the Kindergarten system of instruction should pause before they wrong these little ones by driving them from the school into the streets. The right hon. Baronet justified himself by saying that the law did not compel parents at present to send these little ones to school, and that the compulsory period was from 5 to 13. But the system of education which we now support and advocate is not based on this or that age. It is in the interests of the nation that our schools have been built and are maintained. True, we have felt it would be unreasonable by law to compel mere babies to attend school; but if national education is to be what it ought to be, it is desirable that they should attend, and the necessity of such attendance has been recognised by the enormous investment of public money in the erection of infant schools. Yet, under the operation of this Bill, half the space provided at such great cost may be left vacant. It seems to me the policy is mean and short-sighted. Compare this with the very different system followed in Switzerland and in Germany. I confess that I feel ashamed that my own country should be so far behind these nations in this matter. There is another point to consider in the application of this principle of free education—the amount of public control over the administration of the public funds. Hon. Gentlemen say of the voluntary system that it is largely supported by subscriptions. Yes, there are these subscriptions, but they are diminishing as State aid is given; and while in 1876 the proportion was 9s. 6d. per child, it was in 1890 only 7s., and that proportion is continually decreasing. In 1876, when that Conservative Educational Act was introduced, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale objected to some of its provisions, especially to the raising the proportion of contributions to the grants made by the State. "If this is carried out," he said, "they may be denominational schools, but they will be voluntary schools no longer." The same thing was said by Bishop Temple before the Royal Commission, that it is essential to the healthy management of the schools if they are to be voluntarily managed that a considerable portion of the expenses should be raised by those in favour of the particular denominational school, but this contribution is, I say, a I vanishing quantity. I know it is said and thought by hon. Gentlemen opposite that we speak in this way out of animosity to the Church of England. We have no quarrel with the Church as a Religious Institution; we desire its prosperity in its good work; but we desire popular control in denominational schools receiving State aid, because we have had experience of such control since 1870, and we find that upon the whole Board schools are 25 per cent. better than denominational schools—and this we attribute to popular management—better in the character of the school buildings and appliances, better in the certificates of teachers, in the average results attained, in the higher curriculum carried out. Take the figures from the last Report of the Education Department. In the Church of England schools the attendance under Standards V. and VII. was 212,406, and in Board schools 199,431. In the Church schools the examinations in special subjects were in the proportion of 8.9 per cent., but in Board schools 24.2 per cent. Then look at the passes for the 4s. grant: in Church schools 16,663 or 88.4 per cent. of those examined, and in Board schools 43,654 or 90 per cent. of those examined. The Church school managers are supposed to have an eye to supplying the main wants of the working classes, yet their percentage of passes in cookery was only 4.7 as compared to 29 per cent. in Board schools. I might go on quoting figures in support of my statement, but in truth the superiority of the Board school system is notorious. It is an entire misapprehension to suppose that we want to do anything against religions teaching; it is easy to settle that question in a reasonable way. No one wants to destroy the religious teaching in these schools; if they pass under a Board of Public Management, let the religious teaching be given by the clergy of the church, whose function it is supposed to be to provide religious instruction for the people. You talk about Board schools being irreligious, why, how many secular School Boards are there? I think about 59, and 50 of them are in Wales. Is Wales a Godless part of the country? Are the Welsh a nation of infidels? No, it cannot be said that the Welsh are careless of Divine worship and neglect religious observances. Where School Boards exclude theological instruction it does not follow that they are opposed to religion. We are not in the least degree. The hon. Baronet says if we allow Board schools to have their way we shall all be reduced to one dead level. But all levels are not dead, and a higher table land offers many advantages. I would level up to Board schools, and I do not think you can show it is a dead level at all. It was a strange argument from the Vice President in relation to this religious difficulty when he said that free education in America had led to the multiplication of purely voluntary schools. One reason for that is that the religious difficulty still exists in America; one section of the Christian Church will not have their children taught in schools which are purely secular, so they provide schools for themselves. Then it is said the social difficulties in the way of the bringing of different classes together will prevent the working of a universal system of Board schools. Of course, you will not get over this difficulty all at once, but by tact and intelligence you will remove prejudices in this matter, and this has been done, and is being done, by the great Board schools in the country, and with the best possible results. The neglected, ragged children are gradually improved, while, if left to themselves, they remain ragged and neglected to the end. The opponents of the Board system find comfort in the reflection that the expense of the system will be so great that it will never be universally adopted; but rates and taxes are not the only source of revenue. There are huge endowments left from past times, and many of us think they are very improperly used, and might be better applied to purposes of popular education. In spite of what the clergy are so fond of describing as the pest of Board schools, I think if it can be shown to the agricultural labourers that free education, under popular management, can be provided without adding another 1d. to the rates, if only the funds available are devoted to this national purpose, I think there would be appreciation of the prospect of free schools under popular control. You think you have a good election cry, but here is yet a better cry, and the time is not far off when it will be raised. The effect of the present proposal must be this: that, when once a free school is established in one district, surrounding districts will insist on having like advantages, and I look to the fact that Englishmen will not allow public funds to be spent entirely without public control, or locally without local control, and I think I may say, as did Cromwell at Dunbar, "The Lord hath delivered them into our hands." Since the Bill has been printed there has been much expression of opinion, and it has been shown to me that, according to the Forms of the House, were I to move the Amendment standing in my name I should be forcing myself and others to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, which none of us want to do, and therefore, because of this, and only because of the Forms of the House, I abstain from moving the Amendment.

*(7.15.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

The speech we have just heard shows the direction in which things are going. The hon. Gentleman talks about our being delivered into his hands; and when he speaks, as he has spoken, about Church property, I think some of my hon. Friends behind me may well doubt if the attitude they have taken is altogether a wise one. I regret very much that it has fallen to me to move an Amendment to this Motion; but as the giants on the Front Bench have deserted the position they occupied a few years ago, one of the humble pygmies below the Gangway will do his best to maintain the position then taken up, and which I still believe to be right and best for the welfare of the country. I intend to move, as an Amendment— That this House is prepared to amend the present system by which remission of school fees is obtained through the Poor Law Guardians by parents who cannot afford to pay the fees, but declines to accept a measure which, while it throws on the general taxation of the country the whole cost of elementary education of children whose parents can afford to pay a part of the cost, and imposes a large additional burden on the country, does not secure any increased educational efficiency, and is a source of danger to the continuance of voluntary and denominational schools under which the majority of the children of this country are now educated. If I find a Teller, of all the scores, and even hundreds of Members behind me who took this view a few months ago, and if the Forms of the House will allow, I shall certainly divide. The reasons which I gave for objecting to the measure on a former occa- sion are that it is not likely to conduce to the improvement of education or to regularity of attendance at school, and I cited a number of authorities in support of that view. Those remarks were received by the Member for West Birmingham as old-fashioned, and no doubt the new authorities of the Birmingham school think differently. The Member for West Birmingham has a preponderating influence with the Government, while the opinion of those who are their staunch supporters are not of great weight. People talk about free education as a new matter. It was my lot 20 years ago to write a somewhat large book on the history of elementary schools, and so I became acquainted with the facts in their history. Practically, all the systems of education in this country began by being free. The old grammar schools were practically all free. Some of the old deeds of foundation go into language very quaint and precise to provide that fees should not be charged in any form. Then, coming to more recent times, the national school system was started upon the basis of free schools; there were a few exceptions, where there was a fee of 1s. a quarter, but the great bulk of the national schools, as started by Dr. Bell, were free schools. In 1828, however—and this is the instructive point on the present controversy, Dr. Bell, founder of these schools, urged that, in consequence of the laxity of attendance and the falling off in the number of students, fees should be charged, and the next year the National Society actually recommended in its Report that weekly fees should be charged to induce parents to send their children with greater regularity. In 1834, in the Report on charitable endowments, which went very largely into this subject, the importance of charging fees to secure regularity of attendance was dwelt upon. With regard to the British schools, the hon. Member is very much in error in saying that Dr. Lancaster did not receive the support of great people. George III. visited the schools, and took a great interest in them. He is reported to have said, "I would to God every one of my people had such an education." It is not correct to say that the national schools had all the patronage of the Church and the British schools had none.


If the hon. Member will allow me to explain, what I said was that in after years it was with drawn from the Lancastrian schools, and given to the national schools.


I do not agree with the hon. Member in that. In the early history of the British and Foreign School Society, a great number of Church of England people were on the Board of Management, and largely assisted in the management for a long time. A considerable proportion of the first British schools did charge a small fee, but this was soon given up, and the greater number, early in their career, were free schools. But, again, there is the remarkable fact that in 181G the Report stated that the Committee had with pleasure remarked that in several places the plan of receiving a small weekly payment from parents had been successfully adopted, and schools were cited in the Report as Sheffield, &c., showing that the attendance had thereby increased and the discipline improved. A weekly fee was charged, almost universally, both in the National and British schools by 1830, and it was found that the attendance became more regular and the progress of the children greater. The case with the Wesleyan schools was very much the same. In 1854 the Committee directed that fees should be charged for some purposes. The Congregational schools show a similar experience; and, at a meeting in Sheffield in 1849, the Report stated that one point of importance was the desirability of making education more a matter of self-support, and fees were imposed very largely. These four great movements, in spite of some rather sneering remarks, were the pioneers of education in this country. It is a very remarkable thing that the history of this movement shows that free schools were given up in order that fees might be charged in those days when it was simply a question of the education of the country, and not a matter of gaining votes. Are we to throw this experience away for the sake of a Party cry, especially for a Party cry which I believe will be a bad one for the particular Party in which I am interested? My views of relieving parents of all foes for the education of their children were considered old-fashioned when, on a former occasion, I expressed them upon the social aspect of the question, the reduction of the parental authority and responsibility, but those views are derived from personal knowledge of the people among whom I have lived and worked for many years, and I say emphatically that maintaining and strengthening rather than diminishing parental responsibility is of great value, and that the social mischief of this measure would be very far-reaching. Education is an enormous benefit, but self-reliance is a greater benefit still, and although education may be silver, self-reliance is golden. There is no true system of education unless it teaches people to be self-reliant and self-dependent. The present system of charging fees is a fair one. Parents who can afford to pay pay one quarter of the cost, and parents who are too poor to pay have their children taught for nothing. This surely is more than fair, it is liberal and generous. The method by which relief is now given to poor parents may be mended, but that is no reason why the whole of the present system should be swept away. The cost of this proposal will be £2,000,000, and the ultimate cost, when voluntary schools are destroyed, will become an enormous burden on the community. In my judgment, nothing is more important to the social condition of the people than that their wages should not be reduced by an extra amount of taxation. The people are, as a whole, better off than they were in 1870, viewed either from the standpoint of wages, accumulations in the savings banks, or reduction of pauperism. Enormous strides have been made in the improvement of the condition of the poorer classes. I also say that the increased taxation and the increased burden which will result from the measure will make the education far from free. It will throw on the thrifty and hard-working part of the community the burdens of the thriftless and careless, and they will have thrown upon them, in addition to the burden of paying taxes for the education of their own children, an additional burden of taxation in respect of the children of other persons. In this way that large portion of the community at the bottom of the middle class will be enormously affected. Well, these arguments I used, and dwelt on at some length, in the House on the last occasion the Bill was before us, but no one attempted to answer them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham did not condescend to do so. No one has ventured to say that they are not correct—most persons, even political opponents, agree there is much force in them—and yet, for all that, we are to pass this measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council has not attempted to reply to them. He is certainly one of the parents of the Bill. We heard a very remarkable expression from the hon. Member opposite about the measure being an illegitimate child. I was a little surprised to hear that remark made, for it seems to me a puzzling thing to make out who are the parents of the Bill. I think we may fairly say that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council is the mother; but who is the father? I think we must go to the other side for the father, after the knowledge that a certain right hon. Gentleman showed of the scheme before anybody had seen it. This measure will affect the voluntary and religious schools. I assorted, on a previous occasion, and I assert again, that it will destroy the voluntary and religious schools, and if I wanted an argument for this I should go to the speeches of hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. S. Buxton) delighted in the introduction of this Bill, and chuckled at the thought that it would lead to universal School Boards.


Hear, hear!


The hon. Member cheers that. He and hon. Members behind him know very well that the system of this Bill means the establishment of universal School Boards, and if we are to have universal School Boards we cannot expect to continue to have voluntary schools at the same time, at any rate in anything like their present numbers and strength. As far as I understand the measure, it divides schools practically into three classes. First, there are the schools which pay 10s. a year in fees, which means, roughly, 3d. a week. The schools with a 3d. fee will practically remain financially as they are, except that the whole cost (for voluntary subscriptions are likely seriously to decrease) will be paid by the State; and can the most sanguine hon. Member suppose that the system will last in which the whole cost of the school is to be paid out of Imperial Funds, and the management is to be left in the hands of managers as at present? [Cheers.] Hon. Members opposite cheer that remark, and, as one who takes a deep interest in the maintenance of these voluntary schools, I say it is impossible that the proposed state of things can last. Next, there are the schools where the fees are less than 3d. Those schools will receive more than they lose in fees; and can it be conceived that such a system will last—nay, will the proposal live—long enough even to get through the Committee stage of this Bill? I say it is impossible to imagine that we are going under this Bill to hand over to all these schools a sum larger than the fees they are losing without requiring something for it. I do not say this as a Party man, but as an educationalist, and one who takes a common sense view of the matter. The third class of schools are those in which the fees are higher than 3d. They are to be allowed to continue to charge a fee amounting to the difference between 3d. and the fee they actually charge; and is it conceivable that the House will go on year after year voting millions of money for education, in order that the popular idea of free education may be carried out, and allow those schools to go on charging this fee and getting the fee grant as well for any length of time? I do not believe this can possibly last. But if we do get rid of these provisions the House will be sweeping away the safeguards which have been so much spoken of, with the result that the safeguards which the clergy believe to be bonâ fide safeguards for the voluntary and religious schools will be abolished, possibly some of them, even before the Bill is through Committee. The consequence of this Bill must be to give popular representation to all intents and purposes. The Tory Party occupied a position which, perhaps, was not logical before, but having now receded from it we find that the enemy have occupied it; and the consequence of this Bill will be that voluntary schools must receive some kind of representative control. Why is the Member for Northampton so keen for this measure? Why did he ask the Government the other day to keep the Bill going de die in diem? We never knew the hon. Member for Northampton as a keen educationalist. I do not believe that in his wildest moments he would claim to be an educational authority save, perhaps, in educating us in truth. Why is the right hon. Member for Derby so keen for it? He is not known as an educationist; but these Members are anxious to have this measure because they know that this is an attack on the voluntary schools which they will not survive, and through those schools an attack on the Established Church. They know perfectly well that we are walking into their trap, and most of us feel that we are doing so. I look upon popular control as the natural consequence of this measure. It seems to me that I hear a sort of murmur of the future coming softly in the distance. I believe that before many months are over we shall see the President of the Local Government Board, who has a bantling of his own, come down and tell us that it is his opinion no better authority can be found to look after voluntary and religious schools than the County Council. And when I oppose that—as I shall do—I suppose I shall be looked on with the disfavour which has been accorded me lately on account of my present attitude in objecting to free education. As to the political advantage which the Tory Party hope to gain from this measure, I would point out that the offer of free education for children from 5 to 14 years old has already been capped. The hon. Member for Poplar has said that it is monstrous to require fees from infants under five years. Hon. Members opposite will thus go about the country and, instead of praising us for giving free education, will denounce the Tory Party because it will not give free education to babes in arms, making free crèches of the schools. We shall then have pathetic appeals not to insist on these children being taught secular subjects without proper natural aliment, and we shall then have a cry raised for free rations, free feeding bottles, and free everything of the kind. We shall lose the credit of what is now proposed, and shall be denounced all over the country as "the Tory Party who refuse free education," and we shall have the labourers of the country, encouraged through their wives perhaps, to rise up against us because we will not allow their babes and sucklings to receive free education. But why is this question being so discussed? The truth is that both sides of the House think that they are getting a political advantage out of it. This is not a question as to which Members of the Tory Party should follow their leaders like sheep, or should vote as they are told. They ought to have a higher and nobler aim; and they ought to take a high standpoint on those social questions. The only reason for which I oppose the Bill is that the aim it has in view is not a high aim. The real goal to be striven after ought to be so to order affairs, and so to legislate, that the mass of the community may earn sufficient to pay for their wants, and for all the duties which they have taken upon themselves. An hon. Member said to me the other day, "This Bill will be an enormous boon to the agricultural labourer, because he only earns 13s. a week." Parliament is, therefore, to bribe the agricultural labourer with free education, instead of so legislating as to make his earnings sufficient to pay for his children's education? The real purpose of education is—first, in the interest of religion; and, second, to the making of good citizens. I believe that the present Bill will do harm to religion, because it damages the denominational schools; and it will further be injurious from a secular point of view, by making men less accustomed to rely on their own efforts. To my mind, relying on one's own efforts is the most important of all secular things that we can possibly teach our children. I say that it is the teaching of self-reliance that has made this country great, more than all the grammar and pedagogy in the world. To my mind, this measure reduces the tendency in this direction, and for that reason I strongly object to it. I have addressed many meetings of working men where I knew that any reference to State-aid would have provoked a cheer; but I have always told my audience to learn to rely on themselves, and the advice has, it is true at times, been received in silence. But I know that hundreds of these men have taken my advice, and some of them have come to me years afterwards and told me that a few simple acts of self-denial and self-reliance, which I urged on them then and which they adopted and made a habit of, have been the making of them. That ought to be the aim of the Government, and the Bill retards such an aim. With the idea of catching a momentary popularity, the Government are doing a great injury to the national prosperity by encouraging people recklessly and carelessly to undertake responsibilities, knowing that other people will provide for them. Like a hook on the line, the Bill is baited with the attractive fly gaudy with the word "free" conspicuously painted on it. This fly is a popular one now I know; but its freedom is a delusion, for the thrifty poor will have to pay not only for themselves but for their thriftless neighbours, and also because it really means the abolition of the denominational schools which alone supply that religious teaching which the great bulk of the people really earnestly desire. I am told that my attitude on this Bill will lose me votes; but even were I to lose my seat, would it be a reason for voting for something which in my heart I believe cannot promote the people's welfare? Members of Parliament seldom lost votes by voting straight. The constituencies do not like the chameleon politician or a man who merely votes as he is told, and then tries afterwards to explain away his vote. When the results of this measure are known, however, and the School Board rate in London has risen 2s., as it will do in five years, when the denominational schools have been killed, and the extra burden has been thrown on the people; and when the natural consequences of the present Bill have followed—free meals, free clothes, and free everything—then politicians will begin to think that the time has come for some change. Parliament is repeating the action which existed previous to 1832 in connection with the old Poor Law. Then additional relief was continually given, until at last the burden became too great to be borne any longer, and the system was changed to the enormous benefit of the masses of the people. I am sure that none of my political opponents will say that I oppose this measure because I oppose education. Few men have worked harder—and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield will corroborate me in this—than I have for the promotion of popular education. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Hear, hear!] The Government cannot say that I have not been one of their regular and loyal supporters. I simply oppose the Bill because it will do immense mischief; and I warn my hon. Friends that they make a great mistake in supposing that the measure will help them at the next election. They are offending many people, and they are not gaining a single vote. The Government are, like the first parents of mankind, tasting if they are not eating of the forbidden fruit, of social bribery. They have been assisted, would it be too much to say they have been tempted to it by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The result of the transgression in the case of Adam and Eve was that they were turned out of the garden of Eden. If it is not too much to compare the joys of Eden with the fruits of office, I fear that the same punishment may await the Government. In almost the words of the last stanza of Paradise Lost, the result after the next General Election may be that "they"—that is, the Government and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—"hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, from Eden will take their solitary way."

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "this House is prepared to amend the present system by which remission of school fees is obtained through the Poor Law Guardians by parents who cannot afford to pay the fees, but declines to accept a measure which, while it throws on the general taxation of the Country the whole cost of elementary education of children whose parents can afford to pay a part of the cost, and imposes a large additional burden on the Country, does not secure any increased educational efficiency, and is a source of danger to the continuance of voluntary and denominational schools under which the majority of the children of the Country are now educated,"—(Mr. Bartley,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words-proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

*(7.50.) MR. C. E. BARING YOUNG (Christchurch)

In seconding the Amendment, I wish to say that I feel very strongly on this subject. I have always been opposed to free education, and I do not see why I should change my opinions because I am told that free education is inevitable. It is not denied that the Bill will largely increase the cost of education, and it is notorious that Board schools are much more costly in their management than voluntary schools. It is said that there are safeguards for the interests of the voluntary schools; but those who trust to these safeguards are relying upon a very rotten plank. Those schools whose fees are over 10s. are not likely to survive very long. Those schools where the fees are under 10s. may last a little longer, but will give way in time before the general demand for popular control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham deprecated popular control, but he suggested a form of popular representation. It seems to me that before long popular representation must lead to popular control. Whatever safeguards you may devise for denominational schools, the Party opposite, when they come into power, will remove them as easily as Samson broke the cords by which the Philistines sought to bind him. The Government, in introducing this measure, have signed the death warrant of the voluntary system. But my chief objection to the measure is that it is a step towards State Socialism. The artisan who earns £100 or £150 a year, and who is perfectly able and willing to pay for the education of his child, is now told, "Whether you like it or not you shall pay nothing directly for the education of your child, and you shall have nothing to say directly as to the education of yeur child." We are told that this measure is inevitable. I do not see, however, why it is inevitable, except for the reason that the Government consider it to be inevitable at this particular moment. It was not considered inevitable by a large number of Members on this side of the House a year or two ago, and it was not considered inevitable even by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian six years ago. And some time before the General Election of 1885, a distinguished statesman gave sound advice to a number of Conservative candidates with regard to endeavouring to outbid the Radicals in matters of reform. He said—"If the people want Radical wares they will go to the Radical shop to get them." But that statesman is now at the head of a Government which considers it expedient to hold out this bribe to the electors. The bribe has not been very successful hitherto, and I am certain it will ultimately fail of the object it is designed to achieve. The number of Members who are determined to resist this proposal form only a very small band, though I believe a large number of people outside the House are opposed to the Bill. For myself I can only utter my protest and say I shall certainly follow the Member for Islington into the Lobby if he proceeds to a Division. (8.5.)

*(8.40.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

We have had a remarkable speech from the hon. Member for North Islington, which, I am sure, Members on both sides of the House must have listened to with satisfaction, even if they dissented from some of the propositions contained in it. But he will not succeed in averting the acceptance of the principle of Free Education. We on this side of the House intend to give the heartiest support to the Bill of the Government, and I think the speech of the hon. Gentleman succeeded in demonstrating—and with greater force than usual—the strength of the position which he says—and, perhaps, rightly says—his Friends on the Treasury Bench have abandoned, but which he, as a stalwart, refuses to desert. The hon. Member has said that the results of this Bill will be such as hon. Members on this side of the House desire. I accept that statement, but with some qualification, for I hold that the Bill, as drawn by the Government, will postpone those ultimate results as to the arrival of which we on this side of the House have no doubt. But what I heartily and unreservedly agree with in the speech of the hon. Gentleman is that this Bill logically gives popular control, because it makes it impossible for those who have brought it in to refuse to grant that control. That is the position which induces me not to proceed with the Motion I have placed upon the Paper, for reasons somewhat similar to those on which the hon. Member for Leicester has abstained from moving his own Amendment. I wish at this stage to place upon record my regret, as a Member of the Radical Party, that the right hon. Gentlemen who usually sit on the Front Opposition Bench have not themselves placed on the Paper an Amendment to the Second Reading, which, while expressing approval and cordial support of the principle of the Bill, would assert without hesitation the principle which the Radical Party throughout the country attach to the carrying out of free education, namely, that wherever education is made free there shall be popular control. I hope that the abstinence of my right hon. Friends is not to be construed as a sign that they will lower their flag on this essential principle. I am one of those who heartily accept the Bill, and I will do my utmost to support its general principle; but I think it would be pusillanimous and inconsistent with the pledges which I and other hon. Members on this side of the House have repeatedly made in the past two years if we were to accept any proposal with regard to free education without doing our utmost to insure that it should be accompanied by popular control. We have, I think, some reason to complain of this Bill being introduced at so late a period of the Session. Last year, when my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham moved an Amendment to the Address, the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education apologised for not dealing that year with the question of Free Education for England and Wales, on the ground that the subject was one full of difficulty and complexity, and was not so simple a matter as the proposal then before the House with regard to Scotland. Yet, after the Government have had a year or more to make up their minds as to the details of a measure touching many interests of vast importance to the future welfare of the couutry, they ask us, who are equally interested, to undertake the consideration of the Bill in the last days of the Session, and to decide important issues within a week or a fortnight of the presentation of the proposals of the Government. But, at any rate, we on this side of the House rejoice at the introduction of the Bill. We consider it the greatest victory of Radical principles since the extension of the franchise five years ago. It cannot be claimed as a Conservative victory. I did not notice among hon. Members opposite any very eager desire to challenge the statements of the hon. Member for North Islington. And it is noticeable that in the Conservative Press a good deal of cold water is thrown on the Government proposals. A strong Conservative weekly the other day said— No more disreputable illustration of the degradation of English political life is possible than the adoption of free education by Lord Salisbury. It has been adopted in defiance of the known convictions of the vast majority of his supporters. Even those who approve of this ingenious scheme for dishing the Radicals do not venture to assert that honest conviction has anything to do with the course the Government has seen fit to follow. And a correspondent of this same paper (John Bull) also declares— It is far better that Mr. Gladstone should come back to Office than that the nation should condone Lord Salisbury's disreputable efforts to bribe the constituencies. I may also refer the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President to an article in this morning's Standard, if he desires a more official Conservative condemnation of his proposals. And the worst of this business for hon. Gentlemen opposite is that we Radicals are not dished. So far as I can judge from the course of recent bye-elections, Radicalism bids fair to become universally triumphant in the rural constituencies. Everyone who listened to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the other night must have felt that his conduct in this matter had been peculiarly honourable. I agree with a good deal of what he said about not raking up bygones; but I should like to emphasise one point with regard to the course which individual Members of this House have taken. If you look through the speeches and election addresses of 1885, you will find that the objections then raised to free education were not wholly on the ground of the possible injury to voluntary schools, but were very largely and very strongly on the grounds put forward by the hon. Member for North Islington. The President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for War both used language identical with that now used by the hon. Member for North Islington, and we all know what were the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I affirm is, that the proposal of free education was in that year rejected by the Conservative Party on its merits and not merely because of its possible effects on voluntary schools. As I have said, we on this side of the House accept the principle of the Bill. What we quarrel with is partly the limitations and partly the machinery by which the main object of the Bill is sought to be carried out. What we challenge is the motive which has led the Conservative Party to bring in the Bill. I recognise, what, I think, all hon. Members interested in educational questions must have recognised, the tone and spirit in which the right hon. Baronet dealt with this question the other night. All must have felt that he has heen really converted to this policy, not by a mere vulgar desire to catch votes, but because he has realised the loss sustained by the poor through the maintenance of the fee system, and because he has seen, from experience of departmental work, how enormously the carrying out of this principle of free education will contribute to the improved efficiency of education. I see in this Bill the very best spirit of the Education Department. But it is also apparent that that good spirit has been fettered, and to a certain extent warped and changed, by the unfortunate necessities of the situation in which the Conservative Party find themselves placed. The right hon. Baronet has dealt very frankly with the House on this question. He has acknowledged that he comes before it as an advocate of denominational schools. The hon. Member for Croydon told the House that the sole object of the Bill was to promote the welfare and ensure the permanent security of denominational schools. We know that the Prime Minister has used identical language. He said that the object of the Conservative Party was to place denominational schools on such a footing that it would be impossible for a hostile majority to displace them. We have still stronger confirmation of what the inspiring motive of this Bill is in the recent speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said he had not in any sense surrendered the social and economic arguments on which in past days he had condemned the proposal of free education, but his desire to promote the welfare of voluntary schools was so great that it had overcome his economic repugnance to the principle. Then we have the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. We know how he attacked Mr. Forster years ago for giving a new lease of life and more extended endowments to the voluntary schools. And even five years ago, at Bradford, at the National Liberal Federation, he said— To my mind the spectacle of so-called national schools turned into a private preserve by clerical managers, and used for exclusive purposes of politics or religion, is one which the law ought not to tolerate. Yet we have him now sheltering the voluntary schools behind a sort of fictitious Frankenstein of financial terrors, which grew at the rate of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 sterling every time he was trotted out. I cannot, looking at the past history of the question and at the anticipation of Mr. Forster, in 1870, that the Board School system would speedily become universal, agree with some of my hon. Friends who take a rose-coloured view of the present situation. I rather think the Bill will postpone the arrival of a universal Board School system for a considerable period. I wish to emphasise the fact that the authors of this Bill are pledged to protect and to increase the security of the position of voluntary schools. The other day, at a meeting of the National Society, Lord Sandford described this Bill as an honest and straightforward attempt to assist the voluntary system. I do not in the least quarrel with those adjectives, seeing that they give a pleasant sensation to hon. Members opposite. I only quote them as confirmatory of my opinion that the Bill has been conceived more in the interests of voluntary schools than merely with the shallow and narrow design of capturing the votes of the agricultural labourer. We have a right to say that your object is quite plain; that you have determined to do what you can with the machinery at your disposal to strengthen the position of what you know is one of the most potent instruments of Toryism in the country—namely, the voluntary school system. You wish to secure that it shall be dominant in the counties for the longest possible period, and, therefore, you have introduced this Bill. I am not attributing that motive, however, to the Tight hon. Baronet. I believe, with him, the chief consideration is educational. It is for you a dangerous experiment. Our duty is plain. You have adopted one-half of the Radical creed; we must take every opportunity in the course of the Debates, so long as we do not imperil the passage of the measure, to insist on the adoption of the other half which the hon. Member for North Islington pointed out was the logical and natural concomitant, popular control in all State-aided schools. If it is votes you want, my experience of rural constituencies leads me to think that you will get as many or more votes by giving such control and freeing the schools from sectarian denomination than by simply abolishing the fee. By this Bill it seems to me they are seeking to strengthen the financial position of the voluntary schools without any conditions, securing increased educational efficiency, and the removal of the just grievances of Nonconformists in those districts in which they constitute the large proportion of the school-going population; indeed, you are compelling them to pay more towards the support of a system, and schools which come under the 10s. limit will receive nearly £250,000 of the surplus revenue over and above the revenue which they have up to the present time received from their fees. Taking the rural schools, I find that in Northamptonshire there are 235 voluntary schools which are receiving from fees that are under 10s. a year a total of £7,660, and under the 10s. grant those schools will receive £11,008—a clear gain of £3,348, or 3s. for every scholar; and yet there is nothing in the Bill to require that this money shall be devoted to improving the instruction or to secure to the inhabitants of the towns and villages a corresponding voice in the disposal of the funds. Turning to high-feed schools in big towns, in Preston, according to the last Report, the average amount of fees is 15s. 3¼d., or about 4¾d. a week. The voluntary schools under this Bill will be able, in the first place, to charge 1¾d. fee, to have the same total income as before. Then, in the next place I understand the Department has power under Clause 3 to permit the fees, reduced by accept- ing the free grant, to be further raised, so long as they do not exceed 6d., and provided there are a sufficient number of free places.


That would happen in very exceptional cases. I admit the reasons for the clause require to be further explained.


I wish the right hon. Gentleman had been able to give us fuller information in regard to that clause, because it may possibly lead to a good deal of debate. At any rate, I do not think I am wrong in saying that the schools which charge high fees will be able to obtain not only the total income they receive now by a fee which represents the excess over the 10s., but that they will also be able, if the Department think there are sufficient free places, to raise the fee, and so make a profit. [Sir W. HART DYKE dissented.] Well, if that is not so, I am heartily glad. With regard to the schools which will receive a surplus over their existing fees, there is no doubt that the Government has practically yielded to the demand of some of the hon. Members behind them for a relaxation of the 17s. 6d. limit for the voluntary schools, because the fee grant will be counted as part of the local contribution of the schools, and will, therefore, be a set-off enabling them to obtain a proportionate amount over and above the 17s. 6d. limit. To sum up the matter, this Bill amounts to a carrying out of the recommendations of the majority of the Royal Commission on Education with regard to financial subventions to voluntary schools. So far as possible, the Government have carried out all the demands of the denominational party in the subvention to the schools, but they have abstained from carrying out what I think is the essential part of the recommendations both of the majority and of the minority of the Royal Commission, that is that public elementary education ought to be organised under some form of elective authority in order to secure the highest efficiency. I do not grudge the poorer voluntary schools additional funds. Nothing is more pitiable than the condition of some of the voluntary schools in some large towns, and anyone who knows country life must admit the miserable condition of, and starved teaching in, many of the rural schools. We ought all to welcome in the heartiest way anything that will tend to increase the efficiency of the schools in rural districts. But there is no guarantee under this Bill that you will obtain the best educational results in return for the money you will pay. The Government is taking the present course when they have before them the well-known results which accrued from the better treatment of voluntary schools under Lord Sandon's Act. While the proportion of subscriptions to the total income of voluntary schools in 1876 was 28.6 per cent., it sunk to 18.9 per cent. in 1889. That shows that a very large proportion of the advantages given to the voluntary schools under Lord Sandon's Act went to the relief of the subscribers. There is the other important consideration, that we have done nothing to relieve the legitimate grievances of the Nonconformists. It has been said that the fact that education is compulsory justifies Her Majesty's Government in adopting the policy of free education. I should like to know if compulsion is not a strong argument also on behalf of those who are compelled to send their children to proselytising schools? Does not that give them a strong claim to have the schools managed by popular bodies? No one expressed a stronger view on this point than the noble Lord, the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), during the discussions on Lord Sandon's Bill in 1876. The noble Lord protested against the application of compulsion to Nonconformist parents to send their children to Church schools, and he expressed in the strongest possible way the opinion that when Parliament declared that the education of the country was the business, not of individuals, but of the State itself, it became inevitable that sooner or later State education must be in the hands, not of individuals, but of representatives of the people. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer asked on the same occasion whether, if there was only a Unitarian school in a district, Parliament would compel children of the Church of England to go into it? He believed that in the long run popular opinion would declare against compulsory attendance of children at de- nominational schools, and the support of such schools by public money. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale how they justify the passing of a Bill like this without attempting to relieve the grievances they laid so much stress upon in 1876. At a conference of Primitive Methodists held the other day at Northampton, it was asked whether the Methodists of this country had not, when an increased sum of money was being voted to voluntary schools, the right to go into those schools and follow the course of their children's education. Let us turn to the point of view, of what I may call the Church party, in regard to this question. At the Peterborough Diocesan Conference, two year's ago, the Rev. William Bury, of Northamptonshire, speaking in support of a motion in favour of the abolition of school fees, said— The effect of free education would be that a new departure would have to he taken in the national system of education.…There must be a collapse of the voluntary system. That, in his opinion, was a desirable effect of free education. He would go even further, and say that he thought at the present time the voluntary system, which their Church was pledged to continue, was a great obstacle to educational progress.…The standard of secular education was kept at a lower level by the voluntary system, for Inspectors were obliged to apply a much lower standard to voluntary schools. Wherever the voluntary system had managed to exclude the Board schools in their large towns, education was starved.…The education of this country-would be advanced in no slight degree if the voluntary system were superseded by some such system as the Board.…They could not make churchmen in their national schools, and they had no right to do so in schools which were supported, as they were, by public money. That is the statement made by one of the best known educational authorities belonging to the Church of England, and I am glad to say that his view was supported by the then Dean of Peterborough in a most eloquent and forcible speech. He said— As to the relation of the Board and the denominational schools, he must confess he felt very strongly that the School Board system, whether they liked it or not, was the future system of the country. He added that— He was perfectly convinced that the Board Schools would swallow up all the others. The same point of view was eloquently supported by the great Prelate, whose loss all who knew him so much lament, and who expressed his own view in very strong terms that what they all wanted—and I am sure many Radicals on this side of the House want it quite as warmly if not more warmly than hon. Gentlemen opposite—was the real religious instruction and moral education of the children, and not so much the teaching of dogma. I could quote many other authorities, such as Dr. Perceval and Canon Fremantle, in support of the absolute necessity of introducing a national system of education, and of the opinion that as long as the religious and moral elevation of the children could be secured they would look at the absorption of the voluntary schools by the School Boards as a not undesirable result. What I object to in this Bill is the fact that it will ladle out a large sum of money to the voluntary school managers without securing efficiency in education; and without initiating that organisation of education which both sides of the Royal Commission wished to see carried out. The majority of the Royal Commission looked for a solution of the question in the amalgamation of the Board and denominational schools under District Councils; we desire to see that result attained under educational authorities elected ad hoc. There can be no doubt that the success which has attended the labours of such School Boards as those of London, Birmingham, and Manchester is due to the fact that they have had men upon them whom they could not have got upon Local Authorities elected to deal with roads and sewers, and subjects of that kind, and who would look on education as mere side-work to combine with their other duties. When we have arrived at a convergence of views that the best education can only be obtained by the organisation of the schools under an elected authority, and when the quarrel is only as to the conditions, I think we are within measurable distance of getting a truly national system of education, and I do contend that Her Majesty's Government, in introducing a Bill which gives an immense subvention to one branch of the school machinery of this country, under circumstances which amount to an encouragement of that branch to make war on the School Boards, and to carry out the law of its existence by monopolising as far as it possibly can the control of education in the rural districts and in the large towns also, are setting at defiance that which was best in the Report of the Royal Commission, and are neglecting to provide that organisation of education which can alone remove the grievances of many of the parents and secure the greatest efficiency of education.

*(9.23.) MR. HULSE (Salisbury)

At the risk of being regarded as a "lamb" by the hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Bartley) I rise to support the proposals of Her Majesty's Government, because in the city I represent the question of free education is one of great importance, and as its educational wants are entirely supplied by voluntary schools, with the full assent of the majority of the population,. I felt naturally anxious as to how those schools would be affected by this Bill, which I hope will pass its Second Reading without a Division. I think there are two points of view from which the proposals of the Bill should be discussed—namely, that of the educational needs of the population, and that of the influence it will have upon existing schools, their revenue, their efficiency, and their attendance. I am confident the Bill-will meet the educational wants of the working classes, and I do not share the gloomy views of those who think it will tend to shut up the voluntary schools belonging especially to the Wesleyan body and the higher-grade schools of the Church of England, which will not become absolutely free by their acceptance of the 10s. grant. After the Act of 1870 has been in working some 20 years, voluntary schools, instead of having been swept away, as was prophesied, are in a better and a more secure position than they ever occupied before. I am very glad indeed Her Majesty's Government have seen their way to give the grant to all schools under Government inspection, because it would have been very hard upon those schools which possess high educational attainments, and have become so popular in our large towns, if they had been deprived of their fair share in the advantages which are now offered, because their teaching is of a higher character and their fees of a higher grade. Prac- tically, of course, one recognises that this 10s. grant will make all those schools free where 3d. or less is charged per child; and I do not agree with those who say it will have an evil influence on those schools where parents are willing to pay from 4d. to 9d., because there is to be a reduction in the charge actually made. Parents who have hitherto of their own free will been willing to send their children to a school with a higher fee have done so for a reason, probably on account of the class of children they wish theirs to mix with, or a preference for a school of a particular character or denomination. I fully endorse the claims urged by Members of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as of our own, that the acceptance of the free grant will in no wise necessitate popular control. Popular control is a term capable of more than one construction. In the case of hon. Members opposite, who are so anxious to secure it, it means the depriving from the active management of schools those who have erected them by their generosity, and are sustaining them pecuniarily and by their personal care and attention. I venture to think that where the working classes themselves are ratepayers they are as keen and as anxious as the middle and upper classes to prevent additional taxation which falls directly upon their own shoulders, and I am confident that if the agricultural labourers were in the same position as are so many of the working classes in the towns, they would look with a very jealous and suspicious eye on the proposition that the Parish Council should tax every allotment and house in the village for the support of a competitive school and the establishment of universal Boards. Popular control may be an excellent thing as an election cry; but if the agricultural labourer once realises that his rent of 1s. or 1s. 6d. a week would be nearly doubled for the luxury of popular control and of an nil-sectarian school, I am sure he would prefer the voluntary system—a system which has achieved almost as good educational results at considerably less cost—as the House is well aware. It comes to this, therefore—the 10s. grant will make all village schools free, for I know of none in the counties with which I am associated where so much as 3d. is charged; and, of course, the Government will consider the similar case of those schools in the larger towns which the School Board, and the Church of England, and the Wesleyans have carefully nurtured and got together with the higher grade and with the higher fees. To a great extent these schools have been founded and they have all increased since the inauguration of School Boards, and hon. Members have repeated in their speeches that in France and in America so-called private adventure schools have increased since the system of enforced secular and free education in State-aided schools. You certainly will have a right selection wherever the population is sufficient to justify primary and secondary education. Popular control is not always wise; it is generally extravagant. As a cry in London, it led to the abandonment of an income of £500,000 per annum by the abolition of the coal dues, and the benefit has gone to the coal owners. Popular control means usually a heavy increase of local burdens. In regarding the greatest good of the greatest number, I have no hesitation in saying that this Bill will satisfy the needs of the working classes, who have felt the pinch of the school fee, and have witnessed the difficulties of the school managers and teachers who have had to collect it. The spirit of parental independence will be illustrated and fostered when a parent has the choice whether he will pay or not pay for the education of his child. But after all, ever since the Government made grants to Board and voluntary schools, based on results, every parent who has sent his child to either school has virtually been in receipt of State-aid. For my part, I am so firm a supporter of the voluntary system that I should hesitate to support the Government measure were I not satisfied that under it the interests of the voluntary schools will be duly and properly safeguarded. There are two points of detail which I think should be carefully considered—first, the basis of the grant being on average attendance; and, secondly, the necessity of great care and leniency being exercised in the first computation of fees. It has been pointed out with great force by those who are thoroughly acquainted with the working of schools and the peculiar causes which at times diminish the attendance, that it would and might be to the advantage of the school managers to close the schools at certain times—say, in the case of an epidemic of sickness or a fair—rather than lower too much the school attendance. This should be provided for in the Bill. I hope and I believe that we have now at the Education Department a chief and a staff who will treat with fairness and justice those who have raised and supported a system of national education by an expenditure of £34,500,000 during the present century, and that without half the excitement and clacque of those who pose as friends of education by putting, or attempting to put, their hands deeply into the ratepayers pockets. There is, however, one defect which must and ought to be remedied, and that is the abrogation of the 17s. 6d. limit, which presses unfairly on efficient voluntary schools. I have heard it described as a premium on indifference. It is simply a question of common sense and finance. Children educated in the voluntary schools cost the State about 18s. per head, whilst children taught in the Board schools cost from 40s. to 45s. in addition, from the local ratepayers, and I notice that, under the beneficent and economical administration of the London School Board we shall have the luxury of paying at the rate of 49s. per child. If we form universal Boards, popular control will cost millions of money per annum. If, on the other hand, we pass this Bill, as I believe the House will readily, we preserve the poorest, the most struggling, and the most deserving schools, and I do not believe we shall injure those higher-grade schools, which can be but 10 per cent. of the State-aided schools in the country. By all means, as it has been suggested, encourage parental responsibility and parental interest by giving to a certain number of parents, say two or three in each school, seats on the Board of Management by selection or co-option. This, I believe, will be offered and adopted without Parliamentary interference or enactment. For these reasons, I support the Second Reading of this Bill in the interests of the poor of the country districts and of the schools themselves, and, above all, in the interests of the over- taxed local ratepayer, upon whom, it is not difficult to foresee, are advancing fresh municipal burdens. I trust the Government will be firm in pushing this Bill through before everything else, without accepting Amendments hostile to its spirit; and if hon. Members opposite really welcome the Bill as a boon and an instalment, they can best show the truth of their earnestness by assisting the Ministry to pass the clauses of this short and useful measure without undue opposition, and certainly without the harassing and distressing Debates which characterised the discussion of the Tithe Act and Land Bill. Before sitting down, may I express a hope that Her Majesty's Government, in another Session, will seriously consider the wisdom and propriety of providing, in some form or other, a superannuation fund for those who have spent the greater part of their lives in one of the noblest, yet one of the most trying, of professions—the education of the young and the ignorant?

*(9.40.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

If we had not the pleasure of personally knowing the hon. Member who has just sat down, we should gather from the speech to which we have just listened that he represented the centre of educational privilege. His objection to popular control goes to the extent of withholding it from the Municipal Government of the greatest city in the world, for I could not otherwise interpret his reference to the London Coal Dues. The hon. Gentleman knows the condition of educational work in Salisbury, and evidently considers that to be a model for the county; and he appears little to appreciate what the result of this Education Bill will be when he ex-presses the pathetic hope that the result of these discussions will be the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit. I have not the unpleasant task of defending the Bill against the hon. Member, for he is a warm supporter of it, but I must, after the speech of the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley), defend the Bill against those Members on this side who think the Bill will not establish free education, and who think it will not go a long way towards establishing popular control. The hon. Member for Islington has told us two home truths—first, that this Bill adds 1d. to the Income Tax to the end of time; and next, that the immediate result will be to establish School Boards in the most important centres now without them, and the ultimate result will be to establish them everywhere. In the discussion on the Bill of 1870 the House eonsisted of novices in the matter of education, and unimportant matters were discussed at length, and more important matters not at all. But it is different now. We have a House of Commons in which there are a great many Members with a knowledge of educational matters which is a credit to themselves and of the utmost value to the Assembly in which they sit. We have, too, the advantage of the experience of what has been done in Scotland. We see what should be done, we see what should be avoided. The Government, instead of making education a matter of standard, as in the case of Scotland—an evil which the Scotch Members unanimously protested against—have avoided that mistake, and propose to give free education from the age of five to the age of 14. But why should they stop at 14, and why should they not begin before five? When so many gentlemen on both sides have done violence to those ideas they so long entertained, when such great sacrifices are called for from the English taxpayer, should we not make this a clean and thorough job? The simplification of the work of collecting fees, the time and trouble spent in investigating the question of the remission of fees, the advantage to parents of spreading the expense of education over the whole of their lives, instead of concentrating it on one period, when they are hardest pushed, and the feeling that the parent has that if his child heeds education he gets it as the child of a citizen, and not as the child of a pauper, and, finally, the improvement in the attendance, especially in the higher classes. Those are the main arguments for free education, and what, looking to these arguments, is there to be said for enforcing fees at the age of 14? There are only 43,000 children in that position; there will be less than 43,000 if we make the parent then begin to pay fees; but if we make education free through every elementary school and at every stage, those 43,000 will rapidly grow to dimensions which I will not venture to predict, but as to which I entertain a confident hope. Then as to the children under five. The first effect of freeing the lower standards in Scotland was to bring into the school an immense number of little children, and that is a subject of much congratulation. In the towns especially it is of the greatest importance to take them away from that amount of evil which the tenderest children can pick up even before five playing about in the street. When these defects are corrected, as I believe they will be by pressure from both sides, we shall have the right sort of free education so far, and for that reason nothing will induce me to vote for any Amendment which would traverse the Second Reading of the Bill. And next, will this Bill give free education generally? As regards the great majority of rural parishes, it is agreed on all sides that the fees will be met by the 10s. grant, and that the schools will become free. As regards the School Board schools, the same holds good. I doubt if two years hence there will be a School Board school in the Kingdom where fees are exacted. In the North of England, however, not only are there many schools which charge more than the 3d. fee, but a high fee is a usual charge. The parents want a good article, and they can pay for it. I take five schools which stand side by side in a district in our nothern counties. In the case of the first there were 56 children and £54 is paid in fees; of the second, 36 children and £32 paid in fees; of the third, 37 children and £38 paid in fees; of the fourth, 70 children and £75 paid in fees; and of the fifth, 54 children and £49 paid in fees. Will the managers venture to go on charging a 2d. or 3d. fee? The people will say, "Parliament meant us to have free education, and free education we will have," and, being North-Country people, they will very soon find their way to the Department at Whitehall, and I venture to say that all over England, in the North as well as the South, whether by means of this Bill or by means of indirect pressure by the School Board, every rural school will be free within a very short time. And quite right, too; because the land ought to educate the people who live upon it, and the landlord will educate the people, first, by paying Income Tax, and then by paying either rates or subscriptions to the required amount. Lancashire and Cheshire Members are the Members whose constituencies will be really affected by the Bill. It is in the cases where there is no School Board that we come to by far the most important part of the operation of the Bill. Take the case of Stalybridge. In the Roman Catholic school there, with .327 children in average attendance, £104 of subscriptions, and £198 of fees. I have not the slightest doubt that the subscriptions which already exist will be raised to that small amount which will enable the school to be free, and that will be the case with Roman Catholic schools all the country over. I will take the other great schools—the national schools. There is one school with 480 children, £430 of fees, and £7 of subscriptions. In other instances that may be given the number of children is 254, the fees amounted to £230, and the subscriptions to £10, and again the number of children 282, the fees £250, and the subscriptions £32. The British and Wesleyan schools show just the same scale. They are kept up out of the fees of children and the Government grant, and what will happen? Under this Bill the people will all go to the Department and apply for their share of this great boon. If the rest do not do it at first, the Liberals, who are somewhere about half the popution, will set the example. They wall say they must have what the Scotch now have, and what their brethren in the rural parishes have. The Department will have no School Board school to which to send the children. The Roman Catholic school will be there, but, without appealing to religious bigotry, I doubt very much whether the Department would send the children to that school. They will have to choose among the national schools to which they will send the children, and pledge them to provide their education at cost price. Just let us imagine what the effect would be in such towns as Preston and Stalybridge. One school after another would be dragged in. The struggle for life between the schools would go on, and in the end in all large towns of such counties as Lancaster and Chester, there would, it is quite certain, be a School Board. It is because this Bill will make education free all over the country, and give us down in the northern towns a School Board, that I shall refuse to vote for any Amendment—however much I may agree with the general proposition put forward in the Amendment—that will traverse the Second Reading of the Bill. Before concluding, I desire to say two or three sentences on the ulterior question of how we shall bear ourselves on going into Committee. Up to this I have been talking of the Bill itself and certain provisions as to the Amendment of the Bill which can be raised on its existing clauses. What I now wish to say has reference to the new clauses, or, if these are rejected, to the new measure which will have to be passed at an early date by a new Parliament. There are optimists who look on this as a simple measure. It is an unfortunate feature of the educational system set up in England in 1870, that directly any great change is proposed, it becomes necessary to put the whole system into the crucible. The case of Scotland is very different. The Act of 1870 did not establish School Boards everywhere. The Act of 1872, which related to Scotland, did establish a School Board in every district. It was possible two years ago to discuss and apply the principle of free education in Scotland without any difficulty. Free education fitted perfectly well into the Scotch system; but now, when a similar proposal is made in regard to England, all sorts of difficulties and questions are raised by the defenders of the present system. Newspapers are at present full of letters and speeches from men of great ability and high honour and patriotism, whose great object it appears to be not so much to get the children into the schools as to keep popular control out. Now, let the hon. Gentlemen around me be well advised. We shall have some desperate propositions made in Committee. I will tell them of one that is sure to be made—and we should be very wary not to yield to these proposals. In the Times of to-day there is an able letter from the Bishop of Wakefield, who, seeing the dangers which threaten the voluntary system in Yorkshire, proposes certain methods of avoiding them. The first method he proposes is that Church people shall make further efforts and greater sacrifices to maintain the voluntary schools by giving farther subscriptions. Now, what are these subscriptions in Wakefield that are going to be increased? At St. Andrew's there are 112 children, and £3 11s. of subscriptions; at St. John's they have 165 children, and £8 13s. of subscriptions. In all Wakefield in the parish schools there are 1,665 children, the receipts from the taxes are £2,120, and £162 for subscriptions. That is what the Churchmen of Wales pay for the privilege of monopolising the education. The subscriptions scarcely form a nucleus which can be increased, so small are they at present. The Bishop of Wakefield in his letter next asked— Why might there not be five schedules, the schools in which would receive respectively 6s., 8s., 10s., 12s., and 14s., according to the fee in existence for the last three years? Now, I am going to argue against this, not from the point of view of a Liberationist, not from the point of view of a Nonconformist, but from the point of view which might be held by an out-and-out Church voluntary school man. The unfairness of this proposal appears from the following figures: There are two small rural parishes in Somersetshire, in which there are 173 children; the grant is £171, and the subscriptions £137. The Bishop's proposal is that the people in these Somersetshire parishes who pay all this money to educate their children shall be cut down to 8s., in order that Wakefield, which pays comparatively nothing, shall get 14s. If this is not the proposal of the Bishop I do not understand what it is. To that I have the strongest objection. Let all schools be equally dealt with. Ten shillings a head is what Parliament is prepared to pay to free education, and in Somersetshire and Yorkshire alike free education must be had for the money, and the managers of the voluntary schools must settle the method among themselves. In the great towns of the North popular control will as surely come out of free education as free education came out of compulsory attend- ance. But it is otherwise in rural districts. In rural England the normal condition is that there is only one school in the parish—a voluntary school. If a Nonconformist is the cleverest and best-conducted boy in the school, there is no chance of his becoming a teacher. The school buildings may be grossly inadequate, the teacher may be harsh and un-suited for his duties, but the people have no resource save the nominal right of appealing to a distant Department. The accounts may remain unchecked except by a sham audit, and the people of the district have no control. In Wales especially this state of things constitutes a serious grievance, one the very existence of which we cannot conceive in any country but ours. Let us imagine the Catholic Canton of Lucerne with all the schools in the hands of Protestant pastors, and the Protestant Canton of Berne with all the schools in the hands of Roman Catholic priests. This is analogous to what has been the state of things in rural Wales, and it will be worse hereafter. A great grant is to be made from the taxes, which will in many parts of Wales exceed everything that comes from the fees. To this grant all Welshmen who are taxpayers will contribute. Who is to see that this additional sum will be spent for the benefit of education, and not for the benefit of the Church school managers? There are right hon. Friends of mine on this Bench, and I daresay there are right hon. Gentlemen on the Bench opposite, who are capable of drawing up a clause which will ensure, as far as a clause can, that there will be good education for this new money. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council will give instructions to his Inspectors to see that education is improved. Bat these are not effective means of ensuring it. The only effective means of ensuring it is by the daily constant supervision of the inhabitants of the district who are entrusted with the education of the district. To remedy this immense grievance I have only seen one proposal from what I may call the other side of the question, and that appeared in a letter to the Times newspaper from the rector of Woking. I will not read the passage, but it is to the effect that in consequence of the falling off of the money the parents will subscribe more largely, and then he says the voluntary schools will become dependent on subscriptions from parents more than they have been in the past. And this is called the gift of free education! No, Sir; a system under which Welshmen who profess the creed of the enormous majority of their countrymen. [Cries of "Oh!"] I will put it another way. A system under which Welshmen who do not belong to the Church of the very small minority of their countrymen, cannot become teachers in the enormous majority of Welsh schools, is a system which cannot last, and we do not intend that it shall last. There is only one method of securing that public money-shall not be wasted and applied to the purposes of sectarian advantage, namely, by ensuring that the great body of the inhabitants of a district shall have a potent voice in the management of schools, and at the earliest possible moment after the Second Reading of the Bill, and at a very prominent point of the discussion, it will be the duty of some one—I hope from this Bench—to propose a Resolution to gain that object. Within the reach of every parent there must be at least one school, as to the management of which the people will be entitled to have the fullest knowledge, and over which they must have effective control. This was a small demand to make in a free country, and it is a demand which in the course of the Debates on this Bill will be made with emphasis. If it be not granted in the course of these Debates it will be granted, you may be sure, in the not distant hereafter.

*(10.20.) MR. FORREST FULTON (West Ham, N.)

I wish to give my sincere support to the proposals contained in this Bill, and I am glad to say I find myself in the fortunate position of not having to explain away any former speeches, as in 1885 I declared myself in favour of free education, if introduced on the lines followed by the present measure. From the speeches delivered by hon. Members opposite one might imagine that in 1885 they were enthusiastic supporters of the principle of free education, yet in the authorised programme issued by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) in that year there was no mention of it. The unauthorised programme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) issued subsequently first declared that free education was part of the programme of the Liberal Party. It is not uninteresting to observe that at that time the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was generally believed to be in favour of universal public control and of charging the expenditure on the rates, and it was because the views of the right hon. Gentleman were understood to be of that character that almost all my hon. Friends around me declared themselves opposed to free education. I looked at the matter from a somewhat different point of view, and on the 24th September, 1885, speaking at Forest Gate, I said— Provided that the denominational system he maintained, I am prepared to vote in favour of charging school pence on the Consolidated Fund, and so giving free education. [Opposition laughter.] Hon. Members opposite will, at all events, acknowledge that there is one Member of the Party who is able to say he is consistent. The hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Bartley) has delivered a most admirable speech which, if anything could, would have converted me from the error of my ways. But I do not think he quite entered into the views of hon. Members opposite. He says— We find such prominent Members of the Party opposite as the hon. Member for Northampton and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby who have not been remarkable advocates of the cause of education, enthusiastic in support of this Bill, and, therefore, it must be manifest that the measure is in their favour, and against our Party. I do not believe that is so. I believe myself that, although free education was mentioned in the Queen's Speech, hon. Members opposite never believed that such a measure would be brought forward at all, and imagined that by persistent—I will not say obstruction, as I do not wish to be offensive, but by constant talking on measures introduced by the Government, they would put it out of the power of the Government to fulfil their pledge. They were astonished on the introduction of the Budget to find that the Government were determined to grapple with the question of free education. They were in this difficulty: If they opposed free education when they went to their constituents the results could not be doubtful; if, on the other hand, they supported it, it would be said that they were supporting a measure introduced by a Conservative Government, and for which the Conservatives would get the credit. They therefore took up a middle position. They said, "This is all nonsense on the part of the Government. They do not intend to persevere with the Bill; it is a pretence, a falsehood, a measure introduced merely for the purpose of influencing the miniature General Election, but we on our side will take care to compel the Government to pass the measure." An ingenious artifice I admit, but it was based on a false assumption, namely, that the Government did not themselves from the first intend to carry the Bill. Here in passing I cannot help expressing my amazement at the petulant wailings of politicians like the hon. Member for Sal-ford (Mr. Howorth), who, before he saw the Bill at all or had any opportunity of forming an opinion as to its provisions, rushed into print and denounced it, and sought to do as much mischief as he possibly could. It appears to me that his position is very different from that of the hon. Member for Islington, who waited with patience until he had the Bill in his hands before expressing the sincere views he, no doubt, takes with regard to it. It is said that it is a monstrous thing to give free education, because we shall thereby be pauperizing the population. The argument of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham on that point is absolutely unanswerable. It is that the money will come out of the Consolidated Fund, and that, so far as the working classes are concerned, it will not be free education at all, because they are the persons who, in the largest sense, contribute during their whole life to the Consolidated Fund. The large mass of the Consolidated Fund is derived from taxes paid by the working classes, for it is they who drink most and smoke most, and who thus contribute most largely to the revenue raised from Excise. The amount contributed by Income Tax is comparatively small, and there is no contribution under this head from those classes of poor clerks and others, with incomes under £150 a year, to whom reference has been made. Then, it is said that this Bill will bring about a system of universal School Boards, and that voluntary schools will be extinguished throughout the country. The same thing was said in 1870, and yet the voluntary schools are twice as numerous, and have twice as many children in them now, as the School Board schools. It is said that parents will not be willing to send their children to schools in which they will have to pay 3d., 4d., or, perhaps, 6d. a week. But now they pay 4d. or 6d. a week in preference to 3d., and why should they not continue to pay the extra pence per week? There are a great many of the working classes who prefer to send their children to voluntary schools rather than to Board schools, though they have to pay higher fees for them. In West Ham there is a most excellent School Board, presided over by an experienced educationist, Mr. Coleman, who is a Liberal Unionist, and on that account an attempt was made to oust him from his position, but I am glad to say it failed. There are also voluntary schools in West Ham of the most efficient character. The voluntary school attached to the Church of St Paul, Stratford, is one of the most efficient in the country, and has earned the highest grants which could be obtained from the Department. The artisans in that part of my constituency would be very likely to appreciate the advantages of a Board school if it gave a better education; but the fact is, with one accord they send their children to the voluntary schools to which I have referred so far as the accommodation suffices. I have gone into the question very carefully, and I find that the result of the universal establishment of Board schools in West Ham would, in my opinion, be to increase the rates by 4s. in the £1. I should like to see any gentleman advocating the establishment of universal Board schools in West Ham at the expense of such an addition to the rates. But the case of West Ham is not singular. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham has pointed out in Birmingham that the result of establishing Board schools universally would be exceedingly dis- astrous to the ratepayers. But, says the hon. Member for Leicester, "We have another fund. We have not only the rates and taxes, but the Church Fund." I should like to see the right hon. Member for Derby, the present leader of the Liberal Party, or the right hon. Member for Newcastle going to the country and proposing to confiscate the revenues of the Church of England in order to establish universal Board schools. They dare not do so. That proposition of the hon. Member for Leicester was not received by the right hon. Member for Derby with so much gratitude as might have been expected. I have not heard that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, though he has so far modified his views as to favour the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, has as yet taken up the disestablishment of the Church in England. The right hon. Gentleman who last spoke said that by one clause in the Bill the Education Department will have power in any district in which there is not a School Board to compel existing voluntary schools to receive children free of cost. There will be no such power in the Department, though they may compel the establishment of a School Board in the district. For the reasons I have stated, I am of opinion that this Bill is well worthy of the support of hon. Gentlemen on this side. I am very glad from my place in this House that I am able to support with perfect sincerity and consistency a measure which, if passed into law, will, I am convinced, result in enormous benefits to the people of this country and be of lasting advantage to the Party to which I belong.

*(10.45.) MR. LOGAN (Leicestershire, Harborough)

I propose very shortly to give the reasons why I consider it my duty to support the Second Reading of this Bill. There can be no doubt whatever in the mind of any hon. Member intimately acquainted with the working classes of this country that there exists among them an earnest desire that their children should be enabled to obtain a better education than they themselves received. They are, therefore, willing to accept this measure, imperfect as it is, as an instalment of a larger scheme of national education paid for by the nation as a whole, and, as a matter of course, controlled by representatives of the people. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite may perhaps doubt that there does exist this desire for education among the working classes, for this bid for favour made by the Party opposite has fallen somewhat flat at by-elections. But there are reasons why it was not received with the expected enthusiasm. Workmen in towns, who are much further advanced in political education than their brethren in the country, were not caught by it, because they believe in the right of the people to control the administration of public funds. The agricultural labourers did not respond, because slowly, but surely, it has been dawning upon him that the Conservative Party and their allies in the country, the Church of England parsons, are not as anxious for the labourer's education as they would wish him to believe, otherwise they would have educated him long ago. I think that the agricultural labourer is right in that belief, because even now many of the Conservative Party object to this measure. They say it will demoralise the people and lessen parental control. I yield to no one in an earnest desire to see self-reliance among the people strengthened; and it is for that reason I was shocked to hear this scheme of free education labelled as a gift from a Unionist Government to the people. I think that the use of the words "free education" is wrong. A system which is paid for by all cannot be called free, and under the new scheme parents will not escape having to pay. As has been pointed out by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, parents will continue to pay, but indirectly, and over a longer period of time. Now, I notice that out of a total of 45s. ½d., the cost of a child's education in a Board School, Government grants, and the rates provide 35s. 3d., 9d. is gathered from miscellaneous contributions, and a fifth only, or, to speak exactly, 8s. 11¾d. is contributed by school pence. Now, surely it is straining the argument very far to contend that the supply of this fifth in an indirect instead of direct manner would cause demoralisation among the people? When I look at this skeleton Bill, I quite understand the desire of advanced Liberal Mem- bers to amend it, fur this skeleton Bill will not only revolutionise the whole educational system of the country, but it also proposes to give largely increased sums to bodies in the rural districts in whom the people have absolutely no confidence. As a practical man, I recognise the uselessness in this Parliament of attempting to clothe that skeleton without at the same time running the risk of breaking it; and, therefore, while I shall endeavour to improve the Bill, I accept it as embodying the principle that it is the duty of the State to place a proper system of education within the reach of its poorest citizen. At the same time, I protest against money being given to strengthen the position of the Church of England parsons in the rural districts. Speaking with a pretty intimate knowledge of the rural districts I have the honour to represent, I say that in many villages where the parson is supreme ruler, and where he has the entire education of the villagers in his hands, the people there are less intelligent and less self-reliant than the people of those villages blessed with a Board school. Millions of our countrymen have no choice as to the school to which they must send their children, and I say it is opposed to all sense of justice that they should have no voice in the management of that education to which they are compelled to subject their children. From the present Government I recognise it is useless to attempt to get this concession of popular control, though the time is not far distant when this will come with other Home Rule measures. Meantime, I entreat the Leaders of the Liberal Party to attempt to secure that public money granted for education shall be applied to education, and to education only, and that those who receive the money shall be compelled to furnish properly-audited accounts for the inspection of the public. I trust it will not require much pressure to induce the Government to extend the exemption of fees beyond the age of 14, for I cannot think that at a time when all thoughtful men and thoughtful women are trying to get children kept at school as long as possible, so that the Englishmen of the future may be at least as well educated as other nations, I cannot believe that any body of responsible men will offer a premium to parents to take their children away from school, for it is admitted that, as a nation, we are behind other nations in this respect, both as regards elementary education and technical training. There is a mistaken notion that education unfits a man for work. Our competitors make no such mistake; they think the more the intellect of a boy or girl is trained and developed the better workman or workwoman he or she will become. Speaking from experience as an employer, I am convinced they are correct in their views. Though the Bill does some things it should not do, and leaves many things undone it should do, yet as it is a step in the direction of a complete system of education, I shall oppose every Amendment that may imperil the passage of this Bill. I believe that with the awakening sense of their power the people will eventually demand full control over the education of their children, and that the next Parliament will be compelled to give effect to this most just and reasonable demand.

*(10.56.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord G. HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing

This interesting Debate has been remarkable for an extraordinary diversity of opinion among hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the effects of this Bill. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) informed the House that he would not move his Amendment because he did not want to prevent the passing of the Bill, though it was an endowment of the Church. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire took much the same view, and the hon. Member who has just spoken, naturally and properly spoke from his recent election experiences. But the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Trevelyan) takes the view that the effect of the Bill will be to establish Board schools universally throughout the country. Striking a balance between diverse views, I think I may say that in the belief of Her Majesty's Government this Bill, if passed, will leave voluntary schools and Board schools much in the same position as before, with this exception—that the managers of schools will be placed in the receipt of a certain instead of a precarious income from fees. Two speeches made this evening are different from the rest, inasmuch as they announce the intention of the speakers to oppose the Bill on account of the principle which it embodies. The hon. Member for Islington, in a speech of great power, drew a terrible picture of the serious educational, social, and economic calamities which would, in his opinion, ensue on the passing of the Bill. But while the hon. Member attributed all the evil motives to the Government who brought in the Bill, he attributed all the good motives to himself. The Amendment of the hon. Member affirmed the proposition— That this House is prepared to amend the present system by which remission of school fees is obtained through the Poor Law Guardians by parents who cannot afford to pay the fees. But the hon. Member did not devote any portion of his speech to showing how he would amend the present system. The hon. Member has devoted himself for many years to educational questions as affecting the poor in London, and he is well qualified to give an opinion on this subject. The position which the hon. Member takes up is that which was taken by the Members of the Government in 1885 when they opposed free education, associated with popular control of the voluntary schools, because it meant the extinction of voluntary schools. The present system of remitting fees is unsatisfactory. At present no parent can obtain exemption from fees except on the ground of poverty, and the claim for exemption has to be presented to that particular tribunal which is associated with pauperism. Since education has become universally compulsory, this system has, no doubt, pressed very hardly on the deserving poor. I do not, however, believe that it was possible to amend the existing system and to stop short of what the Government now propose to do. If the hon. Member for Islington will give consideration to this problem he will find that things must be left as they are, or the proposition of the Government must be accepted. I do not wish to be associated with a measure which will in any degree undermine the self-reliance of the masses of the community; but if there be one part of the community where self-reliance is strongly developed, where a national system of primary education is supreme, and where the general population are in a higher condition of comfort than elsewhere, it is in Scotland. Yet the Members of Parliament on both sides of the House positively extort out of the Government at the point of the bayonet a free education scheme. No bad consequences, such as the hon. Member for Islington predicted, have followed; and I see no reason why they should follow the present measure when applied to England. Both the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton seem to think that if the Bill passes into law some system of popular control must necessarily be established over all voluntary schools. Let us for a few moments consider what is the meaning of popular control, although I am aware that the point is one that will be raised at a later stage of the Bill. Clearly, from the Amendments on the Paper, it means control by the ratepayers. I assert that it is impossible to give the ratepayers control over an institution unless the rates are liable for the maintenance of that institution. I remember the introduction of the Bill of 1870, and I have always regretted that the original proposals of Mr. Forster did not pass into law. Mr. Forster proposed to map out England into various educational districts, and to give control in each district over all schools, voluntary or otherwise, on the understanding that the rates were liable for denominational schools and Board schools alike. But the Non conformist Members rose as one man, and through their spokesman, Mr. Winterbotham, repudiated the control of the voluntary schools if they were associated with the rates, on the ground that the rate would become as unpopular as the old Church rate had been. Therefore, unless hon. Gentlemen opposite are prepared to say that they will support the denominational schools out of the rates, they cannot claim popular control over those schools. Looking at the proposition of the Government from the business and administrative point of view, rates stand to School Boards as subscriptions do to voluntary schools, and if there is a deficiency in the amount the former have to make it good by rates and the other by voluntary subscriptions. How could we put a voluntary school under popular control when the managers would still remain responsible for the expenses of that school? The thing is ridiculous and impossible, and therefore any proposition made in favour of obtaining popular control over voluntary schools, unless associated with the liability of rates to contribute towards those voluntary schools, is nothing less than a proposal for the extinction of voluntary schools, and any such proposition as that is one which Her Majesty's Government think it their bounden duty to oppose as contrary to the principles of the Education Act of 1870. Putting Church of England schools out of the question altogether, and taking those of two other bodies—the Wesleyans and the Roman Catholics—what would be the result to education in those schools of associating popular control with them? The peculiarity of the Wesleyan schools is the very high fees charged. The result of popular control would be to reduce the fees and to destroy the distinctive character of the schools, which would cease to remain voluntary schools. The Roman Catholic schools were extraordinary in their efficiency, considering the small resources at their disposal; but if we associate popular control with these schools the Roman Catholics would probably decline to contribute towards their support, because the merits of these schools in their eyes is that they are under denominational management, and, therefore, to associate popular control with them would mean the stopping of subscriptions. I am sure, therefore, that the proposition for popular control over voluntary schools is one to which the House will never listen. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton has said that Board schools will be established in the North of England towns because fees are so high, and he also seems to argue that they will also be set up everywhere in the South, where fees are low. It is true that this Bill will have somewhat different effects in different parts of the country. Why are fees higher in the North of England than in the South? Because the people are better off. But they will now all get the remission of 10s. towards the payment of those fees, and when I think of the vigour and energy which the managers of voluntary schools have shown during the last 20 years, I see no reason to suppose that they will not get over any temporary difficulties, and find themselves in the possession of a permanent and sure source of income. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton has taken some examples of isolated schools or districts, and pointed out that the subscriptions are small. But, taking subscriptions and endowments of the Church of England, they amounted in 1890 to 80 per cent. of the school fees. That shows that the great majority of fees are low because subscriptions are high. In the case of the Roman Catholic schools the figure is 78 per cent. of the fees payable. That also shows that the subscriptions are high and the fees low, and that the subscribers are prepared to make sacrifices for their schools. In the case of the Wesleyan schools the statistics are reversed, the subscriptions amounting to only 17 per cent., which shows that the parents of the children attending these schools are capable of paying high fees, and therefore the denomination do not consider it necessary to subscribe in order to reduce the fees. I think that those figures show what would be the effect on these three classes of voluntary schools of the establishment of popular control. If the Wesleyans wish to keep up the character of their education, I have not the slightest doubt that they will continue to subscribe whatever is necessary above the 10s. But the result of the 10s. fee grant in the case of the Church of England and Roman Catholic schools would be that the great majority of them would become free. With regard to the administrative advantage of the proposal of the 10s. grant, I think that the indirect consequences would be of considerable importance. Any one who has been connected with the Education Department knows that one of the great difficulties in administering that Department is the great diversity and irregularity of the fees payable in elementary schools. The result of the proposal will be that the fees payable in three-quarters of the elementary schools will be a uniform rate. Having now dealt with the question of popular control, I come to the question of fees. Several hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed a wish that the Government should include in the proposed payment all children who attend school after the age of three, up to the age of 14. Now, it must be borne in mind what is the ground on which the Government make their proposal. We do not make it for the purpose of bringing elementary education up to an ideal standard, and still less for the purpose of allowing a system of secondary education to be grafted upon the system of elementary education. Our proposal is to relieve parents from a compulsory liability which has been imposed upon them by Statute with regard to children sent to school between the ages of five and 14. I doubt whether children who go to school before they are five years old derive any educational benefit. In Scotland, where there is a much higher standard, children do not, as a rule, attend the schools before they are five years of age. There is a great deal to be said against the proposition that the Government should pay the fees of all children who are sent to school after the age of 14. Such children are, as a rule, the children of the better-to-do ratepayers, who can afford to allow them to stop on. Moreover, the education they receive is not primary, but secondary education. In the voluntary schools the subscriptions stand in exactly the same place as the rates do in the Board schools. If the fees are low, it is because the subscriptions are high. The subscribers have, to a certain extent, anticipated the benevolent intentions of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman opposite very properly said that the schools must be efficient. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The Code of this year is, I may say in confidence, prepared in the belief that this Bill will pass into law. Consequently, by that Code there are increased requirements put upon elementary schools. The curriculum is extended, the teaching staff is increased, and a class subject must be taught in every school. If any school is warned before 1893, and is subsequently found to be inefficient, it will cease to obtain a grant. A school to be efficient must have a certain income. The average expenditure on children in voluntary schools is £1 16s. The average grant is 17s. 4d. Deducting 17s. 4d. from £1 16s., a deficiency of nearly 19s. is shown, which will be reduced to 9s. by the grant proposed to be given by this Bill. The 10s. grant only reduces that by 9s. Thus schools in which the subscriptions are small cannot pass the necessary test without utilising the free grant, so that it may be anticipated that the increased grant will be associated hereafter with increased efficiency. The proposition of the Government is a very simple one. We had to deal with a complicated and multiform system of education, a system which Parliament deliberately brought into existence 20 years ago, and the Government intend to adhere to the principles on which that system is founded, confirmed as they are by subsequent legislation, and to oppose every proposition which will affect the policy on which the system of primary education is founded. We have endeavoured to graft this proposition on our somewhat complicated system, and I hope we have framed a scheme which is not only simple in itself, but which will also tend to simplify the system upon which it is grafted. The Government look upon the scheme as the legitimate and necessary development of previous legislation, and they earnestly hope that the House will support it by a large majority, because they believe that not only will it tend to consolidate the present system of primary education and assimilate all the different classes of schools, but also that it will add to the efficiency of that system under conditions which will enable the voluntary schools of the country to take for the future a more beneficial and a more prominent part in the life of the country than they have done in the past.

(11.35.) MR. SINCLAIR&c.) (Falkirk,

I propose to address the House from the point of view of one who has been a School Board manager in Liverpool almost ever since the Act of 1870 was passed. I think that, in the long run, the Bill introduced by the Government will tend to the educational advantage of the people of the country. The great reason, to my mind, why such a Bill should have been introduced is this: that political power in this country has shifted; the governing power is now handed over to the people. There is a change from parental to national responsibility, and that is a great reason why the Government are to be congratulated upon the action they have taken. There is one point of importance, and it has only been touched upon by the noble Lord who has just sat down: it is the question of the equalisation of fees throughout the country. I understood the noble Lord to say that difficulty had been found by those who had administered the Education Department in the diversity in the fees charged. If that difficulty has existed in the past, I am afraid there is nothing within the four corners of the Bill to remove it in the future. The difficulty arises very largely from the fact that, according to the definition to be found in the Education Act of 1870, the term elementary school means a school or department of a school in which elementary education is the principal part of the education given; that is to say, a department of a school is looked upon as an entire school, and the fees charged in that department are to be the basis upon which the working of this Bill will take place. I should like to exemplify this by the case of the Upper Park Street School in Liverpool, of which I am a manager. There are four departments in that school—an infants', a juniors', and two seniors'. In the infants' department the present fee is 3d., in the juniors' 4d., and in the seniors' (boys' and girls') 6d. Under the Bill the managers will be compelled, in order to obtain the full advantage of the grant, to treat the four departments separately, so that there will be no fee in the infants' department, a fee of 1d. in the juniors', and a fee of 3d. in the seniors'. But if the managers were allowed to treat the whole school as a unit there might be an equalisation of fees, the want of which we understand every Education Minister in the past has greatly felt. What is the result of charging fees in the higher standards instead of charging them in the lower? It is to make the parents think twice before they keep their children at school longer than they are absolutely obliged to. The tendency of compulsion and the charging of high fees in the higher standards is to cause parents to take their children from school earlier than they otherwise would. This is a practical point of great importance, and I trust that it will not be lost sight of by the Government when they come to consider any changes or amendments in the Bill that the Debate may have made necessary.

(11.45.) VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)

I beg to move that the Debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Viscount Cranborne.)


I think the House is prepared to hear another speech.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton waxed very eloquent in the speech he delivered earlier in the evening in reference to the treatment which in his opinion the people of Wales are experiencing under the present state of things. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that in many parishes the schools are entirely attached to the Church of England, while the pupils who attend them are the children of Nonconformists. It is extraordinary, considering the position that has been assumed in this House on behalf of the Nonconformists of Wales, that those people have never had sufficient public spirit to establish voluntary schools of their own. But the right hon. Gentleman omitted to observe that in all the evidence given before the Education Commission not a case was adduced in which complaint was made that the Conscience Clause established in 1870 had been violated in any Church school in the Principality. This is a very remarkable fact, seeing that the schools are managed by Churchmen and that the scholars are the children of Nonconformists. Nor did the Welsh Nonconformist ministers themselves who appeared before the Commission make any complaint on the subject; on the contrary, they asserted that they would not even suggest to their flocks that they should in any degree complain as to the religious teaching which was given by the Church in the schools. That proves that in the opinion of those ministers the differences are not worth contesting, that they think religious teaching of some kind a great advantage to the children, and that they are not prepared to endorse the assertion which has been made by their political friends in this House that the Church of England schools in Wales are used as a means of destroying the principles of Nonconformity in the children.

MR. T. ELLIS (Merionethshire)

Will the noble Lord name the ministers to whom he refers?


I have not the volume containing the evidence at hand. The names and the facts are well known, and I shall be glad to give the hon. Member the pages in which they appear. That is not the only part of the experience of the Act of 1870 to which I would direct the hon. Member's attention. The right hon. Member for Bridgeton rejoices greatly at what he believes to be the on-coming destruction of the voluntary schools. It would be instructive for him to remember over what odds the voluntary schools have already triumphed. In 1870 he and his predecessors prophesied the destruction of the voluntary schools; but experience shows that there is sufficient public spirit to support them, and to rescue them even from the evil position in which they found themselves after the passing of the Act of 1870. They are now in such a position before the people of England that even Radical politicians do not seriously propose their destruction. When hon. and right hon. Gentlemen speak of the privileges which the voluntary school managers enjoy under the present system, they seem to think that voluntary schools exist for the benefit of voluntary subscribers. There can be no greater mistake. We are very grateful to the voluntary subscribers for supporting these schools, but the advantages to the country of the voluntary system consist in the teaching of distinctive religious and denominational principles. I regret very much the condition of public opinion in the country on the question before the House. Parents were formerly quite content to pay these fees, and there was no difficulty of any kind. There were a few cases where the parents were very poor, and where, undoubtedly, the system under which they had to go to the Guardians in order to be relieved of their fees was an unsatisfactory system, but in the vast majority of cases the fees were paid perfectly willingly and regularly. That, I admit, is not so now. The reason is not difficult to find. We have in this country a machine for changing the law, and the Radical agitator must have some reform to keep the machine in motion—a good reform if possible, but, at all events, a reform. The result is, that he lays hold of some grievance, slightly real and largely imaginary, and he works the people of this country up into a great fever, until a demand is made for a change in the law. That is precisely what has happened in this case. There are, under the present law, some real grievances and a great many imaginary ones. If you go to a number of people and say, "You pay fees which you ought not to pay; you ought to have your children educated for nothing," is it surprising that they will believe you, and that the fees which were formerly paid without a murmur should be looked upon as an intolerable grievance by a large section of the parents of this country? Then, I ask, is the present proposal a large departure from sound principles? I submit that, so far as naked principle is concerned, the departure from sound lines is very slight. I know that many of my hon. Friends believe that this Bill is tarred with the Socialist brush, but the Socialist principle was first introduced into this question when parents were compelled to send their children to school. I am not discussing whether it is right or wrong, but I say that a far greater interference with the liberty of the individual on the part of the State was enacted by the Education Act than any that is contained in the proposition before the House. It is not merely from the point of view of compulsion that a great act of Socialism has already been achieved. Even pecuniarily we have gone a very long way in that direction. It is said that the working classes of the country will have their independence sapped by the Imperial Exchequer paying their school fees, but their independence has already been sapped to the extent of three-fourths of the cost of education. If one-fourth, more is Socialism, then let the House remember that every increase in the cost of national education year by year since 1870 has been a step in the Socialist direction. In 1870 the cost of education per head was 30s.; in 1891, I suppose, we may reckon it at 40s. From what source has the 10s. increase come? Not, I venture to say, out of the pockets of the parents. It has, therefore, come out of somebody else's pocket, and to that extent the independence of the parents has been sapped by a contribution out of someone else's pocket. Under these circumstances, it surely is not reasonable to protest against this proposal as Socialism.

It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed to-morrow.