HC Deb 15 May 1900 vol 83 cc186-207

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this Bill is in order, inasmuch as it proposes, by a Private Bill, to transfer powers conferred by public statute upon the Charity Commissioners.


I cannot quite accept the description of the Bill which the hon. Member gives. What is proposed is to make a scheme for the government of King Edward VI. Schools at Birmingham. I believe that could be done by application to the Charity Commissioners, but the power of Parliament to legislate in the matter has not been taken away if Parliament chooses to exercise it. If Parliament does legislate upon it, legis- lation by means of a private Bill would be quite in order. Therefore I do not think any point of order arises. The question whether the promoters of the Bill ought to proceed by way of application to the Charity Commissioners, or to proceed, as they have done, by this Bill is a matter for the House entirely and not for me.


I rise to move that this Bill be read a second time on this day six months. I do soon grounds of public policy. A very important principle is involved in the proposal now before the House. There are an enormous number of endowed schools in the country, all of which, with the exception of Eton and Westminster, are under the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners. The transference of powers from the Charity Commissioners to any other public body ought to be made by public statute; but in this instance it is sought to transfer them in an irregular way— namely, by a Private Bill. On 19th April, 1888, when the Keble College Bill was under consideration the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, then Chairman of Committees, was asked his view in regard to procedure of this character, and he stated his view to the House as follows†— Ought emancipation to be effected by a Private Bill, or ought it to be brought before the House in a Public Bill instead of a Private Bill? He had more than once laid before the House a strong opinion that it was in the highest degree undesirable that any such departure from public law should be made in a Private Bill. In the first place hon. Members did not know what bad been done until after it had been done, and then they found, to their surprise, that an alteration had been made in the general public law by a Private Bill. Such a course opened a wide door to abuse, and if it were adopted we might find many gaps made in the public law by Private Bills. It is therefore because the law is open to abuse that I object to this Bill being read a second time to-day. So far as I know, there is no special ground for the exemption of this particular school, but if there was some ground for special exemption, it seems to me to be somewhat anomalous that we should be asked to withdraw one endowed school out of the many hundred endowed schools at present under jurisdiction, in order to conform with the view of the governors of one particular endowed † See The Parliamentary Debates [Third Series], Vol. cccxxiv., page 1699. school. If any changes are required, obviously the right course is that the Charity Commissioners themselves should be asked to suggest a scheme. That scheme would be publicly notified to the people of Birmingham, and the public there would have an opportunity of expressing their views in regard to the changes proposed to be effected by the scheme. Certainly, without saying anything against the Board of Education, it must be admitted by this House that the Charity Commissioners in this country have unrivalled experience in regard to schemes, and they ought to have the first opportunity of making the requisite changes in the form of the scheme. But it is very extraordinary to find that the promoters of this Bill, instead of taking advantage of the powers which were given to the Board of Education only last year under the Board of Education Act, have endeavoured by a side wind to take away the powers conferred on the Charity Commissioners by statute law. Under the Education Act of last year, by Order in Council, all these powers might have been transferred from the Charity Commissioners to the Board of Education; but by not doing that the Governors have made their object apparent, namely, that they did not want all the powers transferred to the Board of Education, for they are only seeking to transfer some of the powers. Take, for instance, the question of land. If this Bill passes in the present form, it will be quite possible for the governors to actually sell the land, oven that on which the schools have been endowed, and to do whatever they like with the proceeds, irrespective of the views of any Government Department. There is no public body in this country representing a public trust which can part with property without going to a Government Department and seeking its approval. In regard to the land possessed by the universities, in every case real estate cannot be parted with unless the approval of the Agricultural Department is secured. With regard to the municipal corporations, they cannot part with their land without the Local Government Board or the Treasury acquiescing in such a procedure, and therefore the endeavour to secure for the governors freedom of control from the Charity Commissioners is to create a precedent which I trust the House will reject on the present occasion. There is another point. It is not only a question of land, but under the present Bill in Clause 26 the Board of Education would be itself deprived of the power which the Charity Commissioners have—to initiate schemes necessary from time to time in regard to this school. I object to this Bill not because I have any fault to find with this particular school, but I object to it on the ground of public policy. In 1888 the House was asked to determine on a similar question, and it then decided that it was inexpedient for public statutes to be interfered with by Private Bills in this way. I believe there are one, or possibly more, precedents, but I say they are most dangerous precedents to follow if even they exist; and I appeal to the House, having regard to the importance of the question, to hesitate before they pass by Private Bill powers which are invested in the Charity Commissioners by public statute and hand a portion only over to the Board of Education. I appeal to the House, because I think we would be parting with the statutory control which it is necessary for us to keep, and because the governors have been endeavouring to secure changes by Private Bill legislation instead of by Order in Council through the Board of Education, or by the more direct method of public statute. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time upon this day six months.

MR. HUMPHREYS - OWEN (Montgomeryshire)

I rise to second that Amendment, and I do so upon two grounds. We are about, I hope, to establish before very long a complete State system of secondary education in this country. If a system of that kind is to be of any value it must be carried out according to broad general lines, not necessarily in supporting particular schemes, or meeting the particular needs of localities, but, at all events, animated by one general spirit and directed to one general end. This Hill, if it passes, will constitute an imperium in imperio which will be independent of the educational authorities of the country, and which may carry on a system which may or may not be advantageous, but which at all events will be unconnected, and, unless very wisely administered, unrelated, to the general educational system which is about to be established. Let me call the attention of the House to some of the provisions which the Bill makes. The first provision I wish to call attention to is in Clause 16, from which it appears that the governors are to have complete control over the property of the foundationers. The whole legislation of the country in regard to charities is based upon the principle that there should always be some external protecting authority interposed between the charity and its trustees. It is not necessarily any stigma upon the administration of the trustees that such an interposition should take place. Of course there are isolated instances in which a charity has been completely maladministered. These cases are rare, but it is always desirable that there should be interposed between the trustees and the charity some external and impartial authority, without whose sanction they cannot got rid of any of its property. I am myself the trustee of a charity, and I know the effect of that jurisdiction and that kind of superintendence is in the interest of and not a hindrance to the performances of the duties. This Bill entirely removes that safeguard, and if you pass it you will really see that there is no reason why you should not repeal the whole of our legislation of that kind. You are giving complete power to the authorities of this school to deal with their estates. Why should you not give the same powers to the Blue Coat School and to Charterhouse School? Why should you have this precedent for releasing this charity from the law which experience has shown is desirable and necessary for the protection of those for whom the charity is intended? I am told that this is an extremely democratic measure, and therefore should receive the support of those on this side of the House. I am not sure about that. How do they propose to effect their object? In the first place they have five persons nominated by the great universities and the new university of Birmingham. Then eight persons are to be elected by the Town Councillors of Birmingham, and these thirteen are to elect nine other members. The House will see that inasmuch as there are eight Town Councillors and only five nominated members, it is quite possible and most probable that the Town Councillors will elect the whole of the co-optative members, and the result will be that this will be a body nominated by the Town Council of Birmingham. It does not appear from this Bill that the Town Council contributes one shilling to the funds of the foundation which they are to control. A governing body of that kind is, I submit, not a very proper body to control an educational foundation. I may call the attention of the House to one rather remarkable provision. It is that no one elected by the Town Council of Birmingham shall be eligible or continue to be a representative unless he carries on a trade, business, profession, or calling within the city of Birmingham or some parish adjoining thereto, such distance to be determined from time to time by the governors. I do not see that you could possibly have a more undemocratic limitation than that. Why should you restrict the choice of the governors to the ratepayers of Birmingham and district? Surely it is the experience of everybody that a mixture of persons of general eminence in educational methods would be most valuable in a body of this kind. They very likely would be anxiously animated by a desire to promote the interests of education, but they would be excluded from election in any other way. Such a provision as that marks, if I may say so, the general character of the Bill, which is, I regret to say, not so much a public spirited Bill as one giving exclusive domination to one town over an endowment which, in view of the excellent work it is doing, should be treated as a national and not merely as an exceptional endowment. For these reasons I support the view of my hon. friend. This Bill ought never to have been brought forward in this way when the House is anxious to go on to more important business. It ought to have taken its chance as a Government measure. Birmingham is not uninfluential with the Government, and the Bill might very well have been brought in as a Government measure, and under the ægis of the Education Department. I wish to call the attention of the House to two clauses at the end of the Bill relating to an endowment which is divisible in equal shares, between the trustees and the governing body. At present the measure is divided in equal shares, under the Charity Scheme, which has the force of law. The Haverfordwest Grammar School is a rather humble body, and carries on a very good little school in a remote part of Wales, and has altogether an income of £600 or £700 a year. This Bill proposes that the governing body of the Haverfordwest Grammar School may enter into an arrangement for equally dividing all properties other than the properties and securities of the foundation. Anybody who has any experience of the ways of the world will see at once that a bargain entered into between the great Corporation of Birmingham on the one hand and the governors of a small Welsh grammar school on the other, is not likely to be one in which the grammar school will get the better part of the bargain. I observe the hon. Member for Thirsk proposes to amend the Bill in that, amongst other particulars, and he proposes to insert in that clause the words "With the approval of the Board of Education." I wish to say that I support that view, and I hope the hon. Member will press it upon the Government. I wish further to add that it rather shows the somewhat arbitrary manner in which this Bill has been drafted, that by implication it interferes with two clauses of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889. Under that Act there is established in each county a Committee whose duty it is to submit to the Charity Commissioners a scheme or schemes for the intermediate and technical education of the inhabitants of the county; and under Section 12 of that Act— An educational endowment within the county of a joint education committee means an educational endowment which is applied in the county, or is appropriated for the benefit of the natives or inhabitants of the county, or of some of such natives or inhabitants, or their children, or where the benefits of such endowments are divisible between two counties, or between the counties in Wales and the county of Monmouth, or any of them … then means so much of the endowment as the Charity Commissioners may determine to be applicable for the benefit of the county of the joint education committee. This Bill entirely ignores those provisions of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, and I wish to impress upon the supporters of the Bill the need for giving full consideration to the rights of the county governing body of Pembrokeshire and the Haverfordwest Grammar School in this Bill. I have no wish to bring to bear any undue pressure, and therefore I should be satisfied so far as relates to this point with the Amendment to be proposed by the hon. Member for Thirsk, and I hope that that Amendment at all events will be accepted by the promoters of the Bill or carried by the House.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"— (Mr. Joseph Alfred Pease.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now ' stand part of the Question."

* MR. LOWE (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

As an old Birmingham King Edward schoolboy, and consequently taking a great interest in all that concerns the future welfare of the schools, I wish to say a few words in support of the Second Heading of this Bill. I hope before I sit down I shall be able to show that this foundation rests upon a somewhat different footing from that of the ordinary endowed schools which have been referred to by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that it would be not against but in the interests of public policy that the change in the constitution which is contemplated by this Bill should be made. To begin with, these are not in any sense of the word national schools; they are local schools for the education of Birmingham children, and there certainly should be a sufficient number of men capable of governing these schools in the place itself. Nor are they on the same footing as some small charitable endowment in some out-of-the-way country village. I can quite imagine that it is necessary in a case of that kind that some controlling authority should be placed over the governors of the school, what is the main purpose and object of this Bill? The promoters do not seek in any way to get rid of any reasonable amount of control, either as regards the management of their schools or as regards any fundamental matter connected with the management of their property. What they object to in having to submit to any outside control with reference to the every-day details concerning the ordinary management of their property. These schools have hitherto been managed under schemes which were laid down by the Charity Commissioners in the years 1883 and 1884, it being also provided that the Charity Commissioners should retain in their own hands certain very extensive powers of control which were conferred upon them by the Charitable Trusts Acts and the Endowed Schools Acts. The general effect of this has been that the governing body has not been able to perform any act other than the most ordinary every-day routine act with regard to the management of their property without first going to the Charity Commissioners and obtaining their consent. As might be expected, this has been found by the governors to be exceedingly irksome and inconvenient, and it has also been productive of great delay and expense in the carrying on of their operations. It is mainly with a view to get rid of this burdensome control, to enable them to be masters in their own house, and to be able to deal in a free and unfettered way with their property that the governors have introduced this Bill. At the same time there are quite a sufficient number of checks and safeguards imposed upon them to prevent any improper dealing with the property (such as seems to be feared by an hon. Member opposite), not only by the general provisions which have been incorporated in this Bill, which are practically the same as were before incorporated in the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, but also by Clause 25, which provides that any three governors who dissent from anything which is proposed to be done shall have a right of appeal to the Board of Education. This right of appeal, I want to point out, is not in any sense whatever delusive, because the board of governors is to be so constituted that there will always be upon it a sufficient number of independent governors to make this appeal if and whenever it may be necessary to do so. The House will the better realise the burdensome nature of this outside control when I explain to them the description of the property of which this foundation consists. Apart from the school buildings and recreation grounds, the great bulk of the property consists of freehold ground rents. I am informed that there are now in existence as many as 700 leases relating to the property under which these ground rents and other rents are payable, and that scarcely a day passes without some transaction concerning the property taking place. The annual revenue which is received from these sources amounts to something like £47,000. When I further explain that no single dealing with this property, no lease, conveyance, mortgage, sale, or other disposition of the property can at present take place without first having to go to the Charity Commissioners, the House can understand something of the amount of inconvenience which is entailed upon the governors. I was told the other day, as an instance of the amount of circumlocution and delay which has to be gone through when a Government Department of this kind has to be approached before any dealing with property can take place, that a lease or some other document, which was sent to the Charity Commissioners as long ago as last March for their approval, has only just been received back. It seems to me that this is almost as bad as being put under the control of the Court of Chancery. What has this Board of Governors done that they should be subjected to this indignity? They are, in point of fact, no different from any private body of trustees, and so long as a private body of trustees behaves itself in a proper manner and carries on its business in a legitimate way it is not put under the control of the Court of Chancery, but is quite able to deal with its property in the manner in which it is now proposed by this Bill the governors should be allowed to deal with their property. It seems to me, then, that the only question which has to be considered by the House in deciding whether they shall accept or reject this Bill is whether the constitution of the Board, as provided for by the Bill, is such that the governors are likely to prove worthy of confidence, and to administer this foundation in the manner best calculated to promote the educational interests of the people of Birmingham. In the first place, with regard to this constitution, I would point out that it is precisely the same as it has hitherto been under the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, with the exception that an additional governor is added, to represent the new Birmingham University. There are to be twenty-two governors in all. Five of these are to be nominated governors: one appointed by each of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, and Birmingham, and one appointed by the teachers on the permanent staff of the schools; eight are to be representative governors appointed by the city council, and there are to be nine co-operative governors who are to be chosen and elected by the remainder of the board. The council may appoint members of their own body as governors, but the teachers may not do so, and under the clause to which the hon. Member who seconded the motion alluded (which he objects to, but which I very much approve of) provision is made that all these governors, except the nominated governors, shall have some connection with or interest in the city of Birmingham. It is quite evident from this that the City Council of Birmingham will control the election of the great majority of this Board. It will be composed mainly of those who are interested in the welfare of the city of Birmingham, and will be fully and truly representative in its character. I may point out that on the present board there are no less than eleven gentlemen who are or have been aldermen or councillors of the city. There are nine members—including the present and the ex-lord mayor—who have been mayors of the city, and the chairmen of most of the large spending committees of the corporation are also on the board. What I want to point out is, that if these gentlemen are fit to be en-trusted with the administration of the revenues of the whole city of Birmingham, amounting to something like £2,000,000 a year, surely they ought to be competent to administer this much smaller amount of annual revenue without having to submit themselves at every turn to the guidance and control of the Charity Commissioners or any other outside body. It is said that one of the chief objects for the existence of the Charity Commissioners is that they shall look after the interests of posterity. I myself am rather inclined to allow posterity to look after itself; but seeing that by the falling in of leases and the increase in the letting value of land the income of this foundation has been increasing, and is still increasing year by year, I do not think there is any reason to fear that these governors will be likely to encroach upon the capital value of their undertaking. They will have no personal interest whatever to serve, and they will be quite as likely to look after posterity and to guard the future value of their property as any outside body could possibly be. The substitution of the Board of Education for the Charity Commissioners, as is proposed in many instances by this Act, was undoubtedly contemplated by the Education Act of last year, for by Section 2 of that Act it is provided that the Queen may, by an Order in Council, transfer any of the powers at present vested in the Charity Commissioners, in all matters relating to education to the new Board of Education, which was con- stituted under the Act. I may also point out that a precisely similar provision to Clause 16 of this Bill—which is objected to by hon. Gentlemen opposite —has lately been inserted in the new Birmingham University Bill, which passed its Second Reading in this House the other day without any comment or opposition. At all events, the Bill as it now stands has, I understand, received the full sanction and approval of the Education Department, and there is at least a silent acquiescence in this transference of powers by the representative of the Charity Commissioners in this House. It has already, I believe, after careful consideration, passed Lord Morley's Committee, and the other House of Parliament, without any opposition whatever. In conclusion I would point out that these schools form part of one great educational system which now exists in Birmingham. There are, first of all, the public elementary schools; secondly, the grammar schools of this foundation; thirdly, the high schools of this foundation; and lastly, the new Birmingham University. And so we have that great desideratum—an educational ladder, practically complete, in Birmingham at the present time; and seeing that the first and last named of these educational institutions are not under the control of the Charity Commissioners, but that they are—so far as they need any outside control—under the control of the Board of Education, it seems to mo, to say the least of it, to be a little inconsistent and unnecessary that these schools should remain under a different authority. I think that I have said enough to show the House that this Bill is reasonable in what it asks for, and I hope that hon. Members will not persist in their opposition to it.

MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)

The hon. Member who has just sat down has spoken of the admirable character of the education and the general excellence of this institution. That is a charming tribute to the Charity Commissioners, because all this has grown up under its authority, and the hon. Member himself received his education under the general guidance of the Charity Commissioners. I was not aware until I looked at the Parliamentary Paper that the rejection was to be moved, and I feel that this House and every Member of it has a right to ask why I as the Parliamentary representative of the Charity Commissioners, did not move the rejection of this Bill. That was a matter of tactics. I have known ever since I saw the Bill that most of its clauses were wasteful and unnecessary; unnecessary because any desirable object in them could be obtained by a scheme prepared by the Charity Commissioners after an inquiry by that highly trained and strictly impartial body; and wasteful because they could have obtained those objects without cost to the charity, an expense which is now thrown upon them by the last clause in this Bill. There are other clauses which are not merely wasteful and unnecessary, but are actually mischievous. Those clauses propose for Birmingham what has been refused to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a decision which has been reasserted here as recently as 1898. The rule as to any endowments held for the present and future is that the disposal of the funds shall not be left to the uncontrolled management of the trustees from time to time, but should be guarded in the interests of posterity by some outside body. As the hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Bill has said, this is a rule not only with charities, but with all bodies who administer public funds. The hon. Member who has just sat down says that these governors were considered competent to manage the revenues of Birmingham uncontrolled. But has he never heard of the Local Government Board? Does he not know that Dr. Chalmers once said that public bodies were merely as potter's clay in the hands of the Local Government Board? I adopted this course because I thought that by letting the good clauses go by I might be able to stop the worst. I knew that had I moved the rejection of the Bill the Members for Birmingham would have fallen upon me. They are wise and honourable, and many of them are right honourable, and they feel very, very strongly, I understand, upon this Hill. They would join vigorously in defence of this Bill as representatives of the doctrine of Home Rule for Birmingham. Therefore I thought it was the better course for me to put down an Instruction, as I have done, concentrating the attention of the House upon these particular obnoxious clauses. If I had moved the rejection of the Bill entirely I might have been placed in a greater difficulty, and the worst clauses might have got by. I hope, if this goes any further, to be able on Friday next to convince this House that the rules laid down by public policy for the safety and good management of charities in every other part of the kingdom may also be good even for so great a place and such wise men as the inhabitants of Birmingham. I shall myself vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. I shall do so because, when the preamble says that the objects of the Bill cannot be obtained without the authority of Parliament, that statement is, to my own knowledge, inaccurate so far as regards the legitimate objects of the Bill. As regards the illegitimate objects of the Bill, if it goes any further they should not be carried out even with the authority of Parliament. There is just one other remark I should like to make with a view of influencing the votes in the approaching division. I want to warn hon. Members that they cannot by voting for this Bill inflict a penalty upon the Charity Commissioners. I know that the hon. Members for Birmingham carry great weight here. I know also that the Charity Commission is not as popular as it should be. In the nature of things it should not be popular, and if the Commission does its duty it cannot be popular. What is popularity? Popularity is the opinion of the present generation, but the Charity Commissioners are the guardians of the wishes of the dead and of the interests of the unborn, and in the interests of the past and the future we have sometimes to chasten the present generation. I know we are not popular in the House, and that some hon. Members may wish by their votes to inflict some penalty upon the Charity Commissioners. The Charity Commissioners are perfectly prepared to see the control of this property go to some other body, but what they object to is that it should break loose from all control whatever; so long as some other body takes it in hand we shall be exceedingly glad to get rid of it. The Charity Commissioners have done their duty with regard to it, and all they ask is that if the power is taken from them it should be given, unrestricted, to the Board of Education. That is not proposed by this Bill. My hon. friend said there were safeguards in the Bill, and referred us to: Clause 25. But that clause does rot express the desire of Birmingham in this matter, and it is a new clause; it was not in the Bill when it was first introduced in another place. I have now made clear, I hope, the attitude of the Charity Commissioners, who have had great difficulty with this great institution, which is excessively purse-proud and impatient of control, and if the Board of Education cares to undertake the responsibility of controlling it, it will be a pleasant beginning for that Department, whilst the Charity Commissioners will be well rid of it.


I was very glad when my hon. friend intervened in this debate. I am always glad to hear him, especially in his character of responsible and humorous representative of the Charity Commissioners, which is itself an irresponsible body. I am glad he intervened to-day, and I say it without any reflection whatever, because it would be undesirable to bring up again on Friday precisely the same issues. If the House is willing to allow the Bill to go forward to the Committee stage it would be a work of supererogation for my hon. friend to make again on Friday the speech he has made to-night.


There is no Committee stage. The Bill is unopposed.


It must be pretty evident to the House that this is a question between a great public responsible body dealing with local officers and the Charity Commissioners. I have come into conflict with the Charity Commissioners very often, but never in such a matter as this. When I came into conflict with them it was because I thought they were a more or less irresponsible body who intervened most unjustly in order to appropriate money which belongs to the poor for the purposes of secondary education. On those points we always shall be opposed to them. We have given them a lesson, and it is they who are chastened at this moment. When the Charity Commissioners established control over the property of these foundations, no doubt what they had in view was that the governing body was in many cases entirely irresponsible, non-elective, sometimes very small, and subject to no sort of popular control. And there was a fear that these governing bodies might misuse the funds at their disposal, and even the evils attendant on the control of the Charity Commissioners were deemed to be better than such a state of things as that. The hon. Gentleman said there was no precedent for this Bill. If there be no precedent it is our business to make a precedent; but there are precedents, and one of them was created last session when a similar course to that now proposed was adopted in the case of the Mason College Bill. You are dealing here with a great foundation, one of the largest foundations in the United Kingdom, with an income of something like £37,000 a year. You are dealing with an organisation which has been reformed again and again, until it has been thoroughly reorganised and put into such a form as in every sense to give satisfaction to the people of Birmingham, whatever others may think. Surely it is no part of the Radical creed to come in with regard to such an institution and say that you shall be controlled by three gentlemen and a number of clerks who will see all that you are doing and interfere in every detail. The hon. Gentleman says this school has grown up under the fostering care of the Charity Commissioners until it became a popular institution. It grew very slowly; and when it came to be a popular institution it was so hampered that it was impossible to alter any of the details without going to these precious Charity Commissioners, who take six months to decide any case, however simple it may be. In one case there was this extraordinary delay: the Local Government wished to establish a girls' school for the higher education of girls in Birmingham, and they proposed to arrange part of the payment for that school by the transfer of another charity, a cognate charity, also under the control of the Charity Commissioners. This involved the disposal of certain rent-charges; and a certain amount of Consols. From first to last there never was the slightest doubt of the propriety of the proposal, and the Charity Commissioners had nothing to say against it. Yet they must go through all these red-tape arrangements which were carried to such an extent as to really astonish a Government official, with the result that in the interval Consols fell from 112 to 103, and the charity lost a very considerable sum of money. Now it is against this utterly incompetent body that the people of Birmingham protest. We do not want to get this out of all control, but, while we do not know the Board of Education, we do know the Charity Commissioners, and we do not want to know it any more. Therefore we propose under this Bill to go to the Board of Education, which may revise or refuse our proposal. The hon. Gentleman asks that the control exercised by the Charity Commission shall be transferred to the Board of Education. I think that is rather mean on the part of the Charity Commissioners. It appears to me that they wish to make the Board of Education as bad as themselves. The Board of Education does not thank them for the proposal. The Board of Education approves of this Bill in its present form, and it does not wish to follow in the footsteps of the Charity Commissioners. Sir, there is only one other point which was referred to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montgomeryshire, in reference to the portion of the charity in which Wales is concerned. It appears there was a sum of money—an endowment created in 1654. One half was to go to the school at Birmingham and the other half to Haverford west. This Bill proposes that if the governors of the Haverford west and the Birmingham school agree, they may divide the property, or they may sell the property and divide the proceeds. I think the speech of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire is discreditable to the Welsh people, but I am not going to contest the matter. We are quite willing to strike out the clause altogether. But as I understand none of the hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies wish that, but desire some additional protection, all I can say is that if the hon. Gentlemen from Wales are interested in this matter, we shall either meet them to their absolute satisfaction or withdraw the clause altogether from the Bill.

MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvonshire,) Arfon

thought that, as the right hon. Gentleman had made so handsome a proposal, the hon. Gentleman might withdraw his motion.

GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)

Haverfordwest accepts the Bill as it stands. I have received a letter from the Governors to-day in which they say— We prefer to be in the hands of Birmingham rather than in the hands of the Charity Commissioners.

* MR. BOND (Nottingham, E.)

This matter appears to me to be a great deal more serious than the light and airy manner in which it has been discussed would lead the House to imagine. If we are to make an exception in the case of this school because it is wealthy and has powerful friends in this House, how are we to refuse similar claims from other schools? It cannot be done; and before we take away by Private Bill this reasonable control which is vested in an independent body sitting at Whitehall, we ought to give the matter a little further consideration. It is said that the Charity Commissioners intervene in every detail of the administration of this property. That is a palpable exaggeration. They do not do so; but when a mortgage is to be made or property sold they do intervene in order that they may see whether the best price is being obtained for it, and I myself have known many cases where such intervention has been of great benefit to the charity concerned. I do not dispute the fact that there is inevitable delay in every Government office, and I do not deny that there may have been delay in one particular instance which may have been prejudicial to a fund, but, looking at the matter as a whole, I say the rule of the Charity Commission

has been beneficial, and if we are to be called upon to remove that control in this instance I see no reason why we may not be called upon by and bye to revise the statute now upon the book and restore to all trustees the absolute power of dealing with funds, the safety of which might have been endangered but for the fact of their being controlled by the Charity Commission.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

It appears to me that the Charity Commission is a very unpopular body in this country, but during the last ten or twelve years during which the Welsh Intermediate Education Act has been brought into operation, it is only fair to the Charity Commission to say that we have received nothing but kindness and courtesy and wise advice from them, and I think it would be impossible to find another Department which could have dealt with the great promises of that Act in the manner in which they did. I only hope, when the question of intermediate education arises here, as it must, that England may be as fortunate as Wales has been in that respect. With regard to the Charity Commission, we can only speak for our own country, and express our acknowledgments to the Commission for all it has done for us.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 208; Noes, 140. (Division List No. 124)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Brown, Alexander H. Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon
Allan, William (Gateshead) Milliard, Sir Harry Doughty, George
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Butcher, John George Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Anstruther, H. T. Campbell, Rt. Hn. J A (Glasgow Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Carmichael, Sir T.D. Gibson- Doxford, Sir Win. Theodore
Arrol, Sir William Cavendise, R. F. (N. Lanes.) Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)
Atherley-Jones, L. Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Evershed, Sydney
Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.) Faber, George Denison
Baird, John George Alexander Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Fardell, Sir T. George
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Charrington, Spencer Ferguson, R. C. Munro(Leith)
Burry, Rt. Hn A. H. Smith-(Hunts Coddington, Sir William Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J.(Manc'r)
Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor) Coghill, Douglas Harry Finch, George H.
Baylor, Thomas (Derbyshire) Cohen, Benjamin Louis Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Beach, Rt. Hon Sir M. H. (Bristol Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-
Beach, Rt. Hn. W.W. B (Hants. Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Colville, John Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D. Foster, Colonel (Lancaster;
Blundell, Colonel Henry Cripps, Charles Alfred Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) Fry, Lewis
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Curzon, Viscount Garfit, William
Boulnois, Edmund Dalrymple, Sir Charles Gedge, Sydney
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Denny, Colonel Giles, Charles Tyrrell
Brassey, Albert Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Goddard, Daniel Ford
Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Maclean, James Mackenzie Samuel, J.(Stockton-on-Tees)
Goldsworthy, Major-General Maclure, Sir John William Savory, Sir Joseph
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.) Seely, Charles Hilton
Goulding, Edward Alfred M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley M'Killop, James Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Maddison, Fred. Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Gull, Sir Cameron Maple, Sir John Blundell Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Gunter, Colonel Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Smith, A. H. (Christchurch)
Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)
Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Middlemore, J. Throgmorton Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Hanson, Sir Reginald Milward, Colonel Victor Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Heath, James Monk, Charles James Spicer, Albert
Heaton, John Henniker Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.) Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)
Helder, Augustus Moore, Arthur (Londonderry) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Henderson, Alexander Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter More, Robert J. (Shropshire) Strachey, Edward
Hickman, Sir Alfred Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.) Strauss, Arthur
Hobhouse, Henry Morton, A. H. A. Deptford Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Mount, William George Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Muntz, Philip A. Thorburn, Sir Walter
Hudson, George Bickersteth Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute) Thornton, Percy M.
Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.) Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Tollemache, Henry James
Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. M.
Jacoby, James Alfred Newdigate, Francis Alexander Tritton, Charles Ernest
Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Nicol, Donald Ninian Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheffi'd)
Johnston, William (Belfast) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.
Joicey, Sir James Oldroyd, Mark Warr, Augustus Frederick
Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Weir, James Galloway
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton) Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C. E. (Taunt'n)
Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Keswick, William Purvis, Robert Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
King, Sir Henry Seymour Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm
Lafone, Alfred Reckitt, Harold James Willox, Sir John Archibald
Langley, Batty Renshaw, Charles Bine Wills, Sir William Henry
Laurie, Lieut.-General Richards, Henry Charles Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Lawrence, Sir E. Durning- (Corn.) Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)
Lecky, Rt. Hon. William Edw. H. Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Swan.) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wrightson, Thomas
Lloyd-George, David Robinson, Brooke Wylie, Alexander
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Robson, William Snowdon Wyndham, George
Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool) Russell, Gen. F. S.(Cheltenham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Mr. Lowe and Mr. Austen
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Rutherford, John Chamberlain.
Macdona, John Cumming Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Causton, Richard Knight Fletcher, Sir Henry
Allison, Robert Andrew Cawley, Frederick Flower, Ernest
Ashton, Thomas Gair Cayzer, Sir Charles William Forster, Henry William
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Channing, Francis Allston Galloway, William Johnson
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Commins, Andrew Gibbs, Hn. AGH (City of Lond.)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H. Gilliat, John Saunders
Baker, Sir John Crilly, Daniel Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John
Balcarres, Lord Crombie, John William Gold, Charles
Banbury, Frederick George Cubitt, Hon. Henry Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)
Barlow, John Emmott Dillon, John Greville, Hon. Ronald
Bill, Charles Donelan, Captain A. Hardy, Laurence
Billson, Alfred Doogan, P. C. Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-
Birrell, Augustine Dorington, Sir John Edward Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.
Blakiston-Houstor, John Drage, Geoffrey Hemphill, Rt. Hon. CharlesH.
Bond, Edward Dunn, Sir William Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampst'd)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Holland, William Henry
Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Hornby, Sir William Henry
Broadhurst, Henry Emmott, Alfred Howard, Joseph
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Evans, Sir F. H. (Southampton) Howell, William Tudor
Burt, Thomas Farquharson, Dr. Robert Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Fenwick, Charles Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.
Caldwell, James Field, William (Dublin) Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)
Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow) Fisher, William Hayes Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fison, Frederick William Kearley, Hudson E.
Kilbride Denis Mormon, Walter Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)
Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth Nussey, Thomas Willans Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)
Kitson, Sir James O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Souttar Robinson
Knowles, Lees O'Connor. T. P. (Liverpool) Stanley, E. James (Somerset)
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens Stevenson, Francis S.
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Palmer, George Wm. (Reading Stock, James Henry
Leng, Sir John Paulton, James Mellor Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(Oxf'd Univ)
Lewis, John Herbert Pearson, Sir Weetman D. Tennant, Harold John
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lough, Thomas Pickard, Benjamin Ure, Alexander
Lowther, Rt. Hn J W (Cumb'land) Pickers gill, Edward Hare Wallace Robert
Lyell, Sir Leonard Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs, S W) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Macaleese, Daniel Pretyman, Ernest George Wason Eugene
MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Q.' s C) Price, Robert John Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Priestley, Briggs Wilson, Frederick W (Norfolk
M'Cartan, Michael Rankin, Sir James Wilson, Henry J (York W.R.)
M'Crae, George Reid, Sir Robert Threshie Wilson, John (Govan)
M'Ewan William Richardson, J.(Durham, S. E.) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
M'Ghee, Richard Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Runciman, Walter Yoxall, James Henry
Marks, Henry Hananel Sandon, Viscount
Mather, William Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J Mr. Joseph A Pease and
Monckton, Edward Philip Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh) Mr. Grant Lawson
Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)

Question put, and agreed to.