That it is expedient—
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.),
who was cheered by the Opposition on rising, said: Sir, I make no apology for inviting the House at this stage to review the conclusions arrived at by the Committee and to decline to assent to the resolution in which those conclusions are embodied. Sir, we have throughout this matter maintained, I believe, a perfectly clear and absolutely consistent position from the first moment that the controversy originated. We are agreed that if it could be shown with regard to any integral factor of our national educational system the machine was being subjected to an undue strain, with the result that the work turned out was either deficient in quantity or quality, we would not be niggard nor ungenerous in making any provision from the public fund that might be necessary. ["Hear, hear"!] I say that, because to-night we are compelled to ask the House to negative this resolution. [Cheers.] We therefore might appear to be asserting that there is no class of the so-called Voluntary Schools which is in need of any further provision from Imperial funds. If we are compelled to take up that position the responsibility does not rest with us—it has been forced upon us by the method of procedure deliberately adopted and pressed upon us by the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. and learned Solicitor General the oilier night quoted from a speech I made in moving the rejection of last year's Bill a passage in which I asserted that, subject to reasonable and adequate safeguards, we were perfectly ready to consider a proposal for giving further public assistance to denominational schools. But if, as appears to be the case, the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to that passage for the purpose 1316 of showing that we are, receding from the position we took up, then I must at once correct that impression. I went on in the same speech to develop in detail what were the conditions and safe guards subject to which we were prepared to assent to this grant. There were several of them, but there were two in particular on which we laid then, as we lay to-day, a special stress. In the first place, we said, and we say now, that if public money is to be devoted to such a purpose it must be under such conditions as will secure its impartial distribution amongst all the necessitous claimants for it, and as will not disturb but will preserve the statutory equality which has hitherto existed between Voluntary and Board Schools. ["Hear, hear"!] The phrase "statutory equality" we owe to the Duke of Devonshire, but it has now apparently become a laughing-stock upon the Treasury Bench. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and after him the hon. and learned Solicitor General, sought to convict their colleagues of a fallacy, or, at any rate, of a misdescription. And why? Because, forsooth, the 97th section of the Education Act of 1870 enables a special and limited provision to be made in the cases of necessitous School Boards, and because out of the total expenditure of £7,000,000 per annum on national education it has only been taken advantage of to the extent of £40,000. That is the extent to which the statutory equality has been dislocated and disturbed. We are perfectly ready, if any distribution of this fund is to be made between the two classes of schools on the one side and the other, that it should be debited in the first instance with £40,000 as you did in the Bill of last year. There is another condition on which we insisted then and on which we insist now. It was that whatever money is granted must be granted under adequate security that it will be spent entirely and exclusively on the improvement of our educational system. ["Hear, hear!"] What is the position in which we stand to-night? We have here a Resolution in which we are asked to declare that Voluntary Schools as a class without any distinction of denomination, are entitled to further provision out of the 1317 public funds, and the right hon. Gentleman will not allow us to annex to that declaration any of those qualifying and limiting conditions which, in our judgment, were last year, and remain to-day essential to secure the just distribution of the fund and its exclusive appropriation to the maintenance or the elevation of our national education. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General told us the other night that when we talked of safeguards we ought to wait until we see the Bill. But the Bill cannot possibly contain them. ["Hear, hear!"] The Bill must be limited by the Resolution. ["Hear, hear!"] The same argument does not in terms apply to the Amendments put forward with reference to the other point—namely, to secure the exclusive application of the money to educational purposes. What treatment have these Amendments received? [Cheers.] My hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon proposed to insert the word "necessitous" in the Resolution. That Amendment received scant courtesy from the Government and was rejected by an overwhelming majority. [Ministerial cheers.] Hon. Members opposite applaud that statement. [Ministerial cheers.] My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland also put down an Amendment to the effect that the whole of this additional grant should be applied to the improvement of the teaching staff of the schools which would benefit by it, and he took the precaution to couch his Amendment in terms which he borrowed from the Bill of last year. What became of that Amendment?. It was not allowed to cross the threshold of Parliamentary discussion, as the right, hon. Gentleman moved the Closure. ["Hear, hear!"] I say, therefore, that if we are to-night compelled to deal with this Resolution from the point of view and attitude of simple negation, the cause is to be found in the procedure adopted by the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] Now I will come to close quarters with the Resolution. And the first and main ground on which I ask the House to decline to agree with the Resolution is this—that the money to be granted by this Resolution is to be applied, not to the equal and impartial relief of necessitous schools of all classes, but to preferential relief of a particular category 1318 of schools. [Cheers.] We are told that in the interests of Parliamentary time it is expedient to proceed in a matter of this kind by two Bills instead of one. That is an argument so transparently fallacious that it does not impose on anyone on either side of the House. ["Hear, hear!"] What do you do? You have two Bills instead of one in order to save Parliamentary time. What is the necessary result of that operation? It is that you are going to create injustice by one Bill in order to remove it by another. [Cheers.] And this you put forward as an economical expedient to save time and trouble and to avoid unnecessary friction in our controversies. If the Government have both objects in view—I mean the relief of the Voluntary and the relief of the necessitous Board Schools alike—it is obvious to the merest tyro in Parliamentary procedure that they ought to have prosecuted the attainment of both objects concurrently as part and parcel of a single integral scheme. [Cheers.] The only argument that could have been resorted to by the Government to displace the hypothesis which we are obliged to suggest to the House—namely, that, they do not attach equal weight to the two objects, and that while attaching more importance to the one they relegate the other to the uncertain hazards of a later period of the Session—is that it is necessary to pass the Bill before March 31 in order that the denominational schools shall not be deprived of the money which everyone is agreed they are entitled to. But that argument is gone. [Cheers.] The Government themselves do not pretend that it is necessary to pass the Bill by March 31, and it is obvious on the face of the Bill that it never was intended to come into operation by that time. [Cheers.] We have not yet had any adequate or even plausible explanation of the rise of the grant from 4s. last year to 5s. this year, except that the extra shilling was intended as some kind of compensation or solatium to the denominational schools for the postponed fulfilment of their long-deferred hopes. ["Hear, hear!"] I am glad it is frankly admitted by hon. Gentlemen opposite that that is the intention, as it certainly will be the effect, of carrying this Bill. [Cheers.] Now I come to my second and only other ground which I shall lay before the House for refusing to assent to 1319 this Resolution, and that is founded upon the method and machinery proposed for the distribution of this large sum of public money, a subject which, I think, has not yet been adequately discussed. ["Hear, hear!"] This purports to be a grant at the rate of 5s. a head per child to the denominational schools of the country. This 5s. per head, if it is intended to designate the measure of relief to be given to necessitous schools, is a misnomer, and, indeed, a fiction. The Government are not going and do not propose to give 5s. a head per child to the necessitous schools. I will show what it is proposed to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford, in the course of his interesting speech the other night—and I think we shall all agree that in the course of this Debate candid friendship has been more ebullient than party loyalty on that side of the House—["hear, hear!"]—referred to a school in his own constituency where, owing to the operation of the enlarged fee grant, as compared with the fees charged before 1891, and the maintenance of the subscriptions at their old level—
§ MR. ASQUITH
That strengthens the point. The case he put is not an isolated or exceptional, but a typical, case as regards a large number of denominational schools. This school, owing to the enlarged fee grant as compared with the fees charged before 1891, and to the maintenance of what I cannot help thinking is a very proper spirit which might be imitated in other parts—owing to the maintenance by subscribers of their old level of generosity this school is under no strain, but has got a large pecuniary surplus. That is the case of the whole of the Church Schools in the county of Kent, and, therefore, I quite agree it would have been an extravagant and unjustifiable thing if Her Majesty's Government had proposed to make this grant of 5s. all round. I want the House to realise how the 5s. conies in and where the 5s. goes out, because the 5s. is really a bogus sum. [Cheers.] The 5s. comes in in the form of a multiple. You take the whole number of children in average attendance. ["No, on the register."] I assume that, because the right hon. Gentleman is, I understand, going to say 1320 that is so. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "I have said so."] You take the whole number of children in average attendance in all the Voluntary Schools of the country, necessitous or otherwise, including the schools in Kent, where they have the large surplus—then cake the number of children in average attendance in every one of the Voluntary Schools, rich and poor alike, without any discrimination whatever, and you multiply it by 5s. and arrive at the sum of £616,000. What is the use of this nugatory and artificial process of multiplying by 5s. per head? Why cannot you say frankly at once, "We are going to give a lump sum of £616,000 to the denominational schools of the country "? For what possible purpose is the 5s. brought in except to give an appearance of moderation in the amount of the grant you are going to dispense? We come to the question of distribution. You have some £620,000 to distribute. You are going to distribute it among necessitous schools, and among those alone. Does it not follow as a plain arithmetical proposition that, inasmuch as the well-to-do schools which had been counted for the purpose of multiplying the 5s., are to be excluded from the operation of the grant, the average grant to be given to necessitous schools must by the process of absolute and inevitable logic very largely exceed 5s. a head. [Cheers.] Then do not let us hear anything more about the 5s. grant. A right hon. Friend reminds me that the sum will increase year by year although the necessities may diminish. Although the idyllic state of things which prevails in the county of Kent may become well-nigh universal, this sum is going on automatically increasing. The sum granted may become larger every year. There is to be no maximum and no minimum. If that is so, does it not become all the more necessary that we should scrutinise somewhat closely the machinery by which this process of unfettered and unlimited discretion is to be carried out. I ask attention to a point, which has hitherto almost escaped notice, in regard to the machinery to be brought into existence for the purpose of distributing the grants. The £620,000 is to be doled out in lump sums to associations—voluntary and irresponsible associations—[cheers]—to be apportioned at their discretion, tempered by the supervisory 1321 control of the Education Department. [Ministerial cheers.] I have not forgotten that that is the ideal which is to be aimed at. Some schools will, no doubt, be allowed to remain in independent isolation and deal directly with the Department, but an indirect and most effective instrument of coercion has been provided, because any school which in the opinion of the Education Department unreasonably abstains from entering into one of these voluntary associations is to forfeit the whole of the grant which it would otherwise have. You may have a school which has complied with all the conditions of the Code, which is in every way efficient as an educational agency, but because its managers do not choose, for some ground which the Department considers unreasonable, to join an association it is to forfeit its title to public money. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman the other night unfold this extraordinary and unprecedented proposal I could not help asking myself, What does Lord Salisbury think? We know what his opinion of Government Departments, and of the Education Department in particular, was during the most fruitful and beneficent administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham. [Cheers.] My right hon. Friend must now be somewhat amused to find that Archbishops and Bishops are tumbling over one another in their eagerness to give him certificates of character. [A laugh.] After being bespattered with clerical abuse he is now within measurable distance—if, indeed, he has not reached the point—of being synodically whitewashed. [Laughter and cheers.] Lord Salisbury spoke at Preston on the general question of the Departments at Whitehall, and of the Education Department in particular, and I want to quote to hon. Gentlemen opposite the language in which their Prime Minister and Leader described the Department which is to be the only safeguard as between an association on the one side and the taxpayers on the other for the proper distribution of this fund. He spoke of the Education Department as a despotic central department whose thoughts are wooden, whose system is red tape, and whose one hope is to reduce to perfect uniformity the actions of all under them into submission to conceptions which have been 1322 elaborated at Whitehall. He may think matters have changed for the better at Whitehall—["hear, hear!"]—under the mild and unobtrusive rule of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University. [Loud and prolonged ironical Opposition cheers.] I do not know, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council will not always be at Whitehall. [Cheers.] That provisional safeguard against the autocracy which Lord Salisbury describes in such scathing language must—I do not wish to anticipate the future—in the course of time be removed. We shall once more have to listen to the despotism which Lord Salisbury has characterised in the language which I read out a moment ago, and every school that prefers to its own independence absolute incorporation and mergence in these voluntary associations may, at the discretion of the Education Department, be entitled to a share in this grant. I am not, I need hardly say, using this argument by way of disparagement of the Education Department. Last year we fought the battle of the Education Department against Her Majesty's Government—["hear, hear!"]—and it was because we believed that the Education Pill of last year, by paralysing and crippling the energies of that Department in the sphere in which its energy and activity are legitimate and most useful, would have dealt a death-blow—well, at any rate, would have removed one of the most efficient safeguards for our national system of education—["hear, hear!"]—it was for that reason that we resisted it, and had behind us public opinion. [Cheers.] But you are seeking here to put on the Education Department functions which are not in the slightest degree analogous to those which it has hitherto discharged, and which it is totally out of the power of any public department properly to discharge. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Hart Dyke), who speaks with great experience, for be was several years at the head of the Education Department, has told us truly that the Department was in the habit of distributing large sums of public money every year to the primary schools in the country in the shape of grants, and asked, if they could trust them for that purpose, why could they not also trust them to distribute this money, or to hand it over 1323 to the associations? I say there is no analogy whatever as between the two cases. [Cheers.] The Education Department at present, in the distribution of the sum which is voted by Parliament every year as a grant in aid of elementary education, is subject to fixed rules which are embodied in the Code and in Acts of Parliament, and that Code is every year laid on the Table of the House and is subject to the direct control of Parliament. These tests are supplied by a body of inspectors appointed by the Education Department and responsible to it, and whose salaries are every year voted by this House out of the taxation of the country. ["Hear, hear!"] We have, therefore, in the distribution of the grant by the Education Department a function carefully safeguarded at every point by Parliamentary control, and into which it is impossible that abuses or shortcomings should enter without their being detected. But when you go and put the Education Department in the position of a kind of general superintendence with no defined powers or statutory functions—a general superintendence over a loose system of eleemosynary relief, which is to be carried out by means of voluntary associations which have no statutory authority and no responsibility to Parliament or the public—you are imposing on the Education Department a function which, however highly you may estimate its powers, neither it nor any other public department is fitted to discharge. [Cheers.] The result is that when you come to analyse the method and machinery by which these sums are to be distributed, you will find that that grant—not merely to be voted out of the taxation of the present year as an experiment or a temporary dole, but to be placed on the Statute Book as a permanent charge on the Consolidated Fund of the country—I say we have none of those securities which, in the interests of our constituents, we have a right and it is our duty to demand. It ought to be subject to Parliamentary control, and the money in its application ought not to be frittered away in favouritism and jobbery. [Cheers.] I have now said all that I have to say. I have not endeavoured to exhaust the ground or to direct the attention of the House to points which have already been exhaustively discussed. But I will say in 1324 conclusion, as I did at the beginning, that we take our stand for our resistance to this resolution, not upon any unwillingness to make good the admitted deficiencies of our educational system, whether they exist in the Voluntary or the Board Schools, but on the fact that this Resolution introduces a principle of invidious discrimination entirely opposed to the statutory equality which has hitherto prevailed, and provides methods and machinery that afford no adequate security that the intentions of the Legislature shall be carried out, and that the money of the taxpayers shall not be irremediably squandered. [Loud cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is certainly not the least ingenious debater amongst the most distinguished debaters which this House at present possesses. ["Hear, hear!"] But even his ingenuity was somewhat put to it to explain to the House why it was that, while he approved of a grant being given to necessitous schools, he was, nevertheless, going to vote against the Resolution, the passing of which he admits to be necessary in order that such benefit may be conferred. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman repeated and emphasised the statement he made last year to the effect that, in his judgment, Voluntary Schools required relief, ought to have relief, and that that relief should come out of the Imperial Exchequer. We bring in a, Bill which gives necessitous schools relief out of the Imperial Exchequer, and the first step the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends takes it to go into the Lobby in the hope of defeating, if they can, the Measure that they have admitted to be necessary, and without which their object cannot be carried out. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman says he will not have this Bill, because it does not go far enough. He objects to an instalment because he cannot get all he desires. ["Hear, hear!"] That is not politics; that is not statesmanship. [Cheers.] That is simply the exercise of an ingenuity on the part of an Opposition who are determined to thwart the Government in all their proceedings by the best means in their power. ["Hear, hear!"] If these means are not very effective, if the reasons by which they are supported must seem to 1325 be inconclusive, that is due not to the exposition which the right hon. Gentleman has just given, but to the difficulty of the case. Before I come to that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which dealt with the subsequent provisions for which this Bill is the preparation, I shall say a word, and only a word, upon what may be called some of the subsidiary questions in controversy which have been brought incidentally to our notice in the course of these Debates. In the first place the right hon. Gentleman has followed the speeches on that bench in thinking, if not positively asserting, that in bringing forward this Resolution as we have brought it forward, and in wording it as we have worded it, we have been guilty of some too clever trick by which legitimate Parliamentary criticism may be obviated. Sir, the man who makes that accusation in good faith—and I do not doubt the good faith of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—is cither totally ignorant of, or has totally forgotten, the methods and traditions of the procedure of the House in eases like this. ["Hear, hear!"] As far as I am concerned I frankly tell the House I have always thought that this practice sanctioned by immemorial usage of introducing money Bills into Committee of the whole House, belongs to an ancient and, I think, a somewhat outworn portion of our Constitution, and might well be dispensed with—["hear, hear!"]—and nobody, so far as this particular case is concerned, would be more glad to have it dispensed with than I myself. ["Hear, hear!"] A whole Parliamentary week has been spent in the discussion. ["No, no!"] Well, four days—the best part of a Parliamentary week—which, but for these Resolutions, we should never have required to occupy at all, have been expended on this stage. When it is suggested by right, hon. Gentlemen opposite that I have departed from all Parliamentary practice and traditions for the solitary purpose of preventing them from introducing an Amendment, of which they gave me no notice before, it seems to me that they are charging the Government with refusing a demand which no Opposition has ever made before on any Government. [Cheers.] Are you to depart from every well-established rule for the solitary purpose of enabling unnecessary discussion to be indulged in by any Gentleman who 1326 wishes to do so? Our procedure on money Bills is settled by long tradition, from which we have not departed by a hair's breadth. The terms of this Resolution are settled by the officers of the House, over whom we exercise no control, and if there has been any inconvenience the fault lies with the methods of the House, and not with any peculiar use of those methods adopted on this occasion by Her Majesty's Government. So much for the form of the Resolution. With regard to the other subsidiary points that have been raised we have been told—I am especially told—that I have shown vacillation and inconsistency in the course I have pursued with regard to this matter. It so happens that in this particular case there has absolutely not been a shadow or shade of turning from the time when the Bill of last year was dropped till the time when the Bill of this year was introduced. Anybody who takes the trouble—I do not advise them to do it—to read the speeches which I have made upon the topic—I think, so far as I remember, there have only been three—one in the House when announcing the withdrawal of last year's Rill, another shortly afterwards in St. James's Hall, and the third at Rochdale in the autumn, will see quite clearly these two things. In the first place, that the only pledge, either in letter or in spirit, which I gave was that the Voluntary Schools should not suffer by the dropping of the Bill of last year; and, in the second place, that the Government were resolved not to weight this Measure for the relief of Voluntary Schools by adding to it extraneous provisions regarding other matters, however important or however excellent. ["Hear, hear!"] That may have been a wrong decision—I am coining to the question of substance before I sit down—but with regard to the question of consistency it has been my view throughout, the view I held last June, the view which I still hold, and the view which I believe best both for Voluntary Schools, the procedure of this House, and, I will add, for necessitous Board Schools. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that if Voluntary Schools ought to have 5s., why did not you give them 5s. last year, and if they ought to have only 4s., why do you give them 5s. this year; and he asked, "Is this not merely a dole 1327 and a sop to condole them for not getting the Bill before March 31?" Many Gentlemen in this House, no doubt, speak of the liabilities thrown upon the Exchequer with a happy irresponsibility, and I think one very excellent Friend of mine made a speech in this Debate in which he airily suggested that the whole cost of the education of all the children in all schools, Board and Voluntary, should be thrown on the Exchequer. That is a plan for which much may be said, but it is one which no Chancellor of the Exchequer is likely to look on with any great favour. But among those irresponsible expenders of public money, surely the right hon. Gentleman opposite ought not to be one. He has been a Member, and will, no doubt, again be one of the most important Members in an Administration responsible for the public purse, and he must know that the amount which the Exchequer gives to an object is not always, perhaps is not usually, simply and solely determined by the value of the object, but is largely determined, and must always be largely determined, even if this country was twice as rich as it is now, by the resources of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has to give it. If that simple proposition be accepted, as I think it must be, the House will see that neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor I were in a position last June, nor until many months after last June, to say that we were in a position to promise an increased grant to Voluntary Schools. No doubt that uncertainty did carry a corresponding uncertainty into the exact form which this Bill should take, and the exact Parliamentary procedure that should be adopted in connection with it. When I knew that my right hon. Friend could give me the 5s.—which is not, in my judgment, one bit too much for the necessities of the case—[cheers]—many competent persons say it is too little for the necessities of the case—[cheers]—I confess I dismissed from my mind all anxiety as to the precise moment at which the Bill should become law, for I felt that the pledge given by the Government was not only redeemed, but amply redeemed, by the Bill we are introducing now. Let me add this, that, though it is not absolutely necessary that this Bill should become law by a particular hour or a particular day, it is of the utmost 1328 necessity that the Bill should become law soon—[cheers]—and that not merely in connection with the general programme of Government business—though in that connection its speedy passage is important—but also in connection with the Voluntary Schools which it is intended to assist. That machinery, so unjustly attacked by the right hon. Gentleman, by which we hope to make this money go as far as possible to help the necessitous portion of the Voluntary Schools, is not machinery that you can set up at a moment's notice. It must, in the nature of the case, take time, and as it is desirable that the money should be given to the Voluntary Schools as soon as possible, so it is eminently desirable that we should without a moment's unnecessary delay pass this Bill into law as it stands and make all preparations which are absolutely essential before the money which we design for these Voluntary Schools can be distributed among them to the best advantage. [Cheers.] I am bound to say that I think some of my old Friends have shown considerable innocence of mind in the manner in which they have received the criticisms of the other side with regard to this date of March 31. I think, if they will consider the matter, they will see that the irritation shown by Gentlemen opposite at the announcement that it was not absolutely vital, however desirable, to pass the Bill by that date was a disappointment not born of any regard for Voluntary Schools, but was simply and solely the disappointment of foiled Parliamentary tacticians. [Laughter and cheers.] I have not a doubt that they have been hugging to themselves all the autumn and in the early part of this present Session the thought that, by dint of those arts of which they are past masters, the Government might be driven over the fatal day or else might be compelled, in order to get it through by the fatal clay, to adopt those methods which we have always done our best to avoid—[Opposition cries of "Oh!"and Ministerial cheers]—and which I have not the slightest doubt they would be delighted to see us practice. Let my hon. Friends remember that, on a question of Parliamentary tactics, what disappoints the Opposition should be hailed with pleasure by us—["hear, hear!"]—and no better proof of the wisdom of the 1329 course the Government has pursued—I am talking purely from the tactical point of view—will be found than the ill-concealed bitterness of the disappointment of hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Cheers.] I pass from the attacks of the right hon. Gentleman upon these extraneous and subsidiary matters to his criticism upon the substance of the Resolution itself and of the Bill to which it is preparatory. I will begin by dealing with his criticism upon the 5s. grant. I confess that when I heard him, after 48 hours' cool reflection, repeat again on Thursday the criticism which he made late on Tuesday, I listened to him with great surprise. He characterised it on Tuesday as something in the nature of fraud—or, at all events, deception. To-night he said it was a bogus 5s.Wouldn't it," he said, "have been much simpler and much better to take your £620,000 or whatever it is, and distribute it as a fixed sum among the necessitous Voluntary Schools?Surely the right hon. Gentleman is capable of seeing that it was a far better plan, when you are passing a Bill of this kind, so to fix the Parliamentary contribution as that it shall have some relation to the needs of that for which Parliament contributes it. [Opposition cheers.] It is perfectly true that no conceivable system can be adjusted with absolute accuracy to any such purpose. It is perfectly conceivable that the needs of the Voluntary Schools instead of increasing or remaining stationary, in accordance with the number of children in the schools, may become less. Surely we may take it broadly that, if we can take a certain sum of money and distribute it at a rate which varies with the number of children in Voluntary Schools we are adopting a system far more elastic, far more adjustable to the varying needs of Voluntary Schools than any method of a fixed sum which could be introduced in to a permanent till. ["Hear, hear!"] The number of children in Voluntary Schools has increased by 30,000, I think, since last year. It may increase, for anything I know to the contrary, by 20,000 next year. If you gave a fixed sum, if you put in a fixed and immovable sum, there is every probability that while the needs of the Voluntary Schools increase the amount given to those needs would be relatively diminished. Supposing the 1330 ill-concealed wishes of hon. Gentlemen were fulfilled and the Voluntary Schools were squeezed out of existence and universal School Boards took their place It is manifest that, with your fixed sum in your till, there would be a great deal more money than would be required to meet the necessities of the case. I believe the actual method adopted by the Government, described by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as fraudulent on Tuesday and bogus on Thursday, is the simplest, the easiest, and the most obvious method by which the results desired can be attained. ["Hear, hear!"] I am convinced that the more the matter is considered—and, no doubt, it will receive consideration in Committee on the Bill—whatever other criticism may be passed on our scheme, that criticism at all events, is one which has very small foundation. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman went on to attack in detail our plan of associated schools. That plan was stated by me on Monday because I thought the House had better know the general bearing of the scheme proposed. But I must point out that in reality it does not come within the terms of the Resolution. I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman opposite was out of order in alluding to it, but it is really a question of machinery, and the proper time to discuss it is not when we are discussing the Resolution, but when we have the Bill before us and the machinery is there laid out in sight of all men, and it can be dealt with either generally or in detail. But the right hon. Gentleman has made an attack on the machinery of the Bill, and I do not want his speech to go forth without some reply. I could not quite make out what the general view of the right hon. Gentleman was, for it appeared to me that he was labouring to establish two mutually destructive propositions. When he wanted to attack the association he seemed to think that responsibility should be left to the Department, and when he wanted to attack the Department he said:—How is it possible for the Department to hear this heavy load on its already over-weighted shoulders?Now, I am the last person to deny that the Bill does throw responsibility on the Department, and I will say further that 1331 if the Department had to consider the claim of every Voluntary School from one end of the country to the other, adjusting their mutual demands and satisfying their respective needs, the burden would be no doubt—I will not say more onerous than it could bear—but it would strain the machine very nearly to breaking point. What is the proper remedy? The remedy we have adopted—namely, to give every facility and every encouragement for the formation of these voluntary associations, by which association much valuable time will be saved, not only to Voluntary Schools composing the association, but to the Department responsible for the distribution of the grant among the associations. Let me repeat here in connection with association what I said on Monday—that it is inconceivable that the interests of the association and of the Department should not be identical. The association will have no other object than to keep the schools in existence and efficient, and that also is the object of the Department; therefore you are not calling into existence a body antagonistic to the Department; you are not cheating difficulties that may hamper the Department; you are calling into existence an association of persons every one of whose desires and interests fall into line with the general policy of the Bill. Association, whatever else it may do—and I hope it will do much for the schools—will give to the Department the advantage of advisers of the most disinterested character as to the needs of schools within their scope. I believe, therefore, as I said the other day, that the association part of the Bill, however much it may be attacked, is a part of the scheme from which I hope almost more than from any other part of it; and I trust that those who have to vote on the different stages of the Bill, will look to this part of the Bill with special care and impartiality; and I am convinced they will think that the Government have come to a wise conclusion in this matter, and that we ought to do everything we can where there is no Party involved to force schools into association, from which operation so much is to be hoped in the cause of both secular and religious education throughout the country. ["Hear, hear!"] I think there only remains, so far as I remember, to discuss in the 1332 speech of the right hon. Gentleman a theme he, following his predecessor, has developed at great length—I mean the comparative treatment of Board Schools and Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Gentleman fell foul of us on this Bench for saying there was no statutory equality between the schools in any sense relevant to this Debate before us. There is, of course, statutory equality between all public elementary schools with regard to distribution of grant, but there is not now, and there never has been since 1870, any other statutory equality whatever. [Cheers.] As my learned Friend pointed out on Tuesday, the very fact that one set of schools can and another set cannot draw on the purse of the ratepayers is in itself a distinction so far-reaching, so vital, that the idea of describing schools rate-aided and schools not rate-aided as being on an equality is really absolutely ludicrous. ["Hear, hear!"] That is not all; I have been taken to task by the late head of the Education Department, by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke to-night, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, by pointing out that Section 49 of the Act itself is absolutely inconsistent with the idea of statutory equality. All they can say or all they do say is "What you give under Section 97 to Board Schools is not a large amount." No, nor is it; but when you are discussing statutory equality what has the amount to do with the question? You have, as a matter of fact, had in existence ever since the passing of the Act of 1870 a clause by which poor Board Schools and Board Schools alone are assisted. You have submitted patiently to this inequality for 26 years, and yet you now utter these loud cries of indignation because, forsooth, we defer until the Voluntary School scheme is passed, a scheme dealing with poor Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] I cannot follow that reasoning at all. I may mention, in connection with the magnitude of the sum, it is a current fact that probably owing to our Bill of last year, and the attention called to Section 97 of the Act of 1870, the amount applied for and given to poor School Boards has doubled since last year. ["Hear, hear!"] A curious fact, showing that, at all events, Board Schools are alive to the circumstances and that they are not 1333 treated with statutory equality as compared with poor Voluntary Schools. There is another point clearly brought out in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman by anybody who takes the trouble to compare it with other speeches from that side, and notably with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Sir H. Fowler). Whenever Gentlemen opposite wish to embarrass Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, who desire generally to relieve all poor schools, Board or Voluntary, they dwell solely on the fact that the Bill does not touch poor Board Schools; but when they deal with the broad question, then it appears—it appears, at least from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Fowler)—that what they want is not equal treatment of poor schools, but equal treatment for all schools. [Opposition cheers.] Now upon what leg are you going to rest? [Ministerial cheers.] Which is the real policy of the Opposition? [Cheers.] Who speaks the voice of right hon. Gentlemen opposite—the Member for East Fife or the Member for Northampton? ["Hear, hear!"] The Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) says his view is you should give where necessity is shown to exist. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Fowler) throws necessity absolutely on one side, and says—and many fragments of the speech of the late Minister for Education were in the same sense—that every public elementary school, be it Voluntary or be it Board School, be it rich or be it poor, be it in a state of destitution or be its coffers overflowing with money, all should be treated alike and treated in the same relation to an equal law; if you give 5s. to one you must give 5s. all through. That I admit is not the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, but it was of many hon. Gentlemen who have spoken from the other side. It is vain for them to pretend that they have one single policy on the subject, when from voices of equal authority we have two views put forward of what ought to be done, irreconcilable and inconsistent. [Cheers.] I am unable to imagine a more scandalous waste of public money than that which would be involved in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Fowler). Knowing as we all know that 1334 the resources of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are not illimitable, knowing as we all know that schools, whether Board or Voluntary, which require assistance are very numerous, surely it would be a most scandalous misappropriation of public funds if we were to pursue that equal treatment which alternately with other policies animates the speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am unable to understand how they can come before the House as a united Party with a united policy, or defend a policy which has found so much support among their ranks. The right hon. Gentleman is of opinion that it would be altogether shocking to deal with the question of poor Voluntary Schools until you accept a Measure dealing with poor Board Schools. That is his policy, but it is not the policy of all his followers. Of course, I admit there is great analogy from some points of view between poor Board Schools and poor Voluntary Schools. I admit also, and I have always admitted, and I may say we are the first Government that ever did admit since 1870 that poor Board Schools ought to have relief. But, while there are fundamental resemblances between the two cases, there are also not unimportant divergencies. In the first place, I do not think the same machinery can be made to apply to the two cases. In the Bill of last year there was an attempt to do it, and not, I think, on the whole successful. When we propose, as I hope we shall, a Measure for poor Board Schools, of course it will not be on the lines of our Bill for poor Voluntary Schools, because association would have no place in the machinery of the one, while it is absolutely essential to the machinery of the other. ["Hear, hear!"] In the second place let me point out this—it is perhaps a small matter, but one not to be lost sight of—while the Government are pledged, and while our Party is pledged, and has been pledged ever since the General Election, to deal with poor Voluntary Schools, the question of poor Board Schools never came up in general discussion until we attempted to deal with it last year. While the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Acland) pursued that distinguished career at the Education Department which brought on his head the blessings of the Bishop of Chester, 1335 I never heard that the right hon. Member for Rotherham ever suggested during the last two years to his colleagues or to the House that anything whatever should be done for the poor Board Schools. [Cheers.] I believe you might hunt through the election speeches and addresses of hon. Gentlemen of this House, and, except in the special cases of one or two districts like West Ham, I do not believe you will find one single speech or address, until we brought in our Bill of last year, in which the subject of poor Board Schools is so much as alluded to. [Cheers.] But there is a third point in this connection which I think ought not to be lost sight of. In so far as our grant is what I may call an eleemosynary grant, I hold all who have equal needs should be equally assisted. [Cheers.] Let it be observed, when you are dealing with the case of Voluntary Schools, there is something over and above the eleemosynary aspect which has to be considered. I am not going to repeat, even if it only be in summary, the fact that, in my view, one great justification of this Bill, one of the greatest necessities which make it urgent to deal with this problem, is that the Act of 1870 can only be maintained and is only tolerable if and so long as it gives room within its limits both for the Board and the Voluntary system. [Cheers.] There is, therefore, underlying this Bill an even larger and deeper question of principle than is involved in the treatment of poor Board Schools. I, at all events, consider myself as contributing, to the best of my ability, to keep up a system which I grant is fettered with many difficulties and which is absolutely doomed to destruction, in my judgment, if you allow the Voluntary part of our educational system to go down. That, in my judgment, would be the greatest blow which this country could receive from the point of view of those who, like myself, believe in denominational teaching; but it would be a not less blow, believe me, to those who, like hon. Gentlemen opposite, regard it as an accursed thing. [Cries of "No!"] Well, regard it as a thing so abominable that you may refuse to pay rates lest it should be carried out; a thing so abominable that you would be justified in breaking the law rather than see it carried into effect—that formulae should be taught in Board Schools. Many have threatened 1336 to go to prison rather than pay for the support of schools in which formulae are taught. I say that that part of the system which they cherish and which establishes undenominational Board Schools—the destruction of that system must follow the destruction, in my opinion, of the denominational Voluntary system in this country, and it is in the interest of Board and Voluntary Schools that this Bill is brought forward by Her Majesty's Government. [Cheers.] Therefore we have justification in this Bill going down to the very root of our educational system, and of even greater importance than those eleemosynary considerations which rightly animate us in our desire to assist poor Board Schools. The House will perceive that by rising, as I have done, immediately after the right hon. Gentleman, I have deprived myself of the luxury to which I confess I had looked forward, of speaking after the Leader of the Opposition at a later stage of the Debate. He will be able to explain, therefore, without power of reply on my part, what his view really is now with regard to the relief of ratepayers. [Sir W. HARCOURT made an observation which was inaudible in the Gallery.] Are not we to have the right hon. Gentleman's explanation? This is indeed a cruel disappointment. [Laughter.] If he and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches are going to vote against us tonight, it is, as I understand from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, not because they object to help Voluntary Schools, but because they think it is so important to help the ratepayers of poor School Board districts that that object must be associated with the other object. I really am interested to know, and it is very important we should know, when this process of silent conversion took place in the right hon. Gentleman's mind. [Laughter and cheers.] His last speech explaining that all relief to the ratepayer was a dole to the landlord—[laughter]—was made, I think, in November. His first speech on the subject was that in which he explained that a Bill which had given these doles to the landlords ought not to be considered by this House. His first speech in the other direction was delivered by way of an interjection, I think, or, at any any rate, briefly delivered on the Address this year. That is to say, 1337 on January 19—a short space in which to make the curve, even by a most practised hand. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman, I have not the least doubt, will explain to us to-night that the unsuccessful election—unsuccessful from our point of view—is due to the country awakening to the fact that we are treating Voluntary Schools with a preference which we do not give to Board Schools. [Opposition cheers.] The country was invoked in even' speech of the right hon. Gentleman last year as holding with the conviction of which we should only understand the strength when the time of a General Election came near—with an unalterable conviction—that everything you gave to the ratepayer was a disguised, and scarcely disguised, gift to the landlord. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman is, perhaps, capable of holding these two contradictory doctrines at the same time, but surely the country is not so capable. [Laughter.] I should very much like to know whether the election to which I have referred was due to the recollection by the voters of the speeches which he made last year, or the anticipation by the voters of the speeches he is going to make this year? [Laughter.] It is really a matter of more than personal curiosity on my part. I admit the personal curiosity exists, but I think it is really a subject of some public moment to know whether the Party who cheered the right hon. Gentleman when he made and repeated his speeches last year on this subject were sincere in their convictions? [Cheers.] If they were sincere then, we should like to know whether they have altered their convictions, or if the convictions—exactly opposite convictions—which they now express are as sincere as those which they gave vent to last year. [Cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Apparently it is right to relieve the landlord when the subject of relief is education, but it is not right to relieve the landlord when the subject of relief is the Poor Law—a doctrine of deep mystery, which it will require all the right 1338 hon. Gentleman's ingenuity, and all the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman the late Minister of Education to deal with when he replies to-night, as we are told he is going to. I have now, I think, kept the House sufficiently long, and have really traversed all the ground with which it is necessary to deal. I have, I hope, shown, in the first place, that the course of the Government has from first to last, ever since the dropping of the Bill of last year, been perfectly consistent. [Cheers.] I have shown, I hope, that there is no ground for thinking that Voluntary Schools have any reason to complain because we have found a method of dealing with this subject which does not give our opponents the Parliamentary advantage which a fixed date always does give to an ingenious Opposition. ["Hear, hear!"] I think I have also shown that the method of distribution to which the right hon. Gentleman objects is one which it is absolutely necessary we should adopt if the full benefit is to be extracted from this Measure; and, in the fourth place, I have shown that, pressing as the necessities of the poor School Board districts undoubtedly are, and anxious as we equally undoubtedly are to deal with them, the question of the Voluntary Schools has always been regarded as a separate question, and there are reasons why it still should be regarded as a separate question. ["Hear, hear!"] Finally, I have put a question to the Opposition, which I think demands an answer—namely, how it comes about that relief of the rates is legitimate when you are dealing with education, but illegitimate, monstrous, and mischievous class legislation when you are dealing with other rates? [Cheers.] These four propositions cover, I think, the whole field of Debate upon this Measure, and I hope, as I have attempted to deal with them fully, fairly, and candidly, that those who think we are not wrong in endeavouring to do our best, with the utmost speed, to help the Voluntary Schools, will give us at this stage, and all other stages of this Bill, that support which will not only insure its becoming law, but insure its becoming law at the earliest possible date. [Cheers.]
§ MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddington)
observed that the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had referred to the accusations which had been brought 1339 against him of vacillation. They on that side had never made such an accusation which, on the contrary, came from the great organs of the Unionist Party. The Times, the Morning Post, and the Standard had poured forth their diatribes morning after morning, calling for greater firmness on the part of the Government, under penalty of their supporters deserting them. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the criticisms that had been made as criticisms which, to impartial auditors, would be singularly inconclusive. Who were they who had made these criticisms? They were the followers of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not believe the objections of hon. Members on that side were more root and branch objections than some which had been brought forward from the other side. But at least they were objections that stood on their own footing. He did not wonder at the extent to which the Resolution had been debated. It proposed to take not a sum of money voted as part of the Estimates for a single year, but it was intended to be the foundation of a Bill which, if passed into law, could not be repealed without the consent of the House of Lords, and would impose on the Exchequer of the country a charge of £618,000 a year. That was equivalent to between twenty and thirty millions of National Debt. If on that side they were disposed to closely scrutinise the proposals for the application of this vast sum, surely it was not to be wondered at. With such a sum they could give to England such a provision for secondary education as existed in Scotland and, perhaps a better one, also the foundations of University education; it could be applied to the improvement even of the entire system of primary education in England. He should not have complained if the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury had been simply to relieve necessitous schools all round, or if its application was to inure equally to the benefit of the two classes of necessitous schools, Voluntary and Board. He should not have complained if the proposal of the Government had been for the relief of Voluntary education generally. They came to the consideration of the matter in a freer spirit than used to be the case. They had left behind the days when the education controversy was simply one between Church and chapel. But there 1340 was one condition to which any proposal to establish an addition to the provision which already exists for education must be subject, efficiency in the kind of education provided must be the first thing looked at. When he remembered that this was a proposal to assist Voluntary Schools to carry out the lines of education that already existed, upon which Voluntary education was founded, that it was looked at askance by the whole teaching community, he could not help looking upon it with suspicion. The Government seemed to be very near interfering with the settlement of 1870. They were principles which should be carefully kept in mind in approaching the consideration of this Resolution. When Mr. Gladstone's Government in 1870 brought in the Elementary Education Act of that year, they allowed three months to elapse between the Second Reading and the Committee stage, that the Bill might receive full consideration in the county. The main feature of the settlement of 1870 was that there should be compulsory education out of the rates, and under popular control. In those days they would not have dared to propose that there should be aid out of the rates without popular control. What was the policy of the next Government that had to deal with education. The Education Act of 1870 was founded on the strict observance by the Government of the day of what Liberal Members believed to be the foundation of the system. When the Minister of the Crown responsible brought in the Bill he said:—The House would agree that it would be hazardous for any Government to attempt to reverse the policy which had received the formal approval of the country unless they had the strongest evidence that the national policy had undergone a great change. Now that the franchise had been lowered it would be most unwise to allow people to believe that there would be a general reversal of policy whenever there was a change of Government.What chance had the present Government given the country of considering their education proposals? They were not foreshadowed or talked of at the time of the General Election, nor had the Government followed the course adopted in 1870 of allowing a large interval to elapse between the earlier and later stages of the Bill that the country might form an opinion upon it. Their 1341 Bill seemed, in its essential features, to be inconsistent with and going back upon the Bill of 1870, and it had not received adequate consideration by those interested. In that Debate several interesting things had been made clear. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said any surplus in connection with the Bill would go to the reduction of the National Debt. The 31st March was not essential to the passing of the Bill, and the Bill was brought forward for next year and subsequent years. Then they knew that the 5s. to be allocated was not for necessitous schools, but is to be raised for the whole of the children in the Voluntary Schools, to be applied at the discretion of the Association of Voluntary Schools. This money might be used in a rather startling manner. It would be possible, according to this mode of allocation, to pay the whole cost of the upkeep of certain schools out of the money so raised. A school had first to declare itself necessitous, and the scheme of the Government would leave the question to the district association to apply the funds under its control in paying the whole cost of the maintenance of that Voluntary School. If in 1870 anyone had suggested that the whole cost of a Voluntary School should be defrayed out of Imperial taxes the Parties would have been astonished at the departure their successors were taking, without appearing to realise that it was a remarkable departure from the principles of the settlement of 1870. This being the general character of the proposals of the Government why did they not let the House have some inkling of what was to be the rest of their scheme. Why did they not bring forward their scheme for aiding necessitous schools in a form which would enable them to judge of their educational proposals as a whole. There would be no difficulty in bringing in two Resolutions, and they need not be brought in at the same time. He agreed entirely in the criticism of The Times that—it is essential to the advocates of their (the Government's) proposals that they should be what we know they are not, proposals meant to deal with the surplus of the existing year.The Government were going to put a very large sum of money for ever in the hands of these associations, which were to advise the Education Department. He expected 1342 that the advice of the associations would guide the Department much as the advice of Her Majesty's Ministers guided Her Majesty in connection with the laws which she was supposed to enact. It was impossible for the Department to look into all matters itself, and it would not do so. If the Government really desired to assist Denominational Schools in some fashion which should be consistent with the manner in which this question had been dealt with for the last 25 years, why did they not adopt some other plan? Reference had more than once been made to Scotland, where there was Denominational education. It was true that Denominational teaching was given in Scottish schools, and that for Scotland there was no clause analogous to the Cowper-Temple Clause. But it was also true that the whole of that education was given under the control of the ratepayers. There was no school which received any large amount of State aid which was not under the direct control of a School Board. The School Board system was universal. If the Governmeant meant what they said about Denominational education, why did they not try that Scottish system which they were always invoking? [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"] Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that now, at the eleventh hour, he was prepared to put the assistance which was to be given to the Board Schools under the control of the representatives of the localities? He confessed that if the right hon. Member had adopted the Scottish system with its universal control over the schools, with the ratepayers electing their School Board in every parish and carefully controlling the Denominational education that was given, he for one would have approached the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals in a very different spirit. The Denominational system in Scotland did not work badly. What he and his Friends contended for was that the interests of education should be put first, whether there were Denominational Schools or not, and what they protested against was that church or chapel should be able to dominate the school, as if the school existed for the sake of the church or chapel, instead of for the purpose of education. If the Government would make it clear that 1343 school education must be the first consideration, and that the judges in the matter must not be the Clergy but the public concerned in the various localities, he should approach the consideration of the question in a very different way. They did not desire in Scotland to enlarge the power of the Clergy. They did not wish the Clergy to have a greater part than they had now in the management of schools, and they looked with a very cold eye upon a proposal to set aside a large sum out of taxes which were contributed by Scotland as well as England, for the purpose of setting up a system which was contrary to their principles. Not the least discovery which the Scottish Members had made in the course of that discussion was that mere was to be no equivalent grant to Scotland. When this enormous sum of £618,000 a year was to be given to English schools in perpetuity, surely Scotland and Ireland deserved some consideration. Hitherto, as far as he was aware, whenever money had been allocated by the Government for education, the doctrine of equivalence had been in principle adhered to. But now, not only were they told that there was to be no recognition of that principle, but such comfort as was offered to them was given in a form in which it did not benefit them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Government meant to do something for primary education in Scotland, but the Scottish Members did not desire that the money which Scotland was to have should be spent on primary education; for Scottish primary education was in a condition in which it did not require further subsidies. When last year the Government gave Scotland the equivalent grants for—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is entitled to use the argument that he objects to this Vote, because nothing has been said about an equivalent grant for Scotland, but he cannot go beyond that.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the strong objection which he, as a. Scotch Member, had to this Resolution, was that there was no equivalent grant, and that the only promise which had been held out to them was a promise to do something for elementary education, which they did not want. They had their own views with regard to secondary education, but those views the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1344 knocked on the head. He supposed that Scotland was a country which the Government did not care much to consider. The Government was not representative of Scotland. He was not aware that the Tory Party had ever had a majority in Scotland, and there was no sign at present that Scotland intended to form a new Conservative alliance. He took it, therefore, that they had little to expect on that occasion. Not only as a Scotch Member, but as one who was keenly interested in the educational system of this country, he deplored the course upon which the Government were entering. There were other alternatives open to them, alternatives which would not have shaken the compact which was come to in 1870, and from which Lord Sandon, in 1876, intimated it was not the intention of the Tory Party to depart. The Government might carry this Bill, but they would not carry public opinion with them. They were advocating a course for which they obtained no authority at the last General Election, and for which, if one might judge from the most recent elections, they had no authority from the country to-day. Let them take warning from the fate of some of their predecessors. In 1868 Mr. Gladstone came into power with a magnificent majority. The compromise which he effected in 1870 enabled him to carry his Bill, but in the end he wrecked his Government. There was nothing that sapped and destroyed the strength of an administration so much as tampering with the principles of the people upon the subject of education. In the interests of peace now and hereafter, for the sake of avoiding bitter strife and pain, he urged the Government to follow the advice of some of their own supporters, and to bring forward, whilst it was not yet too late, their education scheme in a form which would render it possible for the House to judge of it as a whole.
§ COLONEL R. WILLIAMS (Dorset, W.)
said that there was a fallacy underlying all the greater portion of the discussion, and that was the treatment of this Motion as if it dealt with education (whether given in Board or Voluntary Schools), and was not rather an attempt to apportion fairly the cost of that education. Until 1870, the national contribution to education was given by payment for results, which was all that the State 1345 did as such. All school buildings and appliances were left to be provided by those who would, and the friends of religious education practically did all that was required. But in 1870 the nation awoke to the fact that education was some thing which concerned everybody, ant ought not to be left, as it was, to a section of the nation only—namely, to those keenly interested in teaching religion—and it was to bring home that responsibility to all that the Board system was established among us. By a compromise which he for one much regretted, and the result of which he thought was not foreseen, the religious teaching in those schools was made entirely undenominational; and, there-fore, the support of the Voluntary system became the bounden duty of those who believed in denominational teaching. He did for one, and he believed that everyone in his heart to whom his religion was a reality, believed in denominational teaching, and the real secret of the cry for undenominational teaching was a fear that they should be taught anything else. Then why not give the parents the right to choose the religion of their own children? The friends of definite religious education had supported their Voluntary Schools. They had been content to do so, realising that was the price they had to pay for the privilege of having their children taught what they themselves believed. But since 1870 the conception of what education ought to be had grown enormously, and rightly, and with that increased conception the cost of education had also very largely increased and rightly grown, an I no one who knew imputed to friends of Voluntary Schools any diminution in zeal or any want of knowledge of the real problems of education. Very much the contrary. In 1870 there were four sources of income—namely, school fees, Government grant, the rates, and voluntary subscriptions. The school fees had been practically swept away; the Government grant, the rates, and the subscriptions alone remained. The Government grant was paid, as earned, to all schools alike, but the rates and subscriptions came out of the pockets of the people; rates from those in School Board districts, subscriptions from those in non-School Board districts, as well as many who pay both rates and subscriptions. 1346 They might ask whether the price demanded from the friends of religious education was not too high, and whether it was fair that the nation should go on as it was doing, raising the price which it asked the friends of denominational education to pay for the privilege to which they were entitled. Was it not rather the truest justice to say to the friends of religious education—You have paid enough for the privilege, and as in School Board districts you pay a double charge—and in non-School Board districts you cannot make those pay who differ from you and who are careless as to their responsibilities in educating their children—is it not right that the State should make out of the taxes some part of the increased taxation which the State is levying?He had supported the Bill of last year, but now, when it was too late, when the Bill had been quietly thought over without the blinding dust of party strife, they heard from a very important Member of the Opposition that the Bill had many good clauses which would have done much for education. The Bill, however, had been I lost. It had been treated to a feast of Heliogabalus, in the shape of a lengthened Second Reading Debate, and also in the magnificence of the great majority by which it was carried; but, like the guests at that feast of old, it was I smothered, not under a shower of rose leaves, but under a shower of Amendments. The Opposition had now the chance of rising above party spirit, and of saying that it would confer great benefits on our educational system, while exercising their right of criticism and doing their best to improve this Measure. He thought that on the Opposition rested the responsibility of having thrown back the cause of the improvement of our education for some years, and for having also made it more difficult, for the longer the saw of contention is drawn the hotter it grows. The House had heard something about givng relief to the landlord and to those who paid subscriptions. He did not think this was the case. The Measure would give relief to those in scattered and lonely country parishes, with no one to help them, and to those in overcrowded town parishes who were strivng to live as best they could among their people, on a miserable pittance, spending much time which should have been given to their purely 1347 spiritual work, in begging and scraping together the necessary funds from friends at a distance. It would enable these people to keep their schools going, in order that they might teach religious education as the first thing. He believed that the quality of the secular education in the Voluntary Schools was quite as good as that given in the best Board Schools, as far as their means would permit. The educational spirit was just as keen in denominational schools, and he supported the Bill because he saw in it great possibilities for the future, and because he believed it to be just.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said the hon. Member forgot that the Bill shadowed forth by the Leader of the House this year, and to which this Resolution was a preparation, had not provided for denominational teaching at all except in the case of two or three sects. Last year's Bill gave parents the right of choosing even in Church of England Schools whether the particular dogmas of their own Church should be taught. But no such provision, so far as the House was informed, was to be incorporated in the Bill of this year, and the objection of those who opposed the Bill was that all the taxpayers of the country were to be called upon to still further than at present maintain schools chiefly for the Church of England and for the Roman Catholics, where the dogmas of those churches alone were to be taught, to whatever church the parents might belong. There was in this country an immense number of districts where the only school was that of the Church of England. He believed there were 8,000 parishes where no school at all was found except that of the Church of England; and yet the hon. Member argued in favour of the inalienable right of the parent to fix on the definite religious teaching to be taught to the child. The Leader of the House said that evening that he desired to introduce this Bill as much in the interests of the Board Schools as in the interests of the Voluntary Schools. But the House remembered what the right hon. Gentleman said last year—that all Board Schools should be extinguished in this country.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said the House at least recollected the phrase used in the Debates last year by the right hon. Gentleman, when he expressed the pious hope that School Boards would gradually become extinct, and any other explanation than that he had indicated had not been found. The Government, however, had taken a very curious way of putting their desire to benefit both classes of schools into effect. It was a curious way to support Board Schools by bringing in a Bill which did not do anything for them at all, but which gave what was asked for the Voluntary Schools. And they gave the 5s. as a grant, not to the necessitous schools alone, but as a sum per head of the full number of children in average attendance at the Denominational Schools. Now what they asked was that if the Government took the average attendance in the whole of the denominational schools of the country, however ample their funds or big their subscriptions or endowments, as the basis of calculation they ought to take the same basis in the case of the Board Schools. He had no doubt they would be told by the Leader of the House if the Voluntary Schools Bill passed this Session, "Now if you do not bring such and such a discussion to a close remember the Board Schools will have nothing this Session." ["Hear, hear!" from the FIRST LORD of the TREASURY.] Indeed, he had great doubts whether the right hon. Gentleman would not desire to see protracted the Debates on other Bills in order that he might have the opportunity of withholding a Bill which he did not very much desire to see passed. ["Oh!"] The Opposition had a right to be sceptical as to the desires of the Government in regard to Board Schools. But in his opinion the opposition to this Bill had been put upon too narrow a ground. The Opposition had proceeded chiefly upon the ground that it was unfair to go on with the Bill for assisting denominational schools unless the Government were at the same time going on with the Bill for the necessitous Board Schools. For himself, he objected to the principle of the Bill, root and branch, whatever might be done with the Board Schools. The Bill was nothing less than an unblushing attempt to endow one form of 1349 religion in this country. He desired to consider the Bill, further, from the Welsh point of view. In Wales they were much nearer the attainment of universal School Boards than any other portion of the United Kingdom. In England there were many more children, he believed, in the denominational schools than in the Board Schools; in Wales the case was very different. In Wales, including Monmouth, the total population under School Boards was 1,428,000, while the total population of Wales and Monmouth in 1891 was 1,771,000, so that the population under School Boards was over 80 per cent. of the whole population of the Principality. The average attendance in the Voluntary Schools in Wales, according to the 1894 Return, was 98,829, and in the Board Schools 149,435. Now according to the average attendance, they had under the Bill a very considerable sum given to the Principality in aid of the Voluntary Schools, which were in the minority he had just stated. The sum would be £24,700 a year. Was it fair that in a country which, though poor in comparison with England, had supported its own education in large measure, had set up School Boards over such a large proportion of its area, so large a sum should be given to schools which taught the denominational teaching of the Church of England, and certainly the Church of the minority, while they gave nothing at all to the Board Schools? The number of necessitious Board Schools in Wales, at the same time, was larger in proportion than in England. If the 5s. grant were given to necessitous Board Schools alone—not taking the average attendance of all the Board Schools—Wales would be entitled to £20,705 per annum. Yet they were given not one penny, and a bigger sum was given to the support of the Voluntary Schools. And there was no security whatever that the subscriptions to the Voluntary Schools should be kept up. In fact, the Government were offering special encouragement for the abandonment of those subscriptions. These schools were called Voluntary Schools, but they were not Voluntary Schools in any sense. He could give endless figures to show that they were supported out of public moneys, although of course, they were under private and clerical management. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who built them?"] In many 1350 cases they were built by subscriptions from the general population. [Cheers.] He could give the ease of one school which was built and maintained in large measure out of the earnings of workmen, who worked in collieries belonging to Church people. That was a school which, he had once attended himself. The average attendance at the school, according to the 1894 return, was about 800. What were the voluntary subscriptions now? £15 a year, representing the munificent voluntary subscription of 4¼d. per child! In that case the school was practically maintained out of public money, and was ruled by a clergyman who was an ardent Churchman, and the House might take it from him that there had not been a pupil teacher in that school, whether he came from Nonconformist parents or not, who was not forced by the clergyman to go to the Church of England. During the last few years the people in the locality had built a Board School for themselves, and yet the result of the Bill would be that an additional £200 or £300 a year would be given to the clerical manager of the Church School, to which the people who had built schools for themselves would have to contribute. There was a parish in Glamorganshire called Ystrad in which the Board Schools were general, their average attendance being 10,447. There was only one Voluntary School, which had an attendance of 53. Was it fair that the people who already supported the Board Schools should have to contribute to an extra grant to the one Voluntary School? The same state of things obtained all over Glamorganshire. The total attendance in Voluntary Schools was 30,046 as compared with 71,310 in Board Schools. Therefore, as far as Wales was concerned, the injustice of the Bill would be more severe than in other parts of the country. It was said that last year the Opposition professed a willingness to help denominational schools. Whatever may have been stated by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench, he and his friends did not wish to aid such schools unless they were put under effective popular control. This Bill was not conceived in the interests of education at all, but chiefly in the interests of one denomination. What 1351 security was there that the money voted under the Bill would go to further the interests of true education? None. There was no assurance that the teachers should be enabled to give their whole attention to educational interests, or that they should be selected and dismissed on educational grounds alone. In the last number of the Westminster Review there was an article by Mr. Macnamara, President of the Teachers' Association, showing what teachers had had to submit to at the hands of clerical managers. A number of advertisements were quoted, of which the following is a specimen:—Wanted. Certificated master, with wife for infants; mixed National School; organist, zealous communicant. Salary £107, house and garden.A table given in the article set out the duties which the teachers were often called upon to perform. These included the duties of organist, choir-master, parish clerk, Sunday School superintendent and teacher, bell-ringer, clerk to the County Council, postmaster, and secretary of the cricket club. Was it right to ask Parliament to vote £600,000 a year, as a minimum, to schools in which education was only one consideration. The Welsh Members were determined that this Measure should not pass without every effort being made to point out how unfair would be its operation, and to expose the motives with which it had been brought in.
§ MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said that the hon. Gentleman had based his opposition to the Bill on grounds which might be satisfactory to himself, but which the House would regard as irrelevant. When the hon. Member saw the Bill and found that Voluntary Schools were not to be placed under popular control—as he himself hoped they would not be—it would be time for him to complain. He wished to tender to Her Majesty's Government his warm, heart)', and unqualified thanks for having promised a Bill which would enable him to redeem the foremost and most binding engagement he had made with his constituents—an engagement made in 1891, before he became a Member. As to these proposals not representing public opinion, he would refer to the statement of the Secretary for the Colonies that 1352 there was not a single Member of the Unionist side who did not in a great measure owe his return to his undertaking to defer to the overwhelming sentiment of the country in favour of justice for the Voluntary Schools. Last year the Leaders of the Opposition denounced the then Education Bill because it was not a simple Measure for relieving Voluntary Schools; and in the speech of the late Home Secretary last year there was not a single reference to any desire to assist Board Schools. For his own part he desired to see precedence given to the claim of the Voluntary Schools. He had never been an enemy of Board Schools; he was their friend; and in that capacity he wished to express his conviction that the Board Schools could not exist, at any rate on the present lines, unless the Voluntary Schools were flourishing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton in his powerful speech the other day, declared that the lamentations over the languishing condition of the Voluntary Schools were wholly groundless. The reason advanced for that assertion, coming as it did from a right hon. Gentleman remarkable for his practical and business qualities was certainly startling. The right hon. Gentleman asserted that the income of the Voluntary Schools had enormously increased. And why?—forsooth, because their expenditure had enormously increased. There were now two and a half millions of children attending the Voluntary Schools as compared with 1,200,000 in 1870, and because their expenditure had thereby increased the right hon. Gentleman jumped to the conclusion that their income had enormously increased. No doubt the income of the Voluntary Schools had increased, but why and how? Because the fervour and ardour of the convictions which permeated those who desired and required the existence of those schools led to their doubling and quadrupling their subscriptions. A great deal had been said in the course of the Debate by hon. Members on the other side in favour of what was called "statutory equality." But equality between Board and Voluntary Schools must be something else besides statutory. It must be real. There was no equality, statutory or otherwise between them at present. The Board Schools had the bound- 1353 less resources of the rates to fall back upon, while the Voluntary Schools had nothing to rely upon but the small favours the Government pave them. He was very grateful to the Government for having given the Voluntary Schools the extra shilling. It would be accepted as a generous compensation for the disappointed expectation that the schools would get the grant during the current financial year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham, in his speech attacking the proposals of the Government, taunted the London Members with the fact, that London would get £40,000 less than Lancashire. But later on the right hon. Gentleman was indignant because the Voluntary Schools in Southwark would be exempted from rates to the amount of 1s. 6d. per child. It was, "Why should London get 1s. 6d. per child?" at the end of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and "Why should Loudon not have as much as Lancashire.'" at the beginning of the speech. The details of the proposals of the Government would not He before the House until the Bill was printed; but so far as he understood, he thanked the Government for them, and he specially thanked his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury for his determination to push the Hill through the House with all the speed he could command. [Cheers.]
§ MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
thought the Party opposite were to be congratulated on the Leader they had in the First Lord of the Treasury. [Ministerial cheers.] After the signals of distress which had been hung out by the Solicitor General and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Dartford division in the previous discussions, he could not help admiring the thorough pluck, skill, and admirable argumentative powers with which the First Lord of the Treasury had attempted to defend a fortress already crumbling to ruin, and from which he knew full well he would be ignominiously driven in the course of a few weeks. [Ministerial cries of "No, no," and Opposition cheers.] One of the chief cries which the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Treasury, and other leading 1354 members of the Conservative Party had used in the country was the cry of the enormous pressure of the School Board rate upon the unfortunate ratepayers of the country, but the proposals of the Government were an ingenious attempt to escape from the task of delivering the ratepayers from this burden. The First Lord of the Treasury complained of the protest made on the Opposition side of the House against the discriminating injustice as between Board Schools and Voluntary Schools. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that even the scheme adopted by the Bishops in the autumn, which the right hon. Gentleman had so contemptuously rejected at Manchester, would have given a grant of 6s. per head all round to Board Schools as well as to Voluntary Schools. It seemed to him that the proposals of the Government were evasive, and, in a certain sense, cowardly, and had reasonably disappointed everyone who was interested in the question of education. The supporters of the Voluntary Schools had expected to get during the current financial year the £120,000 which the Chancellor of the Exchequer held out to them last Session as certain to come into their treasury. The Supplementary Estimates showed where that £120,000 had gone. The Government, finding that they were condemned to make good the sum of £500,000 spent on that gigantic folly the Soudan Expedition, had appropriated the £120,000 which they offered last year to the Voluntary Schools. He should never consent to the scheme adopted by the National Society, but he should say at least for them that they had the courage of their convictions. They had presented a consecutive and comprehensive plan for the maintenance of the Voluntary Schools. But everyone knew that the relief to be given by this Bill would be but temporary, and that the evil day for the Voluntary Schools was but postponed. Several hon. Members on the other side of the House had referred to the injustice done to the supporters of Voluntary Schools in compelling them to pay School Board rates. He referred those hon. Gentlemen to the present Archbishop of Canterbury. 1355 He said there was nothing in the point that those who subscribed to Voluntary Schools were unjustly treated because they also paid rates for the Board Schools, and that that was a necessary sacrifice in order to maintain the voluntary principle. Every addition to local charges placed upon the taxes was a transfer of burdens from the rich to the poor, and in effect the Government were asking the poorest class of the ratepayers to contribute through the taxes a large proportion of this aid to the Voluntary Schools. These proposals evaded the pledges given to the Church, the duty of the Government to the Board Schools, and the rights of parents. The Solicitor General had based his case on the claims of the parents, but what voice would the parents have in the appointment of these associations, their management or control, or the distribution of this sum of money? The right hon. Member for Fife in his able speech had repeated two of the conditions he laid down last year on which fresh grants to Voluntary Schools could be approved, but had omitted the third and most important—that there should be local representative control. The friends of National Education, too, were disappointed. These associations were self-appointed, irresponsible bodies, and probably the sum to be distributed would be allocated in large blocks, some to Cardinal Vaughan, and some to men like the Bishop of Chester, Mr. Riley, and to groups of those extremists who had been pushing forward this legislation. There was no guarantee of administrative educational reforms. By the activity of local managers at present, they might have good work done in isolated parishes, but under this system they were going to hand over to an irresponsible body the power of allocating money at their pleasure. The power of withholding the grant, if a school lie-longing to a certain religious body did not join the association of that body, was one of the most iniquitous proposals ever put forward in that House. The whole scheme was a blow to local Government, and was a serious injury to the cause of education, as it did away with the control even of local public opinion. The strongest reason he had for opposing these proposals was because the issue was put clearly before them whether they would maintain the Voluntary system as 1356 an independent and integral part of the educational system of the country. He thought the time had come for some Statesman, on one side or other of the House, to introduce one simple national system of schools in this country, so that the present miserable strife for personal and sectional objects, which was one of the greatest obstacles to education, might cease. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had spoken of the Act of 1870 as no settlement, but as the starting of an educational civil war. He took it that the present question was whether they really wished to supply fuel to feed the flames of this perpetual struggle between two sets of citizens carrying on schools pitted against each other in a sort of educational cockpit; or whether they wished to use the funds of the country for the purpose of providing means for one educational system which would solve all these difficulties? Canon Bury had said that the Voluntary system was one of the greatest obstacles to educational progress, that wherever it excluded the Board Schools in the large towns education was starved, that the struggle was not for religious but for denominational education, the result of which, from a Churchman's point of view, was microscopic. "They could not make Churchmen in the national schools, and they had no right to do so in schools supported by public money." He challenged the right of any Government in the interests of education to provide money for Voluntary Schools on their present footing. There was an interesting rural conference held the other day by the Union of Teachers, at which the actual facts of the rural situation were brought forward in all their ghastly reality. He thought of the miserably starved village schools in his own county, and how the educational standard had been kept down, the teachers degraded, and every educational opportunity restricted by the selfish pertinacity of the Clergy in retaining their domination. It was said that Voluntary Schools were wanted by the country, but in his own division several towns had complained that they wanted their Board Schools enlarged, but the Education Department had refused permission to enlarge them, although they were crowded with children, and others sought admission. That was due to 1357 the fact that there were half disused Voluntary Schools in the parish into which the children had to be forced. In Yorkshire and Lancashire the Education Department actually had to force the children of Protestants who required free places into Roman Catholic Schools. The actual preference of the people in large towns for Board Schools had been demonstrated in one of the Reviews by figures as to the Voluntary Schools of a large town in the North by the Bishop of Ripon. Although the managers had clearly made efforts to bring up the Voluntary Schools to the standard required, that feeling was not sufficiently strong to enable them to raise the comparatively small sum still necessary to put them on an equality with Board Schools, while 5,000 children had been transferred to the Board Schools. The parents clearly preferred the most efficient schools, and did not care so much about their denominational character. This was a question of the interests of the children, and not of the sects. The Board School system existed in order to turn out well educated and capable citizens, while the Voluntary School system, by the admission of its own supporters, existed in order to form a bulwark round the Church of England, to provide a sort of hot-house for Church principles, to enrol fresh members of the Church. He was a Churchman, and wished to support all good Church work. He thought many of the clergy used the powers they had under the Education Acts in a most excellent and admirable manner in the interests of the children, but he maintained that religious interests ought to be provided for by the Church, and out of the pockets of Churchmen. He desired to ask any fair-minded man opposite two practical questions, namely, whether two struggling and insufficiently equipped schools could do as good work as one thoroughly equipped school into which all efforts were thrown, or whether the same sum of money when distributed over a large area and amongst small buildings with inferior staffs would produce anything like the same results as it would when concentrated upon one effectively equipped school. He passed a part of the last Recess in visiting some of the splendid common schools in the State of Massachusetts. He wished we could have 1358 in this country an educational system such as he saw there. Those magnificent and perfectly equipped elementary and technical and high schools were absolutely free to all children from five to 21 years of age. But what he wished to point out was that the tendency there at the present time was to close, both in town and country, the isolated and smaller schools, and to concentrate resources and efforts on large schools. The cost of conveying to the larger schools was actually being defrayed by the State. It was found better economy to give the children the full advantages of large schools, with numerous class-rooms and full equipment, and the stimulus of competition. He was assured that in the town in which the system was carried on the most effectively the Roman Catholics had given up, as a hopeless affair, the attempt to establish any parochial, or, in other words, denominational schools of their own, because the Catholic population would not withdraw their children from the splendid advantages given by the common school system. Why was it that here in England we could not have a system of that kind, which brought the highest advantages of education to every child? Why should the interests of the children in England be sacrificed, because of the squabbles between Churchmen and Dissenters, Catholics and Protestants? He regarded with suspicion the present proposals when he saw that distinguished prelates had said they could not trust teachers even from the training colleges if they had happened to go through the mill of the Board Schools. That was an indication of the spirit of excessive domination of private and irresponsible clerical bodies. Why should they not even now face the real question of National Education? He had had the curiosity to turn to the columns of The Times of 1870 to see what was said at the time. He would not weary the House by quoting an article in The Times on an Amendment which was moved by Mr. Walter during the passing of the Education Act of 1870, but he recommended hon. Members on the Government Benches to refer to that article. They would then see how, at the opening of this controversy, generous and broad were the views of even a newspaper like The Times. The proposal of Mr. Walter 1359 was that there should be universal School Boards, and that the way should be open to Voluntary Schools to merge themselves as regarded their secular teaching and retain religious teaching in their own hands. He asked the Government whether the door was still shut to some compromise which would lead us to a happy and ideal system. Were we to go on for ever piling up enormous expenses on one side and the other in maintaining the dual system? It was now suggested to give to the Voluntary Schools £616,000 in addition to what they now received. Two or three years hence there would be a high standard of education, Voluntary Schools would have increased in number, and Parliament would be asked for another million of money. By an absolute reversal of that common-sense policy of concentration which was making the State of Massachusetts such a paradise of education, the money here would be dissipated in all sorts of channels, in ineffectual education, and 10 or 20 years hence they would have to do the work which he asked the House of Commons to do now. Why not at once weed out the unnecessary schools in our towns and villages, and concentrate every effort on schools from which sectarian bigotry and conflict should be for ever removed?
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
said few things had been more interesting, and, perhaps, more instructive, during these Debates than the anxiety of Members on the other side of the House to support some measure of relief for Voluntary Schools, to support this Measure indeed, if it could be altered in some slight and trivial degree to meet their own views and wishes. Curiously enough, though there was little desire among those hon. Members to support this Resolution, there was, with the exception of the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan and the hon. Member who addressed the House last, not a single Member who found fault with the Resolution root and branch. He would not follow all the objections of the hon. Member who had last spoken, and who seemed to be rather like Martha—careful and troubled about many things. As to the 1360 speech of the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan, his complaint seemed simply to He in this, that a large quantity of the money to be allocated to the relief of Voluntary Schools would go to the relief of Church Voluntary Schools, and to one particular Church school, where he was educated, and of the excellence of the education given in which, as well as of its unsectarian character, he was one of the best proofs. He did not propose to enter into the details of the proposal, for it seemed to him to be unbusinesslike to discuss the details of a measure not at present before the House; but he might be allowed to say he did not think there would be any finality in dealing with the question, and he did not think they would have even the elements of finality until a clear and distinct dividing line was drawn between the elementary education every parent had a right to demand for his child, and secondary or technical education. He believed that until this line was drawn they would not have the elements of finality. The present proposal allocated a sum for the relief of Voluntary Schools, and did that in fulfilment of pledges given very largely last autumn—pledges which, indeed, seemed to be somewhat in the nature of Jephtha's vow. In spite of the very serious warning addressed to Members on that side of the House by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Hart Dyke), and at the risk of adding to those disquieting phenomena which caused so much anxiety to his mind, he could not but say that he deeply regretted that the Government had not found it possible to introduce concurrently with this proposal some proposal for the relief of necessitous Board Schools. This he said as one absolutely unpledged one way or the other on the subject, and he said it as representing a constituency in which a very large majority of the schools were Voluntary Schools, many of them poor schools, and greatly needing the relief now proposed to be given. But, at the same time he could not be indifferent to the fact that there were—it might be a small number only, but still there were—a number of School Boards within the constituency the pressure of whose rate was extremely high, and the highest rate of all fell upon one of the poorest agricultural parishes in the whole district. 1361 ["Hear, hear!"] The average rate was 8d. in the £, but the rate in this particular parish was 1s. 1½d. He could not help contrasting this with the Voluntary School rate which he paid in respect to his occupation in another parish, which Voluntary rate was 1d. in the £. It was a school practically without subscriptions—a. Voluntary School supported by a voluntary rate of 1d. in the £. He should very deeply regret to have to go and tell his constituents that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to vote for the relief of Voluntary Schools and yet they were not prepared to grant relief to poor Board Schools. The House had been told it was the full intention of the Government to deal with this question, and he would give them every credit for a sincere determination to do so, but he very much regretted that they could not go beyond intentions. He heartily wished Her Majesty's Government had been able to lay on the Table a proposal that would give the House some more definite assurance than any yet given that the Government intended to deal with the case of poor School Boards, particularly in rural districts, where the rates pressed with extreme severity upon the ratepayers. Feeling strongly on the subject, and entertaining these views, he was not able to support Her Majesty's Government on the main question the other night. He could not vote against them, for he would not be a party to withholding relief from Voluntary Schools greatly in need of it, but at the same time he could not vote with the Government, for he felt that the relief should be given, if possible, concurrenty, and certainly almost immediately with that relief to poor School Boards. He still felt that as strongly as ever, but he recognised that if he voted against Her Majesty's Government on this occasion he would be playing into the hands of those who wished to delay or defeat this Measure, and not only so, but it might delay, or possibly defeat altogether, the expected relief to poor Board Schools. He believed Her Majesty's Government would take the earliest opportunity of redeeming pledges given to deal with the case of the poorer School Boards, and in this belief he would record his vote for the Government that night.
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
felt very strongly in favour of assistance to Board Schools, and he did not limit himself by any means to what were called necessitous Board Schools; he would put in a plea for contributions to all Board Schools, both urban and rural. There were many towns where the school rate pressed heavily on the ratepayers, in conjunction with sanitary and other rates. In Leicester the School Board provided for the education of some 25,000 children, and there were two Board scholars for every scholar in a Voluntary School, and yet these Voluntary Schools would receive 5s. a head grant and the Board Schools nothing whatever, the ratepayers continuing to pay 14d. in the £, and in addition they would be called upon to pay their share of the taxation out of which this grant was made to Voluntary Schools. On the face of it this was a manifest injustice. The trade of Leicester was good, but it had to be sustained against severe foreign competition. The incomes of the workmen were but moderate, and it was hard upon them to be called to pay their proportion to the maintenace of schools in which they were not concerned, paying at the same time high rates for the education of their own children. He would deal with the rural schools. He was Chairman of a Parish Council in a village where they had a Voluntary School which belonged to a very rich and powerful family. The children from the adjoining village attended the school, the owner of the second village being also a rich man. In the village itself lived a Peer, who was a Member of the other House, and the school was surrounded on all sides by rich people, who were quite capable of maintaining it. He had also within his knowledge three Board Schools, all providing for rural populations, chiefly the children of agricultural labourers. Where they were situated there was not a single rich man or any that paid, or could pay, more than another. The whole of the rates had to be extracted from the pockets of the village tradesmen and labourers who, although they did not pay rates directly paid them by way of rent. These were the class of people charged with the maintenance of the Board Schools. By this Resolution they were going to give to the rich Voluntary School 5s. per head of the 1363 children in attendance, whilst the poor Board Schools in the agricultural villages of Norfolk, which were kept up with the greatest difficulty, were not to receive a single penny. Surely that was an evident injustice. He thought it a most unfortunate thing that a great question like that of education should be tinkered with by this piecemeal kind of legislation, this sort of Jack-of-all-trades policy, and master of none. If the Government had had the patience to wait so that they might have dealt with the whole subject at once, and given proportionate relief to all classes of schools, they would have found considerable support and encouragement from a number of hon. Members who were now forced by the circumstances to oppose the Government's present mode of procedure. As to the machinery they were to have what were called associations of Board Schools. In plain language, he understood that to be a federation of rectors, and if any school refused to associate with this federation of the vicars, the Education Department would be enabled to refuse to give that school any assistance from the grant. Suppose a Nonconformist School did not see its way to federate with Church of England and Catholic Schools, the Education Department would then be able to bring intolerable coercion to bear, and could refuse to give such a school a proportion of this money provided by Parliament.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the provision. We provide that a school shall be considered to have a reasonable ground for objecting to come into an association if the majority of the schools in that association belong to another religious denomination.
remarked that at any rate power was placed in the hands of the Education Department to deal with a possible Nonconformist School, a power which he entirely objected to unless the school for quite insufficient reasons—not based upon religious objections—refused to join, and purposely caused difficulty and trouble in the administration in this Bill. His fear was that these differences would not be necessary to the degree he had suggested, for the purpose of debarring certain schools from participation in their fair share of the national grant. The 1364 only other point with regard to the machinery was this: That the membership of the association of schools was to be composed entirely of the present managers and proprietors of these schools, and there was to be no elected representative of any kind whatever. That was the centre and pillar of their objection to the whole position. The Government were going to provide £600,000 a year, a sum which would probably be increased annually by a very large amount, and this money was to be allotted by people in all parts of the country who represented nobody except themselves, their prejudices and their own religious bigotry. This sum was to be placed in the hands of people without being subject to any control whatever. He could not look upon it in any other aspect than as a great system of additional endowment to the Church of England. They were going to give Clergymen and those who managed the rural and urban Voluntary Schools at the present time a far greater and more influential position than they now held. He entirely objected to voting money on these principles. He would suggest that the Government should follow the traditions which had hitherto invariably been followed when two Bills were to be devoted to the same subject, and that was to let the two Measures be dealt with at the same time. When this Bill had been read a Second time, and before the Committee stage was reached, let the Government bring in and explain to the House their whole scheme with regard to the proposed relief of the Board Schools. There could be no denying the fact that the people of West Ham, Walthamstow, and many other towns and places, and especially the rural districts, were taxed up to the hilt in the matter of education, and he hoped the Government would do what the Governments of both parties had done up to a recent date in the case of two measures closely related—namely, to get the Second Reading of the one and then bring in the other. By that policy no time was wasted, and business would be immensely facilitated. If the Government would do that, and concede, of course, the fundamental and elementary principle of public control following public funds, their great Education Question might be got rid of for a great number of years to come. If some such policy was not pursued, the Government which 1365 was in a chance majority to-day might find itself in the course of a few year's in a grave minority, and then—he would venture to prophesy for once in his life, and only once—no Liberal Government that came into office could live for three years without reversing the proposals of the present Government if passed in their present form.
§ MR. GEOFFREY DRAGE (Derby)
said he should not have addressed the House on the question of education had it not been for the continued hostility shown to this Measure by hon. Members who represented in a great measure the labour interest. However much the hon. Member who had just sat down might differ from him on constitutional questions, he would allow, at any rate, that he had the profoundest sympathy with the labouring classes. He wished, therefore, to explain the ground on which he supported the Government policy. There were certain aspects of the policy of the Government last year to which he would like to call the attention of the hon. Member. In the first place, by the Bill then introduced, an educational ladder was devised, by which a child might rise from elementary to technical, and from technical to secondary—from the lowest to the highest rung in educational matters. More than that, it was made possible for the inmates of Reformatories and Industrial Schools to take their place in the educational scheme of the country. The second point in connection with that Measure was the increased efficiency for which provision was made, not only in Voluntary Schools, but also in Board Schools. He would like to remind the House of the great importance of improved efficiency. The country was undergoing great changes in all matters connected with labour, and what was required now more than all was that a man should be ready to turn from one trade to another, and that there should be a wider appreciation of refinement and knowledge, not only amongst the workers themselves, but amongst the leaders of trade unions and societies and the captains of industry. The hon. Member opposite seemed to think that there was a desire on the Ministerial side of the House to give the Church an undue advantage over Nonconformists in the Government scheme. His impression of the scheme was that it gave the Nonconformists privileges which up to that time 1366 they did not possess, and which the Church party were unanimous in wishing (hat they should have. He recognised from the bottom of his heart the great services Nonconformists had rendered to the cause of education and religion in the country. It was impossible for any man not to see that in labour and educational questions the Nonconformists had been more than once the watch-dogs of humanity and religion. The hon. Member could rest assured that, so far as it was a question of maintaining the just rights of the Nonconformists, there would always be ample support to be looked for from the Conservative side of the House. Another part of the scheme was referred to by the hon. Member, and that was the provision made for the complete democratic local control which the hon. Member desired. That control was to be in the hands of a Committee of the County Council, a body which, he would remind the hon. Member, was elected on a more democratic basis than the School Board. Those on his side of the House were anxious to support local control of education for this reason—that those countries which, like Germany, had made so much advance in education, owed a great amount of that advance to the public control of their institutions, and they were anxious to see Lancashire and Yorkshire as proud of their local institutions as they were of their cricket and football elevens. There were some minor points in this connection in which the hon. Member took a great interest, and for which he should have thought the policy of Her Majesty's Government would have enlisted the hon. Member's co-operation. There was the raising the age of the half-timers in the Bill of last year.
§ MR. DRAGE
bowed to the ruling of the Chair. He would say no more on that subject except to remark that it appeared to him that in the scheme of the Government last year, as laid before the House, there was much to appeal to the labour leader. With regard to the present Bill, which was the first earnest of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, it had been urged more than once that any help given to Voluntary Schools should be adequate. He was of opinion 1367 that when hon. Members looked into the Vote they would see that the help was adequate. It had also been claimed that the help should affect poor schools only, and be subject to public control. In all these matters the Government had provided proper conditions in the Vote now before the House. Of course, in many respects those on his side of the House would not expect all hon. Members opposite to agree with them in their support of this Measure. There were peculiar reasons why they should support Church Schools—technical, financial, and religious reasons. The variety brought by Church Schools into the management of education was a matter for congratulation, and he felt that as Churchmen they could not be too thankful to the officers of Church Schools who had, on inadequate stipends, carried on their work regardless of the higher stipends they might have got by transferring their services to School Boards. Above all, they had on his side of the House reasons why they should support anything that would give renewed vigour to the system of Voluntary Schools; for many of them had had the advantage as schoolboys of those great Church institutions known as the Public Schools, and of subsequently going to Oxford and Cambridge. He only hoped that the attacks on the Church would be continued, so that the value of the religious side of the institutions in which they had been brought up, and from which they had derived the most valuable lessons of their lives, might the more be brought home to them. In supporting Her Majesty's Government in the Resolution now before the House, he felt convinced he was supporting a Resolution which, so long as he took a part in public life, he would never have cause to regret. Whatever changes in detail might be necessary in the Bill now before the House, he only hoped that hon. Members on his side of the House would look at it from the same point of view as he did, and, sinking all differences, would join with Her Majesty's Government in supporting a Measure which he firmly believed was for the advancement of the country, and of a cause which was above even that of country—namely, the advancement of Christianity.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said the view that there was no case for an equivalent grant in regard 1368 to Scotland was not likely to be generally adopted there. It would be felt deeply in Scotland that whereas there they had been departing from the policy of sectarian and approaching the policy of national education, in England they were departing from a policy of national education and approaching more nearly to a sectarian system. In that way suspicion and dread were aroused in Scotland, and, owing to the helpless position of the Scotch Liberal majority, it was not to be wondered at. The Bill proposed that a burden of about £70,000 a year should be laid on Scotland, mainly for the advantage of Church of England schools. Because a proportion of well-to-do Englishmen belonging to the Church of England found their subscriptions to their schools a burden to them, and because many Englishmen would not contribute locally to purposes of education, therefore the people of Scotland, who contributed freely and fully through their local rates to maintain their own schools, were to be called upon to contribute through Imperial taxation to the maintenance of Church of England schools. [Cheers.] What was the "intolerable strain" upon the pockets of Churchmen? In the county he formerly represented the education rate had) been 6s. 8d. in the pound. It was still several shillings. And yet the Government were going to call upon Presbyterian crofters in the most poverty-stricken districts of Scotland to contribute towards the relief of well-to-do Church people in England. The present was a peculiarly unfortunate moment to select to add to the burdens of the people of Scotland, not to speak of adding to them in the form of a grant to an alien system of education, which was specially designed for the service of an alien Church. The Scotch people were of opinion that the time had come for inquiry into those burdens under which they considered that they had been overtaxed, and also into the condition of the public service in Scotland, which they considered to have been starved. They regarded the proposed levy upon them, not only as unjust, but the purpose towards which that levy was to be devoted as destructive of the best interests of education, and subversive of the true principles upon which any national 1369 system of education should rest. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. T. P. WHITTAKER (York, W.R., Spen Valley)
said the Bill had been put forward on the ground that the need of Voluntary Schools was urgent, and that unless aid was forthcoming, these schools would die out. Some of them were prepared to admit that they would not be agonised a great deal if some of them did die out. But in the special circumstances of the case they were not prepared to oppose a further grant for education to Voluntary Schools if that was made under what seemed to them to be satisfactory conditions. He admitted that as the nation demanded increased efficiency from these schools, and thus put them to increased cost, it was not unfair that the nation should be called upon to bear that increased cost. But he would remind the House that the "intolerable strain" of which they heard was not the result of the increased demands of the Department, but was due to the grasping policy of sectarian managers and promoters of these schools. Their subscriptions were less per head now than they were 20 years ago, which meant that in order to keep out School Boards in various districts of the country they had undertaken more educational work than they could find subscriptions for. Thus districts which to-day were paying a heavy School Board rate were to be taxed in order to enable other districts to avoid paying these rates. That was a gross injustice, and it was especially unjust because he believed it was the wealthiest districts that had most Voluntary Schools, and the poorest districts that had most School Boards. Another principle indicated by Mr. Balfour was somewhat extraordinary. He said they were going to differentiate between town and country districts, and that towns were to have the advantage and country districts were not. It seemed to him that any privilege or advantage should go to the country districts which were poorest, and not to the towns. They were told that if they crushed out the Voluntary Schools a great burden would be thrown upon the country. No doubt the cost of supplanting these Voluntary Schools would be considerable, but upon whom would it fall? It would not fall upon the nation as an Imperial charge, but upon the localities where the 1370 schools were. It would mean that in those districts where they had kept out School Boards the people would have to do as other districts had done. But this Bill involved a charge on districts which had already provided their own Board Schools. The Government said that they were going to aid the Board Schools, and again and again they had been asked why they did not do so now? It was no good for them to say that it was a question of time or of difficult machinery. If they would bring in a Bill giving satisfactory corresponding assistance to Board Schools they would get it through the House. There would even be no difficulty about introducing the necessary machinery into the present Bill. The real difficulty in the way was that the Government knew that they were not going to assist the School Boards in a satisfactory manner. They knew that their scheme was not going to be just to all Board Schools. The fact was that they were only going to help the necessitous schools, and they did not say to what extent and under what conditions. They did, however, say that the aid would not be given under the same conditions as they had laid down for the Voluntary Schools. Hut, even with regard to these necessitous schools, the deeds of the Party opposite spoke louder than their words. The words of the Government were bad enough; but their deeds were worse. They had been told that there had been a great increase in the number of necessitous schools, the real fact being that there had been an increase in the number of such schools that had discovered that they were entitled to a grant as necessitous schools. The discussions last year showed the managers of these schools that they were entitled to relief under the 97th Clause. The attitude of the Government with respect to the managers' rights under that Clause showed pretty well what value was to be attached to their promises regarding necessitous schools. Many schools had discovered that they had been entitled for years to a grant under Section 97, but when they applied for payment to the Education Department they were refused, on the ground that the application was "out of date." It was not legally "out of date." Why did not the Government defray the arrears to which the necessitous schools were entitled with the 1371 £120,000 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said must now go to the National Debt Fund? By doing that they would give the country some proof of their good intentions. As matters stood the Education Department were allowing Protestant Nonconformist children to be driven into Roman Catholic Schools. The House had no guarantee that if they voted the money which was now asked for it would be spent in improving the efficiency of schools and the education of the people. They had heard a, good deal about the intolerable strain that must be relieved. Did that mean that the pockets of the subscribers to Voluntary Schools were to be relieved? If so this money was going to benefit those subscribers, and not the children. Clergymen had recently been pointing out in appealing circulars that their appeals for assistance to the Voluntary Schools would no longer be necessary when the Government had fulfilled their pledges. That showed the way in which they thought that the money would go. Their idea was that this extra grant would go practically into the pockets of the subscribers. It was said that an effort ought to be made to maintain these denominational schools, because there was a great desire on the part of the people of this country for denominational education. His view was that that desire was very much exaggerated, and that these schools were not maintained from a desire for denominational education. They were largely maintained by clergymen and Churchmen for political and sectarian purposes. The subscriptions were no criterion of the desire of the people for denominational education. What they did indicate was that there were large numbers of people who feared a School Board rate, but not that those persons had any love for denominational education. This dread of a School Board rate was an instructive comment on the love of hon. Members opposite for religious liberty. In hundreds of parishes they strained every effort to prevent School Boards from being established, and that meant that they were driving Nonconformist children into denominational schools. Any additional assistance to be given to Voluntary Schools ought to come from the rates. The localities ought to find the extra money that was required, for localities which already provided for the education of the inhabitants out of a School Board 1372 rate ought not to be made to bear a share of the expenses of places where Board Schools had not been established. Why were the Church Party opposed to rate aid? It was because they knew that if a local rate were levied to support the Voluntary Schools it would decimate their subscription lists. If a rate were levied the subscribers would stop their donations, because many subscriptions were given in order to avoid a rate, which must be accompanied by some sort of local control. That was what the sectarian party feared. Of course it was said by hon. Members opposite that the Voluntary Schools were quite as good as the Board Schools. So they were where their supporters were compelled to make them equally good. It was the compulsion of competition that had raised the standard of education in Voluntary Schools, and it was that compulsion of competition which was the intolerable strain of which their supporters complained. Wherever there was a sectarian majority on our School Boards, or whenever there was a sectarian majority in that House, efforts were made to check the progress of the Board Schools and of Board School education. It was the desire of the Church Party—they had indications of this last Session—that a curb should be put upon Board School Education, and that was why the Prime Minister had recommended the Church party to capture the Board Schools in order that those schools might be held back, and that the competition with their own schools might not be so keen. The Church Party in their jealousy would check and hamper education at the very time when the country needed a better education than ever, in order that it might hold its own in the commercial world, and the worst feature in the case was that those who would do this would do it in the name of religion.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
thought that the Debate had been most useful, because it had revealed the true attitude of the Opposition towards the Voluntary Schools of this country. It was true that now and again some tardy admissions were made by Members of the Opposition of the desirability, and in some cases of the necessity, of the continued existence of Voluntary Schools. One very important admission of the kind was made last Session, when 1373 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife stated that the Voluntary Schools were an integral part of the system of primary education in this country. Here and there then they heard a kind of hollow admission that these schools did some sort of good work. Too often those admissions had been accompanied by a very thinly disguised feeling of hostility to the Voluntary School system, but the great majority of speeches, like the speech of the last hon. Member, merely showed that there was a desire to see the gradual extinction of the Voluntary School system in this country. The right hon. Member for Dartford said that he had not heard many speeches thanking the Government for this partial measure of justice—["hear, hear!"] that was to say, partial, inasmuch as the scheme was not a complete measure of justice, but that it only rendered to the Voluntary Schools some instalment of that measure of justice to which they were entitled. The Government, no doubt, would better appreciate the votes of their followers as indicated by the division list last Tuesday than by speeches indicating a superabundance of gratitude. For his part, he tendered to the Government his very sincere gratitude for this Measure. He thought that, having waited as the Voluntary Schools had done for more than a quarter of a century—under a system in which the Board Schools had been the protected and favoured schools so far as public money was concerned—it must now be gratifying to the supporters of the Voluntary Schools to find that the time had arrived when a Measure was produced in which the country recognised the just claims of the Voluntary Schools to some further measure of recognition from the public purse. A great deal had been said about rate aid. Personally he was not afraid of rate aid, nor was he afraid of popular control—[cheers]—subject to the reservation made by the hon. Member for East Mayo, that no attempt should be made to interfere with what hon. Gentlemen opposite called the sectarian teaching adminstered under the Conscience Clause. Subject to that reservation he had no fear; on the contrary, he rather welcomed some measure of popular control of those schools. As to public control, since the Act of 1870 both Board Schools and Voluntary Schools had been under the control of the Education 1374 Department. Both were working under the same Code, and both were turning out the same educational results. [Cries of "No, no!"] That being so, they were both doing the same work which Parliament had required of them, and therefore on principles of abstract justice, they were entitled to share to the same extent the public money. Yet the Voluntary Schools received, even under this Bill, nothing like their share of public money. It was true sometimes that the friends of Voluntary Schools had been forced into the position of appearing to be retrogressive. But why? If the Government laid upon elementary schools of ail classes increasing requirements, justice required that they should provide all those schools alike with the same means of carrying out those requirements. The right hon. Member for Bodmin, in the interesting and instructive speech which he delivered the ether night, made a remarkable admission which ought to carry weight when he said that on principles of abstract justice, if once the wishes of the parents were made manifest, and they showed a distinct intention to maintain the Voluntary and denominational schools, then the foundation of our scheme of national education would have to be enlarged in order to take them in. The right hon. Gentleman meant by that that the time would probably come when the Voluntary Schools would be granted by Parliament—not, as he said, at the hands of the Conservative Party, but at the hands of the Members of the Opposition—that same measure of public support to share public money as the Board Schools were now enjoying, and that they should be entitled to come on the rates for a full measure of the educational work they were fulfilling, How had the wishes of parents been expressed? Although those favoured and protected Board Schools had been in vogue for more than a quarter of a century, and had had behind them not only the public money of the Exchequer, but also the unlimited purse of the ratepayers, the Voluntary Schools, labouring under the enormous disadvantage of having to find continually a larger sum out of their own pockets, in addition to the sums they were contributing to the school rates in the district—the Voluntary Schools had not only been enabled to hold their own, but to show that out of the 5,000,000 1375 of children in the public elementary schools, no fewer than 3,000,000 were being educated in our Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Member for East Fife taunted them that this grant was intended to relieve the pockets of the subscribers to Voluntary Schools, and spoke about stimulating the consciences of the supporters of Church Schools. What were the facts? In the last 80 years the supporters of those schools had contributed 40 millions sterling for the establishment and maintenance of those schools, and the subscriptions were upwards of £20,000 a week at this moment. In face of those facts, such taunts were unmerited and unjust. The Member for East Fife had suggested that the needs of the Voluntary Schools for aid might decrease in the future, but it was absurd to suppose that the necessities of these schools would decrease, and he objected to seeing public money granted as it had been hitherto to one class to the gross disadvantage of another. [Ironical cheers.] And if ever there was a class which had suffered gross injustice at the hands of Parliament, it was the Voluntary Schools. Every turn of the screw put on at the Education Department had been felt by the Voluntary Schools, because it meant more subscriptions, and their supporters had not, like the Board Schools, any power of raising money from the rates. As to the future necessities of the Voluntary Schools and their position under this grant, it must be remembered that one class on whom the strain had fallen very largely had been the teachers in the Voluntary Schools, and undoubtedly the effect of the Bill would be that those teachers would get a substantial part of the grant in the shape of increased salary. During the past 12 months the requirements of the Education Department had been relaxed to some extent because of the financial position of the Voluntary Schools, but when this Bill was passed, it was certain that whichever Party might be in power, those requirements would then be enforced, and properly enforced, wherever schools were inefficient, whether as regarded their sanitary condition, the staffing, or anything else. In his opinion the Government had exercised a wise discretion in making the sum depend not on the existing necessities, but on the total number 1376 of children who might be from time to time in the Voluntary Schools. A great deal had been said about statutory equality between the two systems of schools. This was absurd, because in one case they supplied the means of complying with the demands by giving recourse to the rates, and in the other they supplied no such means whatever. It was because Voluntary Schools had suffered gross inequalities, and because, after this Bill had become law, they would be placed in a more equal though still a far less favoured position than the School Boards, that he thanked the Government for this instalment of justice. All friends of Voluntary Schools would feel a deep debt of gratitude to the Government for what they had done.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said that he did not know whether it was by accident or design that for the last few hours the Minister left in charge of the Bill was not the Minister of Education, and not even an English Member, but a Scotch gentleman filling an office which had nothing to do with the question under discussion. He hoped, however, that the Solicitor-General had been present for the purpose of answering the claim made an behalf of Scotland by the Members for Leith and Haddingtonshire, and he hoped that the Solicitor-General would display as much ingenuity and achieve more success than characterised his efforts the other night. Scotch Members had complained that the Government, by the procedure which they had adopted, had unfairly limited the range of the Debate; because it was impossible to submit to the House the proposition that aid to Board Schools ought to go hand in hand with aid to Voluntary Schools. The answer of the Solicitor General to that complaint was that to make the scope of the resolutions wider than that of the Bill to be founded on them would be contrary to the practice and traditions of the House. If that were so, then the resolutions reeked with disorder; because there was hardly one of them which was not of larger scope than the Bill. The only thing the Government had taken care to limit was the application of the 5s. grant to Voluntary Schools. The resolutions might equally apply to Scotland and Ireland as well as England, but the Bill was to apply only to England. Therefore the 1377 argument of the Solicitor-General was refuted by the resolutions themselves. Scottish Members had another substantial grievance in the course which the Government had adopted. In 1888 grants in aid of the rates were made in certain proportions to England, Scotland, and Ireland. The Scottish Members—led by Mr. Hunter, whose absence and the cause of it they all deplored—demanded that the Scottish grant should go in aid of free education. That led to the claim for free education in England, and when the claim was granted, Scotland again received an equivalent grant. It was the departure from this practice on the present occasion that Scottish Members complained of. When the Bill of last year was under discussion, the Government gave a vague assurance that, if that Bill passed, something should be done for education in Scotland, though there would be no equivalent grant. If that "something" were needed, why was it not done on its own merits? And if not, why was not Scotland given her equivalent grant in the proportion to England's of 11 to 80? No answer had been made to that demand. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had this year repeated the unsatisfactory declaration which he made last year, that the principle of the equivalent grant did not apply, but that, if the Bill passed, something should be done for education in Scotland. The forms of the House would not permit the Scottish Members on the Opposition side of the House—who, in this matter represented the opinion of Scotland—to enter their protest against that declaration in the form of an Amendment to the Resolution; and the fact would be an additional stimulus to the strong of opposition they should offer to the Bill, invidious as it was in its general purpose, but particularly in its dealings with Scottish interests. What was the Bill for which they were to make the large sacrifices that were demanded of them? They had not seen it yet, and the exposition of its provisions by the First Lord of the Treasury had not been so lucid that it was completely apprehended even on the right hon. Gentleman's own side of the House. This much, however, was clear. It was a Bill bristling with discriminations. There were discriminations between Board and Voluntary Schools; between town and country, and 1378 between associated schools and non-associated schools, for the latter were, in some mysterious way, to be penalised. It was conjecture on his part, but he believed it was true, that, as in the case of the Agricultural Rating Bill of last year, as in this ease, the Government had changed their intention since they had laid their proposals before the House. The Government proposed a grant to Voluntary Schools of 5s. per head on the whole number of scholars in such schools, but it now appeared that in some way, certainly not comprehended on that side of the House, the grant was to be so manipulated that the main portion of it was to go to the necessitous Voluntary Schools. He should like to know what was meant by "a Voluntary School." The First Lord of the Treasury had not condescended to tell the House.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Yes, but any step they took on the Bill would be governed by this Resolution and by the meaning attached to the word "Voluntary." In the Bill of last year the definition of a Voluntary School was a school not supported by a School Board rate. On this matter he held the opinion of a distinguished Member of the Government which was responsible for the proposals now before the House. Not many years ago it was said:—The efforts of all lovers of justice and all friends of education must now be directed to the establishing of the principle that representation shall go hand in hand with taxation, and that no grant of national or local funds shall be made to any school, the majority at least of whose managing body does not consist of representatives elected by the district for that purpose.The distinguished author of that creed was the Colonial Secretary. Was the right hon. Gentleman still "a lover of justice and a friend of education?" If he were, how was he going to justify his position in a Government which proposed to give National funds to schools that had no representatives of the people upon their governing bodies? What was the position of the Government? They had to borrow money to carry out their proposed urgent military defences. When the time came for the discussion of those borrowing proposals it would not be forgotten that the necessity to borrow had 1379 been brought about by the policy of the Government in squandering the surplus reserves of the Nation upon sectarian and class purposes—last year in the relief of agricultural rating, and this year in the relief of Voluntary Schools.
§ MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
entered his humble protest against the rapidity with which the proposals of the Government were to be rushed through the House, and also against the limited scope of the Bill. Nothing had been left undone to limit the scope of the Measure and to suppress criticism. Last year a grant in aid was proposed nominally to aid agriculture. Safeguards and conditions to secure that end were not proposed, and the Amendments moved on the Opposition side of the House were rejected by the Government. The money had gone to increase the purchase value of the landlords' agricultural estates. This year there was a grant in aid proposed nominally to aid education. There were no safeguards or conditions proposed to secure that end; and again the Amendments of the Opposition were clotured, and they were unable to move them on the Committee stage of the Resolution He thought that, just as in the case of the Landlord Relief Bill, the money they were now asked to vote would not go to the purposes for which it was intended, but would go into the pockets largely of the parsons and their friends. [Cheers.] They must recollect that six out of every seven of the denominational schools were managed and controlled by the Church party. If the House was to be again closured before full discussion had been secured, they would, at any rate, have the satisfaction of knowing that the country would take every opportunity of expressing its disapproval of the proposals of the Government in the same way that Waltharnstow expressed its opinion. [Cheers.] They were told that if they allowed this Bill to slip through, another Bill might follow by which some Board Schools might receive some aid; he, for one, was not prepared to take the shadows instead of the substance. His constituents had authorised him to say that they believed in Voluntary and Board Schools being treated alike by the State, but the public pledge which the Government had given seemed to him to be absolutely inadequate to the equal treat- 1380 ment of those schools. He favoured an increased contribution for the promotion of education in Voluntary Schools, and he thought the Roman Catholics ought to receive special consideration at the hands of the State. But he would not be a party to proposals to endow private schools unconditionally. Those schools already received over seven-tenths of their maintenance from public funds, and he believed that this Bill would promote injustice between Board Schools and Voluntary Schools. In the parish of Waltharnstow the Board School rate was 1s. 9d. in the pound, and if Board Schools were to be given an equivalent grant to Voluntary Schools that Board School district ought to receive £3,000. Was it surprising then that the Government proposals should have been emphatically condemned the day before at the ballot box? The right hon. Gentleman opposite would like to see Town Councils managing School Boards, for he admitted that in the discussion on the Bill of last year. He himself did not believe that a Town Council was a suitable body to control the management of education.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said that it appeared to him that under this scheme the School Board districts which had declined to rate themselves were to be rewarded. Those who had promoted educational progress were to be discouraged. They were apparently going to do nothing to maintain voluntary subscriptions. The First Lord of the Treasury said every school would get some grant.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No, I distinctly said that schools that did not require a, grant would get no grant under the Bill.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
begged the First Lord's pardon. He thought the right hon. Gentleman stated that every school would get some grant, but it would be a varying grant. He at once accepted the contradiction. He understood that 1,061 Voluntary Schools at the present time received no subscriptions, 674 received subscriptions of under 1s. from voluntary sources, 1,095 under 2s. 6d., and 967 under 5s. That was to say that of the total number—14,145—of Voluntary Schools in the country, nearly one-third received subscriptions of less than 5s. The total subscriptions of the country 1381 from charitable sources amounted, he was told, to £62:2,000, almost the exact sum which Her Majesty's Government proposed to take out of the pockets of the ratepayers in order to hand it over to the managers of Church Schools. It seemed to him that the Government were endeavouring to supplant voluntary subscriptions by State money. Under the present proposals there was no cheek whatever upon the expenditure of the grant, and there was no guarantee that the money would go to the promotion of education. There was to be no local supervision. The confessional might be instituted in the schools, creeds might be taught, extraneous duties might be required of teachers and insisted upon by managers, and all at the public expense. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in introducing a deputation to the Prime Minister in November 1895, said, "We are willing to have a certain proportion of subscriptions insisted upon as a condition of grants," but the Government were not proposing that there should be any proportion of subscriptions insisted upon as a condition of their grant. No, they seemed to be callous to the interests of education and merely concerned to relieve the pockets of the wealthy supporters and managers of denominational schools. He objected to the proposals of the Government on one other ground, namely that this money came out of the taxpayers' pockets, out of the pockets of the poorer classes of the community. Seven pounds out of every £10 of taxes came from the poorer classes, and therefore it was not only a question of injustice being done to those who were interested in Board School education, but of injustice done to the taxpayers of the country. He appealed to the Government, although he knew their appeals were of very little use, before it was too late, to withdraw this proposal as it at present stood. If the Government would only deal equally between the Board Schools and Voluntary Schools, he could assure them hon. Members on the Opposition side would approach the scheme in a very different spirit from that in which they were inclined to approach it now; they would endeavour to approach what they admitted to be a difficult question in a way which would enable them to make a satisfactory and permanent, so far as it 1382 reasonably could be expected, settlement of this great question.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
My right hon. Friend the Member for Fife, early in the afternoon, stated, with his usual clearness, the position that Gentlemen on this side of the House occupy, and desire to occupy, with reference to the proposed additional grant to Voluntary Schools. We have always stated, and we state again, that to the assistance which is averred to be required—and I have no doubt is required—by Voluntary Schools, we offer no opposition if the grants are made upon conditions that are fair to other parties and in respect of the schools themselves. I may state compendiously what our position is. We take our stand upon the compromise, as it is called, or the settlement of 1870. ["Hear, hear!"] It has worked for the development of the new system of Board Schools, and it has worked certainly not injuriously to the Voluntary Schools which, year after year, have increased in their resources and in their number. Can anybody deny that the number of Voluntary Schools has increased since 1870? Well, therefore, the phrase that the Voluntary Schools, which have increased and are increasing in number every year, are being starved out of existence, is one which does not correspond at all with the facts of the case. [Cheers.] You may say that they have not the predominance you desire, you may say that they have not the monopoly of the scholars in this country, but to state that the Voluntary Schools under the operation of the settle-men of 1870 have been starved out of existence, is a statement which is absolutely contrary to the fact. We had addressed to us the other night a speech which I venture to think is amongst the most valuable which has been made in this Debate, I mean the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford. The right hon. Gentleman said:—he had always felt, and he felt it most acutely during the six years he was in the Education Department, that if in the slightest degree that machineryspeaking of the settlement of 1870—was disturbed great friction might inevitably result, leading probably to the utter disorganisation of our whole educational system.1383 Now that was the right hon. Gentleman's opinion of the danger of disturbing the machinery of the Act of 1870. He says:To-day we were in the midst of one of those educational controversies which cause deep anxiety to all who have Party instincts and deep consternation to those who had good education uppermost in their minds.I believe that is a perfectly correct description of the present situation. Why is that the situation? Because you are doing the very thing the right hon. Gentleman deprecated—namely, disturbing the machinery of the settlement of 1870. It is not to be said that we maintain there should be no modification of the Act of 1870. There was a great modification made in the year 1876, when the alteration was introduced in respect to the 17s. 6d. limit. That modification in 1876 was perfectly consistent with this principle of the Act of 1870 in regard to the necessity of voluntary subscriptions. There was a most important modification introduced in the Act of 1891 when free education was granted. But these modifications were absolutely consistent with the fundamental principles of the Act of 1870. What were those principles? The Duke of Devonshire referred to one of them, when he said that the equality between Board Schools and Voluntary Schools in respect of the Government grants was a statutory equality. It is quite obvious what the Duke of Devonshire meant. He meant that the equality created by that statute in respect of Government grants was an absolute equality between the two classes of schools. When you came to give a large additional grant of 10s. by way of free education you adhered to that principle, and you gave equally to the Board Schools and to the Voluntary Schools. Therefore, up to this time you did adhere strictly to the principles of the Act of 1870. What we maintain is that this Bill is in fundamental violation of that compromise, inasmuch as it is about to give a great grant from the Exchequer—£600,000—to one class of schools and not to the other. That is the ground upon which we condemn this Bill. We say that all the difficulties that have arisen, and will arise, with reference to this grant, come from your violation 1384 of what the Duke of Devonshire justly called the statutory equality established in 1870. The failure of the Bill last year arose from the general feeling that it would operate as a measure of hostility to the Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Our opposition to that Bill was founded on our belief that it would operate injuriously to the Board Schools, and the moment it was felt in the country that that would be its effect, the fate of that Bill was sealed. [Cheers.] Our opposition to this Bill is on the same ground, not because it favours Voluntary Schools, but because in its operation it is intended relatively to depress Board Schools. [Cheers.] That is the clear ground of our opposition to this Bill—that is the gist of our opposition. 1s it on my statement alone that this Bill is unjust in its exclusion of Board Schools? It is not the language of a political opponent; it is the language of a man who, I venture to say, has rendered more service to education in this country than any other man probably in this House. I mean the hon. Member for the Edgbaston Division of Birmingham. What is his language? Sitting actually behind the First Lord of the Treasury, the other night, he said it was a Bill of "unexpected and extraordinary injustice to the Board Schools of this country." That is not the factious language of a political opponent; it is the condemnation of a man most competent to judge on such a subject—a loyal supporter of the Government. [Cheers.] Some examples have been given of this injustice. The right hon. Member for Bodmin quoted the experience of the constituency he represented. Let me give an example of the operation of this Bill upon the constituency I have the honour to represent—West Monmouthshire. [Ironical Ministerial cheers.] Has it come to this, then, that hon. Gentlemen opposite intend to clamour down a man who states figures in the interests of his own constituents? [Opposition, cheers and Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] There is a great deal too much of this intolerance from Gentlemen on the other side. [Opposition cheers and Ministerial laughter.] We have no intention of allowing the discussion of this Bill to be treated in that manner. [Cheers.] Though we may be in a minority, we are entitled to decent treatment, and, if not with concurrence, we have at least a right 1385 to expect good manners. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall proceed, in spite of the clamour, to state the figures—[Ministerial laughter]—and if necessary I shall ask your assistance, Mr. Speaker, to enable me to proceed. [Cheers and Ministerial cries of "Go on."] You had better have the Closure at once. [Cheers.] If you are not going to have discussion in this House, have the Closure at once, and I will sit down. [Cheers and Ministerial cries of "Go on!"]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W
.—The clamour is all on your side. [Opposition cries of "Oh!" and Ministerial cheers.]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
If that is the support Members of the Cabinet—[cheers]—are going to offer their supporters—[Ministerial cries of "Order!"]—we have very little hope of discussions being carried on in a reasonable way. [Cheers.] I should have thought that at least the right hon. Gentleman would have desired that the discussion—[Ministerial laughter and cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I was not calling the right hon. Gentleman to order. I was calling to order those who were interrupting him. [Loud Opposition cheers.]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Perhaps, Sir, by your authority, I may be allowed to proceed. I am going to give the figures of the schools in West Monmouthshire and what they will receive out of this £600,000. There are two School Board districts in West Monmouthshire—one of them has in Board Schools 3,184 children, and in Voluntary Schools there are 466 children. Now, in respect of the 3,184 children, out of this £60,000 nothing will be received—["hear, hear!"]—and in respect of the 466 children there will be £116 paid. ["Hear, hear!"] In the other districts there are in the Board Schools 5,055 children, in respect of whom nothing will be paid, and there are 287 children in the Voluntary Schools, in respect of whom £72 will be paid. ["Hear, hear."] Therefore, out of a total number 1386 of children of 8,992 in a district upon which there are School Board rates paid to the extent of £10,320, the whole amount of aid grant will be £188. [Cheers.] Is that not a confirmation of what the hon. Member for the Edgbaston Division described as a case of unexpected and extraordinary injustice? I will take another not far distant district—the Rhondda Valley. In that district there are 14,500 children in Board Schools and 58 in Voluntary Schools, and that industrial valley—not a rich country at all, and with a trade that has recently not been nourishing—will receive out of this £600,000 the amount of £15. ["Hear, hear!"] That is the way in which this principle of equality will actually operate. I take three other districts together, in which there are 28,000 children in Board Schools, and in respect of whom nothing will be paid, and in which there are 1,662 children in Voluntary Schools in respect of which £416 will be paid. That is the contribution to a district which pays in School Board rates £23,000. [Cheers.] Do you expect that treatment of that kind is going to be accepted by the country? That is the history of the districts which, in consequence of their poverty, and which, in consequence of not having wealthy residents, have not Voluntary Schools, and that is what they are to receive out of this £600,000. I take you to another county with which I am also acquainted—the county of Oxfordshire. There the case is almost exactly the reverse. There are 26,000 children in Voluntary Schools, and there are 2,600 children in Board Schools. In that county what will be received out of this grant is £6,500, against the £416 given to the poorer districts in Wales. [Cheers.] Do you really think that we are going to accept a settlement of this kind as an act of justice as between the rich and poor? Is it not obvious on the face of it that the scheme of the Bill is to give to the rich districts where Voluntary Schools flourish almost all the money and to give nothing at all to the poor districts? ["Hear, hear!"and "No, no!"] These 1387 are facts that are to be known. ["Oh, oh!"] Do you deny the accuracy of these figures? They are supplied to me as, and I believe they are, absolutely correct. If they are inaccurate have them altered, but if they are correct the conclusion is inevitable. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has complained that he has been suspected of a direct intention to exclude this which is the gist of the whole matter from discussion here by the form of this financial Resolution. Well, I need scarcely assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will never hear from my mouth any imputation that he has intentionally dealt unfairly with the House. ["Hear, hear!"] But at the same time let me remind him that this imputation has come, not from us, but from his own supporters. ["Hear, hear!"] The moment this Resolution appeared political notes and leading articles in Unionist journals declared what an acute man the First Lord of the Treasury was, and complimented him upon what they call in America his "smartness," and said how cleverly he had managed to shut out the Opposition from discussing anything that might be inconvenient. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman's reproaches ought to be addressed to the proper quarter, not to us who are not the authors of these doubtful compliments. The right hon. Gentleman has said, and has repeated it over and over again, that it was not from any such intention, but from the necessary character of the Bill; but that is just what we complain of, that the Bill is framed on a principle of one-sided justice, that the Resolution reflects that injustice and shuts out of consideration matters which ought to be included. ["Hear, hear!"] Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me for saying that if he wanted to pass a Bill peaceably and quietly through the House he ought to have dealt with it in a different manner? [Laughter.] He was trying to state the case fairly. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"] I say you 1388 ought to have brought before the House, and to have enabled the House to consider, both these questions together. You have not done that, and in not doing that you have greatly retarded, and will greatly retard, a settlement of this question. You say you are suspected of injustice to Board Schools, and, of course, that suspicion is founded on your Measure of last year. Having proposed a Measure that was greatly unjust to Board Schools, and as such was defeated, you now come forward with a scheme for Voluntary Schools, deliberately abstaining from telling us what you are going to do with Board Schools. How, then, can you complain that we are suspicious of the course you will pursue towards Board Schools? But then the right hon. Gentleman said to-night that of course he did not take particular account of Board Schools because nothing was said about them at the elections; all the pledges were for Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] I dare say some right hon. Gentlemen did not say anything to their constituents, but the First Lord of the Treasury, at all events, is the last man who ought to make that statement. What has become of the East Manchester programme of the Unionist Party? ["Hear, hear!"] There was nothing in it about Voluntary Schools, but one of the 15 articles of the East Manchester programme was that all rates of Board Schools were to be paid out of the money of the Exchequer. [Opposition cheers.] And the right hon. Gentleman says he said nothing about Board Schools at the election. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"] Does he disavow this Manchester programme, this Unionist programme? ["Hear; hear!"] Well, I suppose there are recent experiences which have rather superannuated that programme. ['"Hear, hear!"] I should like to know if all the 15 articles are disavowed, or is it only this one article referring to education and Board Schools? What a wretched pretext 1389 is this now put forward for not dealing with Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] He also said to-night that we were greatly disappointed on this side of the House because the Bill was no longer such a Bill as was necessary to be carried into operation by March 31. No, Sir; we are not disappointed; I have heard Gentlemen on the other side of the House say they were. [Cheers.] But we are not disappointed at all; we are greatly pleased, because it deprives the right hon. Gentleman of the only pretext which he could have plausibly alleged for not including Board Schools. [Cheers.] At first we heard nothing of what was going to be done for Board Schools. There have been some vague insinuations as to what may or may not be done for them. There was nothing said in the opening statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, but after the first night's Debate, and after what I should call the loud uneasiness of the Borough Members on the other side of the House, it was found necessary to say something about the Board Schools, though nothing had been said at the elections. Something, therefore, was to be put forward which would quiet their discontent; and when the right hon. Member for Dartford got up and applied partly soothing and partly castigation, appropriate to his ancient profession, to the Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway, he told us that he understood that a pledge, and a perfectly distinct pledge, would be given by the Government in the course of the Debate that a similar Measure would be applied to the necessitous Board Schools. Well, we are waiting for that distinct pledge still. [Cheers.] We have some very indistinct statements, but we are as far as ever from knowing what it is the Government are really going to introduce into their Bill for the Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] If the Government have made up their minds, why do they not tell us so? They say it is more convenient to have two Bills. That is a very curious Parliamentary proceeding. ["Hear, hear!"] It was not necessary; 1390 but even if they had determined to have two Bills they might have told us the general principles which were to govern the other Bill, which was the necessary complement to the Bill they have introduced. They have been compelled by the pressure of their own supporters to hold out expectations of measures which they have never explained. I can only say that it is not a conciliatory manner of introducing this Bill or one calculated to disarm criticism. If they had only told us what sort of justice—I do not say the details or machinery by which it is done—it is what they contemplate giving to the Board Schools they would very much facilitate the passing of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] All they tell us is that they will do something for the necessitous Board Schools. Great emphasis is put upon the adjective "necessitous," but when we asked the other night that the same adjective should be applied to Voluntary Schools they said, "Oh, no; that is quite out of the question." ["Hear, hear"] What is the meaning of that? It shows they do not mean to deal with Board Schools upon the same terms as they are dealing with Voluntary Schools. [Cheers.] The very introduction of that limitation shows perfectly well that equal justice is not to be meted out to the two classes of schools. Are they going, in the words of the right hon. Member for Dartford, to give "similar treatment to the two schools?" Until you tell us that you cannot expect to get on with this Bill. We have a right to demand that we should be told if the Government mean similar treatment to be given to the two classes of schools and an equivalent grant. ["Hear, hear!"] What was the plan for the Voluntary Schools? I think at last we understand it very well. They are going to give 5s. a head—that is the measure of the grant—for all children in average attendance in all the Voluntary Schools; and then they have got machinery for distributing that. Are they going to give to the Board Schools 1391 5s. a head upon the children in average attendance and distribute that? [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] They are not. Very well. We understand, at all events, what they are not going to do, but they have not told us what they are going to do. The right hon. Gentleman has explained to us how he is going to distribute the £600,000 among the necessitous Voluntary Schools. I will not at this time of night go into the extraordinary plan of the voluntary associations which are not voluntary, but which are penalised. I will not inquire into the happy concert of these boards when they meet together, and some of whom, as the right hon. Gentleman has just explained, are to get nothing at all and others a great deal. They are to advise the Education Department, and the Education Department is to settle the quarrels among those contending voluntary associations. ["Hear, hear!"] We shall no doubt have some very amusing discussions upon this extraordinary plan, which seems to be a special favourite of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman himself has any very special acquaintance with the working of the Education Department. I should rather like, and I think the House is entitled to have the opinion of the Minister responsible—[loud cheers and laughter]—for the Education Department upon the happy prospects of this ingenious system. When the time comes no doubt he will be put forward to defend it; but, in the meanwhile, and until I have heard the vindication of this scheme, I shall adhere to the opinion expressed on the first night of the Debate by the hon. Member for Islington—that it is a plan which will be impracticable and unworkable, and will disappear before Committee. [Cheers.]
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I never said anything of the sort. I referred to the way in which the money was to be distributed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
That is the very thing. [Cheers.] The money is 1392 to be divided amongst these voluntary penalised associations under the advice and control of the Minister responsible for education in this House. The hon. Gentleman does not deny that that is the opinion he formed of this plan, and I entirely concur in that opinion. When I asked: "What are you going to do for the Board Schools?" the right hon. Gentleman said that he could not put it into the same Bill, because it would require different machinery. Surely you might have different machinery in the same Bill, but I hope it will be more reasonable and rational machinery. ["Hear, hear!"] But I did not ask about the machinery; I asked, "Are you going to give to the Board Schools pro rata out of this Government grant the amount that is due to them—5s. per head?" That is what is demanded by the principles of the compromise of 1870. ["No!"] Yes, it is; and that is what you decline to give. When you gave the 10s. grant for free education you gave to all schools alike without discrimination. You gave to Board Schools, to Voluntary Schools, and to rich and poor schools alike. [Cheers.] That has been, and is, the statutory equality of which the head of the Education Department spoke, and the extraordinary thing is that every principle and every detail in this Bill is contrary to the opinion of the chief and the second in the Education Department at this moment. [Cheers.] We want a reply to that question. If it is "No," and if I understand the Colonial Secretary's interjection, you do not—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; I have not interjected anything. [Cheers.]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I thought I had ascertained from an interjection of the right hon. Gentleman that it is not the intention of the Government to give to the Board Schools on the same footing. ["Hear, hear!"] But let us see how—and that is the really important matter—how much you are going to set aside for the Board Schools. You told us that 1393 you were going to set aside as much as the Chancellor of the Exchequer could spare. If that is so, of course the Manchester programme is abandoned. When the right hon. Gentleman came in contact with the Chancellor of the Exchequer he found the Manchester programme was not practicable. [Cheers.] What the Chancellor of the Exchequer could spare was £600,000. That is going to be given to the Voluntary Schools. What remains, then, for the Board Schools? Last year you could scrape up £2,000,000, and you gave it to the agricultural interest and left the towns to wait for what they could get. ["Hear, hear!"] You are proceeding upon the same policy now. You are going to sweep up for your favoured friends everything that can be got, and the Board Schools are to wait and see what is left for them. I commend that to the consideration of the boroughs. [Cheers.] This is the second time they have been left out in the cold and told to wait. First the towns were told to wait for assistance in their general rates, and now the towns are to wait for assistance in their rates under the School Boards; but gentlemen who are the fortunate owners of land—they get their £2,000,000 down on the nail; and those gentlemen who are the principal promoters and proprietors of Voluntary Schools, they get their £600,000 in cash down. [Cheers.] But for the rest, the towns, with their heavy rates, they are to wait. It will be all swept up by the two classes who have the advantage of being favoured by Gentlemen opposite. These are the things we ought to be told. We ought to be told what residue you mean to devote for the benefit of the Board Schools. I should like to ask why is the public money, to the extent of £600,000, to be given specially to districts which have refused to rate themselves—[cheers]—which decline to subscribe, and none is to be given to districts like those in West Monmouth and Cornwall and many others which have made the greatest sacrifices to support Board 1394 Schools? This question ought to be answered—[cheers]—and we should understand exactly what is the policy of the Government in the matter. Then the right hon. Gentleman, I suppose with a view to shorten their Debates and add to their tranquillity, dragged in Walthamstow, and asked me whether I thought this Bill had anything to do with it.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
If the right hon. Gentleman wants to know, I will tell him why. I was interested to know whether Walthamstow was influenced by the creed of the right hon. Gentleman last year on the effect of the relief of the rates, or whether by his creed of this year, which is exactly the opposite. [Laughter and cheers.]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
As the right hon. Gentleman has introduced a subject of which I confess I know something, and attributes to my and your creed—[turning to the Opposition Benches]—an influence which he supposes it has had in the result which we have witnessed in the polling at Walthamstow—if my creed has had that result I am proud—[cheers]—I have some information at his disposal, and I will tell him what that information comes to. This Bill had a great deal to do with the election at Walthamstow, not only in its educational aspect, but specially because it is another example of that pernicious spirit of class legislation—[cheers]—which the present. Government have persistently promoted since they have been in office. [Renewed cheers.] You began with the Agricultural Rating Bill under which you gave two millions of money to one class; under this Bill you are going to give £600,000 to another class. These are the illustrations of the policy you are pursuing; that is the creed which has destroyed you in Walthamstow. [Cheers.] 1395 And you may add to it the miserable failure of your social legislation as instanced in the Truck Bill and the Conciliation Bill. [Renewed cheering.] That is what has destroyed you in Walthamstow. The right hon. Gentleman challenges me to discuss the question of the incidence of rates. That is "a large order" at this time of night. But as the right hon. Gentleman has challenged me I will give him a brief answer. I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman has ever made the doctrine of rates his special study. He has a colleague on that bench, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is one of the greatest authorities upon it, and if he would address himself to him he would receive a far clearer explanation of his difficulties than I can venture to offer. But I will tell him as well and as shortly as I can that everything I have ever said on the subject of rates last year is precisely identical with that which I have said and intended to say with reference to rates on this occasion. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] That is the way you meet me when I am going to answer a question of the right hon. Gentleman. In dealing with the rates last year, first of all you dealt with the rates of only one class, not of all classes. That is the complaint I make of you under this Bill—you deal with only one interest and not with both. Then the right hon. Gentleman said truly that I had said the agricultural rate fell on the owner. So it does. Let him ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is a great authority on the subject. He is the author of the doctrine of the hereditary rate. He pointed out how all the old rates which for the most part prevail in the agricultural districts fell on the owner, and distinguished from them the new rates, and especially the education rates, which fell on the occupier, and which prevail especially in the towns. He evidently does not know the elements of the doctrine of rating. If the right hon. Gentleman could only procure the work of the First 1396 Lord of the Admiralty—[laughter]—he would there find all about the doctrines of rating. One of the great canons laid down by the First Lord of the Admiralty is, that the rate had a different incidence in the country and in the town. In the country comparatively little falls upon the rate for Board Schools, whilst a great deal falls upon it in the towns. Therefore it is obvious that the relief ought to be given chiefly in the towns, and not in the country; and yet you have gone and given your relief where the rates are low in the rural, and none where the rates are high in the eastern districts. ["Hear, hear!"] If the right hon. Gentleman does not understand this, it is thoroughly understood in Walthamstow—[cheers]—where they have the most practical reasons for understanding it; and if the right hon. Gentleman had to pay the education rate that they pay in Walthamstow, he would understand it too. I have now—I hope without unduly occupying the time of the House—[cries of "Oh!"and cheers]—indicated my views on the subject of rates, and I have also indicated to the right hon. Gentleman where he can obtain that fuller information of which he stands much in need. [Laughter.] Then you say that you prefer two Bills to one. That is a matter of taste, but it is a procedure that will occupy very much more time. However, as long as you intend to conceal what you purpose to do for the Board Schools, we shall persist in endeavouring to extract from you that information, and what fund you intend to set apart for the purpose. ["Hear, hear!"] You say you are going to introduce a Bill for the Board Schools. The right hon. Gentleman the other day spoke in a tone of virtuous indignation because the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton had suggested that it was possible that that Bill might come to grief in another place. I do not see that that could be intended as an imputation upon the Government unless, 1397 indeed, it is taken for granted and asserted that the Government have got the House of Lords in their pockets. I do not know that that would be a very discreet assertion to make—["hear, hear!"]—and there were indications last year that it is not always the case. But there is a much more immediate danger to any Bill that provides funds to do justice to Board Schools, and that comes from a large section of the supporters of the Government in this House. Do they desire that equal justice should be done to the Board Schools? I should like very much to know the opinion of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, and of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, par nobile fratrum. According to the language we have always heard from them, what they desire is to destroy the competition of the Board Schools; but if you give equal justice to both kinds of schools you do not destroy that competition. At the great Church conference which he attended the noble Lord opposite protested against the resolution for giving equal aid to Board Schools and Voluntary Schools, to which he would only consent on the condition of rate-aid. But then he is not going to have rate-aid. If the noble Lord will now get up in his place and say that he desires a Bill that will give equal aid to Board Schools and Voluntary Schools, then I might believe in the probable success of a Bill in favour of the Board Schools. But if he will not, and I do not think it likely that he will, the obstruction to that Bill will come from the benches below the Gangway opposite. Well, that Bill is to be introduced late in the Session, and what assurance have we that such a Bill as that would ever pass into law? I am extremely sceptical on that subject, and it is the fault of the Government that we are sceptical on this subject. If they have made up their minds as to what they are going to do, why do not they give us more information? If they would tell us what are the principles upon which they are about to deal with the Board Schools, if they 1398 would give us some satisfactory assurance, they might then get on with this Bill. There is one other point to which I must refer. I was going to say that if the Government will join these two Measures together—not, if you like, in the same Bill—but if they will only have what is called a "bi-metallic tie "—although I should not like to have the bi-metallic principle applied where one party gets the gold and the other the silver—[laughter]—if they will do that we shall be thankful. But if they will not do that we must, of course, offer resistance to a Measure which otherwise we might be willing to support. [Ministerial cries of "Oh."] When the right hon. Gentleman makes an assertion I accept it, as I feel bound to accept it, because those are the good manners of the House of Commons. But wiry should there not be a reciprocation of the compliment, and why when I make a statement of that kind should it be met with jeers and clamours? [Cheers.] It used not to be so when I knew the House of Commons first. The behaviour then was extremely different from what it is now, and I must be excused if I prefer the ancient manners of the House of Commons to those now in vogue. [Cheers.] The second principle which was enshrined in the settlement of 1870 was that Voluntary Schools should always be called upon to make subscriptions of a substantial character. That was the object of the 17s. 6d. limit. You are going to remove it. What security are you about to give for the voluntary subscriptions?. Is it not a remarkable fact, considering what a capital point this is in the whole question that the right hon. Gentleman, in his opening speech, did not say a word about it? He spoke for half an hour expounding the, details of this wonderful voluntary association, but on those securities to be given for voluntary subscriptions, he was silent. [Cheers.] The right hon. Member for Dartford said—he could not but allude to the question of subscriptions to Voluntary Schools. It was perfectly obvious that they must not allow this Measure 1399 to go forward as a relief to subscribers of Voluntary Schools. ['Hear, hear!'] He thought it should he a sine quâ non in all cases in which assistance was to he given to the locality that there should he some guarantee on the part of the locality that the existing subscriptions should he maintained.Everybody feels that is one of the vital and most fundamental conditions of this great question, and on that the Government are absolutely silent. [Cheers]. That carries with it another vital principle, and that is the question of popular control. [Cheers]. Why is it that the Voluntary Schools are allowed to be conducted without popular control? Is it on the ground of their voluntary subscriptions? [Cheers.] But you are attempting, so far as we know, to get rid of the necessity for voluntary subscriptions and yet to exclude popular control. There again this Bill runs directly and diametrically contrary to the fundamental principles of the Act of 1870. I confess that I heard with great satisfaction the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo as to popular control. On the part of the Roman Catholic Church, which is not less denominational than the English Church, he declared in favour of the principle of popular contral. ["Hear, hear!"] Why, I should like to ask, is the Anglican Communion more afraid of the people than the Church of Rome in this country? [Cheers.] Yet this is a most important declaration made by the hon. Member for East Mayo, and I have seen it made in public by Cardinal Vaughan—
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Yes, and by all the Bishops. Here then are the Bishops of the Church of Rome who are not afraid of the people—[Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh!" and counter cheers]—while the Bishops and the clergy of the Church of England are the enemies of popular control. ["No, no "and cheers.] Then you are willing to accept popular control. [Cheers.] We must 1400 ascertain, it is clear, how that matter stands. If the Government want this Bill to pass easily let them be frank with the House; let them tell us what they are going to do with the Board Schools. It is not a question of the stopping of their legislation with reference to Voluntary Schools; we have no power of moving Amendments in favour of the Board Schools; but they cannot be surprised that, in the obscurity in which they keep the question, we and the country should believe they are not going to mete out equal treatment to the two kinds of schools. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a permanent settlement; he said that he wished for a permanent settlement. I think that every one wishes for a permanent and friendly settlement. [Cheers.] But the right hon. Gentleman knows, and every one knows, that there cannot be a permanent settlement unless we come to an understanding. I might appeal to the principle of your Conciliation Bill, which is to bring the two parties together in order that they might respectively exchange their view. If the right hon. Gentleman or his friends were to come forward and tell us how—I do not say in detail, but generally—they are going to deal with the Board Schools, then there is a possibility, nay, a high probability—though we might differ as to details—that a settlement of this question might be arrived at; and then, instead of that friction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartmouth so greatly deplores, we should have a friendly discussion across the floor as to the method of dealing with both classes of schools. I must say if the Government persist in holding back their intention—["No!"] Why do you say "No"? Do you imagine you know? If so, the Gentleman who says "No," must have had some private communications from the Government. [Laughter]. Can anybody pretend that the Government have told us what they are going 1401 to do for the Board Schools, how much money they propose to set apart for them, and on what principle they are going to deal with them I Let the Government make those declarations and then we shall have some hope that these discussions upon education will be conducted in the spirit we all desire they should he conducted, and the House of Commons will he able to act without any friction or Party feeling in discharge of its duties in regard to this great subject. [Cheers.]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
At this late hour of the evening I certainly should not have presumed to detain the House more than a few minutes, but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, be felt by the House to deserve some reply. [Cheers.] I think on the whole we are indebted to him for that speech. Of course I am a prejudiced listener, but I thought it was a bit discursive—[laughter]—and that some parts were a little superfluous. ["Hear, hear!"] I thought it was quite unnecessary that the right hon. Gentleman should lecture the House of Commons in the spirit of Mr. Turveydrop upon its deportment. [Laughter.] It seemed to mo not to deserve the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to it. But I think we are indebted to the right hon. Gentleman, because there was after all in his speech an indication of the main issue, which he, at all events, wishes to be considered as the question between the two sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman tell us, as many Members on that side of the House have told us, that they are quite willing to give assistance to necessitous Voluntary Schools. They have shown their willingness by obstructing this Bill. [Cheers and laughter.] But while the right hon. Gentleman is deeply attached to the future of Voluntary Schools, and while he is desirous to go as far as the Government in preserving them from extinction, he is afraid lest we should do an injustice to the Board School system; and he said that the great object of his 1402 Party is to prevent us from depressing the Board Schools and from infringing the principle of equality which was set up by the Act of 1870. Equality is a very fine thing, but it requires a little definition; and I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman means by equality between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools of the country. [Cheers.] The Voluntary Schools and the Board Schools are, as he says, at present absolutely equal in regard to their claims upon the Imperial Exchequer.—[cheers]—and the Voluntary Schools cannot get a penny from the rates. Is that equality?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I was speaking of equality as established by the Act of 1870 and as defined by the Duke of Devonshire. [Cheers.]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman is always anxious to throw off responsibility upon absent people. [Cheers and laughter.] I know nothing about what the Duke of Devonshire may have said on this particular point. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] But I will answer for him to this extent—that he never said and never pretended and thought that the condition of things as between Board Schools and Voluntary Schools were equal in regard to the rates. [Cheers.] That is one point then as to which equality has to be specially defined before we can call it equality at all. It is equality in inequality as defined by the Act of 1870, which never pretended to be equal. ["Hear, hear!"] But that is not all. The Board Schools at the present time have under the Act of 1870 recourse to extra assistance from the State when they are necessitous. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman spoke as the Member for West Monmouth; and he has studied some extracts bearing upon the educational condition of West Monmouth. But he has not gone far enough. I do not know whether he went as far as what I am going to tell him. Last year the Board Schools of Monmouthshire were either paid or there 1403 was payable to them £1,400 over and above the grant—[cheers]—under the exceptional clause of the Act. Is that equality? [Cheers.] Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to pay at the same rate to all the Voluntary Schools of the country? Why, Sir. we are removing inequalities. [Cheers, and Opposition cries of "Oh!"] I am almost afraid to say it, but we are an equalising and a levelling Government. [Laughter.] Now we go a step further. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is quite in favour of assisting Voluntary Schools which are in danger of extinction. That is the object of this Bill. [Cheers and ironical laughter.] We are so far carrying out the earnest desires of the right hon. Gentleman. [Laughter.] Then why does he denounce us for a job? Why does he denounce us for class legislation? Why does he say we are giving this money to our friends?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Sir, it is absolutely untrue. We are not giving it to our friends. [Cheers and cries of "Oh!"] I doubt very much whether hon. Gentlemen opposite are logicians. [Laughter.] They are admirable politicians and partisans, because they cheer everything that comes from their Leader. [A LIBERAL MEMBER, "We stick to our own side."] When we gave relief to agriculture, if it were true, as the right hon. Gentleman contended, that that relief went to the landlords—which we always deny—[cheers]—but if that relief went to the landlords, you might truly say we gave it to our friends, because it went into the landlords' pockets. But into whose pockets will this grant go? Who will be peculiarly and particularly benefited by the grant to Voluntary Schools? [Opposition cries of "The Parsons."] No, it is not. The people who will benefit by the grant are the whole community of the ratepayers. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman talks about the ratepayers being injured 1404 by this grant to the Voluntary Schools, as if we were taking money from the taxes of the country and putting it into the pockets of private individuals. We are doing nothing of the kind. [Cheers.] Let me take a concrete instance. Here is Birmingham, about which I know as much—well, as the right hon. Gentleman knows about West Monmouthshire. [Loud laughter.] We have got School Boards in Birmingham. We are proud of it. We are proud of the Board Schools of Birmingham as institutions of the town, and anything that was calculated to depress them or to do any injustice to them would be resented by every elector in the town. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
That is why the Chairman of the School Board voted against you. [Loud Opposition cheers.]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The Chairman of that Board is a follower of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he is not in the House. [Prolonged Ministerial cheers and laughter.] I am not afraid to face my constituency on this subject, I have done so already. [Cheers.] What is the state of the case in Birmingham? It is, that while we have Board Schools which deal with the larger proportion of the children of the city, we have also very efficient Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] I doubt very much whether there will be a large claim on behalf of the necessitous Voluntary Schools in Birmingham. ["Hear, hear!"] But if these Schools were necessitous, and if they were allowed to be extinguished, the result would be that the School Rate, which at the present moment in Birmingham is 1s. 0½d. in the pound, would be raised to 1s. 9d. [Cheers.] The question for the ratepayers, which I have put before them, and by which I am content to stand or fall, is whether they would prefer to give a small grant as contributions to the Voluntary Schools, in order to preserve these schools from extinction, or whether they would pay 1405 1s. 9d. in the pound as school rate in order to have a theoretically complete and uniform system? [Cheers.] And what is the position of the right hon. Gentleman? Although he goes out of his way most unnecessarily to taunt us with motives in this matter, he agrees with our conclusion and object, and is willing to give the money which is necessary to preserve the Voluntary Schools from extinction; but he says there must he equality in regard to the Board Schools. [Opposition cheers.] I quite agree. Only, perhaps, my definition of equality may be somewhat different from that of the right hon. Gentleman. [Laughter.] Are the Board Schools in the same position as the Voluntary Schools? The Voluntary School has no resource beyond the Government grant and the voluntary subscription. If those two are exhausted and its funds are still insufficient, it must go to the wall. What is the position of the Board School? The Board School has the grant, and it has in addition the almost bottomless purse of the ratepayer—["hear, hear!"]—and, Sir, until you can show in regard to the Board School that the purse of the ratepayer is not bottomless, or, at all events, that the demand on the purse of the ratepayer has already gone to the extreme limit of justice, you cannot pretend that the Board Schools are necessitious. [Cheers.] It is perfectly absurd—perfectly absurd. You contend in Birmingham, for instance, where there is now a shilling rate, that you are called upon to come to the aid of the ratepayers of Birmingham, and to give us 5s. a head upon all the children in the Board Schools, Well, Sir, we never asked for anything of the kind, but if we did, and if that is your view, what is that you are doing? What is it that is proposed? It is not a grant to Board Schools. I do not see my hon. Friend and colleague the Member for the Edgbaston Division hero, but it is not as he seemed to suppose a question of Board Schools against Voluntary Schools—the Board Schools in any case are safe—but it a question between the ratepayer and the Imperial 1406 taxpayer. ["Hear, hear!"] The question is not in any district as to whether the Board School should be extinguished—that is impossible; but the question is whether a particular ratepayer should be burdened beyond what is just, and whether in his case an additional charge should be thrown upon the Imperial taxpayer. ["Hear, hear!"] Now, if I have made that clear the whole case of the right hon. Gentleman falls to the ground. [Cheers.] My hon. Friend the Member for the Edgbaston Division, whose capacity, whose interest in the subject, and whose convictions on the subject we all respect, rested his argument upon the fact that the Board Schools and Board School education is going to be injured. I say that is absolutely impossible. I say that there is nothing in this Bill, if it were to be passed to-morrow, that could by any possibility damage or put in a worse position than now any single Board School in the country. As to whether ratepayers in certain Board School districts are being unfairly taxed, that is a question which is well worthy the attention of the House of Commons, and to which the Government have promised to call your attention. But to put the two things in the same scale, to say that one thing cannot be dealt with without the other, is to attempt to compare two things which are incomparable, and is surely absurd and a fraud upon the intelligence of the House. (Cheers.) Let me make my way clear so far as I have gone. I think I have shown that, whatever may be the case for the poor Board schools, it does not affect the Board school education; it is a totally different question; it is an economic question; it is the ratepayers' question. ["Hear, hear!"] Very well; then I say we are entitled to deal with it separately, we are entitled to deal with it at a separate time; and we are entitled, if we like, to put it second; but we have not attempted to put it second, except in point of time. [Ironical Opposition cheers]. Well, our time is not wholly our own. [Laughter.] But we at all events pledge ourselves to this—if hon. Gentlemen opposite will give us reasonable time we will deal with this matter, 1407 even although it is not as I have shown, as urgent and as pressing, and we will deal with it in the same Session. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, that is not enough for us. We are of a suspicious disposition. [Laughter.[We do not trust you." [Opposition cheers.] We never asked for your confidence. [Loud Ministerial cheers.] "No," says the right hon. Gentleman,we must have assurances. We must see your Bill. Bring your Bill before us. Lay it on the table. Let us see what it is, and then you cannot conceive what success we will bring you, how we will rush through this Bill, what room we will make for the other legislation, for those social reforms which we are taunting you with not bringing forward.I confess that nothing amuses me more than the different views which the right hon. Gentleman takes according to the quarter of the House in which he sits. [Ironical laughter.] Why, Sir, we are to bring forward this Bill which does not deal pari materia with the other; we are to bring it forward at the same time; produce it and show it. The right hon. Gentleman was, I think, in the Cabinet which brought forward the last Reform Bill. Does he remember the position which he and the Government of Mr. Gladstone took upon that occasion with regard to Redistribution and the Franchise? ["Hear, hear!"] He was challenged then to produce his Redistribution of Seats Bill before he went on with the Franchise Bill. He absolutely refused to do so, and why did he refuse? Because, he said, the Opposition of that day would use the Redistribution Bill to delay the Franchise Bill. He said, "We will get our Franchise Bill through and then we will produce the Redistribution Bill," and we say the same. [Cheers.] We well get our Voluntary Schools Bill through before we produce the other Bill; but when we produce our Board School Bill we will deal equally with it in this sense—where there is a necessitous Board School, and a necessitous Board School district, we will give it adequate assistance, and, having done that, we shall have done exactly the same for the Board School that we are now doing for the Voluntary School. I have only one word more to say before I sit down. I confess I looked forward to the right hon. Gentleman's speech with especial interest, for I 1408 expected an apologia from him on the subject of the inconsistency with which he has been charged. Sir, the consistency of the right hon. Gentleman is one of the priceless possessions of the House of Commons. [Laughter and long and continued Opposition ironical cheers.] I regret that the explanation he gave was not entirely satisfactory to my mind. He was challenged with saying that grants that go in relief of the rates were relief of the landlord.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I said the relief under the Agricultural Rates Act was relief of the landlords.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, the right hon. Gentleman was charged with saying that the relief of the rates was relief of the landlord in the case of the Agricultural Rates Act. It is curious that the Agricultural Bates Bill dealt with all these rates, and it dealt with the very poor districts with which we are going to deal with in this Bill. It is a most singular thing that the right hon. Gentleman now endeavours to establish a difference between the position of the identical ratepayer in the case of the Agricultural Rates Bill and in the case of this Bill. He says that when a man receives, say, 6d. from the Agricultural Rates Bill it goes immediately through him into the pocket of the landlord; and when he receives 6d. out of this Bill it stops in his own pocket. [A laugh.] That is an explanation which I do not understand, and which to me explains nothing. [Laughter.] It appears to me that the argument is clear that the incidence of the rate must be the same in all cases, and if it goes into the pocket of the landlord in the case of the Agricultural Relief Bill, it goes into it equally in this case. Of course the right hon. Gentleman will say that I have made no special study of this subject. I imagine that knowledge on it is confined exclusively to the right hon. Gentleman and to my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. [Laughter.] I am convinced of this—I could find many speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite in which he has again and again alluded to this view of his—that the rate falls ultimately not upon the occupier, but on the man behind him. And although it may be convenient for the purposes of argument, it is nevertheless extremely illogical to apply a different 1409 test to the two Bills. Sir, the moral of this Debate is this—that, although it may be lawful to learn from an enemy, it would be extremely unwise to take their advice. [Cheers and laughter.] We have our own course to pursue; we are governed by our own pledges—[cheers and counter-cheers]—and we shall proceed to carry them out. [Cheers.] We have brought in a Bill which will give effect to one pledge that appeared in the great majority of the addresses of our own party; which will save the Voluntary Schools from extinction, and bring aid, and adequate aid, where it is most needed. We know that this Bill is an effective way of securing that object, and we believe that, making all allowance for Parliamentary procedure, it is the quickest way. We are quite certain that we shall not hasten our procedure or improve the prospects of our policy by accepting the advise of the right hon. Gentleman and bringing in another Bill at the same time. [Loud cheers.]
MR. JOHN McLEOD (Sutherland)
on rising was received with loud cries of "Divide." After a vain effort to make himself heard, the hon. Member shouted out, "Mr. Speaker, I beg to move the Adjournment of the Debate." [Ministerial laughter and Opposition cheers.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I could not put that question. [Ministerial cheers.] At the same time I hope the House will give a hearing to the hon. Gentleman. [Opposition cheers.]
said he desired to call attention to a matter that was of very great, even of supreme, importance to the part of the country from which he came—namely, where Scotland came in in this matter. That question had not been answered during the Debate. On Monday evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer made an explanation to the effect that there was to be no equivalent grant to Scotland in regard to the grant from public funds to voluntary schools in England. On the following day a question was put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject by a supporter of the Government, and he then replied that whilst the Treasury did not admit that Scotland had a right to an equivalent grant they would be prepared to give fair aid to primary education. 1410 But primary education was already provided for in Scotland. ["Hear, hear!"] This meant getting no aid at all. The statement that Scotland was not entitled to an equivalent grant was entirely out with the facts. How the matter stood was laid down by the late Mr. Craig Sellar in his "Manual on the Education Acts." The hon. Gentleman then quoted from Mr. Sellar. It was perfectly clear therefore that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was entirely wrong in saying that the Treasury were never committed to an equivalent grant for education in Scotland; as a matter of fact in every single case where a grant in aid had been made to Scotland a portion had been devoted to educational purposes. It was impossible for a Scotch Member to be too early in taking exception to the dictum of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he made his protest against what he thought a most iniquitous proceeding on the part of the Government. [Interruptions which rendered the HON. MEMBER inaudible.] He did not pretend to be an educacational authority or a financial expert, and English Members must settle the matter of giving aid to denominational schools with their constituents, but as a Scotch Member, he would feel himself unworthy of a seat in the House if he did not protest in the most emphatic manner against a proposal to do Scotland out of her equivalent grant. The House was aware that, in the financial relations between England, Scotland, and Ireland, Scotland was at a much greater disadvantage even than Ireland.
regretted that he had trespassed. Still the point he wished to make was this, that in his humble judgment the House should show more than ordinary consideration in this matter, inasmuch as, according to general opinion, Scotland had been very hardly treated in other financial relations. [Loud cries of "Divide"] He again asserted the claim of Scotland for an equivalent grant for the aid of secondary education, and appealed in turn to the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Solicitor General, to make some statement before they asked even their own Scottish 1411 supporters to vote for a proposal which would extract money from the Scottish taxpayer without returning any equivalent.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said1412
§ Resolution:—The House divided; Ayes, 283, Noes 99.
§ The announcement of the figures was received with loud Ministerial cheers. (Division List—No. 17—appended.)1413
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Aird, John||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hardy, Laurence|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Currie, Sir Donald||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.)||Havelock-Allan, General Sir H.|
|Arnold, Alfred||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Heath, James|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh||Helder, Augustus|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dane, Richard M.||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth||Darling, Charles John||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arthur (Down)|
|Bagot, Capt. Joceline FitzRoy||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampstead)|
|Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dillon, John||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hornby, William Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Doogan, P. C.||Holdsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Balfour, Gerald William (Leeds)||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Howell, William Tudor|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn|
|Barry, A. H. Smith-(Hunts.)||Drage, Geoffrey||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bartley, George, C. T.||Drucker, A.||Hunt, Sir Frederick Seager|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Isaacson, Frederick Wootton|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Edwards, Gen. Sir James Bevan||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Bemrose, Henry Howe||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bethell, Commander||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jessell, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Bhownaggree, M. M.||Fielden, Thomas||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bigwood, James||Finch, George H.||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)|
|Bill, Charles||Finch-Hatton, Hon. Harold H.||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George|
|Bolitho, Thomas Bedford||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kemp, George|
|Bond, Edward||Fairbank, Joseph Thomas||Kenny, William|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Fisher, William Hayes||Kenrick, William|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose||Kenyon, James|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Flannery, Fortescue||Kilbride, Denis|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Fletcher, Sir Henry||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Flower, Ernest||Knowles, Lees|
|Butcher, John George||Folkestone, Viscount||Knox, Edmund Francis Vesey|
|Campbell, James A.||Foster, Henry William||Lafone, Alfred|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lawrence, Edwin (Cornwall)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh||Galloway, William Johnson||Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Garfit, William||Lecky, William Edward H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.)||Gedge, Sydney||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.)||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swansea)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. (Essex)|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Gilhooly, James||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gilliat, John Saunders||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)|
|Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth)||Godson, Augustus Frederick||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lorne, Marquess of|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gordon, John Edward||Lowles, John|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. G'rg's.)||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||MacAleese, Daniel|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. (Athole)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne (Beds.)||Graham, Henry Robert||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Maclean, James Mackenzie|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Green, Walford D. (Wdnesbury)||Maclure, John William|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Greville, Captain||M'Calmont, Maj.-Gn. (Ant'm. N)|
|Cox, Robert||Gull, Sir Cameron||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Gunter, Colonel||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)|
|Crean, Eugene||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||M'Killop, James|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Malcolm, Ian|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Rankin, James||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Milbank, Powlett Charles John||Rentoul, James Alexander||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Miller, Sir Frederick George||Richardson, Thomas||Talbot, John G. (Oxford. Univ.)|
|Milward, Colonel Victor||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W.||Taylor, Francis|
|Monckton, Edward Philip||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson||Thornburn, Walter|
|Monk, Charles James||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants)||Roche, Hon. James (East Kerry)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Roche, John (East Galway)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|More, Robert Jasper||Round, James||Valentia, Viscount|
|Mount, William George||Russell, Col. F. S. (Cheltenham)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Murdoch, Charles Townshend||Russell, Sir George (Berkshire)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Warkworth, Lord|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Rutherford, John||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Myers, William Henry||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of Wight)|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Saunderson, Col. Edw. James||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford||Savory, Sir Joseph||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Scobel, Sir Andrew Richard||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)||Seely, Charles Hilton||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Seton-Karr, Henry||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|O'Malley, William||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm.)|
|O'Niell, Hon. Robert Torrens||Sheehy, David||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Willox, John Archibald|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh. N.)|
|Pease, Arthur (Darlington)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wodehouse, Edmond R. (Bath)|
|Penn, John||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wortley Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Pinkerton, John||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Younger, William|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Pollock, Harry Frederick||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Sir|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||William Walrond and Mr.|
|Prettyman, Capt. Ernest George||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Anstruther.|
|Purvis, Robert||Strauss, Arthur|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. A. H. Dyke||Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)|
|Allen, Wm. (New.-under-Lyme)||Griffiths, Ellis J.||Perks, Robert William|
|Arch, Joseph||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Heny.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Pirie, Captain Duncan Vernon|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Harrison, Charles||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hazell, Walter||Randell, David|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Birrell, Augustine||Holburn, J. G.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Roberts John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Brigg, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jacoby, James Alfred||Robson, William Snowden|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Joicey, Sir James||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Scott, Charles Prestwich|
|Burt, Thomas||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sinclair, Captain John (Forfar)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Spicer, Albert|
|Caldwell, James||Lambert, George||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Cameron, Robert||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land.)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Colville, John||Lloyd-George, David||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Lockwood, Sir Frank (York)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.|
|Davies, W. Rees-(Pembrokesh.)||Logan, John William||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lough, Thomas||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Doughty, George||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dunn, Sir William||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||M'Ewan, William||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Evans, Sir Francis H. (South'on)||M'Leod, John||Woodall, William|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Maden, John Henry||Woods, Samuel|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Morton, Edward John Chalmers||Thomas Ellis and Mr. R. K.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir Hnry. (Wol'n)||Oldroyd, Mark||Causton.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Gorst, the Solicitor-General, and myself.
Bill to provide for a Grant out of the Exchequer in aid of Voluntary Elementary Schools, and for the exemption from rates of those schools, and to repeal part of Section 19 of The Elementary Education Act 1876; presented accordingly, amid renewed Ministerial cheers, and Read the First time; to be Read the Second time upon Thursday next, and to be printed—[Bill 119.]