HC Deb 22 July 1902 vol 111 cc988-99

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]

Clause 7:—

Amendment proposed— Inpage 2, line 39, after the word 'authority,' to insert the words 'shall, where the local education authority are the Council of a county, have a body of managers consisting of a body of managers not exceeding four appointed by that Council, together with a number not exceeding two appointed by the minor local authority. 'Where the local education authority are the Council of a borough or urban district, they may, if they think fit, appoint for any school provided by them such number of managers as they may determine. '(2) All public elementary schools not provided by the local education authority shall have a body of managers consisting of a number of trust managers not exceeding four appointed as provided by this Act, together with a number of managers not exceeding two appointed—

  1. '(a) Where the local education authority are the Council of a comity, one by that, Council and one by the minor local authority; and
  2. '(b) Where the local education authority are the Council of a borough or urban district, both by that authority.
'(3) One of the managers appointed by the minor local authority, or the manager so appointed, as the case; may be, shall be the parent of a child who is or has been during the last twelve months a scholar in the school. '(4) The "minor local authority" means the Council of any borough or urban district, or the Parish Council, or (where there is no Parish Council) the parish meeting of any parish which appears to the County Council to he served by the school. Where the school appears to the County Council to serve the area of more than one minor local authority, the County Council shall make such provision as they think proper for joint appointment by the authorities concerned.'"— (Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, in the absence of his hon. friend the Member for East Northamptonshire, he desired to move the Amendment standing in his name. It raised the question of the management of schools provided by the local authority, and provided that that should be delegated entirely to the minor local authority, which was explained as the Council of a borough or urban district, or a Parish Council. With regard to the Council of a borough or urban district, what would happen would be that the Council would appoint a Committee, called the Education Committee; and all the Amendment proposed was that that Committee should practically be the Board of Management of the district. There was a great deal to be said for it. It would be absurd to have one Committee controlling education and another Committee managing the schools, as the work would be practically the same. The most serious part of the question was the handing over of the management entirely to the Parish Councils. The Amendment proposed that the Parish Council should be the sole managing body, and he thought that in many districts that would be a most valuable provision. It would at any rate have the advantage of obviating the composite boards which had been proposed, and which would have no direct responsibility to the ratepayers. That was certainly an advantage in favour of the Amendment. Under the composite Board of Management suggested by the Prime Minister, what would happen? First of all, the County Council would appoint a Committee. That was two removes from the electors. Next, that Committee would appoint a Board of Management, which was three removes from the electors; and then some other body would also be called in. It was perfectly true that if there was any complaint with regard to the management of a school, the only way in which the parents could get at the managers would be by lodging a complaint with the County Council. The local County Councillor would have to be got at in the first instance, and then he would have to get up in the County Council, which met only once in every three months, and complain of a body which was not present. The only way in which he could get at the management would be to wait until the meeting at which the Committee was appointed; but there was nothing in the Bill providing for the period for which such Committees should be appointed. They might sit in perpetuity; they were to be the absolute arbiters of the situation; they would be life tenants of the post, unless words were introduced making it clear that they went out of office with the County Council. But assuming they were to be re-appointed whenever a now Council was elected, they could be called to account only once in three years. That was surely a very indirect way of bringing home responsibility for a local complaint. Whether the whole thing should be handed over to the Parish Council was an arguable question; his hon. friend, at any rate, suggested that the Parish Council should manage its schools, and he was not at all sure whether in some districts that ought not to be done. He would rather the County Council was given an option on that point. It was certain, however, that if the parents and ratepayers were to be interested they must be given some direct responsibility. In these districts practically the whole responsibility would be on the Board of Mangers, as the County Council, having no local knowledge or other local information, would very rarely throw over the suggestions of the Board; if they did so, it would amount to a vote of want of confidence in the managers. Supposing it was necessary to make some addition to the fabric of the school, to make the building more commodious, or to incur expenditure on apparatus or equipment, that would be a purely parochial charge, and it would be much better that the Parish Council, in such a case, should have the control and responsibility. The representative of the ratepayers would then consider the matter from the point of view, not only of the expense, but also of the advantage to the locality. In that way there was much to be said for the Amendment of his hon. friend, winch he now begged to move.

Amendment proposed- to the said proposed Amendment— After the first word 'county,' to insert the words 'shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be managed by the minor local authority, and shall.' "— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."


thought this would be a very unfortunate Amendment. By an earlier Clause the Bill declared that the local authority should be responsible for, and have control over, secular education. If they put, in as the managers of the school in which that secular education was to be provided, a body of gentlemen representing the parish in which the school was situated, they might conceivably have a conflict of opinion between the locally elected body and the central body. That would be very unfortunate, and militate against the whole success of the Bill. He thought that it would be far better, as they had given responsibility to the central authority, to give them, the machinery by which that responsibility could be carried into effect. The representation of the minor local authority was provided for by the Bill and by the Amendment now under discussion, and he thought the machinery there provided was far more workable than that suggested by the hon Member.


said that the object was to secure efficiency in the local machinery. The right hon. Gentleman had not fully considered the question of local delegation of the duties of the county educational authority, and also the formation of Committees with the same power as the central county Committee in respect of certain areas. The fact that such delegation was contemplated, greatly strengthened the case for imposing on the localities a responsibility for the effective management of the schools. By means of this local responsibility under the control of the central county authority, they were not vitiating that authority, but really associating with it the local life and interest in the work of education in the most effective way. They would thus secure all that could be effectively maintained under the present Bill of the chief merit of the School Boards in the past with regard to the detailed ad ministration of education. The Amendment was really a limited adaptation of the principle of Clause 10 of the Bill of 1896; it simply concerned the question of administration, and in no sense touched the question of the denominational schools. The best way to work this educational machinery was strongly to support the central authority in the county areas, but it was obvious that that authority could not effectively attend to all the details of management without the enthusiastic and interested assistance of the localities themselves. He did not attach so much importance to the Parish Councils as his hon. friend; he thought the Amendment could be worked by the management being placed in the hands of the councils of the small boroughs and urban districts, and also of the joint councils of united parishes—the union being effected on somewhat the same lines as under the Act of 1870. He was strongly in favour of the central authority exercising a power of co-ordination and regulation over the whole education of the county, subject to local responsibility" for the management under their direction, and he failed to see how his proposal would lead to any conflict with the general controlling power of the central county authority.


said he could not feel the force of the objection taken by the right hon. Gentleman to this Amendment. Upon the First Lord's own showing, there could be no conflict between the minor authority and the County Council, because the managers were entirely at the mercy of the local education authority. When Clause 6 was under discussion, the right hon. Gentleman assured the Committee that the local authority would be supreme, that the management would have no independent powers of volition, and that they would be bound to carry out every direction of the local authority. Under those circumstances, what possible conflict could there be? Without expressing a very decided opinion as to details, the proposal had, at any rate, one recommendation, viz., that it would enable groups of schools to be at once dealt with, and there would be no necessity of introducing special provisions so far as the boroughs and urban districts were concerned, because the minor authority would at once have all these schools placed under it. In the case of boroughs and urban districts, whore the School Boards had been very effective authorities, and had not been open to the objections urged against rural School Boards, the Amendment would practically restore such merits as the School Board system had. It would bring back a local body to manage small groups of schools in boroughs and urban districts, and we should have the advantage of one rating authority. Therefore, from the point of view of the Bill itself, he would have thought there was something to be said for the Amendment, and he was rather surprised the right hon. Gentleman should have dismissed it in so cavalier a fashion.

MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)

hoped the Government would not accept the Amendment, which would destroy all links between the controlling authority and the Board of Managers. He attached supreme importance to those links being maintained. If there were representatives of the local education authority on the Board of Management, the other managers were far more likely to understand the directions given to them by the county authority, and there would not be that danger of friction and misunderstanding that there otherwise would be. The fact that a power of delegation was to be given was rather an argument against the Amendment. If the county authority thought they could secure better management by delegating their powers, they could do so under the Bill. But the body to which the powers were delegated would not be in the position proposed by the Amendment. It would not be in an independent position: it would be simply in the position of a delegate, and would j therefore be far more likely to carry out the directions of the authority from ! which it received its powers.


said that, as one who expected to have a good deal to do—as a member of a County Council, as a manager I of a voluntary school, and in other respects —with the organisation of education under this Bill, he had every confidence that if they took care to limit the spheres of action of the two bodies—of the local education authority on the one hand, and of the smaller and minor authority on the other—not only would there be no danger of their clashing, but, on the contrary, they would get the wider outlook of the larger authority and the closer and minuter attention of the minor authority. In his own county, a large and sparsely populated district, there were ninety-three elementary schools, scattered over nearly 500,000 acres; and obviously it would be quite impossible for the County Council to manage the details of each individual school. It would be necessary for the county authorities to delegate their powers to smaller bodies, and those smaller bodies should be given a distinct status in order to get the best people to serve on them, and also a certain local rating power, so as to create that interest in the schools which only pecuniary responsibility would give. In many places, elementary education had suffered, and was suffering, from want of local interest. A certain number of School Boards were doing their work very well, according to their lights and opportunities. Voluntary schools were not worked as they should be, and they did not command the confidence of the people who sent their children to them, because the great majority of the scholars were the children of Nonconformists, while the schools themselves were entirely carried on by Church people. He was not saying one-word against the spirit in which the members of the Church of England carried on their schools, but he thought those schools should be guided by the central authority.


We have already resolved that the whole responsibility for the control of these schools should be in the hands of the central authority.


replied that the machinery they had hit upon carried out that control in a very ineffectual way. It was all very well to lay down general theories and say that they should have local control, but when they found the machinery for giving that control was inadequate and imperfect, then they did not gain their object at all. Unless this was provided for in the Act itself, they would not arouse local interest in this matter. He agreed with what had been said by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire, that the local education authority should have some of its members on the governing body of the managers of the school.


said he did not think that there was the least fear of the local authority not having complete control, and if there was any doubt about it later on they would have it made stronger still by the Government proposals. The hon. Member for East Somersetshire had gone so far in his advocacy for County Councils in their work that he had really forgotten the interests of education in his anxiety to support County Councils. The first point to be gained in all educational work was to make education popular. He knew it would not be popular with the boys who went to school, but it would be made popular with the parents if they had something to do with the education provided. If the electors were connected with the education given in the schools in their district, there would be more interest taken in education, and more inclination on the part of parents to see that their children attended regularly. What they were all working for was to get a more efficient education, and the Amendment they were considering did not in any way affect the religious question. He hoped some little allowance would be made for the popularity which education would require to gain, more especially in country districts, where it was most unpopular at the present time, and where they were most likely to regard education as a tiresome thing. There was another reason which appealed very strongly to him, and it was that they brought the managers of the schools much nearer to the directly-elected representatives of the people. He hoped this Amendment would be fairly considered, and not brushed aside as something which was quite unreasonable. It did not touch any of the principles of the Bill, and he believed it had been of very great assistance to education in the country generally.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

said the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire had had much experience in every grade of education from the lowest to the highest, and he received anything he might say upon this subject with great respect. If this Amendment were adopted, it would put an immense amount of life into the small parochial schools; and to have a directly-elected body instead of a nominated one would ensure the earnest co-operation of the people. The Royal Commission which inquired into the schools some thirty years ago declared that no skill in organisation was of so much value in education as the earnest co-operation of the people. According to the report of this Commission, the American schools appeared to have no great excellence of method, but the schools were in the hands of the people, and from this fact they derived an educational force which made up for all their deficiencies in that respect. If, under the Government's scheme, some fifteen or twenty gentlemen were nominated for the various boards of management, probably with extremely imperfect knowledge of the circumstances of the neighbourhood, it was true that that would place a large amount of patronage in their hands, but he could see no earthly reason why that patronage should not be in the hands of the general body of the community, for this would add very greatly to the interest which the people would take in the schools. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen would bear him out that in Scotland the fact that the people wore so closely associated with the government of the schools added very largely indeed to the effectiveness of those schools, and had had a large effect in producing a result of which Scotsmen all the world over were proud. In Switzerland—which had done so much for the education of the people—the communal schools were, in the hands of the locality, and were practically managed by the parish council. He believed that the complete success of the Swiss educational system was largely to be ascribed to this particular fact. He agreed with the Royal Commission that in England even inferior management, if backed up by the hearty sympathy and interest of the people, would often succeed better than much greater skill without such support. The whole object of the right hon Gentle-

man appeared to be to give the power of nomination of these gentlemen, who would, no doubt, hold broad views and large sympathies: but no amount of skill in organisation could make up for the cordial popular sympathy which could only be secured in education by directly enlisting the people in the management of their own schools.

(11.48.) Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 230. (Division List No. 314.)

Dickson, Charles Scott Keswick, William Plummer, Walter R.
Doogan, P. C. Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow Power Patrick Joseph
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.) Pretyman, Ernest George
Duke, Henry Edward Lee. Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Purvis, Robert
Faber, George Denison (York) Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S Pym, C. Guy
Farrell, James Patrick Llewellyn, Evan Henry Randles, John S.
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Rankin, Sir James
Ferguason, Rt Hn. Sir J.(Mane'r Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Ffrench, Peter Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S Reddy, M.
Field, William Lowe, Francis William Redmond, William (Clare)
Finch, George H. Loyd, Archie Kirkman Reid, James (Greenock)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Remnant, James Farquharson
Fisher, William Hayes Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Renwick, George
Fison, Frederick William Lundon, W. Richards, Henry Charles
Flavin, Michael Joseph Lvttelton, Hon. Alfred Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson
Flower, Ernest Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison Roche, John
Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ. Macdona, John Cumming Ropner, Colonel Robert
Foster, PhilipS. (Warwick, S. W MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Round, Rt. Hon. James
Garfit, William MacIver, David (Liverpool) Royds, Clement Molyneux
Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn MacVeagh, Jeremiah Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln
Gordon, Maj Evans- (T'rH'ml'ts M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool Seely, Maj J.E.B (Isle of Wight
Gore, Hn G.R.C. Ormsby- (Salop M'Kean, John Seton-Karr, Henry
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Goschen, Hon. George Joachim M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East
Goulding, Edward Alfred Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton Smith, HC (North'mb, Tyneside
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Molesworth, Sir Lewis Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Greene, Sir E W (B'ry SEdm'nds Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Spear, John Ward
Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs. Morgan, David J (Walthamst'w Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Grenfell, William Henry Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh. Stroyan, John
Gretton, John Morrell, George Herbert Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Greville, Hon. Ronald Morrison, James Archibald Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Hall, Edward Marshall Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Sullivan, Donal
Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Mount, William Arthur Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hambro, Charles Eric Murphy, John Talbot, Rt, Hn. J.G (Oxf'd Univ.
Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G.(Mid'x Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Thornton, Percy M.
Hamilton, Marq of L'nd'nderry Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Hammond, John Nannetti, Joseph P. Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Newdigate, Francis Alexander Tully, Jasper
Hare, Thomas Leigh Nicol, Donald Ninian Valentia, Viscount
Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N. Warde, Colonel C. E.
Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Nolan, Joseph (Loath, South) Warr, Augustus Frederick
Hay, Hon. Claude George O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'r'ry, Mid Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts
Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Heath, Arthur-Howard (Hanley O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne
Henderson, Sir Alexander O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Hope, J.F (Sheffield, Brightside O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Wills, Sir Frederick
Howard, Jno. (Kent, F'versham O'Malley, William Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)
Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.) O'Mara, James Wortley, Rt. Hon C. B. Stuart-
Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Wylie, Alexander
Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Jordan, Jeremiah Pemberton, John S. G.
Joyce, Michael Penn, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Percy, Earl Sir William Walrond and
Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop Platt-Higgins, Frederick Mr. Anstruther.

It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.