§ "(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.
§ "(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."
*MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthen, W.)
moved in Sub-section (3) after the word "managers," to insert the words "and parents of the scholars using the school and" He wished to have the parents represented on the associations, because he considered the way in which they were constituted under the Bill was most unsatisfactory. Whatever the merits of the clergy might be, they were not advanced educationalists, and their history showed them to be much more anxious to promote the interests of their Church than to forward secular education.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Penrith
asked the hon. Member to explain how the representation of the parents upon the associations would be effected.
*MR. LLOYD MORGAN
replied that that would be a question for the Education Department to arrange. He thought it obvious that the parents ought to be represented on these associations, because, after all, there were no people who could possibly have as much interest in the proper working of these Voluntary Schools as the parents of the children who attended them. It was a serious flaw 685 in the Bill that the class most concerned were utterly neglected in the associations. The Amendment seemed reasonable and was sound in itself.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
thought he might reasonably ask the hon. Gentleman whether he supposed that parents in rural districts were always to be regarded as more advanced educationists than school managers. But he did not wish to deal with the details of the hon. Member's Amendment. It would be sufficient to point out in answer to it, as well as to one or two other proposals of a similar nature, that it was open to two objections of a very diverse character. The first objection was a practical one. He did not believe it would be possible to frame a scheme by which in any tolerably sized association, embracing a considerable area and a considerable number of schools, room would be found for the representation of the parents on the managing bodies in the case of all the schools concerned. Apart from that insuperable difficulty—and he might dwell upon it much more at length—for what purpose were the associations called into existence? They were called into existence in order to advise the Department as to the allocation of the money between the various schools. Now he said deliberately that for that purpose neither the parents nor the ratepayers, nor any of the other bodies mentioned in the earlier Amendments, were calculated to give any valuable assistance to the work of the associations. He perfectly understood those who said that they should associate in the management of schools, parents or local bodies. But they were not now dealing with the management of schools. They were discussing merely the best machinery for advising the Department in the allocation of the grant. On this point what was the difficulty raised by the Opposition generally, and the Leader of the Opposition in particular? It was that when these associations were brought into existence there would be a scramble among the representatives of various schools for as much as they could get, irrespective of the general object of supporting in the most economic and efficient manner the system of education which was the true policy of the Bill. If they were going to send up parents 686 interested, not in the general system of education, but in their own particular school or parish, then, of course, they would and must have that scramble to which hon. Gentlemen so often pointed as the rock on which the associations would split. In his opinion it would be a very great mistake to intrude into the associations persons animated, it might be, by strong local zeal for their own school.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)
quite ageed that there would be difficulty in carrying out this system throughout the country, but the right hon. Gentleman would not forget that the Opposition had been excluded altogether from making proposals for the representation of parents upon the management of the schools. That having been shut out, the question now was whether the Education Department could do anything to represent the parents on these bodies. He thought some guidance might be afforded to them in the Bill for that purpose. There were many Voluntary Schools on the management of which the parents were represented at the present time. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that parents' representatives in any form would be an intrusion upon these governing bodies. [Cheers.] It seemed to him that, if they were on the management body, they would be just as likely to do their duty by the Voluntary Schools as any other kind of managers, and just as likely to have both the interest of the single and group denominational schools at heart as any other body of managers they could find.
§ MR. J. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
pointed out that a practical scheme had been formulated for the representation of parents on the governing bodies of intermediate schools. Such representation was much more difficult to arrange than the representation of parents on elementary schools. If it was possible to arrange for the representation of parents on the governing bodies of intermediate schools, many of whom lived at long distances from the schools, surely it was equally possible to obtain a good representation of parents in connection with elementary schools. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the object of the formation of the association would be merely to advise the Education 687 Department. But there were other objects that the association would exist to promote besides the mere allocation of the money. For example, special teachers might be provided for the different elementary schools in the district, and the organisation of peripatetic teaching was a question to which attention had recently been paid, and which could be carried out as a useful feature in connection with elementary as well as intermediate schools. The subjects which their children ought to be taught were surely of as much interest to the parents as to the clerical managers; and if, through their representatives, they had an opportunity of exercising some influence on the decision of the association, then, he thought, that the representation of parents was a thing certain to work for the good and the advantage of the association.
§ *SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
thought that the schools ought to be allowed to select their own representatives. There were many places in the country in which there were Voluntary Schools, not necessarily denominational, which were carried on on purpose to avoid the expense and loss of time of unnecessary elections. There was much to be said for the representation of parents on the managing bodies, but what practical object was there to be gained by having representatives of parents on these associations? There was no constituency, and no authorised list of persons who had the right to vote. The only legal power of the associations was to distribute the funds. What they had to do was to get the best representatives of schools and those most likely to bring forward the needs of the schools. He should like the Education Department to have power to nominate the inspector, even if only as assessor, to attend the meetings.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea, District)
understood that the first step would be the creation of an association of Voluntary Schools in a certain area, the Department first of all to determine the area. After that, a certain number of Voluntary Schools in the area might combine together to form an association. When the association was formed the governing body had to be constituted; and one of the conditions laid down was 688 that the governing body of the association was to be representative of the managers of Voluntary Schools. All that his hon. Friend proposed was that the governing body should be elected, not simply by the existing managers of the different Voluntary Schools forming part of the association, but that an element representing parents and scholars should be added. Unless the governing body of the association was to be limited in its dealing with the Department simply to the distribution of the fund, and was not to give advice on any other matter, it would, perhaps, not be a matter of vital importance whether the Committee should adopt this Amendment. But he was convinced that they would play a much larger part than the mere distribution of the grant; they would advise the Department in regard to many matters in reference to public elementary education. The Amendment would distinctly add to the value of any advice in regard to funds or any other matter which the governing body might give to the Department. He could not see any difficulty in framing a scheme to carry out the proposal. Why should not the parish meeting or the Parish Council elect two parents to be added to the Board of Management of a Voluntary School for the purpose of electing a representative on the governing body of the association?
§ MR. D. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon) Boroughs
referring to the argument that it would be difficult to ascertain the parents, pointed out that there was the register kept by the School Attendance Committee of the district, and the register of a school, both of which contained a full list of the parents of the children in that particular school for the time being. The same difficulty was met with in the nomination of a School Board. There was no register there; they had simply the ratepayers for the time being in the parish. The list of parents could be drawn out in the same way. The First Lord of the Treasury had said his objection was that the parents had too much interest in the management of the schools. That, surely, was a very remarkable objection. He should have thought their interest was a very strong reason why they should have representation on these associations. The same objection would obtain to the subscribers. Take the case of Liverpool. In that city 689 the annual subscriptions amounted to £10,000, but the fees paid by the parents amounted to £11,000. Under this Bill there would not be on these associations a single representative of the people who paid the greater amount, but the subscribers would have full control. The First Lord of the Treasury objected to local interest. Surely what they wanted in respect to these associations was to enlist the sympathy of the people who had a keen interest in the school. The keener and the deeper the interest of the people, the greater their claim to representation on the board of management of the school. The right hon. Gentleman's position was altogether illogical.
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said he was extremely jealous of the wording of the clause, because it confined these governing bodies to one particular class. [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"] His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury had again and again enlarged upon the virtue of elasticity in dealing with this question, and he had followed the right hon. Gentleman in many divisions in consequence of that argument, but upon this occasion the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be falling away from that position. The governing body of the association, whose primary duty no doubt was to advise the Committee of Council as to the distribution of the grant, was to consist exclusively of representatives of the managers. That was a strict line which he thought it was very ill-advised to adopt. If they inserted in the words, "other persons interested in the conduct of the schools," or "other persons acquainted with the management of the schools," they would permit the introduction of other persons who would be of great assistance even to the immediate purpose in view, and of still greater assistance if the associations were developed as it was proposed. There would be no difficulty in securing representatives of the parents upon the governing bodies, but he thought it was even more desirable there should be representatives of the teachers. [Cheers.] In the allocation of the funds to the different schools the teachers would possess better knowledge than even the managers. Again, the presence of a representative of the Education Department on one of these boards would be of the greatest possible value, for he would 690 bring what no one else would bring, a knowledge of all the schools; he would be able to suggest how the funds could be distributed with the best regard to the promotion of education as a whole. Under the Bill as drawn they could not have such a thing. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Why not?"] Because the clause said the board should consist of representatives of the managers. He asked who would be the persons who would form these associations. They would be, for the most part, the Bishops and clergy of the Church of England, persons who would put the narrowest interpretation upon their powers. They would insist that "representatives of managers" meant the "representatives of managers" and nobody else, and they would exclude from the associations such men as he had named.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomery)
said the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London held the view that there was no practical object to be attained in having representatives of the parents on the governing bodies. The right hon. Baronet could not know that, in the case of a large number of schools, while the managers were exclusively Church of England, the children in attendance were largely, in some cases wholly, Nonconformist. The result of that was very serious to the efficiency of the schools themselves. The parents felt they had no power over the instruction given in the schools, and no safeguard against intolerance being shown in the schools. The result of it all was that they cared very little about the attendance of the children in the schools. If they gave the parents a direct interest in the governing bodies they would very largely remove that difficulty. The First Lord of the Treasury had asked whether the Committee thought that the parents were such good educationists as the clergy? His experience was that the enthusiasm for education in the elementary schools came a great deal more from the parents than from the clergy, and that therefore any alteration in the clause which enabled the parents to take a practical interest in the schools would necessarily raise the standard of education. He took it that the understanding of hon. Gentlemen opposite was that the phrase "representatives of the managers" meant representatives of the managers only. [The 691 FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Not necessarily, but they must represent the managers."] He would like to know what answer the Attorney General would make to a technical lawyer who argued that the representatives of the managers meant the representatives of the managers, and did not mean the representatives of anybody else.
§ *MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said it was quite clear that the Education Department could not form these associations; neither could the parents or the managers. The forming of them would no doubt come from the centre of the diocese. The nucleus existed in the Diocesan Board for Inspection of Religious Knowledge. His apprehension was that funds of the schools joined in the associations would have in future to bear the whole costs of the inspection of religious knowledge, which was now borne by other people. While it was necessary for the parents to be represented some way or other, he did not see how it could be brought about in this Bill. It would be against the principle of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said the First Lord had already told them that parents could be represented.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
said that was his impression, but nobody could be a member of an association unless he was elected by the managers of the schools. How could a parent get on an association unless he was elected by the managers. What was the likelihood of the managers electing a parent? Indeed, their hands would be strengthened by that discussion. In the Bill of last Session the words were, "if a reasonable number of parents desire "representation" they would get it. Now they were told that it was impossible.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
thought that they wanted a little more light on this point from the Leader of the House. It was clear that parents could only become members of the association by leave of the managers; and it was also clear that there would be many cases in which the assistance of parents would be an obvious advantage. He was sorry to hear the First Lord practically say that the sole use of these associations would be to allocate the grant.
§ MR. BUXTON
was glad to hear that, for the Vice President had said that these associations would have many duties to fulfil. He believed that the Bill might be so amended as to make the associations more entitled to public confidence.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said he was one who voted for some representation of the parents, but this Amendment would cut at the bottom of the whole principle involved. If one parent was elected he would naturally wish to benefit his own school. He thought the difficulty would be met by putting in the words "and others," so that he would not necessarily be a parent.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said he believed that the association would more and more supersede private management in these schools. He quite admitted that there was a great difficulty in the way of framing a scheme for the representation of parents upon the associations, but he did not think that that difficulty was insuperable. That difficulty was, however, much increased by the fact that they did not know how the representative managers who were to serve on the associations were to be selected. Were they to be selected by the head of the diocese, and were the views of the Bishop as to who were fit and proper persons to represent the managers to regulate their selection. In his opinion the managers themselves should select their own representatives. ["Hear, hear!"] It was only by calling a meeting of the managers of a diocese, and allowing them freely to choose their own representatives that any real representation could be secured. It was said that the representatives however selected must receive the approval of the Education Department before they could serve on the association, but he should like to ask the Government how it was possible for the Department to judge whether the selected persons were or were not really representative of the managers. ["Hear, hear!"] Supposing, for instance, that the Bishop of the diocese were to select A, B, C, and D, to represent the managers on the associations, and supposing the managers were to say that those persons did not represent them, 693 how was the Department to determine the issue so raised between the Bishop and the managers. If they knew what process was to be gone through in order to secure the due representation of the managers there would not be so much difficulty in devising a scheme for the representation of the parents on the associations. Of course the Government would be ready to meet the Amendment with the stereotyped answer that the matter must be left to the Education Department. He did not intend to argue the question, but he thought that every reasonable man would admit that if it could be arrived at in any practical way it was desirable that the parents should be represented on the associations. It was rendered all the more desirable by the course which the Government had taken in this matter. The Government said that the subscriptions must be kept up, and, therefore, from their own financial point of view the parents from whom the subscriptions were largely drawn ought to be represented. What difficulty would there be in calling a parish meeting once a year for the purpose of selecting the representatives of the parents. Assuming that no great local feeling had been aroused, it would be easy to select a respectable man who possessed the confidence of the locality to act as the representative of the parents. He could conceive of no substantial objection that could be urged aganst this Amendment, because there appeared to be insuperable difficulty in framing some scheme by which the parents might be represented on these associations. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said that he entreated the Government not to shut the door upon the representation of the parents upon the associations by the rejection of this Amendment. He thought that as far as the representation of the managers were concerned, that if they were allowed to select their own representatives they would only be too anxious to select those who really represented them. In his view, very useful representatives might be chosen outside of the management. He was in favour of admitting the words in the Amendment in the interests of justice and of economy. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said that it was perfectly clear that all hon. Members who had had practical experience of elementary educa- 694 tion held a strong opinion in favour of the principle of the Amendment, even if they did not approve of its exact terms. It was most important that they should have representatives of the parents upon the associations, because they would assist the associations in arriving at a decision whether it was worth while, in the interests of education, to keep alive certain schools by awarding them a high payment per child out of the fund, which the associations had to distribute. He knew of some denominational schools that were almost entirely supported out of the State grant. He should very heartily support the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
said that the Amendment would test the sincerity of those who had lately been championing the rights of parents in regard to the choice of schools and to religious instruction. It was equally important that parents should have some rights with regard to the secular education given in the schools. It had been stated that the parents of the children did not take an interest in the schools. In order to make them take an interest in them it would be necessary to give the parents some power and responsibility in connection with the schools. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 109; Noes, 250.—(Division List, No. 99.)
§ MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
proposed in Sub-section (3), after the word "managers," to insert the words "and of the teachers of the said schools." He said the object of the Amendment was to secure for the teachers some share of representation on the governing bodies constituted under the clause. The teachers, he thought, could not be charged with being uninterested in the education progress of the schools. They were certainly more advanced educationally than the managers of rural Voluntary Schools. Whatever might be the relations of these new governing bodies to the Education Department, it was clear that they would not have been called governing bodies in the phraseology of the Bill if they had not been intended to govern somebody. Their government would be over the 695 Voluntary Schools connected with the associations in different parts of the country. When the Elementary Education Act of 1870 was passed there were only 28,000 teachers in England and Wales, but now there were between 125,000 and 135,000 elementary teachers of all grades; so that the educational constituency for whom they were asking for some share in the constitution of these governing bodies was a very large one. Of these 125,000 teachers in the country, about 70,000 were teachers in Voluntary Schools, and of these 70,000 about 55,000 were connected with the Voluntary Schools of the Church of England. These teachers had at present no right to be heard on the subject of the management of their schools. The Church of England Schools were mostly administered under trusts, which gave the teachers no voice or vote in the managing committees. The managing committee consisted usually of the clergyman of the parish, of his curates, if he should so determine, of the two churchwardens, and of certain subscribers, who must be members of the Church of England. In the case of the Wesleyan schools the teachers were in the same position, having no voice or vote in the management. In connection with the British schools the same condition of things was found, except that here if a teacher was a subscriber to the school he could be elected on the board of management. Then the teachers in Roman Catholic schools were absolutely excluded from the managing committees. The teachers were vitally interested in many of the questions that would be dealt with by the governing bodies of the associations, and in the distribution of this enormous grant of upwards of £60,000. They were at the present moment receiving very much lower salaries than were paid in the Board Schools, and if they were elected members of the governing bodies they would have very strong motives for taking care that the money voted in this Bill was used to increase the efficiency of schools in the manner indicated by the Minister of Education a few weeks ago, when he said he hoped this fund would be used for increasing the stipends of teachers and increasing the staffs. There were other duties which teachers would be in a position to discharge. They would be able to protect members of their calling against capricious and often unjust 696 dismissal, and against the strange extraneous tasks which were often imposed upon them, and to which reference had been made more than once in the course of that Debate. These were protective rights which the teachers might justly claim to exercise in the governing bodies. The Committee had been told by the First Lord of the Treasury that the parents were not qualified to exercise the same authority as the managers exercised in their management of Voluntary Schools. Whatever might be the validity of the argument, it certainly could not be applied to the school teachers, whose representations could not fail to result in increasing the efficiency of schools. On some questions teachers would be able to give a more unprejudiced opinion than clerical managers. Take sanitary matters for example. A teacher would be the very first man to urge that better provision should be made in a school for sanitary purposes, that better buildings should be erected, that playgrounds should be enlarged, and that damp and unhealthy buildings should be superseded by others. The governing bodies would be largely clerical associations, and Members of that House—especially those who were connected with Nonconformist denominations—were entitled to ask that some counterpoise should be present in those bodies against the clerical element. The presence of teachers would provide such a counterpoise. To sum up—the representation of the teachers would be just to them; it would be likely to increase largely the efficiency of schools, and it would neutralise to some extent the probable clerical constitution of the governing bodies.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that in answering the last Amendment he had given several general reasons for opposing it which applied not only to that Amendment, but to most of the Amendments that followed dealing with proposed additions to the representation of managers upon the associations. Those reasons it was not necessary that he should repeat, but he would add to them one which was specially applicable to this particular Amendment. However valuable were the services of the teachers in the schools, and useful as might be the experience of men who had been engaged in teaching, when information was required on the subject of the wants of the 697 teaching class or as to special things needed in connection with the teaching in elementary schools, he could not accept this Amendment. There was this, at all events, to be said in favour of the last Amendment—that they would all rejoice to see the representatives of parents associating with the managers in the management of Voluntary Schools. No one, however, desired to see the teachers in a school associating with the managers in the management of that school, and he believed that the Education Department would decline to recognise as a manager of a Voluntary School a teacher engaged in the school. The Department would certainly refuse to permit a teacher in a Board School to continue to receive a salary if he were elected a member of the School Board. The Education Department had invariably refused to recognise a teacher in a school as a manager of that school; and he thought it would be equally objectionable that a teacher should be a member of the governing body of an association in which his school was included. These considerations constituted strong and adequate grounds for rejecting this Amendment.
§ *MR. YOXALL
said it was no doubt perfectly true that the Education Department would object to a teacher's becoming a member of a School Board, and the Department would rightly oppose any arrangement by which a teacher should be ex officio a member of the managing body of his school. But even now it often happened that a teacher was present to give advice in the capacity of assessor at meetings of school managers. In such cases he was present at the managers' request. The proposal in the Amendment was not, however, that a teacher should become a manager of his school, but that among those persons appointed by the managers to represent the schools on the governing body of the association some teachers should be found. In some existing associations of schools able teachers had been placed upon the governing body and had done excellent work. The experience which a teacher had, and his particular interest in education generally, could not but make him an admirable and most efficient member of the governing body of an association. He hoped, therefore, that the Leader of the House would consent to reconsider his opposition to the Amendment.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
expressed his intention of voting for this Amendment. There was a strong opinion in various parts of the country that teachers were a valuable element on bodies of this description. ["Hear, hear!"] He was quite aware of the objection that might be urged that teachers had some pecuniary interest. But so had the managers in many of these questions, and he thought that among teachers—certainly among those likely to be chosen as the representatives of their class—men of sufficient public spirit would be found not to vote from solely sordid reasons for grants that would benefit their special pockets. ["Hear, hear!"] In two districts with which he was intimately acquainted committees were formed which included representatives of the head teachers, and, speaking from practical experience of committees of Church schools, as well as other schools, he could say that for the secular purposes of education the teachers had proved a most valuable element. ["Hear, hear!"] They often knew better than the managers what were the special needs of the schools, and if a minority of the teachers—subject to the sanction of the Education Department—were put on the governing bodies of the associations, those bodies would, he believed, be much more practical and valuable than they were likely to be if they were confined purely to representatives of the managers. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ACLAND
remarked that the hon. Member for Somerset had a wide experience both of elementary and secondary education in his own county; he had devoted great attention to educational subjects, and he was hopeful that some Member of the Government would feel it advisable to say some few words after the announcement of the hon. Gentleman that he felt it necessary to vote for this Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought some qualifications were necessary of the assertions which had been made by the First Lord of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman said that nobody now-a-days desired to see teachers associated with the managers.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
If I said so, that was not my point. My point was that by the Code it was not permitted.
§ MR. ACLAND
said he took down the words which the right hon. Gentleman used. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that in the course of the last 20 years or so there had been a marked and wholesome change of opinion as to teachers being represented on the management of schools. It used to be the doctrine that in their grammar schools the head master was hardly ever to be admitted to a meeting of the managers, or, if he was, he was frequently, in the case of some of the smaller grammar schools, not asked even to sit down, the whole attitude of the board of managers being that he was a mere employé, who only came in to answer a few questions, they being the experts. The Charity Commissioners, by their acceptance of modern schemes, had shown that they in their turn had begun to take a different view of this question, and the teachers or their representatives were now frequently admitted on the governing bodies of schools. ["Hear, hear!"] He could quote cases fairly similar to this where the county governing bodies, which were to be the authority in Wales under the Bill of last year, contained among their members representatives of the elementary teachers of the particular counties concerned. He could also quote cases where arrangements had been made that on the local governing bodies of schools the head master or mistress should be members for all purposes except those which directly concerned the appointment of, or the salaries or dismissal of, the head master or mistress. ["Hear, hear!"] If they went abroad and looked to the most enlightened countries they would see that great and reasonable progress had been made in the direction of providing for the representatives of the elementary and secondary teachers on the governing bodies of schools. As to the objection that the Code did not allow teachers to sit on School Boards, they might assume that the Code was not finally perfect, and the day might come when elementary education might be much more fully developed, and when teachers might sit on their educational councils in various parts of Europe. ["Hear, hear!"] The position of the Opposition was one of great difficulty. Up to the present the right hon. Gentleman had given no indication whatever that he was going to allow the Education 700 Department to lay before the House some scheme by which they might know how these governing bodies were going to be formed, therefore they were compelled—and he thought this a great misfortune and waste of time—to raise point after point in order to see if they could give any instructions to the Department in this Bill as to the classes of persons who should be represented on the governing bodies. If they had any concession made to them indicating that the Government thought teachers should and ought to be represented on the governing bodies, and that the Education Department would prepare schemes in that direction and lay them before Parliament, he was quite sure it would not be necessary to debate some of these points one after another in the way they were obliged to do now. If it was urged that the proposition for the representatives of teachers was vague he replied that the proposition of the Government for the representatives of the managers was equally vague. They both stood on exactly the same footing, and as the Government insisted on having representatives of the managers, so the Opposition, in the same way, demanded representatives of the teachers. Public opinion was strongly in favour of bringing teachers in a reasonable degree on the governing bodies of schools, and he deeply regretted that this moderate proposal should be rejected. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. JEBB (Cambridge University)
wished to point out that one function, and one only, was given in the Bill to associations, and that was the function of advising the Education Department in respect to the distribution of the grant. ["Hear, hear!"] All the arguments the right hon. Member for Rotherham had used would have been perfectly in place if they had been setting up a new educational authority, and the question had been whether the teachers should have a share in the direction of the policy. For his part he recognised as much as anyone could do the claim of the teachers to have a voice in the educational policy, but the one function of advising the Department on the distribution of the grant was all that was given to the association. ["Hear, hear!"] It had been said more than once that two different views had been presented of these associations—that one moment they had been described as 701 merely advisory bodies, and at another as new education authorities. He submitted that there was no ground for that comparison. They were advisory bodies, and advisory bodies only; and the fact that the teachers had a direct interest in the distribution of the grant seemed to him a reason not for but against their being placed on the associations; and on this simple ground he intended to vote against the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. GEORGE LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)
observed that the hon. Member for Cambridge University, who no doubt understood something about the Bill, said that under it they were not setting up a new education authority. They had had one definite announcement from the First Lord of the Treasury, and that was that the Education Department would not allow teachers to be represented on the governing bodies, and that no teachers should be members of the governing bodies. For his part he did not see why representatives of this most influential and useful class of men as regarded educational efficiency in their localities should not be represented upon the governing bodies. If this Bill was to promote education, then those teachers who had made a special study of education should be on the governing bodies as persons who would do their best to promote education and not clericalism. For what reason should they be excluded? They had been told perfectly plainly by the First Lord of the Treasury that teachers were not to be represented, and he had argued that the Education Department should not allow a single representative of the teachers to be on the governing bodies.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I never suggested that the Education Department should prevent teachers being on the governing bodies. I used the analogy of the School Boards to show that it was in my judgment improper, or at any rate contrary to the spirit of what had been done by the Education Department hitherto, to have representatives of the teachers on those bodies.
§ MR. LAMBERT
remarked that if in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman it would be improper for the Education Department to allow representatives of the teachers to be on the governing 702 bodies, of course the Education Department would be under the control of the right hon. Gentleman, or he supposed his position and influence would have weight with the Department. But it did seem to him to be a most extraordinary thing that it should be improper for gentlemen who were among the most ardent educationalists in the country, to have representatives on the governing bodies. In the case of small Voluntary Schools there were undoubted grievances, injustice being done to the teachers, who were often turned out without adequate cause, because they would not perform this or that duty which did not properly belong to their office. If representatives of the teachers were appointed on the governing bodies they would prevent such injustices being inflicted, and aid in distributing the grant so as to promote educational efficiency.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
remarked that the hon. Member for Cambridge University had stated—very inaccurately—that these governing bodies were to do nothing but advise as to the distribution of money, and that that being so he failed to see what advantage could be conferred on these bodies by the presence upon them of representatives of the teachers. But that was not the view of the functions of the governing bodies which had been presented to the Committee. The First Lord of the Treasury on more than one occasion had expressly told the Committee, as he told the House on the First Reading of the Bill, that these bodies were not to be confined to the mere distribution of money, and that they hoped they would be able to give not merely pecuniary assistance, but assistance in many other ways. ["Hear, hear!"] Since then the right hon. Gentleman had used other language pointing in the same direction, saying that these bodies should not confine their functions to advising the Department, but should voluntarily consult together on questions of common interest to all of them, adding that he should rejoice to see them doing so and regard it as a most useful addition to their functions.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
replied that that only showed, as they had always maintained, that the Bill was open to any number of 703 constructions, and that it was ambiguous and vague. The hon. Gentleman was going to vote against this Amendment because he assumed that the governing bodies would be confined to the distribution of money, whereas the First Lord of the Treasury said that what the Bill meant was that they should not be confined to these functions, but would range over others much more extensive. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said the hon. Member for Cambridge University, whom they were always glad to hear on education questions, had stated that the only function of the associations under the Bill was to advise the Education Department with regard to the allocation of the grants to schools. What was the greatest danger to be apprehended from the working of the associations and from the release of the present safeguards for the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions? It was that these voluntary subscriptions would be allowed in some way or other to fall off. The presence of teachers upon the associations would surely be the most valuable safeguard possible for preventing this. The teachers would make it their business to see that the money was properly expended on educational objects and not allowed to be given in relief of voluntary subscriptions. It appeared to him that the argument the hon. Gentleman had put forward for the rejection of the Amendment was really a reason entitling it to support. It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, in regard to individual schools, that the Code at present prevented any representatives of the teachers sitting upon the governing body of the Board School of which the schoolmaster would be the governor. But with regard to larger bodies like these associations, the representation of teachers would be found to be a great benefit, as it had been in Wales, both with regard to elementary and intermediate education. It was an element which if introduced into these associations would tend to the promotion of educational efficiency.
§ MR. BARTLEY
confessed to being in some difficulty as to how he should vote on this Amendment. If the chief work of the association was simply to be to recommend the apportionment of money, it seemed to him the teacher ought not to 704 be upon it, because he was specially interested in the allocation of the money. If, on the other hand, the associations were ultimately to become really educational institutions for advising and for the general supervision and improvement of education in their respective areas, then he could conceive no persons more fitted, in fair proportions, to be on the associations than some of the teachers of the schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The real difficulty was to know the definite intention of the Government as to what the associations were really to become. If they were to become, as he should like to see them, educational authorities, he should be sorry to give a vote which would render it impossible for teachers to become members of the association. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
quite appreciated the difficulty in which the hon. Gentleman was placed as to the real meaning of the Government in regard to these associations. At one time they were to be simply bankers for the purpose of the distribution of money, and at another they were to have more important functions allotted them. But upon this question as to the scope and functions of the associations, one luminary of the Government—who had been singularly silent in the latter Debates—had spoken at great length and with great fulness, and had clearly indicated to the House, not so much his own view, but what he stated was the view of the Committee of Council on Education in reference to this question, and of the responsible head of the Department. As the right hon. Gentleman had taken no part for many evenings in the discussion of this important part of the Bill, he hoped the Committee would excuse him if he referred to what the right hon. Gentleman had said. The Vice President of the Council, in discussing the formation of these associations, said the managerswould have a representative on the council of the association, and in a short time a consideralde amount of experience and knowledge would be gained by the associated body, which would be of enormous value to the managers of individual schools, and would teach them better methods and encourage them in a very much improved management.705 That was not the distribution of money.The larger the association the better would be the management and the less would be the waste.The right hon. Gentleman defended the compulsory character of the association with considerable ability, and said:—The power in the Bill to refuse the grant to schools which did not join the association would have to be pretty freely used, so that no school would remain out without a valid excuse. These associations being so formed, they would have the duty of preparing and submitting to the Department a scheme for the distribution of these grants in accordance with the terms of the Bill, so as to insure that the money would go to the schools that want it, and that it would be used by those schools for the purpose of improving education." … "A scheme will not only have to indicate the amount of public money which is to be allotted to each of the constituent schools, but it will also have to prescribe the purposes for which the money so allotted shall be used by the school.[Opposition cheers.] One of his hon. Friends on that side of the House then asked if the schemes would be published, and the right hon. Gentleman replied:—That is a detail I have not gone into, but I have no doubt the schemes will be published.He was the only Member of the Government who had given them that hope. The right hon. Gentleman continued:—May I point out to the House what these associations may recommend and what the Education Department may prescribe? They may prescribe, for instance, that schools in the area for which the association is formed shall have a sufficient number of teachers, shall have additional teachers. I am quite sure the Member for Rotherham will agree with me when I say it is impossible that there can be efficient education in any school in which the teacher is entirely single-handed.… The association may prescribe that in every school there shall be an assistant teacher, or at least one or more pupil teachers. They may prescribe that no school is to be kept on the minimum staff required by the Department. They may raise the level of education; and I should like to say I have often heard in this Debate Members talk about the Education Department having raised the cost of education. It is not the education Department that has done that; it is the public opinion of the country.… You may raise the standard. Then you may raise the salaries. There are many schoolmasters and mistresses who are now receiving salaries far below those they ought to receive.… I believe many hon. Members little know the enormous strain which is put upon the teacher, sometimes the solitary, single-handed teacher, especially in small village schools. Then there is improved apparatus. There are desks; there are better seats; 706 there are the little museums"—[laughter]—"of objects which go so far to enlighten and enliven children in schools; there is the apparatus now necessary for the manual instruction, which is prescribed in all the lower standards and is very much used in the schools; and finally there is the apparatus for physical exercise. Now, all those are things which the associations will recommend—[Opposition cheers and laughter]—"and which Education Department will prescribe.… I am quite certain that the Government—I do not know that I have a right to speak for my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, who is not here at present; but I can speak as far as the Committee of Council is concerned—any Amendment which really goes to secure that this State aid grant shall be used really for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country will be welcomed be the Government.[Opposition cheers.] He thought nobody in that House could doubt, whatever the vague and unintelligible phraseology of this Bill might mean, the intention of the Government, as expounded by the First Lord of the Treasury, in the speeches which his right hon. Friend had quoted, and in the more complete exposition of his views given by the Vice President of the Council, was that these associations should be of some practical value in improving the education of the country, that they should have at once both responsibility and power, and that they should enforce their decisions by the appropriation of a large sum of public money. They wished that these schemes should be laid before Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman just now pleaded the code, but they asked that this should be put into the code which came before Parliament once a year. They asked that Parliament should have some opportunity of seeing whether the promises and intentions of the Government were faithfully carried out, and that the educational needs of the country were fully supplied. They were quite willing that this should be as elastic as possible. He urged the Government that these bodies should be, educationally, as strong as it was possible to be.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have forgotten that there was nothing in the phraseology of this Bill which would prevent the teachers being upon the associations. In the code, however, there was a provision preventing teachers being on the management of Board Schools. The elasticity of their 707 present measure, in which there was nothing of that kind, was greater than the existing elasticity under the existing code in the case of Board Schools.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would agree to omit the words "representatives of managers?"
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he would certainly never willingly consent to that. [Ministerial cries of "Never!"] He never would consent to that. [Ministerial cheers.] They would be driven to leave the whole thing to the Education Department; an Education Minister might come in whose view was that the distribution of this money should be advised, not by managers of Voluntary Schools, but by County Councils, Parish Councils, or any other body which might occur to the fertile imagination of the Education Minister. The responsibility would then be watered down with the result that the function of advising the distribution, delicate and difficult as it was admitted to be, might be intrusted, not to persons who had the confidence of the managers of the schools, but to persons whose very object might be to wreck the whole system of education. [Cheers.] He did not say that hon. Members opposite wished it to be so, but that it might be so.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
said he did not wish to remove the representatives of managers. He desired to add to them the representatives of teachers.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he must insist, and he begged the Committee would support him in insisting—["Hear, hear!"]—that the body which was to advise the Education Department in this matter should be a body which from its essential constitution had the confidence of the managers of the schools. From that principle they could not depart.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
asked the right hon. Gentleman how these governing bodies were to be created. Was it intended that the managers of Voluntary Schools were to be at liberty to elect, subject to the approval of the Department, their own representatives upon the governing bodies, or that the Department might if it liked nominate the persons who were to represent the Voluntary 708 Schools upon these bodies? He thought the words were vague.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said it had already been frequently pointed out that the associations were to be voluntary. Several schools would form themselves into an association with a governing body representative of the managers. If the Education Department approved of the scheme then that association would be entitled to the advantages conferred by the first clause of the Bill. If the Department did not approve of the scheme it would be for the schools to suggest some other plan which the Department would approve.
MR. J. W. WILSON (Worcestershire, N.)
said he trusted the Committee would grant him that indulgence which was extended to every Member who spoke in the House for the first time. ["Hear, hear!"] It was clear that Members on both sides of the House expected that the associations would be able to undertake wider duties than the duty of merely advising the Education Department as to the distribution of the 5s. grant. It was, therefore, more than ever essential that the formation of those associations should be made as elastic as possible, and capable of development in the interests of education. In regard to the particular Amendment before the Committee he thought that as the Committee had rejected the inclusion of parents in the associations, teachers could not very well be included; but he appealed to the Government, in the interests of the wider use of the associations, to make the basis of the associations as wide as possible, not for the sake of overriding the schools, but for the sake of some representation of minorities. Therefore, though he could not support the Amendment he hoped the Government would see their way to make the associations as elastic as possible. It was only by that means that the associations would obtain the confidence of the country, without which they would be a failure. [Opposition cheers.]
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
said the First Lord of the Treasury had stated that the teachers might be members of the associations. The Amendment did not ask that the teachers should be members of the associations. It only asked that the teachers should form a constituency to 709 elect members of the associations. He thought that no one could give better advice to the associations in regard to the distribution of the grant than the teachers.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said the First Lord had stated that there was nothing to prevent the teachers from being appointed to the governing bodies. But who would have the selection or nomination of the members of the governing body?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
replied that the constitution of the governing body was a matter for the schools which formed the association to agree upon; and it was then for the Department to determine whether it could be intrusted to carry out the Act.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Does the hon. Gentleman consider that the parents of the children should represent the schools? Surely the managers of the schools are the proper persons. [Cheers.]
§ MR. J. M. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
said the interests of the teachers were largely concerned in the distribution of the grants. It was conceivable that the teachers would be called upon by the associations to exert themselves in one form or another, as the 17s. 6d. limit was to be abolished, to obtain extra grants. It was impossible to suppose that the persons who would choose the governing bodies would hold that the teachers were in any sense representative of the managers.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said that if they wanted to make the teaching of the schools more efficient, and if they wanted the money applied to that purpose, they must bring to the distribution of the money the advice that the teachers alone could give. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury escaped very cleverly from that argument in support of the Amendment by suggesting that it was meant to throw on the Education Department the absolute selection of the governing bodies. That was not what was wanted. [Opposition cheers.] What was wanted was that there should be representatives of the teachers on the governing bodies. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] That might not 710 be the universal desire of the Committee, but many Members on the Government side had spoken in that sense already. [Opposition cheers.] They wanted representation of the teachers even for the mere limited purpose of the distribution of the money; but if the large benefits which every lover of education must desire were to be the outcome of this Bill, then they must certainly do their best to secure the representation of teachers. He should certainly vote for the Amendment. [Opposition cheers.]
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 126; Noes, 266.—(Division List, No. 100.)
moved in Sub-section (3) after the word "managers," to insert the words "consisting as to not less than one-half of persons not clerks in holy orders." He said that the Government had repeatedly declared these associations not to be machines for the propagation of a particular creed; and the Amendment was designed to put that declaration to the test. He was not particular as to the fraction of parsons decided upon; but he suggested one-half. He wished to say nothing derogatory of clerks in holy orders, but whatever else they were distinguished for it was not love of education among the working classes. [Cries of "Oh!"] They had kept the Voluntary Schools going, but their primary motive had not been love of education. Their first concern had been the particular creed to which they were attached. [Ministerial cries of["Oh!"] He hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite did not mean to suggest that parsons put education higher than religion, which would be a terrible thing to say, either here or anywhere else. [Laughter.] They were almost all agreed upon this—that the associations would be dominated in the main by the clerical element that governs the Voluntary Schools. [Cries of"No!"] If they were truly to represent the managers they must be clerically minded and influenced. All the Amendment asked was that at any rate half the associations should consist of persons who were not parsons. That was not very much to ask from the Government.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he was as strong an advocate as the right hon. Gentleman himself of a lay admixture in the associations which were likely to be formed, and he had not the least doubt that a strong lay influence would be found in the associations when formed. If the hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to inquire into what was actually taking place in such associations as had already been formed for purposes similar to those of the Bill, he would find that though diocesan in their character they by no means exclusively consisted of persons in holy orders. Therefore, he thought the Amendment was directed against a danger which was in truth imaginary. Apart from that the Government were quite unable to accept an Amendment which, while putting a special disability upon clergy of the Church of England and priests of the Church of Rome, placed no corresponding disability on the ministers of any other denomination.
§ MR. BUXTON,
referring to the objection raised by the First Lord of the Treasury in his concluding sentence, said his hon. Friend would doubtless be quite willing to alter his Amendment so as to make it apply to ministers of all religious denominations. On the general question he supported the Amendment.
§ MR. AUGUSTINE BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
said he had not been able to comprehend all the Amendments, but he thought this an honest Amendment, framed in the interests of the Bill itself. If it could be accepted it would greatly mitigate the feelings of hostility and even of anger which the Bill was exciting in the minds of no doubt unreasonable persons—namely, the Nonconformists, who, nevertheless, were likely to continue to exist even after the Bill came into operation. The great antipathy which it excited in their minds was that it was a clerical Bill, handing over a sum of money which at no distant date would probably mount to a million a year, to clergymen meeting in diocesan assemblies. The First Lord of the Treasury hoped and believed there would be a large lay element in those new associations, but "hopes" and "beliefs" were not very businesslike terms, and he should like some security that those "hopes" and "beliefs" should be facts. Clerks in holy orders were not admitted to this august abode, though it contained 712 persons who were more clerical than the clerics—[laughter]—and there was a general belief that laymen were better fitted to distribute money than the clergy. He quite agreed about the possibility of altering the Amendment, but he would point out that ministers of religion were laymen. A Nonconformist minister did not make those sacerdotal pretensions which of necessity were made by persons who called themselves clerks in holy orders. [A laugh.] Some of them had already discarded the preface "reverend," and those who adhered to it only did so because in the distribution of the business of this life they had functions in respect of which they had no objection to being known as "reverend," but the title was denied to them by the clergy of the Church of England. His own father was a Nonconformist minister, and many of his acquaintances who were clergy of the Church of England always made a point of addressing him as esquire—[laughter]— to which he had no objection, being a sensible man, and being well aware that he was not sacramentally gifted or graced in any way. [Laughter.] At the same time it might be said that they were not by the habits of their life very well adapted to deal with practical business matters, and he should be glad to see the Amendment extended in such a way as should secure that one-half, or some other fraction of the associations, should neither be priests nor ministers of religion. As business men the Committee should require the application of business qualities to the distribution of these funds. He appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, was it not futile to leave this business to the clergy, business of which they knew very little. Did not the right hon. Gentleman think there ought to be a fixed proportion of laymen for the distribution of this money he, in an unfortunate moment, had promised to the clergy?
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON (York, W. R., Morley)
found an analogy to the proposal now made in the view expressed by the First Lord in reference to the establishment of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said the money could only be granted on condition that those who administered it on the governing body were composed in large proportion of laymen with a smaller proportion of clerical members. Now, if 713 the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary to take such precautions in a country where education was acknowledged to be conducted on purely denominational lines, then, surely, there was good reason for imposing a similar condition in regard to education in a country where the denominational system was not the only existing system. The presence of ministers of religion on the educational boards that now existed had not been attended with happy results altogether, and he had no hesitation in saying that, had ministers of all religious denominations been perforce absent from School Boards, education would have been beeter attended to than it had been. It was a legitimate demand to make, that the clerical element should only form a proportion on the administrating body. He could not associate with the clergy who would have places on these boards any particular faculties for conducting business and administering large sums of public money; and the fact that the right hon. Gentleman himself expressed the hope that laymen would find positions on these associations afforded no security that this would be so in time to come. No doubt a large proportion would consist of clergymen of the Church of England—it could not be otherwise; and there was every probability of their having a controlling voice in the management. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that, in order to clear the public mind of the idea that the Bill placed a large sum of money at the disposal of the clergy, it would be well to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. PERKS
said that Her Majesty's Government had refused to allow parents to be represented on these associations, had refused to allow teachers to be represented, and had now refused to give any security that the laity should be represented; so their proposal was to hand over these grants to practically clerical assemblies. It would seem that the Government claimed for their Bill something in the nature of a Divine revelation, that it was incapable of improvement, and every Amendment proposed was declared useless and unnecessary, adding nothing to the action of the Bill—a totally ridiculous and absurd assumption in the eyes of the commonsense people of the country. He had 714 very strong objection to the ascendency of the clergy on these new educational boards. In spite of what had been said, the clergy would arrogate to themeselves the control in the administration—a control detrimental to the rights of parents and the liberty of teachers. No body of men had shown themselves more incompetent and more unjust in the treatment of rural Dissenters than the Anglican clergy. Journals like the Schoolmaster and organs of the Union of Teachers teemed with instances of ignorance and injustice in clerical management of schools. There was a recent instance of a schoolmaster, on his holiday on the Yorkshire coast, meeting the rector of the parish in which the school was situated, and the rector expressed surprise that the schoolmaster should be away on a day appointed for choir practice. The schoolmaster, who had been in his employment for 20 years, said he thought his absence might be excused under the circumstances; but next day he received notice of his dismissal. Educational papers teemed with instances of this kind, showing that the clergy were incapable of taking a reasonable view of the administration of schools. Clerical journals, which, under present circumstances, he studied with more assiduity than usual, declared there was a compact between the Church Party and the Government that not a single Amendment should be allowed to this part of the Bill; but he protested strongly against the Government policy being tied to the coat tails of the parsons.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
was quite sure that he spoke the sentiments of a considerable number of Churchmen when he said that the despotic control of the clergy over school administration was a galling burden on parishioners. A personal friend of his, a Churchman, in a moment of exasperation said, "Oh, the Church would get on capitally if it were not for the parsons." Without going so far as that, the Amendment simply expressed the claim to have a certain amount of lay representation on these governing bodies. This was but following the tendency of the age. The whole tendency of modern education was to remove teaching from the clergy, putting it into the hands of lay teachers. A striking instance of this he found in the 715 list of masters at one of our great public schools which contributed very largely towards the wit and wisdom of the House. Forty years ago there were 17 masters, of whom six only were laymen and 11 were clergymen; but in 1894 the number of masters had increased to 35, more than double, and in the same time the lay masters had increased five-fold—from six to 29. Yet, in the fact of what was being done in schools to which the wealthier classes sent their own sons, the Government were insisting that the children of the poorer classes should only be taught by the clergy—["No, no!"]—that the teaching should be mainly controlled by the clergy. [Cries of "No, no!"] Did anybody doubt that the clergy would be the chief managers in this business? And yet the men who proposed this would not have a similar system of teaching for their own children.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that it would be unfortunate if the clergy had an undue proportion of control in these associations, and the only objection he urged to the Amendment was that, in its present form, it would put the clergy of the Church of England at a disadvantage as compared with the members of other denominations. There was not the slightest desire to do that; and, to meet the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman and the views of hon. Members, he would move to add to the Amendment the words "or other minister of religion." That would completely meet the view of the right hon. Gentleman, and perhaps might induce him to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 223; Noes, 85.—(Division List, No. 101.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 87; Noes, 225.—(Division List, No. 102.)716
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
claimed to move, "That the Question, "That the words "as are" stand part of the clause' be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question 'That the words "as are" stand part of the Clause' be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 221; Noes, 83.—(Division List, No. 103.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'as are' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 219; Noes, 77.—(Division List, No. 104.)
§ MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire,) Eifion
pointed out that he had an Amendment upon the Paper which came before that standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said the next three Amendments were in order, but they all raised, in his opinion, exactly the same point. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife seemed to him to raise the point in a better and fuller manner than the others, and it was within his discretion which Amendment he would receive.
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
said he was not sanguine enough to believe that the Government were prepared to modify, even in non-essential particulars, the structure of their Bill, but if there was an Amendment which the Government could, without doing any violence either to the object or the scheme of the Bill, reasonably be called upon to accept, it was the one he was about to move. The Amendment would not in the least degree hamper the formation or the conduct of the associations which were to be set up under the clause, but merely apply to the constitution and operation of the associations the safeguard Parliament had consistently insisted upon whenever it had intrusted to the Education Department or any other body the expenditure or control of public money. In the few observations with which he was going to trouble the Committee he did 717 not propose to travel over old ground. He would simply remind the Committee that they had two former proposals on this subject which had been rejected. They had first the proposal as to the distribution of funds and the submission of the scheme to Parliament. That Amendment was objected to on various grounds, and, among others, that it might lead to a large multiplication of schemes dealing with small details, as to which the House was not very competent to form an opinion, and that in the form in which they would be presented they might hang up the money for an indefinite time. Then, at a later stage, there was an Amendment that the constitution of these associations should be defined. That was objected to by the First Lord of the Treasury on the ground that it was not desirable to subject the forming of the associations to a series of cast-iron statutory rules—that there should be greater elasticity and greater power of adapting the schemes to each particular case. He thought that was the main ground taken for rejecting the Amendments proposed, and he had endeavoured in the Amendment he was now submitting to meet these objections and to secure for Parliament ultimate and effective control. He proposed to move, in line 16, to leave out "approved by the Education Department," and insert "prescribed by schemes made by the Education Department and published and laid before Parliament in the manner hereinafter provided." It was proposed, first, that these schemes should be published in the London Gazette. He could not conceive upon any principle what objection could be made to that—of giving notice at the earliest moment to the public to enable them to understand the scheme. Then he proposed that, as soon as may be after Parliament meet, or, if it was sitting, the schemes which had been published in the Gazette should be laid on the Table, and if either House within the next 40 days resolved that such schemes ought to be annulled, they should be of no effect. That machinery was taken from the Factory Acts. It would not interpose any unnecessary delay in the distribution of the funds if the schemes were approved. It met entirely the objection of the First Lord of the Treasury that all these associations should not be 718 formed upon the same Procrustean model. It would allow them to adjust a scheme to each particular case. Many Gentlemen opposite would probably agree with him that these schemes should not be left to a Government Department, and that Parliament should retain the power of criticising the constitution and the operations of the body. He did not know whether it was any use making an appeal to the Leader of the House, but he did make an appeal to the common sense and the impartial judgment of hon. Gentlemen opposite whether, if their positions in that House were reversed, and a Liberal Government brought forward a scheme of this kind, placing the expenditure of large sums of money for years in this condition, they would not as one man rise in protest against Parliament being asked to abdicate its functions. The Party opposite was the Constitutional Party, as they called themselves. He did not want to say anything offensive; they were the self-appointed guardians of the Constitution. Why should they object to this Amendment? It did not alter in the least the principle of the Bill, but apparently there was not to be a word or even a comma altered. He did not take any Party view in this matter, but he contended for the time-honoured principle, in which he believed he was joined by the large majority of the Party opposite, that that House should have a voice as to the way in which this money was to be administered. If this Amendment were not carried the constitution of these associations and their areas would be such as were approved by the Education Department. What was the Education Department? ["Hear, hear!"] Or, he might say, who was the Education Department? [Laughter.] They were asked there, to use an expression of Lord Salisbury, to give a blank cheque. [An HON. MEMBER: "No; of the First Lord of the Admiralty."] In whose favour was it to be drawn? Was it to be in favour of the right hon. Gentleman who was the nominal head of the Department? Was he going to be the authority under whose control these schemes were to be drawn, or were they going to witness in the administrative working of this capital Act all power taken away from him and put into other hands? [Cheers.] He was not drawing any invidious comparisons in connection 719 with those into whose hands during the next two months the crucial duties of carrying out the Act would be intrusted. If that were going to be put into commission and withdrawn from the man who was nominally responsible they should have still less power of criticising and controlling these associations. ["Hear, hear!"] In conclusion, he could only say that his Amendment proposed to bring the matter into conformity with the invariable practice of Parliament, and thus provide the only effective means in the future of seeing that the money was not sqaundered or frittered away. He begged to move his Amendment.
[After the usual interval, Mr. GRANT LAWSON (York, N. R., Thirsk) took the Chair.]
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
observed that if hon. Members on his side of the House hesitated to rise to continue the Debate before the Chairman left the Chair, it was because they expected that the Leader of the House would at once reply to the speech of the right hon. Member for East Fife. They did not realise at once the condition of mental paralysis into which the Members of the Government had been thrown by the conclusive and unanswerable arguments of his right hon. Friend. [A laugh.] The Amendment was a very moderate one, and was based on the constitutional principle that Parliament should retain some control over the expenditure of public money. He admitted that the Parliamentary control here designated was not the kind of control which hon. Members on his side of the House thought best, but it would, at any rate, supply some semblance, some shadow, some pretence of an opportunity of discussing some of the many thousand schemes which, he presumed, would be prepared under this Bill. The proposal that schemes should lie on the Tables of both Houses for the usual 40 days was a highly Conservative proposal, and for that reason alone the Government ought to consider it favourably. The Opposition did not ask for this concession from any Party point of view. They had no political object or Party motive in asking for it. In fact, throughout the Debates in Committee hon. Members on his side of the House had not attempted to give 720 a Party, political or religious colour to any of their Amendments. By whom, in the opinion of the Government, were these schemes to be controlled? Did they really intend to throw this vast work upon a body of inexperienced country clergymen and village traders, who would, in many cases, be utterly unfit to perform the work? If so, they ought to have the assistance of a Government Department, or of some other body of persons experienced in the administration of public matters. Clergymen were not suitable persons to administer this money. They were often isolated in remote parishes, where they had lost touch with the administration of public affairs and forgotten much of the experience which they gained at school and college. The Opposition therefore asked that these schemes, before being finally put into execution, should lie upon the Table of the House for the usual Constitutional period, not with a view to oppose them, not with a view to deprive men of money which they believed to be in their grasp, but in order to assist these poor country gentlemen to apply rightly the money voted, so that the greatest amount of good that it was possible to get out of it should be got out of this expenditure. The object of this and other Amendments was to improve this hastily-prepared and ill-considered Measure, and to make the plan of the Government more effective than it would be if it remained unaltered. The object was to make the Measure as beneficial as possible, and to prevent the purpose of its promoters from being nullified by ignorance, mismanagement and incapacity. At present no one knew what these associations were to be. The Opposition only asked that the schemes should be laid on the Table of the House in the usual constitutional manner, that the House might have an opportunity of approving or condemning them.
§ *MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
said that if Her Majesty's Government persisted in opposing the Amendment they would show more than by anything else they had done since the Bill had been in Committee that the belief, which was beginning to prevail, that they intended to resist every Amendment, however necessary or reasonable, was well founded. The Bill proposed to give immense power 721 to the Education Department, which it ought to exercise for itself. If the Amendment were rejected Parliament would be deprived of the opportunity of knowing, in an official way, what had been the result of the exercise by the Education Department of the powers proposed to be given to them. The endowed schools schemes proposed by the Charity Commissioners were laid on the Table, that they might be amended by the House, or set aside. These schemes were small affairs in comparison with the schemes which would be framed under this Bill, which would affect extensive areas, many schools, and very important educational interests. The action of the Government in this matter showed that the party which called itself "the constitutional party" was at times guilty of the most unconstitutional conduct. In resisting the Amendment they would not only damage the interests of education, but aim a blow at the dignity and authority of Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
said the right hon. Member for East Fife had stated that the clause as it stood involved a new departure in Parliamentary procedure, and Parliament would, by it, devolve the control of public money upon an irresponsible body. But there was no new departure whatever, in the sense in which he used the term. Parliament already controlled the expenditure of public money for educational purposes. The conduct of the Education Department was subject to question and control by Parliament, and precisely the same principle was adopted in this Bill. Not only was there no new departure, but, on the contrary, the scheme of the Bill was that the funds should be spent in exactly the same way as all other funds voted by Parliament were expended at the present time—namely, spent by the Education Department, that body being responsible to Parliament for the expenditure. No one doubted that the functions of the new bodies would be advisory and consultative, or had suggested that their powers would include the distribution of the 5s. special grant not subject to the control of Parliament. If that had been proposed it would have been objected to by many supporters of the Government. When it was pointed out that the Bill, instead of being a new departure, followed precedent, what became of the argument of the 722 right hon. Member for East Fife that the Government proposed a new departure which, for the first time, would put the control of funds for educational purposes out of the hands of Parliament?
§ MR. BROADHURST
said the proposed new bodies which the Committee were then discussing would have the spending of large sums.
§ MR. CRIPPS
The hon. Member is entirely wrong. [Cheers.] They would not have the spending of a single penny. All they would have to do would be to advise and consult with the Education Department, and that Department would be as responsible to Parliament for every penny spent under the Bill as they were for the spending of the educational funds they distributed now. ["Hear, hear!"] The Education Department might take the advice of the new bodies or not. If the Education Department were left as the distributing body—and it clearly was under the provisions of the Bill—why was its responsibility one iota less as regarded those funds than as regarded the several millions it already distributed? The responsibility for the expenditure of the funds was given to a body which could really exercise it, which was not Parliament, in a case of this kind, but the Education Department, and that Department ought to be judged by the way it exercised that responsibility. The Education Department had all the official knowledge and all the means of official inquiry. He hoped the Committee would not accept the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR H. FOWLER
said the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken had urged the Goverment to reject the Amendment, and to adhere to the framework of their Bill, so as to stamp it with that air of infallibility which no man denounced more than the First Lord of the Treasury when a certain Bill was before the House in the last Parliament. The hon. and learned Member had several times repeated that there was no new departure in the clause of the Bill under discussion. He himself regretted the tendency among Members who had not long taken part in the deliberations of the House to base their arguments on the assumption that Parliament was really incompetent to exercise the duties that belonged to it—to exercise absolute control over the distribution of public money. 723 [Cheers.] He did not know whether the hon. and learned Member had ever sat through Committee of Supply. But his whole speech was based on a false assumption of the principles upon which Committees of Supply discharged their duties. Committees of Supply existed to control public departments, and he could conceive nothing more fatal to our Constitutional system than that Parliament should vote en bloc a large sum of money to a Department which was to do what it liked with it. Why did the hon. and learned Member not propose this with reference to the Army and Navy, the Home Office, or the Treasury? The Education Department had no discretion in the expenditure of public money. Parliament had prescribed down to the last sixpence the mode in which the Department should spend its money. It had to make its payments uniform with regard to the fee grant and capitation grant, and variable payments as regarded the merit and earned grant. But in every case Parliament had kept power in its own hands, and the Education Department could not spend a shilling without the direct control of Parliament, which was exercised through its head. The doctrine of the hon. Member with regard to the control of Parliament over the expenditure of public money was the most unconstitutional he had ever heard.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to misunderstand him. The purport of his speech was that Parliament would have control in this as in other cases.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
said that was the position he was contradicting. He hoped the hon. Member, his friends, and the Press—which did not seem to quite appreciate the fact—would take note that this money was not absolutely fixed by an Act of Parliament, but was to be voted annually by, and would be under the control of, the House. [Mr. CRIPPS: "Hear, hear!"] But the hon. Member proposed that the House should abnegate its control. There was no new departure in what his right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife proposed, but there was in what the Government proposed. If the Government had stated in the Bill how these associations were to be formed, the areas in which they were to work—if they had defined the powers with which they were to be invested, and pointed out the 724 exact way in which the governing bodies were to be elected, he was willing to admit it would not have been necessary to propose an Amendment of this sort. It would have been sufficient to have said that such a scheme should be approved by the Education Department. But no intentions of Parliament were disclosed in the clause. If associations and schools were constituted it did not say by whom or in what manner or areas. These things were left undefined, and no two Members could say what these areas would be. They ran from a million to quite a small population. The whole evening had been occupied in discussing who were to constitute the governing bodies, and the Law Officers of the Crown gave no indication of what their construction of the clause was. An absolutely blank cheque was given to the Education Department. But if the Education Department was responsible let it draw the necessary rules and regulations, that there might not be one rule for Norfolk, another for Devonshire, and a third for Yorkshire; one rule for one denomination and another for another. Let them administratively prescribe what were to be the general lines on which the associations were to be formed, where they were to work, and what governing bodies were to be constituted to represent them. All they asked was that Parliament should have the opportunity of disapproval. He thought it extremely probable that what the Education Department would do would receive the approval of Parliament as a general rule. The hon. and learned Member said this was a new departure.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said the right hon. Gentleman had misapprehended him. He said that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said that the proposal of the Government was a new departure, but that it was not.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
said he had heard the hon. and learned Member say with repeated emphasis that his right hon. Friend was wrong in saying this was a new departure, but he had waited in vain for him to give an illustration from any Act of Parliament by which Parliament had delegated such powers before and at the same time abdicated its own. There was no such precedent in the Welsh Intermediate Act, in all the schemes of the endowed schools, or in all the succession of Education Acts. If the right hon. 725 Gentleman opposite was perfectly impervious upon this point, if no one else did, he should put down a clause to see whether he would follow the ipsissima verba of the Act of 1876. It was no good attempting to throw dust in each others' eyes. [Cheers.] What was the real reason why all Amendments were refused? [Cheers.] Why was this Bill to be stamped with the infallibility of inspiration, and to be laid on the Table of the House like the two tables of stone from the Mount, which were incapable of improvement or alteration? It was one of the most impracticable ideas of Parliamentary controversy that something was to be saved by avoiding the Report stage of this Bill. He had had some little experience of fighting on both sides of the House as to Bills of a contested character, and he did not shrink from saying that the right hon. Gentleman had lost more time already than the Report stage would have taken by the impression he had given, but which he hoped was unfounded, that there was an attempt to avoid the legitimate stage of review of Amendments made to the Bill. He was satisfied the right hon. Gentleman was not gaining time, and a great deal of time had been wasted—[Ministerial cheers]—he said that advisedly—by the action of the First Lord of the Treasury. [Opposition cheers.] If, in the language which had been addressed to himself two or three years ago, the right hon. Gentleman had wanted to facilitate the progress of the Bill, the Government would have shown themselves ready to accept Amendments and shown themselves conciliatory towards the Opposition. If the right hon. Gentleman had met them in that spirit they should by that time have very nearly emerged from those portions of the Bill which were controversial and Party, anal got to those sections which were purely administrative, and in regard to which, after the principle had been once declared, he thought that side of the House would have joined with the other in endeavouring to make good and efficient. They had been met, however, in a totally different spirit—with no argument—[Ministerial cries of "Oh!"]—and with an absolute negative. Here was an Amendment moved on high grounds by his right hon. Friend the Member for Fife, who, he thought, was not guilty of wasting the 726 time of the House on frivolous Amendments, and no notice was taken of it. The Chairman was on the point of putting the Question without a word having been said in reply, and would have done so if the Debate had not been kept up on that side of the House. That was a course which was, he thought, as unprecedented as it was unwise. He supposed it was useless to appeal to the Government to listen to any Amendment, but he must record his protest not only against the manner in which this Bill was being conducted, but against the unconstitutional manner of the procedure which was being adopted. [Cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he did not propose to occupy the Committee at any length with discussing that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which dealt with the method the Government had adopted in dealing with the Amendments which had been put forward during the eight or nine, or more, Parliamentary nights which had already been occupied. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted them with not adopting any Amendment in order that they might escape the Report stage. He frankly admitted that, after his experience of the Committee stage, he had no passionate desire to go through the same thing on the Report stage. [Laughter.] He must honestly and sincerely say to the Committee, and to anybody else who cared to hear the avowal, that there had not been a single Amendment proposed on the other side which, in his judgment, and exercising such an impartial estimate as he was capable of forming—[ironical Opposition cheers]—which would have been an improvement to the Bill. [Ministerial cheers.] Hon. Members opposite might think he was not a fair judge. [Opposition cheers.] Very likely; but, after all, he could only judge to the best of his ability—["hear, hear!"]—and hon. Members opposite would hardly expect him to take their opinion as conclusive upon so interesting a subject. His experience in conducting opposed Bills of all sorts through that House was not inconsiderable—he did not think it fell short even of that of the right hon. Gentleman who sat opposite, and who had with conspicuous ability dealt with a very great Measure in that House. His own experience was that there were Bills in regard to which something was gained 727 even by yielding their better judgment to the Opposition, and by accepting what they thought a worse form of words, rather than adhering to their own, and that without much detriment to the symmetry of the Statute Book. There were other Bills in regard to which concession was only regarded as a mark of weakness on the part of the Government—[cheers]—and was only treated as a new vantage ground for obstruction. [Cheers.] In which of those categories that Bill fell he left it to the impartial spectators of their Debate, if such there were, to form judgment. Though he should certainly not resist an Amendment to this Bill which he regarded as an improvement, he must honestly confess that he thought nothing would be gained in the progress of business by substituting what they regarded as an inferior, or even equal, form of words for those they had themselves devised. He would pass from that episodical matter and come direct to the merits of the Amendment. If the Amendment were passed it would lie with the Education Department to initiate the form of the scheme which each of those associations was to adopt. Under the Bill in all probability the initiative in regard to the constitution of the associations would lie with the schools forming the associations. ["Hear, hear!"] The schools would form themselves voluntarily into a body; they would frame some kind of scheme for their self-government; they would lay that scheme before the Education Department; and if the Education Department were of opinion that under that scheme the association represented the managers of the schools, they would in all probability approve of it, and the association in question would rank as one qualified by statute to advise the Department. But if the Amendment were adopted all that would be changed. The Education Department would have thrown upon them, in addition to the burdens already cast upon them by the Bill, the burden of framing for each district of the country, possibly for each denomination of the country, some kind of constitution which would suit the peculiar necessities, wishes, and prejudices of the body with which they had to deal. That was a burden which he was unwilling to throw upon the Education Department. ["Hear, hear!"] But that was not the 728 main objection to the Amendment. What would the consequences be, so far as the House was concerned, if the Amendment were passed? No one could say, with any approach to certainty, how many associations would be formed within the limits of England and Wales for the purpose of carrying out the Act; but considering that there were at least three great denominations which had a large number of Voluntary Schools in their charge, and considering the area of the country concerned, he supposed—his estimate was a mere shot—there would be 60 or 70. [An HON. MEMBER: "Five hundred."] An hon. Friend said "Five hundred." He trusted that was an overestimate. At all events, the number must be considerable, and he could not forecast what it would be. But was the House willing to take upon itself the discussion of all those schemes which would be brought forward? There was no more intolerable burden cast upon Members of the House than the exacting and arduous work of sitting up after 12 o'clock till some indefinite hour of the morning, not at the bidding of the Government responsible to the majority of the House, but at the bidding of any single Member of the House, in order to discuss some local scheme, some matter of purely local interest. ["Hear, hear!"] Members groaned under the burden that existing legislation imposed upon them in that regard. But what would it be if every scheme of the Roman Catholic associations, the Anglican associations, the Wesleyan associations, and the "mix'emgather'em" associations—[laughter]— were open to discussion in the House after midnight—["hear, hear!"]—and if any hon. Gentleman locally interested in an association had the power to require them, with their necessarily imperfect knowledge—under the conditions imposed upon them when dealing with these large subjects, week after week, month after month—to discuss the schemes brought forward by the Education Department? [Cheers.] He frankly admitted that there was another difficulty which tended to influence those who had the conduct of the business of the House. Were the Government to be responsible for each of those schemes? When he first entered the House, any scheme sanctioned by the Charity Commissioners or by the Education Department became, 729 ipso facto, a Government Measure, and a majority was kept in the House until the question was settled. That had been altered within the past few years; but the point was revived by this Amendment, and he deprecated, on the part of the Government of which he was a Member, and also in the interest of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who hoped some day to be in a position to form a Government, this proposed addition to the labours and responsibilities of the Government. But it might be thought that they ought not to rest their objection to the Amendment simply on grounds connected with their own personal ease and convenience. [Opposition cheers.] He agreed. He thought their personal ease and convenience, considering how much time they had to devote to the public service, was not a matter to be despised; but still it was not a conclusive consideration in dealing with an Amendment of that class. He therefore came to the substantial argument which right hon. Gentlemen opposite had urged in opposition to the proposal in the Bill. But in one word, the objection of the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Fife and Wolverhampton came to this—are you going to tolerate in this Bill so violent a departure from established Parliamentary procedure as to give to a department of State uncontrolled power in dealing with the expenditure of public money? In the first place, he would observe that every year this £620,000, or whatever the sum might be required under the Bill, would have to be voted by the House of Commons. [Cheers.] When the money was voted, those who were responsible for it would have to answer to the House. [Cheers.] To say that the Department which was to answer for that expenditure was not responsible to the House was in itself so inconsistent a doctrine that he was amazed that those who advocated it should have the courage to accuse their opponents of being neglectful of constitutional tradition. [Cheers.] But already the House of Commons had handed over to the County Councils, with no Parliamentary control—[cheers]—a sum of money far in excess of that now concerned. They had at this moment practically unhampered control. [Cries of "No."]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Yes, but there is no control by this House. [Cheers.] In 1888 the House of Commons handed over to the County Councils, without even saying that the money was to be used for technical education—without even determining that primary matter—a far larger sum than was now being dealt with. And no later Parliament had any ordinary or constiutional opportunity of reviewing the decisions to which the County Councils might come.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that if the hon. Gentleman had listened to the two speeches from his own Front Bench, he would have learnt that the question in dispute was one of Parliamentary control alone. [Cheers.] There was no Parliamentary control over the destination of the money given to the County Councils. It was given by one Parliament, and could not be reviewed by another; and, unlike this proposed grant, which must be voted every year, and so give the House every year an occasion of reviewing the action of the Education Department, that money was handed over to local authorities outside the control of Parliament. [Cheers.] If the sound constitutional doctrine were that every penny of public money was to be spent under the supervision of the House, then the Bill under discussion sinned against Parliamentary precedent incomparably less than the Government Measure of 1888. But that was not all. Though the Committee would not guess the fact from the speeches to which they had just listened, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman did nothing whatever to absolve the House for its constitutional sin, to cure its lapse from Parliamentary precedent, to preserve the control of Parliament. [Cheers.] The Amendment dealt, not with the body which had to spend the money, but with the bodies which had to advise about the expenditure. It left absolutely uncontrolled and untouched the discretion of the body which had to spend the money. [Cheers.] Nothing could be more exquisitely absurd than to say that constitutional orthodoxy was maintained by giving Parliament control over the constitution of the associations which advised, while the control of the Department, whenever it acted 731 against the advice of the associations and irrespective of and outside associations, was untouched. Supposing that there were 100 schools in an association, and 100 schools which, for reasons satisfactory to the Department, had refused to form an association, the former would, if the Amendment were carried, be subject to the assent of Parliament as to the constitution of their association. But if Parliament refused its assent what would happen? The schools would simply decline to form an association. There was nothing in the Bill about unreasonably refusing to form an association, though there was something about unreasonably refusing to join an association which was formed. If, with respect to a great district like Lancashire, the House of Commons were to refuse to accept the constitution of the Anglican schools' association, and if the schools were thereupon to refuse to form an association, there would be no remedy under the Bill.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that they would get their money through the action of the Education Department. [Sir H. FOWLER: "By the Act of Parliament."] The Amendment did not touch that. There was nothing in the Amendment to give the House of Commons control over the expenditure by the Education Department apart from associations. [Mr. YOXALL: "The Code!"] There was nothing about the Code in the Amendment.
§ MR. YOXALL
said that in the case supposed, the Education Department would put the conditions of the expenditure in the Code which came before Parliament year by year.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that the Amendment did not deal at all with the Code, and there was no ground for supposing that the expenditure would be put in the Code. The arguments for this Amendment had been entirely beside the point. The Amendment was uniformly defended on the 732 ground that Parliament ought to control the expenditure of public money, and the Amendment did not help Parliament to do so. All it did was to throw upon Parliament a burden which it was very illfitted to bear—that of dealing seriatim with the constitution of every association—while leaving unfettered and untouched the discretion given to the Department by the Bill for the purpose of the distribution of the money. Therefore the Amendment, good or bad, did not carry out the objects of those who proposed it. It gave to Parliament no control which it would not otherwise possess over the expenditure of public money, and the Education Department was left the absolute master of the situation as far as the associations were concerned, and the absolute servant of Parliament as far as the expenditure of the money was concerned. [Cheers.] For these reasons, which he had given at greater length than he was accustomed to on this Bill—[cheers and counter cheers]—he hoped the Committee would reject an Amendment which would throw a heavy burden on the House without adding to its powers, and, while hampering the Education Department, would add nothing to the responsibility which that Department justly owed to Parliament. [Cheers.]
§ MR. ACLAND
said not one single Amendment had been proposed which, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, would be an improvement in the Bill. Standing as he did as the late Education Minister, he could not help saying that he wished he had the opinion on all those Amendments of the representative of education in this House. [Cheers.] It was, indeed, hard upon any one who had been Minister of Education, that he should be placed in this position, that the Education Minister during all these Debates was as though he were dead or had lost his seat, and that neither by argument nor appeal were they able to extract from him, the responsible Minister, an opinion on the various questions which 733 were brought before the House on this Bill; such a situation was almost unprecedented. He hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would not consider him impertinent if he said he did not attach as much importance to his opinion as he should attach to it if it were the opinion of the Ministerial representative of the Education Department. [Cheers.] The argument used by the right hon. Gentleman towards the close of his speech did not seem to carry very great weight. If the Department refused to give the money to a school outside the association, that school would get no money at all. If the Department, on its responsibility, gave the money direct to a school lying outside the association, at any rate there they touched the Department and the Department alone. But what the Opposition asked was this, that, if, as they knew, the authors of the Bill desired that in almost every case a school should be brought under an association—or else it would probably be ruled out altogether as unreasonable—then the associations should be brought under the cognisance of Parliament. And, as to the argument that the County Councils were under no Parliamentary control with regard to the expenditure of the technical education money, he pointed out that that money was handed over to them because they were representative bodies. They never dared to give it except to a representative body.
§ MR. ACLAND
said the hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well, first of all, that they had got rid of quarter sessions in that connection; and, secondly, that the great grants of the present First Lord of the Admiralty when Chancellor of the Exchequer were made after the foundation of county councils. The House of Commons had a right to know to some extent what would be the nature of the bodies, which were not elected bodies, who would have the administration of the money 734 provided by this Bill. Regulations should be made which should regulate broadly the constitution of these associations. These regulations could be put into two or three pages without the slightest difficulty. What was the Code itself? It was only a code of regulations for day schools. What was it they asked the Government to lay before the House of Commons? The regulations for the associations by whose advice or on whose sanction this money was to be voted to day schools. Therefore it would be perfectly appropriate that these matters should form part of the existing School Code. If a discussion should be raised on the subject after Twelve o'clock that would not be unreasonable. If once the regulations were discussed and searched out by the House bringing to bear its opinion upon them, and upon the Minister of the day, of course, the regulations would be modified in accordance with that opinion, and in the following year there would probably be no Debate at all. The idea of continual Debates after Twelve o'clock was a mere figment of the imagination, there would not be more discussions of the kind than there had been on the Education Code for the last 20 years, for the regulations would very soon conform to the view expressed by Parliament. Then the Committee had been told this could be done on the Estimates, that there was full power of debating every grant made by Parliament, and that the Education Department and the action of the Minister could be overhauled on Class 4 of the Estimates. But what would Members think of a proposition to abolish the Code for a like reason? Fortunately that could not be done, the law did not allow it, but such a proposal would be analogous to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. How would a proposal be received to discuss the educational system involving the expenditure of seven millions, on a Motion for the reduction of the salary of the Vice President? But that would be exactly on all fours with the suggestion made. The real guardianship of the 735 seven millions was in the articles of the Code, the Code that could be and would be changed any year if there was anything unsatisfactory in it. A Debate on the Estimates could do something, but the Code could do a great deal more, and what the Committee were asked to adopt was a proposal to make the expenditure of this large sum something like an annexe to the Code, whereby the provisions for association should be brought up with the Code every year in order that Parliament should retain that constitutional power it hitherto had held.
§ *MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
thought there would be no disposition on that side of the House to press very urgently the Amendment now under discussion if it were not for the absolutely vague and unknown character of the associations to whom were to be intrusted the distribution of these large sums of money. If they knew what these associations were, as they knew, for instance, what County Councils were, if they knew how they would be called into existence, and how, approximately, they were to be composed, he should feel that there was some guarantee as to the mode in which the money was going to be expended. But there was no such guarantee. The Committee had been discussing this Bill for eight or nine nights, as the First Lord had said in a tone of reproach, but during that time they had derived uncommonly little information from the Front Bench. There had been rather more to-night, and for this he was grateful. The First Lord had opposed the Amendment on two grounds. In the first place, he said that the right hon. Member for Fife was mistaken in asserting that the Bill was contrary to Parliamentary precedent; and, secondly, he asserted that the Amendment would be ineffective for its intended purpose. When the right hon. Gentleman tried to show that the Bill was not contrary to precedent, the only precedent he was able to cite was that of the grants made to County Councils and the "drink money." It was a great pity the Councils did receive the money without control, and they would not have so received 736 it if legislation had not miscarried, if the Government had not had a large sum of money to get rid of somehow, and then handed it over to the Councils in a lordly manner, saying, "Do what you like with it." That would not have been done but for Parliamentary exigencies, and experience of that legislation had not been satisfactory. A great many Members on both sides of the House would be prepared to admit that the expenditure of the grants referred to had been largely wasteful, and that it would have been far better if some rules had been prescribed by Parliament, some check imposed by Parliament as to the purposes to which these grants were to be devoted. As to the Amendment not being effective, as touching only the constitution of the spending bodies, and not the actual expenditure, surely, if you affect the constitution of the spending authority you go a long way towards affecting expenditure also? Every detail of this enormous expenditure all over the country could not, of course, be brought before the House, but some security could be taken that it should be properly administered, and it was just this the Amendment provided. Then it was said the unassociated schools would not be touched by the Amendment. Of these unassociated schools part would be those who refused unreasonably to associate and these would receive no money, and those who reasonably refused would receive so much per head of scholars in attendance, and the conditions might be prescribed in the Code; there would be no difficulty about that. The right hon. Gentleman said the initiation of the formation of associations would probably lie with the schools of the country, and that seemed to show that the Department was not going to direct the formation of these associations, so that the process of formation would be more chaotic, more "fluid" than had been supposed. It would be far better if the Education Department undertook this great and responsible work of brigading the schools that 737 had to be formed into an association. They had not been told how many of those associations would be formed, and he thought it was time that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues came to some conclusion as to how this great scheme was going to be worked. This was a question which ought not to be trifled with. The Committee ought to have received from the Government a clear statement as to the way in which the associations were to be brought into existence, how they were to be constituted, and what were the powers they were to exercise. Because no such information had been vouchsafed they demanded that Parliament should have some control in this great question. [Ministerial cries of "Divide!"]
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 249; Noes, 101.—(Division List, No. 105.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 256; Noes, 103.—(Division List, No. 106.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I beg to move "That the words of the clause down to the word 'at' in line 19—["(a) a share of the aid grant to be computed according to the number of scholars in the schools of the association at']—stand part of the clause." [Ministerial cheers.]
§ Question put, "That the Question 'That the words of the clause to the word "at," in line 19, stand part of the clause,' be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 256; Noes, 102.—(Division List, No. 107.)738
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words of the Clause to the word 'at,' in line 19, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 260; Noes, 97.—(Division List, No. 108.)
§ MR. DILLON
moved, in paragraph (a) Sub-section (3), after the word "association," to insert the words" and to the needs of the association." The hon. Member observed that in a subsequent Amendment he proposed to omit the words "at the rate of five shillings per scholar." The object of his Amendment, he said, was to leave to the Education Department the same discretion as between association and association as the Bill had already conferred on the Department as between school and school. A previous Sub-section set forth that the moneyshall be distributed by the Education Department in such manner and amounts as the Department think best for the purpose of helping necessitous schools and increasing their efficiency.When speaking on that part of the Bill the First Lord of the Treasury said that it would be a gross waste of public money if the Department were obliged to give 5s. per head to every school without regard to whether they were necessitous or not. The right hon. Gentleman also said he hoped the effect of the Bill would be that some schools would get a great deal more than 5s., some 5s., some less, and a good many nothing at all. But when, in this latter portion of the Bill, provision was made for dividing the money between the different associations which might be formed, they found the Department was deprived of discretion in allocating the money as was best, according to its judgment, to necessitous schools. He was anxious to hear on what ground the Government would justify such a departure from the principle of the Bill. Assume that the unit of this association was to be the number of schools associated, and that the average number of each association was 200 739 schools. There would probably be two different associations, covering the same area, belonging to different denominations. Suppose there were two associations containing each 200 schools, that in one of these associations every school was extremely necessitous, while in the other association only 50 per cent. of the schools were necessitous, half being schools which, if the Department had discretion in the distribution of the money, such as was given by Sub-section 2, would receive none of the aid grant at all. What happened, however, according to the Bill as it stood, was, that the Department had no discretion between the two associations, and therefore they could only give the poor association, with its 200 necessitous schools, the same amount that they gave to the comparatively rich association, where there were only 100 necessitous schools, and those, perhaps, not nearly so necessitous as the 200. That was a manifest injustice. There was one other point. He asked the First Lord of the Treasury the other day how the compulsory portion of the clause was to be worked with regard to the formation of an association. The objection he sought to remove by the Amendment would assume smaller proportions if it were made clear that there was to be no compulsion on any body of schools to form an association if they preferred to deal directly with the Department. In some districts, such as the City of London and the South of England, Catholic schools were extremely necessitous, and would much prefer, if left alone, to deal directly with the Department, for the simple reason that they would get more than 5s. as special aid grant, being able to show they were extremely necessitous. If it were made clear that any Catholic schools could stand out of the associations and deal directly with the Department, that would modify his views as to the inability of the Department to distinguish between association and association in considering the relative necessities of the schools.
§ *LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
said that, speaking in the interests of Catholic schools, the Amendment appeared to him to strike directly 740 at the existence of the principles on which the associations were to be formed. It was true that it appeared to favour an association composed entirely of poor schools as against associations which combined both rich and poor. But he very much doubted its practical effect. It would not materially aid what the schools in a Catholic association would already get under the Bill. This Bill in itself was not accepted by the Catholics as in any case meeting their just demands. It in no sense gave them that equality of treatment which they considered they had a right to demand. But, so far as the Bill went, it was, in the opinion of Catholics, a good Bill. There was no harm in it. For this reason they did not want to delay the Bill from passing into law, but wished it to become law as speedily as possible.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
said he wished to support the observations of the noble Lord who had just spoken. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed to a division. The arrangements of the Bill were much more calculated to serve the interests of the Catholic body in this country generally than the Amendment, and if the matter were discussed at all it would suit the interests of Catholics much better to have the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Somerset, which dealt with the same subject-matter in a better way, and would have a better chance of success in the House, seeing the quarter from which it came. The Amendment of the hon. Member for East Mayo would not serve the interests of Catholic schools, but would militate against them. The division between the amount to be paid for the urban schools and the amount for the rural schools would enable Catholic schools to gain, to a certain extent, an advantage beyond anything the Amendment of the hon. Member for Mayo would be likely to secure for it.
And, it being Midnight, the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again To-morrow.