§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 2:—
Amendment again proposed—
In page 1, line 27, after the word Board,' to insert the words 'having regard to financial considerations only.'"—(Mr. Helme.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (9.0.) SIR JOSEPH LEESE
said he welcomed the statement of the First Lord and of the President of the Local Government Board that the functions of the Local Government Board in this matter were to be financial only. By the words which were sought to be inserted in the clause, they desired to ear-mark that function. It was common knowledge that inspectors of the Local Government Board were experts in ascertaining the financial position of County Councils and local authorities generally, for such investigations formed part of their daily work. But an inquiry into the educational needs of a district would be entirely outside the experience of the Local Government Board. If a County Council were to attempt to borrow more than it was justified under the circumstances, he could understand the Local Government Board stepping in 378 to save financial trouble. In that case it could act as a salutary check. The only object of the Amendment was to limit the interference of the Local Government Board to financial questions.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said the hon. Member who had just spoken, as well as the mover of the Amendment, had not incorrectly described the position of the Government in regard to the inquiries which it was proposed that the Local Government Board should hold under this clause. At the same time, the suggestion they made that the duty of the Local Government Board should be limited by statute went a little further than the declarations of the Government; and, so far as he knew, there was no precedent for limiting by statute the duty of a Government Department when it was called on to hold an inquiry. He had been very much interested in that debate. He had had a great many years experience at the Local Government Board: he had the good fortune to be there for six years under a previous Government, and he knew how difficult it was to deal with public opinion, whether expressed in the House or outside. It depended entirely on whether they were debating a question on theory or on practice. But let him take an extreme case by way of illustration. Suppose a County Council had spent 1½d. out of its 2d. rate, and came forward with an application for power to levy an additional 1½d. rate. Did the Amendment mean that the inspector of the Local Government Board was to be forbidden by statute to ask what were the objects which the County Council had in view in making that somewhat extreme proposal? He was really asking for information. He did not think there was any difference of principle between the two sides of the House. All were agreed that no Government Department should put any restrictive or red-tape Amendments in the way of a County Council; but did they also desire that in the case of a County Council making a very wild and extravagant proposal there should be no power whatever for the inspector of the Local Government Board to inquire not only into the financial position of the county, but also as to the educational proposal? If the 379 Amendment were accepted in its present form, it seemed to him that the Local Government Board would be precluded altogether from making any such inquiry. It had been suggested very frequently in the course of the debate that the Local Government Board, as a Department, had no knowledge of educational progress and educational requirements. That was true. But it was also perfectly well known to every Member of the House who had had any experience of Government Departments that where one Department was called upon to make an inquiry into a demand made by a local authority affecting the administration of another Department, it was the invariable practice to ask that Department for its observations and suggestions on the demand. After all, supposing the demand was a reasonable one—supposing it was an ordinary case where a local authority had reached its maximum, or would exceed it if it indulged in necessary and desirable expenditure, the facts to be inquired into would be of the simplest kind, and a local inquiry would hardly be necessary. In nine cases out of ten, probably, the local inquiry would be unnecessary; but, if the proposed expenditure were altogether unnecessary, or the financial position of the locality were too weak to bear the additional expenditure, would it be wise to make it impossible for the inspector of the Local Government Board to inquire into the objects of the expenditure and to ascertain what were the educational objects in view? Speaking with some experience of the Local Government Board in regard to these inquiries, he would suggest that these limitations were more likely to defeat the end in view than to secure it. Let the Committee realise what the Amendment proposed to do. It proposed to make it impossible for the Government inspector to examine into any educational question at all. So far as the educational provisions of the district were concerned,
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.||Broadhurst, Henry||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh||Delany, William|
|Ambrose, Robert||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Doogan, P. C.|
|Black, Alexander William||Caldwell, James||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Boland, John||Cameron, Robert||Edwards, Frank|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.||Emmott, Alfred|
|Brigg, John||Cawley, Frederick||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
§ the necessary information would be obtained from the Education Department. But take the case he had already cited—that of a local authority which had spent three-fourths of its rates and wished to launch upon a very extravagant scheme, involving enormous expenditure on the erection of buildings and the maintenance of a system of education altogether, perhaps, beyond the needs of the neighbourhood. Was no question to be asked at all by the inspector as to what was being done in the neighbourhood? If the Amendment were carried in its present form it would necessitate the holding of a second inquiry, by some other Department. That would involve delay; whereas he understood hon. Gentlemen desired that there should be promptitude, and as little delay as possible. If the education authority of the County Council represented only a very small majority of the county, and there was a large body of outsiders in favour of a very progressive policy, were they to impose on the ratepayers of the district a burden which might last for forty or fifty years without any inquiry as to whether the educational needs of the district justified the expense? He put this to the Committee in order to obtain an expression of opinion. He knew that difficulties had arisen owing to the limitations imposed on their powers of holding inquiry. Believing as he did that there would be every desire on the part of the Local Government Board to further educational progress, and that the imposition of restrictions was rather dangerous, he would ask the Committee to consider very carefully whether the adoption of the Amendment would not be injurious to the interests they had in view.
§ (9.13.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided—Ayes, 90; Noes, 105. (Division List No. 254.)
|Flynn, James Christopher||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Foater, SirMichael(Lond. Univ||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, John Bryn (Eition)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Grant, Corrie||M'Crae, George||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Kean, John||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Mansfield, Hordes Rendall||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. CharlesSeale-||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Holland, William Henry||Mooney, John J.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Murphy, John||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Toulmin, George|
|Humphrey,-Owen, Arthur C.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Ure, Alexander|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, DavidBrynmor(Sw'nsea||O'Brien, Kendall Tipp'raryMid||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Jones, William(Carnarv'nshire||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Jordon, Jeremiah||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Lambert, George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Leese, SirJosephF.(Accrington||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden|
|Leug, Sir John||Perks, Robert William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Russell||Mr. Helme and Mr.|
|Lloyd-George, David||Reddy, M.||Charles Morley.|
|Lundon, W.||Redmond, John E.(Waterford|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. SirAlex. F.||Duke, Henry Edward||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fellowes, Hon. AilwynEdward||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Purvis, Robert|
|Austin, Sir John||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Rankin, Sir James|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r||Fisher, William Hayes||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Balfour, RtHnGeraldW.(Leeds||Flower, Ernest||Ridley, S. Forde(Bethnal Green|
|Balfour, Kenneth R.(Christch.||Gardner, Ernest||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hn. J. E.(Elgin&Nairn||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Beach, RtHnSirMichael Hicks||Gorsf, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bigwood, James||Grenfell, William Henry||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hanbury, RtHon. Robert Wm.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Bond, Edward||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Seely, Maj. J. E. B.(IsleofWight|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Hogg, Lindsay||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hope, J. F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Bull, William James||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Stewart, Sir MarkJ. M'Taggart|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Stroyan, John|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed w. Murray|
|Chapman, Edward||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Wentworth, BruceC. Vernon-|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton||Macdona, John Cumming||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Cubitt, Hon Henry||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||M'Iver, SirLewis(EdinburghW|
|Denny, Colonel||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire|
|Dewar, T. R(T'rH'mlets, S. Geo.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton||Sir William Walrond and|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Doxford, SirWilliamTheodore||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry|
*(9.28.) The CHAIRMAN
said he must rule that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Anglesey should come up as a new clause, and that of the hon. Member 382 for Spalding was outside the scope of the Bill.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I understand the lion. Member does not wish to do the. To meet his views it would be necessary to propose the Amendment to both Clauses 2 and 3, and it would, therefore, be much simpler to put the words in a simpler clause. The Amendment of the hon. Member for North Camber well has been disposed of by the decision of the House on Clause 1.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
May I point out the fact that Clause 5 of the Bill provides that, if a local authority desires, it may agree not to undertake the control of elementary education, in which case the School Board is not wiped out; it will continue to act. I desire that in that case the School Board and the municipal authority shall together form a Committee for the purposes of higher education.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I understood that perfectly. But Clause I has already constituted the authority for higher education, and the hon. Member is now really proposing to negative what has been done in Clause 1. His proposal is contrary to what has been decided. The hon. Member is proposing to add something more. He is proposing that certain other education authorities should be constituted the authority for higher education. His proposition is that—In any case where the School Board remains, after the passing of this Act, the local authority for elementary education, it shall be the duty of the School Board and the municipal council to form a joint Committee of members of both bodies to act as the local authority for higher education under this Act.The Committee has already decided upon the authority for higher education.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
asked whether, in the event of a local authority not agreeing to become the authority for elementary education, he should be in order in proposing that in such a case the Committee should be compelled to co-opt the members of the existing School Board.
* THE CHAIRMAN
That is not the Amendment on the Paper. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Islington is also out 384 of order, because it is covered by the words "shall consider the needs of education." It seems quite clear that no local authority can consider the needs of education without considering what appliances are already in existence. The next two Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire are out of order, and can only be moved as new clauses.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Members Amendment deals with competitive examination, and I do not think that that is quite the same thing as religious instruction. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigan is also out of order, and the same remark applies to the Amendments standing in the names of the hon. Member for the Otley Division, the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, and the hon. Member for Lancaster. The next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire is out of order, because it is disposed of by the words, introduced at the beginning of Clause 2, "shall take steps." The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Ludlow is out of order, because it is really an Amendment to the Local Taxation Act, which is outside the scope of this Bill. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Somerset ought to come as a new clause, and the other Amendments standing on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for the Rugby Division are also out of order. As this disposes of the whole of the Amendments, the question I have to put now is, "That Clause 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ DR. MACNAMARA
asked whether he would be in order in proposing that where a School Board remained the authority for education it should he their duty to co-opt for the purposes of higher education the members of the School Board for that area?
* THE CHAIRMAN
As far as I have been able to gather, the proposal of the 385 hon. Member is one constituting another authority for higher education, and therefore it is out of order.
§ MR. BRYCE
Is it not a fact that inasmuch as Clause 5 still stands in the Bill we are obliged to assume that Clause 5 will remain in the Bill? That is contemplated in this Amendment. Therefore, will the case not arise which has been raised by my hon. friend, and will his Amendment not be in order in dealing with the Bill at it now stands?
§ SIR JOHN GORST
Supposing that is so, would this Amendment not apply more properly to Clause 12, which deals with the constitution of Education Committees? I think it would be in order there.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I have assumed all through that Clause 5 stands. The objection I have taken to the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for North Camberwell is that in Clause 2 he is really constituting another authority, whereas the authority for that purpose has been constituted by Clause 1. All I say is that his proposal is in the wrong place.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said that in the Amendment that he had handed in he did not propose a new authority at all, but he simply asked that where the School Board remained the authority for elementary education the local Education Committee should co-opt certain members of the School Board, and that proposal did not constitute a new authority at all.
* THE CHAIRMAN
Clause 12 is general. It is clear that when the Education Committees are constituted that will be the proper place to consider this Amendment. The proposal is that the local authority is to co-opt certain persons to serve on the Education Committee, whereas this clause is only concerned with the constitution of the authority. Clearly such a proposal is out of place in Clause 2.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That Clause 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he had sat throughout the whole of the discussion upon Clause 2, and he was glad that the First Lord of the Treasury had found it unnecessary to apply the closure once, which showed that in the judgment of the right hon. Gentleman the discussion of this clause had not exceeded the limits of fair Parliamentary debate. This result was entirely due in his opinion to the fact that the Government had made some substantial concessions. He thought the Opposition would always be found willing to meet the Government when they were disposed to treat educational matters in this way. On the other hand, if the Government proceeded to discuss this question from the point of view as to how it would affect the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, the clerical party, and those Members representing agricultural districts, who did not care whether this was made a good Education Bill or not, they would not get as much work out of the Committee as they otherwise would. There was really nothing very controversial on the first clause, because the reactionaries amongst hon. Members opposite threw in their lot with the others, but the Government refused to make any concessions to the Opposition and consequently the debate was prolonged. When they succeeded in obtaining a substantial concession, of course the debate was very much shortened.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the matters they had discussed upon Clause 2 were very important, and considerably more time might reasonably have been taken in discussing such matters as the Provisional Orders, whether the rate should go up to 4d., and other questions upon which the whole future success depended. He ventured to say that there was not one of those Amendments which might not well have taken the whole afternoon to discuss. There was nothing disarmed opposition like concessions, and he hoped the way in which the First Lord of the Treasury had conducted this clause through the Committee would serve as a precedent when they came to the more controversial clauses later on. He thought they all wanted to make this a 387 good Education Bill, and if they were met in a fair spirit in regard to the sectarian feature of the measure he did not despair that they would be able to find a satisfactory compromise. There were Members of the Opposition who rather resented the way in which a few hon. Members opposite arrogated to themselves the right to speak, not only on behalf of the whole of the Party opposite but also on behalf of the Church of England.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I think that is going rather beyond the scope of the questions raised in this clause.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the First Lord of the Treasury had met them very fairly upon this particular clause and before this Bill was out of the clutches of the House of Commons he did not despair that the right hon. Gentleman would still make the provision for secondary education a purely compulsory matter. He did not despair, either, of the right hon. Gentleman being able to meet them upon the question of equivalent grant. The Clause looked all right, and it said "it shall be duty," but then there followed words which limited that duty. There were many counties in England where the rating question pressed very heavily, as it did in Essex, upon the farmers and tradesmen, where this Act would not be put into operation unless there was a strong inducement offered by pressure from some Government Department, or else in the shape of a pecuniary financial consideration. If the ratepayers of such a county knew that they would get a certain amount of money spent in their own county by spending a certain amount of their own money, he thought that would induce them to bear a little extra burden and make some sacrifice in order to obtain it. He hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would be able to consider, at any rate, the alternative suggestion of a grant, or something more than a consultation. From what he could hear on all hands there was not the same zeal for education in England as existed in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. After all, the Government could deal with that difficulty, because there was a sense of duty in Englishmen which, if the Government showed the 388 way to the County Councils, would be quite sufficient to overcome that difficulty. If the Education Department were authorised not to dictate to the County Councils but to bring certain pressure to bear upon them to consider the subject thoroughly, he believed that Englishmen would do their work honestly and faithfully. There was always a certain amount of respect paid to obeying the law of the land and carrying out the directions from the central authority. Why did the First Lord of the Treasury not make use of this disposition in the temperament of the English mind for exciting some sort of interest in education, and inducing these County Councils to do their duty. He had only one other observation to make. Once more he wished to emphasise the obvious fact, which had been established during the whole course of the discussion upon the second clause, that the Government had gained in time and in the temper of the House, and the Bill itself had gained by concessions which had been made. The result had been that everybody had honestly and sincerely applied themselves to the consideration of this question from a purely educational point of view, because the Government had shown that they were willing to make this a proper and efficient education debate.
§ (9.50.) MR. HENKY HOBHOUSE
welcomed the spirit of the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Carnarvon as a good omen for the future conduct of the debate upon this Bill. He did not think this occasion should be allowed to pass without some one on the Ministerial side acknowledging the very considerate spirit in which the Government had met the Amendment on this particular clause. He was glad to think now that this clause had been amended—that it foreshadowed an outline of something like a system of higher education. The local authorities would now be obliged to do something, and consider the needs of their district, and the Board of Education would be able to take such steps as they considered desirable towards certain very important objects, including the training of teachers, and the co-ordination of all forms of education. When they added to all these things the fact that the whisky money had 389 now been definitely allocated to the cause of education, all those who were interested in higher education might well congratulate themselves upon having obtained such concessions. Generally, he thought they might have some confidence in the future action of English County Councils, which he did not believe were inferior to Welsh County Councils, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite asked them to believe. The Welsh counties had had great advantages over the English counties, because they had possessed an Education Act for a long time.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
pointed out that that Welsh Members, throughout the whole of this discussion had stood up for the English counties.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
said he was glad to hear the hon. Member for Carnarvon give them some encouragement, and, when they had got in England a good Intermediate Education Act, they would endeavour to follow the excellent example which had been set in Wales. But there wore still some defects, and he should have wished to sec some provision inserted for the guidance of County Councils, similar to that in the Technical Instruction Acts. There were some important questions, which although under the ruling given by the Chairman, could not be considered now, must eventually be considered carefully by the Government before the Bill passed into law. He hoped that before the Bill became law, they would have in it a real system, under which the local authorities would be able to do good work for many years to come, in providing higher instruction.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
agreed that the Government had treated the Opposition very handsomely in connection with this clause. The clause as it stood definitely laid on the local authorities the duty of considering the needs of secondary education; it definitely said that they must consult the Board of Education as to how they were to be met; and it specifically mentioned that the local authorities must make provision for the training of teachers. All these were admirable so far as they went, but he could have wished that the veto of the central authority on the rating expenditure of the 390 local authority had been struck out. On that matter he still stood quite unrepentant. He did not know what Parliament had to do with the expendidure which local authorities desired to impose on their ratepayers. He entirely agreed with what the Vice President of the Council said in 1897 when the School Board Act was under discussion, namely, that the persons to decide how much should be laid on the locality were the ratepayers who sent the representatives to the public authority imposing the rate. That opinion was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman when they were discussing an Amendment proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Rochester and supported by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, that no School Board should participate in the new special aid grant which raised its rate beyond that of the previous year, and that it should not have the right to raise the rate beyond that of the previous year without the sanction of the Board of Education. He hoped the Government would yet remove the veto, and leave local authorities free to levy whatever rate they thought proper on their own ratepayers for this or any other matter.
§ SIR JAMES RANKIN (Herefordshire, Leominster)
asked for an authoritative definition of the words "other than elementary"; and he wanted to know whether or not the Technical Instruction Committee would be enabled to teach subjects on the elementary list. Under the Act of 1899, as was perfectly well known, Technical Instruction Committees were prevented from teaching children in the elementary schools. That, he understood, was to be done away with by the total repeal of the Act of 1889. It had often appeared to him that the Technical Instruction Committee might usefully provide for the teaching of many subjects to the elder children in the elementary schools.
§ MR. BRYCE
gladly joined with his hon. friend the. Member for North Camberwell in acknowledging that the Bill had been considerably improved by the Amendments, and that the right hon. Gentleman, in receiving the suggestions which had been made 391 to him, had shown a conciliatory spirit. But, regarded as a scheme of secondary education, this clause, as the outcome of the meditations of the Government for seven years, was still inadequate. He did not say that the clause was a blank cheque to the County Councils, because a cheque was the very thing which it did not give. It told the County Councils to do what they thought best for secondary education. If they were all like the County Councils of the West Riding of Yorkshire and Wiltshire, they might, with some confidence, leave these wide powers to them with few or no indications of the will of Parliament. There were about sixty Administrative Councils in England and Wales, and a very large number of County Boroughs. All these authorities would have to constitute themselves educational authorities, and work out a very difficult and complicated problem connected with the supply of secondary education. Were they competent to deal with this great problem? He thought it would have been better if the Committee had devoted a longer time in the endeavour to work out a better scheme, instead of giving extremely few directions to those authorities. They were now discussing the most uncontroversial point in this Bill. There had been little or nothing of Party spirit in the discussion of the clause, and if hon. Members were divided, it was quite apart from considerations of Party ties. They had given exceeedingly few directions to those authorities. The best authorities would not want them, but the backward authorities would want them. The Committee had not imposed in a specific way the absolute duty of providing secondary education on the authorities. In his judgment it would have strengthened the hands of the Department if the Committee had imposed it as an imperative duty. If they had done so, it was not likely that any cases would have arisen in which the Board of Education would have had to resort to compulsory powers. The mere fact than a positive direction was embodied in the Act would have been enough to stimulate the most laggard of the local authorities. He asked the Committee to consider how many points there were on which directions were wanted, and on which they had given no direction. No direction had been 392 given, for example, on the question of endowments. Among many other points on which directions might be given to the new authorities was that of the education of girls, which hitherto had been greatly neglected. Clearly, it ought to be the duty of the new authorities to make some provision for the education of girls, and wherever possible to apply endowments to the case of girls as well as boys. Scholarships and exhibitions ought to be provided, and a direction to that effect would have been a very proper one to insert in the Bill. Again, there was no direction in the Bill with regard to the inspection that the local authority ought to give. It was true that there were matters upon which the Board of Education might make representations to the local authorities, but, the local authorities would give more attention to such representations if the weight of Parliamentary opinion was found within the four corners of the Bill. While much had been done, and would be done, to improve education in towns and populous districts, a real danger was that the Councils would neglect the rural districts; and therefore he felt most anxious that they should, before parting with the Bill, go more thoroughly into the rural problem than they had yet done, and indicate to the local authorities some of the ways in which it might be dealt with. He was sure he might say that the Government would meet with no Party opposition whatever in any attempt they might make to develop and enlarge the scope of the secondary education part of the Bill.
§ (10.20.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My hon. friend the Member for the Leominster Division put a question to me which it is only courteous that I should answer. I do not think he need be in any way alarmed lest the class of education he is contemplating should he excluded by this clause from the operation of the Bill. The discussion of that will come more appropriately under the definition clause of the Bill, and perhaps for the present he will be content with that assurance on my part. The right hon. Gentleman made a very long speech, not as to what Clause 2 was, but what it ought to be—and in regard to clauses 393 which were not on the Paper and which, under the circumstances, no self-respecting draftsman would have put into the Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that most respectfully he could not, for the life of him, see in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman anything that was relevant to the particular question under discussion, viz., that this clause should stand part of the Bill As far as he understood the right hon. Gentleman he wholly differed from him as to the method of dealing with secondary education. They were agreed that secondary education was an extremely difficult and complex problem. They were agreed that the greatest authorities in this country, in Germany, France, Scandanavia, Italy, and America, had studied this question of secondary education and had not come to any agreement in regard to it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that his information, for what it was worth, went in the direction of showing that there were great doubts in all these countries as to the exact lines on which the settlement of this question should go. If the right hon. Gentleman took up a more dogmatic line, then he could not go with him. The Government did not look at the question in the same way in which the right hon. Gentleman did, that was to say in extending fixed Regulations to all the local authorities. They perfectly recognised, in dealing with the great variety of local authorities which existed in England, all animated by a high ideal of public spirit, and, perhaps, taking a different view of education, that some of these local authorities would come to the fore front in the race, and that some of them would be laggards. They did not expect that there would be a uniform spreading of secondary education in England. They thought that 394 the best results would be derived from trying local effort, so that it might meet the educational needs of each particular locality. He hoped that when they came to the portion of the Bill which was more controversial than secondary education, something of the calm spirit which had hitherto been maintained would not be altogether wanting.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury on the spirit of conciliation he had shown; but he thought he had unjustly charged his right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen, because not a single subject which that right hon. Gentleman had mentioned was not comprised in the words of the clause. He wished to impress strongly on the Government that unless they did something in the direction indicated by the hon. and learned Member for Stratford, the clause would be perfectly nugatory. He had had the opportunity the other day of consulting the County Council of Devonshire, and had been told that it was impossible to suppose that the County Councils were going to rate themselves for secondary education in addition to the elementary rates which were imposed upon them. He would suggest to the Government that before coming to the Report Stage they should endeavour to adopt the principle followed in the Welsh Intermediate Act and give some encouragement to the County Councils. They wanted to see secondary education placed on a sound basis, but they could not do that unless money was spent upon it, and at least half of that money ought to come from the Imperial Exchequer. The Vice President of the Council had told them that they might learn lessons from Denmark, France, and other countries in the matter of technical education, but in all these countries funds were provided by their Governments for the encouragement of secondary education. No one had any idea of how the rates in the country districts were going up, and he felt convinced that they could not expect the County Councils to rate themselves for secondary education unless they got assistance from the Treasury.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY
said that before this clause was voted upon he would ask the Government earnestly to re-consider their decision in regard to imposing this limit on the rate for higher education on County Councils. It would be most ungrateful not to recognise the concession which the Government had made, or use it as an argument against them. Why should the County Councils not have the same liberty as was given to administrative counties like the West Riding of Yorkshire? There could be no doubt that in some districts there would be a danger, which had been pointed out by the hon. Member for the Leominster Division, as to the definition of what was and was not elementary education. He ventured to say that it would puzzle the ingenuity of man to provide a comprehensive definition of elementary education. No one had ever been able to draw the line between higher education and elementary education; and if the County Councils were not to go beyond the 2d. rate without the consent of the Local Government Board he foresaw a repetition all over the country of Cockerton judgments. In rural districts much of the higher education must be given in the same school and by the same teachers as the elementary education. Of course it was different in urban districts, where they could have both elementary schools and secondary schools; but how were they going to separate the accounts in the rural districts between elementary education and higher education?
§ * MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said that hitherto secondary education provided for by the whisky money stopped short at imparting instruction in the dead languages, which formed the main part of the curriculum of the country schools; but the second clause was deficient in providing a means of promoting commercial and technical education, to which other countries were attaching so much importance now. He hoped that some steps would be taken to prevent that danger. With regard to the 2d. rate or the 4d. rate, he would vote for it with some compunction, because he was compelled to say that he could not trust the Board of Education to draw the line; and he very much regretted that the Committee had not laid down the injunction that the money which had hitherto been 396 spent on modern types of schools should not in future be diverted to le s useful types. He hoped that ultimately the Bill would be a very much better measure than they had reason to expect; and he had very great hope for the future of the measure if the spirit which had recently animated its discussion continued to prevail.
§ (10.50.) MR. ALFRED HUTTON (Yorkshire, W. R., Morley)
said he wished to ask whether the grants to be made by the Exchequer would be given to the local authority or to the schools direct. The Vice President of the Council had stated that the local authority would distribute the money for elementary education, and he wished to know whether that principle would also apply as regarded grants to secondary or higher schools. Would such grants be given to the school managers, or to the local authority?
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said that with reference to schools which were now working in connection with the local authority, the grants would be paid to that authority, but the rights of certain pre-existing schools in direct communication with the Board of Education would be preserved.
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON
said he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but he should be glad to know whether there was any provision to that effect in the Bill. He was not aware there was anything in the Bill with reference to the rights of managers of pre-existing schools.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said that the Exchequer grants were not made by Act of Parliament, but by regulations issued from time to time by the Board of Education.
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON
said he wished to know how the local authority could effect the co-ordination of existing schools if they were to be carried on under the present arrangements. The admission, if he might so call it, of the right hon. Gentleman was a very serious one indeed, as it meant that the local authority would practically have no control over the secondary education in existing schools which at the present 397 time received grants under any Code or Minute of the Education Department. It appeared to him that the only exception would be if the Department made an additional grant, in which case they could make further terms.
SIR JOHN GOEST
said he had either wholly failed to describe to the hon. Gentleman what the system was, or the hon. Gentleman had misinterpreted what he said. Nearly all the schools were in connection with, or under the control of, the local authority, but there were certain schools, only a few in number, which for a long time had been in receipt of Exchequer grants, and the right of those schools to have, if they pleased, direct communication with the Board of Education would be preserved.
§ MR. ALFRED HUTTON
said that according to the admission of the right hon. Gentleman the grants would continue to be made to the managers of those schools, and the local authority would have no say in their management. That was a matter which had not been discussed on any Amendment, and it really made a great deal of difference to the powers of the local authority for the carrying out of its new responsibilities. When the Welsh Education Act became law, he believed that in every case all the grants which were paid by the Government went through the new authority; and he thought that was a precedent which ought to be followed in the present Bill. The present proposal was that those pre-existing schools would continue to be under the supervision of the Department; whereas, all other classes of schools would be under the new authority. That was not a single authority scheme, and was certainly not a very wise proceeding, as it would engender a great deal of hostility. He thought it was unfortunate that so little had been done to give directions to the new authority. If they were to have a new departure they ought to have given some indication to the local authority as to the lines on which it would be expected to proceed. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the point and would be able to present to the Committee a happier solution than that which was now offered.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
said he hoped they would receive some further explanation from the Vice President on the subject to which his hon. friend had just referred. Under the existing arrangement, grants were made for science subjects to different schools, and in his experience such grants were paid direct to the schools, and not through the governing body.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
said he was speaking of his own experience, which was that when grants were made direct to schools it caused a considerable amount of inconvenience, and the local authority lost the opportunity of considering the needs of different schools. If the right hon. Gentleman proposed Amendments which would make it clear that the local authority, and not individual schools, was to receive those grants, they would be welcomed with great pleasure. He wished to express his regret that a better lead had not been given to the County Councils in the Bill.
§ * SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said he was pleased to emphasise what had been already said with reference to the question of the equivalent grant. Praise had been bestowed on the Welsh County Councils for their excellent work, and it had been proved that the equivalent grant had been a stimulus winch had been extremely powerful in leading the County Councils to develop intermediate education. He himself had considerable experience on a small scale as to the equivalent grant being a stimulus. The County Council of Cheshire, for which he might venture to claim the title of being the model County Council of England, had at the very beginning wisely determined to give to every urban district in the county, which levied a rate under the Technical Instruction Act, an equivalent grant, from the whisky money. The result was that some five or six years ago the amount raised in the County of Cheshire under the Technical Instruction Act was 20 per cent. of all the money raised under that Act throughout England. He was very proud to say that a large part of the money was raised in his own constituency, and that last month it 399 took half of the county scholarships given to children passing from the elementary schools. If the Government would only make up their mind to act on the experience of the Welsh Act, and to give equivalent grants to English County Councils in return, as it were, for the sacrifices made by them, he believed that the result would be equally happy. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the experience and advice of foreign countries, and he spoke of Germany, France, Italy, and Scandinavia, but in what country in the world could he find a limit set to the expenditure on education. He bitterly grieved that this country alone had set such an example. He welcomed with pleasure the concession of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to county boroughs, and he hoped that, on reflection the right hon. Gentleman would extend the privilege of deciding for themselves what the expenditure on education should be to the rural districts also. A good deal had been said already, and no doubt it sounded pleasant to Members on both sides, as to the conciliatory spirit displayed by the right hon. Gentleman during the discussion on this clause. He did not think there was any hon. Member who was better entitled to speak on the subject than he was, because he had taken very great pains to ascertain the opinion of Members in all quarters of the House, and he could say that never during the sixteen years he had had the honour of sitting in the House was there any occasion on which there was such a strong wish on both sides to make peace than there was at present. Even with reference to religious education there was a most anxious and sincere desire to do everything that could be done to lessen any sense of injustice, and to make such an arrangement as would conduce to the benefit of the children for whose welfare and future they were legislating. The right hon. Gentleman took a step during the discussion on the clause which he hoped would be repeated on many occasions. It was a happy step and the result was a pleasant one. He would warmly recommend the right hon. Gentleman to repeat it, and, as representing the Government, to leave the House freedom to express its desire for peace, and to vote without pressure of Party ties. If the right hon. Gentle- 400 man did that, he would earn not only the gratitude of the Opposition but also of the vast majority of his own supporters.
§ MR. CORRIE GRANT
said that a great number of Amendments, involving several important points with reference to secondary education, still remained to be considered; and he would appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to consider them in the same temper and the same spirit as he had displayed in connection with the Amendments which had been disposed of. They were all agreed that the right hon. Gentleman desired to leave the County Councils a free hand in dealing with secondary education, but their object should be to utilise for the benefit of the country all that had been found valuable in the experience of the past. He did not think that very much weight should be attached to what had been done in foreign countries in the matter. This country would have to thresh it out for itself; but he would urge on the First Lord of the Treasury to take advantage of the experience they already possessed and to utilise it. His hon. friend expressed an anxious desire that as little as possible might be left to be decided in the Courts. Even lawyers did not like to see education questions in the Courts. They were unprofitable, not in the sense of fees, because briefs in education cases were marked as high as any other cases; but they opened up controversy, and were the very worst things that could happen in the interests of education. If the right hon. Gentleman would consider how far he could improve the second clause by adding to it the experience of existing machinery he would do a great deal to help the County Councils in carrying out their new duties. He would be the last to say a word against the Amendments which had been accepted; but when they considered what the second clause might have been made, and what it might have done for secondary education, it would be admitted that it was a very shadowy clause compared to what it might have been. Would it be a serious matter, for instance, to prepare a Return showing what the existing educational 401 facilities for secondary education were? That would not be an expensive matter, but it would be very helpful to the County Councils. Then again, supposing the clause had dealt with endowments throughout the country; that was also a matter in which a Government Department would be of the greatest assistance to the County Councils. There was also the question of the sanitary condition of the schools. There was a sanitary condition which would satisfy a sanitary inspector, and another sanitary condition which would satisfy an education inspector, but which would not satisfy a sanitary inspector. All these matters would be raised by new clauses, and he hoped that when they were reached they would have from the First Lord of the Treasury a statement as to the Amendments that would be accepted in order that definiteness and clearness might be given to what was now very indefinite.
§ MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)
said in his opinion the medical officer who was responsible to the County Council was the person to whom they should look to improve the sanitary condition of the schools. So far as he could judge, at any rate in his own constituency, the feeling was that the present was a great opportunity to provide for a proper system of higher education, which was the great need of the country as compared with other civilised nations which had placed no limit whatever on the amount of money to be spent on higher education. With reference to the concessions which had been made by the Government, he accepted them for what they were worth; but they left a great deficiency in the educational standard of the country as compared with other great nations. When the House was permitted to vote as it pleased on a recent Amendment, they found every Member of the Government, with the exception of the Vice President, voting against progressive legislation. That seemed to him to indicate that the Government were not prepared to advocate a progressive measure in connection with higher education; and it conveyed the idea that the authors of the Bill were more concerned to remove the strain from the voluntary schools 402 than to promote higher education. They, on that side, wanted the County Councils to have an absolutely free hand in regard to the expenditure of money on education; and did not desire that they should be fettered or controlled by the Local Government Board or the Board of Education. Unless the Government could see their way to make an equivalent grant out of the National Exchequer in order to stimulate local governing bodies to spend money in the promotion of higher education, he believed that they would continue to waste a large portion of the money now spent on elementary education. He had been a member of a Technical Instruction Committee for over twelve years, and he was surprised at the amount of money which was wasted on elementary education, owing to the want of co-ordination and a proper supply of secondary schools. Over and over again they had been unable to continue particular classes, because the pupils had lost the elementary knowledge they had obtained in the elementary schools; and he was afraid, unless the Government were prepared to make equivalent grants in some form, that they would continue to occupy the unsatisfactory position in regard to higher education that they occupied at present.
§ * MR. CHANNING
said he wished to say a very few words as to the character and principle of the clause. The First Lord of the Treasury was absolutely right when he said that elasticity and freedom for the experimental treatment of secondary education was not only necessary in this country, but had been found necessary also on the Continent and in America. Nothing could be more true than that; but he wished to point out to the right hon. Gentlemen that, although his concession somewhat mitigated the purely permissive nature of the clause, and thereby rendered it more probable that good results would ensue from it, still it remained permissive. Up to ten or fifteen years ago higher and secondary education had not been universally compulsory in the United States, and was only compulsory in States like Massachusetts. Up to that period the growth of education had been exceedingly slow, but since then there had been a very remarkable advance, and the number of "High Schools" and of the pupils in them 403 in the United States had actually doubled during the last ten years. Was not that a fact which they should weigh well in considering the question of secondary education. If the result of this clause was not to provide for that rapid development of education which the commercial interests of the country demanded, the responsibility would rest on the Government for making the clause a practically permissive clause.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W. R., Keighley)
said that he regarded the limitation in connection with rating as a very serious blot on the Bill. Indeed, it seemed almost impossible that the clause could have been seriously intended by the Government. He hoped that before the Report stage was reached the Government would give equal powers to the County Councils as it was now proposed to give to County Boroughs.
§ (11.30.) MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said he was quite ready to acknowledge the spirit in which they had been met by the right hon. Gentleman. The concessions the right hon. Gentleman had made were not very substantial in their character, but still they would be welcomed. He wished to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman a means, which would meet with the approval of the great majority of hon. Members, of making the clause a living reality, instead of leaving it in such a form as would result in its not being adopted at all in a great many parts of the country. He wondered whether the Committee realised what it would cost the Government to give something, he would not call it an equivalent grant, by way of stimulating higher education. A grant similar to the grant which was given in Wales would only cost £350,000 a year, which was equivalent to a ½d. in the £. That amount, he believed, would be a sufficient stimulus to induce every county throughout the country too rganise a good system of secondary education for itself. Education was a very great and important question, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to accept his proposal and provide that stimulus, without which they would not have what they all desired, a proper system of education in the country.
§ MR. GODDARD
said he quite recognised the value of the concession of the Government, but he thought it would 404 be admitted that this was a disappointing clause after all, and that it would not achieve anything like what they had hoped for in the direction of secondary education. He himself felt a great interest in the training of teachers, and was a member of the deputation which waited on the First Lord of the Treasury from the Free Churches of the country. The right hon. Gentleman recognised in the fullest manner that the Nonconformists of the country had a real grievance in connection with the training of pupil teachers, and he said that it would be acknowledged that under the Bill they would be better trained than they were before. The right hon. Gentleman also pointed out that by means of the second clause the County Councils would be able to provide training colleges for teachers. That was the hope he held out to the Nonconformists in regard to the pupil teachers. Undoubtedly a considerable concession had been made by permitting the county boroughs to go beyond the 2d. rate. Although other parts of the country could apply for special permission to spend a larger sum, many would not be willing to do so, and if they did not there was very little chance of additional facilities being provided for the training of these young people. The production of teachers for the schools of the country was one of the most important parts of the work, and, instead of being left to rate-aid, ought to be supported out of national funds. In this clause the Government had had a splendid opportunity of removing a genuine and well recognised grievance, and it was to be greatly regretted that they had not availed themselves of it, and taken a broader view of the whole question.
§ * MR. HELME
said it was a pity that whilst the Government were proposing what was intended to be a national system of education, no minimum standard of secondary education, applicable throughout the country, had been adopted. The accident of the place of a child's birth ought not to prejudice that child in the matter of educational facilities. Men strong in muscle and brain power were bred in the country, and went to supply the life of the towns and of the nation, and the Government ought to take steps to 405 provide for the children in country districts where the financial position was such as to deter the County Council spending the money necessary to secure proper facilities for higher education. The offer of an equivalent grant would greatly stimulate such places. The position of private schools ought also to have careful consideration, otherwise localities would be landed with expenditure which might have been avoided. Another matter requiring to be dealt with was the higher education of girls. These were all points to which it was very desirable that attention should be directed, and he hoped the Government would meet some of them at the Report stage.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
SIR H. CAMPBELL BANNERMAN
urged that the request of his right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen was not an unreasonable one, and hoped the Government would not refuse it. It was really not usual, in the progress of a Bill such as that under discussion, to commence the consideration of an important clause at so late a period of the sitting.
§ (11.45.) MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
moved to omit the words "who have power to adopt or have adopted Part III. of this Act." He pointed out that it had been very useful for small towns to have the extra rating power which would enable them to provide for their own special necessities, and the county authorities frequently met the amount so raised by an equal sum out of the whisky money. He admitted there was a certain prima facie anomaly in leaving these rating powers in the hands of local authorities who were not to be the educational authorities under the Bill. But they had had those powers for the last twelve years, and they had now to provide out of the 406 higher education rate for evening continuation schools and other institutions which hitherto had been provided for by the School Boards. The words he desired to omit also referred to the option with regard to the adoption of Part III., and he put it to the Government whether the time had not come for an authoritative announcement as to their intention on that point. If they were of opinion that the time had not come, he submitted that the retention of the words would seriously prejudice the discussion of the point on Clause 5.
Amendment proposed—In page 2, line 1, to leave out from the word 'district,' to the word 'shall' in line 3.'"—(Mr. Herry Hobhouse.)Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ * SIR FRANCIS POWELL
thought the words would prejudice the discussion which would have to take place on Clause 5, and therefore hoped that they would be omitted.
§ * MR. CHANNING
said he had the same Amendment on the paper with a view to preserve to the non-county boroughs below 10,000 population, and the urban districts below 20,000, the right which they now had under the Technical Instruction Act to rate themselves for the purpose of providing further facilities for technical instruction. That was a very important right, and it had been exercised with great advantage by towns in his constituency, where the County Council had joined with the local authorities by aiding from the whisky money the rate levied to provide technical training. In the town of Welling borough, which had 18,000 population, an excellent Technical Institute had been built and was working well. It would be a great pity if such useful work was to be prevented. The matter required full discussion, and he hoped the Government would not make a hasty reply.
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
remarked that it was rather hard that these authorities, who had exercised this right with great advantage in the past, should be deprived of the power, and he hoped the Government would accept the Amendment.
§ * DR. MACNAMARA
said the Amendment raised two most important considerations. The Amendment proposed—quite rightly as he thought—that all non-county boroughs and urban districts, irrespective of population, should have the right to spend the additional penny under the clause to carry on the good work they had been doing, subject, of course, under the altered conditions as to co-ordination and unification, to very effective county control. But, important as that phase of the matter was, it was altogether insignificant when the probable effect of the exclusion of the words was taken in connection with elementary education. Before the Amendment was put, the Government would be compelled to state their intention with regard to the permissive application of the Bill to elementary education. The Committee had all along been hampered by the uncertainty on that point. The permissive element did not appear to be a real part of the scheme; it seemed rather to be an afterthought, put in to meet certain interests which might other-Wise be troublesome. It would be a great mistake, so far as agricultural districts were concerned, if the option was retained.
* THE CHAIRMAN
pointed out that the hon. Member was discussing Clause 5 rather than the Amendment before the Committee.
§ * DR. MACNAMARA
said he desired to know whether the Government intended these words to remain, because, if so, they would probably perpetuate the permissive application of the Bill to elementary education.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
asked, on a point of order, whether the decision on this Amendment would bind the Committee when it came to discuss Clause 5.
§ * DR. MACNAMARA
thought it was quite clear that if a proviso was inserted dealing with authorities who had, or had not, power to adopt Part III., it would prejudice the question of whether Clause 5 should stand part of the Bill.
408 It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report progress; to sit again Tomorrow.