HC Deb 06 May 1896 vol 40 cc657-716

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th May], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

And which Amendment was, to leave out the word ''now,'' and at the end of the question to add the words, "upon this day six months.''—(Mr. Asquith.)

Question again proposed: "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed by

* MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

who said that when his speech was interrupted at midnight, he was pointing out that this Bill would not assist the Voluntary Schools materially, and that the smaller schools, containing 30, 40, to 60 scholars, which needed help most would receive it least. He had shown that the one thing necessary for the welfare of Voluntary Schools was to put them on an equal footing financially with the Board Schools, but that under this Bill there would remain between the average income of the Board Schools and the average income of the Church of England Schools a difference of about 7s. 3d. per child, and between the average income of the Board Schools and the average income of the Roman Catholic Schools, a difference of some 9s. 3d. per child. The Bill would perpetuate the inequalities between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools, and would therefore perpetuate the inefficiency of the latter. Voluntary Schools for many years had been leading an indigent existence; they had been living from hand to mouth, in a practically insolvent condition from year to year, and the most undignified expedients had been resorted to to keep them alive. The difficulties some country Voluntary Schools had in raising funds were illustrated not long ago at Caistor in Lincolnshire. The proprietor of a steam roundabout visited Caistor, and, probably to increase his business, he offered to give the whole of his receipts on a Tuesday for the benefit of some deserving object in the town. The Rural District Committee, to whom the offer was made, formed a small sub-committee to select the object, and it was decided the proceeds should go to the two Voluntary Day Schools—the National and the Wesleyan. According to the Grimsby News:— The people thronged the market place, and a brisk trade was done from 6.30 to 11 p.m. The clergy and the professions were well represented on the horses, and all the many gradations of ages between infants and grandparents might be seen enjoying the pastime. The sum of £3 12s. 7½d. has been handed to each of the schools. It was discreditable to our civilisation that at this time of day in the wealthiest country of the world, a country professing to be the most Christian in the world, our public elementary schools should have to depend on the earnings of merry-go-rounds, amateur nigger-minstrels, children's concerts and ragbag and rummage sales. The Voluntary Schools were suffering from anæmia, and their precarious condition resulted in mental penury for the children and financial penury for the teachers. The precious irrecoverable days of children, days when their minds were plastic, and their intellects receptive, were largely wasted because of the financial poverty of the Voluntary Schools. For years he had advocated the grant of more money to Voluntary Schools on fit conditions. The Government now professed to give them more money, but they were doing the thing by halves, by even less than half. Instead of giving 10s. or 11s. per child, they were giving only 4s. If they really wished to help these schools they ought to give half a guinea per child on suitable conditions, and the conditions essential to the proper and efficient settlement of the matter were two—namely, a public audit and a system of representative management. The Government were tantalising these schools with an offer of less than 1d. per child per week. That was not finance, but make-shift; not business, but bankruptcy; not statesmanship, but peddling. Hon. Members, who thought that this Bill would revive and invigorate Voluntary Schools were mistaken. It might maintain the spark of life in them, much as the life of a man in a trance was maintained at a neighbouring institution. It would merely prolong the agony of these schools, and would strengthen the temptation of the next Government to step in and mercifully give the system its coup-de-grâce. He might be told that, in addition to the special grant of 4s., schools would get more money under the Parliamentary grant when the 17s. 6d. limit was abolished. That was a delusion, and rather a cruel one. At present Board Schools and Voluntary Schools for boys could earn a maximum grant of 26s. 6d., and girls' schools could earn a maximum of 27s. 6d. This Bill reduced the maximum for the future to 20s. The average grant now in Voluntary Schools was 18s. 3d. Therefore, a school could apparently only get 1s. 9d. more under this Bill; but allowance being made for freedom from rates on the buildings, they might actually get 2s. 6d. more per child. That being added to the grant of 4s. the possible gain became 6s. 6d., and that was the utmost that could be obtained on the average under the Bill. To obtain it, extraordinary exertions would be necessary. But the income of the Church Schools would still be about 5s. short per child of the income of the Board Schools, and the Roman Catholic Schools would still be about 7s. short. That would be the case even if the present subscriptions to these schools were maintained; but he felt sure they would not be maintained when the 17s. 6d. limit should have been abolished. In 1876, before that limit was agreed upon, the schools were receiving in voluntary subscriptions 8s. 8¾d. When the 17s. 6d. limit was established, the subscriptions dropped to 8s. 1¾d.; in 1892 they dropped to 6s. 10¾d.; and after the legislation respecting the fee grant, they dropped still further to 6s. 6¼d. Under the Assisted Education Act certain schools gained 1s., 2s., and 3s. in fee grants, but were they better off for it? No; but the churches and chapels were. The rent charges upon the schools grew, and much of the money went to fill up the gaps caused by the withdrawal of voluntary contributions. The London Diocesan Report said in 1892:— While referring to matters of school finance the Committee wish to call attention to what appears to be too often the cause of financial embarrassment—namely, the burdening of the school income with charges in connection with the use of the school buildings, which ought properly, and in accordance with the Education Acts, to be borne by other parochial organisations.'' That was the statement of officers of the Diocesan Board. This would now happen again, and he believed the Government expected it to happen. He came across a case the other day in which the day school and the evening school, which met about three hours a week, had to bear the charges for the Sunday school, which met twice every Sunday all the year round. In that case the evening school had to pay £20 towards the charges for fuel and lighting, and the Sunday school only £4, although, being a crowded school, it required a great deal of cleaning and warming. Was it to be wondered at that public elementary schools became embarrassed when charges of that kind were laid upon them? It might be only a coincidence, but it was a remarkable coincidence, that the maximum sum the Voluntary Schools would gain under this Bill was practically the precise sum they would lose in voluntary subscriptions. By abolishing the 17s. 6d. limit, the schools would not gain. What, then, could be the object of this Bill? Its object was to relieve the subscribers, and he warned the House that by indemnifying the subscribers they would damnify the schools. Speaking on November 21st, 1895, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: ''We are willing to have a certain proportion of subscriptions insisted on as a condition of grants." That was a fair offer. Why was it not insisted on in the Bill? More episcopal than the Bishops themselves, the Government had not even put that safeguard in the Bill. The one hope for the Voluntary Schools was a large additional grant earnable, by efficiency, and payable on the guarantees of public audit and representative management, and that hope was gone under this Bill. Cardinal Vaughan, on behalf of the Roman Catholics, was prepared to admit representative management, and under this Bill there was all the necessary machinery for the appointment of representative managers by the county authority. Why was there not such a clause in the Bill? The principle was admitted by the Roman Catholics. Why did not the Anglican Church show as much willingness to submit their management to public control? Unless it was insisted on in Anglican Schools, Clause 27 of the Bill would be an absolute mockery. To sum up, instead of giving a 10s. grant, the Bill only gave 4s. It abolished the 17s. 6d. limit, and while holding out a prospect to the Voluntary Schools of getting the grants they earned, prevented them from earning more than 1s. 9d. additional. The Government gave less than 1d. per child per week, and enabled the subscribers to withdraw 1½d. per child per week. He was not only putting forward his own opinion. The National Society had declared that the aid under this Bill was totally inadequate. The Diocesan Conferences had declared that it was not enough. Mr. Spottiswoode, who was a great authority, held the same opinion. The Canterbury House of Laymen declared that the 4s. grant under the conditions of the Bill was not likely to remedy the existing inequality between Board and Voluntary Schools, and the teachers' organisations said that it was not enough. Archdeacon Wilson, too, had declared that the Bill was fatal to voluntary schools, and that he could only hope that it would be withdrawn or entirely recast; while Canon Nunn said:— Should such a calamity as the passing of this Bill happen, the Government that framed it will be remembered as that which promised to save the Church schools, and then gave them up to destruction. Turning to the proposals with regard to Board schools, what did they find? This Government with a great surplus, which was giving money in relief of the owners and occupiers of land, though they might have given that money for the relief of voluntary schools, preferred not to do so, and having failed to level up the voluntary schools, proposed to obtain something like the same end by levelling the Board Schools down. That was the unmistakable purport of the Bill. If it was not, why were clauses put in the Bill which permitted that reduction? Let them travel on the viaducts that intersected South London—let them contemplate the Board schools towering up among squalid houses and mean streets, like beacons of hope, guides and pioneers, sappers and miners in the army of the children of light. The Board School was a humanising, civilising, Christianising instrument. Co-acting with the Voluntary School it had closed prisons, checked crime, reduced pauperism, lessened drunkenness, increased trade, brightened the national stock of intelligence, and kept England in ''the foremost files of time.'' The Government came forward, not to foster all this, but to hinder it; not to urge on the wheel, but to clog it; not to widen the conduits of the water of knowledge, but to choke them; and that was supposed to be the proper and fit function of the Government of the wealthiest and most Christian nation in the world! In the case of the Board Schools this Bill lowered the maximum grant for all time to come, restricted the local income of the Board school, clenched the hand of the Philistine ratepayer on the throat of the School Board, made a non-elective body suzerain over the elected School Board, invited and empowered petty borough and district councils to repress education, and confounded, confused, and practically destroyed the tolerant Christian teaching of the Bible which was given in the Board Schools. It was impossible to bring a stronger indictment against any Bill than that. No one could say there was a single count in that indictment that was not true. What was its effect on both kinds of schools taken together? It lowered and fixed the maximum grants. Schools struggling towards efficiency were to have no further incentive. Schools that were poor in grant were to remain poor. He saw opposite to him the hon. Member for Islington (Sir A. Rollit), who was interested in commercial education, and did not think it was yet what it ought to be. There were very many schools that did not teach French, German, book-keeping, or shorthand. Under this Bill they would never teach them. Schools in rural districts that did not teach mensuration, agriculture, cottage gardening, would never be able to teach them. Nor would they be able to teach hygiene, domestic economy, laundry work, or dairy work. [''Why?"] Because the maximum grant was lowered, and the incentive was taken away. The teaching of "specific" subjects would raise the grant to 26s. 6d. or 27s. 6d., but the maximum grant was lowered to 20s. Therefore, important and valuable subjects, educationally and commercially, would be dropped out of the curriculum of the schools. For both Board and Voluntary Schools there would be a reduction not only of State grants, but also of local income. Voluntary Schools would get much less from voluntary contributions; Board Schools would get less from rates. The Bill clouded over the dawn of education. It parodied the command of Joshua that the sun should stand still, while we squabble and fight over party and creed until the going down of the national day. Merchants and manufacturers complained of German competition. In 1839 this country gave £20,000 in aid of national education; in that year Prussia alone gave £800,000. Was it to be wondered at that German competition was leaving us behind? And now, when the whole country was demanding that we must keep abreast of the Germans and other nations, this Government of this wealthy nation fixed education grants low, and encouraged Germans to cut the throat of English business. The Bill did not help rural schools which were the chief hope for agriculture; and it would afford no help to preparations for business, trade, or commerce. The Bill interfered with religious teaching. It interfered with Denominational Schools in which there was dogmatic teaching, and it interfered with Board Schools giving instruction with which managers and parents were perfectly satisfied. It would set villagers by the ears, it would set townsfolk at variance in respect of Board Schools, it would make the child the shuttlecock of sects; and to this, in the name of the children, he objected. The effect of the Bill would be to weaken and stereotype temporal instruction, and to contradict and stultify religious instruction. What permanent benefit could accrue to elementary schools from this Bill? It did not, in all respects, correspond with the introductory statement of the Vice President; no doubt it was impossible for him at the time to explain the whole Bill. But the more he had studied the Bill the less he liked it, and the more he thought it should be opposed unless it could be seriously amended in Committee. He came to it in no unfriendly spirit, and he had looked for good in it, but almost in vain. Divesting himself of Party and denominational feeling on the question now, as he did before and during the election, speaking as one who favoured further grants to Voluntary Schools under proper conditions, as one who had taught in a Voluntary School and was now a manager of a Voluntary School, he assured the House, with a deep sense of responsibility for the judgment, that in the long run this Bill would hamper and damage all Voluntary Schools, helping few for the moment, and permanently benefiting none. It was supposed to be a decentralising Bill. It took power from the centre, but did not give it to the municipality. It deprived a Department which for years, under enlightened Vice Presidents and a sympathetic and reforming Secretary, had been doing most admirable work, which from 1889 to 1896 had expiated most of the faults of from 1862 to 1889 and remedied most of the blunders which occurred during that period. The Bill took power away from that enlightened and continually improving body, and gave it to what? It did not give the power to the County Councils. It gave it to a nondescript, indefinite, irresponsible, and inexperienced body. The Isle of Man managed the finance of its own education affairs irrespective of the Education Department. It received no Imperial grant and was under no obligation to submit its schools to the terms of our Code; but the local government adopted it, and submitted to Departmental inspection, because the public demanded as a safeguard that the local standard should coincide with that of England. We were going to create more than a hundred autonomous education authorities, who would act as they thought fit, and would make grants upon the verdicts of their own inspectors, who would not be expected to be too severe. The whole thing ran within a vicious circle. We were going to establish what the Isle of Man refused to have lest it should lower the standard of education. The Bill did not abolish small School Boards. He joined in the attack upon them; they had never been efficient bodies. Why did not the Bill propose to deal with them? Or why was it not proposed to set up County School Boards? The Bill did not amend Voluntary School Committees, which were a standing scandal and a source of the most abominable mismanagement—["Oh, oh!"]—of the most shameful misappropriation of money—["oh, oh!"]—by men who would not misappropriate a penny to their own use, but who felt themselves justified in making an appropriation of money for the benefit of the Church. ["Oh, oh!"] The Bill did not touch these abuses, but perpetuated them. Voluntary Schools were to be amalgamated and federated, to take over money and powers from the Education Authority. To an association of irresponsible managers money was to be handed over in lump sums for the promotion of public education. The Bill abandoned modern methods of testing the schools, and enabled the education authority to adopt antiquated and Procrustean methods of testing schools. It weakened the Education Department, and left untouched the Department of Science and Art—the one department which most needed consideration and improvement. The Municipal Corporations Association had asked for one and the same local authority for all branches of public education, the powers of the School Board to be merged therein. They did not get it in this Bill. The School Boards Association asked that School Boards in towns should cease to be, being reconstituted as Boards of Education, having control over all forms of public education, and that similar bodies should be created for the counties. They did not get it in this Bill. He submitted that they might very well supersede School Boards, and elect, by the county voters, education authorities in their place. The Government did not trust School Boards, neither did they trust County Councils—they were to have Statutory Committees. The Bill complicated, and did not simplify Local Government, and threw down into the midst of municipal life the apple of discord. There were good points in the Bill, but he could count them on the fingers of one hand, and they were addenda, and not constituent and essential parts of the Bill. It was a good thing (1), to commence the organisation of secondary education; it was good (2), to prevent children being wage-slaves before the age of 12; it was good (3), to provide better schooling for workhouse children; it was good (4), to amend the machinery for securing school attendance; and it was good (5) to give public audit to Voluntary Schools; these were traces of the efforts of the good genius which had striven with an evil genius in the concoction of this Bill; but the evil genius had prevailed. He could not think that all the Members of the Government realised the full purport of their proposals; he could not think the House had seen the full meaning of this Bill. The Bill was a palimpsest, in which the skilled eye could discern outlines of a statesmanlike plan. According to the original plan, the School Boards and Voluntary Schools as such would cease to exist, being transferred to the county authority, and becoming county schools, or, in the proper sense of the word, National schools. That was the original plan, but first in the Committee of the Cabinet, and then in the Cabinet, its outlines were blurred and erased by additions, alterations and reversals. Here the hand of the bigot had struck out a portion of the original; there the tight fist of parsimony had intervened; here was the scrawl of Mr. Hate-Light; and all over the Bill was the sign manual of Mr. Facing-both-ways. Here the lawn sleeve had brushed the still wet writing and blotted the Bill. Was it useless to appeal to the Ministers who adorned the Government Bench? They had fed upon the fat things of mental life; at Eton, and Harrow, and Winchester, they had reaped the harvest that pious founders had sown. At Oxford and Cambridge again they had profited by provision originally made for poor scholars. In the name of poor scholars to-day, he appealed to them. As the ambassador of millions upon millions of children—not only the 5,000,000 of to-day, but of school generations year after year to come—he pleaded with the House for mercy upon the child. [Laughter.] The child ought to be the one central figure in these discussions, and the mention of the child should not be received with laughter. ["Hear, hear!"] The children were the heirs of the nation, the future upholders of the flag, the makers of the Greater England that ought to be, might be, but would not be if this arresting, limiting, distracting, and paralysing Bill became law. To those who mistakenly supported the Bill in the name of the Churches, he would quote the words: '' Inasmuch as ye did it not unto the least of these, ye did it not to Me." The kindergarten was green with shoot and blade and bright with blossom; it would bud to abundant harvest and fruition if they willed. But if they let loose upon it this blight, this '' nipping frost," then (in other words of that passage), "Farewell, along farewell to all your greatness." Financially, commercially, economically, this Bill was a blunder; morally, intellectually, nationally, it was a crime. In the name of the schools, and not of any sect, on behalf of the children, and not of any Party, he adjured them not to commit ''this sin against the light."

* MR. EVELYN HUBBARD (Lambeth, Brixton)

said, that in this matter he felt he had a duty to perform. As lately as last January, in the contest that then took place in his constituency, the education question was brought to the front, and by a majority of more than two to one, the constituency expressed their opinion that the time had come for a Measure of relief to Voluntary Schools. He referred to that, not as a personal matter, but as evidence that where Board Schools were most efficient, there existed the least jealousy of the voluntary system. All those in his district who had communicated with him had expressed their readiness to accept this Measure, which was one of real value to National education. As an independent follower of the Government he repudiated, in the most emphatic terms, any hostility towards the Board Schools. All that they asked was that the Voluntary Schools should in their turn receive that measure of support to which they were entitled. He desired to traverse in the most direct manner the statement that this Bill was a Measure for the absorption of Board Schools by Voluntary Schools, while Mr. Forster's Bill was one for the absorption of Voluntary Schools by Board Schools. If hon. Members opposite would read this Bill through fairly and impartially, they would find it very difficult to discover any revolutionary or dangerous tendency in it. This Bill was practically a continuation and logical amplification of the Measure that Mr. Forster brought in in 1870. He was astonished at the opposition to the proposition of decentralisation. He should have thought that those who were in favour of popular control would have been satisfied that this Bill gave them all that they wanted. It appeared to him that if they trusted the County Councils at all they ought equally trust those whom the County Councils selected, and he did not think it could be fairly contended that the devolution suggested in any way impaired the principle of the popular control. He thought that the case for a change had been fairly made out by the Vice President of the Council. The great education fabric had become too vast to be controlled entirely from one centre. The inevitable rigidity might be advantageously exchanged for some more elastic method introduced by local management, under which the various local authorities might suggest such modifications as would make the system suitable to the locality. He knew that several Members did not attach so much importance to this elasticity. They said, ''You must work according to the Code.'' In practice it would be found that the local authority would make suggestions by degrees which would tend to relaxation, if the Code was found to be unworkable. When he heard the principle of decentralisation attacked so much, he turned to Mr. Forster' s speech, and he found there was nothing inconsistent. Mr. Forster said, as to decentralisation, in his speech in 1870:— How are we to elect our School Boards in the provinces, and whom are they to elect? Now, first, who is to elect? Well, the electoral body we have chosen in the towns is the Town Council. I do not think there can be much dispute on that point. In the country we have taken the best body we could find—the Select Vestry where there is one, and the Vestry where there is no Select Vestry. Whom are they to elect? Here we have thought the most simple provision the best—they are to elect whom they think fit. That was, in essence, the principle of the Bill. Coming to Clause 2, he was delighted to see that it explicitly stated the principle on which this Measure was to proceed. It repeated almost the words of Mr. Forster, that it was the duty of the educational authority to supplement not to supplant. Mr. Forster said:— How can we cover the country with good schools? In trying to solve that problem, there are certain conditions which I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will acknowledge we must abide by. First of all, we must not forget the duty of the parents. Then we must not forget our duty to our constituencies, our duty to the taxpayer. Thirdly, we must take care not to destroy, in building up—not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one. In solving this problem, there must be, consistently with the attainment of our object, the least possible expenditure of public money, the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools, and the most careful absence of all encouragements to parents to neglect their children. Our object is to complete the present voluntary system, to fill up gaps, sparing public money where it can be done, without procuring, as much as we can, the assistance of the parents, and welcoming as much as we rightly can the co-operation and aid of those benevolent men who desire to assist their neighbours. One more passage from Mr. Forster. He regretted to hear the attacks on what were called the Clerical Schools. He deprecated himself the introduction of any religious animosity. [''Hear, hear!"] When they heard these attacks on the devoted men who in many country districts had borne almost single-handed the burden of education, it was well to remember Mr. Forster's words, which were, speaking of Voluntary zeal, as follows:— Both before and after my tenure of office I have had many opportunities of seeing those gentlemen at work, particularly ministers of religion of all denominations; though, perhaps, it has been my lot to see more of the clergy of the Church of England than of others. I have seen them at their work, and tried to help them occasionally. I know the sacrifices they have made, and not for a moment do I believe it possible that anyone who considers this question will disregard what they have already done, or will wish to do without their aid in the future. I sometimes hear it objected that they gain great influence by their efforts in promoting education. I believe they have not worked in order to attain that object; though far distant be the time when in England self-denying exertions, such as many of these gentlemen have made, will not give them influence! [Cheers.] He thought that these were words which they would do well to remember. ["Hear, hear!"] Since 1870 the attendance in the Voluntary Schools, in the face of great difficulties, had doubled. One other point, the limit of age; 12 years was the exact age proposed by Mr. Forster himself. As to the financial state of the question, the proposals seemed to him fair, but he noticed with pleasure the hon. Member who had just spoken held that the 4s. grant was not adequate. He also rejoiced to notice that the Vice President held out the hope that they might look for additional assistance. He believed that there would be a great saving to the ratepayers by the maintenance of the Voluntary Schools. He knew that two main objections were usually raised—one, that the increased grant had a tendency to diminish voluntary subscriptions, and the other was that in giving the grant they were encouraging denominational and sectarian teaching. As to the first, he met it with a negative. The figures all went the other way. In the country the other day the late Home Secretary elicited loud cheers by a speech in which he made light of what he said was called the intolerable strain upon the supporters of Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Gentleman said that in 1870 the subscriptions to Voluntary Schools amounted to 7s. per head, but now they amounted to only 6s. 6d. per head. ''Where,'' he said, ''is the intolerable strain?" That was a shallow and imperfect way of treating the question. It was not a question of how much was subscribed per head. The right hon. Gentleman must surely have been quite aware that between the dates he was comparing the attendance at Voluntary Schools had increased by over a million, and that whereas 7s. per head in 1870 represented a total of £295,000, the 6s. 6d. per head now represented something over £600,000. But the 6s. 6d. did not represent the whole of the question, as the method under which the calculation was made left entirely out of view the value of the school buildings. Since 1870 voluntary effort had provided accommodation for 1,755,000 children, and the cost of that had all been paid for; the schools were practically free from debt. During the same period the School Boards had provided accommodation for 2,199,000 children, but if there were deducted the children in 800 or 900 Voluntary Schools which had been handed over to the School Boards, they arrived at very much the same figure as the result of the accommodation provided. The School Boards had borrowed £26,536,400, of which on the 29th September, 1894, there was still owing £22,507,000. The Voluntary Schools had spent in the same time about £8,000,000, of which the Church of England alone contributed £7,375,000; but if the Voluntary Schools had been able to borrow money on the one hand and had invested their subscriptions on the other hand, the interest which would be shown as a result of the investment would rightly come as an addition to the local effort. If they had paid off the capital at the same rate as the Board Schools they would still be owing about £7,000,000, and they would be annually paying off the interest and sinking fund upon that sum. Interest at 3 per cent. on £7,000,000 would represent £210,000, which would appear to the credit of voluntary effort, and the repayments of the capital, assuming it was paid off in 30 years, would amount to about £230,000. The two sum would amount to £440,000 a year, or 3s. 8d. per head, which, added to the 6s. 6¾d., would give a total of 10s. 3d. per child. The late Home Secretary stated that since 1839 the Voluntary schools had received £58,000,000. After all, what was that? It was about £1,000,000 a year, and at this moment the State was paying for the support of Board Schools about £5,000,000 a year. It was the fact that all Voluntary Schools did need help. Before the passing of the Education Act they could, of course, have met their additional requirements by raising their fees as the School Boards do by raising the rates, but now the law said they should provide additional accommodation, additional staff, additional apparatus, and they should receive in the place of fees payment calculated at the rate fixed before any additional things were required. The injustice of that was too manifest to need further demonstration. He traversed entirely the statement that in giving grants they were endowing sectarian and denominational education. The grants were in no way an endowment of religion, but were given solely and exclusively on account of the secular teaching given in the schools. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite might say ''Oh!'' but such was the fact. ["Hear, hear!" from Sir JOHN GORST.] Again, when they were arguing with each other it was always well they should understand the meaning of the words used. He had no objection to the word sectarian in itself, but when used in regard to those who represented the national Church of England it was misapplied. ["Oh, oh!"] He had consulted Webster—["He was an American."] Yes, but he understood very well the meaning of words. Webster defined a sectarian as— One of a sect; a member or adherent of a special school, denomination, or religious or philosophical party. [Laughter.] Yes, but he was only working up to it— One of a party in religion which has separated itself from the Established Church, or who holds tenets different from those of the prevailing denomination in a Kingdom or State. ["Hear, hear!"] And then Webster gave as synonyms, ''heretic; partisan; schismatic;'' and he wound up with the recommendation, ''See heretic.'' He did not go as far as Webster. He did not think they need fling phrases across the Floor of the House, but he thought when hon. Members opposite used the word sectarian they used it in an improper sense, for it could not be applied to the Church of England, which was a national Church, and representative of the great majority of the nation. ["Oh, oh!"] All the figures at their disposal tended to prove that that contention was correct, but in any case hon. Members opposite had only to have recourse to a religious census. If the Nonconformists had a grievance because they had to contribute to Voluntary Schools, had not Churchmen a grievance in being called upon to contribute to Board Schools, schools which they did not think were arranged on the best pattern as regarded religious teaching? It would be far more true to say that the present system established Nonconformity, than that it in any way contributed to the endowment of the Church of England. ["Oh, oh!"] Surely the religious instruction which was given in Board Schools satisfied the great body of Nonconformists. There was only one other point to which he wished to refer. By Clause 27 the Vice President of the Council was accused of rekindling the flames of religious controversy. Was it possible to raise the question of education without raising the question of religious education? Religion and education were inseparable. Education to be of any use must have religion as its basis; certainly it was religious impulse which started the question of education in the country. He did not underrate the value of the religious instruction given in Board Schools, and once more he disclaimed any hostility to the Board Schools. He believed that for the most part the religious teaching given in Board Schools was good, but under the existing condition of things there was no guarantee whatever as to the nature of that teaching or as to the religious qualification of the teacher. He held that religious teaching was valuable and lasting in exact proportion as the religious teaching which was given was distinct and clear in tone, and according to the belief of the teacher. The religious education given in Board Schools, under the present system, could not be otherwise than of a vague and colourless character, and he had been forced to the same conclusion that Mr. Gladstone came to on this point—that an undenominational form of teaching, framed by and under the hand of the State, was a moral monster. [''Hear, hear!"] The absurdity of allowing Christianity to be taught in the Board Schools by a man who might himself be an Atheist was so apparent that many earnest and farseeing Nonconformists had, in preference, frankly adopted a system of pure secularism in public teaching. In confirmation of this he might quote two remarks, one from Dr. Parker and the other from the late Principal Cairns. Dr. Parker said:— The consistent attitude for Nonconformists to take is the adoption of secular teaching in rate-supported schools. And Principal Cairns remarked:— They" (that was the Dissenters) "reverenced the principles of Christianity, and wanted them taught at the cost of the State; but if they had to choose between religious instruction being given by State-paid officials and excluding the Bible, they would not hesitate for long. That bore out the statement he had made. [''Hear, hear!"] He personally welcomed Clause 27, though he did not believe it would be widely adopted. [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"] It seemed to him that there would be some practical objections to the working of the clause, and it was very possible that in some districts it would be a dead letter; but he welcomed the clause because it was a distinct intimation that the people of this country recognised the value of distinct religious teaching. He would point out also, in connection with what several hon. Members opposite had said, that this clause was by no means in contravention of the Cowper-Temple Clause. It was a supplement to that clause, which could be worked in addition to it, and it was a distinct gain that they should have superadded to the colourless and neutral attitude of the Cowper-Temple Clause one which recognised openly the great value of religious teaching. ["Hear, hear!"] He heartily supported the Bill, without pledging himself to every point of detail, because he believed that in the existence of the Voluntary Schools they had the only guarantee for the continuation of religious instruction. The logical drift of the present system of religious instruction in the Board Schools was towards secularism pure and simple, and he could imagine no greater calamity happening to the country than that such a result should be achieved. The results of purely secular teaching on the Continent were very far from encouraging. The head of the police in Paris had borne strong testimony to the evils which had followed in France from the entire secularisation of education in that country, showing that, among other bad results, juvenile crime had greatly increased since the change, and that it had increased most in those departments where there were most schools. They had been told by a great historian that, in his opinion, the future of the world lay to a large extent with England and the English race, and looking at the great and irresistible expansion of this Empire, he believed the statement to be true. At any rate they could make it true if they chose, it was a prophecy which might contain its own fulfilment, and if that were so, a double duty rested upon them—the duty of seeing that the vast influence of the country was exercised for good and not for evil, and that in our intercourse with other nations we brought with us a blessing and not a curse. He supported the Bill, not only as a Measure of justice, too long deferred, to the Voluntary Schools, but as one which he believed would make for the best interests of the education of this country. [Cheers.]

MR. ALFRED HUTTON (York, W. R., Morley)

said that, after careful consideration of the Bill, he had been unable to perceive that it contained any one distinctive principle. It seemed to him to be simply a collection of a large number of details, and did not in any way relieve the confused and complicated character of the existing system of education. That system was a compromise, built up upon compromise, and the effect of the Bill would not be to make it work any simpler. The Bill would, on the contrary, make confusion worse confounded. No definite plan whatever ran through the Bill, and its proposals were altogether reactionary—in fact, it was a collection of every malignant and reactionary proposal and demand made by the supporters of Denominational Schools, and the fanatical opponents of Board Schools. The Vice President professed amiably enough to desire the improved status of education, but they had since found that the right hon. Gentleman referred merely to one section of the schools of the country, and that not the national section, and the Bill had been found to be teeming with proposals which, if they became law, would certainly establish a halt, if not a reaction, in the educational facilities now provided. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had rather jeered at them because they did not support the supposed plan of decentralisation in the Bill, but the proposed scheme of decentralisation was a delusion and a snare—a mere pretence to catch the unwary. The scheme gave no assurance of representative control. The number and complication of authorities under the Bill would be so great that it would be impossible for any representation of public opinion to filter through all the various machinery; and that complication would be still further increased in cases where two or more counties united to carry out the Bill. The scheme of the Bill was altogether bad and unfair, and in its working the public would be prevented from having any control over the Voluntary Schools. Nor was there any assurance given by the Bill that the local authorities would be prevented from ignoring the standard of education. He maintained that in every way the scheme proposed would facilitate the transfer of Board Schools to the county authorities, and would thus place their control and management outside the direct influence of popular opinion, whilst it would permanently secure the independence of every Voluntary School in the kingdom. The scheme which the Government had put forward in regard to the transfer of School Boards to county authorities, would create a very large amount of dissatisfaction, ill-will and jealousy between the different bodies. Efforts would be made to hamper the School Board in order that its schools might be transferred to the education authority. Referring to the financial proposals he said Clause 12 empowered the education authority to aid secondary schools in their county without any conditions as to the Conscience Clause. He did not know whether that had been done unintentionally or not. Then, the building grants which died a natural death in 1882 reappeared in the Bill. Power was given to boards of guardians to assist the building of schools under certain conditions, and power was also given to the education authorities to make loans upon school buildings whether Voluntary or Board Schools, without any security that the money would be returned, and with the condition attached that the school could only be sold to men or bodies of men who would undertake to maintain the school as a day school. That at once limited the market for the sale of the school, and it was obvious that the County Council in making these loans would be making a present to the subscribers and ratepayers of the district. The power to be given to local authorities to limit the School Board rate for maintenance was, in his opinion, a most injurious provision. It would produce a very considerable inequality between two neighbouring villages—one enlightened and the other benighted. They might have this condition of affairs, that the Government or County Council inspector might condemn a school, and yet the local authority would refuse to allow the School Board to put it in a state of efficiency. That would, of course, simply compel the School Boards against their will to transfer their schools to the education authority. It was a remarkable thing that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Colonies, in referring to this matter, should have said that the question of economy was never heard at School Board elections. If the right hon. Gentleman had watched the progress of education more closely, he would have known that the question was constantly raised by the supporters of denominational schools. With regard to the special-aid grant, there was one provision that had not yet been noticed. That was the provision which enabled the surplus of the 4s. grant, after it had been distributed according to the provisions of the Bill, to be applied according to the will of the education authority. That would enable any surplus which would arise from the money put aside for Board Schools to be used for the benefit of Voluntary Schools. The proportion of the 4s. grant which would go to necessitous Board Schools was £73,000. But these schools were already receiving £21,000, and that sum would be left in the hands of the education authority to devote as they desired. It seemed to him to be a distinct violation of the conditions which should be laid down as to the distribution of the 4s. grant, that even a greater proportion should be handed over to Voluntary Schools than they already understood was to be given. The right hon. Gentleman said, one of the conditions of the grant was that it should only go to necessitous schools. But it went to all Voluntary Schools, and all Voluntary Schools were by no means necessitous. The result was that the School Board would be limited to 29s. per scholar, although it might make great sacrifices in the way of rates, while the Voluntary Schools would be able to receive 33s. per scholar, without making any corresponding sacrifice whatever. In his speech introducing this Bill, the Vice President referred to places which had made great sacrifices to keep out School Boards in order to maintain Voluntary Schools, and the language of the right hon. Gentleman led him to suppose that he was referring to a town which was rather notorious in the West Biding in this respect—he referred to Cleckheaton. He would compare that town with the neighbouring town of Heckmondwike. Cleckheaton had nothing but Voluntary Schools within its borders, and they had an average attendance of 1,962. They would get, therefore, about £400 under the 4s. grant; and yet they only raised £93 in the way of voluntary subscriptions. The town of Heckmond wike had gone in exactly the opposite direction, for, with the exception of a small Roman Catholic school with 116 scholars, every Voluntary School had been handed over to the School Board. The average attendance at these schools was 1,377 scholars, and they would receive under the 4s. special-aid grant £25; but they made an annual sacrifice to the rates of £1,500. That seemed a most unjust and invidious distinction between one class of sacrifice and another. The absolute limit which was placed upon the grants and might be earned by a school was a lamentable and retrograde step. In the report of the Education Department there is a list of 22 large towns which have a School Board in them. Of these 20 receive grants above the amount which the Bill fixed. They receive grants varying from 19s. to 20s. 9d. each for the Board Schools. Of the same towns, plus Preston, only three receive for Voluntary Schools over this limit of 19s., so that they should have by this invidious distinction a double hardship inflicted; there would be the hardship on certain Board Schools, because the Voluntary School would have a larger margin in future than the Board School; and there would also be the hardship on the Voluntary School because they could never reach the highest mark at present obtained by the Board Schools, however much might be their sacrifice, and however high their local subscriptions. In 1876 the present First Lord of the Admiralty told the House that the increase then contemplated from 15s. to 17s. 6d. was a blow levelled at Nonconformists, and the right hon. Gentleman had turned out a a true prophet. He supposed the Government and their supporters now thought they could make the operation complete, without the slightest regard to the principles of religious equality contended for by Nonconformists. Reference had been made to the religious education given in Board Schools as being that which was accepted by Nonconformists. It was accepted under protest, and it did not mean that the religious education given in Board Schools expressed the whole of what Nonconformists believed to be necessary to be taught in the way of religious education, and they maintained, at an equal expense to that of the friends of the Church of England, their own Sunday Schools, without making any claim whatsoever upon the Government, although the Government, from 1830 to 1882, voted 1½ millions in building grants to those very schools of the Church of England, which were Sunday schools as well as day schools. And when they were reminded that Mr. Forster expected Board Schools would be maintained at a 3d. rate, he must also ask the House to remember that it was that Statesman's opinion that one-third of the cost should be provided by local funds. That contribution had already dwindled to one-sixth, and the one-sixth it was now proposed to abolish entirely. He protested against the Government neglecting what even the Archbishop of Canterbury regarded as a necessary provision—namely, that some amount of local subscriptions should be required as a condition of such large grants being handed over to these schools. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, summed up the case for the Voluntary Schools by saying that they produced more independence and greater originality and variety into our educational system. The only independence he had observed was the curious one which took the shape of a willingness to take any amount of money which might be handed over to them; and as to originality, the only originality he had observed was the introduction of Dr. Gale's Catechism, which taught that Dissent was a sin, and that it was sinful and presumptuous for Dissenting teachers to approach the Throne of Grace. The legislation of the predecessors in office of the present Government was wont to be denounced as predatory and revolutionary, and as uprooting institutions capable of doing good. For his part, with the exception of the Agricultural Rating Bill, he never knew a Bill so predatory in its instincts as the present Bill, and never knew a Bill more revolutionary in uprooting institutions not only merely capable of doing good, but which had done the best educational work during the last 25 years, and which would firmly establish and endow schools which had lagged behind during that same period of time. It would be his duty, perhaps with reluctance, to oppose the Bill, on account of what he considered to be its most mischievous and malignant provisions.

* SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said he believed that education was nationally and individually a necessity; and both personally, politically, socially, and commercially we were bound, in the interests of our country, to improve education. Expenditure on education was highly economic; parsimony was not economy in dealing with it, and money spent on education was in the end most reproductive and a great saving to the State. They were all opposed to anything in the shape of waste or extravagance, and they demanded a fair return for their money, but he quite agreed that the limitations imposed by the Bill would not only render it comparatively ineffectual for its object, but they were opposed to the principles on which the House should legislate. The measure of their expenditure should be the need which exists. The Government would do well to consider whether the arbitrary limits they placed upon expenditure were just in principle, and to reconsider not only the 4s. special aid grant, but also the limitation which existed in the Bill upon it and upon other grants. As a strong educationalist, he regretted that provision for public education came so late in this country. The German competition with which we had to contend was bound up in the legislature of the great Minister Stein in the early part of the century, by which he established that primary education on which the technical system of the country was afterwards built up. After the battle of Jena, the Minister said to the Monarch, "We must make up intellectually what we have lost materially." Hence Prussian and German education, though, of course, there were higher considerations than trade, and the happiness and welfare of the individual was the highest incentive to education. He had nothing but praise for the Act of 1870 and for Board Schools; he had been a Member of a School Board and knew the value of these Boards. Board Schools should be regarded as being complementary to Voluntary Schools and both as parts of our National system. But the great and immediate danger of education was the fear of reaction against all education on account of what was believed to be its excessive cost. The need for national purposes of the Voluntary Schools was, therefore, one incentive to support this Bill. The Voluntary Schools gave us capital and buildings we should not otherwise possess. They gave us, what he believed would be continued, voluntary subscriptions. If it had not been for the earlier work of these schools, long before the State did its duty to the people, what would have been our position to-day? One objection to helping them was said to be the absence of control. He did not like the word control; he preferred to speak of co-operation; and he could see no reason why parents, of whose wishes and rights so much was said, should not co-operate with managers, in a representative capacity, in the management of the schools. So far from weakening any religious body this cooperation by contact would excite that sympathy which now found expression only on such occasions as the distribution of prizes, and it would be a stimulus to that interest in Home education which was so great a want. He approved of both Board and Voluntary Schools, and he desired to see the principle of equality in dealing with them adopted, and when the Bill came before the Committee he should do his best to secure that equality of treatment between them. He entirely agreed with what had been said by the Duke of Devonshire the other day on this subject, namely, that there should be statutory equality between both classes of schools. Why should there be any distinction between them? If there were needs of both, should not that need be met? No proposal based upon statutory distinction between them would receive any support from him. ["Hear, hear!"] He should like to say a word with regard to the need of education from a commercial point of view, though he did not overlook intellectual and disciplinary considerations, and still less the formation of character, for education should fit men to make the best and the most of both worlds. No doubt there were a large number of German clerks in our City houses, but the genesis of the German clerk was to be found in the advanced system of education that was adopted at Hamburg and other places in Germany, in the compulsory teaching of English there and at Stettin and elsewhere. He was extremely glad that, after having been forestalled for so many years, we had at last put education upon a sound basis, and were doing what we ought to do for our people in regard to this matter. In his opinion, this Bill would do much that was needed for the improvement of education in this country. It was through want of co-operation and co-ordination that we wasted so much time and money in this country, and the Bill would effect this, and also the better grading of our schools, and the selection of the clever children by scholarships and exhibitions. This Bill would do much to improve the training of our teachers, and they must remember that if our education was to be great we must make our educators great. The great defect of Voluntary Schools had been their inability to pay their teachers adequately, but this Bill would enable the Voluntary Schools to remedy that evil. He looked forward to the time when every child of ability in this country would be able to obtain the highest education that could be given by an educational ladder from the Elementary Schools to the Universities, available for the best scholars. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when the London child would be able to claim the right to be educated at the London University, when that University would become a teaching University? He had put a great many questions in that House on the subject, but he was sorry to say without result, as far as obtaining information on the subject was concerned. There was great difficulty in these times in ascertaining who was the real Education Minister, and all responsibility appeared to be shrouded in mystery behind those impersonalities "My Lords." He hoped that at no distant time the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would be able to give him an answer to the question how the clever child should, by intellectual selection and discrimination, be able to attain the highest advantages that were offered under our educational system. It had been objected that the Measure was a revolutionary and a radical one, but for his part he cared more about things than names, and he cared not what it was called if only it was a real reform. He was glad that the Bill proposed to place the power of education in the hands of the municipalities to do the work by municipal machinery. He could not understand the distrust of municipal self-government which hon. Gentlemen opposite had shown in regard to this question. He was surprised that the Party to whom we owed the original Municipalities Bill, which had been so largely developed in our modern towns, and which had given us both sanitation in the best sense and some education, should now distrust municipal action in dealing with the latter subject. Notwithstanding the long definitions of the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Fife yesterday, the Bill was only revolutionary in this sense, that it proposed that the people should do for themselves and by themselves what would be of benefit to themselves, and should bring to the aid of education their local knowledge and experience of the wants of their own localities. He wished for variety and elasticity in education, and had no desire that we should be able to repeat the boast of a French Statesman who on one occasion had taken out his watch and remarked that at that particular moment every child in the country was learning a particular lesson, but he thought that some attempt should be made to satisfy the wants of the localities, and also to establish some special schools to give special teaching with regard to special industries. He did not say that there were no blots upon the Bill, but they could be removed when the Bill got into Committee. On the contrary while he approved its main, and especially its municipal, lines, he thought it contained some inequalities and injustices; he had no sympathy with attempts to arrest or to try to stereotype the cost or standard of education; you could not crystallise these things, and whether we moved with it or not the world, and our competitors, would move on, despite any effort to stem evolution and development. The principles of the Bill appeared to be that it decentralised, municipalised, and subsidised the schools. The sounding impersonality of "My Lords" would be removed without any real loss of power or control by the Central Department. The Code would remain untouched, and so would central supervision, but he suggested that, at all events temporarily, the power of inspection should be retained by the Central Department, especially as the municipalities might object to the cost of inspection which now came out of the Parliamentary grant. Returns and information would have to be sent to the Education Department, there would be a right of appeal to it, and all that would cease would be the duty of "My Lords" to pick up educational pins, to busy themselves with endless sanitary and other details, which could be better done upon the spot. The representatives of the municipalities had approved of the powers in question being conferred upon those bodies. There was a meeting called, upon full notice, of the Association of Municipal Corporations, which consisted of Mayors, Aldermen, Councillors and Town Clerks of the various municipalities; a Report, prepared by a special Committee to which the duty was entrusted, was placed before it, and the resolution they unanimously passed was one of approval of the Bill in establishing a municipal Education Committee of the Town Councils, subject to details for the proper inclusion of non-county boroughs, and for an annual election of the Committee. That body also approved of a principle of this Bill which, he thought, was an exceedingly good one, and that was that the immediate work of conducting local authorities' action on the subject of education should be intrusted to that special Committee. The constitution of the special Committee was one of the things he regarded as very material in the discussion of this Bill. He regretted that in the past more men of leisure and culture had not come into their municipalities. It was to be regretted for their own sakes, for they could have done useful public service, and it was to be regretted for the sake of the municipalities themselves. The Committee would enable the municipalities, and, he ventured to think, might even require the municipalities, to add to themselves those educational experts who were capable of rendering the best aid and who had, under the Technical Education Act, rendered that aid with the greatest benefit. If there was doubt and distrust of the action of the local Councils—which he did not share—let the precaution be taken, as in the case of the Watch Committees in boroughs, of making that Committee statutorily independent. The principle should be that where there was power there should also be the opportunity of knowledge and responsibility; and, therefore, if they had this independent Committee, with the addition of experts, they would have the security of and for knowledge and responsibility, especially if they made it statutorily independent. For his part, he had objected to taking the determination of one body with knowledge and reasons and experience, back to a Council which might have neither, and where neither might be represented. He ventured to suggest that that would be a slight modification of the plan of the Government which commended itself to him, and which would give them the advantages which some hon. Members thought were enjoyed under the present system. The right hon. Member for Fife doubted whether their Councils would feel themselves equal to this work. He quite agreed that there would have to be some tentative and even experimental experience. But that had been the whole history of the municipalities. That was the way in which they had built up by legislation, through experience and often experimentally, those great health and other codes, which were one of the brightest features of their modern legislation. Equally, in dealing with education, they would have to acquire some experience. They had acquired some already through the Library, the Museum, the Science and Art Gallery Acts, and Technical Instruction Statutes, and he did not think they would have any difficulty in dealing with it. He would add this. When he heard of bigotry and intolerance—the rejection of both of which he heartily shared—he ventured to think that in the elections for their Councils they would get a wider, broader, and better vein of thought in dealing with these matters. They had municipal experience to guide them, and he had in his hand a return from some two hundred boroughs officially prepared, giving a record of their work for technical instruction. Had they preferred relieving the ratepayers to doing their duty? On the contrary, with the one exception of Preston—which was in a purely exceptional position and had other facilities—they had done the work which Parliament gave them to do, and had established educational conditions which would be of the very greatest advantage to the public. They had, indeed, founded schools and classes, and so aided education as to have anticipated most of the very lines of this Bill, and they had worked through Committees as now suggested, and this in both county and non-county boroughs; and the municipal principle of all this, and of this Bill, was in strict accord with the evidence he himself gave for the municipalities before the Secondary Education Commission, while the system of indirect election, and not election ad hoc, was the foundation of the Report of that Commission, plus even the appointment of Government nominees. The right hon. Member for Fife said they had too much to do. He had to say, in reply to that assertion, that he had been connected with some of these Councils for a long period, and though the demands were great and the work exacting, they were quite capable of undertaking this additional duty through such a Committee as he had referred to; and his own experience told him that if they trusted them with this work, if they enlarged the sphere of their municipal action, gave greater dignity and utility to the pursuits in which they were engaged, and if they thus attracted to them the best men to do that duty they would find they would not disappoint expectations, and that guided, and in a great measure controlled and directed, especially as to the "suitability" and "efficiency" of the education given, which would also be secured by the conditionality of the grants by the Education Department, they would render in the future even greater service to their country than in the past, and would show no lack of educational enterprise. He now came to the provisions in the Bill enabling schools to be subsidised. However they might individually differ, they could not, if they respected faith and liberty and freedom of thought and conscience, allow their Voluntary Schools to die. For that reason, also, it was necessary to keep their Voluntary Schools in existence. When they came to Clause 27, and inquired whether it was desirable that religious differences should be introduced into their school buildings, he thought there was room for great consideration. It was quite true the experiment had been made in Birmingham, and he believed, also, with considerable success. It had also been made in Canada where he had seen it in operation, and in the end with conspicious want of success, and they had to consider whether it was worth while to introduce such a plan into this Bill, which the Bishop of Durham seemed to question, at any rate practically. Some of the provisions in the Bill were good, especially that as to the audit, which would secure the proper use of public money, and the provision as to the age limit. He believed that this proposal to gradually increase the age which had been prescribed would have the most beneficial consequences. Boys left school at an age at which they could hardly expect them to retain the benefit of their schooling; they put them to distracting and engrossing work, and then blamed their educational system because it had not answered their expectations. Their expectations had been unreasonable, and if they gave teachers and scholars a chance by enabling the latter to remain sufficiently long at school, and the more clever ones to go to the excellent higher grade Board Schools, they would gain a real benefit for education, apart from the benefit to the race gained by the gradual development of the principles of the original Factory Acts of which legislation the Conservative Party had no reason to be ashamed. He should like to say a word about the reform of Poor Law Schools—an excellent feature of this Bill. The Report of the Committee upon this subject showed how necessary it was to decrease aggregations of scholars, to try to depauperise and remove them from the associations by which they were surrounded, and give them hope of a better future—and these were all things in which the Bill would, in his opinion, do most excellent service for the State. But excellent as was the recommendation, some aggregation was necessary for industrial training, one of the best features of Workhouse Schools—and, in this respect, as in some others, the Report did not do justice to some schools—notably, to his own knowledge, to those of the parish of Islington. He could never assent to any attempt to arrest the development of education or to any attempt to place an arbitrary limit to the increasing aid, providing it was well used, which education ought to receive. In bringing to the aid of education the machinery of municipal government, in placing at the disposal of that work the funds and the organisation which municipalities possessed, and in giving elasticity, variety, and localisation to their educational system, he believed the Bill gave promise of a great reform and improvement, and as such would have his hearty support, while he reserved to himself full liberty to amend it in Committee, a work in which he hoped they would have the co-operation of the Government and of all parties, for public education was and ought to be high above the range of party contentions.

MR. J. BRYCE) (Aberdeen, S.

said, this Bill was called a Bill to make further provision for education, but he had noticed that nearly all the speeches had been delivered upon questions which had comparatively little to do with educational polity, and had turned mainly upon points of theological or political controversy. There had been two exceptions in the speeches of his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham and the hon. Member for Islington, but in the main the Bill had been discussed with regard to those controversial points which unfortunately seemed likely to overshadow the good points in it with regard to which there was comparatively little controversy. He did not wish to undervalue or ignore those good points. They had been referred to already. They included the provision for audit, the provision with regard to Poor Law children, the provision for raising the age, which had, he thought, received on that side of the House universal approval, though he believed that opposition was threatened elsewhere, and the provisions with regard to secondary education. But unfortunately those good points came in in a Bill which bristled with so much controversial matter, and which raised so many strong feelings upon questions with regard to which feeling was deeply enlisted on both sides of the House, that he was afraid the non-controversial matters would be overshadowed and lost sight of in the discussions of a controversial kind which lay before them. He felt that especially with regard to the provisions which related to secondary education. They were provisions which were indeed somewhat sketchy. They were rather in outline than filled up. In some respects they were crude and not sufficiently considered, but still they did for the outline of what might be worked up into a valuable scheme. Being mixed up in the Bill with many controversial questions relating to elementary education, they were not likely, either in the Second Reading Debate or in Committee, to receive the attention and the calm discussion which they deserved. He thought it was very unfortunate that this should be so, because there were a good many points in which the secondary education provisions of the Bill required to be considered, and examined, and improved. The Bill purported to follow in the main the report of the Secondary Education Commission, but it diverged in many points from that Report, and where it differed—he did not say this from any special fondness for the Report of the Commission, but he said it as, he believed, embodying the criticism which the Bill had received out of doors—it differed for the worst. For instance, it contained no provision for establishing a strong central department qualified to deal with secondary education. ["Hear, hear!"] That was one of the essential parts of the scheme of the Secondary Education Commission. They conceived that the work of secondary education was one of such great importance to the country, and one also of such great difficulty that all the concentrated wisdom which could be brought to bear on it from the central office would be needed to guide and instruct the local authorities in whose hands the rest of the work was to be placed. They conceived, also, that that would only be done by consolidating the existing authorities which dealt with secondary education. The House knew that these authorities were three—the Education Department, the Science and Art Department, and the Charity Commission. There was also the Agricultural Department, but its functions were more limited. The Bill said very little about the Science and Art Department, though the Vice-President of the Council might say that it was within his administrative power to bring in the Science and Art Department. But it was not within his power to bring in the Charity Commission. The position of the Charity Commission in this matter was one of great importance. It had a jurisdiction which rested upon statute; it was not directly represented in that House, and it was less amenable than most branches of the administration to the control of Parliament. It had been admitted for a long time that something must be done in this direction, and he believed that the necessity for doing something had been very much accentuated by the proposals of the Government in regard to secondary education. If he had time to go through the clauses of the Bill, he could show in detail how many points there were in which the Charity Commission might come into conflict with, or at any rate might overlap and act independently of, the Education Department, and the House would see that the Bill contained within itself the germs of great waste, great friction, and, possibly, great impediment to reform. He would only give two or three illustrations. The Charity Commission was at present entirely independent; it was not amenable to the Education Department. If the House would refer to the clause which gave the local authority power to promote a scheme, they would see that that scheme would have to be approved, as at present, by the Charity Commission. But the local authority were under the control of the Education Department, and it was essential that the Education Department should have power to refer to the conditions of the scheme and be able to make suggestions for their improvement. They might, therefore, have a conflict between the Charity Commission, the scheme-approving authority, and the Education Department, as the authority which supervised the local Secondary Education authority. That would be productive of considerable friction, and probably would prevent a proper scheme from being enacted. The same thing arose under the provisions relating to the administration of the funds raised under the Excise and Customs Act of 1890. That money was to be given to the Education Committee for the county, which would act under the direction of the Education Department. But it might well be that part of that money would have to be applied to schools which were governed by schemes, and where a school was under a scheme the Charity Commission was the statutory interpreter of the scheme and the statutory authority which controlled the governors of the school. There also they might have a conflict between the Education Department in its jurisdiction over the local governing body, or the local authority for Secondary Education and the Charity Commission. This would have been avoided by bringing the Charity Commission into the new central authority and making it part of the Education Department, in which case the communications would be passed through the one office, and the danger of friction and antagonism which he had pointed out to the House would have been entirely avoided. He thought that by some words used by the Vice President of the Council, in answer to a question, that he would have been disposed to bring the Charity Commission into the Bill by way of amendment, but the words which he used yesterday in his speech on the Second Reading damped those hopes. He gathered from what he said yesterday that the right hon. Gentleman did not see any prospect of bringing in the Charity Commission. It would be a great loss if the right hon. Gentleman could not do it, and he believed the reform of Secondary Education would go on much less promptly and much less efficiently than it otherwise might do. That was not the only point in which he regretted to see that the suggestions that were made for the improvement of Secondary Education had not been used. There was no provision in the Bill imposing a statutory obligation upon the local authority to make provision for Secondary Education. The words of the Bill were merely that the local authority "may" provide it. He was by no means satisfied, and he did not think the Secondary Education Commission were satisfied, that an optional provision of this kind was sufficient. Their view was that many local authorities might be unwilling to go the length which the necessities of the case placed upon them. It was felt that this was a duty for which plenty of time should be given, and that the local authority should have considerable discretion as to the way it should proceed, but it was felt that it should be a statutory duty, because Secondary Education, in its way, was just as essential to the well-being of the community and of the nation as Elementary Education was. That provision was entirely omitted from the Bill. The Bill omitted also the provision, which was a very essential one, that the Science and Art grants should be looked upon as part of the fund to be applied to Secondary, including Technical, Education. He did not find that in the Bill. If it was there, it certainly was not explicit. He had read the Bill with some care, and other Members of the Commission had done so, and they did not find it there. He had great doubt whether the penny rate, which was all that the Bill authorised, would be found to be sufficient. It must he remembered that the money now available under the Act of 1890 was being spent by counties and boroughs very largely on the promotion of technical education, and he felt sure from the information that reached the Commissioners that those bodies did not wish to diminish largely the expenditure which they now made, although, no doubt, considerable economies might be effected by working technical education in better with general secondary education. The fear, therefore, was that an additional fund would be needed, and, unless they were to make an increased Parliamentary grant, they ought to increase the limit of the penny rate to twopence. It was probable that in many cases the twopenny rate would be still less used, but he was, nevertheless, persuaded that public opinion was growing in this matter. The value of secondary and technical education was being more and more appreciated, and there would be some comparatively enlightened places willing to rate themselves, perhaps pretty high, for the purpose of promoting technical and secondary instruction. If this was so, then he thought that the Government might have included in the Bill the provision, recommended by the Commission, authorising the local authority to rate itself up to twopence if so advised. He came next to the question of the constitution of the local authority on secondary education. There was no provision in the Bill for placing on this local authority, either in boroughs or in counties, any persons who were specially competent by knowledge or experience to deal with secondary and technical instruction. That was a very enlightened part of the recommendations of the Commission, and he was glad to see that nearly every public body and educational authority, which had expressed their opinions on the Bill, advocated the introduction of such a provision if local authorities were to do their work properly. He should be glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman appreciated the weight of that criticism, and he hoped that he would give effect to it in Committee. Next, they came to the question of how the local authority was to be constituted. Take the case of the towns first. In towns the Bill proposed to entirely supersede and to exclude the School Boards. That was a very serious matter, and the action must have been taken from some desire on the part of the framers of the Bill to discourage and depreciate the School Boards. [Cheers.] It could not have been taken through oversight. The Secondary Education Commission found that in towns the field of secondary and technical education was partly in possession of School Boards and partly in possession of borough councils. The School Boards were in possession of secondary education in respect of the higher grade elementary schools. Those schools formed a very important feature in recent education. They had sprung up to fill a void left by the non-fulfilment of the recommendations of the Schools Inquiry Commission many years ago to supply secondary education of an efficient type to the children of the middle classes, the lower middle classes, and to children of the artisan class. Those higher grade elementary schools had done work of the greatest possible value in many large boroughs, particularly in such places as Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester. On the other hand, it was not to be denied that the town councils were in possession of another part of the field of secondary education, while at the same time there was great jealousy between the School Boards and the town councils. The disposition of authorities to entertain sentiments of personal jealousy was one of the most curious phenomena of Government; but there was no doubt that authorities all over the country were as jealous of one another as if they were individuals. In these circumstances the Commission came to the conclusion that the proper course was to recognise both authorities, and, in order to place secondary and technical instruction on an equal footing, they recommended that the local authority should consist in equal parts of representatives of the town council, the School Board, and of persons appointed by some other educational authority—by a University or University College. There an attempt was made to overcome the jealousy and to recognise fair play on the part of both of those local authorities. The Bill, however, set aside any suggestion of that nature. It ignored the School Board; it gave the whole field over to the town council, and, considering the jealousy which existed, one could hardly expect that the town council would of its own motion be inclined to come forward to recognise the work which the School Board had done and to admit it to an equal share. In this respect, therefore, the School Boards had not been properly recognised, and he thought that considerable difficulty would arise from that non-recognition. Again, there was the other and wider question as to the same local authority for elementary and secondary education. There were, primâ facie, some advantages in having the same authority, but in a country like this they were obliged to look facts in the face. There were a great many differences between the position of secondary education and elementary education. One difference was that elementary education was a matter into which sectarian controversy very largely entered. Secondary education, on the other hand, had happily been, in England at least, exempt from sectarian con- troversy. Nothing so surprised the members of the Secondary Education Commission than to find that there was no theological controversy in the field of secondary education, and they expressed their opinion to that effect. But it was different in elementary education, and he thought the effect of putting secondary and elementary education in the hands of the same local authority would be to impart the sectarian controversy which had affected the one into the other; and they would have a repetition in the field of secondary education of those theological and political discords and hostilities which had done so much to retard the spread and improvement of elementary education. A more unfortunate result for secondary education could not happen. Looking at a balance of advantages and to the fact that in the press of elementary education work secondary education interests might be forgotten, he thought it would be better to leave secondary education to a special authority; and he hoped that even now the Bill would be amended in that sense. The next question that arose was whether elementary education ought to be transferred from the central office in Whitehall to those local authorities. There was a very great difference between the transfer of elementary education and the grant of secondary education to local authorities. County Councils had already had some experience in working technical instruction; so had the Borough Councils; the School Boards had experience of technical education and higher-grade elementary schools; but no local authority had enjoyed any experience of the working of elementary education. What would be done by this Bill was to take an immense mass of very difficult and complicated work which was now undertaken by a highly-trained staff of permanent officials and to throw it at the heads of the new authorities, who had no experience at all. There were good reasons for having variety in secondary education and for allowing experiments in secondary education to be tried by local authorities, but those reasons did not apply with the same force to the case of elementary education. The main thing there was to see that the elementary and essential subjects were thoroughly well taught. The lines of that education in rural and urban districts must be in the main similar, and there was not the same room for variety and diversity as there was in secondary and technical education. In many districts far less interest was taken in elementary education than they would desire to see, and the great improvements in it had come from two authorities only—namely, the central office in Whitehall and the School Boards in great towns. They had not come from the small School Boards or the elementary school managers. He had understood the Vice President of Council to acknowledge that the School Boards of the great towns and the Education Department in Whitehall had been valuable and powerful agents in the improvement of elementary education. [Sir J. GORST: "Yes; but I never said that the country owed nothing to the managers of Voluntary Schools."] Neither had he said that. He felt that they would be trying a very dangerous experiment if they dispensed with the authority of the central office. In setting up the local authority as the authority for elementary education they would be setting up an authority that had no experience in educational matters, and in cases of appeal to it from School Boards the appeal would be from those who had knowledge and experience to those who probably had none. In County Council elections the Bill would introduce a new and very unfortunate element. County Councils were at present elected without any regard to sectarian or theological matters, but that would now be changed. The Vice President had said that the transfer which was to be made need not be made at once, but in order to avoid the over- lapping of the authority and the complexity that would otherwise arise the temptation to the Education Department to transfer its powers to the local authorities without delay would be very strong. Local authorities would go to Whitehall and say, "We want to have control over our education," and they could not be sure that the Education Department would refuse the request even in cases where it ought to be refused. If overlapping was to be avoided, the tendency of the central authority would be to part with its powers to the local authorities, who might be quite unprepared to discharge fitly the functions entrusted to them. The value of devolution or decentralisation was to be measured by the comparative fitness of the central body from which one proposed to take powers and of the local body upon which one proposed to confer those powers. No general principle could be laid down. ["Hear, hear!"] What had to be considered in every individual case was whether the local authority would do the work better than the central authority. That it would be done better by local authorities had not been shown. The Vice President had said that the Education Department was overburdened with work. But that work was at present needlessly complex; too many forms were observed, and the Department could part with a good many of its elaborate arrangements and statistics. It would be better to relieve the Department of these branches of its work than to relieve it by transferring to local bodies functions for which they were not fit. He did not deny that the time might come when our local authorities would be fit to undertake this work, but the time had not yet come. The proposal to raise the age from 11 to 12 excited the hostility of a large number of agriculturists, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman did not propose to leave the determination of that question to the local authority. The right hon. Gentleman therefore did not consider the local authorities infallible. How, then, could he maintain that those authorities could be trusted to keep up the same high standard of elementary education as the central authority had established? No demand had been made by the County Councils to have these powers, and he knew of one County Council that had passed a resolution asking that the powers might not be conferred upon them, and there was no evidence to show that the Municipal Corporations of the country wanted these powers any more than the County Councils did. It should be remembered that it was Parliament that was to provide the money. If the funds to be dealt with were local funds a great deal could be said in favour of allowing the local authorities to administer them; but as Parliament gave the money it ought to follow it and have charge of its application. The Bill did not give Parliament sufficient control over the application of the funds, and he regarded with great apprehension the loss to the education of the country of the stimulus which the central authority had given to it. Up to the present the collective wisdom of the State, which was far more enlightened and progressive than the opinion of most localities could be, had been brought to bear upon localities, with the result that our education had reached the point where it now stood. With regard to the religious difficulties which it was apprehended would arise under the Bill, it was said that Clause 27 did not repeal totidem verbis the Cowper-Temple Clause. It was true that it did not repeal that clause in so many words, but it would destroy the effect of the clause and introduce the mischiefs which that clause was intended to guard against In 1870 there were opposite tendencies at work. There was, on the one hand the demand for denominational education all over the country, the idea being that religious education must be denominational; and, on the other hand then was the demand expressed by the Birmingham League for general secular education without any religious instruction at all. But the public opinion of the country whilst the Bill of 1870 was passing through the House expressed itself so unmistakably against both those extreme views that the Cowper-Temple Clause was introduced as a reasonable compromise. That compromise had lasted for 20 years, and on the whole it had worked with great smoothness and success. It had been due to the good sense of the School Boards and the teachers that it had worked so well, and why should that compromise now be interfered with? The parents in this country desired, he believed, to have religious instruction for their children. Under the Cowper-Temple Clause, they had been kept together with no denominational distinctions in the schools. The fact had not been obtruded upon them that their parents belonged to different creeds, and the religious instruction given to them had been excellent, as Bishops of the Church had admitted. This was a part of their work which the Board School teachers greatly valued. They felt that it helped and strengthened their position in the schools. The teaching of the Bible was a means of giving to the children, as was pointed out by Matthew Arnold, a kind of literary instruction, stimulating and elevating, such as perhaps no other part of their school work supplied. The teachers had made Bible instruction the basis of their moral teaching, and it had given them a hold upon the minds of their pupils and had been a very valuable element in maintaining discipline. He did not believe that complaint had been made by Church of England parents of this undenominational teaching. What would be the result of the proposals under this Bill? In some places, in the case of Voluntary Schools, where party feeling ran high, and where, perhaps, the clergyman was not popular, an attempt might be made to introduce distinctive teaching; and he could conceive cases in which such an attempt would be very disagreeable to the clergyman, and might be the cause of a great deal of bad feeling in the parish. He believed that that was perceived by the hon. Member for Brixton, and he was only one of many Members on both sides of the House who felt that this clause would be dangerous. And even in the case of Board Schools the result would be that in many cases pressure would be brought to bear on parents belonging to the Church of England to ask for special instruction, and in that case formularies would come in, and the Cowper-Temple Clause would he gone, and the teacher would be left with only a small group of pupils to whom he might give undenominational instruction. The children would then be separated into groups, and the first lesson they learnt at school would be the lesson of discord and distinction. ["Hear, hear!"] Then there was the question, by whom was this distinctive religious instruction to be given? Was it to be given by the clergyman or by the teacher? If by the teacher, he would be placed in an unpleasant position, because a question would arise as to which teacher should be chosen, and there would be a demand that he should necessarily be a member of the Church of England. On the other hand, if the instruction was to be given by the clergyman, the teacher would lose a part of his work which he greatly valued, and it was by no means certain that a curate would give the instruction as well as a practical Board School teacher. ["Hear, hear!''] The result would be a great loss to the school, to the security of the parents, and to the teacher; and for what? In order that a certain number of partisans might be gratified. ["Hear, hear!"] It was only in their interest that this step was proposed at all. He did not at all deny that there was on the part of certain sections of public opinion a demand for distinctive denominational teaching; but he wondered whether those who made the demand—like the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, who always expressed the views of his Party with great frankness and clearness—["hear, hear!"]—had considered what was the value of the dogmatic instruction children could receive up to the age of 13. ["Hear, hear!"] Without dogmatic instruction children could have laid before them the history of the Old Testament, the precepts of the Gospels, and moral and religious duty as based upon the work of Our Lord; and what was it beyond that that children up to 13 years of age could comprehend? ["Hear, hear!"] How many were there in that House who could undertake to explain the dogmas on which so much stress was laid to a class of children under 13? ["Hear, hear!"] He could understand what was meant by the Roman Catholic Church, because that Church surrounded children with pictures, images and emblems, and taught them the use of particular prayers and forms. She surrounded the child with a religious atmosphere which, no doubt, had a certain power of inculcating good conduct; but the Protestant could not use the means used by the Roman Catholic Church. Take the general propositions which were to be found in the Articles of the Church of England. He could not understand how a child could be expected to approach with profit those parts of the theology of the Church of England which differed from the theology of the Nonconformists. Let anyone take the liturgy and the Articles of the Church of England and endeavour to extract from them those propositions which were not accepted by Nonconformists; how much of them would be presentable to children? Children could, no doubt, be taught to repeat phrases; but they could not be made to understand them or to grasp the conception those phrases endeavoured to convey, and the principal test of religious instruction was the good it did to the child. ["Hear, hear!"] No one would, he hoped, depreciate the value of religious instruction or of a religious atmosphere. He agreed that it was invaluable to the child, but it did not consist in learning formularies. It consisted in precept, in example, in association, and in worship. Those were the things that laid hold of the mind of the child, and, though he wished to speak of them with all respect, he could not help thinking that those who demanded this distinctive dogmatic instruction were in a sense fighting for a shadow. ["Hear, hear!"] But this was not the only unfortunate result as regarded religion which the Bill contained. There was one point to which he thought attention had not yet been called, and which deserved attention. Every step taken towards diminishing the number of Board Schools tended to narrow the field for teachers. He had known cases of young people who had obtained places in Voluntary Schools as efficient teachers, and who had been dismissed because it was discovered that they were Nonconformists. Speaking generally, Nonconformists could not obtain apprenticeship to teachers. ["Hear, hear!"] This was a great loss and a great grievance, and the more the number of Board Schools was diminished the more the grievance was increased. It was not only a grievance to the young people excluded from the profession, but it was an injury to the profession itself, by narrowing its bounds. ["Hear, hear!"] There were many other points in the Bill to which he had not time to refer. The subjection of the School Boards to borough councils was a very great evil and injustice. The advantage given to Voluntary Schools by paying their aid out of the general rate practically made the ratepayer a contributor to Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The gift of money to Voluntary Schools where no local contributions were required was also a very great grievance. There were not a few schools, particularly in Lancashire and Cheshire, which now received practically no voluntary contributions—["Hear, hear!"]—and were supported out of the Government grant, and in their case under this Bill a great additional contribution would be made to the Government grant. Again, there were great inequalities in the Bill. The Government were taxing the towns for the benefit of the country, and some towns for the benefit of other towns which were now making less effort to secure good and efficient education. They were also restricting in a very serious way the future development of education by imposing a limit on educational expenditure. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, he found very little in the Bill to secure increased efficiency. Even the provision requiring the special grant to be applied to the improvement of the teaching staff did not secure any greater efficiency in the schools. All these things threw light on the character of the Bill. It was a Bill to depress Board Schools—he would not say to strengthen Voluntary Schools, because it did not do so—but it was a Bill to relieve the subscribers to Voluntary Schools, and that was practically the only result of it that could be predicted at present. ["Hear, hear!"] Would it not have been possible to effect that object more simply? There was a strange disproportion between the demands made and the answer given to them. That which was asked for was more aid, and it was declared that that would be welcome, even if it came accompanied by the condition of larger contributions. If the late Government had given larger local aid to Voluntary Schools it would certainly have been accompanied by a provision for local representation in the management and for better security for efficiency; but, supposing that this security for efficiency was not demanded, and that local representation was provided, it would have been possible for the Government to have given further aid to Voluntary Schools in a far simpler and less dangerous way than that provided for in this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] By proposing practically to destroy the Education Department as regarded most of its functions and to transfer them to local authorities, their conduct reminded him of those who, because they desired to rebuild one of the side chapels in one of our great cathedrals, took down the whole of the cathedral and proposed to rebuild it. The revolution now proposed was disproportionate to the demand made and the case shown. At the General Election the country was promised a quiet time and progress with social reforms. Of all reforms educational reform was the most useful to the country and had the greatest promise of real help to the people. There was much to be done still to improve the teaching in the schools, to raise the quality of the teaching by improving the training of the teachers themselves. There was nothing in the Bill to improve the training of the teachers or secure educational efficiency. But he saw much in the Bill that would tend to injure education. It was a Bill which would certainly inflame religious controversy and carry it into the field of secondary education, and throw the work of secondary education—which was admitted to be urgent and important—upon bodies whose other occupations would make them unfitted to deal with it. There was no alternative left to the Opposition, but to give their strenuous resistance to those parts of the Bill—and, unfortunately, they were the principal and colouring parts—which failed to secure educational efficiency, inflamed religious strife, and were calculated to seriously injure and retard all educational progress in the future. [Cheers.]


, said he had no reason to complain of the tone of the speech just delivered. The right hon. Gentleman spoke with knowledge and great moderation. The knowledge of his speech was as conspicuous as declamation was absent. That was exactly the reverse of the speech on Tuesday night of the right hon. Gentleman who sat next to him, the late Home Secretary, which was more declamation than knowledge. He himself should be sorry to have his name on the back of a Bill which tended to curtail the utility of the Education Department or to embar- rass the proper work of the School Boards. The one remarkable feature of our educational system was the wonderful vitality of the Voluntary Schools. When the Bill of 1870 was passed it used to be said that the Voluntary system could not hold its own against the School Board system. But, although the requirements of the Education Department had been properly raised, the denominational system was stronger than ever it was before, and it was ridiculous to contend that a system which had extended under the most untoward circumstances was only promoted by a few bigots. It was because the Voluntary system was the most popular part of the whole scheme of National education that it had so well stood the strain which had been imposed upon it. [Cheers.] Inasmuch as the Voluntary Schools now supplied three-fifths of the total primary education of the country, no practical statesman who dealt with the question could neglect to try to bring the poorer denominational schools up to a standard which would enable them to properly fulfil their duties. At present, schools were administered on the most ridiculous system of centralised administration it was possible to conceive. A great deal had been said about the Government starving primary education. If there was a word out of place in connection with our primary education it was "starvation." Had hon. Members opposite the slightest conception of the cost of our system of primary education. It was by far the most expensive system in the world. At the present moment the Board Schools, according to the last Return of the late Government, were spending nine millions sterling, and if they added the cost of maintenance alone of Voluntary Schools there was an expenditure during the year to which the Report related of 14 millions. If the denominational schools were abolished, the expenditure in connection with the primary system of education in England and Wales would amount to 20 millions, including capital expenditure. But that was not all. Our system, relatively, was by far the most extravagant of any system of Europe. We spent more on primary education than any other country did per head on primary and secondary education combined. At present the schools were administered under the most ridiculous system of centralised administration that it was possible to conceive, and if Parliament wanted to get an adequate return for the amount expended on the schools the first essential was to decentralise as far as possible. If devolution was to take place there was no authority to which the control of education should be given except that which had been selected by the Government—namely, the County Council. If the system of primary education was over-administered it was exactly the reverse with regard to secondary education. The association in one committee of a body to superintend primary and secondary education was, to his mind, the great merit of the scheme. He was confident that primary and secondary education were more or less associated together, and they could not draw a distinction between the two. Therefore, they associated these two powers, as far as they could, in the hands of one body. Of course, there were certain criticisms and suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman made with a view of reducing friction which should receive their most careful attention. The suggestions with reference to the Charity Commission and the Science and Art Department were well worthy of attention. Why, he asked, should they be accused of bringing in a retrograde Measure? They were progressive, and hon. Members opposite were retrogressive. [Ministerial cheers.] Everybody knew that if County Councils had been in existence there never would have been a School Board, and it was a curious fact that since County Councils had been brought into existence almost every Bill dealing with the matter had transferred powers not to School Boards, but to County Councils. He did not want to attack School Boards, but right hon. Gentlemen opposite when in office attacked every institution in the country. There was not a fragment of Parliamentary power that was not in some way impugned, but now they said, "You may demolish Churches, you may break up Parliaments, but do not lay a finger on the School Boards." [Ministerial cheers and laughter.] And the curious fact was that these School Boards for which hon. Members opposite had suddenly developed such a veneration were elected under a cumu- lative vote which they declined to apply to any other constitutional body in the country.


We are quite ready to abolish it.


said, that one great principle of the Party opposite was to trust in the people; they trusted them in theory, but in practice they argued that there was one thing which must not in any way be confided to the people, and that was any control over the education of their own children. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman had used arguments with which they were well familiar, and he thought they could be dismissed just as they had been on previous occasions. The next serious attack that was made upon this Bill was the statement that they proposed to degrade School Boards, and the right hon. Gentleman who for 22 years had with such ability and assiduity discharged the functions of chairman of the Birmingham School Board had been somewhat alarmed lest under this Bill the powers which the Birmingham School Board at present possessed should be largely curtailed. There was great misapprehension on this point, but the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary, of course, was too astute a man to have been misled as others had been. There was no transfer of authority from the School Board to anybody else, the transfer of authority was from the Education Department to the County Councils, and the School Boards practically retained their powers, with this one exception—that under certain conditions, and very exceptional conditions, they might have to appeal to another authority if they wished to increase their expenditure beyond a certain limit. There were two limits in this Bill—one the amount which children could obtain from the grant, the other which the School Boards could obtain from the rates; but in each case there was an alternative scheme, and in each case either the school or the School Board could have recourse to the higher of the two. The limit as regarded the Education Grant was that which was paid during the year ending 1896, or 29s., whichever was highest, and in many cases the amount paid during that period would be higher than 29s. In the other case the rate was limited either by the amount payable during the same year or by the sum of 20s., the cost of maintenance of children in average attendance. Therefore, from the two figures they had got, taking the lowest limits, 49s. That was amply sufficient. Of course, London was in an exceptional position; but so far as he knew, the highest expenditure in Europe upon secondary and primary education was only 38s. per child in average attendance; and it was, therefore, an absurd pretence to say that by the lowest of the two limits proposed for primary education, which was 49s., they were in any way starving education. His experience was that some check was absolutely necessary. ["Hear, hear!"] He had great regard for the School Boards, and he would say that the London School Boards did their work exceptionally well. They did their work with ability and assiduity, but the great defect of the School Board was that the Finance Committee had practically no power of checking expenditure. In every department with which he had been connected that had the power of spending money the strongest part of the system was that which dealt with finance, and the ablest members of the department were those whose duty it was to check finance. It was exactly the reverse with the School Board, and on the London School Board it was difficult to get anybody to serve on the Finance Committee, because, as one member had said to him, they spent their whole time in signing cheques. The reason why it was so difficult to keep down expenditure was probably because, in the first place, of that absolutely erroneous system of estimating educational efficiency known as payment by results. If one school could beat another school by a half-penny it was a feather in the cap of the masters and children of that school. That was an improper system of competition, and the result undoubtedly was that a School Board would spend a shilling of the ratepayers' money in order to get pennies and halfpennies of the taxpayers' money from the grant. In the report signed by their predecessors in office there was a list of School Boards in towns of Great Britain, and the amount of the grant which was obtained by the children in average attendance was put in one column, and the other sources of income, and also the contribution from the rate, in another. This report showed that the children in average attendance at Blackburn earned £1 0s. 6¾d. from the grant, and those at Bolton obtained £1 1s. 2d., or 8d. more. The average payment on every child in attendance at Bolton from the rates was 17s. 9½d., and at Blackburn 9s. 1¾d., so that Bolton paid 8s. 8d. out of the rates on every child in average attendance to get 8d. more out of the Exchequer. That seemed to him a ridiculous system. Sheffield earned 4½d. more than Sunderland, but the increased cost to the ratepayers was 9s. 3d. for every child in average attendance. It could thus be seen that there was not a tendency to economy, because the cumulative vote did not keep the School Boards in contact with the ratepayers. It did not follow that a majority on the School Board represented a majority of the ratepayers. Moreover, when a vacancy occurred, the members co-opted persons to fill any such vacancies, and there were no bye-elections to show what the tendency of the community was. Therefore, a School Board might adopt some excessively extravagant system without consulting the ratepayers. In those circumstances, what the Bill did was to give the School Board power to spend what, in his judgment, was ample, and what in the great majority of cases was not yet reached, and to provide them with an efficient finance committee should they wish to raise the rate. The chairman of the Birmingham School Board would see that the various things which he said the School Board for Birmingham would do but for this Bill they would be able to do, unless they touched the maximum limit proposed.

MR. GEORGE DIXON (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

We have already reached it. ["Hear, hear!"]


said, if that was so, it was a fair matter for the consideration of the ratepayers. It must be recollected that, after all, the cost of the School Board came out of the general rate, and there might be questions of great importance affecting the general community which might often be much more pressing than those relating to education. In these circumstances it was reasonable that the County Council should have a controlling voice. He thought he had clearly shown that they had done nothing to degrade School Boards from the functions they now exercised. His hon. Friends were of opinion that the relief proposed to be given to Voluntary Schools was not sufficient. But it would be found that, excluding London, the difference between the average cost of maintenance of Board Schools and Voluntary Schools was just over 6s. The 4s. grant to all Voluntary Schools would very largely reduce that average; and, in addition, they relieved schools from the payment of rates and made a proposal, to which he attached the greatest importance, for the federation of Voluntary Schools. He might say that it was quite clear that it would be necessary to frame a special Scheme for London. In the Act of 1870, special arrangements were made for London, and he had no doubt that in this Bill special arrangements would have to be made. They had taken considerable powers with the Bill to vary any agreement or arrangement made with County Councils. They did not propose to do things in a rush and hurry, but to work gradually as they went along. The late Home Secretary criticised the distribution, but he thought the basis of that criticism was erroneous. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the more that was spent out of the rate the more entitled the locality was to help from the special grant. But the object of the grant was, not to reduce the rate, but to bring the income of schools up to an adequate level, and if schools had had a large income from the rates that must be taken into account when they claimed help from this grant. The great objection of hon. Members to any further assistance to Voluntary Schools was that it was not associated with what they were pleased to call popular control. He did not know whether they had ever really considered what popular control in connection with the denominational system would mean. He could quite understand those who wished to abolish the denominational system, but he could not understand anybody wishing to maintain that system and yet destroying its one characteristic—unity of idea and action so far as denominational education was concerned. The whole object of hon. Gentlemen in proposing popular representation was to try to get somebody amongst the managers of the school who did not belong to the denomination to which the school was attached—in other words, a Protestant in a Roman Catholic school, a Catholic in a Church school, and an Episcopalian in a Wesleyan school. Such a system could only result in spreading, in every parish where there was a denominational school, sectarian strife and bitterness. The Government, on the other hand, had brought denominational schools under the proper influence of popular control. In the first place, they subjected them, as far as secular instruction was concerned, to inspection by the officers of a popularly elected authority; in the next place, they took care that their accounts were audited by an officer of that authority; and they also, in Clause 27, introduced the popular element into the question of religious instruction, because under that clause they gave to any reasonable number of parents the right to claim distinctive religious instruction. Of all the proposals in the Bill that which had been received worst was that which was the greatest concession to hon. Members opposite. [Cheers and laughter.] Ever since the Education Act of 1870 was passed the one complaint of the Nonconformists had been that members of the Nonconformist denominations were forced to go to Church of England schools. The Government made a most generous offer. [Opposition laughter.] They said to Nonconformists, "We will relieve you of this grievance." And what is the reply? The reply is— It would remove our grievance, but possibly members of the Church of England suffering under a similar grievance might utilise that clause for the purpose of obtaining similar redress. [Loud cheers.] A great deal had been said about the Cowper-Temple Clause. His experience was that it was absolutely impracticable and unworkable except by common consent of every member of the School Board. It was all very well in theory to say that you could start a system of religious education which was common to every denomination and distinctive of none, but in practice it was impossible. This had been pointed out over and over again by Dr. Parker, the ablest controversialist on this subject among the Nonconformist divines, who said:— All religion must be sectarian, not in the narrow sense of bigotry, but in the philosophical sense of definition. The difference between one denominational creed and another did not merely consist in the inclusion of certain dogma, but very often in the exclusion of certain dogma. He would give an account of the most aggravated religious controversy which had taken place under the Cowper-Temple Clause—namely, that in connection with the London School Board. The clause did not allow of any formulary to be taught distinctive of any one denomination. The London School Board some 20 years ago came to the conclusion that the teachers should explain the Bible and impart the principles of religion and morality adapted to the age of the children. That went on for a good many years. About three years ago a Member of the Board, who was a clergyman, went to a school and found a Unitarian teacher explaining the Bible in the sense adopted by that denomination. He reported this to the Board. A most animated discussion took place, and ultimately, when it became clear that such instruction was contrary to the Cowper-Temple Clause, the Board decided that for the future instruction was to be given in the "Christian religion and the principles of morality." But this interpretation of the Cowper-Temple Clause was illegal, and the Jews could have objected to it. But the Jews had been bought off, for they had distinctly denominational education. They were congregated in certain schools, their teachers were selected from the Jewish persuasion, and the syllabus in which they were taught was drawn up by the Chief Rabbi. The Jews did not object, but the majority of the Board said:— As you have decided that Unitarian principles must not be taught, let us say what is to be taught, and they drew up a circular containing only four lines of dogma for the purpose of letting teachers know in what they might instruct the children. The whole of the Nonconformist clergymen in London simultaneously uprose; they denounced the members of the School Board, and got right hon. Gentlemen opposite to join them, and the whole of London was turned upside down. Ultimately, a new School Board was returned. They wished to get, he supposed, an impartial chairman, and they were good enough to select him. He set to work to ascertain what was the instruction that had been given in the schools, arid to his amazement he found that the very doctrine against which all the Nonconformists had protested was taught in the great majority of Board Schools. [Cheers.] The conclusion he had arrived at was that it was impossible to work the Cowper-Temple Clause except by consent. He did not attach that importance to dogmatic religious teaching which some of his Friends did. He disliked bigotry and intolerance in whatever shape it could be found. He disliked any attempt to force upon children dogma unpalatable to the parents, but he also objected strongly to the denial of the right of parents to have their children instructed in their own religion. His belief was that the positive effect of the clause would be slight, but that its negative effect would be great. Personally he preferred that, if possible, religious instruction should be given by the teachers of a school rather than by an outside body—["Hear, hear!"]—because wherever children were taught by the teacher they were taught in standards—they were classified according to their age and attainments—but if they were taught by an outside body they would be taught by denominations, which meant that children of all ages would be taught together. It seemed to him somewhat surprising that this great concession which the Government proposed to make to hon. Gentlemen opposite should have been accepted in the manner it had been by those hon. Gentlemen. Last night they listened to a lecture from the late Home Secretary, who told them what in his opinion was the main cause of the religious difficulty in connection with Elementary Schools. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would perhaps excuse him if he stated what, in the Government's opinion, was the main cause of the religious difficulty. He did not deny for a minute that there might be clergymen of the Church of England who went too far in trying to push the particular views they held, but they were few and far between. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and cheers.] The real difficulty, however, was the intolerance of that body known as political Nonconformists. ["Oh, oh!"] After an experience of 30 years he asserted unhesitatingly that, if any question connected with education came up, there was a considerable number of Nonconformists who could not look at it with an open mind or a single eye; they always regarded it from the point of view of how far it would affect the Church Establishment, and they were guided in their decision by the benefit or the injury it would do the Church of England. That had involved them in a series of most inconsistent and absurd positions. What could be more ridiculous than to pretend that distinctive religious instruction was contrary to their consciences and could not be allowed in a Christian country, when they gave that right to the Jews? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife asked what inherent right had a parent to demand distinctive religious instruction for his children. Why, the right hon. Gentleman was perhaps not aware that all the time he was at the Home Office he was administering Acts of Parliament in which that right existed! Side by side with our elementary education system had sprung up the industrial and the reformatory school system, and if a child who had committed a crime were sent to one of those school its parent had a right to demand for it distintive religious instruction. [Cheers.] Those schools were supported out of the rates. It was only when the parents of Christian children who were morally and physically healthy asked for that same privilege that hon. Gentlemen conscientiously refused it. [Cheers.] The views of the supporters of the Education Bill of 1870 corresponded with the views of those who were known as the Manchester school. They dominated our external financial and colonial policy, and much of our home policy. All that was changed and gone. They were a political party who were in decay. [Cheers and cries of "Oh!"] Would any hon. Member pretend to say that the views they held were relatively as strong in the House of Commons as they were 20 years ago? But there was one branch of legislation in which they still dogmatically asserted the supremacy of their principles, for they seemed to think that—although they knew they were in a minority—they had a right to dictate to the overwhelming mass of the people that they should not have the form of education they wanted. The Government had brought in a Bill which was conceived in a wide and comprehensive spirit—a Bill which was conceived in the interest of no party or creed—[loud cries of "Oh,"]—a Bill which they commended to the House from an administrative, an educational, and a religous point of view—a Bill which for the first time proposed to introduce the necessary elasticity into the system of national education. The Opposition intended to fight their proposals, and the battle on the Second Reading was only to be regarded as a preliminary skirmish. The Opposition had made their choice, and the Government accepted the challenge. [Cheers and counter cheers.] Small as the minority of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would be in the Division they were about to take, it would greatly overestimate the following which they had in the country. ["Hear, hear!" and "Oh oh!"] He predicted that any party whose policy was trust in the people, but who excluded the people from the management of their own children's education—a policy which was one of general toleration, but would not allow parents to have their children taught that religion they desired—was a policy which would meet with a crushing defeat even before the flag under which the party had chosen to fight was unfurled. [Loud cheers.]

Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.