Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding £701,861 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 Scotland, and for Science and Art in Scotland.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. G. MURRAY,) Buteshire
As has been the custom for several years, I propose briefly to refer generally to the results of our policy in educational matters. Hon. Members will notice that the total of the vote is £1,301,861, an increase of £19,994 on the year. That increase is practically accounted for under four heads. The annual grant to the day schools shows an increase of £11,038; the additional grant to necessitous school boards is £5,475; the Science and Art grant has risen £7,500, and the grant for training colleges has increased by £6,050. As against these increases there is a decrease of £962 for the evening schools and of £11,679 in the relief of fees. As far as the evening schools are concerned the decrease is an estimated one. It does not actually represent a smaller amount paid, because, as a matter of fact, the grant to evening schools paid in 1898 exceeded that of the previous year by £192. And, too, there is nothing to show any failing off or deterioration. The decrease of £11,679 in the grant for the relief of fees is due to the fact that a very large sum was available for this purpose under the Education and Local Taxation Accounts (Scotland) Act, 1892. I shall later on have probably to go more into detail on these financial matters; but for the present I will content myself with reminding hon. Members of the four possible sources of the fee grant: first, the 10s. grant; secondly, the £40,000 under the Act of 1890; thirdly, there are certain arrears which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to make up, and as to which my hon. friend the Member for Caithness has addressed questions to me; and, finally, there is the balance under the Act of 1892. Now I come to the increases. That in the grant for day schools is, of course, due to the natural growth in numbers and efficiency of the schools themselves, and so far the figures, I think, are perfectly satisfactory. The increase of the item for necessitous school boards is due directly to the action of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1897. It proved that the amount estimated for in the first year was insufficient. The increase in the Science and Art grant occurs mainly in 1364 connection with drawing in elementary schools; while as to the larger sum required for the training colleges, that has been made necessary by the increase in the number of students. It was found that the supply of teachers was likely to become inadequate, and accordingly the number of students was raised from 920 to 1,140. This is a subject on which there has been considerable discussion in past years, and as the hon. Member for Mid Lanark has frequently urged the necessity of an increase I suppose we shall have his support on this matter. I now come to another branch of the subject. The attendance in the day schools has increased by about 7,000; it is now 618,319, and it is satisfactory to find that the percentage of older children in attendance shows a slight increase. The results, judging from the returns coming in day by day, are highly satisfactory, and evidently the change we have made in giving prominence to the merit certificate as against the attendance certificate is having the direct effect of inducing parents to keep their children longer at school. In evening schools the average attendance is 52,340, an increase of 373 as compared with the previous year. The average school rate in Scotland in 1897–98 was 9.23d. as against 8.99d. in 1896–97. The total amount raised from the rates was £839,878, of this £410,280 was spent on the maintenance of schools, in the proportion of £392,543 on day schools, and £17,737 on evening schools, and most of the remainder was absorbed in the repayment of capital and interest on loans incurred in providing school accommodation a further sum of £36,685 was raised locally in the form of voluntary subscriptions—£30,938 for day schools, arid £5,747 for evening schools. I am glad to think that, although there is a slight decrease, the voluntary subscriptions are fairly maintained, and, whatever may be occurring on the other side of the border, in Scotland they are not appreciably going down. The grants for day and evening schools amounted to £716,415, which, with a further sum of £334,937 in relief of fees, and £12,316 the aid grant for Voluntary schools, give a total contribution from the Imperial Exchequer of £1,063,668, as against a contribution from local sources of £876,563. These figures, however, do not include the grant for science and art instruction in Scotland; and under this heading in 1898–99 1365 the sum paid was £60,826. Now for some details as to the general progress of education. As hon. Members are aware, this year, owing to the sweeping changes made in the Code, and owing to the fact that an educational policy has had to be developed in the matter of spending money on secondary education, has been a somewhat trying one. The new Code practically means the final disappearance of the principle of payment by individual results. I hope hon. Members will keep in view the fact that although that system may be said to be gone for ever, yet they will find in the gradual action of the Department some pledge that it will not be blind to certain risks which are necessarily run by the change. There are, indeed, very few changes made as to which it is not necessary to place something on the other side of the account, and no one can deny that there are certain dangers under the new system. The Department has shown by its reluctance to make the change hurriedly that its eyes are open to these dangers. May I remind hon. Members what the old system was? Under it no child could bring a grant to a school at all unless it made 250 out of 400 possible school attendances in a year. If he failed to make that number he could not be presented for examination, and his grant-earning power ceased. But if he made the qualifying number of attendances he could earn a certain grant for reading, writing, and arithmetic; on the way in which he passed in those subjects depended the amount of grant earned by him for the school. Besides that, there were a number of subsidiary grants for class subjects, such as discipline and elementary science, and these were paid on the average attendance of children in the class subjects; they were judged in the aggregate, and not as individuals. Beyond this, again, there were grants for specific subjects which were intended to cover the ground for higher education. These do not form part of the general work of the school. Each scholar, as he chose, took up two or three subjects, and the payment depended, not upon the stage reached on the subject, and not at all on the position of the subject with the general curriculum, but on the number of subjects that are taken up. Hon. Members will see that this plan, which I have summarised, 1366 had these various advantages—it necessitated individual attention to each child, because no child could well be neglected; if he was, he would not earn any grant at all, and if his progress was not sufficient he diminished the general financial interests of the school. Obviously, therefore, there was a direct incentive to the teachers to be satisfied that the child would pass the examinations. On the other hand, it had certain very obvious defects. It applied a hard and fast rule which took no heed of the variation of circumstances between the different schools. It is Very much easier in some places to have educational advantages than it is in others. Then, again, it was more or less a direct incentive to cramming, because the test of the school was the ability of so many children to get through the examination, and anything that got them through achieved the end desired, even if that end was not the best so far as the real progress of the child was concerned, while it ministered to the cramming. It is also rather discreditable to the progress of a clever and more active pupil, because, obviously, if you had a class which you wanted to get through an examination, as soon as you were satisfied that the pupils were well able to pass the examination you would not attempt to take any more trouble; they could be left alone with the knowledge they had already obtained, and the teacher's time would be more profitably, in a pecuniary sense, employed in bringing on the more stupid pupils. The higher education is conducted on the same lines, and necessarily the higher education encouraged rather a multiplicity of subjects than the development of a high standard of general excellence. All these matters have been felt, and accordingly for some time there have been steps taken by which the original system has been restricted. In 1886 individual examination was abolished for infants and the lower standards, and in 1890 the principle was extended to all standards, and remained solely for special subjects. The present code is the coping stone, and now the system of individual examination has been done away with, and grants have been made on average attendances. Besides that, the grants under the present Code are not to be paid in separate sums. The direct result of that will be that there will no longer be any temptation to 1367 take up a long list of subjects having regard to the curriculum of the school, and the test of the merit of the school will not be the way in which the scholars acquit themselves in a large variety of subjects; managers will now begin by considering the curriculum as a whole. They will draw up a curriculum, and that proposed curriculum will be subject to approval. Concurrently with that there has been an effort made to broaden the elementary curriculum, especially in the particular line—I have already drawn attention to it in the figures—namely, the introduction of drawing as a regular subject. Of course, there will be of necessity a minimum prescribed for the curriculum, but beyond this actual minimum circumstances will necessarily vary a great deal having regard to the circumstances of each school. Hon. Members will see that it is quite obvious the scholars are differently situated as they are in town or country, in a scattered or dense population, and it cannot be expected the education can be carried out on the same curriculum. When the curriculum is once fixed the grant is to be a comprehensive grant—a fixed amount on the general efficiency. It is necessary to recognise the course of education varies with proficiency, and accordingly a larger grant must necessarily be allowed in respect of a higher scale. One way will be, of course, to pay it according to the number of children in the higher class; but if you do that you at once give a direct initiative to the teachers to force the children into the higher class by the mere progress of time, irrespective of the fact of whether they are fit to go in any class other than that in which they are. Accordingly the Department considered the grand result and came to the conclusion that the best way is not to pay on the number actually in the higher class, but to pay in respect to age. Roughly speaking it will to a great extent correspond, although it does not do so exactly. Accordingly the rates have been fixed for children under seven years of age 18s., between seven and ten 20s., and over ten 22s. In order to check what might be the unfortunate result of cramming the grant may be reduced for special deficiency by 6d. or 1s., and may be increased for special excellence by 6d. Further grants are to be allowed for practical, scientific, and mechanical training, which it is not possible for all scholars to attempt, but 1368 that will be encouraged. The Committee will see that in order to carry out this system the arrangements for inspection roust be changed, and the Department had very carefully to consider how the inspection had to be carried out. In old days there was always an annual inspection. It was a fixed day, and it was known when it was coming on, and efforts were made to turn out well for the day. But after it had gone by they were not quite so strenuous in their efforts until another inspection came round. The result was that if a scholar failed to pass his examination he was still kept in his old place. That system is now altered; the inspector's visits are to occur at various intervals during the year. It will not be necessary when he does come for him to inspect the whole school at one time; he may inspect one part of the school at one visit and another part at another. He may then see the work going on and not examine himself, or he may if he chooses examine himself. His duty is to confer with the school authorities, and to learn what their difficulties may be, and give them advice. He is to receive a record of the work week by week, and judge so far as he can by the record how far the school has been successful. He will not expect to find under those circumstances pupils keeping step as it were from class to class, but altering their places in the class, the dull scholars remaining behind; and the efficiency will be judged not by the height which each scholar has reached, but by the keeping of all scholars at suitable work for each of them. Now I have said briefly that there are certain dangers in this, and one result of the new system will be to make very large schools a little lax. Anyone can judge of these matters, and I hope in that matter that the managers will exercise good judgment. Undoubtedly it is the wish and intention of the Department that nothing like laxity is introduced, and schools may be subjected to very severe tests: more severe tests than the ordinary tests may if necessary be applied. Probably in the first instance it would be sufficient to warn only, but if it is not attended to then it is within the power of the Department, and it is their intention to resort to very vigorous individual examinations. It does not directly affect the grant whether the persons pass on or not, but it has the result that it would be at once 1369 a very thorough test of whether the individual has been neglected or not under the new system. Now, I trust that, in general, these new provisions of the code will commend themselves to the educational sense of the Committee. In the complete change which has been made in the method of pay it is necessary to walk very warily at first. It is quite obvious that it is not in the power or the right of the Department to greatly alter by this change the burden that is being laid on the Imperial Exchequer. The object is more or less to make the burden the same, with, of course, capacities for expansion that should always exist through persons taking proper advantage of the system. But still I think the Committee will see that to a certain extent the re-fixing of the precise sums which may he earned under this new system is, so to speak, a matter for trial. The Committee will notice that in order to avoid any possible mistake that may have been made, the operation of the new code, so far as the payment is concerned, is postponed for a year, i.e., nobody will be paid under the provisions of the code until after the beginning of 1900, and the department will certainly very carefully watch the statistics of the year, so that before the payment has been actually made, there will, as a matter of fact, be another code. If the Department, through the better statistics they have got by that time, see that, with due regard to the general burden on the Treasury, they can in safety somewhat increase the various grants, then they will certainly do so in the code of next year. But it is absolutely necessary to move cautiously at the first. Then there is another feature of the code of great interest. I mean that which is embraced in chapter 9, dealing with the provisions for the secondary departments in elementary schools. Those provisions are part of the general system put forward by the minute on Secondary Education. The admission to these schools is to be entirely through the portal of the merit certificate. It is the great object of the Department to tempt parents to keep their children at school in order to get the merit certificate, rather than allow them to be content with the labour certificate, and having got that, to think that they have done all they need to go away. Under chapter 9 in these higher-grade departments there are very large grants pro- 1370 posed ranging from £2 10s. to £4 10s. in certain circumstances, and this the Department look upon, from the Treasury point of view, as an equivalent, for Scotland long remained, as England did not, under the 17s. 6d. limit.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
Oh, yes; everything is subject in Scotland to the 17s. 6d. limit. This leads me to the other topic of interest peculiar to this year, viz., the Minute of the 27th of April, 1899, for the disposition of the money under the Local Taxation Act of 1898; and here, in order to make my remarks intelligible, may I remind hon. Members of the history of this secondary matter? They will remember that this £60,000 for secondary education was provided by the Education and Local Taxation Account Act of 1892, to be distributed according to the Minutes of the Education Department. Well, a Minute was accordingly promulgated in August, 1892. That Minute, in brief, provided for the establishment of committees on secondary education—what I may call local committees—and it proposed that these local committees should make reports to the Education Department, and should propose what institution within their hounds should be subsidised out of this money. Well, that, too, had been heralded by a Memorandum, and owing to certain representations made a departmental committee was appointed, of which Lord Elgin was chairman, and the departmental committee reported in favour of that scheme. Accordingly, there having been a change of Government in the meantime, there was a minute promulgated on the 31st of January, 1893, which, for all practical purposes, was just a repetition of the minute of 1892. Then certain representations were made in this House, with the result that the Minute of January, 1893, was superseded, and instead of that there came the Minute of the 1st of May, 1893, and the Minute of July, 1894, the result being that instead of leaving the administration in the hands of the Department it reversed the process, and made the money to be divided among these committees in such proportion as the Department might determine. Afterwards there were the minutes of 1896 and 1897. As hon. Members 1371 knew the policy which was initiated in 1893 so far changed the policy of 1892 that the scheme became a committee scheme instead of a departmental scheme. Now, there has been six years' experience of the working of the system, and, speaking generally, certainly one result has been to leave the higher class schools, which were recognised under the Act of 1872, out in the cold, while the money has been taken over by the county and borough committees. I have had no occasion particularly to criticise the action of that committee. Far from it. On the other hand, anyone who considers the position of county and borough committees will see that what they have done was almost necessarily the result of those circumstances, and for one or two reasons. The most obvious reason was, that if you divide the money among various counties and boroughs, the county that gets the money says, "Now, then, where shall we spend it?" Obviously, they say, "We will spend it within our own borders." It might be, and in fact it was in a great ninny cases, that the county had not within its own borders a proper secondary school at all. Accordingly, in cases like that, it was almost forced to give the money to the higher department of a primary school. Then you have what may be called a more indirect tendency. Suppose a school with a higher department in one county got aid from the county, because there was no proper school to which to give it, and there was another school just over the border and in the jurisdiction of some other county committee, practically constituted exactly as the other school was with a higher department, it was most obvious that that school should say, "Well, why should not we be treated exactly the same as the school over the boundary is treated?" forgetting, very naturally, that very likely the School Board might perhaps with great educational advantage have had all the money instead of practically sharing. There was another natural temptation—that if you concentrate the money you only relieve the School Board in the district in which that money is concentrated; whereas if you diffuse it, you have the effect of relieving a great many more School Boards than one. Accordingly, so far from blaming the county committees, I think the tendency has been for those county committees to show those ten- 1372 dencies which they were bound to show under the circumstances in which they existed. At the same time, I do not think that educationally there can be any great doubt as to the result. The result has undoubtedly been that the money has been delivered practically in driblets, and very often failed to achieve its proper result. The result has also been that one or more very deserving classes of schools for carrying on the secondary education of the country have been left out in the cold—not that they did not get anything at all, because, for instance, those particular schools to which I referred certainly got something, but that they have not got sufficient monetary provision to do all that they might do. Seeing that it is really for the benefit of the secondary education of the country that proper secondary schools should have further assistance the Department in this case felt it necessary not to divide the money upon the principle of the Minute of 1893, but rather to revert practically to the principle of the Minute of 1892. It has been suggested—"Oh, if you think that is the better plan, you might have done away with the Minute of 1893 altogether." That would have been a very strong step, and it would have been one which the Department undoubtedly could have employed. It could have intimated a censure upon the work of the committees, but it recognises that although there may have been some points worthy of criticism, at the same time there has been really good work done by these committees. It seems to be thought by some that this reverting to the Minute of 1892 implies a vote of censure upon the county committees, and that it is minimising their usefulness and not taking advantage of their usefulness. That is certainly not the intention of the Department, nor do I think it is quite a fair inference from the Department's action. I have already tried to show that what I may call the weakness of the present system is a necessary weakness; it is really a corollary of the plan of beginning by dividing the money according to area and valuation and parcelling the money out. So far from casting any slur upon the county committees, this particular Minute with which I am now dealing proposes to utilise the services of these committees, because it proposes that every scheme which is submitted by any educational authority to the Department 1373 shall be subject to the suggestions of these committtes, and that accordingly we are to have the result of their experience, they knowing from their own schemes as well as the Department what are the provisions for secondary education in the districts with which they have to do. Before I depart from this, may I inform the Committee that in the Minute of 1899 there was a slip in the phraseology, which we have amended by a new Minute. In paragraph 5 it is said:Each such school shall forward before the 1st October, 1899, for the consideration of the Department through the county committee on secondary education, etc.Now the word "county" will not do, because there are more than one sort of committee. There are county committees and burgh committees. But even "county and burgh" will not do, because sometimes there is a secondary education committee for a parish. Therefore the alteration is this: In the Minute which has been promulgated it is ordered that the paragraph should read as if the word "county," wherever occurring, were therefrom omitted. It is quite enough with the word "county," as it is then simply "the committee on secondary education of the district," which is an appropriate reference. That practically ends the remarks I wish to inflict upon the Committee at the present stage. The intention of the Department has been to try with this new money to supply the deficiency which was left by the natural tendency of the administration which has so long existed. It will in future carefully watch the results, both which are got from the existing system and from the new system now inaugurated. From those results we hope the time will come when it will be possible to reorganise the whole system and put it upon a proper basis. But we thought it would be a very foolish plan at this present moment, without the assistance of this experience, either to shut our eyes to the educational disadvantages which are the necessary concomitants of the present system, or, because we felt those educational disdvantages, to have swung so far the other way as to have with a ruthless hand destroyed the present system altogether and swept away the county committees. We think it would be much safer to proceed as we have done in this matter of the Minute of to-day, and leave to the future, with our experience modified and broadened as it 1374 will be during the next few years, the putting of the whole system upon what may then perhaps turn out to be a broader and more logical basis.
§ *MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
There are three matters to which the Lord Advocate has referred in the statement he has made—a statement certainly not too long for the importance of the topics with which we have to deal. Those are, the promulgation of the Code of this year, the matter of educational finance in Scotland, and the question of secondary education. On the changes in the Code I am bound to say that, so far as my experience goes, I have been led most heartily to approve of the action of the Department. On the subject of the finance, I confess I retain the state of mind that I was in a few years ago, when the whole matter of our educational finance was settled upon a footing which we thought highly unsatisfactory and unfair. On the question of secondary education, and the allocation of these new grants, I confess that, so far as I have seen, my mind is completely hostile to any interference with our existing system as is proposed. It appears to me that the limitation of secondary grants is a limitation which will cut out the recognition financially by the State of the most excellent and highly valued work that is done in large districts in Scotland in the interests of secondary education by secondary departments of ordinary schools in districts where it is utterly impossible, owing to the sparseness of population or other causes, to have fully equipped secondary schools. On these topics the Committee will excuse me if I deal as briefly as I can—and yet at some length—with them in detail. On the matter of the Code, I have already said that I am thoroughly in sympathy with the action of the Department. There are three periods in the history of the subject. Under the old parochial system prior to 1872 the general interests of the school were apt to suffer for the sake of the schoolmaster's fancy pupils. Then in order to get the better of the fancy system which obtained when the old teacher was lord and master of the whole position, there came the Statute of 1872; and just as the former legislation erred on the side of laxity, so, I fear, the codes subsequent to 1872 erred on the side of undue rigidity, for it was set forth that each 1375 child should pass an examination to the satisfaction of the inspector. I entirely approve of what the Lord Advocate has said upon this matter, that under the circumstances the Department were justified in doing what they did. Now the whole system of individual examination is practically at an end, and I must say that I think, in this Committee, we ought, on our own responsibility, to re-echo the remark of the Lord Advocate with regard to the new and very grave responsibilities which now fall upon the inspectors in Scotland in consequence of this great change. I have no reason whatever to distrust the inspectorate in Scotland which has had a most distinguished history. I hope this change will be a success; but it can only be a success if the inspectors in the discharge of their duties recognise that they are the servants of the State, and decline to lean either towards the teacher on the one hand or towards the interests of the ratepayers on the other. They are the servants paid by the Imperial Treasury, and their duty is to make a report which shall be irrespective of local or personal interests, and in accordance with Imperial demands. The State relies upon this being done, and if that result should ensue I think it will practically be a complete educational justification of the change. On the matter of finance I am bound to say that I have not derived very much satisfaction from my right hon. friend's statement, for we have no light thrown upon the subject by him further than is found in the Estimates for the year. What we, as Scotsmen, having in view the requirements of Scotland, are anxious to know is how does this educational budget compare with the English grants given in recent years? I will try to make this point perfectly clear. When the Act of 1897 was before Parliament the Committee will remember that I very strongly challenged by an adverse vote the proposed grant for voluntary schools in Scotland, and the reason for that was that it was the best pronouncement in the way of protest we could make against the deficiency of the amount which was being allotted to Scotland. But time has gone on, and it now appears that the figures I then gave have been more and more justified in succeeding years. I find that the contrast which we then initiated was a contrast between the pro- 1376 posed legislation for England under which £800,000 was to be granted to the voluntary schools and the necessitous Board schools in England. Upon the calculation of the equivalent grant to which we have been so long familiar, on the principle confirmed by successive Chancellors of the Exchequer, we were entitled to an equivalent sum of £110,000 a year. Instead of that we got a sum which left a deficit of £52,000 a year due to Scotland. I remarked at the time that Scotland would be in a situation under which she would be deprived by this proposal of a fund which would have fallen to it at the rate of £1,000 per week. I find that the result more than confirms the estimate I then made. Instead of the sum of £800,000 having been given to England, the sum of £833,000 has been paid, which is more than England expected. But so far as I can wade through the figures only £54,000, instead of £110,000, has been awarded to Scotland, while even upon the reckoning of the items embraced by the Lord Advocate in his statement we were promised £80,000. Take one instance only. The Committee will remember that one great point which was made by the Government of the day was that Scotland need not complain because she was to get an allowance which was to make up a capitation grant of 12s. per head per scholar in Scotland instead of 10s., and that under that allowance she would receive the sum of £26,000 a year. Of course we protested strongly against that statement as one in which some incomprehensible fallacy lay, but we were met by an absolute denial on the part of the Government. Now, how do the facts stand on the present estimate? Why, instead of £26,000 winch was to come to Scotland, a sum of only £5,000 has been paid over, and Scotland has been deprived of the sum of £21,000 a year upon this single item. I am bound to say that I hope all the Members for Scotland, irrespective of party, will support the view which I venture to lay before the House—that, however you look at the figures, it is manifestly clear that Scotland has been deprived both of what she was led to expect under the doctrine of the equivalent grant and what she was pledged to receive on the statement of the responsible Minister of the Crown in 1897. We had to submit to this, and what I did expect from the Lord Advocate was that, in answer 1377 to the questions Which have been put to him more than once, he would have made it clear that there was ample justification for this deficit. In point of fact, it rather appears on the whole figures that, instead of there being a deficit of £52,000 a year, the deficit will probably at least be £60,000 a year. So far as I am concerned, I feel bound to denounce the action of the Government for putting Scotland in the position of having to look upon the doctrine of the equivalent grant as hopelessly gone. I say so with the greatest sorrow and regret, for it is perfectly clear that under the present régime we have entered upon a period when Scotland can no longer expect the doctrine of the equivalent grant to be applied to her. And it is surely clear that this Government, having done so much for education, is bound to retrieve the fortunes of Scotland in the direction of a generous apportionment in respect of secondary education When that time does come I hope we shall say with one voice that, recognising the abolition by this Government of the doctrine of the equivalent grant, and recognising that notwithstanding that we continue to contribute our full share to the Imperial revenue, Scotland shall be dealt with on a generous and satisfactory scale, and above all that we shall not limit our claims to what obtains under any system existing south of the Tweed. Some years ago when this matter of the equivalent grants came to be dealt with we were all of one mind. The Scotch Education Department were of the same mind as ourselves, and one of the Minutes was to the effect that when the new grants came to be made in England Scotland might justly expect that she would be treated upon the eleven-eightieth scale. But the Scotch Department did not know, apparently, the straits to which the Government would be reduced in the matter of finance, or the scurvy treatment which would he meted out to Scotland when she came to be dealt with. I venture to recommend to my fellow Members that we ought, if possible, to so arrange Scotch educational finance that the secondary, and if possible the university, system should obtain the payment of fees, and that the benefit of this grant should be given to Scotland in this respect. In the views which I have formerly laid before the House I have urged that the merit certificate should crown the free 1378 elementary course and be a passport to free secondary instruction, and I am very glad that the grant has now so far reached that position, because the main features of the changes during the past year were the fixing of the standard of the merit certificate as a satisfactory outcome of an elementary school course. So far we view the action of the Department with satisfaction. But I observe there is a still further step taken on the lines of my own recommendations. I refer to the merit certificate being regarded as a passport to secondary education. Lord Balfour, in a most interesting and powerful address he delivered at Paisley on September 14th, 1898, put the matter very simply when he said that the real aim of the Department was to make the merit certificate open the door to secondary education, and I find in the Report of this year it is stated that, while the merit certificate is to be taken as evidence of the satisfactory completion of an elementary school course, it will also serve for the purposes of an entrance examination for all pupils who propose to enter fur higher education, and that it will be regarded as a test of fitness to profit by such instruction. We have now a guarantee that secondary education in Scotland will not be given to dullards and those unfitted to receive it, and that the merit certificate will be the passport to it. My second point has not yet come, but I hope it will before many years. That is that the State should take on itself courageously the responsibility of providing free secondary instruction. My noble friend the Secretary for Scotland has very nearly found salvation in this matter. He is just shivering on the brink, and is only afraid to launch away. He says in his Paisley address:We wish to make secondary schools available for all whose circumstances and whose talents make it expedient they should take advantage of them.That is exactly the position of all parties in this House, and also I hope in another place. Lord Balfour proceeds:There is no difference as to the end to be aimed at among those who take an interest in the subject, hut there is a difference as to the means. Some, as I have indicated, say that we should do it by making such schools universally free. This is a view not without its attractions. But, looking at it as a practical question, I am not prepared either on behalf 1379 of myself or of the Government to give any adhesion to the doctrine of free secondary education.I am surprised my noble friend treated this as a new doctrine. It is a doctrine three centuries old, and in Scotland we have long been familiar with the idea that secondary education was not to be the privilege of the higher classes in the community, but was to be the privilege of every student in every rank of life. I find that that is the idea of the Secretary for Scotland himself, because in another passage in the address to which I have referred he says:We have in late years done much in the way of making education free. Some desire we should go still further.and in another passage he says:Just as in elementary education the State made a limitation of fee a condition of grant long before it made the abolition of fee a condition, it would seem not unreasonable that in secondary education it should be said that one condition of a grant should be a limitation of fee to a sum which can fairly he faced by a middle-class parent.Why "middle-class parent"? Why should not the humblest in the land who contributes to the Imperial Revenue be able to have secondary education, not by a limitation of the fee, but by the abolition of the fee being made a condition of the grant? I would remind Lord Balfour that in elementary education the first step was limitation, and it was followed by abolition. As regards secondary education he is prepared to go as far as limitation, and with one short step further we should have abolition in the very near future. It is not a question of money, because we would have plenty of money if we had our due, and even with what we have if it were properly administered. I know there is a social prejudice against secondary education, but that prejudice is unworthy of the traditions of Scotland. I would remind the Committee of an utterance of a Lord High Chancellor of England—Lord Brougham. He was a pupil of the High School of Edinburgh. There was not this social prejudice in his time, and the children of the highest and the lowest ranks of society were educated together. That he considered made the school invaluable. This is his own language:There they were, sitting side by side, giving and taking places from each other, 1380 without the slightest impression on the part of my noble friends of any superiority on their parts to other boys, or any ideas of inferiority on the part of other boys to them.I hope the mind of Scotland will become familiar with the idea that every class of society is entitled to the privilege of free education, and that we shall not keep the humblest class in the country out of our secondary institutions. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, and that is that Scotland is, in spite of the slowness of the Education Department, gradually getting free secondary education, because money is being granted for the purpose by the county committees, many of them representing populations of the poorest character. The Elgin and other County Committees give a direct subsidy to certain schools on the condition that free secondary education is given. Over and over again we find county committees out of the slender means at their disposal endeavouring to secure free places all over Scotland in secondary institutions. Now that the Secretary for Scotland is near salvation on the one hand, and the county committees are doing so much on the other, I hope the time is coming when Scotch Members, irrespective of party, will join in urging the Government to reorganise secondary education in Scotland on a generous scale of payment in the interests of the whole country. My last point is, Where is this secondary education to be got? and here I find myself in opposition to the proposals of the Government. On the 27th April, 1899, the Scotch Education Department issued a Minute which stated:The remainder of the balance available under this section shall be applied in aid of such high-class secondary and technical schools as are not in receipt of grants under the Scotch Code.I wondered whether it could really be the intention of Her Majesty's Government to disfranchise so many schools and localities, but it now appears that our construction of the Minute was unhappily only too true. The right hon. Gentleman's explanation is that there is so little money to give, and that there is a tendency to diffuse it by the county committees, and that in many cases where money was given the committees had no proper secondary schools at all. He said further that the Minute was not a vote of censure 1381 on the county committees. No, it is not a vote of censure on the county committees, but it is a very severe vote of censure on the schools throughout Scotland of the most excellent kind, particularly in the northern counties, which have secondary departments doing most admirable work for education. The censure is not on the county committees, but on the schools. I hope this Minute is not yet beyond the stage of further consideration. It is impossible in counties such as Ross and Inverness, where the population is extremely sparse, to draw a circle and make in the centre a secondary education school. You are bound to take circumstances as you find them. Large tracts of the country have a very slender population, and, instead of encouraging secondary schools in large centres with more grants of public money, it would be a wiser distribution of money to give greater encouragement to the secondary departments of schools in the poorer and more sparsely populated districts. I hope that this extension will not continue, and that Her Majesty's Government will see to it that this grant is distributed, as in times past, not where inefficient education is given, but wherever efficient education is administered. There are in the elementary schools of Scotland 6,000 children above the age of 15 who all pay fees, except under the county committee arrangement. Why should not the Government have the courage—they have plenty of money—simply to sweep away the payment of fees in all schools whatever, be their character primary, higher grade, secondary, or technical? Everybody in Scotland seems to be agreed upon the subject, and the Educational Institute of Scotland have taken a strong line on the matter. They say that by continuing the grant to the secondary schools an injustice would be inflicted on the higher department of the primary schools, more especially in districts where secondary education is only available in the ordinary public schools. I say that that observation is justifiable, and I hope that the result of this discussion will be that the Government will recede from its absurd position. When one looks though these reports, and turns to the financial statement furnished with them, as to the grants, duplicated and reduplicated as they are, one finds that in this matter of Scotch education the confusion is almost inextricable; and I do 1382 not wonder that the local authorities, looking through the Minutes of the Department, are hampered in the administration of the moneys which reach them from the Treasury. We must have legislation to endeavour to bring order out of this confusion, under which is concealed the great loss which the nation is annually sustaining even in the matter of pure finance. When that day dawns I hope it will not be forgotten that Scotland has not been treated very handsomely in the grants—equivalent or corresponding, if you like to call it so—in past years. I hope, further, that in any settlement of Scotch education following on this Code the Government will, if possible, keep in its secondary departments the rate of advance which Scotland has had over England in primary education. The contrast between the English and the Scottish system is most striking. In a poor country like Scotland our school teachers are a far better paid class than they are in England. They receive at least £20 per annum more per head than in the richer country of England. Scotland, poor as it is, and sparsely populated, is willing to pay, all overits land valuation, no less than ¼d. in the pound for its schools. I wish the same could be said of England. Again, in Scotland we have been extremely loyal to the representative system. I would put the contrast thus. For every five Voluntary scholars in England there are four Board scholars. How do the figures stand in regard to Scotland? For every five Voluntary scholars in Scotland there are thirty-three Board scholars. Scotland has been proud and willing to tax itself in order to submit to the representative system. I think it is very hard indeed that when the equivalents were being granted we got such a small allowance, because we had so few Voluntary schools. It was a punishment for our own independence and our loyalty. We should watch the Department very closely, and I repeat that, irrespective of party, when this matter of education has been recast, we should demand that the whole of the children of Scotland, however humble they may be, must he emphatically the inheritors of that free education which has been so successful in the past.
§ *MR. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)
I have listened with interest to the state- 1383 ment which has been made by the Lord Advocate, and I am bound to say that the portion with which I was specially concerned-namely, the defence he made of the Minute of 27th April, 1899—seemed to me perhaps the most unsatisfactory part of his speech. The fact of the matter is that the position of secondary education, and the work that has been carried on in connection with it in Scotland at the present time, is involved in so many intricacies and so much difficulty that it is almost impossible to follow it, and to understand what the actual position is. If the House would bear with me for a minute or two, I would ask it to remember what that position is. You have in Scotland various secondary schools, under the management of School Boards. They are called higher class schools. Fees are regularly charged in them, and they are not grant - earning under the Code, but they do receive grants from the Science and Art Department, which are now administered, fortunately, by the Scotch Education Department. Then we have throughout Scotland a large number of higher departments in the elementary schools, which are doing a great deal of good work, and which earn grants under the Code, grants which were somewhat limited under the provisions of the old Code, but which are being largely extended by the provisions of the new Code. Various sums of money are available for the assistance of secondary and technical education. There is the money which came to the counties and burghs of Scotland under the residue grant of 1890. That money is distributed throughout Scotland to the various counties, burghs, and local authorities. On the whole the counties have applied, I think I may say, the whole of that money to technical education, and the burghs have expended sonic of it, but not nearly so much as the counties, on technical education. An additional grant came to the same spending authorities out of the Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Grant, under the Act of 1892. A Blue Book has been published recently dealing with the method employed in expending the two grants by the various local authorities, and it forms a very interesting record of the work accomplished so far. Looking upon it from the point of view as a county Member, I consider that the County Committees have done their 1384 work satisfactorily and well; and I only wish I could say the same in regard to the expenditure in the burghs. Let me point out that one of the great difficulties in regard to the expenditure of these grants in counties, by the County Committees, is that the very parts of the county where the money could best be spent—that is, within the burghs—are the very parts where no money whatever is given by the local authority for the promotion of technical education. Let me give the Committee an instance which will show the great difficulties that exist at the present moment, and how important is the suggestion that has been made by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs in regard to legislation to give effect to the secondary education grants to which he has referred, and also to some of the other money which comes to us. In my own county the whole of the money under the grant of 1890 is devoted to technical education; but in the large burgh of Paisley only £228 out of a grant of £562, and in Port Glasgow £30 out of £105, are devoted to technical education, whilst in Greenock and five other burghs no part of the grant is given for technical education. I refer to that fact, for I want to bring home to the Lord Advocate the fact that as long as those moneys which it was hoped and intended should be devoted to the development of technical and secondary education are dispersed through so many spending authorities it will be impossible to improve the administration of them. That brings me to the question of the amount available under the Special Grant for secondary education. There is a sum of £60,000 under the Act of 1892 which is distributed throughout the various counties and six burghs of Scotland, on the basis of population, under the Minute of June 10th, 1897. The county committees which distribute their quota of the Grant are constituted by the County Council appointing a certain number of members, and by the Chairmen of the School Boards in each county appointing so many additional members. Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools for the district is also added to the committee. The committees sit and consider the whole question of secondary education within their district. They frame a scheme which they have to submit to the Department. The Department sends the scheme to the various School Boards and 1385 the managers of secondary schools in the county, and invites criticism upon the scheme under which the money which is to come from the special Grant for secondary education is to be expended in the county. The Department, having received these criticisms, again place themselves in communication with the county committees, who have to reconsider their schemes, if necessary. After having made their explanations and received the sanction of the Department to their schemes, they then proceed to give effect to them. The Minute of 1897 contained a very valuable suggestion, namely, that they should endeavour, wherever possible, to invite the co-operation of the authorities which had the spending of the money under the residue grant of 1890. To a certain extent, I believe, the county committees had the funds under this grant placed at their disposal; but as long as we have so many spending authorities it is impossible to get a general agreement. This difficulty exists, and will continue to exist until we have legislation on the subject. I understand from the remarks of the Lord Advocate to-night, and from the criticism which has been directed from time to time on the work of the county committees, that these have not been so successful as they might have been in promoting secondary education in various parts of the country. I think he said that one result of the administration had been to leave the higher class schools out in the cold. I should just like, on that point, to ask the attention of the Committee to an interesting synopsis at the end of the Education Report this year, as to the work carried on by these county committees. It is there stated that direct subsidies to the extent of £21,000 were paid out of the grants received for secondary education to higher class schools, and that £19,000 was paid in direct subsidies to higher departments of elementary schools. From that I do not think it can be said, in regard to the work done by the county committees, that they have left the higher class schools out in the cold. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the county committees seemed to make up their minds that the money was to be spent within their own boundaries, and that they were thus forced to give it, in some cases, to the higher departments of primary schools. No doubt that is the case. There are counties in Scotland 1386 where no secondary schools exist, and it cannot be a matter of blame that the county committees should spend the money in that way. But no one could follow the Reports that have been made in regard to secondary and technical education without being satisfied that every year there has been more concentration going on. I think it is only right to point out that the greatest compliment that has been paid to the work carried on by the county committees has been the production of the new Code this year. It actually recognised the very smallest class of schools to which Grants had been given out of these two funds by the county committees as being worthy now of receiving special grants under the Code. Under Section 21 of the Code this year there is a grant of 50s. per head for the pupils taught in classes of not more than 40. That is a recognition that these schools are doing good work beyond elementary education. Then, under Chapter 9, a provision is made for a special grant in the higher grade schools on the commercial side, of £2 10s. for the first year, of £3 10s. for the second year, and £4 10s. for the third year, to pupils who have taken the merit certificate. I have nothing but praise to express in regard to the provisions in that respect, and I claim that the Code is a recognition of the good work carried on by the county committees. The county committees have been accused of dispersing their money too much abroad, giving too much to small schools, and leaving the higher class schools out in the cold. My own experience of one of these county committees is that they have done nothing of the kind. We are really and truly aiming, not only at giving a secondary education in all parts of the country, but also in supporting the system of secondary schools. But there is a real difficulty in regard to the administration of these Grants in connection with the higher class schools. The higher class schools charge fees in their elementary department and in the higher department. One of the great difficulties which the County Committees will have to face is, how they are fairly to put fee-paying scholars alongside a large number of free scholars coming from all parts of the country, and perhaps belonging to a humbler class than those they are in the habit of associating with in these 1387 schools. Then comes the Minute of April 27th, 1899. The County Committees are, under that Minute, placed in a totally different position from that which they occupied previously. They will have still to administer the grant under the Minute of June 10th, 1897; but they will be placed in a different relation to the Department in regard to the secondary schools, and the higher department of the elementary schools by the provisions of the Minute of April 27th, 1899. In regard to the £60,000 grant the Committee frame a scheme, and the Department sends it down to the school managers and the School Boards, and after receiving the sanction of the Department the Committee give effect to the scheme. Under the Minute of April 27th the same work, in fact, is to be accomplished, but in a different way. A sum of £31,000 would be available for the whole of Scotland. The managers of the secondary schools are to have the right to make a statement of the various items connected with school expenditure, and to send that statement, through the county committees, up to the Education Department. When that has been done, the Education Department is to consider the scheme, and to sanction it, or some modification of it, or possibly not to agree to it at all. What will be the position of the unfortunate county committees? They will be called upon to criticise the scheme of the managers of the Secondary Schools, and if they say that the scheme of the managers asks too much for the Secondary Schools, it will be said that they are disloyal to their localities. I do not at all envy the duty of the county committees in criticising these schemes, and I think the confusion will be worse confounded by the different manner in which they will work under the new Minute. I do hope, notwithstanding what the Lord Advocate has stated, that there will be some reconsideration of this matter, and that it will be found possible to deal with the £60,000 grant and the £31,000 grant together. Whatever the plan should be, the £91,000 should be treated as one sum. Under the scheme of 1897 a provision was made that £200 per annum was to be paid to every Secondary School. Under a new scheme which would thoroughly protect higher class 1388 schools, instead of a provision of £200 per annum, in larger centres £500 or £600 might be fixed upon, I think the time has come when without further experiment more concentration should take place. Until the County and the Burghs Authorities are united in an endeavour to establish in Scotland a thoroughly sound and effective system of secondary education—legislation will be necessary for that—it will be impossible for us to feel that we are not wasting some of the money that has been and ought to be devoted to the purposes of secondary and technical education.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down with intense interest. He addresses the House on this topic with great authority, because his knowledge is not only theoretical, but derived from a large experience in practical administration. It is significant that the work of county committees has been done best in the region which the hon. Gentlemen represents. Not only Renfrewshire, but Lanarkshire stands out in a very admirable fashion for the manner in which the county committees have been able to distribute the grants entrusted to them. It is ominous to the Government when the hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. and learned member for the Border Burghs have agreed in expressing dissatisfaction with the scheme the Government have embodied in the Minute of last April. To this extent I feel sympathy with the Government; that I think the work which was done by the committees to whom the money has been entrusted has not been, in all respects, of a nature so satisfactory as to encourage the Government in the hope that the best results attainable in the disposal of the money have been secured. I agree with the Lord Advocate when he says that something was necessary to be done to give some guarantee that higher education will be obtained, but where I find myself not wholly at one with the Government, and much more in sympathy with their critics this afternoon, is as regards the machinery which they have devised to give effect to their Minutes. I cannot help thinking that the failure of the local committees in Scotland to carry out the purposes which the friends of education seek to attain in re- 1389 gard to higher and technical education arises from the fact that these committees are far too numerous, that in some cases too little money is at their disposal, and that there has often been a frittering away of national resources. Nothing is more striking in this respect than the contrast between Scotland and Wales. My noble friend the Secretary for Scotland, in a recent speech at Paisley, I think, said that Scotland had nothing to learn from Wales in the matter of higher education. I venture to say that Scotland has everything to learn. In Wales they have a system under which the money at the disposal of the local committees has been properly expended for higher educational purposes, but in Scotland small funds are handed over to town councils and local bodies to be frittered away for the reduction of rates and for no useful purpose whatever. You have in Wales a number of local committees which is not out of proportion to the sum you have to expend; and you have a central body, constituted out of the representatives of these committees and other representative Boards, to assist them, which really represents the educational mind of Wales in regard to the educational necessities of the country. I have been convinced for some time that you never will have a better state of things in Scotland until you arouse public attention to the matter. And I do not think that you will bring about that better state of affairs until you have established in Scotland, not only a central educational authority, such as there is in Wales, which will represent the popular mind on the subject, but until you have also brought about such a reform of the system of local committees as shall diminish their number, and leave them in possession of adequate funds. A considerable change is also necessary in regard to the whole system of intermediate education and the administration of the funds devoted to technical and the higher education. Another necessity is that we should bring our intermediate education into some living relation to the Universities. I think on matters of technical and scientific education in our Scottish Universities we are far behind the Universities of England and Wales. We are wholly deficient in technical science, and there is no element in the Scottish university system which brings itself into contact with the schools, or which would 1390 give the schools the position of a steppingstone to something higher. We are a nation of Philistines as far as technical education is concerned. Compare it with what exists south of the Tweed. If you turn to the Welsh University, with its three colleges, or to the Victoria University, with its colleges at Liverpool, Manchester, and Preston, you find established a sytem of technical and scientific training which is in living contact with the industrial enterprises of the people, and which enables the pupils to obtain that scientific and practical education which fits them for appointments in the industrial world. Take, for instance, the teaching in Scotland of one single branch of science—chemistry. In the University of Edinburgh, which I know best, you have a large number of students in the chemistry class, but only a single professor, and the teaching has no living relation with the practical work of to-day in the industrial world. Contrast that with the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where there are seven professors of chemistry to the same number of students as in Edinburgh, and where the teaching is brought into practical accord with the industrial necessities of the country. I think that the next step that the Government ought to take should be in the direction of the improvement of scientific and technical education in connection with the intermediate schools. Already in Glasgow the mind of the University authorities is being awakened as to what steps should be taken in this direction. Until we have, as in Wales, a link between the elementary schools and the secondary schools, and between these higher class schools and universities, we will not have in Scotland a system which can, in any sense, be described as satisfactory. I am quite prepared to bear testimony to the admirable energy and ability which has been thrown into the reform of the Scotch system of late years; last how is it possible with our system, administered as it is, to obtain thorough efficiency? We have one official here in London, Sir Henry Craik, and in Scotland we have a number of educational bodies without any centre of interest, as in Wales, on which the public attention might become focussed; and the result is that, under the guise of a democratic institution, under the semblance of handing over the educational interests of the country to local authorities, we have got the most complete system of centralisa- 1391 tion that can be seen in this country. Our system, centred in Dover House, in London, is conducted with great ability, no doubt, but without that living contact with the people and that knowledge of the necessities of the case which can only be gained if you have the head of the Department living among the people and on the spot. I, for one, despair of the system of Scotch education being brought into a more efficient condition until we have more of the work of central administration done in Scotland than we have at the present time. I feel that the local committees have, in a large measure, failed, though some have managed their business with conspicuous success. It would have been better if the Government had not proceeded on lines of centralisation, but had reformed the local committees, and given them a better system of working. Until they have done that there will be none of that growth of public interest in education in Scotland which is so urgently required, and without which you will make no marked progress in the reform of your educational system.
§ *COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
The question which I desire to bring before the Committee is one of those usual struggles between Departments employed to distribute moneys voted by this House and the beneficiaries, who object to the method of distribution. Under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1897, certain funds were placed at the disposal of the Scotch Educational Department, as a complement of the amounts granted for the payment of a certain sum per head to the poor School Boards and Voluntary schools in England. The Bill is a very simple one, and merely states that where the Board is a poor School Board—that is to say. where the yield of a 3d. rate is not 7s. 6d. per child—that Board shall forthwith be entitled to the privileges accorded to poor School Boards and shall receive 4d. per child for every complete penny by which the school rate per £ exceeds 3d. Read as the House of Commons undoubtedly, to my mind, expected this to be read, there is nothing more simple, and the School Board of Port Glasgow in my constituency made its demand in the month of September, 1898, for the grant for that year, amounting to £109 1s. 4d. This was based on the school rate as levied by the Parish Council of 9d. per £. 1392 This rate was levied as to 4¼d. on owners and 4¾d. on occupiers, in accordance with, I understand, a legal decision given by the Court of Session as to poor rate only, school rate being by Lord Rutherfurd Clark specifically excepted, to the effect that it was not the rate which should be divided equally between owners and occupiers, but the product of the rate; and as occupiers are notoriously less likely to pay regularly than owners, it naturally requires a larger rate upon them than upon the others to produce equal amounts from both classes. I hold, however, that the division between owners and occupiers has nothing whatever to do with the Act of 1897, which clearly specified the School Board rate without any reservation as to how this was divided; in fact, were they to go into the division of the rate I do not see for what reason they fixed the minimum of 3d. per £, without at the same time going into elaborate explanations of how the 3d. in the £ was to be derived from the two classes of ratepayers. However, it ultimately came to this, that the Scotch Education Department fixed a hypothetical rate of their own, for which no reason, to my mind, has ever been adduced. Taking the owners' rate as the more stable, they multiplied that (4¼d.) by two, producing, as I say, a hypothetical rate of 8½d., as against the 9d. which was levied; and as they do not take into consideration anything less than 1d. they take off the ½d., and pay my unfortunate School Board in Port Glasgow on the rate of 8d. instead of 9d.—that is to say, instead of giving them 24d. per child, to which I hold they were clearly entitled under the Act, they have only given them 20d., or a loss of 4d. per child; and as there are 1,636 children in average attendance, that means a loss to them of £26 14s. per annum, which is sufficiently serious even if it were justified. The School Board at once protested, and a long correspondence ensued with the Scotch Education Department. I was received—as is customary and usual in all Government Departments—most courteously by the officials, and Sir Henry Craik explained to me that the advice of their legal department was that under no circumstances could the rate levied by the Parish Council overhead be taken, but that they must take twice the owners' rate. I have not yet been aide to find out, or to gather from the arguments 1393 advanced, why this is so, and although I have applied at the Scotch Office to have the opinion, which I think the House is clearly entitled to, of the Law Officers of the Crown, viz., the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General for Scotland, this has not been granted, on the principle that the Law Officers of the Crown never give an opinion on law under any circumstances whatever; or if they do, they are never communicated to the public. Now, Sir, what I hold is this, that the Department are taking a highly erroneous view of the Act; that they are reading into it what the House of Commons never gave them any authority to read; and that they are saving a very small amount of money at the cost of a very great deal of friction. To my mind, it appears that common-sense should enter into this thing more than law, in fact this is a case where common-sense is law; and if the school rate, which we always referred to in this House when discussing the Act in question as the real rate, let me call it, taken overhead on owners and occupiers, is to be the basis, then the hypothetical rate, which has no existence anywhere and no authority for use, should be discarded. The Act distinctly says it is to be upon the rateable value. Now in this case, if we divide the total amount levied both on the owners and occupiers by the average value of owners and occupiers, we get a little over 9d. If, on the other hand, we take the produce of the rate levied and divide it absolutely by the owners' rateable value, it conies so little under 9d. as to be negligible—that is to say, something like 8.98d., which shows that the Parish Council were quite correct in expressly fixing the rate at 9d. Then the Statute expressly imposes the duty of fixing the rate on the Parish Council; and by what authority, I would ask, does the Education Department assume the duty of altering the decision—legally and mathematically correct—of the Parish Council? Now, Sir, what I claim this House is entitled to—and I do not think the Lord Advocate will deny it—is a clear legal decision from him on the rights and wrongs of this question. We are not acquainted with, and we have nothing to do with, any private legal advice given by any gentleman, however eminent, to the Scotch Education Department, when that gentleman is not responsible to this House. Personally I may know who it is that gives this legal 1394 advice; officially I have no cognisance of the gentleman whatever. The only man I recognise in the matter is the Lord Advocate, and what I wish him to tell me and this Committee is this—under what construction of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1897, is anything else taken as a basis than the real school rate in this instance of 9d.? If any other rate is to be taken, on what authority is the owners' rate multiplied by two selected as a basis; and, if another than the real rate is to be taken, why should twice the owners' rate be taken in preference to the average rate per £ arrived at by dividing the product of the rate by the average rateable value on owners and occupiers; or, if this pleases the Education Department better, by taking the actual product of the rate and dividing it by the rateable value affected to the owners alone? Sir, this Act was passed for the purpose of assisting poor School Boards, but it appears to he absolutely impossible for any Department to go in for assisting poor people without showing what, I hope I may say without offence, is a certain official meanness. Now, let me acknowledge that there is nothing I admire more in the conduct of all our various Departments than the honest and economical way in which the majority, possibly the whole, of them are conducted; but there is a great difference between honesty and economy and absolute meanness, and I hold in this instance it is the latter feeling which has predominated in the decision of this question. The poor School Boards are deprived of a large proportion of the grant the House of Commons intended to give them, and to this extent the benevolent intentions of the Act are defeated.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
The Lord Advocate has given us a very clear and instructive statement with regard to the motives which guided the Department in the foundation of the new Code. I should like to say that I think the general feeling of hon. Members on this side of the House, so far as I can gather it, has been on the whole to approve of the changes which the present Code shows, and in particular of that very important change which consists in substituting a general report on the condition of the school for the individual examination of 1395 the pupils as the basis of payment for grants. As the Lord Advocate has said, the tendency ever since the great reaction in educational policy began has been in the direction of doing away with the exaggerated length to which the system of payment by results, based on individual examination of the scholars, went, and has been moving towards estimating the school as a whole on its general efficiency. I think that educational opinion both in England and Scotland has been certainly moving in that direction for some time, and I am glad that the Scotch Education Department have put the coping stone to that process by the Code which they have issued this year. At the same time, it must be remembered that very great care will be required in applying the principle, and that the Department will be obliged to insist on the inspectors making more frequent and unexpected visits to the schools than before. Everything, in fact, will now depend on the efficiency with which the inspectors do their work, and the amount of care they devote to their reports. I think it is not, therefore, an idle demand that the Department will require to be more than ever careful in the choice of the persons whom they appoint to the office of inspectors, for the success of the experiment will depend more upon the ability, the common-sense, the tact, the judgment and knowledge of the world, of the Inspectors, than ever before. I am glad to see that the Lord Advocate admits that it will be, to some extent, a tentative measure, and that it will not be brought into force until there has been full opportunity of criticism. I take the opportunity, therefore, of offering some criticism which it seems to me is necessary. The School Board of Aberdeen and other leading School Boards think that the re-requirements of the present Code will tend rather to diminish than increase the grants, and that under the requirements of the new Code School Boards will be put to considerable additional expense. I want to put three points to the Lord Advocate and the Education Department. Firstly, the desirability of considering, this year, which way the Code will work, and considering whether they ought not to raise the amount of the grant. The limit between that which the grant will oscillate at present is about one and sixpence, with another shilling added for special excellence, whilst it may be re- 1396 duced by sixpence for deficiency. I think the Department will find when it comes to consider the matter that that rise will not be sufficient, and it will be necessary to go higher in order to reward real excellence; otherwise there will be an increased expenditure on the part of the School Board, and the rates will suffer, and that progress which the Department desires will be discouraged. The second point is a somewhat minute question, which is also important, which the School Board of Aberdeen is anxious to have addressed to the Department, upon Section 19 F of the new Code, with regard to which the loss a School Board may incur owing to the school being closed by reason of an epidemic. It often happens that the attendance is largely diminished in such a case. In Aberdeen the percentage of absentees rose from 7 per cent. to 18 per cent. during the course of a severe epidemic, and the School Board feels that some allowance ought to be made for the diminution of attendance under such circumstances. This has been recognised by the Department, but to a very inadequate extent. As I understand, the Department will not make any reduction unless the diminution of attendance averages 5 per cent. on the whole year; but what we feel is that the 5 per cent. ought not to be calculated upon the year, but upon the months during which the epidemic has prevailed. A very reasonable plan would be to make an allowance for diminution of attendance over a small period of time, and not on the year as a whole. I ought to add that this allowance will not require any alteration in the terms of the Code, as it is quite compatible with Section 19 M, and the limit such as I ask for we consider should be put in those terms; but all we ask is that the Department should consider this matter. Thirdly, I desire to support the contention which has just been advanced by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs. The point he has urged with regard to the School Board of that district is a point which concerns many School Boards in other parts of Scotland. It seems to me, looking at the matter as a whole, that the construction he asks for is an admirable one. He asks it on the ground of common-sense; I should ask for it as a point of law, and it will make the practice very simple. The proposal of the Department to take all the rate that is to be levied from the owners and 1397 double it, in order to arrive at the construction put upon the Act of 1897, may make considerable difference to the School Boards, and the question becomes one of great importance. Now I come for a moment to the question of the grants. As the Committee knows, we have three grants—the grant of 1890 of £35,000 or £40,000, the equivalent grant of 1892 of £60,000, and the grant of last year of about £35,000. Those three grants are allotted for different purposes, and are administered by different departments, with the result that the whole matter has got into an almost inextricable tangle. There are three different grants for different purposes, with different methods of application. We ask with practical unanimity upon both sides of the House that this tangle should at least be put an end to. Instead of the system of minutes, introducing fresh complications every time a new grant takes place, we should have a Bill brought into this House dealing with the matter de novo, and thus give us an effective and consistent system, which would promote the feeling of contentment in Scotland which cannot be brought about by this method of proceeding by minute. If the whole matter were brought before the House we should endeavour to arrange a comprehensive system, and we put this to the Lord Advocate. Scotch opinion is practically unanimous upon this subject. Scotland is tired of being governed by a Department, not that it at all despises the Department, but that it thinks the Department would do better by taking this House and Scotland into its confidence. We also point out that in Scotland we are agreed not only as to the legislation, but as to the points which it should deal with. We also desire that the grant of 1890 should be ear-marked for the purposes of education, and that the Burgh Councils and County Councils should no longer have power to apply that fund to the relief of rates, which everyone will agree is an absolutely useless purpose, and does no good to the ratepayers, and only tends towards the waste of money. Most educationists in Scotland are also agreed that technical and secondary education should be connected. We are further agreed that these three grants ought to be pooled; that is to say, that the three grants should be thrown into one, and placed in the hands of some authority to be administered conjointly. Lastly, we are agreed that all 1398 these matters should be consolidated. These are points upon which Scottish opinion is unanimous. Last year we asked the Lord Advocate to give us legislation, and he pointed out that he did so by proceeding by Minute. Now, what has happened has confirmed the prediction we then made; we have had this Minute. I do not for a moment dispute the zeal and public spirit that has animated the Department in its endeavour to deal with this matter. The Lord Advocate has given us a lucid statement of the principle upon which the Department acts. He has pointed out that the money being administered by the Secondary Education Committees was in many cases given in such small sums to so many small schools that it was not producing that effect upon the best schools which in the true interest of education the Department thought necessary. I am not prepared to deny that there is not a good deal in that view, and I agree as to the advisability of not neglecting the higher departments of elementary schools; still there must be a good deal of force in the view that they will essentially affect secondary education if they endeavour in certain places to create strong secondary schools and draw the promising boys from elementary schools to secondary schools instead of spending the money on the higher elementary schools themselves. All I desire to express is that I am not disposed to quarrel with the views of the Department that some of the money might very well go to the stronger schools, and fit them to render better service to secondary education. But what are we presented with? We are presented with a system out of connection altogether with the system under which the previous grant was administered, and county committees are put into a different position to the old county committees, which will perplex them in dealing with the old grants, supposing our suggestions are carried out. The present system of making grants is very complicated and inconvenient. The answer which the Lord Advocate makes is that the Department has not the courage to censure the Committee by altering the arrangements under the Minute of 1893, but must make the new departure by the Minute of 1898. Surely if the Department cannot make up its mind to do off its own bat, so to speak, what ought to be done, because it is afraid that its views or 1399 action will be misunderstood, Parliament is not open to any such consideration. Let the Department come and tell us what are the faults of the existing system. If it would like to go back to the old system of 1892, let it say so. I should like the Department to have a little more courage, so as to give us the chance of dealing with the whole question, and of listening to the arguments which are to be advanced. Whether Scotland wants a central authority, as well as a Scotch Education Department in London, is a question I will not now discuss. But we want in Scotland an aggregation of bodies more important and influential, and with more authority than local bodies now possess, and we want those bodies brought into new relationship with the Department here. We want, in fact, something done to stimulate public interest in educational work in Scotland, as it has been stimulated in Wales. My hon. friend the Member for Haddington referred to the question of Scotch universities. I would like to remind him, sympathising as I do entirely with his remarks as to the necessity for strengthening the efficiency of our universities, that we already possess in Scotland points of connection between the shools and the universities of Scotland which do not exist in England, and which are only beginning to exist in Wales. One is the bursaries, which in many Scotch universities have been a most efficient means of bringing the most promising boys from the schools to the universities, particularly of Aberdeen and Glasgow. Scotch universities, to a far greater extent than in England, have prepared men to be teachers in elementary and secondary schools. We should, therefore, endeavour to carry still further that relation between the universities and the schools which my hon. friend the Member for Haddington advocates. But it is not only on the scientific and technical side that the Scotch universities need to be strengthened; they want to be strengthened on the literary and humanistic side. I am sorry, Sir, to have detained the Committee so long. I will only reiterate what seems to me to be the general moral of the whole thing, and that is that the existence of this grant and this Minute, which has created a good deal of dissatisfaction, as the Lord Advocate must gather from the present Debate, makes it 1400 more than ever necessary that we should have some legislation on the subject, and I hope that legislation will not be long delayed.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
I do not propose to trespass at any length upon the attention of the Committee, but I desire to express my views with regard to several questions which have been raised. I will preface my remarks by expressing my admiration for the new Code as a whole. I know it is yet untried, but I believe it is a step in the right direction. Whilst hoping that our inspectors will address themselves to their new work, and prove in every respect efficient, I cannot disregard what has been already suggested to-night, viz., that the Government will have to pay special attention to the class of inspectors appointed. The position of school inspector is a very onerous and responsible one, and calls for the exercise of many qualities quite apart from scholastic learning to enable him to arrive at a right conclusion in regard to schools. In fact, as the matter stands now, I think there is too much responsibility put upon inspectors. In rural districts, for instance, no intimation is given as to when the inspector may arrive. As a consequence of that no member of the School Board knows when to expect a visit, and consequently the inspector is the only individual with an official qualification present at the examination. If the chairman or clerk of the School Board were notified as to the day on which the inspector was coming a few members of the Board could see for themselves the sort of inspection that went on. Several instances have occurred to my knowledge within the last few months in which not a soul was present except the inspector. Of course we do not dispute the good intentions of the inspector, but an inspector may make mistakes like other people, and a school may be condemned for insufficient reasons. There is another point with regard to the same question. In agricultural districts an inspector may arrive during the hay harvest or the turnip-hoeing season—when the children are mostly in the fields—and consequently find a very depleted school. The result would be that he would not come to a right conclusion with regard to the school. Then there is another matter which I should like to press upon the attention of the Lord 1401 Advocate. Old and well trained teachers are sometimes arbitrarily dismissed. They have nobody to appeal to, and I cannot help thinking that the Lord Advocate and his advisers might very easily arrange that an appeal should be allowed to some central authority, so that all the circumstances of the case may be gone into. The teachers would then feel that they were not entirely at the mercy of an arbitrary and possibly tyrannical School Board, but that justice would be done them. Cases of very considerable hardship have arisen during the past year in which the teacher has had no possible appeal against what he has considered unjust treatment. Passing on to the Minute of the 27th of April, I am bound to say that when I read that Minute, and indeed when I understood its application, I was not disposed to form a hostile opinion with regard to it. But having paid a visit to Scotland at Whitsuntide and become more familiar with the feelings of the county committees, I am bound to tell the Lord Advocate that it is extremely unpopular in certain parts of the country. I think it would be a very wise thing on the part of the Lord Advocate to withdraw the Minute, and in the meantime bring up another very much on the lines which the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen has sketched, so as to get the three grants under one head, and either give the county committees other powers or curtail their powers in the direction in which the Department does not wish the money spent. Now, I am quite satisfied that the Education Department would be the last people in the world to encourage such a thing, but there are certain schools in Scotland which have been somewhat neglected. A large amount is given by the Code in various ways to elementary schools, and what ought to be really secondary schools are very much neglected, and I would suggest that by the new rules a way of escape should be provided from this most unfortunate public Minute. I trust the Lord Advocate will listen to the voice of Scotch opinion in condemning this Minute. There is only one other matter on which I should like to say a word. The remarks of the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire with regard to secondary education have my hearty concurrence. Taking the Welsh University as an example, and the Swiss University as a still greater ex- 1402 ample, I think much may be done in consolidating secondary education, so as to bring it more in touch with the elementary schools, and thus provide a ladder by which a boy, as in the days of John Knox, can enter a university.
§ *Mr. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
I think the course this Debate has taken has plainly shown that secondary education is a subject of burning interest, and to that I should like to address myself. But before doing so I hope I shall be allowed to refer to one matter which is perfectly different. Last session we passed an Act for the superannuation of teachers, and under this Act a code of rules has been drawn up by the Department. Now, Sir, I observe that under these rules teachers applying for pensions are to have their pecuniary circumstances taken into account. This was not mentioned in the Act, and it seems to me rather a hardship on the teachers. Tins is not a charity pension; it is a pension to which teachers subscribe, just as they would to an ordinary insurance, and it would seem rather a hard thing if a man, whose health had broken down, could not benefit by his insurance without his pecuniary circumstances being taken into account. Of course I should be out of order in raising the general question of pensions, and I will simply say in passing that I for one should be exceedingly glad if the Department can provide a remedy for the inequality between the pensions of existing and future teachers. Turning to the question of the Minute, I am certainly not going to break up the unanimity which exists in Scotland, and if a Division is taken, I shall vote against the Minute. I rather hope, however, that a Division will not be taken. Of course, we know that we cannot persuade the Government by means of a Division, but I am hopeful that we can persuade the Lord Advocate by means of fair reasoning, and I, for my part, shall be surprised if he can resist the unanimity of opinion which has been expressed by Scotch Members on both sides of the House against the Minute. Now, Sir, it seems to me that the Lord Advocate defended the Minute on two grounds. He seemed to suggest, in the first place, that the higher schools should get the grant because they had been neglected; and he seemed, in the second place, to say that something had been done by means of 1403 the Code that gives a sum to the other schools. When the right hon. Gentleman made these statements, I at once turned to the figures which had been brought before the House, and those figures entirely demolish the idea that the higher schools have been neglected; and as to the other schools having had something under the Code, this provision is liable to the 17s. 6d. limit, and, as far as I can see, it is worked out in such a way that school boards will not be able to take the benefit, at all events without putting, themselves to an enormous amount of expense. There are only about 74 schools which will benefit by this Minute, and I am told that it will work out to something like £6 per pupil. That seems to me very unfair. But, Sir, we object to this Minute for other reasons, and I think the reason which seems to underlie the speeches of previous speakers is that it adds to the confusion of secondary education in Scotland. This confusion has become an old topic. We have a secondary education branch, a technical educational branch, an agricultural branch, a science and art branch, and another branch under the superintendence of the Department itself. The way in which the whole administration is conducted is such that it is very largely kept out of the purview of Parliament itself. How is Secondary education administered? It is administered by Minutes and Circulars. A great deal has been said about secondary education committees. I think it would be very unfair to say that they have failed in one sense, for they have done admirable work under very difficult circumstances; but the whole position is anomalous, and the fact is that secondary education, as it is administered, is like a bit of a ladder which has neither beginning nor end. We are all unanimous that one of the first things you must do is to use the technical education money practically for secondary education. If you look at the Minute, you will find that everything is made easy for a committee which meets to hand over this money to a secondary education committee. But I maintain that a great proportion of the money that is spent on secondary education is wasted. A great deal of mischief is done its the attempt to give technical education as opposed to other education. How far the idea has gone may be seen by the 1404 declarations of a great many gentlemen. I listened to the Debates on the Half-Timers Bill, both at the Second Reading and the Committee stages, and I heard Members, for whose opinions in most things I have the greatest respect, actually arguing that these half-tune children when they are employed in mills and taught to tie a knot, and that sort of thing, are actually getting technical education. If the idea is abroad that that is the kind of technical education by which Germany has achieved her present commercial eminence, I say it is utterly absurd, and the sooner it is altered the better. I speak with some slight experience of technical education in Germany, because I have had some of it myself. When I went to Germany to learn the language I determined to learn something of the technical education. I found there were two sorts of technical education in Germany. They actually teach a trade or manufacture in a school, and they have another method beside. What I wanted to learn was weaving and dyeing, and I went to a school that taught those subjects. Certainly they did it systematically, but the net result was that everything I learnt as to the technology of my trade in the technical school could be learnt in almost as short a time in the factory. I went to another sort of school, one of the technological colleges of Germany, and there I found quite a different kind of thing. There was a course of lectures in all subjects—not confined solely to a good general education, but lectures in chemistry and physics, very much the same as those I had already passed through in a Scotch University. This is the technical education that makes Germany excel in the commercial world. Why is it? It is because Germany takes those of her citizens who are going in for commerce or manufacture, and passes them through a training almost as high as that which we give to those who are going in for the professions of medicine, teaching or law. These men thoroughly master the subjects of chemistry, physics, electricity, &c., and then go into a factory. They are absolutely ignorant of the technical manufacture, but they soon pick it up, and they are able to apply the science they have learnt to the processes of the manufacture they are engaged in. Not only that, but they have such an admirable scientific education that 1405 they are able to follow what is going on in the laboratories of those who are pursuing science in the abstract. They have, in fact, one eye on abstract science and the other eye on practical manufacture, and when any invention is put forward, whether it is the liquefaction of hydrogen or the Rontgen rays, or anything else, they are following what is done, and are able to apply these new abstract improvements in science to the concrete technicalities of their own manufacture. It is that and that alone that has brought Germany to her present position in commerce as far as technical education is concerned. I am sorry to see that the superstitition about technical education has to some extent permeated even the Education Department In the Code in these higher grade schools the greatest pains are taken to keep scientific absolutely distinct from general education. Here, for instance, I quote from Circular 231:They will require, however, that the science side shall be clearly separated from the classical or language side of such schools, and that not merely shall the pupils following the science course be separately registered, but that they shall receive separate and special instruction in the essential subjects of the prescribed curriculum, even when these happen to be common to both sides of the school. This condition being fulfilled, my Lords will not object to the instruction being given by members of the same staff who possess the necessary qualifications.Such an attempt as this to bring about a specialisation at an early stage of the school children's curriculum is going in an absolutely wrong direction. What is wanted is that they should be given a thoroughly good education, and then begin their technical or special or scientific education. For these reasons I believe we want, and 1 hope Her Majesty's Government will carry out, a consolidation of our various departments. At present there is plenty of time for legislation, but if the Government do not think matters are sufficiently concretely before them to enable them to devise a scheme, let a Commission or Committee be appointed. We have Commissions and Committees on almost everything, and I should be very happy to see one added on Scotch education. Scotch educationalists, to whatever party they belong or from wherever they come, all agree that the very first thing we want, and must get before we shall be happy, is legislation for 1406 the unification of the whole system of secondary education.
§ MR. J. P. SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
I wish that a few more English members had been present to hear what a bold step we have taken in the course of this year, a step which I hope will prove to be a right step, viz., the abandonment of individual examinations and the adoption of a general payment based on the work of the school as a whole, which will certainly be much easier for the inspectors, but at the same time make considerable demands upon their capacity. I hope we shall find the inspectors rise to the greater difficulties of the task which is put upon them. The making of so large a normal grant as is now made is a very complete change, and a great many of those who are affected by it feel rather nervous lest that normal grant has been struck somewhat too low. The School Board for Govan, for instance, have gone into the matter, and made as careful calculations as possible, and their anticipation, with which the Associated School Boards in general seem to agree, is that the new system will mean a very decided diminution in the grants to individual schools. One can hardly ask the Government at the present moment to make any change, but I hope they will be very thoroughly alive to that possibility, and that if it is found that a school, although conducted as well as before, is earning less under the new rules, certain relaxations may be given which will enable them to earn as much. That becomes particularly important in view of the various increased requirements—to most of which I do not at all object—which are involved in the present Code, such as greater expense in the maintenance of schools, which the School Boards fear may result in loss of income. The School Boards feel very strongly that there should be more elasticity about the normal grant. Only an extra 6d. can be given for special merit, but if there could be a possible increase of 1s. 6d. or 2s., they consider they might be able to pay their way satisfactorily. I am glad to see that the whole tendency of the Report of the Education Department is to take further steps in reducing the extent to which specific subjects are gone into in an elementary way. We are getting more and more able to differentiate education; we are devoting ourselves more and more to developing the higher part of education, 1407 and as we do that we more and more restrict what hitherto has been a great abuse in our schooling—the extent to which children have been carried through the rudimentary stages of specific subjects, with the knowledge that they will be dropped absolutely and forgotten in a short time. We are getting able to insist that only those children should be carried to the higher subjects who have a probability of being able to go far enough in those subjects for the work that is expended upon them to do them some practical good. We have been too apt to think that the mere presence of a child at school is enough, without considering what is being taught to the child, and that as long as the Education Estimates are swelling and more children being sent to school everything is satisfactory. But I am afraid that an enormous amount of both money and time is being wasted in the fact that what is being taught goes out of, almost as quickly as it goes into, the children. While we give clever children every chance of getting on and obtaining a good secondary education, we should not make the mistake that ambitious teachers are so naturally apt to make, viz., that of trying to teach too many subjects in the very short time the children have before them. That is the case particularly with girls. They have been taught a great deal too much of literary subjects, while not enough attention has been given to those subjects that really make the work of their lives, such as domestic training, cooking, and laundry work. These subjects differ very much in their character from the ordinary technical subjects. It is quite true that trades cannot really be taught in schools, but it has to be remembered that domestic work, cooking, and laundry work- is work that the girls will have necessarily to carry out in their after-life, and which they will have no opportunity of learning in a factory or workshop, but which they have to pick up for themselves: It is infinitely more important that these subjects should take a place of due prominence in the education of a girl than that she should be taught merely literary subjects which pass completely out of her head after a while. Attendance at school is now enforced; girls are deprived of the opportunities they formerly had of learning these necessary arts at home with their mothers, and very great care should be taken that they have 1408 every opportunity at school of learning these branches of work. I am glad to see that in the present Code these branches are made considerably more important, and at the same time more stringent conditions are imposed; classes have to be smaller, and the amount of time has to be greater. I hope that that tendency will go a great deal further. But I regret to see that drawing is being made apparently an obligatory subject for girls as well as for boys. Considering the very limited amount of time before the ordinary girl, it is a great pity to throw in an extra subject like drawing, which, while an education of the hand and eye, is not so useful as would be a little more attention to the domestic subjects. The girls ought to be separated from the boys at a much earlier stage. At present they are treated together, with the result that these special girls' subjects get put into a corner. A master naturally does not like his class broken up by the girls going off to one thing and the boys to another, and the classes are apt to be kept working at the subjects which may be regarded as common to both sexes. More differentiation is needed in an earlier period of girls' education, so that the specially feminine subjects may have a much larger place. I am exceedingly glad to see that cookery is being encouraged in some respects. Classes are being made smaller. Hitherto they have been so big that it was almost a waste of time to attempt to teach so many girls by one teacher. I do not quite understand why the rate of payment is reduced also. Hitherto the rate has been 4s. per 40 hours; now it is being reduced to 8s. 4d. per 100 hours, The reduction in the size of the classes will make the teaching of cooking more expensive, and it would have been better if the scale had been raised a little to correspond with the increased requirements. The reduction in the size of the classes is a step in the right direction, but it has not gone far enough; it would be better to reduce the number to about twelve, if it is possible. Another proper step is the general reduction of the size of the classes to 60. But many School Boards lately have built magnificent schools, in which the class-rooms have been so constructed that a larger class can perfectly well be taught and governed from a single spot. I suggest that the absolutely fixed limit of 60 is 1409 rather a rigid one, and that in regard to such schools a certain amount of latitude might he given. Then I want to ask the Lord Advocate whether he will give for Scotland the Returns in regard to the employment of school children which have been given in regard to England. I was told a year ago that it was practically impossible to give such a Return; but the impossibility has been accomplished in regard to England, and we have recently had the two halves of that Return. It is a Return for England and Wales, giving the number of children attending elementary schools who are known to be working for wages or employed for profit. There are given the ages, standards, occupations, hours of work, and rates of pay. The facts as to the employment in different parts of England are extremely interesting, even though the Return itself is fragmentary, for reasons which might be avoided in sending out a fresh Circular. A great number of managers of schools did not reply at all. I hope we may have similar facts brought out in regard to Scotland. The second half of the Return is still more interesting. It gives the different classes of employment taken up by boys and girls attending elementary schools in England and Wales on leaving school during a complete year. From that you get a very complete picture of the different occupations of the children in different parts of the country, and you gather a great deal of information as to the useful and proper forms of technical education in different parts of the country. These facts are important from an educational and interesting from a social point of view, and I hope we may have similar information with regard to Scotland. One-half of the Return was marshalled by the Labour Department of the Board of Trade, and the other half by the Education Department; but I think it would be more satisfactory if all the facts in regard to Scotland were worked out by the Scotch Education Department alone. As to the Circular of the 27th April, I entirely agree that there is very great confusion in regard to these secondary education funds, that it is highly desirable in the interests of everyone that they should be put in a more intelligible form, and that legislation is the only way in which it can be done. But I do not concur in the objection to confining the grant to secondary schools. Schools with 1410 higher departments get their advantages under this new Code; they get a very large increase of advantages under the provisions of Chapter 9, and it is only right when they get so much in addition to what they have already under that part of the Code, that the other schools, which take nothing under the Code, should have their share of assistance from public funds. These higher departments press very hardly upon secondary schools. Secondary schools have in many cases lost pupils and support by the development of the higher departments, and in order to maintain them in a state of proper efficiency it is very necessary that they should have some assistance. I entirely differ from the hon. Member opposite as to making higher education free. We should be throwing away a source of income which is not in the least grudged. So long as every facility is given for clever sons of poor parents, by free places and bursaries, to get to the best schools and make their way to the university—and the majority of those who are able to spend a longer time at school, and to advance through the stages of secondary education, are the children of people who are perfectly ready and willing and desirous to pay for them—you are merely gaining a theoretical advantage by seeking to abolish fees in regard to such schools. The hon. Member says that no social feeling ought to exist, but a very strong social feeling does exist, which has to be reckoned with and must not be left out of sight as a part of the problem. The scheme of the Circular of the 27th April makes confusion more confounded. It leaves the scheme we have had hitherto, and strikes out a new scheme for itself. Instead of leaving the drawing up of plans in the hands of the county committees, subject to the criticism of the Department, each individual school is to send up its scheme through the county committees, and the Department is to decide. You have £60,000 dealt with in one way, and £30,000 in the other. That will be most unsatisfactory. I do not see how either party can work independently, or how the county committee can draw up its scheme for spending its share of the £60,000 in complete ignorance of how the £30,000 will he dealt with. On the other hand, if they knew how the £30,000 would be dealt with, and did not approve, it would be very unsatisfactory for the 1411 county committee to be cutting down its grant to other schools, on the ground that those schools would be getting too much from the Education Department. The whole ought to be treated in the same way and made one single fund, and proposals should be made by which the county committee will have full knowledge, and the Department should be the controlling power. Another point I desire to raise is as to the fees and the examination for the leaving certificate. These certificates have been an enormous success. In 1888, when they started, only 29 schools went in for them; in 1898 the number was 398 schools. In the same way the number of candidates has risen from less than 1,000 to over 16,000. The examination is accepted by a vast number of important bodies, and the standard in most subjects is very high, and the percentage of passes very satisfactory. Therefore, this system of examinations exercises an enormous control over higher education in Scotland, a control which is entirely in the hands of the Department. The secretary to Sir Henry Craik has reason to be proud of these results, as these leaving examinations have been very completely his work. The growth is such that there ought to be something outside a secretarial department for the management of a system which is exercising such a very great influence over the whole secondary education of Scotland. At present you have a set of anonymous examination papers and a set of anonymous Reports. The only name connected with the whole system is that of Sir Henry Craik. He signs his Report, putting such men as he thinks fit to examine, putting in his report such portions of their reports as he thinks proper, and wonderfully well that system has worked. Still, it seems to me now that this is too important a matter to leave to a single man, and we ought to know who the people are who are examining. Those who have examined into the system ought to know that their reports will be published upon the authority of their own name. You would have, in that way, control over secondary education, and it would be much wider than that which is at present exercised, for it would be exercised not merely by one individual, but by persons whose names as examiners would carry weight, and they would have the opportunity of knowing that what they say in their reports would have influence 1412 upon public opinion. Then, it appears that there are leaving certificates that the boys and girls go in for again and again, especially with regard to the lower grade of labour certificates. I want to know what the object of all this is. The object in the higher grade we understand, but considering the number of lower grade leaving certificates, I think you are apt to have a great deal too much of the examination element coming in in the education of these children. I think they should pretty frequently go in for an examination, but it should be limited much more to the nature of their career. There is only one other point I have to mention, and that is the method by which you are to calculate the amount earned per head. That was formerly unimportant, but now it becomes of the greatest importance, because, under certain circumstances, the £4 per head depends upon each child being of the school age. I need hardly enter into the technical details, but I think it is very unnecessary to cut down—when we are discussing the matter in this House—the amount that we give to children under certain circumstances, and I think it is extremely unnatural that a technical view of the exact meaning of the words should be taken. I do not see how any question of law could come in, but it seems to me to be a case which ought to be construed to the advantage of the School Board. In conclusion, I think we must all congratulate the Lord Advocate and the Educational Department upon the progress that the Code shows.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I agree with what the hon. Member who has just sat down has said in expressing the hope that this new Code may answer the expectations formed of it. There is one characteristic and symptom which shows itself in connection with the increased powers given to the inspectors—and there is no reason to think that they will not fulfil that responsibility—and that is that this increased power given to the inspectors must be accompanied by largely increased influence and power in regard to the Scotch Education Department itself. That is not peculiar to the Scotch Education Department, for if there is one subject which more than another may benefit from a strong central authority it is the subject of education. There is another thing which I think we ought also to 1413 remember, and that is that all of these improvements which are demanded on every side by those interested in education mean increased cost and expenditure. Education every year is getting more costly, and every specialisation, every new departure made in instruction, means an addition to the burdens which the country has to bear in regard to education, and naturally that increases the power of the Department which has to administer the whole subject. Therefore, if there is criticism to be passed, we cannot press too urgently the necessity of carrying public opinion along with us in these matters. It seems to me that, in regard to this Minute about which so much has been said to-night—and in regard to which I wish to support all that has been said—what we really lose sight of is that no Department, however active or however well supplied with information, can have the opportunity of carrying public opinion along with it unless it is possessed of that local knowledge which can only come from energetic and active local administration in the country itself. It is very natural, under those conditions—perhaps with insufficient funds or inefficient administration—that the whole system of education should not carry along with it public opinion. Perhaps it is natural that the education in the towns should be superior to education in the country, and that different claims should be made from different districts one against the other for a larger share of the funds that are available. No doubt it is better to establish centres from which educational influence may radiate, for larger towns would be able to cover a larger district, and the funds at their disposal would be more efficiently expended, and would achieve better results than the system which has been characterised in this Debate as giving the money away in dribblets. After all, I think we must remember that what has happened in recent years is that the State has stepped in, and by its action in aiding and subsidising by money which Parliament placed at the disposal of public authorities the Government have put an end to all private ventures, and have limited the number of private schools which formerly provided education for the various classes of the population who wish to take advantage of what was offered by those schools. There is now a largely reduced 1414 number of all these schools and colleges for middle - class secondary education, dependent simply and purely upon private resources. They all look to the State and to the funds provided by the Government, and just as elementary education is completely in the hands of the Government, so we shall have this higher stage of education purely in the hands of the Government as well. A remark has been made in the course of this Debate, to the effect that it is for the educational authorities to say when the education of certain children should cease; and that it was for the children to show by their efficiency and ability to learn what they were qualified to do, and if they attained certain standards then and then only were they to have the privileges and advantages of higher education. That is a perfectly fair system, assuming that you kill all other systems. It is a perfectly fair system if you take care to place within the reach of every family and of every child the facilities which he ought to have, and you will not do this if you administer your education from a single Department without that information and knowledge which can only come from local people who live in those particular localities, and who know the wants of those localities. I will give the Committee an illustration. Condemnation has been poured upon the small efforts made in this direction by the County Councils for the purpose of extending this higher secondary education by the action of the Educational Department. The general influence of this action has been, whether rightly or wrongly exercised, to discourage secondary education in the country districts where educational facilities are most needed, and the larger proportion of the money provided by the Government has been spent in the more populous centres. There is a school in the county which I have the honour to represent which claims, under the County Council, to be approved by the Education Department for the training of certain scholars in a specific subject not required by the Code. Now the Education Department, on the ground that the education given to these scholars did not come under the head of contributing effectively to the secondary education of the country, conceived it to be its duty to disallow the grants which the County Council desired to award, and the school, had to go without the 1415 grant. But when the facts were pressed home to the Department they relinquished the position they took up, and the grant was allowed. I quote this simply as an instance of the action of the Department in regard to country schools, and I could mention other schools which have suffered in the same way in the same county. There is a country Highland district in Scotland where the children have to attend a school which is nine-and-a-half miles away from the nearest secondary school.
§ *MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
In my constituency some of the children are 45 miles and upwards from the nearest secondary school.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
Now, it is a fact that 90 per cent. of the children who have attended these schools for the last 20 years are the children of crofters and ploughmen, who could not afford to send their children such a distance to attend these schools. The only alternative is for these parents to send their children to lodge in the towns where the secondary schools are held; but it is perfectly absurd to imagine that crofters and ploughmen can bear the expense of sending their children to lodge in towns in order to get the benefit of this secondary education. In this way you are preventing these children learning these specific subjects and you are doing them great damage. No one will deny this who looks at the Papers, and I can quote from the inspectors' annual reports of the Department in two directions; in the first place, to show the value of the education which can be given in these elementary schools if they are allowed to give the higher education to promising pupils in this way; and, in the second place, to show that the influence of the Department has been exercised to stamp out in the small village schools the teaching of specific subjects and the carrying on of the education of pupils beyond what is the maximum of efficiency in education which the Department lays down. I quite see the importance of encouraging this higher education in popular centres, but when the Government kills all private enterprise in secondary education it should place within the reach of every child in the country opportunities for that child getting such further education as the parents desire. In my con- 1416 stituency I have noticed that the local trains are often crammed with children going to and from the secondary schools. My complaint against the present system is this, that you are preventing a child whose parents would like it to take another year or a couple of years' education from doing so when it would be for the good of the child itself, and would tend to raise the educational tone of the whole country. There is another argument which I will venture to use in connection with this subject, and it is that this system is extremely bad for efficient teaching. I quite agree that the system under which these pupils are learning these specific subjects savours of the grant-earning system, but I confess that I do not see any other alternative if you are not to deprive these children of opportunities of further education. I see no other alternative under the present system between depriving them altogether of opportunities for further instruction and allowing them to have that instruction in specific subjects provided for them in their own localities. The instance which I have quoted is only one of a number of instances which can be quoted from counties in Scotland. I have another instance just as strong from my own county, in which the Department has practically stepped in and said "These children shall not have any further education," and it is owing to the influence of the Department that these children are sent to work earlier than they would otherwise have been. The old problem here is the social difficulty to which my hon. friend has alluded, and I do beg the right hon. Gentleman to notice this point, because I am sure I am justified in drawing the conclusions which I have drawn from the reports of last year and from the facts which I have just put before the Committee and the general trend of the administration of the Department. But there is another bad effect. In the first place, you are drawing a distinction which has never before been drawn in Scotland between certain classes of the population. This has always been against the wishes of Scotland, for she does not wish that our efforts should be confined to elementary education. The School Boards have the power, and their efforts should not be confined to the provision simply of elementary education, for in every parish there should he provision made for secondary education. May I say a word 1417 or two about another subject which illustrates my contention that the influence of the Department is not exercised very wisely in this matter, and it is time that we should urge upon the Government that it is necessary to associate local knowledge and local administration with the Department in administering education. It is precisely because this Minute of the 27th of April does not do this that I take objection to it, for, after all, it is a question of policy. I can say perfectly frankly myself that I never expected anything else from the Department than that it would apply this money for education on some such lines as have been adopted. There is no doubt whatever that the effect of this Minute will be to place, as it was intended, more power and more influence in the hands of the Department, and I can perfectly well imagine that the Secretary for Scotland deems that to be the only way in which he can, by gradually exerting influence in one direction and another, create some order out of the chaos into which secondary education has now fallen in Scotland. It is perfectly legitimate for him to say, "Here I am the head of a strong Department; I am not going to create any more vested interests; but I am going to gradually use the money at my disposal as a lever to get the authorities to simplify the confusion that exists, and to create some kind of order out of chaos." Now, it is not necessary to give further illustrations, because more than one honourable Gentleman has shown this afternoon clearly what the state of secondary education is in Scotland. You have over 200 authorities administering one branch, and you have 38 administering another branch, and altogether you get something like 240 different educational authorities in Scotland. The Education Department says that it did not mean the Minute to be a censure on the county committees, and that it was impossible for it to have taken any other action. But I should like to point out, from the very history which the Lord Advocate has laid before us to-day of the various Minutes which were published and withdrawn, that what the Department is doing may not be a censure on the county committees, but it is a censure on the last recorded decision of the House of Commons on the subject. Last session there was a strongly expressed opinion on both sides in favour of urging the Government to be more courageous and to take 1418 the opportunity, not being greatly occupied, to put things in order, and to meet here in this House any difficulties which existed. I hope it is not yet too late to ask the Government to reconsider their decision, and to either introduce legislation or institute an inquiry into the whole subject of secondary education in Scotland. It is a great pity that the Government will not take advantage of the public interest in the matter which now exists. We have here the best experience; we have men who have sat on educational committees, like my hon. friend the Member for Aberdeen, who has had experience of educational systems in all parts of the world, and they tell you in a friendly manner that they are anxious to help and that you ought to take advantage of this opportunity. There is one other point to which I wish to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is to the gap which now exists in Scotland because of the want of agricultural education. There could not be a better illustration of the present unsatisfactory state of things than the want of any provision for agricultural education in Scotland. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, Secondary Education is given under this Minute, hut it is given by a provision of Parliament administered by the National Education Department. Besides that there are funds granted by the County Committees. The hon. Member for Partick mentioned the various itinerary courses given in the counties, such as veterinary instruction and dairy instruction, but they have no communication or dependence upon each other, and are independent of the central educational authority. I do not know whether we will be successful in inducing the Government to reconsider this Minute, but perhaps at any rate they will reconsider how money to be devoted to agricultural instruction is to be spent, and I wish to point out that there is a large district in the east of Scotland where no provision is made in this respect. In all the country up the east coast, from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, there are only four centres to which money is given for the purposes of agricultural instruction. There is, for instance, no provision in Perthshire. I will, however, take another opportunity of submitting that point. I only now wish to press upon the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Minute of the 1419 27th April, and to enter my protest against the policy of stamping specific subjects, and not providing secondary education for children whose parents cannot afford to pay the fees demanded.
*SIR WM.WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I wish to say that there is a very strong feeling in my constituency in regard to the distribution of this £35,000. The County Committee of Secondary Education have met to consider what their action should be with regard to this Minute of the 27th of April, and it appears to them, not that the money coming under that Minute is insufficient, but that no money is coming to them at all. They naturally feel this very greatly, and I believe they are going to send in a protest to the Secretary for Scotland with regard to the working of this Minute. I do not yet know the exact grounds upon which they have gone nor the particulars, but one thing they are correct in considering, and that is that they cannot obtain any grant under this Minute. I have a hazy recollection that a question was put to the Lord Advocate with regard to this grant. He was asked whether the elementary schools teaching secondary subjects could obtain a grant under this Minute, and my impression is that he said there was no objection to a grant being given under this Minute. Perhaps he will explain whether that is the case.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
There may be higher grade schools which obtain no grant under the code, and in those cases they would receive money under this Minute. If the hon. Member means can a school with a higher grade department, which is an elementary school, taking money under that head, participate, it obviously cannot under the terms of the Minute itself.
§ *SIR WM. WEDDERBURN
Then I am afraid the county committee was right in believing that no money will come to them at all, and they naturally feel that they have a great grievance. The county of Banff has always held a very high educational position among the counties of Scotland. In fact, I think I may say in proportion to its population it has sent more students direct to the University than any other county of Scotland; and that is mainly owing to the system of giving very good secondary education in the 1420 elementary schools. They consider it is very hard that they should be penalised, because with the resources at their disposal they have produced such good results. It must be borne in mind that even supposing there is a secondary school in the county it is not specially to the advantage of the poor children, or the parents of the poor children of Banffshire, because they not only have to pay for the education, which they gladly do, and impoverish themselves to do, but they have to board and lodge their children at a distance, which entails a large additional expense upon them. According to our view of the case the system has worked very well under the special conditions of the county. Our record is a good one, and very distinguished men have taught in these parish schools. I have in my recollection at the present time many gentlemen who taught in those schools, Masters of Arts, and men of very superior attainments indeed. I may mention that one of the masters in one of our schools was our lamented friend Dr. Wallace. There are many men of distinction, and they have sent out extremely creditable students to the University. From that point of view my constituents are satisfied with the present arrangement, and do not wish to alter it; and they do feel it a hardship that when a considerable sum like this is available for secondary education it should not go in that channel in which it is at present found to be so useful. I appreciate the theory on which the present Minute is based—namely, that in reorganising and creating a good system of secondary education it is desirable to strengthen and consolidate really strong schools in particular parts of the country. The theory is good, and I notice that my right hon. friend the Member for Aberdeen particularly appreciates it, perhaps because, as it happens, Aberdeen is almost the only place in the North Country which obtains a single penny under the present Minute. I think Aberdeen and the Academy at Elgin are the only two institutions north of the Grampians who get a share of the money. I must therefore support the protest which comes from the local authorities in this matter. As regards the general question I sympathise with hon. Gentlemen on both sides of this House who wish all the sums that are available for secondary education to be consolidated, 1421 and that money shall be used in some reasonable and good and simple way so that it may be understanded of the people, which is not the case at present. Special consideration should be given to the scheme of my hon. friend the Member for the Border Burghs, which was put before the country last year, when he showed the way in which the ladder could be completed which would take the ploughman's son from the elementary school up through the secondary school and on to the university, and give him the same opportunity as the son of the richest man in the land. There are two other points to which I should like to allude; one is the new duties of the inspectors. Under the amended Code it has been pointed out that the duties of the inspectors are much more difficult and responsible, they will not be so mechanical, and a greater exercise of discretion and knowledge will be required than has been under the old system. I think, in order that an inspector should have that familiarity with the subject that would enable him to form a good judgment, it is very important that he should be familiar with the schools themselves, and for that reason it is desirable that the inspectors should be promoted from the ranks of the most successful of the teachers. The inspectors may be very learned men chosen from the outside, but they might have a difficulty in testing and proving the children if they had not been school teachers themselves. The remaining point is the point that the hon. Baronet the member for Kirkcudbrightshire referred to, which was that there needs to be some appeal in the case of teachers dismissed by the school boards. There is no doubt that whether or not the teacher in the position does get justice, he often has the feeling that he does not get it, and it would be very satisfactory to all the teaching profession if there was some reasonable means of appealing from the decisions of the school board. Whether that could be done by having some court of appeal formed by the chairmen of several School Boards, and making those chairmen the court of appeal for that particular group, or whether it could be done in some other way, I think it would be in the interests of the teaching profession that there should be some arrangement of that sort. If the school boards 1422 were grouped together there would also be an opportunity of moving a master from one place to another, which might prove very beneficial where a difference between the School Board and the teacher has arisen. In conclusion, I can only say that when I see the protest that is being brought by the County Committee for Secondary Education I shall be in a better position to know their views, but that as at present advised I must join with other hon. Members of this House in saying that this Minute is very unsatisfactory.
MR. MONRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
This Debate has been of unusual interest, partly because of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and partly because of the criticisms which have been directed against the Code. There are two points to which I wish to draw the attention of the Committee, one of which is the fear that has been excited in the minds of some School Boards that they will suffer a loss of revenue under the new Code. The School Board of Leith have made representations to the effect that they feared they would suffer considerable loss. I do not know that I have ever before had to present a local grievance to the House, but the School Board of Leith represent that the schools of that district would sustain a diminution in the amount of the grant. The expenses of education have gone up very considerably, and while the grants have been increased the expenses have increased to a very much greater extent, and under the new Code it will not be possible for schools to earn so much as formerly if every school and every division of the school succeeded in obtaining the maximum grant. Unless some kind of addition is made to the revenue of the schools in some way, the School Board of Leith will be placed in very considerable difficulty. Their experience is that, after providing for the Government requirements, and taking everything into consideration, including assistance and rate grants, the result during the last ten years has been that they have only just paid, and they are afraid that the state of things cannot be maintained under the new Code, and that they will suffer loss. The School Board rate in Leith has gone up during the last ten or eleven years from 6d. to 1s. 2d., and a very great strain has been put upon the 1423 community in order to carry out the requirements of the Education Department. Representation has been made, and it has been considered, but the balance has not been made up by the Department. I mention this case as being one that may be taken as an example of the many difficulties which may be anticipated under the new Code. A new school has been opened quite recently, and that school is not in receipt of any grant under the Code, and this is regarded as a great hardship. A new high school has been opened, and it is feared its efficiency cannot be maintained if the grants fall so far short of what has been expected. Therefore, this question of the effect which may follow on the reduction of the grants, will have to receive consideration. Of course it is felt all the more because we have not received the additional sums which have been recently voted for education in the United Kingdom. There is one other question that I will refer to for one brief moment, and that is the grant towards agricultural education. Scotch counties have far less money for that purpose than English counties. I need not go into the details of the case, because the right hon. Gentleman knows them better than I do, but the fact remains that there is much less money available for agricultural education in Scotland, and it consequently becomes almost impossible to obtain anything like the facilities for education which have been provided by such a school as that established by the Bedfordshire County Council or the Northumberland County Council. In France and Germany agricultural schools are established and maintained by the State. Well, as the county councils in Scotland have not the requisite funds to establish such schools, and the education allowance falls considerably below that made to England, it may be fairly urged that Government must give a more generous allowance than £2,000 towards the cost of agricultural education in Scotland. We believe that the present institutions might be improved, and suggest that there should be in Scotland some Government farm where experiments could be carried on. In Germany there are Government establishments where the science of forestry is thoroughly gone into, to the great advantage of the State. In Scotland our 1424 farmers are perfectly well qualified by their education to derive the full benefit from such establishments, and considering the falling-off in the Government allowance in the matter of education we are at least entitled to ask that a few more pounds a year should be applied to the furtherance of the great agricultural industry in Scotland.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
The most satisfactory thing in connection with Scotch education is the high rate of the school attendance. The statistics show that the parents have been co-operating with the School Boards in seeing that their children are kept at school. I find that there is only one district where the inspectors complain under tins head, and that is in a northern division. As regards school attendance, I observe that the percentage of the total population of 1Scotland on the school register, which was 15.96 in 1886–7, rose to 17.23 in 1897–8. That is the highest point winch has ever been reached. The average attendance is equally satisfactory. The average attendance, which was 12.41 of the population in 1886–7, rose to 14.53 per cent. in 1897–8, or a rise of 2.12 per cent. on the total population, with the result that the average attendance compared with the register, which was 77.77 in 1886–7, has increased to the high point of 84.32 in 1897–8, or a rise of 6.65 per cent. This shows at once that the parents of Scotland have been doing their duty as regards sending their children to school. Complaints have been made that the children have been taken away at too early an age. Now I find, if we take the number of children at school over 13 years of age in 1898, there is an increase compared with the preceding year of 2,655, or 4.36 per cent., as against 1.24 per cent. increase on the total school register. There are no statistics for Scotland except in respect of the State-aided schools, but we have, fortunately the statistics for Glasgow, and the results are very instructive. The total number of children in Glasgow between eleven and twelve years of age on the roll is 12,319, and the number in attendance is 11,767, or a deficiency of only 552. Between ten and eleven years of age only 457 of those on the roll have failed to attend, so that up to twelve years of age there is practically a complete attendance. Between twelve and 1425 thirteen we have this remarkable result; that there are 12,626 children in Glasgow, and 9,754 on the register, a deficiency of only 2,872. Now I have gone into these figures minutely because they have an important bearing on the next point that I am going to call attention to, and that is the decrease in the upper standards. The children are going as early to school as ever, are remaining longer, and are attending with greater regularity. What are the educational results? In 1898 there was an increase of 2,251 children over the number presented to the inspector in the previous year. Now we find, notwithstanding this increase, that the number of children who were presented in the upper standards, i.e., Standards IV., V., and VI., shows a decrease of 1,757. The contention of the Scotch Education Department is that they have effected a change in the examination, with the result that the children are now being pushed forward instead of being kept back, but the statistics given by the Department show the extraordinary fact that whilst the number sent to the inspector last year amounted to an increase of 2,251, the numbers presented in Standards IV., V., and VI. actually showed a decrease of 1,757. Now, I venture to say that this result is due to the change of policy of the Department as regards the examinations. As has been pointed out, in 1872, when School Boards were established, there was individual examination, and that had a most important effect, no payment being given except for an actual pass. That was intended to be—and in point of fact was—a protection to the poorest child in the country. The object Parliament had in view was to get at the lowest stratum of the population. The State is interested more in the lower strata of the population than in the upper, so far as regards matters of that kind. However, individual examination at any rate ensured that no payment would be given for any child unless the inspector should pass that child as having been efficiently educated in a particular standard, and that was a great protection to the poorest children. Then came the change of policy which established collective instead of individual examinations. We all know how that change of policy was brought about. It was due to the pressure of the teachers, who felt that they had a great deal of work to do in order to 1426 get the less educated children to pass the examinations. The inspectors approved the change, because it was very worrying work for them to examine every child individually. You consequently find the teachers and inspectors, backed up by the School Boards, advocating the change, but there is not a voice to be heard in favour of the poor parent, who wishes to secure that his child should pass his examination with the other children. We were told that the result of the change of policy would be that the clever children would be pushed forward. But the statistics show that instead of there being more children in the upper standards there are fewer. I have investigated this matter ever since the policy was changed, and I find in the case of Glasgow, where the statistics are nearer completion than in the case of other schools in Scotland, that the children in the junior departments take a longer time to get into the senior departments. The teachers, finding themselves relieved of the pressure that existed under the previous system, are taking things more easily, and it is their policy now to keep the children as long as possible at school, because the result of the Code is that the more schools keep back children the more money they will earn, the payment being based on average attendance. Now the Department are making an important change as regards the carrying out of the law of compulsory attendance. The Education Act of 1872 prescribes that a parent should not be prosecuted for the non-attendance of his child at school if he passed the inspector's examination. That examination, which is prescribed under Section 73 of the Education Act, is a very simple one, the subjects to be taken being reading, writing, and elementary arithmetic. Then we conic to the Act of 1883, which prescribes that the certificate to be given by the inspector should not be given unless Standard V. is passed. Now for years the inspectors have been passing under the Code of Standard V., and even half-timers have been able to pass. But now you are practically saying to the inspectors that they are to put every possible obstacle in the way of children receiving the labour certificate, with a view of compelling them to remain at school longer than the law practically enjoins. Let us see what those standards were. Some inspectors pointed out that the standards were such that a child 1427 could easily pass two standards in one year, so that even Standard V. might be reached at eleven years of age. You are now making examination more severe than the Act of Parliament authorises. Nothing could be worse than a policy of this kind, because hitherto the parent has loyally co-operated with the School Board. If you want to make a change in the law, do it by legislation in the usual way; don't discourage a child who has attended for several years at school from getting his certificate. Formerly a parent knew if his child did not pass a particular standard. Now he does not know until the child is 13, when he wants to get a labour certificate, and then he discovers that the child's education has been neglected, and that he is not able to pass Standard V. I think that that is an exceeding hardship in the case of the poorer class of the community. If you insist on keeping a child at school till he is 14 years of age, and his widowed mother is only paid 1s. or 1s. 6d. a week from the parochial board, look at the misery your policy entails. It may be in the interest of education, but I question very much, if you continue that child at school after 13, when he has made no educational progress, whether he will do anything more than mark time. The effect of that policy has been that you are alienating sympathy so far as a great many parents are concerned, who have been anxious to co-operate as far as they possibly could. You are adopting every means to keep children at school, but you are not adopting any means to see that the children are being educated. Another subject to which I would call attention is the neglect to meet the demand for certificated teachers. I willingly recognise the improvement that has been made. But will the Lord Advocate say that the improvement is anything like the improvement that ought to be made? It is impossible to get a sufficient number of certificated teachers, because you won't educate in your training colleges as many teachers as are qualified to enter. The demand of the country is for certificated teachers, and you are making, and seeking to maintain, a monopoly of the teaching profession. There are only one or two other matters which I am going to refer to. If there is any money available for secondary education you ought, in the first place, to give it to those schools which hitherto have 1428 been getting money for charitable endowments. When money is coming in to be available for secondary education, the claim of the charities to be relieved ought to be considered. I refer in this instance to the case of Hutchisons' Hospital, and there are also cases in the town of Stirling. I think the claims of those charities which bear the brunt of secondary education when no other funds are available ought to be considered, because it may be that their income has largely decreased of late years. Another matter that I would refer to—and it has been before the Department already—is the education of tinker children. The Lord Advocate knows that it is very difficult to get that class educated, because they migrate from place to place. But whether they are the children of tinkers or not, something ought to be done to ensure their education. Another point for consideration is that some children—probably the children of shepherds—are living a long distance from the schools. It would be an expensive matter to establish a school of teachers to "take" one, or perhaps two, children at a great distance, and it has been suggested that the School Board ought to be authorised to make an allowance for the expense of educating them at the regular parish school, which would be both better for the children, and, at the same time, cheaper as far as the School Board was concerned. With regard to the secondary education scheme, all I have to observe is, that the state in which secondary education finds itself in Scotland is the result very much of the policy of the Department. The first thing the Department did was to reduce the efficiency of secondary education in the schools, and to endeavour, by every means in their power, to attract children from the private schools. Take, for instance, the City of Glasgow. There are only 601 children who have not been attracted either to a State-aided school or an endowed school, and half of these come from the surrounding districts. The policy of the Department is to set up secondary departments, and then they kill the secondary schools, and then, having encouraged the elementary schools to set up secondary departments, they are going to turn round and kill the elementary schools.
§ *SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I wish to call attention to a case in which in a small parish 900 children of school age are at present not in attendance at school, and the Department will take no steps to compel the School Board to provide for their education. That is a matter urgently requiring the attention of this House. What is the use of talking about secondary education or going into these elaborate statistics when here you have a mass of children left, so far as the Department is concerned, without any education whatever? I have asked repeated questions in this House about the matter. I refer to the case of children in the Orphan Homes of Scotland. These schools have been doing a great national service. I am not going to speak on my own authority; I take the testimony of two public documents. Here is what is said about them in the Report of the Departmental Committee of the Scotch Office, over which I had the honour to preside, which among its members numbered the Permanent Under Secretary for Scotland. The Report says:We must not pass from the subject of reformatory and industrial institutions without a reference to the excellent work done at Mr. Quarrier's Orphan Homes. These homes, a magnificent range of buildings situated at the Bridge of Weir, have been constructed and ard maintained by voluntary contributions. Although, if Mr. Quarrier chose, he might claim a handsome donation from the Education Grant, he informed us that he prefers to keep himself entirely free from Government interference and control. The average daily number of children resident at the homes is about 1,200, while that in the reformatory schools in Scotland is 872, and in the industrial schools, 4,873—together 5,745.I will not read the entire extract, but the Report says that, although this work is conducted at no cost whatever to the State, a much better result is shown in the children sent out from these schools than in the case of the children sent out from reformatory or industrial schools. An institute that does such work as that, and deals, without any cost whatever to the State, with about one-fourth of the children dealt with in the reformatory and industrial schools, deserves well of the country. Nor is that the only testimony. In the Report of the Board of Supervision for 1887–88 there is a memorandum from one of the inspectors highly approving the work done by these schools, and suggesting that Parochial Boards should be 1430 allowed to give subscriptions to them, in order to enable them to do their work more efficiently and more cheaply. The Board of Supervision regret that it would not be legal for that course to be adopted, but express the opinion that an extension of the provisions of the Poor Law Act of 1845 to other institutions than those therein specified would, under proper control, be very beneficial. The Government have not paid any heed to that recommendation. On the contrary, any attempts on the part of the Parochial Board to give donations in support of these schools has been surcharged. Until very recently these homes had not been assessed for rates. The schools being maintained by the generosity of the public, and Mr. Quarrier not asking for any assistance from public funds, no rates were levied on the schools. Recently the legality of that was tested, and the Court of Session held that it was illegal to grant the exemption. That being the law, when Mr. Quarrier found that his homes were to be assessed for education and other rates he considered that he was entitled to claim for the children in his homes the rights of a ratepayer, and have them educated at the public expense, as are children elsewhere. So far back as April he asked the School Board to provide education for them, but they declined. He wrote to the Scotch Education Department as to what steps should be taken, and on the advice of the Secretary of the Department he wrote to the School Board asking them to take over the education of these children. The clerk wrote back refusing to do so. On the receipt of that letter Mr. Quarrier again wrote to the Education Department, who replied that they could not deal with the question until they were assured that the children had been refused admission on "other than reasonable grounds." What the reasonable grounds are Mr. Quarrier could not understand, and until this day he has never had any information with regard to it. Later on Mr. Quarrier made a formal application and received an official refusal. He gave notice that he would bring his children to the school and demand admission. He did so, and the clerk formally, on behalf of the School Board, refused to admit them. Mr. Quarrier naturally lays stress on the fact that he has educated a very large number of children belonging to the parish, thereby largely relieving the rates. He has now been obliged to pay education and 1431 poor rates for four years back; he had to pay over £200 in the matter of education rates, and altogether he has had to pay about £1,000 in local rates. Under these circumstances, I say he is entitled to the same rights as any other ratepayer. On the 25th April I asked the Lord Advocate a question on the subject; and he told me that as a matter of fact no child had been refused admission. On the 19th May, the formal application having been refused, I again asked the Lord Advocate a question, and he told me it was undesirable to make any statement beyond that the matters would receive the careful attention of the Department. I then suggested that if the right hon. Gentleman and the Department would not enforce the education of the children by the School Board, would it not be possible to pass some legislation as recommended by the Board of Supervision, or to legalise the exemption of such an institution from the rates? I did not get any answer to that question. The matter is always under consideration. What is the insuperable crux of the legal difficulty in this case that it requires two months to solve? Does or does not the Department intend to enforce upon the School Board the education of these children? As a matter of fact the accommodation belonging to the School Board is not sufficient for these children. I believe the School Board provides accommodation for 600, and has some 390 in average attendance. But in these Orphan Homes there is ample school accommodation, where the children have been satisfactorily educated. The schools have been praised by the inspectors, and nothing could be better for educational purposes. Mr. Quarrier is perfectly willing to let the School Board have them at a reasonable rent, so that there is no difficulty about accommodation; the accommodation could be had tomorrow. Now, Sir, the rates paid on Mr. Quarrier's Homes work out quite as high as those paid by the working-class population. He has the right which every citizen has of demanding education for the children under his care. It is said that he brings waifs and strays into the parish. As long as he was left alone he was content to look after the waifs and strays and pay for their education, and to relieve the parish of every charge in regard to them. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire has a story about some imbecile child brought up in one of 1432 Mr. Quarrier's Homes having been made chargeable to the parish. As a matter of fact that was the case of an imbecile that, when it grew up, became uncontrollable, and went back to its friends; the friends put it on the parish somewhere in Glasgow, and the Glasgow parish found it had a settlement in Renfrewshire, and sent it down. That was perfectly legal. If I were to take a child which through some misfortune had to go upon the parish, the same thing might occur. But that has nothing whatever to do with the right of a ratepayer to demand free education from the School Board for children while they are living in the district, and are inmates of the house in respect of which rates are demanded. I do not want to labour the question, but I am anxious to find out what excuse may be alleged by the Department for this flagrant neglect of its duty to enforce upon the School Board the provision of education for these children. By way of raising the question in a concrete form I beg to move to reduce the vote before the House by £450, being the amount which is payable under the education grant to the School Board of Kilmalcolm.
Motion made, and Question proposed—That a sum, not exceeding £701,411, he granted for the said service."—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
Perhaps it would be convenient that I should at once answer the point which has been raised by the hon. Member. I do not know how far the Committee are cognisant of the matters affecting Mr. Quarrier's Homes, but I certainly do not think the hon. Baronet is quite correct in some of the terms he has used concerning them. First I may say that I am quite at one with the hon. Baronet in giving a very warm testimony to the benefit that these Homes have been. I have no wish to detract; on the contrary, I have the strongest wish to add my testimony as to the good services and most self-denying industry and zeal that Mr. Quarrier has rendered to the State by doing what he has done for the poor and castaway population. But when one has said that, I deplore that Mr. Quarrier has taken up his present position, and has tried to bring to the test what is really a legal question in a way in which the only sufferers will 1433 be the children themselves. The hon. Baronet more than once used the phrase, "as long as he was left alone." But he is acting upon a mistaken view. An exemption had been made to the Homes in respect of rates, and, as you have been told, the point was brought before the Court of Session, where it was declared that the exemption was illegal. When that was done there was really no room for free action afterwards; the authorities could only enforce the law. If the hon. Baronet thinks that it is a proper thing that homes of this class should be exempt from rates, the present law preventing that exemption, the only thing for him to do is to try to pass a Bill in this House altering that law. I do not mean to say that it would be altogether an easy thing to do, because, really, there are considerations on the other side. It is all very well to think that persons who act in that particular way should be exempt from rates, but there are other considerations, and the same considerations which, in the past, have deterred this House front exempting public buildings of various characters from the payment of rates would also induce many persons to say that even such a noble object as this is not a reason why rateable property should he exempt from rates. It is no good laying any blame upon the local authority for not leaving Mr. Quarrier alone, or because they have simply carried out the decision of the Court of Session. If they had acted otherwise they would have been surcharged, so that they had absolutely no choice in the matter.
§ *SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I quite admit, and I did admit, that the decision of the Court of Session left the local authority no option in the matter. But Mr. Quarrier having been placed in this legal position demands his legal remedy.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
If Mr. Quarrier demands his legal remedy it is a very unfortunate thing that the way in which he tries to obtain what he calls his legal remedy is by leaving suddenly nearly a thousand children uneducated. There are ways of raising legal questions, and if Mr. Quarrier thinks he has a right to the education of these children he would have been better advised to have raised the point by the ordinary process if law. But he does no such thing, He simply says, "I will stop educating these children whom I have educated all these 1434 years, and I will call upon the School Board to educate them instead." Very well, what does the School Board say? The School Board says, "Although we are perfectly willing to provide out of the rates for what may be called the normal population of our parish, we do not see that we should be suddenly called upon to provide education for a set of children who have nothing to do with the parish, but who are simply imported into the parish." The hon. Baronet has all along assumed that Mr. Quarrier has a legal right to call upon the School Board to educate these children. All I can say is that that is a question which has never yet been decided in this form, and that is the question which is under the consideration of the Education Department. I am not going to say to-night in this House precisely what view the Education Department adopt upon the matter, but I am in a position to say that the view of the Education Department will certainly be communicated to Mr. Quarrier without undue delay. I do say, however, that the hon. Baronet must not take it for granted that there is any such legal right as he assumes. The point has not been decided in this particular form, but so far as I can see the decision rather points the other way. I prefer not to say more upon this subject, but it is quite obvious that there are two questions which arise. The first is whether Mr. Quarrier has a right to demand free education for these children. If he has that right it should be vindicated by him in a court of law, and not by leaving these children uneducated. If there is no such right, then a question of discretion may arise, but it cannot well arise until the legal question has been settled one way or another. Therefore I fail to see what the hon. Baronet calls the clear duty of the Department in this case, because undoubtedly the question is a very novel one. It is a very serious one for a parish in Scotland, especially such a parish as this, to be suddenly called upon to provide for the education of a large number of children in this way. The matter, however, is not one which can be put forward as a grievance against the administration of the Department; it is rather owing to the mistaken action of an otherwise very worthy man.
§ MR. COLVILLE (Lanarkshire, N.E.)
There is a purely equitable question, as 1435 well as a legal question, in this matter. Mr. Quarrier has for years conducted a most excellent institution for the orphans of Scotland, and he has until recently been permitted so to do without being chargeable for these rates. Now that the Court of Session has decided that he must pay full rates upon the institution, he vary naturally contends that there ought tD be a corresponding provision for the education of his children. It will not do for the Lord Advocate to tell us that this is a matter entirely in the discretion of the Education Department. Parliament has surely some control over the Education Department. I do not hesitate to say that if the decision of the Education Department should be contrary to the interests of Mr. Quarrier and the orphan children, it will be very much the worse for the present Government, who are the masters of the Education Department. There is surely a clear point of equity in Mr. Quarrier's claim that, if it is insisted that he shall pay full legal rates upon his buildings, those rates ought to bring with them the right to have his children properly educated, more especially as he has made such a liberal offer to the School Board in regard to the premises he has erected for the purpose of educating these children. I trust that, notwithstanding the remarks of the Lord Advocate, the Education Department will see that their interest, as well as their duty, lies in the direction of making adequate provision for the children in the orphan homes of Scotland.
§ *MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
I desire to draw the attention of the Lord Advocate to the peculiar position of two very ancient charities in the Burgh of Stirling, known as Cowan's Institution and Spitals Hospital. These charities were founded in the beginning or middle of the 17th century, and their object was to enable the trustees to provide for the decaying members of an institution in Stirling. For something like two centuries these charities were enabled to provide for those requirements, but in 1882, when the income of the charities amounted to £1,400, the Charity Commissioners interfered and deprived the charities of some £700, giving that amount to one of the schools in Stirling for the purposes of education. The position in which the charities stand is a very peculiar and 1436 awkward one, because they have now claims for pensions which they are totally unable to satisfy. In fact, owing to the falling away of the revenues arising from the action in question, a number of persons who otherwise would be provided for by these charities are thrown upon the rates. It seems to me that, inasmuch as Parliament has provided considerable sums for the purpose of supplementing education, this sum of money, which has been diverted from its original use, and given to education at a time when funds which are now available for educational purposes were not available, might be refunded and re-applied to its original charitable purpose. Now, of course, I may be told by the Lord Advocate that he has no power to dispose of the scheme which has been sanctioned by the Charity Commissioners, but I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that in the forthcoming Bill for secondary and technical education a clause might be inserted which would restore the deflected £700 to the charities to which the sum originally belonged. Passing from that, I wish to touch upon a question which has caused some discontent in Scotland; I refer to the question of the superannuation of teachers. There is considerable discontent among the existing teachers of Scotland in respect of the Superannuation Act of 1898. I understand that the greatest amount that any teacher can expect to receive under that Act is about £40 per annum. It will be admitted by hon. Members of the Committee that that is a very small sum indeed with which to pension a man who has spent his whole life in the tuition of the young. The discontent which the existing teachers feel is aggravated by the consideration that future teachers will receive double that amount. It might surely be possible in some manner or other for the Lord Advocate to remove a great deal of the discontent. I think it might be possible for him, if he chose, to enable the School Board to supplement the pension which these teachers are promised under the Superannuation Act. That suggestion is strengthened by the reflection that previous to the Act of 1898 the School Boards were enabled to pension their teachers. It would not only be generous but wise to remove that feeling of discontent which undoubtedly exists among the teachers in the schools of Scotland. 1437 With regard to the Minute, I do not wish to detain the House by reiterating arguments that have been pressed on the Lord Advocate from both sides of the House. I will only say, if the minds of the Lord Advocate and the Scotch Department had not been fully made up with regard to the Minute, they must be very much impressed by the unanimity of the Committee upon this point.
§ *MR. RENSHAW
I should not have intervened in this discussion had it not been for the remark of the hon. Baronet as to the facts with regard to the rating of this Home. Being a member of the County Council, I feel I should not be doing my duty if I did not state the facts here to-day. For many years every effort has been made to prevent putting up the rates on this Home, and I believe the valuation now is very much lower than if it was an ordinary rateable property. The Kilmalcolm School Board suggests that there is a question as to whether they are liable with regard to the education of the Quarrier Home children. The question is a very simple one, and I should just like to remind the Committee what that question is. The parish is an agricultural one, with a small valuation, and during the last twenty or thirty years villas have been built, and a villa population has come down to settle there. Mr. Quarrier's Homes have been erected in the parish, with 1,200 children, and at the present moment there is in the course of erection a Seamen's Home, open to all Scotland, which will hold 200 or 300 people. I do not suppose that the whole of this subject yields in rates £80 per annum for educational purposes; yet it is suggested that, because 1,400 children are settling down in that parish, that that rural parish is to bear the burden of educating all these children, who come principally from the great towns and centres of Scotland, because the proposal of Mr. Quarrier would compel this parish to educate these children, and place a burden upon the parish which is quite out of proportion to the ability of the parish. I believe that the Kilmalcolm School Board is quite within its right in resisting this proposal, and I hope, if Mr. Quarrier takes the course suggested by the Lord Advocate and tries this question in a court of law, that it will be found that no such responsibility rests upon the parish.
§ *MR. THOMAS SHAW
I must not be supposed in any sense to be now defending the action of Mr. Quarrier in the matter of assessment. My own opinion is that any institution, be it educational, religious, charitable, or otherwise, if it be heritable property in Scotland, ought to pay its rates along with other heritable property in the country. But the point raised under this Code is a serious one with regard to these parish homes, having regard to the compulsory character of education in Scotland. As I understand the circumstances, these children, from whatever place they come, are resident in the parish of Kilmalcolm, and it is perfectly true it is a great hardship to the parish that it should have to educate them. On the other hand, there are many cases in Scotland of hardship not quite so great, perhaps, but of a similar character. I understand that the Education Department ought to compel the law to be obeyed in the sense that no child shall be allowed to escape compulsory education. If there are financial difficulties in different parishes, then there is a case for the Department to interpose; and if a Statute is required, that is a question which the Government must address itself to. The point with regard to this particular parish is whether the Education Department is to stand in the position of permitting what is a temporary and may be a permanent negation of the compulsory character of education in Scotland. I totally object to have it stated in this House that it is possible in a case of this kind to avoid that rigour which is a most wholesome rigour of the law, and which is necessary to enable the Department to compel the education of these children.
§ SIR JOHN KINLOCH (Perthshire E.)
On behalf of Perthshire I rise to enter into the protest which has been made against the Minute, and to join in the general condemnation brought against the Minute of the 27th of April. The secondary departments of our schools are to be excluded from participating in this grant, and in a county like Perthshire that is a very serious question. The higher class schools in Perthshire cannot meet their difficulties, and Perthshire is a typical example of how this Minute will work. The Committee of the County divide the county into eight divisions, the names of which are familiar to every one of us, and the effect 1439 of that arrangement has been that it worked well, and each school got its share. Now, instead of that the schools of Perthshire are snubbed and discouraged by the Minute; but I sincerely hope that even now, after the Lord Advocate has seen the strong opinion of the Committee upon this question, it will not be too late, and that the Education Department will still find time to change their opinion.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I wish to move a reduction of this Vote in order to express my dissatisfaction with the Department, and expose the terrible blunders which they have made. In order that the Committee may understand the standpoint from which we view it, I must go back to the year 1887. Up to that year this Committee gave grants for special purposes, but when the County Council Act was brought in, in order that real property might have its burdens lifted, and personal property might bear its share, a great change was made. It was proposed by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer to put an end to all grants, and that in lieu thereof there should be paid over a certain proportion of probate duty and excise. The local boards of England and Scotland got their proportions, both got the same; Scotland got 11–80ths, and England got 8 per cent. The English Poor Law Grant paid all those things which used to be paid by the grant, and there was a very large surplus in England. There was also a surplus in Scotland. In England that surplus was used to reduce local taxation, which was in consequence very much reduced. In Scotland it was used for the purpose of free education. That went on from 1887 to 1892. Then England wanted free education, and a Bill was brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and from Imperial resources, to which England and Scotland each paid their share, England got free education. Scotland got free education and paid for it herself, and England got free education from the common purse. What we ought to have had then was an equivalent grant, and in 1897 the Government gave us not an equivalent grant, but a new grant which they called a similar grant. If they had given us an equivalent grant we should have had many more thousands of pounds, and now we are only getting that 1440 money back bit by hit. Now in Scotland one-seventh of our children are in Voluntary schools, the other six-sevenths are in Board schools. In England four-sevenths are in Voluntary schools, and only three-sevenths are in Board schools. The Government then brought in a Bill to give 5s. a head to every child in the Voluntary schools, and they came to the conclusion that the same thing had to he done for Scotland, and an arrangement was made with the Treasury under which we were again robbed. It was unfair to give us 5s. per head for the children in our Voluntary schools, because we have only one-seventh of our children in those schools, and in England there are four-sevenths. But as a matter of fact they did not give us 5s. a head, they only gave us 3s. All the facts which the Lord Advocate has stated are fallacious, and his statements are mis-statements, as I shall directly demonstrate. The Lord Advocate told us that so far as the Board schools were concerned we should benefit, that instead of getting 11–80ths, we should get 21–80ths, and though we were losing on the Voluntary schools we should make a great deal on the Board schools. He told us that this scheme would require £41,200 for Scotland, and £154,000 for England. The man who was responsible for giving the Lord Advocate that estimate was either grossly ignorant and incompetent, or he had some other thing in view, because for England we voted £200,000, and for Scotland £32,000, so that a gross under-estimate was made for England, and a gross overestimate for Scotland. Then, two years ago a Bill was brought in by which England got a further £41,000, and its claim has increased under the Vote to £210,000. Instead of our getting a great advantage under this scheme, the advantage is in favour of England. We have 660,000 children to educate, and when the Department brings in an estimate for the money required they only estimate 607,000 children. But these estimates are only figments of the imagination of the persons who gave the Lord Advocate his brief, and I think I have proved that his arguments have been demonstrated to be fallacious, and that we are losing £76,000 a year by the transaction. England is receiving £852,000, and if we were getting our fair share of that we should receive £117,000, and we ought fairly to get that sum. But according to 1441 the estimate of the Lord Advocate we only get about £80,000. What have we got this year? We are not talking about what we have had in the past, but about the Estimate for the present year. Under the Estimate you are voting to-day we get £41,000 instead of £117,000, and therefore we are losing £76,000 a year. These are startling facts, and I did expect to hear from the Lord Advocate some reason why the Department had committed this blunder. Let us come now to the question as to how they committed this terrible blunder. Up to the year 1897 we got our 12s. per head, and by the change which has been made, instead of getting that amount, we are now only getting 10s. per head. By an arrangement with the Treasury, and by misrepresentation as to the facts, they got their Bill through. This arrangement was made, and last year we ought to have got £26,000 from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make up our 12s. per head, but we did not get a single penny. Surely that £26,000 will conic to us again. We have demonstrated that, as a result of this system, Scotland has been defrauded, and surely we are going to get this sum or a fair equivalent if we are going to continue under the present system. Are we to go on paying for free education, and is England to go on enjoying that great increase while Scotland forgoes the privilege of having free education. All these estimates and figures upon which the Government brought forward this scheme have been proved to be fallacious, and we are losing £76,000 during the present year. I would like to hear something said on behalf of the Department before I move a reduction in this Vote.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
May I make a suggestion to the House? There has been raised an important point, and perhaps it is advisable that we should have a general reply upon the whole Debate. I therefore suggest that we might now divide upon the Motion for a reduction moved by the hon. Baronet behind me, and then the general Debate could be resumed. I am sure we shall all be very glad indeed to hear a satisfactory explanation from the Lord Advocate.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
Before the question is put I should like to know whether the Lord 1442 Advocate intends to insist upon the Department taking action in this matter. He has stated that if anything was wrong in the law as regards rating it was not his duty to bring in a measure to amend it. But is it not within the scope of his lordship, if the Education Department are in a dilemma, to proceed in the matter? If it is true that so many children in Scotland are absolutely without education, that is a state of things we cannot tolerate, and unless it is made clear that within a certain time this very difficult question which is now before the Education Department will be dealt with I shall be disposed to vote with my hon. friend.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
I stated distinctly that the determination of the Education Department would be made known to the House.
MR. McLEOD (Sutherland)
We have been told that this matter has been going on for months, and, while it may be proper to take action before the Court to find out what the law is, we have to deal now with the Education Department. Now that we have got back to this question, I think we ought to have a very definite and absolute assurance from the responsible Minister that within the next few days the Education Department will take such action as will ensure that these children will be brought under the control of the Department, because, however wrong Mr. Quarrier may be, I do not think that this Committee has got anything to do with that. The question we are asked to vote on is as to whether we will permit the Education Department to allow over 1,000 children to go without the necessary education, and we ought to have a very distinct assurance that a definite communication will be made within the next few days, and we should have now some indication of the form of action which the Education Department propose to take.
§ *MR. WEIR
In reference to the necessity for altering the law, surely if a Bill is necessary it is for the right hon. Gentleman to take the initiative, and not to expect a private Member to bring in a Bill. I sincerely hope that this matter will be taken in hand at once, for it is clearly a matter for the Education Department, and not for the hon. Baronet who is taking this matter up.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 103. (Division List No. 194.)
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. Henry||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Caldwell, James||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Pinkerton, John|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Hammond, John (Carlow)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh||Hazell, Walter||Shaw, Thomas, (Hawick B.)|
|Crombie, John William||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Horniman, Frederick John||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dunn, Sir William||Kilbride, Denis||Weir, James Galloway|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Kinloch, Sir John George S.||Williams, John C. (Notts.)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Leng, Sir John||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Farrell, Jas. P. (Cavan, W.)||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Leod, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gibney, James||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Sir Charles Cameron and|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Mr. Colville.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Flower, Ernest||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Galloway, Wm. Johnson||Pilkington, R. (Lancs. Newton|
|Baird, John George A.||Garfit, William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G.W.(Leeds)||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Priestley, Sir. W. O. (Edin.)|
|Banbury, Fred. George||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A.H.S.(Hunts.)||Graham, Henry Robert||Purvis, Robert|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir. M.H.(Br'st'l)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Retoul, James Alexander|
|Bethell, Commander||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bill, Charles||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Holland, Hon. Lionel R.(Bow)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hozier, Hon. Jas. Henry Cecil||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Burns, John||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Cecil, E. (Hertford, East)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Kenyon, James||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stewart, Sir Mark J M'Taggart|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stock, James Henry|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a||Thorbuen, Walter|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready.||Long, Col. Chas. W.(Evesham)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Valentia Viscount|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Curzon, Viscount||Macdona, John Cumming||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||More, Rbt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh. N.)|
|Digby, J. K. D. Wingfield-||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R.(Bath)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham, George|
|Duncombe, Hon: Hubert V.||Morton, Arthur H.A.(Deptf'd)||Young, Commander (Berks,E.)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Nicholson, William Graham||Sir William Walrond and|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *Mr. A. G. MURRAY
I think the best course for me to take will be to reply generally to the observations which have been made. I am quite aware that the principal topic which has been dealt with is the Minute, and quite a number of 1444 objections have been raised to it. Those objections, in my opinion, have not been altogether consistent, nor do I think that some hon. Members have at all considered this matter from the practical point of view of the Government, and they have not indicated what they would have done if they had been in office instead of us 1445 I will take first of all the point raised by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs. What he objects to is the fact that the Minute does not extend to the higher departments of elementary schools. My answer to that is two-fold. First of all the hon. Member takes the Minute entirely by itself, whereas, I endeavoured, in the statement which I made earlier in the evening, to show that, in our view, the policy of the Department in secondary education should not be taken as being limited to the Minute alone, but it must be taken along with the change made in the Code last year. The hon. Gentleman left out of his criticism all reference to the higher grants. Now I would ask him to consider this—Is it not the case that in regard to a great many schools of the very sort he wishes to favour that, as a matter of fact, they would be pecuniarily very much better off by coming under the provisions of the Code, and getting the higher grants than they would be if they only got their share of the £35,000? So that, viewing the matter for the moment in this sense as mere "£ s. d.," I think he will find that there are many schools which are actually benefited by this system, and that they are doing better than if they got their share of the £35,000. The hon. Member has stated that these grants are subject to the 17s. 6d. limit, and he is afraid that a great many schools will not be able to avail themselves of this grant. I know they are subject to this limit, but there, again, it is just one of those cases where they may be able to get timely help from the county committees, because hon. Members are aware that anything which would he paid by the county committees out of the £60,000 would unquestionably be considered as a contribution from a local source. So there is a very easy way of helping schools in the higher department under this Code if they are able to get a contribution from that source. As regards the general merits of the proposals, a good many of the observations which have been made are with me, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen said frankly that he thought there was a great deal in the view of the Department. It has been hinted by some hon. Members who have spoken from the opposite side that in Aberdeen the right hon. Gentleman who represents that constituency knows there are a particular class of schools which are 1446 just the sort that will be assisted. I do think that is treating the right hon. Gentleman rather unkindly, for I think his observations were dictated by true educational policy, and were not at all due to the fact that there were particular schools in his constituency which might be assisted. There is this point, that, of course, the Education Department have already been doing a good deal for higher education through the action of the councils, where, I think, hon. Members are with me, although they rather misunderstood my expression when I said that the private secondary schools had been left out of the Code, and a good many hon. Members took that statement as meaning that those schools had nothing given to them at all. But I did not say so. What I said was that they had not had the amount of money yet which would enable them to form themselves into private educational centres which they might otherwise be, and although the hon. Member for Renfrewshire had, with pride, told us what has been done by the county committees, I think he must admit that all the county committees have not behaved in such a proper manner as his own county has done. There are various other hon. Members who really object to this Minute upon the ground that it cuts out the higher education of the elementary schools. But there is another class of objection. The objection of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire is not, I think, that the Minute prevents the grant being spread over these schools, but rather because he thinks it casts a very difficult arid invidious duty upon the county committees. I confess, as I have said before, that I cannot understand why the county committees should feel that they are an inferior instrument or that it is derogatory to their usefulness to have thrown upon them the consultative action which is put upon them by this Minute. But I confess further that my hon. friend left me in doubt—although I listened to his speech very carefully—whether he really wished the whole of this money to be handed over to the county committees as they stand. I rather think that he did not, because he went on to describe the general state of the provision made for secondary education, and he hinted that the only way out of the difficulty was by legislation. Upon this subject he said one thing to which I should like to make 1447 reference. He stated that Article 21 of the Code was a recognition of this subject as the work of the county committee. That is scarcely so, because I think he knows that the Department have often refused to recognise as secondary schools some of the schools to which the county committees have given funds. In furthering the cause of secondary education the Department desire to have a higher standard of schools than sonic of those to which the county committees have given their money. He further declared that bad use had been made of this money, but in 1898, although the councils had done their duty, the principal offenders were the burghs. Here, again, he thought the only remedy was legislation. That was the principal note of the speeches to-night. Member after member joined in saying that what they really wish for is legislation with a view to consolidating the general system of secondary education and bringing the funds together. The hon. Member for Haddington indulged in some terrible pessimism with regard to Scottish technical education, and one would suppose he had never heard of the Heriot-Watt College or what is done at it. He said we were. Philistines as regards secondary education, and his whole admiration on that matter at the present moment seems directed to Wales. It is no part of my duty to decry Wales, but, after all, I do not really think we have very much to fear by comparison with Wales. As a matter of fact, the secondary schools in Wales are little more than what we in Scotland would call higher departments, and the number of pupils examined is comparatively small as compared with the number of pupils who get leaving certificates in Scotland. I understand even as regards the Central Committee, over which the hon. Member waxed so enthusiastic, that there are grave doubts as to whether it should be gone on with, or whether its functions should not be handed over to the Universities. The hon. Member was amongst those who said that legislation was a remedy. It seems to me that is really the greatest justification that can be urged for the present Minute. I do not think almost anybody—there may he a few, perhaps—would say that it would be a good thing to simply add this money to the £60,000, and to let it be distributed under the conditions of the old Minute. If we say 1448 that the real solution of this question must eventually be found in legislation, then I think the Minute is justified, because undoubtedly we will be in a much better position for legislation after we have had an opportunity of watching the experience this Minute will give. It is not a question of inquiry in the sense of having a Commission or a Committee of experts to give an opinion. There is, in one sense, almost nothing to learn. What we do want is experience as to how far secondary education would be practically possible, and what we should be able to do for the first time in giving help to real secondary schools. That has not been possible under the action of the county committees. I have tried very hard to show that I am not blaming these county committees, but hon. Members cannot say that their action has had the effect of fostering proper secondary education. Under this Minute that is possible for the first time. We will have experience and something more. We shall have put schools of this description into a state of efficiency. When we have that experience and when these schools are in an improved condition, as we may fairly hope they will be, then surely will be the time to legislate; to review the secondary education system, and put it on a revised basis which will prevent money being wasted on curious forms of technical education, such as teaching a fife and drum band; to divert money from unremunerative channels and to consolidate the whole system. I think also that this Party would never shrink from putting the schools taken over under local supervision in order to obtain the advantage which everybody feels local supervision extends. Accordingly, I certainly would be giving a quite wrong impression if I gave the Committee to understand that there was any intention on the part of the Government to go back on the Minute. On the other hand, we are very far from looking on the Minute as a final settlement of the secondary education question, but we do say that with a sum of money not much greater than £31,000, it is very much the more reasonable thing to find out the proper secondary schools, to get experience, to put the schools into a proper state of efficiency, and then to consider the problem of the general consolidation of secondary education, which is the object of hon. Members on both sides of the House. The time left me is 1449 now short, and I must go as rapidly as possible over some of the various other questions raised in the Debate. First, as to finance. The hon. Member for Caithness has often by question and speech brought this subject before the House, but I am afraid he has never done me the honour to learn the import of the speech which I made at the time the Education Act of 1897 was passed. I am quite aware that in his view the amount that Scotland got from the Treasury at that time was not adequate, in this respect, that it was not in the proportion of 11 to 80, or the amount England got for the assistance of the Voluntary schools. Bur there were really no such blunders or false figures as the hon. Member seems to think. There was one very gross underestimate, but neither I nor any of my special advisers was responsible. The only other question was that of the £36,000.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
My impression of the £41,000 is otherwise. The question of the £36,000 was this. Hon. Members know that we had been paying a 12s. capitation grant, but an arrangement was made with the Treasury that only a 10s. grant should be paid. It was, however, very expedient that we should go on paying the 12s. grant, and we had other sources of supply. We had £40,000 available under the Act of 1890 which would, of course, provide the difference for 400,000 children, and there were also certain arrears which had been promised but not actually paid by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in connection with various extra grants which England had received.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would 1450 give a promise of that description. He promised in the matter of arrears to give the difference between the 10s. grant and the eleven-eightieths. However the money is exhausted. Their he gave another promise in 1897 which undoubtedly was estimated to come to £26,000. It has not come to that sum yet, but it is not now very far from it, and would, had we not had other resources, have amounted in the Estimates for 1899–1900 to £23,000. So far for the figures, but my point is that when you come to the question of education, and where a certain thing is done for England, the equivalent grant does not apply at all. If it did it would be absurd, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been firm in holding that although there may be other affairs in which the equivalent grant might come in it should not apply to education, and that each country should have the same educational advantages. As a matter of fact, if the whole thing were taken together, it would be found that Scotland was not badly off as compared with England in the matter of the Educational Grant. If any hon. M ember will take the Estimates for the current year, and will add up the total educational payments to England and the total to Scotland, he will find that the totals are in the ratio of 80 to 11.08, so that as a matter of fact—although I do not admit that the grant to Scotland has anything to do with it—measured by this standard Scotland is better off as far as educational Imperial endowment is concerned by .08. So far for finance. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs asked me a question about the allowance under the Act of 1897. Well, I am sorry I cannot give the hon. Member a legal opinion of my own at this box, but I can tell him exactly what the views of the Department are. The Act of 1897 proceeded by way of further relief on the Act of 1872. Section 67 of the Act of 1872 stated that, "where in a parish or borough a school rate on the rateable value shall be levied," etc., and the view of the Department was that there could only be one "rateable value." Accordingly, if you take the rateable value you must take the owner's half of the rate, not because it is the owner's but because it is the only rate which includes the whole rateable property in the valuation. That is the view which prevails in the Department. I will propound 1451 to any hon. Member, who wishes to exercise his mind on it, a question. Suppose you take the other view and do not take the staple rate, but whatever happens to be the occupier's rate, and add it to the owner's rate, how would that work in a classified parish where you might have four or five occupiers?
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
That is no answer. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs said: If you want to find the real rate you must add the Owner's rate to the occupier's rate; but how can that be done in a classified parish?
§ MR. CALDWELL
This Act applies to England, and in England it is the occupier's rate which is taken.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
In England there is no classification, and therefore it does not apply in the case given. I pass next to what was said by various members about the Code. The general attitude of hon. Members towards the Code has been extremely satisfactory, and I am sure the Department will consider and bear in mind the weighty remarks made as to the particular duty cast, not only upon inspectors and itself, but also on the care of selection it ought to exercise. As to the apprehension about the loss of grant, I can only again repeat the assurance which I made earlier in the Debate, that undoubtedly the Department will do its very best during the present year—during which payments under this new Code have to be made—to watch very narrowly the effect of the new scales, and if it can see that the result of the scales as they are would be a diminution of the general grant, then the Department would do its best to make some sort of addition, such as the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members suggested. Various other questions were asked. The hon. Member for Partick wanted to know what was the use of leaving certificates in the lower grades. I understand that these certificates are accepted as qualifications for various posts without further examination. As a matter of fact, they are found very useful in that way, and are regarded as a recognised standard. Then I was pressed, especially by the hon. Member for Leith, 1452 to speak about agricultural education, and the hon. Member pointed to the desirability of founding some sort of central establishment. That is a matter which ought to be kept in mind with a view to future legislation, and to an application to the Treasury; but I think probably he will agree with me that, with the money at present at our command, anything of that sort would be entirely beyond our power. An hon. Member said that there was no provision for agricultural education on the East coast at all, especially in the County of Perth, but I would remind the hon. Member that the Perthshire County Council have contributed with others to the new college which has been started in the West of Scotland.
§ *MR. A. G. MURRAY
But it shows that they think it is an institution which their own people can take practical advantage of. As to the question of the dismissal of teachers, that can only be dealt with by legislation, and the question of superannuation must he dealt with in the same way. Although, no doubt, I can quite understand teachers may have a grievance in that matter, I would remind hon. Members that it was debated on the Education Bill, and that there was a good deal of feeling event by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that teachers should not he given a pension by the School Boards as well as by the Treasury. I think I have replied, as far as the time at my disposal would permit, to the various points which have been raised, and I hope the Committee will kindly allow us to take the Vote.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
The right hon. Gentleman's reply cannot be regarded as satisfactory with regard to the Minute of the 27th April, and I beg to move the reduction which stands in my name, in order to show the unanimity of opinion in condemnation of it.
It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ Adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock, till Monday next.