HC Deb 03 March 1897 vol 46 cc1537-64

Considered in Committee.

Progress 2nd March—THIRD DAY.

[The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, in the Chair.]

Clause 1,— (1) For aiding Voluntary Schools there shall be annually paid out of moneys provided by Parliament an aid grant, not exceeding in the aggregate 5s. per scholar for the whole number of scholars in those schools. (2) The aid grant shall be distributed by the Education Department to such Voluntary Schools and in such manner and amounts as the Department think best for the purpose of helping necessitous schools and increasing their efficiency, due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions. (3) If associations of schools are constituted in such manner in such areas and with such governing bodies representative of the managers as are approved by the Education Department, there shall be allotted to each association while so approved,

  1. (a) a share of the aid grant to be computed according to the number of scholars in the schools of the association at the rate of 5s. per scholar, or, if the Department fix different rates for town and country schools respectively (which they are hereby empowered to do) then at those rates; and
  2. (b) a corresponding share of any sum which may be available out of the aid grant after distribution has been made to unassociated schools.
(4) The share so allotted to each such association shall be distributed as aforesaid by the Education Department after consulting the governing body of the association, and in accordance with any scheme prepared by that body which the Department for the time being approve. (5) The Education Department may exclude a school from any share of the aid grant which it might otherwise receive, if, in the opinion of the Department it unreasonably refuses or fails to join such an association, but the refusal or failure shall not be deemed unreasonable if the majority of the schools in the association belong to a religious denomination to which the school in question does not itself belong. (6) The Education Department may require as a condition of a school receiving a share of the aid grant, that accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the school shall be annually audited in accordance with the regulations of the Department. (7) The decision of the Education Department upon any question relating to the distribution or allotment of the aid grant, including the question whether an association is or is not in conformity with this Act, and whether a school is a town or a country school, shall be final.

Amendment proposed [3rd March] to leave out from sub-section (1) the words" in the aggregate: "—(Mr. Lloyd-George).

Question proposed," That the words proposed to. be left out stand part of the clause."

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

resumed the Debate on, the Amendment. He said that in his view the words" in the aggregate" were cither entirely unnecessary, and therefore mere surplusage, or that they had an effect which would not appear on the first reading of the clause. The Solicitor General had stated, in repty to the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, that the words "in the aggregate" governed the words" not exceeding," and that therefore the former words would be sufficient to prevent any diminution whatever of the grant in the course of the year. He should like to ask the Solicitor General whether the insertion of those words really had that effect, and if they had, on what ground they had that effect?


thought the words "in the aggregate" should certainly be retained. He did not think they were superflous in the sense that they made a little clearer what was the moaning of the section. The meaning of the section was that the amount of the grant was to be the aggregate five shillings per scholar, for the whole number of scholars in these schools, and if they left out the words the only possible effect would be to make a little less clear what the intention of the section was.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said they understood from the Attorney General the other evening that if the words" in the aggregate" were omitted, then, in any year in which Parliament came to the conclusion that the whole of this money would not be required in that particular year, even if they voted that amount, it would not necessarily have to be spent in that year. If the words" in the aggregate" were left in the section the Committee were given to understand by the Attorney General that every year the same sum must be granted, and every year the same amount must be expended, for the purposes of the Bill. From the point of view of the Opposition, and without for a moment saying there were not a large number of necessitous schools requiring the aid grant, he considered the effect of the words upon the basis upon which the Government founded their Bill. If the words were included would they compel the. Government of the day in a future year, whether the whole of the amount were required or not for necessitous schools, to expend the whole amount? Nothing could, of course, bind the House of Commons for a future year; but would it be necessary, under this clause, that the whole sum should be spent whether it was required or not? The point he had in his mind was this. It was possible that these necessitous schools, having received large sums for years to come, though necessitous now might subsequently become self-supporting if their subscriptions did not fall off, as it was anticipated they would not; and, under such circumstances, would the whole of the money necessarily be devoted year by year to its present purpose, whether actually required or not?


said he did not think the Attorney General had put the interpretation on the words which had been attributed to him, and he had not used words in that sense. Under the clause, of course, they could not bind Parliament in future Sessions, but it would be a most unusual thing if, this Act being passed in these terms, this grant of money were refused. If this money were voted by Parliament, amounting in the aggregate to 5s. per scholar, the Education Department would have no right to refuse to spend the money in the year; it would have to be appropriated in the manner prescribed among the associated and unassociated schools. The Clause did not depend on the words" in the aggregate," but, as conducing to clearness, the words should remain.


said he had given Notice to move the omission of the words, because they seemed to him to be ungrammatical and contradictory. "An aid grant not exceeding in the aggregate 5s. per scholar;" but 5s. was not the aggregate; 5s. was the rate per scholar, not the total. He thought the words should be struck out; but the point was not worth ten minutes' discussion.

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

said he had felt a similar difficulty in construing the words. He could not see that the words made grammar or sense, and certainly he did not see, after the explanation of the Solicitor General, that the words were in any degree useful. According to that explanation the intention of the clause was that the full sum should be spent, and it would be obligatory on the Education Department to spend the full amount of £600,000 odd in the year. He was glad to have this explanation at last; he had pressed for it some weeks ago. He did not complain that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not then give an answer; no doubt he wanted to give the point further consideration. There was no doubt now that the intention of the Government and their construction of the clause was that the Education Department would have to spend this sum of £600,000 odd each year; and really this was not the maximum, but the minimum, sum that would have to be annually spent. In thinking over what might have been the intention of the draftsman in putting in the words" in the aggregate," it struck him they were put in in order to make the proposal clear that a round sum should be fixed, but should not be distributed according to the number of scholars in each school. But the point did not require a lengthy discussion, and after what the Solicitor General had said it would be well to omit the words, which had given rise to difficulty in the minds of Members on either side.

MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)

said, as the words were admitted to be surplusage, they should be struck out.


said he did not say they were surplusage; he said they made the meaning of the clause more clear.


said the meaning was clear without the words; they had been condemned as ungrammatical, and were admitted not to be necessary. Why, then, cumber au Act with surplus words? He should have thought that probably the object of the words would be to show the intention that certain schools should not get more than a sum at the rate of 5s. per head. The Solicitor General admitted the words were useless and worthless—["No, no!"]—and were simply put in to make the meaning doubly clear, but the latter portion of the clause made the meaning perfectly clear without the words.

Question put, "That the words in the aggregate' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 157; Noes, 79.—(Division List, No. 62.)


moved, after the word" aggregate," to insert the words— the sum per scholar contributed by voluntary subscriptions for each such school in each year and in any event not exceeding. He contended that he had sound and solid ground for this Amendment, which he might be pardoned for thinking was of a most important character. The principle of the maintenance of Voluntary Schools was based at the outset upon the schools being maintained in great measure by voluntary contributions. The settlement of 1870 would never have been arrived at but for the fact that the supporters of national and sectarian schools were able to point to the large measure of support which those schools had already received, and were continuing to receive, from the voluntary contributions of the parents and of the churches to which the schools belonged. The settlement of 1870 was allowed to remain undisturbed until 1876, when for the first time it was conceded that at any rate the whole principle of equal voluntary contributions need not be maintained: and when the 17s. 6d. limit was arrived at, so far a concession was made to those who contributed to the schools by voluntary contributions. But that principle, which was introduced in 1876 was absolutely and entirely at variance with the settlement of 1870, and that was pointed out by Lord Hartington, in his speech upon an Amendment with regard to the 17s. 6d. limit, in the course of which he said:— Since the Second Reading a clause has been introduced (the 17s. 6d. limit) which altogether abandons the principle hitherto adopted by Parliament, that assistance should be given to denominational schools only in proportion to the voluntary contributions. That principle was spoken of in the present day, but the Government had turned their backs upon it. They had expressed a pious opinion on the subject which was to be found in the second sub-section, and which ran, "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions." If due regard was to be had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions he submitted to the Committee it was necessary to look at the amount of those voluntary subscriptions in any school before they came to the conclusion that that school ought to be helped at all. They ought not to take into consideration the number of scholars in average attendance in any of those schools, which had not helped themselves by these Voluntary subscriptions. If a school existed in which there was no voluntary subscriptions at all, they had no right to take the number of scholars in that school into consideration in arriving at the aggregate amount they were to give to the schools. He admitted that the result of the acceptance of the Amendment would be in a large measure to reduce the amount which was to be applied. The way the Amendment would work would be this: If the voluntary contributions in any one School amounted to 5s. per head of the scholars in aveage attendance, then that school could be taken into consideration in arriving at the amount which was to be granted by the Department. If the voluntary contributions only amounted to 2s. 6d. per head for the children in average attendance, then the school ought only to be taken into consideration so far as the half-crown would go, so that that would limit the grant proposed by the Bill. The effect of such an Amendment would be that if there were schools where there was no voluntary contributions at all, those schools ought not to be taken into account in any way whatever, because they had done nothing to help themselves. The raison d'être of this Bill was the intolerable strain, but there was no intolerable strain in a school where there was no strain at all. If there was no voluntary contributions there was no strain upon the voluntary contributors. The number of schools throughout England and Wales, where there were no voluntary subscriptions, was 1,061; the number in which the amount contributed was less than. 1s. per child, was 674; the number where the amount was less than 2s. 6d., 1,095; and the number in which the amount was less than 5s., 1,967. The result, therefore, of the Amendment would be that there would be a limitation upon the money which was to be granted by Parliament, and to be expended by the Education Department in proportion to the number of schools where the voluntary subscriptions were under 5s. per head. So far as Wales itself was concerned, greater efforts had been made even by the National Society, for the maintenance of their own schools, than was the case in England. The figures for the Welsh counties were very interesting. The hon. Member was quoting the figures when—


said he did not see their relevancy. The sole point before the Committee was whether average attendance or voluntary subscriptions should be the basis of the aggregate amount of the aid grant.


said he would not go further into the figures. His object was to show the financial result of his Amendment, and to what extent, in the part of the country he knew best, the limitation would be made in the amount of the grant. But there were a few other figures he wished to give to show the injustice done to the taxpayers if the Government took into account the scholars in average attendance. He would take live towns in Glamorganshire. In Swansea the National Schools annual voluntary subscription amounted to £33 7s. 10d., the average attendance was 2,068, and the schools would get, under the Bill, £516 10s. At Aberavon the voluntary subscription was £25 15s. 8d., the average attendance 388, and the amount to be received at 5s. per scholar was £97. At Aberdare the voluntary contribution was £89 Os. 5d. per annum, average attendance 1,226, new aid grant £306 10s. At Cardiff the Bill would be to the advantage of the Roman Catholics. To those schools there was contributed £139 7s. 5d., the average attendance was 1835, and under the Bill at 5s. a scholar those schools would be entitled to £458 15s. At Duffryn the voluntary subscriptions were £15 per annum, the average attendance 815, and under the Bill the schools there would be entitled to £203, so that in this instance they multiplied by thirteen the amount of the voluntary subscriptions.


rising to order, asked whether the hon. Member's remarks were relevant? The subscriptions had nothing to do with the aid to be given to individual schools, but only with the aggregate amount of the grant.


said he understood the hon. Member was using these instances as an argument to show that the total amount would be reduced.


contended that the figures he had given showed the injustice in the proposals of the Government.


said it was arguable that a school ought not to receive more from the State than it derived from voluntary subscriptions; it was also arguable that the total amount to be given to Voluntary Schools should not exceed the total amount of voluntary subscriptions to those schools. It was also arguable that the State should not contribute by way of State aid grant more than the schools themselves provided by way of voluntary contributions. What, however, was not arguable was the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, who proposed that they should limit the aid to Voluntary Schools where the voluntary subscriptions were below 5s. per scholar, and that where they exceeded that amount there should not be a pro tanto allowance. This he held was not arguable, and therefore he would not take up the time of the Committee by discussing it.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

regretted that the First Lord of the Treasury should have treated the Amendment so slightingly. He evidently did not understand the Amendment. The result of every aid grant to the Voluntary Schools would be that the voluntary subscriptions would steadily go down. The right hon. Gentleman had not answered a single argument of his hon. and learned Friend. Unless some such Amendment as this was introduced, the tendency of the Bill must necessarily be to limit the amount of the voluntary subscriptions. If the Amendment were carried, pressure would be brought to bear upon schools which did not pay voluntary contributions up to 5s. to bring their subscriptions up to that point. The result of legislation hitherto had been that subscriptions had steadily gone down. In 1870 the proportion of the subscription to the total income of the school was 49 per cent.; at the present moment it was 17 per cent. If they passed this Bill in its present form the subscriptions would become something like 12 or 15 per cent. The result of the special aid grant of 1891 was that parental subscriptions had gone down steadily. Every additional grant voted by the House of Commons to the Voluntary Schools had reduced the amount of the voluntary subscriptions. Some inducement or pressure ought to be brought to bear from outside upon the schools which did not bring up their subscriptions to the amount which would entitle them to a grant of 5s. a head. His hon. Friend had quoted four of the principal towns in Wales where the amount contributed by the Imperial Exchequer to the Diocesan Association would be very materially reduced. At the present moment the voluntary subscriptions in those towns did not amount to anything like the amount which would entitle them to the full grant of 5s. per head. The contribution of the Imperial Exchequer to the Association in that diocese would be reduced to something like one-third.

Every possible inducement should be placed by Parliament in the way of raising the subscriptions, and consequently raising the efficiency of these schools. It was assumed that each one of these schools would join an association, but was that so? The Education Department could only exclude a school from any share in the aid grant upon grounds which were deemed to be sufficient. Supposing a National, Catholic, Wesleyan or British School refused to join the Association, the Department might say that there was no sufficient reason for excluding that school, and under the first sub-section of this clause the aid grant would be paid direct to that school. The Amendment, he contended, ought to be carried in the interests of the Voluntary Schools themselves, and of the necessitous schools, and, above all, in the interests of the children.

*MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield

said the further they travelled in the discussion on the clauses of the Bill the more discoveries they made. ["Hear, hear!"] They had supposed that the words of this clause were intended to induce the managers of the schools to maintain, if not increase, their subscriptions, but they were now told that that was not the intention, and that they had relation to the aggregate of the schools, and not to the individual schools. The result would be that the school which had had no voluntary subscriptions, or very inadequate voluntary subscriptions, would get a share of the grant to which it was not entitled.


said the hon. Member was anticipating the discussion which would arise on the next sub-section.


said he would add to the reasons why this principle should be insisted upon, the sufficient reason that the amount of support which was given by the managers of these schools was a test of their sincerity and interest, and unless they submitted to that test they had no right to insist on the continued management of their schools. Public schools, supported by public money, but managed entirely by private persons, were an anachronism of which the House ought not to approve.

*MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

did not think the Committee understood the real effect of this Amendment. Taking 175 children as the average number of children in a Voluntary School, and 4,797 as the number of the schools which at present received less than 5s. per head in average attendance, the effect of the Amendment would be to reduce the grant from £020,000 to £409,000. The poorer people of this country, particularly in the north of England, with which he was connected, were often Catholics. The Catholics in his district were not as able as, other bodies to afford subscriptions to maintain their schools, and, on account of their poverty, were less able to pay even 5s. per head than other denominations. He had pledged himself to support increased aid being given by the State under suitable conditions. Though the conditions were absent in the proposals of the Government, yet he was unable to vote for a reduction of the amount, as he desired to see relief given to the poorer classes, who had made sacrifices in the interests of education.


said he had still an open mind in regard to the Amendment. The Bill was for the purpose of assisting necessitous schools, and in arriving at the amount of money which Parliament was to provide for that purpose two factors were taken. The first was the grant of 5s. per head, which had no relation to the necessity of the schools, but was arrived at by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the amount that could be voted. The second factor was not the number of scholars in necessitous schools, but the number of scholars in Voluntary Schools. If he were assured that the degree of necessity of each Voluntary School was in no way to be measured by the amount of its voluntary subscription he would be compelled to vote against the Amendment.


I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance he desires. There is no certain relation between the priority of a school and the amount of its voluntary subscriptions.


said that if the Amendment were not adopted there would be an amount voted which would be larger and in excess of the amount which, under the Bill as now drawn, could under any circumstances be possibly applied. The" aid grant "—that was to say, in other words," the aggregate total sum "—was to be distributed by the Bill, as now drawn, subject to conditions, one of which fundamental conditions was that a school must have some voluntary subscriptions, because unless there were some voluntary subscriptions, the condition of paying due regard to the maintenance of Voluntary Schools would be incapable of application. He construed the Bill, as now drawn, as preventing any school not having voluntary subscriptions from participating in the aid grant, and if that were so, then the aggregate total would, if the Amendment were not adopted, amount to a sum for which no purpose was assigned by the Bill, or which could be employed under the Bill.

MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea Boroughs)

confessed that at first he did not see the extreme importance of the Amendment, and he had approached it from somewhat the same point of view as his hon. Friend the Member for North Monmouth. But the answer given to his hon. Friend by the First Lord of the Treasury had convinced him that he ought to vote for the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the amount of money to be granted to each school was solely to be decided by the number of its scholars.

MR. T. R. LEUTY (Leeds, E.)

said that Parliament in its dealings with grants of public money for the assistance of the Voluntary Schools had hitherto acted on the principle that if those schools were to be protected from the undue competition of the Board Schools, and the private managers were to retain the management in their own hands, there was to be a. quid pro quo in the form of a contribution of some of the cost of management. The Government now proposed to act on the principle of counting heads, and to discourage the giving of subscriptions to those schools. He had no admiration whatever for the relics of the system of keeping up voluntary subscriptions. It was a fine on poverty which pressed especially hard on the Catholic Schools. On conditions, he should be ready to see the system abolished altogether; but let Government either make the thing a reality or say at once that they were going to give public money regardless of subscriptions. The Government should remember that for the first time a grant was being given without its being in lieu of something else. This was an aggregate sum, which would go into the pockets of the aggregate Conservative Party.

MR. D. F. GODDARD (Ipswich)

pointed out this Amendment had nothing to do with the distribution of the money, but simply affected the means of arriving at the aggregate sum to be distributed. Therefore the poor schools would not be fined any more than other schools. No doubt, however, the aggregate sum would be decreased by the Amendment. The proposal to take into account all the schools which were called Voluntary, whether they raised subscriptions or not, and to arrive in that way at the sum to be distributed, was most unreasonable.

MR. A.J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

said that the Amendment would not affect the distribution of the grant at all, but simply the amount to be collected for the purposes of distribution. For a year or two the great effect would undoubtedly be to reduce the total amount of the grant; but the poor schools would still get their due proportion. But what would be the ultimate effect of the Amendment? He should support the Amendment, not because be wished to reduce the grant, but to secure some correspondence between the amount of the grant given to each school and the amount of subscriptions raised by that school. In this, he was but echoing speeches which had been made over and over again on the other side of the House. The right hon. Member for Dartford had said," We must support our Voluntary Schools more liberally than in the past." In the Lancashire towns there would be no difficulty in raising subscriptions to 5s. a head; and if the subscription were made the basis of the calculation for the grant, the effect in a year or two would be to raise the whole of the Voluntary Schools subscriptions up to the 5s. point. The schools would benefit enormously from this, and the teachers would no longer be sweated. No one who really believed in the need for Voluntary Schools should hesitate to adopt the Amendment.

MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)

said that he should support the Amendment. In most districts the subscriptions to Catholic Schools were larger than those to the Church Schools. The Amendment was a protest against the outrage to common sense implied in asking that the total number of children in the Voluntary Schools should be made the basis for calculating the total errant. Schools which had no subscriptions whatever, and which were supported entirely out of the pockets of the taxpayers, were to be included in order to increase the total sum to be given to these diocesan associations for the purpose of propagating high Anglicism. It was one of the greatest scandals of the Bill.


said that the hon. Member for the Tyneside division misapprehended the effect of the Amendment. The schools mentioned by the hon. Member would not be excluded from any share of the grant. Their share would be proportioned to the amount of their subscriptions. The effect of the Amendment would be that those schools which had no subscriptions would have no share of the grant to be divided by the Association to which it belonged. The grant to the other schools in the Association would not thereby be diminished; but there would be a strong inducement to schools with no subscriptions to raise them. According to the amount they raised, they would share in the grant.

MR. J. W. LOGAN (Leicester, Harborough)

rose to address the Committee, when


claimed to move: "That the Question be now put."


withheld his assent, because he was of opinion that the Committee was prepared shortly to come to a decision without that Motion. [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"]

Debate resumed.


said he understood that the object of the Amendment was to induce the subscribers to Voluntary Schools to increase, or at least to continue, their subscriptions. ["Hear, hear!"] He was not in favour of Voluntary Schools at all, and therefore he could not support the Amendment. He looked forward to the time when the nation would decide that it was in its own best interests that it should provide all the money necessary for the education of the children of the country.


The last remark of the hon. Member is totally irrelevant to the question before the Committee. [Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear!"]


said he simply wished to point out that he could not support the Amendment, because one of its objects was to induce the subscribers to those schools to increase their subscriptions, and, as he had said, he looked forward to the day when the whole cost of education would be provided by the country. [Ministerial cries of "Order, order!"]

MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

said he could not agree with the line of argument taken by the hon. Member for the Harborough Division, and heartily supported the Amendment. He did so on educational grounds, for he concurred with the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Carnarvon that, if the Amendment were agreed to, it would act as an educational stimulus to the Voluntary Schools. [Opposition cries of"Hear, hear!"]

MR. EDWARD CARSON (Dublin University)

I claim to move: "That the Question be now put." [Ministerial cheers and Opposition cries of "No!"]

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 266; Noes, 109.—(Division List, No. 63.)

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 96; Noes, 296.—(Division List, No. 64.)

The announcement of the numbers was received with Ministerial laughter.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

asked what course he should pursue with regard to the fact that on the Division on the Closure he had voted in the wrong Lobby. [Laughter.]


said the right hon. Gentleman should have called attention to the matter after the Division referred to. At present there was no course open to him; but on the occasion the only thing to do under the circumstances was to take measures to avoid passing the Tellers. [Laughter.]


proposed to leave out the word "five," in order to insert instead thereof the word "four." This, he said, would reduce the allowance per scholar to the sum proposed in the Bill of last year. The bonus to Voluntary Schools was now fixed at £620,000, so that by the addition of the shilling as compared with last year, the bonus was increased by. £150,000. He moved the reduction, not because he thought that schools which were not under the control of the ratepayers were entitled to any public money, but because they had gone so far. These schools were sectarian in the past, and they were to remain sectarian. If he followed the dictates of his own judgment and conscience he would not give such schools a single penny. He submitted that no case had been made out for the increase on the Bill of last year.


opposing the Amendment, said that in his judgment 5s. was not at all too much. He might go farther and say that it was too little. ["Hear, hear!"] At present the average expenditure throughout England and Wales was about.£2 per head in Board Schools, and about. £19s. in Voluntary Schools, leaving a balance of 11s. He thought that showed that the 5s. left many wants unsatisfied.

MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)

said that he confessed, when he bore in mind the condition of things that prevailed in England and Wales with regard to the voluntary system of education, he was not much surprised at the opinion which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan. There could be no doubt that there were particular districts in Wales in which a condition of things existed that could hardly be understood in England, and which justified hon. Members from Wales in looking at this question from their own point of view, and feeling very strongly indeed upon it. In England we were not accustomed to a state of things in which nine-tenths of the population, who were Nonconformists, were compelled to send their children to schools that were under the management and control of a religious denomination with which they had no connection. As to the point whether this grant should be at the rate of 4s. or 5s. per head, he confessed that he had no desire to limit the grant to either amount. He had been satisfied last year with a 4s. grant, and he was satisfied this year with a 5s. grant. He hoped that the Government would be able to show that this 5s. grant would secure the efficiency of these necessitous Voluntary Schools. This grant would undoubtedly raise the total sum given by the State for educational purposes, and he hoped that it would not at the same time reduce the amount of the subscriptions of the Voluntary Schools. For his own part, he had never grudged State grants for Voluntary Schools, subject to reasonable conditions. He thought, however, that if 5s. were given to Voluntary Schools to be pooled for the necessitous schools, an equal sum ought to be given to Board Schools all round, which might also be pooled in the same manner, for the benefit of necessitous Board Schools. He thought that if the Government were to impose conditions in relation to this grant which might be thought reasonable by a large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House, there could be no objection to this 5s. grant. ["Hear, hear!"]

*SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said he was very much in favour of the view of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, that a 5s. grant was not too much for either Voluntary or other schools. He had had a great deal to do with Voluntary Schools during his life, and he thought that they deserved assistance. But unless they received from Her Majesty's Government some greater token than they had hitherto had, that they were prepared to meet the wishes of the Opposition, that they would attach reasonable conditions to the grant, he should feel himself bound to vote for the Amendment. As matters stood at present, he could not help regarding this 5s. grant as an additional endowment of the Church of England.

Under this proposal the Church of England would receive some £400,000 per annum. [An HON. MEMBER: "£600,000."] No; the balance would go to the other religious denominations. What proof had they that the Church of England held any adequate supervision over the religious teaching given in the Church of England Voluntary Schools? He was not prepared to endow the Church of England with an annual sum which, if capitalised, would amount to £12,000,000, and which, after all, the parents of the children and the taxpayers of the country would have to contribute unless certain conditions were laid down as to the management of the schools by those who thus contributed. He trusted that those who were interested in education would try and keep their minds as clear as possible from sectarian influences, and would keep in view the interests of education. So far from this grant of 5s. being too much, in his opinion it was too little, because the whole of our system of education was very much behindhand when compared with Switzerland or with that of Germany. Why could not the Government come forward and get rid of all the difficulties of this question by following the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, and taking a broader view of the matter? Why should not the Board Schools receive the same consideration as the Voluntary Schools?


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but the question of the Board Schools is not before us. The question is whether the grant shall be 5s. or 4s. per head.


said that of course he should bow to the ruling of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair. Unless the Government gave the Committee some satisfactory assurance as to the conditions to be attached to this grant, he should certainly vote for the Amendment, because he was unwilling to endow the Church of England unconditionally with the largo sum he had referred to. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)

said that he had placed upon the Paper an Amendment similar to that which had been moved by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Glamorgan. He had no desire to injure the work of the Voluntary Schools, and his object in putting down his Amendment was to secure the distribution of this money among the really necessitous schools of that class, and to increase the amount of the grant which they would receive from 5s. to £1 per head. If the Board Schools were to have anything, a great deal more money would be required than was provided by this Bill. He did not think that the necessitous schools would suffer by this grant being reduced to 4s. per head. They had to take care that, in making this grant, they would not be conducing to the falling off in the amount of subscriptions. Four shillings would be quite enough to relieve the necessitous schools throughout the country from what was called the intolerable strain; whereas it would at the same time leave a certain amount to be found by subscriptions. It. had been said that this Bill amounted to an endowment of the Church of England. He hoped it would not be a general endowment all round, but that the Government; would see that their money went only in relief of necessitous schools.

*SIR JOHN BAKER (Portsmouth)

said he could not support the Amendment, because he thought the question on which the difference of opinion arose was not so much the amount of the contribution as the belief that its administration would not be of such a character as would justify the grant of public money. He had always supported what was called Voluntary Schools in every possible way, and he could not therefore vote for a reduction of the grant, for if he did that he would possibly be doing something to limit the usefulness of these schools in the future, and probably hindering a grant of a larger sum From the Exchequer to other schools.


thought the Welsh Members were justified in the Amendment, not only as Welsh Members, but as Radicals, and that English Radicals would 1"; right in supporting them against any proposal to give more money to Voluntary Schools, unless it were accompanied by adequate popular control. ["Hear, hear!"] In a large number of those schools there was a kind of popular control in the fact that there was a large body of subscribers; but the proposals of the Government would have the direct effect of reducing the number of subscribers, and would increase the danger of having more one man schools in the country. ["Hear, hear!"] For these reasons he found it necessary to go into the Lobby with his Welsh friends, not because he objected to giving more money to Voluntary Schools, which he believed had their place and work in the Education system side by side with Board Schools, but because he held that if more money was given to them there must at the same time be some local control. So long as the Government opposed any form of local control, he should oppose any further grant of public money to Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"]


said he gathered that there was not much difference of opinion between his hon. Friend who had just sat down and himself. Notwithstanding the views he held, his hon. Friend was unable to exercise sufficient self-denial to prevent him going into the Lobby with their mutual Welsh Friends. He held the views his hon. Friend held, but he should exercise self-denial on this occasion; but his hon. Friends from Wales must not suppose that he did not sympathise with the view they took, having regard to the exceptional circumstances by which they found themselves surrounded. The Government were responsible, rather than his hon. Friends, for this Amendment, for they had given absolutely no reason whatever for fixing the grant at 5s. The First Lord of the Treasury had not said a single word in justification of it. He did not for one moment complain that the sum was too great. He had no wish to deal with Voluntary Schools in a niggardly spirit, but he did hope that there would be some reciprocity in this matter—["hear, hear!"]—and that when other than Voluntary Schools were dealt with, the Government would deal with them in as liberal a manner as they were now dealing with Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members had continually, in the course of the Debate, expressed the desire that voluntary subscriptions should be maintained at their present rate, and he hoped that before the Bill passed into law something might be done to insure the maintenance of subscriptions. That was another reason why he was anxious that this sum of 5s. should remain in the Bill, in order that when they have to deal with Amendments in that regard, they might impress on the Government that something ought to be done to stimulate private subscriptions when such a largo sum of public money was being allocated to this particular class of schools. Although he was not very sanguine that they would be able to induce the Government to do that, he thought they ought to be in a position to point out that Voluntary Schools were being generously treated, and that subscribers ought, therefore, to extend their generosity. He was most anxious, therefore, that the grant should be a liberal one, and for that reason he should vote against the Amendment.


said that if hon. Members on his side of the House had not taken much part hitherto in the discussion of Amendments, it was because those Amendments had not been deserving of much consideration. He assured the Committee that when important questions like that of the distribution of the money under the association system were reached there would be nothing in the nature of a conspiracy of silence on the Ministerial side of the House. The right hon. Member for Rotherham had told them that there was a feeling of bitterness among the Members from Wales on account of the character of many of the schools in the Principality. He would ask the Committee whether they were prepared to ask the taxpayers of this country to spend millions in order to construct schools in place of Voluntary Schools merely because thirty Welsh Members felt that they had a serious grievance? Many hon. Members opposite had said that they would be willing that a grant of 5s. or even 6s. should be given if it could thereby be rendered certain that the schools would gain in efficiency. They might, he thought, feel fairly confident that that would be the result, because the Education Department was to be the arbiter in the matter of the application of the money. That Department, it should be remembered, had administered millions annually to the satisfaction of the country at large. If he thought that the associations of schools were to be intrusted with the distribution of the grant without the guidance and control of the Education Department he should not support the Bill. It was because he had complete confidence in the control of the Department that he was content. Hon. Members from Wales said that they did not know how much per scholar might be granted to schools. Of course no man could say how much per head would be granted. That was a question which must be determined by the Education Department.


observed that the right hon. Gentleman was not confining himself to the point, which was the difference between 4s. and 5s.


replied that as this was the first time he had ever been called to order in that House, he need hardly say that he at once bowed to the ruling of the Chair. The hon. and learned Member for York had complained that the right I hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had never explained by what process of calculation the sum of 5s. had been arrived at. For his part he surmised that the sum of 5s. was the nearest estimate that the Education Department could make of the sum required by necessitous schools. But possibly the Department had arrived at a larger estimate, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had intervened and prevented its acceptance.


observed that they had not heard that that had been the experience of the Department, either from the First Lord of the Treasury or from the Vice President of the Council.


said that he should vote against the Amendment, as he was anxious that the amount which the Government wished to give to the Voluntary Schools should not be diminished. He would, however, appeal to the Government to assent to conditions which would insure that the grant should be applied for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of schools and the remuneration of teachers. Conditions of that kind were inserted in the Bill of last year. The First Lord of the Treasury had told them that at present the average expenditure throughout England and Wales was about £2 per head in Board Schools and about £1 9s. in Voluntary Schools, leaving a balance of 11s. The difference in the remuneration of teachers accounted for 8s. 9d. or 8s. 10d. out of this balance. He proposed to move an Amendment on this subject, and he trusted that the Government would see their way to accept it, as it embodied the conditions which they thought right to insert in the Bill of 1896.


said that, unlike some of his hon. Friends, he did not propose to support the Government on this question. Abundant reasons had been given why this extra shilling should not be granted. The saving of one shilling proposed by the Amendment represented an annual sum of £155,000, which, capitalised by 40 years' purchase, represented upwards of £6,000,000. The Committee were being asked to vote for the Voluntary Schools a sum which, capitalised, more than doubled the total sum spent on all the Voluntary School buildings in the country. The annual sum of £625,000 represented. £24,000,000, and nobody had ever alleged that the total amount spent in the erection of the Voluntary Schools exceeded £11,000,000. If they voted this 5s. endowment for the support of these schools they would be making a present to the Voluntary School managers of upwards of £24,000,000. He would remind the Committee that the late Archbishop of Canterbury, at the annual meeting of the National Society last year, declared that a. grant of 4s. was quite enough. Why did not the Government act on the view of the late Archbishop? It had been suggested that they would get some small concessions by-and-by from the Government, but he did not entertain any such illusory hope himself. ["Hear, hear!"] There had been too many indications that the Government meant, by the exercise of the Closure or by other means, to pass this Bill without altering a single line of it.

MR. ALBERT SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)

said that this was a question that appealed to the people of the country. His hon. Friends would not move the Amendments they did, which the right hon. Gentlemen said were not worth consideration, unless they felt that those who sent them there had sympathy with their views. He well knew that the Voluntary Schools needed this help, and more than this; but he complained of the way in which this Bill was being forced through—[ironical laughter]—and of the way in which those who were responsible for presenting the Education Estimates to the House were declining to take any part in the discussion. Hon. Members had been promised that Amendments would be favourably entertained, but up to the present he had seen no disposition evinced in this direction. He supported the Amendment, not because he thought the Voluntary Schools did not need more help, but as a protest against the way in which the Bill was being treated by hon. Gentlemen opposite.


said the question was whether or not the 5s. grant was enough for the Voluntary Schools. A greater authority on this point than the late Archbishop of Canterbury was the Government, who thought that 4s. was enough last year. What were the circumstances which had occurred since last year to render the extra shilling necessary? Was there any mystic efficacy about the 5s. which had recommended it to the attention of the Government? Had it not rather been chosen by chance and multiplied by another figure chosen by chance?


thought that some reply should be given by the Government to the question as to what was the basis upon which 5s. had been fixed instead of 4s., and why £620,000 was stated to be needed for necessitous Voluntary Schools.


I can add nothing to the speech I have already made. The hon. Member was not in the House when I spoke. [Cheers.]

MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthen, E.)

pressed for a statement of some definite reason why 5s. had been fixed upon as the right amount. Surely the Education Department were in possession of the figures which had been acted upon.


rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 291; Noes, 124.—(Division List, No. 65.)

Question put accordingly, "That the word 'five ' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 320; Noes, 94.—(Division List, No. 6G.)

And, it being Half-past Five of the clock, the CHAIRMAN of WATS and MEANS proceeded to interrupt the business.



claimed to move, "That the Question 'That the words of the Clause down to the word" to," in line 10—(" The Aid Grant shall be distributed by the Education Department to ")—stand part of the Clause' be now put." [Opposition cries of "Oh, oh!"]


It is only right that, I should say, in accepting this Motion, that I have satisfied myself that if it should be carried it would not cut out a single Amendment of any substance. Nearly three pages of the Amendments that follow are out of order. ["Hear, hear!"] I think it is only due to the Committee that I should give my reason for accepting the motion. These Amendments are for the most part excluded by the ruling of Mr. Speaker on the notices of Motion for Instructions on going into Committee. ["Hear, hear!"] Some of the Amendments are in the wrong place, and the two or three that remain are really not Amendments of substance. I therefore accept the Motion.

Question put, "That the Question' That the words down to the word "to," in line 10, stand part of the Clause,' be now put."

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (seated, and with his hat on),

as a matter of order, drew the Chairman's attention to the words of the Standing Order in reference to the application of the Closure. It was provided that the Motion for closing Debate might be moved on the interruption of business for a decision on any question consequent thereon. He submitted that this question was not consequent upon the Closure moved at halfpast five.


said the Standing Order provided that the Closure might be moved on the interruption of business, and the interruption of business was when he announced the numbers of the last Division.


said the point of order he wished to have determined was whether the Closure could be put on any question not under discussion when the Closure was moved. The question the right hon. Gentleman now desired to have put was that the clause down to a certain word should stand part of the Bill. Would the Leader of the House be in order if he moved the Closure on the clause or oven on the whole of the Bill?


I must decline to give an opinion in answer to the hon. Member's question as to all the clauses, but certainly the right hon. Gentleman would be in order if he moved that the question be put that the whole clause stand part of the Bill. If it is in order to move the whole clause clearly it is in order to move a portion of the clause.

Question put, "That the Question 'That the words of the Clause down to the word "to," in line 10, stand part of the Clause,' be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 2(80; Noes, 111.—(Division List, No. 67.)

Question put accordingly, "That the words of the Clause down to the word 'to,' in line 10, stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 282; Noes, 105.—(Division List, No. 68.)



left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report progress; to sit again To-morrow; and, it being after Six of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.

House adjourned at Twenty-five minutes after Six o'clock.