§ *(4.20.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I rise on behalf of the Government to fulfil a pledge given in the King's Speech that a Bill should be introduced dealing not merely with secondary education or with primary education in their isolation, but dealing with both in one measure and with the view of their better coordination. Nobody can be more impressed than I am with the difficulty of the task which the Government have undertaken; and certainly no Ministry, and I think no House of Commons, would lightly engage in the controversies which any attempt like that on which we are engaged must necessarily involve. It is only because we feel that the necessity with which this Bill is 847 intended to deal is a pressing necessity, it is only because we are of opinion that it cannot with national credit be much longer delayed, that we have resolved to lay before the House our solution of the great problem which, for so many years past, education has embarrassed the Legislature and the reformer. Perhaps the House will allow me, in order to make clear the position in which we now find ourselves, to make a very short retrospect of the course of events which have, in the first place, brought us to our present position in regard to primary education, and, in the second place, brought us to our present position in regard to what I may best describe as higher education—including in that term secondary and technical instruction, but, for the most part, excluding the work of the Universities.
So far as primary education is concerned, it will be remembered that the system under which we now work is practically the system adopted by this House and by Parliament more than a generation ago. Before 1870, there was indeed a system of education, but it was entirely voluntary in its character. There was some Government inspection and some Government support, but there was nothing in existence which could in any sense be properly described as a national system of primary education. The Legislature in 1870 undertook a gigantic task, but it was a task which, however great in magnitude, was yet simple in its character. The task they undertook was the task of "provision"—of providing schools. They aimed at supplying a gap, an omission from which the existing system suffered. They desired to provide for every child in this country a school where he might hope to obtain an adequate elementary education. But they did not desire to substitute a new plan for an old plan, nor to sweep away what existed and put something new in its place. Their policy was the very different one of filling up the vacuum which voluntary effort had left empty and doing by local and State effort that which private effort had failed completely to effect. It was for that object, and that object alone, that School Boards were called into existence. I have indeed seen a statement to the effect that it was 848 intended by the then Government and the then Legislature to make the School Board system as it were, the basis of our educational system, the ideal towards which all educational change should move; but I venture to say that is historically inaccurate, and that, in the opinion of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster, School Boards were designed to supplement, not to supplant, the voluntary schools already in existence.
The Act of 1870 successfully carried out this great, if in some respects limited, object. Schools were provided in every district in England, and every child in England henceforth had within its reach the means of elementary education. But two unforeseen consequences arose out of the arrangement, and three considerable-omissions made themselves felt as time went on. The first of the two unforeseen consequences was the embarrassment into which the voluntary schools were thrown by the rivalry of the rate-aided Board schools. It is perfectly well known that Mr. Forster and the Government of that day greatly underrated the probable cost of elementary education. Mr. Forster contemplated that a three penny rate would do all that had to be done; and this was no mere casual estimate embodied in an incidental observation. It was repeated more than once by Mr. Forster in the 1870 debates. The estimate, as we all know, was entirely erroneous. But one result of that error was that there was a wholly unexpected expenditure by School Boards on board schools, and that the voluntary schools were subjected to a competition which, however good for education, was certainly neither anticipated nor desired by the framers of the Act of 1870. The second result was that a strain, or at all events a burden, was put upon local finances in School Board areas, through the action of a body responsible indeed to the community so far as regards education, but having no responsibility for the general expenditure, which was, of course, in the hands of the local authority.
These were the two unexpected consequences. Let me just enumerate hurriedly the three important omissions to which I have referred. In the first place, the Act 849 of 1870 provided no organisation for voluntary schools. Board schools in hoard school districts were organised under the School Boards. But voluntary schools, whether in hoard school districts or in other parts of the country, were isolated and unconnected. Something has been done by the Act of 1896 to remedy that. The Association of Voluntary Schools, which grew out of that Act, has been of much service in this connection; but even now organisation necessarily remains imperfect. The second omission was one with which I shall have to deal more fully a little later on—that there was no sufficient provision for the education of the great staff of teachers required for our national schools. And the third omission was that our primary system was put in no kind of rational or organic connection with our system of secondary education, and through the system of secondary education, with the University education which crowns the whole educational edifice.
Now, may I ask the House to accompany me with equal or even greater rapidity over the history of higher education—education other than elementary? We have really only to consider, as far as the activity of Parliament is concerned, two measures in connection with education above the elementary standards. One was the reform of the endowed schools. It was a great work. It substituted good schemes for bad schemes, efficient schools for inefficient schools, over a great part of the country; but it did nothing either to supplement the deficiency in secondary education, which everybody admits, or to see that such provision for it as existed was distributed to the best advantage. The other intervention by Parliament was secondary education, and on the whole, I am inclined to think, even more important and more fruitful. The Act of 1889, which gave to County Councils and Town Councils certain duties in connection with higher technical education, was the first great step taken in the direction of municipalising education.
The work they have done is valuable, and I shall have to say something about it directly; but, again, I have to point out there were and there are omissions and defects in the scheme I have described which it is the bounden duty of Parliament to remedy. One of these is, as I have said, the insufficiency 850 of the supply of secondary education. Another is that by the very fact that you have given to County Councils and Borough Councils the right and the duty to intervene in respect of technical instruction, but of technical instruction alone, the normal and healthy growth of a true scheme of secondary education has been inevitably warped. Higher technical instruction can only do its work—that is the belief and experience of every nation in Europe—it can only do its work well when that work is based on a sound general secondary education. The very fact that you have given your authority ample power to assist technical education, but only imperfect powers to assist a true secondary education, has had, and could not but have, the effect to a certain extent of preventing and warping the natural growth of a sound secondary system.
Well, the net result is as follows:—We find dealing with education, secondary and primary, two elective authorities—the County Councils and the Borough Councils on the one side, and in certain cases the School Boards on the other. They are, and must be to a certain extent, in rivalry. Not in hostility necessarily, not in hostility usually; but still, with a long, undefined frontier between the two, which must inevitably produce much confusion and some collision. Around these two rival authorities, but in no connection with them, are scattered independent endowed schools and independent voluntary schools, neither of them organised, neither brought into connection with the central primary authority or the central secondary authority, any more than they are brought into connection with each other.
Well, that is, I believe, a summary of the present state of things; but there are certain aspects of it so important that I hope the House will allow me to describe them a little more fully. To begin with one of the evils I have briefly alluded to. We now have, as I have said, two elective authorities having dealings with the rates, one of which has the power of drawing unlimitedly on the rates for educational purposes without rendering any account to the other, which is, nevertheless, responsible for the general working of the local finances. I cannot believe that is a sound system of local 851 government. It is not a system we should tolerate in any other administrative branch of our business. It will be said that education is so important a subject, of such vital necessity for the well-being of the nation, that the authority entrusted with the duty ought not to be limited in the means placed at its disposal. Yes, but is there not even a more important, even a greater national need than education, and that is national defence? What on earth should we think of a system which gave to the experts of the Navy and Army, for purposes of national defence, unlimited power of drawing cheques on the national exchequer? We groan under the magnitude of the cost of the great spending Departments; but what those groans would be if they possessed the financial powers of a School Board the imagination fails to picture. I do not believe that this system of ad hoc authority with unlimited rating is one which really has any important experimental endorsement behind it at all. There is an hon. friend of mine on the other side of the House who takes great interest in this question. I refer to the hon. Member for Rossendale, who has quoted America as an instance of how such a system may find acceptance in a great community. I have looked as well as I can into the facts as they relate to America; and taking twenty-five of the chief cities of the United States, I find that a majority, a bare majority, I admit—thirteen of the twenty-five—have not an ad, hoc authority at all, and of the remaining twelve which have such an authority only four are permitted unlimited rating power. In all the other cases where an ad hoc authority is established, that authority is strictly tied down in the demands it may make on the rates. We suffer under a different system, and this is one of the evils we ought to endeavour to cure in any measure dealing with the subject we submit to the House.
The second of the evils, already referred to, on which I wish to say a further word, relates to the imperfect co-ordination of educational effort above the limiting line of elementary education. Sir, I am not one of those who throw blame on School Boards because they have, in many cases, trespassed on the territories of secondary education. It has 852 turned out, no doubt, that they were guilty of illegality; but there was a great vacuum to fill, a great omission to make up; and it was most natural that keen educationists, seeing a great unoccupied territory, should—however ill-equipped for the enterprise—do what they could to settle it. Therefore, I throw no blame on the efforts of School Boards; but frankly, I must add that so far as I have been able to make myself acquainted with the facts, these authorities for primary education have exaggerated their capacity for dealing with the problem of secondary education. Many of them seem to suppose that by merely putting at the top of an elementary school a certain number of classes dealing with subjects higher than elementary, a system of secondary education was thereby immediately established. But this is a profound-mistake. Such classes may have done within narrow limits, work useful and even necessary; but if we are considering the whole system of secondary education, to which the youth of the country come from elementary schools, and from which, if their abilities and circumstances warrant it, they go to technical institutes or the University—if that is the scheme we have to reform, no mere addition of higher classes at the top of elementary schools will carry out the objects we have in view. They can only be carried out by secondary schools, properly so called, to which children go at the age of thirteen or fourteen, and where they may spend three or four years in preparation for the work of life or for higher grades of education. Therefore, when we hear that, in spite of all the money the London County Council has spent upon secondary education, nevertheless the number of scholars in the true secondary schools, instead of increasing, has diminished, and they have been really robbed by the higher grade schools of the London School Board—
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am not attacking the School Board. I am only showing that in attempting a task 853 it is not qualified to perform, it is not serving the cause of education, and that it is a pity to induce scholars to stay at the higher grade primary schools under the mistaken impression that they are going through a training properly to be described as secondary education.
Now, the third defect of the present system, on which I would like to say a word or two, has relation to the education of teachers. I am the last man to undervalue the admirable service the army of teachers in primary schools have done for the community. Nor do I wholly attack the system of pupil teachers; there is something to be said for bringing future teachers into very early contact with the responsibilities of school life and accustoming him or her to dealing with children. But I cannot bring myself to believe that we ought to be content with this as the sole or even the principal method of training those who are to train our children. At this moment any child who wishes to become a teacher gets made a pupil teacher, and when he has reached that status half his time goes to teaching and the other half is given to learning—and what sort of learning? Neither the State nor the Local Authority provides for them schooling between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. They work with the stimulus of examination before them, picking up a little learning by the help of the master in the school; when they are in country districts, perhaps with the help of the clergyman of the parish, possibly with the aid of what is known as "education by correspondence"—a deplorable system; in towns they may go to a pupil centre; and in country districts County Councils have, in certain cases, established centres where, on Saturday afternoons, they may also go to eke out their slender means of obtaining the necessary education.
What is the result of such a system? I find that 36 per cent. of the existing teachers have never got through the examination for the certificate, and I find that 55 per cent. of the existing teachers have never been to a training college of any sort, kind, or description. In other words, nothing has been done for them during the 854 years which should have been devoted to secondary education; and training colleges, which come in at a later age, only assist 45 per cent. of those who are actually engaged in teaching. We spend £18,000,000 a year on elementary education. Can anybody believe that under the system I have described we get the best results or can expect to get the best results for so vast an expenditure? For my own part, reasoning either from theory or from the example of America, or Germany or France, or any other country which devotes itself to educational problems, I am forced to the conclusion that ours is the most antiquated, the most ineffectual, and the most wasteful method yet invented for providing a national education.
There is yet a third point on which I wish to say a word or two. It relates to the deplorable starvation of voluntary schools. Some of the opponents of voluntary schools put down their difficulties to the want of liberality on the part of the subscribers. I do not think there is any justification for that charge. I think it is perfectly marvellous what has been done under circumstances which, as I have already told the House, were never foreseen when the Act of 1870 was brought into existence. It will be remembered that the Government passed in 1897—not wholly, I am afraid, with the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite—the aid grant to voluntary schools. It was freely prophesied at that time that this would lead to the wholesale diminution of subscriptions. It has not done so. The subscriptions have been maintained—I believe, so far as the Church of England is concerned, subscriptions have even been increased. The whole of the 5s. has gone, net to the relief of the subscriber, but to the improvement of education in voluntary schools. But the fact, nevertheless, remains that, after all these great efforts on the part of the voluntary subscriber, and after all the aid given from the National Exchequer, the voluntary schools are in many cases not adequately equipped and are not as well fitted as they should be to carry out the great part which they are inevitably destined to play in our system of national education. I say inevitably destined to play, because the idea of the 855 voluntary schools being swept away by an Act of Parliament, or by any other method, is absurd. The mere magnitude of the forces with which you have got to deal renders it impossible. The mere magnitude of the gap which would be created in the system of national education renders it impossible. Let me remind the House that at this moment the number of voluntary schools is over 14,000, as compared with about 5,700 board schools, and that, while the board schools educate 2,600,000 odd, the voluntary schools educate over 3,000,000. In other words, the majority of our children are at this moment educated in the voluntary schools of the country. And, if I turn from the number of children to the cost that would necessarily fall on the community in some form or another if the buildings of the voluntary schools were no longer available for the purposes of education, I find that, if we take the cost of provision throughout the country, excluding London, at £12 10s. per child, and if we cut that figure down, as we certainly ought to cut it down, in order to find the cost that would fall upon us if we had to provide accommodation for the children at present in voluntary schools to £7, even then, at that very cautious estimate, the cost to the community would be no less than £26,000,000 sterling. I do not take the case of London, because the provision in London would raise this average of £12 10s. to a much higher figure, and, though it might appear to strengthen my case, I am not quite sure that it would be fair, and I, therefore, base my calculation on the more moderate estimate of the average cost of provision as we find it outside the metropolitan area.
I cannot leave this topic of the necessity of the voluntary schools without saying that, in my opinion, they are necessary also for another and a very different reason. What is the theory which, on both sides of the House, as I think—I do not recognise any difference of principle in this matter between us—we ought to adopt with regard to denominational education in public schools? We do not insist, as everybody knows, upon teaching the children of this country a particular religion. We do insist upon teaching them a recognised 856 arithmetic, a recognised geography, history, and so forth. In the one case we decline responsibility, leaving the responsibility to the parents; and in the other we are agreed that the State may, properly take the responsibility of saying to every parent, so far as secular education is concerned, "Your child shall learn what we think fit to teach it." Of course, the reason of this difference is known to all. We are agreed about secular education. We are not agreed about religious education. Whatever be the historic origin of the present state of things, we have, as a community, repudiated responsibility for teaching a particular form of religion. We maintain the responsibility, we gladly assume the responsibility, for teaching secular learning. As we have thus left to the parents the responsibility for choosing what religion their children are to learn, surely we ought, as far as we can consistently with the inevitable limitations which the practical necessities of the case put upon us, to make our system as elastic as we can in order to meet their wishes. I do not stand here to plead for any particular form of denominational religion. I do stand here to say that we ought, as far as we can, to see that every parent gets the kind of religious training for his child that he desires. Here, then, is another reason, and by no means the least, why it is needful to maintain—I do not say maintain in its present shape—the possibility of giving denominational training in our elementary schools. I do not believe that anybody, thinking over the rather abstract train of argument I have ventured to lay before the House, will easily find any defect in the reasoning; and I am quite sure they will not charge me, or those who think with me in this matter, with any narrowness of spirit or with any inclination to proselytise in favour of any particular creed. The interests we desire to safeguard are the interests of the parents, and it is the wishes of the parents which, as far as possible, ought to be consulted.
From this long preface, then, I draw the following conclusions. Our reform, if it is to be adequate, must, in the first place, establish one authority for education—technical, secondary, primary 857 —possessed of powers which may enable it to provide for the adequate training of teachers, and for the welding higher technical and higher secondary education on to the University system. In the second place, I conclude that this one authority for education, being, as it is, responsible for a heavy cost to the ratepayers, should be the rating authority of the district. In the third place, I lay down that the voluntary schools must be placed in a position in which they can worthily play their necessary and inevitable part in the scheme of national education. These are debatable propositions. I add to them two others which, as I conceive, are not debatable—namely, that, as far as we can, our system should be one which will not encourage for the future the perpetual introduction of denominational squabbles into our local and municipal life; and that the education authority should have at its disposal all the educational skill which the district over which it presides can supply.
I will now proceed very briefly to describe the headings of our Bill; and I hope that, while describing it, I may be spared those natural, but, I think, rather inconvenient questions which I know it is not easy to restrain, but which must rather interrupt the general view of our scheme, which is all I intend to give to the House today. I, or some of my friends, will, later in the evening, be glad to answer the questions which will doubtless be put to me in the debate, and hon. Gentlemen will have the Bill itself in their hands in a few days. But I deliberately abstain from dwelling on some of the smaller details of the Bill in order that I may give a clearer general view of our general proposals. As the House will have anticipated, our education authority is the County Council in counties, and the Borough Council in county boroughs. They will work through a committee or committees. The committees are to be framed by scheme to be approved of by the education authoritiesat Whitehall; they will contain at least a majority of members appointed by the Council; and another portion, appointed on the nomination of other bodies, will consist of persons experienced in education and acquainted with the needs of 858 the various kinds of schools in the area. I ought to mention an exception with regard to Wales. Wales at this moment, has a secondary education authority of its own, which has done quite admirable work, and the mere existence of which ought to allay any fears lest the authority should prove incapable of dealing with secondary education. If the Welsh people prefer, instead of committees of the County Councils, to keep the existing authority, they are permitted by the Bill to do so. As regards secondary education, our provisions are practically identical with those with which the House is familiar, and which were embodied in the Bill of last year. The County Councils and the Borough Councils will have a 2d. rate to work upon, but I am convinced that in many places that will be insufficient. There is power for any County Council by provisional order to get that limit raised. I have said that the authority is the County Council or the County Borough Council. This is the rule. But there is an exception. We think it impossible to deprive Boroughs over 10,000 population, or urban districts over 20,000, of their existing jurisdiction over technical education; nor do we think they can be subordinated to the County in respect of primary education. We therefore leave them as they are with regard to the first; and make them autonomous with regard to the second.
§ * SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I desire to know how the non-municipal element is to be appointed, whether by co-option from within the Committee, as in the former Bills, or by nomination from without, by external bodies, which is a new, and from the municipal point of view a very different thing.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
Will the right hon. Gentleman repeat his last passage. We did not understand his last passage.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think I can put the matter in a very few words, beginning as it were from the other end. The Councils of Boroughs of over 10,000, and of Urban Districts of over 20,000, if they please, may become the 859 absolute authority as regards primary I education. They retain their existing powers as to technical education, and they also become the authority for secondary education concurrently with the County Councils. The County Council of course is the authority over all the district outside the areas I have mentioned.
So much for the Authority. Now for its powers. We lay it down in the most absolute terms that the new Education Authority is, in the words of the Bill—To control all secular instruction in public elementary schools in their district.Whether those schools are voluntary, or whether they are rate-erected, in future, if this Bill becomes law, the local education authority which we create will be absolute master of the whole scheme of secular education in every elementary school in its district, voluntary or otherwise. The mode in which they will acquire that control in the case of rate-erected schools, of course, is simple enough. They acquire it as heirs of the School Boards. As regards the voluntary schools, they obtain it partly by the explicit mandate contained in the Bill, which I have just quoted; partly by the right given them in the Bill of appointing one-third of the managers; partly by the right of inspection; and partly by the power of the purse. They also obtain it by the right of refusing on educational grounds to sanction the appointment of any teachers whom they think unfitted to carry on the work of secular education. It will be seen, therefore, that under our plan we create a single master of the whole of the primary educational machinery in each district, and that master is an absolute master. It is quite plain that this complete control carries with it the obligation of maintenance, and we propose that on the county or borough rate shall be thrown the whole cost of maintaining every school under the local authority. The managers of the voluntary schools will be required to devote their buildings to educational purposes, to keep them in good repair, and to make all reasonable alterations and improvements. Of course, when we lay down that the local authority is to bear all the charge of maintenance 860 in the district, this can only be in respect of schools which are necessary, and by a necessary school we mean (following the precedent already set by the Code) a school which contains thirty children, or which, having accommodation for less than thirty, is full.
I have now explained that part of the scheme which deals with maintenance. But, as everybody knows, there are even thornier questions connected with what is known as provision—the supply of new schools as population increases, migrates, or shifts. The existing system is both arbitrary and anomalous. I will endeavour to explain it, although it is so absurd that it may take some hon. Gentlemen somewhat by surprise. A School Board is now, by the law and practice of the Department, not allowed to build a school in a district where there are already a sufficient number of places in existing schools for the children in the district. The schools may be wholly unsuited to the wishes of the district. There may be—to take an extreme case—nothing but Roman Catholic schools within reach of Protestant children. It makes no difference. As long as there are already provided a sufficient number of places for the children of the district, there no School Board, even if one is called into existence, is allowed to find more suitable accommodation. There is a correlative absurdity on the other side. In the district where there is a School Board, it is not, or until recently was not, in the power of any voluntary body to provide one, however much a denominational school might be required by the parents, unless the School Board gave their consent. That is quite unjustifiable in theory, and occasionally productive of much hardship in practice. We propose to abrogate both these conditions. If the real needs of a district require a kind of education not given by the voluntary schools, we fail to see why it should be out of the power of the ratepayers to erect another school, just as we fail to see why a majority of the ratepayers should have it in their power to say to a minority of the parents in any area, "You want a denominational school, and your children are sufficient in number to fill it; but we do 861 not mean to let yon have it." We make a clean sweep of both these limitations, which make the existing system inequitable in practice and indefensible in theory; and we permit, under reasonable limitation, new schools to be erected in both cases. In case of dispute as to whether it is proper for the new school to be erected, the Education Department is made, the arbiter between the parties, and what the Department has to take into account is the economy of rates, the interests of education, and the wishes of the parents. I do not know whether I shall help my case by taking extreme examples of the way in which this may conceivably work. Let us Imagine a district in which a Roman Catholic school has been built for a Roman Catholic population, and from which, owing to some change in the industrial condition of the neighbourhood, the whole Roman Catholic population has migrated. Supposing that a Protestant population has come into the district, but that, notwithstanding, the Roman Catholic school has been kept up. Under the existing system the absurdity, or worse than absurdity, is irremediable. It could be remedied under the system we propose. Take the opposite case, which we often hear of, though I hope it is not often found in practice. I heard of one only the other day, in which there was a large Roman Catholic population within a school area ready and anxious to provide a school for their children, but absolutely prevented from doing so owing to the opposition of the School Board. Both of those cases of hardship may arise, and sometimes do arise, under our existing system; both will be swept away under the system which we propose to substitute for it. I need only add on this branch of my subject that though, of course, you may in theory imagine that under this system there will be an undue multiplication of small schools, I believe common sense, the needs of economy, and the difficulty of finding the necessary funds will keep either undenominational or denominational zeal, as the case may be, within due bounds.
Sir, the scheme I have described is a scheme which we think suitable for the whole country with two very important, but I hope transitory, 862 limitations, which I now proceed to describe to the House. The first of these limitations relates to London. London is not dealt with in this Bill. London could not, of course, in this case, as London cannot in almost any case, be dealt with as if it were in precisely the same condition as other parts of the country. I believe that my right hon. friend near me, the Home Secretary—in the Local Government Bill of 1888—is almost the only person who has been able to deal with London in a Bill affecting the whole of England and Wales without making very special provisions for it. In fact, as we all know, London was treated differently from the rest of the country in the Act of 1870, though it was dealt with in the same Bill; it exists under a different set of sanitary laws; it exists under a different set of police laws; legislation affecting its constituent boroughs is different from the legislation affecting any other borough in the kingdom. I might go on multiplying examples, if it were necessary, in order to show that, if there be anything in precedent, London could not be left to the ordinary provisions of this Bill; that it would require a separate portion of the Bill to itself. I do not know what the House thinks—to me it seems evident that the Bill we have introduced is quite big enough for the remainder of the present session; and though the London problem must therefore be postponed, we shall approach it next session with all the advantage which the discussion upon the present measure gives us, and I am convinced that London will lose no thing, while the rest of the country will gain a great deal, by deferring the London portion of the Bill to next year.
The second limitation requires more explanation. I recognise, and. I am sure the House recognises, that whether they like the scheme we have proposed or whether they dislike it, it is, at all events, a far-reaching scheme. It touches an enormous number of controverted problems; it may rake up the ashes of many old controversies, and it may excite administrative disquiet, even alarm, in many portions of the country. I do not know that even now it has been brought home to the minds of everybody everywhere how vital is the need for some great reform, such as we propose; and we can hardly hope to succeed in our object unless we carry with us the 863 local authorities on whom the burden and responsibility of working the Bill will fall. We think it will be most undesirable to drive or force them, with but brief consideration, and possibly against their will, into accepting our plan. We, therefore, propose to leave it to the councils of the various districts to adopt the portion of this Act dealing with elementary education if and when they please. My conviction is that but very few years will elapse before they all do so. I feel tolerably confident that, as it is steadily brought home to them that only by adopting this Act in its entirety can they really hope to deal with the education problem as a whole, they will all adopt it. How much better to attain that result through their free and untrammelled action than to force it upon them, it may be, prematurely. And, Sir, we have, I think, in the sphere of education itself, a good example of how valuable this cautious procedure may prove. It may be in the recollection of the older Members of the House that it was not until 1876 that the non-School Board areas were given the right to pass by-laws for making attendance at school compulsory. They were not obliged to exercise the right, but they were given it. Had they been obliged to make attendance at school compulsory, they would undoubtedly in many cases have bitterly resisted the obligation. Fortunately it was made a voluntary Act. Four years elapsed, and, without a word, without the smallest objection in any quarter of the House or from any part of the country, universal and obligatory school attendance was made by statute the universal rule. I augur well from this precedent; and I believe that, while the voluntary element which we introduce into our Bill will relieve a great many fears, smooth over many difficulties, and prevent many prejudices being harshly interfered with, it will not delay for any long or important period the universal adoption of this Act in every part of England and Wales.
Now, Sir, that is, broadly, our scheme. I am aware that it will be looked at with very different eyes by different people according as one aspect or other of the complex education problem chiefly affects them. There are, for instance, some gentlemen who look at this question more from the ratepayers' point of view than from the 864 educational point of view, or the denominational point of view, and I cannot deny that one effect of this measure will be to throw some burden on the rates at present borne elsewhere. But let me remind those who speak in the interests of the ratepayers, that, if this Bill carries out all we hope from it, or anything like all we hope from it, it will give them far better value for their money than they get now; that it will immensely increase the efficiency of our education system, and, by increasing its efficiency, increase its economy. Let them also remember that this Bill sweeps away, once and for all, that considerable and most useless expenditure of money which takes place in the election of School Boards and the administration of small areas. Let me turther remind them that, if they have been in the habit of complaining of the minute and petty interference of the Board of Education at Whitehall—interference which is alleged, rightly or wrongly I know not, to have thrown a quite unnecessary burden upon many schools—let them, I say, remember that interference from Whitehall will no longer be with individual schools; it will be with the County Council. It is the County Council which will receive the Imperial subvention; it is to the County Councils that all complaints will have to be made; it is by the County Council they will have to be remedied. If half the grumbling I have heard about the Education Department at Whitehall be justified, this will prove no small relief to a very large number of long-suffering managers. And, lastly, let it never be forgotten that, if the maintenance of voluntary schools throws a new burden on the rates, this is trifling compared with the burden the rates will have to bear if the voluntary schools be allowed to perish. From the ratepayers' point of view there cannot be a better investment. So much for the ratepayers. Then, Sir, there is the enthusiast for local government. To him I would say that he need not be afraid that the County Councils under this scheme will be overworked. They will carry out their great responsibilities largely through the new Committees; and such experiences as we have of the admirable work they have done in regard to 865 secondary education, I think, may relieve us of all anxieties as to their fitness for their new duties. If, moreover, the Bill adds to the work of County Councils and Borough Councils, undoubtedly it will who add great dignity, it will increase the importance of their functions—I believe it will induce some persons to seek civic honours who have never thought of doing so before. Let me add that one great advantage which I foresee from the local government point of view is that education will now be largely decentralised, and that it will be for each district to determine what is the species of education most needed by the children in it to fit them for their work, which, after all, no central department could so well judge of as those whom their parents elect and who are acquainted with the circumstances in which they live.
Then there is another set of possible objectors I have to deal with, whom I hardly dare to hope I shall placate—the ardent believers in School Boards. I am the first to recognise what admirable work the School Boards in this country have done; but I think that even those who most admire them will admit that the present system of minority election and all the circumstances of canvassing which attend the election of the School Board do not really conduce to the interests of education, but are, indeed, very prejudicial to it. I would point out to them also that under our plan all the best educational elements in the country will be turned on to the work of education. They will not have to go through this elaborate electoral process, or not necessarily; and we shall be able for our educational needs to reach strata of experts not now accessible—representatives of Universities, of higher education in all its forms, who now cannot, from the nature of the case, submit themselves to the laborious tests of a School Board election. Finally, I would say to them that, though they may prefer an ad hoc authority, they must surely know that no ad hoc authority now can cover the whole ground of education. The last hope of such a consummation was swept away when this House passed the Act of 1889 and when the new municipalities throughout the country took the advantage of it. 866 Higher technical education and some outlying portions of secondary education have since then been in the grip of the municipalities; and no practical man will tell me across the floor of this House that he expects that Parliament or the country will ever deprive the municipalities of powers they have so admirably used. I would therefore say to the advocate of the School Boards that the School Board can never become the universal education authority, and if he wants a universal authority—one which can really co-ordinate education—it can only be to the municipalities that he can turn his gaze.
Then I come to the militant denominationalists and the militant anti-denominationalists. The militant denominationalists, I admit, lose the complete control of their schools which they have hitherto enjoyed. The school managers will no longer be free from responsibility to anyone except His Majesty's Inspector of Schools and the Department at Whitehall. They will have to fall into line, so far as secular instruction is concerned, with other schools, and take such part as they may be ordered to take in the general scheme of education. But the strain of maintenance will be removed. No longer will the unfortunate supporter of voluntary schools [ironical opposition cheers] while freely paying his rates for the rival school over the way, have to beg subscriptions in order to keep his own school going—a position which I think even the hon. Gentleman who ironically cheered just now will admit was a hard one. And, lastly, the denominationalists will for the first time have a clear right to provide schools where the necessity for such schools can be shown to exist.
So much for the militant denominationalists. Now for the militant anti-denominationalists. I admit that they may dislike this Bill. Nevertheless, they will also gain something by it. There are two grievances in the present position of the English Nonconformists which have given rise to complaints which seem to me unanswerable. I hope in practice they do not weigh very heavily on any portion of the population, but still in theory they are unquestionably grievances which we 867 ought to remedy as far as we can. The first is what I may call the grievance of the single school. In some districts there is but one school within reach, and that school is not conducted, so far as religious education is concerned, on lines pleasing to the Nonconformists. I do not say that this grievance is wholly removed but it is greatly mitigated by a plan which in cases of real need will allow a school to be built although there be adequate accommodation already in the district—a school to be built which may be satisfactory to the Nonconformist parents of the children who go to it. There is yet a second grievance which I have heard stated, of the exact weight of which I am unable to judge, but which, upon paper at all events, seems genuine enough. It is said that there are whole regions of the country where, as all the schools, or nearly all of them, are practically Church schools, the child of a Non-comformist parent anxious to enter the teaching profession finds it almost impossible to obtain the necessary facilities. Again, by creating a local authority which will certainly have it in its power to deal with the whole question of the education and provision of teachers, this grievance also, if not removed, will be very largely mitigated. So I might even say to the militant Nonconformist that he also gets something out of the Bill—gets some of the grievances of which he has so long and so loudly complained diminished or removed. He also, I trust, therefore, may be induced to look with less malevolent eyes on the present educational reform which the Government is attempting.
To the educationist I think I need make no apologies and offer no excuses. From him I anticipate, and I believe I shall obtain, the heartiest support. He has long seen a vast expenditure of public money, which has yet left this country behind all its Continental and American rivals in the matter of education. He has seen a huge average cost per child in our elementary schools, and yet at the same time many of those schools half starved, inadequately equipped, imperfectly staffed. He has seen in the last ten or fifteen years a development of University life by private liberality which has no parallel except in America, which has covered, and is still covering, 868 our great industrial centres with Universities and University colleges where the very highest type of University instruction is given by men well qualified for their duty. He has seen technological institutions which I am afraid do not yet rival those which America and Germany have produced, but which yet in their measure and within their limits are admirable. He has seen them erected at a vast cost in every great industrial centre. Yet these University colleges and these great technological institutions do not, cannot, and never will effect all they might do so long as our secondary education, which is their necessary preparation, is in the imperfect condition in which we find it. Therefore I think I may make my appeal, to the educationist at least, with perfect confidence. I think I might go further. It is not upon the opinions or wishes of any particular section of opinion in this House or in the country that the fate of this Bill depends. It depends upon the common-sense of the great body of the people, on their growing perception of the need of a really national system of education. If the country is determined on reform in this matter—and I believe its determination to be unalterable—then I say with some confidence that it is upon the lines of this Bill, and only upon the lines of this Bill, that that great reform can proceed. No other scheme—be it what you like—will give to the educational evils of this country the complete, radical, and final cure which this Bill will give. I count upon the support of our countrymen to enable us to close for ever these barren controversies which for too long have occupied our time, and in the interests alike of parental liberty and of educational efficiency to terminate the present system of costly confusion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make further provision with respect to education in England 'and Wales.'"—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
(5.42.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman has explained with very great clearness the provisions of an exceedingly complex and intricate measure. But, although the right hon. Gentleman's exposition was clear, I doubt very much 869 whether the, impression on the minds of all who heard him is equally clear. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would give us a bird's-eye view of the measure. If he gave us a bird's eye view it follows, I suppose, that we got a bird's-eye view, and in that case I shall venture to assume for myself—and I would advise others as much as possible to assume—the privileges of the position of a bird. A bird's-eye view is taken by a bird when it is not in close proximity to the object which it is looking at, and cannot, therefore, examine it fully and completely. It alights on a perch in order to examine the object. I should say that it would be well for the House of Commons—and I shall certainly exercise that privilege myself—to see the Bill itself and to get something more than a bird's-eye view before pronouncing positively any opinion either upon the Bill as a whole or upon the details which the right hon. Gentleman has laid before us. I need hardly say that any Bill calculated to promote the real interests of education would have in this House a more favourable reception and more favourable consideration than a Bill for any other purpose almost that could be named, for education is, perhaps, not the most important, but it is one out of the three or four most important matters to which the attention of Parliament can be directed.
But what occurs to me with regard to education and this Bill is this. This is, I think, the fifth Bill that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman has introduced within half a dozen years. Two of these Bills have been passed; two of them have been dropped. Admitting that the subject is one of great complexity and difficulty, still other complex and difficult matters have been dealt with, but that of education remains. What is the reason for these repeated failures to deal with this avowedly urgent question? It is this, if I am to speak frankly, that there has been either the reality, or the well-founded suspicion, which is quite as bad as the reality, of some other objects underlying every proposal that has been made. Any purely educational reform, a measure which was undoubtedly purely designed to improve and extend the system of education in this country, would be received by the House in a very different manner from measures which are open at least to the suspicion, and in some cases to the well-founded belief, that 870 they have some other object behind them as well.
What would a real Education Bill do; what will this Bill do, if we find on better and fuller acquaintance that it comes up to our ideal? It will make more efficient the teaching in elementary schools. There is abundant room for that improvement. We have had from the Vice-President of the Council—whose absence and its cause we deplore today—again and again an account of the points in which, according to him, vast improvements and reforms can be made in elementary education. Then, it would grapple honestly and vigorously with the organisation of secondary education. I agree with everything that has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman on that subject, especially when he pointed out that the technical education, to which public attention has been so largely directed of recent years, is really of no avail for its purpose unless it is founded, not only, as the right hon. Gentleman said, on a well-grounded secondary education, but on a thorough primary education as well, for, after all, it is in the elementary education that the faculties and powers of the child are more developed than in any other after stage It would also simplify the working of our administrative machine. In that respect we cannot judge of this Bill until we have seen it. I would also insert here as an object, not, perhaps, of the same extent and importance, but still most essential, the creation of a sufficient supply of well-equipped and qualified teachers. I was glad to hear the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the effect which he hopes will follow from his proposals in opening the career of teacher to large classes of the community who are at present shut out from it. I hope the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman in that respect will be fulfilled. But there is more. In my opinion, a really sound Education Bill would do something else. It would accomplish all that I have spoken of without losing hold of that which we consider indispensable—the element, namely, of real popular control and management. If the Bill is found to be open to the fear that it is, after all, only an effort to maintain better terms for the Church schools 871 ["Oh!"]—well, if it were open to that suspicion, if the hon. Member likes the word better, I think the fact would greatly endanger its chances of success. We trust that it will not be so, and we, trust that when this great financial aid is given to the voluntary and Church schools it will he accompanied by a popular control which will not be illusory, but real.
Now, a great deal seems to me to depend upon the constitution of the intermediate authority which will be elected, and of that we shall judge, and cannot judge until we have seen the provisions of the Bill. The financial aid given to these voluntary schools will undoubtedly be substantial and undeniable. We hope that the control over them by those who are most interested in their efficiency—namely, the inhabitants of the locality and the parents of the children who are to be trained by them—will be something more than colourable and ineffectual. The present system has, no doubt, great faults and defects, and is incomplete, but it has worked wonders for the children of this country. I am one of the now few Members of the House who were present and heard the debates and voted in the divisions on the Bill of 1870. I think that no one can deny that that Bill has wrought a transformation among great classes of our people. But that makes it all the greater folly for us to part with it or to break it up, unless we have an absolute assurance of something better and more efficient. We have different qualities of education because we have different kinds of schools. Let us take care that we do nothing which will tend to lower those which are better to the level of those which are worse. Let us rather, of course, hope that the opposite effect will take place.
As to the different authorities, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out very truly that there is a conflict of authorities; but the great thing, in my opinion, ought to be to strengthen the masculine element of public control—popular origin, popular interest, and popular management. There is a certain beauty and a certain advantage in the single authority; and no one can doubt that if we were to set to work now with a 872 tabula rasa we should establish a single authority, but do not let us sacrifice to the constitution of a single authority the essential safeguards of efficiency and the principles of justice as between different sections of the community. When we have seen the Bill we shall be better able to judge how far it is worthy of the opportunity and the necessity it seeks to meet. I sincerely hope that it may prove so worthy; and, if it is so, then all our efforts will be devoted to endeavouring to extend its usefulness and make it still more effectual for the building up of an instructed and intelligent people—and the intelligence, as I said a few minutes ago, is really created in the earliest ages and the youngest minds in the elementary schools—an instructed and intelligent people, fitted to discharge the great duties which as citizens of this country they are called upon to discharge.
§ (5.54.) SIR RICHAED JEBB (Cambridge University)
The measure which has just been explained by the First Lord of the Treasury has, I believe, the good wishes of the great majority of Members on our side. I hope it will result in a comprehensive and satisfactory settlement, and certainly the very fair and moderate tone of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition offers a good prospect for its future progress. I should, however, not be candid it I did not say that the Bill has, in my opinion, one most serious defect, to which I will presently refer; but it is one which may be amended at a later stage.
The first point which naturally attracts notice is the mode of forming the new local authorities. The basis is the same as in the Bill of last year; that is, the local authorities are to be the County Councils and the County Borough Councils. But the improvements on the plan of last year are most important. The Bill of last session proposed that the majority of the Education Committee should consist of members of the Council, the present Bill proposes that the Council shall nominate or appoint a majority of the members of the Education Committee. As I understand, it is not necessary that any member of the County or County Borough Council should be a member of the Education 873 Committee. Is that correct? If so, that answers the objection which has been raised to putting too much work on bodies which, in some cases, are already overworked. This Bill provides, as I understand, that the Education Committee shall include persons having experience in education, and also persons acquainted with the various kinds of schools in the area. The latter clause would, I suppose, facilitate the representation of minorities, and, in passing, I may express the hope that on the Education Committee a place will be found for women.
Now, as to the powers of these, new local authorities. Under the Bill, the local authorities will at once become the authorities for secondary education in their respective areas. That will be universal and necessary. They will supersede the various agencies which at present compete and conflict. That, in itself, is an excellent thing, but it is not enough. And even that control of secondary education cannot be efficiently managed unless the local authority is also the authority for elementary education. Why is that so? I will endeavour to state the reasons. The lower grades of secondary education have to be adjusted to the higher grades of primary, so as to provide a continuous upward course for all boys and girls who can profit by it. But it is extremely difficult to define with precision where elementary education ends and secondary begins. The adjustment cannot be effectively carried out except by an authority which controls both. The Cockerton Judgment decided that only the elementary education of children can be defrayed from the School Board rate. The difficulty was got over last year by a temporary measure—which, by the way, will have to be continued until the new local authorities came into operation—providing a way by which the School Boards could go on doing just what they had been doing before. But the moment the new authorities are in the saddle, they will take over all the secondary work in their areas. Therefore, where School Boards continue to exist, the new local authorities for secondary education will be confronted with the difficult task of deciding what is elementary and what is secondary—a possible source of 874 friction between them and the surviving School Boards; and that friction will be aggravated by the fact that some branches of secondary education are carried on in elementary school buildings which belong to the surviving School Boards. For instance, that is largely the case with evening schools, which, as being not elementary, will come under the local authorities.
But that is not all. The programmes of elementary schools are very seldom duly correlated with the programmes of secondary and technical schools. The establishment of duo harmony and continuity between such programmes cannot be thoroughly effected except by a local authority which has the supervision of both. In every educational area we need a common plan of educational action, which should include the adjustment of the scholarship system to the local needs. Here, in my judgment, is the great blot on this Bill. It leaves it to the option of each local authority whether they will or will not become the authority for elementary education. If that defect were organic in the Bill, if it could not be remedied without dislocating the whole machinery of the general structure of the Bill, then my hopes of much good coming from this Bill would be very much smaller than they are. But the defect is not organic. It can be remedied at a later stage; and I would respectfully urge the Government, with all the earnestness at my command, to reconsider this momentous, this vital point.
Let us try and see clearly how the matter stands. Take first the case in which a local authority adopts the permissive clause, and thereby makes itself the authority, not only for secondary but also for elementary education. It will then be supreme over all the elementary schools in its area. These elementary schools will be of two kinds, namely, the board and the voluntary schools. The board schools will go on just as they did under the School Boards. The new authority will, presumably, cause managers to be elected, as School Boards sometimes do; and they will finance them just as the School Boards have done. The relation of the new authority to the voluntary schools will equally be one of supreme control, and no voluntary schools 875 will be allowed to stand out. Voluntary schools will receive rate aid, and, in return, will submit to ratepayers' control. But, before considering the terms of this aid and this control, it is necessary to recall very briefly some facts bearing upon the present history of voluntary schools. A very few words will suffice, because the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has already touched upon this subject. When in the year 1870 the existing compromise was made, voluntary schools had been in existence for more than forty years. Mr. Forster's object was not to destroy or injure voluntary schools, but to supplement them. It is worth remembering that in Mr. Forster's Bill, as originally framed, the School Boards were left perfectly free to aid voluntary schools, and free to conduct their own board schools on any religious lines they pleased. It was not until after the Second Beading of Mr. Forster's Bill that restrictions were introduced, and the existing compromise devised.
That turned on two points. First, the new School Boards were prohibited from giving rate aid to avowedly denominational schools. Secondly, the Cowper-Temple clause provided that no distinctive formularies of any religious denomination should be taught in schools aided from the rates. The Cowper-Temple clause was felt at the time to be not strictly logical, since it is scarcely possible to define, much less to prevent, a breach of it. But it helped to carry the Bill; and it has served its purpose fairly well. I do not understand that it is proposed to repeal this provision. When the compromise was thus arranged in 1870 the Government gave an increased grant to voluntary schools, which they wished to maintain. They thought that with the aid of this grant the schools could be maintained in permanent efficiency. That has proved to he a miscalculation.
But the voluntary schools have survived for thirty-two years. As the right hon. Gentleman has told us, they are now in a majority in the country, and they have a majority of the pupils. The right hon. Gentleman gave I think the number of children on the registers of voluntary and 876 board schools respectively, and the pro portion of children in average attendance at voluntary schools and board schools is much the same. In Board Schools there are about 2,200,000 children in average attendance, and in the voluntary schools there are about 2,400,000. For the year ending the 31st of August, 1900, the total amount of voluntary subscriptions was about £812,000, and to this the Church of England contributed about £624,000. It is perfectly true that in the year following the aid grant of 1897 there was a slight decrease in subscriptions; but since 1897 there has been a progressive rise, and the figures which I have just mentioned are nearly double those of the corresponding figures in 1870. Meanwhile the cost of elementary education has progressively increased, and the demands of the Board of Education have rightly been raised. In most places at the present day the voluntary schools are engaged in a struggle which is more or less severe. There are many places in which some of them will cease to exist before any very long period has elapsed, unless further aid is obtained. Nor is that surprising, since the average income of voluntary schools in England and Wales per child is less by about 14s. 2d. than the income of board schools. I have the latest figures of the Wesleyan schools, which illustrate the operation of the grant of 1897. That grant, it will be remembered, was a grant of 5s. per child in average attendance at voluntary schools. In many cases, this grant has been absorbed in the growing cost of maintenance. I have just learned that, in the case of the Wesleyan schools, the aid grant of 1897 amounts to about £36,000 a year, whilst the school expenditure has risen by about £50,000.
Thus the experience of more than thirty years has shown that the country still demands denominational elementary schools. In about one-third of England and Wales there are no School Boards. Long experience has shown that under existing conditions those schools cannot be preserved in permanent efficiency. And so the situation is this: The denominational schools form an indispensable element, in fact, the largest, in our elementary system; 877 and yet their efficiency is precarious. It is in the light of these facts that the proposals in the Bill must be considered.
It is proposed that the local authority shall appoint a certain element of the managing body for each voluntary school. If the wishes which have often been expressed are carried out that element will not exceed one-third. Why is that limit imposed? Because it is assumed that the schools are to remain denominational. That is the reason for their existence. But if the schools are to remain denominational, the teachers must command the confidence of the denomination. Suppose that teachers holding no religious views were appointed to a denominational school: it would soon cease to be denominational. The managers, therefore, will nominate the teachers in the voluntary schools; but that will be subject to the veto of the local authority, as a safeguard for educational efficiency in regard to secular instruction. It is not however, in the managing body of the denominational school that the control of the ratepayers will reside. That control will reside in the local authority, which is supreme over the managers.
What is to be the nature of this aid and this control? In what relation will the managers of the denominational schools stand to the local authority? In the first place the local authority will require the managers to provide and maintain the buildings, and to keep them in repair. Any modifications in the buildings not deemed unreasonable by the Board of Education can be required from the managers by the local authority. To the local authority will be paid any grants from the Treasury which the voluntary school may earn, and also any grant in aid which the voluntary school may have been receiving. The local authority will then consider what aid from the rates is required in order to complete the annual budget of the school in such a manner as to secure its efficiency. The local authority can issue any directions it pleases to the managers of the denominational school with regard to the lines of educational policy to be observed in the secular teaching of the school, and the managers will be bound to obey them. The local authority will have the power of inspecting the denominational school, and will also have a 878 veto on the appointment and dismissal of teachers. The local authority representing the ratepayers will have full control over the denominational school as a place of secular elementary education. The only thing excepted will be the teaching given during the one hour daily reserved for religious instruction. That is indispensable if the school is to remain denominational. As to the future provision of schools, the local authority will decide, subject to an appeal to the Board of Education, whether a new school is or is not necessary. At present only the numerical deficit is considered: thus a new Roman Catholic school could not be built if there was room for the children in non-Catholic schools. In future, all the local facts, including the religious complexion of the district, will be taken into account in deciding whether a new school is required or not. If the school is to be undenominational, then it will be built out of the rates: if denominational, it will be built at the cost of the denomination.
I have now attempted to sketch the state of things that will exist when the new authority adopts the permissive clause and makes itself the authority for elementary as well as secondary education. And here I would make an earnest appeal to any hon. Members who may regard the compromise of 1870 as embodying in a final form some immutable principle to put aside the influence of such terms as "sectarian," to cast off the spell of outworn shibboleths, and to ask themselves this question, thinking only of the public good in education: Which is the greater evil, that the voluntary schools should struggle on, as they have so long been doing, amid progressive difficulties, and with recurrent periods of crisis, giving us at the best a system of unequal and precarious efficiency, until many or most of them succumb, thereby throwing a new and enormous burden upon the rates; or that the ratepayers, having full control over denominational schools so far as they are secular schools, should tolerate for one hour a day distinctive religious teaching, subject to a conscience clause, in return for the provision and maintenance of the buildings by the denominations, 879 thereby guaranteeing at last the permanent efficiency of all our elementary schools?
But now let me touch very briefly upon the state of things that will arise where the new local authority does not adopt the permissive clause. It will be observed that the Bill, as described by the right hon. Gentleman, provides for the autonomy, in respect to elementary education, of any borough of at least 10,000, and of any urban district of at least 20,000, if that borough or urban district adopts the permissive clause. Very well: let us suppose that in a given county one or more of those smaller boroughs, or one or more of the urban districts, adopt the permissive clause. Then in their respective areas they become the supreme authorities in elementary education, and, of course, they can aid the voluntary schools in the manner described. But suppose also that the council of the county in which these boroughs and urban districts are situated does not adopt the permissive clause. Then in the county area, outside these smaller areas, the School Boards will continue, and no help can be given to the voluntary schools. I ask the House, is it easy to conceive anything more invidious or more irritating than the local contrasts which will thus be created within the borders of a single county? As to the complexity of educational rating areas in that county, it will be bewildering. But even that will not be the worst. The local authority will not be able to deal effectively even with secondary education, for the reasons I gave a few moments ago. And the dual system of elementary schools will continue under all its present disadvantages. On some of those disadvantages I have already touched. But there is one to be added. The dual system of board and voluntary schools is most wasteful. Does the House remember that in all our elementary schools put together there are places for about 6,544,000 children; and does it realise that on the registers of our elementary schools all put together there are only about 5,705,000 children—the number of children in average attendance being, of course, considerably less? That is to say, there are upwards of 800,000 vacant 880 places in our elementary schools. One of the chief reasons is that in so many places Board schools and voluntary schools exist close to each other, and there are vacant places in both. This waste will not be mitigated until one local authority controls all the elementary education in its area, and can judge which schools are necessary and which are superfluous. I must not trespass longer on the time and indulgence of the House. I will end by once more entreating the Government to reconsider their permissive clause, and to make it, not optional but obligatory, for every local authority to take over at once both elementary and secondary education. Samuel Johnson said that when a man is all wrong it is from want of sense, but when he is half, wrong it may be from want of spirit. I do not presume to apply the second part of that maxim to the Government Bill; but I do venture to say that this is a case in which the bolder and simpler course would be also the wiser. Sir, in education we can no longer afford to wait. We cannot afford to lose a single year. The commercial and industrial interests of the country, all our; national interests, clamour for educational reform. Let the Government make the modification which I have ventured to suggest; let them then press on their Bill, so modified, with all the energy and all the resolution which the great interests at stake demand. If they do that, I venture to say that they will have behind them the support of many, if not most, of their followers in this House; I even venture-to hope that they will have the goodwill of at least some hon. Gentlemen on the Benches opposite; and lam confident that they will have the country at large behind them. May this auspicious year be remembered as one which added to the national strength in a province not less vital for our defence than the provision of fleets and armies: may it give us at last a system of national education which shall be at once comprehensive and just, and which shall carry with it the pledges, too long deferred, of efficiency, stability, and permanence.
§ (6.20.) DR. MACNAMARA
The First Lord of the Treasury laid 881 before us a comprehensive and most important scheme, and I venture to sympathise with him in saying that the matter is one of extreme difficulty. We have to take existing facts and do the best we can with them to meet the needs of the present situation. So far as I could gather the principle of the Bill from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, it is first of all to create local authorities for educational purposes. The first Lord has gone to the Municipal Councils for his educational authorities, and those authorities will have the control of elementary and higher education. They will have the right to levy a rate up to 2d. in the £1, with the right to go further if the Local Government Board, or a Provisional Order if Parliament, permits. I ask what has Parliament to do, or what has the Local Government Board to do with the amount of rate which the ratepayers of a district desire to levy. Supposing that the ratepayers of Leeds desired to levy 6d. in the £1, I should object to any veto by the Local Government Board on the people of Leeds, or indeed on the right of any locality to spend money for education under the provisions of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that it would be absurd if the great spending Departments of the State had no veto placed on them, and pointed out that they have the veto of this House. The ad hoc authority to which he refers will spend money from the rates, and they have the ratepayer's veto. I personally object to the veto of the Local Government Board if the local authority elected by the ratepayers decides to spend any amount of money for the purposes of the Act.
This new authority is to have the right, if it desires, to take over elementary education from the School Boards, and also to take over the voluntary schools, and to aid them out of the rates. I am very glad indeed that this question of aiding the voluntary schools out of the rates has been raised. It ought to be raised. What are the facts with regard to the dual elementary system at the present time? The right bon. Gentleman told us that there are 3,000,000 children in the voluntary schools, and 2,500,000 in the board schools, and, of course, it is the fact that both these systems are 882 sustained partly with money from the Exchequer, and partly with money raised locally. I think, with regard to the money from the Exchequer, that I have the right to put it on the one side altogether, it does not affect the argument at all. The essential supplement of the income comes from an entirely different source. The board school people have the right to come compulsorily on the rates for all the money they want, to supplement that received from the Imperial Exchequer, and everybody is agreed that the Imperial Exchequer grant is not enough to conduct education properly. The voluntary school people have to make up their essential supplement from the goodwill offerings of charitably disposed persons. Last year the School Board people came on the rates to the extent of 25s. 6d. in supplement of what they got from the Government, and then they added 5d. per child for fees which makes 25s. 11d. per child, over and above what they got from the Government grants. Now, the voluntary school people were only able to get from contributors a sum equal to 6s. 5d., and they added 1s. 7d. for school fees, making a total of 8s. That is differential treatment to the detriment of the children in the voluntary school of 17s. 11d. per head. I am sorry to hear that there is no right to claim an adjustment of this. That means that you are going to take some of the School Board money and give it to the voluntary school child. I am averse to that, because I do not believe too much money is spent on the School Board child. That being so, obviously too little is spent on the voluntary school child.
The Government is unquestionably right in raising the question. It is a dangerous anachronism to have any portion of the education of the children of the working classes maintained out of charitable contributions. I am a voluntary school manager, and I am grateful to the voluntary contributor for what he has done. He has done work which the State was either unwilling or too selfish to do. I submit that the time has come when we should no longer maintain in operation the educational work of working class children out of money collected at jumble sales and ping-pong tournaments. It is a proper thing to raise the question of the form of 883 local financial aid, and to lay down de finitely, that in all schools, Board and Voluntary, money must be forthcoming from public sources, central and local, under proper conditions of course. These conditions we cannot go into now until we have seen the terms of the Bill. What is the position of the country generally as the result of this attempt to maintain this dangerons anachronism of charitable contributions for the support of education? You have supplemented the rate in the county boroughs. There are eight towns where there is no rate. There are 109 non-county boroughs which have no local rate, and in half the agricultural area of the country there is no local rate at all. For all these reasons the Government is quite entitled to raise this question, and I shall give them all my support in endeavouring to get the financial control of education placed on a national and permanently sound basis. In those areas where there is no School Board rate, what will the people tell you? They will tell you that they will not have a School Board under any circumstances, because they prefer denominational religious instruction. I believe that to be perfectly true of a certain number of good, earnest people, who contribute themselves voluntarily far more than they would have ever to contribute if there was a public obligation; but I am convinced with regard to the great bulk of those people in non School Board areas that their preference is to get out of paying rates for instruction. It appears to me that the Government have taken the Bill of last year, which was a Bill for secondary education, and added the powers in this Bill affecting elementary education. Then they began to be rather frightened at the extent to which they had gone, and wound up with a scheme making the whole thing permissible. That I believe is the position with which we are confronted. This is the Bill which is to carry out the pledge given in the King's Speech to improve primary and secondary education, and it leaves the people just in the same old set way as in the past.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
I do not think that this is a courageous way to deal 884 with this problem. You have to make these people carry out their obligation in regard to secondary education, and I very strongly object to the permissive feature of this Bill which makes it futile to the last degree. It becomes a Bill at once to enable selfish people to contract themselves out of their communal obligation. If the Act is not adopted, the voluntary schools will go on in the same starved fashion, relying upon contributions paid very handsomely by a small number of persons but not by the bulk of the people in the district. The right hon Gentleman spoke of the marvellous way in which the voluntary contributions had come forward. That is true in School Board areas. But take two towns. Hastings, with a School Board, contributed £2 0s. 1d. per child last year in rates for the School Board; and over and above they, the people of Hastings, contributed, or some of them did, 14s. per child in voluntary contributions. Stockport, on the other hand, being one of those towns which prefers denominational schools, paid no School Board rate; and 1s. 7d, per child was the entire voluntary contribution. This Bill would enable Stockport to go on in that way; and the probability is that they would do so. And does the House think that that would not be true of the great bulk of the agricultural districts? How many County Councils administering areas, half of which have never been rated at all, are now going to rate themselves for education if you give them this chance. How many of the landowners, who, according to the Vice-President of the Council, "exhibited that dislike to intellectual development which was characteristic of a territorial aristocracy," are going to levy a new rate for elementary instruction? The Vice-President of the Council said on the 7th of March in this House that the people in the villages preferred the church school, with its catechism and clerical tyranny, to the School Board; and they would rather their children were taught anything than that should have to pay a School Board rate. That being so, I think it is perfectly futile in agricultural districts to have such a provision, and if the Government mean the levying of a rate for the whole country this permissive clause must come 885 out; otherwise, the Act will not be put into operation just in the very places where it should have been put into operation years ago.
There is another feature of this question. Supposing the elementary part is not adopted? You get a higher authority with the duplication of the official machinery which the right hon. Gentleman desires to avoid; and there is overlapping and friction along the frontiers; and that will be perpetuated under this Bill which is supposed to do away with all these objections. If the elementary part is not adopted and the School Boards go on, let us be quite clear about their position. The School Boards will go on, but they will be truncated and narrowed down to elementary instruction; they cannot instruct anybody over fifteen years of age, they cannot spend the rates upon any instruction over that age; and they are bound to fail. I do not think that is quite the way to meet this case. The School Boards, particularly in the North of England, are held in high esteem by the people who use them. They have done a great work for the education of this country, and there is every reason why the artisans of Liverpool. Manchester, and Sheffield should have deep affection for the School Boards. If the Bill is to be adopted in its present form, the School Boards are to go out of existence at the instance of the Municipal Council. They are to have no voice in the matter and the Municipal Council is to determine the question. Take the case of Bradford. For thirty years this town has been gaining experience in this matter, and it is to be wiped clean out of existence by a municipal authority. Surely these great bodies ought to have some voice upon the question of their own extinction, and surely there ought to be some Referendum in this matter.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should take, this line of argument, because it could, not come into operation in such a case.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
Although I desire the Bill to be thorough and go the whole distance, I do think you are entitled to appeal to the people. The Town 886 Council was not elected upon the question of the wiping out of the School Board, therefore, I think it is fair to ask that the people of Bradford, for instance, should have a voice in this particular matter. Supposing we say they have too many local authorities. Then there is a good intellectual reason for making the Municipal Council the authority. There is nothing sacred about the words "School Board." Suppose Bradford says, "We want to consolidate and perfect our local government, and we want paramount authority for all purposes including education." I think they are entitled to say that. But on the other hand if the people of Bradford say. "Our Town Council has too much to do with the material matters upon which it is engaged, and we think education of sufficient importance to call for a directly elected Education Board to take over all the work of education, and we desire to have a fully qualified School Board upon a broader basis, giving the co-ordination and the unification which the Kings Speech pledged to give us," I think you ought to give the people of Bradford that option. If such a provision can be introduced I shall take care that this option is given to the great oounty boroughs.
London, I gather, is to be respited until next year; and for some reasons I am glad, because I think I see in the London School Board a spirit which may ultimately bring us together and enable us to submit to the Government a scheme which should commend itself to the men and women of both parties. If that is the result it will be all to the good, but I cannot help pointing out that the voluntary schools cannot educate children like the board schools while they are going on in the present starved condition. The voluntary school problem is most acute in London. There is no part of the kingdom where the voluntary schools are in such a hopeless condition; they are in a state of perpetual bankruptcy, their premises are old, and the apparatus unsuitable and antiquated. Under the London School Board we have a certificated teacher for every fifty-one children on the roll. In the London voluntary schools they have one certificated teacher for every 131 children. 887 I do not wish to give any further figures because it will be seen that this is a problem which requires attention. The London voluntary school system, starved as it is, has no possible means of being remedied for the next twelve months. I therefore express my regret that these schools cannot be tackled immediately.
With regard to the religious question, I gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that substantially this Bill does not propose to touch that question, and the Cowper-Temple clause remains as it is. Therefore, in the denominational schools denominational teaching will continue. I can see however, that we are in for a long acrimonious and acute controversy in tin's country because of the proposition laid down to rate-aid denominational schools. There can be no doubt about this if there is no modification of the character of the religious instruction. There are half a dozen compromises which might be suggested in respect of the nature of the religious instruction. They have been made public, but the Government appears to have rejected them. There will be one immediate result from this proposal. As the right hon. Gentleman explained there are 8,000 villages out of 10,000 which have only a Church school. Those Church schools are to be rate-aided, and the managers are to maintain only the fabric. The right hon. Gentleman explained that if thirty people say they want something different from the religious instruction given in a particular school, all question of educational efficiency in a particular district goes by the Board. A new deficiency is set up; the whole practice of the Education Department disappears, and the new deficiency is a religious deficiency. These people can go to the local authority and have a new school built for themselves.
§ EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)
It must be an undenominational school if the local authorities build it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
This is the way the matter stands. Supposing there is 888 only a Church school in a particular district, under limitations with which I need not now trouble the House, it will be possible for the local authority to build an undenominational school on the ground that it is more suitable to the district than the Church school. But if after the undenominational school is built and the experiment is unsuccessful they cannot disestablish the Church school, I mean, if the children still go to the Church school, the local authority cannot close the Church school.
I think I understand the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose we have a Church school which would be aided by the rates. If thirty people say, "We want something other than that," the local authority would be appealed to to build a school which must be undenominational. But there is more. Thirty people belonging to some other denomination may, if they like, find the money to build a school for themselves. You may, therefore, have the spectacle of any number of entirely unnecessary schools being set up in the villages of this country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the hon. Member had better wait until he sees the limitations in the Bill before he condemns it absolutely.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
Certainly, but I am doing my best with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. I will, however, wait until I see the limitations. But I think the right hon. Gentleman himself referred to this danger of overbuilding in villages, and I believe it is a real danger. I can conceive, for instance, that Nonconformists, who hold their faith quite as keenly as members of other denominations, will, when they get a Church school or a Roman Catholic school aided out of the rates in a village largely inhabited by their own people, build another school of their own. I think that is a very likely contingency. Or, they will do their best to get the local authority to build them an undenominational school. That being so, I contemplate with a great deal of regret the possibility of this building of all sorts of schools. I should have thought we could have kept the 889 children together in childhood, teaching them the creeds which unite rather than the creeds which disunite us, and that, I fear, will be the result of this scheme. Surely we could wait until after years for them to be separated by religious differences.
I hope I have said no word which in any way embitters this controversy. I have endeavoured to understand exactly what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I hope all I have said has tended towards the improvement of education, for the laying of a truly national basis, and not the keeping up of this stupid system of maintaining schools out of voluntary contributions. I am much afraid we are in for a bitter religious controversy in connection with which it is very likely such a barren cloud will be raised that the child will be lost sight of. I make no appeal to sectarian or partisan politicians. I appeal to the working classes themselves, whose children will use the schools. I hope they will not be led away to the right or to the left by one or other of those parties to the present controversy. I hope they will press on relentlessly for the attainment of the goal—that is, that the State or the locality, whether under this Bill or in some other way, this year or next, should make some provision, and should institute the fullest, freest, and most generous facilities for the children no matter how humble their extraction may be, so that the only limit which may be put to their education shall be the limit which it has pleased God Almighty to put to their capacities.
§ (6.50.) EARL PERCY
I think we must all agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that it is exceedingly difficult to criticise with real efficiency the details of the Bill which has been brought in at such short notice on so complicated a subject, and a measure of which we have not yet a printed copy in our hands. On the other hand, the complete mastery of the most difficult and complicated subject with which we have had to deal for many years, shown by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and his power of lucid exposition, have considerably facilitated the task of appreciating the main outlines of the Government proposals. 890 There is no doubt this Bill is a most revolutionary measure. It turns the whole of our national system of education, I will not say topsy-turvy, but, at any rate, it completely re-models it. At the same time, I believe that, on the whole, it will certainly contribute to efficiency, and in two ways—one negative, and the other positive: positively, because it will remodel in the right direction the finance and the administration of education as it exists at the present time, and negatively, because it will remove that impediment to which the hon. Member for North Camberwell has referred—an impediment which I believe is far more acutely felt in Parliament than in the country, but which he clearly anticipates will be raised (although I hope he will not prove a true prophet in that respect) in the future course of these debates I mean the religious controversy. The proposals of the Government will have this negative advantage—that if they are carried they will take the religious controversy out of the question altogether.
Most people who have considered this question will admit that the main deficiencies of the present system are want of financial resources, and, at the same time, with all respect to the hon. Member for North Camberwell, a want of adequate financial control; and in the second place an unnecessary multiplcation and confusion of different authorities; and, as a practical result of that, a lack of concentrated aim and method throughout the whole of the educational administration. The merits or demerits of a Bill of this kind must he judged entirely—or, at any rate, mainly—the effect which it will have in removing or modifying these evils.
I will take, first of all, the question of finance. I remember a very able speech of the hon. Member for North Camberwell last year, criticising the first Bill which the Government introduced, and subsequently dropped, in which he said that the Bill would stand or fall according to the adequacy or inadequacy of its financial provisions. I think the same is true of this Bill So far as elementary education is concerned, it cannot be denied that the provision of this Bill, at all events, is adequate. There is no limit whatever placed on the rates for elementary education; and, therefore, no voluntary school which proves that it comes up to 891 a recognised standard of efficiency can possibly run the danger of extinction. If this Bill contained no other provision than that, I think it would justify its claim to be considered a great measure of reform. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for North Camberwell, who spoke in a most liberal-minded way about voluntary schools, that it is a perfect scandal that you should have a state of things, which, during the past few months has led to the surrender or extinction of no less than ten schools in North London alone, in spite of the inspector's report that those schools were not only as efficient as before, but were doing better work than ever. So much for the financial provision of the Bill as regards elementary education. I now come to the financial provision as regards secondary education. I did not quite understand from the right hon. Gentleman whether it was so, but I imagine the Bill contains the same provision as the Bill of last year with regard to the technical education money, and the "whiskey money" as it is called—that both those funds should be set free to be used for the purpose of higher education generally, according as the local authority may determine. That, I think, will be admitted by all educational reformers to be a distinct step in advance. Then the Bill makes this further provision. It raises the rate which may be raised for higher education from 1d. to 2d. in the pound. The hon. Member for North Camberwell, if I understand him rightly, thinks there ought to be no limit at all placed on the rates, or, at any rate, that it ought to be placed at a much higher level.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
I suggested there should be no limit so long as the ratepayers desired to spend the money.
§ * EARL PERCY
That is what I meant by there being no Parliamentary limit placed on the rate which may be raised. I entirely and fundamentally join issue with the hon. Member. In the first place, this limit of 2d. in the pound is the limit recommended by the Royal Commission. That body expressly abstained from recommending any further increase at present, and it is quite clear why 892 they did so. They believed it was quite impossible to make any very large demand on the rates all over the country, and when that demand was made it ought to be accompanied by a Treasury grant. They incidentally mentioned that when that Treasury grant was given it ought to be conditionally on the exercise of their rating powers by the local authorities to the extent by which a rate of ½d. in the pound would equal the amount given by the Imperial Exchequer. They held that if you gave a Treasury grant, without demanding any corresponding effort from the ratepayers, you would merely encourage extravagance, while, on the other hand, if you left the whole of the money to be provided out of the rates without meeting them in any degree by aid from the Exchequer, you would be imposing a totally unnecessary burden, and one very hardly to be borne, upon certain localities.
But, apart altogether from the findings of the Royal Commission. I think the Government have done very wisely in not pressing beyond the limit of 2d. in the pound, because nothing can be more pernicious for the future working of a Bill like this, or more deleterious to the interests of education generally, than that this new authority should, at the very outset, excite the hostility of the ratepayers by embarking on extravagant expenditure, before it has or possibly could have had time to look round it to see where the money ought to be spent and where it could be laid out to the best advantage. On the other hand, everyone knows that a higher rate would be needed to supply education in towns than would be necessary in the country. I should think a rate of 2d. in the pound in the country would be probably amply sufficient at present. So far as towns are concerned, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, they will always have the power to go to the Local Government Board and ask for their sanction in order to raise the rating limit. Considering the enormous indebtedness of municipalities at the present moment, I think it is only reasonable that, in giving localities the power of placing a large new burden on the rates, you should give some power of check and control to the Local Government Board.
893 Then I want to make one remark with regard to a subject which has not yet been raised, viz., the question of endowments. If the local authority is really to have a tree hand it ought to have some power, such as was recommended by the Royal Commission—subject, of course, to any safeguards that may be necessary—of dealing with endowments. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that in their report the Royal Commission calculated that if their recommendations were accepted—and the Government have acted on the majority of their recommendations—there would be available for purposes of higher education generally the sum of £2,863,000. Everybody will admit that, at all events to begin with, that is a sufficient sum for the work of organisation and administration. That sum was to come from these various sources: £748,000 from Customs and Excise: £1,280,000 from the Technical Instruction rate of 2d. in the £, supposing that rate to be levied equally over the whole country; leaving £800,000 derived from endowments alone. £735,000 consisted of endowments now applicable to secondary education, and subject to the Endowed Schools Act, and there were £100,000 now applied to elementary education, a part of which might and ought to be made available for purposes of secondary education. They calculated that if that £800,000, derived from endowments alone, were available for purposes of higher education, you could give every child in England and Wales higher education at the rate of 7d. or 8d. per head—that is, 3d. more than is spent in the Principality of Wales. I think some provision ought to be made by which these endowments or local funds, which are, to a certain extent, being unprofitable used now without due regard to the requirements of the neighbouring localities, could be dealt with by the local authorities, subject to the requisite safeguards.
Before I leave that subject, perhaps I may venture to express the hope that when these new local authorities are being formed the Education Department will use all the influence it can exert to persuade as many of these county areas to combine as possible, for this reason. 894 If you are going to give these authorities power to deal with endowments, and you will certainly have to give them that power sooner or later, it is advisable to have the area as large as possible, so that the local authority may not be open to the charge of undue favouritism or partisanship.
Then I come to the question of the new authority. That now authority has not been very seriously attacked tonight. During the last few months there has been a most encouraging approach to unanimity on this point. I remember reading the other day a pamphlet, I think by the hon. Member for West Nottingham, with which a great many on this side of the House could entirely agree, and I rather regret that the hon. Member for North Camberwell, in his speech this evening, should have even distantly hinted that an accusation might be brought against this Dill that the Government were setting up an irresponsible authority for the endowment of sectarian education. Really, such charges as that are somewhat absurd in themselves, because they are not justified by the facts, and they are also absurd because the people who make them never suggest any practical alternative. The right hon. Gentleman himself has shown us tonight that an ad hoc authority, how ever much we might desire it on abstract grounds, is really impossible. Dow-anyone could desire it on educational grounds. I cannot imagine. To set up a new authority, to increase the number of conflicting local authorities, to increase the number of over-lapping areas, seems to me to aggravate the very evils we are most anxious to remedy. In that I hope we shall have the support of the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire, whose exceedingly interesting article in the Monthly Review I read a short time ago. I think he will support me in saying that no one who has studied foreign systems, and certainly no one who is always holding up to our admiration the German system, could for a moment support the idea of an hoc or directly elected authority. The fundamental characteristic of the German system is that it is not only not directly elected, but that it is three times removed from the electoral body. The School Deputation, consisting of thirty-two members the authority which directly 895 controls the schools, is itself indirectly elected by the Magistrat, which consists of thirty members. Half of that body of thirty members, the Magistrat—that is to say, a larger proportion than that proposed in the Government Bill—are nominees, experts; and that Magistrat itself is appointed by the Versammlung, which is elected by manhood suffrage. Nothing could be less approximate to our idea of a directly elected, or ad hoc, body than that. And I may add that the Magistrat itself, which appoints the School Deputation, is, as in France, not merely the authority for education, but is the authority for all municipal purposes. As to the School Boards, everybody admits that you cannot make the School Boards the authorities under a Bill of this kind. They do not cover more than one-third of the area; they educate only about one-half the children, and, whether we like them or not—and even those most opposed to School Boards admit the magnificent work they have done in many parts of the country—no one can help recognising that, as a matter of fact, owing to unfortunate incidents of the past, and the religious controversy which has dominated the School Board elections, you could not get the mass of the people of the country to place any confidence in the impartiality of these bodies. The only alternative is the county authority. It may have been elected in the past for political reasons, but it has never been elected on religious grounds. It has managed the work it has had to do in connection with technical education in the most admirable manner, and there is this great advantage which the county authority has over any other that you can devise—certainly over the School Board, that its rate is a general rate levied over the whole area and not a rate confined to some particular districts or unions. I agree with the hon. Member for North Camber well and the hon. Member for Cambridge University that the optional clause is really unworkable, for the reason the hon. Member for North Camberwell gave. It would defeat one of the chief objects of this Bill, that in the future within the county area every person should contribute—I will not say their proper share, but, at all events, a 896 share to the common burden of education, instead of, as at the present moment, some paying twice over, once in rates and once in subscriptions, and others escaping entirely scot free.
Then we are told that if this body is to be indirectly elected, the electors will have no control over either its finance or its policy. The very reverse is the case. There is no control over finance or policy at present. It is quite true the School Board is directly elected, but everyone knows that the elections are liable to be turned by the votes of people who do not contribute to the rates, or who, at any rate, do not know that they contribute to the rates, and who have no knowledge of what educational efficiency really means. That is one of the reasons why many people who do pay and who do know what is required, stay away. But, quite apart from that, the bulk of the electors of the School Board very rarely have a fair issue placed before them; they certainly do not have a fair issue on the question of expenditure or economy; it is always mixed up with the religious controversy. In future the electors will have the same control over the new authority, through the County Council, which Parliament has over the Education Department; and the religious controversy will be disposed of once for all.
I hope I am not detaining the House too long. I think no one will deny that, from the educational standpoint at all events, this getting rid of the religious controversy is an enormous blessing. The only question is whether the settlement which the Government propose is or is not a fair one. From the parents point of view, I can hardly imagine any question about it, Surely, compared with the present system, under which, as the right hon. Gentleman explained, a Roman Catholic child may be compelled to go to a Church of England school, or a Church of England or a Nonconformist child to a Roman Catholic school—surely you cannot say that, in a system like that, whether or not you have the conscience clause, you have the same guarantee against proselytism or for respecting the religious convictions of the parents themselves, as you will have under the present Bill, when parents of every 897 denomination who can show a reasonable demand for it, that is to say, a reasonable number of children to take advantage of it (and the judge of the reasonableness of the demand will be an independent and impartial authority, who will judge from the demands and the wishes of the parents, not from the views of managers), will be able to build their own school, and from this point onwards be relieved of the whole cost of maintenance.
Then there is the point of view of the taxpayer. Does he get sufficient security? The hon. Member for North Camberwell talks of our raising a storm of controversy because, for the first time, we are asking the ratepayers to subscribe to religious education. We are doing nothing of the kind. We are no more asking the ratepayer under this Hill to subscribe and pay for religious education, than under the present system we are asking that the taxpayer shall pay for and support religious education in voluntary schools. The two eases stand on precisely the same ground. There is no more justification for this assertion in the one case than in the other. The money will be spent only on increasing the efficiency of education, and only on the secular side of education.
It may be said, and I think justly, that to give this local authority the right of only one-third of the representation on the managing Committees of these schools, which are supported out of public rates, is not to give them any effective control over the expenditure or policy. [Opposition cheers.] I thought I should hear those cheers. I quite admit it. I do not think it gives them any control at all, and I really do not see why the provision was put in. It is absolutely unnecessary. The local authority, as it is, will get a far greater hold of the schools and a far more absolute control, than any minority or even majority representation could give it by the mere power of the purse-strings—the fact that it can absolutely refuse, subject, of course, to an appeal to the Department to give a single shilling of public aid to a voluntary school which does not submit to its own ideas, of what is necessary for efficiency. No; if there is any ground of complaint, the 898 complaint ought to come not from the ratepayers, but rather from the voluntary schools. I do not complain, and I think the voluntary schools will be very well advised to accept it. I have no such fear about admitting the representation of the local authorities, for I do not believe the most of them share the tendency exhibited by some hon. Members to ride rough-shod over other people's religious prejudices and convictions. But if we are to examine the mere question of grievance, the taxpayer, at all events, gets the same security as he does now, and the ratepayer not only gets the same security as the taxpayer does now but he gets a double security, because he gets the control of the Treasury and the control of the County Council. What happens to the voluntary schools? Every school, whether it, accepts this rate-aid or not, whether it wishes to come under the scheme of the Bill or not—because there is no option given to the voluntary schools; the option is only given to the local authority—but whatever the voluntary school wishes or does not wish, it is bound to accept on its Managing Committee representatives of the local authority which has not built the school, and it is dependent on the good will of that local authority for every shilling of its money, not only of the rates, out also of the taxes, which hitherto it has received from the Treasury, without any interference from another body.
Well, Sir, I have dealt with the main outlines of the Bill, and have tried, so far as I am able, to pronounce my blessing on it but I should like to say one or two words, not by way of cursing, but by way of mild criticism, rather on what the Bill has left, undone than what it has done. Within the county area everybody will have to bear a fair share of the burden of national expenditure; that is quite true, but it is not true as between county and county. As between county and county the rate will vary enormously, according to the number of children to be educated, the amount of endowments available, and the ratable value and assessment. In other words, the burden of education will remain a local instead of a national burden—the 899 individual taxpayer will not be taxed according to his ability to pay. But what is more serious from the educational point of view is that the efficiency of the schools in the various counties of England will still depend on the poverty or wealth of the particular neighbourhood in which they happen to be situated. I think, though the grievance which now exists will not be intensified, it will be rendered more apparent by the operation of this Bill, because in one county that is bearing a heavy burden of rates the schools may be less efficient than those in the neighbouring county which is bearing a lesser burden of the rates. That is a situation that the Government sooner or later will have to deal with.
Now I want to say one word in conclusion with regard to the effect of this scheme on the general efficiency of the national scheme of education. I think this efficiency will depend partly on economy, partly on unity of aim in the administration. I very much doubt whether this Bill does provide—perhaps no Bill of this kind can provide—an adequate safeguard in this respect. As regards the needs of its own area, considered by itself, I daresay the county authority can be trusted not to spend money extravagantly, but as between county and county there is no such safeguard, because in every county you will have a great outburst of local patriotism. Every county will want to have its own System as perfect as possible without regard to the systems of the neighbouring counties, and, instead of having one great national ladder leading from the proverbial gutter to the proverbial university, you will have a number of stunted ladders leading only to the lower storeys. The other danger is that the thirst for popularity may tempt some of these county authorities, if they can do it, to spend the additional funds at their disposal not in giving a real, good, sound education to the minority of the children who are really worth it and can profit by it, but in providing free of charge a cheap, shoddy, and useless form of education for every child in the country. If that is done, it will be a disaster to national education.
§ (7.20.) MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
I am not so sure as the noble Lord who has just spoken in so interesting a fashion that the religious controversy will be wholly allayed by the Bill, but in this I agree with him, that it is deeply to be desired that it should be minimised, and as far as possible obliterated. What we want above all is efficiency in our education and the raising of the standard. If that end were attained I think a great deal of the controversy which ranges round national education would be got rid of. While the new authority is to have control of the purse, it is by no means clear to what extent it will be able to exercise its control in an efficient fashion over all schools. The denominational schools will have managers, and of these only one-third will be appointed from outside. It is quite obvious that the managers will be important persons, and the local body will not be able to exercise that minute control and supervision which is requisite to ensure a high standard of efficiency. I agree that if the level of the school is raised to what it ought to be, we should get rid of nearly three-fourths of the controversy, I have never been an objector to this denominational education. I would rather see education more secular than it is in this country, but I am aware of the temperament of the people, and that being so we must deal with things as we find them. I am not sure whether the control over the training of the teachers without other arrangements for the provision of a sufficient standard among the teachers will prove adequate to satisfy the ends we all have in view. However that may be, while opinion on some points must be reserved until we have seen the text of the Bill, there is one thing on which the First Lord of the Treasury may congratulate himself, and that is on the way in which his scheme as a whole has been received.
Without going into the details of the scheme, which we cannot consider until we have seen the Bill, two things are obvious. The right hon. Gentleman has interested the House very much by the proposals he has put forward, and he has made us all feel that his proposals have two new elements in them. In the first place they are largo proposals; it is a large scheme. In the second place, it is 901 a scheme showing earnestness in the endeavour to co-ordinate the whole of our education in a fashion of which hitherto we have had no example in this country. The right hon. Gentleman has laid stress on the absolute necessity of co-ordinating the whole of the education of the country, the primary, secondary and tertiary, which is the only course to adopt if we are to get anything like a complete system. Then the right hon. Gentleman has taken a wise course in trying to make use of the Local Government institutions of this country. I agree that the last thing to be desired is to try and imitate foreign countries, but by all means learn from foreign countries. I agree that it is advisable to take the Local Government machinery, and, so far as possible, to provide for the institution of a new body, ad hoc.
The right hon. Gentleman, I was glad to see, has introduced the Universities into the scheme. To my mind that is of great importance. From America and Germany we may learn how to take the best brains of the country and permeate the country with them. The University is the dominant feature of the education of those countries. They work downwards. We have never sought to connect our parts of education, but have left a position of dry isolation between them. I do not wholly appreciate the extent to which the permeating influence of the Universities is to come in. If I understand the scheme aright, the permeating influence of the Universities is to come in among the nominated members to the new local Committees.
§ MR. HALDANE
That, doubtless, is the only way the Universities could be got under this Bill, although I almost think we are ripe for something more than that. It is important that these authorities for secondary as well as primary education should be animated by some common policy. If it were possible to divide the whole country into educational districts, making use of such University provision as exists as the centres of each district, the permeation of the secondary and primary education with the University influence would be 902 advanced. As it is, the scheme is enormous, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot cover the whole field of education, but I am not sure that the Bill will to any great extent carry out the end of making the University element in a large measure permeate our system of education.
Undoubtedly, it is a great step forward that at last there is a chance of new views on the controlling authority. We are all aware of the deficiencies of the small school. We are all agreed on both sides that the time has come for the supersession of the small School Board. What we insist upon is that the authority which takes the place of the small School Board, should be an authority as popular and as much in the interests of the community as a whole. It may be that these local Committees, which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to substitute for the existing bodies, are the bodies most fitted to do the work. I notice in the course of the discussion which has taken place upon this Bill that the criticism has fastened upon one point. The right hon. Gentleman has made his scheme permissive so far as regards the adoption of the elementary part of the machinery which he proposes to establish, and that proposal has been assailed with rather fierce criticism from both sides of the House. The hon. Member for Cambridge University, in a very eloquent speech, criticised this matter, and it was also attacked by the hon. Member for North Camberwell. I feel a good deal of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman upon this point. I do not say that I am sure he is right, but I think I see a great difficulty which he had to avoid in attempting to steer clear of these objections. In the great towns of the North of England the School Boards are very valuable bodies, where generations of experts have grown up and been trained. This permissive plan will enable these towns to be saved. It may be said that permission is given not to the School Boards, but to the local authority. But the local authority will be amenable to public opinion in matters of that kind. If, by means of this permissive system, the change in those great northern boroughs like Leeds, where the School Board work has been magnificent, can 903 be made a gradual one, and the harshness of the new machinery in that way avoided, I feel that some good will be done. This may be possible, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be very willing to listen to suggestions for modifying this proposal. It may be possible that some means may be found by which the option of not extinguishing these bodies may be given for the places where this is needed. I agree with many hon. Members who have insisted that in the rural districts it is highly expedient that you should put a premium on the people who have an interest in not voting for the adoption of this new system in order to save them from the liability of contributing to the new rates. We can best discuss that at a later stage, and I refer to it now, only because I thought I saw the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has been wisely attempting to avoid in making the permissive exception.
There have been two or three matters brought up which I think are of great importance, but there are others to which the same amount of attention has not been drawn. We are dealing here, of course, with the machinery of the Bill, and I hope the House will realise that valuable as the machinery is it is only half the problem of education. The right hon. Gentleman, in taking the local government institutions which are developed in this country to a much higher extent than abroad, is only following the wisest one he could adopt. These local bodies have had great business of those who are interested in local affairs. They are not instructive bodies, and this Bill does not lay down any national policy for these bodies. One feels that if national education is to be made efficient there must be some means of bringing to bear upon these bodies at least, some inducement to adopt something like a common policy of education. Allusion has been made to the great commercial problem which is an important element which we cannot afford to make less. On the other hand we ought not to lower our standards of culture, and for that purpose it is necessary that we should do what has been done 904 successfully abroad, and that is we should co-ordinate the three systems of education, the tertiary, the secondary, and the primary, and also provide on the other hand for the double aim of culture on one side and the application of knowledge to industries on the other. That has been successfully done in Germany. There, in the primary schools, all subjects are pursued together, but when you get to secondary education you either go into the Gymnasien, or you go into schools where there is no Latin taught, and lay yourself out for ending your career in a tertiary institution. We have no provision for the double aim in this country, or for the co-ordination of the two classes. I am glad to see that in the most modern University which is associated so much with the name of the right hon. Baronet opposite—the University of Birmingham—one of the great features they have taken in hand there is the training of teachers with a view to the application of knowledge to industry in this fashion, and no doubt in the more modern places it will be possible to do something to inculcate this principle.
Where this scheme is defective is, that it makes no provision for bodies like the University of Birmingham coming in and giving the necessary guidance and stimulus for making provision for the two local government institutions which are kinds of education. That will come by developed in this country to a much higher extent than abroad, is only following the course which is undoubtedly the wisest one he could adopt. These local bodies have had great business training, and this is the proud possession of those who are interested in local affairs. They are not instructive bodies, and this Bill does not lay down any national policy for these bodies. One feels that if national education is to be made efficient there must be some means of bringing to bear upon these bodies at least, some inducement to adopt something like a common policy of education. Allusion has been made to the great commercial problem which is ahead of us, and at all events this is an important element which we cannot afford to make less. On, the other hand we ought not to lower our standards of culture, and for that purpose it is necessary that we should do what has been done degrees, no doubt, but I cannot help feeling that there is a little lopsidedness about the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman in so far as he takes the local government authority untrained and not like the old School Boards, and without any superior authority in the district to which, they can look for light and guidance. To some extent the right hon. Gentleman hopes to remedy that by nominated Members. Much will depend upon the class of people you can get, and to that we must look as the only means of filling the gap to which I have alluded. The scheme, as a whole, certainly is a great advance upon anything we have had up to this time in educational development. Whatever criticism this Bill becomes subject to, this, at least, is to be said of it, that it marks a step up, and the recognition by this House of the fact that we have got to a stage when the problem of education is no longer a problem of 905 primary education or the dealing with secondary education in the fragmentary fashion which we have been familiar with up to this time. We have now come to realise that we must take this step forward if our efficiency as a nation is to be maintained. Whatever it may turn out in detail the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman has this feature upon it that it recognises the necessity of co-ordinating education from top to bottom, and puts before the country a practical proposal towards that end. When we are in a position to discuss its details we shall be able to judge how far that object is attained by this Bill, but speaking for myself I say there is enough in the scheme to make me feel well disposed towards it, and I am glad that such a step has been taken towards an end which is of great national importance.
§ (7.42.) SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
It is difficult and not very useful to attempt to criticise in detail the provisions of a large, far-reaching, and complicated measure, without seeing it in print. And for the same reason it may be rash to express general approval or disapproval without reservation. But it may not be improper to point out those features of the measure which strike me as being of special value, and others about which I confess that I entertain some doubts which I hope may be dispelled. The Bill carries this great merit with it so far as we have heard the discussion, that hardly anyone has spoken of the Bill otherwise than as a great attempt at co-ordinating elementary and higher education, and also an attempt to bring technical and secondary education together, so that the technical education so admirably given by the municipal authorities shall be brought within the humauising influences of genuine secondary education. The Bill also makes an attempt, so far as I can see, to meet the great religious difficulty which has so long haunted our system of elementary education.
Let me mention the points which, I think, are of importance. The Bill is full of options. The Urban District Councils and Municipal Boroughs are to have the option of taking over elementary education. If they avail themselves of this, well and good, but if 906 not, what becomes of the authority? If the county authority does not take over elementary education, and the urban authority refuses to take it over, then the whole scheme of co-ordination falls to the ground, and the great object of the Bill will be frustrated. If the urban authorities consen to take it over, well and good, and if the county authority docs it, well and good, but if neither takes it over, the whole thing is gone. I may say that if the urban authorities do take it over, I do not share the anxiety which is expressed on behalf of the great School Boards. I do not wish for a moment to depreciate the work the School Boards have done; but those who lament their disappearance seem to suppose that, with the Boards, all those who had composed them, with all their experience, would pass out of existence. As I understand the scheme, the School Boards will reappear in another form. The persons who have served on them will be either the Educational Committees of the Urban Councils, or they will be employed in one way or another to give the municipalities the benefit of their experience. I cannot, therefore, think that the great anxiety expressed so freely on the opposite side of the House is justified by any of the features of the Bill. But, to eturn to the optional character of the scheme as regards elementary education. Are the County Councils to spend the next year or so, not in doing their proper business of attending to roads and bridges and the like, but in considering whether they will or will not avail themselves of the option? Are County Council elections to turn on the adoption of the Bill? I think that would be unfortunate. But this is not a matter that should be left to the choice of the County Councils. There are two topics of the gravest and most far-reaching character involved in this decision. There is, first of all, the question whether the voluntary schools are or are not to be aided out of the rates, subject, of course, to proper control. We have heard of the amount which would be involved in this supersession. It is said that to provide the school accommodation now provided by the voluntary schools would cost the country £25,000,000. Then 907 there is the great scheme which is the main feature of the Bill—the co-ordination of the different branches of our education. It ought not to be left to a County Council, however able, efficient, earnest, or energetic, to decide these questions. They are matters which the Government and Parliament should settle once and for all. And they may be settled the more readily because I believe that the local authorities will undertake, willingly and loyally, the work which is given to them to do, though they may not be willing to undertake work in which they are given an option to take it or refuse it. I would not give the option, for I am sure I hat they can undertake the work, and that they would do it well. That is a matter of great anxiety, which has been expressed by every speaker, as regards the value of this Bill to the country if it is passed in its present form.
There is another point, as to which I hope that when I see the Bill I shall be a little more satisfied. I mean the question of religious education. I desire to insist strenuously that by religious teaching I do not mean clerical control. Whether the clerical control of the Anglican priest or that of the Nonconformist minister, I do not wish to see it exercised in our elementary schools. But I do feel that religious teaching is a matter of the gravest importance to the country, not only because of its effect on character—a subject too large to be dealt with now—but on the ground of justice to the parents. On the question of the effect of religious teaching on the character I will not touch. Much may be said for it, and much may be said on the other side. It is a very great question, and one which I would rather leave alone at present, but it appears to me that if the State takes a child from the parent during his best waking hours, and takes over education to be administered by itself, the parent may justly demand that during some portion of that time the child should receive the religious teaching which the parent desires, in order to bring him up in the religious faith of the parent. I understand the scheme of the Bill is that every child will get the religious teaching the parent desires if there are enough parents to justify the building of a school. The 908 school will then be built at the expense of those parents who desire it, and it will be maintained at the expense of the ratepayers generally. That does not seem to me to meet the case of the individual, though it may meet the case of a group. It is not every child who will get the religious teaching that the parent would wish. It is only those whose parents are numerous enough and wealthy enough to build a school to whom it can be given. That does not seem to me to be a wholly satisfactory solution of the religious difficulty. I am not prepared myself to propound a better scheme, but it should be borne in mind that this is not a final solution, though it is an improvement on the present condition of things in respect of denominational teaching.
As regards the control of denominational schools, I cannot help thinking, as has been said by one of the speakers on this side of the House, that the one-third representation of the local authority on the board of management is not nearly so efficient, if indeed it has any effect at all, as the control which the local authority possesses over the purse. If a school is an inefficient school, then, denominational or not, the local authority will cease to support it; if it is an efficient school, then, denominational or not there is no reason why it should be closed: The whole future of the school will depend on its efficiency, and that is the proper test as to continuing it or not.
There is one small point on which I desire to say a few words. I daresay when the Bill is in print I shall be able to see whether I approve of what is proposed or not. The new local authority for secondary education will inevitably, if it is energetic and ambitious, start schools of its own. There was an admirable sentiment—hardly, I thought, suited to the text of an Act of Parliament—in the Bill of 1896, that the new authority should be not to supplant but to supplement the existing educational needs. I think there may be difficulties where old-established schools find themselves exposed to the rivalry of the new Municipal or County Council school; and I think there ought to be some means of bringing such cases before the Board of Education, not so as to overburden the Board with an appellate jurisdiction, which is 909 not to be desired, but so as to ensure that, there is not unfair competition, and that old schools are not ill-treated and run down by the new local education authority. The right of appeal existed in the Bill of 189G, and it did not appear in the Bill of last year. It is a matter which I think deserves the consideration of the Government.
I hope that such faults as have been found in the Bill may either be removed during its passage through the House, or that they may prove to be less when we see the Bill than we conceive them to be from the description given to us. For my part, I congratulate the Government on having dealt with a great subject in a bold and comprehensive manner.
§ (7.55.) MR. COMPTON RICKETT (Scarborough)
I am sorry that I cannot join in the chorus of congratulation with which the Bill has been saluted, to some extent, from both sides of the House. Some of us had hoped to find a Bill which would have provided a national system of education, one which would have delivered education from the blight of the religious difficulty, which really is the crux of the whole position, and which has caused Bill after Bill to be brought forward only to be abandoned. Instead of finding a reconciliation of this difficulty in withdrawing as far as possible religious controversies from the range of education, we are invited to increase the difficulty and to render those sectional differences more acute and more minute by establishing as many schools as we like, drawing upon the public funds for the purpose of maintaining them. Such a waste of power seems to be deplorable on public grounds. Where there are thirty children or more whose parents require a school there will certainly be established more schools than are necessary. [An HON. MEMBER: No.] If in some parishes where there is one large school sufficient for all the children, and there is a large number of Nonconformists desiring a separate school, it can be shown that a considerable number desire a separate school, the education authority will be willing to entertain the claim. If that were not so, then the permission to establish other schools seems rather a visionary provision. If other schools are established there must be a great deal of competition for the 910 children. It must be remembered that the great desire shown to maintain the voluntary Church schools has a real fact at the back of it. It is not a mere difference of opinion; not that certain principles which are common to us all are expressed in a different way. It is considered by the Church of England a priceless advantage to control the education of the children of this country, and she has been willing to make personal sacrifice in order to effect that result. She admits that the denominational school secures advantages and an influence on the future of this country so considerable that any sacrifice is endurable for the maintenance of these schools.
I cannot think that the division of children into competing camps is desirable. It is bad enough that we cannot agree on one common form of religion for the school. We are far from that. To carry that schism into the school life of the children, to create divisions earlier than those differences need arise, to label them with denominational names, to specialise their religion in childhood is most undesirable and also most deplorable. There is fortunately no Nonconformity in mathematics or in astronomy, and there is no difference in the secular teaching of the Free Church school compared with the Church of England school. But for the sake of the religious lesson we are encouraged and invited to establish these Nonconformist schools. That will be the outcome of the scheme we are now asked to adopt, with an accentuation, rather than a diminution, of religious differences. The money to be voted from the rates to fill the gap in the Church schools may be necessary to secure their efficiency; and I believe that until a better and more uniform system can be devised the Free Churchmen of this country would be prepared to see such an application of the rates, provided those schools were managed by the representatives of the people, leaving, of course, religious education in the hands of the clerical management. Is the proportion of management now offered at all sufficient? It has been already described by hon. Members opposite as being merely the shadow of control, while giving no real control at all. It is not, however, simply a question 911 of the one hour for religious education. The Church school is saturated—I do not say it by way of offence—with Church influence. It is filled with the atmosphere of the Church of England, and the relations existing between those who attend it and the neighbouring church will continue to be, as they always have been, very close indeed. It is not enough to tell the Nonconformist parent that there is a conscience clause, and that he can withdraw his child. To withdraw a child is to put, most undeservedly, a stigma upon him. There are many parents also who demand religious education for their children, and to obtain this will send their children to schools where creeds which they do not hold are taught. The alternative put forward is the establishment of other schools throughout the length and breadth of the country for the children of Free Churchmen, who are about equal in number to the Anglicans. This moiety is called upon at a moment's notice to build new schools at great expense throughout the country, in order to protect their children from alien creeds taught with public money.
But there is something in a public and wider sense still more undesirable. That is the authority established for the purpose of co-ordinating the different classes of education, and of dispensing the rates and the money allotted by the Treasury. We have been told tonight that there are no religious controversies in Municipal Councils. No, because there are no religious questions introduced into them. You are going to introduce into these councils religious questions, and you are asking Municipal and County Councils to undertake work they have never done, in addition to duties already large and growing. No one can suppose that in the future the powers of Councils will be contracted. On the contrary, they will be largely extended. The tendency and the spirit of the age are in favour of municipal socialism. In addition to all the work which now devolves on them, these Municipal and Communal Councils are expected to take the complicated question of education into their hands. It is true they have the power of calling in the assistance of outsiders, but finding their hands full of the proper 912 duties of their position, will there not be a strong temptation to hand over the work of education to the co-opted members, leaving the supervision of the schools in the hands of men not responsible to, and not elected by, the people at large? I think I am speaking the opinion of the greater number of Free Churchmen of this country when I say that they would be willing, for the present, to assent to a measure of support of the voluntary schools from the rates, provided the management of those schools was representative of the ratepayers. On the other hand, they would be willing to support a body elected for the purpose, which would deal with the different stages of education, and which would maintain, until some uniform system could be devised, the elementary schools on their present lines. I do not think it an objection that technical education would be left in the hands of the municipal and communal authorities. An Act of Parliament could easily transfer it to the new authority. But supposing it did not? The people of this country are more concerned with the liberal side than the technical side. We hear a great deal about the great value of technical education. May I suggest, although it is not a popular opinion, that we are overrating it? During the last fifty years our commercial superiority has not been due to the technical knowledge of our workers. Great discoveries have not been the work of men trained in technical schools. They have been frequently the discoveries of the working man. The ordinary workman has to do a particular piece of work over and over again. The foreman is the co-ordinating overseer, and the people on whom the industrial future of this country will largely depend are the masters and chiefs of industry, who must introduce the new methods. Of course, if a man has to learn a complicated trade like electricity he would attend a technical school; but I see no reason why these technical schools should not be under municipal and communal control, quite apart from the general lines of education. The scholar can go straight through the liberal grades of education, from the elementary to the higher, without entering the technical school. He abandons the goal of the 913 University if he seeks a trade through the technical workshop. It is quite impossible to speak of the details of this Bill from memory. The tendency of the; measure appears to be the abolition of the School Boards and the multiplication of denominational schools throughout the country. Speaking for myself, I believe, by a process of exhaustion, we shall ultimately have to adopt a simple and uniform system of State education. The duty of the State is to leave the religious question to the denominational teachers, who can be trusted to deal with their own children for the religious lesson. This is all that the Churches of this country can reasonably request from the State. (8.10.)
§ *(8.50.) SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
The present Bill has two good things to recommend it: in the first place, it has been introduced by not only a most able, but also a most conciliatory speech on the part of the First Lord of the Treasury; and in the next place, the whole debate has shown, instead of a too frequent sectarian and dogmatic tendency, that educational spirit which is essential to the solution of this, the most important of all questions. Of course, one speaks at this stage in much ignorance of what the Bill actually contains, and with a great deal of reserve; but I think it may at any rate be said that the measure promises some very important organic and administrative educational reforms. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the more truly secondary education which it would provide in the place of that which has hitherto been given in connection with our elementary education through the higher grade schools. I hope his remarks in regard to that matter will be carried out by the Bill. There is perhaps some criticism for which there is ground in relation to the nature of the secondary instruction given at the schools referred to; but, on the other hand, I am quite certain the country will always be under a great obligation to the School Boards for having, when no other adequate provision was made for it, given to a large number of scholars in the country that higher instruction at the higher grade schools. Those schools, in my opinion, have fulfilled a very useful object, and whether 914 the new secondary schools will do the same remains, to some extent, dependent on the actual amount of co-ordination which is effected under the Bill. The great advantage of higher grade schools has been that they have enabled scholars under the immediate influence of the teachers of the elementary schools to be drafted into the higher grade schools, and whatever may be said of those schools, they have, over this bridge, very often carried a little further than can be carried at the elementary schools, which children have to leave at so early an age, the education already gained, and they have thus been economical in saving for the country that education which otherwise might, to a large extent, have been wasted. I know that those schools have been highly valued by parents, and they have given, generally speaking, a really good education, not as an avenue to anything more educationally, but rather as the terminus of the elementary education, and one which I think has been highly beneficial. They have been, not a terminus a quo, but a terminus ad quem, and generally a very good and useful terminus.
Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman stated that the Bill would facilitate that general secondary education which is essential to technical instruction. No one knows better than we in Yorkshire how great has been the difficulty in our technical schools of giving the full value of the costly instruction there provided owing to the want of more general education. In fact, many of those schools have been occupied in giving really primary, and much more frequently, general secondary instruction, instead of the students having come there prepared to avail themselves at once and completely of the technical instruction for which the schools have been especially intended.
The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of the educational co-ordination which would be effected by the Bill. That is a most important matter. There will be, I hope, an inclined plane open to every scholar of capacity from the elementary schools to the Universities and to the very highest professional, technical, and commercial instruction. One knows of many instances in which the poorest and humblest scholars have taken 915 the highest distinctions even at the University, both from our elementary and from our technical schools. I hope, however—and I agree with the criticism of the hon. Member for Scarborough on that point—that this equality of opportunity which we desire will be tempered by selection, that it will be based on relative capacity. I agree also with the hon. Member that the great want of our country at the present time is first, general education up to a certain and a high point, but especially specialised education, which fits our people to compete with other countries which have given such vast advantages to what I may call their captains of industry. Industrial works in Germany and America are frequently filled with the most highly trained men as managers and heads of departments; there are works having the services of twenty or thirty and more doctors of science, to whom they liberally, wisely, and economically give an interest in the inventions made during the industrial processes. That is a point at which we ought to aim more than we have done.
In one special respect I think there is room for considerable improvement in our system. The Education Department has apparently set itself too strenuously against what is not fully understood, but is very necessary, viz., more commercial instruction. They have refused to give grants for commercial subjects as compared with technical and scientific subjects. I hope that, in the new arrangement, as we have provided liberally for that which I may call the productive side of industry, the making of goods, we shall pay equal attention to the distributive side of commerce, which takes those goods by many means and various ways, involving technical knowledge, for distribution in the markets throughout the length and breadth of the world, in which we have to compete with other nations.
One of the best features in the Bill referred to by the right hon. Gentleman is in regard to the advantages which in future ought to be given to our teachers. In that respect I think we have been guilty of most culpable neglect. It is all very well to condemn our pupil teachers; we have had to make the best of them, and the lack of trained teachers 916 has been one of the most unsatisfactory parts of our educational system. I could not help remembering during the right hon. Gentleman's speech that at this moment in London there is an attempted surcharge of the London School Board for having just erected a school purposely for the training of pupil teachers—a school at the opening of which I was present, which is excellent and admirable in all respects, and which is, at any rate, one move in the direction which apparently all of us desire. In the interests of education in this country I hope that attempt will be unsuccessful. In fact, if our School Boards had not done something which perhaps, in strict legality they ought not to have done, if they had not given us continuation schools, with all their advantages—though they may have some comparative disadvantages—if they had not given us our higher grade schools, if they had not given us some of these training schools, I think our position would have been worse even than it is, and in saying that I am sorry to declare I am saying a very great deal The fact is that in this country we have neglected this training and treatment of our teachers. We have not always been too careful to remunerate the teacher properly in accordance with the responsible duties which he has to perform, and with regard to the tenure of his office we have not taken those steps which are in justice absolutely necessary. The German maxim is: "As the teacher, so the school"; and to make our education great we must make our educators great.
But, whilst these are administrative points of much importance, the great question of this Bill is, after all, the constitution of the administrative authority. That machinery will be a powerful factor, if not the most powerful factor, in the education of the future. But machinery demands men to work it, and and our main object should be to attract the best and ablest men to the service of the State in this most important function. As to the constitution of the authority, I am glad to notice more advancement than on the occasion of previous debates, for there has been a general recognition that the municipal authority is, on the whole, the best body to deal with these questions, and I know of no greater anomaly than the 917 present one in which the spending authority is able to levy an absolute precept upon the rating authority into which no possible inquiry can be made; and certainly one great improvement will be that the responsibility of both levying and spending will be vested in one and the same authority. The authority will, of course, be responsible to the electors both for the levies it makes, and for the demands it calls upon them to respond to, and also for the wise, prudent, and economic administration of the funds.
Fortunately in these matters we have not merely precedents, but we have a considerable amount of experience to guide us; and whatever may have been said about the virtues of educational experts, I think they have been chiefly responsible for the condition in which English education finds itself today. I think we are all agreed that there has been too much of the University don, who said "We know nothing of science here, we do not even teach it." While, of course, the presence of these experts on municipal bodies will be welcome, personally I should have been in favour of their going through, like other people, the turmoil of the municipal contest. Why should we have to go into the highways and byways to seek gentlemen to take part in what ought to be felt to be a most important duty? I can assure them that elections would be an education to themselves, and our councils, excellent as they are, will be improved if they are leavened by the presence of more men of education upon them. Personally, while in favour of attaching them by some means, I should very much prefer that they should, like the rest of us, go into the arena of a contest upon their own merits and give the council the general advantage of their talents and so take their proper place as to education in this way. But while I should value such expert assistance, I have more implicit faith in the practical common sense of municipal administrators, and I believe they are quite equal to the solution of the educational problems which will be submitted to them. My hon. friend the Member for Scarborough, thought they might be overworked and might not have the necessary experience; but I would remind him that they have performed educational 918 duties already under most difficult circumstances, and performed them most ably and successfully. The whisky moneys were thrown at them one night here because the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day did not know what else to do with them, and they were told to distil wisdom out of whisky, genius out of gin, and capacity for business out of beer. Though there may have been mistakes—and no wonder that there have been mistakes under such conditions—I believe that those moneys have been generally well administered, and, at any rate, the municipalities, unlike the counties, have rated themselves in aid of this Educational fund, which was thrown at them by Parliament. It has also been said that the indirect mode of election, or rather the indirect character of the authority, would be an objection, but the answer is that it has answered well in the past. It has also answered well as the avenue of that expert assistance to which reference has so frequently been made, the permissive and voluntary addition of which shall be maintained.
There is one point upon which I am glad to feel assured, and I am particularly glad that not a word has been said to the contrary, as was the case on the last occasion when this subject was discussed. The point I allude to is the fear that the municipalities would be less enterprising and more parsimonious than School Boards in relation to their expenditure upon education. I do not believe that for a moment, though I believe they will be more businesslike. All our recent history and our local patriotism, both in the past and in the present, point to an entirely-opposite conclusion, and I may say that when these subjects have been discussed by the representatives of the municipalities, there has been but one unanimous opinion, which was represented, but which has not been fulfilled in this Bill, namely, that there ought not to be a limit to the rate. I do not think that, considering the variety of circumstances and conditions, for dealing with which local government exists, and for which local knowledge and judgment is the only sure method of solution, I do not see myself why that limit should take place. The rate may be raised, but an Education rate is our most economic rate, if well and carefully administered, and those 919 who think that in parting from the School Boards they obtain a more parsimonious Educational body in Town Councils will learn their mistake. In my opinion parsimony is not economy, and I will take one case. Take as an example Huddersfield, where the Corporation has taken over the technical schools, and where a rate of 1d. or 2d. in the pound for this purpose is considered quite inadequate. Adequate funds for this purpose, in the interest of the country, should be forthcoming.
One of my hon. friends said there would be a tendency on the part of municipalities to incur enormous debts. Surely municipalities know their own local business better than we can teach it to them. Why do we hear so much of debts and so little of assets, even when the debts are represented by reproductive works? The ability of the community, through education, makes it at once more progressive and prudent, as it ought to be. Therefore education is the best asset you could possibly have. I hope we shall not be deterred by arguments of that character. Every debt thus becomes an asset, and neglect is our greatest danger.
I ventured to rise reluctantly during the course of the right hon. Gentleman's speech because there was one point on which at the moment I was in some doubt, and it is a very essential point. I allude to the exact constitution of the Municipal Committee, upon which the right hon. Gentleman was not quite clear or explicit. I understand that, as in the former Bills, the Municipal Council will have a majority on the Committee, but only a majority of one, instead of, as in previous Bills, one or more, as is now the case. But we have not been told whether this provision, as it was in the last Bill but two, where the right to have experts, as it is now under existing legislation, is optional, or whether, as in the last Bill, it is mandatory. I think of the two, optional would be best. On that point I prefer that it should not be mandatory, because I think optional would be amply sufficient, and it has answered well.
With reference to the Municipal Committee, the right hon. Gentleman used two terms which differ in their signification, and one of them was that a 920 certain number of members would be nominated. "Nominated" would lead one to the inference that they might be nominated by outside bodies—the university for the district, for instance—for membership of the Committee. On the other hand, he used another term afterwards, which is more in accord with what has been the provision of the previous Bills, and what I hope will be the case, namely, co-option from within the Municipal Committee. I take it that in this there has been no change from the Bill of last year, although the right hon. Gentleman did not say what was to be done. Therefore I still assume that the method of election will be by co-option. From a municipal point of view there is a very great distinction. It is very different to have nominated members from external bodies, and giving the municipality a majority and the right to select others. I can only repeat the hope that in the interests of administration the co-optional principle will be adhered to. Upon that point we should be glad of implicit information.
Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman was not quite clear upon the status of non-county boroughs. In dealing with these boroughs we are dealing with many which have done the very best educational work. Take such a place as Keighley. I know of no better educational work than that which has been done there. To stem or to submerge such would be an educational crime. The limit of 50,000 population for a non-county borough is a purely arbitrary one. Under the Act of 1889 five or six cities were at first retained, but the line was ultimately drawn at 50,000 people—a mistake, I think. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that, in relation to primary education, boroughs of 10,000 and Urban Councils of 20,000 shall have the right to educational autonomy. Of course, no one would dream of putting primary instruction, which has hitherto been limited to less areas than is proposed, under the jurisdiction of the county. How can it be possible to deal with primary instruction in such a very small area from such a distance? Then I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that with regard to the non-county boroughs the jurisdiction of the county, 921 on the one hand, and of the borough itself on the other, would be joint and concurrent. We know that the boroughs—and non-county boroughs have at present the right—do raise money, and do in a large measure rate themselves to provide for a large amount of very good secondary and technical education. But I can conceive nothing more confusing and nothing more disadvantageous than the joint action of the county within the borough limits unless they submit themselves for this purpose willingly. What I have strongly to suggest to the Government is that they should not destroy anything in their new machinery. Their object should be rather to preserve and to expand all those centres of educational action, of which there have been too few; and if there are non-county boroughs like Keighley, doing the very best work, I at least ask that they should be preserved, and that we should allow the Education Department, upon the application of such a body, if it shows it has the means and the will to do its own educational work satisfactorily, to at any rate retain its autonomy, and direct its own affairs, and not be submerged in the county, which would be both resisted and resented. I hope there will be provisions for combination, for joint action upon the part of both counties and adjoining boroughs, for this would preserve all that is best and would destroy nothing, thus giving the best security for future educational advancement.
I have only one word to say about the question which has been so much debated, and that is the question of local authorities coming under this Act, if it passes, optionally or refusing to do so. I know that there are among the boroughs differences of opinion as to accepting primary education. I believe a very considerable majority desire, and are prepared, to undertake the duties. On the other hand, there are some which hold a different view, and the provision proposed would meet the case of individual differences of opinion. I am also quite sure that such a system would deter non-county boroughs from undertaking the duty if they were in any way placed under the direction of the County Councils. These are all questions which will have to be much more 922 fully discussed. The Bill as presented, I think, treats, generally from a very fair standpoint, problems which not only demand to be solved, but with respect to which both sides of the House show a disposition that they should be solved on the best educational lines. I hope that when we know the full details of the measure we will be able to come to the conclusion that at last we are able to add to the Statute-book an Act conferring similar educational advantages to those already possessed by the countries that are competing against us in the markets of the world.
§ *(9.20.) MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
I begin by congratulating the First Lord of the Treasury on the very able speech which he made in introducing the Bill. In the early part of the speech he referred to the difficulties which surround the subject, and to the aims which educational reformers have in view. I should like especially to express my satisfaction that the Government propose to deal with the important subject of the training of teachers. The present condition of teachers' training is little short of scandalous. The figures which were given by the hon. Member for Camberwell showed that no less than half of the teachers in the elementary schools had received no training. The figures showing the small proportion in many of the schools in London of certificated as compared with non-certificated teachers show how greatly reform is needed. The First Lord dealt at some length with pupil teachers and pupil teacher centres. I do not know how far I should be right in dealing with that, but I suppose some provision is made in the Bill in connection with training colleges; and I should only like to say that, while I recognise the admirable work done by pupil teacher centres, I rather doubt the policy of their establishment. I think it would be far better if the training of the pupil teachers could be given in secondary schools, while at the same time they serve an apprenticeship in doing teaching work in elementary schools. It appears to me that one of the great disadvantages under which primary teachers labour under our system is their complete segregation from the general current of education. A pupil teacher starts in an elementary school. In far too many 923 cases he stays there his whole time. Some, it is true, go to a pupil teachers' centre, and some again of these go to a training college, but, with the exception of the insignificant minority who go to the Universities or to the University colleges, they are surrounded by the influence of the elementary schools, and to those schools they finally return. The sooner provision is made for giving a professional training later on in life and the general education in other schools, the better it will be for the education of the country.
The general machinery proposed in the Bill as regards secondary education is one with which we need not greatly quarrel. For my own part, I have never been able to get up enthusiasm for or against School Boards or County Councils. I believe myself that if you give to a representative body a sufficient area to look after, you will find that it will attract to itself a sufficient number of able and conscientious men and women to carry out its business with efficiency. It is obvious, however, that the giving of the work to the municipalities has considerable advantage. Of course, the less complex our local government system is the better, and certainly the fewer rating authorities there are the better. On these grounds, while I greatly deprecate any attack on the principles which underlie the establishment of School Boards—that is to say, unsectarian teaching and public representation—I think if these two great needs are secured, and it does not very much matter whether we call the authority a School Board or a Committee of the County Council. It is understood that we should have on the local authority a sufficient number of women. As it is we all know that women are not qualified to sit on the County and the Borough Councils, and as half the school children are girls, they will be deprived of the assistance which women could give. We must secure the feminine influence on the boards which look after the schools. It is desirable to have from the outside—I do not like to say experts, but at all events persons who are familiar with secondary and university education, for this reason: When you deal with secondary education you will have to consider the old grammar schools, as well as the secondary schools to be set up by the new bodies, and it is very important that the teaching staffs of schools should feel that 924 persons who are familiar with secondary education are to have a considerable voice in their management. There is an impression on the part of secondary teachers that the amount of routine incident to the primary system is inimical to the prosperity of secondary education. That, I think, is the main reason for securing that there shall be on the governing bodies a proportion of persons who have come from the old universities, or, at all events, have had the training of a liberal education. I am bound to say that the idea that you will get educational experts in that way is not likely to be realised. When the University College authorities have the choice whether they will appoint people from their own staffs or people in the localities served by the schools, they will not appoint the former, because of the difficulty they would have in attending the meetings of the bodies. On the other hand, if they appoint people in the localities, those persons may probably have no acquaintance with the educational problems of the time.
I have some doubt about the finance of the Bill. I understand that it is proposed to allow Country Councils to levy a rate up to twopence, and even a larger rate if they get a Provisional Order for that purpose. But I did not gather from the First Lord whether the funds which the county have to provide for elementary education will be limited by the twopenny rate or whether they will have the present rating powers of the School Boards. Another obscure point is the fate of the small School Boards. Will they be extinguished, and will the County Councils set up boards of local managers for themselves, or will the School Boards be continued with the addition of County Council representatives?
We have heard very strong criticism from both sides of the House as to the optional character of the Bill. These criticisms seem to me to be well founded. The First Lord was rather sanguine, I think, in expressing the hope and expectation that the option will be exercised within a comparatively short period. I very much doubt that. I think, especially in the rural districts, it will be a considerable time before the County Councils and the other local authorities are persuaded 925 to undertake the burden of the rates. I think what has been the great support of the voluntary school hitherto—the dread of the School Board rate—will be equally operative to prevent the rural County Councils of the country and the small boroughs from taking upon themselves the burden of elementary education. On the other hand, if the work is boldly entrusted to them at once, I think we shall find that they will be more liberal than many educationists expect. I desire to express my thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for the handsome way he spoke of the work which is being done in Wales in connection with the secondary education system. I do not, however, think that the option of taking the English system will be accepted, because the Welsh county governing bodies are established in the same way as the committees which it is proposed to set up under the Bill. I have left to the last the most important subject—what is called the religious difficulty. It is a remarkable thing that the religious difficulty only exists in relation to the elementary schools. In a large number of parishes the elementary schools are regarded as the preserves of one denomination, and the fact of the State largely subsidising and selecting them for the giving of education arouses jealousy, and will arouse jealousy to the end of the chapter. One reason why the Welsh system has been so successful is that we have entirely kept out all these difficulties which people call religious, and which I regard as much more social and political, by insisting that the education given shall be that of no particular denomination, but suitable for men and women of all denominations. I am sure that a purely secular system is impossible in this country. We have heard a great deal of the rights and claims of parents I think if you take Wales all through you will not find a single parent who would not say, "Let my child be taught the elements of Christianity and the difference between right and wrong." If these people who carry on the schools with the object of giving religious education to the children could be persuaded to leave dogma alone, and insist only on the truth in which we all believe, then the doctrinal 926 differences which divide us would disappear, and in that way we should find means of composing our differences; but so long as you force children into schools in which dogmas to which their parents object are taught, so long shall we have these differences, and so long shall we have the education of the country thwarted and warped.
§ (9.40.) MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
I congratulate the Education Department and the First Lord of the Treasury on the manner in which this measure has been received. This Bill is a great Bill, and will have, I hope, a considerable effect in improving the education of the country. It will be generally accepted throughout the country as an honest attempt to improve the education of the children of England. It is an honest attempt to carry on primary, secondary, and tertiary education, and to put it on a basis to enable us to carry out what is the object of us all, namely, to provide a carefully-graduated system of education, whereby any children of sufficient intelligence will continue their education through the secondary school up to the university, and fit themselves to serve their country in any capacity, and be rewarded as good education and culture are rewarded. It is not wise to discuss tonight any of the details of the Bill. Although from the lucid statement of the right hon. Gentleman we can form a good general idea of its details, it is better to wait until we have the Bill before we discuss it in detail. But there are just one or two questions I should like to put and to have information on. Who, for instance, is to appoint the nominated members of the education authority? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of them as being persons experienced in education, to be nominated in addition to members appointed by the County and Borough Councils. Are these members to be selected by the County and Borough Councils or by other bodies—such as the Schools Association and the Education Department and others that may be interested? That is a point upon which I should like to have information. Another point is this. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Voluntary Schools 927 as being assisted by the rates. He means. I suppose, that for the Borough it will be a Borough rate; but, for the County, is it to be a County rate or a rate upon each individual parish?
Leaving all these details on one side. I congratulate the Education Department and the First Lord of the Treasury on the general principles which they have followed with regard to this measure. To give the general control over education to the County and Borough Councils will be of great value to the education of this country. You will get rid—and I am not speaking in any way in a hostile manner—of the Board School system, which, although it was of great value when it was started, when it was necessary to fill up a great gap in the education of England, and has done most admirable work, is not, I venture to say, the best possible arrangement for the management of education. When you come to elect a board entirely for education, it is unfortunately the case that you cannot help great attention being drawn to religious controversies. It is unfortunate because it withdraws attention from the most important point, in many cases, to a side issue. Where members are elected to School Boards, more attention has been paid to their religious, political, and social ideas than to what is really the main question—the giving of a good education to the children of the country. That undoubtedly accounts for the great feeling in this country with regard to extravagance in this matter. We do not grudge money for education, but there is a great feeling that much of the money spent on education is—I do not like to say wasted, but spent unnecessarily. There are gentlemen who are somewhat reckless on this subject of the amount of money spent, but those persons seem to forget that the pockets of the ratepayers are not of unlimited depth, and the money spent upon one thing is often taken from another. In the long run they are apt to spend more money out of the rates for this one thing, and that must come out of another. For instance, if you increase the rates you increase the cost of housing all over the country. I hope, if this Bill is pressed 928 forward and carried; and education becomes one of the principal interests of those who manage the local affairs of this country, that we shall have a guarantee of economical management, and a guarantee that the money should be well and economically spent. This will put an end to the impression that it is dangerous to give powers over further expenditure on account of the risk of that money being spent so lavishly as to cause serious interference with the rates. There are the additional advantages of getting all educational systems under one authority. As regards the teachers in preparatory schools, whoso salaries are rather high, I must say that I have always felt it to be hard for teachers in the primary schools that they should have no likely chance of rising to high positions. The salaries described as high undoubtedly are high for teaching little children their A B C and things of that sort, but they are all not high as compared with those paid to the higher grades of teachers. I think primary school teachers ought to have an opportunity of rising up and coming into the higher grades, and that, I hope, will be one of the results of this measure. I hope that all teachers will have an equal chance to rise from the primary to the secondary schools, and that an opportunity will be given to them to show their ability. If they possess sufficient ability and get the salary they deserve, the work got out of them will justify that salary. I believe that this Bill will in its ultimate results be of benefit not only to the general instructional results of the country, but also to the teachers themselves. There is one point which is not quite clear, and that is this. As I understand the proposal, the Counties and the large Boroughs included in the Counties are to be separate authorities for educational matters. With regard to elementary education, that is, I think, an obvious and reasonable proposal, but when you come to secondary education,. I should very much like the Education Department to consider whether that is a wise arrangement, and whether it would not be better for the different authorities to combine. In dealing with secondary education you want to deal with a wide area—an area with a good centre, which should be a large town—and the country would be better for 929 secondary education if it was connected together. It may be that the different authorities will combine for that purpose, and I should be glad if others more qualified than myself could say whether some arrangements leading up to that should be placed in this Bill, or whether it would be better to leave it to the initiative of the authorities concerned. I hope, Sir, that the measure will be pressed forward, and that the right hon. Gentleman will succeed in passing it into law this session.
§ (9.55.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I have listened with great attention to the lucid exposition which the First Lord of the Treasury gave of the provisions of this Bill. This is the third edition of the Government's educational proposals. The first was in 1896, the second last year. This is a revised and enlarged edition of the educational programme of the Government, and although much more complicated in many respects, it is certainly much more ingenious than the previous editions. It is very difficult, even from the exposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, to understand how the many complicated details which he described will work into one another, and what sort of a total result they will have when the whole machinery has been put into action. I agree, therefore, that anything that may be said must be said subject to some doubt and uncertainty with regard to the points which are left in the shadow by the right hon. Gentleman, and that, until we can more clearly define to ourselves what the working of the scheme will be, we must reserve our opinion.
The first claim the First Lord of the Treasury has put forward for the Bill is that it secures unity of authority. Unity of authority is one of the few points on which persons of different opinions are agreed; but I would remind the House that, after all, when one authority is spoken of, it must be subject to the condition that it is equally capable of dealing with either of the two branches of the subject. Education is far from being the simple and obvious matter some people think it is. The conditions of the rural districts are 930 quite different from those of the urban districts, and it does not follow that a system which is best for the one is best for the other. Moreover, secondary education is a very different thing from elementary education. The County Council is obviously a good body to control secondary education, because it will only be properly managed over a tolerably wide area; but the council of a borough of 20,000 people is not a good secondary education authority, the area being too small, though it is a very suitable authority for elementary education The House must not be carried away from the principle that every authority must be tested by its capacity to discharge these two very different functions. Those who have advocated one authority for education have generally done so from the point of view of an authority specially chosen for educational work and for no other.
The second point claimed as a merit for the Bill is that it would greatly promote educational efficiency. I do not see any provision in the Bill which makes for any improvement in the system of teaching in schools. We have long desired to see training colleges improved, and to see a comparatively large number of University graduates engaged in elementary education; but I do not see anything in the Bill which tends towards those desirable results. Considered as a Secondary Education Bill, I can see in this measure the making of a good Bill, and, if it were only such, the House would probably have no great difficulty in agreeing upon a measure which would greatly improve the system. Here I come to a point upon which I should like some information. Hoes this Bill contain any provision making it the duty of the new education authority to provide everywhere an adequate supply of secondary education? I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could give me that information.
So much, then, for secondary education. Now I come to the elementary part of the Bill. The Local Authority is, as I understand, to be appointed in boroughs and counties by the Borough and County Councils respectively; but I understand that the members of the new authority need not be members of the Borough or County Council. What 931 I desire to know is—what are to be the relations of this authority to the Borough or County Councils? Is it to be regarded as a mere Committee required to report its proceedings to the Councils?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They will be very much like the other Committees which the Councils now appoint. It is a perfectly familiar machinery.
§ MR. BRYCE
I confess I thought from the right hon. Gentleman's observations that these Committees were to be independent in many ways of the Councils; but I now understand that they will have no power to direct a rate or issue a precept, but will simply report to the Councils, who will have the final word. The County Council will be obliged to review the proceedings.
§ MR. BRYCE
If the County Council does its duty, it must. If it does not, how is it to know whether the Committee has done wisely and whether it is entitled to the rate it asks for? These are points of the utmost delicacy and difficulty, because, with all deference to the right hon. Gentleman, this is a new kind of Committee. The very ground on which the right hon. Gentleman re-commends the Committee is that it will include a number of men of special competency and knowledge who would not otherwise be found on such a Committee. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will indicate more clearly what are the other bodies which are to be represented on these Committees. Are the associations of voluntary schools to be represented? I hesitate to admit that they are entitled to representation. What will be the relations between these authorities and the managers? Will the local managers, as to one-third, be appointed by the Committee or by the County Council itself?
§ MR. BRYCE
Then, these Committees will have the appointment of managers of schools in small areas throughout the country. What do the 932 County Council or the County Committee know about the details of a very large number of small parishes in the county? It seems to me that the member of the Council or Committee who comes from a particular part of the county will have the nomination of the local managers left to him. Why should that patronage be left to one member? That illustrates what I mean by saying that the county is not a good area for the control of elementary education—it is far too large for the exercise of real local control. I, however, agree that the parishes now are too small. These Committees will be composed of persons chosen by the County Council or Borough Council, but not necessarily members of either body. They will have no popular momentum behind them. What those who argue in favour of popular control mean is that the locality itself should be represented—that the voice of the locality should be heard and its wishes given effect to. Therefore, I cannot think that what the right hon. Gentleman proposes will satisfy the demand for popular control, which has been so strongly made in the country.
The noble Lord the Member for South Kensington gave us the illustration of Germany. He pointed out that under the system of Germany they generally got competent men, but surely the whole system of Germany is very different to the proposals in this Bill. It is possible that you may get very competent men, but will you get that popular impulse which we in England have been accustomed to value? But will you get that association of the people of educational worth which seems to me to be one of the things we most need? Hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that one of the things which has most retarded the progress of education in this country, one of the chief difficulties in giving education at the proper place, is that the ordinary citizen is not sufficiently interested in it. He does not know its value; he does not feel it to be his; and if we are to remedy that, if we are to give the weight of popular impulse to our educational system, if we are to induce people to feel how much they have to gain from it and what a great advantage it is going to be to their children, and to the welfare of the country, 933 we must try to associate them locally to the work. Therefore I regret what I at present understand to he the scheme of the Government Bill, and I hope if the Bill goes on they will consent to an amendment in that respect, and that they will give us, as the local element in the management of the schools, not nominees of a distant County Council, but persons chosen on the spot, conversant with the locality.
Before I quit the County Councils, there is one other point to which I would refer. I understand the right hon. Gentleman—perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong—to say that a great part of the work of the Education Department will in future devolve upon these county authorities. Does he mean that the Government grant will be paid to these local authorities?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, not necessarily. What I tried to explain to the House was that whereas under the existing system the Education Department comes into direct connection, possibly into direct collision, with the managers of particular schools, henceforth the connection and, if there must be collision, the collision will be with the county authority.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, if they wish it. There will be a right of inspection by the county authority.
§ MR. BRYCE
I must not ask the right hon. Gentleman too many questions, but I should be glad to know in what way the county comes in, and what functions they will discharge in allotting grants to, and imposing conditions upon, the local authorities. That is evidently a very important point, and I confess it appears to me that what the right hon. Gentleman proposes will be nothing less than the creating of so many minature Education Departments in the different counties and boroughs of the country. These miniature Education Departments will be all in communication, on the one hand, with the local authorities, and, on the other hand, with Whitehall. Von will have a great additional element of complication and a great deal of additional work, and, I fear, a great deal of additional friction. ["No."] Subject to what we may hear further from the Government, I do not seethe necessity for these petty Education Departments in the country. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about decentralisation. Decentralisation is a word which is very popular just now, but I greatly doubt whether we want so much decentralisation in our educational system as is contemplated here. I am not at all sure that things will be any the better for the kind of decentralisation this measure contemplates. There may be some points on which there will be gain, but on many points I believe there will be loss. I would rather have seen larger local areas in direct touch with Whitehall. We all know when you create a Department of this kind, into whose hands its control is apt to fall. It falls into the hands of the permanent officials. We should create a bureaucracy of permanent officials in the County and Borough Councils into whose hands practically the bulk of these powers will 935 go. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not intend that, but if he looks at the history of many of our local authorities he will find that that has happened, or that, at any rate, it is always apt to happen. If there are a great many technical rules and a good deal of correspondence, it is almost inevitable that much of the local control will be acquired by the permanent officials, and they practically will manipulate the whole machine.
With regard to the rating, I did not understand from the right hon. Gentleman—and this also is an important point—whether in future we should have only one education rate, covering both secondary and elementary education; or whether there is to be a distinct secondary education rate.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
There will have to be a distinction, of course, as the secondary and technical rate is a limited rate, while the other is an unlimited rate. There will have to be a distinction in point of books.
§ MR. BRYCE
Then it will be necessary for the local authority to keep a very exact account of all that applies to secondary and technical education on the one hand, and of all that applies to elementary education on the other. That I think will be very inconvenient. I should have thought that our Scottish system was a great deal simpler, in which we have one educational authority, which has a general rating power, and is not obliged to distinguish between that which applies to elementary education and that which applies to secondary education. I cannot see the necessity, when you are dealing with one authority, for keeping up this distinction. The distinction is purely academic. If the School Board had been invested with the control of education there would not have been this difficulty; it is merely because we have had a different authority. I speak with diffidence on the subject, as the right hon. Gentleman has propably considered it more carefully than I have, but, as at present advised, I cannot see why we need keep up this distinction, which I think must involve a good deal of trouble, difficulty, and complication.
936 Now I pass for a moment to the boroughs. The Borough Council is likely, I should think, to put on the authority a considerable number of its own members. The members who are put on the Education Committee will have to discharge the educational work in addition to their other work. That seems to me to be open to very serious objection. The work of a Borough Council is, I believe, quite sufficient to employ all the spare time a borough; councillor can give to it. It is work quite different in character from that done by the School Boards and which will be done by the Education Committees. I cannot see that the borough councillor has been, or is likely to be chosen for such work, or that he will be competent to do it, and I believe that, at any rate in the case of the larger boroughs, the immense volume and difficulty of the work which will be thrown upon him will make it impossible for him to do justice to his other duties as borough councillor. It is not as if he could abdicate his other functions and devote himself entirely to education, considering himself merely an educational member. As a borough councillor he will have to give his vote on all questions of principle that come before the Council as a whole; that is to say, he will have to do all the work at present done by a borough councillor, and in addition the work done by a member of the School Board, which latter, in the case of our larger boroughs, is very engrossing and difficult. I therefore fear you will not have the work better done. In throwing this great additional burden on the Borough Councils you will be over-loading those Councils and diminishing the effective work of education.
Now we come to the question, on which so much has been said, of the very singular and exceptional power which the Government propose to give to the county and borough authorities by taking over the School Board work and dropping the extinguisher on the School Boards. It is a most singular provision. One would have thought that a matter of this great importance and gravity was not a matter to be left to the chance and perhaps hasty decision of a Town or County Council; but one which ought to be dealt with by the general law of 937 the land. There must be a better and a worse course, and surely it is rather for Parliament to say which is the proper course than to leave it to the local authority. However, that point has been dwelt on with great force by the hon. Member for Cambridge University and the hon. Member for North Camber-well, and, to a less extent, by the noble Lord the Member for South Kensington, and I need only add that I cannot see how the School Board can continue to go on doing good work, making their plans, appointing their teachers, and carrying on all their work in an efficient manner, if they have this—to use a hackneyed metaphor—hanging sword of Damocles continually suspended over them, liable to descend at any moment at the pleasure of the Borough Council. How, when they cannot tell from year to year whether or not the Borough Council will supersede them, will it be possible for them to go on doing their work in an effective way? I confess I should like to know the safeguards with which this decision of the County and Borough Councils is surrounded. Is it to be done by a single vote? If so, with what notice, with what opportunity for the people of the borough or county to make their views known? The matter is a very serious one. I should say that in reality the Government had been led away here by the desire to secure an unreal uniformity. The cases of the counties and of the boroughs are quite different. In the case of the county, I acknowledge you must have the County Council as the authority for secondary education. There is no doubt about that. There is no smaller area which would work; therefore, there is a primâ facie case for bringing in the county, and if the Government think, although I am not able to agree with them, that the County Council is a good authority for managing elementary education, if that is the only way in which they can introduce popular control, why better popular control in that way than no popular control at all. But I can find no reason for bringing in the Borough Councils. In the boroughs you have School Boards which have been doing the work in a very effective way. Everybody has admitted that the School Boards have done their work extremely well. 938 The School Boards have acquired a great deal of knowledge, and you are going to lose all that. What will become of them? They have been working extremely well, and I can discover no reason for this change except the fact that the Government wish to do for the boroughs what they are going to do for the counties, and that is they desire to annihilate the School Boards and transfer their work to the Councils. You may say it is necessary to vest secondary education in the body which has the control of the technical instruction grant, but it would have been perfectly easy to arrange a plan by which the School Board and the County Council could have formed a Committee for secondary education in the towns, and if that had been done no difficulty would have been found in adjusting the elementary work done most effectively by the School Boards with the proper secondary and technical work done by the Borough Councils, and which will be done by the Joint Committee. I regret the course which the Government have followed with regard to the School Boards, and if they are to be dispossessed some better argument ought to have been given to justify this change. I say this without the slightest proclivity or proposition in favour of School Boards or Borough Councils. We do not care which body it is provided the work is done well; but when one body has been doing it, well, I ask why that body should be superseded.
Now I come to the nomination proposal in the Bill. I was glad to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that there is nothing to be done to affect the Cowper Temple Clause, which will continue to subsist as it has subsisted hitherto, and the undenominational education will continue to be given. That being so some objections which might be otherwise taken will no doubt be removed, but I am afraid there will remain the objection which many of us feel very strongly, that rate aid ought not to be given to any denominational school unless it is accompanied by an efficient measure of local popular control. I find no such provision here for the kind of local popular control which we want, and that being the case, I must warn the right hon. Gentleman that the provison of the Bill will be strenuously opposed. The 939 provision of the Bill to give rate aid to denominational Voluntary Schools without a sufficient element of local popular control is unjust. Who will pay for the religious instruction? The Borough Council and the County Council are to have no authority except for technical instruction. Will they have to pay for the religious instruction, and, if not, who will pay for it? The result, however, of placing these denominational schools under the control of the County and Borough Councils will, perhaps, not be to remove altogether that element of religious controversy in educational affairs which we all deprecate. Hitherto no one troubled about the religion of the candidates for County or Borough Councils, but it is likely that one result of the denominational proposals of the Bill will be to introduce the evils of sectarian strife into those bodies, which they have hitherto been free from. The plan which the right hon. Gentleman has devised for enabling every denomination to give instruction in the tenets of its own religion is an ingenious one, but surely it may tend to an undue multiplication of small schools. The County Council will feel that in every case where a demand of that kind is put forward that it is bound, in conformity with the principles of the Bill, to create that school. If it does, we may have an undue multiplication of schools, and we may have three or four created where one might have been enough. Those schools will be weak, and not able to have a good staff of masters and apparatus. Surely that is a very wasteful system. I cannot think when that plan comes to be examined that it can possibly hold water.
But I have a graver objection to the perpetuation of this denominational system. I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is not from any Party feeling that Members on the Opposition side think it is undesirable to perpetuate denominational education. It is because we think that nothing worse could be done to the children than to take them in their tender years and divide them, like the sheep from the goats, into different religious communities, teaching them to regard each other with distrust, as if they did not hold a common 940 Christianity as well as a common citizenship, who were all divided by these dogmatic differences, which children cannot understand. Everyone will admit that it is an unfortunate system. We think it is so unfortunate that we object altogether to its perpetuation,; and we believe that we ought to get rid of all recognition of denominational is in the schools, giving proper facilities to the clergymen or anyone else to give denominational instruction in such a way and at such times as the authority I may decide. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman were vested by him on what he alleges to be the desire of the parents. The whole policy of this matter is the belief, which I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman honestly entertains, that the parents desire denominational education.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not say that. My point is that whether the parents desired denominational or undenominational education for the children, it should, if practicable and consistent with the general scheme of education, be granted to them.
§ MR. BRYCE
I have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. I admit that the Roman Catholics desire denominational education, and that their position is exceptional. I do not believe that the percentage of Church of England parents or parents of any other Protestant denomination who desire denominational education is a percentage practically worth regarding. ["Oh, oh!"] The percentage is so small that it is not necessary to make these elaborate provisions for their case. If we are satisfied that a large number of parents desire to have distinctly dogmatic instruction for their children, they will be entitled to ask the House to give it; but I believe that this is not the fact. I believe that what Protestant parents desire is that the children shall be brought up with a knowledge of the Bible, giving, the schoolmaster freedom to give them, moral instruction based on the Bible; but they desire nothing more.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Our Bill goes as near as any scheme that may be devised in leaving it to the parents to decide. 941 If the parents prefer sending their children to a Church school then it lets them prefer a Church school.
§ MR. BRYCE
Of course, I am in ignorance of the exact provisions of the Bill, and I will not pursue the matter further. I hope we shall find that the right hon. Gentleman's observations are justified. It appeared to me that the right hon. Gentleman rested his case on the belief that there was this demand, and I take a different view.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would earnestly point out to the right hon. Gentleman that I drew no distinction between the desire of parents for denominational teaching and their desire for undenominational teaching, or, indeed, for atheistic teaching if they wished to have it. I only said they must consider the desires of the parents in whichever direction they wish.
§ MR. BRYCE
I think very great difficulties will be found in establishing those different schools, where a parish is only able to support one school, and the greatest possible difficulty will be found in endeavouring to follow out these plans. There was a question put by the noble Lord the Member for South Kensington, which I think was not answered. It was this: Does the Bill propose to give the new educational authorities a control over endowments? This is a matter of great importance. Does it give them a power of submitting schemes for their better management? There is an enormous number of small endowed schools in this country besides the distinct secondary schools and grammar schools which have sunk to the level of elementary schools. If these schools were got into the hands of the local authority, a great deal might be saved. It is important that this power should be given, and if any hon. Members from Wales are present, I should like to ask if this is not a power which they would like to see passed into law. Nothing was said by the right hon. Gentleman as to a provision for the representation of women on the new educational authorities. It is of increasing importance that women should be placed on these authorities. They are not eligible for County Councils or Borough Councils, and I would submit, 942 considering how important it is that they should be upon this authority, that a provision should be introduced stipulating for the presence of a certain number of women on the Educational Committee. The principal omission which I see in the Bill, besides the one I have referred to about the endowments, is that nothing is done to create better local areas. The parish is quite too small an area if the County Council is to undertake the work, and it ought to receive a power to rearrange its county into better rural areas, in which better local boards of managers could be established and where a large number of competent men could be found to deal with the local educational work. That would be compatible with the scheme of the Bill, and I hope the Government will consider the propriety of introducing it. With every desire to welcome in the Bill a solution of the difficulties which have perplexed us so long, I see some points in which it must create a good deal of difficulty and trouble. I am afraid that it will turn out to be a very costly system. There will be a great deal of additional machinery. We shall get rid of some overlapping and complications of superfluous machinery, but we are creating a great deal more new machinery, which I am very much afraid will turn out more costly than that which we are superseding. I am afraid the rates will tend to rise, in fact, it is hardly possible that the rates will not rise. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman rightly, voluntary subscriptions will come to an end. The First Lord of the Treasury is not in his place, but I see the noble Lord the Secretary for India. Perhaps he can tell me what will happen if local people withdraw their subscriptions from the Voluntary School Will it be supported by the County Council out of the rates? In that case it will cease to be a Voluntary School. What guarantee is taken against action of that kind on the part of subscribers, who may feel that they would be glad to be relieved from the intolerable strain under which they have been suffering.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the explanation of the Bill.
§ MR BRYCE
The Bill is certainly a most complicated one, and it is not possible to follow all the details. This is a difficulty which is shared by others. We want to know what security there is, and that there will be a motive for keeping up the subscriptions; and, therefore, that we shall not land the county authority in the very heavy charge which would devolve upon it if the subscriptions were withdrawn, and if it were obliged to support the school itself. I cannot help wishing, when I think of all the numerous difficulties which will beset us in endeavouring at every stage of the Bill to bring it into proper form, so far at least as elementary education is concerned, that the Government had been content to make it a Secondary Education Bill. If it had been a Secondary Education Bill we could have passed it with comparative ease, and a great instalment would have been won for which the country has long been waiting. As the proposals stand, I am afraid we will find that many unforeseen difficulties will emerge and serious prospects of friction. Be that as it may, without expressing any opinion, which would be premature, as to whether we shall be able to support the Bill or not, I can, at all events, echo what was said by the First Lord of the Treasury—that the need is great, and that we are all anxious to join in endeavouring to pass some measure which will meet that need. I hope the debates will proceed on educational lines, avoiding argument from the denominational, the School Board, or the County Council point of view; and that we will consider throughout not what will be for the advantage of any particular body of persons, or any particular religious denomination, but solely what will be for the interests of the children themselves and of the country. These interests depend on nothing more than they do upon the provision of a far ampler and higher provision than we have yet been able to make for an education thoroughly good from top to bottom.
§ (10.52.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
I sincerely regret that the Vice President of the Council is, owing to illness, absent this evening. In his absence I shall 944 endeavour to deal with some of the points raised in the course of the debate. I think my right hon. friend who has just sat down is hardly in accord with the general sense of the House, when he suggests that the Bill might properly have been confined to secondary education. If there is one point on which the whole House is united, it is to regard as the great merit of the Bill, the fact that it endeavours to deal with primary and secondary education as one organic whole. I trust that whatever alteration may be made in the Bill, the Government will by faithful to the great principle that there should be one authority dealing with the whole subject of education. The difficulties suggested by my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen seem almost interminable.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
The subject bristles with difficulties, but in the hands of my right hon. friend, these difficulties become absolutely insuperable, and such as would make any Government, even one of which the right hon. Gentle man himself might be a Member, give up in despair. We do not regard the subject as presenting difficulties so insuperable, but we believe the difficulties may be surmounted. Everyone in the House is agreed that the authorities proposed in the Bill are admirably qualified to deal with secondary education, and have proved their qualifications by the manner in which they have dealt with technical education. Questions have been asked what will be done to provide secondary education in every part of the country The answer is very simple. We give the local authority power to provide secondary education.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
Certainly it is their duty to exercise the power conferred upon them; but a certain amount of discretion must be left to them. The same authority has power to make provision for the education of the teacher. They have also a most valuable power, with regard to secondary education in the 945 power to combine. In the domain of primary education there is one topic suggestive of controversy. It has created a good deal of feeling in the past. That is the question of denominational schools. For some mysterious reason which, I think has not been grasped in every part of the House, the demand for denominational schools has been represented as confined to Roman Catholics.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
Does the right hon. Gentleman think we are dealing with the elergy in these matters? We are dealing with the demands of the laity with regard to the education of their children. Will the right hon. Gentleman say that in Scotland the demand for distinctive religious teaching in the schools is confined to Roman Catholics. My friends will admit that the strongest desire exists in Scotland for distinctive religions teaching—
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I think it will be generally admitted that it does. I am surprised to hear even a doubt expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, If it exists in Scotland does it not exist in England? To what other cause has been duo the maintenance, in the face of great difficulties and competition, of these voluntary schools. These voluntary schools form two-thirds of the elementary schools of England, and in these a majority of the children are at present educated. They have been kept up by the feeling that there was on the part of parents, a great demand for distinctive religious teaching, in the schools, and we are face to face with the fact that the majority of the elementary schools in England are denominational schools. How are you going to deal with these schools? Are you going to close them all and establish a universal 946 system of School Boards or something equivalent to them all over the country? Surely the sensible course is that which was explained by my right hon. friend when he introduced this Bill. It is to recognise the fact of the existence of the voluntary schools, and to refrain from interfering with their right to give distinctive religious teaching, to utilise them for the purpose of secular education, and, so far as secular education is concerned, to put them under the control of a local authority, so that the local authority will be able to say that the secular education which is to be paid for out of the rates shall be a thoroughly good and efficient education. Surely that is the course of wisdom, and any idea of throwing these schools over in order that you may start a system of what would be generally understood as board schools all over the country is not a matter of practical polities at all. The question we are asked is: What is to be done with the rate throughout the district of the local authority? Well, so far as the maintenance of schools under the control of the local authority, whether hitherto known as board schools or voluntary schools, but which, henceforth, will be carried on under the control of the local authority, so far as secular education is concerned—so far as the expense of maintenance is concerned, it is an expense that will be borne by the rate—out of the county rate or the borough rate as the case may be. So far as the cost of buildings is concerned any additions and improvements necessary will of course be a matter which should be borne in the case of denominational schools by those who are interested in the maintenance of such schools, and in the case of other schools by the district for which the schools are particularly intended. The subscriptions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred will be wanted for that purpose. The maintenance of the schools, voluntary and board, will pass to the rates of the district for which the local authority exists, and the control of secondary education will also be vested in the local authority working through managers, on which body they will be adequately represented.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
And any necessary alterations, of course. If there are any necessary additions in the shape of new buildings, these must be borne by those interested in the maintenance of schools of that kind.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
Of course there must be a separate account if the cost of the building is to be defrayed in that way. Of course those who erect the buildings will keep their own account. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question with regard to the constitution of the committee—as to how the nominated members were to be appointed. That is a matter with regard to which we have not thought it at all desirable to go into details. The constitution of the committee will be left in the scheme which will be settled after the greatest possible publicity has been given to the proposal to have such a scheme and will make provision for local wants and local desires and for the representation on the committee of all those who may be specially qualified to give advice as to the educational wants of the locality. Primary and secondary education ought to be co-ordinate, but there is nothing in this Bill to prevent the education authority having two committees, one to deal more especially with secondary education, and the other more especially with primary education. The right hon. Gentleman asked what the relations will be between the committee and the local authority. With the local authority, of course, will rest the power of the purse, and the local authority may refuse to make any rate if it disapproves of any proposal of the committee. But the power of the local authority will be exercised through the committee, and, ordinarily speaking, I should say certainly that the decision of the committee will be the decision which will be carried into effect. The proposal 948 is that the power conferred on the local authority shall be exercised through the Statutory Committee, and that the Statutory Committee will be brought to arrive at a determination which will represent the desire of the local authority, in the way I have described. The right hon. Gentleman said we were constituting a number of miniature education departments through the country. I venture to think that one of the great evils we have to deal with is the fact that we have one great central education department face to face with a number of small local bodies, and that a great deal of unnecessary work and friction has resulted from that state of things. If we distribute the work of the central department among a number of education departments scattered throughout the country, we will be doing a very good work indeed. We will create a local authority familiar with the desires and wants of the district who will work under the superintendence of a central authority, and that work will be a great deal better done than by a number of small authorities face to face with the central authority. Another difficulty suggested by the right hon. Gentleman—
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I do not suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has approached this matter in any captious spirit. I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and I only desire to relieve his mind with respect to some of the difficulties which he imagined. One difficulty which he suggested, and especially pressed, was this. He said that if we have County Councils and Borough Councils as the authorities we will find that the work will fall into the hands of permanent officials. I venture to say that if there is one thing which the history of the County Councils has shown, it is that the work has not been 949 allowed to fall into the hands of permanent officials. Neither in Borough nor in County Councils can anything be found to justify the apprehension of the right hon. Gentleman that the result will be to hand over education to permanent officials.
There is only one other subject which I will deal with—the propriety of conferring on local authorities throughout the country the option of adopting the provisions of this Bill with regard to elementary education. I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen to say that surely one system must be right and the other wrong, and that we ought to select the system we think right, and impose it on the whole country. I quite agree, as a matter of abstract logic, that one system is better than the other, but there is no such thing as absolute correctness apart from the special circumstances of the case; and although one system may be better than another in the abstract, it is not necessarily better for a particular locality if it so happened that that particular locality objects to it. It is not what in theory is the best system, but what system is likely to be the best in a particular locality, and in determining that question the desire of the locality is a most important factor. I am quite unable to agree with the proposition that Parliament is abrogating its functions if we do not determine which is the better system to be applied, and by hard and fast legislation to secure the adoption of that system. It has been suggested that in many of the large towns in the Midlands and the North of England, the people may be averse to adopting the control of the Borough Councils, instead of the control of the School Boards which had worked so well in many of these towns. On the other hand, there seems to be pretty general agreement that it would be an enormous advantage if the County Councils were to take over the work of education, which is at present scattered about among a number of small local authorities, where these local authorities, indeed, exist at all. Surely we cannot prepare two schedules, one containing the localities where the Act 950 ought to be applied compulsorily as regards elementary education, and the other containing localities where it should not be applied at all. Surely the sensible course is that which has been indicated by my right hon. friend, namely, to leave it to the local authority to decide the matter for itself. Every precaution will be taken to secure that a decision is to be arrived at only after mature consideration. Every facility will be offered to advertise the proposal sufficiently, and then, and then only, will the local authority proceed to decide on it. I am sure that every one feels that the present system under which a School Board determines how much should be spent on education, but is not the rating authority itself, and cannot take a comprehensive survey of the whole budget of the rating authority, is open to strong objection; but we do not feel so strong an objection to it that, whether the locality wants it or not, it should be forthwith abolished.
We believe the proposals of this Bill to be the best for the purpose of securing a partial acceptance of provisions calculated to promote the cause of education. Compulsion is a word that rather stinks in the nostrils of the people of this country. I could not help being reminded while the right hon. Gentleman was speaking of the result of compulsion in a different direction. By the famous "Book of Sports," it was attempted to make the people play games on Sundays, but the chief result was increased stringency on Sundays. If we say that this system is to be adopted we will be very apt to provoke reaction, but if we suggest a system which we believe to be the best we will be in the way of achieving the best result. I have endeavoured to deal with the various points suggested in the course of the debate. My right hon. friend has every reason to be satisfed with the way the Bill has been generally received, and I trust that many of the doubts and difficulties which have been expressed will disappear when the Bill is seen.
§ (11.12.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
My only excuse for standing between hon. Members who wish to address the House on this Bill and the House is that I am the representative in 951 this House of 2,000,000 of people in Great Britian whose educational interests will be very much affected by the proposals in this measure. I remember when two or three years ago I raised the Catholic claim for educational equality, I felt I was like one speaking alone, but I am glad that I have lived to see the day when the principles for which I then contended are not only acknowledged in the measure which has been brought in by the Government, but also acknowledged by some of the speakers from the Liberal benches, notably the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen. It is only of the Catholic claim that I intend mainly to speak; but I do not think that the House will be surprised when I say that it will be perfectly impossible for me to pledge myself to the details of a measure so complicated as that which has been brought in by the First Lord of the Treasury, because although we had a very lucid exposition from the right hon. Gentleman, we are still in a considerable state of ignorance regarding it. Two things it is only right to say. One is that in a measure dealing with so supremely important a question as that of education is a measure which will require a considerable amount of legitimate and searching discussion, and, therefore, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman himself will feel that it is a Bill which must be dissected and minutely analysed, without any desire, however, to meet it in a hard or too critical or censorious a spirit. The fate of the Bill will really depend on the manner in which it is approached both by the Government and the Opposition. If the Government adopt a hard and fast line in refusing to consider important amendments, they will be themselves in that way obstructing the progress of the Bill.
With regard to the Catholic case it is very simple. I may define it as coming to this:—That a population which to a large extent is the poorest, taking the whole population of the country, and which is also the population which is as anxious, if not more anxious, to get education than any other class in the community, is yet more severely taxed for education than any other portion of the people. I have often mentioned the case of my own constituency. There 952 is there a population mainly consisting of dockers. Everyone knows that those who work in the docks are not only paid a small wage, but, what is more difficult, they are paid a precarious wage, and yet the extraordinary state of things exists in my constituency that these dockers at the same time that they are compelled to pay out of their small wage a tax for the School Board schools of their Protestant fellow-citizens, pay also a voluntary tax in support of the schools of their own demonination. What I say of Liverpool applies to the Catholic community in every other large centre of population. Take some of the districts in London. There are districts in London in which the population consist largely of Irish dockers, and these dockers are compelled out of their small weekly wage, sometimes by small weekly subscriptions, to build their churches, and build, and largely support their schools. I do not think that anyone in this House, whatever his religious convictions may be—even the hon. Member for South Belfast—will deny a meed of praise and recognition to those poor Irish Catholics for the heroic self-sacrifice with which they have maintained their churches and schools. [Mr. WILLIAM JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.) Hear, hear.] I am glad to have got perhaps the first recognition which the hon. Member for South Belfast has ever given to the Church against which he had devoted the greater part of his political life. These poor Catholics have, by subscribing 1d. or 2d. or 3d. every week, to maintain, for the most part, their schools. The consequence is that in many instances the voluntary school is an inferior school to the board school. The board school has the rates behind it; whereas the Irish Catholic school, except in a few towns, has only the pence of the Irish poor behind it. That is naturally an unequal competition. I remember when Mr. Acland was in office, although he was a man of very strong convictions on educational questions, he yet desired, so far as he could, to meet the views of Irish Catholics with regard to their schools, and I was constantly placed in this position. I would be asked by people in my own constituency to protest against some of the alterations which Mr. Acland as the head of his Department, demanded in Irish Catholic school buildings. These schools were insufficiently ventilated, the 953 furniture was bad, and very often the sanitation was bad. Mr. Acland was frequently compelled to place myself and the school teachers in this dilemma. He would say, "Either I must put your school to the expense which these small voluntary subscriptions will not enable it to bear, or I must allow a state of things to go on which I think to be injurious to the physical health of the children." That was a painful and pathetic dilemma for an Irish Catholic working man. He had to send his child to an inferior or unhealthy school, rather than send him to a better equipped school which belonged to another religious denomination. That was a state of things which obviously could not continue, and I appreciate that the measure of the right hon. Gentleman fully recognises all this gross and unfair inequality, and that he desires to put an end to it. So far, I think, the Bill is entitled to a welcome on behalf of those who have put forward the claim of the Irish Catholic schools. I agree with hon. Members that some of the methods by which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to carry out his scheme are open to criticism, and ought to be carefully scrutinised. On behalf of my hon. friends, I will say that Irish Catholics in this House who are determined, so far as they can, to get absolute equality for their own schools, will not join in any effort to inflict injustice on the schools of any other community in the country. These are the lines on which I think it is safe for me at this moment to speak with regard to this Bill, and I hope that the Government, by a spirit of conciliation, and by a desire to treat this question in the broad and national spirit, will be able to pass this measure with practically universal assent, and that a vexed question will be settled for ever, and will be removed from the sphere of controversy.
§ (11.26.) MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
I would not venture to speak at this late hour were it not that for many years past I have taken a great interest in this particular question, and that I desire to say one word of welcome to a measure which is evidently drawn on bold, comprehensive, and statesmanlike lines, and which, if it obtains that approval which I hope it will obtain, promises to be a fitting complement to the great 954 Education Act passed thirty years ago. I wish to devote the very few minutes during which I will trouble the House to pointing out, very generally, the most pressing needs of our educational system at the present moment, which ought, if possible, to be supplied by the present Bill. In the first place, we certainly want more decentralisation. The Board of Education is overwhelmed with petty details, and it has consequently very little time to devote to those large problems on which the country desires its guidance; and any measure that tends to create strong local authorities which shall relieve the central office of some of those details, ought to be welcomed in the interests of good education. Then what do we require for our Secondary Education Department? An educational authority which shall have executive power and permanent funds. I attach very great importance to the question of funds for secondary education. At present they occupy a very precarious position, and are not on a proper foundation on which to base a great system of secondary education. We want a larger area for secondary education, because we want enlightened administration, and we want such an area as will be suitable to those large institutions which we desire to see. Finally, in this matter we want extended power. It is true that the field of technical instruction does already cover about two-thirds of the field of education, but does not cover the whole of it. Then, as regards elementary education, we want our Voluntary Schools like our Board Schools to be thoroughly efficient. I believe myself there is only one way that this can be permanently secured, either from the point of view of the local authority or from that of the Voluntary School manager, and that is by putting the ultimate responsibility on public funds. No system of doles, whether of rate aid or State aid, will ever give permanent relief to the managers of Voluntary Schools or permanently settle this question. Experience has shown that very clearly, and, therefore, it is all important that the ultimate financial responsibility shall be a public body.
The attempt which was made in 1897 to assist our Voluntary Schools has proved, 955 I think, to have been to a great extent unsuccessful. The associations which were created in that year have been only used as machinery for distributing funds. If the buildings are provided by the denomination, they may, at any rate, claim a voice in the appointment of the teachers who give the religious teaching, and if the managers are relieved of ultimate financial responsibility, they must in return accept real control by the rating body. The value of the appointment of certain managers by the county authority has been somewhat questioned in the course of this debate. Speaking on this matter with some experience of county administration, we have always found, in my own particular county, in the analogous case of secondary schools, that the governors appointed have been of the greatest use in explaining to the governing body the views of the county authorities. I must, however, point out what I consider a most serious anomaly, and that is that the scheme, as it stands, is purely and simply a scheme of local option in the field of secondary education. The county authority, as I understand, need not spend a single penny on higher education unless they like. They have no definite obligation thrown on them, and, therefore, if they choose they need not spend a single penny. Then we are told that none of them, unless they like, need take over control of the elementary schools. Surely if the Government have come to the conclusion that there should be one authority for elementary and higher education, they ought not to be afraid of; applying that great principle throughout the country. If it is anything, the scheme is a scheme of constructive statesmanship, and surely the Government ought to be able to decide whether it is or it is not suitable in different parts of the country. Take a county with a number of small School Boards and Voluntary School managers; there is no organisation or connecting link between them, and the result will be, if the Bill is passed in its present shape, that our system of elementary education will be even more chaotic for some years to come than it is at present. We shall have conflicts and disputes between the ratepayers, on the one hand, who do not want to increase the rates, and the managers on the other who want to get the same financial assistance for their 956 schools that the managers in the neighbouring counties receive. We shall have still more deplorable conflicts between the party which wishes to aid sectarian education, and the party which objects on principle to giving it any aid at all. Surely, in the interest of good and peaceful local administration, you will not leave this question unsolved. But there is a further objection to this scheme of local option. Are voluntary schools in one county to have all financial responsibility removed from their shoulders, and put on the shoulders of the ratepayers, whereas the voluntary schools in the neighbouring county are to be denied any rate aid whatever? Surely that is not fair to one party or to the other; and I sincerely hope it will be reconsidered before the Bill is passed into law. With this great exception, I regard the Government scheme as most promising. It will be attacked, of course, on the one hand by those who care more for the rates than for education; and, on the other, by those who care more for denominationalism, than the interests of education; but if the Government stick to their guns I believe they will be able to carry this scheme with the general approbation of moderate men in this country, who desire to see education improved, and who think that that improvement has been too long delayed. They will approve of the Government proposal being made the principal measure of the session, a measure which for their own credit, having regard to former failures, they cannot afford to drop, notwithstanding the other great questions which may come before us, and I trust that they will find ample time to bring it to the satisfactory solution.
§ *(11.40.) MR. ALFRED HUTTON (Yorkshire, W. R., Morley)
The hon. Member for East Somersetshire has, I think, hit upon one of the great blots of the proposals laid before us by the First Lord of the Treasury, One of the great merits of the Bill, as it was explained to us, was that it would do away with all denominational or theological squabbles in the matter of education. The right hon. Gentleman deplored, and I think rightly deplored, the religious difficulties which abound in regard to a School Board election, but he told us that 957 these proposals were to get rid of those religious difficulties and that we were to have none of the religious wrangles to which we have been accustomed. But as the hon Gentleman who has just sat down said, if we have been troubled in the past we are likely to be troubled a great deal more in the future. This new authority is to be optional. The first thing that will happen is that there will be an agitation in every county, in every county borough, in every borough over 20,000, in every urban district over 20,000, as to whether the scheme shall be adopted.
What is the main point of the scheme? It is rate aid to voluntary schools. Whether this scheme is to be adopted will turn on the question: Is rate aid to be given to denominational schools or not? What more could you do to introduce the denominational squabbles which the right hon. Gentleman deplored? If the matter were decided in one year one way, the agitation would go on just the same in the following year. Everybody would be dissatisfied, and new agitations would be set up year after year.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My point is that when the Act is adopted it will stop religious strife. I never suggested that that would happen unless the Act was adopted.
§ * MR. ALFRED HUTTON
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there will be many bitter fights indeed in a great number of places on theological questions after the Act is adopted. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General made a vigorous speech in support of the proposal, and he seemed somewhat puzzled how to explain the continued existence of such a large number of voluntary schools in this country; and he put it down to the attachment the people had to denominational teaching. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that in my part of the country that is not the case. The attachment to these schools is very great, but it is not because people are partial to any particular doctrine, it is 958 because they fear a School Board rate. People who bate rates will hate them just as much as they hate the board schools, and the denominational schools will become as unpopular as the board schools have been, and you will have all the difficulties and wrangles in the future that you have had in the past. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is very much mistaken if he thinks he is doing anything to remove the religious difficulty; on the contrary, he has done a great deal to introduce it into questions where it has never before been known or discussed.
The right hon. Gentleman says that when the Act is adopted all these difficulties will disappear. I am not inclined to agree with him. In the first place there will be various discussions as to whether there is sufficient demand to justify a school being built. That will introduce theological wrangles, and you will have different schools fighting one against the other, because they will be not only fighting for their own denominational interests, but they will be fighting against the interests of the community as far as expenses are concerned. We know perfectly well that a small school is most expensive to keep up. You are expected to have a certificated teacher in each school, and that adds to the expense; and, besides, you will have to multiply your teachers. Whereas one school might supply 200 or 500 scholars, if you have two schools it would mean a double staff all round. So that even if the Act were adopted, wrangles of this kind would still continue. In this respect, the proposals in the Bill before us are simply an adoption of the demands of Convocation. Every demand put forward by the Archbishop in his Resolution at Convocation has been adopted—rate aid, one-third control, and so on. We are told that this one-third control is to be "absolute mastery," but I maintain that it will be only a shadowy sort of control, and not worth speaking about at all. The absolute control is to remain in the County Council. We know that the County Council cannot manage every small school throughout the whole county district, and whether you speak of the County Council, or 959 the District Council, or the Borough Council, the control will be anything but absolute, and the "mastery" will not exist at all. If there is one particular in which it is more important to have control than anything else, it is with regard to the teaching, and that is the one matter that is withheld from this authority that is to have absolute "mastery." A man has been trained at the expense of the State, and his salary and pension are paid by the State; and yet his appointment and dismissal are to be the one question that is to be withheld from this new authority. I do not think it is fair either to the teacher or to the scholar or to the people who find the money that this most important piece of machinery should be withheld from the new authority.
§ * MR. ALFRED HUTTON
Are they to control the conditions which may be laid down with regard to the appointment of teachers? Suppose the body of managers wished to secure the services of a teacher outside the day school, can the authority sanction that additional employment? The veto is only with regard to the appointment. It does not affect the dismissal, and it is the dismissal that is often far more important than the appointment. Many dismissals are often made on grounds entirely insufficient, and on grounds that have nothing to do with education, yet this authority with "complete mastery" is to have no control with regard to dismissal, but only control with regard to appointment.
With regard to elementary education at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman is raising questions under this Bill which I think he would have been well advised to have left alone. I think it is a most extraordinary thing that every Member who has spoken as to School Boards, has praised their work, and yet has concluded with the remark that they should be abolished. We are told that the County Council has done such splendid work that it would be impossible to withdraw that work from them. Cannot the same 960 be said of the School Boards with far greater effect? In most of the towns that I know the Councils do not do this work. They receive the whiskey money and divide it up; they distribute the money to other bodies to administer. We are told that the School Boards ought not to be allowed to do this work without the controlling veto of the rating authority, and yet you are going to make a proposal that the managers of every voluntary school shall be able to make a precept on the authority.
§ * MR. ALFRED HUTTON
I think I have shown that it is impossible for a County Council to enter into all the details of management of every school in the county. There are sometimes 500 denominational schools in one county. How is it possible for the County Council to administer the affairs of all those schools and to say that the School Board shall not have control?
The new authority is not one that commends itself to my mind. I should not care now to discuss it in detail, but one or two things I want to say with regard to its duty as the secondary education authority. The right hon. Gentleman referred, in very suitable terms, to the need of more training colleges. The County Councils are to be limited in the first place at any rate to a twopenny rate for secondary education. What are they to do with that? They will have the higher grade schools to carry on; they will have the evening schools to carry on; they will have the training colleges to carry on, and they will have the pupil teachers' centres to carry on. How are we to expect them with their twopenny rate to start commercial schools and secondary schools which will carry on the children to higher 961 education? The twopenny rate will not suffice for those functions which are already laid upon them, not to speak of anything else.
When the right hon. Gentlemen compares the work done in Wales with the work that he hopes will be done in England, he must remember that the Welsh County Councils receive on certain conditions a certain sum of money equal to a half-penny rate, and that, I believe, has been the reason why such good work has followed on the establishment of the new Welsh county authority. I do not see how County Councils can be expected to accomplish the work that they ought to do and that we want them to do. There is no incentive in this Bill for them to do it. At least we might have expected that there would have been a corresponding incentive provided in this case to that provided in the case of Wales. We might have had something to show the direction in which efforts ought to be made as to standard' as to minimum of supply, and as to the needs of the district which the new authority had to deal with. None of these things are inserted in the Bill. There is every temptation for the authority to remain stationary and to refrain from making new effort or entering on the work which is really sorely needed. I am afraid that in regard to secondary, as in regard to elementary education, the Bill will do more to stereotype the present state of things than to fulfil the hope that so many of us had expressed with regard to the co-ordination and improvement of education which most of us desire.
§ (11.54.) SIR JOHN DORINGTON (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
I do not think that in the course of this debate 962 any member has yet spoken from the County Council point of view. I am strongly of opinion that the County Councils of England will be found quite capable of undertaking and willing to undertake this work. The only thing I regret is that the Bill is permissive. I think it would be very much better to impose these duties at once upon the County Councils. I have always advocated in the management of my own County Council that we should not become a political body; that we should regard ourselves purely as an administrative body, and should do our best to discharge any duties imposed upon us. If this Bill is made permissive we shall have at once to discuss the matter from the political and social point of view which I should deprecate very much in deed In my county we have been looking forward to a Bill of this kind for many years, and I am satisfied that so far as my own county is concerned we shall readily undertake this work. We have already a good example before us in our Technical Education Committee, to which we have added all those persons in the county who we thought were most capable of giving us assistance, and I may say that we have included women.
The only criticism that I have to make on the Bill is that the County Councils ought not to be tied down too tightly to a particular scheme. I believe the County Councils take a sufficiently broad view of their duties to justify their being trusted with discretion. Their interests are hardly ever sectional; they are drawn from much too large a district to allow such things to enter into the consideration of what they ought to do. I am quite satisfied that the County Councils generally will be inclined to 963 do all that is possible. With regard to Borough Councils, rather different considerations apply. The hon. Member for East Somersetshire has mentioned that County Councils have not got to consider School Boards to the same extent as Borough Councils. The Borough Councils might have School Boards covering the whole area covered by the new municipalities. I think it is not unfair or unreasonable, and I would say it is not unwise, to allow this option to Borough Councils whether the area is covered or not.
§ The time is getting so short that I will not prolong my remarks. I will merely express the hope that this Bill may pass and that the discussions upon it may be continued as auspiciously as they have been begun this evening, and that the measure will in the course of this session find a place on the Statute-book.
§ (11.58.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 176; Noes, 23. (Division List No. 86.)965
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G.(Mid'x|
|Acland-Hood, Cp. Sir Alex. F.||Cranborne, Viscount||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Crossley, Sir Savile||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanl'y|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heath, James (Staffords. N. W|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Davenport, William Bromley-||Helder, Augustus|
|Delany, William||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.|
|Bagot, Cpt. Josceline FitzRoy||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightsi'e|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doogan, P. C.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. Manch'r||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Lds.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Beach, Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed ward||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Blake, Edward||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Boland, John||Fitzroy, Hon. Ed. Algernon||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Bond, Edward||Flower, Ernest||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Flynn, James Christopher||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ||Lawson, John Grant|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Foster, Philip S (Warwick. S. W||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S|
|Caldwell, James||Galloway, William Johnson||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Gardner, Ernest||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Brist'l, S.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbys're||Godson, Sir A'gustus Frederick|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon J. (Birm.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Chamberlain, J. A'sten (Worc'r||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs)||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Chapman, Edward||Gretton, John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Groves, James Grimble|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole||Mac Donnell, DR. Mark A.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hall, Edward Marshall||Maclver, David (Liverpool)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (I. of Wight)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Well'sley||Smith, H C (North'mb, T'neside|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Pemberton, John S. G.||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
|Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Mitchell, William||Plummer, Walter R.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stroyan, John|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Sullivan, Donal|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Morgan, David J. (Walth'msto'||Purvis, Robert|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Murphy, John||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Ratcliff, R. F.||Tully, Jasper|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybri'ge||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Rigg, Richard||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Welby, Lt. Col. A. C. E (Tau'ton|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts)|
|O' Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, N)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Whiteley, H. (As'tonund, Lyne|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roche, John||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|O'Dowd, John||Round, James|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Hayes Fisher.|
|O'Mara, James||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stro'd||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Shipman, DR. John G.|
|Spencer, Rt. Hn C. R. (N'rthan's|
|Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Bell, Richard||Lough, Thomas|
|Brigg, John||Thomas, David Alfr'd (Merthyr|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Elibank, Master of||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Alfred Hutton and Mr. Corrie Grant.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Runciman, Walter|
§ Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make further provision with respect to education in England and Wales, and that Mr. Balfour, Sir John Gorst, Mr. Walter Long, and Mr. Attorney General do prepare and bring it in.