HC Deb 23 July 1901 vol 97 cc1349-51

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in pursuance of his undertaking, he will put down the Education Estimates before 3rd August, the date on which the Evening Schools Minute of 3rd July passes into law.

The following Questions also appeared on the Paper—

MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)

To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, having regard to the expressions of opinion from educational bodies all over the country as to the changes effected by the Minute of 3rd July and to its connection with the proposals of the Education (No. 2) Bill, he will consent to adjourn the Committee stage of that Bill at 10.30 or 11 p.m. in order to permit a discussion on the Minute.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he can now state what opportunity will be given for the discussion of the Minute of the Board of Education concerning evening schools which was laid upon the Table on 3rd July.


There are three questions on the Paper relating to this matter, and I will answer them together. I can only say that in the present state of public business it is impossible for me to give any pledge to find an opportunity to discuss the Minute of the Board of Education. I am sorry it should be so, not merely because the hon. Gentlemen have made an appeal to me, but because I think there is a very great deal of misconception about the character of this Minute. I think the misconception amounts in some cases almost to mirepresentation, and it is doing a great deal of harm. The Minute does not limit the grants to students in evening schools who are under the age of fifteen, nor does it practically diminish the amount of grants to be given by the Department. Students in evening schools, of whatever age and whatever the grade of instruction, will, as heretofore, be eligible for the grant, and local authorities are in many cases now making their arrangements under the first twenty Articles of the Regulations, which are already operative.

MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

said he should like to point out that the House had not yet had an opportunity of discussing the Education Estimates, and he submitted that it would be for the general convenience of the House that a night should be set apart for that purpose. If the right hon. Gentleman could not give them any other time, surely they might take advantage of the discussion on the Education Estimates to deal with this matter. Could he assure them that on one of the days still remaining for Supply the Education Estimates would be taken, and that an opportunity would be given for the discussion of the Minute?


I will put the Education Vote down on one of the nights, but I cannot promise to put it down as the first Order. We have already had one night's debate on educational matters in Supply during the course of the present session.


I beg to ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the night to which he has referred was before the appearance of the Minute, and that therefore it was impossible for us to anticipate what were the intentions of the Government. May I also ask him whether he is aware that the statement in his reply just now that the grants for evening schools had not been reduced is in direct contradiction of information I have received from the Board of Education itself?

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Minute will not come into force on 2nd August, and if we are not to have an opportunity of discussing it before that date.


May I point out that many of the provisions of the Minute are already operative, and so they do not require to be laid on the Table.

SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

Is there any precedent for the Education Vote not being taken as first Order on some night during the session?


Yes, Sir; but one night has already been set apart for education.


That was a Supplementary Estimate.


The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. It was a Vote on Account for the Estimates of the year, and that is not a Supplementary Estimate.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, on July 5th, he did not say that an opportunity would be given for the discussion of this matter during the debates on the Education Bill? And is it not a fact that when Mr. Speaker ruled out of order my hon. friend the Member for North West Ham, when he proposed to take the discussion on the Education Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said he would put down the Education Vote before August 1st?


Yes, I intend doing so; but I cannot put it first, as the Leader of the Opposition has asked for a different allocation of the remaining days of Supply.


Is it not a fact that the grants under this Minute to evening schools which are not science and art classes are reduced by 28 per cent.?


That is not the case as I understand.

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