§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.) moved, in page 1, line 16, after the word "paid," to insert the words "in 1783 the financial year ending the 31st day of March next after the passing of this Act." The effect of this Amendment is to make this measure only operative for one year, and the means by which I propose to carry out that object are taken, as far as I can do so, from the words of the Probate Duty Act, 1888. That Act, I think, forms a precedent for the action which I desire the Government to take in regard to the present Bill. When this system of allocation was first initiated, there was at the outset a temporary allocation, and the following year a more satisfactory allocation. Therefore, I venture to think we have a precedent for the course I now propose. It is known to every Scotch Member that the mode of distribution which has been proposed is not thoroughly satisfactory to any of the parties concerned. Indeed, we cannot think that the Government have themselves satisfactorily thought out their own proposals. Of this it would have been impossible to have a better illustration than the incident which has occurred in regard to the Returns asked for by the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Crawford). The Memorandum, on which it is expected the Education Office Minute will have to be based, has only been issued within the last few days; and it refers in somewhat vague terms to a number of schools to which this grant is to be applied. The hon. Member for Lanark moved for a Return of these schools on Friday; and as he could not obtain a Return in time for this discussion, he gave notice of a question to the Lord Advocate, who tells us that he has given my hon. Friend the information. But that information has not been given to the House—he (the Lord Advocate) has not even got a copy of the information himself. I think that single illustration is sufficient to show how crude and unfinished are the proposals of the Government. Another reason why the allocation should be a temporary one is that we are in the last Session of a dying Parliament. An objection is that it will destroy the financial arrangements of the various Local Bodies in Scotland. As a matter of fact, it is perfectly obvious that the present system of allocating by Bill 1784 leads to annual changes, and thus has no permanence. Then I take a fundamental objection to the whole financial system of these grants. I think we ought to return to the system which was in vogue before 1888. As hon. Members are aware, there were before that date large grants to Local Bodies. They were invariably given by annual grants on the Estimates, and that is the right method by which Imperial aid should be given. It by no means follows that aid given from year to year is not as permanent in character as the grants which have been given under this new system since 1888. I think that if the Government could see their way to accept this Amendment they would greatly facilitate the progress of their Bill. The Lord Advocate is well aware of the strong objections taken by different sections in this House to almost every part of the measure. These, I believe, would be considerably modified by the acceptance of the Amendment, which I beg to move.
In page 1, line 16, after the word "paid," to insert the words, "in the financial year ending the thirty-first day of March next after the passing of this Act."—(Mr. Buchanan.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities
While anxious to yield to Amendments which will remove the opposition to this Bill, I must say that the proposal is one to which the Government cannot accede. The Government came to the conclusion that it was desirable to embody in the Bill the allocation of this money, and, looking to the subject-matter, that considerable elasticity should be observed as regards some portion of the money. We demur altogether to the suggestion that the Memorandum which has been mentioned, or the information I have just read out, has anything to do with the question. The question is whether this Bill is to be confined to the present 1785 financial year, or whether it ought to be extended beyond it, as we desire it should. The Memorandum has not been out merely for two or three days, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Buchanan) suggests; it has been before the country since the 15th of April, when it was published in the newspapers. We think it is desirable that the Local Bodies who have the administration of the various parts of this grant should know where they are from time to time. We think, also, that any temporary scheme for the allocation of this money would paralyse the efforts of the localities to do what they can with the fund, and, further, there would annually be strife and turmoil in these various localities which would go far, in my opinion, to upset any usefulness this scheme would otherwise possess. I believe the first persons to deprecate such an alteration as the hon. Member proposes would be the localities and the bodies themselves, because we all know there has already been a considerable amount of contention as to the proper allocation of this money. I think, however, that public opinion has now settled pretty fairly in the main in favour of the Government proposals. This Amendment would foster such continuous local agitation and uncertainty that the proposals of the Bill would be practically rendered ineffectual.
§ MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
I hope I may say, without any discourtesy to the Government, that this Bill—perhaps excusably on account of the novelty of the task—is a measure hasty and unconsidered in character. It is a crude and confused proposal. While we are prepared to vote the money according to the scheme for the present year, we are not, however, prepared to establish a plan which can only be reversed with the sanction of the House of Lords, and by the passage of a Bill through all its stages. This proposal to devote a considerable sum of money for secondary education is new to Scotland, and, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we should proceed on the right lines. In this connection I think I may say that by the representations which have been made the Government must have been 1786 considerably shaken in their conclusion that the lines of this Bill are the right ones.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I am very much opposed to this allocation becoming permanent. In the first place, Scotland never asked for this system which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have adopted. I believe the large majority of the people of Scotland are opposed, to this mode of giving the grant. What we want to do is to tax the land, and by this and other means to give Local Bodies the product, so that they may further lighten the burden of the ratepayers. We have already three different systems, and the next Government will have again to consider the question when it has to inquire as to the relations between the Imperial Exchequer and the Public Bodies. As to the £30,000 for the Universities, we have had no evidence submitted that the Universities want the money. I think the information ought to have been laid before us, and that a similar course ought to have been observed in regard to the grant for secondary education and the other sections. We have not any adequate information before us as to the wishes of the Scotch people on these matters, and under such circumstances the only wise course is to prevent the bodies who are going to get this money thinking this scheme is, first, one that the Government have well considered; secondly, that it is one Parliament has well considered; and, thirdly, that it is one which has every chance of being permanent. The Local Bodies who get the money will only be able to use it for lessening the rates. Therefore, if you give this money to the Local Bodies for one year or for five years, they will not be able to do any special good with it unless the character of the Bill is changed and the Local Bodies are given a free hand. It would save time, and the Government would be able to get this Bill through easily if they were not to insist upon carrying out the policy of preventing the House of Commons from settling these questions without the intervention of the House of Lords. I think the course the Government are taking in connection with this and other 1787 Bills of the same character—of preventing the House of Commons having the power of determining these questions of finance and giving to another House the power they should not have, is contrary to the Constitution, and we should take every opportunity we can of protesting against it.
§ (5.3.) MR. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I must confess I think the course the Government seem inclined to take in this matter is one which is open to very grave suspicion. Here is a large sum of money which is taken from the Imperial Exchequer, and the question is: How can it be best disposed of? or: What is the opinion of Scotland with regard to it? For my own part, I do not know what the opinion of Scotland is on the subject, and I do not believe it has yet been ascertained. We who sit on this side of the House are not at the present time plenipotentiary representatives of Scotch opinion on this question. We are within measurable distance of a Dissolution, and this is one of the things which might be properly reserved for an expression of public opinion on that occasion. For that reason alone I shall be prepared to vote for my hon. Friend's Amendment, which proposes to limit this Bill to one year. Now, what is the answer of the Lord Advocate? Really, so far as I can make it out, it amounts to this—that the Local Bodies will be embarrassed unless they can rely on this scheme being a perpetual one, and that it would be inconvenient for the Local Bodies to have the administration of this fund unless they can rely upon it being permanent. I should like to hear if that is not so.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
Well, I cannot reconcile that with the language of the Bill. It appears to me that the Bill contains a distinct warning to the Local Authorities that the Government do not regard this as a permanent scheme, but as a provisional scheme. If the Committee turn to Clause 2—the Distribution Clause—of this Bill they will find these words of warning: "Be it enacted that until Parliament otherwise determines" this distribution is to take place. It is not 1788 to be a perpetual distribution, but is only to take place "until Parliament otherwise determines." Why were these words inserted? I cannot suppose for a moment that the Government in using them intended nothing but a piece of impertinent superfluousness. Now, Sir, when we come to these words I shall propose an Amendment which, if this Amendment is lost, may meet the views of some of my hon. Friends, although I am afraid it will meet with some resistance in the Conservative instincts of hon. Members opposite. The Amendment I shall move is to leave out the word "Parliament," and insert the words "House of Commons as hereinafter provided." The scheme then would be this: that the Bill will have effect until the House of Commons, as hereinafter provided, shall otherwise determine. Then this House would have the sole means of deciding what is to become of this money. Otherwise, the Bill is open to the great objection that if any change is decided upon by the Scotch people at the next Election, we should have to go to the House of Lords and ask them to amend the Act. I do not think that is a position we should be put in, and I will join in any Amendment which will have the effect of avoiding the result.
§ (5.12.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
Under this Bill a sum of money is voted by the House of Commons, and I think it is a constitutional question that all moneys so voted for Imperial purposes should be under the control of the House of Commons alone. This money will form a charge upon the Imperial Revenue of the country, and the question is: Who is entitled to see to the application of moneys which are levied by Imperial taxation? Now, there is no better known constitutional rule than that the House of Commons, which raises the money annually, is the Body entitled to review and consider annually how that money is to be applied. As the Bill now stands, the House of Commons will not have the sole control of determining how the money is annually to be applied, but the House of Lords will have it in their power to practically control the mode in which that shall be done. 1789 Then it is said that these Local Bodies wish to have some idea as to the permanency of the grant. Well, nothing was more common up to the time that the present Government came into Office than that all grants to Local Bodies were annually laid before Parliament, and annually reviewed. There are the educational grants. Has there ever been any doubt as to their permanency? Have not schools been built, teachers engaged, and heavy expenditure of various sorts incurred on the faith of these grants; and who would suppose that they would be withdrawn while serving a useful purpose? And if in the future any grants should not be serving a useful purpose, why should they not be withdrawn? What is the purpose for which this money is to be applied according to the Government Bill? It is to relieve local taxes, and not to enable the Local Bodies to execute new works or undertake any additional responsibility. There is, therefore, no force in the argument of the Lord Advocate that the Local Bodies will be inconvenienced if they are not led to suppose the grant is of a permanent character. Then it is said, if this grant is an annual one, it will be a subject of strife. Have we any strife upon the educational grants, or the Police grants, or any other grants? Nothing of the kind. We have only that legitimate criticism and discussion which ought to take place in this House with regard to all expenditure; and it is only right, if the money has to be raised annually by taxation, that this House should have the opportunity of discussing whether the money is being usefully applied or whether it might be more usefully applied in another direction. Then we have the important fact to consider that Scotch opinion is not yet clearly pronounced as to the method of appropriating this money. I believe the Government like to act on precedents. Well, all the precedents relating to Scotch grants are that the grants are of one year only. That being so, I contend that there is no good reason why this House should not have the power of fully discussing annually the grant proposed in this Bill.
§ (5.19.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I am bound to say that the proposal to vote this grant in a permanent way is unprecedented. Nothing of the kind exists in this House or elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate has not, I am bound to say, answered my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan). That is to say, he has not given any valid reason, as far as I can see, for making this a permanent grant. He says if it were not permanent an agitation would be carried on. Why, Mr. Courtney, should an agitation be carried on if this proposal is entirely satisfactory, as he says it is, to the people of Scotland? If this is the best proposal, and is satisfactory to the people of Scotland, it will be impossible to carry on an agitation with reference to it. But if, as I believe to be the case, the mode of applying the money does not meet with the wishes of the Scottish people, then I think it will be well that some agitation should be stirred up, and the matter re-considered. In my opinion, this Bill as it now stands will require a great deal more discussion than would be necessary if it were to be only experimental and for not more than a year. If we are to discuss the great principle as to whether this money is to be applied to relieve the poor rate, the council rate, the city rate, for education or other purposes, upon a permanent basis, the conditions of which are unalterable unless we go to the House of Lords, then it will be necessary to continue this discussion at much greater length. I would press upon the right hon. Gentleman that the amount of information he has placed at the disposal of the House is entirely insufficient to justify this grant being made on a permanent basis, and that it would be in the interest of all concerned to have further information as to the feeling of the people of Scotland before asking the House to agree to a permanent settlement of the question.
§ *(5.23.) MR. JOHN B. BALFOUR Clackmannan, &c.)
I submit that the Government have not shown sufficient reasons to justify them in departing from the ordinary course in respect to this grant. It is deviating from the constitutional principle to withdraw 1791 from the House of Commons the sole power of reviewing yearly any grant, and making the appropriation of money raised by taxation dependent upon the will of another House. Therefore I apprehend that, unless it can be shown that there is either some very strong convenience or some reason of principle, the Government should adhere to the ordinary course. Now, I listened very attentively to what my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate said, and I think it resolved itself into this: that it would be very inconvenient for the recipient bodies not to know what they had to rely on. Well, I quite appreciate that consideration as far as it goes; but how far does it go? It does not go very far, as all experience shows that a grant made once, particularly a grant for educational purposes, is not withdrawn; if the money is well applied there can be no fear of a meddlesome interference on the part of Parliament with an appropriation of money approved by experience and by the will of the people. But the matter does not rest there, because not only have the Government not shown any sufficient reason for their departure from constitutional usage, but there are some considerations in this case which make in the other direction. This is certainly a proposal of a somewhat novel character, and in regard to which the country has not had very much time for making up its mind and communicating with its Representatives. It has been said—and said truly—that there is a good deal of difference of opinion as to how this money should be appropriated. I feel sure that every one of us who represent Scotch constituencies has been receiving a number of communications of an opposite character to the proposals of the Lord Advocate, and even amongst ourselves we find that a good deal of difference exists as to the best way of using this money. This should be one of the matters on which, at the General Election, an opportunity should be afforded to the constituencies of expressing their views; and, after all, in the application of public money, the deliberate judgment of the constituencies ought to be the guide of this House. We on this side of the House do certainly 1792 attach great importance to this matter, not only as involving a constitutional principle, but as also involving considerations special to this Bill of a character which, I trust, the Government, on mature consideration, will yield to, and limit the operation of the Bill to one year only.
§ (5.27.) MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
This is an equivalent grant Bill—an equivalent of what has been granted to England and Wales, and will be granted to Ireland, for assisted education. I must say I should have preferred that the terms of the Bill had been, with regard to the Educational Department, so much per head instead of a particular sum as mentioned in one clause of the Bill. But I feel sure that, assuming the amount is increased in England, we in Scotland shall be able to get a further sum in the future, either from the Estimates or elsewhere, and I believe the Government are following a reasonable precedent, such as was adopted in the case of the measure introducing assisted education for England, in their action with respect to this Bill.
§ (5.29.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
The Lord Advocate in his remarks quoted the opinions of Local Bodies in Scotland, and he said that several of these Local Bodies, on this question at all events, might be taken to represent the opinion of the people. Sir, I can only speak of Aberdeen, but there the Local Bodies speak with a divided voice. The Town Council by a large majority passed a resolution protesting against any portion of this money being appropriated to the relief of the rates. Another body — the Trades Council—passed a unanimous resolution that, for whatever purpose this money is devoted, it should not go towards the relief of the rates. Now, Sir, upon a question of this kind the Trades Council is a better indication of the opinion of Aberdeen than the opinion of the Town Council. Why should the Government object to the Amendment of my hon. Friend? All the Government can do by this Bill, which they could not do if this Amendment is carried, is next year to interpose the veto of the House of Lords between the people of Scotland and the realisation of their wishes. We 1793 are going to have a General Election, and I suppose the hopes of the Government to support from the people of Scotland are of a somewhat shady character. They expect that when they come back they will be no longer supported by a majority, and so they wish now to give to the House of Lords a veto in this matter. Now, what does this Bill do? It is a Bill that allocates money obtained from the Imperial taxes. These taxes come mainly out of the pockets of workmen. But how do the Government propose to distribute the money? Almost entirely into the pockets of the owners of property. Do the Government think they are protecting these interests by interposing the veto of the House of Lords? Do they imagine they are giving any security beyond the security which exists now? The right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken if he thinks that we shall rest satisfied with the distribution of the money. As a representative of the working people I say that all those who represent the interests of working men in this House will come back after the General Election determined that this disgraceful system of raising money which is not required for Imperial purposes, but is merely taken out of the pockets of the poor, and put into the pockets of the rich, shall be stopped. There is a special reason, arising out of the Memorandum which has been circulated with reference to this Bill, why any attempt to stereotype this Bill is as foolish as can be. One of the proposals of the Government is to give £60,000 to secondary education, and I know many people in Scotland entertain great doubt as to the propriety of employing public money for the purposes of secondary education. The reason of the doubt is that secondary education really means the education of the children of middle class people who can well afford to pay for it. Of all the schemes that have ever been suggested to determine the allocation of money, that made by the Government in this Memorandum for secondary education is absolutely the worst. It is one which I venture to say will not meet the view of the friends of education in Scotland. 1794 It is not calculated to promote education, and, so far as I can understand, it only makes it a little cheaper for rich people to get their children educated than it is at the present moment. It is not a scheme to improve education, and least of all is it a scheme to enable the poorer classes to get the benefits of education. Is it right or reasonable that the Government should attempt to stereotype a crude and ill-considered scheme of this kind which has not received the support of any educational authority, and against which protests are rising on all sides? This question of secondary education is complex and difficult, and requires a great deal of consideration and inquiry. I never was unprepared to give a reasonable amount of public money to secondary education on proper conditions being applied, but to my mind the essential condition is, that you should provide an educational ladder by which the children of poor men may be able to get that secondary education, equally with the rich. If you open up secondary education to all, I do not even grudge the cheapening of education to the higher classes. I do not wish to regard the subject in a niggardly spirit, but in the whole of this scheme the Government do nothing for the poorer classes, and for education, as distinct from fees, it does nothing. Surely, under these circumstances, the Government could consent to limit the application of the Bill for one year, and even if the Government were to go further and suspend the allocation of this money until a better scheme is devised—until they have consulted with the Town Councils, the County Councils, and the School Boards, and endeavoured to formulate a proper scheme — I would support them. Under present circumstances, however, I think there is a very strong reason why we should endeavour to prevent the allocation of this money in the way proposed by the Government.
§ (5.35.) MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
So far as I have been able to discover, the opinion of Scotland is generally in favour of the proposals of the Government in this Bill, and I think I may refer in support of that statement to the Resolutions passed by public bodies all more or less in favour 1795 of those proposals. I must disagree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Hunter) as to the value of various opinions. I prefer the opinions and resolutions of Public Authorities to those of self-elected bodies. I think, further, that it is very necessary that this Grant should be of a permanent character. We know very well that if an Act of Parliament is permanent, the House of Lords or the House of Commons can deal with any of its provisions that do not prove to work satisfactorily, and I think my hon. Friend is unnecessarily alarmed about the House of Lords. I do not think there is any reason to anticipate that the House of Lords would take the unprecedented step of interfering in a matter of this kind, and if they did, it would provide a very strong argument in favour of the abolition or reform of that House, which so many Gentlemen on this side profess to desire. One reason why this measure should be of a permanent character is that Local Bodies, knowing that the grant is to be reasonably permanent, will thereby be enabled to make better use of the money. Another reason is, that the Town Cuncils, and, I hope, also the County Councils, will be able to apply this money not only to objects that are absolutely necessary, but also to securing the comfort of the people. I should be prepared to support any proposals in this Bill to extend the scope of Town Councils and County Councils in dealing with the money at their disposal. I think Town Councils might do something in the way of public parks, and also in the way of making provision for the comfort of the people under the provisions of the Public Health Act, and I should be very glad if the Government could confer corresponding powers on the County Councils. I have recently had the advantage of being amongst my constituents, and though I have received many representations in support of this measure, I have not heard a single objection to it. I cannot understand my hon. Friend (Mr. Hunter) when he says that this money will not be disposed of for the benefit of the working people in the burghs, because, in point of fact, in all the burghs the working 1796 people pay almost all the rates. In the burgh represented by the hon. Gentleman I believe the occupiers of the houses pay four-fifths of the rates, and in the Burgh Police Bill, which is now being urged through this House, the proposal is made that all the rates, except the Sewer Rate, shall be levied upon the occupiers. Consequently the whole of the money that is given by this Bill to relieve the rates will go to relieve the occupiers, and the poor men will relatively get their fair share of relief. Of course, if it is nothing that the working people should have twopence or threepence taken off these rates, it follows from that argument that it is nothing to the working classes if they have a penny, or twopence, or threepence put on. I hope the Committee will support the Government, and I hope the Government will give the County Councils greater scope in dealing with the money. I think the proposals with regard to secondary education will require a good deal of discussion and some explanation, but we can wait for that till we come to that part of the Bill.
§ (5.40.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
It is rather amusing to notice how the Government rely on buttresses on this side of the House rather than upon their own immediate followers who sit opposite. The only words we have heard in opposition to the Amendment of the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) have proceeded from the Member for Falkirk (Mr. Sinclair), and the Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay). But it seems to me that all the speeches that have been delivered, have been beyond and beside the question raised by this Amendment. The hon. Member discusses this Amendment as if it referred to the Equivalent Grant, whereas it refers to the Fee Grant, which is a different thing, and is applied in a different manner. I think one great argument in favour of limiting this Fee Grant to a single year is, that in Scotland we are not treated with regard to this grant in the same way as the people in England are treated. In English schools 10s. per. head is paid for the children, whilst in Scotland we are paid in proportion to the attendance in England, and as the attendance in the English 1797 schools rises and falls, so we in Scotland get a larger or a smaller sum. That is all very well. It may be to the advantage of Scotland to have this money dependent upon the attendance in England, but whether it be to our advantage or not the distribution rests upon a bad principle, and what I do claim is, that we in Scotland should have our fee grant money distributed in proportion to the attendance of our Scotch children.
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. COURTNEY,) Cornwall, Bodmin
Order, order! The subject to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring will be raised by a subsequent Amendment.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS
I am not discussing that Amendment at all. My object is to point out that this vicious principle which I believe is inherent in this clause is a reason for limiting this clause to a single year, and it is on that ground rather than any ground which has been put forward that I should support the Amendment of the Member for Edinburgh.
§ (5.42.) MR. CALDWELL
It must not be forgotten that in allocating the money dealt with in this Bill we are dealing with Scotland's own money, and the allocation of it ought to be determined by Scotch opinion. What is the competent authority to represent Scotch interests in the disposal of this money? The money is to be raised by Imperial taxation, and it is a sound principle that the party who raises the money is entitled to determine how it shall be expended. The House of Commons raises this money, and I venture to say that the Scotch Members should determine the way in which it should be spent. The Town Councils and the County Councils dispose of the money which is raised by local rates, and this House does not interfere with their spending the money they raise in any way they think proper. But when we are dealing with Imperial taxation it is this House which is responsible for the raising of the money, and it is the opinion of the Scotch Members which should prevail as to how it should be expended. Then the question arises as to who are the Members who represent Scotch opinion in this House. Is it the twelve Conservative 1798 Members out of the 72 Members for Scotland? They do not represent Scotch opinion; they are the minority in Scotland. We are not dealing with Imperial money; we are dealing with money which, rightly or wrongly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has allocated to Scotland, and it is a most outrageous thing that, because the Conservatives this year happen to be the Government, these twelve Members should have the power of fixing how this money is to be determined in after years, when perhaps they will not be the Government of the country. It may be said that there are 17 Liberal Unionist Members, but even then they do not halve the representation, and it must be remembered that these Liberal Unionist Members occupy Liberal seats, constituencies which are Liberal on all other questions save the question of the Union. I contend that it is an outrageous thing that the minority should want to fix, by this Bill, not only the way in which this money should be allocated this year, but the way in which it shall be distributed in future years when they will be out of office.
§ (5.47.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON Leith, amp;c.)
According to this Bill this money is to be devoted to certain purposes which will not be under the control or the annual review of Parliament or of the Local Authorities. The money which we are now asked to vote will not come under our notice annually, and unlike the revenue, which is administered by the County Councils and the School Boards, it will be under the control of no Local Authority. The money for education will be handed over to the Scotch Education Department to do as it pleases with, and I think we ought to have some very strong reasons for a new departure of this kind. We are going to be made the subjects of a new experiment in Scotland, and under these circumstances I think we may well be surprised at the weakness of the case which is being made out for this Bill. We have urged our objections to the financial arrangement under which this measure has become necessary, but if it were not proposed to make it permanent, if the allocation had been for one year, or had the Local Authorities been allowed 1799 a free hand in the spending of the money, there would have been much less objection to the Bill on this side of the House. I think we ought to have some answer to the arguments we have brought forward, and I trust we shall have a strong Division in support of the Amendment which, in all the circumstances, I think very well justified.
§ (5.49.) DR. CLARK
I am not sure whether this is the best place to take a Division, because the proposal covers only the money devoted by Parliament to educational purposes. My hon. Friend has a similar Amendment on Section 2, and perhaps it would be better to take the Division then. We must get the money voted by Parliament, whether it is at the rate of 10s. per head, or some other equivalent; but on Section 2 we come upon the question of whether we shall stereotype the spending of the balance.
§ Question put.
§ (5.15.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 192.—(Div. List, No. 95.)
§ (6.5.) DR. CLARK
I beg to move to leave out "£265,000." This sum is calculated upon the vicious principle, introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of paying back in proportion to what he considers the sums paid into the Imperial Exchequer. I do not consider that the proportions of 11 per cent. for Scotland and 9 for Ireland are a fair equivalent, even if the Committee, which has not been appointed, had sat and the facts on which it were based were true. I propose to insert the words in the English Act, under which a grant is made of 10s. per child in average attendance. We have about 540,000 children in average attendance, and the grant at 10s. per head would amount to about £270,000, £4,000 or £5,000 more than we get under the Bill. The question affects Ireland more vitally than Scotland, as it will probably make a difference in her case of £80,000 or £100,000. The average attendance in Scotland bears a higher proportion to the possible attendance than is the case in England, and in the Bill you are trying to limit the more progressive country so far as education is concerned. It is only fair that the rule of 10s. per 1800 head per child should apply to Scotland and Ireland. The basis you have taken for England is the average attendance, and you should take the same for Scotland and for Ireland; it is surely a more rational method of working.
In page 1, line 19, to leave out the words "two hundred and sixty-five thousand pounds," and insert the words "ten shillings a year for each child of the number of children over three and under fifteen years of age in average attendance at any public elementary school in Scotland, not being an evening school."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ (6.10.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the hon. Gentleman who has moved this Amendment will see that the balance of advantage is on the whole in favour of the scheme proposed by the Government. If you were carrying out in the three parts of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, and Ireland—precisely the same object, under precisely similar circumstances, then no doubt all you would have to do is to pay the money to each country and carry out that object in precisely the same way, whether the proportion be, or be not, in precisely the relative magnitude of 9, 11, and 80 per cent. That I grant. But that is not the case in the matter of education. You are not carrying out precisely the same object under precisely the same conditions, because the conditions of Irish education are very different from the conditions of English education; and the conditions of Scotch education are very different from those of both England and Ireland. If you were to give 10s. in Ireland for every child in average attendance, you would extinguish every school fee in Ireland and would have a very great deal of money to devote to purposes wholly alien to free education. If, on the other hand, you were to give Scotland 10s. per child in average attendance, you would not give the Scotch parents the same advantage as you are giving the English parents.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The amount given for the fee in Scotland is 12s. per head and not 10s., so that while 10s. would be far too much to free education in Ireland, it would not be enough to give free education in Scotland. Therefore, you cannot, and ought not, to attempt to deal with the three countries, when their conditions are essentially different, as if they were the same, and the only other principle on which you can allocate the money is that which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has adopted, to pay each country in proportion to the amount of the contribution of that country to the general Exchequer of the Empire. That is the plan adopted in the Bill. If it should turn out in future that the average attendance in England were either to grow or to fall to any material extent, it might be necessary to modify the proportion of Scotland to make it bear a proper proportion to the English Grant, but you cannot treat Scotland and Ireland in this matter as if they were on the same basis as England; they are not on the same basis. The hon. Gentleman has pointed out quite truly that the difference in Scotland would be about £5,000 more than she gets under the Bill. With regard to the £265,000 dealt with in this Bill, I agree with him that it is very nearly the sum that would be given if the share of Scotland were founded upon the basis of 10s. per child in average attendance, therefore Scotland's concern in this matter is theoretical rather than practical. The case of Ireland, I am afraid to press more at length now, but in Ireland it could not be adopted, for the mere fact that 10s. is paid in England, is not sufficient reason for giving Ireland 10s. to free education, which would more than meet the cost. I hope I have satisfied the hon. Gentleman that the provision of the Bill is really based on sound principles, and that if his Amendment were accepted Scotland would not gain in the long run.
§ (6.18.) DR. CLARK
The present condition in Scotland is that you are paying from five to 14 years of age, and in England from three to 15; my Amendment adopts the words of the English Act, and you would, therefore, 1802 begin to pay at three and not five, and pay till 15 and not 14. There are about 540,000 children between three and 15, and that would give us about £270,000, or about £5,000 more than under the Bill. The great bulk of the Scotch Members are content to have the same age limits as in England, but the Government are opposed to it. If you made 15 the limit, you would put more money into our pockets. Why should we not have the £5,000, because if you were to apply the same principle to Ireland she would get £80,000 or £100,000 more.
§ (6.20.) MR. CALDWELL
I am very glad the First Lord of the Treasury has intervened, as the Amendment raises a very important question of policy. He says the principle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to give Scotland in this matter a grant for education in proportion to her contribution to the Imperial Exchequer.
§ MR. CALDWELL
We are an integral country, and as England has got 10s. per child in average attendance, I claim for Scotland as an integral part of the United Kingdom the same grant from the Imperial purse.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Nothing of the kind. I am dealing with the question of principle. Is Scotland to be treated in this matter as part of the United Kingdom or as a separate Kingdom? If we are a portion of the United Kingdom, and the English parent gets 10s. per child, then the Scotch parent ought to get 10s. per child. Out of the Probate Duty Scotland got 11 per cent. which is no more than our right, and if the Scotch people chose to appropriate more of that money to free education than you have done in England, they did it out of their own money, and not out of the Imperial Grant, and, therefore, when you are going to give out of the Imperial purse—a new transaction altogether—a grant of 10s. to England, you are bound, if you treat Scotland as an integral part of the United Kingdom, to give her 10s. also. In the matter of 10s., whether the total be more or less than £265,000, my contention is that 1803 we should be treated the same as England. This is a grant out of the Imperial purse to encourage education. Is it not obvious that the grant for education is always according to the work done? If our school attendance in Scotland is large the grant is large, and if it be small the grant is less, but is always for the actual amount of work done. The Government does not pay Scotland according to the education she gives her children; but goes the roundabout way of finding out the total sum England gets, and then Scotland, whether she educates few or many, is to get eleven-eighths of it. This is an attempt to stereotype the Separatist policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; he wishes to treat Scotland in the future not as an integral part of the United Kingdom, but as a separate nationality, under which plan England is to get 80 per cent., Scotland 11 per cent., and Ireland 9 per cent. I can see a reason why the Probate Duty should be so distributed, but this is a grant out of the Imperial purse, and a different thing altogether. Under your principle the richer country will get the most, and the poorer, which most needs help, will get least.
§ (6.25.) MR. HUNTER
I am glad my hon. Friend moved the Amendment that we may have an opportunity of protesting against the proportion assigned to Scotland. I do not say I quite agree with the proposal of my hon. Friend, but I shall vote against the proportion in the Bill. Four years ago we had the principle for the first time; the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that money be allocated to the three countries, so that England got 80 per cent., Scotland eleven per cent., and Ireland nine per cent., and that was supposed to be the proportion of the contributions of the three countries to the Imperial Exchequer. Since that time the Government has put in a Minute the grounds on which the Treasury arrived at that conclusion. The Government recognise that the House ought not to be asked to accept without inquiry the figures which they put before us, and they have for two years undertaken to appoint a Committee to inquire into the financial relations of the three countries, to 1804 ascertain if those proportions are correct. That Committee sat for a very short time and this document was the consequence. Last year the Committee was not appointed, and now, in May, and though the Motion is on the Paper, it is clear the Government do not intend to take any practical steps to secure the appointment of the Committee, and under these circumstances I enter my respectful protest against being supposed to be bound by the provision in the Bill. We are entitled to this Committee and this inquiry, and if the proportions be found correct we shall, of course, accept them. I should like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if there is any real intention on the part of the Government to appoint the Committee in the present Session?
§ (6.28.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequor is extremely anxious to appoint the Committee, and I need not recapitulate the circumstances which have unfortunately caused the delay. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, it arose from the desire on the part of Welsh Members that the Committee should also take into consideration the financial relations between Wales and England, as well as those between England, Scotland, and Ireland. Had that difficulty not arisen the Committee would have been long ago appointed, but I have reason to hope that that difficulty may be got over, and that my right hon. Friend may be able to get the Committee appointed.
§ (6.30.) DR. CLARK
The right hon. Gentleman has not given us any explanation, especially as to these words which are placed in brackets. Are we to understand that what practically will be done in future will be this, that a certain sum shall be placed on the Estimates for education in England, and that a certain sum shall be placed on the Estimates for education in Scotland, and every year these sums may vary? Of course it is clear that, from the growth of population in England, the number of children will very much increase in England. Now, if we are defeated on this question of giving us 10s. per head, we will only have eleven per cent. every year. The result will 1805 be that progress will be hampered and hindered in Scotland, because I am sorry to say that in this matter England is not so progressive as Scotland.
§ (6.31.) MR. HUNTER
I wish to understand the announcement which the right hon. Gentleman has made with regard to the Committee. I dare say we all know that the reason why the Committee was not appointed was because it could not be appointed without a Debate; and the Government have declined hitherto to afford time for a Debate to take place. Do I understand now that the Government intends to bring forward this Motion at a time when it can be discussed and the decision of the House taken upon it?
§ (6.32.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is the hope of the Government to be able to find some reasonable time for the discussion, so that the sense of the House may be taken on the Motion. Of course it would be in the power of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, if they were so disposed, to render the Motion inoperative and useless by prolonging the discussion after twelve o'clock. But I am anxious, as well as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to afford some brief amount of time for the purpose of discussing the Motion.
§ (6.33.) MR. BARCLAY
With reference to the explanation which has been given, I must say that the words of the clause are very obscure, and I should like to be assured that the Government propose to give the same percentage to Scotland as is provided in the proposals of 1884.
§ (6.34.) DR. CLARK
I am unable to withdraw my Amendment; in the first place, because I should not like to lose £4,000 or £5,000, and, secondly, because I am unable to modify the form of the Scotch Education Committee. I have, besides, another object in this Division, and that is that the sum should be paid for children over three and up to fifteen, instead of, as is proposed, for children over five and up to fourteen.
§ (6.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
There is no limit with regard to Scotland such as the hon. Gentleman supposes. There are no limits in Scotland, either superior limit or inferior 1806 limit. There is no limit of age at all. Fifteen is not the limit; and therefore the condition of things in that respect is better even from his own point of view than that which he desires to set up.
§ (6.35.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 178; Noes 132.—(Div. List, No. 96.)
(6.48.) DR. CAMERON
I beg to propose as an Amendment, in page 1, line 25, after the word "Parliament," to insert the words—Provided always, that no fee grant shall be paid to any School Board in respect of any school in which fees shall be exacted from scholars between five and fourteen years of age.I think that amongst the great majority of the Scotch Members it will be admitted that the money given to Scotland is, in the first place, to be applied to the freeing of our system of education in our public schools. In Scotland there are some 3,100 public schools. There are 42 public schools in which fees are charged, and which obtain a free Government grant; besides there are some 15 schools which charge fees, and receive no grant. What I contend is that on the present occasion, when a large sum of money is going to be given to secondary education, the best use that can possibly be made of it is to apply the total, or a portion of it, in freeing these schools. Of the 42 fee-paying schools throughout Scotland, there are seven or eight existing in Glasgow; and the rest are to be found in the towns, which are well provided, as a general rule, with the endowments for secular education. These fee-paying schools in Glasgow are supported by the ratepayers at a cost of some couple of hundred thousand pounds, or a quarter of a million sterling. The sites on which these schools stand are situated in the East End in order to provide for the educational wants of the respective districts, and now they are not carried on for the purposes for which they 1807 were built. They are carried on as genteel academies, and the parents living in the districts near them who cannot afford to pay fees for their children, are compelled to send these children often long distances to inferior schools in order to get that education, for which the ratepayers have provided these schools at their own doors. If this scheme were adopted we should have some seven or eight very excellent secondary schools at once thrown freely open to all and sundry. As it is at present, and under the provisions of this Bill as it stands, I cannot see what earthly good can be done to Glasgow by any paltry portion of this grant. I propose then that the fee-paying schools in Glasgow, and throughout the country generally, which are to be found chiefly in the towns which are well supplied with endowments for the purpose of secondary education, should be thrown open free, so that the people living in the neighbourhood, who are at present obliged to send their children to inferior schools at a distance, should be able to send their children to these schools. In Glasgow a very large proportion of the children attending these fee schools come from outside the city altogether. There are some 600 children in attendance in these fee paying schools, for whose accommodation the ratepayers have to pay more or less out of the rates. I think this Amendment will commend itself to the representatives of burghs in Scotland. I think I could show that under the existing scheme Glasgow will obtain really a very small portion of the money to which she is entitled as her share of this educational grant. Glasgow contains about one-sixth of the population of all Scotland, and she contributes consequently about one-sixth of the £60,000 proposed to be given for the purposes of secondary education. According to the scheme shadowed forth in the Memorandum laid before Members of the House by the Scotch Education Department, Glasgow will not get more than a very small fraction of the amount which she contributes in taxation to this £60,000. This grant will not practically do her any good. As a matter of fact Glasgow is thoroughly well supplied with endowments which 1808 are available for the purpose of secondary education. She has very rich endowments; so has Edinburgh and Dundee. Under these circumstances it is a very remarkable fact that the number of children between 13 and 16 years of age attending school in Glasgow, in all sorts of public schools, is only some 7,000. I believe the failure of a larger number of children to be in attendance at school is not due to the want of endowments, but is really due to the inability of the working classes, who form such a large proportion of the population of Glasgow, to take their children away from work at the age mentioned. The proportion of children above 14 years of age in all the schools of Glasgow in under 3,000. It appears to me that the best way of meeting the requirements of these large towns is to utilise the grant for the purpose for which it is best suited—namely, for the purpose of secondary education, devoting a portion—and I only ask for a fair portion—so far as it is necessary in the first place towards freeing these schools. That is not at all an unfair allocation. Of the balance, each of the other districts and other boroughs are entitled to have a share for the purposes of secondary education in the way best suited for their requirements.
In page 1, line 25, after the word "Parliament," to insert the words, "Provided always that no fee grant shall be paid to any School Board in respect of any school in which fees shall be exacted from scholars between five and 14 years of age."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *(7.2.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities
This is not a subject which is being discussed for the first time in the House or in the Committee. It is one with which the House is familiar. The acceptance of the Amendment, however, would involve a proposition which I could hardly accept. If the hon. Member were to show, or to attempt to show, the Committee that there is any defect in the elementary education of Scotland, that would be one thing; but it is a totally different thing to say that the scheme of elementary education is not complete simply because certain elementary 1809 schools charge fees. Those are not the same things at all, and I venture to say that no hon. Member could point to any part of Scotland where the system of free elementary education is not completely operative. The contention was urged that the Local Bodies ought to have a say in this matter, and I think Glasgow was mentioned by one hon. Member as having had certain views at one time on this subject. But that is not the case now. An election of the School Board has taken place since, and the continuance of the fee-paying schools was confirmed, so far as one can judge, by a considerable majority of the ratepayers who decided that election. The outcome of this Amendment, if it were carried, would be to free certain of the schools of Glasgow which, while under the School Board, might still be regarded as higher-class schools. That is going beyond the proposition that it is desirable to free elementary education, and, so far as it goes beyond that proposition, it goes beyond the main scope of the Bill. That question could be more satisfactorily discussed on the Code than by way of Amendment to this Bill.
§ (7.5.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I think the right hon. Gentleman rather underrated the reasons which justified my hon. Friend in taking action in this matter. It has become a very serious matter, indeed, in consequence of the Bill of the Government. In the first place, that Bill is the final arrangement of what may be called the fee-paying side of Scotch education, and it is quite impossible to allow that final arrangement to pass without a protest against a system which many of us regard as in the highest degree unjust, and as in a high degree disadvantageous to the education of the community which is circumstanced as my hon. Friend described Glasgow as being. But there is another, and a new reason, and I think a very important reason indeed. The Memorandum on the proposed grant for higher education lays down the manner in which the £60,000 is to be distributed, and a large part of that sum, £14,000 or £15,000, is to be given to the higher departments of elementary 1810 schools—a new institution—and for every scholar in those higher departments £3 is to be paid. Just let hon. Members consider what the position will be of the great mass of the inhabitants of a city in which this system of these privileged fee-paying schools exists. At present it is bad enough that all the educational knowledge and the enthusiasm of the district should be concentrated on one or two or three schools to which the mass of the ratepayers have no admission whatever. These schools have been built out of the ratepayers' money; but this Bill will bring a very great additional grievance, because it is these privileged fee-paying schools which will have the higher departments, and which will enjoy, perhaps, the entirety of the new grant that is given to the town; and from those schools, which are to carry the children who are receiving elementary education on to the old Scotch higher education, of which we hear so much, the great mass of the people will be excluded by the fact that they are not free schools. Now, Sir, I would just ask hon. Members to consider how this question is dealt with in another great city. There is a city in England—Birmingham—where the whole question of education has been most carefully studied. In Birmingham there is already, I believe, one school that practically is a school of a higher department. I believe they call it the Seventh Standard School. They are going to make another school of this description; but the elementary schools which educate the children in order to enable them to take their place in these Standard Schools are all absolutely free to every citizen of Birmingham. We ask that the same shall be the case in Scotch communities, and that you shall not give another £15,000 to schools which will be filled not with the children of the great mass of the community, but only with the children of those parents who can afford to pay the fees. Not only will you keep the old grievance in these towns, but you will add to it, for this grant for secondary education, which Parliament intends, I believe, to be shared by the great mass of the Scotch people, will practically be expended almost entirely upon the children of a very 1811 small, and that the richer, part of the community.
§ (7.10.) MR. BARCLAY
I support this Amendment on the same grounds as the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I have no objection whatever to fee-paying schools. If certain parents desire to send their children to fee-paying schools, by all means let them do so; but I cannot agree that this money, which is to be used for the purposes of secondary education for those who are unable to provide it without such a subsidy, should be devoted to the education of the children of rich people. They have the option of sending their children to free schools entirely; but if they prefer to send them to fee-paying schools, by all means let them pay the full value which the School Board thinks it desirable to exact. The result of this grant will be to reduce the fees of the higher schools from £6 and £7 to £3, which is putting the money directly into the pockets of the rich people. I think this is a very strong point, worthy of the consideration of the Government, and I should like to hear their view of the subject.
§ (7.15.) MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
This Amendment will affect these so-called fee-paying schools; that is to say, public schools mainly teaching elementary education under the School Board, but which, under the present arrangement, are permitted to charge fees. Those schools exist mainly in the City of Glasgow, and there are comparatively very few which exist in two or three of the other towns in Scotland. I venture to submit to the Committee this proposition—that, while it is necessary and desirable in rural districts to encourage the establishment of secondary departments in the Board Schools, the encouragement of secondary education in elementary schools in the large cities is not a thing to be desired. Where you have a city like Glasgow, with a large number of secondary schools—and possibly you may have more in the future — an arrangement ought to be made to encourage the children to go to those schools, and not to seek for secondary education in the elementary schools. If the clause were passed as it stands, it 1812 would be a great encouragement to those fee-paying schools to go on to secondary education; and there would be children there who, not being able to get through a first-class secondary education, would remain at these half-and-half schools getting a half-and-half secondary education. This, in addition to the reasons already given, and to which I entirely subscribe, is why I support the Amendment.
§ *(7.15.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)
There is a good deal to be said for the contention of the Glasgow Members; but, on the other hand, I ask my Friends from Glasgow to remember that other parts of Scotland are included in the Bill.
I specifically stated I did not propose to take away the share due to each locality. The Amendment would not be unfair to any other district.
§ * MR. C. S. PARKER
That was not my objection. There are elsewhere in Scotland burgh schools which are counting on this grant as the only means of carrying them on as not very ambitious secondary schools, but schools not to be dropped into the rank of ordinary schools. If you were to put the Amendment in the Bill as it stands, the effect would be to preclude any grant being given to any of these burgh schools where the children under 14 years of age are charged any fee.
There is a subsequent Amendment providing for the matter which my hon. Friend refers to.
§ (7.18.) MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
I think it would be a very great mistake, and we should be doing a very rash and very unwise thing, if we were, by any act of ours, to destroy these existing schools in Glasgow and in Govan, where they are doing exceedingly good work. The circumstances surrounding them will be changed very much by the scheme of this present Bill. They have grown up under the old circumstances, and I challenge altogether the statement that they are composed of the children of the rich. They are not the richer people. They are composed of the children of people of all classes who wish to carry on their education beyond the primary elements, and to go on into secondary education. It is, as every 1813 educationalist will tell you, of the greatest importance that these children should, from the first, have the wider curriculum opened to them. It is a misfortune to a school when children intending to go on with secondary work are not brought in till they are 13 or 14, because, while they are very well up in certain lines of work, in other lines they are very much behind the children who have been in the secondary school all the time, and they hold back the secondary school very much. This is not a new point. It has been before Glasgow and Govan—the two places most concerned—for a very long time. It was before them at the last Election, and has been repeatedly raised in the House. And yet, by very considerable majorities, the present state of things was maintained. Therefore, the injustice may seem a burning one when proclaimed from these Benches; but when you go to Glasgow and Govan you will not find the people there persuaded that it is so. I did not quite understand what the hon. Member for the College Division (Dr. Cameron) wanted to do with these schools. He said that as a result of his Amendment seven or eight excellent secondary schools would be thrown open free to all and sundry. That sounded as if he wanted to proclaim free secondary education. He spoke as if the result of the throwing open of these schools to all would be that any one would go to them, and yet that they would maintain their character as secondary schools, as if the character of a secondary school was just as much impressed upon the face of that school as the nature of its architecture. The fact of a school being a secondary school depends on the children going to it, and how long they are prepared to carry on their education there. It is not true that these schools are more expensive than other schools. I was down opening a school in Partick that is better in architecture and everything else than either the Hillhead School or the Hamilton Crescent School. The schools that exist are doing excellent work. The circumstances of these schools will be changed under the Memorandum, and it seems to me that it would be most imprudent if we were to open up this question now.
§ (7.25.) MR. CALDWELL
This matter lies very much in a nutshell. The Amendment has reference to the ordinary Board Schools in Scotland, and not to any secondary system that may be introduced under this Bill. What is the contention of the Amendment? It is this. School Boards in Scotland receive 12s. per child in average attendance in respect of the abolition of school fees; and what we contend is that School Boards should abolish school fees in every school for which they receive this grant of 12s. per child. It is attempted to have a roundabout method in the application of this money. We get it for each school; but instead of abolishing the school fees in a certain school the Department say—"You may abolish the school fees in some other school, and that will be held to be equivalent." That is what we object to. We say each school should stand on its own merits. It is pretended that the poorer schools benefit by the present arrangement, because in them the school fees are abolished. But observe, in England they only get 10s. per child in average attendance, while in Scotland they get 12s. for the same purpose. Education in the poorer schools does not cost more than 12s. In Glasgow the School Board want to have certain schools fee-paying for the purpose of keeping the children attending them socially distinct from the poorer classes of the community. What is the School Board of Glasgow endeavouring to do? They are endeavouring to make these fee-paying schools the schools in which secondary education is to be conducted. The result is that if you deplete the ordinary free schools of the higher subjects, and concentrate them in the fee-paying schools, you give the fee-paying schools an enormous status for the purposes of education. Everyone knows that in a school which has secondary education at the top the elementary education is better taught than in a school where no secondary education is taught. The hon. Member for Partick (Mr. Parker Smith) says some of these free schools are architecturally better; but when we talk about a school being better we refer to it as being educationally better. In Glasgow there are a great many educational endowments open to competition 1815 by scholars in all the poor schools. The effect is that these bursaries are carried off by the scholars in the fee-paying schools, who have better opportunities of competing for them than the scholars in the free schools. We say—"If you are going to have free schools you are not to pauperise these free schools." If we are to have free schools, then the children attending them should have equal advantages for education with the children who pay fees. We wish the children in State-aided schools to have equal advantages with children of other schools. It has been stated that this is not a new question, and that it was raised at the School Board Elections. That is quite true; but the question has not been settled, and never will be settled so long as the present state of things exists. It will crop up at the General Election, and will no doubt be an important factor in it. It will certainly always be cropping up until the existing grievances are remedied. All that we ask is, that in the schools which obtain money for the abolition of fees the school fees should be abolished. It is against the fee-paying system that we protest in this Bill, and we shall continue to protest until the grievance has been remedied.
§ (7.32.) MR. W. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
I will detain the House for only a few minutes. I object to this Amendment because in my own constituency it would kill the only higher class school that we have. We have been told that the boys who attend the fee-paying schools are the children of wealthier people. That is not the case in my constituency, because there we have made special provision, and have reduced the fee to a very small amount, so that all might have access to the school. I do not know from my own knowledge the state of things which exist in Glasgow in regard to fee-paying schools, but I have been told by Glasgow people that such schools are there absolutely necessary. The question was emphatically before the electors in Glasgow at the last election, and the same may be said with regard to my own constituency. I will only further say that I hope nothing will be done to impair the usefulness of fee-paying schools.
§ (7.34.) MR. SINCLAIR
It seems to be assumed that in these so-called privileged 1816 fee-paying schools all the places are paid for, but that is not the case, because I know instances in which there are a number of free places. When children are found to be very quick and able to take advantage of secondary education, places are provided for them, and they are received into the higher schools. I do not say that it is done to a very large extent, but it is done to some extent, and under this Bill it would be done on a much larger scale. I believe that it would be a great loss to the community at large if the fee-paying schools were done away with, and I take it that the proposal embodied in this Bill is to improve their efficiency, and to enable a greater number of the children of poorer parents to benefit by them than is the case at the present time.
§ (7.37.) MR. HUNTER
Do I understand that it is the intention of the Government that the money for secondary education shall be given to schools in receipt of the Government grant?
§ (7.40.) MR. BARCLAY
I do not object to the fee-paying schools, but I do object to this money for secondary education being applied to such schools for the benefit of the children of wealthy parents. That they are wealthy is manifest, or they would send their children to the free schools.
§ * SIR C. J. PEARSON
I am not sure that I followed the hon. Member. If I did, I think he was talking of an Amendment that might have been made on the part of the scheme dealing with secondary education.
We have been twitted again and again that this question was raised at the last School Board Election, and that we were in favour of freeing these schools; but things have entirely changed since then. If the system of freeing these fee-paying schools had been endorsed at the Election, the expense would have been met by increasing the rates; but here you have the opportunity of obtaining £60,000, to which Glasgow contributes £10,000, and the proposal I make will not create any hardship.
§ MR. BARCLAY
Do I understand that any part of this sum of £60,000 will be paid for secondary education in the fee-paying schools?
§ * SIR C. J. PEARSON
No part of the £60,000 will be devoted to the relief of elementary schools, but in so far as such schools have higher departments they may be assisted out of that money.
§ MR. BARCLAY
What I object to is that any portion of the £60,000 should go for secondary education in the fee-paying schools, because they are only intended for the children of wealthy parents.
§ (7.45.) MR. CALDWELL
Is it not evident that if you take away higher education from fee-paying schools, you remove the only excuse there is for fee-paying schools? You make them then nothing but purely elementary schools. It is not in the interest of education that you keep on these fee-paying schools; you do it only for the purposes of class distinction.
§ (7.50.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 90; Noes 128.—(Div. List, No. 97.)
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
§ * MR. BUCHANAN
I beg to move—In page 2, line 5, to leave out the words 'until Parliament otherwise determines,' and insert the words, 'in the financial year ending the 31st day of March next after the passing of this Act.'The object of the Amendment is that the allocation of the new money should be limited to a single year. In asking this I think we have strong claims, for I think it must have been evident from the discussion which has already taken place that there is—and particularly with regard to the educational part of the scheme — great diversity of views, great uncertainty as to what the scheme really is, and ignorance as to what the operation of the scheme is to be. Therefore I think it would be a great misfortune to pass, in a sub-section of a Bill of this sort, an Act for secondary education in Scotland. It surely is only reasonable that at any rate this part of the 1818 proposals of the Government should be made temporary in its operation. If it is found that the method works better than we anticipate, then next year the money can be devoted to the same purposes. As the matter is so important, I venture to urge the principle of my amendment on the Government.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
I rise on a point of Order. I have an Amendment to leave out the word Parliament. If all the words proposed in the Amendment now before the House are left out, I am afraid my Amendment would be excluded.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that the issues are precisely the same, that the object of the hon. Member is the object of the other hon. Member (Mr. Buchanan).
§ MR. ROBERTSON
My object is, I submit, entirely different. It is to enable the House of Commons, by Resolution, not merely next year, but any year, to provide, alter, modify, or repeal, a scheme in any way the House may think proper.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
So far as the object of the hon. Member is to preserve the freedom of the House of Commons in future years, it is the same as that of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan): if the object is to give the House of Commons power to set aside the arrangement this year, it is otherwise irregular.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
My Amendment goes a long way beyond that of my hon. Friend. What I really want to do is to declare by this Act that it shall be in the power of the House of Commons at any time to pass a Resolution which should have the force of law, and should repeal the scheme in force under this Bill.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
I never heard such a novel suggestion. If the House of Commons wishes to do that, it already possesses the power without embracing it in an Act of Parliament. It should refuse to concur in a proposal it could immediately set aside.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
I do not wish to prolong the matter. The objection that this proposal is a novel one, is one I at once admit; but, if that puts me out of order, that is a totally different thing.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
It is so novel that it appears to be irregular. As far as I know, Parliament has never passed an Act making a law which may be immediately repealed by one House.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
I should like to know what meaning the Lord Advocate places upon this provision of the clause? No part of this Bill, no part of any Bill can survive one single instant beyond the time that Parliament should otherwise determine. Why are these words inserted here? If he will tell me that they do mean something, and that they have what I contend is the only rational meaning—that they mean there is not a permanent distribution of money—then I shall be content to allow them to stand. I should like to have a definite answer to these two questions. Do they mean anything or do they not, and if they have no meaning will he consent to their excision? Will he tell us that they are intended to be a warning to the Local Bodies, that although this scheme is embodied in an Act of Parliament it is not intended to be permanent or perpetual; but that they should take this money on the distinct understanding that at any moment this distribution may be changed by Act of Parliament.
§ * SIR C. J. PEARSON
The question is one which arose in this House two or three years ago. It was then explained that it was thought desirable to call attention to the fact that Parliament in passing the measure did not contemplate that it was necessarily a final settlement; but that is a different thing from the omission of the words and so throwing the whole subject open to annual determination. These words are intended as modified notice to the bodies who receive the money that they are not to rely too strongly on Parliament not interfering again. That, however, is a totally different thing from the Amendment of the hon. Member, who I think has not succeeded in making out a case. As I read his Amendment it applies to the whole of Clause 2, whereas his speech was devoted to the first sub-section, as if the Amendment were only to apply to secondary education.
§ * SIR C. J. PEARSON
I think it would be as unfortunate to confine the operation of Clause 2 in all its branches to the current year, as it would have been to confine the operation of the first clause under the previous Amendment.
§ (8.10.) MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN Stirling, &c.)
The explanation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir C. J. Pearson) really leaves this matter somewhat more bewildering than it was before. It must be perfectly evident to anyone who looks back upon all that has passed with regard to this money, and who recollects all that has been said about this money on the part of the Government, and to the intentions that have been expressed in Scotland, that there is no fixed or certain scheme to which the allocation of this money can be permanently made. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation contained one satisfactory element, and that was his acknowledgment, in reply to the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Robertson), that the words "until Parliament otherwise determines" were inserted in the Bill to give a hint to the recipients of the money not to count upon it as a permanent grant. But I cannot help thinking, notwithstanding what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the words in such clause are somewhat unusual. It is not uncommon to insert in a Bill some words with reference to the determination of Parliament, as in Clause 1, where in line twenty it says, "or of such other amount as Parliament may determine, having regard to the amount of the fee grant," thus leaving some elasticity as to the amount of the sum, and leaving it to be settled according to the determination of Parliament. What we object to, Mr. Courtney, with regard to a proposal of this kind is, that if it is not unconstitutional, it tends in an unconstitutional direction. There is every sort of argument in favour of making this a temporary Bill. There is the argument of a moribund Parliament, the argument founded on the fact that the opinion of Parliament is not fully made up on the subject, and the argument founded on the obvious fact that this, in its inception, is a makeshift arrangement of the Government. Our principal objection is strengthened by the fact that 1821 the same policy the Government are pursuing with regard to this Bill, they have pursued with regard to others during late years. We have had a Naval Bill, an Army Bill, and other Bills, every one of which appeared to be designed to take away from the House of Commons the control over the expenditure of public money, and to bring the House of Lords directly into partnership in the control of that money, thus depriving the House of Commons of a free hand to dispose of money raised by taxation, which according to the Constitution this House possesses. That is why we dwell upon this point to an extent that may seem unreasonable. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think it is important that the House of Lords should possess the key of the Constitution. That is the very reason we dislike the Bill, and see an objectionable tendency in the whole idea which underlies it. Well, Mr. Courtney, my hon. Friend has moved an Amendment for striking out certain words. I agree that these words, having the sense now attributed to them, had better be left in if we do not substitute anything else for them. But my hon. Friend moves to leave them out in order to substitute "in the financial year ending 31st March, after the passing of this Act." My hon. Friend wishes to confine the effect of this Bill to one year, and in that I shall strongly support him, not only on the ground of the merits of this particular case, but also because it is, I think, our duty to oppose every action which has any tendency to deprive the House of Commons of that perfect control over the finances of the country which the House of Commons should have.
§ (8.17.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman there is no dark design of the kind which he seems to suspect on the part of the Machiavellis on the Front Bench. Of course the words which the hon. Member proposes to leave out are not worth making a long fight for—they are according to a recent precedent—but if it will soothe the feelings of hon. Members opposite I shall be willing to accede to the suggestion to leave them out. I think, however, that I 1822 cannot agree to the words proposed to be substituted. The right hon. Gentleman proposes, I think, that for this year the scheme shall be left in a fluid and indeterminate condition, so that next year, under other and perhaps happier auspices, he may perhaps bring in a Bill embodying the proposals he desires to see adopted. It seems to me that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman is a better one than that of the hon. Member for Dundee, who thinks that this scheme should be fluid for all time, and thus leave the Local Bodies in Scotland in doubt every year as to whether some Vote in Supply might not entirely alter these funds, on the reception of which they may have framed all their schemes for the year and the general mode of conducting their business. I really cannot see how it can be supposed that this permanent uncertainty would find favour with the popularly-elected bodies in Scotland, which, after all, we have to consider.
§ (8.20.) DR. CLARK
I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment and move to have the words inserted in the next line, where they could be easily inserted. I recollect both the precedents which have been alluded to by hon. Gentlemen, and I think we should give a warning to the Local Bodies not to regard these grants as permanent. In my opinion it is very desirable that the words "until Parliament otherwise determines" should be left in the Bill, because they indicate that the Government is giving this money provisionally until they can look up and consider the whole question, and bring in a measure of a permanent character. I therefore trust that my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment as suggested, and then in the next line he can move for the words limiting the grant to the financial year ending 31st March to be inserted. That would prevent me from being compelled to vote against my hon. Friend, and probably also prevent my vote from being misunderstood.
§ (8.22.) MR. ROBERTSON
The First Lord of the Treasury has protested against any dark design being imputed to the Machiavellis on the Front Bench. It seems to me that the design is not dark at all. It is as clear 1823 as noon-day, and there is no mystery about it. The design has been pursued from the beginning, and these words which are now being challenged have no meaning at all, unless they mean that the Government want to bring in the veto of the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman talked about our wanting to have a fluid scheme. In what respect is a scheme depending upon the will of this House more fluid than an Act of Parliament? What is the difference? Simply that the House of Lords have a veto. Well, the Lord Advocate, I am bound to say, explained the meaning of these words with great candour. He has almost disarmed my opposition and that of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), and I am not sure that he has not nearly made a convert of the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman). The right hon. and learned Gentleman said most distinctly that these words are a warning to the Local Bodies, and he accepted my own words that this is not a permanent scheme.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
Here is a new complication and ambiguity. The words in the Bill have no meaning in law at all, as the Lord Advocate knows very well. All they signify is a warning from this House that this scheme is not a permanent one. Now he says "not necessarily" a permanent one. That reduces the words again to no meaning at all, because no scheme is necessarily a permanent one. Therefore, he is taking away a little from his candid explanation. If the right hon. Gentleman will let these words stand with the unqualified explanation that this scheme is not a permanent one, I shall be inclined to take the view of my hon. Friend and vote for the retention of the words "until Parliament shall otherwise determine."
§ (8.25.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I do not think the First Lord of the Treasury realises exactly what the effect of the Amendment, if passed, would be. It means that for this one year the money is to be granted as proposed, and that next year it shall be open to the House to 1824 decide whether it shall be granted by another Act or by vote of this House alone. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment for leaving out the words "until Parliament otherwise determines," and try to get his own inserted, because I think that this House should have the opportunity of deciding next year whether it will dispose of this money in a different way from that now proposed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate has said that the most elastic part of the whole clause is that dealing with the £60,000, because it depends upon a Memorandum issued by the Scotch Education Department. But this Education Memorandum is one of the points we take the greatest exception to. We say this Memorandum is, so far as we can understand it—and I do not think any hon. Member will find it easy to understand—does not put forward a satisfactory scheme, and one to which we can give our consent. And then we object to each proposal of this clause as it now stands, and therefore we propose that the effect of it should be limited to a single year.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The First Lord of the Treasury has introduced, not for the first time, Machiavellianism. I am not sure that his is quite an accurate view of Machiavelli's history and character, but, still, if there is a very designing person here who is up to what, in vulgar language, I should call "tricks," is not there a danger, I will ask my hon. Friends behind me, of getting rid of these words which, in themselves, are of some value and, after all, not being allowed to put in the words we wish? My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board has been in a somewhat lively condition for the last five minutes, and I have begun to think that perhaps he may be Machiavelli in person. With a view to the contingency I have just referred to, I am inclined to advise my hon. Friend to let these words remain lest we should get rid of them and not get others in.
§ *(8.29.) MR. BUCHANAN
Since I moved this Amendment we have had an interpretation of the highest importance put upon the words that I propose to be left out by two right hon. Gentlemen. And in consideration of the fact 1825 that we have already had a Division on the subject of making the whole of the Bill applicable for one year; and considering as well the statements made by the First Lord of the Treasury and by the Lord Advocate, that the words to be omitted are intended as a warning to the Local Authorities and other persons entrusted with the distribution of this money that the distribution is not necessarily permanent, I shall be willing to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *(9.6.) MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
The object of my Amendment requires very few words of explanation, as the facts of the case have been long before the House. It is the very opposite to the Amendment about to be moved by the right hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks). The right hon. Gentleman proposes to rob the ratepayers of £50,000 in order to add it to the £60,000, and so increase the grant for secondary education to £110,000. I propose to transfer the £60,000, which under the Government Bill is to go to secondary education, to the Town and County Councils. I would say in passing that, in the event of my proposal being accepted, I am perfectly willing to give the Town and County Councils freer hands than they have under the Bill. My Amendment will be seconded by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), who has also promised to act as Teller with me in the Division. I may mention that I was perfectly willing to accept the compromise in the Bill, because I think the compromise of £60,000 proposed by the Government is, on the whole, a fair one between the claims of the ratepayers and of higher education. Compromise is, however, a matter of give and take; and yet, so far as I can make out, those who are fanatically in favour of secondary education and fanatically opposed to the claims of the ratepayers are determined that their share shall be all take and no give. It is as a protest against this idea of theirs that I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 8, to leave out Sub-section 1.—(Mr. Hozier.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'In transferring to the Scotch Education Department' stand part of the Clause."
§ (9.8.) DR. CLARK
I would give the hon. Member my support if I thought the money would be expended in the way suggested by the Government, and if I thought it could not be amended; otherwise I should vote that it be not spent on secondary education at all. There is a large amount of money for secondary education at present, which was intended for the education of the poor, and now the Government are going to use this £60,000 for intermediate and technical education. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is not right. I should be glad to hear something from the Lord Advocate as to the course the Government are going to take in regard to the £60,000. Are you going to limit it to middle-class schools, or do you want to take in what may be termed intermediate and technical education? Do you want to limit this money solely and entirely to the burghs and the large towns, or are you going to give it in such a form that it will benefit the agricultural population, and so that we shall have agriculture taught and other subjects interesting to the country population as well as in the towns? I think we should have some statement from the Lord Advocate as to what he is going to do with this money.
(9.11.) DR. CAMERON
I have great pleasure in supporting this Amendment, but not for the Platonic reasons put forward by the hon. Member who proposed it. I support the Amendment, because I consider, so far as I can make out from the expression of the opinion of those who are best able to judge regarding such questions, that the money proposed to be devoted to secondary education under this Bill and scheme of the Government will be absolutely wasted. My hon. Friend asked for information as to how the Government proposed to distribute this sum of £60,000, but he will find that information given in the 1st clause 1827 contained in the Memorandum presented to the House by the Department. According to that, I understand they are going to give £45,000 by results; £1,500 to the higher departments in primary schools; and the remainder is to go to the expenses of testing the education by examinations. I am concerned in this grant chiefly and naturally on behalf of my own constituents; and I confess I fail to see how, under the provisions of this Bill, they are to be benefited. As I said before in connection with another matter, of the £60,000 the distribution of which we are now discussing Glasgow contributes by taxation £10,000, and anything less than that £10,000 which she receives is so much taken from the ratepayers of Glasgow for distribution in other places. I do not conceive that we would get back anything like the money taken from us by taxation, under this Bill. The Memorandum of the Department appears to me to be absolutely fallacious and unreliable. The figures in it are imaginary in the highest degree. Everything is an assumption. It states that the 50,000 children between the ages of 13 and 16 at present in the Board schools of Scotland will, by the operation of this proposal of the Government, be increased to 112,000. The number of children between the ages of 13 and 16 in all the public schools in Glasgow is only some 7,000. The Memorandum is not easy to understand, and I think, before we distribute this money, we should have some distinct explanation of it. In the first place, I may say the scheme proposed by the Government has been condemned in every quarter in which it has been criticised. There are a number of gentlemen who are strong advocates of secondary education on this side of the House, and there is not one of these gentlemen but denounced the scheme of the Government in the very strongest terms. [Mr. ESSLEMONT dissented.] My hon. Friend is very fond of speaking for other people. I do not say he has done so; but a very large number of Members on this side of the House have spoken in the very strongest terms against the proposal of the Government. To show that the case of Glasgow is not a singular case, take the case of Dumfries, as set forth 1828 in a Memorandum sent up by the School Board of that town. The School Board of Dumfries points out that the rates would have to be very largely increased under the proposal of the Government, supposing the attendance did not increase at all. The total increase would amount to £933. This increased burden would be imposed not for the burgh population in whom the ratepayers are interested, but for the purpose of educating the children of non-residents to the extent of half the attendance. And they go on to ask whether it is contemplated that any additional rating power should be given to carry out the provisions of this Bill. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can answer that question propounded by the School Board of Dumfries. There is one high school in Glasgow which for a very long period has occupied a high place among the educational establishments of the country, and it is a question whether it can be affected at all by the proposal of the Government. If the arrangements set forth in the Memorandum to be applied in the case of certain higher schools were carried out in this case, it would represent a loss on the average of £10, in the hope of getting £3 from the Government; and I do not know that that is a transaction that is likely to be entered upon. There are, however, a great number of endowed schools in Glasgow that will benefit, though not to any very considerable extent, by this proposal; but the majority of such institutions as will benefit by it are already richly provided for by endowments for the purposes of secondary education. Coming to the case of the higher departments in schools, as I understand the Memorandum pupils who are raised into the higher departments of these schools will cease to be entitled to a grant from the ordinary Education Fund. I think it is perfectly evident that Glasgow will not benefit with respect to her schools to the extent of anything like the £10,000 which she has to contribute to this scheme. Again, I protest against, and very strongly object to, the proposal of the Government, founded on the fact that we are asked to give this large sum of money under conditions to be subsequently determined by Minutes of the Education 1829 Department. The Education Department has been highly praised by various speakers who have taken part in the Debates on this Bill for its excellent management of Scottish educational affairs. I take the liberty to doubt—I will not say the ability of those at the head of the Department—but I doubt in the strongest manner the fact of their inclinations and their policy being at all in consonance with the views of the majority of the Representatives of Scotland. I can quote examples which will show the absolutely reactionary inclination of the Board and of the Department, and that the Department, however conscientiously conducted—and I do not mean for one moment to insinuate that the officials do not wish in the most conscientious manner to discharge their duties in accordance with their views—but I say that the instances which I shall quote will be sufficient to convince the House that the Department is not at all conducted by gentlemen in consonance with the educational policy entertained by the majority of the Scottish Members. What has been the attitude of the Department on free education for many years? Why, it was hostile in the strongest possible degree. Some of the Highland School Boards, who wished to discontinue fees in their schools as being detrimental to their usefulness, proposed a nominal fee of a halfpenny a week. The Department held that that was clearly an evasion of the law. Then, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who either was, or had recently been, a Vice President of the Education Department, ventured to make a speech in favour of free education, he was answered by an official of the Department. A permanent official of the Department stepped out of his place, according to the rules laid down by this Department, and either spoke or wrote publicly and in his own name against the views entertained by this gentleman who had been so long an official. To take a more recent case as illustrating the arbitrary manner in which the Department acts, and its total disregard of the views of the populace, take the case of the Port Glasgow School Board election. An 1830 insufficient number of candidates went to the poll, that insufficient number was declared elected, and the members elected then nominated the remaining members of the Board. That decision was followed in a number of cases. The legality of the election of such School Board was consequently tested before the Court of Session, and the Court pronounced that the election was invalid. The result was that 68 School Board elections, which had been carried out in the same manner, have been declared invalid. In certain cases the constituencies had been grossly dissatisfied with the School Boards which had been imposed upon them. That they had been so dissatisfied was proved by the fact that they had, in one case, gone before the Court of Session and got the appointment of the School Board annulled. The strongest representations were made to the right hon. Gentleman upon that point, and it was urged that he might remove the injustice by allowing a new election. But instead of that he re-nominated the Board that had been declared illegal and allowed the grievances of the ratepayers to remain. To show the autocratic disposition of the Department, I may mention that I put down on the Paper a Motion asking what School Boards could be rendered illegal through the decision of the Court of Session, and the right hon. Gentleman informed me that I might see the Return if I would wait upon him. When I went to ask the right hon. Gentleman for the names, he told me he did not consider he was bound by a promise so given across the floor of the House. This is the autocratic Department which appears to render, even the chiefs who are temporarily connected with it, absolutely careless not only of public opinion, but also of the courtesies and usages of this House. This is the Department into whose hands we are asked to hand over the absolute disposal of this money. The Memorandum is not intelligible, and I venture to say that no Member of the House who has attempted to study it and to see what its results would be in the constituency in which he is interested will be able to predict what would follow if the Memorandum were passed into law. For these 1831 reasons I heartily, and on much more than Platonic grounds, second the Motion. It appears to me that the money will certainly not be distributed by the Department in accordance with the advanced views of the present time; I believe the money proposed to be voted will be absolutely wasted under the proposal of the Government. I should like the proposal to be explained and drafted in some such way that we can understand it. To show how little the people of Scotland understand the force of this Memorandum, one of my hon. Friends showed me a long telegram which he received from the School Board of his constituency, in which it appeared to be assumed that this Memorandum was part of the Bill, and the Board requested him to move certain Amendments to some of the clauses. If we are going to spend £60,000, we might as well know how we are going to spend it. It appears to me we cannot do better than allow it to go in some direction where we shall know what becomes of it rather than into the hands of this despotic, arbitrary, and reactionary Department to do precisely what it likes with it.
§ (9.36.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I do say with some degree of earnestness, that, as the Mover of this Amendment has said that he is not serious in it——
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
My hon. Friend really approved of the Bill as it stood; and had not Amendments followed asking for a little more for education than is proposed by the Government, he would not, as I understood his statement, have moved this Amendment. I submit it is not worth our while to consider it any further; and that, in order to promote the progress of business, we might really go on to the earnest and well-meant, if mistaken, Amendments that follow, so that we may discuss what we are to do with education. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate will put an end to this discussion, which I cannot regard as being serious at all, and declare what the Government intend to do with regard to it.
§ *(9.39.) MR. MARK J. STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
I think the remarks 1832 of the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow with regard to the Scotch Department require some answer from this side of the House. I regret the spirit in which the hon. Member entered upon the subject. He has carefully thought out old grievances and old wrongs, and has raked up past times and bygones. I consider his accusations are most unfair, and I should like to put it to Scotch Members whether the facts are as the hon. Member has stated? No doubt the Department has exercised great caution. When free education was first mooted, long before Dr. Hunter appeared on the scene, I had some correspondence with the Department. I found the tone they took was not hostile to free education, but at the same time they pointed out the difficulties that stood in the way. I can conceive no better Department with which to entrust the disposal of this £60,000. What would the hon. Member propose to do with the money? Supposing it were handed over to Local Authorities would he frame a stereotyped Act of Parliament for their guidance? That is absolutely impossible; therefore, not to trust the Department is unfair and discourteous. We know it is very difficult to make the existing Code applicable to all parts of the country. Almost every district differs. The hon. Member mentioned the case of Dumfries. A considerable amount of correspondence has been going on between the Dumfries Academy and the Education Department, and if I am not wrongly informed the differences are practically solved. This Bill will enable poor men to forward their sons and daughters in secondary education. I should have preferred that a larger sum than £60,000 was to be given to secondary education, but I am convinced that the voice of the country is against it. In my own constituency there is a very strong feeling in favour of giving a large sum towards the relief of rates. But, at the same time, my constituents recognise that education must not be left out in the cold, and are willing to go so far. There is a stronger feeling still that this Bill of the Government is the fairest and most just Bill of any that has been brought in during this Parliament. I am 1833 speaking for Liberal as well as Conservative opinion. I do urge Gentlemen who are opposing this Bill to hold their hands. We have a General Election before us, and if they want to come back again they had better support the Bill to-night.
§ *(9.45.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I am sorry the hon. Member who has just sat down closed his speech by a sort of recantation of opinions which he held at an earlier period in the discussion. He has told us his first impression was that a larger sum should be devoted to secondary education, but now he is confident that £60,000 is quite sufficient. My hon. Friend's statement that a larger sum should be given in relief of rates might have been accepted if provision had been made for giving the Town and County Councils a free hand in dealing with the money; but if they are obliged to apply the money in relief of rates, then we are bound to take care that in that part of the Bill which proposes to give money for education, the sum should be considerably larger than that proposed. Now, we are placed in a somewhat peculiar position by the Amendment, because its terms are such that I imagine it will receive support very largely from all sections of Scotch Members. My hon. Friend proposes to leave out the words transferring the money to the Scotch Education Department. He makes that proposition in order that the money that is proposed to be given to the Scotch Education Department might be applied in relief of rates. What does that mean? It means that we are to relieve the ratepayer out of the pocket of the taxpayer; and while the rich and the poor taxpayers pay approximately in equal proportions, this is not the case with the ratepayers, as may be seen from a calculation made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) with regard to Scotland, showing that three-fourths of the people live in houses under £10 yearly rental, and pay about one tenth of the rates, whereas the people who live in houses over £10 pay nine-tenths of the rates. It seems to me that the sum of money to be given to education in Scotland has been kept down to £60,000, because it is thought that the Scotch Education 1834 Department could hardly dispose of more than that amount. I think the feeling of all sections of Scottish Members is in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite, though for varying and opposite reasons.
§ * MR. HOZIER
If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks) is not aware of the Gladstonian feeling in Scotland with reference to this question, I will read him an extract from the North British Daily Mail, with which I believe he is acquainted. It is the leading Gladstonlan organ in Scotland.
§ * MR. MARJORIBANKS
I do not think we need dispute the excellence of the North British Daily Mail; at the same time we are not obliged on all occasions to accept the arguments and conclusions put forward in that paper.
§ (7.44.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I had intended to support the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite to leave out this sub-section, but not with the object which has actuated him in moving it—namely, of getting rid altogether of the very moderate grant which the Government propose to make for the benefit of education in Scotland. It seems to me that the object we ought to have in view in rejecting this sub-section is to prevent the scheme, which is an extremely crude one, and entirely inadequate for the purpose, from being enacted in this House for the benefit of secondary education. I think the House will feel, when it looks into the Memorandum, that the data provided in it is altogether insufficient to enable us to now come to a conclusion as to the best manner of dealing with the question of secondary education. Therefore, after the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite has been dealt with, I propose to move the insertion of such words as will have the effect of referring the matter to a Commission for consideration. I hope that the Government will entertain that proposal, for by so doing I believe they will greatly facilitate the progress of the Bill. I do not know whether the Committee are aware that no Commission has investigated the question of Scotch secondary education, the extent of its endowments, and so on. We ought to have such information, for that which has 1835 been given us in such small fragments, and so slowly, is not sufficient for our purpose. Indeed, the more I look at this Memorandum the less I understand it. We should like to know whether the Government propose to include endowed schools, whether they are going to adhere to their proposal about fees, and how they are going to deal with schools in small burghs? These are only a few of the many questions upon which we desire to have some light. We want an inquiry not only for the purpose of informing ourselves, but also to elicit the views and sentiments which we believe exist in Scotland in a latent state, but which we have not yet seen fully developed. I can assure the Government that no attempt is being made to convert this question into a Party question. If there is any credit to be gained from the passing of the Act, the Government will get more credit by passing it after a full examination of the facts. I think, therefore, that our request for such an inquiry is a reasonable one. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Lanarkshire (Mr. Crawford) has an Amendment on the Paper by which the money would be distributed according to schemes prepared by the Education Committees of counties. It would, perhaps, be better that there should be some general inquiry by a Committee; but whatever conclusion may be come to, I do not think this is a matter which should be left entirely in the hands of the Education Department. The Government propose that many important questions should be settled by subsequent Minutes; but, for my part, I think they should be settled now. In discussing the Amendment of my my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Robertson) the Lord Advocate said "if the scheme succeeds Parliament will not interfere." The case I want to submit is that this may not succeed in giving Scotch secondary education either the extension or approval it requires, and that under it there may grow up vested interests on the part of School Boards and School Board teachers which will make it difficult for any succeeding Secretary of State, or even the present Secretary of State, to alter the scheme. I submit, therefore, that in this experiment 1836 we are running some risk, because if we allow a number of vested interests to grow up, and are subsequently convinced that the scheme is not the best scheme, but a most imperfect and unsatisfactory one, we shall be met by local opposition when we try to alter that scheme. What is wanted is a full preliminary inquiry, and by granting such an investigation the Government would lose nothing.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
My hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce) has made some reference to the Resolution I have lower down on the Paper, and I think he assumed the possibility of conflict between his proposal and mine. I do not think there would be any such conflict, because I may point out that my object, and I have held it for some years, in reference to secondary education in Scotland is that there should be Local and County Authorities, having the administration and charge of secondary education within their limit, in the same way that elementary education is managed by the School Boards. The proposal of my hon. Friend is that it is necessary and desirable to lay down by Commission, and at the starting point, some general principles. Of course in my scheme the corresponding duty would have rested with the Education Department, who, according to my Amendment, would have had the supervision of the County Council Scheme and the right of veto. Some concession upon this and other points would tend to modify opposition. We think, with regard to the matter of education, that sufficient information is not before the House. In illustration of this I may say that not a single Member around me has a copy of the Memorandum, and I do not believe that within the precincts of this building there is one to be got. That Memorandum was supplemented by the absolutely necessary information as to what the schools were to which this money was to be given, but that information was given in manuscript, which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman will admit was not the most convenient form. As far as I can understand the plan proposed by the Government, it is a most disappointing one; indeed, on the part of the schools or others interested, I have not heard one word in 1837 its favour. It appears to be based, so far as I can gather, on the cardinal assumption that the average fee in the schools is £6, whereas it is £8. That entirely upsets the calculation. I am surprised at this lapse, seeing that we have eminent gentlemen connected with the Scotch Education Department. There are some of the Edinburgh professors who, of course, cannot be expected to attend its meetings, but we have the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and my noble Friend Lord Sandford. I suppose we must assume that these Gentlemen took some share in the framing of this initial scheme to give Government grants in aid of education. If so, I am astounded at their production; and, if it was not as I assume, then we have reason to complain and good ground for asking that the country should have further opportunity of discussing and considering this matter. It is true that there is a precedent for tying down money in this way. We have the Imperial and Naval Defence Acts, and the Barracks Acts, but even these are coming to an end after a time. If the concessions which have been suggested were granted, and if a Committee, say of five, were appointed—not the Committee that would triplicate the influence of a subordinate official in the Scotch Office, but a really honestly composed Committee which would form an independent judgment on the matter—with instructions to report upon the Welsh system, I believe then that the opposition would be relieved. There is, however, a further concession. We consider the amount too small, and on independent grounds entirely object to the absolute limitation of the money given to the Town and County Councils to the relief of rates. It would be advantageous, I think, if that tying down of the money for the relief of rates were struck out, because then the Councils would have the right to dispose of the money as they pleased, and, having confidence in the desire for secondary and technical education, we believe that an additional source for drawing in aid of these subiects would thus be afforded. I admit that at present the number of people who take an interest in secondary education is comparatively 1838 limited. Interest in that subject has yet to be aroused, and proper information in regard to it procured by visiting the localities and by inquiry.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Hozier) has moved an Amendment which seeks to prevent the devotion of £60,000 per year to secondary education. I need hardly say Her Majesty's Government cannot follow him in that proposal. On the proposal itself, however, there has been grafted a debate, connected, but still only remotely connected, with the object my hon. Friend has in view, and in which issues of the gravest import for the progress of this measure are involved. In that Debate there have been speeches, and notably one from the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) and from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Crawford) attacking the permanent officials who have charge of Scotch education. I desire before going further to divorce myself absolutely from that attack. As Secretary for Scotland some years ago, and having never been wholly separated from Scotch affairs since then, being a Member of the Committee on Scotch Education, I have had means of acquainting myself with the earnestness, the ability, and the industry of the gentlemen who have charge of Scotch education. And I venture to say that in my experience of public servants—and my experience of them is not inconsiderable—no more deserving public servants exist. I do not hesitate to say that those who are called upon from time to time to manage the affairs of any Department never had a more discreet, faithful, and able servant than the Education Office possesses in the gentleman who is at the head of the permanent officials of that Department.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
I have made no personal attack on the official in question, and I may say that when I spoke on the Second Reading I paid a high tribute to his merits.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If I mistook the meaning of the hon. Member I am delighted to acknowledge my error. Well, Sir, a good deal of criticism has taken place on this clause of the Bill, because it is said that this binds us to 1839 a scheme embodied in a Memorandum which is in the hands of Members, and which has been made a subject of considerable animadversion. Sir, this clause binds the House to nothing whatever but the allocation of some £60,000 to the cause of secondary education in Scotland. The particular scheme advocated by the Scotch Education Department finds no place in the Bill, is not rendered necessary by the Bill, and could be altered without changing a single word of the Bill; and, therefore, it appears to me that we need not spend the whole evening in discussing a scheme which, in the nature of the case, need not be a permanent scheme. "But," says the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen, "If you start with this scheme you will practically create vested interests and your successors whatever their views may be on Scotch secondary education, will find themselves bound hand and foot by the precedents set in a hasty and ill-considered measure." That is his argument. "Cannot you," he says, appealing to us, "take steps for more maturely considering the effect before you embark on it?" Now, Sir, if my opinion is asked on the matter, I do not consider that any such course is necessary or advisable. If my own private opinion be of any value, I think the scheme put forward, framed in the first instance, as I have said before, by gentlemen more intimately acquainted with the needs and circumstances of Scotch primary and secondary education than any other gentlemen in the country, is a scheme well worthy of adoption by this House. That is the agreement; and if the Committee take my advice they will pass the clause as it at present stands, on the understanding that the scheme embodied in the Memorandum is to be the one we shall embark upon, subject to such modifications as future experience might show to be necessary. But, Sir, if this controversy with regard to the particular form of secondary education in Scotland would be terminated by an arrangement under which a Departmental Committee, not a Commission, should be appointed to consider the shape in which the first Minute of Council is to be framed; if the formation of such a Committee would 1840 really allay this prolonged discussion, I confess, though with great reluctance, and not believing it is the best course to pursue, I might, in the interest of Public Business, be induced to accept it as a compromise, but it must be understood that it is a compromise. If it be regarded as a compromise, and if it be understood that the Committee I have sketched out is not to be in any sense of the word a roving Commission, then, Sir, for my own part, I should be reluctantly prepared to meet the proposal of the hon. Gentleman opposite half-way. There is one other suggestion he made not relevant to this Amendment at all, but arising upon a later portion of the Bill, which he seems to regard as very important. He desires to see greater liberty given to County and Town Councils in the employment of the money referred to in the 5th sub-section of Clause 2. Now, Sir, if I may be permitted to travel away from the matter immediately before us, the 5th subsection provides that the money shall be used solely for the relief of the rates. An alternative scheme on the subject has been suggested by which it has been proposed that the money should be used for every kind of purpose other than, and outside of, this purpose. I admit it will be impossible for the Government to give the extreme latitude which some critics of this Bill desire in the employment of this £100,000 for local purposes. I do not think that could be assented to. But if it would meet the wishes of the Committee and meet in any way the intentions expressed on the other side, I should have no objection as a compromise to seeing added to the words "to be applied to the relief of local rates," some such words as would allow Town Councils and County Councils, under statutory powers, to apply the money either for the relief of the rates, as originally proposed, or for the promotion of such objects as they may have already the charge of.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to specify what objects he thinks would be under the authority, for instance, of the County Council towards which the money could be applied?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Only technical education. At present a County Council or Town Council have no educational powers except as far as technical education is concerned. But if words such as I have suggested were added it would be in the power of the County Council to carry out most of the objects which the hon. Member opposite—who is an old hand in connection with Local Authorities—desires, as well as the purposes of technical education which has been handed over to the Local Authorities by recent legislation. I hope the suggestion I have made will be accepted in the spirit in which it is put forward—the spirit of compromise—and that it will be the means of avoiding lengthy discussions on the Bill. If that end is obtained, and the concessions made are received in the way I have mentioned, I shall feel that while I have given up what I consider to be the best course to pursue, yet at the same time I have not, perhaps, given it up without receiving something of equal worth.
§ *(10.33.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I so fully recognise the value of the compromise offered by the right hon. Gentleman that I should be very sorry if any remark I made tended to neutralise the full admission on my part of the admirable spirit of his remarks. But, at the same time, he will understand that there are some of the conditions he has laid down with reference to this concession on his part—or the proposals he has shadowed forth—which I think call for some observation from us on this side. I really am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman has approached the subject in this spirit, because all of us who are Scotch Members must have at heart a patriotic desire to see the best use made of this money, whether it be for educational or any other purposes. First of all, let me dissociate myself from any imputation that has been made upon us that we in any degree attack my Friend who is at the head of the Scotch Education Department. We fully recognise his great merits and his great knowledge of the whole question, and the ability with which he conducts 1842 all the business entrusted to him. At the same time, I am bound to say that the Memorandum which has been put forward within the last few days is not, to say the least of it, a very luminous document. It is a document which makes this question very much more difficult to understand, and, in fact, from beginning to end it is a sort of puzzle. I have read it several times, and I have not yet arrived at a knowledge of its real meaning. Another fact I would point out is that this Memorandum having necessarily been put together under pressure, many of the facts upon which its proposals rest are found on further investigation not to be perfectly accurate. We have had within the last two or three days information from educational sources in Scotland which has enabled us to point to one or two grave errors in the Memorandum which really affect the whole of the calculations upon which the scheme is based. But after what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) has said, I do not propose to occupy any further time of the House in discussing the particular scheme put forward in the Memorandum, because the right hon. Gentleman has consented practically to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the matter, with a view to the framing of a scheme. The right hon. Gentleman based his consent, I think, upon a somewhat unworthy ground. He said it was merely to prevent discussion. I think it ought not to be put entirely on that ground, because if there were a prospect of a somewhat prolonged discussion on this matter it would not be an unjustifiable discussion, for it is a subject so complicated, and one which so lends itself to diversity of opinion on all hands, that it would have been strange indeed if there had not been considerable debate. But I quite see that the right hon. Gentleman may save time, from the point of view of the Government, by a concession of this kind. But I should like to point out to him that a great deal depends—in fact, almost everything depends—upon two things. First of all, what are the instructions to be given to this Committee; and, secondly, what is even more important, who are to be the Members of it. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. Crawford) 1843 spoke of a Committee honestly composed, by which, of course, he meant that it was a Committee in respect to which an endeavour should be made to fully represent all the different shades of opinion on this question, and a Committee which would not run on in the ordinary departmental groove. I would mention this apart from any criticism which may have been passed on the Memorandum of the Education Department, and merely as a point which seems a strong one in favour of inquiry by a Committee or Commission—that questions in Scotland vary so much in the various localities, in the different towns, and in the different counties, that it is vain to expect that a centralised Department could produce a homogeneous scheme which will apply with equal efficiency in all parts of the country; and I should like the Commission or Committee to take a broader view of this matter than would, perhaps, be possible in a Government Department. The right hon. Gentleman said—but perhaps this is going back on the Memorandum—that we are not committed to the Memorandum if we pass this Bill. I venture, with great respect, to differ from that statement, because we are told in the Bill that the new system of secondary education is to be based on Minutes issued by the Education Department; and when, with a view to the discussion of this Bill, a Memorandum has been issued setting forth the view of the Department, and the House of Commons passes this Bill with that Memorandum before it, it would certainly be said that the House of Commons had this particular scheme in view at the time it passed the Bill, and therefore we should, practically, be giving our authority and consent to these proposals if we passed the Bill. However, the right hon. Gentleman has appealed to us to accept what he calls a compromise; and, speaking for myself, I think it would be a very wise step to appoint a Committee or Commission, provided, as I have said, it is a competent Committee or Commission in the sense to which I have referred. As to the shortening of the Debate, I feel that it would only remove all necessity to discuss the particular scheme for the application of this secondary education 1844 money. I do not, however, think that we shall escape the necessity of arguing in favour of a larger total amount to be devoted to this purpose and I cannot promise that that time would be saved. I cannot promise that it would have any influence at all on the remarks that would be made on the grant to the Universities or the grant to Parochial Boards; but otherwise with regard to the secondary education sub-section, there is no doubt it would have a beneficial effect. Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to refer to a further concession—namely, that certain words should be put in at the end of sub-section 5 in order to give a larger discretion to Town Councils and County Councils. I have repeatedly during these Debates urged upon the Government the adoption of this course. I am willing to make this admission—that while in the case of the Town Councils, as I understand the state of the law, you could give perfect freedom of hand with the knowledge that they have ample power to devote the money to several useful purposes which could be mentioned, in the case of County Councils, there would be no such power without fresh statutory authority. I admit the difficulty which arises on the ground that the County Councils are, as I think, unfortunately so limited in the scope of their powers, and that they cannot at present employ the money for any other purposes except the relief of rates and technical education. In that sense I should be disposed not very much to object to what the right hon. Gentleman suggested, that the words should be put in, and that statutory powers should be given in future, because, as the necessity arises, it would be possible to extend the powers of County Councils in order that they might make the best of this money. With respect to the Town Councils, this money might be given to them absolutely without restriction, but, in any case, both Town and County Councils at present have the power to devote this money if they please to technical education, and, as I said, if fresh statutory powers are required it would be in our option to give them. If that is the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman made the proposal, for my part, I do not see any 1845 great danger in the insertion of those words to which he has referred. If his proposal as to a Committee is fulfilled, and if wider powers are given to the Town Councils and County Councils in the application of their money—if these two objects are carried out effectively, I think the right hon. Gentleman will have done much to ease the passing of this Bill, and to make the measure useful and beneficial to Scotland. I should like to ask one question with regard to this Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. Crawford) mentioned one special Instruction which might be given to this Committee—namely, that they should have power to inquire into the advisableness of setting up County Committees for secondary education after the Welsh pattern. I think most of us are agreed on this side of the House that that would be an excellent example to follow. Although the two cases are not actually similar, they are at least analogous, and my hon. Friend mentioned that the success of the Welsh system and its theoretical perfectness recommended it as an example which might be followed, and it would in any case be a useful thing if it were admitted to be part of the duty of the Committee to be appointed to inquire whether such a system could be beneficially applied to Scotland.
§ (10.48.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My right hon. Friend has asked me a question which I hasten to answer. He is probably aware that the conditions in Scotland and Wales are different, and that the existence of compulsory School Boards in Scotland differentiates the two cases in a very important sense. He is also probably aware that there might be a great deal of friction, and a great deal of difficulty in establishing a County Education Authority whose administrative powers would cross the administrative powers of the School Boards on certain important particulars. This might involve very serious friction between two popularly elected Bodies who represented different areas and different systems. But I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the case of Wales is one which cannot be ignored; it is the only case, so far as I know, in which secondary education has been handed over to any Bodies at 1846 all of the kind suggested. Therefore, we have gained in Wales a kind of experience which the Committee would no doubt think it their duty to examine, and I certainly think they should be permitted or instructed to make that inquiry.
§ (10.49.) MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
Does the First Lord of the Treasury contemplate extending the powers of the County Councils to enable them to spend money for all purposes for which the Town Councils can spend money?
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
At the present time both the County Councils and Town Councils can spend money for technical education. Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to consent to statutory powers so that they might, if they pleased, spend the money for the purposes of secondary education?
§ MR. HUNTER
There is one point which I should like the First Lord of the Treasury to explain. I think it would meet the views of Members on both sides of the House, and you would still retain the power of applying the money to the relief of the rates, if you were to give this money to the Common Good. That would enable us to do all that we can desire, which the statutory limits would not do.
§ (10.51.) MR. DUFF (Banffshire)
In reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Aberdeen, there is one point which has not been specially referred to before. My hon. Friend has an Amendment on the Paper which, if adopted, would give the County Councils complete power to apply this money for any purpose. In many cases, especially on the east coast, there is a desire on the part of County Councils to expend the money on harbours. At present, while the larger harbours have power to levy rates the smaller ones have not that power. Several of us tried to get them that power when the Local Government Bill was passing through the House; but we did not succeed. The result of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would be that the larger harbours could be assisted by the County 1847 Councils, while the smaller ones could not. The First Lord of the Treasury must be well aware of the condition of many of the harbours on the east coast of Scotland, and I am quite certain that the fishermen have his sympathy, and there would be great disappointment amongst them if the County Councils are not able to help the smaller harbours. As the County Councils are the creation of the present Government I think the right hon. Gentleman should have faith in them, and my hon. Friend reminds me that the money might be spent with the sanction of the Secretary for Scotland. The compromise proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would exclude assistance to those who are most in need of it.
§ * MR. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he will be able to give the names of the Departmental Committee, and the instructions that will be given to them, before the Report stage? If he can do that I do not see any objection to allowing the Bill to pass.
§ *(10.55.) MR. C. S. PARKER
I am decidedly in favour of this compromise, not only as a means of tiding over the position, but on its own merits, and I am sorry my right hon. Friend does not see the merits so well as we on this side see them. I associate myself with all that he has said in praise of the head of the Scotch Education Department, but after all he is only one man, and I am sure a better result would be obtained if there were others in consultation with him. This Memorandum, which embodies the scheme of the Government, and the copious criticism which has come, and is still coming, from School Boards and from the masters of secondary schools, should be carefully considered together. There are several points in the Memorandum on which the Department has modified its opinion: for instance, the minimum fee is fixed too low. Then in regard to the Local Authority, the question is whether the Welsh example of education committees might not be followed, instead of the Department's idea of grouping the School Boards. The Memorandum, and the information from those best acquainted with the matter afford ample material for the consideration 1848 of the Department, and I presume the result of the Departmental Committee's deliberations will be submitted to the Committee of the Privy Council. I think the plan is a very good one.
§ (11.0.) MR. ASHER (Elgin, &c.)
I fully recognise in the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman a desire to conciliate Scotch Members on this side. The point to which I wish to direct attention is the bearing of the Commission on the interests of the burghs. I understood that the right hon. Gentleman proposed an extension of power in the Bill to enable Local Bodies to apply this money not only to the relief of the rates, but for any other service for which they have statutory power. That is quite intelligible, so far as County Councils are concerned; but as regards the Royal Burghs that is a concession nominal rather than real, as it is evident that in addition to rates, and technical and secondary education, there are few additional purposes to which the Town Councils would be able to apply the money if the proposed alterations were made. I would point out that the Town Councils have different powers in the disposal of the Common Good in which they are not restrained by Statute, but can dispose of it according to their discretion. I would suggest that with regard to this money the Town Councils have freer hands, to the extent that they might frame schemes for the application of the money, which should require the sanction of the Secretary of Scotland before becoming effective. This money has to be disposed of largely in accordance with local requirements. Many burghs and counties will most gladly dispose of it in aid of harbours rather than in relief of the rates; and I would suggest that the Bill be so extended as to give power to expend the money in accordance with schemes framed by the Local Authority and sanctioned by the Secretary for Scotland.
§ (11.2.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would venture respectfully to warn the Committee against trying to do too 1849 much in the matter, or to press too far in the direction in which we have arrived at a certain point. The hon. Gentleman suggests that the Departmental Committee should consider the requirements of technical education as well as secondary education. After all, what we require is that there should be a Minute framed for dealing with this £60,000 a year; therefore, I do not think it would be advisable or convenient that the whole question of education of every sort, other than University and primary education, should, as it were, be thrown into the melting pot and poured out into some new mould by this Departmental Committee. I think by increasing their functions unduly you diminish their utility. As regards what fell from the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Asher), the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duff), and one other speaker, who have all pleaded that the extension which I offered to give should be yet further extended with regard to allowing burghs to spend their money, I may say I do not think we should make this grant part of the Common Good; that gives absolute licence to local authorities to spend it as they like, even on turtle soup and champagne, though I do not think Scotch Local Authorities are at all likely to deal with this money in that way. Still, I do not think it is our business to use the taxpayers' money for such possible purposes. If it is understood that no demands are to be made for the extension of County Council powers beyond those which they have at present, and beyond those which we may expressly from time to time confer on them, I do not know that there is any special objection, with proper safeguards, to the money being spent on harbours and other schemes sanctioned by the Secretary for Scotland. But I hope I shall not, if I make that concession, be met by further demands and asked for a further extension. I hope I have shown an ample share of the spirit of conciliation, and that we shall now be allowed to get through the Bill.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Committee could apply this money to the purposes of secondary education?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not consider that secondary education would fall within the limits of this part of the Bill, and I do not think it would do to allow the Committee to deal with this money for secondary education.
§ (11.6.) MR. ARTHUR H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I hope he will not exclude altogether the consideration of the other subject from the investigation of the Committee, because our experience in Wales, to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, has been that the two subjects are so closely allied together that they can hardly be disconnected. The whole of the money allowed for the use of education is being applied for secondary education, with the view ultimately of weaving technical education into it; and in England our experience is just in the opposite direction. I think the circumstances show that it is not desirable to exclude altogether technical education from the purview of this Bill.
§ (11.7.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman contemplates that this Departmental Committee should have under its purview the question of evening schools, especially in rural districts, where no secondary education at present exists.
§ (11.8.) MR. BARCLAY
As I have had some Amendments on the Paper proposing to amend the administration of the grant, perhaps I may be allowed to say that I think there would be much greater difficulty in dealing with secondary education in the counties than in the burghs; and I hope the attention of the Committee will be specially directed so as to make secondary education available for rural parishes, where at present a difficulty in obtaining secondary education now exists.
§ (11.9.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I think the right hon. Gentleman has shown every disposition to meet us, with regard to the questions which have been too much talked of, by a modification of the words in the latter part of this clause; and I feel satisfied from what he has said that he does desire to give in the most convenient and safe way the largest powers that 1851 can be reasonably given to County Councils and Town Councils, with whatever restrictions it may be necessary to impose for protection owing to their statutory powers. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that I think it would save time if he gave his assent to a Motion to report Progress, in order that the necessary words might be put down upon the Paper by the Government; and then I think I shall have authority to say, on the part of my hon. Friends, that there will be little difficulty in the safe passage of the Bill through Committee. Although there may be considerable discussion on some other points, there is no reason to doubt that the Committee stage of the Bill will go through the House to-morrow.
§ (11.10.) MR. DUFF
I think the First Lord of the Treasury has met us in a very conciliatory spirit. There is one point to which I should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and it is simply this: the Amendment to Clause 5 to be proposed by the hon. Member for Aberdeen would, to a certain extent, meet my case; but, as the words of the clause stand at present, they would not meet my case. I want to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman one case; it is the case of my own county, Banffshire. The Harbour Authorities have no legal power to levy rates, but they levy voluntary rates. As the Bill stands at present, it would be quite out of the power of the County Council to give anything towards those harbours which have a voluntary rate. On the other hand, if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Aberdeen were carried, it would meet my case, because it would have the effect of placing harbours, that have legal powers for levying rates and harbours that levy voluntary rates in the same position. I hope that point will not escape the attention of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (11.11.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I thought I had already explained to the hon. Gentleman that provision for such a public work as a harbour is already made in the Bill. I take note of what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs, that if the Committee should now adjourn, speaking on behalf of his friends, he 1852 has every reason to believe that the Committee stage of the Bill might be finished to-morrow. I propose, therefore, to assent to the Motion for Adjournment on that understanding. But, before I do so, it might, perhaps, be convenient that we should divide upon the present Amendment, because my hon. Friend behind me assures me that he must take a Division upon it, and, although I shall go into a different Lobby from that which he will go into himself, I think we ought to gratify him to-night before we break off.
(11.13.) DR. CAMERON
I think the House should not take a Division, because, so far as I am concerned, I consider the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman as extremely satisfactory. I explained my views with regard to the provisions of this Bill. I desire to see as much as possible of this money go to the relief of local burdens, because I wish to have an end put to this eternal see-saw which gives rise to fresh equivalents and fresh claims. The right hon. Gentleman now proposes to take a step which I think will lead to this £60,000 being well expended. I regard it as part of the compromise that so much of this money should be devoted to secondary education, so much to the Universities, so much to the Parochial Boards, and so much to the County Councils. It seems to me that we should have a very one-sided compromise, if we were going to have all the compromising in one direction.
§ *(11.14.) MR. HOZIER
Do I understand that the hon. Members who propose to increase the grant for secondary education are not going to move their Amendments? ("No!") If that be so, I shall withdraw my Amendment. Does the hon. Member for Aberdeen intend to withdraw his Amendment for increasing the grant for secondary education or not? ("No.") Certainly not? Then I beg to press my Amendment to a decision.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (11.18.) DR. TANNER
About this reporting Progress. During the course of the evening we have been told by many of our Scotch Friends that the whole time of the House would be taken up discussing the provisions of this Bill till twelve o'clock to-night; and there are certain other contentious measures awaiting discussion which are bound to meet with substantial opposition. I would therefore recommend our Scottish Friends, who happen to be here in such force this evening, to go on with their business instead of postponing the discussion of this Bill and taking up the nice bait offered to them by the First Lord of the Treasury. I do hope that, instead of postponing the discussion (cries of "Divide!") and pursuing a policy of procrastination, the Members from Scotland will attend to their business and carry on this Debate until the hour of twelve o'clock, when no other Public Business can be proceeded with. I do hope a sensible view will be taken by hon. Members sitting above the Gangway on this side, and by hon. Members on that side of the House. I take this opportunity of opposing the Motion that you report Progress.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.