§ "(1) For aiding Voluntary Schools there shall be annually paid out of moneys provided by Parliament an aid grant, not exceeding in the aggregate 5s. per scholar for the whole number of scholars in those schools.
§ "(2) The aid grant shall be distributed by the Education Department to such Voluntary Schools and in such manner and amounts as the Department think best for the purpose of helping necessitous schools and increasing their efficiency, due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions.
§ "(3) If associations of schools are constituted in such manner in such areas and with such governing bodies representative of the managers as are approved by the Education Department, there shall be allotted to each association while so approved,
§ "(a) a share of the aid grant to be computed according to the number of scholars in the schools of the association at the rate of 5s. per scholar, or, if the Department fix different rates for town and country schools respectively (which they are hereby empowered to do) then at those rates; and
§ "(b) a corresponding share of any sum which may be available out of the aid grant after distribution has been made to unassociated schools.
§ "(4) The share so allotted to each such association shall be distributed as aforesaid by the Education Department after consulting the governing body of the association, and in accordance with any scheme prepared by that body which the Department for the time being approve.
§ "(5) The Education Department may exclude a school from any share of the aid grant which it might otherwise receive, if, in the opinion of the Department, it unreasonably refuses or fails to join such an association, but the refusal or failure shall not be deemed unreasonable if the majority of the schools in the association belong to a religious denomination to which the school in question does not itself belong.
§ "(6) The Education Department may require as a condition of a school receiving a share of the aid grant, that the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the school shall be annually audited in accordance with the regulations of the Department.308
§ "(7) The decision of the Education Department upon any question relating to the distribution or allotment of the aid grant, including the question whether an association is or is not in conformity with this Act, and whether a school is a town or a country school, shall be final."
Amendment proposed [8th March] in Sub-section (2) to leave out the words "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions," in order to insert the words—
provided that no school shall be so helped the voluntary subscriptions in support of which fall short of the average of the past three years."—(Mr. Lambert.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
said that the principle of Mr. Forster was to stimulate, and not to discourage, local effort. His idea was that of the school expenditure, one-third should be contributed by fees, one-third by local subscriptions, and one-third by the Government grant. The Act of 1870 made an advance on that principle, by making it possible that the Imperial grant should rise to one-half of the expenditure. In 1876 the principle of Voluntary Schools was entirely abandoned, and since then fees had come to be reckoned as voluntary subscriptions. The result had been that subscriptions had fallen in proportion to the expenditure to a great extent. In 1870 they amounted to 62 per cent., and now they had fallen to 26 per cent. of the whole expenditure. In 1870 the Government grant was 38 per cent. of the whole expenditure, and it had risen steadily until now it was 74 per cent. This clause would have a two-fold effect. It would lead to a large decrease in the annual contributions, and in all local effort. The present Archbishop of Canterbury had said:—If the ratio borne by the grant to subscriptions were increased, a very large amount of money would be immediately absorbed in the shrinking of local subscriptions without any effect on education at all.Another effect of the Bill would be a large increase in the number of those Voluntary Schools which were entirely 309 carried on by the aid of the Imperial funds. There ought to be a difference between the amount paid by the State, and the amount necessary for carrying on the schools properly. If the school had for its management a popularly elected body, the difference could be properly made up by the rates. But if the management were entirely private, the managers ought to prove that the school was wanted by the parents, and that they were in touch with local feeling. The difference to which he had alluded ought to be made up by local subscriptions, and the Government ought to put in the more definite words to secure this object. One of the evils of a too highly centralised educational system was, in the first place, a very great waste by the local authority. The fact that the local authority were spending State money and not ratepayers' money would gradually but surely lead them into waste. No supervision by the central authority would prevent this. Again, if they had a too highly centralised system, there must be a certain tyranny on the part of the central authority. It naturally tried to frame rules to guard the trust placed in its hands, and while those rules were doubtless good for the mass, they must press hardly on individual schools, and the Department dare not make relaxations to meet such cases. Voluntary Schools were maintained, not on account of any legal obligation whatsoever, because the State was willing to provide, and did provide, a sufficient education. There were two classes who supported the Voluntary Schools. First, there was the parsimonious class—those who were animated, not by religious zeal, but by fear of the expense which a School Board might entail. Secondly, there were those who wanted something which the State did not supply. They wanted denominational teaching, and they also wanted control of the management. Surely Parliament would not be asking too much if it insisted that there should be some modicum of subscriptions to show that the supporters of Voluntary Schools were ready to make some sacrifice for the faith which they professed. For these and other reasons he supported the Amendment.
MR. R.W.PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said he was one of those who was not un-willing to see the voluntary subscriptions 310 dwindle away to a vanishing point, so that the day might be hastened when sectarian schols would be forced into submitting to some measure of public control. But the Committee had passed those clauses which required them to aid the Voluntary Schools, and so he felt bound to endeavour so to frame the Bill as to insure the revenues being maintained, and therefore he supported the Amendment. They had had a singular exhibition on the Treasury Bench of the facility with which sometimes the Government accepted the advice of their clerical advisers and sometimes rejected it altogether. When they were dealing with federated associations, which was the invention of the Clerical Party, they accepted it with avidity, and apparently dared not suggest the slightest modification but when they came to those provisions now under discussion, which the high authorities of the Church of England had not only distinctly recommended but offered to put in as protective clauses, they rejected in toto the advice given by their clerical advisers. They had had no definitions of any clear nature accepted in connection with the phraseology of the Bill. What was the meaning of the slovenly clause which said "due regard" must be had to the voluntary subscriptions? Was it suggested that the Department might give undue regard to certain schools? They were told yesterday that they need be under no fear of voluntary subscriptions falling away, and the right hon. Gentleman said that was not the effect in 1876. But how was that? It was because in 1876 proper provisions were inserted in the Bill, whereas now they wiped away the 17s. 6d. limit; old therefore removed the stimulus arising from that protection. But twilling could be more confusing to managers of schools than this absolute uncertainty as to the principles on which they were to conduct the finance of their schools. How was the manager of a new school that might be started under this Bill to know how to frame his scheme if there was to be this absolute uncertainty as to income? There was a great deal of uncertainty in other ways about these subscriptions. He knew a case in the county of Kent, where, a few years ago, an American, who was supposed to be wealthy, took the house of a Kentish 311 landed proprietor on agreement, and at once set an example to the parishioners by promising a considerable subscription to the parish school. Due regard was paid to the parish school. "Due regard" was paid to him in the parish magazine, and he was held up as a pattern to the neighbouring farmers who subscribed their shillings and noble landowners who subscribed their pounds. But suddenly, and at night, this American subscriber departed for the Far West; the parish saw him no more, and the school never received the subscription. There was no certainty at all in this source of revenue. They were asked the other day why they thought that, from a public point of view, there should be some guarantee that a fair proportion of the school revenue should come from the Church of England. It was for the reason that these schools were used for a variety of parochial; and church purposes outside the provision of education, and it was reasonable to call upon those for support who derived the chief share of the advantages. It seemed to him on this ground only fair to insist on some proper provision in this extremely misty, nebulous Measure for maintaining a proper proportion of voluntary subscriptions.
MR. T. G. ASHTUN (Beds,) Luton
supported the Amendment, though he did not care for its wording. But if subscriptions to Voluntary Schools were to be maintained at all it would be absolutely essential that some provision of the sort should be inserted. Without some such Amendment in the Bill subscriptions were bound to fall off, and the time would come when they would absolutely disappear. What, then, would be the result? There would be a large number of these so-called Voluntary Schools in the country supported entirely by the taxpayers. That would be well enough for hon. Gentlemen opposite while a Conservative Government was in power; but when there came into office a Government which believed that the taxpayers paying the money ought to have the control, then the grant would be accompanied with local control. But that was not the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were desirous that this should be an Act for the endowment of sectarian education at the expense of the public, and it was very far from their desire to 312 see these schools under public control. Without some such provision it would not be possible to keep up subscriptions, nor would it be fair to expect it. You could not compel subscriptions. You could not decide what proportion of a man's income should be disposed of in charitable donations, and how much of this proportion for educational purposes. Suppose voluntary subscribers turned obdurate, and refused subscriptions? The First Lord of the Treasury drew a picture of two parishes side by side; the one the necessitous school grant would be given, and in the other, where the parishioners were richer and could afford to subscribe, the money would not be given. But suppose the money was not given, what would happen to the schools? The school at once, if the money was not given and the subscriptions were withdrawn, became a necessitous school; and how did it differ from the school in the neighbouring parish? Merely in this, that while in the one case subscribers has been generous in the past, in the other men had been mean and stingy; and it was proposed, because they had been mean and stingy in the past in the one parish and generous in the other, to perpetuate the inequality. There would be School Boards forced on the parishes, which certainly was not the desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Last night the First Lord of the Treasury said he liked to have concrete instances, and he would give one or two from Ids experience. The first was the instance of a school supported by one subscriber. It was not improbable that, after the passing of this Act, this man would say that, as he was a taxpayer, called upon to contribute to this 5s. aid grant, he did not see why he should continue to subscribe to the Voluntary School; and he would be right. He could not be compelled to subscribe; and, as a result, the school would decay, and the alternative would be between giving the grant or setting up a School Board in the parish. In another instance, an excellent school was supported by a voluntary rate, and after the passing of this Act the subscribers might think it was hard that they should be taxed to keep up other schools for which no such rate was voluntarily paid, and they might refuse to continue their subscriptions. How could the grant be refused to the 313 school which thus would be reduced to a necessitous state? While it was impossible, without this provision, to maintain the subscription list, it was proposed to penalise those who had been generous in the past for the advantage of those who had been niggardly. It had taken at long time for the State to accept its proper position in regard to Voluntary Schools, and voluntary subscribers had in the past spent large sums in and maintaining these schools, mid these were the very men now, when the State at last recognised the duty of helping these schools, whom it was proposed to penalise by adding to their subscriptions taxation for the support of other schools. The Government had directly perpetrated a grave injustice on one large body of subscribers—namely, the Board School ratepayers—under this Bill; they, wider this clause, were proposing a still further injustice on subscribers to the schools to which money was proposed to be given under the Bill. It seemed as though the taxpayers were going to be plundered according to the rule of might, instead of being dealt with according, to the rule of right. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said that he himself objected to the words in the clause, "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions," but he did so from an altogether different point of view from that suggested by the hon. Gentlemen on the opposition side of the House. In his opinion the words were somewhat vague. In the old days, when the duty of providing education was discharged almost exclusively by the different religious denominations, the only way of obtaining the necessary funds was by means of voluntary subscriptions. The schools so maintained were called "charity schools, "and those of them that were unendowed were kept up entirely by voluntary or charitable subscriptions. But those days had passed away, and we had now recognised the necessity for compulsory education, and that it was our duty to take care that every child should be properly taught. In these altered circumstances he could not see why we should keep up the idea that charitable subscriptions should remain part and parcel of our educational system. He himself thought that the 314 State should pay the whole cost of the secular education of the country. ["Hear, hear!"from the Opposition Benches.]He could only regret that this Bill did not go to that extent, leaving the cost of providing religious teaching, and of other matters not directly connected with secular teaching, to be defrayed by funds derived film voluntary subscriptions. He thought that the present system of relying upon voluntary subscriptions for meeting the cost of secular education in the denominational schools was all evil one. Where Parliament had imposed other duties, such, for instance, as vaccination, upon State Departments, it was not usual for such departments to accept the acid of voluntary subscriptions in performing them. Then why should such subscriptions be accepted in the matter of education? In the next place he wished to point out that the system of voluntary subscriptions acted very hardly upon the denominational schools in the poorer districts where there were no rich people to find the money for maintaining them in a state of efficiency. Let them take the Roman Catholic schools for instance. It was well known that they suffered great hardships in consequence of the small amount of their voluntary subscriptions; and this was also true of the Church schools in many of the poorer districts, and such schools required as just as much as, if not more than the Roman Catholic schools did. In his opinion, therefore, the keeping up I If the system of voluntary subscriptions as a charitable element of education was altogether wrong, and was indeed injurious to the cause of education. He, however could not support the Amendment, which appeared to him to be altogether wrong ill principle. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down objected to the words in the clause, "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions," but for entirely different reasons from those which animated hon. Members who sat on the Opposition side of the House. He said that the State ought not to require any voluntary subscriptions whatever for the purpose of aiding education.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said that a large portion of the cost of education was defrayed by voluntary subscriptions. When the hon. Gentleman told them that charity should no longer form part and parcel of our system of secular education, was he willing to give a pledge that voluntary bodies should defray the entire cost of religious teaching?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said that in that case the hon. Member was bound to vote for the Amendment before the House.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said that he was afraid that lie must judge for himself how far he ought to go in the matter.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said that the fact was that one-sixth of the cost of education was incurred for religious teaching, and the hon. Member admitted that that cost ought to be defrayed by means of voluntary subscriptions. But surely the hon. Member did not mean that the State was to pay the cost of secular education in denominational schools, without either the ratepayers or the taxpayers or the parents of the children who were compelled to attend them having a voice in the manner in which the money was to be spent, or in the management and control of the schools. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had said that this Amendment involved one of the most important questions that could be raised upon the Bill, namely that voluntary subscriptions should be maintained in order to relieve the State grant from the demands that would otherwise be made upon it. He should like to ask the Law Officers of the Crown to give the House some explanation of what was meant by the words "Due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions." Was there any force in those words? The House had already voted the sum of £620,000 per annum as an additional grant to the Voluntary Schools, and that was equivalent to a capital sum of £20,000,000. The result would be that next year the Voluntary Schools would be in the receipt of grants amounting; to a total sum of £4,000,000 of money, which was to be placed in the hands of the irresponsible managers of these schools for distribution them, without any kind of representation on the management of the ratepayers, the taxpayers, or the parents. In his view this Amendment was an extremely 316 moderate one. It was of the first importance that voluntary subscriptions should be, paid, and that they should be kept up to their present amount, because without them it was impossible that the Voluntary Schools could be maintained in a state of efficiency. If the subscriptions were to fall off it would be the greatest blow that the Voluntary Schools had ever received. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, speaking on the previous night, had said that the grant would relieve the subscriptions. But in that case what would become of thee subscriptions? It appeared to him that this Bill was a complete reversal of the policy of the Act of 1870. ["No!"from theATTORNEY GENERAL.] He hoped that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would get up and deny that that was the ease. In 1870 it was proposed that the income of Voluntary Schools should consist of one-third subscriptions, one-third fees, and one-third grant, and finally a large concession was made to Voluntary Schools, and it was agreed that one-half should be provided by the Government grant and one-half from local sources. These words were used by Mr. Gladstone in the Debates on the Education Bill of 1870:—We shall take care that under no circumstances shall public grants be allowed so to operate as entirely to supply, together with school pence, the sum necessary to support those schools, and that there shall always remain a void which must be filled up by free private contributions, and without which, failing other sources of assistance, those schools could no longer deserve the character of voluntary.This Mr. Gladstone repeated over and over again when the Act of 1876 was under consideration, and Mr. AV. E. Forster, speaking on the seine Act, said:—Hon. Members might say why should there be subscriptions? Simply because if they kept up subscriptions additional money would be raised, and the school would be a better school than it would be without them. What the Committee had to consider was, whether they ought to intrust the management of these schools to persons who really gave nothing but their time… The noble Lord's (Lord Sandon) proposition really meant that any diminution of voluntary zeal should be supplied by a, State grant. Now the Government of 1870 never supposed it to be the duty of Parliament to supplement by a State grant any want of voluntary zeal.… If the result 317 of the rate-supported schools were less voluntary zeal, it was no part of the State to supply the deficiency.For the last 40 years the whole contention of the friends of Voluntary Schools had been that the only claim they had upon the management of their schools was that they supplied a large part of the funds for their maintenance. ["Hear, hear."] He remembered the discussions that took place in 1876, and he could appeal with confidence to men who were in the House at that time. Every Liberal Unionist now in the House, who was in the House at that time, opposed that Bill at every stage, because it increased the grant above the one-half agreed to in 1870. Not only that, there were at least half a dozen Members of the Government who were foremost in their opposition to the Act of 1870, and the present First lord of the Admiralty went so far as to raise a Debate on the Third Reading and declared his intention to divide the House, which lie did, as a protest against any more grants being given to schools not under public control.[Cheers.] Yet out of all these gentlemen there was only one or perhaps two who had been faithful to those pledges. He would like to know how it was that When the Government were anxious to render great service to Voluntary Schools they quoted the views of the elergy, but when they were asked to do anything of this sort, they passed them by. No man had been more consistent on this question than the present Archbishop of Canterbury. ["Hear, hear!"] The Archbishop expressed himself thus on this very point so recently as June 9 of last year:—Churchmen often urge that they have to pay school subscriptions besides, and ask why they should bear this extra burden. And the answer is that it is the price of keening the invaluable privilege of appointing the teachers without any interference. In no other way could they have kept this privilege, and in no other way can they permanently keep it.[Cheers.]In these circumstances he asked why it was that the Government refused to consider this Amendment in any shape or form. There was no other way of maintaining voluntary subscriptions except by fixing some statutory limit. Unless that was done they might be quite sure that these grants instead of going to increase the efficiency of the 318 schools would go to relieve voluntary subscriptions, and the last state of these schools would be worse than the first. ["Hear, hear!"] Voluntary subscriptions had been steadily diminishing from year to year since 1876, and they had been, what was worse, much more fictitious than they were. ["Hear, hear!"] In the present state of the education of the country, of which the Committee had heard very little during these Debates, nothing could be more important than an increase of staff and the improvement of schools. A Return had been published within the last few days, and it showed that in more than half the unions of this country the fourth standard was the standard of total exemption, and that, in many municipal boroughs the same low standard prevailed.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that his remarks were hardly relvant to the Amendment.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Said he was only referring to it in order to show how necessary it was that the subscriptions should be kept up, because if these schools were not efficient and such a low standard continued, they would be giving four millions of money to the continuance of a State of things which was distressful to the country. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that this Bill involved a reversal of policy of the Act of 1870; but he would point out that it provided that the grant should be distributed with a due regard to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that there was no intention to reverse the policy of the Act of 1870, and that the Government were as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman himself could be that the subscriptions should be adequately maintained. In the view of the Government it was essential that the subscriptions should be kept up, and, if possible, in some cases increased. But it was not desirable to lay down on the subject a cast-iron rule such as the Amendment proposed. The more elastic Machinery of the Bill was preferable. The statement that subscriptions to Voluntary Schools were often unreal, supplied an argument against this proposal 319 to adopt as a standard the average of subscriptions for such a period as three years. It was well known that the subscriptions fluctuated very much. A great effort was made in one year and with the amount then raised schools were carried on successfully for the next two or three years, during which the subscriptions were much less. Therefore if the average of the last three years was adopted as the standard, that standard would be sometimes unduly high and sometimes unduly low. [Mr. MUNDELLA: "Take an average of five years then."] Any attempt to set up a cast-iron rule like that proposed must break down. Moreover, such a rule would not meet all the necessities of the case. For example, in a district which was increasing largely in numbers and wealth, it would be perfectly fair to expect that the school subscriptions would increase also, and the Department would be entitled to take that into account.
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD (York)
had hoped that the hon. and learned Member would melee some attempt to define the meaning of the words "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions." But the hon. and learned Member had contented himself with reading out the words. The Committee, however, did not want lessons in reading or pronunciation. [Laughter.]What they did want to hear was the opinion of the. Law Officers of the Crown as to the way in which the Law Courts would interpret these words. The oracles, however, were dumb. [Laughter.]His own view was that the words were absolutely useless, and that if they should ever be quoted in a Court of Law the judges would once more be heard saving that they never elsewhere read such nonsense as they found in Acts of Parliament. What the Opposition were contending for was the maintenance of subscriptions at their present level. That was said by the Government to be the principle of the Bill, but there was nothing in the Measure to insure that that principle would be adhered to. This Amendment, like all its predecessors, had been met by a blank negative. ["Hear, hear!"] He remembered the sufferings of the present Attorney General when a Bill for the reform of Irish municipal government passed through the Grand Committee on taw without amendment. He should never 320 forget his hon. and learned Friend's horror—[laughter]—at this result of what he considered to be a terrible and reckless use of a majority. But the case now before them was a much worse one. He supposed that these Amendments were rejected so that the Government might escape a stage of discussion at a later date. That was not the proper spirit in which to approach Amendments. If the Government objected specially to adopt an average of three years, why should they not suggest some other term?
SIR W. HART DIKE (Kent, Dartford)
said it was true that on the Second Reading he had argued that it would be well to proceed by adopting the method of average. But he had since reconsidered the point, and had come to the conclusion that there would be great difficulties in carrying out any such plan as the Amendment proposed. He was not ashamed to say that he had changed his opinion upon the point.[Laughter and cheers.]When they remembered the uncertain and variable financial position of Voluntary Schools, they would see that grievous hardship must be inflicted in some cases if the hard-and-fast proposal of the hon. Member opposite were established as law. In the case of a sudden withdrawal of his contributions by a large landowner, it would surely be very hard if, before the managers had had time to recover their position, the Department should swoop down upon them and say, "Because you have lost this considerable sum of money you are to be mulcted of the grant." The words in the Bill he interpreted to mean that in no possible case ought the Department to hand over the grant without making due inquiry and having due regard to the state of the subscription list, not on a particular day, nor for a particular year, but during, the time that the school had existed. That was no hard task for the Department. They had a return which showed each year, and month by month, what the subscriptions were; and, having that knowledge, the Department could, if it chose, apply the screw on the managers. It might be said that this principle would operate differently under different Governments, that the same pressure would not be put on schools when a Unionist Government was in power as would be the case when their opponents were in power. 321 But he thought it would work evenly as it affected the Department, because it should be remembered that the Department would be dealing with a single lump sum yearly. The effect of pressure on the Department by necessitous schools would be to lead them on all occasions to make the most of this sum, and to induce them to bring pressure to bear in the case of any school where the subscriptions were not adequate. It was constantly being urged that subscriptions were dwindling year by year, and that the actual subscriptions paid per child were not the same to-day as in 1870. But hon. Members should take the gross amount paid. The gross sum paid by subscribers to Voluntary Schools in 1875 was£673,000; in 1895 it was £834,000.[Cheers.]If the Amendment was carried it would in many instances inflict grievous injury on Voluntary Schools.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said that many hon. Members would be disposed to think that the first opinion of the right hon. Gentleman was more satisfactory than his present opinion. Who ever heard that the words of any particular statute should be put under the guidance of any particular Department? [The ATTORNEY GENERAI:"Constantly."]The right hon. Gentleman said that the words "due regard" meant "due regard after due inquiry." That, at any rate, was some news. But they asked the question of the Government, "What do you mean by due regard?" Supposing the subscriptions had gone up or down; if they hail gone up the schools would not need so much money, and if they had gone down they did not deserve as much. The Solicitor General's version of the words was that in certain circumstances they would insist on the subscriptions being raised. If that was the case, then was "maintenance" the right word, where it meant, not maintenance, but the raising of voluntary subscriptions? How could they maintain voluntary subscriptions in schools where there were no subscriptions at all? There were over 1,000 of these schools; what, then, was the construction placed by the Government on those words with reference to those schools, or with reference to schools not yet in existence, but which they were going to assist? They knew what voluntary subscriptions meant. They were the price paid by certain monopolists for 322 teaching their religious creed under the pretence of teaching education. There were 3,797 schools in which the average subscription was under 5s. Some words ought to be introduced providing that where the subscriptions up to now amount to less than 5s., three years should be given to those schools to raise them up to 5s. per head. That was a fair and equitable scheme. There were two classes of subscribers whom the Bill would relieve—the poor clergymen and the Roman Catholics. It would inflict a great hardship on the taxpayers to make them pay taxes in order to relieve either necessitous clergymen or Roman Catholics, or any other necessitous class of people, while Voluntary Schools were under private control and management.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
intervenced in the Debate because he did not think the particular point of view from which he regarded the Amendment had been set before the Committee in any of the speeches. He agreed with many of the remarks of the hon. Member for Islington, but the case he stated ought, he thought, to be stated very much more strongly. The hon. Member said he wished to see the charity element removed from education. He should say he wished to see blackmailing, removed from education—the element of using the religious convictions of part of the community as a means of extorting money. What, after all, was the voluntary system? He thought if they were not accustomed to it and did not know all its incidents so well, they should be more shocked at it than they were. The State said to a certain number of its members that they were persons belonging to a religious faith, that they attached the greatest possible importance to those beliefs, that they were anxious to extend their benefits to other people and to children who, through no fault of their own, and would be deprived of a religious education such as their parents would desire. "Well," said the State,since you are more religious and more unselfish than your neighbours you must pay for your eccentricity. You must pay because you cannot bear that the children of poor people are to be deprived of all you consider most valuable, and, it you do not pay, contemplate with all the tranquillity your conscience will enable you the religious belief of these children left to the chance mercy of a School Board or 323 the accidental beliefs of a particular teacher, and pay inure liberally in aid of our educational system.That appeared to be a true statement of the effect of the attitude of the State towards voluntary subscribers, and when they had regard to the poverty of many of the subscribers and the immense wealth of the State, it was not merely unjust in itself, but also in the highest degree shameful to the country which carried it out. ["Hear, hear! "] It might be said that if he thought the subscriptions were so unjust he ought to vote against the words relating to them remaining in the Bill, but he proposed not to do so for a very obvious and simple reason. The aid grant in the Bill was so inadequate to the needs of the Voluntary Schools that, even with the whole aid that subscribers now gave, and would, he hoped, continue to give in future, the schools would not be in a perfectly satisfactory position or in one of security. It followed, therefore, that if he voted for the excision of these words as to subscriptions from the Bill he should be aiding in destroying some of the resources on which Voluntary Schools must rely. It had always been the point of view of Churchmen that, great as were the grievances of voluntary subscribers, those grievances were a secondary matter compared with the welfare of the schools. Religious education was indeed being held to the ransom of the State. But it had always been accounted a work of piety to contribute to the ransom of a captive. It was far better that subscribers should go on for a little time longer suffering the injustices they endured than that the schools and the religious education dependent upon them should run any danger whatever, and therefore he proposed to vote against the Amendment. ["Hear, hear! "] He did not share the opinion that the provision in the Bill could be used for the benefit of voluntary subscribers or that it ought to be so used. He did not think it ought to be so used, because that would endanger the interests of the schools, and he did not think it could be so used, because the existing pressure was so great that, with all the help the schools would get they would have more than enough to do. ["Hear, hear! "] The pressure which had already put them in great danger would continue to force 324 them to collect all the money they were able out of voluntary subscriptions. The First Lord of the Treasury thought Voluntary Schools would cease to exist if voluntary subscriptions ceased. That did not appear to him easily reconciled with what the right hon. Gentleman said in the earlier stages of the Bill—namely, that the denominational principle was so strong that the country would never acquiesce in its extinction.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I never said denominational schools would cease to exist; I said Voluntary Schools.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
agreed it was true Voluntary Schools would cease to exist if voluntary support were withdrawn, though that was not a matter which any Churchman would regard with any regret whatever. They had more than enough to do with their money without subsidising the State to pay its educational expenditure. ["Hear, hear!"] He should rejoice if the voluntary system came to an end at once, so long as the denominational system was preserved.[Opposition cheers.] He was confident they were not very far off that result, and he acquiesced, therefore, all the more cheerfully in the decision the Committee was bound to come to. ["Hear, hear! "]
§ MR. JOHN BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)
supported the Amendment, which he said was very much on the same lines as one he had on the Paper, except that he proposed five years as the period to lie taken instead of three. He contended that the definition of the words "due regard" was one which was open to a very large amount of doubt, and he asked the Solicitor General to give them a definition in some legal terms which could be understood. There was apparently no intention on the part of the Government to abolish voluntary subscriptions, and why then should there be any objection to some kind of definition as to the form in which they should continue, so as to insure that voluntary subscriptions should go on? It was quite clear that the feeling in the country was one of alarm as to what would be the consequences if this Act came into operation at once. There would be difficulty when it was found that the amounts to which they were entitled would vary 325 as between different schools, there being no power to control the associations which would have to recommend what the amount should be. Schools having high subscriptions at the present time would compare themselves with other schools in the same neighbourhood having very low subscriptions. The former school would know that the reason they had high subscriptions was because they took an interest in the school, which was well managed, under good control, and, therefore, obtained grants and subscriptions in aid for successful work. But they would now learn that if they allowed the school would know that the reason they had high subscriptions was because they took an interest in the them to obtain contributions from the new grant to Voluntary Schools. If the Education Department was in consequence to give more where the subscriptions fell off and less where the subscriptions rose, it was necessary it should have an average on which to base its opinion. He hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would consider the suggestions now made for the disposal of the money to be granted under the Bill. To snatch divisions and apply the Closure might assist the supporters of the Bill in a Parliamentary sense, but it was not good government for the country.
§ MR. EMERSON BAINBRIDGE (Lincoln, Gainsborough)
stated that he was wishful to bring before the notice of the Leader of the House an illustration which had a very important bearing upon this important Amendment. Nearly every hon. Member in the House who was connected with industrial undertakings was in the position, like himself, of being a considerable subscriber to Voluntary Schools. In his own case he was a supporter of nine Voluntary Schools, and when the time arrived for the appropriation of the money in this Bill, he would be a claimant for the aid grant of 5s. per child, or (in view of the rejection of the Amendment for the exclusion of the word "necessitous" 10s. per child, which was the probable amount per child provided by this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] When he had received this amount of aid—and not till then—he would, like many other subscribers, responding to the ordinary instincts of human nature, be much 326 disposed not to withdraw, but to reduce his voluntary subscription, say, 10 or per cent. It was because this Amendment would have the effect of preventing him and others from having the power to reduce such voluntary subscription, excepting at the risk of losing the aid grant, that he would support the Amendment. The clause, as it stood, was vague and ineffective, and he hoped the Government would see their way to make it clear and definite. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, Rotherham)
reminded the Committee that the average grant to Voluntary Schools was being increased, and the First Lord of the Treasury was in favour of voluntary subscriptions being kept up. Should there not be, as there formerly was,a quid pro quofor the increased grant from the Imperial Exchequer? The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich looked upon the keeping up of voluntary subscriptions as doubtful with reference to its ultimate advantage to denominational schools. He treated voluntary subscriptions not as a charity element in the support of schools, but as a blackmail element, and he considered those who were making, voluntary contributions were treated in a way that was in the highest degree harmful to the country. That was not the view of the bulk of the leaders of the Anglican Church. The Bishop of Salisbury held a totally different view. If five hours' religious instruction were given per week during a master's attendance of 30 hours, the Bishop suggested the extra cost of religious teaching should be regarded as equivalent to one-sixth of the master's salary, and that this extra cost should be borne by the Voluntary Schools. He himself asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether there was not some method by which what all appeared to desire could be carried out without grave injustice? It might be provided that, in all schools where the subscription was at present above 5s. per head, that at least should be maintained, and in all schools where that sum had not been reached the aid grant should be decreased. Everybody seemed to desire that a certain amount of voluntary subscription, apart from money put into buildings and the like, should be a condition of the receipt of the aid grant. There were a good many schools where the subscriptions hardly averaged 1s. per child including all the 327 various sources of contribution. If the Education Department, in a case of that kind, provided that within a reasonable time the subscriptions should come up to 5s., as a condition of receiving the aid grant, he thought it would only be reasonable. He asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether by some moderate Amendment more might not be done than the vague words in the Bill would accomplish to realise the desire so many had in view.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he had given a great deal of thought to the question, and he held distinctly that there were cases in which it would, from one reason or another, be impossible to expect an increase or perpetual maintenance of existing subscriptions. In view of this, he did not think the introduction of rigid words would meet the necessities of the case. He thought the words he had chosen were, on the whole, the best suited to meet those necessities, and he hoped the, Committee would adhere to them.
§ MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
said the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich showed there was a distinct line of cleavage on this subject among the supporters of the Government. Both the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Islington had frankly expressed the opinion that the State should exact nothing from subscribers for the maintenance of Voluntary Schools. He was glad they had been so candid, because their speeches furnished them on the Opposition side of the House with additional reasons why the Amendment should be pressed. On the other hand, the First Lord of the Treasury on Monday, and the Solicitor General to-day, had distinctly declared that they thought it essential that voluntary subscriptions should be maintained, and even increased. If the Government held that view, let this Bill be so framed that the Education Department would be strengthened in the efforts they would have to make to give effect to that principle. Besides the 1,061 schools where there were no subscriptions whatever, there were 674 schools where the average rate of subscription was only 1s. per child per annum. There would be two cardinal difficulties when this Bill became law—the question of the necessitous schools, and that of the amount of their subscriptions. The 328 head of the Education Department would have to face the entire Roman Catholic Church, and those who were represented by the hon. Members for Islington and Greenwich, and probably a larger number of individuals who would be ready to find every excuse for, at any rate, reducing the amount of their subscriptions. He wished to strengthen the hands of the Education Department. They were told that it was absolutely impossible for Parliament to settle these questions; how, then, could the Department settle them? He was in favour of the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions, because they represented interest and influence. If the result of their legislation was that voluntary subscriptions ceased, the result would be that they would have the one-man system of management in an intensified form. In the interests of education and of justice, the principle of this Amendment ought, in some form or other, to be embodied in the Bill.
§ Several hon. Members rose to continue the discussion, when
§ Question put, "That the. Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 283; Noes, 131.—(Division List, No. 85.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 285; Noes, 130.—(Division List, No. 86.)
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
moved in Sub-section (2) after the word "subscriptions" to insert the words "paid bonâ fide by private individuals. "He said that the Amendment raised a new point—what were the subscriptions to which due regard was to be paid? There was a pious hope in the Committee that the "private" subscriptions would be continued, but whenever voluntary subscriptions had been spoken of, the term was found to include other things besides private subscriptions—some that the Committee would desire to include, and some that it would not desire to include in the contributions to which 329 "due regard" was to be find. There was no desire to cut off these other sources income, but they should not be included in this connection. Endowments, the gifts of public departments and the receipts for letting school rooms ought not rank with private subscriptions, or with a voluntary rate. The Amendment which he moved had been suggested by the managers of the best Voluntary Schools in his own constituency. They desired that in those schools where no subscriptions were collected, a serious effort should be made ill the future. He had the accounts of various schools which he could show to hon. Members. In one case the amount received by the school from various departments of the Government, including the Parliamentary grants, the Science and Art Department's grant, and a gift from the commissioners of Woods and Forests, amounted to £286 a year, and the income from all other sources varied from £13 to £14 1s. a year. Yet that school was able to pay £45 to a capital account in a single year. In another school the Government Departments found over 1422 a year, and all other sources of income amounted to £15 odd a year. There were no subscriptions and no voluntary rate. In another case, the Departments contributed £418 a year, £10 was received from charity, and all other sources of income produced £4 in one year, and in another year nothing at all. If unguarded words about "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions" were put into the Bill, all these extraneous forms of income might be included. He knew a case where the managers of a Voluntary School had informed the friends that in future they hoped not to have to make any further application. He begged to move.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed. Whether a distinction ought to be drawn between private subscriptions and subscriptions from public bodies or not, it was certainly desirable that both classes of subscriptions should be maintained; and he did not see why a distinction should be drawn. The right hon. Gentleman had mentioned the case of a school which received a contribution from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Probably that was because the Commissioners were 330 the principal owners in the district, tuna he should not like to see any words in an Act of Parliament which prevented such contributions. But the right hon. Gentleman's words would go much further, and prevent railway companies and colleges from subscribing to Voluntary Schools, to which a serious injury might thus be done.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said that the difficulty again was one of definition. What did the term "subscription" cover? Would it cover endowments? The public subscriptions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred would not be affected by the Amendment.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said that he did not think the word "subscription" could include endowments.
§ MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
pointed out that the Amendment could not possibly prevent any public body from subscribing. It was only a question of whether regard was to be had to such subscriptions in calculating the grant. When the Education Department were having "due regard" to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions, what were they to have in their mind as the meaning of "voluntary subscriptions?" No provision was made as to the exercise of that "due regard." All that this Amendment asked was that at any rate they should know what they meant by the use of the terms they had, already sanctioned. They were not yet quite clear what "voluntary subscriptions" did mean. For some purposes endowments were now held to be voluntary subscriptions, and he imagined that under this Measure endowments would still be held to be voluntary subscriptions. That was to say, the Education Department would, in looking at the condition of a school, only inquire if it had got sources of revenue outside the Parliamentary funds, and if it had got sources of revenue outside Parliamentary funds in the shape of endowments, the Education Department would not feel incline to allow this Parliamentary grant. That would be a nationalisation of parochial charities, which he thought they were entitled to object to. Unless they had a clear definition of what was the meaning of "voluntary subscriptions "they would never know what it was they were voting for or what it was they were asking the 331 Education Department to undertake. The Amendment thoroughly satisfied that reasonable definition and he should support it.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said that far from simplifying the Bill, this Amendment would introduce another element of doubt and difficulty, because they would have to say what was a "private individual" in this Bill. Why should schools which received subscriptions from colleges or a public body be placed in a different class to schools which received subscriptions from private individuals?
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he could not support the Amendment in its present form. It would not only shut out the subscriptions of public bodies, but what was a private individual? Should they not take a subscription from a public individual, if there was a public individual. Some definition was required. At the end of the Bill they had a definition of a Voluntary School, but there was no definition of what was a voluntary subscription. He thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite might put a stop to the discussion on the Amendment if he would promise that at the end of the Bill there should be inserted a definition of what a voluntary subscription was. This seemed to him all the more necessary because the associations might make grants in particular cases, and this might make the matter even more complicated than it was at present.
§ MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said he could not support the Amendment. He was no friend to Voluntary Schools, but it seemed to hint that, it they had Voluntary Schools at all, they should recognise the help given by various societies and public bodies to those schools just as much as they recognised the help given by individuals.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said there was considerable difficulty about the wording of this Amendment. The First Lord of the Treasury asked whether amounts which were sources of income to these Voluntary Schools, and which could not in any degree or sense he classed as voluntary subscriptions, were to be taken into account by the Government in making this grant. 332 So far as he could see, in the tables of the Department, everything was allowed to be classed under the head of voluntary subscriptions except the Government grant. What his right hon. Friend complained of was that the figures which were here set down in these tables as "endowments" and "miscellaneous receipts," should be regarded by the Education Department as voluntary subscriptions, and would be included in this term "voluntary subscriptions" which had to be had regard to acording to the Bill. He confessed he did not like the wording of the Amendment.
§ SIR C. DILKE
said the Amendment did not stand in the form of which he gave notice, and he was quite conscious that it was very difficult to frame an Amendment to carry out the intention which he desired to carry out. He thought perhaps it would be better to introduce it by way of a provision at the end of Sub-section 6, and he would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment (at the present occasion.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLL1T (Islington, S.)
moved, in Sub-section (2), after the word "subscriptions" to insert the words, "as a, reason for granting such aid." He said that, while many of them were not disposed to go the full length of the suggestion that securities ought to be taken for the maintenance of these voluntary subscriptions, they thought there should at any rate be some general indication in the Bill that the maintenance of subscriptions was to be regarded as the intention of the Bill. There was no such distinct indication in the Measure at present. The words "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions "might be held either to favour the maintenance of those subscriptions, or they might be justifiably construed by the Education Department as indicating that due regard should be had to the maintenance of those subscriptions as a reason for giving help to the necessitous schools. In other words, if the subscriptions were large, there was no need for the aid grant; if, on the other hand, the voluntary subscriptions failed, then the grant was more greatly needed than before. He thought the latter would be a more reasonable construction, 333 and probably the one which any Department might be advised to take. The phrase in the section was ambiguous. He did not think the duty of Parliament was fulfilled if it allowed a vague clause to be arbitrarily construed by a Department without some clear indication of what the intention of Parliament was. If one effect of the Bill should be to materially decrease the subscriptions, he did not hesitate to say that the Bill would ultimately lead to the deterioration and absorption of the Voluntary Schools.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I do not quite follow how the hon. Member makes his line of remark relevant to the present Amendment. He seems to be discussing the last Amendment. I should like the hon. Member to explain what the meaning of his Amendment is.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
said the words of the clause, as they stood, might be construed by the Department in either of two ways; "due regard" might be if the subscriptions were increased, or if they fell off The clause should give a clear, not a vague, indication of the will of Parliament.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
If that is so, the hon. Member is seeking to upset the decision to which the Committee has just come.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
submitted that, unless some stimulus was contained in the Bill that Parliament intended that one condition should be the maintenance of the subscriptions, then the permanence of the Voluntary Schools, instead of being promoted, would be endangered.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said that, although a school was necessitous, it might be a reason for withholding the grant if the subscriptions were improperly withheld, and that was perfectly well indicated by the words "due regard." The hon. Member's Amendment instead of making the clause clearer made it less clear. The maintenance of voluntary subscriptions was not a reason for giving the aid grant; it was the fact of the school being a necessitous school.
§ Leave being refused on the Opposition side of the House,334
§ The Committee divided on the Question, "That those words be there inserted." Ayes, 84; Noes, 205.—(Division List, No. 87.)
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The second Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Griffith), towards the top of page 19 of the Amendment Paper, is in order, but it ought to come at the end of the clause.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
That is the same as the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Monmouthshire, winch has been disposed of.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
submitted most respectfully that there had been discussion as to the definition of "necessitous."
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
If the Amendment is intended to be a definition of the word "necessitous" it clearly ought to come in the definition clause. The first and third Amendments of the hon. Member for Anglesey, standing on the top of page 20, are in order, but ought to come at the end of the clause.
§ MR. ACLAND
May I ask you, Sir, where the second Amendment of the hon. Member for Anglesey is out of order?
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I think it is beyond the scope the Bill altogether. The Amendment of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing) is in order, but it ought to come up as a new, clause. The next Amendment in order is at the top of page 22, Mr. Lloyd-George.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
asked whether the Chairman would give the reason which induced him to rule out of order the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for West Carmarthen (Mr. Lloyd Morgan), which provided that no school should receive the aid grant where the education was not free.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The hon. Member will remember that the subject was discussed on Clause 1, page 1, line 5, where an hon. Member for one of the divisions of Lincolnshire moved to insert the words, "in 335 which no charge for school fees is made." He will remember that I several times pointed out it was not the proper place to discuss the Amendment, or, indeed, to move it. What the hon. Member intended was to move it on the Second sub-section, but as he moved it on, the first sub-section and took a division the Committee are precluded from re-opening the question. ["Hear, hear! "]
§ MR. ACLAND
respectfully pointed out that when he was speaking on the question of fee-paying schools, and how far they were really free or not, the Chairman called him to order, and he desisted at once, because he understood they would be allowed to have an opportunity of discussing whether the new grant ought to be distributed to a school which was a free school or not.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
That was not my fault, but the fault of the hon. Member, who chose to move his Amendment in the wrong place.
§ MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said that the purpose of the Amendment which stood in his name was, in respect to associations, to suggest the procedure which was adopted in the case of the Act of 1870. He submitted that if he could not move the Amendment until the third sub-section was dealt with he would be precluded from, suggesting an alternative scheme.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
If the hon. Member's Amendment is intended to provide an alternative to the scheme of the Government, it is quite clear the Government are entitled to have their scheme placed before the Committee first.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Order, order! It is extremely unusual to cross-examine the Chairman in the way that is now being done.[Ministerial cheers.]I think it will not be my duty to reply any further. I may say, however, that I have taken a great deal of trouble—["hear, hear! "]—to understand the Amendments, and I do not think it would conduce to the order of business if I were cross-examined as to my reasons.[Cheers.]
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon) Boroughs
moved to leave out Sub-section 336 (3). He said his Amendment challenged directly the principle of the proposal of the Government as to associations and the machinery connected with them. This was the first time a proposal of this kind had been incorporated in a Government Bill and made compulsory, and the issue raised by the Amendment was not whether they would permit Voluntary Schools to form associations for the purpose of increasing their educational efficiency, but whether they were going to bring pressure to bear on the schools to combine or associate. He maintained that the proposition of the Government was unfair to Voluntary Schools themselves. It was unfair to the better-class Voluntary Schools, to the schools the subscribers to which were doing their duty, because a certain amount of partiality and favouritism was shown to the schools the subscribers to which grossly neglected their duty. Let them take the cases of Liverpool, Manchester, and Preston. In Liverpool there were 48 Church schools, but only 12 of them received the average amount of subscriptions paid throughout the country. This was how the matter stood. According to the scheme of the Bill the poor schools which required support would not get it, and the schools which were well off would get support. It was true that the Government might say that was a matter for the Education Department, but after all, no Government Department could exercise the control that was necessary in this case. And here he came to the point of the Roman Catholic Schools. In Liverpool they represented a much poorer class of the population than in Manchester, and the Roman Catholics subscribed far more liberally to their schools than Churchmen. They were in fact going to penalise those who were doing their work well for the benefit of those who neglected to do their work well. The fact was that Lord Peurhyn was making £1,800 per annum out of his unselfishness, and that was the case of ninny other rich landowners. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, in referring to this subject, the other day, said that the question was whether they were going to punish those landowners who had done their duty for the benefit of those landowners who had not done their duty. He could not see how these associations were going to 337 work as between one parish and another, in the cases of necessitous schools. If the income of a school was inadequate to its expenditure was it a necessitous school? For instance, in one parish they might have schools where the subscriptions amounted to 30s. per child, whilst in the next parish there might be a school where the subscriptions only amounted to 2s. per child. Were they going to give 10s. per head of this grant to the poorer school and nothing to the richer school. In such a case the House might depend upon it that the subscriptions would fall off, which would work badly for the Voluntary Schools as a whole, and consequently for the interests of the children who were being educated in them. He should like to know upon what principle the representation of the schools upon the associations was to be based—was it to be based upon the number of children in each school or upon the population of the district. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury should take the House into his confidence upon this subject. In his view, the money ought to be distributed in accordance with the discretion of the Education Department, and, therefore, it was that he begged to move the Amendment that stood upon the Paper in his name.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ MR. McKENNA
said that he had not any such rooted objection to the principle of associations as was entertained by certain members of the clerical party whose speeches he had read. He did not see why there should be greater objection to the existence of an irresponsible and non-representative association than there was to irresponsible and non-representative managers. As a matter of fact the associations were to be more responsible than the school managers from whose ranks they were to be formed. Of the principle of association, therefore, he did not complain. Indeed, were the Bill exactly in the form in which the Solicitor General described it as being in his speech on the Second Reading, he would not be able to oppose the formation of associations. The hon. and learned Gentleman said,All the Bill had to do was to encourage the formation of associations by saying that the schools forming them should have two privileges.338 If that really were the limit he would not object. But there was a very serious objection—namely, the financial objection hinted at by the hon. Member for East Mayo in the course of the speech of the Vice President of the Council on the Second Reading. The hon. Member for East Mayo asked,Is there no power in the Bill to discriminate between associations in proportion to the necessities of the schools forming them?and the right hon. Gentleman replied,No, there is not, and therefore the larger the association the more likely you are to get the average level. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman can suggest any improvement by which such a power of discrimination could be exercised, but I do not see any possibility of it.The framers of the Bill proposed to Bill proposed schools that refrained from joining associations, and the Department had to administer the funds as they thought best for the purpose of helping necessitous schools. With those words before them it was essential that the Education Department should lay down for itself some outline as to what they meant by the word "necessitous." On a communication of that outline to the various associations they could inform the Department of the number of schools they had in their body and which could reasonably be described as necessitous. The Education Department would know at once the amount of money to be allotted to a particular association, and if the allotment was not made by the association on the number of necessitous schools in the association a serious danger might result. When the association was formed there would be a strong inducement to the managers of that association to invite rich schools which otherwise would not receive a grant direct from the Department to join the association merely for the purpose of becoming 5s. grant earners. The inducement to the managers to offer a bribe of some portion of the 5s, to a rich school in order to induce it to join the association would be overwhelming. The Vice President had alluded to the fact that the associations must be limited in their area in order to give personal knowledge of management to the schools under their control. Taking the Diocesan area they found that the wealth or the poverty of the Voluntary Schools varied 339 very considerably in the different areas. In the southern areas they would have in the associations a number of more or less well-to-do schools; in the north they would have almost exclusively poor schools; yet, under the association system, the schools of the north and south, would earn the same amount, with the result that they would be putting unnecessary money into the southern lap, while the north would have to be satisfied with its dole of 5s. per head. Again, the Roman Catholic schools were almost entirely in School Board areas, and in their case it was a question of bonâ fide conscience in every instance, while the same could not be said for the Church of England. [Cries of "Why not?"] The Roman Catholic would not send his child to a Board School at all; the Roman Catholics had made sacrifices out of all proportion to the sacrifices made by the Church of England. But the Church of England parent did not make it a matter of conscience whether or not he should send his child to a Board School or to a Voluntary School. Besides, the Roman Catholic schools were all poor schools without exception, and any association which was created of Roman Catholic schools would in all probability be composed of one body. In that case they would have all these poor Roman Catholic schools in an association, without any rich schools among them, and whose only function would be that of earning a subscription for the association. The result would be that the Roman Catholic schools would never earn anything more than the 5s. He, therefore, supported the Amendment for three reasons. First of all, the Government offered a bribe to association managers to waste their money on the rich schools in order to induce them to come into the associations; second, there was no distinction made between the well-to-do and comparatively poor associations in the amount of money they were to receive; third, in the case of Roman Catholic schools, upon which so much argument had been based, they could not receive anything but the most moderate allowance from the system of associations.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said that, though great differences of opinion had been developed in the course of the Debate, he thought there would be general agreement on this point—that the task which had been imposed 340 on the Education Department by the provisions of the Bill was a most difficult and burdensome one. On that side of the House they would be glad to welcome any device or machinery by which that hard-working, Department could be aided in performing properly this extremely difficult task. They had constituted the Education Department the final arbiter in the distribution of the aid grant. Surely they all saw the necessity of constituting between the Education Department on the one hand and the £14 or £15 schools among which this aid grant had been distributed, some link of a local character which might fulfil the homely duties of a buffer. He did not think they ought to throw the whole responsibility of discriminating between the needs of this large number of schools either on the Department itself or its inspectors. Personally, he confessed a preference for a proposal such as that which was included in the Bill of last year for a local authority between the Education Department and the schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cheer that observation now, but it was due to their vehement opposition to the principle of the Bill of last year that there was no longer the option of having a local authority. ["Hear, hear!"] In the absence of a local authority representing the taxpayers he welcomed a body like an association which would represent the various Voluntary Schools proposed to be aided. There was nothing new in the idea of association. In his own diocese there had been constituted a very useful and successful association of Church day schools on the basis of rural deaneries, managers of schools in each rural deanery appointing a certain body of representatives, who met frequently to help each other's schools, who discussed each other's needs, and from their number they selected an executive committee for the whole diocese. It had proved an extremely good plan in the interest of Voluntary Schools. Whether the area of association under the Bill be that of the diocese or smaller, such as the archdeaconry—he was considering the matter from the Church schools' point of view—he thought mattered comparatively little. It was left elastic under the scheme, and so long as it was of sufficien size to include a considerable number of schools to allow of proper distri- 341 bution among schools of varying degrees of necessity, it mattered little it a million, a half-million, or a quarter of a million of people were included in it. These associations had been spoken of gas compulsory associations, and for this reason the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham had tried to draw a strong distinction between associations under the Bill and existing associations of Church schools. But though called compulsory, they were so in a very modified sense. No associations need be formed under the Bill, and no association would be formed if the prevailing opinion of the bodies having interest in Voluntary Schools was against it. All the Bill said was, that if associations were formed, if a majority of Voluntary Schools formed an association, then power would be given to the Education Department to require the minority of the schools to enter into associations belonging to their own denominations. It was very desirable that some such power should exist if associations were to be satisfactory in their working, otherwise a minority of rich schools night stand out, in the certainty or good hope of receiving the whole of the 5s., while the poor schools were collected into association. Only to that extent was association compulsory. If the proposal were to force schools of all denominations into association against the will of the managers, or the great body of managers and subscribers, that would be a proposal not acceptable to the representatives of voluntary Schools as a whole, but that was not the proposal in the Bill; and when the Committee came to discuss the compulsory power it would be found to be of a very different character. He could see no reason why association should I not work perfectly well for the object of the Bill. What would be done actually would be, that schools in the association would be called upon to submit to the governing body their balance sheets, including their expenditure, the salaries paid to teachers, and, on the other hand, a statement of resources; and, if they were well advised, they would include a statement of the rateable value of the parish to which the school belonged, for consideration of the possible resources. There would be no difficulty, for persons 342 with local knowledge of the varying circumstances of schools, in assessing the variety of resources, and in drawing up some simple rules for distribution; but this would be extremely difficult if left entirely to the officers of a central Department. Call into play, side by side with the officials of the Department, and subordinate to that Department, this local organisation, and, as a rule, it would be constituted on a local basis, and local knowledge would aid the enlightened and impartial judgment of the central Department. It had been said that the setting up of a new organisation would be objectionable, on the score of expense, but there would be no necessity for any great expenditure. Voluntary action would be called into play, and men would be found ready to perform these, as they performed other local duties. It was to be observed that not a penny of the aid grant would go to the association; till would go straight to the schools. There was no reason to anticipate that there would be a large number of appeals to the Education Department, because managers of schools would know that their cases had been fully and adequately discussed by their neighbours and equals, and they would be more likely to accept decisions thus arrived at with contentment than the decisions of a central and distant Department. For these reasons he considered that these associations would be of double benefit to the Department and to the schools; and he looked upon the proposal as the nucleus of a movement which would have great influence on the position of isolated events of the voluntary system. There was no reason why a portion of the grant should not be devoted to the needs of small village schools, and a special fund might be formed for the supply of special visiting teachers to go round and instruct the pupils in groups of schools. The production of accounts by managers would tend to check any abuses that exist; and he had very little doubt that, if the aid grant were properly administered through the associations, it would stimulate, rather that discourage, subscriptions, would encourage collective action where at present action was isolated, and would strengthen ill future that voluntary system he desired to see continuous and flourishing. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
said the hon. Member had explained away much of the action of the proposed machinery, had shown how it might or might not be put into operation, and he said that, in many cases, it would not be availed of. If that should be so, then the administration would come back to the central office in London, bringing an increase of work for which the Department had been admitted to be unequal. This important Amendment had been moved in a most lucid and able speech by the hon. Member for Carnarvon, and he was surprised that no reply had been made by a Member of the Government. Certainly no Member of the Government could deny that it was an unprecedented thing in legislation to hand over a large sum of public money to irresponsible bodies, which, as the hon. Member had just said, might or might not come into existence, and the composition of which was as vet unknown. If these bodies were elected by the people he would have some confidence in their capacity and freedom from prejudice in administration. It was admitted that the governing bodies of these associated schools would be composed of gentlemen who had spent nearly the whole of their lives in rural districts, not many of them having had experience of the administration of large sums of public money. It was a Member of the Conservative Party who referred to the reverend gentlemen, who would no doubt have much influence in the administration of these large sums of money, as bigots. He did not adopt that language by any means, and he only quoted it to show the views held by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House. And yet it was in the names of these people they were going to intrust this annual grant of between £600,000 and £700,000—a sum which hon. Members opposite said would assuredly grow as the years went by. The case against the machinery, therefore, was all the stronger. He had stated that there was no precedent for handing over public money of this large amount to a body who would be responsible only to themselves, who would be responsible only to themselves, who would be responsible only to themselves, who would form their own construction, who would, in the main, elect themselves and control the whole of the business of the respective districts they would form their associations for. 344 Durng the last ten years the House had created vast machinery for the administration of the county and village affairs of this country—namely, by the Acts of 1888 and 1894. But in the case of both those Acts the local authorities so created were in the main dealing with their own rates and their own domestic affairs, and when, subsequently, the £700,000 was distributed among the County Councils for the promotion of technical education, they received instructions from the central Government as to the object for which this money was to be expended. If the Government could see their way to have two-thirds of the governing bodies set up by this Bill, elected in the ordinary way by the people of the respective divisions, then a good deal of the objection to the machinery would be removed. At present nobody seemed able to explain the machinery. One hon. Member said it need not come into existence at once, the Government representatives said it would, but they did not quite know how, when, or by whom the authorities would be constituted. Surely the two Law Officers of the Crown, whom he saw opposite, must recognise that it was a very large order to expect Members of the Opposition side of the House to agree to a proposal which was absolutely indefinite, and which gave them no assurance whatever as to what these bodies were to be composed of. He felt certain, if they had the Attorney General and Solicitor General on his side of the House, they would so riddle and pulverise this Bill in half an hour that there would not be a shred of it left to be Debated. He would vote for any proposal that was designed to make this machinery representative, intelligent, and easy to be understood, and if this could not be accomplished, then he would vote for utterly destroying what the last speaker on the other side of the House had admitted to be partly, at any rate, a, sham and a delusion—["No, no!"]—because, he said, it need not come into existence.
§ MR. CHANNING
desired to say a few words on this Amendment, as he had put one on the Paper to the same effect. The only question really was—whether the machinery adumbrated by this extraordinary Bill was a machinery likely to carry out the object in view? His hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, had said that he would prefer something like 345 the machinery of the Bill of last year, which provided a local authority for the distribution of the aid grant. The hon. Gentleman complained that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House were the cause of this local authority not existing now, and said that, therefore, they ought to swallow at the point of the bayonet this system of association, as the only substitute for the local government which they had rejected. The hon. Member for Somersetshire rightly insisted on the localisation of this administrative control. But the reason the Opposition resisted the Government proposals of last year was because they were not local representative proposals. The whole effect of the Bill of last year would have been to hand over the management of the schools, not to the sort of authority which his hon. Friend contemplated, but to private managers. The whole question was whether this matter of the classification of schools, and the application of the principle of a differential grant was to be accomplished well or badly. He thought there ought to be differential grants, but there should be proper machinery to carry that principle into effect. He ventured to say that the principle of association—and compulsory association—contained in the Bill, was being very largely repudiated by the clergy of the country—especially those in the rural districts and almost universally by the teachers. During the last few days mangers of deputations of Voluntary School teachers from their respective districts had waited upon hon. Members, and the tone of those deputations had been absolutely unanimous against this form of federation himself, in a previous Debate, had quoted t he opinion of Canon Barker, and he might quote the opinion also of Bury, of Northamptonshire, who wrote to him privately a short time ago, saying that the clergy were practically mad not to accept the principle of representative management and of something like local authority in the district to manage the schools, insisting, as a quid pro quo, in some form of religious teaching, accompanying that surrender of their schools to local authority. A most interesting, inquiry had been initiated in the county of Worcester by one of the county papers, and he would refer to the opinions of the clergy which had been thus elicited, with 346 respect to the question of association. Many of the clergy expressed the gravest apprehension as to the difficulty of forming these associations. One of them remarked that the Education Department was far more impartial than any such body as that proposed could be. Another was of opinion that the federation of schools would engender local strifes and bickerings. A third said that it would work very unevenly, produce much friction, and lead to endless contention and discontent. A fourth clergyman asked why the distribution of the aid grant could not be left to the Education Department in the same way as the rest of the grant, and inquiredWhat is the object of making this invidious distinction? Favouritism is intended by this proposal. This is manifest.Another comment made by several of the clergy, including Canon Coventry, was, that the association would lead to expensive charges for printing, advertisements, secretary, and official staff for inspections, examinations, and so on, so that the 5s. grant would be very seriously lessened before it reached the schools, whilst one clergyman complained that there was likely to be favouritism told unfair treatment of one school as opposed to another. There had been a most important contribution to this discussion in a report drawn up by the Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education. This paper deserves the careful consideration of every Member of the House. It stated that these associations, if formed at all, should be formed in such a way that they would not exclude the possibility of definite local educational authorities being ultimately formed. That was a very important point to consider in view of Amendments which might be offered later as to the constitution and limits of these associations another very important criticism offered was that the areas were altogether too large. That opinion hail been expressed by another educational authority, an important ecclesiastic, Canon Nunn. The Lincoln Board insisted that the area should not be larger than the Poor Law Union, and that these associations would be only useful if local. He would like to draw special atttention to a paragraph in their communication as to the possible formation of associations in the area of the 347 present Poor Law Unions. It stated that "the ideal association would be one composed of all classes of elementary schools, Board and Voluntary, within the area and under one governing body. But the country was not yet ripe for this, although we were nearer to it than many supposed." That was a suggestion somewhat on the lines of the Bill of last year, but on wiser and more educational lines. The second form of association insisted upon an association of all Voluntary Schools within the area, irrespective of denomination; and the third form was an association according to denomination, Church Schools with Church Schools, Wesleyan with Wesleyan, and so on. This proposal was not popular with the clergy, not with the teachers of the country. The National Union of Elementary Teachers had passed a resolution regretting the introduction in the Bill of compulsory federation of schools "Believing it to be unnecessary, calculated to diminish local effort on the part of individual schools, and likely to create a class of officials inimical to true educational elasticity." The proposal of the Bill Was also unworkable. The argument which had most weight in this House against last year's Bill was the absolute impossibility from difficulties of time and space for the County Committees suggested in that Bill to do their work. If that was true of the County Committees it would bea fortioritrue of a Diocesan Board dealing with perhaps a million of population spread over two or three counties. In an interesting article inThe Time(evidently contributed by one of our great educational experts) the Diocesan Boards of Education were taken more or less as the type of the association which would be formed. But what was the cost of working such Boards? Last year the income of the London Diocesan Board of Education was £4,413, and the amount distributed as grants to necessitous schools was not more than Salaries and cost of inspection amounted to £1,104, and other items brought up the cost of administration to over £2,000. It was a serious question how the associations were to be worked. Did the Government expect these important duties of the Education Department to be handed over to nondescript bodies, who, all over the country, would be com- 348 pelled to raise considerable sums by voluntary subscription sufficient to pay the heavy expenses of the associations, and providing the staff to work them effectively and efficiently? The income of the Church Education Society of Northamptonshire was last year £520. Of that, only £40 was given in grants to necessitous schools, or £1 out of every ten, the whole of the rest went in expenditure for salaries, inspection of schools, cost of examinations, etc. Therefore it would be seen that the Government were imposing a serious task on the proposed associations, a task he did not think could be effectively carried out, and the Government provided no rational machinery by which they could expect reasonable results to be obtained. He thought the common sense of the House and the country would reject the machinery proposed. It was essentially unrepresentative as well as unworkable machinery. The spirit which underlay the Bill was that of withdrawing a large sphere of popular education from the control of the representatives of the people, and from the whole some influence of public opinion. In parishes with which they were familiar, local opinion had a strong effect in dealing with the evils of the "one man" system, but there could be no control of local public opinion over these mysterious bodies now proposed to be set up. They had no representative character whatever, and their proceedings could not be checked in any way by any existing body. These associations would be absolutely irresponsible, they would act in secret, they would not regard local opinion, but would be the instruments of a gigantic sacerdotal organisation to carry out a policy which one of his clerical friends had rightly characterised as a deliberate attempt to unProtestantise the English people, and place the control of the education of the children under the absolute power of the extremists of the High Church Party.[Ministerial cries of "No !"] The action of our voluntary associations, whether he took their effect in preserving Voluntary Schools and preventing their extinction, their action towards teachers, or the amount they had distributed from central funds towards preserving our Voluntary Schools, had been of great importance as regarded our voluntary and 349 denominational system. As the Bill was framed the associations had no control of any sort over the local management of our Voluntary and denominational Schools, and the only power they had was to advise the Education Department in connection with the distribution of the 5s. grant. The whole responsibility for that distribution, it was perfectly clear, rested entirely with the Education Department. He would ask hon. Members to look at Sub-section (4), which showed that the Department would be responsible to that House in reference to the distribution of this 5s. grant exactly to the same extent that it was at present in regard to every parliamentary grant or fee grant, which extended at present to about 30s. a head. Did any hon. Gentleman opposite really believe that these funds were to be distributed the will of an irresponsible body over which Parliament had no direct control? Directly the contrary was stated in the Bill, and these federations and associations were only advisory and consultative bodies. As soon as it was understood that these associations could not interfere with local management, and were only consultative bodies, all objection to these proposals would be done away with. As to compulsion, surely these bodies could not be called compulsory in the ordinary sense of the term. There was no compulsion whatever exercised on any school to enter into any of these associations. [An HON. MEMBER: "Section 5."] Section 5 said that if a particular school acted unreasonably in not entering into a federation or association it might lose the benefit of the 5s. grant. But was it compulsion because they were asked not to act unreasonably? ["Hear, hear!"] These associations were in the true sense of the term voluntary. As regarded the areas over which these associations were to be formed, they might be formed either on the diocesan basis or that of archdeaconries, in connection with the area of local Government, or the areas of the Inspectors of the Education Department. To his mind the Education Department was the responsible body in this case. To his mind the best areas would be the areas now formed by Inspectors under the Education Department; but that was a matter of detail. Apart from association by area, this Bill would allow association by denomination, and he 350 thought that was a most important element in the proposal of the Government. The Wesleyan Schools might, for instance, form one association and the Roman Catholic Schools another. Objection had also been raised to the proposal of the Bill on the score of expense. He did not see why there should be any great expense thrown on those associations. To a great extent they would have discharged the duties put upon them when they had advised the Education Department on the distribution of the grant among the necessitous Voluntary Schools, and they would have a stable system which was unlikely to be altered from time to time.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
We have now reached a portion of the Bill which I confess has most interested me, and has filled me with greater curiosity than any other part of the Measure. I had hoped for assistance in regard to it subject on which I feel myself entirely uninformed, from the able speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but I regret to say he has given me very little light indeed. ["Hear, hear!"] He has told me a great many things that these voluntary associations are not to do, but he has not explained to me, at all events in full, what they are going to do. First of all he says there is no compulsion. We do not mean to say that there is any blockade—[Laughter]—or anything of that sort about the Measure; but we have all read about auri sacra fames—that famine which compels people to do it great many things which are better left [Laughter.]The hon. Member has told us that the main object of these associations is to distribute a large sum of money, he believes there will be very little difficulty about that. I can conceive of associations, having common objects, getting on very well together. But what I want to know is whether the object for which these gentlemen will meet is a common object upon which they are all agreed. I should think it is exactly the reverse of the case.[Cheers.] The gentlemen who meet will, each of them, have as his object the getting as touch of this money as he can for his own objects and allowing as little as possible of it to go to any one else.[Laughter and cheers.]That, I say, will be the main effort of these voluntary associations. 351 First of all, they are going to fight for this money. It will be like the battle we read of in our childish days of "The lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown"—the silver crown—[laughter]—and whether the lion or the unicorn will beat the other "all round the town" will be the question which will have to be decided in the arena of these voluntary associations.[Cheers and laughter.] I have endeavoured to picture to myself what these voluntary associations will do when they are gathered together. I cannot really expect any great light upon the matter either from the First Lord of the Treasury or from the Solicitor General, because they have no practical experience of what I may call English school life. They come from a country which is notoriously indifferent to pecuniary considerations. [Laughter.] I am not certain that the question whether one man or one school was to get more or less money than another would ever influence the disinterested soul of Scotchman. [Laughter.] But in England we are not all so constituted. [Laughter.] Then what is it that these associations will do when they are gathered together? We have heard from that rare authority the Vice President of the Council that he thinks population of a million would be the most convenient unit for an association. I do not know how much "parson-power" a population of a million would yield. [Laughter.] I suppose it would differ in different parts of the country. The collected clergy from a million of population in the part of the country in which I live would be gathered from a large and extensive region, whereas in that part of the country which the First, Lord represents it would be a little more condensed. Well, these rectors, vicars, and archdeacons from a million population would be gathered together, and according to the number of children in that population they would have a certain sum to scramble for. It might be in one district £5,000, in another district £10,000, and in the huge district which the First Lord represents it might be £50,000. Now I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that from my experience of English parsons, when they have got £20,000 or £50,000 to scramble for, there will be differences of opinion among 352 them as to how much each should acquire. Even the rectors and even the archdeacons are human. I do not go higher—[laughter] and ascribe natural frailty to Deans and Bishops, but there will only be a few of these superior spirits in this collection. And there will be managers more ecclesiastically minded, perhaps, even than the clergy themselves. What would be the first operation which would occur in this voluntary association? As I understand, the clergymen would not have any pecuniary interest in the matter, because, as the right hon. Gentleman told us last night, the clergy are not to subscribe to anything except the Thirty-nine Articles.[Cheers and laughter.] That is to be their spiritual contribution to the denominational schools. [Laughter.] But the association being met, I want the right hon. Gentleman to explain to us exactly its practical operation, because all this was passed over by the hon. and learned Member for Stroud. The Amendment is a very proper one to raise this question, because I believe that the word we are discussing is the word "if." [Laughter and cheers.] If these managers from this million of population are gathered together, what is the first thing they will do? It is quite plain that the parson of Whiteacre will come forward and say, "Here is £20,000. What am I to have? I am necessitous." [Laughter.] Of course, he will say that first of all. [Renewed laughter.] "I am the most necessitous parson taming all the parsons present, and I ought to have the largest sum. Five shillings per child is nothing. I ought to have 15s., 20s., or 25s. per head of the scholars. I have got, it is true, a great landowner in my neighbourhood. But he has large mortgages; he is subject to agricultural distress; and he gives only £5 to the school." And what will the other few hundred managers say to him? [Cheers.] They will say, If this parson gets 20s., what will be left for us? The fund will be diminished so greatly." Therefore, an amendment will be proposed—an amendment that the words "twenty shillings" do not stand part of the Resolution.[Laughter and cheers.] In fact, everyone will propose an amendment cutting down this 20s. It will be in the interests of everyone present. Even the managers of Voluntary Schools, not 353 from sordid motives, but from denominational zeal, will desire to get the largest sum for their own schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Each man will find it necessary to make his own case good. Another man will claim 20s., or even more, and the others will turn upon him and say, "You are very well off. You have not a necessitous peer as the owner of the land in your parish; you have a prosperous and munificent brewer." [Much laughter and cheers.] "He gives you £50, and as he becomes more prosperous he becomes more denominational." [Laughter and cheers.] "He is a great subscriber, and we cannot give you 20s. You are the happy man who owns the brewer, and we are thrown back on the necessitious peer." [Laughter.] This is the sort of discussion which will be the foundation of the scheme of the Government—[cheers]—which is to advise the Vice President of the Committee of Council. [Laughter.] This is the sagacious scheme Of distribution propounded by the Government. It is it very ingenious scheme, until you come to test it by the facts, which everyone who has real acquaintance with the subject knows must be the practical operation of this scheme.[Cheers.] I should like to know where this extraordinary scheme had its origin.[Cheers.]Tell me where is fancy bred— Or in the heart, or in the head?I think this scheme must have been bred in the heart. I am sure it has not been bred in the head. [Laughter and cheers] I cannot think that the Vice President of the Council will rise and say that he was the author of this plan. [Laughter.] that this is the process that is to be gone through. I do not know how long it will take, because it is obvious that no parson who wishes to do his duty to his parish and his school will fail to advance the largest possible claim, and to produce all the circumstances which may sustain that claim. And he will stand in the presence of his sworn foes, whose interest it will be to cut down the claim as far as possible. Then there come in the people better off; and they are to bring their 5s. into hotch-patch. But they will feel, every one of them, that they ought to have that 5s., or more. I never heard of any manager who did not think he wanted all the money he could get. ["Hear, hear!"] The wealthiest school 354 will want its 5s.; and the whole of this congregation will be like what one has seen sometimes in a flock of rooks, where the whole flock is combined against a sick rook.[Laughter and cheers.] I must say that this seems to me one of the most extraordinary schemes that I ever heard of. Everybody has seen what happens, too often, among relations when a wealthy relative had died. It does not produce domestic harmony always, but to gather together an enormous unnumbered body of ecclesiastics from a population of a million, and to set down before them £50,000 to be scrambled for is the most extraordinary scheme for the harmonious distribution of public money among volunteers I have ever heard of. ["Hear, hear!"] And yet this is the project of what are called voluntary associations. I am afraid that when the discussion is over there will be a good deal that is not voluntary in the transaction. [Laughter.] And before they come to their decision. I think there must be at least one division upon each school, with many amendments. Whether they will use the closure as freely as it is employed in this House—[cheers]—I cannot say; but at all events the discussion will be of a protracted character before they arrive at a conclusion on the scheme which is to enlighten time Vice President of the Committee of Council. [Laughter.] I have observed, with much regret, during these discussions a certain reserve and melancholy in the appearance of the Vice President. [Laughter.] I never understood what was the reason of it, but now I quite understand it is the prospect of this advice which he is to receive from the voluntary associations. [Laughter.] Just picture to yourselves what is to be the function and the office of the Vice President when he receives this scheme. It will be a record of the bickerings and the quarrels of all these ecclesiastics as to the sum which each is to receive. Every one of them, I imagine, will appeal to him to redress the injustice of which he has been the victim. [Laughter.] Then the Vice President, who is to have, as the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite tells him, an absolute power to remould this scheme, is to encounter the ecclesiastics from a population of a million and to re-judge their acts, to redress their injustice, and to give to those who have not 355 received what they ought to have had, and to take away from those who have got what they ought not to have had. [Laughter.] This is to be the function of the Vice President in regard to those advisers who have been quarrelling over the £50,000. I do not wonder that, in prospect of that, the Vice President appears thoughtful. [Loud laughter.] It has often been said of advice that it is a thing that is constantly offered but which is seldom taken; and I should think, probably, with that maxim in his mind, the Vice President might pluck up his spirits—[Laughter.]—and consider that the best thing he could do with the schemes framed by the voluntary associations would be to throw them into the waste paper basket and not endeavour to examine their construction or compose the quarrels of those who have laid the schemes before him. But I would really ask, is this a practical question? They are not the ideals which the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite has said they are. He has told us they are not going to govern the schools. We know that very well. He has told us that, in the ordinary sense of the word, there is no compulsion. We know that very well. They have, he said, only to distribute the money. But what sort of an "only" is that? ["Hear, hear!"] It is like the "if" we have to consider in the Amendment. Applying, to it ordinary intelligence and some experience of the questions, and the districts, and the habits of the people who will have to deal with this question, unless some very different explanation can be given than any yet offered, I must pronounce it to be the most preposterous and absurd scheme that was ever submitted to the judgment of the House of Commons.[Cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
, who was received with Ministerial cheers, said: Perhaps I am not a wholly impartial critic of the Debates we have now beat conducting for four or five nights in Committee, but we have wanted hither-to, in my judgment, two things—wisdom and liveliness. I do not say the right hon. Gentleman opposite, has contributed the wisdom—[laughter and cheers.]—will do hint the justice to say that he has given us an ample dose of liveliness, which makes up for many hours of somewhat weary discussion. Before I 356 meet the special arguments or the special jokes—[laughter]—for joke, and argument were so indistinguishable that I hardly know which, to call them—[laughter]—of the right hon. Gentleman, let me remind the Committee in one sentence what the problem is we have got to discuss in this sub-section. The Committee has already decided that a sum, amounting, in the present year to about £600,000 odd, is to be given to the Voluntary Schools. It has also decided that that money is not to be given to Voluntary Schools at a fixed rate of 5s. a head. It has left undetermined the machinery by which that distribution is to take place, and no one has suggested, as far as I know, that there is open to our choice any machinery except the alternative machinery of the Department unassisted by associations or the Department assisted by associations. ["Hear, hear!"] That is, at the stage at which we have arrived, the solitary problem we have to determine. The only alternative that lies before us is whether the Department, in allocating this £600,000 odd among the Voluntary Schools of the country, is to be assisted by the associations to be formed under the Bill, or is it to be left absolutely without any assistance to deal with that difficult problem alone? I think, put in that way—and that is a fair way of putting it—the Committee will come to the conclusion we have come to, that there is no alternative, but, as far as possible to call into existence associations by which the difficulties of the distribution may be met. I do not deny that the difficulty is a great difficulty. I do not deny that there may be special difficulties connected with associations. All I say is that, on the, broad issue which I venture to say is now before the Committee, there can be no doubt that theprimâa facieverdict of the Committee will be that the associations should be called into existence, if it be possible to call them into existence, in order to assist the Department in the difficult task which the Bill, as already passed, lays upon them. ["Hear, hear!"] Haying thus presented the problem to the Committee, let me consider the objections which the right hon. Gentleman brought to the scheme which we have suggested. Ho starts with a preliminary presumption against the Government, because he says that my hon. and learned Friend 357 on my right and myself, who have been very deeply concerned with the drafting and the defence of the Bill, are both Scotchmen, and are, therefore, as he would imply, incapable of appreciating those niceties of clerical life in England, of which the right hon. Gentleman has been so happy an exponent. [Laughter.] I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that it is his good fortune to move habitually during the recess in clerical circles. [Laughter.] I gather that when he retires from the labours of this House, he goes down to his rural retreat, and there meets in happy daily converse the managers of Voluntary Schools. [Laughter.] discusses their difficulties with them, and I have no doubt largely subscribes to their schools—[laughter]—and is thoroughly acquainted with their modes of thought, and the views they entertain upon the problem of the maintenance of the Voluntary Schools. I do not doubt the right hon. Gentleman's superior knowledge of English clerical life, but I cannot help thinking, though perhaps from a greater distance and under greater disadvantages, that I have formed at least as just, as I certainly have formed a far more favourable, estimate of the clergy and the power of co-operation among the clergy in all districts of England, whether rural or urban.[Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman, I believe, both by residence and by heredity, is more qualified to have an opinion upon this subject than I can pretend to have, and yet I think that, perhaps because I look at the matter in a more sympathetic spirit, my judgment is not less to be trusted than his upon that question. The right hon. Gentleman has drawn a picture of how one of these associations is to be occupied in connection with the distribution of the sum allocated to it under this Bill. It was not a flattering picture. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have called into existence a picture of—should I be violating the rules of order, Mr. Lowther, if I said 100 Harcourts?—[laughter]—all in holy orders—[more laughter]—and all scrambling—to use his own classic phrase—fur a share of this 5s. grant for their own pet particular school.[Ironical cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman is an ornament of an assembly which no doubt does, I will not say scramble, but it does engage in an internecine warfare among its various Members, is divided into a Government 358 and Opposition, and the Opposition at all events are very ready to bring forward any argument they can in favour of the policy they pursue. But why are we to assume, why ought we to assume, that when you bring together a set of gentlemen all concerned in keeping up the standard of Voluntary Education, all equally desirous to maintain the present system of education, that they are all going to scramble for these 5s. which are given by the State, squabbling like so many fishwives for the amount they can drag into their own net? [Cheers.] I may be sanguine, but for my part I draw a picture of a very different assemblage from that which the right hon. Gentleman has called forth from his too lively imagination. I do not disguise from the Committee, and at no stage have I attempted to disguise, that there are difficulties and dangers connected With this scheme of association. I have never concealed the fact that public spirit, patriotism, some desire for a common object as opposed to an individual and personal gain, are requisite if these associations are to work for education in general and for voluntary education in particular. But is there anything either in the character of the clergy of the Church of England or in the experience which we have of certain relatively small, and insignificant associations which have already been called into existence to help the Voluntary Schools—is there anything in either set of considerations which may lead us to believe that these associations are to be composed of isolated units which squabble for their own interests, each absolutely dead to the interests of the whole? I do not believe, and never will believe until experience demonstrates it to me, that the associations which will be, I trust, called into existence will be so selfish, so degraded, and, above all, so short-sighted a body as the right hon. Gentleman has represented. On the contrary, I think all the experience we have had—and that experience, though not large, is not insignificant—leads me to believe that there will be no material difficulty either in bringing these associations into existence or in inducing them when they have, been brought into existence to work, not each for the benefit of the particular representative or separate individual concerned, but for the common benefit of the great object for which the 359 association itself is called into being. ["Hear, hear !"] After all, in this country, are we not familiar with public assemblies of every sort, kind, and description, from the Houses of Parliament to county councils, town councils, parish councils, Poor Law Boards, and all the rest of it? Are we unduly proud of ourselves when we say it is a characteristic of Englishmen, when they come together, that they are capable of working together for a common and public object? [Cheers.] Are the clergy, and the clergy alone in this country, absolutely incapable of this public spirit and of joining in common effort for a common end? [Cheers.] I do not for one moment credit it, and, though I will not attempt to minimise either the difficulties or the responsibilities which will be thrown upon those associations by this Bill, I will say that I believe they will be found equal to those difficulties and responsibilities. [Cheers.] I believe that one of the great motives of the opposition to this clause of the Bill is that hon. Gentlemen know that, if these associations be worked as we think and believe they will be worked, nothing will strengthen the Voluntary School system of this country more, nothing will tend to put it on a more permanent and more stable basis, than the fact that the managers of Voluntary Schools can meet together, can discuss their common object, and can co-operate together to meet, by the help of the money given, the needs which they respectively feel. [Cheers.] These are reasons which, in my judgment, make this sub-section of Clause (1) even a more valuable part of the Bill to the Voluntary Schools than the 5s. grant, and I boldly make my confession to the Committee, subject, of course, to all the scorn and criticism that will be heaped upon me if this Bill is a failure, that at this moment my hopes for the good effects of this Measure are more largely founded upon this sub-section dealing with associations, than upon any other part of the Bill which we have the honour to present to the Committee. [Loud cheers.]
§ MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
sincerely trusted that the hopes and anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman would be fulfilled, but he doubted if that would be the case. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to certain associations that had already been in existence, but he had not specified them. Those 360 associations had been of two kinds. The first kind was such as that which was found in a southern diocese, where a good many thousand pounds had been raised by the donations of laymen and placed in the hands of the Council of the diocese; those subscriptions had been distributed to the necessitous schools; they had been distributed wisely, and no friction had arisen. The absence of friction, however, was due to the fact that each individual school manager, on behalf of each individual school child, had no claim and had not had a 5s. piece per child in view. Under this Bill, for every child in a Voluntary School a 5s. piece per year would be due, and, therefore, the manager, on behalf of each child, would feel, in the first place, that he must get for each child that 5s. piece, and would object most naturally to transfer that 5s. piece to any other school under any other manager; and, therefore, the example which the right hon. Gentleman gave of associations working well was not one in point. The second class of school associations had been of a smaller and less beneficial character. It had been an association, not of generous donors to the funds of schools, but of certain poor schools, and from those associations the wealthy schools had held aloof, for the reason that they had not cared to have their incomes pooled with the incomes of the smaller schools. It had been pointed out that there would be no compulsion to associate. Unless a school did associate, however, it would lose all chance of the 5s. piece per child. He imagined, therefore, that this plan was a bribe held out to all schools to associate, and as many schools as possible would be forced to associate. He perceived that this grant was a first step towards the association of schools for all purposes, and the pooling of all grants to the schools. There would be diocesan federations and diocesan councils, and they would say to every school, "You must consent to associate for the purpose of all grants; if you do not associate we will not give you any special grant at all. "If a school refused to be associate, not merely for the purpose of the 5s. grant, but of all other grants, then the 5s. grant would be withheld from it. [Cries of "Divide!"] If an 361 enemy of the Voluntary Schools had proposed this scheme he would not have wondered at it. The clergymen in all parts of the country were protesting against it—["Divide!"]—Voluntary School teachers in all parts of the country were protesting against it. [Renewed cries of"Divide!"] Those who knew the facts were opposed to the proposal, and those who supported the proposal would have cause to regret it in time to come. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. LOUGH
said the Leader of the House really based his support of these associations on two arguments. He said that the representatives of the different schools would have a common object. Perhaps someone who believed in the Bill would show them where the common object came in. [Cries of "Divide!"] The right hon. Gentleman asked the Leader of the Opposition why he assumed there would be a scramble. The reason was that there would be something to scramble for. The associations had to prepare schemes which, no doubt, in nine cases out of ten, would be adopted without any correction by the Education Department. The right hon. Gentleman was not whole-hearted in support of the scheme, for he acknowledged he saw grave difficulties and dangers. If this scheme were surrounded by grave difficulties and dangers, the House of Commons ought not to lightly accept it. He thought his best friends would think that he had gone too far in support of these associations. He said that there would be no complaint of anyone to come into them. That was a rather bold statement. He thought that the hon. and learned Member was put up because he was a little more courageous than others. He had to interpret this word unreasonably. This was one of the dangerous points of the Bill which they had been criticising all along. The hon. Member had explained to them that the associations would not control the schools; but what, then, were their functions? He believed that if they were to find out the true genesis of these associations, they must not confine themselves to that Bill, but go back to the Bill of last year. Under the Bill of last year there was an elective principle under the County Council, but under the present Bill the association had no elective principle at all, He should like to have some explana- 362 tion of the position of these associations in London. How would the principle be carried out as to Wesleyan Schools and Catholic Schools? Would the destinies of these schools be committed to the hands of one association?
§ MR. JAMES BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had thrown much light upon the points upon which hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House desired information. The right hon. Gentleman had said nothing as to the area that these associations were to cover, or as to the manner in which the schools were to be represented upon them. The only one point that appeared to be clear in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was, that these associations would be composed of clergymen.
§ MR. BRYCE
said that the right hon. Gentleman could not refer to a single precedent for a sum of money being handed over to an irresponsible body for distribution among its constituents without any check or control being exercised over that distribution. The large sum of £600,000 of public money was to be handed over to a body who would not be responsible for its expenditure to the Legislature of the country. It was all the more important, therefore, that the House should have some idea of what these associations were to be composed. They would have to determine many questions in a, way that he assumed would be in accordance with justice to the different schools. He thought that, in the peculiar circumstances of the case, the House were entitled to an assurance from the Government that these associations would be fully representative in their character, would be composed of the best elements, and would do full justice to the schools among whom this money was to be divided. They had been told that the associations were to be of a diocesan character, and were to be formed upon diocesan lines, for the purpose of administering the money to be provided for technical education. That was a very different thing from the statement that the associations were to represent different areas for the purpose of administering the education grant, and in 363 his view that constituted an additional reason why the rules should be laid upon the Table of the House before they came into operation. It had been said that the diocesan areas were much too large, and he himself should much prefer that the area of the Poor Law Unions should be adopted. Was it certain that the Roman Catholic Schools and the Wesleyan Schools would combine with the Church of England Schools on these associations for their common benefit? If the Education Department were to address itself seriously to the question of the distribution of this grant, he thought that they could discharge the duty better than the associations, which were formed upon denominational lines could do. He suggested to the Commitee, that this was a question which ought not to be decided now. It was not a question which the Education Department ought to be allowed to consider as having been determined for in these Debates. It was a, matter which ought to come before the House when the schemes had been formed and the Department had considered them, and it would be a great misfortune if the Committee were to give a blank cheque to the Department and leave them to constitute associations which might afterwards prove not to be constituted on the best lines. ["Hear, hear!"] That was one point which suggested itself for further consideration, and he would now mention another. The Government hail promised a Bill on Secondary Education, and he hoped that promise would be fulfilled, either this Session or next. [" Hear, hear!"] In that connection there existed at present a great diversity of areas and authorities, and there was a consequent waste of money. A Secondary Education Bill ought to consolidate authorities and areas, and the question of the authorities under this Bill ought to be reserved for further consideration by the House next Session, when the Education Department had had time to prepare schemes. There was one point in which elementary schools very closely touched Secondary Education. The higher elementary schools were practically secondary schools, and it was therefore extremely important that the authority administering elementary schools should, for the future, be subject to the Secondary Education authority. ["Hear, hear!"] There was one other point to which he would like to call the 364 attention of the Committee. It had been represented to him, and he felt bound to say a word or two upon it, there were many Voluntary Schools which had been under the management of energetic men, keenly alive to the importance of improving the education of the country, who had raised their schools to a point of efficiency beyond what was required by the Education Department. These educational reformers were conducting educational experiments of the greatest importance, and they were afraid that the introduction of these associations might hamper them in their work, which they were now carrying on in such an enlightened spirit. ["Hear, hear!"] That, was a thing which he thought the Committee ought to guard against by taking care that, while those associations were, framed on large mid liberal lines, they should not be so powerful as to be able to override and hamper the liberty of individual managers. ["Hear, hear!"] That was a point which, he contended, ought not to be left to the Education Department to determine, but ought to be reserved for further consideration by the House. For the reasons he had given he conceived that the Amendment of his hon. Friend would be a very valuable addition to the Bill, and he would have no hesitation in voting for it. ["Cheers."]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
It appears to me that the issue in this sub-section was an extremely simple one, but there was some danger of its being overladen with a cloud of words from the other side of the House. [Ministerial cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite are most anxious for information as to the intentions and meaning of the Government, and it is extraordinary what a length of time they take in explaining the several matters on which they want information. [Laughter.] I assume their perfect good faith. I assume their real desire to understand the intentions of the Government and their inability to understand the terms of the Bill—[Ministerial cheers and laughter]—and I do not attribute to them the slightest desire to delay a Bill with the main object of which, we have been told again and again, they have the greatest sympathy. I think I can give in a very few words the explanation they desire. 365 The object of the Government is to relieve necessitous schools, and for that purpose a certain amount of money is to be appropriated, and the desire of the Government is that not one single penny of that money shall go to schools which are not necessitous, and that it shall go to those schools winch are necessitous in the proportions necessary to save them from extinction. Considering that you are dealing with a vast number of schools in altogether exceptional and varying circumstances, it will be seen that that is a complicated object to attain, and I defy the wisdom of this House, even the wisdom of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, to devise any statutory provision which will secure that object without giving any discretion to somebody or other. If that is disputed, let some hon. Gentleman propose an Amendment which will secure that which I believe to be the common object of the House—let some hon. Gentleman propose a scheme which will secure in statutory terms and by statutory provisions that only necessitous schools shall get this money and only in the proportions in which they severally require it. I say there is no means of securing that result except by giving discretion to some body to deal with the circumstances of each particular case as they arise. The circumstances vary in each particular case according to the time when they have to be considered if you laid down it rule which would apply fairly to all existing schools, it would be altogether inapplicable in the course of another twelve months, because the circumstances of the schools would have changed. The Government propose to leave the sole discretion with the Education Department. It is an entire mistake, and shows a very slight conception Of the meaning and intention of the Bill, to talk, is the hon. Member for West Islington did, about leaving this power with the Associations. It is left to the Education Department, which has the best means of ascertaining the circumstances of different schools at different times through its inspectors—[Opposition cheers]—through the system which has, on the whole, worked satisfactorily in the distribution of the existing grant. The Leader of the Opposition agrees so far. [Sir W. HARCOURT assented.] Then the Government have thought that even a Government Department, and 366 even the Education Department, may not be perfect that even the Education Department, with its inspectors and its knowledge, cannot be aware of all the facts connected with all the schools with which it has to deal. The Government have thought, therefore, that it would be advantageous to encourage advisory Associations which might lay before the Department facts which, at any rate, it might reasonably take into consideration. That is all the section does. It encourages the formation of Associations which may submit to the Department, to be used or not at its sole discretion, facts and information which otherwise it could not know. In these few circumstances I have explained the object of the clause, and it does not appear to me to justify much further discussion. ["Hear, hear!"]
SIR FRANK LOCK WOOD
I bought the Committee would feel obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his excessively patronising speech—["hear, hear!"]—in reply to a great many Members who had taken the trouble to attend the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman had looked in at about half-past 11. [Mr. J. CHAMBER-LAIN: "Five minutes past."] He was quite ready to concede to the right hon. Gentleman the advantage of the additional 20 minutes; but he thought that short time might have been put to much better use by the right hon. Gentleman, because he did not appear to have derived any real information with regard to the question under discussion. ["Hear, hear!"]The right hon. Gentleman had told them that it was a mere matter of leaving these questions to the discretion of the Education Department. They had not been enlightened, however, on this subject by the responsible Minister of the Department who was present. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
, who was met with some cries of "Divide," wish to explain the grounds upon which I propose to vote. We must assume what has been done already, and take up our position at the point which has been reached by the Committee. It has been decided that a sum of £600,000 is to be distributed among necessitous schools. The only point that now remains to the Committee, according to the Leader of the House, is whether that sum should 367 be distributed at the discretion and according to the means of knowledge of the Education Department, or whether they should be assisted by associations called upon to advise them as to distribution. I admit that this is the exact point which we have reached. But it may well be that the Committee, considering the character of the proposed associations, will hesitate to give to them the power to advise, which will in fact prove much more than a power to advise, and should bear against it, leaving the distribution entirely to the discretion of the Education Department. According to the First Lord of the Treasury that would be a task of insuperable difficulty for the Education Department to overcome; but that is not the line taken by the Secretary for the Colonies, though I believe it to be an actual representation of the case. The effect of these two conclusions would be that, although we have advanced so far as to declare that £600,000 should be distributed among the necessitous schools, we might, on further consideration, arrive at the conclusion that the distribution is impossible, and it must be made on the lines of absolute equality among all the schools that are to benefit. In other words, we would be obliged to contribute the 5s. per scholar to schools all round. That is one of the points now remaining for discussion. If we refuse to accept the proposal of calling these associations into existence, and if, realising the result of that refusal, we should come to the conclusion that the Education Department was unable to carry out the process of distribution, of discrimination, we might at a later stage revert to the question of equal distribution; so that is yet involved in the issue before the Committee. But, for my own part, I am prepared, under certain conditions not immediately arising, to assent to the process recommended by the Government in this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] But I do not disguise from myself that in doing this we are entering on a far-reaching and pregnant proposal. [Cheers.] This is a Bill for the assistance of denominational schools. The 368 House of Commons, reflecting in this the mind of the nation, has arrived at the conclusion that denominational schools have claims for assistance and support. [Cheers.] That has been admitted by hon. Members opposite; and the question conies, in what way should this support, be accorded to denominational schools frankly recognised as such? You propose to call associations into existence which will advise the Education Department. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud, preceding the Secretary for the Colonies, has insisted on the fact that the Education Department will exercise supreme authority and that the discretion will rest with it. Technically that is true; but can any hon. Member suppose that a scheme, having been approved by an association and submitted to the Education Department, will be open to reconsideration in detail? Shall we as Members be solicited by the managers of this or that school to go to the Education Department and press upon it the fact that this or that school has been unjustly treated by the association of which it is a member? The supposition is inconsistent with the ordinary facts and conduct of Parliamentary life. No; we are calling this association into existence, we are recognising denominational education as part of the general education of the future? What will follow? What is involved in this proposition? It is this. Will you allow the Church of England to organise itself, that is the whole question; are you going to allow the Church of England as an educational body, having connection with denominational schools, to organise itself? The proposal of the Government is to allow such a thing to be done, to accept the organisation which may be instituted, and to allow the recommendation of that organisation practically to take the place of the discretion of the Education Department.[Opposition cheers.] I do not shrink from the consequence; I am going to support the consequence on proper conditions, but hon. Members may suppose that nothing short of that is involved in this general realisation of what is the scope and what 369 is intended by the Bill. The noble Lord below me understands that quite well, and it is a thing which all members of the Church will understand and realise. Now, there is no difficulty as to the way in which this scheme would work in regard to one of the denominations spoken of—the Wesleyan denomination. It will probably be referred to the education department of the Wesleyan Conference; and, having regard to the democratic character which on the whole characterises that body, it will very likely happen that the associations called into existence under it will not extend beyond the Wesleyan circuit, or, at most, the county. As to the Roman Catholic body, which is the next, and which may be rightly considered as leading us a further step, I apprehend that there will be no difficulty whatever in the organisation of that body; it is already organised. But I suppose the whole of the funds going to Roman Catholic schools will not be handed over to one central body, but probably to diocesan bodies of that Church. In the same way we limy assume that the body that will be called into existence to facilitate the distribution of those funds allocated to the Church of England schools will be bodies from the diocese. You will have a diocesan body framing the scheme in each diocese for the distribution of the funds. That, if properly conducted, will be part of the inevitable machinery to be called into existence if the Church of England is to be self-governed; it must be called into existence if we recognise denominational education is in the future to be part of the national system of education. It will depend on the character of the organisation in each diocese, and here I come to the condition under which I am prepared to support the scheme. You do not know how these organisations will work, what form they will assume; you cannot tell if the clerical element will predominate, you cannot say if the lay element will be sufficiently represented, or whether there will be provision as to concurrent action of the lay 370 and clerical element; therefore my one safeguard in accepting this proposal as a temporary shift lies in this, the removal from the scheme of that element which puts restraint on any school to come into an organisation; take out the power to force a school into an association In, then you may allow the experiment to work, you may see how it works, you may watch it and judge its effect; schools may go in or come out of the organisation, and the organisation would prove whether it deserved permanent support and would justify itself or fail to do so. ["Hear!"] But the question now before us is, supposing we do not fall back on the principle of equal division per head, the principle before us is no none and no less than this: Are you prepared, in pursuance of the organisation of denominational education, to allow the Church of England to organise itself by dioceses? I ant prepared to try that experiment, but, by way of safeguarding my own position, I propose to support the ultimate proposal to make the Bill temporary in its operation, and to be removed if Parliament desires. Subject to that, and subject to the removal of the compulsory element, I am prepared to support the scheme now before us and to allow the Church to organise its schools.[Cheers.]
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said the Leader of the House had contributed an important speech to the discussions upon the Bill. He had put his views before the Committee in a frank and clear manner, and as to these associations and their effect, he had expressed a confident hope that they would carry out the object for which they were designed. The right hon. Gentleman also uttered a note of warning that if these associations did not carry out the object in the spirit anticipated, the result would be a serious blow to the cause of denominational education. One point should be made clear in reference to these associations and the Education Department. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies said the 371 only power these associations would have would be to submit schemes for approval. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin had clearly shown that their power would be much more than that. There are, under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889, powers given to governing bodies of forming and submitting schemes to the Education Department; but, as hon. Members well knew, the Department never interfered in those schemes unless they contained something contrary to the spirit of the Act or injurious to the interests affected. He could not agree with the Leader of the House in his statement of belief that the clergy of the country were unanimous in favour of these associations. He believed the reverse was the case. He had abundant evidence on that point, but he would not delay the Committee by quoting it. He believed the reason the clergymen of this country, as to class, would not welcome the formation of these associations was, because they considered that they would be dominated, so far as the Church of England associations were concerned, by the Bishops of each diocese. Canon Barker, in a letter to The Times of the 13th February, out this very point, asked for what purpose it was proposed to elect these new bodies? He went on to say that the Education Department had laid down the principle, they were already in possession of the facts as to the schools, and what information, the reverend gentleman asked, could the associations supply them with which would easily be obtained by them from the inspectors, concluding by expressing the opinion that the formation of the associations would lead to no end of friction and difficulties. That was the view of a representative clergyman, wino had taken a great interest in this question, and was devoted to the cause of denominational education. For these reasons he should strongly support the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
VISCOUNT CBANBORNE (Rochester)
desired to ask a simple question arising 372 out of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies, who had said that the association to be created under this clause would be a purely advisory body, which the Education Department would be at liberty to ignore or agree with as they thought He presumed that as long as the scheme was in operation and approved the Department would be bound by it and would not be able to ignore it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
If the scheme is approved by the Department it will, of course, be acted upon so long as that scheme continues to be approved.[opposition laughter.]
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthen, E.)
observed that hon. Members on that side of the House had been twitted by the Secretary of State for the Colonies with their ignorance of the meaning of the words in this clause. Four Gentlemen on the other side had addressed themselves to the question of whether the Education Department or the association was to decide how the money was to be divided. The hon. and leaned Member for the Stroud Division asserted there was no doubt that the meaning of this passage was, that the Education Department alone were the persons who were to decide how the money was to be divided. The next speech on the other side, that of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, was directed to show that the persons who were to have the power of dividing the money were not the Department, but the association only. Then they had the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who threw over the First Lord of the Treasury, because he said the Department were to decide what was to be done with the money, but subject to a little advice from the association. Next they had the right hon. Member for Bodmin, who returned again to the First Lord of the Treasury, and suggested that the persons who had to divide the motley were the association and not the Department. He must say that hon. Members 373 opposite were as ignorant of the meaning of this passage as hon. Members on his side of the House; and he really thought the Committee ought not to divide until they had a little clearer information on the subject. The Secretary for the Colonies could not have read the passages to which he was referring Once they formed an association and was approved by the Education Department, the position was this. The Education Department could not give a single penny piece to anybody. [Cries of "Divide!"] He was quite sure that hon. Members did not understand this. [Laughter.] The words were very clear, "the shares so allotted to each association shall be distributed as aforesaid by the Education Department after they have consulted the governing body," and in accordance with their scheme they could not give a shilling piece themselves or decide to whom it was to go. The association, and that only, would decide how it was to be distributed, and the Education Department handed it over to the association decided upon. On these points the Committee ought to be enlightened from the Treasury Bench before the Division took place.
§ Question put, "That the words 'if associations of schools are constituted' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 279; Noes, 116.—(Division List, No. 88.)
§ And it being Midnight, the Chairman left, the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again To-morrow.