§ Order for Second Heading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I rise to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months, and in doing so may I say that I am acting, I believe, on behalf of the whole Opposition. I am quite sure that I have in this matter the entire and absolute sympathy of my London colleagues; and as showing some justification for the position I am occupying, may I say that some years ago, in the dim and distant past, I had the honour for six years of being a member of the London School Board. I may therefore claim as much knowledge of the problem we have to 664 solve as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University has gained in his experience at the Education Department. At the outset, and before dealing with the merits of the Bill, I wish to enter a protest which I believe will have the sympathy of the whole House. We have of late got into a system of Bill by reference. This Bill affects the whole of London, with its population of five or six millions, yet there is only one comprehensible clause in it; all the other clauses are examples of legislation by reference. Therefore the hon. Gentleman in charge of it will have to excuse me if in the course of my remarks I misinterpret the measure in any particular.
There is only one good word that I can say for the Bill, and that is that in regard to higher education the limited rate of 2d. is excluded from London, and the County Council and local authority will be able to spend such money as they desire in the furtherance of higher education. I am bound to say, however, I fear their power in that direction will be considerably curtailed in consequence of the addition to the rates which will be necessary for the relief which is to be given to the subscribers to voluntary schools. In discussing this Bill I think we shall have one advantage which we did not enjoy in the debates on last year's Bill. Last year the questions discussed turned chiefly on the religious question and the question of the non-provided schools, whereas now all we have chiefly to consider is the questions of the Authority and of the provided schools. That is due to the fact that the proportion of voluntary schools as compared with board schools is comparatively small in London, to the fact that in every case the parent has a choice of schools, and also to the way in which the London School Board has carried out its work, which has done much to alleviate the religious difficulty. I desire, however, to say that we strongly protest against rate aid being given to voluntary schools without complete public control, and shall continue to protest until we have the opportunity of reversing that policy. I am glad to think, however, that in London the matter is not such an acute one as it is in the case of those 8,000 parishes of which we heard so much in the debates of last year, in which Nonconformist parents were not only bound to support the voluntary schools, but are 665 also compelled to send their children to schools with the religious atmosphere of which they disagree.
The religious question being then less acute in London than in the provinces, some of us had hoped that, in the circumstances, the Government would have dealt with the education question in London courageously and comprehensively, so as to promote national education. But we have been woefully disappointed. On the occasion of the First Reading of this Bill all of us who spoke on this side of the House condemned both its principles and details. I do not think it improves on acquaintance; the more we have looked at it the less we have liked it, and I think our criticisms on the First Reading were mild in comparison with those we shall have to direct against the measure now. The Government had an opportunity of dealing with this matter on broad general lines, and I would like to point out to the House that they could have dealt with it entirely apart from the Bill of last year, the only vital principle being the co-ordination of education under a single authority, on which we are all agreed. It cannot be pretended that any other vital principle is involved. Nor does the Bill embody the only proposal the Government had before them. It is an open secret that the Government have considered some scores of plans which they have debated, altered, or rejected until the proposals finally solidified into their present form, which is, I think, the worst of all. They cannot, therefore, at all events, plead the question of principle. Then there was no obligation on them to follow slavishly for London the policy they had laid down for the country. In regard to educational matters, London has always been treated separately from the country. I find that the largest number of children in average attendance in schools in any town in the provinces is 75,000—at both Birmingham and Manchester. But in London the number in average attendance is 750,000, and, therefore, while it may be right to municipalise our education in cases where you are dealing with 75,000 children, it may be the height of folly to do so when you are dealing with 750,000 children. It may be quite right to give the control of 75,000 children to a municipal body in the country, but at the same, time it may 666 be the height of inexpediency to give the control of 750,000 to any municipal body existing in London. Then we are not dealing with the same municipal bodies in London as in the country. The London County Council is not a County Council except in name—it is a deal more so; the Borough Councils are not Borough Councils except in name—they are a good deal less so. My hon. friend apparently does not agree with that, but I will ask him this: If the Borough Councils in London are in exactly the same position as County Borough Councils in the country, why do not the Government propose to divide London up into twenty-nine separate places, and to give to each the control of education in its district? The hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education knows that that would be impossible, and that is, shortly, my answer to his contention that the Borough Councils in London are the same as the County Borough Councils in the country.
That being so, and the Government having, as I think, a clean slate in the matter, and having a free hand, surely it was their duty to take into consultation those primarily interested. I should have thought that when they were going to abolish a body like the London School Board and to confer these duties on the County and Borough Councils they would have taken all these into consultation. But they did nothing of the kind; and now they are trying to rush the Second Reading of the Bill, without any adequate reason, before the two great bodies concerned have had any opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. Of course I know why they are doing so. The debate on the First Reading showed that the general sense of the House was that the Bill as it stood was ridiculous, and the Government are afraid that unless they can get the Second Reading before the County Council and the School Board have an opportunity of criticising the measure, it will be so torn to shreds that they will have to withdraw it altogether. Where are they getting support for this Bill from? I presented a petition against it from thirty-five members of the School Board, including 667 clergymen of the Church of England, Roman Catholic priests, Moderates, and others who in the ordinary way support the Government. The Parliamentary Committee of the London County Council though they have had very little time to consider the Bill, have levelled a most crushing indictment against it. Further than that, thirteen, I believe, of the Borough Councils have passed resolutions declaring that they do not desire it, and I should like to know how many of the rest have passed resolutions in favour of the Bill. Then to turn to the debate on the First Reading. The hon. Members for the Strand, for South Manchester and for one of the Divisions of Essex, all representative men, with regard to a question of this nature, spoke in the course of that debate, and absolutely condemned the principle of the Bill and the inclusion in it of the Borough Councils. Is that the kind of support which the Government are going to get from Members of this House and from Moderates outside?
What is the problem with which the Government has to deal in this question? Its magnitude I have already mentioned. There are 750,000 children in average attendance in the Metropolis. There are some thousand schools and 20,000 teachers, so that the problem is as great as if we were dealing with the education of Scotland as a whole. We are all agreed that what is required in dealing with this matter is the coordination of all grades of education, and the placing of all education in the hands of a single authority. There were then three courses open to the Government. There was, first, the adoption of the ad hoc principle—viz., the creation of a body directly elected for the purpose of education or for some other general purpose, like the School Board or the London County Council. The second alternative was to make the London County Council the sole and supreme authority; and the third was what is commonly called a Water Board, to create a conglomeration of heterogeneous authorities, one part directly elected, and the other part created by the- process of selection and of delegation. I want to ask the hon. Gentleman why the Government passed over the ad hoc authority, and deliberately chose what I consider to 668 be the worst of the three plans. I am not going to say much about the London School Board. Everybody who has watched its course will admit that, during the thirty years it has been in existence, it has done admirable work for the citizens of London. It has had one advantage. It has been an absolutely pure body. It has had another advantage, viz., the enormous influence it has exercised in London in bringing together different sections of public men, belonging to different denominations, and inducing them to work together for the good of the children of London. It has had an additional advantage in the shape of the assistance of many talented women who have helped in its work. These women, unfortunately, have now ceased to take their proper share in the work. I admit that there have been blemishes in the work of the London School Board; but surely, in the establishment of a reformed body, it would have been a very simple matter to take steps which would cause those blemishes to disappear. The hope of some of us was, that we should have had an educational Authority efficient for all purposes, rising from the ashes of the London School Board.
But the Government have wantonly put that alternative aside. The Secretary for the Board of Education, in dealing with the London School Board, argued that the electors take no interest in its proceedings. I do not entirely agree with him there. I deplore, as all of us who have anything to do with London government must deplore, the very great apathy that is shown by the ordinary London citizen. But it is not a remedy for that to abolish the only opportunity which the citizens now have of taking a direct interest in educational matters. Surely, the best way of dealing with such a state of things is to give greater powers and greater work to your educational authority, and thereby seek to create greater interest among the citizens of London in its work. Again, the hon. Gentleman said there was too much centralisation, that the administration of the School Board was over-centralised. I entirely agree with him in that. When I was a member of the Board, and, indeed, eversince, I have considered that this over-centralisation is a very great fault. But that is, after all, a comparatively small matter, which could have been easily remedied if the School Board had been 669 taken as a basis of authority. It could have been reformed in the way I have suggested.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I did not quite catch what reforms the hon. Member suggested.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am sorry I did not make myself clear. What I meant to convey was, that if the School Board had been made a larger and more important body, that would necessarily have led to a very considerable amount of local decentralisation.
The third objection which the hon. Gentleman made to the London School Board was, that the members were over-zealous, and in connection with that he referred to the Cockerton judgment. But, in regard to that matter, may I point out that their action was encouraged and endorsed by the Education Department itself? I admit that the encouragement was given at a time when there was still a spark of educational zeal left at the Education Department, but still I should have thought that was no reason for abolishing the Board. It was, on the contrary, a reason for giving it greater and better work to do. In former days, when we promoted reforms in this House, our plan was to uproot rotten trunks and to get rid of rotten branches. But the idea of reform of the hon. Gentleman to-day seems to be to cut down young and vigorous trees, instead of digging round about the roots and pruning the branches, so that they may grow more vigorously in the future than in the past.
But the real reason why the hon. Gentleman desires to abolish the School Board is to be found in what he calls the unfortunate characteristics of direct election. [Sir WILLIAM ANSON dissented.] The hon. Gentleman said, I think, that direct election led to certain unfortunate characteristics of delegation.
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANOSN, Oxford University)
I said direct election for one purpose only.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I do not wish to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman, 670 but I desire to remind the House that this was his most formidable objection to the London School Board. He went on to say that the elections did not turn on purely educational questions, and that the voters were swayed by political, social and local reasons. He said, further, that London electors will vote for Mr. B., whom they know and appreciate, but will not vote for Mr. A., whom they do not know, although he may be the better educational expert, and, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, ought to be elected rather than Mr. B. He went on to say that it would be of no use having experts on the Board if they were to be swamped by directly elected Members. Therefore, direct election is to be abolished as far as the School Board is concerned. This is the most astonishing doctrine of representative government which I have ever heard advanced in the House of Commons, and it was cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Conservative Party was once called an "organised hypocrisy," and, really, if this is the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to local representative bodies, it is curious that they should have created the London County Council, which is an ad hoc authority directly elected for municipal purposes, and Borough Councils, which are also ad hoc authorities directly elected. If hon. Gentlemen are going to be logical they must abolish these bodies, as well as the School Board. But I want to know from the Secretary to the Board of Education how he will be better off in this respect when he has abolished the London School Board, and handed its powers over to the County and Borough Councils. He has laid it down that the local educational authority should be an authority popularly elected, and directly responsible to the ratepayers. In his speech the other day, he said there would be elections for the County and Borough Councils in. which educationists can take an interest. I want to ask him this. He says when they are voting direct for an educational body the voters are swayed by local, political and social questions. When next November and next March the elections referred to by the hon. Gentleman take place, are the electors 671 going to be simply influenced by educa-cational matters, or are they not likely to be swayed by political, social and local reasons as well as, I trust, by municipal reasons? I think under those circumstances the hon. Gentleman's favourite, Mr. A., will have a good deal less chance of securing election to one of these bodies than if he were standing for a purely educational authority.
No, Sir, the only logical outcome of the hon. Gentleman's position is this. That he himself and the Education Department should select every representative on the education authority; and a more eminently unfit body to carry on a democratic work like education than that would be, I cannot possibly conceive. I want to put one further question to the hon. Gentleman in regard to this question of election, and that is, how far the electors will have an opportunity of expressing their opinions in regard to educational matters? I venture to say that some of us will be placed in a difficult position at future elections. This position may arise and will arise. I will take two candidates for my purpose—Mr. C, and Mr. D. Mr. C. is a good man at municipal work, but he knows as little about educational matters as the late President of the Board of Education—he may not even know what a pupil teacher is. Mr. D. has great knowledge of educational natters, but is very hazy in the matter of drains. Now, I want both good education and good drains, but if I vote for Mr. C. I get good drains and bad education, while if I vote for Mr. D. I shall get good education and shall probably die from typhoid fever. That is the sort of quandary in which many of us will be placed. It is no exaggeration at all, and I venture to say that the more elections turn on municipal matters the worse it will be for education, while the more they turn on educational matters the worse it will be for municipal work. There is another point I must put to the hon. Gentleman, and I can assure him that all these are practical and not mere debating points. He says that the se bodies are to be popularly elected and directly responsible to the ratepayers. It is of no use their being directly responsible, unless the ratepayers have an opportunity, not only of expressing their views, but of giving effect to them by, if necessary, changing the personnel of 672 the bodies. What I want to know is this. He says that the electors, under his proposal, are to have practical means of bringing home to the bodies which they elect the particular educational views and policy which they desire to see pursued. But how are you going to secure that in the body he proposes to create? It is divided into three sections, one elected by one set of ratepayers to the London County Council, another elected by another set of ratepayers to the Borough Councils, and a third not elected by any ratepayers at all. How are the ratepayers as a whole going to express their views in regard to grave educational matters which may have to be dealt with by this body? There are 118 elected members of the London County Council. At the outside only thirty-five of these can, by any possibility, have any direct power over educational matters. In the case of the Borough Councils it will be only one member out of forty or fifty who will have a direct voice in educational matters. We are thus brought to this position. Unless the election of the whole 118 members of the London County Council is to turn on educational matters the ratepayers will have no control over these questions. And, speaking as a ratepayer, I assert that the chances are forty to one against a particular ratepayer even having an opportunity of giving a vote which will influence the Borough Councils in educational matters, while it will be a four to one chance in the I case of the London County Council.: It is, therefore, a farce for the hon. Gentleman to say that there will be complete electoral control over the election. This all comes from the abolition of direct election in the body which is to govern London education.
But supposing an ad hoc authority be out of the question, what is the alternative the Government suggests to put in its place? The hon. Gentleman has submitted a Board which he suggests will be better constituted and better fitted to perform the work there is for it to do. What is this better designed Board? It is a sort of hotch-potch of authorities, including representatives of the London County Council, the Borough Councils, the Board of Education, the experts and the managers. Do we get the co-ordination which we all desire in 673 this matter? As far as I can understand the Bill, higher education will be carried out on a different system to elementary. You will have different sets of managers, there will be one set for the elementary schools, and another set for the evening schools; and I also understand that the provided schools will be dealt with in a different way to the non-provided schools. Is that co-ordination? Shall we in that way get the on authority which we all desire? No, on the contrary, we shall have five authorities. Shall we get that complete control by a central authority responsible to the ratepayers which we all desire? No, we shall not, because the central authority is put in a statutory minority on the body which it is supposed to control. There is no such thing as co-ordination under one authority, neither is there complete control in the scheme of the hon. Gentleman.
In his speech on the First Reading the hon. Gentleman said that this was not a Water Board. No, Sir, it is not. It is much worse than a Water Board. In his scheme the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board gave the sole control of all its duties and revenues to one body, and did not pitchfork a lot of experts on to that body, neither did he give the Borough Councils double authority on the Water Board. Last Autumn we in London were groaning under the yoke of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. But I am bound to say that it he chastised us with whips the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education is now chastising us with scorpions, and if I had to choose between the Jeroboam of the Local Government Board and the Rehoboam of the Board of Education, I should prefer the Jeroboam of the Water Board to the Rehoboam of the Education Authority.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
If the hon. Gentleman will refer to his authority he will find that the comparison is not between Jeroboam and Rehoboam, but between Solomon and Rehoboam.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
My recollection is nothing of the sort. However, I do not wish to unduly prolong my speech by introducing this new religious element into the debate. If the right 674 hon. Gentleman will refer to the text he will see that the comparison was as between the old man and the young man. The one recommended a more severe punishment than the other. However, I do not mind, I am quite willing to accept the right hon. Gentleman's description of the President of the Local Government Board as Solomon, but I say I should prefer to be chastised with his whip rather than with the scorpions of the Board of Education.
If we are not to have an ad hoc authority then we must have a very different authority to that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. If education in London is to be municipalised, it must surely be done in the way it has been accomplished in the counties, viz., by giving complete and full control to the County Council. The hon. Gentleman will say that I am forcing an open door. For what did he say in regard to this matter on the First Reading? He said he was putting the London County Council on the same footing as the other County Councils, who had been made the educational authority with full control, and with a clear majority on the Board. I think he must have forgotten what was in the Act of last year, which he was so instrumental in passing. As regards the position of County Councils, they were to have at least a majority of their own members on the Education Committees; they need only appoint outsiders, if they thought it desirable, and, in so far as they appointed outsiders, they were to have complete power as regards nomination and appointment. Further, they were to nominate no less than four out of the six local managers for the provident schools; and they were to have complete control over the appointment and dismissal of teachers. Contrast that with the Bill now before the House. The London County Council were not to have a majority on the education authority. At the very best, they would be in a minority of thirty-six to ninety-seven. In the selection and election of thirty-one other members they would have no voice at all; and in the selection and election of the remaining thirty members their powers would be greatly circumscribed. They would have to delegate enormous powers to this large committee which they would have no means of resuming. They could not control it. 675 The statutory managers would be totally independent of them, and would have in their hands the appointment of the teachers, the selection of the sites, and the custody of the buildings, and an appeal from the education authority to the Education Department. It seems to me that it is idle to say that that would be putting the London County Council in the same position as other County Councils. I do not think that this scheme can possibly work; and it seems to me monstrous that the largest municipal body in the whole kingdom should be treated in a way in which none of the smaller County Councils have been treated by the Government. The London County Council are to be hampered and checked at every turn. They will be prevented from having full control over matters which affect them; and the electors are to be prevented from having a voice in regard to education. It seems to me that if we are not to have an ad hoc authority the County Council must be absolute masters in their own house. They must have a majority on the committee, and they must have the nomination of other members; the committee must not contain any statutory persons at all. The Council must be allowed to have the full power of appointing managers, and they must retain the appointment and dismissal of teachers. This is the only way in which you can hope to have a harmonious dealing with this question, and the only way in which we can have educational progress under the London County Council.
There is one question in connection with the Council on which I wish to say a word. Assuming that the County Council is adopted as the education authority in place of the School Board, can they undertake the work? As far as we can see their work, they are ready and willing to undertake anything that may be legitimately put upon them. Surely, it is not we who have argued that the County Council are incapable of undertaking further work; but it is surprising to find right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have refused to put on the shoulder of the County Council municipal duties such as water and docks, putting on them matters which are in no way municipal. I look with some doubt to putting this extra enormous burden on the County Council, for I am afraid it may relax, to a certain extent, their efforts elsewhere. 676 But I say emphatically that if we are not to have an ad hoc authority, the work must be given, not only to the County Council, but to the County Council pure and simple. The County Council must be the sole and supreme authority. I apologise to the House for detaining it so long, and I only wish to say a few words with regard to another matter, to which I have not yet specifically referred. I mean the double representation of the Borough Councils, first on the Education Committee, and secondly as the statutory managers in their own districts. I do not think I need trouble the House by saying much as to the position of the Borough Councils on the Education Committee. I think it is common knowledge that that part of the Bill has already gone; and that before the Bill is through Committee we shall see the County Council given a majority on the Statutory Committee. That can only be done by leaving out the Borough Councils. I saw that London Conservative Members passed a Resolution yesterday in which they proposed to give the County Council a majority on the Statutory Committee, without eliminating the representatives of the Borough Councils. Of course, that was in order to meet the two views held on the other side of the House; but I think any one who looks into the matter will find that that is quite impossible. Already the number proposed by the Government is too unwieldy. It is as unwieldy as the Water Board, which already is almost breaking down through sheer weight of numbers. The only way in which the proposal of hon. Gentlemen opposite can be carried out is by adding to the Committee some ten or twenty more members from the County Council, which would not only make the Committee unwieldy, but would not leave a sufficient number of members on the County Council for other work. While that part of the Bill will go, I am afraid that the other double representation of the Borough Councils will still remain. They are to be put in the position of statutory managers, without any power being given to the County Council to revise or control their proceedings, and they are to be given the enormous influence and power of selecting and dismissing teachers, which, in my opinion, will make them quite independent of the education authority in the general 677 direction and management of the schools. I think this is a very, serious blot on the Bill I cannot conceive anything worse for education in London than that the question of the appointment and dismissal of teachers should be in the hands of the local authorities rather than in the hands of the central authority. We want, in this respect, a uniform standard of excellence and a wide field, of selection, and we want the selection to be in the hands of the central body, who will insist that the best teachers shall be sent to certain schools, and who will let teachers rise by merits, take the rough with the smooth. That is the only way, in my opinion, to prevent jobbery and undue pressure being brought to hear on the appointments. When the Bill is in Committee we will, no doubt, have some Amendments to suggest; but, in my opinion, whatever Amendments are adopted will not make the Bill of any use educationally to London. Whether as regards an ad hoe authority, or the London County Council as the sole education authority, I do not believe that this Bill is capable of carrying out either contention; and therefore I shall oppose it, even if the Government endeavours to amend it. It is grotesque to start with; and will lead to endless confusion between different authorities. It is a retrogressive Bill, and is a great blow to municipal democratic government in London. It is depriving the citizens, as is the policy of the President of the Local Government Board, of all control over their own affairs, with the result that they will have' no voice no control, no interest in their affairs. I cannot conceive anything more disastrous to the good government of London, or to the citizenship of the inhabitants of London. I believe this Bill will be a fatal blow to educational progress and to municipal progress also. On those grounds I certainly have great pleasure in moving its rejection at the present moment, and shall oppose it at every subsequent stage.
§ DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
I desire to second the Motion; and I desire to say, first of all, that I am surprised that the Prime Minister should have rushed the Second Reading of this Bill without giving the School Board or the County Council any opportunity of discussing it. Both bodies had risen for 678 the Easter recess before the Bill was issued, and have not yet met; and we are now engaged on the Second Reading of this Bill before they have had an opportunity of discussing it. That is not what we ought to expect in the way of consideration and courtesy from the Prime Minister. There are a number of very controversial educational questions involved in this Bill, but I do not intend to refer to them now. I propose only to deal with a fundamental and acute issue, namely, the question of the constitution of the local education authority in London. I want to confine myself absolutely and entirely to that particular question. What is the policy of the Government with regard to the local control of education. I think I shall put it fairly when I say that the Government policy is to hand over the local control of education to Municipal Councils. When the First Lord of the Treasury enunciated that policy last year I said that there was nothing necessarily antidemocratic in it. Take the case of a town of 10,000 inhabitants. There, you could very easily make the Town Council the education authority, and you need have no second authority in that case; but when we come to the great urban areas, the great county boroughs, there you are confronted with an education problem so minute and detailed, but so vast in its bulk, that you cannot safely municipalise the control of education. If you do, you will find that you are compelled to call in a very large number of outsiders, who are not responsible to the ratepayers, to carry on the work; and I am bound to say that while I pleaded last year, again and again, for the continuation of the great urban School Boards in a perfected form, capable of controlling higher education, I feel that we shall be confronted at a very early date with appeals from these great urban centres, asking us, not in any partisan spirit, but from the point of view of pure educationists, to do one or two things—either to revive the ad hoc principle or to secure an enlarged membership for City Councils, in order that the work shall remain in the hands of the representatives of the ratepayers.
When I come to the case of London the physical impossibility of municipalisation 679 seems to me to be overwhelming. To put the problem of London education in a sentence, in the work of the School Board, the voluntary schools, and of higher education, there is involved the supervision of 2,000 separate educational institutions, the control of 20,000 public servants, the education of 1,000,000 pupils and students, and the expenditure of £4,000,000 of public money. The hon. Member for Poplar said that that was a piece of work as big as the education of all Scotland. That is correct, and he might have gone on to say that the education of Scotland has called for the creation of 972 School Boards and thirty-nine Secondary Education Committees. He might also have said that it is a piece of work three times as great as the education of Wales, which up to the present has called for the creation of 350 School Boards, twelve County Education Committees, three County Borough Committees, and the great Welsh Central Education Board. But I will not rest my case upon a comparison with Scotch or Welsh education. After examining it with the most painstaking care, I say that the education of London represents a piece of work far more minute in its details and just as large in bulk as the whole of the work of the London County Council. That is the comparison upon which I rest my case. Take the School Board work alone—excluding altogether the work of voluntary schools and higher education. Here is the diary issued to members of the School Board for the present week: Monday, 10.30 a.m. special Sub-committee of the School Management Committee on special subjects of instruction; noon, Teaching Staff Sub-committee of the School Management Committee. At that one meeting there were 141 teachers to be seen, considered for promotion, or in extreme cases, for criticism in consequence of default of duty. Also at noon, Sub-committee of Pupil Teachers' Committee on preliminary selection of assistants for Stockwell and Marylebone pupil teachers' centres; at one o'clock, Sub-committee of Works Committee on Contracts; at two o'clock, they met for ordinary business; also at two o'clock, special Sub-committee of General Purposes Committee on solicitors' charges in litigation cases; at 2.30, 680 General Purposes Committee; at 3 o'clock Sites and Finance Sub-committee of Works Committee; also at 3 o'clock, the Evening Continuation Schools Committee (at the meeting of which there are frequently a hundred teachers to be considered, appointed or transferred). That was yesterday. What is the diary of today? At 10.30, Sub-committee of the Finance Committee on Accounts; 10.30, Finance Rota; 11 o'clock, Finance Committee; 2 o'clock, Subcommittee of Works Committee on repairs.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
There would be seven or eight members on the Subcommittee on Accounts, from fifteen to twenty on the Finance Committee, and four on the Finance Rota.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
Are they going to attend under this Bill? Under an ad hoc scheme those who elect can ask members why they do not attend. Under this scheme out of ninety-seven persons you can tackle only thirty-six—the County Councillors. To go on with the diary. It will be the same thing to-morrow. On Thursday the Board will meet for four or five hours public session; on Friday there is a meeting of a big and onerous Committee—the School Management Committee; and I take it that Saturday and Sunday will be spent in reading up the agendas for next week. But Members will say, "Oh, you can devolve a lot of this work. "When I went to the School Board I was as keenly for devolution as the hon. Member for Poplar. There are some matters you could devolve, but they are not very substantial, and you could not devolve even those with safety. There is scarcely anything that could be devolved, and those who say that devolution is the remedy do not mean good administration. If hon. Members would like to know what the School Board members were engaged upon yesterday, I have 681 here the agendas, twelve in number, and very voluminous, for Monday alone. What is the Government scheme for dealing with all this stupendous work? On the First Reading of the Bill the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education said—The Government lay down the principle that education should be linked with municipal government, and the object of this Bill is to place the London County Council to a great extent in the position in which the County Councils are placed by the Act of 1902. The cardinal principle of the Bill is to make education a part of our municipal institutions. The London County Council will be the local education authority for London.That is nominally the scheme. The Council will work through a Committee of whom thirty-six are members of the County Council, thirty-one members of the Borough Councils, with thirty others added. That is the present arrangement, but there is no finality in that proposal. I believe that this scheme will be modified out of recognition, but I may say at once that it will not satisfy me even then; I want something totally different. Look at the constitution of the Committee. The thirty-six County Councillors will be there by direct election. They will be substantially elected ad hoc though not exclusively for educational purposes. Thirty-one persons will be there by secondary election, chosen from the Borough Councils. Not one of those sixty-seven Members can be a woman. As a colleague of nine women members of the School Board I can speak of the admirable work and devoted service they have given to the public. I do not know whether the Government intend by reference to effect a complete revolution of the Local Government Act, 1888, and the London Government Act, 1899; otherwise, as I have said, not one of these members can be a woman. Of the remaining thirty members, of whom some may be women, not one will be elected on behalf of the ratepayers either directly or secondarily; they will be selected by the County Council. I have only one comment to make on that scheme. We need not bother about it; it was killed at its birth. I have no doubt that at a very early stage in the debate the Government will tell us that these proportions are to be altered. When the Local 682 Government Act, 1888, was before the House, the Prime Minister said—Certain representations have been made to the Government to create the London County Council by secondary election from the existing vestries and district boards of works.That is, exactly as it is now proposed to constitute the education authority for London. The Prime Minister dismissed the suggestion with a wave of the hand, and said—Apart from the point of view which I shall come to directly, it would be a revival to a certain extent of the principle adopted, tried, and finally rejected in the case of the Metropolitan Board of Works. It would introduce into the London County Council the element of secondary election, and although I think there are many eases in which secondary election works extremely well, still it has not a very good record behind it in the case of the Metropolitan Board of Works.I apply that comment of the Prime Minister to the scheme before us. But it is an abortion, and we need not discuss it further. The situation we have to face is quite a different one. I propose to face what I understand to be the critical situation at the present moment. Practically all sides are saying, "You stated that the County Council was to be the authority." The words are—The London County Council will be the local education authority for London.If you mean that, make the London County Council genuinely the authority. Take out the Borough Council representation and let the County Council have a clear majority. When we go into the Committee stage I understand that something of this sort is going to happen. The borough councillors must come right out, or, if they remain in, then County Council representation must be so increased as to give the county councillors a distinct majority on the Central Committee. I want to examine the situation which would be then created. Take the first alternative. Take the Borough Councils out and that would leave thirty-six county councillors and thirty outside persons. Does anybody suppose that in that event the thirty-six county councillors would be able to attend to this work? The mere taking out of the borough councillors and leaving in the thirty-six county councillors would, in my opinion, make the Bill worse, for the work would not be so likely to be carried on by 683 representatives of the ratepayers. with the borough councillors you have sixty-seven out of ninety-seven elected persons. But take away the thirty-one and then you have only thirty-Six elected persons. A Bill upon those lines would make matters worse than they are now, and I should oppose it. That is not the proposal of the London Unionist Members, who wish to leave the Borough Councils in, and to so enlarge the County Council representation as to secure that they have a distinct majority over the thirty-one borough councillors and outsiders. I do ask hon. Members to consider whether the County Council can spare the men for that work, whether they would be able to do it, and whether it is not a fact that the work would not fall into the hands of the co-opted persons and officials. When I hear hon. Gentlemen making this proposal, I cannot help remembering that, year after year, we had it from right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches that the County Council already had too much to do. I remember Lord Salisbury went to the Albert Hall in November, 1897, and charged the County Council with being smitten with megalomania, and he said—You will see, if you watch the proceedings of the London County Council, that they are overborne by the labour which they have to go through.The creation of the Borough Councils has not allowed any devolution of County Council work, for they have had more to do. The Duke of Devonshire in 1898 said—The London County Council has quite sufficient business, and quite sufficient important business, to occupy its whole and undivided attention.The Colonial Secretary said in February, 1895, at Stepney, that the London County Councillors had too much to do. He said—It is not their fault, because the task which they have undertaken is an absolutely impossible task. If they were archangels from heaven they could not do the work cast upon them.Those things are more true to-day than they were then. The London County Council last year had to keep sixty-eight committees and sub-committees going, and it called 1,313 meetings. If you are going to double the work, it will be 684 holding 2,626 meetings, and 136 committees and sub-committees, and how can it do that with its present membership? Since these statements were made, what has been done? Fourteen members have been detached for the Water Board, eight have been elected for the Port of London, six for the Thames Conservancy Committee, two for the Lea Conservancy, and now you are proposing to take thirty-six for the Board of Education, in a way which will take them away from all County Council work. You are proposing to take more than half the elected members of the County Council for other purposes, and I cannot help thinking that in this determination to destroy the School Board for London, there is a general endeavour on the part of someone or other to wreck the County Council. If the education work is to be done properly, you are bound to wreck the County Council. I know that some hon. Members opposite do not want to do that, and it is to them that I appeal. This Bill cannot be amended on the lines I have suggested except on one condition, and that is that you must be prepared to face the issue and increase the membership of the London County Council, so that you will then have enough members to carry on this work. [MINISTERIAL cheers.] I hope hon. Members opposite who cheer will press that point upon the Government, who do not love the London County Council. Here is an example of the impossibility of the County Council taking over this work. At the present time the London County Council controls a very small fringe of the educational area. It has got a Technical Education Board which has not got one-fiftieth part to do of what is involved in this Bill. Look at the constitution of the Technical Education Board. The Government scheme will make this a sort of glorified Technical Education Board. On this Board at present there are twenty county councillors and fifteen outsiders. Take the Higher Education Committee of that Board. It consists of five county councillors and seven outsiders. Is that municipalisation? Is that giving the work to the representatives of the ratepayers? Take the Scholarship Committee, which consists of five county councillors and nine outsiders. Then there is the Science and Art Committee, consisting of seven 685 county councillors and eight outsiders; and lastly, there is the Secondary Schools Committee, with five county councillors and eleven- outsiders. That may be a good scheme but it is not municipalisation. If you are going to put on a Committee a majority of people who are not directly responsible to the ratepayers it is not municipalisation. If a Technical Education Committee dealing only with a small corner of the whole area gets more co opted than elected persons, then I say that is a spurious and impossible form of municipalisation which we cannot accept on this side of the House. I consider this scheme is radically bad, and you cannot amend it along the lines suggested. In the words of Mrs. Poyser—You have got to hatch this over again and you have got to hatch it different.I have only one other point, and it is in regard to what I have to propose as an alternative. So far as London is concerned there are only two alternatives which I would commend to the Prime Minister. They constitute in some form a modification of the ad hoc principle. My belief is that we shall come eventually to some modification of that principle. The Government may say, "We destroyed the ad hoc principle for the provinces, and it would look like an abandonment of that policy to retain it in London." The Government scarcely need be so squeamish about that. I believe that the case of London is so unique that you could very well, without loss of dignity, apply a different principle to the rest of the country, and you could very well agree that there is nothing for London but the ad hoc principle. What is the ostensible reason given for shutting the door upon the ad hoc principle? Upon the introduction of this Bill the Secretary to the Board of Education said—At the last London School Board election only 18 per cent. of the electors went to the poll (Ministerial cheers).I do not know what the cheers were for. To me the matter is one to be deplored. The hon. Member went on to say—The figures of the School Board elections go a long wav to condemn a directly elected authority for London; therefore I do not propose to recommend a directly elected authority, and, in consequence, the object of this Bill will be to abolish the School Board for London.686 The figures given by the hon. Member are eloquent of the unconcern and apathy of the Londoner at the School Board election, and I am not here to defend them. If the electors of London had been less apathetic this Bill would have been impossible. Three weeks ago to-day. we were told frankly and openly in this House by a Minister of the Crown that—The object of this Bill will be to abolish the School Board for London.For thirty-two years men and women have gone down to the School Board offices on the Embankment and have silently and obscurely toiled day by day, with no public approbation, but quite the reverse in many cases, as I know to my cost. They have worked there for no personal advancement, but in order that London's citizens of to-morrow may be the better stewards of the national heritage to which they are the heirs. Three weeks ago Londoners were told that this beneficent institution was to be destroyed. Lord Lawrence, Sir Charles Reed, Dr. Angus, Canon Cromwell, Dr. Gladstone, Professor Huxley, Samuel Morley, Dr. Rigg, W. H. Smith, Archdeacon Sinclair, Bishop Thorold, Sir Richard Temple, and Miss Devonport Hill—these have carried for ward the great work in order that the condition of the London child may be benefited. Every other citizen whom you meet in London to-day is an old London School Board pupil. We are to-day asked to pass the Second Reading of the Bill which is to destroy the School Board. That fact, and not the figures of the last election, is to me the most bitter testimony of the unconcern of the London people. I believe they will wake up in this matter, and when they rub their eyes I believe they will get out of bed and make it hot for some of the purposes of this scheme if it is persisted in in any form. That statement about the 18 per cent. was a most misleading one to make. I do not believe that the Secretary to the Board of Education made it intentionally for the purpose of misleading, but what are the facts First of all, it was the lowest poll since 1894.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON, Oxford University)
I have a distinct recollection of my speech. I have a strong impression that I stated that the average poll was 26 per cent.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
I confess that I have overlooked that point, but 26 per cent. would not be very much more correct than 18 per cent. I will explain what I mean. At the poll the hon. Member refers to 832,071 went to the poll. In 1894 1,597,330 people went to the poll—that is twice as many people on a smaller register. It is 40 per cent. of the people. With regard to the 18 per cent. I agree that it is deplorable, but there are one or two good reasons for it which I would put forward. Why was the poll so small in 1900? Well, in October we had a General Election, and the people were inflamed with certain issues which left education in an obscuration, and people took no interest in it. On the 1st of November we had the first elections for the new Borough Councils, and 45 per cent. went to the poll. On the 29th of November we had the School Board election. There were, therefore, three elections in the course of two months, and the Londoner was a little bit tired of them. But the 18 per cent. was still more misleading Does the Parliamentary Secretary know that the rate book is the register in this case and that the areas are very large? I know people who are on the rate book over and over again for one School Board division, but they can only vote once in that division. A man of my own acquaintance is on the rate book six times; he goes to the poll once and he is held up as regards five-sixths of him as five apathetic persons. I am quite sure that the hon. Gentleman did not quite know the facts about the 18 per. cent. There is one other reason why the poll was so small, and that is because the areas are cumbrous. My own division—West Lambeth—has an area of 24 square miles, it contains 660,000 people, and it is represented by six members. How can you expect electors, however intelligent, to take an active interest in an election in an area of that sort? Of course the unconcern of the people is a very important matter. Let me explain what I think the Government ought to have done. I hope it may still do it. There are two alterations and two only. The Government might have said "These School Board areas are too large, we will simplify them to the Parliamentary areas, and we will elect one ad hoc 688 member for education—man or woman for each Parliamentary area. If you complain of too many elections on different franchises we will have the elections on the same day as the County Council, and on the same voting paper if you like. If you say that by electing one person only for each area you destroy the cumulative vote in which the de-nominationalists have an interest, very good, we will allow the people to elect an ad hoc authority and give it the statutory right of co-optation." That is one scheme. The other is equally simple and equally practicable, and is going to come to pass one of these days. You believe in municipalisation. I do not quarrel with you for that, if it is physically possible. Instead of electing two county councillors, elect three for each of the fifty-nine areas, and then let the County Council tell off fifty-nine of its members as an education committee to go on with the work of education. The scheme would secure that the work should be done by the representatives of the ratepayers, and that it would not fall into hands, as in this case, of outsiders and paid officials. I hope the Government will accept either of these schemes. I have no particular choice, but I would point out that in regard to the latter you would have to repeal certain provisions of the Local Government Act of 1888, otherwise women would not be eligible for a seat. I say deliberately that London, wherever it has declared itself, is in favour of one or other of these schemes. Take the Borough Councils. You are offering them aggrandisement and new powers. What is their answer? Battersea, Camberwell, Finsbury, Fulham, Lambeth, Lewisham, Poplar, Southwark, Wandsworth, Woolwich, Bethnal Green, and Shoreditch all declared in favour of some form of ad hoc and popularly elected authority for London. These boroughs represent more than half of the population of London. Hackney and Paddington have resolutions of a similar character under discussion. Bermondsey, the solitary ewe lamb of the Government, is not in favour of an ad hoc authority. But there is not one in favour of the Bill as it stands. The County Council to-day is passing a resolution which amounts to a preference for an ad hoc body.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
May I ask the hon. Member what are the words in the County Council resolution on which he relies for his statement that their first preference is for an ad hoc body.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
They refer to "the creation of a body directly elected. "They themselves are already in existence and do not require to be elected. Then the School Board for London has, by a vote of two to one, passed a resolution in favour of my scheme. Here is a significant fact. On Thursday when the Board meets, Mr. Sharp, the late leader of the Moderate Party on the Board, a life-long Churchman and Conservative, will move a resolution declaring—That the London Education Bill fails to provide for the efficient administration and advancement of education in London, and, in the opinion of the School Board for London, no Amendment of the Bill can make it a satisfactory measure.That is a perfectly deliberate statement. At a special meeting of the County Council to-day the following resolution will be proposed—That, having considered the provisions of the London Education Bill, this Council expresses its deep regret that the Bill fails to provide either for the efficient management of education or for popular control, and will introduce confusion and conflict into the local government of London.The Council is strongly opposed to the scheme proposed by the Bill, and would prefer either the maintenance of the present system—that is the School Board, which is an ad hoc body—or the creation of one directly elected as the education authority, which should have complete control over all grades of education,
§ DR. MACNAMARA
Mr. Beechcroft has given notice of an Amendment in favour of the Bill. I do not know whether the hon. Member is a betting man, but I would like to know his opinion as to whether the Amendment will be carried. I am sorry to have kept the House so long. I speak feelingly on this matter. I have beer immersed in this education business in London for the last ten years, ant I cannot see this great institution go down without a protest against it 690 for all I am worth. I appeal to hon. Members opposite because many of them have told me—and I believe what they say—that all that they want is a good educational authority. I take them at their word, and I ask them to accept either of the two alternatives I have submitted to the House. Either, an ad hoc authority or genuine municipalisation; but as the second alternative shuts out women who have done so much good work for education, I prefer the ad hoc principle. I am as deeply and profoundly convinced as ever I was of anything in my life, that if you want to have wise administration and sound economy in finance, it is only by the ad hoc principle that you could get this in London. I beg to second the Motion.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months."'—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I confess I am rather surprised at the degree opposition which the hon. Gentleman and his friends have declared to this measure. For, after all, this measure is a measure of machinery. The Bill is intended, and solely intended, to apply the principles of the Bill already on the Statute-book to the metropolitan area I and I should have thought that, being a purely machinery Bill, it would have had the good fortune to have excited some milder feeling of opposition than that offered to the measure which was so hardly fought over for many months last year. I cannot quite understand the feeling of the hon. Gentleman. It per hap arises from an idea—an entirely mistaken idea—that the framers of this Bill have some special animus against the great body of which he is a distinguished I member, the London School Board
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; but I thought that the manner in which the hon. Gentleman quoted a phrase of the 691 Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education on the First Reading of the Bill, and his own impassioned defence of the work of the London School Board, that he rather imagined that this Bill was intended as a slap in the face to the School Board——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As an indication that the Board had not done its work. Now if that is the case, is not a slap in the face better than total destruction, which the Bill undoubtedly contemplates? I can assure the hon. Member that no such insult is intended to the body of which he is a member. Everybody recognises not only the self-devotion and ardour with which the School Board has attended to its duties, but recognises the fact that very great work has been done for London by the London School Board. The question is not really now whether the London School Board has or has not been an efficient body for the administration of education in London, but how best we are to administer education as the problem now presents itself in London, after the Act of last year, and how we are to adapt it to the special needs of the metropolitan area. Now, it is admitted on all hands that London is exceptional in this country and amongst all countries. There is no area in the civilised world where the same difficulties present themselves to the legislature as present themselves whenever we attempt to deal with an area like London. In point of population it is larger than many important European states, but London has yet to be managed on principles, which, in their general scope, are not essentially different from the municipal principles which govern other municipal areas throughout the country. How does this peculiarity of London affect the way in which we can contrive the machinery either for education or anything else? If we could cut up London into separate rating areas for education, I think a great deal could be said for the plan of dividing London educationally. There are difficulties and obvious objections to that, but I do not see how they are much greater than those which apply 692 to dividing Manchester and Salford, which contrive to manage their education very excellently. Indeed anyone would have difficulty in knowing when he crosses the boundary between Manchester and Salford. That is a principle well worth consideration, but for one circumstance, familiar to all who have endeavoured to deal with this problem. But what is that circumstance of London? You must have one education rate for London, and since you cannot divide the rate it is absolutely necessary and inevitable that you must have a single authority to deal with that rate. Therefore, it is clear that we cannot well do that which we would otherwise do—treat these great London boroughs as they deserve to be treated from their population and wealth, as self-sufficing, and autonomous units within the metropolitan area. But it is impossible to do it for the reasons I have described, and the cogency of which has been admitted by the House. Therefore, you cannot deal with London as you can deal with Scotland and Switzerland. You must have one central authority to deal with the whole situation. Can that authority deal not merely with the broad problems presented by the education of a population of 5,000,000 persons or of 1,000,000 children? Can it also deal with the details of the education of 1,000,000 children? I say that it cannot. You must give it the assistance of some kind of delegation, and if I wanted to prove that conclusively I must point to the speech of the hon. Member. He represents an ad hoc authority. He told us what the School Board did on every day of the week. He told us what they did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and even on Saturday and Sunday. It was a long tale of difficult, laborious, and probably, in some respects, ungrateful work, I do not know whether patiently accomplished, but, at all events, ardently grappled with. To the work of that body the hon. Gentleman proposes to add all technical education and all the work connected with the voluntary or non-provided schools which will now fall to the future education authority. I cannot believe that either the present London School Board, augment it as you may, or the London County Council, or any other 693 central authority, can deal with the details of every educational problem.
Observe the point to which we have got. We are all agreed that there must be a central authority, and that this central authority must delegate part of their work to other authorities. Having reached these two principles we look round to see how to carry them out, what machinery there is at hand, and what machinery we can wisely create which will enable us to have a central authority and some degree of delegation. Is it not obvious that the London County Council should be the central authority, and that the Borough Councils should be the authorities to which the delegation should be made? It is by that simple and, I think, unanswerable train of reasoning that the Government have come to the conclusion, in the first place, that the London County Council should be the central authority, and, inasmuch as delegation is desirable, the other necessity is that that delegation should be made to the Borough Councils. As to the actual manner in which the delegation is to be carried out—whether the precise methods by which the statutory position given to the Borough Councils on the London County Council ought or ought not to remain part of the Bill or ought to be modified—these are important but subordinate questions. The only point on which we are concerned on the Second Reading of the Bill is whether we do or do not accept these two broad fundamental principles. That is the Government Bill, and I do not think it deserves any of the violent epithets which have been applied to it in the very moderate speeches to which we have listened.
What are the chief objections which the hon. Member for Poplar felt to making the London County Council, elected for general municipal purposes, deal with education as the central authority? He drew a melancholy picture of himself in the capacity of an elector having to decide between the rival claims of a candidate who knew something about drains and another candidate who knew something about education. That is the precise position which he, and every other London elector, holds in regard to technical higher education; and yet the hon. Gentleman says "I do not think the Government ought to bring in a Bill which would put me in that painful 694 position." It is only within the last few months, when it began to be suspected that the Government were going to make the London County Council the educational authority, that there has been some diminution to the chorus of praise which used to pour forth from Gentlemen on all sides of the House, and most of all from Gentlemen opposite with regard to the excellent work done by the London County Council as the authority for technical education. The hon. Gentleman never before discovered that a knowledge of drains and of education were incompatible accomplishments. I would go further and would say, if his arguments were to be applied generally to the representative institutions of this country, you would not only destroy every Borough Council and every County Council in the whole country, but you would destroy this House itself. What would happen to us? We have got to decide matters connected with the Army, the Navy, Education, Foreign Policy, and every species of domestic legislation, and every kind of problem. I suppose the democratic principle of the future is that there must be a classification of all the questions on which the electors are interested, and that there should be in each case a separate election of an ad hoc body, and a separate election of experts to deal with each. That would be a very agreeable state of things I am sure that these innumerable bodies so elected would deal very ingeniously and adequately with the topics with which they were entrusted. But do you think that we should have good government of the country? Would we all desire to see the management of naval affairs entirely given up to naval experts, would we all desire to see military matters given up to military experts, and educational affairs given up to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Poplar, and so on, and so on? The whole principle of popular education is that you do not elect people for their simple and single qualification for one subject, but you recognise the fundamental fact that the interests of the community are so interlinked with one another, and especially so interlinked with finance that you must submit to some amateur system for dealing with these questions in order to have that community of administration without which 695 the administration itself becomes hopelessly confused, and, above all, hopelessly extravagant. I am clearly of opinion that it is a most retrograde policy to go in for this principle of ad hoc election to deal with particular subjects authoritatively, and with power to draw on the rates. Of course you must give them power of dealing with the rates. The educational authority, whatever it is to be, whether it is the County Council or an ad hoc body, must have the power of drawing on the rates, because the body which does draw on the rates will always be the authority whatever its constitution, and that really is the answer to a great many criticisms which have been passed upon this Bill. We have been told the educational authority, meaning a Committee, does not represent the people. The Education Committee does not, of course, directly represent the people in the sense that some of them are especially selected, and some of them are net elected by the people for that purpose. But that is true of all Committees—of all Borough Committees—however you contrive. A man is not sent to the Town Council of Manchester to serve on a Committee, though he is asked to serve. He is sent to the Town Council of Manchester because he is supposed to be qualified to deal with matters municipal, of which serving on a Committee is one. In the same way, if this Bill is carried in its present form the representatives of the Borough Councils will be sent to join in this Committee as belonging to bodies which are competent to send representatives, and they will be elected directly by the people. It is all the greater fallacy from the fact that the Committee is not the education authority—the education authority, not only in name but in reality, is the rating authority, and that is in the main the County Council.
The. hon. Gentleman opposite says the County Council cannot possibly do the work—that we are throwing upon the County Council too much. That is a new argument for hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I do not know how far they mean to carry it, or whether they mean to have an ad hoc body for every duty which may have to be fulfilled within the Metropolitan area. [Cries of "No, no."] If they do not mean that I do not understand their argument. 696 Your argument now is that the County Council are absolutely full up to the eyes and that they cannot do anything more. That being so you must have an ad hoc body to do anything outside their existing duties. Then there will be an ad hoc authority whenever you want to have a new duty performed, and London will be covered with a series of ad hoc, bodies, all of them, I suppose, having independent powers. The London ratepayer is not a very happy person at present, and what his condition will be under such circumstances I leave it to hon. Gentlemen opposite to imagine. "But," said the hon. Gentleman, "the County Council could do the work if you increase their numbers." It may be necessary to increase their numbers at some time or other. That has nothing to do with the principles of this Bill. I have no abstract objection to it and I am not going to pronounce upon it until the matter is brought up especially and in connection with the general work of the County Council. If any Council in the country, whether the London County Council or any other County Council says "We cannot do the work with our present numbers," of course that demand would receive the most careful attention from any Government that might be in office at the time, and it would be folly to lay down any broad principle which would prevent a request of that kind being complied with. Therefore what I would ask the House to do at present, is to read a second time this Bill, which lays down a perfectly defensible machinery of principles for the local government of London. I do beg it to reject what the hon. Member desires, which is an ad hoc authority. If the House does reject it then I am convinced they will be driven back either to the actual plan of the Government or to some modification of that plan which does not interfere with its general principles. Those general principles simply consist of saying that the authority for London shall be the County Council, and inasmuch as decentralisation is an absolute necessity of the situation, decentralisation shall take place by statute, and that the bodies through whom the decentralisation is to be effected, and to whom the powers are to be delegated shall be those great Borough Councils 697 which we have already brought into existence. Within the broad limits of those two great principles I see no reason why, if we think fit, we should not modify the Measure. But on the only point I can see which the House has to decide on the Second Reading viz., whether they will have the County Council as the authority or whether they will create an ad hoc authority, I earnestly press the House to utter no uncertain sound, and that in the interest of every recognised principle of government, in the interest of the principles we have already adopted for every other part of the country, we shall declare that education is not a function which ought to be divorced from the other great local duties which we throw upon our municipal bodies; and that London, which ought to take the lead in all matters of this kind, is not to be differentiated from the rest of the country to the great disadvantage of London itself.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
I make no excuse for speaking on this important subject of the education of London, although I represent an agricultural constituency. It is a subject which will certainly be followed with interest by the counties which adjoin London. In passing the Act of last session the Government passed the greatest Reform Act of education which has been passed for thirty years. The great question before the House on the Second Reading of this Bill was clearly stated by the Prime Minister. Is the Government right in following the Act of 1902 and abolishing the ad hoc system? I think the Act of 1902 was right because it made possible, first of all, in elementary education, the equalisation of advantages of education amongst the children, that is to say, as regards the voluntary and board schools. Secondly, it gave power to the children—to anybody's child—to rise through the various grades of education from elementary to University education, and, thirdly, it concentrated and augmented the general interest felt in education by the country at large. The Act of 1902 assured the interests of education by setting up a local authority, not one single authority, but by making the duty of looking 698 after education one of the duties of the local authority. That is to say, the Government, finding after thirty years experience of the Education Act that only one third of the area of England was covered by board schools and only one half of the children were contained in those schools, and that the educational opportunities were not becoming more, but less, uniform, abolished, not the board schools, but the School Board, in order that these great irregularities might be redressed by making it compulsory on some authority in each area in England to undertake a duty which up to that time had only been undertaken by one third. The Government left over the question of London, and I think we are all agreed that they acted in accordance with the views of Members on both sides of this House in treating London as a separate entity. In the King's Speech the Government promised to extend to London the principles of the Act of last session. So far as the Government carries out these promises, I am entirely with them, and am perfectly ready and anxious to support the Bill before the House, and to leave Amendments to be dealt with in Committee.
The principles which the Government apply to this Bill for London are two, viz.: (1) the abolition of the ad hoc authority and the subsequent consequences of that abolition; and (2) the suzerainty of the London County Council. Now I confess that, as far as absolute suzerainty of the London County Council goes, this Bill does not entirely meet all that I wish- But let me begin by arguing against the principle so strongly and eloquently put forward by the hon. Member for Camberwell—the ad hoc system. Educationally speaking, it seems simple to say "one object, one body;" but when that object is education, it is not so simple or so single as it would appear. It will not be possible, in this way, to represent higher or secondary education; therefore, when it comes to that, you will find that you must necessarily sacrifice that kind of education for elementary education. As regards elementary education, I think this country is not only equal to, but in advance of, other countries; but when it comes to higher or secondary 699 education, it is behind the times. These committees are constituted under a scheme drawn up by the County Council, and approved by the Board of Education; and this is the method which is also largely adopted in this Bill. I contend that this power should be extended to the Borough Committees also, on whom will devolve the linking up of elementary schools with other institutions. Financially the ad hoc principle is indefensible; you give it a I specific duty to discharge, together with an unlimited call on the county rates much a body is not responsible to its constituents for expenditure, as that is shifted to another body altogether; and when both bodies have schools to manage, overlapping, waste, and extravagance are inevitable. Constitutionally, I believe the ad hoc authority is wrong; and on this subject I should like to quote the remarks of a gentleman of Liberal opinions—I mean Canon Barnett. He says:—An ad hoc body cannot be as representative as a body generally elected, It is unsound administratively; it tends to become an administering, rather than a directing body; there is not enough direction to occupy the thought or energy of the members; there are not sufficient subjects for their consideration, so they try to do themselves what officials could do better under their direction. The authority is expensive without being efficient.That is the opinion of a man of great experience and of Liberal leanings, whose I authority will be recognised by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, Let me take the ad hoc authority in its electioneering aspect. Why do certain bodies object to an ad hoc authority being replaced by a Committee of the London County Council, elected, not for a single purpose, but for general municipal purposes. I will take a concrete case. An elementary teacher came from the North to London, and, fired, by civic ambition, he stood as a candidate for the London School Board, and he was supported by all the efforts, all the ingenuity, and all the power of a well-known body connected with the teachers. Despite his ignorance of the conditions of London education, and of being almost a total stranger to the Metropolis, he was elected by a poll of nearly 19,000 in November, 1897. He sat for three years on the London School 700 Board, and worked hard; but he fell out with the powerful body who had helped to ensure his return, and, I believe, had a lawsuit with them. At all events, considerable friction arose. He stood again for the London School Board in 1900, but, instead of getting 19,000 votes, he only got 405 votes, which hardly shows great popular interest in this ad hoc authority. The Government has then decided against an ad hoc authority, and proposes to extend to London the main principles of the Act of 1902; making the London County Council the supreme education authority. You will then have in London what you have in every other county—concurrent jurisdiction over education. You will have the County Council itself and the Committee appointed under the first Schedule; the London County Council being the ultimate authority through the power of the purse.
It is perfectly true that concurrent jurisdiction contains in itself certain elements of friction, but this has been provided against in the counties by a method which the first Schedule in the Bill renders impossible in London. Other County Councils have settled for themselves, with the approval of the Board of Education, the proportion of Councillors and non-Councillors on the Education Committee. In Essex and Berkshire two-thirds are County Councillors; in Lancashire and Leicestershire three-fourths are County Councillors, and in Cumberland the proportion is four-fifths. The advantage of this preponderance of Councillors is that the Council will not come into direct opposition with the Committee, and need not revise its decisions. The Parliamentary Committee of the County Council, in a statement they have issued, point out that under the Bill, as it stands, if the County Council find themselves out of harmony with a Committee nominally subordinate to them, they must do one of two things. They must either climb down and allow the Committee to pursue its own policy, or else they must burden themselves with the details of administering education without availing themselves of their power of delegation. That seems to me to be an absolutely fair and true criticism of the Bill as it stands; for the Schedule takes away from the County 701 Council the possibility of the Council having that preponderance on the Committee which other County Councils possess. In London, instead of a majority of two-thirds being possible, the Councillors would be only little more than one-third of the whole, namely, thirty six out of ninety-seven. To make this Bill workable, you must, to my mind, drop out the twenty-seven representatives of the boroughs. I would leave in the representatives of Westminster and of the City of London, because they suffer more under the equalisation of rates than the others. You would then have seventy members on which the County Council would possess an absolute majority. I understand that the Government are not wedded to the absolute letter of this Bill; and I would ask them to reconsider the representation and power of the Borough Councils. At present the Bill seems to be a mixture of the County Council and the Water Board, and is quite unworkable. You cannot cut a piece out of a system of suzerainty, and another piece out of a system of decentralisation, and piece them together and say, "Here is a perfect system of education." There is no medium between making the County Council in name and in fact the supreme authority, or giving the County Council the go-bye altogether, and setting up an ad hoc authority. We know that the Government are opposed to an ad hoc authority, and, therefore, I maintain they will have to make the County Council absolutely supreme.
It has been suggested that the County Council should have more members created for educational purposes only. If the County Council ask for more members, by all means let their number be increased; but do not let the additional members be ear-marked for one purpose only. Let them be created for all the purposes of the County Council. I have never been a warm friend of the London County Council, perhaps because of their political bias; but on this occasion the Government have deliberately chosen them as the authority, and therefore their authority should be a real one. I would ask the Government not to ride their best hunter until they get to the big fence. If the Borough Councils are not to be directly represented on the Central Committee, they should certainly be given a large and 702 honourable share of the work that would be delegated by the Central Committee. To get the work done well you must centralise; to get it done at all you must decentralise; by which I mean that the power of the purse must rest on the central body, but that the management of education should be delegated as far as possible. This delegation the Bill proposes; but I object to those powers being specified by statute, instead of by scheme; nor do I agree with two particular powers which are specified, namely, the choice of sites, and the appointment of teachers. The London County Council should hand over to the Borough Councils such powers and duties of management over elementary education as may be determined by a scheme drawn up by the local education authority, and approved by the Board of Education. Such a scheme should arrange for the grouping of provided schools in each borough area; and should assign to the managers of each group, subject to the veto of the Borough Council, the appointment and dismissal of teachers. Such a scheme could be varied from time to time with the consent of the bodies concerned, and the House of Commons need not be troubled with matters of detail. Such a method would prove elastic and workable, and would be clear that the London County Council would be responsible for the whole educational policy and educational expenditure of London and the means of carrying both into effect. I will vote with pleasure for the Second Reading of this Bill, because I believe it will be possible and easy to make is a satisfactory solution of the difficulties involved. But in doing so, I would urge on the Government to amend the Bill in Committee in the following particulars; first, to omit Borough Councillors from the first Schedule, and secondly, to determine by scheme, and not by statute, the powers to be devolved on the Borough Councils, and to require the Borough Councils to act through composite Committees also constituted by scheme. This, I believe, will make the Bill easy and workable, and I hope the Government may see their way to accept the recommendations I have endeavoured to explain.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
Although not a London Member I make no apology for taking part in this debate. London is the metropolis of the Empire; it is the greatest city in the world; and it is the place in this country to which we ought to be able to look for educational light and leading. Now, I have listened to the speech of my hon. and gallant friend who has just sat down, and at first I thought I was listening to a speech in support of this Bill. Then there came a point at which my hon. and gallant friend began to show, towards the end of his speech, that there was a sting in it so far as this Bill was concerned, and finally he made a speech not in favour of this Bill but of quite another, an ideal Bill, the lines of which he sketched out, and in regard to which in my opinion there is a great deal to be said. But we must take the proposition of the Government as it stands. I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister, and at the beginning of that speech it carried my mind back to last year. The right hon. Gentleman said he was surprised that we were making such a fuss over what, after all, was largely a matter of machinery, because the principle had been accepted last year. The Prime Minister then embodied a principle in his Bill, of which I was and am now a warm supporter, the principle of taking the greatest of the representative local bodies, except Parliament itself, and devolving on them work which Parliament cannot do, imposing on them the making and the collection of the local rate and the responsibility for the education of the people. There are difficulties in the way of that principle in whichever way we may-apply it. I said last year there were difficulties, and it might be injustices, in the Bill that became law. But so important was it to make a start in this direction that I was prepared, as I am now, to see that principle carried through in its integrity, leaving it to the future to correct what is in point of detail unfairly worked out. But is this Bill a mere machinery Bill to give effect to the principle? Last year the right hon. Gentleman would have had an easy way out of his difficulty; by the alteration of three words in a clause and the introduction of another clause, and that not a very long one, he could have made his Bill apply to London, and all grief and tears on the part of his own supporters, as well as of the Opposi- 704 tion, would have been to a great extent assuaged. The Prime Minister, however, has not chosen that course. He has brought in a Bill on the principle of recognising two authorities. I confess I have at times been puzzled for the motive of this. It did occur to me that there might be something Machiavellian in the reason for bringing these Borough Councils in in the way the Government had brought them in in this matter. It struck me that the controversy as to the Borough Councils might have been brought in to lead people's minds away from the religious controversy of which we heard so much last year, but of which we have heard so little on this occasion. I thought the Borough Councils were introduced to draw the enemy's fire, as it were, and that they were then to be withdrawn to leave a quiet passage to the Bill. But that was too far-fetched an idea. There is a famous picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds in which he has represented Garrick as being torn between tragedy and comedy. "Tragedy" has a somewhat striking face; there is something austere, somewhat of the Nonconformist conscience, in her lofty and ideal face, and Garrick is uneasy about not following her. But on the other hand there is the jovial and rollicking form of "Comedy" which is soliciting him to take the downward path. When I saw the President of the Local Government Board sitting by the side of the representative of the Education Department when this Bill was introduced I could not help feeling, when I thought of the Borough Council provisions of the Bill, that the President of the Local Government Board must be taken, in an educational and Pick-wickian sense, to represent "Comedy," because the provisions of the Bill which we have before us are pure comedy.
The actual provisions of the Bill before us are to carry out the lines of that great principle of devolution to the County Council which is the basis of the Government Act of last year. I wish to make some observations on the proposals of this Bill, but before I can do so I must endeavour to define the standard by which these ought to be tested. London is not merely a great city, it is the metropolis of the Empire, and as such it has many miscellaneous educational interests which 705 other cities have not. To my mind, important as it is, elementary education is the simplest and the easiest problem of those with which we have to cope. In London, since 1870, you have had a system, established and laid down on certain definite lines, which has been gradually worked up, and the business of handling the system is mainly a matter of administration. The business of elementary education is not the only, or even the33 most difficult, work with which this new authority will be concerned. Anybody who takes the trouble to read that remarkable Report on the Industries of London, published by the Technical Education Board of the London County Council last year, showing the decay of industries which used to flourish in London, and the failure of others to keep pace with the times, must have been struck by what the Report declares to be the cause—the want of more scientific forms of education in London. We do not possess here what is possessed in Vienna and Berlin, and even in the great American cities, because we have not interested ourselves in education in the large spirit that they have In this country we cannot look to the State as they can in Germany. In Berlin they have a magnificent educational equipment with which we in London have nothing to compare. Why is it? Because there is a great and powerful authority which single-mindedly gives its attention to these matters. In Berlin that authority is, in the main, the Government, which exercises a direct control even over the local authority. In England we have nothing of the sort. We look to the local authority, and the local authority must be left to undertake the task. Therefore, if you are going to look to the local authority in London as you do in Liverpool, Manchester, and other great cities, you must put the local authority in the strongest possible position; you must show that you trust them; you must not hamper or hinder them. If you adopt that principle, be in earnest, and carry it out to the fullest extent. Consider the work the educational authority in London will have to do. It is not merely the great and important business of elementary education. In 1898 this House passed a Bill creating a 706 great teaching University for London. That University is in its infancy, but it is growing and making rapid progress. It is engaged in the work, not merely of coordinating education of a University type in London, but also of exercising influence on the secondary schools of the Metropolis. That was one of the functions for which Parliament designed the new educational instrument, and the new educational authority will have to deal with that. The general lines of our policy in this country forbid us to look to any great extent to the State. The bodies which have grown up under the auspices of the local authority in London, and those to which assistance has been given—such as King's College, University College, the London School of Economics, and others—without distinction of creed, show that we are at length making real and substantial progress in the work of developing higher education in London. But education of the highest type is not the only function of such an authority. Secondary education exists in London to a very large extent, but it is scattered, and lacks a pattern by which the schools might work one into another's hands and co-operate in their labours. Hampered as it has been, the Technical Education Board has done valuable work in assisting and co-ordinating secondary education, but the work has been only begun, and needs to be developed to a vast extent before the field can be said to be covered. I therefore come to the conclusion, without difficulty or hesitation, that the authority you require for London education must be an authority with a power and importance which you cannot have if you show want of confidence in the body to which you delegate the work, by hampering its proceedings by the introduction of other authorities. That being so, what is the existing position?
The existing position is, that yon have a body which since 1893 has done a great deal of that part of the work of which I have been speaking. You have the London School Board and the Technical Education Board. I agree with much that fell from the Prime Minister as to the impossibility—the work having attained such dimensions—of doing these things in the way described by the hon. Member for Camberwell. All ere lit to the London School Board for having been able to do the enormous amount of 707 personal and practical work that they have done, but the task is attaining a magnitude which makes it essential that you should resort more than they do to the system of employing the expert, controlling him carefully, laying down the principles which are to guide him, but at the same time leaving him to work out the details, which can be worked out by a country School Board or by a small authority with a small range of functions, but which cannot possibly be worked out when the problem is so vast as in London. Under these conditions, I am no more afraid of the London County Council not being able to do this business, in point of numbers, than I should be afraid of that body of less than twenty members—the present Cabinet—beingun-able to discharge the business of governing the Empire. It is only a question of creating the machinery by which to delegate the work. It must be extremely well-considered; control must be retained over the officials who give effect to your purposes; but we want the expert in education more at present than in any other stage, and I shall be glad to see, not only in regard to secondary and intermediate education, but also in regard to elementary education, the work of the expert brought even more into the plan than is the case at present. Therefore I am not troubled by the notion that you would require a body of enormous dimensions to do this great work. But I do think it is desirable, in making this fresh start, that you should not interfere, or that you should interfere as little as possible, with the continuity of the work. You have the business of elementary education going more or less, but the business of technical education and education of the University type is only in its infancy. In 1893 the London County Council's Committee became the technical education authority for London, and since that time it has done a marvellous amount of work. It has set going a machine with the operation of which I believe few Members of the House would wish to interfere. It comprises workers of every sort of opinion. It has working with it experts from the School Board and other sources, who carry on the work in such a spirit that no offence is given to any of the denominations, and the vested interests have been conciliated and brought into line. You have, therefore a very 708 valuable body here. But you have to deal with elementary education, which this body, except indirectly, does not touch; you have also to deal with secondary schools, polytechnics (which provide technical education), and with University education, to which I attach great importance. I, for one, shall never be satisfied until I see students from the distant parts of the Empire flocking to the Universities in this country, and especially in London, for that higher education, that post-graduate training, in search of which they now go to the Continent or the United States. It is little short of a scandal that we should be able to provide so little education of that rank in the great Empire of which London is the Metropolis.
What is the work at present done by the Technical Education Board? It aids or conducts four schools for University training; it aids substantially eight polytechnics; it directs six London schools of arts and crafts; it assists eleven technical institutes; eleven schools of art, and a number of minor institutions, including forty-eight secondary schools; it maintains nearly 3,000 scholars who get their education where-ever is most desirable; and it expends in so doing over £170,000 a year. There you have a body with the confidence of nearly every section of the community as far as its work goes. A body like that is not adequate to take up the enormous task you are now creating, but I say that it is extremely desirable that you should have a modern up-to-date organisation of that kind, that you should not destroy its life, but that you should preserve the continuity and develop that life as far as possible. At present that body consists of twenty directly-elected members of the County Councils, and fifteen co-opted members. For that body the Bill proposes to substitute a huge heterogeneous aggregation, of which thirty-six members are to come from the County Council, thirty-one from the Borough Councils, and twenty-five from outside. Those twenty-five ought to represent experts—just those people who cannot get in by popular election—women, representatives of tertiary education, representatives of the University, people who, in the ordinary course, would not be likely to desire, even if they were fitted, to run the racket of popular election. Nobody is more strongly convinced than 709 I am that the democratic principle is far freer from evils than any other principle, but I say that popular election cannot give you a body which contains these different, selected, and co-ordinated elements. It can give a body representing the sense of the community, which is generally the very best body through which to pick the experts, but direct popular election is not the way by which to bring the expert element into any body. The man of science, the specialist in the organisation of the University system, may not have the experience or capacity to appeal to the public, and men may be selected on account of special gifts which do not in themselves make them desirable representatives on such a body. Therefore I regard this principle of co-option as valuable. The London County Council is to be the rating authority. But the rating authority can be a really powerful authority, one with confidence in its Committee, only if it has a majority by which to dominate the general policy of that Committee. But, with the proportions here proposed, the central authority which you are going to trust, of which the Prime Minister spoke as being the pivot of the whole matter, is no longer in a position of supremacy. Look at the evil consequences of that. Twenty-five more members are to be chosen. They ought to be chosen to supplement the deficiencies which you will inevitably find if you trust to the chance of popular election. They ought to include the experts and specialists to whom I have referred; but the Council will be forced, if it is to maintain its majority in the new authority, the majority that will be essential for the maintenance of its position, to elect people who will be its own partisans. The biggest blot in the Bill is that you should impose on the County Council the necessity, if it is to maintain control over its own money, of prostituting the special trust you are giving it in the power of co-option for its own, though legitimate, partisan purposes. It cannot carry out its policy in any other way.
I was a cordial supporter of the principle embodied in the Act of last year. I am thankful that this session we meet in more of an educational and less of a sectarian atmosphere. That is a great blessing. One good 710 result of the Act of last year is, that there has been excited in education an interest such as the British people have not had for many a long day, if ever before, and I would like to take advantage of that fact. London gives an almost unrivalled opportunity of showing what we can do, of showing that this Parliament is really capable of producing an educational machinery on a level with that which exists in other countries. If you must pick out the central body in London—which is the rating authority, and which it would be extravagant to replace by a new rating authority—if you must pick out that authority, and trust it, why in the name of heaven bring in the e twenty-five people to be diverted from the purposes for which they are introduced in the Bill by the necessity of the central body preserving the continuity and the dominion of its own policy? I do not see how that part of the Bill can possibly stand. There is another strong objection to the introduction of the members of Borough Councils in the way they are here introduced. Do not think that I am against the Borough Councils taking a great and prominent part in education. There is a great deal of work for them to do, but you must co-ordinate their work. Their work should be made to fit in with the work of the central authority, so as to leave as little room as possible for friction. But that aim is made very difficult of achievement if thirty-one members are to be set against thirty-six to fight for these other twenty-five. You cannot have the continuity in carrying on the policy of the Education Board which you could have if you simply trusted the County Council with this duty. In London I believe we are on the eve of great developments in education. If they are not made by Parliament or the County Council they will be made from private sources by public opinion. It is above all things necessary that your machinery should be of a kind to assist these great developments. You must have a body which will command respect for its educational efficiency because of its knowledge of these things, but the balancing of the thirty-six by the thirty-one in this unfortunate fashion seems to destroy the possibility of getting that smoothly-working authority which will possess 711 the confidence of the educational public as the Technical Education Board does. Do not think I am saying you should take the Technical Education Board as it stands. You will have to modify and develop it, because of the very magnitude of the work and the far-reaching nature of the spirit in which you wish that work to be done in the future, but surely it can be worked out somewhat on the lines I have suggested.
I will venture to make a suggestion. I should like the Government to take the County Council, to give it the power of co-option, to eliminate at this stage the Borough Councils, and to regulate the co-option by the Council if they think it necessary to guard the public. I should like the co-opted members to include experts and women. Suppose you take twenty-five. I should like to see three representing the University. There is going to be an enormous amount of work done here in London by the University. If it was only in the training of teachers the University has a great function to discharge. I am not talking of the skeleton organisation at South Kensington, but of the whole of the education of the University type which is being co-ordinated. Above all things the training of teachers requires to be put on a proper footing. I yield to nobody in my respect for the splendid work the elementary teachers as a body have done, but they are suffering from something which is not due to fault of their own, but which has been imposed upon them by Providence or the late Mr. Lowe—I mean the effect of system of payment by results, which has turned the elementary teacher into a too business-like person, with contemplations which are too exclusively from the point of view of the elementary teacher. There are brilliant exceptions; there are no better examples than the three representatives of that body of teachers in this House. If our education is to be what it should, the elementary teachers must be trained from the University point of view as well as that which has obtained up to the present. I should like to see at least three members from the Universities upon that Committee. I should also like to see the City and Guilds of London and the City Parochial Foundations represented, for they have done an enormous amount of educa- 712 tional work. I should like to see the teachers specially represented, and schools, whether Roman Catholic, Jewish, Church of England, or Nonconformist, ought to have their representatives. There-should also be some representatives specially representing secondary education. These, together with the women, are the elements which you ought to introduce into a body of this kind, but the essence of the scheme is that your rating authority should be supreme. I want to say a word or two about the management of local schools. According to Clause 3 the management is to be in the hands of the Borough Councils, and they are to manage the schools within their own areas. This is another great blot on the Bill. At the present time the schools in the East End of London will be in this difficulty; that they could not be managed by the local authorities in such a way as you manage them, by bringing in public-spirited people who come from other parts of London such as the West End. In Bethnal Green the school management is largely recruited from the West End, and hon. Members who are acquainted with the working of the London scheme know that the most valuable element in the management are strangers to the localities where they give their services. Your Bill destroys all that.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
The words-of the Clause provide that the Borough Councils have direct power to add persons who are not members of the Borough Councils.
§ MR. HALDANE
You want to secure continuity in the management and I should like to see the present local management preserved as far as possible. I do think it will be a very serious thing if we have a breach in the management of the elementary schools as it exists at the present time. I think it is essential that the Government should take some step in order that we may preserve that valuable element which you cannot replace in various parts of London. I am desirous to awaken interest in education in every part of London political society, 713 and I would gladly bring the Borough Councils into this work. I am not the enemy of the Borough Councils; on the contrary, I wish to make the very best of them and get them to play a part in education. But do not give them the unsuitable part which is proposed in this Bill; you must have the courage of your own opinions. The Government is now at the parting of the ways; it can choose the path of virtue or the path of vice, the path of tragedy or comedy; it can go in the direction which has been urged by one distinguished minister, or in the direction in which it is being urged by the best public opinion and the majority of opinion in this House. Let the Government make up its mind and act according to the best light it can get; and if it goes boldly forward keeping education steadily in front of it, then I do not think it need be afraid of its policy for education in London.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
With most of what the hon. and learned Member has said in the course of his speech I agree, but he made one observation with which I do not agree. He said that in discussing this Bill we must take it as it stands. Had this been the Third Reading it would be right to take it as it stands, and accept or reject the Bill with all its virtues and all its vices; but on the Second Reading of a Bill, our duty is to look into the principle of the measure to see what that principle is, and whether it is one for the improvement of the education of the people. We can then trust to the Committee stage for removing the blemishes, and for adding other provisions which may be necessary to make it a more perfect Measure. The hon. Members who moved the rejection were perfectly right in their Motion. The hon. Member for Poplar said justly that there were three courses. First of all there is the ad hoc authority, specially elected for dealing with education in the Metropolis; secondly, you might take the London County Council; and thirdly, the principle of the composite body called the Water Board, composed of persons appointed by subordinate bodies. It really comes to this, that, practically, we have to choose between an ad hoc authority and a municipal authority without the County Council. That was the issue last year on the Education Bill, when the 714 question was a directly-elected authority against the municipal authority, and every argument used by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Poplar was used last year and was considered and rejected by a very large majority. I do not think he did justice to this point; I have over and over again said it is not an educational reason, but a question of local government and local finance. In this country you never will have effective local self-government until you have a single body in each district responsible to the ratepayers and solely responsible to the ratepayers for the finance. While you have municipal authorities, School Board authorities, and Boards of Guardians, each of them with rating powers, you will never be able to have economical or effective local self-government, and it is entirely on that ground, and not on any special educational ground, that the Government in the Bill of last year have preferred municipal authorities to the specially elected authorities representing the will of the ratepayers. I will not enlarge upon that point, because the House so emphatically preferred the municipal authority last year, that the arguments of the hon. Member for Poplar, excellent as they were, may be passed by.
The hon. Member for North Camberwell brought forth an entirely new argument against the municipal authority in London. He said that the London County Council was unable to perform the duties which the Bill would cast upon it, and he accompanied that by a very simple remedy, and that was, to increase the number of the County Council. To an increase in the number of the County Council I do not see any objection in principle. It is a question for the County Council, and if that body is unable to perform the duties thrown upon it by this Bill, an application for the increase of its members would be immediately listened to by this House. But although that is the opinion of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, it is not the opinion of many of the experienced members of the London County Council; they do not think so, and I agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, that the London County Council is quite capable of performing the duty thrown upon it by the State. Those in this House who are in favour of municipal authority as against the 715 specially elected authority ought, without any hesitation whatever, to vote this year as they voted last year, for a municipal as against an elected authority, and I have no doubt in giving my vote for the Second Reading of this Bill.
Then comes the question as to the desirability and possibility of making changes in the Bill in the course of the Committee stage. This question has been referred to by the Prime Minister. The first question is the constitution of the Committee. I agree with what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire, that the Committee, as at present constituted, is not a desirable one. There again the Prime Minister told the House that we can discuss this matter in Committee, and that the Government will be open to reason and argument, and will be willing to modify their scheme in accordance with the general wishes of the House. Therefore I think we may assume that the Committee as it stands in the Bill will not be insisted upon, and we are open to reconsider it. If I were able to have my own way about this matter, I would leave the London County Council absolutely free to appoint its own Committee. The London County Council has already shown immense liberality, and a great desire to get the best assistance it can for the work of higher education which has been entrusted to it. It has established a Committee which has been in existence for many years, and has given universal satisfaction. If I may go back to the reminiscences of the period of my official life, and I daresay the hon. Gentleman who has succeeded me will bear me out in this when he addresses the House, I would tell the House that, in all my relations with that Technical Instruction Committee, I formed the opinion that it was most business-like, most earnest, and a body totally free from all prejudice either political or religious. But if that is not to be, then I think the London County Council should have the same privilege which every other County Council in the kingdom was given by the Act passed last year. That is to say, that it should be allowed to submit to the Board of Education for their approval a scheme consistent with the provisions of last year's Act for the appointment of a 716 Committee, and that scheme, I have no doubt, would be adopted by the Board of Education. I do not suppose they would stand up against so strong a body as the London County Council in any particular, but if they did not adopt the scheme it would ultimately come before the House in a Provisional Order, and if there was any difference of opinion between the London County Council and the Board of Education we should have to determine what scheme was to be adopted. If that cannot be, and if London is so peculiar in its educational interests, I confess that I should like to see what was suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire. I should like to see a scheme in the Schedule of the Bill of the kind he mentioned, giving a considerable majority to the London County Council and the rest prescribed by the House of Commons—the number of members to be appointed by the London University and the secondary schools—special care being taken that on this Board there was a proper number of women, because that was the weak point of the Bill last year, and that is the weak point of the Bill this year. It is a point that is only curable by Parliament amending the Local Government Act to make women eligible for those bodies that are entrusted with the duty of education. I do not think any restriction in the Schedule as to the number of women to be elected can be looked upon as anything, but a temporary expedient, and the real way to cure the evil which there undoubtedly would be, if women were excluded from the Education Committee, would be to amend the Local Government Act in that particular. Therefore, it is; quite clear that the House, when it gets; into Committee on this Bill, can establish an Education Committee which will be in entire accordance with the principles of the Bill of last year, and through which the London County Council will be able to carry out the powers which are conferred upon it by the Act.
Now I come to the question of management and delegation of management. I am not an enemy of the Borough Councils. On the contrary, the Borough Council is a proper body in London to whom the powers, particularly in the management of elementary schools, I though I do not confine myself to elementary schools, within the limits of the 717 borough can very properly be delegated. But the borough authorities must be managers, and I think that to set up a second or double authority, so as to prevent the London County Council from having complete control over the managers, as well as over its officers, would be most detrimental to education. It is also quite essential, as stated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in his speech, that something should be done in the Bill to preserve continuity. I think the present provisions of the Bill in that respect are very crude and would cause very great difficulty, notwithstanding the power which the Secretary to the Board of Education pointed out to secure continuity. I do not think that is enough. I think they ought to put in the Bill something that would ensure that those powers will be carried out by the Borough Councils and that they will secure continuity. May I call the attention of the House to what is the existing state of things? Perhaps hon. Members do not realise what that is. At the present momentinLondon—I am speaking of elementaryschools—there are 1,750 managers of elementary schools, of whom no less than 550 are women. The number of Managing Committees is 180, and the effect of the Bill, if carried as it stands, would be that the number would be reduced to twenty-nine, being a Committee in each borough. Now, though they have powers to appoint on the Committees other members, they would not necessarily have one of the old managers on the Committee, and there is no obligation to have one. These Committees—one for each borough—have a most unequal amount of duties to perform. In the City of London there are only two provided schools, so that there would be a Committee for these two schools. In Westminster there are not more than three or four provided schools, and the same condition of thing, prevails in Kensington, Paddington, and probably some of the other West End boroughs. On the other hand, in the Borough of Stepney, in the East End of London, there are thirty-six provided schools. There are 30,000 children and 600 teachers whom the Committee for Stepney would have to manage. Very much the same remark applies to Islington, Camber well, and a number of East End parishes. The extent of the boroughs varies enormously. The Borough of Wandsworth 718 is five square miles, and extends from Streatham to Clapham. The Borough of Woolwich is also five square miles, and it is separated into two parts by the River Thames, which is sometimes impassible. I think the House will see that one Committee of management for very populous or extensive boroughs would be extremely inconvenient and inefficient. I think there ought to be provision in the Statute for making this delegation, and we ought to make it, workable and reasonable. We should require that there should be one Committee to every Parliamentary constituency. That would make the Parliamentary constituencies coterminous, with the borough districts, and that would make fifty-eight instead of twenty-nine Committees. With regard to the constitution of these Committees, I think we ought to prescribe by the Bill: that a certain proportion of the members should be Borough Councillors, and that a certain proportion should be from the existing managers, of whom a certain; proportion of not less than one-half might be women. In that way you would be able to get the whole of the districts covered by the Committees to whom the elementary education powers were delegated.
There is another thing, I think, that is not provided for in the Bill, and that is special schools for the blind, the deaf, and the weak-minded. These are not properly local schools, for they serve great districts. Clearly these schools ought to be managed by separate managers, of whom a large proportion should be women. Those schools ought to be specially provided for. There is one more thing I ought to say, and that is as to the appointment of teachers. It would be the greatest possible calamity, and it would be a calamity which the Bill as it stands would bring about, if, for the service of the whole of the districts, we had twenty-nine different services, and we ought to put something in the Bill which will secure that, as far as the teachers go, there should be only a single service for teachers for the whole of the Metropolis. I do not think that is at all irreconcilable with a considerable amount of delegation to the Borough Councils, or those Committees of the Borough Councils which I have indicated. 719 A similar system is now carried out by the London School Board. Although there is but one service of teachers for the whole of London, the School Board allow the appointment of assistant teachers, and especially the first appointment of teachers to be made on the recommendation of the managers, and they allow the managers to appoint head teachers from a list which is sent to them by the School Board. There is no reason why that plan should not be continued. Why should not the Committee of the Borough Councils make the first appointment of teachers, and when once they are appointed they should become members of the great London service of teachers, so that they may be placed on the list sent out and from which all districts may select teachers. My object is only to show that the great principle of municipalisation in the first place is the foundation of this Bill. In the next place this great principle of municipalisation can be carried out without any of the objections which had been raised by critics on both sides of the House. We can secure absolute supremacy and absolute control of the London County Council over the whole work of education, and at the same time secure the delegation of very important duties to the London Borough Councils; and if these duties are carried out by the Borough Councils in the spirit in which I am sure they will be, it will give them immense local interest in, and an immense local influence over, the matter of education.
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
I cannot but think that if a Member of this House had come in here for the first time and had listened to the debate during the last half hour he would have come to the conclusion that the London Education Bill had been withdrawn by the Government and that the House had resolved itself into a sort of amiable and non-partisan Committee to recommend the bases of a totally new Bill. I have not been in this House so long as many Members of it, but I have been here long enough to know that the experience this afternoon on the Second Heading of a Bill is almost unique in Parliamentary history. We are not discussing a solid and actual measure which exists upon paper, backed by the Govern- 720 ment and really before the House, but we are discussing something that may happen, when by the process of voting on the Second Reading an exact and specified measure is put out of the way and a new kind of measure, changed in all its details, has come before the Committee of the House. What we are now supposed to be discussing is the London Education Bill, brought in by a great Government with an immense majority, a Government which knew for more than twelve months that they must submit such a Bill to Parliament, and had had many months to prepare it. I submit that it is hardly respectful to the capacity and industry of this House that a debate of this kind should be allowed to go on. It is true that we had from the Prime Minister an intimation that on some details of the Bill there is no finality: but the Prime Minister is a man of great subtlety of mind, and carefulness of statement, and I did not gather from his words any assurance that the Bill is to be amended in Committee to the extent which my hon. friend the Member for Haddingtonshire, or even the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, supposed. What right have we to assume from what was said this afternoon on behalf of the Government, that the Borough Council element on the Education Committee of the education authority would vanish in the Committee stage? And if that assumption is unwarranted, the present debate is vitiated. There are hon. Members opposite, and at least one on the Treasury Bench, who are determined that the Borough Councils shall form a constituent part of the education authority. The brilliant suggestions of my right hon. friend the Member for Haddingtonshire and of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University are not to the purpose, and are beside the mark, because we have no assurance that the Borough Councils will be deleted from the Bill. I suggest that we should leave the discussion of an ideal measure, of an aerial measure, and return to the consideration of the concrete measure on paper which, though short, is bad all through. It is clear from the circumstances attending the introduction of the Bill, and all that has taken place between that stage and the Second Reading, that although the Government had months at their disposal for the preparation of the Bill, 721 it was conceived in haste and shapen in confusion. It was brought in with out due notice, and hurriedly passed its First Reading just before Easter, and too short an interval was allowed to elapse between the First and Second Reading. The London County Council and the London School Board, and many of the London Borough Councils, have had no opportunity of meeting to consider this Bill, and pronounce an opinion upon it. These circumstances are suspicious, and weaken my belief or hope that during the Committee stage the Bill will be amended into a work able and satisfactory measure. The haste in asking for the First Reading of the Bill was due to the fear that London opinion might be pronounced in away entirely adverse to the Bill, and I feel sure that the brief interval that has occurred between the First and Second Reading was due to a similar fear. The Bill was received on its introduction with universal condemnation, not only by the Liberal, but by the Unionist Press, in fact, I may say, generally, by the whole Press of London. Then followed the condemnation of many of the Borough Councils representing half the population of London; and had a greater interval been allowed, I am sure that some other Borough Councils would also have pronounced against the Bill. As for the London County Council, it is to-day, in all probability, adopting the recommendation of its Parliamentary Committee, and pronouncing against the Bill. The Bishop of Rochester, the Bishop of half London—that part of the Metropolis which most requires a satisfactory Education Bill—and who was friendly to the Act of last year—has declared against the very vital principle of the Bill and has preference for a totally different kind of authority. The Prime Minister says that this is a Bill of machinery. It maybe soon paper; but it is not a matter of machinery only or mainly, but a matter of education of the children of London to the number of a million. What the Bishop of Rochester said was—It is from the side of the school and the children that I am most apprehensive of the Bill.722 That is the most vital condemnation that can be uttered by anybody interested in education. The side of the schools and the children! That is the side. For what does the education exist? For what is the machinery set to work? For the schools, and for the children; and if the Bishop of Rochester, who is largely responsible for last year's Act, says that from the side of the schools and the children he is most apprehensive of this Bill, then the Bill is unworthy of the support of this House, and ought not to receive a Second Reading. If it is bad for the schools, and for the children, it is bad all through. Then other persons who claim to know something about the schools and the children have declared that the Bill is bad all through. The secondary school teachers condemn the Bill, the elementary school teachers condemn it, and the school attendance officers condemn it. Those who know most about the subject, those who know most about the children and the schools and the really important phases of the whole quest on, condemn the Bill. Women who are specially interested in the children and the schools have expressed their opinion of the Bill, and what do they say? The Women's Local Government Society, after considering the measure, say—The evil effect of the Bill upon the co-operation of women in the organisation and administration of education is an effect even more seriously disabling than that brought about by the Education Act of last year.Again, I will quote what was said by the leading organ of local government in this country—the Local Government Chronicle—an organ of municipal administration, imbued with the spirit and conversant with the letter of all the Acts of Parliament which govern our local municipal life. It says—It is not in accordance with the spirit of the age that a body which is to have control over such large funds and such extensive interests should be constituted in such a heterogeneous way. It is putting the clock back to have a great and important branch of administrative work handed over to an authority resembling in many particulars that effete and corrupt institution the Metropolitan Board of Works, which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer extinguished nearly fifteen years ago.723 That observation holds good to-day. We have had no pledge, and no assurance that we are not to have a Metropolitan Board of Works under another name. This Bill does not please the School Board, the Technical Education Committee, the clergy, and those who are most interested in the metropolitan schools. I have quoted what the Local Government Chronicle says of the Bill; let me quote what the Pilot, that distinguished organ of cultured Anglican opinion—says—The London Education Bill has come in for almost universal condemnation. No one has a good word to say for it as it stands.In this House the only good word came from the Prime Minister, who himself spoke in the future tense and talked about certain principles in the Bill which were essential, and then threw the rest overboard. But the point I wish specially to bring before the House is that the Bill, as it stands, is what we are going to vote upon to-day or to-morrow—not an imaginary measure. The recommendation of the Pilot is rather comprehensive. It says—That the Bill requires the excision of every section after the first, and also of the first Schedule,and then you may have a reasonable measure!
The whole position is an absurd one induced by a hasty and ill-considered Bill; a Bill not based on educational considerations and not based upon the principles of last year's Act. There is no parallel between the machinery required for London and that set up for the country in the Bill of last year, and I say you ought to depart from the Act of last year in dealing with the case of London. I submit that the most practical way would have been to create a special authority, directly elected for the purpose of education and for that purpose only. I want to know why the Government did not take that course. Rumour has it—and rumour is full of tongues, but some of them tongues of Members of this House and Members sitting on the Government side—rumour has it that the Government were balancing in their minds between two plans. One plan is embodied in the Bill before the House, and another provided that the London education authority was to be specially elected by direct election for educational purposes. Why has that 724 plan been rejected? It has been rejected as the result of partisan prejudices and political predilections; a preference for the Borough Councils and a dislike to the London County Council. Speaking in the names of the children and the schools I do regret that a dislike for the existing School Board, a dislike for direct election, a predilection for Borough Councils against the London County Council, or other considerations of that kind, should have caused to be brought forward a Bill like this one, which is inadequate, imperfect, unsuited to the conditions and needs of London, and can hardly be amended even by weeks in Committee. It is bound to be only temporary, and must in the long run be replaced by a measure setting up for London an authority for educational purposes alone. The present Bill contains all the objectionable features of last year's Bill, and when to all that you add for London—the capital of the Empire, that ought to set an example to all other places in the land—a thoroughly vicious and impossible plan for managing education, then I say that no one who knows anything about it can hesitate to vote sincerely and heartily against this Bill
§ MR. MILVAIN (Hampstead)
I would remind hon. Members that it is the Empire which has made the Metropolis and not the Metropolis the Empire. In my humble judgment it is integrity, honesty, and industry which has promoted the Empire far more than education. I admit that changes in the world demand something more in the training of our children, and I admit that higher education is essential, but I deny that London, as the Metropolis of the Empire, is entitled to any better education, or any special form of education, which is not generally applicable to the country at large. I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire, and there is one expression which he made use of with which I cordially agree, viz., that it is a difficult thing to make plans. I think if it were desirable to put forward an illustration of that simple proposition you have only to look to the speeches which have been made by all the Members of the House who have spoken 725 on this question since the debate began. No two Members have agreed as to what ought to be the educational authority for London. Everyone has given us different ideas, with the exception of the hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. Member for Camberwell, who are both in favour of ad, hoc representation. At the same time it must be remembered that they are, I assume, members of the Association of Teachers. I take no exception to that, but I should like to know what would have happened if the Government had introduced any Bill that can be mentioned framed on lines suggested by hon. Members opposite. If they had gone for the London County Council pure and simple the Bill would have been torn to pieces, whilst one framed on the ad hoc system would also have been torn to pieces. This is a question of principle, and the principle in this Bill is what is the machinery which is to be applicable to London, having regard to the principle of the Bill that was passed last year. The prevailing principle of that Bill was decentralisation, and I think if anything would justify decentralisation in London it is the remarks of the hon. Member for Camberwell in reference to the cumbrous work the School Board has to perform in London, and the numerous children it has under its care and protection. The best way to get rid of all that work is by means of decentralisation. That being the principle of the Bill, I want to know what is the object of decentralisation. It is in the first place to awaken the authorities to their responsibilities on educational matters, secondly, to elicit the interest of parents in the education of their children, and thirdly, to enable ratepayers to say how, consistent with economy, education can be carried out with efficiency.
These being the principles of the Bill of last year, I attended a meeting of my constituents early this year and had the boldness to endeavour to apply those principles to what ought to be the educational authority for London. It must be remembered that these metropolitan boroughs have only recently been created—I suppose on the same principle as decentralisation—but they are still in their infancy. They have no power of rating in reference to education, and 726 having regard to that I expressed my opinion that elementary education ought to be in the hands of the metropolitan boroughs, and also that, with the object of the metropolitan boroughs being able to learn what are the duties in reference to education, no matter what the authority was, they should be appointed by the Government to have a right to have a representative on the rating authority. I was of opinion that there ought to be co-opted members who were experts in education, and that there ought also to be ladies who would render very good service as regards education. My object was that the metropolitan boroughs should be educated in their duties in order that when the time came they might be able to throw aside the County Council or the Education Board, each individual authority managing education within its own area. If I had known the amount of correspondence that my proposal would evoke, I might have hesitated before making it. Some of my correspondents advocated an ad hoc authority; the greater number were in favour of the County Council, and condemned the municipalities as the very worst authorities on the ground that their representatives were narrow-minded, bigoted, and ignorant. I cannot think that these strong expressions are justified. Certainly, they are not justified so far as the Municipal Council of cultured Hampstead, which I have the honour to represent, is concerned. But if these criticisms were justified would it not necessitate zealous educationists throwing the weight of their influence into public life, in order that men qualified to discharge the duties should be returned on representative institutions. If educationists would throw their zeal into public life there would be a better class of representatives, assuming the criticism is justified that the present representatives are narrow-minded, bigoted, and ignorant. I assume the whole of the Opposition are united in their opposition to the representation of the municipalities on the education authority. That cry comes with ill grace from those who formerly advocated: "Trust the People." I have every confidence in the people. Let us for a moment consider what an ad hoc authority is. It is a body which expends the rates, but is not responsible for 727 them—a body of irresponsible experts, generally extravagant, and admittedly elected by 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the electors. I do not think that that is a body calculated to know the needs of the people or the wishes of the parents as to the manner in which their children ought to be educated. The County Council has admittedly far too much to do already; and if the County Council were to be the only education authority, it would do as it did with reference to technical education—delegate the matter to a Committee. That would be a slight, I go further and say an insult, on all the London municipalities. Every borough in England and Wales appoint sits own education authority; and I am at a loss to understand in what respect Hampstead is less efficient or less public-spirited than any borough in England or Wales. There has been a circular issued showing the relative populations of the metropolitan boroughs and what are called non-county, with populations of under 150,000, and I find Hampstead has a population of over81,000, a larger population than Devonport, Newport, Wigan, and other places, all important boroughs in their counties and all having their own education authority. Now, Sir, I have always maintained, and shall continue to maintain, that, whatever the system of education may be, the metropolitan boroughs are entitled to representation. I am not so foolish as to insist that they shall have a majority. What my desire is, is that they shall be educated to their duties. It is not necessary that they should be in the majority at once, but I have no doubt in course of time they will be educated to their duty and their responsibilities and will not shirk them. I think this is the only Bill which is consistent with the provisions of the Act of last year, and however much it may be amended in Committee, subject to the metropolitan boroughs being represented on the Board, I shall vote for it.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I am glad the Government have at last got one solid supporter to this Bill, especially as he comes from such a cultured district as Hampstead. Now I desire to protest against the way in which London is 728 being treated by the Government in this matter. The whole handling of the Bill has been grossly and manifestly unfair. This Bill was introduced and read a first time on the day the London County Council separated for its recess, and there has been no meeting since. The School Board also has not had time to consider this matter, and now we are being hurried along to the Second Reading without either of these great authorities having had time to consider it. The Bill itself is an apparently inoffensive one of five short clauses, but the London County Council have taken the opportunity of printing for us the proper Bill of the Government, and I now hold it in my hands. They have printed in full all the clauses the Government have adopted by reference, and I find, instead of a simple Bill of five clauses, we have got a great document of twenty-eight pages, with as many most intricate clauses. The Bill which I hold in my hand is the honest measure, and the Government ought to give official sanction to the printing and circulating of this document to Members before it proceeds with the Second Reading. I desire to second the appeal of my hon. friend on my right with regard to the way the House handles this subject. We do not want any reconstruction or Amendment by amateurs either on this side, or below the Gangway on that side. We should deal with the Bill as it is. I listened to the hon. Member for the Cambridge University, and how on earth he can vote for the Second Reading I cannot for the life of me understand. He does not agree with a single clause of the Bill. He says there is a vague principle in the Bill, and in consequence of that he will vote for the Second Reading, but he wants to amend it in every particular, and hon. Members on this side want to do the same. I am very much obliged to hon. friends on this side for the way in which they have listened to the debate and spoken and assisted us in this matter, because I believe London deserves a little more consideration from the Liberal Party than they have given to it. My right hon. friends may say: There are only nine of you against fifty-two. How, under these circumstances can you claim to speak for London? 729 But I deny that the fifty-two represent London in this matter. If you go to the bodies which are interested in the Local Government of London you receive a very different expression of opinion, I would ask hon. Members most respectfully not to give us any more alternative Bills which are entirely different to the Government Bill; to follow each of the Bills which are suggested in every speech leaves our minds in such a state I of confusion that they are perfectly I useless to us. My hon. friend the Member for Camberwell said it would be easy to make an excellent Bill, but what he meant was, that if he were in power, with a majority of 120 behind him, he would make an excellent Bill. But a great deal must be done before he is in a position to submit any Bill at all. Let us not, therefore, go a step beyond our proper position, which is to express our opinion upon the Bills the Government introduce.
Now, I cannot help being struck by the bad reception which this Bill continues to receive. When the Bill was read a first time there was not a single Member who spoke in the House who did not suggest Amendments and alterations in it, and that criticism has gone on ever since. The hon. and learned Member for Stretford recently made a most interesting speech to his constituents in reference to this Bill, and he had not a good word to say for it. That was very remarkable, because he is a constant supporter of the Government. He made one very unfavourable criticism, and that was, that the Borough Councils were not the proper authority to have powers under the Bill; that the local authority set up under the Bill should be the rating authority of the district. The educational rate is one for the whole of London, and not for any locality in it; therefore the authority under the Bill should represent the whole area of London. That is a strong criticism to make, and the Government ought to pay attention to such criticism. The hon. Member for the Oxford University is to speak at a meeting of the London Diocesan Conference to-morrow, and I have seen the Resolution which is to be proposed, and that is, that the Bill should be passed into law but that the Council will 730 welcome amendment to it. The Government ought not to ask us to adopt a proposal of this kind which does not appear to have received favour anywhere. It was pointed out in the First Reading that it destroys the London School Board, but what does not seem to be so generally noticed if that it also destroys the excellent educational work that has been carried out by the London County Council. The same authority will no longer exist to do this work in London; the Technical Education Council of the London County Council will be as much abolished as the School Board itself. The great fault of the Bill is that it is opposed to the right principle of local government for London. I allude to its treatment of the Borough Councils. The principle on which the Borough Councils were founded is this. They are set up to deal exclusively with local matters which can be dealt with without respect to any other locality and without regard to the Metropolis as a whole. But education affects London as a whole and the cost is put on the general rate, and yet these bodies are tacked on and enabled to deal with this great matter. The principle ought to be carried to the full length of the proposals, and if it were we should have twenty-nine different systems and twenty-nine different authorities; and as it would be absurd if carried to its logical conclusion, we ought not to adopt it at all, but adopt instead the right principle of one authority for the whole of London.
Another point is the great cost of this Bill and the great new burden which will be placed upon London to pay the rate. I put a question to the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill at Question time in regard to the matter and asked him how much the Exchequer grant would amount to. He could not give me an answer at the time but he has sent me a courteous reply since, from which it appears that the new grant-in-aid will amount to 7s. 6d. on every child in London, That is a large additional sum and that is the aid grant from the Exchequer quite apart from the burden on the rates, and the burden on the rates will not be less than 1½d. in the £. Another important matter to be remembered is 731 that a quarter of the rate for the whole country is paid by London, and when we think of the additional burden thrown upon London in this matter we ought to pause before we make the fatal breach in the principle that control ought to go with taxation, and see that a legitimate amount of control is extended to London at the same time. Another point has been mentioned, but only parenthetically, by the right hon. Member for the Cambridge University, but it is important. It is assumed by the representation given by these Borough Councils they will have comparatively equal duties under the new Act. They will have nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that there will be only four or five schools under the great local authorities like Westminster and the City, but Islington will have thirty-six schools, and Camberwell will have thirty-six. That shows that the incidence of this Bill locally has not been considered by the Government. It must make a great difference to the local authority whether it looks after three or thirty-three schools. The only other point of detail is the treatment of women by the Bill. Everybody agrees that the women who have served on the London School Board, and the 500 at present on the Management Committees have done excellent work, but there is no provision for women in I he Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's position therefore is illogical. He desires to see these women's work continued, but what guarantee is there that it will?
§ Sir JOHN GORST
I said I was in favour of so amending the Bill as to leave the position of these women not dependent on the will of the local Council but to put them in a statutory position.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I quite agree, but that is a strong Amendment to suggest. We have not got it in the other Bill. The Government have not made us any promise with regard to it. But the right hon. Gentleman went further; he agreed to give the schools into the hands of the Borough Councils on which these women have no right to sit. He knows what efforts we have made to get the law altered so that women might be 732 admitted as members of the London Borough Councils, and how little likely we are to succeed on this. The position in which these women are placed after the work they have done for education is anomalous. This House is treating them very ungratefully indeed. But my main objection to the Bill is that it seems to offer a large endowment to sectarian institutions. It is really a Bill for endowing the Church, and I might say more than one Church. It is also a Bill for endowing private institutions, and private schools will get large sums under it. And finally it contains proposals for endowing unnecessary schools. I think the burdens of the people are great enough at the present moment without pouring out public money in this underhand and unfair manner. The position of the Established Church is strengthened unfairly in London as against the Free Churches. This point has not been considered sufficiently. The London School Board, through thirty years of its existence, has acted fairly towards the Free Churches in London. The board schools were considered to be so fair that they led to the abandonment of many schools belonging to the Free Churches in London, and the substitution of schools under the School Board for them. A great deal has been heard of the suffering of the Nonconformists in the 8,000 parishes of England in which there was no school but a Church school. I do not think the Nonconformists in these places have been subjected to nearly the same injustice as the Nonconformists of London will be subjected to under this Bill. The School Board is an institution regarded as favourable to the Free Churches and Nonconformists. Under Sir Charles Reid, and many of its earlier Chairmen, the character of its teaching was such as appeared to afford Nonconformists every security, but everyone who looks carefully at this measure will recognise that it is intended to strengthen the control of the Church over schools. It will act through Committees largely dominated by the local clergymen, who are generally bitter partisans and sometimes narrow-minded sectarians, and it will be a terrible thing if the House sanctions education being put so completely under 733 their control. In Islington the moment this Bill was launched many of my constituents took the view I have put forward of the measure, and I think something should be done to preserve the character of London education to secure that the schools throughout this great city shall be devoted to education and not to the promulgation of any particular creed, and in this way steps should be taken to protect the interests of the Free Churches. There is not, as it stands, an atom of popular control in any part of this Bill. Take for example the London County Council. It is supposed that the London County Council will be the authority, but it is not, for it is in a minority and it cannot do what it likes. The London County Council is obliged to elect a Committee of a certain kind, and its control over education is taken away. The Prime Minister reminded the House that the Borough Councils were elected by popular vote. That is so, but they will only send one representative. How can the Borough Councils select perhaps one man out of seventy who will have to form a part of the education authority for all London? Even when electing County Councillors the voters will remember that the County Council is not the authority. Therefore this Bill destroys that popular control of education which has been enjoyed by Londoners for many years past. It is said that at School Board elections only a small number have voted, but my hon. friend the Member for North Camberwell has proved that the proportion is larger than has been suggested. I am not, however, convinced by the argument that a small poll means that the people do not take an interest in education. I think the Government should not do anything that will tend to diminish the interests of the people in educational work, but on the contrary they should see that direct popular control is given equal to that enjoyed in the past. I can find little that has been said in favour of this Bill. The authority set up is a sham authority and it is a retrogade measure of the worst kind. The main object is to strengthen the position of the Church against the Free Churches. By this conspiracy, which has now been taken up by the Government, the clergy think, with the majority which they enjoy, that they will be able to foist upon London 734 a narrow and sectarian institution calculated to further the interests of their own sect rather than the broad principles of national education.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
With regard to what has just been said by the hon. Member for West Islington, I wish to say that the Bill of last year was passed after the fullest consideration, and, although a certain line of policy was adopted which was not entirely agreeable to many Churchmen, I do not see the slightest use in raising a question of that kind again after it has been decided by the House, and therefore I intend to take no such course. I have been interested in the speeches in the debate to-day, because they display considerable diversity of opinion among the ranks of the Opposition. Personally, I was very much disposed to agree with many of the observations that fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haddingtonshire, and I felt there was much in his speech which I should very gladly endorse, but his example was not followed by the hon. Member for West Nottingham or several other speakers, and I gathered the opinion that the opposition to the Bill is not so much because they cannot lay hold of some particular failing in it—because the Government, through the mouth of the Prime Minister, stated that many details will be treated in Committee with considerable elasticity—but because they cannot induce the Government to establish an authority ad hoc. I am entirely opposed to the institution of an ad hoc authority, elected, as this ugly barbarism means, for the express purpose of education only. I have long felt that the whole argument with regard to it is exceedingly futile. Do hon. Members really suppose, even now, that the London School Board obtains a large number of experts because it is an ad hoc authority? If when they speak of experts they mean teachers, no doubt some members of the National Union of Teachers do get into the School Board, and the fact has been the subject of some comment. But the candidates chosen at present are, as a rule, not experts. I do not wish to go further than my own case. I first went on to the London School Board in 1894. Why was I selected I had not made a very special study of education at that time. Let me confess it openly. At the moment I was selected I had never been in a London board school. I 735 was interested generally in the subject of education in the country, but I could not for a moment claim that I was an expert in the matter. I venture to think—and I say it from my experience on the Board itself—that that was the condition of very many, probably the large majority, of the candidates who stood for the School Board. Therefore it is somewhat ridiculous to say that unless you have an ad hoc authority you will not get proper attention to education. My desire is that the administration of education, like the administration of many other of our important national requirements, ought to be conducted from a broad, general point of view with due regard to all the other interests and matters involved. I do not see why the London County Council cannot take a broad national view and administer education just as it administers many other matters. One of the advantages of looking at the thing in proper perspective is that you can have more regard to the financial position. I think that the body that looks after these matters should have due regard to the allotment of money to the various directions in which it is desired. I am the last to say that education ought not to receive a very large amount of money, but I think that in the allotment of that money due regard should be had to other requirements, and the authority ought to make sure that all those other requirements are also carried out on a proper financial basis.
I also value the proposal to co-opt. That is the true way to get the experts we require for this purpose. It brings in men who would not stand for popular election. I can quite believe that there are many such men. Let me, for instance, mention Dr. Garnett, who probably would not care to face the turmoil of popular election. He does admirable work on the Technical Education Board. [An HON. MEMBER: He is a paid official.] Yes, no doubt, but I mention him as a type of the men I should like to have co-opted on the new authority, and who very likely would not stand if they had to go through a popular election. I am also in favour of women being on the new authority. They have done to my knowledge much valuable work on the School Board. Miss Davenport Hill was an admirable worker, and perhaps more particularly as regards the industrial schools. 736 There are numbers of women who, I have not the least doubt, do not like to face popular platforms. There again the principle of co-option comes in, and is a valuable one for the purpose. My only object in urging that there should be a general authority and not a mere ad hoc authority is because I think that experts, who very often constituted ad hoc authorities, are disposed to administer education as if it were the be-all and end-all of human existence. That, in my opinion, it certainly is not, and though it is of great relative importance with regard to other national and municipal questions, it ought to be treated in proper proportion, and ought not to be administered by mere enthusiasts, without regard to other subjects. I agree with the general principles of the Bill. I approve thoroughly of the central authority of the London County Council, and of the delegation of powers to the Borough Councils, but, speaking for myself, I am not quite sure that I can approve of an Educational Committee which puts the London County Council in a minority. I feel that if we are going to give the London County Council the financial control, and if it is to be responsible for the financial management of the central education authority, if, in fact, it is to hold the purse strings, it should have the majority. That is a proposal which cannot be gainsaid, and I shall be very glad if my hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education would consider that matter in Committee. There is no doubt that, if the Bill remains as it is, the dominant party in the London County Council will use their powers of co-option in order to give themselves a majority on the Education Committee, and I want the co-opted members to be independent experts. The London Members say that they want to have a Committee of nearly a hundred, but I think that would be cumbersome and unworkable. It seems to me that the desire to retain the representation of the Borough Councils is largely because the London members have had consider able pressure brought to bear on them by local persons. [Cries of "No!"] Well, I cannot help thinking that some kind of pressure has been brought to bear upon them. The appetite of the Borough Councils has been whetted by the original proposals in the Bill, and it is but natural that they should desire to retain what is 737 therein granted. It is left for us provincial members to save the London members from themselves. In any case, I hope for the taking away of the representation of the Borough Councils on the Committee, while ensuring to them a large amount of power delegated by the London County Council in regard to certain details of local management. I will not enlarge on the question as to whether the selection of the sites should be left to the Borough Councils; but so far as the appointment of the teachers is concerned I am disposed to think that the Borough Councils should have the appointment of the assistant teachers and that the appointment of the head teachers should be with the London County Council, or that the County Council should send down a list of candidates to the Borough Councils which should decide which one of three or four on the list should be elected. That would have the advantage of preventing the growth in each locality of an exclusive staff of teachers, deprived of the advantages of interchange of appointments with other parts of the Metropolis and the country But, as I have said, I am entirely in accord with the general principles of the Bill. I approve of the general central authority which it proposes for London education being the London County Council, and I desire that that general authority should delegate its powers in the direction I have suggested. For these reasons I have not the least hesitation in giving my support to the Second Reading.
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
I have been somewhat astonished at the extreme divergence of opinion which has been expressed by hon. Members who have spoken in regard to the whole of this Bill. I am going to endeavour to prove that the inclusion of representatives of the Borough Councils on the Educational Authority for London is the only just and reasonable conclusion to which the Government could arrive. One would have imagined, from some of the speeches of hon. Members, that the citizens of the Capital of this country were absolutely incapable of dealing properly and fairly with the great question of education. What still more strikes me is the fact that the provincial Press and provincial Members consider that the citizens in the provinces are capable of dealing with education. [DR. MAC- 738 NAMARA:—"Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear that cheer from the hon. Member for Camberwell. Now I take it there are two principles actuating the Government in bringing forward the present Bill. The first is that there should be one authority, for all forms of education, and the second that the one authority should be a municipal authority. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Poplar, who said there is only one principle, and that is, that there should be only one authority. The Government have endeavoured to thoroughly grapple with this question of municipalisation, and the endeavour to exclude Borough Councils seems to have fallen to the ground. I think that London's Borough Councils are absolutely entitled to be placed on the education authority. Under the Act of 1902 a County Council or a County Borough is created the education authority for its own area. What is a county borough? The county boroughs are all boroughs having a population of over 50,000, and some others are included without that population because they happen to be ancient cities. I believe there is only one borough in London that has a smaller population than 50,000, and when you come to the question of age the City of London and the City of Westminster can vie with any cities as to length of existence. One might fairly advance the argument, without fear of contradiction, that there would be some claim to consider that those large boroughs which are equal to county boroughs in size and importance might be the educational authority for their own area and district, but I grant at once there is an objection, namely, that there must be one rate for the whole of London, and in addition you must have one fixed scale for the salaries of the elementary teachers. The County Council is undoubtedly the only authority that is entitled to make a rate for the whole of London, but it does not follow that it is the only rating authority, or that it is the rating authority at all. It is the only County Council in the whole country that does not make and collect the county rate. The Borough Councils rate themselves in their own districts for their own wants, and, moreover, when 739 the County Council requires money for any purpose it sends a precept down to the Borough Councils and they collect the money. School Boards and Boards of Guardians do the same thing, so that really and truly the despised Borough Councils are the rating authorities for the whole of London. And yet the hon. Gentleman wishes to exclude them altogether from having any part in the educational authority for London. If the Borough Councils are not to be considered as County Borough Councils, then in what other way are they to act? The Act of 1902 says all Borough Councils with a population of more than 10,000shall be the local education authority for elementary education, and what is proposed in the Bill of the Government? It is proposed that the Borough Councils shall be the managers, shall have the choice of sites and the appointment of teachers. But mark the difference in the case of the country, where the boroughs are to have the power of finance. I have been a manager and can assert that I the powers I had were absolutely nil. I believe if a new handle was wanted to a door the managers were perfectly powerless to put one on without first I obtaining the consent of the central authority. The hon. Member for Poplar said we cannot allow the Borough Councils to take the position of the county boroughs. The Government should follow the precedent of the 1902 Bill, and if the Borough Councils are deprived of I their financial rights you must put them on the central authority. The Borough Councils of London must be one of two things. They must either come in as the educational authority for the whole of London or be the ordinary Borough Council and have the powers conferred by the Act of 1902.It would be ridiculous to create Metropolitan Boroughs and then deprive them of the whole of their rights.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.