§ The VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL ON EDUCATION (Mr. ACLAND, York, W.R., Rotherham)
Mr. Mellor, in a Session so laborious as this I feel that the question of National Education must be content to take a somewhat modest place, although I am sure that no one will regard as too modest the sum of money given for the education of the children of this country. I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I select only a few of the more important topics which seem to me desirable to allude to to-night, leaving 899 many parts of the very wide field of education untouched, and promising to answer as far as I can—after what is, after all, only a short experience of my Department — all questions which hon. Members may think fit to put to me later on. I am quite sure we can say there is a steady improvement going on in the quality of the National education. It is, nowadays, less mechanical and more intelligent than it used to be. There is a greater endeavour on the part of everybody, whether it be the voluntary, or the Board schools, or the teachers, or the Department and its various officers, to make education less mechanical and more really fitted to the object we have in view. If one thing has tended to produce this result more than another it is the Act of my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir W. Hart Dyke). The new Act of 1890 presented enormous advantages as compared with the Codes which had preceded it. I think we are all now agreed that, whatever may have been the merits for the moment of the Revised Code of 1862, it was far too mechanical and inelastic to serve the purposes which are demanded by National education in this country. Mr. Matthew Arnold said with great truth that general payment by results was a remedy which was worse than the disease. That mechanical form of payment, however, hung round our Codes till 1890, when so much was done to give elasticity to our education. We are now taking a broader view of education than we used to do. We see that the object in view is to consider not merely what our children know when they leave school, but what they are and what they do. We are now bearing in mind that the great object before us is not merely knowledge, but character; and we are remembering that, as a very wise man, Bishop Butler, said in the last century, "of education information is the least part." We are considering more than we used to do how far we are really drawing out and training the best faculties of our children. The most important feature of the statistics of this year, as compared with last year, is the increased average attendance of 120,000 children for the year ending in August, 1892, the increase in the year ending in 1891 having been only 32,000, and in the year ending in 1890 having been 900 only 35,000. We have to go back for eight years for anything like as large an increase in the attendance. We cannot doubt for a moment, both in the case of the infants and of the older scholars, that the increase is largely due to the Free Education Act of the late Government. When we compare our present condition with the state of things a good many years ago, then, and then only, can we really see what is the value of the work of the last half century. I was reading the other day a Report for the year 1843 with reference to Lancashire, and I find it stated that in the neighbourhood of Ashton, in an area only eight miles by four, containing a population of 105,000, there was only one single day school for the children of the humbler rank. Fifty years afterwards we can say for certain that there would be accommodation in any district in the country of similar population for at least 20,000 children. It is only in this way that we can realise what progress has been made. If we compare ourselves with other countries we are bound to feel that it is only comparatively late in the day that we have undertaken this great work of National Education for all our children; and if there are imperfections still hanging round our system the wonder is not that they are there, but that we are getting rid of them so rapidly. Some of the statistics are somewhat confused by the working of the Free Education Act; but, generally speaking, we have 20,000 schools, and on the registers of those schools there are just over 5,000,000 children. Of these children rather more than 4,500,000 are present at examination, and we have an average attendance, which is after all the important point, of not far short of 4,000,000, the actual figures being 3,870,000. We have 100,000 teachers to teach those children, about half of them being certificated, and we ask today for £6,200,000, this being the largest request ever made for education in this House. Of the total amount, £3,750,000 is for ordinary grants to the scholars in day and evening schools, and £2,000,000 for the fee grants under the Act of the late Government, which leaves something like £500,000 to be divided between the Training Colleges and the administrative work of the Department. To meet this large State 901 grant we have a slight increase from the rates of about £250,000, whilst voluntary contributions have increased approximately from £780,000 to very nearly £800,000—an increase of between £19,000 and £20,000. We have, of course, a decrease in the school pence, but that I will not go into, as this particular year does not give us sufficiently accurate information. There are two forms of addition to the number of scholars in particular subjects which I am sure the House will view with great pleasure and satisfaction. In the first place, there are 22,000 more girls learning cooking than was the case in the preceding year, making a total number now receiving instruction in that subject of 90,000. I only hope that that increase of 20,000 girls a year as cookery students will go on over and over again for a number of years, and even at a more rapid rate. We ought to contemplate the time when it will be possible to have 500,000 girls learning cookery in this country. When we realise how little this subject has been practically studied in England by the working people, and perhaps even still less by what are called the upper classes, and when we consider what an enormous waste of food there is in this country, owing to want of knowledge as to the best ways of preparing it, I am certain we shall feel that the money spent in teaching girls cookery is money that ought not to be grudged for a single moment. Then the subject of drawing, owing to the compulsory provision of the Code of 1890, is at the present moment being taught in 19,000 schools, as against 6,000 in the year I have mainly in view for comparison, the total number of children who are now learning drawing being 2,000,000. When we remember the view that is now taken in this country as to the importance of making our workpeople better craftsmen, and of increasing their knowledge of how to use both their eyes and their hands, I am sure we shall feel that the increase that has taken place in the number of students of drawing is an admirable thing. I turn for a moment to the children themselves, and first of all I will deal with their attendance. There are two elements in reference to the question of the attendance. First of all there is the law, and then there is the action of the children 902 themselves. As to the law, I am bound to say I wish we could feel that all the Boards and School Attendance Commmittees throughout the country were doing as well as the best of them are. The work done by the admirable staff of attendance officers which serves under the London School Board is worthy of the highest possible praise; and I only wish that some other Attendance Committees and Boards would see the necessity of carrying out their work in the same way. As long, however, as Boards are content to give £10 or £15 to a school attendance officer, you cannot expect to get the best results. Then there is the question of the children themselves, and I entirely agree with one or two Inspectors, who have said that a bad school will always fail to secure a good attendance, make the law as strict as you will. I think that in itself is a strong argument for our doing all we can—Department, Managers, Inspectors, Attendance Committees, and everybody else—to improve our schools in order that they may be happy and attractive places for the children to go to. In connection with this question of attendance, I need not recall to the Committee the Debates we have had in former Sessions in reference to the present state of the law. The Debates in connection with the Berlin Conference, and what appeared to be the wishes of our Representatives at that Conference, are fresh in the memory of many Members of this House. In a Session like this, we cannot hope to do much in the way of legislation; but I hope it will be possible to pass a short Bill on the subject. I wish to say that, inasmuch as under the Factory Acts no child can go to work until it is 11 years old, in my opinion we ought to provide that, under any other circumstances, no child should leave school before it is 11 years old. I must say I think that is a very modest demand, and one which, notwithstanding what has been said against a part of it by an hon. Member on the other side, I trust we may be allowed to pass into law in the present Session. Now, taking the schools as they are, and looking at their curriculum. I can fairly say that the entrance to the temple of education in the form of our infant schools offers one of the brightest points in the whole of our educational system. Of our best 903 infant schools we may say that they are as good as any infant schools to be found in any country in the world. They are managed and looked after by willing teachers of the very highest skill and capacity, when they are at their best. And when we pass from them to the older scholars' schools, I think that, notwithstanding much which stands in need of improvement, we may say that by steady degrees the teaching is becoming more and more intelligent. Taking the "Three R's" you find that the teaching is aiming not only at the result, but at making the process of instruction more intelligent, and that is the most important point. It is not merely a question of whether the child can read and figure at a certain time of its life; but whether the processes by which it has been taught to read and do arithmetic are intelligent processes, or mechanical and stupid processes. If they are intelligent, the child, besides knowing how to read and do arithmetic, will be better and more intelligent, because it will have its faculties wisely and well brought out by capable teachers. When you pass from these three subjects you find cookery and drawing rapidly increasing. And then we come to what we call the class subjects. Here you have alternatives—English (including grammar), geography, history, and elementary science, besides needlework for girls. English for a long time was a compulsory subject, and it is still the most largely taught. It is taught in 18,000 schools, and geography in 13,000 schools, and those two subjects at present seem to carry almost all before them. History is taught in only 1,800 schools, and elementary science in 788 schools, as against 173 in the previous year which shows a considerable increase. I do not venture to say what are the respective merits of these subjects; but I may say that it was very wise of the late Vice President to make English and grammar a voluntary rather than a compulsory subject, for, in the hands of a bad teacher who really did not know how to teach it, I doubt whether it would be of very much advantage to the children. Of course, a great number of the older teachers are accustomed and will continue to teach the subject; but I am glad that it is open to the teachers and managers to choose geography and his 904 tory, or geography and elementary science, or history and elementary science; and, for my own part, I hope that many will see that unless they can be sure that English and grammar are being taught in a really intelligent manner, so as to be a good logical exercise, they are better not taught at all. Geography is much more easy to be taught with fair results, and I hope that elementary science will by degrees be much more frequently taught than hitherto. It has been drafted and arranged in the Code so that in our country schools it can be used in order to give simple elementary instruction in agricultural matters to the children —instruction about animals, bees, gardening, food-plants, and the use of tools— and we must feel that teaching of that sort, telling of things they meet in their daily life, comes home to the children in our country schools and is very valuable. In trying to improve the intelligence of teaching work we have in Wales encouraged the use of the language, which in the Welsh-speaking district the children use at home, as a vehicle for obtaining a better knowledge of English. I must say, from my own experience, and from what Inspectors have told me, that by teaching with the Welsh and English side by side, in double-column books, so that the children have before them the language that they know and the language that they wish to learn, a more intelligent knowledge of English is obtained. In all these matters we do not like to have parrot-like children— glorified parrots—reading by note. We want to see the children reading intelligently, and thoroughly understanding what they read. In the higher subjects the increase is slow. I wish, instead of having 90,000 children presented, we had a great deal more in these subjects. The great object should be to try by degrees to keep our children longer at school. With regard to the general curriculum, the wisest course, I think, is to leave it to the managers and teachers to work it out as they think best in their own way. Therefore, I do not intend, in offering these remarks on the subject, to say anything in the way of direction as to what they ought to do. There are, however, two or three suggestions which I would make. I think that, while we are developing, I hope intelligently, the mental work of our 905 children in the schools, we should not forget the great importance, especially in towns, of developing the body as well as the mind. We ought to call upon the managers of our schools as far as possible to bear in mind the great importance of physical exercise. Gymnastics, where-ever possible, ought to be encouraged, whether in the simplest form in our infant schools or in a more developed form in our playgrounds. As one of our Inspectors has very wisely said—If you teach gymnastics in some of our larger towns under the hands of a really skilled teacher, it is better than the mere mechanical work of military drill, or, perhaps, of any form of drill.An hon. Friend in this House told me the other day that an intelligent working-man said to him, "You would turn our children into tadpoles—all head and no body." The only way to avert any tendency in that direction is to pay constant attention to giving the children enough fresh air in the intervals between the hours of school, to increase gymnastics in the school and playground, and to do what many teachers do encourage—the playing of cricket and football, and swimming, if possible on Saturdays, or whenever there are opportunities for it. I am bound to say that the time when the children received the most serious check in many of our schools is when they pass from the infant schools to the lowest standard. In the best infant schools is spent the happiest time of their lives —when at the ago of six or seven they reach the top of the infant school. When they pass into the lower schools they may fall into the hands of teachers not the most skilled, and have to go through routine teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the beginnings of grammar, geography, and so on. In the best of our London schools great pains are taken to carry on under an admirable syllabus the intelligent teaching of object-lessons in a way which the children thoroughly enjoy. I hope the time will come when—I do not say immediately— in return for a higher grant, means will be taken to carry on in the older schools amongst children of seven or eight some of the work at present done so well in the infant schools. I am assured by masters and mistresses that an hour or two a week of this intelligent object-lesson teaching, so far from interfering 906 with or taking away from the effectiveness of the general instruction given in the school has the contrary result, and that once it is tried masters will not give it up even if they are asked. Then, as regards the country districts, I hope that by degrees we shall find more opportunities of sending travelling and organising teachers around to the infant schools to help and encourage school teachers, who seldom now get persons to help and encourage and advise them in developing and improving their work. I now pass from the children to the buildings in which they live during their school hours. This subject has been one which has excited a good deal of interest I believe, and, certainly, it has been the subject of two Debates in another place. A Circular was sent round by me asking for a statistical inquiry into the general condition, and especially the sanitary condition, of our schools, and I have, on the whole, very good testimony from persons who do not agree with me in politics that the action taken by the Inspectors has been of a fair and reasonable kind. If it is asked why that action has been taken, and why I am developing the work of improving school buildings in which the children spend their lives, my answer is, first of all, because the Code which has the force of an Act of Parliament demands it. The Code says that, before giving grants to schools, the Department must be satisfied that the school buildings are properly warmed, drained, and ventilated, supplied with suitable offices, and containing sufficient accommodation for the scholars attending the schools. The Department have for years been more or less trying to carry out that object. What I have read applies to town and country schools alike, but what I am now going to read applies to country schools. On the first introduction of the Education Bill of the late Government something was said about the surplus. A grant that is equivalent to about 3d. a week per child was given to schools where the fee was only about 1d. or 2d. That left a considerable balance, and it was said that it would go into the pockets of the country clergymen. The late Vice President of the Council said—The hon. Member has made a large assumption when he suggests that the money will go into clergymen's pockets. The first duty of the 907 Education Department, however, will be to secure greater effort in all these country schools; and, so far as I am concerned, I am prepared to pledge myself and the Department that, if this measure is passed, the educational condition of country schools must be improved, and the excuse of poverty will no longer be permitted.If I had used those words I should have been considered an extremely cruel person. In the next place, the Inspectors have been calling upon me, as they have called upon my right hon. Friend, to try and press on improvements. One Inspector writes that—Clothes are often hung round the schoolroom or packed closely in passages with great danger of infection.Another Inspector says—Thus the biennial period has been by no means barren of results; but the number of rural schools that are badly built, devoid of lavatories and cloak-rooms, or defective in regard to ventilation and warming is still very large, and some of them are systematically overcrowded for many months in the year. The town schools are much more satisfactory as a rule.Another Inspector says—One shudders at the recollection of numbers of little children crowded together in places with an exhausted and poisonous air and little light. What but harm can follow in such circumstances? But this is not uncommon; in varying degrees it is of frequent occurrence, and will continue until strenuous measures are taken to abate the evil. In several schools which I visited with Mr. Freeland the state of things in this respect was horrible.Then he says—Some persons say that these schools are quite as sanitary as the homes of the children. The refutation seems as obvious as unanswerable—that the homes of the children are not satisfactory, and cannot, be the measure of what their schools should be. Much of their home life is an open-air life, and escapes much of the bad effects of the indoor conditions of their houses. I do not hesitate to say that I would far prefer to see the children playing in the streets than cabined in some of the miserable places that go by the name of schools. If the nation compels its children to go to school, it incurs the responsibility of seeing that they are provided with accommodation in which their health can be maintained in vigour. The new Code has in this matter taken great strides ahead.
§ MR. ACLAND
The Inspector is Mr. Coward, a Roman Catholic, and the observations I have quoted were published in the Report of 1891–2.
§ MR. ACLAND
Lancashire. Another Inspector says that the want of cloakrooms and class-rooms and offices is a serious drawback in various places. The Inspectors, it will be admitted, are an impartial body of persons, and they are not dealing with one set of schools as compared with others. One says that some of the worst schools are schools taken over by School Boards many years since. Of course, it is only to a certain number of schools that these remarks will apply, because there are a great many admirable schools. But, so far as they do apply, they apply to the schools of all classes alike—Board schools Church schools, Roman Catholic, and British and Wesleyan schools. On January 9, 1892, not very long after the passing of my right hon. Friend's Education Act, The School Guardian said—Unfortunately, many of our school buildings were designed at a period when the laws of health were imperfectly understood and when the external conditions of a sound and effective education were scarcely considered. Not unfrequently the sites were ill-chosen; the drainage is often imperfect; the lighting is, occasionally, so deficient or ill-contrived as to be productive of constant discomfort and injurious both to sight and to healthy bodily development; the ventilation is sometimes utterly inadequate, sometimes effected in the crudest ways; lavatories and cloak-rooms are too often conspicuous by their absence; the offices are sometimes injudiciously placed, insufficient in point of number, and imperfectly separated; and playgrounds are not always proportioned to the size of the school. We are far from suggesting that all these defects are to be found in the same schools, or that they are of common occurrence; but, wherever they exist, they call for attention and remedy. This is not a mere matter of State requirements, but of health, comfort, efficiency, and, in a large sense, of morality also.Of course, Lord Cross's Royal Commission called attention to the need that the State should be more exacting in requiring for the children a proper amount of air and space, and suitable premises and the like, and after this Circular was issued the following remarks were made: The Bishop of London said that, in consequence of the demand of the Education Department, "an emergency has come upon us," but that the demand is "a just demand, a righteous demand." The Bishop of Rochester said it seemed to him that the demand "is fair and right in principle." And, again, the Committee 909 of the London Diocesan Board of Education said the requirements were "reasonable," while at the Congress of Church School Teachers at Eastbourne there were many things said to a similar effect. Finally, I find the officials of two Church Societies say that in no single case can they say that the Department has been in the least degree harsh. Their only surprise is that some of the abominations ordered to be removed have so long been tolerated, and they think that the authorities would have been culpable had they not done so promptly. For my own part, it seems to me there has been a good deal of misunderstanding about this, which really is a continuing work that has been going on from year to year. There was a letter written by "A Perplexed Parson" to The Times the other day, in which he said of the school which he found thatThere are no drains to speak of; the whole place reeks with sewage gas.that the provision in the way of offices was utterly insanitary, thatThe floors are uneven, the desks old-fashioned and bad, the roof leaking,and thatWhen the medical officer of health comes he will certainly close the school.
§ MR. ACLAND
It is an anonymous letter, but The Times must have been satisfied as to the bona fides of the writer or it would not have inserted it.
§ MR. ACLAND
Yes. If the hon. Member will refer to another anonymous letter in The Times of to-day he will see that the writer is perfectly well aware of the school which is dealt with in the letter in question. If any of us were to hear that any of our children were at a school which could be so described, what should we do? I think I know what most of us would do.
§ MR. ACLAND
The letter is written by "A Perplexed Parson." It was inserted on July 27th in The Times, which, I presume, satisfied itself about the writer and the bona fides of the case.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
Does the right hon. Gentleman know whether The Times investigated the genuineness of the case?
§ MR. ACLAND
If the hon. Gentleman will refer to another letter which appears in The Times of to-day, written by the Secretary of the London Diocesan Society, I think he will see that he knows the school. If we spend £6,000,000 on the education of the children, and if we ask from the Boards and the managers that they should find the buildings and the apparatus, I think we must insist on doing what previous Governments have done; in the words of the Report of the Royal Commission—The State may well be more exacting in requiring the proper amount of space, air, playground," and so on, "within reasonable limits of time.Those very words are contained in the Circular No. 321. Before I leave the question of buildings and provision made in buildings, I should like to say a word upon one or two points. There are only one in four of our schools that have school libraries. I think there is no way in which generous-minded men and women could more freely spend their money with the certainty of the money being well spent than in giving school libraries to our children. When it is asked — "What books should be lent to the children?" I would say — "If you have children of your own, find out what books they like, and you may be sure that they will be the books that will be best appreciated in the Board schools." There is nothing we should be more anxious about than that when children learn to road they should have good and healthy and interesting books to read at their own homes, instead of much of the trash so widely circulated. As to making our schools bright and pleasant places, some very excellent work has been done by certain Associations in the way of providing, cheaply and reasonably, pictures to hang on the walls of the school. I wish to speak in the highest terms of the work of these Associations. There is one thing left out of sight even by them, however, an that is that in many of our schools therd is a large portion of the wall, about fore or five or six feet down from the roof 911 which cannot be occupied by the smaller pictures or maps or diagrams, or anything connected with teaching but which might very well be occupied by artistic designs on a large scale, so as to give pleasure to the children while inside the school. There are many of our artists at South Kensington sincerely interested in this subject. One of them, whose able illustrations of children's books are so well known, has drawn for me several sets of pictures, illustrative of historical and other subjects, and I should be happy to show them to any hon. Member desiring to inspect them. Now I would say a word about free education. Since the present Government came into Office an important section of the Act has come into operation. It may be remembered that by the Act it was provided, first of all, that schools which charged less than 3d. a week should be free right off. As to those which charged more than 3d., they might take the 3d., and charge the balance— that is to say, supposing they charged 6d. they could continue to charge 3d. But that arrangement only went on under the Act for 12 months, and on and after September 1, 1892, any parent who was paying this extra 3d. might ask for a free place as an absolute right. It has been my duty to make that known to teachers. On the one hand, it has been necessary to make that known; on the other, it has been equally necessary to make it known that there is no compulsion on voluntary schools in the matter, though a great many of those schools have, as I think wisely, set their schools free altogether. Of course, in a parish where there is only one school, and that a voluntary school, and the managers will not provide free places, the ultimate result would be the setting up of a School Board in order to supply the free education which the parents have a right to for their children. I have received many letters from parents asking for free places. Even 6d. a week for two or three children is often a heavy burden in the weekly budget of a man who may be out of work or employed at low wages, and I cannot help hoping that more and more schools that now charge fees will ultimately be made free, so that parents may not have to ask for consideration or may not feel that there is any distinction 912 between non-fee-paying and fee-paying children. That, of course, is not demanded by the Act, and the proper course of the Department is to work the Act fairly and reasonably. [Viscount CRANBORNE: Hear, hear!] I venture to say it has been so worked by me; and if the noble Lord will show me that it has not been so worked I shall be obliged to him. In some places this subject has been taken up very strongly, and there is no more notable case than that of York. In the case of York we received Petitions from 5,000 parents asking for free education for their children, and stating that they could not obtain it in the existing schools. The result has been that the York School Board has been called upon to deal with the matter; and they are building one school for 1,500 children, and are about to build a second so as to provide 3,000 free places. The supply of books was raised the other day by a question put by the noble Lord, and the point has been brought into prominence by the working of the Act. For some time the questions of fees and books were mixed up. It was then laid down that where the fees were less than 3d. a week it would be illegal to make a charge for books. It was also soon discovered that, in accordance with the Act of 1870 and the Code of 1890, it was not possible to make a charge for books a condition of entering any school whatever. As long as the fee might be supposed to cover or be combined with a charge for books, the question did not arise in the way it does since September 1. The words in my right hon. Friend's Code of 1890 as to the proper provision in schools of furniture, books, maps, and apparatus make it absolutely binding upon managers that parents who do not wish to pay for books cannot be required to do so. [VISCOUNT CRANBORNE: Is that under Article 85?] Yes; the words were added in the Code of 1890, which brought in the provision of furniture, books, &c. The gratifying increase of scholars in our schools was an important fact. We expected that with the abolition of fees there would be a great increase in the number of infant scholars, because mothers would send infants to be taken care of; but a good half of the increase is due to elder scholars. The attendance of the younger scholars is 913 very irregular, but the attendance of the older has been extremely good—fur above any average hitherto known. The attendance of infants is just over 50 per cent.; that of the older scholars is 92 per cent., which is over the average of even our best schools, so that taking the two together we get an average of 77 per cent., which is about the ordinary average of the country. I am glad to say that the £5,000 a year which has been added to the Pension Fund for teachers has been of the highest value, and has saved us for the moment from the painful task of trying to judge between the merits of a large number of old and deserving teachers. We were able to do something in every case, except where there was some question of character or other condition that made it impossible or inexpedient to grant a pension. In view of the Resolution of the House on the subject of pensions for teachers a Committee has been appointed to consider the Report of the Committee of this House and other proposed schemes. The Committee will consist of five persons—two to represent the Education Department, two skilled actuaries, and one to represent the Treasury. There are other points on which I have received representations from teachers. One is that, considering the severity of their work in many schools, they feel strongly they ought to be relieved from what may be called extraneous duties which may be placed upon them. The other is that they would like to feel greater security of tenure in their offices. For my own part, while I quite agree that it would be inexpedient that the Department should be made a court of appeal in all these matters, and while I admit that teachers are occasionally unreasonably dismissed —I am drawing no distinction here between small School Boards and managers of voluntary schools, yet I think it is desirable that their legal position with reference to their security of tenure should be improved. We have made an alteration in the Code with reference to the position of organising teachers; and we hope that School Boards and voluntary managers will do all they can to develop this work under organising teachers, seeing that it has been so useful in London and elsewhere and that it is so helpful to pupil teachers. 914 The day Colleges are making satisfactory progress in towns where Universities or University Colleges exist. Many of us are well aware of the advantages to be gained by residence in a College, and I am glad to say that in some towns where there is a day Training College provision is being made to enable students to live together in halls or hostels so that they may have some of the advantages of residential life as well as University teaching and training. County Councils are doing good work with the money placed at their disposal, and certain of their classes are admirably attended by younger teachers in the hope that the instruction they receive may assist them in doing their school work. The Universities gather together large groups of teachers, some in term time and some in the vacation, and so in a- friendly way help them to realise what University life really is. Other Bodies, like the Teachers' Guild, are practically breaking down the barriers between one class of teachers and another, and recognising that they are all engaged in the same noble work; and no body of teachers deserves the tribute of such a recognition more than the teachers who are engaged in the difficult task of teaching the children of the working classes in our towns. If it were possible for one moment to set aside questions of religious instruction and of rates, I would say that what almost all persons who are interested in education feel is this: that we want, whether in town or country, better organisation of our various schools. In the country districts the area of many a School Board is much too contracted, and it would be better if we could merge many of these smaller Boards into one Board covering a larger area. The Boards and the schools would gain by such concentration. It would facilitate the better organisation of teaching power, and it would reduce the costs of separate management. I do not want to touch the question of religious instruction in Board schools, as to which certainly there is no great demand for an alteration of an arrangement made by Mr. Forster in 1870. From information I am constantly receiving I am bound to say that if gentlemen from this House or from outside would take the trouble to go into some of the larger Board schools, in London or elsewhere, in the opening hour of the forenoon, they would 915 at least see, as some of the clerical Inspectors report from personal knowledge, that a great deal of the religious instruction that is given in these schools is of a reverent and earnest character within the limits which are laid down by the Act. Apart from this, I may ask this question: Where should we be now were it not for the work which has been carried out by these School Boards? There would be large districts where the children would be little better than savages. They would be like the district in Lancashire 50 years ago, which I have described. Take the case of Lambeth, near us here. Five-sixths of the children are in those splendid buildings erected by the School Board and only one-sixth are in voluntary schools. If it had not been for these schools what would be the condition of these children? There is one other point as to organisation. I refer to the provision which has been made as to the blind, the deaf, and the dumb children of London. I think that could hardly have been done except by the Board. It has been most adequately done, and I am sure that both sides of the House are delighted at the provision which has been made for these unfortunate children throughout all parts of the country. There is another class of children of whom I would speak, who are not idiots, but who show a deficiency in mental parts, and who ought not to be pressed on in the ordinary way in which ordinary children are pressed in the ordinary schools, but who ought to be brought under the care of special teachers, who after having the children a year or two under their care send them back to the schools from which they came. I think that work is being admirably done in London, and that you could not do unless you had some kind of Central Authority. I must also speak of the Inspectors who, carry out the work of the Department throughout the country. I think I may say this: that the Department have a very difficult and delicate task to carry out; I was going to say almost as difficult a task as the Irish Office has to carry out. It has to administer what is a dual system of the greatest delicacy, and the Inspectors carry out their work with the greatest tact. I think I may say that our Inspectors are becoming more and more fitted for their work. They are becoming more and more the 916 friends of the teachers, and that is what the Inspector ought to be. In proportion as the Inspector becomes the friend of the teachers he is better qualified to carry out his duties. I have only a few words to say about the Department. I may say in 99 out of 100—I may even even say in 999 out of 1,000—it carries out its work without consideration for the particular Party which may be in power. I did not shrink from any kind of attack or criticism of any policy of my own; but I do not shrink from making an appeal not so much to those Members opposite as to others who in times of difficulty may find fault with some part of our work. The enormous bulk of the work is carried on in a regular way. I venture to say that no good school has received any trouble at the present time or under any Government whatever. When things are done in a businesslike manner the Department gives the minimum amount of trouble. In some cases there was a sort of idea that some of the criticism was really caused by the feeling of the particular Government in power; and a good deal of the work of our Inspectors and officials is hampered and crippled by having to explain questions put to them on the most trivial points, whilst there seems to be a not unnatural sensitiveness which leads to a complete misinterpretation of the work the Department has in hand. As to political criticisms, I think the right hon. Gentleman, my Predecessor, will agree than there have been wonderful suspicions about him, which were entirely inaccurate. I do not ask for a bit more than he might have asked for in his position. Last year the right hon. Gentleman made some allusion to intermediate education. I hope we are going to do something for our evening schools. We wish to give them as much freedom as they can demand. We wish to give them elasticity to do that which they think best. There has been added various matters, including one about the "duties of citizens," which received some friendly and amusing criticism on Friday night during the Debate on the Scotch Vote. As to that, I can only say that I was thoroughly aware it was open to a good deal of criticism, but I think the syllabus was so drawn that it was free from political partisanship. I think it was a well 917 known Cambridge Professor who said if we give the people the vote we ought to try to instruct our children so that they may understand something about the rights and duties of citizens.
Otherwise," he said, "you give them these responsibilities and you make no effort whatever to prepare them.Just as Sydney Smith said when he was going to review a book, he would not read it lest he might get an undue bias against it. There is a good deal of difficulty on the subject. There are many rival authorities, and I only hope that those who feel strongly as to their own claims will do all they can to harmonise their ideas in order that we may combine. In Wales the Intermediate Education Act has done great service. There are a great many schools there which have been brought into being through that Act, and which will be of infinite benefit to the Welsh people, who are now better off in the secondary system than any other part of the country. I am glad to say that the London County Council, which for some time took no part in spending the local taxation money, has now taken up the work in earnest. There is one recommendation made as to London education made to the London County Council by a very able gentleman, as to supplying museums and objects to assist in teaching art and science, and he suggests that it may be possible to hand over Bethnal Green Museum to the London County Council under certain conditions. This Museum was provided in 1866 at the request of the inhabitants of East London, who themselves presented the site, receiving from the Government of the day a large portion of the buildings. I have only to say this: that if the County Council should desire to have the site and the buildings handed over to them on reasonable conditions the Government will be happy to meet them in a reasonable way. We are asking for a large sum of money. I will only say that this money can only be well spent where there is real co-operation between the representatives of the Education Department and the managers of Board and voluntary schools and the teachers and the children themselves. I am assured that we are getting that co-operation; but of one tiling I am more and more certain—that we are living in times of real educational progress. There is a desire for more 918 economy and opportunity to give children every possible chance of displaying their talents in the best possible way. Our system of education is becoming more elastic and more efficient to bring out the capacity of the children; and the Department will continue, as it has been doing, to aim at the efficiency and the co-operation of all those with whom it has to work. If we ask for an increased sum it may be said that our only enemy is the Treasury. I am never afraid of a debate with the Treasury on this subject; but I am perfectly certain that the Treasury will raise no objection to an expenditure which will make the workers of the country, on whom so much of the welfare of the nation depends, skilful and intelligent. The more we spend in that direction the more certain it is that the good of the country will increase. Therefore, in proposing this grant to the Committee, I feel certain that there is no Vote on our Estimates which will meet more fully with the approval of this House and the nation which this House represents.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,894,718, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1894, for Public Education in England and Wales, including Expenses of the Education Office in London"— (Mr. Acland.)
* SIR W. HART-DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
I may be allowed to say a few words with regard to the Vote which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in a speech upon which we can all congratulate him. The right hon. Gentleman evidently has at heart the work in which he is engaged, and I know from experience how engrossing that work is. Though it may be that I cannot agree with the whole policy of the right hon. Gentleman as regards education, I can say of the speech he has made this evening that it was a good speech in the cause of education, made by a man who has that cause earnestly at heart. From the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, we seem to be making serious advances on the right road as regards the education of our little ones. Many of us on both sides of the House may still regret that the attendance 919 of children does not come up to the average which it ought to reach; but I agree with the view of the right hon. Gentleman that there is more to be done in that direction by making the schools healthy and attractive than by exercising the compulsory powers; and it is a satisfaction for us on this side of the House that the Free Education Act, which was passed in 1891, has had the good result of increasing the attendance of children at school. I do not propose to touch on all the topics mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman; but he mentioned one or two very important matters to which I desire to allude. I think we have all reason to congratulate ourselves on the earnest way in which cookery has been taken up by the girls in our schools. I hold the view that it is of the most vital importance that this matter should be looked after by managers of schools, for I am sure that a home which is looked after by a good housewife—who understands the cookery and the internal economy of a home—is much more likely to keep the workers at homo at night and help the cause of sobriety than some of those measures of a more drastic character which I have always opposed in this House. The right hon. Gentleman intends to raise the age of compulsory school attendance by one year. There, again, I must commend the change proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. I really believe that the time has arrived when such a measure can safely become law. The great difficulty we have to contend with is what to do with the sharp children—those who run quickly through the various standards, and thereby increase the dangerous interval between the time they leave school and the time they are usefully engaged in employment; and, therefore, if we decrease by one year that dangerous interval it will be a great advantage gained. I was also glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was about to make the taking of an extra subject compulsory. When I was in Office I urged, especially on country school managers, the necessity for taking these extra subjects, and the reply always made was—"It is all very well; but our curriculum takes up all our time, and we cannot engage to enlarge it." The right hon. Gentleman suggests that this difficulty might be 920 obviated by neglecting the teaching of grammar. I, for one, have never been able to see the great importance of teaching grammar. I remember, when I was a little fellow, a very intelligent governess teaching me grammar, and I remember that I shirked every effort in the direction of mastering it. I believe most young fellows do the same. If children were taught how to read intelligently and write well they would soon pick up enough of grammar to enable them to get through life. The right hon. Gentleman referred at very great length to a matter of some importance as regards the futures of our schools—namely, the Circular which he has issued to managers with regard to the state of school buildings. Having commended all the efforts of my right hon. Friend up to this point, I must tell him that I and those who sit on these Benches have noticed a growing feeling of dissatisfaction amongst the managers of voluntary schools with the policy of the Education Department since the right hon. Gentleman has taken Office. I mention this in plain language, because it is always best that there should be no ambiguity about these matters. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman indicated that he expected that something in the way of a criticism of his policy would come from these Benches. I may say that I have always endeavoured to separate these great educational questions from the sphere of Party politics. I think it would be an evil day for education if such a state of things should prevail as that a new President of the Council, on entering Office, should endeavour to undo the policy of his Predecessor. The less change there is in the policy of the Department when a new man enters Office the better for education. I confess that possibly some of the alarm which has been excited may arise from the fancy that when a Radical Government deals with the Education Question the day for the destruction of the voluntary system has arrived. I make some allowance for that feeling, because I wish to be just and fair to the right hon. Gentleman. But there have been one or two Debates in another place which show that there has been just cause for that alarm. Now, no one who sits on this side of the House will defend for one instant the maintenance of such schools as that 921 alluded to in an anonymous letter to The Times, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. The day has passed away— and I hope for ever—when ill-managed schools and defective school buildings can he tolerated; but what we ask of the right hon. Gentleman is that fairness and justice should be meted out to all schools alike, whether voluntary or Board schools, and we will be perfectly satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman can prove that he has preserved an even keel between contending interests. I have heard several complaints made that not sufficient notice has been given to managers to enable them to carry out the improvements demanded within the appointed time. I do not attempt to lessen the force of the extract which the right hon. Gentleman read from my speech introducing the Free Education Bill, with regard especially to small country schools. I hold that a gradual improving process must go on with regard to these schools. I know how difficult it is, in many cases, to get the managers of these schools to see how they would improve their positions if they would only get good teachers and good buildings. I am acquainted with a school which, by removing an indifferent master and appointing a first-rate master and mistress, the attendance increased by 38 per cent. in 18 months. I feel very strongly that there is a great difficulty, as regards these schools, of convincing managers how much more quickly they would get out of their difficulties by having well-found and well-taught schools. But whilst urging this, I am bound to protest against any process whereby schools struggling through difficulties may be exterminated, or gradually bled to death, as it were, by undue demands being hastily pressed upon them. I heard the Debate in another place with regard to the Circular issued by the right hon. Gentleman, and these words were used by the Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman and chief of his Department as regards these school buildings—If it was supposed that the Circular indicated those things which the Department would at once require from all schools he would state unequivocally that it had no such significance … He disdained any intention of forcing Board schools on the country… The policy was to bring voluntary schools, not suddenly, but by degrees, up to full and proper school accommodation.922 It was said, further,—It would be foolish and absurd to require all the schools in the country to be brought up to all the points of efficiency laid down in the Circular.Now, if that is the policy of the Government, no sensible man can blame them for a moment; and if the right hon. Gentleman gives us some guarantee that that really will be the treatment he will accord to these schools, it will be satisfactory to me and to many others who sit on this side of the House. I must refer to another portion of this question, which relates to small schools existing in localities where the population is tinder 200 or 300, which are assisted under Articles 104 and 105. It appears to me that there has been a serious change in the policy of the Department as regards the treatment of these small schools during the last year or so. It appears that wider significance has been given to certain words in the Code which state that grants should be given to these schools "after a consideration of the circumstances of each case" than has been given to them previously. Formerly these cases in which demands for grants were made were considered by the Department solely in respect to the locality in which the school is situated—that is to say, that though a school might be in a district of 200 inhabitants, if it supplied a larger area the grant would not be given. Now, it would appear that the actual existing financial position of the school is considered year by year in connection with these grants, and, as I think I will show, most unfairly as regards the prospects of the school. I will read an extract from a letter written by the Rev. Mansell Pleydell, the manager of a school in Hertfordshire. I mention the name because I do not wish to make any secret about the letter at all. He gives the following extract from the Report of the Department:—My Lords observe that the school has a balance in hand of £20 16s. 1d., while the voluntary contributions have dropped from £59 in 1891 to £28 0s. 5d. in the past school year. It is evident from this that the special grants are not needed for the maintenance of the school, and my Lords have, therefore, ordered them to be withheld.He adds—We have been carefully husbanding our resources to get this £20 balance in order that we may make some necessary alterations, which 923 have been staring us in the face, without getting into debt; indeed, the Report requires us to furnish new desks and enlarge the class-room, which will quite absorb our £20.I think that is a hard process to apply to these voluntary schools. To my mind the Department should encourage the managers of those schools to provide for a rainy day by husbanding their resources; and, further, if the income of these schools is to be inquired into, not one year, but an average of years, should be taken into consideration. That is very poor encouragement indeed to give the managers in their efforts in the cause of education.
§ MR. ACLAND
The Public Accounts Committee has called the very careful attention of the Department to those grants, and some retrenchment has had to be made.
* SIR W. HART-DYKE
If it can be shown that the Public Accounts Committee has brought pressure to bear on the Department in the matter, of course I will accept the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. I wish now to refer to the administration of the Free Education Act by the right hon. Gentleman in one or two particulars. It is satisfactory to all of us to hear from the right hon. Gentleman of the success of this Act, so far as it has been put to the test of experience. I confess that when I had the honour of introducing the Bill I was not sure about the result of this venture; but it is, indeed, satisfactory to find that having made the venture it has had a very good effect on our schools, especially in the matter of attendance. But I wish now to call attention to Section 4 of the Act, by which fees are still allowed to be charged in certain schools under certain circumstances. I believe it is the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has not, in the case of a single school, recommended any claim to be made for fees under this section. Now, this Free Education Act was intended by its promoters to be essentially permissive in its character. I have advocated it on many platforms since its passing, and I have always found that its most popular feature is its permissive character. The right hon. Gentleman would be astonished to find how popular amongst numbers of the artizan classes is the payment of school fees. Many who 924 can afford it, they like to pay school fees; they like to pay for the education of their children, and therefore the most popular section of the Act is that which allows parents to pay certain fees for the education of their children. This Act is rather intended for the assistance of those who are unable to pay fees than to say to all parents—" You shall not legally pay in the future for the education of your children." If that is the interpretation the right hon. Gentleman intends to give to the section it will be most unjust and harsh to some of the best schools of the country, and, as such, I venture to enter a protest against this change in policy. During the short time I was in Office under the Act we had many cases in which demands were made for the payment of fees, and before assent was given to the demand great care was taken in each ease to see that the school came within Section 4. In many cases of these voluntary schools a balance of accounts was taken as regards subscriptions and other sources of income, and so many free places to meet the wants of the locality were allowed, and as many places were allowed to fee - paying children. The Committee will understand that if you upset that arrangement you upset the financial position of every school involved. I say that that was not the intention of the Act. The section was introduced to enable managers to demand fees in localities where parents were anxious to pay fees, and where the efficiency of the schools demanded it. Why, then, should the settlement be upset? It is unfair to the voluntary schools, and, still worse, it is unfair to the people, because if these voluntary schools are extinguished Board schools will have to be set up in their places, and the unfortunate ratepayers will be saddled with the burden. I do trust that before this Debate closes we shall have some satisfactory assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he will give those schools whose financial position require it liberty to demand fees.
* SIR W. HART-DYKE
There have been cases in which the demand was refused to Board schools as well as to voluntary schools. If the right hon. Gentleman extends the process to 925 voluntary schools it will be a hard case for them, and if he restricts it to Board schools it will be a great injustice indeed. I say the principle of this new policy, largely applied to the voluntary schools, must lead to their extinction, and promote greater injustice. I have got one or two remarks to make in conclusion, and they shall be remarks of commendation. With respect to the statements of the right hon. Gentleman of a more general character as regards the future policy of the Department, I think there is nothing but commendation to be given for what the right hon. Gentleman has enunciated in favour of the better organisation of our schools. The right hon. Gentleman has urged that especially in country schools there should be some system whereby travelling agents or organising managers should visit each school. The right hon. Gentleman cannot do a better thing, I am quite sure, for the assistance of those schools than by carrying out such a policy as that. I know it may be difficult in many cases to carry it out; but I am quite sure if the right hon. Gentleman will only put into practice the policy which he has enunciated in regard to these schools, he will receive hearty support from all quarters of the House. I have only to say, in conclusion, that while I generally commend the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and while I regret that I have been obliged to criticise, perhaps in a hostile sense, some portion of his policy, I can assure him I have done so in no Party spirit, or with any other feeling or desire than that of assisting him in the accomplishment of a most difficult and delicate task. So far as I am concerned, he shall receive every assistance in my power, so long as he carries out the system announced by Lord Kimberley in another place.
§ MR. SNAPE (Lancashire, S.E., Heywood)
joined in congratulating the Vice President on the deeply interesting statement to which they had listened, and on the gratifying progress which the right hon. Gentleman had to report. The steady improvement of the national education had not been merely one of quality, but was also one of quantity. It would be unjust to fail in recognition of the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Hart-Dyke) in providing a measure of assisted education; but his satisfaction was dashed by one of 926 the very features which the right hon. Gentleman thought was to be commended. The fact that free education was optional had made it defective in working, and, as a consequence, it had had only partial results. Instead of 95 per cent. of the schools in England and Wales giving free education as in Scotland, they had only 77.5 free, and no less than 22.5 of the schools were still charging fees to a greater or less extent. It was said that this was because the English working man wanted to pay fees. He had some knowledge of the English working man, and he took exception entirely to that statement. At Liverpool applications were made to the School Board to throw open free places to a considerable number of scholars; but instead the Board took the view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there were many parents who wished to continue the payment of fees. They took an extraordinary way of testing the willingness of parents to pay fees. They said to parents—"Your children, for whose free education you have made application, shall be sent, not to the schools they have been in the habit of attending, not to the schools where their friends attend, not to the schools to the teachers of which they have become accustomed, but to other schools, possibly at a greater distance from their homes, and schools quite strange to them." Parents said that, rather than expose their children to that inconvenience, they preferred to continue the payment of fees, though the law had given them the right to demand free education for their children. If the School Board for Liverpool and hon. Gentlemen opposite were of opinion that the parents were so very desirous of continuing the payment of these fees, why did they throw these barriers in the way of the exercise of their rights? Why should they expose the children to very great educational disadvantages if they had a genuine conviction that it was the wish of the parents that the fees should be paid? But the question to be considered was not so much what was the wish of the parents as what were the true interests of the nation. They were told that in 15,000 out of the 19,000 schools in the country in which there was free education there had been a large increase in the attendance during 927 the year—that the system of free education had been more in operation than in any of the preceding years of the history of the Department. If the increase was attributable to the freedom from the payment of fees, then it ought to be made no longer optional, but compulsory, that free education should be given in all the State-aided schools in the country. There were still 1,136,205 scholars out of 5,697,000 on the Register absent on the average; and, in order that the average attendance might be increased, it was most desirable that they should have free education made compulsory and universal, instead of, as at present, being partial and optional. Then no invidious distinction would be made because of poverty, and no inconvenience would be caused as a consequence of the parent asking for his legitimate rights. There was another advantage from the freedom from fees. It was found that parents had placed the sum thus saved in the savings bank, and a spirit of thrift had thus been inculcated which it ought to be the object of the Department to foster and develop. He had the fullest sympathy with those who desired to dissociate the question of education from anything of a Party character; but if hon. Gentlemen opposite would endeavour to divest our national system of education of denominational prejudices as well as of questions of a controversial character, the whole of the difficulties which impeded the national system of education would be removed. He trusted that, no matter what might be the consequence to any school, whether Board school or so-called voluntary school, the Department would continue to insist upon proper provision being made for the health of the children. If the Department were to allow the continuance of such a state of things as existed in some schools in the country, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children would have to interfere to remind the Department of its duty. With regard to the necessity of secondary education, it would be a great mistake to suppose that evening continuation schools, as proposed by the new Code, or the schemes adopted by the Charity Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Act, would suffice to supply that very urgent need. He had had to administer the Technical Education Fund in Lancashire, and their difficulties had been very greatly in- 928 creased through the want of preparation on the part of the young people for the technical education which, under the Local Taxation Act, the County Council was willing and anxious to give. They had succeeded wonderfully in developing technical education in Lancashire, the number of pupils having increased from 4,904 in 1889 and 6,404 in 1891 to 45,709 in 1892. But the need of secondary education, especially in the rural districts, was very urgent; and the appointment of a Departmental Committee to harmonise the operation of the Education Department, the Science and Art Department, and the Charity Commissioners was a very insufficient step in the matter. The desire had been expressed in many quarters by eminent educationists that a Royal Commission should be appointed to investigate the working of the various County Councils, with a view to guiding them in the establishment and development of a proper system of secondary education, and also in the distribution and administration of the large funds now given into their hands. As to the provision in the Continuation Schools Code with regard to the teaching of children the duties of citizenship, he very much questioned whether it was one of the duties of citizenship to encourage them in the exercise of military drill. At any rate, if they were to be taught military drill, they ought also to be taught that that was the most barbarous system of settling international disputes, and that there were far better methods of attaining that end. Concluding, he said there was no national expenditure so fruitful of advantage in the country in which it was made as that on education; and, in common with all true educationists, he rejoiced that the Department in this country was under the direction of a Vice President so full of, and so sympathetic with, the great work in which he was engaged.
§ * SIR H. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he desired to join in the congratulations which had been offered to the Vice President for his most able, lucid, sympathetic, and well-informed statement. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council for his very complimentary references to the London School Board, of which he (Sir R. Temple) 929 had been a member for many years, He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman pay so good a tribute to the Code so recently introduced by the Vice President, and he knew that in the Code just laid on the Table by the right hon. Gentleman himself there were still further improvements. He noted with the utmost satisfaction that at last the right hon. Gentleman had succeeded in appointing a Departmental Committee to settle what plans the Government would adopt for the superannuation of teachers. As a Resolution of the House was passed so far back as February, he might have hoped that this would have been done sooner; but he was very unwilling to scrutinise this deed of concession. He only hoped that no more time would be lost, and that the Committee would bring to a speedy determination an inquiry in which 50,000 persons were most deeply interested. With reference to the question of teachers and appeals to the Education Department in cases of dismissal, he could not answer for the small School Boards, or for the voluntary schools; but he ventured to warn the right hon. Gentleman that great School Boards like those of London, and probably of Birmingham, Liverpool, and elsewhere, who were elected by popular constituencies, and who formed little educational parliaments, would hardly consent to have their decisions in these matters reviewed by the Education Department. He joined in the assurance given by the late Vice President to the right hon. Gentleman that great alarm and jealousy prevailed throughout the country among the supporters of the voluntary system. They contended, on behalf of the voluntary system, that there were three ways in which that system was endangered. First, as regards the free and fee system, they contended that the abolition of fees had been administered in a manner that was detrimental to the voluntary schools, because the law of assisted education evidently meant that children of the humbler classes should receive free education, and not the children of the well-to-do classes, who were paying the higher fee. But now the Orders regarding the lower fees were so arranged that if they had to be abolished the higher fees also should follow in the abolition.
§ * MR. ACLAND
was understood to say that if the managers consented to allow a certain number of children to pay the Department did not object.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, they apprehended that the Orders which were issued from the Department were being so arranged as to make it difficult and more embarrassing for the managers, who were required to supply a certain number of free places, to maintain a different system of fees for the others. Could the right hon. Gentleman wonder that apprehension was felt that he would endeavour by Departmental influence to carry out the doctrine of the establishment of the School Board everywhere, which had the support of so many of his Parliamentary followers? They naturally apprehended, in the second place, that the doctrine of deficiency (school places in particular localities) was in a certain sense manipulated, so as to favour the introduction of Board schools. Of course, they all knew that when the voluntary schools did not supply the deficiency, then the Department would do so. But what was deficiency? They feared that the doctrine of deficiency was being used rather unfairly with the object of increasing the number of Board schools. In reckoning deficiency, full consideration was often not taken of the children under voluntary instruction. The third point of danger was the matter of school buildings. Of course, they all admitted that the school buildings would, sooner or later, have to be improved and brought up to the proper standard, so as to comply with the requirements of the day; but it must be within a reasonable time. The right hon. Gentleman's idea of a reasonable time might be one thing, and theirs might be another. They were afraid that these improvements, which were expensive, would be pressed on voluntary schools in such a manner that the managers would not be able to comply with the demands made upon them, and would have to submit to a School Board. These were the three principal points of danger he wished to mention. He would remind the Committee once more that if they abolished the voluntary system in England they would subject the taxpayer, or ratepayer, or both, to a very heavy charge which they did not bear now, but which other people were willing to 931 bear for them, and which, indeed, they were anxious to undertake. It would be a pity to do anything which would incur such a heavy charge in these hard times. And, secondly, the adoption of such a course as he had indicated would lead to the introduction of a system into a great many schools which, with all its benefits, was inferior to the voluntary system. That was the real point. The right hon. Gentleman said they had allowed the nations of the Continent to get the start of them in this work of education. He denied that, and he said there was no nation on earth which could afford an instance so magnanimous and so magnificent as the voluntary system of England, as contra-distinguished from Scotland and Ireland. As to attendance, he quite acknowledged that, while the attendance of the best scholars had not been improved by the system of assisted education, the attendance of inferior scholars—he meant inferior as regarded zeal and diligence—had been advanced. It had been improved within the Metropolitan area during the last year or two, and this degree of qualified improvement they attributed to the system of assisted education. That was, however, a very limited benefit. The real point was that the average attendance in elementary schools was too low. The question was, how could it be improved? He rather thought the system of compulsion, which the Vice President admitted was good in London, did not work equally well in the country. He quite admitted that this attendance ought to be put upon an equal footing between the country and the town. But if there was to be any proper system of compulsion in the towns, he warned the Government once more that they must appoint qualified officers ad hoc to enforce compulsion. Special officers ought to be appointed to adjudicate between School Boards and the parents of children whose attendance was alleged to be insufficient. The present system under which parents were dragged before Magistrates in Police Courts was repulsive, not only to parents themselves, but still more to all educational authorities. Moreover, the decisions were most unequal. This was a distinct blot on their educational system; and until a reform long desired and recommended such as he had indicated was affected, never 932 would the system of enforcing attendance be properly carried out. As to school books, they understood that where a school could prove that over and above the fee which they imposed they had always charged for books, they could continue, after the abolition of these fees, to make the charge for school books, and that the Education Department had no legal right to insist on the discontinuance of that charge for books. That was their contention.
§ * MR. ACLAND
said, the intention of the Department was that the fee arranged should include any previous charge for books, and that once that fee was agreed upon no charge could be made for books or anything else.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
quite understood that was the right hon. Gentleman's intention; but he (Sir R. Temple) and his friends had always contended otherwise, and until he could verify the matter further for himself he should continue in that belief. He quite admitted that the 10s. per head grant was in lieu of all fees; but the question was whether, in respect of the charge for fees, the charge for school books was included? They contended not. As to the pupil teachers, he rejoiced to hear the sympathetic remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, the pupil teachers saved a vast sum of money to the ratepayers, taxpayers, and everybody else; and, in the second place, by this system of pupil teachers they brought the pupil up from his earliest youth to the service of education, just as they sent a youth to sea at an early age so that he might thoroughly learn the seafaring profession. Thus the pupil-teachers were the midshipmen of the Educational Service. As regarded the special training and the staff for that, he observed that a very large sum of money was put down for special teachers. He desired to say that while, on the one hand, he recognised the necessity for special teachers for teaching such matters as cookery and laundry work, he did not think they need have them for anything else. Might he remind the Committee, in regard to what the Vice President had said in reference to the importance of having elementary technical education in England, that every girl in the Metropolitan area had to pass an examination in cookery before she left school? It would soon be 933 the same with regard to laundry work. It did seem to him that they ought not to require special teachers or Inspectors for such things as needlework, singing, drawing, and manual training. He contended that with their highly-trained class of teachers this work ought to be done without special agency. A head mistress ought to be able to give instruction in sewing without any assistance; so ought a master to know drawing and elementary music, and be able to teach manual training. Thus there ought to be a large saving in this respect. Some allusion had been made to religious instruction. He was unwilling to say much about that; but as it had been referred to, and as it was an integral part of their instruction, he could not pass it over in silence. He was anxious to explain that in the recent controversy in the School Board respecting religious instruction there had been no desire among those who acted with him to disturb the compromise of 1870, as they understood it. Their position was that this was a compromise between Protestants who agreed in faith and doctrine, but disagreed in Church organisation—that the common doctrines which were accepted by all Protestant Christians in England, that by Churchmen, by Wesleyans and Methodists, by Baptists and Congregationalists, should be taught, and nothing else. He believed that that instruction was properly given in 99 cases out of 100, and, as the Nice President had said, reverently given. It was because some Parties tried to establish that the compromise was one not only of organisation, but of faith and doctrine that the recent controversy had arisen. As to elementary science, he regretted that the teaching of it was not carried further in all schools; and for its sake he should be glad to sacrifice even that sacred subject of grammar. As to payment by results, he thoroughly agreed with what had fallen from the Vice President. The old system of payment by results on individual examination had been got rid of, and a far-better plan for testing real education, as contra-distinguished from instruction, had been substituted. He agreed that the age of leaving school for half-time employment ought to be raised to 11 years equally in town or country. The matter ought not to be left to the discretion of Rural Authorities. But if 934 this uniform age were insisted on, it would be necessary to facilitate the examination under which children were to leave school. What the whole of the teaching profession desired was this—that whatever test was available for raising a child from one standard to another should be the test that should be applied for permitting children to leave school for half-time employment. There seemed to be it desire on the part of certain educationists to put secondary education on the same footing as elementary education—i.e., that it should be paid for out of the rates and taxes. Were there not burdens enough already? Was not the rate for elementary education already 5 per cent. on the income from land and houses in many places? Did they wish to put it rate for secondary education on the top of that? He admitted the limits between the two classes of education were undefined, and that what was secondary education 20 years ago was now primary education, and so on. But there must always be it distinction between elementary and secondary education, and he hoped that the two would always be kept apart, especially as affecting the British ratepayers and taxpayers. He wished to say a word or two as to savings banks. He quite admitted that one of the results of assisted education had been to induce the children to put their fees away into the savings bank. But he desired to say this savings bank system was far too optional, and it ought to be rendered universally obligatory. That was to say, it ought not to be left to managers or particular teachers to say whether they should have a school savings bank or not. Thrift was an essential part of the moral education which it was desired to give to the children; and every teacher ought to regard it as part of his duty to establish a bank, acting in co-operation or communication with the ordinary Post Office Savings Bank, for receiving the children's pence. Such a thing ought to be not a trouble, but a pleasure, to him. Great improvements had, no doubt, been made in the Evening Classes Code; but the present system was wholly defective, and was based on it wrong idea. The notion seemed to prevail that evening classes were merely recreative. The true theory of evening classes was that the children leaving the day school at 12 or 13 should for 935 the next two or three years carry on their education in the evening classes. Every child ought to go through these classes. The system was not one for exceptional cases, but ought to be universally applicable. He had formerly opposed proposals for making evening schools compulsory; but he was now very much afraid that sooner or later it must come to that. Unless the training were continued there was a great danger lest the child should not only forget the intellectual culture imparted at the day school, but also the moral discipline, which was the best part of elementary education. The development of the evening classes universally was one of the most crying needs of primary education. As to the Training Colleges, lie was as much as any man in favour of the existing institutions; but he must sorrowfully admit that at present they did not supply enough trained teachers to meet the wants of the schools. If new residential Colleges could not be provided, or if the accommodation of the present Colleges could not be extended, then recourse must be had to day Training Colleges, though lie admitted that they were not as good as residential Colleges. With regard to the school buildings of the London School Board, be would invite hon. Members who had heard the long and heavy indictment against those school buildings, and who were perhaps alarmed at the description that had been given, to go over these buildings now, and see in what splendid order they were, and how nobly the Loudon School Board had done its duty in that respect. As to physical training, he was sorry that the usual summer exhibition had not yet taken place; but it would be given in the autumn, and those who saw it would understand the work which; had been done. He wished that the Members of the House could witness not only that, but also the Musical Competition in Exeter Hall. he also wished it were possible to exhibit in the Tea Room of the House of Commons the splendid collection of work done by these little London children under 13 years of age, and sent to the Chicago Exhibition. He hoped, in conclusion, that the Committee would consider favourably what he had said in behalf of the voluntary system. That system had spent £13,000,000 on school buildings in the present century, and altogether not 936 less than £40,000,000 in the cause of education in England—a service which ought always to be gratefully remembered by the English House of Commons.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
congratulated the Vice President on the satisfactory statement he had made in the lucid and able speech with which he had introduced this very important subject. There was just one point on which he must make some little complaint, not so much against the right hon. Gentleman as against the system. He did think that while the Report of the Education Department was only issued on Friday it was to be regretted that they should be asked to discuss it that day. He ventured to protest against that. On Friday his right hon. Friend said the Report was merely a running commentary on statistics, and that they had some of the statistics some time ago. He thought his right hon. Friend hardly did justice to the interest of his own Report. It seemed to him to be a great deal more than a running commentary on statistics. No doubt the tables came out some time ago; but what the Committee wished to know, and ought to have time to consider, were the views of the Government. Moreover, those who were interested in education throughout the country ought to have had time to read the Report and consider it, so that they might make suggestions to their Representatives in the House. But the public had had no opportunity of seeing it till that morning. This was of the more importance, seeing that there was a new Vice President, and that great changes had been made in the educational system. Why should this Vote be singled out to be taken so early? There were plenty of others, the information as to which had been before the country for weeks. Why could not one of those have been taken? Considering that the Report only dealt with the facts up to last August, he could not understand why it should not have been issued sooner. But even if it were impossible to get out the Report sooner, why should the Vote be forced on now? Why should it not have been allowed to have come on in its proper place? He hoped that on a future occasion his right hon. Friend would take care that there was a longer interval between the issue of the Report and the time of its discussion.
937 Moreover, there were several matters as to which the Report might have given more information. He had understood that as regards the training of schoolmasters important changes had been made—that more use was being made of the University Colleges. The Report had a short section on Training Colleges, but did not allude to this matter, and, indeed, told the House hardly anything which was not in the tables. One of the most important changes introduced by the right hon. Gentleman had been as regards evening schools. The changes seemed to him to be conceived in a wise and liberal spirit. But there was nothing about them in the Report. Even the statistics only came down to last August. Surely in a Report issued at the end of the following July they might have had something more than this ancient history. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman was to be congratulated on the general character of the Report, and the country was reaping the fruits of the efforts that had been made in the gradual diminution of crime, and especially of juvenile crime. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not think something could be done to encourage lessons on "conduct," such as those suggested so forcibly and given with such good effect by the late Mr. W. Ellis? The most important thing to learn was how to live. He (Sir J. Lubbock) was glad to observe some increase in the number of the schools which taught elementary science, though the number was still only 700 out of 20,000. Of course, elementary science did not mean anything abstruse or profound, but merely explanations of the ordinary phenomena of Nature; but it was till the more important on that account. Indeed, there was a general consensus of opinion in the Reports of the Inspectors as to the value of the subject, not only from a practical, but from an educational point of view. Surely the Department might insist that "Nature knowledge" should be taken by all students in the Training Colleges. He was glad to see that the number who did so was increasing; but he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether lie did not think that the time had come when it should be made a part of the regular course in Training Colleges, with a view to its being eventually introduced 938 into all elementary schools? It would also be very valuable if there were some collection like the Musée Pedagogique of Paris. Indeed, he believed this would be useful in many ways. Then, if his right hon. Friend would tell the Committee a little more about libraries in the schools, he would be glad to hear what he had to say upon the subject. Again, with regard to drawing, certainly that subject was only second to writing. He thought it was well worthy the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and he would lie glad to have some more information upon that subject, as also upon the subjects of savings banks and cookery. There was only other subject as to which, he should like to say a few words, and that mainly to ask for further information. It was the subject of half-timers. The question was of great importance, both as regards the introduction of manual instruction in schools, and still more so with reference to the age at which children should be kept at school. In many departments the labour of children was very important, and it was a great problem to reconcile this with the claims of education. The late Mr. Chadwick always maintained that, so important was the exercise of the muscles, that half-timers would really in a year learn as much as whole-timers. In fact, no child could with advantage be kept in school more than a small part of the day. The information as regards half-timers in the Report was meagre, but, so far as it went, important. Dr. Stewart said—In the three best of the factory schools—Wardhills, Polepark Works, and Dens Works—with about 1,100 in attendance, the half-timers are scarcely to be distinguished from the older pupils attending a good public school, and the progress made and the results attained by them in these schools are quite in keeping with the appearance of the children themselves, who seem, as a rule, to be healthy and well-cared-for at home.He would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman, in his reply, could give the Committee any further information on the subject. On the whole, he thought they might be fairly satisfied with the progress made last year, on which he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman. They all knew his great interest in the subject, and the valuable services he had rendered to the cause of education. It wits only fail also to include in their thanks the right 939 hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Kent (Sir W. Hart-Dyke).
§ * SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he was anxious to say a few words on the question before the Committee, and would do so as a member of the Governing Body of more than one Training College in London. Everyone on that (the Conservative) side of the House had listened with the greatest interest to the statement of the Vice President, and he (Sir F. S. Powell) added his word of congratulation on it. He had also to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having been able to pass through the House during the present Session the most important stage in the Bill limiting the age at which children could leave school to 11, and the Bill providing for the education of blind and deaf children. In regard to the latter measure, 6,000 of these unfortunate children would now receive an education which would fit them for the duties of life, and enable them to obtain an honourable and a dignified livelihood. He bad next to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the figures with regard to the teaching of drawing and cookery. He had always been of opinion that a child should be taught drawing from its earliest years. It was a most necessary accomplishment. Then, as to cookery, the voluntary schools had not been behind the times. A bequest of £20,000 had been made for the teaching of cookery in these schools, and in Loudon a large sum had been spent on this admirable object. The fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury had given a suite of rooms in his house for cookery teaching showed that the Church of England was sympathetic in these matters. He was in favour of the appointment of a Royal Commission on the subject of technical education. A great advance had been made in this branch of education on the Continent, and the time had come when every fact should be laid before the people of this country, and when they should learn that, although we had made great progress, a greater advance had been made by foreign countries. Remarking on the fact that the Report proved that the Department now dealt with secondary education, in a new manner, he said that, although there was no sharp line of demarcation between that and primary education, they ought not to proceed by chance or accident, but by principle; and if it was thought fit that the 940 Department should deal more fully with secondary education, a deliberate declaration should be made to that effect by Parliament. He thought attention ought to be drawn to the statement in the Report with regard to the largo increase in the number of female teachers. The Report stated that in 1869 for every 100 teachers of each class, 48 certificated teachers, 60 assistant teachers, and 57 pupil teachers were females. These proportions increased in 1892 to 60 certificated teachers, 79 assistant teachers, and 78 pupils. The number of female pupil teachers had increased from 7,273 in 1869 to 21,133 at the present time, while in the same period the number of male teachers had only increased from 5,569 to 5,826. But his principal object in rising was to submit to the Committee the great anxiety which existed in this country as to religious teaching. An hon. Member, referring to the subject, had spoken of "denominational prejudices"; he (Sir F. S. Powell) preferred to substitute the expression "religious convictions." He believed there was no more powerful influence in England than religious convictions. They had caused people to spend between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000 on school buildings in the last few years. The amount given in voluntary subscriptions for education last year was £798,777, while in the preceding year the amount was £779,599. That was a circumstance of considerable moment, because during the passing of the Act of 1891 they were told that the voluntary contributions wore falling off, and that with assisted education they would perish altogether. The accommodation in voluntary schools had increased from 2,870,168 in 1876 to 3,651,511 in 1892, and the average attendance had risen from 1,656,502 in the former year to 2,300,377 in the latter. They had had a Debate in the House of Lords, in the course of which Lord Kimberley said—He would admit, of his own accord, that he considered it highly desirable that there should be municipalisation of education.That passage seemed to have been overlooked in this House, but he thought it well that it should be cited. He had always noticed that the authors of a new and bad policy coined a new and bad word to name it. He hoped a more generous sentiment would prevail, and that he would not have to look forward to a 941 policy such as that which he had indicated, and which he could only view with alarm. He wished also to refer to sanitation. He would be the last person to deprecate improvement, but he thought that existing defects might be cured in a cheaper and simpler manner than was supposed. He thought it important that children should be taught the principle of sanitation, because what was taught them would make itself felt in their homes. In his opinion a small sum of money would remedy many existing defects, and he would venture to express a hope that when the Government undertook alterations in schools they would consider carefully whether they were really necessary. In some cases, he thought, alterations were not necessary. He had heard of a case in which an Inspector had insisted on a porch being erected, notwithstanding that the school managers declared that it would be mischievous. The porch was erected, and twelve months afterwards it was condemned. Furthermore, he considered it impossible for any institution to have buildings always up to the latest date. If a school were designed to-day and built to-morrow, however sound that plan might be, he ventured to say that, in the course of two or three years, a defect would be found in it. He trusted that the Government, while they desired to improve the sanitary condition of the schools, and to give the children ample accommodation, would have some regard to the difficulties in which the managers found themselves, and to the change in fashion and alteration in method that necessarily took place from time to time. With regard to Training Colleges at the Yorkshire College at Leeds—on the Council of which he had the honour to have a seat—they had a day Training College, which was in satisfactory operation. They had already a hall in residence for men. There was no reason why more halls should not be erected, and why one of a corresponding character should not be constructed for female students. In regard to fees, he did not think that all who examined the question were aware of the importance to many of the schools of the maintenance of fees. In some oases it would make all the difference between the continuance and discontinuance of the schools. There was a school under his own eye where the parents most gladly and readily and proudly paid the school fees. Those 942 fees were a valuable addition to the treasury of the school, and he saw no reason why this source of revenue should not be allowed to continue. In many cases the parents were quite ready to pay subscriptions instead of fees, and he hoped the Government would not adopt such a policy as would prevent these subscriptions from being paid. He had been told of cases where the Department had forbidden the collection of subscriptions, from the parents, either by teachers from the school or on the school premises. He hoped that was not correct, as he knew no reason why voluntary subscriptions should not be contributed in the manner most convenient to the parties concerned. He apologised for the disjointed character of his observations; but, from the nature of the case, it was necessary that the observations offered should be fragmentary. In conclusion, he again congratulated the light hon. Gentleman opposite on the statement he had made.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ * SIR B. SAMUELSON (Oxfordshire, Banbury)
thought not only should the age up to which children should be required to continue at school be raised to 11 years, but it should be carried at least to 12 years as in Germany, if not to 14 as in Switzerland. The standards at which children should be allowed to leave should also be higher than they were now under the regulations of some of the School Boards. Until within the last few months, in one of their largest manufacturing districts, children were allowed to go to work when they had only passed the Second Standard; but now they had to pass the Third Standard. That was not very advanced education, and he hoped the time would come when no child would be allowed to leave school until it was 12 years of age and had passed the Fifth Standard. He was glad to see that on both sides of the House there was a desire that the elementary education of the country should be improved. He should not have risen if it had not been that as one of the two Members who had served on the Royal Commission on Elementary Education, he wished to remind the Committee, in answer to observations which had come from the 943 other side of the House, that it was now six years since the Commission made their Report, and that if there was one portion in which the Commissioners were all unanimous it was that in which they said that there were many schools the fabric of which it was quite time should be improved. They said that this matter should lie taken in hand, but they said, also, that it should be completed within a reasonable time; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was taken to task for issuing the Circular in which he called attention to that important point, he thought the Committee should be reminded that six years had elapsed, and that if the warning which had been given had not been taken it had not been from want of notice. He was certain it was an entire mistake to suppose that the improvement of the fabrics was urged in order to discourage and handicap the denominational schools. It was an equally great mistake to suppose that the supporters of the Government were hostile to denominational schools. Whatever might be the feeling of some few Members, he was sure that the great majority of Members on the Ministerial side of the House were convinced of the great value which the voluntary schools had been, and were, in our educational system. He was also sure that if any wish for the destruction of the voluntary schools existed it could never be carried out. There was no country in the civilised world in which denominational schools did not exist. Much was said about the lay schools in Paris; but the number of children educated in the Paris Catholic schools was almost as great, and he believed the education given was as good, as in the municipal schools. The value of the English denominational schools was, he believed, admitted generally throughout the country. There was another point on which there was also a misapprehension on the other side of the House, and that was with regard to universal School Boards. He did not believe the wish for universal School Boards was generally entertained, although he thought there was a wish for universal School Authorities, which was quite a different thing. In what way such authorities should be constituted was a question for the future, and one that required very considerable study. The question had 944 been raised whether there ought not to be some further review of the question of technical education. He believed that, so far as intermediate technical education was concerned, it ought to be inseparable from secondary education at large. He was sorry his right hon. Friend had not gone beyond the stage of appointing a Departmental Committee to consider the correlation of the different branches of elementary and secondary education. No doubt that would be a most useful inquiry; but, at the same time, something further ought to be done. It was necessary to be careful not to fly in the face of the County Councils; but, at the same time, he thought that useful directions might now be given to those Councils. Means might be adopted of bringing to the acquaintance of each what was being done by other similar Bodies throughout the country, and he thought it was time to re-assure some of them who had been rather timid in affording assistance to secondary schools, because they considered they would be going beyond their distinct province if they did so. He hoped his right hon. Friend (Mr. Acland) would carefully consider the question during the Recess, and that next Session he would be able to announce that he was taking active steps towards systematising and extending secondary education. Such an amount of information and experience had now been obtained on the subject of technical education as to make it unnecessary to have any exhaustive inquiry as to what was being done abroad on the question. He was not sure that the Continent had not now as much to learn from us as we had to learn from foreign countries when the Royal Commission over which he had the houour of presiding was appointed. He hoped the appointment of the Departmental Committee would lead to an extension of the teaching of science in our elementary schools, and that such a system would be devised as would make elementary science more fitted for reception by young children. What they chiefly needed in this respect was instruction in the shape of object-lessons which children could comprehend. He believed the whole question of scientific instruction in elementary schools required to be completely re-organised if there was to be a large increase in 945 the number of elementary schools in which such instruction was given. In conclusion, he would just add his word of congratulation to that which had been said by other speakers as to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President had discharged the onerous duties of his Office; and he would also make an appeal to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite (the Conservative) Benches to not allow their fears—[Cries of "Oh!" and dissent.]—yes, there were fears—to induce an attack upon a proper and enlightened system of control.
* ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
said, he did not, wish to trespass for more than a few minutes on the time of the Committee, as he was aware there were many speakers to follow. He was not going to travel over the ground that had been occupied by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President; but, before going further, he would like to tell the hon. Baronet who had just sat down that they (the Conservatives) had no fears about education. He must remember that the Church Party, with which they were associated, wore the pioneers of education, and that Members on his own side of the House had to be stirred up to the importance of the question. An hon. Member who had taken part in the Debate had referred to free education. They (the Conservatives) were not opposed to that. The late Government made provision for that. But they were opposed to the present head of the Department trying to force School Board education upon them in a manner which they could not approve.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
said, he was not going to be thrown off his balance by interruption. He believed it was a Radical doctrine to defend oneself if there was an attack made; and he thought the Party opposite should defend the interests which were attacked in this matter, and not do as they were doing just now. However, those interests would be defended in spite of Radical Governments. He did not think there was anything better that could be introduced into schools than military drill, unless it was nautical training; but that was difficult, and it would be expensive, although they had it to perfection at Greenwich. Well, on the previous day 946 he heard a very eloquent sermon [Laughter.] He ventured to hope they had all heard a sermon. If they did not they ought to have done so. At all events, the sermon he heard was a very powerful one, and he thought he might apply a portion of it to the right hon. Gentleman. The preacher said that in every good man there was something to regret, and in every bad man something to admire. He (Admiral Field) was not going to class the right hon. Gentleman under the last description; but he would class him under the first. The right hon. Gentleman had had many compliments paid him from that (the Opposition) side of the House. Those compliments were sincere; this was, he supposed, to be taken as a left-handed compliment. But there was a good deal to regret in the action of the good man whom they now bad as Vice President. Two Debates had taken place elsewhere, which showed that there was something to regret. He (Admiral Field) was not going to attack the Vice President very warmly, because the chief point in dispute, so far as his constituents were concerned, had been, or was about being, settled—settled under pressure. He would do nothing more than glance at the question. What they complained of was that the right hon. Gentleman gave his order for a School Board too hastily, and he gave it on imperfect information. ["No!"] I say, yes, for bogus Petitions were sent up to the Department, and an inquiry was made, and 640 were found to have signed whose children did not exist. That was his justification for the use of the word "bogus."
* ADMIRAL FIELD
said, he was aware of the manner in which the inquiry came about. The Inspector reported there was excess of numbers in the schools, and the decision affected some 600 children, or 635, who were thrown out, the accommodation being stated to be unsatisfactory. If the numbers were disputed, he would say that many children were thrown out, so that the reduction brought the numbers up to 1,300 odd, for whom accommodation was required; and they were told that they would have a School Board if they did not find the accommodation. They held that these schools were built under the regulations of the 947 Department as they existed some years ago, and they said it was unfair that objection should be taken to them in this fashion. That was part of what they had to regret in reference to the right hon. Gentleman. They had heard of the unjust steward. Well, the right hon. Gentleman was the steward or trustee for the country, and he should hold the scales evenly, and not allow any personal predilections of his own to actuate him against the voluntary school system which had developed in the country, and which was the only system that prevailed up to the year 1870. That was their complaint. A good deal had been said about the issue of the Circular No. 321. He was not going to occupy time by alluding to it. But there was something more mischievous than anything that had been dealt with. The Vice President had written a reply to a very fussy correspondent on the question of free education. He went out of his way to answer an inquiry, and his letter became a public document, being published in the newspapers, and the result was that the earnest Radicals in his (Admiral Field's) parish issued a placard and left it at every man's door, saying that every man had a right to free education for his children, and that there was no necessity to pay fees to the managers of the Church schools. He asked the House, was that fair? It was not fair; it was contrary to the spirit of the Act. [Cries of "No!"] Oh, but yes; it was. He knew a good deal had been said about the Act being a Free Education Act. He had even noticed the late Vice President of the Department (Sir W. Hart-Dyke) allude to it as a Free Education Act; but that was not what that right hon. Gentleman called it. When he was in Office, be only alluded to it then as an "Assisted Education Act," and it was an abuse of the powers of the Act to use it for the purposes of free education. There was one other point. It was as to the alleged insufficient accommodation for children. The compulsory age, in the Act, was five years. Did the right hon. Gentleman base his case for this accommodation on the five years' of age, or was it on the three years' for infants? It was very important they should know; many of them believed that the Vice President tried to secure accommodation for children three years old, 948 instead of respecting the five years' limit. Were they to admit three years old children? No doubt it was a source of profit in some places to do so; but it would be a great embarrassment outside the agricultural schools—in the large towns—and it could not be said to be fair, as the Act did not make accommodation of such a character obligatory, and therefore it need not be found. He was only a modest sailor, but he had endeavoured to look into this question, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would give him an answer upon that point, which affected the whole question at Eastbourne. He believed the people had been stirred to more zealous action by the action of the right hon. Gentleman; but they had also been roused as sturdy Englishmen to resist, as far as they could, a system which they hated. The result of such action would be, he feared, a falling-off in the voluntary system. Large sums had been previously subscribed, and it was unfair these should not be left to them still. Stress had been laid by the hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston Division (Sir R. Temple) on the circumstance, as he said, of permission being given to make charges for books and stationery. This was a point he wished to press on another hon. Member who had spoken. They were not permitted to make charges in detail, but to charge a simple fee which would not do more than bring them up to the normal fee. But the letter to which he had referred had been provocative of such mischief in his parish that the managers met and declared that the only thing they could do was to declare all schools free. They did that under pressure, and it was not fair they should have to do it; because what the Act permitted to be done the managers had a right to do, and the contributions of 1d. per week, or, as in some cases, of 2s. a year, from artizans who could afford to pay, were valuable as sums enabling the managers to carry out their work. Now, owing to the letter of the Vice President, many schools would be crippled, and would have to depend on Church offertories to make up the deficiency where School Boards were established. It would be the business of himself and his friends, however, to prevent the establishment of School Boards to the injury of the voluntary 949 system. They had quoted statements by the Bishops of London and Rochester; but lie could set off as against their opinion that of the Bishop of Chichester, who was an authority equally respected at least, and who said in his recent Charge that voluntary schools had reason to complain of the Inspectors, who did not make allowances for shortcomings, and who appeared to have received orders to exercise arbitrary power without mercy or forbearance, so that managers met with discouragement from those who ought to assist them. The fact was, they knew what tin; Vice President meant—he meant well, but they did not like his methods. He went out of his way to quote from the Report of the Royal Commission, but he (Admiral Field) would point out that the recommendations were to be taken as a whole, and that schools were to be assisted pecuniarily to enable them to comply with the requirements of the Department. Why did he look at the matter in that way? Why did be not adopt that portion of the Report which said that these schools should be assisted? He was sure the right hon. Gentleman did not wish to pass that point over.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
said, he did not care whether they were unanimous; he supposed the recommendation was according to rule—carried by a majority, just as this Vote would be, and that was enough.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
said, they all admired the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President; he was the right man in the right place, and all they wanted to do was to keep him straight. If his present policy in regard to the voluntary schools was adhered to, they would have to welcome School Boards, and they disliked that. Personally, he (Admiral Field) was no enemy of School Boards; he wished they could have them all over the country. If it had not been for the question of religious instruction and that of the Established Church, he would have been sitting on those Benches (the hon. and gallant Member was understood to indicate the Ministerial Benches) 950 20 years ago. He felt strongly upon these questions, and he was not disposed to welcome School Boards unless they could get over the question of the religious education of the poor. At present, as the Vice President knew, there were 90 elementary schools in which the Bible was never read and prayers were never heard. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not bring his talents to bear to secure and apply a remedy for that state of things? That was one of the reasons why they disapproved of what had been done, and that was why they wished to attach great importance to religious training. In New South Wales he (Admiral Field) found that ministers of all denominations entered the schools at certain times, in order to teach what they taught their congregations. Many of them would welcome that in England. There should be a class-room for the purpose of this training, and they should do what was being done in that far-away part of the world. They did not want to force this question upon the schools; but the other side would not be reasonable, they would have all their own way in forcing these School Boards upon the districts. For himself, he believed in lay management in preference to clerical management. They all admitted that School Boards were necessary to supplement the work of other schools; but the right hon. Gentleman wished, not to supplement, but to supplant. They complained of that; they challenged his policy because he did not hold the scales evenly. He understood, as he had said, that the Eastbourne matter was settled; and he was not going, as he had originally intended, to deal with it. There was nothing to be gained by flogging a dead horse, or stirring up sleeping dogs. He was always for letting sleeping dogs lie. The general question was that contained in the simple challenge which he had stated. As to the remarks made about the work of the last Government and free education, he admitted that the last Government was not a Conservative Government, but a Unionist Government, and the Conservatives could not have everything their own way in matters of this sort. He would simply say, in conclusion, that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, in the matters of which he had spoken, was mischievous, and he hoped it would not be continued.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, he had never listened to a more interesting and encouraging educational statement than that which had been made that evening. It showed that they were making advance all along the line. He was glad to hear the Vice President give a measure of credit to his predecessor, because he had made many valuable improvements; and it was a pleasure to him (Mr. Smith) to say that he thought during the past six years valuable improvements had been carried out under the Party now in Opposition. He had risen for the purpose of calling attention to the subject of evening continuation schools. For several Sessions he introduced a Bill to promote the establishment of such schools; but, unfortunately, he had no opportunity of advancing it, owing to his position under the ballot; but if he could not push forward the Bill he could, and did, succeed in committing the House unanimously to a Resolution in favour of evening continuation schools. Hitherto evening schools had been strangled by the pedantic and ridiculous restrictions put upon them by the Education Department; but now they had a Code thoroughly elastic, which met the wishes of the most advanced reformers. But what had been the result of this improved machinery? It recalled the the Latin proverb—Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. They had got gigantic machinery, and yet they found that whilst 4,000,000 was the average attendance of children at day schools not more than 65,000 children were attending night schools, or 1 in 50. This number was a mere bagatelle, considering that 450,000 children every year passed out of the elementary day schools of the country, the average age at which they left being 12 years. There were about 2,000,000 between the ages of 12 and 17 years, and not more than one-tenth of the number received any education at all after leaving day school. In Germany half the number would be receiving education. It did not become them to boast too much of the education of this country. It was a lamentable defect in British education that it came to an end far too soon. The Vice President of the Council had said that they looked to education quite as much to form character as to enlarge the information. But 952 how far did they form the character of a child before the age of 12, especially if the child was thrown, as the children of the working classes were to a great extent thrown, on the streets, frequenting the public-houses, and reading penny dreadfuls? How could the character of children be formed for good in those evil surroundings? Both in Board and in voluntary schools wonderful results were produced during the years the children were at school; but once the children left school there was nothing but retrogression, and if the children were brought back again to the schools at the age of 15 a great change for the worse could be seen in most of them. The greater portion of the education and training of the children was, as it were, washed out, and the whole character gone back enormously. Take the case of their own children. What would become of the children of any Member of the House if they were allowed to run loose at the age of 12? He did not believe any Member of the House would have been able to reach that honour if he had been left uncared for at the age of 12. Under their present educational system the time in which the character of children was really formed was wasted or thrown away. This was a great age for remedying social evils. They might pass innumerable measures to better the condition of the poor, and to raise the character of the degraded masses; but they would fail utterly in achieving any result worth speaking of unless they took care of the children after they left the day school. They often talked about the poor wretched creatures who occupied the slums of their large cities. How were they to cure that great evil? Simply by looking after the children from the time they left school at 12 till they were 18, as was done in Germany. If that were not done, the children born in slums would become the parents of other children born in slums, and there would be little improvement in the condition of the poor for many ages. This was not merely an educational question. It was a religious question, a social question, and an economical question also. He had given considerable thought to the question, and he had come to the conclusion that they required an age standard for children. Their education was built 953 up on the qualification standard. Children were exempted from attending school if they passed a certain Standard. The great object of parents was to get the children out of the schools, for it was thought a grand thing if a boy or a girl was able to leave school at an early age by getting quickly through the necessary Standards. Such a system was a great misfortune to a clever child, for it sent him to play about the streets, while it detained the dull child in the school. They should adopt the high age standard which was in vogue in most countries. The age at which children left school in Germany was 13 years, in Switzerland it was 15 years, but in this country, as he had said, it was only 12. That age ought to be increased to 13 years, and the Standard age for leaving the evening schools fixed at 15 years. The evening schools should be open for the six winter months in the year for three nights in the week, and attendance made compulsory. The schools were now made very attractive, and he believed that once they got the children into the evening schools there would be no difficulty in keeping them there. He knew there was a labour difficulty in some places where a large amount of child labour was employed. In regard to child labour, he would remind the Committee that England came very poorly out of the Berlin Conference, so far as restriction on child labour was concerned, and he thought the House would do well to tighten those restrictions more. He believed the Committee would give a general assent to the views he had expressed. They were surely coming near to the time when they would reach the goal of their educational system—the question of what to do with their children in the interval between 12 and 18, between the time they left school and got employment. He expressed general agreement with many of the views of hon. Members opposite with reference to religious education. He believed that there was no considerable fraction of the House who would wish to do away with religious education. But he had looked with a certain amount of jealousy at the growing feeling among certain sections of the clergy to introduce ecclesiastical Christianity as opposed to the Christianity of Christ into the national schools of the country. There was no objection 954 to the Holy Scripture being taught in the schools; but there was a great objection to any attempt being made to drive the children into one or other of the Churches. The country would never consent to hand its children over to ecclesiastics, though it had no objection to the simple, elementary teaching of the Holy Scripture in a manner suitable to children. The tendency of this age was towards lawlessness, and those who were present in the House last Thursday evening would probably be disposed to concur in this view. It seemed to him, therefore, to be important to maintain the sense of reverence among children. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne (Admiral Field) that the fear of God was the most valuable of all qualities that a child could possess, and he should be sorry if the teaching in our Schools tended in any degree to do away with that wholesome and most valuable quality. The great bulk of educationists in the country wore satisfied with the policy followed by the Department, and especially with the ability of the gentleman who now administered the Department in that House. There was hardly any difference of opinion among Parties in the House that they had got the right man in the right place in the right hon. Gentleman as President of the Council; and he believed the welfare of the country depended more on the administration of that Department than on the administration of any other Department of the State.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, that previous speakers had not dwelt sufficiently on the importance of the juncture at which they had arrived in the history of education. There was, for example, the enormous question of free education. This was the first year in which the House had been able to review that question. There was also the question to which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had devoted so much attention—the question of evening schools and secondary education, while technical education came up for review after the first few years' experience of it. There was also the more important question still of the compromise coming up for revision, as well as the enormous and increasing expenditure on public elementary education, which had risen to a figure which 955 must make even the most careless Member of the House pause; and, lastly, there was the policy of the present Government, He thought the Vice President of the Council would admit that he would like very much that, as the result of his policy, the voluntary schools were depressed and the Board schools exalted. He would not dwell on the Circular issued by the right hon. Gentleman more than to point out that the short notice which had been given to the managers of voluntary schools to carry out the demands made on them—only three weeks or a month—was an entirely new departure.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that if his right hon. Friend the late Vice President of the Council only gave such short notice he had done very wrong. As a matter of fact, such action was absolutely in the teeth of the intentions of those who passed the Education Act of 1870. There was, for instance, a celebrated speech of Mr. Forster, in which he said he did not desire in any way to supplant the voluntary schools; and there was also a speech by the present Prime Minister in which he said he was most unwilling to supplant the voluntary schools. The whole policy of the Act of 1870 was to fill the gap which the voluntary schools left. That was not the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman administered his Department. The right hon. Gentleman had asked them to give him instances in which voluntary schools had applied for sanction to charge fees under Section 4 and had been refused. There was the case of the St. Andrew's School, Willesden. That was a parish that, had a superfluity of accommodation; and at the wish of the inhabitants, and with the assent of the School Board, application was made to the Department to be allowed to charge fees for a higher grade school, partly to give a higher class education, and partly because there was a desire on the part of parents in many parts of England to have fee-paying schools. He thought it showed an extraordinary want of insight on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they did not understand this feeling on the part of parents. Members of the House did not send their children to 956 public elementary schools, not because they despised their fellow-creatures, but because, very naturally, the kind of society in which their children moved was not the kind of society in which the children of the working classes moved. He did not think there was any Member of the House, no matter how democratic he might be, who would send his children to a school attended by children of the working classes. There was the same kind of difference between the working classes themselves. There was the lower middle class and the lower class. He did not wish to say anything in the least offensive of these classes; bur the lower middle class did not desire to send their children to the schools of the lower class, and therefore they desired fee-paying schools. He did not think there was anything to be despised in that feeling. It ought to be recognised by the Department in the way of allowing fees to be charged in certain cases. In the ease of St. Andrew's School, Willesden, the Department refused the application, on the ground that they were not satisfied that sufficient free accommodation existed in the district, and because it was not, for the educational benefit of the district. Why was it that the right hon. Gentleman had not granted the benefits of the section to this school?
§ * MR. ACLAND
This case was brought to the notice of my predecessor, who refused the application, and I refused it on the same grounds.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that the last refusal was quite recently, and after every kind of representation was made to the right hon. Gentleman. He was pleased to find that the right hon. Gentleman was determined to carry out the policy of his predecessor in Office. The fact was that his right hon. Friend refused because he had not been given the information; but the right hon. Gentleman had received the information, and he had continued to refuse. With regard to the matter of charging for books under free education, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the charge for books was counted as a fee. He had received a most frantic message from the North of England, saying that the proceedings of the right hon. Gentleman in the matter of books had been of a most disastrous effect, and would do a 957 great injustice. As he now understood the right hon. Gentleman he repudiated that; but it was very curious, because there was a Circular published by his right hon. Friend (Sir W. Hart-Dyke) after the passing of the Act, in which the right hon. Gentleman explained the state of things, and stated that where the average rate charged and received in respect of fees and books during the school year was in excess of 10s. the acceptance of the fee grant would not restrict the right of managers to charge a reasonable sum for books, but that such charges must be kept distinct from the school fees. That fact showed two things—that the managers might charge for books, and that charges for books were not fees. That was the view taken of the Act by his right hon. Friend.
§ * MR. ACLAND
They might charge, but the parents might not be willing to pay—we do not dispute that.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, in that case the argument fell to the ground. The power to charge under the Education Act did not depend upon the willingness of the parent—the school managers were at liberty to make the charge.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, it did not state that; but what he submitted was that, by Section 3 of the Act of 1891, the Government of that day and Parliament who passed the Act contemplated a charge being made for books. If the right hon. Gentleman relied upon Article 85 of the Code for the policy he was carrying out, he was relying upon a broken reed. What Article 85 said was that the Department must be satisfied that the school had a sufficient staff, and was properly provided with books, maps, and so forth, and it did not say who was to provide all that. To any reader, except a member of the Education Department, the Article obviously meant that the proper books should be there.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA,) Sheffield, Brightside
Are the maps found by the children?
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that had nothing to do with the question—the point was that the books and maps were to be there, and the maps might be provided by the Department and the books by the children, but both were to be there. The right hon. Gentleman had 958 not got to interpret what was called the spirit of Article 85. The Code was an Act of Parliament, and was to be interpreted by the letter; they read what they saw, and all that was stated was that the school should be fully provided with books. If the managers chose to say the children should provide the books, and were allowed to make that a condition, then he said that the Article in the Code was satisfied, and the right hon. Gentleman had no statutory authority to insist upon the managers supplying the books. He had always observed about Vice Presidents in that House that they spoke in a way which showed they were not perfectly cognisant of the law. He did not complain that they did not know the law; but, as a matter of fact, they were not always familiar with the law. At the end of the last Government a question arose as to how the fee grant was to be calculated with regard to the average attendance. He put a question to his right hon. Friend (Sir W. Hart-Dyke), and asked him, as courteously as he could, if he would consult the Law Officers of the Crown. His right hon. Friend was quite sure it would make no difference, but promised to consult the Law Officers; and, after a long time, it turned out that he was right, and his right hon. Friend was wrong—[Laughter.] He did not mean to say it was his own perspicuity that discovered the point—he was advised by those who had made a study of the Act, and it turned out that the fee grant had been wrongly calculated, and the whole thing had to be altered. He mentioned that to prove that the Department was not so knowing as one would suppose. If the right hon. Gentleman would consult the Solicitor General beside him (Sir J. Rigby) he would find that he had no statutory authority to charge for these books. He had no wish to dwell upon the matter, as there were many hon. Members who desired to speak upon this Vote; but he wished for a moment to draw the attention of the Committee to one or two important matters in regard to education, and one of them was in regard to expenditure. He did not think the Committee really realised the expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman had told them Parliament alone spent £6,200,000. If the money was well spent he should have no criticism to make; but he submitted that their system was about as 959 uneconomical as could well be conceived. What could be more absurd than the School Board system? The right hon. Gentleman looked upon the School Board as the highest perfection of human ingenuity and wisdom. It was a Body which was anxious to spend the money of other people, and perfectly indifferent to saving. In the case of Imperial Expenditure there were cheeks. In the first place, there was the Treasury, and then there was that House; but with regard to a great part of the money—namely, that which came from the rates, there was no Treasury or Parliamentary control over the expenditure of the School Board. The School Hoard simply issued their mandatory precept to the Bating Authority demanding money, and the Rating Authority had no power to check the expenditure or to limit the demand. In respect of the income and expenditure of any particular district, as a general rule the Rating Authority had complete control; but with respect to education they had to give as much money as the Board might demand. That appeared to him an absurd system, and the only answer that could be given as to why this was the case was that they were an elected Body. If the ratepayers did not like it, why did they not stop the Board? That was a very good Parliamentary answer, but he submitted it had no bearing on the case. [An hon. MEMBER: It is practical.] That was exactly what it was not. What check did they suppose there would be upon military expenditure if the whole military expenditure was in the hands of an elected body of military experts? He ventured to say that the military expenditure would go up by leaps and bounds. The mere fact that they were elected would afford very little check upon the expenditure. He mentioned military men as an example, because, in regard to education, it was only educational enthusiasts who offered themselves for election at School Board elections. The freedom of election was limited, as the electors could only elect those candidates who presented themselves. The persons who took a special interest in education were not those who were specially interested in economical administration, and, therefore, they demanded as much money as they chose. The ratepayers could not turn them out, or, if they did, they would only put in another 960 lot of educational enthusiasts, and the expenditure would be quite as high as it was before. Therefore, he said that the reform that was called for was the reform of the School Board. It ought to be not an assembly elected ad hoc, but a committee of the general local Governing Body of the district, responsible to that body, taking their policy from it, and being subject in educational matters to the general body. One of the results of the system of the School Board was the amount of money that had been borrowed by the Board. In 1891 the amount was £22,500,000; in 1892 it was £24,000,000. So that the indebtedness of the Board had risen £1,500,000 in one year. As to the sums of money that were spent on maintenance, in 1889 every Board school child cost, on an average, in England and Wales £2 4s. 6½d., while in 1892 the cost had risen to £2 8s. 4¾d. There was a corresponding increase in the rates, which amounted to £1,388,000 in 1889, and to £1,704,000 in 1892, or an increase of 23 per cent. in the four years. He did not object to a first-rate education, but he considered that some regard should be had to the ability of the unfortunate ratepayers to pay the demands made upon them by the School Board. In order to show that it was mismanagement and extravagance, they had only to compare the different results in different parts of the country. It was most amazing to compare London with Sunderland. In Sunderland they had got a first-rate School Board, and there the cost per child was £2 1s. 8¾d., and they earned a grant of £1 per head. In London the cost was £3 4s. per child, and they earned a small grant of 19s. 2½d. The School Boards of Bolton, Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff, and other places all cost less and earned more than London, which showed how much these Board schools required to be looked after. He apologised for having detained the Committee so long, but he would like to supplement what he had been saying by pointing out that the voluntary schools were much more economical than the Board schools; they earned nearly as high a grant, and cost 11s. less per child. The Board schools, on an average, cost £2 8s. 4¾d. per head, and the voluntary schools £1 17s. per head, and the difference in the grant was very small indeed, so that with a smaller expenditure they had a 961 very much better result. He submitted, therefore, that the Board school system was very unsatisfactory from the point of view of public expenditure; they spent a great deal of money, and did not spend it economically. Before sitting down he should like to say a few words about what was called the compromise, the arrangement arrived at in 1870. He observed that in the Code for evening schools there was set forth the duties of citizens. He did not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman for trying to teach the scholars the duties of citizens. He certainly thought it was useful, now that they had got a vote, that they should know something of what happened when they used it. But there was a sort of postscript at the end which, no doubt, was very nice, and, as far as it went, very true; but how did the right hon. Gentleman propose to teach honour and virtue? Without it, he submitted that all the rest was as sounding brass. It was because the present system of Board school education did not provide for the teaching of honour and virtue that the teaching was unsatisfactory. ["Oh, oh!"] He apologised to the Committee if he had gone too far. He did not say that some Board schools did not teach useful education of this kind, but he said there was no guarantee for it whatever. The Committee knew very well that the practical result of the compromise for years was that in these schools unsectarian Christianity was taught, and that was supposed to be the method of producing honour and virtue. But they were passing from the régime of Christianity altogether, unsectarian or otherwise. That was the conviction borne in upon those who were watching the education of the country. They must all have observed the efforts which were being made by a large minority on the London School Board to abolish Christianity altogether. ["No, no!"] It was so. Was the example of the large minority on the London School Board to be followed? Was the right hon. Gentleman aware of what had been going on in the Colony of Victoria? He knew that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) had had his attention drawn to the Colony of Victoria, and knew what went on in that Colony, and it was most instructive, because they were their 962 own kith and kin. The extent to which unsectarianism was carried in that Colony was perfectly amazing.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that was the logical conclusion of un-sectarian teaching, and he would show to what it amounted. The result of divorcing religion from education was of a most melancholy kind. The Committee would remember an able speech made by the present Bishop of Manchester at the Church Congress last year, in which he pointed out the result of secular teaching in Victoria—that crime had increased enormously, and such was the demoralisation that there was a reaction, and when the reaction came there was a somewhat better result. What he (Viscount Cranborne) was now about to refer to he had from a friend of his who was connected with the Colony by marriage. He wanted to make the Committee understand what was the logical conclusion of a system of secular education by reference to the case of Victoria. There was in Victoria a permissive clause which allowed a voluntary teacher to go into the school once a week to teach religion. A lady going to a school permitting such religious instruction had forgotten to bring a Bible. She asked the schoolmaster to lend her one, but the reply was—"I dare not; I have not one, and I dare not bring a Bible to school for fear the Inspector should hear of it." That was the kind of thing that prevailed under the secular system in Victoria. Again, in the poem "The Wreck of the Hesperus," the following verse was omitted:—Then the maiden clasped her hands,And prayed that saved she might be;And she thought of Christ who stilled the waves,On the Lake of Galilee.That was the logical and inevitable outcome of the system of secular education. [An hon. MEMBER: Where is that?] That was in the Diocese of Ballarat, in the Colony of Victoria. The contention he was submitting to the Committee was that the right hon. Gentleman, by his action, was trying to destroy the voluntary schools and substitute the Board schools; and he was pointing out that the substitution of Board schools would lead to the result 963 that because some people might object—and they were beginning to object—to religious instruction, there would soon be no religious teaching in the Board schools at all. He was afraid that patriotism and civic virtues would also be ere long tabooed, for one hon. Gentleman that night had objected to anything being taught about the Army. Following in the wake of objecting to the teaching of religion, some people might be found objecting to the teaching of patriotism. There was no logical standpoint in the present system. Where there was a logical standpoint was in the case of voluntary schools, which were established by religious people to give a first-rate education, and to teach religion as well, according to the faith of the particular denomination to which the school belonged. It was that system they asked should be maintained, and he would beg the right hon. Gentleman not to force on the great controversy as to religious education. If he did, he would find that the people of this country were profoundly religious in their character, and wished their children to receive a religious education. But the right hon. Gentleman was using the Board school system for the purpose of overthrowing denominational education in this country. The two points to which he had specially drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman was his forbidding charges for books in public elementary schools, for which course, he submitted, the right hon. Gentleman had no statutory authority, and his refusal to allow voluntary schools, or schools of any kind, to take advantage of Section 4 of the Act of 1891. He was afraid they could not assent to the action of the right hon. Gentleman; and, in order that the Committee might be able to express an opinion upon it, he begged to move that the salary of the Vice President be reduced by £500.
Motion made, and Question proposed.
That Item A (Salaries), of £6,869, be reduced by £500 in respect of the salary of the Vice President."—(Viscount Cranborne.)
§ * MR. DIXON (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
had listened with great surprise and still greater regret to the speech of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had ascribed to the Vice President of the Council a desire to extinguish all voluntary schools. 964 There had been no evidence whatever of that view. There had been allusions made there and in the other House to some Circular that had been sent out from the Education Department, and to a list of schools which had been published, which schools were stated not to have proper sanitary and educational appliances. Upon that circumstance it would appear that the noble Lord had based the very strong accusations that he had brought against the Vice President.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I brought several points. There are a series of different matters which have been brought forward in the course of the Debate against the right hon. Gentleman, and I did not weary the Committee by going through all the points already raised.
§ * MR. DIXON
replied, that he could only take those points that had been brought forward. He wished to remark to those hon. Gentlemen opposite who were in favour of voluntary schools that he did not think it would have been possible for the Vice President to have done anything more efficacious on behalf of the existence of the voluntary schools than he had done by the issue of that Circular which had been so much criticised. What did that Circular mean? It meant simply this—that the Department had ascertained through officials who were not on one side or the other, but who, from their position, were obliged to be, and were sure to be, absolutely impartial, that a certain number of schools were deficient on the points referred to, and very seriously deficient. What was the total number of such schools? The total number of such schools was only about 1½ per cent. of the schools of the country, and if they took the average attendance it was only ½ per cent. of the total attendance, in the whole country; therefore, what he would like hon. Members opposite to understand was this—it was by no means the large matter they had assumed it to be, but it was a very small matter. Of course, it was easy to say that this was only the beginning, that there was a principle involved it it, and it might be extended to all the schools. They might say that, and he was sorry to say that in that House it was not an unusual thing to impute motives. But let him 965 point out that, in reality, it was the very best thing for the voluntary system that these inferior, imperfect, inefficient, and bad school buildings should either be improved up to the level of the day, or that they should be shut up. The advanced educationists were of opinion that the voluntary schools could not give a secular education of equal efficiency to that which was given in the Board schools, and for this reason—that they had not got the money to pay for the cost of the superior schools, and therefore a great many of the advanced educationists had said that they hoped the time would come—not now, but later on—when the inferior voluntary schools would be superseded by the superior Board schools. If inefficient and inadequate voluntary schools were to be continued, what better arguments could advanced educationists have than to say—"Look at these schools compared with the Board schools"? and the parents of the children would have no hesitation in deciding in favour of the Board schools. What the Vice President had done was to give that notice to which reference had been made; and if that notice should be quietly and slowly carried into effect, the result would be that the schools would be improved, and then they should not bring forward that strong argument to which he had referred. The Vice President, he would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite, was their best friend. It was not he who had passed this legislation, but the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party had been in power for six years; and if these evils really were of the magnitude that was now represented, why did not the Conservative Party, when they were in power, have them altered? But they did not, and wisely did not. They considered that all that the Department was doing was advisable, and their arrangements were such as ought not to be interfered with. The noble Lord had expressed the opinion that the system of School Boards was a very defective one—that it was a very bad system. Let him just point out to the noble Lord this very important fact. When the Education Act of 1870 was passed, Mr. Forster, who introduced it, was on the side of hon. Gentlemen opposite to a large extent, if not entirely, on the religious question. But why did he establish the School Board system? It was because there was not 966 sufficient accommodation for more than half of the children of the country, and the other half were on the streets. The question, then, was not the religious character of the education to be given; it was whether for one-half the children there was to be any education at all. In London and Birmingham the proportion of children then at school was less than half what it is at present. If the School Board system had not been established, how could the education of these neglected children have been provided for? What was the School Board system? As he understood it, the noble Lord bad got the notion that the education given in the Board schools was, in the first place, more costly than that given in the voluntary schools; and, in the second place, not one item better. [Viscount CRANBORNE: I did not say that.] Then what was the meaning of bringing forward the fact that voluntary schools obtained nearly as large a grant? That was an argument continually brought forward; but the grant given was no test whatsoever of the efficiency of a school. Why was the cost greater in the Board schools? The cost of Board schools was greater than the cost of voluntary schools, because School Boards built the best schools that knowledge and experience could devise. Birmingham had spent £10 per head upon Board schools, while voluntary schools cost only £5. But was there a ratepayer in the country that would not willingly give the extra £5 for the additional advantage to the schools? The noble Lord said he placed no value whatsoever upon the opinions of the ratepayer, because he was compelled to elect a small number of men who were really to be his leaders and masters, and whom he had no kind of alternative but to follow. That was not the case. Did not the noble Lord know that upon this very ground of economy the London School Board were turned out, and the party of economy had twice gained a victory at the elections? As Chairman of the Birmingham School Board, he could tell the noble Lord that they were just as much bound to consider the money it was spending as the Metropolis was; the Birmingham School Board carefully watched the opinion of the ratepayers, and was guided by it; and the Birmingham ratepayers willingly allowed the School Board to spend all the money that was seen to be necessary and 967 appropriate. It was not true to say that there was no check on School Board expenditure. A great part of that expenditure was on school buildings, and a School Board could not erect a school without submitting plans showing the cost to the Department, who would not allow an expenditure of more than £10 per scholar. The noble Lord went on to say that the education given in these schools was not better than the education given in the voluntary schools. It seemed to him almost wearying the Committee to answer that question; and he was glad to find on that point, and on many others, there really was no sympathy expressed by the Committee with the remarks made by the noble Lord. He would tell the noble Lord what had taken place. When he first examined the voluntary schools of his own town before the Education Act of 1870, he went to the best school of that class in the town, and what was the staff? One head and seven pupil teachers. The School Board said—"No; we are not going to entrust the education of these children to other children. We will have adult teachers, and, if possible, they shall be certificated and trained." What advanced educationists thought was this—that there was nothing more important to the interests, financial and otherwise, of this country, than that the people should have the best education to fit them for their work in life; and he had always said, and been supported in saying, that that was the truest economy. The School Board had gone on in that sense; and did the noble Lord say that a school which was taught by one adult and seven pupil teachers could be equal to a school where all the teachers where adults and might be certificated and trained? That was the second great item in the cost of the Board schools. Were they to continue that cost or not? He was convinced that of the ratepayers who had elected the present School Board in Birmingham, there was not one who would vote in favour of reducing the efficiency of the teaching staff. The School Board had introduced a great variety of extra subjects, such as cookery, sewing, and manual exercises. The people of the town knew the value of these things, and if the School Board of Birmingham were to propose to give up teaching these subjects because of the expense, they would be at once turned out; therefore, 968 while he admitted that the Board schools were more expensive than the voluntary schools, he said that this extra cost was not only approved by the ratepayers, but every intelligent man who compared the two classes of schools would admit that it was a cost which was more than justified. The noble Lord had complained that while religion was taught in the denominational schools there was no religion taught in the Board schools, whilst the gallant Admiral (Admiral Field) also objected to the absence of religion in the Board schools. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated that in the secular schools in New South Wales the religious ministers of all denominations were permitted to go into these schools outside school hours and give religious teaching, and he had expressed the hope that, in some way or other, a system of that kind might be introduced into England. Well, that was the very system which existed at present in Birmingham. Let the noble Lord understand it was not a question of religion or no religion. They were as much in favour of religion as the noble Lord. It was merely a question as to which was the best method of giving that religious instruction, and they had come to the conclusion that the least objectionable system was that described by the gallant Admiral, and which was now in operation in Birmingham. He did not say that that system was perfectly effective, or that they had done all they themselves desired to do. But they were looking for greater success, and he thought all that was possible might be got upon these lines. If those from whom they heard so much about the importance of religion would heartily co-operate with them in this matter, there was no doubt their efforts would be attended with success. Do not let it be supposed that any of those for whom he spoke were against religion; the question—which he admitted was a very difficult one—was as to the method that should be adopted. He thought that the system of training to which allusion had been made was the best and highest in the interests of the country. He was willing to give his opponents credit for the highest motives. He asked that they, too, should give us credit for such motives. It was simply a question of the best method. The present Vice President had only been in 969 Office for one year, and he could not be expected to carry out all the suggestions that had been made before lie came into Office. He was not responsible for those suggestions. He had, however, discharged his duties in a most able and satisfactory manner.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
said, they would agree with many of the views of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, especially those on subjects with which he had been specially identified, for his views carried weight, the hon. Gentleman being Chairman of a School Board which, from an administrative point of view, was the ablest and most economical in the Kingdom. He would not follow him, however, in his criticism of the School Board system. His noble Friend (Lord Cranborne) had told them that he did not object to School Board schools as such, but that he greatly preferred the voluntary system, since it contained secular and religious instruction. There was, undoubtedly, a general feeling among the friends of voluntary schools that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Acland) had dealt rather more hardly with those schools than his predecessor did. The action of the Education Department in setting up School Boards in certain localities had been rather summary; and an example of this was found in the school district of Hounslow, where action had been taken to which he wished to draw attention. He was sure that a serious mistake had been made—a mistake of so serious a character that, unless it were rectified, it must imperil the future of almost every voluntary school in the Kingdom. Under the Act of 1870, when, in any given locality, there was a deficiency of school accommodation, there were two methods by which the deficiency could be made good. The ordinary method of procedure was under Sections 9 and 10, which provided that when notice was given of any deficiency the district might make a proposal to the Education Department within six mouths, and that if the Department should be thereby satisfied that the necessary school accommodation would be supplied no School Board could be set up. The other method was under Section 12, which dealt only with cases where the School Authorities were either unable or unwilling to supply the necessary school accommodation. In that case the Department 970 were allowed to set up a School Board, and to provide the necessary accommodation. It was not legal, where notices had been issued under Section 9, to act under Section 12 where the period named in the notice had not elapsed. He asked the Vice President to cite one instance in which summary action had been taken before the period named in the final notice had elapsed. This question raised a point of great importance to voluntary schools. Hounslow district had a population of 18,000 persons. As the population had grown and extended the voluntary schools had been enlarged, and had met the increased demand put upon them. Some time back there was in one part of that district a slight deficiency of 300 school places, and on May 15 a final notice was issued to the School Authorities, giving them one month in which to supply that deficiency. On June 6, less than three weeks from the date of the final notice, a letter was written from one of the school managers in the district stating that they were in a position to comply with the requirements of the notice. Two days later he received a letter from the Education Department saying that they could not consider his proposal, because, in the meanwhile, they had entertained the question of a School Board, and the Education Department stated that they could not withdraw the notice under which the School Board would be set up.
§ * MR. ACLAND
said, that there was no summary action. The School Board was not set up on the action of the Department, but upon that of the ratepayers, who sent to the Department to ask that they would set up the Board. There was no case on record in which, under such circumstances, the Government had not set up a School Board.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
said, that did not meet his point, which was a very simple one. It was as to the final notice, and there was no case of a Board being set up when that notice remained unexpired. The reason given for the action of the Education Department was that a meeting of ratepayers had been held, and that the meeting had decided that they wished for the establishment of a School Board. But that meeting was attended by only 67 ratepayers, and the resolution was even then only carried by a small majority. I doubt if 40 voted in its favour. There 971 were some 18,000 persons, of whom some 3,000 were ratepayers, in the district. If it were in the power of the Education Department to set up a School Board in a district upon the vote of 1½ per cent. only of the ratepayers upon the remaining 98½ per cent., there would not be a district in England in which it would not be possible to set up a School Board. He denied that the clause to which he referred was capable of such an interpretation. That clause only applied to localities which were unable to make good a deficiency in school accommodation.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
said, that under the regulations any number of ratepayers could resolve that a, School Board was required, notwithstanding that there was ample school accommodation already in existence. But could it be said that the number of those attending should not bear some relation to the number of ratepayers? He fully acquitted the right hon. Gentleman of any deliberate intention to destroy the voluntary schools, which, however, were being subjected to a "pacific blockade," and the action that was being taken was contrary to the spirit of the compromise of 1870. It was not fair to put such an interpretation on the clause. If the voluntary schools were to be abolished they ought to be abolished by distinct statute, and not by the chance resolutions of an uncertain number of ratepayers. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the matter, for, if he was right, then the matter was a very serious one for the voluntary schools.
§ * MR. ACLAND
I will reply to the noble Lord in the same spirit as that in which he put his question. The noble Lord, I think, will admit—everyone must admit—the difficulties of administering the present dual system; but I can assure the noble Lord that what the Department looks to is not whether schools are voluntary or whether they are under the School Board, but whether they are efficient. It is quite true that even in cases where there is ample school accommodation a certain number of ratepayers may send in a requisition to the Department for the establishment of a School Board, and that, as a general rule, the Department act under the requisition. I venture to say that the noble Lord cannot 972 point to a case where that has been done, and where the Department has not granted the Board—acceded to the wishes of the people of the district. So ordinary a matter is it that it is not at all referred to the Vice President, but is dealt with by the officers of the Department, just as this matter was. I do not say that justifies the Department, but I state it to show that the officers regarded this as an ordinary case. No complaint whatever reached the Department adverse to the requisition, and the School Board was appointed in the ordinary way. Indeed, while matters were pending a letter was received from the Vicar of Hounslow, in which he said that they were about to take the first stop towards establishing a, Board school, and spoke of erecting new buildings. We had, therefore, no occasion to believe that there was reason to make further inquiry, or that might have been done, if it were considered necessary to do it. I think I have said enough to show—
§ * MR. ACLAND
It was sent out in the ordinary course, and does not affect the School Board question. Now, Sir, I think I have first of all to thank the late Vice President and many Members on both sides of the House for the kindly manner in which they have spoken of myself. He called my attention to Clause 4 (1) in the Free Education Act, under which it is provided that only in certain cases, and when there is plenty of free school accommodation for the district, may an additional charge be made as school fees. I do not deny that that clause gave me a great deal of trouble. I had to certify that that charge of fees, or increase of fees, would be for the educational benefit of the district, and School Boards have written to me pressing me most strongly to allow the higher schools to charge foes. I have had a, great variety of opinions sent to me on the subject, and I can assure the Committee that in many places opinion is largely divided. Some have said that the higher schools should be free, as in the case of two such schools in Birmingham. The question the Department have to consider is whether it will be advantageous for the districts in which the schools are situate. In the Batley ease the vicar wrote saying that the only hope for the school was that it should be free. I give that for what it 973 is worth. The Secretary of the Trades Council wrote to the same effect, while several members of the School Board were of the opposite opinion. In the Willesden case, to which reference has been made, the Department is not yet satisfied that there is sufficient free public school accommodation, and that is one of the first conditions.
§ * MR. ACLAND
No. As to the administration of Clauses 104 and 105 (relating to the grants to small schools), the Public Accounts Committee have called attention to the matters on more than one occasion. I believe those grants to be of the highest possible value. Regard must be paid to the population of the district, however, and to some extent to the available means of the school. If there should happen to be—as there are in some cases—a considerable endowment or balance, it is not well to hastily make a grant. But in the case where arrangements are being made to improve the school the claim deserves very careful consideration. Though I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Hey-wood Division of Lancashire as to secondary education, I am afraid the Government cannot promise another Royal Commission just now. The hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston (Sir R. Temple) called attention to Section 5 of the Free Education Act, and I may say it is a misconception of the policy of the Department to suppose that its object is to get rid of fees altogether. There is an absolute duty imposed by the Act to provide free places for all who ask for them; but if the school managers satisfy the demand, the Department does nothing. I am quite sure that there has been no change in the method of reckoning the voluntary school places. So long as the schools are in good condition and fulfil the requirements their accommodation is reckoned in exactly the same way as that of other schools. The hon. Membersaid—and I agree with him—that small buildings must sooner or later conform to modern requirements, and the whole question with regard to school buildings is whether we are not progressing too fast. I can only say that we have given instructions that reasonable latitude must be allowed in this matter, and that alterations must not be insisted on too severely. 974 In reply to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir J. Lubbock), I think I can say that in all the Training Colleges there has been a considerable addition to the number of students. The hon. Member for Wigan (Sir F. S. Powell), or some other hon. Member, asked me whether I agreed with the statement made by Lord Kimberley in another place, and I have to reply that I do agree with it. The question of the voluntary contributions of parents has been raised by the Member for Kingston. All the Department wish to do in this matter is to make it clear that if voluntary contributions are made, they must not be made or received as ordinary school fees, otherwise it would give rise to misunderstanding; but beyond that there is no objection to voluntary contributions on the part of parents. The hon. Baronet the Member for Banbury (Sir B. Samuelson) said we ought to have our children at school up to 12 years of age, and I agree with him; but in these matters it is best to begin in a humble way. It is complained that we have been over-zealous in the establishment of School Boards. But the late Government made 120 School Boards themselves, and in 44 cases they gave only one month's notice, and in 26 cases only two months' notice. The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. S. Smith), who for so long has devoted his attention to the work of evening continuation schools, was good enough to speak with sincere approval of the new Evening School Code. He said—and I agree with him—that an age limit is what we need, and he said it ought to be 13 years. But I think we shall do well if we begin at 11, and go on improving and advancing with the opinion of the country. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne) raised the question of books. Well, we maintain that the words in the Code mean that the books are to be provided by the managers. Section 8, which is a little clearer, says—The managers are held responsible by the Department for the conduct of their schools, for their maintenance and efficiency, and for the provision of all needful furniture, books, and apparatus.
§ MR. ACLAND
I can only say that I think the noble Lord puts a doubtful interpretation on the words of the section.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
Why I think so is because that has been the practice of the Department for a great number of years.
§ * MR. ACLAND
The Solicitor General takes the same view as myself and the Department on the question. In conclusion, I would most heartily thank the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) for speaking as he did of the Department. I ought not to conclude without asking the Committee to pass the Vote to-night. There has not been a case for years in which the Education Vote has not been passed in a single night.
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
said that, in answer to a remark which had just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, he would draw attention to the fact that there had probably never been a year in which so many School Boards had been set up against the wishes of the inhabitants—a fact which he would prove by figures in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman would be familiar with the subject he (Mr. Lawson) wished to bring under his notice. For five months he had been trying to bring before the attention of the House the way in which a School Board had been forced upon a small village in his constituency, not only without notice, but against the wishes of the people expressed at an indignation meeting. Such was the protection afforded by our Parliamentary Institutions that he had been unable to call attention to the matter until the School Board had been appointed for all time, and it was too late to retrace the steps which had been taken. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) said that there was not a particle of evidence that the Vice President of the Council was endeavouring to act hardly towards voluntary schools, and the right hon. Gentleman himself had told them that he had not set up more School Boards than his predecessor. Well, he found that for the year ending March 31, 1893, 30 Orders were issued creating now School Boards for parishes, of which 19 were formed compulsorily; in the previous year 18 such notices were issued, only seven Boards being established compulsorily. The right hon. Gentleman 976 had only been in Office half the year; what would have been the result had he been in power for a whole year he (Mr. Lawson) would be sorry to contemplate. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had acted on requisitions from the inhabitants; but they knew what a farce that was, a small body of the inhabitants having enforced their will upon a large number. In the village of Popham in his constituency in Yorkshire, in which a School Board had been set up, the inhabitants had not the slightest knowledge that that was to be done until February 17. On that day the Department sent down an Order for the formation of a Board, but the notice was not posted until February 25, and that notice announced that an election would take place on March 16. What was the opinion of the Lord President of the Council as to how those matters should be conducted? Speaking on July 18 in another place, he said—The real object of the Department, of course, is to secure proper accommodation for the children, giving, at the same time, a perfectly fair opportunity for those who prefer voluntary schools to provide that accommodation before the final step is taken of authorising School Boards.How could it be said that a fair opportunity had been given in the case he referred to? The result was that a School Board was forced upon the inhabitants, which meant a school rate, and the money which came from charity schools which existed in the village was to be applied to secondary education. A little time should have been given to enable them to provide the necessary accommodation voluntarily. He should think from the statistics that such cases had been going on all over the country, and he only regretted that he had not an earlier opportunity of calling attention to this particularly hard case.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he wished to state that he desired to bring before the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council certain matters which he thought of some importance. As he had not an opportunity of doing so to-night, he would claim an opportunity on the Report stage.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 157.—(Division List, No. 253.)977
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the Business:—
§ Whereupon Mr. Acland rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 156; Noes 65.—(Division List, No. 254.)
§ Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Committee sit again Tomorrow."
SIR W. HART-DYKE
said, that in consequence of the moving of the Closure a large number of Members had been unable to address the Committee, and a number of Amendments which appeared on the Paper could not be considered. He, therefore, appealed to the Government to take the Report of the Vote to-morrow at an hour that would admit of discussion.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir J. T. HIBBERT,) Oldham
said, he thought there was some reason in the request of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and the Government intended that the Report should be brought on at 11 o'clock. As some hon. Members seemed rather to find fault with the Government for having pressed the Vote, he might say he was informed that on no occasion within the memory of anyone had the Education Vote occupied more than one day. He undertook to arrange that the Report should be taken up at 11 o'clock to-morrow evening.
§ MR. BARTLEY
appealed to the Government to take the Report at 10 o'clock. The Vote had never reached the sum of £6,000,000 before, and there had never before been a year of free education to look back upon.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he desired to bring forward a question in the form of an Amendment. He had handed in an Amendment, but had been told that the 978 practice of Parliament had been changed of late years.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. That is not a point to be settled now. The only point now before the House is the day on which Supply is to be taken. The hon. Gentleman's question should be raised to-morrow.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
expressed a hope that the Government would take the Report of the Vote a little earlier than 11 o'clock.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.