HC Deb 30 July 1897 vol 51 cc1621-6

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

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

proposed to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months." He said it was hardly possible to allow the final stage of the Bill to be taken without a few words of protest from the Scotch Members present. They felt that its being placed in front of the Workmen's Compensation Bill acted as a kind of informal closure upon them; but he desired in a few words to explain to the House the objection they took to the Bill. They considered it was not a Scotch Bill at all, and if it became an Act and went down to Scotland, it might very well be labelled "a Bill made in Canterbury or Rome." It was a Bill which was alien in principle to Scottish ideas of education, and would be a hindrance to the development of Scottish education in the future. It was not merely a Bill based on the principles of English and Irish education, but it was forced on Scotland by English and Irish votes. It was prejudicial to Scotland, because in Scotland they had a much better educational system to spoil. A few weeks ago the First Lord of the Treasury, in answer to a question, said the Scotch Members had always been jealous, and, he added, rightly jealous, of the mixing up English and Scotch questions of education, the systems being so diverse. Those systems had been devised by the different countries out of their own initiative and were suited to their own wants, and the Scotch Members claimed that their system should be developed in the future, as in the past, in accordance with Scotch needs and desires. This was the first occasion that an attempt had been made to force on them English ideas as regards education, which could only have a retrograde and reactionary effect in Scotland. The Scotch system was a thorough-going national system, so much so that in one or two Highland parishes there was Roman Catholic religious teaching in Board Schools because the majority of the population were of that faith. Between the Board and Voluntary Schools there had hitherto not been any jealousy whatever, because they had occupied a clear statutory position, and had enjoyed an absolute statutory equality. No difference had ever been made as regarded Imperial grants, and now a system was to be introduced under which the grant was to be given in a discriminating fashion as against the School Boards. By introducing this new principle into the Scotch system, the Government were doing their best to sow the seeds of enmity between the two kinds of schools. He hoped contention would not arise, but it would not be the fault of the Government if it did not. This Bill contained a foreign system imposed on Scotland by English and Irish votes, contrary to the opinion of Scotch Members. It was educationally bad, it might sow the seeds of contention between School Boards and Voluntary Schools, and it would not give any educational benefit in the way of increased efficiency. Financially, too, it was most unfair to his country. There was a unanimous opinion in Scotland that the financial proposals of the Bill were grossly unfair to Scotland. They claimed that they ought to have had Pa of the sum allocated this year to England, and that they ought to have had the sum devoted to such educational purposes as the education authorities and the people of Scotland desired. He believed the Chancellor of the Exchequer was opposed to the system of equivalent grants, and he should be prepared to agree with him. He should support him on this condition, that when he brought it to an end he should settle up fairly all round. He did not propose to go into the elaborate argument of the Lord Advocate on the Second Reading, but he did say this, there still remained claims for considerable additional sums of money to be devoted to educational purposes, according to Scotch wishes, utterly without regard to the educational exigencies of England or Ireland. He believed that this Bill would be found in Scotland to be strongly opposed to the fixed opinion of the people, and that it would prove to be detrimental to the system of education in Scotland. He begged to move "that the Bill be read a Third time that day three months."

Mr. JCAL DWELL (Lanark, Mid.)

seconded the Amendment. The people of Scotland knew nothing of this Bill until it was introduced. They were getting too little. What they claimed was that with regard to the Scotch share the sum should be allocated according to Scotch opinion, and that should not be dominated by English opinion. This Bill had been condemned by Scotch opinion. It was being forced on the Scotch Members by English and Irish Members. That was hardly the way to deal with a Scotch question. The value and condition of English education were different from those of Scotland, and the results which applied to England were inapplicable to the code of Scotland. The Bill was neither one thing or the other. In all essential particulars it did not command the support of a majority of the Scotch Members. The total they were to get under this Bill was £66,000 but the amount of the equivalent grant was £98,000. They should treat the school absolutely alike, and if that were done he did not believe that anyone in Scotland would object. But what were they doing? They were placing Denominational Schools in a different position from the Board Schools. They were justified in protesting against the application to Scotland of a Bill which, however well adapted to England, was wholly unsuited to Scotland. He also protested against the Scotch people not being consulted in the matter. If they had been, the money would have been distributed in a very different manner. He further objected that Scotland was unfairly treated in the amount of the money allocated to her under the Bill.


said that upon the monetary part of the question nothing had been added to what was said on the Second reading. The question was whether there was a grievance in respect of the amount of money to be given to Scotch requirements by the Bill. It was not right simply to look at the sum given to England in the present year, and to require that its equivalent should be given to Scotland. If the question of equivalent grant were to be raised at all—and he denied that it should—it was necessary to look to the total Imperial subvention of the educational system, and then it would be found that Scotland had nothing to complain of. As to the difference of 2s. between the grant to Scotch Voluntary Schools and that to English Voluntary Schools, that was a question simply as between Board Schools and Voluntary Schools. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark left out of view the £40,000 still available under the Act of 1892.


That is Scotch money.


admitted that it was, but said that the fact was not relevant in a question simply between Board Schools on the one hand and Voluntary Schools on the other. Of course the number of children in the schools was perpetually increasing, and the undertaking which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had entered into was that the sum should increase from year to year with the number of the children. It must be remembered that in the past Scotland had been enjoying a 12s. grant as compared with a 10s. grant in England, and that had helped the schools to earn a larger grant. First, that additional grant operated on the question of the 17s. 6d. limit, for it was allowed to be calculated as part of local resources; and then, by tending to increased efficiency, it put the schools in a more advantageous position to earn more grant. As to the more general criticisms of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, he only wished that more of the hon. Gentleman's Irish Friends had been present to hear his denunciation of the Bill as having been made in Canterbury and Rome. Was the demand of the Scotch Roman Catholic schools for additional assistance just or not? The Government thought it was, and therefore were not moved by the objection that the proposal was carried against the votes of the majority of Scotch Members. If the cause of justice had to be vindicated by Irish and English votes, so much the worse for the majority of Scotch Members. [Cheers and laughter.] It was absurd to talk about the Bill introducing an alien system into the education of Scotland, because it did not in the least degree change the existing system. The Government had never pretended that this particular Bill was a step forward in the general educational system of Scotland; it was still one of their cherished hopes to help secondary educational in Scotland more in the future than they had done in dm past. The Bill was a simple measure of justice to the Voluntary Schools.

DR, CLARK (Caithness)

said that he was very glad that the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire lead moved the rejection of the Bill. It was a last protest against the policy of the Government. First, the did not give to Scotland a fair and just equivalent of what had been given to England. But if it had done that, he should still have voted for the rejection of the Bill, because of the method in which the money was applied. He protested against the idea that Scotland, with 300 years of national education, should be hampered, tied and limited in its future by the requirements of England and Ireland, where national education was but beginning to lie built up. The Government, now that it suited them, had abandoned the equivalent grant system. The Scotch Members protested against the system when it was established, but the Government insisted upon it, that Scotland might not have a larger proportionate sum than England. When the Government adopted a principle, good or had, they might at least adhere to it consistently. The point on which Scotch Members felt the strongest was efficiency, and upon that they were agreed in the proportion of four to one. But the majority found themselves in the minority Lobby because English and Irish Members insisted upon their views prevailing. Scottish national feeling and desire had been neglected and refused by Parliament, and hence the Scotch Members must refuse and repudiate this Bill. They repudiated the Bill of I889, because it was dishonest and contrary to the Articles of Union. This was an ingenious and plausible Bill, but it was not contrary to a bargain made. The English had done something for themselves, and they required, in consequence of that, to do something for the Scotch. Let them do it in the fashion the Scotch would like. Until now, everything Scotland had done for the Board Schools they had done for denominational Schools. Hitherto there had been no jealousy between the two sets of schools; and if there was jealousy in the future, it would be simply because Government showed special favour to denominational schools. He heard with pleasure the Lord Advocate's statement that the Government hoped during the present Parliament to do something for secondary education. What the Scotch wanted for education as a whole, even more than money, was organisation. Re trusted the Government would do something in that direction and do it in accordance with the desires of the Scotch people, rather than in accordance with the whims and needs of the English and Irish.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: —A yes, 163; Noes, 62.—(Division List, No. 346.)

Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read the Third time, and passed.