HC Deb 18 March 1897 vol 47 cc987-91

Where an endowment is attached to any school to which an aid grant might be made under this Act, the existence of such endowment shall not be deemed to be a ground for withholding the aid grant from such school; but if any aid grant is paid to such school under this Act provision may be made, either by scheme or by an arrangement to be sanctioned by the Education Department, that a part of the annual income of the endowment, not less than the sum paid to the school in the same year in respect of the aid grant under this Act, shall be applied for the educational benefit of the scholars in such school, whether by means of advanced classes or of exhibitions or maintenance allowances.

A scheme to be made as aforesaid may be made under the provisions of section seventy-five of the Elementary Education Act 1870, as applied by section three of the Endowed Schools Act, 1873, or under the provisions of the Charitable Trusts Acts, 1853–1894, or under the provisions of the Endowed Schools Acts, 1869 to 1889, as may be proper in each case. He said that there were a large number of small endowed schools in the country which were now used as elementary schools. These schools were established before the present century, at a time when there was no general provision for education in the rural districts, beyond the old dames' schools. A parish which received the gift of an endowed school in those days had a great benefit and advantage over its neighbours. But in the course of the present century the conditions had completely changed. Public elementary schools were now universal, and a large number of these old endowed schools had come under the Department and were regularly inspected for the grant. The parish with the endowed school was no better off now than the neighbouring parishes, which had schools supported partly by private subscriptions and partly by public grant. But if the parish were no better off than its neighbours, somebody must be better off. Who was it? It was the well-to-do people in the parish whom the endowment relieved from the necessity of subscriptions. That was hardly a happy result for a charity intended by its pious founder to benefit the poor. If the endowed school were by reason of its endowment held to be non-necessitous, and, therefore, not entitled to the aid grant, there would be a practical injustice by depriving the school of the benefit which its endowment ought to give it over other schools. There was a great want of schools in the rural districts which give a superior education to that which was provided in the elementary schools, and it had been suggested with all the weight of a Royal Commission, that one useful way in which a better education could be provided would be by choosing a certain number of schools, especially those which possess endowments, and placing them, so to speak, in higher departments, and in those higher departments the education of the promising children might be carried further, and in that way the whole parish might be benefited. That was the line which might be followed in the case of the schools in question. If they received the aid grant from the Department, it seemed reasonable to require that such increase to their endowment should be used to confer higher benefits on the inhabitants of the whole parish, and especially to the poorer inhabitants.

Clause Read the First time.

On the Motion "That the Clause be Head a Second time,"


said everybody would so far sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman as to think he had not gone beyond his duty in pressing forward the interest of secondary education. After all his Amendment and speech had nothing whatever to do with primary education; their relation was to secondary education; and the speech went a little beyond the limit of the Amendment.


explained that the endowments he alluded to were those which might be said to be on the border line between elementary and secondary, and whose teaching might be called higher grade elementary.


had never been quite able to distinguish between higher grade elementary and secondary, and being incapable of drawing such a line he would not follow the right hon. Gentleman in the argument he had developed. But he would put a case. Supposing there was a school with an endowment of £5 a child. To ask the House to vote part of the £620,000 a year to schools which already had an endowment of £5 a child appeared to be a proposition so extravagant that it really ought not to be entertained for a moment. [Cheers.] There were schools in many of our poorer districts in which really the endowment was nothing more than a capitalised subscription. But there was a great difference between such cases and laying down as a guide to the Education Department that, no matter what the endowment of the school may be, it was not to be counted as eliminating the school from the class of necessitous and placing it in the category of non-necessitous. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would feel that while they sympathised with the object it was impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment.


pointed out that there were a considerable number of endowed schools which were really not Church schools but undenominational schools. If such schools were anxious to escape association they might do so under Subsection 5 of Clause 1, under the claim that they did not belong to the religious majority of the association, being undenominational schools. That might be urged as a reason for treating, at any rate, endowed schools of that sort somewhat tenderly. He was not at all sure that the pious founder had any desire when he left his money for the benefit of education to relieve landlords and wealthy squires of another generation. He thought it was perfectly fair to hold the view that the great mass of them intended to do something for the education of the children. It, therefore, appeared to him that in the distribution of these grants they ought not to take away money because the pious founder left that money many years ago for the benefit of the children. If they did not give these parishes their fair share of the grant they would be alienating a portion of the money left by the pious founder. Why should they seek to alienate it? Why should the manager not be allowed to keep the children at school a few years longer, and give them a fair share of the aid grant? The manager was entitled to say, "Do not take away front me my share under the plea that I am not necessitous because we happen to enjoy an endowment conferred on us in days gone by."


agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that an endowed school ought not to be penalised because of these grants. A rich school ought not, of course, to be treated as a poor school was treated. The money was contributed for the purpose of education and especially of religious education, and in that respect it should be treated as subscriptions. He hoped that in the administration of these grants they would treat the endowments as nothing more or less than voluntary subscriptions, and not allow existing endowments to in any way penalise any school.


supported the clause proposed in the clause, which he thought was entitled to favourable consideration.


said he happened to be one of those persons to whom reference had been made by the right hon. Gentleman. He was what was called "a pious founder "—[laughter]—not at all by his own wish. [Laughter.] He regretted that the First Lord of the Treasury could not understand why the money should be kept back simply because there was an endowment.

MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

thought it was somewhat strange that hon. Gentlemen opposite should now be urging that there should be no distinction between necessitous and non-necessitous schools. He had always urged that it was impossible to distinguish between the two, because nearly all schools were necessitous.


in asking leave to withdraw the clause, hoped that the discussion would have the effect of calling the attention of hon. Members to the extreme gravity of the question.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


moved the following new clause:—