1. Motion made and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £4,306,910, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for Public Education in England and Wales, including expenses of the Education Office in London.'
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
The sum voted last year for elementary education amounted to £7,275,000—almost exactly the sum which was expended. It was an increase on the expenditure of the previous year of no less than £339,985, and this increase was caused almost entirely, as is usual in the Educational Estimates, under the sub-heads of the Vote—the increase in the annual grants to day scholars, the increase in the annual grant for evening scholars, the increase in the fee grants, the additional grants to School Boards, and the additional grants to training colleges. The addition to the expenditure of the year is almost entirely caused by what are called automatic increases, over which neither the Education Department nor Her Majesty's Treasury have practically any control. The Estimate for the present year amounts to £7,306,940, showing an increase over the estimated expenditure of last year of nearly £31,603, but that small apparent increase is really fallacious, because last year provision was made in the Estimates for the passing of the Eduaction Bill, 1896, and the effect of the passing of that Act would have been to have provided a sum in round numbers of £100,000 for necessitous schools. But 294 as the Bill did not pass, the provision of the sum did not become necessary, and in order to spend it, payments under the existing law on existing schools were accelerated. Inspectors were instructed to be diligent in preparing their reports, the Department was diligent in examination of accounts, and the amount of £100,000 was paid out before March 31, which amount, in the ordinary and normal state of circumstances, would not have been paid until after that date; therefore, the expenditure for the current year was £100,000 beyond that of the previous year. When correction is made for that circumstance, it lessens the increase of last year by about £100,000, and increases the Estimate for the present year by about the same amount. The increase in expenditure for the last four years has been as follows: —£326,000 in the year 1893–94, £259,000 in 1894–95, £275,000 in 1895–96, and the corrected amount for 1896–97 should be £240,000, and the increase in the present year over last year would be about £230,000. There are some small items of increase and decrease with which I think I need riot trouble the Committee, because the last increase is due to automatic causes, the greater number of children on the school books earning larger grants, and these causes are not under the control of the Department; they follow the natural development of education in the country. The annual grants for day scholars in the present year are estimated to amount to £4,338,000 and provide for an average attendance of 4,487,000 at the rate of 19s. 4d. per scholar. The average attendance has increased ill the current year by 98,000 scholars, or 2'26 per cent., about double the increase which could be attributed to the natural increase of population. The proportion of attendance to numbers on the books, has I am sorry to say, remained stationary, for although there has been an increase in the numbers in average attendance, the ratio between these and the numbers one the books remains unaltered, showing that the. Compulsory Attendance Act has now reached its maximum effect, and that no increase in the proportionate attendance can be looked for unless some reform in the law or addition to the law should take place. I have so often referred to the unsatisfactory state of 295 school atendance and the unsatisfactory manner in which the law is administered in many parts of the country, that I will not now pursue the subject any further, because it is a matter that can only be dealt with by legislation. The grants for evening schools show an increase of £34,084, providing for 172,000 scholars at 18s. per scholar. These schools I do not refer to as secondary education schools; they provide an education just a degree above that given in elementary schools. There are at present 1,530 evening schools maintained by School Boards, educating 180,216 scholars, and receiving grants from the Education Department under the Act to the amount of £82,835. There are under Voluntary School management 2,212 evening schools, generally smaller in size, and these provide education for 118,508 pupils, receiving grants under the Code amounting to £46,706. I have tried to find out the number of adults in evening schools, but accurate figures have not been obtained. So far as I can ascertain, the proportion of adults in evening schools under voluntary managers is 13.38 per cent., and in similar schools under Board management 11.07 per cent. It would appear that, though these evening schools afford the opportunity to adults over 21 years of age to obtain knowledge they may desire, they are not largely availed of by adults, the scholars being mainly those who have left elementary schools and have not reached the adult age. These evening schools are receiving no grants from other Departments of State, except for drawing from the Science and Art Department, and on this account they receive grants in common with elementary schools. Some of these evening schools receive grants from the Technical Committees of County Councils, and there are besides throughout the country 309 schools under Technical Instruction Committees educating 20,977 students, and these schools are receiving grants from the Science and Art Department amounting to £11,000. There are 125 mixed grade evening schools educating 28,846 scholars, and grants to these amount to £20,722; so that, although the great bulk of evening students are under the Education Department and are provided for in schools under the Code, there are a considerable number side by side with these schools, and in some places no 296 doubt competing with them, who are under the Instruction Committees of County Councils, and who derive the assistance they have from public money, by the local taxation grants partly, and partly from the Science and Art Department. Besides these, the Science and Art Department itself has a number of evening schools—no less than 1,650 evening schools conducted by committees and other bodies acting under the Science and Art Department. They educate 168,335 children, and receive grants from the Department amounting to £103,903.
§ SIR J. GORST
What I want to point out is that there are three classes of schools—first of all, schools under the Elementary Education Code, in round numbers educating 300,000 young people; there are the County Council Schools educating about 48,000 or 49,000 scholars; and then there are science and art schools educating 168,335 scholars. So that you have three different classes of schools under three different sorts of management, sometimes operating in the same place, sometimes in competition with each other, and, no doubt, throwing away a considerable amount of power. The worst of this state of things is this: You must recollect that it is not a stationary state of things, but it is on the increase, and a rapid increase. The worst of it is that there exists already a number of what are called vested interests, which are very rapidly increasing. When a school gets a grant, whether it is from the Education Department, or from local taxation money, or from the Science and Art Department, the management of that school look upon it as a sort of endowment which they have a right to expect will continue, and if any kind of reform is proposed in the administration of public grants they ask themselves what effect the proposed reform will have upon the receipts of their particular school, and if they find, or imagine they find, that there is a risk of the grant earned by their own particular school being diminished or injuriously affect ed by any reform, however excellent it may be in itself, they immediately show hostility to it and objection is raised to the reform which makes any kind of change in the system—whether 297 by legislation or by administrative means—almost impossible. The moral of that state of things is that—every year which passes over our heads without a proper reorganisation of our system of higher education above the elementary, not only makes the problem more complicated and more difficult of solution, but raises up a crop of opposition to any kind of reform that may be proposed, which may make either legislation or administrative reform absolutely impossible. ["Hear, hear!"] Perhaps I may now call the attention of the Committee to another part of an educational work, namely, that done in the schools for blind and deaf children, which is also making very considerable progress. In the present year the increase is £5,335, and the sum earned now amounts to £17,527 a year. This increase is mainly due to the rate of grant per scholar, which has increased front £3 10s. 9d. to £4 4s. The grants allowed for blind and deaf children are £3 3s. per scholar for ordinary elementary instruction, and £2 2s. per scholar for manual instruction and industrial training. Thus, under the heading of manual instruction and industrial training, the grants have increased; and this is shown by the figures I will now quote. In 1894–95, while 3,121 children were paid for elementary instruction, only 1,937 earned grants for manual instruction; but in 1895–96, out of 3,742 paid for elementary instruction, no fewer than 3,611 received grants for manual instruction, showing that under the improved arrangements of the present day almost every blind child not only received elementary instruction, but also received manual instruction, which in many instances enables them to earn their own livelihood and become valuable members of society. ["Hear, hear!"] This result of the new Act, which was to some extent an experiment, is highly satisfactory—["hear, hear!"]—and ought to encourage Parliament and the country in proceeding in this and in analogous cases with some degree of confidence. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know that I ought to prolong my remarks to the Committee. We have already had so many discussions on education this year, and so much general matter has been already repeated, that I think I will now leave the Estimates to the consideration of the Committee. I would only mention one 298 thing—that these Estimates are quite outside the legislation of the present Session. No provision is made for the special aid grant to the Voluntary Schools or the special grant to the school Boards which are necessitous. In the Estimates I had the honour of submitting to the House there was provision made for larger payments to School Boards under the 97th Section of the Act of 1870, because the Debates of lost year had called general public attention to the existence of that provision, and many School Boards which had not apparently heard of it before, or who had not taken the trouble to make application under it, sent in applications for the money. Therefore, although the law remained as it was, there is some considerable excess in the Estimates under this head as compared with the Vote of last year. But of course this increase will be small in comparison with the very much larger sum which the benevolence of Parliament has voted.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
When will my right hon. Friend present the Supplementary Estimates?
§ *MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said the right hon. Gentleman had devoted the greater part of his speech to matters not directly connected with the ordinary elementary schools. In many respects things were, no doubt, going well with the elementary schools. The great internal reforms instituted by the Department in the method of assessing the grant and testing, the work of the schools—which had only come into full operation during the past 12 months—were undoubtedly producing greater zest, intelligence, and pleasure in the work, which would before long remove the reproaches that our elementary school work was mechanical, dull, and not conducive to a continuation of study after leaving school. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman, in a. somewhat awe-inspired tone, had given the Committee sonic round figures as to the national expenditure on elementary education. No doubt our elementary schools were now costing seven millions a year. But we were spending 20s. per head of population on the Army and Navy, and only 5s. per head on the schools. He did not 299 object to the expenditure on the Army and Navy, but he held that 5s. per head on schools was a most unsatisfactory sum. Although the general work was progressing, a good deal of money and effort was wasted because of the early age at which children left school. ["Hear, hear!"] According to the returns published last year, out of 5,300,000 children attending school, there were only 700,000 over 12 years of age, only 250,000 over 13, and only 53,000 over 14. If they contrasted that with the rule obtaining abroad in nearly every civilised country, it would be found that the state of things in England was less satisfactory than anywhere else. In every civilised country on the Continent of Europe, at any rate, the compulsory age was higher than with us. Then, again, in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, and Norway, foreign languages were taught the children. That was not the case in this country to any appreciable extent. At present the teaching of languages and other desirable subjects was quite impossible as long as so many of the children left school at so early an age and while the schools were hampered with the present cumbersome system of money and weights and measures instead of the metric system. He estimated that the teaching of this system occupied two years of the child's school life, and much of that time could be devoted to languages and other branches of education were the decimal system adopted. Another matter deserving the attention of the Committee was the insufficient number of teachers employed. In many schools in this country, even the wealthiest Board Schools, they would find the classes far too large for one teacher to control and teach. In the month of January this year, under the Manchester School Board, there were 50 classes of between 70 and 80 children each, 20 classes of between 80 and 90, 12 classes of between 90 and 100, and 11 classes of over 100 children each, with one teacher only to each class. In Denmark no teacher was allowed to teach more than 30 children, and in America and the colonies the same rule applied. In New Zealand the maximum number in charge of one teacher was 32; in Holland, 40; and in France and Switzerland, 50. In the case of secondary schools in England and Wales there 300 were 12 children in average attendance per teacher, and whereas in the organised science and art schools there were 40 children per teacher, the classes in elementary schools varied from 60, 70, and 80 up to 100 for each teacher. They had an expenditure of over £7,000,000 of public money per year upon the schools which were used by the children for only a few brief years of their life, and yet they found children receiving lessons from teachers who were engaged in instructing classes comprising from 60 to 100 children. That, he contended, was false economy. It was spoiling the ship for the sake of a half-penny-worth of tar. Until the Education Department insisted that there should be larger staffs in the schools, a good deal of the money which was now voted for the work of education year by year must continue to be very largely wasted. If they compared the state of things in Scotland with that which existed in England and Wales, they would find the advantage was much in favour of the former. The average number of children for each certificated teacher in England and Wales was 112. In Scotland it was 64. In England and Wales, whilst 55 per cent. of the teachers were adults, in Scotland the proportion was 82 per cent. In England and Wales only 39 per cent. of the teachers were certificated, but in Scotland the proportion was 50 per cent. The Education Department had fostered the growth of an army of unqualified teachers, who were qualified only under Article 68. There were thus employed in 1889–90 only 5,000 of such teachers, but they had now grown to 12,000. It was most important that the Education Department should take guarantees that every adult teacher employed in a school should be able to satisfy a reasonable test of capacity, first of all in the matter of knowledge themselves, and, secondly, in the matter of their ability to teach. Such tests were not applied to Article 68 teachers, and there was no guarantee in the ease of any one of them that they were persons who could or ought to be allowed to teach in a school. If it were not for these 12,000 unqualified teachers, the number of scholars per adult teacher would be much greater than now. The Rev. T. W. Sharpe, the senior Chief In- 301 spector of Schools, speaking on this subject, said,—The evil of large classes has caused infinite mischief, especially to the voice of the teacher and to the discipline of the class. Even an able and intelligent teacher excites only a small influence upon the backward members of a class of 60 scholars, and much less when the number is exceeded. He may check disorder, but the lesson produces little effect upon the character or the intelligence of the backward or unwilling scholar.Medical men would tell them that there was a disease becoming prevalent called teachers' sore throat. That was one evidence of the strain put upon teachers by the existence of large classes in schools. He had himself received evidence in very many ways of the increasing amount of breakdown among teachers of elementary schools resulting from the large classes allowed by the permissive regulations of the Education Department. It was not only a question of strain upon the voice, but upon the general health. When a teacher had spent his or her life in hard work among large classes, and then broke down prematurely or managed to live on until the age of 60 or 65, there was no satisfactory provision whatever of a retiring allowance for such teacher. He felt bound to charge the Government with procrastination and delay, resulting in the disappointment of the reasonable expectations of the teachers in the matter of superannuation. In 1888 a Royal Commission on Elementary Education unanimously recommended a system of State-aided superannuation for teachers in elementary Schools. In 1892 a Select Committee of the House also unanimously recommended such a system. The following year the House of Commons unanimously resolved that it was desirable to establish such a system at an early date. In 1895 a Departmental Committee, representing the Education Department, brought forward a scheme to give effect to that Resolution, and in June of the same year the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monmouth (Sir W. Harcourt), having recently ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote as follows:—It is a great disappointment to me that the sudden termination of our official existence prevented the public announcement of my decision to introduce a Bill to provide for teachers' 302 pensions. Authority was given in the Treasury to draw up a Bill which has been framed generally upon the lines of the Report of the Departmental Committee. I am sorry we did not survive long enough to carry out this necessary good work.On the 28th of August, 1895, the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the present Estimates used these words:—The matter has passed beyond the stage of controversy and dispute. I think the Committee may feel a tolerable amount of confidence that next Session a Measure will be laid upon the Table of the House.On the 13th of February, 1896, the First Lord of the Treasury said:—The Government have hopes of being able to introduce a Bill this Session,and on the 21st of the same month the Vice President said:—I earnestly hope that many weeks will not elapse before I introduce a Bill providing for the superannuation scheme which the House desires to pass, and which everybody else desires to have passed.They had now reached June of 1897. Such a Bill had not been introduced, and no definite pledge had been given as to the date of its introduction. He was perfectly aware that the Government were benevolently inclined, and that the Vice President himself would introduce a Bill at once if he could do so. He hoped the Debate would not close without the right hon. Gentleman giving the Committee some definite promise that this long-deferred measure of justice to the teachers of this country should not be delayed later than next Session. He wished to raise one other point which had a distinct bearing on the celebration of the coming week. Some time ago he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, on behalf of the Education Department, he would consent to the requirement of 400 attendances per year being reduced to 390 in order to enable the elementary schools, where the managers desired it, to be closed during the whole of the next week. He did not receive a very satisfactory answer. Since that reply was given, Her Majesty had herself, by the Court Circular, expressed her desire that the schools should be closed, so that the children 303 could enjoy in their own way and have reason to remember the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee by an addition to their summer holidays in June. He desired to point out that in the case of the elementary schools they would have to deprive the children of one week of their summer holidays if they gave this next week in honour of the Jubilee. He ventured to hope that it would be made clear that where the managers of schools were anxious to close during the Jubilee week, an allowance would be made to them for that one week by a relaxation of Article 83.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London. University)
said that the Committee approached the subject at sonic disadvantage, as the Report of the Committee had not yet been issued. He congratulated the Vice President on the satisfactory character of the statement he had been able to make. He concurred with the hon. Member for Nottingham in wishing that a decimal system of weights could be introduced. Our cumbrous and complicated system was a great drawback. He could not concur with the hon. Member for Nottingham in wishing to see foreign languages generally taught, though he admitted that there were special cases in which it might be desirable. On the other hand, the four principal class subjects should be encouraged in all schools. They were English, geography, history, and elementary science. The Code, however, only allowed children to be presented in two. Up to last year the Scotch Code allowed children to be presented in. all four. As a matter of fact most Scotch children were presented in three of these subjects. They were able, therefore, to earn more money, and what was more important, they received a better education. At present most of the English schools took English and geography. The result was that elementary science was rarely taken up, and even English history was gradually dropping out of our system of elementary education. He did not ask the Government to make the four class subjects obligatory, but he did hope schools would be encouraged to give some elementary instruction in elementary science and in the history of our country. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said it was satisfactory to know that there were 5,300,000 children now on the registers of public elementary schools, but lie regretted that 18½ per cent. of the children were absent from school every day. But the Free Education Act had raised the average attendance from 77 per cent. when the Act was passed to 81½ per cent. Still he agreed that sonic decided reform in the application of the compulsory clauses of the Education Act was necessary. In Continental schools it was not uncommon to find the average attendance 96 and 97 per cent. Having provided schools for children, and teachers, we ought also to provide that the children on the register should attend the schools regularly. In many parts of England, especially in the rural districts, the compulsory attendance clauses were scarcely enforced at all, and he was sorry to say that a good many magistrates had apparently made up their minds not to enforce them. A greater disservice to the cause of education could not be done, as the result was that the children in such districts were miserably educated. Moreover, the school attendance officer often had not sufficient time to attend to his duties, and was not sufficiently paid. In some cases children who had passed the school attendance age were not able to read or write, and it was disgraceful that such a state of things should exist now. One of the best features in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was the increase of attendance in evening schools. There was no doubt that evening schools as a whole had been very beneficial, but our whole system of continuation schools was most extravagant, having regard to its results. ["Hear, hear!"] Immediately the children had attained a standard which would enable them to acquire a knowledge of such subjects as the right lion. Member for the London University had referred to, they were set free from school, and in two or three years had forgotten all they had learnt. ["Hear, hear!"] In a Return issued this year it was shown that the standards for partial exemption were two, three, and four; and the standards for total exemption were four, five and six. Large numbers of children who had passed only the second standard were allowed to enter upon half-time labour, and 305 in the rural districts there were nine 764 School Beards in which Standard IV. was the standard for total exemption. The time had come for a new advance in our elementary school system. ["Hear, hear!"] In Germany, children were compelled to attend school until they were 14 years of age, after which they had to attend continuation school until 17 or, in case of need, 18 years of age. Such a system would make for the material success of our own country. In addition to raising the age limit, and requiring subsequent attendance at continuation schools, we ought also to get rid of the half-time system. As to the science and art classes, it was found, when our working men wished to join a plumbing class, for instance, that they had never been taught the use of a pencil and did not know enough arithmetic to make calculations, which made the task of the teachers a very difficult one. The education of the blind and deaf and dumb had been referred to, and lie hoped they would soon get a further grant for this purpose. He thought that if possible those who were so afflicted should be trained until they were 19 or 20 years of age. They could not discuss the superannuation question on this Vote, but he believed that until we had an efficient system of superannuation there would be a great waste in our public expenditure. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman next Session would give them an opportunity of passing a Superannuation Bill, and he did not think such a Measure would be contentious, as both sides of the House desired it. When the question of education was dealt with he hoped there would be less friction than there had been in the past. He felt that if we were the losers in the race for industrial or agricultural supremacy it would not be through lack of industry, capacity or resource, but through lack of intelligence, and it lay with the right hon. Gentleman to equip his countrymen for the struggle.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
said the statement of his right hon. Friend was satisfactory and interesting in many of its details. The right hon. Member for the Brightside Division had made some remarks of a very serious nature with reference to our present educational system and the grave difficulties which surrounded it and which hampered 306 them when any reform was attempted. He had touched upon the utter absurdity of spending £7,300,000 per annum in elementary education with the knowledge that the great bulk of this sum was practically thrown away so far as the retention of that education by the children was concerned. ["Hear, hear!] No step was taken in that direction except the voting of the pitiful sum of £154,815 which was asked for for continuation schools. These figures showed the weakness of our system. The difficulty they had to face in dealing with educational matters was the miserable religious difficulty. That difficulty had faced them in 1870, and it had harried and worried educational reformers up to the present day. It was an unfortunate state of things, but as it existed there was no doubt his right hon. Friend was following a wise course in making no indication of any change. All they could do at present was to watch and work. There had been indications during the late Debates that many hon. Members on both sides were looking for some vast change in our educational system. He himself believed that the day when a very large and comprehensive change must be made was not very far distant. [Cheers.] When we had reached a total sum of ten millions per annum for education—for the present Vote did not cover all cur educational expenditure—he hoped the day was not far distant when some Minister might be wise enough and bold enough to say, "We will sweep away this religious difficulty once and for all; we tire weary of it." There was only one way of doing so, and that was to make the State supply all the education of our children, and to make our educational system comprehensive, beginning with the Universities at the top and including good secondary education and elementary education. He hoped that all hon. Members who took a deep interest in these matters would come to feel that it was time that they buried the hatchet altogether so far as Party was concerned and would be bold enough to grapple with the question as a whole. When that day came it would be one of the happiest in the history of this country, and it would do more than anything else to secure the future prosperity of the country. [''Hear, hear!"]
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea Boroughs)
, referring to the appointment of Mr. Legard as Chief Inspector of Schools for Wales, said he did not wish to attack Mr. Legard's capacity, for he believed he was one of the ablest and most trustworthy officers in the employment of the Department; but, if he was correctly informed, Mr. Legard did not understand the Welsh language. If that was the case the right hon. Gentleman had reversed the policy of the Education Department in recent years, for during the last two Administrations it was commonly understood that inspectorships in Wales should, as far as possible, be given only to those who could speak the Welsh language. He thought it must be obvious that such a qualification was absolutely necessary. Seeing the large amount which Wales contributed to the support of the educational system of the country, and its intense interest in the progress of education, the people had a right to demand that the Government should send down a man to whom they could communicate their views in the language which they spoke. The late inspector, Mr. William Williams, whose loss they all deplored, was a gentleman who not only spoke the Welsh language but was thoroughly conversant with the educational needs of the Principality. The Education Department had made a great mistake in appointing the present inspector a gentleman against whom, apart from his want of knowledge of the Welsh tongue nothing could be said—but he hoped it was an error that would be undone.
§ *MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvon, Arfon)
pointed out that in all the schools in North and West Wales, and in many schools in the South and East districts the children were taught English through the medium of Welsh; and it was therefore impossible for the inspector to conduct examinations unless he knew Welsh. Mr. Legard had not that essential qualification. Further, the Education Department had sanctioned a scheme to encourage the use of Welsh by inspectors in examining Welsh children. How could Mr. Legard, though a sound educationist, thoroughly grapple with the difficulties which would have to be referred to him with regard to the proper training of the Welsh mind? This was 308 not a Party question. Even Members who represented Conservative seats in Wales had protested against the appointment of an inspector who did not speak Welsh, and if the right hon. Gentleman repaired the mistake which had been made, he would gratify the wishes of the entire people of the Principality. ["Hear, hear!"] There was another question, of general interest, to which he would like to draw attention. That was the question of pupil teachers. He thought there should be sonic scheme drawn up by which pupil teachers in England and Wales could be appointed at a more advanced age, and with a better educational training than at present. In Wales already they might, under an improved system, have the advantage of a Secondary Education at the Intermediate schools. They should continue in touch with that training after becoming engaged in the actual work of teaching previous to entering a training college. Two years at college were not enough. A third year added would enlarge the scope of their studies, and supply them with a more fitting equipment of culture. ["Hear, hear!"] He was opposed to giving to school teachers a purely professional training. They should be allowed to mix in the Colleges and Universities with men who were going to be Members of Parliament, barristers, doctors, engineers, and thereby have their intellectual outlook and their knowledge of men and things widened; above all, it was most desirable that pupil teachers should spend their earlier years in acquiring knowledge, and not in playing with their so-called pupils and acting as drudges. It was to be hoped the Departmental Committee now sitting would devise such a plan in the interests of true education, and the building up of noble citizens. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said he had listened with great interest to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford, urging the great importance of undertaking a real, thorough, and substantial reform of our educational system. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that the religious difficulty was the great difficulty which stood in the way of that reform. The religious difficulty would always stand in the way. It must be accepted; it could not be ignored, and until hon. 309 Members opposite recognised that the religious convictions of all persons must be respected in the matter of education no great reform in our educational system was possible. Every parent, whether he was a Churchman, a Nonconformist, or a Roman Catholic, had an absolutely inalienable right, which no Education Act could take away from him, to have his children brought up in his faith; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted a complete and satisfactory educational system, they must accept that conclusion and make their arrangements accordingly. His right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council would remember that last year the Voluntary Schools brought under the notice of the Government the fact that under Article 73 of the Code a very large increase of staff was being imposed on them which they were unable to meet, and when it found that the Voluntary Schools Bill was not to be passed into law that year, and the relief the schools expected was therefore postponed, his right hon. Friend considered that a good case had been made out for suspending Article 73 for six months. He thought a strong case again existed for a further suspension of Article 73 until the Voluntary Schools received, under the Act passed this year, the money that was necessary to enable them to meet the requirements of the Code. Another point was that, considering the short time at the disposal of children under the present system, too ninny subjects were included in the school curriculum.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said he was perfectly certain the children were taught many things which were absolutely of no use to them in after life, and in that way a great deal of time and money were wasted. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield that there was a great deal to be said in favour of the extension of the school age, but he hardly thought the right hon. Gentleman was consistent in his remarks upon the subject. The right hon. Gentleman condemned what was called the halftime system—indeed, the evening continuation classes, of which they were all 310 in favour, were only another form of that system. He was formerly connected with a very important manufacturing district, where the half-time system was very prevalent, and he knew that as a matter of fact the children really learnt as much in the half time as they would in the whole time. There was, however, a double advantage in the system; the children were educated, and they brought a certain amount of money to the household to which they belonged. He thought the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London was fully justified in protesting against the way in which the publication of the Report of the Education Department was delayed and not brought before Parliament in time for hon. Members to discuss it. Many of the methods which prevailed in the Department were open to a certain amount of amendment. Many of the statistics were extremely difficult to understand. For instance, there was no definition in the Blue-book of maintenance. To those very familiar with the subject, maintenance meant certain rather complicated numbers of subjects; but the average man did not know what was maintenance and what was not. There was a definition in former Blue-books, and it was well it should be repeated, as a certain amount of confusion arose from its absence. There was one other matter he wished to bring before the notice of the Committee, and that was the grievance felt by a certain number of districts who were compelled to contribute to the School Board rate, but who got no advantage from the Board Schools. That grievance was especially felt in those parishes which were combined in one district. There was a case in Bedfordshire where the old parish had been divided into several parishes for civil purposes, but not for School Board purposes. The consequence was that one parish contributed to the School Board rate and yet received no advantage from it. There were Church Voluntary Schools in the district, and the people, Nonconformists as well as Churchmen, were perfectly satisfied with them. It was felt to be a grievance that the people should be rated for the maintenance of Board Schools, and he trusted that the Government would agree to the division of the parish for School Board purposes.
*MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
thought that it was a most unsatisfactory circumstance that the first two Sessions of a new Parliament had nearly passed away without anything having been accomplished towards the removal of the serious evils connected with our present educational system, which had been admitted to exist. They were about simply to vote a large sum of money for the maintenance of machinery, in the working of which Members on both sides of the House knew would be a large amount of waste; and he did not think that there was any bright prospect of a better result next Session. It was also a melancholy fact that there was so much of unpunctuality and irregularity in the attendance of children; but he believed that improvement would be effected, not so much by a change in the law as by a better administration of the existing law. If magistrates neglected to enforce it, the influence of public opinion must be brought to bear upon them, and it was only as the public were increasingly impressed with the practical value of education that that influence would be exercised. It was for that reason that he was a zealous advocate of public control in the matter of education; because control involved interest, and interest would promote efficiency. ["Hear, hear!"] He had again to call the attention of the Committee to what he regarded as the extraordinary action of the Education Department in refusing to order the appointment of a School Board for the town of Heywood in Lancashire. Last Session he had informed the House that, at the request of the Town Council, in June, 1895, the Department stated that an Order for the formation of a Board would be forthwith issued; but that, after the change of Government, it announced that it would defer doing so until after the municipal elections. He had further stated that the parents of 193 children had demanded free places; but the Department had replied that they must find them in the Church of England and Roman Catholic schools, though most of the parents were Nonconformists. And, lastly, he had described the bad sanitary condition of the schools. The case against the Department was still stronger now than it 312 was a year ago; for the Town Council had for the second and third time renewed its request for a Board. The Department, however, after long delay, had refused compliance; on the ground that the Town Council did not represent the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants. How could that be justified? It must be assumed that when, in 1895, the Department decided that a School Board was necessary, it had sufficient reasons for that decision, which ought not to have been reversed without good grounds being shown. ["Hear, hear!"] He submitted that it was not the duty of the Department to go about fishing for evidence that the Town Council did not represent the views of the town's-people, or to connive at local intrigues to frustrate the Council's object. Since last Session a Nonconformist school at Heywood had been closed, and nearly 300 children had, as a consequence, been turned into the streets. Why should they not go into the other schools, it might be asked. The answer was that the parents had determined not to send their children to what they considered to be objectionable schools, and there were as many as 100 children still kept away. In that they had a large amount of public sympathy; which was shown by the fact that the School Attendance Committee had deferred prosecuting the parents until a decision had been arrived at by the Department, and the ex-mayor had promised to pay the fines of convicted parents. In fact, the school attendance machinery at Heywood seemed to be in abeyance. The parents objected to exposing the lives, the limbs, and the health of their children to danger by sending them to the existing schools. He had himself since last Session visited Heywood, and seen the schools, and therefore could speak with personal knowledge. ["Hear, hear!"] Many children had to come from the extreme ends of the town to the centre along a busy thoroughfare, through which there were tramway lines, and when they had reached the schools, they had to thread their way between three sets of steam cars—["hear, hear!"]—the locality was, in fact, so dangerous that some adults had been killed, and there had been three accidents to children, one of them being fatal. Then most of the existing schools were in an unsanitary condition. "Your 313 child," said a local doctor to the parent of a sick scholar, "will never have good health as long as he goes to that school," and the same thing could be said of several of the Heywood schools. The reports of the officials who had visited the schools since last Session had fully justified the statements which he had then made. Mr. Freeland, the school inspector had done his best to whitewash the schools, metaphorically, if not literally but he had described them as "schools of the old pattern," and of one of them he said that it appeared "not to have been designed on the best principles." He spoke of another as having the closets of adjacent cottages at the hack, which were often offensive. Mr. Tatham, inspector of returns, was a good deal more graphic, and also more condemnatory, this being part of his report:—There is a large receptacle for ashes and refuse at the end of the passage which can be made use of by anybody from the street. There are privies at the back of the boys' closets, and I gathered from the master that he had known them to be emptied during school hours. It is quite clear that the drainage of this school should be put in thorough orderMr. Cornish referred to four schools where the closets are on the pail system. In those schools there was "the primitive privy," with pits which were emptied occasionally; and this was his closing sentence:—The buildings of several of the schools are old, and sonic of them were never intended to he used as schools. I agree, however, with Mr. Freeland in thinking that the time had hardly come for condemning any of them. I noted the ventilation of the school rooms, and there are several in which it is much to be desired that better provision should be made for the admission of fresh air.When he (Mr. Williams) visited Heywood he found that some improvements in the schools had been effected, but the same descriptions still applied to several of the schools. These facts were indisputable, namely, that there was not a single school in the town of a modern type, and which could be said to meet the requirements of the present times; that the playgrounds were all too small, and that pot one of them was asphalted, and that the situation of several of the schools was highly dangerous. He thought the 314 strongest possible case for the appointment of a School Board had been made out—["Hear, hear!"]—and that the Education Department never came to a wiser decision than when it resolved that one should be formed. He should be surprised if the Vice President of the Council could convince the House that that was not so; and he was sure that, if the Department remained obdurate in the matter, it would do a great wrong to the town of Heywood, and in many cases incalculable injury to the juvenile portion of the population. [Cheer.]
*MR. GEORGE KEMPI (Lancashire, Heywood)
said he had listened with great interest to the last speech, and was sure the inhabitants of Heywood ought to feel much obliged to the lion. Member for the interest he had taken in the school affairs of the town. ["Hear, hear!"] But that speech did not seem to him to exactly represent the whole case. Reference had been made to the fact that in June 1895, the Town Council passed a resolution in favour of a School Board by a majority of 18 to 2. When that resolution was passed there was great dissatisfaction felt among the ratepayers, who claimed that it did not represent the opinion of the town generally. A public meeting was called, at which an overwhelming majority voted against a School Board. ["Hear, hear!"] Representation was then made that the question should be further considered before a School Board was granted, and a deputation waited upon tile Vice President of the Council, when it was suggested that a School Board should not be granted until after the next municipal election, in order that the feeling of the ratepayers might be further tested. Candidates for the Council, however, were unwilling to take their stand upon this question, because they knew they would have no chance; therefore, a poll was taken, with the result that by a majority of 666 the ratepayers decided they would not have a School Board. ["Hear, hear!"] The municipal election followed, and the candidates on their placards said the contests were not to be fought on that question. But, in spite of that, two of the School Board party were defeated. At the last municipal elections seats were again lost on this question, and when the last resolution in favour 315 of a School Board was brought before the Town Council, instead of being agreed to by 18 votes to 2, it was agreed to by only 14 votes to 8. Thus it was shown that the ratepayers knew how to resent the overriding of their wishes, and he had no doubt that if the School Board question was raised again the ratepayers would act in a like fashion. ["Hear, hear!"] Reference had been made to the tramway service. As a matter of fact, he thought he was correct in saying that on that section of the lines the trams did not start running until nine o'clock, after the children had gone to school, and they only ran once every half-hour. Moreover, the children had only to cross the lines once to get to any of the schools. ["Hear, hear!"] It was not fair to say that the children who were said to be driven to the streets would have to go to Church of England or Roman Catholic schools. There were sufficient Nonconformist schools within reasonable distance to which they could go. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member opposite had stated that the case for a School Board had grown stronger. He failed to see where the evidence of that was, because only this year a memorial was signed in a fortnight by 3,200 out of about 4,800 ratepayers against a School Board. ["Hear, hear!"] This agitation, which had been got up in Heywood, was not a bonâ fide agitation, but was an outside agitation. The decision of the Education Department had given the greatest satisfaction to the ratepayers of every party. [Cheers.]
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said the only object of the Education Department was to administer the law. They did not care whether there was a School Board in Heywood or not. ["Hear, hear!"] The principle of the Act of 1870 was that where any district had not proper school accommodation the Department, after proper inquiry, should force a School Board upon the ratepayers; and it was constantly doing so. But where a district was supplied with accommodation, there was a kind of local option. The ratepayers could have a School Board if they liked, but, if they did not like it, they could adhere to the old scheme. It was also provided that the old Department might take the resolution of the Town Council of a borough as evidence 316 of the wishes of the ratepayers, and in 99 cases out of 100 it did so. ["Hear, hear!") But in the particular case of Heywood, the Education Department had very good ground for supposing, from the facts which had been placed before them, that the Town Council did not represent the wishes of the people—["hear, hear!"]—and when they disagreed with the proposal to appoint a School Board the Town Council themselves put the matter to a test of their own accord by taking a poll of the inhabitants, who, by an overwhelming majority, declined to have a School Board. What could the Department do in those circumstances? ["Hear, hear!"] He was very sorry to say that he believed that what had been going on was an attempt on the part of the minority in Heywood to force their views on the majority. ["Hear, hear!"] It was true that representations had been made with respect to the insanitary condition of the schools, but inspectors were immediately sent to view them, and their report was laid before Parliament, and notice was at once given to the managers that the schools must forthwith he put in proper sanitary condition. That was now being done. If there was any ground for supposing that the managers were neglecting their duty in the matter, or were not using due diligence and expedition, there would be good ground for the Department taking strong measures. But while the ratepayers were supplied with a proper amount of school accommodation, it would be an act of gross tyranny on the part of the Department to force a School Board upon Heywood against the wishes of a majority of the ratepayers. ["Hear, hear!"] It had been said that parents would not send their children to the Church of England or Roman Catholic schools. He would remind the House that those people were protected by the conscience clause. ["Hear, hear!"] The teaching of religion in church schools, at all events, was confined to certain hours, and if the parents did not approve of the teaching they had a right to withdraw their children during those hours. Personally, he did not look upon the conscience clause as satisfactory. He wished every parent not only had a right to withdraw his child from such religious instruction as he disapproved of, but that he had an opportunity of having 317 such religious instruction given as he did approve of. ["Hear, hear!"] But that was a privilege for which they must wait till an alteration in the law was made. The ratepayers of Heywood bad the right of the Conscience Clause to the full, and nobody had a right to require them to be rated for the purpose of building schools in which they could have privileges which the law did not at present confer. [Cheers.]
§ MR. MUNDELLA
thought it was evident that the schools in Heywood which had been referred to were structurally unsuitable for the accommodation of the children, and in places where there was not suitable school accommodation it was the duty of the Department to see that a School Board was set up. The Department had no option in the matter. Had the Vice President of the Council satisfied himself that there was ample and suitable school accommodation for the children of Heywood? It was a monstrous thing to force the children of poor parents into insanitary schools, where their lives were jeopardised. He was surprised that the desire of the people of Heywood for a School Board should be doubted, seeing that the Town Council had twice carried a resolution in favour of the establishment of a School Board, the first time by a majority of 16 to 2, and the second time by 14 to 8. If such a. resolution were passed by a majority of one only, the Department would still be bound to recognise it. The Committee ought to be satisfied that the children of Heywood were being taught in good, suitable, sanitary schools, and if it could not be shown that the schools were of that character, he hoped his hon. Friend would not allow the question to rest where it was, and that, as a result of his efforts, there would be a complete and thorough inquiry. It was of the utmost importance that schools should be in a sanitary condition, for the sake, not only of the children, but also of the teachers. He knew of a case in which teachers had been seriously ill from fever, and it was found that an open drain passed in front of the door of the school where they taught.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that he had explained recently that immediately the allegation was made that the schools in Heywood were in an insanitary condition the Education Department sent down a divisional inspector to report upon the matter. He reported that the condition of St. John's (Church of England) School was unsatisfactory, that two other schools required new offices, and that in a fourth school the offices were badly kept. The sanitary condition of the schools was at once taken into consideration, and the most urgent notice was given to the managers that the existing state of things could not be allowed to continue. As a result, the new offices which were required were being proceeded with as rapidly as possible, and the other needs were being supplied.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would instruct the inspector for the district to go to Heywood and to report upon the schools, and whether the right hon. Gentleman would lay the report upon the Table of the House?
§ SIR J. GORST
explained that the inspector's last report was laid upon the Table, and the managers were now engaged in remedying the defects to which the inspector had called attention. As soon as the defects were reported as having been made good, he would gladly lay the report upon the Table.
COLONEL MELLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
asserted that the inspector's accounts of the condition of the Heywood schools did not justify the description of them which had been given by the hon. Member opposite.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
said that he had quoted from the reports of the inspector. He had given the inspector's statements as they appeared.
observed that the hon. Member had also given the Committee his own special report on the sanitary condition of these schools. He knew himself all about these schools; and what was amiss with them had been, or was being, remedied. He was of opinion that the Vote of the Town Council of Heywood on the subject of a School Board did not represent the views of the ratepayers. There was already abundant school accommodation in Heywood, and, that being the case, the people naturally objected to being 319 saddled with School Board rates. All this factitious agitation in Heywood was due to half-a-dozen people, who were determined if possible to prevent the children of Nonconformists from attending Church of England Schools. For more than 30 years the Nonconformist children had attended the Church of England Schools, and no difficulties had arisen. Perfect harmony had prevailed until this spurious agitation was initiated. The agitation, however, would, in his opinion, die away as quickly as it had sprung up. With regard to half-timers, he wished to point out that Her Majesty's inspector said that the difference in attainments between half-timers and full-timers was very small indeed. The objection to the half-time system would disappear if sufficient evening continuation schools were established, and if attendance were made compulsory. In the textile trade the children suffered neither mentally nor physically under the half-time system, and if they were prevented from learning the rudiments of their business until they were 14 years of age, they would find the work more difficult to master.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said that one of the most important questions raised that afternoon was in the brief speech made by the Vice President of the Council, when he put his finger on one of the most regrettable incidents connected with our educational system. He believed that his right hon. Friend the Member for the London University was not altogether accurate in saying that the Committee had no material before it in order to discuss these Estimates. He had before him a return published by the Education Department this year in which the whole of the figures were incorporated, and which subsequently formed the Report of the Education Department. He was anxious to press on the Committee the enormous waste of public money which was annually incurred through the gross irregularity of attendance in our schools. Last year, according to this return, there were on the registers of schools 5,433,000 children, but in actual average attendance there were only 4,447,000—that was, for every, half-day of the whole school year, 1,000,000 children were away from the places provided for them in the schools. The slightest acquaintance with our school work would con- 320 vince any one that there were places, teachers, equipment, buildings maintained and educational machinery in operation for four-fifths of the children who ought to be in the schools. He admitted that they could not have cent. per cent. of attendance in the schools, but he contended that the Department might secure a better result than 81.6 per cent. He had worked the figures out, and he found them to be 81.6 per cent. this year. The proportion was the same 12 months ago, so that in this respect they had remained absolutely stationary; there was a greater number of children on the registers, but the proportion of children absent remained practically the same. He urged on the Vice President the desirableness of estimating the average attendance in rural schools, not on the actual number of days the schools were open, but, say, on the minimum number of attendances during the year. In rural districts, where children had to travel two or three miles in a storm sometimes, about 95 per cent. of the children were unable to reach the school doors, and thus the school suffered a material loss at the close of the year through the grants being reduced. It was also a regrettable fact that a large number of families persistently evaded our educational machinery. No sooner were they caught by the attendance authorities in one district, and the law was set in motion and its final result in that district secured, than the family migrated across the street and the entire operation of evasion began again. He agreed with the statement of the Vice President that some small School Boards could not be reformed, but that they must be swept away entirely. Where School Boards were in this condition, the result was largely due to the regrettable state of public opinion on which they relied. The parents and the School Attendance Committees were practically defeating the Act of Parliament which they were expected to see carried out. But this was not a question entirely waiting for legislation. He believed that the Department might do much more if the inspectors carried out more fully the instructions they had received to pay attention to the attendance in our schools. The reform in our system of inspection would set them free to give greater attention to this pressing question. He pressed on the attention of the 321 Vice President this important feature of our school work—that there was a waste of time and money through the irregularity of attendance, much of which might be prevented. But apart from the irregularity extending through the whole of the standards, he directed attention to the falling off in the upper standards of our elementary schools. From the age of six to 12 the attendance in each class remained roughly the same. In last year's return of children between the age of six and seven there were 600,000; between seven and eight, 597,000; between eight and nine, 603,000; between 9 and 10, 609,000; between 10 and 11,600,000, resulting in a drop the following year to 476,000, while the drop in attendance of children at 13 years of age came to 205,000. What, then, was the good of asking that additional class subjects should be taken up, like history, music, and elementary science, when nearly half the children were lost when 11 years of age? Indeed, the children in our elementary schools were learning that vocabulary at the age when in better class homes children were familiar with it at the age of four and five years. He was as anxious as anyone to see the curriculum of our elementary schools made as wide as possible, and he thought that there was room for reform in this direction; but until the children were kept in our primary schools for two or three years beyond the age of 11, it would be utterly impossible for the country to accomplish what so many educationalists desired. As to half-timers, he said that he had heard some strange statements made during the course of these Debates, but he had heard nothing more surprising that the statement of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester that those children accomplished in one-half the time as much as the other children accomplished in the whole time. That argument would lead them to cut the system down by another half.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY
maintained that it was not a question of fact, and said that what had been accomplished was accomplished with a maximum of drudgery to the child. He mentioned the experience of children in the north of England who were physically over- 322 strained to the extent of fainting by the present system, and stated that while adults demanded an eight hours' day, the children had to work in a mill for six hours, and then had to attend for three hours at school in the afternoon. Although admirable results had sometimes been secured from half-time children, it had only been done by the exercise of a considerable amount of over-pressure on the child and drudgery on the part of the teacher. The fact that our continuation schools were so poorly attended was due to the fact that in earlier years the existing system did not sufficiently attract the children to school and caused them to look with repulsion on every item of educational effort. He longed for the period when the pledges given at the Berlin Conference might be redeemed. A system was retained in this country which was abolished elsewhere, and he believed that the time was coming when there would not be an industrial constituency in the country in which a Parliamentary candidate would dare to support the half-time system, because the working classes were coining round to the view that this system was injuring their children. [Cheers.] No good would be accomplished until they had the children at school regularly day by day—when they were registering with the children present, but when it would be a much easier task to register the children who were absent as they did in Germany when the public and this House realised that nothing could be more profitably spent than that spent on the education of the children. The State had taken care, at all events during late years, to see that efficient teachers were engaged, but the State had been sadly negligent in its duty in seeing that the teachers retained in the school were efficient. How could men at the age of 80, or even 70, retain the vitality and elasticity necessary to adapt the adult mind to the requirements of little children? How could the money that the Committee was going to vote be spent wisely and judiciously when some part of it must be applied to salaries of men and women who were years past teaching work; and who, in some cases, were kept in their positions out of pure charity on the part of managers of schools? Nothing would more conduce to the efficient working of our educational machinery 323 than the establishment at an early day of a complete scheme whereby aged and inefficient teachers might be removed, and younger and more able men and women able to take their place. He sincerely hoped that next Session might not pass without the carrying into legislative effect of a complete scheme for the retirement of aged teachers. A petition had just been presented praying that Article 73 of the Code might be again suspended. To that appeal he hoped the Government would turn a deaf ear. It was quite true that last year the Department did suspend the operation of that article, hut this year the position was essentially different by reason of the passing of the Education Act of this Session. The fact that that Act would be in operation in a few weeks should be sufficient argument to induce the Government to stand firm by the article in question, thereby enabling men and women to do their work effectively, and putting the primary schools in a position something approaching the secondary schools, making the classes of the poor something similar in size to the classes of those who paid for their tuition. In his opinion the great reform which had been alluded to in the Debate could not be satisfactorily accomplished until our dual system was entirely removed, and the State took over the direct charge of national education.
§ *SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said that in his constituency the system of half-timers was almost extinct. In Bradford, owing to the peculiar circumstances of industry there, a considerable number of children were employed as half-timers. In the school of which he was a manager they had half-timers; and he wished to make this frank confession, that he never saw a half-timer at any school of which he was a manager without a pang. The continuance of the half-time system was not desired by employers generally, but by the parents; and it was absolutely necessary in this, as in other matters of educational progress, to carry the parents with them. With reference to remarks made as to the comparative progress of the half-time child and the child attending full time, this fact had to be borne in mind, that the half-time child necessarily attended regularly, while the full timer did not attend with corresponding regularity. He believed 324 he was the only Member present who served on the Superannuation Committee, and he never sat on a Committee which showed greater unanimity or a more earnest desire to see that their recommendations should be carried into effect. He hoped the Government, to whichever side it might belong, would not loiter in this matter. They had lately advanced the age at which children might enter upon factory labour, but as the result of that reform, which he welcomed, they had this state of things, that they had the child ready for labour as regards the standard, but not ready as regards the statute. The consequence was, that between the time of passing the standard and the day when full age was reached, the child was unemployed, and wandering about the streets acquiring habits which were not easily or soon eradicated. He thought the Committee had some right to complain that not only the Report of the Committee of Council should not be delivered when they were entering upon this discussion, but that the report on a most important branch of the subject—namely, the Training Colleges—should be placed in their hands only an hour or two before the commencement of the Debate. He congratulated the country on the improvement which the Report showed to be going on in the Training Colleges. There was a deficiency in accommodation for women at present which, he hoped, would soon be remedied, as, until it was, education must suffer. He was glad to notice improvements in the buildings, in provision for games, and in the use of recreation rooms. There was a remarkable passage in the Report referring to the importance of improving the social element in the training colleges. He fully agreed that one of the most important reforms which could be effected in our system of elementary education was to have a mixing of classes in the colleges. The association with ladies and gentlemen coming from refined homes would be of the greatest benefit to the teachers individually and to their profession. He was very glad to notice that the day colleges were so well spoken of. At the Manchester College a hostel had been established for the benefit of the women students, who were thus provided with a resort for their leisure hours; and of the Leeds College, it was so that the teachers 325 there received an excellent training both in the theory and practice of education. His fear had been that in the effort to give a wide and general education to students, sufficient attention would not be paid to the art of teaching.
§ MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
said that in February last year, he asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government intended to introduce a Measure during the Session dealing with the superannuation of teachers. The reply was that the Government had hopes of being able to do so. On February 21 of last year the Vice President of the Council said that be earnestly hoped that many weeks would not elapse before he was able to introduce a Bill providing for a superannuation scheme, "which the House desires to pass, and everyone else desires to have passed." Those declarations might not amount to a pledge, but they entitled the Committee to some explanation of the fact that 16 months had passed without anything, being done.
§ MR. McKENNA
said that he would content himself with recalling to the Government that the House had unanimously passed a. Resolution in favour of teachers' superannuation and that nothing had been done to carry out that Resolution.
§ MR. EVELYN HUBBARD (Lambeth, Brixton)
called attention to the practical failure of the Conscience Clause to do justice to Church of England children under certain conditions of School Board management. He hoped that in this matter he would have the sympathies of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had always posed as the champions of religious liberty. Under the Orpington Board there were two schools. Three years ago the Vicar, finding the religious education given in the schools to be unsatisfactory, tried to improve it by offering prizes. The Board accepted the offer, but allowed the matter to drop. The question was raised at the next election, and the Vicar was returned at the head of the poll in order that something might be done to meet the deficiency. In the autumn of that year, as the accommodation was found to be insufficient, the Vicar offered to provide Church schools for the 326 required purpose. But this offer was declined, and nothing was done. Last year a test ease was brought forward, and two chidren were withdrawn from the schools in the hours of religious instruction. The parents alleged as a reasonable excuse, that the children received adequate religious instruction elsewhere, namely, at the hands of the Vicar. It was demanded that the children so withdrawn should not be subjected to any disparaging treatment, and to this demand the Board assented. The Vicar then sent a circular to 100 parents saying that he was ready to give Church of England children religious instruction. The offer was accepted by 96 children. Then a request was made to the Board to alter the time of religious instruction in the schools, so as to enable the Vicar to get his class together, and the children to get back to school. This request the Board refused, on the ground that they could not give any assistance to "sectarian teaching." The Board even went further, and said that they proposed to diminish the time allotted to religious instruction. The Vicar then asked the Board to lease him one of the class-rooms for the purpose of giving his religious instruction. This request the Board also refused, and at that point the matter now stood. Under such circumstances the Conscience Clause became a dead letter. The existing law made the School Board not only the arbiters, but also the monopolists, of religious instruction. It enabled the Board to say to the Church of England parents that if they were dissatisfied with the religious instruction given in the Board Schools, the Board would prevent their children from having any other. It seemed to hint that this was rather a mockery of the Conscience Clause. He was sure it was a result that could never be intended; he did not suppose it was ever foreseen. All he asked was that the Vice President and the Government would take this matter into consideration. It appeared to him that here was a real grievance calling for amendment. It was not for him to indicate the way in which this Amendment was to be made; but what he thought was wanted was that there should be introduced, in a future Code, if possible, some provision either that a School Board, if required by a reasonable number of 327 parents, should be obliged to lease one of the class-rooms for the use of Church teachers or the teachers of any other denomination who might wish to join in giving instruction, or that they should allow religious instruction, given by adequate and proper teachers elsewhere, to count as equivalent to the instruction given in the school, and that the children so withdrawn should not in any way be placed at a disadvantage or subject to any disparaging treatment as compared with the other children. He ventured to put it to the Vice President that if he could see his way to making it more easy for the country clergymen to do what they believed to be their duty towards Church children, he would have gone a long way towards solving the religious difficulty in the rural districts. The whole objection to Board schools was felt in many places by Churchmen because they could not get the religious teaching for the children they wanted. If they allowed them to get that religious teaching through the agency of the pastor of the parish then they would have no hesitation in supporting the Board Schools, and the Vice President would have gone a long way to solving the religious difficulty.
§ *MR. ROBERT PURVIS (Peterborough)
said it seemed they were all agreed that a great part of this £7,000,000 was likely to be wasted. Some hon. Members said this was due to the religious difficulty; others that there were too few subjects taught to these elementary school children, and it had been suggested that foreign languages and elementary natural science should be added to the subjects taught. He wished to refer the Committee to the fact that education was to be put in possession of one's own faculties, not of the information of other people, and it was only to be done by teaching subjects well, and in order to teach these poor little children subjects well there must be few subjects taught. If this huge sum were not to be wasted, and further grants of huge sums were not to be wasted in the future, he believed the principle must be few subjects better taught.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said he had put down a Motion for the reduction of the Vice President's salary in order to call attention to the very great 328 hardship inflicted on Board Schools by the withholding of the arrears due to them under the 95th Section of the Act of 1871. Personally he spoke for rather a hard case—that of Grays, in South East Essex, a manufacturing town with a poor population of about 15,000, with rather an abnormally large proportion of children; where the rates were very heavy, where the arrears at present amounted to something like £1,200, and where they were very much wanted. They approached the Education Department some time ago upon the subject, and the answer they received was that under the Circular of 1881 they were barred from making any applications with reference to these arrears. After that the hon. Member for North East Northamptonshire questioned the Vice President on the subject, and the answer the right hon. Gentleman gave was that the claims of these School Boards would receive fair consideration, mid that it was quite possible a Supplementary Vote would have to be taken on the subject. After that the Education Department handed the matter over to the Law Officers of the Crown, who gave it as their opinion that the claims were inadmissible. They entirely failed to understand that decision, and their opinion was, as he thought the views of the Vice President himself must be, that the claims were legally admissible, were thoroughly sound, and certainly ought to be paid. He regarded the way in which his constituents had been treated in this way as extremely hard and shabby, and he moved the reduction standing in his name, namely £100.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I am afraid I cannot put that, because there is already a Motion for reduction before the Committee.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
referred to the fact that in Scotland no more than two class subjects were paid for. The reason for the change which had been made was that it was thought better that two class subjects should be well taught than that three class subjects should be taught in a perfunctory manner. The hon. Baronet the Member for Wigan had pointed out what he believed to be the great weakness of the 329 English system. That was in regard to the training colleges, and to their not having sufficient trained teachers. Their teaching staff consisted of 112,000 teachers. Of these 53,000 were certificated; 28,000 were assistant teachers, and 31,000 were pupil teachers. Roughly speaking they had 50 per cent. of certificated teachers who were divided into the two classes of trained and untrained teachers. By trained teachers they meant technically, one who had two years' training at a training college, and an untrained teacher was one who had not received that training. That trained teachers had very great advantages over untrained teachers in educational work all authorities agreed. Each class had to pass the Queen's College examinations, but only the first 2,200 who passed were admitted to training colleges, simply because there was only- accommodation for that number, although England required 5,000 teachers annually. Of the whole number only 2,200 were sent to training colleges, though presumably those who did not pass in the first 2,200 were those who most required the training. In the Report of the Education Department for last year it was asserted that of those who were not sent to training colleges a considerable proportion could only be considered untrained in a. technical sense, they having been assistants under the best masters, and no doubt that would be the effect of the answers of the Vice President. No statistics, however, were forthcoming, and in the nature of things it would be those who had been assistants under the best masters who would come out best in the examinations, and it might be doubted if any very considerable number of the remainder were as highly qualified as was stated. There was as a very reliable test as to the difference in intellectual ability between trained and untrained teachers. Both classes had to pass the same examination for certificates, and statistics just issued showed the results of these examinations last year. Taking the second year's examinations, of the trained male teachers, 62 per cent. passed in the first or highest division, 36 per cent. in the second division, 1 per cent. in the third, and 1 per cent. failed. Of the untrained teachers in the same examination, 10 per cent. passed in the first division, 42 per 330 cent. in the second, 47 per cent. in the third, and 1 per cent. failed. Then, of the female teachers—and they were more than 50 per cent. of the teachers in English schools—among those who bad been through the training colleges, 54 per cent. passed in the first division, 40 per cent. in the second, 5 per cent. in the third, and 1 per cent. failed. Of the untrained female teachers at the same examination, 2 per cent. passed in the first division, 18 per cent. in the second, 62 per cent. in the third, and 18 per cent. failed. Nothing could more clearly show the difference in qualification between trained mid untrained teachers. Year after year inspectors in their reports had drawn attention to this subject, and still this blot remained on our educational system, and recently the proportion of untrained to trained teachers had been increased. He was not surprised at remarks upon superannuation, and as the numbers of untrained teachers were growing so in large numbers, in the next ten or twenty years they would have to be superseded by a new supply. Every year 5,000 additional teachers were required and added to the certificated list, but the training colleges could only produce 2,200. In the main these colleges were denominational, but there should be a training college under State supervision for the supply of trained teachers for the Board Schools, where more than half the population were educated. If you require 5,000 teachers and only qualify 2,200, necessarily you "bear" the market and salaries will go up. Necessarily the salaries of trained teachers would increase, because the required number were not produced. A serious result of this was that trained teachers went. to Board Schools and to large centres of population, the refuse went to country schools, and year by year the teaching in country schools became more inefficient. English education would not improve until there was a full supply of trained teachers, and the expenditure upon training colleges more than doubled. They might spend their seven millions as they liked, but depend upon it, they would never produce good results until they went to the root of tile matter and had every teacher trained who was qualified to pass the examination. Instead of there being 2,200 students in the training 331 colleges, there ought to be at least 5,000. They had an increased school attendance every year, but no allowance whatever was made for this increase in the provision for training teachers. He ventured to say that until they remedied this state of things, and until they had training colleges sufficient to train every teacher who ought to be in charge of a school, they would never produce any good educational result whatever.
§ SIR J. GORST
remarked that several questions had been imported into the discussion which he would no doubt be expected to answer. He was afraid he should not be in order if lie said anything on the question of teachers' pensions, except to assure the Committee that the views which had been expressed would be communicated by him to the Lord President of the Council, and he had no doubt that when the programme of legislation for next Session was being prepared those views would be taken into careful consideration. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Nottingham about the Jubilee holiday, the policy of the Education Department was to leave the matter in the hands of the managers of schools. He had no doubt whatever that the managers would do what they thought right with regard to the wishes which had been communicated from an august quarter. The Department would give every facility to, enable managers, if they thought fit, to give the suggested holidays. Unless they had already given an inordinate amount of holiday, there was no reason whatever why managers could not give a holiday to celebrate Her Majesty's Jubilee; and if under special circumstances it happened that the giving of this holiday brought the attendance down to below the required yearly standard the Department would no doubt use the power of dispensation it possessed to meet any case of the kind. ["Hear, hear!"] He felt strongly the importance of the remarks made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London as to the various subjects which a well-educated boy and girl ought to know. But he must confess that, until Parliament, or rather the people of this country, were persuaded to devote a longer period to the education of their children, it would be impossible to increase the number of subjects 332 taught in elementary schools. He believed that, if anything, they had erred on the side of doing too much. ["Hear, hear!] He quite agreed that these things ought to be taught; but it seemed to him that a preliminary step was to give the teachers longer time in which to teach them. ["Hear, hear!] A good deal had been said about the lateness of the Report. He had made inquiries, and he found that this year the Report was two months earlier than usual. It was issued in July, whereas generally it was not ready until August or September. The Committee had ample materials for the discussion of the Estimate before it in the statistics contained in the papers referred to by the hon. Member for West Ham, which had been some time in the hands of Members, and which gave all the figures and other particulars necessary for the discussion of this subject. A special effort had been made to get these Papers laid before the House as soon as possible; and certainly in the present year they were earlier, not later, than in former years. Two hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies made a sort of faint but patriotic protest against the appointment made some time ago of a chief inspector for Wales, who had the great deficiency of being unable to speak the Welsh language. They themselves admitted that the gentleman appointed was a most excellent inspector. He was sure that the Welsh people had derived very great advantage from his services to education in Wales, and he thought from the way in which hon. Members spoke they had already found what an extremely valuable man he was. There could be no doubt that he was far superior to any of the inspectors who could speak Welsh. If his noble Friend the President of the Council had gone down the list and taken an inspector who could speak Welsh, he would have had to pass him over the heads of a very great number of men senior to him and quite competent for the office of chief inspector. The district assigned to this chief inspector was a part of Wales where the people, if they spoke Welsh, also thoroughly understood the English language and where a knowledge of Welsh was not so important to an inspector. He was informed that, as regarded the duty of chief inspector, a knowledge of 333 the Welsh language was not absolutely essential. No doubt it was desirable, and he had no doubt that in making an appointment his noble Friend would take note of a knowledge of Welsh as a very valuable adjunct to other qualifications. But he understood it was not absolutely essential. He was quite sure that there was no intention whatever of undervaluing the great importance of an acquaintance with Welsh; but, as he had said, there was no gentleman possessing that qualification at all near on the list, and it was thought better, on the whole, to take the person appointed rather than go down low in the list for the purpose of taking some one who did possess it. The hon. Member for North Caernarvonshire gave the Committee excellent advice about pupil teachers. He thoroughly agreed with almost every word he said. At present there was a Departmental Committee sitting on the subject of the education of pupil teachers, and it would be inappropriate if he said anything as to the opinions of the Committee of Council until that Committee had reported. In Wales, it was fair to say, they had the advantage of a public system of secondary education, in which teachers might be trained; but in England, unfortunately, we had nothing of the kind at present. It was, no doubt, most desirable that teachers should spend the younger years of their lives rather in acquiring knowledge than in acting as school drudges. He did not think we should ever get a satisfactory body of teachers in this country until we had some plan by which young persons who adopted the profession of teacher were sent at the public expense to secondary schools during the early years of their training. ["Hear, hear!] His noble Friend the Member for Oxford was anxious that Article 73 of the Code be postponed. This article, which prescribed a not very severe rate of staffing in all schools, was put into the Code sonic years ago before the present Government came into office. Last year, when the Bill for the relief of Voluntary Schools failed to pass, its operation was postponed. But there was now no occasion for postponing it any further—["hear, hear!"]—because, although the special aid grant for the present year was not yet distributed, and some months might elapse before it was distributed, 334 yet it was payable as from April 1, and therefore it was a payment to be looked forward to, and it would cover the whole period front April 1 up to the time of the distribution of the grant. He quite admitted the grievance as to Voluntary Schools in parishes where there were School Boards. There were many cases all over the country of parishes amply supplied with Voluntary Schools which, nevertheless, had to pay full rates to the School Board districts in which they were incorporated for which they got no return. That was a very large question which could not be dealt with except by legislation. At any rate, it was not a matter which the Department could alter, and he thought it was really the function of the Local Government Board to move for a remedy of the grievance. He fully recognised the grievance which had been brought before the Committee by another hon. Member, who had given a concrete instance of what he himself had expressed in general terms earlier in the evening, namely, that the existing Conscience Clause was not a perfect system of toleration. Under the present law it was in the power of school managers, whether Voluntary or School Board, to exercise a certain amount of tyranny over those who did not agree with their religious opinions. Very happily this power was scarcely ever exercised. He believed that both School Board and Voluntary managers were generally animated by a spirit of toleration, by a willingness to allow any reasonable arrangement to be made by which children could receive the particular religious instruction their parents desired. But, no doubt, as the law stood there was a power of intolerance, and it was a power that had been exercised by the officer of the School Board to which the hon. Member's remarks referred. The hon. Member asked that that should be remedied by the Code. They could not remedy it by the Code. It could only be remedied by legislation, and he did not know whether the House had become sufficiently educated in tolerance to entertain another attempt to remedy it by legislation. In the last Session of Parliament Members generally were rather in favour of leaving things as they were. He was fully conscious of the imperfections of the system of toleration under which they now 335 lived, but he was afraid they could never hope to adopt a really tolerant system until the House itself was better educated, and until public opinion had learned to treat with a little tenderness the feeling of the minority, so that parents might have their children taught in the religion which they themselves professed. The lion. and gallant. Member for Essex had complained of the shabbiness of the Education Department in regard to the arrears under the 97th section of the Education Act. That shabbiness was imposed upon the Education Department by the Law Officers of the Crown. The Education Department was not allowed to be liberal and generous. It had to expend its money under the authority of the law, and could not make payments unless those payments were legally due. The opinion of the Law Officers had been taken, and everything that could be legally paid to School Boards in the shape of arrears had been paid or was being paid. Beyond that it was impossible to go.
§ *MR. W. WOODALL (Hanley)
observed that it would have been satisfactory to the Committee if they could have had some assurance from the Vice President that it was the intention of the Government to persist in that part of the policy contained in the ill-fated Bill of last year which related to the raising of the age of exemption from school attenddance, and which received the unanimous assent of all sides of the House. He urged the importance of making the elementary schools thoroughly efficient, for unless they did so it was utterly hopeless to expect to have any adequate system of secondary or technical instruction. Germany, which offered them many lessons in this respect, had, throughout the Empire, made 14 years the minimum age of attendance at primary schools. As the lion. Member for Sheffield had pointed out, the school attendance did not cease even at the accomplishment of the fourteenth year, for there were continuation schools, evening schools, and Sunday schools, at which attendance in most of the States was obligatory, and where this course of primary instruction was carried on up to 17 years of age. He agreed with much that had fallen from the hon. Member for Peter- 336 borough. What they did teach in their schools they ought certainly to take care to teach efficiently. But that was no reason why they should content themselves with being behind every other civilised country in the world, and teaching less than the subjects with which other countries fortified their people to come into sharp and successful competition with themselves. If they could increase the age at which school attendance was necessary, a very great step would have been accomplished. Again, the staffs in their schools were very insufficient, and the qualification for the teachers far below what was requisite for the successful prosecution of the work in which they were engaged. It was appalling to hear the Member for Nottingham telling them that 100, or more than 100 children in some cases, were confided to the care of one teacher, who might or might not be certificated, or might not be thoroughly trained. How could they hope for good results from a system which permitted of such things? They were spending millions of money, but they were doing their work in such an inefficient and unsatisfactory manner that a great part of it was lost when the children were liberated from the necessity of school attendance. If they could hope to have some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government would avail themselves of some opportunity to give effect to that which they had acknowledged to be their policy, and endeavour to secure the assent of Parliament to an extension of the school age, then he thought they would have earned the gratitude of men of all political parties in that House. They must not, however, stop there, but must proceed to promote the efficiency of education by making the staffs larger and the qualification for the teachers more adequate to the requirements of the age. It had been stated by the Vice President in the course of the Debate that the pupil teachers in some cases were mere school drudges, and how could they hope, when they employed pupil teachers as cheap labourers, to make proper teachers out of them, or that the children under their care could be properly educated? He trusted that much also might be done by the Government to continue the policy which the Depart- 337 ment had committed themselves to for some time in improving the sanitary conditions of the schools, and providing a larger area per child, so that when they came to discuss the Estimates, year by year, they might be able to congratulate themselves not merely upon the larger number of children for whom grants were paid, but upon a great improvement in the average attendance which would be brought about, in his opinion, by making the schools more attractive and working upon the public opinion of the parents themselves.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
asked leave to withdraw his Amendment, as he was convinced that the discussion that had taken place with regard to the Heywood schools would be productive of good results.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said he rose to draw attention to the interpretation put by the Education Department upon the 98th Section of the Education Act of 1870. That section provided that if the managers of any school which was situated in a School Board district, and which school was not receiving a Parliamentary grant, desired a Parliamentary grant, the Education Department might, if they thought that such school was unnecessary, refuse such application. In practice the Department invariably sent the request of the school seeking the grant to the School Board authority in the area, and if they thought fit to sanction the school, the Education Department sanctioned the school. If, on the ether hand, the School Board authority said the school was not necessary the Department refused the grant. That state of things had resulted in gross injustice being done. He was sure his right hon. Friend the Vice President was personally opposed to any unfair treatment being meted out to individual schools or classes of schools, and he merely rose to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the operation of the section. In the last Parliament he put a question on the subject to his right hon. Friend's predecessor, and the answer given by the then Vice President was that he had simply acted in the same way as his predecessors, and he did not propose to make any alteration. There 338 could be no doubt that the intention was that the Department itself should determine whether a school was necessary or not. In the case of Roman Catholic Schools, for instance, the present state of things worked very unfairly. The Roman Catholics in the Division he represented required proper accommodation for their children, they erected a school in a School Board area, and having erected the school they applied to the Department fur a Parliamentary grant, the education given being, of course, efficient. The answer given by the right lion. Gentleman's predecessor was that t here were already a sufficient number of school places in the district; and, therefore, there was no statistical necessity for further school accommodation. The Department maintained that they had nothing to do with the religious question, and they refused to make a grant. That was a very great hardship to the Roman Catholics of his constituency. He trusted that if any cases of this kind came before the Vice President the right hon. Gentleman would not relegate to any School Board authority the discretion whether a grant should be made or not, but would exercise the discretion which it was clear Parliament intended the Department itself to exercise.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said a good deal had been said as to the tenderness which ought to be shown towards minorities in School Board districts in respect to their religious susceptibilities. He wished it were possible for the Education Department to show greater regard for the susceptibilities of majorities in Wales. He agreed with what had been said as to the undesirableness of leaving education in rural districts to small School Boards, and he trusted that some time or other the Vice President of the Council would find an opportunity of embodying the proposals in the first part of his Bill of last year in a form which would commend itself to the majority of the Members of the House. He thought that the answers of the right hon. Gentleman were of a very trivial character. He regretted that he should choose to repudiate—
§ SIR J. GORST
said he had repudiated nothing. He had said over and over again that he was not the head of the Education Department, that the head of it was the Lord President, 339 and that he was prepared to defend the acts of the Lord President. They were not his acts.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he was very glad to hear that statement, and he should therefore apply his observations to the Lord President of the Council. Still, the right hon. Gentleman represented the Lord President, and he challenged the action of the Lord President. The right hon. Gentleman had said that there was nothing incompatible in the appointment with the absolute necessity for the due performance of his duties that the chief inspector should have a knowledge of the Welsh language. That was a remarkable statement. They had a population of a million who spoke the Welsh language, and they had half a million who understood no other language at all. The English was a strange foreign language to the children attending the schools. How could the right hon. Gentleman expect the children to learn a foreign tongue when the inspector appointed to direct the education of the children of half-a-dozen counties did not understand the Welsh language? The right hon. Gentleman had committed himself to the utterly ridiculous proposition that language had nothing to do with the chief inspector. What would he say to the appointment of an inspector, say, in India or Mashonaland, who had no knowledge of the language? He must say he did not understand the defence of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to Mr. Legard. It was said the majority in the eastern districts spoke English, but Mr. Legard was not merely the inspector of those districts, lie was the chief inspector of the whole Welsh district. His duty was not merely to examine the schools, but to superintend the whole of the schools in every district throughout Wales. Let them suppose the chief inspector going into any of the West districts, into Carnarvonshire or Cardiganshire. Surely he must visit those districts, or how could he properly report? One of the ideas was that Welsh should be utilised to learn English. Here were children who did not speak a word of English, and here was the chief inspector who did not speak a word of Welsh. How was he going to advise as to that district? Well now, lie must say he did not think the right hon. Gentleman would defend the 340 action of the Lord President in regard to that appointment. Was the question of 10 years' experience a more important qualification for the chief inspectorship of a district like Wales than a knowledge of Welsh? There were several, including Englishmen, who had a knowledge of Welsh, and were perfectly capable men. Why not appoint one of these? He begged formally to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
§ SIR J. GORST
had not much to add to what he had already said. He should be ill expressing the opinion of the President of the Council if he treated lightly the question of the Welsh language, but he did not like to take on himself a position which he had not got. England and Wales were under one system of elementary education, and they were constantly transferring inspectors from England to Wales, and from Wales to England. He concurred that in some parts of Wales a knowledge of Welsh was indispensable. ["Hear, hear!"] If an inspector were appointed, say, to the Island of Anglesey, without having a knowledge of Welsh, it would be a bad appointment. ["Hear, hear!"] But a chief inspector was not an examiner of schools, it was for him to superintend. He could conceive a case in which it might be desirable for the chief inspector himself to examine a school, and he admitted that he would not be able to examine a school in a Welsh-speaking district, but he would be able to call in a Welsh colleague to do it. Mr. Legard was perfectly capable of supervising the work of the inspectors, and could fulfil perfectly every function of chief inspector with the occasional rare necessity of calling in a Welsh-speaking colleague to examine a school in some Welsh-speaking district. Mr. Legard was a man of great distinction, and he thought it was a very happy thing for Wales that they had got such a man to look after the interests of their national education. Mr. Legard was also senior of those capable of being appointed to the chief inspectorship, and the question was—Was he to be passed over? A suitable Welsh-speaking man could not be found until 40 had been passed over. That was the whole story; but he was not surprised that Members for Welsh constituencies had raised the question, as it showed their patriotism 341 and their appreciation of their national language.
§ MR. THOMAS ELLIS (Merionethshire)
thought that the Vice President had been more unfortunate in his second speech than in his first. In his first speech the right lion. Gentleman minimised the complaint made by his two lion. Friends, while in the second he minimised the most difficult problem the Department had to deal with in respect to inspectors and schoolmasters in Wales. What was that problem? It was not a matter of sentiment or patriotism. It was a practical problem that had to be dealt with every morning and afternoon by hundreds of schoolmasters in Wales and by every inspector who tried to do his duty. Close upon 1,000,000 in their everyday conversation and in their religious exercises almost exclusively used the Welsh language. Half of them were exclusively Welsh speaking, and the other half, though they could speak English fairly well, much preferred their own language. The problem was how to apply a system meant for an exclusively English speaking people to a people one-third of whom were monoglots and two-thirds more Welsh than English. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman had said that England and Wales were one in this matter, and that the inspectors were transferred from one to the other indiscriminately. That only betrayed the right hon. Gentleman's ignorance of the matter. On every page of the Schedule attached to the annual Code there was an alternative scheme for teaching Welsh in Welsh schools. The Department had gone to immense trouble to fit a Code meant for an English-speaking people to an entirely different set of circumstances in Wales. ["Hear, hear!"] They had had not merely to submit an alternative course in the Code, but they had had to appoint to the inspectorate and assistant inspectorate in Wales men conversant with the Welsh language. They knew that it was only in this way that they could hope to deal with the 342 problem that confronted them in the elementary schools practically all over Wales. With the exception of the southern parts of Monmouthshire, Radnorshire, and the eastern parts of Brecknockshire, there was not a single county in Wales in which there was not a very large proportion of Welsh-speaking children.
§ MR. THOMAS ELLIS
admitted that in South Pembrokeshire there had hitherto existed a large infusion of English, but he would like the right lion. Gentleman to visit the schools in North Pembrokeshire and find out which was the prevalent language. With regard to Southern Pembrokeshire, so far from the English area increasing, it was actually decreasing, for the farmers from Northern Pembrokeshire were coming down into. what used to be exclusively an English area. ["Hear, hear!"] In the Instructions issued by the Department to the inspectors, it was stated that in the case of Wales it was clear that the habit in many of the Welsh-speaking districts to use the Welsh language in the schools side by side with English would greatly facilitate the intelligent understanding of English. The Instructions went on to say that it was desirable that the attention of the teachers should be called to this, and that the inspectors should encourage the practice by themselves using the Welsh language in testing the children. ["Hear, hear!''] If that meant anything, it meant that the Education Department would send into Wales inspectors who knew Welsh well, and they had so far carried that out as to make most of their appointments in accordance with that view. It was, therefore, to be expected that the Department would take special care to appoint as chief inspector a moan who would come up to that ideal. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to make an apology for the appointment of 343 Mr. Legard by saying that he had been placed in an exclusively English-speaking district, but, as a matter of fact, there were no exclusively English-speaking districts in Wales. But, even if there were, was it not a mockery to put at the head of the inspectorate of Wales a gentleman who could not possibly carry out the Instructions issued by the Education Department itself I It was not right to send to Welsh schools an inspector who did not possess the key which would enable him to unlock the door of the children's understanding and intelligence. Under the watchful care of the late chief inspector excellent progress was made in the education of Welsh children. The appointment under consideration was, however, a ludicrous one. He had no doubt that the gentleman selected would be an admirable inspector in England, but he ought not to have been placed at the head of the inspectorate in Wales, where the predominant problem was the bilingual question.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
thought that the answer of the Vice President was unsatisfactory. This was not a question of patriotism, but a question of education. The Vice President admitted that the teachers ought to know Welsh and the inspectors also, except in one or two districts. The irresistible conclusion from these admissions was that the chief inspector himself ought to know Welsh. According to the right hon. Gentleman, however, the chief inspector might be without the very qualifications which were required in those below him. The chief inspector's duties were twofold. In some respects his duties were those of an ordinary inspector, and his qualifications ought, therefore, to include a knowledge of Welsh, but his principal duty was to consider and determine whether the inspectors who worked under him were competent to do their work. If that was so, and if it was admitted that an ordinary inspector ought to know Welsh a fortiori the chief inspector ought also to have a knowledge of that 344 language. But the gentleman who bad been appointed had not that knowledge, and when he went to Anglesey to ascertain whether the inspector there was doing his work properly he would have to call in to assist him the very inspector whose work he was supposed to overlook. The Vice President had failed to justify this appointment, and it was a bad appointment. Having regard to the circumstances under which it was made it ought to be condemned not only by the Welsh Members but by the Committee generally.
§ MR. J. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)
asked whether the Report issued in connection with the Science and Art Department, recommending that no further Science and Art schools should be opened excepting under the advice and counsel of the education authority of a district was to be embodied in the Code? Was this the first step towards drawing the line between elementary and secondary education—to which change they were all looking forward in the near future? He also wished to know the nature of the educational authority under whose advice Science and Art schools would be opened?
§ MR. CALDWELL
said he wished to ask how it was that the right hon. Gentleman estimated that the increase in average attendance this year would be only 1 per cent.? The normal average increase had hitherto been 2 per cent., and the additional financial assistance given this year to schools ought surely to result in a further increase. He further wished to know whether the Department had any Report from the Director of Public Inquiry, and if not, when they expected it? There was a scarcity of male pupil teachers for the country schools. This was due to the fact that the male pupil teachers educated in the country had to compete with pupil teachers from the borough schools, where they had every opportunity to pass the examination by the establishment of central classes. The country teacher 345 was unduly handicapped, he was becoming more and more untrained, and the supply of teachers was becoming exhausted.
§ SIR J. GORST
pointed out, in reply to the hon. Member for Keighley, that his question related to the growth of the Science and Art Department, and that this subject would come on for discussion when the present Vote was disposed of. As to other criticisms, he stated that there had been no breach of continuity in the Estimates, and that the true increase in the average attendance this year would be about the same as the year before. It would be an excellent thing if drill could be made compulsory in all schools. Many School Boards at present had drill in their schools, but he was afraid that the country was not quite ripe for the introduction of drill as a compulsory subject in our schools. He agreed with the recommendation as to large districts for school administrative purposes, but the Education Department had no power to set up those districts in which isolated school areas could be federated. This reform must be brought about by legislation, and no improvement would ensue until the end had been achieved by means of legislation.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
asked whether the Department were taking any steps to bring under their cognisance the children who were at present under the Poor Law Schools. What was the state of the matter at the present moment? There were an enormous number of children in the workhouses who were educated in those establishments or in some way under the care of the Guardians. Those children were not under the educational system of the country at all. Their teachers were not under the same system as those of the ordinary elementary schools. They were of an inferior order, necessarily so because their promotion was interfered with by a separate and small Department. The methods of examination, 346 the subjects taught, were all different, and a great deal of difficulty was introduced into the elementary schools by this want of harmony, a large number of those children being only for a short time in the workhouse schools. They were transferred for one portion of the year from one system of education to the other, so that they were in a state of confusion in their whole educational training. There was great backwardness in the education of such children, arising from this cause. Yet these were children for whom education was perhaps even more vitally necessary than in the case of any others. All he was claiming was that those children should be brought under the same inspection as those of the ordinary elementary schools. Several Boards of Guardians had intimated their complete willingness that the money they got for those children should be made entirely dependent upon the grant, so that they would not endeavour in the slightest way to get a double grant for those children. He referred more particularly to the Board of Guardians for the parish which he had the honour to represent, who were desirous of being placed under the Department, so as to have the means of improving the education they give to the children. Upon the desirability of the question whether the education of those children should be under the control of the Education Department and correlated with the ordinary elementary education of the country, there would not be two opinions in the House or in the country, and he had never been able to understand how it came about, now that the Local Government Board had turned in favour of the change, that the Education Department saw a lion in the path. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman whose zeal for the better training of pauper children they all recognised, not to allow his desire to make a large and complete scheme stand in the way of this little piece of obvious reform. 347 He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would do this—where Boards of Guardians, who were devoting themselves to the better education of the children under their care, came and requested that their children should be placed under the ordinary educational inspection of the country, would he grant that request? His question was a very definite one, and he hoped some slight elasticity might be manifested by the Department in this respect. What was the state of the matter at the present moment? The fault of our Education Department was that it was not conducted by people whose hearts were in education.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that wherever guardians sent the Poor Law children to the ordinary elementary schools, and in ordinary clothes, not in uniform, the best results had been achieved. But the request made by the hon. Gentleman was very different. It was that where the guardians had massed Poor Law children into these large schools of 800 and 1,000 children, the Education Department should undertake, not the whole management of the children, but one very small part of it, the schooling. The schooling in these schools was very bad. About two years ago Sir J. Fitch went to every one of the Poor Law schools in London and examined them, and he reported that the education was miserably inefficient and far below that given in the ordinary schools of the country. The Education Department was asked to undertake the inspection of these large schools, but there would be no security that any of the inspector's recommendations would be carried out.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that these schools had no grant. He could understand the boards of guardians wishing to get some part of the cost of the schools out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ SIR J. GORST
said that they wanted to substitute the education grant for the rates. It was easily conceivable that the guardians wished to spare the rates by receiving a grant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but whether Parliament would consent to subsidise the rates in that way was questionable; and unless the grant were made dependent on the reports of the inspection, the schools could not be put in the same state of efficiency as the ordinary elementary schools. The only way to break up these large Poor Law schools was for the guardians to send the children to the ordinary schools, and in that effort he wished them God speed.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
quite agreed that wherever the Poor Law children had been sent to the ordinary schools the experiment had proved a blessing. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee reported almost unanimously in favour of the Education Department undertaking the inspection of the Poor Law schools. That would be an excellent service to the Poor Law children. The teachers in the Poor Law schools were not certificated. If both teachers and children were brought under the Education Department, the reports of the inspectors would expose to the country what was discreditable. He agreed that the large Poor Law schools ought to be broken up.
§ *MR. WOODALL
was understood to ask the Vice President whether, in reference to compulsory drill, he had overlooked the fact that Swedish or other drill was a condition of the higher grant for discipline and organisation, and whether experience had been so unsatisfactory that he was disposed to qualify it, or whether he might not take it that the opinion of the Education Department was strongly in favour of the encouragement of some of those systems of which the Swedish was a conspicuous type?
§ *MR. WOODALL
also desired to know how far the Vice President accepted the 349 conclusion of the Rev. T. W. Sharpe that the time allowed for the instruction of the children in the schools for the blind and deaf was insufficient for their thorough training, and whether they might hope that the grant would be extended for instruction carried on for a longer period than that defined in the Act. He should also like to know how far the right hon. Gentleman was satisfied with the teachers for these afflicted children?
§ SIR J. GORST
said a deputation was received by the Lord President on this subject a short time ago, and it was then pointed out that it was impossible to carry out the wishes of the deputation without legislation. How soon or how far the Government might be able to undertake legislation he could not say. The supply of teachers was very far short of the demand. He had no doubt they would improve in this respect, as he hoped they would improve in others, and that the class of teachers would be more adequate to the necessities of the case.
§ *MR. WOODALL
asked if the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that progress of a satisfactory kind was being made in this respect?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that, in consequence of the unsatisfactory character of the reply of the Vice President on the subject of the appointment of Mr. Legard, he must press the reduction of the Vote he had moved to a Division.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £4,305,910, be granted for the said service.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 37; Noes, 114.—(Division List, No. 238.)
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said the Vice President earlier in the evening expressed himself in condemnation of the intolerant manner in which the Orpington School Board had acted in violation 350 of the spirit of the Conscience Clause, but he said the Department had no power to compel compliance with the spirit of the clause. Ho would suggest that the Committee had a very efficient means of dealing with the matter. Suppose the Committee reduced the Vote by £100, which was about the amount to which the Orpington School would be entitled in respect to the scholars whose religious views had been invaded, the effect would be that the Orpington School would be fined £100 for intolerant conduct, and School Boards in the future would be deterred from this invasion of the Conscience Clause, and parents would be able to exact full regard to their religious principles. He formally moved the reduction of the Vote by £99, not with the intention of pressing the Motion, but to elicit a further statement from the Vice President upon this suggestion.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he was glad his hon. Friend did not propose to Divide, because the effect of such a reduction would not be to punish the Orpington Board by mulcting them in the sum of £99, but to reduce by that amount the sum distributed over the whole of the Board and Voluntary Schools in the country. The reduction could not be confined to any particular case, and would not have the effect his hon. Friend desired of imposing a penalty for the misdeeds of a particular Board. It would be out of the power of the Department so to allocate the grant as to carry out his hon. Friend's wishes.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said it would be absurd under such circumstances to press the Motion, but he hoped the Vice President would use such influence as he possessed in favour of securing toleration.
§ Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £4,306,820, be granted for the said Service," put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.351
Motion made, and Question pro-posed—
That a sum, not exceeding £549,992, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment dining the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of Science and Art, and of the various establishments connected therewith, including sundry grants in aid.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
who had given notice of Motion to reduce the Vote by £100, was sorry to interrupt his right hon. Friend, but he had been asked to bring forward certain questions by an important association, and he could not help thinking it desirable in their interests and in those of the public generally, to place his objections before the House as shortly as possible. They ought, in the first place, to recognise the readiness and the completeness with which the Vice President had redeemed his promise to give the House an opportunity of discussing the administration of the Science and Art Department.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY,
interposing, said he understood this was a Vote which hon. Members had been promised an opportunity of discussing, but he hoped they would not carry the discussion of the Estimates beyond the time at which it would be possible to consider the Scotch Estimate. He suggested that discussion on the Science and Art Vote be postponed, and that in the time remaining before taking up the Congested Districts (Scotland) grant, they might take one or two non-controversial Votes. He moved that the Vote be postponed.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
352 2. £7,434, to complete the sum the National Gallery.
§ *MR. WOODALL
asked the Secretary to the Treasury for information with regard to the removal of pictures from the National Gallery; what selection was being made from the works of modern painters with which they were all so familiar; and to what extent, and in what direction, the removal was likely to take place?
§ *MR. HANBURY
said that, so far as he knew, the only removal contemplated at present was that of the Vernon collection of the works of British artists.
§ *MR. WOODALL
asked if he understood aright that only the Vernon collection was to be removed, or were there also to be selections from the works of other modern artists?
§ *MR. HANBURY
did not know that there had been as yet any definite decision with regard to the Vernon collection, but that collection, he thought, was the only one there was any idea of removing.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Then the statement made in some of the newspapers that the National Gallery is to be denuded of the works of British artists is not a correct statement?
§ *MR. WOODALL
Can the House be given some definite idea as to the principle on which the removals are to be made?
§ *MR. HANBURY
No definite decision has been arrived at, therefore I cannot explain the principle on which it is to be taken.
Vote agreed to.
3. £3,613, to complete the sum for the National Portrait Gallery.
§ DR TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
pointed out that there was a considerable increase in salaries and wages 353 and other items, while they were not increasing the value of the collection. The items for salary had actually increased, whilst nothing whatever had been done to increase the number of pictures. He thought they were entitled to some explanation as to how this increase had arisen.
§ *MR. HANBURY
was glad to give the explanation asked for. The extra charges to which the hon. Member had alluded had arisen from the fact that last year and the year before several of the pictures were wantonly damaged. It was decided to cover a large portion of them with glass, and to put on a number of extra police for their protection. There was also an increase shown in connection with Sunday opening, and gum addition to the Clerk's salary.
§ DR. TANNER
did not regard the reply as satisfactory. It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman was locking the stable door after the horse had been stolen, or had hopped off, and instead of giving that all-round sort of explanation which he had vouchsafed, the Secretary to the Treasury ought to have told them about the increase in connection with the salaries and wages. Some of the incidental expenses might be accounted for by a certan amount of glazing which had been done to certain pictures, but it was very doubtful whether glazing pictures preserved them from injury. As he had failed to receive a satisfactory explanation as to the increase in salaries, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £50 on that head.
§ *MR. HANBURY
had really given the hon. Member a full explanation.
Vote agreed to.
4. £5 to complete the sum for the University of London agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported To-morrow. Committee to sit again To-morrow.