HC Deb 21 July 1897 vol 51 cc652-7

Section sixty-seven of the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 shall have effect as if the sum of seven shillings and sixpence therein mentioned were increased by the sum of fourpence for every complete penny by which the school rate therein mentioned exceeded threepence, but not beyond a maximum of sixteen shillings and sixpence. Provided always that during the year ending the fifteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight, the increased additional grant payable to any school board under this section shall suffer abatement to the extent of one third in respect of the period between the fifteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, and the twenty-ninth day of September, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight.

On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,


moved to leave out the words "therein mentioned." This was, he said, merely a drafting Amendment. There was a mention of the year in the English Bill and the rate during the year "herein mentioned." There was no mention of t he year in the Scotch Bill, and, therefore, it was not necessary to retain these words.


saw no reason why the words should be taken out. There was a description of the rate in the clause, and he could not make out why the words "therein mentioned" would not be inserted in the Bill.


said he might explain further if the hon. Gentleman thought it necessary. The whole produce of a rate of not less than 3d. had always been interpreted as being the produce of a 3d. rate. To leave out the words "therein mentioned" would leave no margin for discussion.

Amendment agreed to.


moved to leave out "ninety-eight" and to insert "ninety-seven."

Amendment agreed to.

On the question "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,"


complained that the Bill made no distinction between the Highland and Lowland areas, although there was a great distinction in the administrative treatment of the two parts of the country. It would be deplorable if the grants were to be given under a cast-iron system which had been imported from England. It would be deeply regretted if there should be any withdrawal. Irma the Highland schools of the money already devoted to higher education. He did not propose to move the rejection of the clause, but it was manifest that this clause was not made in the Scotch Office, and that it was brought in not with the purpose of attending to the specific needs of education as a whole in Scotland, but to introduce a symmetry which was not only reactionary but absurd. A serious danger would be encountered unless the undertaking given by the right hon. Gentleman on the Second Reading, that the grants made under this clause, were not to be used for the purpose of minimising grants already, existing ill the Highland area, were not carried out in the fullest sense. He referred to the Report of the Committee of Council on the condition of Education in the Highlands. The grants for the Highland districts amounted to £13,331, and one of the main objects of the grants was that there should be preserved for these localities some amount of higher education. He hoped his right hon. Friend would assure the Committee that there would be no withdrawal of any part of these funds.

MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddington)

said he felt it impossible, to move the rejection of this clause, but at the same time he would respectfully complain of this mode of tariff. It was not a plan which would have been adopted naturally in the Scotch Office. It was a plan which worked out in the most arbitrary fashion. Not only in the case of the Highlands was there a marked discrepancy between the results, but even in regard to the parishes in the Lowland constituencies they were face to face with great difficulties. It was to be expected that Haddingtonshire would come off badly, because the representative of that constituency gave so little trouble to the Government. He cited the case of the parish in that county which was famous as the birthplace of John Knox. It was a necessitous parish, and yet they could not get any assistance, because it was a small parish with very few scholars. This Bill was not drawn so as to meet the necessities of the Scottish parishes, but was taken from a model, and they were suffering from the dogma of uniformity which had been introduced into Scottish education as an illustration of the policy of the Government south of the Tweed.


said the two speeches to which they had listened showed a. singular misconception of what this clause was. This was not a question between the well-fed Lowlands and the hungry Highlands. The Bill gave some relief where the ratepayer was undoubtedly poorest, and the rate produced an abnormally small sunk. The idea of assistance from Imperial money where the produce of a local rate was abnormally small, was as much as a Scotch as an English idea. All the Bill did was to come to the assistance of the distressed ratepayer in a neighbourhood where the rate did not bring in a normal amount. The aid grant was given not only on account of the poverty of certain Highland parishes, but of the exceptional disadvantages those parishes were under. Owing to the sparseness of population and the great distance which divided one parish from another, it cost more to provide good education within a distance available to children. The parish alluded to by the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire, although the birthplace of John Knox, did not produce an abnormally small rate, so it could not be helped, as it did not come within the mischief the clause sought to remedy.


complained of the way in which the Bill differentiated between School Board and Voluntary School education in Scotland. Clause I would aid poor parishes and necessitous Board Schools; but he understood that Clause 2 was not limited to necessitous Voluntary Schools. The Government were only aiding necessitous Board Schools, but giving the aid grant generally to Voluntary Schools. The aid grant under Clause 2 was fixed at 3s. per head; the aid grant given to necessitous Board Schools under Clause 1 was a variable grant. The latter had proved to be a decreasing grant, and if the prosperity of the country decreased the grant must necessarily decrease. The Bill differentiated unfairly against the National system of education in Scotland. Attention had been called to the anomalies that would exist in the treatment of some parts of Scotland and others. In the town of Frazerburgh there were 900 children attending the Board Schools and 700 attending the Voluntary Schools. The subscribers to the Voluntary Schools were of the same class as the ratepayers of the town. The latter under Clause 1 of this Bill would get nothing, but those who supplied part of the rate aid to the Voluntary Schools would get 3s. per head. How did the matter stand on its financial side? Under Clause 2 £12,000 would be given to Voluntary Schools, and £41,000 would be given to Board Schools under Clause I. But eight times as many children were educated in Board Schools as in Voluntary Schools. So the proposals of the Bill were grossly unfair to the popular system of education in Scotland. He contended that it would have been simple and more equitable if they had taken the 3s. grant and given it all round. This would have obviated the anomalies and disparities he had called attention to. For the first time the Government were introducing a spirit of jealousy and hostility on the part of Voluntary Schools a ml their managers.


said the hon. and learned Member who had spoken seemed to think that equality was equity. He himself contended that the Government were acting in an equitable spirit, and were going to give money to parishes where it was most wanted.


remarked that the Bill did not deal with the matter from an educational point of view. If the money had been given at the rate of 3s. per head all round it might have been given in such a way that the different schools would have spent the money in promoting higher education, which would have assisted educational progress all over the country. But where did the money go to? The hon. Member for Partick said it went where it was wanted. The whole of the money went to the relief of the ratepayers, and education in these districts would not be one copper advantaged so far as this expenditure was concerned. Whom would the money benefit? It would benefit the ratepayers. Of the £41,000, one half went direct into the pockets of the landlord; and the other half went to the deer forest tenants and big farmers, the amount that would fall to the share of the poor crofters being infinitesimal. It was, therefore, a ratepayers' question; it was the question of a subsidy of about £40,000, one half of which went to the landlords in certain parishes and the greater portion of the other half to the deer forest tenants and other large ratepayers. He objected to money going in that particular way, when it might be much better spent in the promotion of secondary education. The hon. and learned Member for Haddington struck a clear note when he said this money gave no relief where relief was most needed, namely, in the smaller parishes. Much might be done by the use of some of this money in obtaining educational efficiency in the smaller parishes, but as it was, the money would go to the relief of the ratepayers, and would not advance education one iota.


did not say he did not agree with the majority of the Scotch Members in thinking the money might have been better spent, or at any rate, better allocated, but it was no use in making Second Reading speeches now that the principle had been passed. The contention of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark was, that this money was going to be entirely wasted—one half to be given to the landlords and the other half scrambled for by the deer forest tenants and the crofters. He thought they had a higher character in Scotland than that. He did not think I here was a single board in Scotland which would use this money for the purpose of recouping the landlords, the deer forest tenants, or the crofters. He had considerable knowledge of the way in which educational bodies conducted their business, and he entirely denied that there was the least danger of the money to be handed over to Scotland being used for the. purpose of relieving the rates instead of in the promotion of education.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

remarked that during the period he had had a seat in that House this would be the third grant that had been voted for Scotland, and in every instance such grant had been used for the purpose of reducing the School Board rate. He was afraid that this money would go in the same direction, namely, in the relief of the rates, instead of in furthering the efficiency of education. No settlement of this question could be final which did not proceed upon Scotch instead of upon English lines, and which (lid not add to the efficiency of education rather than the reduction of the rates.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2,—