HC Deb 02 April 1901 vol 92 cc551-5
* MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

I hope I may have a few of the minutes that remain in order to impress on the Government the urgent and redoubled necessity of doing something within the next few weeks to place upon a legal footing a great deal of the work now being done in public elementary schools. This question was urgent at half-past ten yesterday morning, before the Master of the Rolls began his judgment, but at the end of that judgment it became doubly urgent, for this reason. I do not speak as a lawyer, but after a careful examination of the judgment I am forced to the conclusion, which I think possibly will be shared by the right hon. Gentleman, that the judgment of the Master of the Rolls has not only disabled the school boards as regards higher grade and higher elementary education, but it has gone very far to endanger a great deal of what is known as ordinary elementary education in schools. The judgment of Mr. Justice Wills and Mr. Justice Kennedy was that a school board could not pay out of a school board rate for science and art teaching in schools or for elementary teaching in evening schools to persons of more than sixteen and a half years old. Mr. Justice Wills laid down that whatever was in the day school code was elementary education and could be paid for out of a school board rate in an ordinary day school so long as it was taught to persons not more than sixteen or sixteen and a half years old, but that the code issued from South Kensington was not to be regarded as elementary education, and could not be taught at the cost of the school board rate. That was the judgment that came before the Master of the Rolls, and the Master of the Rolls confirmed most of it. He confirmed the disablement of school boards from teaching science and art subjects at the cost of the school board rate, but he has gone further and questioned the right of the day school code to be regarded as the criterion as to what is elementary education and what is not. If it were possible for an auditor to surcharge a school board on the authority of Mr. Justice Wills' decision, apparently on the Master of the Rolls' decision, it is possible for an auditor to surcharge a school board for teaching cookery, sewing, or drawing, or anything else above the three R's. If the need for legislation were acute yesterday morning it is doubly acute at the present moment, and I trust we shall get a satisfactory assurance from the Government that they will take steps to legalise the position of the school boards.


It is rather a happy thing, I think, that we have the Easter recess in which to digest this very important judgment. I have not been so rapidly able as the hon. Member to grasp the whole effect of that judgment, and I shall be very glad to have a fortnight's holiday to think it over. Of one thing I would remind him—that the Education Bill which the Government has announced its intention of bringing before the House this session will give Parliament the opportunity of dealing with the whole of this matter, and I have no doubt that when the time comes the Government will be prepared to make recommendations to Parliament. But it must be for the wisdom of Parliament itself to find a solution of these difficulties. There is another thing I can assure him. I do not think there is the slightest danger of any school which has been already established and is doing good work being under the necessity of closing its doors. With that assurance I hope hon. Members will be satisfied until the end of the Recess, and then I think the Government may be called upon, after mature deliberation, to explain the proposals which they intend to submit to Parliament.


I may remind hon. Members that it is absolutely necessary that the motion should be put at or before ten minutes to seven o'clock.

MR. DUFFY (Galway, S.)

said he regretted he would not have an opportunity of bringing forward a matter of great interest to a number of people in the West of Ireland, and, indeed, to Ireland generally. Listening to the debates which had taken place during the last few weeks it would be not unreasonably concluded that outside the Transvaal and the Orange Free State there was not a prisoner of war in existence. He would point out that for the last eighteen years two men had suffered, and were sti l suffering, for a crime, or an offence, which sprang out of the agrarian agitation twenty years ago.


rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 185; Noes, 56. (Division List No. 123.)

Cullinan, J. Levy, Maurice Power, Patrick Joseph
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lewis, John Herbert Reckitt, Harold James
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Reddy, M.
Delany, William Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Redmond, John E. (Waterford
Doogan, P. C. Markham, Arthur Basil Redmond, William (Clare)
Duffy, William J. Mooney, John J. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Ffrench, Peter Murphy, J. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nannetti, Joseph P. Sullivan, Donal
Flynn, James Christopher Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan E.)
Gilhooly, James Norton, Capt. Cecil William Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Brien, Jas. F. X. (Cork) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Md Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Horniman, Frederick John O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Yoxall, James Henry
Jacoby, James Alfred O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Jones, William (Carnarvonsh. O'Dowd, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Joyce, Michael O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.) Mr. Patrick O'Brien and Mr. Haviland-Burke.
Leamy, Edmund O'Malley, William

Main Question put accordingly, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House at its rising this day do adjourn till Thursday, 18th April.