HC Deb 11 June 1896 vol 41 cc868-929

(1.) Every County Council shall appoint an Education Committee for the purposes of this Act, and the County Council acting by that Committee shall be and is in this Act referred to as the Education Authority for the County.

(2.) The number of the members of the Committee shall be fixed by the County Council.

(3.) The County Council may appoint persons, whether members of the Council or not, to be members of the Committee, provided that a majority of those members shall be members of the Council.

(4.) A member of an Education Committee shall hold office for three years, and one-third, as nearly as may be, of the members of an Education Committee shall retire annually at such time and in such order as may be fixed by the County Council, and their places shall be filled by a new appointment, but retiring members may be re-appointed.

(5.) Two or more County Councils may combine for all or any of the purposes of this Act.

(6.) Provided as follows:—

  1. (a.) A County Council may submit to the Education Department a scheme for providing separate Education Committees for different parts of the county or for otherwise modifying or supplementing the provisions of this section so as to adapt the constitution of an Education Committee to the needs of the county or of different parts thereof, and for making any supplemental provisions which appear necessary for carrying into effect the scheme, and if the Education Department approve any scheme, without modification or with any modifications agreed to by the Council, the scheme shall have effect as if enacted by this Act, but shall be subject to revocation or alteration by a scheme made in like manner.
  2. 869
  3. (b.) Where a county governing body has been constituted for any county by a scheme made in pursuance of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889, the county governing body shall be the Education Committee for the purposes of this Act, and the County Council acting through that governing body shall be the Education Authority for the county.

MR. W. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

moved that the consideration of the clause be postponed. His object, he said, was to assist the Government in passing the more useful portions of the Measure, as it was perfectly obvious that in the time at their disposal it would be impossible for the Bill as a whole to become law. If his Amendment were successful he intended to move the postponement of Clauses 2 and 3, so that they might at once proceed to the consideration of Clause 4, which dealt with the special aid grant. This was the portion of the Bill which was mentioned in the Queen's Speech and which it was important to deal with. If the grant were increased from 4s. to 6s. or 8s., the authority under which that grant was to be administered would have much more important duties imposed upon it than if it was kept at its present limit of 4s. The argument for an authority to administer the grant would be stronger if the grant was increased. They would have more important duties to deal with. In view of these facts and not at all with the view of delaying the Bill or doing anything likely to harass the Government, he begged to move his Amendment.


The Government are extremely obliged to the hon. Member for his benevolent intentions but they do not take the same view of this matter as he does. They do not think the postponement of the clause is likely to advance the discussion of the Bill. In the opinion of the Government Clause 1 is the most important clause in the Bill. I said so when I introduced the Bill, when the Bill was read a Second time. It was read a Second time by a large majority of the House and I hope the Committee will allow us to proceed to the discussion of this important clause.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said that when the Bill was introduced they understood that the most important part was that relating to the relief of Voluntary Schools, now they were told that the most important clauses were Clause 1 and the two following clauses, which sought to tear to pieces our present educational system and substitute a new one. If that was the attitude of the Government, they must expect not only from the Liberal but from other parts of the House unmitigated and continual opposition to every word of the Bill.


said that he would not have intervened in the discussion but for the extraordinary statement of the Vice President of the Council. He denied that Clause 1 was the most important in the Bill. It did nothing for Voluntary Schools. In the opinion of the Catholic body of this country Clause 1 was a very minor part of the Bill. What the Catholics of this country wanted—and he was authorised to speak for them was—equal and fair treatment for their schools, and Clause 1 gave no such fair treatment. The declaration of the Vice President would carry dismay and alarm to the advocates and defenders of Voluntary Schools. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] As regarded these Schools Clause 1 was a minor matter. His attitude towards the clause would depend on what he learned of the intentions of the Government as to Clause 4. Catholics were willing to give a large measure of popular local control over the Catholic Schools of this country, if Catholic parents were not fined for I sending their children to schools in accordance with their religious convictions. They were prepared in the words of the letter of Cardinal Vaughan published on Wednesday, so far as it was consistent with the maintenance of the religious character of the schools to "trust the people," and invite the inspection and control of the ratepayers of the country. But they demanded, and trusted that they might be able to enforce that demand, that the Catholic parents of the country should not be fined.


The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the question, which is a narrow one—whether Clause 1 should be postponed or not.


said he was only giving reasons why he thought it might be a reasonable course to postpone the clause until they had learned the definite intentions of the Government, as regarded the financial aid they were going to give to the Voluntary Schools—a subject which was now involved in the densest fog.

MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

said the statement of the Vice President would have an important effect on the Debates on the Bill. The view of the right hon. Gentleman as to the importance of Clause 1 was not, he submitted, the view of the Government at the commencement of the Session. It was said that the Bill was to be for the relief of Voluntary Schools. No mention whatever was made of the proposed uprooting of an educational system. While the Government had practically declared that they were going to stand by Clause 4, the Committee might alter materially the provisions of the clause. They were setting up machinery without knowing what power they were going to give under Clause 4. It was only right that they should know what the power of the local authority was to be before that local authority was set up. The whole Bill would not be passed. Then, which part was to be passed and which postponed? He submitted that this clause should be postponed, and that there should be time to pass the clauses that really were important.

MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, S.)

My hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme was well warranted in making this Motion, and in making it he was only following well-established Parliamentary precedents of which one, perhaps the most recent, was set on the occasion of our going into Committee on the Home Rule Bill, when, I remember, the present Secretary of State for the Colonies moved the postponement of the first eight clauses that we might come at once to the retention of the Irish Members, and the right hon. Gentleman proceeded on the same principle on which my hon. Friend has proceeded to-night—that it is desirable with a Measure of great complexity to get at once to the kernel of the Bill, and not occupy, and possibly squander, precious time in the discussion of provisions which are subsidiary and may turn out to be superfluous. I regret very much the perfunctory and somewhat contemptuous manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with this Motion, although my hon. Friend may congratulate himself upon having elicited, in the name of the Government, a most remarkable and, up to this moment, unexpected declaration.


It is exactly what I said on the Second Reading of the Bill.


My recollection does not exactly tally with that of the right hon. Gentleman. If he said so on the Second Reading it is clear he was expressing his own individual opinion and not the opinion of the Government. What was the language of the Queen's Speech? We are entitled to treat that as the authentic mouthpiece of the Government, the authoritative exposition of the intentions of the Government. The Queen's Speech said that— Elementary schools under Voluntary management are a valuable portion of the educational system, and their condition, which in many places is precarious, requires further assistance from public sources. That statement, put into Her Majesty's mouth by her advisers, is the groundwork on which the Bill proceeds. There is no word in the Queen's Speech suggesting the necessity for the decentralisation of authority or any of the provisions which are found in the first and third portions of the Bill. My hon. Friend is well entitled to raise this question, and the answer he has received is to us a most surprising answer. How is it possible for us truthfully and usefully to discuss the composition and constitution of this authority till the Committee has got some kind of a notion what are the functions it is to be clothed with, and, in particular, what are to be its relations to the distribution of the public money, which, under this Bill, is to be given to Voluntary Schools? We have a right to express and record our views on this, which is the very essence of the Bill, the additional aid which the Bill provides for necessitous schools. Many of us are quite prepared to assent to it, subject to what we consider reasonable conditions. Many of us would assent to it who are entirely opposed to these earlier clauses and regard them as a gratuitous and wanton interference with existing machinery. On these grounds we are entitled to say, in the interests of the Bill itself, to facilitate the logical order of discussion and to prevent unnecessary waste of time, the Government would be well advised to accept the proposal to postpone these clauses.

Motion made, and Question put, "That Clause 1 be postponed."—(Mr. William Allen.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 121; Noes, 262.—(Division List, No. 234.)


The next three Amendments are not in order, because they propose to amend words which are not enactive but descriptive. The next Amendment, that of the hon. Member for Carnarvon, is really the substitution of a fresh clause for Clause 1, and cannot be raised here. If Clause 1 is negatived, then the hon. Member may bring his clause up as a new clause. The same remark applies to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Shoreditch, I have pointed out to him that his Amendment is in the wrong place. With regard to the series of Amendments by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, they raise a scheme alternative to that contained in the first clause, and an Amendment which raises an alternative scheme is not properly an Amendment. Therefore, the proper course for the hon. Member to take would be, if this clause is negatived, to bring forward a new clause.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

I would ask, on the point of Order, whether, under those circumstances, it will be now competent for any Member to move to omit Clause 1, Sub-section 1, and, if not, what is the proper place at which to make that Motion?

MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

May I ask on that point whether, if that Motion were made at the present time, it would not exclude a number of Amendments?


That would be so, no doubt If that Motion were made now, Amendments would be excluded.


On the point of Order, Sir, before the Amendments which you refer to are dealt with, I would ask whether I should be in order in moving to insert after the words "County Council" the words "unless two-thirds of its members otherwise decide"?


We have not yet reached that point. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tavistock, that should properly come in as a proviso to the clause, as I pointed out to the hon. Member. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee also stands in the wrong place; there is a clause in this Bill dealing with the date at which the Act is to come into force, and that is the proper place to bring in that Amendment. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Lowestoft making an exception in regard to the county of London, that should be raised as an Amendment to Clause 31, where the exceptions to the Act are dealt with. The Amendment of the hon. Member for South Islington, as I have pointed out to him, should also more properly be raised later. The Amendment of the hon. Member for West Islington is also really a new clause. The same remark applies to the Amendments of the hon. Members for Ipswich, for West Nottingham, and for the Cambridge University.


On the point of Order, Sir, ought not the omission of Clause 1, Sub-section 1, to be moved now?


The purpose of the hon. Member is, I understand, to omit the sub-section with a view of subsequently omitting the whole clause; the proper way is to negative the clause—then it would be open to the hon. Member to move a substitution.


Are we to understand your ruling, Mr. Lowther, as excluding any and every form of alternative proposal to the county authority proposed in the Bill? As I understand your ruling it excludes several Amendments which were expected to be brought before the House, and I should like to know how far we are to interpret your ruling.


I do not like to speak with regard to any Amendments except those I have seen on the Paper. ["Hear, hear!"] In my opinion the Amendments which are now on the Paper before me, and to which I have referred, are of such a character as not to be Amendments to the clause, but suggestions for wholly different machinery. Those matters cannot be introduced as Amendments to a clause because they practically destroy the whole clause by substituting machinery of a totally different character. That can only be done by introducing a new clause.


asked whether this applied to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Jebb), which proposed to submit a scheme to the Education Department.


said that so far as submitting a scheme to the Education Department was concerned that was an Amendment, but he understood the hon. Member did not intend to move it.

*MR. LUTTRELL moved to omit the word "county" from the headline of the clause, and to insert the word "district." He said the object of this Amendment was to substitute district for county. There were great objections, and he sympathised with them—to any interference whatever with the present system under which the Education Department had the control and made the inspection. But if there was to be interference at all, and if there was to be one body responsible for this work, then, if the choice lay between the County Council and the District Council, he contended that the district was better than the county. He based this on two grounds—first, that it was more representative, and second, that it was more in touch with the locality. As to the first point—upon the County Council there was a considerable number of aldermen, one quarter of the whole Council were co-opted aldermen, in no sense representative, in some cases even chosen because they were not representative, they having been rejected as representative councillors were appointed aldermen to reward them for having taken the trouble to stand. On the District Council almost all the councillors were direct representatives of the people. As to the latter point—the District Council was more in touch with the locality. Owing to the distance people had in many instances to travel and to the cost of travelling, it was only those who had much business and much money who could take part on these County Councils. With District Councils this was not the case. A farmer or a working man could more easily attend, and therefore he asserted that on the two grounds, if the choice lay between district or council, the district was preferable. He pointed out to hon. Members who sat around him that this Amendment was only to substitute district for county as the area. There was nothing to prevent having Boards elected ad hoc for educational purposes.


hoped that in the long discussions which they would have on this Bill, Members of the Committee would not mistake brevity on his part for discourtesy; he was most desirous of treating every suggestion made by the Committee with proper consideration—["hear, hear!"]—but he should endeavour to make his remarks as terse and brief as he could. This was an Amendment which the Government could not possibly accept, as it would destroy the whole intention and scope of the Bill. The hon. Member had carefully abstained from telling the Committee how many of these District Councils there were. There were upwards of 1,000 rural district councils, to say nothing of the number of urban District Councils, while the number of County Councils dealt with by the Bill was 120 or 130. He confessed he should be glad if out of all the numerous areas they had been able to find a more satisfactory one than, the county, but under the circumstances the only educational area was the county. They therefore had adopted the recommendation made that the county should be the unit for educational purposes. The suggestion that the duties of the Education Department should devolve on District Councils of five members was a proposal so monstrous—if the Committee would forgive him for saying so—["hear, hear!"]—that he did not think he should be justified in taking up the time of the Committee further on the subject. This was an Amendment which he was sorry to say he could not accept.

* SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said no one could be more opposed to this clause than he was. He differed from the view of making the county the authority—of placing the county in the position of the Education Department; but he did not see how they could substitute the District Council unless his hon. Friend produced a series of other Amendments. Unless that was done it would not be workable. There were a good many School Boards which were not confined to one district, and he knew of one Board which extended into two counties, and if they substituted district for county without proper arrangements to deal with the case the whole thing would be unworkable. The same objection applied, in a certain degree, to the Government Bill. He did not know whether that point had met with attention. He did not know whether there were many School Boards of the kind he had referred to—Boards which extended to more than one county. He regarded this as a difficulty in the way of the Amendment which applied to the Government Bill itself. No provision had been put in dealing with a school authority which had to deal with more than one district. This was a matter which ought to be dealt with by the Government. If his hon. Friend would deal in some way with this difficulty he should support him.


said that the points referred to by the right hon. Baronet would be revised by subsequent Amendments and this proposal if combined with other proposals appearing on the Paper—if it got rid of the utterly preposterous and premature devolution powers of the Education Department—if it got rid of the small School Boards—he thought the Amendment was one of first class importance and they were quite entitled to deal with the arguments which bore on the elementary education part of the question, and leave secondary education, whether the question of devolution was to be included or not. They contended that in that district they got the necessary authority. The county authority would not be able to deal with local wants. In the District Councils they would get men to go about and see what the actual features of school work were and form their own impression, and see whether they were to be carried out or not. That was an important issue to be raised. They were entitled to contend that the county authority was entirely too large to carry out administrative work. He spoke as the representative of a rural district. The first object of an Education Bill should be to organise and perfect the case of isolated schools that they had in those districts. He thought that the Bill, as he recognised and admitted on the First Reading, was an attempt to go in that direction, a stroke of real Statesmanship. He gave the Amendment his hearty support.

* SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

considered that this was an important Amendment. Take his own county as an illustration. One end was entirely English and the other end entirely Welsh. It was 50 miles long. The Welsh part really would not understand and could not possibly be in touch with the wants of the English part, and they proposed under this clause to give this County Council, appointed for entirely different purposes, the enormous power of controlling the whole education of the county. No doubt it would be necessary to follow up this Amendment by other Amendments. But because he believed that this Amendment had very fairly and clearly raised the principle for which he had already contended, he should, if his hon. Friend went to a Division, follow him into the Lobby.


said, as he understood the scheme of the Bill, it proposed that certain powers now exercised by the Education Department under the Act of 1870 should be delegated to the educational authorities. It appeared to him that the authority representing a small area was not the most suitable for the discharge of administrative and departmental functions. But when they came to the other duties they found things wearing quite a different character. Take Clause 2— the duties of school attendance committees. He should be glad to have a larger area even than the county, but how then would they constitute their school attendance committee? He suggested the case of Wales. They would have to provide smaller bodies than County Councils for the local duties.

MR. B. B. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

said he had been convinced by what had been said of the difficulty which surrounded this matter. It was quite evident that this Amendment was only put forward as the first of a series of Amendments, which would be consequential one upon the other. It was plain that some attempt would be made to separate elementary from secondary education—["hear, hear!"]—as regarded their treatment under the Bill. If once they could treat the Amendment as one dealing with elementary education, he felt there were very great advantages in taking the district council in place of the county council. The county council, or the education committee of the county council, was not a body which could deal properly with all the matters which would devolve upon it. Not only was it elected for various purposes, but it was difficult for its members to be got together. ["Hear, hear!"] But there were other considerations besides those which had been urged which made him think the Amendment was a useful one. For one thing, it would get rid of the whole difficulty as regarded the representation of women upon the body which controlled education. Taking everything together—taking the fact that the district council system was a better representative one than the county council system, that the district council area was a more local area, and more calculated to be effective for the purpose of enforcing school attendance, and that they would get over the difficulty with regard to the representation of women upon these committees—he thought a strong case had been made out for the Amendment.

SIR W. HART-DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

thought the clause was admirably drafted, and very properly put faith in the administrative capacity of the men who now did the county business. The Local Government Act itself indicated that this very duty was to be delegated with other duties to the county councils; but this Amendment would cast a stigma upon the members of those bodies, for it would declare it was not possible or easy to find a body of men in each county who could undertake the proposed educational duties. It was said a county was too large an area for one of the new educational bodies to have. It was part and parcel of the scheme, however, that the county council should have ramifications by which they could cover their whole district; and one of their first duties would be to frame a scheme and submit it to the Education Department.


said it was quite true that the Local Government Act of 1888 contemplated certain educational duties being handed over to county councils. Those duties had been already handed over, inasmuch as county councils had been given the control of technical education. County councils, however, were in his opinion, most unsuitable bodies to do school board work, especially school attendance work. District councils were much better able to look after the work of a school, or of several schools, than county councils, who were not in any way representative of the parents. Many members being elected simply because they were almost the only people who could attend at the county town and give time to the work of the council. Besides that, there was a great objection to co-opted aldermen. This Amendment would give direct representatives direct control over the educational system of the future. Under the Amendment there would be real decentralisation, which he feared was not the object of the Government. He trusted the Government would reconsider their decision in respect to the present proposal.


asked whether it was contemplated to make any arrangements by which the work of the school attendance committees under the Act of 1870 should be performed by those bodies who at present performed them.


supported the Amendment because he regarded the county too large for the purpose of local supervision and control over elementary schools, and too small for the purpose of the work of the Education Department. An ideal system in his opinion was that there should be a central education department supervising the whole of education, that there should be provincial education departments in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and that the country should, for educational purposes, be divided into districts. Demands had been made in recent times for the delegation of the powers of the Education Department to County Councils. It was true that some County Councils, while condemning the Bill, had expressed approval of the proposed transfer of educational powers to them; but it would not be found that before the introduction of the Bill any County Council had asked for such powers to be conferred on them. It would be infinitely better, for many reasons to have District Council control than County Council over elementary education.


said a question had been asked as to the intention of the Government, in regard to Sub-section 2 of Clause 2. It had been always intended that the powers given to the new educational authority could be exercised by means of delegation; and if that was not clear from the sub-section as it stood it would be made clear when the sub-section was reached.

MR. D. F. GODDARD (Ipswich)

thought the better course would be to postpone the consideration of the clause until the powers of the new body were known. There was no doubt that if they wanted efficient control of elementary education they must have a smaller area than the county, which was too large and cumbersome for such a purpose. The County Councils had already got their hands full of work; and if they were given new duties they could not possibly discharge them unless they relegated them to some other authority over which the people would, perhaps, have no control at all.


said that not alone were the County Councils already overworked, but, apart from that objection, the county, with its scattered population, was altogether unsuited as an educational area. The members of the new authority ought to be in touch with the feelings of the people in the matter of education, and that was impossible in a large area like the county.


said that if this was a Bill dealing with secondary education alone, much might be said in favour of county areas. They had the experience of Wales in regard to the control of secondary education by the County Councils. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that in Wales the County Councils had already plenty of educational work. The Government now proposed to hand over the management of elementary schools to the County Councils, and while he was confident that the County Councils would be able to discharge that duty, so far as intelligent ignorance went—and that was said to be an important consideration in a matter of that kind—he did not think they would have the time or the energy to do the work efficiently. Of course, if the County Councils could delegate their educational work to the District Committees it would be a solution of the difficulty.

* SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said the Durham County Council had declined, if they could possibly decline—the honour the Bill proposed to confer on them, he believed by 27 votes to nine. No County Council had token more care of the appropriation of the money voted to them for technical education than the Durham Council, but they did not want to have the charge of the elementary schools as well. He thought the speeches of the Vice President were too short—a complaint that was not often heard in the House. The right hon. Gentleman had not told them what the delegation was to be, nor to whom it was to be made. A different view would be taken of the Amendment if it were made plain that the County Councils could delegate the charge of the elementary schools to the District Councils or some other body; but the proposal to hand over the control of the elementary schools to the County Councils would, in practice, soon turn out a failure.

MR. A. H. D. ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)

said they could not take up the position that secondary and elementary education naturally went together. They thought that for the purposes of elementary education the County Council was the wrong authority. They thought that the powers proposed to be given to the County Councils ought not to be given to them for the purposes of elementary education; the authority which was much nearer home was certainly the much more satisfactory authority. [Cheers.] In regard to technical education and secondary education the case might be different, for this education applied to a smaller number of young people; but as far as elementary education went the District Council, which was a truly representative body, was, in his opinion, the proper authority to have charge of it. It was perfectly well known that if this power in regard to elementary education were handed over to County Councils it would be impossible, in many counties, for the members of the Council to travel backwards and forwards in order to carry on the duties of an educational authority. Whatever the delegation might be the responsibility must rest on the educational authority. They could not by delegation relieve that body of the great responsibility under the Bill in reference to elementary education. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

said the discussion had illustrated the difficulties that would be encountered in trying to do away with the School Boards. ["Hear, hear!"] The Vice President had not attempted to deny that great difficulties would arise through the County Councils having to carry out the work of elementary education. The necessity imposed on members of many County Councils of having to travel from one part of the county to the other involved great expense, and this disadvantage had been complained of again and again. The imposition of this educational work on the Councils would largely increase that expense. In England County Councils were not often representative of the people, and in no case were they so representative as the District Councils. ["Hear, hear!"] Among other things it was proposed the County Councils should do, was the work of the Attendance Committees, but here he understood the Vice President to say that when they came to Clause 2 he would propose something in the nature of delegatory power, whereby the County Councils would be relieved of the work attaching to those Committees. Hitherto, in places where there was no School Board, this work had been done almost entirely—and, speaking generally, had been done well—by the Boards of Guardians, and it was the fact that those bodies all over the country had petitioned against the work being taken from them. Moreover, if the work of the School Attendance Committees was to be delegated by the County Councils to some other body, then they would all the more lose the principle of representation. ["Hear, hear!"] So far did the desire of the Government go to prevent real representation, that when they came to Wales, where the County Councils did their work well, they, for some reason or other, said that in Wales the County Council should not be the educational authority at all, but that another authority would be set up later on in the Bill. For the effective management of Elementary Schools, the County Councils covered much too large an area, and he thought the Government would do wisely in the interest of the Bill itself if they allowed the management of the Elementary Schools to be placed in the hands of these bodies which were directly interested in the localities, and upon which the parents themselves had a voice, namely, the District Councils. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

said that the District Council might not be the very best authority for carrying out the objects of the Bill, but it was certainly a better body for the purpose in question than the County Council. In his own county he had had the privilege of working on the Technical Education Committee of the County Council, and that Committee was obliged to meet fortnightly in order to do its work properly. It was obvious that there must be great difficulty in getting members to attend Committees from all parts of the county. Already the County Councils had their hands full, and if this additional work was placed upon them, he was quite satisfied that it could not be properly done. The matter had been discussed among the County Councils, and there was a general objection against this educational work being imposed upon them.

* MR. H. E. KEARLEY (Devonport)

said the objection which had been urged against placing elementary education in the hands of District Councils, namely, that the area was too small, was rather in favour of the work being placed on those bodies than otherwise. Whether that were so or not, there was no overcoming the fact that if this smaller area were adopted, the educational work would be under the immediate control of the parents, who would, therefore, feel a greater interest in it. ["Hear, hear!"] With regard to school attendance, he was perfectly certain that District Councils would be more effective bodies than the County Councils to superintend that part of the work. The labours of the County Councils were already very heavy, and were likely to still further increase, and for that reason alone he thought the District Councils would be the better bodies to undertake the management of elementary education, especially as they had more time at their disposal.


said he should support the Amendment. As one who had had considerable experience of both County and District Councils, he had no hesitation in saying that most of the County Councils, especially in agricultural counties, had quite sufficient work to do at the present time, and that in these circumstances to impose upon them the additional work in reference to elementary education would be most unwise. He supported the Amendment, also, because the District Councils were more representative, and because it was impossible, especially in large agricultural counties, for anyone to become a member of these Councils unless he was a person of considerable means. What was wanted was that the parents of the children should have some controlling voice in elementary education work, which they could not have in the County Councils. Reference had been made to the amount of travelling expenses which members of many County Councils had to incur in carrying out their duties. If, when the Act establishing County Councils was passed, the travelling expenses of members had been provided for, there might have been a better system of representation of the people provided on these bodies, but the Act was now the law, and therefore the point could not at present be dealt with. The moment that this work was relegated to County Councils he feared it would create divisions of the most serious nature, lead to much acrimony, and do much to destroy their effectiveness for the good county work they were now able to do successfully, and with profit and advantage to the people. As between County Councils and District Councils there was an advantage in handing over education to the District Council, because the people were more closely in contact with the wants and requirements of the district. In ordinary agricultural districts, the Council meetings and chief Committee meetings were held on the market day, and he had seen the greatest difficulty in adequately discharging the business of the day in order to enable the members to attend to their other duties in the town. If they added to all this the further question of education, it would raise difficulties of the most serious kind, all sorts of party prejudice and passions, and they would, by throwing in this apple of discord, place education in jeopardy, and in some cases destroy these Councils for the good work they had hitherto done. He supported the Amendment, because of the two the District Council was much more preferable for the work to be done than the County Council.

* MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)

thought it was necessary, after what had been said about County Councils, that someone who had an acquaintance with the majority of County Councils, as represented by the County Councils Association, should say a few words. It was quite true, as had been stated, that one or two County Councils had signified their unwillingness to undertake that portion of the duties assigned to them under the Bill that related to elementary education. He was not aware that any County Council had signified its unwillingness to under take the duties which had relation to secondary education. He thought it would be little short of an absurdity if, by putting in District Councils in this clause, they were to give to District Councils for the first time duties with regard to higher education, and thereby, of necessity, take away from the County Councils the duties they had so well performed for the last five years in respect of a greater portion of secondary education. Although hon. Gentlemen opposite might find it convenient, for the purposes of this discussion, to separate the two subjects of elementary and higher education, he would remind the Committee that they were not separated in this clause, and if they were to decide that the District Council should be what the Government had called the paramount educational authority, they would be dealing a very severe blow to the interests of higher education. He did not think that hon. Gentlemen who were at all conversant with local government would contend that, if there was to be any devolution on a local authority from the Education Department, that devolution ought to be on a smaller body than was represented in the County Council. The Secondary Education Commission did not altogether exclude the questions that might arise with regard to elementary education, because they expressly proposed to give to the secondary authority the supervision of all evening schools which were at present recognised as a branch of elementary education. If they had any doubt in the matter at all, their doubt was entirely as to whether it was not advantageous, from the point of view of education, to combine some of these county authorities together. He knew that many County Councils had very serious misgivings, at least, as to whether they could carry out the school attendance branch of their duties, and he had put Amendments down, when they came to the sub-section, to limit the duties of County Councils to the supervision of school attendance and fixing of the standard of exemption. It was said that County Councils were unsuitable bodies to intrust with the local management of Elementary Schools. But the Bill did not propose to do that. The tenth clause obliged them to delegate the local management of every school which might come under their control. It was only general powers of supervision and jurisdiction which it was proposed to give to County Councils, and he thought the Committee would be making a great mistake if they substituted for that authority, certainly none too large for the supervision of education, an authority like the District Council, who would not perform the duties in respect of the higher branches of education or the supervision of elementary education with such efficiency as they could be performed by the County Councils.

EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)

said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had set them all right, but he had overlooked the speeches which had been made on that side of the House, and especially the speech of the hon. Member who introduced the Amendment, and who made it perfectly clear that the alteration of District for County Council was only to affect the elementary authorities. He should like to state that the County Council of the West Riding had passed, irrespective of party, one resolution approving of the Bill so far as concerned the provisions with respect to the control and supervision of technical and secondary education, and a second resolution stating that they did not approve of the proposal to transfer to County Councils the duties associated with the administration and supervision of the Elementary Education Act. He could not but comment upon the extraordinary silence of the Vice President. He had refused this Amendment, and had told them that at some future period he was going to introduce a delegation for the——


said that what he said was that it was the intention of the Government that the powers given under the clause constituting the education authority should be exercised by delegation, and that if it was not quite clear, if there was any doubt about it, when they came to the clause he would consider any Amendments with the object of making the intention of the Government clear.


A delegation clause which affects school attendance.


Only the attendance.


So that what it comes to is that the right hon. Gentleman proposes at some period or other to delegate something to some authority or other which he does not indicate.


That is not a fair representation of what happened. What happened was this: a question was asked me upon the intentions of the Government with reference to a future clause which I had grave doubts as to whether I should be in order in discussing. I got up and gave an answer, and it is not fair of the noble Lord to represent that as the only answer I have given.


had no wish to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, whose explanation he accepted. But he had refused to substitute the District for the County Councils, and had given no reason whatever for such refusal. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would enlighten them a little bit as to why he would not accept the District Council, after all the speeches that had been made, instead of County Council. The District Council was, in his opinion, a much better body than the County Council for this purpose.


thought there would be a practical agreement that with regard to elementary education the District Councils were the better body and for secondary education the County Councils. For elementary education it was obvious there must be a body conversant with the local facts of the village for which that education was required. Could anyone contend that the County Council for a large rural area was competent to deal with elementary education for an outlying district? With regard to secondary education, when there were perhaps only three or four or five secondary schools in a county, surely in that case the County Council was the better body to look after the matter. Under these circumstances he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not make some concession on these lines: that the County Council should look after secondary education, and that with regard to elementary education the matter should not be relegated to a central body which had already too much to do, but should be relegated to a local body that was in touch with the needs of the locality, and better able to perform the business.


observed that two main objections were urged against the Bill as it now stood. The first was that the County Councils, or many of them, were unwilling to take upon themselves the responsibility imposed upon them by this clause, and the second was that they would find the greatest difficulty in doing the work, because of the extent of the areas with which they would have to deal. There was another difficulty. One strong ground of objection to the Measure as it at present stood was that it was proposed to confer large powers on a body that was to a large extent non-elective, and which, in so far as it was elective, was not elective for the purposes of this Bill. The proposal to confer these powers on District Councils, to a certain extent, met that objection, because District Councils were wholly elective. Many on that side would prefer that the education authority should be not merely an elective authority, but one elected ad hoc. If they could not, however, attain that, the next best thing was to give the power to a body which was wholly elective. The promoters of this Measure attached great importance to the principle of devolution. In order successfully to carry out that principle two things appeared to him to be needful. First of all, they must have local interest in the bodies on whom they proposed to confer these powers, and in the next place they must have confidence reposed in those bodies. It seemed to him they were far more likely to have those two things in the case of the District Council than they were in the case of the County Council; which was a far off body, which did not fully represent the people, and which in many parts of the country had not secured the confidence of the electors.


had no particular affection for the scheme laid down in the Bill, but to adopt the Amendment would rob the Measure of what worth it had in his opinion. He most strenuously opposed the delegation of the powers of the Education Department to an authority less competent, and covering a smaller area than that of the County Council. One of the most objectionable features in the present system of education had been the administration of small School Boards, yet the Amendment before the Committee suggested that these evils should be stereotyped by setting up the District Council as the authority. During the Second Reading Debates they heard a good deal from the other side as to the objection of School Boards to some supervising authority such as the County Council. But the proposal now was not to put the County Council as the authority, but to make the smaller authority with less power the controlling authority over the School Boards. If the Government had ventured to propose such a thing every supporter of the School Boards throughout the country would have risen in arms against them for having suggested such an absurdity as that the District Councils should be the supervising authority over the School Board, instead of the County Council. Every lover of education would agree it was essential that one and the same authority should have control over primary and secondary education. Had not there been great waste of money and effort by a number of existing authorities having control over education, and was it not desirable, now that the opportunity offered, that one authority should have the control over both primary and secondary education? Yet the proposal now before them was to have the District Council for primary education to supervise the School Boards, and that the County Council should be the authority for secondary education. He felt it was desirable also, in the interests of the ratepayers, that the cost should be spread over the widest possible area. There would be power given to the new authority to incur certain expenditure, and it was most essential, in the interests of the ratepayers, that the cost should be equally distributed over the widest possible area. He largely preferred the County Council area to the District Council area, and he, therefore, opposed the Amendment.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

remarked that the Bill and the clause they were now discussing were practically based upon the theory that the centralised State authority had become over-worked, beaurocratic, and complex in every one of its operations, and to get over that difficulty they were to devolve certain work from the central authority to the County Council. They (the Opposition) asked that the Government should go a bit further, and if they were going to interfere with the School Board system at all, they had better get over the difficulty suggested by the hon. Member for North-West Ham, not by sneering at District Councils, not by intensifying the work of the County Councils, but by following the excellent example of Scotland, and if the centralised State authority could not deal with education, then "devolute" in fact and reality by establishing an elected School Board in every parish, against which none of the arguments could be directed that had been directed either against the County or District Council. He was surprised at the hon. Member who had last spoken identifying himself with anything which would detract from the interest that parents, and especially electors would have in the local education authority as to the education of their children. He was under the impression that in the rural localities which required education the most, they would get it the least if centralised County Councils, swelled up with squires, farmers, and local magnates had either the distribution of the fund or the administration and the determination of the curriculum. He was positively convinced of this, that if the hon. Member for North-West Ham had been consistent in his proposition, he ought to have put down an Amendment on the Paper to have a School Board in every parish, and where the parishes were small, a group of four or five could have a School Board amongst them. The hon. Member had urged as a reason why the District Councils should not have control over elementary education, that there had been a large waste of public money, a large dissipation of energy, and much overlapping, due to the fact that so many authorities had dealt with education. That was perfectly true, but what was the reason? The reason of it was the instinctive distrust on the part of the framers of the Bill, and the hands behind it, of their educational system; the reason was because every School Board had, unfortunately, been made a clerical cock-pit for ecclesiastics to wrangle over fundamental differences. That was partly why the Bill was introduced. He ventured to say if the County Councils, over-worked as they were, had control of education in local centres, that would be much better catered for by local School Boards, and in their absence, by grouped District Councils. Such districts would practically get very little of that education which, under either a District Council or representative School Board, they would get much better than would be given them under this Bill. He objected to this clause because it proposed to give the control of education to the County Councils, simply because they were County Councils. The area of County Council jurisdiction might be well fitted for the control of roads, bridges, drains, and tramways, but it certainly was not fitted for the control of education. He intended to emphasise this point because the principle, or rather the want of principle, was at the bottom of hundreds of Amendments to this Bill that had been placed upon the Paper, and he intended to lay his objections to the proposals of the clause before the Committee, notwithstanding the impatience of those few hon. Gentlemen who did not like School Boards. There was but little, if any, demand on the part of County Councils to any share in the control of elementary education, and it would not be long before they would protest against these extra duties being imposed upon them. The duties arising out of the control of education were precisely those which the County Councils could not properly discharge, because they ought to be discharged by a local body. Ideally, education ought to be carried out by the fathers and mothers of the children, and if they could not discharge the duties of their position, those duties ought to be discharged by the next best persons—namely, their neighbours and friends, or, more properly speaking, by the localities who know the characters and idiosyncracies of the children. That, at all events, was his view of the matter. He was judging by his own experience. If hon. Members opposite did not have good fathers and mothers that was their misfortune—he did. Failing the ideal educational authority—the parent—it was not necessary to go higher up than the local community in which the children were situated. Therefore, failing the School Board, they ought not to go higher up than the District Councils. The right hon. Gentleman had been studiously brief in his explanation of this clause. It was quite possible that in a small county like Rutland, the County Council might be intrusted with the control of certain branches of education, but it would be impossible in the cases of large counties such as Lancashire, Yorkshire and Norfolk, the County Councils of which were already overworked. They had been told by the right hon. Gentleman that he desired to put himself in accord with the criticisms which had been passed upon the proposals in the Bill by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, but in that case he wished to point out to the right hon. Gentleman how absurd it was to attempt to transfer to the County Councils the work of the School Boards. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he desired that school attendance should be placed under the control of the School Attendance Committees. But the duty in connection with school attendance was not the only one that required minute daily investigation on the part of some local body. There was the duty of the supervision of the sanitary condition of the school buildings, of seeing that the staff did not go wrong, and of considering the case of the aggrieved parent. It was impossible for the County Council to be in close touch with the latter. There was another point to which he desired to call attention. Unfortunately, the County Councils had become political in their character, and it would be most disastrous if education were to be mixed up with politics as well as with religion. In his opinion the proposal in this clause to transfer this authority to the County Council was an ingenious device on the part of the promoters of the Bill for keeping all share in the control of education out of the hands of the poor man. He was glad to say that at the present time there were in this country some 500 or 600 working men who had been elected to serve upon the School Boards, especially in the smaller towns and in the rural districts. If the powers of the School Boards were transferred to the County Councils, upon which the working men were not represented, the confidence of the working men in our educational system would be permanently destroyed. It would have been better, in his opinion, if this clause had been withdrawn for a time in order that the Government might have had an opportunity of reconsidering it. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that whereas at present the numbers of educational authorities in the country was 123, if the powers in question were to be transferred to the District Councils, that number would be increased to 1,000, a number which he characterised as being unnecessary and superfluous. But why was it that Scotland produced the best artisans, how was it that our best captains of industry came from that country, and why was it that so many Scotchmen occupied seats upon both the front Benches in that House? It was because Scotland had had thousands of School Boards during the last two centuries, and that the education given was not interfered with by ecclesiastical bigots as was the case in London. In Scotland they had believed in the parish authority as the local educational authority. Next to Germany Scotland had one of the best educational systems in the world. The transference of the control of education to the County Councils meant the centralisation of the power and the destruction of local education in the best sense of the term. He should, therefore, vote against the proposal in the clause, not only once, but often.

* SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down overlooked the fact that under Clause 10 the County Councils could delegate the management of schools to the local authorities. On the other hand the proposal was quite inconsistent with the 3rd Clause. He hoped that the Committee would support the Bill as it stood.


said that if they omitted the word "county" it would be open to the Vice President of the Council to say that there should be some other local body which they were all pressing for so much to attend to elementary education. He for one was not wedded very much to District Councils. He had taken it as the only alternative they had at this moment. He asked the Vice President whether he would allow the delegation of control over elementary education to some locally-elected body. If School Boards were to dwindle away under the Bill—[cries of "No!"]—the parents of the children should constitute by election the bodies to have charge of the elementary schools, as the School Boards had now to a certain extent. But how much power and what authority would the Vice President delegate away from the County Council?


replied that his objection to the Amendment was stated when the Amendment was moved. By that objection he stood. He had nothing to add. Those who were not in the House at the time he stated it would read it in the newspapers to-morrow morning. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] In answer to the hon. Baronet who had just spoken, the county authority was not created for the purpose of carrying out the details of elementary education, which would be carried out by School Boards and Voluntary School managers, the county authority exercising a general supervision over it. If the Committee were not willing to give delegated powers to the County Council, he had no other body to which he wished to delegate them. He thought the County Council was the proper body. The Bill explained the nature of the authority to be given to it. That authoirity would be amply discussed in detail. The Government were open to any modification or amendment that the wisdom of the Committee might determine upon, but the County Council was the authority the Government would ask the Committee to assent to, and it was the only authority they proposed.

Question put: "That the word 'county' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 298; Noes, 125.—(Division List, No. 235.)

*SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.) moved after the word "council" to insert the words "and every council of a municipal borough." He said his Amendment raised an important question, in which there was much interest and also much feeling; and its effect was to substitute for county boroughs, i. e., boroughs having a population of 50,000 and upwards, the whole, or at least most, of the boroughs as local education authorities. He did not move it in a spirit hostile to the Bill, the municipal principles of which he heartily approved, and he had, in fact, long before the Bill was heard of, given evidence before the Royal Commission on Secondary Education in favour of making the municipalities, acting through statutorily independent Committees, the local education authorities, and the present clause entirely commended itself to the corporations. He assured himself of the sympathetic consideration of the Vice President, and he would, of course, listen to any suggestion in favour of the non-county boroughs, and, on the other hand, he might assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Municipal Corporations' Association, consisting of both county and non-county boroughs, which had fully discussed this subject, and knew well the circumstances of all the towns, were unanimous in regarding the distinction made between the two classes of boroughs as wrong in principle and one which it was meant to attack and destroy, if possible. The Bill was based on the localisation of education as its central principle. Why, then, limit this decentralisation by a population line and one which was purely arbitrary? That it was so was shown by the fact that in the Local Government Bill of 1888, the line first drawn between county and non-county boroughs was double what was ultimately passed, for it was proposed to fix it at 100,000, but it was reduced to 50,000; and even then it was neither uniformly nor universally applied, for several towns with less than 50,000 inhabitants, e.g., Canterbury, Chester, Exeter, Lincoln and Worcester, were made County Councils (upon the practically obsolete pretext that they were counties in themselves), and they would, therefore, under the Bill, be education authorities. Now who could consistently vindicate this fact—that Canterbury with 23,000 and Chester with 37,000 populations, would be so, while two towns most notable educationally, namely, Cheltenham with 47,500 and its great schools for both boys and girls, and Cambridge with 37,000 would be the reverse? Moreover, inroads had been made in the county-borough clause of the Local Government Act of 1888 in many directions, and to-night he meant to try to finally breach it. Not one but several population lines had been drawn—e.g., while in the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 the limit in new boroughs for a separate police system was 20,000, in the Act of 1888 the standard of even old ones was reduced to 10,000, for police and for the appointment of coroners, analysts, etc. Again, in the transfer of local powers by other Bills, he himself had obtained several concessions, while in the Light Railways Bill now before the House, the line of power for construction and working was drawn at 10,000 inhabitants. And, from the first enactment of the county-borough line at 50,000, it had been a source of friction between Town and County Councils, of constant irritation and ill-feeling, and of detriment to the interests of both, and, if this feeling were to be aggravated by the present Bill it would be a great disadvantage to the cause of education which no one had more at heart, for both individual and national and material and commercial reasons, than himself. The true distinction between town and county lay in the difference between borough life and organisation, in the long continuity of municipal experience in the former, in the fact that the towns were centres of thought and action as compared with the placidity of rural existence, in the variety of civic conditions,—all of which were the bases of the autonomy of the boroughs, which gained it by conflict and sacrifice, which retained it under the first Municipal Act, and which was confirmed to them, and each of them, as of right under the Municipal Act of 1882. It was all this, not comparative population, which logically was only an accident and not of the essence of the problem, which really explained the migration of the labourers into the towns, just as it was centuries of experience in local government and of historical traditions which made the boroughs the precedent and example for the extension of local self-government to the counties, and it was not to be expected that borough councils would now submit to the predominance of other bodies, which were the creations comparatively of only yesterday. The boroughs, moreover, were competent, and the best judges of their own local interests and wants, and he asked could such a County Council as that for the West Riding, sitting at such an agricultural centre as Wakefield, and composed very largely of rural members, know better than Keighley, where he knew by personal experience such splendid facilities for technical and other secondary education had been established by local initiative and efforts; or Batley or Dewsbury themselves, what were their own educational and industrial requirements, and how they would be best and most efficiently supplied? Why, then, had the Government thus tried to differentiate the non-county from the county boroughs? Was it because the number of the education authorities would otherwise be unduly increased; and, if so, did they not overlook the facts that the problem only became one of more organisation, that the Local Government Board dealt successfully with an infinitely greater number of local areas, and that variety and elasticity were two of the things which ought to be chiefly kept in view in any educational system? Or, was it that the boroughs were to be kept chained to the counties in order to help to pull rural education out of the slough into which it had been permitted to fall, to the great prejudice of the agricultural industry in this country as compared with others, such as Denmark, which were our great competitors, the competition being based on better primary and secondary education, and upon a wider knowledge of the application of science and co-operation to agriculture? If so, while he most heartily sympathised with every effort to improve rural education, which was one object of this Bill, he protested against the unjust prejudice to boroughs, which, having regard to their position and opportunities, ought rather to be the educational, as they were the intellectual, centres of the less advanced rural districts which surrounded them. And the House was not without actual experience for its guidance. The boroughs, so far from being open to distrust, had already done great educational work, and done it well. Under the Technical Instruction and Customs' and Excise Acts, none of them, except one in an exceptional position, where other resources largely existed, had used their windfall from whiskey to relieve the rates instead of devoting it to secondary education. Nottingham—perhaps our best example of municipal education, though one which was vastly eclipsed by foreign competing centres, as by Strasbourg, where, since the war of 1870 a College eight times as large as that at Nottingham had been built at a cost of over half a million, and with an endowment of nearly a hundred thousand a year,—not only showed what our municipalities could and would do, but by its example had stirred the spirits of towns which were much smaller than itself, which had shown by their work that there was no real instruction between county and non-county boroughs based merely on the test of population, and which had grown, and would grow, in educational enterprise. Thus, in Lancashire, while the county boroughs had raised, by direct rating, for educational purposes, £8,000 per annum, the non-county boroughs, with a less population, had collected £10,000. He showed in detail from the cases of Colchester (where marine biological work was being done), Doncaster, Faversham, Nelson, Chesterfield and Dover, what excellent educational work had been done by non-county boroughs, and also cited the exemplary case of Worcester, which, though technically a county borough, had less than 50,000 inhabitants, and was therefore available as an example of what the smaller boroughs had done for public instruction; and he pointed out that in their co-ordination and grading of schools, in their practical work and industrial training, and in the improvement of the qualifications and remuneration of teachers—and if we wanted to make our teaching good we must elevate our teachers—the very lines of the present Bill had been anticipated by some of these and other comparatively small towns. For instance, Luton, a borough of some 30,000 inhabitants, presented the very best instance of the value and success of technical education. It had lost its trade—the straw plait and hat industry, a bye-trade of depressed agriculture—owing to the competition of Switzerland and Italy. With great difficulty, owing to the defects of primary instruction, the people were convinced by the Corporation that the remedy lay in technical and scientific knowledge and in the adoption of the best and newest methods and processes of manufacture. This was effected, and now Luton was exporting to Germany hats made in England, while the wages of its workpeople had been increased by 100 per cent. Why and how? Because of local knowledge of its own wants; and was all this local work to be endangered, and perhaps strangled, by administration from a distant county town, and by the County instead of a Town Council, which could have no special knowledge of the varying conditions of the boroughs scattered throughout the county? Unfortunately, too, the boroughs had other, and not encouraging, experience of County Council administration, and this led them to resist further absorption and merger in the counties. There had been financial friction ever since the Act of 1888, and this must not be increased. Let them look at the County Council administration of the Technical Instruction and Customs' Acts. He was told that some Councils, like that of Kent, had established its own county agricultural school, in which Dover had no real interest, and had deducted part of Dover's proportion of the technical instruction grant in order to help to pay for it. Lancashire was also said to have set up its own schools, and paid only the balance of the grant to Wigan and other boroughs, after deducting a proportion of it for the support of the County schools. Other Councils, with doubtful legality, had annexed conditions to the payment of the grant, such as that of their levying the penny rate; while some boroughs had never got the grant at all, though they had done their educational duty and borne the cost and burden of it. Was the House going to aggravate this by the present proposal, and by depriving, under Clause 3 of the Bill, boroughs which had done such excellent public work of their existing right to deal directly with the Education Department, and by sinking them in the counties, instead, rather, of giving them directly their own share of the technical education grant and the control and administration of it? Verily, with such a Bill, their last state would be worse than the first. Therefore, he moved his Amendment to improve and carry out the very principle of the Bill, the localisation of public education; he sought to utilise, for public instruction, the experience and enterprise of the boroughs, and to maintain their desire for autonomy; and the results of their action in the past gave the House and the nation the fullest assurance that confidence might safely be reposed in their due administration of what was a great educational trust. [Cheers.]


assured the hon. Member that the Government was quite conscious of the excellent educational work done by the municipal boroughs. They were also most anxious to preserve municipal independence and he thought the clauses of the Bill supplied ample evidence of the care which they had taken to preserve it. He could not, however, accept the present Amendment, because it would be difficult, if not impossible, to make every municipal borough an independent educational authority. The chief difficulty in the way of the acceptance of the proposal arose from the enormous number of independent educational authorities which would be created. Under the Bill as it stood there would be 128 authorities of the kind. He thought that number already too large, and hoped that it would be reduced by the exercise of the power of combination. The Chairman of the Lancashire County Council had told him that the Council had great hopes that the smaller county boroughs would throw in their lot with the county authorities. He had heard, also, that a great many of the Welsh counties were anxious to combine. One hundred and twenty-eight being the maximum number of independent educational authorities under the Bill, the effect of accepting the Amendment would be to add to that number 241 more authorities of the kind. But they would not be able to stop there, for populous urban districts would claim to be treated like municipal boroughs, and he calculated that at least 49 of these districts would have to be added to the number. The total number of separate authorities with whom the Education Department would have to deal would then be 418. This increase of number constituted one of his objections to the Amendment. His second objection had been well stated by the Secondary Education Commission, who decided that the only area which they could recommend was the area of counties and county boroughs. He would not repeat the arguments which had led the Commissioners to that conclusion, and which were fully set out in their report. Another reason that induced him to prefer the plan adopted in the Bill was that local taxation accounts had been given to the County Councils, and that a great deal had already been done with the money. Technical Instruction Committees had been formed, schools had been built, teachers engaged, and engagements entered into, and if these additional educational authorities were set up now confusion would ensue. A good many of the non-county boroughs and urban sanitary districts were, no doubt, large enough to be efficient educational centres, but a great many of them were not large enough. If the Committee took all those centres of activity out of the county to which they belonged, they deprived the county population of their natural leaders in education. He agreed that no part of our educational system more required reform and progress than the education of our country districts, but he would have poor hopes of improving the education of those districts if they were to cut out of the county all the towns in which there was this municipal life. Those reasons made it impossible for the Government at the present time to accept the Amendment.

* MR. MARK OLDROYD (Dewsbury)

acknowledged the recognition which the right hon. Gentleman had made of the active work which had been done by the non-county boroughs in their different areas, but his speech did not lead them to expect that anything would be conceded to those making the demands represented in this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman objected to increase the number of educational authorities, and hoped that some of the County Councils would amalgamate for the purpose of constituting themselves into one instead of several educational authorities. That, however, seemed to be rather inconsistent with other provisions of the Bill, which made arrangements for the sub-division of the larger counties like Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, in order to facilitate their work. If the desire of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out, and they were to have fewer educational authorities than 128, he thought it was a pity they had moved in this direction as all, and had deviated from the principle of the last 25 years, when the one central authority had the full control of educational work, and was responsible for seeing that there was no section of the country in which educational work was being neglected. Personally, he should like to have seen this clause postponed, but in any case, he thought it would have been better if the Committee had adhered to the practical rule hitherto in force, and had not made any devolution from the central educational authority. Now that they were to have devolution, it seemed to him to be utterly inconsistent with any proper and rightful appreciation of local government, that they should forthwith tread under foot and over-ride those municipal boroughs in whose interest this Amendment was proposed. The County Boroughs Association had expressed a desire that this work of education should be referred to these boroughs, in the interests of their own local government. They felt it to be a marked disrespect and a disparagement that they should be entrusted with all the other functions of local government, and then be told, after so much experience, that they were unequal to the work of carrying out education, and that the County Councils were to be put over their heads. If there was to be any devolution, he thought that no one could neglect the claim of the non-county boroughs. He appealed to the Leader of the House. In the course of the Debate on the First Reading, the right hon. Gentleman, by an interjection, acknowledged that he was in favour of municipalising education. ["Hear, hear!" from the FIRST LORD of the TREASURY.] Here was an opportunity for the right hon. Gentleman to apply the principle he favoured. If the very small boroughs could not be allowed this privilege, why not adopt the suggestion of applying some limit of population to the boroughs and urban sanitary authorities? By that means an opportunity would be given to those communities which were centralised and had a strong and marked individuality of furthering their own educational interests. A great many of the smaller non-county boroughs were centres of a particular industry. There were textile centres in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and at such places as Kidderminster, where technical work was carried on dis-distinct from anything else in the same county. Those centres of population had a knowledge of their requirements, both as to elementary and secondary education, which no other locality, however near, could possibly possess. One difficulty was that if they were united with the counties, and had to take their position on the County Councils as isolated boroughs, and sat on the Councils with the representatives of rural areas, they might make what representations they chose as to their necessities, but they would never be able to make the rural representatives sympathise with their position. He pointed out that under the Technical Instruction Act provision was made that County Councils should have power to distribute to the non-county boroughs the proportion of the money received from the Central Fund, in proportion to their rateable value. That was a permissive provision, and all that was necessary was to make that which was now permissive compulsory, so that by the alteration of a single word in the very clause which the right hon. Gentleman was proposing to repeal, the non-county boroughs would receive the fair share of the money which ought to fall to them. He believed the exclusion of these powers from the non-county boroughs would be taken by them very seriously. There was amongst those boroughs the very strongest sentiment on this point. They felt that their honour and dignity were at stake if they allowed themselves quietly to acquiesce in the provisions contained in this Bill. Within the district he represented, there were two of these non-county boroughs, each of them containing nearly 30,000 people. They carried on an industry which required a special training, and they had shown their consciousness of the need there was for secondary and technical instruction by putting their hands into their pockets and liberally subscribing to setting up secondary and technical schools, which were now flourishing institutions; and although one of the boroughs which he represented contained only 30,000 inhabitants, yet there were no less than 1,000 young men and women attending the technical schools. That was a proof at once that these people felt the need there was for special training and of their public spirit in that cause. He challenged production of any evidence showing want of the true educational spirit in these boroughs; and accordingly he claimed for them full jurisdiction, subject to the Education Department, over their educational affairs. Some Members had an idea that in the smaller boroughs there would be a lack of suitable men for the working of these educational bodies. The evidence, however, was all the other way, and went to show that in the matter of elementary, secondary, and technical education, these smaller boroughs had shown a public spirit and appreciation of duty which had not been excelled in any part of the kingdom and that there were plenty of eligible men capable of discharging these educational functions. The boroughs in his own neighbourhood had been amongst the earliest to establish Board Schools, and in a large number of cases, the capital expenditure in connection with the schools had been met by annual contributions from the rates. After they had for so many years made these sacrifices, a new authority came along and said: "You have done well, you have been noble and high-spirited, but you must give up the position you have held and stand aside." [Opposition cheers.] He hoped, therefore, the Government would make some concession, and not proceed by this Bill to crush out the independence of the smaller boroughs who had struggled so nobly with their large responsibilities. In this work of technical education non-county boroughs had distinguished themselves, and they ought to inspire the Government with confidence that they would carry out in the future with this same spirit any further duties laid upon them. [Opposition cheers.] In 1894, the county boroughs of Lancashire raised £10,500, and the non-county boroughs representing a very much smaller population, raised £8,500, and they did this under conditions almost humiliating, because the County Council of Lancashire, who received and distributed the Imperial grants, imposed such rigorous conditions. The bodies who imposed these conditions on the smaller boroughs did not impose the same conditions on themselves. ["Hear, hear!"] Having regard to what the non-county boroughs had suffered from the County Councils in the past, they looked forward with considerable dismay to the prospect of being put under the thumb of the County Councils in educational matters. [Cheers.]


The very moderate and able speeches of the hon. Member and of my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, have convinced the Government that there are strong reasons for accepting some part of the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"] There are difficulties and objections, and whether they would be got over by the public spirit of the small boroughs, if they were given the advantages of the Amendment, only experience can show. But I believe that at this moment there are many cases of non-county boroughs in which there are important secondary schools, where the scholars, to the extent sometimes of 45 per cent., are drawn from the adjoining county districts. If you are both to deprive the county of the advantage of drawing on the rateable value of the borough, and to require the borough to deal with only a small population, you may have the absurdity and inconvenience of an imperfectly-equipped borough school. Unless there were a power of combination between the county and the municipal authority that evil might arise, and it would be a serious blow to secondary education. [Cheers.]


said that contributions were made by the County Council to the borough educational institutions, but not in proportion to the rateable value of the borough. They were proportionate to the educational facilities offered.


If the rateable value of the area is too small, you will have imperfectly-equipped schools. There are boroughs with interesting and independent histories which are too small to be set up as separate educational authorities. ["Hear, hear!"] But, having listened to the arguments on both sides, I have come to the conclusion that if the Committee will put a limit of 20,000 to these authorities, the Government will be prepared to risk the experiment, trusting to the public spirit and educational zeal of the counties and of the non-county boroughs to get over the difficulties presented by the fact that the educational areas are in some cases too small for carrying out certain educational schemes. [Cheers.] I hope this will satisfy the Committee that we are ready to listen to arguments. [Cheers.]


pointed out that there were a considerable number of urban districts which, although not organised into municipalities, had a local life of their own and a large population. Would the concession of the Government extend to such urban districts?


That matter had better be considered at a later stage. There is a distinct difference between municipalities and urban districts; but the question shall be fully considered before Report.


said that many important industries were carried on in places with a population below 20,000. Such were the lace, silk, boot and shoe, bottling, shipbuilding, and agricultural implement making industries. Communities where specific industries like these were centred, and where foreign competition was being faced, ought to have the right to demand special consideration from the County Council in carrying out the education. Macclesfield and Yarmouth had recently been making enormous strides in the textile and silk goods industries, where colour, design, and finish was required. They were coping well with foreign competition, and they ought to be encouraged.

After the usual interval,


took the Chair.

* MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)

said he had no desire to continue the discussion after the important announcement made by the Leader of the House, in which he granted an education authority to boroughs with a population of 20,000 and upwards. But he rose for the purpose of putting this question to the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill. The question had reference as to whether the boroughs at the present time, say of 19,000, would, if they increased above 20,000, be held to be educational authorities within the meaning of the Act? There was no provision in the Act of 1888 with regard to boroughs under 50,000. Was the Government prepared to allow boroughs which should increase and pass 20,000 to become automatically educational authorities?


said he would consider the matter before the Report.

* MR. HENRY LOPES (Grantham)

said he merely wished to point out the position the Government had placed him in. They had placed him in an awkward difficulty. The population of his borough was something over 19,000, and therefore it would be excluded by the Amendment accepted by the Government. The question was one of considerable importance to his constituents. They were deeply interested in technical education, and they had not been met in a generous spirit by the County Council. They looked, therefore, with much jealousy upon the proposal to subordinate them to the caprice of County Councils with regard to educational questions. He felt it would be obviously imprudent for him to divide the House on the present occasion, and therefore he should reserve his remarks until the Report stage of the Bill, when he should have time to consult the wishes of his constituents as to the course he should pursue.


expressed exceeding regret that a question of this importance should have been dealt with without a word about the Amendment before the House being said by any representative of the County Councils. Now, he felt that he was labouring under a great difficulty. He had always regarded this Amendment as destructive of county government in education, and destructive of county government generally. ["Hear, hear!"] What would be the position of Lancashire? Lancashire was already honeycombed with county boroughs. There were now 15 of them, and under the concession now made there would be 15 more boroughs, which would be independent education authorities. There were many urban districts of over 20,000 inabitants which would be entitled to the same concession, and if that was obtained the figures which he held in his hand showed that there would be 42 different educational authorities in Lancashire. [Laughter.] Considering that the Vice President in his opening speech told them that there was to be in every county a "paramount" educational authority, how could he reconcile that with the Amendment which had just been made. ["Hear, hear!"] As his Department knew very well, in these large boroughs there had been set up various institutes and secondary schools; scholarships had been established out of county funds. Now they were told that all this work and these arrangements were to be upset, for the proposal accepted by the Government would apply to secondary as well as to elementary education. If he was wrong he should he glad to have it pointed out. This concession struck at the root of county government, and at the root of the Bill. The County Councils had no wish to depreciate the work done by the borough authorities, but they contended that there had been great advantages to town and country from their working together. Secondary Schools required a larger area than that of an ordinary town. They served the country districts all round, and in future the County Councils would not be able to provide for many of the country districts efficient secondary education. He was not at all sure after this concession that this Bill would confer more good than harm on county government. There were many advantages in having larger areas, and from every point of view it was a most unfortunate concession, and ought not to have been made without having the opinions of the representatives of County Councils in that House. He could assure the Government there would be a strong feeling of regret and annoyance among all those engaged in county work.


thought it absurd that a county borough like Preston—which had no School Board, had no School Rate, and spent none of the "whiskey money" on education—should be intrusted with powers denied to a borough so advanced in educational spirit as Luton, for example. If there was to be a distinction between boroughs, the line should be drawn according to the educational record of the borough. But there was a graver question than that. The clause did not merely propose that boroughs of 20,000 should set up their own Boards of Education. He should cordially agree with such a proposal as that. But Clause 3 proposed to take away from Whitehall the duties of the Education Department so far as boroughs of 20,000 population were concerned, and to give to the representatives of those boroughs the entire duties of the Department in respect to those boroughs. These small boroughs would take over not only the local share of duties of the Education Department but those of the Science and Art Department, and they would expend the money granted by the State in aid of the schools of the districts. They would have to secure and to certify the efficiency of the schools within their areas. That meant that the Inspectors of the Education Department would, as a rule, cease to go into the schools of towns with 20,000 inhabitants. The Councils would have handed to them part of the national grant for education, and would give to their own schools the grant which was now only given to those schools upon the assessment and certificate of the high and experienced and independent officials of the great department at Whitehall. Would there not be a great local temptation to certify the schools as efficient when they were not efficient? The First Lord of the Treasury could not have fully realised the situation. The Technical Education Act gave County Councils and county boroughs the administration of about £750,000, and many persons were not satisfied with the way in which those bodies had dealt with the money. Now, however, it was proposed to give to much smaller bodies the administration of much larger funds. He certainly was a young member, but he had always understood that the function of the Committee of the House was to improve the details of a Bill. He was already disillusionised. ["Hear, hear!"] If the First Lord of the Treasury had understood—


The hon. Member is not in order in going back to the first Amendment. I think it would be convenient if the hon. Member for Islington would withdraw his Amendment and propose it again in the form in which he desires it to be put. That would make the hon. Member's remarks in order.


said he acknowledged the desire of the Government to meet the views of the bodies which he represented, but he was not able to simply accept the Amendment; he could only do so formally, and reserve for the future consideration of the bodies he represented whether the Amendment could be regarded as a settlement of the case. At any rate, it was a step in that direction, and he would be willing, with the above reserves, and only as a matter of form, to recognise the concession of the Government by moving to insert after "council," in line 7, Clause 1, "and every council of a municipal borough in which it shall at any time appear from the census last held that there is a population of not less than 20,000."


Is it your pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn? [Cries of "No, no!"]


protested against the withdrawal of the Amendment, the effect of which, he said, would be to throw over entirely all boroughs with less than 20,000 inhabitants. There were many Members on the Opposition side of the House, and he hoped there were many opposite, who would object to that course.


asked if he would be allowed to continue his speech when his hon. Friend had concluded? [Laughter.]


Oh, yes.


said the hon. Member for Islington had most strongly argued that one of the reasons why boroughs that were not county boroughs should be educational authorities under the Bill was that those boroughs had for many years been carrying on the affairs of their districts with success, and that it would be a hardship to deprive them of the charge of educational matters. The hon. Gentleman made out a strong case for boroughs of every description, but now he had accepted a concession—drawing an arbitrary line at 20,000 population.


pointed out that he said he only did it formally—that he expressly reserved to himself and those he represented the right of future action.

MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

, rising to a point of order, asked whether, as he had objected to the withdrawal of the Amendment, there could be any discussion on the withdrawal of the Amendment. Was it not a fact that withdrawal must be unanimous, and that therefore there could be no discussion?


It is quite true that the Amendment cannot be withdrawn unless with unanimous consent, but I understood the hon. Member was speaking to the original Amendment.


That is not so.


rose to continue his remarks, when

SIR H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

said: I rise to order, Mr. Grant Lawson. What is the question before the Committee?


The question is the Amendment of the hon. Member for Islington—that is, after "council" insert "and municipal borough."


Was not the hon. Member for Nottingham addressing the Committee on that question?


That is true, and I propose to call upon the hon. Member for Nottingham again as soon as the hon. Member for Somerset has finished his speech.


said the non-county boroughs in Somerset had a good deal to do with education, and it would be very unfair that by the Bill they should be placed under a disability. The hon. Member for East Somerset, speaking for the County Councils, argued that it was undesirable that any but county boroughs should be withdrawn from the control of the County Councils. That was an entirely different line of argument, and there might be a good deal to be said from that point of view; but if there was to be any limit at all, why draw it at 20,000 population? The Vice-President ought to agree that all municipal boroughs should have the right to be educational authorities within their own areas. That would relieve the Education Department of an enormous amount of work. One point had not been sufficiently considered by the Committee, and that was that already friction had arisen between County Councils and the different municipalities in the working of the Technical Education Act. Friction had arisen in Somerset, and he believed in other counties, between the County Councils and the municipalities under the Education Act, for the municipalities felt that they had been unduly interfered with. If the Bill passed in its present form he believed that friction would be increased, and what the Committee were now asked to do would be a discouragement to the municipalities to rate themselves in regard to the matter of technical education. If more power in these matters was placed in the hands of the municipalities, he believed it would tend to maintain and increase their public spirit, especially with regard to technical education, and that the Bill would be made much more effective by them for education generally. The fact of the County Councils having had the command of technical education had so far been a disadvantage to the municipalities. He strongly supported the Amendment as originally proposed by the hon. Member for Islington.


, resuming, said that when he was interrupted he was remarking on the inconvenience of the Committee discussing the area of the local authority without having a clear knowledge of what the duties of that authority were to be. He would remind the Committee again of what it was understood the duties of the authority of a town of 20,000 inhabitants were to be according to the Bill. It was to administer all or any of the duties of the Education Department and the Science and Art Department; to secure the efficiency of the schools, and also to certify their efficiency. The School Boards secured efficiency, but did not certify it. The Education Department certified efficiency, and unless the School Board secured it to their satisfaction the grant was withheld. But, under the plan now before the Committee, the Council of a town of 20,000 inhabitants were not only to secure, but also to certify, the efficiency of their schools; they were to inspect, examine, and assess their own work, and to give grants to themselves, of course, with a liberal hand. [Laughter.] They had had from the Vice President a very able speech against the Amendment. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman admitted that 128 education departments, or educational authorities, were too many, and he said he hoped the number would be considerably reduced by many of them combining. What then happened? A few moments later the First Lord of the Treasury rose, and, in a light, airy, and dégagé fashion entirely threw over the Vice President by consenting to a course that would very largely increase the number of the education authorities. The Royal Commission, after 17 months' careful labour on the question of secondary education alone, recommended areas no smaller than the county and the county borough. Now they were to have authorities for secondary and primary education for an area containing 20,000 inhabitants. He thought this was absurd. He should like to know, however, for the future guidance of the Committee, whom they were to regard as being in charge of the Bill—the responsible Minister of the Education Department and the Minister who introduced the Bill, or the First Lord of the Treasury, who, yielding to pressure not of an educational kind, had introduced an element into the Bill which one of his own supporters had declared had turned all that was good in the Bill into something bad. In the name of education, of the schools, and of local government, he took a strong objection to this course. ["Hear, hear!"] It was proposed to decentralise the Education Department, which had done excellent work during the last seven or eight years, under the Vice Presidency of the right hon. Member for the Dartford Division of Kent, the right hon. Member for the Rotherham Division of Yorkshire, and now the right hon. Member for Cambridge University. ["Hear, hear!"] It had maintained a high level of education throughout the country, had amended and modified its Code, and had improved its method of certifying the efficiency of the schools. The Bill at first proposed to devolve the powers of the Education Department on 128 authorities, but now it seemed that they were going to devolve that educational work on 267 education authorities, a large number of which consisted of boroughs of no more than 20,000 inhabitants. He contended that boroughs of that size were not proper authorities to perform the educational work it was proposed to impose upon them. He hoped even now that the experienced views of the Department and its chief would have some weight over the hasty and sudden views expressed by the First Lord of the Treasury. He strongly objected to the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. GODSON moved as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment to add, after the word "borough," the words "of not less than 20,000 inhabitants." This would, he remarked, carry out the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury.

MR. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

said he understood that the Amendment to the Amendment now proposed was practically an embodiment of the proposition of the First Lord of the Treasury. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY signified assent.] Then he must say that if the consideration of the Bill in Committee was to be opened by complete revolutions like this, introduced by the Government themselves, they would be in great difficulty before they had proceeded very far. ["Hear, hear!"] This change was of a most far-reaching and enormous character, and, in one respect, affected education to the very roots. One of the difficulties in connection with this question of establishing an outside authority, apart from the School Boards, was the condition under which they would bring these bodies. That condition would be serious and troublesome, so far as education was concerned, in those cases where the School Board authority and the municipal authority were coterminous. It was under those circumstances that they were going to put the two bodies, elected by almost precisely the same constituency for different purposes, the one to control the other. It was different when they got a whole county and a whole County Council, where they had School Boards which occupied a certain limited area, and they had a Council which was elected over a large area embracing all those School Boards, and they gave to that Council a certain authority and control over those School Boards. In the nature of the election of that body, and in the character and extent of authority of that body, they had at least a reasonable ground for giving it control over those School Boards which occupied only a portion of its area. But the whole position was changed at once when they came to one of those great municipal boroughs like Manchester, where the School Board was coterminous with the County Council or Municipal Council. In such an authority as that they had the same electorate electing the two bodies, and they put the body not elected for educational purposes to control the body which was specially elected to control education. He believed, especially in regard to the budget framed by the education authority, that would lead to the greatest friction between those two bodies. This Amendment proposed enormously to extend the area in which that friction would take place. A very large number of those boroughs of 20,000 inhabitants had School Boards, and they would be coterminous with the municipal authority, and in these smaller places they would have these difficulties arising even in a more intensified form than in great centres like Manchester, Birmingham, or London. But this Amendment was also important, because it more than doubled the disintegration of the present central education authority. It split it up into more than double the number, and the argument which had been always made for the counties being the area had been practically their size. This was an administrative change which altered the whole view that one could take of this education authority.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

said he heard with amazement and disappointment the concession that he understood had been made by the First Lord of the Treasury—a concession which certainly did not encourage very much many of the county Members, who were urged to support some principles in the Bill of which perhaps they were not altogether very fond. [Opposition laughter.] He could not understand what inducements had been made to the Government in order to persuade them to make this enormous change. There had been no inquiry made among the supporters of the Government that he knew of. On the contrary, he heard a whisper that the Government were determined to resist this proposal of the hon. Member for Islington, and they could have resisted it upon the very best and soundest grounds. Although the boroughs themselves might like this change, yet the counties in which the boroughs were included had to be considered, and while they might be doing, possibly—he did not think so himself—some good to the boroughs, they were doing infinite harm to the counties from which they were subtracting the boroughs. [Cries of "No!" and cheers.] In 1888 they had a very long discussion upon the question of the inclusion of boroughs in the County Councils Act, and it was agreed that all those above 50,000 were to be exempted from that Act. They naturally thought that, having laid this foundation of local government, nothing would induce any Government, and especially a Conservative Government, to uproot, to a certain extent, the arrangement then made, and to establish 118 new authorities throughout the country. There were 64 boroughs of over 20,000 inhabitants and 54 urban districts, and he inferred that if the boroughs were to have this privilege so also were urban authorities. ["No!"] This was very interesting. [Laughter.] Why were boroughs to have this exceptional privilege, and urban authorities, which were arranged on almost the same principle, to be excluded from it? The concession that had been made by his right hon. Friend was a concession which would, he thought, be made worse by the Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Islington. The hon. Member who moved to amend the proposal of the hon. Member for Islington desired that all boroughs should be included. The small borough with which he was associated took that view, but he thought, in the interests of education, apart from the wishes of small boroughs, and in the national interest, which was far above the individual question of these boroughs, his right hon. Friend ought never to have made this concession. [Opposition laughter.] It was a wretched Amendment to introduce so early in the Bill, and that, too, when not a single county Member on his side of the House, as he was informed, had expressed his views upon the question. ["Hear, hear!"] The principles of local government established a few years ago were only beginning to take root, and they ought to be encouraged, with all the responsibility that could be given to them, to extend their influence and draw to them the best men in the county. He ridiculed the idea that County Councils had too much to do, declaring from personal experience that they had very little work. Here was an admirable opportunity to give really useful, important, and responsible work to the County Councils, and yet upon the first blush of resistance his right hon. Friend gave in to the boroughs of over 20,000 inhabitants. He had not sufficient Parliamentary language at his command of proper vigour to express his profound regret that this concession had been made. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"]

SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)

heartily thanked the Vice President of the Council for the very sensible concession he had made. ["Hear, hear!"] He represented a non-county borough of 40,000 inhabitants, where for several years they had conducted their elementary education without a School Board. They had done it efficiently, satisfying all the requirements of the Education Department, and they were proud of their achievements. ["Hear, hear!"] They had spent £12,000 during the last two or three years on a large technical school. They thought they were still able to manage their educational affairs, and they protested against being handed over to the Committee of a County Council sitting at Preston, some 35 miles away. [Cheers.]


observed that, whatever argument there might be for or against the proposal of the hon. Member for Islington, the Amendment to the Amendment, proposing to limit this right to boroughs of 20,000 inhabitants, was to his mind sheer nonsense. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] It did not affect the matter one jot whether a borough had 20,000 or 200,000 inhabitants. If it were pretended that the smallness of a borough was a reason against having a share of the management of its own educational affairs he should say that the smallness was an additional reason for it, because it would require additional protection against the overweening and overbearing importance of the County Council. ["Hear, hear!"] Why were small boroughs to be deprived of a right which was to be given to large municipal boroughs? Was a man not to have the management of his own family because it was a small family? [Laughter.] Was it to be only the father of 20,000 who was to have a voice in the management of his own children? [Laughter.] He should resist this Amendment to the Amendment with all his might. He could conceive arguments upon the proposal of the hon. Member for Islington, but upon this Amendment there was nothing to be said. He defied the hon. Member to produce any argument in support of his proposal that boroughs having a population of less than 20,000 should not have the management of their own educational affairs. Judging by the history of this country, it was clear that the people refused to be bound by more numbers. If a right were to be given to boroughs having more than 20,000 inhabitants, the same right should be given to the smaller boroughs.

[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER resumed the Chair.]


said that, seeing that the Government had already made one concession, they might surely make another small one. It should be borne in mind that the circumstances attending elementary education were very different from those attending secondary education. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that, however small it might be, a borough was still a borough and was entitled to all the rights and privileges of a borough. He agreed that a borough, whatever its size, ought to have the management of its own elementary education, but it was important that every county should have a uniform system of secondary education. It would strike a deadly blow at secondary education if every small borough was to have its own system of such education.

* SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

said that he represented a borough in his county division which had managed its elementary education with great success. He thought that to draw the line at boroughs having 20,000 inhabitants would work considerable injustice to the smaller boroughs. If a borough having a population of 19,950 were to be excluded from the advantages enjoyed by boroughs having over 20,000 inhabitants, it would be hung up for four or five years until the next census was taken, and during that time would have a sense of injustice. Considerable irritation had arisen under the Local Government Act in consequence of the interference of County Councils for certain purposes, and that irritation would be increased tenfold under the present Bill if the limit were retained and the County Councils controlled the education in such a borough. This was another illustration of how unwise it was to have refused to accept the proposal that had been made on the Opposition side of the House that the census should be taken every five years.


said the scope of the devolution proposal of the Government had been greatly enlarged, and they were entitled to ask that the powers of the Education Department should not be so recklessly and profusely devolved on small bodies all over the country. Would the Government introduce or accept an Amendment to Clause 3, which would prevent the devolution of the full powers of the Education Department going to these small bodies? Otherwise, there would be a large addition to the rates.


suggested that the Leader of the House might give some indication of the position of the Government with regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kidderminster. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman would consider the effect of the Bill on communities smaller than 20,000. They should not be at the mercy of County Councils when they were in competition with foreign trade in special industries. At Leek, Staffordshire, the late Mr. Nicholson, at a cost of £20,000, presented the town with a technical institute. The result had been to enormously increase the special industries of that township. It would be unfair that such towns, of which there were dozens in this country, should be left at the mercy of a County Council which knew nothing of the merits of that industry.


replied that under the Bill every municipal borough had perfect power, as far as education was concerned, to be independent, except that the County Council would exercise over it the same supervision as to grant as now. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] He was rather surprised that an hon. Member, who an hour or two ago voted for the suspension of the proposed powers, should be so much alarmed by the extension of those privileges to 69 municipal boroughs.


desired to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out 20,000 and to insert 5,000, his object being to give all municipalities the power the Government was ready to concede to boroughs of 20,000.


ruled that the Amendment would not be in order until they had negatived the Amendment before the House.


submitted that the Government were not far wrong in fixing 20,000 as a reasonable limit. He hoped that the Committee would accept the compromise which the Government had adopted, or at all events would come to a vote upon it. The arguments on both sides had been very adequately stated, and he appealed to the Committee to come to a decision upon the Amendment.


said that he understood that the ruling of the Chairman was that he could move his Amendment when the Amendment before the House was negatived; but after hearing the First Lord of the Treasury it was quite clear the Amendment would not be negatived, and therefore he would not be in order in moving it subsequently.


said he certainly remembered the same thing occurring before, and his predecessor ruled that it was very unusual indeed to move an Amendment to an Amendment to an Amendment and declined to put it. He thought he was bound to follow that course.


said that on one occasion Mr. Courtney had allowed him to move an Amendment to an Amendment to an Amendment.


said that, as he understood the compromise, it was that those boroughs with a population of 20,000 were to have the advantage of carrying out the Act, and that smaller boroughs were to have the same advantage when their population had increased to 20,000. He considered that a very important concession, if that was the true state of the case, because hon. Members who represented such boroughs would be able to point out to their constituencies that if they can only increase their populations [laughter] during the next five or six years they would become the educational authority. He would be glad to know if that was the intention of the Government?


suggested that the concession should extend to all Parliamentary boroughs.


, who spoke amid cries of "Divide," was understood to express his willingness to accept the compromise offered by the Government. He also referred to the Third Clause of the Bill, under which the transfer to the education authority was to be made on such terms as might be agreed upon between the education authority and the Education Department. This, he contended, made it discretionary with the Department whether or no they should transfer the whole work to the education authority.

Question put, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 287; Noes 117.—(Division List, No. 236).

Question put, "That the words 'and every council of a municipal borough of not less than twenty thousand inhabitants' be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 332; Noes 83.—(Division List, No. 237.)

MR. GODSON moved to insert after the words last inserted, "as ascertained at any time by the census last held."


protested against being referred back to the last census, as the standard by which increasing boroughs should be judged as regards this Bill. The Borough of Ilkeston had a population of close on 20,000 at the last census in 1891; it was now over 22,000, and had a right to educational independence. He pointed out that the taking of a census of a borough at any time was not a serious matter, and he suggested that in the Bill there should be some form of words introduced after careful consideration by the Law Officers enabling any borough to furnish satisfactory evidence of its population being over 20,000 persons to the Local Government Board.


put the case of a borough with a present population of 19,000, increased in two years' time to 21,000. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that the borough would not enjoy the privilege of the Amendment until the next census?


At the end of ten years, when the census is taken, there will be a revision, and those boroughs which have a population over 20,000 will have what the hon. Member calls the privilege of being a separate educational authority. Those boroughs which are below 20,000 will, if they have been educational authorities, cease to be so.


hoped that the Government would not accept the Amendment moved on the front Opposition Bench. The regular method of obtaining the population was by the census. There had been an agitation for a quinquennial census, and force would be given to the agitation if this provision were added to the Bill. One peculiar effect of it was that if at the last census a municipal borough had a population of 2,001 it would become an educational authority; while if its population sank to 1,998 it would cease to be an educational authority.


said one of the remarkable effects of the Amendment would be that a borough educational authority might cease to exist, or come into existence by the loss or gain of an insignificant fraction of the population of the borough. Looking at this provision from a purely educational point of view, it produced a state of things little short of a farce. This was only one of the results of the unfortunate step which had been taken at the threshhold of the discussion of the Bill, in allowing amendments of overwhelming importance to be suddenly sprung on the Committee.


said that under the Amendment, if carried, as he understood it, boroughs with 20,000 inhabitants would not come under the arrangement proposed by the Leader of the House until the next census was taken.


said the arrangement was that when a borough reached 20,000 it should have the privileges of the Bill. There was no method for determining whether a borough had the required number except by the public census, and he thought it would be a very ill service to the boroughs which hon. Gentlemen opposite championed to leave them liable to be plunged into legislation as to whether they had or had not reached the line of 20,000 inhabitants. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

asked what would happen if an industry failed, and a borough came down to 19,000 or any smaller number?

MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

said that the local authorities would have the power of borrowing money for certain purposes, and if a borough went backwards and forwards from one authority to another according to the accident of the number of its population things would get into great confusion. [Opposition cheers.]


thought his hon. Friend had raised a practical question. He did not think the number of boroughs which would thus oscillate between 19,500 and 20,500 was very great. However, before the Report stage he would consider the question of putting into the Bill a provision arranging that when a borough had lost its 20,000 inhabitants it should not lose the privileges it acquired under the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]


suggested that these words should be added instead of the words proposed—"if at the date of the passing of this Act it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Local Government Board that the population exceeds 20,000." There were some instances in which a borough had at the present time considerably over 20,000 inhabitants, but would have to wait for recognition until the next census in the ordinary course, and in such cases he suggested a census might be taken by the borough itself without much expense. The borough census so taken could be certified by an adequate and impartial authority, and the Local Government Board could have control over the whole matter. The right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Local Government Bill of 1888 might remember that something of the kind was done then with reference to a county borough. An injustice had been done to the borough of Grimsby, and in order to avoid that injustice the borough was allowed to prove that it had a population sufficient to justify it being made a county borough.


reminded the Committee that his hon. Friend the Leader of the House had promised to consider this matter before the Report stage.


pointed out that the point raised by his hon. Friend was a different one, namely, that some machinery should be set up whereby the municipalities which had at the present time the requisite population could be recognised.


said he would undertake that that point also should receive consideration before the Report stage.


asked whether it would not be necessary to insert words to prevent county councillors representing towns of 20,000 inhabitants from voting on the general education questions which came before the County Council?


(who spoke amidst cries of "Divide!") said that the question of oscillation was a very serious objection; and the only way, he thought, in which it could be met was that no borough which had once been allowed into the 20,000 privilege should be eliminated until it was proved to have less than 15,000 inhabitants. That was the system they had gone on in the case of Reform Bills in the House. The only way to meet the difficulty was to make a large difference between the number in population which would give the franchise and the number which was to disfranchise. Many hon. Gentlemen would find that their constituents would object to be disfranchised on education because the borough in which they lived was only 19,000 in population. This was a very serious thing, because there was a great difference in character betweeen borough and county population, and it was not fair that a borough school should be controlled by a County Council.

SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

said he quite understood that what had occurred involved the withdrawal of the Amendment for the time being. It was quite clear the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill could not carry out his promise to give the matter further consideration unless the Amendment was withdrawn.

MR. J. M. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)

said it was evident that hon. Members had no clear idea of what would be the effect of the Amendment, and they had better wait until they had the whole matter before them.


said that it would be a retrograde step to accept the Amendment, and it would be better to adopt the suggestion of the Leader of the House and to deal with the whole matter on the Report. Two suggestions had been made—one, that the decennial census should be taken; the second, that proof should be accepted from a borough; and then the cases had to be dealt with of boroughs which had declined below 20,000.


contended that the clause as it stood would be quite unworkable.


thought it would be well if the Committee had once more explained to it by the First Lord of the Treasury how the matter stood.


said the principle on which they meant to construct the Bill had been explained, and it had been accepted by large majorities. When a borough had a population just over 20,000 it should be given privileges accorded to localities under Clause 1. The question was whether the Amendment of his hon. Friend was the best way to obtain that result, and that was the only question before them. He was not convinced that it was necessary ["hear, hear"] and that in the existing Local Government Act they might not find an analogy to guide them to a more accurate and rapid method of carrying out what the Committee had pledged itself to. Perhaps his hon. Friend would withdraw the Amendment, and he should investigate what had been done in the Local Government Act in similar cases and bring it up on Report. ["Hear, hear!"]

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


said the next Amendment, in his name, was rather an important one, and he begged to move to report Progress.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.