§ Considered in Committee.
§ [The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, in the Chair.]
§ [PROGRESS, 3RD MARCH.—FOURTH DAY.]
(1) For aiding Voluntary Schools there shall be annually paid out of moneys provided by Parliament an aid grant, not exceeding in the agregate 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,
(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 the 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.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
ruled out of order a number of Amendments, including the following Amendment standing in the name of Mr. F. A. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.):—In Sub-section (2) after the word "Department," to insert,—And for the purpose of determining with respect to every county the number of schools which are to be deemed to be necessitous, and the proportion of such aid grant as may be payable to each such school, the Education Department shall, on the passing of this Act, hold such local inquiries by inspectors of the Department or otherwise, and call for such returns from School Boards or school attendance committees or other local authorities, and require such accounts with vouchers from the managers of any schools as may in their opinion be necessary, and shall publish a list of all schools determined to be necessitous, and the proportion of such aid grant to be assigned to each such school in respect to the average attendance in such school.
§ MR. CHANNING,
on a point of order, suggested that, from the wording of the Sub-section, there could be no objection to an Amendment authorising the Education Department to take steps for the grant to be distributed independent of the associations.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The hon. Member's Amendment is out of order, because it is in the wrong place. It ought to come at the end of the sub-section or as a new clause.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
moved in Sub-section (2) to leave out from the word "to" to the end of the subsection, in order to insert the words, "all voluntary schools at the rate of five shillings per scholar in average attendance." 1615 He said that the object of the Amendment was to provide that the 5s. grant should be paid direct to the schools; and one of its great advantages was that it would remove from the Bill these proposed associations of schools. If the grant were paid direct, it would be enjoyed by the best schools in the country as well as by the worst, and thus an injustice to the schools which had done the best for education would be prevented, for under the scheme of the Government it was the worst schools which would be subsidised. He knew it had been said that many of the poor Voluntary Schools would be shut up if aid were not afforded to them; but he did not. believe that that was said bonâ fide. It was simply a threat to blackmail the taxpayers. As to the Boards of Managers in connection with Voluntary Schools, those bodies were not thought highly of in Wales; but whatever they were, these proposed associations would simply be composed of their representatives—that is, the representatives of unrepresentative men. Surely it would be better to deal with the men themselves, however unrepresentative and incapable they might be. Another advantage of the Amendment was that the country would be saved the expense, friction, and strife inseparable from these associations, which were now to be compulsory. In the Bill of last year they were to have been voluntary, and what had happened since last year to induce the Government to abandon the voluntary principle? There was a suggestion in the Bill that the Department might make different rates for town and country; but, in any case, the money ought to go direct to the school instead of being pooled by an association. The Vice President of the Council had said, "Parliament had set before it the task of devising some means of replacing the School Board system in rural districts where it had been a failure by some better system." He supposed that this clause would hardly be defended on that ground. The existing machinery at the command of the Department was amply sufficient for the purposes of this Bill, without the creation of these associations. By accepting the Amendment, the Government would have an opportunity of showing a generous and conciliatory spirit, and of removing one of the blots of the Bill. He begged to move.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
said the hon. and learned Gentleman was probably justified, according to the Rules of the House, in referring to the associations which were dealt with later on in the Bill, but it would probably not be for the convenience' of the Committee that they should, at the present stage discuss the special machinery by which distribution, according to merit or need, should be carried out; but they should confine themselves to the question whether they ought to distribute according to fixed amount, irrespective of need, or whether they should, through the machinery in the Bill or some better machinery, attempt to discriminate between different schools and different parts of the country. The answer to the Amendment was a very simple one. In his first argument the hon. and learned Gentleman was wrong in point of fact. Our educational legislation had always, from 1870 onwards, recognised that schools might require more money from the Treasury if they were specially situated. There was the provision hi Section 97 of the Act of 1870, under which a considerable sum of public money was annually given to schools for no other reason whatever than that they were situated in districts where the rateable value was exceedingly small; and, in addition to that, there was the well-known provision in the Act of 1876, by which small schools in fact received an immense exceptional endowment at the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In these circumstances the hon. and learned Gentleman would, he thought, feel himself forced to abandon his first position—namely, that the Government were now introducing some inequality in the treatment of different schools according to the necessities of these schools. Coming to the second argument, which, if he might say so without offence, seemed to be no argument at all, he held that schools had no primâ facie title whatever to public money. They were only entitled to public money, in his judgment, when they were necessitous; if they were not necessitous they could not be said to have even a primâ facie claim to the grant of 5s. to each scholar in average attendance. If the Government had brought forward any plan of this kind 1617 they would have been denounced not only in the House but from one end of the country to the other as squandering public money, by their own confession and avowal, on schools that did not require the money—["hear, hear!"]; and he, for his part, felt so much the strength of that argument that he was willing to fight the question of the machinery by which the distribution was to be made rather than adopt the simpler, and, no doubt, easier plan of simply dividing the money equally among all Voluntary Schools according to the number of children in average attendance. He felt the strongest objection to the plan suggested from two opposite points of view—that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the public taxpayer, and the point of view of the Voluntary Schools themselves. He objected to the Amendment from the point of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he did not wish to see public money given to schools which did not require it; and he objected to it from the point of view of the schools, because he thought 5s. per scholar was very much too little for many schools, and therefore, unless some schools which did not require it were not given a full amount, there would be no surplus to give to those schools, to which it was in the highest degree to the public advantage that greater assistance should be granted. The broad case of the Government was, he submitted, unanswerable, or, if it was to be answered at all, it could only be by showing later on that no machinery could be devised under which their end could be attained.
§ MR. A. H. D. ACLAND (York, W.R.,) Rotherham
was not quite so sure that, if the Bill had contained a, proposal to give the grant all round in the first instance, the Government would have been denounced up and down the land. At all events, in last year's Bill such a, proposal was made, and he could not recall many denunciations about the Bill on that account. What the Opposition protested against in laying this alternative scheme before, the House was the compulsory association of schools. A great many of the most experienced men in this country who understood this problem best, and who did not by any means belong to one political party, were firmly convinced that, try as they would, it was quite impossible 1618 to draw any distinction between necessitous and non-necessitous schools, and yet such a distinction and definition was the very basis, as he understood it, of the Bill. Comparing the case of the average Lancashire school with that of the average London school, no one could doubt that the former was more necessitous than the latter. Therefore, if they were to be equally treated under this Bill, the Lancashire schools should receive 7s. 6d. of the grant and the London schools 2s. 6d. The same comparison would apply to the dioceses of Canterbury and Chester—one of them ought to be a 7s. 6d. diocese and the other a 2s. 6d. diocese; and if the Government were to give each of them the 5s. grant they would be laying themselves open to the charge which they made against the Opposition of proposing to give 5s. equally to those schools which did not want it and to those schools that wanted more. There was no attempt made in the Bill to divide the country into necessitous and non-necessitous areas. It was impossible to lay down any principle for the distribution of the grant between necessitous and non-necessitous schools. The difficulties of laying down such a principle of distribution had been very clearly pointed out in The Times during the early stage of the Debate upon this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President: of the Council had pointed out that if a, great number of schools stood out of the association it would be an impossible task to form such associations, and that the power of refusing the grant to those schools which declined to join the associations would have to be pretty freely used if the associations were to be prevented from falling to pieces. In other words, that meant that schools would have to be compelled to join the associations if they desired to participate in the grant. How were they going to use compulsion as between parish and parish? The Times, in a leading article published on February 16, wrote:—If, in two neighbouring parishes, one school kept up in a state of solvency and efficiency by the liberality of the squire and the parishioners is recommended for only a small grant, while another, where the subscriptions are niggardly, obtains a large amount of relief, on the ground that it is necessitous, what is likely to be the result? It will be hardly consistent with human nature if the parish in which the subscriptions are adequate and liberal is not tempted to bring down its contribution to the 1619 level at which it can claim a larger share of the grant.["Hear, hear!"] If such a levelling down process were to be adopted, the Voluntary Schools would not only lose a large portion of their subscriptions, but they would be so reduced as to claim the 5 s. grant all round as a right. In adopting the principle of a varying grant they were making a new departure. The Act of 1870 gave an equal grant, and so did the Free Education, Act of 1891. There were, of course, the exceptional cases of very small schools having from 60 to 90 scholars, in sparsely-populated districts, which required additional assistance to enable them to pay their teachers. But this grant of between half and three-quarters of a million was to be given to all the Voluntary Schools on the understanding that it was to be apportioned between necessitous and non-necessitous schools according to their requirements. But who was to decide what was a necessitous and what was a non-necessitous school? In one parish they might say that they had for years watched with interest the growth of their school, that they had never allowed it to fall behind in regard to efficiency, and that they had constantly appealed to their friends for assistance in order to prevent deficiencies in the accounts, with the result that, by means of careful management, they had been able to maintain their school in excellent condition. Such a parish would ask why in these circumstances they were not to be assisted, and why, in view of all the facts, they were to lose the grant instead of being rewarded for the exertions they had made in order to maintain the efficiency of their school. They might say that they wished to teach cookery and cottage gardening, or other subjects of study, but were prevented from doing so by want of funds; and they might ask why they were to be treated less generously than the neighbouring parish which had neglected their school and had allowed it to become necessitous. In his view, if the compulsory principle were to be eliminated from the Bill the greater part of the sting would be taken out of the Measure. He was not often the depositary of the views of those who were represented by hon. Members opposite, but during the last few weeks he had received an extraordinary number of communications from Conservatives, Churchmen, 1620 and clergymen, who were all opposed to him in politics, complaining of the compulsory character of the Bill, which would strike a blow at independence by forcing them into associations. He believed that this complaint was amply justified. ["Hear, hear!"] The result of the adoption of such a compulsory principle would be to make the managers of the schools extremely discontented, and to drag the schools down to a level of inefficiency. ["Hear, hear!"] Why should they not adopt the principle of enabling groups of Church schools to join together? That would put an end to discontent, while the richer schools would be willing to give their portion of the grant to aid the necessitous schools. What did they intend to do with regard to endowed schools in reference to this grant? If they refused the grant to a school on the ground that it was endowed, they would be practically alienating a part of the endowment of the school and handing it over to another parish. ["Hear, hear!"] For whom was this compulsory association necessary? He could hardly believe that it was necessary for the Roman Catholics, in fact, he was not sure that they would get any advantage at all out of it; be was perfectly confident that they could do all they desired to do by voluntary association. ["Hear, hear!"] Was it demanded by the British schools?. Did they want to be associated together and dole out the money by compulsion? Was it desired by the Wesleyans? He did not believe there was a demand for it from either of these two quarters; so that the demand was solely made in the interests of Church schools, though he believed that a great many of the managers of these schools did not at all like the suggestion that they should he compelled to enter into association. He believed that many of the Bishops were very anxious for this, but he thought they were misled in supposing that even with the most benevolent intentions they could work compulsory association as they had hitherto worked voluntary funds. ["Hear, hear!"] The task imposed on these associations by the Bill was to draw up a schedule of schools in their areas and submit it to the Education Department. Each association was to be responsible for distinguishing between schools and schools over an area containing, perhaps, 1,000,000 people, and for presenting a 1621 scheme—which to many of the schools would be extremely unsatisfactory—to the Education Department, who would act as their bankers and send out the money to the various schools. He was perfectly confident that the line taken by Canon Barker, Archdeacon Wilson, and by the Northern Counties Voluntary Schools Defence Association, was the right one. What did the latter body say? They said they wanted to omit the word "necessitous" altogether, and to substitute the word "those," the feeling being that all Voluntary Schools which satisfied the demands of the Education Department and were efficient in themselves should have from public sources the full sum necessary to maintain that standard. Did that not mean that they wanted to get rid of the compulsory character of association? As far as he could understand it, they required something much more like a grant all round. ["Hear, hear!"] But there were even wider reasons from his point of view, reasons in the broader interests of education. It had been lightly suggested that the Education Department had admirable representatives in the country villages who could grapple with this task to a, large extent. It would be a most thankless task, and he should be very sorry to see the inspectors, who were now welcomed in all schools, involved in it. ["Hear, hear!"] They had plenty of work to do of a practical educational kind, and were not at all fitted for work so difficult in its character and so dangerous to their own influence. The proposal of the Bill would also involve the officers of the Department in an enormous amount of work which would divert them from their regular duties; and the character of these officers would be altered the moment they were involved in the difficult task of distinguishing between schools. It would make the association unpopular, and it would to a large extent make religious bodies unpopular. It would raise a new cry against religious bodies which it was not desirable to raise, and it would make it much more likely that a demand would be made to upset arrangements in the future. He felt quite certain that the proposal made on his side of the House for a grant all round and a modification of that grant only where it was desired among schools which had grouped themselves to help one 1622 another, was the better one. A grant all round and voluntary association were much more likely to lead to a permanent settlement than the scheme of this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] He felt no hesitation in saying that, so far as permanent settlement went under this Bill, the House would do much more wisely to adopt a scheme such as that, than to try and force into association schools which did not want to go into association. It would avoid the irritation that would be involved in taking away money from schools that thought they were entitled to it, and he sincerely believed that when these associations had done their best to distinguish between school and school, they would find that in 90 per cent. of the cases it would be almost impossible to do so, and they would demand the very scheme now being put before the House of equal grants all round. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. G. C. T. BABTLEY (Islington, N.)
said that he agreed that from the sentimental point of view it would be desirable to adjust this new grant in proportion to the necessities of schools, but those who had had to do with schools would acknowledge at once that, practically speaking, when they had got association, it would be impossible under any fair system to adjudicate between school and school. ["Hear, hear!"] Although some schools were better off than others, the schools that were better off were anxious to spend more money in useful and legitimate objects, which they were only prevented from doing by want of funds. It seemed to him that compulsory association would involve an immense amount of friction. The main object of each school would be to get as much as it could. ["Hear, hear!"] In the case of voluntary association an altogether different spirit would be displayed. He had heard it said that some schools were to get 10s., 12s., or even more, while others were to get nothing. He was quite sure that no such an arrangement would follow compulsory association. The association would meet, each school would desire to have its full quota, and the result would be that every school would get 5s. ["Hear, hear!"] That, he acknowledged, was not a desirable plan, and speaking with some practical knowledge on the subject, he said that in his 1623 opinion a compulsory system of association would lead to assimilation, and the only possible solution of the difficulty would be to recommend that every school should have 5s. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
said that if the Amendment were accepted, and this portion of the Bill omitted, much of the opposition to the Bill would undoubtedly be removed, or at least largely modified. They would prefer rather that the money should be more under the control of the central authority which was known, than under the control of a newly-constituted body which they did not know and which they very much feared. He objected to the association altogether. It appeared to be forgotten by the Leader of the House that there were large communities in this country not associated with the Church of England who had consciences and religious convictions. More than half a million of Nonconformist children were driven at the present time into Church Schools; and under this clause the control and the authority of the Church over these schools would be enormously increased. This was one of the reasons why they so strongly opposed this portion of the Bill. No one knew exactly what the machinery was to be, and as it appeared in the Bill it seemed to him to be full of confusion. An intense feeling of suspicion and alarm existed in the minds of Nonconformists with regard to this unknown body of associations. Nonconformist schools had not asked for this Bill; they did not want it and they did not support it. On the contrary, the largest and most influential Nonconformist bodies in the country were almost entirely opposed to the Bill; and it was reasonable to ask the Government to pay some attention to their wishes and feelings. But Nonconformists had received no consideration from the Government, and he urged that this was not a wise policy for the Church itself or for its future interest or position. He supported the Amendment on the ground of religious equality and freedom, and in order that Nonconformists might be released from the bigotry and despotism which would be exercised by the clergymen in the villages in the allocation and management of the fund which was contributed by all classes of the community.
§ *MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said that the Amendment involved two questions which were separate and distinct: (1) the fixed grant as against the variable grant, and (2) compulsory federation. In his judgment the first was the only question which should be raised now. Anyone who had knowledge of the needs of schools would not only agree that this new grant should be distributed in varying proportions between school and school, but would regret that the existing grants now paid were not distributed on the same principle. He admitted that the grants to the poorer schools should be larger than the grants to the rich schools. If there were one great merit which attached to the proposed grant in this Bill it was the attempt which was being made to differentiate between the needy and the rich schools. Whether this attempt could be achieved was a different question, but he certainly did not think it would be attained by the machinery in the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] When the question of compulsory association was brought forward he should not hesitate to offer opposition to the proposals outlined in the Bill. Whether it was possible or not, in considering the principle of the fixed as against the varying grants, to distinguish absolutely between the necessity of one school and another school, he would not now inquire; but it was perfectly possible for the Education Department, by means of its inspectors, to lay down a series of rules having reference to the average attendance in schools under which the whole grant might be well distributed. He could not understand how in the speeches of some Ministers the suggestion should be made that the larger grant should be given to schools in urban districts rather than to schools in rural districts. ["Hear, hear!"] Again, if the Education Department had to revise all the schemes it might as well frame them, and he thought that the proposal would lead to a large amount of friction in many localities. Owing to the large number of schools that would be under the control of each association he thought that the machinery provided would be almost unworkable, in addition to being exceedingly expensive, as well as leading to the diversion of a large proportion of the voluntary subscriptions from the schools. All the best 1625 Voluntary Schools would, he felt sure, send up vigorous protests against the proposed machinery.
§ MR. J. M. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
said that in this case they had to choose between waste and injustice, and, for his part, he was inclined to think that the lesser of the two evils would be a certain amount of waste, which, he quite admitted, would result from the operation of a fixed grant all round. But, to his mind, the important thing in the whole matter was the question of efficiency, and it did seem to him that, under the proposal of the Government, every sort of discouragement would be given to those schools which had done most to deserve recognition. In short, under this system they would give most to those who deserved least. The principle of compulsory association appeared to him to be a very doubtful and dangerous experiment. Under Section 7 of the Act of 1891 the schools had had the opportunity of forming associations, and they had done so only to a very slight extent, if, indeed, at all. Obviously, if this principle was so desirable, they would have availed themselves of it to a much greater extent; and, if it was not desirable, surely it was a dangerous thing to put it into compulsory operation. The School Guardian had pointed out that the advantage, from their point of view, of this principle of compulsory federation was not alone, and it would give a means of distributing the money. It said:—They"—the associations—"will prove useful in many other ways. At present there is little control over individual schools. The Board of Management may any day close their school or surrender it to the School Board without consulting anybody. The association would be able to exercise a supervision which would render such independent action on the part of the management practically impossible.Was that the way this principle of association was going to be worked? There was nothing whatever, so far as they could see, to prevent it from being so worked. Not only on its merits was it desirable that they should adopt the Amendment, but he thought it was also most important that they should enable the Committee, by adopting it, to get rid of the difficulties and the dangers of this principle, which, he felt sure, would never be satisfactorily worked.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said he should like to say one word as to the attitude of the Church of England, so far as he was acquainted with it, upon this question of federation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham said he had received a large number of letters from warm supporters of the Church and of the Government protesting against these provisions in the Bill. He thought it was always a very suspicions thing when the arch-enemy of Voluntary Schools was the recipient of the confidences of supporters of the Government and of Voluntary Schools in the country. He confessed that he viewed that correspondence with a certain amount of suspicion. He could say with absolute confidence, because he knew, that to a very small extent had protests been received by the National Society, and, indeed, it was not surprising, because the National Society itself had passed the strongest resolutions in favour of this part of the Bill. He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen recollected that it was an essential part of the scheme put forward at the Church House in the winter that the special aid should be paid to federations, and, as far as he knew, it was not opposed by any very large section, and it was certainly adopted as the programme of the Church as represented by that meeting of enormous importance. He did not believe there was any very large section, with, perhaps, one exception, of those who took an interest in the welfare of Voluntary Schools, who had in any way signified their protest against the federation clauses of the Bill. He did not think that voluntary federations had been an entire failure; but he thought they had been partially, and for very obvious reasons. However much in theory the supporters of Voluntary Schools, whether rich or poor, might approve of federation, when it came to the actual point of sharing a sum of money, which they might keep themselves, with others, he thought it was expecting too much of human nature, even of clerical human nature, to be entirely unselfish in this respect. He was not at all sure if he were a manager that he should feel entitled to enter into a voluntary federation of this kind. He should hold his position as a trustee; and what right had a trustee to part 1627 with the money granted to him by Parliament, to be administered under that trust for the needs of a particular school in a particular parish, for other schools in other parishes? He saw immense difficulties in the way of the success of voluntary federation. As to the necessity of discriminating between school and school, it was so obvious that he did not think it was seriously denied by anybody. Let him give an illustration to the Committee. Take the five school districts which appeared in the Return for the county of Oxford. In the first case, the cost per child was £3 2s.; in the second, £3 10s.; in the third, £1 12s.; in. the fourth, £3 7s.; and in the fifth, £2. Was it not absurd to give exactly the same assistance to the case of a school which only paid £1 12s. and to the case of a school which paid £3 10s.? That was manifestly absurd. Some kind of discrimination there must be. He had never defended the provisions of the Bill as perfect, none of these methods of discrimination as between association and association were perfect, and until his hon. Friends realised that a certain mixture of rate aid should accompany the aid proposed in the Bill there could not be a perfect discrimination. Until they had realised the advantages of the proposal put forward by the Church of England, he was content with what he could get. He recognised the desire of the Government to make this discrimination. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham, said one effect would be that there would be a desire on the part of subscribers, when less than the 5s. grant was awarded them by the association, to diminish subscriptions. He could not conceive any such foolish policy. A certain amount of discretion ought to be reasonably expected. An association would take into consideration the warm efforts made by subscribers, special regard would be had to unselfish efforts made, and, certainly, the first consideration would be not to diminish sources of present income. Everything must be done to maintain these subscriptions, valuable in themselves, and valuable as implying moral support. He did not apprehend any such danger as the right hon. Gentleman had indicated. He believed that this provision could be wisely and strictly administered, all regard being paid to the consideration that 1628 subscriptions should not suffer. He should vote most cordially against the present Amendment, for he believed that this discrimination was absolutely essential to the proper working of the Bill.
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
regarded this as one of the first important Amendments that could be presented, and could not agree with the noble Lord that the sole question raised was the expediency of providing a fixed sum. He could not dissociate from the questions raised by the Amendment the compulsory machinery proposed to be constituted, and which, in his view, would certainly lead to disastrous results from the point of view of educational efficiency, and from the point of view of regular and equitable distribution of money contributed by the taxpayers. It was quite true that the Amendment as it stood, and in the form in which it appeared before the Committee, might have the possible result that some of the money might go to schools having no practical need of it. No schools were so prosperous or in an educational condition so ideally perfect that they could not make a sufficient use of this 5s. grant, no one would deny that; but he agreed that there were a certain number of schools where there was no urgent need for this additional sum, therefore it might be that in some cases a fixed grant might lead to something of the nature of waste. But the Committee had to choose between alternative proposals, between this comparatively slight risk and the demonstrable administrative evil of inequality by the method of distribution proposed. The Government might have proposed, as had been pointed out, that the sum granted by way of relief should be an amount proportionate to the number of children in necessitous schools. They might have supplemented that by a definition in the Bill—he would not undertake the task, he would rather leave it to a better draftsman—of what a necessitous school is, and what were the criteria of necessity. The Government could not put that into an Act of Parliament, but they would give to associations throughout the country the determination of a question which, as a matter of drafting they could not solve for themselves. The Government might have adopted that plan, and he did not envy them the task, but if they had done 1629 so they would be in a logical and intelligible position. What was their position? A sum was to be distributed, the amount of which had no relation whatever to the number of children in necessitous schools, it was proposed to be arrived at by a process nobody had yet explained. The sum the Chancellor of the Eschequer could afford was arrived at by the number of the children in Voluntary Schools, and that sum was to be distributed among necessitous schools. But then the Government refused to give a definition of necessitous schools, and proposed to intrust to a perfectly irresponsible authority, an authority compulsorily constituted, the determination of what schools fell or did not fall within the category of schools to be relieved, the Educational Department having a superintending but absolutely illusory authority. If the Department exercised that authority in a practical and effective sense not only would it impose vast additional work—and the Department was already overladen, as they knew on the authority of the Vice President, and incapable of transacting the business it had at present—but by bringing inspectors and officials into contact with local jealousies and local rivalries with which they were unfitted to deal, there would be prejudiced that universal belief now prevailing in the impartiality of the Department. How did the matter stand? A sum of money was aggregated, not on the ground of necessity at all, and distributed among necessitous schools, there being no definition of necessitous, and the instrument of distribution was to be not the Education Department or an authority responsible to Parliament, but these associations, to be formed in some manner not yet defined, throughout the country. ["Hear!"] The noble Lord had defended the compulsory association, and he said managers would not go into association voluntarily, that it would not be in human nature to do so. He implied that human nature would not permit any clergyman or set of managers of any particular denominational school, being willing, voluntarily, to part with any of the amount that might come to them.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said the noble Lord first argued on the broad ground of human 1630 nature, and his view of the matter was: that managers of Voluntary Schools, if left to themselves, apart altogether from their trust deeds, would feel themselves so constrained to look exclusively to the interests of the schools with which they were connected, that even the important considerations of supporting denominational education would not induce them to give up a shilling of the grant to relieve the urgent needs of other schools. That being the noble Lord's idea, he recognised the necessity for compulsion. Human nature was to be coerced, and managers were to be forced to associate whether they desired to do so or not, at the risk of losing that which they honestly believed ought to be given to the schools with which they were connected. With that idea he did not agree, he took a broader, more elastic view of the conduct likely to be pursued. He recognised the probability of voluntary association among schools of the same denomination, and that there would be sufficient public spirit and zeal for education to bring about an amicable arrangement for distribution according to needs. On another point raised by the Amendment he invited explanation. The proposal in the Bill was bad from the point of view of the taxpayer, it was still worse from an educational point of view. What answer could be made to the argument urged by his right hon. Friend, that if this money was granted to exclusively necessitous schools it was putting forward a bribe or a premium to schools that had raised themselves above the level of the necessitous to reduce themselves to the category of those entitled to the relief? Take the case of the two schools side by side, one of which, by the strain of an excessive effort of generosity on the part of a not always rich but often very poor clergyman who had contributed out of his own means far in excess of what duty required, had been kept in a state of efficiency largely by the self-sacrifice and spontaneous zeal of the clergyman and a few supporters. That school was not inefficient, and it would not get a halfpenny. In the next parish, owing to the neglect of the clergyman and want of zeal on the part of the parishioners, there was a school which had been allowed to come into the category of an inefficient or necessitous school, and because of its inefficiency it was entitled to a share of 1631 this grant. How could they contend that where they had a state of things in which one of these schools was rewarded for its inefficiency and the other punished for its efficiency the effect of the Measure would not discourage educational zeal and lower the standard of the Voluntary Schools? ["Hear, hear!"] That was, to his mind, even a more important consideration than that which related to the point of view of the taxpayer", and on the ground that this was a most improvident and irresponsible surrender on the part of Parliament of the control over the expenditure of public money, and on the ground that it was putting a premium on educational inefficiency and want of zeal, he should heartily support the Amendment. [Cheers.]
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
remarked that there was one part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument with which he thoroughly agreed, and that was that the present Amendment was really a discussion of the most important portion of the Bill. But when the right hon. Gentleman put it on the one side as waste, and on the other as a system of inequitable distribution, he admitted the argument, so far as waste was concerned, but he thought the argument was easily answerable so far as an inequitable distribution was concerned. The reason why this portion of the Bill should be supported as an essential part of the Government's proposal was that it was so drawn as to insure, as far as possible, equitable distribution, and to maintain the control of Parliament, because he thought, upon this point, the right hon. Gentleman had misunderstood the provisions of the Bill itself. Before dealing with the proposal itself, there was one other argument to which he should like to refer, and that was what the right hon. Gentleman had called the education argument. He supposed so little public spirit in the managers of Voluntary Schools and so little zeal on their part in the interests of real education, that they would throw away funds and bring themselves to a condition of poverty in order—having brought themselves to that condition—that they might get some of this 5s. grant. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman on what he called the argument applicable to human nature, was it 1632 in accordance with human nature that they should throw away money with one hand on the chance possibility of picking it up with the other, and were they to do that in the case of voluntary education, in which he, at any rate, gave credit to the voluntary managers for having at heart efficient religious education in this country? As to the proposal itself, it was of the very essence of the Bill that relief should be given by discrimination to necessitous schools. If they went outside the principle of helping schools which wanted help he thought there was much to be said, as had been argued by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side, by treating all schools, whether Voluntary or Board Schools, in the same way, as regarded the Parliamentary grant. But if they were not going to do that—and that was not proposed to be done at the present moment—what was the only fair test they could make? It was, whether the schools were Voluntary or Board Schools, that Parliament was asked to come forward and help their necessities in order that the efficiency of education in their necessitous schools might be increased and advanced. If hon. Gentlemen succeeded in taking the word "necessitous" out of the Clause, they would then say that there was no principle as regarded the Government proposal for helping education at the present moment. They might have taken the principle of "necessitous" and applied it both to Board Schools and Voluntary Schools, but once take that word out and it appeared to him they had no sound argument for giving the grant to non-necessitous Voluntary Schools that would not equally apply to the giving of it to non-necessitous Board Schools, because the test, as he said, was the necessity of the additional money in order to insure in the case of the poor schools, whether Board or Voluntary, a more efficient system of education. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked what was meant by a necessitous school? He thought the answer was easy enough. A necessitous school was one in which the funds, from whatever source derived, were insufficient to provide an efficient education, having regard to the cost of education so far as that particular school was concerned. If they took that definition, which was the only true one, then everyone who 1633 was in favour of enhancing the efficiency of education at the present time ought to vote for an increased Parliamentary grant, where the funds were insufficient for bringing about an efficient and adequate system of education. That was the real basis of the demand now made for the Voluntary Schools. It was not made for all Voluntary Schools, but for all necessitous Voluntary Schools, because in those eases, without they had further aid the interests of education might suffer. On the principle of discrimination he could not help thinking that the light hon. Member for Fife had not observed what the real proposals were. The association which it was proposed to set up had nothing to do, either with the local management, or with the question of local subscriptions. If it had he, for one, should be opposed to it, because he believed that if they set up by compulsion an association which superseded local management as regarded their Voluntary Schools they would do very much to injure the management itself, and certainly destroy a large number of voluntary subscriptions. The principle of association, however, had nothing to do with local management, it merely had to do with the distribution of the proposed 5s. grant. It was limited to that, and to that alone. Let him point to a second way in which the power of the association was limited. It was not accurate to say that this money was to be distributed by an, irresponsible federation or association. It was to be distributed by the Education Department, and the only force of the association was that the Education. Department might be advised by it in an admittedly difficult manner. The right hon. Gentleman said he objected to the Government proposal, because they were dealing with the taxpayers' money without retaining the control of Parliament. The answer was that the right hon. Gentleman had not appreciated the proposal. The whole responsibility as regarded the distribution was thrown upon the Education Department, who would be responsible in respect of this 5s. grant, just as they were at the present moment as regarded the sum of nearly 30s. a head distributed to Voluntary and Board Schools alike. Again, this had been described as a compulsory association. But the only compulsion was that in Sub-section (5), which 1634 was merely that the school must not refuse unreasonably, according to the opinion of the Education Department, to join one of these federations or associations. The true basis of it was that it was to be an association entered into for the purpose merely of distributing this 5s. grant, and the only risk that was run by the schools which did not join in it was lest they should lose the five shillings, supposing their conduct was held to be unreasonable. If they looked at the proposal from that point of view, he said the associations of the Bill ought to be most cordially supported as one of the most essential factors for making this great Government scheme of assisting Voluntary Schools of the greatest utility when the Bill was first passed and as regarded education in the future. The right hon. Gentleman had said they must not have waste. In order to secure that, they must have discrimination, and, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, Parliament must retain control. Parliament did retain control, because the fund was to be distributed by the Education Department. On the question of association he believed that a large number of Members would be agreed, when they appreciated what was really proposed by the Government, that it was no interference with local management, or the question of local subsriptions, but merely an association that might advise the Education Department to distribute this sum of five shillings in the most efficacious way for promoting the efficiency of education. When these points were understood, he thought the proposal of the Government ought to have the most cordial support of all who were really interested in the future of education, and he should certainly vote most heartily, and without any misgivings, against the Amendment.
§ MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said that if a necessitous school was, as the hon. and learned Member for Stroud defined it, a school the income of which, from whatever cause, was insufficient to meet the claims upon it, then there were hundreds and thousands of such schools. Could a school be regarded as necessitous when a tithe was taken by the clergyman for rent? There were thousands of schools where, under good management, the sum received from the State would be ample if it were not "milked" in that way. As it was, such schools were now 1635 defined as necessitous. He believed that a year after the Bill was passed there would be two necessitous schools for every one that now existed. It had been suggested that Voluntary School managers might throw away local income to get more State income. It was a question of local contributors withholding local income. [Cheers.] A Tory squire and Churchman, and a great supporter of Voluntary Schools, had written to him saying he had conferred with other subscribers, and he assured him that what would happen would be that subscribers to Voluntary Schools not strictly necessitous would say, "Why should we go on subscribing when, if we withdraw our subscriptions, the maintenance of the schools will fall on the State?" If so, necessitous schools would multiply, and practically every Voluntary School in the country would become necessitous, and 5s. per bead would have to be allotted all round. If it were provided that the withdrawal of existing subscriptions should prevent any claim for State aid under the Bill, the catastrophe might be averted, but they had no assurance that there would be any such safeguard. There were other modes of differentiation than those in the Bill. There might be differentiation of the grant between school and school, or the Education Department might have a sliding scale of grants, giving more per child the smaller the school, and less per child the larger the school. The differentiation proposed by the Bill was bad. It would reduce all schools to the same level, and 5s. per head would have to be given all round.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
wished to correct the impression left by the speech of the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Acland) that Catholics did not favour the priciple of the association of schools. The Catholic Bishops recently issued a statement, signed by all of them, on this Bill, in which the following occurred:—We welcome the proposal to establish associations that will secure an equitable grant in aid and promote the general advancement of public elementary education.So that the Catholics of this country, headed by their Bishops, warmly approved of the principle of association contained in the Bill.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
contended that the definition given of necessitous schools would be of no use whatever to the associations to be formed under the Bill, and they would have as much difficulty as the Government in deciding what were necessitous schools. As to the Bill not interfering with local management, he thought the Bill would give the associations a large controlling influence. If a school did not comply with the desires of the association as regarded religious education it was quite possible the majority in the association would do all in their power to prevent it from getting any portion of the grant. Besides, this; would undoubtedly tend to create a larger number of necessitous schools, which did not exist at the present time. He was a large contributor to Voluntary Schools—one of the largest in the House—and he regarded with some alarm the prospect of schools to which he largely subscribed not getting the 5s. to which they were entitled. Why, in many instances, were voluntary subscriptions given? Often to prevent the formation of Board Schools—[cheers]—the subscribers thinking Board Schools were more expensive. ["Hear, hear!"] Most of the subscribers, when they found the schools were not to have their share of the £620,000, would be inclined to say, "We will discontinue our subscriptions, and the result will be that a large number of the schools will be compelled to appeal to the Board Schools, or become Board Schools instead of Voluntary Schools." He defied anyone to give an accurate description of a necessitous school. The Bill in its present form would cause untold difficulties and quarrelling in various localities. It was impossible to put the task of deciding what were necessitous schools on the inspectors. They had work enough to do, and they were constantly getting into difficulty with the managers of the various schools, and if the powers proposed were put into their hands they would increase their difficulties. In his opinion, it was unwise to make it compulsory for every school to join an association. He could not see why a school, which had been maintained up to the present by voluntary subscriptions should not be entitled to this grant as well as any other which might not have been carried on efficiently, owing to a want of private funds. He 1637 hoped the hon. Member would press his Amendment to a division. If the Bill was passed, without some other means of distributing the money than the provision with regard to associations, it would give great dissatisfaction in the country, and he believed these schools would become Board Schools to a large extent.
§ *MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said the discussion, which for the last two hours had been on the desirability of compulsory association, was quite foreign to the issue now before them. ["Hear, hear!"] There was nothing about associations in the sub-section they were discussing, or in the Amendment. With regard to the compulsory character of the association, they need not deal with that until they came to Sub-section (5) of this clause, when they would have had more time to make up their minds as to that very important, and, he must say, difficult question. He was somewhat surprised at the support which the Amendment had received from the front Opposition Bench. They were now told, and he believed for the first time from that Bench, that the desirable plan, if they gave the money at all, was to give it as a dole without any discrimination whatever. The inevitable effect of the Amendment would be, that this very large sum would be distributed equally per head among all schools, whether in the West End or the East End, whether in poor or wealthy districts, whether the schools were small or large, or were heavily endowed or not endowed at all. He submitted that they would make a very great mistake, both from a financial and an educational point of view, if they abandoned once for all any power of discrimination between necessitous and non-necessitous schools. ["Hear, hear!"] He believed there were various ways that might be adopted of devising machinery for reserving some power of discriminating between the amounts to be granted to various schools; but this was not the time to discuss that machinery. If they refused to give any power of discrimination to the Education Department or to any other authority, the inevitable result would be a great deal of waste. He should, without hesitation, vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said the hon. Member had declared himself a very strong advocate of discrimination, and had indicated that, at some future time, they should be better able to discuss the best mode of deciding that question. He had, however, thrown no light upon that scheme, although he had intimated the possibility that he might suggest another scheme. He ventured to think that now was the proper time to raise this question. If they could, by some certain and infallible process, ascertain what schools needed the money most it would, no doubt, be the wisest course to give those schools the money. But they had to take this scheme, with all the imperfections not only of human and clerical nature, but of House of Commons nature. They must necessarily see whether the machinery suggested by this Bill justified them in departing from what had been the uniform practice in distributing grants for education. A grant of money for education had in that House always been distributed either on the principle of capitation or because the merit and efficiency of a school entitled it to a grant. They had never, until the present occasion, raised the question of the income of the school or the income of those by whom the school was supported. The Bill, however, introduced a new principle—they were going to give public money to necessitous schools. Until that night they had never had a definition from the other side of "necessitous." The First Lord of the Treasury did not give them a, definition; he told them that in the Act of 1870 there was a definition of necessitous schools, and that under Section 97 of that Act provision was made out of the public Exchequer for necessitous schools.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said it was true that he referred to Section 97 of that Act, but he did so to remind the Committee that the contention first advanced by the Mover of this Amendment, and now repeated by the right hon. Gentleman, had really no foundation, and that Parliament had not gone on the principle of distributing a fixed grant apart from the necessities of the schools to which the grant was given.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
apologised for misunderstanding the right hon. Gentleman, but pointed out that what Parliament did in 1870 was to recognise the necessitous school districts—["hear, hear!"]—not the necessitous schools. There was a vital distinction between the two. ["Hear, hear!"] When Mr. Forster inserted that clause into his Bill, his contemplation, and that of the Government of that day, was that the additional cost of education would be met by a 3d. rate. At that time the subscriptions of the voluntary subscribers represented about one-third of the cost of the school, the actual average being something over 7s. The clause was introduced in order that, where a rate of 3d. in the pound would not produce 7s. 6d. per head of all the children in the schools, the Government out of the grant were to make up the difference between the rate and the 7s. 6d. That was the definition, if he might so express it, of the Parliament of that day of a necessitous School Board district. They were not now dealing with the School Board districts, however, but with Voluntary Schools. The hon. Member for the Stroud Division said it was an essential part of this scheme that the money should be given to necessitous schools only. They joined issue upon that point. They contended that it was impossible to discriminate as to what was a necessitous school. They might say that there was a class of subscribers that were necessitous, or a class of subscribers that would not give what they ought to give—which he thought was the more general rule—["hear, hear!"]—and they might give the money to that class of subscribers, but that was not giving it to necessitous schools. An hon. Member just now defined a necessitous school as a school in which the funds were insufficient to defray the cost. But there was a question behind that—namely, why they were insufficient. ["Hear, hear!"] His hon. Friend the Member for Durham had told them of a wealthy coalowner who handsomely subscribed to the Voluntary School of the district for the economical motive of keeping out the School Board. Under the Bill that school was not a necessitous school, because there were sufficient funds to pay the expenses. But if there was a wealthy coalowner in 1640 the next parish who did not give anything to his school, that school was to be subsidised at the rate of 5s. per child in attendance. If that were so, it was probable that the first wealthy coalowner would drop his subscription to his school, which would then become necessitous, and would receive an extra grant under the Bill. [Laughter and cheers.] This was a question that he did not desire to approach in any controversial spirit. The House had determined that this £620,000 was to be given for the relief of Voluntary Schools, and the question now before them was whether the machinery of compulsory Associations was a preferable or even a practical mode of carrying out that desire. He should like to say in passing that he did not agree with the assumption that the Government were wrong in having admitted that there was a stronger case for urban schools as against rural schools. He agreed with the Government in that view. In towns where there were School Boards, there was a far greater pressure on the Voluntary Schools than on similar schools in the rural districts, where there were no School Boards. That question came to the front immediately they proceeded to deal with necessitous schools. What the managers of schools in all the large towns desired was to increase their expenditure in order to make the schools better, and he believed this 5s. per head would be as much wanted by the best Voluntary Schools in towns as it would be by the most impecunious Voluntary Schools in country districts. The hon. Member for Stroud had said that the object of forming the Associations was to insure the equitable distribution of the grant. Then why was that not set out in the Bill? The Government did not prescribe in the Bill the formation of the Associations. They had not sufficient confidence in the wisdom of the Associations to make the formation of the Associations compulsory. Their form was left entirely optional, and Associations thus constituted were to have practically the distribution of the money. And why? The Vice President of the Council had said that if the Department had the distribution of the money it would break down under the labour of deciding which schools were necessitous and which schools were not necessitous. It was, indeed, impossible that the Department 1641 could do it, and so they were reduced to this—that those irresponsible Associations would have the ultimate and final power of distributing this money. It was said that the Department would hear appeals. If that were so, he thought the Department would soon find appeals would be so numerous that it would be far better for them to undertake the distribution of the grant. Every school that would not get a grant would think itself injured and would therefore appeal. What was the objection of giving a grant all round? The new Associations would not be strong enough to say that a certain class of schools should have only 2s. per head and that another class should have 10s. per head. The managers of the schools would not submit to such discrimination. He thought, therefore, they were entitled to ask the Government frankly what they mean as to the constitution of those Associations. The Bill was vague and uncertain. It was an essay. It was a theory. The whole working part of it was left out of the Bill altogether. If the Government thought this a vital part of their scheme to which they intended to adhere, they must have made up their minds as to what the framework of these Associations was to be; what was to be their constitution; what was to be their powers; what responsibility they would have to Parliament; how Parliament was to exercise that responsibility; whether there was to be a general scheme of the Education Department to apply to all Associations and to be laid on the Table of the House for discussion. He thought that it would save time if, before they went any further into this Bill, the Government gave the Committee their views on this important question of the machinery for the distribution of the money.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, with, he was sure, the best intentions, had recommended the Committee to make this the opportunity not merely for a general consideration of the machinery of the Bill as to the distribution of the money, but for a detailed consideration of the plan of the Government. In the observation he had already had the honour of making to the Committee, he had said that he would confine his remarks, as he did rigidly, to the consideration of the questions whether they ought 1642 to give this money according to the needs of the schools to whom it was to be given, or whether they should confine themselves to the grossly imperfect plan of giving 5s. per head all round. He still thought the Committee would have been well advised if they had followed the advice which he then gave them. But, of course, he recognised that it was strictly in order to this Amendment to ask whether the particular machinery the Government had proposed for the distribution of the money was good or was not good. But inasmuch as that point must be inevitably raised on later Amendments dealing with the associations, he would suggest, in the interest of the rapid discharge of business, the orderliness of Debates, and the avoidance of repetition, that they should as far as possible postpone till then all dealing with the details of the plan of the Government in regard to the Associations. He would not even criticise the phrase, so often inaccurately used, that these associations were to be compulsory. He would leave that until the time came to move Amendments practically raising that issue, and he would appeal to the Committee to bring this particular branch of the subject as to the distribution of the money to an early termination in order that they might come to the important questions that would, he admitted, have to be raised before they passed the three sub-sections of the clause. But he would deal with some of the points raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had been told that they could not define necessitous schools, and that it was beyond the power of the draftsman to do so, and they were also told that the scheme of the Bill would involve injustice, and bring about a state of things approaching something like disorder. He confessed that these gloomy forebodings did not influence his judgment in the least. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, he did not pretend that he looked forward with absolute foreknowledge to the future of those associations, or to the distribution of the grant. He admitted that undoubtedly the task that would be thrown on the associations would be one of some difficulty, and that it would demand on their part the exercise of public spirit and uncommon devotion to a common cause. ["Hear, hear!"] But, in the circumstances granted, was 1643 the task of discrimination one that it was impossible to accomplish fairly and justly? ["Hear, hear!"] He thought not. In his judgment, the framework of the Bill was so contrived that it would obviate the danger of assisting schools where the poverty was, as it were, self-made, and that it would not operate as the right hon. Member for Fife had stated, as an. inducement to schools to make themselves "necessitous" in order to participate in the grant. ["Hear, hear!"] He was aware that some hon. Gentlemen opposite, apart altogether from any Party feeling, did look forward with some apprehension to the attempt about to be made in favour of discrimination between the schools. But, after all, was not the experiment worth making? ["Hear, hear!"] If the Committee agreed to the Amendment just as it was, they would give up for all time any hope of carrying out the plan proposed, and hon. Members must admit that that plan of accomplishing the object in view was the best that had been devised. ["Hear, hear!"] If, as he hoped, and firmly believed, the difficulties of the task were not beyond the patriotism and public spirit of the managers of the schools, nor beyond the administrative capacity of the Education Department, the advantage of retaining the Bill in its present form would be that there would be no squandering of the public money. [Cheers.] For those reasons he would earnestly press upon the Committee not to accept the Amendment, which would seriously mutilate a Measure that otherwise he sincerely believed would prove to be of incalculable benefit to education generally. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the proof that the Government had no confidence in the public spirit of Voluntary School managers was shown by the fact that the managers were penalised by Sub-section (5) if they refused to enter the projected associations. In Section 97 of the Act of 1870 there was a distinct principle for ascertaining whether a district was necessitous. The district must be one in which a. 3d. rate did not produce a certain amount. Again, in the Act of 1876, to which the Government was always referring, there was a principle laid down—the necessitous district was defined by a population limit. Where the population of a district within 1644 two miles of the school was less than 300, and there was no other public elementary school recognised by the Department, the Act provided that a special Parliamentary grant should be made to the school. But in this clause the Government were making a distinction on a principle entirely opposed to that of the Act of 1870 or of 1876. They were discriminating in favour of the towns as opposed to the country districts in favour of the districts of large rateable value and population, as against the districts of small rateable value and population. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had said that if he were the manager of a Voluntary School, and the question were left to his discretion, he should not vote for any portion of the grant payable to his association being taken from his school to be given to a more necessitous school. The noble Lord said that he did not think it would be right to do so. And yet the noble Lord was going to support a Bill which would compel managers to do the very thing which the noble Lord thought it would be wrong for them to do.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said that the hon. Member had referred to the case of Manchester as a town in which the subscriptions per scholar were not up to the average over the country. This was an argument which had been exposed over and over again. The explanation was that in Manchester a very much larger proportion of the population sent the children to Voluntary Schools, and where the subscriptions were low, the population was exceedingly poor.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
pointed out to the Committee that there were eight schools in Manchester where the subscriptions were above the average, and that, under the Bill, they would suffer for the benefit of the others.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said that it was perfectly evident that only an authority well acquainted with the district would be qualified to judge of the best manner of distributing the grant.
§ MR. ALBERT SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)
said that the hon. and learned Member for Stroud and the First Lord of the Treasury had repeatedly insisted on the fact that these associations would have nothing to do with the local management of schools, but only with the distribution of the grant. Being a member of 1645 a Voluntary Church, he had had some experience of somewhat analogous conditions, and he was sure that the Government did not clearly apprehend what the effect of these associations would be. If there were to be discrimination between school and school, it was inevitable that sooner or later local management would be touched. Any association wishing to distribute the grant according to the necessities of its different schools must make inquiries to get at the facts. They would find all sorts of circumstances existing. For instance, they might find in one school district that a Broad Church squire refused to subscribe to the school because it was conducted on the principles of a High Church clergyman; and the association would be bound to refuse aid to any school which did not meet reasonable local requirements. The Government were discriminating from the wrong end. If they had admitted some principle of local control all might have been well. But this they had persistently refused.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
denied that the deputation of Lancashire Members, to whom reference had been made, were opposed to the principle of association. It would be unfair, he thought, to those who desired to see this Bill passed that such a statement should go without contradiction.
§ MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
hoped he was right in gathering from what the First Lord of the Treasury had said that the Government might not, at some later stage of the discussion, be indisposed to seriously consider the abandonment of the compulsory form of association of schools. As to the question of the aid grant, or, as some people called it, the 5s. dole, the scheme for discretionary distribution or favouritism, or picking and choosing between school and school, had been very carefully considered by the Committee who had charge of all the Wesleyan schools, and who had to consider the interests of something like 300,000 Wesleyan children in Anglican elementary schools. Although the Committee embraced some political supporters of the right hon. Gentleman, they came unanimously to the conclusion that there was no just and equitable method of 1646 differentiating between school and school. There was one point which did not seem to have occurred to the Leader of the House, and that was the view which the parents might take of this question. Some schools might receive out of the public funds 25s. or 26s. per head, while other schools might get 32s., 33s., 34s., or 35s. Was it not extremely probable that the parents of those children in the schools receiving the lesser amount, would seriously complain that less was being spent upon the education of their children, than upon those in the schools receiving larger sums. Already protests were being made against the scheme of federation, even by the managers of Voluntary Schools. The Worcester Herald had gone to the trouble of ascertaining the opinions of Voluntary School managers in and around Worcester, and it had been ascertained that no less than one-fourth of the managers in that district strongly repudiated the system of compulsory association. And leaders of opinion in the Church of England like the Bishop of Hereford, Canon Barker, and Archdeacon Wilson had joined in repudiating this portion of the Bill. He wished that at some later stage of the discussion the Government would announce that this cumbrous and unnecessary machinery would be dropped.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said that the system of federation was impossible in practice. The First Lord of the Treasury had spoken about some virtuous individual who would see to the interests of the schools, but that individual would not be able to vote against his own school getting a large grant, however rich that school was. There was nothing to show which school was to get large help and which school was to get small help, and the result must be that every member of an association would be pledged to do all he could to benefit his own school.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 90.—(Division List, No. 69.)1647
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'to such Voluntary Schools' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 228; Noes, 88.—(Division List, No. 70.)
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ *SIR JAMES WOODHOUSE (Huddersfield)
moved, in Sub-section (2), to leave out all the words after "schools," to the end of the sub-section, and to insertin accordance with regulations which will insure that it shall be applied—(a) in improving the teaching staff as regards number, qualification, or salary; and so far as it is not in the opinion of the Education Department required for that purpose—(b) in the payment of the teaching staff, the provision of special teachers whether on the permanent staff or not, and in the improvement of the eduaction of pupil teachers; and(c) in the improvement of the educational fittings and apparatus of the school, and in otherwise increasing its efficiency.He said that the sub-section of the Bill now under consideration dealt with the distribution of the grant, and he was encouraged to move the Amendment by the fact that, in the only speech which the Vice President of the Council had delivered on the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman used these remarkable words:—I am quite certain that any Amendment which merely goes to secure that this State-aid grant shall be used merely for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country will be welcomed by the Government.It was true that the right hon. Gentleman spoke, as he said, in the absence of the First Lord of the Treasury, but he could not doubt that, when he used those words, he not only spoke the mind of the Education Department, but really represented the collective wisdom of the Government. This grant might be applied in one of three ways. In the first place, it might be applied in promoting educational efficiency; in the second place, it might be applied in relieving voluntary subscribers; and in the third place, it might be wasted altogether. The last course was not at all an improbable one, and constituted a real danger, as was evidenced by what the Duke of Devonshire said when he 1648 received a deputation of Church dignitaries in November 1895. On that occasion the Lord President said:—another objection to the increase of the grant is that in some cases it does not appear to be needed, and would therefore involve a very considerable waste of public money.That contention had been put forward on more than one occasion by those on his side of the House; and he was glad to have the high authority of the Lord President of the Council that that was a danger which ought to be specially guarded against. He wanted to see these provisions in the statute itself. It was a precaution which the Government felt in providing for the application of a lesser grant last year. No one had made more clear than the Duke of Devonshire and the Vice President the necessity of a provision of this character. The Duke of Devonshire said:—It seems to me there is a real danger unless any increase of a fixed grant should be guarded very carefully; it is rather difficult to see how any increase would be used for the purpose which you desire—the placing of Voluntary and Board Schools on an equal footing.He was referring to the contention that the Church was unable to continue the expense of keeping the Voluntary Schools in an efficient state, because of the competition and the inequality which existed between Voluntary and Board Schools. A no less remarkable declaration was made by the Vice President in November last, when he said:—Unless effective precautions were taken a grant would do little to relieve the financial difficulties of managers; it would be swallowed up in relieving subscribers, and there would be nothing left for managers to spend on the schools.It was in consequence of these declarations that he invited the Committee to put into the Bill what one of the Education Ministers called "careful safeguards," and what the other called "effective precautions," against any misapplication of the money to other purposes than the promotion of educational efficiency. During the last few weeks two very important bodies had been considering this subject, both strongly representing the interests and necessities of Voluntary Schools—the Northern Association of Voluntary Schools and the Northern House of Convocation. Both of these bodies pressed for the deletion of certain words in the 1649 sub-section; what were they? The words were, "Due regard being had to voluntary subscriptions." Why was this asked? Was it because they thought that, by retaining them, educational efficiency would be promoted? No; they could only surmise that the reason for the deletion of the words being asked was a fear that the money could not be applied to the relief of voluntary subscript ions. The Dean of Manchester said that he wanted the words "due regard" deleted—
*THE GHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I do not exactly see how the question of voluntary subscriptions arises on the Amendment of the hon. Member.
§ SIR J. WOODHOUSE
said his point was this: If the money was not applied as he proposed—namely, to educational efficiency—it would be applied to the relief of voluntary subscriptions.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The question of "due regard" is one which can be debated at a later stage. It is obviously inconvenient to debate it now, because the Amendment raises a totally different question.
§ *SIR J. WOODHOUSE
said a grave suspicion was raised in their minds that unless this money was protected in the Bill by express statutory provisions it would go to relieve voluntary subscriptions. Those safeguards, therefore, ought to be introduced in the Bill. What was the ground on which the Ecclesiastical authorities had asked for this grant? The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the necessity for it had arisen on two grounds, (1) because of the competition of the Board Schools; and (2) because of the insufficient staffing and teaching in the Voluntary Schools. He complained that the School Board spent too much on buildings, and that they spent too much on salaries—an argument which came very badly from a former head master of one of their public schools in receipt of a very large salary. He also read A letter from a teacher of a very important Voluntary School, who complained of the School Board competition, and said:—We are better off than most Voluntary Schools, for although we get nothing from voluntary subscriptions, we receive 15s. per head in school fees. Voluntary Schools will 1650 never compare favourably with School Boards until they are similarly staffed. I have not one trained certificated assistant; my rivals have nothing else. When my ex-pupil teachers gain their certificates their ambition is to get into a Board School, and my pupil teachers do the same.That was the case placed by Dr. Temple before the Government as the reason why they should have this additional aid, and he now asked the Government to embody in this Bill that which would insure that the money should be applied for the purposes and on the grounds upon which it was asked by that deputation which waited upon the Lord President and Lord Salisbury. Upon the question of the comparative efficiency of Board Schools and Voluntary Schools, the Royal Commission came to this conclusion:—There is no doubt that, if the results of Government inspectors are a fair test of the efficiency of schools, the Board Schools are much more efficient than the Voluntary Schools.The statistics showed that that was true in a remarkable degree. Take, for instance, the proportions of certificated teachers. In Board Schools every head master was not only a certificated teacher, but 53 per cent. of the teachers and assistant teachers were certificated, against only 21 per cent. in Voluntary Schools. Then there was the question of discipline and organisation. The highest grant was awarded by the Department as a measure of the efficiency of the school as a whole, and 88 per cent. of that was obtained in Board Schools, and only 75 per cent. in Voluntary Schools. Again, if they took accuracy of knowledge and general intelligence, which was the basis on which the principal grant was awarded, the two systems yielded this result: 67 per cent. in Board Schools, and 40 per cent. in Voluntary Schools. Then as to the training and education of pupil teachers. The test of relative efficiency was the proportion of student teachers who obtained first-class certificates, and in that the proportion for Board Schools was 20 per cent. and in Voluntary Schools it was only 9 per cent. He was anxious that this money should be applied to more adequately remunerating the teachers, to increasing their number, and to increasing their efficiency, by getting more certificated teachers, and in that way to the 1651 improvement of the standard of education throughout the country, which should be the great object of that House in awarding money for educational purposes. That this question of the salary of teachers was a very important one was made clear by the memorial of the Voluntary teachers themselves. They said:—The average salary of head teachers in Voluntary Schools is very much less than that of head teachers in Board Schools. In the case of masters it is 34 per cent., and in that of mistresses 58 per cent., while the salaries of certificated assistant teachers in the two classes of schools show even a greater disparity, the masters receiving 46 per cent. less and the mistresses 62 per cent. less than assistant teachers in Board Schools, whose duties and responsibilities are of precisely the same character.With that remarkable statement before them could the Committee doubt the wisdom and the necessity of laying down in that Bill the direction that the money was applied to equalise that great disparity? The Royal Commission said:—The most important subject of our inquiry, that which lies at the root of all educational progress, is the quality of the teaching and the character of the teacher. We owe a duty to him and to the children to secure that their work shall be done with no external hindrances, with the best appliances, and with well adapted premises. But after all the most important factor in the success of the school is the teacher.He wanted this money applied to the removal of those hindrances, to obtaining the best appliances, and to securing those well adapted premises which the Royal Commission said were so essential for the success of their educational progress in this country. In putting forward this argument he was but stating in much more imperfect language what was stated by the Vice President himself in the only speech with which he had honoured them during the consideration of this Bill. He was quite sure if the Government accepted this Amendment it would be appreciated in the country irrespective of Party, because it would convince the country that the Government were serious in their desire that this money should be applied in a proper manner.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said the hon. Member had referred to a statement made by his right hon. Friend the Vice President that the Government would be willing to accept any 1652 Amendment which would have for its result the improvement of education in the Voluntary Schools. He entirely agreed with that. He also agreed that there was no difference as to the object they had in this particular matter. The only question between them was whether the Bill would be improved by the words proposed by the hon. Member. He presumed the hon. Member considered it an alternative proposal.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
did not deny that the hon. Member's account of what efficiency consisted of was a very fair account, but he failed to see that the words in the Bill would not carry out all that the hon. Member desired to achieve. He did not think that it was necessary to enumerate what efficiency consisted of. The hon. Member in his Amendment did enumerate the elements of efficiency as they occurred to his mind, but he still had a fear, and he swept up the unknown by introducing the words, "and in otherwise increasing efficiency." The last words of his Amendment, therefore, included everything that he set out at length in the first lines of the Amendment. The Government believed that they attained the same end by the phrase in the Bill.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said they were dealing simply with the best way in which the money could be applied. As regarded the obligation, there was no difference of opinion between them—it was simply a question as to the best way in which the idea could be expressed. His hon. Friend thought that specific words should be put in with a specific purpose. They were this year dealing with a larger sum than last year, and there was practically no control at all, and they now found the Government unwilling to accept words which they themselves proposed last year. What they wanted was to be clear on two points. They wanted to be quite certain that none of this money goes into the pockets of subscribers; and, secondly, they wanted to be assured that the money should really go to increasing the efficiency of Voluntary Schools. They knew quite well, as had already been pointed out over and over again, that the Bill as 1653 it stood gave such vague directions that there would be the greatest difficulty in seeing that this money was properly applied. They wanted the Department to take the question of subscriptions into account. They had a great suspicion, they had great doubts, they had fears, that in dealing with these schools the increased grant would, directly or indirectly, load to the diminution of subscriptions. They were therefore especially interested at that moment, not in putting into the Bill vague and unmeaning words, which gave them no guarantee that this £620,000 would go to promote efficiency; they wanted to make sure that the money would be applied to the improvement in the teaching of these schools. Everyone who knew anything about elementary education, everyone who was in any way concerned with the voluntary system, knew quite well the weak spot and where the strain was greatest. That weak spot was with regard to the teaching. They knew that the teachers were underpaid and overworked. ["Hear, hear!"] The strain was not so much upon the managers, but upon the teachers. It was to that point that relief ought to go. If they wanted to assure that the money should go to the promoting of efficiency—and efficiency was really in question—why should they not state it specifically? He felt bound to say that he could not follow the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in his argument that the words of the Bill were clearer than the Bill of last year. They wanted the teaching class improved, and they wanted the condition of the teachers improved. They were not opposing the amount of money to be given, or whether it was applied to certain schools or all round; they wanted the weak spot dealt with and the teaching improved. They knew very well that the strain was on the teachers, and the strain was greater than it was in Board Schools.
§ *MR. WALTER HAZELL (Leicester)
observed that the Amendment would make more clear the object which the Government said they had in their mind. If any form of words could be adopted which would make it more sure that this grant would go towards the provision of more efficient education and further appliances, a higher paid and a larger staff, then, he thought, much good would be done. 1654 There was one point he should like to refer to. Most hon. Members were aware of the scope of the Fair Wages Resolution of the House. Were they not at the present time sanctioning an anomaly? Here is a body of men who were carrying on their work under the control of a Government Department, and with money which, in the case of Voluntary Schools, was mainly provided by Parliament, and in the case of Board Schools largely by Parliament, and merely by the accident of their being in Voluntary Schools instead of Board Schools, their salaries were much lower. It was most undesirable that public servants should be coming before Parliament with claims for higher salaries oftener than could be avoided. He would ask the House whether, in face of the Fair Wages Resolution, it was not stultifying itself by permitting a system to continue a day longer than was necessary, by which two groups of public servants, with the same qualifications, performing the same duties, and both equally efficient, should be paid on an arbitrarily different scale of emolument. Believing that this Amendment would help to raise the salaries in Voluntary Schools, he cordially supported it.
§ MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his determination not to accept the Amendment, which really served a most admirable purpose. It indicated to the associations what was the meaning of this extra grant. It was not to be used in defraying the ordinary expenditure of the school, but in meeting the increased expenditure which had been incurred by improving the teaching staff. That was to say, the money was not to be spent merely upon maintaining the existing staff, apparatus, and requirements of the school, but exclusively for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the school. There was a further reason for the acceptance of the Amendment. If hon. Members would turn to Sub-section (4) of the clause they would find that the associations were to prepare schemes which were to be sanctioned by the Department before the money allotted to them would be distributed by the Education Department. The Committee of Council on Education had, through the Vice President, expressed their opinion as to what the schemes should be. The 1655 right hon. Gentleman stated on the Second Reading of the Bill, thatThe scheme will not only have to indicate the amount of public money to be allotted to each of the constituent schools, but it will also have to prescribe the purposes for which the money so allotted shall be used by the schools.That was to say, the scheme put forward by the association would have to embody such terms as those presented in the Amendment. Was it not the most reasonable thing in the world that the Committee should suggest, by introducing this Amendment, the terms of the scheme and the idea of Parliament as to what the basis of the action of the association should be? It ought to be made clear that it was for the very objects embodied in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman of last year that this money was specially demanded, and for those objects alone. For these reasons he supported the Amendment.
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON (York, W.R., Morley)
remarked that up to the present it had been illegal for the managers of schools to devote public moneys of this character to the payment of debts which had been incurred in the erection of permanent buildings, or in connection with the carrying on of the schools. According to the present. Bill, however, it would be perfectly legitimate for an association to use money for the purpose of repairing or adding to existing buildings. This was an exceedingly important matter, and it seemed to him that the money granted by this Bill might be used in the same way as that in which, in some cases, the 10s. fee grant had been used, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford (Sir William Hart Dyke), who had been responsible for the Education Department in that House, had admitted that the money received under the Fee Grant Act 1891, had been used for the particular purpose of paying off debts previously incurred. Diocesan associations existed at the present time, and he had no doubt the Diocesan Board would look for the money to be obtained from this Bill to enable them to pay debts they had already incurred in the maintenance and repair of existing buildings for which they had made themselves responsible. The Government ought to take some precautions to prevent such an allocation of public money. ["Hear, 1656 hear!"] He thought the Leader of the House had too much confidence in the ability of the associations to put the money to the right uses, but if this Amendment were accepted it would give an assurance not merely to the Committee but to the country at large that the money would be used for the purpose for which Parliament intended it. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne) had said that the chief strain at the present time was upon the teaching—the difficulty being to provide adequate salaries in order to attach efficient teachers to the Voluntary Schools. If that was the case, what objection could there be on the part of the noble Lord or of the Government to give, at any rate, some directions to the associations that they might allocate the money to such an object. He was convinced that if the Government would accept this or some similar Amendment, which would not absolutely limit the allocation of the money to the narrowest possible channel, but would give the association some indication of the purpose the House of Commons had in granting this money, they would be giving considerable satisfaction to the House and to the country. [Opposition cheers.] It was a serious matter that this huge sum of public money should be left so largely in the discretion of irresponsible bodies. There might have been some excuse for leaving the matter open if these bodies had been of a responsible character, but being of an irresponsible character there was a fear that they might not use the money as it ought to be used. The Government would render the cause of Education and even Voluntary Schools a great service if they would give some indication of how this money was to be spent for the benefit of education and of the schools they desired should be supported by this Bill. [Opposition cheers.]
§ *MR. CHARLES HARRISON (Plymouth)
pointed out that the words of the Amendment were identical with those used in the Bill of the Government of last year. Inefficiency arose undoubtedly and admittedly from an inefficient teaching staff. The Bill of 1896 specified that the first item of application of the money for curing the inefficiency should be by its application to improving the teaching staff as regards the qualification or salary. Those objects had priority over all others, 1657 and the Bill of 1896 provided, so far as the fund might not be required for that particular purpose, then it should be applied in the order set out in the present Amendment for remedying the deficiencies in the school by applying the balance generally in payment of the teaching staff, the provision of special teachers, whether on the permanent staff or not—an object which would not fall within the provisions of the clause as now drafted—the improved education of pupil teachers, and the improvement of the educational fittings and apparatus of the school, and it was only by the 5th Sub-section in the Bill of 1896 provided that the surplus which remained, if any, should alone be applied by the Education authority at their discretion. Until these objects had been fulfilled, no general discretion arose as to the application of the money. Its application embraced objects beyond the words mentioned in the present Bill, and as the grant in aid allotted to a particular school under the scheme of the Bill might not be in fact sufficient, it was essential that the order of application should be laid down by the statute. This was effected by adopting the terms of the Amendment, the language of which and the objects of which were more extensive and were not the same as those intrusted to the Department under the words in the present Bill. If this Amendment were accepted, the money could not be applied to any other purpose whatsoever. But under the words of the present Bill, which were "increasing their efficiency," no order of priority was given by which the money might be applied for any one or other of the numerous causes which made the particular inefficiency, and the object of the Amendment was to say that, having regard to the inefficiency, they should cure that inefficiency, first by applying the grant to the improvement of the teaching staff, and then to the other objects mentioned in the Amendment. For these reasons he strongly supported the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said this was one of the most important Amendments which had been submitted to the Committee, and it was one which he should have thought would have been welcomed on the opposite side of the House. Throughout the country the supporters of the Bill had proclaimed that their sole object was to improve the 1658 efficiency of the Voluntary Schools, and everyone of them when he addressed his constituents would say that that was the object of the Bill.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Had the right hon. Gentleman no ulterior object in mind when he spoke of the intolerable strain? About this time last year they had under discussion a Bill introduced by the Vice President of the Council, and which he declared had for its object the efficiency of all the schools. He specially pointed out that the grant of 4s. per head was earmarked for the purpose. How was it earmarked? In the very words of the Amendment. [Cheers.] The First Lord of the Treasury knew how important it was to specify in the Bill in what respect it was intended to improve the efficiency of the schools, and that the first condition of efficiency was that there should be efficient teachers. When the Government set out in a clear, lucid, and specific manner in the Bill of last year the requirements of the schools, why did they content themselves with, the mere expression of a pious opinion this year? Why did the Government object to the words of the Amendment?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Were they surplusage last year? No one but the right hon. Gentleman would say so, and if he could spend a week in the Education Department he would not say they were surplusage. Efficiency was the crux of the whole question, and it depended on the efficiency and sufficiency of the teaching staff in elementary schools. On the Second Reading of the Bill of last year they were promised by the Vice President of the Council that "any Amendment which really goes to secure that this State aid grant shall be used for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country will be welcomed by the Government," They now welcomed such Amendments by a conspiracy of silence. [Cheers and counter cheers.] We had arrived at a period of the 19th century when, if anything was required in the British House of Commons, it was that it should spare no effort and no money to raise the character of the education of the country. Nothing was so vital to the public interest of this country or its 1659 future productiveness and prosperity as improved schools, and the very key to improvement was an improved teaching staff. The right hon. Gentleman had ridiculed the words of the Amendment as surplusage. That was treating the matter with levity. [Cheers.] It seemed that the House of Commons no longer existed for debate and deliberation, but merely to register the fiat of a Minister. They were not permitted to make any improvements in this Bill; so far from Amendments being welcomed they were rejected with almost silent contempt. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "No."] It would be the duty of those who sat on that side of the House, and it would be his duty as one who supported Mr. Forster in carrying the Act of 1870 through the House, to let the world know, and to let his countrymen know—[ironical cheers]—that the compromise had been broken, and that that valuable Measure had been injured and all but destroyed by the action of the Government. They would also expose to the country what they were not allowed to discuss in that House.
[At the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, there were Opposition cries of "Gorst."]
§ *MR. HOBHOUSE
thought his right hon. Friend had been a little hard upon them on that side of the House. There was surely no question of breaking the compromise of the Act of 1870. Many of them had exactly the same object in view on that subject as the right hon. Gentleman had. He desired that this money should go to increase the efficiency of the schools. It was really a question of words—whether the words should be more general or more specific. If the exact words proposed by the hon. Member were here inserted, it would make this sub-section a very bad specimen of drafting. [Mr. MUNDELLA: "Government drafting."] He quite admitted there would be some advantage in specifying the particular objects, and if that could be done by the addition of a few words in a later sub-section he should have no objection to it, although he did not think that in the interests of education it was at all necessary. It was perfectly well known both to officers of the Education Department and to managers of Voluntary Schools and their representatives on the Boards of Association in 1660 what the efficiency of a school consisted. It consisted, in the first place, in the efficiency of the teachers, and they could not get good teachers without paying them a fair salary. The Inspectors of the Department would no doubt have the power when they went round to audit the accounts of seeing that the money had been actually applied to the proper purposes. The Government had not altered their opinion as to the objects to which this money was to be applied, but they could hardly be blamed, after their recent experience, for having chosen that form of words which would provoke the least discussion.
§ *MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
said the Amendment was opposed on miserably inadequate grounds. He believed these words would strengthen the Education Department, which was constantly engaged in struggles with local authorities, in order to secure efficiency in the schools. Perhaps the hon. Member who had just sat down did not know the difficulties which the Inspectors sometimes had in presenting honest and honourable reports. The requirements of the Education Department in regard to buildings, fittings, and appliances were the constant subject of complaint by the managers of the schools. When this Bill was passed the Department would be entitled to be even more exacting in the future than it had been in the past. By the insertion of the words in the Amendment they could so strengthen the Education Department that it would have clear statutory authority for the requirements it would make, which would render the future course of the Department more easy. The hon. Member for Huddersfield had made out an unanswerable case in support of the contention that the Voluntary Schools as a general rule were inferior to the Board Schools. The candid friends of the Voluntary Schools admitted that. They say, "Let us put funds at the command of the managers, and they will show that their schools can be made as good as the Board Schools." The Amendment would take those gentlemen at their word, and it would give to the Education Department the right to require from the managers of the Voluntary Schools evidence that their teaching was efficient. He was sure no friend of education would regret the insertion of the Amendment. 1661 He was also sure that many real friends of education would deeply regret that the Government had refused to accept it.
§ MR. YOXALL
said the objection of the First Lord of the Treasury to the Amendment was that it was lengthy, verbose, and expressed its object in a roundabout way. The hon. Member for Somerset had said that if short form of words were proposed he must support it. He, therefore, asked the First Lord whether, as both sides were anxious that the money should be spent for the improvement of the teaching staffs, he would agree to insert after "increasing their efficiency," the words" particularly by improving the number, qualification, and remuneration of the teaching staffs." That form of words was short and unmistakeable, and met all the objections of the First Lord. Without the insertion of some such words they would have no security that the money would be spent to increase the efficiency of the Voluntary Schools. What was the condition at the present moment of the teaching staffs of the Voluntary Schools? In thousands of those schools throughout the country there was only one adult teacher and he had usually to teach twelve different subjects in six or seven different classes. He had often asked the teachers of such schools what they would do if they had an additional revenue of £10 a year, and the answer invariably was that they would get an additional teacher. There were some 12,000 teachers in the Voluntary Schools who had no academic qualification; no certificate of professional efficiency, except that they were 18 years of age, and the inspectors allowed them to teach. There were probably 20,000 teachers in the Voluntary Schools who were little more than children. In fact, the Voluntary Schools were largely worked by child labour—youths of 15 or 16 years of age, who taught all day and studied all night. There were 25,600 certificated teachers in the Voluntary Schools. Of those only 698 had salaries of £200 a year; 11,759 got less than £75; 2,006 got less than £50; 1,096 got less than £15; and 367 got less than £10. The houses of many of those teachers had only four rooms—
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Order, order! I do not think that that comes within the scope of this Amendment.
§ MR. YOXALL
said he would not press that point further. He would only urge in conclusion that if they wanted to make the teaching in the Voluntary Schools more efficient they would have to im-improve the condition of the teachers.
*MR. H. C. F. LUTTBELL (Devon, Tavistock)
said that if the real object of the Bill was to improve education by the efficiency of the schools, rather than to bring the Voluntary Schools into competition with the Board Schools, he could not see why the Government should hesitate to accept the Amendment, which was proposed for the only purpose of improving the teaching staff and raising the character of the school. ["Hear, hear!"] The only objection they had heard from the other side against the Amendment came from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, who contended that it was a surplusage. Hon. Members who supported it, however, were of a contrary opinion. The Bill had many faults, but no one could accuse it of being too lengthy—then why this undue care about printers' ink? By contending that the Amendment was a surplus Amendment the Government practically admitted that their Bill was a surplice Bill, and if that were so its effect would be only to assist parsons, Bishops, members of the Church of England. [Loud Ministerial cries of dissent.] Well, he would not say members of the Church of England alone, but of religious denominations, and he urged that education should not be made in any way a matter of religious denomination. Unless the Amendment, or some other Amendment to the same effect, was passed, the operation of the Bill would be to assist the religious denominations through giving to the projected associations, which would be largely influenced by denominational opinions, the opportunity of framing what arrangements they pleased. It they wished to have the children of the country well taught, they must have good teachers. On the grounds he had stated he strongly supported the Amendment. [" Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. BARTLEY
thought the Committee had been engaged for two hours in discussing a matter which involved merely a difference between "tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum." [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and laughter.] The words in the Bill were such as the Education Department 1663 thought best for the purpose of helping the necessitous schools, and at the same time of increasing their efficiency. The matter came within charge of the Department, and it must be acknowledged that hitherto they had acted impartially—["hear, hear!"]—and knew, at least as much as hon. Members opposite, what were the best means of promoting the efficiency of the schools. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought it would be much better if the Committee passed on to the consideration of some more substantial Amendment, and left a matter of comparative detail of this kind to the Education Department. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR H. FOWLER
said there was a great difference between the statements of the Government last year and this year as to what they regarded as essential for the improvement and efficiency of education in the schools. Last year, in justifying the grant of 4s. per head, they promised over and over again that the money was to be applied exclusively for the improvement of education. ["Hear, hear!"] That was said in the House; but what was said out of doors? In shoals of letters to certain papers grave dissatisfaction was expressed with the Government because no relief was offered to the schools. What those people wanted was not an increase of educational efficiency, but an increase of relief to the schools. [Cheers.] The Government had brought in a short Bill, as they said, and it was urged that the matter was only a question of drafting. It was not a question of drafting; it was a question of meaning. [Cheers.] The keynote of last year's Bill had been left out, and general words had been inserted in this Bill which might mean anything or nothing. Nobody had justified this alteration of the action of the Government. The hon. Member for Nottingham had suggested a much shorter form of words, which conveyed, though not so fully, the meaning of the provision of the Bill of last year, but the Government would have none of that. Let the Committee distinctly understand what they were going to vote upon. The Opposition were voting for this money to be spent in the improvement of the teaching staff, and in improving the efficiency of the schools. [Cheers.] Those who supported the Government would be voting against those objects. [Cheers.]
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST, Cambridge University),
who was received with Ministerial cheers and loud ironical cheers from the Opposition Benches, said that he had risen to put the right hon. Gentleman right on a matter of fact—[laughter]—and to save him from making an unintentional misrepresentation. In the Bill of last year, it was quite true, the purposes for which the special aid grant was to be spent were specifically set out. But last year the distribution of the specific aid grant was intrusted, not to the Education Department, but to a new education authority which was created by the Bill, and which had no previous educational experience. [Opposition cheers and laughter.] Such an authority would have stood much in need of Parliamentary guidance. [Opposition cheers and laughter.] But in the Bill of this year the distribution of the special aid grant was intrusted, not to a new education authority, but to a very old and experienced education authority—the Committee of Council. [Opposition cheers and laughter.] Therefore this year the Bill very rightly laid down in general terms that the grant was to be distributed by the Education Department in such a manner as the Department thought best for increasing the efficiency of the schools. [Cheers and cries of "No!"] He supposed that there was no authority in the country which was better fitted to judge of the due order in which the various methods of expenditure should be placed—to say in one particular case that the payment of the teachers should come first and that in another case the provision of apparatus should come first. He thought that the Committee and the Government might properly, in a matter of that kind, having given a direction that the money was to be spent in increasing the efficiency of the schools, leave the particular manner in which it was to be spent to the discretion of the Education Department. [Cheers.]
§ *MR. ROBERT CAMERON (Durham, Houghton-le-Spring)
said that he was glad to find that on this Amendment, which was by far the most important on the Paper, both sides were in practical agreement on principles, though differing in details. The phrase "for increasing the efficiency of the schools" was a very 1665 general and vague phrase, which might cover much or little. He wished to see it converted into definite propositions. Only last week the Secretary of the Voluntary School Teachers' Association in his neighbourhood waited on him to urge that the main part of this money should be earmarked for the teachers' salaries and the providing of school apparatus. They feared that the money would be devoted to other purposes, He had had nine years' experience as Chairman of one of the largest School Boards in the country: and he had noted that when that Board advertised for teachers they received scores of applications from the masters of Voluntary Schools. He often asked them privately why they wished to make the change, and their answer was that under a School Board they were freer, had better pay, and better security for the future. The Bill should contain specific provisions for securing efficiency, and efficiency meant, as well as good management, well-trained and well-paid teachers, with an assured and independent position. Without those conditions the profession of the schoolmaster would never rank as it was worthy to rank. The country had spent millions on education, and had a right to see that value was given to it for this additional grant.
§ MR. ACLAND
said the Vice President of the Council, whose intervention in the discussion in Committee for the first time they welcomed—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, the second time"]—he had previously only made a remark and not a speech—stated that the reason why the words of last year defining the object for which this grant should be given were not now needed was that the bodies who were to do the work under the Bill required less guidance than the authorities contemplated by the Measure of last year. Let him read one or two words of the Bill which came a little after those the right hon. Gentleman read, because they bore on the local authorities of this year:—The share so allotted to each association shall be distributed as aforesaid by the Education Department after consulting the governing body of the association.What were the instructions which the governing body of the association were to follow? What were they to do when they considered the recommendations which they were about to make to the 1666 Education Department as to the distribution of the grant? What was the guidance which the Bill gave them as to the particular direction in which this grant was to be given? They were to distribute the grant "as aforesaid." Why should not the words "as aforesaid" guide this new body, which required as much guidance as the authority under the Bill of last year—["hear, hear!"]—perhaps more—[cheers]—which would be as new to this kind of work as the County Councils; why should they not find, when they looked upwards in the Bill from the words "as aforesaid," the detailed words of last year's Bill, telling them what their duties really were? It seemed to him that if the Vice President's words earned force they had a much stronger application to the Amendment as it was laid before the Committee now than they could have had last year. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HAROLD RECKITT (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
asked the Committee for that indulgence which was always extended to a Member when addressing it for the first time. He wished to intervene in the Debate, because the constituency he had the honour to represent was almost entirely served by Voluntary Schools. His experience was, that the people in agricultural districts suffered very materially from the fact that the salaries of the teachers in the Voluntary Schools were insufficient. From that cause alone Voluntary Schools in the agricultural districts were very often unable to gain that amount of Imperial aid, in the shape of grants, which they would otherwise obtain. ["Hear, hear!"] He was one of those who supported this Amendment, in order that the efficiency of teaching in our agricultural districts should be increased. In more than one Voluntary School with which he was personally connected the teachers suffered from the fact that they had to teach four and five standards in the same day in various classes and under various circumstances. They were put into competition with the town schools, where the staff was sufficient to give one teacher for each standard. The grants which were earned by each set of schools during the year were calculated upon the same basis of examination; and it was 1667 not surprising that, under those circumstances, it was much less in the agricultural districts than in the towns. Care should be taken that this additional aid grant should be devoted to increasing the salaries of the teachers, increasing the general efficiency, and improving the apparatus of country schools, and not used for making up a diminution of subscriptions. The First Lord of the Treasury had stated that it was the purpose of the Bill that more money should go to the towns than to the country. From his own experience, he should say that the standard of education in the country at the present time required more raising than it did in the towns. ["Hear, hear!"] Personally he thought that 5s. per head per child in the agricultural districts was absolutely insufficient to raise the standard of education to anything like that which it had attained in the towns at the present time. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. CHARLES MORLEY (Breconshire)
said that, under the clause as it stood at present, money might be applied to the Voluntary Schools for two purposes; it might be applied for helping necessitous schools, and it might also be applied for increasing their efficiency. He wanted to know whether, under the clause, the money might be voted or used or applied for extending or increasing the existing buildings of a school, or for liquidating existing debts.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
asked the Vice President of the Council why, if he recommended the general terms of the Bill, he promised to the House only 10 days ago that any Amendment which really tended to the promotion and improvement of education would be welcomed by the Government? He, at any rate, considered that the use of those words committed the Government to accepting any Amendment which promoted efficiency. Those who were in favour of putting into practical effect the efficiency of education in our schools would vote for the Amendment, and those who were in favour of the relief of voluntary subscribers would vote with the Government.
§ Question put, "That the words 'and in such manner' stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 259: Noes, 119.—(Division List—No. 71.)1668
§ The announcement of the figures was received with opposition cheers.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The next Amendment not out of order stands in the name of the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan (Mr. Samuel Evans). I confess that I do not quite understand what the Amendment means. [Laughter.] If it means that the Education Department is to have no discretion as to the mode in allotting the amounts, but is to allot the 5s. grant all round, it is out of order. [Laughter.] But if it has any other meaning, then it may be in order, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain it. [Laughter.]
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
moved in Sub-section (2) to leave out the words "and amounts." He said that he was proposing to leave out those words for the purpose of having some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council as to what the words meant. [Laughter.] The meaning of the words as they stood appeared to be that the Department would have the ultimate decision as to what amounts were to be given to any individual school. In Sub-section (4) it was said that the grant should be distributed by the Department after consulting with the governing body or the association. If the association was to decide the proportion to be given to individual schools, he did not quite see the meaning of the words in the present sub-section, as he did not understand how the Department was to exercise a discretion in the matter if it had to obey the dictates of the association. On the other hand, if the Department were to have a discretion, he failed to see what the functions of the association were to be. If, however, the Committee had had from the Government any definition of what a necessitous school was he would probably not have moved the Amendment. It must be obvious to the Committee that it was necessary to have some kind of definition or explanation of that term.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
contended that the words "and amounts" must be governed by the words "for the purpose," and the purpose expressed in the 1669 clause was that of helping necessitous schools. He would ask the Vice President or the First Lord of the Treasury to explain how it came to be necessary that the Department should have any discretion at all in fixing the amount to be given to necessitous schools.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
called attention to what he considered a serious contradiction in the Bill. In this subsection the Department was given, what seemed to him, a very proper discretion to distribute the grant in proportion to the necessities of the schools, and there was no limitation placed on that discretion. But in a later portion of the clause a very serious limitation was placed on the discretion of the Department, a limitation which prevented them from discriminating between association and association. He would like to know whether the Department would have an absolute discretion between school and school all over the country, or whether they would be compelled to give without any discretion, 5s. per head to all associations without reference to the question whether the schools in one association were more necessitous than the schools in another.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he understood the question of the hon. Member who had just sat down, but he did not understand the Amendment. There would be no discretion in the Department as between association and association; that was to say, they would have to give 5s. per scholar to every association in respect of all the schools in the association. The hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan would, he thought, see that nothing was to be gained by omitting the words.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
thought that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was not very clear. It was obvious that gross inequality would be created between district and district as well as between denomination and denomination.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
again pressed for an explanation as to the meaning of the words, and contended that there would not be much danger if they were omitted from the clause.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The meaning is that the Education Department is to settle the amount to be given to the schools.
§ MR. PAULTON
asked whether the words "and amounts" related to the amount to be paid to the schools or the associations?
§ Question put, "That the words 'and amounts' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 260; Noes, 100.—(Division List, No. 72.)
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
rose to move an Amendment, notice of which did rot appear on the Paper—[Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh!"]—namely, in Sub-section (2) to omit the words "as the Department think best," in order to insert instead thereof the words "as provided by scheme to be formulated by the Department, and laid before Parliament." The words in the Bill to which he objected were perfectly inconsistent with the 3rd and 4th sub-sections. The 2nd sub-section provided that the grantshall be distributed by the Education Deprartment to such Voluntary Schools, and in such manner and amounts as the Department think best.This gave absolute discretion to the Department as to the manner and amount in distribution, but the next sub-section limited the authority just given, and declared that as between association and association there should be absolutely no discretion at all. As a matter of order he submitted that either the 3rd sub-section was out of order, or these words were out of order. He did not, however, press that, but contended, as matter of argument, the words were inconsistent because so far from the Department having absolute power to distribute as it might think best, the 3rd sub-section provided that each association was to receive the full amount granted, on the basis of 5s. for every child attending the schools, thus taking away all the discretion of the Department as between one association and another. Then the 4th sub-section modified and limited the authority of the Department as between one school and another, for the scheme which would determine the amount each school was to 1671 receive was to be prepared not by the Department but by the association. If the phraseology of the 2nd sub-section meant anything it conferred an absolutely despotic authority on the Department in the distribution of the money. It was followed by the 3rd sub-section limiting that authority as between associations, and then the 4th sub-section further cut down the discretion of the Department as between schools. This was to make absolute nonsense of an Act of Parliament. The words he proposed to substitute for the unlimited power to be conferred on the Education Department, provided that the Department should formulate a scheme for the purpose of making the distribution, submit the regulations to the House of Commons, and lay them upon the Table of the House so that the House should have an opportunity of discussing them, if necessary modifying them, and, if not satisfied with them as a whole, of rejecting them. He said that this was the first time such powers had ever been attempted to be conferred on any Government Department. Under the Act of 1870 grants of public money were made to schools for educational purposes, and, although the schools had only to receive the grant on conditions which would have regard to the merit and efficiency of the schools alone, still the House of Commons was so jealous of any power being conferred upon a Government Department with regard to the expenditure of public money, that it insisted on the regulations governing the expenditure of that money being laid on the Table of the House for one month before they came into operation. He said that this precedent ought to be followed in the present case. By Section 97 of the Act of 1870, the conditions required to be fulfilled by an elementary school in order to obtain the annual Parliamentary grant were to be those contained in the Minute of the Education Department in force for the time being. First of all the Section went to the extent of laying down principles with regard to what should be contained in the Minute, and then it provided that no Minute should be deemed to be in force until it had lain for not less than a month on the Table of both Houses of Parliament. He asked the Government why they had departed from that precedent in this particular case? If ever there was a case when such 1672 a precedent should have been rigidly adhered to, it was the present. He said this was a dangerous power to confer upon any Government Department, and it was the first time in the history of Parliament that that course had been adopted. There was another point with regard to the Act of 1870. Section 97 dealt with necessitous schools, and there was a provision that money should be given to necessitous Board Schools. [Cries of "Oh!"] He knew hon. Members opposite did not care to hear much about necessitous Board Schools, and he was not at all surprised to hear them grunting. [Ministerial cries of "Withdraw!"]
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
That is not a Parliamentary expression, and I must call upon the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
asked to be allowed to withdraw the expression.
It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.