§ "(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
784 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."
§ Amendment proposed, in Paragraph (a), Sub-section (3), after the word "association," to insert the words "and to the needs of the association."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."—Debate resumed.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon) Boroughs
asked, as a point of order, whether this Amendment would preclude that of the hon. Member for East Somerset from being moved? The Amendment was to the effect that "in the case of any association the Department, in view of the special circumstances of the schools of that association, or the majority of them," ——might "fix a different rate for that association."
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Penrith
said it would preclude the hon. Member from raising the same question again.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he could not support the Amendment of the hon. 785 Member for East Mayo, because, in their Amendments to the Bill, he and his hon. Friends took exactly the opposite view, which was that all schools ought to be treated alike. But the hon. Member for East Mayo went beyond the principle of the Bill. The associations were really not advisory boards; they were initiatory boards for the purpose of distinguishing between one school and another. The hon. Member, however, wished to distinguish, not merely between one school and another, but between one association and another. His Amendment would enable the Education Department and the associations to give a larger proportion of this grant to one district, or to one diocese, rather than to another. Districts where the voluntary subscriptions were particularly low would be benefited at the expense of districts where voluntary subscriptions happened to be high. Take the case of London and Manchester. In London the subscriptions were above the average; but in Lancashire, the home of the Voluntary Schools, the voluntary subscriptions did not amount to one-third of the average throughout the country. The result of the Amendment would be that the Catholic or Anglican Voluntary Schools in London would be deprived of a fair proportion of the money which now must be allocated to them under the Bill for the purpose of making up the deficiency created by the neglect or failure of the subscribers in Lancashire to do their duty towards their schools. The Amendment was also unfair as between one denomination and another. How, for instance would it affect Wesleyan schools? The Roman Catholics would bring pressure to bear upon the Education Department. They would point to those schools as supported by rich churches, and attended by the children of the middle classes, and would say that their friends could afford to keep them up. On the other hand they would point to the poor population who supported Catholic schools, and would therefore insist, if these words were imported into the Bill, that the Wesleyan Association should be deprived of its share for the purpose of making up the deficiency with the Roman Catholic Association. That was perfectly unfair. ["Hear, hear!"] The Bill as it stood was bad enough as between one parish and another, between 786 one area and another; it was simply a reward to subscribers who had failed to do their duty. The hon. Member for Mayo proposed further to reward them, not merely by robbing another area, but by robbing another creed. They had too much inequality as between creeds; he did not think it ought to be perpetuated or aggravated. The whole Bill was tainted with unfairness as between denominations and creeds. This proposal simply aggravated and intensified it, and because it was unjust he objected to it.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
thought the present Amendment was unacceptable because the effect would be to strike out all reference to what he might call the normal rate of aid, and to leave the Education Department without any guide whatever in the matter. Those who had been contending for the liberty of action of the Department would hesitate to go quite as far as that. It was clear that the Department must have some guide, and they must retain the reference to the standard of 5s. If they did that there were still three courses open to them. They might fix that rate as the universal rate, and there was a good deal to be said for that course, which would remove great difficulties in the way of the Education Department, and give to a school joining an association a sense of assurance that it would at once have a right to the standard rate of aid. But he gathered that it was the view of the Government that there should be some power of discrimination in the Education Department so as to fit their administration to the needs of the different parts of the country. They, however, proposed only to give a very limited power of discrimination—namely, between town and country. Such a rule must work unfairly as between different parts of the country. It was quite true that many town schools were more expensive than country schools, but, on the other hand, it was equally true that many small country schools required a larger amount of money to work them properly than would be required for the education of the same number of children in a more crowded area. That principle had been already recognised in the existing Code. It would not be fair, for instance, to fix the same rate of aid for an association in the wealthier part of the West End of London and for one in the poorer 787 parts of the East End. Nor would it be at all equitable to give the same rate to schools in the poor country districts of Cumberland and Wales and to the wealthy districts of Surrey. He therefore put forward the view which he had embodied in his Amendment—that, if there was to be discrimination at all in the Education Department, it must be a much wider discrimination, and must turn on the special circumstances of the different associations in the different localities. If the Government said it was impossible to carry out such a form of discrimination, they would be driven, in argument at all events, to have no discrimination at all. It would be difficult to maintain that the towns had such a superior claim to aid that it would be fair and equitable to fix different rates for them as against the country. He suggested to the Committee that, if they wanted to avoid the difficulty of discrimination, they should not give the Department power to distinguish between different associations, but should allow the discrimination to take place within the somewhat narrow confines of the associations themselves.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
said he gathered his hon. Friend's view to be that there ought to be no discrimination exercised by the Department as between association and association.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
said he had embodied his views in an Amendment on the Paper giving wide power of discrimination; but he said that, if the Department could not carry out such a power, they would be driven to have no discrimination at all.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
observed that, in his judgment, it would not be proper or possible to give the Education Department the discrimination proposed either in the Amendment under discussion or in the much better, but still unacceptable, Amendment standing in the name of his hon. Friend. The responsibility of requiring the Education Department to distinguish between the needs of associations in bulk was so onerous, the pressure put upon them would be of so formidable a kind, that he did not think it would be fair to subject them or any other Government Department to the sort of influences with which they would have to deal. Therefore, though 788 he thought there might be some automatic discrimination as between association and association on the lines suggested at the end of paragraph (b), he did not think any further form of discrimination ought to be entertained.
§ MR. REGINALD MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
said he could not understand the view adopted by the First Lord of the Treasury. Throughout the discussions the right hon. Gentleman had maintained the advantage of being vague; but here was an occasion when the right hon. Gentleman was precise when he ought to have been vague. The Leader of the House had argued that relief should be varied according to the needs of the schools. If he would take as the unit for relief not the school, but the association, every argument which he had used was applicable to the Amendment. Why should not the association instead of the school be the unit? The right hon. Gentleman maintained that it was impossible to give greater relief to the more necessitous associations than to the less necessitous schools. This was not a question affecting the Catholic schools, but it would affect all the Voluntary Schools in the Division of Monmouthshire which he represented. There were there no less than 60 small Voluntary Schools, and all required special relief when compared with the Voluntary Schools of a larger character, but under the Bill as it stood they would be restricted to the 5s. grant. It had been suggested by the hon. Member for East Somerset that it would be difficult to carry out the terms of this Amendment. Under Sub-clause 4 the share was to be allotted to each association, and was to be distributed by the Education Department according to a scheme laid down by that association. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Mayo were carried the association would still present to the Education Department a scheme under which the money was to be distributed, but they would not have as a right a claim to the total amount to be given to the association in accordance with the scheme. There might be an excess or a diminished amount allotted, and the only thing that would happen would be that the particular amount allotted to each school would be raised or diminished in proportion to the total amount allotted 789 by the Education Department to the particular association. There was absolutely no difficulty in practice in making the discrimination between the associations.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said the word "necessitous" was very vague, and there was great danger of apathetic managers being rewarded under the provisions of this Bill, and therefore this money should be divided among the associations as fairly as possible. In Northumberland and Durham they were in a somewhat different position from that of any other portion of the United Kingdom. There about 606 Voluntary Schools, and 27 per cent. of them were schools in which no dogma whatever was taught. These were schools other than Church of England and Roman Catholic schools. Now whether there was any ground for this belief or not, it certainly existed in the North of England, namely, that the Government were proposing to give this aid grant to Voluntary Schools, not so much for the promotion of the efficiency of education as to endow religion. That being so, it was only natural that the managers of the Voluntary Schools he was alluding to—the 160 schools where no dogma was taught—anticipated that they were likely to receive a very little share of this aid grant, although many of these schools were very necessitous. On that ground he felt that he would be obliged to vote against this Amendment. There ought to be, he thought also, no increased latitude given to the Education Department with regard to the distribution of this grant. The Committee had arranged that Parliament should not control the Education Department with regard to its discretion in the spending of this money, and therefore that was another ground why they should not extend to the Education Department further elasticity and power in regard to the distribution of the grant. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
confessed to feeling a good deal of sympathy with Mr. Dillon's Amendment, although he should have preferred that in the name of the hon. Member for East Somerset (Mr. Hobhouse) which put matter a little more definitely. The hon. Member's proposal was that the general 790 rule should be that associations should receive a 5s. grant all round, but that certain exceptions should be permitted in the discretion of the Education Department. The Amendment they were discussing left the whole thing entirely open, and laid down no formal rule at all. Still a good deal might be said for it. As they were giving this money, it ought to go to the most deserving schools, and the schools that would be most likely to benefit if the Amendment were carried would be those of the smaller Nonconformist bodies and of the Roman Catholics. He had a good deal of sympathy with both of these classes. In the first place, unlike some other schools, both rested upon the support of the small subscriber. They were not schools run by a wealthy person, or by a few wealthy persons. Nobody could say of them—"This is my school." Nobody could manage them or control the teachers in them, as was done where schools were practically owned by a few individuals or by one. In the next place, the schools the smaller Nonconformist bodies virtually served in the districts where they existed as Board Schools. That was to say that in many districts where there was no School Board or Board School these schools served the needs of all the Nonconformist population, as they taught no definite dogma, and were very open and liberal in their organisation. Then, as to the Catholic schools, the money was found, in almost all cases, with much difficulty, and they served a need which all recognised. Judged by the real test as to whether a Voluntary School was demanded by the people—the test as to whether the people using it were willing to subscribe to maintain it—it would be found in every case that the Catholic schools were needed. He believed they would exist in almost every case if no grant whatsoever were given, and they had to be supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions. ["Hear, hear!"] Therefore, both because they rested on a popular basis and because they served a really important public need, these two classes of schools deserved their sympathy, and he hoped a certain amount of favour would be extended to them by the Bill. The Leader of the House, while opposing the Amendment, had pointed to paragraph (b) of Clause 1, and he 791 appeared to indicate that the money which might be available under it—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he desired to explain that he had inadvertently referred to Sub-section (b)—"a corresponding share" to be allotted to associations "of any sum which may be available out of the aid grant after distribution has been made to unassociated schools"—whereas he had meant to refer to the last part of paragraph (a).
§ MR. SCOTT
accepted the correction, but said the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were so extremely relevant to paragraph (b) that he would ask a question in regard to it. In paragraph (b) it was provided that the money which was not allotted to schools on the ground that they did not associate where they ought to have associated, should be at the disposal of the Education Department for further distribution after the 5s. grant. He did not observe in that paragraph any restriction to the particular association from which the money might be derived. In paragraph (a), on the other hand, it was stated definitely that the money should be distributed within that association. It therefore seemed as if what might be called the fine-money under paragraph (b) would be available for distribution among the other associations. That, no doubt, would make the fine very much more bitter and much more effective, and he asked the First Lord to state whether it would be possible to distribute the money so available to necessitous associations other than the associations from which the fines were collected.
§ MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said this proposal had been repudiated on behalf of the English Catholics by the noble Lord opposite and by the hon. Member for Donegal, E., and under these circumstances he saw no reason for a variation from the principle proposed by the Government. The Wesleyans had carefully thought out the matter and come to the conclusion that there was no other rational and equitable means of dealing with the question than an equal division all round of the 5s. aid grant to every child.
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
, who was received with Ministerial cries of "Divide!" thought that if they could not give on the merits of the individual school, they should give on the 792 merits of the association. Therefore, he should support the Amendment. No doubt money might be taken away from Protestant schools and given to Catholic schools, but they were unable to discriminate, and if money were taken away from Nonconformist schools he would rather give it to the Catholics than to the so-called Church of England, whose doctrines were undistinguishable from those of the other.
§ Question put. The Committee divided:—Ayes, 43; Noes, 350.—(Division List, No. 110.)
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
moved, in paragraph (a) Sub-section (3) to leave out the word "five" and to insert the word "four." He said he recollected that the Committee had already decided that there should be a grant of 5s. per scholar, but the present sub-section dealt with the allotment of the money to the associations, and he thought that before the Committee decided to allot the sum of 5s. per scholar they ought to have some explanation of the necessity for this allotment at all. The distribution was to be made by the Education Department under the advice of the associations, and he failed to see what was the object of this proposed allotment. So far as he could see, there was no reason why any association under the Bill should have any kind of vested right or interest in the money voted. If only 4s., or about £480,000 were allotted, one-fifth of the money, or about £120,000, would be left in the hands of the Education Department for them to distribute themselves, in the words of the Bill, "in such manner and in such areas as they approve." The result of the adoption of his Amendment would be that the associations would have an absolute right to four-fifths of the money, and there would remain to the Education Department one-fifth, as to the distribution of which the Department would have some kind of discretion. The ultimate destination of the money would be the same.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he could hardly believe that the hon. Gentleman was serious in moving the Amendment. The House had determined by large majorities that the grant was to be 5s. To leave to the discretion of the Education Department the distri- 793 bution of one-fifth of the money would compel them to go through each one of the Voluntary Schools in the country in precisely the manner which the whole scheme of associations was designed to meet.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that the associations were not to have the power of distributing the money. They were to have allotted to them a fixed sum for the purpose of recommendation.
§ MR. J. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
supported the Amendment. He believed that once a scheme had been formulated it would remain unchanged, and so the associations would be able, practically, to carry out their own policy. It was very desirable that the Education Department should have the hold on the associations which the power of the purse would confer.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
, who rose to move in paragraph (a) Sub-section (3) to leave out from the word "scholar" to the end of the paragraph.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molten)
—in whose name an Amendment stood on the Paper, before that in Mr. Roberts's name, namely, to leave out the words "five shillings per scholar," and to insert the words "the sum per scholar contributed by voluntary subscriptions in each year"—asked whether he could not proceed?
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said he rather thought that the question raised by the Amendment had practically been already decided by the Committee.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
considered that the Amendment could not be in order because, if carried, it might have the effect of increasing the amount of the grant agreed upon.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said that the objection taken by the hon. Member for west Ham was fatal to the Amendment.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
moved his Amendment. He wished to recall to hon. Members' minds the intention, of the Government as to the use to be made of the provision referred to in the words which he proposed to strike out of the Bill. The Leader of the House, when introducing the Measure, said, "It is manifest that the educational needs of urban districts and the expense of satisfying them must, on the whole, be greater than the corresponding needs in rural societies." The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that each association was to receive an amount of money corresponding to the average attendance in the schools, subject only to the condition that if there should be many urban schools in the district they might get more than 5s. The object of that reservation was to enable the Education Department, at the suggestion of associations, to increase the amount of the contributions to Voluntary Schools in towns, and to decrease the amount of the contribution to Voluntary Schools in the country. He objected to giving this power to the Education Department, a power which was to be exercised upon the representatives of irresponsible and non-representative associations. It would be said that the Department knew the educational needs of the country, and to that proposition he assented to a certain extent. While, however, the Department might be perfectly qualified to discriminate between the educational needs of different schools and of different associations, it was not similarly qualified, and ought not to be empowered to fix one rate of contribution for towns and another rate for country districts. The provision in the Bill was unjust to schools in the country. In the speech to which he had already referred, the First Lord of the Treasury stated that the cost of elementary education in towns was greater than in the country, and that ratepayers in towns were more oppressed with taxes than ratepayers in the country. That, he might observe in passing, was a strange commentary upon the policy of the Government in passing the Rating Act of last year. But they ought to ask themselves not only whether too much, money was spent in education in towns, having regard to the burdens upon the ratepayers, but also, whether the schools in the country had enough money to enable 795 them to satisfy the educational needs of the districts in which they were. Which class of schools then—the rural schools or the urban schools—deserved to receive the larger amount under this Bill? It was notorious that many of the rural schools were in a very unsatisfactory condition; they were undermanned and ill-equipped. In London, the average amount of money spent upon each child, taking Board Schools and Voluntary Schools together, was £3 17s. 11d. In Cornwall the average was £1 17s. 5d., in Cambridgeshire£1 18s. 9d., and in Bedfordshire £1 18s. 11d. Cases of that kind showed what difference there was between towns and country districts. Then in London 70 per cent. of the teachers in Voluntary Schools were qualified adults, but in country districts the percentage was comparatively low. In Cambridgeshire, for example, only 25 per cent. of the teachers in Voluntary Schools were certificated adults, and in Cambridgeshire the ratio was only 17 per cent. These facts showed that if a larger contribution was to be given to any one class of schools it ought to be given, not to the town schools, but to the country schools. It might be urged that the ratepayers in towns had to make greater sacrifices in the cause of education then people residing in the country; he would ask those who were inclined to use that argument to consider the following cases. In Ashton-under-Lyne the subscribers to the Voluntary Schools provided only 1–17th of the whole cost of education in the town. In Bristol there was one Church school; it received a Parliamentary grant of £1,200, while its supporters contributed only £9 per annum. In Stockport the Parliamentary grant to Church schools was £2,858, and the voluntary contributions did not exceed £7 5s. It could hardly he maintained that town schools of that kind deserved better treatment than rural schools. He would point out also that the taxable capacity of towns was far greater than the taxable capacity of rural districts. The Income Tax Returns went some way to prove this. If they took the assessments under Schedule B., relating to agricultural land in a county, and compared them with the assessments under Schedule D. relating to rents and profits in towns, they would see that that was so. Take Lancashire, 796 for example. In 1894–1895, the agricultural land assessed under Schedule B. only reached the value of £1,600,000, while the assessments under Schedule D. amounted to more than £40,000,000, or more than 20 times the assessed value of the land in the county. And yet, under this Bill, it would be possible for an urban school in Lancashire to receive a far higher rate of contribution than a school in a rural district. In the last place, he moved to omit these words because he thought the provision was unjust to the schools themselves. Under the provision as it stood, what would be the position of schools in the neighbourhood of large towns? In every group of associations there must be a large urban population, and in most of the associations the town population must dominate the county population. In other words, in most cases the rural schools must be under the control of the urban element in the association. Take the case of Liverpool. There were 63,000 children in average attendance in Voluntary Schools, and they would receive something like £15,000 under this Bill. It seemed to him that when the association was formed for Liverpool and neighbourhood, it was bound to take up a large number of rural schools in the neighbourhood of the town; but it was equally plain that the schools in the rural districts about Liverpool would be entirely at the feet of the urban schools and the managers of urban schools in the city of Liverpool itself. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, would a rural school be obliged to join an association for whom a scheme was prepared; and if, having so joined, and having found out that the scheme suggested and approved by the Education Department provided for a higher rate to the town compared with the county schools, would that be considered a reasonable cause for the rural schools to be allowed to sever their connection with the associations? In the interests of efficient education in the rural schools, and in the interests of bare justice to the county schools, he begged to move the Amendment.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
admitted the importance of the question raised by the Amendment. It had been argued, however, by the hon. Member that the Bill laid down that country schools were to be paid less than 797 urban schools, or rather that the associations with a preponderating number of rural schools were to obtain less than the associations with a preponderating number of Urban schools. That was not in the Bill, and there was nothing to fetter the Education Department as to whether such a distinction should be drawn at all, or whether, if drawn, it should be in favour of the towns or the country. ["Hear, hear!"] At the same time he admitted the hon. Member had justification for arguing on the lines he did, because in the very first speech he himself delivered on the subject he had not concealed the fact that, in the judgment of the Education Department the needs of associations in Which there would be a preponderating number of urban schools were greater than the needs of association in Which there would be a preponderating number of rural schools. Therefore, in all probability, if discretion were left to the Department—as he trusted it would be—they would use that discretion to give to the preponderating urban association more in proportion to the number of scholars than they would give to the preponderating rural association. He would remind the Committee of what they were aware was constantly forgotten by outside critics—namely, that there was nothing in the Bill, or in any possible action of the Education Department under the Bill, to indicate that the rural school because it was a rural school, was to get less than the urban school because it was an urban school. On the contrary, he believed there was probably a larger proportion of rural schools which were either not in need of assistance or had less need of assistance than urban schools. He admitted there were a number of rural schools whose needs were as great as any they would find in the urban schools, and there was nothing in the Bill to require or suggest that, in cases of the kind, the needs of rural schools were not to be as amply satisfied by the associations as the amount of the resources of the associations would permit. ["Hear, hear!"] He would give the broad grounds—and he thought they were adequate—upon which the Department had come to the conclusion that the needs of the urban districts were greater than those of the rural districts. In the first place, strange as it might seem at first sight, the rate- 798 able value in rural districts in proportion to the number of children was far greater than the rateable value in proportion to the number of children in the urban districts, taking the country as a whole. That was not a fact by itself conclusive, but it had its significance, which ought not to be left out of account by anybody dealing with this question. In the second place, it was manifest that there were expenses thrown upon urban schools which must be in excess of the corresponding expenses thrown upon rural schools. As a striking instance of that, he might mention the necessary cost of teachers' residences in the towns as compared with teachers' residences in the country. ["Hear, hear!"] In addition, there was the cost of living in towns as compared with the cost of living in the country. In both those respects the charge was thrown upon the teacher first, but ultimately it fell upon the employers of the teachers—namely, the managers of schools—which charge was more onerous in the case of the town districts than in the case of the country districts ["Hear, hear!"] In the next place, from causes familiar to everybody, the amount of education required—by which he meant the number of subjects taught—was greater in the town than in the rural schools. The urban schools required to have teachers competent to teach in a decidedly larger number of subjects than was, as a rule, required in the country schools; and without discussing whether that ought to be so or not, or giving reasons why it was so, the broad fact was admitted that such was the case. It arose partly from the smaller variety of employment in the country districts than existed in the towns. If anybody wanted an indication of the comparative cost of education in the town and country, after all, the simplest and easiest course was to look at what education did cost in those cases where the rates applied to educational bodies in both cases. There could be no doubt that the cost of education in towns was enormously greater than in country districts, and the result of that education costing so much more in towns than in the country was that a special burdens was thrown upon Voluntary Schools in towns which was known in their Debates as the competition between the Voluntary and School Board systems in their urban districts, and which 799 weighed with extreme severity upon the managers of Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Nobody who knew anything of the working of the two systems could doubt that that competition was far severer in the case of the urban than of the rural districts, and that of a large part of their rural districts it was not inaccurate to say that the competition could hardly be said to exist at all. The competition was in the urban districts, and it was with that competition that the Bill was introduced and this large amount of money taken from the Exchequer. ["Hear, hear!"] There was only one further point in connection with this that he need mention, but it was not unimportant. It was that rural schools had already obtained an advantage, which in many districts of the country their urban brethren did not receive, from the fee grant established by the Act of 1892. In Lancashire, for example, the establishment of free education had cost the urban Voluntary Schools a great deal per scholar, whilst it had given a great deal per scholar to schools in many of their rural districts. He had not got the figures before him, but his recollection was, that in Cornwall free education amounted not only to free education but to a gift of more than 2s. per head to the schools in which those children were educated. ["Hear, hear!"] In Herefordshire the gain per scholar was about 3s. 6d. per head of the scholars in average attendance. While such schools had gained largely, the managers of Voluntary Schools in some big towns were deprived of sources of revenue upon which they had confidently counted in the past. These were the broad reasons for justifying the Department in using the power of differentiation in favour of towns as against the country. But this was not what they were now discussing—whether the power should or should not be given to the Department, and for this, he thought, there were conclusive reasons. They had considered plans for some kind of differentiation in favour of more necessitous as against less necessitous schools. If the Government could find a plan by which a system of differentiation, which would be equitable on the whole, might be obtained, they would eagerly grasp it as carrying out the spirit that had animated all these discussions—of making the money they had at their disposal go 800 as far as they could in relief of the more necessitous as distinguished from the less necessitous schools. This was the reason which made it extremely important that the House should give this opportunity of differentiation to the Department. The Committee should recollect that the Department had unlimited power of differentiation themselves in these particular schemes, and of creating a scheme even of association as regarded the special amount to be given to each school. Surely, having given the Department that great power and responsibility, they might without hesitation or fear of results hand over to them the far smaller responsibility which was conferred upon them by the last words of the sub-section, and he trusted the Committee would support the Government in retaining the proposals of the Bill.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
maintained that the contention of the First Lord of the Treasury that town schools were by their very nature more expensive than country schools was capable of almost entire disproof. It might be contended that where there was a Board School rate there was severe competition between Board and Voluntary Schools, and for this reason the latter should receive more, but it could not be contended with any ground of substantial justice that in towns where there was no School Board rate Voluntary Schools had a right to more money than schools in the vast proportion of country districts. He defied any one to prove that in places like Preston or Wigan there was more need for money to aid the Voluntary Schools than in country districts. A small school, by its very smallness, had a greater difficulty in getting on than a large school, which was invariably a school in a town district. On the same principle a large business might often be conducted in many respects more cheaply than a small one. Schools of 400 or 500 scholars in populous towns were carried on much cheaper than schools one-third of the size in country districts. On the first Reading of the Bill the First Lord of the Treasury gave as a reason why town schools should receive special favour that, in the north of England especially, they suffered very much by the Free Education Act. He himself maintained that this could not be proved. Before the Free Education Act in many 801 towns were certain Church schools and an immense number of Catholic schools which did not suffer by the Act, because the managers would not charge the poor parents of certain children anything beyond the 3d. fee. On the contrary, they only charged 1d. These schools, so far from suffering, gained by the Free Education Act. But in town districts, where there was a 5d. or 6d. fee, no doubt when the schools became free there was a certain falling off of contributions. Before the Free Education Act was passed, throughout the country districts the squires, clergymen, and farmers bore the burden of country schools. They did not think the agricultural labourers could afford to pay more than 1d., 2d., or 3d. a week for the education of their children. The squires, the clergy, and the farmers, had gained nothing by the Free Education Act, although they deserved to for their sacrifices in the past in the interests of the poor populations of agricultural districts. In town populations, where the artisans were paying fees up to 9d. for their children's education, the subscribers for years before the Free Education Act made no sacrifices corresponding to the sacrifices of the squires, clergy, and farmers. He submitted that town subscribers had no right to complain. If they wanted their schools to be on a par with country schools where sacrifices had been made let them raise their contributions that they might be equal with those made in the country. The late Lord Selborne and the late Archbishop of Canterbury often said,We cannot understand the claim of the North of England to as much or more than we claim because they say they are poorer. We in the South are subscribing at the rate of 8s., 9s., and 10s. per scholar, while in Lancashire, which is a much wealthier part of the country, they are only subscribing 3s., 4s., and 5s., per child.The explanation of the whole thing was contained in the simple fact that before the Free Education Act the parents contributed the large bulk of the expense of the town schools, but that since the Act the urban power of raising subscriptions had not kept pace with the requirements of the Education Acts. The argument that town schools had suffered from the Free Education Act had no foundation whatever and should not be 802 brought into this question in any way, for it had no bearing upon it. As to the country schools, he would refer to what the Vice President had said. The right, hon. Gentleman made a special appeal to him when he said:—It is impossible that there can be efficient education in any school in which the teacher is entirely single-handed, and yet there are all over the country numbers of small schools in which the teacher is entirely single-handed. I am sure that if hon. Members would visit one of these schools they would be astonished that any person could conduct the school under the circumstances in which he was placed. Well, the association may prescribe that in every school there shall be an assistant teacher, or at least one or more pupil teachers.If the money was to go largely to help the schools where there was a single teacher, it must clearly go entirely to the country schools, because there were practically no town schools where there was only one teacher. The distinction between town and country was a very serious distinction to put into the Bill as a guide. ["Hear, hear!"] There were a great many town schools which could inevitably be run cheaper than country schools because of their size. The associations would make their claim on the basis not only of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, but on the words of the Bill, that there ought to be some special claim for town schools, apart from the question of whether they were in a School Board district or not. He thought that was a dangerous claim for them to make, and there was no foundation for it. [Cheers.]
§ MR. ARTHUR JEFFREYS (Hants,) Basingstoke
said it was quite refreshing to hear a speech from the other side of the House in support of the country districts. [Laughter.] He was very glad that he found himself in perfect agreement with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and he intended to support this Amendment, because he thought the words in the Bill were perfectly unnecessary. He thought they would bring before the associations the necessity of differentiating between town and country schools. He found from experience that the towns generally got the best of these things—[cries of "Oh!"]—at any rate, they did very often, and he did not want to give them the chance. He thought all our schools ought to be dealt with equally if they were necessitous. His right hon. 803 friend had said that the rateable value in towns per number of children was less than the rateable value in the country districts; but he contended the rateable value was no test of the wealth of the two communities. ["Hear, hear!"] In the towns there were wealthy people who could very well support the schools, and did; but what seemed to be forgotten was the great difficulty which many people in the country districts had in supporting their schools, the only way in which they could do so being by great self denial. There were, for instance, the country clergy, who, as a class, were very poor indeed, many of whom had undergone great privations in order to keep up the subscriptions. When this grant was distributed he was afraid that in regard to some of the schools the liberal men would be punished for their liberality, and in regard to others the mean men would be rewarded for their meanness. [Opposition cheers.] The wording of the Bill as to this was a direct invitation to the associations to make a difference. He was very sorry to have to vote against his right hon. Friend, but he felt so convinced that these words were unnecessary, and that there would be very great unfairness in making any difference between town and country schools, that he should be obliged to do so.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)
said there was in the West Riding of Yorkshire an area which was very much on the same lines as the one set before them by the Vice President of the Council, embracing villages and towns of varying descriptions. The Committee which took in hand the technical instruction of that area had endeavoured to work on the lines of treating all schools alike, and similar grants were given in all cases, whatever was the condition of the classes earning the grants, but they found after a short time that this was not sufficient to meet the wants of the country schools, and the Council had diminished the grants for the town schools in order that the country schools might be able to compete with them. ["Hear, hear!"] The reason why the grant to children was less in the towns than in the country districts was obvious, because without doubt the education of children in the towns could be carried on more cheaply. The 804 country districts were sometimes badly situated as regarded railways, and a special allowance had to be made for the carriage of the children—their fares, etc. The consequence was that these grants had been reduced in the large towns and kept up in the small villages. The country districts were the feeders of the large towns, and it was necessary for industrial purposes that efficient education should be kept up in the country districts. He regretted to see that the line taken up in the clause was that our country schools should be treated less favourably than our town schools.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY
said the importance of this Amendment had been shown by the lengthy reply of the First Lord of the Treasury, and he trusted that the Committee would not regret the few moments they might spend in discussing what he considered one of the most important Amendments which appeared on the Paper. He could not allow this occasion to pass without making an urgent and earnest appeal on behalf of the village schools of the country. Surely the sole justification for the Bill was the necessity throughout the country to improve the level of the education in their Voluntary Schools, and if that was needed in any one set of schools more than another it was in the village schools. If the words in the Bill did not, as they suspected, give an absolute direction to the Education Department they must be altogether unnecessary, and should be omitted from the Bill. But it appeared to him that the whole statement of the First Lord was founded on the assumption that there was a distinct direction in the clause.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
explained that he was simply giving the views of the Education Department, and that the Department would act with equity as between the two classes of schools.
§ MR. GRAY
said he ventured to submit that the Education Department was in this matter altogether in the wrong. It had placed before them the financial position of the Voluntary Schools, but it had not placed before them what the Department would like to see, as the state of efficiency in rural schools. If there was to be any differentiation in treatment as between town schools and country schools, clearly the preference 805 should be given to the country as against the towns. The operation of the Free Education Act had been referred to in connection with this matter. Now, in that case, it was not a question as between town and country. It was rather a question as between localities—between the North and South. Fees were charged both in town and rural day schools in the North, but they were not charged as a rule to so great an extent in the South. The question there was between localities, and was not a question as between urban and rural schools. The question of competition had also been referred to, and he was glad to see that this phrase was somewhat dying out of the Debate, for he believed it never had been fully realised what it meant. It meant that School Boards in the urban districts had been able to meet the requirements of the Education Department, and, therefore, they gave education at a higher level of efficiency. The Voluntary Schools in the towns had struggled to keep pace with them, and if they had done so it had been with great difficulty. In rural districts, the level of education had never been so high as in the urban districts, and the very object of this Bill was to level up education in those small rural schools; and how could they be raised, how could they be lifted up unless the necessary funds were at the disposal of the associations for distribution among the rural schools? Of necessity, the rural associations must include a large number of these very small schools, and those were the very schools that needed State aid more than any other class of schools in the country. He would give one very sufficient reason which should influence all friends of education in giving preference, if preference was to be given at all, to the rural schools. The Education Department would calculate the grant for separate schools upon the average attendance. Now it was much more difficult to secure a high average attendance in country schools than it was in urban schools. If they took two populations exactly alike, one in a rural district and the other in an urban district, they would find that the children in the urban district, who had lived under the shadow of the school they might say, would make a good attendance, and that attendance was not much affected by the 806 state of the weather. But in a country school, where they had half the children, perhaps, coming from a distance of three miles, a bad winter would reduce the attendance to such an extent that it would spoil the average attendance for the whole year, and thus would reduce the grant to very narrow limits. Surely the object of this Bill should not be to accentuate those difficulties which already existed? Surely a lead should not be given to the Education Department against the rural school, or, if the words were not a lead, then remove them altogether from the Bill. It was argued by the First Lord that the words would have no such effect, but they said that it would be injurious if the Department acted upon them. The examination he had been able to make in the last few mouths had convinced hint that the needs of the small village schools had not been exaggerated. The Vice President had stated that one of the first objects he should propose in the distribution of the money would be the addition of a second teacher in the schools that had only one. The needs of the rural schools in this respect were indeed great, and the expenses were exceptionally heavy. He pleaded most earnestly that if any differentiation was made, it should be in favour of the rural schools, or, at any rate, that there should not be this line of demarcation in the Bill, which appeared to him unjustifiable, and might be provocative of great injury. At the present moment the children in these rural schools started life heavily handicapped in competition with the children of the urban districts. They started worse equipped in every respect, and surely this could not be justified, for the children had a claim to start upon an equal footing in villages as in urban districts. He trusted that even now, or at a later stage, the First Lord would reconsider his determination, and see his way to omit the words which, if they were not altogether worthless, would be likely, from his point of view, to do a considerable amount of harm.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said the consensus of opinion seemed to be that the words in the Bill placed in the hands of the Education Department a discretion which the Department should not exercise. There seemed to be a strong feeling in favour 807 of omitting these words. As a London Member he recognised that the words might be of advantage to London where rates and subscriptions were heavy, but from such knowledge as he had he knew that the strain upon Voluntary Schools and the need for assistance was greater in the rural districts. The words in the Bill did not sufficiently define what the Department was to do, but there was no doubt that they conveyed the impression that, in the distribution of the grant, the Department were to favour the schools in the towns more than the schools in the country districts. Town and country certainly formed no proper basis for discrimination. He trusted there would be no discrimination; but if there was to be discrimination, he thought it should be in favour of the country districts rather than of the towns.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said it was almost certain that this Amendment would raise a certain amount of rivalry between town and country, and that certain country Members on the Government side would support the Amendment. He was a country Member, but he most emphatically supported the Bill as it stood, because it simply left the matter to the Education Department. The Bill did not lay down that the town schools were to get more and the country schools to get less, but, the object of the Bill being to give aid to the Voluntary Schools according as aid was needed, it said that the Department might have a discretion to give more relief to one class of schools than to another. But even if the Bill did lay down that the town schools were to get more and the country schools less, he would still support it; because the town schools were infinitely more necessitous than the country schools; and Members would take a very narrow view if they looked merely to the needs of the schools in the constituencies they represented, when the object of the Bill was to preserve the Voluntary Schools all over the country, and to distribute the grant according to the needs of the schools. It was practically only in the towns that there existed that competition between Voluntary Schools and Board Schools which was the serious and intolerable strain that had broken the backs, or nearly broken the backs, of many of the 808 Voluntary Schools. In the towns the cost of education in Board Schools was far higher than in Voluntary Schools, the difference in London being no less than 22s. per child. How then were the Voluntary Schools to continue to compete with the Board Schools unless they got considerably more than 5s. per child? And they could not get more than that unless the broad principle were laid down that the town schools suffering from this competition should, on an average, get a higher rate than the country schools. It seemed to him, therefore, that the proposal in the Bill was perfectly fair and sensible. Very probably it would work out that certain associations in the north of England—in Lancashire, for instance—would get more money per child than associations in the south. It might happen, for instance, that Lancashire might get more than Kent. That would be a perfectly fair result, because Lancashire would want more than Kent. The schools were not to be paid so much all round, which would be a wasteful process, but were simply to be paid according to their necessities.
§ MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said it did not follow that Kent would not receive more than Lancashire, because the amount depended on the area of the associations, and the relative proportion of town and country schools within such area. The Borough which constituted the centre of the hon. Gentleman's constituency contained no less than 17 Voluntary Schools, all of which, with two exceptions, were Church of England schools. He supported the Amendment as the representative of a large rural constituency, which would suffer very materially if the principle which was laid down by the First Lord of the Treasury as representing the views of the Education Department in the allocation of the grant were adopted. In the county of Lincoln there were 600 schools, of which 450, or thereabouts, were denominational schools. Of those 450 denominational schools 100 were situated in the 10 towns and 350 in the villages of Lancashire. How then could the provisions of the Bill be defended in Lincolnshire, when it would have to be pointed out that there would be a very small allowance for the villages of Lincoln, and that for the towns of Lincoln there would probably be a grant far in excess of the grant for the village 809 schools. There was a very small average attendance in those village schools. Take, for instance, the village of Tathwell. There were 160 children on the books of that school, but the average attendance was only 84. In another village on the wolds of Lincolnshire where there was accommodation for 80 scholars, and where the number on the books were 45, the average attendance was only 20. Those village schools were, therefore, already punished sufficiently enough, even if there was an equitable division of the grant at 5s. per scholar. Why then should there be this unjust differentiation between the schools in the town of Louth and the schools in the neighbourhood of that town? Why should it be said that when they got out of the confines of Louth they were to punish the little village schools because they were in the country and not in the towns? There was no doubt that these small village schools were suffering in a most distressing way. The sanitary conditions of many of these schools were vile in the extreme. The conditions under which the children were housed were disreputable and disgraceful. He was not saying whose fault it was. It frequently arose from the small number of children in these village schools. He ventured to say that a very strong case had been made out for an equitable distribution of this aid grant equally among, the village and the town schools, at all events of Lincolnshire, and, having in view the interpretsion put upon this clause by the First Lord of the Treasury, it became really necessary that they should not permit these words to continue in the Bill.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
thought the course of this Debate eminently proved the wisdom of the Government proposal. The hon. Member opposite had strongly urged the case of the rural districts; other hon. Members had advocated the case of the town districts, and he thought the result of the interchange of opinion was, that there were some cases where a preference ought to be given to the towns and others where a like preference ought to be given to the country. He represented a manufacturing district, and he naturally and necessarily desired that if any preference was given it should be given in favour of the towns. There was great truth in the remark of the First Lord that the cost of 810 education was greater in the towns. No one could be acquainted with the vast masses of their urban populations without feeling that they involved great difficulties; and that to provide them with, education must be a more laborious and also a more costly, operation than to provide the same education in the country districts. It was very probable that in a town they found a large school cheaper than a small school; but the comparison was not between large schools and small schools in the same town, but between the towns as a whole and the country as a whole. In Lancashire they had to deal not only with these vast masses of population, but also with a poor population. In the Roman Catholic schools in that county there was poverty which would excite the visitor's sympathy, and, at the same time, a quickness of intelligence which would excite his admiration. It was quite true that in Wigan, at least, the Roman Catholic schools were in a large degree free schools before the passing of the Free Education Act. The condition of those schools was such as to make one feel surprised at the exertions made under very great difficulties, and, at the same time, to desire that these difficulties should be removed and that they should be rendered more efficient and complete in their appliances. He felt that they had very strong claims, and he hoped they would not be refused. Accusations had been made in the course of their Debates of negligence and penuriousness in Lancashire, and reference was made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham to the case of Wigan. In view of that fact, he thought he might be permitted to say that, in the last Report of the Education Department, the exertions made in Wigan were the subject of special commendation, and it was pointed out that, largely owing to the liberality of Churchmen, the accommodation was considerably in excess of the requirements. There could be no doubt that free education had pressed more heavily on the towns than on the country. In Lancashire, particularly, great difficulties had been caused. The income from the fees had gone, and a sudden strain had thereby been put on the Lancashire schools in addition to the strain put upon them by the demands of the Education Department—demands which might 811 have been perfectly right and admirable in themselves, but which had increased the strain until it had nearly reached the breaking point. He believed the difficulties of the towns were greater than those of the country, and he ventured to say that they had a just claim for special consideration.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
appealed to the Committee to come to a decision upon this question as soon as possible. He might point out to the Committee that the only persons who ought to vote against the Bill as it stood were those who believed that town and country were precisely equal, neither more nor less. Anybody who thought the country required more money than the towns ought to vote against the Amendment, because the Bill enabled such cases to be met by the Education Department.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider the desirability of cutting out the words "town and country schools," thus reserving to the Education Department the power of differentiation according to necessity and not locality, if it pleased?
§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said he should like to point out that, though the right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in stating that the words in the Bill would not enact any preference to one class of schools against another, it was impossible to separate the words in the Bill from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he spoke of the necessity of giving a preferential payment to the town schools over the country schools. He stood there as the representative of a large urban population, but at the same time he could not withhold from himself the conviction that the rural school was the worst off in this country, and most needed help—help in the matter of teachers, of equipment, and, in fact, of everything that went to make a school efficient. He knew from experience that there was no class in the community which had made so large a sacrifice for the maintenance of Voluntary Schools as the clergy in the rural districts. In many cases they had involved themselves in pecuniary difficulties, by pledging their incomes and credit to maintain their 812 schools. They felt the "intolerable strain." But if the right hon. Gentleman would visit those schools he would find them miserably equipped, and the teachers greatly overworked. Why were the Lancashire towns so far behind these rural schools in subscriptions? The fact was that the children used to be sent to work young in Lancashire, and as soon as they began to work large fees were demanded of them. The schools had depended on these fees, and the Free Education Act had involved them in difficulties. But were those difficulties to be met by taking from the poor clergy in the rural districts their share of this grant, and giving it to the rich manufacturing districts? Lancashire was the one part of England which had not done its duty by education. In 1894 the subscriptions in Wigan were only 2s. 3d. per head, and what had been done in recent years had been done under great pressure. Compare any agricultural county with the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, and it would be found that the subscriptions in the former were double those of the latter. It was said that the schools were much cheaper in the country. Were they? Education might be cheaper in the country, but not where it was equal to the education in the towns. Where the quality was the same, the cost in the country was far greater. He knew some model rural schools which cost over £3 per head, and there was no extravagance.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said that he had hitherto supported the Government in every division on this Bill, but he found himself in a difficulty on this Amendment. The Department was empowered to discriminate between town and country schools, in favour of either the one class or the other. But the Department had no power to discriminate between one part of the country and another, and their decision, whichever class of school it favoured, must hold for the whole country equally. If the Department had discretion, he should be willing to leave the schools in his constituency in the Department's hands; but it was evident that the needs of each class of school, as opposed to those of the other class, varied with the various parts of the country. Great pressure would be brought to bear on the Department to get it to favour one class or the other, and the result must be 813 that the Department would not take the responsibility of differentiating at all. He knew the difficulties of the Parliamentary situation for the Government, and he would not press for a modification of the clause at another stage; but he did hope that some Amendment would be introduced in another place to relieve the Department of the onerous and invidious choice which they were now left to make. The House of Commons was a more competent body to decide which should be preferred—the town or country schools, if any differentiation was to be made. Not only in his own constituency, but in others, great injury might be done to the rural schools if the Department differentiated in favour of urban schools as a class.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
failed to find in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman any indication of what in the view of the Government was a country school and what was a town school. So far as he was aware the words "town" and "country" had never before been used in an Act of Parliament to describe various districts. There was no definition at all in the Bill of what was a town and what a country school. Yet the decision of the Education Department on the question was to be final. But in discussing an Amendment it was most important that the House and the country should be informed what the view of the Government or the Department was. It was quite true that according to the way the Bill was framed the discretion given to the Department was an absolute one, but the opinion had been clearly expressed by those responsible for the Bill that differentiation must be exercised in favour of the town school over the country school. There were great difficulties even in this. Were the associations to cover not only one class of schools, but two classes of schools? Were they to have rural schools with one rate, and town schools with a differential rate in the same association? He wanted to know whether they could allot money to the same association at two different rates. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Certainly."] He was much obliged for a courteous answer across the floor of the House, but they had not been informed of that before. That, however, showed the difficulty of the work to be intrusted to the Department. They would actually have one 814 association for what up to now had been considered an association for one class of schools, but what appeared now to be possibly an association which might represent both classes of schools—an association which would have to administer money at two different rates. As the First Lord of the Treasury said there might be the two classes of rates, he should like to know further whether the Department in one district of the country could decide in favour of the town schools, and in another district in favour of the country schools? The hon. Member for East Ham did not care for denominational schools because they were denominational schools, but where there were such schools he wanted them to be made efficient. The standpoint of the hon. Member for Tunbridge and the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, was a totally different one. They were in favour of denominational schools because they were denominational. [Mr. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN: "And because they are efficient!"] Not at all. The hon. Member knew perfectly well that the most inefficient schools were denominational schools, and that was because of the poverty of the country districts in which they were situate. He was not afraid of those, but in boroughs where there were School Boards he was afraid of the disappearance of the denominational schools entirely, and, therefore, he wanted this preference to be given by the Department to the schools which were in the boroughs. He had said consistently all along—while objecting to the grant in aid altogether—that if given at all it should be so allocated and distributed as to secure the efficiency of education in the schools. Was it fair that the supporters of the schools, who had made sacrifices to keep up the voluntary contributions, to pay their teachers in necessitous and poor districts, that these, schools should be put into the background with a smaller rate per child, whereas the schools in a town, with much more capacity for maintaining them, much more wealth, because those schools had not been properly maintained, were therefore to have preferential treatment? That was not a principle which ought to be accepted at all. He warned the Government that, though it would have been very convenient to produce a skeleton Measure, under which the Department and associations might do almost what 815 they pleased, nevertheless, in the practical working of the Measure they would find themselves placed in very great difficulty. The Committee was to be told that the Department were to have indicated to them by Churchmen, like the hon. Member for the Tunbridge Division, that their care was not to look after the interests of education, but that they must give a preferential rate to the towns over the rate given to the country, simply because the denominational schools in the towns might be swamped. If the Government and their supporters voted against this Amendment, then they would indicate to the country that their wish was not to promote the interests of education—["Oh, oh!"and cheers]—not to encourage local effort, not to put a premium on sacrifice, but to put a premium on lethargy, carelessness, the utter want of any local effort, and to show that their desire was to preserve the denominational schools.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
claimed to move "That the Question be now put."[Opposition cries of "Oh, oh!" and Ministerial cheers.]
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 190; Noes, 65.—(Division List, No. 111.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'or, if the Department fix different rates for,' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 183; Noes, 72.—(Division List, No. 112.)
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
proposed, paragraph (a), Sub-section (3), to leave out the words "town and country schools," and insert the words "districts in which rates for School Boards are levied, and those in which no such rates are levied, and for." He said his object was to provide that more consideration should be shown to a district in which there was, in addition to the support of Voluntary Schools, a School Board rate levied. They had been told that the Bill was introduced in order to relieve 816 "an intolerable strain," and the intolerable strain was felt most in those districts which had to support both Voluntary and School Board schools. They had a substantial grievance, which ought to be taken into account by the Education Department. This was a matter in which the Committee ought to give the Education Department specific instructions. He would give the Committee one or two examples. In Reading and Stockport the number of children in the schools was 10,000. In Reading there were Board Schools, but in Stockport there were none. In Reading the School Board rate amounted to £11,750, and the voluntary subscriptions to £1,900. In Stockport the voluntary subscriptions were only £816. The inhabitants of Reading therefore contributed in rates and subscriptions about £14,000, while the people in Stockport contributed only £816. That showed a tremendous difference in the circumstances of the two towns, which ought to be taken into account. He would also compare Preston and Birmingham. The number of children in the schools in Preston was 17,000, and in Birmingham 72,000. No rate was levied in Preston, but in Birmingham the School Board rate amounted to £103,000. Preston subscribed £4,200, and Birmingham £4,900. Thus Birmingham, educating four times as many children, contributed £107,000, and Preston only £4,200. The object of the Amendment was to instruct the Education Department to take such facts as those into account.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
said it was not possible to adopt the Amendment. The hon. Member had only referred to one kind of strain—namely, that which occurred in places where there was a School Board rate; but, as had been pointed out over and over again, that was not by any means the only strain to be removed. But the Amendment would not meet the evil to which the hon. Member had referred. In order to meet that evil it must be assumed that an association was confined to places in which School Board rates were levied, or to places in which they were not levied. It was not possible for anything of the kind to occur throughout the Kingdom. There must be many cases in which the association would embrace both School 817 Board and non-School Board districts, and therefore it was not possible to make the differentiation suggested in the Amendment. Why should scholars, who happened to be in a school which was situate in a district where there was a School Board, command a higher rate of capitation than those in schools in places where there were no School Boards? Whatever might be the object of the Amendment, it would be unworkable, and would give an indication to the Education Department which could not practically be carried into effect.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had gone upon the assumption that the terms "town and country" could be used; but those terms were extremely vague, and once the Department had given a meaning to them it would be bound by its own ruling, and therefore whatever objection the hon. and learned Gentleman might make to the Amendment the very same arguments would apply to the discrimination made in the Bill between town and country. If such vague terms were to be used, why should not the terms "x and y" schools be used, leaving it to the Department to decide what they meant, as it was declared by Sub-section 7 that it was to decide what was the meaning of "town and country?" He admitted that there was a certain adumbration or semi-concept of an idea in those terms, but in construing as Act of Parliament the exact meaning of the words used ought to be determined. What did "town" schools mean? Did it mean schools in a district under a Town Council? Was it to exclude urban districts? If so, the Bill would work intolerable unfairness in many parts of the country. In Monmouthshire, for instance, there were no towns to speak of. They were all urban districts, under urban district councils which included the very poorest part of the population. If this Amendment were accepted it would have this advantage, that they would know the particular cases in which the advance of this extra money was to be given. Why should the Committee be kept out of the secret as to the meaning of these words? He appealed to the Vice President, who was responsible for the Education Department, and would be responsible for the definition of these vague terms, to tell the 818 Committee their meaning. He considered the answer given by the Attorney General to his hon. Friend entirely inadequate. Until the Education Department finally determined what should be the meaning of these words it would be besieged by school managers anxious for an interpretation favourable to their own particular schools.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
thought the Government had not dealt very frankly with the Committee, who wanted an interpretation of words which were now introduced for the first time into a Bill. He did not believe there was any precedent for this use of the words "town" and "country." The Government were asking the Committee to give the Education Department arbitrary power to discriminate between town and country, and yet refused to define the meaning of those words. The learned Attorney General had referred to the case of Wigan, where practically there was no School Board. There was, therefore, no distinction between Wigan and an ordinary Voluntary School district. He would compare with Wigan the town of Bangor, which was a School Board district, and where there were Voluntary Schools as well. There were four Vountary Schools in the town, the subscriptions amounting to 17s. per child, and the School Board rate amounted to 24s. per child; so that if there ever was a case of intolerable strain Bangor's was a case of that kind. In Wigan there was St. Thomas's school, to which the voluntary contribution was only 3d. per child; another school to which the contribution was 5½d. per child, and yet another, to which the contribution was only 2¼d. per child. But under this Bill Wigan would actually get a larger share of relief than Bangor, with its contribution of 17s. and its School Board rate of 24s. There was no strain in the case of Wigan; but in Bangor there was a heavy strain upon the liberality and munificence of the ratepayers, and therefore something ought to be done to relieve it. They ought to be told plainly what the Government intended to do, and what class of towns they proposed to subsidise to the detriment of other places. It ought also to be made clear whether the expression "town" was to include urban districts, or whether it was to mean boroughs exclusively.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said that the settlement of this question was apparently to be left to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who appeared to be in a state of coma. [A laugh.] He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman, notwithstanding the condition in which he found himself at present, to emerge for a moment from his shell, and to give the Committee the benefit of his views upon this important question—a question which he himself would have to decide outside the House of Commons at a future time. What reason was there why there should not be a full and frank interchange of ideas with the right hon. Gentleman upon this subject? They were asked to leave it entirely to his judgment to decide what was to be town and what was to be country. However highly they might respect the right hon. Gentleman—and they regarded and respected him very highly on the Opposition side of the House—they would like to know, before parting with this money, what, in his opinion, was town, and what, in his opinion, country. All that they wanted was a little light and leading on this subject from the one man most competent to give it, and the one man into whose hands they were committing very largely the destinies of the urban and rural communities respectively in this country. The question of town and country would not be decided separately as between association and association, but for the country as a whole. There should be some definite plan before them, so that they might know what they were committing themselves to. The Amendment proposed a definite and intelligible plan, and if it was accepted they should know how the money was going to be expended.
§ MR. BROADHURST
remarked that in the royal county in which he resided they should be under peculiar difficulties in respect to the definitions given them in this Bill. In the county of Norfolk he thought there were only three or four incorporated towns, but there were nearly a dozen under urban district governments, and it would be a great advantage to that county, to say nothing of others, if they could have some other definition offered them than that which had been given by the Attorney General. The hon. and learned Gentleman had endeavoured to enlighten their minds, but in 820 doing so he seemed himself to be in more doubt than the hon. Member who had moved the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave them no clue whatever to the definition of what was to be town and what country. Indeed it appeared to him they should have to ask the Department to issue a new dictionary when the Bill became law, to know what were the meanings to be applied to the different expressions. A new "Webster" would be necessary. [Laughter.] The Attorney General had failed to give them any definition, and he would invite the Leader of the House or the Solicitor General to elucidate the subject the Member for the Isle of Wight had failed to throw any light upon. He should also like to see the Vice President—with whom he had the greatest sympathy—take a more active part in the discussions, because the right hon. Gentleman would be left in the autumn with a vast amount of definition work on his hands, while some of his more fortunate colleagues might be pleasantly occupied in open-air pursuits.
§ MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
thought the line ought to be drawn, not between School Board and non-School Board districts, and not between town and country, except insomuch as country schools, as a rule, were small schools, and the town schools large. The real difficulty arose with the small school. This Bill proposed to give to schools a sum in aid on the number of scholars in attendance at the schools as a rule. It was obvious that they could not run a small concern at as low a cost per unit as they could run a large concern, and the small schools were proportionately more expensive to carry on than the large schools. He was not in favour of this Amendment, neither was he in favour of town and country, and if it was any use moving further Amendments he should move, in place of "town and country," to substitute "large and small." He recognised. however, the uselessness of moving Amendments against the words used in the Bill, and he should content himself by making the suggestion that the line ought to be drawn between large and small schools.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
observed that all the discussions on the question of differentiating had proved conclusively the absolute impossibility of doing anything fair all round in any 821 system of differentiation. It seemed to him to have been shown that all systems of differentiation would lead to confusion and bitterness, and the only solution was to give the five shillings all round to all schools.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said he was entirely opposed to the Amendment, the real father of which was not his hon. and learned Friend who had moved it, but the hon. Member for Poplar. He was opposed to inserting words differentiating between districts in which rates for School Boards were levied and those in which no such rates were levied. He desired to point out what the effect of the adoption of the Amendment would be. The object of the Bill was not to relieve ratepayers at all, but to help necessitous schools, and he did not see how that object could be gained at all by the adoption of the Amendment. On the contrary, if carried it would create one great difficulty which he was sure his hon. Friend did not want to create, namely, it would put a premium upon the-erection of constitutional School Boards and Board Schools.
§ Question put, "That the words 'town and country schools' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 230; Noes, 81.—(Division List, No. 113.)
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
proposed, to leave out from the word "rates," in paragraph (a) to the end of paragraph (b), Sub-section (3). His object was, he said, to call the attention of the Committee to the very serious character of the proposal made in Sub-section (b). There might be a surplus left in the hands of the Education Department for distribution dependent upon the number of unassociated schools. The result of this Sub-section would be that the share which was left in the hands of the Education Department would go entirely to the Voluntary Schools which were in the association. He contended that this surplus ought not wholly to go to the Voluntary Schools in the association, but ought to be distributed fairly between those which were within the association and the others which were outside. In short his argument was this, that whatever surplus remained by reason of 822 the exclusion of non-associated schools from the benefit of the grant, ought to go, not to associated schools only, but should be fairly divided between associated schools and non-associated schools which had not unreasonably refused to associate. He moved the omission of the words from the word "rates" to the end of Sub-section (b).
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
thought that the hon. Gentleman would see that his suggestion was not practicable. He stated hypothetically that after the distribution there remained a sum of money over. The Education Board would require all that for the needs of the unassociated schools, but the Bill must also contemplate the possibility of the money not being required for that purpose, and, surely, there was nothing unreasonable in saying that it should be distributed among the associations in proportion to the other grant? ["Hear!"]
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said the Government had no right to assume that the unassociated schools should receive less than their fair share of the grant. The treatment should be equal for associated and unassociated schools, and there was no justification for the penalising of an unassociated school by the sub-section. The distribution should be impartially made as between associated and unassociated schools.
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD (York)
thought the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat cavalierly answered his hon. Friend who had raised a point worthy of consideration. These unassociated schools which were to receive a portion of the sum distributed among associated and unassociated schools were unassociated not from any unreasonable conduct on their part, and why, therefore, should they not be treated on absolutely the same basis, with the same liberality, the same generosity as the associated schools? Unless the right hon. Gentleman awarded this equal treatment he laid himself open to the criticism that he was bribing schools to enter associations, or exercising compulsion to that end. The schools which had not entered associations having reasonable grounds for not doing so, should take their share of the surplus.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said there was an obvious answer. There was the total amount of the aid grant, and of 823 that the associations took a certain amount, calculated at the rate of 5s. per child in attendance. From what remained the Department would deal with the claims of the unassociated schools, and each school would get what it wanted. What more could they desire? There were a certain number of unassociated schools which had unreasonably refused to join associations and forfeited their claim to the grant, but the schools entitled to a share, having received their share for the promotion of efficiency in education, what more did they want?
§ MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
could not see how the distinction came in. It seemed to be part of the policy to starve and penalise schools that remained out of the association. After the bare needs of schools had been supplied the balance should be given to the Exchequer, or if any balance was to be devoted to educational luxuries, that should be shared alike by associated and unassociated schools. If there was to be a possibility by association of receiving a sum over the 5s. a head, the finances of these schools would be in a state of flux and uncertainty, and there would have to be a second distribution, but surely the Department would have more than enough to do in working the complex machinery of this Bill. In the interest of fair play between the two classes of schools he regretted that the Government had not accepted the Amendment.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said that if the view taken by the Solicitor General was correct, and that all the unassociated schools were to get all they wanted, the subsection might very well be left out, because the unassociated schools would absorb all that there was, and a great deal more, if they got all they wanted.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I did not say they would get all they wanted in the sense of all they might claim, but all they really needed.
§ MR. BARTLEY
thought there would be some advantage to the schools in remaining out of the associations, because while the associated schools would only get 5s. per head at the outside, the non-associated schools would, according to the Solicitor General, get all that they reasonably wanted, which might mean more than 5s. per head.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said it was perfectly obvious from the Sub-section that the Government thought that the bulk of the schools would go into the associations. The Department would have to judge whether the excuse offered by a, school for not joining an association was reasonable or unreasonable; and, besides, the associated schools would have, as a sort of additional bribe, this division of the surplus fund amongst them.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER
said that, attaching, as he did, importance to the inducements offered by the Bill, as he thought to join associations, he was astonished and alarmed at the statement of the Solicitor General. As he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman, the associated schools would have a grant of 5s. per head, and the unassociated schools which had reasonably refused to associate were to have their reasonable needs supplied, which might conceivably be not 5s. but 10s. per head, after which the surplus, if any, was to go to the associated schools. If that were so, the non-associated schools would be in a better position than the associated schools. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] That, at least, was how he and other Members understood the statement of the Solicitor General, and he earnestly asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to give the Committee a clearer explanation of the matter. It seemed to him that this would offer a premium to schools to remain outside the associations. The Department would have no power to give more than 5s. per head to associated schools, while they might give more to non-associated schools.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that when he read the words he took exactly the same view as the hon. Member who had just spoken—that the surplus was going to be distributed fairly among the unassociated schools. He now gathered from the Solicitor General that that was not going to be the case. They must take some figure. Let them assume the surplus amounted to £50,000 or £100,000. The result would be that the associated schools would get 6s. per child, whereas the unassociated schools would only get 4s. per child. It was perfectly clear under the sub-sections they had already passed, that they must allot 5s. per scholar to the associated schools. If they were going to distribute the surplus which was not 825 derived from that 5s. per scholar, it must be over 5s. What he wanted to point out to the Solicitor General was, that if this Sub-section was going to be brought into operation at all, the only possible effect of it would be that they would differentiate between the associated schools and the unassociated schools, and that in favour of the associated schools. He thought they were entitled to ask the Solicitor General again upon what ground the Government proposed to discriminate between the associated and the unassociated schools, where the unassociated schools had not remained out of the association for any reason which the Education Department could condemn? He could understand the attitude of the Government being this. They might say that they considered that this principle of association was a very important one, and that they were going to offer every inducement to schools to become embodied in those association. In order to do that, where there was a school which declined to become a member of the association for insufficient reasons, they would fine it by depriving it of its share of the 5s. grant. That was a perfectly appreciable policy. But take the case of a school where the Education Department admitted there was good ground for refusing to become a member of the association, and let them assume it was a necessitous school. Upon what principle of common justice could the Government pay 6s. to a schools which was in the association and refuse to distribute any portion of the surplus to the other school, which was equally as necessitous and equally as deserving? He would ask the Government this question. Take the Voluntary Schools in various parts of the country which did not belong to any denomination. Would they force all these undenominational schools, one possibly at Land's End, and the other at Berwick-on-tweed, to form one association? It was simply ridiculous
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
thought there could be no difficulty in appreciating this, when it was understood what the Solicitor General said.[Loud laughter.] With a few exceptions, there was no misunderstanding on that side of the House. The first fallacy which the hon. Member opposite had fallen into was this. Whether they were dealing with schools in associations or not, they were 826 only going to give assistance to necessitous schools. As regarded the amount which they were to divide amongst necessitous schools, they limited it by 5s., distributed over all those schools whether necessitous or not. As regarded the amount which they could distribute amongst the schools which were not in the associations, there was no such limit at all; and, therefore, the Education Department, in dealing with necessitous schools outside the association could, if they thought it was right and proper, give a somewhat larger amount than the 5s. a head for these schools would come to in the aggregate. There was no unfair treatment in that as between associated and non-associated schools. Probably after that there might be an insignificant surplus. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Why insignificant?"] The surplus could only arise in respect of schools which unreasonably refused to join the association, and, therefore, it must be very small. All the Bill proposed to do was to put the associated and the non-associated schools on exactly the same footing, because in the former case there was a limit of 5s. per head all round, and in the latter case there might not be that limit. But in either case, the amount given to the necessitous school depended on the Education Department alone. In the one case the discretion of the Department was fettered, in the other case it was unfettered; and if there was a surplus where the discretion was unfettered it must go to be divided among the necessitous associated schools. That there was nothing unfair in this was proved by the fact that there were two contradictory views of the effect of the sub-section. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said that the words favoured the unassociated schools, and another hon. Member had urged that they favoured the associated schools.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said it was a fortunate thing for the Committee that the Solicitor General carried the hon. and learned Member for Stroud about as a sort of glossary on his utterances. But to him the question had not been made clear by the hon. and learned Member's interposition. There was another class of schools from which a surplus could be derived—the non-necessitous schools. The original allotment to the associations was to be distributed according to 827 a scheme. After this had been done, the surplus would be discovered; therefore, the surplus would have to be devoted to works of supererogation in the associated schools.
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Walsall)
thought that the Committee had had a great deal of discussion about a very small matter. There would be a number of associations, and there would be so many children in each. The Education Department would allot them a total sum equal to 5s. per head of the total number of children. The Department would then allot a corresponding sum to the non-associated schools, which might, for the purposes of argument, be regarded as forming one large body. There was no limit to the sum to be given to any particular school, and therefore if a balance remained in hand it could not be wanted for any of these non-associated schools, as to give it to them would stultify the Department's action. But this surplus must be dealt with. The Bill gave it to the associations for schools which had not received enough. This was fair, and as it was best for the work of the Department and for education that schools should join associations, there could be no objection to give them this small additional inducement to do so.
§ MR. C. P. SCOTT
said it was quite evident that the hon. Member for Walsall had read into the Bill words which were not to be found in the Bill, and it was precisely for the reason that there was no sum definitely allotted to the reasonably unassociated schools that the matter was so important. They might search the Bill from beginning to end, and they would not find in it any statement of the amount which was to be assigned to the unassociated schools. It was left entirely to the discretion of the Department. Therefore, it was perfectly plain that there was no guarantee that the average 5s. a head was to be given to the unassociated schools. Now what did that mean? They were told that schools were not bound to associate. A very large number would not associate, and, therefore, they would have a very large number of schools with no guarantee whatever of the amount they were to receive.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
expressed the hope that the Committee would bring a not very profitable 828 discussion to a speedy determination. There was no difficulty in the matter. This sub-clause was introduced in order to find a method of dealing with any surplus that might remain after the associations had been dealt with under the fixed 5s.-a-head grant. It was evident that that surplus must be dealt with somehow, and the sub-clause simply gave directions to the Department how to deal with it as among the associations. It was evident that, whatever part of that money was due to the associations ought to be distributed among the associations on exactly the same principles as the principal sum had been distributed, and all that the sub-clause did was to say that that available money should be so distributed among them. He trusted the Committee would bring the discussion to a close.
§ MR. PERKS
said the question would not affect either the Wesleyan or the Roman Catholic schools, because they would form their own associations, and there would be no residue left from those schools. The British schools would also probably form their own associations, so that the residue which was to go to the aid of the associated schools would come from the Church of England schools which did not join the federations. There were 12,000 Church of England schools in this country, of which 8,000 were in the rural districts. The First Lord of the Treasury said that the Education Department would give higher grants to the town than to the rural schools, and consequently the residuum which was to be handed to the associated schools, and not distributed in assisting the unassociated schools, would be largely taken from the Church of England schools in the rural districts who failed to join the associations.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 268; Noes, 100.—(Division List, No. 114.)829
§ Question put accordingly, "That paragraph (b) of Sub-section (3) stand part clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 273; Noes, 102.—(Division List, No. 115.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I beg to move "That the Question 'That the words of the clause down to the word "The," in page 2, line 4, stand part of the clause' be now put." [Ministerial cheers.]
§ Question put, "That the Question 'That the words of the clause down to the word "The," in page 2, line 4, stand part of the clause' be now put"
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 263; Noes, 96.—(Division List, No. 116.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words of the clause down to the word 'The,' in page 2, line 4, stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 263; Noes, 94.—(Division List, No. 117.)
§ MR. J. MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury to allow progress to be reported. [Ministerial cries of "No, no!" and "hear, hear!"] It would not be unreasonable now to break off the discussion, seeing that the Committee were approaching one of the most important clauses of the Bill, containing the provision that made association compulsory, and this clause would require a searching discussion. He reminded the right hon. Gentleman that last night when he announced the Motion for the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule he said there was no desire to keep the Committee sitting to an unreasonable hour, and it must be admitted the Committee had made good progress, the discussion having been to an almost unprecedented degree participated in by the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The hour which had been occupied with another matter entirely at the earlier part of the sitting arose on a Motion moved from the other side of the House. He moved "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
thought if the right hon. Gentleman would cast his mind back over the incidents of this and the preceding night he would see that his Motion, moved in terms to which he did not in the least object, was not a reasonable one to press.[Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear!"] The House decide after 5 o'clock, by a large majority, to continue the discussion after Twelve o'clock, and surely it was not worth while to occupy some 20 minutes beyond the usual time. ["Hear, hear!"] The House would stultify itself by such a proceeding. [Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear!"] The Motion moved earlier in the evening was moved from the Ministerial side of the House, it was true; but three-fourths of the Gentlemen whose support made the Motion possible were on the opposite side of the House, and of those not a small section were Members who took an active part in the discussion of the Education Bill. However that might be, they would stultify themselves—having determined that it was necessary to put their shoulders to the wheel—[cheers]—and hurry on this Bill faster than it had been going during the nine or ten days it had already been in Committee—if they were at 20 minutes past Twelve o'clock to decide it was time to go to bed, when at Four o'clock they had decided that midnight was not the proper hour at which to adjourn. [Ministerial cheers.] He therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion.
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
said the right hon. Gentleman could hardly have anticipated when about Five o'clock the House came to the decision to suspend the Twelve o'clock Rule that such progress would have been made with the Bill. He looked back somewhat wistfully to the time when those who were now in Opposition were responsible for the conduct of Government business; and he could honestly say that he never remembered an instance of the same progress having been made with a Government Bill as was made with this Bill to-night. [Opposition cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman had tried to suggest that the fault of an hour having been—he would not say wasted, but —expended early in the evening was mainly due to the intervention of Members on the Opposition 831 side, but if they had eyes in the back of their heads they would have seen—
§ SIR WILLIAM WALROND (Devon, Tiverton)
Thirty-three Members rose on your side and only nine on ours. [Cheers.]
§ MR. ASQUITH
said the Motion would not have been made possible had not an adequate number of Gentlemen on the Government side risen to declare that in their opinion the discussion of the subject was necessary. Therefore, the responsibility for that discussion must be shared by both sides of the House. But he was sure that no one outside the Treasury Bench would dispute that, in regard to the Voluntary Schools Bill they had been engaged that evening in discussing two or three of the most important questions that could arise, and that that discussion had been fairly and equitably shared by both sides of the House. Now they were approaching the discussion of a sub-section which was the kernel of this part of the Bill. So long as the associations were not to be compulsory, there was very little difference of opinion between both sides of the House, but they had now reached the question whether the associations were to be compulsory or not, and they felt that that vital topic could not be adequately discussed at half-past Twelve o'clock in an attenuated House—[Ministerial cries of "No, no!"]—and without any possibility of an adequate report of the proceedings going forth to those who were interested in the Bill. [Cheers.]
§ MR. BROADHURST
said the First Lord of the Treasury seemed to have forgotten that to-day was Wednesday and that Members would have to be back in their places in less than 12 hours [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"] In view of that fact he thought the Government ought to assent to the Motion and allow them to retire to their homes at a decent hour. [Laughter.] The First Lord's own side was thoroughly wearied out—[Ministerial laughter]—for he never remembered a night when he had so often been asked to pair. [Renewed laughter.]
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
My memory goes back to the time before the Twelve o'clock Rule was invented, and I have not myself so much regard for that Rule, as I think it often acts as a preventive to doing business. 832 And the singular way in which Members of this House refuse to go on after Twelve o'clock strikes me as another proof of the degeneracy of the age. [Laughter and Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] We used to go on until One and Two o'clock with very good temper and very good dispatch of business. But I cannot disconnect the position at present from the question which is immediately before us. If we were going to discuss such questions as we have been discussing for the last few hours, I should be quite ready to go on, and go on merrily; but we have immediately before us now what is one of the most important questions on this part of the Bill. [Renewed Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] My memory also extends to another characteristic of this House, and that is that immediately below the Gangway, on the Ministerial side, you will find a number of Gentlemen who are bound to remain here because the Whips will not let them go—[Opposition laughter, and Ministerial cries of"Divide!"]—and who have no political instinct. [Loud Opposition cheers, and continued Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] Their desire to suppress discussion has prevailed, whether a Liberal or a Conservative Government is in office. [Cries of "Divide!"] Having relieved myself of that little memory, I recur again to what is the question before us. Does my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government think he is going to settle this question to-night? I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can. [Cries of "Yes!"] I am asking my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, and he has not said he thinks he can; and I would ask further, whether he thinks it is a question which ought to be settled to-night? [Opposition cheers.]
§ MR. COURTNEY
I would ask my right hon. Friend whether it is a question which he, if he were in Opposition, would consent to have settled to-night? [Opposition cheers.] This is the question on which the supporters of the Bill are most divided. The clergy interested in this grant are of very diverse opinions. The protests against compulsory association are manifold; and to have the discussion of the proposal at a time when our discussions are in vacuo—when they have no echo in the outer world; when they are 833 not reported; when the limitations of newspaper production do not allow our utterances to meet our constituents—[Ministerial cries of "Divide!"]—those are considerations which may well cause a Leader of the House to hesitate before carrying the discussion to a conclusion. If we cannot conclude the discussion to-night, is it well to begin? In former days time was occupied with Motions to Report Progress, and that the Chairman do leave the Chair; and in the end the Leader of the House had to give way. Such Motions were made an abuse of the Rules of the House, but they did compel Leaders of the House to be reasonable. [Opposition cheers.] I appeal to my right hon. Friend to be reasonable without any compulsion. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] I appeal to him not to begin a discussion which cannot be conducted in a proper and becoming manner, and which cannot lead to a definite conclusion this evening. [Cries of "Yes!"] If my right hon. Friend is convinced of that he will not begin a scene which will reflect no credit upon us, and not assist the progress of the Bill. [Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] I have voted for all the Closure Motions this evening. I want to get the Bill on. But I respect Parliament even more than the Bill. [Loud Opposition cheers.] In the interests of the House of Commons I appeal to my right hon. Friend to lend a reasonable ear to the appeal which has been made to him. [Ministerial cries of "No!"]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
My right hon. Friend has made an appeal to me, and it would be discourteous to disregard an appeal made by one who has occupied such a distinguished position in this House. But I must inform the right hon. Gentleman plainly, that his interposition to-night, though no doubt meant in the interests of the dignity of this House, does not conduce to the objects which I believe he has in view. [Loud Ministerial cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman has recalled days when we were both Members of this House, and when the hour at which we have arrived would have been regarded as comparatively early for dealing even with more important business than that now before us. The House have had full warning of the intention of the Government, and by a large majority have declared that they 834 approve of that intention. [Ministerial cheers.] And it appears to me that we should be stultifying ourselves and the decision at which we have arrived if we now refused to deal with the question which lies immediately before us. My right hon. Friend has told us that if we begin the discussion it will be impossible to conclude it. Sir, I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend. [Ministerial cheers.] It appears to me that if the scale on which he and hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to discuss the clauses, sub-clauses, lines, words, and commas of the Bill—[Opposition cries of "No!"]—that if that scale is to be the scale on which our discussions are to be pursued, I do not see how legislation is to be carried on at all in this House. [Ministerial cheers.] But it is sufficient for me to remind my right hon. Friend that if the Opposition, as he thinks, and as I think, improperly throws us upon this course, this end of the evening, for the discussion of this question, it is they who are to blame, and not we—[cheers]—and though we have to submit, as we may have to submit, to a certain amount of physical and mental fatigue, and though we are to be deprived of the glory and encouragement which I understand some hon. Members of the House derive from seeing their words reported at full length in the papers—[laughter]—those losses, though not inconsiderable, are not, in my opinion, sufficient to make us go back upon the course which we deliberately entered upon early in the evening, and reverse a policy deliberately adopted by a full House on the very day on which we adopted it. Sir, I join with my right hon. Friend in the desire that our proceedings should be dignified and orderly, and should conduce to the proper elucidation of the questions under debate; but I cannot agree with him that the course which he presses upon the Government is the one most likely to carry those great ends into effect. [Cheers.]
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
, who spoke amid Ministerial cries of "Divide," appealed to the Leader of the House not to persist in his Motion, especially having regard to his declaration the previous night that he would not consider it necessary to ask the House to sit to a late hour. Besides that, it was now Wednesday morning, and the House had to meet at Twelve o'clock noon; though they were 835 still at the beginning of the Session the right hon. Gentleman had appropriated four days of the week to this Bill, and, moreover, he had stated it was not necessary to carry the Bill before the 31st of March.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 232; Noes, 83.—(Division List, No. 118.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 81; Noes, 233.—(Division List, No. 119.)
§ MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
moved to leave out Sub-section (5). He said that the object of the Sub-section was to give power to the Education Department to exclude a school from any share of the aid grant if, in the the opinion of the Department, it unreasonably refused or failed to join an association. To that extent, he contended the clause was compulsory, as it would have the effect of compelling schools to join an association. The Leader of the House was reported in The Times to have said the other day, in reply to the hon. Member for East Mayo, that these associations were voluntary associations in the fullest sense of the word. If, however, schools were to be compelled to join, he could not see how the associations could be voluntary associations in the fullest sense of the word. It might be said that the Department would not put the sub-section in force, and that it would be a dead letter; but the Vice President of the Council had said that the Department would have to see that no school remained out of an association without a valid cause. Therefore it was the intention of the Government that this sub-section should be used, and that schools should be compelled to join these associations against their will. Who 836 wanted compulsion, and whom would it benefit? Would it benefit the Roman Catholics? He thought not; and the Roman Catholics could do all that they wanted to do by means of voluntary association. Did the Wesleyans want compulsion, or the supporters of British schools? He thought not. As to the Church of England, the right hon. Member for Bodmin had said just now that there was a great division of opinion among its members as to whether these compulsory powers should be put in force or not. The evidence was by no means clear that there was an overwhelming desire among members of the Church of England that this sub-section should stand part of the Bill. The Bishop of Hereford was reported to have said at the meeting of convocation, at Church House—There is another course we took, and that was, with an equally light heart and very little discussion we voted compulsory federation. Well, my Lord Archbishop, I doubt if there are half-a-dozen persons in this room who have thought out the result of that. You are proposing to set up a compulsory ecclesiastical local authority everywhere to administer the funds of the State. I am not sufficiently sanguine to believe, or even to hope, that the country will accept that; and, if they do not, where are we?Archdeacon Wilson and others had also spoken against these compulsory associations; but he was aware, of course, that there was a considerable body in the Church who were favourable to them. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had said that, in his opinion, these associations ought to be compulsory upon two grounds. In the first place the noble Lord said that it was to expect too much of human nature—even clerical human nature—to expect it to be entirely unselfish in these matters. He took a more favourable view of clerical human nature, and thought that the managers of denominational schools, without compulsion, would be willing to form voluntary associations and to help their weaker brethren. There was sufficient public spirit and zeal among managers of schools of the same denomination to enable them to arrive at voluntary equitable settlements. The second argument of the noble Lord was that he was not at all sure that 837 if he were a manager he would feel inclined to enter into a voluntary federation, and that he should hold his position as a trustee. If that was going to be the attitude of the managers of all the efficient Voluntary Schools, he did not think that the scheme of compulsory association would work well. A vast amount of friction and discontent would be created if these trustees were compelled to join associations against their sense of right. Parliament, he knew, was, technically speaking, supreme, and, of course, any school that had been hardly treated under a scheme of association would be able to appeal to that House. Although Parliament was supreme on this subject, he thought it would be utterly impossible for Parliament to re-examine in every detail the plans which they had passed as a whole. He did not think it would be possible for any Education Department to undertake that task. The second alternative would be that any managers discontented with the scheme of association could retire from the association, and lose the whole of the 5s. grant which the Bill proposed to give them, and he thought the sense of injustice, which would be strongly felt, would compel the managers of Voluntary Schools to adopt that course. The third alternative would be that they might remain in the association and grumble and suffer under their injuries, whether fancied or real. That was a result which the supporters of this system of compulsory federation viewed with equanimity and gratification. He could not believe that associations based upon a system of compulsion and containing within themselves elements of such discontent would prove a permanent blessing or assist the voluntary system. He thought, moreover, that by the institution of compulsory associations they were really setting up a premium on bad management. If they compelled efficient and non-efficient schools to join the associations they would seriously interfere with that individual enterprise which had caused Voluntary 838 Schools to be a success in many places in this country. They would have managers of efficient schools saying that, after all, it was no good keeping their schools in a state of efficiency, when their zeal and care for education were so badly rewarded, and they received less money than their neighbours who took no pains with the schools, and no pride in education. On the other hand, the managers of inefficient schools would say they had been compelled to join the associations, they would find they got more money for their inefficient schools than was given to the efficient schools and they would say, "After all, we think our course in keeping the schools inefficient has not been altogether amiss." He should like to ask who was going to pay the expenses connected with the associations? The expenses of the Diocesan Association in London amounted to 2s. 3d. per child, and he could not help thinking that associations extending over a wide area and including a large number of schools must have more expenses attached to them than a London one. He should like to know whether the expenses of the voluntary associations were to come from the aid grant, or from the voluntary subscriptions? He thought it was extremely unfair to force those who did not wish to do so to join in the associations and incur this expenditure and loss for what they believed to be a very doubtful benefit indeed. He should also like to call the Committee's attention to the final words of this clause.But the refusal or failure" (to join an association) "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.It seemed to him that the associations would be denominational as well as compulsory associations. It was the first time the State had authorised its money to be used for the endowment of denominational education. He readily admitted that he did not think associations could be successfully formed on any other than a denominational basis. Wesleyans 839 would form their associations by joining together several circuits; the Church of England associations would probably be diocesan. But there were no words in the Bill to show how the schools were to be represented on the associations. Would each school send a representative? If so, almost invariably he would be the clergyman of the parish, or the minister of the congregation to which the school belonged. If, however, these associations were to be formed on a different basis, and to elect representatives in proportion to the number of scholars in average attendance, even then there would be a preponderance of the ecclesiastical element in the associations. The head of the Church of England associations would be the Bishop, of the Wesleyan associations one of the leaders of the Circuit, and the Catholics would adopt a similar principle. The 5s. grant was raised from every sect in the State, every class in the community irrespective of creed.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I think the hon. Member is wandering considerably from the Amendment. [Ministerial cheers.]
§ MR. NUSSEY
said he bowed loyally to that ruling, but this was, he believed, the first time public money had been spent to compel schools to join associations founded on such lines. It would tend to increase sectarian bitterness, and to raise up old animosities between creed and creed. What was the First Lord of the Treasury's interpretation of the word "reasonable" in the clause, relating to the case where a school "unreasonably refuses or fails" to join an association? The interpretation of the word unreasonable was placing a wide discretion in the hands of the Education Department, and the Committee ought to have a definite explanation of what would be deemed "reasonable" or unreasonable. Supposing they had an area embracing 100 schools, and 60 schools voted for an association and 40 against. If the association was formed would the refusal of the large minority of 40 be held to be "unreasonable" or 840 not. In the alternative, if 60 schools voted against forming an association and 40 for, could the minority of 40 form an association, and, if so, would the 60 schools be compelled to join the association or lose the 5s. grant? He thought they were entitled to have some sort of interpretation as to the lines on which the Education Department would consider action in regard to this matter to be reasonable or unreasonable. He thought the Government would be taking up a more reasonable position if they permitted the associations to be merely voluntary. He thought they would be able to see in two years how the associations would work. He hoped the Amendment would receive consideration at the hands of the Government. He begged to move the Amendment.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said it had been the practice of hon. Gentlemen opposite to describe the associations as compulsory, but they were not compulsory. There was no power in the Bill to require schools to form associations. When hon. Gentlemen were driven out of that position they complained that when the associations were formed it would be compulsory on schools to join them. Even that statement, however, should be greatly modified before it could be accepted as accurate. In the first place, they had carefully provided that no schools should ever be compelled to join an association of schools the majority of which did not belong to the same denomination as itself. In the second place, dealing only with those associations which were of the same denomination as the school which had refused to join, and which reasonably ought to have joined, even then the word compulsion was really rather a strong word to use. The worst that could happen to any school that refused to join an association was to be left exactly where hon. Gentlemen wanted to leave every Voluntary School in the country. The worst that could happen to the Voluntary School was not to have that 841 grant from the Exchequer which hon. Gentlemen had been striving to withdraw, not merely from the schools which refused to join an association, but from every school. [Opposition cries of "No!"] He did not call that compulsion—it was a penalty which hon. Gentlemen would desire to be universal. [Renewed cries of "No!"] If the votes of hon. Members on the day when the Bill was introduced into Committee had any meaning, they intended it to be universal. [Ministerial cheers.] If imposed at all it was a penalty not likely to be imposed on any school in need of the grant the Government desired to give. In the judgment of the Government—and it had even been admitted by hon. Members opposite in their more candid moments—the work of distribution would work with incomparably more smoothness if carried on through associations. Under any circumstances a large weight of responsibility would be thrown on the Education Department, and in the earlier stages of these discussions two Members moved Amendments to make the allocation of the grant absolutely automatic as between all schools. He considered that the two sides of the House were agreed on this fundamental principle, and was it asking too much to say that schools who refused to co-operate should not have the benefit of the grant? It appeared to him a most reasonable and moderate condition. A large sum of money was going to be given; whether it was adequate or not it certainly was not small, and it was not too much to ask, as a condition of the grant, that managers of schools who refused to lend themselves to the machinery provided for the distribution of the grant should be deprived of the privilege of receiving the grant, that is if they unreasonably refused. In his judgment the Bill would be seriously impaired if they were not to imply on the very face of the Bill that it was regarded as a duty for schools having at their door an association of other schools by hypothesis belonging to their own denomination 842 to associate with these schools for the distribution of the funds. The request was reasonable, the penalty was not severe, and he hoped the Committee would adhere, to the Sub-section. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ACLAND
said it was difficult to piece together the two parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He began by telling the Committee that the word compulsion had been misused, but he ended by declaring that it was perfectly reasonable to refuse the money if these schools were not willing to co-operate with the associations and the Education Department. If the Department refused money which all Voluntary Schools thought they were entitled to share, that was in fact compelling schools to enter association subject only to the condition in the sub-section under discussion, and this was compulsion according to the usual interpretation of the term. All Voluntary Schools claimed a fair share of the grant, not all claiming the 5s. a head, some admitting that other schools were more needy, but all the schools believed they deserved something from the grant. The right hon. Gentleman said to those schools, "If you refuse to join one of those associations you shall have nothing whatever." Why was that inevitable cause of heart-burning and friction introduced into the Bill? In the Bill of last year the associations were voluntary, and that provision was deemed perfectly satisfactory. No one demanded that they should be made compulsory. He was sure that a large number of the followers of the right hon. Gentleman were dissatisfied with the compulsion put upon the schools to join the associations. [Ministerial cries of "No, no!"] The danger of this proposal, which included compulsion, was that they would draw in a great many schools against their will, and when they found they did not receive the full grant they expected they would be, not only dissatisfied, but greatly discouraged. It would not fulfil the objects the promoters of the Bill 843 had before them, because good managers being discouraged, subscriptions would fall off, and this compulsory entrance into associations would produce a great deal more friction because it was compulsory. The ultimate result of this would be that, after they had compelled the schools into the associations, they would find that, in 90 per cent. of the cases, they could not draw a distinction between necessity and non-necessity, and they would end in the long run by giving them all the same grant. This compulsory clause was going to enormously add to the friction, the difficulty, and the annoyance of the process. It was going to add to the unpopularity of the Bill, both in the formation and the working of the associations, and it was going to add a distinct feeling of unpopularity in relation to the Church, which would be the largest operator in regard to these compulsory associations, and to the whole idea which was connected with the grant to Voluntary Schools. He thought this was one of the most unfortunate parts of the Bill.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER
said he had two Amendments on the Paper, but as he did not intend to move them he should like to say a few words in explanation. It was satisfactory to him to know that, although there was no actual compulsion to join the association, there was a very strong inducement to do so, for any school which refused to join incurred the risk of being found in an unreasonable attitude by the Department, and in that case was penalised by not sharing in this extra grant. Believing, as he did, that the association of these schools would be of enormous advantage to them, he was very glad there was this provision in the Bill. In his own diocese there had been for some time a series of associations, and the Report which they had just issued showed that the whole diocese expressed their earnest hope that the Government would retain the associations clause, and stated that the Board experienced the greatest difficulty in dealing with schools which were not associated, and that 844 nearly all the difficulties that had arisen during the past year had been in cases where the schools had not been members of the ruri-decanal associations. If the majority of schools did not come into association, and their refusal to do so was held to be reasonable, the work thrown on the Education Department would be so heavy that it would be almost impossible to discharge it.
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said that the First Lord of the Treasury had insisted that the formation of these associations was entirely voluntary. That might be true literally, but it was not true actually, because of the strong inducements which could be brought to bear. Out of 100 schools, only 10 might be willing to form an association. But, directly they had formed an association, they would be able to exert the compulsory powers for bringing in the other 90 schools. It was fair to ask for a definition of the word "unreasonable." In counties like Lincolnshire and Shropshire, where the country schools outnumbered the town schools, if the town schools were given the larger share of the grant, the country schools might withdraw. Would that withdrawal be held to be reasonable? Suppose a school could show that a majority of the schools in an association were of another denomination, then they could not be found guilty by the Department of unreasonable conduct in refusing to join. But its conduct might conceivably be unreasonable, although just a majority of schools were of another religious denomination. Therefore, the latter part of the clause was almost as objectionable as the first part. On the whole he thought there was good ground for pressing the Amendment.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
took the case of two schools, in one of which the supporters contributed 30s. per child towards its maintenance, and in an adjoining one, where there were richer landowners, only 2s. 6d. per child was contributed, and asked whether, supposing the supporters 845 of the former school were not going to join in association, this would be held to be unreasonable conduct on the part of that school. And would it be deemed a reasonable ground for refusing to join that the managers of a school thought that the only result of doing so would be that their votes would be swamped, and that they would not get their fair share. They ought to get some indication from the Government as to their definition of the word "reasonable."
§ MR. GRAY
said that, as he should vote for the rejection of this Sub-section, he should like to state his reasons. He believed that the Sub-section would very largely destroy the main object which the Bill had in view, and that the ultimate result of it would be the universal distribution of 5s. all round to Voluntary Schools. [Opposition cheers.] The only argument adduced in favour of this particular section was that if these schools would not share in the duty of advising the Department, they should take no portion of the money. He could easily fore-see—in fact, he knew from statements made in different parts of the country by the managers of well-conducted schools—that they disliked very strongly this particular clause. It was perfectly true that it was not absolutely compulsory, but it attached a certain penalty to the schools which did not desire to associate themselves with the other schools in the district. The better-class schools saw no possibility of obtaining any assistance from this fund by entering the association, and desired to stand apart, but the probability was that, in order to avoid any imputation of want of charitable feeling, they would enter the association, disliking intensely the task which would be put on their shoulders of advising the Department as to the redistribution of the fund among themselves in varying proportions. He felt pretty confident himself that the result would be no differentiation within the area of the association. Feeling, therefore, that public opinion outside the House, whatever it might be in the House, was largely 846 opposed to the retention of this particular clause—[Ministerial cries of "No!" and Opposition cheers]—well, he could only say that at a recent gathering at Bournemouth clergyman after clergyman rose and declared his opposition to what he described as compulsory federation and his objection to any penalty being attached to a school which declined to join the association. As to the definition of the word "reasonable," he held that the people in the locality would be better judges of the reasonableness of otherwise of their determination; and, feeling that there was a disposition among the managers of the very best of the Voluntary Schools not to have their local affairs touched or interfered with in any way, he would support the excision of this passage from the Bill.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said that he could indorse the view expressed by the last speaker, for there was a strong opposition to the Government proposal by both the Church party and other owners of Voluntary Schools. In Northumberland and in Durham there was a general disposition to view this proposal with considerable suspicion. Twenty-seven per cent. of the Voluntary Schools in those counties were not managed by either members of the Church of England or of the Roman Catholic persuasion. In these schools, many of which were necessitous, no dogmatic religion was taught, and it was absurd that the House should endeavour to compel these schools to unite in one association and to arrange the distribution of a fund of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord had stated that the associations would be divided into Church of England, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, and omnium gatherum. He presumed the Voluntary Schools in which no dogmatic religious instruction was given would be included in the omnium gatherum class. But these schools were managed by a variety of managers. One school would be a British School; another would be 847 managed by a colliery proprietor; another by a business firm; another by trustees; another by the Congregationalists; another by the Independents; another by the Methodists; and another by the Baptists. He protested against all these schools being forced into an association when there was nothing in common in their management, and the owners of these schools naturally looked with some suspicion and considerable dislike on the proposal of the Government, and he therefore would vote against what was practically a provision to compel these schools to associate against their will. On that ground he thought they were fully justified in opposing the Sub-section.
§ MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
believed that the First Lord of the Treasury had wholly failed to convince any considerable number of Members of the House that the Sub-section was not based upon the principle of compulsion. He had asked whether it would be a reasonable thing on the part of the school managers to refuse to co-operate in carrying out what the right hon. Gentleman regarded as a most admirable and beneficent method of promoting national education. He forgot that there were a considerable number of persons in this country who were by no means enamoured of this portion of the Bill, and who regarded the proposal to form these associations at least with very considerable misgivings. Although the First Lord seemed to find it impossible to conceive good reasons why schools should not unite, it entirely depended upon local circumstances. There were many reasons why managers might reasonably refuse to become members of these federations, and in some cases it would be their bounden duty to refuse. How was it possible to federate schools scattered over a wide district of the country and having no bond of sympathy or common action? What was the meaning of the word "unreasonable?" As in the case of "necessitous" 848 schools, the question was referred to the Education Department without a single piece of practical information having been put before them, and without the Department receiving from the House the slightest guidance. His impression was that it would be the Nonconformists who would chiefly suffer from the existence of this sub-section, because a large number of schools of the kind described—scattered schools—were, to say the least, non-Church schools. But he objected to this portion of the Bill, quite as much in the interests of the Churchmen as of Nonconformists. The Committee had had weighty testimony from the hon. Member for West Ham in respect to the feeling with which this proposal was regarded by a large number of Churchmen. Canon Nunn of Manchester, the soundness of whose Churchmanship no one would question, considered that the proposed compulsory federation of schools was impracticable. He believed himself that the friction, bitterness, and practical difficulties that would be occasioned by the attempt to carry out this scheme would have the result of convincing the Education Department that the scheme was altogether impracticable.
said his complaint was that a certain person would be visited with a penalty if he did not do a certain thing, and these associations would be voluntary in the sense that a man acted voluntarily when he gave up his money to a highwayman. What they ought to take into consideration was, would the compulsory association tend to the smooth working of the elementary education of the country. They would say that they would lose the 5s. if they did not associate, and rather than lose the 5s. they would associate.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
pointed out that the practical working of this sub-section would be to exclude all British schools because the British schools had no religious denomination at all, therefore, they would not be able to avail themselves of the reasonable grant. The 849 British schools had undoubtedly done good work, and this sub-section ought not to pass in its present form. The Roman Catholics could say they would not come in because the majority was not Roman Catholic, but the British Schools would not be able to avail themselves of that. That was a point which had not been put before the Committee. Then they were told that they ought not to argue against the sub-section because they had opposed the Bill from the commencement. He begged to remind hon. Gentlemen that those willing to give money for the Voluntary Schools protested against the association part of the Bill. He wanted to put two concrete cases to the Government. The first was that of a school which struggled to give efficient education, and for that purpose, to keep up local contributions. Because it kept them up it might, in the eyes of the association, be considered not a necessitous school. The association might say, "You have contributions amounting to 10s. a head, and we do not consider you necessitous." The managers answered, "We want the grant to increase our efficiency, or to provide a second teacher." In a case of that kind, was the reasonable apprehension of such action on the part of an association a reasonable ground for refusing to join it? Again, supposing the managers of a school had joined an association, and the association proceeded to deal with their school on what the managers considered an unfair basis, and on that ground withdrew from the association, would that be considered a reasonable ground for refusal? If the Government really were persuaded bonâ fide that the associations were desired by the managers of Voluntary Schools, there would be no difficulty in carrying them on on voluntary principles; but if they were not desired, they ought not to be made compulsory.
§ MR. MARK OLDROYD (Dewsbury)
wished to confirm the statement made by the hon. Member for West Ham as to the position in which members of the Church of England would be 850 put by the operation of this compulsory sub-section. A clergyman, whose views had been made known to him, was the manager of a parish school, which was attended by children of whom the great majority were the children of Nonconformists. In his desire to retain the goodwill of the parents this clergyman did not insist upon any extreme dogmatic teaching in his school, and he was mortally afraid of this compulsory clause because he believed that if he joined an association his co-religionists would bring pressure to bear upon him to induce him to intensify his dogmatic teaching. If he were to do that he felt that it would alienate from him the parents' sympathy. Now supposing this clergyman was to refuse on these grounds to join the association, would that be considered by the Department a reasonable cause for withholding the 5s. grant from the school?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The association would have no such power as the clergyman appears to suppose. It is quite a delusion on his part.
§ MR. OLDROYD
was not satisfied with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman. This clergyman, it was to be presumed, knew his own position, and what awaited him, if once subjected to the clergy of his neighbourhood, who would be associated with him if a federation of schools were made compulsory.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomery),
most of whose observations could not be heard in the Gallery in consequence of loud and prolonged cries of "Divide," was understood to say that he knew several clergymen who shared the apprehensions of the reverend gentleman referred to by the hon. Member for Dewsbury. Whatever evils might attach to the proposed associations would be intensified if they were made of a compulsory character.
§ Question put, "That the words of the Sub-section down to the word 'or," line 6, stand part of the Clause."851
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 188; Noes, 59.—(Division List, No. 120.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
claimed to move, "That the Question 'That the words of the Clause down to the word "The," in page 2, line 11, stand part of the Clause,' be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question 'That the words of the Clause down to the word "The," in page 2, line 11 stand part of the Clause' be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 188' Noes, 52.—(Division List, No. 121.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words of the Clause down to the word 'The,' in page 2, line 11, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 186; Noes, 51.—(Division List, No. 122.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
moved, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.