6. Motion made and Question proposed,—
That a sum, not exceeding £604,933, 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 Scotland.
§ *SIR JOHN LENG
desired to state the grievances of the Sub-inspectors of Schools in Scotland with regard to the denial of promotion to the higher grades of the Inspectorate. A considerable correspondence had taken place between them and the Scotch. Education Department. His hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire asked that that correspondence should be published. As that request was refused, it was necessary to bring the subject before the House. The Sub-inspectors, who now 601 included those formerly designated assistant inspectors, felt that great injustice had been done to them front time to time in placing over their heads as inspectors and chief inspectors men (1) absolutely without experience in teaching, and (2) in several instances of inferior scholarships to that which might be found among the Sub-inspectors. The Educational Institute and the teaching profession in Scotland generally sympathised with the feeling of the Sub-inspectors in this matter. The theory of the Scotch Education Department was that the Department should have a free hand to be able to select the best men—the men of the highest qualifications, for the office of Inspectors. If the practice of the Department corresponded with that theory there would be little ground of complaint, as it certainly would not involve exclusion from the area, of selection of thoroughly competent men of great experience, both in teaching and inspection, among the Sub-inspectors. He was not there to contend that. all the Sub-inspectors were qualified for promotion as Inspectors. His contention was that in their number are men quite equal in all respects to the best of their official superiors, and touch better than some of them, especially to one who was appointed so recently as August 1896, and whose appointment had raised the whole question. He did not wish to bring the name of the gentleman before the Committee, but the facts were these. Although appointed one of H.M. Inspectors of Schools he had no experience of elementary schools and no training as a teacher. His University record showed that he took five years to graduate, which a good student did in three. He took no place in the merit list in mathematics, natural philosophy, logic, or psychology. He was only twenty-third in moral philosophy and forty-first in English literature. He was sixteenth in Greek and fourteenth in Latin. In every one of these subjects he was beaten by Training College students, who were being trained as elementary teachers. What. conceivable qualification had this gentleman for the high post to which he was raised over the heads of experienced and scholarly men, who had been Assistant or Sub-inspectors for many years? The only one known in Scotland was that he acted for some time as private tutor 602 in the family of an eminent Lord of Session (Lord Kingsburgh), formerly a Member of this House. All that could be said in palliation of this case was that it was not quite so bad as a memorable one in which. a person. in Scotland, who had not, succeeded in business as a miller, had a friend who was an old college friend of the then Secretary to the Education Department. Application was made for a post under the Department, but none of a, subordinate character could be given, because the applicant could not pass the requisite examinations. The Secretary, however, suggested that if the miller would go to college to take honours in Latin he would give hint an Inspectorship for Schools, for which no examination was necessary. The young man did this, and was forthwith appointed one of Her Majesty's inspectors —having never entered the door of all elementary school till be went to inspect such schools in Aberdeenshire. It might be said these are exceptional cases. The truth was, promotion by influence rather than for merit had been the rule. Some very curious facts may be noted. A school known as Milne's Institution, Fochabers, stood at the gate of the Duke of Richmond's residence. Three times in succession the headmaster of that school was appointed right off by the Duke to the post of Her Majesty's Inspector. Was it to be supposed that on three successive occasions, when all other claims had been carefully considered in the public interest, nobody in Scotland was found to be fit for this post but the master of Milne's Institution, Fochabers, who lived at the Lord President's gate? He might refer to other cases, some of them cases of men worthy and estimable in their own way, but not at all qualified for the important duties of school inspectors. He might refer to cases in which the inspectors notoriously had had to rely on their sub-inspectors to do what they could not do themselves. But he was most anxious not to bear hardly upon individuals. It was of the system he complained, and which he wished to see altered, not so much for the sake of the sub-inspectors as of the efficiency and usefulness of the educational system in Scotland. As to scholarship, it was unquestionable that there were more scholarly men in the lower than the higher grades of the Inspectorship. 603 Three of Her Majesty's Inspectors in Scotland were not graduates; eleven, when appointed, Intel no teaching experience. Three of the four first-class sub-inspectors were not graduates. Of the second-class sub-inspectors nine were graduates. The extraordinary character of the present system was illustrated by this simple statement:—Before entering the lowest grade, stringent rules have to be satisfied. The candidate must be 25 years of age, must have been trained as a teacher, and have taken a first-class pass in the examination for certificates, and had two favourable reports on class training from an Inspector. Preference is given to Graduates. No such qualification is demanded for a full Inspectorship, and three of the present H.M. Inspectors arc not even Graduates; of the three one was a Chief Inspector.While the sub-inspectors were frequently better qualified for their work, were better scholars, better trained, and more experienced in teaching:—It is impossible to differentiate between the work actually done by the three grades of Inspectors. Sub-Inspectors of the first class were not allowed to sign their own reports. They, however, wrote these reports and decided all matters connected with a school grant without the necessity of the school being visited by their superior. On their recommendation grants were given, reduced, or withheld, and, so far as they knew, their decisions had been approved, not only by the Department., but also by school managers. Moreover, the Evening Continuation School system had hitherto been almost entirely worked by the Sub-Inspectors.It was not surprising, therefore, that they expressed the feelings of disappointment and humiliation experienced by officers who had given the best years of their lives to a conscientious and efficient discharge of their duties, and who, when a vacancy in the higher grade occurred, found that air applicant, outside the ranks of the Inspectorate, many years his junior, totally wanting in training and experience, and possibly of inferior scholarship, was nevertheless appointed over him to the post for which the sub-inspector was admitted to be qualified and to have distinctly prior claims. These feelings were kept fresh by the fact that for a considerable time such a superior required the constant guidance and advice of the subordinate officials who might be associated with him. The sub-inspectors, while doing a large part of the work of the inspectors, were not only denied the credit but were 604 blamed if they took the credit for it. His feeling was that the sub-inspectors had a strong case. The official sentiments which had been expressed were admirable, but the misfortune was that they were not acted upon. How did the statement that their merits would be fully recognised tally with the appointment in August last of a tenth-rate scholar who graduated with difficulty, and who had no school-teaching experience? How did it tally with the appointment of three teachers in succession from one school that happened to be at the Lord President's gate? How did it tally with the fact that there had been only two promotions in the last 35 years? Surely in that period of time there must have been more than two men among the sub-inspectors qualified for promotion. All that he urged was that the Department would honestly act up to its own declarations. The statement that was made when this Question was formerly before the House was by the late Lord Advocate, who said that he had always been in favour as a rule of promotion within the service. He hoped the present Lord Advocate's view would not be less generous. It was in the interests of the education of the people that the inspection of our schools should be conducted by experienced and thoroughly qualified men. He contended that more encouragement should be given to conspicuous merit within the ranks of the sub-inspectors. The public service obtained its best work from men who had no substantial grievance and who had the stimulus of hope. He trusted, therefore, that in future these men would receive fuller recognition from the Scottish Education Department.
§ *MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
said that for many years past grants had been given in support of evening continuation schools in Scotland, and the Education Department had now seen fit to discontinue the grant for such schools to Airdrie School Board. That grant had been continuously given since 1886 till last year. He did not think it was in the power of the Department under the Education Act to withdraw the grant. In answer to a question he had put on the subject, the Lord Advocate had replied that the Department had taken legal advice on the matter, which was to the effect that as there was no restriction as 605 to the age of scholars, the attendance at the evening, continuation schools could not be included in reckoning the average attendance. He disputed the justice of t he view. The stun which had been withdrawn was about £120. He would appeal to the Lord Advocate to consider carefully this matter, and to endeavour to meet the views of many School Boards in Scotland.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
joined with the hon. Member for Dundee in his appeal regarding the case of the Sub-inspectors. He was very sorry that the only means they hail of bringing this matter before the House was by threatening a reduction of the salary of the Scotch Educational Secretary. He would himself much rather increase his salary than reduce it, because of the excellent work he did. He entirely threw in his lot with the Member for Dundee in this matter. He had had many opportunities of meeting those gentlemen in different parts of Scotland in conference, and they had all a feeling of soreness and dissatisfaction and disappointment that they had not had the chance of earning promotion to the higher ranks. The system pursued now was an entirely wrong one, and it was extremely disheartening for those gentlemen who had had to bear the heat and burden of the day to be jumped over by younger men from the Universities, who might have a more ornamental qualification, but who had not the first requisite for the work—namely, a familiarity with the work to be clone, and with the machinery for carrying it out. He understood that recently the delicacy and difficulty and complication of the work of the Sub-inspectors had very much increased, and he hoped, therefore, that the Government would give some consideration to the case of those officials. ["Hear, hear!"]
On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ *SIR W. WEDDERBURN
said he wished to add his support to the contention of his hon. Friends the Member for Dundee and the Member for West Aberdeenshire. There was not the least doubt that the sub-inspectors formed the backbone of the inspectorate in Scotland, and every time that an outsider was pitch-forked over their heads very grave and 606 serious discouragement was caused to the whole rank and file of inspectors. Therefore he considered that these appointments should be viewed with great jealousy and care, and that they should never be made except in those exceptional circumstances which could be justified on one of two grounds—either first, that there was no sub-inspector thoroughly qualified to receive the promotion; or, secondly, that there were some special circumstances which needed an exceptional man to be placed in the position. They all knew there was a great deal of pressure and influence brought to bear on the authorities who had appointments to make, and therefore he thought the authorities should be grateful for a strong expression of opinion from the Committee that these appointments should be made rarely and with great care, because after all, the duties of the inspectors, whether sub-inspectors or chief inspectors, was very much a matter of experience. The fact that a man had done the work for years created a strong presumption that he was more capable than an outside man, even though his academic qualifications might not be very high. He wished to support the claim that the working bees of the Department should get their promotion. It was quite clear that, if the men did not get the promotion they expected, they would be discouraged, and a good class of men would be discouraged from joining the service and passing through the lower grades. Therefore, the whole body of the officials would be unfavourably affected. A similar grievance had been a good deal brought to, notice with regard to the various grades of sub-inspectors. The complaint was that, although the duties were practically the same, a considerable distinction was made, and that the men were not so freely given their promotion according to seniority as they considered themselves entitled to. He trusted these matters would receive the careful consideration of the Department.
§ *MR. ROBINSON SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)
said that he desired to say a few words with reference to the £2,000 given for agricultural education in Scotland. The sum was not a very large one, but even that amount was so divided up that it was almost useless. It was divided in the first instance 607 between agricultural education and agricultural research, and £100 given to this scheme and £100 to that, and so on, until the money was practically inoperative for good. The County Councils and such societies as the Highland Society did something in an amateurish way, but it was all done in a very fitful way and it was very largely useless. The fact was this sort of work could not be done in that way at all. There was a certain jealousy- between the different countries even in Scotland, and there was a feeling that that which was very suitable for one county was not at all suitable for another county. It was entirely impossible to carry out agricultural research by private effort. The experiments ought to be upon a broad basis and they ought to bear, if they were to be of value to landowners and farmers, the hall-mark of national approval. Last year, along with the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire, he had the honour of very informally seeing the Secretary for Scotland on the matter, and a small and informal scheme was laid before him. He expressed very high approval and said that all that was necessary, as far as he was concerned, was to get the requisite grant of money. It was suggested that there should be five stations placed in various parts of Scotland, under one directorate, where experiments would be carried out simultaneously, and that only £5,000 would be needed for the whole thing. He believed they would have in Scotland the means of making returns if this could be done. On the Continent they had had returns, which almost took one's breath away, from agricultural research. In Germany a little agricultural research had given them the great super-phosphate industry which had poured millions into their exchequer. In France one little bit of agricultural research resulted in the finding out of a way of dealing with vine disease, which had been the means of adding greatly to the wealth of the country. It was said that twice as much as was paid to the Germans in indemnity had been saved. A great deal might be done in Scotland. One gentleman had told him that through ignorance of plant life there had been wasted as much as would have paid our National Debt several times over during the past century. The Scotch people were to get for education £150,000 608 less than they expected. If the Government would only devote a tithe of that sum to agricultural research they would gain a great deal of kudos and never regret their action.
§ MR. COLVILLE
said that North East Lanark had suffered from the withholding of a grant in respect of an evening school. The school was of the greatest advantage to the district, and he, therefore, trusted the Lord Advocate would seriously consider the propriety of continuing the allowance. Evening continuation schools tended to raise the social tone of a. district, and, therefore, they ought to receive the greatest possible encouragement.
§ *MR. ALEXANDER WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
said that evening schools had been of the greatest benefit to the industrial classes in Scotland; they had enabled many young artisans to rise to professions, and they had otherwise done great good to the community. In the county he represented there was sonic years ago a considerable falling off in attendance at the schools, but recently, fostered by the. grant. and other causes, it had been better. He hoped the Lord Advocate would take what had been said into careful consideration, and endeavour to see that the grant was not only restored, but increased.
§ *MR. HEDDERWICK
was not surprised that his hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk Burghs should have struck a somewhat plaintive note to-night, for he had been rather harshly treated by the Government he supported. Not only had the Government disbanded a regiment of Volunteers who were no doubt as loyal to their representative as apparently they were to their superior officers, but they were attempting to disband the evening schools. If the Government continued to pursue this high Imperial policy much further in Airdrie he could well imagine that his hon. Friend might speedily find himself in the painful position of representing nothing but the desolate stones of that historic and interesting Burgh. For ten years past this sum of money had been granted to these continuation schools without any question being raised. The schools were of the most beneficial character. They took up young people at a period of life when memory was most likely to be affected. Anyone who would go to the trouble of looking over the statistics of these 609 schools would see that the subjects taught were of the highest value; many of them were technical subjects, or such subjects as could not be taught to children of tender years. He understood that the Lord Advocate proposed to cut off the grant because, as there was no restriction of age, the schools were not entitled to earn grant. He did not quite understand the Lord Advocate's position. Under Section 1 of the Education Act of 1872 a public school meant any parish or poor school or any school under the management of a School Board established under the Act. By Section 40 it was enacted that it should be lawful for a School Board to establish and maintain one or more evening schools for the instruction of scholars above 13 years of age, and that such evening schools should be deemed public schools. Section 67 enacted that public schools so established should be entitled, where the rate did not amount to 7s. 6d. per child, to such a sum from the money in the power of Parliament to grant, as should make up the sum to a sum equal to 7s. 6d. It, therefore, seemed to him perfectly clear that these evening schools were entitled to this grant, a grant which, as he had said, they had been in the habit of receiving for the past 10 years. There seemed to be no conceivable reason why the grant should have been cut off, more especially in a year when the House had been voting enormous sums of money for promoting education in England, upon lines which the representatives of the people of Scotland certainly did not approve of. He sincerely hoped the Government would give their attention to the subject.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
cordially concurred in all that hail been said as to the inspectors. They naturally looked forward to promotion; it was the natural impetus, but no hope whatever had been held out. Every Sub-inspector ought to have the idea that he would be a Chief Inspector some day, and these men had to do the work of the Chief Inspectors. What were the public schools provided by the Board? It was as much their duty to provide these evening schools as it was to provide day schools. It was well to say that they were following the English Act, but that Act was altogether different. Here the code could be 610 altered by a Department, but in Scotland the Code rested on an Act of Parliament. He hoped, therefore, the Lord Advocate would give this matter, which was of so much importance to Scotch education, his closest attention. He called attention also as to the statistics of school attendance, and urged the importance of having these statistics. They ought to have a return every year of the children who were receiving instruction. They ought also to have statistics as to the children under the different standards. These returns as to the standards should be given year by year. Further, they ought to have the ages of the children in the different standards. In the Glasgow School Board they did give the ages of the children. The continual changes that were made altogether prevented a proper estimate being formed of the progress of education in Scotland. Then, with regard to the system of examination by the inspectors. Instead of individual examination, the examination was conducted in a rough and ready fashion. The inspector made casual visits and stated the results of his observations. The system was a very dangerous one. It might suit the teachers and Inspectors, told might be a good one so far as well conducted and efficient schools were concerned; but in the case of other schools it did not afford a sufficient check. With regard to the older scholars, in the V., VI., and ex-VI. standards, there were to be individual examinations. Formerly children who passed the higher standard got a. certificate, and that certificate was much valued. Now they got no certificate, so that there was now no inducement to children to, remain at school longer titan was necessary. Perhaps the greatest blot on the educational system in Scotland was the insufficiency of the training colleges. The supply of teachers who had passed through the training colleges was not in any sense equal to the demand. The Report of the Department stated that the training colleges could only turn out 450 trained teachers every year, and that that number was not equal to the annual waste that was going on, which was calculated at 6 per cent. But no increase in certificated teachers was required to meet the increased school attendance, and the number of certificated teachers was increased last year by 611 658; 658 teachers had to be provided for and yet the waste that was going on was not even provided for. The result was that every Inspector in Scotland was lamenting the fact that the number of untrained teachers was going on increasing, when the Department ought to go on training as many as were required. Large numbers were rejected every year because there was no room in the training colleges to receive them. One might almost think that the Scotch Education Department was a trade union, hose object was to limit the supply of teachers and so to keep up wages. The effect on the education of the country was that there was not that choice of teachers there ought to be, and that untrained teachers had to be employed. Why should not every person who was willing to enter the training colleges be trained? According to the Report of the Department the total number of teachers added this year was only 667, and that did not meet anything like the demand. It must be admitted that it was a very poor policy that did not supply as many trained teachers as were required. As regarded the cost of maintenance, in the public schools of Scotland it amounted to £2 9s. 6¼d., and in the Voluntary Schools to £2 4s. 4¾d.; while in England, in Board Schools the cost of maintenance was only £2 5s. 3¼d., and in Voluntary Schools, excluding the Metropolis, £1 18s. 5d. Thus, in Scotland the cost of maintenance in Voluntary Schools was 6s. per child more than in Voluntary Schools in England. What was the effect? Formerly before the School Board came into operation, every parish school was able to turn out pupils qualified to enter the University. That could not be done now-a-days, and the result was that the attendance at the Scottish Universities was going down year by year. He ventured to say that secondary education was in a very bad way in Scotland at this moment. There was a want of connection running up from the elementary school to. the University. Something ought to be done with a view to increasing and improving secondary education. Instead of giving certain schools an addition of only 3s., as was proposed, when the ratepayers and the parents have been sacrificing more than 6s. more than in England, the time had come when those schools which were 612 trying to do the work of secondary education in Scotland should be subsidised. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised a sum of about £30,000 or £40,000 and he believed the only difficulty in the matter was that the Scotch Office could not make up their minds what to do with it. He would be glad to know whether the Government were prepared to distribute that money and in what way. Another matter to which he wished to call attention was the question of the Ardchattan Board School. That school was filled and provided ample accommodation for the children of the parish, yet an Episcoplian school was started and received a grant. There were only two families belonging to the Episcopalian Church in the district, and one of them was the family of the school teacher. The establishment of this school was in violation of the Act of Parliament, which said that no new school was to be sanctioned unless it was required in the locality, regard being had to the accommodation and to the religious belief of the parents. The new school at Ardchattan was not required on the ground of accommodation. Was it required on the ground of the religious belief of the parents? Was the Episcopalian doctrine so essentially different from the Presbyterian doctrine that an Episcopalian could not be expected to send his child to a Presbyterian school? In Scotland Protestant distinctions had never been recognised, and the Treaty of Union itself laid down that Episcopacy was not to be recognised in that country. In Scotland, therefore, the Government were not entitled to subsidise Episcopacy in any way as a distinct religious belief. To set up a rival Episcopalian school, and thus to attempt to prevent the Board School from earning the full grant which it would otherwise earn was unjustifiable. Out of pure cussedness the Scotch education Department had been fighting with the ratepayers and the School Board and trying for years to force this school upon them. Such proceedings were not dignified, and it was not to the interest of education that such things should be done.
*MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
said that the hon. Member who had just spoken had referred to him for confirmation of his statement that the attendance at the 613 Scottish Universities was less than it had been. The hon. Member quoted that fact as indicating that the people of Scotland under the present system of education did not show the same interest in advanced education as they had done in former years. But he seemed to forget that in recent years there had been changes in the regulation of the Universities of Scotland, which necessarily affected the attendance of students. In those changes he had been privileged to take a small part. One of them was the introduction of an entrance examination, which had diminished the attendance in the meantime at the Arts classes. Circumstances of that kind ought to be taken into account, and the diminution of the numbers at the Universities ought not to be ascribed to any lack of interest in University education. Passing from this point, he wished to associate himself with those who had expressed their sense of the great importance of evening continuation schools, especially in populous places. These schools were an absolute necessity in the interests of education. He did not know what had caused the change in the administration of the Education Department in this matter. He trusted that if the Department found it necessary to withdraw assistance in one form from these schools, it would find some other way of assisting them as effectually. What was felt by all friends of education to be most disappointing was that scholars were taken away front school at so early an age. It had been thought by many that the abolition of school fees would have facilitated the retention of children at school, but unfortunately the change had not resulted in much improvement in that respect. Children taken from school at an early age would not have had an education that was effective, and it was a necessary consequence that what they had not been able to receive in the day school must be otherwise obtained by attendance at the evening continuation schools. He was sorry that the instance in which this new rule had been applied was in the school at Airdrie. He had some knowledge of the educational enthusiasm of the Airdrie School Board, and it was a matter of regret that it should have been one of the first to suffer by the change. Personally he knew what the Board had done in the way of promoting higher education, and their efforts were worthy of all 614 praise. The Board had given free education from the lowest grade to the highest in the Airdrie Schools. He hoped that what the Board had now lost would be made up to them in some other form.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said that the first point raised by the hon. Member for Dundee (Sir J. Leng) was the promotion of sub-inspectors to chief inspector-ships. The Committee should bear in mind in judging of this question that by the present regulations of the Department sub-inspectors were chosen from one class alone—namely, the certificated teachers in the elementary schools. He could not help thinking that the plea which the hon. Member had urged would, if adopted, be a very double-edged benefit, because it would mean that all chief inspectors should be taken from the ranks of the sub-inspectors, and before this could be done they would have to abolish the regulations under which sub-inspectors were taken from the elementary schools. It appeared that the hon. Member wished very much to keep from being made public any names in connection with this matter, and he was anxious to follow that example. At the same time he did not think that this precaution mattered very much, because, from the hon. Member's reference as well as from his own, there could scarcely be any doubt as to whom it was meant to refer. When the hon. Member characterised a recent appointment as that of a tenth-rate scholar who had acted as private tutor to a Judge of the Court of Session who at one time occupied the position of Lord Advocate, he thought the Committee would be astonished to hear that this gentleman had acted for many years as assistant to Professor Leighton, that he had acted in conjunction with the late Professor Sellar, with Professors Harvey and Goodheart, and that the Education Department had the testimony of these three very distinguished scholars, and also of Professor Butcher that his scholarship attainments were of the highest order indeed. [Cheers.] The hon. Member was therefore giving currency to a piece of mere gossip.
§ *SIR J. LENG
I quoted the University record of this gentleman. I presume the Lord Advocate does not dispute that? I cannot see how he can reconcile that record with his statement.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
supposed that it could be reconciled in this way—that the gentleman learned some things after being at the University, where some persons did not learn very much. [Laughter.] They had, however, the testimony of the Chairman of the Glasgow School Board, the Chief Inspector in Scotland, and the head of the whole Department, that the services of this gentleman had been of the most thorough character since he had been appointed to the post. He might dismiss also as gossip what the hon. Member said about some appointments in previous days of various persons who had been masters at the school at Fochabers. It was not the case that the Duke of Richmond and Gordon had anything to do with the matter. One of the gentlemen appointed was one of the most distinguished scholars in Scotland, and therefore, while recognising the perfect right and propriety of raising the general question of sub-inspectors, he rather regretted that the information which had been supplied to the hon. Member had been of a very gossipy and trivial character. The next question was as to evening continuation schools. He did not think that he need point further than to the report of the present year to show that the Department was fully alive to the great benefit of those schools, and that it took a pride in the progress which they were making. He hoped it would not be thought for a moment that the Department did not recognise the great work which was being done by the evening continuation schools, but as to the question as a whole he could not help thinking that the Committee was under a misapprehension. It was not the case, as the hon. Member for Falkirk appeared to allege, that Airdrie had been singled out for exceptional treatment. Nor was it the case that this was a matter which was mooted for the first time this year. It seemed to have been the first time this year so far as Airdrie was concerned, because presumably it had escaped the notice of the Department, but it was not a new departure of the Department this year, because, as a matter of fact, it was done two years ago. When evening continuation schools were still something quite new, nobody thought it worth while to raise the question, but when a great impetus was given to their establishment by the Evening Continuation School 616 Code, and the schools began to increase by leaps and bounds, then the Department was brought face to face with what was the legal position under the 67th Section. The argument of the hon. Gentleman had been that a public school meant any public or burgh school under the Act, but the view of the Department was that, inasmuch as the pupils at the evening continuation schools were "scholars," and not "children," they did not fall within the 67th Section, which applied to children only. He thought the Department was perfectly right in its interpretation of the law on this subject. Apart from technicalities, what was the meaning of the "necessitous" clause? It meant that where you had a poor district, there you should come to the assistance of such poor district. But if the Committee gave the interpretation which the lion. Member contended for, they would go in exactly the opposite direction, because evening continuation schools, generally speaking, were not to be found in poor districts at all, but in cities. They would therefore have the extraordinary result of places like Aberdeen described as a "necessitous" and poor district if they counted the scholars at the evening continuation schools. The Department, after all, could only act upon the advice it got, and, in his opinion, as he had said, they had been rightly advised. Moreover, it was exactly the same in England, because, in calculating the "necessitous" grant in England, the average attendance at the evening schools was not included. On the whole, surely the Department could not be blamed for doing what it was bound to do by law; still less could it be accused of having any spite against Airdrie or any other town. Having exhausted the matters of general interest he turned to some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Lanark. As to giving the number of presentations, he understood there was a difficulty, because there was now no individual presentations. The hon. Member complained of changes in the Code, and, of course, it was rather difficult to answer this, complaint. Changes, no doubt, there were from time to time, and one of the effects was to prevent very accurate comparison between the results of one year and another; but he could not help thinking that if there were no changes, the hon. Mem- 617 ber would say that the Department was not up to the times, and that there ought to be changes to meet the advance of educational opinion. It was quite obvious the Department could not satisfy both views. As to the hon. Member's remarks upon training colleges, of course the question of supplying trained teachers had always presented difficulties, and the Department had always been very anxious to increase the means of supply. On page 18 of the Report there was special reference to this subject, and the Commissioners drew attention to the changes made in the Code for 1895 which made it possible for the Universities to share in providing the supply by the institution of the classes of Queen's students. They went on to say this had been. taken advantage of to sonic extent, and they were prepared to entertain proposals in the same direction, showing t heir anxiety to do everything they could to facilitate the supply of trained teaching. Something was also said about secondary education in schools, and there again the hon. Member would agree with the general view of the Department that more good would be done by concentrating secondary education in a few well-equipped schools than by frittering away efforts over a large number of schools, many of which had not proper appliances. Then the hon. Member asked a question as to the arrears of school grants. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised the money, and it was arranged that it should be drawn upon, of course in the form of Estimates, as from time to time it was required by the Department, and as a. matter of fact this money was and had been all necessary to pay for the additional two shillings over and above the ten shillings capitation grant. Accordingly the answer he a few days ago on the Education Bill as to the exhaustion of the supply from which the two shillings came included the money winch was due to the Department under the head of arrears of grants; that was to say that by the end of this year that money would be entirely exhausted, and if they had not got the promise from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make up the two shillings in the future they would have been able to pay no more than the ten shillings capitation grant which Scotland got in common with England. This he thought completed the topics raised. ["Highland schools!"] Well, as to the 618 manner in which technical education had been dealt with there were Papers on. the Table of the House showing the past policy of the Department. What the Department had tried mostly to do was to induce burghs having command of secondary education funds to put them at the disposal of county committees so that they should be made available in the best manlier. No doubt in the Highlands the position was different, because it was really out of the question to bring technical education at the door of everybody. All that the Department could do was to try to get teaching at convenient and more populous centres, putting at the disposal of persons living in the Highlands such advantages as they were able to offer. But geographical difficulties the Department could not overcome, or hope to bring a certain form of education to everybody's door in the Highlands. As to the action of School Boards he had nothing more to say than had been said by himself and his predecessors, and he was sure the Committee. would not desire to be inflicted with it again.
§ *MR. J. WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
had listened with a certain amount of regret to the remarks of the Lord Advocate, regret which he believed would be shared in all parts of the House, on the question of the suspension of grants in aid of evening, continuation schools. He had mentioned a town in his constituency, but the grievance was not confined to Airdrie. School Boards in other towns in other Scottish constituencies had been penalised by the action of the Department. Certainly the Government had shown in a. very remarkable way the feeling expressed by the Lord Advocate as "being fully alive to the value of continuation schools" in withdrawing grants with which. so much good had been done. The School Board of Airdrie was one of the first to adopt these schools, and by the aid of these grants free education had for the past 12 years been given to workmen whose education had been neglected in their earlier years. But suddenly, and without notice, the Scotch Education Department had chosen to withdraw this being advised that it was not competent for them to continue it. He maintained that they were not justified in their interpretation of Section 67, and painful though it was to him as a loyal supporter of the Government, he felt 619 it his duty to take a Division upon this change of policy. The town of Airdrie had recently had the particular attention of a Unionist Government, first by the disbandment, without inquiry, of a corps of 700 decent working men volunteers, and then by the disbandment of its evening classes by the withdrawal of the grant. As to the first of these two incidents, another opportunity would be found for discussion, but on the question of the continuation school grant he should invite an expression of opinion from the Committee. He had no expectation of a majority, knowing that Members would trip in to the support of the Government at the call of a Division, but he counted on the support of the intelligent opinion of all Scotch Members who had listened to the discussion. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ *MR. WYLIE
agreed that the Education Department were legally and technically correct in withdrawing the subsidy for the evening schools. But the fact remained that the grant was supporting many schools with great benefit, and that schools were considered necessitous in former years which probably would not come strictly under that definition. Believing that the grant was of great benefit to many schools—not only to that at Airdrie, but to many in other parts of the country—he should support the hon. Member for Falkirk.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £601,833, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 29; Noes, 55.—(Division List, No. 247.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 7. £2,000 to complete the sum for National Gallery, etc., Scotland.
§ *MR. WEIR
said he noticed that there was an increase of £40 in the grant to the National Gallery. But there was also a sum of £11,040 set aside for South Kensington Museum. That sum, he understood, would not be required in consequence of the condition of South Kensington Museum—the inflammatory condition of the Museum. [Laughter.] He wished to urge on the right hon. Gentleman the necessity for going to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to this paltry grant to the National 620 Gallery of Scotland, and making an endeavour to extract from him some of the £11,000 that would not be required for South Kensington.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
understood that the appeal of the hon. Gentleman had been addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He saw the right hon. Gentleman in his seat, and if he had not been present during the speech of the hon. Gentleman, he would, no doubt, read his speech on the following morning —[laughter]—and give due consideration to what had been urged in it.
§ Vote agreed to.