HC Deb 01 August 1898 vol 63 cc709-43

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [30th July]— That the Bill be now read a second time.


The subject with which this Bill deals has been before the House of Commons for a very long time. After it had been brought forward in various ways and upon various occasions, in 1891 a Select Committee was appointed, which, after a very long and exhaustive inquiry into the general subject, reported in 1892, and it is upon the Report of that Committee that substantially this Bill now before the House is founded. But that is not all. In the Session of 1893 the subject of the Report of the Select Committee on the subject of the superannuation of teachers was brought before the House itself, and on that occasion the House resolved unanimously that it was desirable that a national State-aided system of superannuation for teachers in public elementary schools in England and Wales should be established at an early date. Well, that was a mandate which no Executive Government could ignore, and accordingly in the same year a Departmental Committee was appointed for the purpose of framing a Bill which should give effect to the Report of the Select Committee. The Departmental Committee consisted of two officials of the Education Department, one official of the Scottish Education Department, one official representing the Treasury, the actuary of the National Debt Office, and the actuary of the Friendly Societies, the latter to be regarded as an independent unofficial representative. This Committee framed a scheme which this Bill follows closely, and the Report of that Committee was laid upon the Table of the House at the-beginning of the Session of 1895, so that it had been practically before the House for four Sessions. In the Report there is a full account of the probable operation of the scheme, and in the appendix there is an exact valuation showing the amount that the teachers will get. There was a sub-Committee, consisting of the Treasury official and the two actuaries, and they show as far as can be shown the amount which it is expected that the teachers will get under the scheme; and what the cost to the State is likely to be in the immediate future is shown, as well as the probable, cost for the next 35 years. The information which that Report contains, and which really is the case of the Government in recommending this Bill for the consideration of Parliament, has been really for four years before Parliament, and has been referred to repeatedly and discussed thoroughly in the Press and elsewhere. Well, now, the only respect in which this Bill differs, the only fundamental and important difference between the Report of the Select Committee and the proposal now made, is that the Bill includes not only the elementary teachers in England and Wales, but also those in Scotland. Now at the present moment the teachers ii Scotland are in a better position than the elementary teachers in England and Wales, because in Scotland school boards have power to grant pensions to their teachers, which power no English school board possesses. No doubt in large centres of population like Edinburgh and Glasgow the school boards have intimated their intention of making provision for the elementary teachers whom they employ. So far, therefore the Scottish teachers are in a very much better position than the English teachers, and this Bill does not in any way interfere with their position, because under the Bill they will have the option of remaining where they are, or of coming within the provisions of he Bill. Therefore, if they think their prospects under the school board are better than their prospects under this Bill, they can remain as they are, and it will be entirely a matter for their own determination. But no doubt in future English, and Scottish teachers will be placed on exactly the same footing.


Hear, hear!


The honourable Member cheers that comment, but I do not think that it is an unjust thing for Parliament to do.


But the teachers in Scotland are in a better position now.


Yes, they are, and any attempt to differentiate between the two classes will, I think, be extremely unlikely to get the assent of Parliament unless it is accompanied by very strong arguments indeed. What is the objection to the Bill? First, there is an appeal for delay on the ground that Parliament should not provide for teachers until provision has been made for more training colleges where they can be trained to improve the efficiency of education in time to come. I yield to no one in my strong desire to see training colleges for every teacher who is willing to be trained. I have no doubt that the trained teacher is the better teacher, and the House may depend upon it that the Government will make every exertion, and is making every exertion, to increase the training college accommodation as rapidly as possible. I think it is a great misfortune, and, as I have said before, I believe that one of the obstacles to efficient education in this country is that teachers willing to be trained are unable to find training colleges. But is the want of sufficient training college accommodation any reason why a Superannuation Bill should be indefinitely postponed? A large number of teachers have to be certificated without going to a training college, and the real check on the number of teachers is not the want of training college accommodation, but the unwillingness of young people to enter the profession. Certainly the superannuation proposal in this Bill is calculated to increase the willingness of young people of both sexes to go into the teaching profession. If there is no more valid reason than this for postponing indefinitely this Measure, surely there ought to be no objection to at once passing it into law. This scheme has been before the country for four years, and it has had a great effect on the teaching profession. There are at this moment a great number of teachers in England and Wales who, both in the interests of efficient education and in their own interest, it is highly desirable should retire, but who hang on, have been hanging on, and will continue to hang on in the hope of seeing a Measure of this kind passed. They cannot be expected to resign on the very eve of the passage of such a Measure, and, on the other hand, the managers of schools cannot be expected to turn them out of the employment by which they earn their bread when they know it means starvation or the workhouse. Therefore both teachers and their employers are tempted by the expectation of the passing of a Bill of this kind to protract the existing state of things, which is undoubtedly very detrimental to the real efficiency of education, and I think that the House, in the interests of those people themselves, and in the interests of those schools, and in the interest of efficient education, will be wise to accept this Bill, which is carrying out the mandate of the House of Commons itself. It is quite true, as was said by the honourable Member who spoke last, that the passage of the Bill will be the signal for a number, perhaps an abnormal number, of teachers to retire, but I do not think It will be such a number as will cripple the schools or produce any sensible effect on the number of teachers in the country, and I think the numbers have been exaggerated. However, an abnormal number must certainly be expected to retire, but that will happen whenever the Bill passes. If it is put off, there will be an increasing number of retirements. The House has had this matter practically before it for four years. Some honourable Members seem to think that this Bill has been sprung on the House in the last days of the Session, but it is no such thing, for this Measure originated in the mandate of the House itself, and the Bill does nothing more than carry out the mandate of the House. It is a Bill which the House has expressed its assent to for years, and I do not know and cannot understand how there can be any reason for an extensive discussion. I cannot see how there can be any hesitation on the part of the House about anything which is really its own unanimous Resolution.

MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

If the right honourable Gentleman considers the Bill of such importance as he has just stated it is a great pity that he did not introduce it some months earlier. That is the objection I have to find now to endeavouring to run it through in silence. On the occasion when the Resolution was introduced, a few remarks were dragged out of him by my honourable Friend opposite, and on the present occasion a further speech in support of this Bill has been dragged out of him. Now, Sir, my objection to this Bill is that the House of Commons should be expected to assent to a scheme which involves an annual charge that will rise one does not know to what. When you bring in the Scottish teachers and recognise that the number of certificated teachers is largely increasing, and will largely increase, then I say it will come at the outside to a million a year, and that the House of Commons should be expected to accept a claim of that sort, without any time or any opportunity for criticism or discussion, is quite unreasonable. No doubt, as the right honourable Gentleman has said, the question has been discussed for a long time, and no doubt the House in 1893 assented unanimously to the scheme in Sir Richard Temple's Resolution. No doubt we have individually stated our feelings on this scheme, and so have we in regard to the scheme for old age pensions.


Not all of us.


Well, some of us have, at any rate. But it does net follow that because we have approved of the general principle of a Bill we are bound to swallow the scheme whole which any Departmental Committee puts before us. In the first place, I would like to mention what the cost of the scheme—which I do not think the right honourable Gentleman mentioned to the House—will be, and I may say that it rises at a very rapid rate. According to the Parliamentary Committee in the first year it will be £25,000; in the fifth year, £100,000; 10th year, £200,000; 15th year, £300,000, rising gradually to a maximum of £600,000. And, according to the Report, it rises in 20 years to £390,000; in 30 years to £530,000; in 35 years to £560,000; and then gradually increases to £600,000, which is the maximum. But that is not all. You have the whole of the Scotch teachers to add to that, and they number 10,000 teachers. Now, in 1894, the teachers numbered in England and Wales 55,000, and the number of teachers is rapidly increasing. The paragraph at the end of the Report must be considered, because it points out that the cost of the scheme will very largely depend upon that part of the scheme which provides for pensions for the incapacitated. Now, there were in 1896 something like 56,700 certificated teachers, and an increase over the previous year of 3,800. You can, according to the Report of the Commissioners, reckon up the total amount required, because it states it at about £11 per teacher, and the amount can be arrived at by multiplying the number of teachers by that sum. In regard to the scheme of 1893, the present Leader of the Opposition put the capitalised value of Sir Richard Temple's scheme before the House, and it in many ways differs from the present scheme, and he put the present value at £25,000. Now I cannot calculate what the present capitalised value will be, but I think £20,000 will be a very moderate estimate. Well, now, Sir, this Bill has never been considered by the House of Commons, and it is quite different from the proposals of the Select Committee and from the scheme of Sir Richard Temple which he proposed in the Debate of 1893, and there is no consideration of a quid pro quo. You are granting the teachers a pension and giving them a very great and good concession; but you give it them without taking the opportunity to ensure any return for what you give. Now, the old position of the teacher requires looking at from the point of view of efficient education. The supply of teachers at the present is very inefficient, the training colleges are very few, and we have to rely upon the untrained article. Now, it is very hard to get rid of the inefficient teachers, and more control is required over the teachers by the State. Now, the Committee of 1892 pointed that out very strongly. They said:— If a system of superannuation is to be called into existence there must be some authority, some organisation, and even some aid from the State—that is, from the Imperial funds. In this connection your Committee desire to point out that the benefit conferred by the State on the teachers by the addition to their salaries of a State-aided and managed superannuation, will, for the future, afford a justification for a more direct control than is at present exercised over the conduct of this service, and more particularly over the standard of efficiency in the teaching to be demanded in order to obtain certificates. Now, that point was strongly dwelt upon in the Debate on Sir Richard Temple's Motion in the House of Commons. The late Vice-President of the Council on Education spoke strongly of the mischief caused by the inefficient teacher, and my right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin, with his usual pointed term of epigram, said, that those who pay the piper have a right to call the tune. If we recognise these people as servants of the State, we must give the Education Office control over them"; and he very justly took that line of policy. Thus, while supporting the Motion of Sir Richard Temple for a superannuation fund, he laid down strongly the line that we ought to take the opportunity of looking into their position. And, Sir, there are numerous other changes which appear in the Report of the Departmental Committee, in which they alter the scheme from what it was when it was originally before the House. Now, this Report has worked out the question most carefully, and they have worked it out accurately, but it appears that the only evidence which they took was that of the honourable Member for West Ham, who assisted them very materially in giving them the views of the teachers, but they only took his assistance in modifying the grounds on which the House of Commons supported it; and while I attach the greatest value to my honourable Friend's opinion, I do think that before the House of Commons and before Parliament consents to this scheme we ought to have wider criticisms and judgment from other sources as to the changes that we are making in the recommendations of our own Committee. For example, the Select Committee recommended that the contribution from teachers should be in proportion to their salary, and they recommended that teachers should be allowed to contribute more than a minimum sum. They recommended that upon the teachers' contribution interest should be allowed at 3 per cent., and this they did with a view to encourage thrift. Now, the Departmental Committee took strongly an opposite view to this. They held that— We wish, therefore, to express our emphatic opinion that no provision should be made in a scheme for additional contributions from teachers, whether optional or compulsory. The scheme of the Select Committee holds out the temptation of guaranteed interest at 3 per cent. per annum, involving, at present, an indirect State subsidy, in respect of these additional contributions. If, as we think, the rate of interest should be the current rate obtainable upon investment in State funds, the attraction which the power of adding to their contributions appears to have for the teachers will probably be much diminished. They pointed out that it would be a very much simpler scheme if you make it the same for everybody, but the main objection they take is the objection of principle, which may be right or wrong, but upon which the House of Commons is entitled to express its view, because the Departmental Committee is not a final authority. They say:— Our chief objection to the proposal is of a much more fundamental character. We think that the object of a system of superannuation for teachers should be limited to securing them against want on their retirement, and should make provision for this on the same basis alike for all teachers -whatever their salaries, without distinction. It seems most undesirable that the State should require teachers to invest savings from their salaries—beyond those requisite for obtaining the means of subsistence in old age—in the payment of additional premiums for the purpose of increasing their deferred life annuities. This would be to compel the adoption, to an unnecessary extent, of a particular form of thrift, tending to prevent teachers in the receipt of good salaries from making due provision for their families. It seems desirable to leave them complete liberty to invest their surplus savings in any way they think proper. That may be a convincing argument, or it may not, but it is a very important question on which our opinion ought to be taken. As to the opinion of the National Union of Teachers, they desire— that the additional contribution proposed should be optional instead of compulsory. But the Departmental Committee object to that, and they also object to give any higher interest than the actual rate of interest at which the Government can employ many of them. I think that is a very doubtful proposal indeed. My own view is that it is right to encourage thrift, and that we should offer them a better rate of interest than the bare 2½ per cent., or which may be 2¼ per cent., or even 2 per cent. before this scheme is carried out, and the commercial rate of interest, I think, is the very worst way of encouraging them to be thrifty in the future. That is a question which this House ought to express its opinion upon, for we cannot accept the view of the Departmental Committee as final. Even the Departmental Committee differ in a great many other points from the Select Committee. They altered the age of superannuation, and they put it higher; they altered the point of commencement of the Bill; they altered the methods of dealing with existing teachers; they altered the number of teachers included in the scheme; they abolished optional retirement, and it was a point which many of the teachers were anxious to see, and they have provided that in the case of leaving the profession the amount of their subscriptions should be returned. Now, Sir, I should just like to consider one or two of the chief provisions of the Bill itself. I do not want to go through them all, but I want to take some of them which are matters of considerable importance. There is the question of the incapacitated teachers, which is dealt with in clause 2, and there it appears that— Where a teacher satisfies the Treasury in the prescribed manner that he—

  1. "(a) has served a number of years of recorded service, not less than ten and not less than half the years which have elapsed since he became certificated; and
  2. "(b) has not at the date of the application been for more than the prescribed time unemployed in recorded service; and
  3. "(c) has become permanently incapable, owing to infirmity of mind or body, of being an efficient teacher in a public elementary school; and
  4. "(d) is not included by the precribed disqualifications, the Treasury may, subject to the prescribed conditions and to the provisions of this Act, grant to such teacher, out of moneys provided by Parliament, an annual allowance (in this Act called 'a disablement allowance'), not exceeding—
    1. "(i.) if the teacher is a man, twenty pounds for ten complete years of recorded service, with the addition of one pound for each complete additional year of recorded service; and
    2. "(ii.) if the teacher is a woman, fifteen pounds for ten complete years of recorded service, with the addition of thirteen shillings and fourpence for each complete additional year of recorded service."
With regard to these service allowances they can be claimed by the teacher, and he can come forward and say that he has become incompetent, and that he has become incapable of performing his duties. I think if you are making allowances of that sort you ought to increase the power of the Department if you say that when a man is incapable that he shall compulsorily retire, because you are giving him a very large sum. I think you ought not to give that additional privilege to this profession without at the same time taking the precaution by which you shall find yourself able to raise the standard of efficiency of that profession. Take, for example, the scale which seems to me to be a very liberal one. Now, take a man at 55 years of age, who has served 34 years, and he declares himself incompetent, and satisfies the Treasury that he is incapacitated. He can retire with a pension of £44 a year. A woman of the same age can retire with a pension of £31 a year. Now, Sir, some provision of this kind is very necessary, and this whole scheme, I would like to point out, has not been before the House, or under the criticism of the House, but has been worked out by a Departmental Committee, and subject to discussion in the Select Committee of the House. It was urged that some scheme of this sort was desirable, but they did not succeed in forming any such scheme at all, and this scheme, which has undoubtedly great merits, has been worked out by the Departmental Committee, and has not been before the House at all. Then, turning to the question of existing teachers, are they to be compelled to join this scheme or not? Here, again, there is a considerable divergence of opinion between the Select Committee and the Departmental Committee. The Select Committee hold that in order to get the scheme working rapidly it was fair to all teachers, all existing teachers under 10 years' standing, that they should be counted as future teachers, and should be forced to join the scheme, and that it should be compulsory upon them. But the Departmental Committee—again after consulting my honourable Friend, and after a good deal of hesitation—decide otherwise. They say:— The expediency of making a retirement and pension scheme compulsory on existing teachers, if not generally, at least on those under a fixed age or period of service, seemed a point on which to take the evidence of a representative of the teachers. We accordingly put it to Mr. Gray, who informed us that it was the general desire that the scheme should be compulsory, provided the pensions secured were of sufficient amount; but that, if the maximum pension were fixed at about £52, the teachers would be opposed to a compulsory scheme. He could not suggest either an age or a period of service where any line could be drawn. That evidence shows what a difficult and nicely balanced question this is, and it is a question of how far you are bringing in existing teachers into the scheme. They go on to say:— As it seems impossible to provide pensions to existing teachers on so liberal a scale, we think, on the whole, that they should not be compelled to come under the scheme, but that a year should be given them in which to exercise their option. Such option should be exercised by every existing teacher once and for all, within a year of the establishment of the scheme, and should be irrevocable. Now, I confess that that puzzles me, for they go on to say:— Existing teachers not joining would have to give up all claims to a pension under the existing minutes. Now, Sir, there again the question has to be considered: is this scheme, this new scheme, of the Bill to be in the place of existing schemes? The Parliamentary Committee say yes. They say:— It may be observed that the existing arrangements for granting pensions to teachers would have to be cancelled on the establishment of a superannuation system, which would be applicable to all teachers. But that view is very strongly objected to by Scotch teachers. Honourable Members have no doubt received communications in regard to this Bill from the Educational Institute of Scotland, pointing out that under the Education Act of 1872 the school boards of Scotland are empowered to grant pensions to teachers out of school funds, and in the exercise of their discretion they have in many instances dealt generously with the teachers. In asking for this they certainly in the matter of pensions do not contemplate the abolition of the existing pensions. The institute has always claimed the benefits of the pension provisions of the Act of 1872 in addition to such further powers as might seem to be necessary. I confess that I think that that is a reasonable thing. There was no compulsion on the Scotch School board to give a pension, but if they saw fit to give a pension, and a more generous pension, why should they not do so? And why should they not have the same power that they have at present, and why, when, pensions are being granted, should they not be entitled to take, as a part of what they wish to give to the teacher, this contribution of the Government, and the contribution of the teacher, according to this scheme? Therefore we, the teachers of Scotland, are directly opposed to my honourable Friend, whose position, as stated in the Report, is this: on this important question, of the contribution from managers we consulted Mr. Gray, who, on behalf of the teachers, expressed the strongest objection to any such proposal on the ground that the teachers would be liable to pay twice over. His view was that the managers' contributions would ultimately come out of the pockets of the teachers. That is certainly not the view of Scotch teachers, who while, of course, the present scheme does not cover all the ground that they wish, desire that the proposed scheme should go on beside the present scheme. With regard to the position of the existing teachers, the existing teachers under the scheme of the Bill get better terms than future teachers; and no doubt that is right. The reason is this, that if you did not give them better terms you would not get from them any contribution which would be worth having. Therefore larger allowances are made by Government to existing teachers, who are retiring shortly, than it is intended to give to future teachers, who will have had time to pay up their own share of the pension. But the allowance is made so high under this Bill that it will very often happen that a man who takes advantage of that incapacity allowance, and retires at 55, will get just as good a pension as if he had stayed on and paid for 10 years more. My honourable Friend shakes his head. But take the case of a man of 55, who works for 34 years; he retires with £44. Of course, he cannot get more if he retires with an incapacity allowance than if he worked the full time. It will happen that he will get as much at 55 as if he worked for 10 years more. The man who retires at 65 now gets just as much as a man of 45, who goes on contributing for 20 years, and then, at the end of that time, retires. A man at 65—just to give the case very shortly, if honourable Members will take the calculation from me, and will not insist on my going through them—a man of 65, who retires with 44 years' service, will be granted a superannuation allowance at the rate of 21s. a year, which will amount to £46 4s.; but a man who is at the present moment 55, and has 34 years' service, will have to pay for the next 10 years £3 a year. His payment will earn him an annuity of £4, and the allowance granted to him will be £40 17s.; that makes it £44 17s. altogether; whereas, if that same man at 55 were to retire now, and declare himself incapacitated, he would get £44 of the allowance. That is to say, by working on for 10 years, and contributing £3 a year, he only gets an additional 17s. And the case is just as bad with a younger man, a man or 45, who has got 24 years' service now; if he comes in under the Bill he will continue to pay £3 for 20 years. The annuity he will earn will be £10 15s. and the allowance £35 4s., and he will only get £45 19s. That is to say, for his 20 years of work he will only get an increase of £2. Now, Sir, no doubt there is scriptural precedent for this principle. There is the parable of the vineyard, where we know that everybody, whether they worked a short time or a long time, got a penny alike at the end f the day; but that system of payment did not at all satisfy the labourers of that vineyard, and I shall be very much surprised if any scheme of this sort comes in, if the labourers in this vineyard are satisfied. Now, Sir, there is the case of Scotland; there again Scotland is in this difficulty, that the House has never had the matter before it. Scotland was not within the reference to either Committee, it was not within the reference to the Select Committee; it was not discussed in the Debate on Sir Richard Temple's Motion, though everyone felt and everyone knows that pensions in one country will be a necessary sequel to pensions in he other. But, here, why do you force the existing teachers to an option? Why do you not allow them to continue the alternative which they have at present? Another thing I should like to ask the Lord Advocate is, what is going to be the position of future Scotch teachers? Are they to be compelled to exercise an option or are they not? I confess I am quite unable to understand that. Of course, there is a general clause, the first clause, which covers the whole country, and then the Act goes on to explain, in clause 12, sub-section 5, and I should like to know whether the future Scotch teacher comes under that Act, or whether he does not. According to the terms, I should say it is undoubted that the existing teacher was given his option, but that the future teacher would have his alternative. I do not know, though, if that is really the scheme; but is that the intention? The sub-section is this— Nothing contained in or done under this Act shall be construed to prevent a school board in Scotland from granting under the powers conferred by section sixty-one of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, a retiring allowance, payable out of the school fund to any teacher of a public school under their management, unless the teacher has accepted this Act in pursuance of the provisions of section five hereof. Now, of course, only an existing teacher can accept this Act in pursuance of section 5 thereof. Therefore a future teacher is not within it, and, therefore, the sub-section says nothing is to prevent the School Board from giving him a pension under section 61 of the Education Act. Well, Sir, I really do not know whether that is intended or not; but my whole argument is that these matters require consideration before any decision can be come to upon them. Then, Sir, it has been, I believe, suggested that the difficulties in regard to Scotland might be met by excluding Scotland from the operation of the Act. But I do not think that would suit us at all. I think we Scotch Members would have a strong objection to that, on this special ground, that Scotch teachers will be in a far stronger position if they continue united with English teachers in the Bill. If they are cut out of this Bill with the promise that a future Bill will be brought in dealing with Scotland, and Scotland only, then I am afraid we, the Scotch teachers, will be absolutely at the mercy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will come down with a Bill, and will say, "Here is a scheme; you may take it or leave it"; and I am afraid it is quite certain it would not include the privileges which Scotch teachers attach importance to. Therefore I think Scotland should continue in the same boat with England in this matter; and from the point of view of the teacher I think, with regard to Scotland, we should certainly object to Scotch teachers being cut out of this present Bill. Now, Sir, I have gone through the details, of the Bill at some length. Really I should not have thought it necessary to go through them at such length if I had known that there was any effective Committee stage—that there was any possibility of effectively discussing it in Committee here or upstairs. But before this Bill becomes law these points must be discussed effectively, and not left on the authority of previous discussions. I think the Bill is a very able scheme indeed, I think it is very well worked out in many ways, and I think the Departmental Committee have produced a Report which brings to a perfectly clear issue nearly all the questions that have to be decided by the House of Commons. On the strength of the Report of that Departmental Committee I think there is really not much more to do. So far as the evidence goes I think the; work has been done before by the Select Committee; and, so far as looking into the matter from an actuarial point of view and clearing the ground, the issue, I think, the Departmental Committee has done a great deal. Here are the issues before us, on which I for one am not prepared to' accept the decision of the Departmental Committee as final. On some of the points I agree with the Departmental Committee, on others I agree with the Select Committee, on others I have my own view. But this is a large scheme which ought to be discussed by the House of Commons. All these large pension schemes require very careful scrutiny and consideration, and I do not think it is right to put forward a scheme which will make a grant to the members of one particular profession, whose capital value is something like 20 millions sterling, to bring that in on the 28th July, and to ask the House of Commons to pass that scheme without any consideration at all. I appeal to the Leader of the House in regard to this matter. Let him take the Second Reading now if he likes, but withdraw the Bill after that; introduce it again at the beginning of the next Session, let it go to a Select Committee, let it be discussed up there; let these various points, the most important of which I have endeavoured to put before the House, be discussed by that Select Committee, and then upon the finding of that Select Committee I think the House will be able more safely to proceed, and with very little discussion. But I cannot agree, I cannot consent, to the Bill going for- ward without some promise of that sort, and, therefore, Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day three months.

* MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)

I beg to second the Amendment of my honourable Friend that this Bill be read a second time this day three months. This question has been before the House and also before the country since 1891, but it has only been before this House during that time in the form of an abstract resolution, advocating State aided superannuation of teachers, to which proposal I believe there is no dissentient in this House. But, although we have bad the matter discussed and considered by two Committees, practically this Bill to carry out an enormous financial liability, increasing to a million a year, has only been eight Parliamentary days before honourable Members. Since the 21st they have had only eight working days to consider it, and therefore I hope the right honourable Gentleman will act on the suggestion of my honourable Friend, and take the Second Reading if he pleases, but bring in the Bill again next year at the beginning of the Session, and allow it to be adequately discussed. It is true that the Bill is based on the Reports of the two Committees, but at the same time it differs from the recommendations of those Committees, just as those Committees differed from each other. And there is one important consideration in the matter, and that is that Scottish interests were not considered by those Committees at all. If they had considered the case of teachers in Scotland, they might not have arrived at the same conclusion as that at which they did arrive, and their final recommendations might have differed from those which they have made. There is no doubt that under this Bill the teachers in Scotland would be at a serious disadvantage in comparison with the position which they occupy at present. In large school boards in Scotland, though it may not be the case in small ones, the allowances made to teachers now, according to the circular of the Educational Institute, range from £100 to £150 a year, but under this Bill those teachers would receive perhaps £40 or £50 a year. I reckon that under this Bill the highest amount would be about £50, and my honourable Friend calculated it at rather less than that. Therefore there would be an enormous difference to teachers in Scotland if they accept this Bill as it stands. I cannot help thinking that the scale of pensions here, when we contrast them with the scale of pensions passed through this House for various other officials during the past two years, is certainly, I might almost say, regulated on a scale of parsimony Which I am surprised at, considering, as I think, that we are at least as much indebted to our schoolmasters as we are to some of the classes to which I have referred to whom pensions have been given. But I daresay the schoolmasters in England are so anxious to have some certain scale of pensions that they will be content to accept the very modest terms set out in this Bill, which is now proposed to the House. Now, Sir, the suggestion which my honourable Friend has made with reference to bringing this Bill forward again next year indicates, I think, the best course Which the Government can pursue. My honourable Friend has stated the objections to this Bill so fully and completely that I have no reason for going over the ground he has already covered, and at this period of the Session, when we have so much work to get through before the House rises, I hope the Government will defer the Bill for full discussion to next Session.


Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the Second Reading of this Bill, and I venture to hope that my honourable Friend who sits behind me will not persist with the Motion which he has made. I have on previous occasions opposed this Bill, and I opposed it upon the ground that until the more urgent needs of the Voluntary schools were attended to it appeared to me to be impassible for this House to vote a large sum of money for any purpose connected with the superannuation of teachers. But as the Government, at any rate to some extent, met the Voluntary schools last year, I feel bound to support them now in their proposal for the superannuation of teachers, which is in itself an important matter. But I must honestly confess that I think that the manner in which the Government have brought this subject before the House does render them open to the criticism, of my honourable Friend. I think we gathered very little, if he will allow me to say so, from the speech of my right honourable Friend the Vice-President. He told us, no doubt, something of what the Bill contained, but practically he did not explain a single clause or provision of the Bill. He did not tell us what the cost to the country would be, or what benefit the teachers would receive, or what the first or the second clause meant, both of which require a considerable amount of explanation. I have no objection to the House adjourning early, for it is a most convenient course, but I do not think that neglect to explain to the House of Commons the details of an important Measure will tend to save time. I think we are entitled to know, when we are asked to vote a sum of £600,000 a year—for that is what it is—the details on which the Government grant a large sum of money for this purpose. I do not know that I need express any objections to specific clauses of the Bill, but I should like to know for what reason they have put the first clause in the Bill. It provides that a teacher certificated after the commencement of this Act shall not be recognised by the Education Department as a certificated teacher until the Department are satisfied in the prescribed manner of his physical capacity. Is that done for the purpose of guarding superannuation, or on general grounds? I daresay it is true on general grounds that there may be evidence before the Education Department to show that teachers break down from the very heavy work thrown upon them. But then there is the question to which the honourable Member referred, of an increased contribution from the more highly-paid teachers, and on that point the Select Committee recommended one proposition of the emoluments, and the Departmental Committee another. The Government have taken a middle course, so far as I can understand. Well, the honourable Member for West Ham, who knows more about it than I do, shakes his head, but that shows the inconvenience that must arise if the Government do not explain their Bill. This is an important matter, and as I read the Bill, I think it will require some explanation from the Government. My right honourable Friend, in moving the Second Beading of the Bill, stated that we ought to pass this Bill because certain schools in this country were in a difficult position in respect of having a large number of teachers who ought to retire, but were hanging on in the hope of a Bill of this kind. I have not the least doubt that that is true, but I am very much interested to know how this Bill will help them, and I would ask my right honourable Friend when he replies, as I suppose he will, to tell us what advantage to the teacher of 65 years of age this Bill will be, and what he will get by it. I gather that he will get about £52 a year, assuming that he has served from the age of 21. My honourable Friend shakes his head again, and it is quite clear, if I am wrong again, that this matter requires the careful consideration of the Government. I do not understand how far this Bill will be an advantage to the existing teacher who has been a teacher all his life up to the age of 65, when this Bill becomes law. Now, Sir, the cost of the proposal in this Bill will be £600,000 a year. An honourable Member opposite said that would not be so, at any rate, until 25 or 30 years. But that is a suggestion which we should deprecate in a businesslike assembly such as the House of Commons, because by whatever sum we vote now, we are entrenching upon the amount of money which the House will be ultimately prepared to vote for purposes of this kind, and I think that is a very important matter in view of an ultimate settlement of the education question. I speak with great diffidence on this subject of calculation, but I gather that in a normal case a teacher who has been so engaged from the age of 21 until the age of 65 may be able to retire on a pension of about £70 a year. The country will pay about one-third of the amount, and the teachers by their contributions will pay two-thirds. Well, Sir, there are two kinds of superannuation schemes. Under the Poor Law Superannuation Act, passed two years ago, the recipients of superannuation provided the whole of the necessary money, but there were schemes like the present where the country, pays a large proportion. In this case the country contributes a large proportion, and I support this scheme because I know that a very large number of teachers—mostly in Voluntary schools, but some in board schools—are underpaid. Therefore, I think it is of great importance, and an object well worthy of support, that we should increase their emoluments. I do not say this with regard to all, for there are some cases in which the salaries are altogether beyond what was contemplated when the Education Act was passed, or what the best friends of education have recommended, and this is a serious matter, when the country is asked to add to those emoluments. I recognise that it is very difficult to help the poor without also helping the rich, but we should keep both rather than neither. I very cordially support this Bill, but I do think it important that the House of Commons should recognise the fact that we voted a very large sum of money for this purpose of education, about £800,000, last year, and we are now going to vote another £600,000, and I want to know whether the Government have any determination in their own minds as to the system they are going upon. Have they made up their minds as to what they are ultimately going to do with regard to elementary education, or are they going to spend £100,000 after another £100,000 in a temporary and spasmodic manner, without having arrived at any definite determination in their own minds as to the system they favour, and what it will cost? I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government that when they come asking for these large sums of money, they ought to be prepared to form some real, definite, ultimate, and final policy; and that the policy of voting so many thousands one year, and so many more next year, is not a satisfactory way of dealing with any question. There is no doubt that when we get to the ultimate solution of this question, the fact that we have voted all these large sums will hamper the settlement, and it would be far more satisfactory if the Government would make up their own minds as to the ends they have in view. However, as regards this present Bill, I recognise the need there is for it, and I know that the teachers are anxiously awaiting it. I hope, therefore, my honourable Friend will not persist with his Amendment.

MR. W. JONES (Carnarvon, Arfon)

Sir, this Bill is not a perfect Bill, but it does something for the teachers. I say they are the only public body in this country working for the State who are without any provision to benefit them, in their old age. Therefore I should urge my Scotch friends to stand by those who are in favour of passing this scheme. Although it is not an ideal scheme it frankly recognises a claim on the part of the teachers, and that is the great principle. What is £600,000, after all, for a body of teachers who number from 60,000 to 80,000, and who are a class doing more for the emancipation of mankind from ignorance, prejudice, and crime than any other class in the country? And it is for that reason that I support the Second Reading of this Bill.

SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

As I had the honour of serving on a Select Committee that considered this subject I rejoice that the Government have brought forward this Bill. The Report of the Committee was drawn by Sir Richard Temple, one of the highest financial authorities, and the Report of the Select Committee was referred in due course to the Departmental Committee. I think there are no grounds for delay. I am on the boards of four training colleges, I have met the inspectors who have examined at the training colleges, and I do not think it is fair to impute incompetency to us. The Report itself contains many details, but one proposal in the first clause I believe to be a most But one proposal which has attracted admirable one. But one proposal which has attracted my favourable consideration is in the first clause, which says that after the commencement of the Act a certificated teacher should not be recognised by the Department until it could be satisfied as to his physical capacity. Now, I believe that to be a most admirable proposal, and I hope that in future years it will be still more largely applied. I had the honour of being a member of the Committee presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I am anxious to see the superannuation scheme carried through, which will be a valuable reform. Some objection has been taken to the increase in the figures as regards contribution, but I believe that with an increase of salary to the teacher there should also be an increase of contribution. There is one point on this clause to which I wish to draw attention, that which refers to the Departmental Report made in 1892. I hope the system which has hitherto prevailed will not be changed. I am perfectly sure that, whatever be the condition of affairs, the Report of our Committee must prevail. The Report to which I have referred proposed that the superannuation period should be 65 years, but I think that is too advanced a time of life. I know that in some of our great schools 60 is the age for retirement, but I think that if that is the age for the old schools, the age for retirement in elementary schools should be much lower. There is one other subject I desire to draw the attention of the right honourable Gentleman to. In our Report we gave the total number of teachers, men and women, but we calculated that from the middle of next century there will be a rapid diminution of teachers. I am anxious that this Bill should pass, because I believe that something more than the status of the teachers is involved in it and that is the cause of education. I am most anxious that this Bill should pass; I am most reluctant to say one word which may postpone it by undue observations. I have on many occasions spoken to this House on behalf of the teachers, and I have ventured to offer my humble tribute to their zeal and to their efficiency; but there is something in this matter more than the teachers, and that is education. I am perfectly sure the managers of many schools think—as I am perfectly sure is true—that in some cases the continued employment of venerable and most deserving teachers is an injury to education and a wrong to the teachers themselves, and being satisfied and entirely convinced that that is the case I thank the Government once more for their proposals, and I do hope that they will proceed and cause the passing of this present Bill into law as occasion arises.


I have only a few words to say. I entirely agree with the last speaker that 65 years of age is higher than one would like, and I entirely agree with another speaker—the noble Lord—that the provision made for the retired teachers is lower than one could desire. As to the other things in question I have only to say that after advocating and supporting this scheme—a scheme for pensions for teachers—for a great number of years, I welcome this Bill. Of course no Bill pleases everybody, but the Bill proposes to accomplish this great work, that those who devote their life to the teaching, both mentally and morally, of the young of our land, shall rot be left in their old age unprotected by the State for whom they have done so much. That is the great central principle of the Bill. I can recognise no class of the community, no class who serve the State and have a greater claim to the consideration of the State than our elementary school teachers, both men and women. They have engaged in an arduous, very often vexatious and most trying labour, and they have a most sacred duty to perform, and I cannot think that any reasonable person can fail to see the enormous claims these people have upon the sympathy of the State. One of the great reasons why I have always so strongly been in support of some pension scheme is that the school master and the schoolmistress shall be able to give their undivided attention to the teaching of our children, and not be disturbed by considerations of what is to become of them in the latter part of their life I do not know how far it would meet with support or consideration, but I should be perfectly willing myself, when some good scheme of pensions is provided for the teachers, to consider some regulations whereby both the men and the women were prevented from entering into any other work, where they have the opportunity of doing so. It is occasionally done, but not to any great extent, certainly not in our large towns, because the work is so severe that they have neither the opportunity nor sufficient strength to undertake it. I should be perfectly willing, to see that their whole mind, so far as the State can guarantee it, is given to their work. I felt, after the number of years in which I have advocated a scheme of this kind, that I could not let the present occasion go by without a word of thanks to the Government—an expression of thanks also, I am sure, on behalf of this large army of workers—at the introduction of this Bill, however late it may be in the Session, however imperfect it might be in detail, and however far it might satisfy the critics as to meeting their particular wishes. I sincerely trust that we shall have—I join with the noble Lord in trusting that we shall have—no divided opinion on a Bill of this kind, and that the honourable Member who spoke not long ago will not put the House, at this late period of the Session, to the necessity of a Division on the Bill. Since I have sat in Parliament I have not known a Bill containing provision for the expenditure of money which has met with my hearty support and approval more strongly than this Bill does, and I give it my hearty support, and vote if necessary; and I sincerely trust that the House may very shortly pass the Second Reading, and that the Bill may become law this Session.


Sir, the honourable Member for Hartlepool referred to some observations which were made on this subject a few years ago. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I retain the opinion which I then expressed—namely, that it would be most desirable that any great pension scheme for teachers in our elementary schools should be accompanied by a clearer recognition of their position and status. If I were to attempt to encumber the Bill with the additional provisions which I should wish the result would be that the Bill would be defeated and the Bill would not become law this Session, and I desire most strongly that this Bill should be pressed forward and become law. I do so from a different point of view from that of the Member who last spoke. I do not approach this so much as a grant in aid to necessitous teachers. It is not because they are doing noble work, because they are poorly paid, or because they are deserving of these pensions that I am most anxious to see this Bill passed. I want to see it passed in the interests of education; and I am convinced that until the nation secures some means of pro- viding for teachers who become old and who become more or less incapacitated, with their work, our educational system, will remain imperfect. Education is entrusted to men who have passed their work and cannot be got rid of because no authority which has the power to dismiss them will do so until the last shred of efficiency has departed. It is in order to secure the efficiency of the public service that I support the Bill. You cannot have an efficient service unless you have an efficient system of pension. Sir, with reference to the question with which I started—namely, that I would not injure the prospects of this, Bill by attempting to encumber it with, propositions affecting the interests of the teacher—I am encouraged to take the Bill as it stands, imperfect as it may be, because I remember the pension scheme which has now been in operation in regard to Irish teachers for more than 20 years was quite unaccompanied by any provisions as to the status of the Irish teacher. The scheme in Ireland has worked extremely well and done good, and I am therefore encouraged to support the Second Reading of this Bill and the subsequent stages in the hope and assurance that it will pass those remaining stages. The criticisms of the honourable Member, which may be well founded, do not affect the question whether we should support the Bill, because we may alter the Bill after it has become law. The Select Committee proposed that the ultimate pensions to teachers should be regulated with a view to the salaries of the teachers. The Departmental Committee, on the other hand, proposes to establish what one may call a minimum pension, which is what you want to secure the efficiency of the school. If sufficient on that head it will enable us to clear the schools of inefficient teachers, and at the same time, if it is thought, on mature reflection, desirable to provide a scheme in which the teachers should be able to secure pensions in relation to the salaries they receive, the present Bill would offer no obstacle to enlargement in that direction. If you start with a minimum pension, as the Bill proposes, you may expend it in the direction to which the honourable Member has referred. Because this Bill, so far as it goes, promises to be a great assistance in securing more efficient staffs in our schools, I very strongly support the Second Reading.


The Government have done well in introducing this Bill, even at so late a period of the Session. I think it will be very unfortunate if the brunt of the opposition should appear to come from Scotland, as apparently, judging from the speeches in this Debate, it has come. Now, Sir, my own impression is this, that it will cause very great regret in Scotland if this Measure is lost. The honourable Member for Partick is shrewd enough to recognise, and I am bound to agree with him, that we in Scotland have a great advantage in being included with England in this Bill. I think we should have suffered if we had not been. I think I gather from the Bill that Her Majesty's Government's intention of including Scotland was an afterthought, and if the Bill is deferred I recognise there is a great danger of Scotland being dropped, and for this reason I am particularly anxious that nothing shall happen to the Bill. Some honourable Members have condemned the Government in strong terms because time was not given us to discuss this Measure. We are all agreed that it is inconvenient that a Bill of this kind should be introduced at the end of the Session, but nothing is easier than for Members of the Opposition to indulge in vituperation. I do think the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Partick somewhat exaggerated his case when he compared this scheme to the old age pension proposal, for he must remember that no Commission has been able to recommend an old age pension scheme, whereas a Committee has recommended a definite scheme in connection with this Measure. This scheme has now been before the House for four years and is well known. I do not wish to indulge in any criticism of its details. I have no doubt we shall have an opportunity later, but I think the Measure is one that commends itself from two points of view—from the public point of view and the teachers' point of view. The first is by far the more important. We in Scotland desire such a Measure, because we do not wish old, inefficient, worn-out teachers in our schools. We, perhaps, are better off than England and Wales in this respect. I got a Return the other day of the number of teachers over the ages of 55 and 65, and the figures were 79 and 82 respectively, which is not at all bad under the circumstances. But, Sir, this Bill will remove all those disabled teachers. I hope, indeed, it will go further, and will deal with the cases of teachers who, though not 65, may be unfitted, not necessarily from actual disease, for teaching. If it does that it will, indeed, be an enormous benefit to education in Scotland. Regarding the teachers I only wish to make one remark. The honourable Member for Partick alluded to the circular issued by the Educational Institute, and the House might have understood that the Institute was hostile to the Bill. I can assure the House such is not the fact, and that the Institute would regret very much if this Bill were dropped. It is true that future teachers will benefit rather more than present teachers, because present teachers have smaller salaries, but I think it might be possible to amend the Bill in such a way as to allow the school boards to supplement the salaries. All I wish to say now is that it will be a matter of great regret if the Bill is lost, and I hope, if Her Majesty's Government think it necessary to adopt the suggestion to postpone the Bill until next Session—which I trust they will not—that they will give us a very distinct and definite promise that it will be taken up early next Session, and that Scotland will be included.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

Having served two years ago on the Select Committee which considered this subject, I should like to say a few words. Everyone who has studied the subject, or who regularly attended the meetings of the Committee, must see that a pension scheme is absolutely necessary, not so much in the interests of teachers as in the interests of education. There is no doubt whatever, from the many cases which were brought before us, that the present system tends, and necessarily tends, to the employment of old and worn-out teachers, because there is no possible means of otherwise providing for them. I think we are unanimous that some system of this sort should be adopted, but I join with my honourable Friend behind me in thinking it is a pity that the Bill was not brought in before, as there are a great many things in it to be considered. There is another side to the question, and it is this: we are practically making 80,000 persons State officials, because in future all the elementary teachers will be public civil servants, and although that is a question which may be open to difference of opinion, still I think it is to be regretted that such a large Measure as this should be passed without the opportunity of ordinary discussion. We must remember that the elementary teachers of this country are becoming year by year a most powerful and important body; but, inasmuch as they are becoming this great body, it does seem more desirable that this Measure should be most carefully considered by this House. I must candidly say that I regret extremely that one very important recommendation which the Committee made has been neglected altogether. It has been referred to by my honourable Friend, but it seems to me of such importance that I should wish to refer to it again. It is as follows— In this connection your Committee desire to point out that the benefit conferred by the State on the teachers by the addition to their salaries of a State-aided and managed superannuation will for the future afford a justification for a more direct control than is at present exercised over the conditions of their service, and more particularly over the standard of efficiency in teaching to be demanded in order to obtain certificates. One of the chief points we considered in the Committee was the educational question, and inasmuch as a sum which will amount ultimately to £600,000 a year, with a capital value of many millions, is to be added to the taxes of the country for the benefit of a certain class, it does seem to me to be unreasonable that we cannot adequately consider it. This Bill will be of great advantage to the teachers, but it can only be made of full advantage to the educational system if the clause in the Report of the Committee, which I have read, is to be considered and worked out. I myself should hesitate to support the Amendment, because I am strongly in favour of pensions for teachers, but I do say it is to be regretted that we are giving this large additional payment to the teachers without making any condi- tions as to greater efficiency among the teachers themselves.


I hope the honourable Member will withdraw the Motion which he has placed before the House; and though I agree with many of the objections put forward by the honourable Member for Islington, as to the lateness of the Session, and so forth, my duty is to leave the responsibility with the Government, who have chosen this opportunity for introducing this Bill. I certainly shall not oppose the Second Reading. I would, however, point out that there is some little doubt as to the application of the Bill to Scotland. As the right honourable Gentleman knows, we have already a pension scheme, which depends on the initiative of the local authorities. According to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman, the intention of the Bill is to supersede the operation of the present system of pensions in Scotland. I can only say, so far as I have been able to get information, that that is rather a more severe interpretation of the Bill than I have been able to extract from it. As I read the Bill it is open to the interpretation that the school boards are still to have the power to give pensions, but in opposition to that we have the speech of the Vice-President, in which he clearly indicated that present teachers would have a choice under the Bill, but future teachers would not. Whichever interpretation be correct there will be this objection, that you will be serving at the same time two classes of teachers under different systems. That introduces a complication which I do not think should prevent the Bill being read a second time, but which I think entitles the claim of the Scottish teachers to consideration from the Government during the Committee stage. As I have pointed out, the Bill will, of course, relieve school boards from the necessity of giving pensions to their teachers, but perhaps the Government will take into consideration whether they should not allow school boards to supplement whenever they choose the pensions granted to teachers. I do hope this Bill will pass its Second Reading. It is not for us to do anything to impede the beneficial operation of such a Measure as this, and I will be heartily glad to see it passed.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

I do not wish, to detain the House at any length; I merely wish to emphasise the observation which has just been made by my honourable Friend, who proved what is perfectly true, that by this Bill the teachers of our elementary schools may become civil servants. Now, there is a great scope in that direction. All civil servants are subjected to a very stringent rule as to the right of combination, and as to the right of expressing their views upon the Government of the day, their masters, in combination. It is extremely objectionable that civil servants should express their views to the Government at all, and I think under this Bill, of which I thoroughly approve, there should be a power to prevent such views being expressed. The views of teachers of opinion are sometimes of value, but the opinion of teachers of teaching are not necessarily so. Take the fact as it is; the teachers are becoming a powerfully organised body, and they are undoubtedly endeavouring to enforce their points by means of their organisation. That that is a bad practice has been recognised by all civil servants, and I think that matter ought to be recognised here. Whether it ought to be done under this Bill or not I do not know, but I think it ought. At all events, it ought to be taken into consideration by the Government.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

It is much to be regretted that Scotchmen had not a longer opportunity to peruse this Bill. It particularly affects Scotland, because it was not known in that country that the policy of the Government would exclude it. I should say that most of the Scotch Members have had comparatively little information as to the views the teachers take upon this Measure. If it had been before the House a little longer time, we should have had a greater opportunity of expressing our views than we have at present. I have had no information at all myself upon that subject. Nevertheless the principle of the Bill has been accepted. We have never, perhaps, deliberately considered whether we ought to make the elementary teachers of this country a branch of the Civil Service, but the principle of the Bill has been accepted by both sides of the House, by us as well as the honourable Members opposite, and therefore I think we can fairly say the time for discussing the general question has passed; and when my honourable Friend says that opportunity is being taken to alter the status of the Civil Service, and alter the allowances, and says that ought to involve certain rules which involve civil servants, then I think that we ought to be sure that a change so important as this has been thoroughly considered. I hope that one of the rules will be to give more authority as regards local authorities and private local managers, and that there should be some protection that the teachers should not be subjected to hasty or unjust dismissal. We, having agreed to the principle of the Bill, have now to consider whether there are any details in this Measure which ought to prevent it being read a second time. I noticed that my honourable Friend opposite kept away from the details, and referred to matters which I think were matters which should be more properly left to the Committee, unless indeed the alterations are so frequent as to make the Bill a bad one. My honourable Friend, however, must feel, after the length of time that has elapsed since this Measure was promised, that the elementary teachers would be unwise if they did not allow us to pass this Bill. I think that even in Scotland many of the elementary teachers will be in favour of passing the Bill. I hope, therefore, it will be allowed to pass. The Scotch teachers have one thing to complain of, particularly those who serve large school boards in the more wealthy parts of the country, because the fifth, section of clause 12 does appear to put it out of the power of the Scotch school boards to award a single penny to any teacher who is able to come in under this Bill. I hope, if that is the true interpretation of the section of clause 12, that the Government will alter it. It certainly looks like the true interpretation, and if that is so there will be a great deal of regret among the Scotch teachers, who do not see why the general benefit may not, in the case of exceptional merit, be granted with regard to their own schools, which are the best authority to know whether the teachers have given faithful service. I hope the Government will consider that point when we come to Committee, and will not show themselves stiff upon this point, for I can assure them from the little I have been able to gather upon the point as regards Scotch opinion that this is probably the point which will cause a great deal of regret and disappointment if it is adhered to. Having regard to this point and other details, I think we should do wrong if we do not pass this Bill this Session, and I hope we shall be able to go through with it.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I do hope that we shall be able to do something for the elementary teachers. I have seen something done in the last two Parliaments, and these things always come in at the end of the Session, and then if the Measure takes up any time it is shelved. Now, I feel very greatly in favour of this Bill, but I feel very much objection to the Scotch portion of it, and unless we come to some arrangement with the Government upon that part we shall cut out Scotland altogether. I for my own part do not mind if we do cut out Scotland, because I think we ought to have a Bill for Scotland itself, because if you are going to bring in a Bill which is to give a pension to the teachers from the Imperial Exchequer you will, no doubt, give us an equivalent grant fund, for you cannot have a system in England whereby you grant pensions from the Imperial Exchequer, and a system in Scotland by which you give them out of the local rates. There will be more harm done to Scotland if this Bill is brought in in its present form than if she is excluded, and it is better that she should be excluded. By the fifth clause this Bill extends to Scotland, and we object to this Act extending to Scotland, because we want a much better Act for that country. We had a very good law, which was under the parochial system, and we want a better Act than we had before. If the Government wish this Act passed they must not ask us to pass the 12th clause so far as Scotland is concerned, and I hope they will not jeopardise a good Bill for England by inserting a bad provision for Scotland.


I do not wish to detain the House, as I am in general sympathy with this Bill. Everyone knows who has studied the question of the schools in rural districts how difficult the lives of the teachers are, and I welcome a Bill which tends to ameliorate their condition. At the same time I think the Government would have done better if they had brought their Education Bill in before they attempted this Measure, and had drawn a line between primary and secondary education. At the present time we have elementary schools which are trenching largely upon secondary education, they are what might be called the higher grade schools. Many difficulties may arise in this Bill owing to no line being drawn between primary education and secondary education.

MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

I hope the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House, when he comes to decide the fate of this Bill, will remember that not a single speaker who has addressed the House to-day has spoken against the Bill so far as the principle is concerned, but has expressed himself as in favour of it. That being so, I think that the Act might pass into law. The honourable Gentleman who moved the Amendment is not against the Bill, and therefore let it go to Second Reading, and let us get into Committee as soon as possible. I have not heard a single objection to the Bill. All the House is in favour of it; therefore I think we ought to pass it. It is quite true that the honourable Gentleman has suggested that Scotland should be left out, but I should be very sorry if that were done, because I know what a very small chance she would have of having a similar Bill passed during this present Parliament. It is ridiculous to say that if we do not get this we shall get something better. I am afraid that the honourable Gentleman was not voicing the Scotch point of view, and that he would be wise in taking this Bill as it is. I hope that the Scotch Members will support this Bill. So far as I am aware the view of the school teachers, in Scotland, of the school board is in favour of its application to Scotland, subject to a small Amendment that I shall move in Committee to give the boards power to give the grant to existing teachers, and put them upon the same level in this Bill. I sincerely hope the Government will go through with this Bill.


Very strong expressions have been used in regard to the principles of this Bill. I am not going to say anything against the principle, but I cannot help saying that I think it is a large thing to ask the House to give so large a sum out of the Imperial Exchequer upon the information which we have before us. The Vice-President of the Council of Education has told nothing——


It is all in the Report.


Yes, I know it is in the Report, but, unfortunately, the Report is not the House. While we are agreed upon the principle, I think that we are also all agreed that the details of the Measure require amendment. I think the speeches point to that fact, and if Her Majesty's Government pass the Second Reading, and propose to pass this Bill into law this Session, there will, no doubt, be a considerable number of Amendments that must have the effect of unduly lengthening the Session. I do not understand this Bill sufficiently to understand the importance of it, but it does seem to me that only the Second Reading of the Bill should be taken to-night, and the details should be left to be considered for another Session, and that that would be much better than forcing it through the House this Session.


I beg to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put—

That this Bill be read a second time.

Agreed to.