§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
, who was received with cheers, on rising to ask leave to introduce a Bill to make further provision for education in England and Wales, said: Before, Sir, I describe the Bill which the Government are asking the House to be allowed to introduce, perhaps the House will allow me to mention some of the difficulties in education which the wisdom of Parliament will have to meet There is first the difficulty of Voluntary Schools. Last year the Voluntary Schools educated 2,445,812 children, as against 1,879,218 educated in the Board Schools; or, to put the matter in a more popular form, of every seven children educated by the State, three were educated in Board Schools and four in the Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Whether or not the existence of the Voluntary Schools is an advantage to the State is a matter of controversy. I am one of those who believe that it is an advantage—[cheers]—because they tend to infuse independence, originality, and variety into our national education, and, to some extent, counteract that tendency to uniformity and rigidness which is the usual characteristic of a State system of education. But whatever view may be taken, it is not of great importance for practical Statesmen because the Voluntary Schools are there, and there seems very little prospect of their disappearing within any definite time. ["Hear, hear!"] The Roman Catholics boast —and with truth—that they have never surrendered a single one of their schools to a Board—[Nationalist cheers]—and that those schools which have been discontinued since 1870 have been discontinued in consequence of the fluctuations of population. In 1870, the Church of England had 844,334 children in its schools: in 1895 it had 1,850,545. [Cheers.] The subscriptions, which were, in 1870, £329,846, were, in 1895, £640,406. The little comfort which some people derive from the reflection that, though these subscriptions 527 have enormously increased, they have not increased proportionately to the number of children educated has been dispelled by the results of the last year, for, whereas in 1894 the subscriptions to Church of England Schools amounted to 6s. 8¼d. per child, in 1895 they amounted to 6s. 10½d. [Cheers.] Besides this, the Church of England boast of having spent between 1870 and 1895, a sum of £7,375,402. The Roman Catholics, and a very large part of the members of the Church of England, make it a point of conscience that their children should be educated by teachers of their own denomination; and it would be impossible to force those children out of their own schools into the Board Schools without being guilty of a piece of religious intolerance which the people of England, in these enlightened days, would never consent to. [Cheers.] But there is another lower, but very solid obstacle to the disappearance of the Voluntary Schools, and that is the cost of replacing them. ["Hear, hear!"] I have asked our professional advisers to make some estimate of what this cost would be. I am advised that there are 3,620,805 places in Voluntary Schools which would have to be reprovided. As far as the best experience goes, the cost to the country for every place provided in Board Schools is £13 8s. 8d. That includes London, where the cost is very high. In London the cost is £20 9s. 4d. per child; and, if you exclude London, the cost in the provinces of England and Wales is £11 5s. 10d. per child. My advisers say that it would be much cheaper to provide for those three million children than it has been for those provided for already. There would be presumably a number of Voluntary Schools which could be had extremely cheap, and I am advised that the sum of £7 per head would be a fair and not excessive estimate of the cost. At that rate it would cost the people of this country £25,345,635 to provide schools for the children now being educated in the Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Now, how much does it cost to maintain these schools? In the first place the subscriptions would have to be replaced by the rates, and that would cost £836,000. It is notorious that the expenditure in the Voluntary Schools is 528 very much below that in the Board Schools, and that difference would have to be made up out of the rates. That would amount to £1,373,351. Further, you would have to provide for the correspondence of the different schools, which is now done gratis by the managers; and it is not excessive to say that this administration would cost £5 a school all round, which would add another £72,420 to the cost. That makes altogether, for the annual maintenance of these children, a sum of £2,282,199, and that allows nothing for repairs and improvements. It seems to me that this capital expenditure of £25,000,000, and this annual expenditure of £2,250,000 is a very solid obstacle to the abolition of the Voluntary Schools. [Cheers.] I think, therefore, as far as practical statesmanship is concerned, that the question which this House has to consider is not whether it will abolish the Voluntary Schools— ["hear, hear!"]—but whether they are efficient for the education of the people; and, if not efficient, how they can be best made so. There is no doubt that some of the Voluntary Schools are as good as any schools in the country. ["Hear, hear!"] I have made inquiries from the Inspectors and the advice which they give me is this— that most of the Voluntary Schools in the poorest parts of the great cities labour under financial difficulties, and especially is that so with respect to the Roman Catholic Schools. Those schools are supported, some by religious orders, frequently by begging appeals, by sales of work, by concerts, and by subscriptions of the very poorest people. [Nationalist cheers.] And the provision per head of the scholars in these schools which the managers are able to make is far below that which is provided in the Board Schools in the same great cities. They are further oppressed by the great rise of salaries which has taken place of recent years. I have before me the case of a large school at Westminster, with the same average attendance, where the cost of salaries has risen in six years from £605 to £947. I have the case of another school at Salford in which, in the same six years, and with the same average attendance, the salaries have risen from £981 to £1,282. If you take a survey of the whole country, you find 529 that the sum devoted to the maintenance of children in Voluntary Schools amounts to £1 18s. 11¼d. per child, as against £2 10s. 1¾d. per child in the Board Schools. That makes a difference of 11s. 2½d. per child. And this difference is almost entirely represented by a lower payment to the teaching staff, for the difference in the cost of the teaching staff in the Voluntary Schools and the Board Schools is 9s. 4¼d. per child. This difference, which is so great over the whole extent of the kingdom, is greater still in the great cities. In London the difference is no less than 19s. 9½d.; in Liverpool, 13s. 7d.; in Manchester, 11s. 7d.; and in Leeds, 12s. 1¾d. The result of this difference in the teaching staff in the schools is this, in the first place. All teacher's in Voluntary Schools are lower paid than corresponding teachers in the Board Schools. Take them man for man, and with the same number of children, and you will find all round that the head teachers in the Voluntary Schools are far lower paid than the head teachers in the Board Schools. Then, for assistant teachers, they have cheaper and less qualified teachers. As everyone knows, a concession was made many years ago which allowed schools to have a young woman of upwards of 18, and approved by the Inspector, without any approved specific qualification at all, as an assistant in schools, and that kind of assistant has increased with most marvellous and extraordinary rapidity. There is also, this very year, a concession made in the Code allowing the head teacher in small country schools to be a person possessed of less qualifications. It is a very bad arrangement in my opinion. My poverty, and not my will, consented to it. ["Hear, hear!"] And then the Voluntary Schools have to use to a very great extent that most extravagant form of economy—child labour. [Cheers.] Besides having less qualified teachers Voluntary Schools are, as compared with Board Schools, under-staffed—["hear, hear!"]— that is to say, they have fewer teachers to the same number of children. They only just comply with the minimum recommendations of the Committee of Council. I have said enough to show the House that the question really is, How is the teaching staff 530 in Voluntary Schools to be improved, and what are the means which we should resort to for that purpose? But it is not the Voluntary Schools only that are oppressed by the great weight of their duties. There are necessitous Board Schools as well. [Cheers.] This was foreseen at the time when the Act of 1870 was passed. There is a section of that Act—Section 97—which provides that if a School Board cannot, by levying a 3d. rate, provide a sum of 7s. 6d. per child for the children that it has to educate, then the State will make a contribution from the Exchequer to make up the difference. It was supposed at that time that that was a sufficient and adequate provision. Experience has proved that it is wholly inadequate. There is, near London, the school district of Walthamstow, where the School Board thus been established for the last 15 years, and where the rates during that period have risen from 4d. to 1s. 6d. in the £. It has a population of tradesmen and artisans which has doubled in 10 years, and which is now 61,000. There are 31 schools, and £20,000 a year is being spent on their maintenance. There are new schools now being built, and further schools are urgently required. There are no factories or valuable rating property on which the School Board can operate, and the 1d. rate only raises £800. Under Section 97, the grant which this district obtains is only £956. That is not a solitary instance. There is West Ham, where, in 1895–96, the School Rate is 2s. 4d. in the £. There is the case of Ormesby, near Middlesbrough, where, for the last three years, the rate has averaged 1s. 5¼d.; and there is the case of the Forest of Dean, where the rate is 2s. 5d. in the £. In rural districts, also, there are many School Boards established in small parishes where the rate which has to be levied for the purpose of maintaining the school is of enormous amount. That brings me to say a: few words to the House on the whole subject of rural education. On education in the rural districts there are two diametrically opposite opinions. There are some people who say—though they say it more in private than in public— that education is thrown away on boys who are destined to spend their youth in scaring crows, their manhood in field 531 labour, and their old age in the workhouse. There are other people who say that knowledge and intelligence are among the commodities most needed in the country districts, and that if all classes engaged in the cultivation of the soil, from the top to the bottom, were better informed, we should grow more of the food of the people at home and import less. [Opposition cheers.] But, whichever opinion may be correct, there is nothing to be said in favour of halting between them as we do. We spend subscriptions, rates, and time in the education of the rural population, but we do not carry the operation far enough to raise up an instructed peasantry like that in Normandy or in Denmark, capable of receiving technical education and able to undersell us with their produce. [Opposition cheers.] There is no official information as to the results, but such glimpses of rural education as we get are extremely discouraging. An hon. Member, a week or two ago, called my attention to the amount of illiteracy in the voting for Parliament, and he seemed to be surprised that there were large numbers of the rural voters who could not read or write. There is in Ipswich a labour bureau, which has been carried on for some years under the management of Mr. Wyckham Tozer. Some years ago, finding that a large number of applications came from youths in the country districts round Ipswich, Mr. Tozer formed the idea of making a little educational investigation. He had a form, which he required applicants to fill up in their own handwriting, giving their age, place of birth, school attended, and standard reached. On the back was set a little arithmetical examination—an addition of simple money, a multiplication of a sum of money by 8, and a problem such as: "If 10 lbs. of flour cost so much, what would be the cost of 2 cwt." The result of this investigation was that, of the boys between 16 and 18 years of age who applied for employment, one-fourth could write fairly, one quarter could write moderately, and quite one-half could only write in the most disgraceful manner, both as to penmanship and spelling. As to the arithmetic, 10 per cent. answered the questions, 15 per. cent. were able to do one of the sums set, and 75 per cent. could not answer a single 532 one of the questions. And yet, many of these boys had, a few years before, been in village schools, and some of them had attained as high as the 6th standard. As things are, the only salvation of rural education, such as it is, is the parson's village school. ["Hear, hear!"] He has many advantages as the manager of a school. He is an educated man, and knows something of the necessities of education. I do not say that all School Boards in the country are ill-managed. There are some which are not, generally because the clergyman of the parish or the minister of some other denomination, or some gentleman interested in education takes up the School Board and manages it. But, as a general rule, while the Board Schools in the great cities have proved themselves extremely efficient in education, the Board Schools in the country have proved themselves totally inefficient. ["Hear, hear!"] If you were to replace the Voluntary Schools in the country by Board Schools you would degrade national education. [Cheers.] I think this is proved very often by the efforts which the people themselves make in the country districts to avert what they regard as the calamity of School Boards. There are numberless places, both country parishes and small towns, in which for years past a voluntary rate has been levied, and a committee of the inhabitants have been appointed who have applied this voluntary rate to subsidise the Church and Dissenting Schools, and have in this way kept off what they considered to be the calamity of a School Board. ["Hear, hear!"] The records of the Education Office are full of examples of the absurdities and incapacities of country School Boards. The House will remember that not many weeks ago I was questioned by the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth, who called attention to the fact that a School Board was educating its infants in a room in the "New Buck Inn." ["Hear, hear!"] In the Educational Report for 1894–5 there is a quotation from Mr. Wilson, an Inspector in the Eastern Division of England, who says that the school attendance is far from satisfactory, and that some of the smaller Boards do not even pretend to enforce the law. Indeed, they cannot, as it is part of 533 their election pledges not to prosecute for irregular attendance. [Laughter.] The following passage, however, in. the general Report for 1894, drawn up by Mr. Brodie, till recently Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for the South Western Division of England, and published in the Report of the Education Department for 1895, contains the most outspoken criticism of the proceedings of some small country Boards:—The climax is reached in the country Board school. True, indeed, it is that a few of those are well managed, but in by far the most there is no management at all worthy of the name; there is no pride in progress, nay, the very reverse. Additional subjects mean additional staff, additional apparatus; the rates must be kept down, the school starved, the teacher underpaid, and sometimes, if the inspector does not sternly forbid it, some young, raw, untrained, and even stupid relative of one of the members of the School Board is to be foisted on to the teaching staff [laughter and cheers], to produce such rotten fruit as may be expected when a sickly graft is added to an already unhealthy tree. I subjoin two facts which have come to my knowledge. In one country Board school, which, by the great vigour and ability of the master, aided by a clever wife, had obtained great success, the master was rewarded by having his salary cut down by £20. Why P J answer (not without indignation), because he had earned that amount by his able conduct of the night school. In another country Board school an active and zealous young mistress was dismissed because she wished to teach geography [laughter] and was otherwise ardent for progress. She was replaced by a middle-aged and wornout woman, who at no time could have had much capacity for teaching, and who could neither keep order nor get the children on. [Laughter.] Thus do the 'rude forefathers of the hamlet' nip the budding intellect of ingenuous youth. What a penny-wise, pound-foolish system![Cheers.] Then I should like the House to note the condition of the rural teachers. What arrangement have we in country places for the supply of rural teachers? Our pupil-teachers are a sort of child-drudge. He or she walks to school, often at some distance; lessons are taken either before school, in the dinner hour when the children are playing, or after school, when the others have gone home; they are teaching all day long in the school, and they have to walk home when the work is over. This is not the way to bring up teachers. [Cheers.] If anyone would contrast the treatment of our country teachers with the treatment of teachers in France or Germany I think they would not be surprised that the 534 general level of country education in France and Germany is greatly superior to our own. There are no centres for teaching pupil-teachers as in great towns, and the consequence is that when the Queen's Scholarships examination comes on the places are filled by town-bred pupil-teachers; and only one or two country-bred teachers are squeezed in at the bottom of the list. Heads of training colleges will tell you that such country teachers as do squeeze in steadily rise in their ability and training, showing that their deficiencies are not in natural capacity, but only in the way in which they have been trained. I hope that I have said enough to convince the House that there is some valuable work before them in reference to elementary education. Now I will say a few words upon secondary education. It is not a question whether we should now proceed to interfere with secondary education. We are interfering with secondary education [cheers], have been interfering with it for years; but the question is whether we interfere in a foolish or in a wise manner. At the present time secondary education is being supervised by ten separate authorities, four central and six local. The central authorities are—first, the Charity Commissioners, who frame schemes for the use of educational endowments and who generally supervise the administration of those educational endowments in particular places, not doing this entirely by themselves, but, consulting, to some extent, the Education Department. Secondly, there is the Science and Art Department, which makes grants of public money to schools and classes, thereby exercising a most powerful influence on the secondary education of the country. They lay down the conditions on which they give their grants. First, schools must bee the runder the local authority or School Board, under the governing body of endowed schools, or a local Committee which is appointed, and under whose approval encouragement is given to make organised science schools— that is to say, to have a curriculum which is to be pursued for three years in accordance with plans prescribed by the Science and Art Department. They pay grants according to results, and in that way they have exercised a notable influence on secondary education. Among 535 other things they have greatly depressed the literary side of education, and though that is now modified, the payment is half by results and half by attendance. The result indicated, however, has been produced, and it will take many years to undo it. Then there is the Education Department, which influences the secondary education first of all, through its higher grade schools, which supply many great cities with excellent secondary education, and often the only secondary education obtainable. Then there are evening schools, which again supply secondary education; and finally, there are the training colleges, which, though confined to a particular class—namely, those who are country teachers—are secondary schools in every sense of the word; and the last central authority is the Board of Agriculture. [Laughter.] The Board of Agriculture may inspect and report on any school in which technical instruction on any subject connected with agriculture is given. The subjects include chemistry, physic, biology, geology, mensuration, surveying, levelling, and book-keeping, and schools may be aided out of a Parliamentary grant. Now I come to the local authorities. The first and most important local authority is the County Council. The County Council, under the Technical Instruction Acts of 1889–91, may impose a penny rate for the purpose of giving aid to technical instruction, and they have also the power to apply to technical instruction the residue of the local taxation money under the Act of 1890 after reserves have been made for police and valuation. I have been inquiring how many counties in England and Wales apply this local taxation grant money of 1890 to the purpose of education. I find that in Wales the whole of the Welsh counties, including Monmouth and the three county boroughs in Wales, all apply the whole of their money to education. [Opposition cheers.] In England, out of 49 counties, 41 apply the whole of their money to education, and eight apply a portion of it. Out of 61 county boroughs in England, 55 devote the whole and five a part, and one only applies the whole of the money in relief of these rates. Besides that there are 536 11 county boroughs, 51 other boroughs, and 86 urban districts which impose rates under the powers of the Technical Instruction Act for the purposes of education; and one county (Wilts) has made a rate on a small area round Calne for the erection of an institute in the town. For the building purposes of education the counties have spent £332,135, and the county boroughs have sunk £662,836. Altogether, of all the moneys which were received under the Local Taxation (1890) Act, the whole of it is applied to education with the exception of £115,643, of which £115,758 is in London, so that only £35,885 is reserved in the towns and counties of England and Wales for that purpose. Then come the local governing bodies, such as the governing bodies of endowed schools, the managing committees of proprietary schools and institutes, the local committees of the Science and Art Department, School Boards giving secondary education, and managers of Voluntary Schools, who also, in many places, give secondary education. In the appendix to the Report of the Secondary Education Commission the House will find a very interesting table which shows what each county authority and county borough receives in the shape of endowment for science and art grants, local taxation grants, and rates applied for the purpose of education. It appears from it that there was actually spent in 1894 in England and Wales for secondary education by these various authorities £1,424,404, and if those authorities were to exercise all the powers which they possess under the various Acts, then there would be at the disposal of secondary education £2,381,184. Many public secondary schools draw their income from a number of different sources. It is drawn from their fees, endowments, science and art grants, county council grants, the Education Department, the Board of Agriculture, and the School Board. They are inspected and examined by a variety of those different authorities. There is a piece of evidence from one of the witnesses before the Royal Commission on Secondary Education which I should like to read. It is from Mr. J. Easter-brook, Head Master of Owen's School, 537 Islington, a member of the Head Masters' Association. He says:—The multiplicity of examinations is such a pressing evil that we really feel that there should he some relief afforded us. T will give you a list of the examinations which one particular school has to keep its eye on during the year:— the drawing examination of the Science and Art Department in April, the science examination in May, the matriculation of the London University in January and June, the London County Council intermediate scholarships in June. That is the case of London. Then there is the intermediate science and art examination in July, the London Chamber of Commerce examination in July. Then comes the annual examination required by the Charity Commissioners' scheme, the Cambridge local examination in December, and during the year, at different times, Civil Service examinations, professional examinations, and open scholarships at the Universities, I am not overstating it in any case. I am giving the case of a particular school.It is not surprising, after what I have said, that the Secondary Education Commissioners report upon this subject in the following terms. This is the justification of the Government for bringing in the Measure which they are going to ask the House to adopt. The Commissioners, speaking of the want of coherence and correlation of secondary education, say:—Of the loss now incurred through the want of such coherence and correlation it is impossible to speak too strongly. … Unfortunately, so far from tending to euro itself, it is an evil which every day strikes its roots deeper. The existing authorities and agencies whose want of co-operation we lament, are each of them getting more accustomed to the exercise of their present powers and less disposed to surrender them. Vested interests are being created which will stand in the way of the needed reforms. Thus, the difficulty of introducing the needful coherence and correlation becomes constantly greater, and will be more serious a year or two hence than it is at the present moment. We feel bound, therefore, to state the opinion, which has grown stronger in us since we entered upon this inquiry, that the matter is one of urgency, and ought to engage the very early attention of your Majesty's advisers and of Parliament.I come now to the last point to which I wish to direct attention—namely, the Education Department itself. As long ago as 1859, the present Bishop of London and Lord Lingen both declared, before the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, that the complication in the Education Office was enormous owing to the central system. In 1887, Mr. Patrick 538 Cumin, the Secretary to the Education Department said:—The tremendous detail of looking into every school of the country was too cumbrous. It was all very well when education was a small affair, but now that it had become national it seemed to him that the system was too detailed.Last year the Education Office inspected 19,789 day and 3,421 evening schools. From each of these schools the office received direct communications, a return from the managers, and a report from the inspector; and, as each pair of day school returns has 1,659 blank spaces that have to be dealt with, it follows that the department had to do last year with 32,829,951 blank spaces. [Laughter.] As the payment made to these schools depends upon the accurate scrutiny of these blank spaces they must be very carefully looked at, and each document has to go through 54 different stages. [Laughter.] There are 31,476 pupil teachers under the supervision of the Department, and every one of them has a separate report examined in the office. I do not think the House really knows where the Educational Department is. [Laughter.] Hon. Members fancy it is in Whitehall, but there there are only the secretarial staff and certain heads of department. A great part of the Department is housed in Canada Buildings, in King Street; another part is in the old Census offices; another in Northumberland Avenue, and the staff of the Director of Special Inquiries are now wandering about looking for a home. [Laughter.] Having tried to give the House some idea of the existing state of things, I now come to the Bill itself. The principle of the Measure is the establishment in every county and county borough of a paramount education authority. It is to be one channel through which public money is to reach the schools; it is to supplement, and not to supersede, existing educational effort, and it is to be a sort of separate Education Department for each county and for each county borough. The proposal is not novel. It was recommended by the Duke of Newcastle's Committee in 1861 as regards elementary education; by the School Inquiry Commission of 1868, as regards secondary education; by the Technical Instruction Commission of 539 1884, as regards technical and secondary education; in a memorandum issued by Lord Cross's Commission in 1888; and, finally by the Secondary Education Commission which has just reported. It is proposed in the Bill that the Education Authority shall be the County Council, acting through a statutory Educational Committee; and it is proposed to leave the number and composition of this committee entirely in the discretion of the County Council. There are some admirable suggestions in the Report of the Secondary Education Commission as to the constitution of these bodies. These suggestions relate to the question of the presence of women on these committees, to the question of the election of experts and of teachers representatives, and so forth. The only restriction that will be placed on the composition of a committee is that a majority of its members must be members of the County Council. Power is given to counties to combine for the purposes of the Bill. In counties where the circumstances are special, as in the County of London, the County Council may itself propose a scheme for the special constitution of a committee which, when approved by the Education Department, will become the committee for the county, and in the case of Wales the governing bodies under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act will become the committees. It is proposed to decentralise entirely the administration of school grants by the Education Department, and to throw upon these bodies the duties of administering the Parliamentary grant. The general inspection of schools will, of course, be undertaken also by the county authority, and the Committee of Council, the central government, will only have inspectors who will visit the schools from time to time to see that the county education authority is properly fulfilling its duties and that the education is up to the proper standard. It is hoped that this arrangement will lead to a decentralisation of the Code, and that, instead of our attempting to impose one rigid system of education from the Land's End to Berwick-upon-Tweed, each county and county borough shall be able to make such modifications in the Code as may be suitable to its particular local circumstances. Then it is proposed to hand over to this committee the powers of the 540 County Council under the Technical Instruction Act, 1889. The money received under the Local Taxation Act, 1890, will be specially applicable to secondary education and will be administered by the education authority and may be accumulated. This authority will also be the school attendance committee in all places which have not a School Board. Lastly, this authority will constitute a body to which may be intrusted hereafter those unhappy children of the State who are to be found in industrial and Poor Law schools, and this body may deliver them from the prison taint on the one hand and the workhouse taint on the other. This authority will exercise all the powers given to the County Council with regard to industrial and reformatory schools, and may make contracts with Boards of Guardians to take charge of Poor Law children, so that they may be brought up in a humane fashion and may have a chance of becoming honest, self-supporting men. [Cheers.] Then this authority is to distribute a special-aid grant to necessitous schools. The committee will receive from the Exchequer a sum of 4s. for every child in voluntary schools or in the schools of those School Boards which come under Section 97 of the Act of 1870. This special-aid grant will be divided among the voluntary schools with a deduction for any endowments which they may possess, and, as regards the Board Schools, it will, in the first place, be used for making good any grants which they are entitled to, and the residue will be used for the general assistance of Board schools which stand in need of further help from public sources. But in both cases the amounts received are appropriated, in the first place, to the improvement of the teaching staff, and it is only in cases where the teaching staff does not require improving that the sums may be applied to other definite purposes which are specified in the Bill. There is a power given to schools to federate themselves either by districts or denominations, and in case a federation of schools is formed the education authority of the county may pay over the whole grant to which the group of schools is entitled in a lump sum, leaving it to be distributed according to a scheme to be approved by the Education Department. 541 Any surplus left in their hands will be applied to local purposes of elementary education as the Education Department may sanction. There are also provisions for examination and inspection, and for the auditing of accounts by district auditors in order to insure that the money is applied to the purposes for which it is given. In case the voluntary schools in any district which has not at present a School Board break down and other provision for education becomes necessary in a county borough, the education authority becomes the School Board; and in any other district, parish, urban district, or non-county borough the district is to have the option of having a School Board as at present. There is no compulsion, with the exception that if it is a borough the School Board is not to be an elected School Board; but there is to be a Committee of the municipal council formed on the analogy of the Education Department. If the district does not choose to have a School Board, then the educational authority of the county becomes the School Board for the parish, district, or borough, and after an opportunity has been given for establishing a School Board, they may take over the elementary schools in any district, and become in that way virtually the School Board for the district. Then, in the case of a defaulting School Board, if a School Board becomes a defaulter, the education authority becomes the School Board for the district; but in performing their duties as a School Board in reference to the control and management of schools, they must delegate their authority to manage to local managers. They are not directly to manage the schools themselves. ["Hear, hear!"] In the case of county boroughs the local managers are to be appointed by the education authority themselves, and in the case of other boroughs by the municipal council; and in the case of parishes, half by the parish and half by the education authority. Then these schools are to be paid for either by a rate upon the district or by a county rate charged on all those districts for which the education authority acts as a School Board. This will tend to and I hope it will grow into a system under which all those parts of the county in 542 which there are public schools will all be connected with and under the authority of the county education authority and will be maintained out of the general county rate. As regards secondary education, the new authority will be able to aid schools out of the money at their disposal, to aid schools for secondary education and to establish them; and with the consent of the Education Department they may take a transfer from the School Boards of their higher-grade schools and so become managers of higher-grade schools. Then they may apply their money to scholarships and the supply of teachers. They may inquire into the sanitary condition of all schools—[Cheers]—and they may also inquire Into the education given in all schools except those which are decided to be non-local. In the case of local schools they may publish any information they may think proper as to the efficiency of those schools. Besides all this, the Bill contains also a number of miscellaneous Amendments of the Education Act, which I will very shortly enumerate. There is the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit. [Cheers.] There is a clause exempting elementary schools from all rates. Then, I am happy to say that the age of school attendance is raised to 12 years. [Cheers.] There is no attempt to deal with the question of half-time, and the clause is one similar to that passed by the right hon. Gentleman the late Vice President of the Council two years ago, except that the age of 11 is turned into 12. Then powers are given to the county authorities to lend money to the managers of voluntary schools on the security of the school buildings; and there are limits put to the School Board rate, requiring any increase in the rate in consequence of the maintenance of children to be sanctioned by the public authority before it is levied. [Cheers.]
§ SIR J. GORST
If the district is a borough, it must be the council of the borough; if it is an urban district, it must be the district council, and in any other case the County Council of the county in which the district is situated. Finally, the Government have put a i clause in the Bill in the hopes of laying 543 the very last objection which could be made to elementary education on religious grounds. I did not enumerate the religious difficulty as one of the difficulties which had to be surmounted by Parliament, because the religious difficulty is no difficulty at all in the schools. [Cheers.] It is never heard of there. It is a difficulty which flourishes in Parliament and on the platform. [Cheers.] Since I have held the office I now have the honour to hold, I have asked in many schools whether there was any religious difficulty, and I have never yet found that there was any. I have never found a school teacher to tell me at first hand that they have ever had any difficulty with the parents, children, or anyone else on the teaching of religion to the children. This clause is a kind of supplement to the conscience clause. It not only enables a parent to withdraw his child from religious instruction of which he does not approve, but it also helps him to secure that religious instruction which he requires. [Cheers.] The provision is that in every elementary school one of the conditions of receiving a Government grant is, that if a reasonable number of parents of children require to have separate religious instruction given to them, then it is the duty of the managers of the school to permit of reasonable arrangements being-made for allowing that religious instruction to be given. ["Hear, hear!"] It is hoped that in that way, if there are any parents who conscientiously desire that their children should be instructed separately from the other children in the schools, it is the duty of the managers of the schools to give every possible facility for the teaching of that form of religion which they require. I do hope that this may be accepted by the House of Commons as a sincere attempt on the part of the Government to introduce a system of perfect religious toleration. [Cheers.] I am very much obliged to the House for allowing me to make this very long statement—[cheers]—and I hope the Bill will be approached by the House of Commons in a really businesslike spirit. I cannot, of course, expect that every clause will be generally accepted on both sides of the House, but I hope that the principle of the Bill will be, and that we shall all co-operate 544 together to make this a real step in advance in the education of the country. [Cheers.]
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (Yorks, W. R., Rotherham)
observed that this was, perhaps, not a very favourable opportunity on which to deal with the extremely important statement which had just been made; and he thought he ought to say that it was absolutely necessary for them to see the Bill in print before they could give a complete judgment on the matter. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman would understand that he cast no reflection whatever on the admirably clear and lucid statement he had made— [cheers]—but if he understood the Bill rightly it was—he was going to say the greatest upheaval—certainly the most enormous change in the educational system which this country had ever seen. He felt that the additions that were made to what was promised in the Queen's Speech were so large, were not only unexpected but included so many details and spread over so wide a field, that they would probably of necessity involve the House in long Debates. As far as he understood the propositions of the Bill they added at least two particular items to the promises in the Queen's Speech. The Queen's Speech stated that further assistance was to be given to elementary schools under voluntary management. Under this Bill it was to be given, under what conditions he confessed he did not see quite clearly, to schools under School Board management. Besides that, a further Measure in the direction of the organisation of secondary or intermediate education appeared to be included in the Bill. He felt sure that almost everyone in the House would heartily agree with the Vice President as to the importance of that subject. He certainly for one had been brought up in that faith. He was brought up on the papers, evidence, and Report of Lord Taunton's great Commission, which laid the foundation of almost every great Report and speech made on that subject during the last 30 years. The proposal to delegate this work to local bodies was one which they would all be able to approve—["Hear, hear!"]—and although he would not attempt to go into all the details, there was one necessary 545 remark—and that was that hitherto the work of the newly-formed county governing bodies in Wales under the Intermediate Education Act had been carried on under most favourable circumstances. It had been carried out almost apart from the inevitable controversy that surrounded the problem of elementary education. He hoped that it might be so carried on in future. ["Hear, hear!"] He observed that the Lord President, speaking only a few weeks ago, evidently felt this problem himself. In giving away the prizes to the scholars under the Technical Education Board of London, which handled a sum of, he thought,£120,000 a year, and which carried on a quiet and most valuable work, the Duke of Devonshire congratulated that body because they had escaped the controversies which surrounded, and almost inevitably surrounded, the problem of elementary education, and which, as the noble Duke said, tended to divide people so much into two hostile camps. For the advantage of secondary education he sincerely hoped that these bodies to whom this most important work was to be committed would not be involved in these almost inevitable controversies, which had so often surrounded the business and the elections of so many of their School Boards. He thought they might almost pay too great a price for such a valuable been as the organisation of secondary education if it came under such conditions as he had mentioned. He understood that these bodies were, on behalf of secondary education, to deal with what is commonly called the "drink money." He did not quite gather whether that money was to be, as heretofore, permissively or compulsorily applied.
§ MR. ACLAND
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned one particular borough which spent none of this money on technical education. Can that borough go on spending nothing at all if it likes?
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he understood from that that it was to be compulsorily applied to secondary education, and he was sincerely glad to hear it, because this large fund would be applied once for 546 all to educational purposes. [Cheers.] He understood the science and art grant was to be distributed among these bodies. He did not know whether he followed the right hon. Gentleman in that.
§ SIR J. GORST
Both the ordinary elementary education grant and the science and art grant will be handed over, as arrangements can be made, to these authorities to distribute. They will distribute it according to a plan which is being settled between the Government and the authorities, and which will be laid before Parliament.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he understood the science and art grant was to be devoted to secondary purposes, and the Whitehall grant to elementary purposes. Then, besides these grants, there was a further grant, which might be called the new fund. He did not know whether they could estimate this new fund at, roughly, three quarters of a million. He supposed it must approximate to that sum.
§ SIR J. GORST
Perhaps I ought to say that it will be a little more than half a million for England and Wales.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, that when Scotland and Ireland received their proportion it would bring it up to something like £600,000, he believed. He understood that this new grant fell entirely on the ever-patient Treasury, and that no local contribution was to be made to meet it. [Cheers.] The method of distribution, as far as he understood it, was to concentrate this money upon certain classes of schools. Certainly that was to be the case with regard to Board Schools. Only a certain class of Board Schools were to be entitled to receive any share of this new grant, but all the voluntary schools, as he understood it, were to receive 4s. a head whether they were rich or poor. No distinction was made between any class of voluntary schools which was to receive this grant. He confessed he thought they would be involved in great difficulty as to the distribution of this grant between different localities and between different kinds of authorities, but he supposed the Bill would be so framed as to try and avert any of those questions which were raised, for instance, in the Local Government Act of 1888 between competing counties and competing boroughs and the like, by making it a 547 4s. grant per child and drawing no distinction between one locality and another and between one class of schools and another, and only drawing a distinction in the case of a School Board where the rates were very high. It seemed to him that the provision would be very difficult to carry out. ["Hear, hear!"] If they took a distressed country district, in Essex, for instance, and they had two parishes side by side, one of which had a voluntary school, with, perhaps, a 2d. voluntary rate, and next door to it, under exactly the same agricultural conditions, they had a Board School, under a School Board, which might have been set up 20 years ago, and with a rate of perhaps 5d. or 6d., did not that bring that School Board district under the conditions which would enable it to receive part of this new grant? It seemed to him that the farmers and ratepayers in that School Board parish would feel somewhat aggrieved if they got no relief at all—[cheers]—when the farmers and ratepayers in the voluntary school district might receive very considerable relief indeed. He did not understand that any definite conditions were to be made in return for this grant of 4s. per child.
§ SIR J. GORST
Oh, yes. I said the grants were to be distributed for certain specific purposes. I will tell the House what they are. The special aid grant "shall" be applied in such manner as the educational authorities direct for the purposes of improving the teaching staff, as regards number, qualification, or salary; and so far as it is not, in the opinion of the educational authorities, required for that purpose, it is to be applied to any of the following purposes—namely, the payment of the teaching staff; the provision of special teachers, whether on the permanent staff or not; to the improvement of the education of pupil-teachers; or to the improvement of the education and fittings and apparatus of the school.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he thought he understood that part, but what he did not understand was whether anything was to be done to prevent a proportionate lessening of the voluntary contribution. ["Hear, hear!"] In the instance he had put it seemed to him that in the one case the 2d. rate might disappear, and in the other case the School Board rate 548 of 4d. or 6d. would be absolutely maintained. [Cheers.] He confessed he thought some condition of this sort should be made. The Archbishop of Canterbury's own suggestion was that a certain proportion of voluntary contribution should be made a condition of any grant whatsoever. ["Hear, hear!"] He felt that this scheme was so large and so widespreading that any attempt to criticise it in detail now would be impossible, but he must say that, much as he agreed, from practical experience, in the belief that their system of elementary education was too centralised, it seemed to him that this sudden and hasty plan of almost complete decentralisation was abnegating the authority and the influence of the State almost to too large an extent. [Cheers.] He did not quite follow what the Whitehall inspectors would do in future, what powers they were to have in future, or in what way the State, if it found the level falling rapidly, was going to try and raise that level again. ["Hear, hear!"] Perhaps they would see some provision for this purpose made in the Bill. He passed from this very large and gigantic proposal, which was the kernel of the Bill—the almost complete abnegation of State influence and the handing of it over to local authorities—to another matter on which he had only one word to say. The complete abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit was the final withdrawal of that last shred of the principle of the Act of 1870 which was left in the Act of 1876, and which was inserted by the Conservative Government of that day in order to preserve at least some part of the principle that local grants should be forthcoming to meet the State grant. That, as he understood, now finally disappeared for ever, but he did not know whether the condition under which the grants were to be made was going to preserve the arrangement by which local contributions were to be forthcoming to meet the county contributions which would be made in future. If they followed in any way the Whitehall method he supposed they would still demand some kind of conditions of this sort. The rating of all voluntary schools was to be abolished, and the burden, he assumed, was to be cast upon the general, long-suffering ratepayer himself. The clause 549 which raised the age to 12 years would, he was quite sure, receive the approval of everyone in the House—[cheers]—and it came most appropriately from the right hon. Gentleman himself, who had always been thoroughly in earnest on this matter. [Cheers.] He would say, incidentally, how sincerely he sympathised with what the right hon. Gentleman had said about their child pupil-teachers—["Hear, hear!"]—and already, in the Code of this year, he had advanced one step towards relieving them from the number of hours' work which they had to give in their schools. The arrangement about rates—making the County Council in London and the county boroughs and the district councils superior bodies over and above School Boards to check their rate—would, he thought, meet with a considerable amount of criticism on the part of the various educational authorities. ["Hear, hear!"] In what way they were going to check the rate he did not exactly understand; perhaps they would understand it better when they saw the Bill. The last provision which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, and by which he hoped, as he understood, to remove finally and once for all the question of the religious difficulty in relation to their schools, was one the discussion of which, he confessed, he should view with some apprehension. He thought that many persons would regret that the Cowper-Temple clause was now going to be removed and another set of provisions substituted. He was no worshipper of the Cowper-Temple clause, but——
§ MR. ACLAND,
resuming: Surely the Temple-Cowper Clause stood that in every State-aided school in this country no instruction should be given which involved the teaching of formularies or catechisms. He understood that in future, when groups of parents desired instruction in formularies and catechisms, they were to obtain it in every class of school, whether Board School or Voluntary School. ["Hear, hear!"] That he ventured to call the abolition of the Cowper - Temple Clause. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not say the Cowper-Temple Clause was an object of worship on the part of anybody. All that could 550 be said of it was that it was a kind of practical compromise which had worked extremely well for the past 26 years, and that statement could be supported by a large amount of authority from every good supporter of the present Government. It had worked well for 26 years, and 13 of those 26 years had been under Conservative administrations who never wished to modify or change it, and he confessed that it seemed to him that modifying it in the School Boards altogether, with all the corresponding arrangements in the Voluntary Schools, was likely to increase rather than to allay the religious difficulties. However that might be, he, for his own part, should do his best, as he was sure every other Member would do, to approach a difficult question of this kind without animosity, and to find out what might be, under the circumstances, the most satisfactory way out of the difficulty. ["Hear, hear!"] Whatever their expectations might have been, he thought that none of them anticipated what a very large Measure this was going to be. He could only say that this was not the occasion for suggesting any alternative, for criticising in detail any omissions in the Bill, or for saying anything about some of those matters—such as the present methods of management, especially in our village schools, and the position of the teachers in those schools—which had been raised outside the House by various Members of the Party to which he belonged, ["Hear, hear!"] He would not now attempt to touch on those matters, because he felt that it would be out of place to do so on a First Reading of the Bill, and on the day when hon. Members were going off for their Easter holidays. ["Hear, hear!"] He would only conclude by saying that, however difficult, however involved, and however intricate might be the discussion which inevitably lay before them, he thought they should all do their best not to embitter it, and not to make it more controversial than it must inevitably be. ["Hear, hear!"] For the present, all they had to do, after having had a general outline of the Bill so clearly and lucidly put before them by the right hon. Gentleman, was to get hold of the printed Bill as soon as they could, and to give careful and fair-minded consideration to all its proposals. [Cheers.]
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ *MR. R, C. JEBB (Cambridge University)
said, he should not trespass long on the time of the House, but as a Member of the recent Commission on Secondary Education he should like to say a few words on certain definite and salient points of that large, statesmanlike Measure—[cheers] —which had been introduced with so much ability and lucidity by his right hon. Friend. [Renewed cheers.] The distinctive principle of the Bill was the creation of a new educational authority, with jurisdiction over an entire county. He thought one of the greatest merits of the Bill was its elasticity. The County Council could adapt its Education Committee to special local requirements; it could combine with other County Councils, and he was sure, though this was not stated, it would be open to a County Council, if it thought proper, to subdivide its area and appoint separate Education Committees for different districts. Last, but not least, the education authority would have power, with the consent of the Education Department, to modify the Regulations of the Code with regard to the special circumstances of a locality. He thought it would be difficult to lay too much stress on the advantage of greater flexibility and diversity. Educational needs differed not only from county to county, but as between different districts in the same county. In their system above the elementary they had abundant variety and elasticity, but in their elementary education there had not been an equal measure of these inestimable qualities. No one. would grudge praise for the work which had been so admirably done by the Education Department; it deserved the gratitude of the country; but some room was left for a larger flexibility and a better adjustment of the diversity of local wants. The late Vice President spoke of the Bill as a decentralising Measure, but he should say the Bill provided safeguards. It was a decentralising Measure, he thought, in the best sense. It provided that local experience and local discretion should have due weight in educational matters. ["Hear, hear!"] Then, as to the Special Aid Grant, that was to be given in the proper direction. 552 He joined in the hope that the Bill would be discussed in a conciliatory spirit, and he denied utterly that the friends of the Voluntary Schools were actuated by hostility to Board Schools. Such an imputation was, so far as he knew, entirely unjust. ["Hear, hear!"] They acknowledged the excellent work they were doing, and that in their own sphere they should continue to prosper. But these schools alone did not suffice for the needs of the country. There was a large proportion of the people who preferred that elementary education should include definite instruction in the form of religious belief which they held. ["Hear, hear!"] Most of them aimed at the formation of character in addition to education, and religion was one of the agencies in that work. A man who thought that religion was not adequately represented by the religious instruction given in a Board School might reasonably think that the education given in a Board School was not such as he could deem satisfactory. That view was held, as a matter of fact, by vast numbers of people. Hon. Members might or might not agree with them; but they could not fairly or wisely treat their view as a mere caprice, for indulging in which they deserved to be penalised in respect of the aid given by the State towards education, while they themselves were paying rates in support of an education which they could not conscientiously use. They must look at this matter in a reasonable and practical way. Voluntary schools actually held an enormous place in the supply of elementary education. If they were starved and disabled, there was nothing to put in their stead. But, owing to the heightened standard of educational requirement, it was impossible to maintain these schools in thorough efficiency without some further aid. The case, then, for some such moderate aid as this Bill afforded seemed unanswerably strong, looking at the matter not from the point of view of any religious denomination, but in the light of what was required for the efficiency of our elementary education as a whole. Two points ought to be noticed in connection with the Special Aid Grant. First, that it could be applied only to such purposes as would directly contribute to improve the efficiency of the school aided, 553 as by providing a larger or better teaching staff, or better educational fittings and apparatus. Secondly, that encouragement would be given to the federation of voluntary schools, which had too frequently suffered from isolation. A most important part of the Hill was that which enabled the new Education Authority to assume the care of orphan and destitute children. Subject to approval by the Education Department and the Local Government Board, the new education authority could make a contract with any Board of Guardians, and take over the care and maintenance of all or any of the children chargeable to that Union. It was clearly an advantage that this duty should be undertaken by a body with powers over the whole county. And it was a still greater advantage that the body in question should be an educational authority, which would act with a view to the education of the child, and not merely, like a Board of Guardians, with a view to the relief of a pauper. ["Hear, hear!"] It was a great thing that the taint of pauperism would be absent. Then the new Education Authority would command special facilities for boarding-out children; and in every village the elementary school teacher would be an agent-through whom the Education Authority could watch over the well-being of the children. As the House knew, this was a question in which the electors felt a very keen interest. There was no constituency, it might safely be said, which would not hail with satisfaction a Measure which thus conduced to the more rational and humane treatment of destitute children. ["Hear, hear!"] The new Education Authority was to have certain powers in regard to secondary education which, so far as they went, would doubtless tend to mitigate some admitted evils which now existed. These evils are chiefly — first, a deficient supply of secondary education, especially in the lower grades; secondly, the waste and confusion caused by schools of different types trespassing on each other's provinces; and, thirdly, want of coherence and organic relation between the controlling agencies, such as the Education Department, the Science and Art Department, and the Charity Commission. The new education authority would be 554 able to deal directly with the first two of these evils; and since some powers of the Education Department and the Science and Art Department would be united in it, it would so far tend to mitigate the third evil—the want of relation between the supervising agencies It was very satisfactory to note that the money available under the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act of 1890 was expressly appropriated to education above the elementary. It would probably be a matter of regret in some quarters that the Bill established no new Central Authority corresponding to the new Local Authority. The suggestion of the recent Commission on Secondary Education was that the Central Authority for Secondary Education should be. a new department (or rather a new branch of the Education Department) with a Minister at its head, and a Council of educational experts whom the Minister might occasionally consult on professional matters; this Council having also the duty of deciding what schools were non-local, and of forming and keeping a register of teachers. He believed that some such Central Authority would have to be established before our secondary education could be thoroughly organised. Meanwhile, it might be pointed out that the freedom which this Bill left to the Local Authority was quite in harmony with the intentions of the Commission. The Central Authority proposed in their Report was not meant to produce a rigid or bureaucratic uniformity; its object was, not to control, but to supervise— to assist the discharge of the duties assigned to the local bodies, and to promote a general harmony among them. It should also be noted that the Government had put down on the Paper a Teachers' Registration Bill. A plan for forming a register of duly qualified teachers would be a valuable supplement to the Measure which had now been introduced. This Bill might not satisfy all desires—few Bills did; it would, perhaps, receive some modifications of detail in Committee; but it seemed to him to deserve a cordial welcome, for it was conceived in a large and fair spirit, it aimed at a real progress, and it promised some very important improvements, both in elementary and in secondary education. [Cheers.]
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON (York, W.R., Morley)
thought that the Acts of 1870 and 1876 had not worked so hardly upon Denominational Schools as the hon. Member who had just spoken had represented. The hon. Member had told them that these schools were threatened with starvation and extinction, but he believed it was the fact that the Church of England schools had greatly increased since 1870 up to the present time; and that fact alone would seem to prove that they flourished under the present state of affairs. There was one point in the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman which had not been alluded to by his predecessor in Office; the new authority which he was going to establish not only had power to administer these large grants, but had considerable powers in relation to the framing of the Code. What was the object of the Education Code? He supposed it was to secure some standard of efficient education in our schools throughout the country, but if every new authority was to be allowed to frame a Code according to its own will, they certainly might have a, variety of methods and subjects, but they might also have a variety as to efficiency. [Cheers.] He thought the right hon. Gentleman should be careful to so safeguard this power that the standard of education might not be lowered.
§ SIR J. GORST
said, the power to frame Codes was not a power which the Education Authority in the county could exercise by itself. It could only make such modifications of the Code as might be approved by the Education Department.
§ MR. HUTTON
said, he hoped the Department would take care not to allow the new authorities to lower the standard. With regard to the financial proposals, he thought they hit the Board schools very hardly throughout the country. The 4s. per scholar would reach very few School Boards, while every Voluntary School would receive this grant. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would, when the details of the Bill were reached, see that it would be necessary that one section only of the community should not be treated differently from another. If the right hon. Gentleman abolished the 17s. 6d. limit, as he proposed to do, there would be no need for any voluntary subscriptions at 556 all in future. The supporters of the Government had frequently acknowledged that in dealing with this question it was to be one of the necessary conditions that no grant should be made unless the voluntary subscription was given throughout the country, and he thought the least the right hon. Gentleman could do would be to introduce into the Bill that the managers of voluntary schools should receive a subscription of at least 5s. for each scholar before he received these extra grants from the Government. Another point was that he was afraid that the proposals of the Bill would create an unnecessary amount of friction among the various local authorities in reference to education. Beyond this, he thought that one of the operations of the Bill would be to prevent any improvement in the present system of Board School education unless the consent of the District Councils was previously obtained. One of the results of the working of the Bill, he was afraid, would be that in villages and in rural towns where there were small religious denominations the children would be handed over to the Church authorities and be taught by them the Church Catechism and the formularies of the Church of England. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce some safeguard into the Bill to prevent that possibility from being realised. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
congratulated his right hon. Friend upon the clear and statesmanlike speech in which he had laid his proposals before the House, because he had not heard a more difficult question more ably handled in that House. ["Hear, hear!"] Instead of criticising the proposals, which were of too wide and intricate a character to enable the House to form a hasty judgment upon them before separating for the holidays, he wished to ask a few questions which would tend to clear up one or two doubtful points in connection with those proposals. In the first place, he should like to allude to the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to the new authority which was to be set up by the Bill. That part of the Bill entirely coincided with the evidence which he had given before the Royal Commission on Secondary Education, in which he 557 had strongly advocated, as a future guide to the Education Department, the creation of a new body such as that now proposed to be set up by this Measure. He, therefore, cordially welcomed that portion of the Bill which embodied that proposal. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had expressed a fear that the creation of such a body would increase the friction between the various local authorities, but he thought that the hon. Gentleman was mistaken in that supposition. As he understood the Bill, there was to he a big local authority set up in each county, which was to be almost supreme in educational matters, and through which the Government grant would filter, the central authority at Whitehall still retaining some governing power as regarded the efficiency of the schools and the payment of the grant. Were they to understand that this was to be partly a secondary education Bill and partly a Measure for further elementary education? He had no objection to a Bill of that character, but the House ought to understand that such was the case. ["Hear, hear!"] It was obvious that for many years the provision for elementary education had overstepped all bounds, and well it was, in his opinion, that they had had for so long a time such splendid higher-grade schools, and that the local authorities of the large towns had taken up the cudgels on behalf of education and had established these schools, of which they were so justly proud. "Hear, hear!"] He wished to know what was to be the position of those schools under this Bill, and whether they were to be cut off from the elementary schools and added to the secondary schools. He thought that it would be most objectionable to cut them off from the parent stock of Board schools and to add them to the secondary schools. He should also like briefly to refer to the vexed topic relating to the Cowper Temple Clause. In his opinion the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late "Vice-President of the Council, was mistaken in his criticism of the proposal embodied in the Bill. They were all aware that under the present system in villages in which there was only a Church school, or, as the Dissenters called it, "a parson's school," although it was true that the children of Dissenters might withdraw from religious instruction, yet the 558 result was that it was only the Church children who received religious instruction, whilst the Dissenting children were left altogether without religious instruction. As he understood the proposal, it would remedy that defect, and if the Bill became law the children of Dissenting parents would no longer labour under that disadvantage. ["Hear, hear!"] One other hostile criticism had been offered upon the Bill with regard to the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit. He, for one, was very glad that that limit had been abolished, because it had operated as a very heavy fine upon the Voluntary Schools. He would conclude by asking the right hon. Gentleman whether, as this Bill proposed to give a considerable sum more out of the taxpayers' pocket on behalf of elementary education, any maximum limit was to be fixed for the grant per child. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said that in common with every other hon. Member, he had listened with much interest to the very able and interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman. ["Hear, hear!"] It appeared to him, however, that the Bill would perpetuate what many hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House regarded as a vicious principle—namely, the endowment of schools with public money without subjecting such schools to public control. ["Hear, hear!"] But he rose to call attention to the very peculiar position which the Principality of Wales and Monmouthshire would occupy under this Bill. He was glad the Vice President of the Council had mentioned the fact that in that country the whole of the grant-in-aid had been devoted to educational purposes, and to hear that in Wales and Monmouthshire the educational authorities would be the Joint Education Committe. The Bill would enormously advance the position of the so-called voluntary schools. There was the 4s. per child grant which did not depend on any condition whatever, there was the abolition of the 17s. 6d. grant and of the rating of voluntary schools, and there was the power given to the managers of voluntary schools to borrow money. These were enormous advantages. He denied the statement of the hon. Member for Cambridge University that there was a demand for Church schools 559 in Wales. There was no demand for such schools there. In Wales they were all in favour of undenominational education, and if Wales were polled the opinion of the people would be overwhelmingly in favour of Board schools, and, but for the expense, there would be more Board schools in Wales. No fewer than 704 Board schools had been established in Wales and Monmouthshire, a larger proportion than was the case in England. The rural districts of Wales were poor, and the poverty and not the will of the people prevented there being more undenominational schools. In 868 parishes there were 627 Church schools, which were the only schools to which Nonconformist children could be sent. The parents had no voice whatever in the education of their children, and he asserted that, in the Church schools, attempts were made to wean Nonconformist children from the religion of their parents. If it could be shown that these schools were supported by voluntary subscriptions, he did not know that he should object to them so much.
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN
replied that he supposed they were built out of the monies by which they were supported. [Ministerial cheers.] But he was speaking of their maintenance, and if it could be shown that these really were voluntary schools supported by the free contributions of members of the Church of England he should not complain. But statistics showed that in 1894, of the total sum expended on voluntary schools in Wales and Monmouthshire the voluntary subscriptions were less than one-fifth of the amount. So the people paid nearly the whole cost of the schools, yet had absolutely no voice in their management State aid to these schools had increased and it dried up the springs of public beneficence. Whereas in 1870 for every £10 subscribed £14 was given in Government grant, the amount in 1894 was £27 17s. 2d., and, if the period from 1869 to 1881 was compared with the period from 1882 to 1894, it would be found that, while subscriptions to voluntary schools declined 12 per cent., State grants increased 32 per cent. No doubt the clergy did the Conservative and Unionist party yeoman's service at 560 the last General Election, but he objected to the Government paying off their debt to them at the expense of other people. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
congratulated the Vice President of the Council on his statesmanlike speech, and the grip he had shown of educational questions since he had been in office. ["Hear, hear!"] Before he alluded further to the Vice President's speech he desired to refer to that of the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down. He had drawn attention to the decline in voluntary subscriptions as compared with the in crease in State aid, forgetful that the people who had contributed to voluntary subscriptions had contributed to the State aid. Surely it was ridiculous to imagine, because a man contributed a guinea to a voluntary school in 1870, and since then had been contributing a couple of guineas per annum in local rates and State aid, and now his yearly voluntary subscription had dropped to 15s., that that man's interest in voluntary schools had fallen off. A man's contribution was all the more considerable, because it was paid out of two pockets instead of one; and, therefore, he hoped they would not hear much more of the falling off in voluntary contributions. He was not clear as to the position a School Board would occupy under the new local authority. Would a School Board have power to send a precept for rates to the new local authority; or would it address its precept, as in the past, to the existing rating authority? Who would be the rating authority, and would the new local Board have-power to contribute from the local rates to the voluntary schools in its area? It appeared to him that 4s. per head would not be sufficient to meet the great difficulties that many voluntary schools and Board schools were at present labouring under. Take the grants at present paid through the Science and Art Department for the supposed encouragement of drawing, would they be paid to the new authority? Might one hope to see a considerable revision of the system under which the inspection was carried on, with some prospect of money reaching students— both elementary and secondary? It was said that nothing was to be given for the increased or special grant; but unless they were to surrender some of their control, and also to submit to a full audit of 561 their accounts, personally, he would be no party to an increase of the grants to those schools. He knew something of the laches which had occurred in the administration of grants, and he could not help feeling that a public body, acting as a State trustee, should have its accounts all square and above board, and should submit to a complete audit of its accounts. He anticipated that under this Bill the accounts of all the schools would be audited by a competent district auditor. That was one guarantee which the State had a right to take and the House a right to demand before it consented to grant further moneys. In addition to the audit of accounts, he anticipated there would be considerable supervision of the local control. He was not quite clear as to the position the managers of voluntary schools would occupy. Would they retain all their present powers? Would the appointment and dismissal of teachers rest entirely with the managers of local voluntary schools? He knew very well that these were points on which supporters and managers would fight strenuously. In the schools to which they were contributing to the extent of £800,000, they desired to have the appointment of teachers in their own hands, in order that they. might select persons of the religious faith to which the schools were supposed to be attached. That was a position with which he had large sympathy indeed; but if the managers had the power of appointment, would they also have unrestricted right of dismissal? or would there be an appeal to the new County Board against capricious dismissals, of which many flagrant cases had been brought before the House during the last few years? In all these cases, the Vice President for the time being had given the stereotyped reply that he had no power to intervene. He could only hope that in this Bill some power of intervention would be given. It was said that inducements would be offered to the local authority to shape itself on the recommendations of the Report of the Secondary Education Commission; and he hoped that that would subsequently find its way into the clauses of the Bill itself. The Bill ought to set forth how the Statutory Committee should be constituted, what proportion should come from the County 562 Council, what proportion should be experts, what proportion should represent the School Board and what should be the proportion of voluntary managers. He hoped that all these things would not be left to haphazard. It was said that a little aid would go to Board schools; he hoped very much would go to them. He heartily endorsed every word the Vice President had used as to the lamentable condition into which education had fallen; nay, in which it had been continuously under the management of a great many School Boards. One had frequently heard the management of voluntary schools denounced; but equally strong denunciations might with justice be used of many School Boards, and it would be an educational gain if their conduct came under complete supervision by the new authority. He would like to know what their position and powers would be, and whether they would be local managers merely, for many of them would receive additional grants. He desired to thank the Vice President for his references to the West Ham district, which was looking forward with keen anxiety to some relief from the pressure of the local rate. The local rate was there 2s. 4d. in the pound, not because there had been any extravagance on the part of the School Board, but because there was a population of a quarter of a million, with a rateable value of £950,000. The quarter of a million were chiefly of the artisan class, and therefore one in five would be in elementary schools. In these conditions there must of necessity be a high School Board rate. He anticipated that under this scheme the School Board would receive a grant of £10,000 a year. Already it drew a certain amount under the Clause of the Act of 1870, to which the Vice President referred. That amount would be deducted from the new grant, and the difference paid over in relief of local rates. He wished to express his great satisfaction at a phrase which fell from the Vice President with reference to the conduct of religious teaching in elementary schools. There could be no doubt that the religious difficulty did not exist in the schools; it was manufactured on the platform for Party purposes. The great agitation which had swept through the country during the last few years had been false in its origin, 563 and it had been fabricated largely by those who had an individual interest in keeping it alive; and, in his opinion, it had done a considerable amount of harm to the progress of real education. There might be in isolated cases difficulties occurring, and they would be met by the operation of such a clause as that in the Bill. At all events, it would relieve us from any recurrence of agitation; it would make it more difficult to fabricate a religious difficulty on the platform in the future with such an addition to the Cowper-Temple Clause. That would be maintained in its full vigour, and it would be administered by the teachers with the same tact and discretion which they had shown for the last quarter of a century, which had preserved religion in our elementary schools and would continue to preserve it. Another matter for inquiry was the way in which the Bill would deal with higher grade schools. Great difficulties had to be contended with in obtaining them. They were regarded with great attachment, not only by those who had laboured assiduously to secure them, but also by a number of people whose children had benefited by the education they had received in them; and a keen regret would be felt if they were severed from the parent authority. The abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit he regarded with grave apprehensions. He was alive to the difficulties which resulted from the application of the limit. Many schools, having done good work, had lost the money they had earned; but as yet we had not tried the effect of abolishing the limit. We had not discovered a way of removing it that would not affect the voluntary subscriptions; and if they died away entirely, what would remain of the local interest justifying the control of voluntary schools? The raison dďêtre of voluntary control was voluntary subscriptions; it was local support in exchange for local management. While he knew that the Church, as in the past, would strenuously strive to secure local support, a stimulus would be removed with the abolition of the limit. It was useless to earmark the new grant for the benefit of educational work. It was useless to state that the new grant must be used for increasing the sufficiency and efficiency of the staff if other sources of support were at the same time to drop off. The 564 subscriptions must be continued, the local rate kept up, and both added to the special teaching grant which was to be given by the Bill. In the supervision of local schools by another authority there would be a fruitful source of friction; he could not see how it was going to be done. What was the restriction on the rate wanted for? If a board were extravagant, the ratepayers could deal with them. If the expenditure was in accordance with the Code, and the ratepayers were satisfied that it was necessary, what need was there for interference? No one could fail to realise from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council that the idea of the Government was to level up education. ["Hear, hear!"] The Unionist Party had often been charged with a design to level down education. Such a charge could never again be made after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The Unionist Party showed by this Bill that while they rightly spent large sums on the Army and Navy, they felt also that a better security would be gained for the country in a well-educated electorate. [Cheers.]
§ *MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said, he desired to congratulate the Vice President of the Council upon the fact that he had obtained a fitting opportunity for the exercise of his great talents and ability in the capacity of Minister of Education. The right hon. Gentleman had laid before the House, in the most lucid fashion, the details of a great Bill—a Bill which he trusted would be regarded in the future, in its purport and effect, as a great educational Measure. There were many details of the Bill as to which it was impossible to come to an adequate conclusion until they had the facts in black and white before them. He, therefore, did not propose either to ban or to bless the Bill as a whole, but simply to deal with a few salient points which stood out prominently in the speech of the Vice President of the Council. The Bill dealt with secondary, technical and primary education—technical being included in the term, secondary. To the proposals dealing with secondary education he gave his heartiest consent. As a Member of the Secondary Education Commission, he wrote a memorandum to the Report of the Commission urging strongly—though 565 the terms of the reference excluded the subject—that one and the same local authority should be constituted for the control of both primary and secondary education. He was, therefore, glad to find that that proposal was embodied in the Bill. He thought it would be well to have the elements of the proposed statutory committee defined in a statutory way. The local authorities had not hitherto, as a rule, included in the committees they appointed for technical education purposes those elements of expert knowledge and enthusiasm for education which the Secondary Education Commission had recommended; and he was afraid that, if the whole matter was in the future left to the free will of the local authorities, these necessary elements would still be found wanting in the bodies they co-opted. He regretted that the Bill did not contain proposals in regard to the establishment of a satisfactory comprehensive central educational authority. He hoped that before long there would be created an Education Department worthy of the name —a Department that would not concern itself with one branch of education alone, but a Department which would deal with all branches of education. But, as they were not to have a comprehensive central authority it was all the more necessary that they should have a proper local authority with local control over primary education under the system. They were going to decentralise primary education, to hand the money over to the local authorities, and to give to those local authorities a large option in deciding the curriculum to be taught in the schools. It was therefore all the more important that there should be in the local administration of the schools a very full element of popular representation and popular control. The local authorities were going to be empowered to give considerable grants to voluntary schools and to certain Board schools as well. In the case of Board schools every penny that was given was accounted for in an actuarial way by the annual visit of the Government Auditor sent by the Local Government Board, and the expenditure of that money by each School Board depended upon the will and the vote of the directly elected representatives of the people. There were, therefore, effective safeguards in the case of School 566 Boards—with the exception, perhaps, of a few small boards—that the money would be properly spent. But what about the voluntary schools which were going to get those additional funds? The Technical Education Act of 1889 provided that a grant should not be made by any Local Authority to any technical school, college or institution, unless such Local Authority was given a proportionate representation on the Committee of Management of such school, college or institution. He did not find that in this Bill the Government proposed to follow that excellent precedent. They did not propose that where a grant was paid by a Local Authority to a voluntary school, an essential condition of that grant should be that the Local Authority should have one or more representatives—according to the amount of the grant—on the management of the school. He regarded such a provision as a most essential point. The whole aim of the Government was, he presumed, to aid the voluntary schools, not because they were voluntary but because they were schools. The object of aiding the schools was to improve the teaching of the schools. But if Parliament thought it necessary in 1889 to make this safeguard of popular representation in regard to technical education in order to secure that the money given to any school, college or institution was spent on the objects for which it was intended, how much more important was it that the safeguard of popular representation should be introduced in the case of Voluntary School Committees, which was in most cases a committee only in name which was in thousands of cases a committee of one man and one man only, or of the vicar and two churchwardens. It was to a body of that kind, a committee merely in name, that the Bill proposed to hand over considerable sums of money for the purposes of education, without taking any satisfactory safeguard that that money would be properly spent. There were two necessary safeguards for the expenditure of the money given to voluntary schools for the purposes for which it was granted. One was due local representation upon the Managing Committee of the schools, and the other was an effective public audit of the school accounts. He 567 gathered that the second safeguard would be provided—that there would be an audit of not only the 4s. grant, but of the whole grant received by voluntary schools. That provision would give in many respects a safeguard in regard to the expenditure of the money; but it would not give a necessary safeguard in the most important matters of the appointment, dismissal and general control of the teachers engaged in those schools. What about the teachers who were to be employed in those schools by the aid of this grant? There were to be more teachers; better teachers and larger salaries for the teachers. All that he welcomed, for it was much required. But how were they going to secure that all that would be done unless they had on the committees of those schools someone representing the public. Jobbery, mismanagement, bigotry, and tyranny over teachers were frequently manifested by the committees of these schools, and the representative of the Local Authority should be in a position to say to these committees:—You must stop your bigotry, your jobbery and your tyranny, or I will tell the Local Authority and you will get your grant no more.The right hon. Gentleman, the Vice President of the Council, had himself told the story of a school teacher who was dismissed because she was anxious to teach geography. Was there anything in the Bill to prevent harsh acts of that kind? Why was there no right of appeal against unjust and arbitrary dismissal given to the teacher? Teachers in Poor Law schools had the right of appeal, and yet those schools were under the control of properly constituted committees. They also gave protection to teachers in secondary schools which were managed by proper bodies. But here, in the voluntary schools, which were receiving so much money already, and which were going to get more money under the Bill, where the committee in thousands of cases consisted of one man, they gave no right of appeal whatever and no protection against dismissal. This was a serious blot on the face of the Bill. [Cheers.] What about public money being expended by clerical managers who demanded that, before a teacher should be allowed to take service in the school or 568 receive from public sources remuneration for his duties, he should consent to play the organ, and dress the altar—["Oh!"] —and clean the school—["No!"]—and make out the church and parish rates, and make himself a general parochial factotum? What safeguard was there against that in the Bill? What did the Government propose to do in this matter of extraneous tasks? On another point, if the plan of the Government was to give the 4s. grant to every school according to the number of scholars in the school, in his opinion, it was a very inadequate plan. The House would recognise at once that the initial and necessary expense was in greater ratio in the case of a small than of a large school. The smaller the school, the greater the ratio of initial expense. He hoped, therefore, care would be taken to secure that the small school should get a bigger share of the 4s. grant than the larger school. But why should this grant be given only to certain board schools? Why not to all board schools? The Education Act of 1870, and subsequent Acts, prohibited the Education Department differentiating in the least between board schools and voluntary schools. This principle of differentiation was a new principle that was going to be introduced. They were going to favour the voluntary school over the board school. About a million of money would have paid the 4s. grant all round. It seemed unwise, for the sake of £400,000 or £500,000, that the Government should run this risk of differentiation between two classes of schools which had hitherto been treated like so far as central organisation was concerned. With regard to the 17s. 6d. limit, he pointed out that at present it bad this effect— that in thousands of schools no attempt was ever made to earn more than 17s. 6d. per head of grant, because managers and teachers knew that if, by taking extra subjects, they earned more, the surplus would not be paid to the school, and so a rough-and-ready piece of machinery was provided whereby the poorer schools were not overpressed. But once they abolished the 17s. 6d. limit, and made it possible for every school to earn the maximum grant of 20s. 6d., pressure would be brought to bear accordingly, and the last state of the teacher would be worse 569 than the first. He warned the Government that the 17s. 6d. limit could not be tampered with. It was the palladium of the voluntary school. The Bill was in some respects an artful Bill —a Bill of high principle and high aim, but a Bill also tinged with a desire to make the voluntary school in a non-voluntary condition a permanent element in the mosaic of education in this country. It proposed to hand over the Exchequer grant in a lump sum to a federation of schools of some given district or denomination. That meant that all the Church schools would federate themselves and have the money handed over to them in a lump sum. This proposal was utterly indefensible and must be opposed. [Cheers.] He regretted very much that there should be any attempt on the part of the Government, even in the smallest degree, to interfere with the autonomy of the properly elected School Board authority in the matter of rating, and that there should be an attempt also, however veiled, to bring in the question of theological teaching. He wanted to take up a friendly attitude to the Government, but he warned them upon those two subjects they were entering on very dangerous ground indeed. The history of the School Board elections throughout the country since October last showed that. About that date there was the deputation to Lord Salisbury of the two Archbishops and many Bishops of the Established Church, and the deputation touched upon those very two points of interference with religious instruction and limitation of School Board authority. For about 12 months before that date the course of the School Board elections had been steadily in favour of the Conservative Party and the Church, with which that Party was in alliance. But directly after that deputation a remarkable change occurred, and the whole course of the School Board elections was turned the other way. Everywhere the ratepayers declared they would have no interference with undenominational teaching and School Board powers? There had grown up in this country a generation that knew the School Board and believed in it, and he did not believe that even this Government, with its immense majority even, would ever carry through 570 this House a Measure restricting the powers of the School Board or making it possible to permit denominational teaching within the schools. The latter proposal was utterly unworkable. There were only two or three alternatives. If the distinct religious teaching was to be done by the teachers they must have a Church of England teacher, a Wesleyan teacher, a Congregational teacher, a Roman Catholic teacher, a Jewish teacher. If they were going to adapt their teaching to every demand for special religious instruction, the position of the teacher and teaching would be relegated to what it was before 1870. Failing the teacher, they must have a clergyman or layman to do it, and that would be to take from the hands of the teacher the most valuable instrument of moral discipline a teacher could possess. The country would rue the day when it deprived the teacher of the right to give the simple Bible lessons in the school. If any of his criticisms appeared to have been dictated by Party or denominational feeling he begged to disown it altogether. He stood there as an educationist with practical experience both in voluntary and in Board Schools and in daily touch and communication with thousands of teachers, and he had said what he had said because he believed the result of the blots, as he regarded them, in the Bill would be to make the Measure miss its aim.
§ *SIRFRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
declared, that nothing was further from the intention of those who desired the modification or abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit than any reduction of voluntary subscriptions. The Report of the Committee appointed by the two Archbishops, on which he served, was emphatic on this point. In his judgment it would be a fatal blow to the voluntary schools if the abolition or modification of the 17s. 6d. limit were to weaken their subscription lists. He felt grateful to the Government for dealing with the rating of schools. It was a most unjust tax as regards voluntary schools, and a foolish tax as regards Board schools, because much money was spent to no good purpose on the necessary administration. He was surprised at the language of the hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the federation of schools. What were the schools of a School Board in a, town 571 but a gigantic federation? ["Hear, hear!"] In the case of a great town the rate of the richer districts went in aid of the poorer, and what the Government did was to give to the voluntary schools exactly the same advantages, as far as could be, as were now enjoyed by School Board schools. The system of federation, too, would quicken the flow of promotion, and be a useful stimulus to activity on the part of the teachers. The power to borrow money would relieve, managers of much difficulty and anxiety, and often prevent what almost appeared a breach of trust, the transfer of schools to the School Board of the district. He looked forward to the time when there would be one Minister for education. The Bill might not accomplish at a moment the whole of what was desired, but it was a step in the right direction. It would do much to advance the progress of education, and would do that justice to voluntary schools which they had long deserved, but which they had not hitherto obtained, even from the most friendly quarters.
§ MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said, the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman laid before the House contained so many details, and the probable operation of the Bill depended so much on the way those details were worked out, that he desired that anything he said should be taken subject to the doubt he felt as to the way the proposals were laid down in the clauses of the Bill. It was anything but a small Bill. It seemed to be one of the largest Measures dealing with elementary and secondary education ever presented to the House. The very account which the right hon. Gentleman gave of the complexity and difficulty of the functions which the Education Department now discharged and the way in which its work had grown during the last 20 years, delicate work which brought the department into contact with every part of the country, together with the statement that nine-tenths of that work was to be taken away from the Central Department and given to the County Councils, alone gave some idea of the far-reaching character of the Measure. As far as the provisions relating to secondary and technical education were concerned, he thought those provisions were not only good, but eminently practical. It was 572 a great advantage that secondary and technical education should be combined, because he gathered from the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman that technical education was to be regarded as a branch of secondary education. [Sir J. GORST assented.] One of the great reasons why there was so much sluggishness in the agricultural districts, and one of the reasons which had produced agricultural depression, arising from the inapt-ness of mind, the want of adaptability and originality in the mind of the agricultural classes, was because their education had been so much neglected. It must, therefore, be improved, not only in the elementary schools, but also in the schools of a higher grade at which the children of the farmers attended. There was another excellent provision in the Bill, that the money coming under the Act of 1890 was to be hereafter permanently allotted to the purposes of secondary technical instruction. That was one of the things which all educational reformers had desired for the last two or three years. It would also be desirable that the Local Authorities should have the power to deal with endowments. The country was hardly aware what an immense financial resource was at its disposal in the education endowments, which were not always made the best use of. A strong opinion existed among educational reformers to allow the Local Authority to prepare schemes for the locality. The right hon. Gentleman did not refer to the grant in money proposed to be made to Scotland and Ireland in respect of the additional grant proposed to be made to English schools, but the additional grant given to English schools would require a compensating sum of money from the Exchequer to Ireland and Scotland. There appeared to be some defects in the Bill, even on the point of technical education. The Central Authority controlling secondary education did not appear to be sufficiently developed in the scheme of the Government; and he hoped that the question of bringing the Charity Commissioners into closer touch with the Education Department would be considered by the Government and dealt with in the Bill. He regretted to hear that the secondary education authority was for the future to be the Borough Council and that no representation upon 573 the secondary education authority was to be given to the School Board.
§ SIR J. GORST
said, it was in the discretion of the authority to give such representation as it chose.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, this concession might mitigate the objection felt, but the School Board would not be content that it should be left to the Borough Council to fix the amount of representation it should receive. School Boards were extremely sensitive as to their functions with regard to secondary education. They had established higher graded schools, giving efficient secondary education, and they would feel it to be a hardship, a slur, and an injustice to be excluded, as they might be, from this plan of having a voice in the secondary education in their boroughs. He looked also with great apprehension on placing the control of secondary and elementary education in the counties and boroughs in the same hands. It might be an end ultimately to be desired, but, looking at the matter as practical men, and at the difficulties which had attended the development and working of elementary education in this country, they would perceive that nothing had been of greater hindrance to the smooth and peaceable working of elementary education than the system he had indicated. Then there was the existence of the so-called religious difficulty and the feelings of religious controversy with which elementary education was surrounded. These were not matters dependent on the parent, but upon the leaders of the ecclesiastical and political parties, and where those controversies had existed they had interfered terribly with the proper working of the elementary education system. They had caused elections to be conducted, not on educational grounds, but on ecclesiastical and political grounds. Nothing had been more satisfactory to those who had lately inquired into the subject than to find that, as far as secondary education went, this difficulty did not exist. No complaints had been received as to the so-called religious difficulty, but if the Government placed secondary education in the hands of the bodies who also controlled elementary education, it was highly probable, nay, almost certain, that the denominational partisanship 574 which had infected and injured elementary education would spread through and injure secondary education also; the peace and harmony which now prevailed in secondary education would disappear, and for these would be substituted quarrels and acrimonious controversies similar to those existing in elementary education. Subject to these criticisms on certain weak points, he thought the Bill as a whole would serve the pruposes of secondary education. He anticipated, however, no small danger to education itself from the immense change which the Bill proposed. To localise secondary education was one thing; to localise the administration of elementary education was another thing. The endowed schools were, after all, the mainstay of secondary education. The local governing bodies were composed of the most influential and the best educated persons in the neighbourhood, and a local authority for secondary education would not have very much to do in which it could do harm. But when they came to elementary education, the difficulties were greater and the work was harder. He could not believe that County Councils were at present fit to take over from the Education Department the extremely difficult and delicate function which the right hon. Gentleman described, and which required a considerable amount of educational knowledge and experience in order to sustain the high standard which ought to be maintained in elementary education, but which they had not at present a right to expect from any Local Authority in the country. They looked, therefore, with considerable uneasiness on the proposal to withdraw the control of the Central Authority. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the money should be handed over to the Local Authorities with comparatively little security, to be applied on the same principle, and to secure the same high standard which the central Education Office had up to now endeavoured to attain. Each county was to make a Code for itself.
§ SIR J. GORST
said, that the money was not to be handed to the Education Authority to do with it what it liked. It was to be distributed according to the existing rules for distribution, and no 575 variation was to be made unless the Education Department were satisfied with the alteration of the rules.
§ MR. BRYCE
hoped that the control of the central office would be maintained in full force, vigour, and stringency. He regretted that so large a step was proposed to be taken in the direction of transferring sums derived from the Treasury and paid in by the taxpayers to local management and administration. If they took that step, the closest vigilance would be required to prevent these funds from being administered improvidently. The provisions of the Bill relating to religious education he regarded with some apprehension. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said it was not intended to disturb the compromise of 1870. He could not but fear, however, that many of the points of that compromise had been abandoned. He did not understand whether the Cowper-Temple clause was to continue in existence or not, but he could hardly see how it could subsist concurrently with the provision that in all schools parents were to be at liberty to obtain what religious instruction they liked for their children, if that instruction was to include formularies or catechisms. That provision opened the door for a recrudescence of strife. The Vice President of the Council said, that the difficulties in regard to religious education did not present themselves to the minds of the parents, who were generally well satisfied, but arose from discussions in that House and on public platforms. All he could say was that if the peace described by the right hon. Gentleman really existed in the minds of parents, it was largely owing in Board schools to the existence of the Cowper-Temple Clause. He hoped that they would see in the Bill that the promise to maintain the Cowper-Temple Clause was kept, and that every means would be taken to prevent questions regarding religious teaching from cropping up and diverting the attention of the local authorities from the broad educational policy which it would be their duty to carry out. He had apprehensions that there was much in the Bill which would require very close scrutiny, and which might give rise to protracted controversy.
§ *MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
, said the proposal raised 576 enormous issues. He could not help congratulating the Vice President on his boldness and originality in seizing on the principle that education depended for its future on thorough organisation, but he had begun in the wrong way, and the Bill would reorganise in the wrong direction. The Bill foreshadowed was virtually a repeal of the Act of 1870. It certainly carried with it potentially the destruction, bit by bit, of the whole machinery of the Act of 1870. The Bill went even farther than the memorial laid by the Archbishops and Bishops before Lord Salisbury, and promised to alter completely the educational system of the country in favour of the sectarian party and their reactionary classes. The real object of the Measure was to get rid of the direct democratic election of bodies to control the elementary education of this country. It was the object which had been pursued all along by the reactionary party at the Education Office and in the country, to replace the popular control of a directly elected body, chosen for educational objects, by a co-optative and indirectly chosen body appointed by those who were indifferent to education. Their aim was the divorce of elementary education from democratic control. This, it was thought, was the easiest way to obtain free subsidies for the assistance of Voluntary schools. The right hon. Gentleman had made a great deal of the inferior education and bad working of some of the small village Board schools in rural districts. The criticisms were true of many of them, but if he wished to deal fairly with this subject, he ought to have gone on to describe the miserable condition of many Voluntary schools as described in repeated reports of the Inspectors of schools, in which even religious education was utterly neglected. The organisation, and want of efficiency of the vast majority of Voluntary rural schools was due to the selfish policy of the Church of England, which kept them isolated and starved, in order to maintain its sectarian domination in the villages. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to hand over almost unconditionally large sums to federations of schools which would be nothing else than Clerical School Boards in our rural districts. It was absurd to say that the people would be content with any indirect control of 577 elementary education. There was no subject in which the artisans of our towns were more deeply interested than in this question of the elementary education of their children. The secret of the success of the Act of 1870 was its acceptance of the principle of democratic election for School Boards; that principle had led to the choice on the great boards of educational experts and enthusiasts who had worked out the splendid development of education in our great towns; he maintained that that principle ought to be adhered to. The Bill contained immense concessions to the managers of Voluntary schools. The schools were to receive the grant assigned to them by the education authority, and there was to be no obligation whatever on the managers to find subscriptions to balance the contribution from the State. There would be no shred of real popular control over the administration of the schools in the choice of teachers, and the arrangement of the curriculum. By handing over the grant in a lump sum to a federation of schools they were creating irresponsible clerical boaods which would spring up like mushrooms all over the country and be left a perfect free hand. This was to organise in the wrong way. The right thing to do would have been to provide for the election of School Boards having supervision over large areas on the model of School Boards in large towns, capable of bringing the benefits of a higher education to the humblest of villages at the minimum of cost. He believed in a real continuity of administration of secondary as well as elementary education. But this Bill was proceeding in a diametrically opposite direction to the natural development. The proper plan would be to start with the great School Boards directly elected for educational purposes at the bottom, and then add at the; top the experts who could help most as regards secondary education. But this Hill proposed to deprive the great School Boards of their higher grade elementary schools which would be strongly resisted. The Cowper-Temple Clause was undoubtedly to be repealed in substance and the unhappy friction of sectarian animosities to be let loose on the schools, He believed that the religious education given in Board Schools was infinitely 578 superior to that to be obtained in a large proportion of Voluntary Schools. Instead of being taught to repeat by rote formulas and phrases which they did not understand, in the Board Schools children listened to the; beautiful words of the Bible, which, simple and direct and intelligible went straight to their minds and hearts, and there was also the inestimable advantage that children thus learned the truths which were common to all, and while sitting side by side, instead of being taught to distrust and despise and hate each other's special doctrines. One Bishop of the Church of England had spoken boldly out on this point, and at least protested against this declaration of war against the School Boards, and the making of little children the centre of bitter sectarian controversy in the Schools. He would only say, in conclusion, that he considered this Bill to be an absolute repeal in effect of the Act of 1870, and he had no doubt that many Members on his side of the House would use every effort, as he should, to defeat the Bill, and to prevent its becoming law.
§ SIR J. GORST
said, he had to thank the House for the kindness with which they had received his statement and the general reception they had given to the Bill, and he should not have troubled them with any further remarks had not one or two hon. Members asked him questions. With regard to the position of the higher grade Board Schools, they would be treated in the most delicate manner possible. There were no provisions in the Bill by which they would be transferred arbitrarily to the education authority, and it was hoped that their case would be a matter for arrangement between the new education authority and the School Boards. The provision in the Bill was that, upon the application of either the education authority or the School Board, the Education Department might make all the necessary orders and arrangements for the higher grade schools. With regard to the Cowper-Temple Clause, that was not referred to or touched upon in any way whatever. He was sorry that when he held out the olive branch to hon. Member's opposite, it should be received by them as a dagger. The clause in the Bill referring to religious instruction only gave parents 579 a right to that which was done now in hundreds of schools. A certain Bishop of the Church of England was in his younger days a parish clergyman in Wiltshire. In his parish there was only a Church School, while the majority of the parishioners were Baptists. Finding it extremely inconvenient to teach the Church Catechism to Baptist children, he arranged that the schoolmistress should give a simple Bible lesson on four days in the week to all the children in the school, and that on the fifth day a similar Bible lesson should be given to the Baptist children, while he himself took the Church children into another room and taught them the Catechism. That was the kind of arrangement contemplated in this Bill. With regard to what was said by his right hon. Friend the Member for Dart-ford, the county education authority was entitled to receive, in respect to the ordinary Parliamentary Grant, a grant for the number of the children in the county at the present rate, provided that, in cases in which the present rate was below the average, the Education Department was to have the power of gradually levelling up the county contribution to the average. In answer to his hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, who had asked what was the position of School Boards with regard to the present conduct of their business, he had to say that School Boards which carried on their work efficiently would not be interfered with at all by this Bill. He would also point out that there was a provision in the Bill to the effect that any persons or body who felt themselves aggrieved by the action of the education authority, might appeal to the Education Department. Then the hon. Member for West Ham asked about the Science and Art Grant. It was intended to hand over to the education authority that part of the Grant devoted to the maintenance of schools to be dispensed by them. A question was also asked as to whether the new authority would have power to 580 submit schemes to the Charity Commissioners. There was a provision in the Bill conferring such a power, and the usual course, which was, perhaps, somewhat clumsy, would be followed. It was true that in the Bill no attempt was made to reform the procedure of the Charity Commission; but if the House should see fit to supply that defect in Committee, he did not think the Government would offer any strong objection. He thought he had now answered all the questions put to him, and he would ask the House to allow him to bring in the Bill.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir John Gorst, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord George Hamilton; presented, and read 1° to be read 2° upon Monday, 13th April.— [Bill 172.]