HC Deb 23 June 1902 vol 109 cc1462-96

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 2:—


, resuming his speech, said he desired to urge upon the Government in the strongest possible terms the wisdom of acceding to the Amendment of his hon. friend in the interests of the Bill and of the nation. It must be easy to understand the strong objection of non-county boroughs to be subordinated to the County Councils. In the vast majority of cases the practice of the County Councils had been to consider that the rates should be relieved at the expense of education, whereas the Borough Councils had held that education led to a saving in the rates. This Bill was primarily for the purpose of establishing a local authority for education, and it ought at least to define the duty of the local authority, and to convey from Parliament a mandate to the County Council as to the duty entrusted to it. They had heard a great deal about the variety and elasticity of education, but in some subjects at least, he had noticed that the sympathy had been in the direction of Mr. Squeers's style rather than that of modern education, and Squeers's methods were both various and elastic. But the great fault of the Bill was that it was purely permissive, and what the Amendment sought was to secure that it should be declared to be the duty of the County Council to aid higher education. Yet that was strenuously resisted on the part of the Government. He did not doubt for one moment that many County Councils would aid higher education. But he could not forget that the whisky moneys had as a general rule been devoted to the relief of rates—wholly in the great majority of cases, and partially in many others. Laggards ought not to be allowed to set the pace for the country in educational matters, and there was really more need for dealing with higher education than with elementary education. Unfortunately secondary education was still in a very chaotic condition. His own experience in Yorkshire was that for technical education, good primary and secondary education was absolutely necessary, and in too many cases the funds which should have been devoted to technical education had been applied to the teaching of those who ought to have been instructed in secondary education schools. After all, this secondary education was absolutely necessary in the interests of the business of this country. There were communities dependent on scientific knowledge and training for their business prosperity, but their trade had been diverted from this country, and the question was whether it was too late to recover those particular forms of industry from their competitors. He hoped that, so far from waiting, they would wait no longer, but would make a determined attempt to recover what had already been lost in our own spheres of industry. It was suggested that if the Bill were made mandatory it could not be enforced, but the reply to that was that its terms were practically those of the Bill of 1870. He quite admitted that the Amendment might require enlargement. There might be towns in which it might not be necessary to apply the whole of the whisky money to education. But precedent would be against that point. So far as it was wanted the money ought to be so applied, and it should be ear-marked if not used at the time; it should be kept separate and accumulated until it could be used for the purposes of education. Local authorities were most anxious to get a proper mandate from the House on this subject, and with one exception they were in favour of the Amendment. He would take first the city of Liverpool. The Council of that city passed a resolution, in which it was said that something should be inserted in the Bill which should declare it to be the duty of the local authority to make provision for secondary and technical education. Then he had a resolution passed by a non-county borough in Lancashire strongly maintaining that all moneys received under the Local Taxation Act should be ear-marked for technical education. His right hon. friend, in picturesque language, suggested that the policy indicated in the Amendment would have a petrifying influence, but as it was, when the boroughs asked for bread there was a strong disposition to give them a stone. He believed in the course recommended by the boroughs, which were consulting the greatest of all national needs. Education might be costly, but in education parsimony was not economy, and he agreed with the American statesman who said that, though the education rates were the highest of all rates, they ought to be willingly paid because they made the greatest of all possible returns to the State. Education had been too long neglected, and he hoped that the Government, realising this, would enable progressive communities to perform their educational duties with advantage to themselves locally, and to the nation at large, and thereby to consult not only the happiness and welfare of individuals, but the commerce and prosperity of the nation.

(9.18) MR. BOND (Nottinghamshire, E.)

said he had listened with profound disappointment to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He believed it would lean immense advantage to the country, if, when the local taxation money could not be usefully applied at once, it could be accumulated and used as educational needs developed. There ought to be some capital on which it was possible to fall back in order to establish the fresh educational institutions required by the needs of the day. If that course could have been pursued by the London County Council in employing the funds that had come into their hands, they would have had at their disposal at this time something like £1,200,000; and he asked the Committee to consider the immense advantage which would have resulted from the existence of such a large capital sum. They had been told that the Government were anxious to introduce a large measure of educational reform, but he could not help thinking that they had not risen to the height of the occasion, and that they were letting a golden opportunity go by. A great and crying need of our educational system on all hands was acknowledged to be a better and more universal provision for middle class education. Matthew Arnold called attention to it long ago, and the complaint had been re-echoed from many quarters since. Now that the moment had arrived, and a Government with a large majority behind them, though that majority were not all agreed on the subject, had the opportunity of doing something substantial for the improvement of that middle class education, and for the improvement of education other than elementary, they let the opportunity go by. The Bill, however, contained some provisions which were useful in that direction. It at least did away with the absurd restriction which tied down the use of local taxation money to technical instruction only. Technical instruction, as they all knew, received a very latitudinarian interpretation from the Board of Education. It would be a great thing, however, to get all ambiguity removed, and to have it made clear that the money could be applied by all county authorities for any purpose of education which was not elementary as defined by the Act. But that, of course, did not do away with the desirability of making such application compulsory. The Leader of the House need not be alarmed whatever amount of dissent there might be on the Ministerial side, if he declared himself in favour of the view he was supporting that the majority of his followers would leave him in the lurch. At all events they were assured by the speeches made that afternoon, and by the cheers which followed these speeches, of the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite, which he believed to be dictated not by partisan feeling, but by a sincere desire to promote the cause of education, and to bring about a better state of things than that which now prevailed a state of things which at this stage of our history was almost a disgrace to the country. He felt very keenly on this matter. He had watched with immense interest beneficial work in the application of the local taxation money for London education, and he believed the county and borough authorities, having sowed their wild oats in the application of the money, were coming more and more to the conclusion that it was not desirable to squander the sums placed at their disposal in giving sporadic village lectures on wood-carving or the principles of agriculture. He did not deny that those things might possess a certain amount of usefulness, but it was not the most desirable way of disposing of these large sums of money. Having served their apprenticeship he believed that a good many of these authorities had learned an exceedingly useful lesson, and would apply these funds in a much more admirable way in the future than had hitherto been the case. The Government were making a great mistake in not bringing the laggard counties to the standard of the progressive ones. As to the observations of his right hon. friend the Member for Sleaford, he thought he had misconstrued this Clause, and had not altogether realised what its effect might be. He seemed to think that if the word "may" was deleted, and the word "shall" inserted, a fresh rate would be imposed on the counties by the local educational authorities. But he did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that by inserting the word "shall" instead of "may" they would compel the local authorities to impose upon themselves any greater burden than they carried at present. He regretted the course the Government had adopted, and he hoped that they would yet see their way to adopt another.

MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)

said he wished to congratulate the Government very sincerely on the fact that they had resisted the temptation to give away their agricultural supporters, and play into the hands of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. There were a good many who thought that this word "may" was the one thing which made the Bill worth the paper it was written on; at any rate, it was the one thing which stood between the agricultural interests and the increasingly profuse expenditure of educational zealots like his friend on the right, and many others. He did not think that if hon. Members knew the condition of agriculture, especially in the eastern counties, they would vote for this Amendment with so light a heart as they would otherwise do. He had been rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for North Camberwell stating that the agricultural interest could bear this tax very well, that there was nothing in it. And then the hon. and learned Member for Haddington said that the agricultural interest was doing very well, for they were getting £4 an acre for their farms. The hon. and learned Member must have forgotten that instead of getting £4 per acre of rent, it was £4 per acre for the sale of freehold. Hon. Members opposite were always talking about trusting the people. Why could they not trust the local authorities elected by the people in a matter of this kind? He himself was a representative of the class which sat on local Boards; he was a member of a Technical Instruction Committee, he had sat on School Boards, and was even a pious founder, but he should be blind to the merits of the permissive clause of this Bill, except on consultation with his agricultural friends. The agricultural interests had, in fact, never had fair play in this House, and he hoped that this was the dawn of an era of better treatment of the agricultural interest in these matters. The agricultural interest was absolutely uncomplaining. [HON. MEMBERS on the Opposition Benches: Oh, oh!] That was so. They never asked for anything, or if they did, they never got it. They did not ask for subsidies or doles, and other of these, things. And what was the result? As a rule, the agricultural interest was treated with less consideration than black people. He congratulated the Government very heartily on having shown a stiff back on this matter, and he was sure that the attitude adopted by the First Lord of the Treasury would make the passage of the Bill a good deal more facile.

(9.30.) MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N. W.)

said that those who had had the privilege of hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would have supposed that this Bill would create a revolution in the education of the country, and provide a true educational system. After having listened to the debate hon. Members would see what kind of revolution it was to be. The right hon. Gentleman had practically admitted, and he thought the subsequent course of the debate had demonstrated, that the amount of secondary education to be given in the counties would depend almost entirely on the character of the chairman of the County Council or of the Education Committee. If that chairman happened to be a representative of education of the character of the hon. Member for East Somerset, then in all probability some liberal measures in behalf of secondary education would be devised. But, unfortunately, chairmen such as his hon. friend were not very numerous, especially in the rural districts of this kingdom, and therefore the practical outcome of the Bill as it stood would be that the chance of the children in the rural districts getting a good secondary education would depend on the character of the chairman. He maintained that that was not the position in which national education should be left. Surely these children in the rural districts should have equal rights with those in the great towns to obtain educational advantages. In the hon. Members for East Somersetshire and the Tewkesbury Division of Gloucestershire they had typical representatives of the chairmen of County Councils. They took entirely different views in regard to education, and hon. Members would understand from that how desirable it was that some clear mandate should be given by this House as to how this money was to be spent. The hon. Member for the Tewkesbury Division said he apprehended that the intention of Parliament was very different from that of the hon. Member for East Somerset. Supposing that the County Councils administered the new funds according to the intention of Parliament, what would they understand by that if the Bill remained in its present state? For in regard to secondary education they might do certain things, but in regard to primary education certain duties were absolutely imposed upon them. If the County Councils gathered the intention of Parliament on the principle of the hon. Member for the Tewkesbury Division, they would say that they had certain duties to perform in regard to primary education which they had not in respect to secondary education. At this moment the one great need of the country was some better means of technical and secondary education, but the whole of that was dismissed in the Bill in a few lines, instead of being put forward in the forefront of the measure. Those of them who were engaged in commerce knew that their primary difficulty in conducting business was to get in their assistants practical knowledge combined with scientific training. They could sometimes get men with practical knowledge without scientific training, and sometimes men with scientific training without practical knowledge. Their great need was to have the two combined, and that could not be realised unless some great improvement was made in regard to scientific training under a secondary educational system. He submitted that this Bill left the position of secondary education even worse than it had been at any time during the last six or seven years, because they had lost under the School Boards their higher grade schools, and to a large extent the position of the evening continuation schools, and the science schools had been damaged. He thought that every educationist admitted that they needed a complete secondary education from a commercial point of view, as well as from those higher considerations which were common in all things. What were County Councils to do if this clause as to option was preserved? They had had expressions from the right hon. Member for Sleaford, and others had laid down the proposition that an advanced education was likely to damage the population in the rural districts, and that it was through education the population was migrating largely from the rural districts to the towns. In his own city of Norwich the Minister for Agriculture, accompanied by a late hon. Member of this House, had appeared on the platform of a large meeting and addressed the farmers on that very principle—that the agricultural districts were being depopulated on account of education. He was sorry to say that the Minister of Agriculture, who was present, did not rebuke the right hon. Gentleman, but said that a great deal of nonsense was being taught in the rural districts. He should say that if the success of agriculture depended on the ignorance of the people it was a bad look out for agriculture.


Has anything been said here to the effect that secondary education has depopulated the rural districts?


said that if that sentiment had not been put forward in the debate it was because it would have been entirely out of order. What he maintained was that these sentiments were very largely held by those who would have the control of secondary education throughout the length and breadth of the land. That was not the time to indicate the causes which did lead to the depopulation of the rural districts; but he submitted that a great deal might be done through secondary education to enliven life in the rural districts. He was afraid that a large number of those who constituted the County Councils would not be disposed to do anything towards the spread of secondary education beyond he expenditure of the whisky money. They would not be disposed to rate themselves for secondary education. There were special reasons why the First Lord of the Treasury should yield and accept the Amendment before the Committee. He had heard the First Lord many times speak of many things as being in the Bill which he could not find there. If he could find them, it would, to a large extent, mitigate his opposition to the Bill. Among the things he desired was the possibility of providing pupil-teacher centres, special training colleges and making better provision generally for the teaching profession. The lack of these was, he believed, one of the most important deficiencies in the present educational system, and if this Bill did contain provisions for them, he would be glad. The First Lord of the Teasury believed that under the second clause, which the Committee were now discussing, undenominational training colleges, which were so greatly needed in the country, could be established, but they were not likely to be built without some mandate from Parliament.


The hon. Member is anticipating an Amendment lower down on the Paper. The Amendment now before the Committee does not refer to training colleges.


said he was pointing out the difficulty that unless a mandate was given to the County Councils for the purposes he had indicated, there was no chance of the County Councils making provision for them. He felt that a great deal had transpired during the debate which showed that there was a strong feeling on the other side of the House that the clause should not be entirely optional. He was quite sure that if the question remained where the clause left it they should make no progress under this Bill in regard to technical and secondary education.


said that the present Amendment, in his view, was not one of great importance in itself, but the question which had been discussed by the Committee was one of very great importance; viz., whether we should trust the new local authority to carry out a scheme of secondary education, or whether we should prescribe and force upon them a system of secondary education. That was a point on which he wished, if the Committee would allow him, to make a few observations. There was obviously a great advantage in trusting to the local authority. In the first place the local authority would know the kind of secondary education suited to the needs of the districts. He could not too often impress on the Committee that there was a great variety of secondary education, and by trusting the local authority variety in secondary education would be secured and the variation would respond to the demand. It was not anticipated that people should be obliged to send their children to secondary schools whether they would or not, as was the case with elementary education. The number of school classes for secondary education would depend upon the demand. To some extent it would depend on the wishes of the rate payer as to the kind of instruction that was to be given and the amount of money that should be spent upon it. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North West Norfolk complained that the Clause dismissed the question of secondary education in a very few lines; but that was just what gave the local authority a sense of its power. If there had been a long Bill the local authority would have been hampered, whereas the very simplicity of the language used in the Bill gave them the most extensive powers. They could have science schools, literary schools, evening continuation schools, training colleges for elementary and secondary teachers—in short, every sort of Institution—[AN HON. MEMBER: Or none.]—which was not elementary He was quite surprised at the distrust exhibited by hon. Gentlemen opposite in the body which was to be elected by the ratepayers. There might, in some cases, be an authority which would be a bad authority, because the ratepayers chose to elect them; but the goodness of the authority would depend entirely on the capacity of the ratepayers and their willingness to choose a really effective authority. In this matter, the Committee was not left to conjecture, because for twelve years there had been in force the Technical Instruction Act, which was a purely permissive Act. There was no single authority under the Technical Instruction Act which had not spent, at least, some of the local taxation money in technical instruction; and very few which had not spent the whole of it. There were only about ten counties in England and Wales which did not spend the whole of the technical instruction money on education. Some years ago the counties and county boroughs were invited by the Science and Art Department to undertake the supervision of all the Science and Art schools in their districts; and the majority of the counties and about half the boroughs accepted that invitation, and were now engaged in superintending the whole of the Science and Art instruction in their districts. Besides that, there were a great many counties which had evening and other schools; and therefore there was no reason to suppose from past experience that the counties would be either willing or unable to carry out the powers to be conferred upon them by this Clause. A number of hon. Members were not satisfied with that; they wanted to put some kind of coercion on backward counties. There were only two ways by which that could be done. One would be by a regular scheme to be imposed by statute. He had heard hon. Members speak about the statutory minimum of secondary education provided under the Bill. He did not think that any hon. Member would venture to define that statutory minimum, or to propose any clause in which it was laid down. He had looked through the fifty-nine pages of Amendments to see if any hon. Member had suggested a statutory minimum, but not one had done so. He, therefore, presumed that the House of Commons found it quite impossible to lay down by statute what the local authorities ought to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife thought it would be the easiest thing in the world to do what was done in the Act of 1870 with reference to elementary education, and it was quite easy to do it because the law of the land required that every child should receive elementary education; the number of school places to be provided could be estimated perfectly accurately, and the local authorities could be made to provide them. That was going on every day. If there was a deficiency in school places, they could require theological authority to provide for it. But who was to say what amount of secondary education was to be provided. Who was to give notice to the local authority as to how many places were to be provided for secondary education. The thing was impossible and could not be done. It was possible under the Act of 1870 with reference to elementary education, but it was quite impossible under the present Bill. Then it was suggested that the Board of Education should; prescribe what secondary education should be provided in any particular district. That was the real reason why as representing in this House the Board of Education, he had ventured to trouble the Committee. The Board of Education would not be able to carry out any such duty. There would have to be an elaborate method of inquiry, in every part of the country into facts with which the local representatives of the people were perfectly familiar. It would take the Board a very long time to learn as much about the requirements of secondary education in Bradford, for instance, as the Bradford Town Council already possessed. Supposing the Board did succeed in acquiring as much information as the local authorities, they would be no better fitted to determine these matters than any intelligent County Council. He could not understand a proposal to put on the Board of Education the duty of saying what sort of schools there ought to be in, for instance the County of Gloucester, what their number should be, what fees should be charged, and how many free places there should be. That should be left to the local authority. The inevitable result of the interference of the Board of Education would be an inelastic cast-iron system imposed on the whole country, which would be extremely deleterious and damaging to secondary education. Whatever they did they should keep secondary education free and independent of Government control. They must not allow the central authority to dictate what was to be taught, or anything else connected with Secondary education. Secondary education should be suitable to the locality, and should be under the control of people who knew what was wanted. He would only mention one other point as an illustration of the impossibility of carrying out that which the Amendment did not carry out, but which some hon. Members wished to carry out, and which he believed would be extremely mischievous. In 1892 a Secondary Education Bill was introduced into the House of Commons by his predecessor in Office, just before he became Minister of Education. On the back of the Bill were the names of Sir Henry Roscoe, who was well known in this House as a singularly energetic and active supporter of secondary education, and his hon. friend the Member for East Somerset who had moved this Amendment. Did that Bill contain compulsory powers? Nothing of the kind. The local authorities occupied the same position under that Bill as they did under the Bill now before the Committee. The Bill of 1892 provided that it should be the duty of the local authority to make such provision as they might think fit for the secondary education of the inhabitants of their districts. That was exactly the duty of the local authority under the present Bill, namely, to provide such provision for secondary education as they might think fit. He did not see the slightest harm in using the word "duty" in the sense in which it was used, nor did he see any harm, on the other hand, in saying that the local authority should provide such secondary education as they thought fit. If the Committee went further, and attempted to lay down in the Bill itself a definition of what the amount of secondary education should be, if they put into the hands of the Board of Education a kind of general power to do what the Board thought fit instead of what the local authority thought fit, they would be taking a course which would be extremely disadvantageous to the cause of education.


said he thought the Committee would congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the withdrawal of the muzzling order made, against him. He thought that the first Lord of the Treasury must have had an as- surance from the right hon. Gentleman that he would not bite before he consented to take that step. He trusted that in the future, notwithstanding that the right hon. Gentleman had opposed the Amendment, the Committee would have the benefit of his advice in the debate. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the Amendment on the ground that if it were carried there would not be a sufficient variation in secondary education under the scheme. He admitted it would not be the kind of variation they would get if the matter were left entirely to the discretion of the local authorities. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by variation? He said that they should leave discretion to the local authority as to the places where the schools were to be planted, and as to the type of school. But surely no one had ever suggested that if this Amendment were carried, the duty would be cast on the central authority of fixing the place where a school was to be planted, or exactly the kind of school that was to be planted there. All that the Amendment contemplated was that it should be incumbent on the local authority to provide some efficient scheme of secondary education, having regard to the requirements of their particular district. The right hon. Gentleman asked how they were to discover what the requirements of a locality were, and he said that, with regard to elementary education, they knew the number of children to be provided for, and that, therefore, they could make the necessary provision. But surely the right hon. Gentleman could not have studied the experience of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. The County Councils in Wales knew the amount of provision required, and they made that provision. The Act provided that it should be the duty of the Joint Education Committee to make a scheme, and that Act had been in operation for thirteen years, with the consent of both parties, and with the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford, without the least friction or difficulty having arisen. The localities were simply consulted as to the number of children to be provided for, and on that information, abundant provision was made for secondary education, and there was no difficulty whatever. It was no use arguing abstract propositions in the air, when they had an experience of that kind at their own doors. Again, in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States the local authorities knew what provision to make. It was not a question as to whether the central authority should do the work of secondary education, but whether the central authority should compel the local authorities to do it. It was quite open to a local authority to say that they were making adequate provision, and the central authority could then judge as to whether such provision was, or was not, adequate. There had been a great deal of argument from the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Vice-President of the Council, against compelling local authorities, and the First Lord of the Treasury asked how they were going to do it; he even thought the right hon. Gentleman went to the extent of saying that it could not be done. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman could have his own Bill in his mind when he said that, because it was provided in the Bill that the local authority should maintain and keep efficient all public elementary schools. If the local authorities were to be compelled to provide elementary education, why should they not also be compelled to provide secondary education. The argument now was; Why did they not trust the local authorities? He would ask why were not the local authorities to be trusted as regarded elementary education. Section 11 of the Bill provided that if the local authorities failed to fulfil any of their duties under the Elementary Education Acts, 1870 to 1900, the Board of Education might, after holding a public inquiry, make such order as they might think necessary, and any such order might be enforced by mandamus. Was that trusting the local authority, when they were threatened with a mandamus. The argument about trusting the local authority was merely used for the purpose of defeating this Amendment, which would compel the local authorities to make adequate provision. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman would have used that argument, if he had in his mind the whole system of local government in this country, and the relations that existed between the local authority and the central authorities. Take the question of drainage. The Local Government Board had power to compel the local authority to carry out every provision of the Public Health Acts. Take the question of police. The Home Office could compel the Joint County Committee to keep a sufficient number of police and keep them efficient. If they had all these provisions of central interference for the purposes of an efficient police, why not have it for the purpose of enforcing secondary education. If the central authority had power to compel local authorities to do their duty in respect of the Public Health Acts, he maintained that the central authority should also have power to compel the local authorities to do their duty with regard to secondary education. They had had the experience of Wales, where the duty was laid on the local authorities to establish secondary schools throughout the whole of their areas; and they had also the experience of England where the option was left to the local authorities. What was the experience of England? After twelve years, they had not yet spent the whiskey money which was originally intended for the establishment of secondary education. They could not altogether trust to the local authority without some pressure from outside, and, although they might be trusted in the great towns, it was not always safe to trust them in the rural districts, where the organisation of secondary education was as important, if not more so, than in the urban districts. Everyone knew the difference a secondary school made in an agricultural district. There was a case in Glamorganshire where it had made a difference in the whole character of the population, as well as in the quality of the agriculture; and when an attempt was made to remove that school, the farmers, instead of pleading that it should be taken away to an urban district in the interests of the rates, insisted on keeping it at a great sacrifice, with the result that there was a splendid system of education in that district which would make a difference for all time. That was an example of the advantage of a secondary school in a district. The best boys were picked out, and they had sound, healthy, sane minds to operate on. Those boys afterwards became the leaders of the community, with the result that it became more enlightened. He was convinced that unless the system were compulsory, and unless the central authority were empowered, not merely to recommend and advise, but to bring pressure, they would not be able to secure proper secondary schools in the rural districts. It had been said that the result would be to take children away from the rural districts to the towns. His experience, as a resident in an agricultural district, was that one of the things that took a population away from the rural district was that educational facilities were better in the towns than in the rural districts. Every man with independent means lived in a town, although if left to his own inclinations, he would prefer to reside in the country. He went to the town because of the greater educational facilities for his children it posessed. That was really the value of an Amendment of this kind. The towns could take care of themselves, but the agricultural districts could not. The right hon. Gentleman had the means of forcing a great system of secondary education on the country, especially in the rural districts. Why did he not use the pressure which was now used in regard to the efficiency of the police. That pressure was a financial pressure exercised by the Home Office, which said that unless the police were efficient the grant would be withdrawn. Why should not the local authorities be also informed that unless they had an effective system of secondary education, a portion of their grant would be withdrawn. They were really losing a very great opportunity, and he very much regretted that the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to accept the Amendment.

(10.20.) MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)

said he thought that there was a very general agreement on both sides of the House, with perhaps the exception of a few members, that it was desirable that the local authorities should concern themselves seriously with higher education. That was the object of the Government in introducing the clause now before the Committee, which gave very wide powers to the local authorities with reference to the matter. The argument which had just been addressed to the House was in effect that as they compelled local authorities to make provision for primary education, they should also compel them to make provision for secondary education. But the cases were extremely different. In the case of primary education, there was not the slightest difficulty in compelling a body to do a thing, when they knew definitely what was wanted. They all knew the minimum which it was desired that every child should learn, and it was, therefore, perfectly easy to say to a I local authority: You must make provision that all children in your district shall learn so and so. But secondary education was of so wide a range that it must vary in every case, according to the needs of the locality, the number of students presenting themselves, and half a dozen other different circumstances; and therefore it would be absolutely impossible to say in any particular district what they wished to compel the local authority to do. They had heard during the debate of hundreds of things which might be done under the clause, from continuation schools on the one hand to training colleges on the other. It was all very well to give power to do these things, but when they came to compulsion they should define that which they intended to compel the authorities to do. The Amendment had served a most useful purpose in bringing the matter definitely to a head, but it would be a quite impracticable and inefficient one, because it would be absolutely impossible, having regard to its frame work, to turn this Clause into a mandatory Clause. They had the widest possible language in the Clause, as the powers under it were defined in a negative way. It did not say what the local authorities would be given power to do, except in the sense that they were given power to do anything they liked with reference to education other than elementary education. Those were very wide powers, which would be ample to; cover all the varying needs of the different neighbourhoods to be dealt with; and they were all very glad that the Government had seen their way to insert such powers in the Bill. The Government could not possibly concede the Amendment, and he thought they had met its object in a very generous spirit by the Clause as it stood He was going to make one suggestion, which he did not know whether the Government would be able to assent to or not. While it was desirable to trust the local authorities to carry out the power to be given to them under the Clause, there were a certain number of local authorities who would possibly pass over the Clause altogether, or give very little attention to it. That was possible, but he did not think it was at all probable, after the experience they had had in regard to technical education. The Clause might, however, be overlooked, and there was nothing to draw the attention of the local authorities to it. If they could insert words that the local authorities "shall inquire into and may" supply education other than elementary, that would impose a duty on them while leaving them a very freehand; and it would indicate to them that they would be expected to concern themselves in the matter. If the Amendment were accepted, it would throw the whole Clause out of gear, as they would have to cut down the ample powers given in the Clause, because they could not make it mandatory to exercise them. The words he proposed would be useful as directing the attention of the local authorities to the matter, and he ventured to suggest them as an intermediate course. It was absurd to contend that secondary education would be in a worse position than formerly, and he thought that a great deal would be done for secondary education if the attention of the local authorities were directed to the matter in the manner he had suggested.


May I say that if it would produce general harmony on both sides of the House to make the Clause less neutral in character, as my hon. friend now suggests, and to direct the attention of the local authorities to the needs and problems of secondary education, I should be prepared to accept—I will not say my hon. friend's words, because I could not accept absolutely mandatory words—but words of an analogous character. If I had any indication that peace would be produced by such a solution, I should be prepared to move such words.

(10.28.) MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)

said the concession of the First Lord of the Treasury was one of enormous importance. As to the construction put upon the Clause, his hon. friend the Member for North Hackney had endeavoured to reconcile the versions which the right hon. Gentleman had given of it, and his hon. friend had the sympathy of every legal member of the Committee in his endeavour. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Clause meant that it was the duty of the secondary authority to provide such means for secondary education as it should deem fit. In the words now proposed, the duty was imposed on the educational authority to take into consideration the need of secondary education in its particular district, to determine that in a detached and impartial spirit, and having determined that question, then a duty arose which became a duty cognisable by the law, and enforcible in the ordinary course. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that this was a form of Clause with which they were perfectly familiar in legislation. The right hon. Gentleman was perhaps aware that the Metropolis was drained under a Clause of this character. Under the Metropolis Management Act it was provided that the drainage of London should be carried on in such a way and by such means as would commend themselves to the responsible authority. Was the Clause before the Committee framed in such a spirit. It was an enabling Clause, with a limitation; but there was no sort of duty of any kind cast upon 'the educational authority to take any matter into their consideration. It simply enabled the educational authority, if they thought well to entertain the subject, to give effect to their views, if they chanced to have formed them. There was no duty imposed on them to make any inquiry, or to come to any conclusion, or to give effect in any way to the Clause. He could not in the least understand the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman had in giving effect to the obligatory words of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said that the result of such a provision would be that they would formulate a cast-iron system which would be administered without any discrimination by the Education Department, and would apply to the whole country alike. The answer to that argument was to be found in Clause 11. Under that Clause there was machinery by means of which local opinion could be ascertained by inquiry, and effect given to it. The Board of Education were charged with the duty of enforcing the obligations imposed by the Act, and might direct a public inquiry to be held, and after such inquiry they were empowered to make such order as they might think necessary and that order might be enforced by a mandamus. That was very elaborate and complicated machinery, which was quite sufficient to prevent undue effect being given to imperative language, if it were introduced into the Clause. Suppose they put in "shall" instead of "may," and that after a public inquiry it was reported to the Education Department that a particular Committee had not taken the subject of secondary education into consideration at all, but had arrived at a conclusion that the whole of the money should be devoted to reducing the rates. He was putting an improbable case, but assuming that such an intractable spirit existed. Under the Clause as it stood, all the benefits of the Act in regard to secondary education would be rendered nugatory by a spirit of resistance such as he had indicated. The First Lord of the Treasury said that if "shall" were put in it would provoke resistance, that it would be taken as a challenge, and that friction and a dead lock would result. But the right hon. Gentleman would not have the smallest difficulty. He would only have to dispatch a Commissioner to hold a local inquiry and ascertain the views not only of the County Council, but of the most enlightened section of the community, and, even then, under Clause 11, the right hon. Gentlemen would have ample discretion. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman did not make an order the status quo would continue. If he did make an order, there was ample machinery by which it could be enforced. In his opinion the right hon. Gentleman's apprehension of mandatory language was utterly unfounded. He could not conceive a case in which effect would be given to mandatory language which was not a case in which justice demanded that something should be done in the interests of the locality. He did not wish to meet the concession of the right hon. Gentleman in any hostile spirit, because it appeared to him to be an enormous advantage, to those who supported the Amendment. It was an immense step as compared with the Clause as it stood, which imposed no duty of any sort, but simply enabled the local authority to carry on secondary education if they thought proper, and with any restrictions they liked. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment might well accept the concession.


said he was sure no one could complain of the tone in which the debate had been carried on They were really discussing a very intricate, and to his mind, very difficult problem, and they all wished that the Bill should become operative as soon as possible. He would make an appeal to his right hon. friend. If the Clause could not be made compulsory, there was surely no harm in leading the local authorities as far as possible on the right road towards secondary education. For himself, he should be obliged to support the Amendment unless some words of that kind were inserted; and he would do so partly on educational grounds, but also very largely on economical grounds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen referred to the great evil which beset technical institutes and other educational machinery on account of the neglected condition of the students as regards education, and the right hon. Gentleman said that there was only one way of finding a remedy for that state of things, and that was through the medium of secondary education. He did not go quite so far as the right hon. Gentleman; but unless some system of evening continuation schools were established, they might be perpetuating for a very long time a very grievous evil in their midst. If they could only secure continuation schools throughout the country, they would have taken a very long step forward in the right direction. Taking all the usual grants for elementary education during the present year, he found that they amounted to no less than £8,493,000; and during the last ten years, allowing for the gradual increase of the estimates, they had spent no less than £60,000,000 on elementary education. What had they got for that? All who studied the question knew that there were not only thousands but millions of children in the country on which money had been squandered during that period, because they left the elementary schools at from twelve years to fifteen years of age. Just at the very time that their intellects were expanding, and when they were most receptive of knowledge, they were cut adrift absolutely and entirely from school life. That was a waste of brain power and money which was simply deplorable in a practical nation such as we pretended to be. Therefore, unless some method were found to strengthen the language of the Clause, he should vote for the Amendment, because he thought it would give some assistance, at all events, towards getting rid of a very serious evil.


said that the observations which fell from the First Lord of the Treasury had, in reality, made that interesting discussion enter on a perfectly new phase. It was not, therefore, his intention to go over the ground which had been so ably traversed by many hop. Members on both sides. The important matter was to agree on a form of words embodying the important concession that the right hon. Gentleman had agreed to make. He suggested that at the beginning of the clause there should be inserted the words "It shall be the duty of." The clause would then become a mandatory clause, and would follow the precedent of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act.

(10.47.) MR. J. W. WILSON (Worcestershire, N.)

joined in the appeal to the First Lord to accept some modification of the clause. He honestly believed that from an educational point of view the clause dealt with one of the most serious subjects in the Bill, and that if public attention had not been so much given to one of the later clauses, considerably more would have been heard of this clause in the country. He felt very anxious with regard to the prospects of secondary education. Having served on technical committees since their inauguration, he desired to emphasise very strongly the uselessness of spending the ratepayers' money' on technical education, unless good and well-maintained continuation schools were provided. When he first read the Bill, he felt that the immediate effect of throwing upon the local authority an increased burden for elementary education, would be to starve secondary education. Clause 2, instead of giving any indication of the intentions of Parliament, was very permissive, with two "mays" coining close together; and it seemed to offer every invitation to the authorities who had not made use of the previous permissive powers to abstain from using those now proposed. The usual practice of the House was to introduce a reform by permissive legislation, and then, after a certain number of years, when the great majority of authorities had availed themselves of the permissive powers, to step in and say that the other authorities "shall" use the powers. It would, perhaps, meet the ease if words were inserted to the effect that the local authority should apply the residue of the local taxation money to secondary education, and should consider whether any further sum was necessary. The clause would still be permissive, but a distinct lead would be given. If a limit was to be put later in the Bill, they need not be afraid to give a mandatory power to that extent, especially considering the large amount of work that was to be placed upon these local authorities.


said that several, Members had looked upon the suggestion he had made as an important concession. He did not know whether that was the view of the Committee or not; but if it would be a compromise acceptable to both sides, he was prepared to introduce it in the clause. It did not, however, make the Bill mandatory; it did not throw on the Education Department the duty of declaring what were to be the adequate needs of secondary education in each county. He sincerely believed that these were not the steps which the Committee ought to take in the interests of secondary education. But it did do away with a defect which many Members felt, viz., that the clause was of too neutral a character. The words to carry out the general scheme which he would suggest were, if generally acceptable— The local authority shall consider the needs and take such steps as may seem desirable to aid the supply of education other, than elementary.


"To supply or aid the supply? "


said he would be quite ready to agree to that. It was not intended to go the length desired by some hon. Members, but he offered the suggestion in the interests of harmony between both sides of the House. This was not a Party question which raised any of the unhappy and bitter controversies that some parts of the Bill raised, and if the Amendment would produce peace he would be prepared to introduce those words.


said that he thought the words, though not going so far as he should desire, went a very long way, and, if the right hon. Gentleman would introduce the words he had suggested, he would be willing to withdraw his Amendment.

Mr. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

hoped the Committee would adopt the words suggested by the First Lord. If the local authorities had to consider the existing supply they would very likely do much more than was in the draft of the Bill.

EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)

did not wish to disturb the harmony of the compromise, but he could not possibly vote in its favour unless there were inserted some such words as "such as may seem to them desirable."


It is the same thing.

SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)

thought that the words would improve the clause, but he did not think that they went far enough to secure the point which hon. Members really desired. He suggested that the Government, in laying on the authority the duty of considering the needs, might also impose the duty of drawing up a report, and submitting a scheme. In that way they would secure what they wanted.


thought it hardly desirable to require the education authorities to decide too quickly.


pointed out that in Wales it was not done quickly at all. There was a great deal of correspondence, and the Education Department and the Charity Commissioners helped very materially in the framing of the schemes. There was no friction, but it was two or three years before they got a practical working scheme.


suggested that it would probably be rash to compel action on the part of the County Councils too early. He was also told that the early experiments of some of the counties in technical education had had to be revised, and probably it would be inexpedient to compel them too early to come to a decision on this matter. He, therefore, deprecated the suggestion of the hon. Baronet.


recognised the spirit in which the concession had been made. He pointed out, however, that if a scheme was submitted to the Board of Education, the consideration of it need not be hurried, and the variety of treatment to which the Vice-President had alluded could be secured. It was of the utmost importance that in the co-ordination and development of secondary education the fullest consideration must be given to private schools, endowed and other schools, from all points of view. This could only be secured by the making of a scheme, and any reasonable time could be fixed by the Board of Education for carrying it out.


deeply regretted the action of the Government in departing from the Bill of 1900, and inserting "may" instead of "shall."


That is the other "may."


said the action of the Government created bitter disappointment, and, therefore, he was glad that this important concession had been made. He believed great good would be done by the proposed alteration. Many districts had suffered far too long from the want of education, and he hoped that the Bill, and particularly this clause, would be so worded that many of the evils at present existing would be removed.


said that if the Amendment were withdrawn and the words suggested by the First Lord inserted, he would be precluded from moving an Amendment of which he had given notice. He felt that he must reserve his right, and, therefore he submitted that the First Lord, could not get more than the substitution of "shall" for "may."


said in that case he would have to adhere to the word "may." He had no desire to press the Bill through without compromise, but he could not be expected to make an alteration which he honestly thought would not be in the interests of education. He had offered a compromise, and he still hoped it would be accepted.


said he was prepared to meet any reasonable compromise; but he thought the compromise suggested was simply a circumlocutory way of saying "may." It really made no difference at all. What possible objection could there be to adopting the Welsh scheme? That had worked very well. A scheme had to be submitted. In the meantime the funds accumulated, and they were used for the purpose of building schools. The difficulty now was that there was no building fund, and they could not provide the schools out of a twopenny rate. If the funds were allowed to accumulate they would be able to build the schools in poor districts where secondary education would be of use. This clause ought not to be controversial, and seeing that there were hon. Members on both sides who were simply desirous of advancing the interests of education, he thought the Government might meet hon. Members on the Opposition side by consenting to the withdrawal of this Amendment, which would save time.


asked if it would be in order on the Amendment inserting "shall," to discuss the importance of framing a scheme. Would it be in order to have the debate continued on that Amendment?


The Amendment which the hon. Baronet alludes to does not appear on my Paper.


It appears on the top of page 25.


It does not appear on my white Paper, but in any case, the present Amendment must be got rid of first.

(11.5.) MR. BRYCE

said he desired to put a point to the right hon. Gentleman which was in the minds of most of them. They were all grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's concession, so far as it went, but the difficulty of it was that it left the matter absolutely to the discretion of the County Councils, and there was no certainty that the legitimate pressure of another authority would be forthcoming. On every side there was a disposition to dispose of the difficulty in an amicable way. If the right hon. Gentleman would modify his Amendment, so as to provide that the Board of Education should require a Statement to be submitted to them, with a view to enabling them to make representations to the local authorities, it would go a long way to meet the views of the Opposition. The Royal Commission dealing with this subject recommended that the Board of Education should be enabled to require the local authority to take steps for making due provision for secondary education.


said that as far as he understood the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion it would be carried out by these words— The local education authority shall consider the needs and take such steps after consultation with the Education Department as may seem to them desirable to aid the supply of education other than elementary. The whole spirit of the Bill was a decentralising spirit. He certainly believed that the Education Department ought to play a great part in all these things as advisors, and that, he understood, was what the right hon. Gentleman desired.


said his right hon. friend began by saying that he was willing to move the words he had suggested if they produced general harmony. He was afraid, however, that they would not produce the general harmony which he desired. The effect of the proposal now put forward would be to make this clause more mandatory than it was at present, and for what? Simply to provide secondary education, and that at the expense of the rates and the rates alone. [Cries of "No, no."] He wished it to be understood that it would not produce harmony and that he intended to oppose it.


said that the real object they had at heart was to escape from the great danger of the County Council letting secondary education drop altogether. The Amendment proposed by the First Lord of the Treasury did not give them exactly what they wanted, but it did ensure that the County Council should take some steps. If they could not have anything else in he preferred to have those words, because they would secure that the County Councils must take some steps, and if they did not do all they wanted them to do, they must put pressure upon them to do more.


said that it appeared that, if after consultation with the Education Department the two bodies disagreed, the view of the local authority of what was necessary would be paramount. That went further than the original proposal of the Bill and could not be accepted as satisfactory. The First Lord of the Treasury should introduce words which would provide that after a certain period of time the Board of Education should come in and have the right to insist upon this. They were still left in the position that the local authority could please itself.


suggested that they should now close with the offer, and he wished to say a word from this point of view. Like some of his hon. friends who had spoken, he was the Chairman of a County Council, and he could assure hon. Members that although there were County Councils which would require screwing up to the mark, nevertheless, he believed they were the exception, and, as time went on, the great County Councils would rise to the level of public expectation. On the whole, he thought they had now arrived at a very sound compromise, and if they did not altogether agree with the compromise there were other Clauses upon which they could raise some of the points mentioned by his hon. friend. He trusted they would now accept the words offered, which would make a very great improvement in the Bill.


said he could not accept the new form of compromise which seemed to him to infringe a very important principle of the Bill.

MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)

said that what they all desired was that they should make progress with secondary education, and it was rather strange that it should be left to him to defend the freely elected local authorities. He thought that their past history showed that they were fit to be trusted with those duties. They had done much already for Secondary and Technical Education—and he could not doubt that they would act in the same spirit in the future.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made, by in inserting, after the last Amendment, the words— Shall consider the needs and take such steps as seem to them desirable after consultation with the Board of Education to."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

(11.30.) MR. MATHER

said the object of the Amendment standing in his name on the Paper was to clearly define secondary education instead of providing for "education other than elementary." He desired that the education authority should understand that their duties were extremely important and of a very responsible character, namely, that they shall supply Secondary, technical, and higher education, and shall provide for the organisation and coordination of all forms of education, including the training of teachers, within their areas. The right hon. Gentleman ought to give some attention to this Amendment, because it fulfilled what he had expressed as his desire that secondary education should become an extremely important duty to be imposed upon the local education authority. What they wanted in their country districts at the present time was that they should be provided with an education which would fit them for the industrial and commercial world, and for the great duties which faced them at the present time. He did not think it was sufficient to define this education simply as "education other than elementary." It was important that the new education authorities should clearly understand what Parliament expected from them. It expected that they should provide for all the stages of education, such as evening continuation schools formerly conducted by the School Boards, and higher grade elementary schools such as were under under the School Boards until the Courts declared it to be illegal, should be continued by the local education authority. But in addition to that there should be secondary education in the sense of a high school course to prepare for instruction in technical education in the true sense of the word technical; that was not merely night schools providing certain classes of instruction for artisans, but also facilities in all school areas for a systematic course of day instruction to those scholars who had passed through the elementary schools. There should also be provided high school training for commercial and other pursuits, so that students who passed through these stages might be made fit to enter the higher technical schools which they hoped to establish later on. Under the Technical Instruction Acts the local authorities had certain powers of rating, but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that only £100,000 per annum had been levied under the 1d. rate up to the present day. That sum did not in any way touch the question of secondary education, nor did it adequately provide for technical instruction in the true sense of the term. He earnestly hoped that the First Lord of the Treasury would permit the words proposed to be inserted in the Bill. If the words he suggested were adopted, it would impress upon the local authorities the gravity and magnitude of the re sponsibility Parliament had placed upon them, but the words in the Clause would leave them in doubt as to what Parliament expected of them. What was wanted as quickly as possible was that there should be placed in the hands of the authorities all the resources Parliament could give them for the education of the people, so that they might be able to conduct the great industries of the country, and be capable of grappling with the great problems which were coming up every day. In America it was computed that nearly 1 per cent. of the population had received a college education. The Technical Instruction Act of 1889, with all its benefits, had imperfections, and it was not sufficient at present merely to follow on the lines of that measure. We must rise higher in the future, and if the words of the Amendment were inserted, the local authorities would be impressed with the importance of the patriotic duties they had to perform in providing for higher education.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 19, to leave out the words 'education other than elementary,' and insert the words 'secondary, technical, and higher education, and shall provide for the organisation and co-ordination of all forms of education, including the training of teachers, within their area.'"—(Mr. Mather.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


Are the words "shall provide" in order?


Those are the words proposed to be inserted. They do not contradict any decision of the Committee.


said the Amendment in no way increased the power of the local authorities. All that was in the Amendment was included in the words in the original Bill, and when for general words they substituted specific words they ran the risk of leaving something out. If one wished to give extensive powers it was better to use wide general words than to specify the particulars which they comprised. As the Clause stood, it gave the local authority power to supply every kind of education whatsoever except elementary education. Then the hon. Member said it was necessary to put in words of this kind, in order to instruct the local authority as to the various kinds of education it might give. That had been rendered quite unnecessary by an Amendment which the Committee had just adopted providing that the local authority should consult the Board of Education. In that consultation quite ample provision was made to see that nothing was left out. The Board of Education having experience of what was being done by local authorities generally, would at once call upon an authority to provide a particular kind of higher education, if it were found that such provision had not been made.

Mr. ALFRED MUTTON (Yorkshire, W. R., Morley)

asked whether in defining secondary education as education other than elementary, the Committee would not be running into the opposite danger to that which they sought to avoid. Elementary education had not been closely defined.


said the Government had feared to exclude something which they wanted to put in by defining secondary education—for instance, such a case as that of a contribution by the County Council of Birmingham to the Birmingham University.


said [he did not wish to shut out any form of education. It was often argued by some that secondary education must begin when the scholar was ten or eleven years of age. Would the schools be able to claim assistance from the County Councils under the words "other than elementary" for children of ten or eleven years of age who were in schools formally approved by the] Education Department? He was afraid that money intended for secondary education might go to preparatory schools, because of the view taken of the status of the latter in a report issued by the Board.


said he would consider this point.


said the aim seemed to be the same on both sides of the House, and the point was what words were to be used. He thought it was extremely doubtful if the words "other than elementary" stood part of the Clause, whether a court of law would hold that the training of teachers was covered by these words. His hon. friend proposed to insert the specific words "including the training of teachers." He pointed to the words contained in the Government Bill of 1896, as justifying the Amendment now proposed. He thought Parliament should bring these matters to the attention of the local authorities in order that they might know definitely what they could deal with. Either the words were entirely unnecessary in the Bill of 1896, or they were necessary in this Bill. The Amendment did not seek to exclude anything at all from the operation of the Clause. What it did was to call the attention of the local authorities to the matters they ought to direct their attention to.

It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report progress; to sit again Tomorrow.