HC Deb 09 July 1903 vol 125 cc236-66

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,249,806, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1904, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various establishments connected therewith, including sundry grants-in-aid."


said the fact that the difficulties which beset the schemes had been so easily settled did not justify the hon. Baronet in supposing that the schemes were entirely satisfactory, because while the local authorities and the Committees were disposed to do a great deal of work, the success of the schemes could not be tested until some time had elapsed. With regard to secondary schools and the division between the A and B schools, he would point out what appeared to him likely to be the outcome of the limitations of this system. The grant was only paid for children of from twelve years of age up to sixteen, and there were three classes of schools dealing with the education of children of that age. Many of the so-called Universities now cropping up everywhere were scrambling for students and willing to take them at the age of sixteen, but such Universities were really only secondary schools, and did not give a University training. He thought the hon. Baronet should take care that any school which received a grant as a secondary school should have a more advanced class of work, extending to university training for boys and girls up to the age of eighteen, otherwise there would be a hiatus between the training given by these secondary schools and the training given at the Universities. It was in the interest not only of the secondary schools, but also of the Universities, that this should be done. Unless the Government insisted that these schools should have a university system and curriculum they would, in his opinion, lose a very great opportunity. The hon. Baronet had referred to a notorious fact in connection with the education given at secondary schools, and that was that the education given was very often of a very narrow kind. For instance, in history the children were taught all about the Wars of the Roses and nothing else, and that illustration applied to all other branches of study. He thought the reason for that was because the Government recognised a certain class of examination which the schools looked upon as a source of good advertisement for themselves, and educated the children up to pass. He thought the Governmental system of examination was hurtful, and that it would be advantageous to the education of the children if the Government reduced their examinations to two or three He was glad the hon. Baronet the Parliamentary Secretary had given his attention to the question of pupil teachers, which had long been a crying scandal. It had not been a cheap, but a very extravagant method of teaching. Large sums of money had been spent on the training of boys and girls as pupil teachers who had been of no future use to the service. It would be interesting to have a return of all the boys and girls who had received grants for becoming pupil teachers, and who had been trained but who either failed to become efficient teachers or entered another calling. The Department ought to encourage local authorities to turn their pupil teacher centres into secondary schools in the broadest sense. This would have this advantage—that it would bring boys and girls destined for other walks in life into immediate relationship with those who were going to become teachers, and also be of advantage to the teachers.

MR. MIDDLEMORE (Birmingham, N.)

drew attention to the great urgency of secondary education in England. He admitted that the hon. Baronet had said much that would content them, and that in the regulations he had published there was not a little that was good, but they had heard nothing in the present debate about an increased grant, which was an essential point for education. It was a matter for the self-respect of this country that the Government should do more for the secondary education of the people. It was true that the subject was to be helped in a more general way, but not in a more generous way. The same amount was to be spent on secondary education as previously. The last man he had heard call attention to the urgent necessity of this was the late Archbishop of Canterbury, who, in another place, rose superior to his physical infirmity, and in the course of the greatest speech he had ever heard, in which he displayed a unique manhood, expressed his great regret that the Government had in the Act of last year done nothing to forward secondary education. Secondary education was as necessary as primary education. His experience was that if primary education was to be the be-all and end-all, if it was to have no power of development, there would be no ambition among either teachers or scholars. If they looked at the schools of America they would see that all the teaching was given with a view to higher teaching beyond. The schools in America could not sink to the English level. If a really sharp boy ran through his school course quickly, what was he to do? He might be too young to work, he was not fitted for the technical school, and so he took to street loafing. He had found most brilliant boys who had passed the seventh standard had come to a certain charity to be helped because, in the interval between leaving the primary school and going to work, they had gone to the bad. It was better to be a dull boy, because he could remain longer at school under discipline and training. He would be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench could give some assurance that something would be done of a really worthy kind for secondary education next year.


said the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University had referred to the miserable state of semi-starvation in which a large number of children were brought to the schools. What he had said was true, and it was also true that a number of children never went to school because the compulsory officers had not the heart to drag them there. The hon. Baronet had asked what was the remedy for that state of things. He might say incidentally that the proper remedy for a state of things in which children were in a state of semi-starvation was not to tax their food, and he was glad that the hon. Baronet was prosecuting his inquiry on sensible lines. As to ventilation, he considered it essential to the health and efficiency of the children, and he thought a good deal might be done by the Board of Education it they would press on the inspectors the importance of improving ventilation. In some schools the air was absolutely offensive, and good results could not possibly be obtained in such conditions. The startling statement had been made that the Board of Education were in the habit of sending back reports to inspectors to be corrected. That was an extraordinary state of things. It had always been a cause of perplexity that schools which were inefficient, inadequately staffed, and did not possess proper apparatus, should have succeeded in getting as good reports as thoroughly efficient schools, but the reason was now clear. The Board of Education had intervened, and said—"This report will not do; this school is teaching definite Christian dogma, and that ought to make up for what is wanting in other respects." Now that the County Councils were taking over the responsibility for these schools the reports would no longer be cooked. The suggestion had been made that some of the children should be fed. That he thought an admirable idea; but he believed it would be impossible to discriminate, and be hoped that if the practice were adopted it would be adopted all round, especially as all the parents would be bearing their share of the burden of the rates.

The hon. Baronet had told the Committee a good deal about the working of the Education Act, but what he had left untold was far more important than what he had told. In language that seemed to have been culled from the King's Speech, he said that his relations with County Councils were of the most friendly character. He doubted, however, whether the hon. Baronet had been getting on so well with the County Councils; at any rate, all his officials had not, and probably the hon. Baronet was not aware of all that was going on in his name. He would like to know what the Board of Education were pre pared to do to face the difficulties which had arisen in the working of the Act. Experience had borne out the prediction made at the time of the passing of the Act. With regard to schemes, the hon. Baronet said that in respect to some things the Board of Education had confined themselves to suggestions, and that in respect to other things there was insistence. They had, it appeared, varied a good deal. At first it was all insistence and no suggestion. [Sir WILLIAM ANSON shook his head.] But the hon. Baronet did not know. He was not present at these interviews between representatives of local authorities and the Board of Education. No doubt, so far as he was concerned, he confined himself to suggestions. But the things which he said were suggestions took the form of pressure—he did not wish to use the word hectoring, but he could find no better word to describe what took place at these interviews. The Department was converted into a sort of Star Chamber, and poor mayors, ex-mayors and aldermen were haled up from all parts of the country and appeared tremblingly before this great inquisition. Afterwards it occurred to some of the representatives of these authorities that even officials of the Board of Education could not override an Act of Parliament. The officials had attempted to dictate to these corporations that they must put in representatives of outside bodies. They had since climbed down.


said there had never from the beginning to the end of the Board's dealings with local bodies been any suggestion of compulsion to put in representatives of outside bodies.


said he accepted the hon. Baronet's statement so far as he was personally concerned. But the thing had been done. He had it on the authority of a gentleman who was present at the interviews. The Act, however, said— Every such scheme shall provide for the appointment by the council, on the nomination or recommendation, where it appears desirable, of other bodies.… Surely this meant where it appeared desirable to the local education authority. If the latter did not think it desirable, what right had an official to come and dictate to them in the matter? The hon. Baronet had said, "We must have all types." He talked of a local education committee as if it were a sort of museum where samples of all sorts of people ought to be put into a glass case and ticketed. There was no objection to South Kensington having something to do with education, but it was carrying it too far when they brought their glass-case notions into the local authority business of the country. Business men were elected by the people because of their capacity for dealing with local affairs, and if they were not elected for educational administration that was due to the Government introducing a Bill to place educational duties upon them and forcing it through before the people had an opportunity of electing men for the purpose. On the Welsh County Councils there were men experienced in all branches of education, and why should they go outside when they had better men among themselves? It was an attempt at dictation not warranted by any authority given by Parliament. He was glad that local authorities were beginning to stand up, and that they were determined to stand no more petty bullying from officials. The only attempt by a Welsh County Council to introduce into its scheme anything about delegation was with regard to a joint Committee which controlled the whole affair. That was a rather different thing from that to which the hon. Baronet objected. Unless such a provision were in the scheme it would be impossible for a Welsh County Council to agree as to numbers and so forth. It would not prevent them cancelling the authority at any point if it was found not to work, and he hoped the Parliamentary Secretary would be able to make an exception in that respect.

How was it that nothing had been heard in the hon. Baronet's speech of the real difficulties that had arisen? It was an unpleasant thing for local authorities to have to sell up some of their best citizens; but it was a task cast upon them by the Government, who should not leave them in the lurch. The Government flung this Act at local authorities who had not asked for it; these difficulties were foreseen, they had arisen, and now the Government had ignored them, simply writing letters to the papers saying that a certain course of action was very wrong and very wicked. But that did not settle the matter. What did the hon. Baronet propose to do? If these were illegal conspiracies, what steps were the Government going to take? The hon. Baronet had answered a question from the hon. Member for Tunbridge, prompted by a bishop in Wales, and had said that the resolutions of County Councils to contribute nothing but the Government grants to the maintenance of voluntary schools was in contravention of the Act. It was not so, for the councils had excellent reasons, both "special" and "educational," for the conclusion at which they arrived. They declared that they could not maintain the same standard of efficiency in schools that were not under their control as in schools where they had control. That was a good educational reaaon; therefore their action was not illegal. Three-fourths of the Welsh County Councils would decline to squander the public money upon schools not within their control, and where sectarian tests were imposed. That was the situation the Government had to face. What were the Government going to do? The hon. Baronet had made a long and interesting speech upon the educational outlook, ignoring the great topics that were absorbing public attention. He was glad that in regard to schemes the Department had seen the wisdom of climbing down. They had set the example in breaking the law; they were active breakers of, not passive resisters to, the law, and they were the last people in the world who ought to find fault with other people for breaking the law. What now would the Government do? While citizens were being sold up amid scenes of riot and disturbance, and the Government did nothing, education and good government suffered.


said he desired now to answer, as far as he could, various questions put to him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had referred to sanction given by the Board to arrangements contravening their own rules, and had put specific questions on the subject. To these he had to say that there were special circumstances which made it incumbent upon the Board to give their sanction. The new building rules only came into force at the end of last year, and the Board had been compromised by assent given earlier. In one case he had had to give way because the right hon. Gentleman had passed the plans for the building some years before, and it was impossible to go back upon them.


supposed his hon. friend meant that this had been done by the Board of Education during the time when he was Vice-President; but he was not personally responsible.


fully recognised the distinction. With regard to ventilation, and other minor matters, he would undertake they should be attended to. Two other matters were of larger importance and more difficult to deal with; and first of these was the inspection of children by teachers, with a return showing the number of children who were well and ill fed, and periodical medical examinations. What the Board could do in these matters he was not at present prepared to say. Then he came to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Camber well as to whether they recognised the importance of the training of the teachers, and he rather pressed upon the Committee the incompetence of some of the teachers and the importance of their immediate abolition. He thought the Code did provide for an crease of competent teachers, because there was in small type under Article 68 a statement that, as a condition of continued recognition, the Board might require such arrangements to be made for the training of these teachers as the circumstances of the case might render expedient. They did recognise that, and they were endeavouring to provide that the teachers should be qualified. There were difficulties in the way—as, for instance, they could not reduce the number of children in a class until they had reached what the hon. Member for Camberwell regarded as an adequate staff of teachers. The hon. Member must bear in mind that the supply of teachers was necessarily limited, and they could not abolish one sort of teacher until they had supplied another sort. But he would repeat that they fully recognised the desirability of improving the quality of the teachers. He also recognised the desirability of reducing the size of classes; but these matters, on which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Camberwell dwelt, were not to be dealt with all at once. All he could say was that he recognised the importance of them, and they were under the consideration of the Board, so that methods might be found for dealing with them. The hon. Member asked for information about the voluntary schools which had been transferred to School Boards in previous years, and which, under Section 24 of the Act of 1870, would be re-transferred under certain conditions, and he asked for an assurance that the Department would impose every reasonable obstacle in the way of such re-transfers taking place. The Board of Education, in spite of what had just fallen from the hon. Member for Carnarvon, was a law-abiding body, and in asking the Department to introduce obstacles to the carrying out of a lawful event, he thought the hon. Member was asking a good deal. Such re-transfers were subject, not merely to the provisions of Section 24 of the Act of 1870, but to the provisions of Section 8, Sub-section 3, of the Act of last year, and consequently any such school would be regarded as a newly-provided school. He hoped that would reassure the hon. Member that all lawful means would be taken to secure that the re-transfer of such schools was not to be hastily or improperly done. There appeared to be some misconception as to the by-law. It appeared to be regarded as compulsory and novel, but it was neither. Certain local authorities asked for model by-laws, and they sent down a set of what they conceived to be the best.


Did they include this new by-law?


Certainly; this model by-law would go down to the local authority; but it rested with the local authority whether they adopted it or not. So far as sectarian or unsectarian was concerned, they simply looked at it from the Act of 1870, and the old bylaws; and the Board had to make the by-laws correspond exactly with the law. He believed he was following the sections of the Act of 1870, and that the new by-law's corresponded exactly with that Act. It had been suggested that in consequence of the by-law children would be kept away from school, not because of any question of religious education, but because they were employed by their parents or others in their homes or elsewhere. If that was so the local authority could intervene at once; the matter could be brought before the magistrates as a question of school attendance, and then it would be a question whether the by-law had been applied in a bonâ fide way. It bad been suggested that the by-law would be applied in an improper way, but he believed the suggestion was wholly unfounded. He thought these remarks disposed of the points raised by the hon. Member for Camberwell. The hon. Member for Stretford had asked him a question as to the deaf and blind schools in reference to a change in the law which he thought would give greater effect to the teaching in those, schools. So far as he understood the object of the hon. and learned Member he sympathised with it, but it was a matter which could not be dealt with by the Department. The hon. Member for West Ham had complained that students on entering a training college were required to declare that they meant to pursue the avocation of an elementary teacher, and had said they ought to be free when leaving the training college to be secondary or elementary teachers. He could not agree with that. The training colleges gave specific instruction for the purpose of elementary teaching, and the duties of an elementary teacher were not the same as the duties of secondary teachers. The training colleges were established for the purpose of supplying elementary schools with teachers, and the money should be expended in the way in which those who supplied the money intended it to be expended. With regard to the method of examination adopted by the Board's inspector and the inspector of the local authority, that was a matter for communication between the local authority and the Board of Education. He thought the hon. Member must be referring to a provision of the Code that an inspector might examine the school if he thought it desirable upon six months' notice, and he thought that was a reasonable provision. It might be that the inspector thought some means of testing the proficiency of the school other than the ordinary means should be adopted.


said what he asked for was that the Board of Education should insist that their system should be paramount.


said he should be sorry to declare at once that the Board should join issue with the local authority in regard to any scheme of inspection which they proposed to carry out, but the Board had their policy. Beyond that it would not be safe for him to go while their relations with the local authority were still in embryo. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen had pressed him a good deal on the subject of the small provision for the representation of women on the County Council Committees. It did not follow because a scheme provided for only one or two women on the Committee that therefore the representation of women would be limited to that number. There were other members of the Committee, who might be men or women as the Council might choose. At a conference with the Lancashire Council the Board suggested that only two women on the Board was not a sufficient representation. They were told that it was impossible to find more than two women of experience who could go to the place where the Education Committee met, but that a great deal of work would be done by sub-Committees, and on those sub-Committees women would be largely represented. They had not yet come to deal with endowments, and he was informed that no difficulty had arisen up to the present in regard to trust deeds which had not been finally settled. The right hon. Gentleman asked him about an inquiry into the condition of the children. The Duke of Devonshire had stated in another place that an inquiry would take place, that probably it would be held by Royal Commission, and that before the Commission was constituted the scope of the inquiry would have to be considered, and various bodies and persons interested in the matter would have to be consulted.


said the Royal Commission promised by the Duke of Devonshire would not inquire especially generally.


said he thought the precise topics of inquiry were not laid down; but it was quite plain that any inquiry as to the physical condition of the population must include the condition of the children. The Board of Education should be the first Department of the Government to be consulted in that matter, because they were able to give as much information on the subject as any other Department of the Government. The hon. Member for North Birmingham said he desired to see something of a really worthy kind done for secondary education. He himself would be glad to see the grant for secondary education increased. He had some difficulty in replying to the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, because the picture he had presented of the Board of Education and their dealings with the local authorities was so unlike anything with which he was acquainted. He could hardly accept what the hon. Member said quite seriously, although no doubt it was very interesting and entertaining to the Committee.


It is a fact.


said if he were to find what the hon. Member had written on the subject regarded as material for the history of education, his faith in the value of historical documents would be much shaken. He hoped he had made it quite clear that there were some things the Board of Education were bound to insist upon, and would insist upon. They must require that there should be persons on the Committees of experience in education and acquainted with the needs of the schools in the areas of the education authorities. He thought that was a strict requirement of the Act. But the Board of Education had never insisted on any particular method in which these persons should be chosen. All they asked was that the authority should either enlarge their Committee by such numbers as would enable them to select the requisite persons, or diminish the number of elected persons so as to admit the requisite persons. When it was found that this extremely desirable requirement, which after all was a requirement of the Act, was insisted upon, it had been almost always at once acceded to, and the Board should fail in their duty if they gave way on that point. They had never in any measure climbed down, because they had limited their requirements to the requirements of the Act. They had been asked what course they intended to take in regard to those who refused to comply with the law. There were certain lines of action which the Board had marked out to be taken in certain conditions where the law was not complied with, and in answer to the inquiries of the hon. Member he could only say that when these conditions arose he would have to take such action as might seem to be necessary under the circumstances. Until then he would not contemplate what he hoped might never come to pass. He hoped he had dealt with the principal matters raised in the debate.


invited the Parliamentary Secretary to discuss the subject of delegation to a joint Committee, and to say what was the object of having two schemes, where one would do, to carry out an object admitted to be desirable.


could not admit that the method suggested by the hon. Member was within the Act. He was not prepared to discuss this difficult and complicated matter across the floor of the House. He would rather talk it over with the hon. Member elsewhere. Knowing what the Welsh councils wanted he was extremely anxious that their object should be carried out within the terms of the Act, but some of the proposals which had been made were not consistent with the terms of the Act. He would very much rather not continue the discussion on this matter.


said this was a very important question of administration. There might not be any other opportunity of bringing it before the House.


repeated that this was a complicated matter. There were various ways of carrying out the object of the Welsh councils, and he should be glad to see it carried out; but the ways and means of carrying it out were too complicated to be discussed without notice, and further preparation than he had had up to the present time.


rose to call attention to the resignation of Mr. Sadler. He moved to reduce the Vote by £100, not for the purpose of pressing the Amendment to a division, but to confine the discussion to this particular topic. He felt a certain repugnance in dealing with the case because it was more or less of a personal character. He felt bound to say at the outset that Mr. Sadler had been, if not hardly treated, at any rate unwisely treated, and that his great services had been unnecessarily dispensed with. He was convinced that if the President of the Board of Education and the hon. Baronet the Parliamentary Secretary had been a little firmer in resisting pressure from the inside of the Board the services of this brilliant, capable, and most useful public servant might have been retained for the benefit of the State. He was glad that Manchester University had engaged the services of Mr. Sadler, and that he would continue to do all that lay in his power to help the cause of education, especially secondary and technical education, the defects of which in this country were producing such lamentable results. Mr. Sadler was appointed under Mr. Acland's Minute of 27th November, 1894, which distinctly stated that the head of the New Department was to be placed under the Secretary of the Education Department. Mr. Sadler's own view of this Minute was stated in a letter which would be found in the correspondence published in the Blue-book just issued by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, and was to the effect that the words used merely indicated that he would communicate direct with the Secretary instead of his communications going through the hands of an Assistant Secretary. Before that correspondence was published Mr. Acland wrote a letter to The Times in which he expressed his view of the matter. In that letter Mr. Acland stated, in effect, that the terms of the Minute were not meant as any hard and fast arrangement, but a tentative scheme which might be altered according to circumstances. The hon. Member admitted that this was a difficult point. It was difficult to draw an exact line and say where the head of a Department was asking for something which was unreasonable, and where a subordinate in a Department was making a claim which no subordinate ought to make. He wished to point out that there were two views as to what the Minute really meant. The Treasury was asked for money, and Sir Francis Mowatt in sanctioning on behalf of the Lords of the Treasury the expenditure which was asked made the statement which was to be found at pages 5 and 6 of the Blue-book that the expenditure would apparently be about £3,000 a years The expenditure never reached £3,000. He did not think the Treasury was to blame in this matter. The Treasury was a useful watch-dog on expenditure, and he wished it was sometimes more effective, particularly with regard to money wasted on Army schemes. In this case the Treasury had not stood in the way, and Mr. Sadler's resignation was not due to its action in any form. The Treasury was really a bogey in regard to this matter.

In the course of the correspondence it was stated that besides the actual costs of the Department for salaries and other matters there had been a cost of £2,300 for printing spread over seven years. He thought that was rather a mean observation to make, and furthermore it was not a fair observation. In the first place, there had been a return for part of that expenditure in books received from abroad to the value of a very large amount. A large amount of that literature, which was still unsold, could be sold. If the Department had had the good judgment to put the eleven volumes in more suitable binding and offer them through booksellers' agents he believed a very much larger sale would have taken place. The Intelligence Department was formed in 1895, and in a few years it had achieved a reputation for efficiency which, he thought, any other Government Department might reasonably envy. The work of the Department was, firstly, to deal with the correspondence and inquiries of every one and any one interested in education that came to the office; in the second place, to answer the numerous letters received from foreign sources, and that correspondence had proved much heavier than was expected; and thirdly, to issue special Returns, the value of which could not be denied. Other work that was put upon them unexpectedly was the finding of several hundreds of teachers for South Africa, a work which they performed very well. The most important of their work, how ever, was the issue of these Special Reports, which were appreciated very widely both at home and abroad, particularly in the colonies, though the Government did not seem to appreciate their value. The Department had proved itself a centre open to the whole Empire in regard to educational matters, and its good work had been very largely due to the genius, capacity and devotion of Mr. Sadler. Then how did the controversy arise? It had arisen on the limits of the interference, of the Education Department with the discretion of Mr. Sadler as to the work he was to undertake and with regard to the expenditure of part of the money allotted. Mr. Acland's Minute stated that the head of the Intelligence Department was to be placed under the Secretary of the Board of Education. This had been interpreted into "The work is done, and must be done for the benefit of the Board, at the instance of the Board, and under the direction of the Board." What was the Board of Education? Surely it ought to be the servant of the nation to carry out the work of the nation in the best possible way. He had shown how this Department had served the nation, and the Empire. Why had this controversy arisen now? Because the Board claimed the disposal of the time of this Department for their own immediate wants and purposes, and refused to allow Mr. Sadler to go on with what he considered necessary work.

He would look at this question first of all on the merits of this particular controversy. It was proposed that this Department was to be under the Board of Education, but the Treasury Minute said:— It will be the duty of this branch to keep a systematic record of educational work, and experiments both in this country and abroad. But Mr. Sadler said that he could not keep up this systematic record of educational work and experiments in this country and abroad unless with extra help. Careful systematic scientific inquiry must go on, or else the information and advice would become of no value, and be untrustworthy. He was willing to do all that work if he got the necessary help. He was willing to leave the publication of the information obtained absolutely to the Board. Now, that was not unreasonable. A business firm which appointed an agent for special purposes would leave him general freedom to do his work and spend the money given him as he chose, and would then judge him by results. Instead of that a somewhat pedantic claim seemed to have been made to have absolute control of all the work of his Department by the Secretary to the Board of Education. There was no refusal by Mr. Sadler to do what was wanted. The new claim made was to take him off work which he considered necessary. He was willing to do both the work he considered necessary and the new work if he had the staff, but it was impossible to do both concurrently with the present staff. He maintained that, on this narrower ground, Mr. Sadler's attitude was not unreasonable, and that there was no insubordination. The narrow official view of complete control would not have been taken by broader-minded men. This work was done for the nation, not to achieve certain results for the Department, and the nation was a loser by the mistake. But he would take the matter on wider grounds. There was a constant complaint made in the House that more and more power was passing out of the hands of the Members of the House into the hands of the Government. There were many reasons for that. First, the larger work of an increased Empire; second, new questions had arisen at home, such as the problem of education; and third, there was an immense complication of many questions owing to new discoveries in social, economic, and political science. Owing to all these reasons Parliamentary supervision was lessened, and that meant that more and more was left to the Government, and that more and more was left to the officials of the Government.

He was prepared to maintain that the Civil Service of this country was one of our glories, and he had nothing but praise for the work done by our civil servants. But it was owing to the increased work, increased complication, and the less control by the House of Commons that there was more and more need for an Intelligence Department which must be impartial, and ought to be independent. If it were a mere creature of the Government, or of some official of the Government, it would be of no use. He would have an Intelligence Department in nearly every Department—the Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, the Home Office, and the Treasury. For instance, there was the great question of fiscal reform, which was germane to the question of an Intelligence Department. The country was invited to make an inquiry into fiscal matters and discuss it, although they were not allowed to discuss it in the House of Commons. Why was an inquiry needed in these matters? It might be argued that inquiry was needed because there was no Intelligence Department connected with the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade collected figures, but it did not collate these figures in a scientific way. There was only one publication of the kind he referred to, a Report containing comparative statistics of the population, industry, and commerce of the United Kingdom and some leading foreign countries. He was only referring to that question in order to say that there were other Departments besides the Board of Education in which an Intelligence Department would be of great value. What was wanted was constant, scientific, sustained inquiry on independent lines, especially in regard to the question of education. He did not think that the truth had ever yet been told to the country about education. He believed that the one great and glaring reason why we were being beaten in the world of commerce by Germany and the United States was our neglect of secondary and technical education. It was important that the country should be told the truth in regard to these things.

The cost of an Intelligence Department was trifling, and it would be saved over and over again, either actually or in increased efficiency. He repeated that such a Department to be useful must not be the tool of an autocratic Minister or official. Even if Mr. Sadler were technically wrong—and he knew that that was the official view—he believed that the principle for which he was fighting was right, and must be acted upon if any real advantage was to be gained. As to the future of the Department, he wanted to ask two or three questions. In the first place, he wanted to ask whether the publications which were mentioned on page 55 of the Blue-book as being in progress were to be issued soon. Particularly he wanted to know when the reports on public instruction, public health, and on the industrial training of native races, the educational system of Russia, on secondary education in France, and on the educational system in Germany would be issued. Were the inquiries and special reports to go on in the Department under the new management on the same plan as heretofore? Next, was the office open to individual inquirers? His last question was, would the Department give official letters of introduction, as in the past, to properly qualified individuals interested in education who were going abroad for the purpose of studying foreign schools. He had tried to argue this question on broad grounds of public policy, and to eliminate the narrower personal element. He wanted to make it clear to the hon. Baronet the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, that he cared much more for the future of the Department than for the exact rightness or wrongness of the question in controversy. For the sake of the convenience of the Committee, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,249,706, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Emmott.)

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

said the Committee would agree that his hon. friend was quite entitled to bring this matter before their attention. He hoped that every Member of the Committee had read the Blue-book which contained the correspondence in this controversy, because he believed that the matter contained in that book was of the very highest importance for the future efficiency of the Civil Service. This special Intelligence Department was almost unique for its efficiency and its methods. So much had been admitted on all sides. No work turned out by any other Department in recent times could be compared with that performed in this special Department in the brilliant series of reports which had been presented by it. He need only to refer to a single one of them—viz., that wonderful report on the education in preparatory and secondary schools—a report which, to his knowledge, had had a stimulating effect in every school district where it had been digested. The step which had resulted in the resignation of Mr. Sadler seemed to make it impossible for a civil servant to look upon the great question of education from an impartial point of view. They fought the Education Bill of last year because they believed that it violated all the principles which they held dear; but at the same time there was about this educational matter something on which they were all agreed. If, as the Blue-book showed, one of the causes of the resignation of Mr. Sadler was that there was an official in an important Department who claimed the right to stand apart from the controversies of the moment and to look at education from an Imperial and broader point of view, then, he said, it was a very sad thing indeed that that step should have been taken. He would read a short extract from the Blue-book, which would show the immense importance of this matter. Mr. Sadler in conceiving what his duty was in connection with the Department wrote— The Office of Special Inquiries has a scientific and investigating duty, as well as a strictly administrative one. Its most important and responsible task is to undertake the dispassionate examination of educational problems, and to lay before the country an impartial and accurate survey of the facts on both sides of great educational questions. Could it have been that the Government claimed from this Department that they should present their Reports only on one side of the educational controversy? Then, Mr. Sadler went on to say— So that there may thus be formed, in regard to national education, that sound and enlightened public opinion, on the existence of which, far more than on Departmental control, the prospects of wise educational development depend. And further, he went on to add— It would, I believe, be educationally mischievous and contrary to the public interest if the Office of Special Inquiries, instead of doing full justice to both sides in an educational controversy, were to prepare Reports with the design of influencing public opinion in favour of particular administrative aims or views, which might happen to be cherished by the Board of Education for the time being. The work for the Special Inquiry Office, though practical, should be scientific and impartial, free from administrative bias, and national, not merely Departmental, in aim. That was a very serious matter. As the hon. Member for Oldham said, the Civil Service had hitherto always been an impartial service. Many hon. Members had read this correspondence with profound regret, and they trusted that the present administration of the Board of Education was not bent on overthrowing all those high ideals which had made the Civil Service of this country the most enlightened in the world. Whoever was appointed successor to Mr. Sadler—he knew nothing of the gentleman—it was to be hoped that he would not be appointed under conditions opposed to those so well expressed in Mr. Sadler's Memorandum.

MR. HELME (Lancashire, Lancaster)

said it was highly desirable and in the best interest of the country that the Department should carefully strive to dissipate those suspicions that had gathered round it, that it had not been so desirous of maintaining the traditions of the Civil Service in regard to the interests of public education as of endeavouring to support the policy of the Government which for the moment was in power, suspicions engendered by the fact that Sir George Kekewich, Captain Abney and Mr. Sadler had almost simultaneously left the service. It was to be hoped the Department would in future avoid similar misunderstandings. Suspicion had been increased by the attitude taken by the Board towards the schemes presented by local councils, but he was glad to know that the feeling had diminished under a more conciliatory attitude. He could not speak with freedom, but he could say that he had seen a private letter which relieved a permanent official of the Department from the suspicion that he had worked for the exclusion of Mr. Sadler. It would also be well for the Department if there were a little more promptness displayed in the administration of everyday affairs, and in dealing with correspondence. The vicar of a parish in his constituency complained that the local authority had been compelled to overdraw its account because of delay on the part of the Department.


said he would at once answer the question addressed to him by the hon. Member for Oldham as to the continuation of the work of the Department. There would be no change of policy whatever. The works which were in hand would be published, and Mr. Heath would carry on the work of Mr. Sadler on the same lines on which it had been conducted hitherto. Therefore the hon. Member might relieve himself of all anxiety as to the future of this branch of the Department. He had no reason to suppose that the work would not be done admirably in the future. He was quite prepared to admit that it had been done admirably in the past. He regretted very much the loss of Mr. Sadler's services, but he could not admit for one moment any of the charges which had been brought against the Board of Education in this matter. Mr. Sadler asked for money. They were prepared to press the Treasury for the money, but Mr. Sadler retired before they had the opportunity of asking for it. He asked for an increase of rooms. They had already arranged that with the Board of Works. He asked for an increase of staff, and they were prepared to obtain that for him. The hon. Member ventured to assert, and he resented the suggestion strongly, that Mr. Sadler was asked to colour in some way, or to distort, the Reports which he published in order to serve some supposed policy of the Department. No such suggestion ever was made to him, and he did not think the hon. Member for Oldham could find any foundation for such a suggestion except the words he quoted just now. They were his words— It cannot be too clearly insisted upon that the work of the office of Special Inquiries and Reports has been, and must be, done for the benefit of the Board. That was, for the benefit of the education of the country. At the instance of the Board and under the direction of the Board. There was no suggestion there that Mr. Sadler was asked to in any way colour or alter his reports to suit any requirements of the Board.


I do not think that I made any such suggestion.


thought the whole tenor of the remarks of the hon. Member—"that the country ought to hear the truth," "that, the Board ought to be impartial," "that civil servants who supply special information ought not to be asked to alter that information in order to carry out the policy of the Department"—that was the gist of all or most of the charges in all the three speeches which had been made, and they were charges which he repudiated with something approaching indignation. He desired to place on record, and it was on record in the Blue-book, that— The director wholly misunderstood the minute of March 31st when he assumed, in his letter of April 3rd, addressed to the President, that in setting forth the result of his inquiries he would be required to state, not what he believed to be true, but what was 'administratively convenient.' The same misunderstanding is apparent in the Minute of same date addressed to the Secretary. There was no ground whatever for the suggestion made by Mr. Sadler that he was to state, not what was true, but what was "administratively convenient." In the Minute in which Mr. Sadler announced that he would resign—and it must be borne in mind that Mr. Sadler announced that he would resign unless the money and the discretion and the other matters which he wanted were given to him—there were several phrases which assumed that Mr. Sadler's Department was wholly independent of the Board of Education; and he felt it necessary to make it clear to Mr. Sadler that he was a member of the Department to which he belonged, that he was on the staff of the Board of Education, and that his work must be done with some relation to the work of that Department. The hon. Member had spoken of internal pressure. He had said that Lord Londonderry and himself were not strong enough in resisting internal pressure. That was another suggestion which he most emphatically repudiated. From the moment that the Minute with Mr. Sadler's proposed resignation came into their hands—and the whole of the correspondence had passed through Ids hands—there had been no internal pressure whatever. He had a reason for insisting that Mr. Sadler was a member of the Department, and was not an independent person.

In the month of January Mr. Sadler sent a Memorandum, a confidential Memorandum, addressed to the Board as to the mode in which it was desirable that Councils should frame their schemes. A few days after he received this Memorandum, which he read with much interest, he was surprised to see a letter in The Times, signed "Sigma," embodying the substance and much of the wording of that Memorandum. He felt that this was a, matter which he was bound to take notice of, and for this reason. The letter was accompanied by an article in The Times calling attention to it, speaking of it, as the work of a person of great educational experience, and treating it as an inspired letter. At that moment the Board were commencing their relations with the various local authorities as regarded the formation of their schemes; and nothing could be more destructive of the prospects of a good understanding between the Board of Education and the local authorities than the supposition that the Department were endeavouring to influence public opinion through the Press as to the particular mode in which they desired to see the schemes framed. He felt it his duty to call the attention of Lord Londonderry to this letter. Lord Londonderry had given him an account of what had taken place. He sent for Mr. Sadler and told him he had read a letter in The Times, signed "Sigma," so resembling the Memorandum or letter drawn up by the Board or Education that he considered it his duty to tell him his opinion about it. Lord Londonderry said he would not ask him whether he was "Sigma," but would say that he could not allow any official in his Department to take advantage of his position in the Department to write letters to the Press either under his own or under an assumed name. Mr. Sadler immediately admitted that he was "Sigma," but thought that he was justified in promulgating the strong views he held on certain questions connected with education in the Press when he thought fit. The Department had been charged with influencing the Press by garbling Mr. Sadler's Report, a charge absolutely unfounded, but what were they to say as to an official in the Department who endeavoured to influence public opinion by anonymous correspondence in the Press at a very critical time? He was sorry he had had to firing this matter before the House, but those were the circumstances which made him feel bound to remind Mr. Sadler in the Memorandum to which the hon. Member had referred, that the work of his Department was to be done for the benefit, at the instance and under the direction of the Board. Mr. Sadler said that he must consider whether he should retain his position. Nothing more happened, and Mr. Sadler retained his position. He thought that showed that Mr. Sadler was not treated with any want of consideration by the chiefs or the Department.

Shortly after there came the Memoranda referred to, and Mr. Sadler said that the work of the office of Special Inquires should not be necessarily subordinated to the immediate administrative purposes of the Board of Education. Mr. Sadler again said that he wished to resign; but he was extremely anxious that Mr. Sadler's services should be retained, and suggested to Lord Londonderry that he might come to some terms on which Mr. Sadler might continue his work consistently with the duties of the Department. He drew up the Memorandum which appeared in the Blue-book (No. 43), and he thought the hon. Member would see that every demand of Mr. Sadler's was acceded to, except as to the office being an independent one. Only he was reminded that the director was a servant of the Department, and that if he were asked to supply information either for the benefit of the local authorities or to enable his political chiefs to answer Parliamentary inquiries, this must have the first claim on his time. He thought that considering that Mr. Sadler's Department was the Intelligence Department that was a not unreasonable demand. Mr. Sadler replied that if he were furnished with a staff he would do this, provided that in no case should— The regular and systematic collection and recording of educational work and experiments at home and abroad be broken into or suspended by reason of the urgent demand for the immediate supply of particular information needed in current administration or debate. Let them suppose that a case occurred where information was pressingly required, and they sent over to Mr. Sadler, that was to their Intelligence Department, to ask for an immediate supply of this information, and suppose Mr. Sadler said: "I am pursuing a steady course of scientific inquiry and I am sorry to say I cannot give you the information you want." Supposing an inquiry had been addressed to Lord Londonderry in the House of Lords the answer to which could only be obtained from the Intelligence Department, and Mr. Sadler was informed that the information would be wanted by the next day, would Mr. Sadler be justified in refusing to give it on these grounds?


asked whether that had occurred.


said no, but if it had occurred, and it might fairly be inferred from Mr. Sadler's words that it might, either Mr. Sadler or himself would have had to leave the Department. Was it reasonable that the Director of the Intelligence Department should hold himself free to refuse information because of some scientific inquiry which was going on? What would be said at the War Office if Lord Roberts sent to the head of the Intelligence Department for information and was told that the Department was pursuing a course of strategical inquiry which could not be interrupted? What would Lord Roberts and the Secretary for War have to say to that? He told Lord Londonderry that he could not advise him to accept the terms of that last Memorandum. It was quite impossible that a member of the staff, who had already given such clear indication that he considered himself independent of the Department, could be accepted as representing their Intelligence Department when he considered himsef entitled to withhold intelligence whenever be thought that the furnishing of it interfered with a course of steady scientific educational inquiry. He thought they were right in holding this view, and he was prepared to stand by it. He assured hon. Members that the suggestion of internal pressure was wholly unfounded. Lord Londonderry and he were wholly responsible for all that had passed, and in this particular matter referred to, Mr. Sadler had the most friendly assurances that if he would stay on with them the work might go on as pleasantly as it ought to do in a Government Department.


quite agreed that the hon. Baronet and Lord Londonderry had done all they could to keep Mr. Sadler by their personal conduct towards him, but the ways of the Education Department were extraordinary to the ordinary man. The right hen Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had told them about something which occurred when he was at the Education Department. He said he did not do it, and was not responsible for it.


No. The hon Baronet said I had passed certain plans. I asked if I had personally passed or whether they were merely passed while I was at the Department. I never said I was not responsible. I was responsible for everything done whether I knew it or not.


said there was the letter written by the hon. Baronet and signed Mr. Morant. Why did the Parliamentary Secretary write a letter signed by Mr. Morant?


said such letters to the staff were always signed by the Secretary to the Department. The object of mentioning to the House that it was his own composition was to clear away the misapprehension of internal pressure.


said he was quite ignorant of the workings of the Department, and he apologised for the misunderstanding, although it was possible for any ordinary mind to fall into the mistake. He did not intend, as had been suggested, to accuse the Department of asking Mr. Sadler to colour the Reports that he presented to it, neither had he accused the Department of garbling Reports. Possibly he expressed himself imperfectly, but what he wished to point out was that if they interfered with a director of an Intelligence Department and took him off work on which he was engaged, and which they did not want him to go on with, and put him on to other work without enlarging his staff, they might produce an alteration in the results of his work without doing anything that could be called asking him to produce garbled or coloured reports. He still could not understand what occasioned this difficulty, He did not desire to carry the matter to a division, and would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.


said that the reason why the Amendment would be withdrawn was because they felt it to be of the highest importance that nothing connected with the Civil Service should ever be made a Party issue. They, therefore, would not press the Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


said he wished to say a word about the inquiry into the physical condition of the people of this country which the Duke of Devonshire had promised in another place. He quite saw that the promise of such an inquiry had entirely prevented the Board of Education from making any further inquiries at present on its own account into the condition of the children in the schools. He hoped, however, this circumstance would not prevent the Board taking such energetic steps as the hon. Baronet had promised for the improvement immediately of the condition of these children. The Board was thoroughly well informed through its inspectors of the facts which were elicited by the Royal Commission in Scotland, and which would, no doubt, be elicited by the Royal Commission when appointed in England. The Board had excellent inspectors who had, he had no doubt, given them most ample information as to the condition of the children. For instance, in London one of the inspectors was a gentleman who was a qualified medical practitioner, who took the most intense interest in the question, and who gave himself, when he was at the Board of Education, most ample information as to the unhappy condition of these children. The information which the hon. Baronet gave to the Committee that evening was no doubt derived first-hand from his own inspectors; and it would amply justify the Board of Education in taking action without waiting for the result of any further inquiry. He felt the utmost confidence that the hon. Baronet would take energetic steps in the matter; and that he would not suspend action as the result of the inquiry which had been foreshadowed in another place.

*MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)

said that many hon. Members might have thought that the picture which had been drawn by his hon. friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was over-coloured. It was, however, under-coloured rather than over-coloured, although the hon. Baronet said it had no relation to the facts. In the interests of historical accuracy he proposed to give one example in connection with his own constituency. A deputation of his constituents came to the Board of Education, and they were informed by a certain distinguished official that they could not do what they desired to do. They protested that, as they understood the Act, they were at liberty to act as they desired, and they were informed that so great was the power of the Board of Education that if the Board decreed that every member of the local education authority should have red hair no member could be appointed who had not red hair. Alarmed at the prospect of such an extraordinary instruction, the deputation withdrew precisely in the spirit described by his hon. friend. Such a hectoring, bullying spirit, as his hon. friend had described it, was not in the interests of education, and it would be better for all parties if it were abandoned.

MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

said he should like to have information from the hon. Baronet with reference to the question of children's teeth. During the war a large number of young men had to be refused because of the condition of their teeth. He brought the matter before the Education Department, and the reply he received was that the Department was considering the matter, He would suggest that dentists should be told off to examine the teeth of the children in the schools. He now wished to know if the Board of Education had taken any steps in the matter. A large number of would-be recruits were now rejected for the Army and Navy in consequence of the state of their teeth: and they would probably have been eligible if their teeth had been attended to in their youth. It was a national question, and in order to secure a reply he would move the reduction of the Vote by £200.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,249,606, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Weir.)


said the hon. Member had asked him a question on the subject not long ago, and he then told the hon. Gentleman that the Board of Education was in communication with the local authorities as to the most convenient manner of dealing with the matter. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter would not be overlooked, though he could not promise that any specific method would be adopted for making the inquiries which the hon. Gentleman wanted.


said he protested against this dilly-dallying with the question. They were told that nothing had been done, but that the matter would be considered. That was the invariable reply given in the House; but something ought to be done by this time. He felt bound to protest.

Question put.

The Committee proceeded to a division, and the Chairman stated that he thought the Noes had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the division was frivolously claimed, and he accordingly directed the Ayes to stand up in their places, and three Members having stood up, the Chairman declared that the Noes had it.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

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