HC Deb 02 September 1895 vol 36 cc1534-9

On the motion for the Second Reading of this Bill,


said, this Bill was brought in by the Government in consequence of a pledge given by his predecessor. It was merely a question as to a certain Order in Council; the present Scheme was submitted in the usual way, but it was not laid before both Houses of Parliament owing to a mistake made in the Educational Department. Attention was called to the matter several times in the House on the Vote on Account, and the Vice-President said the point had been submitted to the Law Officers as to whether there were any means of bringing the Scheme before Parliament. He (the then Vice-President) said that if there were any reasonable means, even by Act of Parliament, by which the Scheme could be brought before Parliament, he should be very glad to adopt those means. At the accession of the present Government it was referred to the President of the Council to say how that could be carried out. The Law Officers were consulted, and the advice they gave was that there were no means, except by Act of Parliament, by which this Order in Council could be rescinded. It was in fulfilment of that pledge that the present Government thought they should bring in this Bill to carry out continuity of Regulation. The only provision in the Bill was to rescind the Order in Council, and in moving the Second Reading he hoped that hon. Members opposite would not oppose it, as it was to carry out a pledge given by their predecessors.

* MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)

thought it was highly inexpedient that the Bill should pass, owing to the circumstances under which the Scheme was passed. The endowment which the Bill proposed to deal with was an ancient one, and had been used for the last 80 years or so purely for the purposes of an elementary school. When originally started it was perhaps a very great improvement on most of the elementary schools of that time, but it had now become utterly inadequate for its purpose. There were only two rooms, one for boys the other for girls, and when the average attendance was exceeded in either, the overcrowding was very considerable. There were no class rooms, and the condition of the offices was scandalous. There was no playground, and the water supply was derived from a pump close to the churchyard, if not upon the ground which formed part of the churchyard originally, and was condemned some time ago by the Medical Officer of Health. The trustees for many years had been conscious that something must be done, but they did not take any steps for some years, because they anticipated the endowment being dealt with under the jurisdiction given to the Charity Commissioners by the Endowed Schools Acts. Upon the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, the Scheme now in question was framed for the Endowment by the Joint Intermediate Education Committee of the county unanimously. He proceeded to show that the Scheme was in accordance with the settled policy of the Joint Committee, which was to secure secondary education of a type suitable for children destined for country pursuits in schools in immediate proximity to their homes.

MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

asked the Speaker whether the hon. Member was in order in discussing the merits of the whole question of intermediate education.


The hon. Member must confine himself to the merits of the question before the House.


said, that the Charity Commissioners objected to the method by which the Joint Committee had originally proposed to carry out their object in the case (among other endowments) of Berriew, but they pointed out that there were other means of effecting the object in view—[Cries of "Order, order!"]—namely, by making a grant by way of scholarships and the establishment of an upper department in schools of the locality.


rising to order, desired to ask whether the hon. Member was in order in referring to the Schemes?


I have read the proposals of the Bill, and I cannot say that it is out of order for the hon. Member to refer to the Schemes; but I hope he will not do so in more detail than is necessary.


said, that he would not. Their proposals were, first, that the endowment should be kept for the purposes of the school, not used for scholarships elsewhere, and, further, that an additional grant of £73 a year should be made to the school out of the General County Fund, in order to ensure adequate teaching. These proposals were laid before the Trustees of the Berriew School, at a meeting convened for the purpose. They were most carefully explained to the Trustees of the school, including the Vicar of the parish, and now he would come to what was the whole gist of the matter. [Ironical Ministerial cheers.] Under the Scheme, religious instruction of an undenominational character, and only by members of the teaching staff, was to be given in the school. As the Joint Committee understood and entered on their minutes, this was agreed to by the Trustees, and thereupon they forwarded their proposals to the Charity Commissioners, with a view to a Scheme based upon theirs being drafted in the usual way. The Commissioners then raised the question whether this endowment was a Church endowment within Section 19 of The Endowed Schools Act. After long consideration they ultimately decided it was not, and the Scheme went on. During the year 1893, the draft was sent to the Trustees for their consideration twice, and each time they made some observations upon it; but made no attempt to alter the religious instruction clause.


It appears to me that the hon. Member is now discussing the history and not the merits of the Scheme.


said he was shewing that the Scheme was approved by the Trustees. It was also approved unanimously by the Joint Education Committee and the County Council, in fact by all concerned, and was only objected to at the last moment by the Vicar. He was proceeding to say that he regretted that the Vice-President had suggested a doubt as to the bonâ fides of the Petitioners when——


interposing, said: I stated nothing about the bonâ fides of the Commissioners. What I said was, that that was not in issue at the present time. [Cheers.]


proceeded to remark, that it had been ascertained that many signatures to the petitions which had been presented had been obtained on misrepresentations as to the result of the Scheme, and that it was upon those misrepresentations being cleared up that the signatures had been withdrawn. Upon the merits of the case therefore he was justified in taking the course he had done. The Scheme was one which concerned the inhabitants of the parish in question, and this was the only opportunity he should have of protesting against it.


said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down did not appear to realise the effect of the course he was taking. Whatever might be the merits or the demerits of the Scheme in question, he had already stated to the House that it was not the intention of the Government to take opposed business during the present Session, and therefore if hon. Members went to a Division against the Bill the Government would drop the measure.

* MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)

said, that he rose to move that the Bill be read a third time that day three months. It was highly inconvenient for the Government to bring in a Bill to rescind an Order in Council which precluded the matter from being discussed upon its merits.

* MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

said, that he should support the Motion of the hon. Member, as a protest against the system that was now so prevalent, of introducing addresses against Welsh Schemes in the House of Lords instead of in the House of Commons. If the Government were justified in refusing to introduce a Bill to expedite the passing of a Scheme which related, not to one small parish, but to a county like Glamorganshire, with a population of 750,000, then the Welsh Members were justified in objecting to the Government bringing forward a measure that related to one parish only. The Welsh Liberal Members represented the great majority of the people of Wales, and therefore should be listened to. Hon. Gentlemen opposite desired, at the bidding of a small aggressive faction on their own side, to induce the House to reject a scheme which had been passed by the Joint Education Committee of Glamorganshire, assented to by Conservative and Liberal Members of the Committee, and passed by the Charity Commissioners arid the Education. Department.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Debate resumed.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon) moved the adjournment of the Debate, observing that the Leader of the House in pressing forward this Bill had departed from the pledge he gave that no contentious Bill should be proceeded with during the present Session.


said, he had twice stated that he would not press the Bill.


said, that if the right hon. Gentleman would not press the Bill he would withdraw his Motion, and this was accordingly withdrawn.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 134; Noes, 22.—(Division List, No. 37.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and Committed for Monday next.