§ 1. £4,162,213, to complete the sum for Public Education (England and Wales),
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
Mr. Lowther, it is 1237 customary in submitting the Estimates for Elementary Education for the Vice President of the Council to make a statement to the Committee as to the general position and prospects of elementary education in England and Wales. But as I have already this Session had so many opportunities—[Opposition laughter]—of expressing the view which the Government take of the present condition of elementary education and what is needed for its development, and the general policy which they ought to pursue in endeavouring to bring about that end, I am quite sure the Committee would not tolerate from mo any lengthened statement at all, and I should not have made any statement except that I am reluctant to depart from a practice which has been sanctioned by well-established usage. Therefore I make a few observations rather with a view to reserving" the right to my successors than to say much to enlighten the Committee itself. The hon. Member for Northampton has expressed the general feeling of the Committee as to the increase of the Education Estimates. The expenditure during the past year exceeded the expenditure of the year before by £275,000. It was greater than had been expected; and a Supplementary Estimate had to be taken to meet the excess. The increased expenditure was well spread over all the principal items. I do not know that there is anything in the increased expenditure to call for special mention, except that it indicates the continued progress of education in the country. There is an increase in the numbers on the books, and an increase in the grants that the children earn. In the coming year we have only estimated for an increase of £186,000. That is partly due to the fact that the stimulus given to education by the Act of 1891 is gradually becoming exhausted, and the progress in all parts of education, which still goes on, in the normal increase due to the increase in the population and wealth of the country. This increase of £186,000 is again spread over every item of expenditure. The cost of inspection has increased chiefly because the evening schools are just now making great progress, and because the new system of making two surprise visits a year, instead of the regular 1238 inspection formerly made once a year, has increased the inspectors' travelling expenses. The decrease of £3,645 in the charges for pensions which appears on the Estimates is apparent and not real. In previous years £6,710 had to be provided in order to defray the temporary cost of the exchange from half-yearly to quarterly payments, and, so far from there being a diminution in the charge for pensions, there is really an increase of £3,065, and an increase in the number of pensions given of 129. Another cause in the increase of the expenditure is the increased payments which will have to be made to School Boards under the 97th section of the Act of 1870—a section which was very much discussed in our education Debates. ["Hear, hear!"] The effect of that discussion was to reveal to some School Boards rights to grants out of the Consolidated Fund which they had previously overlooked. ["Hear, hear!"] The consequence will lie that every School Board which is entitled to such a grant will make a demand for it, which we calculate will take £8,850, and even that may prove too small a sum. But the great increase in expenditure this year, as in other years, is due to the increase in the grants made to day scholars. The increase we anticipate this year is 70,000 in average attendance, a penny increase in the rate of the grant earned, and an increase in the amount which has been charged on the Consolidated Fund for that purpose of £86,000. Since 1891, when the last Education Act was passed, the increase in average attendance is as follows:—In 1891 the increase was only .86 per cent., the normal increase; in 1892 it sprang up to 3.22; in 1893 to 5.92; in 1894 it sank to 3.47; in 1895 to 2.3; and this year, we anticipate, to 2.2; so that, although the increase has become less rapid, it has not yet gone down to the normal rate of 1890. Then there is an increase in the fee grant of £48,500. There is also a satisfactory increase in the charges for evening schools. In 1893, when the evening school code was first introduced, there were 1,977 evening schools and 115,000 scholars. Now there are 3,421 evening schools and 270,000 scholars; so that, while the evening schools have doubled, the scholars have more than doubled. 1239 ["Hear, hear!"] The schools for the blind and deaf also show an increase. In 1895 there were 79 schools certified with accommodation for 4,130 children, and there was an actual grant made that year out of the Consolidated Fund in respect of 3,148 children. This grant is three guineas a year for every deaf and dumb child receiving an elementary education, and an additional two guineas for every child who receives manual instruction or industrial training. The whole of the 3,148 children in 1895 received the grant for elementary instruction, but only 1,934 obtained the grant for industrial training, so that the average grant per child that year was £3 8s. For the current year we estimate that the grant will be for 3,148 children, being an average of £3 10s. 9d. per child. Cooking and laundry instruction in the elementary schools are, on the whole making satisfactory progress. The number of girls taught cookery in the past year was 135,000, an increase of nearly 13,000 during the year. Looking to the fact that there are more than half a million of girls attending elementary schools in England and Wales who are qualified to be taught cookery, it is evident that there is considerable room for expansion in the teaching of that subject, and it is to be hoped that the progress will go on with accelerated rapidity in the years to come. The teaching of laundry work in elementary schools has only gone on for four or five years. In the last year the advance in the number of girls to whom grants were made was very extraordinary. It was 62 per cent. over the number in the year before. In 1891, when the grant for laundry work was first made, the number of girls was 632; in 1892 it was 2,766; in 1893 it was 5,640; in 1894 it was 7,338; and in 1895 it was 11,720; so that the teaching of Laundry work is only beginning. It has already made such progress that we might anticipate a great increase in the number of girls taught in the course of the next few years. I do not think that, in regard to the supply of teachers, we are making that progress we all desire. There will be in the present year an increase of £36,000 for training colleges. But this increase is really only an apparent increase. There is a temporary reduction in the Vote for 1895–6 owing to the 1240 change in the academical year from December 31st to June 30th, and therefore the increase in the grant to training colleges is apparent only, and not real. I wish we could see our way to a very great increase in the expenditure upon the training of teachers. At present there are 43 residential colleges, and these are attended by 1,384 men and 2,100 women. Besides these, there are 14 day training colleges, attended by 385 men and 426 women. Taking these colleges together, the whole number of teachers they had in training was 4,296, and they turned out annually teachers who are qualified to take charge of schools to the number of about 2,100. This number is quite insufficient to meet the requirements of the existing schools, and if the wishes of the Government were carried out, and the education in all the Voluntary Schools of the country and the poor Board Schools made more efficient, the number of teachers turned out would be lamentably deficient. ["Hear, hear!"] I have no doubt that, in the course of the discussion upon this Vote, I shall be taken to task by hon. Members, perhaps on both sides of the House, for the failure of the provisions of the Code to secure that every teacher is a properly-qualified teacher. I will not anticipate my answer to those objections further than to say that we could not get proper certificated and qualified teachers, and that we had to take those we could get. It is most desirable that some provision should be made early to secure a very much greater increase in the number of efficient teachers for our schools, especially if we are to make some progress in the efficiency of our elementary education. ["Hear, hear!"] I may be told that the account I have given to the Committee is a very sanguine one, but the Committee must recollect that I have been talking only of the averages, of the result of the summing up of the educational proceedings of all the schools in England and Wales. And when you look at it in the aggregate, it is a very satisfactory progress, and one for which we have reason to be thankful. ["Hear, hear!"] But this does not in the least contradict what I stated to the House in the early days of the Session, and it would be a very great mistake if the Committee were to run away with the idea that because 1241 things in the gross are very satisfactory there is therefore no room for any reform in large classes of schools in this country. ["Hear, hear!"] Notwithstanding this excellent total, there are many schools in the country, both Board and Voluntary Schools, in which it is impossible to say that the education is sufficient or satisfactory. ["Hear, hear!"] There are Voluntary School managers who have not got the means to provide that standard of teaching which it is desirable should be secured for the children of the people; there are managers of voluntary schools in many of our great cities who are quite unable, from lack of means, to bring up the standard of teaching in their schools to the same level which is attained in the Board Schools ill their immediate neighbourhood and which have the advantage of support out of the rates. ["Hear, hear!"] And there are many School Boards, some in country districts, where they care very little for education, and where the conduct of their small village schools is exceedingly unsatisfactory and leaves very much to be desired. There are also many School Boards in large and populous centres who have efficient schools and who do their utmost to keep their schools efficient, but who, owing to the small rateable value of their areas as compared with the enormous number of children they have to educate, have a strain put upon them which is almost intolerable, and under which there is every probability that, unless Parliament does something to relieve it, they will be entirely broken down. Therefore I hope the Committee will not go away with any idea that in what I have now said I intend to unsay what I said in the earlier part of the Session as to the urgent necessity which we are under if we intend our education to advance, and if we wish to give to the children an education anything like that which is being given by our rivals in Franco and Germany and the States and elsewhere. ["Hear, hear!"] If we mean to keep to the general level and not to fall behind the general level of education which is now given in the civilised world, I solemnly warn the Committee that there is a great deal to be done—[Opposition cheers]—and a great deal that administration alone cannot do. [Ministerial cheers.] The wisdom of Parliament must 1242 be applied to this problem, and I wish I could think it would be applied not in a Party spirit—[cheers]—but with a sincere desire, in all quarters of the House, to promote education. [Cheers.] If we are going to spend the next year or two in Party fights over the education question instead of addressing ourselves to do our utmost to find out what are the weaknesses of our system, then I think the progress I have noted in the past year will be illusory, and will not lead up to that educational position which, I am quite sure, the people of this country desire to attain. [Cheers.]
§ *MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon the tone of his remarks, and echoed his aspiration that this question of education would be treated in future not as a Party matter but as a national question. He quite agreed that there were many schools in the country, both Voluntary and Board Schools, which sadly required the provision of further funds. But he wanted to say a few words more especially upon the position of rural schools. He did not care very much whether they were rural Board or rural Voluntary Schools—they were much of the same class—and he would point out that the rural schools of England and Wales were, taken as a whole, the worst supported, the worst staffed, and the worst managed of the public elementary schools in Europe. They lacked means, they lacked teachers, and they lacked proper government and proper supervision. It was quite a common thing—and this was probably true of 6,000 or 7,000 schools in the villages of this country—to find in a school one adult teacher only, with the charge of six and sometimes seven different classes, and teaching in something like 16 or 17 different subjects. That was a system which was bad educationally, bad nationally, and bad economically. The great need of the country schools was more staff, but he warned the Committee, and he would warn the right hon. Gentleman if he thought he needed the warning, that they could not expect these schools to have more staff and better support upon a maximum income, in the case of Voluntary Schools, of 33s. per scholar per year, and, in the case of Board Schools, of 49s. If the Education Department were to realise the wishes of the right 1243 hon. Gentleman, if the Committee were to assent to continued and real progress in their expenditure affairs, the Committee would have to face a very much larger outlay upon education than had been the case hitherto. The demand for further expenditure upon education was not a popular idea to put forward, but he would point out that this year they were spending upon the Army and Navy at the rate of 30s. per head of the population, while upon education they were only spending at the rate of 7s. per head. Thirty shillings on ships and soldiers; seven shillings on schools and scholars! He submitted that 7s. per head of the population upon public education was not an extravagant outlay. In other countries they did not consider that outlay at all sufficient. The average expenditure upon maintenance of Board Schools in England and Wales last year was 48s. 9d. per child, in the case of Voluntary Schools it was 36s. 1d. per child. In Scotland they spent more than that, while in Germany, France, Belgium and Switzerland their rates of expenditure were also higher. In the United States, too, they found that, after allowing for all differences between the cost of maintenance by the two countries, the sums expended on education were far in excess of what they spent here. Whereas the expenditure in London per child for public education might go up as far as 50s., in New York it went up as high as £5 per child, and in Boston it went up even higher. He did not suggest that they should at one leap go as far as that, but he did suggest that it was the duty of that House and of the Education Department not to stint the expenditure year by year. The expenditure of public money on public elementary and secondary education, but especially elementary education, was a good national investment. The effect of the working of the Education Acts in the last 25 years had been to decrease pauperism, and to deplete the gaols, and to raze prisons to the ground, and to reduce the amount of drunkenness. A Board School scholar cost the country 48s. a year; a pauper cost £15 a year; an ordinary prisoner cost £25 a year; and a convict cost £40 a year. So money spent on education was well spent. He wished to thank the Vice 1244 President of the Council for giving effect to several promises made last year. He referred especially to the questions of teachers not trained in the Colleges, and the system of grants for drawing. But he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had acceded to the suggestion to suspend Article 73 of the Code until March 31st next. That Article provided that after August 31st in the present year the size of the classes in the elementary schools should be reduced in number. Even in the largest and best Board Schools it was no uncommon thing to find classes of 80, 90, and 100 children, and no teacher could efficiently teach so large a class. It was possible to have larger classes than the Code permitted, because the classes were not examined in detail, but the number of the children in the school was divided by the number of teachers. The right hon. Member for Rotherham had given two years' notice of the requirement in respect of smaller classes, and it was greatly to be regretted that the operation of the requirement had been postponed. When the class was too large, the scholars lacked individual attention, and consequently their school life was to some extent wasted. In the Grammar Schools the average number in in a class was from 15 to 20, and in a Girls' High School the average was from 15 to 30. There was, besides, no need for the suspension of the requirement. The Bishop of London had declared that 90 out of 100 Voluntary Schools in the country could meet the increased requirement without deficiency. As to the failure of the supply of fully-qualified teachers, every year there were three or four times as many applications for admission to the Training Colleges as there were vacancies. The fault was that there were not enough properly established Training Colleges. The supply of teachers depended too much on local enterprise and denominational initiative. If there was a failure in the supply of pupil teachers, it was because the Educational Department did not make the career of a teacher sufficiently attractive. Something should be done to remedy Article 68 of the Code, which enabled a young woman without qualification, but with the inspector's approval, to teach in the school. These girls belonged to two 1245 categories—those who had failed to pass the pupil teachers' examination and those who had not even had that amount of training. Up to the present their employment was restricted to girls' and infants' schools, but now they were to be allowed to teach even in boys' schools. Out of 92,570 adult teachers in schools, 66,310 were women; and out of 34,000 pupil teachers, 26,000 were girls. It looked as if the men were to be thrust out of the profession altogether; and no doubt in many circumstances petticoat government was not a bad thing for children. But there came a time in a boy's school life when he wanted something more, and therefore he hoped the Department would not assist further the tendency to replace male teachers by women. The Department was so anxious to get graduates of Oxford and Cambridge into the elementary schools, that now they were permitted to accept the headmastership without any previous training. Against this policy of introducing untrained and unqualified men into the most responsible positions he must protest. However high a man's academic attainments, he might be a complete failure when put in charge of large classes, and when required to teach them. He wished to say a few words as to the whole attitude of the Department towards its teachers. The treatment of the teachers by the Department, not in detail, but in principle, was wholly wrong; it was short-sighted, out of harmony with the usual practice of Government Departments, and rather cruel. Down to 1862 the Department took direct responsibility with regard to teachers, it recognised and treated them almost as Civil Servants. Since 1862 the Department had disclaimed all responsibility; it had said that it was no party to the engagement of a teacher, it refused to be a court of appeal or even a moderator in regard to dismissals, it shuffled off all responsibility. It tested the teacher and certificated him, it dismissed him from a post for which he was not qualified, it took a great deal of care that he performed the functions assigned to him, but it declined, though it had often been asked to do it, to see that the salary paid to him was sufficient. It shuffled off the responsibility for that on to a Board or Committee, which was in 1246 the position of a contractor with the State. In other cases the Government took care that Government contractors did their work well, paid their employés properly and treated them in a proper way; it secured fair play to the workers, and it repudiated this responsibility only in the case of teachers in their relations with school managers and School Boards. It insisted on certain conditions as to fair wages, proper hours, and suitable management in shipbuilding yards, in Army clothing factories, in printing works, and among the carpenters employed at South Kensington. The Local Government Board took interest in the officials and employés of the Boards of Guardians. If a Board of Guardians appointed a medical officer at an insufficient salary, the Local Government Board said "You must pay him more." The Education Department never did that kind of thing; why should it not do so? If it did the present lamentable state of things as to teachers would not exist. There were 50,836 certificated teachers. There were 435 who had salaries of under £40 a year or less than 16s. a week, 1,342 at under £45 a year or less than 18s. a week, 2,666 at under £50 a year or less than 20s. a week, 18,395 at salaries under £75 a year or less than 29s. a week, and only 2,397 who got salaries of £200 a year or over. This state of things could not exist if the Government dealt with managers as with other contractors, and saw that they fulfilled their contracts, and he had a right to ask that the attitude of the Education Department towards school managers and teachers should be radically changed. These contractors often exacted from teachers tasks which did not properly belong to them, the performance of extraneous duties in connection with church and parochial work, and it was the duty of the Department to secure teachers against these exactions and impositions. Then managers could dismiss teachers without just cause, and for the teachers there was no remedy. If a question was asked in that House about a wrongful dismissal, the Vice President would reply "We have no power to interfere." Well, it was high time they had power to interfere. The teachers were as much entitled to protection as carpenters at South Kensington or tailors at the Army 1247 clothing works. Why should the Education Department decline to take steps to safeguard the interests of teachers when the House had determined that it would secure the payment of fair wages under Government contracts? They could do it by simply inserting in the Code conditions as to the payment of grants. They could lay down that grants should be withheld where salaries were not suitable and sufficient, where extraneous tasks were compulsory, and where unreasonable and capricious dismissals had taken place. This view might seem to be new at present; but as time went on it would cease to be new. The Education Department would have to yield on these points, as other Departments had yielded on the labour question. In other Departments, public servants who were in direct relation with the Government, received superannuation allowances or pensions; but in the case of the teachers there was only the most meagre provision for a limited number. Eleven months had passed since the last debate, when a favourable statement was made, but nothing had been done to realise it. Still the bulk of aged and infirm teachers had nothing to look forward to but charity or the workhouse. That meant a waste of educational resources. The teacher past work still "lags superfluous on the stage," and that involved a waste of money and of the time of scholars. The State did not get what it supposed it was paying for, and thus the question became an economical one as well as a sentimental one. But even the sentiment ought to have some weight, for here you had men and women who had worked all their lives for a mere pittance; they had done valuable work, contributing to diminish pauperism and drunkenness, and to empty prisons, and their reward was that some of them got pensions of £25 a year, and the bulk of them had not even that prospect. The teachers had intimated their willingness to accept the minimum scale of allowances proposed by the Department, less than was proposed by the Select Committee, less than was given in the Civil Service, less than the Police scale, and less than the County Council scale; but this minimum, so accepted, was still withheld. Why, he did not know. The sum required was from £30,000 to £35,000 the first year, and in the first five years it 1248 would not rise much over £100,000. He did hope the right hon. Gentleman would be able to indicate that something would speedily be done. He believed that money ought to be given to Voluntary Schools, but when it was given it ought to be on condition that the full benefit of the extra grant should go to the underpaid teachers.
§ *MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said he wished to join in the chorus of approval that, in spite of the difficult position in which many schools found themselves now, there had been a general improvement in the attendance and educational results at day and evening schools. While encouraging the efforts to improve the evening schools made by the late Vice President, it must not be forgotten that great credit was also due to his predecessor (Sir W. Hart Dyke). He wished to amplify what had been said with respect to the training of young teachers. There was a prospect, not far distant, of the supply of properly qualified teachers falling short of the demand. Apart from the question of salaries and status, there was no doubt that the means for training young teachers were inadequate, insufficient and unsatisfactory. The centre system, under which for four years the student teacher received a somewhat better training than he used to receive, had of late years had considerable development, and had produced a much better result than the older system; but great difficulties stood in the way of its continued development. That was a detail of school administration which was not of great interest to the Committee generally, but the training of young teachers was undoubtedly a blot on our educational system. At present a child was taken from a class and set direct to teach children almost of the same age as himself. The child was a scholar one day and a junior teacher the next. There was no break during which the mind of the child might develop and wherein the skill necessary for the school work might be obtained. It was said that unqualified persons were being employed because they could not get properly qualified teachers, but he remembered a phrase used by the Vice President when the right hon. Gentleman said that his poverty and not his will consented to the present conditions; 1249 and there could be no doubt that managers of schools were employing unqualified persons in the work of schools, not by reason of their willingness, but on account of their need. He did not think that they ought to place children under the care of persons who had received no training for the work, and he impressed on the Department the necessity of amplifying its regulations and extending its course of inquiry as to the training of teachers. When a young teacher was taken out of the school he ought to be sent away for a couple of years to a good secondary school, where he could receive a superior training, and working for a few weeks in the schools, in order to see whether he liked the work and was adapted naturally for the teaching profession? This period of his apprenticeship should be followed by three years devoted to work as a half time student and a half time teacher in the schools. Again, as part of the Normal College course he urged that increased facilities should be afforded for the teacher to spend his last year of training either in France or Germany with the object of acquiring a knowledge of continental languages, impossible to secure in the schools of our own country. Everyone interested in the progress of our home industries and commerce, as well as the employment of our population, cannot but regret that a large part of our commercial correspondence is carried on in this country by foreigners who had been taught foreign languages, including English, in continental schools by teachers partly trained in England. He regretted to see in the last five years the number of unqualified persons employed in our schools had doubled. The number of persons now employed under Article 68 was 11,000, whereas a few years ago there were only 5,000. This state of things was not creditable either to the Department or to the management of our schools. It had been necessary to suspend the operation of Article 73. He agreed with the last speaker that one teacher could not adequately teach a class of 70 or 80 children. But if it was difficult for a teacher to do this how much more difficult was it for one teacher to teach half a dozen classes at the same time, the total of the half-dozen being 50 or 60 children? If there was one question more than 1250 another which ought to be of interest to the supporters of the Government, it was the staffing of rural Voluntary Schools. Many of them were inadequately staffed. He did not blame the managers; they had not the funds and they turned anxious eyes to the House of Commons to provide the necessary funds. He was sorry that the Vice President had not been able to do more in the way of establishing one fixed grant as the payment per child in the whole of our elementary schools. He regretted that 2s. was given for one subject, 3s. for another, 1s. 6d. for something else, the natural consequence being that teachers were induced to take up a larger number of subjects in order to earn the highest grant. The teachers could not be blamed for doing this, they were compelled to bring the greatest income to the school. Efficient education did not depend on the number of subjects taught, but on the methods in which a few subjects might be well taught. So long, however, as a few shillings were distributed for subjects here and there, so long would they have the minds of the children crammed with information which so soon as the examination took place would be forgotten and become useless. Therefore the Education Department should be able to establish one fixed grant per child varying slightly according to the size of the school and the requirements of the locality, and not varying according to the number of subjects taken. He hoped also that at an early date it would be possible to abolish the present dual system of examination. In connection with the operation of Article 71, there was a peculiar regulation to the effect that no member of a School Board or officer might be recognised as a teacher on the staff' of any elementary school. It would be unwise, no doubt, that a man should be both master and servant in the same district, but he thought that the regulation should be altered so that persons who were teachers in districts other than those over which jurisdiction was claimed should be allowed to serve. He would suggest that a very welcome reform would be carried out if the Vice President would add to Article 72 the words "That these teachers may be members of Boards in other districts than those in which they are serving as teachers." The Vote before the Committee 1251 also included that much repeated question of the pensions to teachers. In the various discussions of the subject one feature was frequently lost sight of. This was not a system of pensions for which teachers pleaded; it was a system of superannuation, and was asked for not in the interests of the teachers alone, but also in the interests of the schools. He referred to a letter which came into his hands yesterday with regard to the operation of Article 130 of the Code which dealt with the superannuation of teachers. It gave details of a case which arose at Stoke-on-Trent, within the last few weeks. The applicant for a pension had been a schoolmaster in elementary schools for forty-seven years, having had sole charge of a school with over 90 boys in 1849. He had worked without intermission ever since. About nine months ago he broke down through serious illness, caused by the bad drainage of the school and school-house, and after six months illness he became an applicant for a pension. In spite of the pledged word of the House of Commons and the Education Department, when he entered the profession, that he should have a sum not exceeding two-thirds of his annual salary, the amount granted under Article 130 was the miserable total of £25 per annum for the remainder of his life. He (the hon. Member) ventured to say that was not creditable to a great country or a rich Department.
§ *Mr. GRAY
said the annual salary was not given. He fully admitted that the two-thirds promised in the old minute was two-thirds of the average salary which existed in those days, and that the minute gave no right to claim two-thirds of the present salary. He referred to the evidence given by the Permanent Secretary to the Department before the Select Committee on the subject, in which he declared that there was no record of any instances whore two-thirds of the salary had been paid by the Department. Year after year the promise of the Department had been broken to those teachers who entered before 1862. There was one other point which he desired to bring before the Vice President. The right hon. Gentleman might, with very great advantage, both to 1252 managers and teachers, make it one of the conditions of the payment of any grants to elementary schools that the engagement of the teacher should be by written contract with the managers of the schools. A very great deal of friction and unnecessary discomfort prevailed during every school year, from the fact that there was no written record of the engagement of a teacher. Disputes were frequently carried to the Department, and the Vice President had to express regret at his inability to intervene. He would suggest that the proposal he had made would benefit both teachers and schools. He concluded by congratulating the Vice President on the satisfactory statement he had been able to make.
§ *MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
congratulated the Vice President of the Council on the encouraging Report presented to the House, marking progress all along the line. Marvellous strides had been made in elementary education in this country in the past few years, and this was one reason why we should be slow to upset the system. The style of instruction and the methods of inspection were far more rational than they were in the past. The education was not mere verbalism as it once was, but was full of mental interest and fitted to make good citizens. But there were great defects to which he had often called attention in that House. The children left school far too early, they were put to work too soon, and we remained much behind other nations in this respect. He would like the Vice President to prepare a table showing the average age at which children left school. He doubted if it was over twelve years, or twelve years and a half at the outside. No doubt a considerable number did remain till after thirteen. He saw that in last year's report 181,000 were between thirteen and fourteen, and 47,000 above fourteen; but this was balanced by large numbers who left between eleven and twelve after passing the fourth standard, which was still the exemption standard in most country schools, so that the average was probably twelve, or a little over twelve. Now, it was perfectly clear that education ceasing then was almost wasted. In a few years children had forgotten nearly all they had learned. They often retained little more than the power of reading the penny dreadfuls sold so abundantly in our large 1253 towns. The education of the school just ceased when the capacities of the mind were opening up, and when the character began to be formed. The splendid training of the school was succeeded by the demoralising training of the street, and in two or three years after leaving school the deterioration was terrible. All who were acquainted with Liverpool knew what a sight it presented. Its streets were crowded with miserable, ragged children. In most of our other great towns we had hordes of street arabs, poor ragged neglected children, the seed of a permanent pauper and criminal class. These were swept off the streets in Germany and Switzerland into night schools, with the result that hardly any rags and juvenile wretchedness were seen. In these countries the day school age was usually fourteen or fifteen, and was followed by continuation evening schools to sixteen or seventeen, and the effect was most beneficial in producing a highly intelligent industrial population. It was the real cause of that German competition which confronted us everywhere. So long as the present enormous gap remained in the elementary education of the country there was no use in talking about themselves as an educated people, or shutting their eyes to the fact that there was a lamentable failure, and that the House would sooner or later have to grapple with this question. No one knew that better than the Vice President of the Council who had, in the East End, studied the problems of their social difficulties. Every one who had been brought face to face with these difficulties knew that the kernel of the whole question was the children. It was there that the origin of their social difficulties began. If the children were allowed to run riot after the age of 12 years, they were bound to have a social problem of great social difficulty to confront them. The only way he could see of solving the question was to develop and render more efficacious their system of evening continuation schools. How did they stand in regard to evening continuation schools? He was glad to say that great progress had been made during the past year, chiefly owing to the vast improvements in the code introduced by the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr Ackland). He removed all the absurd restrictions which had virtually closed our evening 1254 schools to the mass of young people, and gave full liberty to teaching whatever subjects were demanded, whether elementary or advanced, whether literary or industrial. The result was that in one year the attendance leaped up from 115,000 to 266,000. This was a noble result, and of those pupils he was glad to see that no less than 37,000 were over 21 years of age. But herein lay the crux of the situation. The best children of the best parents were availing themselves of these schools, but the children of the miserable and semi-pauper class would not avail themselves of them. Their parents kept them on the streets to earn coppers, they had no taste for knowledge themselves, and nothing but some measure of compulsion would make them abridge their liberty. There were vast numbers of children who left school finally by 11 or 12, and dropped their education for ever after. Although we wanted to keep hold of them and save them from relapsing into savagery, he saw no way of doing so except by making attendance obligatory at evening schools. He should strongly recommend an age limit for school attendance, as was done in all advanced countries except our own. He thought the minimum age at which children should leave the day school was 13, and there should be an obligation to attend evening schools for two or three evenings a week for at least the six winter months up to fifteen. This would work quite a revolution in the habits of our children. It had been done in far poorer countries than ours, and though there would be some opposition at the time, parents would soon see that it was for their ultimate advantage. The strict education laws of Germany and Switzerland were cheerfully acquiesced in by the whole population. It would be the same here as soon as the great benefit was felt. Perhaps the best plan would be to fix the day school age at fourteen, with permission to leave at thirteen on condition of attending two years at the continuation school. He was aware that this would be difficult to carry out. In rural districts large relaxations must be made for the summer months, when children's labour was in demand; but for the six winter months there was little scope for children's labour, and it would be a great blessing to keep the boys at least at 1255 school, instead of idling about the lanes and getting into mischief. This was the one missing link in our educational system which still needed to be supplied. If this were completed we should be equal to any country in the world. We had now an excellent technical system springing up, but the difficulty was that large numbers of children had forgotten their elementary education and were not fit to enter our technical schools. If we could tide children over this gap in their education, a far larger number could enter our technical schools. He could not sit down without mentioning what was a great grievance in Wales. In many places the schools all belonged to the Church of England, whereas the bulk of the children were Nonconformists. He heard great complaints as to the offensive way in which Protestant Dissenters were treated in these schools. Some of them were under the domination of the extreme Ritualistic party, who described Protestant Nonconformists as heretics and schismatics and not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. In many cases the parents had no choice but to send their children to these sacerdotal schools. This was a crying injustice, and he asserted that full justice could not be done to Wales till there was in every parish a Board School under public control.
§ SIR ARTHUR FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
, said he would like to correct an impression which the speech of the hon. Member might have created as regards the state of the poorer classes in Liverpool. The hon. Member would have the Committee believe that the efforts of the educationists in Liverpool had had very little effect, and that the streets swarmed with ragged, miserable children not attending school. He could, as one who saw a great deal of the place, assure the Committee that there had been a marked improvement in the condition, character, and behaviour of the children in the last few years. It was quite true that a number of ragged children were still to be found on the streets who ought to be at school, but the number was yearly decreasing, and there was a distinct improvement in their morale and character. The point he especially wished to impress upon the Vice-President was the superannuation or pensioning of teachers. He regretted 1256 that the Education Department or the Treasury had not taken effective steps to carry out the recommendations of the Committee on this subject, and he pressed for its speedy treatment in the interests alike of the teachers and of the children. The Council on Education in 1847 issued a Minute, in which they said they desired to offer the strongest inducement to schoolmasters and schoolmistresses to render long and efficient services to the public, and had opened the prospect of a retiring pension to them. In the same Minute it was indicated that they should receive superannuation not exceeding two-thirds of the emoluments or salary of the teacher. From the Code of this year it appeared that the effect given to that Minute was the granting of 611 pensions of the average amount of only £23 each—the maximum being £30. The average salary of a master of a denominational school last year, according to the Return, was £137. Now if there were meted out to these officers the same allowance as was made to others in the Civil Service they would receive 40–60ths of their salary on retirement. An unskilled labourer who had been in the employment of the Crown for a period of 40 years would receive on retirement, a much larger pension than had been accorded on an average to those who had been intrusted with the education of large numbers of our school children, and he hoped he had only to mention this fact to induce the Vice President of the Council to put pressure on the Treasury to take the matter into consideration and deal more liberally with these old and faithful servants of the Department. It was a matter of serious moment to the training of the children. Many of the teachers of whom he had spoken had been teachers 50 years, and their training for the profession of teaching before 1850 did not enable them to cope with the requirements of teachers of the present day, and a considerable number of children obtained their education from these worthy good men, who, no doubt, were fully able to meet the requirements of 40 or 50 years ago. But their time had passed, and it was not fair to the children that their education should be intrusted to them. It was not to be expected that school managers were going to turn teachers adrift, or that the teachers themselves would retire on a pension or superannuation which would 1257 average only £23 a year. He hoped that the Vice President of the Council, in the best interests of the children whose education was committed to these teachers, would do an act of justice and grant the pension held out to them in years gone by, and urge their claims on the Treasury. He also hoped that the pensions would not be limited under the Code. A promise was made to them without any limit of numbers, and he therefore hoped that, not only would their prospects of a pension be improved, but that it would be understood that each one, irrespective of any limit of numbers, would receive a pension. ["Hear, hear."]
§ MR. DILLON
was convinced that this great question would never be settled in the true sense of the word until something in the nature of a compromise was come to amongst the different sections of the House which would convey to the population of the country a sense that justice had been done. Catholics had grievances in this matter as well as the Nonconformists of Wales. Our elementary educational system could never be placed on a satisfactory basis until the conscientious convictions of all sections of the community were recognised. The demand of those who desired religious teaching in the schools was that they should obtain from public sources a grant for the secular instruction given equal to that received by schools under the control of School Boards. ["Hear, hear!"] That was a just demand, and the more it was debated the more it would be realised that there could be no national peace in this country until it was fairly met. On behalf of the Catholics of this country he denied the assertion in the annual report of the Council on Education that the Voluntary Schools were compelled to eke out their existence by voluntary contributions. What they demanded from the public resources of the country—whether from the ratepayers' money or the Imperial Exchequer they did not care much—was the full cost of the secular instruction given in the denominational schools if that instruction was equally as good as the secular instruction given in the Board Schools. To refuse that demand meant that taxpayers, who, owing to their religious convictions, felt constrained to send their children to Voluntary Schools 1258 —for the building and maintenance of which they paid out of their own pockets—were to be fined and penalised for the position they took up. As long as religious schools were conducted in accordance with the regulations of the Code, gave secular instruction equal to that of the Board Schools, and submitted to the control of the taxpayers to see that they were properly conducted, they were entitled to demand equal treatment with any other elementary schools. It was said that this was entirely inconsistent with the principles of elementary education in this country. But this was a most inconsistent and illogical argument. The Industrial Schools' grant and the Poor Law Schools grant were given to schools of all religious denominations; and he was informed that Board of Guardians paid out of the rates—not out of the public Exchequer—a grant of 6s. per head to the Catholic Poor Law Schools which were absolutely under the management in many cases of Catholic ecclesiastics. And why did the Local Government Board agree to that system? Because they found it worked well, and because if they denied it great discontent would exist. That formed a precedent which ought to be remembered when the question of elementary schools was considered. It was recognised that the Voluntary Schools could not be got rid of, and that an enormous amount of opposition would be raised against any attempt to drive them or starve them out of existence. ["Hear, hear!"] If then, the Voluntary Schools formed a part of the educational system of the country, why should a system of discrimination be used against them which was calculted to lower their standard of education. He hoped the Government would not yield to any pressure to allow the Code to press unduly on the Voluntary Schools.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said the discussions on this Vote generally turned on the numbers of the children, the character of the buildings, and other cognate subjects, but very seldom on the nature of the education given, except, perhaps, with reference to religious instruction. Into the latter question he did not propose to enter, but he was anxious to call the attention of the Committee to some 1259 points in connection with the rules relating to the character of the education given in our elementary schools. The subjects taught in those schools fell into three categories the obligatory subjects, the special subjects, and the so-called class subjects. The obligatory subjects were, in the case of boys, reading, writing, and arithmetic, but he did not propose to say anything as to either the obligatory or the special subjects. The class subjects were English, geography, elementary science, and history. Elementary science was simply some knowledge of the world in which we lived, some knowledge of the facts of nature by which we were surrounded. He submitted to the Committee that all these four subjects were essential. Which, he asked, could be wisely omitted? Geography was certainly most important, so was history and English, and last, not least, elementary science. He should, however, not propose to make these four subjects obligatory, but surely schools should be encouraged to take them up. So far from this, however, being the case, schools were actually precluded from doing so. The Code expressly provided thatNo more than two class subjects may be taken by any class, and the same number must be taken throughout the school.He confessed he saw no reason why the same number of subjects should be taken throughout the school, but that was a point on which he would not dwell. The point to which he was anxious to call attention was the provision that no school should be allowed to present children in more than two subjects. If, therefore, a school took geography and elementary science, they must omit history and English; if they took history and English, elementary science and geography must be omitted. He was not sure whether anyone would maintain that more than two subjects could not be taken with advantage; but if the Vice President of the Council or anyone else was disposed to take that line he would refer to the Scotch Code. The Scotch Code contained no such limitation. Scotch children, more fortunate than English children, were permitted to take all four subjects, and they took advantage of it. Out of 3,000 departments in Scotland, no fewer than 2,200 1260 took three or more class subjects. Did that result in the work being badly done? Not at all. The Scotch Report said that "a large proportion received grants at the higher or 2s. rate," showing that in the opinion of the Department the work was thoroughly well done in the Scotch schools. He failed to see any reason why this privilege which was accorded to Scotland should be denied to England. Scotchmen were justly proud of their educational system. He appealed to them to assist him in claiming that English schools should not be denied the advantages which the Scotch enjoyed, and of which they made such good use. He asked his right hon. Friend to consider this suggestion in the interests of the children, in the interests of education. But there was another reason, and he would ask the attention of hon. Members interested in Voluntary Schools to the financial effect of the Code in this respect. The managers of Voluntary Schools complained that they were cramped and starved for want of funds. If the Government could be induced to alter the English Code so as to put our schools on the same platform as the Scotch, the Voluntary Schools might receive 4s. a head more than they did now. At present the Scotch schools earned £1 1s. 4d. per scholar and the English only 18s. 9¾d.—a difference of no less than 2s. 6d. a head. Now, if this were due to the excellence of Scotch schools—to the children being better taught, however much we might regret it—we should not have any cause to complain. But this was not so. The difference arose—if not entirely, mainly, at any rate—from the difference in the conditions of the two Codes. Scotch schools were allowed to send in their children for four class subjects, and to earn 8s. English schools were limited to two class subjects and could not earn more than 4s. As a matter of fact Scotch schools did earn 5s. 6d. from the class subjects, while the English schools are only able to earn 3s. 5d., so that out of a difference of 2s. 6d. which the Scotch earned more than the English, no less than 2s. 1d. was due to this difference in the Code. If our schools were put on the same footing as the Scotch they would probably earn at least 2s. a head more. That would be a boon to the schools financially and educationally. 1261 He urged the point on the consideration of the Vice President and on the Committee as a simple act of justice to English schools. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. JOHN BRIGG (York., W.R., Keighley)
said that in the conduct of the continuation schools pupil teachers were called upon to perform work which they were not qualified to do. A grant was made for the purpose of enabling pupil teachers to obtain instruction in the subjects which they had to teach in the continuation schools, but often the money was spent in other ways, and the pupil teachers were compelled to look for their instruction solely to the masters under whom they served. In some cases energetic effort had organised classes for the instruction of the pupil teachers, and efficient schools had been formed capable of supplying teachers fully qualified for the continuation school work. It was most important that the Department should take this matter into consideration.
§ *SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for London University in the question which he had raised. He could never see the reason for limiting the class subjects in which the grant could be earned to two. As to what the hon. Member for Flintshire had said with regard to the treatment of Nonconformist children, he believed the picture drawn was altogether too dark. All the stories that were told were not true: and if they were, none would condemn the narrowness of spirit with more emphasis than members of the Church of England. He would remind the hon. Member that the conscience clause was in force. As to the alleged imperfect training of the untrained teachers, he would remind the Committee of what Mr. King, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors said:—In teaching, as in everything else, a little common sense and experience will effect a great deal of good, and many of these young persons show a readiness, vigilance and patience, which enable them to teach what they know more effectively than if they had spent the same time in studying the science of pedagogy under the best of professors.It was not judicious to shut our eyes to any black features of the case. He admitted the benefits conferred by education, 1262 but remembered melancholy reports from the Home Office both last and this year, which stated that juvenile crime was increasing. It was further discouraging to learn that a similar condition of affairs existed throughout Western Europe. The friends of education ought to lay such facts well to heart and to consider whether they indicated that any change was called for. It was probable that much might be done by continuation schools to check the increase of juvenile crime. He regretted that this Debate took place before the publication of the Annual Report; and if this were the ordinary practice he hoped it would cease to be such. When they were called upon to pass the annual Education Vote they ought to have the latest information before them. They had received one report, that relating to the training colleges: it was of an instructive character and it indicated that the training colleges were rapidly improving. Dr. Fitch, who had done so much good work, was anxious that there should be a recreation room in every college for women. At White lands and at Tottenham there were admirable recreation rooms and (me was taken in hand at Ripon. While recognising the improvement made, Dr. Fitch said the colleges must work up to a higher standard; as in schools so in colleges; what was deemed commendable once would not receive sanction now. The experiment of having training colleges in connection with university colleges was a great experiment; and experiments had their dangers. The inspector, Mr. Coward, said:I refer to the tendency to underrate the strictly professional course as below the university course in value and dignity. It cannot be too carefully impressed upon these students that the very purpose for which the State affords them these higher means of study is that the elementary schools shall be brought under the influence of persons of superior culture, and not to produce teachers who deem those schools as below their dignity.He hoped that those who were responsible for the syllabus would take care that these training colleges were not diverted from their legitimate purpose. ["Hear, hear!"] They had also received Reports from the Inspectors for the west-central division and the north-western division. These might be taken as two fairly typical divisions. Mr. King spoke 1263 of Swindon as an educational paradise. Of Smethwick he stated, on the authority of the Clerk to the Board of Guardians, that 25 per cent. of the population consisted of children on the books of the schools. A marked contrast in character was presented by the north-western district, including Lancashire. Wigan, the town which he represented, had been amply provided by private efforts with school-accommodation for many years to come. It was with a sense of humiliation he read that throughout a considerable portion of the division the fourth standard was the standard of exemption from compulsory attendance. Justice was not done to the intellectual powers of the children; and where the temptations to earn wages were so great, parents were naturally reluctant to extend school age beyond the requirements of the law. The Inspector said:—The improvement in schools generally makes the early age at which the majority of children leave school only the more deplorable, and this quite as much upon moral as upon intellectual grounds. They leave just at the point where what they have learnt is most easily lost, and in order to do them real good ought to be carried on and made a part of them.A wholesome doctrine could hardly be expressed in more emphatic language. With reference to teachers' pensions, he served on a Committee which conducted an extensive Inquiry for two years; and the moral of that Inquiry did not yet appear to be sufficiently impressed upon the administration of either Government, for the action of both had been too slow. He congratulated this late Vice President on the success of his efforts for the blind and the deaf and dumb and the satisfactory working of the new Act. He did not believe that this country was so far behind others as was sometimes assumed. The statistics of the United States often included as scholars young persons up to the age of 21; and in many States the schools were open for a comparatively small number of days in the year. In conclusion, he would express an earnest hope that there would be no disappointment in the Education Bill of 1897. The whole question was pressing for solution; the position of Voluntary Schools was daily causing great and increasing anxiety; and as a supporter of the Government he affirmed that they were 1264 under a most binding obligation to render efficient aid to the Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York., W. R., Rotherham)
said he so much agreed with the Vice President that they had perhaps had enough of education for this session, that he would follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman in the brevity of his remarks. They were all glad to hear that we were steadily going forward in both day and evening schools, and that the increase in regular attendants exceeded the increase in population—an advance for which there was ample room and for which he was sure the House would never grudge the necessary payment. Seeing how many girls were anxious to avail themselves of instruction in cookery we might hope to see the numbers receiving it increase. So few country schools availed themselves of the grants for dairy teaching and kitchen gardening that he was afraid little was being done in these subjects. The Vice-President had been anxious to improve the teaching in our country schools; and in these schools much good could be done by giving a simple kind of agricultural education. The plea of the right hon. Member for London University for the teaching of elementary science had the same object in view. In country schools scholars ought to learn more than they did about botany and ought to receive more instruction through simple object teaching. This was a matter which was discussed more than once when he was Vice-President, and in a humble degree he tried to encourage such teaching, by making it obligatory that simple object-lessons should be given in the lower standards; and such object-lessons would make it more easy to take up elementary science. He cordially shared the wish that they might encourage much more than hitherto the taking up of simple elementary science—advanced object-lesson teaching, the development of the intelligence of children by giving them some further education both of eye and hands. At the present time they stood, in the matter of class subjects—English, 16,000 departments; geography, 15,000 departments; elementary science, 1,700; and history, 3,600. That was a condition of things very much to be regretted. He 1265 thought that English and grammar might after a time be almost given up as class subjects, and they might consider them as being satisfactorily taught with reading. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, might see his way to merge English and grammar with the reading, and thus give a chance to elementary science as a regular part of class teaching in schools. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the new form of inspection by which one set visit a year was no longer a sine quâ non; and he should be glad to know from the Vice-President whether he thought this method of inspection—which he did a great deal to introduce—was, on the whole, a success. He had heard that in many cases it had given great pleasure to the teachers, and if it involved a little more expense he did not think the House would grudge the small additional cost. He agreed with what had been said that they needed further and larger opportunities of adequate training for our pupil-teachers. It was impossible to expect the best teaching from teachers who had never been inside a training college. It would undoubtedly be an excellent thing if they could get a third year for some of the teachers in France or Germany. The Government of France were now Bending over some of their young teachers to England, and if this country could follow the same example he was sure that the greatest value would result from the policy. The question of the engagement of the teacher excited a great deal of interest. He had paid some attention to the matter, and, without causing any annoyance to managers of Voluntary or Board Schools, he thought something might be done in making arrangements so that the engagement of the teacher should at least be put down on paper and thoroughly understood. What were called extraneous duties were in some cases objected to; in other cases the duties were taken up willingly; but it would clearly be more satisfactory if the actual conditions under which the teacher entered upon his engagement as a teacher were defined; and if this were done he did not believe that managers would have any reason to complain. He joined with those who had expressed regret that no pension scheme had been put forward for the teachers this year. When he was 1266 in office they did their best to press the scheme forward. The House unanimously accepted a Resolution brought forward by Sir Richard Temple dealing with pensions to elementary teachers and this Resolution and the manner in which it was accepted did to some extent bind the present House of Commons to deal with the question as soon as it could. Nearly everything was ready for the scheme if the Treasury was willing. In the case of the late Government they had not so much money to spend as the present Government had; but yet an indication was shown that the Treasury was willing to aid the Government, and he hoped that legislation on the question would be forthcoming next year. He impressed on the Vice President the desirableness of looking after the effective education of the deaf and dumb children in scattered country districts, because without it they could not be made useful members of society. The eyesight of our children was another subject deserving attention. Some inquiry, he believed, had been instituted under the late Government, and he should be glad to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether attention had been called to the question of the children's eyesight. Something had been said about prolonging the school life of children in this country, whether in the day or the evening school. He should like to see the time ripe for making arrangements by which after children left the day school it should be necessary for them to attend an evening school for a certain part of the year for two or three years, so that they should be enabled to retain the knowledge they had acquired at the day school. This was a regular practice in some foreign countries, and it was not looked upon as a grievance. If the age of day scholars could be raised to 12 he believed that the proposal would receive the heartiest support of the Opposition. Everyone would welcome this proposal becoming law next Session, because in this respect we were behind other countries. He concluded by congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the general progress which had taken place under this rule, and he hoped they would continue to hear encouraging accounts of educational progress. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said he proposed to confine himself strictly to that part of the country with which he was particularly acquainted—namely, the agricultural districts. In these districts our educational system was not so highly appreciated in some quarters as it ought to be, and he thought that want of appreciation very often was the result of some serious defects in the carrying out of the Code. There was a growing feeling among certain classes of the agricultural population, that however excellent the instruction given in elementary schools, it was not always suitable to the pupils educated in those schools, that it did not fit them so well as it ought for future country life, and that it induced them in many cases to drift into the towns. It was thought that there was too much mere cramming of book learning, and too little training in habits of observation and understanding of the world around. To that extent he agreed with the right hon. Member for the University of London, that it would be most desirable to encourage the teaching of what was called, somewhat too ambitiously, elementary science. He had made some inquiries in his own county in this matter. They had endeavoured under the county educational system to encourage the taking up of this particular subject, but they had always been met with the objection that it would not pay so well as other class subjects. He thought Her Majesty's inspectors might do more than they did to encourage the taking up of this subject. If teachers had more opportunity of training themselves, especially in those sciences that bore upon agriculture, they would be much more willing to teach them than they were now. And if managers were more liberally aided in providing the necessary apparatus to carry on the efficient teaching of these subjects, they would be much more disposed to allow them to be taught. If the Government were not willing to allow the local authorities, who in many cases had funds which might be applied to the provision of such apparatus, and to the training of teachers in these subjects; and if they were not willing to give them more legislative facilities for encouraging those subjects in the day schools as well as in the evening schools, then the Government ought to see to it that in every agricultural district the 1268 Code was so arranged and administered, and the grants so calculated, that it should become a matter of interest, and almost of necessity, for the managers and teachers to give proper teaching in those subjects which bore more especially on agriculture. The second criticism he would make on education in the country districts, was that a vast amount of it was lost through want of proper evening continuation schools. In some counties a very large number of evening schools had been started within the last few years, but in others there were few, in spite of the new evening schools Code. He found that in the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Lincolnshire, with a population of 1,250,000, there were 366 evening school earning Government grants, while in Gloucester, Kent and Norfolk, with a larger aggregate population, there were only 72 such schools. He thought the difference was explained by the fact that in the first three counties the County Councils were spending large sums in encouraging these evening schools, whereas with the other three they were hardly aiding evening schools at all. The truth was that the Government grants given for evening continuation schools were not sufficient to carry on these schools where the numbers in attendance were very small, and it was only where the local authorities were willing to supplement the grants made by the Central Department that these schools could be carried on in large portions of the country districts. It would, he thought, be found in those counties where evening schools were fairly numerous, that at least half the cost was paid by the local authorities out of the beer and spirit duties. But these county authorities were under no legal obligation to carry on evening schools. Evening schools lay on the border line. They were not secondary schools, and they were not elementary schools. They ought to be put on some rational basis, and one ought to know whether or not it was an obligation on the county authorities to carry them on in the country districts. If it was, then every country authority should be required, or at any rate enabled, to carry them on efficiently. If it was not, then the Central Department ought to revise their grants to small country schools, and see that proper teachers and proper apparatus were provided. He believed it could not be done efficiently without 1269 more grouping of schools than at present existed, and the provision of peripatetic teachers. Whether there was legislation or not, he hoped that at any rate all administrative difficulties would be removed. The principal defect in the law resulted from the construction that had been put on a very doubtful section of the Technical Instruction Act. Under that Act, as construed by former Law Officers, local authorities were prohibited from aiding scholars receiving instruction at elementary schools in standard subjects. He felt confident that when the Act passed through the House the belief of most of them was that elementary schools meant elementary day schools: and he thought it most unfortunate that youths in country evening schools should not be able to renew their acquaintance with elementary subjects side by side with instruction in more advanced and more attractive subjects. Such a defect in the law ought to be removed. There was a great waste of money in connection with the system of inspection. Evening schools had often to be inspected by their different sets of inspectors. The law, he thought, might be changed so as to enable the inspectors of the Department to report to the Local Authorities aiding the school as well as to the Central Authority. Lastly, he would suggest that if the grants were paid earlier in the year they would be available to defray the actual expenses of the preceding winter, instead of going into the account for the succeeding year. Speaking generally there should be more co-operation between the Education Department and the County Authorities, who were really taking up this question of evening school work in a very serious and enterprising spirit. There should be encouragement given to the teaching of practical subjects in the country districts, and more recognition of evening schools as a necessary part of the education of the country as well as of the town education. He felt sure that although his suggestions might possibly involve in some directions a slight increase in expenditure it would be money well spent, because, at present, there was a large amount of waste going on owing to our not having made our education system complete and more suitable for the needs of the country districts.
MR HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
, rose to express the great interest which he took in common with a large number of Members on both sides in the question of the superannuation of teachers. He put a question to the Vice-President last August as to the intentions of the Government, and was informed that they were at that time considering legislation upon the lines of the Report of the Departmental Commissioners. When he put a similar question to the right hon. Gentleman today the reply was that he did not know what the intentions of the Government were. He hoped the Vice-President would now be able to give a more encouraging and sympathetic answer, at all events as to his own desires and wishes. There was no more important point in connection with the interest of education generally than the great and urgent need of providing means of superannuating teachers after a certain length of service.
§ *MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
said he was surprised to hear the Member for Wigan (Sir Francis Powell), justifying, or at least making excuses for the employment of teachers who had neither had experience nor training. There was general agreement as to the immense importance of Technical instruction, and he could not agree with the hon. Baronet that teaching was the only work for which experience and training were not required. Speaking with some practical knowledge of the subject, such teachers were not only not good for the children, but were a nuisance to their better-trained and better-taught colleagues. ["Hear, hear!"] While he was on the Sheffield Board they were weak enough to appoint a certain number of these incompetent teachers. They were put into the schools, but, instead of being placed where they were really wanted, they had to be placed where they could at least do something. An additional burden of work was thus thrown upon those who really did understand their duties and had been properly trained to do them.
§ SIR J. GORST
, replying upon the observations which had been addressed to the Committee, said almost every hon. Member who had spoken had referred to the pension question. He confessed that that matter was in a very unsatisfactory state, but it was in a very unsatisfactory 1271 state because the policy and plan of the Government with reference to elementary education generally had to be abandoned this year and postponed to next year. They could not have an Education Bill destroyed without certain disadvantages to the cause of education, and one disadvantage which was the result of the destruction of the Education Bill was the necessary postponement of this question of teachers' pensions. "When he was questioned upon the matter last year he pointed out that it had passed, as he thought, almost beyond the region of argument, and was ripe for actual decision. There had been a unanimous vote of that House; a Committee of that House had presented a Report, and a Departmental Committee had sat to frame a scheme to carry out that Report, and there had been a Bill framed by his predecessor in office which was almost ready to be introduced when the last House of Commons came to an abrupt ending. One very important part of the proposals and projects of the Government in reference to elementary education was that about £500,000 was going to be devoted to Voluntary Schools and the poorer Board Schools, and the greater part of that sum would have gone to the augmentation of teachers' salaries. If that project had become effective then the scale of teachers' pensions, which was framed upon the existing teachers' salaries, would obviously have been inapplicable to the state of things which was to be anticipated if the salaries were considerably augmented. Everybody admitted that the amount which the teachers were to subscribe towards the pension fund was necessarily placed so low that even the poorest-paid teacher under the present régime would be able to contribute. But it was obvious that, if a plan was carried out by which the teachers' salaries would be substantially raised, it would be in their power to contribute a larger sum than that which was anticipated when the Committee sat, and that the teachers so contributing a larger amount a larger pension would be given.
§ SIR J. GORST
said it did not, but, the Treasury paying the same sum they agreed to, if the teachers' contributions could be increased, the pension would be more adequate than that which was 1272 proposed under the scheme to which he had referred. He therefore told the House in the early part of the Session that they would not proceed with the pension scheme until the Education Bill passed through the House, and until they knew what would be the probability of the increase of the teachers' salaries. The Education Bill having been postponed until next year, he was sorry to say that it followed, as a matter of course, that the Teachers' Pension Bill was also postponed for another year. When he replied to the Question of the hon. Member for Denbighshire earlier in the evening he was unable to give him any pledge or assurance as to what the course of legislation next Session would be. If the hon. Member asked him what he hoped, he would say he hoped that next Session an Education Bill would be passed; that the result of that would be to augment the teachers' salaries throughout the country; that that would enable them to contribute a larger sum than was anticipated, and that, therefore, a better pension scheme would then be brought before the House, giving elementary teachers a larger pension than that which was contemplated.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that was what he hoped, but, after the sad disappointment of the hopes which he entertained about 12 months ago, he was not so sanguine now as he was then. He hoped the course of legislation would be such as he had sketched it out. Not only was the postponement of the teachers' pension scheme a necessary consequence of the loss of the Education Bill, but so also was the postponement of Article 73, of which the hon. Member for Nottingham and his hon. Friend the Member for West Ham had complained. He thought it was very unfortunate that the proposal which was made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to raise the efficiency of the teaching staff in schools had had to be postponed. He did not think a school with its staff on a lower scale than that which the right hon. Gentleman contemplated in his Amendment to the Code was an efficient school. ["Hear, hear!"] It was a very easy thing to sit in the Government Office and make plans for the efficiency of schools, but in order to carry them out they had got to provide the managers of schools with 1273 means to do it, and, of course, as Parliament had not provided the managers of Voluntary Schools and of the Board Schools with the means of increasing the efficiency of their staff, that Amendment was also to be postponed until the Education Bill of next year. A great deal had been said with which he entirely concurred upon the desirability of promoting continuation schools, particularly in country districts. How could they promote continuation schools in country districts unless they had got some county authority charged with the duty? That again, was a reform which must await the passing, the expected passing, of the Education Bill next year. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for East Somerset that a great improvement might be made in the inspection, and he was quite certain that if the county authorities would be willing to act upon the Report of Her Majesty's inspectors there would be no little difficulty whatever. He must protest a little against what the hon. Member for Nottingham said about Article 60—teachers. He agreed with what he said about Article 68—teachers. They were admitted into the schools because it was impossible to do without them, but he did not think that untrained teachers, who had not been taught to teach, were satisfactory teachers in a school. The hon. Member represented Article 60 as though they were going to introduce into the schools gentlemen and ladies who had been trained at Oxford and Cambridge, who had no knowledge of teaching, but who were persons of general culture. That was not the intention of Article 60. In the first place it was not confined to Oxford and Cambridge. It was an article which admitted as certificated teachers in schools all teachers, graduates, or persons who were qualified by examination to become graduates of arts and science of any University in the United Kingdom. So that it applied to the University of London, to the Scotch Universities, to the Irish Universities, the Welsh University, and to any other University which might hereafter be established within the United Kingdom. And they were only recognised as certificated teachers provided that they held a certificate of proficiency in the theory and practice of teaching issued by the University or collegiate body and recognised by the body.
§ MR. YOXALL
said his point was that, under the present Code, they were admitted at once without the year of probation.
§ SIR J. GORST
said they were admitted without the year of probation, but only if they could produce a certificate of proficiency in the theory and practice of teaching issued by the University or collegiate body and recognised by the Department. He had no doubt the hon. Member for Nottingham knew as well as he did that at present there were growing up in this country colleges and Universities which had an educational faculty and which issued to men and women certificates of proficiency in the practice as well as in the art of teaching. He could mention the Training College for Women at Cambridge, where the young ladies who were members of the college went through a course of practice in the art of teaching equally as severe as that in any residential training college in the country. It was now under consideration, he knew, at Cambridge whether the University itself should not institute a faculty which would give to persons successfully going through its course of instruction a certificate that they were fitted in the art, as well as the theory, of teaching. Such persons would be as highly qualified for teaching in elementary schools as any of those who were trained in the training colleges. The right hon. Member for Rotherham, as well as the hon. Member for West Ham, had urged the importance of some teachers being enabled to proceed abroad, where, for a time, they might prosecute their studies. They were now able to do that. Under Article 120 of the Code a certain number—of course, not all, but the pick and cream—of the students in the training colleges were enabled to elect whether they should spend the third year at the college or go elsewhere to pursue their studies. Under that article some of the teachers had been sent to Prance and Germany, and he believed the result of their training there had been satisfactory in the highest degree. ["Hear, hear!"] Several speakers had desired that there should be greater freedom in the teaching of class subjects. At present schools were restricted to the teaching of two class subjects, and it had been suggested that there should be permission to take a third when it was advisable to do so. 1275 He was himself in favour of freedom, and where the managers of schools could conveniently teach a third class subject he should be disposed to relax the Code in this respect to enable them to do so. ["Hear, hear!"] He would ascertain whether it was not possible in the next revision of the Code to modify the article on this subject in the direction indicated. As to what had been said as to the advisability of the Reports of the Education Department being issued at an earlier period, he desired to point out that the earlier production of the Report depended, not only on the Department itself, but on other persons over whom the Department had no control, and who were dilatory in forwarding the information necessary for the preparation of the Report. He would, however, see what could be done. The right hon. Member for Rotherham had asked whether what had been described as the intermittent visits of the inspectors had been a success. They had been a great success. ["Hear, hear!"] They were much appreciated by managers of schools, because the inspector became less of a judge and more of an adviser and friend. ["Hear, hear!"] Some hon. Members had asked him whether it was not possible to have written contracts between managers and teachers of schools. As an old lawyer, his prejudices were in favour of written contracts, and he would certainly promise before the next revision of the Code that this matter should be considered. So far as he was at present advised, he did not see any objection to requiring that the contracts between the managers and teachers of schools should be at least in writing. As public money was expended in the salaries of teachers, and the manager of a school was, to some extent, a trustee of that public money, he did not see any hardship in providing that the contracts in question should be in writing. He was afraid that the progress of the Blind and Deaf Act had not extended to the remoter country districts. The matter was still in rather an experimental stage. In London and some of the large centres of population a good deal was being done, but the time had not come when it was possible to adopt the same method in the remoter country districts. The subject, however, was engaging the earnest attention of the Committee of 1276 the Council on Education, and would be pushed forward as far as possible. With regard to the inquiry about eyesight, the right hon. Gentleman opposite appointed a Departmental Committee in 1894, and Mr. Brudenell Carter examined 8,000 children in the neighbourhood of London. The Report of Mr. Carter had been sent with a circular to all the inspectors, and they had been asked to try and get similar experiments carried out in other parts of the country. If any hon. Gentleman wished to see the Report of Mr. Carter he should be glad to lay it on the Table. He thought he had now answered all the questions which had been submitted to him. ["Hear, hear!"]
*MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
wished to call attention to a local case which involved an important general principle. Before the late change of Government the Town Council of Heywood, Lancashire, requested the Education Department to take steps for-the formation of a School Board, and the requisite preliminary notice was accordingly sent down; but before the issue of the final notice the change of Government came. Then the Church School party put pressure on the Department, which decided to defer further action till after the municipal elections in November. Subsequently the town was polled, and there was a majority against a School Board, and the Department decided against its formation. But what were the facts of the case? The parents of as many as 193 children—the parents being nearly all Nonconformists—memorialised the Department for free places. What answer did they get? Why that there were 296 free places in existing schools, and therefore that the accommodation was sufficient. But where were these places? Why 172 were in a Church of England School, and 100 in a Roman Catholic School; and when he asked the Vice President of the Council if the Department considered that to be suitable accommodation, the answer was "Yes." He protested in the name of Nonconformists against such a policy. What would Churchmen say if the conditions were reversed, and their children were forced into strictly Nonconformists and Roman Catholic Schools? They would protest against it, in the 1277 interest of religious liberty and of education also. Quite apart from religious considerations, the Education Department was blameable in this matter. First of all, the schools named were a mile away from the homes of the children, who had to run great risks in crossing the town. Then St. John's School was objectionable for sanitary reasons. The inspector of Nuisances, after a recent visit, said he had never been in a more disgraceful place in his life, and he (Mr. Williams) had received from an informant details which bore out that statement, and which were so disagreeable that he would not trouble the House with them. As many as 20 children from the infants' room were at home ill, and a number from the mixed school also, and no wonder! Yet that was one of the schools to which the Department wished Nonconformist children to be forced to go. Nor was that the only unfit school in the town; indeed, the school inspector said there were only two fit schools in the whole district; and the Methodist Free Church School had been ordered to be closed in October. The managers had months ago asked for a year of grace, but could get no answer. Why? It was believed in Heywood that the Department was waiting to give the managers of the Church School an opportunity for enlarging it, against the time when the Methodist School would be closed, and then there would not be a single undenominational school in the town. Meanwhile the Nonconformist children were running about in the streets; for their parents were determined not to send them to the episcopal or Roman Catholic Schools. He appealed to the Vice President of the Council, as a friend to both religious liberty and education, to review the whole situation, and, if he took a broad view of it, he would come to the conclusion that nothing but the erection of a good Board School, or Schools, would prove to be a satisfactory solution of the problem.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
was much obliged to the hon. Member for his expression of faith in him by not moving a reduction of his salary, and would try to merit that faith. With regard to the non-appointment of a School Board at Heywoood, his duty was simply to 1278 carry out the law, whether he liked it or not. When he came into office there was a resolution of the Town Council of Heywood asking for a School Board, and he was inundated by a large number of representations made by ratepayers, who at an open town's meeting had passed a resolution asking him not to appoint a School Board. He thereupon referred to the Act of Parliament to ascertain what was his duty, and concluded that his duty was to act in accordance with the wishes of the people of Heywood. In ordinary circumstances, no doubt the resolution passed by the' Town Council would have been the proper and only evidence which the Vice President could have accepted of the wishes of the people; but in this case, as a resolution had been passed, he was told, without notice, and as the ratepayers had disapproved of it, he thought it was his duty to wait until the then approaching municipal election, which would show whether the people did or did not endorse the action of their Council. He intimated to the Town Council that that was the course which the Council on Education would probably take, and he was then waited upon by a deputation from Heywood and discussed the matter with them. He told them his only desire was to ascertain the wishes of the people, and that, if they did not like to wait till the municipal election, they might easily ascertain the opinion of the people by means of a poll. A poll was taken, with the result that there voted in favour of a School Board 1,257, and against 1,923, a majority against of 666. He then decided to wait for the election, and see whether the new Town Council would endorse the resolution of the old one. He was told that all the candidates for election pledged themselves, if returned, to vote against the appointment of a School Board. As far as he knew, since then the Town Council had never desired the formation of a School Board. He must say he thought in doing what he had done he was fulfilling the spirit of the Act, and that he was simply doing his duty in trying to ascertain to the best of his ability what were the wishes of the people of Heywood. The further statement made by the hon. Member had taken him by surprise, except as to the question of accommodation. There 1279 had been a question raised in Heywood about free places, and the Inspectors of the Department had visited Heywood and made a Report on the matter. It was the law that as long as there were free places available, even in a denominational school, the town could not be saddled with the cost of building further schools. As to the sanitary condition of the schools, and the picture which the hon. Member had drawn of the unfortunate condition of the youth of Heywood, that was a matter which, as he had said, took him by surprise. He would have the Report of the Inspector examined, and the allegation tested and considered. He could assure the hon. Member that it was the duty of the Committee of Council to see that the children were provided with proper and sanitary schools to which they could go, and that duty should be fully and effectually performed.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)
called attention to the position of assistant clerks, pointing out that if they accepted promotion into the second division they lost a considerable amount of salary. That deterred capable servants from accepting promotion. The grievance, he believed, was general in the Civil Service Departments. There were 500 or more of these assistant clerks. A Treasury Minute said that their salaries should not be reduced on promotion, but on the other hand there was an Order in Council to the effect that the clerks in the second division should begin their work at a lower salary, and this Order in Council overrode the Treasury Minute. The result was that these efficient but unfortunate men lost £40 or £50 a year if they accepted promotion.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
, speaking of the defects of the system of elementary education in England from a Scotch point of view, pointed out that the amount earnable under the Scotch Code was greater than under the English Code The proportion of "infants" in attendance at school was greater in England than in Scotland, But in Scotland children were kept at school much later, and the older the children the larger the grant they earned. Still, in Scotland only 14s. 6d. could be obtained for infants, while in England the grant for infants was 17s. Parents in 1280 England should be encouraged to allow their children to remain at school longer. Unless they were willing to sacrifice their children's earnings for a year or two longer, as Scotch parents did, the same results could not be attained, either in the education of the child or the amount of the grant earned by the schools. The superior education given in Scotland cost less than the inferior education given in England. Scotland was also ahead of England in the matter of the supply of teachers. There were 8,706 certified teachers in Scotland; 50,069 in England, but England should have 63,000 in order to bring its supply of teaching up to the proportion of Scotland. In England 3,791 fresh teachers were required last year, but only 2,100 were turned out, or only about half the number required to keep pace with the waste. What was the use of spending £7,000,000 annually on education unless they had plenty of teachers properly trained always on supply? They certainly could not get full value for their money; they could not have efficient teachers or efficient teaching unless their supply of teachers was equal to the demand. He, therefore, thought the time had come for the establishment of State training colleges for teachers.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
hoped that teachers would be given a right of appeal to the Education Department from the decisions of managers. The right hon. Gentleman had promised to consider whether it would be possible to draw up a form of agreement between teachers and managers which would give teachers a certain amount of protection. But he hardly thought they would prove a valuable concession unless it was accompanied by a right of appeal to the Education Department. Teachers complained of the extraneous duties—duties having no relation whatever to education—which they were called upon by managers to perform. It was true that those duties were not in all cases compulsory, but in a large number of cases they were practically compulsory, for the teacher knew that he could not retain his position unless he performed them. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the teacher the right of appeal, and thus put down a system under which in addition to teaching in 1281 school, which taxed all their energies, they were practically compelled by managers, on whom their livelihood depended, to perform duties having no relation whatever to the work of teaching. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman was not able to deal this year with the question of Continuation Schools. When the right hon. Gentleman found himself able to deal with that question, he would have a great opportunity of making an undying name for himself, because he could not introduce into the field of education a reform more beneficial than the establishment of Continuation Schools on a thoroughly unsectarian basis.
§ *MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
desired to associate himself with the demand for the establishment of "Continuation Schools" a name which, better than "Evening Schools," illustrated the nature of the educational work they were designed to perform. He was quite sure that the secret of the success of some of our European competitors lay in the fact that they had realised more completely than we had the necessity of continuing by means of Continuation Schools, the work done in the day schools. He had to express his satisfaction that they were now discussing the Education Department, relieved of the nightmare of the late Liberal dispensation. Although the Voluntary Schools naturally laboured under a keen sense of disappointment at the legislative failure of the Session, and still awaited the good things which he believed they would yet receive from this Parliament, they appreciated the benefits resulting to them from the great and beneficent change which had taken place in the administration of the Education Department. An intolerable strain was put upon the Voluntary Schools by the notorious circular. No. 321, issued by the late Vice-President of the Council. All the Board Schools had to do, in order to fulfil the requirements—necessary or unnecessary—demanded of them by the Education Department was to appeal to the capacious and unlimited pockets of the ratepayers; but the Voluntary Schools had only their own limited and slender resources to fall back upon. Lender existing circumstances the Voluntary Schools were often placed in a disadvantageous position. He, for one, however, 1282 desired to express his thanks to the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Education Department in that House for the ungrudging and generous spirit he had shown in his desire to meet the legitimate claims of the Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman had recognised that the Voluntary Schools were entitled to receive from the Government of the day something more than a bare and niggardly recognition, that they were entitled, indeed, to generous recognition from the Government and the people alike. Notwithstanding the disabilities under which the Voluntary system had laboured during the last 25 years, and notwithstanding the comparatively greater advantages enjoyed by the Board Schools, the Voluntary Schools remained to-day more popular, and were more largely patronised by the people generally, than the Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Both classes of schools worked under the same system, the same Code, under the same inspection, and under similar protection. In both also similar instruction was given, and the only difference between them was that the Board Schools had not only the Government grant to rely upon, but also the unlimited resources of the local rates, while the Voluntary Schools beyond the Government grant depended upon the freely given private contributions of those who upheld the Voluntary principle. ["Hear, hear!"] In all other respects both the Voluntary and the Board Schools worked as he had stated, under the same system and observed the same conditions.
*MR. CARVELL WILLIAIMS
said the Voluntary Schools had no Cowper-Temple Clause such as that to which the Board Schools were subject.
§ *MR. FOSTER
said' that full protection was given to the claims of conscience in the Voluntary Schools, and that Nonconformists laboured under no grievance whatever in having to send their children to them. If there was any grievance imposed at all it was on the other side; for, in many cases, School Boards had been planted, at heavy and unnecessary cost to the local ratepayers, in districts where Voluntary Schools already adequately served the purposes of elementary education. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad the 1283 Education Vote had been brought on this year at a time, and at a period of the Session, to permit of full discussion. He hoped the new spirit in which the Education Department was being administered would not only be an encouragement to the Voluntary Schools to continue in the good work they were doing, but that ill the next Session of Parliament the Department would be clothed with fresh authority to do justice to these schools. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said he wished to ask the Vice President a question as to the position of the considerable number of School Boards which had failed to claim the special supplementary grant under Section 97 of the Act of 1870. The figures ill the return as to the amount of unclaimed grants owing to certain School Boards did not agree with those of the Estimates under sub-head K. The Vote was for £26,000, while the return showed that over £40,000 would be required, and he desired to know if it could be explained. In answer to questions which he had put, the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself with regard to the payment of the second year's arrears.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that the hon. Member was putting pledges into his mouth which he had never made. Had the hon. Member the reports of his speeches?
§ *MR. CHANNING
said that he had not, but his memory was perfectly clear. Laving aside the question of the two years, which he should raise again and take a Division upon when Report was reached, he wished to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the actual wording of Section 97 of the Act of 1870. He had consulted legal authorities and was advised that there was no possible doubt that that wording gave a statutory claim to the School Boards in respect of any past year in which a 3d. rate for the annual expenses actually paid to the treasurer of such Board amounted to less than 7s. 6d. per head. His attention had been called to a circular letter issued by the Department in 1881, which expressly laid down the rule that, under Section 97, the Department would not deal with any more than the current and the immediately preceding year. He wished to know whether the advice of the Law Officers 1284 had been obtained as to the interpretation of this Section 97, whether this circular letter was held by the Law Officers to bar, in any way, the right of the School Boards to claim arrears? The amount which had been unclaimed was between £12,000 and £14,000 a year; and the items were owing, in many cases, to poor villages. It was extremely hard that poor villages should be denied the statutory right merely because the attention of some School Boards had not been drawn to the relief afforded by Section 97.
§ SIR J. GORST
The hon. Member is most unreasonable. He has suddenly sprung upon me, without notice, an extremely difficult legal and financial question. He has not even the materials of his own case by him: and he puts into my mouth pledges which I never made and intentions which I never had. All the answer I can give him is that, if he will make his representations by letter, so that they can be considered by the advisers of the Department, anything to which any School Board in the country is legally entitled shall be paid.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS AND MEANS,
2. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £514,795, 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 1897, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Science and Art, and of the various Establishments connected therewith.
§ *MR. HERBERT LEWIS
drew attention to the allocation of museum grants throughout the kingdom. The sums devoted to Scotland and Ireland were not grudged, because the work to which they were devoted was of enormous educational value; but if the Government could extend to Wales the benefits of the museum grant, a great amount of good would be done. At the present time there was no central place in Wales where works of art could be collected, but the sympathetic declarations which had already been made by the right hon. Gentleman encouraged him to hope that something would be done. At present Wales had no capital and no museum, but he suggested that 1285 the example with regard to the University Colleges for Wales should he followed and the question submitted to arbitration. The grant was first made, and then it was referred to arbitration to decide where the University Colleges should be located. The settlement so arrived at had been accepted on all hands by the Welsh people. His object in rising was not to raise a Debate, but to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to follow the precedent of 1882.
§ *MR. HOBHOUSE
called attention to the great waste in the inspectorships under the Department. Why should the inspection of drawing in village schools not be done by the ordinary inspectors of the Education Department? Those inspectors had already qualified to inspect the needlework of girls, and he thought they might do the same for the drawing of village boys. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would look without delay into this waste. The second question which he wished to ask was whether the Department were going to take, what he thought a very desirable step, and abolish the evening examinations for boys' schools during the next Session. He thought that these evening examinations were most unsuitable for boys and girls, and he did hope that the Department would consider the necessity of conducting these examinations in the day time. The third point which he wished to raise was the desirability of having the minutes of the Department presented to Parliament and published without delay. There were many far less important Papers brought before them in the regular way.
§ MR. AUGUSTINE BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
called attention to the lamentable cutting down of the expenditure upon museums and the circulation of works of art in different parts of the country. He said that in this direction alone £4,740 had been cut off from the expenditure of last year. In one item, works of art, there was a decrease shown of £3,000. It was not for him to pose as a patron of art, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed his willingness to protect the works of art belonging to individuals he should have thought that he would have encouraged expenditure for all parts of the country. On turning over to the next page he 1286 found an item which excited in him, as a Scotchman, fierce indignation. Everybody knew that Edinburgh got less than its share of public money for the purposes with which they were now dealing, yet he found that a saving of £1,000 had been effected for the Edinburgh Museum. He thought that some explanation should be given why there should be this reduction in the capital of Scotland, a city visited by people from all parts of Scotland and all parts of the world. Its museum was entitled to be well equipped and well maintained. He did not think that it was right or the time when the revenues of the country were in so prosperous a condition, to stint the great metropolis of the north. He saw that for the Dublin museum there was a reduction of £900. He thought that was a melancholy exhibition of meanness. It could not be said that the money might not be well spent and it certainly called for explanation. He was sorry to think that this should be the first outcome of the reforming zeal of the Secretary of the Treasury.
§ *MR. ERNEST GRAY
said he was anxious to direct attention to the conditions attaching to the promotion of certain assistant clerks whose salaries were covered by this Vote. It appeared that these assistant clerks commenced at an annual salary of £80, which might be increased to a maximum of £150. These clerks were not infrequently recommended for promotion to a higher grade, and he was informed that although their salary in the lower grade might be £150, they had to re-commence in the next grade at £70. He had a statement with regard to two of these clerks which showed that in one case it would take the clerk seventeen years to catch up to his old salary; while in the other case it would take sixteen years. He asked for some explanation of this extraordinary arrangement, remarking that in every other class a clerk on promotion commenced at the salary at which he left off in the lower grade or at a salary somewhat higher. He most emphatically endorsed the recommendation of the hon. Member for Somerset, that the Minutes of the Science and Art Department ought to be placed before the House in an official manner. At present it appeared the Department could make whatever changes it pleased with the 1287 payment of its grants without the matter coming up for revision by the House. He had a paper before him which revised the whole system of grants to the Science Schools. He admitted that the change in this case was in the right direction. It purported to abolish payment by results, and to substitute payment on the average attendance. But he had very great doubts whether the amount which would be paid under the new Minute would reach the amount paid under the old plan. It seemed, on the face of it, that the maximum amount which could be taken by a successful student who produced the most satisfactory results would be 30s., against £2 paid for an ordinary pass under the old arrangement. He should have been glad before the circular was put in force to have had the advice of those best qualified by experience to give it, and he could not understand why the Minute had not been circulated in some official form so that it could have been brought up for revision if necessary. Some doubt existed as to the meaning of Clause 5 of the Minute, and it would be a source of satisfaction to managers and teachers if the interpretation that it meant merely that one registered attendance might not count for grants both from the Education and Science and Art Departments could be officially confirmed. Another Minute of the Department which he submitted ought to have been brought officially before the House gave increased payments for the teaching of drawing in elementary schools. An admirable feature of this Minute was that in regard to those very small schools, where ridiculous grants of 3s., 4s., 5s., and 6s., had been paid for drawing, it was provided that there should be a minimum grant of £1, and that sums of 20s., 25s., or 30s., might be paid in addition to or instead of the ordinary grants, in order that there might be a reasonable amount with which to work these small schools. He urged the desirability of introducing the system of intermittent inspection in connection with drawing. He also urged upon the Vice President the necessity for revising the syllabus for drawing in elementary schools. It was true there was an alternative syllabus, which was supposed to be used in the very small schools, but teachers, managers, and members of 1288 School Boards, all declared that it was utterly impossible, in the short school life of a child, to teach the large number of subjects required by the Science and Art Department, and teach them with that degree of efficiency required by the art masters recently appointed as inspectors by the Science and Art Department. Great anxiety was now felt by many inspectors in the Science and Art Department, men appointed some years ago, and who, in some instances, resigned lucrative appointments in order to accept service under the Department, believing that they would be secured in their offices so long as they satisfactorily discharged their duties. One-third of these officers were dismissed by the late Vice President, and in the following year a second one-third were removed. Now the remaining one-third were told that in August next they must terminate their engagements, but he believed that some hope was entertained, at all events by many of them, that some provision might still be made for them in the Department. He felt that the Department ought now to be in a position to state definitely to these officers whether or not their tenure of office would be continued. A fair claim might be made out for some of these officers who had discharged their duties thoroughly well, and he hoped the Department might see its way to retain their services. He concluded by thanking the Vice President for the evident desire he had shown, both in the Education Department circular and in the circulars of the Science and Art Department to get rid of the cast-iron fetters of payment by results, and to base the grants, not on work accomplished in a given space of time, and forgotten almost immediately, but on the more rational system of steady and continuous work by well-organised science classes under properly certificated and trained teachers, resting assured that work so carried out would have in the long run more beneficial results than those accomplished by any system of cramming.
§ MR. C. J. MONK (Gloucester)
said he would like to ask a question with regard to the last item in the Vote, with regard to the Appropriations in Aid. It appeared that there was a considerable falling off in the amount received for the attendances in the schools and museums. Altogether there was a falling off of 1289 £2,000, and he had no doubt the Vice President would explain it.
§ *MR YOXALL
contended that there was no proper method of promotion from the school to the inspectorate, and hoped due weight would be given to the claims of qualified teachers when the appointment of 20 or 30 new inspectors, which he believed was in contemplation, was made. He hoped that full consideration would he given to the question of inspection of drawing. He suggested that a better system than the present would he that, drawing in public elementary schools should be inspected by the same persons, and at the same time, as were the ordinary subjects of instruction. It had been argued that inspectors should be appointed in the future who had some knowledge of art. The work, more particularly of drawings on paper, was sent to the Science and Art Department, and therefore the amount of knowledge of drawing required of the inspector would be comparatively small, and any errors would be rectified by the Department itself. The present system, whereby a special inspector visited the school for purposes of art examination, was a very expensive one. One of the great vices of our educational system was the separation and the kind of rivalry which existed between Whitehall and South Kensington, and he urged the necessity of the amalgamation of the Science and Art Department with the Education Department. The present want of co-ordination, and the ignorance of what the other department was doing, or was going to do, resulted in a very unsatisfactory system of administration. He thought the two departments should be under the same permanent head. He did not know a single Government Department which received so much criticism and so much dispraise as did the Science and Art Department. He did not quite know why that should be so. His observation of the Science and Art Department went to show that there was industry there, and a desire to do things in the right way, and to bring about reforms as quickly as might be safe. Everywhere, however, they would find the impression that the directorate of that Department, and its whole system, was open to grave objection, and he could not but think that this would be obviated by the amalgamation he suggested.
§ GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
said they had had from the Vice President what practically amounted to a promise that when Wales had selected a capital the claims of Wales should be considered in regard to a museum. Pending that decision, however, might they not ask that Wales should have an equivalent expenditure, so that loan collections might be provided for educational purposes. The Welsh claimed that they were quite as ready to avail themselves of every opportunity of education as the Scotch. They asked, therefore, that they might at least have the same advantages so that their people might benefit by the study of these loan collections. When the selection of a capital had been made it would be time to consider the establishment of a museum.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
said he should like to see in several centres of Wales loan collections from South Kensington of bookbinding, musical instruments, architectural ornaments, and other objects of that class.]n the matter of the plastic arts their countrymen had not the opportunities for study which they required. The natural genius of the people required development to be fruitful. He thought the question of a capital was one which might very well be deferred for future consideration: but, in the meantime, in the different centres there should be provided additional means of instruction.
§ SIR J. GORST
said the discussion on this Vote had begun and ended by an appeal for a museum for Wales—an appeal which he had listened to with great sympathy last year and on the present occasion. He could assure the hon. Member who had last spoken that if educational centres of Wales would make their wishes in regard to the circulation of any particular objects known to the Science and Art Department they would receive every consideration. The chief character of the museums under the Science and Art Department was educational, and they were not intended to be rivals to the British Museum, which was one of antiquities and works which were national possessions. To promote education was their beginning and their end. What he understood was that the people of Wales desired something more than a mere share 1291 in the circulation of objects that were circulated over the whole of the country, and that they desired that objects of peculiar interest to Welsh people should be circulated in the Principality. As he had said last year, the great difficulty of making a grant for a University for Wales was that there was at present no educational centrein that Principality. Until the Welsh people had made up their minds where the educational centre was to be he could not, with any hope of success, go to the Treasury and ask for a grant for that purpose. No one was more alive than he was to the great waste of public money that was involved in the inspection of drawings in Wales, but that was one result of the withdrawal of the Education Bill. With regard to the circulation of the objects of art at South Kensington, he thought that it would be better to expend money in circulating what we had rather than to spend it in increasing our stock. When better arrangements had been made for circulating those objects of art throughout the country those objects would be rendered far more useful than they were at present for the education of the people, and in that case their efforts in that direction would be more successful than they had been. Reference had been made to the number of inspectors, but he regretted to say that he could not see his way at present to making any increase in the number of that very worthy class of public servants. It was not an uncommon thing to appoint temporary inspectors when their services were immediately required but he would undertake that the oases of the gentleman referred to should be laid before the Secretary to the Treasury, who would no doubt consider them in due course. Two-thirds of the temporary inspectors had been practically turned into permanent inspectors by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham. With regard to the remaining one-third, they were still in the service of the Department; but, until the House had decided the nature of the legislation to be passed with regard to education, it was impossible for him to make any more permanent appointments, because it was quite uncertain how many and what kind of inspectors would be required. Therefore, the remaining one-third were likely to continue to hold office temporarily for some time longer, 1292 and a notice had been sent to them informing them that they might reckon on remaining in their offices for six months from August 31. He could only say that he was most anxious to deal as considerately and leniently as he could with these gentlemen. An hon. Gentleman had asked a Question about the appropriation in aid, why it had been reduced. This was only an estimate, and the estimate for this year was smaller than the estimate for last year, which was too high. Both those sums were only estimates, and no conclusion was to be drawn from them.
§ MR. CALDWELL
thought that a more unsatisfactory answer to the question put to the right hon. Gentleman by the Member for West Fife with regard to the money set apart for works of art could not have been given. He was surprised that this year should have been selected for reducing by 25 per cent. the sum allocated on these Estimates for that purpose. There was a large surplus, a large part of which was being given to a particular class of the community, and yet this opportunity was taken for reducing, by 25 per cent., the sum that was allowed last year in connection with works of art. He certainly thought that a division ought to be taken on this point. Very good care was taken, he noticed, not to make any reduction so far as England was concerned, while £1,000 was taken from Scotland and £900 from Ireland. The museum in Edinburgh only received £11,715, while the museum in Dublin got £20,315. Thus Scotland did not receive her proper share. She ought to have £11,000 more, and that ought to go to the City of Glasgow. If that further sum was granted, it would not increase Scotland's share to more than the right proportion; and if it was given to Glasgow, it would distribute the money better over Scotland. Then there was a National Art Training School in London. Why should there not be similar institutions for Scotland and Ireland? He moved, in conclusion, to reduce the Vote by the sum of £100 in respect of purchases for museums and the circulation of objects of science and art.
§ MR. LEWIS
thought that a retrograde step had been taken by the Department of Science and Art. Large sections of 1293 the population were interested in the purchase and circulation of artistic and scientific objects. The matter, for example, was of great interest to those who were being educated in technical classes and schools. He wished to ask whether the extension of those classes had not caused a very much larger demand for the circulation of articles from the museums for educational purposes?
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. R. W. HANBURY,) Preston
wished to explain how it was that there had been a reduction in the item to which the Amendment related. With respect to the grants for Science and Art generally, he did not think any complaint could be brought against the Government, because those grants had been considerably increased. There was, in fact an increase of nearly £36,000, on the Vote, and additional grants to about the same amount had also been made to the British Museum by a Supplementary Vote in March and another this month. The charge against the Government of neglecting science and art could not, therefore, be maintained. As the demands under the Vote under consideration were very large, it had been his duty to ascertain what item of the Vote was really the weakest, and he had come to the conclusion that from the point of view of the general taxpayer the weakest item was the South Kensington purchase grant. The object of the grant was to en-Courage education generally throughout the country, but he had found that the large sums which were generally voted for South Kensington Museum were expended upon the accumulation and collection of art objects in London. The object of the grant was not the formation of a great collection for London only, the intention of the Legislature being to benefit the country at large. The collection ought to be essentially a circulating one, of which the provinces should have their full proportion, in order that technical education throughout the country might be stimulated. It was because he found that that object was not being attained that he reduced the Vote, and, until he could get some promise from the Science and Art Department that the provinces should not be neglected, and that technical education throughout the country should 1294 not be deprived of its fair share of these objects of art, he thought that, in the interest of the general taxpayer, he was justified in taking the course he had done. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ACLAND
confessed that he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with great surprise. He could not understand the extraordinary argument of the Secretary to the Treasury that because successive Governments, and poorer Governments than the present one, had been content to keep this Vote at its present figure, therefore they should suddenly knock off, at one fell swoop, 25 per cent. because not enough of the collection was circulated. Why not take steps to have more circulated and still keep the sum of money granted to the centre which fed the provinces the same as it was before? ["Hear, hear!"] This collection was intended to assist in every possible way the development of industrial art in this country, whether ill London, or Dublin, or Edinburgh. By all means encourage the circulation far beyond the one-thirtieth if they could do so effectively, but he would remind the Committee that the very princes of their artists and designers, the men who took the lead in a large part of their artistic and executive work, were constantly in South Kensington receiving every kind of assistance from the museum so that they might distribute their knowledge and information and help all over the country. "Hear, hear!"] He should like to empanel a Committee of artists, many of whom were favourable to the present Government, and ask them what they thought of the present proposal. He knew the doctrine of the Treasury was to hit South Kensington when there was a chance, and he had had some acquaintance with an attempt to reduce this Vote. But he ventured to say to the Secretary to the Treasury of those days that the purchase Vote was about the most important Vote they had, inasmuch as the sum, a comparatively small sum, was devoted to the accumulation of treasures which would be of infinite value in a country which depended for its very existence upon the success of its commerce and industry. ["Hear, hear!"] If they compared what they did in this way with what was done in other countries, it would be found that they were very far behind, even 1295 without the reduction of £7,000. The feeling on this matter outside the House was much stronger than it was inside the House, and he sincerely hoped that before another year came round some effort would be made to restore this Vote. He did not think it was creditable to the House or to the Government that this opportunity should have been taken to reduce this particular Vote. The Votes for the British Museum and the Natural History Museum remained as they were, and, though he should not like to see one farthing taken from the Natural History Museum, he would, if ha were asked which was the most essential to the industrial and commercial welfare of the country, certainly say the South Kensington Museum. He thought the action of the Government deserved a strong protest from all who were interested in the development of their commercial progress. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
pointed out to the right hon. Member for Rotherham that, so far from the Vote for the British Museum remaining as it was, there was a reduction of £30,000.
§ MR. ACLAND
said the Secretary to the Treasury prided himself on the fact that he had given more to the British Museum.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
thought the Secretary to the Treasury must have accidentally transposed the Votes. The Science and Art Department Vote was increased by £35,940, but the British Museum Vote was reduced £30,000.
§ *MR. HANBURY
said that his observations had reference to the whole period during which the present Government had been in office. The Science and Art Department Vote was increased by £35,940, irrespective of a supplementary grant of £20,000 last spring; and the decrease of £30,421 on the British Museum was apparent only, being due to the fact that last year the present Government obtained a supplementary grant of £30,421, of which £28,000 was for purchases.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
said the real fact was that in the Estimates, while the amount appertaining to the Science and Art branch had increased, that for the British Museum had decreased. He 1296 quite agreed with the hon. Member for Rotherham in rather regretting that this amount should be diminished, but at the same time it would be an illogical proceeding to reduce it further in order to mark their disapprobation of its being reduced at all. That, however, would be the effect of the Amendment, and hon. Gentlemen opposite having expressed their opinions—in which to a considerable extent he concurred—he hoped they would not consider it necessary to go to a division on an Amendment the adoption of which would only have the effect of aggravating still further the evil of which they complained. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
observed that to move a reduction was the only way by which hon. Members could mark their sense of what they considered objectionable. The Secretary to the Treasury had said his object in proposing a reduction all round in this Vote-was to increase the circulation in the provinces of the stores of valuable articles now in the South Kensington Museum, so that they might have their fair share of participation in these treasures. That was a most important and admirable object, but the way in which the right hon. Gentleman set about that was by holding his hand, financially, in terrorem over the Vice President of the Council. He endeavoured, apparently, to terrify the Vice President into circulating these objects about the country. He wanted I to ask the Vice President why that object had not been successful? The Secretary to the Treasury had actually deemed it necessary to reduce this Vote all round for the purpose of terrifying the Education Department into a more active fulfilment of its duties. He should like to know whether the Educacation Department, in consequence of that threat, had taken any and, if so, what steps for the purpose of obtaining a better circulation of these articles in the provinces. It appeared to him that a representation on the part of the Treasury to the Vice President on a question of this kind ought to have had as good an effect as the cutting down of the Vote in all directions. With regard to the British Museum there was not the slightest doubt the amount had been very considerably reduced. But he ventured to think that the decrease 1297 which had taken place in South Kensington, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Bethnal Green required a, better justification than the one which had been offered by the right hon. Gentleman. He might have reduced one considerable item for the purpose of drawing the special attention of the Education Department to it, but instead of that he had chosen to cut down the Vote all round. The object the right hon. Gentleman had in view could have been accomplished without doing this, and having regard to the immense importance of the question that had been raised, and the fact that a precedent was being set for the future which would be the reverse of beneficial to education in this country, he hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
thought there was considerable point in his right hon. Friends explanation that if the vote for the Science and Art Department had been increased very largely in one direction it was necessary to make—he would not say a quid pro quo—in another direction, but some kind of a reduction. The right hon. Gentle-men opposite said they could not help the increase in the earlier part of the Vote as it was an automatic increase. But it came out of the pockets of the taxpayers, whether it was an automatic increase or not, and when a large increase took place in one part a reduction might be necessary in other parts of the Vote. When people talked about an end to the circulation of works of art throughout the country they ought to be a little more precise. The fact that new works of art had not been purchased did not put a stop to the circulation of works throughout the country. It was quite clear from the Vote that the expenses of the circulation of these objects had not diminished; therefore the same process of distribution through the country and the raising the moral tone of the people and improving their technical education by the circulation of works of art still continued. The only process that was temporarily arrested was the piling up of works of art in the South Kensington Museum. ["Hear, hear!"] It appeared a reasonable thing that such purchases should be made gradually and not necessarily every year, and as there was no interference 1298 with the circulation of those objects, which contributed to the education of the people, it seemed to him the action of the Government in making a relatively small set-off against the great increase in the earlier part of the Vote did not call for the very severe animadversion of the right hon. Member for Rotherham. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. EDWARD MORTON (Devon port
said he had tried to ascertain why there should be a considerable reduction in the amount expended on objects of art at a time when there was a larger financial surplus than we had had for many years. The only reason he had heard was that the distribution of works of art and objects of interest was carried out in an ignorant way. Patterns for lacemaking had, he found, been sent to districts where the people were chiefly employed in the iron trade. The distribution should be carried out on better principles, but the purchase of art treasures should not be starved, as it was a matter in which this country stood lower than any other country in the world.
§ MR. WARNER
said there might be defects of administration, such as that of sending lace patterns to an iron working district, but there was no reason for diminishing the purchase of objects of art or scientific interest for distribution, or why they should not improve the method of distribution and collection.
§ MR. HERMON HODGE (Oxon, Henley)
said it was of great importance that the country should understand on what principle objects of art were circulated. He suggested that localities which had applied for them should see that they got what they wanted.
§ MR. BURNS (Battersea)
said the opinion that the authorities of South Kensington Museum did not do their work as well as they ought to seemed to be generally entertained on both sides of the House. ["Hear, hear!"] A gentleman who knew a great deal of South Kensington, said to him recently that where it was not a nest of nepotism it was a jungle of jobbery. [Laughter.] He would not venture to use language so strong as that in reference to the museum, but he believed it contained 25 per cant. more officials than were necessary, while the departments which really did the work were undermanned. What was wanted was the separation of the 1299 sheep from the goats—[laughter]—and there were probably more goat" browsing on the heights of well-rewarded in competency and inefficiency at South Kensington than in any other Government Department. [Laughter.] He did not object to officialism at South Kensington being taught its duty, but he objected to that object being attained by diminishing the grant for technical instruction, and he therefore could not vote for the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"] But he suggested the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the management and administration of the museum; and if the Secretary of the Treasury honoured him by electing him chairman of that committee—[laughter]—he would undertake to get rid of a number of deadhead officials and bring about a substantial reduction in the expenditure. ["Hear, hear I"]
§ Question put, "That I tem F (Purchases for Museums and Circulation), be reduced by £100:"—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 47; Noes, 115.—(Division List, No. 329.)
§ MR. CALDWELL moved "That Item K (Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art) be reduced by £100" as a protest against the reduction of the sum granted for the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art.
MR. MUNRO FERGUTSON (Leith Burghs)
said that the Government de-fended the reduction of the grant to this museum on the ground that facilities must be given for the circulation of the exhibits through the provinces. He believed that the reverse; of that policy was necessary if these connections were to be made a real benefit to the country. But if the circulation of the exhibits were insisted on, then some provision for their carriage ought to be made. In respect of the Edinburgh Museum, there was no provision in the Vote for carriage. Therefore the argument of the Government that it was necessary to reduce the grant to the museum fell to the ground. In any case the grant to the Edinburgh Museum was on a very modest scale as compared with the grant to the London Museum. Many students had to travel to London to prosecute their studies because the resources of the Edinburgh Museum were not large enough; and that was a great 1300 grievance. If no provision was to be made for Glasgow, the Edinburgh Museum ought at least to be maintained inan efficient condition.
§ MR. R. B. MARTIN (Worcester, Droitwich)
asked why, when the personal salary of the director was £750 maximum, £800 was asked for.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that the expenses of carriage, packing, and repairs were to be found under the head of F10, and not in the Edinburgh Museum Vote at all.
§ SIR J. GORST
If there is no circulation, why do hon Members expect to find an allowance for carriage?
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
Because the ground for reducing the grant is that the stock has to be circulated through the country.
MR. T. SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
said that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was no answer at all. The reduction was one of £1,000 in respect of purchases for the Edinburgh Museum. The hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to the item of carriage. That item had nothing whatever to do with Edinburgh. Carriage of specimens from Edinburgh did not, in fact, ever take place. No valid reason had been given by the Minister of the Crown in favour of this reduction. There were two reductions of £1,000 in connection with Science and Art in Scotland, for in a Vote to be taken subsequently there was a reduction of £1,000, which was the sole grant given to Scotland for the purchase of pictures for the National Gallery. Why should the Government adopt this parsimonious spirit in regard to science and art matters, when in the case of every other item of their expenditure there was nothing but waste and extravagance? It was now proposed to give £214,000 to one, or almost to one, individual interest in Scotland, yet this £1,000 was to be taken off Scotland as a whole. There was nothing to be found in the general situation, financially, why there should be this reduction. Scotland required 1301 the £1,000 in order that they could keep up the satisfactory stage they had reached in regard to Science and Art. He trusted they would receive from the Government some assurance that the whole subject would be reconsidered and that the rights and claims of Edinhurgh as a centre of Science and Act would be recognised in a less parsimonious spirit.
§ MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
thought the complete break down of the Vice President in his attempt, to give an explanation was in itself a conclusive proof that no explanation could be given. No man was more capable to explain anything than the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore he assumed that the proprosal to take away £1,000 from the Science and Art Museum in Edinburgh was altogether indefensible.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that if the intelligent foreigner was present to witness their proceedings that evening he would be very much astonished at them. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members for Scotland were dissatisfied because the Vote was £1,000 too little, and they gave effect to their dissatisfaction by moving to further reduce the Vote. They were further dissatisfied because the Treasury had cut down the Vote for Art and Science objects throughout the kingdom. On being called upon to show cause why these sums should be spent, not in keeping up these museums but in adding to them by purchasing additional specimens, he was unable to give reasons satisfactory to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government why this fixed sum should continue to be spent every year upon making additions to the South Kensington and other museums. The expenditure of this sum of money was one of the most unsatisfactory of all the functions which he had to perform, because the money was looked upon as money that had to be spent, and which if it could not be spent on one object was spent on another. He agreed with the hon. Member for Battersea that before the country allocated and spent these sums of money in works of art which had a variable value it would be a good plan to appoint a Select Committee to consider how the money was spent and whether the nation really got full value for the sums provided in the Estimates. Until that was done he looked with equanimity on the reduction of this grant because he had no reason 1302 to suppose that the public service would suffer. If it was necessary to procure objects of art there would be no difficulty in getting a supplementary Estimate to pay for anything that was needed.
§ MR. DILLON
said there was not a country in Europe that did not, in pro-portion to its resources, spend four times as much money on the acquisition of objects of art and national interest as this country. He protested against the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. According to the view now but forward it was all pure waste; they ought to abolish this Vote altogether. That was the logical outcome of the doctrine laid down. Would the right hon. Gentleman say that this Vote was waste, that it was voted blindly without their knowing how it was going to be spent, they could understand the situation. If there was to be a purchase made, he contended that it should be left largely in the hands of experts. Let them take the case of Dublin which was in that Vote——
§ MR. A. CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
complained of the reduction of £1,000 in the Vote for the Edinburgh Museum. They made large allowances in England, and this small reduction might not mean much, but Scotland was a poor country and £1,000 reduction was a serious matter. Here they had rich endowments and institutions which he admired as much as they they did themselves but he did not want to see Edinburgh starved. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow him to cherish the belief that this was not a final decision or declaration on this subject. The Government had cut down the amount for Edinburgh by £1,000, bat they might, he understood, find occasion to ask for a special Vote in order that they might be able after all to make up this sum.
§ MR. CALDWELL
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought he was going to impose on the Committee by the argument which he had used? A more ridiculous argument to bring before that House he had never heard. What 1303 was it? "Oh, we do not need the money until we have something to purchase." Did he not know that the Government at the beginning of the year asked for what "may" be required before it made the purchase? Did the House ever listen to so ridiculous an argument? He ventured to say that it was bad enough to be deprived of £1,000 without having such a reason assigned.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
could not say that £2,600 was too large a sum for such a museum as that of Edinburgh. There would every year be objects which it would be desirable to acquire and which would come to that sum, though in some years there was not the same opportunity of securing valuable specimens as in others. But he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if the authorities of Edinburgh Museum made application to the Government with respect to any special purchase that might come before them that representation would be favourably considered.
§ Question put, "That Item K (Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art) be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 40; Noes, 117.—(Division List, No. 330.)
THE FTRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The discussion which has taken place, if it has shown nothing else has, I think, shown the desirability of some inquiry into the administration and circulation of these collections, to which reference has been made, in Scotland, England, and in Ireland, and I shall undertake to appoint a Committee on the subject. ["Hear, hear!"] I hope that in these circumstances the Committee will permit us to take this Vote to-night, as I am afraid there will not be an opportunity of discussing it again. ["Hear, hear!"]"
§ MR. BURNS
said he was exceedingly glad to hear that the First Lord of the Treasury had consented to the appointment of a Committee, and he sincerely trusted that the reference to 1304 the Committee would be sufficiently wide to enable them to consider not only the question of the administration and distribution of the loan collections of South Kensington, but the relation of South Kensington to all the local museums and art galleries.
MR. T. SHAW
said allusion had been made to an expenditure upon the National Gallery, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman if the reference to the Committee would include that subject.
§ Original Question put and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed:—
That a Sum, not exceeding £109,784 (including a Supplementary sum of £6,000), be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come I in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897, for the Salaries and Expenses of the British Museum, including the amount required for the Natural History Museum.
§ And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.