Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £4,920,175, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1899, for Public Education in England and Wales, including expenses of the Education Office in London.
§ * THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF EDUCATION (Sir J. GORST, Cambridge University)
The sum which it is proposed to vote for elementary education is, as the Committee have heard, £8,520,175. This is an apparent surplus of £332,055 over the sum voted in the previous year. But that comparison between the two years is vitiated by two circumstances—first, that the previous year was relieved of payments which in the ordinary course would have been made by the necessity of spending money which was provided by the Educational Bill of 1896; and, secondly, by the fact that the grants of drawing, which formerly fell upon the Estimates for the Science and Art Department, are now transferred to the Education Department. Therefore, the true increase is only £228,055. This increase has arisen partly out of the ordinary progress of education, and partly by the repeal of the 17s. 6d. limit, and by the legislation of last Session, passed on behalf of the school boards, the financial effect of which will not be fully realised until the 588 present year. To this sum of money contributed towards elementary education by the Imperial Government are to be added the sums derived from voluntary contributions and from the rates. Last year the amount from the voluntary subscriptions amounted to £845,000, whilst that from the rates amounted to £2,325,801. There is no reason to believe that in the coming year these sums will substantially decrease; therefore, it is clear and may be assumed that in the coming year a total sum of no less than £11,690,762 will be spent by the countries of England and Wales upon elementary education. This sum is an earnest of the conviction of the people that education is a national interest, and that the country places its hopes of greatness upon an intelligent and educated population just as much as it depends for its safety upon its fleets and armies. There are obstacles which prevent the expenditure of these sums obtaining fully the purpose desired. These obstacles are being continually drawn to my notice in the course of the discharge of my official duties, and I should be wanting in candour to the Committee of Supply if, in moving this very large Vote, I did not warn the Committee what those obstacles are. The first is the early age at which children leave school; this is a very great obstacle to the progress of elementary education, and that may be taken to be the unanimous view of all persons who are connected with the education of the country. As an example, perhaps, I may be allowed to quote the report of one of our chief inspectors, Mr. Du Port. He says—Unquestionably the most crucial point connected with our elementary school life and work, both in town and country, as well in the metropolis as in the provincial towns, is the early age at which the mass of our children leave school. As a rule, children make more intellectual progress, and digest retentively more interesting facts, and take more interest in life's facts, in the two years after their fourth-standard stage of school life—that is, after becoming about 11 years of age—than in all their previous school career subsequent to their infant-school days. It seems to me sometimes a matter for deep concern, almost for a feeling of regret, certainly for the sensation of keen pain, to observe us all, in our respective spheres of educational interest, influence, and work, straining to improve our methods of teaching, and to extend our school curriculum, and to quicken our intellectual influences on the children, whilst we ignore the one or two fundamental laws of our educa- 589 tional system—namely, these two facts; first, the early age at which very many of our children leave us, to forget and lose almost everything; and, secondly, the imperfect way in which an early start and a regular continuance of school attendance is still often carried out.The Committee knows—I think I have often mentioned it before—that the compulsory school age ceases at the age of 11 years. The child then falls under the operation of the local by-laws. Some of these by-laws are very good, some of them are very bad. There is an annual return presented to Parliament of the school boards and school attendance committees, and the different standards that they set up. I hold in my hand the Return for last year, from which I find that there are no less than 130 school boards and 52 school attendance committees which have established the second as the standard for partial exemption from school, and there are not less than 835 school boards and 374 school attendance committees which have established the fourth standard as the standard for total exemption from further attendance at the school, while only a few board schools and schools attendance committees have a standard as high as the sixth standard, although, I am happy to say, the London School Board has established the seventh standard for total exemption. But, in truth, all standard exemptions are bad in principle; they make that attainment by the child of a certain amount of knowledge, either by natural ability or industry, the standard for its being deprived of all further advantages of school teaching, and they secure that our schools shall be continually deprived and weeded of the most promising children. Then, at the age of 13, all the by-laws cease to operate, and the child reverts to the Statute law, and by Statute law it is entitled to complete exemption from further attendance al school upon either of two grounds; first, that it has attained the fourth standard; and, secondly, if it has made a number of attendances in the previous five years, which is really only equal in amount to half the time that the school is open during that period. I should like to let the Committee know what the effect of our law actually is. Between the ages of 10 and 11 you find about 600,000 children in the schools.
590 At the age of 11 27,000 of these leave school for ever, and a number between 50,000 and 100,000 become "half-timers." At 12 years of age 83,000 more disappear; at 13 years 289,000 disappear; and, after the age of 14, there are only 48,000 children left in the schools. Now, the result is—it is not a result established by theory or conjecture, it is the result established by experience—the result is that great numbers of these children forget everything; that everything they have learned is wiped out of their minds. Let the Committee consider the waste of this system. First of all, there is the waste of teaching that which is not to be remembered. Then there is the waste of the establishment of the secondary and continuation schools, which really do not fulfil the purposes which their names indicate, because, in my opinion, little more is done in them than to teach over again at the public expense that which was already taught at the public expense a very few years before, and which has been entirely forgotten. Let me quote the opinion of one of the education inspectors upon this point, Mr. Rankine. He says—In many cases to call these classes 'continuation schools' is a misnomer, for the work done in the majority of them is inferior to that done in the day schools. How can we expect it to be otherwise when children are allowed to leave the day school at 11 years of age, and when in many unions the standard for total exemption is the fourth? This is the most discouraging part of our work, and I believe that until the Education Department takes the matter in hand and raises the age at which children are allowed to leave school to 13, a considerable portion of the many millions now annually spent on education in England will be entirely wasted. To talk of our competing in technical instruction with other countries under these conditions is absurd.May I further remind the Committee that any improvement in this respect will be a long time in producing any sensible result upon education. If you could raise the age limit to-morrow, it would be many years before the effect of that raising of the age would be felt in the technical and commercial schools. And then in a country like ours, with its conservative social system, and its reluctance to disturb the customs of the people, a 591 change cannot be abrupt, but must be gradual. It is eight years since this country, at the Berlin Conference, expressed the conviction that it was desirable that the age at which children should go to work should be raised to 12 years. In previous years it was 10, and in eight years we have succeeded in raising it to 11. How many years it may be before we reach even that standard which eight years ago was resolved upon at Berlin it is for the members of the Committee to imagine. The second obstacle to that effective expenditure of the money which the Committee is now about to vote is the irregularity of the attendance of the children. I am not speaking of the failure of our system to get all the children of the country upon the books of the schools. It is a striking fact that there are 5,468,438 children between 5 and 14 who ought to be upon the books of some school or other. There are actually upon the books of the schools—that is, deducting from the child population of the country those who are in the higher and secondary schools, and in reformatory and industrial schools—4,862,287 children between 5 and 14. But of these children who are upon the books of the schools and are therefore known, the percentage that attend school is only 81½; and that percentage, so far from increasing, has in the last few years been very slightly, yet substantially declining. In 1895 the percentage of children attending the schools was 81.61, in 1896 it was 81.55, and in 1897 it was 81.50. Now, this does not arise from the law being not sufficiently stringent, but from the fact that the administration of the law is extremely lax. There are many districts in this country in which you may keep your children away for years, and if you are summoned at all, you are let off with a caution or small fine; whereas, if you took your bicycle out and rode it on the footpath, or took your dog out without a muzzle, you would be "run in" immediately.
592 And Mr. Du Port says—In my opinion a child whose parents are summoned or fined generally attends school so little that at present the case is usually almost hopeless, whilst the worst kind of irregularity—that of children, who, through indulgence or indifference on the part of their parents, only make seven or eight attendances a week—does not become the subject of legal proceedings at all.Now, the last time this subject was discussed in the House some weeks ago, it was supposed that this bad attendance was mainly in the country, and that it was attributable to the distance, to the roads, and the bad weather. The position was challenged in the House at the time, and I have since caused some inquiries to be made by the Education Department officials, and I find that it is not at all the case. I find that the fact is that the irregular attendance is just as great in the towns as it is in the country. Among the Voluntary schools in Fins-bury, there is one school of which the attendance is as high as 95 per cent., and there is another where the attendance is as low as 69 per cent. Among the London School Board schools in the district of Greenwich there is a school which has an attendance as high as 96 per cent., and there is another school in the same district with an attendance as low as 77 per cent. I find in Manchester among the Board schools the attendance is as high as 89 per cent. and as low as 60 per cent. In Birmingham, among the Board schools, the attendance is as high as 90 per cent. and as low as 70 per cent., and among the Voluntary schools in the same town the attendance is as high as 90 per cent. and as low as 71 per cent. In the lowest part of Bristol, Bedminster, there is a Voluntary school in which the attendance is as high as 94 per cent.; whilst in Stapleton, which, I believe, is the aristocratic part of Bristol, there is a Voluntary school with an attendance sis low as 69 per cent. Then take the rural districts: in Berkshire, in the same union there are two parishes, one of which has an attendance of 100 per cent., and in the other the attendance is as low as 68 per cent. In Bucks, in the same union there is a school attendance of 90 per cent., and another with an attendance of only 72 per cent. In 593 Cornwall, which, of all the counties of England, is the one which has the lowest average attendance; there is a school in one union in which the attendance is 92 per cent., and another in the same union where the attendance is as low as 62 per cent. In another part of Conrwall—Truro—there is a school with an average attendance of 94 per cent., and another school where the attendance is only 67 per cent. Just to show what can be accomplished in the rural districts, let me take the case of Newport Pagnell, which is one of especial interest. Let me quote an extract from Mr. Du Port's report—That it is possible to secure good attendance in a large and widely scattered union can be seen from the following extract from a local newspaper showing the work of the Newport Pagnell School Attendance Committee. There are 30 civil parishes within the jurisdiction of this committee, many of them small, and many of them having a scattered population. But the percentage of attendance during the half-year ending June 30, 1897, is thus spoken of. In Mr. Fellows' district the returns show 92.19, against 92.17 in 1896; it is also stated that there has been a good deal of measles and mumps in this district. In Mr. Horton's district the numbers are 87.12, against 87.7 in 1896. There has been a large amount of illness in this district. In the Newport Pagnell school board district the returns show the following attendance: Boys, 91.26; girls, 92.59; infants, 85.28. All these are enormously above the average for the whole country, and are creditable to all concerned, especially to the attendance officers.Now, I contrast that with another county, the County of Wilts, in the East Central Division, and this is what is said by the inspector there—In this district I must say that the attendance of the children is very indifferent. Three unions—Alton, Pewsey, and Whitchurch—have only one officer each. In Pewsey union there is a population of 11,712 souls in 26 parishes scattered over an area of 64,412 acres. The attendance officer is also the inspector of nuisances for the union. In Alton Union … the attendance officer is also a county court bailiff. In these two unions at least it is manifest that attendance cannot properly be looked after. In other unions, where there are more officers, these men combine with their school duties those of either relieving officer, vaccination officer, collector for the guardians, or registrar of births and deaths. Sometimes they combine all four offices, but never less than two.There is really no mystery as to the reason for these poor attendances. There was sent up to me last autumn by one of 594 our inspectors a letter written by the school attendance officer—the man whose duty it was to look after the attendance of the children—to the village schoolmaster demanding that he should provide a certain number of boys as beaters for a shooting party, and desiring him to send the names to the gamekeeper on the following day. I have here an authentic correspondence between a large farmer in a certain rural district and the schoolmaster and the clergyman who managed the school. The farmer writes to the clergyman—Will you allow six boys to stay away from school and drop potatoes for Mr. M.? I have asked Mr. A. (the schoolmaster), and he would not give consent until you had been asked.The reverend gentleman, very properly in my opinion, refused to allow the boys to be kept away from school to "drop potatoes for Mr. M." The farmer a few days, afterwards sends this letter to the schoolmaster—It is passing strange I cannot have a village boy or two to help in planting potatoes at this season, when work is so pressing. I consider it most unaccommodating. I shall therefore consider in the way of one good turn deserving another whether I shall not knock off £5 a year from my subscription, as at present I pay much in excess of my proportion.Another school inspector says—The school attendance committees are often composed of persons who have little sympathy with education, and some of whom themselves employ children illegally during the busy seasons; while it is understood in some parts of the district that two absences weekly will be allowed without inquiry as to the cause, and so these absences become the rule.I have been supplied by the honourable Member for Bermondsey with facts which show that this state of things is not by any means confined to the country; I have been supplied with a list of the proceedings taken against one man. The father of a certain boy was fined twice for the absence of his child in 1894, twice in 1895, twice in 1896; and again in 1897 he was fined in January, in May, in June, in July, and in October—all in 1897; and he was fined in February 1898, in March 1898, in April 1898, in May 1898, and in June 1898. The boy is said to be 13 years of age, and he has not passed the third standard. Now, this irregular attendance 595 inflicts the greatest possible injury on elementary education. There is not only the injury which is done to the boy himself, but there is the injury which is done to the school of which he is a member, because everyone who has had any experience in education must know how impossible it is to carry on the work of a class a certain number of the children of which are always absent. It is also an injury to the management. They provide a teacher and the school and the apparatus; and the staying away of all these children prevents the school from earning the grant from the Exchequer, on the expectation of which its finances are founded. And it is not necessary. If the Government, representing the general wishes of the people, chose to make the attendance really compulsory it could be done. I was making some inquiries last autumn in Switzerland—in the Upper Engadine—where the distances are greater, the climate more inclement, and the difficulties of getting to school in the winter months are very much greater than in the worst parts of this country. When I asked whether the children absented themselves from school there I was laughed at. Such a thing is unknown, because if the child does not come to school in the morning the father gets a notice that he is fined 7 francs; if the child does not appear on the next day the fine is doubled; and if he is not there on the third day it is quadrupled. The effect of this law—it is carried into effect—is that all the children come to school.
§ SIR J. GORST
They have 9 months' school and 3 months' holiday; and it is so arranged that the children go to school all the winter and take their holidays in the summer months. They make a special number of attendances at the school all through the winter. I asked incidentally what happened in the case of illness, and I was told that illness was indeed an excuse, but if the authorities had reason to suppose that the illness was a sham they could call in a doctor to see the child; and if the illness was real the authorities would pay 596 the expenses of the doctor, but if the illness was a sham, then the parent was mulcted in the cost. The next obstacle to education is that children often attend school in a condition which renders them unfit to receive instruction. There is first of all the whole army of "half-timers." How can a child be kept at work all the morning in a factory and then be fit to receive instruction in the afternoon? And yet the half-timers who are under the Factory Acts are best off; there are a great many children who are not under the Factory Acts, and who work unconscionably long hours in the morning, and then come to school. There are many children who are worked for extravagant hours far beyond those permitted by the Factory Acts, and who also attend school full time. A deputation which recently waited on the Department brought forward cases where children got up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and worked until 8 hawking milk or delivering newspapers, who then came to school, and, having had a complete day at school, as soon as they came out went to work again until 9 or 10 o'clock at night. Of course, children attending school in a condition of that kind are not fit to receive instruction. Then there is the sad case of children who come to school starving. There is a record that, although there is a great deal done to remedy this by the benevolence of private individuals, yet there are a great number of children who present themselves at the schools in a starving condition; and to attempt to put educational instruction into the children's minds in such cases as these is not only waste, but it is a cruelty. Let me quote what one of our inspectors says. It is this—The pillars on which bodily vigour rests are food and exercise. The first is not given in the school, except in seasons of dire distress, when charity comes to the rescue with penny or halfpenny dinners. I have known teachers who out of their own pockets provide food for children who attend without breakfast. To cram the brain when the stomach is empty is cruelty, and stupidity is sometimes due to want of food.The next obstacle to which I must call the attention of the Committee is the inferiority in the great towns of the Voluntary schools to the Board schools. This is not in any way the fault of the managers or authorities of the 597 Voluntary schools. They have not got the funds with which to make their own schools as efficient as the Board schools. In London the Board school spends per child £3 12s. 3¾d., while the Voluntary school expends £.2 8s. 4½d. Just see the difference between the sums expended in the country boroughs of England and Wales. The managers of the Board schools are able to spend per child £2 11s. 8½d., while the managers of the Voluntary schools are only able to expend £1 18s. 10¾d. Although it is true the Legislative Act of last Session did something to remedy this, it must be remembered that the Act has not been in operation long enough for people to know how much of the especial grant in aid will go for the relief of the Voluntary schools. I am sorry to say that the voluntary subscriptions of the Church of England, which have been steadily increasing year after year, had an ominous drop last year. It is not known how much will have to be expended in keeping up the improvements in education, because it is not supposed that Board school expenditure will stand still, and, in order to keep up with modern improvements in education, additional expenditure will be involved. But even if the whole were applicable it will not bridge over the evil, but only mitigate it. That there is considerable difference in numbers and efficiency between Board schools and Voluntary schools there is little doubt. In London there are 513,000 children in Board schools and 224,000 children in Voluntary schools. Board schools are in number rather more than double the Voluntary schools. But in the junior county scholarships given by the technical instruction committee to the scholars from all public elementary schools the Board school children carry off 299 and the Voluntary school children only 26. In Manchester Board school children are 42,000 and the Voluntary school children 52,000. But of Owens' scholarships, and the Manchester Grammar School scholarships the Board school children carry off 40 and the Voluntary schoolchildren two. In Liverpool, where there are 37,000 Board school children and 74,000 Voluntary school children, the former carry off 16 scholarships and the latter two. No doubt in the Irish quarter of the town there are Catholic schools, but I do not 598 think that vitiates what I have said. In the interests of the managers and children of the Voluntary schools it is unfortunate that they should not be in a position to compete with the Board schools on equal terms. Now, I come to the question of religious teaching. Religious teaching in the schools is of two kinds. There is the teaching of the historical facts of religion and the teaching of doctrine. I do not pretend to say I think it would be wrong to compare the relative importance of these two kinds of teaching; but, as a matter of fact, inmost schools Bible teaching occupies a great deal more time than doctrinal teaching. It is the common practice in a large number of Church schools to give. Bible teaching on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the teaching of the catechism on Friday. When I was speaking in the House some little time ago I expressed doubts whether the teaching of the historical facts of religion was not given better in Board schools than in Voluntary schools. I entertain that doubt no longer. In London, at any rate, I have no hesitation in saying that the teaching in Board schools is so superior to the teaching in Voluntary schools that there is no comparison between them. Just think how strange it would be if it were otherwise! In Voluntary schools the teaching is given in open school; in the Board school in separate class-rooms; in the former in largo classes, in the latter in small classes. In the Voluntary schools it is given by untrained, uncertificated teachers; in the Board schools it is given by trained and certificated teachers. There are pupil teachers there, but they listen, they do not teach. But where do the Board schoolteachers come from? If you take the trouble to inquire in any London schools you will find that nearly the whole of the teachers who give Bible lessons to the children come from the best Church training colleges. I inquired in one school where every teacher came from, and I found that, with the exception of a single man, who bad been trained at the Borough Road College, and a single woman who had been trained at Stockwell, all the rest came from Church of England training colleges. Let me carry the inquiry further and ask where the men go to from the Church training colleges? I have here a return 599 from three of the best training colleges in London. At the Battersea Training College I find that during the last six years 79 of the men trained there have taken service in the Church schools, and 222 in Board schools. At St. Mark's College, Chelsea, in the same period, 119 of the men trained have gone to Church schools and 208 to Board schools. At the Whitelands Training College, Chelsea, (which is for women) during the same six years 184 have taken service in the Church schools, and 266 in Board schools. It would be strange indeed if these teachers, themselves trained in the best Church training colleges, could not teach Bible history to the children placed under their care better than the inferior teachers you find in the Voluntary schools. These facts, which I might suppress, but which I cannot alter, are most unpleasant to those who, like myself, desire the maintenance of the Voluntary schools. I think the maintenance of the Voluntary school is most important to the education of this country, on two distinct grounds—on religious grounds, because in these schools religious teaching will be given without restriction, and the children can be taught distinct and definite doctrine; and secondly, on intellectual grounds, because these schools are independent of the natural uniformity inseparable from a State-supported system. But I feel convinced that Voluntary schools can only continue to exist on condition of their being made thoroughly efficient, and the danger in which they stand from their present inefficiency in our great towns is daily brought under my notice in the discharge of my official duties. What a traitor I should be to my Church if, knowing the danger, I were too cowardly to give warning of it by telling the truth! As regards this condition, it has always seemed to me that if you would only arrange to leave the managers of the Voluntary schools and the ratepayers and the representatives of the ratepayers in the towns to settle the matter between them they would bring about a satisfactory settlement. It is the legislation of this House which restrains the representatives of the ratepayers, and does not allow them to come to terms with the managers of the Voluntary schools. The two parties have really identical interests. The ratepayers want 600 their children to be trained in the Voluntary schools, and want to maintain the schools in efficiency. The managers want to maintain them and are willing to maintain them in a state of efficiency, and if you withdraw the restrictions and restraints which Parliament has imposed on those who represent the ratepayers it will be beneficial. But this is an example of the real distrust which this House, I am sorry to say, feels towards local self-government. Now, I wish to call attention to the inferiority of rural schools throughout the country. The education of the country population is more costly and more difficult than the education of the town populations. I think it is more important, because it is mainly in the country that the future nation is bred. Now the reason for this difficulty is the sparsity of population which gives rise to the distance of the people from the schools, the smallness of the schools, the absence of the stimulus of town life, and the consequent slow development of the rustic mind. Then there is the general dislike to education in country districts on the part of all classes of society. This is not my opinion, it is what our school inspectors say. One of them, whom I have quoted before, says—The farmer and the squire are no friends to elementary education. They associate agricultural depression and low rents with compulsory education, and they grudge to pay for that teaching which deprives them of servants and furnishes their labourers with wings to fly from the parish. On the other hand the labourer has not learnt the value of education. The earnings of his children are important to him, and the present shilling obscures the future pound. What is good enough for them is good enough for their children. It is rare to find a boy over 12 in a country school.A remedy has been suggested for the condition of rural education in the mere enlargement of the school districts. A remedy has been suggested for the condition of rural education in the mere enlargement of the school districts. This seems to be a strange example of the fanatical faith which some people have in popular elections. The labourers and farmers in an individual parish are quits indifferent to education, but group them into a rural district and have an election, which is probably run by the political associations for the purpose of practice, and it is supposed that it will turn out a 601 school board quite qualified to undertake the education of the district. My belief is that you will never improve your rural education until you have a comprehensive, far-reaching development of your machinery, such as was contemplated by the Bill of 1896. You may treat London specially. You may even treat the great county boroughs with very large populations, like Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, especially. But for the rest of the country, which is a mixture of urban and rural districts, you must invent a system which is applicable to both. The Bill of 1896 proposed as the area the county; it proposed as the authority the county authority. I do not think the manner in which it is appointed, whether by election or delegation, matters anything compared with the importance of having some authority. I do not think the counties ought to attempt to manage schools. They should control; they should not manage. Managers in the urban parts of a county appoint school committees who very admirably manage the schools, and I should think that in the rural districts it would not pass the wit of man to invent some satisfactory board of managers. But until you get an area as large as a county, and managed by a body more of the calibre of the county council than of the rural board of guardians, and until you give it sufficient power to control the management of schools by local bodies, I do not think you can possibly materially improve your rural education. My next obstacle is the want of teachers. Now, all the reforms which have been suggested in what I have previously said, even if they were successfully carried out, would break down unless you could get an increased staff of teachers. And what are you doing now? It is a positive fact that of the pupil teachers who are trained at the public expense who have come up for the examination, and have gained what is called the Queen's scholarship, more than half wander about looking for a training college which will take them in, and are unable to find one. We have, by alterations in the Code, offered to persons who have been trained in secondary education, and who have taken degrees at the university, facilities for entering the profession of teachers, 602 yet there is nothing like a sufficient supply, and nothing appears to me to be done to increase that supply. Of such teachers as there are, it is astonishing what a proportion now goes into Board schools. Of teachers who have been trained two years, which is the normal period of training, 45 per cent. of the men go into Voluntary schools and 54 per cent. into Board schools. Of the women 42 per cent. go into Voluntary schools and 58 per cent. into Board schools. But of what we may call the élite of the profession—those who have been trained for three years, and, therefore, the cream of the young teachers—in the case of the men, 35.78 per cent. go into Voluntary schools and 64.22 per cent. into Board schools. In the case of the women, the disproportion is even more extraordinary, for, while 23.88 go into Voluntary schools, 76.12 go into Board schools. Well, now, the only thing that has been done in modern times to meet this want of teachers has been the invention of what is called the "Article 68 teacher," who is a young woman, 18 years of age, approved by the inspector without any other qualification whatever. This system was begun in 1876, but the number has now reached 14,155, and is increased by no less than 1,317 in the past year. It is remarkable also that of these "Article 68 teachers" the great majority are employed in Voluntary schools—80.62 of them are employed in Voluntary schools and only 19.38 in Board schools. I can give nothing about "Article 68 teachers" except what my inspectors say. This is what is said by Mr. Airy, of Birmingham—In connection with this question of staffing, that of the employment of teachers under Article 68 is important. When these teachers have been pupil teachers, or intend, after two years, to enter for the Queen's Scholarship examination (whether they have been pupil teachers or not), I have nothing to say against them, if otherwise competent. A progressive teacher is, so far a good teacher, inasmuch as her intellect is alive, and she intends to make teaching her profession. But far the greater number are non-progressive. They are persons who have failed in the Queen's Scholarship examination, or who have never tried to pass it; or they are married women or widows driven by adverse fate to serve for the beggarly wages which many managers are not ashamed to give. I trust that before long some limit will be placed upon the employment of this class. Many of them have been for many years out of the profession, and during that 603 time have been unable to participate in the progress of those years. Speaking generally, their influence upon the standard of teaching must be a lowering one.The mode in which the increase of teachers is chiefly promoted is by the employment of pupil teachers. Pupil teachers were, I suppose, originally sanctioned in the schools, and were paid for out of public money in the expectation that they would be only temporary, but, in practice, they are so extremely useful as furnishing in the schools cheap labour that the object of their institution is liable to be lost in the secondary purpose which they serve. The life of a pupil teacher is not generally a happy one. They are shockingly overworked. Let me quote Mr. Rankine, the chief inspector. He is speaking of the evening classes provided for them by the Technical Education Committee in Bath, and says—These classes are carefully taught, and as far as the passing of the scholarship examination goes, have met with success. But I am sure that this success has been obtained in many cases at the expense of the pupil teachers' health. It is too hard work for a growing girl or boy, after five hours a day in a school, when obliged to attend classes in the evenings. When the time occupied in going to and fro from the school and class is reckoned, it is found that these young people have no time for private study or recreation, and are often obliged, in order to be punctual fur the classes and school, to take their meals in a very hurried manner. I therefore think that these classes which the pupil teachers have to attend in the evenings and on Saturday mornings are a very doubtful blessing, except where considerable time for private study is given during school hours. They are very trying to the health, especially in the case of the girls, and in many instances they leave the students no time for the preparation of their work, or for the rest and recreation not absolutely necessary for young people.Let me quote another inspector on the same subject—again Mr. Airy, of Birmingham—It is no discredit to the Voluntary schools up to the present that a painful contrast should be exhibited by the failure—for it is undoubtedly a failure when contrasted with the hopes entertained at first—of their central classes. These classes here are evening classes, and composed of candidates not nearly so well equipped at starting; evening classes of young girls and boys weary with a whole day's work in school and taught by a staff of teachers similarly jaded. How can they possibly hope, under such conditions, to obtain the best results? 604 Taking my last quarterly returns, I find that out of 133 Board and 135 Voluntary teachers 46 of the former and only seven of the latter passed well, while of the former 19 only and of the latter 99 fell 'below fair.' These figures speak for themselves, and they seem to suggest a remedy. Pupil teachers must not be allowed to work all day in school; they must attend day and not night classes; they must be taught upon premises and by a stall devoted, to the work.Well, if that is the condition of the town pupil teachers, what is the condition of the country pupil teachers? Now, the country pupil teachers enjoy none of these doubtful advantages. Their work in the school is harder, because they have more classes to attend to. Country schools are not so well staffed, and the teachers are therefore necessarily more continuously employed. They have none of these central classes, none of these evening classes, and their homes offer very few means of study. What is the consequence? The consequence is that very few of those country-bred pupil teachers can be depended on. They are brought up in the country with the view of becoming teachers there, but they find the avenues of the profession closed to them. I do not know what the opinion of the Committee will be, but I think that this question of the supply of the rural teachers is even more important than the supply of town teachers, because you will not get your town-bred teachers to go to a country school. If your country education is to be improved and properly staffed, it must be staffed with country-bred teachers; and one of the most awful problems in education at the present moment is how, in the first place, the general supply of teachers is to be increased, and how especially the supply of country teachers is to be kept up. My last obstacle is the want of any organised system of secondary education. There again I can quote the opinion of the inspector. The inspector says—If behind the elementary school there were a course of secondary education everywhere available and obligatory up to a certain age, the saving of time over elementary work would mean increased opportunities for more advanced studies; but as things stand now it means in almost all cases merely the entire ceasing at a ridiculously immature age of all instruction and, what is perhaps more important still, of all school discipline.Now, the greater school boards have been so impressed by the necessity for higher 605 education as the necessary adjunct to elementary teaching in the elementary schools that they have, without any very great or very direct Parliamentary authority, established higher grade Board schools, which are real secondary schools, in most of the great towns, and they have done it with the very greatest advantage to the ratepayers they represent, and with the general assent of the people in the places in which they are. But then this expedient of thus taking the law into their own hands is possible only for the school boards representing the great towns. The country school boards cannot, nor can the school boards of small towns. The only body which has hitherto done anything of that kind for rural education has been the technical instruction committees of some of the rural counties, which have established evening continuation schools and technical classes in country villages. Now, Mr. Lowther, I think that public opinion in this country has been awakened on the subject of technical and commercial education. I think that all people acquainted with the subject are agreed that if we are to hold our own in the industrial competition of the future we must have workers and trainers who are as well equipped as the workers and trainers of our rivals. "Open doors and spheres of influence" are useless if we are so ignorant, stupid, and ill-trained as not to be able to take due advantage of them, but you cannot build up a system of technical and commercial education unless you have some sound foundation for elementary education. You must first awaken the faculties, and you must develop the intelligence which you require in your higher course. Therefore reform of education must begin with the elementary schools, otherwise the technical institutions and the commercial colleges will fail for lack of properly prepared boys and girls on which to operate.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
Sir, the House has listened to an excellent exposition of the present condition of education in the United Kingdom, which I will venture to say is interesting, important, and, above all, honest. There has been no attempt to hide its defects, and I believe that the statement which the right honourable Gentleman has made will be one which will have, as it ought to have, an im- 606 mense influence upon this House and upon the country. I thought to myself as I listened to the right honourable Gentleman what would be the feeling of this House and of the country if such a statement had been made by the Minister for War or the First Lord of the Admiralty with reference to the condition of those Departments which are under their charge—if those Ministers had come forward and said that the whole of the system upon which, as the right honourable Gentleman has justly said, the well-being and prosperity of this country depends was defective in every part? What would have been their feelings when such a statement concluded without any proposal to remedy such a state of affairs? Sir, what is it that the right honourable Gentleman has told us? He has told us that our educational system is defective in many respects, and that its progress is hindered by many obstacles—in the age of the pupils, in the irregularity of their attendance, in regard to the want of teachers, and in regard to the absence of a system of secondary education. The one question we have got to ask ourselves is: Why have we not dealt, and why are we not dealing, with these defects of which the Department is perfectly conscious, and of which every man who has paid the slightest attention to the condition of education in this country has long known? Well, Sir, but a few weeks ago the right honourable Gentleman made a statement in this House, which, I am afraid, was perfectly well founded, namely, that the present Parliament is incompetent to undertake an efficient system of education in this country; and he was applauded, I remember, in that statement by the First Lord of the Treasury, and I suppose he had recollections of 1896 in his mind. Well, Sir, here is a Parliament, with a powerful Government, with an irresistible majority behind them, with which they can do what they please, which has been in office for three years, and what have they done to cure these defects in the education of the country? There was a Bill in 1896 which miserably broke down, and for which I am surprised that the representative of the Committee of the Council on Education seems still to have some lurking affection.
607 But, Sir, the only practical contribution to the education of the people has been the granting of half a million of money to the Voluntary schools and a trifle to the Beard schools. Having heard the statement of the Vice-President of the Council, similar to that to which we have listened to-night on many previous occasions, the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in speaking upon the Budget and in referring to the large increase in the expenditure of the country upon education, said he entertained considerable doubts as to whether it could be regarded a remunerative expedition; and I think, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here his doubts would be largely confirmed in that view by the speech to which we have just listened. Now, Sir, this country is spending between 11 and 12 millions of money a year upon a system which, after having heard the authentic statement of the responsible Minister, I may say, without fear of contradiction, is the most inefficient and the most imperfect, and I was going to say the most ridiculous, system of education which is given by any nation in the world at anything like the cost which we incur. Sir, there are some of these things which we might remedy. We have been promised, I think, in the Speech from the Throne, a plan of secondary education. Why has that not been produced? The head of the Education Department is in another place, the House of Lords, and he is not so absolutely occupied that it would have been impossible for him to have proposed in that place that scheme of secondary education which was indicated by the Speech from the Throne. Why have we not received it? When are we going to receive it? Some of those matters with reference to the age of children, the attendance of children—matters of the most supreme consequence—might perhaps have interested the country and have benefited it almost as much as the Benefices Bill. Why have we not had some Measure of that kind from the Department of Education? The right honourable Gentleman spoke of the scarcity of teachers as a capital defect in the system of education; but, Sir, there was one of the causes 608 of that scarcity of teachers to which the right honourable Gentleman did not refer. There are thousands of schools in the country where there is no access to any person or to any child of English parents who does not belong to the Church of England, and who desires to enter upon the career of a teacher. That is a defect which might be remedied I suppose. There are 8,000 schools in the country where pupil teachers and the principal teachers are, with few exceptions, confined to a particular denomination. How can you expect, when there is no free market for teachers in this country, that the class of teachers should be developed as they ought to be? Sir, I have said that the demonstration which the right honourable Gentleman has made to-day of the inherent deficiency and inferiority of Voluntary schools is a revelation to some honourable Gentlemen opposite. I think that on this side of the House we have been well acquainted with it for a long time; but, Sir, at last, even the Church itself is becoming aware of this deficiency. The House voted about half a million of money to the Church schools last year, and on this subject I can quote the authority of a University Member whose words will carry great weight with the House. I am speaking of the right honourable Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Oxford. If there were anything on which the advocates of Voluntary schools had given more solemn pledges it was that this half-million of money was to go to the improvement of education in the Voluntary schools, and not to the reduction of the voluntary subscriptions. What has been the fact? I am not going to state it upon my own authority; I state it upon the authority of the right honourable Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Oxford. What does he say? The other day, at a meeting of the National Society, which may be taken as a great Church organisation, and which has, more or less, the direction, if not the control, of this large sum of money, the right honourable Gentleman said this: he expressed regret at seeing that the voluntary subscriptions had considerably diminished. He told us they had diminished, but he did not 609 tell us how much. I venture to say that that state of things is nothing less than obtaining money from Parliament under false pretences. It is one of those pious frauds with which nowadays we are so well acquainted. I should also like to ask the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council—and it is a very practical question—when he finds that in the schools, or in one of the associations, the subscriptions have been diminished, how does the Department propose to deal with the situation? I want to know, practically, whether, in point of fact, the money which has been diminished in respect of voluntary subscriptions is made up out of this halt-million of money. The condition under which this grant was made by the House of Commons was, that it was supposed to go towards procuring better and more teachers and better machinery for the education of the country. And what assurance have we that that has been done? The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Oxford University has not told us how the Department deals with this question of a deficit in the voluntary subscriptions, and how the money voted by Parliament is made to apply, as it ought to apply, solely to the improvement of education. He says—it is a very frank statement, and I am delighted that these educational authorities are so frank as they are—The taunt of their enemies at the time of the passing of the Voluntary Schools Act, be was sorry to say, was not misplaced.That is to say, the assertions we made, that this grant would to a great extent go, not to the advantage of education, but to the relief of the gentlemen who call themselves voluntary subscribers, was not misplaced. And the right honourable Gentleman made a strong appeal to Churchmen to remedy the error. How far have they remedied the error? And then the right honourable Gentleman proceeds—If Churchmen did not recognise their responsibility, there was no doubt that the days of the Act of 1897 would not last much longer than the days of the present Party in power.I venture to say that anyone who knows what is going on in the country at elections will know that it will not last longer than the existence of the Party 610 in power. The right honourable Gentleman also says—Church people have an inexhaustible supply of wealth, if only the Church will tap it.But the Church does not tap Church people; it taps the general taxpayers, and that is much more to their taste, better than tapping Church people. Those who know these Voluntary schools, of which the right honourable Gentleman has given us what I can only call a deplorable picture, know, by looking into these voluntary subscriptions, that these grants do not go to the improvement of the existing inferior education, but to the relief of those Churchmen who decline to be tapped. That is the true condition of things with reference to the only Act which the present Parliament has done for the advancement of popular education. But there is something more to be said upon this. I hope, before this discussion is over, the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council of Education will tell us how he deals with those schools and districts whore the subscriptions have fallen off, and what means he takes to see that the education is made efficient. Does one district, where the subscriptions have not fallen off, get less assistance because more assistance is given to districts where the subscriptions have fallen off? I hope the right honourable Gentleman is taking measures to see that that does not take place. There is another matter which requires to be carefully considered, and that is: what are the managers of these Voluntary schools doing to improve the condition of education in those schools? We heard, first of all, that the subscriptions had fallen off in consequence of this grant. That is one of the usual results of the principle of subsidies of this character, and it does not apply in this case only. We have the highest authority—the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury—at the same meeting, laying down what is his view of the manner and the purpose for which the elementary schools of this country should be employed. I have heard it said by the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council, and I doubt whether he is now of that opinion, that in the schools there is no such thing as a religious question.
611 He made a striking acknowledgment, which is a sufficient refutation of the statement that Board schools are irreligious. He said that the Bible teaching of Board schools is superior to the Bible teaching of Voluntary schools.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
In a great part of the country Board schools have no chance of Bible teaching at all.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
What I meant to say was, because there are no Board schools. We know that in many parts of the country there are no schools but Voluntary schools, and therefore we cannot compare them in those places with Board schools. What does the head of the Church say on the subject of the improvement of the education of the people? At one time I remember Dr. Temple had a great deal to say on the subject, but I find very little in the discourse to the National Society two days ago on the question of the improvement of education. There is not a word on the topics to which the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council of Education has referred as to the advance in the education of this country. The right honourable Gentleman spoke of Bible teaching and of the kind of teaching. On the first matter he was very explicit and very conclusive, but on the matter of doctrine. I think he was rather more reticent and timid. I can quite understand that, because it was a dangerous and difficult topic to deal with; but it is the only topic on which the Archbishop of Canterbury has nothing to say. What did he say in order to encourage education in the Voluntary schools? He says—He thought the Church might very well use all its strength, so far as it entered into the political field, to maintain that Act"—(that is this Grant of £500,000)—"and to put it on such a firm basis that it would not be easy to shake off.612 That is, the half-million is to be made safe—that is the first thing. But the question is: what is to be done in those schools to which the half-million is to be given? I find nothing in the speech on the subject of more teachers and better paid teachers, of higher education to the children, and the removal of any of the obstacles referred to by the Vice-President of the Council. But after bearing testimony to the fact that there was a tendency to consider that the aid grant was to take the place of the voluntary subscriptions, the Archbishop of Canterbury says—Half a century ago I remember it was said that the Church schools did not make the children Church people.Those were the days of Dr. Temple, but I want to ask: is the object of the Church schools of this country, the endowed schools, the schools which receive these millions and half-millions of the money of the taxpayers, to make the pupils of these Church schools Church people? The one thing the Archbishop of Canterbury considers desirable is the defence of the Church. The schools, he says, belong to Church people, and if they want to defend the position of the Church and the work it is doing, it is an essential part of such defence that they should support the Church schools very heartily and persistently. The Church, he added, could not do without the schools. Therefore, he says, it is not the Church that is to support the schools, but the schools that are to support the Church. That, you will find, is the keynote of this declaration. Then the Archbishop says the clergy should work in the schools, remarking that their influence was far greater in the schools than they were aware of, and the result of their work would be far greater than they imagined. He said he had often been told by clergymen that there was no use going to the schools, because they would be in the way, and would interfere with the work of the master; but, on the contrary, he maintained that the presence of clergymen was not only not an interference with the work of the master, but was an encouragement to him, and produced a good effect on the children—the good effect being to make them Church people.
613 But does not this view of the subject throw a light on the reason why, as the Vice-President has said, the best school masters prefer to go to the Board schools?
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
Ah, yes, they are better paid, but they are more independent. But what does this mean? It means that the Voluntary Church schools are, in the view of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to be manipulated as machinery for propagating the sectarian doctrines and opinions of a particular church—the Church of England. Sir, as long as you have that as a basis of your system of elementary education, you will never have a satisfactory national system. When I read and contrast the language used by the highest authority in the Church with the statement made to-night by the Vice-President of the Council I think it will be allowed that it is to the Department of Education and not to those who are in charge of the Voluntary schools that we must look for reform in the condition of education in this country. The Archbishop of Canterbury says that the Church cannot do without the schools, and the schools must be, from his point of view, as it were, the property of the Church. But, Sir, I want to ask what church? We know very well we had a glimpse last night into the facts which show that the word "church" is capable of very ambiguous interpretation. There are churches and churches apparently within the pale of the National Church of England. The church in the sense understood by a great many people, and a great many clergymen, is not the Church as established by law in this country—quite the reverse. The First Lord of the Treasury last night suspected, and indeed accused, my right honourable Friend the Member for Flintshire and myself of exaggeration. He said that these practices and these views within the Church which we condemned were confined only to a few people, and that there were only a few churches in London in which they were held. Well, Sir, it is a remarkable fact that as he was making that statement a meeting was taking place of a great organisation called the Church 614 Union. I am not going into detail on that matter to-night, but I think we shall hear a great deal more of that meeting. I hope reports of it will be printed and circulated in this country, in order that people may clearly understand who are the persons into whose hands the Vountary schools of this country are passing. The right honourable Gentleman said, "Oh, it is only a few." Yes, Sir, but that is not their own view on the subject. When I stated that they were to be reckoned by the hundred I was within the mark. There is a report by Lord Halifax, and what does he claim? He says that at the time they were meeting there were "celebrations for the intentions of the Union." We know what these intentions are, and I will sum them up in a single phrase of Lord Beaconsfield, "The Mass in masquerade," only now the mask is removed—there were celebrations in 1,179 churches, 144 being in London. That is not a few. Further, the report states that in this year 121 clergymen have been added to the Union. I would ask the attention of the First Lord of the Treasury to this. He accused my honourable Friend of exaggeration when he said that the Union included 30 bishops. But that did not satisfy the President of the Union, because he says they have 32 bishops, and I suppose that in the course of a year they have added two bishops. I do not know what bishops they are—perhaps some of them are bishops in partibus infidelium in this country. I observe in an article in the Times newspaper this morning an illustration—and, as it was set forth on their authority, I suppose they are satisfied as to its authenticity—of the class of people who, in increasing numbers every year, are invited by he Archibishop of Canterbury to go into these schools and get control of the education of the people of this country. This is what the article says—A young incumbent soon after his settlement in, a country parish said to his amazed and protesting churchwardens, 'Now, my friends, we may as well understand one another at the outset. You are going to have everything here except the Pope.'I suppose it was not necessary to have any Pope, because all these gentlemen 615 are Popes to themselves. Well, what is to prevent this young incumbent going into the school and addressing to the schoolmaster exactly the same language he used to his amazed and protesting churchwardens? This lies at the root of this question of rural schools. There are 8,000 parishes in this country in which there is no access except to schools which may be under the control of people who hold these views, who act upon these doctrines, and who follow these practices, which are repugnant to the laity of the parish in which they live, and against which the laity have no defence whatever, as they have no other means of education. In towns a parent may withdraw a child and carry it to some other school, but if you have the whole educational system of a rural parish under the control of these law-breaking ecclesiastics, what protection is there for the laity who have not yet abjured the faith of the Established Church, or who may happen to be Protestant Nonconformists? The right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President says we want more compulsion, and he is quite right; but if you are going to compel the laity to send their children to school you must have schools and teaching in which the people have confidence. Before you can have Voluntary schools on a footing in which the laity can be called upon to have any confidence whatever you must have a system of schools in every parish, whether they be Voluntary or Board schools, in which there shall be some voice for the laity find some principle of popular control. You may depend upon it that the people of this country will never endure that the elementary education of their children shall be placed in the hands of members of the Church Union, with their doctrines and practices and their avowed intention of violating the law. That is an obstacle to which the right honourable Gentleman did not refer; and, Sir, I say that unless you can establish Voluntary schools on a basis which will give confidence to the whole mass of the people, irrespective of particular creeds, you will never establish national education upon a sound or just basis, and you have no right to vote the money of the taxpayers of this country in respect of schools which do not give them that security.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I cannot but compliment the right honourable Gentleman on his ingenuity. We had a Debate last night on a Bill which was in the main a Bill dealing with the sale of next presentations in the Church, and in that Debate the right honourable Gentleman, following, I am bound to say, the example of an honourable Gentleman sitting behind me, found convenient occasion for bringing up the question of extreme ritualistic practices before the House. Not content with his performance last night, he comes down to-night. Sir, we are not discussing to-night the case of presentations or the abuse of patronage. We are discussing the education of the country, and yet the right honourable Gentleman suffers not the least embarrassment by the change of subject. The right honourable Gentleman's speeches are so happily contrived that there is no subject which can be brought before the House to which, apparently, they are not appropriate. The speech he delivered last night upon Church patronage would have fitted the subject of elementary education, and his speech to-night on elementary education would equally well have fitted the subject of Church patronage. Well, Sir, I am not sure that the right honourable Gentleman was not well advised in the course he has pursued, because it is well known that continuations are apt to be non-successful, and however great a success the first volume may be, the second volume sometimes diminishes the credit the author obtains from his earlier effort.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The right honourable Gentleman says, "Wait till the third," The subject will probably be raised on the next Foreign Office Vote in connection with the chaplains abroad. There is no natural obstacle which has any terrors for the right honourable Gentleman, and I am quite sure that the Church Union will afford him topics admirably suited to his peculiar style of rhetoric, whatever the subject before the House. The right honourable Gentleman began by denouncing the Government for the small amount they have done 617 for the cause of education since they came into office. No Government has unlimited time to deal with even the important question of education; and I think if the right honourable Gentleman will cast his eye over the amount of time we have given to it since we came into office in the middle of 1895, he will find that we have devoted to subjects connected with education, as compared with what was done by the late Government, an amount of time that shows we, at all events, have nothing to be ashamed of. He contended that gentlemen sitting on this side of the House were in total ignorance, up to the moment of my right honourable Friend's speech this evening, of the present condition of elementary education—of its deplorable condition, according to the views of the right honourable Gentleman. But, he said, while gentlemen on this side of the House are totally ignorant of the deplorable state of things, gentlemen on the other side have long been familiar with it. Gentlemen on that side may long have been familiar with it, but I am absolutely unable to recall any legislative efforts they have made at any time to improve elementary education, or deal with it in any shape at all; and why we, who have brought in two Elementary Education Bills, one of which was destroyed chiefly by the energy and hard work of the right honourable Gentleman himself—why we should be taunted with being peculiarly neglectful of the interests of education I am really utterly unable to understand. But, Sir, he took occasion to attack the Elementary Education Bill of last year, and the use to which it has been put. It may be said of the Elementary Education Bill of last year, and it may be said with perfect truth, that it is no complete solution of the question of elementary education in this country, and none of its authors and supporters ever pretended that it was. It was brought forward as a palliation of some of the evils existing, and a successful palliation, I think, it is likely to turn out. But, said the right honourable Gentleman, the whole Act has been worked by false pretences. If it was not fraudulently brought forward, he said, it has been fraudulently administered, and the money which was intended to go to education has been diverted for 618 the purpose of relieving Voluntary schools.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No; his capacity for statement did not go that length I will tell him, as far as I can make out, how much voluntary subscriptions have fallen off. They have fallen off, I think, about £10,000—that is to say, in the last year, for which we have statistics, the diminution over the preceding year amounted to £10,000, or one and a half per cent. of the total amount of voluntary subscriptions for Church of England schools, that total being £634,000.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The year ending the 31st August 1897. This diminution in the subscriptions which the right honourable Gentleman attributed, as I understand it, to the Act of last year occurred before that Act came into operation, and before a single penny had been given under that Act to a single school manager. I do not, therefore, think it necessary to deal at greater length, with that question, but let me correct one statement which the right honourable Gentleman made, and which he made with very imperfect memory of the Debates of last year. Sir, last year's Act laid it down that, in distributing the grant to the Voluntary schools, due regard was to be had to the maintenance of the voluntary subscriptions, and undoubtedly it is the duty of the Department, which I am quite sure it will carry out, to see that regard is paid to the due maintenance of voluntary subscriptions. In the Debates that took place on that Bill, and in the statements I have made elsewhere, I most carefully guarded against the fallacy of supposing that there were no circumstances under which the strain on voluntary contributions in particular localities might not be legitimately relieved by some amount. Honourable Gentlemen opposite, I think, themselves quoted—certainly they were aware of—cases in which an absolutely impossible strain was thrown on shoulders incapable of bearing it by the necessity of keeping up Voluntary schools. In such cases it 619 is not illegitimate to give some relief, but I entirely agree with my right honourable Friend behind me, who was quoted by the right honourable Gentleman, and with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, I understand, spoke in the same sense, that this money is needed in the main for improvement in education; and I feel quite certain that, in the main, to the improvement of elementary education it will go. That may be of advantage to needy schools; it may be, through the Church schools, of advantage to the Church; but in this Committee, which professes itself to be so anxious for elementary education, is it possible to deny, after the speech of my right honourable Friend, that it is, above all, of enormous advantage to the cause of elementary education itself? What did my right honourable Friend say with unanswerable force? He said there were deficiencies in the education of Voluntary schools arising out of poverty. That that poverty has not been removed, has not been relieved, by the aid grant of last year I sorrowfully admit; that it has been partially relieved I am glad to think, and that relief has gone, and I believe will go, in the improvement of elementary education, and therefore, from that point of view, if honourable Gentlemen opposite will only consent for one moment to forget these sectarian controversies, the Act of last year has been an immense gain to the elementary education of the country. One further exaggeration of the right honourable Gentleman connected with elementary education I ought to notice. He laid it down that in all the Voluntary schools in which the clergyman of the parish was one of the managers no child of a Nonconformist had any chance of entering the teaching profession through the door of pupil teachership. I am informed by those who can speak with authority on the subject that the cases in which Nonconformists are refused because they are Nonconformists are extremely few. I do not deny that there are such cases.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I greatly doubt the statement 620 of the right honourable Gentleman, but even if it is true with regard to the Welsh Voluntary schools, allow me to adhere to the statement I have made on good authority, that taking the Voluntary schools of the country, although such refusals have taken place, they are very exceptional.
§ SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
It is not the refusal; it is the condition of admission. They must be members of the Church of England before they are admitted.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am quite ready to admit the statement of the problem of the right honourable Gentleman, but I do not vary the answer I have given. I repeat that I am informed on good authority that such cases are the exception and not the rule, and it ought not to go forth, therefore, on the authority of the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that in no Voluntary school in the country can any child of a Nonconformist hope to enter the teaching profession unless he or she professes himself or herself to be a member of the Church of England.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
I do not say there is no exception, but I say that it is the rule, and I have this information on what I believe to be equal authority with that of the right honourable Gentleman.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am informed that it is not so; there is the difference. I have given the right honourable Gentleman the best information I have, and I am sure he has dealt equally candidly with the Committee.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Will the right honourable Gentleman grant a Return? It can be obtained without much trouble, and that will be the best answer.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I think the honourable Gentleman had better put the question to my right honourable Friend either in the course of Debate or across the floor of the House. I am not competent to deal with that depart- 621 mental question. Sir, I do not think I need say anything more about the speech of the right honourable Gentleman, except to reiterate my indignation at the suggestion, which has been for the second time thrown out, that there are vast numbers—one would almost think from what he said the majority of the churches in this country and the vast majority of the schools connected with the churches where ritualistic practices and doctrines are taught inconsistent with the ritual and doctrines of the Church of England. I do not believe one syllable of that statement.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No, no; the right honourable Gentleman did not, but he gave the number of persons who had had some service in connection with the Church Union; but there is no evidence either that the service was not in conformity with the ritual of the Church of England or was of an extravagant character. After all, everybody can trust his own experience in these matters, and I would ask the right honourable Gentleman has he himself come across any country parish—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Has the right honourable Gentleman himself had experience of country parishes? How many parishes has he known where these practices are carried on?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Well, Sir, this is really a question of fact on which it should not be difficult for any Member of this House to arrive at a satisfactory determination. I absolutely deny these wholesale accusations brought against the Church of England. Here and there you will find people who have indulged in these practices—I think most unfortunately and deplorably—but that this is a common characteristic of the clergy of the Church of England, that such 622 practices habitually prevail over large areas of the country, that is a thing which I emphatically deny, and I am perfectly certain that any honourable Gentleman may, with very small trouble to himself, but I am sure to his absolute conviction, convince himself whether I have or have not been guilty of any exaggeration in the statement I have ventured to make. I am sorry to have been obliged, in the wake of the right honourable Gentleman, to travel so far from the subject of elementary education. I cannot but hope that after this excursion—which he first made, I following his example—the Committee may now lapse back into the duller, but, I venture to say, more useful discussion of the elementary education of this country.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfar)
I think that what has been recently disclosed as to the position of the Church of England and the practices going on within it cannot fail to diminish the confidence of the country in extending the control of that Church over the public system of education. The right honourable Gentleman, in his later remarks, taunted us on this side of the House with having done nothing for the cause of elementary education in past years. On that point, Sir, it is, in the first place, notorious that this side of the House, at any rate, did not want to go back on the settlement arrived at 25 years ago with regard to education. It was the desire on this side of the House to go forward; and in making that statement that the party on this side of the House had done nothing to forward the cause of elementary education in the country, I think the right honourable Gentleman forgot the whole genesis of the Bills which have been passed into law by his own Administration. Everyone knows that during the last Administration, while Mr. Acland, the Member for Rotherham, was Minister for Education, it was his efforts to raise the standard of education throughout the country that produced the recent agitation, particularly on the part of the supporters of Voluntary schools. I may say—and a very high authority has since confirmed the statement—that nothing that was done by that Minister in any way interfered with 623 the cause of the Voluntary system of education. It was the efforts of the late Administration and the Education Department which first gave rise to the agitation which has culminated, first, in the abortive Bill brought in during the first Session of this Parliament, and, secondly, in the Bill which gave the Voluntary schools the grant to which allusion has been made. So the statement of the right honourable Gentleman cannot be founded on fact, and it ought to be remembered that it was the enthusiasm, the zeal for education, on this side of the House, and the opportunity it gave to advocates of education throughout the country, that have strengthened the hands of the right honourable Gentleman, now the Minister for Education in this House, who has made such a very striking and important statement in this Debate. But, considering the substance of that statement, it seems to me very strange that we have no definite declaration of policy on the part of the Government. We have had a confession that the promises made so long ago as the time of the Berlin Congress have not been redeemed by this country. We have the confession that the standard for our factory children, half-timers, and full-time children, is lower than that of any other European country. And now we have the confession of the right honourable Gentleman to-day, for which I thank him very respectfully, that in the important points which he has enumerated our system of education may be condemned on all sides. We have, in the first place, from him this statement—that throughout the whole country, owing to the absence of statutory enactment, the by-laws regulating the employment of children are weak, and are not carried into effect, and are conflicting as between different parts of the country. We have a statement that there is weakness in the staff of teachers, that increasing accommodation is required in the training colleges and in the establishments to which we owe our present supply of teachers. We want further facilities also for secondary education, and it must not be forgotten that already before this House there are proposals for improving the position of the teachers themselves. Then we have the crowning statement 624 as to the discrepancies between the money spent per pupil by the Voluntary schools and that spent by the public Board schools. All these statements, Mr. Lowther, seemed to me to point to some declaration of policy, some communication of what the Government was going to do; and I think it is a startling condemnation of the Government at present in office that these weaknesses should be known and acknowledged, yet, with the vast majority they have at their back, no attempt should be made in this House to deal with them. We have complaints from all sides as to the inferiority of the education of this country in comparison with that given to other nations. We have reports reaching the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office as to the way in which in matters of trade the better educated men of other countries are taking the places which ought to fall to the men of this country, that we are losing the great start that we have had in industrial competition with other nations; and surely, in face of these facts, when the Government is in a position of such paramount and overwhelming strength, it is reasonable to ask why there has been no declaration of policy, no attempt to fill the gaps which confessedly exist in the whole range of our system of education. There is one point on which I should like, if I may, to ask the Vice-President of the Council for some explanation, if I may have his attention for a moment, and that is on the Minute which has recently been issued by his Department. The Minute is on the subject of the accounts, receipts, and expenditure of schools sharing the grant, and was issued on the 26th January this year. What I should like from him is some explanation of the reasons of the addition of the five lines in italics in the second column, which seem to me to render more elastic and, perhaps, slightly less effective the regulations affecting these schools I need not labour the point, but I will hand the Minute to the right honourable Gentleman. I thank the House for this opportunity given to me of dealing with these points, and desire only to repeat again my request and my complaint that we have no proposals from the Government to deal with the difficulties which the right honourable Gentleman has so 625 thoroughly laid before the House and the country.
§ * MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
The right honourable Gentleman opposite has done me the honour of quoting some remarks I made, so perhaps the Committee will allow me in a very few words to say what I have to say on that subject. I have no complaint to make of what he said. I think, on the whole, he accurately represented what I have said, but I wish to put before the Committee the reasons which influenced my statement, and the qualifications which I should wish to accompany it. I was speaking, not to the House, but to an, audience composed of enthusiastic Churchmen, and I thought the occasion not a bad one to point out the dangers which I saw in the future. I knew there had been a diminution, and a very slight diminution, the right honourable Gentleman will admit, in the volume of subscriptions to Voluntary schools. I maintained during the Recess, and I maintain here to-day, that the Act of last year was not and ought not to have been passed to relieve subscribers to Voluntary schools, and if voluntary subscribers all over the country do not take that view of the question they will deserve to suffer for their neglect. I had not only the figures which the Vice-President of the Council has to-day, but also private information which led me to believe there was a certain slackness, and I thought it best to warn my friends of the dangerous situation, because it having been distinctly understood that this Act was passed to improve the education given in the Voluntary schools, and to lead them to do the work that Parliament has over and over again decided that they are to do, namely, to take their share in the primary education of the country, if the conditions upon which this Act was passed are not complied with, then I say that those who ought to have been the beneficiaries of the Act will deserve to suffer for their negligence. I put the case as strongly as I could. On the other hand, I should like to read to the House the following letter from the Secretary of the National Society on 626 the subject, which I have received today—June 17.Dear Mr. Talbot,—I enclose our report and also the departmental circular, the introductory sentences of which are valuable testimony as to the smooth working of the Act. As you know, I sit daily here to receive, both through personal interviews and letters, the grievances of our clients. I have had many inquiries as to how the money granted could best be expended. There is throughout the country a loyal desire to spend the money on the children and not on the relief of the subscribers or the undue payment of such teachers as are already sufficiently paid. I have also had many assurances that the aid has come, though late, in time to save the school and place it on a sound financial basis. I have had very few complaints. Indeed, I can only offhand call to mind two, and in both those cases the complaints were, beyond doubt, unreasonable.Believe me,Yours very faithfully,J. S. BROWNRIGG.I think that shows that the Act is being worked, as far as possible, on the basis on which it was passed, and that it will prove to be more and more in the interest of real and sound education. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I am sure, will not run the risk of unpopularity that would be incurred if he attempted to throw upon the ratepayers the burden which would result from the abolition of Voluntary schools upon the country; certainly his friends would not. He would not find that a satisfactory cry to go to the country upon. Putting aside the question of politics, it is notorious that at the present moment there is such a strong support of the Voluntary schools of the country that they must continue to exist. The Vice-President of the Council said so to-day, although he was not sparing in his remarks of their deficiencies. The only question is, in what way shall they continue to exist? Shall they continue in a starving condition, or shall they exist in a healthy condition? The Act passed last year was intended to remove the starving condition. My noble Friend the Member for Rochester stated last year that the Act was only a very small instalment of what must be done for the Voluntary schools if the elementary education of the country were to be put upon a fairly sound basis. We were, however, thankful for what we got, and we intend to use it on the terms on which we accepted it. I 627 agree with the Vice-president of the Council that one of the difficulties under which we labour in regard to the efficiency of voluntary education is, first of all, the early age at which children leave school, and then the irregularity of attendance. I admit that there are great obstacles to carrying out efficiently the education of the people. But how are you going to remedy these evils? I have sat frequently as a magistrate at petty sessions, and have heard many cases of the sort. All that is allowed to the magistrates, in the case of irregularity of attendance, is to fine the parents 5s., including costs. That is not a great penalty even for a working man; the 5s. penalty is not a very excessive amount. No doubt some parents feel a fine of 5s., but if Parliament really means to enforce school attendance they must put into the hands of magistrates much greater powers than they possess at the present moment. Is it prepared to do that? Is it prepared to say that the magistrates should be allowed to fine parents up to 20s. or 40s., and that if they do not pay they must go to prison? Look what would happen. The parent goes to prison because the child does not go to school. I have often had cases before me where the parents come and tell a pitiful tale, saying that they had chastised the child for running away, but that the child simply determined not to go. Is that parent to suffer either in purse or person for the truancy of the child? Is Parliament prepared to give power to have parents fined heavier amounts, or, in default of payment, to send them to prison for not sending their children to school? That is the way we should look at the subject as public men. What is wanted is to influence the public opinion of the country. Parents are citizens of the country; they are voters, and they have a right to make the laws, and if they do not choose to have restrictions put upon men of their own class who do not send their children to school, I defy the House of Commons to enforce them. We cannot do more than the public opinion of the country wishes. The law does not affect us; it affects, however, the vast multitudes outside who send representatives to this House. Until you can 628 obtain the public opinion of the labouring classes upon this subject, until you can get them to agree to the raising of the penalties, you will never be able to deal properly with the evil. The same remark applies to the question of the age at which children leave school. It must be remembered that the employment of children means the addition of so much a week to the wages of their parents. How can you supply that? The father says he wants his son to go to work and earn something; the mother says she wants a day's washing, or desires her girl to become a domestic servant, or to stay at home to look after the baby while she goes out as a charwoman. You must look at these things from a practical point of view. As I have said, you must raise and educate public opinion upon the subject, and when that has been done a great deal will have been accomplished for the benefit of the country.
§ MR. S. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I listened with considerable disappointment, from one point of view, to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council, because the right honourable Gentleman admitted that there are great deficiencies and blots in our educational system, and I was listening to his speech expecting him to say before he sat down that he intended to introduce to our notice certain remedies affecting that system. But the right honourable Gentleman did not make any suggestion towards remedying the great defects existing, and he has sat down without having made any practical proposals on the part of the Government. My right honourable Friend who has just sat down also alluded to public opinion as affecting these educational questions. Well, I am afraid if we are to judge of the attitude of representatives in this House upon questions affecting the electorate outside—if we are to judge by the way in which the speech of the Vice-president was received by Gentlemen on that side of the House—with absolute silence—if we are to judge of public opinion represented by honourable Gentlemen opposite, I am afraid it must be obvious to the Committee that opinion is not at present strongly in favour of remedying defects in 629 our educational system. I should have thought the Vice-President would have given us some information—in fact, I think we are entitled to some information from him—in regard to the way in which this new Act of last year, affecting both Voluntary and Board schools, has worked in practice. But he did not say a single word in regard to the question of the associations in which we take so great an interest. We expected that the right honourable Gentleman would have given us some information as to the way in which these associations have been formed, and whether they are working successfully so far as they have been created. I think we are entitled to ask him before the close of the Debate how many of these associations have been formed, on what basis they have been formed, and whether or not they have been worked upon a purely denominational footing by those interested in them. And I think there is also another point which is of some importance to the Committee to remember. It was said that, in the opinion of the Department, they had no legitimate reason for staying outside the association. I remember last year the right honourable Gentleman used very striking language towards those schools which stood outside the association. It will be interesting to know whether the individual schools thought well of those which had decided to stand aside from the association. And I think we ought to know on what sort of ground, if there had been such cases, these schools desired to remain outside the association, and on what ground the Department had chosen to define it. Also I think it would be interesting to know—as I think the right honourable Gentleman would be interested to give us—some figures showing the money to be paid over to these associations, and what has gone over to the schools. But it is, of course, of the utmost importance, from the educational point of view, and from the point of view of efficiency, to know whether the money has been properly employed, and how much of this £600,000 has gone to the interest of the schools; and also as to what was stated last year to be a considerable amount that would be given by the Government to go to the relief of the 630 teachers and the salaries of those schools. I think, as regards the salaries of the teachers, the chief object to be regarded in voting this money is, generally, to improve the salary of the teachers, and to increase the teaching staff of the Voluntary school. And, of course, there is the question which has been raised—that one question of subscription. It was one of very great importance. I am bound to say that our position in regard to that matter is a somewhat unsatisfactory one. The right honourable Gentleman says that the subscriptions have fallen off. It was said as to this falling off that there was an ominous drop; but it should be remembered that it occurred prior to the Act coming into force, and therefore it was not affected by the Act which came into force last year. But when the right honourable Gentleman makes his next statement on this subject he will find that it is only an anticipatory drop, to the amount of £600,000, which has gone into the pockets of the voluntary subscribers. We prophesy that the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury will acknowledge that a considerable portion of this money would go into the pockets of the voluntary subscribers. It should seem possible to provide safeguards which would really go to increasing the efficiency of the schools. On that we would be defeated by the Government, so far as I can see, not because they agree with us, but because they decline to accept the Amendment we proposed, and they decline to safeguard the chief interests which the Bill has in view. What we want to know, I think, is whether the right honourable Gentleman will point out to us more as regards the ominous drop which there has been in those subscriptions. We want him to tell us across the Table what steps he has taken to prevent this falling off in subscriptions in the future. If the subscriptions have largely diminished, will he make this grant to individual schools or to the association? He seems to make the mention of it a matter of regret, but not a single word fell from him to show that he has done anything to prevent a recurrence of the falling off of subscriptions to the Voluntary schools.
631 Thus far, in regard to the association and the voluntary subscriptions. I trust the right honourable Gentleman will give us some more information. I was very glad that that point of interest was raised by my Friend the right honourable Gentleman opposite—the question of attendance. Everybody who has followed education in the slightest degree must be aware that the present attendance of the children at school is certainly on a very unsatisfactory basis. My right honourable Friend opposite asked the remedy for such a state of things. He said it was a state of things which had come before him as a magistrate, and, no doubt, his authority would have to be resorted to in cases where the obstinacy of the child puts the parent in great difficulty in enforcing the attendance of the child. I quite agree with that; and having had some experience of these matters, in London, myself, I think there is a fairly good excuse for non-attendance; and I also agree that you cannot enforce the Act beyond the trend of public opinion, or with too great stringency. But I think my right honourable Friend the President has missed the point in quoting the figures he has relating to different parts of the country. He has shown not only what has happened in one poor district or one rich district, but he shows the results of two schools, similarly great, in the country—both voluntary and board schools—and he shows the attendance at one as 90 per cent. and at the other as 64 per cent. In these cases it would be a wicked thing to enforce attendance unduly at one school to the extent of 90 per cent., and to have only 64 per cent. next door. The question of attendance is largely for those who nave to put the law in force and largely for the children and the managers themselves. Where it is obvious that the attendance in a school is below what it ought to be, they ought in some way to have the power of rewarding the school, or else the grant should be diminished. That, no doubt, ought to be so where the grant depends upon the average attendance. If a compensation fine were imposed in the case, for instance, of this school which he quotes with the attendance of only 64 per cent. against that of the neighbouring school which had an attendance of 90 per cent., 632 that might meet the difficulty. It is very easy for us to talk of raising the age; but my Friend says it is impracticable in any part of the country. I think it is impossible for any child who has gone through the different parts of a school to leave that school satisfactorily and go to work under such conditions; and I think we must all agree as to the anomaly and conservatism of our present system that some opportunity ought to be taken by the Government to simplify it by amendment and improvement; and I can assure the right honourable Gentleman, speaking on behalf of Members on this side of the House, that, in dealing with that side of the question, he will receive the support of honourable Members on this side of the House. As to the desirability of raising the age from 10 to 11, one has to look at the custom of the country. It was a Conservative effort which attempted to raise the age thus. The opinion of the country was so much in favour of raising the age from 10 to 11 that they bowed to it; and I think, if the right honourable Gentleman had the courage, both as regards that and as regards the standard of full-time exemption, to bring forward the desired improvement, he would have hearty support throughout the country and the support of the House of Commons. Then the right honourable Gentleman opposite said something about our general position, and as to whether we received full value for our money, not only in the matter of attendance, but as regards the quality of the education turned out. I am afraid it is not so satisfactory—that our system of education is not so satisfactory as it ought to be considering the amount of money that we spend upon it. But I think, there again, it is a question, no doubt, of public opinion; and I believe, with the right honourable Gentleman opposite, that we have made a considerable step forward during the last few years; and in the Voluntary schools, is in our Board schools, I believe that Gentlemen on both sides of the House are desirous of improving our national education and of improving the voluntary school teaching. The honourable Member for Rotherham—whose absence, am sure, we all regret—adverted to what was called individual examination, and proposed the substitution for it of visits by the inspector. I think the honourable 633 Member who represents the elementary schools in this House will admit that it has done a great deal of good, and given greater elasticity to our system, while it has done much to relieve the teachers of the strain which the annual inspection put upon them. There is an interesting extract which might be given from the last Educational Report, in which the divisional inspector, speaking very strongly on the system which has been introduced for many years by this examination, says it has given great satisfaction to the school, has relieved the strain on the teacher, and has given better results than before. I think that was stated from a better point of view; and in the future I believe we shall be able to get better value for our money than in the past. Then there is also a question of subjects taken in the schools; but some honourable Members think, no doubt, that too many subjects are taken, and even, in some cases, that there is a smattering of too many subjects taken. I am one of those who think the fullest possible choice should be given to the teachers and managers of the schools. There should be, possibly, a veto on the part of the Department, but take it all round you cannot give too great elasticity and too great choice to the teachers and managers of our elementary schools. I am very glad to see, on looking at the Returns, that, as regards certain subjects, which, I think, we all feel it is an advantage that our older and our cleverer children should take up in international competition, there has been a very steady increase and a very rapid increase in the last few years. I see that, in subjects such as French and shorthand, the two subjects, perhaps, in which we have the greatest competition from these Germans who come in and take so much, unfortunately, of our trade, our elementary schools have taught them at an accelerated rate, and a great number of our children have taken them up and learnt them efficiently. I congratulate the right honourable Gentleman in regard to the improvement, for I think it is an improvement, in our general system of education in the schools themselves. I trust he will do something with his colleagues to meet the great defect in attendance, both as regards the attendance of the child and 634 still more as regards the fact that the child leaves school too early, and I hope he will give us some information with regard to the working of the Act of last year, in which, I think the House is interested, and which, I think, we are entitled to see.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
With regard to the remarks of the right honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, with regard to school attendance, I think, perhaps, the Education Department will hesitate a moment before they adopt his method of enforcing attendance. It is quite true that there are extraordinary variations in the attendance of different schools; but, as the honourable Gentleman opposite knows, the responsibility of securing the attendance is not by law entrusted to managers and teachers of the schools, but to the school attendance officer, or the school board, as the case may be. He appears to wish to lay the duty upon teachers and managers, and to enforce that with a fine, but unless you give them powers by which they can appeal in order to secure—
§ MR. S. BUXTON
The figures given by the right honourable Gentleman opposite referred, as I understood, to schools identically in the same position, under the same attendance officer, and therefore the policy, the condition, is the same.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
So long as the law lays the responsibility for securing the attendance on the attendance officer, the officer who ought to be fined if the direction is not carried out is the attendance officer. No one else has any legal power to enforce the attendance. The right honourable Gentleman may propose to fine the magistrate if he likes. The magistrates understand the practical working of these things, which, I think, the right honourable Gentleman does not. I should think it is a great many years since the right honourable Gentleman sat on a bench of magistrates.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
The right honourable Gentleman is not a magistrate. He has no knowledge of the 635 subject he criticises—not an unusual thing. As a matter of fact, the magistrates have a great difficulty in enforcing the law for precisely the reason my right honourable Friend has pointed out. If that is not a reason why the law should not be altered, it is a reason why you should not fine the magistrates, and still more why you should not fine the teachers and managers who are not responsible. The honourable Gentleman who has just sat down said he regretted very much the absence of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Rotherham, and I also should like to express the regret which we all feel at his prolonged absence. If the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Rotherham had represented the Opposition this evening, we should not have had the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The Member for Rotherham would have approached the subject from a fair point of view, and would have approached it also from the point of view of promoting the interests of education, and he would not have attempted to make Party capital out of the question, as the Leader of the Opposition has done. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, of course, made a great blunder with his failure of subscriptions to Voluntary schools. I am not going to repeat the answers which have been given by my right honourable Friend the Leader of the House and the Member for Oxford. All I will say is that a small decline did take place, but this decline took place before the Act came into force; that all the authorities concerned have done their best to counteract it, and that there is no reason to suppose that it will be permanent. Why, Sir, my right honourable Friend the Vice-President has been accused of not doing anything to enforce the policy of the Government, but I find in the circular which he has issued, he said—Before recommending a grant for this purpose, the governing body should be satisfied that the standard of efficiency is high, that the maintenance of that standard is endangered by want of funds, that the local support of the school is as liberal as can reasonably be expected, and that the grant will not be employed to relieve the voluntary subscriptions.636 That is in the Order which my right honourable Friend has issued, or, rather, which has been issued from the Education Department. And that statement of the policy of the Government has been interpreted and added to by my right honourable Friend the Leader of the House just now, and he has explained that there are cases obviously where certain elasticity must be admitted, yet the general policy of the Department, which is, of course, the policy of the Government, and, I may add, the policy of the National Society and every other society concerned is not to allow the Voluntary subscriptions to fall. The Leader of the Opposition argued against the National Society; but the whole object of the speeches he quoted was to prevent that contingency. Sir, he criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury. A bishop, Sir, is to the right honourable Gentleman like a red rag to a bull; one merely has to mention the name of a right reverend prelate and we get the ordinary thing—a thundering on the big drum. One of the main objects of the archbishop's speech was to secure a larger subscription to the Voluntary schools in order that the teachers should be paid higher salaries. We are, of course, well aware that our teachers are not paid as high as they should be in our Voluntary schools. Of course they are not paid so highly, and of course that is one reason why many of the best teachers go into the Board schools. We are not in the least surprised; on the contrary, we feel that we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the teachers in the Voluntary schools who have been willing to accept a remuneration which is really far below what I may call the competition value of their labour, because they are so much more attached to the education given in Voluntary schools than to the education given in Board schools. Sir, I do not agree at all, of course, with the right honourable Gentleman that the religious teaching of the Voluntary schools is to be considered inferior. He spoke of the Bible teaching in the Board schools. Why, Sir, there are Board schools where there is no Bible teaching! I have a return which was presented in 1894, in which it appears that in England and Wales there were 57 Board schools in which the Bible 637 was forbidden altogether; of those, 48 were in the Principality of Wales—that is admitted. Wales has the glory of having 48 schools in which the Bible is not admitted.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
On our side of the House the Bible is a book which is for every-day use. But that 57 does not exhaust the significance of these Returns, because there are 316 schools, of which 118 are in Wales, where the Bible is taught without any explanation; that is to say, the Bible, one of the most difficult books in the world to understand, is read out to the little children, and they are expected to understand it, without any explanation at all. That is the kind of Bible education which the right honourable Gentleman held out to our admiration as a fit substitute for the education given in the Church of England schools.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
Sir, I am not responsible for what the Vice-President said. I take the facts as I find them; what I do is to look to the Return, and I find in this enormous number of cases the Bible is not taught at all, or taught, without comment. Sir, I will take the case of another great centre: take the case of Birmingham. Nothing is more striking than the condition of things in Birmingham. In Birmingham for a long time, I believe, religious teaching was excluded altogether from the Board schools; but the people of Birmingham were so horrified at the results that followed that they made a concession, and the concession took this form: that for one or two hours in the week the school buildings were permitted to be used by religious teachers, not belonging to the school staff, who might come in and give a certain amount of religious education. Well, I myself went down to examine this system, and I attended one of the classes. An unfortunate clergyman was teaching a very large number of children—400 or 500—of all ages, and belonging to all standards and classes of intellectual development, and he was trying to teach them all at the same time, in 638 half or three-quarters of an hour. That is in Birmingham, and that I submit, for religious education, is not to be compared to our own schools. Churchmen, whether they sit on this Front Bench or on that Front Bench, are rash in condemning Church education in these schools. They must not judge Board schools by any particular school; they must look at the Board schools as a whole—schools where it is not taught at all, as well as those schools where it is taught with success. Of course, where these efforts have been made, it is intended to bring up the children of good Church people to become good Church people themselves. That is amazing to the right honourable Gentleman opposite; he said you are bringing up the children as Churchmen! Of course, that is so. What other reason should there be but to bring them up as members of the Church of England? Would you teach them the religion of the Church of England for the purpose of making them Roman Catholics?
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
Oh! I see the right honourable Gentleman has not got over the orgie of last night. I will deal with that point in a moment. The reason for teaching this subject is that the children may be brought up in the religion of their parents, and no other. Our Church teaching is of value because of that. It is of value because it instils into the minds of the people the first consideration that their teachers must be religious people. The Report of the Royal Commissioners lays it down that you cannot teach religion unless you are religious, and that unless people are selected for teachers because of their religious belief, you cannot have religious teaching. That consideration is even higher than the teaching of secular subjects, and it is for that reason people who train children should be really religious. I have no sympathy with the extremities which were alluded to by the right honourable Gentleman opposite; I hate and abhor as much as he himself the kind of excesses that have been 639 described, and which we all regret. I regret intensely that there are Churchmen who have been so misled as to rush into these extremities. They have earned not only the reprobation of this House, but of the House of Convocation and the country at large. And it is most unfair, when making attacks upon the Church of England, to lump us altogether with these extremities. In my belief, the real fact is, the bishops of the Church of England do their utmost to restrain the people. The right honourable Gentleman shakes his head, but he does not know. May I say, with great respect, that he knows very little about it. Has he seen the private correspondence of the bishops?
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
He has not. If he knew anything of the private correspondence of the bishops he would know that they made very considerable efforts to restrain these matters. Of course, if their efforts are crowned with success we do not hear about it; but, nevertheless, the work has been done. The right honourable Gentleman knows perfectly well that the number of gentlemen who hold these extreme services is very small indeed, and when he speaks of this kind, these extreme services being held all over the country, it is simply amazing to me. I go about the country, I suppose, as much as most people, and I also occasionally attend church services, and I do not know of any country church where I have attended in which extreme services have been held. That in some of our large cities these excesses have taken place I regret I am bound to admit; but to say that in all our countryside the churches hold this kind of service I believe to be a delusion; and the idea that little children, through their religious teaching, are being brought up in this direction, to which the right honourable Gentleman referred, is, in my opinion, a very wide stretch of imagination. Now, I should like to say one word upon what fell from the Vice-President. May I say that, in spite of my admiration of his ability in making his speech, there has been in my mind some little doubt as to the wisdom of referring to a great many subjects without producing any proposal by which 640 they may be dealt with? With regard to the working of the children—I am not speaking of the half-timers, but the full-timers, of whom he was speaking—I always understood that it was contrary to the law to allow a child to labour who had not reached a certain standard. Is not that the case?
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I have always understood it was, unless they had what is called a labour certificate. If it is not the case, I shall be glad to hear from the right honourable Gentleman when he replies what the facts are. With regard to the food: does he propose to provide food in the Board schools? If he does not, what is the good of referring to that subject? I feel for those hungry children; but this is a practical subject, and unless he proposes to feed these children, I do not see what reason the right honourable Gentleman has for referring to it. I do not see that any object can be attained in referring to a matter unless there is a reasonable prospect of some proposal being made to deal with it. With regard to the Voluntary schools, the right honourable Gentleman read a passage of the inspector's report, which held up all classes of rural society to contempt. No doubt it was the view of the inspector, but if the right honourable Gentleman has any idea of receiving further subscriptions from these classes, I do not think that any useful purpose is served by holding up the squire to contempt. I think he ought to be treated with indulgence by the Government if they expect him to increase his subscriptions. With regard to the Voluntary Schools Act, it is too early to see how it is working. I think it will do a great deal of good. I think we may be congratulated upon the associations that have been formed and the work which they are doing. I know honourable Gentlemen thought that these associations would be entirely in the hands of the bishops, and only another clerical autocracy; but, as a matter of fact, the boards are largely attended by the laity, quite as largely as by the clergy, and all that the Vice-President has prophesied 641 in that respect has come true. Under those circumstances I look forward to the future with every hope that we shall be able to tide over, and with the assistance of that considerable grant which the Government is giving to the Voluntary schools, we shall be able to maintain our position of efficiency until Parliament takes further steps.
* MR. J. W. MELLOR (Yorks., W. R., Sowerby)
I merely wish to ask a question as to the proceedings of the Vice-President. It is a question which I think should come under this Vote. It is a question of maladministration. First of all, I want to know the authority by which he has done this. I wish to ask him what rules are laid down as to the number and members of the county and borough authorities in respect of secondary or technical education. I think that it is a question which might come upon the Vote as to the right honourable Gentleman's salary. I understand that under the Education Act, which was brought in by the Government in 1896, the power to delegate its authority to county and borough committees or authorities was one of the powers which it was proposed to confer upon the Department. As no Act of Parliament referring to this matter has, so far as I know, been passed since that time, I want to know by what authority the right honourable Gentleman has acted.
If the administrative act, which is challenged, is in connection with another Vote, then the proper time to raise the question is upon the other Vote.
* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
The First Lord of the Treasury has claimed credit for the Government for the amount of time which has been recently devoted to the subject of education. That may be so, but the complaint of the Opposition is the ill-use which has been made of it. The Government have brought in four Education Bills, three of which have passed into law, but nothing substantial has been done to increase the efficiency of our educational system. The noble Lord has just said that the working of the Volun- 642 tary Schools Act is good so far as it goes. Yes, but it goes such a very little way, and we have no expectation of further legislation with regard to education. More than that, the Vice-President of the Council has told us that this Parliament does not intend to deal further with it; so that so long as this Parliament lasts we can expect nothing more. We have had sometimes to complain of the Vice-President, either on account of his silence or on account of his inadequate speech; but we can make no such complaint to-day. We have had a speech to-day to which we have not only listened with great attention, but also with painful interest. The speech was a most depressing one, but the right honourable Gentleman has done a very good thing by telling us the truth; because, knowing the truth, we can usefully set to work to effect an improvement. It is thought—at least, it is feared—in some quarters that the country is in danger of being over-educated. We have done no more than lay the foundation for an educational system. In the first place, the statement made to-night has confirmed me in the opinion I have always entertained, that the mere expenditure of money is not sufficient to secure adequate education, and I concur with the right honourable Gentleman in the remarks which he has made in regard to that. The right honourable Gentleman has told us of a large number of our countrymen who dislike education—a melancholy state of things, but one we must admit to be true. But we must so educate public opinion that we shall be able to do in the future what is now impossible, and those who put obstacles in the way incur a very great responsibility. I congratulate the Government upon bringing on tins Vote at a time when it can be adequately debated. The honourable Member for Poplar is probably not aware that this House has ordered a return of the various associations that have been formed, and their areas and the persons composing them, and also of the refusals of the applications made in certain cases by those schools which are not in the associations. I hope this information will be soon forthcoming. But, in addition, we wish to know the manner in which these grants have been made to the schools, the amount of the debts of the 643 schools, and the amount of the voluntary subscriptions. I do not know whether the whole of this information can be given: some can I know, but not until a later period in the year. At present we have only fragmentary information with regard to the working of the law, but the information already given shows that a great deal of dissatisfaction exists in some quarters. There are two classes who are extremely dissatisfied; there are the managers of those schools which receive what they term miserable doles; whilst the teachers complain that they have not been treated in the manner in which they should have been in the matter of their salaries being increased. They also justly complain that they have been excluded from the governing bodies of the new associations which have been formed. With regard to these associations, I do not think they have been successful to the extent which has been claimed for them. I think the entry of schools into them has been to some extent compulsory rather than otherwise. A fair example of this is contained in a letter written by a country schoolmaster—Our school did not want to join a federation, and we protested, yet we were informed that a school not joining a federation might imply that that school was non-necessitous and would receive no grant.He joined rather than lose the grant. One of the obstacles of which the Vice-President has complained is the inadequate supply of efficient teachers. And that brings me to the Report that has recently been presented, of the committee which sat to inquire into the question of teachers and training colleges, which points out that one reason for the inadequate supply of efficient teachers is the refusal to admit young Nonconformists as pupil teachers. If the right honourable Gentleman had looked into this matter he would have found that there is abundant evidence to sustain that statement; but, without quoting that evidence, it is sufficient for me to refer to the Report of the Committee itself upon this point. That Report states that—The grievances of Nonconformists, in regard to both the lack of facilities for obtaining posts as pupil teachers and subsequent entrance into training colleges, are very serious, 644 and we believe the State loses a large number of competent teachers in this way.Of course it does. The Nonconformity of this country is capable of producing teachers as competent as any class of the community. A number of young Non-conformists are debarred from entering the scholastic profession because the requisite facilities are wanting. Now, what is the comment of the Committee on this state of things—We are unable under present circumstances to suggest any remedy.Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion! but a conclusion which certainly is not justified by the evidence. The second complaint which I have to make is that, admitting all that the Vice-President of the Council has said in regard to the difficulties which have to be encountered, the present law is, in the opinion of a large number of people in this country, unfairly administered—that is to say, that the Education Department does not do justice between the two great classes of schools. Some time ago the right honourable Gentleman, when in the country, spoke of himself as being a bit of a sham. His predecessor would not have done so, nor do I think that he was so considered; but what I understood him to mean is that he has not the power to legislate and effect all the reforms which he obviously thought necessary. I quite agree that much that he desires is not likely to be attained. But why does he, or the Education Department, put, or appear to put, obstacles in the way of the legitimate extension of the school board system? Ever since this Government came into office the Education Department has done its best to extend the denominational school system, and to put obstacles in the way of the legitimate extension of the Board school system; and a belief widely prevails that it has gone out of its way to do so. I referred last year to the cases of Heywood and Wimbledon, and I shall not call them to the attention of the House again; but other cases have occurred since which justify this prevailing belief—notably the case of Burley-in-Wharfe-dale, which is a case of special interest, because that is where Mr. Forster, the father of the Act of 1870, lived, and carried on his busi- 645 ness. It is not surprising that in that place there should be an unsectarian school. Lately it became known that the school would shortly be closed. As soon as the ratepayers knew it they held a public meeting, and passed, by a very large majority, a resolution in favour of a school board. It was not a Statutory meeting, but the Statutory meeting was subsequently held, at which it was resolved, by a very large majority—an overwhelming majority—to memorialise the Education Department to form a school board. What did the Department thereupon do, instead of ordering the appointment of a school board, as it was bound to do? It sent this letter—I am directed to state that if a resolution to the same effect is again duly proposed and carried, their Lordships will act upon it, provided that they are satisfied that the persons voting clearly understand, when recording their votes, that if the proposed Voluntary school is built, the duties of the Board, when constituted, will be practically confined to enforcing school attendance, and will not extend to the provision of a Board school, as the latter was unnecessary and could not receive the annual grant.So that, first of all, these people of Burley-in-Wharfedale are told that they must pass a second resolution, and then they are told that if a school board is granted it will have no other effect than securing the attendance of the children at another, but at a denominational school. I cannot imagine what justification the Government can put forward for that. If it would not occupy too much time, I could instance other eases where that same bias had been shown by the Department. At Barry, in Glamorganshire, a Roman Catholic school is receiving a grant instead of the Board school, when the additional accommodation ought to be provided by the Board school. Then, again, there is Burton Latimer. There the Department has refused over and over again to allow the school board to increase its accommodation, but has allowed it to be provided by Church school managers. And now the people there are told that there is no necessity to increase the school accommodation. These illustrations are sufficient to show what is regarded as the unfair treatment of the school board system. I submit that the school board system has quite enough difficulties to contend against, 646 without having these other difficulties thrown in the way. I do not ask the Education Department to give special privileges, but I think that wherever there is a case made out for a school board it is the duty of the Department to comply with the resolution of the majority, and not to go out of its way to give undue time to the promoters of denominational schools. All we ask for is fair play, and I hope that will be secured in the future to a greater extent than it has been in the recent past.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
I scarcely think it is fair to attribute all these defects to the existence of the Voluntary system. I think that our Debates on this occasion would be considerably more useful and instructive if they did not so much consist in the attack and the defence of the Voluntary system. I think the Committee would be surprised at the proportion in these Debates which theological and Party questions bear to those which are strictly educational. We have had a very remarkable speech to-night from the Vice-President of the Council, a speech which, I am sure, interested us all, but which, I am afraid, is a little disappointing to most of us. He gave us a clear and effective account of the various obstacles which stand in the way of improving our system of elementary education in this country, and he concluded his remarks without holding out a single hope, or making a single promise, of any step forward in the immediate future in the direction in which he spoke. Now, I think we have a right to ask him from these benches, and from the benches opposite, what steps he intends to take in order to remedy some of the evils which he has so graphically described. I will say one word more on the speech already dwelt upon by several members, and that is the question of raising the school age. We know that the Vice-President of the Council is a warm supporter of that principle, and we know this also, that the Government, when in the first year of office, did lay a proposal before the House—which was a very modest and reasonable proposal—for increasing the school ago up to 12. Now, I think they 647 must have gathered that, however hotly some parts of that Bill were opposed in some quarters of the House, it was a Bill which, if they had been at all inclined, they could have carried through this House. It may be, and no doubt it is, a fact that there are parts of this country in which opinion upon this subject is in a very bad condition, but I think my right honourable Friend, and some others connected with country districts, are all a little too timid in this matter of education. I think if we were merely guided by public opinion in some rural districts on these subjects we should never have a system of compulsory education at all. There is another obstacle that the Vice-President of the Council spoke of, on which I should like to ask the right honourable Gentleman a question. He spoke of the deficiency of our evening school continuation system. Now, what is he going to do to improve this system? The local authorities—speaking now of country districts with which I am more particularly concerned—have done a great deal latterly to increase the number of evening schools, and in this work they have been aided by the excellent code which was introduced some years ago by the predecessor of my right honourable Friend, but I think something more is wanted now. We want to know whether the Education Department is willing to find the necessary funds to support efficiently these schools all over the country. They are much more necessary in the country districts where the grants made now by the Education Department are not even sufficient for the present requirements in those parts of the country. I think it ought to be the duty of the Department now to see that in every country district, either out of the national funds or the local funds—I should prefer out of the national funds—there should be an efficient and almost universal system of evening continuation schools established. This is one of the ways in which we could help to check the great educational waste of which the right honourable Gentleman has spoken. If evening schools were available in every town of any size, there would be, at any rate, a certain proportion of our children who would go almost straight from our elementary schools into the evening con- 648 tinuation schools. It is during those several years which intervene between the time they leave the elementary schools and enter evening continuation schools, that there is such a great waste in our educational system. With regard to the pupil teachers, they do not exist in sufficiently large numbers, and how is that to be improved? Is the Treasury prepared to provide more national funds for this purpose, or is this burden to be thrown upon the funds of the local bodies? We ought to have some guidance upon this matter. The other day I asked the right honourable Gentleman why he prohibited the pupil teachers from attending the evening classes in the country districts, and he answered that he thought the pupil teachers were too hard worked already in the day schools to attend these classes. Now, the right honourable Gentleman ought to remember that in the country districts the evening classes are the only classes they can attend in which they can get proper instruction in many subjects; therefore it is more incumbent upon him to provide or to see that others provide the proper machinery for the training of these pupil teachers. The right honourable Gentleman has admitted, and rightly admitted, I think, that in the country districts the education is more costly and even more important than it is in the big districts. If that is so, why did he last year fix such a very different rate in the aid grant of the country schools from what he fixed for the town schools? Why are we in the country only getting 3s. 3d. when town schools are getting 5s. 9d. per child? Having mentioned this aid grant, let me say that in a great many parts of the country a great proportion of it might be much more usefully applied if it were applied by the governing bodies as a sort of common fund. Under the Act of last year, by the Orders of the Department, it is to be paid over in every case direct to the managers of the schools, and the result of that is that it is extremely difficult for the governing body to use it for any common purpose of school improvement. Greater co-operation is essential among our country schools if we are really to improve them, and I confess myself that I look with some hope to the governing bodies created last year as appropriate 649 machinery for accomplishing this object, although their functions up to the present time have almost entirely been limited to the distribution of money. They have worked well in that limited sphere, and they have, I believe, made honest efforts to distinguish the necessitous schools from the non-necessitous schools, and, to my knowledge, they have refused in many cases grants of money where the needs were not great, or where the subscriptions were in proportion to the proper resources of the district. But, if they are worked better, then they ought to be encouraged to act in such a way as I have described, as an association bringing the country schools together with a common purpose and common machinery. Now, the last question I wish to put to the Vice-President of the Council is this—admitting the urgent necessity for a better organised system of secondary education, when are we to have a Vote proposed for this object? We all agree that if we are to prevent waste in our educational system, if we are to provide proper means of continuing education up to the brighter years, if we are to lay a sound foundation for technical and commercial education, we must have a better organised system of secondary education. I do not think it should be left to private Members of this House to introduce a Bill upon this subject, when the Government admit every year almost in some quarter or another the desirability, nay, the necessity of a reform, and I earnestly ask the Vice-President of the Council to press upon his colleagues the desirability of laying before the country a reasonable proposal on the subject on the lines of the generally accepted proposal of the late Royal Commission, which would do much, I am sure, to improve that system of education which we all admit to be largely necessary.
§ * MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
We all read with interest and amusement the speech the right honourable Gentleman made at Birmingham last winter, an occasion on which he told us he had laid aside the official mask. Well, now, to-night, Mr. Lowther, it seems to me that the right honourable Gentleman has again laid aside his official mask, and has laid bare before the Committee, in the frankest way, the evils and 650 the obstacles, and the dangers and difficulties which beset his course, or the course of any other Minister of Education in endeavouring to improve the education of the people. Now, Sir, I cannot express too warmly my admiration of what the right honourable Gentleman had said as to the present age limit, the evils of the pupil teacher system, the bad results of the irregular attendance at school, and the injustice to the half-timers; and he had shown that this was not merely a question of the regular half-timers in the industrial towns, but extended to thousands of other children who were practically working as half-timers all over the country. These are all questions of urgent and practical importance. On these questions I am sure all friends of education will heartily agree with the contentions advanced by the right honourable Gentleman. But what I wish here to deal with is one of the obstacles which the right honourable Gentleman handled with even more force and with more decisive and conclusive arguments than all the rest, and that is the enormous obstacle to the progress of education involved in the present physical and mental inferiority of the Voluntary schools, and their ineffective equipment for the purpose of education. Now, Sir, the issue I have to raise and the challenge I have to give on this matter is this, that the right honourable Gentleman, having so clear and so admirable a grasp, not only of the facts of the situation, but also of those principles and those measures which should be held in view in improving that situation when it comes to the practical administration of the Department over which he presides, his policy should not be in accordance with the views which he has laid so forcibly before the House to-night, but that his policy should be directed—that policy which he is supposed to guide and direct should be altogether a policy of increasing the difficulties and perils and obstacles to educational progress by encouraging still further the spread of this inefficient and badly equipped system all over the country.
§ * MR. CHANNING
I am quite aware that in the opinion of the right honourable Gentleman the Voluntary schools in rural districts are much better than Board schools, but in the districts with which I am acquainted I absolutely dissent from that opinion. At the same time, that is not the point to which I desire to draw attention. It seems to me rather extraordinary that when the whole argument and statement of the right honourable Gentleman pointed to precisely the same educational policy as those remarkable utterances of the President of the National Union of Teachers at the Cheltenham Conference, and of my honourable Friend the Member for South West Ham, who addressed the conference in the same sense—that is, in the direction of the unification of our educational machinery, in order to make it more efficient, and so by concentration to distribute it uniformly to every part—the right honourable Gentleman has made no proposals in that direction. Just as the heart circulates the arterial blood through every part of the body, so the whole of the educational and financial resources of the country should be distributed to every part of our educational system, in order to develop a higher standard of efficiency; and I think it is somewhat remarkable—and I regret to have to challenge the policy of the Department—after the right honourable Gentleman has made it so plain that he realises what the only true and absolutely effectual solution of this problem will be, that his policy has been to increase the difficulties instead of decreasing them. Now, my honourable Friend the Member for Nottinghamshire has referred to the persistent policy of the Department in encouraging Voluntary schools and discouraging Board schools in rural districts, and urban districts also. This has happened in three or four cases in my own division—not all during the tenure of office of the right honourable Gentleman—where the wishes of the people, as expressed through their elected authorities, deliberately elected to carry out a certain educational policy, have been thwarted and set aside by the Education Department; while the Voluntary school managers, who are presumably erecting schools which must be of an inferior type, and will be conducted 652 with less efficiency, have been indefinitely encouraged by the Department. There was a persistent policy of denying the rights guaranteed under the Act of 1870. Either the meeting for a school board was alleged to have been wrongly convened, or the purpose of the meeting was misunderstood, or a resolution, though perfectly intelligible, was wrongly drawn. The honourable Member for Mansfield has referred to several places, but I should like to refer briefly to other instances. There is a village in Northamptonshire which has been one of the most disgraceful instances of educational inefficiency in the country for many years. It is a case for which I think more than one Vice-President of the Council shares some responsibility.
§ * MR. CHANNING
It is the village of Sulgrave. At a public meeting there a resolution was passed in favour of establishing a school board, owing to the fact that there were two competing sets of managers, one set of whom challenged the rights of the other and refused to share or to undertake the liabilities incurred by the other managers. This practically reduced the village to an absolute want of the means of education, and the school itself was partially wrecked owing to the disturbances which arose out of this dispute. Well, although a resolution was passed in favour of a school board, the Education Department, acting upon the red tape doctrine that the resolution passed at the meeting was not carried out in the prescribed form of words—although the intention of the meeting was absolutely clear that a school board was wanted by the parish—set that aside, and for some time longer allowed it to continue, and possibly now the parish is being most inefficiently supplied with education by some set of Voluntary school managers or other. Now, there is another case. I have been requested by the Education League of my own county, which has recently been formed, to draw special attention to the case of Burton Latimer. In 1891 Burton Latimer was a very growing village, full of the active shoe-making population which aggregates in these 653 villages, and is constantly increasing. When the number of children threatened to exceed the accommodation in the Church schools a meeting was held, and by a two to one majority it was decided to form a school board, in order to provide the necessary accommodation. The board was elected and at once proceeded to ask for power to provide accommodation for infants in view of the impending deficiency of places. That was refused by the Education Department in 1891, yet in the very next year, within a very few months after, the Church managers drew up plans for increased accommodation, and these were sanctioned by the Department, although a board had been elected by this enormous majority of votes in the parish, and the intentions and wishes of the people of that village to have a Board school were absolutely ignored. I may mention that there is a large Nonconformist population in the village, and I believe I am not wrong in stating that three children out of every five are Nonconformists, or perhaps even the proportion might be larger. In 1893 the population had again increased, and was distributing itself more widely, and there was a great deal of building going on, and a large increase in the population occurred at some distance from the Church schools. In this emergency the board again applied for the right to build district schools at the far end of the parish, in order to provide for the wants of the population, and especially to provide for the urgent demand of those who wished to have an unsectarian school for their children. That was again refused, and in that instance by my right honourable Friend the Member for Rother-ham, on the ground that the distance was not sufficiently great to justify the formation of district schools; but at the same time the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Rotherham, who was then Vice-President of the Council, promised that on the next occasion which arose of deficient accommodation the board should have the right of supplying that accommodation. Last year there was a still further increase in the population, and the demand was again made. On the strength of this promise given by the former Vice-President of the Council, the board again 654 claimed the right to erect schools—unsectarian Board schools. This was again refused, because it was said that the deficiency had not actually arisen. But calculating on the 10 feet basis which Sir George Kekewich said himself they were entitled to use, so far from there being no deficiency, the actual deficiency last autumn amounted to no less than 52 places. The accommodation was only for 491 upon that basis. In other words, the number of children requiring accommodation was 543, and the accommodation provided on the 10 feet basis was only 491. In the meantime, what has happened? The Church school managers have been—I do not say that they have had any definite pledge from the Department to place those new schools on the list for grants—proceeding to build, with the expectation that these schools will receive grants. So far I believe that the Education Department have refused to promise the grant, and what has happened has been this, that the board has been refused the right which the people of this parish have three times demanded by electing the board, while the Church party has felt itself unable to resist public opinion, and has not ventured to put up candidates or challenge the election of the board in any way whatever. Three times this village has pronounced in favour of the erection of Board schools for the parish, and in spite of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Rotherham's promise, the Education Department has again declined to allow the school board to carry out the functions which it was the intention to carry out under the provisions of the Education Act. This has created a very deep indignation against the Education Department in Northamptonshire, and it is one of the most typical cases in which it has practically and deliberately favoured the extension of these ineffective and obstructive Voluntary schools, and denied the right of the people themselves when they have elected a school board again and again to carry out their intentions, and the people are thus denied the simple rights which they ought to be allowed to exercise under the Act of 1870. Well, Sir, this is one instance which I might multiply by many others. I will only say, however, that I do think that the right 655 honourable Gentleman, who expressed the opinions he has to-day as to the real machinery for making education efficient, ought to hesitate before he puts on the official mask and allows himself and his own ideas and principles to be set aside by the Education Department, which violates its own rules in order to defeat the intentions of the Act of Parliament of 1870. Now, Sir, I will challenge the policy of the right honourable Gentleman on another topic—the policy of last year, and the way it was being carried out. In the Voluntary Schools Act one of the subjects which arose was whether the associations should do as was suggested by many practical men in the country, not all of my shade of politics, who took the view that the area of these associations should be the local government area, in order that these associations should—as we arrive at that uniform system of education which I am sure all thoughtful men must see that we must arrive at ultimately—that these associations should not be obstacles to that perfecting of the machinery of education, but shall be wheels ready to fit into the machine, and when they are applied finally to their proper purpose will not be obstacles in the way of the real purpose and cause of education. I ask the right honourable Gentleman, holding the views that he does, why this Act is being made an instrument of coercion to drive the Church of England schools into these ecclesiastical associations in ecclesiastical areas, when it is perfectly notorious that the opinions of large numbers of representative men—not of my way of thinking—are in favour of the local government area way of dealing with the question. This policy was adopted even before the Bill had actually passed through the House of Lords; a coercive circular was issued for these Church schools, informing them that if they failed to join these associations the presumption was that their schools were not necessitous schools, and were, therefore, not entitled to receive the grant. It was further pointed out that if they could not show reasonable grounds for failure to join, their schools, even though necessitous, were to be precluded from any share of the grant. Well, I have put several questions to the right honour- 656 able Gentleman bearing upon this point, and one of the facts which I elicited from him was that, practically, the whole of the Voluntary schools had been dragooned into these ecclesiastical associations. One of the most striking replies which he gave to one of these questions was that the managers of the Church of England schools had been told that if they claimed to have the grant while remaining unassociated, or if, as I understand, they claimed the right of joining a county association instead of an ecclesiastical association, they would be held to have taken an unreasonable course. The right honourable Gentleman even went so far as to say that the Church schools had been informed that, if they did not join the ecclesiastical association in the ecclesiastical area, they would be obliged, if they wanted a grant at all, to join the associations formed by the British and Foreign Schools Society. To force the managers of schools which are strictly Church schools to place themselves on an undenominational footing, under the control of an undenominational committee, is a policy presumably the managers might resent. I call that most cruel and needless coercion. The right honourable Gentleman is probably well aware of the Debate in another place last July on this question, in which Lord Wantage and my friend Lord Spencer, Lord Heneage, and other noble Lords took part, when absolutely dragging the Church schools into these diocesan associations was strongly opposed. The way in which ecclesiastical organisations have been enabled to upset the decisions arrived at by responsible Church managers and teachers in Berkshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire is a very serious scandal in the history of the education question. In that same Debate the Duke of Devonshire promised that the Voluntary schools should be absolutely free to join any kind of association without losing any right to the grant. The county associations at first proposed have been deliberately destroyed by the action of the more powerful clergy; and the Education Department, as far as I can gather, has encouraged that policy, and followed it up with a whip of its own, threatening certain schools with the deprivation 657 either of the grant or of their denominational character. Now, Sir, something has been said as to the way in which the associations have done their work. I hold in my hand a copy of a circular which honourable Members have referred to in the course of this Debate—a circular addressed by the Department to the governing bodies of the federations as to the procedure which they have adopted in attempting to carry out the Act. Nobody can read that circular without coming to the conclusion that the Department has discovered very grave defects in the working of the Act by these associations, or else they would never have found it necessary to issue a circular of this nature. It would be impossible for me at this hour to occupy the time of the Committee by reading the whole of the circular, but it reminds the managers of the schools and the controlling committees of these associations of the simplest possible facts, from which it must be inferred that they must have neglected the simplest objects of this Act. They have been wrong as to schools being necessitous, as to the amounts to be given, and as to the purposes to which the money is to go. They seem to have had a general determination to apply the money to relieve the schools from debts previously incurred or to be incurred. Now, this circular, I venture to say, is the strongest possible proof that the carrying out of this Act by these associations has not been in any sense satisfactory. Now, Sir, I have done with the associations, and I apologise to the Committee for detaining them so long; but there is another point which has been alluded to by several speakers, and to which I shall allude very briefly—namely, the question of training colleges. Is it not perfectly obvious, not only to the right honourable Gentleman, who understands this question, but to everybody else, that so long as you leave these training colleges the private preserves of sectarian bodies of managers, you will never have an adequate machinery for fully-trained teachers in this country. It is obvious that the one essential difficulty—
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Mr. Lowther, I beg to call your attention to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
658 House counted. Adjourned for the usual interval.
After the usual interval, Mr. J. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N.E., Thirsk) took the Chair.
§ * MR. CHANNING (resuming)
At the moment when my remarks were interrupted I had been urging upon the Committee the consideration of the policy in view of the contention of the Vice-President of the Council of the inferiority of the Voluntary system and the impolicy of encouraging and furthering that system to the prejudice of the school board system; and I was also touching upon the special policy and the treatment and action of the Department in reference to the association of Voluntary schools, and the encouragement given by the Department to the action of the clergy in forcing the Voluntary schools into an ecclesiastical arrangement; and also I was dwelling upon the tangible proof of the inefficiency of these associations, as shown by the circular issued by the Department. Now, I do not wish, Sir, to pursue that topic any further, but I should like to take the opportunity now of concluding my remarks—which I must apologise to the Committee for making so long—by dwelling for a moment on the position, in which we find ourselves on this educational question; and I will refer, for a moment, to the great conference of teachers held at Cheltenham. I think honourable Gentlemen who have not made up their minds on the education question could not do better than carefully consider the speeches of Mr. Waddington, the President of the National Union of Teachers, and other persons who spoke at that meeting. No one will doubt that we are face to face with the situation that the Voluntary school teachers of this country are practically and substantially rebelling against a system which is inflicting upon them a cruel wrong, and which narrows and cripples the education which most of them wish to carry out with enthusiasm and interest. They are practically revolting against it. You have, on the top of that, a recent speech of one of the educational leaders of the Church, and a gentleman who has also had the great advantage of being the headmaster at 659 one of the greatest public schools in England. I refer to Archdeacon Wilson. He has not only a full grasp of elementary education, but also of its relation to secondary and higher education. Now, the speech of Archdeacon Wilson cannot be set aside by anyone interested in this question. He, like many of us, endeavours to find a practical solution of the education problem, and does what he can to emancipate education from these intolerable political and theological controversies. He urges that the whole force of the opinion of the nation should unreservedly press for a national system under public control. He says, in the first place, that the fact of education being compulsory gives the Nonconformists a right to have a share in the management of the schools, and even as to the religious teaching in the schools. He dwells on the disastrous and glaring financial anomalies which have resulted from maintaining the dual system, and regrets that—the precarious and fitful support of private generosity.should be relied upon to provide half the education of the people of this country, whereas the whole ought to be undertaken by the State. He asks—What would they think of leaving the victualling of half the Navy to private subscriptions, while the rest was paid for out of the Exchequer?I think that is a very vivid illustration. He goes on to say that the maintenance of the dual system is one of the greatest and most effectual bars to educational progress. He says—The duality of the system was a bar to progress. They ought to concentrate on educational progress all their best opinion. They divided that opinion into two camps, which opposed each other. The damage was obvious which the dual system inflicted on education by the limitation of staff and other expenditure.And, further on, he says—Another great evil was the rivalry and evil spirit of sectarianism that the dual system generated.With the utmost charity of temperament it is quite impossible to avoid this spirit of antagonism which fritters away the resources and the energies which ought 660 to be applied to education. He further says, and I am sure every sensible friend of education will agree with him, that—This evil spirit was a curse to a town, and degraded those who made themselves the ministers and promoters of it.Then he goes on to argue the whole case of the enormous benefit which would result by the adoption of a popular system of education, and to deal with the injury to the teaching profession created and inflicted by the maintenance of the dual system, and he wound up by these remarkable words, which I will venture to quote—It was then on these grounds, on the fact that education was compulsory, that the present system was unworthy as a national provision for education, and was full of anomalies and injustice, that it retarded the progress of education, discounted and divided the best opinions on the subject, promoted rivalries and hateful jobberies, was very unjust to teachers and provoked a spirit unworthy of their profession in them, that he held that the unifying of our educational system and placing all elementary schools under public control had become a national necessity, and, therefore, he appealed to all Churchmen to recognise that fact, and cordially to propose or welcome such measures as might bring about that result.Well, Mr. Grant Lawson, it seems to me that when one of the most eminent educational experts of the country, and also one of the most able representatives of the Church, has accurately summed up the situation in this way, we have arrived at a position in which we should not only recognise the facts which the right honourable Gentleman honourably and rightly says he is not going to suppress, but we also should, from whatever part of the House we view this question, face the important duty of dealing with these vitally important issues, on those broad and sensible lines which Archdeacon Wilson laid down. We cannot afford any longer to sacrifice education to sectarian interests, which, after all, will not be sacrificed by an honourable policy and a progressive policy in education. We should all endeavour to merge our differences and to concentrate the energies of the whole country on carrying out that broad and wise reform of the education laws which will really give the organisation needed and remove the obstacles and 661 dangers the right honourable Gentleman has exposed. And we must remember that education must be set free, not only of theologians, but of politicians too. I would protest most strongly against the educational interests of the children being sacrificed, as they sometimes are, by honourable Members of this House—although their own opinions are strongly in favour of this national system—when they happen to have a few Catholic or Irish votes which they want to conciliate in their divisions. We should banish those considerations as we should banish all sectarian considerations, and concentrate all the energies which the State and the individual classes can bring to bear upon this question, in order to attain the ideal which is clearly before all those who have carefully studied the question.
§ * MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington, E.)
In the very few observations which I am about to address to the Committee I must begin by alluding to what has been called by the honourable Member opposite "vote-catching." Now, I do not understand the appropriateness of that phrase, because it must occur to my honourable Friend that if what my honourable Friends on this side have said is likely to "catch votes," it cannot be disapproved by the electorate. Now, Sir, I have only risen to draw attention to one or two observations which fell from my right honourable Friend in what was called by the right honourable Member for the University of Oxford the searching criticisms on Voluntary schools. The Vice-President called attention to the fact that the education given in Voluntary schools was inferior—and, so far as regards religious education, was incomparably inferior—to that of Board schools, especially in London, with which I am more particularly concerned.
§ * SIR J. GORST
I want to make this point quite clear, because probably I shall be misrepresented. The observations I made on Bible teaching were exclusively about London.
§ * MR. COHEN
I am pleased to hear that it is only about London, and I am concerned about London. Now, if it be 662 admitted that the education in Voluntary schools is inferior to that given in the Board schools in London, I think my right honourable Friend would be the first to acknowledge that there is a considerable explanation given for it in the fact that the cost per head of Board schools in London is £3 12s. 3¾d., whilst it is only £2 8s. 4½d. in Volutary schools, I have never attacked Board schools, and I have not the least desire to do so now, and therefore the criticisms made in that direction do not, at any rate, affect me. But what I do say is this: that the Board schools must be extravagant to an almost supernatural degree if they do not give for £3 12s. 3¾d. a superior education to that which is afforded by the Voluntary schools for £2 8s. 4½d. But, Sir, it is not for the purpose of vindicating the Voluntary schools that I have risen this evening. I am anxious, with my honourable Friend the Member for Poplar, to obtain some information from my right honourable Friend the Vice-President of the Council as to the appropriation of these various aid grants to Voluntary schools which have been given under the Voluntary Schools Act of last year, and I am particularly anxious to obtain that information because, although I should be the very last person to dispute its efficient working, because we have not had time or sufficient experience to judge of the working of the Voluntary Schools Act of last year, still I think that the inferior religious education in the London Voluntary schools to which my right honourable Friend referred is attributable principally to the manner in which those schools are administered, and the manner in which the aid grants to those schools have been appropriated by the London Diocesan Board of Education in the London Voluntary schools. I feel, and I think my right honourable Friend the Vice-President of the Council will acknowledge, that the aim and object of the Voluntary Schools Act of last year was to assist the Voluntary schools which are needy, and, in the words of my right honourable Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, "to prevent the starvation of the Voluntary schools," and to promote the efficiency of those schools in the 663 manner in which the Act intended, by the increasing of the salaries and the prevention of the diminution of the too niggardly salaries of the teachers in the Voluntary schools. I should like to know from the Vice-President of the Council how far the Voluntary Schools Act has accomplished these objects, because, in my opinion, the Act, not on account of its faults, but on account of the inefficient way in which it is administered, has very grievously, and in some instances very conspicuously, failed in the accomplishment of its purpose. I am sure we do not approach this subject in any Party spirit. Whatever be the opinion of honourable Gentlemen opposite on the Act of last year, we all desire that it should be administered in a manner which will promote the efficiency of the Voluntary schools, on whose behalf it was enacted. I believe that, owing to the way in which it has been enacted by the London Diocesan Board, and especially owing to the way in which I have heard it is administered throughout London by that Board, it has—I do not say failed entirely, I do not believe it has—but it has not accomplished all the purposes which it was intended to achieve, and which, if properly administered, I believe it is capable of accomplishing. But while I speak generally with regard to Voluntary schools in London, I speak from a personal knowledge in regard to one school in my own constituency—I mean St. Paul's Schools at Highbury. I am not going to trouble the House with all the details of that particular case, but I wish to explain that the London Diocesan Board obtained subscriptions for the purpose of preventing this particular school—and there are many others on a similar footing—from falling into the hands of the school board and becoming a Board school, in order, as they said, to render it more efficient; and the means they suggested, and on which they insisted, were, first, the dismissal of the headmaster; and, secondly, after his dismissal, the acceptance by his successor of a salary of £40 less, while they insisted at the same time upon the assistant master being paid £15 less than his predecessor. It will occur to the Committee that, if it is desired to make a school more effi- 664 cient, the last means to accomplish that object is to reduce the salaries of the masters. To reduce salaries of Voluntary school teachers, as the Vice-President of the Council said just now, below the level—far below the level—paid to school board teachers, with whom, I consider, they come into unfair competition, can only have the one result of starving the Voluntary schools out of existence. The Vice-President of the Council is obliged to tell us that the religious education given in the Voluntary schools is not so good as that given in the Board schools. How can it be otherwise? How can you expect any other result when, with the object, as we are told, of promoting the efficiency of a school, the London Diocesan Board insists upon the dismissal of a headmaster against whom no word has been said, and in whose favour it is recorded by Her Majesty's inspector that the results in the school reflect the greatest possible credit upon the headmaster—a gentleman named Morgan—and upon all his staff, and that the grant has been raised from £123 to £195 under his management; and yet he was dismissed with a view of increasing the efficiency of the school! I do not want to impeach the management of the London Diocesan Board, but I ask my right honourable Friend the Vice-President of the Council to give us some explanation, if he can, as to the management in London regarding these Voluntary schools. It is with the London schools I am connected, and it is upon London schools the right honourable Gentleman was tempted to cast particular aspersions. I do not object to criticism or even censure of the Voluntary schools when they deserve it, because it is only by criticism that we may hope for improvement in these schools, which I believe still have the affection and support of the vast majority of the people of this country; but at least let the criticism be just, and where there is failure let the responsibility fall on those whose management or mismanagement has produced that failure.
§ * MR. W. JONES (Carnarvon, Arfon)
I have listened with great interest to the very frank statement of the Vice-President of the Council on the educational position of this country. Not 665 the least interesting of his excellent remarks were those directed to pupil teachers and the pupil teacher system. The right honourable Gentleman rightly called our pupil teachers "school drudges," and from experience I can confirm what the right honourable Gentleman has said. Several things are required in order to improve the pupil teacher system. In the first place, they should be appointed at a more advanced age. In Germany and other continental countries teachers are not appointed at 13 or 14 years of age, but at 18 to 20. Better educational training is also necessary for them. Last year a Departmental Committee sat, and dealt with evidence as regards the pupil teacher system. That evidence was conclusively in favour of a most drastic reform in order to secure the greater efficiency of teachers. I do not blame the Departmental Committee that presented that Report, but I do blame the niggardly policy of the Treasury, that prevented reform being carried out. In Wales, where we have a secondary education system second to none in Europe, we could easily send our pupil teachers to the intermediate schools, where they would get a proper training before beginning the work of teaching in an elementary school. Several school boards in North Wales, and notably the Llanberis School Board, have already made it a stipulation that no pupil teacher shall be engaged unless he or she has had, first of all, two or three years' training in one of these intermediate schools. But these pupils, unless they succeed in getting county exhibitions or others, have to be so trained at the expense of their parents. Now, this may work very well in Wales, where we have a splendid system of secondary schools, and where all pupil teachers might get their special training if the Department were only willing. I would also urge on the Committee the desire of getting as broad and elastic a system of intermediate education in England as we have in Wales. Apart from this necessity of having pupil teachers trained in secondary schools, there is the advantage that they will mix generally with the sons of the best citizens of the land. I do not want the teachers of our children brought up in a narrow, stereotyped form of professional training. Let them freely mix 666 with those who enjoy a wider outlook and setter intellectual advantages. This night easily be followed by a course of three years in the colleges and universities. One of the City companies is now giving scholarships for that purpose, but the Government ought not to wait for the action of City companies or wealthy individuals. What is the Government going to do in regard to this question? They have passed a Measure giving a subsidy for education, and it does not deal with the pupil teacher system at all. Instead of setting apart a portion of that money for the training of a better class of pupil teachers, the Government have used it mainly to make the Voluntary schools weaker and more effeminate in character. You can never get an effective system of education in this country unless you get the very best teachers, and an effective system depends almost entirely on the personality of the teacher. How are you to get teachers of weight and influence unless you give them the best culture and not the training of an attenuated and narrow curriculum? It is no use expecting teachers of cramped and feeble personality to be able to fertilise the minds of our children. Let the teachers in both the elementary and secondary schools be men of culture, and they will train up the children to be capable citizens, upon whose intelligence and character will depend the future welfare of our Empire.
§ * MR CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
Anyone who has had the advantage of a university education must recognise that if we want education to make a citizen, we must have the teachers brought up, as far as possible, with a sense of wider culture, and with those feelings and ideas in regard to education that go to make good citizens and good men. This question of religious animosity is much too easily brought to the front, and as regards our Voluntary schools I would point out that it is of great advantage to the managing bodies of these schools that this element of religious dissension is wholly absent from them. Everyone is cognisant of the difficulties which at one time arose in connection with the London School Board, but in our Voluntary schools the absence of religious dissension on the governing bodies is one 667 of the great advantages of the system. But I particularly wanted to deal with what I may call the extremely severe indictment of the Vice-President of the Council of Education; and I must say that I agree with what was said by the honourable Member for the Eastern Division of Somersetshire, that it is exceedingly disappointing, apart from all questions of politics, to have indictments of that character brought forward on occasions of this kind, and, on the other hand, to have no suggestions of remedy. I do not think that anyone can doubt, who has given that attention to the words of the Vice-President of the Council to which his position entitles him, that we have at the head of our Education Department a Vice-President who is wholly dissatisfied with the conditions of education in many respects; and yet, at the same time that he makes a statement of this great weight to the Committee, I am not aware that the Vice-President gave one practical idea of reform, or threw out one suggestion by which the serious evils that exist should be remedied.
§ * MR CRIPPS
I do not intend to make any personal points of that kind. I want to call attention to what the Vice-President of the Council has said with regard to Voluntary schools. I think it essential for the future condition of education in this country that in all schools, whether denominational or not, and in all parts of the country, you should give as nearly as possible an equally efficient education; and the conditions of that equally efficient education must be, and should be, laid down from a national standpoint, and not from the point of view either of the particular Voluntary school or of the particular Board school, as the case might be. I am bound to say that the speech which the Vice-President of the Council levelled at the Voluntary schools—the right honourable Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—was, as I understood it, by no means friendly to these schools, or to the Voluntary system. The right honourable Gentleman has condemned the system on this ground: that in every direction, and in London 668 even, the teaching is less efficient and less to be relied on than what I may call the average of our Board school education. That is a very serious point, and I wish to say a word or two about it. In the first place, I do not agree with the test of efficiency which the Vice-President of the Council has brought before the Committee. I may not have heard all the right honourable Gentleman said, but I think his test of efficiency was this: he took certain scholarships to be obtained in London and Manchester, or some large provincial town, and he told us to look at the proportion of scholarships obtained by scholars in Voluntary schools as against the proportion obtained by Board school scholars. And by this test the Voluntary school system stood condemned, in the right honourable Gentleman's opinion, as giving a less efficient form of education. I join issue upon that statement; I do not think the scholarship test is a true test; I do not think it is a true test in any school, and particularly as regards the elementary schools. There are, undoubtedly, better facilities for cramming the more promising pupils in our Board schools than in Voluntary schools, and, if honourable Members think that the main object of education is to cram to an excessive extent a few of the most promising pupils, I will admit the test the Vice-President has suggested. But that is not my idea of education, and more particularly it is not my idea of elementary education. The test is not cramming for an examination the pupils who show special ability; it is the average education by which we annually produce good citizens and good men in the future. I have no doubt the Vice-President of the Council has a great number of statistics, but he has limited himself to this particular class of test, which, I say, is one that ought not to be applied. But let us take another test. Let us take the test of grant. I do not say that it is altogether a satisfactory test; I do not say that any one test is satisfactory. But if you take the grant test, you do not find any great inferiority as between Voluntary and Board schools. A grant of 18s. 5¼d. per child was earned by the Board schools in Wales, and 18s. 5d. per child by the 669 Voluntary schools. That is a difference of a farthing. And can anyone say, from statistics of that kind, that a less efficient education is given in Voluntary schools than in Board schools?
§ * MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
Will the honourable and learned Member give the figures for England and Wales?
§ * MR. CRIPPS
The figures for England and Wales show that the Board schools earned 18s. 10d. per child, and the Voluntary schools 18s. 2d. There is some difference there, but the deduction to be drawn from figures of that sort is nothing like the deduction which the Vice-President drew from the figures regarding scholarships. One other word upon this vital matter of the efficiency of our Voluntary schools. Last Session this matter was very much discussed, and the religious question was brought forward from different points of view; but it was never suggested then that there was such a difference in the efficiency of the ordinary education as between the Voluntary schools on the one hand and the Board schools on the other, as that we were not getting efficient education in the Voluntary schools. That there is some difference everyone admits; but I do not think anyone allows that there was such a difference as would bring about the very scathing indictment of the Vice-President of the Council against our Voluntary schools.
§ * SIR J. GORST
I never made any observations upon the general question of Voluntary and Board schools; my observations were entirely restricted to the comparative merits of Board and Voluntary schools in great cities.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
I am sorry to press the point further than the right honourable Gentleman wishes to put it, but will take it in that limited sense that he meant to bring this indictment—I think it is a scathing indictment, but that is a matter of opinion—against the Voluntary schools in our big towns. The right honourable Gentleman placed his facts in that way, and, as I am a strong supporter of the Voluntary school system, I listened most attentively to his speech and, so 670 far as I could follow it, his criticism was unsound. But let me take the next point, which is a point of omission, so far as the Vice-President of the Council is concerned. Last year, as we are aware, an Act was passed dealing with our Voluntary schools. I am not now referring to the Necessitous School Board Act, but to the Voluntary School Act of last Session. Two questions were raised in the Debate on that Act. One was whether the system of associations would be successful or not; and the other was whether the funds granted would be devoted to the promotion of the efficiency of education. I think the Vice-President of the Council might well have told us what had been the effect of the operation of that Act upon our Voluntary schools. I claim that it has more than carried out everything we expected of it, and, while the right honourable Gentleman has given these statistics from the Education Department Reports, it was a strange omission on his part not to call attention to the Report made by his own Department on the Bill of last year, which shows that that Bill has more than carried out all the anticipations we looked for when we were discussing the matter last Session. Let me supply that omission by reading an extract from the Report. It is as follows—A year's experience of the Voluntary Schools Act now enables the Department to express satisfaction with the results obtained by the Associations of Voluntary Schools. The zeal and discretion which have been generally displayed by the governing bodies in the discharge of their onerous and delicate duties, as well as the reasonable spirit in which school managers have co-operated with them, have proved noteworthy, while the success which has attended the administration of the Act is shown by the almost universal adoption of the principle of association, and the working of this principle without friction promises well for the future of this new educational organisation.There we have the opinion of the Department expressing satisfaction with the Act of last year, saying it has worked in a noteworthy manner, and had done more for the Voluntary schools than was anticipated; and I should have thought that, when the Vice-President of the Council was calling attention to the position of Voluntary schools he might have added this valuable testimony to 671 the work of the Act of last Session. Let me say one other word as regards the Act of last Session. I agree with the honourable Member for East Somerset when he pointed out that one of the wants of education in our country districts is to get more co-operation between managers and teachers; and surely we may hope that, as these associations have worked well, and have tended to bring managers and authorities together, we may in the future get this co-operation between managers and teachers by means also of the associations which were so very much criticised by Members on the other side last Session. Let me deal next with the statistics as to the cost of education quoted by the Vice-President. The right honourable Gentleman gave the difference between the cost of education in London in Board and Voluntary schools, the former being £3 12s. and the latter £2 8s. I ask the Vice-President of the Council whether those figures were given independently of the new grant?
§ * MR. CRIPPS
I did not hear the right honourable Gentleman make that statement. I am not making the slightest accusation against the right honourable Gentleman. The difference—and it is an important matter—between the figures the Vice-President quoted is entirely represented by the difference between teachers' salaries. What, then, is the problem we have to deal with? It is to get some system—some method by which you can have in Board schools and Voluntary schools absolute equality of educational efficiency and absolute equality of teaching efficiency; I think these two terms are synonymous. That is really the problem to be solved if you are to maintain this Voluntary system side by side with the School Board system. The Vice-President of the Council seemed to think this could be done by getting a closer voluntary connection between the Voluntary schools and the ratepayer.
§ * SIR J. GORST
May I explain. What I said was that you should give the 672 ratepayers and the managers of schools power to come to terms with one another.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
The ratepayers and the managers of the Voluntary schools are brought together at present by the voluntary rate, and if anything like compulsion is adopted to raise additional funds in order that both Board and Voluntary schools may be treated on an equal basis, the Voluntary schools would before long cease to exist. The only way of providing further funds is from the national Exchequer. National education is an essentially national matter, and in the long run we shall have to look to the national Exchequer as the means of providing a national, efficient form or education in every parish and district throughout the country. That is the inevitable direction in which we are tending now, and if that is to be done for all schools, whether denominational or not, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, or Wesleyan, or of whatever denomination, the State ought to be in a position to guarantee to every school at the State expense the same adequate staff of teachers paid an adequate amount of salary, in order that all parts of the country may have an equally efficient education. That, to my mind, must be the end of this education difficulty. What do we do now? We lay down through our own Code a standard of education to which we ask every district in the country to attain: we lay it down as a national standard which we think is essential in order to produce good men and good citizens. The natural corollary is that the State must pay for it in the long run. It is bound to come, and that will be the basis on which we deal with denominational schools and all others in the country. It is the proper basis, and it puts the expense of education on the proper quarter. There is one other point to which I wish to refer. The Vice President of the Council spoke of the dislike of education which, he says, exists amongst squires and farmers, and he read from the Report of one of the inspectors. I do not believe that there is any of this antagonism among the country gentlemen or squires, and I think it is unfortunate that such a suggestion 673 should be made against a class of men who have made very great sacrifices and, almost by themselves, have tried to encourage education in some of these districts. However that may be, we must all recognise that it is important to get a good education in scattered country districts. I dispute absolutely the suggestion that squire or country gentleman or territorial landlord in this country is in any way opposed to education. On the contrary, I say that, within their own means and power, they have done all they could for education. I shall not deal with the questions of attendance and age, because these have been dealt with more than once. But let me say, conclusion, that secondary education is really the most vital and most important point. I was for many years chairman of the Technical Education Committee of my county council, and tried to organise a system of that kind in the county, which is chiefly an agricultural one. It was a most complex and difficult problem, and I am bound to admit that there was a great deal of waste and unnecessary expenditure. But if you once have an organised system of secondary education, particularly in the country districts, funds which are being wasted to a certain extent at the present moment may be utilised in the most favourable manner. I believe in what was said by the honourable Member who preceded me, that we ought to have a thoroughly organised system of secondary education, by which those who showed sufficient mental capacity may have the advantage of a university education. I am sorry to have detained the Committee so long, but, undoubtedly, to my mind, the future of this country is very much dependent on our educational system. I do not concur in the suggestion that we are worse off as regards our education than countries abroad. In some directions that is true, but not in all. But we ought to approach this question from one point of view only, and that is to establish throughout the length and breadth of this country such a system as not only satisfies the Education Department—it seems not to do so at the present time—but satisfies Parliament itself, and Parliament itself must be the national guardian of this great interest.
§ * MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
The honourable and learned Member for Stroud has pressed, with much ability, his own private views and conceptions against the facts so lucidly and powerfully stated to the Committee by the Vice-President of the Council of Education. But, Sir, one cannot overcome facts by the weapon of mere views and conceptions. It is possible to argue for a very long time in the abstract, but the unpleasant facts remain, and I may assure the honourable Member for Stroud that, as far as my own experience goes, the portrait of the Voluntary schools drawn by the Vice-President of the Council has not been painted in colours one whit too dark. I observed the effect which that portrait produced upon the opposite side of the House, and I venture to hope that after that statement, coming with so much lucidity, so much weight, and so much authority, from a man whose earnestness in the cause of education is acknowledged on all sides, and whose opportunities for ascertaining the facts have not been limited to the reports of his subordinates, but who has in personal ways acquainted himself with the system he has described to the House to-night—now that that portrait has been placed in view of the House, I do urge and hope that there may arise a greater degree of mutual agreement on both sides of the House with regard to doing something to improve the conditions of the Voluntary schools of this country. The honourable and learned Member for Stroud went so far as to say that the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Council were hardly those—I think he used the phrase—of a friend of the Voluntary schools. Sir, the Vice-President of the Council may be a candid friend, but in certain circumstances a candid friend is the best friend, and, so far as my experience goes, there has never been a better friend, in that sense of the term, to the Voluntary schools than the present Vice-President of the Council. I cannot dwell upon all the points voiced by the Vice-President: time will not permit; but I will dwell upon one or two of them only. A reference has been made by the honourable Member for Arfon to the quality of teachers in the Voluntary schools, and the honourable and learned Member for 675 Stroud concurred in the view that they required a greater degree of culture. Sir, I welcome every addition, to culture for teachers, both in elementary and secondary schools; but I think I must put in a word for the earnestness, the vigour, for the success, for the enthusiasm, with which the great bulk of the certified teachers in elementary schools have studied, and have taken all the advantages within their reach, and have conducted their special work. We have had to-night a very laudatory reference to the changes in the Code instituted some three or four years ago, which make the instruction in the schools at the present moment more intelligent and of more lasting effect than the instruction in those schools was for many a year before. The change has been due to whom? To the long-continued and persistent representations by the teachers themselves; and I will say this, that in enthusiasm for education, and in a proper ideal and knowledge of what constitutes education, and a desire to make themselves in every possible way more and more fitted for their work, the teachers of the public elementary schools have displayed quite as much of the results of culture as many of the teachers, more highly favoured at the outset in the secondary schools, have done. The Vice-President of the Council has drawn the attention of the Committee to a very serious anomaly—the falling off in the supply of pupil-teachers who are to become teachers in elementary schools. It is a fact that at the present time in more than one great school board in this country there are no male pupil-teachers available. There is an economical reason. The reason is this: the avocation is not sufficiently attractive to induce parents to place their boys in the profession. We have heard from my honourable Friend a Member for a division of London some remarks condemning very strongly the action of the London Diocesan Board of Education. That kind of thing affords one reason why parents will not apprentice their children to this profession of teaching. The irresponsible mismanagement of Voluntary schools by unchecked individual managers, clerical or lay, produces on the public mind, by the newspaper publicity that is now given to it—and, I 676 think, fortunately—the impression that to become a pupil-teacher is to become something which does not hold out a very comfortable prospect for the future. I admit that in many cases the governing bodies of Voluntary schools are devoting some of the grant, under the Act of last year given by this House, to increasing the salaries of teachers, but I have known many other cases where the money has passed into other channels. You have an uncertainty of tenure; you have almost the certainty, if you become a pupil teacher in Voluntary schools, and pass from one school to another, of experiencing somewhere in the course of your career that unreasonable, irresponsible, unchecked, and tyrannous exercise of mastery over the teacher by the manager which has been exposed again and again in this House by question, by speech, and by examples without number. You have the certainty of receiving a very inadequate amount of salary, and also the knowledge that there is no provision made by the State for your old age when worn out in the service you are able to work no longer. We had again and again last Session from the Government most satisfactory pledges and promises upon this question of super-annuation, and the teachers of the country are looking forward with hope, which has culminated in the present part of the present Session, for the introduction of that long-promised Bill which I hope the Vice-President of the Council may be able to announce to us as imminent, and about to be produced, before this Debate to-night closes. We have heard some remarks also with regard to attendance at schools, and I notice that the right honourable Gentleman the junior Member for Oxford University expressed the idea—an idea too common, but, I believe, unfounded—that the country was not ripe for more drastic legislation upon this point, because working-class parents who send their children to elementary schools are opposed to it. Well, if I go to the reports of the annual meetings of the Trades Union Congress, year after year I find that Congress, representing some millions of the artisans of this country, pronouncing in favour of 14 as the minimum age at which a child should be allowed 677 to leave school. If I go to a more militant body—an irreconcilable body some persons consider it to be—to the annual meeting of the Independent Labour Party. I find they declare year after year in favour of making the minimum leaving age higher. I know from my conversation with parents, from the speeches of representative working-men who attend educational meetings up and down the country, that they are ready to give their approval to a Bill brought forward by the Vice-President of the Council to raise the age of half-time and whole-time children, and they themselves would rejoice in more complete enforcement of the existing compulsory clauses. The difficulty is not with the working classes—with the poor people. There are a certain number of parents of the baser sort who are opposed to education; but those whose opinion is worth considering, those who send us here, are ready, I believe, now for more complete compulsion and for a higher leaving age than at present exists, and the blame is not to be laid at their door. We were told by the honourable and learned Member for Stroud that the country squire and magistrate are very earnest in their support of education. So far as I know the great difficulty in regard to enforcing the existing compulsory clauses is to be laid at the door of the country magistracy. The school boards of towns and boroughs do not find great difficulty in having persons whom they prosecute through their officers at the police courts convicted and fined, and made to pay the fine: but in the rural districts it is far too often the case that when the Board of Guardian's committee has been brought up to the point of prosecuting, and the parent is before the court, that parent is by the country magistrate, the Justice Shallow of the district, sent off with a paternal blessing or a mild reproof, or, at the most, fined a shilling or eighteenpence, and that sum is seldom recovered, and the parent goes away laughing in his sleeve. Until you have obtained two things in a greater degree than you have at present—a more regular attendance and a better teaching staff—you cannot hope for any improve- 678 ment in our system of public education; and until your system of elementary instruction has been placed on a better basis you cannot expect adequate results from secondary and technical education. It is a great pleasure to me to find myself in accord with the Vice-President of the Council, and to say nothing as to what he has said and done but in approval. But even Homer nods. Even the best of Vice-Presidents may be inconsistent, and I have a bone to pick with him upon this very question of secondary education. In commenting on his speech, which referred distinctly to secondary education, I hope I may be in order in calling his attention to what I conceive to be a great mistake made by him during the past twelve months with regard to the administration of secondary education under a branch of the Education Department. The right honourable Gentleman has approved in various parts of the country the creation of voluntary committees, which are to be the authority for secondary and technical instruction. He referred in his speech this evening to the fact that, in the absence of a proper scheme of secondary instruction, the school boards have themselves in many cases provided higher grade board schools. These schools are, in fact, secondary schools. They have provided such schools to the number of something like 60, and have provided for the lower middle classes and the working classes in our towns, where modern secondary schools did not exist, schools of an admirable type, comparable to those which obtain almost everywhere on the Continent, and they have done this with great efficiency and great enthusiasm. But, Sir, their enthusiasm has been checked of late by the action of the right honourable Gentleman. In a good many places it has been intimated to them indirectly that their functions in that respect are at an end, and that even in respect of what they have done all their achievements in this field in the past are not to be regarded as having won for them a proper claim to be represented in the organisations for the future. At Bradford the other day a committee, consisting of 30 members, was proposed, and of the 30 members, who were all 679 connected with education in one form or another, the school board was to have one member, and one member only, upon it. The Secondary Education Commission recommended that in these cases the school board, in respect of its special knowledge of the transition from elementary to secondary education, was to have one-half of the representation, and in the case of Bradford they have been offered one-thirtieth. At Burnley they have been offered one-sixth. I do not know under what authority that has been done. Public inquiries have been held by Commissioners sent down by the right honourable Gentleman without statutory authority—
Order, order! I think the matter the honourable Member is now dealing with is a matter which comes under the Science and Art Vote, and therefore would not be in order on this Vote.
§ * MR. YOXALL
May I ask if I should be in order in discussing on the Science and Art Vote the salary of the right honourable Gentleman? A reduction has been moved, and I thought I might be in order in discussing this question now.
So far as the right honourable Gentleman controls the Science and Art Department, of course his conduct is fit subject for discussion on that Vote, but it will not be in order upon this Vote to discuss the management of the Science and Art Department.
§ * MR. YOXALL
I bow to your ruling, of course, and will raise the matter on discussion of that Vote. But with regard to secondary education, distinctly referred to by the right honourable Gentleman, I want to say that, if you are to have by legislation or mutual agreement in the locality a proper system of secondary education, the elementary education authorities now in power must be recognised and not snubbed.
§ PROFESSOR JEBB (Cambridge University)
I wish just to say a few words on the subject already referred to this evening, first by the Vice-President of the 680 Council, and then by some other speakers—namely, the training of teachers. I should like to ask whether the right honourable Gentleman's attention has been drawn to the papers which contain that, valuable Report recently published by the Departmental Committee on the pupil-teacher system. It seems to me of great practical importance in reference to the supply of teachers, which, as we have heard his evening, is insufficient. The number of candidates who passed the Queen's Scholarship examination bears a ratio of about three to one to the vacant places in the training colleges. Now it is quite true that some of those who pass the Queen's Scholarship examination desire merely to qualify themselves. But it is also true that the great majority of them desire such a training as they would obtain in training colleges, and many candidates who stand pretty high on the list of the Queen's Scholarship examination are excluded simply by want of room from the colleges. Now many of those who are excluded in that way do get into the teaching profession by a side-door, through the certificated examination for acting teachers, but the preparation of those who do get in in that way has generally been of a character which we should consider inadequate—private study, evening classes at pupil-teachers' centres, and the like; and so many of those who most need training, and who are most likely to profit by it, never get it at all. That, I think, must be allowed to be a very serious defect in our present system. There is a great need for increased facilities, such as are afforded by training colleges. Some training colleges have been enlarged, and hostels have been added to some other training colleges; but what has been done in that way is very insufficient, and what I would like to press upon the Committee is that you cannot look for any large amount of increased aid in that direction from private effort or voluntary subscription. A great deal has been done in that way already by private enterprise. The Education Department, it seems to me, as the Departmental Committee reported, ought seriously to consider the importance of extending training college accommodation, both by enlarging exist- 681 ing colleges and by establishing new training colleges. The less advanced pupil teachers might, in many cases, with great advantage to themselves, before entering the regular courses of the training college receive a year of preparatory training in a hostel attached to the training college. Then, on the other hand, it would be a very good thing if people who have taken university degrees—who are graduates of some university—should be allowed to join training colleges for one year, and rank as third-year students. That year which they would pass in the training college would, of course, be devoted to professional study—that is to say, to qualifying themselves for the career of a teacher. The degree which such students would hold might be accepted as a guarantee that they had already received an education which made it unnecessary for them to pass the earlier stages of the ordinary normal students' teaching. Now, this would be a great advantage, not merely by giving training for a larger number of future teachers, but also by bringing recruits to the ranks of primary teachers from those who have received secondary education; and one of the most desirable objects, I think, at present is to bring primary and secondary teachers into nearer relations, and to import into the ranks of elementary teachers—some, at all events—as large a number as possible of those who have received this higher education. We know very well that some of the most eminent teachers on various subjects, who have under them staffs of teachers competent to impart the more elementary teaching in their respective subjects, prefer themselves to teach the beginners, and I think it ought to be borne in mind that a man who is going to be an elementary teacher cannot have too good an education. The better his previous education has been the more likely he is to have a real insight into the secrets of teaching, and to be able to communicate instruction to young and untrained minds. The day training colleges form a part of the training college system, to which, I think, we should look with hope. The day training colleges have proved accessible to a particularly valuable class of students—those who have been in connection with University College. The 682 day training colleges, as the Committee are aware, are a department of University College. Now, I think that circumstance has encouraged the belief that only exceptionally able candidates are fitted to profit by the discipline of the day training colleges. Experience seems already to have gone a long way towards refuting that belief. I think most competent observers will agree with me that a student of fair average ability, if he has had good preparation, is just as well fitted to profit by the discipline of the day training colleges as if he started from the beginning in a residential training college. At several day training colleges at Liverpool, Aberystwith, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bangor, and Manchester it either is the fact, or is intended to be the rule, that residential hostels in connection with the colleges shall be utilised in supplement of the ordinary arrangements of the day training colleges. Of course, it would be a matter of local arrangement whether these residential hostels in connection with day training colleges should be confined to students of the day training college or should be open to other students, also from the university colleges; but, at any rate, it seems clear that the day training college is likely to grow in usefulness. I would respectfully urge upon the Vice-President of the Council the fact, to which I am sure he is already fully alive, that among the most urgent duties of the Education Department at present is to extend the accommodation of the training colleges and to consider what can be done in the way of developing them.
§ * MR. WOODALL
The Committee will, I hope, excuse me if I refer to the very interesting and ingenious speech of the honourable and learned Member for Stroud. I desire to agree with him in his statement that the speech of the Vice-President of the Council was a scathing indictment of the Voluntary schools, where those schools come into effective competition with the Board schools; and the whole statement of the right honourable Gentleman brings home to us, as the discussions upon these occasions continually do, how very much we have failed in England in establishing a system worthy of being called 683 national, by the tenderness with which we have adjusted our system, out of regard for these schools established on sectarian principles. The honourable and learned Gentleman challenged some of the points of comparison which the right honourable Gentleman submitted to our consideration, and which I think must have made a very great impression upon the Committee; the comparative statements made by the right honourable Gentleman in regard to the competition for scholarships and prizes offered by county councils, for which scholars from the Board schools and Voluntary schools competed on what are admitted to be perfectly equal terms. It was perfectly startling to see how small were the number of scholars from the Voluntary schools who entered, and how very much smaller still was the proportion who succeeded in that competition. It is all very well for my honourable and learned Friend to raise a general objection to competitive examinations. When scholars are sent into competition for those examinations it is a little late to urge objections of the kind which he mentioned. Then let us bring the test, the very familiar test, of the proportionate grant earned by the children in the denominational schools compared with that earned by the children in the Board schools in Wales. For the moment it would appear as if the children were almost on a par; but the comparative figures of England and Wales show how the superior treatment, the better teaching, and the more excellent equipment of the Board schools result in giving a more efficient education. On the other hand, let us follow the reports of the inspectors as to the sanitary condition of these schools, as to the general manner in which the work is being done; and, above all, when we compare the figures of the relative cost of teaching, let us remember, what is practically admitted by one of the speakers, that the main saving, the difference of cost per pupil in the denominational schools as compared with the Board schools, is found to be the difference in the remuneration of the teachers. Well, now. Sir. I hope the Committee will take to heart what the right honourable 684 Gentleman has said, and not for the first time, with regard to the treatment of pupil teachers. He has impressed them with very graphic descriptions which are literally true of the physical and intellectual calibre of these teachers. Let it be remembered that the pupil teacher exists, and exists in England, almost alone, and that he is tolerated only out of deference for the poverty and the necessities of Voluntary schools. My honourable and learned Friend pleaded for a system which would ensure equality of teachers and of methods under which the work would be done in all elementary schools. Well, the House has been asked by Her Majesty's Government, and, as far as we are concerned, has, so far as the grant is concerned, willingly conceded, a further aid for Voluntary schools. It is perfectly true that we desire to have some assurance given that the money so generously granted by Parliament will be employed for the purpose of improving the education in those schools. But we had it on the authority of the Vice-President of the Council that money granted for the purpose of improving the school, and increasing the staff, and adding to the remuneration of the teachers has gone to a considerable extent in aid of the subscribers. What we apprehended and what we warned the House of at the time has occurred—the voluntary subscriptions to denominational schools have fallen off, not increased. Well, now, Sir, we are told, and we have been told, with very great weight and authority, by the Vice-President of the Council, that it is idle for us to hope to put ourselves upon, a par with continental countries with regard to technical and secondary education until we have corrected these grievous drawbacks which attach to our elementary system. I have been called upon to examine and report now for many years past in regard to continental systems of secondary and technical education, and I entirely concur, very reluctantly, I admit, with what the right honourable Gentleman said. We all look forward with much hope and expectancy to the promise that the Duke of Devonshire will shortly submit, in another place, the Government scheme for bringing out of chaos a system of secondary education such as the country so 685 much needs. But it is lamentable to think that, however well this system may be devised and ordered, until the glaring defects which the right honourable Gentleman hag called attention to so frequently are remedied we cannot hope to have efficiency. I am afraid also I must say—and here again I am only echoing what the Vice-President has assured tile House—that it is impossible for us to hope for any reform worthy of the name from the present Government.
§ * MR. GRAY (West Ham, N.)
If the Vice - President of the Council had chosen to follow the example set by his predecessors in office, in introducing the Estimates he would have found sufficient material in the statistical returns of his Department for the year to have placed before the House a very rosy picture of education as it exists in England to-day. I am and have been familiar with the work in his Department for years past, and I am bound to say I know of no year when greater progress has been made in national education in the national schools and in the Department itself. The Vice-President might very easily have taken the usual line taken by his predecessors, and made it appear that he and his colleagues were doing admirable work in the Department, and that the schools were progressing satisfactorily. Had he done so he would have failed to do any real good to the country, or any real good to the schools. I for one am delighted that the Vice-President has departed from the usual stereotyped plan in introducing Estimates, that he has not given to the House a réchauffé of the statistics of the year, but that he has given the House something like a clear insight into the condition of national education in the country, I listened with amazement to the speech delivered by the honourable Member for Stroud, but the first half entirely destroyed the last. The whole of the latter part of the speech was a claim for further financial assistance for Voluntary schools—a claim which he could not justify if you take the first half of his speech, because he there demonstrated, at all events to his own satisfaction, that there was very little difference between 686 the condition of Voluntary and Board schools, even in large towns like London. He produced some few statistics, and he very lively challenged the statements made by the Vice-President. His effort was to show that the two classes of schools, even m our large towns, were on about the same level of efficiency. If that is the case, there is no need for further legislation—there is no need for further financial assistance. The honourable Member, in fact, proved too much in the first half of his statement. I cannot help feeling that the same mistake is being constantly made by the friends of Voluntary schools throughout the country. They will not admit the defects and deficiencies which exist in them, and until they do so they can never justify any claim upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or upon the local ratepayer, for more funds to put the schools in a better position. It appears to me that the only honest as well as the only politic plan is to admit that there are many deficiencies which need more money to make good. While I cordially agree with every word the Vice-President has said, I know he will lay himself open to enormous criticism throughout the country, partly on the line that has already been suggested here this evening—that he did not go in detail into the remedies. But were not the remedies obvious? Was it not patent to everyone that many of the difficulties to which he referred could not be remedied without further legislation? It would have been stupid to imagine that at this late period of the Session the House could undertake a further Education Bill. Public opinion must force either this Government or the one that follows it to introduce an Education Bill, and not merely a Voluntary Schools Improvement Bill, such as we had a year ago. The fact is you will not deal with this question of attendance, this question of training of teachers, of the management of schools, without further legislation. I quite agree with him that the country is, perhaps, not yet ripe for a really sound Education Bill; but I do say this, that, if it be not yet ripe, it is very rapidly ripening, and in a few short years will demand, with no uncertain voice, a Ministry, this or some other, 687 which will take up the question with courage, and place before the country a scheme by which we shall get rid once and for all of these senseless squabblings between Board and Voluntary schools, these unreal religious discussions, this perpetual waste of time over religious difficulties which do not exist; and I hope we shall abandon for ever the idea that the defects existing in our elementary school system are due entirely to the tenderness—as, I think, the last speaker put it—the tenderness with which we have treated the Voluntary schools. Does he know anything of rural education? I know he does. Then he knows, but forgets for the moment, the tenderness with which the State has treated many of these school boards. I do not wish a false impression to go out to the country from the Debate to-night. The Vice-President found it necessary to criticise many of the defects existing in our Voluntary schools. There is not a single word which he uttered which he might not have uttered with equal force with regard to many Board schools in the country. The Voluntary schools have been treated with some tenderness, but equal tenderness has been meted out to many of the small school boards, who, it is notorious, have often been elected to evade their duties under the Education Acts rather than to discharge them. The Vice-President was perfectly accurate in saying that it was not merely an extension of area, and the election of an authority constituted of men of a higher character and of a loftier conception of their duty, that is wanted to direct the schools before you have anything like a remedy. I quite agree with him that the initial difficulty is irregularity of attendance. It is not much use constructing good buildings and spending large sums of money unless you have regular attendance. Talk about compulsory education in England! Why, it has been a failure for the last 25 years. It is a condition that no German, Frenchman, Belgian, or Swiss can possibly understand. The right honourable Gentleman gave us an instance of the parent of a child who had been fined pretty nearly every month for the last 18 months, and every quarter for the last three or four years. And 688 what has happened? The parent has, I suppose, during the last 18 months regularly gone to the court every fourth week and paid the five-shilling or half-crown fine, as the case might be, and during the remaining three weeks the child has earned that money four or five times over. And, as long as children can earn money in that proportion, parents will pay with readiness these small fines, and continue to defy the law by sending their children to work. The consequence will be that in a few years these very boys and girls will occupy our prison cells and convict establishments. It is demonstrable beyond any doubt whatever—our criminal statistics for the year show it perfectly plainly—that the majority of the prisoners in our convict establishments under the age of 40 are those who have not come into contact with the School-board system or the Voluntary system, and they are nearly all illiterates. They are the persons who have escaped the educational machinery, and no one can estimate the amount of the loss which is being inflicted on the country by those children who are absent day after day from school. It is not merely the danger caused to the child and to society at the present moment, not merely the injury that is done to the other children attending school at the present time; there is the future loss to the nation, when these children have to be maintained at the cost of the State as criminals in our convict establishments. And why do we deal so tenderly with these parents? This irregularity of attendance is limited to less than 20 per cent. of the school population—for those who do go to school go to school regularly, and those who stay away stay away with persistent regularity—and you have the bulk of the public with you in any attempt which is made to amend the law. Now, turning to the practice which prevails in other countries in Europe, we do not find that they show this tenderness towards these educational pests. Take France, for example. Directly a child has been absent four half-days in a month, he is summoned before his local school authority; on the second summons he is fined; on the third he may be fined to the extent of £2—not a paltry, miserable half-crown—and if the 689 offence is repeated the father of the child can be sent to prison for five days, without the option of any further fine. They consequently secure something like regularity of attendance. In Paris the average attendance for boys is 96 per cent., and for girls 95. In England, the best average we can get is 82 for the whole of the country. Then turn to Geneva. What is the practice there? A warning from the school authority, a fine, a second fine, and if the offence be repeated they can expel the family, if foreigners, from the Commune. They are determined not to have their own Swiss children's future ruined by the retention on the school register of children who will not attend. In Belgium they only register the children absent; they do not trouble to register the children who are present day after day. Therefore, it is the common rule for them to be present, and a most unusual thing for them to be absent, I will not further touch upon the desirability of raising the age at which children should be exempt from school. If the Vice-President did not elaborate a remedy he suggested one without any doubt whatever. I trust before long the House of Commons will have the courage—and that the present Government will have the courage—to take up the question and amend the law in this respect. The Education Department have done very much during the last few years to rationalise the system of education in our public elementary schools. We have, however, been throwing our money away very freely indeed. For 25 years we have been throwing money away in securing results which were barely worth the paper on which they were written, in pulling up the plant by the roots annually—or even more frequently—to see how it was growing, and never giving the children time to develope or the teachers or managers time to put in force the best systems of education. Much has been done by the Education Department during the last two or three years to remedy that state of affairs. But, Mr. Lowther, we still have the old 690 idol set up before the managers, teachers, and children, not for the sake of the training of the child, but for the sake of the money which can be made out of it. And the effort to secure Government grants has vitiated the whole system of education throughout the country. Probably the Committee is not aware of the way in which these grants are distributed annually. There is a grant of 12s. 6d. or 14s. per child for general knowledge; then another 1s. or 1s. 6d. per child for discipline; another 1s. or 6d. for singing; 2s. for grammar; 2s. for geography or for English literature; then a few more shillings for some one specific subject; and a few more shillings for another. And what is the result? Those schools which have been inefficiently equipped, which have not a proper stuff of teachers, are taking up a number of subjects and not doing any well. They are taking up that large number of subjects in order to secure the grants which were attached to them at the close of the year. I do most earnestly venture to suggest to the Vice-President that he should make some effort during the current year, if not to secure for the schools one fixed capitation grant, when a fair average of efficiency is secured, that he will at least try to lump the grant into two blocks, one for the ordinary three R's, and one for the remaining subjects. No one knows except those who are thoroughly familiar with our school work the mischief caused through the unsound system of striving for grants. The managers are compelled to labour for the grants, knowing that the continuance of their schools must depend upon them. I am anxious that every school which is being conducted efficiently may know beforehand the amount of State grant it is likely to receive, and may be able to devote its best energies to the development of the intelligence of the children; to the training of their powers of observation, and to the higher development of their moral character; and that they should not be compelled to take up this, that, and the other subject which will never be an atom of use to the children, and which will be forgotten immediately examination 691 day is over, and which has been only taken up because a Government grant is attached to it. We ought to get rid of this absurd system of paying for results which are worthless and for instruction which the child forgets immediately it goes out of school. Who ever heard of this system of results prevailing in any secondary school? I doubt whether any honourable Member in this House was taught in a school where the same system prevailed. Very few indeed would submit to the injurious system which we have inflicted upon our elementary schools. Those who advocate the system never administer it to their own children. They send them into schools where elasticity and modification of curriculum can be adopted by the teachers to suit the capacity and the needs of the children. With us at home it is the earning of money which is the end of our existence in our public elementary schools, and I repeat with emphasis that it has vitiated our work, destroyed all that is best in school life, and spoiled the very best efforts of the teachers. Mr. Lowther, I am hopeful that the very remarkable speech made by the Vice-President this evening will rouse the country to a true sense of our real position. It is useless to talk of introducing a Secondary Education Bill, or of basing secondary education upon such a rotten foundation as that now prevailing in our Voluntary schools. The honourable Member who addressed the Committee last referred to the fact that he has from time to time inspected continental schools; he might with equal truth have mentioned that he has from time to time, with some of his colleagues, presented Reports of very great value to the country upon the condition of education in those schools. I would refer him, and I would venture to refer the Committee, to another Report which ought to be read by everybody who is interested in the commercial life of the country—the Report of the Manchester Committee on the condition of education and commerce in Germany. That Report is a lesson so startling that I am even tempted to believe that some of those Gentlemen whose educational speeches have consisted, in the past, entirely of this so-called religious difficulty, may even 692 be attempted to abandon it, and find good material for educational speeches in the pages of this Report. Here we find the members of this committee, consisting of aldermen of Manchester, as well as of Manchester working men, visiting together the best commercial centres in Austria and Germany, and some of them visiting at the same time commercial schools and primary schools, and they come back with the unanimous report that the marvellous progress which has been made in the industries of Germany during the last few years is almost entirely due to the superior efficiency of education in those countries—not merely due to the education given in the technical institutes—and this is the point I want to emphasise—but due to the superior efficiency of the education given in the primary schools. May I read some three or four lines from the Report?—Not less surprising was it to find that the quality of the general education possessed by the students attending these special schools was exceptionally high. Of those in attendance at the Berlin Municipal Higher Weaving School 95 per cent. possessed the leaving certificate of the first class of the Real Schule, which ranks with the best class of our secondary schools and gives the holder the privilege of only one year's military service, reducing it to one-half.But this is the line I want the Committee to notice—There is no entrance examination for evening students, but the excellent system of instruction in the public schools, continued until 14 years of age, ensures educational attainment equal to the standard required before entering upon courses of scientific and technical instruction.There lies the whole secret of the superior progress made during the last few years by the German manufacturer and by the German artisan; it lies in the fact that artisans are receiving in the primary schools a sound education, designed to equip them for their life's work, and not designed, as I submit is the case in England, for the mere purpose of earning a few shillings of the Government grant. If this has been the effect of the existing system at home, I hope the country will insist that it shall be stopped, and that both sides of the House will combine in the effort to frame some really satisfactory educational Measure.
§ * SIR J. GORST
Honourable Members on both sides of the House have complained that, while I have stated the obstacles to improved legislation, I have failed altogether to suggest the remedies. I am very much disappointed if that is the view of the Committee, because I thought I had, in the speech I made, very sufficiently indicated what those remedies were. To some of the obstacles the remedies were quite obvious; to others the remedies had been already suggested in the Government Bill of 1896. In other cases I specifically suggested the remedies myself, and I think in one only was there no suggestion made. That was the obstacle of the insufficient supply of teachers. Upon that subject I entirely agree with what was said by my honourable colleague, the senior Member for Cambridge University. I think it is urgently necessary that some addition should be made to the training college accommodation of the country, and I think that remedy should be sought in the development of day training colleges. But, inasmuch as that is a matter that would involve some expenditure of public money, I did not think I could suggest the particular direction in which that reform should proceed without the consent or concurrence of my right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was on that ground that I refrained from pointing out what I thought would have been obvious to the Committee—the remedy for the insufficient supply of teachers. A good many speakers on both sides of the House have been anxious to hear the result of the Education Act of last Session. My honourable Friend the Member for Poplar asked me a number of questions which have already been asked in this House, and to which replies have already been given, and he did not seem to be aware that a Return had been ordered, which is now being prepared, which will contain all the information—and I think more than the information—which he asked for. But the general, opinion of the Education Department of the Voluntary Schools Act of last Session is that it is 694 really at present too early to adequately estimate the results which will flow from that Act. The Committee will remember that when the Act was passed a great deal had to be done before it was possible to distribute the money to the different schools, and, although that was done with very great zeal and diligence, it was quite impossible, on the first occasion such a scheme was put into operation, that it could be adequately carried out in a manner I have no doubt it will be when both the associations and the Department have had more experience in the matter. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouthshire asked me a specific question as to how the Department were dealing with schools in which the subscriptions had fallen off. I can assure him that these subscriptions are most carefully watched, that warning circulars have been already addressed to the associations, and that in any case in which there is a serious falling off in the subscriptions the association will be warned with reference to the school in which that takes place. Although I do not know whether the Department will be able to prevent the falling off of subscriptions in every case, I can assure the right honourable Gentleman that the very best exertions will be used by the Department at all events to protest, to expostulate, and to do everything it can to prevent that falling off. But the most extraordinary complaint made in reference to the Education Act of last Session was made by my honourable and learned Friend the Member for the Stroud Division of Gloucestershire. He complained that I had not read to the Committee what he called a Report on the working of that Act. I was astonished, for I had never heard that any Report had been made to the Department as to the working of the Act, but it turned out that what he complained of was that I had not read to the Committee a circular which I now hold in my hand. It was a circular addressed by the Secretary of the Department to the Association of Voluntary Schools, and it began, it is 695 true, with a eulogistic paragraph, which the honourable Member read. But he did not tell the Committee that the out-side paragraph, with which I think the Secretary very judiciously began, was followed by a number of other paragraphs in which the past action of the association was criticised, and in which warning and advice were given as to the way in which they should carry out their functions for the future. I cannot lay any blame to myself for not reading that paragraph as to the opinion of the Department on the working of the Voluntary Schools Act. Then, another point I have to meet is this: the honourable Member for the Stroud Division of Gloucestershire appeared extremely anxious to make out that I had made what he was pleased to call a scathing attack on the Voluntary school system. Nothing was further from my intention. In the first place, what I said applied, not, as he seemed to think, to Voluntary schools in general, but to Voluntary schools in the great cities. I have very often said in this House that, in my opinion, the Voluntary schools in the country districts are very much better than the Board schools. It is only in the great towns that this deficiency takes place: and, so far from making any scathing attack on the Voluntary schools, I prefaced my remarks by saying that no fault lay with the managers of the Voluntary schools. If I made any scathing attack at all, I made an attack on the system which expects the managers of Voluntary schools with inadequate funds to have as good and efficient schools as the School Board managers, with their unlimited command of funds. There is no use in pretending that Voluntary schools, in towns where they are in competition with Board schools, can be made as efficient as Board schools with their present means. Then the honourable Member for the Stroud Division was dissatisfied with my test of scholarship examinations, which I thought a very fair test, and a striking one. But the figures which he brought forward were 696 entirely fallacious, because his figures applied, not to the Board and Voluntary schools in great towns, but to the schools all over the country. He said justly enough that when you take them in the lump the inferiority in earning the grant by Voluntary schools is not so great. If however, he had taken the trouble to distinguish between country districts, as far as you can distinguish them, and the towns, the contention is borne out that I have always presented to the House. In the English counties—a return which is vitiated by the inclusion of London—the earnings of the Voluntary schools are 19s. 2½d. and those of the Board schools 19s. 7d. In the Welsh counties, which are almost purely rural, the earnings of the Voluntary schools are 19s. 2¼d. and those of the Board schools 19s. 4¾d. In the county boroughs of England, to which I was referring, you will find that, whereas the earnings of the Voluntary schools are 19s. 1½d., the earnings of the Board schools are £1 0s. 5d.—a very substantial difference, sufficient to show that it is impossible that the teaching in the one can be as efficient as in the other. I therefore think that the Committee will acquit me of having made any sort of "scathing attack" on the Voluntary school system. I think it will admit that it is the wisest and the best thing for the Voluntary schools in the towns that the truth should be told about them, in order that they may be made efficient, and that you cannot have a worse enemy of the Voluntary schools than the man who goes about pretending that they are what they are not, and pretending that they are able to give as good a secular education as the Board schools give when they cannot do it until they sire provided with adequate funds. Now, I should like to answer the specific questions that have been put to me. One honourable Member called attention to a new article in the Code which has been issued about the audit, in which it is provided that—On special application to the Department some other person than the manager or 697 treasurer of the school, whose competency is proved to the satisfaction of the Department, may audit the accounts.That is an addition which has been made to the audit article as the result of experience. There proved to be some rural schools in remote districts where it could not be absolutely said that it was impossible to get an accountant or a banker—one could nave boon got if proper expense had been incurred, but it would have been very inconvenient and unnecessary to burden the accounts of a very small school with an audit of that kind. Therefore, this provision was put in to enable the Department to allow the audit to be conducted by some person who was not a professional accountant, but who was conversant with figures and who could audit at much less expense. As to the question which has been put to me by the honourable Member for Poplar, he will find the answer in the Return which I hope will be shortly laid on the Table of the House. The honourable Member for the Mansfield Division and the honourable Member for Northamptonshire attacked the Department for not being fair as between the Board system and the Voluntary system. Personally, I have always endeavoured to be scrupulously fair on this subject since I have had the honour of holding the office I do. The principle upon which the Department proceeds is that they allow a Board school or Voluntary school according to the will of the ratepayers of the district, when, in their opinion, that will has been properly and fairly expressed without mistake or misapprehension. In the particular case of Burley-in-Wharfedale, the instance referred to by the honourable Member for the Mansfield Division, the Department were of opinion that the ratepayers had acted under the idea that if they had adopted a school board they would be enabled to have a Board school; but there turned out to be already sufficient school accommodation. But another resolution may be passed by the ratepayers, and if complete proof is furnished that the rate- 698 payers do desire a Board school the Department will see that one is set up. As to the instance of the Barry Docks, there is no case there or Board school against Voluntary school at all. Barry Docks is a district in Wales which has rapidly grown up and in which there is a large labouring population. There has been a Roman Catholic school which has for many years educationally served the children of the labourers, and yet which has never hitherto been put on the annual grant list. We now, however, think that the time has come when the Roman Catholic school should be put in receipt of the annual grant. In the ease referred to by the honourable Member for Northamptonshire, it is quite clear that there cannot have been any misconduct on the part of the Department. My predecessor, Mr. Acland—whose absence nobody regrets more than I do—I feel certain also refused to allow a school to be built either by school board or voluntary managers.
§ * MR. CHANNING
May I remind the right honourable Gentleman that Mr. Acland distinctly gave permission to supply any deficiencies?
§ * SIR J. GORST
But there is no deficiency; the existing accommodation is quite adequate. Then the honourable Member for Northamptonshire also asked me about the special aid grant, why ecclesiastical areas have been created. The honourable Member must ask that question not of me, or of the Department, but of the National Society, the Wesleyans, the British, school authorities, and the Roman Catholic bishops. As I explained to the House last Session, the Act does not give the Education Department power to prescribe areas. All it does is to enable them, when areas are created and associations formed, to get into communication with those associations. The ecclesiastical areas were the choice of the managers of schools and not the choice of the Department. There are three cases, I think, where the areas are not ecclesiastical. The county of Dorset, the county of Berkshire, and the 699 Scilly Islands have got their civil associations. I expressed my personal preference in this House for civil associations, and I certainly am not to blame for the associations being ecclesiastical. As regards the suggestion of coercion, I may point out that every school manager is at liberty to join any association he likes. The only restriction in the Act itself is that, if a school will not join in an association at all, it is liable to be refused the grant. The question has arisen, but the cases in which the grant has been refused have been extremely few.
§ * SIR J. GORST
I do not think the Church schools in the old days joined any associations. Then my honourable Friend the Member for East Islington asked me a question as to the action of the London Diocesan Board. We deal with the London Diocesan Board in two capacities—one as an association of the Voluntary schools of London, and the other as the managers of a certain number of Voluntary schools. In the latter case, when they are acting as manager of schools, we have no power over them. Take, for instance, the case of St. Paul's School: if the board, acting as managers, dismiss a teacher, we have no power to interfere. According to the present law the Education Department has no power to deal with the London Diocesan Board, or any similar body, acting in the capacity of managers. I think now I have answered all the questions that were put to me, and I have only to thank the Committee for the way in which these Estimates have been received. Criticism of course there has been, but on the whole it has been favourable, and there has been an absence of that heat which sometimes has characterised Debates on educational matters. I hope the Committee will not allow the Vote to be taken.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I regret that I cannot respond to the last appeal of the right honourable Gentleman. These are probably one of the most important groups of Estimates of the year, and I hope this year they may be adequately discussed, as they certainly have not been in the last two or three years. One very significant fact of this Debate is that those honourable Members who are best entitled by their experience to be called educational experts have agreed in denouncing the present system of primary education in this country; and yet that is the system under which the majority of our children are taught in the Voluntary schools, and under which the majority of our teachers are trained in colleges under denominational control; and it is hardly denied that the defects are to a very large extent inherent in the system itself. The honourable and learned Member for Stroud, in the very remarkable speech which he contributed to this Debate, defended the Voluntary school system. First of all, he was anxious to establish that the Voluntary school system produced as good results as the Board school system, but the honourable and learned Member was inconsistent, because at the conclusion of his speech he asserted that, to make the two systems equal, it was necessary to equalise the financial position of the one and the other. Now, we are perfectly willing to accept that position, on one condition. If every man is to contribute towards the support of Voluntary schools, every man ought to have a voice in their control. I should like to ask the honourable and learned Member whether he is prepared to accept that condition. As I pointed out to the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council earlier in the evening, there is no question that the funds that have been placed at the disposal of the Education Department by Parliament, as administered by the Department, have only aggravated the position. For instance, it would be illegal to apply any portion of the grant to building, 701 but the Act is evaded in this way: companies or syndicates are formed for the purpose of building schools, and the company makes an arrangement with the school managers of the district for the payment of a sum in perpetuity equivalent to a sum of four or five per cent. on the capital invested in the schools. This has actually happened in the case of Eastbourne. A company has been formed for the purpose of building a new Church of England school there. One of the members of that company is the President of the Council, the Duke of Devonshire. The prospectus sets out that the company has come to an arrangement with the Voluntary school managers to have a sum set aside to provide for the payment in perpetuity of five per cent. on the capital.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Four or five per cent. I say that that is for all practical purposes equivalent to paying a building grant out of the money voted by Parliament for the purpose of raising the efficiency of Voluntary schools. I propose to bring that particular case before the Committee later on upon the Vote for the salary of the President of the Council—a Vote I shall certainly move to reduce. Another case I want to mention is that of a school at Preston. The income of that school is £2,743. Of this, only £1,407 was spent on the teaching staff, but amongst the other items of expenditure I find rent and ground rent £763. I say that here again, in sanctioning that expenditure out of the special aid grant, the Education Department are tolerating a gross evasion of the Act. The honourable Member for Stroud had a good word to say for the Welsh school boards, but the reason why they appear in the returns to be one penny per head better than the Voluntary schools is explained in a private report made by the Archdeacon of Monmouth to the National Society. That report stated that the similar instruction in many of the Voluntary 702 schools was weak, and when the inquiry was made why that should be tolerated, the answer was that they had a considerate inspector in that district, but the same inspector showed no mercy at all to the smaller school boards. The honourable Member referred also to the case of Birmingham; I venture to ask him to compare that with the case of Liverpool. Birmingham is a school board area, but in Liverpool you have a vast number of children attending Voluntary schools; it is pre-eminently a Voluntary school district; and yet, what do you find? Crime is far greater in Liverpool than in Birmingham, in proportion to the population. Then, the First Lord of the Treasury, in the course of his speech, challenged the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition, that Nonconformists were practically excluded from entering the teaching profession in denominational schools. I ask the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord whether he is prepared to grant a Return with regard to the teachers in these Voluntary schools. The Leader of the Opposition made a statement in which he was supported by many Members on this side of the House, and the Leader of the House denies it. Will the right honourable Gentleman grant a Return which will establish the fact one way or the other?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I have already stated that I am quite willing to meet my right honourable Friend. If the honourable Member will put a Question on the Paper I shall be very glad to answer him.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
After that I will not pursue the matter further now. But, Sir, this is felt by us very keenly as a great grievance, and on the admission of the right honourable Gentleman himself—
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 49.—(Division List No. 142.)703
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Holburn, J. G.||Roberts, John H. (Denbigns.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Holden, Sir Angus||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Horniman, Frederick John||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Brigg, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Colville, John||Lloyd-George, David||Ure, Alexander|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||McEwan, William||Wilson John (Govan)|
|Duckworth, James||McKenna, Reginald||Woodall, William|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Maddison, Fred.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Paulton, James Mellor||Mr. Channing and Mr. William Jones.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, J. A. (Northumb'land)|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Fisher, William Hayes||Move, Robert Jasper|
|Arnold, Alfred||FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Morgan, H. F. (Monm'thshire)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J. (Manc'r)||Garfit, William||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Gedge, Sydney||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gilliat, John Saunders||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Staflord|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Penn, John|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H.(Brist'l)||Greville, Captain||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gunter, Colonel||Purvis, Robert|
|Bond, Edward||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hardy, Laurence||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Burdett-Coutts), W.||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Robinson, Brooke|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hill, Rt. Hon. Lord A. (Down)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh||Hill, Sir E. Stock (Bristol)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Howell, William Tudor||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Stock, James Henry|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Clarke, Sir Edward (Plym.)||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Talbot, Rt Hn. J.G.(Oxf'dUny.)|
|Cochrane. Hon. T. H. A. E.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kemp, George||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Collings, Rt. Hon Jesse||Kenyon, James||Tomlinson, W. Edw. Murray|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lockwood, Lt. -Col. A. R.||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Daly, James||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'r. N.)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Wodehouse, Edmd. R. (Bath)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lorne, Marquess of||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Doogan, P. C.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Younger, William|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macaleese, Daniel||Wyndham-Quin, Maj. W. H.|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Maclure, Sir John William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r)||McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs)|
|Finch, George H.||McCalmont, Mj. -Gn. (Ant'm N.)|
Question put accordingly—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Vice-President.
§ The Committee divided:—Ares 43; Noes 137.—(Division List No.143.)707
§ Original Questions put.
§ It being after midnight, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.708
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 138; Noes 41.—(Division List No. 144.)707
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Finch, George H.||McCalmont, Mj-Gn. (Ant'm, N.)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Arnold, Alfred||Fisher, William Hayes||More, Robert Jasper|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||FitzWygram, Gen. Sir F.||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch.)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Newdigate, Francis Alex.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Garfit, William||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gedge, Sydney||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gilliat, John Saunders||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Penn, John|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H.(Brist'l)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Greville, Captain||Powell, Sir Francis Sham|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Bond, Edward||Gunter, Colonel||Purvis, Robert|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hardy, Laurence||Robinson, Brooke|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh||Hatch. Ernest Frederick G.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Howell, William Tudor||Stock, James Henry|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Clarke, Sir E. (Plymouth)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'dUny)|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kemp, George||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kenyon, James||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Cornw'l)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon.|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Daly, James||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Wilson, J. W. (Worc., N.)|
|Digby, J. K. D. Wingfield-||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lorne, Marquess of||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Wyndham-Quin, Maj. W. H.|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Macaleese, Daniel||Younger, William|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)||McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs)|
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Holburn, J. G.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Holden, Sir Angus||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Horniman, Frederick John||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Shaw, Thos. (Hawick B.)|
|Caldwell, James||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Colville, John||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lewis, John Herbert||Ure, Alexander|
|Davies, M. V. (Cardigan)||Lloyd-George, David||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Doogan, P. C.||McEwan, William||Woodall, William|
|Duckworth, James||McKenna, Reginald|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Maddison, Fred.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Brigg and Mr. Nussey.|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, J. A. (Northumb.)|
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.
§ House adjourned at 12.30.