Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £5,153,986, 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 1900, for Public Education in England and Wales, including Salaries and Expenses of the Education Office in London, etc.
§ THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL ON EDUCATION (Sir J. GORST, Cambridge University)
The amount of the Education Estimate this year is£8,753,986, which is an increase of £186,240 over the. Estimate of last year, but this increase has arisen from purely automatic causes. When I moved the Education Vote last year I thought it was my duty to place before the Committee of Supply the 831 obstacles which prevented the money from obtaining the objects which the Committee had in view, and which in fact caused a considerable part of it to be wasted. I do not think there is any necessity for me to repeat those statements on the present occasion. One statement of minor importance which was erroneously attributed to me, but which I did not in fact make, gave rise to a good deal of controversy, but all the more important statements I made were neither contradicted nor controverted, and I believe they sank deeply into the mind of the public. There has been during the past year a very satisfactory progress of public opinion on the subject of education. The first and greatest obstacle which I mentioned last year was the early age at which children left school. This is the first reform necessary, for without it all other reforms in the education of the people will be nugatory. During the present Session a Bill has been introduced in. this House for the purpose of making a moderate and valuable improvement in this direction. That Bill passed its Second Reading by a majority of more than 5 to 1, and the supporters of Her Majesty's Government who voted in favour of the Bill were as 3 to 1 as compared with those who voted against it. I am told by persons who have analysed the Division lists that there were 12 Members in the majority who represent Lancashire constituencies and 60—more than the whole of those who voted against it—who represent distinctly agricultural constituencies. A good many people hoped and were inclined to believe that the progress of education and the greater value which parents were disposed to attach, to the education of their children might of itself cause a considerable increase in the number of children attending school after the compulsory age had been passed, but I am sorry to say that that supposition is not borne out by facts. Although the actual number of children in the elementary schools has increased, the relative number remains absolutely stationary. I find, for instance, comparing 1895 and 1898, that in both those years 24 per cent. of the children on the books of the schools were over 11; 13.6 per cent. were over 12; 4.7 per cent. over 13, and 1 per cent. over 14 years of age—exactly the same percentage in each year. As to the 832 matter of irregularity of attendance, that is much more a local than an Imperial question. I do not mean to say that the law by which the attendance of children at school is endeavoured to be secured is an, absolutely perfect one. I have no doubt it permits of amendment, but it would be of very little use to amend the law unless the local authorities and local opinion would sanction its being put into force. Last year I cited a considerable number of cases in both urban and rural constituencies in which, with the present law, a very satisfactory amount of attendance had been secured. During the past year the subject has been repeatedly discussed by the great school boards, attendance committees, and county councils, and other persons connected with education, and, although the discussions were too late to have much influence on the figures of the year to which I refer—1898—I should be extremely disappointed and very much surprised if, when the figures of 1899 are made up, there does not prove to have been a very great advance made by the energy and attention of these local authorities in securing a better attendance of children at school. As it is, so far as I can see, the rate of average attendance, which has been for three years slowly declining, has now begun to mount up again. Beginning with 1895, the average attendance was 81.61 per cent. of the children on the books; in 1896 it sunk to 81.55; 1897, 81.50; and this last year it has risen to 81.66 per cent., which is the largest average ever attained since the passing of the Act of 1870. But in this question it is fair that there should be a distinction drawn between the attendances of very young children and the older children. We begin school life at a very early age. Children are entitled to education from three years up to 14. Of course, there is a kind of idea in the minds of the public that you can make up for cutting short the intellectual food of a child of 12 or 13 by cramming knowledge into an immature infant which it cannot possibly assimilate, but we do not quite go the length of forcing them to go to school at three years of age. From three to five attendance is voluntary, and I can quite fancy that there may be parents who think it is better for their babes to remain at home than be sent to school at such an early age; but, taking 833 roughly the babes, the infant school children, and the children in the standards, the attendance of infants is only 70.79 per cent., while the attendance of children in the standards is 87.79 per cent. Those figures are not quite accurate, because there are very young children in the standards, and there are very old children classed with the infants, but they show that the older children do attend more regularly and attain a better percentage than the young children. There is one part of the statement I made last year which I should like to supplement on this occasion. The Committee will remember that I mentioned that complaints had been made of the unfit state in which children were sent to school. The claims of labour in many cases seem much more urgent than the claims of education, an I stated last year that there were undoubtedly an immense number of cases in which children who were supposed to be attending school as full-time scholars were employed to such an extent in labour That they came to school quite unfit to receive any intellectual instruction at all. Last year I spoke from conjecture only and the result of inquiries that had been made in some of the London schools, chiefly in the east and south of London. But the House of Commons was pleased last year to order a return of children on the books of schools as full-time scholars who were themselves working for wages or employed for profit, with their ages, standard, occupation, hours of labour, and wages. Forms were issued to all the 20,002 elementary schools in England and Wales, and when the returns were made up a few weeks ago it was found that a return of some kind or another had been received from all those schools except 640. Since then 120 more schools have sent in returns, and the return is now practically complete, and it will in a very short time be distributed to honourable Members. It is a painful and disappointing return. It casts a very lurid light on the social condition of large classes of the population, and it propounds a most difficult social problem for Governments and Parliaments to ponder over, which in due course, I have no doubt, will become a fresh subject for inquiry by Royal Commission or Select Committee. When the return was made up it furnished the 834 names of 144,000 children on the books as full-time scholars who were engaged as labourers for wages or profit—110,000 boys and 34,000 girls; and the few returns which came in since have added 1,000 more. But the returns reveal upon the face of them that this is only a part of the number of children so employed, and that there are multitudes of children working in this way whose names do not appear in the return. In the first place, the names of children have only been returned who were in regular employment. No notice is taken of children in casual or seasonal employment. One correspondent says—Many children are kept from school for days, sometimes weeks, together, for such work as picking stones in the fields, weeding, sheep-shearing, harvest, and potato-picking.Another correspondent says—During the hat-sewing season, which usually lasts from about February to Whitsuntide, many girls of all ages are employed, both before and after school hours, in sewing hats for their mothers. Some have been known to work from six a.m. to the time for coming to school, and again from school closing in the afternoon till bed-time.The names of none of these children appear in the return. Many correspondents, too, omit the names of children who do not themselves receive wages, but to whose parents the wages have been paid. A correspondent says—Several girls are employed by their parents at beading whenever necessary, and, of course, the wages earned are paid to the parents.Another correspondent says—In addition to these, very many children are employed by their parents at home, in the cabinet-making and boot trades, without remuneration. Such labour is often more exacting than in the cases such as those quoted above for remuneration.The names of none of these children appear in the return. A great many of the correspondents do not make a return in cases where the employment has not been prejudicial to health. One correspondent says—There are 12 boys now on the books who are employed out of school hours, and often in school hours, in picking potatoes, weeding, haymaking, etc.; but this interferes more with attendance than with health.835 Another correspondent says—A good many children after school hours go into the streets to sell the evening papers and matches; but, as their occupations are not injurious to health, we do not suppose they come within the limits of your inquiry.Another correspondent says—You surely cannot allude to boys selling the 'Echo' after school hours on their own account?Again, none of these names appear in the return. Other correspondents do not return children employed during school hours. One correspondent says—I may say that what employment there is takes place mainly in school hours, such as scaring birds, leading horses, picking up potatoes, and the like. There is no employment to speak of out of school hours here.Another says—There are no children, so far as we know, employed out of school hours who attend full time. There are some illegally employed during school hours.The names of these children, again, are not included in the return. A great many correspondents, too, say that the returns they make are avowedly incomplete, and that accurate and full information is not obtainable. On this point one correspondent says—I think that some portions of the information are manifestly absurd. I give the report as it was handed to me, but, I must acknowledge, with a decided mental reservation as to its accuracy.Another says—The number of hours given is very unreliable; milk selling from 7.15 to 8.30 often covers 7.15 to 2, and in no case is there any scruple to extend the 'one or two hours' to half or whole days.Then another says—This is a very incomplete list. A great many children are kept from school to pick shrimps, for which the mothers receive 4d. a gallon.I think it is hardly necessary for me to argue before a Committee of the House of Commons that this kind of employment is extremely injurious to the schooling of the children and to the efficiency of the schools themselves. The returns are full of observations upon the 836 disadvantages to the schools and to the children. A manager says—Several children who are unable to attend but very irregularly through winter owing to wet paths, etc., are kept at home during the fine days of spring and summer to help with farming, and so are almost wholly deprived of the only opportunity they have for attending school.Another says—One boy begins work for his father as early as 3 a.m., and works again in the evening as late as 9 p.m. He often goes to sleep during morning school from sheer weariness. Another boy, employed at 'placing skittles' for 34½ hours per week, says he is engaged from 6 to 11 p.m. daily. The lad is often asleep in the afternoon during the progress of the lessons.One manager calls special attention to the case of a boy, 12 years of age, employed in the feeding and care of pigs for 46 hours per week, who is said to be sleepy in school hours and to be unable to learn anything. The result of these inquiries has been to cause many school boards to pass resolutions upon the subject and a good many managers of Voluntary schools to express their warm approval of the inquiries the Department has ordered. One school board passed the following resolution—The Board, having received the various returns of the hours of labour imposed on children during their school years, is strongly of opinion that some appropriate action should be taken by the Government to prevent the excessive amount of labour found to be customary amongst school children, which must interfere with the success of their studies or with their health.A Voluntary school manager says—May I be allowed to express my gratitude to the Education Department for making these inquiries, and to express the hope that the Department will be able to frame some regulation to meet and relieve the onerous conditions under which manv of the voung have to gain education? Without exaggeration I can truthfully assert that there are to-day in our National and Board schools thousands of little white slaves.The ages of the children dealt with in the return are as follows:—Six years of age and under, 131; between six and seven, 1,120; between seven and eight, 4,211; between eight and nine, 11,027; and between nine and ten, 22,131. So the Committee will see that the very large bulk of these children are of extremely tender age. No doubt the 837 Committee would be glad to know what kind of labour is performed by children under six, and what wages they receive. I have taken a few examples. I find a little boy of six is engaged peeling onions 20 hours a. week for a, weekly wage of 8d. Another delivers milk 28 hours a week for the weekly wage of 2s. Another little boy of the same age is engaged in turning hose for 20 hours a week, and he is paid by 6d. being credited weekly to his savings bank account. There is a little boy engaged in pea picking at 1s. 3d. a week, and the champion boy, who is under six years of age, works in ii brickfield at brick-making and earns a wage of 3s. 6d. a week. A little girl under six curries milk for 35 hours a week for her parents, and she receives no wages. Another little girl is engaged in seaming hose for 15 hours at a weekly wage of 1d. Another is a nurse girl—a nurse girl under six!—who works 29 hours a week for 2d. and her food; and another girl under six is an errand girl and runs about the streets 15 hours a week for a wage of 6d. The educational attainments of these children are, of course, very low. There are 329 of them in no standard at all; there are 3,890 in the first standard, 11,686 in the second, 24,624 in the third, and 36,907 in the fourth. Well, then, as to the nature of the occupations which they follow. The first occupations which I am going to mention are mainly those of boys, but in all boy occupations there are found a few girls, mid in the same way in the latter occupations, which are those of girls, there are found a few boys. Of boys, there are selling newspapers 15,182, hawking other articles about the streets 2,435, other occupations, such as knocking people up early in the morning and taking out dinners, 8,627, shop boys 76,173, boys engaged in agriculture 6,115, and odd jobs 10,636. Then come the girls: minding babies 11,585, housework and laundrywork 9,254, needlework and light work, such as making card boxes and things of that kind, 4,019. Now I come to the hours of employment. Under 10 hours a week 39,355, from 10 to 20 hours 60,268, from 21 to 30 hours 27,008, from 31 to 40 hours 9,778, from 41 to 50 hours 2,390, over 50 hours a week 793, of whom 75 are actually employed over 70 hours a week. Perhaps the Committee is 838 curious to know what these boys and girls who are employed 70 hours a week work at and what wages they get. A boy of 10, in Standard IV., is returned as a farm labourer working 72 hours a week for a wage of 3s. A boy of 12, in Standard IV., is also returned as a farm labourer working 87 hours a week for a wage of 2s. 6d. A newspaper boy of the age of 12, in Standard VI., works 100 hours a week, that is including Sundays, and receives 3s. 6d. and his meals. A boy of 12, in Standard III., works in a marine store dealer's shop, is employed 74 hours a week, and receives 1s. 6d. and his meals. A boy of 10 in Standard IV. is a donkey driver for 80 hours a week at a wage of 6s. In London there is a boy of 12, in Standard V., employed in a chemist's shop for 78 hours a week at a wage of 5s., and there is an errand boy of 12 years engaged at a dairy. He is in Standard VII., and therefore, presumably, a very promising lad. He works 72 hours a week for a wage of 4s. I think it would be economical for the country to deliver that boy from those conditions, as it is evident something might be made of him. There is a girl 13 years of age m a shop. She is in Standard V. and works 72 hours a week for a wage of 2s. There are several girls of various ages and in various standards who carry bark for woodcutters. They work 70½, hours a week for a wage of 6s. Now of these overworked children there are several concrete instances given in the Return, and I have picked out one or two as illustrations. Here is one—This boy rises between 3 and 4 every illuming, starts out at 4.30 a.m. to wake up 25 working men, each paying him 3d. per week; returns from his rounds about 5.30, but does not go to bed again, as at 6 o'clock he has to go a round as 'newspaper boy' till 9 o'clock, when he comes to school. He is a very regular boy, but is often half asleep, especially in the afternoons of hot days.'Another boy—acts as latherer to a barber for 32 hours for a wage of 2s. He is at work on the whole of Saturday till 11 p.m., and for three hours on Sunday.Another boy is—a greengrocer's boy, aged 12, Standard II., starts for London at 2.30 a.m., returns about 9.30, and then attends school.839 Again there are—two girls aged 12, in Standard IV., who are employed daily, one for 3d. per week in housework and errands from 7.45 to 10, 12.30 to 1.30, and 4.30 to 8, and the other at 9d. per week and her food in carrying out parcels for a milliner from 7.30 to 9.30, 12.30 to 2, and 4.30 to 8.Lastly, I have to call the attention of the Committee to the wages which these children get. Receiving under 6d. a week there are 17,084; from 6d. to 1s. a week, 47,273; from 1s. to 2s. a week, 40,293; from 2s. to 3s. a week, 19,757; and above 3s. a week, 8,123. There are besides a number who work for their parents and receive no wages, or whose wages are not stated. This works out at an average of about 1s. per child per week; but it must be mentioned, to be correct, that besides the money wages there are meals, and, in some cases, articles of clothing and other advantages in addition or in substitution for wages. That is the result of the inquiries which we have made, and I hope the Committee will forgive me adding it to the statement I made last year, when I was only able to speak on this matter from conjecture. Now, however, we have certain facts upon which we can go. Another thing I want to mention is what has been done with reference to enlarging the supply of teachers, because the deficiency in that supply is a very serious difficulty in the elementary education of the country, and if the attendance of the children were raised so as to bring more children into school, of course the pressure from the want of teachers would become still greater. My predecessor in office, Mr. Acland, began the plan of trying to draw more teachers into the profession, and I have endeavoured to follow up the policy he initiated. The alterations in the Code designed to enlarge the supply of teachers of different grades have nearly all occurred within the past five years, 1895–1899 inclusive. They are of two kinds, and only two kinds: those who draw upon a wider educational field—secondary schools and Universities; and those who draw upon a wider geographical field—Ireland Mid the Colonies. Now, with regard to the supply of pupil teachers. The passing of Oxford or Cambridge Junior Local Examinations, or the second-class certificate examination of the College of Preceptors, or any 840 other examination approved for this purpose by the Education Department, now qualifies in certain circumstances for admission to pupil teachership. As to assistant teachers: assistant teachers who have become such by passing specified examinations may now, in certain circumstances, become "provisionally certificated" teachers, a privilege formerly confined to those who had passed the Queen's Scholarship examination. Then graduates, or persons qualified to become graduates, may now be recognised as certificated teachers if they hold a certificate of proficiency in the theory and practice of teaching issued by a University or collegiate body and recognised by the Education Department. Lastly, graduates, or persons qualified to become graduates, may now be admitted to training colleges without examination for a year's training. Any candidate over 18 years of age, who has within two years passed any examination recognised for the purpose by the Education Department, may be admitted to a training college without further examination, and the examinations which are recognised by the Department are the Oxford and Cambridge Higher Local Examinations, the examinations of the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board, if the higher certificate is obtained, and the London, Victoria, and University of Wales Matriculation Examinations, if the candidate be placed in the first division. Then, secondly, all these privileges, the privileges with regard to recognition as certificated teachers and admission to training colleges, which have of late years been offered to graduates of any University of the United Kingdom, are now extended to graduates of any University in the British Empire which is recognised for the purpose by the Education. Department. And recognition as certificated teachers is now given to teachers certificated by the Irish Commissioners of National Education in the first class, and trained, while untrained Irish certificated teachers of the first class and Irish certificated teachers of the second class may now be recognised as assistant teachers for two years. I quote these things to show that the Education Department has done its best to increase the supply of teachers, which has now become a considerable difficulty, and will 841 become still greater if educational reforms bring more children to the schools. Now, I am informed that the position and functions of the Vice-President as regards the House of Commons are to be criticised and discussed. I have always disliked being dragged into a Debate upon anything which has any kind of personal aspect, and it will be difficult to get me to join in any such discussion. I have sat here on many occasions in silence, and I have heard powers and authorities attributed to me which the office of Vice-President does not possess, and I have heard responsibilities attempted to be forced on me which do not in any way belong to my office. Now, I think that I may perhaps assist the Committee if it is proposed to embark in this discussion by reminding them what the functions of the Vice-President of the Council really are. It is not an ancient office whose attributes are to be sought for in custom and tradition. On the contrary, it is a very modern office. It was founded only in the year 1856, and the duties of the office are most plainly and clearly described in the Order in Council by which the office was constituted. This Order in Council is dated 25th February 1856. I will not read the whole of it, because it is a formal document; but I will read the first section of the Order, which describes the duties of the Lord President and the Vice-President—That for the future the establishment to be called the Education Department be placed under the Lord President of the Council, assisted by a member of the Privy Council, who shall be the Vice-President of the Committee of the said Privy Council on Education, and shall act under the direction of the Lord President, and shall act for him in his absence.These are the functions which I was appointed to discharge. I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to perform those functions, and I shall continue to do so so long as Her Majesty retains me in my present office.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Lichfield)
said that after the very sad statement which had been made by the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President he hoped that the Government would make some effort to prevent such a state of things continuing. It the House had not at present the power to prevent it altogether, he hoped some step would be 842 taken to protect the children and prevent the slavery which these children were undergoing. Although the facts had not been put before the House in a sufficiently concrete form to give all the information required, still quite enough had been done to assist the Government to protect the children. He hoped before the Vote was passed the Committee would hear that something would be done to protect these little white slaves, and that the Session would not pass without that protection being afforded to them.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the Salary of the Vice-President of the Council."—(Mr. Herbert Lewis.)
§ MR. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said that the local management of the public elementary schools in 8,000 parishes being entirely in the hands of one denomination, and very often of one individual, it was only fair that the Education Department, whatever Party might be in power at the time, should show the greatest consideration to Nonconformists, whose children were debarred from entering the teaching profession in these schools, who had no say in the local management of the schools, and who often had pressure brought to bear upon them to refrain from exercising their legal rights under the Free Education Act and the Conscience Clause. The system which the Education Department was called upon to administer had been well described by the Duke of Devonshire as a—Remarkable and anomalous system. It is a system which places in the hands of religions bodies and private individuals duties and powers which in every other country in the world are considered as appertaining to the State, and should be exercised by it.That was the "remarkable and anomalous system" which the Department was doing it best to uphold. And to these words he might add those of the late Mr. John Bright, which were peculiarly applicable at the present time—I am astonished that Churchmen throughout the country—I do not speak of the clergy, but the laity—have supported this Measure, because they are as much interested as the Dissenters in opposing any extension of the power of the clergy. Nothing tends more to impede the progress of liberty, nothing is more fatal to in- 843 dependence of spirit in the public, than to add to the powers of the clergy in matters of education.And that was just what the Education Department were doing. One of their chief complaints was the way in which Nonconformists were in many thousands of parishes excluded from the teaching profession. The Vice-President of the Council had asked for particulars of cases in which Nonconformists had been prevented from becoming pupil teachers on religious grounds. What reply had he to make to the report of the education committee of the Wesleyan Conference, which stated that, out of 946 towns and villages in regard to which the committee made inquiry, it was found that there were only 88 cases in which candidates were admitted to become pupil teachers without any act of conformity to the Church of England, and 858 cases in which either confirmation or attendance at the services of the Church of England was required as a condition of becoming a pupil teacher? The Vice-President had told them that "the whole traditions of the Education Office were entirely non-partisan," but only the blindest partisanship could refuse to acknowledge the injustice with which Nonconformists were treated in this matter. Unless there were some elements of popular control introduced into the management of the schools it was impossible to obtain justice for Nonconformists, particularly in the rural villages. The management of elementary schools ought to command public confidence and respect. That confidence was neither won nor deserved by the exclusion of every section of the community, however large or influential, who did not belong to the Church. All the test elements of the community ought to be associated in the management of the school. When the policy of Free Education was under discussion, it was admitted on all hands that popular control ought to come. The "Standard" said, on the 24th April 1891—Abolish fees at the expense of the country at large, and at once the claim for local representative control will be irresistible.But what had happened? The 10s. fee grant had been given, but no representative control had been accorded. Another grant of 5s. a head had been made; still 844 no public control has been given. Ten years ago who would have deemed it possible that 15s. a head could have been granted for elementary education, and that yet in the parishes where there is only one school to which Nonconformists are obliged by law to send their children there should be no public control? But the policy of the Government had been to ignore Nonconformist grievances, or, when they became too insistent to be ignored, to dismiss them with cheap sneers. He had repeatedly asked the Education Department to make an inquiry as to the grievances of Nonconformist parents whose children attended the National schools at Flint. An inquiry had been refused on the ground of private information received by the Vice-President of the Council. That information had been communicated to him (the speaker), and having made inquiry to the matter, he was astonished that the Committee of Council should have refused an inquiry. He had asked the Vice-President to allow the manager's letter to be published. That request had been refused. The managers had cleverly thrown the political fly over the Vice-President, who had swallowed the bait. The circumstances which had taken place at Flint afforded ample ground for a full and impartial local inquiry by the Education Department, but the Department preferred to rely on one-sided statements and to ignore everything that was said on the other side. As an example of the way in which parents at Flint had been treated, both by the school managers and by the Education Department, he instanced the case of Mr. R. T. Price, an agent of the Prudential Insurance Society. On the 23rd February he wrote to the manager of the Flint school asking which of the standards in the school to which he sent his child were free standards, and to this day he has had no reply to that communication. Because he had written a letter demanding a free place for his child, the rector of Flint complained to his employers, and when the case was brought before the House the Vice-President of the Council had not only not a single word of condemnation for that treatment of a parent who had only asked for his legal rights, but he actually went on to say that the officers of the Prudential Society most wisely were forbidden to engage in this kind of "poli- 845 tical and sectarian dispute." That statement was completely wrong. The agreement between Mr. Price and the Prudential Society did not contain a single word referring to either religious or political work. The agents of the society had a free hand in that respect. There was not a word in the agreement to prevent Mr. Price from taking part in politics, much less to prevent him from demanding a free place for his child. The Education Department, when appealed to, impliedly sanctioned the conduct of the rector, and censured that of the parent. Was that to be the policy of the Education Department in the future? When a parent wrote asking whether a school is a free one or not, was it to be understood that he might be bullied and intimidated to any extent, that he might be injured in his business, and that the Education Department would not say a word or make a sign to show their disapproval of such conduct? Were clergy who had the management of the schools, paid for by the public, to be allowed to publish a black list from the parish pulpit containing the names of parents who had dared to demand their rights under the Conscience Clause, and that in the case of a school 90 per cent. of whose income is derived from the Government Grant and only 10 per cent. from subscriptions? If this was the policy that was to be pursued by the Education Department it would be well that Nonconformists all over the country should know it. At the last General Election the Unionist Party received tens of thousands of Nonconformists' votes. These Unionist electors could not too clearly understand the way in which their grievances were jeered at by a Tory Government whenever they were brought before the House of Commons. When complaint was made that parents had been held up to obloquy from the parish pulpit for claiming their rights under the Conscience Clause, the Vice-president of the Council thought it a sufficient answer that they were "only Nonconformist preachers."
§ MR. LEWIS
said that the argument of the right honourable Gentleman was that, as the persons in question were Nonconformist preachers, they could "talk back" at the rector. But these persons were asking for their rights, not as Nonconformist preachers, but us citizens. It was, he supposed, useless to appeal for justice to a Government which had acted on such principles. They could only take every opportunity of recording their protest until a Government came into power sufficiently enlightened to treat with fairness and consideration those who were now excluded from any share in the local management of the schools to which they were obliged to send their children. He moved to reduce the right honourable Gentleman's salary by £100.
§ MR. BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
said that he could hardly believe his ears when, coming into the House, he heard the right honourable Gentleman approach the one question which, he should have thought, he would studiously refrain from touching upon, and which hitherto he had always refrained from touching upon—namely, the relation which the right honourable Gentleman occupied, in the opinion of the House, to the Department which he represented. The right honourable Gentleman was the Member for the University of Cambridge; he was admittedly one of the first authorities on educational questions; he had long held positions of authority; and he had abilities which all recognised and most must envy. The right honourable Gentleman would have the Committee believe—although he himself could never tell from the right honourable Gentleman's manner whether he wished everything he said to be believed—that his view of the position he held was that he was the bounden slave of the President of the Council, and was obliged to act under the direction of that President, regardless, apparently, of what his own opinions might be as to the right or wrong of things, and was unable to act in any other way. The right honourable Gentleman asked the Committee to believe that he retained that position—and indeed he flaunted the fact-in the face of the House of Commons—in order to disregard the responsibility for the Measures advocated and the reforms proposed by his own side. He for one could not believe that the 847 House or the right honourable Gentleman himself believed that the position which he occupied in regard to education was anything of the kind. But, even if it were, he could not but remind the right honourable Gentleman how, in the early hours a few days ago, not only did the Vice-President receive a snub from the Government of which he was a Member, but the Lord President himself also. That was all very well for the Vice-President. The House had seen him, year in and year out, turning his cheek to the smiter with such docility and frequency that it would seem as if the right honourable Gentleman had come to regard the process as a kind of moral massage to which he had to submit for the good of his soul and his moral constitution. But that was not altogether the case with the noble Duke the President of the Council. He, at least, had not been accustomed to undergo this sort of treatment; and, therefore, it was not surprising to find that the noble Duke had fled into the marches of Wales and whispered into the ears of his old constituents a word which was not in the vocabulary of the Vice-President, large as that vocabulary was—the word "resignation." The problem before the House on that occasion was a purely educational question. It was the most purely educational question that it was possible to conceive. He had never denied—indeed, he had asserted many times in and out of the House—that the so-called religious question of which so much was talked in the House was not a school question at all. It was a question of the platform, as a rule, which naturally excited violent feelings on both sides of the House; but, as a rule, when one left the atmosphere of the platform and went into the school, where the work of education was going on, one passed into a better atmosphere. But the question at issue the other day concerned the Code. That was the Ark of the Covenant, the pulse of the machine—the very thing which the right honourable Gentleman cared about; which he, as an educationist, was attached to; and which the House ought to care about—namely, the kind of education given and the conditions under which it was given in the primary schools. The Department which the right honourable Gentleman represented, and the Lord President under whose direction the right honourable Gentle- 848 man acted with such remarkable amiability and docility, had between them determined on a reform which, in their judgment, was absolutely necessary if the educational work of the country was properly to be conducted, if the children were to be properly taught, and the pupil teachers were to learn the business of the profession in which they had been induced to engage. And yet when the First Lord of the Treasury, acting on information supplied by he did not know whom, stated that those reforms would not meet with favour from some of the Tony Lumpkins behind him—representatives of agricultural constituencies, and not authorities on educational questions—not only the Vice-President but the Lord President himself gave the go-by to their own reforms, and the whole thing was relegated, as the right honourable Gentleman said, "to some other epoch." The Committee knew what that meant; at least they did not know what it meant, and that was the reason for that explanation by the right honourable Gentleman. It was not in accordance with the traditions of the House, or with the best interests of the great trust reposed in the hands of the right honourable Gentleman, that the work of his Department should be carried on in the House of Commons by one who acted solely, as the right honourable Gentleman would hove the Committee believe, under the direction of someone who sat elsewhere, and who was content not to insist upon his right as a Member of the Government, or upon his duty as the representative of a great Department, to require those reforms which his Department thought to be necessary. It was not in accordance with good sense or good feeling that the right honourable Gentleman should remain in the position which he occupied. It placed everybody in a false position. They put a point before the right honourable Gentleman and he agreed with them. The right honourable Gentleman showed that education required that thing, and yet he calmly said that the Government of which he was a Member did not think it desirable that the reform should be insisted upon, and was content to let it stand on one side. The relationship of the right honourable Gentleman with his Department was, he considered, most unsatisfactory, and he regretted that it continued.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
said he did not propose to follow the last speaker as to the conduct of the office; that was a matter for the Vice-President himself; but there was one matter which he would like to call attention to with regard to the pupil teachers, upon which the right honourable Gentleman had been attacked. The particular point which he wished to refer to was the withdrawal of the Code. He himself was a strong advocate in favour of the proposal being withdrawn upon the ground that one of the great difficulties at the present time was the want of sufficient teachers. Had the proposal been upheld the difficulty would be increased, and he thought the Education Department and the Vice-President were entitled to the congratulations of the Committee for having disposed of the difficulty when it was pointed out to them by withdrawing a clause of the Code which only operated in the direction of increasing the difficulties from which the country was now suffering in obtaining assistant teachers. All those interested in the cause of education must recognise that this was about the most important with which they had to deal. There was an increasing difficulty in obtaining teachers, owing to the growing needs of t he schools, and the growing number of elementary schools, and the Vice-President was to be congratulated on what he raid he had done in trying to dual with this great difficulty. He was trying to do it in two ways: one by increasing the area of the educational field, and the provision of training colleges, and the widening of the area of activity. He (Mr. Cripps) thought that the time had tome when something must be done to prevent something like a deadlock occurring in our educational system. The Vice-President had called attention to certain statistics which were not yet published, but it was impossible to appreciate their true character until the figures were before them. They could not rely on the samples produced, as a true picture could not be drawn until the whole of the figures were before them with regard to what had been said by the honourable Member for the Flint, Boroughs. In the first place he had drawn attention to the State system of education. In one sense we had a State system, but the honourable Member apparently forgot that we had also a mixed 850 system of education, partly carried out by the State and partly carried out locally. It was because we had this dual system that some of the difficulties to which the honourable Member had referred would naturally arise. In regard to funds, however, he disputed that the State had any claim in the matter of local control either in the case of Voluntary schools or School Boards. State funds were under the control of Parliament and the Education Department, and were not in any way placed under the jurisdiction of the popular bodies in the sense in which the honourable Member referred. The popular control represented the expenditure of the ratepayer, but as far as State funds were provided for the purposes of education the State had to see that the education given was efficient through the agency of its inspectors. The managers of the Voluntary schools represented the subscribers in the same way as the School Boards represented the ratepayers of the locality. The managers of a Voluntary school represented the subscribers in the same way that a School Board represented the ratepayers of the locality.
§ SIR H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
Under the trust deeds of several National schools every manager must be a member of the Church of England.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said he objected to those trustees and their limitation personally. The honourable Member for Nottingham (Mr. Yoxall) spoke in the same sense in the House the other night, and his (the speaker's) experience was that in a large number of cases in the selection of these managing bodies they did not consider what the denomination was to which a particular manager belonged, but whether he was a suitable person to overlook educational and financial matters. He quite agreed that it was necessary to yet the best elements in the community to manage the education, but were they likely to get that by the School Board system?
§ MR. CRIPPS
said he agreed with the honourable Gentleman; and if they took the test in question he held that it was met much more in the Voluntary schools than in the small Board school. Under the 851 small School Board system they had far worse bodies and worse educational results than in the management of the Voluntary schools, and the reason was that Voluntary schools did, as a, matter of fact, attract better elements of the community than the small School Boards in various parts of the country. The honourable and learned Member who had just spoken talked about the sectarian character of the Education Department, and attacked the Vice-President as though the Department unduly favoured the Church of England schools. He did not want to bandy words across the floor of the House, but his impression had always been exactly the opposite. What they complained of, and what he had complained of to the Vice-President of the Council more than once, was that the requirements of the Department had more than swallowed up any additional State assistance the friends of the Voluntary schools had been enabled to obtain from them.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
I should like to interpose for one moment in order to make my position quite clear upon the question of finance, so that there may be no misunderstanding between the honourable Member opposite and myself. I will take two cases; and first, the case with which he dealt, the police cost. Part of the cost of police is granted out of the Imperial Fund. The honourable Gentleman was quite right in saying that that grant is subject to the certificate of the police inspector appointed by the Crown that the force is sufficient. So far the argument holds good between the police and the Voluntary schools, namely, that the education inspector has to be satisfied that the education given is efficient. But let us go a step further. The control of the police, the expenditure of the grant from this House is entirely in the hands of the local representatives of the community. That money is not granted to any private set of individuals; it is granted to those who are elected by the ratepayers, and in that way public control—I have never asked in the House for a similar extent of public control in reference to Voluntary schools—public control is secured. But when you go outside the police you have a much stronger case. For the very small sum which this House votes in respect of the 852 police, it votes millions for local purposes, and that money is entirely controlled by the local representatives. They spend the money, they decide how the money shall be spent, and they increase their expenditure as they think fit. And the point of the argument is that in the Voluntary schools five-sixths of the cost is defrayed by money raised from the general taxation of the country to which all classes contribute, and those classes have no voice in the expenditure of that money, and in 8,000 parishes in this kingdom they are compelled to send their children to these schools. It is only just and right and fair that the parents and parishioners should have some voice in the expenditure of the large sum of money to which they contribute.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said there was one Tony Lumpkin who would be ready to follow the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President into the Lobby, and, at all events, a Tony Lumpkin was quite as good as a Charles Surface. With all respect to the right honourable Gentlemen, he could not help thinking that he would cultivate better relations with the agricultural interest if he understood, once and for all, that in the rural districts they did not object to education up to a certain limit, but they must draw the line somewhere. What they did oppose was an education which they considered absolutely useless, which did the maximum of harm and the minimum of good, and which practically resulted in driving the agricultural labourer off the land. With the land going out of cultivation—as it was in that part of the country with which he was acquainted—by thousands of acres, they could not afford those luxuries which honourable Gentlemen on the other side were so fond of thrusting upon them. The agricultural interest had suffered many things at the hands of right honourable Gentlemen on his own side, but even the crushed worm would turn. Yet, in consideration of what the right honourable Gentleman did for them 10 days ago by withdrawing his obnoxious proposal in regard to pupil teachers, he should support him in the Lobby on this occasion and vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said his only excuse for 853 intervening in that Debate was that he was the solitary representative in the House of a large class of the community which had the unique distinction of being oppressed, with almost equal injustice, by both sides of the House—he meant the Irish and Roman Catholic schools throughout Great Britain. They had heard a great deal as to the rights of Nonconformists on the education question, but they had never heard anything like a full and fair admission of the claims of that section of the community on whose behalf he rose to address the Committee. Voluntary schools, so far as the Irish Catholics were concerned, had been left in almost as bad a position by the present Government as they were in before. It was true that this Government had given them an additional grant, but this had been already more than swallowed up by the additional demands made by the Department. His own constituency was inhabited by undoubtedly one of the poorest populations in the United Kingdom. It consisted of Irishmen engaged in the worst and the most precarious forms of employment. What did he find when he went to the Irish Catholic schools there? He could scarcely trust himself to express the feelings those schools produced in his mind. He found there a number of children the poverty of whose parents and homes was but too clearly manifested by their condition. Many of them were in garments that were ragged, and without shoes and stockings. And how was the school kept up? This school of the poorest of the poor was kept up largely by the pence of the poor. The parents of those children were not content to take the practically free education which was given to them at the entire expense of the community in the Board school; they preferred to send their children to the school where they were brought up in the faith of their fathers. But this was not all. These poor parents not only paid a, portion of the expenses of their own school, but out of their own pockets they paid a portion of the expenses of a school founded on a basis they could not possibly accept. The answer giver to that was that the School Board system was purely unsectarian, and therefore no objection could be raised to it on religious grounds. Sectarian and unsectarian were words which were 854 mere easily employed than defined. He could understand that from a Protestant point of view the reading of the Bible without comment was unsectarian, but from a Catholic point of view there could not be a more sectarian act. Whoso fault was it that the present state of affairs existed? He hoped his right honourable Friend would not say it was the fault of the Irish Catholic parent, because he had already given his share to the Board school, and they could not ask him to be three times taxed. The solution of the question had not yet been found. There had been a great deal of bigotry exhibited in regard to this question. Some Gentlemen were more anxious that a school should be under a School Board than that it should be efficient as a Voluntary school. On the other hand he was afraid that there were honourable Members who were more anxious, that a school should be Voluntary, even at the risk of the education being bad, than that the school should be under a local School Board. Well, he took his side as between the two stools. He was equally in sympathy and out of sympathy with both. He might say, in justice to his own views, that he held them at personal and political risks. He thought, as an Irish Catholic, familiar with the methods adopted in regard to National schools, that it was unfair that in a large number of the country districts Nonconformists should be forced into the Voluntary schools without any protection for their faith. He claimed for the Nonconformist children that which he demanded for the Catholic children, that they should be brought up without any offence or prejudice to the faith of their fathers. He thought that honourable Gentlemen opposite were fighting for their Voluntary schools on wrong lines. If they would make up their minds to have, if not popular control, at least a form of control in which the Nonconformist parents should have a representation in the management of the school, by which the faith of their children would be safeguarded, they would enormously strengthen instead of weakening the case in behalf of the Voluntary schools. He thought a just settlement of the question might be reached on the lines of the Canadian system, by which, as he understood it, parents were allowed to ear-mark the 855 rates for the school to which they desired to send their children. He thought that such a just settlement of the question was not beyond the resources of British statesmanship.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said he must protest against one observation which had fallen from his honourable Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool in his very interesting, able, and fair speech. The honourable Gentleman had complained that honourable Members on that (Opposition) side of the House had resented the action of the Irish Members in fighting for their own schools. He really did not think that any honourable Member had ever resented that action by the Irish Members. What they had protested against was, that the Irish Members should have thought fit, in the interest of their own schools, not merely to support the grant of 5s. per head to Irish Catholic schools, but to support the system which forced Nonconformist children to go into Anglican schools, where they were excluded from the teachership.
§ MR. T.P. O'CONNOR
said there had never been an Amendment proposed in the course of a Debate on an Education Bill dealing with the difficulty to which the honourable Member had referred which the vast majority of the Irish Members did not support.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
was sorry to have to correct his honourable Friend. On the contrary, a Motion was submitted to the House—That in the opinion of this House it is essential to adjust an efficient system of education that there shall be within the reach of every child in England and Wales a public elementary school under local representative management.Not a single Irish Member supported that Resolution.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said he was present and heard the Motion, and the speech in its favour by the honourable Member, and he walked out of the House because his honourable Friend in his speech had made a violent and uncompromising attack on all Voluntary schools.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he was perfectly certain that in the whole course 856 of his observations in support of that Amendment he had never referred at all to Roman Catholic schools. His argument was confined exclusively to Anglican schools in those parishes in which the majority of the children were Nonconformists. That was a very wide distinction, and went to the root of the matter. His honourable Friend referred to the case of the constituency he represented, and said that it was a poor constituency, and that the Roman Catholics could not support their own schools as well as the Board schools. But when there was an Amendment moved from that side of the House in favour of allocating the 5s. grant to the necessitous schools, rather than to the rich schools, his honourable Friend did not support it. It was part of their complaint that the grant was made to the rich schools rather than to the poor schools, in order to enable them to fight the Board schools. But if the Roman Catholics supported their own schools, they got special privileges for these schools. He found, for example, that in one the voluntary subscriptions amounted to £73, whereas the State grants amounted to £1,000: that was, that the voluntary subscriptions were only a fifteenth of the total income of that school. The Roman Catholics had also the special privilege that all their teachers were Roman Catholics. No Nonconformist, or Anglican, or member of another faith could ever become a teacher in a Roman Catholic school. The Nonconformists had no such special privilege. As a matter of fact, there were Roman Catholic teachers in the Board schools throughout the kingdom, and they got fair and equal treatment in that respect. Roman Catholics had the principles of their own faith taught at the expense of the State. Every Catholic school was, for all purposes, a mission room of the Roman Catholic faith, endowed out of the funds of the State, and he did not think his honourable Friend would say that such treatment was illiberal. A reference had been made to the Board schools as if they were Nonconformist institutions. As a matter of fact, the majority of the teachers in the Board schools were members of the Anglican and Roman Catholic faiths, and the Nonconformist teachers were considerably in the minority. He was glad that the honourable Member had made the speech he 857 had done, because it proved that he had reconsidered his position, and he hoped the next time a Motion such as he referred to was proposed in the House the honourable Member for Scotland Division would support it.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Surely his honourable Friend was an experienced enough Parliamentarian to vote for a Resolution if it commended itself to his judgment, and not because of the speeches made in support of it. If the honourable Member's views were to obtain in the House, few Motions indeed would be carried. Each supported a Resolution from his own point of view. What was essential was the terms of the Motion, mid not the arguments offered in support of it. In regard to the Canadian system, he thought his honourable Friend had been misinformed. He believed that, according to the last settlement in Canada, no religion was taught in the schools by the State teachers, but arrangements were made for teaching religion by others after the regular school hours. There was one point made by his honourable Friend with which he cordially agreed. He said that the Roman Catholic position was very different from the Anglican. Its attitude to Bible teaching was very different, and even the version of the Bible taught in the Roman Catholic schools was different from the Anglican. There was no common ground for religious teaching between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant. But that was not the case with the Anglican communion and the Nonconformist. They had got the same version of the Bible, and in places like the Rhondda Valley all the Protestant sects and creeds agreed to a common form of religious teaching. Why could not the same thing be done in every part of the United Kingdom? No Anglican parent could possibly object, on religious grounds, to the teaching of the Board schools. A. Return had been made to the House of Lords which gave the curriculum of religious teaching in every Board school in the kingdom, and he would ask the noble Lord the Member for Rochester whether he could name a single case where the teaching was objectionable, although ho could 858 understand him to say it was inadequate. There was nothing taught contrary to the faith.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
In other words, there was nothing objectionable in having your own creed forced on anybody else and paid for by everybody else. The noble Lord could not say he objected to the religious teaching as such. All he could say was that his catechism was not taught, or his own particular view of that catechism was not taught. Did the noble Lord say that in Anglican schools managed by Low Churchmen the religious teaching was adequate?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Then, if it were adequate, why was not the religious teaching in the Board schools adequate? Did the noble Lord mean by "adequate teaching" the teaching of all the doctrines of his own faith? If he did, there were several Anglican schools where the whole doctrines of his faith were not taught, and where, consequently, the teaching was not adequate. He was glad that his honourable Friend the Member for the Scotland Division had made the speech he had delivered, because it showed that it was not absolutely impossible for those on that side of the House to co-operate with those honourable Members, who shared his views in regard to a, proper system of education. Nonconformists were treated worse than Mahommedans and Pagans were treated in India.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Yes. There was not a single State school in India where a Mahommedan was excluded from becoming a teacher on account of his faith. And yet there were thousands of schools in this country, maintained by the State, where Nonconformist children were precluded from being teachers on account of their faith. The: honourable Member for Stroud tried to establish the fact that a kind of control was exercised over the Voluntary State-aided schools in this country. He said it was practi- 859 cally the same kind of control as that exercised by the Imperial Government over the police and over other local affairs where there were grants-in-aid. That argument was dealt with by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, but there was one point not touched upon to which he wished to direct attention, in supplement to what had been said by the right honourable Gentleman. The local authorities could not appoint a chief constable except with the consent, of the Home Office, but the managers of Voluntary schools which received grants-in-aid could appoint not only head teachers, but all teachers, without the sanction of the Education Department, or even submitting their, names to the Department. So that his honourable Friend's case in regard to the police utterly broke down. The Vice-President of the Council, in the remarkable speech which he had delivered that night, tried to cast the responsibility for some things that occurred last year on the President of the Council, and washed his hands of all that had been done. He was not surprised at it, but there were two or three things for which the right honourable Gentleman was responsible, and which showed the character of the administration during the last three or four years. There was, for instance, the glaring case of the Camberwell site. He would remind the Committee of the facts. The London School Board introduced into Parliament a Provisional Order in order to secure sites for building new schools in different parts of London. Amongst others there was a site at Camberwell, where at present there was a kind of ramshackle concern for a school. It was deemed advisable, in the interests of the children, that there should be a, new commodious school, properly equipped. It was necessary to have the sanction of the Education Department for all the sites, and that sanction was obtained. Proper notice was given to all the owners of property and to everybody who had a legitimate right to object, and no objection was made. The Provisional Order passed the First and Second Reading in the House of Lords, through Committee, and the Third Reading, and was then brought down to the House of Commons, where it passed the First and Second Reading, and was sent to Committee. The solicitor to the London 860 School Board was present in Committee; no objection was raised, either by the Education Department or by anybody else; and the solicitor left the Committee. Something happened, however, immediately afterwards. The Camberwell site was struck out of the Provisional Order without even giving notice to the representative of the School Board. On inquiry it was found that the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich had a little confabulation with the Vice-President of the Council, and the Camberwell site was struck out as the result of that confabulation. That was stated in the course of debate in the House, and the Vice-President did not contradict it. That was a very fair illustration of the way in which the School Boards were treated by the Education Department since the honourable Gentleman came into office. Of course, the real reason why the Camber well site was struck out of the Provisional Order was that there was an Anglican school not far removed from the new site, and the noble Lord, who was the representative of the Voluntary schools, knew well that if a commodious School Board school were set up within a few hundred yards of the Voluntary school the parents would send their children to the new school rather than to the Voluntary school. Why did not the friends of the Voluntary schools act in the usual straightforward way? They had the means of objecting. They had representatives on the School Board, but they did not object. They could have petitioned against the Provisional Order, but that they did not do.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
How many inhabitants? He had not the remotest doubt that the clergyman who was manager of the Voluntary school and his colleagues objected; but who were the inhabitants? No grounds were given for striking out the Camberwell site to the School Board or to the House. Both the House of Commons and the London School Board were treated with unmitigated contempt by the Education Department. The whole thing was done purely in the interest of a sect who wished to suppress the School Board school. The Vice-President came down 861 to the House and made eloquent and pathetic speeches in the interests of education and the condition of the children of the poor, and one might imagine from these speeches that these were the very things he had most at heart. But when he had an opportunity of showing that he, had the interests of education at heart, rather than the interests of any sect in the community, he invariably gave in to the representations of the noble Lords the Members for Rochester and Greenwich, in the interests of a sect. What was true of the Camberwell case was equally true as regarded the case mentioned by the honourable Member for Flint. There was a Conscience Clause for the protection of the children. Five inhabitants of Flint claimed the protection of that clause for their children. It seemed to be a matter of amusement to the right honourable Gentleman that, anybody should have religious convictions. He was not surprised; but, after all, the right honourable Gentleman must bear in mind that there were millions of people in this country who did not regard this as a matter of amusement and did not treat it, with, cynical contempt, and the right honourable Gentleman had no right to do so. Well, these inhabitants claimed the protection of the Conscience Clause on religious grounds, and it was the business of the right honourable Gentleman to administer the law and to grant that protection, but he had not done it. The rector of the parish held these people up to contempt in the parish church, and the right honourable Gentleman said, "Why should he not?"
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
begged the right honourable Gentleman's pardon. He was perfectly aware that the right honourable Gentleman was not a Bishop. He was not sure what the right honourable Gentleman was. He was not responsible to the diocese, and if he was not responsible to the House for the Education Department, what on earth 862 was he responsible for? This gentleman who held these poor people who claimed the protection of the Conscience Clause up to ridicule was not merely rector of the parish of Flint, but was manager of the school.
§ *MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
Did the parents apply for the protection of the Conscience Clause, and did they fail to obtain it?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that was not the point at all. It was now quite clear that they were getting the answer from the real authority. It was under the direction of a junta of clerical members who managed the Education Department and the Government. They were gradually getting to know, and he was glad the right honourable Gentleman had accepted the responsibility. This man denounced those four men from his pulpit, and he was the manager of the schools and the correspondent. To that school the right honourable Gentleman was paying £1,100 annually, while the total subscribed by the Anglicans themselves was only £110. Therefore the right honourable Gentleman was more responsible for the management than the vicar, for he was the man who was keeping the school going. Had he no control over the correspondence, or was there any remonstrance brought to bear? The rector of the parish was not in the same position as, the minister of a free church, for he was a State official representing the National Church. But this man was not satisfied with merely denouncing the poor people from the altar, but he attempted to drive them from their employment and out of the district. He went and complained to their employers, and that was what he called intimidation. There was one case in which, the agent of an insurance company claimed free schooling, and he got an answer which was perfectly insolent. He thought the correspondent of that school ought to be rebuked for his conduct to men who had a perfect right to communicate with him. The correspondent communicated with the Chairman of the Prudential Company, by whom this agent was employed, and informed him that one of the company's agents in Flint was taking a violent part in political affairs, when all that this mad, had done was to claim free 863 schooling for his child. Therefore, this correspondent to whom the right honourable Gentleman paid £1,000 a year tried to obtain the dismissal of a man for doing that which he had a right to do according to the law of the land. The right honourable Gentleman said he was not exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction; but he was there to administer the law with regard to education, and if he did not do that he had no right to be representing education in that House, and as long as he allowed himself to be intimidated by Members on the opposite side of the House he was not a fit person to administer the law of the land. Those two cases he had mentioned the right honourable Gentleman was personally responsible for. Did he ask the opinion of the President of the Council with regard to the Camberwell site, or did he simply consult the Member for Greenwich?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
maintained that what was said then was that the objection came before the matter had passed in Committee. The right honourable Gentleman knew perfectly well that when the Bill was unopposed it did not take a quarter of an hour, and so the right honourable Gentleman had no time to communicate with the President of the Council. He wished to know, did he communicate with him?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said they knew now who was responsible. The case of the pupil teachers which had been referred to was another instance of the same kind. He thought it was necessary in the interests of education that something should be done to improve the pupil teachers, but that was not all. It was the recommendation of the Departmental Committee appointed by the present Government in 1896, upon which there was not a single politician, for it was composed of educational experts. The majority of them were supporters of the Voluntary schools, and they unanimously recommended eight important recommendations for the improvement and strengthening of the 864 pupil teacher system. In those recommendations the Committee emphatically stated their conviction that the whole system of training uneducated young persons was economically wasteful and educationally unsatisfactory and even dangerous to the teachers and the taught in equal measure. That Report had been on the Table of this House for a year, and nothing had been done. Under the fourth of those recommendations there were seven or eight subheads, and the Government selected two of those sub-heads which they had put into the Code. That was the attempt of this weak-kneed Government to satisfy the supporters of the right honourable Gentleman. No doubt the reason why only two of those sub-heads had been carried out was that pressure had been brought to bear by the gentlemen under whose direction the right honourable Gentleman was managing the Department, and without whoso consent he had not taken any steps. He asked the right honourable Gentleman to point out anything he had done to carry out those great opinions which he had embodied in articles, in reviews, and in speeches both inside and outside of the House of Commons. The only thing he had done was to give a grant to Voluntary schools, and he had never done anything to carry out his own proposals. The right honourable Gentleman admitted that the system was a bad one, but he instantly succumbed to his supporters, and sacrificed the interests of education wilfully and knowingly in the interests purely and simply of his clerical supporters, and he thought they had a right to protest in the name of education. This was no new thing, because there was a Commission in 1888, and the majority of them were supporters of Voluntary schools. That Commission spoke in equally scathing terms of the pupil teacher system, but the moment, there were signs of opposition he immediately withdrew from carrying out any reform. They had a right to protest against such conduct, for education appeared to be a purely secondary thing in the view of the Department. The Education Department appeared to have only one object, and that was to keep up insanitary schools, and drive the children into buildings which were not fit for their education.
§ MR. MIDDLEMORE (Birmingham, N.)
in a maiden speech, said he thought the Debate on the educational question had already been, somewhat protracted and he should not have ventured to address the House had he not felt very strongly indeed with regard to the question of elementary education. The Vote before the Committee made no suitable provision for those 60,000 children who left school every year between the age of 11 and 12 years and became half-timers. He supposed that it made no provision because it could not legally do so. But it was so easy to make such provision by raising the age. It was utterly wasteful from an educational point of view to leave the age as it was, and he confessed that it would be with much bitterness of heart and some misgivings if he supported the Vote unless some substantial hope was given for the future. He could not understand why the Government took no action in regard to this matter, which they all admitted was so pressing. The Vice-President equally desired to do so and he was in favour of raising the age, and the House itself by a majority of five to one agreed to that principle. The school boards of the country—with the exception of some rate-affrighted rural boards, which he supposed would soon be snuffed out—were, in favour of it, for over and over again they had sent up memorials upon this very subject. The trades unions were in favour of making this provision for the children, and he had been told that a great trades union at Manchester very much regretted the resolution which it passed in an opposite sense, for he thought that no one would admit that the interests of human creatures should be treated as of less importance than the articles which they manufactured. Such subordination was impious, and was it not by this subordination that Germany was gradually encroaching on our area of trade? By permitting the withdrawal of children from the school, his impression was—and he had had a very large experience—that a large number of those half-timers played truant from their work and got on to the streets. The consequence was that their knowledge faded, discipline disapppeared and there was a, tremendous educational waste. In this way many of the children under the present system were 866 deprived of their rightful chance in life, and a perpetual disability was inflicted upon them. It seemed to him that the clever boys and girls would in after life derive very little advantage over the stupid boys and girls under the present system. He knew that in the main he was speaking to a convinced audience, but there was one section which he should like to ask a very simple question. He understood there were 600 Members of this House. Now, if each Member had a child deprived of advantages equivalent to that which the children would enjoy and which those half-timers would enjoy if they had been kept at school, what would they not give to secure their children those advantages? The raising of the age at which children could leave school was certain to come before very long. Although he was a young Member of the House, and was speaking under the difficulty of not making his utterances heard, yet he had interfered because he thought it was his duty to do so. He earnestly asked the Government before this Vote was passed to give the Committee some statement of their views and intentions in regard to this question of the half-timers.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
sympathised with the complaint made by the honourable Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, and quite agreed that this subject was one which was well worthy of consideration. No doubt it was a considerable hardship, for it was surely unfair for those who paid for the Voluntary schools to be called upon a second time to pay the School Board rate. He thought it would be fair that subscription to Voluntary schools should be allowed to count as against the School Board rate. The points touched on by previous speakers were, no doubt, very important, but they did not touch the educational aspect of the Vote. In some respects he submitted that the present state of things was very unsatisfactory. There had been, no doubt, for many years past a steady improvement in their school buildings, and both the number of schools and the number of scholars attending them were increasing. But on the other hand, when they came to look at the education given in those schools he thought that there were some points 867 on which they must feel that there was still a great deal left to be desired. In round numbers the total of their schools under the Department was 24,000, and out of that number in 13,500 English was taught, and in 17,000 geography was taught. He would like to ask his right honourable Friend, and the Committee generally, whether it was quite a satisfactory state of things that there should be 6,000 of those schools receiving grants from the Government which were classified as efficient elementary schools in which, no geography was taught. Surely geography ought to be a sine qua non, and ought to be taught in every school in the country. When we find that there are 6,000 schools in which geography is not taught, or in which they are not presented for examination in that subject, surely they must feel that there was much room for improvement. There was another subject to which he thought they should really have paid more attention. When he looked to these statistics regarding the teaching of history he found that out of these 24,000 schools there were only 6,000 in which the children were presented for examination in history as a class subject, although no doubt there was a certain amount of elementary history taught incidentally by means of reading, but so far as any systematic teaching of history was concerned there were only 6,000 schools in which the children were presented for examination in that subject. He submitted that this fact constituted a very serious state of things, for every English child ought to have some instruction in the history of their country. Lastly, he would allude to the subject of elementary science. Perhaps upon this subject he should not carry members of the Committee so much with him because with regard to science they might have an impression that there was something abstruse about it which required some certain amount of profound knowledge. But when they came to elementary science, which, however, merely meant some elementary knowledge of the laws of nature and the world in which they lived, the numbers were only 2,100. No doubt a certain number of the more advanced children were also taking specific subjects, but they were very few when compared with the total number. He be- 868 lieved that this was mainly due to the rule that children could only be presented for examination in two class subjects. Consequently, as most of the schools took geography and English, history and elementary science were practically excluded. Indeed, as regarded science, the numbers were even less than last year. He wished to earnestly call the attention of the Vice-President to the matter, and hoped he would take steps to remedy the evil, and terminate the virtual exclusion of history and elementary science from their national schools.
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said that the right honourable Baronet had referred to some subjects which, in his opinion, ought to be more largely taught in schools than was now the case. But so long as the present system obtained of assessing the grant for the work of schools at so much for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and so much more for singing, needlework, English, and geography, and so on, there could not be that freedom which there ought to be within the walls of the school to teach the subjects to which the right honourable Baronet had referred. He hoped that during the coming year the Education Department would set themselves to formulate a plan for assessing the grant on the system known as the block system which prevailed in Scotland, whereby the school received the grant not in proportion to the number of subjects taken, but in proportion to the general efficiency of the work done. If that reform could be brought about, very much could be done in the direction which the right honourable Baronet had suggested. But an even more difficult obstacle in the way of teaching those subjects was the limited and irregular attendance of great numbers of children who worked either before or after their attendance at school, or during halftime. And then, what could they do in schools where the teaching staff consisted mainly of children themselves, as was the case in many of the rural schools? The age at which children were allowed to leave school was far too early, but the reception which, the Bill for raising the age limit by six months had met with, at the hands of the Government rendered its prospects of being passed very slight indeed. Unless they could come to some 869 agreement with regard to the horrible theological dissensions in education which would enable them to give from the State or locality to all schools the means of affording efficient education, it was idle and worse than useless to claim that every school should have teaching in geography, history, and elementary science. The efficiency of the schools depended upon the supply of teachers, and the way to secure that supply was to develop the pupil teacher system. In particular the supply of teachers in the rural districts was falling off, and would continue to fall off unless the conditions of the teaching profession were made more attractive. It was to secure this end that the two modifications and improvements were recently made in the Code which were withdrawn by the Government because of the opposition of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, the honourable Member for North Hants, and other honourable Members whose action would do incalculable damage to the cause of the Voluntary schools which they were seeking to assist. Ho hoped the Vice-President would do something in the matter of the dismissal of teachers of Voluntary and also Board schools for all sorts of capricious and unjustifiable reasons, and would see that the teachers were not robbed of any portion of the pensions to which they were entitled by reason of such capricious dismissal.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
On such an occasion as this, which is one of the most important in the course of the Parliamentary Session, when we are dealing with the Education Estimates, we are considering how we are investing money which is to bear fruit in an active, useful, energetic generation 30 years hence. We are sowing the ground and we ought to be satisfied with the quality of the seed we put in, and from which, 30 years hence, we expect to reap our harvest. Therefore, no pains can be too great for the House to devote to these great educational questions. The misfortune of these Debates is that, by some unhappy law, they appear almost always to run in the channel of purely theological controversy. I am bound to say it is impossible for anyone altogether to avoid this, although, at the same time, the less we spend of the brief intervals allotted to education on such controversy 870 the better it will be. I should have liked to have had from the Vice-President some information regarding the present state of subscriptions to the Voluntary schools which the right honourable Gentleman has told us suddenly dropped last year. The Education Estimates appear to go on gradually increasing, and this year we are spending considerably over £11,000,000, in addition to what has been spent in elementary schools by the Science and Art Department. That is a sum largely in excess of what was considered adequate 10 years ago, and I do not suppose that any of us will grudge it if we think we are getting value for it. But what are the results we obtain for this enormous expenditure? The Vice-President told us last year that both elementary and Board schools in the purely rural districts are, as a rule, inefficient; that they fall short of a reasonable standard of efficiency, such as that which is maintained by the rural schools of Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. What, then, are the causes which contribute to this lamentable result in the case of the English schools? The cause is attributable in the first place to the early age at which children are allowed to leave school. In Germany and Switzerland children remain at school until they are 13, but in a large proportion of the English rural districts they cease their school work at the age of 11. That is a serious drawback to efficiency. Another cause of inefficiency is the irregularity of attendance, or an attendance which is ineffective and unprofitable, because the children have probably risen at five in the morning and have done four or five hours' work before coming to school at 9 o'clock, and cannot therefore possibly bring an active and intelligent attention to bear upon their school work. I do not think it is going too far to say that 250,000 school children are doing work in this way, which interferes with their getting proper teaching. Then there is the question of ineffective teaching. The teachers in the elementary schools are not so well trained, and relatively to the expenses of living are not so well paid, and altogether are not so efficient as the teachers of Germany and Switzerland. The inefficiency is largely due to the employment of pupil teachers a practice which does not prevail in the 871 educational system of any other country. It is impossible for the children who are employed as pupil teachers to give proper instruction either in general knowledge or in the mode of teaching, because their time is occupied and their faculties are strained by the efforts to teach other children. But the evil does not end there. The mind of the pupil teacher is so dwarfed and stunted at the very time when it should be expanding that he has but a bad chance of becoming a good principal teacher. Most of the faults, of the teachers in the elementary schools are due to the fact that, beginning as pupil teachers, they begin to teach too soon and contract bad habits, or at least a defective style of teaching, which they find it impossible to drop. Quite recently I had the privilege of meeting a high educational authority from America, who had come to this country for the purpose of inspecting elementary schools, and when I asked that gentleman what struck him most in our system of elementary education, he said:—Two things. First, your elementary schools are plebeian; they are looked down upon; they are not schools like the schools of Germany and Switzerland, in which no one, whatever his social rank, is above teaching; but the great defect of your system is that you rely too much upon pupil teachers, and if you want to bring up your schools to the level of the schools in Germany and Switzerland you must get rid of the pupil teachers.We are accustomed to complain of the clergy of the Church of England in connection with the elementary schools, but I believe, although there is a small section who attach more importance to sectarian control and teaching, the great majority of the clergy are sincerely interested in education, and certainly are more interested in education than any other class in the rural districts. I have heard from clergymen statements about education which were of the greatest value and interest, and which show that, principally owing to the system of pupil teachers, the state of education in rural districts is thoroughly unsatisfactory. A great deal of the expense which is incurred on behalf of technical education fails as a matter of fact to obtain its due results, because boys and girls do not obtain in the elementary schools that mental discipline and that sound foundation of general knowledge upon 872 which technical education can alone be worked to do any real good. A sound system of elementary education is necessary to make the children worthy members of the commonwealth, in the sense that they should have some aptitude for pleasure, and some intellectual interest which will carry their lives beyond the daily, dull routine of toil and fit them for the enjoyment of something better than a night in a beer-house. These defects in our educational system must be removed if we are to sustain the country in its competition with other lands, and none of these defects are without remedy. It is not so much a question of more money being wanted, except inasmuch as the salary of the teachers must be raised, but the money which is now spent might be spent to much better purpose. I believe that nearly all educationists are agreed that the things to which I am referring ought to be done, and the reasons that they are not being done is because of the inefficiency of the Education Department, which does not enforce the law. There are many reforms that we cannot get. The Department is not doing its duty, and it is not strong enough to compel the enforcement of the law. If it is not strong enough, then, of course, it ought to be strengthened. Now, what is the cause of the inefficiency of the Education Department? The Vice-President has told us to-night that it is due to the fact that he is only Vice-President of the Council. We all respect the great ability of the President of the Council, who has a thorough grasp of the educational question, but he has disappointed us in not infusing more energy and breadth of view into the Education Department. The Vice-President told us to-night what he conceives his position to be.
§ SIR J. GORST
No, no; I did not say what I conceived my position to be. I said what the Order in Council had laid down as my position.
§ MR. BRYCE
That amounts to the same thing, because I presume that the Vice-President is a law-abiding man. He had explained in that precise manner what his position is in order to explain the position which he has taken up with regard to educational questions 873 which have come before this House. What is his position, as the right honourable Gentleman himself defines it? It is that ho was merely to be the mouthpiece of the Lord President of the Council, or perhaps I ought to say the Government, We in this House cannot get at the Lord President of the Council. We only know him as a Member of the Cabinet. The Vice-President, therefore, I suppose, is not ever to be taken as giving us his own view, but only the views of the Cabinet. When we hear the Vice-President we must take it, I suppose, that we are not hearing any views which come from his own knowledge, and which have the weight of his own knowledge and experience. His own knowledge is entirely suppressed, and the weight of his own experience is entirely excluded. We are listening merely to the views which he is compelled by his superiors to express, and we are not to assume that those views had any relation whatever to the the views which he holds himself. We are therefore in this position, that when this very important question of education arises in the House, the House is entirely deprived of that guidance which an experienced and able Minister ought to give it. The right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President feels himself debarred by his official position from giving us the light which is blazing in his own mind, because that light is not the light which shines upon the Cabinet, but it is only the light of a subordinate official. That does not appear to create a very satisfactory position. The right honourable Gentleman is not the skipper, he is not even the pilot, he is merely the boatswain of the Educational ship who repeats the order which somebody else gives. And, apparently, that position is to continue, and while it does continue there is very little use in our arguing educational questions hero, because when we have convinced the Vice-President we can get no further. When we address our arguments to the First Lord of the Treasury and other occupants of that Bench, those Gentlemen are able to tell us, and tell us truly, that they are not conversant with the details, and therefore cannot answer them, and we are not aware as to whether we are making the slightest impression upon them. That is the position to which this great Department 874 has been reduced, and I am tempted to inquire why it is that the Government have adopted this very peculiar policy. I can only suppose that there is some secret influence which controls and guides the Cabinet in educational matters which is not that of the Lord President, judging from what we know of his opinions, and certainly not that of the Vice-President, because whenever he lifts the veil from a small corner of his mind we clearly perceive that it is not the mind of the Government. I will not speculate upon what that secret influence is which so controls the Cabinet; but I would venture to say one thing, and that is, that it is an influence which thinks more of sectarianism than education, because all the educational policy that we have had from the Government, as distinct from that of the Education Department, per se, is sectarian in the first instance, and only in the second is educational. I believe that influence—I will not call it a clique—has very little or no support in the country. It is an influence which is not so strong in the country as the Government believes, and I rather fancy that in two or three years the Government may have a rude awakening on the subject. It is a great mistake to assume that with the sole exception of the Roman Catholics parents did not care about the religious education of their children. They do desire that their children should be taught something in the way of religious education, but not that they should be taught something which they themselves do not believe. They are perfectly satisfied that their children should receive the sort of religious education that the Board schools give. Of that I could give some curious instances where there are schools side by side with Church schools which give no religious teaching at all, but a little Bible reading without comment. It has been found upon inquiry that though Church schools are actually accessible, fully one-half, or at any rate a large proportion, of the scholars at the unsectarian schools were the children of Church parents. Church of England parents having an opportunity of sending their children to a school where they could receive this dogmatic religious teaching preferred to send them to a school where there was none. Those who desire that distinctive and dogmatic 875 instruction should be given are pursuing a phantom. They were gaining nothing for themselves. I believe that dogmatic instruction is producing no permanent effect on the minds of the children, and that these conscientious and zealous efforts to bring up children in the tenets of any particular Church are wasted. The only instruction that does any good to the children and tells upon their minds and characters and make them better Christians and better citizens is instruction that could be given, without a single word of dogma, based on the Scriptures alone. I will not dwell upon the injustice involved in the system which has been shown by other speakers. I will only say that I believe it is because we are distracted by these controversial questions that we do not devote our minds simply and absolutely to the question of getting the best education, and I am afraid that so long as sectarianism is allowed to dominate the policy of the Government, so long would educational questions have to take the second place. I believe that many faults of administration, loss to the intellectual life of the country, and loss to its material progress are traceable to the fact that their minds were being diverted from purely educational questions, and until the Education Department is rescued from the influence which has latterly controlled it, until it is allowed to give a genuine educational policy, those evils will remain.
§ *MR. TALBOT
thought that nobody could complain of the way in which the subject had been treated by the right honourable Gentleman who had just sat down, who had raised the whole tenour of the Debate; but he could not help fancying that even he had been unable to realise the religious difficulty which pursued the subject. There was no doubt that there was a deep-seated religious conviction in the minds of a great number of persons outside the House, who had just as much objection to the banishment from the schools of the religious teaching which they valued as others had to the introduction of dogmas which they detested. The right honourable Gentleman who had just sat down made one single remark which showed that he had a strange want of grasp of the situation. 876 He said religious instruction could be given without a single word of dogma, based on the Scriptures alone.
§ *MR. TALBOT
said there was not a single line in the New Testament which did not contain a dogma, and when he was told they were to have undogmatic religion, he did not believe such a thing existed. The existence of the Deity was dogmatic; the doctrine of the Trinity was dogmatic. Unless they wanted to banish the whole of the Christian faith from the elementary schools they could not banish dogma. There was a strong conviction among many Members on his side of the House, and among many people outside the House, that, as education without religion was vain, so religion without dogma was impossible. Passing from that part of the question he felt himself obliged to accept the challenge which had been thrown out, and he desired to say a very few words in answer to it. From what the honourable Member for Nottingham had said it would seem as if he thought that the supporters of the Voluntary schools had always resisted any attempt to increase and improve the educational efficiency of our national system of education. As a matter of fact, it had been their constant aim, both by the sacrifice of time and money, to improve, as far as they could, the educational as well as the religious efficiency of their schools. He himself should certainly support, as he had supported, the Bill for raising the age of half-timers, and he desired to see it passed into law. The House must remember it had to deal with a nation which, after all, was not like the nations of the Continent: the people of this, country had very peculiar views, they were quite ready to be assisted and encouraged in the proper treatment of the children, but they would not stand being driven or compelled more than was absolutely necessary to do this or that in regard to their children. The statistics to which they had listened revealed an amount of child misery which was positively appalling; but 877 this was caused apparently, not by cruel employers or want of inspectors, but by the parents themselves, who subjected their children to this misery and barbarous treatment in order to get their earnings. It presented a very sad picture to him, and he could not conceive anything more painful. Yet it must be remembered that the people who employed their children in this inhuman manner were electors to whom they had given the vote. What they had got to do was to convince the conscience of the people that education was desirable and that they must not treat their children in this way. There was one thing he desired to say with regard to the pupil teachers. He trusted that nothing that had been said would be allowed to bring discredit on the pupil teacher system. The Report of the Committee as to the pupil teacher system showed that the supply suitable for pupil teachers was seriously deficient, at any rate, in the case of boys, and that, to quote the words of the Report, "the supply of pupil teachers for rural schools was a matter of increasing urgency," not because of the economic condition of the schools, but "rather because some of the best material for the teaching profession had been drawn from this source," and it was hoped that increased grants and larger stipends would offer some inducement to the brighter children to become pupil teachers. He trusted that honourable Members would try and put aside the matters which divided them so unfortunately on this subject, and would endeavour to make our education more efficient, as well as to prevent the horrible slavery which had been described.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said that in his opinion the hopeless defect in the whole system was the far too early age at which the children left school. It was perfectly hopeless to extend the curriculum unless there was made compulsory a longer period of school life. It was absolutely impossible to cram into a child of 12 years of age a knowledge of English history and physical science in addition to the other subjects he was expected to learn unless he could continue at school a few years longer, and no good result would be obtained until such a course was made obligatory; but in the rural districts work must be done 878 in the summer time, and in place of raising the age at which children might leave school to 12, they should allow children to leave school at the age of 11 in the six summer months on condition that they should attend school in the six winter months for two years longer. That was the principle adopted in Prussia and in many parts of the United States and Switzerland with much success, and he believed it would be of permanent benefit to the children. On the occasion of the last Debate on education he called attention to the reasons why Nonconformists were so greatly opposed to the religious teaching given in the Voluntary schools. The great mass of the Nonconformists of this country believed that all the essential truths of Christianity were contained in the Scriptures. They were all in favour of the Scriptural education of the children, but they strongly objected to the semi-Roman teaching now given in State-supported schools. They objected to their children being required to attend Mass and to adore the images of the Virgin Mary and the saints. According to the Vice-President of the Department, they could not prevent the setting up of these, images.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
asked the honourable Member if he could mention a single case of this being done in a, Church of England school.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said he had heard suggestions of something very near the practice, and he felt sure nothing but exposure in the House prevented these things from being done. As the law stood there was nothing to prevent the ritualistic clergy recommending the adoration of the Virgin Mary and the saints, putting up these images in the schools, and requiring children to venerate them. He appealed to the right honourable Gentleman to say whether such things were prevented by the Education Department or not. He had received a mass of material during the last year or two showing that the Voluntary schools were being used to teach the children Roman practices and to unprotestautise the country. There were instances in different parts of the country of Protestant children being compelled by the Department to attend Roman Catholic schools. He believed 879 that nine-tenths of the parents, if appealed to, would say that they required the religious teaching of their children confined to the Scriptures.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Order, order! How does the honourable Gentleman connect these matters with the Education Department?
§ MR. S. SMITH
said he connected them in this way. The Education Department presided over the schools of the country, and those schools received very large grants. Then, as to the position of teachers. Nonconformist teachers were becoming extremely few, and a few days ago he received a letter from the headmaster of a Voluntary school—
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
submitted, on a point of order, that the Votes were not charged with expenses of religious teaching, which, whatever it might be, were supplied from voluntary sources. If the honourable Member continued in that direction it would necessitate a reply.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
That may be, but the Education Department has no control over the religious teaching in Church of England, Roman Catholic, or other denominational schools, and therefore I do not think the remarks are pertinent to the Vote.
§ *MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
On a point of order, Sir, I submit that the Department has the right to withhold the grant.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
The honourable Member is mistaken. The Department has no power to withhold the grant if it is earned according to the conditions of the Act.
§ MR. S. SMITH
bowed to the Chairman's ruling. Proceeding, he desired to ask the Vice-President of the Council whether the Liverpool School Board was in order in teaching a catechism in the Board schools. He was under the impression that all catechisms of a distinctly religious kind were forbidden 880 in Board schools. So far as he knew, no such catechism had ever been taught previously. No doubt it was a catechism prepared by the Free Church Conference, and personally he quite agreed with every question and answer in it. Indeed, it might be used as a basis of Christian agreement. Nevertheless it was a departure from the spirit and intention of the Education Act.
§ SIR J. GORST
said there had been no new departure in the policy of the Department. Denominational catechisms were forbidden. He had not seen the book, but, judging from the description which the honourable Member had given, he should say that the catechism was not denominational.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said he understood that that was the excuse made for teaching the catechism, but he feared its introduction into Board schools might produce serious consequences and break up the national system of education. He very much feared that the final result of the present controversy would be that 30 years hence we should have drifted into a system of purely secular education. It had been said that the Conscience Clause was quite sufficient to protect the children against any unfairness. He had, however, received a letter from a country parson a few days ago, in which he said that he had never known it to be used. The whole country was being brought far below the educational level of the advanced nations of the world to meet sectarian prejudices, and sooner or later we should suffer greatly in consequence. We should not have badly-staffed, insanitary schools all over the country if it had not been necessary to meet the demands of sectarians. We were getting poor value for the enormous sum of £11,000,000 sterling we were spending on elementary education, and sectarian jealousies would never be swept away until we had a Government in power strong enough to set them aside.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said the Liverpool catechism, to which the honourable Member had referred, had been approved by distinguished members of the Nonconformist bodies, and such distinguished Churchmen as Canon Gore, and he should not be acting in accordance with his own feelings if he did not 881 express his opinion as to the great results which must follow from that most remarkable and almost historical composition. His honourable Friend who spoke from the opposite Bench a few moments ago commented upon the preference of parents for Board schools. His experience had led him to an opposite conclusion. He had found many cases where the National school had been crowded while the Board school hard by was not filled. He believed that the reason was that the parents of England placed more confidence in the National schools than in the Board schools. Reference had been made to the inferior condition of the Voluntary schools in country districts. The fact was, it was universally allowed—they would find it in Report after Report—that the condition of the Board schools in the country districts was eminently unsatisfactory. On the other hand, the average clergyman was anxious to promote the education of his people, and dedicated to his parishioners the benefit of the culture he had acquired. Coming to the question of technical schools, he remarked that in connection with the borough which he had the honour to represent he was associated with a work to build a technical school at a cost of not less than £30,000. In Lancashire and Yorkshire also much had been done in the establishment of technical schools, and it was within his knowledge that great disappointment had been felt by the necessity of teaching in those schools mere elements instead of the higher branches. He believed the consciousness of this great defect in the educational machinery would do much towards its removal. As a member of the Schools Association in the diocese of Ripon he wished to bear his testimony to the great benefit derived from the Act passed by the Government a year or two since. He thought there was one great defect in the Education Debate in the House, and that was that honourable Members did not seem sufficiently appreciative of the improvement going on. As regarded the association in the diocese of Ripon, they had been doing all they could to give effect to the Act and to take advantage of every opportunity offered them, and he rejoiced to find that great success had attended their effort. The schools had greatly improved in apparatus, general equipment, and sanitary details, greatly 882 altering the appearance and raising the tone. The salaries of the teachers had been improved, and he had reason to believe that they would be able to give a still further impetus to the work of education. Money, however, was by no means the main point. The Church schools in the diocese had been brought into harmonious co-operation, and were no longer living isolated lives. With regard to the question of pupil teachers, he said the present system was far from perfect, and great improvements were required. He was perfectly sure that if the Government in some day of great financial prosperity gave more money to the schools for the teaching of pupil teachers, the present state of affairs would be in a large measure improved. Meanwhile, it was a great satisfaction to know that, owing to the system of central classes, better opportunities were given, for the instruction of pupil teachers.
After the usual interval, Mr. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, Thirsk) took the Chair.
§ *MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
wished to address himself to the subject of the grievances of Nonconformists, particularly in the rural districts. He must admit that the strange speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council had somewhat dismayed him. The right honourable Gentleman was in office in the House, and yet apparently he was not in power. Ho had spoken, but was not able to act; he had given promises of action, or rather, one ought to say, bearing in mind the interpretation of the Colonial Secretary, he had made proposals of action, which had been simply over-ridden, overthrown, and ultimately withdrawn. The right honourable Gentleman had made a speech the other day in connection with the rural side of the education question, in which he spoke in terms of almost derision about the indifference of the rural population in the matter of both religious and secular education. He said that everyone knew that the greater part of the agricultural labourers were absolutely indifferent as to what was the teaching of their children in either secular or religious subjects, that the greater part of them never went to church or chapel, and that even the religious part of the rural population was extremely 883 indifferent on the subject of church or chapel. Well, that was an extremely harsh, not to say unjust, judgment, and he did not think it came well from the lips of the right honourable Gentleman, who expected to have his religious services found for him by the State, to criticise those poor people who were not very rich in material wealth, but who were always willing to maintain their own places of worship and to support their own ministers. He wished to draw attention to the method of distributing the grants-in-aid under the Act of 1897. It had been proved by the Returns that the contention made on that side of the House, that the money would go rather to the relief of subscribers than to increased efficiency of the Voluntary schools, was fully justified. The right honourable Gentleman, in answer to a Question the other night, said that there had been a very considerable diminution in the subscriptions to the so-called Voluntary schools amounting to £77,927. That was a very serious falling off, but when they came to look at it from the point of view of the subscriptions per head of the scholars in average attendance, the diminution was more apparent. In 1894 the subscriptions to Voluntary schools were 6s. 6¼d. per head; in 1895 they rose to 6s. 9d. per head, and in 1896 to 6s. 9½d., and then, possibly with the shadow of corning legislation on the minds of the subscribers, they fell in 1897 to 6s. 8½d., and last year they were only 6s. 1d. per head of the scholars in average attendance. None of them forgot that when the Education Measure of 1897 was under consideration the words "due regard to efficiency" were introduced into the Bill. But it seemed to him that efficiency was still to seek in those schools. If they looked at the Returns as to "warned schools" they would find that out of 30 such schools 28 were Voluntary schools. Again, if they looked at the Returns in regard to associated schools under the Act of 1897, they confirmed in a remarkable manner the view held on that side of the House, that the grants made by the Treasury had been used, not in levelling up the weak and ill-equipped schools in the rural districts, but rather in warding off the healthy action of public control and opinion in school management. The proportion of the grant-in-aid was fixed by the Department at 5s. 9d. 884 for town schools, and 3s. 3d. for the country schools. When they came to examine the Returns it was found that these proportions had not only not been maintained, but had been seriously altered in regard to the rural schools. He supposed it would be agreed to by everybody that the town schools were much more able to maintain themselves in an efficient condition than the rural schools, and they had not the same difficulty in maintaining the amount of subscriptions. The tremendous importance of maintaining additional efficiency in the rural schools could scarcely be over-estimated. What he accused the Department of was that they had practically connived at the method of distribution which gave to the towns the plums of the grant and left to the rural districts the merest crumbs. He would quote a few illustrations of this fact. In his own town of Ipswich there was a large parish of St. Mary Stoke, the school in which got from the special grant-in-aid £160. There were 540 scholars in average attendance, and that worked out at 5s. 11d. per scholar. There was another school, St. Peter's, which received £162 5s. 9d. for 505 scholars in average attendance, or 6s. 4d. per head. Now, take the adjacent rural parish of Wherstead—just outside the bounds of Ipswich; that school only got £5 for its 54 scholars, or an average of 1s. 10¼d. per head. That showed the method in which the grants had been distributed. Take another rural parish, Belstead, which got £4 10s. for 44 scholars, or an, average of 2s. 0½d. per head. Take another town in Suffolk, Lowestoft. St. John's School there got £164; the average number of scholars in attendance was 622, which gave 5s. 3d. per head. But there were two rural parishes adjoining, Mutford and Rushmere, which got £3 18s. for 87 scholars, or l0¾d. per head; and Somer-leyton, which got £5 10s. for 123 scholars, or 10½d. per head of those in attendance. There was the town of Stow-market, where the National school got £107 2s. The average attendance of scholars was 398, which worked out 5s. 1d. per head. In the very next parish, Haughley, the grant was £6 18s., which, with 139 scholars in average attendance, worked out 1s. per head. Another parish not far away, Monks Soham, got £1 12s. for 50 scholars, which gave the ridiculous average of 7½d. per head. 885 Take, again, Yarmouth, St. Peter's School got £305, and the average attendance was 544, or 11s. 2½d. per head. He did not know on what principle the grant was made there. Another Yarmouth parish, St. James's, got £256; the scholars averaged 602, and the rate was 8s. 6d. per head. On the other hand, when they went to the adjoining small villages, where really more money was required to render the schools efficient, the grants were as follows: Tritton, £2 9s., scholars 55, per head 10½d.; Wilby, £2 4s., scholars 50, per head 10½d.; Hevingham, £3 5s., per head 9½d.; and Oulton, £3 15s., 79 scholars, 11¼d. per head. Now, the Education Department laid it down as a general principle that the town schools should have 5s. 9d., and rural schools 3s. 3d. per head. The figures, which he had quoted from the official Returns, showed that that proportion had not been maintained, and that the rural schools were being robbed of the grant that they ought to have had. They showed also that the Nonconformists who lived in those rural parishes, and who were compelled to send their children to the Anglican school, which was a sectarian school, because they had no other choice, were being unfairly treated. They did not have the same class of teachers or the same efficiency of school, because they did not get the same amount of money as the town schools. He thought it would be apparent to everybody that those were the very schools that ought to have had a larger grant made to them rather than a smaller grant. He had taken the trouble to see what this meant in some of the counties in his neighbourhood. In Norfolk there were 21 schools, in Suffolk 29, in Essex 22, which had an average attendance of 30 scholars or less. When these figures were compared with the teaching staff employed in those counties, it worked out that in Norfolk 41 per cent. were pupil teachers and teachers under article 68; in Suffolk they were 41 per cent., and in Essex 35 per cent. This showed that in the small rural schools, where Nonconformists were obliged to send their children to the Voluntary Anglican schools, the teaching was of the least efficient character. He thought those figures spoke for themselves. Roughly speaking, he believed he was right in saying that the cost per 886 head in schools with an average attendance of 60 and under was double that of schools with an attendance of 120 and over. When they looked at the county of Suffolk they would find 36.7 per cent. of the schools had an attendance of 60 and less, and then they would see how badly they were being treated, and what a grievance it was to the Nonconformist who lived in the rural districts to have to send his children to such schools which were left by the Diocesan Association in this very bad state. He could not understand in the address winch was made by the right honourable Gentleman why he made no allusion whatever to the Act of 1897, and why he did not explain how it was that those grants were so various in their action. The Education Department, forced on by the Government, had been simply buttressing the denominational system so as to damage the existing School Boards and to prevent new ones being formed. He had authority for stating this in the case of the town of Huddersfield. Under the late Government it was decided to take steps to compel that town to build a new school in an outlying district. But what had happened since this retrograde-policy Government came into office? They had not only ceased to urge that the School Board should build that school, but they had absolutely declined to sanction the new school; and, therefore, they could only conclude that this decision had been come to on account of the interests of the neighbouring Church schools, which feared that their schools would be damaged. He wished to challenge the policy of the Education Department in this matter. They had a reasonable and just cause of complaint in another respect, and it was that Nonconformist children and teachers were unable to get fair play and liberty in regard to school work. He knew of one case which occurred in the county of Suffolk, near Sudbury, where a pupil teacher was dismissed for not attending the parish church. He was further informed that the curate called upon the parents of this pupil teacher and offered to reinstate their daughter if they would all attend the parish church.
§ SIR J. GORST
Will the honourable Member give me the name of the church and the particulars now, or would he prefer to give them to me privately?
§ *MR. GODDARD
said he would prefer to give them privately. He was told that the parents refused to go to the church because they were Nonconformists. The result was that this young girl was obliged to leave her home and go away from her parents to obtain a pupil teachership elsewhere. He had had one or two cases brought to his notice which showed that there was a great deal of compulsion and tyranny being exercised in regard to Nonconformist pupil teachers in the Voluntary schools, and it would not be difficult to state a large number of cases. They had a right to insist upon fair play. He did not know how far their powers went as to the withdrawal of grants, but surely they must bring some power to bear if such proselytising and sectarian dodges were not abandoned in those schools in the future. Something had been said about the training colleges, which, after all, were more sectarian even than the Voluntary schools. The amount raised by voluntary subscription in the case of the colleges was infinitesimal compared with the amount of public money granted in their support. He thought they ought to take this opportunity to ask the right honourable Gentleman to say whether the time had not come when the sectarian test imposed in these colleges should not be removed. It was nothing short of a scandal that, because the number of those colleges was so limited, and totally inadequate for the accommodation of the young boys and girls who desired to become properly instructed in the duties of their profession, in order to enter those colleges they were oftentimes obliged to become the nominal communicants of the Church of England before, they could be really qualified. With regard to the drawing grants he was told that they used to be 2s., 1s. 6d., and 1s. per head, according to whether the work of the scholars was excellent, good, or fair, and he believed that in most of the Board schools the 2s. grant was earned by the superiority of the training which the scholars received, whilst in the Voluntary schools they usually earn the 1s. 6d. and the 1s. grant. What had the Government done in regard to this matter? He understood that they had fixed an average grant of 1s. 9d., and the result was that the Board schools which used to earn the 2s. grant were now losing a large 888 sum of money Which they used to earn by the extra proficiency, while the inferior schools were gaining a considerable addition to their income, and the natural result must follow that the teaching of drawing would suffer because the pecuniary motive for maintaining its efficiency had been removed, and there was no incentive now to attain that proficiency. He wished to ask the right honourable Gentleman to grant a Return of all those Nonconformist teachers who were permitted to teach in the Anglican schools of this country. They had said that they were very often turned out of those schools, and the best way of satisfying the public would be that there should be a Return given of the numbers. He did not wish to detain the Committee at any greater length on those matters, which he thought required to be answered, for it was very remarkable that not a word had been said at all by the Department in regard to them. Many of them were not ashamed to acknowledge that they were Nonconformists, and they had a right to stand up and protest against the way they were treated when the education offered them was so inferior. They did feel that it was their duty to state publicly the very great injustice which had been inflicted upon those who did not agree with the Church of England, and as Nonconformists they could not be blamed for having on that occasion raised this point with the view of upholding the principles which they believed as Free Churchmen, and in resisting that method of dealing with them.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said there were one or two points upon which he should like to reply very shortly. It was complained that under the administration of the Voluntary Schools Act the grants were chiefly distributed according to the needs of the schools, and that those needs were judged by the associations themselves. It was perfectly understood at the time when those grants were made that they would be distributed not at so much per head, but according to the varied needs of the schools. It was impossible to judge the various instances which had been brought forward without a full knowledge of the local circumstances, and without a detailed inquiry, which it would be futile 889 to ask them to undertake. With regard to the administration of those grants, at all events, they had been administered as Parliament intended they should be. He agreed that the present condition of education in the country schools was unsatisfactory, and honourable Members were perfectly justified in saying so. They did not, however, make sufficient allowance for the great physical difficulties in regard to attendance at school which existed in the country districts. But even allowing for those difficulties, he admitted that the attendances were deplorable. In regard to evening continuation schools he thought something might be done to improve rural education in this direction, and if the Department would only draw the attention of the county bodies to their very varied action in dealing with continuation schools, he thought a great deal of good might be done by that action alone. He thought it would be useless in attempt to enforce better attendance by legislation, because they could not get the local authorities to carry it out. They wanted to reform public opinion upon this question, for there was a. widespread opinion among the agricultural classes that the education given in primary schools was calculated to unfit the children for a country life. At present what were the subjects taught to the children in the country? Besides the three "R's" there was usually geography and grammar taught. But in the higher standards, however, the children wore not taught to apply their knowledge to the facts of their daily life, and their powers of observation were not encouraged, and consequently they did not take a sufficient interest in the local pursuits of the country. A child was apt to leave school crammed with facts and figures and the names of towns and foreign countries, but with no knowledge which enabled him to appreciate more highly the advantages of a country life, or which would make him a more useful dweller and worker in country districts. That was an evil which they might very well confront. There was no doubt that the decreasing population of the rural districts was a very great evil, and they must take care not to aggravate it in any way by their system of education. He wanted the Education Department to consider how they could stimulate in the country 890 schools, even at the early age at which the children now left the school, branches of knowledge which bore upon agricultural pursuits. They were not even doing in England what was done in Ireland and in other countries. He had drawn attention to the condition of agricultural education in Ireland, where 85,000 pupils had been given instruction in agricultural subjects. He was aware that Ireland was an agricultural country, but it was not more so than many parts of England. In France agricultural subjects had been compulsory in the rural schools for many years past, and this was given to such a degree that the elementary knowledge thus imparted to the children inspired them with a love of country life, and convinced them that agriculture was more remunerative to those who practised it with industry and intelligence than was generally imagined. No doubt it would be said that France is better situated for agriculture, but he thought something more might be done in England if their children were better trained in this respect. There was one great difficulty, and that was, that they had not at present a sufficient number of trained teachers, and no time ought to be lost in seeing that proper facilities were given in the training of children to give them a knowledge of those sciences which bore on agriculture. It ought not to be impossible to provide at some of their training colleges instruction in agricultural science. He thought the South Kensington instruction in agriculture was unsatisfactory, for during the past five years the number of students taking up this subject had fallen from a total of 6,000 in the year 1893 to under 2,000 in 1897. That showed very conclusively that the teaching of this subject was very unsatisfactory, and the elementary science of agriculture should be taught in all our rural schools in preference to some other class subjects. He thought they should adopt some means of providing special teachers, because the whole system, of peripatetic leaching had been sadly neglected owing to the isolation of their country schools. The local councils were in a different position, because they could not provide funds for such a purpose to aid teaching in. the elementary schools. They could train teachers, but it was not part of their function to deal with their teaching in the day 891 schools, and they could hardly be blamed for not doing more. He thought the Government grant might be increased for such subjects as cottage gardening, and he was quite sure that if they wanted to strike at the root of the evil and make more satisfactory progress in this matter they would have to make their elementary education more popular among the agricultural population, either by such means as he had suggested or some such alteration as had been suggested by the Vice-President of the Council in lengthening the school age. By doing that he thought they would secure a more regular attendance, and also a better education, than by alterations in the law which were in advance of the opinions of the people.
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said that the Committee were indebted to the Vice-President of the Council for the part of his speech in which he drew attention to some of the defects of our system of popular education. The only regret was that his repeated demonstrations of those defects were not followed by the announcement by the Government of Measures intended to remedy the defects. The right honourable Gentleman had stated that the most serious defects were due to the irregularity of attendance, and to child labour. With respect to irregularity of attendance, his honourable Friend who had just sat down thought that it always would exist in country districts on account of the physical difficulties; but it was remarkable that some of the most extraordinary results in foreign countries as to attendance were where the physical difficulties were the greatest. Even in our own country, as, for instance, in some parishes in Westmorland, where there is a very heavy rainfall and a wet climate, and where long distances had to be travelled by the children, the attendance was remarkably good. He did not think, then, we could attribute the irregularity in attendance to physical difficulties. He had never been able to discover entirely what was the main cause of regularity in attendance in such parishes as he had mentioned. He thought it was almost entirely dun to a succession of two or three excellent teachers. Where there were good teachers, 892 there was an influence on the parent* which brought out a strong sense of the value of education, and their duty to their children in seeing to the regularity of their attendance at school. When once they had established that sense in the country districts, however great the physical difficulties, they would continue to have the satisfactory phenomenon of regular attendance. In the country generally, the average attendance was 81.66 per cent. for last year; but if they looked at the Blue Book, they would find that in a very considerable number of school districts the attendance was a great deal better than that. That meant, however, that in half of the school districts in the country the attendance was worse than 81 per cent., and that it was shockingly low over a large part of the country. When they had found means for improving the administration of compulsion by magistrates, and for producing a better sentiment in the minds of the parents, they would have gone a long way in removing the obstructions to the usefulness of our education system. He thought the right, honourable Gentleman had rendered, great service by calling attention so prominently to the terrible way in which, some of our little children were worked before school, between morning and afternoon school, and after, school. There were also many children on the school register who were sent to work, when they ought to be at school. The figures were very striking, and there was ample evidence that they were not complete. He had no doubt that his honourable Friend did not go beyond the mark when he stated that there were 250,000 children engaged in labour. The honourable Member for Stroud seemed to question some of the facts as to child labour, but he was afraid that it would be difficult for the honourable Gentleman to shako them. Indeed, he suspected that they were rather under than over stated. At all events, there was sufficient evidence of the great injury to the cause of education by the over-straining of thousands of young children, and their exposure to moral risks in employments in the streets. He was not sure that they were sufficiently impressed in the House since the compulsory law was passed in 1870 with a full 893 sense of their responsibility to the children to whom they applied that law. They were bound to do their best for these children, but how could they do their best when they allowed them to attend school so irregularly, to leave school so early, and even, when at school, permit them to engage in every kind of employment. He wished to direct the attention of the House to a point not yet mentioned in the Debate. There was one class of children in our schools who could not be effectively taught and trained by the existing system, or upon the scale of grants now given. He meant defective, or feebleminded children. A Departmental Committee was appointed in December 1896 by the Lord President of the Council to make inquiry into this subject. That Committee reported in January last year, and the Government had promised legislation on that Report. As the Session was now getting on, he desired the Vice-President to give a fuller answer than he had done earlier in the week to a question as to the legislative intentions of the Government on this subject. He was very anxious for the early introduction of the Bill. He did not suppose it would prove a contentious Measure, but it was a matter of pressing importance and necessity. What did the Departmental Committee report? They estimated that the defective or feebleminded children were 1 per cent. of the school population, in elementary schools, or 42,000 between 7 and 14 years of age in England and Wales. This estimate was the result of much experience and inquiry at home and abroad. The Departmental Committee did not include in that number either mere backward children, or idiots, or imbeciles, but—Only those children who are not imbecile, and who cannot properly be taught in the ordinary elementary schools by ordinary methods.Under sub-head of the Vote under discussion, they were asked to vote £18,600 for blind and deaf children under the Act of 1893. That law followed on a Report from the Royal Commission on the blind, the deaf, and dumb, issued in 1889. That Commission recommended—That with regard to feeble-minded children, they should be separated from ordinary scholars in public elementary schools, in order 894 that they might receive special instruction, and that the attention of the school authorities should be particularly directed towards this object.The attention of the school authorities was directed to the subject, but it was impossible out of the resources of the smaller school boards to establish such special classes. But in London, and in Leicester, the school beards had started such classes, followed by Birmingham, Bradford. Brighton, Bristol, Nottingham, and Plymouth. The cost of teaching such children as these was nearly double the cost of teaching ordinary children, and the only grant which was earned by the children in special classes was that which was given for infants. The reason for this additional expense was that it was absolutely necessary they should be taught in small classes by specially trained teachers, and under medical supervision. Now, he did not think it was necessary to argue with the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council, because he believed that would be pushing at an open door. But he might mention to the Committee that this would be productive expenditure, because experience showed that these feeble-minded and defective children, from the weakness of intellect and will, and the absence of training, lapsed more easily than others as they grew older into vice or crime, and recruited largely the ranks of the vicious and criminal population. Experience also showed, that, by means of these special classes, feeble-minded children could be educated and made intelligent and fit for the battle of life. Indeed, many of the children need only spend a year or two in the special classes, and could then be drafted into the ordinary classes. He ventured to urge on the Vice-President, and he was sure he would be supported by Members on both sides of the House, that there should be prompt legislation on this matter. He had only one other word to say, and that was, that they were carrying on the discussion under exceptional disadvantages. This was the first time in his recollection since he had been in the House in which they wore called upon to discuss the Educational Estimates without having 895 received the annual Report of the Department. Before the Report stage of this Vote was reached, it would be very desirable to have that Report.
§ *MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said he was more than surprised to find that the greater part of the evening had elapsed without anyone having discussed a social problem of extreme importance in connection with this question of education. It was remarkable that in England they had paid so little attention to the training of feeble-minded children with defective intellects, because few people could realise the harm done to the community at large owing to the neglect of such children who might be reclaimed, and who ought to be prevented, if not reclaimed, from doing harm to society during the remainder of their lives. Experience had shown them that a large number of those poor children might be reclaimed if they were separated from the ordinary school work and entrusted to specially trained teachers. Their retention in the ordinary school was harmful to other children, for they lent themselves to mischief and vice very readily, and they were a drag upon the ordinary work of elementary school teachers. He was glad to hear that the Government were contemplating legislation on this matter, although he did not know when the Bill would be introduced. Not being a contentious subject he thought it might have been introduced at an earlier stage, because all parties were cognisant of this evil. He expressed his cordial appreciation of the high educational tone which had pervaded the speeches from the Front Benches, and he only wished that a similar attitude had been more generally adopted in regard to what was certainly one of the most important problems with which they had to deal. Many people were tempted to sneer at their public elementary schools, but they should remember that they were dealing with the training of those who would command and control 896 that House, not in 30 years time, but in some six or eight years. He could not conceive of anything of greater importance, and he was sorry that they were still wasting their time in dealing with such comparatively trivial matters as that of the Flint comedy. They had had that comedy now upon the stage so long that it would not draw a good house, and the skilful stage manager would have removed it long ago. After all it was somewhat satisfactory to know that only the Camberwell and Flint cases remained to be settled. He hoped those cruses would take their exit that evening, for no substantial grievance had been made out. With regard to the startling figures brought before the House by the Vice-President, he was amazed that the Member for Stroud had thrown doubt upon the accuracy of the Return which had been quoted. The School Board in his own borough held that those instances were all of such an alarming character that they felt they ought to make them public. In their Report they devoted some few pages to instances of this nature, and he was afraid that the Committee did not fully realise what all this meant. In London a child who went on a milk round started at six o'clock in the morning, and he had to be at school at nine o'clock. Over and over again that child went into the school at nine, o'clock drenched to the very skin without a dry article on him, and he had to sit down to a three hours' course of teaching. That was cruel to the child, to say nothing as to the injury to his education. This was not always the fault of the parent, for the tradesman who employed the child very often kept him until the moment the school was opening. Very often a younger child of the same family would bring the poor little worker's breakfast just as the school door was opening, and he would have to consume it in the school. The result of this system was that such children never knew one hour of real child life, for it was crushed out of them; and it was not always owing to the 897 poverty of the parents, for he had known many cases In his own personal experience where the families did not require such support. Very often the contract made for the child's services was a very fair one, but it was systematically broken either by the employer or his men, and he desired to know if nothing could be clone to stop this practice. He thought very much might be done if it were not for the folly of the school attendance authorities, who would not enforce the law as it stood, and the objections of the magistrates or their inability to cope with the number of cases under their notice. Those children engaged in that kind of employment earned a trifle under one farthing an hour, and for that all educational work goes to complete rack and ruin, and not infrequently the end of it is the death of the child, or a serious illness irons which the child recovers with difficulty. Was the money upon education wisely spent when it was allowed to be frittered away in this manner? He was more and more convinced that a very large amount of the money so readily voted by Parliament for education, was being wasted owing in the utter folly of allowing leakages of this character. The subject was a very serious and patent one, and he most earnestly pressed upon the Government the necessity of carefully examining the returns which they had secured, and coming to a conclusion as to what was the best form in which to deal with the subject, and, if necessary, legislative proposals should be placed before the House of Commons for the protection of these children, in order that some prospects of a little gleam of sunshine in the life of those children might be secured, for they had been aptly described as white slaves. Turn where they would they would come back to this one fundamental difficulty, that until they got the schools of the country adequately financed, and until the Voluntary schools had the same financial treatment as the Board schools of the country, it 898 was useless to hope for any educational progress. A number of persons in the country required this education, and they ought to be allowed to have it, and as both sides were equally desirous to give it, why should they go on year after year discussing those comparatively small questions of disagreement which were keeping the work of education back? Surely they could devise some scheme upon which a common agreement could be arrived at. His Essex colleague, the Agricultural Cassandra, was, he thought, alone in believing that a little education was quite good enough for the children in agricultural constituencies. His own opinion was that too much education could not be given to children in rural districts, but children should not be crammed with facts and figures to be forgotten in after life. Education was for training the faculties and developing the intelligence, and he did not care what subject was selected to produce these results. They had nothing yet, either in the large towns or the rural districts, approaching a satisfactory system of education. It was not that all Board Schools or all Voluntary schools were bad. The fact was that in the large towns some of the schools were of the worst description, and in the rural districts some of the schools were of the best. He could name a Voluntary school in the county of Surrey admirably equipped and splendidly managed, which was entirely dependent on the charity of two ladies. He contended that no school doing the work of the nation should be dependent on the charity of private individuals. He knew very well that some Voluntary schools were admirably managed and were all that could be desired in that respect, but others left much to be desired. He regretted very much that in the Bill of 1897 Parliament did not make a bargain with the Voluntary schools and say that, in return for the money they received, they should be prepared for a modification in their management. He listened with 899 the keenest interest and sympathy to the speech made by the honourable Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. It was a pathetic picture, but true and accurate in all its details; and the same picture might be drawn with regard to thousands of Anglican schools. He ventured to put it to the Government whether the time had not arrived when they might not refer the great question of the means of adequately supporting the whole of the schools of the country, and placing them under proper management, to some Committee of Inquiry holding different political views, which might come to an agreement and afterwards make a strong and united representation to Her Majesty's Government. Whether that was done by the present Government or by a succeeding Government, he was confident that the country would not much longer tolerate the inferiority of the position they were bound to occupy owing to the lack of financial support for the poorest of their schools. To his mind it was to the interests of the children they had to look. He cared little about the management or the class of teaching employed, provided that the children were adequately trained to perform the functions they would have to discharge in after life. The honourable Member for South-East Essex suggested that the children in the agricultural districts were being fitted for the part they were to play in life. Many people appeared to imagine that agricultural children were rooted to the soil after the manner of turnips. With the advent of machinery and the large amount of land which was devoted to grazing purposes the demand for labour in agricultural districts was nothing like what it was 20 years ago, and consequently many of the children trained in rural schools were compelled to go into the large towns. Were they to be handicapped in the race of life by their earlier training? Even in agricultural constituencies the one thing which parents were keenest on was that their children should have a better start in life than they themselves had, 900 and they looked upon any proposal to make the rural schools of the country thoroughly efficient as one of the worthiest proposals any Government could bring forward. Too often the rural schools were in every respect ill-suited for their purpose. They were ill-lighted, ill-ventilated, and badly equipped, and should not be devoted to educational purposes at all. Then the staff often consisted of a mistress, with an assistant or monitress, and one or two pupil teachers. He had never been able to comprehend the position of many Members with regard to religious education. If there was one subject which required careful handling, it was the question of religious teaching. They might put an incompetent teacher to teach the number of capes round the coast, but when an incompetent teacher taught the sacred truths of religion to young minds the results were painful and startling. He should be sorry to see the religious lesson banished, but that lesson should be given by the head teacher. In many of the schools at present a child was taken from the fourth standard to teach Scripture to children in the first standard. It was a perfect force to pretend that that was religious teaching. Both religious and secular teaching was bound to suffer on account of it, and yet when a proposal to remove some of the pupil teachers and entrust the sacred work of religious teaching to adults the House of Commons said "No; relegate religious teaching to children of 15 or 16 years of age." Many a clergyman would regret that step, and would look with pain at the delay in arriving at a satisfactory solution of that great question. Everyone who knew anything of the state of affairs in the country knew how large a part was taken by Church of England clergymen, both in the management of Voluntary schools and as chairmen of School Boards, and he believed the great bulk of them were silently discontented that a reasonable proposal was not put before the House of Commons. He himself was so pain- 901 fully conscious of the importance of the subject and so deeply sensible of the terribly inferior position English schools occupied, that he could not refrain from impressing on the Government the necessity of referring the matter to some competent tribunal through which an agreement might be arrived at between the two great parties in the matter to get rid of the smaller School Boards, often inefficient though sometimes excellent, to widen the area of responsibility, to attract better men to the work of education, and to place the Voluntary schools under thoroughly competent management. He had been much interested during the last few months in watching the result where parents and ratepayers were associated with vicars and churchwardens in the management of a Voluntary school. The amount of subscriptions had been doubled, and greater confidence was shown owing to the wide range of persons directly interested. It had been stated that working men were not fit to manage Voluntary schools, but surely the men who managed friendly societies and had built up cooperative societies were qualified to manage Voluntary schools. He agreed that further money should not be given to the Voluntary schools until their management had been revised; but why should they delay? Why should child after child go out into the world unequipped while they were wrangling. He could not understand it, and ho ventured to press on the Government the urgent necessity for action, and he hoped the Debate would have the effect of compelling the Government, to deal with the question.
MR. H. ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said he had listened with great pleasure and satisfaction to the speech of the honourable Member for West Ham, who spoke with the knowledge of an expert. There was one remark of the honourable Member to which he, however, could not agree, and that was the statement that it was not of any great importance that the agricultural 902 districts were being rapidly depopulated. He felt that that was one of the greatest social problems of the day, and, unless something were done to make elementary education in the agricultural districts, more interesting, the Education Department would have failed in one of the most important of their duties. He had listened with great interest to the remarkable statement of the Vice-President of the Council with reference to child, labour, and he agreed with other honourable Members that sufficient importance had not been attached to the alarming facts which had been disclosed. He desired to direct the attention of the Vice-President to a matter of administration, which he had previously brought before the Committee. In a large number of districts a great, deal of friction was caused, a great deal of public money was wasted, and much injury was done to the cause of education by having two schools—a Board and a Voluntary school—established in a small rural district. He would give a concrete instance. In a parish in his own constituency there wore two schools. The population increased, and it was found that the accommodation provided by one of them—the Board school—was not sufficient. The School Board applied to the Education Department, but the Department replied that they could not sanction the plans for the increased accommodation required, because that course would be illegal as long as there was a single place vacant in the Church school. He ought to mention that the children in the parish wore overwhelmingly Nonconformist, and the education given in the Church school was inferior to that given in the Board school. In fact, the former school had been "warned" last year. Was, it not obvious that every Nonconformist parent would be desirous of sending his children to the Board school, not only on religious, but also on educational grounds? He entirely agreed that they could not make any real progress until they realised the absolute necessity of making every elementary school fully efficient in every sense of 903 the word. It had been said that they could not hope to look forward, at any rate for many years, to an agreement on the question. He was not over-optimistic, but he hoped to see the day when they could discuss the Education Vote without the introduction of sectarian and political considerations, which had done so much to mar the fruits of the discussions of the question in the past. The Education Act of 1897, which gave increased grants to Voluntary schools, had been the means of greatly aggravating the discord between the two classes of schools throughout the country, and especially in Wales. He was reading the other day in the "Manchester Guardian" a letter written by the headmaster of a Board school near Denbigh, complaining bitterly of what he called clerical influence being brought to bear on the children in his school to induce them to attend the Church school. That was going on in, Wales to his own personal knowledge, and as long as it continued he could not see how friction could be avoided. There was one other matter he desired to bring before the Committee. Intermediate education had been established in Wales, and they were justly proud of the remarkable results which had been achieved; but they would have been still more remarkable had the system of elementary education been more efficient. One of the great obstacles in the path of true progress in enabling the intermediate schools to fully fulfil the design for which they were established was the inefficient general standard of education throughout the country. He would like to press the Vice-President to grant a return of all Nonconformist pupil teachers engaged in Church of England schools. It seemed to him that if they had such information it might be the means of removing a great many of the difficulties which stood in the way of a satisfactory solution.
§ SIR J. GORST
The Debate has been maintained at so high a level in 904 respect of the real educational aspect of the question that I am quite sorry to recall to the recollection of the Committee the few speeches with which the discussion began, but I suppose it would be scarcely courteous to the honourable Members who made those speeches if I did not allude to them. The honourable and learned Member for West Fife was troubled with what he thought were my sentiments on the position of the Vice-President. The honourable Member said that he came into the House very late; but I am afraid that the honourable Member came into the House so late as not to be aware that I said nothing of my own with respect to the functions of my office, but that I was leading to the Committee from an Order in Council, which was, of course, not mine. Then the honourable Member for Carnarvon and the honourable Member for the Flint Boroughs made what they called an attack upon the Education Department for its partial administration of the law. The honourable Member for Carnarvon said that he was going to arraign me on a number of concrete cases, which ultimately reduced themselves to three. The first case was the old dispute about striking out last Session the Cuthill Road site from the London School Board Bill. That subject has already done duty in this House, but the attack on the Education Department was aggravated on the present occasion by the insinuation that on this particular matter I had not acted under the direction of my noble Friend the Lord President, but that I had acted under the direction of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich—a statement made without any foundation whatever, and which is the exact contrary of what is the fact of the case. The second concrete instance in which the conduct of the Department was arraigned was the Flint case. That case has done duty twice this Session. It was a lamentable case, but the only fault which the Education Department committed was in not allowing itself to be drawn into a local squabble. Then the 905 Education Department has been blamed because some Amendments in regard to pupil teachers had been cut out of the Code. It was not our fault that those Amendments had been struck out. It was the House of Commons which, by a considerable majority, carried an Address to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to disallow those articles in the Code. I made a speech in which I stated as clearly as I could the reasons why those articles were put in, but the speeches made on the other side by my honourable Friend the Member for Hampshire, and other honourable Members, appeared so to convince the House of the desirability of striking out those clauses that the Motion was carried. It was not carried by me, but by the House of Commons; and for the Education Department to be blamed because the House of Commons carried a Resolution against the Department seems to me a very great injustice.
§ SIR J. GORST
I did not make a concession at all. My noble Friend and I had no course but to submit to the judgment of the House of Commons.
§ SIR J. GORST
I made a speech to the House of Commons in which I explained to the House the grounds upon which those articles had been placed in the Code. It has been said by some people that that speech was very convincing; but however that may be, a majority of the House of Commons thought fit to pass the Resolution, and they must accept the responsibility of their action. Passing from that subject, there are a few things which have arisen in the 906 course of the Debate which I ought to notice. In the first place, may I say that I entirely agree with almost every word of the admirable speech of the honourable Member for North Birmingham, and I hope that the views he expressed, when they come to be considered, may commend themselves to the attention of the House and the country. With regard to what was said by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the University of London, the subjects which are taken as class subjects by the schools are not under the control of the Department; they depend on the will of the management, and, if elementary science has been taken by fewer schools during the past year, that is not the fault of the Department, but is the choice of the managers of the schools in question. But there is a fact which will a good deal explain that falling off. It is that the object lessons have been much more frequent in the schools than formerly. I am told that, although the number of Departments which took elementary science decreased by something under 500, the number of schools which took object lessons has increased by 13,500. I do not think, therefore, that the falling oil in the interests of the schools in elementary science is so great as the right honourable Baronet was inclined to suppose. Then the honourable Member for Nottingham asked whether anything would be done with respect to the arbitrary dismissal of teachers. I am sorry to say cases have occurred of very unfair and unjust dismissal of teachers, and I am quite sure some action will have to be taken to protect them against it. It was long contemplated by my predecessor, and the predecessor of the Lord President, that some kind of relief in this direction should be given to teachers, but neither they nor their advisers have ever yet been able to devise a satisfactory plan. But I have every reason to suppose that as time goes on some method will be discovered by which cases of wrongful and unjust dismissal, which, though they have occurred, I believe have been very 907 few in number, will be met. As to what my right honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeen said in his very admirable speech, I agree with most of it; but I do not agree with that part of his speech in which he charged me with not expressing my opinions sufficiently open in this House. I heard that with surprise, because my own Friends on this side of the House have generally found fault with me for being too outspoken. I can only suppose that in my extreme anxiety to correct the one error I was led into I have fallen into the other. However, I will certainly endeavour in the future to speak to the House with that candour with which I have always tried to speak. I have never tried to conceal my opinions, and I never will. Then the honourable Member for Flintshire has asked me about the Liverpool catechism. Well, that is a very difficult question, and I should be very sorry to express an opinion on a catechism without having an opportunity of consultation with my noble Friend the Lord President. The law is that no catechism shall be brought into schools which is distinctive of any religious denomination. I have not seen the catechism to which the honourable Member referred, and I know nothing of it except what I learned from the description ho gave of it. He said it was a catechism with which he agreed, and with which, he supposed, many honourable Members on this side of the House would agree. If that is so, I should certainly think it cannot be a catechism distinctive of any religious denomination. In one of the ordinary organs of public opinion I saw that one of the items of this catechism is what is known as your duty to your neighbour in the Church Catechism. I have always thought that your duty to your neighbour, as set out in the Church Catechism, is a description of the moral law to which even Socrates would have agreed, and if I am right in thinking that there is nothing distinctive of the Church of England in that catechism, that would be a perfectly proper thing to teach a child; but whether teaching 908 children by catechism is the best way of instilling doctrines into their minds or not is a matter for educational experts. With the liberality which always distinguishes the administration of the Education Department, we should rather leave a question of that kind to the School Board or the managers of the Voluntary school in question. All we have to do is to see that the catechism taught is not distinctive of any religious creed, and there our duty ends. The honourable Member for Ipswich entered into considerable detail about the administration of the Voluntary Schools Act, but his criticisms were fully answered by my honourable Friend the Member for Somerset. It was intended that the sums given to different schools should show very great difference, and that some schools should get a great deal of assistance if they were necessitous, and others which had not the same need of assistance actually none at all. It would be quite impossible to answer particular cases unless we possessed local knowledge; but if the honourable Member desires further information upon the question, I hope he will give me notice, and I will endeavour to supply it. Then the honourable Member quoted cases of tyranny over teachers because of their Nonconformity. It is not of the slightest use to quote such cases unless names and places are given. All I can say is that I have tried over and over again to get at concrete cases of these things, and I have not succeeded in getting them. The Committee will remember there was a Debate initiated by the honourable and learned Member for Carnarvon upon this grievance of Nonconformists being unable to become pupil teachers in Church schools. I said then, in a most marked manner, that I challenged anybody to produce concrete cases. The result of that challenge was that two cases were submitted to me. One was three or four years old, and the other was a comparatively recent one. I investigated both those cases, and in neither of them was there any foundation for saying that the 909 fact of the pupil teacher being a Non-conformist had anything whatever to do with admission or non-admission. I can recall the particulars of one of the cases. A girl applied for a situation as assistant teacher, and she said that if she could only get the situation she would be most happy to be confirmed and conform to the Church of England. She was put under instruction with a view to confirmation, but before the time for her to be confirmed she got a better situation, elsewhere. Then the honourable Member for Ipswich spoke of the Department showing extreme hostility to Board schools by averaging the drawing grants, and so giving less to the excellent Board schools and more to the inferior Voluntary schools. The object of what was done was to put an end to what is called payment by results, to give a uniform grant for drawing, as it is the desire of the Department to give uniform grants for all purposes. I can assure the honourable Member that nobody in the Department ever dreamt of such a thing as injuring Board schools in favour of Voluntary schools. The drawing grants were transferred from the Science and Art Department, in which the system of payment by results had prevailed, to the Education Department, which years ago abandoned the system of payment by results, and the change took place in order to bring the drawing grants in accordance with all other grants administered by the Department. The last question was whether I would give a return of the number of Nonconformist pupil teachers in the schools. I have said that the Education Department has no power to ask any teacher—head teacher, assistant teacher, or pupil teacher—in its employment what his oilier religious persuasion is. It is totally contrary to the whole practice of the Department to inquire into the religious tendency of the teachers who are employed in these schools. It would be a serious breach of the universal practice of the Department if such a departure as that were to take place, and one 910 which I think would give rise to a good deal of obloquy and a good deal of inconvenience. Now, I wish to say that I entirely agree with the observations made by the honourable Member for Somerset about the improvement of agricultural education. As I have said in the House before, I think the rural schools have suffered from the system which is applicable to town schools being trust upon them without sufficient attention being paid to their peculiar wants and conditions, and I shall be most ready to entertain any plan proposed. I may say that the attention of the Education Department has been given to this matter, and the desirability suggested of giving a more practical turn to the education of rural children—to give them something like they have in France, where boys and girls are taught by actual demonstration the principles of the constituents of the soil, the principles of manures, the kind of animals employed in agricultural labour, and as to the crops grown and the diseases and pests to which they are subject; and where the girls are taught as to the care of the farm yard, the mode of keeping the house, the mode of managing poultry, and everything of that kind. I think it would be an extremely good thing if something of that kind were introduced here. The honourable Baronet the Member for the Clitheroe Division has asked me whether we could postpone the Report of the Vote, because the Report of the Department has not yet been produced. I am told that in recent years the Report never has been produced before the Vote has been taken. What has been produced, and what has been produced this year, is the statistics. I will answer the question of the honourable Member for Denbigh on Monday. I need now only refer to the appeal made to me by the honourable Members for Clitheroe and West Ham, and my Friend who interrupted me about defective children. A Bill is in course of preparation, and shall be proceeded with with reasonable expe- 911 dition. It is founded on the Blind and Deaf Children Act. Perhaps it will be more convenient that it should be introduced by the Lord President in another place, but as far as the Education Department is concerned, we are quite conscious of the importance of that Bill being passed into law, and we will use every diligence to secure its passing.
§ Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The Vice-President of the Council has very truly said that a high tone has been preserved in this Debate. I have seldom listened to an educational Debate in which the speeches were more deserving the attention and admiration of the Committee. There was the speech of the honourable Member for Nottingham, and that of the honourable Member for Aberdeen, than which I never heard a more luminous, well-informed, or wiser exposition of educational policy; and there was the speech of the honourable Member for West Ham, and, I believe, although I had not the advantage of hearing it, a speech by the new Member for one of the Divisions of Birmingham. That speech the Vice-President specially selected for eulogy, and I think he did so in obedience to the peculiar topsy-turvy humour which distinguishes him, because I am informed that the honourable Baronet expressed doubts whether he ought not properly to vote for the Amendment, because the right honourable Gentleman had failed to do as much as he expected in the interests of education. Something has been said in deprecation of the introduction of religious controversy into this discussion. I deprecate it as much as anyone, but I deprecate more the existence of causes which make it necessary to deal with educational subjects from that point of view. So long as the educational arrangements of England and Wales stand as they are, with the peculiar position of the Church schools and the monopoly they enjoy in many large parts of the country in many parishes, and the sense of inequality 912 and injustice on that ground which undoubtedly prevails in many Nonconformist communities, we must always expect to have cases of the sort that have been dwelt upon. The only case to which I shall refer is the case we discussed 10 days ago, whether a certain alteration of the Code was summarily thrown overboard in obedience to a demand of the supporters of the clerical view of the Church schools. The right honourable Gentleman gave, in his usual style, a strange account of that proceeding. He said he had stated the reasons why the Department introduced the change in the Code, and it was the House of Commons, forsooth, that enforced upon him the excision of those new provisions from the Code. But who are the majority in the House of Commons? What was the line taken by the Government in that Division? The right honourable Gentleman himself took no part in the Division. He was content to introduce, in what he believed to be—and was informed by his technical advisers to be—the interests of the efficiency of these schools, this change. He was quite content to throw it away and walk out of the House—although he is the responsible person in the matter as far as we are concerned—at the bidding, not of the House of Commons, but of Her Majesty's Government, because before the House of Commons expressed an opinion he informed us that the Government had come to the conclusion that they must postpone it or remove it from the Code. The explanation of the right honourable Gentleman is inconsistent with the fact. But I will only say, on the whole case, that undoubtedly an immense impediment would be cleared away for the establishment of a more perfect system of education if all schools were maintained in this country for educational purposes and educational purposes only, and not for the support of any particular denomination. The right honourable Member for Aberdeen spoke about technical education, on which we are spending so much money, and pointed out that the success of 913 technical education does not depend on the technical school arrangements, but on the excellence of the foundation of education given in the elementary schools and the provision made for maintaining the education there given to the children. I now come to a matter not so much educational as constitutional, which the right honourable Gentleman has himself raised. It is the question of the right honourable Gentleman's own position. The right honourable Gentleman will believe of me, and of everybody in. the Commit lee, that there is no want whatever of personal respect for him. We all know that he is qualified by his powers of mind for the fulfilment of the duties of almost any position to which he may aspire in the official world. It is not our fault that he is not in a position where his powers of independent action might have full play. His views on education are well known; we approve of those views; but he has the strangest idea of his position. He gives no effect to his views, and yet he is content to still go on occupying his position. Frankly, I must say the right honourable Gentleman shows a strange lack of regard for his own personal dignity in so doing. It is, in my opinion, unworthy of him to continue in an office for which he shows his contempt whenever he speaks of it. We all know that when he speaks of the Department and of the President of the Council there is a hardly disguised ridicule conveyed to the House. Now, the right honourable Gentleman thought he cleared himself by reading the Order in Council which defines his duties—that he is to assist the Lord President and to act for him in his absence. He says that he has, to the best of his abilities, discharged those duties. The right honourable Gentleman knows perfectly well that he has duties not defined in the Order in Council relative to his Department, to the House of Commons, and to the taxpayers of the country. The right honourable Gentleman knows quite well that an Under Secretary of State has, in most cases, 914 very few positive defined duties assigned to him, and that when the Under Secretary represents his Department in this House he is expected to speak straightly and frankly the views of that Department, and stand by those views as if they were his own. The right honourable Gentleman will forgive me for saying that the difficulty that he finds himself in in his Department may be due quite as much to himself as to any part of the organisation of his Department. We remember, not long ago, when the right honourable Gentleman was Under Secretary for India, he made a. speech in reference to Manipur which was own brother to the speeches he has now delivered as Vice-President of the Council. If we were only to be amused by the wit and the ingenuity of the right honourable Gentleman the position would be pleasing indeed and harmless enough, but I confess that so light a view can hardly be taken of it. It is almost an affront to the House of Commons and an injury to the country that the great interests of education should be so treated as to be made a field for this somewhat undignified sport. Serious questions are raised without being adequately dealt with, and while we wish nothing but prosperity and advancement to the right honourable Gentleman in his career, it would seem surely to be time that some better arrangement for the exercise of his abilities were made than one which involves administrative discredit and a failure in the respect due not only to this Assembly, but to the great and sacred cause on which the future of education and the future and well-being of this country so largely depend.
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the Salary of the Vice-President of the Council."—(Mr. Herbert Lewis.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 155.—(Division List No. 107.)917
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Harwood, George||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Asher, Alexander||Hayne,Rt.Hn.Charles Seale-||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Asquith,Rt.Hn.HerbertHenry||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair,Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Baker, Sir John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Balfour,RtHnJ. Blair(Clackm.||Jones,William(Carnarvonshire||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHnSirU.||Souttar, Robinson|
|Billson, Alfred||Lawson,SirWilfrid(Cumb'land)||Spicer, Albert|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Lloyd-George, David||Strachey, Edward|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Burt, Thomas||McArthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Caldwell, James||McKenna, Reginald||Thomas, Alfd. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.)||Thomas, DavidAlf'd(Merthyr)|
|Gauston, Richard Knight||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Clark, Dr. G.B.(Caithness-sh.)||Morgan,W.Pritchard(Merthyr||Ure, Alexander|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Warner, Thomas CourtenayT.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morley,Rt.Hn.John(Montrose||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Duckworth, James||Moss, Samuel||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Williams, John Carvell(Notts.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, Henry J.(York,W.R.)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Paulton, James Mellor||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Gladstone,RtHn. Herbert J.||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Herbert Lewis and Mr. Goddard.|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Gurdon,Sir William Brampton||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Acland-Hood,Capt. SirAlex.F.||Doxford, William Theodore||Lowe, Francis William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lowles, John|
|Balcarres, Lord||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Balfour,Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r)||Fellowes, Hn.Ailwyn Edward||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW. (Leeds||Fergusson,RtHnSirJ.(Manc'r||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Finch, George H.||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Fisher, William Hayes||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Fitzgerald,Sir Rbt. Penrose-||Maclure, Sir John Wm.|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Fletcher, Sir Henry||McArthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Beach,RtHnSirM.H. (Bristol)||Flower, Ernest||McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Folkestone, Viscount||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Bethell, Commander||Forster, Henry William||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Garfit, William||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Bond, Edward||Gedge, Sydney||Milbank, SirPowlett Chas.J.|
|Brassey, Albert||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morton,ArthurH. A. (Deptf'd)|
|Butcher, John George||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Mount, William (George|
|Carlile, William Walter||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Murray,RtHnA.Graham(Bute|
|Cavendish, R.F. (N.Lancs.)||Gretton, John||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hamilton, Rt.Hn.Lord George||Northcote, Hn. Sir H.Stafford|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Pease, Herb't Pike(Darlington|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Hardy, Laurence||Penn, John|
|Chamberlain, J.Austen(Worc'r||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hobhouse, Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Purvis, Robert|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jackson, Rt. Hn. Wm. Lawies||Rankin, Sir James|
|Collings, Rt. Hon.Jesse||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Cooke,C.W.Radcliife(Heref'd)||Kemp, George||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Kennaway,Rt.Hn. Sir John H.||Ritchie,Rt. Hn. Chas.Thomson|
|Cornwallis,FiennesStanleyW.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lawrence,SirE.Durning-(Corn||Robinson, Brooke|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Round, James|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh||Lecky,Rt.Hn.WilliamEdw.H.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Leighton, Stanley||Shaw-Stewart,M.H.(Renfrew)|
|Daly, James||Llewellyn, Evan H.(Somerset)||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||LongRt.Hn.Walter(Liverp'l)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Stewart,SirMarkJ.M'Taggart|
|Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)||Wodehouse,Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Stock, James Henry||Ward, Hn. Robert A. (Crewe)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley||Webster,SirR.E. (IsleofWight)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Sturt, Hn. Humphry Napier||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.||Young, Commander(Berks,E.)|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Talbot, Rt.Hn.J.G.(Oxf'dUni.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw.Murray||Williams, JosephPowell(Birm.|
|Valentia, Viscount||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
desired to have the Vote held over in order to have the opportunity of calling attention to the important question of training colleges. He moved to report progress.
That the Question be now put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 153; Noes 63.—(Division List No. 108.)919
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Mount, William George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Flower, Ernest||Murray, Rt.Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Folkestone, Viscount||Murray, Col.Wyndham(Bath)|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn.A.J.(Manch.)||Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn.G.W.(Leeds)||Garfit, William||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gedge, Sydney||Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Staff.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Pease, H. P. (Darlington)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Penn, John|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Bathrust, Hn. Allen Benj.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beach,Rt Hn SirM.H.(Bristol)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Purvis, Robert|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gretton, John||Rankin, Sir James|
|Bethell, Commander||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Rasch, Major Frederic C.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bond, Edward||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Ritchie, Rt, Hn. Chas. T.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hardy, Laurence||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Robinson, Brooke|
|Butcher, John George||Hobhouse, Henry||Round, James|
|Carlile, William Walter||Howarth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Jackson, Rt. Hn. W. Lawies||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ryder, John H. Dudley|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Shaw-Stewart,M.H.(Renf.)|
|Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Kemp, George||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.||Smith, Hn.W. F.D. (Strand)|
|Chamberlain,Rt. Hn. J. (Bir.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm.||Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Corn.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Cochrane, Hn. T. H. A. E.||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lecky, Rt. Hn. W. E. H.||Stock, James Henry|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Hy. Currie||Strutt, Hn. Chas. Hedley|
|Cook, Fred. L. (Lambeth)||Leighton, Stanley||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey N.|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Heref'd)||Llewellyn, E. H. (Som'set)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Talbot,Rt Hn J.G.(Oxf'd Uni.)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lopes, Hy. Yarde Buller||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lowe, Francis William||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lowles, John||Webster,Sir R.E.(I of Wight)|
|Dalbiae, Colonel Philip H.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Whitmore, Chas. Algernon|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Daly, James||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Macdona, John Cumming||Willox, Sir J. Archibald|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Maclure, Sir John Wm.||Wodehouse, Rt Hn E.R.(Bath)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers||McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Doxford, William Theodore||McCalment, H.L.B. (Cambs.)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Duncombe, Hon. H. V.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Young, Com. (Berks, E.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Fergusson,Rt Hn Sir J.(Man.)||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Finch, George H.||Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J.|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||More, R. Jasper (Shropsh.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Morrell, George Herbert|
|FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Morton,A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Hayne, Rt. Hn. C. Seale-||Scott, Chas. P. (Leigh)|
|Asher, Alexander||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Baker, Sir John||Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHn.SirU.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Balfour.RtHn J. B. (Clack.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Souttar, Robinson|
|Bayley, T. (Derbyshire)||Lewis, John Herbert||Spicer, Albert|
|Billson, Alfred||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Sullivan, Donald (Westmeath)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Caldwell, James||McArthur, W. (Cornwall)||Thomas, D. A. (Merthyr)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||McKenna, Reginald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Clark, Dr.G.B.(Caithness-sh.)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferd.||Ure, Alexander|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Wallace, R. (Edinburgh)|
|Douglas, C. M. (Lanark)||Morley, Chas. (Breconsh.)||Warner, T. Courtenay T.|
|Duckworth, James||Morley, Rt Hn J. (Montrose)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgansh.)||Moss, Samuel||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Fergusson, R. C. (Leith)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Foster, SirW. (Derby Co.)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. H. J.||Pirie, Duncan V.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Lloyd-George and Mr. Strachey.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Grey, Sir E. (Berwick)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Harwood, George||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)|
Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ And, it being after midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.