§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ *(4.55.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities
Mr. Speaker, in rising to move that this Bill be now read a second time, I do not think it will be necessary for me to do more than remind the House of the way in which this money arises for distribution—which has come to be known by the convenient name of the Equivalent Grant. It is the sum which arises for Scotland in proportion to the fee grant given to England out of the Imperial funds in last Session. I would point out that the amount of the sum, although £265,000 is in the Bill as the amount available at present, may and probably will vary from year to year accordingly as the English quota varies. I do not propose to say anything as to the propriety or accuracy of the calculation which brings out the figure at £265,000, 374 for reasons which have already been explained to the House. That would be dealt with in a general discussion on the financial relations of the three Divisions of the Kingdom. The mode in which the fee grant for Scotland is fixed, and the way in which it is distributed, is sufficiently in the minds of hon. Members to discharge me from the duty of saying much about it; but I think it right to explain in a very few words the financial aspects of the Bill. Hon. Members will observe that we begin by repealing part of a certain section of the Local Government Act of 1889, and I desire to make this explanation, to show the intention of the Government in making the proposal, that the fee grant was made out of the sum at the credit of the Local Taxation Account. In 1889 the residue of the Local Taxation Account was devoted to the relief of fees, and in 1890 an additional sum not exceeding £40,000 was devoted to the relief of fees. In one sense that was a very proper and satisfactory arrangement; but at the same time, inasmuch as the English fee grant is payable out of Imperial funds, and not out of the taxes assigned to local purposes, it was thought that if for no other reason than to furnish the basis of a proper comparison between the Local Taxation Accounts applicable to the two parts of the Kingdom, the fee grant should be laid substantially upon the same Imperial funds in the two cases. We do not thereby make any difference in the amount at the credit of the Local Taxation Account, but simply alter its purposes by taking the fee grant from that account and placing it on the Imperial funds, and substituting the other purposes specified in the Bill to which this fund is to be devoted. This adjustment of the grant makes no difference whatever in the amount which Scotland receives, or in the amount which stands at the credit of the Local Taxation Account. It has really the effect of re-adjusting the account, so that the fee grant comes out of it to the extent answering the amount of the fee grant in England. For all purposes beyond that the fee grant remains in the Local Taxation Account; but to that extent the account is set free to be devoted to other 375 purposes, which are set forth in the Bill. It will not be necessary for me to deal at any length with the details of the Bill, with which hon. Members are already sufficiently familiar; but there is one branch of the subject on which it will be expected I should give, and on which I undertook to give, some further explanation, and that is with respect to the item which comes first in the Bill—namely, the sum which we purpose to devote to the furtherance of secondary education in Scotland. That amount, as has already been stated in this House, is £60,000, and the Bill provides that it shall be devoted to defraying the cost of inspection of higher class schools, of holding examinations for leaving certificates, and for making advances for secondary education under the Minutes of the Department, both for urban and rural schools. The first question which arises on such a matter is the principle upon which the amount is to be divided. It may be possible—and I think the suggestion was made from the other side of the House—that it should be divided by counties, or districts, according to any standard you may think fair, such as population or valuation, leaving the further distribution to what I may call some Central Local Authority. That would have the merit of facility, so far as Parliament is concerned, but it appears to be open to two objections to which I think the scheme of the Government is not open. One of these is that it is, at all events, difficult to see how such a mode of distributing the money would work in with the existence of School Boards. The relation of School Boards to a central authority would require to be very carefully considered; and, in addition to that, it does appear to me clear enough that the county does not form a very reasonable or convenient basis for the district education arrangements. I shall merely shadow forth what we propose in the Bill. We propose that the money to be devoted to secondary education should in the main be applied in proportion to the amount of secondary education supplied in the various districts, and that under certain clearly defined conditions. The result would be that each district would obtain its share of the 376 grant according to its proportion, and the main advantage of that is that it would further what is really the chief necessity of secondary education in Scotland—namely, that there should be better organisation. With reference to the conditions attaching to the distribution of the money, there are certain things to be aimed at which limit the conditions that can be imposed. In the first place, it will be admitted without any dissent that it would not do to interfere more than is absolutely necessary with the existing resources, which are already applicable in that direction. In the second place, while there are many parents ready to pay in some cases a large, and in many cases a moderate, fee for secondary education, it is desirable that those who cannot afford to do so should have their aim furthered by the application of this grant, so that all pupils desirous of going forward may have no obstacle in the way; and, thirdly, that all classes of pupils fitted for taking this additional step should, so far as possible, both for the sake of the scholars themselves and for husbanding the resources, be brought together for the purpose of education. The best mode, in the opinion of the Government, is by imposing a condition that the fee to be charged should not exceed a certain fixed amount per head upon the average attendance. The result of such a condition would be that the localities would each derive a fair revenue from fees, while at the same time the average fee would be kept down to the advantage of those who cannot afford to pay any fee, or only a moderate one, either by the provision of a certain number of free places, or by the lowering of the fees over the whole school to a very moderate sum. We propose to leave very much to the locality itself the choice between these various modes. The amount of the fee we propose is £3 per head per annum. At the present time the average fee in the burgh schools of Scotland is £6. In some it is a good deal more, and in those cases, probably, the fee would not be reduced, because the schools supply a want which would not be better supplied by lowering the fees. But it would not be desirable to debar such schools from participation in the grant, 377 nor to exclude poor people from the advantages of the education which is there given. Therefore, the result of our proposal would be that the capitation grant which we should propose to give for children in the higher class schools is £3 per head per annum on the average attendance at the schools; but where the fee is so large that the managers could not or would not reduce it to the limit of £3, then the schools would be entitled to participate in the grant to the extent of £3 per head, not on the average attendance, but upon the number of free admissions available to those who desire it. I will give a figure or two showing how this works out: The average attendance as it at present stands in the burgh schools in Scotland is 5,500, and the cost of education is something near £9 a head. But we cannot count upon 5,500 children. In the schools I have already mentioned, where the fees would not be reduced, the attendance could not be taken as a basis of calculation, and we think it probable that about 4,000 will be the number in respect of whom the grant will be claimed, and that would dispose of about £12,000. At the same time, it must be remembered that we should expect a considerable increase in attendance in the secondary schools. The age for secondary education may be laid down as between 13 and 16, and of children of that age there are probably 270,000 in Scotland. Of these there are in elementary schools at present 50,000, and it is not too sanguine an expectation that these may be in course of time, and not a very long time, raised to 80,000; and taking that figure from the total number of children I have given, there will be left about 190,000 children who are of the age to go forward to secondary education. But it is found from experience that only about one-sixth would do so. Therefore, taking one-sixth of the figure I have given—190,000—it would result in a probable attendance in the secondary schools of 32,000, which is an increase of about 12,000 over the number attending now. To put it more moderately, suppose that 8,000 children were added, the result would be this: that these schools would receive a capitation grant 378 which would then amount to £36,000, and then the fees would be reduced, as a condition of sharing the grant, to an average of £3 a head, which would yield £36,000 more. So that the result would be the education of 12,000 additional children, and £72,000 would be the amount of the grant and the fees. That is the main condition, but there are other conditions to which I may just advert which we propose to lay on those who wish to participate in the grant. One of them, as might naturally be supposed, is the inspection of the schools which are to participate, to insure the efficiency of instruction, and also of the equipment of the schools; and we should propose, to render that effective that the test should be the results in the leaving certificate examination The other condition would be to admit some element of popular representation in the management. As regards the burgh schools properly so called, they are under the School Boards, and you have the representation already in hand. In some of the burghs in Scotland there are endowed schools which have been remodelled in recent years, and there is in them a sufficiently representative element to meet what we view as the just demand of the Department in that particular. The third category of schools which I desire to come in might do so on giving the School Boards some substantial representation in the management. So far for the burghs; but it is plain that secondary schools do not cover the whole field of secondary education, and, therefore, it is necessary also to take into account the country districts. Now, here of course it is desirable to avoid the undue multiplication of opportunities for secondary education, in so far as that might lead to a waste of resources. Undoubtedly in the scattered districts there are many children who are ready and able to go forward, and yet it would be vain to attempt to bring secondary education to the doors of all in the sense in which we do it in the burghs. Therefore, it does seem necessary that there should be placed in the country districts some educational centre, where secondary education can be developed by secondary departments in the ordinary 379 school. I need not dwell upon this at very great length, because the mere mention of it will show hon. Members what is proposed to be done. It is enough to say that such secondary department would be on the same footing as regards the grant as the secondary schools to which I have already adverted. There would be in such cases a substantial revenue from fees, and also from the grant; and in such cases it would, I think, be wise and proper to provide still further encouragement for the development of this kind of education in two directions. In the first place, it would be well to admit the children who are receiving secondary education to the leaving certificate examinations free of charge. In the second place, it is proposed in certain instances—not many in number probably, but it is impossible to say how many—to graduate the capitation grant according to the number of children gathered together in any particular quarter. That is to say, if the number attending is so small as to make the cost relatively very large, there should be a larger grant per head within limits to be fixed than the ordinary grant, which I have already mentioned, of £3 per annum. The expectation that we have formed, after the consideration we have given to the proposals under this head, is that about 5,000 children, more or less, would be received in the secondary departments of ordinary schools. Of course, the figures I have given are to a large extent estimates, the result of careful calculations, with due regard to the conditions of Scotland, but they must be tested by experience.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (, &c.) Stirling
I understand that there are 32,000 children in the first class and 5,000 in the second.
§ * SIR C. J. PEARSON
That is so. The intention of the Government in making these proposals is that we should have the foundation of a really thorough organisation upon existing lines, which I regard as a very important matter. It will preserve the local initiative, and at the same time ensure a common aim and a common standard. In the Code recently issued we furnish an incentive to thoroughness in elementary education in the 380 offer of a merit certificate; and that will serve as the starting-point of secondary education. We think that, under the conditions which I have very briefly sketched, no locality and no class in Scotland will feel excluded from the advantage of this grant. I do not think I should be justified in occupying the time of the House on the other items of the Bill. We propose to give to the Universities of Scotland £30,000 to be expended according to ordinances by the existing Commissioners. The Parochial Boards we propose to treat in the manner I have already explained by giving £25,000 as a further contribution towards the cost of pauper lunatics, and £50,000 to be distributed according to valuation in the relief of local rates. With reference to the former of these two sums, I may say that a sum of £90,500 was, under the Local Government Act of 1889, devoted to the medical relief of pauper lunatics, but calculations show that the matter has advanced so much further that this sum of £25,000 is required to put things in the same position as they were left by the Act of 1889. The remainder of the sum we propose to distribute in the manner to which I have referred—amongst the County and Town Councils in Scotland, in proportion to their valuation, as the Secretary for Scotland may determine. This is a proposal which has already had the sanction of Parliament: and, as it has worked well, I do not know that I need discuss it further. The arguments that have been submitted on previous occasions, with reference to the proper mode of allocating the sum to be given in relief of local rates as between Town and County Councils, do not appear at all conclusive against the propriety and fairness of the allocation laid down in the Bill. If any attempt be made to thresh out this question with reference to the distribution of this sum of money, I think it will be found in the end that no sufficient reason can be urged for departing from the principle of distribution which has already been sanctioned by Parliament. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Lord Advocate.)381
§ (5.31.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
This Bill comes before us in somewhat a new form, or, at any rate, the financial proposals it embodies are not such as I think we had a right to expect. At the same time, I must say I think the Lord Advocate was right when he treated the question of re-arrangement of the financial proposals as substantially making no difference as regards the main objects of the Bill. He devoted his introductory speech almost entirely to an exposition of the inefficacy of the present arrangements with a lucidity for which we are grateful to him, and of the scheme under which the Government propose to apply £60,000, or rather to allot it to secondary education in Scotland; but he gave us very little information indeed—or I should say he advanced very few arguments indeed—to justify the particular sum which they have allotted to education, and the allotment of a far larger sum to the relief of rates. Now, substantially, without going into the financial change of front which the Government have effected, and without discussing the excessively complicated plan—I am bound to say a plan which at present, even with the advantage of the explanation of the Lord Advocate, I am not able to follow—embodied in Subsection 5, Section 2—without going into that, it will be sufficient for me to say, in broad terms, that the substance of this Bill is, it proposes to take the sum which falls to Scotland in respect of the grant for free education to England, and to apply it mainly to the relief of local rates. Now, why is it proposed to apply the money to the relief of local rates? That is the very first and fundamental question I have to ask. Is it proposed to apply on to the relief of local rates only because such an application has been made of a similar fund in England? Now, the House, I hope, will bear in mind how this application of the Imperial grant to local rates took its origin. It took its origin in demands made upon the Parliament which sat in 1880–85 for the relief of local rates to be made out of Imperial Funds. These demands came only from England. No such demand, so far as I can recollect, was ever made by any responsible 382 Scotch Member, and the discussions which we had repeatedly in this House between 1880 and 1885 were practically regarded as entirely English discussions, in which, no doubt, Scotch Members took part, but with which Scotland as an interested party had nothing to do. How, then, came the money to be given in relief of the Scotch rates? The Government had got the money; they found that it had been applied to a particular purpose in England, and they said they would adopt a similar course and apply it to a similar purpose in Scotland, and we have been told that the Scotch Local Authorities—the County Councils and Town Councils—said they would be glad to get the money. It would be very odd if they did not say that they would be glad to get the money. When the tempter, in the shape of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, came dangling a bag of gold before them, it would be very odd if the Local Authorities in Scotland did not accept the offer. But that makes no difference in the main fact, that this is a demand which was never made by Scotland. There has been no discontent with the incidence of the local rates in Scotland; we never asked to be relieved of these rates. All I can say is that so far as I have been able to ascertain, and so far as many hon. Members on this side of the House have been able to ascertain the wishes of their constituencies the demands made by the Scotch Town and County Councils did not represent the general wishes of the Scotch people; and, indeed, there are many of us who have had the information that, although the Councils did not think it was for them to refuse the gift that was offered, they themselves had no great eagerness in the matter. We come then to ask the question—whether this relief will be a success; will it be any benefit to the Scotch ratepayer? I shall not go again into the arguments set forth, and the figures given—the very interesting arguments and the very cogent figures—by my hon. Colleague in a previous Debate, to show the sort of relief that would fall upon the ratepayer; but what I desire to put before the House on this occasion is the fact that in making a distribution of the sum which comes to us 383 once in a way and which will not occur again, we are making it in the form of a Bill, which is intended to be permanent. It is all very well to say we can legislate again on the subject. But, not to dwell upon the difficulty of passing Bills through two Houses of Parliaments, I rather desire to ask the House to consider how great will be the difficulty at a distant period of time of taking away money which has been given to Town and County Councils. To use an old proverb, it would be as hard to take a pat of butter out of a dog's mouth as to get this money back out of the pockets of the Town and County Councils when once they have accepted it. And that is the reason why I would ask if the Government are not prepared to give way on the different requests made to them, if they are not prepared with any better scheme, that they should, at all events, consent to have this scheme for one year only, and during that period give us an opportunity of ascertaining more fully the wishes of the Scotch people, and then propose a plan that will give the best expression to their views. These are the general grounds upon which I shall feel it my duty to vote against this Bill. But there is a special ground on which I am opposed to the provisions, as explained in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which are proposed to be made for secondary education, and I put upon the Notice Paper a Motion by which I intended to call attention to that special aspect of the Bill. I have given Notice to move this—That it is inexpedient, without further inquiring into the educational needs of Scotland, to pass a measure permanently appropriating to certain specific objects in permanently fixed proportion the sum standing to the credit of the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account.I do not propose—at any rate, at this stage—to move this Resolution, and for this reason: if I did so, it might have, I fear, the effect of narrowing the limits of our Debate upon the whole Bill, which I should be very sorry to do; and, therefore, although I think it worth while to call attention to that particular aspect as being one of the most important of this Bill which has come before us, I do not desire to ask the House to debate that point. But I do wish to call the attention 384 of the House to the position in which the Bill, if it be carried, will leave Scotch secondary education. We should have expected that before a plan was laid before us—such a plan as the right hon. Gentleman has shadowed forth—we should have had some data in order to appreciate the appropriateness of that plan; that we should have had some public inquiry, by a Royal Commission or a Parliamentary Committee, into the condition of Scotch secondary education; or that we should have had a plan which set out in full, and put in plain black and white, these proposals, which, in spite of the care of the right hon. Gentleman, I have not been able, I confess, altogether to follow in his statement. But we have not anything of the kind. We have not even a memorandum to be placed before us, explaining these proposals of the Government; and we have, I may say, in coming to consider a question which is very vital to the future of Scotch education, no information practically on which to rely as to the needs of Scotland in this respect, or as to the best method by which these needs may be met. But, in my opinion, and, I think, in the opinion of nearly everybody who has considered Scotch education, I should say that the allotted sum of £60,000 was far too little for the needs of Scotch education. If we consider the several objects for which the money ought to be applied, and the needs of the localities, almost all the secondary schools are gathered together in a few large centres, so that there is a plethora here and a deficiency elsewhere; for we have to consider, not only the towns in Scotland, but the many parishes where no secondary school exists; and there are many towns where the educational difficulties are great owing to the thinness and the poverty of the population; and the amount of the salaries of the teachers of secondary schools are, as a rule, far lower than in England. Then, if we look at the greater demands which are made for continuation schools and evening schools, and the great extension which may be given to elementary education by the introduction of such a plan, we shall see that really we have no data at all for concluding 385 that the sum of £60,000 is sufficient to satisfy, or to come near satisfying, the educational demands of the country. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some interesting suggestions, and I shall presently say some words on these points; but, after all, what does he ask the House to do? He has brought forward these particular suggestions of his, and he asks the House to consider them; but he does not give us an opportunity of expressing our opinions upon any one of them. He tells us that the Scotch Education Department at present propose to do so and so, but he does not embody these proposals in a measure. He does not even lay the Minute of the Scotch Education Department before us. He asks us—to use the expression used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to give a blank cheque to the Scotch Education Department. I have great respect for the Scotch Education Department. I know it contains many able men, the Secretary especially being a very great authority on education, but I decline—and I think this House ought to decline—to follow blindly the Scotch Education Department in this matter. In order not to be too vague, I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman some points which he has not adverted to, and on which I think we want more information. I want to know whether it is proposed by the Bill to erect new secondary schools where none exist, as I understand it is not proposed to give any assistance to secondary education, except in burghs where there already exist secondary schools, or in the rural districts where they are to have superadded a secondary department to the elementary school; but it seems to omit altogether the case of burghs which do not possess at present secondary schools. With regard to the rural schools, he has told us that the Government propose to give grants in respect of secondary departments of these schools; and if I understood him aright he suggested that this should be done in rural districts not for every school, but that a certain number of schools should be selected to have a secondary department created in them, and that these schools should serve the 386 needs of other parishes, besides the parish in which they were situated. If that proposal is made—and there is a great deal to be said on the point—surely, something further is needed. Take a county. Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to choose out some six or eight centres or places where secondary schools should be erected; and that that secondary department is to be left entirely under the management of the local School Board? I submit that that would be very unfair to the rest of the county; and I think it would be an unfair application of the money which was equitably given to the rest of the county. We have in Aberdeen about 90 School Boards. The sum of money, I believe, demanded out of the £60,000 would be about £2,500. If you distribute that over 90 School Boards it would give about £28 to each School Board. Clearly that would be an improvident and wasteful way of spending money. It is proposed to choose a number of places well situated to be sites for secondary schools and to erect them there. Why should the School Boards of these places have the entire management of these schools? The other parishes in which the money is equitably given ought to have a share in it. And instead of this crude and imperfect scheme we should have a comprehensive scheme which would not only create secondary schools in burghs where they do not exist, but also establish a proper system of organisation in towns; creating Boards superior to the ordinary School Boards, and having representatives either of the surrounding parishes or from the county at large to administer the schools, which, in fact, would be schools serving the whole county. I do not find in the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman anything to show that he has dealt with that question. Now let me put another point to the right hon. Gentleman. He talked of the existing secondary schools, and he proposed where any school which is not now a school under county management and control is to receive a share of this grant, that it should admit something of the nature of a representative element upon its Governing Body. Now that is a thing which many of us are very 387 glad to hear. The House will remember that when a similar provision was made with regard to the elementary schools of England in this House, it was refused by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Are the Scotch Education Department to determine what are to be the relations between secondary schools and those schools which are not now under School Boards? These are matters which belong to legislation, and are not matters fit to be settled by a Minute of the Department; and, therefore, we are also entitled to have, I think, not only fuller information upon them, but to have the views of the Government embodied in a shape in which the opinion of the House might be taken upon it. I need hardly call the attention of the House to the fact that in the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill, passed four years ago, a County Authority was created for the purpose of administering secondary education, and the existence of that authority has been found extremely valuable in Wales. I see the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. A. H. Dyke Acland) in his place, and he will be able to give the House fuller information on that subject than I can; but I think I am correct in saying that nothing has done more good, nothing has more stimulated the people to establish new schools—than the creation of a County Authority; and it seems to me we are making a great mistake if we lose this opportunity of trying to create some County Authority for secondary education in Scotland. I do not exclude the possibility of grouping the smaller counties into one body for this purpose. That brings me to another point—the relation between technical education and secondary education. Two years ago we allowed the County Councils to apply considerable sums of money to promote technical education. Anyone who looks into the matter will see that the more you can connect technical education with secondary education generally the better for both, and that, in fact, you cannot really work technical education unless you hinge it on to secondary education. Would it not, therefore, be a mistake if, when we are going to apply a large sum to 388 promote secondary education we were to disjoin that sum entirely from the body which administer the Technical Education Grant? Surely here is another reason for having a more comprehensive scheme for enabling us to bring these two into one system and endeavouring to connect the two departments. I do not wish to enter into any discussion as to which of these plans is the better. What I submit upon the statement of the Lord Advocate is that this is a question far more difficult and complicated than can be solved by the allotment of a certain sum of money. He has shown no reason why the sum of £60,000 is sufficient. I think before we permanently determine that £60,000 or £70,000 or £80,000 is a sufficient sum we ought to have a full inquiry into the condition of Scotch education; and then a comprehensive scheme should be laid before us in the shape of a Bill. I will only say before sitting down that I hope no one will suppose that we do not look upon this question of secondary education as of far more importance as regards the poorer class than as regards even the rich middle class. I think much more could be done than this grant ever could effect to stimulate secondary education in Scotland; and it is chiefly for the sake of giving a better chance to the poorer children to carry their education further that we plead for the extension of the sum. I do not mean for a moment to exclude or disparage the other objects for which the money is to be applied. Many of them are a great deal better than applying it in the relief of rates. I desire to put the issue as between education and the rates; and I say that by applying this money to education we should do far more for the benefit of the Scottish people by extending and furthering the educational facilities open to them than by giving it in relief of the rates, which, no doubt, in the case of some Local Bodies, may be reckoned by pounds, which, in the case of the large middle class, will be reckoned by shillings, but which, in the case of the great mass of the community, will be reckoned only by pennies. In giving such relief we shall be throwing away one of the best opportunities for materially relieving and developing 389 Scotch education that was ever presented to us, and we shall be wasting the money and shall be losing a chance which in our lifetime may never occur again.
§ *(5.55.) MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
The first question that arises in connection with the Equivalent Grant to Scotland is the question whether we should give effect to the proposals of the Government by Bill or by Vote. I honestly confess that I should consider it an insuperable argument against proceeding by Bill if by so doing we stereotyped the sum of £265,000 a year, which is Scotland's present share of the grant, and if Scotland were consequently not to get the benefit of any expansion that may occur in the case of the English grant. But my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate has told us, and a careful perusal of the Bill most clearly shows us, that if we proceed by this Bill our Equivalent Grant will not be stereotyped, and that we shall get the benefit of any elasticity that there may be in the English grant. That being so, I cannot see any objection to proceeding by Bill, or any argument in favour of proceeding by Vote. As a matter of course, it stands to reason that it is absolutely necessary, in order that our financial arrangements may be useful, that they should have some degree of permanency about them. Our hon. Friends opposite who say that we ought to proceed by Vote rather than by Bill have none of the Local Representative Bodies at their back. The County Councils and Town Councils are all unanimous in asking that we should proceed by Bill and not by Vote; so are all the Parochial Boards. The School Boards of Scotland are also in favour of a Bill; so is the Educational Institute of Scotland, and so is the Secondary Teachers' Association. On the 9th March a deputation came to this House, and had a conference with certain hon. Members who are in favour of secondary education and opposed to the relief of the rates. Now, that deputation represented very accurately the feeling of the School Boards of Scotland, the feeling of the Educational Institute of Scotland, and the feeling of the Secondary Teachers' Association of Scotland. And what said 390 that deputation? They said—I can only give the account from the newspapers, as I was not present at the conference myself—they had a great dread of anything like a temporary arrangement, that they hoped the arrangements would be made not only for one year, but on a permanent footing; and then they went on to say that one of the chief difficulties which they had laboured under for many years was the great difficulty of uncertainty. The champions of secondary education in Scotland would rather have their £60,000 as a certainty than possibly a larger sum as an uncertainty. As a further argument in favour of a Bill rather than a Vote let me add that really I do not think that any of us would like to see further and constant dissension among hon. Members on the benches opposite, and we must remember that this dissension will continue year after year if we do not proceed by Bill. An hon. Member opposite said—I sincerely hope that this may be the last time we shall be called upon in this House to discuss an Equivalent Grant.Now, that hope cannot possibly be fulfilled unless we proceed by Bill and not by Vote. We must give a real permanence to the matter, or year after year the arrangements will be subjected to discussion and alteration. The Bill before us, as its name implies, provides one grant for education and another for the relief of local rates. It gives a grant of £90,000 a year to education—£60,000 for secondary education, and £30,000 for Scotch Universities—and £175,000 a year for the relief of rates. The whole sum dealt with by the Bill is £265,000 a year. Let me take, first, the grant of £60,000 for secondary education. I have listened very carefully to the words which have fallen from my right hon. Friend as to what is to be done for the rural districts. I am perhaps not quite as sanguine with regard to the success of the secondary education arrangements in rural districts as he is, but, at the same time, I think it is an experiment which is well worth trying; and in view of the fact that we get £45,000 a year in the Equivalent Grant more than we ever expected, I think we can afford to be generous in respect of 391 education. I would, however, press upon the Government most earnestly that this is quite the extreme limit to which we, as Representatives and defenders of the ratepayers, can possibly go with regard to secondary education in existing circumstances. We are receiving under this Bill what I may call the irreducible minimum that we can accept in relief of the rates, and I do not see why secondary education should get any more money out of the ratepayers' pockets. Here are a few details with reference to the Conference on secondary education which was held on the 9th of March. The deputation from Scotland was eminently representative of the cause of secondary education, and I cannot help thinking that those hon. Members opposite who are keenest on that subject must have been extremely sorry that certain points were brought out so prominently at the Conference. In the first place, there was an earnest recommendation that we should proceed by Bill and not by Vote. The delegates were wise enough to know that the £60,000 a year might be taken away from them unless they received it permanently, because it is, to say the least of it, probable that the relief of rates will become more and more popular. In the second place, it was urged that the money ought to be administered by the Scotch Education Department and not by the County Councils; and in the third, it was stated that the figures produced were based on the assumption—which was allowed to be an assumption—that 4 per cent.—merely 4 per cent.—of the children of school age were likely to take advantage of secondary education. Another point which came out at the Conference very strongly was that the rural districts were being absolutely ignored. And a further fact which also was brought out with special prominence was that there was a general haziness on the part of the hon. Members present with reference to what secondary education really was. The hon. Member for Caithness, in particular, made a very remarkable statement at the end of the Conference. He said he was determined to vote for the whole money being applied to secondary education, but he 392 wanted to know what secondary education was.
§ * MR. HOZIER
I read the reports in the three principal Scotch papers, and they all bore out what I have stated; but of course I accept the explanation. In view of the general haziness which prevailed in the minds of hon. Members as to what was secondary education, and of the fact that the rural districts were being more or less ignored, and that only 4 per cent. of the children of school age would get any benefit from the grant, I do think that £60,000 a year is quite sufficient to give for what I consider may be a very useful experiment, but one which we ought to proceed with with very great caution. Then we come to the £30,000 a year to be given to the Universities of Scotland. I confess that nothing amused me more on the Second Reading than the remarks which fell from the hon. Member for Leith. He complained that the Members for the Scotch Universities were not what he called "men of high culture." Now, of course, an hon. Member, like the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Munro Ferguson), who never was at a public school—who never was at a University, and whose sole education was that of a subaltern in the Guards, is so pre-eminently qualified to lay down the law upon every subject under the sun, and above all to tell us dogmatically what is and what is not "high culture," that it is somewhat presumptuous in us ordinary mortals to dare to differ from him, but, all the same, I would venture to join my hon. Friend the Senior Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson), than whom there is in this House no more distinguished University student, in making an emphatic protest against the language of the hon. Member for Leith. The Scotch Universities are national and popular institutions, and I think they may be fairly given this 393 £30,000, though it ought really to come out of Imperial Funds. The £90,000 to be given to education is, however, the very utmost that can be given to it; and the balance is the irreducible minimum that we, the defenders of the ratepayers, can accept as sufficient. I come now to the question of the relief of rates. £175,000 a year is to be devoted to that purpose. I am delighted to be able to congratulate the Government upon having the unanimous support of one of the Political Parties in this House—that is to say, the Party so ably led by the hon. Member for St. Rollox, who is an even greater enthusiast for the principle of "one man one Party" than for the principle of "one man one vote." The hon. Member for St. Rollox, as the accredited spokesman of his Party, put the case in such a complete form that I will venture to read his words to the House. He said on the 13th March, 1890—Now the Government have themselves taken 3d. per £1 out of the pockets of the ratepayers of Scotland for free education.Of course, that statement is not exactly accurate, but it emphasises in a rough-and-ready way his line of argument. He went on to say—It is a mistake to suppose that I and those who think with me wish to burden the already over-burdened ratepayer in Glasgow. We wish for free education in England as well as in Scotland. If free education be given to England it must come out of the Imperial Purse, and be accompanied by an equal grant to Scotland. Free education in England means the restoration to the Scotch ratepayers of 3d. per £1.I think that was exceedingly well put by the hon. Member for St. Rollox, and I hope he will act up to his words. There are also two other factors in favour of the Government proposal for the relief of the rates. First, there is the attitude of the right hon. Member for Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who first spoke of the relief as "brutal," and afterwards tried to explain it away by saying he was talking French. He said he was sorry I did not understand the French meaning of the word "brutal." Now, as a former Foreign Office man, I am quite prepared to go into a competitive examination against the right hon. Gentleman in the French language. It must, however, be in the French of France, and not in 394 the French of the Stirling Burghs—still, the French of the Stirling Burghs is not to be despised. Imagine the magnificent resources of vituperation contained in a language in which the word "brutal" is by no means an uncomplimentary adjective—why such phrases as "brutal" Balfour dwindle down to "simple" Balfour, or even "naked" Balfour. I wish to draw special attention to this matter, because we find that the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs is gradually coming more and more to our side; and I begin to hope he will, perhaps on this question as in that of Home Rule for Ireland, to use his own choice phrase, "find salvation." Then the fact also that we have the right hon. Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan) on our side speaks volumes for our case, because he, in politics, can hardly be said to be Quixotic, or likely to go far out of his way to help a lame dog over a stile. On the contrary, he would be more likely to watch which way the cat was going to jump, and then give a helping hand to that jumping cat. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite complain of the way the Government have of dangling money in front of various classes in Scotland. They say it is demoralising and dishonest, but I would ask the hon. Member for Blackfriars, who applauds that statement, why he wishes to disendow the Church of Scotland? Does he wish to dangle that money before the faces of the people of Scotland? What does he propose to do with the Church Funds? An hon. Member opposite suggested "baths" as a specially great object. "Rob religion and build baths" would indeed make an admirable battle cry. I believe that the people of Scotland were so keen for free education that they would have been willing to make some sacrifice for it. They would certainly have been willing to have free education even without any relief of taxation. How much more grateful must they be to the Government for that great boon of free education, together with a relief of both rates and taxation.
§ (5.22.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made one observation with reference to the grant for secondary education which shows that he is labouring 395 under the delusion that nothing can be done except in the form of a Bill, forgetting altogether that the whole of our elementary education rests upon an annual grant, and that it is of a permanent character. If there were one thing wanted to convince us of the propriety of dealing with this question in a provisional way for the current year, it would be the extremely crude, imperfect, and wholly unsatisfactory delineation of the plan of secondary education which fell from the Lord Advocate. Anything less complete, anything less scientific, anything less exhaustive, could hardly be imagined. His ideas are of the crudest possible character. It is evident that the Government have not formed a plan. I will now put the question again, which I raised on a former occasion—namely, with regard to the amount of money coming to Scotland under this Bill, How is it that it has not been distributed on the same principle as in England? I believe the reason is that it would increase the sum for the present year from £265,000 to £270,000; although that is a very small matter. What the Government does by this Bill is to raise the extremely difficult and thorny question of the financial arrangements of Scotland and England with regard to Imperial expenditure. Now, if the Government had appointed a Committee to inquire into that subject, I should not have said a word with regard to it; but it is clear, from the course the Government have pursued, that they do not mean to appoint that Committee. There will be no inquiry so far as they are concerned. In the course of last year the Treasury put forth an elaborate and careful statement showing, according to their view, the amount of money which was contributed to the Imperial services of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and also the amount of monies which those countries respectively obtained from the Imperial Government. The remarkable fact about that document was that on the surface it appears to show that Scotland was slightly overtaxed, and the general result of the paper was to make out that a great loss was sustained through Ireland, and that that loss fell principally upon England and not upon Scotland. Now, that is an entirely delusive theory. 396 Taking the figures of Customs and Excise, I find that for last year alone in England the total receipts from Customs and Excise was a trifle under £37,000,000. If you take the population, you will find that if England paid £37,000,000 Scotland ought to have paid a little over £5,109,000, while we actually paid £6,100,000, or more than a million beyond our proper share. I venture also to say that we ought not to be taxed in Scotland according to population, but according to population and wealth. If we take the test of wealth as shown by the taxes in the two countries, we find that Scotland paid nearly £1,400,000 more than she should have done; and if upon the figures supplied to the Government a fair estimate is made, it will be found that Scotland is overtaxed to the tune of at least 1½ millions a year, and that even Ireland is still overtaxed. This question raises much larger issues than that of this small sum of £265,000, but to show how utterly futile it is for the Government to attempt to adjust the financial relations of England and Scotland on this principle let me point to one single fact. Between the years 1889 and 1890 there was an increase in the Customs and Excise to Scotland of £380,000, so that in one year the Government obtained from Scotland nearly £400,000 in excess of what, taken according to the population, Scotland ought to have paid in Customs and Excise alone. The result is, so far as last year is concerned, that if we divide the population into families of five persons, the average receipts for Customs and Excise were in Scotland £7 14s. 3d., and in England only £6 7s. 4d., making a difference of £1 7s. 4d. for every family. These figures show that in the matter of taxation relatively our burden, measured by Customs and Excise alone, shows no less difference than 27s. per family. That is one point. My principal objection to this Bill, however, is that it takes money provided by Imperial taxation and applies it for the relief of local rates. That is an objection which has long been maintained by the Liberal Party. They have always opposed Grants in Aid, and so far as their Parliamentary power would extend they have opposed them, mainly on the ground that 397 these Grants in Aid are not really beneficial to the localities to which they are given, but encourage recklessness and extravagance. But there is one aspect to which less attention has been paid than it deserves, and that is that the granting of sums in relief of local rates is a means of shifting the burden and altering the incidence of taxation. Now the weight of Imperial taxation rests mainly on the poor; the weight of local taxation rests chiefly on the rich, and if you relieve the local rates out of Imperial taxation you are relieving the rich at the expense of the poor. That is an abstract proposition with which everybody agrees, but abstract propositions hardly have full force unless pointed with precise and with definite figures. I shall endeavour to prove my point by a brief estimate of the burden of Imperial taxation on two classes of persons—those who pay Income Tax and those who do not. The total gross amount of income enjoyed by the income tax-paying class in Scotland is, in round figures, about sixty million pounds per annum. The Government Returns do not enable us to say the number of persons who pay Income Tax, but, so far as Scotland is concerned, I believe we may ascertain it with approximate accuracy, if we assume that the number does not materially differ from the number of persons occupying houses of £15 a year and upwards. Well, Sir, those living in houses of £15 and upwards number 16 per cent. of the population of Scotland, and 84 per cent. of the population live in houses of smaller rental. In order to make a comparison between those who pay and those who do not pay Income Tax, I am going to credit the upper classes with very large payments in taxation. I credit them with the whole of the Property Tax, the whole of the Stamps and Probate Duty, the whole of the duty on foreign spirits, the whole of the duty upon wine—with, in all, £4,236,000. I also assume that the Income Tax people consume their average share of tea, tobacco, beer, and spirits. With respect to the rest of the population, I assume that they pay nothing to Imperial taxation except the average amount of Customs 398 and Excise, including the £100,000 of licences and the whole of the foreign spirits and the whole of the wines. If we do that, what is the result? The result is that you have 120,000 people paying 6.9 per cent. of their incomes in Imperial taxation; you have 628,000 people paying 12.4 per cent. on their gross income. Now, Sir, how may we arrive at the income of whose who do not pay Income Tax? I divide them into two classes, those who live in houses between £10 and £15, and those who live in houses under £10. With regard to the first, we may assume that their income does not exceed more than ten times their rent, while those who live in houses under £10 have an income which could not be supposed in Scotland to be nine times their rental. These are exaggerated figures, but I purposely exaggerate the amount of the income. Now, Sir, ought we to tax the working man upon his gross income? On the same principle that £120 is deducted from the incomes of those receiving between £150 and £400 a year, some reasonable allowance ought to be made if you are to consider the income equal for the purpose of taxation. If you take £35 as the smallest sum that should be deducted from persons under £150, the contrast between those pay the Imperial tax and those who do not is this: those who pay Income Tax pay 7 per cent., and those who do not pay Income Tax pay 22 per cent. on their net income. And there is another way in which the same result may be clearly brought out. Let us suppose that the Customs and Excise were abolished, and that Scotland had to raise this £6,000,000 by means of a national rate on the same basis as the poor rate; those who occupy houses between £10 and £15 would pay £120,000 a year as against £575,000 a year which they now pay in Imperial taxation. But those under £10 would pay £362,000 as against the £3,822,000 that they now pay. In other words, the advantage to the working class of abolishing the Customs and Excise, which is indirect taxation, and substituting a local rate, would be that that class of persons would gain £3,800,000 and would lose only £360,000. In other words, it would be equivalent to £3,403,000 in their 399 pockets every year. That follows from the nature of the different taxes. A tax on commodities is an equal tax on the pauper and on the peer, but in the case of rates a person living in a £500 house has to pay more than the person who lives in a £100 house. If the Government wish to relieve the local taxpayers, I will tell them how to apply this money. Let them reduce the duty on tea and tobacco and then the working class, forming 73 per cent. of the population, would gain over £109,000 in relief. They would obtain an average relief of 6s. 8d. per family. How much relief will they get under this Bill? They are going to get a relief of £12,500 a year, so that by this operation of diverting Imperial money in relief of local rates the Government are practically taking from the pockets of the working man the sum of £181,000. £12,000 out of £265,000 is all the working man is going to get, but the landlord is more liberally treated, and he will get £47,000. I object to this Bill and shall vote against it, on the ground that to apply money obtained from Imperial taxation to local rates is a process which takes money out of the pockets of the working man and puts it into the pocket of the richer ratepayer. With regard to the £50,000 that it is proposed, to give to the Parochial Boards, I should prefer that that money should go to providing bursaries or scholarships for the education of poor boys in secondary schools or in the Universities. In respect of the £1,000 which it is proposed to give County Councils and the Town Councils, I have indicated sufficiently that it is impossible to select a more iniquitous object to devote Imperial money to than the relief of the richer persons and the large landowners. Therefore, there is only one course, and that is to give to the County Councils and the Town Councils a wide discretion as to the mode in which this money may be used, especially to enable them to provide for a great many objects of genuine public utility for which they have no power to impose a rate at present. There are a large number of such questions. There is, for example, the question of providing relief for unemployed workmen in times of distress. 400 It is most desirable that Town Councils should have at their command other resources than charity which may be available, to enable them to make some provision in times of distress for the unemployed. Then there is the subject of providing pensions for old age and the insurance of fatherless children. Then, Sir, there are the provision of public parks and public halls, and public places of recreation, and free gymnasiums, the establishment of art galleries and public libraries, and in the counties there is the important subject of allotments, and the provision of means for stocking those allotments. There is, in fact, a large number of objects of undeniable public utility which differ in their application to different localities, so that when this Bill gets into Committee I will give the Government an opportunity of satisfying all the objects to which this money might be beneficially employed short of providing for the rates. To give the money to the rates will be a gross and a clamant injustice. It is a shocking thing to find the working man taxed 30 per cent. on his gross income. Certainly the Government are most unwise in setting a precedent of this kind, a precedent which may at no distant day be used as an instrument, not for the purpose of taking money out of the pockets of the poor and putting it into the pockets of the rich, but taking it out of the pockets of the rich and giving it to the poor.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
I am afraid it is a very daring thing for an English Member to intervene in a debate of this kind; but as more than once the question of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act has been referred to, we, who are interested in secondary education in Wales, look with great hope to Scotland to see that she will continue in the front rank in educational matters, and will continue to set an example of a progressive character. The present proposals of the Government, however, do not seem to me to show that Scotland is going to be able to maintain her pre-eminence. With reference to money, our position in Wales is more liberal than that which Scotland will occupy under this Bill. We have a 401 one halfpenny rate, the Treasury grant, and the drink money, all of which have been allotted to the purpose of secondary education, and the result is that we have in Wales between £60,000 and £70,000 applicable for that purpose of secondary education. Scotland is three times as large as Wales, and, therefore, if Scotland were doing what we are doing, there would be a sum available for secondary technical education of £200,000. In founding the secondary schools in Wales, we have applied to the localities to help us, and they met our request by providing considerable local funds for the erection of schools in which the Act is to be worked. Before the work is completed, I expect that we shall have £100,000 for buildings and sites. If Scotland were doing the same work, she would have £200,000 per annum, and a capital fund of £300,000. One other point of a fundamental character in connection with our work is this: that it has a local initiative, and is not controlled by any centralised Department. If, when the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill was brought in, we had been told that the money would be given by an Order to be laid upon the Table at some distant date, those interested in Welsh education would not have looked at the scheme. I have tried to follow the Lord Advocate, but I am not clear now how this money is to be allotted. So far as I understand the Scotch Education Department, and not the localities, are to have the initiative.
§ MR. A. ACLAND
I do not see how the local initiative can come from the School Boards; you want an independent body representing the whole of the counties to consider all the public representations, and to consider what may or may not be the best kind of scheme. That is how we have proceeded in Wales. We have gradually settled schemes for each district. If we had acted without this full local inquiry I think we should have entirely failed. I venture to say that this bureaucratic, this centralised system, is altogether unequal to 402 the necessities of the case. The whole experience of a poor country like Switzerland and a poor country like Wales turns out to be that in many cases, especially in rural districts, you must group your children together if you are to give them secondary education of the fullest and best character. You cannot, by alone teaching the higher branches in elementary schools, give them the same opportunities as where you have one large school with teachers told off to each section, instead of making one or two teachers teach a number of subjects, thereby overtaxing them and not giving the children the same opportunity as if they are in one school, grouped together and taught by separate teachers. Whatever may be the method, the essential thing is that each district or county shall be consulted, and that the matter shall not be settled in any Central Education Department, who cannot possibly know the needs of the locality when the inhabitants of the locality have not yet put their heads together to find out what their needs really are. I venture to say that even some Scotch professors have already seen that this centralised system would be a great mistake. I have recently read an interesting article by Professor Laurie, of Edinburgh, in which he strongly protests against this proposal of what he calls bureaucratic centralisation. I venture to say that though we proceed slowly in Wales we are proceeding soundly; and while we certainly should have looked at a scheme such as that which has been expounded by the Government to-day, we should rather wait for two or three years and get a good Act, an adequate supply of money, and fair treatment; allowing us to act in an independent way. On the other hand, we are well under the control of a Central Department. When we submit our scheme to the Charity Commission, and have a united public opinion, then I am bound to say that the Charity Commission is not able and is not willing seriously to alter that which we have made up our minds to. Nobody would be more willing to testify to the enormous value of those local inquiries than 403 the Charity Commissioners themselves. It is with the feeling that we have more money than Scotland, as offered by this Bill, and that local inquiry and initiative, as distinguished from centralised action, is vital to any successful scheme of secondary education, that I venture to hope, in common with many Members on this side of the House, that this proposal will not be accepted as in any way complete or satisfactory.
§ MR. A. R. D. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
I have great sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member who has just spoken; but I would point out to him that we are not discussing a Secondary Education Bill—we are discussing a Bill for the satisfactory allotment of £265,000 to Scotland. And I would submit, without any hesitation, that one of the first objects which the Government should have in allocating this money is that it should be allocated on some general plan; that it should not be allocated to any small class; but that they should try to make the relief go to as large a number of persons as possible. If the money must be raised from general taxation, let the relief be general and wide. In regard to education in Scotland, I hope we shall not go down from our high standard, as compared with other nations of the world, but when does it happen in Scotland, particularly in the rural districts, that any financial advantage you may give in order to assist University education benefits the inhabitants of those parishes? Very seldom indeed. I ask the House to consider what you really do for the poorer parts of the country by adding to the advantages of University education. I am not crying down University education in the slightest, but I ask the House to consider how often in the poor parishes of Scotland the people have obtained to the extent of a single penny any part of the money which has been given to University education, and the same thing applies in the case of higher education. I am in favour of doing all we can to perfect our system of secondary education in Scotland. But who are the people who in the main benefit by our excellent system of secondary education? They are not extremely poor 404 persons, or those who live in the rural districts. Therefore, I think the Government are right in not devoting the whole of this money entirely for the benefit of secondary education, and I support strongly a general distribution of the fund. Let us make the best use we can of this national fund which is at our disposal for various purposes. We have lately got a very large amount in the case of primary education. I agree with a great deal that has been said by the hon. Member who spoke before me, as to whether there should not be some central authority between the Parochial Board and the Department in London. I think this is a matter which deserves our careful consideration. I support this proposal of the Government simply on the ground that they are making a general distribution of the money. They are helping University education very largely—£30,000 a year is a considerable sum—and £60,000 a year is not a contemptible sum for secondary education when we consider that we are a limited class of the community; and the bulk of the money is really being bestowed on a much larger class than would appear from what has been said. Therefore, on all these grounds, I support the proposal of the Government. As far as I can judge, this scheme is heartily supported by public feeling in Scotland. I have had representations on the subject from various public bodies and representative authorities, and I do not think I have had one single representation which does not really, with a considerable amount of heartiness, support the Government proposal.
§ *(7.15.) SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
The hon. Member who has just sat down seems to forget the whole history of University education in Scotland. The very spirit of education in Scotland has been to connect the lower schools with the higher schools and with the Universities, and the very glory of Scotch education has been that it has been accessible to the poorest of the country, and that the sons of Scotland have been able, by the education they have received in their native country, to succeed in life not only here but all over the world. Therefore, 405 when he speaks of University education being extended to a limited class, or secondary education being extended to a limited class, he does not know how many of the poor of the country are really attending the Scotch Universities. Very often more than half of the students in some of the Scotch Universities are of the poorest class of the community, who have got to the Universities either by their own earnings or by means of bursaries and scholarships, for it is carrying out the traditions of the Presbyteries of old, who always searched for boys of pregnant parts in their parishes, and sent them by bursaries and scholarships to the Universities to do honour to the education of their country. Therefore, when he talks of any portion of education being devoted to a special class, he is totally ignoring the history of the country. I would call the attention of the Government to the fact that they are not carrying out by this measure the plans which always prevail where new educational funds have been given to Scotland. When you are giving £60,000 for the promotion of secondary education in Scotland why do you not appoint, as has been done for the Universities, a Statutory Commission in connection with the Local Authorities all through the country in order to ascertain what are the wants of these Local Authorities, and have ordinances regulating the best application of your funds? But you have not done so; on the contrary, you have given the whole allocation of the sum to your central Education Department. I have no doubt that Board will act according to its lights, but its lights are not those by which education is being spread amongst the people of this country. A great deal of the money which has been applied and is to be given to the County Councils of England has been applied for the promotion of technical education, but all the ideas of the Education Department of Scotland are simply for the old-fashioned education, and not for extending a useful technical education to different parts of Scotland in the same way as is being done in England. As long as you have a Central Department with 406 an extremely able Secretary, you will have education going through one groove instead of consulting localities as to their wants and ascertaining whether those wants could be met by the allocation of certain money. It is proposed simply by centralisation to give the money without proper local co-operation. I do not deny that in burghs you may have local co-operation, because you have Corporations to deal with; but how are you going to do that with regard to the rural districts in Scotland? You have separate School Boards for each parish, and that is not proper local co-operation. You ought to have unions of parishes, with a proper secondary school, and a useful technical school. Therefore, I think when you go into Committee you must be prepared for our proposing an Amendment in order to obtain more local co-operation, more local supervision, and less centralisation with regard to education. We see Wales, with only one-third of the population of Scotland, giving a splendid scheme of education through the County Councils. You must not be surprised if in Committee we support the hon. Member for Aberdeen when he proposes that a certain amount of money should be applied to carry out the principle which is the vital principle of Scotch education. There is nothing in this scheme by which the ladder of education is to be carried, as it has always been carried in Scotland, from the lowest schools to the secondary schools, and from the secondary schools to the Universities. There is no organisation which joins the whole, although it is this junction of the whole from the lowest to the highest that has always been the distinguishing feature of Scotch education. The Bill, I think, is a crude and ill-conceived Bill, and I hope, before it goes through Committee, we may be able very much to amend it.
§ (7.25.) MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
This Bill has been discussed very much as an Education Bill, but it seems to me to be more of the nature of a Financial Bill, and a very bad Financial Bill to my mind. It aggravates what is already the existing and growing evil of throwing 407 upon the Imperial Funds what are properly local burdens. It calls itself an Education and Local Taxation Relief Bill. Well, I do not know on what principle education has been put first, unless it has been on the alphabetical principle, and I can hardly suppose that the Lord Advocate would endorse that as a principle in constructing the title for his Bill. If he were sincere in putting education first, he would be more anxious about education than about local taxation relief. That seems to me to be in reality what was called by a famous character in literature a derangement of epitaphs, for, as between the two subjects of education and local taxation relief, what the Bill does is to give a smack in the face to education, and a pat on the back to local taxation relief. The arithmetic of the Bill only needs to be looked at to show this. At present, from the local taxation account of Scotland, educational interests have an income of £344,000, and the rates have an income of £381,000—i.e., the rates are at the present moment ten per cent. better off than education is. But under this Bill they are to be altered as follows:—Education will have out of the Local Taxation Account £421,000, and rates £562,000—i.e., the rates will now be 33 per cent. better off than education; in short, the original advantage that the rates enjoyed over education will be more than trebled by this Bill. It teems to me this financial aspect is more emphatic than these educational recommendations. I say this is really making bad worse. To devote Imperial money to education is perfectly consistent by itself, because education is a matter of Imperial concern and of universal benefit; but to devote Imperial money to local purposes is an indefensible abuse. Local rating may not be on a satisfactory footing; there are many persons who are not paying who ought to pay, and many persons who are paying ought to pay a great deal more; while others are unfairly dealt with; but to take Imperial taxation, which is half paid by the working classes, and return them a fourth or a fifth, and to give three-fourths or four-fifths to the better classes is 408 simply doubling the original wrong, besides giving a very disastrous lesson to Local Authorities in general carelessness. The true remedy for any error in local rating is not to deal with it in this irregular and anomalous fashion; it is to reform local rating, and make the right people pay the right rate and the right amount of that rate. I decline on the present occasion to regard the arrangements of the Bill as permanent, and I support the proposal that we should either go against the Bill, or support some Motion or Amendment for limiting its operation to one year. Perhaps, by that time, there may be a state of matters in this House which will allow of attacking the anomalies and disadvantages of the local rating system and creating a true and scientific system of national economy. The Bill seems to me in several ways to be disadvantageous to educational interests. Free education still remains to be developed and made permanent, and the Bill, instead of doing anything to fill in the incompleteness of free education, offers no encouragement to it, if it does not positively discourage it. At present free education gets out of the Licence and Probate Duties a revenue of over £277,000, and the Bill names the sum of £265,000, which may probably be less any year, according to the variation of the English grant. That is suggesting that free education in Scotland is too well off by more than £12,000 a year. We who are acquainted with the facts know that it is by no means too well off, and that in many quarters it has to eke out a precarious living. It is true that free education will get what happens to be left in the local taxation account, but if that should fall below £265,000, and the Licence and Probate Duties fall below the fee grant, free education is left out in the cold. In the Bill £165,000 is fixed for other objects—in addition to £365,000 given by other Acts to the same objects. I should have thought that in this Act, at all events, they would have said that whatever loses, free education shall not further be endangered. No one can say that in the most important aspect of national education this measure does its duty as an Educational Bill. It is 409 reactionary with respect to technical education. It restricts the Town and County Councils in dealing with the £100,000, more or less, which is to be given to them. Such residue as there is of this description is to be used exclusively for the reduction of their rates, and in that respect it is a falling away from the Bill of 1890, which gave them the option of devoting it to technical education. The fact that that option is taken away is not only astonishing but alarming. In the ratio of 25 to 20 the Urban and Rural Authorities of Scotland have preferred to give the residue from the Customs and Excise to technical education, rather than to fling it into the gutters. The worst blow the Bill proposes to deal at education is the bold proposal to divert £175,000 of the Licence and Probate Duties to the relief of local rates, leaving only £90,000 for education. The iniquities of this proposal have not been sufficiently noticed by preceding speakers. If the Bill gives £265,000 with one hand it takes away with the other; it takes away two-thirds of our rightful share of the free grant of £175,000 and uses it for fixed non-educational purposes, thus leaving only £90,000 for secondary and University education. I want to know by what right, or principle of equity, or justice, or history almost, the Lord Advocate takes this away from us? It is admittedly ours by right, and we, being the owners, choose to devote it to educational purposes. I want to know by what right the traditional defenders of the highest rights of property propose to take away the elementary conception of property, that when a man has property he can do what he likes with it? Leaving us the one-third shows that the Government feel they have no right to take the money, and if we have a right to one-third we have a right to the whole. If the Government say we have the Equivalent Grant, I say we have a right to both, and it is for us, and not for you, to say what we should do with it in both cases. The Bill puts educational objects in the wrong order of importance, and to that extent is a discouragement and not an auxiliary to education. I would say all I could in favour of devoting money to secondary 410 and University education; it is a proper devotion of public money to what are national purposes. Let them be made as accessible to the intellectual ability of the poor as to that of the rich, and we have an unmixed blessing. But there are educational claims even antecedent to these. The true order of educational claims is that of national necessities; the order in which one is more necessary to national conditions than its successor, and on that footing they should be supported by national money. I range them thus: first, free primary education; next, evening or continuation schools for the great mass of the people to carry on such education as their opportunities allow; next, technical education; next, what is called secondary education, as I understand the sense of the term; and last, University education, to finish up the matter perfectly. We have, at this, one of the most serious junctures and important crises in the history of our country, to consider the question whether this great endowment shall be wisely used, or, to a large extent, wasted and frittered away. We have sufficient money at our disposal to organise education in this way in Scotland, and to make it a complete system; complete in the education it gives, and the assistance it affords to poor but meritorious ability to approach the fountain of knowledge. The Government made one great financial blunder in creating the evil of assisting local burdens by Imperial funds, and in the little contribution they have given towards education they have begun at the top instead of the bottom of the ladder; and they have made a second mistake in restricting even the little portion they have saved out of the general wreck to the fourth and fifth branches. On these grounds I hope almost against hope that some impression will be made on the Government, so that if they will not do their duty by the entire sum, they will be led to give more liberal assistance in the direction in which, in my opinion, this money can only be profitably expended. The people of Scotland do not put very much value on the distribution of the small amounts in the way it is proposed to deal with a large part of 411 this money. There are, I am sorry to learn, people in Glasgow, if they are properly represented on this point, who seem to wish for a lower, less honourable, and, in the end, less profitable distribution of the money. The great mass of the people, the working people, however, know perfectly well that threepence or fourpence in their pockets in the year is not for one moment to be compared with the erection of a splendid system of popular education, popularly devised; they think that the highest interest of any nation is the intellectual and moral elevation of its people.
§ (7.48.) MR. J. P. SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
I think the people of Scotland will feel that one pound is as good as another pound, whether it be called a Free Grant or a Probate Grant, and I do not see the financial objections of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I think he is under a misapprehension as to the Free Education Grant; whatever happens the grant will be the same as that paid now. The Debate has been very much an education Debate throughout, and no one except the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) has gone into the general figures of the finance, and there one cannot follow him on the spur of the moment. It seems to me, he says, that a man having a £10 house, with 35s. a week, and taking 10s. a week for the minimum for the necessaries of life, would have 25s. a week left, and he would be taxed to the extent of one-third of this, or 8s. a week; if he consumes two pounds of tea, a half-pound of tobacco, and a half-gallon of whisky.
§ MR. HUNTER
The figure is the average for those between £10 and nothing, and in the case of the £10 it would be more rather than less.
§ MR. J. P. SMITH
I was simply giving the case as it occurred to me. The method of division between counties and boroughs will be more conveniently raised in Committee. The main point of the Debate has been the question of secondary education, and it seems to me that this opportunity has been taken, and that a scheme is being worked out which will go a long way towards meeting the needs of Scotland. In the Bill it is a very skeleton scheme, and we can hardly criticise it without 412 further time for consideration. One needs to compare it with Wales. I have read the Reports of the Conference under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. A. H. D. Acland), and I was almost ashamed to do so. We in Scotland thought we were leading in educational matters, but we have been left behind in secondary education by Wales. What strikes me most in Wales is to see how the hon. Member and his friends have succeeded in calling out local enthusiasm, working through local agencies, and waking the feeling of the country to the necessity of secondary education for the benefit not of the few but of the many. I do not know that the things which suit them in Wales will suit us in Scotland, as circumstances differ to a considerable extent. We have been accustomed to secondary education in our parochial schools, and have no such things as elementary schools. The success of the Dick and Milne bequests in Aberdeenshire shows that much can be done in this direction by having extra teachers in country schools. By this means you would meet the requirements of the rural districts for a proper share of attention. I do not think, however, it is a fair expression of the opinion of the people concerned to say that the rural districts are being neglected. In regard to secondary education, it seems the difficulty will be to do the work. The big towns are perfectly capable of doing it, but I am afraid there will be waste if you take simply the basis of the parochial district; to take counties and form an Educational Committee for the county as in Wales, would probably be the best way. But where you have large counties it might be well to take such groups of parishes as geographical circumstances favoured. You want full power of combining. By establishing committees of this kind you will get warm and enthusiastic support, and vigorous work as in Wales, and you should give both secondary and technical education into the hands of these committees. To make technical education anything more than mere manual facility, you must have some 413 secondary education to base it upon. At present the thing is left very much at large; money is put into the hands of the County Councils, and they act as if all that is necessary is to say fiat lux and technical education would spring into being. You will have to consider local circumstances because this money will certainly not be enough to meet the development of secondary education. You must get more money and that you can only do by stimulating localities. You will get a certain amount out of fees, but you must arouse interest in the matter as in Wales. You do not find this interest in County Councils in regard to secondary education. The County Council of Renfrewshire, of which I am a member, voted the money to the relief of rates, though there was a motion to devote it to technical education. There is another Welsh precedent we might follow with advantage. That is the power to rate counties for purposes of secondary education. Under the Act of 1878 Scotch School Boards have power to spend money out of the rates on higher class schools, but I should like to have that power extended, so as to remove certain restrictions in spending it. If that were done we might further follow the precedent, and have the sum raised met by corresponding sums from the Treasury. We might also desire for Scotland part of the draft Treasury scheme for developing the details of the Welsh Education Act now under discussion. It proposes to make a Secondary Education Board for Wales, which shall have representatives from the County Councils, from the University Colleges, Jesus College, Oxford, the head masters and teachers of different schools, and it is to have a general control over secondary education throughout Wales. It has considerable discretionary power of regulating between the different County Boards. Such a Board might with advantage be formed for Scotland, with power to regulate the grants to different counties, because the main objection to any system of local distribution is that some counties, as Edinburgh and Glasgow, have already enormous endowments, and we should like to see the benefit spread 414 over the whole of the counties. I should like to see a Central Board arranged with the power of controlling matters according to the real convenience of the people without regard to mere geographical distinctions. Then, again, I regret that the burghs and counties have not the same liberty that they had under the legislation of 1890. Under that authority they had the option of spending the money either on the relief of the rates or on technical education. I regret that as the Bill stands at present they have not the same power, or a wider power, because I should like the new Bill to include technical education as well as secondary education, and to give the County Councils and the Town Councils power to divide it between those purposes. In the counties at present the grant is divided—£16,000 going to technical education, and £7,000 to the relief of the rates; and in the big burghs the Town Councils devote £8,000 to technical education and £3,000 to the relief of the rates. In the small burghs, where the money is given out in driblets, it is being wasted, because it affords no relief to the rates. When a small burgh receives a sum, say, of £5, what can it do with that for the purposes of techinal education? You should establish a system which would enable the benefit to be spread over the small boroughs and neighbourhood round about, and then you would no longer have the inequalities you now see—namely, that the counties and the big burghs devote three times as much money to technical education as they do to the relief of the rates, and the small burghs spend ten times as much on the relief of the rates as they do on technical education. This Bill is being generally accepted in this House, and still more in Scotland, as a compromise. The Municipalities came here originally when this scheme was first put forward to demand the whole, but now they say they do not want more than £150,000. The Parochial Boards asked for half the sum to be divided; now they are all petitioning for this Bill, and say they do not grudge the money spent on education. The School Boards asked for £75,000, 415 and now there is no grumbling over the £60,000 that is proposed, and I have not heard a word of complaint with respect to the Universities. What all these bodies want is a final settlement; they do not want to have this question raised year by year, and I am sure Members of Parliament are the last people who would desire to be beset by importunate suitors, as we have been for the last two months. For my own part, I should have liked to see the money rather differently divided; but the country is prepared to take it fairly as a compromise and accept the scheme.
§ *(8.39.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
This Debate has been somewhat varied in its character, and has ranged over a variety of subjects. That was natural to expect, because the Bill itself is one which deals with a variety of subjects, and embraces within its limits a considerable variety of topics. With regard to the financial part of the Bill I will not say anything except this: that I think it is a mistake, and a bad system of finance, first to raise money that you do not want, and then not to know how to distribute it—to send it down to the Local Authorities for them to scramble for it. That is practically what has taken place, not only in the present year, but ever since this system of finance was inaugurated by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer some years ago. I think that not only shifts the responsibility, which he ought to bear, off himself, but it places a responsibility upon the Local Authorities which they ought not properly to take on their shoulders; and in the result it is certain to lead to a good deal of waste and extravagance. The Lord Advocate has said hardly anything regarding the Grant in Aid to the Town and County Councils, and he has said nothing at all with regard to the sums to be granted to the Parochial Boards for distribution. I am not going to occupy the time of the House tonight by discussing what has been so often discussed before—the crudeness and the wastefulness of these proposals, of simply doling out sums of money from the Exchequer to the Local Authorities to be given in aid of 416 rates. The gift of £25,000 in aid of the charge for pauper lunatics represents a proposal which on the face of it has most to recommend it; but I was somewhat at a loss to discover on what ground that sum of £25,000 was fixed upon. The Lord Advocate stated that it was necessary to make it proportionate to the demands made by those who are to administer this fund at the present moment; but the additional amount which they are asking now is, so far as I can make out, entirely out of proportion to the increase in the years previous to 1890. By referring to the Report of the Lunacy Commissioners for Scotland, I find that the amount of the charge for this purpose was in 1875, the first year in which the grant was made, £60,000; in 1882 it had increased to £80,000; and in 1889 it increased to £90,000. There is a growth, therefore, for the first seven years of £20,000, for the second seven years of £10,000. The rate of increase had declined, and during the second seven years was not more than £1,500 per annum. Unless some facts can be set before the House and the country to show that there has been lately a very abnormal increase in pauper lunatics—either in the number of pauper lunatics, or an abnormal increase in the expense of maintaining pauper lunatics—it seems to me very extraordinary and very unaccountable that the Government, after the lapse of only three years since the contribution was fixed, fixed on such a large additional sum as £25,000 to give in aid of the charge for pauper lunatics. The Lord Advocate did not explain on what ground that increased sum was fixed, and I think we should like to get some further explanation on that subject. It appears to me that the Bill, not merely with regard to the educational proposals, but with regard to some of its other proposals, is somewhat crudely drawn, and that the sums to be given to the Local Authorities have been fixed more by the rule of thumb, and to satisfy importunity, rather than in accordance with a careful investigation of the real wants of the Local Authorities. Upon the subject of the aid to be given 417 to Town and County Councils I shall merely say this: that the Town Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow have undoubtedly demanded that the sums which they asked for to be given in aid of local taxation should be given to them with a free hand, to be applied by them to such urgent local purposes as may come up requiring special aid. As to the unanimity of opinion among Local Boards with regard to the distribution of this money, of course when you put down a large sum of money for Local Authorities in Scotland or elsewhere and say—"I am willing to give you this money, if you ask me, in reduction of the rates; and the more you ask the more you are likely to get," you are certain to have a unanimous desire on the part of these authorities to obtain as much as they can from the Public Exchequer; but it does not in the least follow that the constituencies of these Local Authorities are equally anxious for the money being given from the Public Exchequer into the hands of these bodies for the abatement of rates. As a single instance of the somewhat different interest taken in the subject between the Local Authorities and the constituencies of these Local Authorities, I may mention that during the last Town Council elections which took place in Edinburgh in the beginning of November last—though there were contests, and very close contests, in all the wards except one in the City of Edinburgh—not a single question was asked from any single one of the candidates as to what he proposed with regard to the distribution of this money. In Edinburgh, and Glasgow also, and in Aberdeen—I am not sure about Dundee—there are a considerable number of public bodies, like the Trades Councils, who are desirous of getting this money primarily for education, and naturally for the aid of that education which they feel the most need of, and which most immediately comes home to them. Their demands have been first that absolute security shall be given not for the present, but for the future, that the sum shall be sufficient for freeing all the elementary standards—that there shall be no risk of any failure of the funds in the hands of 418 the Central Authority; and, secondly, their demand is that aid shall now be given to evening schools and continuation schools when money is available. From what I have seen of the evening classes at present being carried on in the School Board schools in Edinburgh, I think that if anything can be done—if there is any money available for the further promotion and encouragement of secondary and higher education, those children who show such zeal in attending these classes for the purpose of obtaining instruction in the various subjects after their business hours have, at any rate, the very foremost claim on any aid that may be given. Since we heard the Lord Advocate's speech, just as before it, I think we must all come to the conclusion that the money offered is too little for any really good secondary education scheme in Scotland. The sum of £60,000 is very small compared with the sum of £36,000 which Wales, with a much smaller population and educational needs, gets from the Public Exchequer at this moment. We have got no properly elaborated scheme for organising a scheme of secondary education in Scotland; and no information has been set before us by which we can criticise even the skeleton details laid before us by the Lord Advocate. I think we have a fair cause of complaint against the Government on this score. The first question I have to ask in this connection is, when will the Minute of the Scotch Education Department be issued? Before we go into Committee on this Bill we ought to have this Minute of the Scotch Education Department before us, that we may be able to judge what are the proposals of the Government with regard to secondary education. I should like to ask the Lord Advocate one or two questions—Is there any definition of secondary education, and who is to make it? We ought to have some idea as to what this secondary education is to be, and I should also like to ask the Lord Advocate whether he will explain to us what his proposals are in regard to it? Then, again, who are to select the schools in the country districts to which this secondary education is to be given? 419 Next arises the question as to the principle which is at the root of the Lord Advocate's proposals—namely, the mode in which this money is to be distributed—whether by a local or by a centralised system? I would urge the Lord Advocate to make some modification in his proposal, so that the scheme should not be worked in particular districts without the full sympathy and support of the Local Authorities. I have been told that the Municipal and other Local Authorities have had no difficulty in working out their scheme in Wales; and I am perfectly certain there would be no difficulty in doing it in Edinburgh and Glasgow. So far also from the County Councils not being, as the Lord Advocate stated in his speech, a convenient basis for educational arrangements, they have shown themselves, if anything, more enlightened than the smaller Town Councils with regard to educational interests in their distribution of the residue grant under the Act of 1890. Altogether the general conclusion to be drawn from the figures on the subject is that the large School Boards and the large County Councils are bodies which can safely be trusted with the distribution of this grant.
§ (9.12.) MR. SHIRESS WILL (, &c.) Montrose
The character of the support which has been given to this proposal of Her Majesty's Government is somewhat remarkable. The Bill gives the Government an opportunity of applying the money to some tangible and useful purpose; but instead of taking advantage of it, they propose to throw the money into the sea—to give it in reduction of rates. There are many good purposes for which it might have been used, and one of those purposes is undoubtedly education—not only that known as secondary education, but also technical education. Although the Government recognise the claims of secondary education, they propose, without rhyme or reason, to fix the amount to be given for it at £60,000, which we on this side of the House say is utterly inadequate. Another objection is that the Government propose to 420 put the whole matter under the control of the Central Department in London. Notwithstanding what has been said by the hon. Member for South Lanarkshire, the £60,000 for secondary education is unquestionably stereotyped by the Bill, and I have been unable to gather from the speech of the Lord Advocate what are the reasons of the Government for doing so. If I followed the Lord Advocate rightly, some 12,000 children in the burghs and 5,000 in the rural districts will get the benefit of secondary education. Reckoning that at £3 a head that will amount to £51,000, which, with the cost of inspection, will absorb the whole grant. Now that we are dealing with secondary education, is it right to fetter it at the commencement in this niggardly manner? Surely it would have been better to allow some elasticity, so that the movement for secondary education might be allowed to grow as it certainly was destined to grow. I think the arguments of the hon. Member for Partick with regard to placing secondary education under the control of the Central Department in London deserves some answer from the Government. It has been said by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, "Oh, this is not an Education Bill, but an Allotment Bill." I deny that entirely. It is an Education Bill, although you may have starved education in it. The hon. Member for Roxburgh said that it was a distribution of money from general sources. That is a fallacious argument. The money is obtained from Imperial taxation in order to reduce local taxation, and you are taking away a large proportion of the distribution from those who have obtained it—namely, the working classes—and given a greater proportion to the wealthier classes. For these reasons no one has been able to justify the proposals contained in the Bill.
§ *(9.24.) MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
The hon. Member who has just sat down must know that this Bill is founded on compromise, and consequently the Government had no opportunity of making heroic proposals. The speech of the hon. and learned 421 Member for Aberdeen was more in the nature of an academic lecture on taxation than a speech on the Bill before the House. It was so full of figures of the most complex character that it occurred to me that the hon. Member was qualifying for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Home Rule Government which he wishes to set up in Scotland. I may say, however, if I had had the disposing of this money, I think I should have been inclined to have used it in a different way to that the Government proposes. In the first place, I do not think that the grant to the Universities is one which should have come out of what I may term our own money, but should have come out of the Consolidated Fund. I should have been inclined to have given a larger sum to the development of secondary and technical education, and more particularly technical education. There cannot be the slightest doubt that foreign countries are far ahead of us in regard to technical education—especially the Germans. I happen to be interested in an industry in which dye forms a very important part. A few years ago the dyers of this country found it impossible, under the system prevailing in it, to get colours to stand the test of the sun and of sea-water. Well, to Germany, and to Germany alone, are we indebted now for having solved that difficulty. I think it is a great reproach to this country that Germany should be so much ahead of us in technical education, and I should like to see largely developed in this country a thorough system of technical education. In my own constituency I have received no end of petitions and letters in favour of the Bill, and I have not had one adverse to the proposals of the Government. For this reason I feel bound, whilst regretting that technical education is not receiving a larger sum of money, under this grant, to support this measure.
§ (9.28.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
The hon. Member who has just sat down says that he feels bound to support the Government in regard to this Bill, but he does not approve of 422 their proposals as to how the money should be used.
§ MR. THORBURN
I said I regretted that the Government had not proposed to use the money in some other form.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
My hon. Friend has spoken of petitions in favour of the Bill. Now, I can give him some information with regard to them. The petitions are stereotyped, and have been issued by a Central Authority. In the City of Aberdeen it was proposed that those grants should be applied to the reduction of rates; but a very strong public feeling arose against that proposal, an election of the Town Council took place, and since the election the proposal has not been further pressed. With respect to the deputation of teachers which waited upon the Scotch Members in support of the dedication of the money to technical and secondary education, the gentlemen composing that deputation said they only represented the secondary teachers and the School Boards, and they conspicuously did not represent the rural districts. In respect to the necessity for secondary schools, they said £75,000 was the minimum which would place the existing secondary schools in a satisfactory position. Being interrogated it came out quite clearly that no calculation had been made with regard to the county parishes and the rural districts. Therefore, if you add to the £75,000 which they declare to be the minimum sum necessary for the purpose of equipping existing schools, and putting the teachers in a proper position—if you add to that the rural districts, and what I am most anxious should be taken into consideration, namely, the institution of evening continuation schools throughout the rural districts—it is perfectly clear that the sum of £60,000 is altogether inadequate. It is quite humiliating that Scotland, which has gloried in its interest for education for generations past, should be approached with the idea of giving it pro rata—about one-fourth—to secondary and continuation schools of 423 the sum which has been found to be absolutely necessary to similar work in Wales. The Lord Advocate said nothing about evening schools, and it is not disputed, that unless you have evening and continuation schools, you necessarily exclude a large proportion of the population from receiving any benefit from secondary education whatever. Now, Sir, something has been said about the 12,000 young people attending secondary schools. If the right hon. Gentleman will go to Aberdeen he will find that in Robert Gordon's College over 2,000 pupils are receiving instruction in secondary education, either at day schools or at evening schools. I never heard anything more humiliating than the proposition that only four children per hundred are to go beyond the compulsory classes. I quite admit that we have, by the existing system of education, forced the number down to the very lowest possible point by the pressure we have put on the elementary education. We have turned our teachers so entirely on to this that they have neither the opportunity of teaching, nor have the young persons the opportunity of attending, the schools as they used to do under the parochial system, and what we want to see is that the money is not in those districts given away for the benefit of one or two children. In each school throughout the country we really want a system of secondary education. In that scheme we shall be entirely missing the mark in regard to the demands of Scotland, unless we have evening schools both for secondary and for technical education. Now, Sir, what sum of money is necessary for the mere inception of technical education? There are laboratories to provide, workshops are wanted for applied mechanics, and the other expenses which are unavoidable show that nothing like justice is possible unless we have a sum of at least £200,000. We have outlived the state of things when the Mechanics' Institutes, provided by the benevolence of the people, supplied what was requisite, and what we now want is encouragement and assistance as regards the highest stages of education. There are a considerable number of boys and girls of brilliant 424 intellectual parts to whom it would be an advantage if they received continuing education at evening schools. How is that to be provided? If they had the best secondary schools within their reach, the parents of these children are placed at this disadvantage: that they cannot afford to dispense with their wages; so that if these children are to have a chance, it must be by opening bursaries and scholarships for which they can compete. Now, Sir, this £60,000 will do no more than supply this purpose, and this purpose alone. The hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for the University of Aberdeen (Mr. J. A. Campbell), takes broad and enlightened views of educational matters, and I should like to know if he thinks it a fitting thing for the people of Scotland to give away £50,000 in the reduction of rates which will not benefit anybody except the landlord and the capitalist, and that at a time when education is languishing, when Scotland is not only getting behind the Continent, but behind England, and, indeed, last in the race in which at one time she was first. Surely, Sir, there ought to be some increase of this paltry sum of £60,000, which is to be devoted to so enormous a work. Ever since the Act of 1872 Scotland has complained that secondary education was being neglected. Now, here is an opportunity of putting things right. Here is a quarter of a million of money which nobody in Scotland has sought — because the Scotch people are altogether opposed to Grants in Aid—and as there is no general demand for its application in any other direction, let the Government come boldly forward and say that they will spend the money in founding a scheme for the universal abolition of school fees in all elementary schools and for putting within the reach of every boy and every girl in every rural district and parish in Scotland that secondary education which is now essentially necessary in all branches of industry. Now, Sir, as regards the grant of £30,000 to the Universities, I think the money ought to have been provided from some other source, justice being in the first instance done to those educational institutions which 425 are the feeders of the Universities. Respecting the system mentioned by the Lord Advocate of secondary education with a graduated fee, I object very much to the introduction into our educational system of any such arrangement. Even in the Universities these vicious distinctions have been abolished, and it will redound to the honour of the Government if they do not countenance their revival, but take the step which I have suggested and make education free and available to all.
§ (9.55.) MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
The majority of the Party opposite are against the grant of this money altogether, at any rate in the way that it is proposed to be allocated. I do not think, with all submission, that that is the opinion of the country. My hon. Friend who has just sat down seemed to think there is a desire to revive distinction between two classes of society. The time has gone by when that can be called a vital question. There is no practical distinction in education. The well-to-do farmer is quite willing to send his children to a better academy than the Board school. The labouring men would do the same thing if they could afford it. My hon. Friend appears to think that £60,000 is all the money that Scotland has, or will have, for the purposes of secondary education. If my hon. Friend chooses to examine into the case of the different towns throughout the country, of which not one word has been said, he will find that in many counties and burghs there are large sums available for the purpose of secondary education. This £60,000 is only to be a helpmate to those funds. It was thought, the Lord Advocate said, only 5,000 would attend the schools in the rural districts. My experience is that since you have driven children of five years and upwards as hard as you can into learning, they do not pursue their studies beyond the Sixth Standard except in large towns and large parishes. It would be absolute folly for the Government to give in the first 426 instance large sums for secondary education when there is nobody to take advantage of it in the rural schools. In the towns it is no doubt different, and there are greater means provided for these schools than is the case in the country districts. I cannot think this is throwing money into the sea in order to relieve the rates in every county or burgh, and, I am perfectly certain, if you poll Scotland to-morrow you will find the vast majority of voters taking this view that they should get under this Bill a large sum for the relief of rates. I received letter after letter and petitions from Local Authorities in Scotland, both urban and rural, urging that the House of Commons might vote a large portion of this amount to the rates. In regard to technical education I am bound to say that it is a very difficult matter to carry out a scheme for such education. I cannot for a moment blame the Government for hot devoting a portion of the fund to this particular branch of education. We have tried it in two of the southern counties of Scotland. In company with others I attended many meetings, and we had a scheme sketched out which was thought would be very advantageous. One county rejected it altogether. In the other county we got a considerable portion of the amount voted for technical education. But the country is not ripe for this yet, and you want a large district in which to work out the problem. You want classrooms, professors and lecturers, and a general system which cannot be set up in one day. In due time I hope it will be the case that we shall have such a system, but we are not in a position to talk much about it seeing the country has not taken it up at the present time. A great deal has been said about the Scotch Education Department in Edinburgh, and its being moved up to London. As far as my memory goes it was the Party opposite who were in favour of having it in London. I have spoken on a hundred platforms in favour of non-centralisation, and of having the Education Department in Edinburgh, and not in London. But now that a change has taken place, and seeing we have got a most able Secretary of the Scotch 427 Education Department, we may well rest satisfied when we are in his hands that this money will be well spent and well looked after. There is one point in regard to secondary education I would press upon the Lord Advocate. There can be no doubt, if we had more money, we could set up separate schools in every district in order that the parents might have their children educated without incurring the cost of sending them a distance. It would only be in large centres, and large centres are often too far removed from the habitations of the working-classes, that you could have those technical schools at present. What I would like would be to give a certain sum to each school in certain districts, which would go to pay the teacher, and enable the head teacher to devote his time and ability to secondary education. If that were done it would bring secondary education within the reach of many persons who cannot now afford to send their children a distance of several miles. I know there is a system by which a School Board or the Board of Education could be formed extending over a wide district, that Board having committees of three or four members. And if there were something of that sort in Scotland more impartial justice might be obtain in distributing this grant. I cannot suppose that a centralised Body in London could actually say where this grant would be required or not required; but there might be a Board in the locality who could suggest to the centralised department in London as to where the money might be voted. In that way you would promote secondary education very largely. I shall conclude by thanking the Government for bringing in this measure. It is a measure which I cannot conceive anybody will seriously oppose. I can conceive hon. Members opposite having a grudge against the Government because they have manipulated the financial affairs of this country in a wise and statesmanlike manner, and to complain that it is only on the eve of a General Election they find they have £265,000 in hand. But, I do not remember the Party opposite ever having such a 428 surplus to give away to a legitimate object even before a General Election. I cannot conceive anyone who can really oppose this Bill. I can conceive hon. Members in this House taking a stand against it and criticising the proposals of the Government, but I have heard nothing to-night to alter my opinion in any way that this Bill is a good Bill and one likely to benefit the country. The hon. Member for Montrose called this a stereotyped sum of £60,000. I suppose he has not taken the trouble to read the Bill, for if he had read Sub-section 6 of Clause 2, he would see it is no such thing. It is possible this fund may grow and in that case the £60,000 will grow with it. At the same time I would urge upon the Government that the £30,000 allocated to the Universities might have been found somewhere else, and that that sum might have been added to the £60,000 for secondary education. But with that one exception I am satisfied on the whole with this measure, and, I think the reception which it will meet with in the country will be highly satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government.
§ * DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
It is a pity that my hon. Friend who has just sat down allowed Party prejudice to influence him in charging hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House with being actuated by a grudge against the Government for their success in manipulating the finances of the country. But I thought the term he used was a happy one. He said the Government had this sum at their disposal. They have not; but, as a matter of fact, they are going to raise taxes in Scotland in order that they may have it at their disposal. The Government have adopted what I think is a thoroughly vicious course in raising a tax for some object which they had not defined before raising it. We cannot, however, remit taxation; we cannot remodel the finances of the three Kingdoms, because Ireland has also to be dealt with, and we must deal with the money taken out of our pockets as best we can. Well, the hon. Member allowed his Party spirit, of which he accused us on this side of the House, to run away with him in his historical reminiscences, for it was not a Liberal 429 Government that removed the Education Department from Edinburgh, it was done by Mr. Disraeli, who was then Prime Minister. The question is, what shall we do with the money? As to the primary question whether it should be disposed of by Motion or Bill, I am decidedly in favour of the latter. Some hon. Members talked about throwing money into the sea, but there is nothing of that sort in the Bill as I understand it. I have no doubt you will get some value for the money proposed to be spent on secondary and University education, for the Universities are the most important technical schools we have. But the proposal to devote the money to the relief of the rates is less open to the charge of throwing money into the sea than any other proposal in the Bill, though the money taken from the taxpayers' pockets will not go back in the same proportion. The poorer classes will be most heavily taxed towards the Equivalent Grant and receive less in the shape of remission of taxation, but they will get something. The question is, whether any proposal has been made by which they would get more than in that way? It is said that remitting rates is simply putting money in the landlords' pockets. I can only say that if there is any proposal to increase the proportion of the rates to be paid by the landlord he opposes it tooth and nail, while the tenant heartily supports the proposal. It is said that the smaller ratepayer will get no appreciable benefit. Will the small ten pounds householder in Glasgow get more than half-a-crown if the money is devoted to any other purpose? We have plenty of money for secondary education in Glasgow, and there is also plenty in Edinburgh; and then what benefit will the small ratepayers in those places get if the money is devoted to secondary education? The proposal to devote the money to the relief of taxation was made last Session, and there have been eight or nine months for people to express their opinion, and that opportunity has not been allowed to slip by those who thought they could put in a claim to the money. If it be true that there was no general agitation in favour of its being devoted to the relief of the 430 rates, it is equally true that there has been no general agitation in favour of its application to secondary education. What do hon. Members mean by secondary education? The hon. Member for Aberdeen talked about it, and then launched into technical education. Another hon. Member referred to the necessity for a higher class of secondary education because of the superiority of Germany, through technical education, in fabricating dyes. That is not what the right hon. Gentleman means by secondary education. The only speaker who appreciated this secondary education was the right hon. Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), who feared that if it were left to the Education Department it would resolve itself into the old-fashioned secondary education of Latin and Greek, which few think of such pressing importance as to be worth the expenditure of a quarter of a million of money raised by taxation. As to the ratepayers, the poor workman who lives in a house of above £4 a year would directly benefit by the remission of taxation to a greater or lesser extent. Below that rent the rates are paid by the landlord, and I do not know if he would take the amount off the rent. But those who live in the £4 to £10 houses are often very poor, and in many cases the rates have had to be reduced by 2s. or 3s., because they cannot possibly pay them. It may be said that 1s. or 2s. is a trifle, but it is always something, and is much more likely to be appreciated than secondary education, especially by persons in a town where there is plenty of secondary education, than even secondary education given for nothing, which he cannot avail himself of so far as his children are concerned. People in such poverty cannot afford to send their children to secondary schools. The right hon. Gentleman said that only one out of six children between the ages of 13 and 16 were likely to attend these schools. Which of the six? In nine cases out of ten the richest. As a matter of fact, secondary education is a luxury the poor cannot afford, and unless you enable them to support themselves, or to make a revenue out of education, I do not see how you can do much good in that 431 connection with it. I think all the speakers are agreed that we should have some idea of how the £60,000 is to be spent. We know how the money devoted to the rates is to be spent, and though Parochial Boards have been sneered at there is much to be said in favour of allocating a large portion of the money to them. The incidence of parochial rates is practically the same in boroughs and county, and in making any remission of rates you adopt the simplest machinery by giving the money to the Parochial Board. If you give them the money you know what they must do with it. I do not care how the money is given, provided it is given in the way which affords most relief. If the inhabitants of the counties desire secondary education so much let them have it, but in the large cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, where we have ample, and more than ample, funds for the purpose, both of technical and secondary education—if those funds were well managed—it is absurd that we should have this fresh grant thrust down our throats when we do not want it. If this £60,000 is awarded according to population, Glasgow, which has a population of one-sixth of the whole of Scotland, would, I presume, get £10,000. Why should our £10,000 be appropriated to a purpose for which it is not required? It may perhaps be said then this money need not go to Glasgow, let it go somewhere else. But I contend that if the money is to be divided on the principle of population Glasgow is entitled to £10,000, and why should we be taxed for the benefit of other places? I do not see why you should not make the proposal more elastic, and if we do not want this money for one particular purpose let us have it for another. I do not see how you can carry on this system of secondary education in the sparsely peopled districts, and the only possible way of overcoming the difficulty is to enable the population to reach the efficient secondary centres. But I must say that, for many reasons, I think the best way in which this money could be applied is to the relief of the rates.
§ *(10.34.) MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
432 I do not propose to hold the balance between the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow and his friends around him. My object in rising is to respond to the appeal which the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire did me the honour to make to me. I agree with all that has been said in favour of continuation schools and with all that has been said in favour of technical education, and if this were an opportunity for doing all that was desirable for education of all kinds I should support hon. Members in standing out for assistance both for continuation schools and for technical schools. But it seems to me that many hon. Gentlemen have made the mistake of treating this measure as if the Government, in introducing it, were acting with an entirely free hand in the way of assisting education. This is not primarily, certainly it is not exclusively, an education measure, and this money with which we are dealing came to us, when we remember its history, with what I may call a certain presumptive destination in favour of the relief of rates. Last Session there was a general movement in Scotland to secure the whole of this money for the relief of the rates, and I regard the proportion—which is complained of by many hon. Gentlemen as contemptibly small—which is proposed to be given to education as so much saved by the Government from the relief of the rates. I should have been glad if this Bill had proposed a larger sum for education. The sum of £60,000 for the assistance of secondary education would well bear to be increased to at least the sum that has been asked for by the Educational Authorities in Scotland, which is £75,000. If the Government can see their way in Committee to add £15,000 to the £60,000, taking it from the Parochial Boards, for instance, I should be very glad. At the same time I think this sum has been spoken of in an unnecessarily contemptuous tone, for hon. Members should remember that £60,000 is £60,000, and not only that, but it is £60,000 more than we have at present; and although it may not do all that is desirable, I have no doubt it will do a great deal for the 433 furtherance of secondary education. I was not able entirely to follow the scheme which was sketched out by the Lord Advocate, and I believe we shall not be able thoroughly to understand it until we see it in the form of a printed Minute. But this feature in it was commendable, that it proposed to build upon existing foundations and to proceed in something of a tentative fashion. Some objection has been taken to the proposal that the Education Department should have the setting forth of the regulations under which the money is to be distributed; but it appears to me that that is rather an advantage than otherwise. The Education Department is to do this in Minutes to be submitted to Parliament, and in such Minutes I think there is more elasticity and less stereotyping—more liberty for alterations and improvements—than if the details of the plan had been embodied in a Bill. Members have asked what is meant by secondary education; but I think we had from the Lord Advocate some indication of what the secondary education is to be. It is to be education suitable for youths of from thirteen to sixteen years of age; it is to be something that is to follow the standards of the Code. I trust that this will be kept in view by the Education Department, that wherever secondary education is organised there will be a satisfactory staff, a satisfactory standard and a satisfactory curriculum, and that nothing that does not comply with these simple conditions will be recognised as satisfactory. Local organisation is certainly necessary to encourage the institution of higher departments in the rural schools, and I hope the time will soon come when that organisation will take a better form. I should be very much pleased to see the interesting experiment that the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. A. Acland) described as so successful in Wales applied to Scotland, but we cannot have it all at once, because we have not the appliances or the material for instituting such a system at present, but there is no reason why, under the system sketched out in connection with this Bill, we should not come to that before very long. Objections have 434 been raised by some hon. Members to the grant of £30,000 to the Scotch Universities on the ground that the money ought to have been taken from other sources, but it appears to me that the Government, in saving something from this sum which was provisionally destined for the relief of the rates, have thought of what was most in need of assistance. No doubt secondary education was more in want of assistance than any other branch of education in Scotland, for what has been done of late years for primary education has rather thrust secondary education back than assisted it. And again, the Universities Act which was passed by Parliament the other year throws great additional expense on the Universities, and without some further assistance it would be impossible to carry out the object of Parliament in passing that Act. Therefore, it was of very great importance to have that assistance for the Universities at once. But in supporting this proposal I hope that I may be permitted to put in a caveat against being supposed to accept this as payment in full of what the Universities have a right to seek from the country. The Universities are national institutions; they are also popular institutions; and we do not know what their position may be in the future, or what their circumstances may be, so as to give them a claim upon the Imperial resources; and whatever we do now must be understood as not shutting the door against applications afterwards should circumstances arise to render such application necessary.
§ *(10.43.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (, &c.) Stirling
I do not entirely share the view of my hon. relative who has just spoken, but I am glad to find that he does not give that cordial and sweeping approval to the whole of the scheme of the Government that has been expressed by only one Member who has spoken. My hon. relative can speak with as good authority on educational questions in Scotland as any man, and he agrees with us that a larger sum ought to be given to higher education. He is not frightened by the difficulty of defining secondary education, and he agrees with us, at least, I agree with him, that 435 this sum which is to be given to the Scotch Universities ought not to be considered as a final grant for that purpose. But I would point out to my hon. relative that once he votes for this Bill and for the clause in it which gives £30,000 to the Universities, he will have precious little chance to get any more money for that purpose for many years to come. I will endeavour to bear in mind that I took pretty full advantage of my privilege of speaking on the introduction of this Bill, on which occasion I urged many objections to it. And I can say with perfect honesty of this measure—using the classical phrase which Sir John Burgoyne employed as he gazed upon the fortifications of Sebastopol—the longer I look at it the worse I like it. In the first place, there is a difficulty about the amount we ought to receive; and I must say that I have seldom studied and considered a measure of so intricate and confusing a character. There are different funds, and sums are changed from one to the other, until at last it is difficult to see under which particular thimble the pea is to be found. I think it is almost perfectly impossible accurately to explain the particular meaning of some of the sub-sections of Clause 2, Sub-section 5 especially, as compared with Sub-section 6; and I think, in the painful ingenuity of these proceedings, it is easy to detect the master-hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am rather astonished and not a little sorry that, during the discussion to-night, though we have had the presence of the Lord Advocate and his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not been here. Now, the attack that has been made upon the proposals of the Government in this Bill has really been much more an attack upon the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer than upon the policy of the Scotch Office. I doubt very much whether the Scotch Secretary or the First Lord of the Treasury would have thought of giving this large sum of money for the relief of the rates in Scotland, because they know very well the position of Scotland and the opinions of the people of Scotland; and they know that it has never been formulated as a general desire until it was 436 suggested to the people of Scotland by the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have urged that this should be made only a temporary arrangement, either by proceeding by Vote instead of Bill or by making the Bill to be effective only for one year; and I admit at once that there is a great deal in the argument that is used that any uncertainty as to the sums to be allotted to them would cause inconvenience to the Public Bodies who were to receive these sums. That is obvious. But the reason we argue for a temporary arrangement is this: that this is obviously, on the face of it, a mere make-shift arrangement, and that it is nothing short of ridiculous that we should stereotype it for all time as the best arrangement that can possibly be found. Undoubtedly, last year we hoped that the Scotch people would indicate to us some particular object for which this money might be used. We have received no such indication; and, therefore, we must make the best use we can, for the time, of this money. It is on that ground most undesirable that we should fix it for all time, until we had an opportunity, at any rate, of seeing whether some better disposal might not he arrived at. There are two or three of the objects of this Bill to which it is proposed to apply the money which are entirely good in themselves, and of which, in themselves, I approve There is, in the first place, the sum which is to be allocated to the Universities. I approve of that money being given to the Universities; but what I say is, it ought not to come from this source. This is a special windfall coming to the Scotch people, and they ought to use it for some special purpose. The money that is due to us for the Universities is a debt owing to the Universities, and ought to come out of the monies voted by Parliament in the ordinary way. Well, then, I come to the proposal for £25,000 being given for pauper lunatics. Again, I say, it is a purpose for which I approve money being given. We do not receive our proper share of money for this purpose, as compared with England; but what are we doing? That, again, is money which ought to be voted by Parliament in order to 437 establish something like equality between the two countries; and in the case of England it is a movable quantity, a sum which increases according to the expenditure of the Local Bodies, whereas this sum is to be fixed and stereotyped by being embodied in this Bill. The third purpose for which the money is, I think, properly applied by this measure is the purpose of education. I was astonished to hear my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division (Dr. Cameron) take up the argument which has been used before, founded upon the supposed ignorance of what secondary education is, and drawing a distinction between secondary education and technical education. I assure my hon. Friend, when I speak of secondary education, I include technical education. By secondary education I mean, as I think it was defined by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth on one occasion, education which is beyond the usual standards and beyond the usual age of children, whether it be technical or of any other kind; and in that sense I do not think there is anything either very fossilised or objectionable in the idea of higher education. But we object to the Vote for education, because the sum is insufficient to begin with—obviously and broadly insufficient. If the thing is to be done let it be well done. We have undoubtedly fallen behind in Scotland in this matter of the higher education, of the intermediate education, or whatever name by which it may be called; and when we have this large sum to deal with we should give a large part of it for the purpose of setting secondary education on its legs again. Different proposals have been made by my hon. Friends. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen has urged very forcibly the claim of evening schools. I am myself not so much concerned about the interests of thickly-populated parts of the country or of the inhabitants of towns as I am about the interests of the inhabitants of rural districts, who at present are very much left out in the cold in these matters; and undoubtedly it is by evening schools, as much as by anything else, that good may be done for them. In these rural districts to which I have referred, if there is one thing which I should have thought should be very 438 clear that ought to be the local control. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate said that the schools in the rural districts were, as I understood him, to be under the control of individual School Boards; but what is wanted now is a very clear statement of the intention of the Education Department as regards the rural districts. There is to be a higher department in the ordinary schools, but not in every ordinary school. Well, but we must have some authority in the county, some proper authority responsible to the public, to say in which of the ordinary parish schools a higher department may be most conveniently set up; and in order to choose properly between separate small parishes, I think it would be most desirable to have an authority representative of, and responsible to, the public, which would command much more confidence on the part of the Scotch people than any Minute whatever from the Scotch Education Department, however ably conducted—and undoubtedly it is ably conducted—that Department may be. But now the right hon. Gentleman has detailed to us, in a most interesting speech, a general scheme for the application of this money. We listened to it as best we could, and followed it as best we could; but I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that, at least before we get into Committee, we should have some of the data upon which he proceeded. I would ask him to present, as a Return to this House, a Paper by which we can study the main heads and lines of the scheme, if we cannot have the actual Minute of the Department—because without that we are really moving very much in the dark; and I think that nothing would conduce more to facilitate, and therefore to accelerate, the discussion and the progress of this question than our being placed in possession of the particulars to which he referred. It is proved, in fact, by the Debate that we ought to have that information. There is one phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman to which I have a great objection. He said "free places" would be given in the schools. That is an old friend of last year. Last summer we heard of "free places" being given in certain schools where the 439 fees were not to be altogether abolished in England. Nothing, to my mind, is more objectionable than that some of the scholars should be ticketed as free scholars. That is an unfortunate distinction. We have attempted to meet the case in Scotland by the use of bursaries which the children can compete for, and which involve no direct degradation but an honour to those who secure them; but the idea of having a few places set apart as "free places" for the children, like the "free seats" provided in churches, is, I think, inconsistent with that spirit of equality that ought to prevail among the children who are being taught in the same school. Having disposed of the third of the objects which I think are good objects upon which the money is to be spent, I come now to the fourth object, to which I cannot give the same praise. The balance of the money is to be handed over to the Town Councils and County Councils for the relief of the rates. Well, even my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division—while he supports the Bill—admitted that there is some evil in it; that it is not a sound method of administering local affairs, and also that the money which is raised from the working classes will not return to them, in the shape of advantages, in the same proportion as it is taken from them; and that injustice will be done to them in the matter to some extent. But I have already said that this idea of the relief of the rates is an English idea altogether. It was not known or thought of in Scotland until this Fund was created, and until it was known that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to give it to the Scotch people for this purpose. I have on previous occasions expressed my views on this subject so strongly that I need not repeat them now. I will only suggest that if the Government have not been able to discover any better object for which this money should be applied, they should, even at this hour, give it to Town and County Councils to do what they like with it. We have heard a great deal about the unanimity of Local Authorities in favour of the proposal of the Government, but I should like to point out 440 that the Town Council of Edinburgh has asked that this amount should not be specially assigned to go to the relief of rates, but that they should be allowed to use it for any purpose for the general good of the community to which they found it could be well applied. If this suggestion to give a free hand to the Local Authorities were adopted, it would, in my opinion, largely modify the excessive hostility which is felt to this part of the measure. The Bill as a whole is so open to objection—what is good in it is so badly done, and what is bad in it is so objectionable—that I am bound to say I will gladly give a vote against it. But that does not involve the rejection of the money. I do not want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have this money merely to swell his balances; I wish to see it applied to some Scotch purpose more useful and more beneficial than that which is proposed. Therefore, in protesting against this Bill—which is all we can do under present circumstances—we protest against the scheme and the method by which this money is proposed to be applied, and in doing so, notwithstanding what has been said, I am satisfied that we shall have the support of the great bulk of Scotch opinion. I have no fault to find with the Town Councils and County Councils and Parochial Boards who have memorialised in favour of this Bill; they have only been doing what it is their right and their duty to do in asking for a large share of the money; but I think that the more enlightened of them will gladly accept the modified proposal which I have suggested—namely, that the money should go to them without the restrictions which the Government would would impose.
§ (11.6.) THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Bute
The ambit of the Debate which has taken place has been rather a wide one; but nr the observations I have to offer to the House I shall attempt rather to follow the logical order of the topics dealt with than the particular order in which the speakers came. First, I think, comes the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen. He began by waving the flag of a national grievance, and by 441 suggesting that the first thing we had to find fault with was that Scotland does not this time get quite enough money. He based his arguments upon some figures which he had collected for himself, because he saw no hope of getting them from the Committee. I need not follow him through those figures, it will be enough to say that the proportion fixed by the Treasury officials has been borne out by the experience of three successive years. Further, the matter has not been concluded once for all. By the words which now find a place in the Bill it will always be left open till the House comes to a more perfect state of knowledge than it at present possesses. Now, the amount is described as £265,000—Or such other amount as Parliament may determine having regard to the amount of the fee grant under the Elementary Education Act, 1891.Therefore, if the determination of the Committee on the Financial Relations of the three Kingdoms—the appointment of which, I think, has been delayed by the wish of the Welsh Members to rush into the fray rather than by any action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—should make for the result arrived at by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen rather than the figures brought up by the Treasury officials, Scotland would get the credit of those different figures. Having settled the amount of money with which we have to deal, the next question is what we have to do with it. I need not remind the House of the way in which this Fund has come into existence. The result of the particular genesis of the Fund has been almost to earmark it as one to be apportioned, at least to a certain extent, to the relief of rates. It has been said that this plan of Government Imperial Funds in aid of local rates is a plan which is unsound, and which has never been countenanced by the Members from Scotland. To that argument I entirely demur. When once you have adopted a general policy, I cannot admit that it is to be departed from at the request at the Members for one part of the United Kingdom. So far from these proposals being put forward as a bait by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 442 they have been pressed upon him by deputations from Public Bodies, and I can only admire the ease with which Members of the Opposition discount the views of elected bodies when they do not approve of them by saying either that they have lost their mandate, or that upon the question at issue they do not represent the people. Nor can I admit that in this case money has been taken out of the pockets of the poor and put into the pockets of the rich. It has been said that the £100,000 of License Duties are contributed by the rich, and also the moiety of the Probate, amounting to £160,000, making altogether £260,000. The sums given in "bare, naked, and brutal" relief of the rates under the Acts of 1888 and 1889, and under this measure, including the £25,000 which has been given to enable the Lunacy Boards to treat lunatics more generously, amount to £210,000, compared with the available £260,000 which it has been said is the contribution of the rich. Now, Sir, there was a second argument used against the proposition of the Government. It was said—and the matter was more developed on the First Reading than it has been to-day—that the amounts, when you come to consider the actual relief, are so shabby and trumpery, amounting to a penny or twopence, that it was really throwing money into the sea. I entirely demur to measuring the usefulness of a reduction of rates by this penny arithmetic to find out how much the rate actually comes to on anybody's property; and I think I may certainly appeal with confidence to those hon. Members who have had something to do with municipal administration. Take as an instance the great City of Glasgow; experience has shown that when that Municipality sets itself to arrange its taxation, it is not guided and governed so much by what I may call the statutory limit on each particular tax, but it is guided by the rough and ready idea: what will the rates come to? In the long investigation we had connected with the neighbouring burghs, the thing ever fixedly kept before the eye and in the mind was this: what the total amount of the rates would be. Therefore, Sir, when you are given an enlightened 443 Municipality—and it does not lie in the mouths of hon. Members to say that we are not dealing with enlightened Municipalities—when you are giving them this money you are really giving them a free hand to go on with their various schemes of improvement without having their good endeavours throttled by the feeling that they would raise the rates beyond the given amount. There are many rates which go for the use and the benefit of the poor man, and the poor man entirely. Take a rate like the improvement rate in Glasgow. There an immense work was done, at very great cost, by what I may call the Hausmannising of Glasgow. The real gainers were not the wealthy inhabitants, but the working men, owing to the dens and slums being cleared away. You really give an enlightened Municipality a chance of going on in that way when they would be otherwise fettered if you gave them money to be applied in the reduction of rates. Now, Sir, the next point is as to the £25,000 to the Parochial Boards. I have told the House the justification for that in answer to a question addressed to me by the hon. Member for Caithness. Next, Sir, we come to the Universities, and there, again, I really need not detain the House, because there has been undoubted unanimity to-night; I do not think anybody has grudged the sum set aside for the Universities. The hon. Member behind me has reminded me of the extreme good fortune that puts it within the power of the House at this time to apply money which makes a certainty of practical success of that large measure of University reform that was carried by the present Government. I say also that there again we are doing truly national work, although I think one hon. Member rather misunderstood the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roxburgh. At the same time, I entirely agree with him that the Universities of Scotland are truly the possession and the appanage of the poor. Now, I pass to that portion of the Bill on which much of the Debate has ranged, as to the provision of a certain sum of money for the purpose of secondary education; and here, Sir, I would like to say that it seems to me 444 that there has been a fallacy which has lurked behind and has penetrated many of the arguments used by gentlemen opposite. This is not an occasion on which the Government are coming forward to the House with a scheme which they themselves consider, or which they wish to be considered, as a complete scheme of secondary education. This is an occasion on which, there being a sum of money at their disposal, and there being a widespread and openly-expressed desire on the part of the people of Scotland that secondary education should be given a fresh trial, they have seen their way to ask that this money should be devoted to that object. The only test it was fair to ask the Government to meet, and it was fully met in the speech of my right hon. Friend in introducing this Bill, was that the Government were bound to show that the sum they ask the House to devote was sufficient to make an adequate beginning, and that the plan should be so far sketched as to show that it was not an illusory but a practical plan, which could be carried out with the money that it is proposed to devote to that purpose. Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), although he did not for the reasons he stated formally move the Amendment standing in his name, at the same time indicated in his speech that one of the reasons why he did not approve of the Government proposal in favour of secondary education was that he thought any measure of this sort ought to have been preceded by some sort of inquiry into the resources of the country. I already indicated why, from the Government point of view, no such inquiry was necessary. The Government were only called upon to answer two questions, and these two questions have been answered. The first question is: Is secondary education wanted? Sir, the tone of the Debate shows that, in the views of all, secondary education is wanted. Then the only other question is this: Are there funds already available sufficient to meet that want? There, again, I think the answer is not in doubt. No doubt we have in Scotland very many endowed schools which have lately been dealt with under an Act and under a 445 Commission; but I think we are all agreed that these endowed schools and their funds are, in many instances, tied up according to the wishes of the pious founders, and are not available for any national system of education. Next comes the question, if we want secondary education, and there are not funds enough, and we propose to supply these funds, who are the parties to carry out this scheme? There, again, I think this Debate has exhibited a curious feeling of distrust on the part of hon. Members opposite to the Scotch Education Department. I cannot help again expressing my wonderment that so many of those in whose speeches I have found an extraordinary desire that the State should step in and manage everything yet, when they have any department created, grow somewhat jealous and frightened of it. These hon. Members have got an extraordinary love for their unborn children; but when they come to birth, they turn upon them like the paternal rabbit and devour them. Sir, the Committee of Education in Scotland was the creation of the Liberal Party in 1872. The House knows how it is appointed; and if the prophecies of gentlemen opposite are true, before these arrangements can be carried out, they will be in a position to nominate the Members who are to have the supervision of this scheme. Now, I indicated before that the Government have fairly met the question of whether the plan they have put before the House was a practical plan. I think that the figures given by my hon. Friend behind me show that it is a practical plan. One hon. Gentleman spoke—I think it was the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Esslemont)—as if that plan only dealt with 4 per cent. of the children, but the figure 4 per cent. was not given by the Government, but by another speaker, and the Government proposal is calculated on 16 per cent., not on 4 per cent. of the available children. It must be kept in mind that this scheme, such as it is, will all be embodied in a Minute, and that Minute will be laid upon the Table of the House; and if there is anything wrong in it, it will then be within the province of the House to put the matter right. It is impossible that a scheme of this sort should rise fully armed 446 like Minerva in the shape of a Bill. The great thing is to make a beginning; and when that beginning is made, and you see something of the practical working, then the House will be able to have that control of the matter which hon. Members would seem to wish. If this works well, there is no reason why more money should not be got. I am not looking forward to any such change, but certainly it will be in the power of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, should they find themselves in a majority, to obtain money from other sources. The hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate said he had no desire to attempt to get butter from a dog's mouth. I suppose the difficulty does not arise in respect to dealing with the dog—but then butter melts; but I imagine he will foresee no difficulty in supplementing this money as occasion offers. And now I pass on to a few other sporadic criticisms on the scheme which have been addressed to the House. One hon. Member has complained that there is no provision for erecting secondary schools. Well, of course, our object is a modest one, and we begin by utilising existing schools; and in regard to those burghs which do not possess such schools they will be treated exactly as counties in the formation of educational centres. Then it has been said that all School Boards should have to do with secondary education, that one should not be picked out; but surely, the arrangement being made with due regard to the requirements and ages of the children, there is no grievance in the fact there is a School Board contiguous which has no hand in the government of the school, seeing that the whole thing will, after all, be subject to the Central Authority? Then from several hon. Members there have been claims put forward in the interest of technical education. Of course, technical education is viewed in different senses, but taking it in its ordinary sense I think it must be a matter of common agreement, first of all, with a modest sum of £60,000 we cannot go in for any scheme of technical education; secondly, technical education is a matter which ought not to be mixed up with the Education Department at all. It seems to me 447 the Education Department are not the proper supervisors of such things as cooking and butter-making. It is rather in another direction we should look for assistance to technical education. Without pledging ourselves, we are anxious to meet the wishes of Public Bodies, and, therefore, with reference to what the right hon. Gentleman opposite has said, we shall certainly gladly consider any proposition that is made to us by Public Bodies, through Members of this House or otherwise, to allow a certain amount of elasticity in the way they should deal with the money which is to be allowed primarily to be applied to the reduction of rates. Then it has been said that the great object to be kept in view is the benefit of poor children. Now, there it seems to me the strong point of our scheme comes in, for as hon. Members will have gathered from the details given by my right hon. Friend, these poor children are to be assisted by having free places allotted to them. I know this drew a storm of criticism from some hon. Members, but I do not sympathise with the remarks about the stigma attaching to a person who, sending his children to school, has a certain amount of assistance given him. I am not aware that any stigma attaches to those who go to Eton or the foundation at Winchester, but I am aware that most distinguished men have had assistance in their education there. For the assistance of poor children only two other alternatives offer—the total abolition of all fees or a system of bursaries. We cannot face total abolition of fees for all schools, and for my part I must prefer a system of free places to the creation of bursaries. Then the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Shiress Will) objected to the stereotyping of this particular sum, but I may remind my hon. Friend that in such a case as this, as in making a testamentary arrangement, it is usual and convenient to have a residue clause after stereotyping other arrangements. On another point I may say that it is quite impossible ever to sketch any educational system without an element of permanency, and when the right hon. Gentleman opposite criticises these proposals as makeshifts I think he rather 448 ignores the words that fell from him in the Debate on the First Reading, when he excused himself in taking the unusual course of discussing a Bill before he had seen it, by saying that the proposals in the Bill were perfectly familiar. Now I think I have dealt with most of the criticisms. [Mr. ESSLEMONT: Evening schools.] I have great sympathy with this part of the subject, but remember the work of evening schools may be divided into two classes. So far as they are elementary schools they are outside our present proposals; but so far as they are secondary schools they fall within the ambit of our proposition, and there is nothing in our scheme to prevent a local teacher from arranging for evening classes if he thinks that is the best means of carrying out the work. Now I have answered criticisms as best I can, and I must remind the House of this. It is not only the case that we have with us the opinion of the people of Scotland, as shown in deputations and petitions, but we have a divided set of opinions from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. This we saw from the first from the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Sir G. Trevelyan) and the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman). Then we had a sort of Judgment of Paris conducted by the hon. Member for Dundee between the competing claims of the two right hon. Gentlemen for his allegiance. I do not gloat over the fact of these divided counsels, but I look upon them as a compliment to the wisdom of the proposals of the Government. Even the hon. Member for the College Division (Dr. Cameron), who began by telling us the whole thing was a mistake, and who came in like the month of March now expiring, went out like a lamb, saying the money was here, and probably the Government proposed the best method of distribution. It has been hinted that there is some sinister electioneering object in the proposals of the Government, that they have made an attempt to propitiate every class, and this was said more openly in our first Debate than it has been said to-night. I will make hon. Gentlemen a present of that contention. If I have been 449 able successfully to show that the objects to which this money is to be applied are legitimate objects, and that it is applied in a practical way, then even though the result should be to bring electioneering success in its wake, if it satisfies all classes in Scotland I wish for no better test of what is true legislation.
§ (11.47.) MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N. E.)
The position of the Government after the criticisms from this side of the House has been made very much more clear by the fresh and able speech we have just heard. But I confess that speech has not removed in any degree the objections which I and some of my friends entertain to the Bill. As time is short, I will address myself to one or two of the new arguments brought forward rather than to the more general features of the Bill sketched out by the Lord Advocate. To one argument used by the Solicitor General I must strongly demur. He said, in reference to the allocation of the money to the relief of rates, that when we urged that there was no demand in Scotland for this allocation of the money we ought not to be listened to, because, he said, this was a matter of general policy, and the Imperial Parliament having decided this, the precedent of England must be followed, and the Scottish people had no right to refuse this. It is a serious way of putting the case, and one I hope the Scottish people will take note of. In the first place, I say it was not we on this side of the House who divided the Scotch money from the English and put it into a separate Budget, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He took away the Scotch money and said, "This is the amount you are entitled to," and when he tells us the sum Scotland is entitled to I think he can hardly refuse to concede to us the right of saying how we are to dispose of it. Surely, on a question of devoting the money to local purposes, the wishes of localities should be considered? I am perfectly certain that the Government have misinterpreted the true opinion of the Scottish people, which is that the money ought to be devoted to some more useful purpose than the relief of rates. The proposals of the 450 Government have been described by the First Lord of the Treasury as a compromise, but I deny that they have that character. It is no more a compromise than a decision on the tossing of a halfpenny; it is a haphazard conclusion, not a compromise arrived at after an attempt to harmonise conflicting views. We do not claim the whole of the money for secondary education, but we say that the amount given is too small, and the great majority of Members are willing enough that you should give the residue to Local Authorities if you give them a free hand in the disposal of it. If you relieve the rates of a county, it is only an in-inducement to increase the rates; you do not enable them to spend the money in any improvements, however beneficial they might be to the public. With surprise and great regret I learn that the Government have determined to divorce technical from secondary education. Intermediate education is the right word as it is understood in Wales. A county constituency like mine does not want Latin and Greek, but we do want a higher department for technical education set up in our midst. The Solicitor General admits this is not a complete scheme for secondary education, and the Government, having no definite idea for the disposal of this sum of £60,000, propose to hand it over to the Scotch Education Department. Now that is not the way to deal with such a question. Scotland is not so abundantly wealthy that this £60,000 is not an important sum. It is too small for the purpose, but it would be a great and serious loss to the country if it were uselessly and thoughtlessly expended. It is not too much to say that for the cause of secondary education the misuse of this money might be worse than no money at all. It would be easy, with the full consent of the great majority of Scotch Members, to take a sufficient sum from other objects and devote it to secondary education. The Solicitor General sneered at our demand that representative bodies should control the administration of this money. "Why," he said, "should you not be satisfied with the Education Department?" We have not sufficient confidence in that De- 451 partment. In the case of elementary education we have administration by local representative bodies, though, to a certain and proper degree, they are under the supervision of the Education Department, as such bodies should be. Here is a golden opportunity to organise a system of secondary education, and depend upon it, though it be not done to-day, it will have to be done to-morrow. What is there to prevent the creation of such a system as works successfully in Wales for intermediate education, the conditions being more favourable in Scotland? There is, the Lord Advocate said, to be a certain local initiative. But how in rural districts will you have an agreement so that there may be a local initiative? The School Boards are duped if they think they are going to be taken into confidence by the Education Department; they will have nothing to do with the matter, it will be entirely and absolutely handed over to the Education Department. That is the proposal to which we have the strongest objection, and which I am sure when it comes to be thoroughly understood in Scotland will be emphatically condemned. But for the lateness of the hour I would prolong my remarks, for I feel the deep importance of the subject to Scotland. Mistakes will be made which will be very difficult to repair, and unless in Committee the Government make concessions they will leave to their successors a legacy difficult to deal with.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Provand.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am aware of the great interest felt in the Bill, but I may remind the House that we had a very long Debate on the introduction of the Bill, and we have had a full night's discussion on the Second Reading. Most of the points raised may very well be discussed in Committee. I hope the House will feel that if we adjourn the Debate now the Second Reading may be taken after a further brief discussion.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.