HC Deb 07 April 1903 vol 120 cc1261-333

I rise to ask leave of the House to introduce a Bill to extend and adapt the provisions of the Education Act of 1902 to London. I wish I could have asked it simply to extend the provisions of the Education Act of 1902 to London. My task, though perhaps not uncontentious, would then have been to some extent simplified. But the circumstances of London are such that a mere extension of the Act of last session to London would have had somewhat unexpected results. The whole area of the administrative County of London is covered with great boroughs which have recently acquired all the paraphernalia of municipal government, not technically qualified under the Act of 1902 to assume the autonomy given to the county boroughs, and, to some extent, to non-county boroughs and urban districts, but still in such a position, of such a size, of so high a rateable value, and of so great an extent of population that it would have been practically impossible to ignore these boroughs in any Education Bill for London. Supposing we had applied the Act of last session and passed over the boroughs in absolute silence, I think that Camberwell and Westminster might fairly have said, "Why are we to be treated as if we were non existent, when Wimbledon and Chiswick have a considerable measure of autonomy, and are making their own committees and conducting their elementary education, and, to some extent, their secondary education?" Supposing we had taken another course. Supposing these boroughs had been technically in a position which would have enabled them to take over the rights and duties of the boroughs under the Act of 1902. What, then, would have been the position of the London County Council? The only thing to which I might compare it would be the position of some feudal king or emperor of the Middle Ages, with a titular sovereignty extending over a vast area, entirely engrossed and covered by great feudal lords as important as and sometimes more formidable than himself, or so wholly independent that this titular sovereignty was little more, if anything more, than a shadow. I think the London County Council would hardly have thanked this House for placing them in such a position—a position in which they would have found a number of the great boroughs around them absolutely independent and having powers of secondary education over a certain number of boroughs within their area. But if that would have been the unsatisfactory effect on the County Council, what would have been its effect on the education of London? I pass over the difficulties which the boroughs, unused to educational duties, would have encountered in the region of secondary education and in dealing with the miscellaneous resources which they would find at their disposal in each different borough area. But in the region of elementary education London has been governed as a whole for more than thirty years. There has grown up an elaborate, highly-organised organisation—the organisation of the London School Board. Would it have been possible to break up that organisation and distribute it among the boroughs, asking them to work out such a scheme of elementary education as they could from the particular fragment that happened to be assigned to them? Would that have been fair to the boroughs, and would it have been fair to the children of London? The School Board of London, if it has done nothing else, has made one authority for London, at any rate for elementary education, a necessity in the educational government of London.

I take it, then, as the basis of the discussion that there must be one authority for London. How are we to acquire that authority? We may have an authority directly constituted for the purpose, or, to use a convenient barbarism of the day, we may have an ad hoc body. You may have an ad hoc authority in two ways—by direct election or by the composition of a suitable body for that particular purpose. I think a body constituted for a particular purpose may fairly be called a body constituted ad hoc. I refer at this moment to the form of ad hoc which is obtained by the process of direct popular election. It has been stated in this House, and elsewhere, that the proper way to get an educational authority in London is to work upon the lines of the School Board, abolish the cumulative vote, multiply the electoral areas, and take your directly-elected authority for all educational purposes. I propose to offer some criticisms upon that process of constituting an educational body; but I desire to guard myself in this, that I do not wish, in any words which I may use in disparagement of a directly-elected body, to be supposed to be drawing a moral from the School Board. The vaulting ambition which resulted in the Cockerton judgment, and which has brought the London School Board so prominently before the notice of the House in recent years, was clearly not the result of direct election. If I might venture to hazard a reason for that action of the School Board, it would be that the School Board—and I, for one, do not blame them—have put into force a maxim, which, in the earlier days of our legal system, was used to great advantage in the development of English law, the maxim boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem. The School Board, feeling itself competent, enlarged the bounds of its jurisdiction—unhappily, enlarged them beyond the bounds of the law—and the Cockerton judgment was the result. I put that aside as not by any means the result of the direct popular composition of the London School Board. But I think that direct election does lead to certain unfortunate characteristics with an educational body. The first of them is that, if such a body is worth anything, it is bound to be an extravagant body. You get a body of persons elected for a particular purpose—for the education of London. You get them divorced from all other financial considerations except those which arise in connection with their educational work; and, as in the case of the London School Board, they have a blank cheque on the ratepayers. Surely, if such a body, having these powers, really cares about its work, it is necessarily, properly, inevitably an extravagant body. I can only say this, that if the Board of Education were cut adrift from the financial arrangements of the country, were freed from all Parliamentary and Treasury control, and were given a free hand upon the Consolidated Fund, I feel certain, at any rate, so long as I retain a position at that Board, my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would pass wakeful nights and anxious days considering how he was to explain to the taxpayer and to console him for the inroads which I should certainly make on the financial resources of the country.

Then, again, a directly-elected body, I think, does tend to over-centralisation. You get a body of persons elected for a particular purpose, anxious to carry out that particular purpose, confident that no one can carry it out so well as themselves. The result is that nothing can be done over a vast area without the direct authority of this body, which supervises the education of the area. As a result there is delay, there are defects of administration, and there is what is far more important—the loss of local interest, the loss of all the resources which you might draw upon if you decentralised your work and shared your duties and your power with the places which are in more immediate connexion with the various educational centres scattered about all over the area. But there is a more serious objection. Would a directly-elected authority give you what you want? In elementary education I do not think this has been felt so much, partly because the cumulative vote enabled certain denominational interests to be represented on the London School Board and partly because the whole question of elementary education for most purposes, at the election of the School Board, turned on the simple issue of whether more or less should be spent. But if you are to constitute an authority for the whole of London for all educational purposes, you want to secure the representation of a great variety of interests, you want to secure that every type of education shall find its place, that none shall be neglected, and that your authority shall fairly co-ordinate University, secondary (both higher and lower), and elementary education, and shall work out a scheme of technological education and the training of teachers, covering that wide field which we are constantly dealing with at the Board of Education in our relations with County and Borough Councils all over the country. Are you likely to get that out of a directly-elected body? Is the average ratepayer likely to be induced to vote for A, whom he does not know at all, as against B, whom he knows very slightly, because A, represents technology or the training of teachers, and that element is much wanted on the local education authority? I do not think that this process of election would get what you want. It would not be possible to assist such a body by adding experts to its numbers; because it would fairly say, "We are elected for the sole purpose of conducting the education of London. What need have we of expert or other information?" And not only would you not get what you want, you might very likely get what you do not want. In a general election for educational purposes, conducted over a vast area, and with an electorate not specially versed or interested in the subject matter in hand, you might get London swept by some wave of religious controversy. You might get some professional interest, some particular need of the teacher, made a predominant factor in an election of the educational authority, and you might get a body of men and women returned who would prefer some non-educational consideration to everything else that might be brought forward, and read that into every topic under discussion. The voter at an election of this sort might vote for a candidate because of his political sympathies; or because of his religious sympathies; he might vote for him on social grounds, because he knows him to be a good sort of man; or he might vote for him on professional grounds—because you must bear in mind that one influence is constantly and persistently brought to bear, the influence of the teachers and of their union, which, whether good or bad, is always with us and is always active in the assertion of the teachers' interests. There is another question the consideration of which runs rather counter to the acceptance of a directly-elected authority.

I have said the voter will not always or often vote on educational considerations. There is yet the question whether he will vote at all. At the last School Board election not above 18 per cent. of the electorate went to the poll. I believe that was a slack time and that the average percentage is 25. I have heard it said in these discussions on education authorities what a great stimulus is given to a man who cares about education if he is placed on a board or council, or whatever it may be, as the result of direct popular election and knows he has the voice of the people at his back. Supposing I was a candidate, which I never have been, at a School Board election, and that I really care, as I do care, about education, what stimulus would it offer to me to reflect that in this matter, which I really had at heart, more than 80 per cent. of the electorate had not taken the trouble to go to the poll. I think really that the results, the figures of the School Board elections, go a long way to condemn, for that one reason, a directly-elected authority for London. From what I have said it will be seen that I do not propose to recommend a directly-elected authority, and that in consequence one object of this Bill will be the abolition of the School Board. Do not let it be supposed that I am not aware of the importance or the responsibility of such a step. The School Board has many enemies, but I have never been one; the School Board has some faults, but when I have touched upon them I hope it has been lightly. No one can go about among the great board schools of London and not become aware that the School Board has placed under an immense obligation the children and the parents of the children of London. I say frankly that I feel the full responsibility of advocating a measure which has for one of its purposes the abolition of the School Board. I should not be here to do it if I were not confident that I can submit to the House a body better constituted and better designed for the work which there is for it to do. I said there was another mode of constituting an ad hoc authority. It has been suggested that the education of London should be launched in a twin ship with the Water Board, and that a body could be constituted on the lines of the Water Board which would effectively deal with the education of London. I am fully aware, and I am prepared to maintain, that you could get a very good education authority on those lines; but I do not propose to recommend to the House a departure from the policy which the Government laid down last year on the subject of education—namely, that education should be linked with municipal government. I have set aside the boroughs, the directly elected authority, and a Board like the Water Board; and I come to the London County Council.

The object of this Bill is to place the London County Council to a great extent in the position in which councils are placed under the Act of 1902. The distinct, the cardinal feature of the Bill is to make education a part of our municipal institutions; and, in explaining the mode in which we attacked this problem, having regard to the conditions of London, I propose to go through, briefly and in outline, the changes which it will be necessary to make in the Act of last year. The London County Council is the local education authority for London. In Part II. of the Act the London County Council will have the rating powers of the county boroughs. The boroughs cannot rate themselves, with the exception of Woolwich. So far as Part II. of the Act is concerned, the change is slight; and the London County Council, with the great resources which are present in London, with the technical instruction money, with the large contributions which it receives from the trustees of parochial charities and other sources, will have no difficulty, I hope, in extending the work of Technical Instruction Committees to meet the requirements of London as far as secondary education is concerned. Now I come to Part III. The local education authority, as in the Act of last session, takes the place of the School Board and the Technical Education Committee. We make no change in its general powers, but there is a change in the matter of management. The voluntary schools will remain in precisely the same relation to the local authority as they do under the Act of 1902. In the matter of Council schools we propose to attempt a certain amount of decentralisation. The School Board managers have had practically no administrative power whatever, although they have exercised an admirable influence in visiting schools, in establishing friendly relations with the teacher, with the children, and with the parents of the children, and in that way have very largely promoted the good attendance of the children and the easy working of the schools. We want to avoid this centralisation; we want to avoid a condition of things in which not a pane of glass falls to the ground but it must be made known to the central office on the Thames Embankment, with all the delay necessary to such a gradual process of getting repairs attended to. Therefore we propose to give the management of the Council schools to the Borough Councils. The Borough Councils will be subject to the general directions of the local education authority, who will have the control and general direction of education. We propose to give to the Borough Councils the general management subject to this, and we propose to give them the appointment and the dismissal of the teacher, the custody of buildings, and where a new school is to be provided, subject to the determination by the local authority of the area to be provided for and the amount to be expended, the selection of the site. The Borough Councils will have the power to exercise their management through committees, consisting wholly or partly of persons who are not members of the councils, and in this way we shall retain the assistance of the existing managers who have done such useful work in the past. The Borough Councils will form their committee to deal with their respective schools or groups of schools, but the persons who manage the schools will be responsible to the ratepayers. I hope we shall thus get, through the agency of the committee, the continued assistance of persons who have worked on the management of the schools in the past, while we shall have the central control and general direction of the local education authority. In that way we hope to diminish the existing centralisation of the School Board system and to excite local interest and patriotism. We hope also that in this way we shall secure that the management of the schools will be as efficient as ever it was under the School Board, and that there shall be more local connection with the area the school represents, and more interest created among the ratepayers.

There are two other matters to which I ought to refer before I pass from this subject and which deserve the attention of the House. It was frequently asked in our debates last session what was the definition of "management." Management is no doubt a difficult thing to define. Certain things are obviously control, while others areas obviously management. There may be a border line between the two which may lead to differences of opinion; and we propose that, if such differences of opinion arise and there is a dispute between the local education authority and the Borough Council, a report shall be made to the Board of Education, who will determine it, and who, I think, are quite capable of determining what is management and what is control in the particular circumstances of the case. There is yet another important matter. It is possible that management may not always be properly conducted. It is conceivable that a council or a committee of a council may be negligent in the discharge of its duties in respect to management. We make provision, if that is the case, that the local education authority should come in and, with the consent of the Board of Education, assume the management and take care that its own directions are carried into effect.

I now come to a more important part of the subject—the scheme for the constitution of the committees. There, again, we are impressed with the importance of associating with the local education authority all interested in the conduct of the educational work of London and of providing the County Council with the fullest assistance in the conduct of its business. There are thus various elements to be taken into account, the boroughs, the interests to which I will allude presently, the experience of the School Board and the County Council itself. Now it cannot be denied that the boroughs have taken some interest, considerable interest, both in the work of the County Council and in the work of the education of London. There are, I believe, about one-fifth of the London County Council who are also members of Borough Councils, and the technical instruction committee of the County Council has, I think, seven members of Borough Councils upon it. Of the School Board, again, one-fifth of the members are members of Borough Councils. The Borough Councils desire to be represented on this committee; and we propose that each Borough Council should send one member, Westminster and the City of London sending two. Then I come to the various other interests. There are persons who should be parties to the educational administration of London whose advice should be valuable to the London County Council, but who would not be there naturally as members of Borough Councils or as members of the County Council. In the first place, we must find room for women upon the education committee. The number of women on the London School Board is now, I think, as large as eleven, though it has been, I believe, as low as two. There ought certainly to be women who will represent all types of education on this education committee. Then there are the voluntary schools, who may wish to be represented on the education authority. That desire, I may say, has been fully and generously recognised by councils in the country in the formation of their committees, so far as they have gone. There are, then, the great educa- tional bodies in London, the University of London, and the various types of public schools and separate institutions, and, lastly, there are the great contributories to London education, such as the trustees of parochial charities and the City guilds. We therefore think that not less than twenty-five places should be reserved on the Committee for persons of these descriptions, the experts, the women, the voluntary schools' representatives, and the great contributories I have referred to. Then it is desirable that, at any rate for some years, the County Council should have the benefit of some of the experience of the London School Board; and we propose with regard to these two bodies, the experts and the London School Board, that, as regards the experts, the London County Council shall form a scheme setting out the number in which each interest shall be represented and the mode in which the representation shall be obtained for the purpose of appointing these twenty five persons; and we propose that it should also elect five members of the existing School Board to hold office on this Committee for the first five years.


Will they form part of the twenty-five?


No, these five will be in addition. There will always be twenty-five experts, and for five years there will be five members of the existing School Board. Then we propose to ask the London County Council to contribute thirty-six members to the Committee. For the first five years, then, this body will number ninety-seven. The question is whether it is too large or too small. I am somewhat fortified in this connection by looking at the Report of the Secondary Education Commission, who laid it down that for the management of the secondary education of London a body of forty-two would be necessary. I then add the number of the School Board, fifty-five, and so reach the number of ninety-seven; and, as the work of the Committee will be considerably larger than the work of the School Board and will include secondary education, I come to the conclusion that out of this ninety-seven persons the Committee cannot spare a single man or woman, having regard to the work they have to do. Then as to the popular character of the Committee. Of that body seventy-two members will be the result of election by the people. The Borough Councillors, the County Councillors, and the members of the School Board will all owe their places on the Committee to election by the people of London.




Not directly for the purposes of education. As to the representation the London County Council will have on the Committee, I think that will not be said to be unimportant seeing that sixty-six Members of the Committee will be appointed in one way or another by the London County Council. I will not trouble the House with the detailed amendments to the Act of 1902 that will be necessary—they are small and of a drafting character—to adapt this Bill to London. There is only one other matter in which we depart from the tenor of the Act, and that is in the appointed day. The Borough Council elections take place in November and the County Council elections in March. We could hardly press for the operation of this scheme between the Borough Council elections and the County Council election. We therefore propose to fix in the Act May 1, 1904, as the appointed day, with the power which exists in the Act of last year to postpone the appointed day if circumstances make it desirable. I hope I have sufficiently indicated the lines of the Bill to enable the House to give mo leave to bring it in. I hope, also, I have indicated the policy, the educational policy of his Majesty's Government as shown in the Act of last year and the Bill I am now bringing in. The force of that policy was sometimes lost sight of in our debates last session. We spent much time in the discussion of religious teaching and the domestic economy of voluntary schools and it was somewhat overlooked that there underlay those discussions a great educational purpose—namely, the co-ordination of all forms of education under one authority and the linking up of the education of the country with our municipal institutions. We aim at these great objects—to place all forms of education under one authority, to bring all forms of education within the reach of all, and to make education a part of municipal duty. We are Hearing, I hope, the completion of this policy. I hope that hon. Member's cheers will be justified by the result, and that the education of the country will be no longer the result of the sporadic and variable efforts of School Boards and voluntary associations and technical instruction committees, of bodies of trustees and private enterprise, but that it will be a part of our municipal life. I believe that time is approaching, and that then we shall find that the care for the training of the children and the youth of this country, in body as well as in mind, has struck its root deep into our municipal institutions and become a part of the very life of the people.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to extend and adapt the Education Act, 1902, to London."—(Sir William Anson.)


I propose to state in the most plain and frank and unreserved manner, my opinion of the Bill, whose provisions have been so well explained to the House by the hon. Gentleman; but before I speak of the Bill, there is something else which I think deserves a word or two of notice. This Bill may be a memorable and notable Bill in the history of educational government, but the speech that we heard from the Treasury Bench marks an epoch certainly more remarkable; because the hon. Gentleman in his ardour against School Boards and against any form of ail hoc administration, treated us to a homily against representative government, more sweeping, more trenchant, more uncompromising, than anything that we have heard in this House since the days of the Reform Bill. The hon. Gentleman covered any School Board system—any directly-elected system of government—with his objections and his denunciations. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] He went over a list of their defects. He said they are necessarily extravagant. So is the House of Commons. One of the defects we admit in the House of Commons is that it is tending to be an extravagant body. Then he says the average elector, for whom he has evidently no great regard—[MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh!"]—is unable to discern between the good educationist and the bad educationist. A is a pleasant, agreeable person; B is a wonder when he gets upon the subject of technical education; the electors choose A. What does the Parliamentary elector do? He says you cannot get experts elected. Exactly what we hear when the best authorities on the Army and the Navy and all the different topics dealt with in the Departments of State cannot get into the House of Commons, and we have all to get our information at second-hand from unknown people outside. That is a great blemish, we are told, on our system. And then he says, as the last I have noted of the serious objections to this dreadful idea of direct representation in the matter of education, that London would be swept occasionally by religious controversy. Is there any representative body in the country that is not liable to the faults which the hon. Gentleman pointed out, and is there any of them more conspicuously liable to them than the House of Commons itself? I did not think I should live to hear such a sweeping denunciation of the very system under which we live. ["Oh!"] But I am bound to say it is only a frank utterance by the hon. Gentleman,—who, I think, had not been properly coached in the due reserve that ought to be maintained in such a matter—only the direct utterance of the natural sentiment we have been able to trace in a great deal of the legislation of the present Government.

Now, Sir, coming to the Bill, the announcement of its provisions has been waited for with the utmost interest and anxiety, and I would at once say that the proposals of the Government appear to me to exceed the worst fears of those who looked for a bold, consistent, effective, permanent solution of the problem. Now, Sir, I think it is worth while to recall the attention of the House to the magnitude of the problem. London is not merely a little spot on the surface of England which happens to have been omitted by accident or otherwise from the Bill of last year. What are the statistics affecting the work of this School Board of the Metropolis which you are going to destroy? Does the House realise that whatever authority is created under a Bill of this sort will have to be responsible for the daily care and guardianship of a number of people—of souls, shall I say, their bodies are but small—of future citizens exceeding the population of the largest of our municipal towns. Then there is this further consideration—that the duties the authority has to undertake are more vast and more trying than those under taken by any other such body on the face of the earth. In the year ended 25th March, 1902 the children on the books of the School Board were 546,370, and in average attendance, 462,840; and the teachers on the staff, 11,235. But the new authority will also have with the voluntary schools on its hands, 210,000 in addition. Therefore it will be responsible for the school accommodation, attendance, and training of 750,000 children in elementary education. But then, in addition, it will have the work of intermediate and superior, secondary and technical education, which, I suppose, may be put as contributing another 250,000 students, so that 1,000,000 of persons will be under the guardianship of this London school authority. Why, Sir, these figures are simply stupendous; and we must remember also the peculiar nature of their relationship, which is practically a relationship of guardians over children, and also their personal relations with the great body of teachers. These are matters which cannot be tested by figures or reduced to statistical form at all. Nothing in the whole sphere of municipal administration, I venture to say, is equal to the work of the School Board of London.

The question we naturally ask is, Why do you pass by the School Board? The object of this Bill is to abolish the School Board. Why don't you use it when it is there? From the earliest days when, under Lord Lawrence, it began to cultivate what was then a wilderness, down to the chairmanship of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, who did not think it too small a matter to occupy himself with, and the chairmanship of the present Minister of Education, who is the actual sponsor, if not the author, of this Bill—so that if the Government have erred, as I think they have greatly erred here, they have done so with their eyes widely opened—there has been no complaint from ratepayers and parents. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh!"] There has been no demand for change. Certain things we have heard. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge has made merry year after year with certain eccentricities of teaching in some subjects in evening schools under the School Board. Surely that is too trivial a matter on the ground of which to abolish this great machine for education. Then you had Mr. Cockerton and the over-lapping of schools of which we have heard so much. Point de zêle is the motto. Therefore a way with them. Then as to the grievance of injury to the Church schools by raising the standard of education too high. That is also on virtue's side. Is our system of education to exist according to the will and pleasure of a few Departmental pedants and clerically-minded educationists? That is the question we have to consider. Having this great and efficient machinery established amongst us the onus of proving the ground for removing this body, which enjoys so much experience and knowledge and which has the confidence of the public, rests entirely upon, I will not say the accusers, because I am not aware that there is any accusation, but upon the executioners, who are sitting upon that Bench.

Now, the whole case points to the maintenance of a School Board as the school authority. If the particular mode of election of this School Board is faulty in some particulars, by all means amend it, but do it by a directly elected authority. There must be a special body created for its purposes. The Government have abolished School Boards in the country in the interests of certain theories of education which they were not, after all, able to carry out in their own Bill, and in the interests, also, and in defence of clerical pretensions; but why should that treatment necessarily be applied to the case of London? London, as I have pointed out, is, from its very size, an exceptional case. You admitted it to be entirely exceptional by taking it out of your Bill of last year and dealing with it separately. But the Government, as the speech of the hon. Gentleman shows, are determined to de-democratise everything that they can lay hold of. We have seen this when the country School Boards were abolished. We have seen it in the Water Board for London in the Bill of last year. We have seen it in the Port of London Board this year, though I have not had time to examine that closely. And yesterday we were engaged—we modest Scotch Members—on a Licensing Bill, where exactly the same thing is being done. A certain show is made of giving popular influence at all events, if not control, with the little finger on the one hand, while with the full might of the right arm on the other—the mailed fist as my hon. friend says—they nominate and bring in irresponsible authorities to overweigh and override any representation of the people.

If that special body is rejected, then why not appoint the London County Council? The London County Council exists at your hand. I admit that it would impose a tremendous a mount of duty on the London County Council, which its present members could not possibly discharge. But you might double the members of the London County Council, or in some way you might still keep the direct responsibility to the people. But now there are only to be thirty-six members of the County Council on this Committee out of ninety-seven. And this is called making education part of a municipal duty! Municipalising the control of education! Why, Sir, to withdraw those thirty-six members from their work, which is already heavy, would be enough to hamper and overwork the County Council, but not enough to give them power over education. It is exactly what I am saying a little apparent concession to the representative principle, promptly smothered up and stifled by some other arrangement which puts it in a minority and really deprives it of power. There are three results which are possible in consequence of the County Council being treated in this way. One is that these thirty-six members will be withdrawn from their present work, greatly to the detriment of the work of the County Council. Another alternative is that the outsiders who are to be put on will do most of the work. The other—the last alternative—and I think the most likely—is that the work will drift, nicely and quietly, more and more into the hands of the Board of Education, who at the present moment are showing how solicitous they are to interfere, when they have an excuse, with the action of the local bodies in connection with education. But then there are to be the borough councillors, men who are elected to look after the lighting and cleaning of streets, baths and workhouses, and useful purposes of that sort. They have no mandate whatever on education, and they are practically irresponsible on the Education Board. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] Thus, what you will have will be a Water Board, a little less diluted than the Water Board, or, putting it in another way, a Metropolitan Board of Schools with just enough flavour of representation in it to prevent its being classed in the category of the Metropolitan Board of Works. It will be a curious board. I presume it will meet, like others, in the Privy Council Chamber, which is a neutral place on the educational question, and then we can imagine that borough and county councillors will look askance at each other while the superior persons, the experts and the professional wise, will search in vain for the true centre of gravity of the body into which they have been brought.

But now I come to a point which is perhaps most important of all, and that is the condition of management, and the arrangements which have been made for giving the management of the schools to the Borough Councils. Under the School Board management was delegated, and there was no little distinction between control and management. The right hon. Gentleman says there was too much centralisation. If a pane of glass was broken a great deal of time and trouble was expended before it could be mended. But that is only a small reason for altering the whole system. Let the rules of administration be altered to prevent such centralisation as that, and the whole object will be attained. But let the House mark that these borough councillors are to appoint teachers, and they are to have the controlling voice in the securing of sites. They are, therefore, to have the patronage and the actual government of the schools, and that it will be in the hands of bodies with no pretence to fitness for discharging these duties. [Cries of "Why not?"] You cannot lay down a principle more universal in its application than this—where you have patronage there you have power. The most powerful element will be those who have the selection of sites, and above all the appointment of teachers The appointment of teachers is almost the most cardinal and essential duty that the education authority has to perform, and more depends on it than on anything else. There is more room for controversy and dispute and bad feeling over the appointment of teachers than over any other subject, and it is to be given, not to the County Council, not to the experts, not to the whole body acting as a Committee, but to Borough Councils. I will only say that system seems to me to be contrary at once to common-sense and to the public interest. I expect that when we see the Bill we shall find that it will legislate mainly by reference in the usual manner. The little knobs and corners upon which Amendments can be hung will be as few as possible. That is a way of course of getting round the House of Commons, and it has been so universally and generally followed of late years that one cannot sweepingly condemn it. At the same time I am sure of this, that there are many amongst us who will take the earliest opportunity—and every opportunity—of claiming to replace rights of conscience and popular control in the position that they ought to exercise in the fabric of our national education, and seeing that these proposals, as stated by the hon. Gentleman, so grievously offend against these elementary principles, I for one cannot give my support to the First Heading of this Bill.

SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)

I have listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition with the greatest possible disappointment. The right hon. Gentleman last year failed entirely to understand or to see the principle of the Education Act. He was led astray by certain details of the measure, and by certain matters which caused an amount of religious animosity which the subject scarcely deserved, and he wholly failed to understand or appreciate that the Education Act of last Session was one of the greatest democratic measures, one of the greatest schemes of delegation of power and authority to local authorities, which this House has ever passed. The Bill of last year, which is now the law of the land, has made the local authority, the authority elected by the people, and directly representing the people in each local district—it has made that the one authority for all kinds of education, elementary, secondary, technical, and University; and it has clothed it with powers of rating and spending money practically unlimited. Although in some parts of the Bill there are restrictions placed by Parliament upon the action of this local authority, yet in the main it has left the local authority absolute master of the education of the future. Let me recall to the House that in the discussions of last year, while in Part I. and Part II. which dealt with Secondary Education, the local authority was left a free hand, both sides of the House, and both political parties, insisted upon putting certain restrictions upon the action of local authorities which dealt with elementary education. These restrictions were put on by both sides of the House. Some of them may have been very desirable and necessary, but neither party is able to blame the Education Bill now, because the local authority had restrictions put upon it, and has in regard to elementary education not been left the free hand it was left in regard to technical and secondary education. This year the Government have brought in a Bill which is based upon exactly the same principle as the Bill of last year, and that principle the Leader of the Opposition in the speech he has just addressed to the House, has absolutely ignored. He said in his speech— Why don't yon make the London County Council the education authority? That is what my hon. friend the Secretary to the Board of Education said they were going to do. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no."] At all events they were going to do it in name—[OPPOSITION cheers and laughter.]. According to what was said by my hon. friend the education authority for the County of London is to be the London County Council. The London County Council will have the absolute power of the purse, because no borough under the London area can levy any education rate with the exception of a borough which has made a halfpenny rate, namely, the Borough of Woolwich, and that will be preserved. With that exception the whole of the taxation of London for education is in the hands of the County Council, and the whole of the appropriation and spending of the money is in their hands, and neither Education Committees, nor Borough Councils, nor managers of the voluntary or provided schools can spend one single penny except with the sanction and permission of the London County Council. Is that not being the education authority in something more than name? There is the power of the purse which I believe alone and by itself, quite irrespective of any restrictions which either side of the House may choose to put upon the operation of the London County Council—I believe that that power of the purse will give to it, as it will give to other County and Borough Councils in England and Wales, the absolute power over education of all kinds. [An HON. MEMBER: It will give power to the Board of Education.] I cannot deal with everything at once. Therefore, when the Leader of the Opposition said that this Bill was intended to de-democratise the education of the people, I think he stated what was absolutely the opposite to what the operation of the Bill will be. The education of the people is not democratised now. The powers of the London County Council are very limited. They can only spend the local taxation money and the whisky money, and their spending of that money is restricted in a great number of particulars, which I shall not enlarge upon, by the Technical Instruction Act, which is still in force as regards London. The London School Board is a body, as it now exists, restricted by the Act which created it to the mere provision of schools and the giving of elementary instruction in them; and it has no authority or power whatever over the general education of the people, and even in elementary instruction it cannot interfere with any of the voluntary schools, nor can it make any incursions into higher education, either of a secular or technical character. Therefore, in London you have not a democratic system of education, but this Bill will give you an absolutely democratic system. The body to control education will be elected on a most popular franchise. It will have unlimited power of levying rates, spending money, and co-ordinating and providing education for the people.

Now I come to the action of the Board of Education. The action of the Board of Education in these matters is not very serious. It is only going to act as arbitrator in any questions arising as to what the powers of managers of individual schools should be and what control the County Council should exorcise over them. You must have some sort of body to arbitrate between them, and I have no doubt myself that the Board of Education will scarcely ever be invoked, and I am sure that when it is invoked all parties interested will have satisfaction in its decisions. Therefore, so far as one can tell, the action of the Board of Education will be as innocent as it is under the Act passed last year, and under which the Board has not been able to interfere with the desires of the local authorities. There might be a case in which some local authority might not agree with the suggestions of the Board, but you cannot produce a case in which a local authority has stood up against the Board and in which the Board has not given way. Coming to the question of the committee, it is quite true that it does not contain what the committee under the other Bill contains—a majority of the local authority in its members. But that is a matter we may discuss when the Bill is in Committee. It is not a matter of principle, and for this reason the constitution of the committee does not interfere at all with the absolute supremacy of the County Council. It will have to take its instructions from the County Council, and carry out the general policy which the Council may desire. I do not care what the constitution of the committee is. It cannot help being a mere delegation from the authority itself, and it cannot set itself up as an independent authority. I have not heard any hon. Member who has been chairman of a committee say that there has been any friction between the Council itself and the Committees of the Council to which it has liberally appointed members not of its own body. There is a great complaint made of the boroughs, and it is said that they have nothing to do with education. But they will have in future. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition seems to have forgotten that these Councils are elected by the people. There is to be an election next November, and surely the intelligent electors will know that they have important educational duties to perform.

As to the question of managers, over which the House went almost mad last session, I always said that the very name "manager" was rather productive of error because these so-called "managers" cannot manage the schools as they like. Every single penny of their expenditure has to be sanctioned and allowed by the County Council. The teachers are appointed under the Act of last year subject to the approval of the County Council. [An HON. MEMBER: We have heard nothing of that now.] It is not in the Bill this year, but I suppose it will be. That is really a detail which is hardly appropriate on the First Reading of the Bill. At any rate, if they appointed a teacher without the consent of the County Council they cannot pay him because the money for his salary would have to be sanctioned by the County Council. I think if the House would disembarrass itself of the idea which was so industriously spread abroad last autumn that these managers were little tyrants who could do anything, manage the schools in their own way, set all the principles of toleration and reason at defiance, turn the schools into mere places where religious animosities were to rage and religious proselytism was to take place—if they would disabuse themselves of that idea and regard the managers as sober-minded and reasonable men and women who desired to teach the children and bring them up as honest men and women, they would see that this is really a great democratic measure, with complete financial control by the London County Council, and one which the House ought to allow the Government to introduce as carrying out and perfecting the great measure of last year. I think my hon. friend has hardly understood the traps that are laid for the representatives of the Board of Education about School Boards. If I had been making the hon. Gentleman's speech, I should not have said that one of the purposes of the Bill was to abolish the London School Board. I would have said that it was one of the unfortunate and regrettable consequences of the Bill that the London School Board must be merged in the County Council. That is saying the same thing as the hon. Gentleman, but it would have prevented that boisterous merriment with which his statement was received by hon. Members opposite. If you are going to democratise (I use the barbarous English of the Leader of the Opposition) popular education by placing it in the hands of that body which represents the citizens of London, it follows that the special body—the School Board which has done part of the work—must necessarily disappear. It is all very fine for hon. Members to make a great fight about the School Board of London as they did about the country School Boards last year. I sympathise with them. It is a regrettable thing that these bodies which did excellent work had to disappear. When I was in Egypt last winter there was a great temple—the temple of Philae—which had to disappear on account of the construction of the great Assouan Dam. Just in the same way as the temple had to disappear after its valuable work, so the London School Board, having done excellent duty, having deserved well of the country, and having deserved praise of future generations must now disappear in order to make way for a body more directly representative of the people and with larger powers to provide education of every kind for London.

Dr. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

I want to deal with one simple issue only. I would only recall last year's controversy and ask the House to remember that I did my best to deal with every proposition submitted in a strictly educational spirit. That one issue is a very acute and fundamental one, i.e., the constitution of an educational authority for London. A number of friends opposite have stated to me that on this matter they have an absolutely open mind and that they simply desire to get the best educational authority for London—wise administration and economical finance. It is to that point particularly that I want to address my argument. I said last year I saw nothing essentially anti-democratic in giving the control of education to the Municipal Council wherever that is physically possible, and if you give it absolute and full and complete control. You might do that in a town of 10,000 people, but when you come to the larger urban areas, particularly to the great county boroughs, you are face to face with a problem so ramified in its minute details, so stupendous in its bulk, that you cannot genuinely municipalise the local control in that case because it is not physically possible. The Government tried it last year. If you try it you have at once to call in a very large number of outside persons not responsible to the ratepayers, and at a very early stage of your experiment you find that the town councillors having the multifarious work of the town and their own affairs to attend to, cannot give the time to their education committeeship which falls inevitably into the hands of the co-opted members and of the paid officials. So profoundly did I feel this that last session I appealed to the Government to retain the great School Boards in a perfected form so as to make it possible to control higher education, and I rather think I had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University with me. The destruction of the ad hoc bodies was a great educational leap in the dark, and I feel that in regard to great towns we shall be confronted at a very early stage with an appeal from the municipalities—not of a party character but purely educational—asking us either to revive the ad hoc body for education or to so far increase the membership of the Municipal Councils as to secure that the work shall be controlled, when municipalised, by members directly responsible to the ratepayers. I believe that time will come. Now with regard to London, as a member of the London School Board, I feel that the Parliamentary Secretary, with all his great industry during the time he has been in office, cannot quite have realised what is involved in the problem of London's education. Mere is a School Board with fifty-five members who meet once a week; it has seven standing committees and thirty-two subcommittees meeting weekly or fortnightly. Last year the members were called to 706 meetings; we had the control of 1,418 school departments, with 536,000 children to educate and 13,519 teachers to supervise; we had also ten special schools for the blind, eighteen for the deaf, sixty for the mentally defective, four for the physically defective, two industrial schools, three day industrial schools, two truant schools, and twelve pupil teacher centres. We have, at the present time, 251 groups of local managers comprising 2,000 people, in direct touch with the schools on our behalf, including 348 clergymen and 145 Nonconformist ministers. In addition to that we have the great central office on the Embankment, and the eleven divisional offices scattered throughout the School Board divisions, and they involve in officials and employees 2,000 people. Then there is the work of the voluntary schools with 1,500 departments, and 220,000 children—they have got to be taken over too. Most of them are in a state of chronic and hopeless bankruptcy at the present time—in London perhaps more so than in the provinces as a rule. Buildings are dilapidated, classes unteach-ably large, apparatus scanty and old, and the teaching staff, save for the certificated teachers, are juvenile drudges and young women who are unqualified.

With regard to higher education, the Technical Education Board consists of thirty-five members—twenty county councillors and fifteen co-opted members; it has eleven committees which meet fortnightly, and it is engaged on a very great and important work. They have secondary day schools, night schools, science and art schools; they have started the training of teachers; and they have a great and important scheme of scholarships. Altogether this problem of London's education involves 2,000 separate institutions, 20,000 teachers, 1,000,000 pupils, and a public expenditure of £4,000,000. That is a piece of work in detail, and in bulk, as big as the whole work of the London County Council now. It is a piece of work equal, or very nearly equal, to the education of the whole of Scotland. It is equal to three times the whole of the work of Wales. Now, the Government proposes to make the County Council the education authority—that is either real or illusive. If it is real, you are doubling the operations and the responsibility of the London County Council. But when I find this proposition put forward, I am compelled to turn to the opinions of His Majesty's Government on the work of the County Council as it now exists. Lord Salisbury said not long ago the County Council had already too much to do, and its members were suffering from megalomania. But if you double their work, who are then the megalomaniacs? The Colonial Secretary said it is quite impossible for the County Council to do the work they are now engaged upon; and he went on to say that if they were archangels from Heaven they could not do it. Last year the County Council had sixty-eight committees and subcommittees, and called 1,313 meetings to carry out its work. Since then you have detached fourteen members to join the Water Board. You proposed yesterday to detach eight under the Post of London Bill; there are also six detached for the Thames Conservancy and three for the Lea Conservancy. And now thirty-six are to be detached, and detached in such a way that they will be entirely detached and unable to give any attention at all to the County Council work. That is more than half the elected members of the County Council. If your proposal is real and genuine, then in killing the School Board you are wrecking the County Council. If your proposal is not genuine, then your scheme, notwithstanding the disclaimer of the hon. Member who moved the First Reading, is a "Water Board" protected from public censure or criticism, because it happens to have over its portals, in this ingenious scheme, the magic letters "L. C. C." You revive a principle which I heard the Prime Minister say in this House had been tried and been rejected by the people of London—the principle of a composite body elected on the principle of the Metropolitan Board of Works. I do suggest that the thirty six county councillors, having all their other duties to a tend to, will not be able to attend to the work of the Education Committee, and that the work of that Committee will fall into the hands of the thirty one borough councillors and thirty outsiders. In lieu of a body directly responsible to the ratepayers, you give usa "fortuitous concourse of heterogeneous atoms." That is a thoroughly bad scheme, and ought never to have been submitted to this House. It will mean that the apathy from which London now suffers as regards education will become more and more abysmal. At present Londoners take very little interest in education. What interest they do take is stimulated by the triennial elections. Remove that stimulus, and let a body of superior persons sitting in Spring Gardens or elsewhere have the control of education in London, and that apathy will become more abysmal still. The scheme is so bad that you cannot tinker with it. You cannot juggle with numbers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University said that it was only a detail that the County Council would not have a majority. But even if they were given a majority, they would be unable to do the work. You cannot tinker with the scheme. It is essentially and fundamentally bad.

I will not go into the administrative details at this juncture; but there are two which I feel bound to deal with. First of all, there is the proposal that the Borough Councils shall select the site for a board school to be erected in its locality. That is a perfectly ludicrous proposal. I will not say that there will be any jobbery, although I have my own opinion about that. But I am quite sure that a Borough Council will not select the best site educationally. I happen to be Chairman of the Accommodation Committee of the School Board for London, and I know what will happen. Even in this House we have had experience of what the Borough Councils will be likely to do. In 1901, the Stepney Borough Council came to Parliament and protested against the site which the School Board wanted to take. It was discussed two or three times in this House. What were the facts? It was admitted that the Blakesley Street site was the proper site. The Stepney Borough Council said that a site must be selected elsewhere. I went down to endeavour personally to meet the Borough Council, because I agree that in these matters the Borough Councils ought to be consulted. What happened? I found that the site suggested by the Borough Council was an abominably bad site for a school. It was shut in, and had no air and no light, and adjoined a railway on which hundreds of trains ran daily. Why did the Borough Council select that site? Because it was an in sanitary area; it had to be cleared, and they thought they would kill two birds with one stone, irrespective of the requirements of a site for a school. Ultimately the Blakesley Street site had to be accepted as the only possible site. I do not suggest that the Borough Councils will not select the best sites, but they will have other considerations in mind. There is another thing which the Borough Councils cannot get over at all. It takes about four and a half or five years to erect a board school in London; and, in many cases, from the time the site is secured until the school is built it takes about seven years. In numberless cases the School Board selects sites for what they call future requirements. We cast about and consider sites in districts where a school will be required in five or six years. There are no children or buildings in the locality; but we secure a site, with the sanction of the Board of Education, which may not be used for five or six years. But when we want it, and when the children are there, the school can be built at once. What will happen if this Bill passes? I do not approach the question in any partisan spirit. Take Poplar, with a rate of 9s. 9d. in the £.; or Bermondsey, with a rate of 9s. 4d.; or Stepney, with a rate of 8s. 3d. Can you ask the Borough Council of Poplar, progressive though it may be, or of Bermondsey, or of Stepney, to so far cast themselves into the future as to incur considerable expense, which will be thrown on the rates, in selecting sites which they will not be able to use for five or six years. None but a central body can do that, and when a Borough Council gets to work on a new school it will find that the school life of the children has passed away before the school is finished. Under this scheme, I can foresee there are going to be in this city hundreds of thousands of children, who, because of the lack of foresight on the part of these small bodies will not have any school accommodation at all. I am profoundly convinced of that.

Another detail is that the Borough Councils shall have a complete veto over the selection, the appointment, and the dismissal of teachers. What will be the result of that? Again I do not suggest that there will be jobbery. But there will be a great deal of local influence. At present one of the greatest difficulties we have in a great central body like the School Board for London, which is untouched by local interests, is to keep the Teaching Staff Committee, and the appointment of teachers free from local and personal influences. There will be a lot of local influence under this scheme. I can well imagine many of the teachers will be the relatives of members of the Borough Council; and I would put this to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Board of Education, as an avowed educationist, that we are going to shut up the teacherships of London into twenty-nine water-tight compartments. Suppose a boy is a pupil teacher in Battersea, he goes to the Training College at Battersea, if there is one, and because of his influence with the Borough Council he will ultimately be headmaster in a Battersea Board School. Nothing could be worse for the teachers, nothing could be worse for the children, and nothing could be worse for Battersea than such an arrangement. This scheme cannot be tinkered with. It is inherently bad, and if it ever gets a Second Reading, which I am very doubtful about, then these two things will have to be fundamentally altered. You cannot give to the Borough Councils the selection of a site for a school, or the appointment or the dismissal of teachers. Naturally a man dies hard. I am the only representative of the School Board in this House; and I am going down with my flag flying if I get a chance.

The hon. Gentleman poured a lot of scorn upon a directly-elected Board of Education. I would suggest to the Government a piece of advice. I would ask them not to take my advice, but to take the advice of one of the shrewdest, most businesslike, and cleverest members of the present Cabinet Lord Balfour of Burleigh was discussing education in Glasgow the other day, and there was some talk of an Education Bill for Scotland on the lines of the Act for England. He said that he himself did not believe so far as Scotland was concerned in any scheme which had not its basis in direct popular election. That is a very refreshing doctrine, when contrasted with what we have heard from the Secretary to the Board of Education. What is sauce for the Scottish goose should be sauce for the London gander. As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, we might simplify the number of the School Board areas, get them to County Council size, and we could then have fifty-eight representatives elected ad hoc. In order to avoid multiplicity of elections we could have elections on the same day, and on the same voting paper. It might be objected that that would abolish the cumulative vote, which provides for the representation of certain communities, and further that an ad hoc authority would not always be the best for dealing with higher education. But when we have got fifty-eight School Board divisions, and when they elect representatives ad hoc, I should have no personal objection to agree that there should be, by statute, co-option to provide for such contingencies as would occur in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, and also as regards higher education. I propose that scheme. Whom have I got to support it? The London School Board have approved of it in an overwhelming manner by thirty-one votes to fifteen. My seconder was a lifelong Conservative, a devoted Churchman, and the late leader of the Moderate Party in the School Board—Mr. Sharpe. It was supported by Sir Charles Elliott, a most distinguished Moderate and by the two Roman Catholic representatives, Father Brown and Father Beckley. Therefore, this is not a party question. It is not a question of Progressive versus Moderate. The scheme has the support of the whole body of managers who have been in touch with the board schools for thirty years, many of them being Conservatives, and many of them members of the Church of England. Before this Bill was introduced at all, and before we heard anything of the scheme now submitted to us, the Prime Minister at Fulham stated that it would be proposed to adapt the scheme of last year to the requirements of London. Now eight Borough Councils have declared by resolution that they believe that the only thing for London is a Board of Education directly-elected, capable of controlling all grades of education, and exclusively devoted to that purpose. They are Battersea, Camberwell, Fulham, Lambeth, which has a Unionist majority at the present time, Poplar, Woolwich—which I think has a Unionist majority on the Borough Council—Southwark and Wandsworth, Bethnal Green and Lewisham. Wandsworth is a curious case. The Council consists of sixty-seven Moderates and three Progressives; yet, it has passed a resolution on the lines I have indicated, and there is no shadow of doubt that when the County Council comes to declare on this Bill it will also, by an overwhelming majority, add its name to the bodies which have already declared that an ad hoc authority is the only practical principle for London. I do think that, without loss of dignity, the Government might agree to retain the ad hoc principle, modified to meet the case of London. I believe that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Board of Education is anxious to do his best for education. I appealed to him last year many times, and not in vain, and I appeal to him now. I appeal also to the Prime Minister that it is only by an ad hoc authority, created in the way I suggest, devoted exclusively to educational purposes, and elected directly by the ratepayers of London, that we can secure wise administration and sound finance. It is only by that means that you can fan into active flame what is now the flickering spark of public concern for education in London. If you pursue this scheme that spark will be extinguished; but if you provide an ad hoc authority, it may be fanned into an active flame. Unless yon do that, all the schemes for the betterment of education, in this Bill or any other Bill, must prove arid and futile and may prove entirely barren and abortive.

MR. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)

who was somewhat indistinctly heard, was understood to say: Sir, I agree with my hon. friend who introduced this Bill. I see no reason to suppose that an ad hoc body would provide in London any more than in any other part of the country the authority most likely to deal satisfactorily with all classes of education. So much has been said upon a body which goes by the name of a Water Board Authority, that it may not be amiss if I, as a London Member, say that no London Member would agree with the adoption of such a body as that. This deals with neither the same areas nor with the same subject as the body created last session, and all the arguments which were used to justify the creation of that body are absent in the present case. There is this additional point, of which my hon. friend the Secretary of the Education Board has taken notice, that in the present case we are undoubtedly forced to abolish two bodies which admittedly have done very good work in the past, as to one of which the direct election was complete, and as to the other those directly elected were in the majority, and under those circumstances it would have been impossible to pass in this House a scheme under which the body was indirectly elected. Then we come to the scheme which my right hon. friend has adopted. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down twitted us upon this side of the House with imposing a large amount of work on the London County Council. After hon. Gentlemen constantly voted against measures whose object was to confer greater powers on County Councils, that was an argument which the hon. Gentleman was entitled to use, but the House must remember that the Bills which we opposed were Bills which dealt with municipal trading in some form or another, and that with regard to the present case there cannot possibly be the same objection. I agree strongly with the hon. Gentleman opposite that if we thought for a moment that the London County Council were about to carry out the work of the London School Board on the same lines of centralisation as the London School Board has carried it out in the past, we should be opposed now, as we have been in the past, to transferring this work to the London County Council. To make this Bill possible, decentralisation is absolutely necessary, and I am glad my hon. friend has used Borough Councils, or committees of Borough Councils, to carry on a large part of the adminis- tration which heretofore has been done by the London School Board. Personally I am not qualified to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down in the details of London school management, but at any rate he will not deny that there are some who believe that decentralisation of this kind can be efficiently carried out.

Now I come to some of the details which my hon. friend mentioned when explaining this Bill to the House, and I am bound to say that they are details which would be more properly dealt with in Committee than on the First Reading of this Bill. There are some points on which I agree with the criticisms the hon. Member made during the course of the debate. As I understood, the London County Council is to be the central authority. The main principle of the Bill with which I cordially agree is, as I understand, that the London County Council, as the authority, do the work through a central education committee, and I venture to submit that for two reasons it is important to provide on that committee a clear majority of the London County Council. There are, as I understand it, twenty-five co-opted members, and if the London County Council has not a clear majority on the committee it will result that, so far as it can, it will select partisans rather than educational experts, and the object of having co-opted member's will, to a large extent, disappear. In the second place, if the London County Council has not a clear majority on the committee it will not trust the committee, and consequently there will be a tendency at any rate to review all the actions that the committee may take. Therefore it seems to me if you are to have efficient decentralisation it is absolutely necessary that the London County Council should be able to trust the committee through which it works. Those are two points which I hope the Government will be able to consider before the Bill comes before us on the Second Reading. I do not think I need delay the Committee further on this matter. I will only say in conclusion that those who sit on this side owe a debt of gratitude to the Government for having redeemed the pledge they gave last year, and for having introduced a Bill which will be of great use, in the future, to London education.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

Mr. Speaker, I steadily opposed, though I did not speak against it, the Education Act brought in by the Government last year. I thought then it was the duty of the London Members to leave the education of the provinces to those whom it concerned, but the element of mischief revealed in the country Act has been developed to a remarkable extent in this Bill, which is to be a municipal Education Bill for the Metropolis. I thought the Act of last year was premature, unscientific, sectarian, and, on the whole, a doleful measure, but it had one element that the Government prided itself on, and that was that it was municipal. That might be true to a partial extent with regard to the Act, but it is not true with regard to the Bill of to-day. This is not municipal; it does not set up a directly elected body, and in no sense can it be regarded as anything more than a glorified Water Board with the defects of all systems and the virtues of none. That being the way in which I regard it, I cannot allow this Bill to go through without a protest. The Secretary to the Board of Education says this Bill does not extend but adapts the Act of 1902 to London, and he uses the word "adapt" instead of extend because of the exceptional nature of London, having regard to its rateable value, its great resources and the peculiar and exceptional circumstances which must be regarded in considering a matter of this kind. After having stated that I had hoped the hon. Gentleman would have given his reasons why an exceptionally strong board should have been set up to deal with these exceptional conditions, but after he had condemned the principle of ah hoc, in which to some extent I partly agree with him, he might have divorced himself from the ad hoc body and have dealt with the peculiar conditions of London by creating some other body better qualified for the work than that which he rejects to-day. He, however, has done no such thing. The hon. Gentleman told the House that this was not a Bill for resetting up the London School Board, that it was not a Bill for the creation of a Water Board, but that it was a Bill which would make the London County Council, to a great extent, the educational authority. Except that the London County Council will find the money, strike the rate, and place at the disposal of an irresponsible body of persons its vast rating resources, the London County Council has not that position in this Bill which the great authority of London warrants.

As a member of the London County Council, I am getting rather tired of seeing the Government make the County Council the banker and the loan-monger of all the prodigal sons of the Borough Councils and the spendthrifts of the superior persons that this Bill creates. If taxation and representation are to go together, if he who pays the piper is to call the tune, the County Council ought either to have less voice and representation on this body, or it ought to have considerably more. I protest against the Government causing the County Council to provide money for Water Boards that it cannot control, making it the banker to buy up docks in the management of which it has no effective voice, and constituting it the body to strike the rate and raise the money for an educational authority over which it has no direct practical control. The Government have produced this Bill because they distrust the Borough Councils and are disinclined to make them the sole educational authority in their respective areas. The very reason which induced the Government to distrust the Borough Councils as the sole educational authority for their own areas is the strongest reason why they should not have, as combined they will have, a preponderating voice, probably against the County Council and the "superior persons," in the determination of how education should be carried on. In a word, this Bill is introduced because of the distrust of the Borough Councils, mistrust of the County Council, and an extraordinary affection for experts in the region of education that nobody can understand. At a time when the Government or their partisans say that the County Council is over-worked, why should they continue to bring in proposals to detach members from the County Council for other duties? Fourteen have been taken for the Water Board, eight for the Port of London, two for the Thames Conservancy, two for the Lea Conservancy, and now thirty six for the educational authority, while others govern polytechnics, others are in Parliament, and others manage many of the educational charities scattered throughout the country. But there may be method in the madness of the Government. Do they want to dissipate the energies of this centralised body over a wide area, so that inefficiency of general services may result, and provide the Government with an excuse for dissolving it altogether? If so, it is a reason which is not creditable, and, in many respects, is as Machiavelian as some of us suspect. If they wanted the County Council to be an influential authority for education, the Government might have chosen a more excellent way—a way that would have removed the objections which the Secretary to the Board of Education has to the London School Board, and have given the municipal control that they have conferred in the country and which, personally, I should not object to see imposed in London.

There are four ways in which this problem might have been attacked. The Government might have had the courage to let the Borough Councils have nothing whatever to do with education, to eliminate the County Council, to get rid of the School Board, and to make a centralised State department solely responsible for London education. Why did they not do that? I could understand the Government taking such a course. Bureaucracy would then have been supreme, popular Government eliminated and the superior persons able to get all their own way. The Government dared not do it. London would have repudiated such a highhanded centralised method of so usurping the functions of local control in education. Another thing the Government might have done was to set up a directly-elected body, responsible for all phases of education, and for education alone. The Government decided not to do that, because they have compelled a body that generally answered to that description to commit suicide on the Embankment, and they have decided to have no more School Boards. A third alternative was to let the Borough Councils be regarded, in their own areas, as a provincial Town or Borough Council, making them responsible for striking their own rate, managing their own schools, and appointing their own "teachers." Why have they not done that? Because they know that the Borough Councils, by virtue of their personnel, their location, their quail- fications, and their varying poverty and wealth, are incapable of being set up as the educational authority in this vast Metropolis. Having rejected these three alternatives, there was one other consistent attitude left with the Government, and that was to have made the London County Council, in fact, reality, and responsibility, the education authority. They have not done it. ["Yes."] They whisper it to the ear, but they break it to the hope. They make the County Council the banker for the Borough Councils, the mortgagor for this panjandrum of superior persons which the Government are continually exalting, to the detriment and contempt of the popularly elected body. The County Council is brought in only because there is no other body that can be trusted, in whom the ratepayers have confidence, and who are capable of raising the necessary money. Why was not the work really given to the County Council? I find the reason in the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Local Government Board, sitting next to the Secretary to the Board of Education—that, and nothing more.

The fact is that County Council baiting has become a mania with the Government. But it will not be a mania long. I am convinced that nothing but an unreasoning prejudice against the County Council could have induced the Government to use that body as they have done. I do not altogether share the view that on proper lines the County Council would not be capable of managing London education. Its work in connection with technical education disproves much of the criticism of educational experts. Given that it is capable, as it is; given that it is energetic, which no one will deny; given that it is the only financial authority capable of handling education, it seems to me that this is the worst possible way in which the aid of the County Council could be invoked. My suggestion is—the alternative I have named being rejected—that the Government should have added thirty members to the County Council, allocating three instead of two to each division. They might then have converted fifty-two or sixty members into a statutory committee to deal with all forms of education in London, and the Council with its present power of co-opting outside men of experience, eminence and capacity, could have selected in its aldermen all the experts worth having, but not the kind of experts created by this Bill—men who have been to the electorate, who are gilt-edged duffers, and, having been defeated at the poll, look to the Government to job them on to a body where they will waste public money and do no good. It might be argued that the County Council was already overworked. Ways might have been found for lightening its work. The Government might have taken the asylums away and given them to the Metropolitan Asylums Board; they might have taken away its inebriate work, and possibly its industrial schools, and handed the latter over to a Hospital Board which some day would have to manage not only asylums and fever hospitals, but general hospitals also. Then they could have abolished the Water Board, and allowed the Council to do its primary municipal duty which has been taken from it. The reason for not adopting this course is an unreasoning prejudice against a body which is gradually winning its way in popular favour, as will be found at the next election. In spite of this snub, the contemptuous insult offered by making them the bankers of the Borough Councils, without giving them any effective control, this body will assert its will, and some day this Bill will have to be altered.

What do you give to the Borough Councils? I have no prejudice, and have never shown any, against the Borough Councils, but I say that there ought to be a uniform standard of education in the Metropolis which would enable the rich districts to help the poor, and the selection of masters and mistresses to be made by a central body that was above fear, beyond reproach, and not subject to suspicion; that was the way in which this Bill ought to have been constructed. The Borough Councils are to have the power to dismiss teachers. I live in a district in which about 800 schoolmasters and mistresses live; I once presented a petition to a railway company from 700 schoolmasters and mistresses for early trains from Clapham Junction. That means that schoolteachers work all over London, but live in particular areas. I do not blame them. They come to Battersea because it is not in the outer darkness; they like it for its open spaces, and for the light and leading it displays in various ways. But what does it mean from the Borough Council point of view? It means that if schoolmasters and mistresses chose to bring pressure to bear on a borough council they could effectively do it in a circumscribed area through their votes, whereas in regard to a central body depending on half a million voters the pressure would not be felt. If the parsons of all sects and creeds care to link their destinies with the schoolmasters and mistresses we shall have the Borough Council element from any district sent to the central hotch-potch for education with a mandate to make the new educational authority the cock-pit for sectarian strife or other professional interests with which a central body would know how properly to deal. As to the question of appointing and dismissing teachers, this proposal will locate men in certain areas and prevent the flow of metropolitan promotion over the total area; it will put round men in square holes and square men in round holes; it will degrade instead of elevate the profession; it will be an incentive to local wire-pulling and a temptation to jobbery such as would be impossible in the case of the School Board or the County Council. Then as to the selection of sites. One hears of the County Council only on the occasion of the battle of the bridges, when the Peckham Horatio is holding the bridge against the rest of London. We all know what happened to the bridge; it finally came down, and so will the Member for Peckham. But whatever may be the defects of the County Council, in the purchase of property—whether for asylums, technical schools, fire stations, or any other purpose—there has never been a suspicion of jobbery or lack of probity on its part. Why is that? Because they are able to pay a salary such as commands the services of probably the best valuer in London, and one of the best in the kingdom, who goes and inspects a site purely in the interests of the central authority, paying no regard to whether the Vice-Chairman of the Borough Council owns it, or whether it is a slum area, or whether it suits the interests of a railway company to get rid of a certain plot of land. He values the site from the point of view of the purpose it is intended to serve, with the result that his employers get value for the money he recommends them to spend. I am not so sure that that will happen if the Borough Councils have to appoint teachers and then select the sites.

Then as to the personnel of the Borough Councils. Within their areas and according to their lights many of the Councils do excellent work which is worthy of all praise from their constituents. But the type of man who gets on the Borough Councils is, speaking generally, the man who is able to give only a part of his evenings to public work. That is not the case with regard to the County Council, and has not been the case with regard to the School Board. Many great captains of industry, having got rich by other people's labour earlier than other people could, have spent the autumn of their days in making reparation by giving their services to the community they have exploited. I welcome them; that is the only sacrifice I think a rich man is capable of making, and many, to their credit, make it. But what boards do they go on? They go to the School Board or the County Council, whose committees meet in the daytime and frequently require their services on three or four days a week. The average borough councillor cannot do that. When be reaches a position which enables him to do it, he leaves the Borough Council, and, by gradations, goes to the School Board, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, the County Council, and finally he reaches the coping stone of his public career, viz., the Imperial Parliament. We have to deal with facts as they are. The borough councillor by virtue of his position, work, and surroundings, is incapable of doing that class of educational work as well as it can be done by members of the School Board or the County Council.

My last point is one that I ask the House respectfully to receive. I said that County Council baiting was dying, and that that body was winning its way into public favour by virtue of its industry, probity, and capacity. That is true. The Government have become so fond of its technical education work that they want to extend the area of the County Council to other forms of education. Surely that is a striking comment on the jibes, sneers, and criticisms, which too frequently have been directed against that body. The mere fact that the Government are extending the influence and sphere of the County Council into the domain of elementary, technological, secondary, and perhaps University education is a proof that that body is better qualified for the work than the Borough Councils; otherwise it would not have been given more than a third of the representation on the Committee. If it is sufficiently capable and energetic to have thirty-six out of ninety-seven members, why not make the plunge entirely and give the County Council, which raises the money, a clear and decisive majority in the expenditure of the funds they provide? The Government will not do that because they are afraid the Council will attract to itself a little more credit than it now enjoys. Let the Government be not too timid in this respect, because when their Water Board collapses, and their educational authority brings education to a deadlock, they will have either to re-create the School Board or make the County Council absolute and supreme, through its statutory committee, over all phases of London education. Unless they do that, they will have to kill popular control altogether in the region of elementary education, and that they dare not do. What the Government are doing by this Bill is to exhaust the London County Council, from which they draw some of the chief elements of their Bill, to introduce the Borough Councils into a region they had not asked to be allowed to enter, and to worry and weary the experts whom the County Council could elect as aldermen. They had accumulated in the Bill all the defects of all the bad educational systems that can be conceived. They have done this out of an unreasonable prejudice against a body they themselves created, and who, if it were given to them, would manage education very well. The House might rely that if you mixed sacerdotalism with main drainage there would be very little dogma left, and if High Church principles were linked with fire extinction, the County Council could turn the hose on such men as Athelstan Riley, and these elements would be brought to their proper level. The Government want to be all things to all men; they want to please everybody, but they fail to please anybody. It is because I believe this Bill to be unworkable, and that it will be disastrous to education in London, that I could not allow it to be read a first time without passing upon it the severest condemnation in my power.

MR. PEEL (Manchester, S)

As a member of the London County Council, and, moreover, a member of the Finance Committee of that body, which is peculiarly interested in this Bill, I desire to say a few words on its introduction. I congratulate the Government on having resisted the temptation to create a new ad hoc authority for. London. I by no means agree with the hon. Member for North Camberwell that the London County Council, by reason of the work already cast upon it, is incapable of discharging the duties of the educational authority for London. The hon. Member seemed not to appreciate the fact that a quantity of the detail work discharged by the School Board was not to be thrown in its entirety on the County Council, but was to be given to the minor bodies. That principle of decentralisation I heartily support, as I support it in regard to other public departments, such as the War Office. But I failed to follow the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill as to what is the precise authority that is to deal with education in London. I do not clearly understand where the power is to lie. Is it to lie with the County Council or with this new authority? I fail to see how it can possibly lie with the County Council if that body is to have only thirty-six out of ninety-seven members. I suppose he meant to say that the financial control would be entirely in the County Council.


The London County Council is the authority for all purposes. It cannot delegate its financial powers, but in all other respects this Committee will be an advisory committee to which the Council can delegate its powers.


In that case I entirely agree with the hon. Member for the Strand Division that the Bill can hardly work in present circumstances. If you have a vast majority on this body, which has nothing whatever to do with the County Council, it is clear that there must be great friction, and that serious difficulties will arise between the County Council and the new authority. At the present moment, the County Council has full control over its Technica Education Board, but very few of the decisions of that body are reviewed by the Council as a whole. If you have a majority on that Committee who are not members of the London County Council, it is certain that these details will have to be scrutinised, examined, and gone into, and this will take an amount of time in the County Council which will throw upon it a burden it is really incapable of bearing. Take the Bill of last year. You had in that case financial control entirely in the hands of the Borough Councils, and in every case it was an essential part of the Bill that you should have a majority of that Committee members of the County Council. Only in that way can you have complete harmony between the County Council itself—itself the controlling authority—and the members of the Committee. Now, with reference to the bringing in of representation of the Borough Council, this course follows the precedent of last year. Under the Water Bill of last year yon had a separate authority which had separate power of raising money and was entirely distinct from the London County Council, and was responsible to it in no way whatever. But if you bring in these members in this way you really throw the power of controlling education on to those separate members of the London Borough Councils. I myself believe that a far better way of getting the opinion of the different parts of London would be to enlarge the County Council representation and to secure that every portion of London was represented on this Board through members of its own body. That is a very practicable and possible plan. If you wish to have a large board, if you wish to have ninety-seven members or something approaching that number, it is entirely unnecessary as was suggested to double the members of the London County Council. I entirely deny myself that as at present constituted, the Committees of the London County Council are so far over-worked that it is not possible to take members who are already on Committees, and add them to this larger number. The fact is that the Committees of the County Council, as now constituted, are larger than necessary for the work they have to perform. You have Committees of twelve and fifteen, where Committees of eight or six would do the work perfectly well, and the only reason why these Committees are constituted so large, is that of course they have greater authority and a greater number of heads when it comes to a vote on the County Council. I believe that without throwing a fresh strain on the County Council or absorbing the work of its members, you could get the best men possible, and you would be able largely to increase the number of thirty-six on the London County Council, and you would get a far more homogeneous and more powerful board, and one freed from the necessity of bringing in these representative members from the Borough Councils. It would be in harmony with the Council itself, and would be far more able to pursue a vigorous educational policy than if you hamper it with all those representatives from different bodies which are not connected with the London County Council itself.

I will only allude further to one detail mentioned by the hon. Member for North Camberwell, and that is with regard to the appointment of teachers, I certainly should like to see a change made in this matter. I should not myself like to see the appointment and dismissal wholly confined to the Borough Councils themselves. I think there ought at least to be some power of revision or veto on the power of appointment of teachers by the Borough Councils. Moreover, if you bring the Borough Councils on this Committee you really have them represented twice over, because they are first of all the authorities in your scheme of decentralisation which will have to carry out in the different districts the educational policy of the County Council. You are using them in a double capacity. You are making them principals and agents, and it is entirely unnecessary to force upon them that double rôle. If you have them in the case of agents who will perform their special duties in the Borough Councils, then I think it is entirely unnecessary to call upon them to serve in the central body, because you will have all the local knowledge secured on the central body by the members of the County Council itself, who, after all, are elected by the different parts of London, and represent them very well on the County Council.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

The Bill which has been explained to us by the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Board of Education has received very scanty support from the other side of the House apart from the rather critical speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, ft is a remarkable thing that the hon. Member for the Strand Division, who might fairly be looked upon as one of the sturdiest supporters of the Government, should in this matter have made a fundamental alteration in the structure of the Bill.


I said it was a question of detail.


The fact that the hon. Member said it was a, question of detail does not in the least alter the matter. He struck a vital blow at the principle on which this Bill is founded. The hon. Member who has just sat down is a member of the Loudon County Council, and he has perfectly distinct views regarding the measure. This a very cold reception for a Bill of the Government to have. It may be said that this is the First Reading, and it is not usual to discuss matters at any great length at this particular stage. But this is an exceptional occasion. The Government have introduced this Bill in order that it may be be discussed during the Easter recess by the public. Even at this early stage I think we ought to look at the arguments the Government have given us for destroying the London School Board. The first argument is that it is in order to establish unanimity between the present Bill and that of last year. May I point out that we have no precedent for pursuing such a course in the regulation of its municipal affairs by this House; London has received exceptional treatment. It has always been admitted that the facts of London might make an exceptional course necessary, and therefore the argument in regard to uniformity is really a very unsound one, and it would establish a precedent different from what the House has generally followed. The Prime Minister constantly gave us as a great reason for pursuing the course the Government did, in regard to the provinces, in the Education Bill of last year, that twice as many children were educated in the voluntary schools as in the board schools, and that, therefore, these schools could not be crushed out of existence. It is exactly the opposite in London. You have more than twice as many children educated in the board schools as in the voluntary schools. The fundamental fact with which the Government proceeded in regard to the country does not exist when they come to London, and therefore the Government might well have paused before they insisted on destroying the School Board here as in other places. We have an excellent system here and a magnificent institution doing splendid work. It seems to me to be perfectly un-English and contrary to the course the House generally pursues to sweep away such a body as the Government propose. There are no less than between 1,400 and 1,500 schools, over 500,000 children, and over £3,000,000 of public money being spent every year. The School Board has been most successful in discharging all this work. It was in the year that I first came to London that the great Bill was passed establishing the London School Board, and I have watched with interest the great work it has done throughout the Metropolis. The streets then presented a very different appearance from what they do to-day. They were crowded then with those miserable and suffering little boys and girls whom we used to describe as street arabs, and I have seen the London School Board grow up and gather all these children into the magnificent schools it has built. There has never been done by the State in any part of the Empire a more magnificent work than that, and yet the hon. Baronet pays but a scanty eulogy to this great body which he is going to lightly sweep away. You can easily get rid of it without getting another to do the work as well.

Not with standing all the absurdly trivial criticisms passed upon the School Board, I say that the House ought to pause and to have some feeling of gratitude for the public work it has done. It ought to pause before it destroys the London School Board. The hon. Baronet has told us that he is going to hand it over to the London County Council. But he hands over more important duties to the Borough Councils, than to the County Council. He has told us that the Borough Councils are to manage the schools, select the sites, and, I suppose, to build the schools and also to appoint the teachers. I want to say one word about the appointment of teachers. There are 14,000 teachers at present in the London board schools and 6,000 in the voluntary schools. I will lake the Borough Council that I know best—that of Islington. It represents a twelfth of the population and area of the whole Metropolis. Therefore you will throw upon the Borough Council of Islington the duty of appointing 1,600 teachers. The County Council will settle the salaries, but they will not interfere with the question of patronage or prevent local forces getting to work when appointments have to be made. A central body would be indifferent to this pressure, but under the present Bill it would no doubt arise in the local areas and create great difficulty. If this is persisted in, it will strike a great blow at education in London. We are told that if any dispute arises between Borough Councils and the County Council it will be referred to the Board of Education. It is perfectly absurd to suggest that under these circumstances the County Council will have any control whatever over the schools of London. The Borough Councils will have control, and the County Council will be in the position of paying the bill without any control whatever. The Bill will not be made better if you give the London County Council the majority on the education authority. How can it be said that the County Council will appoint members to represent the University of London and the City Guilds? It will be perfectly impracticable for them to do so, because these members would come as nominees of these bodies on the County Council. The County Council has only thirty-six members out of ninety-seven on the authority, and therefore it will be put in the position of not being able to discharge the great work of education which the Bill seeks to put upon it. I am not satisfied that it would be wise of us to hand over this work to the London County Council. That body is too heavily burdened at present, and there is scarcely a session in which this House does not refuse to put any more work upon it. The other day we refused to give it the control of the water supply. If the Council is too much burdened already to take charge of this work, how can it take charge of the great work of education in London? London is so vast that it would be worth while to deal with it separately, and directly elect a body for that purpose. That body might be elected in one day like the County Council. The functions of the present School Board could be enlarged so as to deal with secondary and technical education, and the cumulative vote could be abolished. That would be a far safer plan than the one sketched out in the Bill. I believe that everyone in the House has listened to the proposals in the Bill with amazement, and I venture to think that when the minds of the people of London are brought to think it out, they will almost unanimously decide to reject it.

MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

This Bill is alleged to be one for the better education of London. I hope the House will recognise that whatever makes for good education in London will exercise a great influence on the rest of the country. No one can deny that the elementary education standard throughout England and Wales has been set by the London School Board, and that excellent lessons have been given to the rest of the country by the Education Committee of the London County Council. The influence of the Loudon School Board upon the voluntary school system in London has been of an admirable character, and but for occasional gentle pressure of that Board the defective conditions of many voluntary schools through lack of income would be much worse at the present time. I hope this Bill will be treated as a national Bill and receive attention at the hands of all Members. The question I have to ask myself is simply this—Will the proposals of the Government make for the better education of the children of the Metropolis? We have known throughout the autumn and early months of this year that the Government in dealing with London would most likely follow the principle set forth in their scheme of last year. The desire is logical and consistent, but I think there is a more important principle to follow, and a more important effect to produce than a reputation for logical sequence, and that is the influence of the measure upon the Metropolis and upon the children. I myself am quite prepared to see the Government lose its reputation for logical sequence if, in throwing that away, it can do something better for the children. Is the plan one that will make for the improvement of education, and is it even logical? I cannot resist the conclusion that it is neither one nor the other. I do not think it is the best body, nor do I think it is consistent with the principles of last year's Bill In name the County Council becomes the authority, but in fact the County Council will not be the authority. The County Councils and the great Borough Councils under the scheme of last year were created the authorities for education, and I know that the County Councils have taken full advantage of that provision, and have taken care that far more than the majority shall be on the committee as directly representing the people. By that means only can the County Council become the real authority, and exercise complete control. All power will have to be delegated to the Committee, which will become the authority. The County Council will be compelled by weight of the influence, which the committee will be able to exercise, to grant the necessary funds to allow the committee to use the functions of the Council, and eventually become the authority itself. Let the County Council be the authority, in fact as well as in name, or let the committee become the authority. London has always been treated on a different footing to the rest of the country. The magnitude of the task constitutes a full and sufficient reason for this differential treatment.

In a city like Birmingham it is not impossible for the County Council to do the work of education. Birmingham put the Act of last year into operation a few days ago, and no one is a penny the worse off for it, while many are bettor off. The Act will work smoothly there, but in London there is a peculiar position of affairs. The problem of local government is quite sufficient to occupy every bit of leisure of every man that has to deal with it, and the problem of education in London is also quite sufficient to occupy the leisure of every man. Do the Government desire to see spring up a sort of local politician who will attend simply and solely to the work of the County Council? No one in London can attempt to do this work, and do it properly, and do their London County Council work as well. This is only likely to put the work entirely into the hands of officials. It occupies a very large part of the life of a London School Board member to deal with elementary education; gentlemen who work on technical education committees devote their whole leisure to that work alone. We are proposing to do more; to those two we are adding other branches of education, amalgamating and co-ordinating all branches, and asking them to attempt to work out in the Metropolis some of those problems of education which have been barely thought of in this country, and with the large funds at their disposal to try new methods of teaching and new forms of education. And all this is to be undertaken by men half of whose time is to be taken up by ordinary local government, and who are to devote the remainder to this educational committee. The task is beyond their strength. They cannot accomplish it. That is the conviction to which I am driven. I would gladly accept the London County Council and give effect to the principle that the rating authority should be the controlling authority, but there is something to come before that, and that is educational efficiency, and also the efficiency of local government. We are setting up an authority which, in my judgment, will not only be incapable of efficiently educating the children, but which will also tend to make the London County Council in efficient. Have we not, in the main, on this side always taken up the position which I have now taken up? Have we not gone into the Lobby against every proposal coming from the London County Council to take over more duties? Have we not, through the Leadership of the Front Bench, said we must not give the London County Council more work; that it was already over-laden; that we must not give it the control of the water because it already has its hands full; that that question is such an enormous one that we cannot entrust it to the London County Council. Does my lion, friend think that education is a smaller question. I think he will find that in its magnitude, and the difficulties that will have to be solved, education is a far greater and more difficult problem than ever the water question could be. How can we then, in all conscience, at any future date go into the Lobby against the proposals of the London County Council if we pass this measure? I am going to be consistent for once in a way. I am going to vote against this power being put into the hands of the London County Council, because it seems to me it cannot discharge the obligations and have due regard to its own efficiency, it certainly cannot perform these duties with any prospect of maintaining the level of efficiency which London has already reached.

But when I come to the clause which relates to the Borough Councils, then I am driven to ask what on earth is the Government scheme? Is the Government riding for a fall in this matter? Does it want the whole ridicule of London poured on its head over this preposterous attempt to amalgamate these two authorities? Is it afraid of the County Council and the Borough Councils, and is it trying to conciliate them both by giving a little to each. I know we are said to be afraid of the London School Board, and afraid of a directly-elected authority. I do not know why, I am sure. Take the Borough Councils. I have served upon them before they received their present designation, and I can remember the time when we used to sit and elect a member to sit on the Metropolitan Board of Works, and I say that immediately the Borough Councils have to select persons to sit on the education committees, I do not think there will be the slightest prospect of an expert being elected. They are ever ready, also, to combine against the London County Council; and I should like to know what the position would be if the experts, so called, combined with the Borough Councils against the London County Council; vote after vote, by sixty-one to thirty-six, would go from this committee to the County Council. The County Council would naturally back up its own members, and the result would be a deadlock, and the work of education would be brought to a standstill at once. I could have understood the Government giving the control to the London County Council, and allowing them to co-operate. I could have understood, and could have supported, a scheme placing London on the same footing as Birmingham, Macclesfield, and other places; but this scheme brings in a third element, and one I cannot possibly support. You are going to give the Borough Councils the choice of school sites, and the power to appoint teachers. Now one word about the choice of school sites. Two or three arguments have been advanced against the policy of the Government in that respect this afternoon, but I wish to submit one which has not been referred to, and that is, that if you have the central authority providing sites throughout the whole Metropolis, they may fix on a site just within the borders of one borough, which shall be destined to serve not only the children of that borough, but those outside that borough. That is the case in numberless instances. The best spot in the London School Board is that London is not marked out in boroughs, but in blocks, for the purposes of the London School Board, and accommodation has been provided for the children in those blocks. Will Chelsea be willing to provide for the children of Westminster or Fulham?


here interjected an observation which did not reach the gallery.


I have no doubt my hon. friend thinks so, or he would not have taken the responsibility for introducing the clause, but the simple proposition put before us is this—the Borough Councils will be responsible for providing these school sites. This is not a work which ought to be left to a local authority. It ought to be the duty of the central authority. I do not wish to say much at this stage—although I am rather hopeful that we shall not get another opportunity—with regard to the appointment of teachers, but I fear we are drifting into this state, that we shall have a large number of authorities for elementary education, and one authority for higher education. You are giving the borough councils the provision of sites and the appointment of teachers; you are on the threshold of appointing them separate authorities for elementary education, and if that is done the whole object of this Bill is destroyed. I quite agree that the details of management must be delegated to somebody, and that they must be delegated to local councils, but there might be management as Ave understood it in the Bill of last year, that does not include the appointment of teachers. In the case of neither the County Councils of any of the administrative counties, the Parish Councils, Urban District Councils, nor the non-county Borough Councils, is there a delegated right to appoint teachers locally. The regulations issued by the education authority in the Act of last year are regulations that require that even in voluntary schools the appointment of a teacher shall be notified before it takes effect, and I think the right to appoint a teacher should be in the hands of the central authority, the authority which provides the money and winch will fix the standard of efficiency. That should be the work of the central authority; that is the main portion of the control, and as the main portion of school government, it will be their duty to see that the schools are properly staffed and maintained.

Under this scheme, as I understand, there will be a grave danger that the local Borough Councils will be constituted authorities for elementary education, if not in name, in fact, and if so, I cannot imagine anything worse for London or for the whole of the country. This problem is an extremely difficult problem, and one which will tax the energies of the best men and women that London can produce, and I think that the authority having control of this work should be a directly-elected authority—co-opting experts if you will—but there should be a body of men who themselves will be refreshed by being periodically brought into touch with the ratepayers, and who will not allow the work to rest in the hands of officials. It has been said over and over again by some "if we had a directly-elected authority for London, we should never get a majority for our borough, the Progressives would always be in the majority." I think the conditions under which the elections would be fought under the new Act would be conditions not known under the School Board system. Under the old system there has been a duel going on between the School Board, and the voluntary system, and one of our greatest ideals in legislating this year—the great object of any Bill for London—will undoubtedly be putting the voluntary schools on the same financial footing as board schools; and the moment you have that the old conditions under which the School Board elections were fought in London will at once disappear and new life will spring into existence, and we who have fought the problem will unite in a constitutional authority. The body which is elected should be a body whose single and sole idea should be the advancement of the education of the Metropolis, of the Empire. A body which could not only make our schools efficient and maintain a high level in them, but should be able to raise the standard still higher. At this early stage I have no choice but to go into the Lobby against this Bill, and I shall do so on every possible occasion unless the Government will reconsider its position and amend this Bill as fully and as completely as the Bill of 1870 was amended. This, I know, is practically telling the Government to withdraw this Bill and to introduce another. It is almost vain to hope for that, judging by the scant attendance of Members present. But public opinion in London to-day is not in the same state as it was at Christmas last. The people have studied the subject during the last six months, and many who were formerly strong partisans of another policy have come to the conclusion that there must be a body of men devoting themselves to the purposes of education. This is a hybrid scheme which will give no satisfaction to any one; it has been lukewarmly received, even by the supporters of the Government; and I suggest that the Government should withdraw a measure which seems to me to be so ill-advised.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

As a London Member I listened with great gratification to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in this debate. I think it is a very significant debate that we have had this afternoon. Nobody has asked for this Bill either in London or the country, and certainly, on the present occasion, we have not had a Member who has said a good word for it except the hon. Member for the Strand, who practically gave away the case of the Government because he said so far as he was concerned his opinion of the Bill was that the County Council must have a clear majority on the Education Committee. The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down is very significant of the opinion held by those who are experts in educational matters. I am not so sanguine as he in the hope that this Bill will not go further. I think we shall have our work cut out to oppose it at every stage, and that it will be our duty to do so. Having said there must be one educational authority for London, the Government had three alternatives and they naturally chose the worst. Why has the hon. Gentleman given the ad hoc authority, which was the best, the go-by, and gone out of his way to get another authority altogether. For that course he had only two arguments, one was that the School Board were not in their management sufficiently decentralised, and another was that the electors of London did not take sufficient interest in their proceedings. It is quite certain that if the ad hoc authority was as it would be if it had been adopted as the authority placed on a different basis, there would not have been any difficulty in decentralising a considerable amount of its local management.

As regards the question of the want of interest taken by the electors in the London School Board, I deny that if any question is raised in which a matter of principle is invoiced that there is any want of interest in it; the electors then take considerable interest. On ordinary occasions the School Board jogs along without anything particularly affecting them, but the electors have great interest in the work that is being done. Then we must recollect, in the first place, that the area of representation is far too large, and in the second place that the cumulative vote prevents the electors taking the interest that they otherwise would, and we must also remember that these matters will be swept away if the School Board were reformed. The hon. Member reproaches the ratepayers and the electors for their want of interest in the School Board, and he now proposes to increase their interest in school management by destroying the only educational body to which they have an opportunity of electing members, and so prevents them taking any other interest in the future in educational affairs. One of the worst features of London citizenship is, I believe, the comparatively small interest that the citizens of London take in their own affairs, and what I regret so much in the actions of the present Government, is that in the questions of the London port, London water, and London education, the Government, largely prevent in the future the citizens of London taking that interest in their own concerns which we all desire to see. The hon. Member in his speech deprecated the term Water Board. What is known by the term Water Board policy, is a policy actuated by three objects, one of which is to take duties from the central body which ought to be given to them, and another of which is to put the central body in a minority on the new body; and thirdly, a policy of selection and delegation. The hon. Member is going to place the central authority in this case in a minority, and he is going to select a large number of members as on the Water Board. One of the objections that I feel to this body is that it is not only a Water Board but a fraudulent Water Board. When we were discussing the first Water Board, it was fairly and frankly stated that the London County Council, the central authority, was to be in a minority But the hon. Gentleman told us this afternoon, that, in the first place, the County Council was going to be the central authority, and in the second place that it was going to have a clear majority on the body he proposed to create. Yet neither in regard to the question of authority, nor of majority, does it appear from the latter portion of the speech of the hon. Gentleman that the central authority is going to have real authority or a clear majority on the board. From his own showing, it is only going to have thirty-six out of a representation of ninety-seven, and to say that that is a clear majority is to say a thing which appears to me to be a contradiction of terms. The hon. Gentleman speaking just now showed that while the County Council would have the right of nominating a certain number of experts, even there, their opportunity of selection is much restricted because they are bound to select them from certain bodies and when selected the names have to go before the Education Department to be approved by them. It was not as if the County Council could appoint those whom they had in their own pockets, as it were, to represent their views. It was quite obvious, therefore, that in a very great number of cases the thirty-six members of the London County Council would be a very small minority of the members of the board. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for the Strand Division and the hon. Member for Manchester strongly protest that if the County Council is to be the authority it must have a clear majority, But the hon. Gentleman just now said that the County Council is to be the educational authority. On paper, and according to the Bill, it will be the educational authority, but it is clear from the speech of the hon. Gentleman that the authority of the Council itself will be a very nominal one. Nominally subordinate to the Council will be a statutory committee. Is it not certain that that statutory body of ninety six persons having been appointed it will be quite impossible for the County Council to revise the proceedings of that body? The County Council will nominally have the control of the purse, but the statutory committee will incur all the expenditure, and therefore make themselves practically the masters, and not the servants, of the County Council. The hon. Gentleman further told us that in regard to certain matters of great moment—the appointment of teachers and the selection of sites—the authority will be handed over entirely to the Borough Councils. But by having the power of the appointment and dismissal of teachers and the selection of sites, the Borough Councils will have considerably more power than those two matters would seem to imply. The appointment and dismissal of teachers practically means the complete control of the education in the local schools, carrying with it the staffing, the curriculum, and practically the whole management of the schools. By having to select the sites, they will be put in the position of judges as to the accommodation required, and the place where it should be provided.


I must really ask the hon. Gentleman not to press this question of sites. When I say that the Borough Councils are to have the selection of sites, that cannot mean, or be understood to mean, that they are to determine what accommodation is required or where the site is to be. The education authority will say what accommodation is wanted and what area it must serve, and, this ring fence having been drawn round a particular area, the Borough Council will choose a site within that area.


That is not what I understood from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, but if that is what is in the Bill, I am very glad to hear it, because the Borough Councils will then have less power with regard to a matter over which the central authority ought to have absolute control. The hon. Gentleman evidently anticipates considerable friction between the Borough Councils and the Statutory Committee, and that the Borough Councils will endeavour to obtain more authority than is proposed shall be given them, because he said that if a conflict arises as to what is management and what control, the question will practically be left to the Board of Education. I suppose the conclusion at which the board arrives will be carried out by our old friend "Mandamus." It passes the wit of man to define the difference between management and control, and if it is to be in the Bill the hon. Gentleman ought to have attempted to explain it. The fact is, that this proposal of the Government is another step in the direction of the ideal of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board who, when we were discussing the Water Board last session, said that by such a Board as that, was the right way to govern London. While I believe that the only way in which the education of Loudon can be properly carried on is by a directly elected body—and I for one should protest against even the Loudon County Council being the body, because their other work would be crippled—I have no animus or feeling against either the County Council or the Borough Councils. In their respective spheres I believe they do admirable work for London. But I object to this Bill because, while it destroys the School Board, it will, in my opinion, largely cripple the utility of the London County Council itself, and create friction between the Borough Councils and the central body. I am glad to think that when we get into Committee there will be no question of principle involved, and I hope the Government will be willing, as far as possible, to leave the matters in dispute to the decision of the House itself. The only principle laid down by the hon. Gentleman is the co-ordination of authorities, and on that we are all agreed. There is no question of carrying the Act of last year to its logical conclusion in London, because London is on a totally different basis from the rest of the country; the London County Council differs from the other County Councils, and the Borough Councils are not the same as the county boroughs. Under these circumstances I hope the Government will be able to meet, not only the views of hon. Members on this side of the House, but also the views expressed so emphatically by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Unless they do so, I trust the Bill will not pass, because I believe it is the worst Education Bill ever introduced by any Government, and that, if passed, it will do a great deal to injure and retard education in London.


who was indistinctly heard, was understood to say: I think there has been some misapprehension as to certain parts of the Bill. Among other things, I think I have reason to complain of the construction placed by the Leader of the Opposition on my view as to the directly elected authority. The right hon. Gentleman himself seemed to confuse a directly elected authority solely for education purposes, or an authority elected ad hoc, and a directly-elected authority for general municipal purposes, which undertakes education among its other cares. It is to such a directly-elected authority—an authority chosen by the people to transact their general municipal affairs—that I wish to entrust education along with their other work. Great difference of opinion has been expressed as to the capacity of the London County Council. The hon. Member for North Camber well thinks we are asking the London County Council to undertake more than they tan do, while other hon. Members have said that the body is quite capable of doing this work if it is not interfered with by the presence of borough members on the Committee. I think we may assume, therefore, that it is very much open to question whether the London County Council is not fully capable of doing this work if it has a free hand. But the question has been raised whether it is the authority. It is undoubtedly the fact that we propose to make the London County Council the authority. It has sole control of the business and policy; it can do anything it likes, or delegate any of its powers, except its financial power, to this Committee. Surely we are not hampering the County Council by providing this advisory committee on which we have endeavoured to provide that all educational interests in London should be represented. We cannot be accused of creating a Water Board in disguise when we constitute a committee for the assistance of the County Council. I think hon. Members have been somewhat rash in criticising in detail clauses which they have not yet seen. We desire to provide that the management of the school—which must be provided for somehow or other, and was provided for under the Act of 1870—shall be really a measure of decentralisation, subject to the financial control and directing power of the central authority. The central authority can say what is to be the staff of every school, how many teachers there are to be, what is to be the amount of their salaries, what are to be their qualifica- tions, what accommodation is required, and the area it must serve. The anxiety which has been expressed as to the appointment and dismissal of teachers and the selection of sites will really be found to be unfounded when the Clauses are seen in print.

Then it has been said that friction will be created between the County Council and the Borough Councils. I have observed throughout the debates on education that wherever persons not absolutely belonging to the same institution were asked to combine with the work of education, it has been supposed that friction would necessarily arise. I cannot believe that the interests of the Borough Councils and the London County Council, when they are both dealing with the education of the Metropolis, will be found to be so divergent that they will always be in conflict. All that it really comes to is, that when the border line between management and control is so fine that a question arises, which need not be a contentious question, between the Borough Council and the local education authority, the Board of Education, as arbitrators, step in and say whether it is a matter on which the Borough Council is entitled to act. In the same way we provide that there should be no deficiency of good management, because if the Borough Council fails in its duty the local authority can demand from the Board of Education that it shall be allowed to step in. If hon. Members who have been most severe in their criticisms of a Bill which they have not read will be so good as to read the measure, which I hope, will shortly be in their hands, I think they will find that the policy of the Bill of last session has been put into effect in this measure, and that the London County Council is the authority, just as the County Councils all over the country are the authority in their respective areas. There will be some measure of decentralisation as regards management, but the directing power of the central authority will be felt in education all over London. The central authority will, I believe, work harmoniously with the Borough Councils, whom we are asking to take over some of the details of the administration of education in London.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

I am not a London Member, but I do not think I need to apologise for taking part in this debate. I believe that the agitation against this Bill will form part of a great national agitation which will result in the Education Acts being amended by one Bill which will cover the whole country. There are one or two questions which have not been elucidated by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in the course of his second speech which constitute a rather remarkable omission in his explanation of this Bill. The first thing that he skimmed over as a matter of no consequence is the management of voluntary schools.


I expressly stated that the managers of voluntary schools would be precisely in the same position in regard to the local authority under this Bill as they are under the Act of 1892.


Does that mean that four will be appointed by the denominational trustees and two by whom? Will it be by the County Council or the Borough Council?


I must refer the hon. Member to Clause 7 of the Act of 1902.


But the Bill of 1902 is not extended in several important particulars, and what I want to know is whether it is extended in this particular? Does the local education authority appoint two managers, or is it left to the Borough Council?


I must again refer the hon. Member to the Act.


I want to know who appoints the two managers who represent the ratepayers. Are they appointed by the Borough Council or by the Education Committee?


The County Council as the greater authority and the minor local authority will each appoint a manager, and there will be four foundation managers.


That is not the Act of 1902. The hon. Member not only does not know what is in the present Bill but he has forgotten the Bill of last year. I daresay that the approval of hon. Gentlemen and others is largely based upon the fact that they have forgotten a great deal of the provisions of last year's Bill. Here is the first departure from that Bill. The County Council, through its Committee, only appoints one, and the second is appointed by the Borough Council, while the remaining four are appointed by the trustees. The second point I want to put to somebody, and as the Secretary to the Board of Education has left his seat perhaps the President of the Local Government Board will attend to it. The right hon. Gentleman need not look so detached, because I believe that he has had far more to do with this Bill than many hon. Members think. I should like, while the Secretary to the Board of Education is getting some information about the Bill, to ask about rather a fundamental thing which seems to have been overlooked. I want to know if this Committee is exactly in the same position as the Committee of the County Council in the country. Is it purely a Committee of the County Council or is it a statutory body?




But the right hon. Gentleman is not responsible now. The Secretary to the Board of Education named a number of authorities who will be represented on this Committee. Have they got an absolute right of nomination, or is it left to the County Council to appoint or not?


Yes, the County Council have the absolute right of appointment. In order to account for the large number of twenty-five I instanced a number of bodies whom it might be thought proper to invite to send persons to act on the Committee.


What I understand is that the County Council is in the same position as the bodies of last year with an exception which I shall point out. The County Council need not give representation to any of these bodies if it thinks it desirable not to do so. If it does not then they are not in the same position as the County Councils in last year's Bill. The hon. Gentleman in explaining his Bill named the City Guilds, the Voluntary Associations, the London University, and Charitable Associations. Is that simply his private opinion as to the bodies that ought to be represented, or is it a direction in the Bill? I think that is fundamental.


I used them by way of illustration, and nothing more.


That is satisfactory, so far. Now we have got some idea of what sort of a Bill this is. There is nobody who is absolutely favourable to the Bill except one person, and he is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, who has approved of the Bill absolutely.


No, I approved of the principle.


Then the one solitary supporter of the Government has gone, and there is "none so poor to do him reverence." The right hon. Gentleman said that this was a complete democratic measure, and the Prime Minister punctuated his speech with cheers of relief. The right hon. Gentleman said it was a democratic measure, but it was a democracy which could not be trusted to choose its own representatives, and you must have all sorts of safeguards, and with all these provisions you may trust them perhaps to a certain extent. It is very interesting to get the idea of the representatives of the great democratic constituencies of Oxford and Cambridge Universities as to what a complete democratic measure is. First of all you have got the County Council, which is the greatest local authority, I think, in the world. To what extent can you trust this great local authority? First of all you cannot trust it to appoint its own Committee absolutely, and there are directions as to how it shall appoint a Committee. It can only appoint altogether something like one-third of the Committee. The County Council appoints twenty-five on the suggestion of some other bodies. In this respect, therefore, it does not get the same power as the County Council of Rutland. Rutland you can trust, because it has shown how it can be trusted by putting representa- tives of voluntary schools on its body. That is the test of the trustworthiness of this democracy. The test seems to be the extent to which they will trust education to voluntary schools and to the clergy. The London County Council may not do this, and therefore it cannot be trusted. Rutland is trustworthy, but London is not. There is another check upon the London County Council, and that is setting up another democratic authority and at the same time setting up a sort of civil war between the local authorities and the County Council. This is quite a new principle, and I defy the hon. Member, with all his learning, to quote a precedent. In order to check one authority elected by the ratepayers you set up a rival authority, and then you say. If you cannot agree we will call in the Board of Education, which is another great democratic institution. Mow is it to be worked? All the real power is vested in the Borough Councils, because, after all, when you control a business the most important thing is the appointment of the staff. The management, from the appointment of a staff to the repairing of a pane of glass, is to be left to the Borough Council, and the real management and control is left to it. In regard to the selection of sites a kind of circle is to be drawn, but by whom and how I do not know. Then the selection of the site is to be left to the Borough Councils, and if there is a dispute the Board of Education comes in to decide. The Secretary to the Board of Education said the Bill would excite great local interest about education. Undoubtedly the excitement will really be great over disputes about sites between these three great democratic bodies. I do not know what proportion the voluntary schools bear to the other schools in London, but there are a considerable number of those schools. Again there is a further experiment in this "great democratic measure," and that is in regard to voluntary school managers. The control is practically entirely in the hands of the denominationalists, and this is the idea of the Government of a "great democratic measure." The Secretary, to the Board of Education says you must have experts, for after all the democracy will not select men because of their educational knowledge. You cannot trust popular election, and you say, therefore, that the School Boards would not elect a man for educational efficiency, and that you must get the Borough Councils to do it. A School Board exists for no other purpose than education, and you say that the electors will not elect a man to that board because he understands education, but that when you have an election about main drains you will get a man who knows the technology of education. That is a very extraordinary doctrine which the hon. Gentleman has developed. The fact is the Bill is not made to work, and it will simply produce conflict. I thought it was utterly impossible to get a worse Bill than that of last year, but I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the ingenuity with which he has succeeded in that great task. The Bill of last year did give a certain amount of control to the County Council, but here you only have a divided authority between the County Council, which provides the money, the Borough Council which spends, and the Board of Education which is to decide in cases of dispute. This is what is called popular control of education. It is a perfectly ludicrous Bill. The hon. Member says it is to get rid of the religious controversy; but does he think he will get rid of that controversy by Bills of this character? This is really one of the most amusing explanations of the Bill. You will introduce religious controversy in departments where it has never been before. At the Borough Council elections in November the contests will be purely and simply a religious controversy.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

No, no. [Laughter.]


The hon. Baronet the Member for Peckham laughs. He had better look up his religious and theological repertoire, because I can assure him that he will have to turn on a good many tunes of that description at the next election. At any rate, I am perfectly certain that at the borough elections in November the contest will be entirely on this ground, and roads and drains and all important questions of that character will be subordinated entirely to these sacerdotal and theological questions. That is a bad thing. The Prime Minister knows it. You cannot keep it out of Imperial elections. You cannot even keep it out of the East Manchester Conservative Association. That body is discussing the Prime Minister's theological views and condemning them. What is the good of talking about things of that sort? The Secretary to the Board of Education knows perfectly well that the theological controversy is at the bottom of this whole Bill. If it had not been for that the Bill would never have come into existence. The Cockerton judgment was inspired by theology. [An HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!] Of course it was. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, for some abstruse reason, is not present to - day Perhaps he is not satisfied with the "Kenyon-Slaneyism" of the Bill, which, by the way, is a point that the Secretary to the Board of Education has left untouched. The hon. Member has left out all the interesting parts of the Bill. He has gone into minute questions of organisation, but the real controversy, what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University calls the principle of the Bill, has been ignored. It has, I think, been ignored with great skill by the hon. Member representing the Board of Education, but we cannot keep these things out. I agree with the hon. Member for Battersea that it is not a question altogether of ad hoc or of the County Council. I am not a great believer in ad hoc authority. It is very difficult to dogmatise on the question of that authority. In America they have tried the ad hoc authority, and they are not satisfied with it, and they are trying something else. What is really at the bottom of the whole business is this question of sectarianism. That is why the Borough Councils are introduced, and everybody knows that very well. The Government cannot trust the County Council at the present moment, but they can trust the Borough Councils because of their political complexion. The hon. Gentleman in explaining the Bill said that this was not a Water Board; it was not a twin ship to the Water Board. I think it is a twin I screw which is to propel the same great ship or machine of monopoly. It is intended to secure the monopoly of clerical domination over the schools. I do not agree with my hon. friend the Member for Poplar that these things ought to be discussed in Committee. I hope we shall never meet this Bill in Committee at all. I hope it will never go so far after the very sweeping and severe criticism it received from the hon. Member for West Ham, who is an authority on the question of education. I really do not see how a Bill which has been condemned by practically every speaker—how any majority of the House of Commons that has any self-respect can persevere with it. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury ought to reconsider it, and give us another try. I hope before the Bill is absolutely printed he will be able to reconsider it, and that we will hear no more of this perfectly grotesque and silly measure.


I hope the Secretary to the Board of Education will not be disturbed by the rhetorical fireworks of my hon. friend the Member for Carnarvon. My hon. friend is bound by his own past history to condemn the Bill, and it is equally certain that any Bill of any description brought in on this side of the House would be assailed in similarly unmeasured terms by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench. Hon. Members opposite have made a great deal of the fact that every one who had spoken on this side of the House, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, had condemned the educational measure proposed by the Government. As regards that, I would say that I do not believe that hon. Members have thoroughly understood the Bill. The only information they have upon it was gathered from the speech of the Secretary to the Board of Education. I do not see any reason at all why Members on this side of the House should not be satisfied with the measure which has been brought forward by the Government. As to the question in regard to the power of choosing sites, that is a very small matter, because these sites are already nearly dealt with. Then we come to the question that the County Council have already too much to do. After all, after the first three or five years, it will become a matter of routine, and very little work will be placed on the County Council. Personally, however, I think the County Council ought to have a larger majority on the Statutory Education Committee than the Bill proposes, and in order to give that majority the borough councillors might be cut out altogether. I think when the House comes to see the Bill it will be found that it is not so destructive of education in London as they imagine.

MR. CORRIE GRANT (Warwickshire, Rugby)

I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes in criticising the measure. I think we all agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is very desirable that we should see the Bill before entering on detailed criticism. We hope the measure as printed will contain the final proposals of the Government; that we are not going to have endowment clauses sprung upon us after the measure has been guillotined, and provisions for the benefit of sectarian establishments foisted into a measure at the last moment. I think there is only one thing on which this House will be agreed in regard to this Bill. I think the whole House is agreed in having the very greatest feeling for the hon. Baronet in the task which has been imposed upon him this afternoon. I do not think the oldest Member can recall an occasion in which a Government measure has been introduced from the Front Bench without a single cheer or sign of approval from the Members behind. Perhaps that is partly due to the fact that the hon. Baronet has had no experience whatever of elementary education. His experience has been confined to another class of education altogether, and probably he would have discharged the task much better, and certainly the Bill would have been much better, if he had had any experience of that popular education and popular election which he condemned in his speech. If he had the experience of a single popular School Board meeting in London, he would have formed a much higher opinion of the effect of popular election on School Board members, and he would have had a much higher opinion of the men who have to administer education in London. The hon. Baronet has apparently altogether overlooked how very badly his scheme of allowing Borough Councils to appoint teachers will work in the interests of the children themselves. One of the most difficult and onerous tasks imposed on the London School Board is the selection of teachers. The best men come to the front only after years of training, after many examinations and tests by inspectors. The Board in making these appointments always has to fight against local influences which are brought to bear on behalf of individual teachers. The vital fault which lies at the back of the hon. Baronet's scheme is that he wants to secure the admission of men and women who are too indolent or too fastidious

to stand a popular election and want to come in by a side wind and obtain control of the work. We have an admission from the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken of another evil of the Bill when he said he preferred to give the London County Council a bigger majority. It is significant that on the First Reading of the Bill criticisms from the hon. Members for Essex and West Ham should go to the root of the Bill.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 159; Noes, 77. (Division List No. 60.)

Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Macdona, John Cumming
Aird, Sir John Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose- M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Allsopp, Hon. George Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W
Anson, Sir William Reynell Flannery, Sir Fortescue M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Flower, Ernest Majendie, James A. H.
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Forster, Henry William Maple, Sir John Blundell
Arrol, Sir William Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W. Martin, Richard Biddulph
Atkinson, Rt. Hon John Galloway, William Johnson Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H E. (Wigt'n
Bailey, James (Walworth) Gardner, Ernest Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Baird, John George Alexander Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)
Balcarres, Lord Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn Morrison, James Archibald
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim Mount, William Arthur
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Goulding, Edward Alfred Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute
Bignold, Arthur Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury) Nicholson, William Graham
Bill, Charles Hain, Edward Nicol, Donald Ninian
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hall, Edward Marshall Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)
Bond, Edward Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Midd'x O'Malley, William
Boulnois, Edmund Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm. Peel, Hn. Wm. R. Wellesley
Bull, William James Hare, Thomas Leigh Percy, Earl
Butcher, John George Hatch, Ernest Frederick G. Pierpoint, Robert
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Hay, Hon. Claude George Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley) Pretyman, Ernest George
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Heath, James (Staff's., N. W.) Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Chamberlain, Rt Hon J. (Birm Henderson, Sir Alexander Redmond, William (Clare)
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J A. (Worc. Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Remnant, Jas. Farquharson
Chapman, Edward Horner, Frederick William Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Charrington, Spencer Houston, Robert Paterson Robertson, H. (Hackney)
Clive, Captain Percy A. Howard, J. (Midd., Tott'ham Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Cochrane, Hon. Thos H. A. E. Hudson, George Bickersteth Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Jameson, Major J. Eustace Round, Rt. Hon. James
Collings, Right Hon. Jesse Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Compton, Lord Alwyne Keswick, William Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Cranborne, Viscount Laurie, Lieut.-General Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Crossley, Sir Savile Law, Andrew Bonar (Galsgow) Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)
Cust, Henry John C. Lawson, John Grant Seely, Maj J E B. (Isle of Wight)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Davenport, William Bromley Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Denny, Colonel Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S. Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Dickson, Charles Scott Lockie, John Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)
Duke, Henry Edward Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jn. M.
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Lowe, Francis William Stroyan, John
Faber, George Denison {York) Loyd, Archie Kirkman Sturt, Hn. Humphry Napier
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Man'r Lundon, W. Thornton, Percy M.
Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M. Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Tritton, Charles Ernest Whitmore, Charles Algernon TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.
Valentia, Viscount Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud) Furness, Sir Christopher Roe, Sir Thomas
Ashton, Thomas Gair Goddard, Daniel Ford Rose, Charles Day
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy. Grant, Corrie Russell, T. W.
Bell, Richard Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles
Brigg, John Harwood, George Schwann, Charles E.
Broadhurst, Henry Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale- Shackleton, David James
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Hayter, Rt Hon Sir Arthur D. Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)
Burns, John Holland, Sir William Henry Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Jacoby, James Alfred Shipman, Dr. John G.
Caldwell, James Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Causton, Richard Knight Layland-Barratt, Francis Spencer, Rt. Hn C. B. (Northants
Crooks, William Leng, Sir John Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Dalziel, James Henry Levy, Maurice Wallace, Robert
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Logan, John William Wason, E. (Clackmannan)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardign Lough, Thomas Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Weir, James Galloway
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose Whiteley, G. (York, W. R.)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Norman, Henry Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Duncan, J. Hastings Norton, Capt. Cecil William Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Elibank, Master of Paulton, James Mellor
Emmott, Alfred Rea, Russell TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. William M'Arthur.
Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan) Reckitt, Harold James
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith Rickett, J. Compton
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Rigg, Richard
Foster, Sir Michl. (Land. Univ Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co. Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir William Anson, Mr. Walter Long, and Mr. Attorney-General.