§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.
§ Clause 12:—
§ (2.35.) LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
moved an Amendment to substitute for the first two words of the Clause, "Any council," the words "The local education authority." He knew, he said, it was very inconvenient to band in an Amendment in writing, as he had done in this case, but he thought hon. Gentlemen would see that it had been done out of no desire to prolong the discussion. His reason for moving it was that in the Technical Instruction Acts, which were about to be repealed, the delegation or transfer of powers was dealt with in the manner he proposed. The machinery of those Acts was now quite familiar to the bodies who had the working of it; various points raised by it had been decided by the Law Courts or by correspondence with the Board of Education, and it would be well to retain the machinery. Last night, at a very late hour, some exceedingly important Amendments were placed on the Paper by the Government in the direction of taking the Technical Instruction Acts and their machinery of delegation, as a model, rather than the Lunacy Act, and he suggested 152 that the Amendment would give the Government a convenient opportunity of explaining what was the new scheme they were going to propose. There were many hon. Members who were actually unaware that these Amendments had been placed on the Paper, and he must confess he could not see why the Government should not at a much earlier stage, have indicated that it was their intention to make these large alterations. He would be the last person to criticise them because, as far as he could make out, the Government had adopted nearly the whole of the Amendment he had placed on the Paper with regard to that matter, but he was inclined to think that the discussion would have been greatly shortened had the Amendments been placed on the Paper earlier. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed—In page 4, line 26, to leave out the first two words 'any council' and insert the words 'the local education authority.'"—(Lord E. Fitzmaurice.)Question proposed, "That the words 'Any council' stand part of the clause."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY)
said the reason for the words used in the Clause was, that there were certain cases of boroughs of under 10,000, and urban districts of under 20,000 inhabitants, where there were concurrent powers which would have to be exercised under this Act, but where the body exercising those powers was not the local education authority. They used the words "Any council" in order to include these cases. As to the other point raised by the noble Lord, his hon. friend would deal with that when his Amendment was reached.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
thought they might, before commencing the discussion of the most important Clause, have an explanation from the Government of the changes they were going to make. There was a conversation on that point just before they rose last night, and no hint was then given that the Bill was going to be completely changed. So far as he understood the changes he was favourable to them, but it was due to 153 the Committee that there should be an explanation at the very commencement of the discussions on the Clause.
The question will arise on the first Amendment which stands in the name of the Secretary to the Board of Education.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
Yes, but we shall then have passed words of the Clause which we might wished to have altered. We ought not to commence discussing the Clause without knowing the complete scheme of the Government.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
said that so far as he knew there was in no quarter any desire to do otherwise than assist the Committee in understanding what the new scheme of the Government was. He thought it would be very much better that the explanation should be given before they entered on the consideration of the Clause. They did not at present know to what extent the adoption of the first few words would be consistent with the new scheme. After all, it was a matter of courtesy that they were asking at the hands of the Government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the last thing the Government desired to be lacking in was courtesy. It was a question of convenience. If the noble Lord withdrew his Amendment they could at once come to an Amendment which truly raised the question in regard to which an explanation was desired. He thought that would be the most convenient course, but still he was quite willing that the statement should be made now.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said the words "any council" raised some important points relating to other parts of the Clause. He wished to ask whether the small local authorities would have to go through all the trouble of framing a scheme exactly as the County Council had to proceed. He objected to compelling them to do so, and had supposed that the intention of the Government was to leave the smaller authorities the powers they had at the present time. They ought not to pass 154 these words until they knew whether the Government intended to alter the constitution and methods of these small authorities.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he understood the proposal was that his hon. friend should make a statement by leave of the Committee, but everyone could not discuss that statement by the leave of the Committee. He thought it would be more regular to dispose of the Amendment. Then the statement could be made and discussed by everybody.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
asked whether it was to be understood that the machinery proposed was to be inapplicable to the smaller authorities.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said the observations of the Attorney General showed that the Amendment was one of substance, and it gave the Government ail opportunity of making a statement of their policy. What was really proposed was that councils of non-county boroughs and urban districts, who had no powers except for the purposes of education other than elementary, should nevertheless be subject to these schemes. He hoped the Government would make their statement now. It would he entirely in order.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he could not assent to have the discussion on this Amendment and then go over it all again on the Amendment of his hon. friend. He was ready to come to some arrangement.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
thought the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood what they were asking. There was no desire to have the discussion on the Government proposals on this Amendment. What they desired was to be enlightened as to the character of the new proposals. The notice was placed on the Paper only at a late hour last night, and he thought it was only due to the Committee that they should have the Government statement now.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that so long as the statement was not to be discussed now it was nothing to them whether that statement was made at once, or on the Amendment to be proposed later by his hon. friend.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said what they wanted to know was the view of the Government as to the Clause as a whole. Were the Councils in these small areas to be compelled to appoint a Committee within the next twelve months, and if they failed to do so, would the Board of Education have power to step in and by Provisional Order appoint one to carry out duties which might not require to be undertaken for many years to come? How far did the Government scheme alter that position? He did not wish to pronounce any opinion on the point of procedure, but the Committee would be at great difficulty in discussing the Clause unless they first had a bird's-eye view of the remodelled scheme. Surely the Government might, in a few words, indicate the changes they were prepared to make in the Clause.
§ (2.55.) THE SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON, Oxford University)
said he understood that he was expected to make a statement as to the intentions of the Government with regard to the framing of the Clause without its now being discussed. His first Amendment was to omit the words "in the exercise of," in order to substitute the word "having." The result would be that, with the addition of another Amendment which immediately followed, the Clause would run thus:—Any Council having powers under this Act shall establish an Education Committee, or Education Committees, constituted in accordance with a scheme made by the Council and approved by the Board of Education.The Committee would observe that the reference to the rating powers was left out at this point but would reappear in the Amendment which stood farther down in his name as follows—All matters relating to the exercise by the Council of their powers under this Act shall stand referred to the Education Committee, and the Council, before exercising any such powers, shall consider the Report (if any) 156 of the Education Committee with respect to the matter in question. The Council may also delegate to the Education Committee, with or without any restrictions or conditions as they think fit, any of their powers under this Act, except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money.There could be no doubt that these Amendments would effect a distinct modification in the scheme of the relations of the Council to the Committee as they appeared in the Bill before the Committee. There was no doubt, also, that as these debates had gone on it had become plain that there was a desire in the House and in the country that the local education authority which it was proposed to establish should be an authority popularly elected and directly responsible to the ratepayers. The Government desired that it should be so. This body would have, in spite of all that might be said in its disparagement, great powers, and the Government believed that it would exercise those powers in a manner salutary to the education of the country; but they wished that it should be a popularly chosen body the Council of a county or of a borough, which should be entrusted with powers in all matters relating to education within its area. The objects of his Amendments were to make that point quite clear.
He would state what he conceived the relations between these two bodies would be. The local education authority would not act through a Committee, but it would be bound to ask the advice of the Committee. If the Committee did not advise at all, if it were unwilling to advise or incapable of advising, or if its advice—as might sometimes happen, though he believed that such instances would be very rare—should not be such as the Council thought it desirable to follow, the local education authority would act either without the advice of the Committee or contrary to it; but in any case the local education authority would be the body that would act in the matter. It might be contended that in the larger areas difficulties and delays would be occasioned if the local education authority had in every case to await the advice of its consultative committee. The Government proposed to meet that by giving very extensive powers of delegation, the amount of power delegated to be determined from time to time by 157 the local authority, and the powers delegated to be liable at any moment to modification or withdrawal. But to these powers of delegation the Government made one very important exception: The local education authority was not to be able to delegate its power of raising a rate or of borrowing money. The executive power necessarily rested with the local education authority—the Council, and the financial power must rest with it under the provisions of the Bill; but the powers of delegation, with the exception of its financial power, would be regulated by the Council's own convenience and what it conceived to be the educational requirements of its area.
He would not trouble the Committee with any constitutional comparison of the relations between this Committee and the Council and those of other Committees and other Councils. What concerned the Committee was not how this Education Committee would compare with the Watch Committee or the Standing Joint Committee and their respective Councils, but what the Government meant to do in respect of the Councils of which this Committee was the constitutional adviser. What he wished to impress upon the Committee was that the popularly chosen body was and would be supreme, but that it could delegate most of its powers, with the exception of its financial powers.
The one other point was as to the intention of the Government in respect of the composition of the Committee. The Council was to choose or appoint a majority, but it might appoint that majority from its own body, or it might not. The Government would be prepared to throw upon the Council the burden of deciding whether it would not appoint a majority of members of its own body by introducing words, making it necessary that the Council should appoint a majority of members of its own body u less it expressly determined not to do so. He would not go further into the schemes which would be submitted by the various Councils to the Education Department. No doubt much discussion might take place when the Committee came to consider the necessary provisions of those schemes. What 158 he desired to impress upon the Committee—and he hoped he had made it sufficiently clear—was that the Council was to be the local education authority, and that the Education Committee was to consist of a majority of persons chosen by the Council, and primarily, unless specially determined otherwise, from members of its own body. The Committee could now discuss the noble Lord's Amendment, and when his own Amendment came to be considered much of the explanation he had now given would be no longer necessary.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molten)
asked whether the small boroughs were to be compelled to appoint an Education Committee. In his own constituency there were two small boroughs of about 3,000 inhabitants which would be compelled under this scheme to appoint an Education Committee with all the paraphernalia of submitting schemes to the Board of Education, and so forth. That, surely, was not, the wish of the Government. If. therefore, words could be introduced to prevent such an occurrence, it would relieve the minds of those who represented small boroughs. It would certainly be absurd to appoint Committees which would perhaps have no work to do, and which, even if they did work, would do so in contravention of the wish of the Government, and would infringe the work of the County Council.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the reason why these words—which undoubtedly included small as well as large boroughs—had been introduced was, that the Government confidently expected that those boroughs would work in with t he County Council so far as their own work was concerned. Such co-operation would probably be much easier between the Education Committee of the county authority and the Education Committee of the small borough than by direct negotiations between the boroughs and the County Councils.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
said the answer of the Attorney General had undoubtedly shown that there was substance as well as drafting in the Amendment which he had moved with the feeling that it was one the Government would probably accept. All he desired to do was to bring the first words of the Clause into harmony with the local education authority as defined in Clause 1, being under the impression that the Government intended that the only real education authorities should be those mentioned in that Clause. He admitted that he was one of those who pressed on the Government the claims in regard to a certain limited class of questions, of the smaller boroughs and Urban Councils, but he certainly never contemplated that the smaller authorities should blossom forth in the full dignity of local education authorities. It now appeared, however, that the Government intended Clause 3—the drafting of which would have to be reconsidered on Report—to be pressed to the full extent of recognising these smaller authorities as the local education authorities for all purposes.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
was convinced that the County Councils Association only desired to save the rating power possessed by these small places under the Technical Instruction Acts, and which had been found to be most useful. It never entered their minds that they should be the local education authority. If the Government meant more than he had supposed, they had a good reason for rejecting the Amendment, but his idea in moving it was that the Government wished to make only the County, and the County Borough Councils local education authorities, and that, therefore, they would be able to accept his proposal.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire. E.)
said that since the Bill 160 was originally drafted, an important alteration had been made in Clause 3, and the words had a much extended meaning. The substantial question arose of whether every small borough, whether it intended to exercise its powers under Clause 3 or not, should have imposed upon it the obligation of appointing an Education Committee. It was essential that such an obligation should be put upon every local education authority, but surely in the case of these small boroughs it might be optional. Many small towns were willing enough to contribute a certain amount of money to meet money provided by the central authority for the purposes of certain institutions within their own borders, but it was quite unnecessary to put them under this obligation.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
was inclined to support the Government as against the noble Lord, although the Amendment undoubtedly had much to be said for it. The Government had placed themselves in the present difficulty by not really facing on Clause 3 the question of the relative position of the smaller areas to the county in respect of secondary education. If they intended to adhere to the position as laid down in Clause 3, what had fallen from the First Lord of the Treasury was the logical outcome of the situation. He thought, however, there was a third and much wiser course. Could not the Government, even now, with regard to these smaller areas, devise a subordinate local autonomy suited to the exercise of certain limited powers with regard to, both elementary and secondary education? If the Government would face the problem of bringing these smaller areas into logical co-ordination with the work of the County Councils, and in some way secure autonomy with regard to both branches of education, they would effect a material improvement in the Bill.
§ MR. BRYCE
said that he had been much impressed by what had been said by the First Lord of the Treasury, that it might be desirable where these authorities were willing to rate themselves with other boroughs or counties to have a combined scheme, and that 161 might have the effect of putting a larger sum at the disposal of the joint authority for educational work. If this view were accepted the best course to adopt would be to follow out the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Somerset, and accept the Amendment moved by the noble Lord to insert a proviso which would enable these minor areas, where they proposed to rate themselves, and where there was a prospect of union, to ask the Board of Education to give them a Committee, and allow them to enter into the joint scheme of action which the right hon. Gentleman contemplated. He hoped the Government would consider that suggestion.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
hoped that at some other stage of the Bill the Govern merit would take some steps to bring about a union of these small areas. He was perfectly certain that the working of the authorities for these small areas would not be satisfactory. They were deficient in money, and had not sufficient influence to command efficient service, and they laboured under all those disadvantages and disabilities which belonged to minor authorities. It would be far more satisfactory if this Clause was confined to the larger authorities. It would be far better to achieve this result by direct action now, instead of leaving to some small authority which would take considerable time, and delay the operation of the Bill.
§ (3.20.) SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he was not quite sure what kind of parishes would be included under Clause 3. There were a large number which had been made urban districts, but which were in fact small rural parishes. These small parishes were familiar to some hon. Members, for they were very thick in some counties, although in others they did not exist at all. These small parishes ought not to be brought under machinery appeared of this kind, because the tiling would have to be a dead letter, or else those parishes would be put to a large expense which they were quite unable to undertake.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY
said what he understood from the discussion was that where the authority had control of 162 elementary as well as higher education, they ought to establish a committee there, but where the authority had only control of elementary education this proposal should not touch it. It did seem ridiculous that they should be compelled to establish a committee which might not get to work for a very long time. Where there was one single authority fully constituted, it should he made compulsory to form a committee, but in the case of the small parishes they should not be compelled to set up committees until they found it was necessary. If it were merely a question of providing an extra £50 or £100 he could understand the County Council "We will give you so much if you will provide the remainder." Was there any necessity to establish a committee in a case of this description, whereas if they were to undertake more extended operations they could establish a committee for that purpose. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he should carry out his original idea. This difficulty had arisen over the acceptance of an Amendment. Let them have for the large areas the one authority acting through committee and in the supplementary areas let them have power to appoint a committee, or leave it alone, according to the needs of the locality.
DR. MACNAAIARA (Camberwell, N.)
said they had introduced under the Bill over 800 small parishes, each of which would be compelled to send a scheme up to the Education Department for the constitution of an authority. He thought the suggestion made by the hon. Member for North West Ham was a happy way out of the difficulty. If under Clause 3 as modified they had no power over elementary education, and could only spend up an extra penny they ought not to be compelled to set up a scheme for the control of higher education upon winch they might not be spending any rummy for years.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said there to be no difference of opinion in regard to the principle of this proposal on this or the other side of the House. They were all agreed that they must have a Committee in every case where elementary education was concerned, for they could not work the Bill without one. He thought they were all agreed that there probably 163 were cases in which the Borough Council was not the authority for elementary education, where it would nevertheless be desirable that they should be. He confessed that upon this subject he had been impressed by the arguments which had fallen from hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. He agreed that in some cases the proposal was almost too elaborate for the trifling purposes for which it would lie used. He was disposed to think that the case would be met by the suggestion of the hon. Member for North West Ham, which left sufficient latitude to the authorities to appoint these Committees where it was desirable, and left it optional where it was not desirable that they should be appointed.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan-shire, Mid)
said they ought to be informed whether the Government thought it was advisable or necessary that these small places should have any Committee at all. He agreed with the hon. Member for North West Ham in regard to confining the operation of this Clause to districts and boroughs already created as authorities for elementary education as well as secondary education. The Prime Minister agreed that the appointment of these committees ought not to be made compulsory upon these small bodies, and it was worth while considering whether they ought to have this power at all, because it would encourage the establishment of committees for which no reason could be alleged. In many cases a committee was not necessary, because they could entrust the work to sub-committees of the larger bodies. He did not think it was necessary to give even permissive powers to these small places.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
said the suggestion of the hon. Member for North West Ham was in accordance with suggestions which had been made from this side of the House, and they would accept it.
The words proposed by the hon. Member for North West Ham express, I think, in a general sense what the Committee is disposed to agree to. At the same time I think difficulty may 164 arise on the words, because if you state that any Council having powers under Part III. of the Act shall appoint a committee, it might be said that the inference is that the committee appointed is solely with reference to the powers to he exercised under Part III. I think it is desirable that it should be made very clear, and what I would suggest is that it would be better dealt with by a proviso—I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen made a suggestion of that kind—at a subsequent stage for carrying into effect what the hon. Member for North West Ham has suggested.
§ MR. A. BALFOUR
hoped the Committee would now go on to the next Amendment. They were all agreed on the substance of what was suggested.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
What course does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take with regard to the Amendment?
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said he was not at all sure that the Committee were agreed as to the substance, but as the matter would be discussed afterwards he would not go into it now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 4, line 26, to leave out the words 'in the exercise of,' and insert the word 'having.'"—(Sir William Anson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'in the exercise of' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. WHITLEY
said he wished to point out how the change proposed by the Government affected the question the Committee had just been discussing. The change would bring about the difficulty they wished to avoid. If the words "in the exercise of" were left in the Clause, the question the Government had just now undertaken to deal with would be very much simplified, because it would not be necessary then for every one of 165 the smaller Councils to appoint a committee and to apply for a scheme until they had begun to exercise powers other than rating powers.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Question, "That the word 'having' be there inserted," put and agreed to.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
moved to leave out "shall" and insert "may'' in line 27. He said that some of his objections to the compulsory won "shall" would be to the taken away if he was right in thinking that the Government, by the rather complicated Amendment which would be proposed later on, really meant that the County Council was to he absolutely its own master. Reference was made to the Standing Joint Committee, but the Parliamentary Secretary did not say whether it was the intention of the Government that there should be a similar committee for education. He understood that the committee referred to in the Clause was to be under the control of the County Council, and that the County Council should have absolute control over its constitution. He asked the Government what was their objection to leaving it to the discretion of the County Council to appoint, or not to appoint, an education committee as they should see fit. There might be eases where a County Council or a small Borough Council would think it unnecessary to appoint a committee. It appeared to him that the Government had modified their scheme in such a way as to show absolute distrust of the County Councils. Clause 4 of the Bill provided that the Board of Education might hold, if they thought fit, a local inquiry to find out whether the scheme proposed by a County Council or Town Council was one approved of by the locality. That seemed very curious indeed. Looking to the general scheme of the Bill, there was no doubt that the object of the Government was to make the Country Council the creature of the Education Department. The representatives of the Government talked in this House of decentralisation, and of making the system of education suited to the different localities, but when the Bill was examined it seemed perfectly certain that the Board of Education 166 were to be the real masters. It might be that the Board of Education would insist upon a scale of salaries to be paid to the teachers. He thought it would be satisfactory if they had a Schedule to the Bill showing what was to be done by the Board of Education. As the Bill stood, the Board of Education might make any rule they liked, and force up the local rate to any extent. No doubt they had got some power, but if the County Council objected, all that the Board of Education had to do was to sit tight for twelve months, then send down County Council their scheme, and order it to be carried out. His argument was that they should trust the County Councils in this matter and put in "may" instead of "shall," so as to allow them to act as a body if they liked.
In page 4, line 27, to leave out the word 'shall' in order to insert the word 'may.'"—(Sir Edward Strachey.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'shall' stand part of the Clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said he was afraid it was very difficult to relieve some hon. Gentlemen opposite from the pressure of the nightmare under which they laboured in regard to this Bill. They though t that the Bill was designed entirely with a view of hampering and embarrass-in, the local authority, and that it was inspired by a distrust of the local authority in every direction, and with the desire to work everything under the control of the Board of Education; while the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board was a sort of ghostly enemy to education, lying in ambush everywhere to thwart the education ambitions of every locality. The hon. Gentleman in the first place said that it was a great insult to the County Councils that their schemes should be published, and that there should be public inquiry in regard to them before they were approved by the Board of Education. There were different kinds of inquiry conducted by various Departments, and he had never heard that any local authority had considered itself aggrieved or insulted by these inquiries. Then, as to leaving it optional to the local authority to appoint the committee, the hon. Gentleman forgot 167 that the committee would he the humble servants of the local authority. Again, County Councils were not elected specially for educational matters, and some of them might not be the best authorities on education. It was, therefore, desirable that the local authority-should be assisted by the advice of persons of experience in education, and acquainted with the needs of the various kinds of schools in the area for which the Councils acted, and that it should be incumbent upon them to appoint a committee or committees. Moreover, there were various persons, women in particular, who could not sit on Municipal Councils, and if the Amendment was adopted they would be left out of all consideration and have no voice in the educational affairs of the area. For that reason alone, unless the hon. Member wished to exclude finally from all consideration those persons who took a deep interest in education, this Amendment was hardly worthy of consideration. How would the committee be the masters of the local authority, and not the servants, when, if their action was not approved by the local authority, their appointment might be revoked?
§ (3.33.) MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
hoped that his hon. friend would not press his Amendment to a division, or if he did he would vote against it. Parliament was throwing a. large amount of extra work on those Councils, and nearly all of them would devolve the educational work on committees. In this matter of education it was necessarily most important that the local authorities should avail themselves of the help of outsiders, and particularly of the assistance of women, whose help had been in the past so important. Then there were some local authorities who would not avail themselves of the option, because they did not want any schemes of educational reform at all.
MR. M`KENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said he did not think the hon. Baronet understood the point, of his hon. friend who moved the Amendment. The greater the merits of the committee, the more likelihood that the County Councils would appoint such a committee, and he quite agreed that in 168 the great majority of cases the local authorities would be desirous of having a special committee. But the Amendment did not exclude the appointment of a committee—only that they should have the power to appoint or not as they pleased. The Bill as amended laid it down that the County Councils "shall" appoint a committee or committees and that the County Councils shall refer certain matters for their consideration and report. Suppose a County Council disliked a committee, it might say if the appointment were made imperative, "Oh, we will appoint a dozen committees if you like." But when the committee reported a scheme to the. County Council the report would be put into the waste-paper basket. There was no power in the Bill to compel the County Council to act on the committee's report. It was desirable therefore to put in the forefront of the Bill that the appointment of the commit tee should be optional. It was idle to disturb an unwilling County Council, and insist that they should appoint a committee, when that committee, once appointed, would have no power to see that their report was acted on. He agreed that the appointment, of those committees would probably be very useful, but there were cases in small boroughs and urban districts—he knew of one—where it would be, to his mind, undesirable to act through a committee. Where there was a small centralised population, with a population of 10,000 or 20,000, if the Councils were obliged to appoint a committee, it would be very difficult to get a committee which would be as good as the Council itself. As to the statement of the hon. Member for Oldham, that the County Councils and the Borough Councils were already overburdened with work, well, in such a case the Councils would, as a matter of course, take advantage of the option in the Bill and appoint a committee. Therefore he would suggest that it would be wiser, when they were establishing a single educational authority, that as Dutch responsibility and authority should he given them is possible, and not to limit them in the way proposed.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said he was entirely in favour of the Amendment, because it would give greater elasticity 169 to the working of the Bill. In no case would the County Council or Borough Council be shut out from the exercise of the power. The Secretary to the Board of Education had said that if the Amendment were carried the power would be taken away to appoint women on the committee. That did not follow at all from the Amendments, for women could be on a committee appointed by the County Council. When it came to small local authorities, like a borough of 10,000 inhabitants, it would be most convenient, in his opinion, that the Borough Council should act as the Education Committee. Under the scheme of the Bill the Borough Councils were hound to appoint a committee, all the members of which might not even be resident within the borough. He was entirely against the scheme of the Bill, and thought that the power of the educational authority should be absolutely unfettered. Under the Bill of 1896, one third of the committee had to retire, but were eligible for re-election; and it could not be contended that that was not a proper provision. Under the present Bill, the scheme might be cut and dried, and there might no provision for the retirement of any part of the committee; and therefore, however in competent or inattentive the members may be, it would be impossible to supersede them. If, however, the Amendment were adopted, the local authority would be allowed to constitute itself a committee for the purposes of the Act, and would be persons who would, now and again, have to submit themselves for re-election. While he believed that it would be advisable in most cases, and he might say even in all cases, that committees should be appointed, he was strongly in favour of the Amendment, because it would give greater elasticity.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said he should certainly vote against the Amendment. It had been made perfectly clear that the local authority would have supreme and absolute power, and that the committee would be of an advisory character, and in that capacity it would be of the greatest value. It had been pointed out that women could be members of the committee; and he thought it was also desirable that it should contain representatives of the teachers. The County Councils, in framing a scheme, would be 170 very glad to have the opinions and representations of all the persons that would be affected. Further, the provisions empowering the County Council to put on the committee persons nominated by other bodies, was a very valuable one, as it would secure in the framing of the scheme the opinions of all classes in the area affected. He believed that the appointment of the committee would do much to produce a scheme of real force, and he would therefore oppose the Amendment.
§ MR. COUETENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said that if he understood the Amendment as the hon. Member who had just spoken understood it, he should certainly vote against it. But it would not do away with the appointment of the committee it all. In ninety-nine cases out of every hundred committees would be appointed; but the Amendment would apply in a few cases of small boroughs with only 10,000 inhabitants or a little more, and of small urban districts with only 20,000 inhabitants, or a little more, where committees would be a great inconvenience. He thought the local authority should be given the power not to appoint a hut the Amendment would not prevent the appointment of a committee. In the great County Councils all the work was done through committees; and committees would be appointed; but in the smaller Councils it would be very difficult to find a useful and efficient committee. In such cases he thought that the County Councils ought to have the power of doing the work themselves, and should not be forced to appoint a committee, which necessarily must be rather inefficient in consequence of the fewness of the persons to choose from. The Amendment would not prevent the appointment of a committee in all places where a committee would he good and necessary; but in the few cases where a committee would be injurious, it would enable the local authority to act themselves. He hoped the Amendment would be accepted.
§ SIR WILLIAM MATHER (Lanchshire, Rossendale)
said he would ask his hon. friend to withdraw the Amendment, which he did not think could conduce in the least to the power or authority which the new local education authority ought to have in the 171 small boroughs. He had the honour to represent a Lancashire constituency in which there were three small boroughs, two of which had School Boards. Speaking for those boroughs, he was quite sure the first thing they ought to do in relation to the new Act was to enforce on the local authority so constituted the obligation of at once forming executive committees. He thought it would be detrimental to the interests of education that the word "shall" should be taken out. Though lie did not agree with the scheme of the Bill, he believed the first step towards replacing the School Boards now existing in the small towns ought to be made imperative upon the districts by Act of Parliament.
§ MR. CHANNING
asked, if the Amendment were negatived and the word "shall" retained, would that prejudice the proviso suggested by the hon. Member for North West Ham, which he strongly supported?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that, subject to the ruling of the Chair, he thought that the retention of the word "shall" would not prejudice the proviso.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division, and the Chairman stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was frivolously claimed, and he accordingly directed the Noes to stand up in their places, and three Members having stood up, the Chairman declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Names of the Minority taken down in the House:—