HC Deb 28 July 1897 vol 51 cc1357-60

For aiding voluntary schools there shall be annually paid out of moneys provided by Parliament an aid grant equal to three shillings per child for the whole number of children in average attendance in those schools, and that grant shall be distributed in such manner and in accordance with such conditions as may be set forth in the Scotch Education Code annually submitted to Parliament. The Code may require, as a condition of a school receiving a share of the aid grant, that the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the school shall be annually audited in accordance with the regulations of the Department.

For the purpose of Section nineteen of the Elementary Education Act 1876, in so far as it relates to Scotland, the aid grant paid or payable to a voluntary school shall be deemed to be income derived from a source other than the parliamentary grant.

The expression voluntary school," means a state aided day school not provided by a school board.


moved, after "moneys provided by Parliament," to insert— in such manner and amounts as the Scottish Education Department may think best for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of these schools, due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions. He said that when the Amendment was moved in Committee it was supported by 37 Scotch Members and opposed by only 11. The Bill represented a serious departure from the principle hitherto followed in the Scotch education system, and by the abandonment of the principle of the equivalent grant Scotland was not getting what was due to her. This Amendment, which was simply a direction to the Scotch Education Department in administering the grant, was taken directly from the English Bill.


said that he promised in Committee further to consider this matter, and he had conic to the conclusion that the proposed words were unnecessary. They were, truly, taken from the English Bill, but that Bill paved the way for a differentiation between school and school, and this Bill did not. In the English Bill the proviso about due regard to efficiency helped the differentiation between schools; they could not serve such a purpose in the present Bill, and they were unnecessary as a direction to the Department, because the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian schools which were concerned could not earn any grant at all unless they were efficient. Then the proviso about the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions was unnecessary in this Bill, because it was not proposed as in the English Bill to abolish the 17s. 6d. limit. That limit was the greatest inducement to maintain voluntary subscriptions. The Government did not wish to spoil this gift to the Voluntary Schools by harassing them in any way.

MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

said that he was greatly disappointed' with the speech of the Lord Advocate, for last Wednesday there was a strong expression of opinion from all quarters of the House in favour of the Amendment. The Lord Advocate said that the Amendment would harass the schools. Was it harassing them to pay due regard to time maintenance of efficiency?


I used that word in connection with the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions.


said that the right hon. Gentleman used the word "harass" in connection with the maintenance of efficiency.


I cannot accept the hon. Member's version of what I said in that connection.


said that he was within the recollection of the House. The right hon. Gentleman used the word "harass" in the earlier part of his speech.

MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said that it was hard on the Voluntary Schools to press this Amendment. The Anglican question did not exist in Scotland, and the vast majority of the Voluntary Schools there were Irish Catholic schools. The children in the schools belonged to the poorest of the poor, and the Amendment would press unduly and unfairly upon them. The voluntary subscriptions, in the case of the poor Irish Catholic schools in Scotland were, to his own knowledge, collected by organisations of working men, hundreds of whom spent a great part of their Sunday going round from door to door taking a penny or twopence from each family. Supposing the voluntary subscriptions were to fall off, say, by half, in the schools of these poor Catholic workmen, by reason of the people stopping their pennies mid twopences, would it be a fair or generous thing to deprive them of the benefit of this grant? For that reason he opposed the insertion of these words in the English Act, and they would be still more unjust in the Scotch Act, because the overwhelming majority of the schools there were very poor, whereas in England the majority were wealthy.


supported the Government, holding that the Amendment was unnecessary. He was perfectly certain, speaking from an experience of 21 years, and a member of a large School Board, that the high standard for the Voluntary Schools would be maintained in future as in the past, and as to the second part of the Amendment, it would be ungracious, and the casting an unfair slur to insert any such provision in the Bill, having regard to all that the managers and supporters of Voluntary Schools had done for the cause of education.


pointed out that the great majority of the Scottish Members voted for this Amendment in Committee—37 to 11. If the Bill was, as the Lord Advocate had said, the sequence of the English Act, why should these limiting words, which appeared in the English Act, be omitted from the Scotch one? He maintained that as regards both Board and Voluntary Schools the money Parliament voted had not been used for efficiency, but for the purpose of reducing rates in the one case and in the other making it less necessary to send the hat round.

SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)

observed that the poor people who supported these Voluntary Schools were rated to the Board Schools to which they did not send their children; and he failed to see the justice of throwing a further burden upon the poorest section of the community, to whom, the country was much indebted for the good education of the children.


supported the Amendment. If the principle of it was right south of the Tweed, why was it not right to apply it north of the Tweed? What was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: —Ayes, 63; Noes, 154.—(Division List, No. 341.)

Clause 3,—