HC Deb 18 June 1903 vol 123 cc1381-403

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £808,828, 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 Public Education in Scotland, and for Science and Art in Scotland, including a Grant-in-Aid."

*MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)

said the action of the Department was very unfair to the Highland schools. He thought instead of a grant to provide more certificated teachers, there should be a special grant to increase the perfectly inadequate salaries of the teachers in isolated and small schools, so as to attract teachers of greater qualifications. It must be remembered, too, that the position of the children in the Highland districts required special consideration, as the homes of many of them were from three to five miles from school. The children came in all weathers, often arrived tired and wet, with the provision for their midday meal already consumed, so that they spent the day cold and wet and hungry and miserable, and in a condition perfectly incapable of taking advantage of the education offered them. He also appealed for some opportunities of technical education in the Outer Hebrides, and suggested that the sum for this purpose should be drawn from the Grant under discussion rather than from the funds of the Congested Districts Board. The children of the Highlands were well worth educating. Whatever might be said of the children in other parts of the country, there was no physical deterioration here. It had been proved over and over again that when Highland children got the chance, they were able not only to take a good place, but a high place, in life.

MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)

said he was acquainted with districts in which provision had been made for bringing children from outside places to the towns where the technical schools were situated, and no objection had been raised thereto by either the Board of Education or the auditors. He suggested that possibly the Lord Advocate might be able, either by Minute or otherwise, to do something of the same character in connection with the scattered districts in Scotland. It was very desirable that there should be means of conveyance for both children and teachers, otherwise those who lived in the country districts were placed at a great disadvantage in the matter of education. As to the question of food, in some schools provision was made on the premises for the supply of food at very low rates, and he commended that plan to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman.

MR. HARMSWORTH (Caithnessshire)

joined in the appeal on behalf of the schools which were excluded from the benefits of the latest Minute of the Department. At the General Assembly of the United Free Churches it was unanimously resolved to memorialise the right hon. Gentleman on the subject, and he believed that had been done. The poor districts were really being penalised for their poverty. Not only were they unable to obtain such teachers as they ought to have, but they were precluded from participation in the Equivalent Grant because of their poverty. The education rate in his own constituency was anything up to 2s. 3d. in the pound, while in the neighbouring county it was anything up to 2s. 9d., and it was absurd to expect the people in these poor districts to pay anything further for the provision of educational facilities. He believed it was the fact that many of the teachers in the poorer places had never been out of the districts in which they taught, and were little better informed than the pupils they were supposed to instruct. If the right hon. Gentleman would take the case of these schools into his consideration he would find that a special grant might well be made. It was only right that the people should have a certificated teacher to instruct their children. With regard to the children who had to travel long distances to school, he realised that it was a very difficult matter to deal with, but he hoped the Lord Advocate would be able to devise some method by which the difficulty might be met.

MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)

said the case to which reference had been made was one which particularly demanded the consideration of the Government, especially on the present occasion, when they had this extra money at their disposal for the encouragement of education in the backward districts. He had had communications from friends in the northern Highlands putting the case even more strongly than it had been put by his hon. friend. The schools would not come at all within the terms of the Minute. They could not and ought not to be expected to go to the expense of an additional teacher, but they were exactly the schools which needed extra help. The Highlands had suffered more than any other part of Scotland from the fact that, owing to their isolation, the teachers had not been so well educated, well trained, or well paid as they should be, with the result that the standard of training and of education had been much lower than in other parts of the country. The Government could not put a substantial portion of this money to better use than by using it for the improvement of the class of teachers in remote country schools. This object might be secured either by improving the training or by supplementing the salaries. In three or four of the north-eastern counties for the last fifty or sixty years there had been in operation two trusts for the purpose of supplementing the salaries of the parish school teachers in the district, with the result that the teachers almost invariably possessed a University degree, and the schools had been brought to a high standard of educational efficiency. Why should not advantage be taken of the present windfall to do something in that direction? Like some of his hon. friends, he was rather disappointed at the manner in which this money had been allocated, the greater proportion having gone in the relief of the school rates. It was true the Lord Advocate had said that the arrangements were of a temporary character, and that everything would have to be put into the melting pot next year, but once aid was given to the rates it was extremely difficult to withdraw it.

With regard to the Minute, there appeared to be no direct provision in Clause 1 that the money when earned by any of the schools under (a), (b), or (c) should really be devoted to the improvement of the teaching staff. Doubtless that was the intention of the Department, but there was nothing in the terms of the Minute to prevent the School Board or the managers of voluntary schools putting the extra money into the common fund. He suggested that the intention of the Department should be clearly stated, so that the money would be used for increasing the number of teachers, improving their conditions and capacity, and, he hoped, supplementing their salaries. He thought the teachers as a body had a substantial grievance, and that, if from year to year they were to have additional duties imposed upon and better work expected from them, they ought to have held out to them the prospect of better salaries than they now enjoyed, with an improved social and educational status. He could not view with equanimity the prospect of an Education Bill for Scotland next year. The Lord Advocate would probably be the first to disclaim the idea that English educational ideas should affect Scotch educational reforms, but the same fountain could not bring forth waters both sweet and bitter, and it was impossible to ignore the fact that the educational measures of the present Government had been extremely obnoxious to English public opinion, and pre-eminently distasteful to Scotch opinion. However, nobody could tell what would happen between this year and next, but he certainly thought the prospects of Scotch education were not favourable so long as the Government retained the ideas embodied in the Education Act of last year and the London Education Bill of this. He had heard with interest and approval the statement of the Lord Advocate that advantage was being taken of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art being placed under the Education Department to make that institution more of an educational office in Scotland than had hitherto been the case. That was a step in the right direction, as Scotland had a right to have within its own borders, and amenable to the public opinion of the country, the administration of so important a national interest as education.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

emphasised what had been said with regard to the Highland schools, whose classes in many instances have been better taught than those farther south. The Government ought really to do something for the Highlands, not out of charity, but in order to give them facilities for securing that higher deucation which used there to exist. In the case of Stornoway the Inspector had stated that there ought to be a technical institution there. That was exactly one of those cases which might have been dealt with by using the money provided under this Vote. The Lord Advocate had expressed his satisfaction in regard to school attendance in Scotland, but in this respect he supposed the right hon. Gentleman had been taking his brief from the Scotch Education Department. He would give an illustration of how it was that the Department often gave an apparently flourishing condition of things when those who tested the statistics could show that there was no such progress, and as a matter of fact things were in an unsatisfactory condition. Take the number of children on the register. This would show how absurd it was for the Lord Advocate to say that the attendance was satisfactory. He had pointed out that on the school register there had been an increase over the previous year of 1,177 children, but the right hon. Gentleman omitted the important fact that meanwhile the population had increased by 1.1 per cent., whereas the increase on the register was only .15. This showed that, allowing for the increase of population alone last year, the number should have been 7,906 more. Although they had only got an increase of 1,177 the right hon. Gentleman was rejoicing notwithstanding the fact that the figures showed them to be 7,906 short of the proper total, taking into account the increase in the population. That was an example of the way statistics were presented to the House.

The Lord Advocate said there was a decrease in the case of children under seven years of age of 2,810. There again there ought to have been an increase of 1,743, and, allowing for the increase in the population, the total deficiency was 4,553. The deficiency between the ages of six and seven amounted to 1,270, and between the ages of five and six 574. If they took the case of the older scholars, and took into account the increase of population, they would find there an enormous reduction of what ought to be. If they went further into the statistics they would find that there was a decrease in children between eleven and twelve, and there was an increase of 630 between the ages of twelve and thirteen. There was also an increase of 4,070 between the ages of thirteen and fourteen. That was the result of the working of the Education Act of 1901. Those statistics made no allowance for the increase of population Even taking into account the operation of the Act of 1901, they actually did not get up to within 2,000 of the total which ought to have been reached according to the natural increase of the population. The average attendance did not show any benefit to those on the register at all. The average attendance last year was 14.30, in 1898 it was 14.47, and in 1899–1900 it was 14.48. He did not complain, but why did the Department not state the fact clearly that they had come to a point in Scotch education in which they were at the straining point?

They had invoked the aid of an Act compelling children to attend school up to fourteen years of age, and notwithstanding this the attendance of children in Scotland had actually gone down. If legislation was a strain upon the people then they lost the co-operation of the parents, and consequently they actually lost in other ways. What good from a national point of view would it do to keep children at school between the ages of thirteen and fourteen years? At the present time they were kept there to prevent them going to work, but they were not being actually educated, and instead of doing any good they did harm by keeping the children at school against their will. A great many people seemed to think that by keeping children at school they were doing good to them, but in the case of children of thirteen or fourteen years of age who had passed the fifth or sixth standard, the worst thing they could do with those children was to compel them to go to school up to fourteen years of age, because such boys instead of dragging out an existence at school might have been sent out to work with great advantage. Such boys at once came under discipline and better surroundings, and the money they earned would enable their parents to feed them better, and better results would be obtained all round. He knew of many people who did not get much education in their early days, but had made up for it in later years, and had become most successful men. It was absurd to keep children at school if it meant absolute poverty to them and their parents. He was anxious to know how the Act was working. The Act had shown that there were 4,000 more children between thirteen and fourteen years of age at school, but what had been the effect on the school register? It had shown an absolute decline, and they now found the inspectors calling out for more vigorous legislation, and the application of compulsory powers. If they insisted on compulsory powers they would do no good educationally. He believed they had now come to a point at which they had to consider what was to be done to regain the harmony which the parents' influence produced, for without that harmony it was impossible to enforce school attendance. To get up the attendance in Glasgow they had instituted a new industrial school and a truant school, and they were making efforts to enforce the compulsory clauses of the Act. That was a bad state of matters, because what ought to produce a great improvement in education was not compulsion, but that they should make the school attractive and produce a state of things whereby the children preferred to go to school of their own accord. It was a very bad principle to talk about establishing industrial and truant schools with the view of bringing a good many boys together, because one bad boy in an industrial or truant school could do an immense amount of harm to other boys who were probably more susceptible than ordinary children. The inspectors had drawn attention to this matter of the necessity for compulsion, and there were many questions throughout the Report showing that after all it was the interest of the teachers in the children that could produce better attendance. Parents did not resent the interference of teachers in regard to irregular attendance, but they generally looked with kindness upon the action of the teacher, because it showed that they were interested in the success of the children, and consequently parents co-operated wherever it was shown that the teachers took a real interest in the welfare of the children.

The next thing required was that their schools should be made so that the children would feel a pleasure in coming to them and not be over-pressed when they went to school. The present system of increasing the average attendance was by high-pressure. The Lord Advocate seemed to think it was an advantage to have a high average attendance, but this was not so in many ways. The inspectors were of the opinion that it would be better for the children to have a reasonable amount of attendance at school and have more holidays and more open-air. One inspector pointed out that about four hours a day was practically as much education as children could properly digest, and if they gave them more than that they did the children more harm than good. Up to the present, without the new supplementary course for children between twelve and fourteen years of age, the teachers considered that there was over-pressure in the school. The present curriculum had been added to quite recently, and physical training, drawing, and a number of other subjects were now to be added. In order to meet these new demands the teachers had gone to classes and obtained certificates to qualify them to teach subjects which were not under the original Code. Even in these circumstances the conditions of the Code were far more than the teachers felt they were able to teach successfully. In addition to all this over-pressure there was now to be another class formed of children between twelve and fourteen years of age, and they were to be educated in a special manner by supplementary courses. It was impossible that they could have anything like reasonable results with the same staff of teachers. As a result the schools were over-pressed and the children under over-pressure were not attended to in the way they ought to be. That was the explanation of the extraordinary circumstance that last year the numbers on the roll had been enormously reduced. When too much pressure was put on, the school was made distasteful to the children and parents did not show that co-operation in regard to school attendance which was to be desired. He maintained that a good deal of this was due to the change which had taken place in regard to the system of examination.

Under the old system established in 1872 education was put on the footing of beginning with the lowest class in society and making education compulsory on everyone. It was a system by which the authorities could make sure that the very poorest child was educated. The children were examined every year in each standard, and it was only when a child was able to pass the standard that payment was made. That system was fair to the State, the child, and the parent. By the change individual examination had been abolished, and schools were not graded on the system of standards at all. Each teacher had his own system of development, and each school had its own system of organisation. That change had been made with the view to a certain end, namely, that the clever children might go up to a certain standard. But the effect of that was that what might be called the less clever and backward children were allowed to fall down, and nobody seemed to know the state they were in. Every inspector pointed out mow how difficult it was to get at the attainments of the children on account of the change in the method of examination. What was the present system? They were putting all their energies into having a great many requirements. They were beginning at the top without having any solid foundation, and that was why education in Scotland would suffer.

He was glad to see from the inspectors' reports that a considerable amount of good work had been done by introducing improvements in the new school buildings recently erected. He thought this showed that the School Boards were rising to the occasion by providing what was required to meet the educational necessities of their localities. He noticed that in the case of the county of Ayr an Episcopal school was reported to be the worst in the whole district. That led him to point out that it was a pity that in giving the grant to voluntary schools it was handed over without any restriction whatever. Another point worth considering was that the playgrounds in some places were unsuitable and not kept in proper order, while some were not provided with shelter sheds. These were defects which should not be allowed to exist, and something should be done by the Department to have them remedied. There were several points in the Minute which deserved the attention of the Committee. The Lord Advocate knew that it was now admitted that they should deal with the amount given to Scotland on the principle of the Equivalent Grant. Whether it was dealt with by the equivalent being given on the basis of population, or the basis of eighty to a hundred as under the old system, was a matter of no moment, because the amount was the same whichever view was taken. The amount given to England was £2,200,000 a year.

Attention called to the fact that there were not forty Members present.

House counted, and there being forty present—


said the grant to England of £2,200,000 wiped out the necessitous School Boards grant, and also the voluntary schools grant. Assuming that the proportion of 11–80ths was the correct proportion due to Scotland, the correct sum that ought to have been paid to her was £302,500, whereas only £278,600, or £23,900 less than the proper amount, had been paid. There could be no doubt that that would be the fair amount for Scotland. But what did the Lord Advocate do? He split the English money into two, and in 1897 he did not give Scotland the full sum she was entitled to under the Equivalent Grant. The hon. and learned Gentleman now said, referring to what was done in 1897, "We will adhere to the old arrangement." Nothing could be more ridiculous than a position of that kind. With regard to the position of the matter in 1897, the Lord Advocate knew that at that time there was a sum of £26,000 which he said Scotland would get—that was to say, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would make up this sum to Scotland in order to keep the school fee grant up to 12s. The Lord Advocate now said that the probate duty grant had increased more than had been anticipated, and that that was why Scotland did not need any part whatever of the £26,000. He desired to point out to the Lord Advocate that this position of matters was brought about not because the probate duty grant had increased, but because of an absolute mistake on the part of the Department through not taking into account the residue of the probate duty payable under the Local Government Act of 1899. The Government themselves admitted that Scotland had lost no less than £150,000 during the last six years through the blundering of the Scotch Education Department. He was sure that if the matter were properly explained to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if the Scotch Education Department were honestly to own up that they had made a mistake, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would pay the money up at once.

Then Scotland ought to have an equivalent grant to that given to England to the voluntary schools when the School Boards were wiped away. As to the teachers, it was said last year that accommodation could be given in the training colleges for 534 students, and now there was accommodation for 691; but last year no fewer than 822 pupil teachers and 135 non-pupil teachers, or a total of 957, passed their examination, so that there was a deficiency of accommodation in the training colleges for 266 students. Every inspector told of the great difference there was between the teachers who had been trained in a college and those who had not been, because there was no room for them in any of the colleges. Last year there were 320 acting teachers in Scotland who had not passed through a training college at all. He could not conceive a greater folly than this system of non-provision of facilities for the educational training of teachers. Then as to the matter of leaving certificates. The new Minute said that where two languages were taken one of them must be Latin, and he rather approved of that because it would form a connecting link between the school and the University, where Latin was absolutely necessary for a degree in Arts.

COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)

said that the hon. Member had complained that the students in the training colleges did not get sufficient fresh air, but that was not the fault of the Education Department; for he was sure if the managers of the training colleges, or of any school, approached the Education Department they would sanction any expenditure for the provision of more fresh air and outdoor work for the children. No one could have read the Report of the Royal Commission on Physical Culture without feeling that there was much necessity for a change. It was absolutely certain that if the present state of things were allowed to continue, in a few years so great would be the deterioration of the children that the problem would become so serious as to menace our existence as a nation of men. There should be some sort of medical supervision, and money should not stand in the way. In one school it was found that no fewer than 90 per cent. of the children had something wrong with them. That was perfectly amazing considering that the children at the present day were better clothed and better fed than they were forty or fifty years ago. Fifty per cent. of the recruits were cast from the Army on account of their bad teeth, and he would urge the School Boards to appoint not only a dentist but an oculist to each school. If they did so he did not believe that the Education Department would stand in the way, but would say that it was to their credit that they had made such appointments. In many cases the eyesight of a child was at fault when he was supposed to be slow in brain, dull, or idle. In fact, sometimes the child could not see a word on his lesson book. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the hearing?"] Hearing was often associated with defective eyesight, and defective hearing could be often cured by a simple operation. No Scotchman with any regard for the reputation of his race could read the Report of the Royal Commission without asking the Government to encourage a system of medical inspection in the schools. He concurred with the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire as to the inadvisability of devoting any part of the Equivalent Grant to the aid of local rates. The money would disappear without any advantage accruing to education, and he urged in the strongest manner that the £212,000 should be given to building technical schools. He was sure that if the Education Department devoted that capital sum for such a purpose nobody would complain. As to the teaching of Latin in schools, he admitted that nothing should be done to discourage the teaching of Latin to lads intended for a professional career; but he had been too long in business, and had travelled too much on the Continent of Europe not to know the importance of the acquisition of modern languages. A man who went as a traveller in the interests of British manufacturers to France, Germany, and Russia might as well stay at home if he did not know the modern languages. He knew men who had been trained in Latin in school and college, who were of no use in business life because of their want of knowledge of modern languages. The Scotch Education Department had no doubt insisted on Latin in the leaving certificate, with the best intentions in the world, but if it were insisted upon it might be attended with the most disastrous results so far as those who wished to follow a commercial career were concerned.

There was another point to which he wished to refer. He had sat for eighteen months as one of the representatives of this House on the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the condition of the Mercantile Marine, and to see what could be done to induce more British lads to go to sea and stay there. One of the complaints made from almost all the witnesses was the defective cooking on board ship; and what was wanted was that the average sailor should be able to cook something, fit to eat. That could not be done without education. He remembered one captain saying that a good cook could make a pudding from a couple of lbs. of flour which would fill a cabin, while a bad cook would not make a pudding from the same quantity of flour bigger than a cricket ball.


said he did not see any grant for sea cooking down on the Estimates.


said that there ought to have been; and all that he asked was that the Lord Advocate should take this matter into consideration. He wished to congratulate the Scotch Education Department and the Gentleman at its head on the good work they had done. That Gentleman might rest assured that although hon. Members sometimes criticised sharply enough certain things which the Department had done, they all felt that the Department was one of which Scotsmen might well be proud, and they only desired to make it still more effecient.


said he could assure the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down that the Education Department hoped to be able to do something in the matter of increasing the facilities for cookery instruction under the Continuation Code. He supposed he might take it that the hon. and gallant Gentleman considered size and quality as being always equal. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark had spoken at some length on the old story of the exact amount of money due to Scotland on the principle of the equivalent grant. He could not accept the hon. Member's statement that the loss of £26,000 per annum for a period of years was due to the Scotch Education Department. It was right that he should say that, because what was offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a promise which was estimated in value at £26,000. That Estimate might have been right or wrong, and the point to-night was that the Department had successfully persuaded the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they should have the money in cash in future. He would remind the hon. Member for Mid Lanark that they could not take this matter of the Equivalent Grant piecemeal as he was inclined to do. If they took the sum of the Imperial subventions between 1890 and 1901 to the assistance of the local authorities, it would be found that Scotland had not at all the worst of the divide. As to the disposition of the money by Minute, that course had been adopted because the money was given this year by means of a general grant from the Treasury, and, therefore, the introduction of a Bill was not necessary. A Bill was necessary in the case of England and Ireland, because Parliament was making certain legislative changes by which the money was diverted to other purposes. If the money granted to Scotland had been diverted to other purposes it also would have to be dealt with by a Bill. The present system did not do away with Parliamentary control.

Coming to the merits of the Minute, that portion of it which dealt with the relief given to the smaller schools had, generally speaking, obtained the approbation of most of the speakers. The hon. Member for Leith, while entirely in sympathy with the object, seemed to think that these grants to the smaller schools would prejudice what he considered would be a great reform in the educational system in Scotland—viz., the enlarging the School Board areas. He did not think that the enlarging of the School Board areas for the purposes of administration would very much affect the question of school supply in sparsely populated districts. The hon. Member for Inverness-shire and the hon. Member for East Aberdeen seemed to think that the Highland schools had not been treated with generosity under the Minute. He was in sympathy with the object which these gentlemen had in view, but he would point out that the grant was given to Scotland as an equivalent to that which was given to all parishes in England. It would not be right to give it in Scotland otherwise than in proportions corresponding to local effort. A great many hon. Members had complained that the relief had gone to the rates. He did not admit that the grant was to be regarded as a relief to the rates. It was the charge which had been in England an Imperial contribution to local resources for primary education, and it was as an Imperial subvention to local resources of primary education in Scotland that it must be regarded. The hon. Members for the Border Burghs and for Banffshire had made it a grievance that in this money voluntary schools had a share.


No. I complained of the method of allocation. I said if it was only temporary the voluntary schools would lose, because their voluntary subscriptions would be wiped out.


said he understood the hon. Member to object to the money being given to voluntary schools. It had been said that it would not be right to give any of this money to Roman Catholic or Episcopal schools; but the money was given in England to aid the local resources that went to provide primary education. Why, then, should not the same be done in Scotland? He was asked why none of this money was given to continuation schools. The reason was that they were schools which were not necessary in every part of the country. As to the propriety of giving building grants, £6,500 had been given lately in that way, and it was probable that more grants of the kind would be made. Of course the distribution under the Minute was merely a temporary distribution. He did not at all mean that he did not think the distribution a proper distribution, even if it had been permanent; but if there was to be a new Bill it was quite obvious that the whole of the educational resources must be within the purview of that Bill, and accordingly the arrangement could only be temporary at present. He noticed that the hon. Member for the Border Burghs made a speech at the end of a convivial gathering recently in the course of which he said that he would sooner abandon his political life than see the subject of Scotch education handled by the present Government. Of course they would be grieved to see the hon. Member leave political life, and he did hope that if he were allowed to bring in the Bill next year, it would not be at such a cost. A great deal had been said about the circulars. In particular the hon. Member for Leith had complained that too much was left in the power of the Department, and that everything was done by circular and Minute. He thought the hon. Member forgot what a circular was. It was the Code only that was operative, and the authority of the Code itself was only perfect after it had been on the Table of the House, when the constitutional method of objecting or vindicating the control by Parliament was to present an address asking that sanction might not be given to the Code. He really did not see what other Parliamentary control there could be over this Department, any more than there was over any other Department. There were only two ways in which Parliament could exercise control over a Department—first, by dealing with any Bill which emanated from the Department, and secondly, by criticising the Estimates and moving reductions.

A good deal had been said about London and Edinburgh. Some speakers had talked of a consultative body; but could anything be imagined more fatal to the progress of education in Scotland than that there should be continual collisions between a consultative body, which would have to be elected in some way, and the Education Department? If they did not have collisions it would be only because the Education Department gave in to the consultative body, and then once again there would be the old story that they were ruled by a body not responsible to Parliament. As to the circular about modern languages, he very much regretted the extraordinarily strong language which had been used by the right hon. Baronet behind him, as well as by the hon. Member for Kincardineshire and North-west Lanarkshire. A complete misconception seemed to prevail. The mistake could hardly be made, unless only the one circular had been read, without the circulars which accompanied it. The one thing the Department had done more than another lately had been to encourage and not to discourage, as seemed to be suggested, the cultivation of modern languages. As to the provision that of two languages one should be Latin, that was because the leaving certificate was meant for two classes of people—those who were going to a University and those who were going into the teaching profession. But for other branches there was the commercial certificate, which did not necessitate the taking of Latin at all, but allowed two modern languages to be taken, and the commercial certificate was in no way inferior to the leaving certificate—the only difference was that it represented a shorter course. There was suitable provision for special commercial studies. After the intermediate stage, commercial subjects were given a special direction, and the instruction in foreign languages was concerned chiefly with the vocabulary and subject matter of commercial proceedings. Would the hon. Gentleman prefer a clerk brought up and trained in everyday conversation and commercial proceedings, or trained in the more strictly linguistic teaching for which the leaving certificate was given? As a practical man he would choose the former; and that is precisely the clerk he would get under the commercial certificate. This circular had been most extraordinarily misunderstood, and when the proposals of the Department were viewed, not from one circular alone, but from all the circulars, it would be at once seen that, so far from discouraging the study of modern languages, the Department had fostered the study of modern languages in a manner which was specially desirable in commercial life. With reference to Circular 374, the hon. Member for North-west Lanark quoted a portion of a speech of a well known and most respected lady, Miss Flora Stevenson. He could not allow the hon. Member to hide himself behind the skirts of Miss Flora Stevenson. The hon. Member should have the courage of his convictions, and say whether he disapproved of those supplementary courses or not. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen spoke of specialisation; but his reply was that no one who read Circular 374 as a whole could fairly say that there was any tendency to specialisation in it. Having known and admired the vigour of denunciation at the command of the right hon. Gentleman whenever he had a case, he listened to his half-hearted denunciation of the circular, and came to the conclusion that, after all, he had not very much to say against it.


said he did not denounce the circular in any sense. He said it was vague; but so far from denouncing it he desired to convey that it had considerable merits, and that something of the kind was wanted.


said that the right hon. Gentleman had now praised him even more than he expected. As to physical training, he was quite sure that the amount of attention given to the work of the Commission, especially by such a recognised authority as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, would give an impetus to the subject which would lift its interest far beyond the somewhat prosaic region of their Scotch debate. The question of ventilation had been very much the care of the Department and of the inspectors, but, as the hon. Member for Leith Burghs said, it was really a very difficult subject. Even in this House, with unlimited money, they had not been able to secure perfect ventilation. He was inclined to agree with the remark of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University that ventilation in these country schools depended more upon adequate heating than anything else. There was no difficulty in getting fresh air. The great difficulty was that fresh air was shut out owing to the cold being too great. After all, the system of the open fireplace was better for ventilation than any artificial system unless it was contrived with extraordinary skill and care. The question of feeding the children was a very large one and went far beyond the Education Department. He could assure the hon. Member who was now reposing near him that the Department had already written to several School Boards asking how far they could carry out the recommendations. The Department had appointed a skilled Committee along with the English Department to advise on the model course of physical exercises, and they were considering the question of medical and sanitary inspection. They could not, however, deal with the subject without communication with the School Boards and the Treasury. But he could assure the Committee that the matter would not be lost sight of. Several hon. Members asked questions with reference to the conveyance of children in country districts. That was a somewhat difficult matter which had also been considered by the Department and would be reconsidered. The hon. Member for Kincardineshire asked him a question about students not being allowed a certificate for dynamics unless they took up mathematics also. The object was that it should be certain that the student who presented himself for dynamics had not forgotten his mathematics.

The hon. Member for Banffshire referred to the terrible use of the word "English" instead of "British" in the school books. He was entirely in favour of using the proper word; and, as a rule, he was not caught out in a public speech in using the word "English" when he ought to use the word "British." He was quite in favour of a proper practice being followed in all Government Departments, but he could not say that in this matter there was a great grievance. Inquiry had been made through all the inspectors, and it was found that such school books as were published in Scotland were perfectly orthodox and always used "British" A certain number of books published in England used "English" perhaps in an improper sense, but after all history was not all taught out of school books. He could scarcely promise that they were going to re-edit Macaulay, and Green's "Short History of the English People" with a view to the use of the proper word. Accordingly he did not think that the Department should exercise very rigid supervision in this matter, while making it quite clear that the word "British" ought to be used. When he heard this subject unduly pressed it reminded him of the gentleman who was sent down in the wrong place to dinner, and evidently did not know his own social position. He would recommend the hon. Member for Banffshire to adopt the attitude adopted by the First Lord of the Treasury, and, in a more humble manner, by himself, and feel so sure that he did the right thing in being born a Scotchman, that he need never worry about it. The Scottish people could afford to treat with a certain amount of disregard these little slips in the use of the wrong word in school books, and he saw no reason why on account of these slips such school books should be placed on an index expurgatorius. He thought he had now dealt with all the special topics which had been raised. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark dealt with the general question; and he listened, as he always did, to the hon. Gentleman with rapt interest, but the hon. Gentleman was really laudator temporis acti. He longed for the old days when there were standards and payments by results, but his speech did not contain very much practical suggestion.


said he thought the answer of the Lord Advocate with reference to the circular was extremely unsatisfactory; indeed he did not think that the hon. Gentleman made any proper answer at all. The leaving certificate was after all the highest certificate for secondary education that could be given, and at present the Department refused to give it for two modern languages. The Lord Advocate said there was a commercial certificate, and that a commercial man ought to accept a clerk with that certificate rather than a clerk with a leaving certificate. He did not agree. A clerk who was educated in modern languages up to the age of seventeen was likely to be better than one who had only been educated up to the age of sixteen. To refuse a certificate in such circumstances was to degrade modern languages and to do a great evil to the commercial life of the community. On that ground he begged to move the reduction of the vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £808,728, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Crombie.)


supported the Motion. With reference to the remission of the rates, if it was to be done, it ought to be given in proportion to the burden of the rates. He remembered once sitting on a parochial board where it was suggested that a penny should be put on the rates for the sake of appearances, to avoid conducting education at a profit. That, he thought, might occur in certain parishes if the rates were to be relieved. The remission ought to be distributed in such a way as to relieve burdens where they seriously interfered with education. He could conceive nothing worse than the scheme of relief of the rates provided in the Minute. He thought the Department was extraordinarily independent of Parliament in this matter; and it was high time that the Department should be once more brought under its control. He supported the reduction, though he felt obliged for the original statement of the Lord Advocate and for the trouble he had taken in replying to the questions which had been asked.


also supported the Motion in the interests of the unfortunate schools in the Highlands which have not, cannot have, and ought not to have, two certificated teachers.


said he could not allow Circular 374 to be dismissed with such unjust aspersions on its character. He did not think the hon. Member for Kincardineshire had at all realised the position.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question. Debate resumed.


said it was perfectly clear that if the circular were read—

And, it being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.