§ (1) Every County Council and every council of a municipal borough of not less than twenty thousand inhabitants 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.1104
§ (5) Two or more County Councils may combine for all or any of the purposes of this Act.
§ (6) Provided as follows:—
- (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 is 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 of such scheme, without modifications 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;
- (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.
§ [The words printed in italics have been inserted in Committee.]
§ MR. S. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
who had the first Amendment on the Paper, rose and proceeded to call attention to what had already taken place during the afternoon.
§ MR. EVANS
said, that in that case he had no alternative but to proceed with his Amendment. He moved after the words last inserted (as printed above in italics), to insert the words:—And every Council of an urban district having a population of not less than twenty thousand according to the last census for the time being.The hon. Member explained that the effect of the Amendment, if adopted, 1105 would be to place the urban districts of the country on exactly the same footing as the municipal boroughs incases where the population was 20,000 and more. It was not necessary for him to discuss the wisdom or un wisdom of the concession made by the Leader of the House on Thursday, but he thought it would be generally admitted that if it was right to give municipal boroughs containing 20,000 inhabitants the right to appoint their own educational authority it was equally right to give the privilege to urban districts of similar size and importance. He would point out to the Committee that for this purpose the urban districts were in precisely the same position as the municipal boroughs, and that there was no practical reason for granting the privilege to the boroughs and denying it to the districts. The municipal boroughs were regarded as urban sanitary districts for the most important part of their work under the Public Health Act, 1875, and amending Acts, and practically there was no difference between the municipal borough and the urban district, except that the former had a mayor and corporation. That being the case, there could be no real justification for excluding the urban districts from the privilege, and he would point out that there were many towns of considerable size in the country that had refused to be incorporated. Merthyr Tydvil, for instance, was one of the largest and most important sanitary districts in the country, and it had declined to be incorporated, though it was a Parliamentary borough. He proposed to give the Committee a few figures to show how inconsistent it would be under the circumstances to exclude urban District Councils from having the right to appoint an educational authority of their own. At first he was opposed to giving the power to the municipal boroughs, but that having been done the point now was whether it could consistently be withheld from the urban districts. Now, in Lancashire, there were many urban districts which were not municipal boroughs, but which had a population of 20,000 and over. For instance, as the Bill stood, Barton, though it had a population of over 20,000, would not have the right of appointing an educational authority because it was an urban 1106 district, while Eccles, which was near it, and had a population of 29,000, would have the privilege simply because it was a municipal borough. Accrington, with a population of about 38,000, would have the privilege as a borough, but Chorlton, with a population of over 22,000 would be denied as an urban district. Chorley, with a population of 22,000, Bacup, with a population of 23,498, and Leigh, with a population of 28,700, would be granted the powers as boroughs, but Farnworth, with a population of over 23,700, and Leigh, with a population of 28,700, were to be denied it because they were urban districts. Moss Side was another urban district in Lancashire with a population of 23,833, and almost next door was Middleton, a municipal borough with 21,000. Then there was Toxteth Park, another urban district, with 21,000, and Rawtenstall, a municipal borough, with 29,000, and the same observations he had made with regard to the other urban districts and boroughs applied also to these cases. Walton, an urban district with 40,304 inhabitants, double the population necessary in the case of a municipal borough, could not appoint its own educational authority, while Ashton-under-Lyne, a borough with 40,494, had that privilege. West Derby had a population of 38,091, but whereas that urban district would be drawn into the county of Lancaster and subjected to the jurisdiction of the County Council in this regard, Blackpool, with a population of 15,000 more, would have its own educational authority. Widnes was an urban district with 30,011 inhabitants, and Darwen, a borough, had 34,192, and here again they had the glaring anomaly in regard to this educational authority which ought not to be allowed. The last instance he would give from Lancashire was that of Withington, an urban district with 25,729 inhabitants, and Lancaster, the county town, with 31,038. He had taken Lancashire in order to show not merely that the anomaly was a great one, but that it would occur all over the country, and that it would be spread all over the counties, especially in those which had a large population like Lancashire. He had instanced nine municipal boroughs having this right, and they had, in the same county, nine towns winch were 1107 urban districts with practically the same population, and he would await with interest the reasons which the Vice-President would give for refusing them the privilege which was extended to boroughs. But he had also taken a county in a totally different part of the country to show that the same kind of thing existed. That was Kent. In that county there was Bromley, an urban district with 21,685 inhabitants; and Folkestone, a municipal borough, with 33,700. There was also Gillingham, an urban district, with a population of 27,813, and Chatham, a municipal borough, with 31,711. There were too several instances from Staffordshire, which brought home his argument very strongly. Bilston was an urban district with a population of 23,453, while Stafford, a borough, had only 27,270, yet Stafford, with only 270 above the limit placed in the Bill, would have its own educational authority and Bilston would be denied that right. He had been able to arrive at no reason why Bilston should be treated in a different way to Stafford. Then there was Hands-worth, with 32,756 inhabitants, and, not far off, Longton with 34,356—to all intents and purposes, similar districts in every way, and with no requirements in one district for an educational authority of its own which would not apply equally well to the other, and yet one was to have that right and the other was denied it. Rowley Regis, in the same county, had 30,791, but it was an urban district and would not have its own educational authority, although Burslem, with within one or two hundred of the same population, would have that privilege because it was a municipal borough. The same remark applied to Tipton, an urban district, with 29,314 inhabitants, and Stoke-on-Trent, a municipal borough, with 24,000. Then there was the case of Wales, in regard to which he would say that there was going to be a serious effort made in that part of the House to prevent a distinction being drawn between Welsh counties and English counties in respect of the educational authority. If they gave one large educational authority, for instance, to one part of the country, they said they were entitled to have some central large body as their educational authority in Wales. If they were to be treated county by county there was no 1108 reason at all why, because the County Councils in Wales were really representative of the people, they should endeavour to substitute a body which was not as representative as the body which they proposed to give with regard to England. The cases of Merthyr and Aderdare had already been mentioned. There was also the urban district of Llanelly which was the largest town in Carmarthenshire. Llanelly had a population of 23,937, and was in the very forefront of the educational and intellectual movements of the Principality, yet it was not to have its own educational authority, while Lowestoft was to enjoy that privilege. Wales possessed a distinction in the matter of these figures in that they had the largest urban district in the whole country. There was Ystradyfowg. [Laughter.] It had a population of 88,350, and was increasing as rapidly as any district that could be named. How could it be said that an English town with a population of over 20,000 ought to have the right to the appointment of its own educational authority and a similar right denied a district like this? The town of Pontypridd was nearly up to the limit applicable to English municipal boroughs, its population, in 1891, being 19,971. It was an enlightened town, taking the deepest interest in educational affairs, and if it was right to give the power of appointing educational authorities to the municipal boroughs in England, it was equally right to give it in cases such as those he had instanced. He submitted that there was an unanswerable case in favour of treating urban sanitary districts in precisely the same way, from an educational point of view, as they treated boroughs. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
As I pointed out to the Committee on Thursday last, there is great disadvantage, from an educational point of view, in increasing the number of educational authorities over the different areas. I do not know whether that disadvantage is greater in the functions which this Bill proposes to delegate to the authorities in regard to primary or secondary education, but it is great in either. ["Hear, hear!"] In the case of primary education it is quite clear that you cannot devolve any of the duties of the Education Department 1109 upon an enormous number of local authorities. ["Hear, hear!"] It is also quite clear that all hope of anything like elasticity of the Code—having not the same uniform Code all through the kingdom, and having a Code which will bear more relation to the particular necessities of the district in which it is in force—is entirely taken away when the number of authorities is too greatly increased. [Opposition cheers.] And with regard to secondary education, it must be perfectly clear to every member of the Committee that the attempt to set up an immense number of small authorities dealing with Secondary Schools which have scholarships, and which are to exercise all those functions that can be well exercised by a large authority in secondary education, is not one which it is possible for the Committee to entertain. [Opposition cheers.] I laid all these reasons before the Committee on Thursday last—[ironical Opposition cheers]—but I am afraid that, even when dealing with education Bills, political considerations have often as great a force as educational, and, although no one, I think, doubted the correctness of my arguments from the educational point of view, the great desire for independence and separation which animates—perhaps properly animates—the smaller municipal communities of this country made it necessary that 69 fresh authorities should be let in, and 69 fresh authorities accordingly were let in on Thursday last. [Opposition laughter.] Now the present Amendment proposes to let in 49 more, and there are other proposals behind to still further increase the number. This is all very well for those who are enemies of this Bill and who desire to see it brought to ruin. I can understand their motives. [Ministerial cheers.] But I must ask those who are the friends of this Bill, and who desire to see it carried into law, to support me in declining to admit any more local authorities. [Opposition cheers and laughter.] It is quite obvious that what was a difficulty becomes, in such circumstances, an impossibility, and, hard as the task may be to carry out the Bill with the number of authorities that have already been put into it, if 49 more are to be brought in, and another dozen or so by subsequent Amendments, I think that difficulty 1110 becomes an impossibility; therefore, I must ask the Committee to support me in trying to find reasons and distinctions for rejecting this Amendment. [Opposition laughter.] I think I can give one very strong reason which will have special application to the hon. Member for Glamorgan who has brought this Amendment forward. There is in Wales, as he is aware, an Act recently brought into operation known as the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, and this present Bill has been most carefully drawn so as not to interfere with the operation of that Act. Happily, the Amendment passed on Thursday is not inconsistent with that Act, because there are not in Wales any municipal boroughs which are not county boroughs and which have more than 20,000 of a population, and there are no boroughs which have anything near 20,000; therefore, there is no likelihood of the Amendment of Thursday last creating any fresh authorities in Wales, either immediately or in any reasonable prospective future time. But if this Amendment were carried it would be inconsistent with the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. An Amendment of that Act would become necessary, and it would be essential for this Committee to make such provision as would not interfere with the educational work which is now being carried on under the operation of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, and to make fresh arrangements altogether, because that Act is entirely based upon the principle of the authorities being counties and county boroughs. The whole Act rests upon that foundation, and if you made the urban districts in Wales the county authorities the foundation of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act would be upset, and fresh arrangements of a somewhat complicated character probably would become necessary. ["Hear, hear!"] Therefore, I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment, because, among other things, it would interfere with the operation of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. There are in Wales four large urban districts with a population of more than 20,000, and a district so nearly 20,000 in 1891 that, probably, by this time it will be at that figure, and all of these, if this Amendment were adopted, would have powers inconsistent 1111 with the Intermediate Education Act. I must ask those Members of the Committee who really wish to see these educational authorities made a reality and not a sham, who wished them to be clothed with powers in connection with elementary and secondary education something like those which are projected in the Bill, to reject the Amendment. [Ministerial cheers.]
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman one of those characteristic speeches which always delight the House of Commons. [Cheers.] The speech reminds one of the instrument which was familiar in one's youth, and which I think was called a boomerang, which was sent out to a distance and was intended to come back and decapitate somebody who stood by the side of the thrower. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] Sir, what has the right hon. Gentleman got up and said? He has said what was perfectly accurate—that all the arguments he has addressed against this Amendment were addressed against the Amendment which was accepted by the Leader of the House. [Opposition cheers.] That is perfectly true. He said he pointed out that if municipal boroughs were admitted, as they were admitted, it would destroy the Bill, and that Amendments of that character could only be accepted by those who were enemies of the Bill. We remember how that Amendment was accepted and upon what grounds it was accepted. [Opposition cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman has said it was accepted on political considerations. But what were the political considerations that induced the Leader of the House to accept that Amendment against the advice tendered by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill.
§ SIR J. GORST
I did not say it was accepted on political considerations. I said that political considerations had forced the Amendment into the Bill.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Political considerations forced upon a majority of 150! [Opposition cheers.] Yes, and how was it forced into the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, after three speeches had been made, two in favour of the Amendment and one—that of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill—against it, did not say that they were political considerations 1112 that forced the Amendment upon him, but what he did say was that the weight of argument was in favour of the Amendment. [Opposition laughter and cheers.] The weight of the argument of the hon. Member for Dewsbury and the hon. Member for Islington, in the opinion of the Leader of the House preponderated over the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman. [Laughter and cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman, with a candour which no one could fail to admire, when called upon to argue against this Amendment, said he left it to the Committee to find out arguments to make a distinction between the two cases. [Laughter.] Of course, that is an admission that even his inexhaustible ingenuity is incapable of finding a single argument to make such a distinction. If the weight of argument in the view of the Leader of the House was in favour of the former Amendment, surely the weight of argument, even without speech or argument from the Vice President of the Council, must be in favour of this Amendment, unless the right hon. Gentleman thinks he will prevail if he does not offer any argument, though he failed when he did argue against the Amendment of Thursday night. The right hon. Gentleman is a great supporter of decentralisation. He wants elasticity in the Code to suit the circumstances of particular localities. I should have thought, if that was a sound argument, the more localities whose peculiarities you consider the better, because if you take a great county like Devonshire you may have conditions in one part of Devonshire very different from the conditions in another part. So there may be different conditions in many populous counties of the north of England. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that in his effort at decentralisation he has already received the repudiation of his scheme from the West Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, East Sussex, Wiltshire, Durham, Devonshire, Carnarvonshire, Flintshire, and the county I have the honour to represent. These, some of the most important and populous counties in the whole of the United Kingdom, have repudiated this offer of decentralisation. But if you have decentralisation and what I may be permitted to call local option with reference to education, the 1113 Code, and inspection, you ought to consider the wishes, circumstances, and idiosyncracies of each place. Are you going to give this power to municipal boroughs of 20,000 and refuse it to urban districts three or four times as numerous in population? In Lancashire and Yorkshire there are districts which have not been incorporated, but which are as important, if not more so, than many municipal boroughs. What is the argument with regard to Wales? The right hon. Gentleman says the Amendment will interfere with the present constitution of Welsh secondary education. But that argument does not apply to the question of elementary education at all. If you can confine your Bill solely to secondary education, it would be easy indeed to meet the case of Wales by a special provision. But what we are dealing with here is the question of elementary education, and the objection taken by the right hon. Gentleman just now has no reference to elementary education in Wales at all. So the argument has no importance. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that there is no distinction—at least, he has offered none—between the case of urban districts and municipal boroughs, and he left it to the Committee to discover something which would distinguish the Amendment from the fatal error he committed on Thursday week. It is not for us to supply the right hon. Gentleman with arguments. They must come from other quarters. For my own part, if we are to have this system of decentralisation, populous districts are quite as much entitled to have their voices hoard as the smaller municipalities, and even the greater. The right hon. Gentleman has offered no argument against the Amendment.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The House is sufficiently aware from the controversial methods of the right hon. Gentleman, that a speech of which he gives a version is seldom recognised by its author. So I am not surprised to find on inquiry that his version of the speech of my right hon. Friend does not represent it in the least. [Cheers.]
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I beg pardon. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman heard the speech of the Vice-President. What I said, and I think 1114 the Committee will bear me out, was that the right hon. Gentleman said he must leave it to the Committee to supply arguments which would show the distinction between the case now before the Committee and the case which was decided on Thursday night. [Cheers.] I am in the judgment of the Committee as to whether I am correct or not.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The right hon. Gentleman said a great deal more than that, and I am informed that even that is not accurate. But as the right hon. Gentleman calls upon me to find arguments against the Amendment, I will do so without difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman said that urban districts stood obviously on the same footing as boroughs. I say they are different, and the whole legislation of this country with regard to local government in urban districts proved that. At this moment urban districts of over 100,000 inhabitants have not the privileges which are given to county boroughs. Does the right hon. Gentleman object to that? Does he wish every urban district of over 50,000 inhabitants should be put in the position of boroughs of 50,000 inhabitants and made counties by themselves? It will not be denied that Parliament has always drawn a broad distinction between the cases of boroughs and urban districts. The former have a long history and traditions behind them; the latter are but the creation of yesterday. The one have been accustomed to manage their own affairs for centuries; the others are the recent invention of Parliamentary ingenuity. We only desire to see carried out in this Bill and to retain the distinctions deeply marked in all our legislation, and not to endeavour to efface differences which the House has rather sought to emphasise than diminish. That is an adequate and ample reason for keeping a distinction which we did not invent, but which was already invented; and I hope the Committee, therefore, will not accept the Amendment. [Cheers.]
§ * SIR C. DILKE
said the argument of the right hon. Gentleman for continuing this distinction between urban districts and municipal boroughs, because of the ancient history of the latter, had no weight in it, as some boroughs were only a few months old. There was no 1115 difference between some urban districts and many large boroughs. He made no secret of the fact that he was bitterly opposed to the whole educational authority created by the clause, so he came under the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, who said he understood the action in this matter of those who were opposed to the scheme of the Bill but not the action of those who supported it. He confessed he did not understand the full effect of the Amendment they had carried or grasp that of the Amendment they were now asked to adopt. Under the former Amendment they had to provide technical education money to meet new schemes and get money directly for the 20,000 boroughs alluded to by the hon. Member for Islington. The real object of the boroughs in fighting for the Amendment that had been carried was to escape from the control of the counties. They had a real local life which should be respected, and he objected to the whole scheme of the county authority created by the Bill, believing it would be unworkable and oppressive to localities and a Measure of centralisation rather than of decentralisation.
§ * MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said the Amendment which was accepted on Thursday night dealt a very heavy blow, not only at county administration, but also at certain parts of the machinery of the Bill, and, he asked, was it necessary or advisable to follow it up immediately with another blow of this kind? This Amendment would be fatal to all the devolution proposals contained in the Bill. There was scarcely a county in England that would not be broken up if this Amendment was superadded to that of last Thursday. In Lancashire, owing to the former Amendment, they would have, he believed, 30 "paramount" educational authorities, and if the urban districts, with a population of over 20,000 were added, there would be over 40. The county of Middlesex, as it happened, contained no boroughs, but if this Amendment were accepted two-thirds of the population would be subtracted from the county authority. Then there was the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the West Riding Council stood second to none among the authorities who administered the Technical Instruction Act wisely and efficiently, 1116 but if this Amendment was carried the West Riding would be honeycombed. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who were so zealous in the cause of big towns did not seem to have the slightest regard for the educational needs of the country districts. The Secondary Education Commission pointed out clearly that the smaller towns ought to be taken together with the country districts surrounding them, in which they had a common interest, and which, to a great extent, depended upon them. The Vice President had said that it would not be fair to interfere with the administration of the Intermediate Acts in Wales, and he ventured to say that it would be equally unfair to interfere to such a great extent as was proposed with an educational organisation that had been so carefully and thoughtfully built up by many of the counties in England. Surely the introduction of a Bill which proposed to confer much greater powers on the County Councils was not the proper occasion on which to do everything they could to strike a blow at the authority and position of those County Councils. They could not, in this matter, divorce the interests of higher education from those of elementary education, and he thought the Committee would act most unwisely by accepting such an Amendment as this, which would still further disorganise the present system.
§ MR. STUART
said it would have been very desirable if the Government had taken into consideration the essential difference between elementary and secondary education. The movement to include the smaller municipalities and the larger urban districts arose, no doubt, from a desire on the part of these bodies to be exempt from the operation of the county authority, but the exemption was a totally different thing from the establishment in each of those districts of a new authority. The Committee would observe that if this Amendment and the Amendment that preceded it were inserted in the first clause of the Bill, and then if the first clause proceeded unamended with merely these insertions, they would have made two great changes. They would have made, in the first place, the fairly reasonable change of excluding from the dominion of the county authority those boroughs and 1117 urban districts to which the Amendment referred, and in the second place they would have made a most serious change, namely, the erection in the midst of each of those districts of an authority which was to be over, and would, he feared, be largely in conflict with the School Board. He really thought that if this Amendment were added to that of Thursday last it would necessitate their determining whether to separate the Committee which was to deal with secondary education from that which was to deal with elementary education. If they were going to deal with the matter from the point of view of separate localities and not counties, it seemed to him to be utterly futile to draw the line at 20,000, or at boroughs as distinguished from populous urban districts. There had been a good deal of cross-voting on the previous Amendment, because many of them saw the difficulty there would be by greatly increasing the number of authorities in those districts in which they would have two co-terminous educational authorities. Where there was a School Board they would be erecting in that district another educational authority co-terminous with it, and which derived its authority from exactly the same electors. He was in favour of the authority being the School Board in those cases. A means would be given in these districts for creating an educational authority, and he would say it should be the School Board, because by adopting it friction would be avoided. It would not be out of order to move that exception afterwards. They were saying that the County Councils and the boroughs above 20,000, and the urban districts above 20,000, should do something; they did not say what; they placed all in the same category, and would afterwards say what they were to do. What he would propose was that those of them who had no co-terminous School Board areas should elect a new authority, and those who had got co-terminous School Board areas should not elect another authority, so that friction might be avoided. They were doing two things at once; they were taking steps, in the first place, that they should not make the county supreme over the local authorities indicated in the Amendment; and many of them felt they were at the same time making provision against that 1118 friction which they desired to avoid. By the proposal he had suggested they believed they could do the two things, and therefore he supported the Amendment.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that when they had set up an authority the question would arise what powers should be given to it. A borough, he contended, was a separate community, with a corporate life and a highly organised vitality, but an urban district was no community, with no corporate life, and had a low vitality. ["No, no!"] The difference between a municipal borough and an urban district was just the same as between a fully-rigged ship and raft of timber. [Laughter and "No, no!"]
§ SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said if anything were wanting to show the absurdity of mixing up elementary with secondary education it was supplied by the speech of the Vice President, which furnished strong arguments in support of an Amendment on the Paper to divide the Bill into two parts, one dealing with elementary and the other with secondary education. As between borough and urban districts, he could see absolutely no distinction between them. Why should Stafford, because it had a mayor and aldermen, enjoy a privilege to be denied to Merthyr Tydvil with five times the population? It was true that some of the boroughs had a long history; there were half-a-dozen in Wales that had a very long history, but they would all be excluded by the Amendment which was accepted by the Leader of the House the other day because they were all under 20,000 population.
§ * SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
said that many references had been made to the concessions made by the Leader of the House, but he could only say that, if the point had not been conceded, it would have been contested, and he believed it would have been carried, because it evidently commended itself to the judgment of the House and of its Leaders. Under the Act of 1888 boroughs were divided into two classes, and so long as that distinction existed, so long would the non-county boroughs fight the question, whether as applied to education or aught else. But this exclusion did not apply to urban districts, which were generally 1119 more or less of a rural character—[No, no!']—although he admitted there were exceptions. As a general rule, varying of course with particular parts of the county, urban districts had a character which did not attach to municipal boroughs; and this question was raised with respect to boroughs, and did not arise in the case of urban districts. It was desired to take the technical grants out of the jurisdiction of the county, and by an Amendment on the Paper that point would be raised; it was raised on the ground that county administration involved a grievance. Who could blame the boroughs? They were for this Bill; they were for education; they were almost unanimously in favour of municipal administration in education. What had been just heard? Many of the counties had no sympathy with municipal administration, and perhaps not with education, and did not believe in their own powers to administer the Bill. Were the boroughs who sympathised with the aim of the Bill, and who had been doing good educational work, still to be chained to county administration? It was that against which the boroughs protested. The great object of the Amendment, which was much wider than this particular Bill or clause, was to annul the statutory provision of 1888, which made the distinction between county and non-county boroughs. That had been breached, and it would be attacked whenever a Bill before the House embodied the objectionable distinction. The Amendment was very much broader than it appeared to be, and whenever municipal education, or any other subject, was dealt with, the protest would be repeated against their being enchained in county life, which had already injured them too much.
§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said that in the county of Middlesex there were nine large urban sanitary authorities, some of them sending Members to this House, and they complained bitterly of the treatment they received under the Technical Instruction Act from the County Council. Tottenham was mainly a working men's residential district with a population of 71,000, and there were bitter complaints that it could not obtain from the County Council any 1120 assistance for technical education. He could hardly believe that Middlesex, the centre of the kingdom, should have refused to grant adequate aid to these great boroughs. Yet the Middlesex County Council received £21,000 a year from the local government grant, but only spent £7,000 upon technical education, applying £14,000 of the money in the reduction of rates. If it was right that all communities should have the management of their own educational affairs, the community itself should have the control over them, and not a Committee of the County Council.
COLONEL MELLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said that he must support the Amendment. There were two urban districts in his own constituency, each of which had a population of 25,000. He agreed that the multiplication of education authorities would be a misfortune, but he did not see how the concession which had been made in favour of boroughs with a population over 20,000 could be refused to urban districts. There was no marked distinction between urban districts and municipal districts. The urban districts of Radcliffe and Farn worth, for example, were two big towns, and the inhabitants were full of public spirit, and had shown great liberality and generosity in dealing with the question of technical education. Although he was a warm supporter of the Bill, believing that it would be made an excellent Measure before they had done with it, he was constrained to vote for this Amendment, against the wishes of his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
contested the argument of the Vice President of the Council that Wales would suffer if this Amendment were agreed to. He submitted that under Sub-section B, Wales would not be affected even if the Amendment passed. The Sub-section said:—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.In every county in Wales a county governing body had been appointed. It was evident that if this Amendment 1121 in favour of urban District Councils were, passed, Wales would not be injuriously affected.
§ MR. REGINALD MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
said that the hon. Member for King's Lynn had told the Committee that there was a great distinction between Borough Councils and urban District Councils, because the boroughs hung together and had organisation, which was lacking in the case of urban districts. The Committee must know, however, that almost the only distinction between a borough and an urban district was that the borough possessed a Mayor and a mace, and enjoyed the advice of aldermen. The motive of the hon. Member for King's Lynn was obvious. He thought that if urban districts were excluded there would be more chance of the inclusion of the little boroughs like his own. The hon. Member for South Islington asked the Government to exclude District Councils on the ground that they were concerned with rural areas, whereas Borough Councils were not. Such a generalisation as that was not supported by facts. There were many District Councils in his own constituency, not one of which was rural. On the other hand, he knew many Borough Councils which governed large rural areas. The distinction which the hon. Member sought to establish was, therefore, futile. There was no distinction in principle to be drawn between the Borough Council and the Urban. District Council.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
drew attention to the case of his own constituency, which he said was one of those districts that would be sorely affected by the Bill, unless the Amendments were accepted. The Rhondda was unique in many respects. It was one of the largest urban districts in the kingdom. Its population at the last census was 88,000; now it was 123,000 and probably by the time of the next census it would be 150,000—a population larger than that of many counties and county boroughs, which under the Bill as it originally stood, would nominate the education authority. In the Schools of this urban district there were over 21,000 children—1,000 more than the total population of the boroughs which by the Amendment accepted on Thursday had been included 1122 in the clause. If they looked at the character of the district it was favourable for the creation of such an educational authority as the Bill contemplated. It was a huge mining centre with no comflicting interest. The School Board of the district was one of the first in the kingdom to provide higher education for its children. Was it reasonable that this large population should be asked to go without advantages which were given to very much smaller communities?
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
mentioned the cases of Tunstall and Fenton in Staffordshire. These were urban districts where a highly important industry requiring high art was carried on. Each district had its own art school, which was in the highest state of efficiency. Why should these two districts both of which had to face the keen competition of France and Germany, be excluded from the management of their own educational affairs, while many towns would by the Amendment of Thursday have that privilege, though they had very little industrial interests. He maintained that many boroughs depended wholly on the surrounding agricultural interest for their existence and expressed surprise at the statement of the hon. Member for Islington that urban districts were really rural in their character.
§ * SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
Perhaps the hon. Member will permit me to repeat what I did say and what I believe, that as a general rule the urban districts are more rural in character than the municipalities, but, of course, much depends on the particular part of the country.
§ MR. BROADHURST
contested that statement. He would go further and assert that there were more corporate towns of between 20,000 and 40,000 inhabitants dependent upon agricultural interests than there were urban districts of a like size. He was a member of the Urban District Council of Cromer where there were only 3,000 inhabitants and yet that district had nothing to do with agriculture. Its interest was in quite another direction. There was no logical reason why boroughs of 20,000 should obtain a privilege of which urban districts of a like size were refused. Here was an opportunity for the Leader of the House to say that there was nothing in 1123 a name and to have regard to the interests of education, of the necessities of industry, rather than to mayors, maces and aldermen.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham)
maintained that the difficulty in which the Committee was now placed had resulted from the unfortunate arrangement of Thursday evening. Local Government authorities in Wales had already experienced great difficulty in making suitable provision for secondary education because they had not also the control of the primary schools. He regretted the inclusion of the municipal authority as a separate educational authority under the Bill, and because a mistake had been made on Thursday evening no reason existed, in his opinion, why another mistake should be made now. Under the Bill certain duties would be thrown on the educational authority which would necessitate the expenditure of money, and the cost should be equally distributed over a wide area. The proposal before the Committee would throw the cost upon a narrow area, in some cases of a low rateable value, and in other districts it would pick out the wealth-producing centres from the county area. He would vote against the Amendment.
§ After the usual interval, Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR took the Chair.
§ MR. T. LOUGH
said that it was clear that the Government had not had the best of the argument. The hon. Member for South Islington said that these District Councils were rural in character. Some of them were; but the Amendment dealt exclusively with Urban Councils. Many of the municipalities had no historic traditions, but were the creation of yesterday; and urban districts were constantly being incorporated. The position of the Government was most lamentable. One of the most foolish and reprehensible characters in Scripture was the man who strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. But the Government were worse, for they had swallowed the camel first, and had strained at the gnat afterwards. The Vice President had admitted that the Amendment of Thursday last required its logical completion. The right hon. Gentleman said that the more educational 1124 authorities that were constructed the worse it would be for education. But the Bill, as originally introduced, proposed to create 128 different educational authorities; the Amendment accepted on Thursday would add 69 more; and to that total of 197 the present Amendment would only add 49.
§ MR. LOUGH
, continuing, said they should be very glad to hear the noble Lord dealing with the question from a metropolitan point of view. The great point which he wished to urge was that those urban districts which contained a population of more than 20,000 should be admitted, as they had already admitted towns of that population. Now, what was an urban district? He thought that it might be described as a young town. It was sure to develop into a town if time was given to it. In fact, all the urban districts round the Metropolis were practically towns. His contention was that these urban districts were entitled to the same treatment as the towns. Did any Member of the Government deny that? They possessed all the characteristics of towns. They were an agglomeration of streets, they were municipal authorities, and the chief feature of their municipal vigour was exhibited in the creation of educational authorities already. The chief feature in which they displayed and maintained their claims to be recognised as towns was in the spread of education. He thought there was no less than 180 of these urban sanitary districts throughout England, with a population of over 20,000. He had the list now in his hand, and every one of these 180 had a School Board already. The reason he had intervened in the Debate, was that he wanted to say a word on behalf of London, and to show the injustice which would be done if the Amendment was not accepted. London was surrounded by urban districts. There were 13 of them with School Boards in operation. Let them take the case of Richmond. How could they give the proposed power to Richmond and refuse it to, say, Walthamstow? He should like to hear the noble Lord defend before his constituents the infliction of a degradation on Chiswick, with a population 1125 of 23,000. Then there were the cases of Acton, Edmonton, Hornsey, Tottenham, and others. Every one of these had School Boards at present; they had shown their capacity for organising a great system of elementary education, and he asked on what principle they admitted the municipal boroughs and refused to admit these urban districts to become educational authorities for their localities? Logically, no line could be drawn, and as they admitted towns over 20,000 on Thursday, they ought to-night to admit urban districts over that figure, He did not think the Committee realised the difficulty they would be in if they did not accept this Amendment. The County Council would have to set up an expensive system and make arrangements to develop education, but to-morrow any one of these districts might be turned into a corporation, and it would at once be turned into an educational authority. They would then have to undo all that had been done. They had School Boards already, and now it was proposed to put them under County Councils. He hoped hon. Members would consider it. They could not rest where they were; they had gone too far to go back. Sir J. Gorst admitted that. He hoped, as they had admitted towns over 20,000, they would not refuse the same liberty to these great urban communities.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
also supported the Amendment. It was the logical corollary of the Amendment accepted last week. He did not think that the right hon. Member in charge of the Bill would admit that there was any difference between a municipal borough and the urban districts. These places had 21 years experience of local self-government. As to the cases quoted by his hon. Friend he thought that that of Ealing was more instructive even than that of Acton. In Ealing there was no School Board. They had simply got the Voluntary system there. All the schools would be brought under the Middlesex County Council, which, with the exception of the two or three representatives Ealing had got on the County Council, would have no local knowledge of Ealing. On what ground, then, would the noble Lord the Secretary for India refuse to Ealing what had already been given to 1126 Gravesend? He would also like to know what was going to be done with municipal authorities which had got representatives on the County Council? When questions of the administration of funds, and the inspection and administration of schools came up at meetings of the County Councils, were the representatives on those Committees of municipal boroughs which had got their own separate educational authorities going to vote on those questions which did not concern them at all, and did the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill propose to introduce an "in and out" clause, which would deprive the representatives of municipal boroughs on the County Councils of the right of voting when questions of education came before the County Councils? The proper way of dealing with the difficulty was by extending the powers of the Bill to urban districts and to groups of parishes. The right hon. Gentleman should make the County Council the only paramount educational authority in the county, and instead of giving to the County Committees the power of appointing Local Committees, as was contemplated by the 6th Sub-section of the Bill, separate educational authorities should be given to urban districts as well as to municipal boroughs of 20,000 inhabitants and up wards. In Wales they had experience of the success of such a system. They had got there a County Governing Board, and they had got local managers, appointed, not by the County Council, but by the districts—which was what the Amendment before the Committee contemplated—with the result that the governing bodies had absolute knowledge of the local wants of the localities. If that system had not been adopted, the intermediate scheme of education would have been an absolute failure in Wales.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said that not even the hon. Member for South Islington, with all his great knowledge of municipal affairs, had any substantial argument to advance in support of distinction being drawn between urban districts and municipal authorities in this matter. If the Bill were carried into law, all local authorities would start level in the matter of education. The duties that would be cast upon them would be of an entirely novel character, and whether they were 1127 municipal boroughs or urban districts would not make the slightest difference. It had been urged that municipal boroughs were more highly organised, on the ground that they had centuries of work behind them. The same distinction might be drawn between Courts of Quarter Sessions and County Councils. Courts of Quarter Sessions had centuries of experience behind them, yet no hon. Gentleman opposite would contradict him when he said that for the purposes of educational organisation the County Councils had proved themselves to be as highly efficient as the Courts of Quarter Sessions would have been. If urban districts were not allowed the powers which it was proposed to confer on the municipal boroughs, the result would be that the urban districts would have an ambition to at once obtain municipal charters. There was no logical ground of distinction and no practical ground of distinction between the two cases, and it was utterly impossible to draw it. The argument which had been chiefly used against the Amendment was that if those 49 or 50 additional authorities were created there would be too many educational authorities, and the whole system would prove unworkable. His strong opinion was that there were too many educational authorities already. He asked the other day the special attention of the right hon. Gentleman to one solution of the difficulty. He ventured to do it now, and he did it because he was confident that sooner or later it was the solution of the difficulty that must be adopted. It was this—that there were now too many educational authorities to deal with. Whether this Amendment be accepted or not, the fact remained that the Bill had, in consequence of the concession made on Thursday night, become practically unworkable. It would be absolutely necessary, now that the Committee had decided to disperse the educational authorities to such a great extent, to have provincial departments. He was sure that would be so in Wales, and he believed that was the only practical way in which matters could be worked in England. In conclusion, he asserted it was impossible to draw a distinction between urban districts and municipal boroughs. Whatever difference 1128 there was between them was only one of regalia and paraphernalia.
§ * MR. CHARLES BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
said that instances had been given in the course of the Debate of a large number of local authorities which would become their own educational authorities, but he would like the House to understand what difference the Amendment carried on Thursday night and the carrying of this Amendment would effect in the county which he represented. It would simply wipe off at one stroke very nearly half of the total population of the administrative county and put them under different authorities. The total population of the administrative county of Staffordshire was 818,000, and the number that would be taken away from the cognisance of the educational authority of the County Council would be very nearly 400,000 persons. That change would be brought about, too, just at a time when combined schemes for the promotion of technical education in north and south Staffordshire were being introduced by the County Technical Committee. He had had the honour of serving on that County Technical Committee ever since it was started, and he knew full well that between the different borough authorities and the county authority there had never been the least dissension, but all bodies had worked well, and just at the present moment, when combined schools were being created both in North and South Staffordshire, the effect would be most disastrous if an Amendment such as this were carried. He would just give two instances. At the present moment there was under consideration a scheme for the establishment of a metallurgical school in South Staffordshire, in which all the non-county boroughs in South Staffordshire would participate, and they had also in contemplation a scheme for a large central school in the Potteries, to be connected with the pottery trades. Both these schemes would be smashed and utterly destroyed if the non-county boroughs were taken away from the cognisance of the County Council. In addition, if an Amendment like this were carried, the Technical Committee of the County Council would be deprived of the services of men coming from the 1129 urban districts who had acted very well with the County Council Committee hitherto, and if now, by this Amendment, the urban districts were cast loose on their own resources they would not have enough funds to carry out what they wished in their own particular localities. He could sum up what he wished to say by quoting the maxim "United we stand, Divided we fall."
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N. W.)
said it had been demonstrated almost ad nauseam that there was no essential difference between an urban district and a municipal borough, but, believing as he did most thoroughly in the County Council as an educational authority, he desired to see the Bill limited as much as possible. He shared the view entertained by all friends of education in the House that it was a most deplorable fact that the Leader of the House saw fit to accept the exceedingly reactionary Amendment whereby non-county boroughs of not less than 20,000 inhabitants were established as educational authorities. County Councils would, under the Bill, have powers in respect of technical education, intermediate education, and elementary education. Hitherto, small urban bodies had effectively exercised powers in regard to technical education, but no one would say that an urban District Council with a population of 20,000 was a proper body to administer the Act in respect to secondary education. As to elementary education, the duties of an educational authority would be those of superintending, supervising, and testing the efficiency of the education. Would his right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham assert that an urban District Council was an effective and capable body for superintending the work of a School Board or of Voluntary Schools? What would be the result? The right hon. Gentleman, under Clause 4, would withhold powers from the authorities. The fact was that they impaired the value of the Bill by introducing municipal boroughs, and they entirely destroyed the value of the Bill by introducing urban authorities. He did not believe that vestries would desire to undertake the work of the School Boards. It was futile to suppose that a local vestry should exercise the powers of a supervising body over the 1130 School Board, which represented the same area and the same population, and in favour of which there was this characteristic, that the School Board was elected ad hoc, and was composed mainly of men interested in the work of education. There were many parts of the Bill to which objection was taken, but if hon. Members wished to make the Measure effective, they should work together in unison as far as possible for that purpose.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (Yorks, W. R., Rotherham)
said he had utterly failed to find, in the words of the Vice President, any distinction which should induce them to vote on this Amendment differently from what they did on Thursday night. He heartily welcomed what was done on Thursday night from the point of view of secondary and technical education; but he had already said that he disagreed fundamentally with most of the propositions which, on the subject of elementary education, were brought under the authorities created in the first clause. It was absolutely necessary that with two different types of education they should be at liberty in dealing with a Bill of this sort to declare their view either as to secondary education or elementary education, and if they did not do so they would not be giving to the Committee their whole mind on the subject. As to secondary education, he had always felt the same thing. Under the Technical Act, which was passed in two or three days at the end of the Session, they had no opportunity of dealing with the question of authorities; and under the Local Taxation Act also, when by an Amendment of his own the money was allotted to the purposes of technical education, they had no opportunity of raising the question of the local authority to which the work of education should be assigned. He had always felt that many of the non-county boroughs and many of the large urban districts did not get their rights with regard to the matter of secondary education. In his own Division of the West Riding there were many places—Dewsbury and Rotherham, for instance—which felt that they could manage their work of technical education as well, if not better, than the West Riding County Council, of whose work he desired to speak with 1131 the utmost respect, could manage it for them. He failed to see that any distinction on the question before them could be drawn between the urban districts and the municipal boroughs, and he did not at all understand how it could be said that, while the municipal boroughs—some of which had not been in existence as boroughs more than four or five years—were fit to manage those matters, urban districts, which were governed by popular bodies, were unfitted to do so. ["Hear, hear!"] He would repeat that, so far as secondary education was concerned, he thoroughly agreed with what had been done, and he only wished that it could be extended in the present case.
§ MR. H. E. KEARLEY (Devonport)
, who spoke amid cries of "Divide," and was almost inaudible, was understood to say that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill stated on Thursday night that if the concession was made to municipal boroughs of 20,000 inhabitants it would be a necessary corollary that the same powers should be conferred on the urban districts of the same population. In those circumstances he failed to see how the right hon. Gentleman could take an opposite course now, and object to the present Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman further said that many of those urban districts would make efficient educational centres, and it was this very point which was being urged in support of the Amendment. It had been pointed out that many urban districts had much larger populations than the limit fixed for the municipal boroughs, namely, 20,000, and one hon. Member had mentioned an urban district which contained upwards of 80,000 inhabitants. They considered that there should be separate areas to deal with elementary and secondary education, and he could not see the slightest reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not make the further concession now proposed by the Amendment, especially after what the right hon. Gentleman stated on Thursday last. It had been stated that if they adopted the smaller areas it would be impossible to have elasticity in the Code. Speaking for his own district, he could say that uniformity of Code was what they wished for more particularly than anything else. Elasticity of Code meant 1132 educational weakness throughout the country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were not bound to accept the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, because he himself on Thursday last stated in the clearest possible language that if this concession were made to non-county boroughs, it was the natural consequence that the same concession must be made to these urban districts, and in the face of that he should be glad indeed to hear what explanation the right hon. Gentleman could give to this most astounding change of front.
§ MR. ASQUITH
thought the whole course of this discussion showed the importance of two or three considerations which some of them ventured to urge on the first night of the Committee stage when the proposal was made to postpone the earlier clauses of the Bill. They had been embarrassed throughout this discussion by two obstacles created, he did not say deliberately, but perhaps from want of forethought, by the Government and arising from the framework of the Bill. In the first place, throughout all these early clauses they had to deal with the difficulty that the functions of the new authority in relation to primary and secondary education had been inextricably entangled. In the second place, they had to encounter a still more formidable difficulty from the fact that in this clause they were bringing into existence an authority before they arrived at any conclusion as to the functions with which that authority was to be invested. If he was asked whether he thought that either municipal boroughs with a population of 20,000 or upwards, or Urban Councils representing districts with such a population, were fit to undertake and to have delegated to them the functions of the Education Department in relation to inspection, examination, and the distribution of grants, he did not hesitate to say he thought not. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought it far better, in regard to these important duties, that they should remain where they were at present vested—in the hands of an authority which would apply to all parts of the country, without discrimination and without favour, certain not inflexible but elastic rules which would at the same time rest on uniform principles of action and procedure. [Cheers.] But 1133 it did not in the least degree follow that those who supported this Amendment, any more than those who voted with the hon. Member for Islington the other night, were in favour of any such proposal. They were going—at least he was going—to vote for an Amendment which they would very shortly reach, for excluding primary education altogether from the purview of this clause—[cheers]—and, if that Amendment were carried, the authority created by this clause would be the authority which would deal with secondary and technical education and with nothing else. For a moment, let him assume that that was a state of things with which they had to deal, and supposing they had for the first time to create in their various local communities a representative authority to deal with secondary education, what was the authority they would choose? Would they or would they not, from the point of view of educational efficiency, choose a Committee of the County Council? He said they would not. ["Hear, hear!"] It had been conclusively shown that there were many County Councils which, from want of knowledge of local conditions or want of touch with local sentiment, had used the money Parliament had bestowed upon them partly in relief of the rates and, so far as it gave to technical education at all, in an unintelligent and wasteful manner, and, if they were to constitute a local authority to deal with technical and secondary education, in his judgment it was better, so long as they had a sufficient identity of local life and sentiment, to get these smaller communities than the larger community which had proved itself in the past incompetent to discharge the duty. That seemed a very substantial argument in favour of the Amendment. But he would assume for the sake of argument that the Amendment to which he had referred was rejected and that certain functions—the exact scope and limitation of which would have to be decided at a later stage—in relation to primary education were to be cast upon the authorities created by this clause. There were many of those functions which, as it seemed to him, could be more adequately and efficiently performd by authorities representing a 1134 comparatively small local area than by the County Councils as a whole. ["Hear, hear!"] Take, for instance, the functions at present performed by the School Attendance Committee. Could anything be more absurd in the view of any one who was acquainted with the facts of their local life than to intrust the duties of the School Attendance Committee to a Committee which represented the county as a whole ["Hear, hear!"] Take one of their large rural counties—Devonshire, Cornwall, Wiltshire, or any of those great counties where the population was comparatively scattered, where the means of communication were necessarily meagre, and where the Committee would have to meet at a particular local centre—and imagine the authority created by this clause having to perform the duties of the School Attendance Committee. ["Hear, hear!"] The Vice President shook his head, but that was the proposal broadly, and he said that such an authority was by its very nature and the conditions under which it existed handicapped in making that detailed minute local and personal examination which was necessary if the law was to be administered in strict consonance with the Education Act. Assuming for the purpose of his argument that Clause 3 was out of the question, if they were going to throw on local bodies the functions of the Education Department an entirely different set of circumstances arose. He was arguing from the point of view of those who believed, as he did, that it would be a reactionary step in the interests of education to disestablish the Education Department and split up its functions between the chaos of local authorities acting divergently. ["Hear, hear!"] He was taking those functions in relation to primary education which ought to be locally administered, and as to them he said it would be far better, in the first instance, to place as a substitute for a defaulting School Board, or in lieu of a new School Board, the District Council, acting upon the spot, elected by and responsible to the ratepayers, in touch with the opinions and sentiments and with a knowledge of the interests of parents, than it would be to adopt the cumbrous plan of the Bill of in the first instance reposing the 1135 functions in a Committee of the County Council, and then requiring that Committee to delegate its functions as regarded primary education to another body. As to the distinction which had been sought in that Debate to create between the Council of a municipal borough having a population of 20,000 and the Council of an urban district with a similar population, he listened with interest and curiosity to the attempt which was made by the First Lord of the Treasury to demonstrate the existence of some inherent distinction between these two authorities. The right hon. Gentleman said they had always made this distinction. He agreed that they had made a distinction for certain purposes of local government between boroughs and urban authorities, but the functions as to which they had made a distinction were not those which were connected in any way with education. ["Hear, hear!"] On the contrary, as regarded education, they had never made any distinction at all. The right hon. Gentleman said that even small boroughs had the control of their own police and that urban councils had not. Suppose that were the fact, what in the name of common sense had that to do with the question whether or not one body or the other should be intrusted with education? The right hon. Gentleman was, however, totally wrong in his facts. Anyone who had studied the provisions of the various Acts dealing with municipal government and local administration was perfectly well aware that a large number of these small boroughs had not got the control over their own police. But even if that were true, it was totally irrelevant to the question they were now considering. Then the right hon. Gentleman used the further argument that in the case of a borough they were dealing with an authority which was invested with a vast amount of local traditions and local sentiment, whose history stretched back through centuries and which, in the 1136 course of time, had acquired a degree of respect and sanctity which the Urban Council, appointed under the legislation of the present day, could not possibly claim. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be unaware that these boroughs were being created every day. ["Hear, hear!"] He had known himself, in the course of a short experience of something like three years at the Home Office, boroughs of this kind brought into existence times out of number, and the mere fact that a particular population living under urban conditions and attaining to a minimum of 20,000 inhabitants had received a charter ought not, in his judgment, to place it in a preferential or privileged position as regarded the management of its own educational affairs as compared with another body that had not the privilege of incorporation. ["Hear, hear!"] If it was right—as he believed it was—to intrust to boroughs which had a minimum population of 20,000 educational autonomy, he had failed to discover a single argument which would justify them in discriminating against a smaller population in every respect identically situated except for the mere fact that it had not received a charter of incorporation. On these grounds he trusted that when the Committee came to a decision on the matter it would not introduce a new anomaly into their educational system but, acting on the principle which the Committee almost unanimously adopted on Thursday last, would accept this Amendment as the logical sequence of what was then done. ["Hear!"]
§ Question put: "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 143; Noes, 265.—(Division List, No. 242).
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES moved to insert after the words last inserted, the words—
as well as every council of a municipal borough which is also a Parliamentary borough.
He contended that whatever reasons might be urged for accepting the inclusion of municipal boroughs of over 20,000 inhabitants, might be urged for the inclusion of municipal boroughs which were also Parliamentary boroughs. He could quite understand the feelings entertained by the Vice President of the Council, who, naturally, did not appreciate the efforts of those who had walked about with heavy feet among his trim flower beds and made havoc of his garden. [Opposition laughter.] His own opinion was that the smaller the authority the better. But if it was the case that mischief had been already done by the inclusion of municipal boroughs, there could be no further mischief perpetrated by the acceptance of this Amendment. He believed there were 12 or 14 such boroughs which were entitled to send a Member to the House of Commons, and, perhaps, he might remind hon. Gentlemen behind him, who were engaged in an animated and loud conversation—[Opposition laughter]—that the boroughs interested were all Tory boroughs. [Ironical cheers.] These were boroughs which had existed for hundreds of years, and had had a distinct and independent existence from the county. He would take the case of King's Lynn, in which he was specially interested. In King's Lynn they had never neglected education. They had more than once raised sums of over £1,000 to prevent the erection of a School Board there. King's Lynn had built and maintained a technical school, which it required, because it had a large seafaring and fishing population, and navigation could be included in the curriculum. The town had done all that a town of its size could be expected to do in the cause of education; and the 12 or 14 boroughs which were in the same case had done as much. He would claim the vote of the Leader of the House for this Amendment, because, in reply to a Nottingham correspondent, he had written:—
I do not hold to the view that it would be in the interest of local administration that the control of primary education should be divorced from other matters of important local concern, and intrusted to a special body who are not necessarily brought into contact with the general needs of the district.
That, in effect, was his Amendment; it was that primary education should
not be divorced from other matters of important local concern. If the Amendment were rejected, the very thing the Leader of the House was opposed to would happen. If Lynn Regis and other boroughs like it were worthy to send a Member to the House they ought to be trusted to manage their own educational matters. King's Lynn had a separate, special, corporate, common life of its own; the County Council did not understand or sympathise with the town; and when the County Council had the chance it tyrannised over the town, charging it too much for the maintenance of roads, and bringing it precisely within the terms of the letter quoted. These towns had a separate, concrete, complete history of their own, and it was impossible for the County Council to come in and manage their affairs for them. He confidently expected that the Government would accept the Amendment; and he was so convinced of the justice and propriety of it, that he should press it to a Division.
§ SIR J. GORST
said it was his duty to turn a deaf ear to the voice of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, and to decline to accept the Amendment, It was not because he doubted the capacity of these boroughs, and of King's Lynn in particular—[laughter]—to manage their own educational affairs. Indeed, he thought it would be found in the Bill that care was taken to enable a municipal council of such a borough to exercise a considerable amount of independence, certainly m elementary education, and a good deal also in secondary education. The borough of King's Lynn was represented on the Norfolk County Council, and it had an equal voice there with the other populations of Norfolk upon the action of the County Council with reference to education. But his reason for declining to accept the Amendment was that which he had already several times stated to the Committee—namely, the inexpediency, in the judgment of the Government, of multiplying any further the educational authorities to take part in the administration of the Measure. That subject had been so fully discussed that he should not be justified in stating over again the reasons why the Government could not accept this Amendment.
* MR. J. W. MELLOR (York, W.R., Sowerby)
said that these Parliamentary boroughs really fulfilled all the requirements that, according to the First Lord of the Treasury, were demanded from boroughs which were permitted to remain their own educational authority. They were not numerous, only 14 in number. Those that he knew best of them had undoubtedly had a great desire to promote education by every means in their power, and they possessed excellent schools, which they made great efforts to maintain in a state of efficiency. He could not help thinking it was most desirable that these boroughs should be added to the list of those which were to be exempt from control of the County Councils. When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House fixed upon boroughs having a population of 20,000 as those which were to be exempt from that control, he supposed that he mentioned this number as an indication of a certain importance, otherwise the right hon. Gentleman would not have fixed upon them for the purpose of exemption. Surely boroughs which had retained the right to return Members to Parliament for many years, and whose Parliamentary life had been preserved at the time of the passing of the Redistribution of Seats Bill were entitled to be regarded as of equal importance with other municipal boroughs having 20,000 inhabitants. In these circumstances, he had been sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council say that he could not accept the Amendment, because he was satisfied that its acceptance would have been very gratefully received by the boroughs concerned.
§ * MR. HENRY LOPES (Grantham)
said that as a representative of one of these Parliamentary boroughs, he desired to enter his protest against the action of the Government in declining to accept this Amendment. If hon. Members who represented these boroughs made that protest, it was the fault of the Government themselves. From the outset the proposal to subject them to the caprice of the County Council was regarded with considerable jealousy, but that feeling had been greatly increased when they saw these exceptional powers given to other boroughs, many of whom had a population only slightly in excess of themselves, whilst few could boast 1140 the same historical associations, or experience of political life dating well back over many centuries. He was perfectly prepared to make the admission that in his opinion Government ought not to have made any concession in this direction at all, but having made it, they ought to follow it to its logical consequences. By their action the Government had placed hon. Members who represented these boroughs in a very difficult position indeed. Every argument which had induced the Government to give way in this direction applied with equal force in favour of these ancient boroughs. If the ancient history of these boroughs was considered, it would justify the Government in reconsidering their determination to resist this Amendment. They were corporations of many centuries old, and whereas the smallest of them had 16,000 inhabitants, some of them had a population of 19,000. Could it be denied that these boroughs had done good work in the cause of education? Were they to be punished for the zeal they had shown by being subjected to these new local developments? By way of illustration, he would take the case of his own constituency. No man in that House could say that the borough of Grantham had not done its duty in the way of education. One of the great objects of this Bill was to assist Voluntary Schools. In Grantham they had none but Voluntary Schools, and when they were condemned as inefficient three years ago, a subscription was at once set on foot by the Nonconformists, the Roman Catholics, and the Church of England, and sufficient funds were raised to place them in a state of efficiency. Another strong point was that it was most important that technical education should be given at Grantham, both because of the number of skilled and intelligent artisans it contained, and because it was a natural centre for the neighbourhood around. They had in vain petitioned the County Council again and again to give assistance to the classes in that borough. It was true the County Council had offered to give £600 if an equivalent sum was contributed from the rates, but they knew from the poorness of the locality that that was an impossible condition; and it therefore amounted to a refusal to assist the technical educational system 1141 of the borough. With this experience before them, an experience which had been shared with other Town Councils, they distrusted the proposal to hand them over to these new bodies. The Committee must not be surprised if these ancient boroughs, proud as they were of their historical associations, jealous as they were and had a right to be of the continuity of their municipal life—that municipal life which had been one of steady and useful progression during hundreds of years—must regret and resent the action of the Government, when they had once made a concession, in refusing to bring them also within the scope of the sub-section.
§ SIR GEORGE OSBORNE MORGAN
said he represented a county which contained no less than four Parliamentary boroughs, which together returned a Member of Parliament. They were ancient, they were Tory, and they were Welsh. Wrexham was the largest town in North Wales; it contained 15,000 inhabitants. There was not a single town of the same size in England or Wales that had done more for education, or which was more anxious to promote education. There was certainly no borough which was more desirous of being its own education authority. Only two days ago he received a letter from the Town Clerk of the town strongly urging him to support this Amendment. Why was that town, which just fell short of the limit of 20,000 to be excluded from the benefit of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Islington? There was not a single argument which weighed with the Leader of the House in accepting that Amendment which could not be adduced in favour of the present proposal. It was, after all, a very small concern. They had already admitted 59 boroughs; and it would not do much harm to admit 14 more. He hoped the Vice President would reconsider his position.
§ MR. S. EVANS
did not know whether the hon. Member desired to confine the privilege which his Amendment conferred to municipal boroughs. Some of the oldest boroughs in the country are those which had their old charters, but which did not come under the Municipal Corporations Act, and therefore were not municipal boroughs. He suggested that the hon. Member should leave the 1142 word "municipal' out of his Amendment. The hon. Member did not tell the House what the 14 boroughs were which he said would be covered by this Amendment. Did the hon. Member include as Parliamentary boroughs those which were contributing boroughs? Of course, according to the reading of the section, a municipal borough was also a Parliamentary borough if it was part of a Parliamentary borough. They were Parliamentary boroughs, although six of them were grouped together. He knew of some boroughs which were Parliamentary boroughs to which the hon. Member would hardly care to grant this privilege. The hon. Member for Swansea sat for a conglomeration of boroughs, one of which was called Kenfig, a borough with about 20 inhabitants.
§ MR. S. EVANS
The hon. Member also sat for Loughor, which had a population considerably under 1,000. Attached to Cardiff, which was the largest borough constituency returning a single Member in the kingdom, was a small ancient town to which this Amendment would apply.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to explain that my Amendment is strictly a corrollary to the Amendment which was accepted, with, I believe, enthusiasm by the Leader of the House; that is to say, the Amendment which included the Council of every municipal borough of not less than 20,000 inhabitants, to which I propose to add, as well as the council of every municipal borough which also returns a Member of Parliament. It would not include a number of grouped boroughs which, together, return a Member of Parliament. My Amendment simply deals with municipal boroughs which return a Member to Parliament, whether these municipal boroughs are under 20,000 or not.
§ MR. S. EVANS
asked whether the hon. Member intended to confer the proposed privilege upon Parliamentary boroughs which combined to make one Parliamentary borough district.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that his Amendment did not cover the case of those boroughs which returned Members of Parliament when grouped together.
§ MR. S. EVANS
argued that a borough which was one of a group returning a 1143 Member was a Parliamentary borough. Many of these boroughs were very small. He held that the proper basis upon which to proceed was the basis of population, and that ancient charters ought not to be considered. He therefore could not support the Amendment.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said that he represented Swansea Town and four contributing boroughs, including Neath, Loughor, Aberavon, and Kenfig. Two of these were not boroughs under the Municipal Act of 1882, but Neath was a large and increasing borough with a mayor and corporation, and its history dated back to a period long antecedent to the foundation of the British Constitution. [Laughter.] to the times when the Romans held sway in this country. Much the same might be said of Aberavon. Apparently the construction now placed upon the Amendment by the hon. Member opposite was that boroughs like Neath would be excluded from its operation; and if that was to be the case he feared that he must reconsider his attitude with regard to the Amendment.
* MR GIBSON BOWLES
said that he was prepared to accept the construction put upon his Amendment. His mind was open to argument, and having heard the arguments advanced he accepted the construction put upon it.
§ MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
said that the Committee ought to have the assurance of the Government that they accepted the construction which had been put on this Amendment. He put in a claim for the borough which he represented, maintaining that the small boroughs were nearly always ancient and had been trained for many years in the habits of self-government.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said that he represented a group of burghs in Scotland, and therefore was probably able to give a perfectly dispassionate opinion on the point. He should consider that every borough forming one of such group was a Parliamentary borough.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 128; Noes, 281:—(Division List, No. 243.)
SIR JOHN LUBBOCK moved to add after the words last inserted the words—
not being a county council, or the council of a borough, when the area of the School Board is conterminous with that of the county or borough council.
He said that this Amendment must be taken in connection with another standing in his name on the Paper. The object was that in places where the areas of the School Board and the County Council were conterminous, the educational authority should be a joint committee of two, with, he hoped, some members added to represent the principal educational institutions. It might be quite right that small School Boards should be under the County Council. Take, however, such a case as London. He spoke with every respect of, and felt a natural pride in the London County Council, but the School Board represented the same area and the same ratepayers. Moreover it was composed of men selected on educational grounds. Surely it was unwise to place such a body under a Committee of the London County Council, which was elected to perform duties of a totally different character. The London County Council was already much pressed with work, and the Bill as it stood would add enormously to it. Moreover, the arrangement he proposed would be advantageous both educationally and economically. Under the proposals of the Bill there would be three sets of examinations—one by the School Board, one by the County Council, and one by the Education Department. This would be very harassing to the schools, and might at times lead to conflicting and embarrassing results. It would be injurious to the schools, and would also be very expensive. The statistical officer of the London County Council had reported that under the Bill our expenses "may quickly rise as high as a penny rate." It was obvious that the London County Council would require new offices and a large additional staff. They were all anxious as far as possible to prevent this, and to avoid duplicating the work.
The best way of effecting this purpose would be to make the new educational authority a joint committee of the London County Council and the School Board. Moreover, the arrangement in the Bill would lead to great friction, whereas if the educational authority was a joint committee of the two it would represent both, and both could feel a pride in its work. He believed he spoke for a majority of London members in expressing a hope that the educational authority for London might represent both these great local authorities, together with some other members representing the Corporation and some of the great educational institutions, such as the University of London, University College, and King's College. Such a body would command the confidence of London. Of course, he spoke specially on behalf of London, but as the same conditions prevailed more or less in other great cities he had put the Amendment in a form which would apply to them also. He hoped that the Amendment would receive the favourable consideration of the Government.
§ MR. STUART
said the Amendment affected not only London, but all the boroughs in which the same circumstances existed. He thought it would meet the convenience of the Committee if he now moved to report Progress.
§ And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.