§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the chair.]
§ Clause 2.
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said in moving the postponement of Clause 2, he might base his Motion on the terms in which Clause 2 was expressed. This was only another example of the inveterate reluctance of the framers of the Bill to put into the body of it a definite statement of what it was they wished the House to enact. Clause 2 referred to a schedule, and he did not think, in view of the 1162 debates which took place on the Act of last year, that it was quite a safe thing to defer such an important matter as the precise constitution of the Education Committee of the London education authority, to a schedule which might, or might not, be discussed, and which they might, or might not, be able to amend, and the discussion on which would depend upon the exigencies of Parliamentary time. He suggested the further consideration of Clause 2 and the setting up of the Education Committee of the London education authority because, in the present proposal, the Committee was to contain some representatives of the Metropolitan Borough Councils. So far as he could see, the reason for the proposal of the Government that the Education Committee and the London education authority should contain representatives of the Borough Councils was that, in Clause 3 the councils of the Metropolitan Boroughs were to be given certain managerial powers over certain elementary schools. It might be perfectly right and proper that there should be a representative of each Metropolitan Borough on the Education Committee if the Borough Councils were, by the 1163 Bill, or the discussion on Clause 3, made an integral and essential part of the management or administration of the education of the Metropolis; but the Committee did not and could not determine, until they got to Clause 3, whether these Borough Councils should become an integral and essential part of the administration of education for London. For his part, on the discussion which would take place on Clause 3 would depend very largely the vote he intended to give on Clause 2. The Bill drew a distinction between the local management of one class of elementary and the local management of another Class of elementary school. That distinction having been set up, it might be necessary, in order to maintain that co-ordination, the principles of which he had endeavoured to vindicate against the attacks made upon them, not only between elementary and secondary education but also between the two forms of elementary education, that of the provided schools with which the Committee of the London education authority had to deal directly and in a managerial manner, and that of the voluntary schools which are to be handed over to the representatives of the Borough Councils, to deal directly with in a managerial manner. If that distinction was to be maintained he foresaw a great danger to proper co-ordination. He was opposed in principle to the representation of Metropolitan Borough Councils on the Education Committee of the London County Council. So far as Clause 2 was concerned he was opposed to it and would have to vote against it, but his view might be profoundly modified by the discussion on Clause 3. He submitted to the hon. Baronet that he was pursuing a less desirable and less logical course in proceeding from the educational authority downwards, setting up the constitution of the educational authority which was involved in the nature of the work which the various units of that education authority were to represent on it, and last of all to proceed to consider what, if any, managerial work those representatives were to possess and represent on the managerial Committee. The proper plan would have been to proceed the other way. The Committee should first of all decide whether any managerial work of the schools should be taken out of the hands of the central authority and put 1164 into other hands except by the will of the central authority, with power to devolve such part as it chose. In this matter they had departed from the principles of the Act of 1902. He submitted that the Committee ought to consider Clause 3 before proceeding to consider how the education authority should be constituted. Until they considered Clause 3 they did not know the amount of work which had to be done by the Committee, and that was obviously a reason why they should discuss Clause 3 first. He appealed to the Committee therefore to postpone Clause 2. He begged to move that Clause 2 be postponed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That Clause 2 be postponed."—(Mr Yoxall.)
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON, Oxford University)
said no doubt the postponement of one clause in order to take the discussion of another first was a matter of convenience which might be discussed without going into the details of the clauses. He was rather at a loss to understand the ground on which the hon. Member had moved the postponement of Clause 2, because, although he had dwelt at great length upon the importance of discussing Clause 3 before Clause 2, he had noticed that having postponed Clause 2 the hon. Member had an Amendment on the Paper to postpone Clause 3 in order to discuss Clause 4, so that very great importance could not be attached to the hon. Member's argument in favour of postponing Clause 2. He asked the Committee to proceed at once with the discussion of the clause. The first clause, he said, determined the elementary education authority; Clause 2 determined the Education Committee, with the assistance of which the authority should work. He proposed, as soon as the Committee came to the discussion of Clause 2, to propose an Amendment which would bring the constitution of the Committee into the clause. It was the natural course after determining the education authority to determine the Education Committee, and then to pass on to details of management.
§ MR. CORRIE GRANT (Warickshire, Rugby)
said no doubt the arguments of the hon. Baronet were effective from his point of view, but when they looked at the Bill the arguments of his hon. friend for the postponement of the clause were very strong indeed. One of the errors into which students of the Bill had fallen was the common error that the constitution of the Committee was the important part of this Bill; it was nothing of the kind. The vital point in the Bill, if it was to be effective, was the question of management as entrusted to the Borough Councils, and it was of great importance to settle the question of local management before proceeding to the question of the Education Committee. The House was groping its way in semidarkness, created by the Government, and men were voting for propositions on the distinct understanding that they were not to mean what they apparently meant now. That was the reason why he ventured to suggest that there was very great and sound reason for the proposal to postpone Clause 2.
§ MR. LEVY (Leicestershire, Loughborough)
thought that the Committee ought to be made acquainted with the intentions of the Government before passing the clause. It would be an absurd thing to allow this clause to pass unless the Committee had some definite understanding from the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. There was hardly a Member in the House who had a really true knowledge of what the ideas of the Government were in this matter, and it was not too much to ask that there should be some definite understanding as to what the Government meant before they passed Clause 2.
§ MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
said that if the clause were not discussed it would be useless to take up the following clause. He made an appeal to the hon. Member for Nottingham not to persist in his Motion for the postponement of the clause. He asked that the clause should be immediately discussed because of the desire in all parts of London to understand what the Government really meant. His constituents were anxiously waiting to know what the Government intended 1166 to do about the London Boroughs, who all had representation on the Committee in the Bill, but were unfortunately threatened with a grouping into eleven electoral districts, the local details of which were injurious to his constituents.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
The argument for postponing Clause 2 until they had discussed Clause 3 was that until they knew what were going to be the local powers of management they were not in a position to know how far they were entitled to double representation. They could not discuss the merits of Clause 3 because they had not the faintest idea what the Government meant. They knew that, as the clause stood, the Borough Councils would have control—
Surely it will be better to wait until the clause is brought on. Hon. Members must limit their remarks strictly to the question of postponement.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said that until they got to Clause 3 they really did not know how far they were prepared to give the County Council double representation. It was on that ground that he should support his hon. friend's Motion.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
said it was quite right that all the arguments should be limited to the question as to why this clause ought to be postponed. The effect of this clause was to constitute a schedule, but there could be no schedule until some provision authorising it had been carried. He should support this Motion because he was not certain that there need be a first schedule. He did not think that was a thing which the Chairman could rule out of order.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said he was now arguing whether Clause 2 ought or ought not to be postponed. He was not 1167 satisfied that there ought to be a schedule to the Bill at a 1. Clause 2 seemed to him to be a meaningless clause until they knew whether Clause 3 would be part of the Bill.
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tyd||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Helme, Norval Watson||Shackleton, David James|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Bell, Richard||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Brigg, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Burt, Thomas||Joicey, Sir James||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Cameron, Robert||Lambert, George||Thomas, Sir A. (Glan., E.)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Thomas, F. Freeman (Hastings)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Levy, Maurice||Tomkinson, James|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lloyd-George, David||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lough, Thomas||Weir, James Galloway|
|Edwards, Frank||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. Huddersf'd|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Roe, Sir Thomas||Mr. Yoxall and Mr.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Runciman, Walter||Corrie Grant.|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Donelan, Captain A.||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lawson, John Grant|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Leamy, Edmund|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Duke, Henry Edward||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Austin, Sir John||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lundon, W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Fison, Frederick William||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Flower, Ernest||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Bignold, Arthur||Flynn, James Christopher||Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Forster, Henry William||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Fyler John Arthur||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Galloway, William Johnson||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute|
|Bull, William James||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Gordon, Hn. J. E. Elgin & Nairn||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Gordon, Maj Evans- (Tr. Hmlts||Myers, William Henry|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Chapman, Edward||Graham, Henry Robert||Peel, Hn. Wm. R. Wellesley|
|Charrington, Spencer||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hayden, John Patrick||Purvis, Robert|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Helder, Augustus||Rankin, Sir James|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert L.||Redmond, Jn. E. (Waterford)|
|Cranborne, Lord||Hoult, Joseph||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Cullinan, J.||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Joyce, Michael||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Denny, Colonel||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Keswick, William||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C.||Kimber, Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided; Ayes, 68; Noes, 133. (Division List No. 92).
|Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyneside||Sullivan, Donal||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)|
|Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Spear, John Ward||Thorburn, Sir Walter||Wylie, Alexander|
|Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)||Thornton, Percy M.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Tuke, Sir John Batty||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stock, James Henry||Valentia, Viscount||Mr. Alexander Acland-|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that in moving this Amendment he thought he should be in order in discussing the further consequential Amendments which stood in his name, the object of which was to bring into this clause the constitution of the Committee which it was proposed to provide for the local education authority. When the Bill was introduced the provision for the constitution of the Committee was in the schedule. It was thought necessary, as he explained at the time, that the Committee should be constituted by Parliament, because the interests of London were so different from those of other parts of the country with respect to the various bodies, persons, and educational interests which needed to be represented, and that the matter should not be settled between the London County Council and the Board of Education. The Government had, therefore, decided to provide for the constitution of the Committee in the Bill. It would not have been desirable that the Board of Education should be called on to decide whether or not the boroughs should be represented on the Education Committee, and it was better that a matter on which there was a considerable difference of opinion should be settled once for all by Parliament. In the composition of the Committee they had to consider what were the main objects of this Bill. As stated by the Prime Minister in the debate on Second Reading those objects were, first, that the London County Council should be the central educational authority for London, and, secondly, that they should endeavour to relieve the London County Council of some of the burden of administration by devising a decentralising process which would confer the duties of management, as distinguished from educational control, on the boroughs. That being so, it was fairly obvious that the Committee should consist of three groups. There was, first of all, the group con- 1170 sisting of those members of the education authority itself who must represent it on the Committee; next there was the miscellaneous group of persons, who had to be appointed by the education authority, who were to represent the various bodies who contributed to the education of London; the voluntary schools, women, and the great schools and universities with which London was studded; and, lastly, there were the boroughs. There were several reasons why the boroughs should be represented on the Committee. It was not an unknown practice—though he would hardly call that a practice, which had sprung into existence since the Education Act became law—for English counties to provide on their Committees for a representation of large boroughs within their area. Cambridgeshire, for instance, had provided for the representation of the town of Cambridge; both divisions of Suffolk had provided for the representation of boroughs within their area, Derbyshire had given a place on its Committee to the county borough of Derby, and Westmorland to the borough of Kendal.
All these illustrations showed that the counties had been not unwilling to place the large urban districts within their area upon their Committees; and they had many demands by smaller urban districts to be represented on the County Committee, these representations which had been laid before the County Councils, not having always been accepted. There was another reason, which he thought was the reason why these boroughs were constituted—namely, that it was desirable in London to endeavour to excite local interest in matters of local concern, and that boroughs, which had much to do with the detailed local government of London, should be interested in what must be not merely a matter of general London interest but also of local concern, the education of the children in the respective boroughs. Lastly, if the boroughs were to have the powers of management which it was the principle of the Bill to 1171 assign to them, with a view of relieving the County Council of the excessive burden of administration, it was important that there should be links on the Committee between the central authority and the boroughs. The Committee as first constituted in the Bill consisted of thirty-six representatives of the County Council; each borough had one member with the exception of the City and Westminster, which had two members; and there were twenty-five representatives of outside bodies, whom for shortness he would call outsiders. It had been suggested frequently in the course of the debate that one purpose in the mind of those who framed the Bill was, in the composition of the Committee, in some way or other to baffle or interfere with the free action of the London County Council. It had been suggested that they desired to place the boroughs on the Committee as a counterpoise to the County Council. As far as he was concerned, no such idea had been present to his mind. It was very important that the boroughs, from their local interest and the duties they would have to discharge as managers, should be represented on the Committee; and it did not occur to him that the County Council, having so large a number as thirty-six of its members on the Committee, and also appointing twenty-five other persons, would have any hesitation in accepting the position as one which gave it a dominant influence, if not an actual majority, on the Committee. That, he was afraid, was not the view of the London County Council, and it was not the view of many of their friends on that side of the House, as well as of many Members on the other side. Many of their friends on that side, having in view the fact that the counties throughout England had been allowed to have a majority in most cases—he might say that in all cases they had provided themselves with a majority on their Committees—thought that the London County Council should not be in a different position and should have a majority on its Committee. That being so, the Government were prepared to accept that view of the matter, and to constitute such a Com- 1172 mittee as would assure to the London County Council not only that it was the dominant influence, but that it was to have a majority and the control of this Committee; and thus to show that there was no sinister desire to baffle its influence on its own Committee. That having been decided upon, there came a difficult arithmetical problem—how to represent the boroughs consistently with the London County Council having a majority on the Committee. It was possible to remove the boroughs, but that, for the reasons he had stated, they were unwilling to do. It was possible to increase the size of the County Council, but that was a matter which could hardly be dealt with in this Bill. It was possible also to invite the County Council to place as many of its members as it pleased on the Committee; but it was thought, he believed with reason, that would make too large a demand on the resources of the County Council. Having set aside various other fancy schemes and devices which naturally occurred to them in the course of the solution of this problem, they had to fall back on the method of grouping the boroughs. It was not an unfamiliar practice in our constitutional development. By this means they provided the City with one member, and there would be eleven other representatives of the boroughs on the Committee, grouped in accordance with the schedule which was now before the House. He would not now enter into the merits of that schedule, which would have to be discussed hereafter.
They proposed to ask the London County Council to contribute forty two members; there would be the twelve representatives of the boroughs, and the twenty-five outsiders would remain. The County Council could choose members, not exceeding five, of the present London School Board if they so pleased. By this means the County Council would be assured of a permanent working majority on its own Committee, and it would thus be able to have the expert advice of persons of experience in education and the management of schools. They hoped that the boroughs, whose local interest it was desired to stimulate, would be able to give further assistance in the work of management; but this he would explain on the next clause, and he 1173 trusted his explanation would clear up some of the misunderstandings which were perhaps inevitable. They hoped that the Committee, under the great authority of the London County Council, would be able to work together for the benefit of the education of London.
In page 1, line 8, at beginning, to insert the words 'as ordinarily constituted.'"—(Sir William Anson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said it was a little difficult to discuss this great change on the present Amendment. He thought the position of the Borough Councils on the board of management was more important than their representation on the statutory Committee. He did not think the hon. Gentleman quite appreciated the position in which the Committee stood. A few weeks ago they had a Bill introduced to which, they were entitled to assume, the Government had given considerable thought and care. The hon. Gentleman then laid down two propositions as absolutely uncontroversial in regard to Borough Council representation. One was that the Borough Councils should be represented on the central authority, and the other was that the members of the Committee ought to be members of the Borough Council. The idea of the Government clearly was that each Borough Council should have one representative—and, in some cases, two—on the central authority. In the course of the debate that was seen to be an untenable position, and the Government, having re-considered the matter, had now produced another scheme. He confessed that there was something to be said for the original scheme of the Bill giving direct representation to each Borough Council on the Education Committee, but he could find nothing to say in favour of the proposal now submitted by the Government. If the original proposal was somewhat ludicrous, the present one was surely grotesque, viz., that the boroughs should be grouped without any reference to any local considerations, or without any local 1174 connection with one another. To ask twenty-nine boroughs to elect between them twelve members of the statutory Committee was an extraordinary proposal.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education had spoken of his desire to get rid of fancy devices. His proposal was about the fanciest of fancy devices, and the most ridiculous they could possibly conceive. Surely a simple solution of the difficulty would have been to adopt the principle of the Act of last year and put the London County Council in the same position as the provincial County Councils had been placed. He asked the Committee to seriously consider what advantage could accrue from the proposal of the Government—what would be the advantage to the County Council, to the Borough Councils, or to the ratepayers and others who took an interest in London education. It was quite true that in other parts of the country the County Councils had elected outsiders to the Education Committee, and no doubt that was intended by the Act of last year. But the difference between the Act of last year and the present Bill was that, under the former there was no compulsion to elect a single outside person, while under the present Bill there was no control over the selection of twelve, and a very limited control in regard to twenty-five others. The question had been raised whether the London County Council could undertake the enormous work of elementary education in London. In his opinion it would only be possible for it to do so by delegation to an enormous extent. No central body, hampered and controlled in the way the Bill proposed, could do it. In moving the Second Reading of the Bill, the hon. Gentleman said he was giving the London County Council the fullest assistance in regard to their work, but it appeared to him that the present proposal gave them no assistance in any sense of the term. The twelve borough councillors who were to be brought into the work would lead to friction; they would hamper the County Council in its work, and, so far as they were representative, they would not help to unity and co-ordination, but would lead to disunion. The hon. Gentleman said the House had decided that the 1175 County Council ought to have a majority, and that he was in this proposal falling in with the views so expressed. The proposal was that there should be forty-two county councillors, twelve borough councillors, and twenty-five outsiders. In the appointment of its ordinary committees, the County Council gave about one-third of the representation to the Moderates, who were the minority. If this method were adopted in regard to the Education Committee, the County Council representation would consist of twenty-eight Progressives and fourteen Moderates. The representatives of the Borough Councils, especially under the grouping now proposed, would be in almost every case Moderates. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No party politics."] Unfortunately there would be party politics. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No," and "Why"] The constitution of the Committee would then be twenty-eight Progressives and twenty-six Moderates. That, he feared, would be a moat fatal thing for the work of the London County Council in regard to education. He was afraid the result would be that, in selecting its own representatives on the Committee, the County Council would feel it its duty to appoint all Progressives and no Moderates, and that when it came to the appointment of what the hon. Gentleman had called "the outsiders," they would, instead of basing their choice on purely educational grounds, see how far they could get supporters of their own Party. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] The Water Board afforded them an object-lesson in this respect. No one would deny that the last County Council election turned on the water question—on whether the London County Council should be the water authority. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, he took some part in the election, and he ventured to assert that a majority of Progressives was returned chiefly on the water question. But the voice of the electors had been absolutely disregarded, and the Water Board created by the Government was in the hands of the Moderates. That was what he was afraid of in regard to education. He would be sorry to see political questions raised in connection with the election of the education authority, but he maintained that that would be the result of bringing in the Borough Councils. What advantage would the 1176 Bill give to the Borough Councils themselves? It seemed to him that the Government were giving the Borough Councils too little and too much. They were not giving them enough to give them an interest in education or any practical control of the educational policy of the central body, but they were giving them enough to lead to considerable friction. He would like to know how the twelve councillors to be chosen by the grouped boroughs were to be elected.
We are now discussing the general principle of the Amendment. That point must be raised on the Schedule.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
But surely it is of great importance when we are wondering whether there ought to be twelve borough councillors or not on this central body, to know how they are going to be elected, and if they are likely to be really representative.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said he would not press the point further. What he wished to point out was that the twelve borough councillors would not have as good a knowledge of the educational needs of the districts they would represent as members of the County Council would have, and the ordinary ratepayers would have no opportunity of expressing their opinion in reference to the selection and the conduct of these twelve borough councillors. The President of the Local Government Board had more than once said that he wanted to bring local knowledge into these matters. Did he think the proposal of the Government would secure that? He for one would not oppose it, but he would like to ask how one representative from Battersea, representing an area with half a million of population, could have any local knowledge of the educational requirements of that district? How was popular control to be had over the twelve borough councillors? There was something to be said in favour of interesting the Borough Councils in the work of education by giving them some practical representation on the central 1177 body, but it would be absurd to suppose their interest in education would be aroused by placing twelve councillors out of 1,500 on the education authority. The Government had refused to accept an ad hoc body, and the only possible mode of carrying on the work of education was to make the County Council absolutely supreme from top to bottom, absolutely supreme in the education authority, and in the management of the schools. The proposal of the Government in regard to the twelve borough councillors was ludicrous and grotesque. He objected to the proposal of the Government to hand over the management of the schools to the Borough Councils. He believed it would so hamper the central authority that the educational work of London could not be properly carried out, and that at any rate it would be carried out in a worse way than at present.
§ MR. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)
regretted that the Government had not followed in full the Act of last year. The County Council, having been chosen by the Government as the education authority for London, ought to have an effective majority on the Committee, and it was essential that the electors should be able to fix the responsibility for the work on one particular body. He recognised that the proposed Amendment of the Government improved the situation to a considerable extent, but it was unfortunate that it should practically suggest that it was not advisable to appoint any School Board representatives, because if such representatives were appointed the Council's majority would disappear. Moreover, he would have preferred the absence rather than the company of the twelve representatives of the Borough Councils. He had no fear of the London County Council in educational matters. His experience of the work of the Technical Education Board had shown him that they were not influenced by religious, sectional, or political considerations, and he had no reason to doubt that a Committee framed on similar lines to deal with elementary as well as technical education would act in precisely the same manner. As to the compromise which the Government had 1178 proposed, it would be easy to point out the extraordinary inequalities of rateable value, population, numbers of schools, and children, and so on, as between the various boroughs which the twelve borough councillors would have to represent. It was clear that in some instances they would have the difficult task of trying to represent very diverse interests. He should like to suggest that possibly some of the difficulty of selecting these gentlemen might be obviated if they were not necessarily members of the Borough Councils. He had still some hope, however, that the Government might return to their better frame of mind of last year, and that even now they might determine to leave the County Council the responsibility of choosing their own Education Committee.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
earnestly hoped the Government would not at this point come to a final conclusion on the question here involved. By accepting the proposal to treat the London County Council in the same manner as other County Councils had been treated they would extricate them selves from the position in which they were now placed; or, if they did not care to do that, they would leave this matter open as they did the case of the optional clause last year, when the House of Commons, he could almost guarantee, would extricate them from their difficulty. The idea of an Education Committee was derived from the Technical Instruction Act, in which permissive power was given to local authorities to appoint a Committee, and to delegate to that Committee such powers as the local authority thought desirable. That power was used by many local authorities, and large powers were delegated to the Committees. The arrangement worked well, and among such Committees that of the London County Council was considered the model and example. That Committee, which was not composed exclusively of members of the County Council, but included representatives of educational and other interests in the Metropolis, gave the utmost satisfaction and had the entire confidence of the Council. With experience of the Technical Instruction Act, the Act of last year gave to every local authority similar powers; and if 1179 the present Bill passed in the form contemplated by the Government, there would be the extraordinary result that every education authority in the country would have the power of drawing up its own scheme and appointing its own Committee, with the singular exception of the greatest of them all, which furnished the model for the Bill of last year. Unrestrained by legislation, the Council would appoint a Committee in which it would have implicit confidence, would determine the numbers, how many members should be Councillors, what outside members should be appointed, and to what extent women should be represented on the Committee. These and similar questions the London County Council would be far more competent to determine than the Committee of the House. If the Government persisted in refusing to allow the London County Council the power which every other County and Borough Council in England and Wales possessed, and fixed upon that Council a Committee of which the Council did not approve and in which it had no confidence, the Council might either itself review the acts of the Statutory Committee, or appoint a Committee of its own to which might be entrusted the duty of reviewing the reports and proceedings of the Statutory Committee, and as the supreme authority the Council might act upon the recommendations of its own Committee. Such an absurd arrangement would not conduce to the smooth working of the Act and the interest of education. He felt sure the Government, in the interval before the vote was taken, would either come to the conclusion to abandon the scheme placed on the Notice Paper or leave the House of Commons to decide, after hearing all that could be said on the subject, whether the London County Council, as the educational authority for London, should have powers similar to those possessed by every other educational authority in the country.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
, accepting the decision of the Committee to municipalise the local control of education in London, desired, as one who had some little experience of the problem to be dealt with, to do what he could to carry 1180 out municipalisation on what he considered to be the best lines. It had to be remembered that the County Council were being asked absolutely to double its operations. The Statutory Committee, as at present proposed, was to consist of forty-two county councillors, twelve borough councillors, twenty-five outsiders, and, if the Council so desired, five members of the present School Board His profound conviction was that the forty-two county councillors would not be able to devote their time to the work, with the result, unless the membership of the County Council were increased, that the work would fall into the hands of the thirty outsiders and the paid officials. That would be disastrous, and he desired to impress upon the Committee that the work could not safely be handed over to the County Council without the alteration of constitution he had suggested. They began with thirty-six representatives of the Borough Councils, then they had eleven, now they had twelve, and the clear trend of the Committee was to strike them out altogether. He believed that if it were left to the Committee they would be struck out. But he would not mind, if only provision were made for the work being done by the representatives of the ratepayers. He was profoundly convinced that under the present scheme, unless the representatives of the London County Council were strengthened, and were free to devote themselves to educational work, that work would fall into the hands of the thirty outsiders and the paid officials, and to that he objected most strongly. That would not be municipalisation. It would be a spurious form of municipalisation with which he, for one, would have nothing to do.
On the Technical Instruction Board he found from the minutes that many important resolutions involving considerable expenditure were passed by a majority of outsiders. It was true that the minutes were submitted to the County Council; but the Council never went into the details of each minute. He was anxious to secure a sufficient number of representatives of the ratepayers to make it certain that the work would not be done by outsiders, to which he strongly objected. Clause 3 was closely associated with this proposal. Under Clause 3 it was proposed to give the 1181 Borough Councils certain powers; but now that their representatives were cut down to twelve, and possibly might be struck out altogether, there would have probably been a reaction in favour of them when it came to the question of management. His position was quite clear. He did not want the Borough Councils to have the power of management or of electing teachers or selecting sites; and he did not, therefore, want a reaction in their favour. He hoped the Committee would agree that if this work was to be given to the County Council, the Council must be given the men to carry it out. That could not be done under the present Bill; but he should ask the Government for a definite pledge that provision would be made at the earliest possible date to secure that the County Council should be given a sufficient number of men to do this work. Unless that pledge were given he would do his best in London from now until the County Council election to advocate that the County Council should not take this work on unless they were given a sufficient number of men to carry it out. The practical result of the present proposal would be that the daily administrative work would be done by thirty persons not responsible to the ratepayers. The Committee did not realise the enormous amount of work the Council was being asked to undertake, and anxious as he was that the County Council should do it, he could not blindly accept a position in which it would be physically impossible for the Council to carry on the work. Therefore, he would earnestly urge the Committee to consider the absolutely vital necessity of increasing the County Council.
§ SIR GEORGE FARDELL (Paddington, S.)
said he should always advocate the representation of the Borough Councils on the new education authority, because he believed it would be a link between the Borough Councils and the London County Council. The necessity for that link was shown by the fact that the majority of the County Council did not reside in the districts they represented. The non-resident Members were sixty-two as against fifty-two resident Members, and he was very much 1182 struck with the observation which fell from the hon. Member for Poplar as to the political aspect of handing over a certain amount of the representation to the Borough Councils. He cordially agreed that it would be extremely detrimental if any such policy were introduced; but he hoped and believed that that would not be the case. He had been a member of one of these local bodies for twenty-seven years, first as a vestryman and then as a Borough Councillor, and he was surprised to hear the opinion so often expressed in the debate that the Borough Councils were fit to be entrusted only with such work as the cleansing of the streets and various matters of that kind. During his twenty-seven years' experience he had seen not only the work but the interest taken in the work by individual members develop greatly. It was true that in the old vestry days things were not always as they should be; but the members of the present Borough Councils were actuated by a real interest in their work; and his chief reason for advocating the linking of the Borough Councils with the County Council in the control of education was that it would induce the best men of the district to offer their services to the ratepayers. If he did not honestly and sincerely believe that it would be to the advantage of London to include the Borough Councils in the work of education, he would not for one moment advocate it. He had not the advantage of the experience, as regarded educational matters, of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, whom they all recognised as a great authority; but he wished to quote the opinion of another authority, Sir Charles Elliott, who in a letter to The Times yesterday wrote—The first principle will no doubt be carried into effect by creating an Educational Committee in which the London County Council will be predominant, aided by a competent body of experts; and if it is found necessary to increase the number of members of the Council in order to ensure this predominance, the Premier has declared himself ready to adopt that course. The second is the far-reaching and vivifying principle of a large devolution of management to the Town Councils.That, he believed, was the true way to deal with this question. His hon. and learned friend the Member for the Stretford Division, in a very excellent speech, asked why London should be treated differently from the country. 1183 The reason was this—in the county of Lancaster, for instance, the large boroughs were distributed over a large area, but in London the twenty-eight boroughs were all in proximity to one another. Had those boroughs been scattered over the 556 square miles of the County of London, including the water area, there would be no question whatever that each of them would be entitled to be represented. He should prefer the thirty-one members of the Borough Councils rather than the twelve; but if there were thirty-one members of the Borough Councils in addition to twenty-five other members, the County Council would be in a minority, and it might be said that in such a large Committee it would not be necessary to delegate any of the work at all. He would certainly prefer the grouping of the boroughs to no representation at all, and he therefore hoped the Committee would agree to the proposal, and that the Borough Councils would realise that they were coadjutors with the County Council in carrying into effect a great work in the interests of London.
§ SIR W. BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
said he should not have intervened in the debate had not the Secretary to the Board of Education—no doubt under a misapprehension—dragged his own County Council into the fray. The hon. Gentleman stated that the County Council of Suffolk had made provision for the representation of non-county boroughs in their scheme; but those representatives were not nominated by the boroughs themselves. It was thought that if twenty-four members were voted for there might not be a representative of Bury elected, and therefore it was provided that one at least of the elected members should be one of the councillors for Bury. That was not the scheme proposed in the Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said this revised scheme did not seem to have a friend anywhere. He thought the Metropolitan boroughs had been utterly neglected and deserted by their parents; and he could not think it fair that such a large borough as Islington, with a population of 350,000, should be 1184 represented by half a member. Stoke Newington and Islington were to elect one member, and that would satisfy neither. Under the original scheme he thought the Borough Councils did not get sufficient representation, but the present system gave no representation at all, and he strongly objected to it. He thought they might fairly ask that the Act of last year should be maintained, allowing, as it did, boroughs of 10,000 and upwards to have certain rights. That was the only logical solution, and it was the only scheme that would work. The present proposal would lead to endless friction. It had only lasted a week and a change would be seen before long.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
said that the Committee had heard a specimen of almost every opinion that could be held on the constitution of the Education Committee. They had heard the views of the hon. Member who had just sat down and who would like to see education confined to the Borough Councils, and the views of hon. Members who would like education taken away from the Borough Councils and given to the County Council, and, though it was possible that there might be further variations of the possible schemes which ingenuity might devise, he felt that his own powers of imagination rather failed to suggest what alterations and suggestions might be made. He would remind the Committee of the fundamental difficulties of the situation. By universal consent he believed that it was admitted the London problem stood so much by itself as regarded the organisation of an Education Committee that it was impossible to discuss it on the same footing and plane with the education authorities which were constructed for every other part of the country. That separation of London from every other municipality showed that London occupied absolutely a unique position; and, therefore, when his right hon. friend the Member for Cambridge University and others, who spoke with great authority on questions of this sort, reproached the Government with having simply transferred the provisions of last year's Act to this year's Bill, they ignored the reasons which made the Government omit London 1185 from last year's Act. They forgot the special and peculiar circumstances which had made London in the past, and which was making London in the present, and would make London, doubtless, in the future a problem of very great difficulty for all who had to deal with the problems of local government in this country. When they were dealing with a community of 5,000,000 of persons the ordinary rules governing municipal institutions must have exceptions. They could not treat a community bigger than many European States simply as a considerable borough situated in a county. They must make some modification and introduce what might be called some illogicalities in the system which it was found possible to adapt to other parts of country. That was the problem the Government had to deal with. He was ready to admit at once that it was impossible to have a neat logical solution which every framer of a Bill desired to have, which everyone who had to defend it desired to have, because it made debate so much easier. But it really could not be carried out with regard to London. There were hon. Members on both sides who would like to see the whole of the education of London handed over to the County Council precisely as in Manchester.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That was what they had said. The hon. Member for North Camberwell did not agree with him or with the hon. Gentleman who took that simple and clean-cut issue, and he did not think that the House ought to take it. London was not a great homogeneous body of 5,000,000 of British citizens. It was that and it was much more. It was a body which had not a single central body popularly elected; it was a body which from time immemorial had been broken up into smaller communities with their own municipal institutions.
§ MR. CORRIE GRANT
Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me? It is a perfectly obvious fact that London has not been governed in the way spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman until the Metropolis Management Act of 1855.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that the hon. Gentleman was quite mistaken. The fact of the existence of the City—which, he supposed, the hon. Member had heard of—would alone prove that he was wrong. London had from time immemorial been broken up into communities which had their own municipal life. And the House had, with the common consent of both sides, desired to revive and strengthen and regularise that municipal life in respect of the various communities of which the great Metropolis now consisted. These communities were no small and insignificant bodies; and if the House of Commons were to attempt to centralise the whole work of education on the County Council, ignoring absolutely not only the historic traditions of these districts, and the work which they had done, they would in the name of municipalisation—which was supposed to be the opposite of centralisation—be carrying out a very dangerous work of over-centralisation, which, he thought, if possible, they ought to avoid. That being the general principle, and it being at the same time quite obvious that the County Council must be made the education authority, ought less to be done for the Borough Councils than was proposed to be done by the Amendment before the Committee? The Government originally had proposed to do more; and they had been reproached for changing their plans, as if it showed a singular and extraordinary indecision on the part of the Government not to know precisely what would please every Londoner, and what would be agreeable to all the districts concerned. If any one thought that he could easily discover exactly what every Londoner desired, or what every member of the County Council and of the Borough Councils desired—or might he be profane enough to say, what every Member of Parliament representing a London constituency desired—let him try it, and he would soon find his mistake. He was not ashamed to admit that the Government were impressed during the earlier debates on this Bill with the argument that if the County Council were not given an absolute majority on its own Committee there would be a danger that the Council would find itself in opposition to its own Committee; that it would look upon the work of the Committee with such suspicion as would require it 1187 to supervise even the minutiœ of the Committee's work, and possibly to throw itself into sharp antagonism with a body which ought to be in no sense the Council's equal and still less its master. Those arguments were powerfully addressed to the House, and the Government was greatly impressed by them.
There were, therefore, only two alternatives open to the Government consistent with the broad policy of keeping the County Council the supreme authority, and of giving the boroughs not only a place as bodies to whom powers might be delegated, but also some representation upon the Committee. There were two methods by which the Government might obviate the difficulty which he had described. One was so to increase the numbers of the County Council that they would be able to outvote the representatives of the boroughs, even if every borough were represented. The other plan was that which had been adopted. The first was a most attractive scheme, and there was a great deal to be said for it. But there was one thing to be said against it, which was that it would manifestly overtax the County Council. The hon. Member for Camberwell had persistently told the House that, even without that additional burden, the County Council could not undertake the duty. He hoped the hon. Member was incorrect, but he was sure that the hon. Member was right in saying that, if upon the County Council had been thrown the burden of finding a number of men to work this Committee in excess of the total representation of the boroughs and of the "outsiders," as they were called, the Council would have been asked to perform a task for which their present numbers were totally inadequate. In this Bill there ought to be no attempt to deal with the numbers of the County Council. The time might come when not only the County Council but other great municipal bodies might say that with the growth of civilisation, with the increasing decentralisation, and with the additional work which was thrown on them every session, their present numbers were not adequate. That was possible. He did not deny or minimise it; and when that was proved, they would have to come to that House, and that House would have to remedy the evil. But he did not wish, and he was 1188 sure the House did not wish, to deal with the numbers of the County Council on this Bill. That being so, they must not deliberately overload the County Council.
That conclusion being accepted, he would ask the House whether there was any way of giving the municipalities some position upon this Committee except the way which the Government adopted. He himself thought there was none. And, as he would view with the greatest regret the exclusion of these bodies, which he hoped were going to be great bodies, which, he hoped, as their life went on, were going more and more to absorb some of the best elements of public and municipal spirit within their limits, then if they were going to give them their proper place, or rather any place at all on this body, surely they could not have done it in a manner which would produce less friction, overload the machine less, or leave the power of what must be the supreme educational authority in the Metropolis more untouched and unimpaired. Was any plan better than the one the Government had devised to be suggested? He did not think there was; and he ventured to say that that House and that Committee were not spending their time well in proving this or that small logical objection against the scheme. That such objections existed he freely admitted. They existed against any scheme which any Government or any Minister could contrive when dealing with so exceptional and complex an organisation as the great municipal area of London. They would never get a clean-cut, logical system of municipal government for the Metropolis as long as they insisted, as they must insist, both on keeping up municipal life in the smaller areas and having a uniform system of rating over the whole district. Let them frankly admit that; and, when they had made that admission and hon. Gentlemen had absorbed the truths which he had ventured to recommend to them, he thought they would feel that the Government had done their best to meet the special needs of a special situation, and that, on the very grounds on which they excluded London from the purview of last year's Bill, they were justified in making the variations from the scheme of the Bill of 1189 last year, which were embodied in the Amendment of his hon. friend. In these circumstances, he would suggest to the Committee that they might take a decision on the broad principle that night and proceed to discuss the special Amendment in which its details were embodied during the course of to-morrow's debate. At all events, he hoped he had said enough to show that the Government had not ignored any current of opinion which ought to influence them, and that in dealing with a very difficult and complicated proposal, they had not varied from the parent scheme of last year's Bill more than the actual necessities of the situation in London compelled them to do.
§ MR. BRYCE
said that, as he understood the Amendment, he did not see any reason why the Committee should come to any decision upon it now, for it was one which would be necessary quite apart from the particular question to which the debate had been addressed. Therefore, he would not argue against the particular Amendment, but would make a few observations upon the speech of the Prime Minister. Except by the right hon. Gentleman himself and his colleagues, no single opinion had been expressed in the debate in favour of this scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said with great truth that London was unique, and that it required special treatment. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that from time immemorial the communities of different parts of London had had a separate municipal life. Time immemorial meant the time of King Richard I., and surely the right hon. Gentleman would not say that there was more than one municipal Government in London then.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What I said was, that there were areas of London which from time immemorial had had separate municipal institutions.
§ MR. BRYCE
said if the right hon. Gentleman stated it in that qualified way he would admit that some of them had existed for a long time. The First Lord of the Treasury had argued very forcibly in favour of giving London special treatment, but all his arguments seemed to be in favour of an ad hoc authority. He came now to the practical point before 1190 the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Committee ought not to be led away by small logical objections—that it was very difficult to produce a scheme which would not be open to such objections. He agreed that that was true, and he had no wish to deal with the problem in that way. What he asked was, whether this Bill offered any prospect of a good working body, and what practical benefit it would confer. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman and of the Secretary to the Board of Education had been confined entirely to showing that it was necessary to do something for the Borough Councils. No attempt was made to show that the Borough Councils would contribute to the welfare of the scheme. The argument might have been put forward that, as the Borough Councils were to have duties of management under the Bill, it was desirable to establish some link between the local education authority and the managers. That might be a strong argument or not; but he could understand it being used if the Committee were to have had the Government plan in its original form with a member from every Borough Council sitting on the central authority. But this arrangement was not included in the present scheme.
Of what value could it be to one of four Borough Councils to have a fourth of a member? The four boroughs of Deptford, Lewisham, Greenwich, and Woolwich were to have one representative. That representative could not be in immediate communication between them and the central authority. He saw no useful purpose that representative could serve, because it would not be pretended that he would bring the element of special value into the central authority which they would otherwise like. He would go so far as to say that the interests in many cases of these contiguous boroughs might be antagonistic. Suppose there was a site to be chosen and that there was a dispute between two of the boroughs on the question where a new school was to be planted. Was the representative of these four boroughs to take the opinion of all the four and endeavour to arrange a sort of compromise, for in many cases the interests of these contiguous bodies might be antagonistic? In this matter, and in the complex method of election which it was proposed to introduce, complications 1191 and difficulties would be created for the representation of these boroughs which did not now exist in any part of our local government system. At the same time it had not been shown that any practical benefit was likely to result. There was no reason to think that people specially acquainted with the needs of the different parts of London, educationally, would be better brought in by this highly artificial scheme than by the method of selection by the London County Council. He agreed that the Government had attempted a compromise between two plans, each consistent and logical, but it did not follow necessarily that a compromise was the best solution. There might be objection to walking down the west side of a street and also objections to walking down the east side, but it did not follow that the best way was to go down the middle of the street. To take the middle course might lead to greater evils. He thought the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University would be better than that proposed, viz., to hand the whole thing over to the London County Council and make it omnipotent. They had tried to treat this question altogether apart from any spirit of recrimination, and he ventured to hope that the Government would ponder over the suggestions they had received from their own side of the House as well as from this. The question of the introduction of the twelve members was a detail; it was no more essential to the principle of the Bill than was the proposal in Clause 5 of the Bill of last year, and he could not see why the Government should not leave it to the House to determine. It was a matter which would make a great deal of difference to the smooth working of the central authority. He ventured to say that the London County Council would regard the borough representatives as something of an alien element, and therefore, for the smooth working of the measure, it would be better if that element were not introduced. He earnestly entreated the Government to consider the matter with an open mind, and not to allow any desire to maintain their scheme prevent them from arriving at a solution which would most conform to the general wish of the House.
§ MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
said that as one who was anxious to increase whenever possible the powers of the Borough Councils, he could not be accused of want of sympathy with them. He had always thought that the whole system of local government in London depended upon the smooth working between two different sets of institutions, the one central, and the other local, and the proper allocation to these of central and local duties; and that as regards the central duties the London County Council should be supreme. For this reason he was sorry to say that on this point he was in conflict with the Government and with the majority of the London Members; but he could not see that the central work of controlling the education of the whole of London could pertain to any but the central body. Much as he wished to dignify the Borough Councils, he believed it would only lead to a confusion of the principles on which the government of London rested if they encouraged the Borough Councils to think that they ought to mix themselves up with the central control of the education in London. At the same time, as the Bill was proceeded with, the Committee would be able to give them such large and interesting powers of local management that the best men and women in the localities would have a new inducement to go on to these bodies. What he had been struggling for was to secure that the London County Council should be supreme and paramount on this Committee, and that the responsibility for this work should clearly attach to that one authority. What he was afraid of was that, under the original scheme of the Government, the ordinary elector would not know whom to attack in case of extravagance, whether to lay the blame upon the London County Council or to the Borough Councils, and the consequence would be that there would be recrimination between the London County Council and the Borough Councils, and between the Borough Councils and the London County Council. He was bound to say that under the remodelled scheme it was clear that definite responsibility would attach itself to the London County Council and that if any of them complained either of extravagance or parsimony in the management of education in London, they must go direct to the London County Council. 1193 If it could be made perfectly clear that the London County Council was to be supreme, and that it was responsible for the administration of the Education Committee they had gained substantially all that they wanted. He quite understood the strong sentiment which had influenced his friends in wishing that there should be still representatives of the Borough Councils on the central Committee, but he believed that under the management of the London County Council as the central authority their interests would be amply safe-guarded, while he did not wish to encourage the unwise idea that the Borough Councils should be mixed up with the functions and work of the central authority. His only object was to make this Bill a thoroughly workable measure for the better education of London.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
said that, like the hon. Member for Chelsea, he occupied an intermediate position, and there was scarcely anything in the speech of the hon. Gentleman with which he did not agree. The one thing he cared about was to make the best of London education. Many controversies had been introduced which seemed to him not germane to making the best of London education. He had always been of opinion that the Government had a perfectly simple course before them, and that was to incorporate in this Bill the principle of their measure of last year. That was not done, and the question which now arose was why they should take a course which differed, not merely in detail, but in principle, from what was adopted in regard to the education of the country generally. He was not a London Member, but probably he had had as much to do with higher education in London as most Members of this House; and of one thing he was quite certain, and that was, that to make London educational reform a success, it must be treated as a whole. London was not an aggregate of separate boroughs—certainly not for educational purposes, at any rate. They 1194 could not take the great London educational institutions and distribute them, and split them up. Therefore, that being so, what was wanted was a single supreme educational authority to deal with the whole question of London education, and not one which represented a compromise of conflicting interests. He did not find himself in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman who led the House when he wanted to make some sort of compromise with the Borough Councils. With the hon. Member for Chelsea he believed it was a great mistake to decry the Borough Councils. These had got a future before them, and he wanted to develop them, and give them every chance; but he did not think that it would be assisting them or giving them a better chance to bring them, in the artificial way proposed in the Bill, into the management of London education. There must be one authority, supreme in London education, which must be dealt with as a whole. He quite agreed that the various bodies were brought in in a less objectionable way by the Amendment now proposed than they had been in the scheme as originally framed; but they were brought in in a fashion and form which, at any rate, lent itself to the possibility of very considerable friction. He should have understood the proposal of the Government in this Amendment if it had been designed to allow the Borough Councils to select representatives chosen for their educational efficiency, because these would be the very best men to add to the central authority. But this Amendment prevented that selection. How were these unequally yoked bodies to work together? How were they to carry on the business of selecting the best representatives to the central authority? The way in which the Amendment was framed allowed no freedom to the Borough Councils to do what he thought was the object of the Government, viz., that when they could not find any educationalist in the 1195 Councils they should take some distinguished person outside as the representative of a group of boroughs. As the Amendment now stood, it was quite impossible to carry that out. He must say that while he thought the Government had taken a better course than was originally contemplated under the Bill, they had marred that proposal by the provision that the representative of the Borough Councils must be somebody who was a borough councillor. The whole essence of this scheme was by some means or another to conciliate the interests which were causing the Government difficulty in framing the Bill. He felt that the Government had yielded too much to the pressure put upon them, not in the interests of education, but in the interests of the Borough Councils, and that being so, while he thought, with the hon. Member for Chelsea, that the Amendment made things better, he could not bring himself to believe that they had got in the interests of London education as a whole anything approaching a satisfactory solution.
§ MR. LOUGH
said that a large question had been raised by the Prime Minister when he asked the Committee to accept the principle of the representation of the Borough Councils by agreeing to the Amendment. The Prime Minister knew the ways of Parliament just as well as any other hon. Member, and he did not make that twenty minutes' speech for nothing. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was conceding all that they objected to when he reduced the number of representatives of the Borough Councils. As a matter of fact the difficulty of the situation was rather increased by the reduction in the numbers. The proposal 1196 was the most ridiculous ever made, and it would be seen that it was quite impossible for the Committee to accept it. The hon. Member for Chelsea, whom they accepted as a fair exponent of the Borough Councils, admitted that he was entirely opposed to the introduction of the representatives of the Borough Councils on the Education Committee, but the hon. Gentleman said he now occupied a middle position which enabled him to accept the decision of the Government. The hon. Gentleman should have stuck fast to his principles. The hon. Gentleman said that the rights of the Borough Councils were sufficiently preserved, but he maintained that that was not so. The rights of the Borough Councils in these matters were that their prerogatives should extend to all municipal affairs.
§ And, it being midnight, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the business.
§ Whereupon MR. GALLOWAY 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.
§ And the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.