§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [2nd December] to Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
Which Amendment was—
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ (9.0) MR. ABEL SMITH
When, Sir, you left the Chair, I was referring—I confess with some trepidation—to what is known as the religious question in connection with this Bill. I think we have heard too much of this religious question, and 1004 I can only say, for myself, that if I thought the Nonconformists of this country had any real substantial grievances in this respect, I should be the first to be anxious to redress them. But, having given great consideration to their position, and knowing many of them, especially in my own constituency, I have come to the conclusion that these grievances are to a great extent theoretical, and I believe that it is only in very exceptional cases that they have any reason to complain of the religious instruction which has been given in the Church schools throughout the country. Under the provisions of this Bill what is known as the "one-man management" will be abolished, and where there is any considerable number of Nonconformists in a school district they will be in a position to elect a manager through the minor local authority, and will thus secure a share in the management of the elementary schools. I have the honour to represent in this House a country Division, partly urban and partly rural, in which there are many Nonconformists, and it is a rather remarkable fact that in the Division there are only two School Boards, which are in small rural parishes, while the other parishes, many of which have large and increasing populations, are served by voluntary schools. Although I have been connected with the Division all my life, I have never heard of any religious difficulty—I have never heard of any child being withdrawn from religious instruction in the Church schools, and therefore I think I am justified in saying that, at any rate as regards my own county, this religious difficulty is to a very great extent theoretical. We have heard a great many strong expressions of opinion on this subject; we have heard talk of "handing over the schools to the priests"; we have heard the Bill described as "a measure of relief to the clerical party"—
whatever that may be; and we have also heard that it is designed for the destruction of Nonconformity. These expressions can only be described as gross exaggerations; they cannot be accepted as fair criticism, and I wish to join with my right hon. friend the Member for the Honiton Division of Devonshire in deprecating the use of such language. I hope the hon. Member for North Louth, who is, I believe, to speak presently, will either withdraw of justify—if he can—these expressions.
1005 One cannot deal with this so-called religious question without referring to the sub-Clause which has made the name of my hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire famous for all time. I was a keen supporter of that Clause, because I regarded it as giving to the laity a fair share of the management of religious instruction in the schools. It has been very sharply criticised by members of the Established Church, and has been said to be inconsistent, but it has been upheld by men eminent in the Church. Canon Henson and Prebendary Smith are good enough Churchmen for me, and I believe, with them, that the Clause will do much to restrain the extravagant and fantastic teaching which has prevailed in a few exceptional cases. Under this Bill, Nonconformists will have more voice in the management of the schools than they ever had before, especially in rural districts, where in many cases the only school belongs to the Established Church. I believe that the extravagant fears indulged in cannot be justified, and I do appeal most earnestly to the leaders of Nonconformity to abandon their opposition to the Bill, and to work for the advancement of education under its provisions. Our system of national education needs reform and reconstruction in many respects, and I believe that this Bill would give that much-needed reform. If we all work together I feel confident that the measure will prove of great lasting benefit to the people of England and Wales.
§ MR. PERKS () Lincolnshire, Louth
I am quite sure that the hon. Member who last spoke must have little knowledge of the history of Nonconformity of this country, and still less of the views of the governing bodies of the great Nonconformist Churches. It is inconceivable that the clergy and laity, who are responsible for the control of these vast organisations, can have been labouring under the hallucinations that the hon. Member imagines that they have been labouring under. My right hon. friend the Member for the Honiton Division of Devonshire, tool me to task for some observations which I made in a little leaflet which I wrote some ago, and which has attained some little circulation. He complained because I said that the Church of England was honeycombed by a certain class of 1006 Romanizing literature. I was then dealing with the allegation made by the Ritualistic section of the Anglican Church in their journalistic organs, and also by their allies among the Roman Catholic clergy, that it was essential that the whole atmosphere of the schools should be Anglican and sacredotal. These manuals of instruction catechisms, but they were manuals which had attained circulations of from 20,000 to 40,000 copies, and it is perfectly clear that his literature must have a great effect on the clergy, and, through them, on the schools for which they are responsible. I said that at least three-fourth soft the clergy—those most active and most favoured by the Government, professed the doctrines and practised the ritual described in these manuals; and I should be only too glad to think that the section of the Anglican Church to which my right hon. friend belongs represents even one-fourth of the great religious community. But I am convinced that the most vigorous, the most energetic, and the most popular are these very clergy who are making such large use of these manuals. My right hon. friend, I thought, went a little bit astray when he cited his Egyptian analogy, for it he knew much about the condition of the great dependency of this country at the present moment he would be aware that one of the most serious dangers is the question of financial control which he thinks so attractive when applied to education. I do not know whether Mr. Forster ever imagined that his mantle would fall upon such an advocate of this system as the present Member for Central Bradford, but there is certainly a circumstance in connection with Mr. Forster's educational history which to some extent is repeating itself at the present moment. It Mr. Forster's "Life" there is a very singular letter which he wrote to Lord Ripon, who was bitterly taking Mr. Forster to task for his conduct on the Education Bill of 1870. Mr. Forster defended himself by saying that if they could not get the Bill through with the assent and support of the Nonconformists of the country, then the Leader of the Liberal Party was determined that it should go through with the assent of the clerical section of the House of Commons. It is singular that the very men who were fighting 1007 tooth and nail against the Education Bill of 1870, having imposed on the Nonconformists of the country by collusion between a section of the Liberal Party and a Church of England section of the House of Commons, are the very men who at the present time arte enabling the Government to carry this Bill through, in defiance of the protests of the Nonconformists from one end of the country to the other. I have never used the phrase that his Bill will kill Nonconformity. I do not believe that is the intention of the Government, in bringing forward this Bill, to kill Nonconformity, but I do believe it is the hope of a very important section of the Church of England that the measure will have the effect of materially increasing the number of the supporters of the Church throughout the country by getting hold of these little Dissenting children in the elementary schools. Indeed this has been avowed by Canon Pendleton, a well-known in spector of schools in Lancashire, who declared that the syllabus was always so arranged as to give distinctive denominational instruction to the children of Nonconformists. But to talk about killing Nonconformity is, I quite admit, to use a phrase which is absurd. It is manifestly impossible to kill Nonconformity. But I would remaind the House of two very important declarations which have been made by two accomplished leaders of Nonconformity in this country. My right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton, directly this Bill was propounded, pronounced it in this House to be a declaration of was against Nonconformity. The right hon. Gentleman is not a fanatical Dissenter, and I think that in using that phrase he accurately described the Bill it its relation to Nonconformity. But Cardinal Vaughan used a far more ominous phrase. He spoke of the Bill as a triumph of the Government over the Nonconformist opposition.
§ MR. TULLY () Leitrim, S.
Has the hon. gentleman read the Cardinals letter disclaiming that interpretation?
§ MR. PERKS
I have not got it here. I merely quoted the statement in order to support my argument that this Bill is regarded by two very prominent men as a direct attack upon Nonconformity. But, in addition, the Church of England authorities evidently regard the Bill as a measure which is of the very greatest importance to their own Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking early last year, said there were signs that the Government would listen to anything that was said because in a very great degree their own political position depended on it, and it would be rather awkward for them to face the Church if only its members were united on the subject of education. My right hon. friend the Member for Oxford University has appealed to Churchmen not to throw away the opportunity, which might never recur, of allowing the Church of England to continue to be, wherever her strength was equal to it, the religious instructor of the people. Surely these quotations justify in saying that this Bill is regarded as being directed by the King's Government against Nonconformists, and as a direct attack upon the religious tenets and the ecclesiastical position of English Nonconformists. We are told that it contains within it numerous concessions made to the Nonconformists. But why were not those who are responsible for the educational organisation of the Nonconformist Churches consulted with reference to the Bill before it was introduced? Why were not the Free Church leaders and the Wesleyans consulted? There were indications that the Roman Catholics were consulted, but then the children attending Roman Catholic schools formed but a very small proportion of the community. But there is a vast number of Nonconformist children in the Anglican schools, and inasmuch as the Nonconformist leaders were not consulted, it is rather extraordinary to expect us to accept with gratitude the scheme of the Government when not the slightest attempt has been made to bring them into line. My own conviction is that an attempt of that sort in the early stages of the squestion would possibly have succeeded. I think that the abolition of the Cowper-Temple Clause in all the schools would probably have been accepted by the Nonconformist Churches.
1009 if it had been accompanied by a scheme for placing the whole of the elementary schools under real effective popular control. But the Nonconformist leaders were not consulted, and none of their organisations were taken into counsel for a moment. The Free Churches of this country — I am not speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, but the Wesleyan Church, the Congregationalists, the Baptists, and an organisation which for the last few years has exercised very great influence throughout the country (I mean the Federation of Free Churches) have laid down schemes of elementary education which distinctly define our position. We claim no authority; we ask for popular control. We claim that there should be no tests; and lastly, we ask for Christian Bible teaching to be given under the protection of the Conscience Clause by the teachers in the elementary schools.
The Prime Minister, speaking in Manchester, used language which was certainly very strong, and was not justified, with reference to the critics of the Bill. The Prime Minister said, "The voice of the calumniator has been too long uncontradicted," and the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to refer to two grave misrepresentations concerning the Bill. The first was the statement that Schools Board schools would be abolished; and the second was that "in the rate supported schools of the future, denominational teaching would be required by law." I venture to think that that is exactly what is going to happen; and that denominational teaching will be required by law. It is true that there will be the Conscience Clause, and that children can be withdrawn from the schools; but to tell us that it is a travesty of the Bill, that it is gross misrepresentation, and that it is falsehood of the blackest character to say that denominational teaching will be required by law under this Bill, is an assertion which cannot for a moment be justified. Because, what is that extraordinary Clause to which reference has been made by preceding speakers, and on which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire is going to rest. It is a direct instruction to managers that they are to give religious instruction in the schools in 1010 accordance with the tenour of the trust deeds. Surely, that is exactly what we have been declaring; and that is one of the grievances to which we justly take exception.
There are four grievances of which Nonconformists have to complain, and these, instead of being removed by this Bill, are exaggerated and enforced by it. In the first place, there is to be no application of the Conscience Clause to the training colleges. We endeavoured to secure for the pupil teachers to who went up from the provinces to these great colleges, supported almost entirely out of public funds, the protection of the Conscience Clause, but we failed. The second grievance we have to complain of—I am not going to elaborate it, it is perfectly manifest to anyone who knows anything about the Bill—is that in 12,000 public schools in this country, supported almost entirely out of public funds. Nonconfirmists are excluded from the positions of headmaster and headmistress. A concession has been made in the case of pupil teachers; and permission which will never, or hardly ever, be exercised, has been given in the case of assistant teachers; but it is a serious blow to educational efficiency in this country to exclude from 12,000 schools Nonconformist teachers. The Prime Minister, a few weeks ago, rather plumed himself on the concession he had made to Nonconformists in connection with pupil teachers. It is just like teaching a boy how to eat his dinner, and then to bring him in and show him his dinner, and say, "Oh no, you are not to partake of it." You train these children for the teraching profession, and then you deliberately say to them, "In half the elementary schools of this country you shall not take first place, because of your religious opinions." That is a provision which, I think, will not hold good for many years. It is opposed to the whole tendency of public opinion, and even of legislation, during the past half centuary; and I wonder how long the Government really imagine such a condition of affairs is going to last. That is the second grievance which has been exaggerated, instead of being ameliorazted, under the Bill. The third grievance we have is that the bishops and clergy of the Anglican Church will have to settle what is to be 1011 the religious teaching of 700,000 Nonconformist children in Anglican elementary schools. In Lincolnshire—I refer to it because I know it better than any other county—in many cases 70 per cent.,in some cases 80 per cent., and generally 50 per cent., of the children attending the public elementary schools belong to the Methodist or some other section of Nonconformity. It seems to us a great injustice that the parents of these children should have absolutely nothing to do with their religious education; and that, in the event of any question arising as to religious instruction, the bishop of the diocese and the local clergy should be the people to deal with it. I am not able to say, I do not think the Government themselves can say, what is their interpretation of the Kenyon-Slaney Clause. I should like to know what would happen in this case, which occurred at Plymouth or Portsmouth, and was brought before the House a few weeks ago. A sailor, on coming home from sea, found that his little girl had been caned several times in an elementary schools because she would not how down to some image in the church she was taken to.
*THE SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON,) Oxford University
I do not know whether the hon. Member is alluding to this story as a matter of fact, but it has been absolutely denied. The father has withdrawn his statement, and legal proceedings have been taken in the matter.
§ MR. PERKS
I am glad to hear that. I pass from that to a case which occurred at Dorchester. There the clergyman has given some explanation. He says the children were ordered, not to bow to the alter, but towards the alter. Crucufixes were put up, the children were compelled to bow to them, and they were only removed on the protest of the local Nonconformists. What I wish to know from the Secretary to the Board of Education is, who will be responsible in such cases? Will it be the managers? The clergyman may say, 1012 "I will have a crucifix put up in this elementary schools," and the managers might reply that they would not have it. Who would then decide? Take another case. Children in many parts of the country in elementary schools are taught a little series of phrases called "Hail! Mary," which is used in the Roman Catholic Church, and very largely also in the Anglican Church. Who will say whether that little prayer or invocation is to be used or not? Will it be the managers or the clergyman of the paris? What is the interpretation of the Kenyon-Slaney Clause? Is it solely limited to an appeal to the Bishop as the religious instruction which may be given, or to the text books to be used; or does it extend to things put up in the schools, such as crucifixes or to little invocations such as I have mentioned. For example, in many parts of the country children have been marched to Mass on Saints' Days. For instance, on St. Matthew's Day the Children in a particular school were marshalled up on the highway and taken to Mass. Who would be responsible in such a matter? Would it be the managers or the clergyman? I hope, and indeed I believe, that the construction which will be put on the Kenyon-Slaney Clause by the Courts of Law when it gets there—which I have no doubt will be very soon, if it passes in its present shape, as already there is conflict between the Church papers and the Government, and the Bishop of London disagrees entirely with the interpretation given by the Attorney General—I hope, and indeed believe, that the interpretation which will be put on the Clause will be that the local managers will have absolute control as to the use of manuals of devotion, the putting up of little ecclesiastical symbols in the schools, and the arrangements for marching the children to church on the various festivals connected with the Church.
There is one other grievance which Nonconformists seriously complain about, and that is that the Bill prepetuates, to some extent, one of the grievances and inequalities of the Act of 1870—namely, facilities for the erection of new sectarian schools and the enlargement of sectarian schools; which are denied to the local public education authority, because a number of conditions are imposed which 1013 the Education Department in London will take into consideration on the appeal of ten agreed parishioners. The extra cost involved will be a grievous injustice to all who wish to see the extension of schools under public control, not the extension of sectarian schools, whether Wesleyan, Roman Catholic, or Anglican. I wish just to refer to a misconception which is very current, and which has frequently been referred to in this House. The Nonconformists have been charged with wishing to teach what is called "Nonconformist religion," and School Board schools certainly, and some of our Nonconformist schools, have been called Godless schools. The Colonial Secreatry, speaking at Birmingham, said that Wesleyans in then schools taught "Wesleyanism," whatever that may be. There is no such thing as the teaching of Wesleyanism in Wesleyan schools. I know nothing in the doctrins of the Wesleyan Church which differs from the doctrins of the Evangelical section of the Anglican Church, except the application of the cardinal principles of Christian faith. I observe that Cardinal Vaughan the other day said—Do not suppose that Christianity is a science that needs to training to teach in a[...]ht, but that any infidel, or any fool, it he likes, can teach the Christian religion to children.I quite understand the Catholic principle, as now asserted, that the clergy have the prespective right alone to teach religion; but that is a doctrine which Nonconformists absolutely repudiate. The prescriptive right of experts alone to criticise and teach is now going beyond the province of religion and is invading even the province of literature. But the Methodist Church, which ranks in number next to the Church of England. and in the United States stands first as regards number, depends for its doctrinal teraching on lay teaching, on lay interpretation of the Scriptuers, and lay deduction of the principles of Christian faith from the Scriptures. Next Sunday, 25,000 sermons will be preached in Methodist churches, mission halls, and class rooms, throughout the country, and, of these, 20,000 will be preached by laymen of all ranks of society. We entirely repudiate the notion that you can only have a clerical expert to expound the Scriptures, and enforce their 1014 teaching on children in elementary schools. Our object is not secularism. We are as much opposed to secularism as hon. Members below the Gangway can be. In fact, we hold in common with them certain principles of Christian faith; it is only when we come to their practical application that we differ from them; but we are opposed to secularism just as much as we are opposed to clericalism in the elementary schools. The Wesleyan authorities have represented again and again that what they wished for was Bible instruction given by a teacher in whom they had absolute confidence, as regards his intelligence and fairness towards sections of the children.
I wish to say a few words about the attitude of the Nonconformist Churches towards the Roman Catholic Church in this country. We voted on the side of Catholic emanicipation at a time when the Anglican Church in this country opposed it. We are willing that Roman Catholics should have absolute equality in every possible detail, but we are willing to concede to them nothing more whatever. The Nonconformist Churches in this country will, in my judgement, never agree to any special privilages of concessions being given to the Roman Catholic Church. We want to have absolute equality. We are willing to concede that to the Roman Catholics, and will fight along with them to get it; but we cannot give them any special privilages or rights which we are unwilling to give to other religious communities. We have been asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean and by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham to work this measure, and discourage, in every possible way, the contention put forward that it is the duty of Nonconformists to resist the payment of the rate. The question whether a Nonconformist will be justified or not in resisting the rate is a matter for each individual conscience, and, having settled that problem for himself, he will not be likely to be influenced in the slightest degree by the fact that he may lose his right as a citizen. I would remind the House that if the great Nonconformist communities take this serious step, they will, to some extent, be following the 1015 advice given by the Colonial Secretary in Brimingham in 1872, when he said—It had been said that he encouraged resistance to a law—at all events he did not encourage active resistance to the law. They were not going to fight the bailiffs, they were going to submit in their way; but an alter native was provided for them—an alternative which landed them in great sacritices, but still permitted them to make a protest. Whatever might have been the opposition brought against the old Church rate, let the majority not doubt for a moment that there would be just as stout an opposition against the new; and the result which followed the opposition of the opponents of the former, would in good time follow the oppoisition of the opponents of the latter.There is no doubt that the decision to which Nonconformists will have to come will be very grave one; but I do not see any conflict between the advice that has been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and the advice that will have to be given by the leaders of Nonconformity. It will be quite possible in the constitution of the County Councils and of the local bodies of management to use every exertion in public elections, in the Press, and on the platform, to secure an adequate representation, and possibly in many parts of the country an effective control, over these educational agencies; and if this Bill is likely to have, as I fear it will, a paralysing effect on education through placing the children of the country largely under electrical control, I think it will be the paramount duty of all these organised institutions of Nonconformity to put forth their utmost efforts to secure, in a way they have never yet done in the present generation, a control of or adequate representation on these educational bodies. But I ought to say that that is quite a distinct and separate question from the other, which is still more grave, namely: whether it will be the duty of the Nonconformist churches to recommend their followers to organise a resistance, passive or active, against the payment of the rate which may be charged for the maintenance of these local sectarian schools. Already, there are manifest indications that the country is dividing itself into two great hostile camps. On the one side we have the Anglican Church working on the lines of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Catholic clergy and laity. On the other side we have the representatives of labour. It is indeed a 1016 noteable fact that not one single labour organisation, no trades union, has pronounced in favsour of the Bill. Everyone of them has reprobated it; and, surely, it cannot be said that those who ought to know the true interests of the children are the clergy, the upper classes and the privileged sections of Society, and that they alone have a prescriptive and paramount right to tell the working classes how their children ought to be taught.
Have the working classes no knowledge in this matter? On the other side, therefore, we have the labour organisations of the country, we have the whole of the Protestant community, and we have the Nonconformists solid. We may find here and there a Nonconformist who is put up on a public platform by a bishop of the Anglican Church as a sort of exhibit of Nonconformist opinion. I remember a friend of mine who took a great interest in foreign missions but had never seen a convert. One day he went down to the docks and got a little black boy from the captain of one of the steamers, put him on a platform and exhibited him as a triumph of missionary enterprise. The other day an Anglican Bishop put one of our Methodist Tory baronets on the platform of the Albert Hall as a specimen. The thing as ludicrous, because the overwhelming majority of the Tory section of the Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Church, had pronounced against the Bill. At last we have a united Party against the Bill. There is no schism; we have not had to form any league; there is absolute unity in our Party. I do not believe that we can be charged with being guilty of travesty and misrepresentation when we talk of the clercial control and clerical infulence which will be exercised under the Bill. We believe it to be a serious danger. John Bright speaking in this House on the education question said: "Nothing tends more to impede the progress of liberty, nothing is more to impede the progress of liberty, nothing is more fatal to independence of spirit in the public, than to add to the powers of the priesthood in the matter of education." It is because we are anxious to defend liberty of thought, which, in our judgment, is at the root commerical and political progress, that we are opposed to a measure which has the stamp of ecclesiasticism over almost every section of it.
§ SIR JOHN ROLLESTON () Leicester
Concurrently with a general support of this Bill, the only criticism I wish to offer is that provision for the teacher of voluntary schools has not been made as it has been made for the teacherss of board schools. A great number of these teachers will now be transferred to the local authorities, and I can only say that, if their office is abolished or altered in any way, or if their pay is lessened, or if they suffer any loss, proper and reasonable compensation ought to be provided for them in this Bill; and those teachers who have experienced the difficulties existing under the voluntary system should not now be subjected to any measure of injustice. I hope there may yet be time to make some provision for them in this respect. Apart from that, I have nothing but praise for the Bill, and I most heartily support its third reading. Judging from the resolutions and petitions from my own constituency in favour of this measure, I must say that I feel that I have a mandate to give this Bill my hearty support, and I should be false to those who entrusted me with their confidence if I did not support this Bill. My own view is that this Bill is a democratic measure, designed in the best interests of the children of this country, and I believe that it is another great measure of constructive reform for which right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench are so justly famed. This Bill will offer great advantages to the present generation, and will also have a great influence on the future prosperity and progress of this country.
§ (10.5.) MR. BRYCE () Aberdeen, S.
The hon. Member who has just sat down can scarcely expect me to imitate the general terms of praise which he has bestowed upon this Bill. This measure is now passing from us. It is past our mending, and it is going to a place where is is not likely to be amended. Looking at the fact that in all its provisions this Bill is closely connected with the granting of money, I can hardly hope that in another place it will be compatible with constitutional usage to alter this Bill at all. This Bill, Sir, has been passed under unprecedented circumstances. Although it is not a Bill of an urgent character, although there is no obstruction, although all the discussion upon it has been honest and practical, directed to an 1018 examination of its provisions and to a fair and reasonable criticism of them, many of its most important Clauses have been passed without any debate whatever. The proof of the value of the debates we have had on the Bill is to be found in the fact that whenever a Clause was properly debated it immediately grew in dimensions. If hon. Members will refer to Clause 7, which was originally Clause 8, and compare it with Clause 8 as it stood originally, they will find that this Clause has more than doubled in size, and I think not more than one-fourth of the original Clause remains. That was because we were allowed to debate that Clause pretty thoroughly. Similarly, Clause 12 has been very largely changed and greatly improved, and if more time had been allowed no doubt we should have been able to effect similar improvements in other parts of this Bill. The schedules were never discussed at all either in the Committee stage or upon report, and yet they contained a great many important provisions, some of them introduced in fulfilment of undertakings made on other Clauses of the Bill.
The Bill itself has been very nearly doubled in size. It began as a measure of fourteen pages, including the schedules, and it is now a Bill of twenty-four pages. A great deal of time, no doubt, has been spent upon it, but the fact that so much time was spent upon it was due to the condition in which it came before the House. It was in some respects the worst drafted Bill that we have had for many years past in this House, not that I mean to reflect upon the drafting of the Parliamentary draughts men, who have done their work thoroughly, but I refer more particularly to the part of the drafting which belongs to the instructions given to the draughts men as to the nature of the problems which they were to introduce into the Bill. Anyone who read the Bill could perceive from the first that in many points it was vague and obscure, and sometimes I think it was intentionally obscure, for many material matters were omitted, sometimes from mere negligence, and occasionally omitted because it was desired to evade the difficult questions which would have been raised. It was necessary that the discussion should be very thorough, and as everyone knows who has 1019 followed these debates, we are able to discover in almost every Clause a great number of points which it became necessary to alter by Amendments.
Even now we have left many points doubtful. Take the last subject which employed us—I mean the case of the Amendment made at the instance of the hon. and gallant Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire. When we discussed that Amendment a few days ago, two diametrically opposite views of its effect were put forward, one by the Attorney General and the other by some other lawyers of eminence in this House. It is now left for the courts of Law to determine which of these views is correct. Of course we know that it sometimes happens, owing to the haste with which our work is done, or owing to the fact that we do not perceive all that may arise, we do make work for the courts of law, but is it creditable to us or is it creditable to any assembly of our status and experience that we should deliberately leave questions which will be immediately litigated upon, and which will send the unhappy parties to the courts in order to determine what we ought to have determined here? I must say that in reviewing this Bill, which has cost us so much time and labour, we are now almost too exhausted to be able to discuss it properly, and I notice that to-day an atmosphere of exhaustion, limpness, and lassitude has pervaded the House.
Reviewing these debates, although some of the most salient faults have been removed, and the Bill is rather more workable than it was at first, I must say that, so far as the objections taken on this side of the House are concerned, they have not been to any appreciable extent removed. In my view, and if I may venture to express what I think is the general view of this side of the House, the Bill is no better, and in some respects it is distinctly worse, than when it was brought into the House. Therefore, we have nothing to thank the Government for, and do not let it be regarded that any concessions which have been made are considered to be of the slightest value. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] I am sorry to say that if we look at these questions of principle, upon which our objections were directed, I do not think this Bill goes any way to remove them. In one point in Particular I regret very much that the option was not given to 1020 the great boroughs of retaining their School Boards if they thought fit, a point upon which so much stress was laid by the two hon. Members for Newcastle. I regret exceedingly that that provision has been struck out, because it would have facilitated the transition from the old to the new system, and would have given these great bodies the opportunity of obtaining the service which we know they value very highly.
Let us ask for the sake of comparison what we have done now by this Bill, and what was intended at first. Let us ask what it was that this Bill promised to do and what has it in fact performed. We were told when the Bill was introduced that it was to secure the denominational schools, that it was to co-ordinate all forms of education, that it was to unify and simplify the authorities, that it was to promote secondary education, that it was to establish a harmonious and uniform national system, and, finally, that it was to put an end to religious controversy and to effect a final settlement. All these objects, except the first, on which there is a vital difference of opinion between the two sides of the House, are laudable and excellent, and if the Bill had been really designed to attain these objects it would have had nothing but support from this side of the House. Let us see how far they have been attained. The Bill has placed the voluntary schools on the rates, but it has departed from the understanding which was announced when it was brought in. We were then told that the maintenance of these schools was to be put on the rates, upon the condition that the managers were to undertake the cost of the repairs. That condition has been entirely departed from in three material points, not one of which was in the Bill, and every one of which was introduced late in the Committee stage since we met in October. What has the result of these three changes been? There is the rent of the school houses, and the rent of the houses of the teachers has been estimated at £50,000 a year. a sum which will go to the voluntaey schools in the future. That is, at any rate, the best estimate I have been able to find. The sum which will be obtained by the voluntary school managers from endowments under the Clause which gave them a share of the edowments has been estimated at 1021 £75,000 a year, and the sum which they may receive form fees has been estimated at £90,000 a year, making up altogether a sum of £215,000 a year as the estimated amount which will come to voluntary schools under this Bill.
Now let us see what is the amount of the repairs, or rather the probable total cost of repairs which are to be undertaken by the managers of voluntary schools. The Bishop of London, I am informed, estimates the probable total cost of the repairs for the Church of England schools at £150,000 a year. If we take three-fourths of the £215,000 as the share of the Church of England schools, we arrive at the sum of £162,000 a year, so that in return for a charge of £150,000 for repairs, the Church of England voluntary school managers stand to receive £160.000 a year out of the subventions given to them by the Bill. That is to say they make a clear protit out of the transation. I shall be told that this will not happen in every area. I have no doubt that is so, but what is intended is to have an arrange what is intended is to have an arrangement by which all that is received over the areas is to be "pooled," and then an area which has not got these sources of income of their own is to be helped out of the general fund. What will the result of that be? The liability which, we were originally told, was to be undertaken by the managers of Church of England schools will disappear altogether. They will have a sum of money which will probably be large enough for distribution over the areas to relieve them from the necessity of obtaining any subscriptions at all in order to pay for the repair of these schools. I think we may fairly say that whether there is that bargain or not, there has been a complete departure from the understanding originally arrived at, and from the terms upon which this Bill was originally presented to the House.
What does this amount to? Some hon. Members earlier in the debate said that this amounted to a re-endowment of the Church of England. At anyrate I think it is a re-endowment for the puroposes of education in the Church of England. It amounts to giving funds to the Church of England which, without this Bill she would not have had, and which nobody expected her to have, 1022 And in a certain sense it may almost be said that the Bill goes to establish the Church of England in a further sense than that in which it was established before, because we have under its provisions made one curious change. If the Attorney General is right in his interpretation of the so-called Kenyon-Slaney Amendment, it has the effect of making the bishop the arbiter to determine what is to be the religious instruction to be given in State schools. For these schools are no longer voluntary schools. They are now to be entirely supported by the State, and the giving of such a right to the bishop was never contemplated when we began this Bill, and it is a provision which not only surprises us, but seems rather more appropriate to the sixteenth than to the twentieth century. What else does the Bill do? It destroys the bodies which have done most for education—the School Boards in the great towns. It confirms the exclusion of half the nation from headmasterships and head teacherships of schools, and it gives them a doubtful right of entry into other teaching. It heaps on Borough and County Councils a vast mass of new work, for which they have no previous experience whatever. This work is admitted to be so heavy that we are invited to devolve some of it upon another authority. The committee has no power of deciding any question; they are not answerable to the people, and, therefore, responsibility is lost because it is divided between two authorities, and because the electors have no opportunity of reviewing the conduct of those who have been chosen. It will not be in the power of the Council, with all their public spirit and zeal, to change the line of administration and to lay down a policy.
In the same way, it will be impossible for the electors to have an opportunity of determining the lines of policy, because those in whose hands the conduct of the business lies never come before them at an election, and because when the county and borough councillors do come before them there will be such a diversity of questions to be determined that it will be impossible to concentrate attention on educational questions alone This, to my mind, is one of the grave objections to the whole scheme, and it 1023 is one upon which sufficient stress has not been laid. But if the Government desire to have an educational policy which shall be the mirror of the mind of the nation, in the same sense that Parliament ought to be the mirror of the opinion of the nation, they cannot get it by such a system as they have established in the Bill. In each parish they are going to perpetuate two different kinds of schools under different kinds of managers—schools which can not be worked together as being parts of one system. I regret to see that the President of the Local Government Board and the hon. and learned Member for Stretford are not in their places. I have noticed that there is a tendency, after delivering Third Reading speeches, for hon. Gentlemen to disappear. They remind me of the Sultan in Omar Khayyam, "who bides his destined hour and goes away." The President of the Local Government Board argued that the system would be uniform because all the schools would be under the control of the local authority. Within a limited area it is capable of being served by different schools. One set may be under managers entirely at the disposal of the local authority; the other set will not be. In one set the committee will have power over the buildings at all times; in the other set they will only have power during the day, and during the evening they will have to make arrangements with the managers while they are only entitled to the use of the buildings three nights a week. In one set of schools they will appoint and dismiss the teachers; in the other set they will not have the power. In one set of schools they will be able to unite, divide enlarge or reduce schools; they will be able to group different schools under the same set of managers; but in the other set they can do none of these things. [An HON. MEMBER: They can group them.] But they cannot group them with schools which are provided schools.
The Government have put obstacles and difficulties at every step in the way of harmonious and efficient administration. Entrenched under this Bill and behind these trust deeds the non-provided schools will be able to defy the local authority in what may be proved to be the most 1024 necessary and urgent reform. They can require it to keep up three small weak schools in an area where one strong school would be infinitely better to serve the needs of the people. Confusion and waste will continue under this system, and small schools may be multiplied. Economy will be sacrificed, because the voluntary managers have no motive for economy. Efficiency will be sacrificed as well, because the local authority will be distant and will not have an intimate and direct knowledge of the schools neccssary to give it a proper and effective control. For secondary education the Bill seems to him to do practically nothing. It does provide some money, but not the whole of the money for this purpose under the Act of 1890. It imposes no obligation; it does not require a local authority to do any more for secondary education than it pleases. It gives them no directions what to do. When we were discussing Clauses 2, 3 and 4 it was pointed out that there were many matters on which it was urgently neccessary that some directions should be given, and many of the matters connected with secondary education were left entirely untouched by the Bill. Excellent proposals were put down by my right hon. friend the Member for East Somerset, who placed on the Papers a number of Clauses containing very useful practical provisions, some of them drawn from his own knowledge and some of them from representations made by the Royal Commission, expressing the wishes of County Councils and technical committees, which would have turned this Bill into a very fair measure for secondary education. The new Clauses which have been submitted have been closured, but the Government had an opportunity on the Report stage to adopt them and to incorporate them in the Bill. That they have not done so affords conclusive proof of the indifference which they have shown to the educational side of the measure. It the admirable suggestions made by the right hon. Member for East Somerset had been taken up by the Government it would have caused them no trouble, and they would have greatly added to the value and utility of the Bill. The rural problem, one of the most pressing in connection with the whole question of education, is left untouched. We had an opportunity of dealing with it on the Clause relating to endowments.
1025 We were dealing with a sum of between £100,000 and £200,000 a year, which would have been of the utmost value in edeavouring to give to poor children in neglected rural districts an opportunity of getting something better than the mere elementary education which the small board schools have hitherto been able to give. You cannot have secondary schools in all these districts, but you might have here and there a secondary class at the top of the school, as they have in Scotland, or you might establish scholarship or exhibitions of small amount to carry promising and industrious scholars to the nearest secondary school. These endowment funds would have been of the utmost value for such purposes, but the money has been practically thrown away, and given in part to the managers and part to the rates. Even the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Somerset, to enable the local authority to apply for schemes for the utilisation of these endowments, was not taken up and carried through by the Government.
For the unification of authorities, which has been represented as one of the main objects of the Bill, hardly anything has been done. Something is given with one hand, but nearly as much is withdrawn with the other. It is perfectly true, as the President of the Local Government Board said, that the Government would have encountered some resistance in carrying their proposal; but unless they did intend carrying it they had no right to represent this scheme as unifying the authorities. Instead of doing that, the scheme passes by the most vital part of what real unification ought to effect. All boroughs and urban districts have received an independent rating power for secondary education, so that you have reintroduced overlapping on the largest scale, and lost the opportunity of consolidating funds for the purposes of secondary education. What becomes of "one authority" and "co-ordination" under such a scheme as that?
The Bill, except as regards the voluntary schools, fulfils no one of the promises with which it was introduced. It fails as regards secondary education; it fails as regards unity and co-ordination. In spite of the specious phrases scattered here and there throughout the Bill, it fails to prevent overlapping, and it fails to secure economy or efficiency. The 1026 Prime Minister has said that in these debates there has been much talk about religion and some about local government, but very little about education. That is true. But why has there been very little about education? Because there is very little about education in the Bill. The Bill is almost entirely concerned either with questions which arouse religious passion, or with questions of local government.
We have been taunted with having no alternative scheme. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that twice I desired to bring forward such a scheme, and twice the Closure on Clauses prevented me doing so. I will not attempt to develop that scheme now, but one part of it would have been to increase local areas of education—I do not think the county is the proper area for elementary education; it is far too large; but we could have found an area larger than the parish, which would have been a very effective educational area. The Bill has displeased many of the local authorities. Some of the County Councils resent it becasuse it introduces an element of strife and controversy from which they have been hitherto free, and impose upon them duties which they have not the time or experience properly to discharge. Others have even gone so far as to declare their intention to refuse to work the Bill. The County Councils, as a whole, I believe, through their Association, have expressed their strong disapproval of many of the provisions of the Bill which restrict their powers, and subject them to the Board of Education.
These objections taken by the county authorities, do not promise well for the working of the Bill. The irritation amongst the local authorities is the least part of the harm which has been done. The Bill has created intense exasperation among large and active sections of the community. This has been manifested not only among Nonconformists, but also the working classes. One hon. Member has said that the Bill confers benefits on the working classes. If so, the latter do not know their friends, because the working classes, including the trades unionists and co-operators, have without exception condemned the Bill, believing 1027 that it sacrifices their interests to the demands of a section of the clergy. How can a Bill opposed by such large and important sections of the people, be repersented as being a message of peace or calculated to remove con roversy from the field of education and effect a final settlement? It does the exact opposite. The fire that was burning low has leapt up with tongues of flame, and, I fear, will continue to burn. The Bill will introduce theological and political elements into elections hitherto free from them.
And for what gain has all this opposition been incurred? We are told that it was necessary to safeguard the denominational schools. That necessity has been enforced upon two grounds. The first the bricks-and-mortar ground, is the most unreal pretext ever brought forward to obscure the true issues of a measure. Everybody knows that if it were a question of taking these schools at a fair and moderate rent the country would be willing to undertake the expense. So far from acquiescing in that extravagant doctrine with regard to the interference with trusts. I would remind the Secretary to the Board of Education that trusts have often been broken by legislation when Parliment thought it necessary to do so. The real, the substantial, reason in the minds of many, those whom I most respect, is the desire to preserve, in what they conceive to be the only way, the religious education of the people of this country. But what grounds have they for believing that this is the only way in which to safeguard the religious and moral character of the future generations of this country? It I could believe that only in this way that object was to be attained I might feel that there was a substantial compensation for the mischief to be expected from other parts of the Bill. What evidence is there that Church of England parents desire sectarian instruction for their children? No such evidence has been produced. The testimony is all the other way. English parents, we were told by the Secretary to the Board of Education, are not theologically minded.
*SIR WILLIAM ANSON
It is quite possible for a manager not to desire to interfere with the theological treatment of subjects by the clergyman, and yet for the same man, as a parent to be extremely anxious for his children to learn their catechism.
§ MR. BRYCE
But the hon. Gentleman was contrasting the interest of Scottish parents in theological matters with the total lack of such interest in English parents. The best proof that they are not anxious for this teaching is to be found in the fact that parents of the Church of England send their children to board schools just as freely as to denominational schools, even when denominational schools are equally within their reach. Nor is there any evidence that the children of the denominational schools are better citizens or better Christians than the children of board schools. If you can show that the voluntary schools turn out better members of the community, or more religious children. we should admit that you have made out your case. But no such evidence has been adduced, and we say that no such evidence can be found. Can any one say that during the thirty years in which the board schools and the voluntary schools have existed side by side there has been the slightest difference in the minds, the habits, or the character of the children they have turned out? Lastly, what evidence is there that children of twelve or thirteen can or do understand the distinctive teaching it is desired to give? How can they appreciate the dogmatic difference which are said to be so vital to their future life? Who of us at the age of twelve or thirteen appreciated these difference, and who would have retained them three years after leaving school? Is it true that in countries where the priesthood have the greatest influence on education the people have the greatest attachment to religion or most retain the habit of attending the public worship of God? Let us compare Protestant Germany on the one hand with Protestant America and the Protestant British Colonies on the other. In Germany the schools are 1029 largely denominational; in America and the British Colonies the schools are undenominational; and yet everybody knows that in Germany the number of churchgoers are only a small percentage of the number of churchgoers in America and the British Colonies. Denominational teaching has nothing to do with disposing the children to attend church during their subsequent years. I agree as to the moral atmosphere which may be created in a school by a teacher inbued with the principles of Christian morality and able to enforce them by his teaching. But that atmosphere depends on the teaching, not on the formularies. According to all the evidence, the moral atmosphere is just as strong and just as wholesome in its effects in the board schools as in the voluntary schools. Indeed, many dignitaries of the Church of England have given the most candid and frank testimony of the value of the undenominational religious teaching given in the board schools. I believe that the advocates of the Bill who think it will secure religious education, and through that the future welfare of the children of this country, are pursuing a mere phantom; they are sacrificing for a shadow the substance of a united. harmonious, undenominational system of education which would keep the children together and give them a common Christian teaching during their early years.
The House is losing by this Bill the greatest opportunity it has had for thirty years of conferring a benefit upon the education of the country. We are losing the opportunity of creating an efficient system of secondary education, which might have been created without any controversy had a Bill for that purpose and that purpose only been introduced. We have lost the opportunity of securing unity of management and the harmonious working of elementary schools in suitable areas, and of associating the people of each locality with the work of education. The hon. and learned Member for the Stretford Division spoke about the control of the local authority, forgetting that the kind of popular control that we want is popular control on the spot. The vital thing is to interest the people on the spot in their schools, but by this Bill local interest is actually diminished, because School Boards are abolished.
1030 Next to, or perhaps even greater than, the harm done to education by the introduction of religious controversy has been the harm done by the want of popular interest in it. It is the want of a real living interest in the people of this country in education that is its great drawback. That want of interest is not confined to the humbler classes, and it is largely owing to the fact that we have never had a genuinely popular system. Surely we ought, above all things, to endeavour to make our system popular. That is the secret of the success of the American, Swiss, Scottish, and Colonial systems; it is because the people in the different localities in those countries are the managers of their own schools that they will make sacrifices for education. You want to give the parent a voice in the management of the school in which his own children will be taught, so that he will do, as a ratepayer and elector, that which will be for the benefit of his child as a pupil. A system which is popular is more effective in a country like England than a system on which more money is spent but which is not popular, and managed from a centre.
These are critical years for England. We can not afford to stand still while the rest of the world is moving. We are now losing an opportunity, and it may be many years before we can retrieve it. Certainly the plan the Government have proposed cannot be regarded as a final plan. It is an ill-compacted scheme, and a cumbrous compromise between opposite methods. It is founded on no principle that endures: it is based on the sands, and it must crumble and fall. The passing of this Bill is not the end, but the beginning, of the struggle. You have made the old controversy more acute than it was before; you have emphasised the latent opposition between the claims of the clergy and the feelings of the laity in the Church of England, as well as the differences between the two leading schools of opinion in the Church—a difference which goes deeper than that between the Evangelical school and Non-conformists—and you have brought into the foreground the question of a State Church itself. You have made people ask whether the extraordinary demands which have been put forward, I will not say by, but for and on behalf of, the 1031 Church of England, do not spring from the fact that one Church is blessed in this country with privileges and a status which are entirely unsuited to our time and popular Constitution, and which are incompatible with the principles of religious freedom and equal citizenship. It is not the Opposition who have raised this controversy. It has been forced upon us, and we are obliged to accept the challenge. We deny the moral authority of a Bill which has taken the country by surprise, which was framed without any attempt to meet and respect the conscientious feelings of large sections of the people, and which has been carried by violent methods, under which parts have never been discussed at all. What will happen in the next few years I will not venture to say, but when we look at other democratic communities and see how the problem of education has been solved in Switzerland, in Holland, in the United States, and in the Colonies, we cannot doubt as to the ultimate issue. Those who think not of this or next year only, but who look beyond England, will indeed regret the loss of precious time, but at the same time they will not despair, because they will see beyond the clouds of confusion and bitterness, in whose shadow the struggle which is now beginning will have to be conducted, a clearer and a calmer sky, under which there will arise a system of education fitly organised, worthy of England, and commensurate with the needs of her people.
*(11.0.) SIR WILLIAM ANSON
The criticisms of the hon. Member for Oldham are more satisfactory to my mind than those of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The hon. Member for Oldham might have voted for the Bill if its provisions for elementary and for secondary education had been different—if, in fact, it had been almost a different Bill. But from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman this Bill has been bad in its conception, bad in its drafting, and bad in its conduct, and its provisions with regard to religion, to education, and local government are all bad. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the debates in this House have made the Bill worse than it was before.
*SIR WILLIAM ANSON
Finally, the right hon. Gentleman said that arising from the Bill a fire was lit up in the constituencies, which I must confess, however, has found very inadequate representation in this House. Other hon. Members have complained that this Bill has undergone considerable change in the course of its progress through the House. But let us consider the magnitude of the subject undertaken. We have had really to recast the educational system of the country, both elementary and secondary. And it is not as if we had had a clean slate to write upon; we had to work through a mass of previous legislation and of existing custom in order to establish what we conceive to be a system resting on proper lines. The right hon. Gentleman talked of; the present system as united, harmonious, and efficient.
*SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I will consider the present system without reference to what I believe were the words of the right hon. Gentleman. Under the present system, there is, first, as regards secondary education, the power given to local authorities to deal with technical instruction under the Technical Instruction Acts, and the use of the whisky money; then there is the Science and Art Department at South Kensington, assisting scientific teaching of a different character; establishing secondary schools of science, making grants to other schools, as formerly to the School Boards. The 1033 School Boards in the large towns made gallant efforts to fill the gap in our educational system, and to push their way from the elementary education, which is their proper task, into the region of secondary education, until they were checked by the Cockerton judgment. We are told that the Cockerton judgment shows how much simpler and better it would have been to deal with secondary education apart from elementary education. No doubt the Cockerton judgment by, to some extent, defining secondary, as distinct from elementary education, did make it easier to bring in a secondary education Bill, but, at the same time, it is quite plain, from the mode in which, under the efforts of the School Boards, elementary education has passed by insensible stages into secondary education, how important it is to have one authority to deal with the two. We have these various bodies, the technical instruction committees of the municipal bodies, the School Boards, the science and art grants to the different societies which enjoy them, and then behind them, in the region of elementary education, we have the small School Boards, with their insufficient areas, and the voluntary schools struggling against competition with rate-aided schools and with the requirements of the Board of Education. Besides which we have private enterprise and the old foundations in the region of the smaller secondary education schools, and the training of teachers wholly left to the enterprise of denominations assisted by Government grants, and not assisted by local effort at all. Out of this chaos this Bill endeavours to establish something like order, and surely, starting with this jumble of material on which to work, some changes in the course of the progress of the Bill through the House, as well as some drafting errors and omissions, might very well have been regarded as practically inevitable in the progress of the Bill.
Now as to the order which we are trying to establish. First, as regards the authority. What we have laid down with regard to the authority is first, that the county or the county borough in each case is the one authority for all the education within the range of the County Council or County Borough Council. Then the boroughs and urban 1034 districts of 10,000 and 20,000 respectively are the authorities over elementary education within their area, and every borough and every urban district is an authority for secondary education to the extent of a penny rate. The comment of the Leader of the Opposition is that we have a great variety of authorities, and having dealt with the local authorities and their education committees, and of the managers of elementary schools, he spoke of the voluntary schools as having in the background the revolving bishop, whose orbit distracted the movement of these lesser luminaries, the managers of the voluntary schools. The different authorities, however, work into one another in very reasonable and logical order, so that we obtain a combination of local autonomy and educational uniformity. The County Council has the power of raising money to the extent of a 2d. rate, and the boroughs can levy their rate. Surely these boroughs, being authorities for elementary education not only relieve the local authority of the great burden of superintending all the elementary schools, but having their own elementary schools under their own eyes can see whether the need is for the higher elementary or the lower secondary education, and they can come forward and invite the County Council with its larger resources to help them, and thus you get a combination of local autonomy and uniformity of government in respect of that higher elementary and lower secondary education which is the most important branch of our educational system.
As regards education itself, we want good elementary schools so far as they go—good intermediate and technical schools, and good secondary schools—we do not want schools always attempting to do something different to what they are intended to do. Evening schools, except in a limited number of cases, and schools deriving grants from South Kensington, will be outside the range of elementary education, elementary schools being defined as schools for boys and girls up to the end of the year in which they reach the age of fifteen. Objection to this was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, who said it was an unfortunate thing that a boy who reached the top of the elementary school, and was capable of receiving further education, and had time for it, should not be enabled to continue his education at 1035 the same school, but should have to remove to another school, possibly at some distance off. I cannot understand how a system, which has been adopted and followed with the best results by one class of the community, should be regarded as foolish when it is proposed to apply it to another class of the community. Would it be thought desirable by any hon. Member that his boy should continue at a private school after reaching the top of that school? Would it not be desirable that he should continue his education at a public school, passing from his classical extracts and smaller mathematical studies to the more difficult classics and the higher branches of mathematics, and that at the end of his school time he should again move, this time to the University? Surely there is an additional stimulus in a boy finding himself amid other youths doing different work from that he has been hitherto engaged in. Surely it gives him a fresh impulse in education if only from the change in his surroundings.
The local authorities will have to deal with some other schools of a special character. Some discussion has been raised upon evening schools, and the difficulties that will be felt in some classes of the community if these schools, giving education of a rudimentary character, are done away with. Boys and girls who should have learned the rudiments may have been sent to work at an early age, and may wish to recover the lost arts of reading and writing: they will be able to do so under the provisions of the Bill, but we do not want evening schools to move up from elementary and to deal with secondary education. Of course, it is well understood that it may constantly happen that in working for higher subjects old ground of a rudimentary character may be covered, but that is different from the sort of elementary education we wish to see confined to these evening schools. What the Government hope is that the elementary schools under the new system will be more efficacious, that children will not leave them in such a condition that they readily forget their school teaching, and that, consequently, the evening schools which are really of an elementary character will rapidly disappear.
It has been objected that there is no provision for the creation of secondary 1036 schools in rural districts for children who, after the age of fifteen, are able to stay at school, are capable of acquiring more information, and are worthy of a longer course of education. The Bill makes provision for that. If there is no available higher education in the neighbourhood of a rural school the local authority may provide higher education out of the money which is appropriated to elementary education, and the children, therefore, may stay on after the age of fifteen, and may be given education other than elementary—if there is no other available school—in the same school.
Power, too, is given to pay for and provide for the conveyance of teachers and of pupils from one school to another, and so we may say that we have brought a good and suitable education within the reach of all.
There is one other point. The local authority, before the provisions of this Bill, had no power to do anything for the training of teachers. We shall have that power in the future. In the case of all schools, colleges, or hostels provided by the education authority, the Cowper-Temple Clause will prevail. One of the great difficulties under which Nonconformists have laboured has been their exclusion from the training colleges. Of course the training colleges have been, with a few exceptions, of a denominational character; and for this reason Nonconformists have not merely been excluded from the higher teaching posts in the Church schools, where the trust deeds prevent the headmaster or headmistress from being anything but a member of the Church of England, but they have been excluded from the great board schools, because, owing to their inefficient training, they have not been able to aspire to these higher posts. Now, not only can the local authority provide undenominational training colleges, but if their resources are unequal to the provision of training colleges they can provide undenominational, hostels attached to denominational training colleges, where people can get training without incurring denominational liability.
The application of the Cowper-Temple Clause to the schools and colleges provided by the local education authority, has been the subject of some complaint.
1037 I regard the Cowper-Temple Clause as a great safeguard to the local authorities. I feel that local authorities would spend much of their time in discussion as to whether they should or should not provide a school of a particular denomination, whereas where there exists the safeguard of the Cowper-Temple Clause that difficulty will not arise. I feel that the Cowper-Temple Clause, which is at best a very illogical and unsatisfactory safeguard for those who do not desire denominational teaching, has, at any rate, the merit that it protects local authorities from internal dissensions in regard to the establishment of schools.
Before I pass from the subject of secondary education there is one thing I should like to say as to the attitude of the Board of Education to these local authorities. Much has been said as to the probability that the Board of Education will take a line with regard to the local authorities which may be offensive to them, which may put pressure upon them to do what they were not otherwise disposed to do, and which might make them feel that they were not as independent as I think the House generally desires they should be. There are many ways in which the local authority are brought into contact with the Board of Education. There is, in the first place, the consultation with the Board of Education which is required of the local authority as to the educational needs of the area under Clause 2 of the Bill. There is the constitution of the education committee. One object of the Education Board will be to see that all the interests in an area that ought to be represented are represented. Another object which the Board will have in view is to take care that the education committees are not so broken up as to prevent co ordination—to see that the education committees are not so constituted as to leave one wholly for secondary education and the other wholly for elementary education. Then there are the appeals which must come in the course of events from the managers to the Board of Education from the decisions of the local education authorities. Now, I may say for my noble friend the President of the Board of Education, as for myself, that it is our desire to co-operate as cordially as possible with the local authorities. Each will be able to 1038 contribute something. The one will bring their local knowledge and experience to bear on the subjects which they will have to consider in common. The Board of Education have a wider experience of education, and I have no doubt the Board of Education and the local authorities will work heartily together for the common end which they both have in view—the benefit of the young people in each area, to secure for them opportunity of success in life, and make their lives more full and interesting. In this way the two bodies will act together to promote the well-being of the whole community.
This is all I have to say on the secondary education part of the Bill, and I turn to elementary education and the constitution of the body which has charge of it. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire speaks of this part of the Bill as an attack on Nonconformity. I entirely repudiate that. I regard the Bill as an Education Bill, not as a measure designed either for the relief of the Church of England, or as an attack on Nonconformity, and I repudiate any such idea. The School Boards have passed away, and the local education authorities will take possession. Each local authority will find its area studded with schools of two sorts; the buildings of the one sort provided out of the rates, the buildings of the other sort provided out of private funds. They will incur responsibilities with regard to these two classes of schools. Their control over secular education will in all cases be complete and absolute, but in the case of the non-provided schools it will be limited in certain directions as regards religious instruction, and the managers will have an initiative in the appointment and dismissal of teachers. I am not going to argue or touch on the controversy which has raged so long in the House as to the composition of the board of management of the latter class of schools. We have already had fully explained the arrangements as to the buildings, the foundation managers, the right of appointing and dismissing teachers, and the maintenance of the fabric. The fabric will be maintained out of private contributions, out of endowments, out of fees, where fees are charged, and out of the rent of the teacher's house. I see no reason why these latter revenues, which are part of the revenues of the 1039 school as a building kept up by the denomination should be given up. These are matters which have been commented upon with great indignation. Sometimes they have been treated as petty, and one hon. Member described them as a huckstering demand on the part of the managers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!") I see the hon. Member still adheres to that description. The revenues are part of the revenues of the schools as built and kept up by the denomination. They are part of the property, and, for my own part, I see no reason why they should be given up. In the matter of fees the local authority can stop charging them. As regards the other matters the local authorities will benefit by the existence of teachers' houses and endowments wherever the endowments are appropriated to its own purposes.
Now, I should like, in passing, to say a word about the Kenyon-Slaney Claue. I shall not discuss the legal aspects, but some other aspects more particularly connected with it. It has been said that the Kenyon-Slaney Clause has been a great blow, a great injury, to the clergy. More than once in the course of the debate I have been told that I cannot really grasp the problems of education because I am representative of a university, and am consequently said to be a representative and mouthpiece of the clergy. To my mind the representation of a university means something wider than the representation of the clergy. There are interests not exclusively clerical which every university, and necessarily the representative of a university, must consider as his peculiar charge, but in so far as I do represent the clergy, I am proud to represent a body of men who in the past have done, and now in the present are doing, so much for the religious education of the country. In the past they were our teachers all 1040 down the line of education, and they have now, I believe, abandoned the higher walks of education to laymen, largely because they have thrown themselves with greater force and enthusiasm into other departments of clerical life. Therefore the last thing I should desire to do would be to wound the feelings of the clergy in this particular department of clerical work. But, on the other hand demands have been put forward on behalf of the clergy which, I think, could hardly be the demands of the entire clerical world. It was stated by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, the other day, that the ordained ministry of the Church were the only persons entitled to teach its doctrines, and this with reference to the religious teaching in the public elementary schools. If that is true of a public elementary school, surely it carries us a little further. If no one but the clergyman may teach the doctrines of the Church, that is to say, if no one but the clergyman may attend to the teaching of the Catechism and the Prayer Book in a public elementary school, surely the same rule would apply to the home. If the lay manager and the lay teacher may not the one superintend and the other instruct in the Prayer Book and the Catechism, surely the same thing applies to the father and mother in the household. This, I think, is almost the reductio ad absurdum of that statement of the clerical case. But I do not think that is the view of the case taken by the bulk of the clergymen. What they feel is that hitherto they have had the sole superintendence, and like most men who have exercised power and feel that they have used it worthily, they do not wish to give it up. I do not think it is too much to ask the 1041 clergy, in the present conditions of elementary education, to exchange the sole superitendence which they now exercise for a joint superintendence with five other managers, three of whom are to be specially chosen from their own denomination, and specially constituted to protect the denominational teaching of which the clergyman has been in charge. My belief is that this Clause will in its working strengthen the position of the clergyman, and that, when the first irritation of this withdrawal of the sole superintendence from the clergy has passed by, we shall find that the boards of management of voluntary schools will work well, alike with the local authority which superintends the secular instsruction and with the clerical member who is mainly interested in the religious instruction, although he is no longer the sole superintendent of it. That is all I have to say about a Clause which will, no doubt, confer upon its author a fame similar to that of the author of the celebrated Cowper-Temple Clause. The same element of legend will grow up around him as grew up around Cowper-Temple. I may mention that I have been more than once asked who were Cowper and Temple, what were their respective views, and how they were compromised. The author of the Kenyon-Slaney Clause will perhaps be regarded as two persons—one of them holding extreme Ritualistic views and the other extreme Nonconformist views, who eventually struck out a compromise which was accepted by the House.
The hon. Member for Cleveland, in a very interesting speech, made an allusion to these debates as prolonged. "Prolonged" is, to my mind, hardly an adequate expression. In fact, my vocabulary scarcely supplies me with any word which would convey an accurate description of my feelings with regard to the 1042 length of our debates. But, as has also been mentioned more than once tonight, these debates have been conducted in a friendly spirit, and the controversy, although prolonged and at times acute, has left no trace of bitterness behind it. Let me speak for my single self. In the middle of this Parliamentary battle I was brought into the fighting line, new to office and comparatively new to the life of the House of Commons, and I have experienced from both sides a consideration and an indulgence for which I should like to express my gratitude in the heartiest terms I can command.
In regard to the religious difficulty, my own belief is that under the great difficulties of the existence of the voluntary schools in these large numbers, and the real desire which, in spite of all that has been said, I believe to exist, that there should be definite denominational teaching—a desire the best proof of which is the continued existence, during all these thirty years of struggle and conflict, of these thousands of voluntary schools—my own belief is that in the curcumstances the solution provided by the Government is the best and fairest that could be found. The hon. Member for Oldham has said that if the upper classes would take a more serious view of life there would be less need for denominational teaching in the elementary schools. I cannot accept that solution, nor am I prepared to say that we have found the ultimate solution of our difficulty. I accept this solution as the best which the present circumstances will allow; but I look for another solution at a future time. Some day we shall realise that religion is and always must be an integral part of education, and at the same time that our religious differences will always exist in a nation 1043 which is a really serious nation and which takes its religious differences seriously. We shall also realise that these differences ought to be accepted and must be understood. For this reason I do not regret what has been regretted in some of the criticisms made on this Bill, that we shall bring the different denominations together in the Education Committee. The more they jostle one another in the common interests of education the more rapidly will they learn to understand one another, to appreciate one another, and to see the common good which underlies all their differences. The differences will not disappear, but they will lose their bitterness because they will be understood. That, I hope, will be the end and the solution of this great educational and religious problem. It will not come this year or next year, but I for one will never despair that it will come, and then the religious question will not be the great educational difficulty. Rather, we shall see religion set to education "like perfect music unto noble words," and at last in the fulness of time there will descend upon our schools the blessing of peace.
§ (11.40.) DR. MACNAMARA
I desire to express my sincere admiration of the manner in which the First Lord of the Treasury has acted during the proceedings on this Bill. His exquisite courtesy and unfailing good temper will always remain a pleasant memory, although they must be associated with a matter on which we sincerely differ. I am glad that his patience has lasted so long, but I could have wished that it had sasted to the end of Clause 20, so that we might have had an opportunity of going into those repealing Clauses which 1044 touch matters of great importance, and not consequential upon anything that has transpired during the Committee or other stage of this Bill. But the First Lord told us that there was nothing for it but to apply the Closure by compartments. I think we might have made a better Bill if we had had a little longer time for discussion. Whatever might be said of the merits of the Bill, I would like to say that it has worked something in the nature of a modern miracle during the eight months it has been before the House and the country. I say modern miracle advisedly. It has created on the part of the English people something in the nature of an interest in the education question. The English people up to the present time have had little or no belief in intellectualism as a factor of national defence. They have won their way to superiority by physical superiority almost entirely in the past, but they will not do it in the future. However superior physically they may be, other forces are at work. I think that John Bull does not connote the enormous changes that are going on all around. This Bill, with all its defects on its head, and there are many, has awakened him to the importance of national education, and the gravity of it from the point of view of national defence, and to that extent it is really a blessing in disguise. That is my deliberate judgment upon it. But when it goes into the localities I am bound to confess that I see it must be associated with very much irritation, because it cuts across so many of the traditions of our educational system. That irritation will not subside for some time. All that is good. So long as we can keep John Bull awake we have a priceless stimulus. I believe the result of keeping him awake on this subject will 1045 be that he will make enormous changes in this Bill. I think a decade will not pass over our heads until that will happen. I am perfectly grateful for the Bill from the fact that it has aroused the interest of the people of this country. I cannot come up in the train without hearing people discussing the Education Bill. I cannot help wondering what the good people of Sevenoaks thought things were coming to that they should have an election fought entirely on the education question. I believe that if we can keep that interest alive all the bad things in the Bill will be driven out under the irresistible force of public opinion.
I should like to turn to two or three of the main principles of the Bill, and to say a word or two on each. First of all in regard to the new machinery for local education in this country. The Government has determined to go to the municipal councils for their local authorities for education in the future. I said on the First Reading that there was nothing anti-democratic in that. I understand that it was the original form of the Bill which Mr. Gladstone placed before the Cabinet in 1869, and which Mr. Forster introduced in 1870. The proposal was not to creat an ad hoc body, but to make the municipal councils the local authority for elementary education. The ad hoc authority was the result of an Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, and supported by the hon. Member for Oxford University. Why does the Government go to the municipal council for the local authority for education? From the point of view of a good many of us on this side of the House, we cannot help feeling that, however we cannot help feeling that, however desirable it may be to bring the control of education into the general field of municipal activity, we think it should 1046 be accorded a separate election and a separate franchise. There is at the back of many of us this sort of feeling, that when education is handed over to the municipal council, which has a thousand and one other things to attend to, it is likely to be slowed down and overlooked, and not so likely to be prosecuted with that enthusiasm and vigour with which it would be prosecuted if left to the control of a body exclusively elected for education, and nothing else. There is a feeling among the Progressives that that is the reason why the Government have gone to the Municipal Council for the local council for education. If that is the view of the Government I believe it is doomed to complete disappointment.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
I do not think for a moment that the Municipal Councils, with their local patriotism and their desire to promote education in their own centres, will try to slow down education. Remember we can only judge of those points by what they have done in the past. I do not think we can pay the present Ministry the credit of being enthusiastic on the subject of elementary education in this country. The last of the Vice-Presidents of the Council will tell you frankly that the members of the Government are composed of an aristocratic class who do not believe in higher education for the children of the people, being perfectly convinced that there are certain functions in civilised life which are best performed by ignorant people. I believe that in the administration of the counties for some time there will be a disposition to slow things down, but I do not think for a moment that the 1047 great municipalities of the north of England—Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, and Liverpool—are likely to be less progressive in the work of education than would be a School Board elected for the same area. Would Ministers tell us if this is the reason? One reason they suggest is that they want to get rid of a number of elections. We have heard tonight that there are too many elections, and that people are sick and tired of them. We are prepard to meet the Government on that issue. You could have elected an ad hoc body for education on the same day and on the same franchise as you elect your Municipal Council.
The First Lord says that one of the desires of the Government in giving the work to the Municipal Councils, and this of course is quite a sincere desire, is that it would be possible to bring all grades of education under one authority in the same area. That is an admirable reason, and I with it entirely. If you are to have an educational ladder in use you can only have it by co-ordinating the different grades of education, and so long as there are separate authorities you cannot have complete co-ordination. It is desirable and expedient that you should have all grades of schools under one authority in the same area. I agree entirely as to the essentiality of that. But when I remember how very little we hear of the blessed word co-ordination now-a-days I cannot help recalling to mind the highly-coloured play bills that depict the Surrey side drama. I would say to the Government, "Live up to the poster." In the First Lord's First Reading speech he spoke of co-ordination, but I confess I do not hear much about it now. I can put the First Lord's position in a sentence more 1048 succinctly than by quoting from any speech. It is a statement contained in a letter written to the hon. Member for North West Ham. In that letter the right hon. Gentleman said—The Government quite recognise that until both primary and secondary education in each district are confided to a single education authority, we cannot regard our educational system as properly organised.That is the whole position taken up by the Government—a position in which I most entirely and thoroughly agree. What has been done to live up to that poster? It is true that this Bill provides us with an authority for all grades of education in counties and boroughs. You have got under Clause 1 of the Bill 129 authorities which live up to this ideal of co-ordination. But you have got a great deal more than that which do not live up to the poster by any means. You have the proviso of Clause 1 of which I moved the rejection in Committee and of which I stand a pronounced opponent. I am sorry for the difficulty in which the First Lord finds himself, and I should have been glad if he had shown more courage and had lived up to his own testimony for one authority for all grades of education.
§ It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.
§ Mr. SPEAKER, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 16th October last, adjourned the House without Question put.
§ Adjourned at two minutes after Twelve o'clock.